No More Tears
Michelle Perry
Chapter 1 - Captured!

She was startled by the sound of broken glass. Shards tinkled noisily onto what sounded like the kitchen floor. Hmmm... Sounded like one of the guards raiding the fridge. Whoever it was would be in deep trouble if her father found out about it. She turned her music down. Maybe if she caught him at it, she could blackmail him into letting her go out at night every once in a while. Being forced to be in her room, in her bedclothes by 10:00p.m. every night - including Friday night - was just plain humiliating! She snuck to the bedroom door and peeked out. She could make out a shadowy figure leaving the kitchen. She gripped the door. A burglar! Where were the guards? Why hadn't the alarm gone off? What the was the point of being imprisoned in your own house and constantly tripping over some stupid guard if they weren't going to be around when you needed them? As if in answer to her thought, one of the security guards appeared. "Hey!" Before anything else could be said, the intruder grabbed the guard by the hair, yanked his head back and slit his throat.

She stared. It had happened so fast, the guard hadn't even had the chance to scream. She backed into her room, out of sight of the man downstairs. What could she do? Where could she hide? She didn't dare close the door. What if he happened to be looking upstairs the same instant? What if she made a noise? She jumped, startled by a gruff male voice. "Who are you?! Hey, what -" His voice broke into a strangled cry, and there was a thud like something heavy hitting the floor. She started to shake.

She thought about going out the window. No, that wouldn't work. When they'd moved into this house, her father had picked this room especially for her. Nothing to climb down on, so no sneaking out at night. Call the police? No. Her father had had all the upstairs phones disconnected, just so she couldn't use them while he was away. She would have to go downstairs to call the police, and that was NOT going to happen. She lowered herself to the floor and crawled slowly to the door. She listened carefully and heard sounds downstairs. No one upstairs yet. She crawled out of her room, trying to widen the crack in the door as little as possible. She crawled down the hall towards her parents' bedroom. Another shocked cry. Another thud to the floor. She crawled faster. She opened the door as slowly as she could, slipped in and closed it behind her. No squeaking on that door. Her father would fire the whole staff if his door squeaked.

When she was inside, she went to the window and looked out. There had been a lattice underneath her parents' window. It was gone. Her father must have told the gardeners to get rid of it before he went on his trip. He had probably guessed she would try to sneak out through a different room while he wasn't around to supervise. Damn! Why did he do these things? With all that fucking foresight, you'd think he would have considered emergencies! What if there had been a fire? What if there was a maniac running around downstairs killing everybody???

"Beth?" She gasped and whirled to face the door. Who had called her? One of the guards? No. They always called her "Miss Westlake". It had to be the intruder. "Beeeeth," he called again. She looked around, frantically trying to find a hiding place. Under the bed? No. It wasn't messy enough down there. In a closet? She looked in her father's closet. No good. Damn his fanatical organization! There wasn't even a shoe box on the floor! She went across the room to her stepmother's closet. Better. At least there were furs in there. She could hide behind them better than her father's stark suits. "Where are you, Beth?" She jumped again at the sound of her name. She could now hear that the intruder spoke with a strong English accent. She could also tell that he was getting nearer. He must be on the second floor. She closed the door and walked blindly to the end of the closet. She crouched down against the far wall behind a very furry floor-length coat. She made herself as small as she could and waited, trying not to shake too hard or breathe too loud.

"Beth? Come on out, luv. I won't hurt you." The voice was getting closer. She could hear rustling in what she thought must be her bedroom.

"Come out of there, you! I'm calling the police!" She could have cried with relief. One of the upstairs guards must have found him. But wait. How would he call the police when the upstairs phones were all turned off?

"How?" the man said. "Unless you think you can beat me downstairs." She could hear the sneer in his voice. Then she heard the sound of running feet coming toward her end of the hall. Another set of feet joined the first. Soon there was a thud. Then she heard some scuffling and grunting. Soon, the sounds stopped. Who had won the fight? She didn't dare move to find out. She listened carefully. Footsteps, drawing nearer. They made their way into the room next door to her parents'. "Oh, Beeeeeeth." She felt sick. The guard had lost. She started to shake even more violently. She curled her knees up tighter to her chin to try to control it.

No one else challenged him. She listened as he searched the room next to her. Then the feet moved to her parents' bedroom. Why hadn't she locked the door? Not that it would have made a difference. He'd managed to take out all the guards in the house without any alarms going off. He would have gotten in anyway. "Beeeth," he called. "Where are you?" A few other doors were opened. Probably the bathroom and her father's closet. Then the door to her stepmother's closet opened. He turned on the light and she stopped breathing. He walked purposefully toward the back, moving coats and dresses aside as he went. She pushed herself further against the wall, but that couldn't stop the inevitable. Pulling back the last coat, he found her. Terrified, she looked up into his face. He wore a black turtle-neck, black jeans, black sneakers and black gloves. He wasn't wearing a mask. Black make-up rimmed his dark, deep set eyes. Black lipstick adorned his lips. He grinned at her and she drew further into the wall, her breath coming quicker, and her shaking growing stronger.

