When she was 17 (After Taken)
She had been drinking. Too much. But she felt free. Wholly living in the now, the dark corners of her memories could be ignored. Rehab therapy was horrible, not as horrible as what had happened but they wanted her to face it. When she was drugged she didn’t care, of course there was a vague horror but she remembered floating on a cloud of don’t give a fucks. Is it so bad she wanted to feel like that again? But with Vodka and Rum and whatever was in that last plastic cup there was no sinking horror. No other girls crying in the dark. No being forced into skimpy outfits and told to perform. But there are boys here. Men. Why are there so many men? Kim stopped dancing and looked. They were all around her. She was surrounded. She was in a spotlight while shadows made bids read out by a voice from the dark. She shoved her way free from the people around her. Lashing out. Elbow. Knee. Someone grabbed her arm. She replied with nails like claws. Blood and yelling. There is a girl in the dark, crying. So cold. Cold handcuffs. Cold dirt. Cold night air. She was outside. She was free. Must get home. Must get safe. Dad! Kim crossed the road the ground lurching like the deck of a ship with each step. Get under the bed. They are going to take you. No bed to get under. They are going to take you. Bushes, Yes! Hide. Phone. Speed dial. Did I press the right number? Must have, it is ringing. Click.
‘Dad! Dad I need help. ’M so scared tell me what todo.’
‘Who is this and how did you get this……’ Not dad’s voice. Wrong number. All is lost! Alone so alone.
‘….Kimmy?’ Someone who knows her. They can help. Find dad. Get safe.
‘Please help. Where is dad?’
‘He is out of the country for the week, he told me he told you’ Sam. That voice belonged to Sam. He is dad’s friend. He can hel…..out of the country?! Oh, now she remembered. Gone till the 3rd but call if you need anything. Dad would worry, would fly back for her. She wasn’t meant to go to the party, she certainly wasn’t meant to be drinking. No mind altering substances without therapist and rehab consultant approval.
‘Kim are you still there? You sounded panicked’ the tiny voice from the phone was calling her. How did her phone end up on the ground?
‘I’m sorry Sam. I’m doing things I wasn’t meant to. Sorry.’
‘Hey, it’s okay. Tell me where you are and I’ll pick you up no questions asked and take you home. Does that sound alright?’
That sounded great, if only she could remember where she was. Geez, she put herself in so much danger tonight, now she wouldn’t even be able to tell help where to come to help her. Miserable she replied ‘I don’t know where I am’
‘Hang on.’ Rustling noises. Some clicks. Tapping noises like a keyboard. ‘Okay, I have you up on GPS. I can be there in 20 minutes. Stay there.’ GPS? Well, Sam asked her to stay so she would. He said he could find her. ‘Okay’ she replied two minutes too late to a dial tone.
Now that she was calmer she could feel the damp seeping into her clothes. She could hear some distant thumping. The beat traveling through the earth like drums calling the warriors to fight. Warriors like her father, like his friends, like Sam. She heard her name called a few times, but not by Sam, so they weren’t safe voices. At least she didn’t hear that voice calling her produkti. Anything was better than that voice and what it meant. But she was saved once, she will be saved again, and maybe now she can become strong enough to save herself. No longer let the dark corners of her memories control her. Use her memories to become fierce, strong and smart.
Suddenly there was a face above her. She hadn’t heard anything. The face must move like a cat. Kim giggled at the image her mind provided. Sam’s face curved into a knowing and patient smile. Sam was here, she would be safe. And not ask questions.
Kim reached out with her hand, fingers reaching to reduce the space between them. He held her hand and helped her stand. He stared at her. Her eyes were glassy, pupils dilated. He would not ask questions. Sam saw the blood on her nails and finger tips, the torn clothing. He would not ask, but God she made it hard, but if he spooked her now he might not find her again. As he tucked a coat around her and led her to his car he wondered anew how she could have travelled the distance from the party he passed, assuming she was at that party, in the state she was in. He could barely hear the music here, but it had been deafening as he drove past. Yes, he would choose to believe this was from the party, because if this was done to her in a private home those few people who could be held accountable would be in graves once her father got back. He had become super protective after he saved her the last time.
She was silent as he held the car door for her. She was silent but flinched when he indicated the turn he was about to make. She was silent as he chose a different route that wouldn’t pass the party house. In that silence Sam worked out that the blood was not hers and that she had had more than alcohol at the party. Halfway to their destination she spoke.
‘I think I had a panic attack’
He was silent, allowing the silence to become a void she would feel compelled to fill. He would ask no questions but he would hear all she had to say.
