Sarah Jones sat at the bar in her little black dress and double-checked where the emergency exits were. She nodded her head as the nightclub’s rhythmic thumping dance music pounded her eardrums and vibrated her internal organs.
Anyone looking at her would have seen the black running shoes on her feet and made a harsh judgment about her fashion sense. Fortunately, the always object of ridicule fanny-pack on her black belt faced the bar and was out of view of any passersby.
It wasn’t so much that Sarah was some sort of rebel fashionista waging battle in the war against couture. Not at all. She was just on the job. And when she was on the job, fashion took a back seat to practicality. Always.
For the last seven minutes, she had done nothing but sip her watered-down Diet 7-up and watch her target on the dance floor.
He was dancing with a young woman in a skimpy red dress with questionable morals who was at least thirty years his junior. The good news was, he had a lot of energy. The bad news was, he had absolutely no rhythm. None.
Fortunately for him, the young woman in the skimpy red dress wasn’t letting him grind against her because of his rhythm. She was letting him grind against her because he’d spent fifty dollars on drinks getting her drunk. And that Rolex on his wrist didn’t exactly hurt his chances. Also, there was the matter of her questionable morals.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
Sarah turned and saw a six foot-two, blonde, blue-eyed, muscular Adonis smiling at her. He was exactly the kind of guy she wanted buying her a drink. Maybe an engagement ring. Possibly a house in the suburbs.
“Uh,” she stammered. “I’m so sorry. I can’t. I’m… I’m sort of here on business. I really wish I could. Really.”
“No problem.” He smiled off her rejection and walked away with as much pride as a guy could maintain after getting shot down.
“Really.” She repeated herself even though he had already turned and left with no chance of hearing her over the thumping dance music.
She stared at how well his pants hugged his butt as he walked away. Yeah, he worked out.
Sarah couldn’t believe her life. It was a Friday night. A night made for romance. Or fun with friends. Or, at the very least, sitting at home and watching television. Certainly not a night to be at work, about to get locked in the trunk of a criminal’s car.
She wondered if all of the sacrifices she’d made for her job had been worth it. She wondered if she hadn’t’ve concentrated so much on her career, would she have a better love life? She wondered if having a bad love life was better than what she had... no love life at all. She would have kept on wondering about all those things except--
“Hey, can I buy you a drink?”
Out of reflex, an apologetic smile came across her face. She turned to face the man speaking to her. The smile disappeared as soon as she saw him.
He was drunk, leaning on the bar for support, shirt half untucked, beer spilled out of the glass he was holding at an angle, and had a lecherous smile on his face.
No, she thought to herself, I’m not going to worry about let-ting this one get away. The apologetic smile came back. “I’m sorry, I was just leaving.” She stood up in front of her bar stool.
“Awe, come on,” he said slurring his words. “I’m not that ugly.”
“No, really. I was just leaving.” She turned to walk away from him.
He reached out and grabbed her left arm just above the elbow hard enough there would be a bruise later.
She spun toward him. “Let go.”
“Let me buy you a drink and we’ll talk.” His grip hadn’t eased up any.
She knew she couldn’t afford to make a scene. In the most reasonable voice she could muster up under the circumstances she said, “Let go of me or I’ll hurt you.”
He tightened his grip. “Listen, all I wa--”
She took a quick step toward him and shot her hand up under his chin. She caught him in the throat with her hand be-tween the thumb and index finger.
His knees buckled. He dropped his beer glass. He gagged as he let go of her arm and reached up to touch his own throat to massage it.
Sarah grabbed his torso before he could fall and directed his slide down the front side of the bar between the stools. He couldn’t scream and, for at least a few seconds, breathe. He just looked at her, shocked.
“You’ll be fine in a few minutes,” she told him. “If you fol-low me or make a scene, I’ll really hurt you.” And with that, she turned around and walked away.
He sat on the floor between the stools, confused, hurt, scared, and ultimately grateful to be able to squeeze some air through the windpipe she’d just slammed shut.
He took one last look at her and saw her pick her way through the crowd on her way toward the nightclub’s exit.
He couldn’t talk, much less yell for help, so he just concentrated on trying to suck some air into his lungs.