He grabbed her by the hair, dragged her out of the closet and threw her into one of the chairs in the bedroom. Her eyes widened when she saw the knife in his hand. It was about nine inches long, and dripping with blood. "Please. Please don't hurt me," she said, starting to cry. He moved closer to her. She thought about all the people downstairs and started to panic. "Don't," she said, shaking her head. "No. NO! HELP," she screamed. "HELP ME!!! HEL-"

Her third cry for help was cut short by a hand round her throat. Beth tried to move away, but the hand was too powerful. With his other hand, the intruder shoved the back of the knife into her mouth and rested the blade on her tongue. "All I have to do is flick my wrist, and it'll come right out," he said. "Don't make me do that, Beth." He looked at her grimly for a few seconds, then slowly removed the knife from her mouth and took his hand off her throat. She took a few deep breaths, wiping the guards' blood from her mouth with a shaking hand. "No more screaming, Beth. Understand?"

"Yes, sir," she whispered. Screaming wouldn't have helped anyway. There was at least a block's worth of space between her house and the next nearest house in the neighborhood. No use getting your tongue cut out over something useless, she thought. Just the possibility made her stomach churn.

"I won't hurt you unless you make me," the man said. "Now come on. You can't travel in your pajamas." He took her arm and pulled her to her feet. He led her to the door, and opened it. In the hall, near the banister, lay a dead man. It was the guard who had threatened to call the police. His throat had been cut and his head lay in a dark pool of blood. Beth sucked in her breath and drew back, walking right into the man behind her. She gasped and jumped as far away from him as she could with him gripping her arm. She looked from the knife to the dead man and started to cry again. "Come on," he said. He dragged her away to her room and shoved her in. "Put some clothes on."

She found some jeans, a t-shirt, a sweater and a coat. She wanted to ask for a little privacy, but he glared at her as if daring her to even suggest it. She dressed quickly, putting her pants on underneath her nightgown and turning around to put on her bra and shirt. She found some sturdy tennis shoes, but her hands were shaking so much that she had a hard time tying them. Where was he taking her? What would he do to her when they got there? She tried to calm herself down by reasoning that if he were going to kill her, he probably would have done it already. Right?

"Come here, Beth." Beth did as she was told, walking slowly, not knowing what to expect. He led her into the bathroom, put the cover down on the toilet and told her to sit. Then he carefully washed his knife in the sink. He took off his gloves and rinsed it clean. Then he went under the sink, got some Ajax and scrubbed it thoroughly. He dried the knife and his hands, then put his gloves back on. To Beth's disappointment, he then polished every surface he had touched, wiping away any trace of his fingerprints. He slid the knife into the sheath on his belt. Then he took Beth's arm and pulled her to her feet. He grabbed her purse on the way out of the room and they made their way down the stairs.

The first thing Beth saw when they reached the stairs was another dead guard. She stopped short, but her captor forced her to keep moving. She stared at her feet through a blur of tears, hoping they wouldn't pass anyone else on the way out. He led her out the back door and down a path to the edge of the yard. There, parked behind some bushes, was a black Oldsmobile. She noticed what excellent condition it was in. It was clean and shiny. She was willing to wager that there wouldn't be a single tear or stain on the upholstery. What stupid details a person will notice when she is more scared than she has ever been in her life. The car had automatic locks, but maybe she could unlock the door and jump out when he wasn't paying attention. Without letting her go, he opened the trunk, pulled out a coil of rope and slung it over his shoulder.

He made her sit down in the car, tied the rope around the armrest, then around her wrists. He left about two inches worth of slack between the knot on her wrists and the armrest. So much for unlocking the door when he wasn't paying attention. He shut the door and came in on the other side. He noticed that she couldn't sit back in the seat with her hands tied that way. He reached between her legs and pulled her seat up so that she could sit back without stretching her arms uncomfortably. "Thanks," she said.

He looked up, a little surprised. "You're welcome." He put her seat belt on as well as his own, started the car, and drove to the road, leaving his headlights off. He didn't turn them on until they were well away from the house. Beth kept track of where they went. She knew her way around very well. If she kept her eyes open, she should be able to find her way home if - when she got away.

After about half an hour, the man turned on the radio. Beth was relieved. Silence made her stir crazy. It didn't pay to be stir crazy when you were being kidnapped by a psychopathic murderer. She stared out the window, trying to drown her fears in the music. Soon, the man started to sing along. Beth was surprised. She found it just a little unnerving that a person who had just finished killing several people in cold blood was now singing happily with the radio. She pushed that out of her head and listened to the rest of the song anyway. When it was over, the man turned the music down to a normal level.