‘I was drinking then they were all around me and I remembered. I…..I panicked. Then I accidently called you instead of dad.’
So, if she is being honest the drugs were probably in a spiked drink and the blood and dress probably happened when she was running from the party and the memories. If she had managed to get through to Bryan he would have called and Sam would have ended up picking her up anyway. At least now she would have some time before Bryan came down on her about putting herself in such a vulnerable position.
Kim had been silent and she had explained, still Sam said nothing. He seemed a stern figure in the driver’s seat, illuminated by headlights or not at all. His car smelt like antiseptic and gun oil. His coat smelt like wool, gun oil and him. Safe. Dad would be the same, he would be silent until she was sober enough to appreciate his lecture….but Sam wouldn’t lecture. After this he would go back to his life and call her father. Her father lectures her because he gets scared, because he cares. Does Sam care?
Though he kept his attention on the streets Sam had noticed Kim get more and more tense. He thought she would have relaxed after her explanation, taking his silence as non-critical. She was probably still riding high on whatever drugs and alcohol were in her system, at least she was still alert so there probably wasn’t enough to over dose on. He was worried that she didn’t seem to notice they were not heading for the mansion she lived in. Did she trust him that much or was she just too high to notice much of anything?
He finally pulled up at their destination. The ER of the fancy private hospital. She would be taken care of and her father would get a full report on what was in her system and any damage. She had been spared the worst treatment with the human traffickers because she was a virgin, and God help anyone if she wasn’t still one. Those teenage boys at the party wouldn’t know what hit them if anything non-consensual had happened. It wasn’t cowardice that made Sam want a doctor to break that sort of news to Bryan, it was simple weakness, he didn’t want to know if she had been forced, knowing would break something in him. Kimmy was the apple of her dad’s eye and as such had been a little gem of purity and happiness for the team. Their lives were suspicion and blood, intelligence and violence, yet under 12s sport team achievements gossip was shared and birthday photos were passed around while Bryan glowed with pride. If she had been forced tonight it wouldn’t just be her father stepping up to the line to deal with the problems.
Kim looked at Sam. He was staring at the steering wheel, and that was her first hint that they weren’t driving anymore. She hadn’t noticed, didn’t know how long they had been parked. Looking out the window she saw where they were, recognised the logo of the hospital and the large glowing red-cross over the ER doors. Turning back she leaned over, pushing her hand against Sam’s shoulder until he looked at her. Even though she felt fuzzy and the world was slowly tilting she could see the anger in his eyes, the fear. Riding high on her cloud of freedom Kim leaned forward, closing her eyes too early she almost missed, but her lips caught on the edge of his mouth. Sliding slightly she kissed him with all her feelings, the care, the gratefulness, and many more that flicked through too fast to identify. He did not respond and the stubble on his chin pricked uncomfortable enough to have her leaning back. She stared. His eyes were dark and unreadable.
‘How could you have let yourself get drunk enough, and even drank a spiked drink, that you would be kissing someone almost as old as your father?’ Without waiting for an answer Sam slipped from the car and came around to help her out. On the short walk to the doors Kim couldn’t help the smile pulling the corners of her lips. He was lecturing her. He cared.
When she was 23 (Before Taken 3)
Kim was furious and hurt. This was the fourth time it had happened. She had been dumped because apparently she doesn’t feel enough, she doesn’t love enough. No one can commit to a relationship because they don’t feel she really wants to commit to them, and why should she be upset because they think she doesn’t feel for them the same way they do for her. That their heartbreak is more than hers because they love her and obviously (supposedly) she doesn’t love them. Bastards. Every one of them. She can feel. She does feel. She might not feel the same as they do, she might not love as deeply, but that comes with time! They can all go shove it. Kim stomped away from the restaurant. So what if she flinches sometimes when they touch her? She has had traumatic experiences with men. So what if she doesn’t have more than one glass of alcohol? And doesn’t do drugs? That is just being healthy. So what if sometimes in the dark when they touch her she freaks out and hides for the rest of the night? That only happens when the memories are riding her. She takes joy in her days. Loves her routine. She is not suspicious of the people around her. She is confident and strong, she has fought and won, so why can’t she love any of them enough so they stay?
Feeling maudlin over the fact that she might have to resign her life over to only having male friends and her dad as the men in her life Kim scans her surroundings and spots a bar. Thinking that place is as good as any for her single glass of the day, she opens the door in search of something tasty to smooth over her feelings about being dumped. Again. Sighing she walks up to the bar and is surprised by a familiar face.
