Authors: Jackie Ashenden
“Then stop asking me what I'd do if you tried to escape.”
She folded her arms, hugging herself. “I could take your gun. Shoot
He didn't even glance in her direction. “Be my guest. If you manage to get it, it's yours.”
Of course she wouldn't be able to get it. Though maybe she should try for form's sake.
“I should add,” he said casually, pulling the thread through another stitch, “that if you take one step toward this gun, I'll shoot you in the leg and save us both the bother of having to deal with this shit. I haven't got either the time or the patience for it.”
Violet's jaw tightened. The fear had begun to dull in its intensity, leaving only a heavy, sick feeling in her gut. She had no doubt he'd do exactly what he said, so unless she wanted a nice gunshot wound to match his, she was going to have to sit tight and wait until he told her what he was going to do with her. If in fact he was going to do anything with her.
“Okay, so what do you want me to do?” She hugged herself tighter. “Just stand around admiring your sewing skills?”
Calmly, he finished the last stitch and knotted the thread, biting off the end. Then he put down the needle and looked at her. “You're not afraid of me.” His gaze was blacker than space. “You should be.”
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
She was already pretty white. Now she'd gone the color of new-fallen snow. Her gaze dropped from his, down to the floor, her arms wrapped tightly around herself as if she was cold.
Good. She should be fucking scared. He had no patience with a hostage who was going to give him grief. He had no patience left at all.
His shoulder throbbed, a deep ache settling into the wound, and he was starting to feel dizzy. Physical pain was easy to disregard once you knew how, but it was the shock that could be a killer. He needed to get warm and eat something, get his blood sugar back up again.
Fucking Rutherford shooting him with his own damn gun.
Elijah leaned surreptitiously against the vanity, eyeing the woman standing opposite him.
He had to admit, he was surprised by her responses to him. He didn't know her that well, only what he'd seen of her when she'd been wafting around the family home, all chiming bracelets, silk skirts, and musky perfumes, but he'd always had the impression of a pampered girl indulging in a bit of passive-aggressive rebellion, safe and secure of her own position.
He knew fear. Knew what it did to people. Had seen all the possible responses to it over the years. Some people cried or cowered or threw up. Some people became catatonic. And some people rose to the challenge.
He hadn't expected Violet to be one of those who rose to the challenge. Yet that's exactly what she'd done, getting all sarcastic, pushing him. If he hadn't lost everything he'd worked for these past seven years and been fighting the effects of a gunshot wound, he might have been more impressed.
But he had, and right now it only pissed him off.
She looked up at that moment, the color of her eyes intense in her pale face, the sapphire stud glittering in her nose. “Why should I be afraid of you again?” There was an edge in her voice, and he thought it was desperation. “I mean, you said you weren't going to rape me and if you were going to kill me you would have done so already, right?”
Another challenge. Well, that was one way of fighting fear. Perhaps he had to revise his opinion of her as being passive-aggressive.
He picked up the gun, held it casually in one hand. She was right, he wasn't going to kill her. Killing was a blunt instrument at best and besides, he hadn't gone through all the trouble of kidnapping her only to get rid of her. She'd always been his backup plan and perhaps that might still work. As for rape, well, that was for animals and cowards, and he was neither.
However, he had no problem incapacitating her if she was going to prove a nuisance, though hopefully the mere threat of it would be enough to get her to back off.
“Very astute,” he said as he lifted the gun. “Though a nice bullet wound to match mine might have you rethinking that little scenario.”
Her gaze dropped to the gun, then came back up to his again. “You'd really do that?”
“What do you think?”
There was fear in her eyes, he could see that much. And yetÂ â¦ something else. Something like anger. And why not? If someone had kidnapped him at gunpoint, he'd be pretty pissed about it too.
“I wouldn't if I were you,” he warned softly, before she pushed him further. “You wouldn't like it, I guarantee.”
For a second, a spark of deep blue flared in her gaze. Then she looked away. “Fine. Whatever. So are you going to tell me what I'm here for then?”
“Eventually.” He pushed himself away from the vanity, the ground moving unsteadily under his feet. Gritting his teeth, he took a moment to will it still again then said, “Stay here.”
She said nothing as he left the bathroom, going down the hallway and into the bedroom.
There was a chest of drawers in one corner and he pulled one of the top drawers open, finding what he was looking for. Heading back into the bathroom, he was mildly surprised to find her exactly where he'd left her, with her arms wrapped around her middle, a mutinous expression on her face.
“Hands out, princess.”
Slowly, she did so and he pushed her bracelets back then snapped the handcuffs he'd found around her wrists.
“Wow, kinky,” she said sarcastically. “I didn't know you had it in you.”
He didn't bother to respond, gripping her arm, steering her out of the bathroom and back into the main living area of the apartment.
Over by the massive paneled windows was a black leather couch, and he pushed her down onto it. “Wait here.”
She muttered something that was probably rude under her breath.
He ignored it, picked up the purse she'd dropped on the ground and rummaged around inside it, finding her phone among a pile of receipts and all sorts of feminine shit. Taking it out, he quickly extracted the SIM card, dropped the phone onto the floor, and stepped on it. Hard.
Glass cracked, electronics scattering everywhere.
“You asshole!” Violet had risen to her feet, staring at the broken piece of technology, fury stamped all over her pale, delicate features. “That was my phone!”
Interesting. Her response was anger rather than fear. Another little fact to file away for future reference.
“Not any more.” He pocketed the SIM card for flushing down the toilet later. “I'm going to have a shower and get cleaned up. So sit down, shut up, and if you're very lucky, I might tell you what you're doing here.”
She did as she was told, but there were wild, blue sparks in her eyes.
He'd witnessed a few altercations that Violet had had with her parents, and her responses had always been of the âwhatever, man' variety. She'd never been as openly furious as she was now.
