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Lost: Saved by Love #1

Lost

  • no longer possessed or retained. * no longer to be found. * not used to good purpose, as opportunities, time, or labor; wasted. * being something that someone has failed to win. * ending in or attended with defeat. * destroyed or ruined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance novel by

 

Jodi Kae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost

 

Copyright © 2016 by Jodi Kae

 

Lost is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental

 

All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

Title page

Copyright

Warning

Dedication

 

Chapter One – Freedom

Chapter Two – Heal

Chapter Three – Revelation

Chapter Four – Starved

Chapter Five – Awakening

Chapter Six – Shame

Chapter Seven – Console

Chapter Eight – Panic

Chapter Nine – Redemption

Chapter Ten – Enlighten

Chapter Eleven – Frantic

Chapter Twelve – Protection

Chapter Thirteen – Committed

Chapter Fourteen – Distraction

Chapter Fifteen – Rejuvenation

Chapter Sixteen – Hope

Chapter Seventeen – Escape

Chapter Eighteen – Diversion

Chapter Nineteen – Salvation

Chapter Twenty – Transformation

Chapter Twenty-one – Conception

Chapter Twenty-two – Sacrifice

Chapter Twenty-three – Desperation

Chapter Twenty-four – Elimination

Chapter Twenty-five – Control

Chapter Twenty-six – Revenge

Chapter Twenty-seven – Closure

Chapter Twenty-eight – Breathe

Chapter Twenty-nine – Enrapture

Epilogue

 

Warning

 

This book contains scenes of violence, graphic language, mild sexual content and other aspects that some may find disturbing.

 

Reader discretion is advised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dedication

 

 

To my family,

Thank you for your infinite patience. Thank you for fixing your own dinners and allowing me to write. To my daughters, you know why I wrote this so please, please, please take precautions. To my husband, thank you for my first e-reader. You have made buying books so much easier and faster. I could actually say that you are my inspiration. Love You All!

 

To Jennifer,

Thank you for the long hours, laughs until we cry and long talks. Thank you for reading, reading, reading, reading and editing with me. Our friendship and road trips bring more humor than the best comedians. Love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter one

 

Freedom:

[_ *the power or right to act, speak , or think as one wants. *absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. *the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity. *the state of not being imprisoned. *the state of being unrestricted and able to move easily. * unrestricted use of something. *the state of not being subject to or affected by something undesirable. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

The open road brings me peace, just a long stretch of smooth asphalt to keep me company. Cruising through the mountain pass, my Harley’s quiet hum is music to my ears until I can reach my sanctuary in the hills. Coming home always brings a sense of peace to my soul, even though I’m alone here with nothing but the crickets and wildlife to keep me company; I prefer it that way. I come here to get away from the rat race I live in, but If Shana needs to reach me, she has my satellite phone.

I haven’t taken a vacation since starting Mason PI six years ago, and after the last case, my secretary demanded I take one or she was going to quit. Shana has worked for me for five years; she is an angel sent from above. After ten secretaries storming out calling me every name in the book, I’d just about given up. She claims to tolerate me because I’m just like her papa who was also a PI. He was shot and killed during an investigation, and she thinks it’s her duty to keep the same from happening to me.

I was only twenty-three when my own parents were murdered in their home. The scene was made to look like a random robbery, although only a few pieces of jewelry and some antiques were missing. The police said when my parents came home from the country club surprising the robbers; no witness was their motto. They were bound, gagged, and shot execution style in their bedroom. After two years of no leads and the case getting colder by the minute, I decided to go hunting myself, which led to Mason PI. With the help of my friend Jax, who is an agent with the FBI, we were able to put two thugs away for life without the possibility of parole. My dad’s business partner who ordered their murder only received twenty-five to life with the possibility of parole; granted he will die in prison of old age before he ever sees that day.

My inheritance was my father’s investment firm, which I didn’t want. It is one of the top Fortune 500 companies in the world. Most people might think I hit the gold mine, but I am not the business suit corporate type; so sitting in a stuffy office with other suits is not my idea of a dream job. My dad expected me to take over for him and was ready to train me to be his protégé’, so I’m sure he turned over in his grave when I decided to sell most of my interest in the company to one of his other business partners. It was the best for all parties involved. His partner assured me that my dad’s employees would remain with the company and be taken care of. The monthly residual checks from my retained interest in the firm are donated to different foundations, which are handled by my secretary Shana.

With both my parents gone and no siblings to care for, I have put all my energy into building my cabin. With a solar system and a private well, I have everything needed to retire up here someday. At thirty-one, it won’t be soon. Not because I need the money, but to keep myself from becoming a hermit. My inheritance is enough to set me up for life and any family I leave behind; which is not in the cards for me, the family that is. I like my solitary life and only crave a woman’s company for one thing, but dollar signs have them craving so much more than I’m willing to give. They only seem to want more once they realize who I am; Google has definitely not done wonders for me. Being the only heir to a multi-million dollar company tends to bring a lot of unwanted publicity.

Since I never planned to take a wife or have any children, I thought I could splurge on my mountain get-away. Two hours into my scenic drive, my private road welcomes me home. Turning off the winding mountain road onto an unkept dirt road is not what I’d normally do to my bike, but I haven’t been here in six months to maintain it, so I’ll just have to go slow.

The sunset is amazing, at least what you can see through the trees anyway. The temperature is cooling to a comfortable 60º, much better than the humid 80º in the concrete jungle where I earn a living. Purchasing this mountain eight years ago was the best investment I’ve ever made. The two hundred and fifty acres provides me the privacy I crave.

When I flip on the bike lights to show me the way through the thick evergreens up to my home, the beam highlights the dirt road up ahead, but what catches my attention is not normal for my neck of the woods. “What the hell!” Stopping my bike, I angle the headlights toward the small form. From the looks of it, a wild animal was planning on a meal, and I may have interrupted. Holding my breath, I listen for sounds to give anyone or anything away, but the forest is eerily quiet like it’s trying to warn me that something is out there. Hopping off, I grab my .45 from my shoulder holster and rush forward. As I get closer, I see the crumpled and bloody body of a child lying two feet from the roadside. The long dark hair covering her face is matted with dirt, leaves, and blood. I reach down to touch a cold, bare shoulder and she moans. “Son of a bitch!”

Her body temperature is low, and she starts to shiver uncontrollably. Picking her up and trying to be as gentle as possible, I move quickly to my Harley. Holding her close to my body, so I don’t move her too much, I glance down to see her mouth open on a silent scream. Tears stream from her eyes to mix with the coagulating blood at her temple. My blood boils at what has possibly happened to this girl. Mounting gently, I start up and head for home.

 

 

Unknown

 

 

The pounding in my head is excruciating. Something thick and wet slides down my face with a faint drip to the hard surface below. Trying to open my eyes to see where I am is impossible; they feel glued shut. My arms feel weighted down, and no matter how hard I try to move, I can’t raise my hand to my face. I think I’ve died, but where am I? Who am I? What happened to me that I feel this much pain? Hoping to be a good enough person to make it into Heaven, although I’m not sure that is where I want to be if the pain I feel comes with that privilege. I can’t see the bright light that everyone always waxes poetic about, or feel the sense of peace.

The throbbing at my temple dominates every one of my senses, so I don’t hear the approach of footsteps, but I feel the light touch of a calloused hand on my shoulder. A rumble of a deep voice reaches my ears, but I can’t make out what it is saying. As a large hand slips under my neck and one under my knees, I open my mouth to scream out from the pain but only silence greets me. Tears slide down my face, and I am mad at myself for being so vulnerable. Then I feel nothing.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Lucky for me my cabin is nestled in a thick mass of trees that anyone would miss if they didn’t know what to look for. Having a perimeter fence with no trespassing signs usually stops trespassers, although sometimes a determined hunter gets through. It’s the high-tech security system and cameras that prevent anyone from breaching my private domain.

With some slight maneuvering, I manage to free one hand to punch in the security code, and my door pops open. Slipping inside and kicking the door closed, I carefully move up the stairs to my room.

My unconscious bundle doesn’t make a sound when I lay her on the chaise lounge in the corner then stand back to get a better look. I’m shocked to see that this is no child but a very petite woman. She has several cuts on her face, including a gash at her temple. Her entire body doesn’t appear to have a spot unmarred by bruises. She is covered in dirt and blood, which will increase her risk for infection if not cleaned up soon.

Rushing to the adjoining bathroom and starting the bath, I move quickly about to gather supplies. Unfortunately, I’ve never had a woman here, so I only have supplies that I use. No fruity smelling soaps or lotions, just Suave shampoo and Dial soap will have to do. Moving quickly to the bedroom to gather the small woman into my arms, she whimpers, but after looking down, I see that she is still unconscious. I carry her into the bathroom, kneel down on one knee by the tub and rest her small body on my leg. Undressing her from her remaining shredded tank top and cotton shorts only to realize there is nothing on underneath, causes my heart to skip a beat. I curse my good and my bad luck at the same time while slowly lowering her into the warm water. A small sigh escapes her lips even though she remains unconscious. Washing away the grime from her body was the worst sort of torture I could’ve put myself through. I feel like the biggest pervert as I notice her creamy skin although marred by cuts and bruises. Her breasts are high and firm, and the small patch of a landing strip between her thighs does nothing to calm my raging hormones. She is a temptation I didn’t need. Cursing myself ten times to Sunday, I finish cleaning her long, dark hair and lift her out of the tub. As gently as possible, I carry her into the bedroom and lay her on some towels to wrap her up. Pulling back the covers, I shift her body to the center and cover her with the comforter, tucking the thick blanket around her small body. It doesn’t escape my attention that now she smells like me, and that just feels right. I need to get my hormones in check because the last thing she needs is to wake up to a strange man drooling over her.

 

 

Unknown

 

 

Excruciating pain in my ribs jerks me awake as calloused hands scoop me up again. Too afraid to open my eyes, I let oblivion claim me while dreaming of warm water with soft caresses that lap over my tired, sore body. A picture flashes in my mind of a white sandy beach stretching out behind a beautiful cottage. The beach and its warmth sinking into my bones remind me of basking in the sun and the heat that comes with it. Where it is, I don’t know or can’t remember. All too soon the warmth is gone, and I want to cry out for more except I can’t seem to make any sound come out of my mouth. When will this pain end? What have I done to deserve this kind of fate?

 

 

Derek

 

 

Running a disinfectant-soaked cotton ball over all the scratches covering her body leaves very little untouched. Even marred by cuts and bruises, it’s still the softest skin I’ve ever touched. I choke back a groan as my fingers glide the cotton over the bottom of her breasts; this is pure torture. They are so firm and creamy, my mouth waters with the images of what I could do with my tongue. What the hell is wrong with me? This woman is vulnerable and under my care. All I can think about is molesting her while she sleeps. I truly am demented and must have lost my mind. After covering the worst cuts with gauze and medical tape, I slip one of my t-shirts gently over her body. Seeing her in my clothes does something to me indescribable. Some age-old primitive reaction I’ve never felt for any other woman on the planet. “Mine,” whispers from my lips but I have no idea where that came from. Needing to clear my mind away from this woman, I cover her back up with the bedding and quietly move to the door. Taking one last look, I turn off the overhead light leaving only the soft glow from the bedside lamp and step out.

Hoping that fresh air will clear my head, I head outside to my bike to grab the supplies I picked up at the little store twenty miles back and move to the deck. Popping open a beer, I relax back into the built-in swing and close my eyes. My thoughts race to what I should do next. Should I take her to the hospital or contact the police? My gut instinct screams no. It seems too suspicious that she ended up on my road in the middle of the mountains. What if whoever dumped her there comes back with intentions to finish the job? If they come back only to find her missing, will they search hospitals and police stations to reclaim their victim? There are so many different scenarios playing out in my head that I decide to wait until she can tell me herself what happened to her.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Heal:

[_ *to become sound or healthy again. *alleviate a person’s distress or anguish. *correct or put right an undesirable situation. _]

 

 

Unknown

 

 

Warm and comfortable, I stir half asleep. The soft caress of silk crosses my legs as I try to roll over, but the pain in my ribs stops me quick. My eyes feel as though they weigh a hundred pounds, however, prying them open anyway is necessary. As my vision clears, the large soft bed in a dimly lit room starts my panic.

Where the hell am I, who brought me here? I try to remember but can’t even remember my own name. Who am I? How did I get here? Where is here? My heart races, and I feel as though it will jump right out of my chest. Pushing off the silken covers, I try to sit up and can’t do that either. What is wrong with me? The pain limits my movements, so I start by moving my legs; they seem to work fine. My head is throbbing, so I reach up and find a bandage at my temple. Was I in a car accident? Why can’t I remember what happened to me, or anything for that matter? Looking around, my concern only grows when I realize that I am not in a hospital. I slide my hands down my body to feel a soft cotton shirt that reaches my thighs. Slowly I pull the fabric up moving my hands to my stomach and feel several bandages on my abdomen. Gliding my hands along my body as far as they will reach, I find more gauze on my arms and upper thighs. My hand slides under the shirt to move it above my breasts to check for damage there too, and I freeze.

Movement to my left catches my attention, so I slowly turn my head to stare into the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Heat races from my chest to my face and I’m sure turns beat red. Getting caught fondling myself in front of the most gorgeous man I’ve ever seen is more than humiliating. If there is a hole nearby, I’ll crawl inside and never come out. He just stares at me, mouth open, probably at a loss for words as I am.

Slowly pulling the t-shirt back into place, I try to ask where I am except only scratchy air comes out. Pushing sound through my vocal chords feels like running my tongue over sandpaper, which I did once on a dare when I was a little girl. My eyes fly open in shock at the memory, which probably makes me look like I am going to freak the hell out, which I might.

The beautiful man puts his hands up in surrender as he moves slowly to the bedside. I should be scared to death considering I feel like someone beat the shit out of me, but something in his eyes tells me I’m safe; which is crazy! I don’t know this man or even who I am for that matter. Although, someone took care to bandage me up, so I assume it was this man. Please don’t let him turn out to be my abuser with a guilty conscience.

He slowly leans down to reach the bedside table and picks up a glass of water. Tucking his hand under my head, he lifts slightly to put the glass to my lips, all while his eyes search mine as if waiting for me to panic. I sip slowly; holding back a wince at the pain swallowing caused, but feeling like I’ve just crawled out of the Sahara Desert, keeps me drinking what I can. He moves the glass away, but trying to tell him thank you proves impossible. He shakes his head.

 

 

“Sshhhh, not yet.”

 

 

Something in his face warns me not to argue. Although he seems angry, it doesn’t feel as though it’s directed at me. He leaves for just a minute and comes back with a spoon with white powder on it. I hope it’s aspirin, but why would he spoon-feed me enough cocaine to kill me after he’d wrapped me up? He mixes a little water with it and leans down to place it on my tongue. Drinking down the powder only hurts a little and tastes horrible, but I can’t imagine the pain of swallowing a hard round pill at this point. I lie back into the softest pillows and close my eyes again. Just that small movement has already exhausted me. Who knew drinking water could take so much out of a person? Movement on the bed jostles my body and I quickly open my eyes to see him lying down on the other side. OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod! What does he want with me?

 

 

“I’m only laying on top and promise to keep my hands to myself. I just want to be close in case you need me. Your ribs are badly bruised, and I’m not so sure they aren’t broken. I just need to hear you breathe and know you are safe, okay?”

 

Relaxing a little, my eyes close again to let sleep claim me once more.

 

 

Derek

 

 

She is fast asleep again, so I head back outside. Fresh air and two beers do not clear my mind. I can’t stop thinking of her so small and damaged in my bed. Now I can’t stop thinking of her sliding her hands across her body up to her breasts. My head screams, “she’s just assessing the damage,” my hormones scream, “Do you want help with that?” It has been too long since I’ve enjoyed the company of a woman and it shows. Maybe she didn’t see my tongue hanging out of my mouth while I imagined it following the path of her hands. Her face burned hot with embarrassment making me feel bad to have put her in that position, but I can’t help the excitement of seeing the shy innocence reflected in her eyes.

When I touched her neck to help her get a drink and give her some Advil pm to help her sleep, it sent little shock waves up my arm with that simple touch. As she laid her head back again, I noticed the bruising around her throat. What has happened to this beautiful woman, who would hurt her this way? It looks as if someone tried to strangle my woman and when I find them, heads will roll.

My woman? What in the hell am I thinking? “No wife no kids,” is my motto; that way no one can take them from you. The loss would be too great.

After an hour, I make my way back inside, and I climb on top of the bed to be near her. My hormones, once again, go in a different direction than just being her caretaker. I have never kept a woman for longer than a few days except I can’t picture being without this one. What will happen two months from now, or even years, concerning this woman? My mind wanders to her laughing green eyes staring up at me from the porch swing while rubbing her growing belly and I know I’m a goner. I don’t know what it is about this one, small, fragile woman, but from the moment I touched her, I felt an unbreakable connection.

I keep her on a steady supply of Advil pm, chicken broth, Jell-O, and water, for six days and hope that resting will help her heal faster. I need to find out who she is, what happened to her, and where she’s from.

After this week of playing doctor and not in the way I’d like, all of her bruises are fading, leaving a few cuts and scrapes; only a few will scar. She moves more in her sleep now with moans and mumbles reflecting arousal instead of pain. Who is she thinking of as she sighs in her sleep? It has taken several cold showers not to take advantage of her vulnerability. I don’t even know her name, but in my head, I call her “Mine.”

This is not how I planned my long weekend to turn out, but I’m not complaining. It’s a good thing that I’m self-employed and can take as much time away as needed. I called Shana on Monday to inform her of the longer break, however, at the time I didn’t know how long I’d be gone and promised to keep in touch. She says she doesn’t mind the small reprieve. She’s enjoying a good book and will not mind finishing it before she has to go back into the office on Wednesday.

 

 

Unknown

 

 

Standing on my white sandy beach, breathing in the ocean air, the sand squishes in my toes, and the gentle waves lap at my ankles. I call this place mine because no one else ever comes here. Turning my face up to the sun, I feel the warm caresses all over my body. Then I feel the caress of my blue-eyed lover sliding up and down my skin. Needing more but not knowing what or how to ask for it, has me moaning, hoping it encourages him to take it further. I feel fire everywhere he touches, licking every inch of skin. In my favorite yellow bikini, it leaves very little skin untouched by the sun’s warmth and his hands. He leans in and trails a hot wet tongue from my ear to my neck then sinks his teeth in at the base. I moan, hoping it encourages him to keep going as chills race up and down my spine, causing me to go weak. My hunger for him overwhelms me; my body seeks more of his touch. Turning to get closer, my dream lover turns into a tattooed predator, and I scream as darkness takes over my fantasy.

 

 

“Hey, it’s ok. It was just a dream.”

 

 

My eyes fly open to see my dream lover leaning over me. His calloused hands slowly move up and down my arms leaving streaks of fire in their wake. Taking several deep breaths to calm my heart before it explodes out of my chest, I start to cry uncontrollably. Was it a dream or a memory trying to break free? Not knowing is what scares me. My beautiful man slowly picks me up and pulls me into his lap calming my sobs. He tucks me against his chest and lays his chin on top of my head.

 

 

“Sshhh, it’s ok, I’ve got you, Baby. No one can hurt you here.”

 

 

Somehow his voice encourages me to lean back, look into those electric blue eyes and whisper, “I don’t know your name.”

 

 

Derek

 

 

I’ve lessened the dosage of sleep aide, hoping to get her more coherent. In order to help her, I need to get some information. Her tears are killing me. She has to be terrified awaking to a stranger.

“Derek Mason. I found you about a quarter mile from my home, unconscious and about to become critter food. We’re about 20 miles from the closest town, so I have no idea how you ended up on my road. What’s your name?”

The look she gives me is like a deer caught in the headlights. Feeling her heart rate pick up and vibrate through her whole body brings me more guilt. “Sshhh, it’s ok, I’m not going to hurt you. I’ve been watching over you for six nights now, so you’re safe with me.”

She relaxes a little and settles back into my body pressing her lush bottom into my erection. Not safe from me, the little voice in my head whispers. It’s obvious this woman is running scared. I need to tamp down my desire for her before she is running scared from me.

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Revelation:

[_ *a surprising and previously unknown fact that has been disclosed to others. *used to emphasize the remarkable quality of someone or something. *the making known of something that was previously secret or unknown. _]

 

 

Unknown

 

 

Derek. My dream lovers name is Derek, except he is no longer just a dream and he definitely is not my lover, although his body says he wants otherwise. He found me six days ago. Six days? What the hell happened to me six days ago that I don’t even remember my own name?

He calls me Baby, and I like it. He makes me feel safe, and I like that too. I haven’t felt safe in so long that it feels good to stop being afraid. Wait! Is that just a paranoid feeling from being dumped in the woods, broken and bloody as Derek says, or a memory of my past? As I struggle to sit up taller from this cradled position against his very firm chest, he helps me to rise. I feel awkward and vulnerable about sitting on his lap, and I want to move, but I can see in the sharp angle of his mouth that he will not let me go. I calm myself enough to ask questions.

“Can you tell me where I am?” My voice comes out in a scratchy whisper from non-use in I guess six days, but he hears me. He pulls his head back to look down into my eyes and his soften. An urge to press my lips to his full soft ones overwhelms me, so I quickly cast my eyes down. Hopefully, hiding thoughts that are probably written all over my face. When he places a calloused finger under my chin to lift my face to his, a shiver races through my body. His smile hints that something is funny, but only he is privileged to the joke. However, none of this is funny to me. Starting to pull away as I am getting angrier by the second, he senses my irritation and begins to tell me of my crazy story.

 

 

“You are at my home in Connecticut. I own two hundred fifty acres in the mountains, and no one is going to find you here.”

 

Oh my God! No one can find me here. My heart starts to race realizing that this man could be my predator and I am his prey. He probably gets off on beating women nearly to death, nursing them back to health only to start over again. He probably makes his victims feel indebted to him and then punishes them for the smallest infraction, just to start the process all over again. Panic rushes in, and my hands start to claw at his face and arms in desperation to get away. As I run my nails down the side of his face, he cusses out a string of swear words including a few that I’ve never heard before. With no effort at all, he flips me over onto the bed face down and pins my arms underneath me. Desperately I kick out, hoping to catch him in the balls, but he presses his body over the top of mine and pins my legs with his. His weight is heavy, and suffocation becomes a real possibility. As I take in gasping breaths to get enough air, he shifts slightly to take off some of his weight; still not leaving me room to move. He is definitely still aroused; now I’m sure he gets off on causing pain. He is probably going to rape and kill me; no one will ever find my body, just like he said. I am in full hyperventilation mode now, and my vision is going blurry. He keeps mumbling things I don’t understand, probably trying to get my cooperation. Then I feel nothing.

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Baby, sshhh, calm down.” What the hell! She has gone completely still underneath me. Moving carefully, I roll off of her to give her some room. What the hell just happened? She went from nightmare to confused to aroused and submissive to panic and passed out in all of two minutes. Someone obviously did a number on this girl, and she doesn’t know which way is up or who to trust. I gently turn her over to check her breathing. Her heart rate is slowing, and it probably won’t be long before she comes around again.

Climbing off the bed, I step into the bathroom to check my face. Sure enough, three little scratches from my temple to cheekbone. Damn, she’s a little fighter. Hopefully, she got in a few scratches to the asshole that beat the hell out of her. I move into the bedroom and cross to my closet to pull out four silk ropes. Tying her to the bed seems to be the best option to keep her from fighting or running and finding herself in more danger.

Moving her to the center of the bed and trying not to watch her breasts jiggle, I close my eyes to get myself under control. I am a class “A” bastard! All I can think of is getting her underneath me, putting my mouth all over her delectable body and savoring her for hours. Her vanilla scent permeates through my soap within an hour of bathing her daily, and I find myself addicted to her smell. I secure her wrists to the headboard and her feet to the footboard, so she is an X in the center of my bed. This doesn’t help my imagination any. Holy shit! What is wrong with me? I have never reacted to a woman this way before, but I feel a connection to her that is undeniable. She is mine! I don’t know why or how, just that she is mine!

I snap out of my daydream, only to see her watching me with tears rolling down her temple into her hair, but she says nothing. She just caught me staring at her on full display with my shirt covering none of her lower half and drool probably running down my chin. Shit! No wonder she panicked. First, I can’t control my own appendage that she definitely had to feel; now she catches me staring at her body. I pull the blankets over her to give her some sense of privacy and hold up my hands in a gesture of surrender but not before I catch her scent of vanilla. She looks up towards her hands and then back at me as if to say, “you perverted bastard.”

 

 

Unknown

 

 

I open my eyes to see my dream lover/serial killer hovering over my half naked body. How can such a beautiful man be a crazed lunatic? Glancing up, he sees me watching him and blushes; since when do rapists blush? The expression on his face as he was looking at me was that of a man starved, not one intent on causing me harm. Warmth spreads from my face to my belly and forms a knot in my stomach. Anticipation settles in my core and my body clenches. Why is my body trying to betray me? Am I trying to give off the wrong signal? How can I want this man to take what no other man has had or touched? Maybe I’m the crazy one. I did have a gash on my head, so maybe I’m suffering from delusions as well as amnesia. Then he does the unexpected; he covers my body with the blanket.

 

 

“Look, I’m not going to leave you like this; I just wanted to talk without having to hold you down and suffocate you with my weight. Like I said, my name is Derek, and this is my cabin in Connecticut. You seem to be running or scared shitless of someone, and I want you to know that you are safe. If there is a person or people that you are running from, they will not find you here. I found you a week ago on my dirt road, beaten, bloody, and frozen half to death. I brought you here to care for you, not to hurt you. Do you understand?”

 

 

I nod so he continues.

 

 

“Many times over the last week I have thought about taking you to a hospital or contacting the police, however, my gut instinct convinced me not to. I know that sounds crazy, it does to me too, but finding you on my road in the condition you were in is suspicious. I don’t know how you got there or if the person or people who did this to you might still be out there looking for you. Not wanting to take any chances with your safety, I felt it was best to help you heal so when you awoke, you could tell me more about your situation. I am a Private Investigator, and I have a friend in the FBI that I will call to see if he can help.”

 

 

What he’s saying takes a moment to register. I sigh in relief and try to speak except it comes out crackly. He leans over me to the nightstand to grab some water and his rock hard abs brush against my belly and breasts, starting the warm rush all over again. My body betrays me as my nipples pebble under his shirt, so when he leans back to help me drink, a small smile crosses his lips and lights his eyes.

“ I’m sorry, I don’t know my name. I have no idea if I’m running from someone. I have no recollection of what happened to me or how I ended up on your dirt road. I keep having small flashes of memory, but they don’t give me enough information. I am scared shitless and out of my element being tied to your bed.”

He stares at me as if I am speaking a foreign language and then moves to untie my legs. As he pulls down the covers to get to the rope binding me, he gets another full on view, and I feel my face go hot. He caresses his hand down my leg and loosens the soft rope to slide my foot out, although he doesn’t let it go. He wraps both hands around my ankle and massages it as if to soothe any aches. I watch as he reaches for my other foot and releases it, repeating the same ritual and then does the same with my wrists. I feel a warm rush between my legs and know he can see it too. His eyes zero in on my almost bare privates, and I feel my face turning beet red. Will he think I am a freak with not much hair? I hated body hair and had laser hair removal when I was eighteen. It seemed at that time most kids my age were running out to get tattoos. I was more interested in removing unwanted things from my body than putting permanent ink on it. My eyes widen with that little bit of memory.

It is not disappointment I see when he looks into my eyes; it’s lust. He wants me and doesn’t care that I caught him looking. I have no experience with this sort of thing; sure I flirted with guys, but had never gone beyond kissing and a little rubbing; another little flash of memory. Yes, I am curious. However, the right guy had never come along. For some crazy reason, I feel like this savior of mine could be that guy; which is crazy! How can my thoughts go from a serial rapist and murderer to wanting him to take my virginity? Something is definitely not right in my head. I don’t know him other than his name and that he lives in Connecticut; also that he has cared for and nursed me back to health. That knowledge does something to me and warms me like no one ever has. I can’t decide what to think of this savior of mine. Is he good or bad?

He stands from the bed, walks to the door and turns around to give me a view of his Oscar-worthy body.

 

 

“ I’ll bring you some soup.”

 

What the hell just happened? He didn’t respond to my memory problem and even acted a little frustrated that I didn’t know anything. Maybe he is pissed that I thought him to be the bad guy but what did he expect when he tells me of his cabin in the woods, revealing that no one will find me here? I’ve seen enough scary movies and know that the ending of a story with that statement in it is never good. Maybe he is mad that I was getting turned on. He shouldn’t have rubbed my ankles and wrists so sensually if he wasn’t aiming for that kind of reaction. I’m sure there are more clinical ways to untie a person that’s tied to your bed. Smiling at that thought, I realize he wants me. It was written all over his face and barely hidden behind his zipper. My body was ready to let him have what he wanted. Dammit! Since when is it okay for your body to act the opposite of your mind? I can’t explain the connection or the desperate need to have him touch me, but it was there. His hands were so warm and gentle, chasing away a deep chill set in my bones. Maybe he is not attracted to me, just the idea of sex. Maybe he has decided I am too damaged or come with too much baggage to bother. I don’t even know my own name for hell sakes, no wonder.

 

 

Chapter Four

 

Starved:

[_ *deprived of something necessary. *feel very hungry. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

I had to get out of there before I feasted on her like a starving man. Good hell! I should kick my own ass. Is it not bad enough that she didn’t even know who she was or what had happened to her? She had to catch me devouring her with my eyes and one hell of an imagination. Her arousal hit me like a freight train, and I almost lost control. She is petite, only about 5’5”, which is perfect for my tastes. She has long muscular legs and a tiny waist; her breasts are perfect. She would let me take her, innocent or not, I could see it in her eyes. She probably has some hero worship going on and a lot of vulnerability.

For a week I have touched every inch of that beautiful body. Not in the way I would have liked, but my imagination still touched her in a sensual way. Watching her injuries heal from bruises and cuts to the softest perfection has been torture. I need her to get better but dread my control when she is. How long will it take before she could handle me taking her? My desire has only increased to heights unimaginable; I can’t ever remember a craving so deep. It has been a little while since I’ve enjoyed the company of a woman. However, this one small, vulnerable woman makes me feel like it’s been years. Pent up arousal has given me blue balls for a week, and I don’t know how much longer I can go without claiming what’s mine.

Good hell! I’m not some bastard who is going to take advantage of the situation, but I will have her at some point because she is mine. The timing has to be perfect; I have to bind her to me since I’m not letting her go. Where the hell is this coming from? No wife no kids! That is my motto. I have never wavered until now.

Working my way around the kitchen, looking for the right food, proves difficult. I only picked up a few things from the store, planning to go back again after a few days. I didn’t expect to find a half dead woman at my doorstep, so that has changed all of my plans. I always stock some canned goods except I think ravioli is a little too heavy for now. She hasn’t eaten much due to the drugged sleep coma, but I’ll just give her more broth until I can make it to the store.

While heating the broth, I drink a beer hoping for a calm that I don’t feel. I need to go back into my room with a new resolve of keeping my hands to myself. She is confused and scared shitless; she doesn’t need my raging hormones adding to her own stress.

Stomping my way up the stairs seems the best way to alert her that I’m coming in. My hormones can’t take another peep show. Walking back in with a steaming bowl of chicken broth, I sit down on the side of the bed. She looks at me with big green eyes seeming confused by her arousal; or my reaction, I’m not sure which. My caveman instincts kick in, and I know that I will be keeping her. Having no idea who has done this to her, I am determined to keep and protect her with my life. Now I just need to get my hormones in check, so I don’t have to protect her from myself. After placing the tray across her lap, she proceeds to sip the soup watching me warily.

 

 

Unknown

 

 

I am starving, but my stomach can’t hold very much, so after taking in half the contents of my soup, I motion to him that I am done. As Derek leans over the bed to remove the tray, I place my hand on his wrist and he freezes. His skin is hot to the touch and sends an electric jolt up my arm warming me all over.

“Derek,” his blue eyes stare back at me, begging me for the next words. “I’m sorry for attacking you before, I just panicked. It is very weird for me to not know anything about myself. Not my name or even how I came to be here. Thank you! I don’t know how I will ever repay you for saving my life, but whatever it is you need or want, please let me know.”

Needing a connection to someone, even if it’s only on a physical level, feels like a necessity for me. Feeling lost and alone, no identity, or past I remember, makes me vulnerable and needy. Whatever this man is willing to give, I’ll take.

His eyes flash with understanding right before his lips press into to mine. Molten fire races through my body, and I have no control over my hips as they start to undulate, moving the tray up and down. I moan into the kiss and use my hands to slowly push the tray and blankets toward the end of the bed. Sliding my legs from beneath the covers, I use my foot to move the tray out of reach. Even baring my lower half, the cool air does nothing to sooth the aching heat. Slowly he places his hand on my mid thigh and proceeds to draw circles heating my skin. I reach up and wrap my hands behind his neck pulling him closer. He slides his body down to lie beside me and seconds later he is on top of me. His desire is evident with the press of his hips, and I moan into the kiss. Our hands are roaming and discovering every dip and swell imaginable on each other’s bodies. His weight is warm and comfortable, but in the blink of an eye he is gone, and I’m left cold. He stands up quickly, grabs the tray and leaves the room, slamming the door behind him. Holy shit! What is wrong with him? Better yet, what is wrong with me?

I am broken in more ways than one, and I have just been more intimate with a complete stranger than any man I’ve dated. The worst part is, I can’t wait to do it again.

I roll off of the side of the bed barely managing to stand on shaky legs. I need the bathroom and the privacy; I feel way too exposed and vulnerable. His bathroom is a luxury I didn’t expect. There is a huge shower that could fit six people in one corner while a Jacuzzi tub fills another. The shower has an embedded river rock design in a wave pattern about eye level with clear green, glass block tiles from floor to ceiling. The floor is covered in slightly grooved long gray tile that is warm to the touch, and the counters are black granite with flecks of silver. There’s a sunken bed of loose river rock that follows the walls, giving the room an outdoor spa like feel. This bathroom is so peaceful; I could live in here. After washing my hands, I walk out into a quiet, empty room feeling deserted. Curling up on the bed with rumpled sheets as I remember what just happened here, brings a smile to my lips. Exhaustion wins over euphoria, so I lay down to take a nap only to find myself dreaming of Derek, no longer my serial killer but soon to be lover.

