Authors: Nicole Snow
I tensed up when I heard footsteps approaching my door. The muffled voices got clearer right before they came through.
“Gotta feed the bitch something. 'specially if she's gonna start riding all our dicks and give old Ruby a break. Junkie slut deserves it for telling us how to mix that shit in the beer. Fuck, it's been a long time since we had a nice young cunt to get our dicks wet...”
“Easy, Reaper. Better to take her gentle tonight. You fuck her too rough on an empty stomach, after what she's been through, and she'll be like a dead fish.” Block stepped into the middle of the room and grunted. “Where the fuck is she?”
The overwhelming grog and brain fog swarming through my veins earlier was gone. Now, I was full of so much adrenaline I couldn't feel the sharp pangs twisting my stomach. I didn't know who these men were, but I understood what they wanted, and I was dead set on defending myself like the wild animal I'd become.
A shadow pushed the closet door open. My eyes burned when the bright light in his hand tore through the darkness concealing me.
“Bitch is in the closet, Prez. I'm gonna get her out...”
The last little island of sanity I was holding onto sank to oblivion as soon as he laid his hands on me. Kicking, screaming, biting, scratching.
The sheer ferocity must've surprised him because it took several seconds for the big man to get his footing. His bulk dropped on top of me, crushing me to the floor, but my arms and legs wouldn't stop thrashing.
Jesus, he was tugging at my jeans! Snarling, I rolled, jabbing my fingernails at any bare inch of skin I could find.
The scratches cut deep, allowing me to feel the faint outline of a neck, a face, an ear. Reaper screamed bloody murder and ripped off my jeans, tumbling away as I kneed him hard above the groin.
The kick missed its target by a couple inches. Damn it.
“Fucking cunt!” He swung low, a full force fist aimed at my face.
I was too quick for the old bastard. Whatever I'd given up in memory must've been made up in speed because I rolled and crashed against the wall like a stunt woman. Reaper's fist dragged him through the air and cracked hard against the wall.
“Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fucking bitch...almost broke my damned hand.” His voice weakened.
The punch caused real pain. Dark satisfaction welled up inside me, but I wasn't letting my guard down. I hunched in the corner, ready to leap and go for his eyes next if he came any closer.
Whoever these men were, I'd rather
than have their wretched hands on me.
“Reaper. That's enough.” The older beefy man grabbed his comrade by the shoulder.
“What're you talking about, Prez? You lost your fucking mind? We ought to put a bullet through this bitch's head and lay her on top of daddy over there...”
His breathing came hard, rough. Pure rage possessed him like a demon. He stared at my dark corner with hateful promises in his eyes.
I will kill you,
“Don't. We don't got the time or energy for dealing with another body. Fuck it, Nero screwed us over. Again.” Block sounded tired. “Just leave the bitch alone. Those Prairie Pussies'll be here in a few days and we can dump her off with them.”
Reaper spun, staring at his leader. “You goddamned serious? What if she talks? Those guys are assholes, but they won't hesitate to gut us. You heard what they did to the Grizzlies before the bears fled the state!”
“I'd rather have 'em fixated on this feral slut and her dead daddy. We can feed them anything we want about this bitch and her old man. But if it looks like things are too quiet and they go sniffing around Mickey's cargo we buried out back...they could find out the Slingers were here. Then you might as well kiss your hard ass goodbye. Bruises'll heal, brother.”
Block grabbed for Reaper's hand. Frustrated, the man with the VP patch tore himself away, standing up. He gazed into the darkness one more time. It looked like it was taking all the energy in the world to hold back and listen to his boss.
“Whatever. Fuck this,” Reaper growled, clasping his wounded hand tight. “I'm not coming in here with that crazy fucking pussy again, however hot she is.”
“No need to,” Block said. “We'll have Ruby slide her some fucking oatmeal or something. It's only for a couple days. If the girl wants to act like an animal, then we're gonna treat her like one.”
I couldn't breathe properly again until I heard them leave the room and slam the door behind me. I stayed in the corner a long time, well after the darkness in my closet spread across the room. The lone window lost its light fast as the sun set behind the trees. The dead man's stench was getting stronger every hour.