‘Sam’ she calls as she walks over to him and his empty barstool on either side, positioned to see all the exits. He stands to give her a hug and offer a greeting. She gladly takes one of his stools and feels the wet eyes of observers in the darkness slide off to look for more available meat elsewhere. She flushes slightly at the pleasure of being relaxed. At the restaurant she had felt on display, as if she was part of some performance that was eagerly watched by people walking past and other’s in the restaurant. This place though was sort of dark and dingy, looking around the photographs and memorabilia pegged it as a military veterans drinking hole so these men would recognise training and respect privacy, which explains why no one was hassling Sam about claiming four stools.
‘Yeah, I’m surprised to see you here Kimmy, probably as surprised as your face tells me you are at being here. But as you are here, and you are of age, let me buy you a drink’
‘I’d like a beer, whatever you are having is fine. I found myself in the neighbourhood, and in need of a drink so this place is perfect’
‘I’m glad you think so, personally I hate the wallpaper’
Kim snickered, looking it did seem to be a discoloured squashed bug repeated with vines, probably meant to be roses or daisies. Her beer arrived and the glass was clean, so she wasn’t going to be too critical as she needed time to smooth over her jagged emotions. Maybe talking would help? Mom’s not here, and talking to dad about boys was a mistake as she hadn’t even mentioned this last one to him and he would flip if he knew they were already basically living together.
‘Promise me you won’t rat on me to dad while I use you as a sounding board and I’ll pay for all your drinks tonight’ She gave Sam her best unsure but game smile, hoping he will help her feel better about everything by giving her another point of view. She felt better about her plan as Sam gave her a measuring look.
‘Let’s get a booth’
And so they did. And she poured out her feelings. When her glass finished she had another. Venting was relaxing, or was she venting more because she was relaxing? Kim hadn’t meant to mention the other three or the apartment hunting they had been doing. She was really getting into highlighting the last guy’s bad points when Sam slammed his glass down on the table.
‘Kimmy, how on earth do you pick such….such imbeciles? I agree with your dad on this, you need to have them all background checked at least, maybe something more proactive, I’m sure I can get my hands on something. What the fuck is emotional cheating anyway? It is not like emotions are actionable choices! You were thinking of moving in with the last one, Derek or Drew, really?’
‘The dorms have small rooms and I wanted some space, it is…was Dan’
‘Pfft. Your family is rich enough to get you a place by yourself. You don’t need to rent with some dick who thinks he is entitled to your bed. Really did you not see the red flags on that one? Talk about clingy and entitled! Expecting you to drop all your plans just because the day happens to be the 14th of the second month. Well, I say you had a lucky escape!’
‘It isn’t the money, I get lonely’ Kim stared at her beer. She had to agree those guys weren’t right for her, but it is so hard because she wanted someone to be right for her.
‘Being lonely isn’t that bad. You learn to enjoy other things, sometimes you don’t even notice you are the only one’
She looked up at Sam, who was not the one staring at his glass. ‘Is that what it is like for you? You feel lonely?’
Their eyes met over the sticky table.
‘Hey I don’t want your pity now. I enjoy my life, I just happen to be alone. Work was most of my life. No wife, no kids, huh, no pets either now that I think of it. I have friends, good friends. That is all I need’. Though his words were strong, Kim could see a sort of sadness in his face. When was the last time he had a hug before she came through the door? Her dad was his best friend but they didn’t get together all that often, and even then it was golf or a barbeque. She couldn’t help thinking it was such a waste of a good man, he should be able to do anything he wanted with his life but he could give so much joy. She reached over and covered his hand with both of hers.
‘You enjoy your life but you don’t love it? You have what you need but not what you want? I keep finding things I think I want and they turn out to be not what I need. I think we are both fairly hopeless cases who might just have to make do’
Kim slid back feeling emptier now having stripped them both down to truths. Leaving him at the table she paid the tab and ordered a taxi. Sam was still sitting at the table so she helped him up and outside to wait for their shared cab. She would get him home then go back to her small dorm room she shared with the messy annoying roommate.
He was silent as they waited. He was silent as she helped him into the back seat of the cab and gave his address (how did she know that?). He was silent as they turned down his street. She had been sitting next to him, silent as well. Her words churned through him, biting his ego and heart. His life, what there was of it, was a shell. He had seen too much, done too much, to put himself out there, be vulnerable. For so much of his working life having vulnerable spots meant pain and death. But Bryan had managed it. For a while he had a wife and child. A happy home. Sam knew he was probably idealising, but he had almost lived vicariously that happy life, and if it is only a dream then why should it be less than ideal?