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Dammit!” Stomping my way to the kitchen, I toss the tray into the sink, splashing the leftover soup up the back splash and window. What the hell just happened? How can this woman be so responsive and submissive? I’m positive that she is a virgin. Her movements are unpracticed and shy. I pace to the fridge to grab a beer, back to the sink and look at the mess I’ve made, back to the fridge and toss the beer inside. I need all my wits about me if I’m going to survive the night without doing something stupid. Again, I need to have my head examined. This young woman has been through some trauma that not even she remembers, and I can’t get my head out from between her legs. “Great, another vision I won’t be able to erase.”

Stomping to the front door and forcing my legs to move me further from this temptation, I slam the door behind me and make the call I’ve been trying to avoid. First, I’m afraid he will knock some sense into me, and I’m not so sure I want to come to my senses. Second, we have a history with women; will he ask to share this one when I’m positive I won’t be willing? His voicemail comes on after three rings, “Hey, Jax, I know it’s been a while, but I need a favor, call me when you get a minute.” Sitting down on the bench, head in hands, I contemplate how I’m going to keep my hands to myself. The problem is, she is a once in a lifetime woman, and I should know because I’ve never found one like her in my lifetime.

I am about to burst from the need to take her and make her mine. I want to take what no other has before and mark her with my scent, so all others will know who she belongs to. I don’t care who she is or where she’s from, all I care about is where she’s going, and that’s nowhere without me.

I stomp around my property checking security, gathering wood, and desperately trying to keep my mind busy. I don’t know how long I’ve been out here avoiding my future, but the sky is streaked with pinks and blues by the time I march inside. I finally realize that whatever is happening between us inevitable. I need to quit wasting time and take action, but when I burst through my door the sight before me stops me dead in my tracks and robs me of speech. Standing by my kitchen sink, she is slightly bent over searching for something underneath−Wearing only my shirt, which normally would hit her upper thighs, giving me a view of all that is mine.

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

Awakening:

[_ *coming into existence or awareness. *the beginning or rousing of something. *an act or moment of becoming suddenly aware of something. *make someone aware of something for the first time. _]

 

 

Unknown

 

 

I sleep like the dead until blue eyes flash in my mind and my body becomes unbearably warm. Strong fingers bring me so much pleasure I think I’ll die without it. Opening my eyes to find myself still alone, I decide to take advantage of a cold shower. Unfortunately, the sensation I feel from the rasp of a washcloth across my body does nothing to cool me off.

I dress again in another of his shirts, this one a button down, baby blue, dress shirt I found hanging in the closet. None of his bottoms will fit without falling off, so I go without them, hoping that the shirt that barely covers my ass will suffice. It’s not like Derek hasn’t seen or touched all of me in the time that I’ve been here.

I flush at the memory of how intimately he has touched me and decide I should find something to keep me busy before I spontaneously combust. Slowly opening the bedroom door, I call out, “Derek,” no answer, so I move slowly to the top of the stairs.

Realizing that this is the first time I have been out of his room, my eyes wander to take in the homey, masculine, cabin in the woods. The staircase curves slightly, descending into a massive great room, and the entire back wall is nothing but floor to ceiling windows. Through the windows, I have a view of a sprawling lawn that disappears into a forest that seems to surround the property. As far as my eyes can see, there are no other rooftops or signs of human life. To the left of the wall of windows is a chef’s dream kitchen. In the living room there is a dark brown leather sofa that faces a fireplace, and above the mantle hangs a flat screen T.V. To the right of the windows is a massive bookcase filled with books and collectibles that look ancient, probably antiques. There is a small table surrounded by two worn leather club chairs in front of the bookcase; broken in just enough that it would seem like a luxury to sit there with a good book and fuzzy throw. Next to the bookcase is a wide, short hallway that appears to lead to a bathroom and another door that probably leads to a bedroom. The dark hardwood floors give the house a warm and cozy feel. It would be amazing to snuggle on the couch being warmed by the fire and watch the snowfall outside

Moving down the stairs to get a better look at the kitchen, I notice a lingering soreness to my thighs and remember the cuts and scrapes all over my body. Though healing nicely, thanks to Derek, some of the muscles ache as if deep bruising has occurred.

A vision flashes through my mind of a cane slicing through the air to connect with the top and back of my thighs over and over again.

 

“We have to see how much you can take; you’re gonna need some pain tolerance where you’re going.”

 

Thinking of that malevolent voice sends chills down my spine. So familiar but I still can’t place it. I shake my head to clear it of the horrific images and move into the kitchen.

A stainless steel induction cooktop sits in the center of a large island. Resting above is a mid-century looking rack that dangles pots and pans. Imagining the view of a shirtless Derek working over the hot stove has me getting hot and bothered. I need to focus on something else, so looking around again, I see a large farmhouse sink centered in a granite counter positioned on the back wall just below a window that also looks out into the forest. There are remnants of soup splashed along the wall and up onto the window. Probably thrown in his haste to get away from me.

Bending over to open the cupboard below, I Look for a washcloth to clean up the mess. I hear the door open, and a draft of cool air rushes up between my exposed legs to the heated center of me. Mortified at what I am exposing, I turn around quickly to protect myself from what lurks behind me and lock eyes with a predator. My head spins, and I can feel myself losing balance when strong, calloused hands wrap around my waist to steady me. As my vision clears, it’s definitely a predator I see, but not one I will run from. Heat crawls up my neck to burn my cheeks, matching the scorched feeling between my legs. I cast my eyes down as to not let him see my embarrassment. Instead of lifting my chin to get my attention he lifts me by the waist.

 

 

“ Wrap your legs around me. Please, tell me you want this?”

 

 

His lips press fully to mine as he devours my mouth. As I gasp, his tongue works its way between my teeth, and I wrap my lips around it and suck gently. He moans into the kiss, and his hands snake around to grip my ass. He pulls on my body, and we become fused tightly together. The heat of his body, even through his clothes, is ramping me up to fever pitch. “Please,” I say, and faster than I can comprehend he is striding to the staircase.

 

“There is no going back, Baby; after this you are mine.”

 

 

His statement heats me from the inside out, increasing my desire to have this man take me for my first time.

The climb to the top of the stairs is sublime torture. Every step bounces me a little on his body in time with the pulsing in my core. I would be horrified if he could feel it against his skin, but I fear that is what has him speeding faster to the bedroom. As he lays me on the bed, his eyes zero in on my body and he groans.

 

“ I need the words, Baby.”

 

 

As I look at him in confusion, he says again.

 

 

“Please tell me you want this.”

 

 

I nod frantically and then manage to squeak out the words. “Please sir, I want this.” In ten seconds flat we are both naked. I am liquid and warm, and by the time I open my eyes, he has slid me to the center of the bed, and his hips are wedged between my legs. He seems to be waiting to make sure I am ready. I have never wanted anything so much in all my life, so I raise my hips in a welcoming gesture. That seems to be what he is waiting for, and he slides his body down to my entrance.

 

“Eyes on me.”

 

 

He grabs my wrists to hold them above my head with one of his hands and grabs my hip with the other to halt any movement.

 

 

“Don’t move, Baby, I’m not going to last, and I want to make this perfect for your first time.”

 

 

I don’t move, but wonder how he knew I was a virgin. Maybe he can tell by my inexperienced movements. I sure wasn’t acting like one rubbing all over him, desperate to have him send me over the edge. I think I will die until he has possessed my body and soul. He stops moving and stares into my eyes. He is gauging me to make sure I am still with him, so I nod.

 

 

“Breathe,” he whispers seductively.”

 

 

I have heard many versions from girlfriends about their first time, and none of those stories compare to this. The heat of this moment is the only thing that has chased away the chill in my bones since the day he found me broken and bloody on the dirt road to his home. His movements are gentle and slow and in perfect sync with what he knows my body needs. I am so lost in the pleasure of his touch that I barely hear my own screams as he sends me over the edge. My body is Jell-O, my mind is perverted, and this beautiful man owns my heart. He pulls me into his side and covers me with blankets while the peace I feel lulls me to sleep.

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

Shame:

[_ *a regrettable or unfortunate situation or action. *a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. *a loss of respect or esteem; dishonor. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

Oh my God! What have I done? Taking the virginity of a young woman who doesn’t even know her name is unacceptable, even in my book. She is probably even suffering from hero worship or maybe Stockholm syndrome. With her curled into my side all boneless and sated, it is very hard to have any regrets, but the guilt I feel for taking advantage is going to eat me alive.

Dammit, why hasn’t Jax called me back yet? He could have talked some sense into me. When I walked through the door to see her bent over the sink that was the last of my control. I have never felt such a pull to a woman in my entire life, a need to possess beyond all reason. I took her without protection, and at that moment, I couldn’t breathe let alone think. She was made for me, and I didn’t protect her. Not that she would have to worry about her health from me, because I have never gone unprotected, however, I didn’t protect her from pregnancy either. I have a hard time regretting the possibility that she could be pregnant now. Just days ago, I pictured her swollen with my child, and I want to kick my own ass for my selfish thoughts, considering she was still mostly unconscious.

Jax is going to have a field day with this and maybe kick my ass for me. He is the ultimate protector of women. Even when we used to share, he was always the nurturer while I just dominated and gave physical pleasure. Oh, he was dominant too, except when I walked away, he stayed and cuddled.

For the first time in my life, I can’t bring myself to walk away. I need her like I’ve never needed anyone. I crave the tight clasp of her body to burn me every night and several times throughout the day. My body wants her hands stroking every inch of me. “Just great,” just the thought of her touching me has woken the beast, and he is up and ready to play. No way am I going to take advantage of her again. The next move will have to be hers to assuage the guilt I already feel.

Sliding out of bed slowly so as not to wake her, I throw on track pants and head to the kitchen for more solid food.

As I walk into the kitchen, my phone starts to buzz. To look at the caller I.D. is a waste of time because only a few people have this number. “Jax buddy, how are you?”

 

 

“Better than you I’m guessing. Sorry, I didn’t call sooner, what’s up, Mate?”

 

 

“I need your help but can’t discuss it over the phone. Can you meet me?” Not sure if exposing her is the safest way to go about it, but I owe it to her to help her discover who she is and what happened to her. I know Jax will be as discreet as possible and there’s not much research I can do holed up on the mountain.

Jax is undercover FBI. We have worked several cases together and through some horrible experiences have become like brothers.

 

 

“Sure thing. Same place, name a time?”

 

 

Trying to decide when would be the soonest I could leave her for a few hours, we decide on tomorrow at 3:00 pm. I need to convince myself to keep my hands off of her until I can give her answers, so I stay on the porch until well after the sun has gone down. Please God, don’t let me find out she has a boyfriend or that maybe she’s engaged to be married. That is not something I considered while making love to her.

From the moment I found her I have considered her mine and nothing I find out about her will change my mind on that. The lack of a ring is something that brings me peace.

It’s pitch black by the time I move inside and slowly make my way upstairs to check on her. Slowly pushing open the door, so I don’t wake her, I stare at the vulnerable girl that I have taken advantage of. Guilt overwhelms me, so I decide to sleep in the guest room across the hall to give her some reprieve. How will she feel once she wakes up? Will she cry rape and demand I take her to safety? I am sick to my stomach when I crawl into bed. I leave the door open, so I can hear her if she cries out in her sleep.

 

 

Unknown

 

 

As the sun rises, orange hues slowly spread over the floor. With it comes a feeling of peace. Peace that I am safe and peace that I have found someone to cherish me. He looks at me as if I am his world and he will do whatever it takes to keep me here. I stretch feeling soreness, but for once in all the right places.

A vision flashes through my mind of a tattooed hand raining blows upon my naked body. Using whatever instrument he has at his disposal, he strikes my back, abdomen, and thighs, all while telling me there can be no damage to my face. He pulls my hair and drags me across the floor, forcing my face into a bowl of water, telling me to drink like the pet I will become. He yells at me and tells me my sister is better behaved and will please her master greatly−That I will be lucky not to be locked away in a cage, only to be used then caged again. Crying and begging for him to let us go and he laughs in my face with his putrid breath and rotting teeth.

 

 

“Too much money.” He says. “They want virgins, lots and lots of virgins. Do you know how hard it is to find virgins these days? They pay more for beautiful ones. I have watched you and your sister for months, and I know you two will fetch the best price.”

 

I squeeze my eyes shut trying to block out the vision. Oh my God! My sister is only 21, and I’m 23. She is so young and naïve. She doesn’t deserve a fate like this. It is my fault we are in this mess because I convinced her to go to a bar with me for her 21st birthday. My dad begged us not to go, but I refused to listen. Telling him, “We are adults, Dad, nothing will happen to us.” So who is the naive one now?

Crying out, “no, no, no please don’t touch me anymore, please just let me go,” only to open my eyes to my beautiful, blue-eyed savior standing over me trying to shake me from the trance I am in. His face is grief-stricken, and he lifts his hands in an ‘I’m backing away gesture.’ I want him to hold me and make the vision go away, but the look he gives me is so full of grief and sorrow that I hold back the words that will beg him for comfort. How much did I say? What has he heard? Does he know now that I am to be sold to the highest bidder? Does he believe me a whore who got what she deserved? The look of disgust on his face says it all before he turns and storms from the room.

 

 

 

Chapter Seven

 

Console:

[_ *to alleviate or lessen the grief, sorrow, or disappointment of. *give solace or comfort. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

When she cries out, I stumble out of bed to rush down the hall to my room. Appearing to be in the middle of a nightmare, I reach over to wake her gently, but her haunting words stop me dead in my tracks. She’s begging not to be touched again and to be freed. How can I live with myself after what I have done?

Storming down the stairs, I slam my way outside cursing my very existence. 3:00 p.m. is too late to meet up with Jax; it has to be now. I make the arrangements to meet in an hour and move back inside to grab clothes. “Shit” all of my things are in the closet. I don’t know if I can bear the look on her face when I go to my room; nevertheless, I can’t go naked. Opting for the clothes I took off last night; I head to the guest room across the hall from my bedroom. I call out “ make yourself at home; I’ll be back in two hours,” and leave quietly.

The drive down the mountain is the longest of my life. What the hell am I going to tell Jax? “Hey Buddy, I found a broken and bloody woman and decided to take advantage of her. Now she is so traumatized that she is having nightmares about me touching her again. How do I explain my need to possess and claim this innocent woman? Why is the obsession to be the first and last man to ever take her body, heart, and soul, consuming me? These thoughts have taken my control and shredded it to pieces. My actions have been unpredictable, unforgivable.

My need to fix this and help her is so great, the pain in my gut so crippling, that I can’t remember the twenty-mile drive down the winding road. On my bike, that would have been a death sentence. However, I keep my Ford F350 on site for unpredictable weather. Before I know it, I am parked at the general store. Knowing Jax is still at least twenty minutes away; I go into the store for much-needed supplies. She will need more than chicken broth and Jell-O to give her strength. Moving back out to my truck to load my groceries, I climb back inside the cab to wait for an ass chewing of a lifetime.

Leaning against the wheel with my face buried in my hands, a knock on the window jerks my head up. Jax takes in my appearance, and I can tell by the look on his face, he thinks someone died. Slowly I nod, move from the truck and head to the coffee shop at the back of the store in silence.

 

 

“Whatever it is we can fix it.” He pulls me into a one-arm hug. “You’ve got me worried here, Mate; talk to me.”

 

 

I relay details from pulling onto my drive that fateful afternoon to now, leaving out the intimate details of the most incredible sex I have ever had. The look on Jax’s face tells me that either he is as disgusted with me as I am, or is he appalled with the situation of my mystery guest? I sit in silence waiting for him to say something that will ease my conscience, however, what comes next is my worst nightmare.

 

 

“Derek, what I’m about to tell you goes no further than this cafe.”

 

 

A long pause has me shifting in my seat. Jax looks around to make sure we are the only ones within hearing distance.

 

 

“I have been undercover, investigating a human trafficking organization that has been kidnapping college age girls and selling them to foreign countries. There is a high demand for young, innocent, American girls that are to be sold to the Russian Mafia. As of Friday, I am to be stationed in a house four hours from here to guard product. There is conditioning that takes place in the house that is BDSM, and they know I have D’s training. I wasn’t scheduled to go in until Monday, but I was called in early because two of the guards stationed in the house took off with one of the products. The organization believes they were trying to make a black market deal with one of the more unruly products. The boss discovered that the guards were taking her to Canada to sell her to a different organization. The money they would have gotten from her sale would have allowed them to disappear or stay in Canada to hide behind the skirts of the Canadian organization. It is my understanding that a GPS tracker led them to a hillside twenty miles up the mountain. It’s believed that they got off of Interstate 91 in Hartford to lose a tail and that is why they ended up in this area. They found the guards dead but did not find the product. Their car rolled down the mountain, throwing one guard out, crushing him by the rolling vehicle−The other guard was found in the car with his neck broken. There was blood all over the broken back window, so they are assuming the product was drug off by wild animals since her body has not been found.

Although they believe she may be dead, they won’t stop looking for her until they recover the body or have proof of life. Even though they take very strict measures to ensure anonymity, they believe this girl was very smart and paid close enough attention to what she had seen or heard, that she could compromise their whole organization.”

 

 

My heart stops beating and then double times. I’m sure my face is green, and I feel like I’m going to lose my coffee. Is it possible that my girl is the missing product? Jax has no idea that my property is twenty miles up the mountain. I have never shared the location with anyone. Is it a coincidence, or somehow has she managed to escape a horrible fate that no woman should endure? She was a virgin, I am sure of that, and she has suffered some horrific trauma that caused her memory loss. Is it possible that even now she remembers things about her abduction and what happened to her? She was crying out, “don’t touch me, please let me go,” maybe that wasn’t about me at all. Suddenly I feel lighter, and the burden of taking advantage is lessened a little.

Jax is looking at me as if I’ve grown another head. I’m sure the slight smile on my lips does not bring him comfort as it does me. I’m ecstatic that she’s probably not horrified with the intimacy we’ve shared but maybe it’s her memory coming back, and that was why she was crying out. I feel panicked now that I have left her alone, scared, and vulnerable. No one can get in unless she allows someone inside, but that doesn’t mean she can’t get out. I left in a hurry; what if she thinks it was because of something she did? What if she thinks I have abandoned her and she chooses to leave the house?

“Jax, I gotta go. When I have more info, I will call you. While undercover try to get info about the missing girl and I’ll help out if I can. I’m not so sure that I don’t have her. She has no memory of what happened to her, but I will dig to see if I can jog her memory.” Rushing out the door, I call back, “coffees on you,” jump in my truck and speed up the mountain.

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

Panic:

[_ *Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior. *a frenzied hurry to do something. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

Oh my God! He left me. Panic sets in after only two hours. At first, I just lay in bed crying for an hour. My memory came back in a flood of horrific images that I had to endure alone. I remember walking out of the bar to wait for the taxi and being approached by a gorgeous man in a business suit who asks for a light. Then digging in my purse, my head bent down, as I search for the lighter I use to light candles in my room. A gasp to my left brings my head up to watch in horror as a tattooed man places a cloth over my sister’s face. As she goes limp, he picks her up and heads for a black SUV. I open my mouth to scream out when I feel the same type of cloth cover my face. Then I feel nothing.

The days and weeks that passed were the worst of my life. I was kept naked and afraid of being raped, beaten daily by whips, paddles, and canes. I was locked away from my sister, not knowing if she was suffering the same fate, praying that she wasn’t. They told me never to look at their faces, but I was punished daily for doing just that. I was determined to identify these monsters when I escaped, to put them behind bars so they could never again do this to another human being. They treated me like an animal, forced to eat and drink out of a bowl without using my hands, pee on a pad and the other in a litter box. The trainers only called me Pet, but I corrected them by saying, “My name is Ren, it is short for Serenity.” I was punished daily for this too. I needed to humanize myself to them in hopes that they would see the error of their ways. They are the worst kind of monsters, ones that don’t go away when you wake up from your nightmare. They saw me as an object for torture, slavery, and sex. This was not the life I planned for or would willingly accept.

I’d just graduated from college with my degree in Psychology, and I wanted to become a therapist. My sister Tori had one year to go for her Bachelors in Child Development, and she wanted to become a teacher. Our mother was a huge influence on us choosing our career paths because she was our high school student counselor. She loved helping people and always encouraged us to be kind and helpful to others.

My mother passed away four years ago, leaving my father a widower; we are all he has left. I can’t imagine what he is going through. My mom was his world; then she died of a brain aneurysm, and we took her place as his number one priority. He guided us, protected us and spoiled us. We are a middle-class family from Ocean Pines, Delaware that planned well for the future. My sister and I are driven and focused. Scholarships and savings have put us both through school.

I need to find my sister, and I need Derek to help me. Why did he leave me? Was it something I did? Maybe the prospect of dealing with someone so broken has become too overwhelming. My dad and I can pay for his help. He said he was a private investigator, isn’t that what they do?

Slowly, I pull myself together and jump through the six-man shower. I find boxers that I have to tie in a knot at the waist to keep them from falling off and grab another button down shirt from the closet. I like that I smell like him when I wear his clothes.

This house is so beautiful but scary when you’re alone. The gigantic windows have no blinds so anyone can see in from the forest that surrounds the house. I quickly move down the stairs and rush to the kitchen to find food; I am starving.

The workout last night probably burned more calories than a five-mile run. My cheeks heat at the memory of what we did. I can’t believe I gave my virginity to a complete stranger after saving it for all these years. Tori and I joked about who would lose it first except we were both waiting for “Mr. Right.” I have dated a lot but have never felt that kind of pull to any man. I am getting warm just thinking of the way he held me down. Remembering the look on his face when he swallows me as I scream in pleasure. The epic moment of his powerful thrust as he buries himself inside me. He was so patient as he waited for me to adjust. I am going to have a spontaneously combust just thinking of him and then I will forget to eat.

Moving through the spacious kitchen, I search every cupboard and only come up with soup, which I’m tired of eating, and canned ravioli. The basics in the fridge are beer, milk, butter, eggs, bread, jam, ketchup, and mustard. In the freezer, I find steaks, chicken, sausage, and cookie dough ice cream. Ravioli it is.

Halfway through my food, I hear a loud thump at the front door, then scraping sounds as if something is being dragged across the porch. I freeze and hold my breath. Have my kidnappers found me? Where did Derek go? I will die before they take me back. Grabbing a kitchen knife, I race up the stairs to the bedroom and crouch low in the closet under the hanging pants. I hover the razor sharp knife at my neck just in case I only have a second to react. Already knowing I am no match for the men who took me, slicing my throat will be my only option for freedom. I wait holding my breath.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Driving like a bat out of hell, I race up the mountain. After everything she has been through and if what Jax says is right, an absolute nightmare, I’m a grade “A” asshole for leaving her alone. Hopefully, Jax will be able to get me info on the missing girl from the house. At least now we have a lead we can work with. I have been too busy to look at missing persons and try to find a match. Having my dick think for me for the last week has left me feeling out of control. I have none when it comes to her.

I know I have been gone too long, but I want to check the crash site that Jax spoke of. What is the proximity of the wreckage site to the dirt road leading to my place? There is a steep decline on the opposite side of the road from my side except it wasn’t something I was looking for on my way up to my cabin, so I didn’t notice anything out of order. Passing my turnoff at least by a mile, I flip my truck around and drive slowly to look for signs of an accident.

Not twenty yards from my drive, I see skid marks and broken tree limbs leading down the hill. I pull over, jump out and run to the edge. Seeing a distinct path that smashed down the brush and broke trees, I slowly make my way down the hill. About half way down, I see a lot of blood in a body-sized area. At the bottom of the hill, small trees and bushes are smashed flat, probably compressed by a heavy object. This is probably where the car rested, but where is the car? I assume that someone took care of the dead guards that Jax spoke of because they have tried to clean up the area as if it never happened. The next rainstorm will wash away any remaining evidence left behind.

I scramble back up the steep hill, needing desperately to get back to her to make sure she is okay. If she is the missing girl and they haven’t found her dead, they will be looking for her, and I am the asshole who left her unprotected. Jumping in the truck, I race the 20 yards to my drive.

Turning down my road, I speed up while jerking my truck around through a few ruts. Right now I’m desperate to make sure she’s okay, so I don’t care about the abuse my truck is suffering. Have they found her? Am I too late?

The cabin is dark, and I see no movement through the windows. I pull out my .45 as I rush to the porch, tripping in my haste to get to the front door. My shoulder slams into the planter and moves it a foot. Lucky it was empty, or my shoulder would be broken or dislocated. I drag it back into place as I stand and head to the door. Listening for any sound of struggle or anything unfamiliar, it takes all my control not to rush in to make sure she is safe. I punch in my code and slowly ease the door open. As the door clicks shut behind me, I listen again for any signs of an intruder. I hear nothing, not even the sound of my guest. My stomach revolts. Am I too late? Did they get to her? Stealth be damned, I race for the stairs, climbing them three at a time and burst through my bedroom door to an empty room. “Oh God, no! No, no!”

Heading for the closet to grab my go bag, I open the door and stop dead in my tracks. She has a knife poised at her throat, and her hand is shaking so bad that I fear she will cut herself just from the movement. I did this to her. I have made her want to kill herself rather than be touched by me again. I am worse than the men who possibly abused her for weeks. At least they didn’t rape her. I took care of that all on my own.

Shame drags me to my knees as I set my gun to the side. “Please, Baby, put down the knife. I promise I won’t hurt you. I will take you to the nearest hospital to get help. I will leave you in safe hands and never bother you again if that’s what you want, but please just put away the knife. She shakes her head back and forth in a panic and blood trickles down the side of her neck to her collarbone. Once the sting registers she drops the knife and rushes me.

 

 

Ren

 

 

Derek has come back for me. I need him like I need my next breath. Maybe he thinks I’m dirty and doesn’t want me anymore; I will prove to him I’m not so he will keep me. After the memories came back in a flood, I couldn’t ever imagine being owned, but being owned by Derek would be my fairy tale. Jumbled thoughts keep racing through my head, making it impossible to think straight. His actions don’t match his words half the time. He says he’s going to leave me and never bother me again, but his intimate touches feel like he’s claimed me already. How do you release someone who you consider yours? The old adage, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back to you, they’re yours, if they don’t they never were,” does not apply to me. If he leaves me, I will break. In my panic, I shake my head and feel the slice of the knife into my skin then recoil, dropping the knife to the floor. I have to make him see reason. I will be better; I know who I am now.

I crawl as fast as I can and wrap my arms around him. He is caught off guard and falls back to the floor with me on top. “I am not dirty; they didn’t rape me.” I sob. “Please, I will be better, please don’t leave me again.” I don’t know if he can understand me through the sobbing, but I have to make him hear me. I scramble up his body to rain kisses down his face except he doesn’t move or reciprocate. He is frozen beneath me; I can’t even feel the rise and fall of his chest. Maybe I am too broken, and he doesn’t want someone so damaged. Embarrassment floods me, and I try to move off of him, but his hands grab my hips to hold me in place.

 

“Baby, you need to calm down,” he says. “I need you to take a few deep breaths and look into my eyes. That’s good, breathe in and out, in and out, there you go.”

As my heart rate slows, I realize that he still hasn’t moved, as if afraid any movement at all will send me into a tailspin. His deep blue eyes watch me warily. Humiliation intrudes again when it dawns on me that I am sitting on his groin, and I can feel his hard ridge between my thighs. My emotions and hormones are all over the place, and I can’t seem to control either one; maybe distance is necessary. Rising slowly, I wait as he stands to tower over me.

Even with his towering height and massive width, I feel safe with this man; craving him like no other before. He grabs my hand and tows me to the bed. Leaning down, he moves my hair away from my neck to check the cut. I open my mouth to tell him it’s okay, but the look he gives me shuts me up, and I lower my eyes to my lap. When he walks away, my mind knows he’s only going into the bathroom, but my heart clenches with agony that it symbolizes the final straw. If he sends me away, it’s because of my actions tonight; my irrational behavior just proves how unstable I am. Who does that? Who would contemplate suicide rather than be taken?

Realizing in that moment of weakness how selfish I had become overwhelms me with grief. Tears spill from my eyes at how ashamed I am of myself. I have left my sister to these monsters that abuse, rape, and sell women to other countries, instead of trying to figure out how to find and save her. In my moment of panic, I was willing to end it all before they touched me again. Oh my God! How long did he say I’ve been here? Was it eight or nine days? My sister could be long gone by now, sold, never to be found again. Being the big sister, I am supposed to protect her, and I’ve failed. Even with the beatings, car crash, and temporary memory loss, I am the lucky one. I’m free! Does she fight them as I did? Do they beat her daily for her defiance? Have they raped her to teach her a lesson in submission? I have so many questions and not enough time; I have to save my sister.

 

Derek

 

 

All trauma victims go through a series of emotions that usually end in shock. I can’t fault her for her erratic behavior, but right now my goal is to assess the damage first and beg for forgiveness later. I should have never left her, even for a little while, although I am relieved to have some new information. When I return to her side, the look on her face almost drags me to my knees right then. Wound first; kiss ass later.

 

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

Redemption:

[_ *the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. *the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

I don’t hear his footsteps but feel the light brush of his hand upon my shoulder. I can’t bring myself to look at him knowing that he is probably just as disappointed in me as I am in myself. How could he not be? I let him take my virginity without even knowing my name, and then I tried to kill myself instead of fight. He kneels in front of me and pushes my hair behind my shoulder to place a wet washcloth at my neck. He works silently to apply ointment on my cut and cover it with a bandage. When he’s done, he lifts my chin with his fingers to look me in the eyes. I’m sure he’s trying to assess how sane I am.

“Ren,” at his puzzled look I continue. “Serenity, Ren for short. I remember things,” I blurt out, “and before I forget, I need to tell you what I know so we can help my sister, Tori; she won’t have much time. There was a car crash, and that is the only reason I am free now. They were tired of trying to break me, so instead of explaining their poor choice of female, they were selling me, not to one of their usual buyers but someone in Canada. If only I would’ve cooperated I could still be with Tori. Oh my God! What have I done? She is alone and innocent, and I left her there. We have to go back; we have to get her out of there.”

 

“Slow down, Baby. Take a deep breath.”

 

 

When he thinks I am relatively calm, he stands and holds out his hand. I reach up and place my fingers on his so he can pull me up. He grabs a blanket off the end of the bed and wraps it around me, using it to pull me close to his body.

 

 

“Let’s go down into the living room and sit by the fire. You are shaking like a leaf.”

 

 

He seems to be uncomfortable in the bedroom where we shared the most amazing night of my life, but apparently, it was not his. Could I be more humiliated?

He leads and I follow, more comfortable with him than I have been with anyone ever, even though I feel as if another shoe is about to drop. He places me in the center of the sofa and turns to start a fire. I watch in amazement as the stretch of his t-shirt glides across his broad back. His biceps bulge as he easily throws logs on to ignite. I am becoming exceedingly warm even without the fire. How will I survive it if he truly sends me away from him? I know it is too soon, but I think I am in love with this man. Not only did he save my life; this man has given me pleasure beyond my wildest dreams.

As he turns to me, his look of concern does not bode well. He thinks I’m crazy and probably can’t wait to get rid of this burden regardless of the intimacy that we’ve shared. He walks slowly to the couch as if afraid I will spook. I drop my eyes to my lap. I’m afraid he will look into my eyes and see how vulnerable I am. I am probably needier than anyone he has ever come across, and he is trying to figure out a way to break it to me gently. He carefully places his hand under my knees with the other one at my lower back and lifts me into his arms. Turning slowly, he settles into the corner of the couch. Spreading his legs, he places me in the V of his thighs and pulls my body into his chest. Wrapping his arms softly around me, he sighs and kisses the top of my head.

 

 

Derek

 

 

  I have done more damage to this woman than the bastards who took her. I can’t control my hormones around her. Hell, I can’t even control my thoughts or actions. I claimed her the moment I found her; she wasn’t given a choice. She was half dead and unconscious. The second she showed any strength, I took what she had saved for someone special. Her begging and little moans were my undoing, and I took advantage of her submissive nature. She is confused−probably scared to death. She thinks of me as her hero, and I capitalized on her vulnerability and innocence. Then to top it all off, leaving her alone, even if it was just a few hours could have caused me to lose her. I can’t imagine how crazy I would have become if I discovered that those bastards had found her again and she was lost to me forever.

In just a week she has become ‘my everything.’ I need to make it up to her and convince her to stay. Promise her that I will take it slow until she trusts me fully. Wishing I were a better man to release her if that is what she wants is just that, wishing. I have never contemplated keeping a woman, although now I can’t imagine my life without her. I lost my parents at a young age, but if I lose her, it will destroy me. At thirty-one I have discovered love at first sight and my Happily Ever After. Now I just have to convince her that I will do everything in my power to make it her Happily Ever After as well.

As I sit on the couch with her soft, fragile body nestled into my crotch, it takes all of my willpower to keep from pressing my body into hers. I am hard as nails and feel as though I need to be inside the cocoon of her body to assure myself she is safe and real and mine. My thoughts are like a freight train leading nowhere but to having her bound and helpless for my pleasure and hers. I need to get on track to discovering the mystery of Ren.

“Baby, listen, I want you to take it slow and tell me as much as you remember. I have information myself that I need to discuss with you so let us just take this one step at a time, so you are not overwhelmed.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

I have never felt as safe as I do right now while snuggled into his body. Unfortunately, the feeling of coming home when I am with him might come to an abrupt end due to my actions. I need to find a way to convince him to keep me after he helps me find my sister. I move to sit up, but he just pulls me closer.

 

 

“Stay.” Not a request. “I need to feel you while we talk.”

 

 

What will he think of my crazy story? There’s only one way to find out. “My name is Serenity James, but my family and friends call me Ren. My Dad is probably worried sick and my sister Victoria was taken at the same time I was. It was her 21st birthday, and I convinced her to go to this bar with me to celebrate. Dad asked us not to go; he was worried about us being out late. We are all he has.” My voice quivers as I choke back a sob. Derek just pulls me closer, so there is no space between our bodies, and it encourages me to continue. “We were outside waiting for the cab when I was approached by a businessman who asked for a light. As I was digging in my purse, some guy attacked my sister, and when I went to help her, I was knocked out too.” Derek’s body stiffens, I’m sure imagining the worst. “I think they used chloroform on rags, so we passed out quickly; the violence came later.

