Burning Ultimatum (Trevor's Harem #4) (6 page)

BOOK: Burning Ultimatum (Trevor's Harem #4)
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“If you perform to my liking today — if you pass this test — then Linda and Jenny will never need to worry about their past again.”

I don’t like what I imagine coming, but the threat is too thick to ignore. I can’t believe Kylie, but don’t doubt this man and what his money can do. When he promises help, I believe him.

I must do well.
 

“So how do I pass?”

I wait for instructions. I wait for rules. I wait for expectations. I wait for parameters and guidelines. Instead, Caspian repeats what he’s already said:

“You
pass.”
 

CHAPTER SIX

Bridget

My inner wiseass wants to say all sorts of stupid things. I use humor as a defense. I guess it’s supposed to prove that I’m so at ease with a situation that I can kick back enough to make witty rejoinders. But this time, in this place, no jokes rise to my lips, and I only repeat what he’s said in the privacy of my mind:

To pass, I pass.
 

Deconstructed, so I can have a step-by-step guide, that means step one is to pass.
 

And if I do that, I’ll pass.
 

“I don’t understand.”
 

“You’re not supposed to.”
 

“But it would help if I knew more of what you wanted.” I force out the rest, knowing it sounds stupid: “So I can do my best to please you.”
 

“I’m not being enigmatic, Bridget. I actively
want
you to not understand. I
want
you confused.”
 

I think of the waiting room, where I couldn’t get comfortable. The sights and sounds that unsettled me for unknown, nonspecific reasons.
 

Before I can shut myself up, I say, “Why?”
 

“When you meditate, you clear your mind. You experience nothingness to find the truth within.”
 

It’s a strange thing to say. It also seems to be the only answer I’m going to get. I try to see the room as a meditation of sorts, and find it’s not impossible. There’s little to see from under the spotlight since my eyes won’t adjust to the gloom. The chaise is so soft, it’s almost as if I’m sitting on air. It’s like a sensory deprivation tank, robbing me of inputs so I can hear my inner voice.

Which, by the way, is freaked right the fuck out of its mind. This is too weird. Normal people don’t do things like this. I consider the rumors spread about Caspian White. When most women hear them, they say they’d love to indulge the oddity … but they haven’t sat where I’m sitting now, and if they had, maybe they’d know better.
 

“What do you want?” I ask.
 

“I want you.”
 

“You can’t have me.”
 

He laughs as if this is the stupidest thing anyone has ever said. “Not like that.”
 

“How then?”
 

“Do you really not know who you are?”
 

I can’t help myself. I give him a condescending squint. Like the jokes that wanted to bubble up earlier, the squint is meant to let him know I’m above all of this, that he isn’t getting to me. But my heart is a triphammer. My breath is short. I’m lightheaded. Almost nothing has happened, but I feel like I’ve gone ten rounds with a heavyweight.

I wonder if I’m supposed to answer, but Caspian beats me to it.
 

“No, of course you don’t. Nobody knows who they truly are.”

“I know who I am. I know where I’m from. I know what I want.”
 

Caspian seems surprised that I’ve spoken. His eyebrows rise and finally —
finally
— I see a strange smile lift the corners of his lips. I know we’re in a total mind fuck of a room, and that intimidation is the primary objective. It’s working — but even through it all, I can’t help responding to what turns out to be an irresistible charm. There’s a reason everyone is talking about this man. He looks like a Norse god; he commands every situation; he has a manner and smile that, when it finally emerges, magnetizes the air between the man and his victim. I’ll bet Caspian can talk his way into anything. I’ll bet that when he enters a room, ears perk and legs part.
 

“Do you?” he says. “And yet you’re so ashamed.”
 

“I’m not ashamed at all.”
 

“Of course you are. You don’t participate in the gatherings. You shower quickly and keep yourself covered. Apparently, you masturbate, but it’s mostly under the covers, where no one can see.”
 

I don’t know if I should deny what he’s saying or ask how he could possibly know. I’ve been loud and proud a few times, but usually I do it in the dark, squeezing a pillow, and come like a whisper. Yet I get the feeling he knows how many orgasms I’ve had here, down to the digit.

