As the countryside flew by the Volvo’s rear windows, Jessica kept her gaze locked mutely on her hands clutching one another tensely in her lap, unable to think of anything beyond the horror of what had happened at the truck stop.
She played it over and over in her mind, wondering whether she should or could have done something differently. She had tried to enter this initiation weekend with an open attitude, prepared to do things she wouldn’t normally do, to suffer some embarrassment or discomfort as part of the Theta hazing ritual. But not this. Being forced to let strange men touch her naked boobs? Having her sorority sister’s boyfriend forcibly yank her across his knee, pull down her pants and underwear, and spank her bare ass while everyone watched and took pictures? No. This was too much.
Could it conceivably be that this was part of the Theta hazing? That all the girls went through this as Shannon and Nick insisted? It seemed impossible. Yet, as wrong as all this felt, as persistent as the voice in Jessica’s head had become, telling her that she needed to escape, abandon her ambitions of becoming a Theta, just get home, maybe even report what had happened to her, she couldn’t bring herself to contemplate that possibility.
Part of it was probably that she couldn’t let go of her mother’s dream of having her join the sorority, it was too deeply ingrained in her. If she stopped cooperating or demanded that they turn the car around immediately, then if nothing else her hopes of joining Theta Theta Psi were over, and despite everything, being part of that exclusive club still meant something to Jessica.
Part of it was also what Shannon had hissed to her just before shoving her back into the Volvo: “You wash out if you want to, Rushie, but if you ever tell anyone about any of this, I swear to god, no one will ever speak to you again. You will be a complete social outcast for the rest of your University career. And not only that but I will personally claw those pretty blue eyes out. Bet your worthless life on it, Rushie.”
Jessica looked up from her lap to sneak a look at the back of Shannon’s head. After the burst of manic energy at the beginning of the road trip, Shannon had become a relatively silent presence, deferring almost entirely to Nick. The whispered warning was practically the first thing she had directed towards Jessica in hours. She had also become increasingly nervous and twitchy, constantly rolling down the window to light up another cigarette.
This passivity did nothing to lessen Jessica’s fear of the black-haired girl, her silence no more an indication of harmlessness than a coiled snake. Yet Shannon’s threats were still only part of what kept Jessica frozen in her place, locked helplessly in the back seat of this moving vehicle between two sweaty frat boys.
Part of it was also that she felt a strange sense of guilt at what had happened. Why didn’t she just say no when Nick asked her to open her shirt? Why didn’t she slap that creepy man’s hand away when he began to caress her breasts? Why didn’t she physically fight, scream for help, when Nick dragged her over to the bench for her spanking?
Is that what people would say if they found out? If Jessica told? Would they say she cooperated, that she must have been stupid to let things go as far as they did? Or maybe they would say that she liked it. That she welcomed the attention. Jessica shuddered.
And then there were the pictures. Thankfully, Nick had turned down Randal’s request for copies. Even when Randal offered to pay, Nick had just laughed and told him the photos weren’t for sale, giving Jessica some hope that he might keep his promise not to share them with the outside world. If she ran away or stopped cooperating, though, everyone at school would see them, not just photos of her flashing her tits, but video of her bent over the hood of Nick’s car getting her ass paddled, video of her sprawled across Nick’s lap bare-bottomed. How could she look anyone in the eye again, knowing they had all seen her in these humiliating positions?
Her only hope, she told herself, was to stick the weekend out and pray that these boys kept those videos to themselves, just as they had apparently kept secret the incriminating evidence of the other Theta girls’ hazings.
“Here, next exit.”
Jessica was pulled from her brooding by the realization that Shannon was apparently preparing to pull off the highway at Nick’s direction. They had turned off the Interstate several miles back and had been cruising up a two lane state highway approaching a town called Millard. Not for the first time on this trip, Jessica found herself wishing she had a better grasp of local geography. She had no idea where they were or how far they might be from the Theta’s cabin in Mount Greenwood.
“If you take Main up a few blocks, there’s this steakhouse kind of place,” Nick was telling Shannon as the Volvo paused momentarily at the stop sign at the end of the highway offramp, “we’ll grab some grub and I’m gonna give Jeff a call.”
