Authors: Susan A. Bliler
Lucia cut in, “Oh my god Warren, who has he killed?” Without waiting for an answer Lucia went on, “Please Warren, call the police. I’m in a large manor with large stonewalls and several balconies on the third floor. The butler’s name is Patrick and Draken’s brother is here, his name is Nikolai. The estate is large; I can only see trees from the balcony, no landmarks. Help me Warren please!”
“Okay, okay, okay. I’m going to hang up now and call the police. I’ll tell them all the information you’ve just given me, but remember your best chance at survival is to make him think that you and I are lovers. Lucia you have to make him believe,” Warren pleaded.
As tears of relief rolled down Lucia’s cheeks she asked, “Why Warren? Why will that help?” She felt guilty even asking. She knew by now that Draken meant her no harm.
“Just do it,” he barked impatiently, “I’m going to hang up now and call the police. Remember what I said. I’ll see you soon.”
Before Lucia could say anymore, Warren hung up. Placing the phone back on the receiver, she leaned on the table and softly wept. She was startled to feel a strong-arm snake around her waist while another hand grabbed her around the chin before moist lips were trailing wet kisses down her neck.
Desperately, she tried to free herself from the grasp, but Nikolai only pulled her closer and squeezed her tighter. The smell of whiskey lingered on her skin where his mouth trailed down her neck. Her self-consciousness about her scars transitioned into sheer mortification as Nikolai mumbled, “Soft. So soft.”
“Stop,” she demanded, “Nikolai stop, get off me!”
Nikolai released his grip just long enough to spin her around to face him. He immediately pulled her into his chest and began kissing her neck again. She slapped at him and pushed on his chest attempting to get away, but he easily lifted her off the ground and carried her to the couch. Dropping her down, his weight crushed against her as he continued his assault.
Now kicking and fighting back as best she could, Lucia let out a scream when Nikolai dropped his hand down to the side slit in her dress and slowly smoothed his hand up her thigh. In sheer panic, she jerked her knee up, hitting Nikolai in just the place she’d hoped.
As he rolled off her onto the floor, she too rolled off the couch to her knees. As she pushed up to make a break for the door, Nikolai grabbed the right shoulder strap of her black gown. Pulling away fiercely, the strap snapped and Lucia made a hobbling dash for the closed doors.
Nikolai struggled to rise from the floor even as Lucia threw the library’s doors open and raced for the stairs as best she could. At the bottom of the stairs, she realized that if Nikolai regained his composure he’d easily catch her on the stairs. She simply didn’t have the ability to ascend quickly enough. Looking over her shoulder she saw Nikolai racing toward her.
Immediately she turned to face the stairs and screamed, “DRAKEN!”
Nikolai was on her in an instant and clamped a large hand over her mouth as she attempted to scream again for the elder of the brothers.
With her plea muffled, Nikolai spun her to face him, one hand covering her mouth while the other again searched for the slit in her skirt as he roughly forced her back on the stairs. His angry lips were now ravenously kissing her tear-soaked face.
Horrified, she struggled knowing she was no match for Nikolai’s strength or size. Just when she thought that there would be no rescue, Nikolai’s body was violently ripped from atop her. Rolling to her side and wiping blood from her lip where Nikolai’s forceful mouth had cut her own, Lucia looked up to see Draken in a rage. The monstrous Nikolai from moments earlier was now a cowering little boy.
“Brother please! She asked for it,” Nikolai pleaded as he tried to scramble from his brother’s reach.
Grabbing Nikolai by the front of his shirt, Draken slammed him against the wall and wrapped a vice-like grip around his throat.
Nikolai attempted to plead his case before giving up on the futile effort in exchange for attempting to suck in gulps of air.
Hearing Nikolai’s desperate gasps, Lucia rose from the steps and stumbled her way to where the men stood. Draken in a silent rage was slowly squeezing the life from his brother.
Nikolai’s eyes were blood shot and bulging from lack of oxygen. He frantically gasped for air while kicking and trying to pry Draken’s hands loose.
Lucia grabbed Draken’s arm, “Draken, stop! You’ll kill him, STOP!”
