Authors: Kelly Favor
Hunter approached her as she stood by the car with her arms folded.
“Just take me home, please,” she said to him.
He stood near her, leaning on the hood as she waited by the passenger door.
Hunter watched her with calculated interest. “I thought we were having fun.”
“We were,” she agreed. “But then you always find a way to twist it into something else. Why are you so intent on getting me back to your house?”
“Nothing has to happen back at my house. Are you afraid I’ll try and force myself on you, Kallie?”
She looked into his eyes. She wasn’t afraid of him forcing himself on her. Quite the opposite—she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to resist him if they were back at his place, and she knew that bed was right upstairs. The same bed where he’d taken her to places that she’d never imagined possible.
“I’m not afraid of you,” she said, softly. “But I do think you’re very manipulative, Hunter.”
“I’m just trying to spend time with you,” he said. “I think you enjoy spending time with me.”
“You’re just so hot and cold.”
Suddenly, he reached out and put a hand on her wrist, lightly. “I’ll be warmer, then,” he said, his voice low. A charge of electricity shot up her arm from where he’d touched her.
“Don’t,” she whispered, pulling away.
She looked up at him again. “You told me what you want from me. I can’t be a part of that kind of relationship. It’s an abomination. It’s against everything I believe.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Give me one night, Kallie.”
She sighed and threw her head back and screamed in frustration. “Why are you so persistent?”
“Because, I want you. And when I want something, I go after it with everything in my power. And I’ve never wanted anything in my life as badly as I want you.” He said it without batting an eyelash.
“If you want me so badly, you’d break one or two of your little rules for me.”
“First, we have to play by the rules before we can break them.”
She smiled. She loved that he enjoyed this banter between them. She could see it in his eyes. He liked the back and forth, verbal jousting. Kallie had never dealt with a man who was as challenging as Hunter, and she had to admit that she found his advances flattering and extremely exciting.
Couldn’t I have just one night with him? She wondered. Couldn’t I just be with him again and see if there’s something there? Maybe I can get him to relax some of his weird rules for me.
And then a light bulb went on. It occurred to her that there really might be a compromise here, and she was proud of herself for discovering it. The realization made her break out in a grin.
“What are you thinking?” Hunter asked. “I can see the wheels turning up there.”
“I’m thinking that I might have found a solution to our problem.”
“You’d have to be willing to compromise.”
His brow creased. “I don’t like that word.”
“I’m sure you hate it, but it’s the only way,” she said.
He folded his arms. “Go ahead, talk.”
“I’ll give you from now until you take me back to the hospital tonight to do whatever you want with me.”
His eyebrows rose in surprise. “You’re kidding.”
“I’ll be yours. You can show me what you have in mind. Two test drives in one day,” she smiled.
He shook his head. “One minute you’re this demure little flower, and then suddenly you turn on a dime and everything’s out the window.”
She smiled, liking the feeling of having him off balance for once. “But there’s a catch,” she said.
“Of course there is.”
“The catch is that you have to answer my questions. You have to talk to me about yourself.”
He shook his head. “I don’t have any interest in being psychoanalyzed, Kallie.”
“Who said anything about that? I just want to get to know you.”
“I’ll only answer questions about the present,” he said. “Nothing about my past.”
“What’s the big deal? What are you hiding?”
“Take it or leave it. If you agree then we have a deal. Otherwise, no deal.”
“But you’ll tell me anything I want to know about the present—no exceptions,”
she said. “Promise?”
“I guess we have a deal,” she said.
Kallie would have to wait to ask her questions about Hunter, though, as the two of them drove separately back to his house, which was located just outside of Newport, Rhode Island. Taking a helicopter there and back the on her first visit had made it seem like something that had existed off in its own world. In reality, he had a fancy house that was not far away from all the other fancy houses.
Now she had all the time in the world to think about what might happen next, as she watched Hunter drive his motorcycle just a few yards in front of her.
She’d been impulsive at the dealership, and the further away they got from it, and the more time passed by, the greater her doubts grew. It would have helped some if Hunter had at least been in the car with her, talking, laughing and joking.
But all she had was the silence of the car and a view of Hunter’s back as he rode implacably forward, leading her closer and closer to his castle, the place where she’d agreed to let him have his way with her.
Kallie didn’t know what had possessed her to strike this little bargain with him.
Was it really worth trading in her own values and self esteem, simply to have the “honor”
of asking Hunter a question or two about his personal life?
She laughed aloud, snorting at her own stupidity as she drove. To make matters worse, she’d even let him stick that caveat in about limiting the personal questions to the present. So now she wouldn’t even be able to ask him about his childhood, the writing of Blue Horizon, or any of the things that probably would have shed the most light on who he was as a person.
And besides, why was it so important to her that Hunter tell her about himself? It made her seem needy and weak, that she was willing to barter away her body in exchange for some information about Hunter’s favorite food or what he did on the weekends for fun.
Kallie cursed herself for falling into his trap, and then she cursed Hunter for being the kind of man that made her want to fall into his trap in the first place. She knew that the bottom line was, she had only succumbed to his tricks because she desperately wanted him.
There was no other good reason.
Before long, they were getting off the main road and starting their journey toward his house. She could see the hill and his castle atop it, in the near distance. It was like a beacon, calling to her. Just seeing it there, rising above the rest of the land, made her insides churn with nervous expectation.
She flashed on images and sensations from their last encounter. His lips on her breasts, his hands all over her body, pinning her arms against the bed—how she’d wanted him to go harder still. He’d slammed his body into hers ferociously at the end of their lovemaking, and she’d felt ravaged, but pleasantly so, if such a thing were possible.
As she followed Hunter up the narrower road that climbed the hill to his home, she wondered if she’d actually have the guts to follow through on this whole thing. She was getting cold feet, feeling anxious and wondering if this whole endeavor was just a colossal mistake.