Alone. Alone in the dark with nothing for company except the corpse stretched out on the bed about ten feet away.
When I couldn't hear anyone stirring in the clubhouse, I crawled into the room. If I could get outside, then maybe I could find the main door to this place, make a run for it.
Didn't have a clue where I'd go, or how. But
was better than here.
My meager hope melted as soon as I grabbed the doorknob and gave it a good pull. Locked. Feeling above it with my palm, I found a newly installed lock, something like a deadbolt controlled from the other side.
Exhaustion settled in, long overdue, making me slump against the door and rest my forehead on the cold wood.
Fighting, kicking, screaming, and scratching only would've brought unwanted attention. I had no choice but to slink by the dead man again, wondering why the hell they called him daddy.
Surely, he wasn't mine? Was he?
The darkness and the thin sheet over him prevented me from seeing his face. Deep inside my head, a voice warned against trying to take a good look. If I recognized him, then I knew I'd truly be done.
Was it only three days? It felt like three weeks.
I slept with one eye open, staying in the darkness, treating the pale light spilling into my room like it would burn me to ashes. My heartbeat woke me with a jolt every time the door creaked open. I was ready to fight the men, kill them or kill myself if I had to, but it was only some skinny figure who stopped at my closet door.
The woman was afraid. At least I had something in common with someone here.
“Here,” she whispered, the only word she ever said, sliding a ceramic bowl with a spoon in it across the floor.
It was always the same: oatmeal or instant soup. Total crap, just as bad as everything in this rotten room. The stuff stopped the hunger pangs just long enough to tangle my intestines. There was no bathroom, and no fucking way was I going to ask the brutes keeping me prisoner for potty breaks.
I used an old cardboard box I found on the closet shelf, a humiliating necessity I couldn't ignore when the urge struck. I didn't understand why, but that made me cry like nothing else.
Pissing in cardboard box made me so sick the tears came. Not the dead man moldering mere feet away. Not even the constant fear Reaper or Block would come back and finish what they'd started. No, living literally like an animal was one bridge too far, one horror I couldn't process in my screwed up head.
The next days were quiet and miserable. I wondered if I'd die in here and join the body on the bed after all. I couldn't bother wondering who I was or what I'd done to deserve this.
All I cared about was survival, freedom, some way out of this hell. There
to be a way, if I just waited it out and didn't totally snap.
I never expected a man to be my ticket out. Much less a stranger from the same kinda ruthless thugs who'd already turned my life upside down.
Voices. New voices. Loud voices – far louder than the men I feared.
Block, Reaper, and the others sounded like children next to the men roaring at them. I pressed my ear to the wall and listened. The Rams' leader kept mumbling apologies, offering his full cooperation, something about earning a patch or support from these other guys.
When I heard the footsteps coming, I tensed up. Curled my arms and legs in a ball, hoping somehow I could hide. Not that I actually expected it to work.
“Fuck me,” a gruff voice said, now right next to the locked door. “If these idiots have got a rotting corpse holed up in there, I swear I'm gonna –“
The doorknob jiggled once. Impatient, the stranger growled, and smashed something heavy against the door. Probably a boot. The deadbolt broke and the door swung back, smacking the wall. Heavy footsteps followed as three tall, massive, and deadly serious men entered.
It was daylight. The closet was dark – pitch black in the corner where I huddled – but I could tell from the second they entered the room that they were determined to scope out everything.
The trio were all big guys, but one of them was a total giant. The big man stopped, towering at the closet's opening, blocking out all the light. He lifted his arms, holding something.
“Get your ass out here now! You've got five seconds to show yourself, and the countdown's already started.”
One way or another, I was dead if these guys wanted me to be. The killer instinct that helped me against Reaper a few days ago was gone, faded, beaten into submission by shitty food and constant fear.
The giant's hands twitched. A second as long as half a lifetime ticked by. Without thinking, I stood up, my mind totally numb as I walked toward the raging hulk.
