Authors: Molly Molloy
(A Dark Romantic Suspense)
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Copyright © 2015 Molly Molloy
. All rights reserved. Including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of the author.
Note to Readers
As depicted on the cover and in the blurb, RIPPED is a DARK Psychological Romance.
This means that the ending is Happy in a non-traditional way.
It means that there are psychological themes and suspense at play that may not be as it seems. You may not understand what's going on because that's the nature of suspense. You get the answers as they unfold.
It means that the characters are not necessarily the hearts and flowers types looking for a nice house in the suburbs, they have psychological anachronisms that make their personalities different from what we may think of as “Nice”.
I don't like “Nice” it's a big ol' cup of phoney in my book. I like to explore the very real side of every human being – of who they are and what they do and do not pretend to be. It's pretty complicated and at times really fucked up. The things a person will do to be loved.
You have been warned.
If you like it different you may need another romance.
If you like it DARK sign up to my readers Group for more
Ripped, A Dark Romance
Josh & Mark
We're getting closer every day to Riley. Beautiful Riley with the incredible body built for loving. What more could I do to her body?
can't even begin to imagine.
Her body is made for surrender. But the fire inside her, stoked by her pain, is incendiary. Taming her will be the most exhilarating thing we ever do.
The soft flesh running all the way up the inside of her thighs is like the finest Italian silk. So smooth and lush ties should be fashioned from it. To trail kisses the length of that velvety skin. And gently pull apart the sweet lips nestled at the top. Touch my lips to taste the nectar hidden inside. Like ripping open a fragrant and perfectly ripe fruit.
There's no way she's ever going to leave us now. Not now. We've claimed her and she's ours.
I know he locks her in her room at night. Trying to cage her all for himself. But it's far too late for that. He can't keep her away from me.
I come back and I'll keep coming back until I possess Riley totally.
I dash out of the vacated bedroom and down to the library. But I'm out of luck. Of course yesterday's newspaper has already been cleaned from the grate. It would have been embers by now. And today's paper? Not in the library and the door to Mark's study is locked.
When I try all the other stately doors lining the broad hallway, every palatial reception room is museum deserted. The massive ballroom contains no furniture and I'm drawn across the polished wood floor toward that postcard view from the full length windows. Exactly halfway across I stop and breathlessly turn slow circles of wonder. The walls are covered in pastel murals of bucolic scenes, the trim solid gold gilt. The ceiling is painted to resemble a spectacular sky full of benevolent golden deities.
My astounded circling speeds up until I'm twirling round and round with my arms stretched wide under the Murano glass chandelier. Gold glass drops over five layers, the light fixture is as big as my entire bedroom back home.
The spinning alleviates some of the ramped up stress in my body. It also raises the memory of dancing at Carnival with a strange masked man. Could Mark be the killer of young women? Is my lover the Venice Ripper? A blast of queasiness overwhelms me which is not from the circle turning.
A roaring black tiger beneath my feet stops the ecstatic Sufi-whirling dance. I dash across the shiny floor to the window as the sleek speedboat bursts from the bowels of the building and rips across the water. The wake and spray it shoots up prevents me from detecting how many people are standing up at the prow. Convinced I saw a ribbon of blonde hair trailing out like a pennant in the wind, I press up against the glass until the bullet boat disappears.
My mind explodes with the certainty that Mark is playing me. There can be no doubt because a man like him would never be alone. He's got everything any woman could want and more, there's no reason for him to be alone for a single night. And no reason to make do with a girl like me.
It's not self pity, it's self awareness. I know I'm no sexy hot mamma. I see enough of those types at home and it's easy to picture them right at home in the palazzo with Mark.
My mind darts to the obvious, the only, solution to all his skullduggery. He keeps another woman in the palazzo besides me. I may be sensitive to rejection following my husband's disdain.
I'm not totally unaware of the blow that humiliation dealt to my confidence. But let's get real, it's the only possible explanation for why he never sleeps the night in my room. Why I've never been permitted admittance to his. And for the identity of the person he just spirited away in his magnificent speedboat.
