Bounty Hunters: 03 Stay Hungry

BOOK: Bounty Hunters: 03 Stay Hungry
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Prologue

Marianna Torres swore every vein in her body was on fire. The burning sensation would have been enough to make her scream if it weren't for how messed up her head was.

She'd tried drugs before--the light stuff. During high school she'd smoked pot a few times and she had drunk alcohol sometimes at parties. Marianna had never had much of an interest in the harder drugs. The thought of something else controlling her thoughts and actions didn't appeal to her at all. She couldn't imagine anyone voluntarily giving up control of their own actions.

Which was why she was now slowly going insane.

Marianna had been excited to come to the states, yet the moment she'd set foot on U.S. soil she'd been abducted. It had shocked the hell out of her when a strange man had slipped his arm around her neck, pulled her back against him, and hugged her tight enough so that anyone around them would believe they were just two people excited to see each other.

As she'd been escorted out of the airport, panic had grown, fermented, and spread like a debilitating fever.

There had been a sharp pinprick, she thought. But by the time they were outside the airport, it became frighteningly clear that she had no control over her own actions. The man had released her almost immediately, then told her to walk alongside him, so she had. He had told her to watch her step at escalators, so she'd looked down. He mentioned amiably that she watch her head when climbing in the backseat of his car, and she'd done just that.

He had drugged her. Marianna hadn't realized at first how incredibly terrible the drug was she'd been given. She was taken to a hotel, had slept on the floor and eaten when food was given to her. The strange man had told her his name was Mario. He had continued drugging her, injecting something into her vein while she watched, holding her arm out obediently and not moving as a drug flowed into her bloodstream through a tiny needle. Her will was no longer her own. No matter how many times Marianna told herself to fight him, to run the moment Mario's back was turned, she never did. The drug made her mind her worst enemy.

* * *

"We're going to have some fun tonight, my sweet pets." Mario smiled as he held the car door for her. "This is the perfect town to test your skills. Don't you agree?" Mario's laughter was demonic. "Of course you agree," he said, still chuckling.

Mario's mean laughter chilled Marianna to the bone. That was a good sign, right? Maybe once he parked she could escape. If he would just go long enough without telling her what to do. All he needed to do was walk away and forget to tell her to stay. He'd done that once already and Marianna had walked across the hotel room suite of her own accord. Mario's phone had rung and he'd come out of the bathroom, distracted, and hadn't noticed she'd moved.

She'd sat motionless, not moving as Mario often instructed when he was busy doing whatever it was he did. Marianna hadn't figured that out. But during those motionless times she'd analyzed the effects of the drug. While under the influence, which was always, her body did whatever she was instructed to do. Her brain was helpless in preventing her from complying.

"All you do is agree with me. Tonight will finish your training. Except for you, my adorable
puttana
." He glanced over his shoulder, flashing white teeth as he grinned at her.

Marianna stared at him, grateful at least for her thoughts. She was far from a slut, but Mario owned her body. She was terrified what he might do with it.

"You've got a lot of training ahead of you. And I do believe you'll absolutely love it. You were a
puttana
before the slave juice, though, weren't you?"

How many days ago was that? Her mother, and probably her sister by now, would believe Marianna simply had vanished off the face of the earth. There were times when she was pretty sure she had.

Fortunately, Mario didn't expect her to answer. Which was a good thing, since it was getting harder for her to differentiate her past from the present. Whatever this drug called slave juice was that he kept injecting in her, she prayed it didn't have residual effects. Sooner or later this insane captivity had to end. God, it really needed to be sooner.

Marianna wanted to walk away, refuse to acknowledge his commands, let alone carry them out. She hadn't decided yet if it would have been better if the drug stole her memory, instead of allowing her to retain every vivid detail of the many atrocities she'd endured in the hotel room. She'd been forced to watch other women under the influence of the drug being sexually abused. How many men had fucked them while she and Mario sat and watched? Each time Marianna was scared to death she would be next. She wasn't a virgin, but her sexual experiences had been few and limited to college boys as inexperienced as she was. These men knew positions Marianna had never dreamed of. She remembered every degrading sexual act inflicted on the women. The women would probably never forget the atrocities; Marianna knew she wouldn't.

