In anticipation of next Sunday’s release of my novel Held, I thought I’d give you all a peek into the novel. A glimpse into the world of a scared, young wife and new mother, and of the madman who changes her world forever. This is only the beginning, for both you, the reader, and Nicole, the young woman in the story. I give to you now the first chapter. Hopefully, I’ll see you next Sunday at Amazon, where for the low price of only $2.99 you can accompany Nicole through her nightmare.
by Kimberly A. Bettes
I squinted as I stepped out of the store and into the glare of the bright sunlight. As I walked across the parking lot, I went over the purchase in my mind. I was certain that the bubble-gum smacking cashier had overcharged me. I stepped into the narrow space between my smaller SUV and the behemoth SUV parked beside me, and pulled the receipt out of my purse to study it. With my attention on the receipt, I was unaware of anyone else until I felt a gun poke into my ribs.
He wrapped his left arm around me and squeezed my left shoulder. With his right hand, he shoved the gun into my ribs even harder.
My breath caught in my chest, trapped by shocked lungs. Everything happened so fast. He was there, gun pressed to my side, squeezing me against him tightly. I had no time to process the situation.
We certainly looked to others as no more than a normal couple. I knew no one could see the gun. My arm, bent at the elbow with the shopping bag dangling from it, hid it well. There were only a handful of other people in the parking lot, none of which even glanced at us. How could they? We were hidden by the SUVs.
My mind, every bit as shocked as the rest of me, struggled to grasp the situation and find a way out of it. I thought of screaming. I thought of wrenching free of him, turning and running. But I also thought of my husband and my son. If I did any of those things, this man would shoot me. It would be easy to do. The gun was already buried in my ribcage, his finger undoubtedly on the trigger. If he didn’t mean me harm, he wouldn’t have the gun. He meant business. And if the pistol were equipped with a silencer, he could shoot me and be long gone before anyone even realized I was on the ground. Had the parking lot contained more people, screaming and running might’ve been an option. Surely he wouldn’t shoot me with so many witnesses. But that wasn’t the case here. Not today. Not on a stupid Tuesday afternoon.
Before I could hate myself for not waiting until later when more people were at the mall before shopping for jeans that were supposed to be on sale but weren’t because the pink haired bubble gum smacker rang them up wrong, he spoke.
“Open it,” he commanded.
I dug through my purse, wishing like hell I carried a bear spray or Mace or hairspray or anything that would give me the second I needed to get away from him. But I didn’t carry anything like that. I felt the pack of gum, the emergency tampon, the extra pacifier, my wallet, and finally my keys. I jerked them out of my purse, nearly dropped them, and clumsily began to unlock the door.
The closer we got to getting in the car, the harder he pushed on the gun. I was going to have one hell of a bruise.
When my trembling hands finally managed to unlock the door, he tightened his grip on my shoulder even more, causing me to wince. He leaned into my ear, which would look to others as if he were whispering something to me. Had he whispered, I wouldn’t have heard him over the sound of my pounding heart echoing in my ears.
“You’re going to get in, slide over to the passenger seat, and nothing more. Do you understand?” He spoke evenly, though in a low tone to avoid being heard by anyone else who might be listening.
I didn’t look at him. I couldn’t. I just stood there, staring at the pavement in shock and very much afraid. My mind was racing, my thoughts a blur.
“If you do anything, and I mean anything at all, other than what I’ve told you to do, I’ll kill you. And if you manage to get away from me, I’ll kill your family, and I’ll take my sweet time doing it. Do you understand?”
This time, I nodded. I wouldn’t let anything happen to my family.
He kissed me on the cheek quickly, causing the knot in my stomach to roll.
“Good. Now get in.”
He snatched the keys from me and I did as I was told, though the urge to open the passenger side door and flee was overwhelming.
He got in quickly and started the vehicle. I made myself as small as possible and leaned against the door, watching through the window as we drove through the parking lot and away to wherever we were going. Hopefully someone I knew would see us and the look on my face. But I saw no one I knew. I fought to keep from vomiting as I realized that no one was going to save me. No one was going to stop him from taking me.
If I’d just stayed home today like I had originally planned, this wouldn’t have happened. But I hadn’t. Damn me and my quest for discounted jeans.
The best thing that could happen to me now is he’d rape me and throw me out of the car somewhere. Knowing that was the best thing that could happen, I tried not to imagine the worst. But I knew. I knew from the moment I felt the barrel of his gun press against my ribs.
Even if I could somehow manage to escape him at some point, everything was going to be different. Assuming he didn’t kill me first, life as I knew it was over and gone forever. If he stopped the car right now, told me he’d been joking and was sorry, then left and I never saw him again, everything would still be different. I’d never again park near large vehicles. I’d never let my guard down anywhere. I would constantly be aware of everything that was happening around me at all times. In essence, I’d drive myself mad trying to stay safe.
But I didn’t have to worry about any of that because he wasn’t stopping, and I was sure he wasn’t joking.
In the side mirror, I watched as the parking lot slipped away behind me, taking me farther and farther from my life and from any hope I had of ever seeing my husband and son.