She knew I was watching her.
Like an innocent creature in the woods who sensed danger nearby, her body reacted to the force of my gaze. Only the trained eye of a hunter could pick up the signs. There was the slight tensing of her shoulders. The way her head tilted in my direction but didn’t fully turn. Her hand self-consciously rose to cover her heart as if her palm could smother the sudden rapid beating.
She angled her head a little further as she swept a thick golden curl behind her ear. I could just see the high curve of her flushed cheek as she trained her gaze downward, no doubt trying to catch a secretive glimpse of me from under her soot-black lashes. Her pink tongue flicked out to lick her lips. The champagne light from the chandelier suspended above picked up on the faint shimmer left behind.
Balls of ice clattered then settled in my glass as I tipped the smooth, amber liquid past my lips. The Macallan Rare single-malt scotch might as well have been rotgut whiskey for all I tasted it. The smoky vanilla and clove tones of the liquor did nothing to soothe my anger or cool my rising lust. Placing the now empty glass on the silver tray of a passing catering server, I crossed my arms over my chest as I leaned against the doorjamb.
The little minx was now doing her best to ignore me.
Her head was thrown back, and even over the annoying din of the surrounding party guests, the sound of her laughter reached me. It was too high-pitched and hollow as if she were forcing the sound past stiff, nervous lips. Some asshole in a cheap off-the-rack suit grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the makeshift dance floor set up in my parents’ spacious living room.
I didn’t recognize him but then I didn’t know many of the guests. I suspected neither did my little sister, Nadia, despite it being her eighteenth birthday party. Many would be high-profile businessmen with their wives as well as the occasional politician or policy maker. These were the people my family associated with in the light of day to help keep up the veneer of legitimacy.
My job in the Ivanov family was to associate with the types who only crawled out of their holes in the dead of night. I kept to the corners of fine society. Dark corners for doing dark deeds. It was how I had earned the moniker Demon Damien. If I showed up on someone's doorstep, there were no more second chances. It was game over.
I nodded a greeting to my brother Gregor. He stopped a server and gave them some quick instruction before approaching. Despite being separated by several years, we were thick as thieves, always had been. We stood silently surveying the crowd. The same server approached with an old-fashioned glass filled with clear liquid, only one small cube of ice. No doubt Stoli Elit, his favorite vodka. Although Russian to my very core, I never developed a taste for the stuff, preferring the rich malty flavor of scotch instead.
Gregor nodded toward the server. “You need another?”
I trained my gaze back on her.
The DJ was playing I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen.
Hey little girl is your daddy home; did he go and leave you all alone…
Ignoring her dance partner, her body swayed to the soft, somnolent beat. Each curve hugged by crushed pink velvet, the dress slinking all the way down to her ankles. No doubt a designer dress she’d stolen from some boutique. She turned her back on me and shifted her hips from side to side. The velvet fabric caught snatches of light, illuminating the gentle swell of her ass. Her slender arms rose and slipped under her thick curtain of hair, raising the long length to expose the vulnerable pale skin of her neck. I could just make out the image of a small pink heart tattooed in the center. Irrational anger twisted in my stomach at the thought of another man touching her in such an intimate place, even if it was only with a tattoo needle.
I shifted my stance, trying to ease the increasingly pleasurable pain below my belt.
The little minx was toying with me. Foolishly thinking this crowded house full of guests would protect her.
She played with fire.
Knowing I had better at least be mostly sober for the fight that was brewing between me and her, I shook my head and waved the server away.
The man she was dancing with placed his hand on her hip, and I stiffened. Fortunately — for both of them — she swayed in the opposite direction, dislodging his grasp. She did it so effortlessly there wasn’t a doubt in my mind she had had plenty of practice dodging unwanted grabs. My jaw clenched so hard I swore my back teeth cracked. I took a deep breath through my nose, forcing myself to remain calm.
“His name is Pavel Rasskovich,” offered Gregor. I didn't even bother to pretend to not know what he was talking about. “A low-level thug for the Novikoffs. He’s here as a bodyguard for one of the useless brothers.”
If he touched her again, he was a dead man.
I had no right to feel so possessive toward her. No right at all.
In fact, it was practically criminal. The girl was barely eighteen to my twenty-seven years.
Yelena Nikitina, my little sister’s best friend… and the very definition of trouble.
Stubborn and untamed, her father had let her run wild since her mother’s death with virtually no supervision or discipline.
There was the time eight years ago I’d caught her stealing a few silly makeup items from a local store. I had been home from college for the weekend. Her mother had just died, if I recall. She fought me like a wildcat when I snatched her by the arm after witnessing her pocketing the stolen loot. Her arm was so thin, I was worried I would break a bone if I squeezed too hard. She looked so small and vulnerable, but those big blue eyes still shone bright with defiance. Ignoring her protests, I had dragged her to the McDonald’s next door and bought her a Happy Meal.
She ate every bite as if it were her last meal. Or more accurately… her first.
It had made me sick to think that may have been the only half-way decent meal she had had in days. I'd made a mental note to have my parents speak with her father. He was a low-life hanger-on who occasionally did small jobs for my family. The sort of stuff we wouldn’t dirty our hands with. True to her nature, she’d stared me down the entire time, refusing to utter even a single word. She did, however, slip the small Hello Kitty toy that came with the meal into her pocket when she thought I wasn’t looking.
As I came back to the present, the same sick feeling twisted in my gut, but this time it was guilt. I'd spoken with my mother about Yelena’s welfare but that was as far as I'd taken it. Shortly after, Gregor got into that mess at his college and was shipped off to St. Petersburg. My life became more complicated with him gone. It was no excuse; simply the hard truth.
Still, I should have made sure my parents took an interest and looked after her.
I wasn’t technically responsible for her welfare but that wasn’t how I saw it.
I had let her down, abandoned her to the sloppy care of that piece of shit she called a father.
And now that little girl with the big blue eyes had grown into a woman — a young, still naive one — but nevertheless a woman.
And now she was in trouble — real trouble.
This time, I wouldn’t be able to pay off a simple shopkeeper and threaten him not to call the police.
She had gotten herself in deep with some ruthless people so dirty even my family refused to work with them.
Her only hope was for me to do what I should have done years ago.
I would let it be known she was under my protection.
I wasn’t sure even that would be enough to save her, but I’d be damned if I’d let her down again.
I would get her out of this mess and then send her far away. I’d lock her up in some European college where she would be safe from her own mistakes.
And from me.
There was no denying it. I wanted her, badly. My gaze hardened as I watched her body sway to the next song. Jealous of every undeserving man in the room who was witnessing her display. A display I was certain was done purely to antagonize me. I couldn’t say why. It wasn’t like I had spoken a word to her or even seen her in years. Just somehow, I knew she was as aware of me as I was of her. I could feel it, even across this distracting sea of chattering guests. A primal clash of wills.
Her soft hair fell in waves down her back. I itched to wrap the long locks around my fist as I claimed those full lips. I could practically feel the warmth of her skin and ached to inhale her scent as I crushed her to my chest. I needed to know if her eyes changed color when she was aroused. Would they become a deeper sapphire blue?
Clearing my throat, I forced myself to look away.
She was my little sister’s friend and barely an adult.
This was wrong.
If I was truly going to save her, then it had to also be from myself. While I might be a better man than her father, it was only by a few degrees.
My life revolved around blood money. Selling arms to the highest bidder with no thought to who or what that man or country may be and not having the slightest care regarding their intentions. I wasn’t the one pulling the trigger, so I didn’t give a damn what they did with the guns I sold them. I never had a choice about entering the family business so there was no point in being morally judgmental about it. It was better to accept it and move on; after all, family was family, and they came first.
I didn’t have a choice, but I would make sure Yelena did.
She wasn’t like us. Her family didn’t have an empire to protect. She could escape this life if she chose. And even if she didn’t choose, I was choosing for her. She deserved better. I had the money to buy her a decent life… one away from me and all this violence and bullshit.
Glancing at my brother, I asked, “Have you seen Samara yet?”
He shook his head.
Speaking of family bullshit, my brother was being forced into an arranged marriage with our little sister’s other close friend, Samara Federova. Unlike Yelena, Samara’s family did have an empire. One they sold her to protect. It wasn’t my brother’s idea. It had been our father’s dying wish, one Gregor would see through no matter his feelings on the subject. His unenviable responsibility as the eldest son. Family was family. The millions Samara’s father demanded for her hand in marriage was paltry compared to the business and diplomatic connections we would receive once the Ivanov family was joined in marriage to the Federovs.
Gregor reached into his pocket and pulled out a Regius Double Corona cigar. They were the finest cigars in the world. Like me, he always demanded the best. It was part of the golden handcuffs which kept us tethered to this lifestyle. The luxury our ill-gotten gains afforded us had a rather seductive pull.
“I’m going to escape out the back and have a smoke. You coming?”
I shook my head.
Gregor followed my gaze as I once more watched Yelena on the dance floor. “When are you going to take care of that little situation we learned about today?”