My days blurred together. They kept me in a room with no windows and left the light on all the time. It seemed like every day they would come in and give me orders, and when I didn’t obey they would hit me with paddles, canes, and whips. They called me Pet and would only feed me like an animal. I defied them every day and was beaten for my insolence. The tattooed guy kept telling me that if I didn’t comply, I would be caged daily and only brought out for someone to…. you know.” He stiffens again and holds me even tighter. “Anyway, I assume eight or nine days ago the tattooed guy knocked me out, and when I woke up, I was in a car. The guy driving and the tattooed guy were arguing about who they were selling me to, and the next thing I know the car flipped and I was knocked out again. You said you found me on your dirt road, but I don’t know what happened between the wreck and you finding me. I faintly remember lying on the ground, cold and in pain, but I couldn’t move. I thought I was dead but didn’t make it to Heaven. When I finally came to, it was to my own personal savior.” I want to face him as I say the next part, so I turn a little, and he loosens his hold so I can maneuver myself to my knees. I sit on my heels and place my hands on his chest. “I will never be able to thank you enough for saving me. I don’t believe in coincidences so it can only be fate that brought me to you at that moment. Knowing that God sent you to me as my personal savior is the only thing that has put my mind at ease.” When he went to protest, I placed my finger to his lips. “Please let me say this. I know at the time that we did,” I pause flushing to the roots of my hair, “you know?”

 

 

“Made love.” He said with conviction.

 

 

“Yes, I really didn’t know who I was.” He winces, and I can’t tell if that was from regret, but I have to say the rest. “I want you to know that it was the most beautiful experience of my life and I wouldn’t change it. I am so glad that the choice was not taken from me by those monsters.”

His face pales, and I realize that it was not as beautiful for him as it was for me. He doesn’t want to say it because he doesn’t want to hurt me, but my heart breaks into a million pieces. Needing to be alone, I move to stand, but his hands grip my waist to hold me in place. Tears pool in my eyes and begin flowing down my cheeks like a river. I am so embarrassed that I poured my heart out to him only to be rejected. I felt a connection to him that was not reciprocated, and talking is not going to fix my humiliation, except he won’t let me go.

 

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

Enlighten:

[_ *give greater knowledge and understanding about a subject or situation. *shed light on. *give spiritual knowledge or insight. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Baby, I can see by your face that you are drawing the wrong conclusion, so we are staying on this couch until we have an understanding, okay?”

I am in shock with her thinking error, but I have done that to her. She believes she made the choice to make love to me; that is definitely not the case. I am that monster who took what she saved. I took advantage of her weakness and vulnerability to take what I wanted, what I consider mine. I am a selfish bastard but plan on spending the rest of my life making it up to her. I will also fix her other thinking errors right now.

“Ren, listen to me. From the moment I found you on the road, you were mine. I didn’t give you a choice; at the time, there was none. I have tried to reason with myself over my obsession to possess you, and I can’t come up with anything logical. You make me crazy, illogical, horny, and scared shitless all at once. My need for you is overwhelming. I can’t get enough; if I had my way I would keep you tied to my bed naked, day in and day out. I think my hormones took over when I put you in my tub; I am a walking hard on. Don’t think that what we shared was not amazing for me, or the best experience of my life because it was. I should have taken you to get help when I found you, but I couldn’t bring myself to let you go even for a minute. I forced you to submit to me; I forced you to say you wanted me, regardless of your emotional state. My need for you was so great that I was no longer thinking. Hell, even now I think my brain has checked out leaving my heart and dick to do the thinking for me.” She giggles and her face lights up like an angel.

‘When you were crying out this morning, I thought you were having a dream about me, regretting what we had done. My guilt and shame for taking advantage of you were so great that I needed to go to a friend for advice. I’m so sorry I left like that. In the future, if either one of us is assuming the worst; we need to talk it through. I know this sounds crazy, but I love you, Ren. I have never felt like this for anyone in my thirty-one years and will never feel like this for anyone but you. You are everything I didn’t know I wanted or thought I couldn’t have. I need you, and I don’t want to live without you.”

For the second time that day she lunged for me. Wrapping her arms around my neck, she fuses her lips to mine while her body lies flush on me.

 

 

Ren

 

 

After that heartfelt speech, I realize that this amazing hero of mine thinks he didn’t give me a choice. He will beat himself up for the rest of his life if I don’t correct his own thinking error. I don’t have a lot of experience with men, especially not in the intimate setting; however, I know this man would never do anything to hurt me or take away my choices.

I remember bits and pieces of the last week and never once did this man take advantage of me. He cared for and nursed me back to health. He whispered encouraging words into my ears while holding me every night while I slept. I don’t think, no I know, I would not be in the same healed condition I am in today if I had spent the last week in the hospital. His very personal attention, after what I had just been through, I believe, is what brought me back not only physically but mentally as well. This man of mine needs to know that he is my choice, has been my choice since the moment I awoke.

“I need to take you, Derek. Tell me you want this as much as I do.” Sitting back, I work frantically to undo his pants. As soon as the zipper is down, I realize that he has gone commando and that is so sexy. Warmth floods me as I feel my wetness on his boxers that I wear. I look up to see his clipped nod. “I need the words, Baby.” He smirks at my theft of his words.

 

 

“God yes, Ren. I want this, I need this, Baby.”

 

 

I have no sexual experience, except for what we have done already, but he senses my reluctance and takes the lead. I have given him the green light, so he grabs my waist and lifts me over his legs to place me on his lap. The boxers I wear prove to be no barrier for his seeking touch. Regardless of our desperation for each other, this amazing, controlling, dominant man, is going to let me set the pace. He needs this from me. He needs to know that it is my choice and not some messed up version of sexual coercion he has going on in his head.

I lean forward, softly press my lips to his and slowly lower my hips. I am home. This is heaven, and I will happily die here with this man.

 

 

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Frantic:

[_ *distraught with fear, anxiety, or other emotion. *conduct in a hurried, and disorganized way. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

I jolt awake with pain flashing through my body and scream out, “please no more.” Arms like steel wrap around me pulling me closer to a warm body. I struggle to get away until I hear the deep timber of his voice. My eyes focus, and I realize that I am in Derek’s bed. He must have carried me up here after we made love on the couch.

 

“Sshhh, Baby, it’s just a bad dream. I’ve got you; you’re safe.”

 

Like an order I have no will to defy, my body instantly melts into his side. Tears leak from my eyes and soak into his skin, but he makes no move to push me away, even though I am getting him wet, and not in the good way. After a minute of letting me get my bearings, he slowly pulls me up his body, tilts my head back, and presses his lips softly to mine.

How did I get so lucky? Things could be so bad for me right now, but fate has brought me this man. I stiffen as I realize once again I am selfish. I bask in the glow of this amazing man while my sister’s life is in peril. When he realizes something is wrong, he pulls back, and those amazing blue eyes beg me to tell him what I’m thinking.

“Derek, my sister, we have to save my sister. I left her there, and she could be gone by now. They do unspeakable things to women. At this very moment, as I am at peace and safe with the man of my dreams, she is probably being tortured and raped. She will break.” I start to sob uncontrollably. “You have given me so much, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I can’t help her without you. These men are dangerous and carry guns, and the thought of putting you in danger is unbearable. We need to go to the police to get help. There are many guards; only two were in constant contact with me. However, I remember many different voices. I know there are more women too. I remember hearing them quietly cry as if they didn’t want to be heard being weak, except I could hear them through the walls. Oh God, please we have to hurry!”

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Ren, calm down and listen carefully. I have a friend in the FBI. Yesterday, when I left you alone for a couple of hours, I went to meet him. With my job as a private investigator, Jax and I have worked several cases together throughout the years. I was going to have him check missing person’s files and see if he could find out anything about you. I trust him with my life, and I trust him with yours as well.” The look of panic on her face is what I put there by my own selfish actions. A misunderstanding I will correct right now. “Look at me, Baby. Don’t get the wrong idea or we are going to have a come to Jesus talk next. You are mine, mine to protect, mine to make love to and only mine to love. I will never trust your safety solely to someone else; however, I do trust Jax to help me keep you safe. He would never betray me, and I’m not just going to leave you with someone else unless I have no other choice. Do you understand me?”

Once she relaxed and quit letting her thoughts go in all directions, she finally nods her head. “I am going to send him a picture of you so he can check the database for me. I don’t want to involve too many people in case someone is watching for a search on you. Depending on the kind of connections your kidnappers have, they may be searching hospitals, clinics and also missing person searches.” Now that I know what happened to her, it confirms my gut instinct of keeping her hidden.

“Jax is undercover and being placed as a guard in a house that keeps women they abduct until they find buyers. He knew about the theft from the house and also that two guards were found dead, but the product was not. Product meaning you.” She jerked back to look at my face, trying to determine if I thought so little of women. I crack a smile at my fierce little hellcat. “There’s my little fighter; I knew she was in there somewhere. No, Ren, I do not think so little of women or people in general. These monsters that take women use these terms to disconnect from humanity. You are nothing to them but a commodity, so instead of calling you women or girls they refer to you as product.

Jax is aware of the situation, and he knows a little about you. I didn’t know about your sister at the time, so I will have to get the info to him soon. He is going into the house on Friday, and I need to get him a picture of you. Do you have social media or an email that may have family pictures of the two of you?” Now that we know who you are, we can work on saving your sister.

 

 

 

Chapter Twelve

 

Protection:

[_ *the action of protecting, or the state of being protected. *keep safe from harm or injury. *restrict access to or use of. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

At the mention of family, thoughts of my dad crash into my mind. He must be so worried. “Derek. My dad! He has to be sick with worry. We lost my mom a few years ago, and we are all he has left. Please, we have to contact my dad too,” I sob. “Can I use your phone? I need to call him.” Then remembering something the tattooed guy said once. “Derek, the guy who beat me said he had watched us for months and knew we would be perfect candidates. He told me that they wanted virgins and he never saw us go out. Is it possible that he could know my dad or us? Could my dad be in danger as well? Why were they watching us?” I feel a full-blown panic attack coming on, but Derek seems to read me like a book and rolls me to my back.

 

 

Derek

 

 

I know at any moment she is going to start hyperventilating, so I roll her underneath me and straddle her thighs. I grip both wrists in one hand pinning them above her head. I hate to use her hormones as my personal weapon, but that seems to be the only thing that helps her mind become blank. I smash my lips to hers and kiss her like it’s our last time. She immediately relaxes beneath me becoming warm and liquid. As the tension leaves her body, I see that as my cue to finish our conversation.

“Ren, listen to me.” Her eyes are heavy, but I have her attention now. “If what you say is true about them watching you, there is a possibility that they do know your dad. It is also possible that if they think for even one second that you got away, your dads will be the first place you would run to, so they will be watching. They may have the house bugged just waiting for the call. I know you want to put him at ease, but it will only be temporary relief. Right now he only knows you are missing, which is horrible for any parent. If you show up without Tori, he is going to want to know what happened to you both. Are you prepared to tell him and have him imagine what is still happening to her? I am not a parent, but if they got to you again, I don’t know how sane I would be once I found you. Believe me; I would find you or die trying. Your dad will be no different.”

Tears are pooling in her eyes to run down her temples and disappear into her soft chocolate waves. I know her mind is trying to find a way around the truth but coming up empty.

Letting her dad or the press know she is alive is the worst possible thing we could do. Not only would it put her in more danger, but Tori as well. They would move the holding house rather than take the risk that Ren might be able to find it. They are probably still looking for proof of life, and until they find her body, they won’t stop looking and risk exposing their multi-billion dollar operation. Alerting anyone of her whereabouts will just ramp up the kidnapper’s efforts to find her.

“Jax is going in to help these women. If he can find your sister, he will protect her with his life. When she is home safe, we will bring your dad here where it is safe from prying eyes. Then you can decide how much to tell him. As a man, I know it would crush me to know that someone in my care went through something like this; that I didn’t protect what’s mine.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

Fire boils in my veins. “Now wait just a damn minute, Derek Mason. Don’t ever say that my dad did not protect us. He is the most wonderful father a girl could ask for. He worked hard and planned for our future. When my mom died, we thought it would break him, but he kept going just for us. He loves us; he provided for us, he…he…begged us not to go!” Violent sobs break from my chest. Oh God, why didn’t I listen to him? It will kill him to know that we were tortured. Derek is right, even though it is not my dad’s fault, he will shoulder the blame.

How do I hide this from him? He will know I’m different. I have nightmares, and every time I fall asleep I feel blows that are no longer there. How long before they go away, what if they never do? I am jumpy and afraid to be alone. I have always trusted people. I enjoy my own quiet time. I would to sit in a park and read a book while sneaking peaks at the children playing. Never once did I feel like I should be watching over my shoulder with a need to protect my back. I am afraid that those carefree days are gone, and I am heartbroken over that fact.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Wow, I have never seen so many emotions play over someone’s face in a matter of two minutes. Every one of Ren’s expressions is beautiful. She is a firecracker and fiercely protective of those she loves. I am looking forward to being one of those people, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to deserve it.

“Ren, I didn’t mean to imply that your dad failed you. It’s just, as a male, we take protecting what belongs to us very seriously. Hell, dogs pee on everything just so other male dogs will stay away. I am pretty sure cats do the same thing even though I’ve never had any. I read somewhere that lions and large felines would pee boundary lines to warn others away. Gorillas beat their chests and roar out to scare away competition and predators. We are all primitive in some way with a fierce need to protect and mark what’s ours. I didn’t mean to upset you or make you angry, but I have to say it is kind of sexy. Let’s just hope for my sake that we don’t have any daughters because there will be no rules to follow when protecting my family. It will be my pleasure watching you be the momma bear to our boys.”

Holy shit! Did that just come out of my mouth? I wink at her to lighten the mood, but she still stares at me in shock. Is she recalling both times that I have marked her or the fact that I didn’t protect her from pregnancy either time? Just thinking of the possibility of her carrying my child has me excited.

She’s only wearing my button up shirt that has risen to her upper thighs. After making love on the couch last night, I stripped off my two-day old clothes and just carried her to bed, so I am still completely naked. As I crouch over her, still holding her down, she seems to follow my train of thought and casts her eyes down my body. I am learning that I have no control over that appendage around Ren. She might as well consider me her sex slave.

The pleasure we have found in each other is explosive, and she can’t seem to control her desire either. I hope she never will. I plan to spend many hours connected to that sweet little body. She was made for me. Her body surrounds mine like the best pair of leather gloves, the kind that feels like a second skin. Ren is my second skin. Now I have to convince her to stay once this ordeal is over and she and her sister are safe.

Her eyes have darkened to emeralds, and from her chest up there is a rosy glow that flushes her skin. Her legs press to the inside of mine and urge me to lift one and then the other, so I am now kneeling between her thighs. I reach down with one hand and undo the buttons of my shirt she is wearing, exposing perfect breasts and all that creamy skin. I am in awe of this woman. How the hell she has remained single is beyond my comprehension. She slides her arms from my shirt and reaches for me. There are no words needed, just a dance of two bodies, hearts, and souls who need to come together. The ecstasy of this moment is so great I feel like I’m taking her for the first time all over again. It takes everything I have to go slow.

 

 

Ren

 

 

“Please,” this man is so beautiful, how did I ever get so lucky? My eyes are misting up, and I’m afraid he thinks I’m upset. These tears are happy tears, but how do I get him to be himself; to take what he needs from me if he thinks he’s hurting me? “Derek, I need you, all of you. I don’t want you to hold back because you think I’m too fragile. I may have been, but you have brought me back a stronger, fiercer, loved woman. I want all you need to give me. I need to know I’m giving to you in return. That is how I will repay you for your kindness.”

The look on his face tells me that I have said the wrong thing, but what? I think he is counting to ten to get his temper in check; like taking time out before scolding a petulant child.

 

 

Derek

 

 

“God Dammit, Ren! This is not about a payment you feel you owe. I need you! I want you more than I wanted the newest Star Wars action figure when I was 10. I love you like I have never loved anyone. Even before I knew your name, I knew you were mine. I didn’t nurse you back to health for payment of some debt you think you owe. How many ways can I say it, Baby, you’re it for me. I don’t need months of courtship or a long engagement to prepare for a lifetime commitment, Ren. I…Love…You! I want to grow old with you, have babies with you and spend the rest of my life trying to deserve you. Marry me?…Those better be happy tears since I’m not taking no for an answer.” Almost reverently she whispers,

 

 

Yes.”

 

 

I fuse my mouth to hers and make love to my fiancé. I hope and pray that the more time I spend with her and am sated by her, that my endurance will last a little longer. Holy shit, I can’t control myself either.

 

 

 

Chapter Thirteen

 

Committed:

[_ *in or denoting a long-term emotional relationship. *pledge or bind a person or an organization to a certain course. *be dedicated to something. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

It is mid-morning by the time I find the energy to stretch. The morning plays over in my mind, and I can’t process how fast I went from being a captive for a week to rescued and engaged−in what, ten days? What would my dad and sister think? You are bat-shit crazy, is what they would say. This is the most impulsive thing I have ever done and was definitely not part of my life plan, but being kidnapped and tortured wasn’t either.

Of course, I wanted to get married and have kids someday, but that came after finding the perfect job. I needed to be independently stable for my peace of mind. Wow! Life throws you through a loop, knocks you down, picks you up but puts you on a different path. I am astounded by how accepting and at peace I am with this new path.

Not that I can’t still have a career but now using my degree to help battered women seems much more gratifying than teaching Psychology in a stuffy classroom. Maybe once we rescue my sister and the other women, Derek and I can set up a safe house to transition the women back into the real world of normal people, away from monsters.

The concept of “Monster’s” has become a different realization for me. When I was young, my sister and I feared the monsters under the bed. We used to jump from our beds to the light switch, so we didn’t have to touch the floor by our beds. In our teens, we feared Jason from Friday the 13th, Freddy Kruger with blades for fingers and ghosts you couldn’t see but could hurt you if they wanted to. Never did we think that we walk among monsters daily, or that being in the wrong place at the wrong time would become our own personal nightmare.

Derek said Jax is going into one of these types of houses tomorrow. It definitely sounds like the same house I was in. It can’t be a coincidence with the missing girl and dead guards. I need to convince Derek to let me help get my sister out and save the other women. It is my fault that we ended up in this mess, and I need to be a part of fixing it. I just don’t think Derek will be too keen on the idea.

 

 

Derek

 

 

I need to get up and call Jax. He needs this new information about Ren’s sister. I am feeling like the worst selfish bastard. I know that once we know whether or not Tori is in the house, Ren will stop at nothing to get her out. Her focus will be on Tori, and I’m afraid this happy little family bubble will burst. Ren will truly never be happy until her sister is safe and they are both reunited with their dad. I will do anything to make her happy even at the risk of losing her or not having her all to myself.

“Baby, I need to get up and call Jax. Why don’t you go take a long hot bath and then meet me downstairs for some breakfast.” She nods her head and looks at me shyly as if looking for confirmation that everything that has transpired is real. I kiss her forehead, her nose and then her soft lips. “I love you, Ren. Everything is going to turn out just fine.”

Sliding out of bed, I head for the closet. Still sitting on the floor in the doorway is my gun and under my pants sits the kitchen knife. I quickly snatch up the two and hide them from Ren’s view, so they don’t remind her of that trauma. I place them in the safe and lock it back up. Grabbing a pair of sweats and slipping them on, I stroll out to see her rising from the bed naked. Damn, I am one lucky son of a bitch. She looks embarrassed as she rushes to the bathroom and closes the door softly.

I chuckle to myself. I will give her a reprieve now, but she will learn that she is mine, and I will have access anytime I want, as will she. We may as well get used to being naked with each other; it will happen often.

Quickly moving down the stairs, I head to the kitchen. I only brought a few necessities when I came up here and grabbed a few others while waiting for my meeting with Jax. Her diet that has consisted of chicken broth and Jell-O is not much to sustain anyone. She will need to start off with soft and easy to digest foods, so she doesn’t get sick. I settle on scrambled eggs with toast with coffee.

 

 

Ren

 

 

This tub is heaven. The surrounding jets are placed in just the right spots to rub out any sore areas someone may have. The controls let you focus on just your back, feet, or any specific area, or they can all be on to create a Jacuzzi effect. I reach for the shampoo, and my only option is Suave plus conditioner, and the only soap is Dial. All his I’m assuming. I’m just glad he didn’t bring me leftover products from a previous lover that left them behind. I stay in until my fingers and toes are all pruney then rinse off and climb out. Wrapping a towel around my body plus one around my hair, I move out of the bathroom and into the closet. I grab another t-shirt and a pair of boxers that I have to tie in a knot. I need to get my own clothes. Not that I mind wearing his, but it’s not like I can go into public dressed like this. I move back to the bathroom to hang my towels, comb out my hair, then pinch my cheeks a little to give me some color. I haven’t seen the sun in weeks. In my normal life, I spend time in the sun then throw on a little mascara, and I’m good to go. I guess he has seen me at my worst and still wants me desperately, so I’m okay with being a plain Jane.

The smell drifting up from the kitchen has me hurrying down the stairs. I stare in wonder at the incredible man standing at the cooktop. He is shirtless, and his pants hang low to show off that perfect V that leads like an arrow to heaven. My fiancé, I can’t believe my luck. You would think that during four years of college and the few clubs and bars I’ve been to, I would have found someone in my twenty-three years; but no, I find mister right on a mountain 20 miles from civilization.

Stepping quietly into the kitchen, I sit down at the breakfast bar to watch him work. The stool creaks a little under pressure, and he lifts his head and smiles at me. Holy crap! That is the first full-blown smile I’ve seen. Why the hell is this man still single? That smile is what women write sonnets about, that body too. Who wouldn’t want to come to breakfast with that view every day?

He scoops scrambled eggs onto a plate with toast and sets it in front of me, along with salt and pepper, butter, coffee, cream, and sugar. “I need to make some calls. Eat what you can and come to my office.” He kisses me softly and walks toward the living room. Office? I turn to see where he is going just as a panel at the end of the bookcase opens up like a doorway and he walks inside. Wow! A hidden room, like a panic room, that’s so cool.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Shana is going to kick my ass for staying out of touch, but we didn’t have any cases, so I took a little more time off. She still opens the office to answer phones and help walk-ins, but since she hasn’t called me either, I assume business is slow. On the third ring, she answers in her southern drawl.

 

“Mason PI, how may I help you?”

 

 

“Shana, honey, it’s Derek. How are things on the home front?”

 

 

“Derek, you sweet thang, it’s so nice of you to let me know you didn’t fall off the face of the earth. It’s not like I worry about you considerin’ my daddy an all, but it’s whatever.”

 

Oh, she is pissed! She only uses sarcasm and guilt when pissed. When she hears that she will be $5000 richer for winning our bet, maybe she’ll ease up somewhat. She is only 5’2” with milk chocolate skin and kinky black hair plaited into a million tiny braids all over her head. She wraps it around a ponytail on the top of her head, but there is so much of it that it looks like a messy honeycomb. She is 55 years old but has very few wrinkles, except for the two lines between her eyes when she looks down at me. I am 6’3”, and that woman can look down on anyone. She is fierce!

“Ahh Honey, don’t be mad. I have good news for you. But first, did you run an ad to find me a partner? I’m gonna need one because I will be tied up with another case for a while.

 

“Case, what case? We have nothin’ on the books.”

 

 

“I know, but it’s of a more personal nature, which brings me to the second thing; I met a woman.”

 

 

“Huh?” I chuckle at her gasp.

 

 

Ahh, Sweetie, you meet lots of women, just none you want to keep.”

 

 

“That’s the thing, Shana, this one I’m not going to let get away. She’s in a little trouble, and I need to be with her right now−for how long I don’t know. I will transfer the $5000 I owe into your account, and maybe you could take a little vacation too.”

Shana and I had a ridiculous bet. She said, “Someday a woman will come along that you won’t be able to walk away from.” So I said, “Wanna bet?” hence the $5000.

 

“Now, Derek, you know that was just a play bet. I would never expect to hold you to that deal.”

 

“Nope, a deals a deal, plus you have more than earned it. Just lock up shop and put a phone number on the door for emergencies. Visit those grandbabies in Georgia. They need their Grandma. Oh, and Shana, plan for another vacation to the Bahamas. When things settle down, I’m getting married.” Before she can lecture me on “this is too soon,” I hang up and dial Jax.

 

 

Chapter Fourteen

 

Distraction:

[_ *a diversion or recreation. *a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else. *extreme agitation of the mind. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

I look up to see Ren shyly standing in the doorway. Scooting my chair back, I pat my lap and motion her over. This experience is so new to her, and I am sure I’m an overwhelming, possessive bastard, but I just want her with me all the time. Even before I knew her, I came close to losing her. I just need to touch her to assure myself that she is real and safe.

She walks to me slowly, glancing around as if to take it all in. My dad’s old mahogany desk sits in the center with a wall of family photos to my right. To the left, a large screen TV is mounted on the wall. Behind me is another desk that holds a police scanner and a second computer monitor. Just beyond that are six monitors mounted to the wall that shows sections of my property. The images scroll through about 20 different viewpoints. The cameras in the house are off while I’m here, but when I’m not, they run 24/7 with remote access. She looks around for another chair. No one but me has ever been here, so there has never been a need for more seating. Smirking at the look of confusion on her sweet face, I pat my lap again. Slowly she moves to stand before me, a little hesitant, so I pull her down onto my lap. She sighs a deep breath and settles in close to my chest. It will take time for her to adjust to being mine; I have all the time in the world.

Just realizing that I was in the process of calling Jax but didn’t hear him answer or even pay attention to voicemail, I hang up and dial again. Damn this woman is distracting. We’re sorry this number is no longer in service, is the message I get. Jax has had that number since I met him years ago, so this is disturbing. I know he is going undercover, but he has never shut down his phone before. Shit! How will I reach him to tell him about Tori and Ren? Hanging up, I call his office line.

 

 

“Savage speaking.”

 

 

“Hey Troy, this is Derek Mason. I’m trying to reach Jax, do you know where I can find him?”

 

 

“No, sorry Derek, he is on three months leave, no forwarding info.”

 

 

“Yeah, I knew he would be out of touch, but I thought he was leaving tomorrow.”

 

 

“Yeah, that was the plan, but last night we were having drinks at Cutters when he got a text, chugged his beer and said, see ya when I see ya then walked out. I was told this morning by Director Matthews that he is gone and don’t ask questions. Sorry man, I don’t have any information to give ya.”

 

 

“No Problem, I don’t know much either. Only that he was leaving Friday, but if he checks in with you, have him call me a.s.a.p. Okay?” We agree to keep in touch and hang up.

Damn, I wonder if there were problems with the house he was going into. Now it is too late for me to tell him about Tori. How the hell do I break the news to Ren? Jax was our only possible connection to her.

Ren is staring at me with those big green eyes, pleading for any information on her sister. “Baby, I believe Jax has gone into the house early so I couldn’t get him the information on your sister.” Her hopeful expression turns destitute, and my heart breaks for her. “Listen, Baby, Jax will get every last one of the women you spoke of out of there. He is good at what he does and pays attention to detail. The morning I met with him, I told him a little about you. I gave him a brief description so he could check the missing person’s database for me. If he found you, he would also find Tori since you are both listed as missing and sisters. We will just have to trust that he will help her. Let’s give him a week or two, and if you remember something crucial that will help speed the process, I’ll call Jax’s boss.

 

 

Ren

 

 

Chanting over and over again in my head, I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, doesn’t ease my anxiety. Being useless and helpless is not a feeling I like. We were held captive, but I don’t know where. We were taken there unconscious and never left the house to get our bearings of where we were. Hell, I didn’t even know we were in a house. They kept me in a room with four walls and a floor; it could have been a warehouse for all I knew. When they took me from the house, I was unconscious again and woke up to see a winding road and a lot of trees right before the crash.

In the house, I only saw two faces but heard the voices of many. How is one man going to save all those women? I know there is nothing I can do, but I can’t stand doing nothing.

We need food, and I need clothes. I need to convince Derek to take me shopping and will pay him back when I can reclaim my identity and go home. Maybe that will take my mind off of this horrible situation, if only for a minute. He seems to read my mind before I can say anything.

 

 

“Let’s go upstairs and get ready. We are going into town to get supplies and clothing for you. Even though I would like to keep you naked, I will give you time to come to terms with some of my demands.”

 

He winks; I don’t know if he’s kidding or not. “I don’t mind staying naked if you stay naked too.” He burst out laughing. I was serious, but I will give him time to come to terms with some of my demands.

Keeping my t-shirt on, I add a pair of his sweatpants that are way too big to my ensemble. I have no shoes either, so I am wearing his thick wool socks. They feel like walking on pillows, so I’m okay with that for a little while. I look like a kid trying to wear her dad’s clothes, which my sister did when we were little. I would wear my mom’s clothes, and we would put on plays for my parents of our version of “Happily Ever After.”

We leave the house through the kitchen and into a garage where there is a red truck parked. He opens my door and lifts me inside, but before I can turn and face forward, he steps in between my legs. He kisses me, softly as he wraps his arms around my waist to pull us closer together. So much is being said in that one little kiss. He loves me and will protect me, and he wants to reassure me of that. He can probably tell that I’m a little nervous about seeing people. I wouldn’t recognize anyone from the house but by voice alone. The only two guards I had seen during my time there are dead.

“Derek, when we leave, can you show me where you found me and also where the crash was? I’m hoping maybe it will jog my memory and put the puzzle pieces together of how I made it to your road.” He stiffens as if not liking being reminded of that day, but nods his head and walks around the truck to get in.

We travel for about a half a mile before he stops and points out where he found me. Even though it is morning, the denseness of the trees overshadows this area leaving it a little dark. I have a flashback of lying on a hard surface freezing, and a shiver runs down my spine. He reaches over and grabs my hand to give me comfort, warming me right back up. A little further up, we come to a two lane paved road and turn right. He only goes about 40 yards, flips a U-turn in the road, pulls up a little further and moves to the side.

 

“Do you want to get out? There isn’t much to see other than broken trees. They came and cleaned up the accident as if it never happened.”

 

 

The idea of those monsters being so close to Derek’s home, and in turn close to me, makes me a little sick. Nodding my head, he gets out and moves around to my side to help me down. Standing there staring down the hillside, a memory flashes in my mind. I am crying and cold. The driver stares sightlessly out the nonexistent windshield. I don’t know the time, but I know not to be in this forest alone when it is dark. Crawling out of the car, not being careful of the glass and getting cut along the way, is not the best move, but I am desperate to get away from the smell of death. My head hurts so bad that black spots swim in my vision. Seeing the damaged path the car traveled, I realize I am going to have to climb that hill. The pain is everywhere, and I seem to be bleeding from every body part. I start to crawl up the hill only to be stopped by the body of the tattooed guy. I sob uncontrollably, knowing that I have to crawl over him because the trees are dense and I don’t see any other way around him. Making my way over his body, I turn around on my butt to look at this man who has tortured me for a week. I kick him in the head for good measure. It seemed to take forever to make it to the road, but it doesn’t feel safe there either. What if the others come looking for us and there I lay in plain sight? With that thought in mind, I roll and crawl to a dirt road, moving out of sight until I feel that I’m safe, at least for a little while so that I can rest.

It all seems like a really bad dream. But then I awoke from my nightmare to my savior. I realize that he is standing behind me with his arms wrapped around my body keeping me warm, while tears stream down my face. He kisses the top of my head.

 

 

“Come on, Baby, you’re safe, no more bad dreams for you.” He leads me back to the truck.

 

 

Chapter Fifteen

 

Rejuvenation:

[_ *the action or process of making someone or something look or feel better, younger, or more vital. *the action of restoring to a better condition. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

The road down the mountain is peaceful, but the tense set of her shoulders tells me she remembers something. “Baby, what is it? You can tell me anything, and I will help you get through it.” She proceeds to tell me about the crash and her climb to safety. I am sick to my stomach that any woman would have to endure such cruelty, let alone try to figure out how to survive in the forest at night. We laugh together at the kick to the head of the dead guard. It’s a good sign that she can make light of a very bad situation.

We pass through a few small towns on our way to Hartford. It is closer than Boston, Massachusetts where I live and work, so that is where we are shopping today. I plan to pamper her; I hope to take her mind off her situation for a minute.

There is a quaint boutique in Hartford where I have purchased some gifts for women with the help of Sarah, the shop owner. Sarah is a beautiful woman who had shown some interest in me at one time, but we found it better just to be friends so I could continue to shop there if needed. I call ahead and have Sarah prop open the back door, so Ren is not embarrassed walking through the streets in no shoes and wearing my clothes that drown her. Sarah’s Boutique has a little bit of everything and all great quality too. We can get most of her clothing needs from here and then go to the spa down the road.

Pulling into the alley, I park right by Sarah’s back door and lead Ren inside. Sarah is waiting for us; she has even closed her shop for lunch so that we may have privacy. Watching Ren’s face light up at all the beautiful clothes warms my heart. I feel like a king being able to do these things for her. I can’t wait till we spend the rest of the day at the spa and have a nice romantic dinner afterward.

She has tried on so many things and looks fantastic in all of it. The sexy bra and panty sets are my favorites, along with the flirty sundresses that accentuate her sexy toned legs. Her face flushes a little when she shows me a few of the provocative items, but turns bright red when I grab her while she’s still dressed in those items, to kiss the hell out of her. To save Ren from embarrassment, Sarah has left us to have some privacy in the dressing rooms, and it takes all my willpower not to take advantage of her half dressed. After every outfit and accessory have been tried on, I take them all to the check out counter.

 

 

Ren

 

 

“No, Derek, this is too much. We don’t have to buy everything I tried on. That’s the point of trying things on so you only buy what you love.”

 

“Baby, do you love all these clothes?”

 

 

He raises his eyebrows at me daring me to lie. “Of course, but I don’t need them all; the shoes and the jewelry, it’s just so much. It will drain my bank account just trying to pay you back; it’s all so expensive.” The look on his face is comical. He glances at Sarah and tries not to smile as he hands her his American Express Black card. I have no idea how much money he makes, but judging from the cabin in the woods on two hundred and fifty acres, he seems to do well for himself.

We leave the way we came in, but now I’m dressed in a yellow sundress and strappy white leather sandals instead of Derek’s clothes. It feels so good to dress like a human again−to be treated with respect and feel loved. I owe my life to this man and will probably spend the rest of it trying to please him.

We leave the truck in the alley and walk around to the street out front. He takes my hand as we stroll to a little café with spindly tables and chairs out front. They do not look like they would hold a man Derek’s size, so we opt to sit inside but by a window in a sturdy looking booth. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until the scents wafted up my nose. This is the first time anything has smelled as good as Derek’s scrambled egg breakfast. I order a half sandwich of turkey, avocado and sundried tomatoes with a small cup of soup. He has two ham and roast beef sandwiches with double meat, lettuce, and tomatoes.