Draken released his grip on his brother and spun on Lucia with the same vehemence. His eyes locked on her throat and he reached for her.
Lucia gasped and flinched in fear as her hand rushed to cover her throat.
When Draken froze, Lucia shook her head. “What is wrong with you people?”
Draken was motionless for a moment before his shoulders slumped and he crossed to sit on the bottom stair as Nikolai floundered, coughing on the floor.
Lucia trembled in disbelief. Silently she turned her back on the brothers. Slowly and painfully she climbed the stairs as quickly as she could, desperately needing the safety of her room.
Just as she crested the first landing, she heard Draken tell Nikolai, “That is the last time you make a mutiny among my guests. Tonight you leave and if you ever return Nikolai I’ll make you wish you hadn’t.”
Once in her room, Lucia tried to control her breathing as she leaned against the door. Looking at her reflection from across the room in the dressing table mirror, she saw that her lips were bright red where blood seeped from the cut Nikolai had caused on her lip. Her hair was disheveled, and she stood holding the front of her gown as it had been ripped during the struggle and the only thing holding it in place was her hand. Still shaking, she crossed to the dressing table where she grabbed a tissue and wiped the blood from her lips. Using the same tissue, she rubbed her tear stained face in an attempt to regain her composure. Her heart nearly stopped when she heard her door open.
Afraid it was Nikolai, her body tensed preventing her from spinning in her chair. Relief eased her tension when she saw Draken enter.
He crossed to the dressing table as Lucia rose and turned to face him. With concern, etched on his face, he peered down into her eyes as he gently grabbed her shoulders, “Are you alright?” he whispered.
She opened her mouth but no words came. Instead, she simply leaned into the safety of his arms and wept, and he held her without saying a word. Lucia reveled in the safe harbor of his embrace, listening to the steady beating of his heart.
After what seemed an eternity, she pulled back slightly and looked up at him. She attempted to slow her breathing so she could say something but never got the chance.
Draken bent and kissed her softly on the lips tenderly pulling her closer to the warmth of his body. She didn’t fight relenting to his gentle assault. After several minutes, Draken was the one to pull away his look changing from desire to anger. “You’ve made me question my hate even though you are the lover of my enemy, and now you’ve cost me my only brother. You’ve become more trouble than your worth. I think it’s time you leave.” Pushing her away, he strode from the room without another word.
What in the hell is wrong with me?
Draken stormed into his office and slammed the door behind him. He was still shaking with rage. He should have known better than to invited Nikolai home with Lucia on the estate. He knew his brother well and he cursed himself for having left Lucia alone for even a moment while Nikolai had been home. His jaw ached from clenching his teeth so tightly together. He drew in a sharp breath and expelled it just as quickly, spearing a hand into his dark hair.
His brother had been deplorable at dinner…downright embarrassing. Worse, his interest in Lucia had Draken burning with a jealous rage all through dinner. When he’d found Nikolai actually assaulting Lucia, he’d lost all control.
How dare he touch what’s mine!
The thought was sobering. Lucia wasn’t his, yet he’d reacted as if she had been.
She was playing with his head and it was having dire consequences on his heart. He wanted her and he knew he shouldn’t.
She belongs to Warren.
Funny though, she didn’t seem the type to tolerate the absurdity and self-conceit that was Warren Reed.
It had been weeks and Warren hadn’t come for Lucia; worse, he hadn’t sent anyone else for her either. His plan of using her to get information from Warren obviously wasn’t going to work. Now, she was just confusing matters and putting him off balance.
Guilt tore through him when he remembered how he’d nearly crushed Nikolai’s wind pipe. He’d sent him away and threatened him not to return. Draken’s head fell back as he frowned at the ceiling. For someone who didn’t enjoy being alone, he sure knew how to end up that way often. He let his head fall forward.
She’s gotta go.
Early the next morning, Lucia sat on the bed in her room. She had bathed the night before to rinse the stench of Nikolai’s whiskey breath from her skin, but that didn’t deter her from indulging in a warm morning shower.
Wearing a bathrobe and brushing her wet hair while staring aimlessly into the distance, she barely heard the knock that rapped lightly on her door. The door opened before Lucia could say anything. Her stomach ached with eager anticipation to see Draken. She wanted to discuss the kiss they’d shared.
