by Rue Chapman
Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies. Sometimes a girl needs her really good friends.
Trina hesitated in the doorway, surveying the man stretched out on the carpet. He wasn't moving. His eyes were closed. Was he still breathing? Oh lord, what if she'd killed him?! That could be a bit difficult to explain. People tended to be so unreasonable about things like that, even when you had a perfectly good explanation.
Well, if he was dead it was his own fault. Served him right. But it'd still be difficult to explain.
She had to check on him. That meant she had to get closer. One step.
He couldn't do anything, not tied up like that. She hadn't trusted herself with knots, so she'd used plenty of gaffer tape around his wrists and ankles. That's what they did in the movies.
Next step. And she'd gagged him with a strip of gaffer tape across his mouth. She'd seen them do that in the movies too.
Another step. Was he breathing? She knelt down to check. What are you supposed to do to check someone's breathing? See if his chest was moving. It was hard to tell - he had a suit on, the jacket lying partly open. Men look so good in dark grey, especially when they're tall and well built, with dark hair that had just the right almost-curly wave in it...
Breathing. Check breathing. His, not your own. Is he breathing?
She gently pushed his jacket open. Crisp white shirt, dark tie. Very businesslike. She gingerly reached out and put a hand against his chest. Strong heartbeat - he was alive. Good. Well, probably good. His chest was moving, so he was breathing, too. Definitely passed the alive test. Alive and warm - the chest under her hand was firm, she could feel the strength there. If things had been different she could have been attracted to him - he was the type she liked: well built, dark hair, icy blue eyes...
Eyes. His eyes were open. He was looking at her.
Trina froze for a moment. He was awake. Looking. At her.
"Uh, I..." She realised her hand was on his chest and snatched it away. "I was just checking on your breathing. To make sure you were ok. Well, as ok as you can be when you're tied up on the floor and drugged, of course. But I didn't think you'd wake up so soon. Um... I suppose you have a bit of a headache. Are you thirsty? I - um - I'll get you some water." She scrambled to her feet and fled for the safety of the kitchen.
Jonathon watched her go, then tried to assess the situation. He'd been drugged, apparently. By the sound of her she was on something too - the girl seemed totally confused and out of her depth. A small man with a large hammer was pounding on the inside of his head, trying to escape. Whatever she'd given him it must have packed a punch, he had a killer headache. He was on the floor, tied up - he tried to move, no chance of breaking free, she'd practically cocooned his hands and feet in gaffer tape. He was gagged, with tape too by the feel of it.
He was helpless, totally at the mercy of some insane woman who'd lured him to this house, drugged him and - and she had soft brown eyes and golden-brown hair, long and silky. Great figure, too, and that back view as she left a moment ago showed a cute, bouncy little rear end. Right now he'd love to get free and get his hands on her and...
"Here. Water." She was back, trying to kneel down beside him and hold out a glass of water at the same time. Jonathon blinked as water splashed onto his face. "Oh, sorry!" She tried to brush the water away, her fingertips soft on his skin.
Trina shivered as she touched him; it was oddly intimate to touch a stranger's face like that. She held out the glass again, then she realised there was another problem.
"You can't drink with that gag, can you. If I take it off, will you promise not to scream?"
Actually, he didn't look the screaming sort. More the sort to cause screaming, under the right circumstances. Trina looked at him doubtfully. She liked the tall, dark and handsome type, but this specimen had an air of determination, almost danger, about him. She preferred her men to be a bit more docile.
Unfortunately docile was also boring, so she was yet to find a man who kept her interest for long. This one looked interesting, that was for sure. She realised that those ice-blue eyes were fixed on her.
"Well, I suppose you can't promise with that gag on. But there's nobody around to hear you, anyway. So I'll take it off and let you have a drink, ok?"
He didn't move, didn't nod, just kept watching her. He didn't look very happy.
"I'll just peel this tape off." She wasn't sure why she'd put it on, he didn't need to be gagged. But that's what they did in the movies, and she had very little first-hand experience of this sort of thing. They should teach it in school - 'Kidnapping 101. First lesson, how to tie your victim up properly.'
Focus. Concentrate. When faced with a crisis, her mind had a slight tendency to freewheel, throwing up all sorts of odd ideas. In fact it worked that way most of the time, but stress made it worse. Much worse.
"How do you want it - fast or slow?" Not a question a lady usually asks a gentleman. At least, not on a first date. "How do you want your tape removed?"
He didn't answer. The strong silent type. Strong, silent and gagged.
Trina managed to get a corner of the tape free, still feeling that odd shiver as she touched him. He didn't move, didn't flinch. He just kept that cold gaze on her. He really didn't look like he was going to be reasonable about all this.