"You have a nice voice," she said.

"Don't be sarcastic!" he snapped, looking at her angrily.

"I... I wasn't," she stammered nervously. His eyes were filled with such fury that she started shaking again. Maybe he was going to kill her.

He stared at her with his piercing eyes for a long time, as if he were trying to decide whether or not she was telling the truth. Finally, his lips curved in a sardonic smile. "How ironic," he said. He turned his attention back to the road, and Beth breathed a sigh of relief. She wondered what was ironic about her thinking he had a nice voice. After pondering it for a few minutes, she gave up and went back to watching the road. After a while, Beth was sure she knew where they were going. The street signs and buildings were all quite familiar to her, as she had traveled this way countless times before. They were headed for LAX.

Beth frowned worriedly. Were they really going to fly somewhere? Where on earth could he be taking her? She was extremely curious, but she was too afraid to ask. Before they reached the airport, her captor pulled into a small, grungy looking motel. He came around to Beth's side of the car and opened the door. Beth strained uncomfortably out of the car, her hands still tied to the door. Her captor knelt beside her. Beth watched nervously as he slowly drew his knife from its sheath. Then, in a swift, fluid motion, he grabbed Beth by the back of her neck, yanked her forward and held the knife against her throat. Beth gasped and tried to pull away, but the man held her so tightly that she couldn't budge. Beth opened her mouth to cry for help, but her kidnapper pressed the blade harder against her neck. "Keep quiet," he said in a low whisper.

Beth shuddered. Was he going to kill her after all? If so, why bring her all the way to LAX to do it? Beth tried to pull away again without success. She started to tremble. "Please," she whispered. "Please don't-"

Beth's captor moved his hand from the back of her neck to the front and squeezed slightly, cutting her off. "I said keep quiet." Beth tried once more to jerk away, but he only squeezed her throat even tighter, cutting her air supply off completely and sending her into a full blown panic. She struggled fiercely to free her wrists and get away. The man frowned, squeezed her neck even tighter and pressed the knife harder against her throat for good measure. "Be still," he ordered.

Beth forced herself to stop struggling. It wasn't working anyway, and she was wasting oxygen. She sat there, trembling violently and trying not to cry. "That's better," he said. "Now I want you to be very still and very quiet when I let you go. Otherwise you'll piss me off." He squeezed Beth's throat even tighter. "You don't want to do that, do you Beth?" Beth managed to shake her head despite the pressure around her neck. Then her kidnapper loosened his grip just enough for her to breathe. Beth took a deep breath. She remained still, except for her shaking which she couldn't control. "Good girl," her captor said. "Now. Listen to me. Try to escape, you'll regret it. Attract any attention to yourself, you'll regret it. You talk to no one, you do what I tell you and you follow my lead. Do you understand me?"

Beth nodded and the man looked satisfied. He untied her wrists and, keeping a tight grip on her arm, led her to the motel's small office. They checked in without event. Beth was sorely tempted to start screaming her head off, but she remembered how quickly her kidnapper had slit the throats of those guards. It was late, and there was only one person behind the desk. It wouldn't do her any good for the clerk to know she needed help if they were both killed before he could do anything. Besides, the clerk seemed to see nothing wrong with a middle aged man taking a girl who could have been mistaken for seventeen in the clothes she was wearing to a motel for the night. Beth wasn't too sure he would have helped her even if she dared to ask.

After he checked them in, the kidnapper took Beth to a small, dingy room. It had one bed, a TV that looked like a blast from the past, and a rickety, noisy air conditioning unit. It was one of those places where cheap guys took chicks for one-night-stands and vice versa. Beth wrinkled her nose in distaste, but didn't comment. "Sit down," her captor commanded, gesturing to the bed. Beth did as she was told, pulling nervously at her shirt and waiting for his next move. He took the rope that he still held and tied her wrists to the bed post. Then he sat across from her on one of the two hideously striped chairs in the room. "Better get some sleep. We've a long flight tomorrow."

If Beth hadn't been so scared, she would have laughed. Get some sleep? Tied to a squeaky bed in a scary motel with a cold-blooded murderer sitting three feet away? Yeah, right. Beth tried her best to relax. At least he wasn't sharing the bed with her. What with the single bed and the ask-no-questions staff, she'd been afraid that he was going to rape her. Of course, just because he was sitting over there now didn't mean anything. Immediately, she was on edge again. She curled herself up into a tight ball on the bed and counted the god-awful flowers on the bedspread. Maybe she could wait for him to fall asleep, then try to get away.

Beth continued to try to occupy her mind with meaningless things until she thought enough time had passed. When she looked at her kidnapper, he was wide awake, staring right at her. Beth averted her eyes. Gotta wait longer. She pretended to sleep for a while, but when she looked again, he was still staring at her. Beth tried again, but he was still looking at her. She started to get more nervous. Was he going to stay up all night? Beth tried to catch him sleeping several more times, but without success. Eventually, fear and exhaustion got the better of her and she fell asleep.