Gregor was of course aware of the trouble Yelena had caused a few days ago. He had planned to handle the situation himself, but I insisted on taking ownership of the problem.
Just because I was forcing myself not to touch her — to claim her for my own — didn’t mean she wasn’t mine. In some strange way, I felt responsible for her. Her problems were my problems. “Soon.”
Gregor nodded as he took another sip of his drink. Laying it on a nearby tray, he nodded to me again and slipped through the crowd.
I returned my attention to Yelena.
Another man in a cheap suit had grabbed her from behind, wrapping his fat arms around her slim middle.
All my previous good intentions were gone.
Fuck my good intentions.
Someone with my black soul had no business having good intentions anyway.
Yelena was mine and right now that asshole was touching her, which meant he had to die.
I stormed toward the dance floor… and her.
“We’re going to get caught!”
Ignoring the warning, my boyfriend tugged harder on my arm.
The clatter of music and laughter from the party faded the farther Peter pulled me down the dark corridor. When I glanced back, I could just make out a shaft of light as it stretched across the marble tiled entrance to the great hall. The servants had moved the ancient furnishings out and rolled the Persian carpets up to make room for the celebration. Hired catering staff dressed in ill-fitting tuxedo jackets passed around silver trays with either caviar canapés or glasses of Veuve Clicquot while everyone smiled and pretended to like one another.
From where it was tucked away on a thickly wooded lot along the Rock Creek Parkway, visitors could be forgiven if they thought they’d arrived at a creepy gothic manor. My friend Nadia’s massive granite house was probably over a hundred years ago.
The estate screamed old money and tradition, even though it was far from the truth.
It was only what they wanted people to think.
Instead, it was all just smoke and mirrors.
But I wasn’t allowed to talk about such things.
Peter’s warm hand was sweaty as it roughly clung to mine. As he dragged me down the shadowed labyrinth of hallways, he stopped before each threshold, twisting one doorknob after another to see if they were locked. Soon, the muted rattle of metal against wood and Peter’s soft curses replaced the music. Before long, he found a door the servants had neglected to secure. We slipped inside, and Peter softly clicked the door shut.
The room was mostly dark, only hints of moonlight filtering through the gauzy silver curtains covering the floor-to-ceiling windows.
We didn’t dare turn on a light.
I took a few careful steps inside, not wanting to bump into any furniture. Although I had played in my best friend Nadia’s house since I was a child, I hadn’t been paying attention, so I wasn’t sure which room Peter had pulled us into. I knew the first floor on this side of the house mostly contained a mixture of bedrooms, gaming areas, and offices.
A distinct scent clung to the air, the unmistakable mark of the room’s occupant.
Closing my eyes, I inhaled.
It was a warm woodsy scent with a hint of ginger and spice.
My eyes snapped open.
I knew that scent.
“We have to leave.”
Clasping Peter’s forearm in a tight grip, I bent my knees and tugged, throwing my weight backward. “Please, Peter. We can’t stay in this room!”
My slight frame was not enough to budge him.
“No. All the other rooms are locked. Besides…” He snatched me around the waist, then yanked me against his chest. “This one has a bed.”
Peering over Peter’s shoulder, I widened my eyes as I could just make out the ominous outline of the four-poster bed.
That was his bed.
Clawing at Peter’s fingers, I freed myself from his hold.
I had to get out of here!
“No, Peter. You don’t understand!”
I couldn’t be caught in this bedroom.
In his bedroom.
Of course, I should have known he would be here tonight.
It was Nadia’s eighteenth birthday, after all.
It had been five years since I had last seen him, but it didn’t matter.
Ten years… hell, twenty years could pass and it still wouldn’t matter.
I would still be terrified of him.
I wasn’t sure why I was nervous.
It wasn’t like he cared--if he even knew who I was.
I had stopped myself from asking Nadia if he would be attending her birthday party at least a million times.
Because it didn’t matter.
If I kept telling myself that, it might actually be true. It had to be true. Besides, I had my own life now. I even had a boyfriend. I wasn’t that foolish little girl with a crush. Not anymore.
But that scent.
Bleu de Chanel.
The unmistakable scent of him.
Goose bumps rose on my arms.
He was here.
Pivoting on my heel, I clamored in the darkness for the doorknob, desperate to return to the party. Back to the music and light and dancing, to people and laughter… and safety.
As soon as I managed to open the door a sliver, it was wrenched from my hands and slammed shut.
Peter took hold of my shoulders, spun me around, and pushed me against the door.
“You’re such a fucking cock tease.”
The dim lighting threw his face into shadows, contorting his features into harsh lines. His breath had the fetid yeast smell of stale beer from the drink he’d stolen from the bar before the party began.
“What? Why would you—” Confusion scrambled my thoughts.
He clawed at the neckline of my dress, tearing it.
His palmed my breast, ruthlessly squeezing it. My eyes teared at the searing jolt of pain.
“The saintly Federovs and their virginal daughter. Your family thinks they are so much better than everyone else,” he jeered as he forced his knee between my thighs.
Digging my nails into his wrist, I struggled to break free. “Let me go!”
“I’m tired of hand jobs and dry humps. Come on, Samara,” he whined as he down crowded closer and tried to kiss me.
I stretched my head to the side, avoiding his lips. My mind could not keep up with Peter’s crazy display of emotions. Angry one second, but pleading the next. I knew he wasn’t happy with my decision not to go all the way, but he was insane if he thought I was going to have sex with him at my friend’s birthday party with my mother and father just down the hall.
Craning my neck, I kept pulling on his arm, trying to dislodge his painful grip on my breast.
“Peter, get off me!”
His free hand went for the zipper of his jeans. “I’ll be quick. I’ll even pull out, so you won’t get pregnant.”
This isn’t happening.
Although we could never talk about Nadia’s family business, I knew security guards always patrolled the grounds. Maybe if I cried out, I’d get lucky and one would be in earshot and come help me. With the loud music, there was no chance of anyone from the party hearing me. As I opened my mouth to scream, there was the soft shush of a sliding door opening. The cool rush of midnight air brought with it the acrid scent of cigar smoke.
Peter released his grasp, whirling around.
We both stared as the immense dark figure of a man stalked in from the stone patio running along the northside of the bedroom.
It was him.
Nadia’s older brother.
In the barely lit room, he was still deep in shadows, but I knew it was him.
My gaze followed the glowing end of the cigar he must have been smoking outside.
Without saying a word, he stepped inside and leaned against the front of the desk. He took another slow drag from his cigar; the end glowing brightly like an evil, all-seeing eye. When he exhaled, a halo of sweet tobacco smoke encircled him. With slow deliberation, Gregor set the cigar aside, slid open a side drawer… and withdrew a revolver.
My hand flew up to cover my mouth.
Peter shifted behind me.
When Gregor’s chilly voice finally broke the tense silence, my body started at the sound.
“Were you aware that Russians did not invent Russian roulette?”
Flicking the chamber open, he reached into the drawer a second time, then raised his arm. The bright casing of a single bullet caught the moonlight.
“An American author made it up for a short story,” Gregor continued as he slid the bullet into the revolver chamber with a click.
“Who is this guy?” Peter whispered over my shoulder.
“Shut up,” I hissed through clenched teeth, afraid to even move my lips. My body tensed so tightly it felt like brittle glass. I was sure the slightest loud sound or sudden movement would make me shatter.
Gregor straightened to his full height.
Peter and I both gasped, stumbling a few steps backward.
“Still, everyone believes it must be true. Probably because we Russians are so crazy, no?” Gregor said as he took several steps toward us.
Peter’s fingers dug into my shoulders as he pushed me forward.
My fingers turned to ice as all the feeling left my body. My tongue felt heavy when I tried to form my next words. “Gregor, it’s… Samara, I’m Nadia’s—”
“I know who you are, Samara.”
My heart lurched at the sound of my name on his lips—at the seductive way he softly rounded the r.
Despite both of our families living in America now, Gregor had been sent back to Russia just over five years ago because of some hastily covered up scandal at his college. So his accent was thicker, giving his voice a decadent darkness that was almost mesmerizing.
My brow furrowed. How could he know who I was? The last time I’d been around him, I was nothing more than his little sister’s awkward friend, barely thirteen years old. He hadn’t known I was alive.
Without warning, Gregor reached out and snatched Peter by the collar, dragging him out from behind me. Peter’s gangly limbs flailed as Gregor manhandled him across the room. He tossed the man into a chair in front of the cold fireplace.
Placing his hands on the armrests, Peter immediately tried to get up. When Gregor raised the gun, Peter fell back onto the seat. His high-pitched voice broke as he stuttered, “We didn’t mean to come into your room.”
Gregor cut his grey gaze toward me.
I hugged myself around the waist, trying to stop my body from trembling. His steely eyes surveyed me from head to toe.
He took a step forward.
With a gasp, I stumbled backward. I couldn’t help it.
