No longer. I looked at him sleeping, almost impossibly beautiful in such a masculine way. His bare chest with the tattoos and scars I’d now have the time to learn all about, how and why he got them, what he was like and felt then, how it all added up to Declan now. I wanted to know everything about him, every intimate detail, and spend the rest of our lives taking care of each other the way only we knew how.
I’d start right now, I decided. I’d go up to the house where there was actually food and cook breakfast. A big one with eggs and bacon and biscuits. We’d worked up quite an appetite last night. I’d barely eaten in days, come to think of it. My stomach had been too tied in knots, jealousy, despair, fear all taking up too much space to share with anything as mundane as food.
Now, I didn’t have that problem. As if on cue, my stomach gave a low rumble. I smiled, bringing a hand to it. OK, time to cook.
Quiet, not wanting to wake him, I lightly rolled off of the bed. I used the bathroom with the door closed, then pulled on the clothes I found strewn all over the cabin. My t-shirt was under the couch. I didn’t know how that had happened. But, anyway, mission accomplished, I managed to dress and make my way over to the door without waking him.
I paused in the entry, giving him one last adoring look. Sunlight hit the foot of the bed, but his face still reposed in shadow, his dark, thick eyelashes closed in heavy sleep. Good. He needed to rest. He’d looked so tortured. Everything was going to be OK now. I stepped out and closed the door softly behind me.
Outside, the sun shone and the birds sang and white puffy clouds danced in the bright blue sky. I hugged myself, the widest smile imaginable spreading across my face. He loved me. Declan loved me. My Declan.
And I owned the ranch. Oh what a beautiful morning. Bacon and eggs and biscuits, kisses and more sex, curling up together and loving each other the rest of our days. Life was perfect.
My head was so far up in the clouds, I didn’t even react when an SUV pulled fast into the driveway. I just stood and watched the car come at me. It stopped a foot away. Right as I finally thought to scream, run, fight, large, heavy hands wrapped around my mouth, gripped my waist and forced me into the car. It all happened so fast I had no time to think, no time to yell for help.
Hot panic flooded my senses. A man held me so I couldn’t see him, couldn’t identify my captor. I kicked hard in the car, struggling to free myself and spearing my elbows and feet into the girth of the man holding me down. As the car sped out onto the highway, I broke away and my feet connected right into his groin, right where it hurt.
But then I took a sharp, painful jab to my head and I faded into darkness. My last thought before I passed out was that Declan was still sleeping. He’d have no idea I was gone.
The pain in my head split through me like a knife. It hurt like hell. I tried to bring my hand to my head to rub where it hurt most, but I couldn’t move it.
My eyes flew open. I remembered. The grabbing, the car, the fight. Where was I?
Hot panic and cold fear fought within me, sending chills and sweat through my body. I was sitting on a chair and my hands were tied behind my back, tight. My legs were bound, too, to the legs of the chair. I still had my clothes on, the t-shirt and shorts from the night before. My mouth was bound and gagged.
I couldn’t see much. My eyes searched around in the dim light, a wide open room smelling of must and mildew. It looked slightly familiar. Where had I seen it before? I needed to think. Every clue I could piece together could be the one that saved my life.
“Ah, she’s coming to,” a mean, nasty voice spoke from behind me. I recognized it right away. The Toad Man. Lymon Culpepper.
I struggled against my restraints, writhing in the chair and calling out against the gag. He walked in front of me, his beady eyes cold and dark as he watched me flail. I panted and fought, to no avail. He’d tied me tight. Realizing the futility of my actions, I stopped. For now.
“No, go on,” he encouraged me, his voice flat and businesslike. “I enjoy watching you struggle.”
I hated him. I wanted to spit in his face and claw his eyes out.
“Ooh, I like that, too,” he said, appraising me. “All that heat in your eyes. I’m going to enjoy taking it all out of you. Breaking your will. Making you kneel for me. It’s so much more fun when there’s a fight first.”
Cold, deliberate, he dragged a chair over near me. He placed it down and sat in it, squat and nasty, watching me bound and gagged. I couldn’t reach him, couldn’t get to him. But I’d figure out a way. He had me helpless right now, but I’d find an out. I just needed to keep calm and focused and bide my time.
