Authors: Avery Gale
Slowly Jenna raised her tear-stained face to his, her expression so filled with pain and sadness that just for a second he was speechless.
Holy Jesus, what did that bastard do to you? And why are you still afraid of him?
Suddenly he knew her brothers hadn’t told her that Scott had not made it out of their last mission alive. Likely they would have believed she would have made friends with and become attached to him while he’d stayed in their family’s home, so they’d probably hoped she wouldn’t ask and she could be spared the pain of knowing they’d lost a teammate and she’d lost a friend. Families of team members were often profoundly affected by the loss of any team member, because they knew it so easily could have been their loved one. Before he could take this burden from her, she was going to have to confirm that Scott was involved. Colt would bet his prized flogger that he’d just figured out a large part of the puzzle that was Jenna Lamont, but he’d have to proceed carefully in order to not cause her any further harm. When Jenna’s teary emerald eyes met his, he gave her a small, encouraging smile and then, leaning forward, whispered softly against her lips, “Good girl.”
* * * *
Those two words worked wonders to calm Jenna. She knew she was going to be up against the wall and that she wasn’t going to be able to avoid explaining her meltdown. She could only hope she could convince Colt to not tell her brothers. Even though they weren’t still actually Special Forces team members, she knew it was likely they still worked with the teams when doing their “contract work,” as she had heard them refer to it, and that would give Ted Scott the access he’d need to destroy her family. Personally, she was hoping they would give up that life entirely now that they were married and soon-to-be fathers.
“Now, pet, I want you to explain to me what just happened here. I think I have a fairly good idea, but I need to hear it from you.” Colt’s voice was compassionate, but she knew it was still an order, not just a suggested topic of conversation.
* * * *
Colt watched Jenna gather herself up as if readying for battle. He could almost hear the wheels turning in her head as she rolled the satin edging of the blanket back and forth as if finding comfort in caressing its slick texture between her small fingers. Colt watched and waited, letting her get herself together. He smiled, thinking he could almost see her pulling her courage up into a protective cloak. After several long minutes, she finally spoke.
“Do you remember when Ted Scott came to recuperate at ShadowDance?” Colt stiffened and Jenna looked up in alarm.
“Sorry, pet, I didn’t mean to scare you. Yes, I remember when that happened. I’m afraid I wasn’t exactly his biggest fan, so I tend to react at the mention of his name. Please continue.” Colt hoped he’d been able to explain away his reaction and that she would continue to tell him a story he was dreading with every fiber of his being.
“Um, yeah, well, that makes two of us…about the not liking him thing. Anyway, when he first arrived, I was really kind of, well, I had a crush on him, I guess you’d say. Well, I, oh God, I really don’t want to go into all the details, okay? But…” Colt watched as Jenna stopped to take several deep breaths before she was able to continue. “One night my mom and dad were going to be gone overnight. They didn’t worry about leaving me alone with Ted because Selita was always at the house. But then Selita was called to town to help a sick friend, and well, he overheard me assuring her that I’d be fine and not to worry. I really didn’t feel threatened by him, we’d sat and watched movies late into the night several times and he had never done any more that kiss me. Construction had started on The Club, and Ted had made some comments about its intended use. I had just blown off answering because I was too embarrassed to talk to him about that stuff, you know? I was so young, and even though now, when I look back, I realize he wasn’t really that much older than I was, he seemed a lot older…and a lot stronger, too.” Jenna had dropped her gaze with that last comment. Truthfully, Colt was grateful because he knew at the mention of Scott being stronger than she was, pure rage had swept through him like a storm surge, and he was certain she would have easily seen it in his face.
“That night, he tried again to get me to talk to him about The Club. That’s when I figured out he must not be that close to my brothers, or he’d already know the answers to the questions he kept asking me. So I was making excuses about why I needed to get back to my room, you know, homework and getting things ready for homecoming, etcetera. I wanted back into my room because I knew the door locked. Now that I think back on how violent he became, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have kept him out, but at the time it seemed like my only hope. I was too afraid to call Kat because I knew she would be frustrated with me for being alone with him, because she had taken an instant dislike to him when he’d first arrived.”
After taking a few deep breaths, Jenna continued, “Anyway, I know it seems like I’m stalling, but I just wanted you to know why I didn’t do anything at the time…Anyway long story short…Well, he wanted to have sex with me and when I refused him, he beat me and then raped me. Oh my God, I can’t believe I have actually finally told someone this.” Colt watched her start to hyperventilate, and for just a few seconds he was so stunned by her admission that she had never told another living soul about this that he didn’t move to get her back in hand.
Finally he snapped back to his sense of the moment and began shaking her shoulders until she looked up at him. “Jenna, breathe with me, princess. Nice and slow…in…out…again…in…now, out.” Colt kept her breathing in time with him until he felt the muscles in her arms relax in his hold. “Okay, can you tell me the rest? You have been so very brave, pet. I’m very proud of you.” Colt had never been more sincere in his entire life. He couldn’t imagine the strength it had taken for a young woman to weather that emotional storm alone.
Nodding her head, she spoke quietly, but her words were almost detached, like she was telling this part of the story about someone else, a behavior Colt recognized as a PTSD symptom. Jenna may have believed she’d overcome this violation, but it was clear to Colt she had not. The fact that she was easily sent reeling headlong into the emotional quagmire that victims often struggled to pull themselves out of for years was all the evidence he needed to know she had not even really begun to process this trauma. “After he’d finished with me, he spit in my face and told me that if I ever told anyone what had happened, he would tell everyone I’d come on to him and that he…Oh, God, please, swear to me you will never tell anyone, because he said he’d make sure neither of my brothers made it back alive from their next mission. And I know they aren’t really on the teams anymore, but I know they probably work with those men, and I’d never forgive myself if they got hurt or worse because of me. I mean it, Colt, I just couldn’t stand to live another minute if that happened. Promise me, please, I’m begging you, promise me.”
