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The distant sounds of revelry coming from upstairs, but his gaze remained firmly on Melissa. Her wide eyes met his and for a moment they shared a look of mutual panic.

 

“Why did you do this?” She asked plaintively.

 

“Why are you doing this to me?” He countered.

 

The ropes around the wrists and legs had been expertly tightened with no chance of escape.

 

“I never meant to hurt you. In fact, I have no intention of hurting you now… you need to understand that.” Jay pleaded. “We should be upstairs, having fun like everyone else. It’s New Year’s Eve for crissakes! We’re meant to be at a party.”

 

A tear trickled down Melissa’s cheek but she did not reply.

 

1999 by Prince was now blaring from the speakers and under normal circumstances Jay would have laughed and made a silly joke about it being twenty years too late, but somehow it just didn’t seem like the right time.

 

His current girlfriend Lucy was throwing this ‘Goodbye 2019’ party. She had been organising it since July, painstakingly overseeing every detail from the catering to the decorations.

 

“It’s going to be the party of the year.” She had exclaimed.

 

Oh Lucy, Jay thought. If only she knew that while she was swilling champagne like there was no tomorrow, he was stuck in the basement with his ex-girlfriend. He shook his head to clear his mind before turning his attention back to Melissa.

 

“What if I told you a secret?” He said. “What if I told you that I’m breaking up with Lucy. I just wanted to wait until all this holiday crap was over. I don’t want to be a bad guy…”

 

And he didn’t want to be a bad guy now, but Melissa was proving to be more difficult to convince than he thought. A quick tug of the ropes failed to make a difference, intensifying the helplessness of the situation.

 

“Breaking up with you was the dumbest thing I ever did, but seeing you tonight just brought back all these memories… good memories. I don’t know how you got invited to this party, but maybe it was meant to be. Maybe *we* are meant to be. Like it’s… what’s the word…”

 

The sound of the partygoers counting down to the new year stopped him from finishing his sentence and their eyes locked.

 

“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”

 

“Serendipity.” Melissa murmured.

 

“Serendipity… fate.” Jay nodded. “Whatever you want to call it.”

 

“You mean, I didn’t have to tie you up in the first place?” Melissa asked with wide eyes.

 

A wave of relief washed over Jay as he flashed what he hoped was his most genuine smile.

He wondered whether a headlock would be enough to subdue her whilst ruefully wishing he had joined Melissa’s Taekwondo class all that time ago.

 

“No.” He smiled. “Now, if you could just untie the ropes… maybe we can start the new year with a hug.”

 

Prompts- Story had to include:

  • A COUNTDOWN of some kind.

  • A character who SHARES A SECRET.

  • Has to include the word SERENDIPITY.