As much as the man enthralled me…
He terrified me more.
Except now, he was even bigger and scarier with way more tattoos. Even in the darkened bedroom, I could make out the outline of an image on his neck and several more on his hands, making the tailored suit he wore a mockery of civility. The man radiated dark energy and barely leashed anger.
His eyes narrowed. I could tell my reaction displeased him.
Switching the gun to his left hand, he kept it trained on Peter. After giving him a warning look, Gregor returned his attention to me. He raised his right arm.
Instinctively, I moved back again. The hard look on his face stilled me. After holding my gaze long enough to freeze the blood in my veins, his eyes lowered to the torn neckline of my dress.
Glancing down, it mortified me to see the top of my pink lace bra exposed. Despite the low lighting, you could already see the beginning of a bruise on my soft flesh from Peter’s rough handling.
Using two fingers, Gregor pulled aside the fabric, exposing more of my skin to his gaze. Using just the tip of his middle finger, he caressed the outline of the bruise. I hissed in air through my teeth when he touched a particularly sensitive spot.
His jaw tightened. The steel of his eyes turned to molten fire.
Turning his head, he looked at Peter as he cocked back the hammer.
Peter’s eyes widened as he threw up his hands in pitiful defense. “No!”
His plea fell on deaf ears.
Without saying a word, Gregor pulled the trigger.
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“So you just knocked on a strange man’s door in the middle of the night? Do you have any idea what could have happened to you? A little girl like you all alone? Unprotected!” he raged as he swallowed the contents of his glass before slamming it down onto the counter so hard I heard the crystal crack.
Was he serious?
Forgetting all about my fear, my humiliation and my naked state, I rose onto my knees. “You!” I accused, pointing a finger at him, “You happened to me! And it wasn’t in the middle of the night!” I finished petulantly, my lower lip sticking out as I put my hands on my hips.
He moved so swiftly I didn’t have a chance to escape.
Wrapping his fist in my curls, he wrenched my head back as he pulled me against his warm body. Aware of my naked breasts brushing against the dark hair on his chest, my heart thumped wildly.
His black eyes narrowed as his lips twisted into a sneer. “And what were you going to do, детка? Beg him prettily on your knees for the money?” The angrier he got, the thicker his Russian accent became. His voice was nothing but a low guttural growl to my untrained ears, but I understood enough.
With a cry of rage, my arm flew up, ready to slap him and damn the consequences.
A vice snapped around my thin wrist. In one smooth move, he had my arm locked behind my back.
“Perhaps I should make you beg me for the money?”
My vision blurred.
“Would you do that, детка, my sweet little baby girl. Would you get on your knees and open that beautiful mouth for me?”
My body’s reaction to his dark threat was nothing short of sick and twisted. I felt the rush of heat between my legs. I clenched my thighs at the thought of being submissively prostrate in front of this dangerously powerful man. My mouth open and begging for his… his… oh, God! Heat rose on my cheeks as the wanton image played behind my eyes.
Without thinking, my tongue darted out to wet my lips.
Pressed close to his chest, I felt the vibrations from his growl.
His other arm swept against my upper thighs just under my ass as he lifted me off the bed. Carrying me before him, he strode across the room. Pressing my hands against his shoulders, I squirmed in his embrace. “Where are you taking me?”
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A Ruthless Russian Arms Dealer crosses paths with an innocent Librarian student and decides to claim her for his own, despite the consequences.
“No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine.”
- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
I had run out of time… and options.
Tuition was due next week.
I had no choice but to beg for the money tonight, or I’d be kicked out of school.
I gripped the cold, wrought iron fence railing and tried to calm my breathing. I reached up to straighten my bangs as I checked to make sure the topknot securing my hair was still in place. Normally, I just threw my hair up in a messy bun with two twists of a scrunchy, but today I had taken the care to smooth it into a tight, elegant bun. I had hoped it would make me look older and studious. The effect was almost worth the headache the tight hair band and bobbypins were giving me. I couldn’t wait for this to be over. The first thing I would do would be to take my hair down.
Giving myself one last inspection, I bent down to wipe a small smudge off the toe of my Doc Marten Mary Janes before straightening my pink plaid skirt.
Hefting my leather backpack onto my shoulder, I swung open the gate. Wincing as it squeaked, I paused, waiting for… I’m not sure what. The sounds of angry dogs barking? A warning gunshot over my head?
Sliding first one foot along the brick-paved walkway, then the other, I forced myself to walk up the short set of stairs.
Rolling my eyes, I sighed. The house would have an imposing glossy black door with a massive brass lion’s head clasping a heavy ring in its jaws for a door knocker. All I was missing was some misty fog and the sound of the Thames lapping at the shore and I’d be in some Dicken’s novel with me playing the part of the poor urchin begging for scraps.
I wasn’t the poor urchin.
Squaring my shoulders, I reminded myself I was the heroine of my story. And like most of Austen’s heroines, this particular heroine desperately needed this man’s money! As Lizzie Bennet said to the arrogant Mr. Darcy: My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.
With more boldness than I felt, I raised my arm to grasp the metal ring. Before I could, the door swung open with such force, a blast of air ruffled my bangs.
With a small cry, I took a step back.
In my vivid imagination, the person seemed more beast than man.
With his legs planted wide, his shaved head barely missed hitting the top of the doorway. The black goatee covering his upper lip and chin only highlighted the sharp planes of his jaw and nose. Beneath his right eye there was some sort of slash mark or scar which gave the already pretty freaking scary-looking man an even more ominous appearance. Naked from the waist up, his muscled chest was covered in brightly colored tattoos. Good Lord! Was that an image of a dagger dripping with blood on his neck?
A grim scowl clouded his features as he stared down at me with cold, stormy eyes.
“I… I… I….” My brain froze. My jaw was too stiff to form any words.
In reality, I knew he had spoken some normal, English-language words, but all I heard emanating from his lips was the deep, threatening growl of a beast. It didn’t help that he had the distinctive guttural purr of a Russian accent.
This man was definitely not Mr. Linus Fitzgerald III elderly son of my former benefactor!
My tongue felt thick and awkward in my mouth. “I’m so sorry. There’s been a mistake.”
My body jerked off-balance as my heel slid out over the edge of the top step in my effort to back slowly away from the angry, bear-like man.
His giant paw snatched me by the upper arm and dragged me over the threshold. I fell against the hard heat of his body.
“There is no mistake, моя крошка. You’re mine for the night.”
The heavy black door swung shut, cutting me off from the safe sounds of civilization.
It was too late.
I was alone with the Russian beast… inside his lair.
Elizabeth's emerald gaze darted over my shoulder to the exit.
My body tensed, ready to pounce.
Her foot slid to the right, as she slowly turned her body in the door's direction.
"I wouldn't if I were you," I warned.
The sudden bark of my voice echoed off the bare brick walls and visibly startled her.
She leaned forward slightly... then my little bird took flight.
Running in an arc, she bolted for the door.
I was too quick for her.
Lunging, I stretched out my arm and caught her around the waist, pulling her struggling body against my chest. Her delicate frame no match for my strength. I could feel each thin bone and soft curve of her body as I pressed it to mine.
So easily breakable.
Elizabeth screeched and clawed at my forearm. "Let me go! Let me go!"
Wrapping another arm securely across her shoulders, I tightened my grasp on her. The pressure against her ribcage stifled her breath and ceased her struggles.
Taking the soft lobe of her ear between my teeth, I bit down. "Never," I growled.
My blood was up. I wanted this fight with her. Needed it.
Releasing my hold, Elizabeth stumbled forward before swinging to face me.
Pushing her damp curls away from her face, she just stared at me with those wild, beautiful eyes of hers. A single tear coursed down her flushed cheek.
I would never get my fill of this woman... of this.
I wanted to swallow her screams and taste her tears. The wicked beast inside of me craved to devour every innocent glimmer of light within her soul till I had filled it with the same shadows as my own. I knew there was darkness inside of her. It called out to me. There was nothing in my life so enthralling or so challenging as drawing it out. Forcing it to the surface to come play my twisted, depraved games.
Backing up a step, keeping her palms defensively before her, she breathed, "It was a mistake to return."
Reaching for my belt, I slowly slipped the long leather strap through the sterling silver buckle as I took a threatening step toward her. "Yes, it was."
What was the point in denying it?
She had angered and betrayed me.
As I told Andrew, life had consequences.
Especially when you dared to fight me over something I wanted to possess.
And I would possess Elizabeth. In time, I would burn away all her defiance until she finally accepted that her fate lay with me... and only me.
Scrambling backward, her chest rose and fell with each quickened breath. I could see the sharp outline of her nipples through her still-damp t-shirt. Closing my eyes for a moment, I imagined her in the shower. Soft, warm water caressing her skin as foamy, iridescent bubbles clung to each curve. My cock swelled and pressed painfully against the zipper of my jeans.
"Richard, I love you, but we have to end this. It's too toxic. It's become too twisted," she pleaded.
