Next Stop

The crowded elevator descended at a snail’s pace, stopping at every floor on its way down. Silvia watched as people tried to shove their way inside the packed little box. Normally, the rooftop dining on the 55th floor of the building more than compensated for the harrowing trip up there and back, but not on a Friday night…and not with her unpleasant companion. She glanced over at Bob, expecting his usual complaints to begin at any moment. He didn’t disappoint her.

“It would have been faster to take the stairs,” he grumbled. “Why’d you have to pick this restaurant?”

“Believe me, it won’t happen again.” She’d had enough of his embarrassing behavior.

He ignored her and added to his rant, oblivious to the dirty looks shooting in his direction from the captive audience around them. Silvia wished the eye rolls had poisoned tips on them.

“I don’t know why we keep coming here. The service is lousy and the food is mediocre at best.”

“For the ambiance?” Her sarcasm went right over his head. Bob kept right on complaining, inspecting his perfectly buffed nails while he talked. Silvia’s lip curled in disgust. She leaned against the back wall and closed her eyes, tuning him out.

What had she ever seen in him? Whatever it might have been, it was gone to dust at this point. She grappled with the irresistible urge to kill him, breathing slowly until the thought passed.

The doctors wouldn’t be happy to hear of that new development. ‘Clinically depressed’ they’d called her. ‘Avoid stressful situations.’ Brad seemed to go out of his way to make sure that didn’t happen, treating her like an albatross slung around his neck. Maybe she should double her medication. Though even at her current dosage, her mind wandered at times.

A man stepped into the elevator at the next floor, demanding her attention. Cool, decadent, whipped cream over chocolate fudge. Exotic, sensual. She couldn’t look away from him. His eyes sought her out, commanded her. His smile whispered to the shadows locked deep within her soul. The man next to her droned on.

“Walk away from this. That is your desire, is it not?”

The velvet voice flowed from the stranger, caressed her with passion. Offered up her heart’s desire, all for the asking. Silvia glanced around nervously. No one took notice of his words.

“I said, did you notice how the waiter sloshed the soup when he set it down? Are you even listening to me?” Bob glared at her in anger.

Silvia slid her eyes back to the man without answering, feeling the rush of emotion as she reconnected.

“Be done with him. Leave this life behind.”

He lifted her hand, brushing his lips against her skin with a feather touch. The sensation took her breath away. He knew her; he wanted her. Silvia felt an overwhelming need to go with him now. He would take care of her.

“What are you daydreaming about now? This is our stop.” Bob shoved his way through the door and stalked across the parking level, not bothering to see if she would follow.

Silvia turned back to the stranger, but he was gone. The crushing disappointment loomed in the shadows, ready to chew her to pieces. She stared at Bob’s retreating back, imagined blood seeping from multiple wounds, complaints lying stillborn upon his tongue…

“Are you getting out, lady?”

The others looked at her impatiently. She stepped out, stared at the business card now clutched in her hand…the one that hadn’t been there a moment ago. The blank stock shimmered as bold cursive began to flow across it.

Damien—Hell, Inc.

Underneath, more words appeared.

Silvia, call me when you’re ready.

She smiled and slipped the card inside her purse.


Editor’s Corner

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