Holy cow, my man can eat! He is almost a whole foot in height above me, plus weighs well over two hundred pounds of solid muscle. Next to my hundred and ten pounds of half muscle, although I’m in fairly decent shape, he is a giant. I like to run to clear my head and do Pilates to keep tone and limber. He looks like he weight-lifts cars.

Once we finish lunch, we head down the street in the opposite direction of the truck again. I am about to ask where we are going when we stop in front of Lusso’ Day Spa and Salon. He pulls me inside and gives the girl at the counter our names of Mr. and Mrs. Mason. I don’t know if he calls me Mrs. Mason to hide my identity or if he feels this is inevitable so why wait, but I can’t help the smile that spreads across my face.

 

“Baby, I can’t erase what happened to you, but I can try to make you forget if even for a little while.”

 

 

I reach up, grab his face and pull him down to a scorching kiss that has the front desk girl panting a little.

 

 

“You little vixen. I will pay you back for the hard on I’m sporting,” he whispers in my ear.

 

After our shocking display of affection, the stunned receptionist leads us to a dressing room for couples where we strip down to absolutely nothing. The heat in Derek’s eyes promises retribution for the erection that still hasn’t gone down. I quickly put on the softest, fluffiest robe I have ever felt, and he follows before we shock anymore of the staff with our PDA. He has chosen for us to get couples massage in the botanical garden outside, so we drop our robes on a nearby chair and lay face down on the beds that are placed about three feet apart. He reaches over to link his fingers with mine, and we stay like this for the entire massage. As he stares into my eyes, he becomes my soul focus, and the rest of the world falls away. Each stroke feels as if he is the one rubbing my body and we are the only two there.

Once our massage is finished, we are led into a room with a connecting bathroom. The shower is large with a built in tile seats along the walls. Massive rain showers come down from the ceiling on one side, and on the other wall is a raised rock bed that would turn the shower into a sauna.

He leads me into the shower, closes the door and proceeds to pour water over the rocks filling the room with steam. I smell lavender and immediately begin to relax even more so than after that amazing massage. Sitting down before I fall, I close my eyes to soak it all in then feel his hands on the front of my robe pulling it open. I keep my eyes closed with a little smile on my face as he slides the robe down my arms and off. He grabs my ankles and spreads my legs as he moves his body in between mine. This seat is just the right height for our bodies to come together perfectly. He looks up into my eyes and even though the steam is so thick, I see him as I’ve never seen anyone before. This man is my future. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make him happy.

 

 

“Breathe, Baby.”

 

 

He whispers against my lips. I take a deep breath just as he starts to move again. Oh my, this man is incredible!

After making love, he turns on the showers and proceeds to wash my hair and body. I don’t know how long we stay in the shower, but the look on the staff’s faces as we emerged, tells me it was a long time, and they are envious. I’m sure the glow to my skin would not have been the only thing to give us away because I can’t erase the smile on my face.

Next, we are led to the salon where they trimmed and styled my hair, applied moisturizer, mascara, a light pink lip gloss to my lips and give me a mani-pedi. Feeling like a million bucks as I walk into the waiting area, he steals my breath away by looking incredible himself. They had also trimmed his hair and given him a straight razor shave. Oh my, he looks sexy in his well-worn jeans and button down shirt.

He was on the phone when he saw me but immediately pulled the phone from his ear and stood up.

 

 

“Baby, you look incredible. I have never laid my eyes on a more beautiful woman.”

 

 

I feel my cheeks heat and I’m glad they didn’t apply blush, or I would look like a clown. Thanking the staff, he grabs my hand and leads me back down the street towards the truck.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Ren has taken my breath away. When she came around the corner into the waiting area, I forgot what I was even doing. I just need to touch her to assure myself she is real and mine. She has a little color to her now that we spent our massage outside naked, with the exception of the small towel. She looks happy and healthy, much different from almost two weeks ago. We make our way to the truck and head to a busier part of town. I’m a little nervous having her exposed for too long in case her kidnappers have scouts out looking, so I requested a table on the balcony away from others for privacy. Jax had said the house was located four hours from New Hartford when I met him at the General Store. Which direction, I don’t know; I left in a hurry.

I reach over and grab her hand as I drive to the restaurant. We were in Lusso’ Spa for five hours; she must be starving. I know I am. “Is something wrong, you seem awfully quiet? Are you feeling okay?”

 

“Yes, I feel wonderful, I just don’t know how to repay you for everything.”

 

 

Giving her a certain ‘are you kidding me’ look, has her shrinking a little in the seat and I know I have to reign in my temper. This is all new and very sudden, but I want there to be no doubts in her mind about how I feel and what I want.

 

“I’m sorry Derek; I’m in a very unusual position. I was taken weeks ago, along with my sister, but my life has become a fairy tale, and unspeakable things are probably happening to her. I am so happy with you, but I feel guilty over that fact. I need to be at peace with us, but I don’t know how to do that when Tori’s future is so uncertain.”

 

“Ren, I love you. There isn’t anything that I won’t give you. I will move heaven and earth to help Tori, but I also need Jax to help since he is on the inside of this trafficking organization. When you walked out of the spa, I was on the phone with Jax’s partner, Troy Savage. He doesn’t have any news. However, I didn’t hear the rest he was saying because you took my breath away, and I forgot I was even having a conversation. I will call him back after dinner, but tonight is about you, helping you get your life back and learning how to be an “us.” So no more talk about payments or making things up to me. I have spent the last seven years alone, never planning to spend my life with anyone until I met you. Never needing anyone until I met you, never loving anyone until I met you. The gift of you is more than enough for me. I have enough money to retire if I want. My parents are gone, so you are my priority. I never dreamed I’d want this, but now that I have it, I can’t imagine living without it. Let’s just relax and enjoy tonight; who knows what tomorrow will bring.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

The restaurant is amazing, and I feel underdressed, but Derek assures me that we are both fine in what we are wearing. They seat us on the balcony overlooking the river with candles being the only lighting source for the tables. However, there are torches all along the railing adding to the ambiance. Derek orders a bottle of wine from our waiter and moves his chair closer to mine when he leaves.

 

 

“Dickhead.”

 

 

I look at him shocked but what he says next has me laughing out loud.

 

 

“Goddamn, waiter; wouldn’t stop staring at your chest. I was about to ask him what his problem was, but I didn’t want to embarrass you.”

 

 

I didn’t even notice the waiter, but Derek excuses himself and walks into the restaurant and up to the bar. He is speaking to a man in a suit that just nods his head up and down then walks away. Once back at the table, he sits down and reaches for my hand, pulling it into his lap. I want to ask about the man that he was talking to and what was going on, but just then a female waitress appears with our bottle of wine. I figure it out all on my own and send a small grin his way telling him he is ridiculous. He just sits back comfortable and happy with his decision. I, on the other hand, was not worried about the female server, because Derek did not even once glance her way, and she is beautiful.

The air was a little chilly on the patio, so Derek ran out to his truck to grab his leather jacket. He wraps it around my shoulders making me as toasty on the outside as the wine has warmed me inside.

We talk about our families, both of them small. He was an only child, and I have only one sister. We had loving parents who raised us, with a sad tragedy for both. I grow a little somber thinking of my Dad alone and not knowing what has happened to his girls, but I know there is a happy ending here, I can feel it.

Dinner arrives, and I am addicted. I have the filet with button mushrooms and garlic potatoes with a green salad. He has lobster tails with a baked potato and steamed veggies. We share and everything tastes perfect right down to the cheesecake for dessert he insists on feeding me. Leaning back in my chair, my hands lay across my belly to rest as I stare at my gorgeous man. Derek leans forward and takes my left hand in his and uses his other hand to slide a ring onto my ring finger.

 

“Serenity James, this is just to make it official. I already told you I wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

 

 

He winks at me and kisses my lips softly. Tears slide down my cheeks; I am so happy. Even though his first proposal wasn’t traditional, it was definitely one I will not forget while screaming in orgasmic bliss.

 

 

 

Chapter Sixteen

 

Hope:

[_ *a feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. *a particular instance or feeling. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

Ren slept all the way home. The spa and the wine have put her into a peaceful sleep coma. I carry her up to our room and put her to bed. She only moans a little when I slide her dress down and unstrap her sandals. She looks so sexy in her matching white lace bra and panties, but I can’t imagine that a bra is comfortable to sleep in, so I remove that too. Damn, I am a lucky man! I pull the covers up and quietly leave the room.

 

 

In my office, I settle in my dad’s old chair to make some calls.

 

 

“Savage speaking.”

 

“Hey Troy, sorry about earlier, I was a little distracted.”

 

 

“Who is she?”

 

 

He chuckles. No way am I getting into it with this womanizing man- whore. I know more about his and Jax’s sexcapades than I would like. Jax likes to share women, and when I was no longer interested, Troy became his go-to guy. “That’s for another day, but right now I am desperate to get any info on Jax. I know the protocol, but I also know that you and Jax are tight. He wouldn’t just go off-grid without having a backup plan, and I’m sure you’re it. There’s a lot of information that I was hoping to get to him before he left.”

 

“Look, man, all I know is if I haven’t heard from him in two days, I’m supposed to head to Montauk, NY and wait for instructions.”

 

 

“When and if you meet up with him, tell him that my girl is it and she has a sister in the same boat.” Giving information over the phone is not the best way to handle this situation, but I don’t have time to meet with Troy in person. He probably won’t understand the message unless he becomes immersed in the house as well, but Jax will. Hanging up, I pull up a map of Montauk, NY.

Montauk makes sense. It’s on the water with easy boat access. I can’t imagine that they can fly these hostage women out of the country without someone catching on.

Preparing myself to settle in for a long night of searching properties, businesses, and seedy characters that might be in that area, I head to the kitchen for a pot of coffee. Damn, I hope Jax knows what he’s doing; he could make life difficult for me if he doesn’t save Tori. I just pray she is still in this country and as safe as can be. There are some sick bastards out there. Whatever happened to make an honest living?

Holy shit! I just remembered an email that Jax and I set up years ago for situations like this. We worked several cases together and needed a way to communicate that no one else could decipher. Both emails are untraceable and bounce around through IP addresses all over the world. We once had several IT guys at the FBI try to hack them, and they weren’t able to. I quickly log on and search for a coded message but find none. I will have to check several times a day in case he tries to reach me.

After several hours searching Montauk, I find a few houses for sale. One property has been leased by a foreign oil company; another is an abandoned warehouse, and last is a business called Vrennikov Consulting; they all raise suspicion. I check maps and Montauk, NY, is about four hours from here. This area is the strongest lead yet. I have nothing solid, so I won’t bring Ren this information until I’m sure, but damn I want to give her good news and watch her face light up.

After checking all the security cams and locking up tight, I climb the stairs to my room. I strip down to nothing and slide into bed next to Ren; she immediately curls her body around mine.

 

 

“I love you.”

 

 

She mumbles in her sleep. That is the first time she’s said it, and she probably won’t even remember. Kissing the top of her head I whisper, “I love you too, Baby, I love you too.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

The next few days are spent trying to keep me busy. The busier I am, the less I think. I dust every inch of the cabin and polish the wood floors. I find the spare room upstairs and find another one downstairs by the office that has been turned into a gym. I was ecstatic to find the treadmill, and I have put that to use every day. We have gone to town twice, once for groceries and other supplies and the second time to get everything we forgot to get the first time.

Derek spends a lot of time in his office but doesn’t tell me much. I know he is trying to find leads on my sister but is afraid to get my hopes up and then hit a dead end. He says Jax has been gone for six days and is likely with Tori in the house, so that brings me some comfort; however, today he tells me that he’s lost contact with Savage. That can’t be good. I don’t know who Savage is, other than he is Jax’s partner. I don’t know Jax for that matter either, but I can only hope Savage is now with Jax and helping to protect my sister. When I tell him, I would be happy if Savage is helping Jax he mumbles, “you won’t like the outcome,” and goes back to staring at his computer. I glance over his shoulder to see a map of Montauk, NY and wonder if that is where he thinks my sister is.

There is distance growing between us the size of the Grand Canyon, and even though we make love every day, I feel invisible the rest of the time. I know he is working on making me happy by finding Tori, but he seems a little obsessed. Almost like he’s using that to keep his distance. Maybe he has changed his mind about us; that thought makes me sick.

At 1:00 pm on day eight of Jax undercover, I need to lie down, so I go upstairs and curl up in bed. Maybe I’m feeling so exhausted from emotional stress. Maybe it’s all the cleaning and worrying that has worn me down. I don’t know how long I’ve been asleep when I hear Derek Shouting.

 

 

“Shit, shit, shit!”

 

 

The sound of thunderous footsteps echo on the stairs, and I sit up quickly just as he burst into the room yelling.

 

“Ren, we gotta go.”

 

 

He heads for the closet and throws out two duffle bags, then tells me to grab what I can and fit it into one of the bags. I sit frozen, my mind trying to process the last couple of days when it sinks in that this is about Tori; I need to move now.

I pack all of my belongings into the bag then rush the bathroom to get bathroom and shower supplies. I don’t have much, even though Derek has bought me everything I need and then some; it is still not the lifetime supply of things that I have in my home at my dad’s. He grabs both bags and my hand and leads the way to the garage. When we pull out, he pushes a button on the rearview mirror, and the garage door closes. Then he takes a remote out of the glove compartment, pushes several buttons, and steel shutters begin lowering over the windows. “Do those cover the wall of windows out back too?”

 

 

He chuckles. “No, Baby, those are bullet proof, the shutters are to keep large animals and crooks from getting in the smaller windows.”

 

 

“Well, couldn’t they also get to the large windows out back?” As we pull away from the house, his eyes are darting everywhere as if he’s waiting for someone to jump out.

 

 

“It’s a possibility; they would have to get through the six-foot high electric fence first.” At my look of confusion, he continues. “It’s a high-security perimeter fence that encloses my back yard and surrounds about 25 acres of my property to keep out bears, large cats, and hunters.”

 

 

“Oh,” is all I can say. I don’t know a lot about this level of paranoia but considering all I’ve been through, maybe now I should.

As we pull out onto the paved road that winds down the mountain, he reaches for me and pulls my head down into his lap.

 

 

“Ren, I need you to stay down for a while. Just try to get some sleep.”

 

 

He must be crazy! The way he burst in yelling that we had to leave now almost gave me a heart attack. My adrenaline is going a hundred miles an hour. There is obviously something wrong, and I need to be included in the information or I will go crazy. He has all but ignored me for several days, and it has to stop now. “Derek, if this has something to do with my sister, I need to know. I am sick with worry, and I know you say that Jax will do anything to keep her safe, but not knowing is making me physically ill.

 

 

Derek

 

 

“What do you mean, like ulcers or something?” I’m such an ass. I have been so busy following leads to find her sister and bring her some peace that I hadn’t even noticed she was sick. She had been cooking and cleaning and running her heart out, so I thought if she stayed busy she wouldn’t ask questions I couldn’t give her answers to yet. She has worried so much that she’s worn herself out−enough that her body is telling her to slow down.

 

 

“No, not ulcers I don’t think. I’m just so tired and worried with all these scenarios play in my head about what is happening to my sister. I’m also worried about my dad. Is he eating or sleeping?”

 

 

She moves to sit up, but I just rub her arm while pressing down to keep her in place. I’m going to have to tell her something, but what? I have to figure out where we are going for a while off-grid. It’s not like we can’t survive with what we have with us. Hell, I practically kept her naked for weeks. That memory brings a smile to my face.

“Okay, Ren, just stay down and listen to what I’m going to say. I don’t know myself what all of it means yet, so don’t draw conclusions of the worst case scenario, okay?”

 

 

She nods her head and whispers, “Okay.”

 

 

“Jax and I have worked together for years, and after a few cases, we developed a way to communicate through coded email. I have checked that email several times a day, but nothing has come through until last night.

 

 

“Oh my God, you heard from Jax, how is my sister? Why didn’t you tell me last night? You should have woken me up; you know how worried I’ve been!”

 

 

Her rapid-fire English was already hard to understand, but then she started squirming to sit up, so I was concentrating more on keeping her down than on what she was saying.

“Goddammit! Ren, stay still.” She freezes; I feel like shit for barking orders like that, but I’m thrilled at the obedience and trust that she shows me. “I’m sorry for yelling, but I need you to stay down. You may be in danger, and I can’t keep you safe if you don’t cooperate, okay?” She is silent but not moving around, so I continue at her nod. “The email was vague, so it could mean several things. All it said was, “Found her, RUN!” She stiffens but remains still. “To me, this could only mean two things: 1. He found Tori and is on the run with her or 2. They have found you, and he is telling me to take you into hiding. This is the most concerning since Jax doesn’t know where my cabin is. No one does, so if he’s saying they’ve found you, it’s because I have exposed you several times and someone has recognized you. They may be scouting the area nearest the crash site and asking people in town if they have seen you. I don’t know for sure, and I’m not taking chances on your safety, so for right now, we are going into hiding.

 

 

 

Chapter Seventeen

 

Escape:

[_ *to slip or get away, as from confinement or restraint. *gain or regain liberty. *to slip away from pursuit or peril. *avoid capture, punishment, or any threatened evil. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

I have never been on the run before and don’t even know the safety precautions to take. I send up a silent thank you for sending me this man. I would probably be dead or sold into sexual slavery if it wasn’t for him. That thought breaks my heart for my sister and all that she has possibly endured. I pray silently for her, that Jax was able to get to her in time; that he will keep her safe until we can be reunited. I feel guilty now for feeling neglected and pouting. Derek has been nothing but good to me, and I have acted like a whiny brat, luckily not to him but in my head. I convinced myself that he didn’t want me anymore when in reality he was tirelessly working to help my sister and my family. Tears spill over my lashes onto his pants. Hopefully, he won’t notice as long as I don’t progress into hiccupping sobs. I take deep breaths and will myself to calm down. Maybe I should go to sleep; we have a long way to go. “Where are we going?”

 

 

Derek

 

 

“I don’t know yet. I think we will head south and maybe charter a boat to a small island in the Bahamas. We can lay low and have a vacation at the same time. Jax knows how to reach me; I’m sure he will when it’s safe. Also, since Savage is gone and hasn’t come back, I’m pretty sure he is with Jax. They had a code as well, that if no contact was made by a certain date, he was supposed to head to Montauk, NY and wait for instructions.”

 

“Are we going to Montauk?” she whispers, almost as if she’s falling asleep.

 

 

“No, we are going to Florida. I don’t want you anywhere near that area or those people. Having you in danger will not help Tori, and if she’s anything like you, she’d be pissed if we put you back in that situation.” She is so quiet that I think she is falling asleep, so I turn on the radio and just keep driving. We have about a fifteen-hour drive to Jacksonville where I can charter a boat to a small island in the Bahamas. I will keep her hidden as long as there’s danger, and if it doesn’t go away, I will become the hunter and destroy every last one of the bastards that would threaten her.

 

 

Ren

 

 

I wake to gentle shaking.

 

 

“Ren, Baby, wake up. We are stopping for the night. I would carry you, but it might look suspicious if you can’t walk in on your own two feet.”

I stir and stretch to look up from his lap. How long did I sleep? It’s already dark outside. He helps me get up as I rub the sleep out of my eyes. We are at a hotel that looks brand new but made to look old. Even the landscaping looks like it was just installed. He hops out, walks around to my side to open the door and help me down. He picks up both bags in one hand then grabs my hand to pull me into the lobby.

 

 

“Where are we?”

 

 

“We are in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I drove for about seven hours and could’ve gone further, but I wanted you to be able to sleep in a real bed tonight.”

 

 

An extremely cheery redhead stands at the check-in counter, and the smile she gives Derek is one of appreciation.

 

 

“How can I help you, Sugar?”

 

 

She drawls in a southern twang and snaps her gum at the same time. She is a pretty girl; I’m sure those dimples help her with her conquests, which at the moment she thinks is Derek.

I’m tired and hungry and probably have mascara smeared under my eyes from crying on Derek’s lap, so I am not in the mood to have Bubbly Barbie hit on my man right in front of me. In my best interpretation of a southern bimbo, I step forward and lean on the counter to tell her what we want. “Well, Honey Bun, you can give us a room, preferably the nicest one you have, away from other guests. We plan on being up all night celebratin’ our engagement.” Derek burst out laughing, but I give her my best stern look, so Bimbo Barbie knows there is no way in hell she will ever have a chance with my man. She hurries to set us up in the penthouse suite, then mentions that the gym is below our floor and closes at nine so we will have all the privacy we need.

Still chuckling, he grabs my hand again and heads for the elevator. “Don’t even say anything. If you can change our waiter, then I can let Fire Crotch know she will never touch you.” He laughs out loud again which has me laughing right along with him. I am still laughing when I realize he is silent and staring at me. In two seconds, he has dropped our bags and has me pinned against the elevator wall. As he lifts me up to meet his mouth, I wrap my legs around his waist, and he presses his groin tight to mine; I have done anything so erotic in my life. I’m sure there are cameras in the elevator, and public sex has never been on my bucket list, but I’m willing to give Hooker Hannah a visual of what she’s missing. Our lips and bodies are fused together, and by the time the door dings then opens on our floor, we are both panting. Sliding down his body gives me a new sensation, and I moan a little.

 

 

“Damn, that was the shortest elevator ride up ten floors I’ve ever experienced,” he curses.

 

 

I smile, and he leads me down the hall to our room. As we walk in, it’s now my turn to curse. “Oh shit, this must cost a fortune. I’m so sorry; I don’t know what came over me.”

 

“Baby, I would have paid double that to see you defend my virtue. What was it you called her? Oh right, Fire Crotch,” he laughs again.

 

 

I laugh too but still stare around in shock. There is a massive four poster bed through a double door at one end of the room, a living room with a fireplace and wet bar in the center, and a magazine worthy kitchen on the other side. I thought this was a hotel not a condo for rent? Sure enough, though, the hotel brochure is on the coffee table.

Needing a shower, clean clothes, and food in that order, I head for the bathroom. The face that greets me in the mirror is downright embarrassing. No wonder Slutty Sarah thought she had a chance. My mascara is smeared halfway down my face, and I have lines down one cheek from Derek’s pants, just great! Okay, okay, enough with calling her names. I can be the bigger person. I am not the jealous type, and who can blame the girl? Derek is GQ material. With his dark hair, sky blue eyes, and a body created by the Gods, who wouldn’t want him? I’m sure if she ever saw him naked it would be game on catfight!

 

 

Derek

 

 

My little hellcat has come out to play. After the last few days watching her be quiet and somber, I’m glad to see a little spark of life. She usually only gets that animated when speaking of her family, so I am on cloud nine with the prospect that she is thinking of me that way too. I have been afraid that I came on too strong, and when she has her family back, she will walk away no questions asked. I never thought I would say this, but jealousy looks good on her. I am ecstatic to see that she is as possessive over me as I am over her.

She emerges from the bedroom like a breath of fresh air. With a pink blush to her skin from the hot shower and no makeup, she looks as innocent as she is. She looks younger than her twenty-three years, and I kind of feel like a cradle robber. I just turned thirty-one, so I have seven plus years on her, but there is no talking me out of keeping her, age be damned.

Jumping up off the couch, I head straight for her, and she walks right into my arms. I kiss the top of her head and give her a little squeeze. “Baby, I’m going to shower real quick. Make yourself a drink and relax, then we’ll grab dinner here in the hotel restaurant as soon as I’m done. I shower in record time, not wanting to waste another minute being away from her. God, I am whipped!

 

 

Ren

 

 

We eat dinner in the hotel restaurant, which is located on the other side of the lobby from the elevators. I was relieved to see the redhead girl was not manning the reception desk when we passed. I am a little mortified by my behavior. I want to blame it on my emotions, but there is no excuse for the way I behaved. I will make sure to apologize when we check out tomorrow.

The restaurant atmosphere is warm and casual. There is a mahogany bar that runs the length of one wall and a small dance floor on the opposite side of the room. We are taken to a semi-round booth in the corner that is close to the bar. When I slide in on one side, he slides in on the other moving to the middle and then pulls me to him. I love that he can’t get enough of being close to me. His hands are so warm that everywhere he touches heat seeps into my bones but leaves goose bumps on the surface.

We share a seafood platter with lobster tails, crab legs, smoked salmon, and fried calamari served with butter soaked steamed vegetables that melt in your mouth. My hands are covered in butter, so I excuse myself to go wash up.

The long dark hallway to the restroom leads me towards the back of the building. When I’m near the women’s room, a man steps out from another door and almost plows me over.

 

 

“I’m sorry, Sugar,” he slurs, “lemme buy you a drink, Beautiful.”

 

 

I step around him saying, “No thanks,” and quickly move into the bathroom. He definitely has to be drunk. I’m wearing black leggings with a light gray tunic shirt and flip- flops; who the hell would find that attractive? I’m not dressed to go out on the town. I don’t even have on makeup, and my hair is still damp from my shower. I know we are just going back to go to bed so we can leave early in the morning, so I didn’t bother to get all dolled up. It’s always been funny to me how one’s perspective changes after a few drinks.

I wash my hands and step out into the hallway only to stop dead in my tracks. The drunken man is blocking my path back into the restaurant and is glaring at me. Looking behind me, I see the exit door and think that would be the easiest way to go rather than through this mammoth man; but I’m afraid he would follow me into the alley where no one there could hear me scream.

 

 

“You think you’re too good for me, Bish?”

 

 

I think that was supposed to be, Bitch, but I’m not going to correct him. “No, not at all, but I am here with my husband.” I flash my ring. “Sorry if I offended you.” I just need to get back to Derek, but as I move to go around, he grabs my hair and pulls me close to his body. I gasp, breathing in the smell of body odor and whiskey.

 

 

He slurs again, “that’s more like it, I loooove a woman who grovels. You can suck my dick to make it up to me.”

 

 

I am getting ready to scream, but before I know what has happened, my hair is released, and the man is on his knees crying out in pain with his hand being held by Derek at an unnatural angle.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Ren is taking a long time, and I am not comfortable with all the seedy characters sitting at the bar. I slide out of the booth and move around the corner towards the bathrooms. The hallway is dark, but I can still make out a broad man blocking Ren’s way. My blood boils as I see him grab her hair and pull her close. Someone is going to die. I reach them in a few long strides to grab the man’s hand that is wrapped in her hair. I crush his pinky finger until I hear it break, causing him to release her immediately and scream like a girl. The man drops to his knees screaming,

 

 

“God, man, you broke my hand.”

 

 

I crouch down low, lean close to his ear and whisper so only he can hear me. “You’re lucky you are not dead for touching what’s mine. You think on that the next time you approach any woman.” I release him to grab Ren’s hand and pull her with me down the hall. We are almost to the bar when the guy yells.

 

 

“Hey, isn’t she the missing girl on the news? Her daddy is awfully sad; he wants his daughters’ back.”

 

“Son of a bitch!” Everyone at the bar turns around to stare at us. I grab a hundred out of my wallet, drop it on the table and head for the exit while every eye in the place watches us leave. Dammit! Ren’s head is down, and her hair has fallen forward to shield her face. She looks like a beaten puppy as I pull her along and that’s exactly what all these assholes in the restaurant will report.

I wrap my arm around her as we walk out of the hotel, get in my truck and drive away. Her eyes are full of questions as she looks at me, but what she asks has my heart clenching.

 

 

“Did you know?” She sniffs and wipes her eyes. “ Did you know we were on the news?”

 

 

Does she think I would keep this from her? “No, of course not. I have been with you, Ren, every day for weeks. When have you seen me watching T.V.? Do you honestly think that if I saw your dad pleading for your return, that I wouldn’t have said something to you?” She looks devastated, so I reach over and take her hand. “Baby, we will look into it when we get back to the room. Together we can assess the damage and decide what to do okay?”

Leaving the hotel was the best way to throw people off our trail, so we will stay gone for an hour or two then come back in through the side doors. Hopefully, they saw us leave and think we were only restaurant patrons and not guests staying in the hotel. I head to the Potomac River. My parents and I spent time at Fairview Beach when I was little, and I want to see how much has changed.

 

“Where are we going?” She asks, looking around for anything familiar.

 

 

“Right now I am going to take you to a beach I spent time at when I was a kid. I’m trying to kill time before we go back to the hotel. Hopefully, anyone who saw us will be gone, and we can sneak in a side door. Just to play it safe, we will leave around 6:00 am and get back on the road.”

 

“Can we watch the news when we get back? I want to see my dad, even if it’s just through a T.V. screen.” At my look she continues, “I know I can’t call him or reach out to him, you have already explained the safety risks; I just want to see his face. I want to know if he is eating and sleeping. When my Mom died, he lost so much weight, and he didn’t sleep in their bed for two years. We would find him watching old home videos all hours of the night. I finally threatened to drop out of school to take care of him, and the next day he was on the mend. He has to be dying inside not knowing what happened to us. I just need to see him.”

 

 

 

Chapter Eighteen

 

Diversion:

[_ *the action of turning something aside from its course. *an activity that diverts the mind from tedious or serious concern. *reallocating something. *something intended to distract attention from something more important. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

We only spend an hour at the beach. It’s a little chilly, and storm clouds cover the moon, so I can’t see much. There are several businesses we pass that remind me of an old fisherman’s wharf in looks and smell. Derek said he used to go fishing here with his dad, and he has fond memories of this place. He is quiet on the walk back to his truck; I’m sure he is thinking of his loss.

When we arrive back at the hotel, he has me stay in the truck and lay down on the seat while he checks for anything suspicious. He has only been gone for five minutes when he opens my door and pulls me to my feet. With his arm wrapped around me, we walk through the side doors and into the elevator without incident.

As promised, when we climb into bed, he turns on the T.V. to a local news station. I stare at the reporters intently, willing them to show me anything about my family. I just want to see my dad to assure myself that he’s okay. I don’t know how long I watched, but nothing ever shows before I fall asleep wrapped in Derek’s arms.

I’m so warm and comfortable; I don’t want to move, but Derek keeps nudging me. I just feel asleep so why is he bothering me so soon?

 

 

“Ren,” he whispers, “Baby, we need to get moving,” he says a little louder.

 

 

“Nooooo, I need to sleep,” I whine, “just another hour.” He leaves me alone, but he is not quiet. I hear rustling, noisy zippers, and water turning on and off. “How much sleep does he think I can get with all this noise?” I state quietly. I didn’t speak loud enough for him to hear, but his chuckle tells me otherwise. The man must have super human hearing.

I hear a door open and close and wonder if he’s gone to get me coffee. Ten minutes later he walks back in, to my disappointment, not gone long enough to get me coffee. The next thing I know, I am scooped up out of bed with the top sheet still wrapped around me, and I squeal. He carries me out the door and into the elevator as I stare at him in shock.

 

“Baby, I warned you, we have to leave early. Now you can travel in my shirt and your panties unless you want to strip down in the cab of the truck and give me a show,” he winks.

 

“What about the sheet? You can’t just steal the sheet!”

 

“For the price they charged me for the room, I can take any damn thing I want.”

 

 

Still feeling really bad about asking for the best room they had just to show up the receptionist at the counter, I tell him again, “I’m sorry about that.” He just laughs.

 

 

“That was the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a while. It was worth the price, but I’m still keeping the sheet.”

 

Four hours into our drive, I’m happy he kept the sheet because I’m still tired and use it to lie down across the seat. While sleeping peacefully with my head on his lap, I am startled awake by cursing.

 

 

“God damn son of a bitch!”

 

 

With my heart in my throat, I jerk up to I look at the time on the dash, and it reads 2:23. I’ve been asleep for a little over three hours. We pass a Welcome to Georgia sign then we are pulling off on the next exit toward Savannah, GA. “What’s wrong?” He doesn’t answer, just turns up the radio.

 

 

We have a special report on the two missing sisters from Ocean City, Delaware. We have reason to believe that one of the girls has been spotted in the Virginia area traveling with a sinister looking man. He is over six feet tall with dark hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a dark gray shirt and black pants. Our sources report that the man quickly removed the woman from a restaurant bar when patrons recognized her. It is also reported that they are heading south on I 95. The two sisters went missing from a local nightclub in Ocean City, Delaware on April 15th. This is the first possible sighting reported. For updated pictures, watch Channel 2 News at 4:00 p.m. We are pleading with travelers to keep a look out for these young women. Contact your local police with any information you may have.

 

 

I reach up and turn off the radio. With my hand over my mouth and my eyes probably popping out of my head, I stare in shock at the dash. Knowing that today is May 18th means I have been technically missing for a little over four weeks. “What day did you find me?” I ask.

 

 

“On April 22nd. I was going up to the cabin for a much needed long weekend, and there you were.” He glances over at me, I’m sure to assess my sanity level, but quickly turns his eyes back to the road to pull into a gas station. “Stay in the truck and stay down. That news bulletin was for a local station. We need to get gas and get out of this area and away from I 95.”

 

Oh my God! Our situation is not good. They think that Derek is my captor, but even worse, they know what direction we are headed. If they find us, Derek will get arrested, and the police will take me home, leaving me vulnerable to be taken again by the men who took me the first time. There is no way in hell they would leave me in peace when I could expose their trafficking operation. We can’t go to Jacksonville. They are watching the freeway now for sure. What the hell are we going to do? Then it hits me, my cottage on my white sandy beach.

 

 

Derek

 

 

The timing could not be worse. We only had two hours left to Jacksonville, and now we have to change course. I’m not so worried about them thinking I’m the shady character; we could clear that up easy enough. My biggest problem is that they just advertised that she is alive and flashed arrows in our direction. At least before it was just speculative. So far they haven’t identified me, so we are safe for a while, but we need to get somewhere remote and lay low.

I pay for gas and bottles of water and head back to the truck. Once again her rapid-fire English is hard to understand. All the words run together as if they were one word.

 

 

“OhmyGodDerekIknowwherewecango.” She squeezes that out in one breath.

 

 

“Okay, Ren, calm down. Take a deep breath and start over.” She is bouncing around as if she has the best sort of news even though we just heard the worst.

 

“Remember when I told you about my cottage and the white sandy beach I dream about?” at my nod she continues. “Well, it’s in Destin, Florida on Scenic Hwy 98. We can go there.”

 

 

She looks so excited, almost like a kid who just got a puppy. “Ren, it’s not a good idea to go somewhere that the police and your kidnappers can link to you.” She shakes her head no and continues.