Jenna was lost in racking sobs again. Colt pulled her to his chest and tried to calm her down, but he was sure she wasn’t even hearing him. He knew if he didn’t pull her back from the emotional ledge, she was ready to fall over, she’d likely need to be hospitalized in order to get the meds it would take to settle her. And he knew that was the last thing she’d want. Standing up and keeping her in his arms, he quickly descended the stairs and walked straight out into the cold river until the water was up to his knees, then he sat down, which put them both chest deep in the frigid water. When Jenna started gasping and struggling to get out of his hold, he just tightened his arms around her. “Jenna, stop moving. I need you to calm down, I want to help you, but you have to be willing to listen. Believe me, I’m anxious to get out of this fucking freezing water, too, but this was the only way I knew to shock you out of that pain-filled memory. Now, look at me, I need to know you are back with me. That’s it, look right at me. Are you going to be able to listen and
what I’m going to tell you?” At her nod, he said, “Ted Scott is dead, he can’t hurt you anymore, and he can’t hurt your brothers either, do you understand? I wish to hell your brothers had told you this when it happened. The bastard died several years ago, and I promise you if he weren’t already dead, I’d kill him now with my bare hands. But he is already gone, sweetness. He can’t hurt you ever again.”
Colt watched Jenna’s eyes go wide then watched as emotion swamped her again, but these were cries of relief, so he slowly got to his feet and made his way back up the stairs. He wrapped them both in the blanket he’d discarded earlier and made his way down the hallway. They were both going to warm up with a nice warm shower, and then after he was sure Jenna was safely tucked in and sleeping in his bed, he had a phone call to make.
Standing under the warm water, Jenna looked around and marveled at the way they’d used the natural rock walls whenever possible throughout the cabin, even in the shower. Multiple showerheads that looked like waterfalls and garden sprays massaged her tired muscles from every direction. The whole backside of the shower had a built-in bench, and the glass front gave a clear view of the rest of the enormous bathroom, which also held a hot tub big enough for five large people. The whole room had the feel of tropical paradise hidden away in some canyon in Central America, complete with beautiful palms and hanging baskets of trailing vines. Considering where Colt, Mitch, and Bryant had likely spent time, that might not have been too far off base.
Jenna was just reaching for the shampoo when Colt finished stripping out of his wet T-shirt and jeans and joined her. “Here, let me,” he said, taking the shampoo from her hands. “Another important element in successful Dominant/submissive relationships is that the Dom is not just obligated to care for his submissive partner, but he is honored and privileged to do so. And I want to be clear on this point, Jenna, because I know that you have are a bright, savvy businesswoman, and it’s important that you know being submissive does not take anything away from that part of you. As a matter of fact, you will likely find that learning to let go of control in one facet of your life will likely make you more effective in other areas of your life.” At her confused expression he continued. “I know it doesn’t make sense to you now. But if you will truly submit, honestly let go, during these next few days you’ll come to understand what I’m telling you.” And then, chuckling, he added, “I don’t for a minute think you are going to easily let go, your mind is going to fight it all the way, because you have had to maintain control in so many ways for so very long. But, my beautiful pet, if you will just try it, you’ll find a freedom you have never imagined possible. There will be a real feeling of liberation when you don’t have to make decisions, you don’t have to monitor how you should or shouldn’t react to something, all you have to do is let go and trust…knowing your Master will take care of you and provide for your every need.”
Jenna was listening, but if she was honest, she wasn’t really absorbing the words. She was drained, both physically and emotionally. She felt as if someone had just leached every bit of energy right out of her. She was hearing Colt’s words as if they were being spoken from a great distance and didn’t really pertain to her. His hands working the shampoo through the long strands of her hair and massaging her scalp felt so incredibly good, she was having trouble focusing on anything but how wonderful his touch felt. She suddenly realized he’d stopped talking and was just watching her. She was sure her dazed expression had given away the fact she hadn’t exactly been completely cognizant of everything he’d said, and when he smiled and just pulled her into his arms, she went willingly.
* * * *
Colt knew he was giving Jenna information she wasn’t going to be able to fully grasp, but he hadn’t realized just how “not with him” she was until he’d stepped in front of her and seen that she was practically catatonic. God, if he could just get her to let go like that during a scene, she would be floating in the upper atmosphere of subspace in no time at all. He quickly finished washing them both and then gently dried her. He helped her get a comb through her long, silky black hair and then left her in the bathroom for a couple of minutes of private time while he pulled the sheets back on the bed. When she opened the door he moved to take her hand and lead her to the bed, settling her in before lying down beside her. She completely blindsided him when she pulled him close and whispered, “Please make love to me and chase away the awful memories? I haven’t been with a man since that night.”
It took Colt a few seconds to get his emotions under control enough to respond. “Are you sure, princess? You’ve had a very difficult evening, and I want you to be very sure this is what you want. Believe me, there is nothing I’d like more that to sink inside your soft body, but I don’t want this to be about hiding. You are too precious to me for me to take a risk you’ll regret this decision in the morning.”
Jenna’s eyes were tear filled, but he was certain they weren’t tears of sadness, but of a genuine need to finally find a connection with someone who wouldn’t just be fucking her, but someone who would be loving her. It was as basic as the difference between having something taken from you as opposed to giving it freely. “I need you, I need you to show me how it can be, how it should have been the first time. Please help me sweep those dark shadows out of my mind.” Colt was sure that Jenna was scared she would appear needy and weak, and he knew neither of those traits had ever been who she really was. But he was also sure that her need to feel the warmth of a man holding her and the connection that would bring was genuine.