Chapter 1

Nicole pulled into the gas station. She fixed her long blonde hair and smacked her rosy lips in the rearview mirror. It was impossible to tell she had just come off a thirty hour flight; she was perfect, cosmetics-commercial perfect. Nicole was the kind of girl that men scheme and make sacrifices to acquire as girlfriends. She was on her way to visit her boyfriend Cameron. He was going to flip when he saw her, he wasn’t expecting her for another three months. After she pumped her gas she went inside to pay the clerk, who was busy at the time attending to someone else, so she grabbed a bag of chips and texted Cameron.

The guy at the counter was buying cigarettes, and fiddled with his wallet. The run down pickup truck outside must have been his, there weren’t any other vehicles. He was tall, thin, with a military hair cut and broad shoulders. He looked like he belonged in prison. At the back of his neck a black tattoo was half hidden by the edge of his tee-shirt. He turned around and looked right at her. Unlike most people, when this guy met her gaze he held it and didn’t let go. His face was hard, like it had been cut from rock, and his mouth was brutally heavy.

His look was a bit disarming. Nicole glanced down at her phone again and pretended to be busy texting. He had bought whatever he was buying, but he wasn’t moving from the counter. She was annoyed that she had to go and pay with him standing there.

“This as well, thanks,” she said to the clerk, tossing over the bag of chips.

She gave a quick sideways glance at the man. She was trying to ignore how close he was.

“Anything else,” said the clerk, automatically.

“No. Just that,” she said.

“You’re two bucks short.”

“Sorry.” She got her purse out again.

The man next to her had stepped back, and was lighting one of his cigarettes.

“You’re an Aussie,” he said round the thing in his mouth. He had a heavy American accent.

“That’s right,” she said, smiling politely.

“Whereabouts are you from?” He sounded more human than what his look would have suggested. He had nice brown eyes.

“New South Wales,” she said.

“Sydney?”

“No.”

“That’s the only place I know,” he said, laughing. “Beautiful place—the opera building.”

“Yeah, it’s nice.” She grabbed her chips to leave.

“It was nice to meet you,” he said.

“You too,” she said, going out. She had to pee quickly before she got back in the car. It was a hire car, compact and quite cute. She liked it.

There was a sign in the bathroom that said, “Don’t spit out tobacco in our washroom.”

Nicole almost bumped into another woman who was heading out, as she was heading in.

“Oops, sorry!” said Nicole, laughing. She hated public toilets. She tried not to make contact with anything, including the people.

She came out of the stall, arranging her skirt, and washed her hands using the Dettol bottle she kept in her bag. She looked in the mirror, but didn’t bother to put on any more make up. She was still an hour and a half away from Cameron’s place. She was surprised on the way out of the bathroom by someone coming in. He hit her, put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screaming, and forced her against the wall. She looked at him in silent panic. He was pressed against her tightly. It was the tattoo guy from inside.

“That’s good. Don’t scream or anything,” he said, holding his hand over her mouth. “Just do what I tell you, and you’ll be all right.”

She nodded, whimpering a little. She didn’t know what else to do. She was praying he would take her purse and run.

“Got it?” he said. “I will fuck you up.”

She nodded again. His words brought hot tears to her eyes.

“Put your hands behind your back—right behind your back!” He grabbed her hands and put them behind her. She didn’t scream. She just stared at him, all her face quivering. He crossed her hands at the wrists, and retrieving something from his back pocket, tied them together. He was looking at her face the entire time, but his hands knew how to tie her without looking. She kept her face turned slightly. She was paralyzed. She had always thought if ever she found herself in a situation like this, she would knee the guy in the balls and run. But she just stood there, numb, and now that her hands were bound she felt completely helpless.

He suddenly took hold of her around her body, stifling her mouth, and dragged her outside. He held her so tightly, she could hardly move. She could feel his hot breath against her ear.

“Don’t scream, or you’re dead,” he said. “I’ve got a knife in my pocket. You’re moving to that truck in front.”