The next morning, Beth was awakened by a heavy hand on her shoulder. She jolted awake, utterly disappointed to see that she was still in a scuz motel with a dangerous man. His eyes and lips were no longer covered in black paint, and he'd brushed his long black hair into a neat pony tail. Without speaking, he untied her hands and led her to the bathroom. "Don't be long," he said, closing the door behind her. Beth stood there for a second doing nothing. It was a relief just to be alone for a moment, out of his frightening presence. Then she came to her senses. What am I waiting for? Time to get away from him for good. Beth searched the bathroom, looking for windows. There was one above the sink. It was small, but maybe she could squeeze through. She climbed quietly onto the sink and struggled with the window. The lock was rusty and hard to turn, but after much silent swearing, she got it open.

Beth stuck her head out the window, but she didn't see anyone she could call out to. Oh, well. Doesn't matter. She gripped the window sill and pulled herself through, managing to get her shoulders out. Just then she heard noise behind her. Before she could process what it was, there was a strong hand on the back of her jeans, yanking her from her perch on the sink. Beth grasped the window as hard as she could, but she could feel her grip slipping. "Help! Help!" she screamed, hoping someone would hear. The hand yanked her twice as hard, and she lost her grip on the window and stumbled to the floor. Before she could get to her feet, her kidnapper smacked her in the face so hard she actually saw stars. Beth scrambled back until she reached the wall, then opened her mouth to scream again.

Quick as lightning, her captor's blade was drawn and pressed against her neck. "Don't even think about it." Beth closed her mouth and swallowed hard, wondering what he was going to do. "I don't have time for bullshit, Beth," he said in a low tone. "I don't appreciate it." Then he backhanded her again on the same side of her face. Beth yelped, but swallowed any further protest. "Don't waste my time like that again." He dragged her to her feet and shoved her out of the bathroom.

When they went to check out, the clerk looked at them and frowned. "Got a complaint," he said. "Somebody screaming for help." He looked pointedly at Beth's face, which must have been a deep shade of red. "Got an explanation?"

Her kidnapper shrugged and handed the key to the clerk. "She tried to scram with my wallet," he lied. "What could I do?"

"Hmph." The clerk shook his head at Beth, took the key and nodded his goodbye to her kidnapper. That was it. That was all that came of her daring escape attempt. Instead of getting away from a murderous kidnapper, she'd gotten a disapproving headshake from some sleazy guy in a run-down motel who thought she was a thieving prostitute. Beth's eyes filled with tears. She wept quietly as her captor led her back to the car, tied her to the door again and drove away.

Close to the airport, he stopped at a gas station. He went away and Beth tried frantically to loosen the ropes around her wrists. She was unsuccessful. Just as she was about to call out to someone for help - hopefully with more success than she'd had earlier - he came back to the car. He drove them to one of the many rental car places around the airport and turned in the Oldsmobile. Beth watched him as he took his black duffel bag and her purse out of the trunk and came over to her side of the car. He untied her hands and put the rope and his knife inside the bag. Then he slung the bag over his shoulder and took her firmly by the arm. "Come on."

Enterprise's shuttle dropped them off at the airport. He took her inside, and they waited in line to get their boarding passes and check the bag. Beth was getting nervous again. She could not get on a plane with this man! Who knew where she would end up? She couldn't get out of the line, because he still had her arm in a tight grip. Besides, she doubted she could outrun him. She remembered what had happened to the guard who'd tried. And he had been trained to protect people! But there had to be a way. She waited and watched for an opportunity.

At the head of the line, he presented two tickets along with his ID. "All right, Mr. Osbourne. Just one bag?"

"That's right."

"And are you over 18?" she asked Beth. Beth nodded. "I'll need to see some ID from both of you, please."

Beth looked worriedly at her captor. She started to look into her purse, but he put a restraining hand on her arm. "Don't be silly, hun," he said. "Don't you remember? You gave it to me, so you wouldn't lose it while we packed. You can be so forgetful sometimes." He laughed and Beth faked a laugh as well. He pulled out a card and showed it to the teller. She looked at it, checked the tickets and Beth's face, and nodded.

"Here ya go," she said, handing the card to Beth. Beth stared at the fake driver's license while her captor arranged for window seats. It was amazing. The picture on the card was definitely her face. Her own dark eyes stared back at her from behind a shock of black bangs. How had he gotten a picture of her? Her name was supposed to be Christina Richardson. Her age and physical description were both accurate. Even her height was correct, although she always wore shoes with extra-thick soles. This was beyond creepy. How long had this man been watching her? And why had he gone to all this trouble to get her?

"That's gate 47, up the stairs and all the way down the hall on your right."

