Publish Novellas 15 January 2023
EPISODE 5 – MOMENTUM
Heather adjusts the intensity of her love pursuit as she introduces a new personality for attraction.
Heather emerges and asks if they can visit the campus gallery to see the show named after her this week.
“Certainly,” he says, while rolling up the three drawings he completed.
There are not many attendees during school hours but Heather is reveling in the short-lived fame of being the object of the gallery. “Look at all the red dots! The artwork sold out. I told you I’m a good investment!”
“I am happy for you. Now let me guess, would you like some pho?”
“That sounds fantastic. But first, unroll your drawings on this desk… Oh my. These are fantastic! They must be framed as a set. If you don’t hang them in your house, I must have them.”
“They are yours.”
She lets out a squeal, “Oh, goody. Did you sign them? Yes! I should give you something in exchange. Do you want the showpiece?”
“I hardly feel it’s a fair exchange.”
“That one has a nice frame. Frame your drawings and it’s an even swap… or tell me you want to hang the ones you drew in your home and invite me to see them after you frame them.”
“You should have the showpiece. It is a spectacular memento of this gallery exhibit that centers around you. I will help you hang it this weekend when the exhibit ends.”
“Perfect, now let’s have pho!”
At the restaurant, Ryan is a little more relaxed. He orders the ramen and some ice teas.
“It’s been some week, hasn’t it?” Heather says with a giggle.
“That it has,” Ryan agrees while shaking his smiling head.
“So, where do we stand now? I apologize if I was moving too fast, but I like you very much and… I’ll shut up before I ruin it again.”
“No, it’s a good question. I was feeling a little claustrophobia when you seemed to invade my privacy. But perhaps we just need time to adjust our rhythm.”
“Yes, that’s it, I’m sure. So are we back to dating? I mean this feels like a date. You got me naked and took me out to eat. Usually it’s the other way around.”
“Yes, this qualifies as a date and I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to draw you. That was fantastic. You’re a remarkable model—holding those great poses for so long.”
“Thanks. I owe it to the gym workouts. Meeting you there brings everything full circle.”
The waiter places their food on the table. After Ryan takes a slurp, Heather dabs the corner of his mouth with a napkin. He then checks to see if his place setting is aligned with hers.
Toning down expectations, Ryan says, “I’d like to know you better… in a platonic way… as friends, for now.”
“All couples are friends. Do you mean you want to also see other women?”
“I think you should also have the opportunity to explore other options.”
“I don’t have other options. Can you see how one-sided that could be?”
“I’m not saying that I have other options either, but until we know each other better, I hesitate to call us a couple.”
“Fair enough. Let’s schedule a few more dates. I’ll answer any questions you have about me. If you develop the urge to see someone else, just give me a heads up so I won’t look like a foolish side piece.”
“Okay, let’s go out Friday night.”
“To a movie… and there’s a concert next weekend I want to see.”
“Done and done.”
“No more lies about work if you don’t want to meet at the gym?”
“I’m sorry about that. No more lies. Let me take you home…. I mean to your home.”
Later, Ryan receives a phone call from his ex, Brenda. Her relationship after his recently ended. Now she’s reminiscing about their good times together.
“I hurt you so badly, I know. When you proposed, I had commitment issues. It seemed easier to begin a new relationship with no attachments than to face my struggles with marriage and family.
“Our time apart has allowed me to mellow and mature. I don’t imagine you are still extending an engagement ring. But now that I understand your intent, will you be kind enough to consider me? Oh, perhaps I should ask if you’re in another relationship.
“No, I’m not in a relationship. I would like to see you again. We can take it slowly.”
“Hopefully, I have not been demoted all the way back to square one.”
“By all means, no. You get priority seating among my bevy of beauties.”
“It sounds like you’re telling me to take a number,” Brenda objects.
“My schedule is rather tight at the moment. How about stopping by my place on Wednesday evening for some drinks? We can catch up then.”
“It’s a date. I’ll text you if something comes up.”
“Same. Sounds perfect,” Ryan acknowledges.
Wednesday evening, Heather is still stalking Ryan’s home. On her hidden camera she notices him getting ready for a visitor.
“No, no, no. This can’t be happening,” she says to herself. Preparing for a possible intruder, Heather straightens up her car interior, puts on some deodorant, dabs perfume, and stays alert.
Brenda steps out of her car with a tight red dress and stilettos. Heather immediately goes for the interception.
“Are you here to see Ryan?” Heather asks.
“Yes, and you are…?”
“I’m Heather. We’ve been planning this surprise party for weeks. You’re right on time. But I need you to wait just a few minutes in the car with me until a couple more people arrive.”
Sensing she is interrupting elaborate planning, Brenda tries to beg off. “I wasn’t aware of a surprise party. Perhaps I should take a raincheck and catch up with him later.”
“Don’t be absurd. You’re dressed to kill. You will be the showpiece of the party. Step this way.”
When Brenda opens the passenger car door, Heather smashes her head against its roof. She swings her to the grass face down and covers her mouth with duct tape before binding her wrists and ankles with zip ties. Heather then slips a black hood over Brenda’s head and tosses her in the trunk.
Heather drives back to her house, pulls Brenda up over her shoulder and carries her down into a basement. There, she chains Brenda to a wall.