the proposition 3 the ferro family

THE PROPOSITION

                
Bryan Ferro

Vol. 3

 

 

 

 

 

H.M. Ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.SexyAwesomeBooks.com

 

 

H.M. Ward Press

 

COPYRIGHT

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2013 by H.M. Ward

All rights reserved.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form.

 

H.M. Ward
Press

First Edition:
March 2014

ISBN:
9781630350215

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

COPYRIGHT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

COMING SOON:

MORE FERRO FAMILY BOOKS

MORE ROMANCE BOOKS BY

H.M. WARD

CAN’T WAIT FOR H.M WARD’S NEXT STEAMY BOOK?

CHAPTER 1

 

Holy crap. It’s like a sucker punch straight into the stomach. The air is forced out of my lungs and my jaw drops. Neil lifts the ring higher making the stone sparkle in the light. The ginormous diamond is larger than life and much more than he could possibly afford.

Cecily has her hands over her mouth in giddy excitement.
She looks as if she wants to jump up and down. “Oh this is so exciting! Just think of the wedding!”

Neil is beaming at her before his gaze returns to meet mine. I
haven’t said anything yet and it’s becoming noticeable. Our hands are touching, but it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like this. My stomach twists into knots. I don’t know what I want. He’s a good guy for the most part, but I’ve been through so much so fast that this scares me. I need time to think, but with Cecily there, I can’t say that. What do I say? Finally, I stammer out, “Neil, I—”

Cecily mistakes my lack of words for something else and shoves Neil’s shoulder.
It’s affirmation, a pat on the back. “See! You’ve rendered her speechless! Look at that! My little star ran out of words. Well, don’t just stand there, Neil, put the ring on her finger.” Cecily’s scratchy voice comes with gusto and the huge-ass smile that lines her painted lips is going to crack her plastic face.

Nei
l does as he’s told and I shiver as the cold band slides over my skin. It feels wrong, but I can’t find the words. My mind picks the ring apart. Gently, it prods me:
The metal is the wrong color, the stone is the wrong shape, and this is the wrong guy.
The thought starts to form, but before it solidifies, Cecily blasts it to bits.

“Come along, I ha
ve them all waiting!” She grabs us both, pulling our wrists toward the back of the little house.

Neil tries to explain as he beams at me.
“You’re going to love it. Just wait, Hallie.” Neil is wearing his Saturday date clothes—his favorite outfit with the button down white shirt, complete with French cuff links, and a bland tie. He’s wearing a leather vest over it that’s buttoned and pristine. Not a hair is out of place.

Leaning in, I
try to whisper to Neil, but Cecily keeps talking over me, prattling about something she got for us. I’m thinking it’s a present that she’s pulling us toward, so I keep trying. “Neil, I need to talk to you. Neil?”

But he’s all toothy smiles and laughing with Cecily as we’re shoved out the back door. Then a barrage of flashing lights blinds me. Cecily’s voice booms
behind me into a microphone, “She said yes!”

CHAPTER
2

 

Holy shit! The yard is filled with people. They’re everywhere. I’m blinded by lights and shield my eyes to see a sea of faces I don’t recognize.

Neil tugs me to his side and holds up my hand. I barely have time to take in the reporters and Neil’s friends before he grabs the mic
rophone from Cecily. “This is the happiest day of my life. Here’s to Hallie! I love you, baby.”

Someone shoves a champagne flute in my hand and a band starts to play. The tiny yard is filled with little white lights, music, and food. It’s a party. I blink again and realize what he’s done. This is an engagement party. Neil clicks his glass to mine and takes a sip.

Holy rabid fuckbunnies. Why does he do stuff like this? I’m not ready for marriage. I would have waited, but now I don’t have the choice. If I say something, I’ll humiliate him and look like a bitch. I down the glass of champagne and laugh nervously. Tension lines my neck and shoulders as I plaster a fake smile on my face. I’ll tell him later, I’ll say no when everyone isn’t around. I can fake it until then.

Cecily pulls me away and takes me to meet some industry people, but I’ve mentally left the party. My mind drifts back to Bryan. I wish things were different. I w
ish he was serious about me, but he’s not. Neil’s the one who wants to marry me. Maybe I should keep this ring, after all, if I give it back I’ll be alone. Neil may not be perfect, but he’s good enough, isn’t he?

God, I wish Maggie were here. Where is she anyway? I stop the man who’s been talking a mile a
minute since Cecily walked me over. I waited and waited for him to come up for air and hush for a second so I could excuse myself.

I finally put my hand on his forearm and smile up at his wrinkled, round face. “Thank you so much, and I’d love to discuss this with you more at length, but I need to go see to something.” Cecily looks mortified, but I walk away. More people take my picture as I shoulder my way through the crowd looking for Maggie. She has to be here. Neil wouldn’t throw an engagement party without my best friend, but I don’t see her.

Neil is standing with a group of his co-workers and as I approach, I can hear him saying, “It’s all part of the psyche that lies dormant. Hallie is rational as they come. It was ingenious of her to consider the ramifications of leading such a feral lifestyle in her novel. I think that’s why people are drawn to it, the book has that train wreck morbidity that renders people unable to look away—it’s human nature.”

He’s smiling and all his friends are nodding along with hi
m. What a bunch of pretentious, arrogant, tight-asses. Meanwhile, I’m sure there isn’t one of them that wouldn’t like to take a woman’s ass or fuck her face. They’re just too chicken to do it, or admit it. Neil makes me sound like a monster because my character enjoys such things, because I enjoy those acts of passion.

“Neil?” I sound like a little
dormouse. My voice is barely a squeak. My throat tightens when he turns to look at me.

