Why am I naked? Traci Williams woke up face down with her hands over her head. Disoriented, she tried to sit up, but something or someone held her down. Pulling and tugging hurt her arms. Her throat felt as if she had swallowed spicy cotton balls. Peeping through her lashes, she stared into a void of nothingness. She couldn’t tell if her eyes were opened or closed. She panicked, thrashing her body against the hard, unyielding surface. Pine-Sol mixed with another scent wafted around her. Faint music played in the distance. Please, God, help me. I don’t want to die.
“Are you awake?” asked a disembodied voice. Everything came flooding back. She remembered sitting across from Ian Walker at his dining table eating salmon, garden seasonal vegetables with mash potatoes. Did he drug my meal? Traci couldn’t remember drinking the water on the table. Where am I and what happened to my clothes? Snidely he asked, “Are you awake, Princess? This won’t be any fun, if you sleep through it.” Traci tried to respond, but could not. Her mouth was too dry and her throat hurt every time she swallowed. She wiggled her body trying to escape whomever or whatever held her immobile. “Ahh… you are awake.” An overhead light illuminated the room and Traci saw that she was strapped to Ian’s dining table. The unexpected stinging slap on her butt startled a raspy scream from her aching throat. Laughing he slapped her again, harder. How had this night turned from something innocuous to something this ominous?
Earlier that evening, Traci had been watching Ian take delicate bites off his fork. With his blond hair, green eyes, slim built and sexy British accent, everyone thought Traci was lucky to have caught his attention. They had been dating for three months, and this was the first time he had invited her to his home. Traci still didn’t know how she felt about dating a white man, but no one frowned upon inter-racial couples anymore, especially in New York. Why did he invite me? OMG! What if he proposes? They had discussed marriage in the past, and what she considered a romantic proposal. She looked again at the centerpiece of dried black roses. Traci shuddered. The room resembled something from a macabre showroom.
The pale yellow walls were bare of ornaments, pictures, and paintings. A heavy blood red curtain covered a wall or large picture window, which lent to an oppressive atmosphere with the low lighting. Traci’s shoes brushed repeatedly over the plastic runner under the table. She had been doing that since she sat down. She shifted her weight in the chair, trying to find a comfortable position. Her chastity belt was too tight; the metal bottoms dug into the tops of her thighs, while the lock between her legs made sitting on it very uncomfortable.
“What do you think?” He waved his hands to encompass the entire room. Traci smiled, as she tried to come up with a positive description. The smell of raw grilled salmon permeated the room. I would’ve soaked it first in lime and salt. Some people just didn’t know that trick we islanders learned from our Caribbean ancestors. It tasted great, but the smell left her feeling nauseous every time she brought a forkful to her lips.
“I love the curtains.”
“Curtains?” Ian laughed mockingly. “They’re called drapes, honey. Don’t you see the lining? Curtains don’t have linings?”
“I thought they were the same.”
“Don’t worry I’ll teach you everything you need to know. We’ll have a great life together. After dinner, I’ll show you the rest of our home.”
He said our home. I should be happy, shouldn’t I? Why am I not happy? Traci stared at the smile that never touched his verdant eyes. He was a gorgeous man, but recently something seemed off about him. They had been dating for three months, and he had only kissed her twice. Traci was beginning to wonder if something was wrong with him, or if he did not find her sexually attractive. At nineteen, she had all the urges of a normal young adult, but Ian’s restraint was beginning to affect her self-confidence. She wanted to take off his perfectly knotted tie and blazer. The more Traci tried to view them in a happily ever after scenario, the more she realized that she did not want to be with him. He’s the only one who loves you! You’re starting to behave like your family; don’t throw away love.
They seemed like such and odd couple. He was white, she black. He was always impeccably dressed, even when they went out on casual dates to the movies, or just a walk around the neighborhood; while she felt more comfortable in casual clothes. She wanted sex, but he wanted to control when they had sex. Who wears a chastity belt in this day and age? I want sex, dammit! The last time she tried to run her fingers through his hair, he had severely twisted her wrist. Traci massaged her right wrist, as she remembered the sharp unexpected pain. She watched his lips tilt into a charming smile, which displayed his flawless white teeth. His lips moved as he asked her a question about their meal. She used to imagine those lips all over her body, but lately she was disgusted by them. His polished voice grated on her limited nerves as well.
Traci took up her fork, and used the edge to break apart the salmon. The raw smell started her gag reflex. Smiling at him, she let the taste of the fish roll over her palate. She chewed as he watched her intently. Swallowing, Traci replied, “tasty.”
“Tasty? That’s all you’ve got? What about the herbs and spices?”
“Oh yes, it’s very good. I love it.”
In a high female voice, Ian parroted her, “Oh yes, it’s very good. I love it.” Back to his normal voice, “don’t patronize me. If you don’t like it, just say so. No one’s holding a gun to your facking head.” Traci was sure he was trying to say “fuck,” but it exploded as “fack.” He couldn’t even curse like a normal person. He snatched up a roll and tossed it at her. She held up her hands to deflect the missile, and gasped in shock at the violent act. The bread bounced off her hands before tumbling to the floor. Traci’s heart rate picked up speed; it knocked against her breastbone, and fear blossomed in her chest. What just happened? Ian picked up his fork, and continued his meal, as if nothing untoward had happened. Traci always listened to her inner mind, and it was telling her to get the hell out of there. Silverware clinked and scraped against dishes, as Ian continued to eat, while Traci moved her remaining meal around her plate. What excuse could she give for leaving?