I nodded as I pulled my belt free. Running my hand down the long, thick length of leather before folding it in half in my right fist. "The only way you escape me, Elizabeth, is in death. You were mine from the first moment I laid eyes on you. Nothing has or ever will change that."
I took another step toward her. My intent clear.
With a cry of alarm, Elizabeth scanned the wall before grabbing at one of my displayed swords. She chose a rather ominous Russian Cossack saber. Pulling it free of its hardened black leather and gold sheath, she exposed the long, flat, razor-sharpened blade.
Holding the hilt with both of her small hands, she extended the heavy blade in front of her, pointing it at my mid-section.
"Don't come any closer," she warned. Her voice sounded high and thin with a slight warble.
She was afraid.
She should be.
Keeping her gaze locked with mine, I took two deliberate steps in her direction. Wrapping my left hand around the blade, I ignored the harsh sting of pain as its sharp edge sliced into my fingers.
Elizabeth gasped, her cherry lips opening in shock as I placed the point of the blade over my heart.
She tried to back away, but the wall prevented her. Keeping my grasp on the blade, I lifted it higher till the point leveled over my heart. Refusing to take my gaze off her, I let the tip sink into my flesh.
"Oh God," she whimpered.
Releasing the blade, I stood there. Watching as small drops of my own crimson blood trickled down the blade's bright silver edge.
"Do it, Elizabeth. Thrust the blade into my heart."
Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"Richard, please... I can't... don't make m-"
"Do it," I yelled, my harsh intake of breath driving the point in a little deeper. Hissing through my clenched teeth at the pain, I reached past the blade and placed my left hand over her trembling grasp. "Drive it deep into my heart because that's what you will do if you leave me."
This might take my sadistic manipulation to new levels, but I didn't give a damn. I would not go back to my colorless, jaded existence. It was her and her love or nothing for me.
With a cry, she dropped the sword.
Kicking it aside, I pounced.
6/9/2020 10 Comments
"I hate you!"
I did. I truly hated him in that moment. I hated every controlling, manipulative, toxic thing he had done to me. More than that, I hated that I loved him. Despite everything, I still loved the man.
I would never forgive myself for that fact.
Reaching for a crystal decanter, Richard poured himself a glass of brandy, turning toward me as he raised it to his lips. It was still early in the morning, but I had just tried to shoot him less than an hour earlier, so I guess he was entitled to a stiff drink.
Unable to hold back, I let out a primal scream and threw his phone at him.
Richard smoothly ducked out of the way. The iPhone crashed through an antique glass window, sending shards of glass showering down onto his shoulders then the thick, Persian carpet at his feet.
Pointing to the now shattered window, I raged. "The phone proves it. It was all lies. All of it!"
The man had me so turned around I didn't know what was real anymore. If he had told me the sky was purple and unicorns exist, I probably would have believed him.
Somehow he had slowly and methodically taken over my whole life. Everything revolved around him. He had become my sun, the only source of light and energy in my world. Without him, I was certain I would wither and die. I knew this deep in my bones, just as surely as I knew that same light had burned away all that remained of my own identity... had burned away my very soul.
It was true what they say, anything could be poisonous... it just depended on the dose.
Richard was toxic for me, but there was no denying I willingly drank his poison.
But this time he went too far... him and his games. I was done.
Crossing my arms over my chest, I challenged, "Are you going to try and deny it?"
Richard reached into his glass and pulled out a jagged piece of glass. Keeping his cold sapphire eyes on me, he placed it between his lips and licked the amber liquid off its slick sharp surface before tossing it aside.
The man's unassailable arrogance and confidence was maddening.
Was it any wonder I was now mad as a hatter?
Was it any wonder I just tried to kill him?
Careful to keep the desk and two heavy upholstered chairs between us, I frenetically paced the length of the room, forced to grab fistfuls of fabric and lift my skirts high as I did so. Having no other choice, I was wearing one of the Victorian gowns Richard had provided. With no petticoat, my heavy skirts dragged on the floor; that this dress was one of my own creations just rankled me more. I remember loving how the cobalt blue taffeta matched his eyes.
All of this. The dress. The estate. The servants. Me.
We were all just pawns on a board. Players in a game only he knew the rules.
To think he almost had me believing his lies! If it hadn't been for his disdain for modern technology, I might never have come across his phone, abandoned and silent, in his desk drawer. Proof the modern world, which had haunted my dreams, existed.
It was then I also found the revolver.
I may never know if I missed on purpose or accidentally. Yet, I did know, the second before I pulled the trigger, I wanted him dead with every fiber of my being.
How I felt the moment after?
When the bullet left the chamber?
That I couldn't say, and yes, I hated myself for it.
Gripping the back of the chair, my nails dug into the paisley tapestry as I bravely met his hard gaze. "Say something."
One sharp eyebrow raised. The only hint of emotion on his chiseled, handsome face. His voice was deceptively casual as he asked, "Does this mean our little game is over?"
My mouth fell open in shock at his cavalier attitude.
Once more he brought the brandy glass close to his lips, then paused to muse, "I wonder who won?" Taking a sip, he then smirked. "Me, of course."
Claws bared; I flew at him.
Richard threw his glass aside and latched on to my wrists before they could scratch long red marks down his perfect cheeks.
"It's over! Over! We're done!" I screeched as I struggled in his grasp. My cumbersome skirts tangled between my legs.
Spearing his fingers into my long, loose hair, he twisted, securing a handful in his tight fist. Wrenching my head back, he leaned over me to threaten. "It's over when I say it's over."
Swallowing back a sickening rush of nausea as my stomach twisted in knots, I marshaled my courage and choked out through clenched teeth, "I'm leaving you, Richard, for good this time."
Every limb in my body went cold at my own pronouncement. I had willingly killed the sun in my universe and now felt a creeping, clawing chill run over my body, as if all my warm blood, all the passion and desire he had brought to my life, had drained away.
His eyes harden as his large hand enclosed around my exposed throat. Like a rabbit caught in a snare, I stilled, my eyes wide with fright. The only sound in the room was the incessant ticking of the mantel clock and the sound of his harsh breathing. The minutes, or were they seconds, dragged on.
My eyes closed as his fingers squeezed. Welcoming death at his hands, my last macabre thought was how warm his fingers felt wrapped around my throat.
His lips crashed down on mine. Whimpering, I willingly opened my mouth for his assault. Taking possession, his tongue swept in. He tasted of blood and brandy. Releasing his grip on my throat and hair, his hands tore at my dress as he pressed me backwards. The edge of the desk dug into my hips before he lifted me high and placed me on its smooth mahogany surface. Wrenching my knees open, he stepped between them, his hands fisting the yards of skirt fabric in his frenzied effort to touch the skin of my inner thighs and higher.
Giving in to the power of his embrace, my fingers dug into his hair as I pulled him closer, wanting to feel the rough scrape of his stubbled jaw against my lips, needing to feel the hard press of him between my thighs. Craving his touch like an addict who needs a fix of the very poison they knew was slowly killing them.
My mouth opened on a plaintive keen as he ruthlessly pushed two fingers into my already aroused body.
"You're mine, my little bird. There is no escape," he roughly whispered against the curve of my ear before sinking his teeth into the soft lobe.
Unwanted reality crashed down on me. Damn me to hell for my sins, it was true I desperately longed to return to a time where I believed his lies, where I was a willing participant in his games. Where I allowed him to dominate my actions and very thoughts, but I couldn't. It was as if he had placed me, his prized possession, in a glass display case high on a pedestal, and the awful truth had shattered the case into a million pieces. There was no going back.
Once more, I struggled in his embrace. This time he shocked me by letting go and taking a few steps back. Running a hand over his tousled hair, he picked up his glass and spilled another two fingers of brandy into it before draining the contents. Swiping the back of his hand over his mouth, as if to erase the taste of our final kiss, his hands clenched into fists as he turned on his heel and approached me.
Crying out, I raised my arms protectively, as I turned my head to the side.
Richard stormed past me.
Confused, I gathered my skirts into my hands and scrambled off the top of the desk. Keeping my eyes on him, I slowly backed away toward the door. Frantically scanning the room, I snatched up an ornate, old-looking letter opener which was displayed on a nearby bookshelf.
Richard's mouth curved up in one corner. "A gun didn't stop me, my love. Do you really think a dull letter opener would prevent me from fucking you right here, right now, if I wanted to?"
I knew what I must look like in that moment. My tangled curls a wild mess around my shoulders and down my back. My dress half hanging off my body and dragging on the floor as I clutched a tarnished make-shift knife to my breast. My gaze, wide with fright, shifting from left to right as I tried to anticipate his next pounce.
I looked as crazy as I felt... as crazy as he had made me.
Richard reached for the brass, candlestick phone on his desk. Lifting the trumpet shaped receiver to his ear, he pressed down on the switch hook a few times before speaking into the mouth receiver. I knew that phone connected to the Butler's pantry in the servant's quarters.