One thing she'd begun to accept: the only way this would end was if she put an end to it. No one would rescue her if they didn't know she needed to be rescued. Mario had kept the TV news on. Marianna had never heard mention of any woman disappearing at the airport. In fact, there weren't any mentions of missing persons at all. And she wasn't the only abducted person. There were the two men with her, and at least two other women.

If she was going to end this nightmare, she needed to keep her brain alive and active. Somehow she needed to overpower the slave juice, which was trying to turn her into a zombie. So far all she'd managed was making herself move her head or lift her hand and place it on her lap. It was a start but a far cry from ordering herself to open the car door and jump out and run. As simple as the instructions seemed to be, making her body pull off all those actions seemed a bit too overwhelming.

"Everyone out." Mario turned off the motor after parking and opened his car door.

Marianna unbuckled her seat belt and opened her passenger door, seeing the simple command through without giving it a thought. She stood in the perfect night air, breathing in the sweetness of some flower growing nearby.

She was a slave inside her own body. Marianna hadn't figured out how to do it yet, but somehow she had to get her body back under her own control.

"Walk alongside me, say nothing, and don't run into anyone," Mario instructed the two men, who got out on the other side of the SUV.

Marianna didn't know their names. Mario used derogatory adjectives to address all of them. That didn't matter as much as not knowing what town they were in. When they'd left the hotel parking garage, Mario had instructed all of them to relax their heads in their hands and stare at the floor of the SUV. She wasn't able to look out the window. Although, not knowing a thing about America, Marianna doubted she'd have recognized the city by any of its landmarks. She'd seen the Statue of Liberty on TV, knew there was an arch in St. Louis, and possibly could identify the Golden Gate Bridge if she saw it. Otherwise, she'd never given much thought to learning about America.

Mario came up alongside her, resting his hand at the small of her back. Marianna looked into his cold, sinister eyes. Her expression wouldn't give away her thoughts. After all, he hadn't told her to smile, frown, or scowl. She simply stared at him.

"Let's go have some fun, shall we, slut?" He frowned. "Look at me and smile," he instructed, whispering.

Marianna stared into his black eyes, her mouth moving and forming a smile. She didn't want to smile at him. She wanted to kick him in the balls. Maybe if she got angry, seriously pissed and filled with rage, she'd conquer the drug searing her veins with continual heat one day after the next.

Or was it weeks?

"Now look ahead of you, hold your head high, and let everyone see what a gorgeous slut I have on my arm," he said, no longer looking at her but glancing around them as he started across the parking lot.

At least staring straight ahead, Marianna focused on everyone who passed by. She told herself to shift her attention to the buildings across the street. There were people everywhere, most of them laughing and hurrying, some running and some walking fast, all anxious to get where they were going. They were all dressed as if they were out for the night: bright colors, short skirts, flashy ties.

They were in L.A., which was nowhere near Chicago, where her half sister, Angela Huxtable, lived. Marianna prayed her half sister would find her. They hadn't seen each other in years, but Angela was a detective. She found people all the time. Marianna's mother, Mona Torres, also Angela's mother, bragged about Angela all the time.

Although Marianna had been eleven when her older half sister had left their home and gone to live with her father in America, Marianna remembered Angela and her mother fighting more times than not but didn't remind her mother of that part of their lives. If Marianna's mother wanted to remember only the good times with her older daughter, Marianna wouldn't deprive Mona of being proud of Angela.

Marianna knew her mom was proud of her, too. She had finished her first year of college and instead of summer school had decided to come to the states to spend time with Angela. Marianna and Angela had exchanged e-mails, chatted on Facebook, and both agreed getting to know each other again would be better in person than through the Internet. It had sounded like the perfect escape from books and exams for a couple months. The last thing Marianna had thought would ever happen was something like this.