What were they doing pulling off in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere?, Jessica thought. Who was Jeff? Had the others all discussed this beforehand without her? Nick turned around as if sensing her confusion.
“We’re gonna pull off for an early dinner, Jess,” he told her, “my cousin lives around here, so I figured I’d stop by and see him as long as we’re driving right by. Used to visit Millard almost every summer growing up. Real shit town. Colton’s up here on Main and 3rd cooks a decent steak, though. You’ll like it.”
Colton’s could easily have been mistaken for a renovated Sizzler or an Olive Garden. With its maroon, vinyl-upholstered booths and wood-paneled walls, the restaurant had a slightly old-fashioned but otherwise completely non-descript feel. Jessica sat across from Dylan and Matt, waiting anxiously for Shannon to return from the bathroom.
After they had pulled up to the restaurant and piled out of the car, stretching out their trip stiffness, Nick had counted out a handful of twenties (the same ones, Jessica assumed, that he had collected from the men at the truck stop in exchange for letting them touch her breasts) and thrust them over to Shannon for the meal. Then, as an apparent afterthought, he had reached back into the car and handed Shannon Jessica’s pledge paddle.
“Just so we’re clear,” he had said to Jessica, “Shannon’s in charge of you until I get back. Do what she says or you know what will happens, right?”
“Yes sir,” Jessica had finally responded when it became clear that the question was not rhetorical.
To Jessica’s embarrassment, therefore, Shannon had taken the paddle with her when they had entered the restaurant, leaving Nick in the parking lot on his phone. The entrance had turned out to be a false start, since the hostess had refused to seat them. While she had given Shannon’s wooden implement merely a half-curious, half-disapproving look, she had been unable to abide the provocative condition of Jessica’s braless cleavage.
“I’m sorry, Honey,” she had said with a critical cock of her eyebrows, “ I know that’s probably how you college girls dress these days, but this is a family restaurant, and we got a dress code.”
Of course, Shannon had played it off like the fashion choice had been Jessica’s and had sent Jessica back to the car in shame to put on her bra. This, of course, had necessitated asking for her underwear back from Nick, who, to her surprise, put up no argument, apparently too engrossed in his phone conversation to bother to humiliate her further.
Jessica had grabbed her bra off the dashboard, and, as discreetly as she could, ducked down in the passenger’s seat to quickly change her top.
Breasts newly resecured, she had braved the hostess’s judgmental looks and reached the table where Dylan and Matt were waiting for her, Shannon apparently having slipped off to the ladies’ room.
When Shannon returned, she appeared reenergized and immediately flagged the waitress down, demanding a vodka tonic. When the drink arrived, Shannon immediately pushed them to order. Shannon ordered a steak, medium-rare for herself, but, when the waitress turned to Jessica, Shannon cut her off.
“She’ll be sharing with me. Don’t want you porking out, Rushie. Not when you’ve still got so much modeling to do.”
Jessica hadn’t eaten since that morning, and, though she had been too distracted to take much note until now, she suddenly realized how hungry she was. She hoped that Shannon was serious about letting her eat some of her meal and wouldn’t simply starve her.
The food arrived surprisingly quickly, just enough time for Shannon to knock back her cocktail and order another. The waitress set down a plate in front of Shannon with a large juicy-looking cut of steak surrounded by green beans and mashed potatoes. Jessica stared enviously as everyone else began digging in while she could only stare at the empty space in front of her.
Finally, after Shannon had apparently eaten her fill, she turned to Jessica.
“Aw, is little Jessica hungy?” she cooed in a baby-talk voice, “Ok, open wide for num nums”
Shannon cut off a small piece of meat, speared it with her fork, and thrust it towards Jessica’s face. Jessica stared at it for a moment, considering reaching for the fork, but Shannon’s game was clear. She wanted to humiliate Jessica by feeding her like a baby. Unsure what else to do and enticed by the greasy morsel hovering in front of her nose, Jessica finally opened her mouth, wrapped her lips around Shannon’s fork and pulled the meat off. Dylan snickered and pulled out the camcorder.
“Well? All done?” said Shannon.