And what about Kim? Making poor choices because she is lonely and society has given her a relationship map that doesn’t work? Young guys with good prospects and good looks who everyone approves of but who keep stabbing her in the same way, saying she doesn’t love enough for them, as if they alone can be the one light in her sky. Kim is so caring and protective, her empathy is what makes her an outstanding person. She will always love others, she will love her parents and her friends and the girls who cry in the dark. She needs a man who can accept that she shares her feelings without seeing them all as rivals or competition, someone who can step back and let her care for others without giving her ultimatums or guilt trips.
He had watched her grow up, from a tiny baby to a beautiful young woman, she has determination and power. She surpassed expectations to find and save her parents in Istanbul, but she is her father’s daughter so it shouldn’t be surprising. Insightful too. What did he want so he could love his life? An old memory floated to the surface of a kiss in a car outside a hospital. The cab pulled up outside his place. Riding on his cloud of memory Sam leaned forward, watching her for any sign of pulling away, lips touched lips and he kissed her with all his feelings, the care, the gratefulness, and many more that flicked through too fast to identify. Leaning back he watched her.
‘What do you want Kim?’
He paid the driver, tossing the folds of money with a muttered keep the change. He walked Kim to his door, not touching because he felt that once he started he wouldn’t be able to stop. He would show her that men didn’t only want to use her, didn’t only want her body for their own pleasure, that she wasn’t not-enough. Door open. Door closed. He reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear then stepped back. He never wanted to trap her, so he would give her an out right now in case she was having second thoughts.
‘You don’t have to stay, I can get you another cab…’ She cut him off with a growl. Flinging her bag on the ground she stepped up to him. With vicious tenderness she slid her hands to cup his face then slide around his neck to draw him in for a kiss. A simple delicate pressure of lips while her hands rubbed his neck and slid through his hair. Unlike the last kiss she remembered with him this time he responded. His tension melted under her hands. He became brave enough to touch her arms and shoulders, but gently as if she was going to disappear like a cobweb under a careless finger. When his hands slid down to grip her waist she decided she had to know. Was this just some rebound sex, a pity fuck, or some desperate lonely contact? She didn’t even know her own answers to those questions, but she remembered how she felt once six years ago. She pulled back and asked
‘What do you want Sam?’
Their beer tainted breath pooled between them. Each had taken a step in this dance but both were aware this was a turning point. There could be no lies, no facades. In this moment nothing existed except them.
When their mouths met again it was with fiery passion. Sam took two steps until she was pressed against the wall and in response she curled her thigh over his hip to let her heat be felt as their tongues danced. Kim felt a strange sensation flow through her, comforting and exciting. She had always known this feeling was possible if only she could find it, she had a small taste before but now it possessed her. Kim stripped him out of his clothes as he steered her towards the bedroom, the clothing falling like leaves down the hallway. When she tried removing her own clothes his arms tightened, frustrated she tried tearing off the buttons so her starving skin could touch his. Sam broke the kiss and bent slightly to swing her up into his arms, which surprised her enough that she stopped trying to get out of her clothes.
‘Patience. Let me unwrap you like the gift you are’
Placing her gently on the bed that is what he preceded to do. Layer after layer of cloth was peeled slowly off, and the newly exposed skin was suckled, kissed and teased. Kim floated on the sensations. Her bra was slipped off like a whisper and feather kisses travelled down her shoulder allowing the anticipation to burn bright. Finally he reached her nipple, expertly sucking and flicking, she arched her hips towards his and watched the grin crinkle his eyes as he watched her watching him.
Sam wasn’t thinking of sex, he just wanted to give her as much pleasure as he was capable of giving. Her movement and noises guiding him where to go next. He moved on to her other nipple and leaving the previous one to the ministrations of his fingers. He loved her taste and smell, to hear her cries echoing off the empty walls of his apartment, the empty walls of his heart. He watched her eyes glazed with pleasure, watching him, seeing him, knowing him. Without breaking eye contact he pushed up to capture her red lips once more. Tongues rubbing leisurely like cats while lips battle. He forgot to breathe so came up gasping as she panted heavily underneath him. Looking down he followed a train of skin to the last strip of cloth, kissing moles and scars as he came across them.
Her panties were pink and lacy and for a second all he could think about was that she didn’t put these on for him. Then she flexed, drawing her knees up to open herself to him in unspoken urging. Then it didn’t matter anymore, she was here with him and she was letting him take them off, which really was the more important part of that equation. Semi-translucent pink fabric slithered over tanned thighs revealing glistening flesh of a richer, warmer pink. Transfixed he was drawn in until his own glistening lips touched that pink and his tongue resumed its rubbing and his lips their battle. The tanned thighs wrapped around his head, covering his ears, muffling the screams. He knew this dance, he didn’t stop until she lay limp and quivering, skin dewy with perspiration. He followed a different strip of flesh back up, kissing different moles and scars as he came across them.
