Authors: Anna Zaires
No, the window is not the problem.
It’s the view outside.
I can see palm trees and a white sandy beach. Beyond it, there is a large body of water, blue and shimmering in the bright sun.
It’s beautiful and tropical.
And about as different as possible from my little town in the Midwest.
* * *
I’m cold again. So cold that I’m shivering. I know it’s from stress because the temperature must be somewhere in the eighties.
I’m pacing up and down the room, occasionally pausing to look out the window.
Every time I look, it’s like a punch to the stomach.
I don’t know what I’d been hoping. I honestly hadn’t had a chance to think about my location. I’d just sort of assumed that he would keep me somewhere in the area, maybe near Chicago where we’d first met. I’d thought that all I had to do in order to escape is find a way out of this house.
Now I realize it’s far more complicated than that.
I try the door again. It’s locked.
A few minutes ago, I had discovered a small bathroom attached to this room. I used it to take care of my basic needs and to brush my teeth. It had been a nice distraction.
Now I’m pacing like a caged animal, growing more terrified and angry with every minute that passes.
Finally, the door opens, and a woman comes inside.
I’m so shocked that I simply stare. She’s fairly young—maybe in her early thirties—and pretty.
She’s holding a tray of food and smiling at me. Her hair is red and curly, and her eyes are a soft brown color. She’s bigger than me, probably at least five inches taller, with an athletic build. She’s dressed very casually, in a pair of jean shorts and a white tank top, with flip-flops on her feet.
I think about attacking her. She’s a woman, and I have a small chance of winning against her in a fight. I have no chance against Julian.
Her smile widens, as though she’s reading my mind. “Please don’t jump me,” she says, and I can hear the amusement in her voice. “It’s quite pointless, I promise. I know you want to escape, but there is really nowhere to go. We’re on a private island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.”
The sinking feeling in my stomach worsens. “Whose private island?” I ask, though I already know the answer.
“Why, Julian’s, of course.”
“Who is he? Who are you people?” My voice is relatively steady as I speak to her. She doesn’t make me nervous the way Julian does.
She puts down the tray. “You’ll learn everything in due time. I’m here to take care of you and the property. My name is Beth, by the way.”
I take a deep breath. “Why am I here, Beth?”
“You’re here because Julian wants you.”
“And you don’t see anything wrong with that?” I can hear the hysterical edge in my tone. I don’t understand how this woman is going along with that madman, how she’s acting like this is normal.
She shrugs. “Julian does whatever he wants. It’s not for me to judge.”
“Because I owe him my life,” she says seriously and walks out of the room.
* * *
I eat the food Beth brought me. It’s pretty good actually, even though it’s not traditional breakfast food. There is grilled fish in some kind of mushroom sauce and roasted potatoes with a side of green salad. For dessert, there’s some cut-up mango. Local fruit, I’m guessing.
Despite my inner turmoil, I manage to eat everything. If I were less of a coward, I would resist by refusing to eat his food—but I fear hunger as much as I fear pain.
So far he hasn’t really hurt me. Well, it did hurt when he put his cock inside me, but he hadn’t been purposefully rough. I suspect it would’ve hurt the first time regardless of the circumstances.
The first time. It suddenly dawns on me that it had been my first time. Now I’m no longer a virgin.
Strangely, I don’t feel like I lost anything. The thin membrane inside me had never held any particular meaning for me. I never intended to wait until marriage or anything else like that. I regret that my first time was with a monster, but I don’t mourn the loss of the ‘virgin’ designation. I would’ve gladly gone all the way with Jake, if I’d only had a chance.
My stomach lurches. I can’t believe I haven’t thought about him since Julian told me he was safe. The guy I’ve been crazy about for months had been the furthest thing from my mind when I was in the arms of my captor.
Hot shame burns inside me. Shouldn’t I have been thinking of Jake last night? Shouldn’t I have been picturing his face when Julian touched me so intimately? If I truly wanted Jake, shouldn’t he have been the one on my mind during my forced sexual encounter?
I’m suddenly filled with bitter hatred for the man who did this to me—the man who shattered my illusions about the world, about myself. I’d never thought much about what I would do if I got kidnapped, how I would react. Who thinks about stuff like that? But I guess I’d always assumed I would be brave, fighting to my last breath. Isn’t that what they do in all the books and movies? Fight, even when it’s useless, even when doing so means getting hurt? Shouldn’t I have done that too? Yes, he’s stronger than me, but I didn’t have to give in so easily. He didn’t tie me up; he didn’t threaten me with a knife or a gun. All he’d done was chase me down when I tried to run.
That run had been the grand total of my resistance thus far.
I don’t recognize this person who had given in so easily. And yet I know she’s me. A part of me that had never come to light before. A part of me that I would’ve never known if Julian hadn’t taken me.
Thinking about this is so upsetting that I focus on my captor instead. Who is he? How can someone afford to have an entire private island? How does Beth owe him her life? And, most importantly, what does he intend to do with me?
A million different scenarios run through my mind, each one more horrifying than the next. I know there’s such a thing as human trafficking. It happens all the time, especially to women from poorer countries. Is that the fate that awaits me? Am I going to end up in a brothel somewhere, drugged out of my mind and used daily by dozens of men? Is Julian simply sampling the merchandise before he delivers it to its final destination?
Before panic can take over my mind, I inhale deeply and try to think logically. While the human trafficking is a possibility, it doesn’t seem likely to me. For one thing, Julian appears to be very possessive of me—far too possessive for someone just testing out the merchandise. And besides, why bring me here, to his private island, if he’s just planning to sell me?