A large figure stepped out from the shadows. In an instant, I knew he’d been the man who’d grabbed me, held me with his meaty fists in the car. The goon, the 300 pound monster I’d met the other day. Fuck. It would be harder to get out of this with two of them.
Panic swept through me again. I was completely helpless, tied tight to the chair. No one knew I was there. No one even knew about this warehouse. I couldn’t help it, I screamed and struggled, knowing he was watching me and getting off on it. But the survival instinct was strong and I screamed and writhed in my restraints.
“I like your screams, too, Kara,” Lymon said, sitting in the chair, his stumpy legs spread wide apart. He rested his hand on his inner thigh. Next to it I could see a bulge, pressing against his pants. He was hard, watching me. My helplessness and fear was turning him on.
I didn’t want to give him that pleasure. Trying to control myself, I took as deep a breath as I could through my nose. The gag let in some air, but it almost panicked me more to try to breathe through it, reminding me how helpless I was. These monsters controlled my airflow. They meant business. I closed my eyes and steadied my breathing.
“You can close your eyes, Kara. But it doesn’t change the fact that you’re here, trapped. I’ve got you right where I want you.”
My eyes flew open and fixed on him again with hatred.
“There’s that fire,” he nodded, pleased. Oh, how I hated him. “I’m going to take your gag off soon, Kara. I’m going to enjoy listening to all your screams. The screams no one else can hear.”
My eyes widened again in panic and I could feel my throat constricting, needing more air. I balled my hands into fists, struggling against the ropes that bound them together in back of the chair.
“I like watching your tits while you struggle,” Lymon said, now stroking the base of the bulge in his pants. “The way you’re tied up, they’re forced out for me to see. But I don’t like that t-shirt.” He glanced over at his goon, hulking by his side. The other man was younger, maybe around my age, and his eyes fixed on me, hungry. My stomach turned with revulsion.
“Cut it off of her.” Lymon’s voice issued the order, cold and hard. The goon smiled, lecherous and leering, and approached me with lumbering steps. In his hand he held a knife, a sharp one. The metal glinted in the dim warehouse.
“No!” I couldn’t help but struggle and protest, flinching and helplessly trying to move away. But I couldn’t move. I was bound there, sitting under his hulking form as he stood over me with his knife.
“Hold still,” Lymon instructed. “We don’t want that pretty skin marked up. Yet.” After the yet, he chuckled like he’d made a funny joke. I gave an involuntary shudder in fear.
The beefy, thick face of his henchman loomed over me. He balled up my t-shirt in his sweaty, hairy fist, then took his knife to the thin cotton. With great satisfaction in his eyes, he split my t-shirt open right down the middle, leaving me completely naked and exposed. I hadn’t found my bra that morning in the post-lovemaking tumble of my clothing. I now had nothing between me and my captors.
Moaning in protest, I tossed my head to the side, not wanting to see my nudity, or the looks in their eyes as they now took me in. I could sense the goon step away, giving Lymon precedence. First dibs.
“Yes, Kara,” Lymon coaxed me, his voice chilling and cruel.
“Feel how helpless you are. I like that.” I whimpered and hated myself for it. I could hear the sickening sound of a zipper. Oh God, was he undoing his pants? Hating to look, compelled to do it, I glanced at him and saw he now had his penis in his hands. He held it, erect, and slowly stroked it as he watched me struggling, naked, bound to the chair.
“This could have been better for you, you know,” he continued, his voice oddly soft, almost crooning. “We were going to have fun, you and me. This wasn’t how it was supposed to work. You were going to come to me for protection. I was going to give you time to do it, let you turn yourself over to me.”
I couldn’t help but watch him now, listening to his horrible, hideous words, his hand working his cock.
“I had it all worked out. I’ve waited for this for some time now. I can be a patient man. You were going to come to me.”
I couldn’t help it, my eyes widened. I shook my head no. That would never have happened. I never would have thrown myself at this man’s feet. I never would have given him control over me. He disgusted me to the core.
His empty hand balled into a fist. “But then someone got in the way and gave you back your ranch. Someone changed the plans. But I don’t let people do that to me. I don’t let people take what’s mine.”
He leaned toward me and I could smell his rank breath. “It’s much better now, Kara. This way, I get to force you. I’m going to like it so much more. This way, it’s going to hurt.” His eyes glittered with excitement and arousal.