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“Yes, babe. I’ll be all yours soon.”

“All right. Be careful and I’ll see you there. Love you.”

She sniffles again and it makes my heart seize. I can’t help but feel something is wrong but she’s assuring me everything is as it should be. Seeing Taylor last night has me worked up I guess.

“I love you, Tate. So much.”

Ihang up the phone and my hearts squeezes with guilt for lying to Tate. I have my dressy clothes in my backseat, headed to my house to face off with Taylor. I know he’ll be there waiting. My hand trembles on the steering wheel as I frequently glance in my rearview. I’m driving down an empty stretch of road about a mile from my turnoff when bright lights bare down on me from a side road. I squint and realize too late what’s coming.

The truck clips my rear driver side door and pushes my car into a ditch steep enough, my car feels like it’s on its side. My air bags have deployed all around me. I blink several times, trying to focus but the world is spinning.

I hear metal cranking against metal and the car shakes as my door is wrenched open and I turn to find Taylor standing there with a crowbar. I squint against the brightness of his headlights, instantly triggering a headache. His chest heaves up and down, but his eyes burn with a calm and deadly fury.

He leans over, unbuckles my seatbelt, and pulls me out of the car. “Look what you made me do, Lucy.”

“You’re a bastard,” I spit at him.

He clucks his tongue at me. “Now Lucy, don’t make me lose my temper. I’m going to have to take you home and clean you up. You’re already bleeding.” He opens his truck door and tries to push me in as I try to scream for help.

He searches all around. “Oh, sorry. We’re at the crossroads where no one lives. Guess it’s just you and me.” He shrugs his shoulders like this is all normal and just another day.

He gets me secured in his truck and walks around to the driver side and hops in.

We have about a ten-minute ride to his house. I can only hope the shock of being in a car accident wears off before we get there. For now, I’ll save my energy, because when we get there, I know I’m going to need it if I have any chance of getting out of this alive.

We reach his house which is surrounded by woods. I let him unbuckle me and once I feel steady enough, I push him as hard as I can and try to run. He stumbles back a few feet but laughs and catches me before I make it far. He pulls me roughly to his chest; fingers digging into my shoulder and says in a low voice meant to be threatening, “You forget who you’re messing with, baby. You know I’m faster and stronger. You know I’m patient and relentless. I get what I want, and I want you.” I struggle in his arms as my head pounds, my chest burns, and my ribs ache.

“I’ll never be yours. Not ever again.” He turns us toward his house and he ushers me inside, closing and bolting the door behind him. I turn and face him, taking in his features carefully. He’s a handsome man but behind his mask is violence and anger. Once upon a time I thought I loved this man. I thought this house would become our home, but tonight, it’s become my prison and quite possibly the end of the road for me.

He takes a step toward me, and I shift backward. “Why are you doing this to me?” I ask, suddenly I have the burning need to know the answer. He stops, but after a moment, slowly starts my way again. My back is to the wall.

He makes it to where I’m standing and his hand caresses my face. Tears sting my eyes, but I refuse to give him the satisfaction. “I’m only taking back what’s mine. You’re mine. We’re going to get married and have a family. I brought you home. I love you,” he says with such sweet conviction I think he believes it. I could almost believe he’s sincere when he talks like this. But he’s not. Even if he was, and he never hurt me, my heart doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to Tate.

“If you love me, then let me go. Please.” I stare into his eyes which are swirling with emotions I can’t read. His caress becomes punishing as he grasps my chin and brings my lips to his. I refuse to return his kiss and bite his lip. He pulls away and touches it with his thumb, seeing the bright red blood. His eyes appear full of danger, and he laughs cruelly.

“Look at you being feisty. I think I like it. It’s turning me on to see you fighting back.” He laughs a menacing laugh that sends shivers down my spine.

I lift my hand to slap him, but he grabs my wrist first and squeezes. He moves in close and inhales the scent of my hair. “I always loved the way your hair smells.” Then he whispers in my ear, “I’m going to love pulling it as I claim your body even more.” I try to push him away with my free hand but he’s ready. He brings my hands in front of me and ties them in a zip tie.

He pulls me from the wall and pushes me to his bedroom. I think I’m going to be sick. He sits me on the bed and loosens the tie, so he can attach it to his bed so both my hands are tied together and over my head. My heart is beating so hard it’s slamming against my ribs. I’m not going to make this easy for him. But to my surprise he doesn’t get on the bed with me.

My face must spell out my thoughts because he grinds out, “Lucy, I’m not going to rape you. I never have and you know that. So don’t try to act like I did. I may have my faults but being a rapist isn’t one of them.”

“You tried to rape me at my house, Taylor. Or don’t you remember?” I spit at him.

He grabs his hair and pulls. He’s struggling. “Lucy, I was drunk. So drunk I didn’t know what I was doing. I was missing you and I wanted you back. Once I realized what I’d almost done, I hated myself for it. And I tried to apologize but you wouldn’t talk to me. You’re always withhim!” he yells at the end.

I instantly react, knowing I shouldn’t. “That’s because I love him!” My chest heaves with the admission. “He wouldn’t hurt me like you have! Like you do!”

His eyes are wild, but he doesn’t approach me. “And you don’t love me, is that it? It’s always been you and me, Lucy…since high school. You said you’d love me forever, no matter what. I know I took you for granted and there’s a lot of other things I shouldn’t have done. I have anger issues and I was drinking a lot, but I’m already getting help. I’ve been going to meetings and even talking to a therapist. I’m trying to fix myself for you. Damn it, I’m so sorry Lucy, for everything. I want to marry you. I want you to have my kids. I need you. I need you to say you’ll give me another chance.” A lone tear tracks down his face and then another. Now, my own turn on like water works.

“Do you hear yourself? You T-boned my car so you could kidnap me! Who does that to someone they love? Who does that to anyone?” I shout.

He hangs his head. “Seeing you last night with him, my blood was boiling. I made sure the impact wouldn’t hit where you were sitting in the car. I wanted you here so I could talk some sense into you. I haven’t done anything else to you.”

“Youkidnappedme! Right now I’m tied to your bed. No, you haven’t slapped me or hit me with your fists tonight. What about all the other times you have? You tried to break me!”

He steps closer to the bed. “I already told you I’m sorry about everything and I’m working on it,” he says as he opens and closes his fists at his side.

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