He pulled the other plate from the microwave and set it down on the table. He then picked up one of the beers and walked over to me. He took my left hand and wrapped it around the long hard length of the bottle, my hand under his. The cool wetness felt amazing under our hot fingers. I looked up at him and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe.

“Feel better?” he asked, only I heard something else and I throbbed with it. I pressed my thighs together. His hand suddenly left mine and I snapped out of my trance. I pulled out my chair to sit.

I hated the fact it was night again, that I’d missed an opportunity to see the sun. No one ever thinks about how lucky they are to see the sun everyday. I certainly never did, not until now. Disappointment shivered through me, pulling me down again. Caleb noticed. When did he not notice something?

“What? What could be wrong now?”

I looked at him with eyes that all but yelled, are you kidding me!

He shrugged. “I could always put you back inside your room.”

I winced at the suggestion. “No. I’m…grateful. I just, I guess I'm just disappointed the sun isn't up. I haven't seen the sun in a long time.”

“Hmm,” was all he said.

I tried not to look at him, every time I did all I could think about was the fact that he had been inside me. The way he had been so soft and so gentle and forced my body to feel good, even though I had fought it, then the way he had been so cruel. I pushed the food around, thinking about things beyond my old life. I wondered if I would ever manage to escape. The thought seemed less and less likely the longer I remained here with Caleb. Though I knew I could never give up hope. I abruptly wondered what would happen to Caleb once I made it home. Would he be brought to justice? The thought gave me mixed emotions. Fuck, maybe I did have Stockholm’s.

“I didn’t bring you out here to eat with me so you could stare off into your food.” I looked up. He smiled again. Or maybe he’s just too pretty for prison. Thinking of prison only served to remind me of being sodomized.

“So tell me about home Kitten; brothers, sisters?” I could feel the pin pricks behind my eyes, threatening to burst through in a flood of tears. I set my fork down and put my hands over my face, willing them back. I didn't want to talk about this, not with him; it hurt too much. Yet, the logical side of my brain was saying that perhaps if I opened up to him and got him to see me as a human being, he’d treat me differently. Let me out of the dark for good. Maybe even let me go. This was an opportunity. A big one. The tears were beaten back for the moment. I could do this. I had to do this.

“I have five brothers,” I said, refusing to tell him anything about my sisters.

He eyed me at length before speaking again. “And you are…?”

“The eldest.”

He sat back in his chair and stared at me, tunneling through me with that dark gaze as if he knew something I didn't and was amused by it. “And your parents?”

Why did he suddenly care? “It's just my mom. My dad’s been gone for a long time now.”

“He died?” he said almost thoughtfully.

“No,” I said, edgy, “just…gone.”

“And so your brothers have a different father?”

“Um...fathers.” I looked down at my plate again, shifting the food around, trying not to think about him staring at me.

“Your mother had children with more than one man?” he sounded…disapproving. He shook his head slightly, then, under his breath he muttered, “The West.” His eyes once again bored into mine, “How does it make you feel?”

What are you? My Shrink? “I don't know. I guess I don't care.”

“And what does your eldest brother think?” he leaned in. He was actually interested. I was getting a little freaked out.

“My brother?” I asked. I didn’t understand; where was he going with this? My brother was fourteen and all he gave a shit about was running the streets with his friends. Mom and the others were my responsibility.

“The burden of caring for you and your mother would naturally fall upon your eldest brother,” he said, his tone inquisitive but oddly perplexed.

I scoffed, “Hardly.”

My answer seemed to displease him on some level, but he nodded slowly in realization. What rock had he been living under? “Yes of course. How forgetful of me.” His gaze became almost pitying.

Heat crawled up my face and the lump in my throat got harder to swallow and keep at bay. I bit on my lip and looked down at my plate of cooling food.

“With so much responsibility resting upon your shoulders how is it that you're still so innocent, still a trembling little thing needing to be told what to do?”

“I'm not a baby,” I stated firmly, but my voice lacked that certain kind of conviction—of confidence.

