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Authors: Scarlett Sanderson

Tags: #Erotica

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BOOK: Darkness Comes
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Chapter Three

 

Mia followed Dylan through the bar. The lights were dimmed. Deep, rich crimson paint covered the walls. Black satin throws draped over the chairs and tables. Slow, sensuous music beat in the background.

The seedy atmosphere slid over her. She could feel the heavy mix of alcohol and arousal. It coiled around everyone and everything in the place, reeling them in, drugging them, teasing them with a promise of unseen things.

She glanced at the other clientele. Mainly men. All different varieties. The overweight man in the corner with his thinning hair combed over his head in a vain attempt to hide the growing bald patch. The men wearing business suits in the middle of the room—bankers, doctors. The men near the front of the room, dirty torn clothing, sweat-stained bodies. All here for the release places like this offered.

They were fixated on numerous platforms dotted around the bar. Platforms filled with gyrating seminaked women. Blondes, brunettes, redheads.

Mia rolled her shoulders, easing some tension. Dylan’s idea of hell was a fucking strip joint? Maybe she’d been wrong about him. Maybe he wasn’t as intelligent as she’d thought.

He stopped and motioned her to a table. She pulled out a chair and sank into the soft satin. It felt good. Warm. Dry. Her clothing clung to her, showing off every shape, every curve of her body. Her nipples peaked, stood to attention, poked through the cotton of her shirt. She didn’t care.

She looked at Dylan. He studied her, observed her every movement, every turn of her head.

“So, your idea of hell is a titty bar?” she mocked him, already bored.

Maybe he was nothing more than a common pervert. Maybe he was an arrogant fuck who enjoyed shocking women. He’d picked the wrong woman if he thought to shock her with a strip joint. She’d seen too much for this to offend.

He placed both hands on the table in front of him, linking them as he moved closer to her. “Half the people in here are murderers. The other half rapists. You stick around long enough, Doc, and I’m sure you’ll have no trouble believing we
are
in hell. Good thing this place isn’t real or you might have a problem. But you’re used to places like this, aren’t you, Mia?”

Mia snorted, hiding her discomfort. A niggling feeling worried the edges of her mind. Did he already know the answer to his question?

She glanced around and caught the interest of the man at the next table. He had pudgy features and bulging black eyes that matched his bulging waistline. He slowly rubbed his crotch. Up and down. Squeezed. Released. He flashed Mia a lewd smile.

Quickly, she turned back to Dylan. She’d learned at a young age not to encourage contact in places like this.

Dylan asked, “Does that make you uncomfortable? Does the thought that he might want to touch you, that he’s thinking about fucking you, make your skin crawl?”

The VR was a precarious world. Aspects of the unconscious mind could populate the environment. Was the pudgy man thinking about fucking her because Dylan wanted to? Things low in her body tightened, clenched.

She swallowed the beating heart in her throat. “I’ve had much worse.”

“Really?” His expression remained neutral.

Mia matched his body language. “Really. You think being a criminal psychologist is all about textbooks, statistics and therapy sessions?” She moved back, relaxed into her chair.

She reached up to the lapel of her rain-soaked blouse and pulled the wide collar to one side, exposing an ugly pink puckered scar that ran just above her right breast.

“This was given to me by an inmate of a Company facility. He was a serial rapist who decided to see what my flesh tasted like. This,” she lifted the hem of her blouse, bunched the material just beneath her breasts, pointing at another large scar on her abdomen, “was given to me by a man who’d butchered nine people. They’d just brought him his evening meal. Some newly employed prison officer mistakenly gave him a plastic knife and fork. See how much damage a plastic knife can do?”

She let out a breath, trying to regain her emotions as he remained impassive. “Does a man trying to masturbate in front of me bother me? The answer is no.”

Dylan stretched and lengthened his spine. His muscles rippled as he folded his arms. “Interesting.”