"Thank you," he said with a charming smile. "Come along, luv." Beth cringed a little as he put his arm around her shoulders and led her toward the escalator. When they were out of earshot, he took the fake license from her and said, "Give me your real ID."

"But I need it! What if-"

"Give it to me, Beth," he said again.

Beth just couldn't give up her ID. It was the only thing she had with her real name on it. She could use it to show people who she was when word of her disappearance got out. "How do you know so much about me? I don't even know your name!"

"It's Ozzy, now give me your driver's license," he growled. He squeezed her arm tightly and she flinched.

"Okay!" She fished around in her purse, as if she didn't put her license in the exact same place all the time. After a few moments, she shrugged. "I can't find it. It must be at home somewhere."

He scowled and snatched her purse from her arm. Beth's eyes widened when he ignored her wallet and pulled out her change purse instead. How had he known that was where she kept her license? He pulled it out and put the fake one in its place. He shoved her purse at her and grabbed her arm again, holding her so tightly that she had to bite her lip to keep from crying out. "Try not to treat me like a complete idiot, Beth," he said in a low voice. "Things will go a lot better for you." Then, tossing her ID into the nearest trash can, he continued toward the escalators, keeping his viselike grip on her arm. Beth wished he was an idiot. But instead, he seemed to be extremely smart and well organized, which would make it that much harder for her to escape.

When they got upstairs, they went through the metal detectors. Ozzy had to let her go finally, and she rubbed her sore arm while he went through. He had to empty his pockets once, but they didn't give him any further trouble. That meant he couldn't be hiding any more knives in his pockets or anything. That gave her the confidence she needed to try her escape plan. She went through without any trouble, and he took her arm again. On the way to the gate, Beth stopped. "Do you mind if I go to the bathroom?"

He looked at her speculatively, and she was afraid he might suspect something. After a moment, however, he nodded and said, "Sure." They made their way to the bathrooms and he waited for her outside. "Don't be long," he said.

Beth really did need to use the bathroom, so she did that first. While she washed her hands, she looked around the room. There were no windows. Not even an emergency exit door! Damn! Maybe if she stayed in the bathroom long enough, he would think she had left already and go looking for her. Then she could sneak away. That was pretty iffy, though. Just then, a large group of girls came in, laughing and talking excitedly to each other. Perfect! Beth waited for them to use the toilet, apply their make up and fix their hair. Then she complimented one of them on her jeans, and asked where she had bought them. Some of the other girls got in the conversation, and they talked all the way out of the bathroom. Beth had to struggle not to look towards the place where her captor had been standing. It was hard to talk calmly about malls and why jeans are best for flying when she was a nervous bundle of adrenaline.

She walked with them for as long as she could. When they reached their destination, she said goodbye. Then, still not daring to look behind her, she quickly walked back to the escalators and went downstairs. At first, she looked around for a security guard. She couldn't find a single one. Damn it! she thought. At the other end of the hall, she could see a carousel of pay phones. She ran over to it, noticing that the area around it was practically deserted. That made her nervous. She had been using the crowds to remain hidden. She decided to use the phone closest to the wall. Then she would at least be partially hidden behind the circle of telephones.

She picked up the phone and dialed 9-1-1. To her complete shock, the line was busy. "What?" she said aloud. "How can it be busy!?" She tried again. Still busy. "Shit!" She slammed the phone down, then picked it up and tried again. She still couldn't get through. "Shit, shit, shit!!" she whispered, stamping her foot in exasperation. She knew that the kidnapper must have realized what had happened by now. Time was running out. She looked on the phone itself to see if the direct number to the local police station was posted there. If the number was posted, Beth couldn't see it. The writing had all been obscured by graffiti. "Damn it!! Who claims a fucking pay phone for gang territory, anyway?? Fucking taggers!!" She grabbed the phone book and searched frantically for the direct number. She found it at last. She was so nervous that she dialed the numbers too quickly and messed them up. Sighing in utter frustration, she dialed again, forcing herself to go slowly. As soon as she finished dialing, she could feel someone come to stand beside her.

"Mind if I use the phone?"

"You can use it when I'm done," she said sharply, wondering why he didn't use one of the six other phones on the carousel.

"I need it now," he said, reaching over and disconnecting her call.

"What the hell is your problem???" she shouted. She turned on him, ready to give him an earful. When she saw him, all the outraged obscenities she'd planned to assail him with died on her lips. It was Ozzy! Beth wasted no time being surprised. She immediately turned to run, but Ozzy grabbed her arm before she could take a step. She jerked her free arm back as hard as she could, and her elbow connected with his torso. She was gratified by a grunt from Ozzy, but he didn't let her go. Instead, his grip on her arm tightened. She stamped on his foot and kicked his shin, which elicited another cry of pain. Then she tried to pry his fingers from her arm, but nothing seemed to make him loosen his grip.