“Right,” he said, a big grin played across his face. It fell quickly, “Do you blame your mother?” Taken aback, I blinked and simply nodded in response. How could he see me so well? I wiped away the tears before they spilled from my eyes.

“Yes!” I cried and succumbed to my tears, head in my hands.

“I don't mean to make you cry Kitten.” He leaned in farther, his hand reaching for mine. The hell you don’t. I tried to pull my hand away, but his hold was insistent. I dared a look at him. Was that my pain reflected in the pool of his eyes? He swallowed and it was as if he was hiding some powerful emotion. He cleared his throat and when he spoke, he was once again in charge of himself, “Do you think she misses you?” He asked so matter-of-factly, as if the answer was not capable of breaking me inside, but it was, it really was.

I cried so hard the tears spread all over my face and I kept wiping my hands on my nightgown. “Please, stop it. Why are you being so cruel?”

He seemed impatient, “Just answer my question. It’s very simple–do you think she misses you? Or do you think it’s possible she’s already moved on and forgotten you?”

I pulled my hand from under his oppressive grip and pounded the table, “You don't know me! You don't know my family. You don't know a single thing about me. You're just some sick pervert who kidnaps women so you can feel superior! You think I give a f**k about what you say? I don't. I hate you!” The moment I finished with my outburst, cold, black, heavy fear took hold of me. He looked pissed. He gently tapped his fork against his plate, but one look at his knuckles, all white with the intensity of his grasp, suggested there was nothing gentle about him just now. I looked into his eyes, keeping his gaze locked onto mine, hoping that his anger would ebb. If I looked away, there was no hope for me.

Suddenly, he burst into a fit of laughter so loud and forceful that I jumped and slapped my hands over my ears. It made me want to scream, just to make him stop laughing. He rose from his chair and came at me with his hands out. I quickly threw my hands up to protect my face. To my surprise, he grabbed my face in his hands and kissed me on the mouth so intensely it made my lips hurt a little. His face lingered close to mine, his breath warm on my mouth.

“I'll let you have that one Kitten. I'll let you have it because it's told me so much about you already. And I like you Kitten, I like your saucy little mouth. I don't want to hurt it. I'd rather kiss it, just like this.” He put his mouth on mine again, this time softly, his tongue gently probing my lips, until forced apart. I put my hands on his wrists, gently pushing him back before I turned my head away and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. He stood upright, grabbing my chin and tilting it upward. We looked at each other again.

“But if you keep this up,” he continued, “I will have to teach your saucy mouth a cruel lesson. Do you understand?” I nodded slowly, his hand still holding my chin. He smiled, “Good.” He sat back down at his chair, seemingly delighted with himself. So much for his pity.

“My mother does miss me,” I was adamant. “She’ll never stop looking for me; no mother would ever stop looking for her child.” But my tone wasn't too convincing, not even to my own ears. For a moment he looked just as stricken as I felt, but only for a moment. Did I want to know why? Was he after more than my misery?

“If you say so,” he whispered, expression cooling.

I looked away and chugged on my beer, picked up my fork and stuck a big scoop of food into my mouth. If my mouth was full, I couldn’t talk. We sat in silence for several minutes, just the sound of both of us chewing and drinking. I stared at the fork, my metal fork and for too long because when I felt watched, I looked up. Caleb just smiled at me. He was daring me to use it as a weapon. It was odd to discover I was learning his various smiles. I think I got a little bit drunk because the world seemed a little, I don't know, wobbly? For reasons unknown to me at the time, I felt compelled to repeat a question...carefully.

He had told me once before he would do whatever he wanted with me, but he’d never told me what that might be. Was what happened between us the worst of it? I was surprisingly hopeful. “Master?” I paused. When he said nothing, I continued. “What happened before…is that all you plan to do with me?” The question didn't seem to surprise him in the least, but it felt like I’d asked him the most important question I could ever ask him.


Tags: C.J. Roberts The Dark Duet Series Romance
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