The next night, he is watching when the boy from the club, who everyone calls Cush, picks her up. He’s up the street, parked behind another car. He’s been here so much lately the neighbors probably think he lives here. He puts the binoculars in front of his eyes and watches as they exit the house.
Keatyn looks like she belongs on the red carpet. Her bangs are pulled back into a braid and her long locks are curled into cascades that fall down around her delicate shoulders. The dress she’s wearing has a soft skirt and golden trim, making her look like a virginal goddess. He decides then and there that if they win an award for their movie, that’s the dress she’ll wear. He can imagine the scene after the show. He will take her back to his house on the beach. The one he wanted to buy for his grandmother, that is if the old man will ever agree to it. He will take her outside. The white dress will blow in the ocean breeze and he will embrace her, kiss her. And they will end up lying on the sand, kissing, the waves rushing up and tickling their feet, just like the end of his grandmother’s most famous movie. And, he decides immediately, the way his remake of A Day at the Lake will end.
What he doesn’t like, however, is the way Cush pushes her against the side of the Mercedes he drove and kisses her deeply.
The boy may have to go.
While he’s waiting for them outside her friend Vanessa’s house—now there is another fine piece of underage hotness who would make a nice short-term plaything—he thinks about what is to come. How last night after he went home from the club, he watched the video of Keatyn again—the video he stole from his friend, Bobby. And it sparked an idea. The role Matt Moran wanted her for was that of a girl who gets kidnapped.
His Grandma used to say that life often imitates art. He will kidnap her, and they will make their movie together without having to worry about anyone’s prying eyes.
He had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. He had hoped she would come of her own accord. And he knows, eventually, she will. She flirted with him at dinner. He just needs some more time alone with her. At his Grandmother’s glorious estate. Then she will realize they are perfect for each other.
But he’s starting to get impatient as he follows the pair back to her house in Malibu. Either way, he’s prepared.
He’s surprised when they drive by and continue up the street, not far from where he usually watches her house. When he sees whose house they are going into, he can’t help but smile. It just so happens that he was invited to this party tonight, too.
I’m absentmindedly swirling my wine around in my glass and staring out into the ocean when a man leans his arms onto the railing next to me.
“We seem to keep running into each other on the beach,” Vincent says.
“Yeah.” I’m not in the mood to chat. Not even with Vincent. I take a very large sip of wine and hope he’ll take the hint and go away.
“You look amazing,” he says. “A little over-dressed for a beach party, but incredible. Prettiest girl here, if you ask me.”
I turn to look at him. He’s wearing a crisp aqua shirt, unbuttoned at the neck. Softly draped taupe slacks. Buttery leather loafers. Expensive gold watch. Everything about him screams money and privilege.
I take another big drink. Swallow.
I shake my head. “Nothing, really. Same shit, different day.”
“I know how that goes. Even though I’m excited about our movie, it’s still been a rough week. I miss her.”
“I’m glad I could help a little. It must be hard going through something like that by yourself.”
He nods. “Yeah, but I do have some good news. Our movie is a go.”
“Really? That’s exciting. So you got the financing?”
“Grandmother left me a pretty large estate. I met with her attorney today and got all the details. I don’t have to worry about the financing now. I can do it all myself.”
“Is that smart to do? What if it bombs and you lose all your money? You haven’t even seen me act yet.”
“I’ve seen you surf. I’ve seen your emotions. If you can be yourself on camera, we’ll both make more money than we’ve ever dreamed about. Why don’t we get started tonight? I’m dying to get you on film. I know it will inspire me even more.”
I don’t reply, just take another sip of wine.
He leans closer to me, causing our shoulders to touch.
I don’t want to make him mad by saying that I don’t know him well enough to go anywhere with him. Mom has warned me about stuff like that. About photographers who say they’re going to make you the next supermodel, they just need to “take a few photos” first. About producers, who promise to make you a big star, they just need you to “come read” for them first, but what they really want is to get you on the casting couch.
“You always go to parties like this?” I ask him. I’m trying to be polite.
“Free drinks and beautiful women. Who wouldn’t?” he says.
“You trying to meet that special girl on the beach?”
“I already met a special girl on the beach. Fine. I get it. You don’t know me well enough yet, right?”
I touch his forearm. “I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re smart. There are a lot of men out there that lie about this kind of thing just to get girls. I’m not one of them, though. I usually don’t have a problem finding women.”
I look at his handsome face and laugh. “I don’t suppose that you do.”