Without warning, Ozzy swung Beth by her arm, slamming her into the wall. Before she could recover, he punched her just above her stomach. Beth doubled over in pain and shock, completely unable to breathe. She was too busy trying to get some air into her lungs to struggle against Ozzy. He dragged her to the nearby bathrooms and shoved her in. While she caught her breath, he made sure no one was in any of the stalls. Then he locked the door.

Beth finally managed to catch her breath a little. She tried to back away when she saw Ozzy walking slowly toward her, but she couldn't move. He grabbed her arms, forced her to stand upright, and slammed her against the wall. "Did you think I was stupid??" he shouted. "Did you think I didn't know you would try something like that?!" He yanked her forward and slammed her into the wall again. "I told you not to treat me like an idiot!" He slammed her into the wall again, then again, causing her to cry out. Then, as suddenly as it had begun, his rage ended and he grew completely calm. The sudden change made Beth even more nervous. She cringed, blinking back stinging tears. Ozzy began to speak again. "I know what you're thinking, Beth," he said in a low voice. "You're thinking, 'he must need me for some reason, so he won't kill me.'" That had been exactly what she was thinking. But something in his voice told her that it didn't mean she was out of danger. "You're right," he continued. "I don't want to kill you. Yet. But there's one thing you should understand, Beth." He leaned closer to her, until his face was barely an inch away from her own. "There are a lot of ways I can hurt you without killing you."

He stood up slowly, reached into his pocket and brought out what looked like a little Swiss Army nail kit. Instead of a nail file, or a tiny pair of scissors, however, he pulled out a shiny, three inch blade. Beth drew back. How had he gotten that past the security gates?! He looked at her, noticed her fear and smiled. "Give me your hand, Beth," he said. Beth shook her head and quickly clasped her hands behind her back. Undaunted, Ozzy grasped her left arm and forced it out in front of her. She pulled away, but he squeezed her wrist so hard that she cried out in pain. Then he drew the knife slowly across her hand. Tears ran down Beth's cheeks as she watched her blood welling up from the deep cut. He let her go, and Beth cradled her hand and tried to shove down her rising panic. Ozzy went to the sink and washed the knife thoroughly, as casually as if he were washing dishes. He wiped it with paper towels until it was completely dry, then folded it and put it back in his pocket. Then he walked over to Beth, put his hand on the back of her neck and led her quickly out of the bathroom.

The moment they walked out the door, he started to shout. "Help! Help! Is there a medic around??" Then he stroked her shoulder and said loudly, "Don't worry, sweetheart. We'll get you some help right away." Beth stared at him. Now he was really scaring her. In a moment, he had changed from callous, knife-wielding kidnapper to caring, worried boyfriend. What was she going to do? He was dangerous, intelligent, and he was either insane, an excellent actor, or both. And Beth couldn't get away from him. She started to shake uncontrollably, and her tears flowed faster. "Can I get some help here?!" Ozzy shouted. "I think she's going into shock!"

Shortly, an airport staff member ran over to them, carrying a first aide kit. They led Beth to a bench and she sat down. Ozzy sat right beside her, and kept his hand on her neck. "What happened, ma'am?" the medic asked.

Beth couldn't answer. She couldn't stop her hitching sobs long enough to speak. "Don't worry, angel," Ozzy said soothingly. He stroked her arm with his free hand. "It's all right." She tried to pull away from him, but he kept her still with his other hand. She couldn't resist, so she just shook harder.

"Can you tell me what happened, sir?" the medic asked as he cleaned the wound.

"She was attacked in the bathroom," he answered, truthfully enough. "He ran past me when I walked in. I must have scared him off."

The medic began to wrap her hand. "Did you see who attacked you, miss?" he asked.

Without thinking, Beth looked at Ozzy. He just smiled reassuringly at her. Beth turned away and took some deep, slow breaths, trying hard to calm down. Finally, in a shaky voice, she said, "I saw him..." Ozzy's hand tightened a little on her neck. "...but I didn't get a good look," she finished. "He... he had a mask."

"Could you tell me anything else about him? Say, about how tall he was?"

Beth glanced at Ozzy again. "About... about five-eight. Maybe a little more. Broad shoulders..... heavy set. He... he lifted me off the ground easily."

"Do you think she'll be all right?" Ozzy asked worriedly.

"She should be fine," he answered, putting the finishing touches on the dressing. "Just try not to move it too much for a few days. And keep it clean, so you won't get infected. I can't prescribe medicines, but almost any countertop medicine with ibuprofen in it would help with the pain. Now, if you'll come with me, I'll take you where you can file a report."

"I don't know if we have time for that," Ozzy said. "Our flight leaves soon."

"But, sir, I really think - "

"This trip is very important to us," Ozzy said. "But it's up to you, of course," he said, looking at Beth.