 

 

“It won’t link to me. The property was in my grandmother’s name on my mother’s side. When my parents built the cottage on her land, they just left it in my grandmother’s name. It has been a family retreat since before I was born. When my grandmother passed away, it went into a trust in my mother’s maiden name. There is no link to the James family; even if there is it will be hard to find.”

 

 

She finally takes a breath and calms down a little.

 

 

“Derek, it would be perfect. We can even rent it under a different name for a few weeks. That way we don’t have to worry about someone showing up to look for me there.” She continues at my puzzled look. “We rent out the cottage throughout the year to vacationing families. It just sits there since we can’t come down as often as we like, so we rent it out, and it becomes residual income for my dad. If he knows it’s rented, he won’t be looking for me there.”

 

Resolved, I pull up Google maps, and it shows to go to Jacksonville and then head west. We can’t do that, so taking I 16 West towards Albany, Georgia is our only option. It only adds another 30 minutes to our drive; maybe we can find a small Bed & Breakfast to crash in along the way. The look she gives me when I tell her we are heading to Destin makes me fell like a King. She crawls over the seat and straddles my lap, still in just my shirt and her panties. She definitely has my attention as her lips press softly to mine.

 

“Oh, thank you, thankyouthankyou, this means so much to me. I’m going home,” she whispers and peppers kisses all over my face.

 

We pull into Hawkinsville, GA. just after 5:00 p.m., and I’m exhausted. I have been driving for over eleven hours and feel as though I might pass out at the wheel. The bed and breakfast we find looks like a miniature White House but with a country flare. The little old lady who greets me doesn’t ask any questions and is happy to accept cash.

 

 

We serve dinner at six thirty in the dining room to the right of the kitchen. We’re serving ham, potatoes, and a green salad. I hope you’re hungry; we had a lot of last minute cancellations, and I made food for an army.”

 

I drive around back and hurry Ren through the door and up the stairs. She hasn’t bothered to get dressed since she slept most of the day. I hope she is not getting sick; that’s the last thing we need. As I shut the door, I drop our bags and stalk her like an animal. When she sees me coming, she runs for the bathroom probably thinking that is her only escape. I laugh and follow, knowing what will come when I catch her. I need this. I need to forget all that she’s been through and possibly what’s ahead. I need to help her forget too, if only just for a minute. I need to lose myself in her body.

Grabbing around her tiny waist, I lift her to the bathroom counter and step between her legs. It doesn’t seem to matter where we are or what we are going through, making love to Ren puts me on top of the world.

We shower together and make love there too, definitely lasting longer the second time in thirty minutes. This is the best mind blanking therapy I have ever found. I would be happy to be mindless spending my life with this woman.

 

 

Chapter Nineteen

 

Salvation:

[_ *preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss. *a source or means of being saved. *a deliverance from sin and its consequences. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

The dining room was practically empty, except for myself, Derek, a young mother, and her son who appears to be about two years old. I have a hard time trying not to stare at the young mother sporting a black eye. My heart goes out to her for the abuse she has probably suffered. It takes a while for her to even say two words to us but her son has no such reservations. He has dark hair and light blue eyes resembling what I think Derek’s son would look like. He has a toy airplane and is making vroom sounds as he runs around the table. He stops at my chair and looks at me with curiosity.

 

 

“Wus you name?”

 

 

His voice is so small, almost like a cartoon character. Derek squeezes my hand and answers for us.

 

 

“Hey little guy, this is Jen and my names John, what’s yours?”

 

 

I look at Derek, and he just gives me a clipped nod. The little boy looks at his mom as if for permission. She nods her head and mouths sorry to us.

 

“My name Ax.”

 

 

Then he gives us a toothy grin.

 

 

“His name is Alexander, Alex for short. He has trouble saying r’s and l’s. Thank you for being patient with him. We’ve been traveling for a while, and it has been hard on him.”

 

 

She looks so sad. I want to hug her and tell her things will get better.

 

 

“Daddy hits,” Alex blurts out.

 

 

His mom looks mortified.

 

 

Oh honey, these nice people don’t need to be bothered. Just finish your soup so we can go to sleep.”

 

Derek excuses himself and says he’ll be right back. I think he realizes that this poor woman is leery of men and wants to give her a minute to talk to me if she will. “I want you to know that you are very brave for getting out. No one should suffer any kind of abuse, and I’m sorry that your son had to see it.”

 

“Oh, I’m not brave, I ran like a coward. I couldn’t protect my son anymore, so I took what I could and ran. Jerry is not Alex’s dad, but he has been in our life since Alex was nine months old. The older Alex gets and looks like his father, the angrier Jerry got. He would deliberately break Alex’s toys, and then he would put him in time out for long periods of time when he cried over the broken toy. A week ago, I tried to sooth Alex and got him out of time out; that’s when Jerry hit me in front of Alex. He has hit me before just never in front of my son. I knew that it was time to leave. I’m Olivia by the way. I’m so sorry to dump all that on you; we have been traveling, and I only have a two-year-old with limited vocabulary for company.”

 

Where is Alex’s dad, can he help you?” She shakes her head back and forth, but her wistful look says she wishes things were different.

 

You could say that I’m a very bad judge of character and only know how to pick losers. I was very naïve and allowed an incredibly sexy man to whisper sexy things into my ear, take my virginity and leave. It was love at first sight for me, and I don’t regret anything because I have Alex. But I didn’t even know the man’s last name or where he was from, so finding him six weeks after the fact was next to impossible.”

 

“Well, I definitely understand the power of a sexy man and I have to say, I don’t regret any of it either.” She looks up, and I know that Derek is standing right behind me.

 

“That’s good to know, Baby.” He leans down to give me a kiss then pulls me to my feet. “We have an early morning ourselves so have a good night.”

 

I lean down to give Olivia a hug. “Everything will work out, I promise. My life was turned upside down too, and I couldn’t be happier with the new path I’m on. Sometimes we just hit a few bumps in the road.” She smiles sadly and nods then turns to her son to help him eat his soup.

 

 

Derek

 

 

As we climb into bed, Ren is full of ideas on how to help her new friend. She tells me her name is Olivia, but I would be surprised if that weren’t an alias. She seems excited about the prospect of starting a safe house for abused women and has added Olivia and Alex as the first tenants. These things take more time than Ren imagines, but with her determination and my resources, I’m sure we will make it happen. She drifts off to sleep snuggled into my side with her leg tucked between mine, alongside the erection that never seems to go away. My endurance seems to be lacking a little when it comes to her, but my dick seems eager to practice on building that up. With a smile on my lips, I drift off to sleep as well.

Rolling over to grab for Ren, I feel cold sheets as my hands come up empty. My eyes fly open in alarm to scan the room, and I find myself alone. I jump out of bed and throw on last nights’ clothes, trying not to panic. Maybe she just went down to breakfast. What the hell time is it anyway? Grabbing my watch off the nightstand, I groan, 10:05 am damn! I haven’t slept in this late in years; why didn’t she wake me? I head straight down the stairs and into the dining room to freeze. A man a foot and a half taller and at least twice as wide is dwarfing the sweet little old woman, who is the owner of the B&B.

 

 

“Look, lady, I’m just lookin’ for my wife, just look at `er picture and tell me if you’ve seen `er.”

 

 

The man shoves his phone into the owner’s face. Marge, it says on her apron, is shaking her head no. I move a little closer to see that the picture is of Olivia from last night.

 

 

“I’m sorry, I haven’t seen this woman, and the only guest I have is this nice young man and his wife. Everyone else canceled at the last minute. I had already started the food and everything, so it’s a good thing they came in so it didn’t all go to waste.

 

 

She is mumbling and carrying on, so the man just rolls his eyes and walks out. I burst out laughing and give Marge a hug. “Remind me never to annoy you, Marge. By the way, have you seen my wife this morning?”

 

 

“Oh yes, she is in Olivia’s room. They had breakfast this morning and luckily went to her room just in time. I might be old, but I’m not stupid. That man is bad news.”

 

After getting Olivia’s room number, I head back upstairs to find Ren so I can explain why it is a bad idea not to keep me informed of her whereabouts. Any number of things could have happened, and I would have been snoring away while it did.

She answers the door with little Alex bouncing on her hip, and at that moment, my future flashed before my eyes. The sight before me was incredible. Ren was laughing and smiling with Alex, her face glowing and happy. I look behind them to see a smiling Olivia shift her eyes away from me. That son of a bitch downstairs sure did a number on this woman. Hopefully, the little bit of help we give her today will be enough to keep her resolved and moving forward.

“Baby, can we talk out here in the hall?” I nod my head in Olivia’s direction and raise my eyebrows at Ren, letting her know that I know Olivia would not be comfortable with me in her room. She sets Alex down, and he runs to his mom right before steps out and shuts the door.

 

 

“Hi, I’m sorry I didn’t wake you when I left, but you have been driving so much and looked exhausted. I figured if you hadn’t woken up with all the noise I made this morning, that you really needed to sleep.”

 

 

She needs to know how dangerous our situation is, but I don’t want to come off as an overprotective asshole, even though I am. “Ren, I went downstairs to look for you when I woke up alone; I was worried that something bad had happened. I ran into Olivia’s boyfriend or husband, whatever he is, and he was pissed. He is showing people pictures of Olivia, hoping someone will say they recognize her and know where she is. Lucky for her, Marge is a fierce woman and knew he was bad news. She told him that she hadn’t seen her and then started rambling nonsense until he left. I don’t think he will come back here. However, she still needs to be careful. We both know he is an abusive asshole that will only hurt her if he finds her, but he might hurt anyone who is with her as well. I hate to imagine what he would have done if he had found you both in the dining room. You wouldn’t have let him take her and Alex, and he may have hurt you too if you would have tried to stop him. I don’t want you to feel like I am smothering you or that you don’t have freedom to make your own choices, but our situation is a little unpredictable.” Her eyes start to water, and she looks so worried, but I’m sure that she’s worried for Olivia and Alex, not herself. “Baby, we have to be careful. Like Olivia, we need to lay low and not draw attention to ourselves. I have paid for Olivia and Alex to stay here for two weeks. When she is ready to check out; Marge is to give her an envelope that has five thousand dollars in it. I have also left her my phone number so she can call us anytime for help.

Once we know that Jax has Tori, we can work on bringing down that organization for good, but for my peace of mind I need to be with you at all times.” Tears are running down her face, and I feel bad for scaring her, but her safety is my top priority. She steps closer so she can wrap her arms around my waist.

 

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

 

 

Ren

 

 

An apology seems inadequate, but that is all I can say. Running was not my life before monsters, the real kind anyway. I am not used to pretending I’m not who I am. Derek has had to make adjustments in his life to fit me in it, and I owe him nothing less. I know he is worried for me and about me, so starting now I will try to lessen that burden for him. He has put his life on hold, but I have put him and myself in danger by not thinking. It would kill me if anything happened to him because of me, so starting today, I will do whatever he tells me to.

He has gone out of his way to help Olivia even though we just met her last night. Who does that? Who gives a complete stranger five thousand dollars? I can’t wait to tell her what he has done for her and Alex.

“I promise to be more careful and I know we have to leave soon, but can we tell Olivia before we go?”

 

“You can. I will wait in the hall. She doesn’t seem very comfortable around me yet.” He kisses my head and whispers, “I love you, and I’m sorry I scared you, but I would break if anything happened to you.”

 

When I walked back into Olivia’s room, she looks a little panicked. “It’s okay. He’s not mad; he was just worried.” I tell her about Jerry being here but that Marge steered him away. Also, that Derek has paid for her stay at the B&B for two weeks until she can figure out where she’s going. She cries about the five thousand dollars saying it is too much and she can’t accept it. I just tell her that when we have The Safe House opened, she can help run it. I cry when I leave even though I know that I will see her again.

When we return to the room, Derek suggests that we stay one more night. He is not comfortable leaving Olivia and Alex while Jerry is wandering around town looking for her. Derek and I decide to explore Hawkinsville that afternoon only to discover that it ‘s a quaint little nostalgic town. The people here are passionate about horse races, farming, and preserving their historic buildings.

We eat lunch at a cute little café on Main Street and share a sundae at the ice cream shop next door. I feel so free and happy. This is how I picture my life with Derek when all the turmoil is over, but I am afraid life is not through messing with my family.

We had been gone for several hours when I realize it’s getting late as the sun descends toward the mountaintops. After petting the horses at a breeding farm, we head back to the B&B to eat dinner with Olivia and Alex. They were sad that they couldn’t explore with us, but with Jerry roaming around, it was best they stay hidden for a few days. Although we are both in hiding, Olivia’s situation is made worse because she is running from someone she thought she trusted. At least I am protected by the one I love.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty

 

Transformation:

[_ *a marked change in form, nature or appearance. *a sudden dramatic change of scenery. *a process by which one figure, expression, or function is converted into another one of similar value. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

Today was a turning point for us on many levels. Ren seems to be dealing with our situation with more caution, and I find that I really like guilt fed sex. I shower first and then wait for her until she comes out of the bathroom. She usually wears one of my shirts to bed, which is sexy as hell, but when she comes out in a see thru lace, baby blue, matching bra and panty set, I choke on my water that I was trying to get down.

 

“Derek, Honey,” she whispers in a sultry voice, “I know I was very bad today and need to be punished, so I wore this sexy little thong so you would have access for a thorough spanking.”

 

She climbs to the middle of the bed and turns away from me only to press her upper body to the mattress as she sticks her ass in the air. Holy mother of God! I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I need to figure it out and do it for the rest of my life.

Kneeling behind her, I trap her ankles between my knees to hold her legs close together. Placing both hands on ass cheeks, I rub all over. I can’t get enough of this woman or the feel of her skin. Once she has relaxed from my soothing touches, I slap one cheek, and she gasps, but when I lay my hands where it stings, heat seeps into her body, and she moans. I repeat her spanking several times, alternating from one side to the other until her ass is flushed red. She is ready and begs so prettily that I can’t wait another minute. I’m thankful for all the cancellations at the B&B. I am far from done, so I grab her hips and flip her to her back. I want to look into her face as I mark her as mine. Finally, my endurance is increasing. I can keep her mindless with pleasure until I am ready to go over the edge myself.

 

 

Ren

 

 

We leave the B&B at 6:00 a.m. but this time he doesn’t have to drag me out half naked, and he didn’t have to steal a sheet. His wake up call this time was more of the physical variety, and I can definitely say that I am awake.

His protection, obsession, and passion have become an addiction to me, and I realize that I am extremely happy with life’s little interferences. I can only hope and pray that Jax has had Tori for a few weeks, so she is also free of our monsters.

We drive for five hours to reach Destin, Florida, and I am giddy with the prospect of being on my beach and in my family’s cottage. We turn off of Scenic Hwy 98 onto my driveway just as a small family is loading the last of their belongings into their car. Our timing seems perfect, but what if the property management company has it rented again soon? I hate the idea of paying to use my family’s house, but what choice do we have? Yes, I could get in using a hidden key and no one would be the wiser. But Dorothy is our contact at the rental company, and she is a friend of my dads; if she finds out that I’m staying here, she will call my dad, and that could put him in danger as well. “Derek, we have to call the rental company and check on availability. I’m so sorry that I didn’t think of it before, but I was so excited to have a safe and familiar place to go. We rent this out when we are not using it, but I didn’t think to check.” I am heartbroken at the thought of not staying here.

Walking along the side of the cottage, I take the very well worn path to the beach and ocean behind. I have sat on this beach for many hours of my life. It is so peaceful here that you could stare out at the waves and forget all of your troubles. Standing here now makes every emotion bubble to the surface and tears trace down my cheeks. While standing on my beach and staring out to sea, Derek walks up, wraps his arms around me and rests his chin on the top of my head. He sighs, and I know it is not good news.

 

“Baby, they have the house rented again.”

 

I try to hold it together. We have traveled for so long just to get here. He must think I’m the biggest idiot not to plan ahead.

 

 

“In three weeks,” he whispers.

 

 

I spin around so he can clarify what he is saying, only to stare at the little smirk on his face.

 

 

“Newlywed couple John & Jenn Dewright have this house for the next three weeks, and then it is rented to the Albrecht’s. So what do you say, Jenn Dewright, will you be happy staying here with your husband?”

 

 

I throw my arms around all that is mine and pepper kisses all over his face. “Oh my God, Derek, I am so happy right now I could do cartwheels down the beach.” Staring at the smug grin on his face, I remember the name he called us. “Seriously, though, could you not have thought of a better porn name than DO RIGHT?” He laughs out loud, and it’s the most beautiful sound in the world, then he scoops me up and carries me back to the car. At my look of confusion, he explains that the cleaning crew will be here in an hour.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Grabbing my go bag from the car, we walk down the beach to a Hawaiian BBQ stand. We need to kill time for the cleaning crew to finish, and this place is just a few blocks from the cottage. After ordering, we find a table with a grass umbrella only twenty feet from the water and settle in to wait for our food. She is right about how peaceful this place is from the sound of the waves to the white sandy beach.

 

“We come here at least twice a year, my dad, my sister and I, but I come down by myself almost every other month. Anytime I had a long break or long weekend from school; I would come here. I consider this my home more than Ocean City. I grew up on this beach, and even when I couldn’t remember anything else about myself, I dreamed of this place.”

 

 

She sighs a sound of contentment while staring out at the water. I love the wistful look on her face, so I say nothing, just grab her hand and link our fingers together while we wait for our food. We stay on the beach for about two hours talking after we finish eating. When she talks about her sister and parents, her face lights up, becoming so animated as she tells me of the pranks her and Victoria would play on each other. The death of her mother was so tragic that it changed both her and Tori by making them grow up too fast. I wasn’t much older than they were when I lost both of my parents, but being an only child of older parents seemed to make me more mature at a younger age. As devastating as the loss was, I was already on my own and carving a path for my future when they died. Ren and Tori still live at home; I’m sure for the sake of their dad.

We walk back to the cottage hand in hand, neither one of us in a hurry. When we reach the front door, she grabs a hidden key from under a rock. I scoop her up to carry her inside kicking the door closed behind me. She stares around as if in awe that she is finally here, and when I set her down, she walks off inspecting her second home.

 

 

“I’m home.” She whispers.

 

“Ren, I have to run to the rental agency to pay and pick up the keys.” She looks dumbfounded. “For appearance sake.” Winking at her, I walk over, give her a lingering kiss, and pat her on the ass. “Lock up; I’ll be right back after I grab keys and stop at the store for supplies. Need anything?”

 

 

“Maybe some saltines and 7up; all this traveling and fast food are giving me an upset stomach.”

 

As I walk to the car, I start counting the days since I met her and realized that she has been with me for about four weeks. She has not had her menstrual cycle in that time, and we haven’t used protection at all. This could mean one of three things: 1. She had her cycle in captivity; that thought makes me sick. She was treated like an animal, and I can’t imagine that they would’ve had any compassion for her in that situation. 2. She has irregular cycles. My mom was that way; she said it was a miracle that she even got pregnant with me. 3. She’s pregnant. That is a conversation we will need to have. I have never even asked her how she felt about kids or even if she was ready. For me, I wasn’t going to have any, so having that discussion has never even occurred to me; until now.

Dorothy at the rental agency was a sweet older woman. She has been working with the James family for over ten years and loves Ren and Tori.

 

 

“Oh, it’s just too bad that you are married! Serenity is such a beautiful girl.”

 

 

I laugh to myself that this sweet woman is trying to set me up with my fiancé.

 

 

“I have been trying to set her up with my nephews for ages, but she always turns me down saying she’s too busy to date right now. She comes here all the time, more than the other two. Ever since Caroline died, Nicholas has a hard time coming to the cottage where they spent so much family time.”

 

 

She continues talking about the owner and his family and what wonderful people they are when she catches me looking at my watch.

 

 

“I’m sorry. I’m carrying on, and you probably want to get back to your wife. Well, you two have a wonderful time Mr. Dewright.”

 

 

She hands me back my John Dewright I.D., and I chuckle out loud thinking of Ren’s reaction to my alias. I picked that name because I’m a P.I. and always try to do the right thing, not Ren’s version of Debbie Does Dallas “Do Right.” Man, I’m going to get a kick out of spending the rest of my life with this woman.

At the store, I grab food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several days. I make my way to the beauty section to replenish our supply of shampoo and conditioner. When I pass by feminine products, I grab those too. Thinking of the other possibilities, I grab a pregnancy test as well, one that has two tests just to be sure.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-one

 

Conception:

[_ *the way in which something is perceived or regarded. *ability to imagine; understanding. *the action of conceiving a child or of one being conceived. *a plan or intention. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

Derek returns an hour later with his arms full. He makes several trips out to the car to bring in more supplies, asking if I can help put stuff away. He heads to the bathroom with other sacks telling me they are bathroom supplies.

We cook dinner together and eat on the back porch overlooking the ocean. Even though you can’t see it in the dark, the waves relax me into a dream like state. Derek carries me to bed, and for the first time in a long time, I sleep without nightmares.

For five days we relax and play in the ocean. We have fallen into a comfortable routine, and I feel as though I have known him my entire life. Either that or my subconscious knows him as my soul mate; it just feels right. How else could I be madly in love with this man in such a short time period?

We are sitting on the beach watching the sunset with his arms wrapped around me as he spoons me from behind. “I love you,” I whisper. In that instant, he stops stroking my arms and breathes a sigh on the back of my neck. Oh, Shit! Have I misheard him or misread his actions over the last few weeks? Embarrassment burns my face, and I try to squirm away, but he wraps him arms tighter so I can’t move.

 

 

“Baby, what’s wrong?”

 

Tears pool up and spill over. “I’m sorry Derek, I didn’t mean to say that. I know you probably don’t want some clingy, damaged female professing her love to you. You have been so kind to help me and nurse me back to health. Maybe I misread your signals; I have never been in love before so I don’t know the social protocol. I promise I will keep my thoughts and feelings to myself until this is over.”

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Hey, hey, hey!” I grab her by the waist and spin her around, pulling her close until her legs wrap around my waist. She is crying, and now I feel like shit for not returning her sentiment right away. How could she not believe that I love her too? I asked her to marry me for God’s sakes. I have told her on many occasions that she is mine and I’m never letting her go. This was the first time she has said I love you out loud and conscious; I was stunned silent and just wanted to soak it in for a minute. “What is going on in that head of yours? Look at me, Ren!” Placing my fingers under her chin, I raise her eyes to mine. “What is this nonsense that you didn’t mean to say I love you? Baby, do you not love me?” With her silence I continue. “If that’s the case, why would you say yes to marrying me?”

 

 

“I…I… have never been in love before, and I know it’s too soon, but I feel in my heart that you are it for me; that I will never love another as I do you. I did mean to say it, but when you stopped moving and blew a frustrated breath on my neck…it felt as though you didn’t want to hear it. I’m sorry, Derek, this is my first relationship, and I’m new to this…”

 

 

She motions her hand back and forth between us, making me smile. Mainly because I am her first for everything, and I will make sure I’m damn last too.

 

 

“Not knowing what is appropriate and acceptable is hard for me.”

 

 

She misunderstood my sigh of relief for one of frustration; she’s definitely a newbie in the relationship game. “Baby, you should know that you can say anything or do anything to me and it will always be acceptable; who gives a damn about appropriate! I love you, Ren, and yes, maybe it is soon for some people, but I have never loved anyone before either, other than my parents, so I am not following anybody’s protocol but my own.”

She grabs my face and presses her lips to mine, coaxing them open with the tip of her tongue. I am instantly ready and aching with a need to possess and claim that is crazed. I reach down and slide her bikini bottoms to the side.

 

 

“Oh…my…God… Derek!”

 

 

Then just seeming to realize where we are.

 

 

“We are on a public beach; someone will see us.”

 

 

She seems to melt, and I realize my girl is a little exhibitionist. Not that she wants to have sex in front of other people. However, the thrill of getting caught is turning her on. We find a rhythm and move in sync, sometimes stopping to concentrate on our mouths mating. Never have I felt such an intimate connection and as we move together, she whispers.

 

 

“I love you!”

 

 

Ren

 

 

Rising out of bed to start coffee, I feel dizzy from moving so fast, so I slowly walk into the bathroom to splash water on my face to see if it will help. Feeling a little nauseous, I stare into the pale, sweat-beaded face in the mirror and decide I have the flu. At that moment, the house phone starts ringing. I am Confused for a minute; then I remember that we keep a phone line active. But who would call here? It’s not like we give the number to all the renters so they can pass it along but we keep it connected for emergencies. As I move to the living room, Derek beats me to the phone.

 

“Hello…Oh, hi Mr. James.”

 

 

He is silent for what seems like forever; my body slides into the chair as my knees weaken.

 

 

“Yes, everything is perfect for my wife and me.”

 

 

Oh my God! He is telling my dad we are married! As soon as the thought enters my head, I remember that my dad thinks we are just average renters, so I relax a bit. He doesn’t know it’s me here with Derek; he believes we are John and Jenn Dewright. I listen intently just to hear my dad’s voice as Derek reaches down and hits the speaker button. I think this man can read minds.

 

Well, I just wanted to give you a warm welcome from the James family and make sure everything is to your liking.”

 

 

My dad has always done this. He communicates on a personal level with the people he rents to so they feel like they are extended family; like this is their home too. I asked him about it when I was little saying, “but it is not their home daddy, it is my home.” He just said that if people felt at home in our home, they would take better care of it. In the years of renting it out, no one has ever left the cottage damaged or worse for wear.

 

 

“This place is fantastic. We were so happy to come upon it at the last minute and find it available. Thank you for being so accommodating, Mr. James.”

 

 

“Please, call me Nicholas, and you enjoy the rest of your stay. Have a nice Day.”

 

 

Derek hangs up the phone and kneels down in front of me.

 

 

“Baby. That must have been hard for you, I’m sorry.”

 

 

He looks at my face to probably see the pale skin, sweat and now tears.

 

 

“Are you okay, do you still feel sick?”

 

 

I nod and reach up to wipe my eyes. “I think I need some Pepto-Bismol and more crackers.” He stands up and takes my hand, leading me back to bed.

 

“I’m going to the store. I want you to stay in here until I get back.”

 

 

He kisses my forehead, walks out and locks the door behind him.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Not wanting to be gone too long, I head to the small corner store a mile away, only to find that they don’t carry Pepto-Bismol. Jumping in the truck, I head to the closest major store that is three more miles away. Tourist season is definitely in full swing and traffic is a bitch. The store is crowded with bikini-clad girls and surfer boys talking about the next big wave they’re going to ride. It takes fifteen minutes just to get through the checkout line.

Rushing out to my truck only to see a completely flat tire. “Are you kidding me?” I am so pissed right now; I’m going to lose my temper. I reach under the bed to check the spare tire finding it flat too. I guess that is what happens when it’s left in a garage in the mountains for six months. I call roadside assistance only to be told that they can’t get to me for an hour. I call the rental agency to get the number of the house phone only to get an answering machine telling me they are closed on Sunday. “Shit!” Can anything else go wrong right now?

 

 

Ren

 

 

Lying down is only making me more nauseous, so I head to the bathroom to throw up. I haven’t eaten anything this morning, so I just dry heave for 5 minutes. Grabbing a towel from under the sink, I knock over a small white box, and it tumbles to the floor. Picking it up, I see that it’s a two-pack pregnancy test. Derek must have been worried about me being sick and thought this was a possibility. It is, of course. We haven’t used protection, and I had my last period a week before my sister’s birthday. That means I am one week late and could be about three weeks pregnant.

Jumping into the shower to wash away the sweat, I can’t stop thinking about that little white box on the counter. I decide I’m going to take the test for my peace of mind. Will Derek be happy even though he hasn’t ever wanted kids? He said that he wanted to grow old with me and have babies with me, right before he asked me to marry him. He was so heated at that moment, yelling at me for wanting to pay him back. Was he serious about the babies? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

After dressing, I sit on the toilet to read the instructions for the test. It seems so simple, pee on a stick and wait for pink lines to show up in one to two minutes. Two lines for baby, one line for no. What am I praying for? So I pee on the stick, put the cap on, put the test in my pocket and head for the kitchen. As I pass through the living room, I turn on the T.V., and then head to the fridge to get a Sprite. The voice I hear on the news channel steals my breath and freezes my blood. I close my eyes and listen carefully just to make sure. I never saw a face to that voice, but it is unmistakable. I open my eyes to finally see the man who ran the house I was held captive in. He is standing next to my father who is pleading for the return of his daughters.

 

 

Chapter Twenty-two

 

Sacrifice:

[_ *an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy. *deliberately allow one’s opponent to win _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

The roadside assistance took two hours to get to me. If I had known it would take so long, I would’ve walked back to the cottage and dealt with the truck later. I am stressed about leaving Ren alone for so long that I have a hard time being nice to the guy changing my tire. I offer to help, but he refuses.

 

 

“I would be out of a job if everyone changed his or her own tires.”

 

 

So I sit impatiently by as he whistles while he works. The traffic heading back is just as bad as before, and according to my watch, I have been gone for three hours. At this rate, it will be three and a half before I make it back to Ren.

 

 

Ren

 

 

My dad is pleading to the public for the safe return of his daughters. It is so heartbreaking to see the sorrow that has worn him down. The bastard of a man stands by my father with his hand on his shoulder, pretending to be with an agency that locates missing persons. “He is the bastard who had me kidnapped!” I scream at the T.V., but no one can hear me. I am sobbing on the floor when I see the time on the screen that tells me Derek has been gone for over an hour. The store is only a mile away. What is taking so long?

I realize that nothing would keep Derek away this long unless something bad has happened. Have they found us? Is this news report just a ruse to lull us into a sense of safety? Are they on their way here now, when I don’t have any protection? I am in full panic mode and decide I need to leave now. A bus stop is only two blocks away, so I will go there. I don’t have Derek’s phone number. Why the hell don’t I have his number? I guess we have not been apart since he found me, so there was no reason to call him. I find some cash in his go bag and take five hundred dollars just in case. I grab my bag, throw a few things inside and rush out the door. I will look for a phone booth along the way or borrow a phone and call the cottage. Hopefully, he will get back soon and answer the phone when I call so he can come get me.

When I get to the bus stop, one is just pulling up, so I know I don’t have much time to decide where I’m going. I purchase my ticket at the kiosk and board the bus.

 

 

“Ticket and I.D. please.”

 

 

I feel the color drain from my face and think I’m going to be sick. What will I do if I can’t stay on this bus? My nausea chooses that moment to rear its ugly head and sweat beads on my face. The driver seems to realize that I am going to puke on his shoes and points to the bathroom at the back of the bus. As I move to go past him, he snatches the ticket from my hand then rolls his eyes at me as if he is disgusted. I rush to the bathroom and drop my bag in a seat toward the back as I pass. If this is like an airplane bathroom, there will be no room for me plus my bag. Once again, I have nothing to throw up, so I wash my hands, move to my seat and sit down to cry. The woman sitting next to me whispers.

 

 

“Ahh, Honey, you’re better off without him.”

 

 

I cry harder. When I’m all cried out, I ask the woman if she has a phone I can borrow, and she reluctantly hands it over. Dialing the cottage number, I wait holding my breath, but it just rings and rings. Why the hell don’t we have an answering machine? I look at the time on the phone, and it reads 10:53. I think he left to go to the store around 9:00 a.m. so he has been gone almost two hours.

My thoughts wander to him being caught by the men who took me. There were a lot of men with a lot of guns. Would Derek be able to protect himself? Would they even know he was with me? Then my thoughts wander to my dad. He is in danger! He does not know these are bad men. Will they hurt him if I don’t come back? Was this man sending me a message the only way he thought he could reach me? Does he think, even for one second, that I will recognize him by his voice alone? Knowing it’s a possibility, is he using my dad as bait to bring me to him? Well unfortunately for me, it is working. I will continue to try and reach Derek so he can help me save my dad, but I am now resolved to go back to Ocean City. I am emotionally and physically exhausted. My heart is heavy and so are my eyes. I curl up as much as I can and drift off to sleep.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Three and a half goddamn hours I have been gone, but as pissed off as I have been, a sense of doom takes its place as I pull into the driveway. Is she still in bed too sick to get up? Will she think that I have left her again? I race inside and slam the door behind me, “Ren!” No answer. I move through the cottage calling her name again, still nothing. The bed is empty, the shower only a little wet and a half empty pregnancy test box is on the counter. “Holy shit!” Where did she go? Was she upset by my absence for so long or the results of the test? Racing out back, I scream her name over and over as I run down the beach. Everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy as I ask random people if they’ve seen my wife while showing them a snapshot of her from my phone. In that instant, I realize that I am crazy Jerry from the B&B in Hawkinsville, GA. Is this how bat-shit crazy people act, or lovesick fools who realize they will never find anyone better. Neither is a sane option. After an hour, I head back to the cottage praying that my nightmare has not just become my reality.

Sitting down on the couch, I alternate between staring at the news and staring at the phone, willing it to ring. I am torn between leaving to look for her and staying until she comes back. If I stay, I risk her getting further away, whether she’s on her own or at the hands of evil men. If I leave to find her, will she come back and think I’m not coming back for her at all?

At two o’clock, it dawns on me that I haven’t checked to see if anything is missing. I head for the bedroom and notice immediately that most of Ren’s things and her bag are gone. What scared her enough to leave? Did she take the test and think I wouldn’t be happy about the results? We have had many misunderstandings over the last month due to different perceptions. I pray that this is one of those times and she didn’t change her mind about me. I start gathering up all my things and get ready to find Ren. Walking through the house, I turn off lights and lock the back door. I grab the remote to turn off the T.V. when I see the caption below the news anchor. ‘Up next, Delaware father pleads for the safe return of his missing daughters.’

“Son of a bitch!” Did she see this report? I know I explained the reason why she could not contact her dad just yet. Did she see or hear something that changed her mind about going home? Looking at the T.V. as the report airs, I see Nicholas James standing at a podium. He is pleading for his daughter’s safe return and is offering a one hundred thousand dollar reward.

Ren’s dad looks a little worse for wear. In the cottage is a photo of the four of them, and he looked happy and healthy then. I’m sure the loss of his wife attributed to weight loss and the sadness that seems permanently etched into his face, but now he looks gaunt. The man standing behind him speaks next, introducing himself as Private Investigator Sully. He lists the possible sightings of one of the daughters; they aren’t sure which because the sisters look so much alike: Hartford, CT. Fredericksburg, VA, and Savannah, GA.