He half dragged and half carried her to his pickup. He opened the driver door and pushed her in. She was stunned this was happening in broad daylight. It happened so fast, she didn’t even get to see if anyone was watching. He got in after her. “Get down on the floor—crouch down there—crouch down!”

Terrified, she got on the floor between the dashboard and seats. He shoved her head down a little further, and slammed the door. He started the engine, checking to see if anybody was looking. She was watching him, and he hit the top of her head with his fist, forcing her further into the floor. He backed out, and she felt the car dip as he pulled out of the gas station parking lot, very carefully.

“Please…” she said.

“Shut the fuck up and stay down!” he said, watching the road. Every once in a while he hit her on the head or shoulders to keep her down. Driving carefully, he opened her bag and dug around. He got out her purse. “Nicole Hudson,” he said, looking at her driver’s license. “Twenty-two. That’s a good age, a sweet age. What are you doing all the way over here? Your parents know where you are?”

He kept exploring the contents of her purse, glancing constantly at the road. She had several fifties and twenties in there. She was watching him, unable to control her spasms of shivering.

“You can keep the money,” she said. “Please, just let me go.”

“I don’t want your money, girl.” He leaned over, and toyed with her hair. “You a natural blonde?”

She didn’t answer him.

He found her cell phone and switched it off. Her fastened hands twitched behind her back. She really wanted to text her boyfriend, really just wanted to text him.

The man looked through the rest of her purse. He found some photos. “Is that your boyfriend?” he asked, showing her the picture of herself hugging Cameron. Seeing him made her want cry.

“Yes,” she said, without thinking.

“Is that what you’re doing flittering over here, visiting him? Long distance relationships—” He made a doubting sound. “How long have you been with him?”

“Just over two years,” she said in a trembling voice.

“Is this your first visit to the states?”

“No. I’ve been here before.”

He put her stuff away, and kept driving. His face was hard, stoic, and a killer. “I’m going to rape you,” he said.

She bowed her head, hardly able to keep back the tears she had held so tightly.

“I’m not going to kill you. But we’re going to have some fun together. Either that, or you’re going to get badly hurt.” He glanced at her, and she couldn’t look at him. She tried to move her wrists, to loosen them. They wouldn’t budge.

About fifteen minutes later, he took a left turn and went down another road. “You can sit up now,” he said, but she was paralyzed and couldn’t move.

Leaning down, he pulled her off the floor and she sat in center of the car. The pickup had a single row of seats. He put his hand on her knee, and she lurched back against the corner of the seat, tucking her legs underneath herself. “Please!” she cried. “Please, please, please!”

“Settle the fuck down,” he said. He raised his leg and kicked her, landing a hard blow near her hip. She cried out, then went silent, pressing herself against the passenger door. She kept her legs tucked tightly together. He kept glancing at her and would run his finger under the hem of her skirt, just to freak her out.

“Sit up next to me,” he said. “I won’t ask twice.”

Very slowly, very reluctantly, she sat up properly. Her arms ached from being fixed behind her, and her hip felt bruised. He was carefully watching the road, but he couldn’t help looking at her legs. He ran his hand lightly up her thigh. She winced, and pressed her legs nearly imperceptibly closer together. She wanted to pull her skirt down.

“You’re a very pretty girl, Nicole. I’ll bet you wear pretty lingerie, too.” He slowly pulled down one side of her blouse, so he could see the black bra strap against her lightly-tanned skin. “I was expecting pink.”

Glancing briefly at the road, he moved his hand down and located the top button and quickly had her blouse undone, feeling inside for her breast. He gave it a small squeeze, and tried to get his finger under the bra to feel her nipple.

“What about the panties?” He took his hand out, and let his fingers slide over her skirt, just to tease her.

She sat tensely, with one side of her blouse pulled down to expose her left bra-clad breast. Her heart was hot and strangled. This prick was having way too much fun with her, and there was no help for her.

“Do you enjoy wearing sexy underwear, even when you’re back home and your boyfriend’s over here? Does anyone else get to see it, or does it just go to waste? Answer me, Nicole.”