“Ah, my little creative
genius.” His false flattery hurts my ears, but I continue to smile. Neil pulls me next to him. “I was just telling these men that you’re docile as they come.” He winks at me.

I’m too
embarrassed to look over at them. Even with everything I did with Bryan, I never felt shame, but the way Neil says our sex life is tame makes me squirm. I don’t like him telling them anything. Appraising eyes move over my body and I know they’ve read my book. They’re wondering if I’d do those things and are picturing me on my knees, naked.

“Neil, where is Maggie?”

“What? She’s not back yet?” His tone is off, but he glances around.

My smile falls.
“Neil, where is she?”

He smirks. “Well, I know how rambunctious she can be, so I arranged for her to get here after the press leaves.”

A bad feelings stirs within me. “Where is she?”

“I told her that you left your
purse at her apartment. She went home to grab it.”

 

CHAPTER 3

 

My heart pounds hard once, and then stops. I can’t breathe. I stagger and nearly fall. Neil reaches out for me, grabbing hold of my arm by the elbow. “Hallie, are you all right?”

Suddenly there are people trying to swarm me. They all repeat Neil’s words until it sounds like I’m in an empty hallway and there are nothing but echoing voices. I don’t blink. Before they can smother me, I shoulder my way past them and race through the house
, grabbing my jacket and pulling on my gloves on the way out. It’s not winter, but I want them. Part of me knows what’s coming, the dark part that says this can’t be happening but I’ll do anything I need to do to save her.

Neil hurries behind
, calling my name, but I’m in the little red car and out of sight before he can stop me.

I floor it and head toward Maggie’s
, trying to remember exactly where that hellhole of an apartment is located. I’m so mad at Neil that I can’t stand it. He shoved the ring on my finger without waiting for an answer. He always does stuff like that, but this is unforgivable.

He didn’t know
, a voice reminds me.
You never told him how bad Maggie had it.

At the moment, I don’t care. Maggie is in way over her head and I can’t let her—

The thought cuts off. I don’t want to even consider the rest of the statement. I saw what her boss will do to her if she goes back. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get there. I’m hoping I’ll see her little beat up car racing toward me, but it doesn’t happen.

I’m driving down the street, way too fast, and whip into the parking lot. The cherry red sports car
means I’m either someone to fear or I’m incredibly stupid. I’m both. Maggie is the only family I have left. Neil’s not the same, and he never will be. I’ll be damned if I let some low life drug dealer dump her body in an alley.

I’ve never been in a fight in my life. I have no idea how to throw a punch or what to do, but that doesn’t stop me. Bravery and
stupidity seem to be best friends. I wonder which lot I fall into as I race up the staircase and dart down the hall. If she’s dead, if he hurt her, I’ll kill him. I have no idea how, but he’s a dead man.

By the time I get to her door, I’m huffing. I pat the door with my palm and quietly call her name. “Maggie? Maggie are you there?” No answer. I do it again, and again, but she doesn’t reply.

My throat tightens and I want to cry, but I don’t. Instead, I press my ear to the door and listen. The couple upstairs is quiet tonight. There are no screams, no fighting—no nothing. The soundless halls make my skin prickle. I close my eyes for half a beat when I hear him speak.

“Looking for your friend, pretty girl?”

When I glance up, I’m face to face with Victor Campone.

CHAPTER 4

 

Victor
grins at me in a smug serial-killer way. He hasn’t shaved in days so thick dark stubble lines his cheeks. There’s a scar along one cheek where hair no longer grows. It’s as if someone sliced it open with a pencil and it never healed correctly. The place where skin meets skin is raised and forms a jagged white line that runs over his flesh like a dying river.

I don’t value my life, not anymore. I’ve lost too much and the only person I care about in the world more than myself is on the other side of that door and I’m afraid that I’m not going to like what I see when I go inside. I turn into someone else, someone I don’t know, when I answer him my voice is
fierce and my gaze is cruel. “Where is she?” I growl like a beast ready to rip his throat out.

I think about what I’ll do to him if
Maggie’s hurt, if he did something to her. I don’t fear the repercussions—nothing frightens me at that moment. My heart races faster, but it has nothing to do with this evil man or his cruelty. It’s all me. My hands are by my sides, but I’m already picturing them clutching a rusty nail that protrudes from the wall and slamming it into the side of his face, giving him a matching scar down the other cheek.

Victor smirks. Our eyes have been locked this entire time and I don’t back down or look away. “Listen, you son of a bitch, I’m not leaving without Maggie.”

He appears mildly amused. Victor crosses his meaty arms and leans his shoulder against the wall. “Or you’ll do what?”

Evil thoughts flicker behind my eyes in graphic detail, but I reveal none of them. “You don’t want to find out.” The words come out in a bre
ath.

The man’s gaze slips over me once, reevaluating
, as if he underestimated me entirely. “Look at you. Well, who would have figured you’d be a tough little shit?” He smiles like he’s found a diamond at his feet in this wretched place. He pushes off the wall and reaches into his pocket. I flinch, reaching for mine, like I have a gun or something.

Victor laughs and lifts his
palms toward me. “Settle down. I was just grabbing the keys. You can go in and see for yourself.” Victor repeats the movement, and my eyes don’t stray from his hand. He pulls out a ring with a massive amount of keys attached. They’re packed tightly, with little room between each one. The thing must weigh ten pounds. It’s amazing his pants didn’t fall off.

He steps towards Maggie’s door and unlocks it. “Go on. See for yourself.”

My heart pounds harder. I don’t like this. I don’t like him walking behind me or walking into her place like this. I shove aside all rationality and fear, before slamming the door open. The room is empty, just as we left it. Maggie isn’t lying in a pool of blood on the floor. Her silent screams aren’t trapped in the cracking plaster walls. Then, I spot something different. The rest of the room is exactly as we left it, save one thing—a tiny hole in the window. A spider vein crack travels outward from that hole. Someone shot the window.