 

 

“It is our deduction that one of these women has been traveling south on I 95 towards Florida. The other sister has been spotted leaving Montauk, NY by boat but we are not sure of the direction it traveled. We believe that the men they are being held by are armed and dangerous. Please do not approach them but call the number listed below with any information you may have on the whereabouts of either of these women, Thank you.”

 

Damn! If Ren saw this news report, she either thinks her sister is out of the house with Jax on the run, or Jax did not get her to safety before she was shipped to Russia. I have checked my email several times a day for weeks since Jax went undercover, and I haven’t received any correspondence since the vague email that said: “Found her, RUN!” Turning off the T.V. and grabbing my bags, I head for the truck. I need to start calling all of my connections along the coast to help me locate Ren before her captors do. Jax would have contacted me by now if the women were out of danger. Ren could be running right into a trap, and I need to find her before that happens.

I throw my bags in the cab and climb in when I hear a faint ringing sound. “Shit!” The phone in the cottage is ringing. Racing back to the front door and throwing the rock out of the way, I grab the keys and struggle to get the door open. How many times has it rung? “Shit, shit, shit.” The door finally pops open just as the phone stops ringing. “Aahhhh!” Bellowing to no one but myself, I run to the phone. The caller I.D. shows the last number with an x 2 to the side, so I grab it and hit call back. No answer. “Could this day get any worse?” I dial again, and on the fourth ring, a woman answers with a strong Spanish accent.

 

“Ello.” Banging and rustling sounds are coming through the earpiece. “Ello…I’m so sorry, are you there?”

 

 

“Yes, yes I’m here, I’m sorry, I just missed a call from this number.”

 

 

“Oh jes, a woman on de bus use my phone.”

 

 

God bless my stroke of luck, I’ve found her.

 

 

“Can I speak to her, please? It’s an emergency!”

 

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m not on bus, she stay on and drive away jus now.”

 

 

So no luck! “Can you tell me where you are?”

 

“Jes, Tallahassee.”

 

Maybe a little luck, at least now I know she is on a bus and heading west, probably to Jacksonville then north to Delaware. I race back outside to my truck, not bothering to lock up and head for Tallahassee. I will call the rental company tomorrow to let them know we had to leave for a family emergency and the keys are in the door.

 

 

Ren

 

 

Waking up to rustling sounds and my elbow being knocked into my side, I sit up and rub the sleep out of my eyes. The lady that was next to me grabs her bags from the overhead bin and walks down the aisle. “Wait!” She is stepping off the bus by the time I squeeze my way to the front. I step off after her and ask to borrow her phone one more time. She nods and hands it to me.

 

 

“Hurry up lady; we leave again in five minutes. I have to be driving by 2:15 p.m.” The bus driver calls out to me.

 

 

While the phone is ringing to the cottage, I grab a bottled water and Doritos from the newspaper stand. No Answer. Where in the hell is Derek? What happened to him? Grabbing my change and handing the woman her phone, I board the bus that is now heading to Jacksonville and the doors close behind me.

Sitting back down in my seat, staring out the window in a daze, thinking of the many unanswered questions pinging around in my head. Worrying about Derek is driving me crazy. To not know what happened to him is making me sick. What am I going to do when I get home? How do I contact my dad without my kidnappers knowing I am in Ocean City? Where in the hell is Tori if that man is with my father? Should I assume that he has lost us both and is pulling out all the stops to get us back?

I grab my water and Doritos and polish them off in three minutes. I forgot that I hadn’t eaten yet today. I shift in my seat to get more comfortable, and something digs into my upper thigh. I reach into my pocket and pull out the pregnancy test. In my panic and race to the bus, I totally forgot I even took it. All I have to do is turn it over, but I can’t make my fingers move. Is life going to throw me through another loophole and put me on a completely different path? I slowly turn the test over to stare at the little window. Yes, yes it is.

Thinking of Olivia, I wonder how she may have felt when she found out she was pregnant. She was alone, with no way to find the father. I at least know where Derek lives in Connecticut and that he works and also lives in Boston. Poor Alex doesn’t even know his own daddy. Maybe when this is all over, Derek can help Olivia locate her baby daddy. I laugh a little at the saying.

My head is spinning with too many questions. I am tired again. I don’t think I have ever been this tired in my life. I hear that a lot of women suffer from morning sickness. Apparently, I just go comatose. I hope everything is okay, that this is not some way of my body telling me something is wrong. I close my eyes and dream of Derek and his blue-eyed, dark-haired, little boy.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-three

 

Desperation:

[_ *feeling or showing a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with. *tried in despair or when everything else has failed. *extremely serious or dangerous. *very bad. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

Racing down the Interstate, it only takes me two hours to make it to Tallahassee. Pulling into the bus station, I check the schedules and see that the bus Ren was on, according to the Spanish lady, continued on to Jacksonville. From there she would change buses to head north and home to Ocean City. According to the schedules, the bus heading north from Jacksonville leaves at 7:00 pm. The bus she’s on will arrive at 5:15 pm. I won’t get there until 6:45 or 7:00 depending on traffic going into Jacksonville. She had better keep her ass safe until I find her, but she will soon know her ass is not safe from me. I am going to paddle her, and not like the last time when she seduced me into spanking her and taking her hard.

When I reach Ren, we will be having a long talk, again, about safety protocols. What is she thinking by running off without me? Did she think after the last five or so weeks of being together that I would leave her on purpose? Did she think she is in danger and I couldn’t help her? What in the hell did she see or hear to make her run? I don’t recall the news report saying anything she didn’t already know unless the information about one sister being taken by boat has freaked her out. Maybe she thinks she has nothing to lose by coming forward if her sister has been shipped to Russia. We don’t know for sure that Jax doesn’t have her or has had her for weeks. She knows her dad is searching for her and her sister from the radio channel we heard days ago. What is different now? Why not wait for me so we could do this together? It is a high possibility that she is pregnant. Did she run because of that? Does she doubt how I feel about her?

Once again, I make it to Jacksonville in record time considering the heavy traffic. Pulling in at 6:45 pm, I have 15 minutes to find the bus heading north and find Ren. Finding a parking spot is a bitch, so I am rushing to the bulletin to check schedules and bus numbers. There are at least twenty buses coming and going so finding 301 takes a minute. Climbing on, I flash my badge at the driver as he asks for ticket and I.D. He nods at me to continue, so I move towards the back checking every seat for Ren. This bus leaves in five minutes, and Ren is nowhere in sight. In the back seat, I find her bag but not Ren. The driver announces last call, so I grab her bag and move to the front. I show the driver a snapshot picture of Ren on my phone. “This woman boarded and left her bag. Did you see which way she went?” He points to the market by ticketing.

 

 

“She got on and said she couldn’t find her wallet and I.D. She asked if she could leave her bag and went to go find it in the market where she last had it.”

 

 

Something just doesn’t add up. Ren doesn’t have a wallet or I.D. Come to think of it, how did she even get on the first bus? Maybe this driver is more of a hard-ass than the last one and was giving her a hard time. Maybe she thinks he will take pity on her when she can’t find her imaginary wallet. She is clever. She is probably waiting until the last minute when the driver doesn’t want to waste time arguing with her, or he would feel bad for her and just let it slide. I step down and scan the crowd but can’t see her anywhere.

 

 

Ren

 

 

Stepping off the bus in Jacksonville, I spot a pay phone by the market. I will continue calling the cottage every chance I get just in case Derek is waiting there for me. No answer. In my panic, I didn’t even think to leave a note. I hope he knows that I would never willingly leave unless I thought my family or he and I were in danger, but now I am alone and exposed. We avoided Jacksonville on our way to Destine after hearing the radio announcement; now I am exactly where I shouldn’t be. Trying not to be seen, I buy a beanie and tuck all of my hair up into it. Unfortunately, it makes the hat look deformed, so people stare at me anyway. I have an hour and thirty minutes until my bus leaves, so I order a turkey sandwich and sit down at the deli counter in the market. I can only eat half, so I wrap up what’s left to save for later and lay my head on the table.

At 6:40 while walking to my bus, I pray the driver will let me pass without I.D. When I climb on he looks at me as if I’m homeless.

 

 

“Ticket and I.D. please.”

 

 

I fumble around in my bag as if looking for it and start my panic act.

 

 

“Oh no, I think I left my wallet in the market. I hope it’s still there. Can I leave my bag while I go grab it?” He gives me another disgusted look.

 

 

Sure lady, but we leave at 7:00 p.m. sharp with or without you.”

 

 

Placing my bag at the back, I head back to the market. What am I going to do? This guy doesn’t seem like the type to fall for the puking act. He would probably prefer I not board his bus with that issue. I am feeling a little green and sweat is beading on my face for the third time today. I head to the bathroom inside the market to figure out my plan. Okay, think, you’ve got this. At two minutes to 7:00 pm I am going to run and hop on the bus crying, saying it was lost and that I have to get home for a family emergency. The driver seems impatient and won’t want his precious schedule delayed so maybe he will just yell at me and tell me to sit down with my stuff. With ten minutes to go, I think I’ll wait outside and watch the bus, so the driver doesn’t leave without me. He seems like the type to leave early on purpose. Exiting the bathroom through the outside entrance, I slam into a very hard body as unforgiving arms wrap around me.

 

 

“Well hello, Pet.” The malevolent voice whispers. “We’ve been waiting for you. You are a very bad pet and will need to be punished.”

 

 

My blood runs cold, making me feel numb all over. This man is not who was with my dad on T.V. but one of the other faceless voices I remember. What do I do? Should I scream and kick and fight? Just as I am about to fight for my life, his next words change my mind.

 

 

“We have your dad, and if you don’t come quietly, he will be killed. You and your sister have created enough trouble for Sully that he will have no problem tying up loose ends.”

 

 

He wraps his arms around me and pulls me close as if we are lovers, steering me away from the market, the buses, and freedom.

 

 

Derek

 

 

The bus starts and a minute later the driver closes the door. Any minute I expect to spot Ren as she is running for the departing bus, but she never comes. Her bag and all of her things were on that bus. She wouldn’t willingly leave it even if she had seen me and was worried about my reaction once I found her. My heart is racing because I know that something is wrong. Going into the market, I scan every face down every aisle. No Ren. Pulling up my picture of her, I show it to the cashier. “Have you seen this woman?”

 

 

“Ya dude, she was in here killing time waiting for her bus. She sat right over by the window for an hour then left”.

 

 

He points over by the deli to three permanent booths.

 

 

“Then she came back looking really sick and ran into the bathroom; I didn’t see her come out. It’s been a busy day man; lotta people lookin’ for that girl.”

 

 

Knowing I don’t want the answer but can’t help myself from asking, “who else was looking for her?”

 

 

“Two guys, Man, said she was their sister or some shit, that she was in trouble and they were tryin’ to help her.”

 

 

I want to strangle this oblivious asshole and have to count to three before I speak. “Did you tell the men where she was?” He seems to notice the fury written all over my face and stutters his next words.

 

 

“I…I… just said she was here, but…but I didn’t see where she went.”

 

Goddamn, son of a bitch! They may have her. Unfortunately for them, I know where they are taking her and it’s not home to Delaware. Driving leaves too much room for more sightings, and she can’t fly commercially without I.D. Taking a boat will take longer than driving. I head to the nearest FBO by the Jacksonville airport to check the private flights. This human trafficking bastard is probably a millionaire from selling women and has his own airplanes. Maybe someone has seen her and can give me information.

Walking into the FBO to get answers, a woman sitting behind the counter looks up. Her eyes scan me up and down, and I realize I can use her interest to gain information. “Hello, Sweetheart. Busy day today?” Her cheeks flush at the endearment, and she smiles big and bats her eyes.

 

 

“No, not at all. It’s so slow that I was about to take an early lunch. You’re lucky; you just caught me.”

 

 

I’m sure there is a double meaning to that statement, but I’m not interested and running out of time. “ Sweetheart, I’m looking for a woman that may have come through here in the last thirty minutes or so and she is possibly in danger. Is there any way you could help me?” She looks a little defeated but nods her head, so I show her the picture on my phone.

 

 

“Oh yes, I remember her, she was really sick and threw up in my garbage can, poor thing. Her brothers seemed impatient like their irritation would make her feel better. She put them in their place, though. She said her sickness wasn’t going away for nine months; that was hilarious! You should’ve seen their faces all pale and sickly. I laughed and said now they looked like her. They didn’t think that was funny.”

 

Oh my God! I’m going to be a dad. Hell of a way to find out. Things with Ren and I have not been the traditional meet, date, engagement, marriage and kids, sort of relationship, but I wouldn’t change a thing; other than the suffering and danger she seems to be in constantly. It will be a full-time job just keeping her and my baby safe.

“Did they file a flight plan or say anything about where they were going? “ Crossing my fingers and praying for a change in luck, she confirms my suspicion.

 

 

“No flight plan, however, I did hear one brother say that she was going to regret it when they got back to New York. It’s a good thing they won’t get there until tomorrow; her brothers seem like assholes.”

 

“Why not until tomorrow?”

 

 

“Well, their plane needs to stop for fuel along the way, but the FBO’s are all closed by the time they land. They will have to spend the night and fly out in the morning after 8:00 a.m.”

 

 

My luck is improving. Susan, from what her nametag reads, books me a non-stop commercial flight into JFK from Jacksonville that leaves at 9:00 p.m. It is a two and a half hour flight, which puts me into New York by 11:26 pm. I will have about twelve hours to get everything in place to take these Bastards down.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-four

 

Elimination:

[_ *the complete removal or destruction of something. *the exclusion of someone or something from consideration or further participation. *the removal of a variable from an equation. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

Today has turned out to be the worst day. I can’t stop throwing up, and I don’t know if it is the flight, the company, or the baby, but something has got to give. Asshole #1 and two stick me in the back of a four-seat plane, hand me a throw-up bag and a bottle of water. Flying is not something that has bothered me before now, but the turbulence in this little plane is so jarring it feels like I’m on the bumpiest roller coaster. Thank God we are landing, but this is definitely not New York. I look out the window and see nothing but fields, not even a real runway, and get sick all over again.

We leave the plane after an incredibly bumpy landing, and I see the landing strip we came in on. It is no wider than a two-lane road with lights that line it so dim that I don’t know how Asshole #1 even saw them. The building we are walking to looks deserted, but the metal door opens into a dark airplane hangar. Asshole #1 flips on the lights showing an office to the left. Following them through that door leads to another door on the opposite side. Inside this room are four army cots that line one wall and a bathroom on the other. Asshole #2 pushes me roughly to the cot.

 

 

Lay down and get some sleep, Pet. You are going to have a rough day tomorrow when we meet up with Sully.”

 

 

“My name is Serenity James, I…” before I can finish that sentence he backhands me across the face knocking me backward onto the narrow bed.

 

 

“God dammit Mac! Not the face,” Asshole #1 yells.

 

 

“What difference does it make now? Stupid bitch went and got herself pregnant. We have been scouring the Jacksonville airport, boat docks, and bus stations for three days. I’m tired and pissed, so I’m not about to put up with her disobedience. It’s her attitude that got Mike and Gordon killed.

 

 

Asshole two sneers in my direction. This feels like déjà vu when once upon a-weeks-ago, I woke up in the car to the tattooed guy and the driver fighting. Maybe I’ll get lucky again, but instead of a car accident, they will kill each other.

 

 

“You know Sully has cures for that sort of thing. I’m sure he wants to teach her a lesson himself.”

 

 

Asshole #1 looks over at me with pity reflected in his eyes. Does he mean what I think he means? Are they going to force an abortion on me? Everything happens so fast, and all I can think of is to save my baby from these monsters. Flying off the cot and rushing Asshole #2, I jam my knee right between his legs and claw at his eyes at the same time. With a loud grunt, he falls to the floor. Jumping over his body, I race toward the office and out into the hangar. Not knowing where else to go, I run for the metal door and almost make it. A powerful arm wraps around my neck and begins to squeeze. In this position, I can’t fight. My hands reach up to grab a powerful forearm to lessen his grip, but I’ve not eaten much and have been sick, so I am no match for him.

 

 

“Stop fighting it, Pet. It will all be over soon enough,” Asshole #1 whispers.

 

 

So many things flash before my eyes: Derek’s face as he smiles at me then feeds me cheesecake as he slips a ring on my finger−walking hand in hand with him on my favorite beach. The way he makes love to me, sometimes tender and sometimes deliciously hard. A beautiful baby boy I have already nicknamed little D. The look on his face as he finds out I’m not coming home.

 

 

Derek

 

 

It pays to have friends in high places, or low, as Jax would say. Snake, Boomer, Case, and Jim were all part of Jax’s Seal team when he was in the Navy. Snake was the sly one, able to sneak into any place without being detected. Boomer was the explosives expert. He lost an eye to shrapnel when he didn’t want to look away from an exploding building. Case is the unpredictable one that has PTSD. They call him Head-Case behind his back but know he always has theirs. He was the resident medic and has saved every one of their lives at one point or another. Jim is just Jim. He is the IT guy and the genius that set up our unbreakable coded email years ago.

Jax introduced me to these men he called brothers three years ago while investigating the disappearance of a two-year-old little girl. He called them in to assist us in getting her out of a compound that she and her mother were taken into. The grandparents hired me to find her, and I brought in Jax and his connections to get her out. The mother was brainwashed and didn’t want to leave; we took her out anyway. After extensive therapy and rehab, she now lives with her daughter and parents while going to school.

If anyone can help me take these bastards out, it’s these men. Unfortunately, Jax still has not surfaced, but his brothers don’t seem to be worried. When I ask them if they knew where he would go, they just exchanged looks and said ”Nope” in unison. They definitely have information they aren’t willing to share.

The minute I left the FBO for the airport in Jacksonville, I started making phone calls, well one anyway. Snake put together the team, and they were waiting at JFK when I arrived. Now holed up in a Montauk Hotel with the plat maps spread before us, we get to work. Jim has already ruled out the abandoned warehouse I’d marked, due to no power going in. Vrennikov Consulting is located on Sound View Drive. My gut tells me to quit wasting time because this is it, but we can’t afford to make mistakes. Ren and my baby’s lives are at stake, so we will not guess anything. Snake volunteered to check out the Oil Company rental about an hour ago; he should be back any minute.

As we pull up Google Earth, we discover that Vrennikov Consulting is located in a house that has been turned into commercial property. Just then, Snake walks in with his thumbs down.

 

 

“No women there man, just suits. They use the house as an employee retreat, and only two guys are there now. No guards, no guns or any evidence that they are guarding anything. Vrennikov Consulting it is!”

 

It is 5:00 a.m. when we slide into place around the house. Jim pulls out his trusted laptop and is already logging into the house security system to shut down alarms. He leaves the cameras operating so he can guide us through from out here. Snake moves, silent but deadly, to the side of the house where he will climb through a first-floor window. His plan is to take out as many guards as he can while making his way to the basement and the captive women. Case has me a little nervous. He is shifting from foot to foot mumbling something in a foreign language, German I think. We give him the go ahead, and he moves down to the water to disable any boats that can be used as a getaway. None of the guards will be going anywhere but up in flames. Boomer has already started setting bombs around the perimeter of the house. He will also make his way inside with C-4, strategically placing the explosives so that the house will implode upon itself. Never will another woman look at these walls in despair.

 

Over the headpiece, I hear Snake whisper, “three down.”

 

 

Jim is staring intently at the screen. “How many heat signatures are there?”

 

 

“Twelve, but I can’t see in the basement where they probably keep the women.”

 

 

Ren had said she was in a room with no windows. By reasoning, that would mean a basement. Is it possible that Jax got all of the women out? We still have to search every room in the house to be sure. Why are there no reports or news broadcasts of other missing women? Ren was sure there were more in the house with her, even though she didn’t see them. How many women and girls go missing each day? Are they listed as runaways, so the authorities don’t bother with news bulletins? Most of the cases of missing persons I have worked over the years were children. Either taken by an estranged parent or maybe someone close to the family. This is the first time I have personal knowledge that this is a widespread issue.

Snake gives the go ahead for me to move inside. Jim points to the screen and circles the upper floor with his finger. There are nine heat signatures on the top floor, and the three on the main floor are now completely motionless. I quickly move to the open window and slip inside. As I move through the office, I see one dead guard at the doorway, almost as if he was walking out when Snake surprised him. His throat has been slit, and a pool of blood is continuing to grow around his head and upper body. Moving down the hall, to my left I enter a kitchen and great room. To my right, still sitting up in a chair by the front door, is another dead guard with a hole between his eyes.

The smell of the home is predominantly male body odor, stale food, and cigarette smoke. The kitchen counters are littered with rotting take out food containers and beer bottles. A lot of money has been put into the renovation of this mid-century home, but the occupants don’t seem to know its value or have the desire to take care of it.

Not seeing the third guard that Snake has killed, I move cautiously to the stairs across the room. Standing at the bottom and listening for any sound, I see Snake at the top of the stairs motioning me forward. As I reach the top, he holds up four fingers and points to the left down the hall, then holds up four and points to the right. He starts moving to the left, so I go right.

At the end of my hall, a door is open to show a master bedroom. The king size four-poster bed takes up the center of the room. It has intricate iron bars that cross together overhead with a single chain hanging from the center canopy with a collar attached to the end. Sick bastard! This room must belong to the boss where the chain and collar hold a woman by the neck in a position of submission, just like he wants her. How many women have been raped in this room? No more from this day forward.

Moving to the next door, I slowly push it open to see two sets of bunk beds with four occupants. Just as I start to move forward, I hear a shout and several grunts coming from behind me and know I need to move fast before these guys wake up. At the first bunk, I slit the throat of the guard on bottom severing his jugular so he can’t scream. Standing up, I put a bullet in the head of the guy on the top bunk just as he starts to move. Even with the suppressor, the popping sound echoes through the room. Spinning around just as the two guards from the other bunk start to move, I get off one shot hitting the guy in the top bunk in the neck. He falls back onto the bed but only makes gasping and gurgling sounds. Before I can re-aim, I am tackled to the floor. This guard is the size of a linebacker, and I am crushed beneath his weight as he rains blows to my head and body like a prized fighter. I block punches with one arm and reach with the other for the knife in my boot. A popping sound echoes through the room, and I wait for the pain to come. The only thing I feel is the air being forced from my body as this heavyweight champion falls on top of me. “Fuuuuck,” is the last thing I squeeze out as booted feet stand by my head.

 

 

“Need a hand, Mate?”

 

 

What do you think, you Australian motherfucker? I have never been so happy to see Jax in all my life. Once Jax has rolled the heavy bastard off of me so I can finally breathe, he holds out his hand to help me up. “It’s about damn time you show your face. I hope you have a damn good reason for going off grid.”

Just then, Snake walks into the room.

 

 

“Jim tells me we are missing a guard. He saw nine heat signatures up here and three down on the main floor. Once the fighting broke out, one person headed downstairs, but when he moved to the basement, his signature was lost.”

 

 

We both look to Jax.

 

 

“Not me, Mate, I came through the front door and came straight upstairs; Kinda pissed you started the party without me.”

 

Snake, Jax and I work our way to the basement, checking the top two floors again as we go. At the bottom of the stairs is a game room with a pool table, darts, and an air hockey table. A huge sectional takes up the center of the room, and a T.V. is mounted on the wall. On one end of the big room is a hallway that leads to three doors, with the same set up on the other end of the room. This house is obviously just a storage facility. There are no decorations or personal effects of the people who live here. Once again, Snake goes left, and I go right to the cluster of rooms. Jax moves to search all the doors in the main room. As I move to the hallway, I stop and listen for sounds of movement and hear nothing. I open the first door slowly to a brightly lit room. There is a cushion in one corner and pet bowls next to it. Ren described this very room when explaining where she was kept. The light is on, but I don’t see any switches in here.

When I think of her curled up on that cushion after they beat for her defiance, my blood boils. It’s a good thing that the tattooed guy died in that crash; I would love nothing more than to spend a year torturing that asshole.

I cross the hall to the second room and slowly open the door. It takes me a minute to realize what I’m seeing, but I finally get my feet to work and rush to the cushion in the corner. Nicholas James is propped in the corner with his head lolled forward. “Jax!” I shout as I see Nick’s wrists are slit, and he is bleeding out. “Radio Case and get him down here.” Jax rushes in behind me with blood running down his face.

 

 

“Oh, Shit! Tori’s dad,” Jax curses.

 

 

I am ripping off my shirt and tearing strips to wrap his wrists just as Case rushes in soaking wet. He pushes me out of the way and motions toward Jax.

 

 

“Help Him,” he mouths to me.

 

 

Moving towards Jax, I hold out the remains of my shirt and start looking for injuries.

 

 

“Not mine.” He says as he wipes the blood off his face.

 

 

Boomer steps in next. “Charges are set. Does someone want to hold the remote; I have trigger finger?”

 

 

He winks but we all know he’s not kidding, so I take the remote and put it in my pocket.

Once Nick’s wrists are wrapped, Case and Boomer pick him up and carry him upstairs. Moving to the door, I open it to find the SUV parked on the lawn right at the front door. They lift Nicholas into the back, and Case climbs in behind him. Boomer shuts the door, and Jim drives off like a bat out of hell. I pray he makes it. I would hate to tell Ren that the bastards who took her also killed her father.

Our clean up crew consists of Jax, Boomer, Snake, and I. Jim and Case are to remain at the hospital with Nick so they can report to us on his condition. We pull all the dead bodies down to the basement, tossing them into the rooms. One guard was already in the basement, half in and half out of the closet; explaining the source of blood that was all over Jax’s face. We figured that this was the missing guard from upstairs that somehow slipped passed us. The guard must have been trying to eliminate their one witness once he realized the house was under attack. I find the third guard from the main floor in the kitchen by the fridge, also in a pool of blood.

We clean up as much blood as we can, and what we can’t clean, we cover up with blankets and rugs. When the other guards arrive at the house, hopefully, they will believe it’s deserted.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-five

 

Control:

[_ *the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events. *the ability to restrain one’s own emotion or actions. *the restriction of an activity, tendency, or phenomenon. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

Waiting has got to be the hardest thing I have ever done. It’s 10:45 a.m., and I realize that I haven’t seen Ren in over twenty-four hours. My thoughts have gone in so many different directions that I’m starting to doubt decisions I’ve made; starting with going to the store yesterday morning. How in the hell, just that one act would lead to where I am now, is overwhelming. If I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have lost Ren. She wouldn’t be in the hands of monsters. I wouldn’t be in this house with twelve dead bodies and a group of men I owe my life to. What if they don’t bring her back here? How did Jax get here and where in the hell has he been? I haven’t had the time to ask the million-dollar question. Where is Tori?

While dragging bodies downstairs, I ask Snake how Jax got here?

 

 

“He flew.” As if that answers all my questions.

 

 

I know these men are tight, and any information I want will have to come from Jax. After searching for five minutes, I find him on the sofa upstairs lying down with his hands linked at his abdomen. He appears to be in his element; he is calm and relaxed while I am crawling out of my skin. There are twelve dead guards downstairs, and who knows how many more will be coming in with Ren? Before I can start quizzing him, he speaks, eyes still closed, calm and controlled.

 

“I know you have a lot of questions, Mate, but I will say what I say, and that will be the end of it.” My silence seems to be all he needs. “As you know, I came into this house undercover to train submissive women. I searched missing persons after I left you that day and found Serenity and Victoria James. Gone missing April 15th and fitting your description of Ren. She and Tori look so much alike they could be twins. Unspeakable things were happening in this house, and I knew I had to make my move soon. There were four women when I arrived and yes, Ren was the missing woman. I’m sure over the last five weeks, you have been able to gather more information than I have about what happened to these women in captivity.”

 

I don’t understand that statement since he has been with Tori for the last three weeks himself, but I don’t say anything so he will continue.

 

“Snake called me last night right after he spoke to you. I didn’t want to leave Tori but needed to take this opportunity to take these bastards out so she could start healing. She is broken but slowly healing. She eats and sleeps but communicates very little. She was in this house fighting for her sanity for two weeks until I got here, and I had to keep her here for another week lying my ass off about who I am. It was hell trying to get her to trust me; the bastard guard, sent here to rape her. In the week she has been free, she is practically mute. Before you ask, I am not moving her or disclosing our location. I know Serenity has to be worried sick, and her father is now fighting for his life, but you are going to have to trust me that this is what’s best for her state of mind. Once we know all of these bastards are taken care of, I will set her free.”

 

Goddammit, Jax! You don’t get to decide what is best for her. She has a family who needs her, and she needs them! You are not her family!” In an instant, Jax explodes off the couch from his seemingly relaxed position and gets right in my face.

 

“The Hell I’m not! She is mine! I will do everything in my power to protect what’s mine. Are you telling me you don’t feel the same way about Serenity? Are you telling me that this,” he waves his hands around to encompass the house, “is not you protecting what’s yours? Who the hell are you to tell me anything when you locked Serenity away in your secret lair? You didn’t call the police. You didn’t take her to a hospital. Why? Mate. You knew deep down in your bones that she is yours and you don’t trust her safety to anyone else. Don’t lecture me when you have kept Serenity’s whereabouts from her father as well. I know why you did it. Having her father know about her and worry what was still happening to Victoria would have killed him. Having him know about either one of them would expose one or both sisters and put him in danger. I know how you think because I think the same things. It may seem cruel to keep them hidden from the people who love them, but that is the safest way for now until we remove this threat. Sully Vrennikov will stop at nothing to retrieve these two sisters. Their escape alone has put his life in jeopardy. His buyers are at risk of being discovered, and they will kill the supplier before they go down themselves.”

 

“Sully, as in P.I. Sully? Was he the guy on the news claiming to be helping the James family locate the missing sisters? How the hell did I not know about Sully? Oh, that’s right, because you went off-grid and didn’t bother to contact me. You knew who he was since the day you walked into this house and couldn’t even bother to let me know what to look for. I just thought he was some private investigator that Ren’s dad hired to help him.”

We are standing toe to toe facing off like raging bulls about to charge. It is taking immense control not to wrap my hands around his neck and choke the life out of him. Jax’s team has come upstairs and is surrounding us, prepared to interfere if necessary.

All of the pieces start to click into place. “Shit! That is why she ran. She must have seen him on the news and realized her dad was in danger. When I didn’t come back for three hours, she panicked. She probably thought they were on to us and had gotten to me too. A little communication from you would have been nice. Maybe Ren wouldn’t be in their hands again if I’d known what to look for.” We are both yelling every word as if that will somehow pound its meaning deeper into the other’s brain.

 

“What the hell do you think going off grid is? I was running too, you dumb son of a bitch! I couldn’t even use all my boys for backup. I was hoping you would’ve been smarter than to take her to Hartford for a day at the spa. They had scouts out looking for her within a hundred mile radius. People talk Mate. You could still be holed up in your hidden mountain retreat if you’d just laid low.”

 

The guilt I feel is crippling. Even though the car crashed only twenty yards from my road, and they would have found my cabin eventually, I was the one to expose Ren by taking her out.

Like Jax is doing now with Tori, there are things that I’ve done for Ren in order to start the healing process that I wouldn’t change. Exposing her and getting that email from Jax, probably prevented those bastards from getting the jump on us, though. We were able to stay one step ahead, and that is what saved her life and mine, up until now.

 

“Look, Mate, I understand your stress, but we will get her back. We have already laid the groundwork and made this place safer for her return. If I know Sully, he won’t take her anywhere else. He is a man full of pride and will bring Serenity back here, if for nothing else, just to teach her a lesson. She started the domino effect−crippling his operation by her escape and survival. He will stop at nothing to get revenge on you both.” At my look of confusion, he continues. “From the people in Hartford, he knows you are a P.I. and that you were with her. I think that is why he went to her father posing as one. He was hoping to flush you out, and if not you, Serenity. It sounds like it worked.”

 

So much of this information would have been helpful twenty-seven hours ago, but the pieces of the puzzle that are coming together are a little too late. I know Jax made the best of his situation as I did, so I can’t blame him for his actions any more than he can blame me. I look at my watch to see it’s already 11:00 a.m., and depending on how fast the little plane flies, we are about to have company.

Snake takes control of our team since Jax is too close to the situation and emotional people sometimes don’t think rational. He orders us to spread throughout the house, so I take the master bedroom closet. I’m sure this is where the bastard will bring Ren, and I need to be the one to make this right for her. Jax takes one of the bedrooms upstairs that looks out onto the front yard and driveway. Snake and Boomer take the basement in case any guards go downstairs to check on their one prisoner. Speaking of prisoners, what happened to the other women that Ren said she heard crying? I ask Jax as we move upstairs to our locations.

 

“Savage took the other three to safe houses, and they are in witness protection programs until this is resolved. Any information they can give us on Sully’s connections is essential to taking out these operations.”

 

 

I can see most of the bedroom through the slats in the closet doors, and I have a feeling that this is where he will come. Waiting seems to be the one thing that will snap my control, and I don’t know how much control I will have once I see him with Ren.

 

“SUV pulling in…two guards and Sully…Oh shit!”

 

 

I am ready to burst out of the closet, run outside and kill these assholes. That “oh shit” better not mean something bad has happened to Ren, and she looks worse than when I saw her last. If they’ve harmed one hair on her head, I will kill these bastards twice.

 

 

“Hold your position, Mate,” Jax snaps back.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-six

 

Revenge:

[_ *the action of hurting or harming someone in return for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands. *inflict retribution for a wrong or injury done to oneself or another. *the desire to repay an injury or wrong. _]

 

 

Derek

 

 

The shouting downstairs lets us know that the guards and Sully have come inside.

 

 

“Where the hell is everyone? It’s eleven o’clock in the morning you lazy bastards, get up! Jones, Mac; go downstairs and check on our guest. Don’t bother coming upstairs for a while. I’m going to be busy teaching our little trouble maker a lesson before we dump her in the ocean.”

 

As the footsteps climb the wooden stairs, the sound becomes louder as he reaches the top. I wait impatiently for that first glimpse of Ren but what I see is not what I expect. Her body is limp in Sully’s arms as if she is dead weight. Her arms dangling and head lolling from side to side as he moves her to the bed. So that is what the “oh shit” was about. She looks dead, and I’m sure Jax was concerned about my reaction to this first sight. He places her in the center right below the hanging collar, but if this raping bastard thinks for one second that he will have an opportunity to get his rocks off, he has another thing coming.

