“Meaning?” I stayed against the wall. He could come to me if he wanted something. I didn’t know if, at this point, my legs had the capacity to move anyway.
He did come. Was in front of me in three strides, his hands on either side of my head, flat against the wall, his eyes intense, inches from mine. I smelled the faint scent of whiskey on his breath. I noticed the angle of his body, his hips too far away when all I wanted was them pressed against me. Was he still hard? ‘Cause I was still wet. Desperately so. “Meaning,” he growled, “that if I have you, you will not return to life as you know it. You will not flirt with men around the water cooler at work. You will bend for me, spread for me, allow me to have every inch of your surface, all while screaming my name and shuddering into my heart. That is what I mean.”
Holy shit. I tried to breathe normally. Tried to stop my pulse from jumping through my skin. Tried to speak in a way that didn’t cause my voice to shake. “We don’t have water coolers.”
He smiled, and the change pulled me off whatever ledge I gripped. Oh my word. White, perfect teeth. A goddamn mischievous twinkle in his eyes. I couldn’t figure out if I liked his intense side or smiling side more, but I tried and held on to this look for as long as I could. “And the rest?”
“I don’t think that’s a decision I can make without having your cock first.”
He tilted his head. “Worried I will disappoint?”
Hell to the no. “Girl’s gotta be safe.” I released my own smile, one with much less potency, but the best card I had in this situation.
His face darkened, the grin disappearing as intensity stole back over. “I’m not joking, Riley. About having you.”
I watched his eyes, the shudder in them as they looked from my lips to my eyes to the door. All minute twitches of his pupils, his head unmoving, his entire body so still it could have been made of steel. Controlled intensity. I didn’t doubt his words. I also knew that there was no way I could say anything but yes to this man. My body wouldn’t allow any other response. “Then take me.”
Confirmation in the set of his face, the fire that came to his eyes, the forward press of his pelvis as he gathered me back, pulling me tightly, his mouth coming back down to claim me. Yes, he was still hard. I smiled against his mouth.
(adj.) strictly imposed
“he kept tight control”
For a small period of time, I was able to keep track of my days. On the wall below my bed, in the dark space hidden by sheets and shadows, I scratched lines in plaster. One line every night. I marked them slowly, the scrape of the butter knife’s edge wearing smooth, the repeated action breaking through the grime, my movements patient, the act ritualistic.
He discovered the marks on the twelfth day, his reaction a mixed bag of delight and intrigue. He crouched, looked at the marks in the same way a parent would look at a school project. I watched from the corner, my arms cuffed to the front bars, butt on the floor, as he stripped my bed. My exertions during training had moved it slightly, and, when he bent to push it back, he paused, his eyes catching my lines, his haste to pull the bed back almost comical in its excitement.
“You did this?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder at me. I said nothing, watching as his fingers scrolled lightly over my hard work. “Eleven.” He repeated the number, his head tilting at something that came to mind, and he leaped up, grabbing his notepad and frantically flipped pages. “Eleven.” He looked up at me. “Eleven days ago I took off your handcuffs. Gave you freedom in the room.” He glanced around. “How did you know what a day was? There aren’t any windows in this room. And the lights are always on.” His eyebrows pinched.
I swallowed. “You visit every day. Wear different clothes. That’s how I count.” He stared at me for a spell before pulling a pen from the notebook and writing, a long line of cursive that wasn’t legible from my seat on the floor. I took a risk. “How long did it take for you to take off my handcuffs? To give me that freedom?”
He laughed, jotting down something in the margin before clicking the pen shut. “Great question, Kitten. But I can’t tell you that. And I can’t let you do this. Counting days signifies hope. We can’t have hope.”
“Why not? Wouldn’t hope endear me to you?”
He walked over, crouched before me. I dropped my eyes, examining the seam of his dress pants as they stretched over his knee. “No Kitten,” he whispered. “Believe me when I say that hope will only drive you insane.”
That night, when he left, he chained me back up. I didn’t know how long, how many days stretched by while I was back in those cuffs, but when he let me free, I didn’t keep any more hatch marks. I couldn’t. He varied his schedule, visited a bunch in a row, then would leave me for what felt like days. I cursed myself for speaking, swore - for at least a week - to not tell him anything. I didn’t keep that vow. A part of me felt that the only thing he wanted me for was information. And once he had all of that, maybe he’d let me go.
Or, maybe he’d kill me.
I had to face all options.
The driver’s name was Leo. White Escalade with custom rims, tinted windows. I stepped into the backseat, Brett following me inside, his long legs cramped in the backseat. I clutched my purse, smiled at Leo as he shut the door. I had parted with the girls, their protective nature insisting on a face to face with Brett before letting me disappear into the night. Jena had taken it one step further, getting his business card and verifying his cell. He smiled through it all, relaxed and at ease, the intensity of our alley romp gone as he shook hands, oh my god, those fingers were in me, remembered names, and stole all of their hearts.
The SUV moved, rocking over cobblestone steps that pirates once roamed, the movement of the car tossing me slightly. Brett’s hand found me in the darkness.
“Sorry about the interrogation in there.”
“I’m not. They’re watching out for you. It’s the smart thing to do.”
I bit the edge of my smile. “You say that. Jena Crawford has your number. You might regret that in the wee hours of the morning. I think her second major was drunk dialing.”
He brought my hand to his mouth, kissing the back of it. “I can handle it.”
I glanced to the front. To the Bahamian man less than five feet away. “What you said in the alley, about what this will mean...”