So I answer him obliquely, neither confirming nor denying.
 

“Privacy isn’t the same as shame.”
 

“So if we were together,” Caspian says, making a little finger circle in the air to indicate something highly hypothetical, “you would let me watch you.”
 

It’s a shit test. I want to tell him to knock it off, but he’s not being lecherous; he’s trying to get a rise out of me. Jessica’s earlier words echo through my head, and I realize they were meant as advice:
Be you.

So fuck it. I’ll be Bridget — and yes, Mr. White, I know exactly who Bridget is.

“Of course I’d let you watch.”

“Then why didn’t you let Daniel?”
 

The simple question, said with the same charm, cuts me a little. That, I wasn’t quite ready for.

“The situation never came up.”
 

“But you would. You
would
have let him watch.”
 

Shit
. I guess I’m in this now. “Yes.”

“What if I told you he’s watching now?” Caspian looks over his shoulder, but I see nothing.
 

“I’d say, ‘Good for him.’”
 

“And what if I asked you to perform for him?”
 

“I’d tell you to go fuck yourself.”
 

“No, no.” He laughs, but it’s somehow a parody of a genuine laugh. “What I’m asking is if
you’d
fuck
your
self.”
 

“No.”
 

“You just said you would.”
 

“For Daniel. Not for you.”
 

Caspian gestures over his shoulder. Daniel comes forward, and my heart gives a leap as he, dressed as immaculately as Caspian, comes to stand beside the chair, his face unreadable.
 

I don’t want to see him. I’ve been trying to avoid him. But do I want to do this? I know where Caspian is going … and still, I have no idea what he wants from me. He says that if I pass this test, he’ll help me with Linda, and I believe him. He suggests that if I fail, he’ll hinder me with Linda, and I believe that as well. But do I pass by submitting, or resisting?
 

Be you
.

“Daniel,” Caspian says, as if I don’t know the newcomer’s name. He doesn’t repeat his question, because it’s implied.
 

When I do nothing, Caspian shakes his head. “Shame. See?”
 

“Just because I won’t masturbate in front of two men and God knows how many other watchers doesn’t mean I’m ashamed. It means I’m normal.”
 

“Quite the contrary. If you are a sexual being, then claim your sexuality. It’s not just frustrating when people like you self-censor. It’s cruel.”
 

“To you.”
 

“To yourself.” Caspian crosses his legs. Daniel looks uneasy beside him. “You only have so much time to be at your peak. Just look at you, Bridget. So young. So sweet.”
 

“I’m not sweet.”
 

“So wounded,” he continues, ignoring me. “So innocent, in your own way. You think you can take care of yourself. You think you’re whole. But someone hurt you. It’s worse than being hurt by your father, isn’t it? Your father abandoned you so completely, it’s clear he never wanted you at all.”
 

Daniel shoots Caspian a glance. I see his fists tense up, then forcibly relax.
 

“I’m not going to do what you want me to do,” I say.
 

“You should get comfortable. Lie back on that chaise.”
 

“Fuck you.”

Caspian shakes his beautiful head. “So angry. All I’m doing is talking. It’s you who’s inferred a threat. I haven’t even made a request. You’ve assumed one. This is about you, Bridget. Not me.
 

Is that true? I’m sure he’s asked me to touch myself for him, but now I wonder.
 

“Lie back. If for no other reason than to prove that I’ve not gotten to you.”
 

“No.” I don’t even know why I’m saying it.

“You just told me that you weren’t going to do what I want you to do. I
want
you to be uncomfortable. And you’ve already told me that you masturbate. That you’d let me watch.”
 

“You’re twisting my words.”
 

“So why not lie back? Why not be comfortable?”

I won’t move. I won’t.

Caspian sits forward in the chair. His voice softens, and suddenly it’s like he’s speaking only to me, like we’re the only two people in the room, in the whole wide world.
 

“They tell me you have an uncanny ability to resist,” he practically whispers. “That your special ability is moderation. Restraint. Daniel told me all about how he turned on all his magical charms and still you wouldn’t even kneel down and take his cock in your mouth. The man you loved, and still you refused.”
 