Keeping his dark sapphire eyes trained on me, he said, "Good morning, Hutley. Please have the driver bring round the car. Ms. Larkin wishes to be taken to her home in London," instructed Richard calmly, as if he were ordering extra toast with his breakfast tray.
Just like that? He was going to let me go? It didn't seem possible, not after the lengths he went to entrap me.
Neither of us said a word, just stared into the void between us.
Then, we heard the crunch of gravel as the car pulled up to the entrance, which was just outside to the right of the study.
Glancing over my shoulder, I backed up to the door, reaching behind me for the knob as I tried to keep my wary gaze trained on Richard, somehow feeling this was a test, a trap that was going to snap closed on me the moment I crossed over the threshold.
Placing his hands in his pockets, as if trying to appear nonchalant and unthreatening, Richard slowly followed me out of the study and into the large entrance hall.
Keeping my eyes trained on Richard and one arm stretched behind me, I stumbled my way to the front double doors. Two footman appeared out of nowhere to swing the heavy wooden doors open. Neither expressed the slightest shock at seeing their master stalk a half-dressed woman brandishing a letter opener like a weapon out of the house, although after what they had witnessed and been paid to ignore these last few months, it was small wonder.
The driver held the back passenger side door open. Refusing to drop the letter opener, I climbed awkwardly into the spacious backseat. The car door slammed shut. Then the driver hustled around to the right side and climbed in. The engine roared to life as the car pulled out of the drive.
Twisting around, I looked through the back window to see puffs of dust and little bits of gravel kicked up by the tires scatter over Richard's polished knee-high riding boots.
The aristocratic Duke of Winterbourne stood unnaturally still as the car took me further and further away from him.
I was finally free.
Waiting till I could no longer see her pale, gamine face through the back window of the car, I crossed over to the bushes just below the study windows and retrieved my phone. Dusting off the bits of dirt and shattered glass, thankful the screen had not cracked, I brought up the contact I sought and pressed send.
Without preamble, I spoke the moment the phone was answered. "She's heading your way. I don't have to remind you what is at stake if you don't obey me." Without waiting for a reply, knowing my point was made, I hung up.
Time for a new game
We stopped in front of an old iron gate which secured a small, walled in private garden.
Looking around, I spied half a brick which was probably used to prop open the back door of a business across the way. Taking it in hand, it only took two strikes of the rock, to dislodge the small, ineffective padlock.
“Richard! This is breaking and entering!” exclaimed Elizabeth.
“I don’t give a f*ck.” Growling my answer, I shoved her against the brick wall just inside the garden.
The stone cut into my palms as I caged her in. Before she could say another word, my mouth descended.
Finally claiming her for my own.
Leaning my hips in, I pressed my c*ck against her stomach as my tongue pushed between her teeth. She tasted of honey and champagne.
I was bruising her lips. I knew soon I would taste blood as the pressure of my mouth cut against the sharp edge of her teeth but I didn’t care.
I wanted her to feel pain from my kiss.
Wanted her to feel everything, including the threat of my c*ck.
Her small hands dug into the lapels of my jacket. Whether it was to draw me closer or push me away, didn’t matter. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Seizing her wrists, I pulled them high over her head and secured them with only the grip of my left hand. She was so small and delicate, like a little bird.
One I would soon cage so only I could hear the beautiful song of her moans and pleas.
Turning her head to the side, her breath came in ragged gasps. “Richard, wait!”
I claimed her mouth once more.
F*ck. I would never get enough of this woman.
It had become essential to my sanity that I possess her, everything about her - mind, body and soul - from the first moment I saw her in the park two weeks ago.
She had ruined my careful plans by almost getting hit by that cab today but no matter. The time for making plans was over. From this point forward, there was nothing but action… and her delicious response.
Using her trapped position, pinned against the wall, I kicked her feet wider while swallowing her cry of alarm.
Wrenching her dress up over her *ss, I once more pressed my hips into her pliant body, knowing the stone wall would scrape and bruise her soft flesh. The thought of one day soon putting a mark on that same gorgeous *ss with my belt or hand sent another rush of blood to my c*ck till it swelled painfully tight and hard.
I needed to be inside her, but that would have to wait.
Placing the heel of my palm between her legs, I pressed hard.
“Do you like that?” I breathed against her open mouth. “You like the feel of my hand on your p*ssy?”
I forced one finger inside her wet heat. Christ, she was tight.
Elizabeth cried out.
Pulling my hand free, I reached inside my jacket pocket and pulled out her panties. Releasing her wrists, I placed them in her palm.
Elizabeth stared at me with desire clouding eyes.
“Put these in your mouth.”
“You heard me. I want you to shove your own panties into your mouth.”
With large, trusting eyes, she carefully raised her hand to her mouth and started to push the black lace fabric between her lips.
It wasn’t that I wouldn’t have enjoyed forcing her mouth open and pushing them deep inside her throat till she choked and pleaded with me with her eyes but this was how the game was played. She needed to be an active player in her own humiliation. Her own inevitable debauchery. Otherwise, it wasn’t really a game. It was just me using brute force. No, it was much more satisfying and challenging when you made them choose to be debased.
Her mouth now gaped obscenely, stuffed with her own arousal slick panties.
Returning my hand to her p*ssy, I shoved one thick finger in deep.
Elizabeth’s muffled cry burst free as she lurched up onto her toes to try to avoid the pleasure and pain of my sudden intrusion.
It was about to get far worse for her.
I put a second finger at her entrance and thrust in deep.
Her head began to swing from side to side.
My mouth slid along the column of her neck, tasting her rapid pulse. I moved to lick the small hollow where her neck met her collar bone just as I forced a third finger inside her tight, little body. My tongue lapped and sucked each delicious vibration from her scream.
With tears in her eyes, she started to plead with me, forgetting that the panties in her mouth distorted everything she tried to say. When she reached to remove them, I grabbed her wrist and once more pulled her arms up over her head.
“If you move your arms again, I’m going to bend you over that bench there and thrash you with my belt, do you understand?”
Tears fell from her eyes as she nodded.
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My life's… complicated.
You know that feeling you’d get when you’d start to run down a steep hill?
As you ran faster, there was this single moment… just a moment… of pure joy.
You would stretch your arms out wide as you embraced the sensation that you were almost flying. You believed, truly believed, if you ran just a little bit faster, if you allowed yourself to dare just a little bit more… maybe you would actually fly. Maybe your toes would lift off the ground and you would touch the sky.
So, you dared
You ran faster.
You swore you could no longer feel the ground beneath your feet.
All you could see was the bright, beckoning azure sky.
And then it happened… you glanced down, back to reality.
It was just the barest of seconds, but it was enough.
Suddenly you realized, you weren’t flying.
You were falling.
I could feel Richard’s even breathing against the sensitive skin along my neck. His chest hair tickled my bare shoulder as I laid within the circle of his arms.
A lover’s embrace.
Except we weren’t lovers.
I didn’t know what we were, but this wasn’t love. It couldn’t be.
His arm wrapped possessively around my waist controlled as much as it protected. There was nothing in my life which Richard did not reign over; how I dressed, what I ate, where I went, who I talked too. But really, those were just artificial things. His control went much deeper. My thoughts were no longer my own; my desires, my wishes, my dreams.
All were of Richard.
All were focused on pleasing him.
I could feel the final vestiges of my soul slipping away.
Every day a little death.
Every time he bent me over a table, or forced my legs open wide, or commanded me to fall to my knees and open my mouth… the person I once was died a little, only to be reborn as his ideal fantasy woman.
I was Richard’s living doll, to be played with or punished at his will. Soon there would be nothing left of the person I once was, nothing left of my former life. It would all be a distant, fragmented memory.
My life could be divided into two distinct phases, the time before Richard and after. The time before was already a hazy blur of faces, mundane routines and the basic motions of life.
After… was everything.
After was blindingly clear. Full of bright colors, intense emotions, pleasures and pain. After, was living a life so extreme you feel the heat of the flame as it gets fed by your own desires. It unfurls and stretches towards the sky, burning hotter and brighter. Soon it will consume you… and you don’t care.
Richard had become as much my obsession as I was his.
An unholy fusing of two damaged souls.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this… it had all started out so innocently, with a chance encounter and a stolen kiss. Even now, I wondered how I could have been so naive? As if Richard ever left anything up to chance. He had planned this… every moment of our mutual destruction, from the very beginning.
These violent delights have violent ends and, in their triumph, die like fire and powder which as they kiss consume.
If ever there was a quote to fit this fucked up, twisted obsession we had for one another, that was it. Except we couldn’t claim the innocent infatuation of Romeo and Juliet. No, this was something far darker and more all-consuming. We did have one thing in common with Romeo and Juliet—this would end violently. There was no other way.
An obsession this extreme does not just fade away. We were not the type of couple to randomly have an argument over frozen pizza and then split up, only talking again to exchange small boxes of meaningless trifles like toothbrushes and unread books. That was what happened to normal couples. There was nothing normal about our relationship.