A bare-breasted waitress came over to take their drink order. Mia ordered a vodka neat, no ice. Dylan ordered a whiskey neat, no ice.

He licked his bottom lip as the waitress disappeared. “I imagined you’d be a white-wine spritzer type of person.”

His mockery offended her. “And I never expected you to be the expecting type, Dylan. For a thief, expecting can be a dangerous business. Expecting could get you killed.”

Dylan laughed. “
Thief
is such a harsh word, Dr. Simon.” The laughter vanished. A hard look flashed across his face. “I don’t like harsh words.”

The waitress reappeared with their drinks and placed them on the table. Mia was glad of the respite. It gave her precious moment to think. They were locked in a game of cat and mouse. She had a terrible feeling she was the mouse. That he’d brought her here was telling. Maybe she could turn the game around, get under his skin.

Would Dylan add another scar to her collection? The world was plucked from fantasies, desires, images from the past. Had this been his reality?

“Why do you do it?” His voice interrupted her thoughts, rumbled around her head, bringing her back to reality.

She took a sip of vodka before answering. “I do it because I enjoy rehabilitating criminals. Or incriminating them.”

“Really? I thought you enjoyed the thrill. I thought you got off on the chase. Bringing people like me to justice gets you a little hot, doesn’t it, Doc?”

Heat rose in her cheeks. How did he get to the truth so easily? Her anger kept her from biting out more than, “Hardly.”

“Sex doesn’t satisfy you, does it? You’ve never had a lover truly give you what you want. What you crave. You know why you do this, Mia? Why you chase after the darkness?”

“Why?”

“Because it excites you. Because hidden deep down in your soul you want it to come and consume you.”

She pushed aside the memories of her past. She wouldn’t let them surface. Not now. It was crucial she maintain concentration. “You promised if I came with you, you’d tell me where you transferred the money. I’m getting a little tired of your bullshit.” She was sick of waiting, sick of his mind games. She needed to get the information and move on.

“All good things come to those who wait.”

“Bullshit. You’re screwing with me. I bet you have no clue where the money is. I bet you are not as hot shit as you think you are. You talk about darkness like it’s part of you. I bet you’re not as bad as you believe you are.”

Dylan growled. His nostrils flared. He blazed with fury but quickly regained control of the beast inside. Finally, Mia saw a glimpse of why this man was the most feared thief on the planet. His swift ability to rein in his anger, to regain impartiality and focus, astounded her. The leashed beast lurked beneath a veil of cold calculation. A dangerous combination.

His voice was barely audible as he answered. “To truly understand what the darkness is like, Mia, you have to unleash it inside yourself.”

She swallowed. “I don’t have any.”

Dylan gave her a cruel smile. “We all have it. It’s one thing human beings have in common. The ability to inflict pain on their fellow man. A primitive side. An animal side. The only difference is if we choose to embrace it.”

He waited while she swallowed the words. “I see the tension leashed beneath the surface. The anger. The passion. The things you’ve buried. But you’re not happy. What happened if you unchained your shackles? Would you embrace the animal inside your soul?”

Would she? When the time came, would she have the courage to confront the devil and come out of this encounter unscathed? Already Dylan was stirring things inside her she’d long blocked.

Mia was saved from answering his question as the lights dimmed further and the stage show began.

A man with long, greasy jet-black hair appeared on the illuminated stage. He wore a green crushed-velvet suit and white dress shirt. Everyone in the bar focused on him. A hushed silence descended as the audience waited for him to speak.

“Gentlemen,” he began, his voice deep and low. He swept his arm around. He scanned the crowd. “And ladies,” he added. “Welcome! We have some wonderful merchandise on offer for you fine people tonight. Just remember, there are no rules. First come, first served. Once the merchandise is yours, you’re free to do whatever you please. Fuck ’em. Hire ’em out. Kill ’em. Just be sure you get no blood on the décor. It’s a fucker to clean.”

