Miriam Cait seeks love, or rather, her friend seeks it for her. Her friend’s latest date suggestion is refused on account of his dark eyes. There’s something not quite right with them, and Miriam soon finds out why when he comes knocking on her door, and knocking her out.
Miriam wakes up from the confrontation with more than just a headache. Shackles cover her ankles and wrists, and she’s on her way to being auctioned off to a bunch of self-proclaimed dragon lords. It all seems too fantastic to be real, but as the evidence starts mounting against sanity Miriam realizes she may be in deeper trouble than she thought.
“Weekend at last!”
That was my cry as I stretched my arms above my head. Around me were throngs of my coworkers. We left the fifty-floor office building in a giant herd of tired and eager humanity.
“Amen!” one of them called out.
“Anybody seeing the game?” another one asked.
“I’m just seeing my eyelids,” a hefty guy quipped.
That got a laugh from we office-dwellers, a laugh that extinguished much of the exhaustion from a lot of faces. I stepped out onto the wide, busy sidewalk and glanced around me. The front doors spilled out onto a major intersection, and all around me bustled a humanity eager to get home to family and dinner. I only had the dinner part, but pizza awaited me.
Still, being among such a large crowd of my fellow humans was a bitter reminder of how normal my boring life was.
“Hey, Mir!” I glanced to my left. My friend from the office, Heather, waved to me.
Beside her was a cute guy I'd seen in our office, a recent transfer from some other large company. My heart sank. “Over here, Mir!” I slapped a smile on my face and walked over to them. Heather turned to the guy and jerked her head toward me. “This is the sexy woman I’ve been telling you about, Blake.”
Blake looked me over. There was something dark about his eyes that I didn’t like. He held out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
I shook the hand. His fingers were clammy like his skin didn’t quite fit. “Likewise, and don’t let Heather tell you about my bed life. It’s practically non-existent.”
Heather rolled her eyes. “Come on, do you both have to be so old-fashioned with the handshake? I’m trying to hook you up here.”
Blake laughed. “I don’t think this is going to work, Heth. She’s on to me.”
Heather blinked at him. “On to you?”
He shook his head. “It’s nothing. Anyway, nice to have met you.” He waved and walked off.
I turned to my friend. “This is the third time this month, and it’s only the seventh day.”
She sighed and shrugged. “I’m just trying to get you hooked. You’re too nice not to deserve a good man and reproduce.”
I glanced at Blake’s retreating back and pursed my lips. “Then stop trying to help me. The guys you keep showing me are getting creepier.”
Heather followed my gaze. “I don’t think he was that bad. A little strange, yeah, but who isn’t?” She turned back to see me ten feet away and gaining ground. “Hey! Wait up!” She hurried after me and came up to my side. “Wanna get a bite to eat before you hole yourself in your apartment for the weekend?”
I grinned. “Only if you’re buying.”
Heather rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine, but I expect to get a dance out of this.”
I cringed as we walked side-by-side down the sidewalk. “You know I hate that.”
“The only way you’ll dance is with someone you know, and I’ll probably be the only one you know,” she pointed out.
“Then how about we skip the dancing?”
“Nope. I need the exercise.” Heather stepped onto the street and raised her hand. “Taxi!” She glanced back at me. “Besides, it’s good practice for when you get married. The bride’s gotta dance at her wedding, you know.”
I sighed as a taxi drove up. “You’re impossible.”
We slipped into the taxi. Heather leaned forward. “To the Bar Room, and step on it. We need to get drunk.”
The driver smiled and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.” He pulled us off the curb and into traffic.
Heather fell back against the seat and looked to me. “Speaking of losing weight, I was thinking of going hiking one of these weekends with a few other girls. Wanna come with?”
I shook my head. “I’m not much for nature walks.”
She frowned. “It’s the society, isn’t it?”
I winced. “It’s not that. It’s just-well, I just don’t feel like I fit in. Like I’m an outsider or something, you know what I mean?”
Heather shook her head. “No, and I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer the next time I ask you to go with me on an adventure. You need to live a little, Miriam, before your whole life is gone.”
I glanced out the window and sighed. The world sped by us as a shadow play of colorful lights and figures. “I know. I. . .I just feel like I’m supposed to wait for something. Like my time will come.”
The taxi driver’s loud voice interrupted us. “Hey, ladies. I think someone’s following you.”
“Really?” Heather wondered as we both turned and looked through the rear window.
The taxi driver nodded. “Yeah, that red one.
Heather glanced at our driver. “You sure it’s not for you?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I ain’t picked up no one but you in the last half hour.”
Heather squealed and clapped her hands. “You think you can lose ‘em?”
The driver grinned. “No problem, but for the risk it’ll be extra.”
“I’ll take that risk!” my friend accepted.
I whipped my head to her. “Wait a-ah!” The driver turned a sharp corner onto a side street. I was sent into the waiting arms of my laughing friend.
“Isn’t this great?” she yelled.
“Yeah, wonderful,” I replied as I extracted myself from her arms. “It’s going to be great sitting in jail, too.”
“This is living!” Heather gleefully exclaimed.
The driver took another sharp corner into an alley and sped up. I clutched the oh-shit handle above my door. “This isn’t living! This is the preliminaries before death!”
“Just enjoy the ride already!” she insisted.
We took another ninety-degree corner that sent my stomach reeling. “I want out!”
“Just another block, misses!” the driver shouted as he weaved through traffic and onto another bumpy alley.
“Let me out now!” I yelled.
Heather pointed at the alley intersection ahead of us. “Stop there and we’ll get out. Then book it like we’re still aboard.”
“What about my fare?” he reminded us.
She grabbed some cash from her pocket and tossed the bills into the seat beside him. “That should cover it.”
His eyes flickered to the catch and he grinned. “Yes, ma’am!”
He slammed on the brake. I slid forward an inch before my seat belt dug into my skin. The car slid to a stop in the center of the intersection.
Heather tore off her seat belt, unbuckled mine, threw open the door and pulled me out. “Thanks for the fun!”
The driver saluted us and sped off a second after Heather slammed the door shut. She tugged me into the side alley and behind a large dumpster. We crouched down as a car sped down the perpendicular alley. The black car zoomed past us and continued to follow our former taxi.
Heather jumped to her feet and wiped her arm across her brow. “Wow, that was close.”
I stood on my shakier legs and grasped the edge of the dumpster. My stomach was in tumbling knots. I staggered past her and down the alley that we’d come.
Heather reached out for me. “Hey, wait! Where are you going?”
I didn’t look back. “Home.”
“But what about finding a guy at the bar?” she reminded me.
“I need to find my stomach back here first,” I quipped. “Then maybe I’ll call you tomorrow about bar-hopping.”
Heather stamped her foot on the ground and slopped puddle water all over herself. “Fine! If you don’t want my help then go and find your own guy!”
I waved to her without looking back. It wasn’t such a bad suggestion if Fate hadn’t had other plans.