Pain, punishment, and manipulation - all to chase the high of an ever more intense, ever more consuming pleasure. We had each drawn blood in the frenzy of our own desires and yet instead of it becoming a sobering talisman it only spurred us on more.
Where would it end? In madness or death, I had no doubt. I was already half mad myself.
I could no longer tell what was real and what was part of our game. If I didn’t do something soon, to save both of us, we would be lost. Yet I knew, deep in my bones, Richard would never let me go, never allow me to simply walk away. If I were honest with myself, I didn’t think I could now if I tried. I was bound to him with chains of my own making.
These violent delights have violent ends…
Shifting my body slightly away from his oppressive warmth, I reached under my pillow, moving my fingers beneath the silk till they touched cold metal.
At that moment, Richard’s arm tightened, his fingers stretched out over the narrow curve of my waist, pressing deep into my skin. I choked on a frightened gasp. The sickening taste of blood trickled into my mouth as I bit down on my bottom lip to keep from crying out. My heart hammered in my ears, as I my body became rigid in an effort to stop my limbs from trembling.
My eyes closed as I braced for his rage at my betrayal.
Holding my breath so long I felt dizzy, the rush of adrenaline made my stomach cramp. Still, I waited in the darkness.
An eternity later, his fingers once more relaxed, resting heavily on my hip.
Willing myself to move, I carefully shifted to the side. My overheated bare skin sliding easily along the silk sheets.
I placed one foot on the hardwood floor and paused, listening for the even sounds of his breathing. I then swung my other foot over the edge and crouched by the bed. For a brief moment, I thought of covering my nakedness with my discarded nightgown, whose champagne satin shown bright in the moonlight. I abandoned the idea when I remembered how Richard had torn the delicate garment from my body only hours earlier. Its tattered remains would provide no protection for me now.
My eyes adjusted to the dim light as I scanned the bedroom, before my gaze rested on Richard.
Even in sleep, he looked intimidating. Nothing could soften the harsh angles of his jaw and sharp cheekbones or the heavy slope of his brow. He had the handsome looks and charm of the devil himself, with the same moral code. Half expecting to see his piercing blue eyes trained on me in anger, I let the breath I had been holding escape through my lips when I observed him still sleeping.
Refusing to take my gaze off him, I wrapped my stiff fingers around the smooth wooden handle of the gun, stifling a hiss as it pressed against the cut on my palm, and slowly pulled it free from under my pillow.
The Smith & Wesson .38 Special was heavier than I thought it would be. I’d never really held a gun before but for some strange reason I didn’t think it would feel so heavy. Its polished metal looked dark and sinister against the pale skin of my hand.
Tremors racked my body as I willed myself to take one step, then another, away from the bed.
This was it. There was no turning back.
Circling around, I turned to once more face his sleeping form.
Except he wasn’t sleeping anymore.
Those dark, intense eyes were trained on me.
My mouth opened on a silent scream as my stomach twisted in stark, terrorizing fear.
Had he been awake the whole time?
Had he found the gun earlier and guessed my plan?
Was this just another one of his games?
He the puppet master and me the helpless doll, dancing with every pull of my strings.
Was I once again a helpless player in a sick, macabre fantasy of his choosing?
This game… his game… our game… had gone too far.
It needed to end.
These violent delights have violent ends…
Desperately trying not to drop it, I switched the gun to my right hand and raised it chest high. It felt as if the blood had drained from my body. A chill crept over my skin as I watched him, feeling like trapped prey just waiting for its predator’s pounce.
Without saying a word, Richard kept his eyes trained on me as he carefully rose from the bed. I watched in horrified fascination as the sheet slid across his muscled abdomen only to drop away, exposing his thick hard shaft, unmistakable evidence the arrogantly confident man who stood before me wasn’t the least bit cowed by the sight of the gun.
He knew all along. I was now sure of it. My secret deadly plan had never been a secret from him. My heart felt heavy as I realized there wasn’t a corner of my mind he didn’t know intimately. He saw me too completely, knew me too well.
Stretching his arm out, he said calmly, “Give me the gun, Elizabeth.”
Hating myself for it, I took a hesitant step backward as I shook my head no.
“Baby, you don’t want to do this.”
My vision blurred as hot tears filled my eyes. My voice warbled as I whispered, “I have no choice.”
Not giving a damn about his nakedness, Richard took a determined step toward me.
“Stop! Please, don’t come any closer,” I cried out desperately. I could now taste my own salty tears as they slid down my cheeks and over my lips.
“Trust me, Elizabeth. You don’t want to start this game with me,” he growled in warning as he took another menacing step in my direction.
Once more I backed up, I could feel the plush edge of the chaise press against the back of my knees. The gun began to shake as my arms tired. I tried to steady it with my other hand. “I never wanted this game! Any of this!”
“Liar,” he snapped back. “You needed this, us, as much as I. Your soul is just as dark and twisted as my own. Don’t insult us both by pretending otherwise. Stop playing the innocent. It doesn’t suit you.” As always, his hard voice reverberated with calm authority.
Raising my hands up to cover my ears, the cold metal of the gun pressed against my hot cheek as I tried to block out the truth of his words. “No! I don’t believe you! You forced me to play this game!”
His hands curled into fists. “Forced you?” He bit out through clenched teeth. “Did I force those moans of pleasure that slipped past your lips earlier? Did I force you to wrap your legs around my shoulders drawing my mouth closer to your heat? Tell me. Was it I who forced you to scream ‘harder make it hurt’ tonight?”
My whole body shook with the impact of his words. I began to plead with him. “Stop! Please, stop! Can’t you see we have to end this? It’s too much! Too toxic. Too dangerous for us both. You have to let me go!” I screamed as I once more trained the gun on him.
His obsidian eyes shone with dark fire. His jaw clenched so hard there was a small throbbing tick on his upper right cheek. I watched him fight to maintain control, knowing how badly he wanted to just rip the gun from my hand and teach me a brutal lesson at the end of his leather belt for even daring to threaten him like this.
The silence shredded my nerves.
Would he let me go?
A traitorous voice in my head asked, do you truly want him to?
“Never,” he finally ground out. “You’re mine. Mine in life. Mine even in death. You will never be free of me, Elizabeth. I own you; mind, body and soul and I will never give you up.”
He took another step toward me. Our naked bodies now so close, I could feel the angry heat radiating off him.
Lifting the gun with a determination I didn’t feel, I pulled back the hammer.
“That’s where you’re wrong, Richard.” My voice sounding high and unnatural to my strained ears. The keen edge of desperation gave me false courage.
His eyes narrowed. For the first time, he looked down at the gun in my hand before returning his intense glare to mine. “You better shoot to kill, because when I get my hands on you, there… will… be… no… mercy.”
His words were slow and methodical. Like with everything else, he wanted to make sure I felt the painful impact of every syllable.
Trapped by his gaze, I couldn’t move.
Then, peeking through a small slit in the closed curtains, a delicate shaft of golden light stretched between us. Dawn was approaching.
A new day.
A new little death.
The high-pitched light tone of a nightingale pierced the silence. A bird who symbolized love… and freedom.
He was right. He would show me no mercy. This was the only way. My right finger began to curl.
Richard’s eyes widened. I watched as the sharply defined muscles in his chest and abdomen tensed then shifted as his toned body pushed forward in a lunge.
He was too late.
I closed my eyes and pulled the trigger.
The roar of the gun drowned out the nightingale’s soft song.
As I said, my life’s complicated.
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The feel of her soft breast being crushed in my hand while she pushed her ass against my cock, grinding down on the hand which worked her sweet cunt was the only encouragement I needed to know my new plan was truly best for her… and for us.
“Now I want you to be a good girl and get up on the chair.”
“Am I being punished for running?”
“Yes. That was an extremely foolish and dangerous thing for you to do, my love. More dangerous than you realize,” I warned.
She whimpered. “Are you going to hurt me?”
“Yes.” There was no point in denying it. She would learn soon enough.
Her small body trembled within my grasp.
Her next question was barely above a whisper. “Are you going to kill me?”
Turning her in my arms, I brushed a soft curl from off her shoulder and ran the back of my knuckles over her cheek till I could brush her full lower lip with the pad of my thumb. Focusing on that lush mouth and how I would soon be pounding my cock into it without mercy, I said, “Only if you disobey me again.”
Her knees buckled.
Grasping her around the shoulders and slipping my arm under her knees, I lifted her slight weight onto the upper tier of the siege d’amour chair. Lifting her arms high, I secured them over her head into the brass wrist shackles. Ignoring her murmured pleas and apologies for escaping, I placed one ankle then the other in the stirrups before locking the brass ankle plates in place.
Reaching between her legs and under the cushion, I turned a small hidden crank. The stirrups slowly slid out to the sides on well-greased hinges. I didn’t stop till her legs were spread obscenely wide with her beautiful ass hanging just over the edge of the cushion, vulnerable to my ministrations.
