My chest clenches tight. I narrow my eyes at the butler as if this is his fault.
For his part, Farrow’s butler refuses to meet my eyes. He studies the floor at my feet as he holds the door for us.
I stare him down, as angry with him for cooperating in this madness as I am at Farrow for taking advantage of me. Of my father’s weakness.
But most of all, I’m furious at my father for putting me in this position.
Farrow notices me studying the butler, the gilded hallway, the high ceilings. “I’m in the business of protection,” he comments as we cross the floor, our footsteps echoing.
I can’t help it. I scoff, rolling my eyes at the idea of Farrow protecting anyone. “I can’t imagine your protection pays this well,” I add, meaning that it’s a bit rich for him to be paid to protect others when he’s taking advantage of me.
But his gaze only darkens, and his mouth twists with some inner rage. “You’d be surprised what people will pay to be safe. Or be made to feel safe, anyway.”
Then he’s walking away, down the hall, and I have no choice but to follow. I trail him through house, past closed doors and through large rooms—a library lined with books, a study with an elaborate drawing table, an enormous dining room clearly made for entertaining, though I wonder how much of that Farrow could possibly do, isolated in the woods like this.
We pass a kitchen, and I spot another servant inside, a maid dusting shelves and a cook at the stove. They both look up, smile and greet Mr. Lochlan. Their gazes skim right past me as if I’m not even here. I feel like a ghost walking at his side.
“Hello,” I reply, after they both ignore me, hoping to draw at least some kind of attention.
The maid glances at me once, her eyes narrowed and cold. Then she goes back to dusting, and Farrow leads onward, up a set of stairs.
We enter a room on the second floor, brightly lit by chandeliers and ornate sconces set into the walls. It has no windows, but a lot of circular, comfy-looking couches. It looks like the room you’d find in a spa lounge. I wonder if he entertains people here, too. Maybe this is the drawing room where they recline and sip cocktails made by a hired bartender until the dining room downstairs is set and ready to receive guests.
I’m still studying the room, trying to determine its exact purpose, when I hear the door click shut behind me.
I turn around to find Farrow leaning against the closed doors, watching me with hooded, unreadable eyes.
“Strip,” he says.
It’s taken years of preparation and planning. Laying the groundwork. But I’ve finally got that bastard Calvin Badiary right where I want him.
And now it’s time to take my revenge. Time to ruin his precious daughter. To use her and debase her in all the ways I’ve dreamt of, ever since the night I met her in that alley and realized what an asset she would be. How she could serve me to take my revenge.
All I have to do is remember why I’m here. Why I’m doing all of this. Why I need to use this girl.
“Strip,” I tell her, my voice heavy with the command. I expect her to try to resist. Maybe throw something at me again, the way she kept doing in the limo. That, or I figure she will get scared now. She’ll finally realize the dire straits she’s in and cry, beg for mercy.
What I do not expect is for Pamona to lift her chin and meet my gaze. I can tell she’s quivering—she’s not that good an actress. But she keeps her mouth in a narrow, hard line, and meets my eyes, and refuses to back down, even with all the fear that must be coursing through her.
Then she grabs the bottom of her dress and pulls it over her head in one smooth motion.
When she drops it on the floor beside her, still glaring at me, I can’t help it. I flash back to that night, years ago. To seeing her bare skin in that alley, her flat stomach on display, her shoulders naked, her ass tight and pert in those skintight jeans. She was perfect, she was sexy, she was completely naïve and ignorant of what she was doing walking down that street in the dead of night… And I had her right where I wanted her. I could have taken her then.
I wanted to.
But I made myself wait. I told myself I would do it better. Make sure her father knew who took her and why. Now that she’s here, standing in front of me, naked except for her thin, lacy white bra and a pair of flimsy cotton panties, glaring me down like she doesn’t have a single fear in the world, all I remember is how much I wanted her that night in the alley. Not for the sake of humiliating her father, but for the sake of having her. Running my hands over every inch of her smooth, perfect skin.