I glance down at the floor. There’s no blood. Looking up again, I can see straight across into the apartment across the way, the place where the woman was killed last night. When I turn
, Victor is right behind me. I slam into him, and he grabs my shirt, before hissing in my face. “I know what you saw and the only reason you’re still breathing is that I’ve lost a rather large investment. Last I saw her, she ran off with you, so now, Miss Raymond—”

His words ratt
le me and I can’t help but ask, “How do you know my name?”

CHAPTER
5

 

When he grins, I try to pull out of his grip, but he won’t release me. I yank so hard, my shirt tears. That awards me with another crooked smirk. I stare at him, without seeing him, as my eyes search the room for a weapon. I’m going to need one, but the only thing I see is that big clunker of a key ring next to the door where he set it down. It’s about a foot behind him.


I have my ways.” His voice is cocky and dangerous. He inches closer. “Like it or not, we’re in this shit together and your friend has something I need.”

“She was supposed to bring you a girl.”
I utter what Maggie told me last night.

“Yeah, something like that.” Victor relaxes a little bit, but he’s still trying to turn me into a whimpering, sobbing mess.

I don’t cave in. I won’t. “So where is she?”

“The fuck if I know. The last person I saw her with was you, this morning while I was taking care of one of my
employees who got out of line. I know you saw and the only reason you’re still breathing right now is because Maggie is worth more than you, and I intend on you leading me to her. Bring her back here sexy girl, or you’ll relive every part of your book with every guy on my payroll. You got it?” He’s in my face, snarling.

“I have friends in high places. Be careful who you threaten
, Mr. Campone, or you might find yourself on the wrong side of a bad day.”

He laughs and pulls away, like I’m hysterical. “Ther
e is no one that I can’t take, little girl.”

“You’re wrong. You’re clearly forgetting someone important.”

Victor smirks and leans back against the kitchen counter. The man is stupid enough to look at the floor, as if I’m no threat. I think he’s lying. No, I know he is. Victor knows where Maggie is; he just wants me to leave. The keys are a step away. I pick up the ring and flip through them like I’m examining the shapes. “Yeah, and who’s that sweetheart?”


Me,” I move before he can blink, I slam the brass keys into the side of his head. The shot connects with his temple and his eyes flutter once before he goes down. A stream of blood flows from his head like a red ribbon, curling as it travels down his cheek. His eyes close and I wonder if I killed him, but the guy’s still breathing.

CHAPTER
6

 

I take the keys and run to his place across the hall. I thought I’d have to find the right key and can’t stop shaking long enough to do anything. That’s when the door opens. Maggie peers out from between the jamb. Her green eyes are glistening, like she’s been crying.

I rip the door open and a nail tears off. “Maggie!” I lunge for her, but
she holds up her hands, preventing me from hugging her.

“Leave, Hallie. Get the fuck out of here before he comes back.” Maggie’s eye is puffy with a circle darkening around it. One of her wrists is rubbed raw and the other one is bleeding. She’s wearing a tattered
piece of lingerie that’s damp. Her legs have black and blue bruises all over. The bruises are arranged in small clusters of four, like hands gripping too hard made them.

“Maggie.” I want to cry. He beat the shit out of her.

“Hallie, go, before he comes back.”

I tug on her arm
and she stumbles toward the door. “He’s not coming back for a little while. Come on. We’re gone. Never come back here. Ever.”

Maggie digs in her heels. “I can’t leave. I’m dead if I leave.”

I look her over once. “You’re dead if you stay. What the hell happened?”

“I didn’t bring him a girl.”

“So he used you?” She nods. My lips part as a breath slips out. “Oh, Maggie.” Rage is building inside of me. If I had a gun, I’d go back and shoot his nuts off. I don’t know exactly what she’s doing or what Victor did to her, but I know he beat her and probably raped her. The black and blue marks go all the way up her thighs. Her hair is a mess and her once perfect makeup is smeared across her face like she’s been drowning in tears.

Her voice is stern and cold.
“It was my choice.” Maggie’s face glistens with tears and snot. She meets my gaze almost defiantly. “This is my life, not yours.”

I stop in my tracks
and quit pulling on her. Turning back, I blurt out, “You’ve done this before?”

“Only when I had to. Hallie, this isn’t your pr
oblem.” Maggie’s jaw locks and her once vibrant eyes dart away.

I’m mortified and can’t conceal it.
I stand there and feel every ounce of grief, regret, and rage ripping from my body. It changes me and I can’t stop it. Maggie is the only family I have left. I don’t care about Neil, maybe I never did, but people can’t live alone. Being alone is a step away from being dead—it’s a pace from ending up in a place like this with my face covered in bruises and tears.

There are time
s in life that creep up slowly, like shadows extending across the earth as the sun sinks below the horizon. Other times it’s quick like a breaking twig. My life changes in that moment and I feel it. The walls go up, higher and higher, until there’s no one above them, not even God. I’m alone in my misery, and there is no way I’m letting Maggie go. I’ll do what I have to do and the consequences are of little importance.

I snatch her wrist and tug her after me,
explaining, “Victor’s knocked out in your apartment. We’re leaving and never coming back. You’re not allowed to leave and you work for me now. This shit is over. It’s over, Maggie, and we’re never coming back.”

Maggie is gasping for air and nearly falls to the floor. “I can’t!” She bellows. “Don’t make me! Hallie, he’ll kill me.”

I release her and feel the twisted smirk inch across my lips. I’m not myself, because I’m offering something that I’d never suggest. “Then I’ll take care of it. Go to the car.”

“Hallie!” Maggie lunges for me, trying to grab my arm.