Her prone body was now completely restrained. This really was a marvelous invention of Bertie’s. It had countless options for restraining not one but two females at once into some extremely painful yet pleasurable positions. Once I stood on the lower tier and placed my feet in the brass fixtures, after grasping the handles on either side of her head, I would be at the perfect angle to inflict the most pounding pressure as I thrust into her cunt or ass.
But that was for later… much later.
For now, I had to make my little caged bird forget she ever knew how to fly.
Walking over to a silver tray brought in per my explicit instructions, I removed the silver cloche from the platter, and picked up the largest piece of fresh ginger root on offer. Selecting a sharp paring knife, a began to circle around Elizabeth’s body secured to the chair as I shaved and shaped the root.
Taking on the instructive tone of a parent about to discipline a child, I reminded Elizabeth. “This is the direct consequence of your own foolish actions. I need you to remember that, my love. How you are treated will depend on how you behave. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Richard,” she answered obediently as her wide emerald eyes stared at each movement of the knife in my hand.
“This particular punishment was used on female slaves in Ancient Greece when they were also foolish enough to defy their masters.”
Flick. Flick. Flick.
Slowly the small hard nubs and rough outer skin was shaved away to show the stiff, yellow fibrous ginger.
“It is designed to inflict maximum pain and discomfort without marring their… property.”
To her credit, she remained silent, save for the rapid rise and fall of her chest with her anxious breathing. She looked like a rabbit caught in an open field by an angry beast, desperately hoping if they stayed still for long enough the beast would lose interest and move on. It rarely worked out that way for the little rabbit.
“It is called figging. It’s also called gingering the tail and is used to make horses carry their tail high and to encourage movement.”
Flick. Flick. Flick.
The piece of ginger was now twice the thickness of my thumb and about three inches long. An intense size for her first figging but then again, I had promised myself to no longer be lenient. It was for her own good.
“Are you sensing a theme, my dear? Punishment. Obedience. Responsive. Movement.”
Elizabeth wet her lips. “Please, Richard. I don’t need to be punished. I promise I’ll be good from now on.”
I placed the wet tip of the ginger root against her lower lip and rubbed it around her mouth. “You’re wrong. You do need this punishment.”
The tip of her small pink tongue traced the path of the ginger root. I watched as a spark of fear shown in her eyes from the slight sting its juices left on her tongue. I stepped away to replace the knife on the tray. I wanted to give her imagination a moment to think of where I would probably be placing the ginger. In any punishment, the imagination was as important a tool as a leather strap or restraints. In fact, I would argue even more important. In many cases, I could never inflict the type of pain she was currently spinning over in her little head, as bad as the pain I was about to inflict would be.
Returning to the chair, I stepped between her open thighs. The chairs upper tier placed her body perfectly at my waist. She whimpered and tried in vain to close her knees but the stirrups kept her legs spread too far open.
Taking the tip of the ginger root, I pushed it between the folds of her cunt. Taking a moment, I circled her clit a few times before apply just the slightest pressure against her entrance. Her body tensed as she held her breath. Again, I paused for her imagination to play. I then continued to her puckered back entrance. Using my one hand, I pushed her cheeks open a little wider to expose the dark pink hole with its tiny valley of ridges and peaks.
Adjusting my grip on the root, I pressed the tip against her hole and pushed.
Elizabeth tried to shimmy her hips back and away from my touch but the restraints prevented her.
I pushed harder, watching the yellow, fibrous cylinder slide into her resisting hole.
I could hear her gasp then still, holding her breath. Bracing for the pain. After a moment, she began to relax. I smiled. My poor pet didn’t realize it would take a moment for the ginger’s full effect to hit.
With anticipation, I stood between her open thighs and watched… and waited. I wanted to observe the very moment her body began to react.
I didn’t have to wait long.
Her fingers clenched into fists as her feet began to shift and pull in the stirrups with the movement of her hips.
“Oh god. It’s starting to burn!” she exclaimed.
I had cut a deep ridge at the base of the root, to form a plug, so she would be unable to push the ginger root out. Now I watched her anus, tremble and twitch as she tried to do just that. The pink skin began to glisten as some of the ginger juice was pushed out.
As the burn intensified her cheeks and chest began to flush as her eyes glazed over.
“Please! Make it stop!”
Moving over to the table. I picked up a well-oiled leather strap. It was actually an authentic Victorian era Army Hospital Corp leather belt. Authenticity was so important with such things. The heavy brown leather had carefully been maintained over the years with oil and use, so it remained as supple and flexible as it was back in 1884. I particularly liked the circular interlocking buckle with the Queen’s crown on it.
Stretching the belt between my two fists, I once more approached Elizabeth. By now her cheeks were flushed an angry red as her body writhed on the chair.
“Ow! It’s burning! It’s burning!”
The harsh ginger juice within the delicate, unprotected skin of her anus would feel like acid on a wound. And it was only about to get worse.
Standing to the side of the chair, I let the length of the strap fall over her stomach. I wanted her to see its width, to feel its weight. Again, I was using her own mind against her.
“It’s time, my love.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “No! No! Please, Richard!” Her voice was shrill as she begged.
Reaching over, I stroked her hair. The elegant chignon had already come loose. It now hung in wild disarray on her shoulders with a stray curl sticking to the tears on her cheeks. Using my finger, I pushed the curl away and stroked her warm cheek. “I want you to scream as loud as you want, my love. No one who hears would dare come through that door to rescue you.”
Stepping back with my right foot, I raised the belt high.
Elizabeth began to scream before it even struck her flesh.
The first time the strap caught her across her smooth, flat belly. The next I aimed at her pert nipples. I loved the sound of the leather as it hit her skin. Over and over again. Her nipples darkened and swelled. Small welts caused by the edge of the belt began to appear on the soft curve of her tits. I also knew that with each strike her body would involuntarily tense her anus muscles, adding to her agonizing pain as they squeezed the ginger root, allowing for more juice to trickle onto her already sore and inflamed inner flesh.
She began to choke on her own cries as they tumbled in a mad rush to escape her mouth. Her body jumped and jolted as if hit with a bolt of electric current with each kiss of the belt.
“Please stop! It hurts! I can’t take it anymore.”
Allowing myself a small bit of pity and unwilling to belt her tits to the point of breaking the skin, I stepped to the space just outside her open legs.
Elizabeth’s tear-filled eyes widened as she realized my intent. “No! No! Please! At least give me some laudanum so I can withstand the pain.”
I could understand why she was begging for laudanum. Its euphoric effect would take the edge of the pain while allowing her body to find the pleasure behind it that much sooner. It is probably why it was so popular in the Victorian era and why I was happy to add it to her training but not today. “Laudanum is for good girls.”
Raising my arm, I brought it ruthlessly down on her exposed cunt.
Elizabeth screamed so long and hard, I genuinely thought she might pass out and I would have to revive her to continue the punishment.
In later punishments, I would force open her folds so I could be sure to strike that small bundle of nerves into swollen submission but for now, I would be content with pussy whipping her with the belt, knowing with each strike her asshole would be that much more on fire.
After several minutes, I withdrew the ginger root. Elizabeth sagged in relief. I knew it would continue to burn for at least another half an hour but not as intensely, which was why I was preparing a fresh one.
Allowing her to catch her breath, I picked up the knife and scraped the skin off a second piece. From her rapid breathing permeating the silent room, I could tell the pain was beginning to build. Up to this point she had been reacting to the direct sting of both the belt and the ginger but the waves of prickling heat were taking over as the blood began to rise to the surface. Each place that was touched by the belt would begin to feel swollen and bruised as her own heartbeat would pound in her ears with each pulse of pain.
It would be absolute agony if I were to repeat the punishment all over again… so that was exactly what I did.
But first, I needed to give her a little pleasure. I wasn’t inflicting pain for pain’s sake. I was using it as a tool of submission and pleasure. Leaning over her stomach, I inhaled the spicy scent of her sweat mixed with ginger. Moving downwards, I pressed the tip of my tongue between her folds and began to play with her clit, swirling to the left then the right.
“Don’t! Don’t do this to me. Don’t make me cum while I feel this pain. It’s wrong! Please!” she begged.
Ignoring her pleas, I used my tongue and fingers to bring her to tortured release against her will. After her breathing started to slow, I knew it was time to insert the second piece of ginger.
Time for more pain, I thought as I picked up my belt.
By the time I removed the second piece, Elizabeth was nonsensical from the torment.
I knew it was only temporary. I would have to take her to this level of pain every day for the foreseeable future before she truly broke and submitted. Before I had truly clipped her wings.
From this point forward, she would suffer through daily instructions from me.
Still, looking at her pale skin, covered in mottled red marks and the bright sheen of sweat, I felt my own traitorous feelings of love rising to the surface. If I couldn’t comfort her, at least I could experience some of her pain.
Removing my clothes, I stepped between her thighs.
