The party was a total bust. Hannah sat in a corner nursing her drink, wondering how soon she could slip out of here without seeming like a wet blanket. The music was too loud, every beat like someone smacking her in the face with a heavy pillow.
She wouldn’t have minded if there was dancing going on, but apart from two very drunk girls grinding away on each other near the fireplace, everyone was congregated in little groups throughout the house.
Laura had invited her and promised there’d be plenty of good-looking guys at the party. Hannah supposed that was true, as far as it went. Unfortunately, most of them were only interested in standing around the keg in the kitchen talking about stupid shit like football. Not that she’d ever have the nerve to approach one of them, anyway.
It was like high school all over again, Hannah thought. Even though she was a smart, confident young woman with a good job and a nice apartment, she was still alone. She hadn’t even been asked to go to prom, and she’d been much too shy to ask anyone herself.
Hannah had believed that, once she was out of college, her curvy figure and intellect would prove valuable on the dating scene. As it turned out, even guys her age preferred stupid, super-skinny girls.
At 24, she was still a virgin, and nothing she’d seen indicated that was going to change any time soon. Never mind finding the right guy to fall in love with, to spend the rest of her life with. That seemed like an impossible dream.
Hannah looked at the time on her phone. It was after 1 a.m. There was no point sticking around the party any longer. She’d just wind up getting drunk and having to call a cab. Time to get out while the getting was good.
She found Laura in the dining room, chatting up a young man with blond hair and a cute face. Hannah thought his name was Dave or David or something like that. She caught Laura’s eye and gave a little wave to indicate she was going.
Laura quickly separated herself from Dave/David and hurried over.
“You’re not leaving,” she said.
“I am,” Hanna replied.
“This is pointless, Laura.”
“You’re being ridiculous. You’ve got to put yourself out there.”
“Easy for you to say,” Hannah pouted. Laura was a petite, cheerleader type, the kind the guys went crazy for.
“Oh, honey, don’t be silly,” Laura said.
“Right.” Hannah knew “amazing” was just code for “You’ve got a great personality, but …”
“Thanks for inviting me,” Hannah said, giving Laura a hug.
“I’ll be fine.”
She walked out to her car and headed for home. Driving down the steep, curvy road back to the city, Hannah made a vow to herself.
In the future, she would put herself out there more. She had so much going for her. Her generous figure was an asset, not a liability. She just hadn’t met the right kind of guy yet.
As she thought this, her car’s engine gave an ominous rattle. Her eye went automatically to the fuel gauge. Three-quarters of a tank. Maybe it was nothing. Then the car itself shuddered, and all the interior lights blinked off and back on. The car shook again, and died, rolling to a stop.
“Oh, great,” Hannah said.
She tried cranking the ignition, but nothing happened at all. Not even the clicking sound that would indicate a dead battery. She got her phone out, meaning to call Laura (as much as she dreaded the idea) and found that it wouldn’t turn on. Just a black screen.
Hannah cursed, and figured there was nothing for it now but to walk back to Laura’s. As she was about to get out, she saw a bright light down the road. Maybe she could flag the person down for help.
Then she noticed something odd. The light, instead of coming toward her, was rising into the air. It got brighter as it did so, and she put up a hand to shield her eyes.
The light flared, filling the car with brilliance like a thousand suns, blinding Hannah. The light even burned