“So go for a walk with me. I’m in mourning. It’s the least you can do.”
“I can’t. I’m here with my . . . um, like, we’re friends, but . . . ” I roll my eyes, thinking about Brooklyn. “Story of my life, apparently.”
“All the more reason for a mind-clearing walk on the beach. The party is getting pretty revved up. No one will even notice you’re gone.”
“Keatyn! There you are,” I hear Millie say. “Get your ass in here and come dance with that handsome date of yours before all the old women try to get their hands on him.”
“Thanks for the offer, Vincent. It’s sweet of you, but I don’t think anyone can solve my boy problems.”
“Maybe you need to solve them yourself.”
I had just started to walk away, but I turn back around. “What do you mean?”
“If a guy is interested in you, really interested in you, he’ll let you know it. If he doesn’t, he’s not worth it.”
I walk back to him and give him a hug. “Whatever I did to help you the other day, we’re now even. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. Have some fun tonight, okay?”
He raises his glass to me as I walk back inside.
He was so close tonight he could practically taste her sweetness on his lips. If that woman hadn’t come out onto the deck, he’d have gotten her down to the beach. They would have walked in the moonlight until he got her somewhere deserted. Then he would have pulled her in close. She probably would have barely noticed the prick of the needle when she was in his arms.
His other attempts to get her alone are unsuccessful, and Vincent is upset to learn that after school is out, she goes away for the summer. He follows her social media accounts while he makes plans for her return. He considers going on holiday himself, but his company needs his attention and his board of directors demands it. And it gives him time to prepare. Time to rewrite the script with her in mind. Time to secure a filming location.
He can’t wait to tell her the good news.
He knows when she returns home, based on her social media. And he absolutely loves the sexy photos she and her friends posted. One thing about social media, it sure makes it easy to keep track of her. He tells his assistant that he’s meeting a client for lunch and won’t be back in his office. He goes to the hotel where he knows the girls are staying and books a room. He just has to figure out how to get her there. Obviously, the path of least resistance would be to get her to come of her own free will. If not . . .
When he arrives at the pool, he makes his way to the bar area. He spots Keatyn quickly. She stands out in any crowd. She’s tanner, her skin a silky bronze. Her hair is lighter, bleached out from the sun. Little freckles are crisscrossing her nose. She looks different here than she does when she’s on the beach.
She’s wearing a very small triangle bikini. Her hair is long and straight. The golden color of her earrings, the bracelets up her wrist, and her aviator sunglasses only seem to further complement her beauty. He orders himself a drink and watches her talking seriously with her girlfriends. The summer apart has changed their dynamics.
Keatyn seems bolder, more confident. It’s sexy.
He knows they aren’t old enough, but no one will card them looking like they do, so he grabs a server and sends them over drinks.
And waits for her to come to him.
Our waiter interrupts us when he sets three bottles of beer on the little table between our chaises.
“Beer, gross,” Vanessa says haughtily. “Do I look like I drink beer?”
Vanessa prefers champagne.
“They aren’t really for you, miss,” he says to Vanessa. He leans down and says discreetly, “From the gentleman at the bar.”
I glance over at the bar and see Vincent holding up a beer and grinning at me.
“Excuse me,” I say to the girls. “I need to go thank someone for the drinks.”
I don’t bother to put on my cover-up. I mean, we’re at a pool, and he’s seen me in a bikini before.
“Long time no see,” he says, then he tilts his head and gives me a sexy grin.
“What, are you stalking me?” I laugh.
He leans forward and gives me one of those long cheek kisses. “Is it that obvious?” he says in a teasing voice.
“Seriously, it’s great to see you,” I say. Because it really, really is. Vincent looks gorgeous. “So, what are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same thing. Actually, what I should really ask is where the hell you’ve been? I haven’t seen you on the beach all summer.”
“I was in Europe.”
“You look good. And to answer your question from before, I’m here because I just finished up a lunch meeting. It went well, so I decided to take the rest of the day off. I walked out here to get a beer”—his eyes gaze out at all the women in bikinis—“and enjoy the scenery. Little did I know, you’d be the best part of it.”
I tilt my head at him. “Do you have a room here?”
His eyes trail down my bikini and he puts his hand on my hip. “Why, Miss Douglas, you’re being awfully forward.”
I roll my eyes. “I didn’t mean for me. I meant that’s why you’re really here, isn’t it? You’re looking to get lucky.”
“Like I said. I wanted to celebrate. I also have big news for you.”