When stressed, babble. "Now, I'll try to do this fast, but there's really no good way to do this, it seems to be really stuck down hard. I should have used a cloth gag. The old-fashioned ways are the best, aren't they. I'll have to remember that for next time. Not that there'll be a next time. Ever. I mean, this isn't a hobby of mine, or anything. Ok, peeling now. It's really gripping - they should use this stuff for hair removal, you won't have to shave for days. Almost done... there. Done." She smiled triumphantly. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"
It felt like she'd just removed the skin from most of his face. Jonathon glared at her.
"O...kay. Drink. You'd like a nice drink of water. Now, I'll just tilt the glass a bit." She managed to pour most of the water into his nose, but he did get a few sips.
Trina sat back a little, waiting for the spluttering to subside. Should she feed him? What were the rules on prisoner feeding? Why doesn't anyone tell you these things?
"Why what? Oh - this? Well, after you'd drunk the coffee - there was some sleeping stuff in the coffee, I'm glad you didn't taste it - after that, as I said, you got all sleepy and sort of slumped down, and the next thing I knew you were sort of rolling down off the couch onto the floor. And you're too big to lift back up again, so I left you on the floor. But it's a nice soft carpet, very bouncy, so I thought you'd be ok. Would you like a cushion?"
"Why. Did. You. Do. This?"
"Oh, you mean... Are you sure you don't want a cushion?" Trina looked at him doubtfully. He didn't seem to be in a cushion mood. "You mean the drugging? And the tying up?"
He glared at her. She took that as a yes.
"Well, I'm doing a favour for a friend. This is nothing personal, I'm just helping her out."
"Drugged. Tied up. Why?" His voice was like cold steel now.
Trina gulped. "Look, you seem like a nice man. I mean, you're good-looking, nice suit, well-spoken, good-looking..." The babblemeter was on High now. Get control. "Surely a man like you can find himself someone to be with, right? So if something doesn't work out, you move on and find someone else, yes? There's plenty more buses in the sea. I mean, there's one due any minute. Or something. Anyway, it's time to move on. Let her go."
"Let who go?" Quiet voice. Sort of deadly quiet.
"Her. Cassie. It's over, let her go. She's getting married today, and you can't spoil it for her. It's time to stop chasing her and accept that she's got someone else. You could find someone new, too - you just need to move past this fixation you have." Great, now she was channelling Dr Phil.
"That's the spirit! Clean slate, fresh outlook."
"I asked you a question."
Trina gulped and wondered how a man who was all tied up like that could still manage to make her feel that waiting-outside-the-Headmaster's-office chill. "Cassie. Cassandra Cooper. Your ex-girlfriend. The one you've been stalking. The one who's getting married today."
"I don't know her."
"Good attitude. Wipe her out of your life. Now, Trevor - or do they call you Trev?"
"Just Trevor then. Trevor -"
"You don't know what I'm going to say yet. I was just going to say that the wedding is over by now, they're married, and soon they'll be off on their honeymoon."
"I'm not Trevor."
"Yes you are."
"Of course you are. Trevor Wilson. Real estate agent. I made an appointment for you to value this house."
"Jonathon Wilson. Trevor's brother. We're partners in the agency."
Winter had come early this year, she could definitely feel a cold chill. "Not Trevor?"
"I... I don't believe you."
"Check my wallet."
Trina gulped and reached into his coat again. It felt strange to be going through his pockets while he was still in the jacket. The warmth from his body... that firm chest... focus, on the wallet. Find the wallet.
"I can't find it."
"It's in my back pocket."
For one long moment Trina was tempted to just walk out and abandon him.
She finally managed to roll him onto one side - he was no help at all - and reach into his back pocket for the slim wallet there. It was moulded to his shape - the shape of one of those firm buns... what a great butt, he must work out...
"Thank you. I do, three times a week."
Ohhhh dear lord and little fishes, she'd said that aloud. In her next life she was going to demand a brain that worked in a crisis.
Trina sat back and opened the wallet. Driver's licence. Picture. His face. But the wrong name, it didn't say 'Trevor', it said... "Jonathon. You're Jonathon. Or... is this a fake licence? Or maybe you're twins? Or Trevor is your middle name? Or... um..."
"Oh no, I can think up a few more."
"I'm Jonathon Wilson. I don't know Cassandra Cooper. You have the wrong person."
"So where's Trevor?"
"My brother is on a cruise around the Caribbean. Been away for a fortnight, due back next week. He's taking a holiday with his new girlfriend."
"Well that's great! So he's moved on then. Good. Fine."
"Fine. Untie me."
This wasn't just waiting-outside-the-Headmaster's-office now, this was Headmaster's-office-door-opening.
"Get this damned tape off me!"
Trina backed away. "The thing is, you seem a tiny bit agitated right now."
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