Sam wasn’t thinking of sex as he memorised the details of her face. Kim opened her eyes as he watched her, he waited for awareness to filter through the haze of afterglow. He waited until she was watching him, seeing him, knowing him. He wasn’t thinking about sex as she tilted her hips to capture his hardness, then he found he couldn’t think at all. They moved with a sinewy grace, sharing breath as they chased pleasure together. Then when her sharp nails dug into his buttocks asking for more, he gave her everything.
A few hours later
Sam watched the dawn sun dance with shadows on the ceiling. Delaying the truth. If he wished hard enough maybe this wish would come true and he would be alone in bed. He wouldn’t have done what he did. He would be alone, just like the past few months, few years, alone. Did he really want that? He turned his head and saw the girl. Recognised the girl. He had two decades of memories of the girl. Seeing her photo when she was a newborn, her father so proud. Her father. Sam looked at the face that slowly turned to him, sleepy eyes blinking, lips smiling, and felt her father’s blades cleave his skin. He would be efficient. Maybe some wires and a bit of zap, or maybe some water. Sam was well aware of what his future would hold, they had worked together for so long. It would be painful and slow. No apologies or excuses would be accepted. Normally Bryan Mills was effective…unstoppable, but when it is personal, when it is Kimmy, he turns into a force beyond control. He becomes death.
Turning away Sam sat up on the edge of the bed and began fishing his pants off the floor. Abruptly he stood, scared she was reaching for him. He kept his back to the bed as he put his pants on, the metal button tinkling against the zip broke the silence of the morning. Giving the following silence an unbearable weight. For the first time in memory Sam cracked under pressure. He spoke from his fear.
‘We should just forget anything happened. We saw each other at the bar and that was it. Your father doesn’t need to know. I will just forget this, you should too.’ Please accept. Please agree. Don’t sign my death warrant.
A noise from the bed? Sam continued ‘Just forget. I’m sure this is as shameful for you as it is me. If you forget you won’t have to regret.’ He would always remember. It will haunt his lonely nights. If her father doesn’t torture him the memories of last night surely will.
Kim rolled out of bed, flinging the sheets wide, and turned. Her naked skin goosepimpling in the sudden cold, the cold of morning and a cold from inside. A chilling anger started to burn as she felt the heat of tears behind her eyes.
‘I regret nothing. There is no shame in making love, and I do, I love you, and don’t try to tell me how I feel. I love my father and you are like him. I trust you. You are strong, brave and smart. You wouldn’t put me in harm’s way, but you are not my father, so I wonder what your skin tastes like, what noises you make when bliss takes you and how you feel inside me.’ Kim’s voice rose to a shout, ‘The question of you has been the ghost haunting all my previous relationships!’
Her muscles held tense as a tornado of violent emotions tore through her, love, hate, fear, pain, joy, the dam broke and the tears spilled down her cheeks. Shuddering as she tried to stop the flood she fled the room, her sobs floating in the air to the scared man standing by the bed.
Sam followed the sound of heartrending pain stifled to choked sobs. He found her huddled by the side of the couch. Naked on his cold floor. He crouched down to try and see her face but she eluded him, just showing long brown hair and young skin.
‘It’s just….when I look at you I see the little girl you were. Riding that pony or dressed up in designer clothes as if you were your mother’s doll. I see my best friend in you….actually, I see my best friend pointing a gun at me’
As he had talked Kim had quietened, and at his silence she lifted her face from her knees and looked at him with tragic eyes.
‘But you don’t see me’
Sam stared. Her eyes were bloodshot, the eyelids puffy. Her crying had brought high colour to her cheeks, which were dewy and glistening with tears. Lips deep pink and kiss swollen. Lightly tanned skin covered sinewy strength. Kim reached out with her hand, long delicate fingers reaching to reduce the space between them. Feminine hands. Capable hands. Hands that had shot guns. Had thrown grenades to find her parents. Sam reached out, closing the distance between them. Warm flesh slid over cold flesh. He held her hand. He stared at her. Her eyes were wary and beautiful.
‘I see you Kim. God help me, I see you’
He helped her stand and led her back to bed. They got tucked in under the still warm covers. He left his pants on. She trailed her cold fingers around his chest and stomach until she drifted into an exhausted sleep. Sam watched the morning sun dance with shadows on the ceiling.
‘God help me’