, he had called me. Is that just a meaningless endearment, or is that how he sees me? Does he have some fetish that involves keeping women captive? I think about it for a while, and decide that he probably does. Why else would a wealthy, good-looking man do this? Surely he has no problem getting dates the usual way. In fact, I might’ve gone out with him myself if I hadn’t gotten that strange vibe from him in the club.
If he hadn’t touched me like he owned me.
Is that his thing? Ownership? Does he want a sex slave? If so, why did he choose me? Was it because of my reaction to him at the club? Did he guess that I would be a coward, that I would let him do whatever he wanted to me? Did I somehow bring this upon myself?
The thought is so sickening that I push it away and get up, determined to explore my prison further.
The door is still locked, which doesn’t surprise me. I’m able to open the window, and warm, ocean-scented air fills the room.
I can’t open the screen on the window, though. I would need to do that in order to climb out. I don’t try too hard. If Beth is to be believed, escaping from this room wouldn’t help me at all.
I look for something that could be used as a weapon. There’s no knife, but there’s a fork left over from my meal. Beth would probably notice if I hide it. Still, I take a chance and do it, concealing the utensil behind a stack of books on a tall bookshelf that lines one of the walls.
Next I explore the bathroom, hoping to find a bottle of hairspray or something else along those lines. But there’s only soap, toothbrush, and toothpaste. In the shower stall, I find body wash, shampoo, and conditioner—all nice, expensive brands. My captor is clearly not stingy.
Then again, anyone who owns a private island can probably afford a fifty-dollar shampoo. He might even be able to afford a thousand-dollar shampoo, if such a thing exists.
The fact that I’m thinking about shampoo amazes me. Shouldn’t I be screaming and crying?
Oh, wait, I did that yesterday.
I guess there’s only so much crying a person can do. I seem to be all out of tears, at least for now.
After exploring every nook and cranny of the room, I get bored, so I take one of the books from the bookshelf. A Sidney Sheldon novel, something about a woman betrayed who seeks revenge on her enemies.
It’s engrossing enough that I’m able to mentally escape my prison for the next couple of hours.
* * *
Beth comes and brings me lunch. She also brings me some clothes, folded in a stack.
I’m glad. I’ve been wearing the bathrobe all morning, and I would like to dress normally.
When she puts the clothes on the dresser, I again think about tackling her and trying to escape. Maybe using the fork I’ve got stashed away.
“Nora, give me the fork,” she says.
I jump a little and give her a startled look. Could she actually be a mind-reader?
And then I realize that she’s simply looking at the empty tray and noticing that the utensil is missing.
I decide to play dumb. “What fork?”
She lets out a sigh. “You know what fork. The one you hid behind the books. Give it to me.”
Another one of my assumptions proven wrong. I don’t know why I’d thought I had any privacy.
I look up at the ceiling, studying it carefully, but I can’t see where the cameras are.
“Nora . . .” Beth prompts.
I retrieve the fork and throw it at her. I think I’m secretly hoping it spears her in the eye.
But Beth catches it and shakes her head at me, as though disappointed in my behavior. “I was hoping you wouldn’t act this way,” she says.
“Act what way? Like a victim of kidnapping?” I really, really want to hit her right now.
“Like a spoiled brat,” she clarifies, putting the fork in her pocket. “You think it’s so awful, being here on this beautiful island? You think you’re suffering by being in Julian’s bed?”
I stare at her like she’s a lunatic. Does she honestly expect me to be okay with this situation? To meekly go along with this and never utter a word of protest?
She stares back at me, and for the first time, I notice some lines on her face. “You don’t know the real meaning of suffering, little girl,” she says softly, “and I hope you never find out. Be nice to Julian, and you just might be able to continue living a charmed life.”
She leaves the room, and I swallow to get rid of the sudden dryness in my throat.
For some reason, her words make my hands shake.
It’s evening now. With every minute that passes, I’m starting to get more and more anxious at the thought of seeing my captor again.
The novel that I’ve been reading can no longer hold my interest. I put it down and walk in circles around the room.
I am dressed in the clothes Beth had given me earlier. It’s not what I would’ve chosen to wear, but it’s better than a bathrobe. A sexy pair of white lacy panties and a matching bra for underwear. A pretty blue sundress that buttons in the front. Everything fits me suspiciously well. Has he been stalking me for a while? Learning everything about me, including my clothing size?
The thought makes me sick.
I am trying not to think about what’s to come, but it’s impossible. I don’t know why I’m so sure he’ll come to me tonight. It’s possible he has an entire harem of women stashed away on this island, and he visits each one only once a week, like sultans used to do.
Yet somehow I know he’ll be here soon. Last night had simply whetted his appetite. I know he’s not done with me, not by a long shot.
Finally, the door opens.
He walks in like he owns the place. Which, of course, he does.
I am again struck by his masculine beauty. He could’ve been a model or a movie star, with a face like his. If there was any fairness in the world, he would’ve been short or had some other imperfection to offset that face.
But he doesn’t. His body is tall and muscular, perfectly proportioned. I remember what it feels like to have him inside me, and I feel an unwelcome jolt of arousal.
He’s again wearing jeans and a T-shirt. A grey one this time. He seems to favor simple clothing, and he’s smart to do so. His looks don’t need any enhancement.
He smiles at me. It’s his fallen angel smile—dark and seductive at the same time. “Hello, Nora.”