Read Beneath the Burn Online

Authors: Pam Godwin

Tags: #Romance, #Music, #Adult, #Thriller, #Contemporary

Beneath the Burn (6 page)

His pace intensified. “Four years.” Thrust. “Two months.” Thrust. “Seventeen days.” He drove into her and held fast. His head fell back, and he roared to the ceiling, erupting down her throat. She choked, swallowed the bitterness of his release mixed with the salt of her snot and tears.

He pulled out, and she felt the relief in the sag of her body. He kicked off his shoes, the clothes at his ankles, and squatted to capture her eyes. “Last time I fucked you was in the backseat of the Expedition outside of Benu. Do you remember it, Charlee? Yeah, of course you do.”

The restaurant. The night she escaped. Dread crept over her and raised bumps on her skin.

“I trusted you. I gave you that unsupervised moment. A gift.”

And she’d seized it. Excused herself to the restroom, slipped through the kitchen, and escaped out the backdoor. She ran to the nearest motorist. She ran for four years.

“And you used it against me. Never again, Charlee.” His anger was palpable, pelting her face in a mist of spit. “You won’t leave the tower. Every action supervised. Every. Single. Breath.” He twirled a finger above his head, indicating the walls, the ceiling, and the cameras. “Now, you owe me four years’ atonement, but I promise”—his smile was diseased and more painful than what she’d just endured—”I’ll go easy on you tonight.”

From one rapid heartbeat to the next, he was behind her. He spread her cheeks and attacked her with his mouth, tongue digging and scooping between her labia. He shifted to her rectum and continued the assault. He spat, and the logy landed there, crawled down her crack, and clung to her inner thigh. The only lubrication he’d grant her.

It wouldn’t be as painful as the first time, the night he took her virginity. She wasn’t that sixteen-year-old girl anymore.

She put on her magic shield, pushed her arms through the sleeves, and wrapped it around her legs. The self-hypnosis prepared her, but when he impaled her ass, the shock of unbearable pain broke through her armor. She yelped, bit her tongue.

His teeth landed on her back, gnawing as he pounded into her backside. The shield absorbed some of it, but she still felt. Damn him, she felt it, and the realism was hell on her body.

He gripped her waist and punched his hips, in and out, again and again. “Did you fuck him?”

Her defensive haze convulsed. “What?”

The invasion in her body disappeared as he pulled out, but the relief was short lived.

Whack.

Agony annihilated the back of her thigh. Acute, localized, like a bolt of fire to the bone. Only one implement could do that.

“I do
not
repeat myself.”

Whack.

Skin swelled beneath the cut of rattan.

Whack. Whack.

Sweat stung her eyes, and her limbs shook through the blows.
No more. No more
.

Whack. Whack.

What was the question?
Sweet mother, make it stop
. “Y-yes, Sir.” She licked cracked lips. “Yes, I fucked him.” She didn’t even try to hide the self-loathing in her voice.

The cane clattered to the floor, and he plowed into her vagina, fierce and punishing. Pound after pound, he took from her. Flesh. Blood. Tears. It was disgusting. She was disgusting. Why did he want her? Why?

He grabbed her hair, yanked her head back, shooting pain down her back. “Your body was created for my pleasure.”

She shuddered. Had she asked that out loud?

“No one bends to my cane or takes my dick like you do. No one feels as good as you do. I own you.”

Tears clogged her throat, and he shoved her head away. Minutes blurred into hours. He violated every orifice, over and over without pause, and somewhere in the haze of anguish she panicked over his possible use of Viagra. He could go for hours on that horrible pill.

When her armor eventually crumbled, she tried to crawl away from her body, tried to project her mind and all its nerve endings to the corners of the room where the darkness stood still.

He spanked and caned, licked and bit, and spared no surface. Then he fucked her again.

Her breath wheezed through a parched throat. Dried stripes of tears burned her cheeks. When the blaze from his penetration dulled, she sunk into a listless fog of acceptance. The shadows crept in from the walls and guttered the lights until there was nothing. Nothing but the echo of his painful smile and the promise it imparted.

I’ll go easy on you tonight.

7

Daybreak glowed through the expansive room. Mounds of bedding cradled Charlee’s bruises and welts, and she buried her face in the foam mattress. The acidic stench of cologne scorched her nose.

Sixty floors up. Down a long corridor. Last door on the right. Roy’s bedroom.

She’d dreamt of Noah. He’d busted into Roy’s bedroom with guns drawn and nothing standing between him and Roy but a few dozen bullets. But she knew better. Dreams were dangerous in this place. She wiped it from her mind.

Quiet mantled the hollow space, but the atmosphere churned. He was near.

Beside her, the bed was empty, but a man-size indentation remained. A muscle quivered in her lower lip. She bit down on it and shoved away the connecting thoughts.

“Charlee.”

She flinched, a full body spasm, and tried to downplay it by stretching her arms and steadying her breath. Then she turned her head.

He stood before the dresser mirror, chin raised, knotting a blood-red tie. “I have meetings all morning, some things I couldn’t cancel. I cleared my schedule for the remainder of the week.”

The nerves beneath her skin rioted as he approached. He perched beside her hip, grabbed her throat, and used it to roll her body to face him.

Violet eyes sparked in the sunlight. “My beautiful girl. My bed. Perfection.” He petted her hair, his gaze clinging to her face, fixated with obsessive longing. “I don’t want to leave.”

“Let me go,” she said, quietly, swallowing against his fist.

He smiled, and it illuminated his eyes. “Never.”