“Who the fack do you think you’re messing with?” demanded Ian. Traci was taken aback by his tone. Her head slowly lifted, and looked into Ian’s angry visage. What had she done to displease him? A vein throbbed at his temple, his jaw flexed as if he was biting down hard on his molars. She had been gearing up to find an excuse to leave, but at his outburst, Traci was afraid to say anything. She felt the food churn in her stomach, and bile rose up in her mouth. She stared warily across the long table at him. As immaculately dressed as his home, Ian projected an air of detachment that Traci had not noticed until today. Before he had seemed refined and knowledgeable, but today, he seemed to give off a vibe that terrified her.
Why was he upset? What random thought had popped into his head? Lately, it seemed whatever she did was cause for reprimands. “What the fack’s wrong with you?” Traci was startled out of her thoughts by a fist connecting on the table. The silverware and dishes bounced and rattled before settling down. She cringed, afraid of his escalating violence. He seemed to want to fight with her over the simplest of offenses, such as her hair not being properly coiffed, showing too much skin, or her shoes needed polishing. She looked down at her buttoned knee length jeans dress; all the buttons were closed. She wished she could check her white sandals; to see if they were still clean. “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” Traci’s head snapped up. Shaking hands reached up to brush back her hair. Everything seemed to be in order. Traci wished that she could take out her compact and check her appearance.
What should I do? Maybe I should take Raun Michael’s advice, and tell Ian it’s over. I wish Raun was here. Traci’s fingers covered her lips as she reminisced about that not so innocent kiss Raun gave her yesterday. He had tried to push his tongue into her mouth. She had felt his erection against her belly. Granted he had been a little drunk, but that still counted as a positive interaction. The unexpected slap stunned and snapped Traci out of her recollections. She looked up at Ian’s furious face. Her hand covered her cheek in surprise. “How many times do I have to demand your attention?”
Traci sat in stunned silence. When had he moved out of his seat? Traci had not heard him push back his chair, nor heard his thread upon the plastic runner, or hardwood floors. “During dinner you didn’t say one word about my news!”
What news, our living arrangements?
“I spent all day preparing this meal, and you can’t even be honest with me! You entered my home acting all haughty. Yes, I saw the expression on your face when you looked at me. I received the external grant, and you never once said congratulations.”
Who cares about your stupid grant? Traci wanted to yell, but was afraid to in his present mood.
“All you’ve done all night is sit there, and reminisce about your lover.”
“You’re acting crazy.”
“I’m acting crazy? I’m— who’s the one who can’t even compliment someone on a great meal or their home? You need to be taught a lesson in good manners?”
“What? Ian, please I’m sorry.”
“You’re not even a convincing liar! Do you even know what you’re apologizing for? Are you apologizing for daydreaming about another man facking you during our meal?”
For a person who seemed asexual, he sure likes using the work fuck. “Calm down, Ian.”
“Don’t tell me to calm down. I pampered you; gave you everything, clothes, food, jewelry, guidance; but that’s all going to change. Why don’t you wear the clothes I bought you? What the hell are you even wearing? I thought I purged you from your whoring ways, but not even a chastity belt can change a whore’s heart?” Ian shouted angrily, “Who’ve you been facking?
Please, please. I need to get outta here. Maybe I can tell him… Traci opened her mouth to try and placate Ian. “Don’t lie and say it’s me. I can see the deviousness in your eyes. Who have you been dreaming about all through dinner? I’m not blind; I’ve seen your coy smiles and the sparkle in your goddamned hazel eyes.”
“I—.” Traci felt at a disadvantage with him looming and shouting over her. She pushed her chair back to stand, but Ian lifted the front legs off the floor. Traci screamed and frantically tried to reach toward the table to bring the front legs down. The chair wobbled onto one leg almost spilling her, before settling back onto two legs. She sat still, her hands gripping the seat on either side of her body. Ian move behind her, and tilted the chair further; his hands behind her tensed shoulders. He leaned over, staring balefully into her eyes. His green eyes sparkled with disgust. Traci shivered. Retaining eye contact, he slowly moved his hands until he was facing her, and caged her between his arms. He straddled the chair. One hand grasped the front of her neck, while the other pushed against the back of the chair. Traci winced. “Don’t lie to me bitch! I’ve been treating you like my queen, and all the while you’ve been spreading your thighs for someone else.”
“No,” the word escaped garbled. He eased the pressure on her throat. She gulped air and rushed her speech, “I swear I haven’t been with anyone,” tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Liar! You think I’m a fool? Do you? I saw you kissing him!”
Traci croaked, “What?”
Ian released the chair and clasped Traci around her throat with both hands. The chair still held in place by his inner thighs. He smashed his lips against hers. Her body demanded she fight against his hold, but she was afraid of what he might do if she tried. Ian moved from his straddled position while dragging her out of the chair by her neck towards the table. She tried pushing against him, while twisting her head to escape his punishing lips. Screaming, kicking, scratching, she fought in earnest as his fingers tightened. Her energy waned. The chair crashed to the floor.