I round on her. “Go!” Her green eyes meet mine and she knows. She sees the pain has fractured me in two. I’m no longer the same and we both know it. “You’ll never see him again.” It’s a promise.

Maggie nods as she stands there, shivering. She wraps her arms around her middle and looks up at me like we’re children again.
We stood in this spot before, but last time we didn’t fight back. “It’ll be all right. It will be.” She utters the words more to herself than me. I smile, and holy fuck it practically breaks my face to do it, but I manage. Before she walks down the hall with her clothes in her arms, I touch her shoulder lightly. Maggie nods once at me, then pads down the stairwell and disappears from sight.

My mind is
etched with darkness. It’s like I’ve fallen into a pit and can’t find my way out. Victor is there, smothering me and if I don’t release him, if I don’t cast him out, he’ll always be there, waiting. Three slow, silent steps back to Maggie’s apartment and I see the man still lying on the floor. He’s rousing, moaning curses and touching the bloody spot on his temple. Will anyone mourn him? Will someone buy him a tombstone and a cemetery plot? I couldn’t afford those things. I couldn’t give them to the best man in the world, so why should Victor Campone have them? He’s death incarnate.

Before I know what’s happened I’m gripping a dull kitchen knife in my fist, slowly approaching
him from behind. Victor sits up and nearly falls to the side. “That fucking bitch.” He grips his skull like it’s pounding.

This isn’t real, is it? My life has come full circle. I’m back at the mercies of the heartless and I refuse to let them rule. I’d rather die, so here I stand
. My hand doesn’t shake, and the girl I had been vanishes. She’s dissolving like an image left in the sun, fading forever until there’s no trace remaining.

Victor senses me standing behind him and turns to look over his shoulder. That’s when I act. The surprise on his face, the flash of the silver blade on the knife, and the river of blood that runs
down his throat like a red river all flash as if they were happening somewhere else. Victor’s eyes widen with shock as his hand lifts to his neck and comes away covered in scarlet.

Those eyes, I’ll remember the way they looked at me with admiration and anger until I die. His lips part to speak, but I don’t care.
I drop the knife. It clatters to the floor as I turn on my heel and walk away, leaving Victor dying on the floor.

CHAPTER
7

 

Time crawls to a stop the same way it did when my father died. Maggie and I drive in silence. I know what we have to do, but I don’t want to make her suffer. I tell her what I’m thinking and she agrees. We stop at Target and grab some clearance clothing and change in the car. I take my old clothes, coat, and gloves and put them in the white plastic bag before tossing them in the dumpster behind the store. It’s overflowing. They’ll come and take away the bloody clothes before morning.

Maggie and I do our make-
up in the car. That’s when she stops and looks over at me, ready to cry. “They’ll find out.”

“No, they won’t.
No one saw us.”

“Victor had the place empty so there’d be no one around to hear what he was doing this evening, but his guys don’t always leave. What if they saw you?”

I shrug. “Then they can take over and run his drug empire. No one cares about me. He’s gone, Maggie. I’m sorry I didn’t get there sooner.” Our eyes lock and I want to cry, but the tears don’t come. Something inside me broke tonight. I know what I have to do, what my life will be like because of this act. I accepted it before I dragged the knife across Victor’s throat. I’ll sign my contracts, marry Neil, and be the demur wife everyone thinks I am. That will allow me to look after Maggie and make sure this never happens again. Money is power and now I have plenty.

Maggie nods. “So, we go into your party and just pretend that you were offended that the prick didn’t invite me?”

“Yup.” I smack my lips after reapplying my make-up. “And tease him about not telling me.”

“So yo
u grabbed me and went to change?”

“Exactly.”

CHAPTER 8

 

They buy it, even Neil who claims he can spot a liar from fifty feet away. It’s all in the eyes, he’s told me, the stance, the sweep of the shoulders, and position of the arms. So I do the opposite. I remain poised and smiling. I laugh at his friend’s bad jokes and let Cecily tease me about being bitchy about excluding my best friend from the festivities.

I act like I’ve had too much to drink and poke my finger into her over inflated chest. “If you ever leave her out of any celebration again, you’ll be sorry. She’s a sister
to me.” I smile at Maggie who is standing across the room. She’s wearing dark tights to cover the bruises on her legs. A thick layer of concealer hides the dark circles under her eyes. She touches the gash on her cheek and goes into a crazy story about how I dared her to slide down the railing on the staircase.

She’s laughing. “So, Hallie doesn’t think I can do it. Well, screw that. So
I get up on the old rail and push off. I was fine until I hit the landing and hurled myself into the wall. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever done. I thought I’d land on my feet, like on TV.”

“And that’s why TV isn’t real.

“No fuck.” She giggles and clicks her glass to the tall, dark, dorky guy standing next to her.

The man gasps like she said the crudest thing he’s ever heard, so Maggie turns on the charm. She bats her eyes and touches his arm lightly, laughing into him, like he’s the funniest man alive. His demeanor softens and the two of them wander off into the backyard where it’s darker.

Cecily and her smoky self is standing next to me. Her boobs are trying to escape from her low cut neckline. “I thought you were having a panic attack or something.”

I stare ahead looking at the sea of people, but seeing no one. “Nah, just PMS.”

“I’ll make sure your friend is invited to every even
t with you from now on.” Cecily clears her throat. “Is there something you want to tell me?” I turn and arch an eyebrow at her while holding a half empty glass of wine in my hand. “Come, come now, you can tell me. Someone with your, let’s say tastes, may find one sex boring after a while. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to know—”

I take a sip while she’s talking and my heart pounds hard. I wonder if I have blood on my face, until she goes into that last sentence. I nearly choke on my Merlot and set the glass down, hushing her. “No, of course not!”

