Against Her Will (Dragon's Lair)

BOOK: Against Her Will (Dragon's Lair)
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Against Her Will:

Dragon’s Lair, Book One

By

Britta Ashley

 

©
2014 by Blushing Books® and Britta Ashle

 

Copyright ©
2014 by Blushing Books® and Britta Ashley.

All rights reserved.  No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Published by Blushing Books®,

a subsidiary of

ABCD Graphics and Design

977 Seminole Trail #233

Charlottesville, VA 22901

The trademark Blushing Books® is registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Ashley
, Britta

Against Her Will: Dragon’s Lair, Book One

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62750-4287

 

Cover Design: by ABCD Graphics

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

If you ever come across a small, black card with the insignia of a red dragon printed on the front, do not tell anyone. Do not leave the card f
or anyone else to find, and do not ask anyone if he or she has lost it. Hide the card in your belongings and shred it at the first available opportunity. Discard the shredded paper in separate wastebaskets, and empty the wastebaskets at different times. By no means should you read the card or be observed holding it in public.

If a child offers you the card, do not be fooled. If a kindly grandmother asks if you have dropped something from your purse, run—don’t walk—as fast as you can. They have been coopted, most likely without their knowledge, into the powerful underground network known as Dragon’s Lair. No one knows exactly what happens in Dragon’s Lair, only that people go in but do not go out.
Rumors of people gone missing, terrifying in any circumstance, immediately quiet down if a Dragon card is found. Families refuse to file missing person reports, police stations refuse to take missing person reports, and news outlets refuse to cover the disappearances.

It’s not high-profile people who go missing
; far from it. Generally, the missing are young women who have graduated from college, moved to a new town, or are cut off from friends and family. Often, they are in dire financial straits or have experienced some devastating loss.

No one kno
ws what happens to the girls taken into the Lair, but all presume the worst. Once caught in the jaws of the Dragon, no girl has ever been seen again. Families double their security and send a chaperone with their daughters at all times. No one from the outside ever found out what happened to girls brought inside the Dragon’s Lair.

Until now.

CHAPTER ONE

 

Sarah never should have picked up the handcuffs, let alone fastened them to her wrists. But she was young and naïve and in love, and she trusted her fiancé. She blinked at the text message on her phone, blushed, giggled, and made up her mind. If Luke wanted a night of fun, she would be delighted to make it happen. Staid Luke had never given her more than a chaste kiss or two, but perhaps she could lure him into some petting. Heavy petting, if she were lucky. She didn’t want to become the world’s first twenty-three-year-old virgin on her next birthday.

“Good night! See you tomorrow!” The five-foot-six b
londe tossed her curls and laughed as she waved to her office mates. A completely inappropriate and unprofessional wolf whistle greeted her announcement, but Sarah pretended not to have heard. She was young, fit, and curvy in all the right places. Whistles were part of her daily life.

“Can’t wait to get
home?” Becky, the secretary—or rather, the administrative assistant—laughed. “Pretty soon you and Luke will be an old married couple, watching television in separate rooms.”

“Not tonight!” Sarah kicked off her low-heeled black work pumps and stepped into gold-studded stilettos. She peered into her desktop mirror as she wiped off the beige daytime lipstick and carefully outlined her lips in dark red. Smiling at her reflection, she applied gleaming scarlet lipstick guaranteed not to smear or stain her teeth. There were few ways to turn off her fiancé, but blotchy red teeth could do it every time.

Becky handed Sarah the tiny evening purse that contained little more than a mirror, facial tissues, and lipstick. “Where’s Luke taking you tonight?”

Sarah slid her work shoes underneath the desk and set her lipstick in the top drawer. She arranged a gauzy, glittery shawl around her shoulders and accepted the purse. At twenty-two, she was one of the older office temps but the first to get married. Becky, still in college, envied Sarah her car, her boyfriend, and now her upcoming wedding.

Sarah tried to be as happy as Becky seemed to think she should be, but sometimes Sarah wondered. Was she ready to get married? Or would she later regret missing out on time to be herself? Sarah’s mother had dated the same boy all through high school and married him two days after graduation. Janet had insisted Sarah finish college before marrying, for fear that marriage would end her education. A wife at the age of eighteen and a mother before her nineteenth birthday, Janet had never gotten a chance to get a postsecondary education.

