Authors: Anna Zaires
The belt descends on my ass, over and over again, each strike like fire licking at my thighs and buttocks. I can hear my own cries, feel my body tensing with each blow, and then the pain propels me into that strange state where everything is turned upside down—where pain and pleasure collide, become indistinguishable from one another, and my tormentor is my only solace. My body softens, melts, each stroke of the belt starting to feel more like a caress, and I know that I somehow need this right now—that Julian has tapped into that dark, secret part of myself that is a mirror image of his own twisted desires. It’s a part of me that longs to give up control, to lose myself completely and just be
By the time Julian stops and turns me over, there isn’t an ounce of defiance left in my body. My head is swimming from an endorphin rush more powerful than anything I have ever experienced, and I’m clinging to him, desperate for comfort, for sex, for anything resembling love and affection. My arms twine around Julian’s neck, pulling him down on the table with me, and I revel in the taste of him, in the deep, hungry kisses with which he consumes my mouth. My backside feels like it’s on fire, but it doesn’t diminish my lust one bit; if anything, it intensifies it. Julian has trained me well. My body is conditioned to crave the pleasure that I know comes next.
He fumbles with his jeans, opening the zipper, and then he’s inside me, entering me with one powerful thrust. I shudder with relief, with ecstasy that borders on agony, and wrap my legs around his waist, taking him deeper, needing him to fuck me, to claim me in the most primitive way possible.
“Tell me, baby,” he whispers in my ear, his lips brushing against my temple. His right hand slides into my hair, holding me immobile. “Tell me how much you hate me.” His other hand finds the place where we’re joined, rubs there, then moves down a couple of inches to my other opening. “Tell me . . .”
I gasp as his finger pushes into my anus, my senses overwhelmed by all the conflicting sensations. Dazed, I open my eyes and stare at Julian, seeing my own dark need reflected on his face. He wants to possess me, to break me so he could put me back together, and I can no longer fight him on this.
“I don’t hate you.” My words come out low and raspy, and I swallow to moisten my dry throat. “I don’t hate you, Julian.”
Something like triumph flashes on his face. His hips thrust forward, his shaft burrowing deeper inside me, and I suppress a moan, still holding his gaze.
“Tell me,” he orders again, his voice deepening. His eyes are burning into mine, and I can no longer resist the demand I see there. He wants all of me, and I have no choice but to give it to him.
“I love you.” My voice is barely audible, each word feeling like it’s being wrenched out of my very soul. “I don’t hate you, Julian . . . I can’t . . . I can’t because I love you.”
I can see his pupils dilating, turning his eyes darker. His cock swells within me, even thicker and harder than before, and then he pulls out and slams back inside, making me gasp from the savagery of his possession.
“Tell me again,” he groans, and I repeat what I said, the words coming easier the second time around. There’s no point in hiding from the truth anymore, no reason to lie. I have fallen head over heels for my sadistic captor, and nothing in the world can change that fact.
“I love you,” I whisper, my hand moving up to cradle his cheek. “I love you, Julian.”
His eyes darken further, and then he bends his head, taking my mouth in a deep, all-consuming kiss.
Now I am truly his, and he knows it.
The next three months fly by.
After that day—after what I think of as the Birthday Incident—my relationship with Julian undergoes a noticeable change, becoming more . . .
, for lack of a better word.
It’s a fucked-up romance, I know that. I may be addicted to Julian, but I’m not so far gone that I don’t realize how unhealthy this is. I am in love with the man who kidnapped me, the man who is still holding me prisoner.
The man who seems to need my love as much as he needs my body.
I don’t know if he loves me back. I don’t even know if he’s capable of that emotion. How can you love someone whose freedom you stole without a second thought? And yet I can’t help feeling that he must care for me, that his obsession with me is not only sexual in nature. It’s there in the way I catch him looking at me sometimes, in the way he tries to anticipate my every need.
He constantly brings me my favorite foods, my favorite books and music. If I so much as mention needing a hand lotion, he buys it for me on his next trip. I am about as pampered as a girl can be. He even takes pride in my accomplishments, praising my artwork and going so far as to take several paintings with him off the island to hang in his office in Hong Kong.
He also misses me when we’re not together. I know because he tells me so—and because every time he returns, he falls on me like a starving man just getting out of prison. That, more than anything, gives me hope that his feelings for me go beyond that of owner for his possession.
“Do you see other women? Out there, in the real world?” I ask him at breakfast after one night when he takes me three times in a row. The question had been eating at me for months, and I simply can’t contain myself any longer. My captor is more than gorgeous; he’s got that dangerous, magnetic appeal that probably draws women to him by the dozen. I can easily imagine him sleeping with a different beauty every night—a thought that makes me want to stab something. Even with his sadistic proclivities, I know he would have no trouble finding bed partners; there are probably plenty of women who, like me, derive pleasure from erotic pain.
He smiles at me with dark amusement, not the least bit put off by my obvious display of jealousy. “No, my pet,” he says softly. Reaching over, he takes my hand, stroking the inside of my wrist with his thumb. “Why would I want to fuck someone else when I have you? I haven’t been with another woman since the day we met.”
“You haven’t?” I can’t conceal my shock. Julian had been faithful to me this whole time?
He looks at me, his lips curved in a sinfully delicious smile. “No, baby, I have not,” he says—and in that moment, I feel like the happiest woman in the world.
I love it when he calls me ‘baby.’ It’s a common endearment, I know, but somehow when Julian says it, it sounds different—like he’s caressing me with that word. I much prefer ‘baby’ to being called ‘my pet.’
Ultimately, though, I know that’s what I am to him—his pet, his possession. He likes the idea that I belong to him, that he’s the only man who gets to touch me, to see me. He likes dressing me in the clothes that he provides for me, feeding me the food that he brings. I am completely dependent on him, utterly at his mercy, and I think something about that appeals to him, appeasing the demons I frequently sense lurking beneath the surface.