The audience let out a whoop of laughter.

It was a female slave bar. Some places traded in men and women but this one traded only in women. Taken from their homes, they were brought here for the singular purpose of making a profit.

Bile rose in her throat as she remembered another time and place. A time when she’d been a nineteen-year-old girl chained and naked, terrified of stepping on stage.

As the “merchandise” appeared, the audience became frenzied. Talking, shouting, banging on tables. Hurling crude catcalls at the frightened, naked women. She could see their terror as they stood there awaiting their fates. Unable to escape the horror that would be their futures.

Disgust lodged in the pit of her stomach. Tears threatened to spill over as she remembered what the fate of most of these women would be. It wasn’t real, but it didn’t stop her from reliving old memories. Once they left this place, the constructs would disappear. In reality, women like these were bought and sold for pleasure. Stripped of their freedom, they’d be loaned out to the highest bidder, forced to service anyone who could pay. Most would become hooked on medication to get them through the days. Others would be beaten to death.

She turned to Dylan, wondering if he’d ever bought a woman at auction.

He stared at her intently, studying her emotions and body language, looking for any sign of weakness he could exploit.

He’d found one. Sick fuck.

She lifted her chin slightly, refusing to be swamped by emotion. “Were you sold? Did someone sell and fuck you?”

Fire blazed in his blue orbs. “No one dared.”

That had pissed him off. She wanted to prod, to pry, to burrow into his mind and exploit
his
weaknesses. “Have you ever bought a slave? Is that why we’re here? Are you more fucked up than anyone thought? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

“I’ve never needed to buy a woman to satisfy my needs, and I have many.”

Mia continued to stare at him, trying to look into the depths of his soul. “You didn’t answer my question.”

He reached for his drink and took slow, deliberate sips. Tormenting her as she waited for his reply.

The bidding on stage began for the first woman.

“What if the answer was yes? What would your cold, clinical mind say if I told you I’d bought one of these women in my past? What if I told you it was the pretty brunette with the slave number on her arms?” He flicked a strand of Mia’s now dry titian hair.

She flinched and he smiled.

His tone remained cool, calm. He never raised his voice. “If I told you the whispers made me slice her open. Peel back the outer membrane to reveal what beauty is on the inside of a human being. Have you ever seen blood at night? It’s almost black. Like tar. Sticky. Warm. A slight metallic taste. A sweet smell…”

“It won’t work.” Fucking with her, goading her. It wouldn’t work. He was nothing but a clever thief trying to throw her off purpose. He wasn’t going to give up his secrets but she refused to let him destroy her. “The mind games. Fucking with me so I’ll run for safety like a frightened girl who shies from the devil.”

Her heart beat wildly. She removed the mental padlock from her past and let Dylan see who she really was. “I’m no girl. I’ve seen and experienced more things than you can comprehend. The more you try to shock me with these games, the more tenacious I become. You think this shocks me? You try being up on stage.”

She expected surprise but his expression remained a blank mask. Anger boiled. She stood up, placed her palms of the table and leaned across. “I know what you are. You’re more intelligent than any of us could have predicted. A criminal mastermind. Bravo. But your control will slip, and when it does I’m going to be there.”

The atmosphere between them became electric, raw and primal. She’d challenged him.

Dylan stood slowly. His movements graceful. “Why do you chase criminals, Dr. Simon?”

The question threw her. Of all the things she’d expected to come out of his mouth, this wasn’t one of them. Violence, yes. Smart-ass comments, yes.

“Because I’m a psychologist. It’s what I do.” Of course it was much more than that. But she wasn’t going to admit it to him.

He frowned, gritted his teeth. “Wrong answer. I’m asking you again. Tell me why you do this, or the deal is off.”

Mia looked down at the droplet of candle wax that spilled over onto the table. “It excites me.”

“What was that? I couldn’t quite hear you.”

BOOK: Darkness Comes
7.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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