Still, if Sarah didn’t get married, what glorious single life would she enjoy? True,
Luke the businessman liked a quiet, predictable life. True, their initial mutual attraction had been wonderful, but three years of dating had made the impending wedding seem almost anticlimactic. Their relationship had grown stale, whether they wanted to admit it or not. How could they create a life together when they stayed together mainly out of inertia rather than passion? But everyone expected Sarah to date and marry the nice, financially secure, courteous suitor. She had dutifully majored in home economics as her mother wished. Then she had dutifully dated and gotten engaged to a good prospect.

On paper, Sarah
had done everything right. She would marry Luke, bear him 2.01 children, chair parent-teacher committees, and drive a minivan. She would fret about runs in her stockings, and she would admonish her children not to bother Daddy after a hard day at work.

How could
Janet have worked so hard to give Sarah a better life, and yet Sarah only saw herself doing the same things? Would her four years of college make a difference in her life once she was chained to American suburbia?

Luke loved her,
but he loved her like a well-polished vase or matching armchair for his living room. He would dust her, polish her, and take meticulous care of her…but would that be enough? Wasn’t she too young to become a Stepford wife? She wanted to break free from her parents’ expectations and experience the heady adventures other teenagers enjoyed while she had stayed at home like a good girl. Luke never spoke to her of his personal life, never asked her about her dreams, and never allowed their conversations to dip beyond superficiality. She would die from his indifferent courtesy, and he would give her a memorial service in impeccable taste.

Then again, perhaps Luke’s message today spoke of
a new direction for their relationship. Sarah hardly dared to hope, but at this point she was willing to try anything. She was foolish to do as he asked, but what were her choices? After three years, she had invested too much time into this relationship to start over. Besides, it would kill Janet to miss out on choosing flowers for the wedding. Janet’s excitement grew daily at becoming the mother of the bride.  How could Sarah let her down? Marriage couldn’t be that terrible, could it?

Perhaps
hooded falcons didn’t mind captivity as long as they beat their wings against cages of gold.


Luke won’t tell me,” Sarah admitted. “He told me to go to the parking lot and wait.”

Becky groaned in envy. “So romantic! You’re lucky to have someone to think of surprises like that. Me, I go home to three roommates and stinky cat litter.
And let me tell you that scoopable kitty litter is not all it’s cracked up to be. Stinky, clumpy, and pure disgust.”


Ew!” Sarah giggled. “Like you’d ever want anything to happen to Shady. He’s your baby.”

“Stinky baby,” Becky muttered. She adored her cat, but she
often said she would have given him up to have a fiancé like Luke. It made Sarah feel guilty to have what Becky wanted even though Sarah wasn’t sure if it was right for her. She knew the fantasy wedding stories were just that - fantasy. But shouldn’t she feel at least some excitement knowing her life would change forever?

Sarah and Becky walked out of the office together, turning out the lights
and making their way into the deserted parking garage. Sarah checked one last time to make sure her hair was smooth, her makeup perfect, and her stockings free from snags. She waved a cheerful good-bye to Becky and rounded the corner to her usual parking spot. She liked to park away from the flow of traffic. Too many careless drivers yanked their doors open without caring whether their doors scratched neighboring cars. Her car might not be fancy, but it was completely paid for. Her pride and joy.

She
took a deep breath when she arrived at her red Honda Civic. As promised, a silver offering lay on the trunk of her car. She prayed no one had seen, or that they hadn’t wondered why office assistant Sarah Mathison had such an odd item on her car in plain sight of all passersby.

Out of her pocket came a bab
y-blue handkerchief. One of Luke’s own. She darted her gaze left and right to make sure no one was around. No one to watch her follow Luke’s bizarre instructions. She gulped and lifted the handkerchief to smooth it across her eyes. She tied the fabric in the back of her head, using a good, tight knot. She added a double knot for extra security. Fumbling, she reached for the cold, hard metal resting on the top of her car. She slid one circle around her left wrist and snapped it closed. She lifted her hands in front of her, even though she could not see, to awkwardly snap the latch closed on the second circle.

She rested her hands against her cheek, breathing hard in the darkness.
The metal warmed quickly to her touch, and instead of coldness she focused on the sensation of hardness, the slightly rounded edges resting on her skin. She tugged experimentally, and the edges pulled at her skin. She stopped at once, but she realized that the cuffs were not a toy or a joke. At least not yet. She was well and truly stuck, trapped and helpless in a public place. Against all reason, her knees weakened and she leaned against her car. What would Luke do to her? He had never given her an order before, and she had to admit that she liked it. Maybe he could take charge, after all.

Who knew why an accountant wanted his future bride blind and helpless in a deserted parking lot? Who knew why his future bride complied with an instruction that made no sense? Earlier that morning, Luke had sent her an unusually cryptic text message.