Again? Again I'm the idiot girl being used for her body while another woman has my man's real attention. What the fuck is wrong with me? Aren't I enough to satisfy any man? When am I going to stop attracting all the psychos and get a man who wants only me?
Ablaze with the need to know, I tear out along the main hall of the
, through the service door and down the stone stairs. The temperature plummets with every step down, dampening, chill and dank.
Mark doesn't know I've seen his room of security cameras. If I can rewind just a few minutes, before the footage downloads to his bank of computers. I need to see his other woman. Her image will haunt me until I know what she's really like. Because right now she's tall and blonde and willow thin. Perfect. The ideal woman for a man like Mark.
At first I think the door's locked. Maybe Josh told his father about finding me in here. But with a shove it gives from its damp expanded stuckness and I topple through.
Shaking like a morning-after drunk, my fingers flick at this button and that. I stop, start. Pressing all the buttons at once as frustrated as I get using a hotel TV remote. I can't get the right recording up. Nothing on the screen flicks through rewind. I need to see who's getting into the boat before it ejects itself through the doors.
When the cell pops onscreen, I almost flash past. Even the mysterious instruments lining the walls aren't a balm for my curiosity. I need to find the boat dock.
And then the image changes, popping to a different view. I leap back from the bank of screens as though they caught fire. My finger flying off the rewind button makes the image halt and my eyes saucer at the picture I'm looking at.
A woman is laid out on the table, facing directly toward the lens looking down on her. Splayed and naked, with each limb tightly bound to the underside. Not loosely as Mark tied me to the bed posts, so he could move me around and change my position as he fucked me. This girl is so tightly strapped down so she can't move an inch.
Her legs are wide open so I can clearly see her sex. Or would be able to if I zoomed in. She's asleep or drugged because she's not writhing or twitching at all. Totally motionless. She could almost be dead.
No, I won't let my mind run off with those fear-mongering news reports in the paper. Those girls were killed in back alleys, tortured with their throats slit. This isn't that at all. This is where Mark comes at night for the stimulation he must need and that I don't give him. What is it? What does he need?
I flick my finger to the rewind button to whizz the recording back further. When a zoomed-in image flings up on the screen I lift my finger and watch in horror. A man's hands fill the screen curling circles around the woman's wide spread pussy. His thumb presses down on her nub as her pelvis bucks wildly up and down. Her stretched sex rakes in and out of the picture as she goes wild.
Now I get it. This cell is Mark's red room. Because after all, every handsome alpha billionaire needs a red room these days. As I suspected from the start, I'm an interlude. I'm one of a collection for Mark. Like the dolls my daddy used to bring me from his business trips to Europe, all dressed in native traditional costume. When I had a dad.
How many of us submissive hungry girls does he keep locked behind closed doors. Are we each sequestered behind one of those locked bedroom doors in a luxurious cage?
He must have a fashion house on tap providing endless designer dresses in every size. And the cost of all those expensive ripped panties. Every girl in his harem must get to take a turn in his dungeon. Maybe he rotates us around by day or week. Mine must be coming soon.
Unless he plans to get rid of me. Perhaps I failed the bondage test in the bedroom.
In a blind mad rush I hurtle from the room, slamming the door against the stone wall with a thick crash. My heart is racing, my thighs burning from the dash up the steep stone steps.
I don't stop, sprinting the length of the
. The burn in my lungs feels good and distracts from all the other pain. Tears are prickling stupidly at the back of my eyes but I'm not giving in this time.
Running works almost as well as dancing for ridding my body of feeling. All those lies. Of course he doesn't care about me. I'm one of many in his harem. Fuck I hope he doesn't have me on camera. Not in close-up like that woman in the dungeon. Up the long sweep of plushly-carpeted stairs, along the second floor hallway.
I'm pounding my stretching lungs through my feet when I run headlong into three men emerging from one of the main bedrooms. I recover from the collision and focus on the stunned burly group standing in the hall. They're staring at a deranged woman wearing a slinky full length nightgown and robe and I realize they're some sort of officialdom.
All three are rigid and erect. Dressed in highly pressed dark uniforms with sinister white stripes along the sides. To them I must look like the madwoman from the attic, all tousled hair and a nightgown in the middle of the day.
