The sun was beating down on the German landscape as Elena awoke in her hotel room, blinking slowly as she adjusted to the invasion of harsh light through open windows. The first thing she saw was the semi-silhouetted frame of her captor, Peter Serf, coming into focus. 

The past few days felt like a blur, a movie playing on fast-forward. The attack at the nightclub, swimming in and out of consciousness, hospital lights, doctors, nurses, sleep, traveling by car and boat and plane. She couldn’t even be sure if the memories were a foggy version of reality or dreams so vivid they implanted real memories. Then the abduction. Even that felt like a dream. Moments of lucidity punctuated by the deepest sleep. She shivered in her bed as she came to the realization that her recent consciousness was being moderated by drugs. 

The bed. The hotel. The food. His face. Images of everything from the past few days were swimming in and out of focus. 

‘Did you sleep well?’ he asked with a sickly grin. Elena wondered why the older man had ever come to Glitter, the nightclub where she used to dance. Over the course of their first day in Germany, he told her his entire unvarnished truth. 

He had leveraged his wife’s affair to exact revenge on Dimitar. In one horrific act, he had managed to free himself from a loveless marriage by killing his wife and kidnapping the one thing that Dimitar loved more than anything, her. Serf took it even further by utilizing her as an asset to manipulate Dimitar in Bulgaria. It was a new level of control and coercion she had never before witnessed. 

Typically, older men like him were the ones at the nightclub who watched her dance, their eyes slowly stripping her as she lost herself in the rhythm, the music, the performance. When they were done watching, they would pay in cash and leave. Until Peter Serf, she’d thought these men were entirely harmless. And if they were not, then they most certainly were within the boundaries that were defined by law and the security team on hand at any time the club was open. She’d felt protected by the CCTV cameras at the club and by Dimitar too. Now, all of that security had been stripped away and she felt powerless and physically weak. 

She didn’t answer him but she did accept food. Breakfast was a continental spread of cold meats, pastries and cheeses that he’d obviously had ordered and delivered by the hotel’s room service. It was like a banquet for two except he’d taken his share. Peter had left her an ample amount of tea, coffee and food. She ate as much as she could stomach. She was constantly wary of accepting help from him – he was the enemy – but she knew she needed to. Elena knew, deep down that physical strength was the key if she were to have any chance of escaping. She wasn’t fully healed and if he was going to help her recover, she would take it. Why would she not accept help, regardless of the source, when it gave her the greatest chance of succeeding in an escape attempt. 

‘How is Dimitar doing?’ she asked, no longer feeling the need to hide anything from him.  

‘He won on his first day. Almost a whole month to go. Do you think he can reach a million and win you back?’ 

‘He will.’ 

‘We’ll see, won’t we? Did you love him?’


‘Before the accident, I mean. Or the attack.’

‘Of course I did.’

‘Like you loved Georgi?’ 

‘Don’t talk to me about Georgi.’

‘Do you consider Saskia’s actions to have been deliberate? I see her as a victim of your protector’s stupidity.’

‘Dimitar wasn’t trying to get anyone killed. That’s the difference between him and you.’

‘We are all unique, Elena. Otherwise, why would anyone choose to watch you dance above, say, a brunette or a raven-haired girl? People have preferences. They chose you with your long blond hair, your smile, those eyes.’ 

Under different circumstances, Elena could see why people would find Serf to be attractive. He was charismatic, nice to look at for an older man and persuasive. He had a smooth voice that was easy to listen to and believe. The mature good looks that his face had clearly grown into. He was in good physical condition, too. Strong, lithe, powerful.  All of the positive attributes he had that made him easy to be around were tainted by the knowledge of who he truly was. She was glad for that knowledge. 

He sat forward, drawing close to her face. As he did, all she could think of was how could she escape this madman.

Elena didn’t speak again, looking away from his stare. She concentrated on her food and drink. She would wait for the next meal. Each one would make her stronger. 

Then, one day, she would be gone. 

Chapter 2.1                                  Chapter 2.3

About the Author: Paul Seaton has written about poker for over 10 years, interviewing some of the best players ever to play the game such as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. Over the years, Paul has reported live from tournaments such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the European Poker Tour. He has also written for other poker brands where he was Head of Media, as well as BLUFF magazine, where he was Editor.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.