\ 23:08 An Hypnotic Encounter | unlimitedi.net
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Meredith Bell's picture

Slowly, Meredith slid from the booth, checking the way was clear before bolting for the cover of the bar. She had to get out of here, preferably before the cops arrived if she had any hope of actually getting to work tonight. More importantly she had to find Gail and make sure she was okay.



“Oh, shit! Shit!” Meredith cursed under her breath as she fumbled inside her purse, trying to find her pager. She quickly shut off the alarm and read the message.

10-4 U? Meet ASAP.

Gail. Thank-god. It was one of their standard messages when they got separated on a night out meaning she was fine and that they needed to hook up quickly. That last was kind of unnecessary considering, but Meredith’s heartbeat slowed to a more reasonable pace just knowing that her friend was safe.

"Hello, what treats are they hiding behind the bar? Trust Jasmin to save the good stuff for later."

Meredith’s gaze shot upwards, meeting that of the very man she’d been trying to avoid. Balthazar Romano leered down at her and she could almost feel the slimy trail of his gaze as it glided slowly up her legs before coming to rest on her tits. For a moment she was thrown, thinking that maybe he’d noticed her listening in on his conversation. However, it quickly became apparent, as Meredith rose to her feet and Romano’s ogling gaze fell to the hem of her dress as she held it from riding any higher, that he had other, more sordid thoughts occupying his mind.

“Dream on, Grandpa,” she snorted dismissively as she replaced her pager in her purse, easily able to mask her unease behind genuine disgust. This man had not only just faced down a gun-toting criminal, he’d struck up a deal with him. Ordering the murder of one of his own employees with as much concern as ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese. Now he was coming on to her while people were still screaming and sobbing all around them?! He really was a stone cold bastard.

Romano laughed scornfully, "I understand if you aren't interested, honey, but I am. And I get what I am interested in. Look into my eyes and tell me I'm wrong."

Meredith did look, she gave him her iciest glare, the one that could freeze Satan’s underpants. This guy wasn’t just a murdering son-of-a-bitch, he was delusional in the extreme. He had to be like three times her age for a start!

Only… the more she looked into his dark eyes, deep and bottomless like the depths of the ocean… the more she felt her determined resolve slip away. It was like having a warm bath after a tiring day, heating her body from the inside and slowly easing out any knots of resistance one by one. The more she continued to look into Romano’s eyes, the more she felt like… maybe he was more handsome than she’d given him credit for and maybe she wouldn’t mind getting to know him better… a lot better actually…

*What!? Snap out of it girl!* The voice inside her head was practically screaming that something wasn’t right. That… fuck he had to have slipped something in her drink when she wasn’t looking! Meredith was usually so careful about that sort of thing, she never accepted a drink she hadn’t seen poured and if she ever took her eye off her glass she’d get rid of it. But… wait, hadn’t she put down her drink when she’d been at the buffet? It hadn’t been for long but… perhaps long enough for someone to slip her a roofie?

And after all, if Romano was capable of sanctioning murder, date rape was probably how he got his kicks.

“You… bastard!” she spat, though even the act of speaking took too much concentration. He’d drugged her, it was the only explanation for how she was feeling. Anger flared like a struck match. Her eyes burned with it while her fingers gripped the edge of the bar for support.

"There, there, temper, temper!” Romano’s voice was like honey dripping off the edge of a knife. You could stop one, but not without starting another. “Wouldn't you rather have a nice drink with me rather than fight me?"

She did, actually. A drink sounded nice. Especially if Romano would be there. *And then what? You know what he wants, just like the rest of them. You weren’t big enough or strong enough to stop that happening before. But you are now.*

Meredith frowned and some of the last lingering flickers of her resolve returned. Blindly she grabbed one of the empty beer bottles on the bar and threw it at him. It missed by miles and smashed noisily on the floor. Romano looked faintly amused, his gaze intensifying as she reached for another bottle, her fingers halting in midair…

Suddenly rough hands grabbed Meredith and pulled her forcefully away from the eyes that threatened to sap her will. Instantly her mind began to clear, like stepping from a dark room into the sunlight…

"None of that, now, lady! There's been enough disruption for one night without starting more trouble."

A bouncer had hold of her by both arms and was dragging her towards an exit. Meredith could see another bouncer talking to Romano, occasionally throwing her an angry glare. "Are you okay sir? Did she injure you? Do you want to press charges?"

"Best be on your way, Ma’am,” the man said in a gentler tone than he had used before. “The party is over for tonight, I think.” Releasing her arms he pointed to the exit. "Watch your step."

Meredith nodded, casting one quick look back at Balthazar Romano as she stumbled uneasily towards the fire door, lit with a bright green EXIT sign. Pushing down on the bar, she heaved open the door and stepped out onto the metal staircase that was the emergency fire exit. The cool night air felt good, really good against her hot skin and she breathed it in deeply, clearing out the last of that woolly headed sensation. Whatever Romano had slipped in her drink it seemed to have worn off pretty fast.

And had only made her more determined to uncover the truth.

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