Ben’s arms were wrapped around me all night. His grip was so tight that it felt like he was crushing my ribs. His legs were intertwined with mine. His steady rhythmic breath tickled against the back of my neck. The red numbers of the alarm clock resting on the nightstand were blurry. I squinted to have the numbers come into enough focus so that I could see that it was around one in the morning.
I would try to slide my legs out from Ben’s. His hold would tighten on me, and he would pull me closer.
I needed to get out of this hotel room. If I could make it out, I would run down to the lobby and beg whoever is working to call the cops. They would see my eyes and know something is wrong. If Ben did wake up, he would probably chase me without a shirt and they would see the scaly patches across his chest. Ben wouldn’t be able to lie to them about me wearing contacts.
I grabbed Ben’s wrists and slowly pulled his hands off of me. He stirred as his hands left my body. I sat and turned to look at Ben. He pulled his one hand out of my hold. He rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand. He saw me sitting and bolted up.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I lied.
Ben nodded his head. He reached over to the nightstand and turned on the lamp. The room filled with a dull glow. I stood and my knees wobbled beneath me. Ben’s eyes were locked on my body. I took one step behind me, toward the door, and Ben jumped off of the bed.
“Diana, what are you doing?” he asked. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me closer to his chest. “Why are you trying to leave?”
My chest tightened as I sucked in a deep breath. Ben pushed me down on the bed. His jaw was clenched and his nostrils were flaring. I winced as his grip on my wrists tightened. He had one knee on the bed and was towering over me.
“Why are you trying to leave me?” he asked. “I promised you that we would get out of this together and you agreed to that.”
“You never said that I wouldn’t be able to see my family again,” I told him.
“You do not need to see them,” he said. “We have each other.”
“I don’t care.”
Ben eased up on my wrists as he reached over to the nightstand. He opened up the drawer, and I could not see what he was pulling out. I saw a flash of silver and cold metal pressed against my temple. Ben’s chest was heaving as he panted for breath.
“Diana, you said we would get out of this together,” he said. “Why would you want to leave?”
“I love you,” I blurted out.
He let out a deep breath, and the tension released from his shoulders. I leaned forward and pressed my lips against his. Ben kissed me back, and the barrel of his gun left my temple. I let out a deep breath through my nose, and this caused Ben to let his body sink into mine. I reached and cupped his face with my hands.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was just scared.
“That’s okay,” he said before pressing his lips against my forehead. “Let’s get back to bed.”
I nodded and Ben got off of me. He surveyed the room before going around to the other side of the bed. He pulled the nightstand and lamp away and pushed it up against the closet. He went around to my side of the bed. He placed his hands on the side and pushed the bed against the wall.
“Slide over,” he said.
I looked over at the wall and realized that he was trying to trap me against the wall and his body. I slid over. There was no point in arguing. He would just pull the gun out again and threaten to kill both of us.
Ben climbed into the bed. He turned off the lamp before he held me in his crushing grip. I was going to have to play along with his sick fantasy so that I wouldn’t die.
Ben found a small diner in the morning after checking us out of the hotel. I ran my fingers along with the ripped vinyl on the seat of the booth. Ben had the map on the table between us and was sipping on a coffee.
Only a few tables had customers. By the way, they were talking to each other and the aging waitress, I could tell that they were regulars. I got a strange look anytime someone turned to look in our direction.
“We should be at the cabin in a few days,” he said. “I’m going to take a roundabout way to get there. It should throw anyone who could be looking for us off our track.”
I nodded. My fingers fiddled and spun my empty mug on the table. The waitress came over to us with two large plates piled with food. Ben snatched the map off of the table.
“Here you go,” she said.
“Thank you,” Ben said.
“It should be good for curing that hangover.” She nudged my shoulder and gave me a wink. “I miss being young.”
Ben chuckled as she walked away.
“I’ve got to remember that one,” he said as he took a bite of his toast.
“We’re going to look weird wherever we go,” I said. “The girl who won’t take off her sunglasses and the boy who won’t take off his jacket.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Ben said. “That’s why we have each other.”
He opened his jacket and pulled a bottle out from a pocket on the inside. He handed me a few pills before taking a couple himself.
Ben didn’t say anything to me while we finished our breakfast. He had a pencil and was sketching different routes to Muskoka. I was zoned out as I was eating and staring out to the gravel parking lot. I was brought back into reality when I heard my name.
I looked over at Ben to see that he was still staring at the map. I heard the voice continue to talk and saw that it was coming from the old television that was sitting on the corner of the counter.
It was a news anchor talking. A red banner was underneath him, but it was too blurry for me to make out. It switched to a photo from my high school graduation. The curls in my hair that Marcy did that morning were pinned back, and I was in the long black gown with a bouquet of roses in my arms. There was a pang in my chest when I saw my old bright blue eyes staring back at me.
Ben noticed me looking at the television. He shoved the map into his pocket and placed a few bills on the table. He got up and grabbed my hand.
“Come on, Olivia. Let’s go,” he said.
He pulled me out of the restaurant. The waitress opened her mouth to say something but stopped when she saw the money on the table. No one gave the television a second glance.