“Because if you were gay, it wouldn’t be a big deal.” She blows smoke in my face.

Grabbing her arm, I steer Cecily away from the massive amount of ears and over to the hallway. “No! I’m not gay and if you give Neil that impression I swear to God—”

She offers an amused grin and touches my forearm. “Come on now, Hallie. I didn’t mean anything by it. You two are close and it would make sense, with your background and hers.”

“Yeah, well, you’re off
base here and the man who just stuck this ring on my finger will have a stroke if you even mention the idea.” Neil has his natural order philosophy and that would scare him off. I need him to stay. He can’t leave, and a suggestion like this will send him running the other way.

She raises her pink claws and smiles. “Oh, I won’t, but if you ever need someone to confide in, I’m here. That’s all I wanted to offer. I won’t judge.” Her old eyes hold mine for a moment. She can sense the secret
buried deep within me, but there’s more than one. So even if she discovers Bryan, she’ll never know what I did tonight.

Being
defensive is making her think that there’s something to defend, so I lean in close and say, “Listen, I’d tell you if that were the case. I know I can trust you,” When did I get so good at lying? “But Neil is weird with stuff like that. He’s okay with my book since it wasn’t real, you know? It’s not like that stuff is part of our life. You do understand, don’t you?”

She understands all right. Cecily nods slowly and I know I’m fucked. She knows there’s a story there, another lover. Fine. It’s better than knowing I just slashed the throat of Victor
Campone.

 

CHAPTER 9

 

Maggie stays with Neil and me for a few days. It’s strangely silent because Neil and Maggie usually fight like the world’s going to end and one of them will have the final say. But the bickering has ceased and only quietness hangs in the air. Bryan hasn’t been around and Jon never tried to collect on his money. I was able to get Cecily to advance me five grand, because she thought that was plenty. I don’t tell anyone that I have it and keep my thoughts close to my heart—or what’s left of it—as I devise an escape plan.

Good people would be ridden
with grief and question their very existence for taking a life, but I don’t. I hate to think of the meaning behind my lack of empathy. A life is a life. At one time, I thought every breathing thing held value and I had no right to destroy it. Now I have blood on my hands, and it will never wash away. They’re stained with sin that goes bone deep and I don’t even care.

I can’t discuss it with Maggie. S
he’ll flip out. And if I tell Neil, knowing him, he’ll call the cops, so I keep my thoughts to myself. Cecily comes around more and more often, and acts like the mother I never had. Her behavior disgusts me. There’s no room in my life for another mother. One was plenty. Once in a while when I go to sleep, I can hear my mother’s voice and that giggle that said she was gone, too stoned to care. I’d stay locked in that tiny closet until she remembered to let me out. Maggie wasn’t so lucky. Her stepfather never forgot her and used her until her little body collapsed.

I don’t know how she endured such things, but then
again, she says the same thing back to me. She acts like my mother was a monster. Mom was no saint, but she kept me clothed most days and out of sight. She could have sold me, but she didn’t. It’s not that my mom brings me the warm fuzzies. No, it’s more that things could have been worse. She could have traded a hit for my young body, but she didn’t.

Meanwhile, the man who was supposed to protect
Maggie was ravaging her instead. I bet anything that she was reliving those nights when Victor had hold of her. Although Maggie won’t talk about it, her posture speaks volumes. She’s sitting sideways in a chair, with her knees tucked into her chest, and her arms folded over her ankles. That’s when the doorbell rings.

I walk over and pat her shoulder, thinking it’s the pizza guy, but when I yank the door open, Bryan Ferro is
standing there with that smug grin on his face. Without a word, I slam the door shut.

Maggie laughs. “You’re going to pay for that.”

“Like I care.” I pad across the room and sit on the couch just before Bryan cracks open the door. I haven’t seen him in a few days. His pallor looks vibrant again and there’s no sleepiness in his eyes.

“Nice manners, Hallie. Real nice.” Bryan scoffs and
steps into the room, closing the door behind him.

I shrug. “It’s abou
t what you deserve.”

“Since when do we get what we deserve? Because if that’s the case, I’d like to file a complaint.” That sexy grin lines his lips and I wish things weren’t so ten
se between us.

“What are you doing here, Bryan?”

He glances around the room. “Is Neil here?”

I nod. “Yeah, in the kitchen. He tries to avoid Magg
ie.” Maggie smirks and wiggles the tips of her fingers at him.

“Well, then he won’t mind if I claim my prize now
, would he?”

Maggie’s jaw drops. “You’re going to
nail her, here, where Neil can see?”

Bryan
actually has the audacity to laugh, which makes Neil come from the kitchen. “I don’t care if he watches, but that wasn’t my intention. I want you here and now. I have an appointment later and I was thinking that with all this blackmail, there’s been very little sex. I intend on fixing that.” Bryan glances at Neil. “Hope you don’t mind if I borrow her for a little bit.”

I don’t offer
consent. I say nothing, but I can plainly see the nukes going off behind Neil’s eyes. Bryan intends to fuck me in Neil’s bed. “Very smooth,” I offer and shake my head.

“You disapprove
?” Bryan asks, sounding shocked.

“It doesn’t matter, does it?” We walk into the master
bedroom and Bryan grins broadly. Neil says nothing, and after a few moments, I hear his car start. The tires squeal as he drives down the street. Bryan grins and leans against the wall with his hands behind his hips. “Well, come on. Take it all off, Hallie. I want to see every inch of you.”

I do as he asks, cold and lifeless. He
notices the fear is gone and that there’s no hesitation. When I’m completely nude, he pats Neil’s bed and asks me to sit by him. “What’s wrong?”