“Why do you hurt me?” His fingers dug in, pinching her esophagus. Where had her voice come from? Even when he wasn’t choking her, she’d never had the guts to question him. But that was then. She’d grown a lot in four years. “Did someone hurt you?”

He chuckled. “Hurt
me
? No. My father was exceedingly wealthy and powerful. No one would dream of touching his son.” He sighed wistfully, and the hand around her throat loosened. “He beat my mother regularly. Even she loathed to defy him.” His eyes glazed over, faraway and heavy-lidded. “My father only needed to walk into a room and he owned it, its walls, and its occupants. He was a magnificent mentor.”

His father had erected the cartel that was Oxford Industries. She shivered, grateful there was only one Oxford left to stain the world. As for Roy, the placidness of his current mood didn’t delude her. Spoiled little rich boys could exhibit moments of good behavior. As soon as things didn’t go their way, the tantrums ensued.

“I slept inside you all night.” His whisper was a thousand crawly things skittering up her spine. “Your hot, tight cunt clung to me like a vacuum.”

Delusional pervert.
Thank God her weakened body had put her in a dead-like sleep. “Yes, Sir.”

He reached around to her nape and pulled her face to his. The pain from the previous night was too fresh. If she fought him, it would only invite more. So she thawed her joints, molded against him, and tangled her tongue with the slug in his mouth. Cold and rigid inside, she gave him the silent, yielding response he expected. Whatever was needed to expedite his departure.

The door creaked. “Sir. Your car waits.”

Their lips separated, and his eyes imprisoned hers. “Thank you, Salvador.” His mouth, so close and pinched in a line, was a sanguine gash against the pale background of his face. Black hair and eyebrows intensified his complexion. He personified a macabre portrait of beauty and would look much the same frozen in death. The thought gave her strength, as did the lurch of the mattress and his parting words. “I’ll be a while.”

The door closed behind him, and she released a shuddering exhale. The tears in her rectum caught fire as she threw off the quilts. She flinched, froze. No clothes, but that wasn’t what sent ice through her veins. It was the felt-lined shackle around her ankle. She twisted it, found the locking mechanism, and knew the key had just walked out the door.

She followed the attached chain, which was light-weight and wrapped in a tube of silk, down to the coiled pile on the floor. From there, it led to a steel ring bolted to the hardwoods beneath the bed. No sense in yanking it. He would’ve made certain it bolted securely to the floor joist.

Bruises speckled her hip bones and wrists. The welts on her legs tightened with each step toward the closet, and the chain unraveled to crawl behind her.

Nothing had changed in her absence. The spartan dresser at one end. Her easel, desk, and drawing boards at the other. A flat screen facing the foot of the bed was the only fixture on the wall.

The eyes in the ceiling followed her. The movement of tiny cameras wired in the recessed lighting might’ve gone unnoticed, but she’d had two years in her previous captivity to assimilate the room’s every detail.

At the threshold of the closet, the chain jerked her leg mid-stride. All her old clothes hung in tidy rows beside his and out of reach.
Twisted prick.

She limped toward his dresser. Half-way there, the chain strained again. Trapped and naked. Dammit. Her drawing supplies were twice as far. A classic Roy Oxford tactic. Nothing was carte blanche. Her favored pastime, her clothes, all of it kept in the room and out of reach as a visual reminder that everything had to be earned.

Four doors divided up the monotony of blank walls. The corridor, the closet, the bathroom, and the sliding panels that would open to his office. The exterior wall glared with floor to ceiling windows and a vista of the Golden Gate Bridge. The street below had a daunting view of Roy’s fortress of mirrored glass. A view she had never experienced.

She walked the circle of the tether, her stiff muscles and sore bottom stinging with each step. Only the windows, the bed, and the bathroom were in reach. She emptied her bladder, used the toothbrush—the single item in the drawer-less, cabinet-less room—and skipped the shower. No toothpaste. No soap. No towels.

A tray of assorted pastries, berries, a pitcher of milk, and bottled water sat on the round table beside the bed. But it was the bowl of oatmeal squares at the center that made her heart skip a beat.

Dance with me at our wedding.

Roy wouldn’t have known about the note Noah left the prior morning, but he did know what her favorite cereal was. Too bad he’d offered it so freely. She didn’t want it, couldn’t imagine ever enjoying it again.

She curled beneath the bedding and broke the seal on the water bottle. No sedatives in the water to erase the stockroom, the ride to the airport, the kick to the head. The gun shot. She rubbed her breastbone and breathed through the stinging in her nose. Not knowing was worse than the truth. Would the murder of a St. Louis detective make national news?

Every action supervised. Every. Single. Breath.

She glared at the ceiling. “Turn on the television.”

Seconds later, the TV powered on. The screen showed a skinny woman huddled in a large bed, her spiky hair the color of L’Oreal Platinum #105. She’d worn the color for over a year, but she didn’t recognize the woman beneath the disguise. Bit by bit, she was losing herself.

She tugged the duvet tighter around her nudity and raised a palm to the side of the room. On screen, her face disappeared behind the hand. “A news station. Please?”

She dropped her hand, steadied her breath, and waited.

Nothing.

“Turn it off.”

The screen went black. The damned remote was another privilege to earn. Until then, she would let a fragment of her brain hold onto a still breathing, smiling, waiting Noah.

Over a selection of blackberries and miniature rolls, she rewrote the prior night. She replaced it with a dance, bodies entwined, a sway in their steps. The fantasy tormented her, burning her eyes and twisting things inside her.

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