“The script is done.”
“Really? That’s awesome! When do I get to read it? Can you, like, messenger it to my house? Have you started auditions yet?”
“Not yet. I want to get you locked in first.”
“You wanna lock me in, huh? Then what would you do with me?” I tease.
A look crosses his face. I’m pretty sure he just pictured me in handcuffs. And after reading that hot S&M novel on the plane ride home, I have to admit that thought kinda turns me on. I could play the young, naive girl, and he could play the older, dominant man.
He’s still staring at me, but then he finally chuckles. “I’ve missed you.”
“You’re just saying that because you want me to do your movie.”
“Well, maybe. What did you say before? I need to seduce you?” The words roll off his tongue like silk.
I visibly melt and look at him dreamily.
“The way you said that was pretty sexy. I bet you won’t have any trouble finding company this afternoon. So, hey, thanks for the beers. I better get back to my friends.” Then I remember the house he was trying to buy. “Did you get the house yet?”
“That’s my other good news. We signed a deal and I close next month.”
He pulls me into his arms. “Why don’t you come to my room for a little while? We can celebrate, and I can tell you all about the script,” he says in a velvety voice.
“I’m already here celebrating with my friends.”
“And just what are you celebrating?”
“My birthday is this week.”
“Well, happy birthday.”
“Thanks.” I tease him before I walk away. “You know, I’m totally going to be watching you in action. Good luck with finding a uh, roommate.”
She leaves him, returning to her friends and lying back in a chaise. It takes everything he has to be patient with her. But part of the thrill is in the chase. It will happen soon enough.
Of that he is certain.
Especially when he sees how her eyes linger on him.
It’s clear that they’re meant to be. That she’s falling in love with him.
When I lie back in my chaise, RiAnne says, “Who is that guy? Is he an actor? Ohmigawd, he is so hot.”
Vanessa says, “He is hot, but isn’t he a bit old for you?”
“You dated that twenty-six year old. He’s not that much older. Um, I never asked you at the time, but was it, like, good with him? Was his being older, like, a benefit in any way?”
She laughs. “If that’s your way of asking if the sex was good, the answer is yes. It was amazing. He knew way more than any high school boy and a lot more than the college guy. Plus, he had way more stamina.”
“Yeah, like he could do it for a really long time. Sometimes, he’d go so long, I’d almost get bored. Almost,” she says with a pleased smirk.
“He’s going to be my neighbor,” I tell her with a grin.
“Let me know when he moves in.” She arches a perfect eyebrow at me. “I’d like to give him a special housewarming gift.” Then she nudges me. “Or maybe we can share. He looks like he’d be into that.”
“You’re naughty,” I say with a laugh. Then I take a drink of beer and let my eyes wander back to the bar.
Today is Keatyn’s birthday, as is obvious from her social media. Parents really should see what their children post, because he knows exactly where she will be over the next few days.
So excited to be turning 17! Brooklyn and I are surfing this morning and then he has something special planned for me today. It’s a surprise and I can’t wait! Friday will be more celebrating with B and my family. Can you say private dining room at my favorite restaurant? And then what we’ve all been waiting for!
Party! Party! Party!
At the Side Door!
Can’t wait to celebrate with everyone! (And for you to see my shoes!)
Thanks for all the birthday wishes!
You guys are amazing <3
Victor gets up early and goes to the old man’s house. The old man is being stubborn. He wants to sell the house. He actually needs to sell him this house—because if he doesn’t, he may be forced to help him to an early grave, as opposed to the retirement village he is considering moving to. The house is the perfect set location. The stretch of beach in front of it is pristine. The living area is a wide-open space with tall ceilings that can support booms and film equipment without being cramped. The other thing it has, that he hasn’t found in any other location, is a safe room. It will be the perfect place for his star to stay when she’s not filming. Sort of like a trailer on set. The room is mostly bare, furnished for a few moments of panic not a long-term stay, and is not worthy of a star. He’s going to have to bring in a comfortable bed—oh, a bed. He takes a moment to savor thoughts of he and Lacy together on it.
He and the old man have coffee on the deck—the old man using his binoculars to watch what he calls “the pretty young things that jog half naked on the beach” every morning. He borrows the binoculars occasionally, using them to determine when she steps on the beach.
Then he walks down the beach to join her.
She’s by herself, no surfers in sight. He stops and watches her.
She’s skipping happily, a broad smile on her face.