Sh
aking my head, I reply, “No. The deal was for my body, not my mind. And even if I wanted to, I can’t talk about it.”

“Then,
maybe I can help you forget.”


Fine, do anything you want.  Anything…” The word hangs between us as my heart pounds hard. I need to be dominated and controlled right now. I need to stop thinking, if only for a moment. I know Bryan can do that, and I want him to.

Bryan pushes his hair out of his
face, revealing a softness to him that makes him seem vulnerable even though I know he’s not.  “What would my Hallie like tonight? Maybe I should come here, or here,” his finger touches my lips as he grins.  “Or are you up for something more adventurous?”

I lean in and
whisper, “Anything. Just get my mind off of everything else. I don’t want to think for a while.”

Bryan steps toward me.
“Sounds perfect. No questions. No answers. And I won’t hold back.”  I can’t speak of what I’ve done or why I need this now. Neil would never approve, but Bryan’s here and willing. I no longer love. The part of my heart that holds compassion and reverence is dead.

Lips parted, I say nothing.  I just nod, and feel my nipples harden. 
The look he’s giving me brings back old times and I want to get lost in the past. I want to forget my life and everything in it. I want him. I need him and my body responds, aching for memories from long ago.

Bryan reaches for me and whispers in my ear.
“I’ll come inside you, deep between your legs and if there’s any left over, I’ll cover your breasts with it and lick them until you’re spotless. Forget yourself Hallie. Let go, let it all go.”

I put my hands on his chest,
sliding off his dark leather jacket, followed by his shirt.  Bryan swallows hard, and tugs me toward him, pulling me by the waist.  His lips hover above mine, hesitantly.  I know he’s thinking of the way things were before—about the things that drove us apart—and that fight.  Without another word his lips come crashing down on mine.  It’s a desperate kiss as his tongue forces its way into my mouth.  He licks me, stroking my mouth as he kisses me, tasting me.  Bryan presses me to the wall showing me how much he wants me. He’s so hard that every inch of his long, beautiful shaft presses firmly against my stomach, and I want him inside me. 

What does that make me? A whore? A person bent on living in the past? I’m engaged to Neil and I’m fucking my blackmailer in Neil’s bed without remorse. I want him so badly that I’m ashamed of it.

Breathless, he pulls away, “How badly do you want me Hallie?” He asks the question as if he can read my mind.

I answer b
y taking his hand and pressing it to my slick skin.  His eyes are on me, watching, as I slip his hand down my body and between my legs. Holding me there for a moment, Bryan strokes the small, sensitive flesh and breathes in deeply.  I savor his scent and the way he feels against me.  As he gazes at me, I spread my legs and look at him. 

Caution flashes in Bryan’s
eyes, but quickly vanishes.  He wonders what came over me, what made me change. The last few times, I held back, but not now. I know he wants to ask, but won’t.

Bryan
leans his forehead against mine. “You’ve always been my wet dream, Hallie,” he whispers. His eyes move around the room.  It’s nothing special. Neil is boring. It could double as a generic hotel room anywhere in the United States. Bland colors, dark headboard, and a chair. 

Bryan grabs my wrist ha
rd and pulls me toward the chair.  “Feet apart.”

I do as he says.  The tone of his voice is perfect
ly domineering.  He takes his belt, and snaps it.  I flinch, wondering if he’s going to strike me, but he says, “Hands behind your back.” 

I
move my hands and he places the belt around my wrists, using it to hold my arms back.  When he’s done, he steps away and looks at me standing by the chair, his eyes slipping hungrily over my curves.  His gaze lingers on the patch of hair between my legs.  He kneels in front of me, and slowly slides his hands up the back of my thighs, pressing his face into the V between my legs as he does it.  When his hands move over the swell of my hips, he inhales deeply, and his fingers press against my skin. 

I
step back, my back and my calves bumping the chair.  My feet start to move back together, attempting to clench the warmth building between my thighs, but he swats me and says, “Come here.”

With a grin on his face, he unties the belt and forms a loop before dragging me over to the closet door
. Bryan makes a slipknot at one end that holds my wrists and closes the belt in the top of the door. My arms are pinned above my head. I loved it when he did this, but it was long ago.

Bryan unbuttons and slowly slides
down the zipper.   He keeps the dark pants on, and pulls out his long, thick erection.  He hesitates, stopping before me, holding it in his hand.  I know he’s questioning himself.  The conflict spreads across his face.

“Do it,” I plead, hanging my head back and letting my hair trail down to my waist.  I know his eyes are on me, watching my body move in front of him, tied up and ready to take.  I’m breathing hard, wanting him to do it.  When a moment passes, I look at him and say, “Take me right now and make me yours
in every way possible.  Do it.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he says, his eyes on mine. 

“Then don’t,” I breathe.  “You’re the one in control here.  Make me writhe.  Make me scream.  Take me the way you want to.  But, Bryan—”

“Yeah?”

“I like things a little rough, more so than before.”  After I say it, my lips remain parted and I take a deep breath.  My chest swells, forcing my nipples toward him.  The door presses against my back and I lean into it wondering what he’ll do.

CHAPTER
10
 

 

Bryan
takes my face in his hands.  “If you don’t like it, tell me.”  I nod slowly, his warm hands still holding my cheeks.

It’
s like someone flipped a switch.  Bryan’s eyes grow darker, more carnal.  He releases my face and presses his toned body against me.  Pushing my back into the door, he makes sure I can feel every inch of him. He pulls out a silver chain with tweezers on each end and attaches them to my nipples. I gasp as he tightens them. The weight of the chain tugs, making me bite my lip. When he presses into me, the chains go taught and pull gently as he slides over my body.  A small gasp escapes between my lips.  Bryan watches me, his green eyes locked on mine.  He takes one finger and places it on my pink lips, while his other hand slides lower past my belly and between my legs.  I gasp.  He moves quickly, feeling my sensitive nub with his thumb, smoothing his finger over the silk flesh, and watching my face as he does it. 