I just wanted this to be over. If this was the beginning of the end, then so be it. I'd rather die out in the open. It was better than being shot in the dark like a worthless rat.
The world was getting smaller and smaller as I took one trembling step at a time toward his huge shadow, and then past him, into the light. The giant kept his gun trained on me for several long seconds as I walked by him, and then lowered it with a confused look.
Christ, how long had I been holed up in there? The light was...overwhelming.
“Holy fucking shit,” a man said, right as my legs gave out.
I started to fall. The whole world went spinning, breaking apart, blurring into a sickly haze.
My vision was fucked. But I never hit the floor. Two strong arms grabbed me just in time, yanking my body tight to his powerful chest.
I took a deep breath, relieved that he'd broken my fall. Musk, motor oil, and a faint spicy cologne teased my nostrils. I'd forgotten what it was to smell something good and fresh. I inhaled again, slow and steady, relishing his scent.
. Powerful. Safe. Maybe even pure.
“What's wrong? Are you hurt?” The stranger's voice was deep, demanding. “Talk to me, girl!”
I wanted to. But the nervous breakdown wouldn't let me. I bowed my head against his chest, burying my face on a simple gray shirt peeking out between his leather vest.
Of course I'm hurt,
I'm hurting like hell. But as long as I keep breathing you, I might be okay. Maybe.
“Christ.” The taller, angrier voice behind the man holding me exploded. “Bad enough we've got a body back here to deal with. Now here's little miss Dracula too. Soon as I find out who the fuck died here, I'm gonna slaughter those Rams...”
The arms holding me tightened. Amazing how they could be so reassuring without words, so gentle even though they felt like they could crush the life out of anyone who got in his way. He leaned down and breathed deep. His strong chest rolled, a steady wall of muscle beneath my cheek.
Exactly what I needed, though I hadn't known it until that very second. Time slowed each time he moved or flexed, as if to say I'd be protected for as long as I damn well needed.
After the last few days in this hellhole, his embrace was an oasis, and I never wanted to let go.
“Get her out of here,” the giant said. “Don't know how Blaze wants to handle this shit, but there's no sense in letting her stew a second longer in this cesspool.”
“Thanks, brother.” His hands moved and he began to walk, nudging me forward with one strong arm cradled over my neck, ready to catch me if I stumbled. He slapped the big man on the shoulder as we passed through the broken door.
“It's okay, baby,” he whispered, a storm building beneath those three words. “Whatever the fuck they've done to you, we're gonna make it all right. That's a fucking promise...”
What have they done to me?
I wondered. I shook my head, questioning my feeble memory, pushing dirty strands of hair against his smooth skin.
Jesus, I needed a shower. Shame hit hard. I was surprised the stranger didn't shove me back in the closet when he figured out how gross I was.
He was right about one thing: I hated the assholes who'd held me under lock and key. For all I knew, my nightmare was entering another chapter walking with this strange man.
I didn't have to trust him. I just had to wrap myself up in the powerful shield he offered, the rock hard body that bowed up when we passed by the Rams and went outside. His movements vowed if anyone wanted to get to me, they'd have to go through him first.
Good enough. I didn't know him, didn't know if he was truly as good as he seemed. But he was the first person in a long time hellbent on protecting me instead of offering more torture.
For now, that was enough. All I needed to leave this place. If I survived this, then maybe there'd be time to sort out the rest.
He helped me outside and sat me down on a big motorcycle, making sure I was fixed in safely. Jesus, I wasn't sure I was in any condition to ride. I'd never been on one of these things before. Something about sitting on the huge, sexy chrome rocket gave me new energy. Feeling the wild wind in my hair sounded lovely after I'd been cooped up for too long.
He gently pressed a blue helmet onto my head and then walked behind me. Flipping open a compartment, he began searching for something.
The man's hand brushed my bare leg as he bent down. I jerked, ready to bite and scratch.
“Shit, baby, calm down. I was just trying to see if I had something for you to eat in my saddlebag. When's the last time those assholes fed you a decent meal?”