Truthfully, I don’t mind being possessed. It’s a disturbing realization, but some part of me seems to like this kind of dynamic. I feel safe and cared for, even though logic tells me I’m far from safe with a man who deals in weapons for a living—a man who admitted to killing without any regret. The hands that touch me at night are those that brought death to others, but there is a certain piquancy in that. It makes everything more intense somehow, helps me feel more alive.
Besides, despite his need to hurt me, Julian has never truly harmed me—not physically, at least. When he’s in one of his sadistic moods, I end up with marks and bruises on my skin, but those fade quickly. He’s careful never to scar my body, even though I know that blood and tears—my tears—excite him, turn him on.
When I share some of my feelings with Beth, she doesn’t seem surprised in the least.
“I knew the two of you were made for each other from the first moment I saw you together,” she says, giving me a wry look. “When you and Julian are in the same room, the air practically sizzles. I’ve never seen such chemistry between two people before. What you have together is rare and special. Don’t fight it, Nora. He’s your destiny—and you are his.”
She seems completely convinced of that.
* * *
On the night my life irrevocably changes, everything starts out as normal.
Julian is on the island, and we share a delicious meal together before he brings me upstairs for a lengthy lovemaking session. It’s one of those times when he’s gentle, worshipping me with his body like I’m a goddess, and I fall asleep relaxed and satisfied, held tightly in his embrace.
When I wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, I become aware of a dull pain near my navel. Relieving myself, I wash my hands and crawl back into bed, stretching out next to Julian’s sleeping form. I feel slightly nauseous too, and I wonder if I’m having indigestion. Could I have gotten food poisoning somehow?
I try to fall asleep, but the pain seems to get worse with every minute that passes. It migrates down into my lower right abdomen, becoming sharp and agonizing. I don’t want to wake up Julian, but I can’t bear it anymore. I need a painkiller of some kind, any kind.
“Julian,” I whisper, reaching for him. “Julian, I think I’m sick.”
He wakes up immediately and sits up in bed, turning on the bedside lamp. There’s no trace of confusion on his face; he’s as alert as if it’s the middle of the day instead of three o’clock in the morning. “What’s wrong?”
I curl into a little ball as the pain intensifies. “I don’t know,” I manage to say. “My stomach hurts.”
His eyebrows snap together. “Where does it hurt, baby?” he says softly, pushing me onto my back.
“My . . . my side,” I gasp, tears of pain starting to roll down my face.
“Here?” he asks, pressing on one side, and I shake my head no.
“Yes!” Somehow he has unerringly found the exact area that’s in agony.
He immediately gets up and starts getting dressed. “Beth!” he yells. “Beth, I need you here right now!”
She runs into the room thirty seconds later, pulling on a bathrobe over her pajamas. “What happened?”
She sounds scared, and I am terrified too. I’ve never seen Julian like this before. He seems almost . . . frightened.
“Get ready,” he says tersely. “I’m taking her to the clinic, and you’re coming with us. It might be her appendix.”
Appendicitis! Now that he said it, I realize it’s the most probable explanation, but it’s beyond scary. I’m no doctor, but I know that if my appendix bursts before they cut it out, I’m pretty much toast. It would be frightening even if I were an hour away from medical attention, but I’m on a private island in the middle of the Pacific. What if I don’t make it to the hospital in time?
Julian must be thinking the same thing because the expression on his face is grim as he wraps me in a robe and picks me up, carrying me out of the room.
“I can walk,” I protest weakly, my stomach roiling as Julian swiftly walks down the stairs.
“Like hell you can.” His tone is unnecessarily harsh, but I don’t take offense. I know he’s worried about me right now, and even with my insides in agony, I feel warmed by the thought.
By the time we reach the hangar, Beth has opened the gates for us and is already waiting in the back of the airplane. Julian straps me into the passenger seat, and I realize that my greatest wish is about to be granted.
I’m getting off the island.
My stomach lurches, and I grab for the brown paper bag that’s lying conveniently in front of me. Sudden hot nausea boils up in my throat, and I vomit into the bag, my entire body sweating and shaking.
I can hear Julian swearing as the plane begins to take off, and I’m so embarrassed I just want to die. “I’m sorry,” I whisper, my eyes burning. I have never been so miserable in my entire life.
“It’s all right,” Julian says curtly. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Here.” Beth hands me a wet wipe from the back. “This should make you feel a little better.”
But it doesn’t. Instead, as the plane climbs higher, I get nauseous again. Moaning, I clutch at my stomach, the pain in my right side intensifying.
“Fuck,” Julian mutters. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” His knuckles are white where he’s clutching the controls.
I vomit again.
“How long until we get there?” Beth’s voice is unusually high-pitched.
“Two hours,” Julian says grimly. “If the wind cooperates.”
Those two hours turn out to be the longest ones of my life. By the time the plane begins its descent, I have thrown up five times and am long past the point of embarrassment. The pain in my stomach has long since morphed into agony, and I’m not cognizant of anything but my own bone-deep misery.
Strong hands reach for me, pulling me out of the airplane, and I am vaguely aware that Julian is carrying me somewhere, holding me cradled against his broad chest. There is a babble of voices speaking in a mixture of English and some foreign language, and then I’m placed on a gurney and wheeled through a long hallway into a white, sterile-looking room.
Several people in white coats bustle around me, one man barking out orders in that same strangely mixed language, and I feel a sharp prick in my arm as an IV needle is attached to my wrist. Dazed, I look up to see Julian standing in the corner, his face oddly pale and his eyes glittering . . . and then the darkness swallows me whole again.