The smile that causes his insides to stir. Fighting an arousal, he continues down the beach, watching her do cartwheels in the waves. She’s in a good mood today. She’ll feel even better once we are together for eternity.
Brooklyn isn’t on the beach yet, but I’m feeling so happy that I skip up the beach and start doing cartwheels in the surf. These next few days are going to be practically magical, I’m just sure of it. And it could be months before Brooklyn gets everything together and actually leaves.
A big wave comes in and knocks me down into the sand in the middle of my cartwheel.
I laugh, get up, and do it again.
“I might have to add a scene like that to our movie,” I hear a voice say. I turn around and see Vincent. He’s dressed casually in a Ralph Lauren swimsuit and a white t-shirt.
“You seem awfully chipper today.”
“Of course I am. Today’s my birthday.”
He walks closer to me, pulls me into a hug, and kisses my cheek. “Well, happy birthday.”
We sit down in the sand.
“Thanks. Sooooo . . . you’re here on the beach in a swimsuit. How come?”
“The guy I’m purchasing the property from is an older gentleman. He wants to teach me everything. The funny thing is, I don’t think he knows. From what I can tell, he hires everything out. I think he’s lonely. He also gets up at the ass crack of dawn. I’ve been here since six-thirty and had four cups of the worst coffee of my life. Honestly, from what I can tell, his big excitement of the day is watching the women jog down the beach in the morning. I’m pretty sure that’s why he gets up so damn early.”
I laugh at his story. “That’s funny. You’re sweet to do that. Spend time with him like that.” But then I think about what he just said about the guy. How my mom often jogs on the beach in the morning all by herself. Could an old guy like that be the one creeping on her? I make a mental note to tell James about him.
Vincent rolls his eyes. “It’s not really sweet. I just don’t want him to back out of our deal. So we didn’t get to talk much the other day. How was being in Europe all summer?”
“I think we should talk about the rest of your afternoon. You stayed at the bar for a long time. Anything happen after I left?”
He gives me a sly grin. “That’s none of your business.”
“That means yes.”
“You were going to tell me about your summer?”
“Oh, yeah, it was great! Brooklyn and I surfed what are supposed to be some of Europe’s best waves. Then we hung out with Twisted Dreams on their tour. Remember, you were at the Undertow the night of their farewell concert? The lead singer, Damian, is one of my best friends. I’ve known him since I was little. Really, it was the best summer of my life.”
I realize Vincent isn’t really paying much attention to what I’m saying. He seems to be lost in thought.
“Earth to Vincent,” I say.
He blinks his eyes quickly. “Sorry, we’re here on the beach. My mind is going. I’m picturing scenes. Stand up for me, would you? In front of the ocean.”
I stand up between him and the ocean.
“Smile,” he says.
I give him my biggest grin.
“Let’s see how you look on film.” He holds his phone in the air. “Do you mind?”
“I don’t mind. What do you want me to do?”
“You’ve seen A Day at the Lake?”
“A few years ago, yeah.”
“You know the poster where she’s blowing a kiss?”
“Lame? That poster sold millions of copies.”
“I know. I just thought it was more about her boobs. She basically stood like this and blew a kiss.”
I mimic Mom’s poster.
“So what can you do, besides cartwheels?”
“I told you before, I’ve taken dance classes since I was three. I’m varsity soccer. I’m decent at kickboxing.” I lower my head and confess. “I broke a girl’s nose at a party. I’m not proud of it or anything, but I did.”
“Show me.” He slides his phone into his pocket and holds up his hands the way Tommy’s trainer does.
I punch them gently.
“Come on, you’ve got to have more than that.”
“Maybe I don’t want to hurt you,” I tease. He grabs my wrist. His grip is quite strong. “Wow, you’re stronger than you look.”
He looks hurt. “I don’t look strong? Wow, way to punch a guy’s ego.”
“Well it’s hard to tell with that loose T-shirt on. You know, guys your age can take their shirts off and be all flabby, or they can be all ab-a-licious . . . ”
Vincent pulls his shirt up over his head.
My mouth falls open as I stare at his perfectly sculpted chest, his strong pecs, his thick ab muscles, and that sexy little line of dark hair trailing down into his swimsuit.
“What?” he says with a laugh.
I manage to close my mouth. “I’m guessing you work out a bit?”
He tilts his head and grins. “You could say that. So, back to our video. Do some cartwheels or dance for me. No, I know. Blow me a kiss. Do it your way.”
I think about it.