“I didn’t love him.”
 

But I did. Past tense.
 

“But to me,” Caspian continues, “that’s not restraint and moderation. That’s
conditioning
. Not the kind they try to do here, like when rats are kept in cages and taught fetishes. Did you know there was one lab that conditioned female rats to prefer male rats wearing tiny leather jackets? It’s not a joke. Even rats can be made to prefer bad boys, just like you preferred Daniel to your kinder, better-behaving host.” He laughs, but it lasts only a second, as if part of a script. “At first, anyway.”
 

Daniel’s fists clench again. He looks right at me, as if I’m on trial rather than being the victim.
 

“No, Bridget. I’m talking about the kind of conditioning that fathers and mothers do to daughters and sons. Or in your case, a sequence of detached caregivers. You, the girl that nobody wanted, taught to withhold sexuality as her final, desperate bargaining chip.”
 

I won’t look away. I won’t let this sick fuck beat me.
 

“I’m curious,” Caspian says, “what would happen if we put
you
in a cage.”
 

For a second, I’m sure he means it literally. I heard this transformed room referred to as the dungeon, but so far it’s just a big black space. Is there more against the walls? Whips, chains, gags? Cages for girls who refuse to listen?

“But that’s what happened, isn’t it?” Caspian says. “You were put in one cage after another. Foster home after foster home. They didn’t tie you down, but you were just as captive. Emotionally, if not physically.
Of course
you chose Daniel, once here.
Because
he was wrong for you.
Because
you knew he’d hurt you. Do you really think you didn’t recognize him? Of course you did. You knew what you’d done, and how he’s become who he is thanks to your cruelty. You sought the rat with the darkest leather jacket, to punish yourself for what you’ve done.”

“Bullshit,” I say. But I feel so small. Beaten, here in this big white spotlight. Now lying back as he wanted me to, though I don’t remember doing it.
 

“I know you better, Bridget Miller, than you know yourself.” He gestures over his shoulder, this time on the other side. Trevor appears, the two men now flanking Caspian like sentinels. “And I know that if you could do it without consequence, you would give in right now. Not to Daniel … but to Trevor.”
 

I lick my lips. I wish I knew what this was all about. I wish I knew what he expected, so I could get this over with.
 

“I wouldn’t.”
 

“Yes you would. Because right now, Trevor is the wrong choice. Right now, letting Trevor touch you will cause your life the most damage.”
 

I feel trapped in a paradox. Does he want me to fail in order to pass? Or pass by refusing what he says … in which case I’ll protect myself, but then he’ll deem that I’ve failed? I don’t know which impulse to trust. Jessica said to
be me
, but if I secretly want to harm myself, that’s exactly the wrong choice. So many double negatives. If I’m self-destructive by my very nature,
being me
in order to pass Caspian’s test is the single most reliable way to ensure that I fail.
 

Caspian motions for Trevor to approach the chaise. He moves into the spotlight, and his eyes apologize to me. But dammit, between looking at Daniel and looking at Trevor, I’m sort of getting turned on. Because I hate me. Because I want what’s wrong for me.

“Tell me, Bridget,” Caspian goes on, with Daniel still beside him. “When you first met your foster brother, Brandon — before you formed your bond, before you grew older and got used to him, when he was just the latest leather-jacketed loser tossed into your broken cage — did you ever touch yourself while thinking about him?”
 

“No,” I say, but I finally break eye contact. I feel crushed. Dominated. Broken into a thousand pieces.
 

“Poor little girl,” Caspian coos, his voice sinister. “You’re damaged goods, but an emotional virgin. You truly
are
innocent. You truly
are
pure. But it’s barely a good thing, if at all. You don’t have a gift of considered restraint. You’re simply more conditioned to feel shame about your sexuality than you are willing to act out. You won’t allow yourself to experience what you truly desire, and what would be better for you than some fucking
rat
.”
 

BOOK: Burning Ultimatum (Trevor's Harem #4)
8.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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