General Fiction posted July 30, 2018

This work has reached the exceptional level
A romantic getaway...with a twist

Under the Moonlight

by Cory G

Romantic Getaway Contest Winner 

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for sexual content.

When he looked across the pub at Ruby for the second time, she glanced over her shoulder to see if he was actually looking at her and not at someone else. Of course Ruby noticed him. Everyone in Carlito's did. He was a new guy, along with the dude he came in with. But he was so much more than most of the riffraff that blew into town.

"He is so checking you out, Ruby," Claire said, fingering the end of two skinny red straws in the highball she just ordered.

"You think so?" Ruby said, knowing full well by now that he was. The thing she did't understand was why--why was he looking at her? She was okay looking, especially since she lost the weight, but she knew she was no stunner, certainly not like Claire with her silky long brown hair, olive skin, and legs to die for. Not that it mattered that she was average looking, except for fact  he was gorgeous . Model gorgeous. Slim, tall, high cheekbones and all of that. Ruby lightly gnawed on her thumb nail, hopeful that Claire couldn't see how she was feeling. Then reality silently slapped her in the face. He's just trying to flatter me to get to Claire. That's how it usually went. But who was she kidding, that's how it always went.

Claire's light gray eyes widened. "He's coming over here! Oh my God, Ruby, he's coming!" Instinctively, Claire pressed then relaxed her full pink-glossed lips together and flicked her soft curls back from her shoulders.

Ruby's heart was pounding like crazy. She forced herself to appear calm, to take in a long unnoticeable breath and exhale slowly and to try and act natural, if that was even possible. She gave Claire a forced half-smile. Remember, he's coming over to pick up Claire, not you. Don't be a fool, Ruby. Not again.

"Hey, ladies," Armani boy said. Ruby pictured him in a sexy black and white shot with his hair dark slicked back like it was now.

Claire flicked her hair again. "Hi, I'm Claire." She held out her hand to him, her eyes doing her signature flirt-dance.

He took her hand and shook it gently. "I'm Tad."

Then he turned his head and looked at Ruby with his clear blue eyes. Her stomach flip flopped and she felt heat burn her cheeks. There was an awkward pause. "'m Ruby."

"Nice to meet you." He smiled broadly at Ruby. His soft, seductive eyes melted the edges of her heart. Ruby expected him to turn his attention back to Claire. He's being nice to you Ruby. Remember it's a ploy to get the real prize. But he didn't.

Claire moved her seat a little closer to Ruby's. "Where are you from, Tad? We've never seen you around here before." She fluttered her naturally long lashes at him.

"I'm just passing through," he said, never taking his eyes off Ruby. An old guy in the pub threw some coins in the jukebox. An Eagles' song came on. "I love this song. Ruby, do you want to dance?"

This can't be real. Did he really say my name? I must have misheard him.

"Of course she will," Claire answered for her and gave Ruby a nudge with her elbow.

Tad extended his hand toward Ruby for her to take. Claire gave her another nudge and then she was up and walking hand in hand to the small dance floor with Tad. He placed his hand in the small of her back and a shudder went up her spine. Ruby hadn't felt this way in a long time. Not since Jason. And that was almost two years ago.

"You're a quiet one," Tad said to Ruby.

Ruby began to relax a little. "Yes. I guess I am. Sorry. "

"You don't need to apologize." He pulled her in a little closer. Then he whispered in her ear, "I like the quiet ones."

Ruby let out a small giggle. The song ended but Tad didn't let her go and Ruby didn't mind one bit.

After two more songs, Claire got up from the table and walked toward the dance floor. "I'm out of here. You kids don't stay up too late." She briskly walked by waggling her finger at them. And then she was gone before either of them had a chance to say goodbye.

Ruby wondered why Claire left so early. She never left early. Then again, Claire was never the one to be left sitting at the table by herself. That was Ruby's thing. She was used to sitting by herself and watching Claire dance the night away while she sat at the table and minded Claire's purse and drink. Claire was always concerned about her drink because you never know when a guy might slip something in it to take advantage you. So she'd pop back over whenever she felt like it to take a sip of her highball and see if Ruby was doing okay--sitting by herself and babysitting Claire's things. Sometimes Ruby wondered why she bothered being friends with Claire. The simple answer was there was no one else to hang out with. In their small town most of the kids moved away to go to college, or to wherever, just to get the hell out.