If it were up to Beth, she would report everything to security - the way it really happened. But Ozzy applied a little more pressure to her neck and she knew exactly what it meant. "I....I don't think I want to file a report," she said. "We really do have to get going."

The medic looked disappointed. "All right, miss. If you say so." He packed up his things and said, "Enjoy your flight."

"Thank you," Beth said. Ozzy thanked him too, then helped Beth to her feet. As they headed back up the stairs, Beth asked timidly, "Do we really have to leave soon?"

"We have about 30 minutes," Ozzy answered.

"Then can we please walk a little slower? I feel queasy." Ozzy obliged, but even at the slower pace, they had to stop at a trash can so Beth could empty her upset stomach. Ozzy let her make another stop to rinse her mouth in one of the water fountains, and they made their way to gate 47 without further problems. He told her to sit in one of the many chairs near their gate.

"I'm going to get a newspaper. Do you want anything?"

"Something to drink, please? And maybe a book?" She had no idea how long the flight would be, nor how long she would be with him after that. She needed something to keep her mind occupied, so she wouldn't have to think about her situation. "I like to read - "

"I know what you like. I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't move." He walked away, and Beth tried to think of something positive. All she could come up with was the fact that she was still alive. Since she wasn't sure how long she would stay that way, it didn't seem like much of a consolation, but it was better than nothing.

"Mind if I sit here?" Beth looked up to see a young man standing in front of her. He looked to be about her age or a few years older. He was about 5'5" - the same height as she was. Well, the same height if she included her thick-soled shoes. He was wearing tight black pants, a billowy blue shirt tied at the waist, and a beautiful smile.

Beth glanced around the room. There were plenty of seats available, but she saw no reason to make a point of it. She attempted to return his smile. "Not at all," she replied.

His smile widened. "Thanks," he said, sitting down. "I'm Steve."

"Pleased to meet you, Steve," she said, shaking his proffered hand. She didn't offer her name. In all the excitement, she had forgotten what her alias was supposed to be.

They sat in silence for a moment. Then Steve said, "I hope you won't think I'm being nosy or anything, but you look a little sad. Are you okay?"

Beth sighed. "I'm having sort of a bad weekend," she said. She gave a grim chuckle. Talk about understatements.

"I'm sorry to hear that. Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?"

"It's really nice of you, but I don't think there's anything you can do," she said. She found it almost absurd that this guy was hitting on her right now. He was cute. Really cute. He had big hazel eyes, a pointed chin, full lips, and a large nose that fit in nicely with his other features. She especially liked his hair. It was dark brown, shiny and soft looking, and flowed down almost to his waist. His bangs were cut just above his pretty eyes. He had a slight frame, but he was muscular as well. He looked a little like a dancer, especially in those tight pants. And he seemed to be extremely nice, too. Any other time, she would have loved having a guy like that pay attention to her. But as it was, she was too shaken to respond with the fervor that she would have under normal circumstances. However, Steve seemed bent on trying anyway.

"Aw, come on," he said. "There must be something I can do! I'll bet I can make you laugh."

She raised a skeptical eyebrow at him. Then she shrugged. "You can try."

Suddenly, he crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue. She smiled, but no laugh. Then he made a fish face, and kept it up until Beth couldn't help but laugh. Steve stopped making faces and smiled at her. "Told you I could do it," he said triumphantly.

"And you were right. Thank you."

"For what?"

"For making yourself look completely ridiculous just to make me laugh."

"My pleasure! I'm in the habit of looking ridiculous for women," he said. Beth laughed again. "Aha! I'm on a roll!"

"Who's your new friend, honey?" Beth nearly jumped out of her skin. Steve really had done a good job of cheering her up. For a moment, she'd forgotten all about Ozzy. She turned to see him take his seat on the other side of her.

"This...this is Steve," she said nervously.

"Good to know you, Steve," he said. They shook hands. "I'm Ozzy."

"Nice to meet you." Beth thought she could see a tinge of disappointment in his eyes. Just then, they began making the boarding announcements. Both Steve and Ozzy looked up, then checked their tickets. Then Steve said, "Not me yet, but I think I'll leave the two of you alone now." He took Beth's hand and if he was looking at her at all, he could see that she was as disappointed as he was. "Very nice meeting you, miss," he said. "I hope your weekend brightens up."

"Thank you very much," she said, smiling at him. He picked up his bag and wandered off. Beth followed him with her eyes. Cute AND sweet. Damn she wished she had time to flirt! Maybe she would try to get his phone number anyway. Maybe if - when she got away from Ozzy he would still be available. Ozzy's strong hand on her arm brought her back to the present.

"I hope you weren't boring your new friend with any sordid details, Beth."

"No," she said, alarmed. "No, I didn't tell him anything. I swear!"

"Good. Because if you were to tell anyone who you are, I would have to punish you again. You don't want that, do you, Beth?"