I can’t get a clear shot without putting Ren in danger of being hit, so I watch and wait for the perfect kill shot. Sully reaches over her to grab ropes from a nightstand and proceeds to roll her body onto her stomach then binds her hands. What the hell is that for? She is unconscious you sick bastard! He then grabs her hips and pulls up bringing her knees underneath her. He pins her knees between his own and pulls her head up by her hair to fasten the collar around her neck. It is taking everything I have to stay in that closet. I need this man dead. To never be able to hurt women this way again. To put to rest Ren’s nightmare so she can fully heal. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a white looking swab, then leans forward to pass it under Ren’s nose. She shakes her head violently trying to get away from the offense and cries out once she realizes how she is restrained.

 

 

“There’s my little pet. You have been a very bad pet.”

 

 

She has gone motionless at the sound of his voice.

 

 

Ren

 

 

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod! My nightmare has come to life, and life’s little loopholes did not give me a better reality. How in the hell did I get here? I was just running for my life at the podunk airport hangar, and now I’m here. I was sure they were going to kill me right then; that would have been preferable to this. Please, please, please, God, if there are any prayers to be answered, let it be mine. I just want to see Derek smile at me one more time. Instead, I turn my head to look into beady brown eyes set in a face with sharp angles and dark hair pulled back into a ponytail that drapes over one shoulder. Shivering, I close my eyes and will myself to wake up to a different reality.

 

 

“Hello, My Pet.

 

 

He licks my face from my chin to my temple.

 

 

“Now I have your attention. I’m afraid that you have caused me a lot of trouble, and I will not be able to let you live but don’t worry, I won’t sink you in the ocean a virgin.”

 

 

Apparently, Asshole #1 and Asshole #2 did not bother to tell him of my loss of virginity. They were probably afraid he would kill them over that information. Maybe blame them for taking too long to find me. If this man is going to murder me anyway, he will not do it after he rapes me. I will fight to my last breath, so he will kill me in a loss of temper before that happens. “I am not a virgin you bastard!” My voice comes out a crackly whisper. He has frozen all movement behind me, so I continue. “I am even a few weeks pregnant. I gave my virginity to the man of my dreams. You are nothing but a nightmare, and I will die happy knowing that you didn’t get what only he took.” He screams loud enough that I fear my eardrums will burst, and then I feel his hands tearing at the waistband of my pants. I lunge forward to get as far from him as possible only to be stopped by something around my neck cutting into my skin. My knees slide out from underneath me, so I am hanging by my neck with my hands bound behind my back. My vision fades from the lack of air. Please, God, don’t let Derek find me dead like this. I hear faint popping sounds along with something like shattering glass. I barely feel rough hands grab my arms and neck. I blink slowly to clear my vision and catch a glimpse of my angel. I close my eyes and smile. Prayers answered.

 

 

Derek

 

 

The bastard is threatening her with rape, but I can’t hear her whispered response. Sully goes still right before he lifts up and yells out, and Ren begins to fight for her life. Smashing out of the closet, I take aim and fire, hitting him in the neck. The impact propels him off the side of the bed onto the floor as I rush forward. Hearing Ren choke on the collar sends me into a frenzy. This asshole had better be dying because I have to help Ren first. I grab one arm and pull her up while tearing at the buckle on the collar. Once she is free of the collar, I turn her over, lay her down and prepare to start mouth to mouth. “Hey Baby,” I smile when I see her eyes barely open. She slowly blinks her eyes closed, expelling her last breath. “Noooooo!” Leaning down I breathe into her mouth and start chest compressions. I don’t know how many I’ve done when I see Jax standing by the bed holding onto her wrist.

 

 

“Mate, she’s good. She’s breathing and has a strong pulse. Not sure about you Americans, but we Aussie’s consider that a win.”

 

 

Stupid Aussie thinks it’s okay to make jokes at a time like this, so I punch him square in the mouth. He stumbles a little but doesn’t go down as I had hoped.

 

 

“I’ll let ya have that one, Mate.”

 

 

He rubs his jaw and walks out. I don’t know how long I lay there holding Ren, but looking up I notice Snake in the doorway.

 

‘Time to roll, Man. The cars back and Boomer has a twitchy finger.”

 

 

Scooping Ren into my arms, I make my way downstairs. Tied in a chair, bleeding from the neck is Sully. His eyes are wide, and his cheeks are bulging as if stuffed full. Ren stirs for the first time in forever, so I look down as she opens her eyes. “Hey Baby, welcome back.” She cranes her head to look around and stiffens as her eyes fall on Sully. She whimpers, so I turn and walk out the door and climb into the waiting SUV. She doesn’t need to see what happens next.

Jim is behind the wheel looking a little worse for wear. He and Case are both covered in blood from carrying Nicholas James out of the house. Case is lounging back on the third row as if it is just another day and he didn’t just save a man’s life. Within a minute, Jax, Snake, and Boomer walk out the front door. Snake and Boomer climb inside the SUV while Jax gives us thumbs up, pounds on the hood and walks away. I’m just gonna have to trust he knows what he’s doing.

As we start to drive away, my blood pressure rises; there is no way that I will leave that bastard alive in that house of horrors. Just when I’m about to call bullshit, Jim pulls the SUV over on the main road and stops parallel to the house. My window rolls down, and Boomer looks at me expectantly. The remote was long forgotten in my pocket, so I reach down and pull it out. Cuddled into my chest, I look at Ren and hand her the remote.

 

 

“1234 enter.” Boomer whispers and winks her way.

 

 

Sliding up the protective panel on the front, she presses in the numbers, holds her thumb over the enter key, looks at the house and presses down.

 

 

Ren

 

 

I don’t consider myself a vengeful person, but knowing that the bastard who had my sister and I taken was tied to a chair in the middle of that house, brings me some closure. I was confused as to why we were leaving him there until Derek hands me a remote and some strange guy with an eye patch gives me a code. The explosion rocks the vehicle we are in, but then we are quickly moving down the road. There are too many questions floating around in my brain, but my throat hurts too much to ask them. I close my eyes and pull my body tight to Derek and let him take me safely home.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Ren sleeps like she is in a coma but whimpers a few times. I hope they only kept her sedated with chloroform and not injections of something more harmful to her or the baby. Other than a little wheezing coming from her damaged throat, she is breathing fine, which puts me at ease enough to doze off myself. It will take almost five hours to reach my home, so I curl my body around hers and fall asleep.

 

 

“Sleeping Beauties, we are home.”

 

 

Stirring just as the car comes to a stop, I look down to see Ren still asleep. What the hell did they drug her with? Will it hurt the baby? Making my way out of the SUV with her in my arms is a little rough, but I manage because I’m not putting her down. “I have two extra rooms if you guys want to crash,” hoping that they don’t. I just need Ren to myself for a little while. I need answers that only these guys can give me, but I’m willing to wait a few days.

 

 

“Nah, we’ve got it covered, but we’ll be back.”

 

 

Snake makes that sound almost like a threat; then winks.

 

 

“Nicholas James is in stable condition, and we ordered him flown to Mass General so he would be close. He should be arriving late tonight and will be guarded.”

 

 

Guarded? Why? That’s another question for another day. Moving to the door of my building, Sam the night watchman opens it as I slip inside.

 

 

“Good evening, Mr. Mason. Long time no see.”

 

 

Hey, Sam, will you catch the elevator too?”

 

 

“Sure thing, Mr. Mason.”

 

 

I have known Sam for seven of the ten years I have lived in this building. Charlie was the first doorman that was here, but he passed away in year three of my residence. I bought the penthouse suite at twenty-one; it was my first step of establishing my independence. I purchased the rest of the building after my parents died; I felt the need to control and have a choice of who lived around me. Lucky for my neighbors and me, I like them all. I have spent the last three years renovating the century-old building from top to bottom, and all of the tenants seem happy with the improvements.

The elevator doesn’t take long to rise to the fifth floor, and I step out into my other sanctuary. The old world style elegance is not my taste, but I couldn’t bring myself to change the integrity of the building or workmanship. Moving through the living room and down the hallway to my bedroom, I place Ren on the bed. I strip her of her clothing that she has probably been wearing for two days, pull the covers from underneath her, slide in beside her, and fall asleep.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-seven

 

Closure:

[_ *a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved. *a sense of resolution or conclusion at the end of artistic work. *an act or process of closing something or of being closed. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

Soft caresses stroking my body are lulling me into a sense of peace and comfort. Home. Blinking my eyes open to stare into a sea of blue is the best homecoming I could ask for. Derek is on his side, propped on his elbow and using his other hand to run all over my body. The look on his face is a mixture of worry and relief. Worry that he didn’t get to me soon enough to prevent additional nightmares; relief that he knows this is not a dream. He is now circling his finger to encompass my abdomen and lower belly with a questioning look on his face. Does he know that I took a test from the cottage? Does he know about the baby? Did he torture the information out of the guards before he killed them? Did he kill them all? I only caught sight of the man from the bedroom with a voice I’ll never forget. He was tied to the chair in the house I blew up. I am not the murdering sort, but at that moment while pushing that button, put to rest my own personal nightmare, and helped to ease me tremendously.

I look around for the first time to take in my surroundings; I know that we are not at the cabin in Connecticut. He seems to sense my distress, and the silence is broken.

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Hey, Baby,” I know you have a lot of questions, but we are going to take this slowly. One day at a time, okay?” She nods slightly, so I continue. “Your throat is damaged, so for the next few days, you will say very little. That is not just me being a bossy asshole, but I’m sure what the doctor will order as soon as he comes up here. To start off with, we are at my home in Boston Massachusetts. The doctor I spoke of lives in my building, and he’s a good friend of mine. He is coming up here this morning to check your neck and the bruising on your face.” Her eyes widen, and she places her hand on top of mine that is resting on her belly. I turn my hand over to press our palms together and rub circles on her wrist in a soothing gesture. “He is also coming here to check on our baby.” Tears fill her eyes and spill over. What is going on in that head of hers? I can feel the pulse in her wrist beating rapidly and know I need to calm her down. Just then the buzzer rings, so I stand and reach for the intercom. “Yes.”

 

 

“Hello Derek, it’s Dr. White. Are you ready for me?”

 

 

“Sure thing, John, have Sam let you up.”

 

 

Sitting back down, I grab her hand and continue. “Ren, listen carefully. I know about the baby, and I will answer your questions in due time. Right now, yours and the baby’s health are more important. We have the rest of our lives to answer questions, although I hope to God it doesn’t take that long to get closure.” Standing up, I go to the closet to grab her a shirt and help her slip it on before the good doctor arrives. Just in time as the elevator doors open to let him in. “We are in the bedroom, John.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

In walks an older man with a full head of white hair and kind eyes. So many emotions play out in my mind; scared, excited, nervous and anxious.

 

“Well hello, Mr. and Mrs. Mason.” I hear congratulations are in order. I had no idea that when you left a month and a half ago that you were running off to get married.”

 

Looking at Derek in confusion, he just squeezes my hand.

 

 

“Yes, well, when you know you’ve found your other half, why delay the inevitable?”

 

 

He winks my way letting me know that this will be one of the questions he answers soon.

 

 

“So, John, my wife Ren and I were four wheeling when she had an accident. Her jacket got caught on a tree limb pulling her from the ATV, and the collar choked her a little. She also hit her face on the ground when she landed, so we need that checked too. Oh, and as I mentioned earlier, we are expecting a honeymoon baby, and we are worried about any trauma that may have been caused by the fall.”

 

“Sure thing, sure thing. I’m happy to help the newlyweds.”

 

Dr. White moves about checking my neck and face, assuring us that they are superficial wounds and will heal completely in a few weeks. He pulls a laptop looking device out of his bag and places it on the bed by my legs. Following his instructions, I slide my shirt up to my breasts and push the blanket down to my upper thighs leaving my entire torso bare.

 

“This is going to be a little cold my dear, but nothing painful. Keep in mind; we usually can’t hear a heartbeat until three weeks after conception, but let us see what we have.”

 

Placing the wand on my stomach covered in a cold jelly-like substance causes me to jolt. The doctor stops moving and waits a few seconds.

 

“Are you okay now?”

 

 

I nod, and he moves the wand around my lower stomach and up towards my belly button. He stops moving and presses the wand in a little just as a swooshing sound fills the room.

 

“There we have it. Congratulations newlyweds, you’re going to have a baby. There is a strong heartbeat, so the baby doesn’t appear to be in distress from your fall. I would still plan to take it easy for the next few days.”

 

Even though this is not new information, somehow hearing it out loud has stolen my ability to perform basic functions.

 

“Breathe, Baby…breathe.”

 

 

Derek is right in front of my face grinning from ear to ear as his eyes gleam wet with emotion. Just realizing I am out of air, I take a shuttering breath. My cheeks are wet, and I giggle in excitement. “Derek, we are going to have a baby!” His lips take mine in a passionate kiss as his hands reach up to tangle in my hair. Chills race down my spine, and I moan into his mouth. The bed shifts a little, and thirty seconds later I hear the elevator open and close. Derek is on me two seconds after that, spreading my legs, so his body presses tighter to mine. Impatiently we tear at each other’s clothes, but it’s taking too long. This is a primal mating, and we are in a race to find completion only to start all over again.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Basic animal instincts are what drive me. To claim, mark and dominate. My body has taken over, and my brain has checked out.

Sliding my arm under her shoulders, I press her head to my chest, being careful of the bruising on her face and neck. Needing her on me, in me, and surrounding me is a necessity. “Oh my God, Ren! I don’t know what came over me. I can’t bring myself to apologize, but are you okay? Did I hurt you?

 

“I am more than okay,” she giggles quietly. “If I had known it could be like this, I don’t think I would have been a virgin when you found me,” she whispers.

 

 

An inhuman growl escapes my throat, and she giggles more. “You think that’s funny, you just wait and watch. I’ll keep you barefoot and pregnant for years, maybe naked too.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

Trying to follow Doctors orders and rest my throat, Derek has given me a pen and paper to write down five questions. He has promised to answer all of them, but he has his own questions he wants answered.

 

 

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Where is my father and why was he with the man who ordered us taken?

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Where is Tori? Has anyone heard from Jax?

#
p<>{color:#000;}. Why didn’t you come back to the cottage that morning, what happened to you?

#
p<>{color:#000;}. How did you find me and get here so fast?

#
p<>{color:#000;}. How did you find out about the baby?

 

 

“Baby, that is more than five. Just because you put two questions on one line and numbered it so, does not make it one.”

 

 

He smiles but answers anyway. Derek tells me everything he knows and suspects about Sully and my dad; from Sully using my dad for a public appearance, to his almost murder.

 

 

“I believe that when Jax and I went to check out the basement, we startled the guard who was trying to kill your dad. The guard rushed through cutting your dad’s wrists and then hid in a closet in the living room, where Jax found him a few minutes later.”

 

 

The team also had my dad flown to Mass General so we could be closer to him. Upon hearing the danger my dad has been in, tears stream down my cheeks making me feel like a baby. My poor dad, he didn’t deserve to get caught up in this. Then again, neither did Tori or I. Life seems to be keeping us on a roller coaster ride with highs and lows to contend with.

This man before me just continues to amaze me. How did I get so lucky? Not only has he saved my life on many occasions, but he has also tried to protect my dad from my nightmare from the beginning. Case, whoever that is, may have saved my dad’s life, but I have no doubt that it was Derek who put him there to do it. Did he say Jax killed the guard, as in Tori’s Jax? Grabbing the paper and pointing to number two.

The second questions answers are just as hard to hear. I am relieved to hear that Jax got Tori out of the house, but it sounds like not soon enough. Her mental state is not stable, and Jax won’t disclose their location until he feels it’s safe. Who the hell is he to decide?

Derek tells me of that dreadful last morning at the cottage. The traffic, flat tire, the very slow roadside assistance guy, and his rush to get home only to find the cottage empty. Now knowing that Sully had not found us there, I’m sick to my stomach because of my actions. I was panicked and irrational. Everything I have gone through in the last forty-eight hours could have been prevented if I had thought things through and waited patiently for Derek.

I’m shocked to know that he missed me by mere minutes at the bus stop. The desk lady at the airport was the first to tell him about the baby, even though he suspected by the missing test, my exhaustion, and sickness. I am grateful for his mad dash across the east coast to save me from the house of nightmares. He still won’t tell me how many guards were killed, just that it was taken care of.

I told him about hearing the news bulletin and knowing who the voice belonged too, is what made me flee. My experience at the bus stop in Jacksonville was extremely hard to get through. Walking from the bathroom to be stopped by Sully’s men was devastating. I had been worried about Derek and wasn’t paying attention. Not that I would’ve recognized any of them unless they spoke. Saying they would kill my dad was the only thing that kept me from screaming and running away from them. He says he wants to kill those men all over again when I tell him of my attempted escape at the small airport. That explains most of the damage to my neck. We both figured out that they kept me unconscious for the rest of the trip to the house. I only came to with smelling salts when Sully was going to punish me.

Talking until late that night, we have hashed out most of our questions. I received many lectures about trust and communication. I can’t wait to meet the men who helped Derek save my father and I. Also, I want to hear more about Troy Savage and the women in protective custody. Why are they being protected if the threat has been eliminated? My eyes are heavy by the time he tucks me in and climbs in beside me. He curls his body around mine and whispers in my ear.

 

“I would like to get married right away by a Justice of the Peace. I know I need to ask your dad, but that can be done tomorrow when we visit him in the hospital.”

 

 

I can’t get married without my sister is the first thought that pops into my head. Derek seems to read my mind again.

 

 

“I know you probably want a big wedding, but with everything up in the air with Tori, I thought maybe you would be okay with a huge reception once she is home. We can even renew our vows, so it’s like the first time.”

 

 

My silence seems to encourage him to keep trying to convince me even though I have already decided yes.

 

 

“My neighbors already think we are married. You’re not going to make me a liar are you?”

 

 

I smile at his pleading tone. I turn from little spoon to look into his eyes. “Derek, I will follow you to the ends of the earth. You have already proven that you know what’s best for me, most of the time,” wink-wink, “and now our baby. I love you! I trust you! And yes, I will marry you as fast as you can get the paperwork in order.” I fall asleep with his hand on my belly protecting what’s his.owHH

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-eight

 

Breathe:

[_ *take air into the lungs and then expel it. *blow softly. *say something with quiet intensity. *be alive; remain living. *give an impression of something. *admit or emit air or moisture. _]

 

 

Ren

 

 

My reunion with my father is extremely emotional. Trying to tell him very little of my experience proves to be most difficult. He had always known when my sister and I were evading or telling half-truths. He sobs uncontrollably when I tell him why we were taken and then praises God that the outcome was different. I don’t tell him of the torture or training because I don’t want him to imagine either Tori or me naked, beaten, and objectified. We have always been his little girls, and the thought of something like that happening to my daughter would fill me with so much guilt that I didn’t protect her. Now I know what Derek meant in the beginning. “As a man, I know it would crush me that someone in my care went through something like this, and I didn’t protect what’s mine.” Derek was very accurate that my father would feel no different. Sometimes we have to hide our worst experiences from those we love the most to protect them too. Keeping parts of my ordeal from him not only protects my father but myself as well. Sometimes one’s humiliation is so great, that keeping it hidden makes it less real.

My dad feels sick to think that he was targeted as a grieving parent but didn’t recognize a predator when faced with one.

 

 

“How are we supposed to protect our loved ones if we don’t know what predators look like?” He cries.

 

Telling him of The Safe House that we want to open lifts his spirits like nothing else could, other than being reunited with Tori. He is more understanding than Derek and me when it comes to the decision Jax has made on behalf of our family. I have my psychology degree. What makes him think he is better suited to help her than me?

 

 

“If Derek trusts this Jax, then so do I.” My dad says with confidence. “Even though I would just like to see her with my own eyes and know she is safe.”

 

That will be my first request for Derek to ask Jax when he finally emails us. I just want a picture of her. I hope Jax doesn’t think we are asking for proof of life.

 

 

Derek

 

 

The next few days keep us very busy. Ren’s dad is released from the hospital, and we brought him home to the penthouse. He has agreed to stay in the spare room for a while. He gave me his blessing and will not stop thanking me for saving Ren and himself. As I walk out of his room, once again he thanks me. “Like you, Mr. James, I would give my life for Ren. Saving her was not something I did out of obligation or the goodness of my heart. I loved her the moment I saw her. It was basic animal instinct to claim and protect my soul mate, which I will do for the rest of my life.”

Walking into the kitchen, I see her staring out the window at the Boston skyline. I bought the century-old building about seven years ago and had it renovated from the top down. I owned the penthouse first and then had the opportunity to buy the rest of the building three years later. It has a perfect view of Boston downtown from across the water, and the lights at night are picture perfect.

“If you don’t like it here we could move to the cabin permanently.” She leans her back into my chest as I wrap my arms around her.

 

 

“No, although I’m very fond of the cabin and all it represents, I love this place too. Thank you for bringing my dad here. I don’t think I could have let him go back to Ocean City on his own.”

 

 

She turns her head and tilts back to kiss my chin. “I was thinking ahead. I knew you wouldn’t want him to go home alone, and I really don’t want to live in Delaware. Using his favorite things against him seemed like my best option.” I wink, and she rolls her eyes. “If you want to redecorate to make this more you, I’m fine with that.” She is silent for a few minutes just staring out the window.

 

 

“No…. Everything in this home is you, and I just want to absorb you for a while. I’ll help decorate the baby’s room when it’s time.”

 

I don’t know how it happened or why, but I just won the freakin’ lottery. I have decided to close Mason P.I. and focus on opening The Safe House for Ren. Shana still manages my residual checks for charities, and I will have her move some of those funds to this one. Speaking of Shana, I need to call her. I move into my office and prepare myself for the ass chewing I’m going to get.

 

 

“Derek, you are in so much trouble with me. How dare you wait weeks and weeks to call? You remember my daddy don’t ya? No! Well, need I remind you?

 

 

“Shana, Honey.”

 

 

“Don’t you Honey me, I’m not yo Honey today.”

 

“Shana, I’m sorry. For everything, I’m sorry!” She remains silent, so that means she wants me to finish my begging and pleading. “Remember I told you about a woman in trouble? Well, that is why I didn’t call. We were on the run from some very bad men, and I couldn’t risk it. At some point, I was linked to her, giving these men the ability to manipulate her family and used the title of my job to get to her again. Some day I will go into all the sordid details, but for now, I would like you to come to the courthouse in three days to be a witness along with Ren’s father for our marriage.” She is still silent, all but the sniffs.

 

 

“Oh, Derek, I’m so happy for you. Even though I said someday a woman would come along, I really thought you’d die alone, your such an ass.”

 

 

I burst out laughing and thank my lucky stars for this woman too. Shana is like a second mom, although a little bossier. “We also need to go over the charities and residual income next week. Well, make that next month after my honeymoon.” She agrees to be there in three days where she will still slap me upside the head.

 

 

Ren

 

 

Tomorrow we are getting married, and I’m in a panic. Everything has fallen into place, including my dad’s neighbor getting my birth certificate and social security card from his office at the house and sending it next day air. We went to the DMV to get me a new driver’s license. That took a lot of phone calls and a change of address to Boston. Even though all is going smoothly, my emotions are not. Doubt is creeping in, causing me to worry about Derek’s reasons for marriage.

We are sitting on the balcony watching the sunset. The water glows with the reflection of Boston’s downtown high rises. The weather has cooled from 75º down to 58º with about 30% humidity. I love sitting out here just staring at the lights, but I know I’m delaying our talk. I don’t want him to marry me for the wrong reasons, but I’m afraid of his answer. Blurting it out seems to be the only option. “Derek, I am nervous that you are marrying me just for the baby, or you feel sorry for me and what’s happened. Even though I know in my heart that you are it for me, I just don’t want you to be rushed. Women get attached way sooner than men, and I don’t want you doing this just for me. We live in the twenty-first century. No one will think twice about us having a baby unwed.” He looks furious, and I prepare myself for the onslaught.

 

“I am going to try to stay calm and collected, not because I am mad at you but at myself. I know things happened fast for us, and I have on several occasions told you how I feel, but I didn’t take into account your situation. How vulnerable you felt at waking up and not knowing who you were. At having a strange man take care of you and also take advantage of you.”

 

 

I open my mouth to argue, but he stops me.

 

 

“Not in a malicious way but still, you were weakened by your situation, and not only in a physical way. You needed to know that there was still good in this world and you looked to me to prove it. I felt like a king on top of the world. Women say that all they want is a man to desperately want them, like the need for them is raw and powerful. Well, men want a woman to need them and not in a take care of them sort of way, but to need them for advice, guidance, comfort, and protection. Baby, I’m here to tell you that I want you and need you. I have never had this connection to another person in my life. I asked you to marry me before we knew there was a baby, so do not think, for even one second, that our baby is the reason. We made a baby out of love, want, and need, and we will get married for the same reason.

Once again he has put me in my place with reasoning. Feeling bad about my insecurities isn’t the only thing that needs repairing, also my ability to communicate.

 

 

“I love you, Derek. Thank you for being patient with me and loving me the way you do.”

 

Climbing into bed that night I am beyond sexually frustrated. Derek has not touched me intimately since we decided to get married by a Justice of the Peace. He claims that even though we’ve done many things backward in our relationship, he wants to wait until our wedding night to make love to me as husband and wife. Deciding to sleep completely naked is my last ditch effort to make him cave. He just curls his body around mine and acts like I’m wearing granny panties and a full on bathrobe. “Are you kidding me right now!” He chuckles as he pulls me tighter into his body and pins me as the little spoon.

 

 

“Go to sleep, Baby. We have a big day ahead of us.”

 

Falling asleep is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

 

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod! We are getting married right now. It is so surreal that I feel as though it is an out of body experience. Is this how all brides feel? Like they are watching through a looking glass. This amazing man stands tall and proud. My father stands next to him with tears in his eyes and a smile so big that I can see all his teeth. Shana stands behind me as I face the man of my dreams holding my breath. “Breathe, Baby,” he mouths to me. Forever this man is stealing my breath and telling me to breathe. Sucking in air to expel the words, “I do, forever I do.” Derek doesn’t wait for the judge to say you may now kiss the bride. He stakes his claim as he always has, with urgency and desperation. How could a woman not love a man who gives himself so fully? My dad chuckles, and so does Shana. Thinking it’s been at least twenty minutes in a lip lock, we finally come up for air.

 

“Woooo Weeee! Honey, I don’t know about you, but damn!”

 

 

Shana laughs again and fans herself. We hug my dad and Shana then leave for the airport. Derek doesn’t tell me where we are going, and he chartered the flight, so there are no announcements to give it away.

My dad has agreed to stay at the penthouse while we are gone and help Shana organize the charities. Not that Shana needs help, but we ask her to put him to work to keep his mind off Tori.

Derek checks his email constantly because we are hoping to hear from Jax any day. So far, there is no word from him. Two days ago, I finally met the team who helped Derek save my life. Snake is a little scary with a snake tattoo that wraps up his left arm complete with fangs that sink into his bicep. His head is shaved clean showcasing another tattoo of numbers at the base of his skull. Jim looks like the typical accountant. Button-up shirt, slacks and glasses top off his attire. He is quiet but polite and makes you feel as though every word spoken is important. Boomer looks like a badass biker. He wears tight leather pants and a molded to his body t-shirt. His eye patch makes him look sinister, but I have been touched by evil, and this is not it. Case, dubbed Head-Case by the guys, is model gorgeous. Not as beautiful as Derek but beautiful just the same. He has blonde hair, pale blue eyes and a square jaw that speaks masculinity all over the place. He can’t seem to hold still even sitting on the couch in a relaxed position; his eyes shift as if he is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The guys would not give me any information about Tori or Jax, saying they knew nothing. I suspect even if they knew something, they wouldn’t give it away. I really hope Jax knows what he is doing.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Thank the heavens above; she is mine. Throughout my life and dating experiences, I have never felt for any woman the way I do for Ren. Today couldn’t have happened fast enough for me. My need to bind her to me was so great, that if it weren’t for paperwork and legalities, I would have married her the day we came to the penthouse.

I am nervous that she might be disappointed about our honeymoon location. Maybe she would rather go someplace new, to make new and different memories. Feeling like she has already experienced so many things in such a short period of time, led me to choose this one spot above all others. Keeping her in the dark will hopefully build her anticipation and excitement so that she will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty-nine

 

Enrapture:

*to give intense pleasure or joy to.

 

 

Ren

 

 

Thirty minutes before landing, I am blindfolded. Derek leads me off the plane and into a waiting car. Placing me in the back seat and sliding in beside me, he takes my hand and pulls me onto his lap. I am sure this is a distraction to keep me from asking questions but one I don’t mind. I sure hope there is a window separation between our driver and us, or he is getting a really good show. Derek places his hand on my upper thigh and inches it toward my lace panties. I wore my favorite yellow sundress that easily allows his seeking hands to take advantage. “Someone will see.” His fingers find their mark and press down; I can’t hold back my moan. “Derek,” deep breath, “can the driver see?”

 

 

“I don’t know, Baby. Do you want the driver to see?”

 

I’m going to lose my mind if he rubs a little faster.

 

“Just like on the beach, you are growing warm. I think you like a little exhibitionism.”

 

 

We have not made love since our first day at the penthouse, although that was more like a claiming and reassurance of animal needs. The poor doctor had to make a hasty retreat before he got an eyeful. Panting and moaning, I’m about to go over when he stops moving, pulls his hands away and fixes my dress. “Noooooo, that is so not fair. You made me wait all this time for propriety. Now we are married, are you really going to torture me this way?” Just then the car stops moving, and Derek puts me down on the seat.

 

 

“Keep the blindfold on.”

 

 

His door opens, and he slides out, reaches in and scoops me up. He starts walking as he tells the driver to put our things at the door. Where the hell are we? Why does it have to be a secret? I’m going to find out anyway unless he plans to keep me blindfolded the entire time. My core begins to spasm again at the thought. I didn’t like the blindfold until he started touching me. My other senses became hyper-aware of every touch, every smell, and every sound. As I grip his shoulders, every dip and mound take on new definition. Feeling how his muscles intertwine and come together is sensuality for my fingers. I hear waves and smell the saltiness of the ocean. Did we finally make it to the Bahamas? He sets me on my feet, and I hear keys going into a door soon followed by a click when the door swings open. He picks me back up.

 

 

“You can remove the blind now.”

 

 

Opening my eyes, I blink several times to take in the view. It’s my family’s beach cottage. “Oh, Derek, I love this place.”

 

 

Derek

 

 

“Welcome home, Baby!” Carrying her across the threshold, I kick the door closed and head straight for the bedroom. It took every ounce of control I had to wait these last few days. Feeling her heat in the car almost made me cum in my pants, so I’m not waiting another minute to claim my wife.

Laying her in the center of the bed, I quickly remove her sundress, sliding it slowly down her body only to reveal new lingerie. Sweet Jesus! The delicate white lace leaves nothing to the imagination. Seeing her tight little nipples makes my mouth water. I am going to savor every inch of this beautiful woman. I strip out of my clothes in record time but choose to leave her lace things on. Leaning forward, I suck her right through the lace, loving the way she moans. Damn, I love the sounds she makes, and I love them, even more, knowing that I’m the only one who’s heard her cry out in pleasure. There was a partition in the car, so the driver was oblivious, but the thought that someone could hear or see turns her on. I’m sure reality would be a different story, and I have no desire for anyone but me to see my prize. Pretending, though, can be our thing. Her hands are gripping my hair as if to keep me in place, but I have other parts to explore. Kissing my way downward, I lick and nip every inch. I spend extra time at the V where her leg meets her pelvis. She is turning towards me as if she can control my seeking tongue and get me where she wants me faster, but I grab her hips to hold her still.

 

 

“Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease, I need you!”

 

 

While kissing my way up her body ready to consummate our marriage, she shakes her head no. “No? Is that even an option on your wedding night?”

 

 

Ren

 

 

“I want you to show me what you like again but this time for longer.”

 

“Oh, Gods!”

 

 

He groans but lies down on his back. Rising to my knees to kneel by his side, I stare down at his work of art. This is the kind of man that books are written about. I proceed to show him all he has taught me. We make love until I am panting and gulping trying to get enough air. My vision goes first, and then I’m floating.

 

 

Derek

 

 

Collapsing to the bed but rolling just in time as to not crush Ren, I lean forward to kiss her lips. “Holy shit, Ren! Baby wake up.” Has she passed out? Son of a bitch! She is exhausted, and I just treated her to a sexual marathon. “Baby, come on, you’re scaring me.” She flashes a megawatt smile in my direction as her eyes flutter open.

 

 

“Oh, Derek,” she sighs dreamily. “You have completely ruined me for other men.” She giggles.

 

Growling low, “you can bet on my life, Baby. I will keep you barefoot and pregnant just to keep you to myself.” I pull the covers up and wrap us in them. “Get some sleep, Mrs. Serenity Mason. I will probably wake you in a few hours for round two, three and four.”

 

 

Ren

 

 

Waking up to the smell of coffee, bacon, and eggs, will start anyone’s day off right. Grabbing one of Derek’s shirts from the closet, a light green button down, I head to the kitchen to find the incredible smells. The sights are even better with Derek standing at the stove in just boxer briefs sitting low on his hips. The view I am treated to is a smooth, tan, sculpted back and tight round ass with two twin dimples just above the waistband of his trunks. Talk about cherries on top. My thoughts wander to getting on my knees and worshiping that amazing backside. Then working my way to the front to find out I won the lottery.

 

 

“Woo Hoo…Ren. Are you in there?”

 

 

I blink to see Derek standing in front of me passing his hand in front of my eyes. Lost in thought, I didn’t even see him move. The curve to his lips tells me he knows what I was thinking, but that doesn’t surprise me. He is forever reading my mind.

 

 

“If you don’t stop looking at me like that, breakfast will go cold while I bend you over that table.”

 

 

Warmth floods my center, and I press my thighs together to ease the ache.

 

 

“Baby, what you do to me.”

 

 

He grabs me, spins me around and presses my torso to the table. The surface is cold, and my nipples harden to sharp points.

 

 

“No panties?” He whispers on a sharp exhale. “Baby, you are going to make it hard for me to be gentle.”

 

 

I am sore from last night’s activities, but I feel only pleasure the second he touches me. Seeming to know how hard he has used my body, he sets a slow pace. It is so hard to describe the build up of pleasure only that it overtakes your thoughts and actions and sends you soaring. I don’t know how long we lay there, but he leans forward and kisses my neck.

 

 

“Let’s go get cleaned up, and then I’ll reheat breakfast.”

 

 

One hour later we sit down to eat. Shower sex was too good to pass up.