They parked, and she turned off the ignition, sitting in the driver’s seat of Hunter’s car and gathering her courage. She was trembling a little bit, watching Hunter dismount his motorcycle, remove his helmet and turn to look at her. He waved at her, smiling, but she felt frozen in place.
It was like a bad dream.
Wait a minute, Kallie thought. Didn’t I make myself promise again and again that I wouldn’t get close to Hunter Reardon? Didn’t I force myself to remember how cruel and distant he could be, and the way he insisted on our relationship meeting only his specifications, with no regard to what I want?
So how am I sitting here right now? She wondered.
It was as if he’d cast a spell on her.
She slowly emerged from the car, blinking and smiling uncertainly.
Hunter walked to her. “Can I have my keys back?” he asked. She handed them over, and even the graze of his fingers made her quake that much more.
“Is that to make sure I can’t escape?” she said.
“Nobody’s holding you hostage, Kallie.”
He walked closer still, and she was instantly consumed by the possibility that he might kiss her right now. Instead, he just caressed her cheek softly with one hand. “You don’t know,” he said, “but you will. I’m going to prove it to you.”
She looked away. “Could we maybe sit and talk for a little bit?”
“Sure, let’s get a drink and some food. What do you say?”
“Sounds perfect.” She breathed a sigh of relief. Drinks and food was something normal people did. Eating was normal. Drinking was normal.
Maybe she could stall him until they had to go back to the hospital so he could meet Red. Of course, she wasn’t sure she wanted to stall him—Kallie knew that a very big part of her was more than ready to see what he had in store for her.
Kallie followed Hunter into the house, and she was once again struck by how clean and minimalistic the place was. Every nook and cranny was gleaming, spotless, as if nobody had ever lived there. And with very little furniture or decoration, she supposed it was a lot easier to keep it that way.
“What would you like to drink? I’ve got a full bar upstairs,” he told her.
She was nervous. She was in the belly of the beast now, so to speak. “I don’t care. Whatever you’re having.”
“Vodka and cranberry,” he said. “Yes?”
“Have a seat. Hang here and I’ll be right back.”
He left, climbing the stairs and disappearing out of sight. Kallie knew he’d told her to take a seat, but she didn’t feel much like sitting down. Instead, she wandered the empty living room, searching for clues about Hunter’s life.
Where were the family pictures, where were the mementos of his work, his life, his friendships? She couldn’t find anything that even hinted at such things. There was a modern fireplace and a mantle above it, but on the mantle was nothing but a large oval mirror and four candles in black, sleek candleholders.
It was eerie, in a way, how Hunter appeared to have intentionally wiped out all traces of his past, his friendships and achievements and connections. You’d never suspect he was the writer of a hit novel, a blockbuster film, and operated a successful film production company.
She glanced up the stairs and Hunter was nowhere to be found.
She wasn’t going to find anything about him walking around his living room.
Instead, she opted to slowly creep into the hallway, opening doors as she went. There was a closet, which was empty but for a few coats hanging, a broom and dustpan.
A bathroom as white and antiseptic as an operating room.
She closed the door and moved on. Turning the corner, she came to another door, and opening it, found a stairway leading down to the basement.
What if he finds me snooping around? She thought, as she started to tread lightly down the stairs.
Well, I’ll say I was trying to find the bathroom.
It sounded plausible enough, she decided, as she continued down the steps, her heartbeat sounding in her ears. Perhaps she just needed any excuse to do what she wanted to do, regardless of whether or not it was sensible.
The truth was, when it came to her relationship with Hunter, nothing she’d done was sensible.
At the bottom of the stairs, she looked around and her eyes grew wider and her pulse quickened.
“Oh my god,” she whispered.
It was like some kind of medieval dungeon, she thought. Her palms grew sweaty as she gazed at the various implements and machines that populated the cellar. There was a contraption that looked a lot like a pommel horse those gymnasts used, only it had straps and chains attached to it.
There were some other things in the basement that were equally foreign to her experience. She couldn’t even imagine how they worked. There was an elaborate series of chains and pulleys that hung from the ceiling—the system was so intricate that she assumed it had been installed by professionals.
The room was well lit, very bright, and clinical in nature, much like the rest of the house.
Nearby, there was a large black chair, like a throne—except that there were long, black legs and arms protruding from the main structure, with manacles that she could picture being attached to someone’s ankles and wrists as they lay submissively in the chair.
Staring at it, she felt a thrill of fear and excitement in her belly.
For the first time, she had a clear idea of what Hunter meant to do to her if she agreed to his terms.
And for the first time, Kallie realized with total clarity that she wanted him to have his way with her. She wanted to know what it would be like to give herself over to him and let him take control.
“Like what you see?” the voice asked from directly behind her.
Kallie shrieked and jumped, turning around to find Hunter at the base of the stairs, watching her with an enigmatic expression.
“Oh my God, you scared me Hunter!”
He folded his arms. “What are you doing down here?”
“I—I was…” she realized now how silly her cover story about the bathroom would sound. “I was curious,” she said, finally.
Hunter slowly smiled. “You could have asked me what was down here, Kallie.
I’d have told you. Remember our deal?”
“I’m sorry I went snooping. I didn’t plan to—it just happened.”
“There are drinks upstairs, or…we could get to the main course,” he said, his eyes darkening with intensity as he stared at her. “You could see for yourself what all of this is for.”
She licked her lips. “I don’t need a drink,” she said. “Unless you think you need one.” She smirked at him.
He came towards her. “No, I don’t need anything but you, right now, right here.
This is where you and I are meant to be, Kallie. Don’t you feel it?”
She nodded slowly. “I feel something. I’m curious. I want to try it and see what all the fuss is about.”