CM asked me question after question about myself. When he had to respond to me, he gave mostly neutral answers. At one point, while telling him about my past jobs I mentioned having been a nanny. Before I could say that it hadn’t been my favorite job and that kids were not my forte, CM suddenly exclaimed, “So you’re good with kids! That’s really great to hear because sometimes I have to leave early for work and there’s no one to drop Davey* off at daycare.”

“Who is Davey?” I responded warily, suddenly beset with my first solid doubts since leaving CM’s house.

“Oh that’s my son.” Seeing the look on my face CM immediately pipped up, “But he’s really young, not even a year old so he wouldn’t resent anyone I dated.” I was floored, not only did he have a son, but he assumed my worry would be that the kid wouldn’t like me! My true feelings were (and remain to this day) that I like kids…as long as they’re at least 20 feet away from me and silent.

“What about Davey’s mom?” I asked cautiously, wondering how I went from a quick rebound to taking care of a kid when CM had to go to work early.

“Oh, we split up, our relationship has been over for a while.”

Suddenly, I wished that I’d gotten to know CM better before getting into the car with him. I knew virtually nothing about this guy. He parked the car and for the first time I looked around to see where we were. Miles outside of town on a lonely stretch of road, CM had pulled over. We had a beautiful view of the stars and moon but the nearest vehicle was an old truck that looked abandoned and covered with dirt. I had already finished one of my wine coolers and he pulled a 40 out of the bag that I hadn’t noticed before and proceeded to pop the top open and take a big swig.

“Ummm…isn’t it illegal to drink and drive?” I nervously pointed out.

“It’s only one 40, I’ll be fine. Funny story, that’s actually why I moved to Hometown.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I was just visiting a friend here and I got a DUI. I went to court and was put on probation which meant I couldn’t leave. I didn’t have anything going on in my hometown so I just moved here and then when the probation was over I stayed.”

He seemed relaxed, so I boldly asked, “What about that party we were going to?”

“Oh that, well I have to apologize but there is no party” – DUH! – “I just wanted some time to get to know you better.” Who the hell had I gotten into the car with?

My friends would later ask me why I wasn’t panicking at that point, since I’m the person who worries about eating cookie dough and getting samonella or the chances that a major earthquake will hit and level the building I’m standing in. Suffice to say, I’m a worrier. So why wasn’t I afraid? I don’t think I have an answer for that, but I should have been. Read a newspaper and you’ll find at least one mention of a young woman murdered while walking home, on a date, at her job, in her car. I should have been much more afraid than I was.

At that point CM moved in for a kiss and I seperated my mind from that moment and moved onto the logistics of getting home. I had my cell phone, but was in a small, confined space with CM in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t have a whole lot of options and didn’t want to alienate my ride unless I felt I was in serious danger. Beyond that I wasn’t dressed for the chilly evening air and was wearing impractical shoes for running. My best chance was to keep him talking and then convince him to drive me home. Beyond that I could kick off my shoes and run for it with my cell. Other than that, my options seemed almost non-existant.

Luckily, at just that moment my brother called. I was saved! I put an apologetic look on my face and pulled out my cell. “Oh it’s my brother, gotta take this.”

CM plucked the phone out of my hands and put it into a cup holder. “We can deal with that later.” He murmured, leaning toward me.

I felt trapped. Was this the moment that I shove the door open, grab my phone and run? Had I waited too long and made a mistake by letting him take my phone? Was I overreacting? A ghost of my mom’s voice began lecturing me in the back of my mind about how I should never get into a car with a stranger. Too late, I thought grimly. My brother called back again and again and I pulled away from CM.

“I think he really needs to talk to me since he’s calling so much. It must be important, maybe I should go home.” I crossed my fingers, hoping that this would work.

He sighed and started up the car, merging on the freeway in the direction of my house and freedom. This time I kept a sharp eye out to where we were going; we were only driving for a few minutes when his phone rang. He put down his 40 (classy, I know) and answered.

“Hi.” Pause. “Yea, I’m actually on my way home now.” Pause. “No, it’s fine; I’m alone.” He paused again without a single glance in my direction. Why would he lie? Unless the person on the phone had the right to ask who he was with and expect him not to be with me…an ugly suspicion began to form in my mind…

*Name changed to protect the innocent