He gave me that smile I'd found so genuine. As he waited for me to respond, his smile began to droop and his grip tightened.
"Yes, yes, it was nice to see someone."
The smile was back. He rubbed me on the shoulder where his hand had been, then cupped my cheek.
"Just try to relax and enjoy the sun, you look so stressed out lately." When he faced the road again, he gripped the steering wheel with one hand and rested the other on my thigh. "You're going to like it there."
"Where? Where are you taking me?"
He began to hum.
After a while he turned down a little side road and parked. I had no idea where we were. He shut off the van, turned to me, and smiled like we were on a date.
"Not much longer now."
He got out, walked around the front of the van, then opened my door. I hesitated for a second. He cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows. I got out.
He put an arm around my shoulder, the gun in his other hand, and we walked to the back of the van. He inhaled deeply. "Mmmm, smell that air. Incredible."
Everything was so quiet, that hot summer afternoon kind of quiet when you can hear a dragonfly buzzing ten feet from you. We passed a huge huckleberry bush close to the van, its berries almost ripe. I started bawling and shaking so hard I could barely walk. He wrapped both of his hands around the upper part of my arms, holding me up. We were still walking, but I couldn't feel my legs.
He took his hands away for a moment and opened up the van's back doors. I started running. He grabbed the back of my hair, spun me around to face him, and pulled me up by my hair until my toes grazed the ground. I tried to kick him in the legs, but he was a good foot taller and easily held me away from him. The pain was excruciating. All I could do was kick at the air and pound my fists on his arm. I screamed as loud as I could. He slapped his free hand over my mouth and said, "Now, why did you go do something silly like that?" I clung to the arm that held me in the air and tried to hoist my body up, to take away the pressure from my scalp.
"Let's try this again. I'm going to let you go, and you're going to get inside and lie down on your stomach."
He lowered his arm slowly until my feet touched the ground. One of my high heels had fallen off when I tried to kick him, so I was off balance and stumbled backwards. The van's bumper hit the back of my knees, and I landed on my ass in the van. A gray blanket was spread out on the floor. I sat there and stared out at him, shaking so hard my teeth chattered. The sun was bright behind his head, turning his face dark and outlining him in light. He pushed me hard in the shoulders, pressed me onto my back, and said, "Roll over."
"Wait—can we just talk for a minute?" He smiled at me like I was a puppy chewing on his shoelaces. "Why are you doing this?" I said. "Do you want money? If we go back and get my purse, I can give you my pin number for my bank card—there's a few thousand in my account. And my credit cards, they have really high limits." He continued to smile at me.
"If we just talk, I know we can work something out. I can—"
"I don't need your money, Annie." He reached for the gun, now tucked into his waistband. "I didn't want to have to use this, but—"
"Stop!" I threw my hands out in front of me. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything by it, I just don't know what you want. Is it…is it sex? Is that what you want?"
"What did I ask you to do?"
"You…asked me to roll over."
He raised an eyebrow.