Marianna was ashamed of being dressed the way she was. It wasn't hard for everyone to notice the slut on Mario's arm. Marianna wore a dress that might as well be a few straps of material wrapped around her body. It wasn't cold out, actually far from it, but nonetheless she was aware of her nipples hardening against the thin silky fabric barely covering her breasts. Not wearing underwear in public was the ultimate humiliation, especially when her dress barely covered her ass.

Mario's hand slid lower until he cupped her ass, moving the material out of his way and exposing her rear end to whoever might be behind her.

"We want everyone to know you're a good
puttana
, right?" Mario lowered his head, nipping at her neck.

Marianna continued focusing on each person who passed them, making eye contact with some, while others moved by too quickly or with their heads down and prevented her from seeing their faces. She didn't pay attention to Mario, what he said, or how he groped her. Instead she stared hard at each person they passed, who watched with either disgust or lustful curiosity.

They were out in public. People were everywhere. All she had to do was start screaming and police would probably show up. Mario would be arrested. Her nightmare would end.

She needed to give herself an order. She'd ordered herself to turn her head, and it had worked. Maybe if she started simple.

She instructed herself to open her mouth. When her lips parted, the two men passing by, who each gave her a hungry look, both settled their attention on her mouth. The fire in her veins intensified, the drugs' way of keeping her in line.

"I think we're just about where we need to be." Mario slapped her ass, slowing his pace and taking her wrist in his sweaty palm. "This is going to be so much fun," he mumbled under his breath.

She focused in on a couple nearing her. Open her mouth. Speak. Say the word "help." That was all she had to do. The couple neared. Marianna parted her lips. Her brain instructed her to follow the second half of the command and speak.

"Help," she grunted, the one word completely inaudible, even to Mario, whose shoulder brushed against hers.

Either way, the couple looked at her. They didn't say anything. Their expressions didn't change and they kept walking. But they focused on her, albeit just for a moment. She hoped eventually her disappearance would hit the news. If a picture of her was posted, possibly someone would come forward and announce they had seen her in Los Angeles.

"This is a good spot." Mario slowed after they turned a corner, then stopped and instructed the men on the other side of him to stop as well. His hand dug into the side of her waist, pressing her against him, and turned them both to face the dark side of a building.

There weren't as many people walking along this sidewalk, although loud, thumping disco music reverberated off the sides of the buildings on either side of the street. It came from a nightclub at the end of the street. Different-colored lights flashed off the building, creating somewhat of a surreal atmosphere, even this far down the street. She quit trying to give herself orders and instead fought to keep her equilibrium. All those bright lights were making her dizzy.

"Okay, you two thugs, let's see." Mario tapped his finger against his lips and glanced around him. He let go of Marianna and turned his back on her, giving both men his complete attention. "You," he instructed, slapping the back of his hand against the arm of the guy closer to him. "Go start that blue car parked on the street. You're going to hot-wire it. Do you know how to hot-wire a car?"

"Yes."

"What did I just tell you to do?"

"Hot-wire the blue car parked on the street." The man's accent might be American, but if it was, he spoke a dialect Marianna wasn't familiar with. He never looked at her but stared at Mario, his expression so blank he might as well have been asleep.

Mario grunted, taking a step backward. "Amazing you remember that much. I need to make a note you can't control a brain that isn't there. Avoid the dumb fucks."

The man left them, oblivious to the insult, and sauntered over to the car, then opened the driver's side door. It wasn't locked. No one said anything as the guy knelt outside the car and messed with something until the engine roared to life.

Marianna had never stolen a thing in her life. She waited for panic to kick in. She was watching a man steal a car.

Although, wait; if they were caught, the police would take her. Eventually the poison burning her veins would wear off. She'd finally be free. Instead of panic, a wave of excitement washed over her. It was strong enough to distract her from the burning sensation inside her, at least for a few moments.

BOOK: Bounty Hunters: 03 Stay Hungry
3.97Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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