Chapter 1

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Chapter 1


"Sorry, hun, I didn't want to wake you."

A woman wearing scrubs shut off the incessantly beeping machine. A nurse. I was in a hospital. I reached for my throat. It felt like sandpaper.

"I was going to get you some water. I'll be back in a jiffy," she smiled.

My fingers cautiously touched the bandages that wrapped my throbbing head. I heard the nurse speaking to someone.

"She's going to need to take it easy for a while," she said. "A knock to the head like that can cause a concussion. We will be sending her home soon with all the instructions she needs to heal. It must have been a bad accident you were all involved in. She's lucky she got away with just a bump to the head. The other girl was impaled and is in pretty serious condition."

Impaled? What other girl? Then it all suddenly came back to me.

I was startled awake, wishing this was only a nightmare. A man kicked over something and cursed, making me stiffen. My sister wiggled against me, our bodies still tied together. I was mostly numb from the cold and the ropes. He turned on the light of his phone, shining it around the area until he found us.

"Gotcha, bitch."

His pungent odor grew more offensive in the damp basement as he became closer. His hideous face became visible under the phone's light as he tried to pull me and my sister apart.

"That fucking Colombian ain't making me wait any longer for what's owed me."

My struggling was ineffective. He quickly tied me to the pipe and dragged my sister across the damp floor.

"I hope you like to watch," he held the large knife to her throat.

I squeezed my eyes shut as he cut her clothes off. Would he kill her? Would I be next? I squealed through the tape as she struggled against him.

"You make one more fucking sound and you will be permanently silent," he threatened, pointing his blade at me.

My heart was thumping in my throat. I forced myself to be silent as I kept my eyes on my sister, who was now naked and being assaulted.

But she fought back and kicked him. He grunted, then punched her hard in the gut. I shrieked as she groaned in pain and collapsed to the floor.

"I said shut the fuck up!"

He grabbed the knife and began marching toward me. But he abruptly stopped—a loud set of pops, followed by shouting, then pounding footsteps thundered across the upstairs floor.

He moved past me and up a few stairs, cursing as more shots fired. Then he took off, running to the corner.

Then another man came. This time, I knew who it was. I knew the sound of his footsteps. I recognized his limp and his shiny shoes—it was the man who brought me here. He promised that he wouldn't let anyone hurt me, that they wanted someone else. At the time, I didn't know they wanted my sister.

"What happened here?" he said with his thick Hispanic accent when he found me tied to the pipe. He cut me loose, scooped me up, and threw me over his shoulder, leaving my sister there. I wiggled, I tried to fight, but my bound hands and feet left me no way to get loose. He stopped at the top of the stairs, making sure it was all clear before he poked his head out, then raced down the hall to the outside door.

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