Freight Trained

By: Sarah Curtis

Chapter One



Prologue

The girl slowly came awake, opening her eyes. She was disoriented, and her head pounded, making it difficult to concentrate. She lay, flat on her back, on something soft. A bed of some sort? Her body felt heavy, and her arms were raised above her head at a weird angle, but when she tried to move them, realized they were attached to something. She felt around, her fingers encountering cool metal bars. She gave her arms an experimental tug, the bite of something digging into her wrists. A rope?

She raised her head, the throbbing grew stronger, but she ignored it to scan the room. Her bed was wedged into a corner, the wall it was up against made of logs and had a single small window covered with dirty curtains. An old grimy couch and an ancient TV complete with a set of antennae sat at the far end of the room where the only door was located. To her right was a wooden table surrounded by a couple of rickety chairs and a makeshift kitchenette. Nothing looked familiar, she didn't recognize where she was, and her mind was a total blank on how she'd gotten there.

Her eyes flew back to the door as it opened, a man filling its space. Her heart sped upon recognition. What the hell was going on? She racked her brain, trying to recall the last thing she remembered. A party at Marcia Simmon's house. Her parents were away for the weekend. She remembered having a few beers, but she didn't get drunk, maybe a little tipsy at most. She'd gone out to her car to grab her iPod because she wanted to share the latest Linkin Park album she'd downloaded but after that, things were a blank and as much as she tried, she couldn't fill the void.

Her heart rate picked up when the man stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. She struggled at her bonds, but all that did was hurt her wrists. The man chuckled, and a tingle slid down her spine. She'd never heard such an evil chuckle outside a scary movie, and she'd never expected to hear such a laugh ever come from him.

She tracked his progress as he moved across the room, coming closer to the bed. Her mouth was dry, and she found it hard to swallow. She felt a trail of wetness trickle down her temple, getting lost in her hair and realized, she was crying, but they were silent tears, too afraid to make a sound.

He sat at the end of the bed, making a tsking noise in the back of his throat as he reached for her bare foot. Her mind still jumbled with foggy emotions, she fleetingly wondered what happened to her shoes before she was quickly pulled back to the importance of the man, sitting at her feet, when he spoke. "Why the tears, my sweet Celine?" His finger swiped at her temple, sliding through the wetness before bringing his finger to his lips and tasting it with his tongue. "So sweet."

Rachel couldn't prevent a small whimper from escaping. Why did he call her Celine? He knew what her name was. One look in his eyes, and she knew he was crazy. How had she never seen it before? How could a man she held so much respect for, a man she'd thought was there to protect her, do something like this? She licked her lips to moisten them, but her tongue was so dry, it didn't help. "W...why? Why are you doing this?"

He surprised her by answering and after he'd finished, she was sorry she'd ever asked.





Chapter Two

Abby sat back in the booth, sipping her coffee, scanning the crowded diner, while trying to make herself appear small. The noise level was almost deafening, people chatting, dishes clanking, shouted good-mornings to people arriving, see-ya-laters to those departing. Abby took another sip of her coffee. The warm liquid coated her tongue, rich but not bitter. She could never get hers to taste this good at home and wondered whether she could buy a bag.

Home. She had a new one now, in a new town. She hated the event that precipitated the acquiring of her new home but had to admit, it felt good to be on her own for the first time. The high cost of living in Los Angeles and able to land only a substitute teaching job after college, left her unable to afford to move out on her own even with a roommate. Add the fact she was painfully shy, and she saw no good reason to leave the security of her parents home. As it was, coming to Jasper Falls, New Mexico was an incredibly bold move for her. But a full-time teaching position at the local school had been too much an opportunity to pass up.

Abby had been shocked to discover her grandmother had left her the property. She hadn't known her father's parents, and her father had rarely spoken of them. She did know he'd left his small town at eighteen against his parents' approval and never looked back. She loved her father but knew his faults. He was a hard man, strict father, and Abby was sure it had been his stubborn pride that caused the rift.

And now his stubborn pride had extended to her, his only child. He was against her moving to Jasper Falls, said she would hate the small town life and if she went through with the move, she could expect no help from him. But Abby was an adult and could make grown-up decisions. With a house given to her free and clear and a full-time job, she figured she could stand on her own two feet just fine. And quite honestly, the peace and quiet of a small town sounded heavenly compared to the noisy, overcrowded, polluted city. Her father hadn't understood her decision. Didn't understand her, really, and he'd never made much of an effort to change that fact or get to know who she really was. But that was okay, they just saw the world through different eyes.

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