The tiny bite of steak had only increased the rumbling in Jessica’s stomach. She gave the food on Shannon’s plate a desperate, sideways look and shook her head.
“Well, ask the right way and you might get a little more.”
Jessica cleared her throat.
“May I have some more?” she asked under her breath, “Please? Ma’am?”
Shannon smiled and began cutting another piece. Piece by piece, she inserted bites of steak directly into Jessica’s mouth while Jessica’s hands rested helplessly on the seat beside her. Dylan kept the camera trained diligently on Jessica’s face as she chewed and swallowed and pliantly accepted another offering.
As Jessica’s feeding continued, Shannon began toying with her, pulling the fork away at the last minute so that Jessica’s mouth closed around empty air, moving the meat suddenly so as to dab the sides of Jessica’s lips with grease. Eventually, the area around Jessica’s mouth became spotted all around with meat juice, some of it running in drips down to her chin. It was at this point that Shannon, running low on steak, moved on to the mashed potatoes
Dipping a spoon into the white mush, Shannon measured out a heaping scoop and sent it careening towards Jessica’s face. It was a huge mouthful, and Jessica, no longer famished, was reluctant to open her mouth. Yet, she knew that refusing would surely make the situation worse. Unenthusiastically, she parted her lips and allowed the spoon inside, trying her best to suck off the entire helping of potatoes.
Before Jessica had had a chance to process that bite, Shannon had scooped up another load and was shoving it in her face. Jessica tried her best to chew and swallow quickly, but Shannon was pushing the spoon insistently against her lips. Jessica tried to take a bite, despite her mouth still being partially full. It was a messy bite, and globs of potato clung to her lips.
Jessica began to reach for a napkin but Shannon told her harshly to keep her hands where they were. Suddenly, another spoonful was knocking against her lips. Jessica tried desperately to clear her mouth to make way, but Shannon, appearing to grow impatient, kept jabbing the spoon towards Jessica’s lips, smearing mashed potato all around in the process.
When Shannon scooped up yet another mound, there was no pretense at all. She simply began wiping the spoon on Jessica’s cheeks and chin, sticking dollops of white goop to wherever they would stick on the coed’s pretty young face. For good measure, Shannon smeared some potato on Jessica’s nose and dabbed some on her eyebrow, then leaned back giggling to admire her artwork. It was probably the most happy Jessica had seen her since the trip began. Meanwhile, of course, Dylan continued to film and Matt watched with a nervous grin on his face.
Jessica’s head dipped in indignity, and, as it did, a large chunk of mashed potato dropped from her cheek and fell unceremoniously directly into her cleavage, which, due to the missing blouse button, remained exposed.
Suddenly, just as Jessica was considering whether to ask Shannon for permission to wipe her face off, Nick arrived. He was accompanied by two men, both around Nick’s age or perhaps slightly older, both with crew cuts, both noticeably muscled. Nick stopped in surprise when he saw Jessica’s face, then smiled broadly. Jessica looked up helplessly and Nick and the two strange men, conscious of the comical image she must cut, with her face caked in beef grease and mashed potatoes .
“What happened here, Jess?” asked Nick.
“Dumb bitch is the sloppiest eater I’ve ever seen,” cackled Shannon, and, for good measure, flicked a spoonful of potatoes towards Jessica, which splattered on her neck and rolled down to join the rest of the mush that had oozed into her cleavage.
“Well, sorry she’s such a mess, guys, but this is Jessica, the chick I was telling you about. Jess, this is my cousin Jeff and this is his pal Alberto.”
Jessica swallowed hard and managed a meek “hi.”
“Jeff and Alberto served in Afghanistan together,” Nick continued. “Alberto here actually just got back a couple weeks ago from . . . Faro?”
“Farah,” said Alberto.
“Farah,” Nick corrected. “Wild, huh? Anyway, there’s a VFW hall here in Millard they hang out at sometimes, and they’ve invited us to stop by for a couple of drinks before we hit the road again. How’s that sound?”
Before anyone could answer, the waitress stepped up beside the three men to check on the table. Seeing Jessica’s food-splattered face, she stopped short.
“Why don’t I just get you kids the check? . . .”