Simon closes his eyes and leans his head back, moving his neck around. When his head snaps back up and his eyes flash open, once again they’re on me.

Rising from the chair, shirtless and covered in wounds, he looks downright savage. He looks like a scarier version of the beast that comes out when he takes me.

He stalks over to me, his long legs easily eating up the distance.

I shrink back in my chair, the look on his face giving my heart palpitations. I know he, and everyone else in this room, overheard every word Matthew and I spoke.

Is he angry? Is he going to shatter my world even more? Stomp all over the fucking pieces and grind them into the floor?

Simon stops in front of me and locks eyes with Matthew.

Something unspoken passes between them as they stand eye to eye. Two behemoths that make me feel so fucking small at this moment…

Matthew steps to the side with a smirk and a nod.

Whatever painkiller Andrew administered must be strong as fuck because Simon bends over, grabs me by the face, and gives me a kiss that’s so deep, so fucking hard, I moan into his mouth.

Pulling back, he stares deep into my eyes. “I’m going to make him pay for all of this, princess,” he promises. “I’m going to make him bleed for every fucking tear.”

I start to open my mouth to speak but he claims it again. With his tongue, teeth, and lips, he speaks to me, showing me what words could never adequately tell.

By the time he pulls away, I’m flushed and panting. No longer chilled by the sense of doom lingering in the air.

His thumbs stroke against my cheek and then he slowly lowers one hand down. His palm covers my belly and his eyes lower.

An expression of pure devotion passes over his features.

“Remember my promise? I protect what’s mine,” he growls.

Fuck. It’s sick, so sick, to be feeling this at this moment, but I can’t help it. He just totally turned me on.

Pulling away like it’s the last thing he wants to do, he straightens. Then he glances at Matthew.

“I’ll stay with her,” Matthew smirks.

Simon nods.

Casting one last possessive glance back at me, Simon stalks towards the table.

“Well, as much as I’d like to stay for the party,” Andrew says, rising with a grunt and sliding his backpack over his shoulder. “I’m going to head over to the hospital and check on Johnathan.”

“Do let us know how’s he doing,” Matthew says with a look of concern passing over his features.

Andrew nods his head. “I’ll be in touch.”

I watch his back as he walks out of the room, wishing with all my heart that I was going with him.

I understand this, I do. But I still wish I didn’t have to be a part of it.

“I should probably head out too,” James says, inching towards the door.

“No,” Simon says and then grins. “Stick around. I’m going to need your assistance with this.”

James glances towards Asad then Simon.

“Fuck,” he mutters.

Simon’s grin stretches wider as he moves to the tool box. He glances towards Asad with a critical eye and then yanks the top drawer open.

I find myself leaning forward in my chair. My attention and every one of my senses riveted to him as my pulse pounds through my veins.

I wonder if this is what the prey feels like when it’s watching the predator in the wild.

Withdrawing a set of latex gloves, Simon snaps them over his hands. “Normally, this procedure requires the skin to be warmed first, preferably with boiling water. But alas, I fear we don’t have any on hand…”

I have to bite my tongue to keep from blurting out ‘thank god’.

Eyes wide with fear, Asad starts to struggle against his bonds. Does he know what’s to come? Or is he just afraid in general?

Simon rummages around in the drawer and withdraws a knife with a long straight blade.

“Cut his clothes off, James,” he orders, extending the knife out.

James grumbles as he walks around the table. Grabbing the knife from Simon, I hear him mutter something about always getting the shit jobs.

Simon bends down and yanks the doors on the tool box open as James starts to slice through Asad’s clothing.

“What are you looking for, Simon?” Matthew asks with mild interest.

“The blow torch,” Simon answers coolly and my heart drops to the floor.

Matthew makes a face. It would be hilarious if this situation wasn’t so horrific. “Please, spare us the blow torch. It took us months to air the smell of Marshall out.”

Marshall? Who the fuck is Marshall? No, scratch that. I don’t want to know.

Simon sighs and shuts the doors on the tool box. “Very well.”

Straightening, he reaches into the top drawer again and withdraws a knife with a curved blade.

With a wicked gleam in his eyes, Simon lifts the blade in the air and turns towards Asad. “Without heat, this is going to hurt a hell of a lot more.”

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