I turn my back on him and prance into the ocean. I reach down, grab a handful of water, and then swivel my upper body back toward him, naughtily tossing the water out of my hand as I blow him the sweetest kiss.
“That’s perfect,” he says. “Sweet, but naughty. Exactly how we want your character to be. So I take it you’d rather have people looking at your ass on a poster than your boobs?”
“Uh, I never thought of that. I was just playing around.”
He replays the video, studying it intently.
Eventually he says, “The camera loves you. Meet me at my studio tomorrow.”
“I can’t. Today I have birthday stuff, tomorrow too, then Saturday is my big birthday party.”
“Did my invite get lost in the mail?”
“Oh, no. I didn’t—um—do you want to come? I could get your name on the list.”
“Of course I want to come.”
I see Brooklyn wandering down the beach toward us.
“What’s up?” Brooklyn says to Vincent.
“Just telling Keatyn that getting the house has been tougher than I thought it would be. So, I was looking at surfboards the other day and felt a little overwhelmed. Do you have any suggestions?”
Brooklyn says, “Go to Davey’s, tell him I sent you, and tell him to fit you for a board. It’ll be perfect for you. The guy’s a genius.”
“I’ll do that. Thanks. So good to see you both, but I have to get going.”
He watches the video repeatedly. It’s clear Lacy is in love with him. He could see the desire in her eyes when he took off his shirt.
Her birthday party will be perfect moment in the script of their life for he and Lacy to make their escape. The guest list will be long, and the venue will be dark. And the venue’s name. It’s like it was named just for his script, because they will slip out a side door and no one will be the wiser. But he must be meticulous in his planning.
He works arduously for the next few days, making sure everything is perfect. Since the old man hasn’t yet cooperated, he goes back to the large gardening shed on his grandmother’s property. He hasn’t been here since he trashed the place. He carefully picks up all his mementos of Abby and the stills of Lacy, gently smoothing them out and placing them into a neat pile. He cleans the space thoroughly, wanting her location to be pristine. Then he sets out to decorate it. He goes into his grandmother’s house, even though it is difficult for him. The grief he feels is still fresh. He had hoped she would live long enough to see this movie come to fruition.
When he is in her bedroom, he feels her presence. She speaks to him, helping him choose just the right pieces from the house to take out back. To create a dressing room worthy of a star.
He spends a full day moving furniture, washing linens, and hanging artwork. He and Grandmother take a moment to survey his handiwork. “All that’s missing is a star on the door with her name emblazoned across it,” Grandmother tells him.
He kisses his grandmother on the cheek, bids her goodnight, and goes home.
His penthouse is much different than the warmth of his grandmother’s house. It’s modern and slick, pristinely organized, with not so much as a speck of dust out of place.
He heads to his office, pours himself a stiff drink, then sits down, leaning back in his leather chair and daring to put his feet up on his desk.
He has the invitation. The stolen rental van is in place and could not be traced back to him. And although he hopes she will go willingly, he has duct tape, zip ties, and drugs available to ease her transition. This is simply his Plan B, though.
He closes his eyes and daydreams about how it will all go down.
Lacy is on stage. A band is playing ‘Happy Birthday’ and everyone is singing along. Her eyes find his in the crowd, and her smile grows into the mega-watt grin that both brings him to his knees and fills him with unbridled passion. She holds her hand out toward him, and he joins her on stage.
They share a kiss then as the party continues around them. “Let’s get out of here, Vincey,” she whispers in his ear.
Hand in hand, they slip out of the party together.
His Porsche their chariot.
They lean across the console toward each other, coming together in a movie-ending, epic kiss.
Then they drive off into the sunset. The words And they lived happily ever after slide onto the screen.
Security is tight at her birthday party, something Vincent had planned for. He purposely wore a black suit and brought a pair of dark sunglasses. When Lacy doesn’t invite him onto the stage with her, he has no choice but to put Plan B into action, which he starts by creating a simple diversion, letting a guard know about a possible threat to the whore.
All of a sudden someone rushes past us.
Then a couple more people.
Then someone bumps into me and almost knocks me down.
Black-suited, sunglass-wearing security guards rush by in droves.
Brooklyn gets off the couch, and we both look in the same direction to try and figure out what’s going on.
“Someone probably just crashed the party or got drunk or something. There’s plenty of security here. They’ll get it all sorted out,” I tell him.
But then I think about Mom’s stalker. About how worried James has been about the party. How he promised to keep her safe.