Handcuffs and blindfold by car after work.

It didn’t sound the way Luke normally talked,
not even in abbreviated text speak. He didn’t give orders, but rather he asked her only what he might ask of anyone his equal. He was unfailingly calm, courteous, and polite. Sometimes, if she were honest with herself, aggravatingly so. Sometimes she wished for a man who could be a man, someone not afraid to assert himself. She had thrilled at his text command and allowed herself to hope Luke had read her mind. She thought that her normally staid and conventional Luke must have prepared something amazing for the two of them. Maybe he had listened when she dropped hints about needing excitement. Maybe he would bring her wine and roses. Maybe even a little kinky fun to spice up their relationship. Maybe he’d whisk her away for a night on the town. They’d enjoy a romantic jet-setting celebration of their last few weeks before their slow descent into playing bridge and making quilts.

So caught up in her thoughts was Sarah that she never heard the footsteps behind her.
She never noticed the shift in air, never felt the bodies right next to her. By the time unseen hands fitted a mask over her face, she had no time to struggle against the fumes. A large burlap bag dropped over her as if she were a butterfly caught in a net, and she heard one voice only. Not Luke’s voice, but one much richer and deeper. Menacing. Yet dripping with power that made her insides quiver.

“Tell Luke hello from Master Dragon. If you ever see him again.”

Stupidly, she wailed, “But Luke doesn’t know any dragons!”

As she lost consciousness, Sarah had time for one last thought.
They’ll see my panties aren’t clean.
When the police found her mangled, dead body, they would see she hadn’t followed her grandmother’s lifelong rule - always wear clean underwear because you never know when accidents might happen. Then what will you do? And all because she had trussed herself up and made herself helpless for anyone to take advantage of her.

 

*              *              *

 

On the other side of town, a cell phone beeped with an incoming text message.
Mission accomplished.

The senior manager of
Foxtram & Stein read the message…and smiled.

 

*              *              *

 

A well-built man with white-blond hair greeted his subordinates as they ushered their newest catch into an empty holding cell. She hung limply from their arms, her wrists and legs bound and her head covered with a bag. He lifted a finger for them to pause in their transfer.

“Is she still out?”

“Yes, sir. And we blindfolded her, just as you said.”

“Leave her.”

The guards shrugged at each other at this breach of protocol, but they did as they were told. The man loosened the strings of the burlap bag and caught his breath. The vivid red lips, slack with unconsciousness, stood out against her perfect, clear skin. The soft golden hair framed her face like a halo. He had a feeling that her eyes, hidden behind a rough cloth, would be clear and bright. He lowered a hand to her cheek, brushing the porcelain skin. He stroked the softness.

“He told
me to take good care of you,” the man said. “He didn’t specify how well.”

 

*              *              *

 

A click jerked Sarah awake. She tried to spring to her feet, but the handcuffs kept her arms locked in front, throwing her balance off-center. She wobbled, bashed her knee against the concrete wall, and fell face-forward. She cursed as a trickle of blood flowed down her lip. She spat in disgust, trying to expel the metallic, sickly sweet taste. She raised her arms in an effort to dislodge the handkerchief around her eyes, but she had tied the fabric too tight. She squeezed her eyes shut and popped them open, but the blackness never shifted. She tried again and again, and then shook her head from side to side in a crazy effort to regain some control. Where was she, and what had happened?

A clang of metal against metal interrupted Sarah
’s thoughts and footsteps thudded toward her. She strained to catch any laughter, any recognition, or for Luke to pull off the blindfold with a laugh and a kiss. Without thinking, her lips parted half-open for his tongue against hers. To do otherwise would mean giving in to the hysteria threatening to erupt from her chest.


On your knees, wench.” A rough, unfamiliar voice barked at her and she tripped in her new shoes. Mild-mannered Luke would never allow anyone to treat her this way. Right?


This isn’t funny!” She held out her wrists. “Take these off and tell Luke to stop joking around. We’re supposed to...”

Even without the blindfold, the slap
to her cheek would have caught her by surprise. With the blindfold, her entire body reeled in shock. Her cheek stung unbearably, and she wondered if his fingers had left imprints. It was almost fortunate that a second slap followed almost immediately, a counterbalancing blow to her other cheek. Her ears rang, and she wiggled her jaw up and down to make sure she hadn’t lost any teeth. Surely she would be toothless, deaf, and blind after an impact like that.

BOOK: Against Her Will (Dragon's Lair)
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