A Rose from a Stranger
by Eric J. Krause
Sandy sighed and looked around the club. Heidi was on the dance floor somewhere, likely rubbing up against two or thee guys she'd never seen before. Yeah, that sounded like fun. How did she always let Heidi rope her into this? God, she needed a boyfriend, and she certainly wasn't going to find one in a place like this.
The bartender walked up to Sandy and handed her a rose. She looked up and frowned. Even with this long dating drought, she wasn't about to start with women. That wasn't her.
The bartender chuckled, as if she'd read Sandy's mind. "Not from me, honey. The guy over there."
She followed the bartender's motion and saw a guy she hadn't noticed before. He was cute. Maybe there was someone here worth her attention. She shook her head. No, she wasn't this superficial. Not like Heidi.
The bartender set a card down in front of her. "Also from the gentleman," she said before walking away to service other customers.
Sandy looked at the guy. He smiled and mimed opening the card. She batted her eyelashes and sniffed the rose. What the hell was wrong with her? She never acted like this. But she had to admit that the rose and card were a good pick-up line. And the fact that he was a hunk didn't hurt, either.
The card was made of simple white stock folded in two. She opened it and found six words hastily written in blue ink. "Trust no one. You're being followed."
She looked up at him, and he put a finger to his lips and walked over to her. She glanced to the dance floor for Heidi, but still no sign of her. Was she living it up in the sea of people, or had they already gotten to her?
"Stay calm," the man said as he saddled up next to her. "Can you smile and act flirty?"
"What?" She had to struggle to utter the single syllable.
"It's your best bet. Act like you're having fun with me, and I'll get you out of here. I promise."
Sandy looked down at the rose, and then back up at him. She forced a smile and a laugh, and even managed to touch his arm in a playful manner. Her stomach clenched, and she wanted to run onto the dance floor to find Heidi, but this man, whose name she didn't even know, held her there.
He smiled back at her. "You're doing great. In a few seconds, we'll head for the back rooms. You'll be safe there. When I point, look, giggle, and nod. Got it?"
She laughed, but under her breath said, "My friend is dancing. Is she in trouble, too?"
He stroked her face, and leaned in close like he was giving her a kiss. "She should be fine. You're the only target in here tonight. Don't worry; I'll make sure she knows you're okay. Now follow my finger and don't forget to keep up the act."
Sandy looked where he pointed. There was a nondescript door at the back of the club. Almost unconsciously she nodded and giggled. She spared another quick glance to the dance floor, and she could swear she saw Heidi's hot pink hair bouncing up and down. Good. At least she was safe.
"Don't look around on our way back there. It'll look suspicious. Got it?"
She nodded and made sure her smile stayed plastered in place. With the rose and card clutched in her hands, she followed the man. Was he an undercover cop, or maybe a private eye? But who hired him? She tried to push it all out of her mind and concentrate on getting through this. She'd question him when they were alone.
He led her through the door and slammed it shut. She found herself in a large space with no furniture. There was a lone door on the other side of the room, but before she started towards it, he grabbed her upper arm in an iron grip.
"Remember when I said not to trust anyone?"
She gave a weak nod.
"That included me."
Just before the lights clicked off, dropping the room into total darkness, two huge, green, slimy monsters pushed through that other door.
Sandy couldn't even muster up a scream.