Oh my God, I’ve got to find Mom.
“Brook—” I start to say, but I’m interrupted when one of the security guys practically picks me up off the ground and carries me away from Brooklyn.
The security guy yells at me. “We’re getting you out of here now!”
“Why?” I pull back. I look for Brooklyn, but he’s lost in the crowd behind me.
The security guy drags me to the other side of the dance floor, opposite the commotion, near where I made out with Cush.
I’m scared, but I don’t want to leave. Where is Tommy? Where is Mom? And why do they have to get me out of my own party? What’s happened to Mom?
Everyone is heading toward the commotion. The area he’s dragging me to is almost completely empty.
“Stop it!” I yell. “I need to go check on my mom! Is she okay? Tell me what’s going on!”
The security guy stops moving and wraps a strong arm tightly around my waist.
“The whore is fine. I told her I was moving on. Bet she never guessed it was with you.” He lets out an evil chuckle.
Oh my god!
He’s not security.
James was right! It’s the guy!
“Let go of me!” I struggle to get away from him, but he’s still dragging me like a rag doll toward the exit.
“I’ve got a van out back. We’re going to do great things together.”
How do I know that voice? Why does it sound familiar?
Wait. He’s taking me to a van out back?
What. The. Fuck.
I scream bloody murder. “AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
But no one can hear me.
Except the stalker.
“Stop screaming. No one can hear you over the music,” he says coldly.
I realize he’s right. I don’t stand a chance. No one can hear me.
Something I see out of the corner of my eye catches my attention.
It’s the stalker’s arm.
I see the end of a scrolly tattoo peeking out from under his sleeve.
I know that tattoo. How do I know that tattoo?
Oh my God.
Oh my God.
It’s the Y on Vincent’s Abby tattoo.
Vincent, who thinks I look just like my mom did when he fell in love with her. Vincent, who wants to make a movie with me. Mom’s movie.
Vincent is the stalker?
Could that be right?
I wriggle myself around so that I’m facing him.
“Vincent! What are you doing? Stop it! Let go of me!”
I make my body go limp, so that it will be heaver, and I drag my feet behind me. But he’s strong, and all that happens is that I lose one of my gorgeous shoes.
He says coldly, “Don’t act so surprised. I told you the other day I was going to get you locked in. We’re going to make a movie together and have all sorts of fun. I know you want it as much as I do.”
I start to shake as I think about all the things he told me. All the things that felt flattering. I see them in a new light. And in that light, they are not pretty. I’ve never been so scared in my life.
The music is still playing loudly.
There’s no one to save me. No one to help me.
Tears start streaming down my face.
What am I going to do?
The locket James gave me swings in front of my face, and I hear a quiet voice speak to me.
A voice that I haven’t heard for so long.
My dad’s voice.
It’s both soothing and serious.
You can’t let him get you out the door. Whatever you do, don’t let him get you out the door.
Vincent grabs my wrist tighter and pulls me in closer to his body. Like he’s shielding me from what’s behind us.
The door keeps getting closer.
You don’t have much time.
I have to get him to stop.
“Stop. Please, Vincent. Just tell me what you want, and I’ll do it. I promise I’ll make the movie with you. Just please don’t do this. Please.”
He doesn’t stop.
And he doesn’t reply.
He just keeps dragging me, closer and closer to the door.
When we’re almost to the door, he says, “I want you, and I’m going to have you. All to myself.”
We’re right in front of the big black exit door.
He stops to push it open.
This is your last chance. Remember P.E.? The defensive move they taught you.
Do it now.
A rush of adrenaline suddenly courses through my body. I pick my foot up then smash the heel of the shoe I’m still wearing into the top of Vincent’s foot with as much force as I can muster.
It’s a stupid defensive move we learned in Freshman P.E.
But it works.
Vincent’s grip loosens.
I quickly pull away.
I break completely free of his arms, turn, and run as fast as I can. I run straight into James and another security guy.
“That’s the stalker! He’s trying to kidnap me!” I turn around and point at Vincent.
His glasses are still on, and he’s racing toward me.
James hands me off.
Then he and Vincent come face to face.
Vincent holds his hands up in protest and starts to say something, but James punches him in the face, knocking his glasses off.
I watch Vincent and James trade punches.
James falls back for a minute, but then his training kicks in.
In a fury of fists and kicks, Vincent is down and out cold.
James flips him over and wraps his wrists together with zip ties.
I drop to my knees.
And throw up my birthday cake.