When Tane is asked to a Halloween party by one of the men from the logging firm he works in, he’s anxious as well as thrilled. The man looks like the one of his dreams but, when the night comes around, he discovers he’s been cruelly tricked and ends up running for his life.
He finds refuge in a house at the edge of the forest and is strangely drawn to the beast of a man who lives there with his elderly brother. But appearances are deceiving, as Tane’s already found out. Can he live long enough to have a fairy-tale ending?
With a glance at his watch, Tane gave himself one last, long critical look, then headed out of the flat. Running lightly down the stairs, Tane was just in time to see Ed on his cell phone before his date pocketed the device.
However, Ed’s smile lost its shine when he saw the changes Tane had made to the costume. By the time he was inside the car, Ed’s expression was one of irritation.
“Where’s the wig? And you said you’d wear makeup.”
“I changed my mind.” Tane shrugged. “I didn’t see it’d be a problem. Everyone’s going to recognise us as Beauty and the Beast.”
“I suppose.” Ed stared the car and drove off without telling Tane where they were headed.
“Which bar are we going to?” Tane asked, hoping to raise the vibe in the car. Seeing Ed with a sullen expression had succeeded in dulling the attraction that had led to Tane accepting the date in the first place. In future, I refuse to be led by my little head. My family said I was the intelligent one, it’s time I started using it. This is looking increasing like it’s going to be a train wreck.
“We haven’t decided.” Ed hissed the minute he’d spoke, then turned to Tane, a bright smile in place. “I agreed to pick up a couple of the guys. Then we’ll all go back to my place and get a cab into town from there.”
“Wouldn’t it have been easier to pick me up last? After all, I live in town.” Tane peered out. “It looks like we’re heading toward work.”
“Ah, yeah. That’s right. They were working overtime. They’re getting showered and changed there. I was checking they were ready when you got into the car. Won’t take us long to get them and then back to town.”
“No, I guess not.” Tane cast a surreptitious glance toward Ed. This isn’t the man from work. He’s brash and full of confidence. Almost too brash. He’s hiding something. I know it.
Another minute passed in silence and Tane decided enough was enough.
“Stop the car!” He made sure his tone left no doubt to his intent, but Ed acted as if he hadn’t heard. “Ed, I said to stop the car. Right now! I’ve changed my mind. You go on, I’ll get a cab back home. You can tell your friends I was ill.”
“You’re coming with me, you fucking fag. When I heard you were looking at me, my stomach turned. Me and the boys will teach you to stay away from the likes of us.”
“Look, whatever you were told, someone got the wrong idea.” Tane went dizzy with fear, and clutched tightly at his seatbelt to stop his hands shaking. His stomach knotted and his heart thundered against his chest, but he fought to stay calm and keep his voice steady. “Just let me out now, and no more need be said about this. I’m not looking to stay here. I’ll be gone soon.”
“Yeah, well not soon enough.” Spittle foamed at Ed’s mouth as he spoke and Tane instantly knew it was going to be useless to try and reason with the man.
I can’t believe what a fool I’ve been. Trying to remain calm, Tane reached surreptitiously for the handle of the car door. I’d rather take my chances jumping out than stay and see what Ed and the others have in store.
“Oh no, you don’t.”
Before Tane could protect himself, Ed’s fist slammed into his jaw and his world turned black.