“I wear normal underwear,” she said.

“Normal. What’s normal for you? What do you Australian girls wear?”

“I don’t know, just plain bra and knickers.”

“Knickers, that’s cute. I like that. Are you still at school, working, what?” he asked.

“I have a job.”

“Yeah? Where do you work?”

“Um… “ She wasn’t sure what to answer. She didn’t want him to know a single thing about her, and yet in this position with him, she felt as if everything came out by itself.

“It’s okay, you don’t have to tell me,” he said gently, as if she were a child.

They drove for about half an hour in silence. They were out in the country a bit, and he turned onto a smaller road. The idea that he knew exactly where he was going made her chest pain. Trying to pluck up some courage, she nervously licked her lips.

“I’m visiting here just a couple of weeks, then I’m heading back home. My parents are planning a huge Christmas this year. Do you get to see your family often?” She tried to coax him into conversation and make him see her as a person, not just a thing, but he didn’t answer so she asked, “What’s your name?”

He smiled at her, as if he knew what she was doing. “You can call me James,” he said.

He didn’t look at her for a long time, but stared straight ahead. She was getting desperate, trying to get him to talk to her, asking different questions. She was trying to find out information and establish a bond with him. He didn’t answer much. He pushed her skirt up her thighs several inches, displaying her legs. He touched them lightly, being surprisingly chaste, considering he could do whatever he wanted. He eased his hand between her clenched thighs, digging his fingertips as deep into the crotch of her panties as he could. He seemed to enjoy feeling her through the thin nylon.

“James?” she said.

“Yeah, baby?” he answered, his hand feeling all over her intimate parts, digging in his fingers, fondling, and rubbing.

“Will you untie my hands?”

“Not yet. Open your legs a bit,” he said, annoyed.

She closed her eyes in an agony of humiliation. Inside her something was exasperated to the point of insanity.

“If you promise not to rape me, I’ll go down on you,” she said. “It’ll be the best you’ve ever had.”

He laughed. “Is that what they teach girls at defense class these days—tell him you’ll go down on him? If I want a blowjob I’ll make you do it, then fuck you. I don’t know about it being the best… making a cunt of your mouth, and bobbing your head up and down, doesn’t make you an expert cocksucker. Come here,” he said, gesturing with his finger for her to scoot closer.

She hesitated and didn’t know what to do. He took hold of her hair around the nape, and pulled her against him. She gave a scream, crying.

“Nicole.” He was quiet and very direct. She looked right at him. Her lips trembled. “You better get this straight. I’m going to fuck you, and it’s up to you how much it’s going to hurt. Understand?”

“Yes,” she said, tears streaming down her face.

“Are you going to do everything I say or do I have to beat the shit out of you, you spoiled little bitch? Are you going to do what I tell you?”

She nodded, and briefly closed her eyes.

“Kiss me, like you would your boyfriend,” he said. She choked on a sob, then pressed her quivering lips to his, barely touching. His left hand steered the car, his right hand steadied her at her neck. He balanced his attention to the road with the enjoyment of her lips. He kissed them, licked them, sucked on them. Then he tossed her away, and she fell over the seats. He slapped her backside as she curled against the corner of the seat to get away from him.

“That ass is fuckably cute!” he said.

She saw that the passenger door had no handle. It was broken off. When she risked glancing at him, he was already looking at her. She knew he would be. He reached over and touched her. He ran his hand all over her waist, hip, backside, squeezing and massaging, while he sucked his breath through clenched teeth, as though he really enjoyed what he felt.

“I want to give you a good time, Nicole,” he said. “That’s what all this is about. I don’t want to hurt you.”

He concentrated on the road again, and she relaxed a little. She turned onto her back slightly, to conceal her hands from him. He glanced at her a couple of times, but mostly left her alone, and she began working her hands loose. She didn’t know what he had used. It felt like shoelaces. They were so tight, she couldn’t get her hands free.

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