Beth shuddered and looked down into her lap. "No, sir," she whispered.

"I didn't think so. Besides, if your little friend learned too much, I'd be forced to make sure he never told anyone else, wouldn't I?"

Beth looked up at him, wide eyed. She understood very well what that meant. "You.... you'd...."

"Only if I have to, Beth. Now come on. They're calling our number." Ozzy held his newspaper and other purchases in one hand, and he kept hold of Beth's arm in the other. He guided her as they boarded the plane, making her walk in front of him down the narrow walkway. He stopped her when they reached their seats. "Here it is."

"Hello!" Beth looked up at the cheerful greeting. It was Steve! He had the window seat in the row behind them.

"Hi, Steve!"

"Hey, I got a smile right away," he teased. "And I wasn't even trying!"

"You're holding up the line," Ozzy warned.

Beth looked nervously at him. "Sorry." She quickly took her seat at the window. Remembering Ozzy's threat, she avoided looking at Steve. Ozzy sat down beside her and put his bag under the seat. Soon after she sat down, someone came over and checked that they had their seat belts on. The captain welcomed everyone, and announced their flight time into New Jersey's International Airport. Aha. Now she knew where they were headed. In part, anyway. While they taxied to the runway, she watched the emergency procedures video. She'd seen it so many times, she knew it by heart, but she pretended to be interested anyway. When they had taken off and were able to remove their seat belts if they wanted, Ozzy pulled a thick word-puzzle book and a pen from the bag he'd put under his seat. "Here," he said, handing them to her. "I found your favorite book, too," he said, pulling out a fiction fantasy novel about 800 pages long.

"Thanks," she said. "How did you know this was my favorite book?" she asked.

"I pay attention to what you buy. I listen to what your friends say about you."

"Well, what about that driver's license," she asked. "I might understand you being able to get a picture of me, but only my closest friends know how tall I really am!"

"You can't wear your platforms all the time. I've seen you when you swim in your father's pool. I saw you sneak out of your old house many times. You always went barefoot to avoid making noise. Besides, like I said, I pay attention to your purchases. You faithfully buy shoes with two and a half inch soles - never fails. The rest is just simple math."

Beth gaped at him. They had moved into the new house almost two years ago. He had to have been watching her a lot longer than that, since he said he'd seen her sneak out "many" times. Two and a half years. Maybe three. Maybe more! All that time, everything she'd said - every place she'd been - everything had been witnessed by him. Her eyes filled with tears. "Why... why have you been watching me?" she asked in a quavery whisper. "What do you want with me?"

"If I decide to explain it to you, I'll do it when we're alone. For now, just relax." He started to open his newspaper, but looked over at Beth again. "How's your hand?"

"It still hurts," she answered, straining not to let her tears show in her voice.

He reached into his bag and pulled out some apple juice and a bottle of Advil. "Here."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." He watched as a couple of tears ran down her face. He reached over to brush one away and she flinched. "Relax," he said again. "Just try to enjoy the flight. I know how much you like flying."

He went back to his paper and Beth took the two pills. Ozzy's mention of her love of flying only served to remind her of just how much he knew about her. She turned her face to the window so he wouldn't see the tears that continued to fall. In a moment, several tissues appeared between her armrest and the bulkhead. Along with them was a little note that read, "Please don't cry. I'll be forced to start making silly faces again, and this plane is pretty crowded."

Beth laughed. Then she grabbed her pen and wrote on the back of the note. "You succeeded again - no silly faces required." With a hesitant glance at Ozzy, who was engrossed in his newspaper, she passed the note back to Steve. She smiled at him through the space between her seat and the wall. "Thank you," she mouthed.

"You're welcome," he whispered. He read her note, and laughed. Then he looked up, crossed his eyes and puckered his lips. Beth giggled, and he laughed along with her.

"What's so funny?" Ozzy asked.

Beth gasped and quickly turned to face forward in her seat. "Um... he just gave me some tissues," she answered, holding them up as proof.

"Awfully funny tissues, aren't they?" he asked. She tried to think of something to say, but Ozzy didn't wait for her. "Just remember what I said," he warned. She nodded, and he went back to his reading.

Beth could feel the tears welling up again. She made use of the tissues and told herself to relax. While she was busy performing deep breathing exercises, something tickled her elbow. She looked down to see another note. She ignored it, and pulled out her puzzle book. Then, in a motion that would have made any high school student proud, she slid the note onto her book and read it. "Why does he frighten you so much?" Beth stared at the note. It worried her. If Ozzy found out that Steve had noticed her fear of him, he might decide to silence him before he noticed anything else. Pretending to fill out a crossword puzzle, Beth turned the note over and wrote, "I can't explain. Please don't worry." When she could do it without being seen, she passed the note back to Steve. Then she started to actually work on her puzzles.

Chapter 2

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