Later that afternoon while basking on the beach, Derek tells me of our wedding gift from my father.

 

 

“He gave us the cottage as a wedding present.”

 

 

I’m too shocked to say anything, but my look tells him what I’m thinking. Although I love this cottage and do consider it mine, it wouldn’t be fair to Tori. This home has been in our family since I can remember, and Tori might need it more than me as a refuge when she comes home.

 

 

“Don’t worry; we are not going to take it. It will stay in your family’s trust, so you and Tori will have it forever. I just couldn’t tell him no at the time. He was so excited to give us this amazing place that he knows you love.”

 

Being the luckiest girl in the world has its perks. He has brought me more pleasure and joy than all of my twenty-three years combined, and those were awesome years.

 

 

 

Epilogue

*a section or speech at the end of a book or play that serves as a comment on or a conclusion to what has happened.

 

Ren

 

 

We spend one week at the cottage walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean and soaking up the sun. After my captivity and being held in a windowless room, my body craves vitamin D by way of basking in the sun. Derek doesn’t seem to mind the skimpy suits necessary for sunbathing. He really enjoys removing those suits to get to his favorite treasures. We think that I’m between five and six weeks pregnant. That I probably conceived the first or second time we made love. Not yet showing a baby bump, I still enjoy wearing sexy things for my husband. I hope even when I am big and round that he will still find me sexy and irresistible. My idea of my life plan consisted of being married for a couple of years before we had children, but our life plan isn’t following either of our schedules.

Our favorite pastime is the blindfold game. Eliminating sight heightens all of your other senses. I love tasting things I haven’t seen and even tasting things I have seen but covered in something sweet and delicious. I love touching his body, feeling the dips and swells and trying to discover which part it is. Sometimes he only lets me use one finger, but some parts are unmistakable.

Derek thinks I enjoy a little exhibitionism; he may be right to a point. His favorite tease is when he takes me to a restaurant, and while he feeds me, he touches me under the table. I definitely get turned on not knowing if someone can see, but I think he may enjoy it a little more than me. By the time the check comes, he rushes me to the car or down the beach as fast as we can go to get me home so he can ravish me. Knowing myself well enough, I don’t think I would willingly bare myself or be intimate with Derek if I knew someone could actually see what we were doing.

My thoughts often wander to my sister. I feel guilty being the happiest I’ve ever been and not knowing if Tori is still safe or mentally stable. Derek assures me that Jax will contact us soon. He also says that Troy Savage has not returned to the FBI and is probably with Jax providing extra protection−Protection from what? I thought the threat was eliminated when Sully Vrennikov and his guards were killed. Is there a bigger picture or a higher connection? Just when I think things will be normal and peaceful, Derek finally gets the email we’ve been waiting for.

 

 

“Bringing her home.”

 

 

Derek

 

 

“What the…” I need to stop swearing before the baby comes. Home where? To his home in Boston, or her home in Delaware? All this cryptic shit is driving me crazy. Am I going to have to give this bastard communication lessons as well?

Two days later we are packing up to leave for home. I’m on the back deck cleaning up when I hear Ren’s blood-curdling scream. I race inside and come to a halt only to see Jax on his knees holding a beaten and bloody Tori.

 

Sneak Preview

Found

[_*having been discovered by chance or unexpectedly.  *discover after deliberate search.  *discover oneself to be in a particular situation.  *succeed in obtaining something.  *identify something or someone as being present.      _]

 

 

Chapter One

 

Captive:

[_ *a person who has been taken prisoner or an animal that has been confined. *having no freedom to choose alternatives or to avoid something. *controlled by, and typically for the use of, an organization. _]

 

 

Jax

 

 

Sitting in Cutters with a cigar in one hand and a whiskey in the other, I am selectively listening to my partner, Troy Savage, drone on about the blonde at the bar.

 

 

“Dude, come on, it’s just a little wager. Real or fake?”

 

 

Glancing once more at the beautiful, extremely voluptuous blonde, to see her lick her lips and smile my way seductively. “Real.” Sav stands up and throws a twenty on the table.

 

 

“You’re on. There is no way that she is blessed with that ass and real tits. It’s either one or the other, not both.”

 

 

The look on his face tells me he’s remembering the one that got away.

 

“Except that one time,” he mumbles.

 

 

I smile and watch him work as he walks up to the bar and slings his arm around the blonde. He’s whispering something in her ear, and she looks my way shyly. Shit! He better not promise her the moon when I’m not interested tonight. Besides, I’m pretty sure that woman does not have a submissive bone in her body. I can usually pick one from a mile away just by the way she carries herself. This busty blonde shows way too much confidence to bow down to any man. Sav reaches for her hand and pulls her off the stool and heads my way.

 

 

“Hey Jax, this is Sami, Sami this is Jax. I’m going to be your sun tonight, and Jax will be your moon.”

 

 

That stupid ass! Reaching forward and taking her hand, I place a kiss to her delicate knuckles. “My pleasure, Sami.” She blushes a rosy pink and Sav leads her away and into one of the back rooms. I’m pretty sure Sav is getting his ass handed to him tonight; I might enjoy watching that show.

Troy Savage is an agent and my partner with the FBI. He is also a womanizer and a damn good one at that. Normally, I wouldn’t mind joining that little party, which is no doubt what he promised her. Unfortunately, my mind is consumed with a green-eyed brunette who needs some saving of her own.

After looking into a missing person case for Derek, a good friend of mine, and a local P.I., my mind constantly wanders to the missing Victoria James. Missing since April 15th, taken along with her sister Serenity James. Derek called me two days ago in a panic about some girl he found in the woods. He claims she was barely clinging to life, so he took her to his hidden lair and has been playing doctor ever since. She has amnesia so she can’t confirm my suspicions about who she is or what happened to her, but I have a pretty good idea. From the little information Derek could give me about his own mystery guest, I am almost positive that he has Serenity hidden away in his secret cabin on the mountain and I will find Victoria in The House if I’m not too late.

My infiltration into The House and the organization started over a month ago when Sully, the organization’s boss, approached me one night at The X Club. After watching me for twenty minutes work over a sub at the horse and then pound the hell out of her from behind, he claimed he was interested in me for a job. He had no idea that I was FBI, so this intrigued me. I wanted to see where this job offer led and try to put a few sick bastards behind bars. At first, he made it sound like an underground sex ring, involving women who had no idea what they had signed on for, but eventually they come around to be willing participants. The willing part is probably a far stretch from the truth. I told him I didn’t give a shit about women’s rights and that had him hooked. After meeting with him several nights a week for a month, he asked me to train a sub under complicated circumstances. That complication turned out to be sexual experience; she didn’t have any but needed to be trained to give pleasure.

Sully also informed me that two of his guards had taken off with one of the products about a week ago and he needed fresh eyes in The House to get things back to normal. The two thieving guards were found dead. However, his product was still missing. He is out searching for the missing girl near Hartford Connecticut, about an hour from the crash site. Hopefully, Derek will lay low until I can get him information or a positive I.D. on his mystery guest. Once I am immersed into this organization and can identify Serenity or Victoria, we will bring Sully down. That is where I’m headed on Monday, into The House.

 

 

Ten minutes later, a mussed up Sav comes panting to my table just as a text dings on my phone.

 

 

“Dude, you don’t get to keep the twenty, but she isn’t going to wait all night.”

 

 

Looking down, the text reads, “TONIGHT.” “Shit! Sorry, Mate, gotta go. I’ll see ya when I see ya. Remember, Montauk by Sunday.” He curses behind me as I leave, but he is sure to head back to the blonde, and all will be right in his world. At least until he realizes that the plastic blonde is a Dominatrix or he remembers what he’s trying to forget.

 

 

Tori

 

 

One week, six days, and thirteen hours ago is when my nightmare started. How one bad decision can turn into a lifetime of regrets is beyond my realm of thinking. Your twenty-first birthday is supposed to be the best birthday, the most monumental, the most unforgettable birthday ever. Well, it was, just not for the reasons people would think.

Naked and terrified of them returning, I glance at my watch once again. When they stripped me of everything I own but my watch, I was baffled. Now I know that this is how they have chosen to break me. Every minute, every hour, and every day or week that passes with no rescue in sight has me losing hope for any rescue at all. When hope is lost, people tend to accept their lot in life for what it is.

During the first week, I stared at the second hand on my watch as it went around and around until my vision went blurry. Singing, “hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock,” over and over again, sent my guards into a rage. On the fifth day, they took my cushion, my water, and food then left me alone for twelve hours, still with my watch. Dying of thirst and discomfort was the first step of my undoing. I have never been uncomfortable in my life. I have a great home with a wonderful father and the best sister anyone could ask for. Having trustworthy friends and surrounding myself with nice boys has made my life easy. Not being prepared or taught, but being forced into learning that there is this kind of depravity in the world, is the second step to my undoing.

The door opens, and Sir walks in. Scrambling to my position on my knees, legs spread wide with my hands’ palm up on top of my thighs and eyes cast down, pleases Sir.

 

 

“Very good, Pet. You are going to please your master greatly.”

 

He walks towards me to stand in front of me so I can only see his shoes and pats my head. Chills race down my spine and I pray that he will stop touching me before I shiver in disgust.

 

 

“Your new potential master has requested that your training becomes more sexual. Even though his first demand was for innocence, now he wishes for a little more experience. He is very pleased by our videos showing your obedience, but now he wants to see you perform for a sexual dominant. I’m pretty sure he is a voyeur, and your sole job will be to perform with others while he watches. The only reason I’m giving you this information is because I like you Pet. Your obedience makes me look good, and I want you to be prepared for what comes next. I’m hoping that you like me too and will reward me for my kindness.”

 

 

With my silence, I hope he gets the message that I will never willingly touch this man, or any other in this house, for that matter. I glance up with my eyes only and can see his fists clench and open several times. Will he strike me this time for not agreeing to his sexual favors? Nausea overwhelms me, so I gulp several times to keep the bile down. I have always felt safe in the knowledge that Sir would never touch me in a sexual way. Now he is threatening my very sanity. After the longest minute of my life, he finally breaks the silence.

 

 

“I am very sad to say that our time together has come to an end. Your new guard is well versed in sexual dominance and is being brought in special for you…tonight.”

 

No, no, no! What in the hell has this world come to? The thought of being forced into a sexual scene with a man who does this for a living has crippled my thought process, but what he says next is my final undoing.

 

 

“Oh, by the way, I know that we told you that your sister was not taken when you were. We lied.”

 

 

My breath freezes in my lungs as black spots swim in my vision. I remember standing at the curb waiting for a cab with Ren, and then I woke up here. When I asked where she was, they told me she was not wanted, and they left her at the bar. This one piece of information is what I’ve clung to for the last thirteen days. Knowing that she would never stop searching for me as long as there was breath in her body has kept me sane.

 

 

“Unfortunately, she was not as trainable as you and perished in a car accident last week. I’m sorry for your loss, but you must realize that this is one less person that will be looking for you so you might as well resign yourself to your fate.”

 

 

He walks out saying nothing more as I curl up on my cushion and die inside.

 

 

Jax

 

 

I call The House to give them a new contact number for me. “I don’t want any distractions while I work so I had my old number disconnected. Contact me on this number from now on.”

 

 

“What is your E.T.A.?” The head guard barks into the phone.

 

 

“About forty-five minutes if traffic stays clear. Why?”

 

 

“Damn Slim decided to divulge some info to the product you are training, and she has become unresponsive. Not sure if she’s in shock or has mentally broke, but it’s bad.”

 

 

“How long has she been in this condition?” White knuckling the steering wheel for control keeps me from screaming at Tony, the guard in charge.

 

 

“About seven hours. She won’t eat or drink, barely blinks and hasn’t said a word since he told her that her sister is dead.”

 

 

I hang up before I say anything that will make him suspicious. “Shit!” Pounding on my steering wheel as I race toward Montauk is the only thing that makes me feel better. I need to get my aggression out before walking into The House and killing all these bastards. Needing to get myself mentally prepared, I have disconnected everything in my old life. Nothing can be traced back to me, Jaxson Levi Wilson. As far as The House is concerned, I am Jax Grant, the Aussie from America. Keeping as much of your identity as close to the truth as possible makes it more believable and gives you less of a chance of screwing up.

Seriously! Who the in the hell trained these bloody sons-a-bitches. Submission is given freely, cooperation is earned, and threats are not a punishment that is effective. Stepping on the gas to get there in record time is imperative to her health and safety. These men seem to be quick triggers, and they might see her behavior as disobedience and punish her for it.

The information he gives me about my trainee and now her sister, confirms that I will be dealing with Victoria James. I already have an obsession with her after seeing her picture from the missing person’s website, and it’s going to be damn hard to stay professional and keep my cover.

 

 

Tori

 

 

Floating above my physical form is going to be the only way I survive what comes next. What lies on the cushion is just a shell of the once vibrant me, a resigned body. Product is what they call me, or Pet. I feel nothing, not pain, not sorrow, not hunger or thirst. Not really caring what happens to me next is the only way to feel. With my sister dead, my father will soon follow. The only reason he hangs on now is for us. There will be no one to go back to, no one to live for and no one to love. Even if I did find my way out of this place, there would be no one home. I have nothing left, not even myself.

Convincing myself just to do as they ask so they won’t hurt me, shames me to no end. Why didn’t I fight? I don’t have a valid answer for that question. My sister is the fighter. No wonder she is free. Would death be preferable to this fate? Yes!

There are other women in this place who cry at night. How many are there and how long have they been here? I think one of the women has been raped by several guards, even though I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, I hear plenty. She fought them off for as long as she could, and I even think she may have been unconscious the first time they violated her. I think that would be preferable. Plugging my ears so I couldn’t hear the violence as I rocked in my corner makes me feel guilty that I didn’t cry out for them to stop. Being deathly afraid that they would turn their aggression on me is what kept me quiet. She now cries softly praying for death. Will that be me when my new guard introduces me to sex for the first time?

Even though this place is hell, it is preferable to a foreign country where no one can find you. I thought that if I were really good, they would keep me here, thus giving my family more time to find me. I didn’t expect that they would be so pleased with my obedience that they would ramp up my training into a sexual nature. These guards were told not to touch us sexually, and if we were to be punished, they were not to damage our faces. Why would they bring in someone new to train me and teach me about sex? Does the new guard have the permission to touch me sexually? Will he expect me to have sex with him? I dry heave several times, but I haven’t eaten for a while, so nothing comes up.

 

 

Jax

 

 

I find the address easy enough, but choose to park my SUV down by the docks and walk up the small rise to the mini mansion. The House is what I expected; a renovated mid-century home turned into a warehouse for sex slaves. The men are pigs. They live like pigs, act like pigs and smell like pigs. This house is worth a fortune in its current condition, except you would never know beneath the take-out containers of rotting food and dirty laundry scattered about. It reeks of men who don’t shower often enough and sex. Damn, I hope these men have followed orders and left these women intact. I’m shown to a room upstairs with four bunks but decline those sleeping quarters.

“If I’m here to train a slave, I will need to sleep where she sleeps.” They don’t argue and let me carry a mattress downstairs. The basement is in worse condition than the main floor. This area looks like it was not included when they finished the house originally and definitely not updated during the renovation. There is a large rug in place of carpet in the main room and a worn, leather sectional in the center of the room. There is a T.V. mounted on the wall covered in dust, so I doubt anyone uses this room for entertainment. There is a pool table that is fairly new on one side of the sectional and an air hockey table on the other with a dartboard hung above it on the wall.

 

 

“Sully might change your plans when he gets here, but for now, we were told to give you full reign over this particular product. Trained properly, she is to bring us the best price yet.”

 

Tony, the head guard, leads me to a door so I prop my mattress on the wall and go upstairs find clean sheets and Lysol. Who knows what has been done on this mattress and I refuse to smell any of these men if I don’t have to. He follows me upstairs and gives me a brief introduction to some of the men lying around. I get several dirty looks from a few of them, letting me know they don’t like the new guy, me. I can guarantee that I don’t like them either.

Returning to my door, I knock lightly. Not that I expected an answer, but not wanting to startle her any more than she has been already, is step 1 in making her comfortable with me. Slowly moving inside and carrying my things to the opposite side of the room from her cushion, doesn’t even make her stir.

Her body is so still and curled up into the fetal position on a round cushion that is normally used as a dog bed. She is so still that I fear she is not breathing. Moving slowly to her side, I kneel down and place my finger under her nose. Her hair is brushed back away from her face, so I see when her eyes pop open. The color is like the clearest green I have ever seen, and I am held captive by her stare. Not wanting to move or blink for fear that she will close her eyes again and be lost to me forever, has me frozen.

 

“Hello, Love, my name is Jax. I am here to help you.”

 

 

She closes her eyes with no further response. At least now I know she is breathing, so I move to my bed and set everything up. I glance around at what will be my new home for the next week or so and feel sick to my stomach that this woman or any others have been kept in these dank basement rooms. Two of the walls are concrete, and the other two are unfinished drywall. The floors are bare and cold giving the room a more chilling atmosphere. There is one light bulb that hangs from a wire in the ceiling, but I can’t see a switch anywhere in the room. The light bulb is hung too high for this petite woman to reach and turn it off so that must mean it stays on all the time.

The room smells damp and moldy, but the Lysol spray I use on the mattress is so strong that I open the door using it to fan the room a little. Still no movement or reaction from her, however, I see goose bumps pop up all along her back. The temperature in this basement is probably only 65°, and to a naked woman, it is pretty damn cold. Even in the club life, I am not an asshole Dom. I have always put my subs needs first, but my need to take care of this woman is more than overwhelming. I fear that I will blow my cover just by showing emotion towards this small, fragile woman.

The camera in the corner is showing a red light, so I am free to do as I please until we are expected to perform. Grabbing the top sheet, I wrap it around her small form, pick her up and place her on the mattress. She is still curled in on herself, so I lie down in front of her and place a protective arm around her. Tears leak from the corners of her eyes, but she still doesn’t move. As a show of good intentions, I close my eyes, letting her know I will make myself vulnerable to her as well and fall asleep.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Stockholm syndrome:

*feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.

 

 

Tori

 

 

Cracking my eyes open just a little bit, I see that my new guard is sound asleep. He is different from the previous guards, but why? Why does he behave differently towards me than the others? Why did they change guards? What is the new plan? Why is he saying he is here to help me when I know what his true intentions are? Will they try to break someone who is already broken?

My emotions are in turmoil over the loss of my sister and the permanent loss of freedom I feel. What happened to her while she was here? They promised me that she wasn’t taken. It was the only reason I cooperated with every humiliating thing they had me do. I thought the better behaved I was; the better my chances would be for them to keep me here instead of shipping me out. I did not think that they would ramp up my training into something more sinister. A little more time was all I needed for my sister to find me. Now I know she isn’t coming and I’m out of time to preserve what little sanity I have left.

Late last night when Jax approached me, his smell was unexpectedly different. The other men here smell of body odor, cigarettes, and alcohol. This incredibly sexy man smells like fresh air and the sweet scent of expensive cigars. I am not a smoker, and normally the smell of any kind of smoking repulses me, but not on this man. Staring at his face, he reminds me of the Vikings of old. With a blonde short cut beard and mustache and a perfectly straight nose, he is movie star material. His eyes are deep set, and I imagine that when he is frustrated, his brow will come forward to shade them a little. Lying here with his face relaxed and his blonde hair fanned out on the pillow, he is beautiful. Men don’t usually like to be called beautiful. However, there is no other way to describe this man.

Why is he so gentle? What game does he play by bringing me to his bed? Why is his bed in here for that matter? Just then his eyes pop open, and his gray gaze locks with mine. Silently we stare, neither one of us blinking until I remember my place. Scrambling off the bed, I get tangled in the sheet he wrapped me in and fall on my ass. Good thing it is just a mattress on the floor, so I didn’t have too far to fall. He sits up immediately and reaches for me. I shake my head and move onto my knees, legs spread wide, hands palm up on my thighs and cast my eyes down.

 

 

Jax

 

 

Holy heaven above! This woman is exquisite. Her picture does not even compare to her beauty in person. Her eyes are clear green with lashes that extend to her brows. Her lips are so lush a man could lose his mind wrapped up in them. She is naturally submissive and sitting here in front of me exposing her most intimate pink parts for my viewing. Holy hell! She is perfection. I should have participated in Sav’s activities last night, so maybe I wouldn’t be sitting here sporting wood so hard it’s painful.

 

“Come here, Love.”

 

 

I pat the mattress beside me, except she doesn’t move. She is either being openly defiant or completely confused about what I expect. What in the hell did these men do to her in the last two weeks? Standing up slowly, I move to stand in front of her and hold out my hand for her to take. She looks up but not at me. Following her gaze, I see that the green light on the camera in the corner is now on. She is definitely paying attention to details and is probably scared to death of what comes next, now that we are being watched. Is she hesitant to follow direction because it’s from me or is she afraid of the others seeing the intimacy that is guaranteed to happen between us? “Love, do you know if there is sound on that camera?” She tilts her head down, so her mouth is hidden.

 

 

“I don’t know,” she whispers.

 

 

I glance up again and see that it is just a ball with an eye but no microphone or sign of a speaker. It is mounted in the corner above my mattress and would show every corner of the room, the one just below it. The lack of sound and the limited line of sight will make it easier to deceive the bastards watching.

 

 

“Love, if they are watching or recording, I am being judged as well as you. It is imperative that you follow my instructions so we can make it out of here unscathed.”

 

Finally, she moves her small hand to mine. Pulling her to her feet and moving toward the bed causes her to stiffen but she follows anyway. Sitting down, I pull her onto my lap and feel that her heart is racing like she’s sprinted a mile. Wrapping my hand around her wrist, I place my thumb on her pulse point and rub circles there to calm her. Tears are streaming down her face to splash on my forearm, and it makes me want to kill every man in this house. Have they forced themselves on her? I was told that she is a virgin and I was brought in to teach her how to please a master. I’m hoping I can get her out of here before we have to perform that particular act on camera. I don’t’ mind being watched but I’m sure she will have a problem with it. If she is the virgin they say she is; she will have a problem with many of the things I plan to do to her.

 

 

Tori

 

 

This guard is confusing. What does he mean by he’s here to help me, or we need to get out of here unscathed? Is this a ploy to make me feel indebted to him so I won’t fight whatever he plans to do to me? I didn’t fight the other guards due to self-preservation. As long as I obeyed every humiliating command, they didn’t strike or touch me for the most part. Sometimes their words were cruel, vulgar and embarrassing, but they never touched me intimately.

This man has only shown kindness, which the others lacked. His touch feels like fire licking over my skin and the heat coming off his body is warming me up for the first time in two weeks. I have been kept naked and cold with no comforts, and right now I couldn’t be more comfortable. It’s a little embarrassing to be sitting on his lap in my current state of undress although I only have myself to blame. He did tell me to sit by him on the bed, but I was so scared that he would want to give them a show right now with the camera on. I surprised myself by my own disobedience, but even more surprised that he was calm and gave me time to adjust to him.

My old guard, Sir, told me I would be having sex with my new trainer and all I can think is, if I am forced to have sex, I’m glad it’s with this man. He doesn’t seem like the others who steal touches just to get their rocks off. I really don’t want to have sex with anybody. However, Sir told me I would have sex with many others while my master watches. The thought makes me sick, and I don’t think I’ll survive being a slave.

My heart rate has finally returned to normal with his soothing touches. Why is he so patient? Will he expect more from me than just sitting on his lap?

 

“Love, we are going to talk with our heads bent so they can’t see our mouths move. Like I said last night, my name is Jax, and I’m here to help you.”

 

 

Help me what? Learn how to please men? Does he really think that he is helping me? Remaining silent as I was taught, he continues.

 

 

“This is not an ideal situation for either one of us, but I need you to trust me.”

 

 

Does that mean he doesn’t want to touch me or have sex with me? Maybe he doesn’t find me attractive. How horrible it has to be for him to sexually train slaves he doesn’t want. I should be relieved that he doesn’t seem happy about what he’s about to do, but this is a new kind of humiliation. Rejection. I can’t control my emotions and tears leak from my eyes again.

 

 

“Love, while the camera is on, we will have to perform, but I will start off slow. Has anyone ever touched you intimately?”

 

 

I have never had a boyfriend, and the few dates I’ve been on ended in just a kiss. Sir had grabbed my ass when I didn’t move fast enough and once he brushed his knuckle across my nipple but I wouldn’t call that intimate. It felt more like a punishment than anything I would enjoy.

Sitting motionless, afraid that if he has an answer, he will want to begin and I’m not ready. Before I realize what has happened, he rolls me to my back and pins my arms above my head with one hand and straddles my legs with his knees pinning them together. Staring at him in shock, not knowing what the proper reaction should be, I lie frozen and unblinking. My mind starts to retreat inside the secret place in my head. Here I feel nothing. My body is numb, my mind checked out, and my heart closed off, so it doesn’t break at my loss of innocence.

 

 

Jax

 

 

“Love… Are you with me?” Shit! Her bright green eyes have glazed over, and she stares straight ahead like a catatonic patient. Is this how she has survived this place, by just checking out mentally? Bloody hell! These men could have done any number of things to her in this state, and she may not even remember. I moved her into position fast, so she didn’t have time to think about what was happening. She is probably always expecting the worst and trying to talk her through every little thing will look suspicious to the perverts watching. I am going to have to touch this woman in a very intimate way to save her life and mine.

It’s too soon to try and get her out of this house, and I need Savage in place before I try. There are anywhere from twelve to fourteen guards here at a time, and all of them carry guns except me. They stripped me of mine when I walked in saying, “You don’t need a gun to train the product. Your only job is to train and teach her to pleasure men like a pro.” Stupid bastards!

Trying to bring her out of her trance, I lean down and wrap my lips around the most perfect nipple I have ever seen and now tasted. She gasps out loud and arches her back, bringing her tits closer as if seeking a firmer touch. Being a Dom for the last seven years has taught me several things: 1. How to tell a fake reaction from a real one. 2. How to bring unimaginable pleasure to the most inexperienced subs. 3. How to make a woman crave my touch like an addict. In that one little taste, I’ve accomplished all three with this naturally submissive, incredibly sexy, innocent woman.

Usually, a woman’s first time is clumsy and either painful or forgettable. I can guarantee it will be neither for mine. Mine? The harder I suck, the louder she moans until she is moving her hips up and down as if seeking contact. Shit, shit, shit! I was only trying to get her attention and bring her back to reality, and now I have a hard time prying my lips off of perfection. Her little mewls and whimpers keep my lips right where they want to be. Pressing her hips up one more time, her groin makes contact with a very big problem that thinks on its own. If I don’t leave this room right now, I am going to give this woman more than she’s begging for in her lust filled haze. Releasing her hands, I fly off the bed and move to the door slamming it shut behind me.

 

 

Tori

 

 

My brain decides to come back online when wet heat sears my nipple. Holy shit! How have I gone twenty-one years without at least this little pleasure? Every pull of his mouth sends the same sucking sensation between my legs. My center is throbbing and hot, and I need some relief from the build up of pressure. Lifting up, my groin presses to the most impressive bulge and shocking pulses cause my core to contract. I think I’m going to cum for the first time in my life, and then I’m alone. Opening my eyes just as the door slams shut leaves me cold again and makes me realize that I will always be alone.

Having absolutely no experience with this sort of thing, my brain says he’s only doing his job and has no interest pleasuring me; my body aches, devastated. Maybe he didn’t expect that reaction from me. Hell, neither did I. In a slave/master relationship should only the master enjoy himself? It’s devastating to realize that in my new reality, I am just a receptacle and a means to an end. At least I am to this guard. My potential master wants me to perform daily for his viewing pleasure with multiple people. Why does it hurt so bad that this one man, a guard no less, doesn’t want me at all? Why would he? I am nothing but a slave. Cold and confused, I wrap the sheet around my body and retreat to my safe place once again. Tomorrow I will force myself not to enjoy his touch so much.

 

 

Jax

 

 

What the hell just happened? Standing in the hallway makes me look like a complete bastard. I am panting and sporting wood that wants to finish the job, but my mind finally registers that now is not the time. My goal was only to bring her around so we could talk about how to play this out, except her response threw out the playbook. Not only is she the sexiest woman I have ever laid eyes on, but she responds like a committed submissive. This is not learned behavior for her. This incredibly responsive woman is a natural sub, and this is why she has been so successful in her training so far. I have never wanted someone more than I want her, and not just for this imaginary job. Something came over me while touching her that I’ve never experienced in my life. The need to mark her and claim what’s mine is my mind, body, and souls top priority. I’ve got to get my head out of my ass before my cover is blown and we are both in danger. Just two more nights until Savage is in position and we can blow this house to kingdom come.

 

 

“Hey, man, Jones says things got heated up in there. Maybe now that you popped that cherry, we can all reap the rewards.”

 

 

I look up startled to see Slim standing in the living room. How long has he been there? I have become distracted by Tori, and I need to get my shit together. Tony said this is the guy who told Tori her sister was dead. I’m sure he has his own malicious reasons for trying to upset her. It is taking everything I have not to pop this man in the face. “Sorry to disappoint Mate, but she’s still intact. The last minute drive down has me a little worn out. Maybe tomorrow.” There is no way in hell that any of these men will get close enough to breathe on her, let alone touch what’s mine. Mine? Shit!

 

 

“Well, it’d be good to change it up a little. The red heads not very responsive anymore, and the guys are getting bored. They are tired of paying for hookers, and the rest of the girls are innocents so they are hands off until they’re not. If you get my drift.”

 

 

This man is going to be the first to die by my hands. Maybe even before Sunday. How the hell am I supposed to keep them away from the red head, protect Tori and keep my cover? “Where is the redhead, maybe I should blow off some steam so I can stay in control with this one?” Not happening, but I need a distraction and to come up with a plan fast.

 

 

“Next door over, but I wouldn’t bother. She’s not worth the effort.”

 

 

All women are worth it, but it would take more than words to convince this stupid prick. I move to the door he points to and slip inside. Oh shit! Curled up on a cushion is the redhead, eyes staring straight ahead, with her face and body covered in a sheen of sweat. She has deep bruising on the back of her thighs and lower back, no doubt from punishment by inexperienced hands. Moving quickly to her side, I place my hand on her upper back and feel that she is feverish. She doesn’t flinch at my light touch and is in no condition to fight off these stupid pigs in this house.

 

 

“Hey, Bloke,” I holler to the jackass in the hall. He is probably still out there waiting to get his rocks off again. “This woman is really sick. You stupid bastards probably gave her an S.T.D. She needs medical attention and at the very least, Advil for the fever.”

 

 

“Oh shit, man, I can’t bring that shit home to my wife. She’ll leave me this time for sure.”

 

 

She’s not gonna leave you cause you’ll be dead by the end of the week. I will make sure that every one of these bastards pays for what they have done. With the promise to get this sick woman medication or medical help, Dick-wad moves upstairs. I can hear him cursing and telling the other guards about the S.T.D, and I chuckle. That ought to buy her some time until I can get these women out of here. “I’m so sorry sweetheart. These men won’t hurt you ever again.” I promise as I leave her in peace.

Slipping back into my own room, I sit down on the cushion in the opposite corner and just watch the sleeping Tori. She has dried tear tracks on her face, and I wonder if that is because of what I did to her or the reaction she had to the intimacy we shared. I can’t imagine that a virgin understands why her body reacted the way it did even though her mind was checked out. I feel a pull to this small, fragile woman that I can’t explain.

Women have never been hard to come by due to my access to them at The X Club, but I have never felt such a connection to one before. I need to get Tori out of here before I am forced to take her virginity to save her life. I can’t imagine taking a woman under these circumstances. One who is being held against her will, performing acts of submission; not by choice but survival, and afraid of being raped daily.

 

 

Tori

 

 

Am I so repulsive to this guard that he would rather have sex with the raped captive than me? It’s hard to explain, even to myself, why I’m butt hurt over that idea. Crying has never been something I’ve done very often, but hearing Jax say he needs to blow off steam with the red head, has my eyes leaking against my will. It has not been hard to keep my emotions in check when it comes to the other guards in this place, but with him, it might be impossible. These men are monsters that abuse and rape women, but this man comes in here and shows me nothing but kindness and pleasure that I didn’t know was attainable. Maybe this is a form of Stockholm syndrome I am suffering from. Maybe this is a common form of training so the captive women will feel emotion toward their captors and choose to stay with them. In a good cop / bad cop scenario, a perp will always lean toward cooperating with the good cop.

I feel a little stupid now for falling for their tactics. In my child development studies, it taught me about positive and negative reinforcement and how they can alter a child’s reactions to certain situations. How in the hell did I not pick up on this before I became emotionally weak by Jax? Humiliation now has me more determined to shut down all emotion in my situation. It is the only thing I can control where my fate is concerned. Feel nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More “FREE” books

 

 

If you would like a free copy of “Found” the 2nd book in the Saved By Love series, please write a review at the venue where you downloaded “Lost,” take a picture of the published review and email it to [email protected] and I will send you a free book code for “Found.”

 

Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Bio

 

I reside in Southern Utah with my amazing husband who will actually scrub toilets, teenage daughters who don’t scrub toilets, one dog that drinks from the toilet, two cats that don’t scrub or drink from the toilet and one bird that does nothing. I have one son who is grown with a family of his own and has blessed me with two grandchildren.

Life has put me on some crazy adventures from owning a restaurant to owning a landscape company, and now owning a business that helps troubled teens. I can now add Author. 

My reading obsession started about ten years ago when my youngest daughter was three. My four girls and I would gather in one bedroom, and I would read to them until they fell asleep. We started with books by Dr. Seuss and worked our way up through teen books like Book of a Thousand Days, Harry Potter, The Lightning Thief and Eragon. This is kind of funny considering that I hated to read before that. I even cheated my way through high school when it came to reading books or writing reports.

About five years ago I started reading more for myself, and that is where the true obsession began. I have a massive list of favorite authors, and I am always looking for a new release. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time in Barnes and Noble. Then my amazing husband bought me an e-reader and technology became my best friend.

I am truly excited to begin this new adventure, and I hope I can take you on a wild ride with me. It is never too late to follow your heart. Or so my fortune cookie said, “your most memorable dream will come true.” I haven’t won the lottery, so this book is the next best thing.

 

 

Jodi Kae

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Lost: Saved by Love #1

  • Author: Jodi Kae
  • Published: 2017-07-08 17:50:20
  • Words: 65944
Lost: Saved by Love #1 Lost: Saved by Love #1