"Do you want to get out of here?" Tad asked, talking close to her ear again. His lips, so soft and warm, brushed lightly against her skin and she shivered.

"Where would we go? It's so late?" Ruby asked, a mixture of uncertainty and desire swirled though her.

"Down to the beach," he said. His voice took on a huskier tone. He gently ran the tip of his tongue up the side of her neck then kissed her ear. "No one will be down there at this hour. And the moon is almost full. It will be beautiful."

"Okay. Let's go." Ruby threw caution to the wind. She was doing the exact opposite of what her mom would want her to do but at this moment she didn't care. Don't throw caution to the wind, Ruby. Look what happens when you do. Don't be a fool again, Ruby. Not again.

Ruby pushed her thoughts away. She deserved this, goddammit. She deserved to get the boy sometimes, or even just this one time. She deserved to be happy. Happy--like the way she felt right now and hadn't in so long. Ruby wasn't going to let her mom or Claire get in the way and ruin things. She wasn't going to let them tramp all over her thoughts and spoil her evening.

Tad didn't have a car. Tad told Ruby he came with the guy he was sitting with in the pub and he'd catch up with him later. So they took Ruby's car--it was Ruby's mom's car but she didn't need to tell him that. Her only worry was the baby seat in the back. She hoped he wouldn't see it, or at least not ask her about it. She'd have to make something up. It would only be a little lie. Ruby was determined to let nothing wreck this moment.

Tad didn't mention the baby seat. And they drove most of the way to the lake in silence. He leaned across the console and caressed her bare thigh. Goose bumps broke out across her flesh. Claire was the one who insisted she wear her jean mini-skirt, especially now that she could fit in it again--losing the baby weight was hard but she did it and she was proud of herself. Part of her knew if she didn't lose the weight, no guy would ever be interested in her again.

And it was paying off. Here she was with not just any guy, but a hot guy, one that wanted her and not Claire. Was this really happening? If this is a dream, don't ever let me wake up. But Ruby knew it wasn't a dream. It was real and it was happening right her!

Ruby parked the car. They got out and Tad slipped his arm around her waist and rested it on her hip. They walked down the boardwalk and onto the beach. Once on the sand, they took off their shoes. Ruby sunk her toes into the cool, smooth sand.

"It's the best, right?" Tad asked. He grabbed both her hands and intertwined their fingers.

"It's perfect." And it was. The moon shone off the water. A broad golden path of light rippled with momentary flecks of darkness in a subtle breeze.

They walked to the shore and Ruby dipped her feet in the soft, lapping water. It was cold, a shock to the more than usual heat that had taken over her body, and it made her feel so alive.

"Where are you from, Tad?" Ruby asked. Claire had asked him earlier but he hadn't told them.
He stared at her with his clear, entrancing eyes. A lock of his perfectly slicked back hair fell onto his forehead and an odd smirk formed on his face. "Nowhere and everywhere."

What was that supposed to mean? Obviously he didn't want to tell her, but why? Maybe he was an army brat and his parents moved from place to place throughout his childhood and he was embarrassed to tell her because he really was from nowhere, he had no roots. Ruby of all people should understand. She didn't want to tell him about Jason. About the jerk who knocked her up and took off. A first date was no place to air out your dirty laundry, so Ruby understood, not that this was actually a first date. But Ruby hoped they would see each other again after tonight.

Ruby just smiled back at him.

"I take it you're from here. You grew up here?"

"Is it that obvious?" They both laughed and sat down together, side by side in the sand.

"What do you do for a living, Tad? Your work bring you out this way?" Ruby asked.

"You could say that." Tad replied, again with a vague answer. "What do you do, Ruby?"

Instantly, Ruby flushed and cast her eyes downward at the sand. She felt the red heat rise in her face. About this, she decided she'd be honest. "I'm a student. I take night courses. I didn't quite finish high school the first time around." Then she looked at him and continued. "And during the day I waitress at Tillie's Diner. You might have seen it when you came into town. It's on the corner by the Exxon." Ruby still wasn't going to tell him about Jason or her boy, sweet and sound asleep at home with her mom and tucked safely in bed under a nightlight of colourful slow dancing dinosaurs.

He stared at her for a moment before speaking. She wondered if she had said too much. Maybe he had judged her for not finishing school--for being dumb and good-for-nothing trailer trash like she knew she was.

"Good for you, Ruby. School's important." And that was all Tad said. He seemed to know the perfect thing to say.