My chin lifts as I try not to moan.  I fight the sensations that are erupting inside of me, the feelings he’s creating.  His fingers move on top of my clit,
while he tugs the chain gently.  He feels me growing wetter and then, without warning—without a change in expression—he thrusts his finger inside of me.  He’s still for a moment, watching my eyes.  I blink slowly, feeling him there between my legs. 

Bryan pushes his finger
harder, deeper as he watches me.  His breath washes over my lips making me feel lightheaded.  When he pulls his finger out, he lifts it to my mouth.  Outlining my lips, he watches me, spreading my damp heat like lipstick.  I blink slowly, heart pounding, and aroused beyond comprehension. 

“Taste
,” he breathes and pushes his finger into my mouth.  I flick my tongue against his finger, but he holds it there and says, “Suck the come off my finger, Hallie.”  I hesitate, but he says, “Do it.”  My tongue wraps around his finger, sucking it, tasting what he tastes.  His eyes are burning, watching me. 

As I suck his finger, he lowers his other hand between my legs, parting my smooth skin.  Sensations explode inside of me, but before I can savor them, the feeling changes.  Bryan’s
hard length slams into me, making me suck his finger harder.  He pulls his finger out of my mouth, and wraps his hands around my waist.  He remains still for a moment, breathing fast and hard.  Then he pulls out slowly and thrusts back in, slamming me into the door.  My knees tremble as he slowly drives me crazy. I want more. I want him to manhandle me and make me drunk with passion. Wipe away my fear with lust, erase my memory for just a moment, and take all the pain that’s flooding me with it.

I just want to feel him and nothing else. The world fades away until I don’t know how much time has passed. My arms ache as he uses me, pushing into me over and over again. My head hangs to the side and then tips back. I gasp every time and m
y breasts shake with the force of his thrusting. 

Something uncoils inside of me.  I want his hands on me, doing
everything at once.  Delicate strands of passion erupt inside of me, sending tingles down my thighs and breasts.  Every place I want him to touch sizzles like a live current.  Arching my back, I press my hips into him, only to get slammed back.

His thrusts change to teases, gently p
ushing in and pulling out.  He’s so hard, so perfect.  I want to wrap my legs around his hips, but I can’t.  Jagged breaths consume me and the room is beyond hot. My body is dripping with sweat. Tilting my head back, I look up at the ceiling.  That’s when his hands find my breasts.  My lips form an O, but I say nothing.  He feels the softness, the fullness of my curves as he pushes his long, hard length into me slowly, torturing me, over and over again. 

Taking my nipples between his fingers, he twists them gently
and tightens the clamps.  I cry out, thrusting my breasts to him, but the pole stops me.  Gasping, I can barely breathe. 

He gr
ins, “Shhh.  No sounds from you. I want this between us.” 

I don’t understand. Then why did he parade in past Neil and Maggie? At that moment, I don’t care.
I do as he says and bite my lip to remain silent.  He slams deep into my core again, and my mouth flies open.  I swallow the sound before he hears it.  The only noise is a rush of air being forced out of my lungs. 

“Good girl,” he purrs and pulls out before thrusting back in, deeper this time.  The tone of his voice makes me
melt. 

Before I
can think another thing, Bryan’s fingers clamp around the nipple chains.  His hips stay pressed flush to mine, his length lost inside of me.  My jaw falls open, and I see him watching me, waiting for me to make a noise.  My eyes lock on his, while white-hot sensations swirl through my body, building tighter and higher. He slowly adds more pressure, teasing and pulling my nipples tighter and longer, making the tweezers tighter and tighter.  The heat in my stomach sears through my body. I shift my hips and try to rock against him, but he stills me. 

“No, no.  Not yet.”

I gasp, “I like to be spanked.”

“Really?” I nod.
His hand comes down hard on my ass.  Both cheeks sting.  He does it while he’s still in me, which makes me clench and tighten around him.  He gasps and does it again, and again.  The impact of his hands feels so good. The warm sting sends shudders through me in waves that don’t die down.  They travel through my lower stomach and spread through my entire body. Every delicious tingle courses through me, making me slide my tongue over my teeth.  I do it without thinking. It’s a reaction to him, to what he’s doing to me. 

Without warning, Bryan pulls out.  It makes me crazy.  My hips buck, but I can’t reach him. The belt cuts into my wrists as I pull against my restraints.  I pant, watching him as he moves away from me.  Lust is burning through my body.  I can’t control myself.  Pulling my wrists hard, I try to break free from the belt again, but I can’t.
It just digs in tighter.

He grins, watching me struggle, until I stop and look up at him.  The expression on his face, the intensity of his eyes, makes my stomach flip.
My breath hitches in my throat as Bryan steps close enough to touch me, but he doesn’t.  I’m panting. My eyes are begging him to do something—to make me come, to let me fuck him—anything.

“Tell me what you want,
Hallie.  Beg me for it,” he breathes the words next to my ear. The reaction within me is quick and violent. His warm breath makes my clit throb and it feels like I’ll die if he doesn’t touch me, if he doesn’t finish what he started. He stands so close, nearly touching me, but doesn’t slide his fingers down my waist. He doesn’t touch my breast and doesn’t tease my nipples. It makes me want him even more. I feel like a chained animal, unable to think. “Answer me beautiful woman,” he commands and I feel the sting of his hand on my ass.