As if, for a moment, he was seeing a different Violet.
Or maybe what you're seeing is the
“Asshole,” Violet repeated, her expression still furious.
Christ, what did it matter what he was seeing? She was merely his hostage, and he didn't give a shit what kind of person she was as long as she sat down, shut up, and did what she was told.
Elijah ignored her, turning and heading back toward the bathroom.
After he'd gotten rid of the SIM card, it took him a while to get clean, the pain making the shower a lesson in agony as he washed off the blood. Then he had to bind up the wound and get rid of his dirty, bloodstained clothes. It wasn't until he pulled on a clean T-shirt, jeans, and a thick, black hoodie, that the pain began to subside from a shriek to a dull roar and he began to feel moderately human again.
It helped that the plan on how he could use Violet was coming together in his head.
He was still turning the details over, but he thought it might work. In fact, it fucking better since he really had no other options, thanks to Eva goddamn King, a really piss-poor decision, and lack of planning on his part.
He'd never expected Rutherford to not protect her. He'd never expected her to pick up the gun and shoot Fitzgerald herself.
Let it go. You can't change it now and anyway, you have bigger fish to fry.
His anger coiled like a snake, shifting and turning.
Since losing Marie, he'd managed to divest himself of every single emotion. Anything that could hurt, anything that could undermine, he'd gotten rid of. Everything except anger. And that he'd kept sharp and bright, and most of all cold. He'd had to. After all, revenge took its time and hot rage burned itself out soon enough. Cold rage though, that kept going, kept sustaining.
And he was going to need all of it if he wanted to go through with the plan he was forming in his head right now. A plan that was bigger than merely crushing Fitzgerald.
A plan that took it right back to the source.
Back out in the lounge, he found Violet frantically going through her purse, bits of crap strewn all over the couch. As he approached her, she had her hands in her lap and was bent over them, one hand twisted over, something clutched in her fingers.
It took him a moment to realize she was trying to get the handcuffs open with a hairpin.
He stopped not far from the couch and folded his arms, watching her. There was no way she was going to succeed, but a tiny part of him was vaguely impressed with her tenacity. Especially since it was clear by her movements that she'd never picked a lock in her entire life.
After a moment she stopped what she was doing and looked up. Color crept into her pale cheeks. Then she tossed the hairpin away and leaned back against the couch cushions, her expression changing from steely determination to barely masked boredom.
Ah, that's the Violet he knew.
“It would never have worked,” he said flatly. “You don't know what you're doing.”
“Yeah, well, that's pretty fucking obvious.” Her turquoise gaze met his, then flickered away again. “So what am I supposed to do? Just sit here? Wait until you deign to tell me what you're going to do with me?”
He ignored the questions, studying her instead. She was definitely scared, he could see little flashes of it leaking out from underneath the mask of sarcasm and anger she was desperately trying to hide behind.
Good. He was doing his job properly then.
“Yes. That's pretty much exactly what you're going to do.” He turned toward the kitchen area, sectioned off from the rest of the apartment by a big white wall.
“Tell me why I'm here.” Again the edge of desperation in her voice. “Tell me about Dad.”
“All in good time.” He had to get himself something to eat, something that would get rid of this fucking dizziness.
“No,” Violet demanded. “Now.”
He didn't know what it was in her voice that made him stop and turn around, but he did.
She was sitting bolt upright on the couch, the look on her face blazing. Fear was there, yes, definitely, but a healthy measure of anger too.
Jesus, she had some nerve. Handcuffed and his prisoner, she was sitting there demanding answers like she had a right to them. Like she wasn't merely the spoiled daughter of a man the Mafia would have been proud to call their own. A woman oblivious to the monster who'd given her life.
A poor little rich girl whose life had never been touched by darkness. An innocent.
The volcanic rage inside him flared.
Why should she remain untouched? What made her special? When her father had been the one who'd destroyed Elijah's life. Who'd killed everything that made him human, everything he'd loved.
Why should she be spared anything?
“Your father died a few hours ago,” Elijah said coldly. “He was shot in the head.”
Violet blinked. “ButÂ â¦ but, Iâ”
“You don't understand, do you? You don't know what he was.”
was?” Her throat moved. “What are you talking about?”
There was no room for mercy in him anywhere. “Your father ran one of New York's biggest crime rings. He had a string of drug dealers, ran underground casinos, and had been making it big in sex trafficking too.”
Her eyes went huge and black, her mouth falling open. “What?” she whispered faintly. “No, I don't believe it.”
“Think about it, princess. Where do you think he got all his money from?” Elijah smiled. “Why do you think he had someone like me guarding him all the fucking time?”
She was starting to shake her head, all the fight draining from her eyes. “NoÂ â¦ I don'tÂ â¦ I mean, I can'tâ¦”
“Believe it. It's all true. All that happening right under your pretty little nose. Your father was a murderer, princess. A rapist. A master manipulator. He was the devil himself.” Elijah paused, watching her face, seeing the shock set in. Once he would have felt regret for hurting her like this, for hurting anyone like this. But regret was something he'd long ago ceased to feel.
“He had plans for you too, did you know that?” Elijah continued. “You were never going to escape. He liked to use anyone and everyone for power, no one was exempt.”
She'd fallen silent, gone still, her only movement the rapid rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.
He wouldn't spare her. No one had spared Marie.
“Your father was going to use you, Violet. You were going to be the bargaining chip he used in exchange for more territory, so he could extend his human trafficking networks into Eastern Europe.”
She kept shaking her head as if that alone would deny the truth.
Elijah kept talking. “He was going to give you to the biggest crime lord in Europe in return for his so-called âtrading links,' and whether you wanted it or not wouldn't have mattered in the slightest. Everyone was fair game to him and that included his daughter.”