Fisting my cock, I placed the tip at the puckered entrance of her asshole. I hissed through my teeth as the ginger juice touched the sensitive head of my shaft. In fucking her raw, I would inflict even more pain which soothed my guilt but at the same time, I would also share with her that pleasurable dark sting.
Taking a deep breath, I forced my cock into her tight hole in one thrust to the hilt.
Her screams mixed with my growls as the ginger juice now tortured us both.
How deep does a grave have to be?
Wasn’t there something about animals?
Chloe gripped the small heart charm which hung about her neck, taking solace as the metal warmed beneath her hand. The blue-white beam of her flashlight bounced off dark tree trunks and the thick bed of wet leaves and twigs which covered the ground.
Would the rain make digging easier or harder she wondered?
The sound of crunching gravel alerted her to a car traveling up the long driveway even before she saw the headlights. Turning off her flashlight, she ran back towards the cabin, tripping over a half-buried log in her haste. Throwing open the rough wooden gate that separated the forest from the clearing, she raced across the yard, ignoring the ice cold water that seeped into her sneakers as her feet sank into the rain-soaked grass. Cringing at the loud squeak the back screen door made as she carefully opened it, Chloe crouched low as she crossed the study into the kitchen. Keeping her head down, she reached up and turned off the small lamp she always kept lit on her kitchen table. Without the soft warm glow, the cabin felt cold and still.
Chloe held her breath, straining to hear the sound of any movement outside. A car door. The sound of an engine turning off. If there was a god, the sound of gravel as the car turned around and left.
The anxiety of not knowing was too much. Chloe crawled across the linoleum, around the kitchen island. She paused and listened.
Trying to calm her pounding heart, she crept closer to the front door. Her knees ached from crawling on the hard floor. Her damp jeans chafed and clung to her hips with every movement. She could feel mud squishing between her toes inside her sneakers. All she wanted was to take a hot shower and forget this night ever happened. But that wasn’t possible…she could never wash away the horror of this night.
Grimacing as small pebbles, tracked inside from the driveway, cut into the palms of her hands, Chloe slowly crept into the mud room. The front door was straight ahead. It had an open window pane, so she kept low and to the shadows. Just beyond was the small porch and the gravel drive. Leaning against the wall to the right of the door, Chloe tilted her head and listened.
Her heartbeat finally slowed.
It must have been a neighbor driving by.
“Chloe. Open the door.”
Throwing her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream, Chloe scurried farther back along the wall, staring at the closed door with wild eyes.
There was another long, excruciating pause.
“I know you are in there. I need you to open the door.”
The dark command of his voice almost had her obeying. How did he know her name? Who was he? The police? She would have welcomed the police. An hour ago. But not now. Now it was too late. Maybe he was a friend of his. Just another reason why she couldn’t open the door. The cabin was dark. The doors locked. Her car was parked in the garage with the door closed. There was no real way for him to know she was inside. Maybe if she stayed quiet, he would give up and leave?
“Baby, I’m losing my patience. Trust me. You don’t want that.”
The deep tone of the stranger’s voice was getting harsher. Did she dare continue to defy him?
She moved her hand over the low shelf that ran along the wall at her back, encountering bug candles, rubber boots, and fishing tackle. Nothing that could be used as a weapon. There were her late uncle’s hunting rifles in the gun cabinet in the living room, but she would have to crawl back through the kitchen. The cabin was dark, but there was no way he would not see the outline of her movements through the front door window now that he was standing just on the other side. The door wasn’t even secured with a deadbolt, just a simple key lock. She lived in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere in upstate Michigan where all the neighbors knew one another. There wasn’t a need for extraneous locks and deadbolts.
“I’m giving you one last chance to open this door, babygirl,” the stranger growled.
Chloe knew the old door with its old lock would not hold. She needed to make a decision.
The door handle rattled violently.
She was out of time.
Rising up, Chloe bolted back through the kitchen.
The sickening sound of splintering wood and shattering glass reverberated throughout the cabin.
Chloe’s wet soles skidded along the floor as she sharply turned right down the narrow hallway to the living room. The gun cabinet was just over the threshold. Her trembling hand closed over the brass handle. The guns weren’t loaded, but hopefully the stranger wouldn’t get close enough to notice. Wrenching the handle upwards, Chloe threw open the cabinet door and blindly reached in, feeling for the cold barrel of the rifle she knew was there.
A hand closed over her shoulder, spinning her about and slamming her against the wall. She had no chance to even scream. That same hand wrapped around her throat, the long fingers easily encircling the slender column till her jaw was pushed upwards, her head crushed painfully against the wall.
The sharp angles of the stranger’s face came into focus. His angry, lowered brow. Dark, unreadable eyes.
His full lips lifted in a sneer. “I warned you, baby.”
Chloe tried to rise up on her toes to ease the pressure on her throat. Desperately, she clawed at the man’s t-shirt. A garbled scream escaped her lips.
“Shhh…all that will do is piss me off more than I already am, and we don’t want that do we?” He’d leaned in close to whisper the ominous threat, his lips skimming along her jaw. The scrape of his stubble rubbed against the soft skin of her cheek.
She tried to shake her head no, but his grip on her throat would not allow it.
He spread his legs wide before leaning his hips forward, pressing into her body. He was a large beast of a man. Both his size and voice were frightening…intimidating.
He ran the back of his knuckles down her cheek. “Now, you are going to be a good girl and obey me.”
Chloe tried to convey her willingness with her eyes.
He seemed to understand because he released his grip on her throat, but he shifted his hips as if to remind her he still held a portion of her body prisoner. As if she needed reminding.
With a warning look in her direction, he flicked on the switch by her shoulder.
Chloe blinked as the room flooded with light. The moment her eyes adjusted, she caught her first real look at the stranger who had forced his way into her cabin. If he had not been holding her against the wall, her knees would have given out in sheer fright. Jesus Christ! The man looked like the type of prison thug you only saw in the movies…or mug shots on the news. Impossibly tall, his chest and arms were thick with muscle. He had a neck tattoo. A goddamn neck tattoo. Piercing blue eyes watched her with amusement.
“You like what you see, babygirl?”
Oh god, thought Chloe. She had survived one horror this night only to be raped and murdered by this man.
Maybe it was what she deserved.
He ran a finger over her collarbone and then traced the V-neck edge of her pink t-shirt.
Chloe bit her lip to keep from crying out. Her fists were clenched so hard, her palms hurt from where her fingernails bit into them.
Still he taunted her. His finger slowly ran up and down the edge of her neckline, till it dipped into the low vee. Hooking his finger into the flimsy, damp fabric, he pulled it towards him.
Chloe cried out in alarm and started to defensively raise her arms.
“Don’t,” he ordered.
She had no choice but to lower her limbs helplessly to her sides.
Her t-shirt gaped open, exposing her to his intense gaze.
Chloe closed her eyes in mortification. The generous top curves of her breasts encased in delicate white lace were clearly on display. Embroidered onto the bra, right in the center, nestled in her cleavage was a small pink design.
The stranger raised one dark eyebrow. “Hello Kitty?”
Chloe slowly nodded her head yes.
“Later I’m going to want a closer look at this cute bra, but for now, we have some business to attend to.”
A warm tear escaped the corner of her eye. Later? Her stomach twisted.
Her cabin was isolated and hard to reach during the day, let alone during a torrential storm in the middle of the night. Even if she were willing to call the police, they would never reach her in time. It would take the small force of Glennie at least an hour to respond to her call for help. She shuddered to think what this dangerous man could do to her in the span of an hour.
“Please,” she choked out. “The stones are in my office. In the safe.”
“The diamonds. Just take them.”
The man chuckled. The sinister sound was devoid of any mirth.
“I don’t give a fuck about any diamonds.”
“Then what do you want?”
The moment the question left her lips, she knew it was a mistake.
The man leaned in with his hips. The hard ridge of his arousal pressed against her stomach.
Chloe whimpered as she shifted her body to the side, desperately trying to break his hold.
What kind of man turned down diamonds? A crazy fuck, that’s who.
Chloe didn’t trust anyone who claimed to not be interested in money. Money was cold, unfeeling. Straightforward. Every horrible moment in her fucked up, twisted life could be traced back to someone else’s need for money. At least it made things uncomplicated. There was no wondering why or any deep self-reflection or even a need for that elusive idea of closure or meaning. She knew why…money.
There was only one other thing besides money that could influence a person’s actions…sex.
She could feel the ominous power of his intention as he used his body to cage her own.
She would not give in without a fight. Clenching her small hand into a fist, she lashed out. The fifteen carat, vintage amethyst ring she always wore caught him on the cheekbone. A droplet of blood trickled from the scratch caused by one of the diamond accents.
He raised two fingertips to swipe at the blood. Keeping his eyes trained on hers, his tongue flicked out to taste the crimson drop.
Watching him, she could almost taste the metallic tang on her own tongue.
“I was hoping you would fight me. It will make this all so much easier.”
Her scream was lost in the deep, dark woods.