My body is so tightly coiled that the slap makes me moan. I didn’t expect it, but before I could bite back my sounds, they flew past my lips. I gasp, shocked that I wasn’t able to muffle the noise or stop it in time. Bryan’s hand flies a second time, harder. He watches my face as I wince under his hand. The sting is
quick, and I know that I’m going to have a problem walking later, but I don’t care. I cry out, saying his name, thrusting my breasts toward him.

A wicked look twists his lips into a sexy smile, “Answer me.” His voice sounds like a growl and when I can’t do anything but pant uncontrollably, his hand lands a third time. But he doesn’t release me. Instead he grabs my cheek in his hand and squeezes. The sting intensifies from the way he grabs me. Bryan’s beautiful body is covered in a thin sheen of sweat, as he handles me roughly. “Tell me what you want.”

My voice is a breath.  Every desire races out in a rush, “I want your hands on me, in me.  I want you to fuck me senseless. Fuck me, Bryan.”

“Beg for it,
Hallie. Beg louder,” his grip tightens on my ass making my body press into his. A beads of sweat roll down my spine.

My voice quivers as I beg
, no longer capable of maintaining any ounce of restraint. “Please, Bryan—please!  Fuck me. Fuck my pussy. Fill me with come. Please baby.  Please…” I continue to beg him, as his hands slide over my hips and down between my legs.  When he touches my clit, I moan. Bryan leans his head back, watching me. “Fuck me, baby.  Please.” My hips buck into his hand. In response, he tightens his fingers on my clit. I cry out, “Fuck me! Please! Bryan! I need you! Please!”

When I say his name, he shatters.  Before I know what happens, his
hands are holding my wrists over my head as his hard length slams into me over and over again.  He thrusts harder and deeper each time with his hands slipping down my arms. Slamming himself harder and harder into me, he watches my breasts sway and bounce until he takes both in his hands and pinches my nipples hard. I scream out, but it only makes him pinch harder, until the chain falls free. It falls at my feet and he leaves it there.

Bryan moves, pushing into me
faster and faster. The heat between my legs is coursing through my body. It feels like I can’t be tamed. There isn’t enough of him to ever satisfy me, ever. When his fingers clamp harder on my sore nipples, my eyes fly open. He looks me in the eye as he thrusts into me once—hard. My back hits the door and he holds me there, watching me. Lips parted, he breathes saying nothing. His hands gently push the hair back from my eyes. He stills for a moment and I can’t stand it. His dick is in me but no matter how much I wiggle, I can’t get him to fuck me.

With his entire body, he flattens me against the
door. His eyes burn with lust, his brow drips with sweat. “Come for me, baby,” he breathes and pounds into me fast and furious. He doesn’t stop when I scream. He keeps pounding against me until my body can’t wind any tighter.

Each time he sinks into me I feel higher and higher. I can’t breathe, but I don’t want him to
stop. His body crushes me, as he rides me, rocking into me furiously. I moan, and can tell how hard he’s pushing, how much I’m going to hurt later, but I don’t care. In the moment, it feels so good. My skin tingles and is dripping with sweat. My breasts bounce harder and higher with every slam of his body against mine. And without another thought, I come. My scream rips through my throat. I can’t come quietly, not when he does this. Bryan pounds me harder as the delicious swirling sensations erupt throughout my body. I feel him push into me hard and deep, and he comes a few moments later.

Spent, I hang from the
door shivering, ready to fall to the floor. Bryan pulls away and looks me over. Lips parted, he just stares at me for a moment before undoing the belt.  When my hands fall to my sides, my arms burn.  Bryan takes me in his arms and carries me to the bed.  He sits me down in front of him and rubs out the sore muscles in my arms and shoulders. My head droops to the side as he does it. Every inch of me is tingling. I don’t want the moment to end, but Bryan stops.

I turn and look at him. He’s glowing, covered in a thin layer of sweat
that smells so good. I want to lick it off, but I just nod. He turns his emerald eyes away and says, “I guess I should get going.”

“You’re leaving?”
Suddenly, I feel very naked. I pull the throw blanket off the bed and wrap it around my shoulders.

“Yeah, unless you want me to stay and tell Neil all about how I nailed his
fiancée.” He watches me for a second. His brow is covered in sweat and his face is glistening. “What’s wrong?” He could always read me so well. I want to tell him about Victor, but I can’t.

I say something else. “
Neil proposed and I said yes.” I hold up my ring.

“Yeah,
saw that. You really agreed?” Bryan sits next to me.

“Not really. He agreed for me.”
We’re both quiet for too long.

Bryan dresses and says,
“I’ll be back to have my way with you again soon. Next time your asshole fiancée better have you ready for me. And I want you to wear these when you’re with me and only me.” He lifts the chain from the floor and tosses it to me.

The bedroom door flies open and Neil is livid. He glances at
me and back at Bryan, “You think this is funny?”

“No, I think she needs
something you can’t give her. I’m giving you a single chance to break your agreement and fuck your fiancée. But you have to do it like an animal. Satisfy her.”

Neil’s face scrunches in disgust. “
I do satisfy her and without this barbaric behavior. Making love does not have a place for gagging, tying or oppressing women in any way. I’m sure Hallie just took one for the team, you deranged piece of shit.”

That was the crudest thing I’ve ever heard Neil say and I want to laugh, because it’s pathetically weak. The man who’s using me offered to break his agreement if Neil promised to nail me and have monkey sex. The man should have said yes, but he stood by his morals and said no. I’m too tired to think of what that means. What just happened here?

“She’ll be taking more than one hit for the team.” Bryan winks. “I’ll see you tomorrow, sex slave. I have a collar for you and you’re going to wear it.” Bryan shakes Neil’s hand. “You’re a smart man. What are a few months of infidelity compared to a life time of riches, right?”

Neil tightens his jaw.
“So you plan for this to continue for a few months?”