Patrick entered the room in his typical somber style. Clearing his throat as he usually did before he turned toward Lucia, “Mr. Shatan has arranged for your return home this afternoon. The car will be round to pick you up at 11:30. Mr. Shatan welcomes you to take the clothing and personal articles that were purchased for you during your stay with us. I’ll leave you now to dress and I shall send the maids to assist you with your packing and to serve a light breakfast.”
Lucia didn’t move from her original position on the bed, disappointment settling like a stone in her belly. She wondered how and when she had changed her mind about wanting to go home. Leaving now with so many questions left unanswered was something she wasn’t prepared to do. Her fingers came up to her mouth and traced her lips as she remembered Draken’s kiss.
Three and a half hours later she was escorted into the back seat of a sleek black sedan. She had no luggage as she opted to take none of the items that Draken had purchased for her during her stay.
She settled into the back seat and Patrick bid her a stoic farewell then closed the door. As the sedan pulled away, Lucia was oblivious to Draken standing behind the curtains in her room watching her depart.
Sitting on her plain blue sofa with a glass of iced tea in her hands, she gave Warren a disgusted look. “Warren, what I’m saying is that if you cared so much about me you would have come for me. You claim not to know where Draken lives, but he’s your rival and I know for a fact that you have Kennedy keep track of your opponent’s whereabouts.”
Exasperated, Warren continued his nonsensical line of logic, “So maybe I do know the whereabouts of his estate, but it was probably safer for you that I didn’t try to rescue you. He would have probably killed us both. The important thing is that you made him believe we were more than friends. You did, didn’t you?”
Lucia’s look turned from one of annoyance to one of hurt.
Seeing the change in her expression Warren continued, “Lucia,” he pleaded as he sat down next to her and grabbed her hand, “You’re right I should have come”. He backtracked, “I’m sorry I didn’t, I’m sorry about the accident, I’m sorry about a lot of things, but you know you are like a sister to me and I love you.”
During her stay at Shatan Manor, Draken had planted seeds of doubt in regards to Warren’s character, now Lucia was beginning to see Warren’s true nature for herself. “Why is it so important that Draken believe we’re lovers? You said he’d probably kill us both, but I was there for weeks and I honestly don’t believe he’s that type of person. None of this makes any sense.”
Now it was Warren’s turn to look hurt, “Did you fall in love with him?” Warren stood and walked to the window.
Grateful for his turned back, Lucia was relieved the flush that crept to her cheeks quickly disappeared, “Of course I didn’t. I was held against my will. He treated me well in regards to assisting with my wounds from the accident, but I was literally locked in my room and they refused to let me leave.”
Turning from the window, Warren gave her a doubtful look, “Why did he let you go? What happened to change his mind?”
Not wanting to go into the details of the night prior to her arrival back home, Lucia changed the subject, “What happened? The wreck I mean…why…how did it happen? I’ve been going over it and over it in my head and it doesn’t make sense. Kennedy hit her brakes on purpose. Directly in front of me she intentionally stopped. It was like she wanted me to wreck.”
Immediately Warren looked down at his watch as he made for the door, “We’ll discuss this some other time; I’ve got a business meeting.”
Lucia stood to protest, “Warren! Wait, I need answ…” Her words were cut off as Warren closed the door behind him.
The next few days were a blur of activity for Lucia. She spent days getting her affairs in order and tending to all that had been ignored during her several weeks at Shatan Manor. She paid a visit to her landlord to discuss her missed rent payments, but was relieved to discover that Draken had paid three months rent and made arrangements to have her landlady check on her apartment weekly.
“That nice gentleman informed us of your accident dear,” her landlady confessed. “We’re glad you’re okay. If you need anything just let us know.”
Lucia also visited The Firm, a pub where she tended bar for extra cash when she wasn’t racing. They too were informed of her accident and weren’t holding her accountable for missing any shifts.
Returning to her apartment she opted to call Warren straight away. She still wanted answers about the wreck and Warren’s need for Draken to believe that she and Warren shared an intimate relationship.