He leaned over her and slowly slid his hand up her thigh and higher until he reached her white cotton panties and the wetness that came. Then he moved toward her and kissed her deeply, pressing her back onto the sand. His weight was on top of her now. All of his glorious weight. Ruby closed her eyes and arched her neck as his lips caressed her throat. He unbuttoned her blouse and unfastened her bra. His lips never stopped kissing her skin. His tongue, wet and soft, traced over and around her hardened nipples. Ruby arched her back in pleasure and let out a small cry. The moonlight cascaded over them, two young lovers on the sand and no one around for miles. Tad pulled off her skirt. His hand, rougher this time, grabbed her panties and ripped them off. They came away with one quick jerk and he cast them aside.

Ruby wanted to say something but no words would come. It scared her a little to have her panties torn off. But then he was gentle again. His fingers moving in ways she had never experienced before. She felt his hardness and she reached for his zipper. She wanted nothing more at this moment than to have him inside her, rocking back and forth like the waves lapping at the shoreline in a steady rhythm. But he stopped her. He grasped her wrist firmly, and stopped her.

At first Ruby did nothing. Her entire body stiffened and she drew in a deep breath. "Tad?" Ruby swallowed hard. She could not see his face. "Are you all right?" He was still firmly holding on to Ruby's wrist--too tight and she tried to wriggle free but couldn't. The more she tried to pull her hand away, the tighter and tighter his grip became. Panic coursed its way through every vein in Ruby's body. "Tad, let go of me!"

He lifted his head. His clear eyes didn't seem as clear. They were now a muddy-blue. And then Tad started to laugh. A laugh that came from the darkest, foulest depths of his gut.

"Tad? Who's Tad?" He laughed at Ruby. All of his weight was still straddling her naked body. "Didn't your momma ever tell you not to talk to strangers, Ruby? Huh?"

Ruby screamed as loud as she could but she knew there was no point. No one would hear her. He pounded her in the face with his fist. She heard her nose crack and felt a warm gush of blood run down the side of her face and into her mouth.

"Get off me! GET OFF ME!" Ruby shrieked in pain. She tried to kick him with her bare legs but all her legs did was flail around and whip up sand. She tried to claw at him with her hands but he grabbed them and pinned them above her head. "Why? Why are you doing this to me?" Deep uncontrollable sobs escaped her gasping throat.

"You didn't really think I liked you, did you Ruby?" The full moon started to fade behind a cloud. Pretend-Tad grabbed both of Ruby's wrists with one hand. He was fumbling around for something in the pocket of his shirt. Ruby saw it as a chance to break free. With all her strength she ripped one of her hands out of his grasp, grabbed a handful of sand, and threw it at his face. He screamed and let go of her other arm, wiping fiercely at his eyes to get the sand out. She twisted her hips from under him, pulled herself free, and ran as fast as she could. She didn't have time to get her clothes, her phone, her car keys. Her only hope was to run out to the highway and hope some late night traveller would stop for her.

All Ruby could think about was her sweet baby boy and how she was so sorry for letting him down like this. She promised herself to never do anything this stupid again. If there was a next time.

Behind her, she could hear her attacker's heavy feet on the boardwalk. He was only a few steps behind her now. Ruby felt his hand grab her ponytail and pull her down hard. Ruby screamed as her  entire body flew then fell half on and half off the boardwalk. Her ribs broke on the side that hit the edge of the walkway.

Pretend-Tad was breathing hard. "Feisty little bitch, aren't you? He was on top of her again. Immediately, she saw what he had been fumbling around in his pocket for. It was a switchblade, unfolded to reveal it's rusty tip. "Maybe I should have picked up Claire--she's one hot tramp. Don't you think, Ruby?"

Even at this moment of life and death, the mention of Claire's beauty deflated Ruby.

"I thought you'd be easier, more desperate. But maybe I was wrong, Ruby. You've got a lot of fight in you for a momma."

What? How did he know? How could he know I was a mom? Did this guy just escape from the clink? Was he some kind of psycho serial killer? Ruby thought her guess probably wasn't too far off the mark.

"Poor, Caleb. He'll be an orphan without you. We both know the baby-daddy wants nothing to do with him." Pretend-Tad laughed again.

Ruby growl-screamed at him because that's all that she could do. The moon shone bright above a low band of clouds. The light glinted off the blade before it sank deep into Ruby's throat.


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