I draw myself up tall and pull the robe around me in an attempt to hide my barely covered breasts, naked under the thin lace.
“May I help you gentlemen?” I inquire with as much regal stature as I can muster.
The three gendarmes, or whatever they call them in Italy, are staring at me in frank shock. They eyes burrow into me with interest and if I'm not mistaken, more than a little appetite. Once they’ve scanned me thoroughly, they look back at the housekeeper questioningly.
Signora D. (I still can't wrap my tongue around these mellifluous names) was in the process of pulling the double doors closed when I careened into them. A smattering of vigorous Italian is exchanged.
,” I interrupt ('excuse me' being about the only Italian I've picked up. “I don't suppose anyone speaks English? My Italian is coming along rather slowly.”
In that moment I resolve to begin studying immediately.
“I can speak a little,
,” the older guy who looks to be in charge says.
He pulls himself up fully erect to make the announcement. Only managing at the last moment to leave off the salute and click of the heels. “I am Comandante Alanzo Guerra, Commander of the
for the Veneto. And you are?”
I can tell how proudly he loves rolling the word 'Comandante' off his tongue.
“Riley Hart, I'm a guest of the owner here. Why are you, er, gentlemen—
here?” (Fuck, what a mouthful to exercise the tongue with).
“How long have you been here?” The Commander ignores my query.
“I arrived on the day of the storm. The last day of Carnival,” I lay stress on that detail for some reason.
There's another burst of Italian between the police chief and the housekeeper. I assume he's confirming my alibi.
? Why do I suddenly feel guilty and that I need to prove myself?
“We need to look around the premises, if that's alright with you,” the Inspector says.
I notice he's holding an object in a plastic bag. Clutching it with great care like it's a valuable ornament. It could be a glass or a cup, I can't tell from all the writing in marker covering the plastic.
This isn't good, the
removing articles of evidence the day a murdered girl is fished out of the canal. Did he take it from Josh's room or Mark's? Or mine? No joy ever comes from having the police in the house. I have to get them out of here until I have a chance to talk to Mark.
“As you can see I'm not dressed and the master is not at home. You need to come back when he's here.”
I draw myself taller than the commander as I speak. We're in a battle of puffing chests but I have the distinct advantage. His turn. He opens his mouth to disagree but I interrupt him.
“Maybe with a warrant seeing as these are private chambers.”
I lay further stress on the 'private' and hope he doesn't already have that authorization. For good measure I add a glare at the housekeeper for allowing these officials to trawl through the house when Mark is not at home.
Then my knees almost buckle. Is this really me? Standing up to the Comandante, head of the
, which I think is the military police force for Italy. He also happens to be packing a Beretta across his shoulder.
Where did I find the moxy to tell a law officer to get out of a house that isn't even mine? And in the nicest but most stringent terms, countermanding the long term domestic staff. I'm finding a whole new side of myself since the divorce, since making my adventure trip of a lifetime. A woman who can get shit done and stand up to powerful men.
“As you wish,
. I apologize for the disturbance.” The Commander make a small bow from his torso and as one unit, like birds on the wing, the group moves past me towards the exit. When I reach the stairs, the Commander turns with another query.
“You said you were here since carnival?” he asks with that look of trying to entrap me. I'd seen it so regularly on my mother's face as she tried to find any reason to blister me with her vicious tongue.
“I told you. We danced at the masquerades then came back here the night of the storm when our plane couldn't leave.” I assumed that was ambiguous enough to imply that I'd been staying here during the celebrations also.
“Thank you, S
. We'll return shortly. With a warrant”
With another jabber of Italian to the housekeeper, the official little group disappears down the wide staircase. I watch them over the balustrade marching the length of the hall until they vanish through the kitchen doors. Then run all the way back to the newly vacant bedroom and drag the incriminating costume from the closet.
Velluto verde. Velluto verde.
The two words sing in my head like a gondolier roaming the back canals. The first Italian I've learned. And will never forget. Green velvet under her fingernails. I whip my head round and round, seeking something suitable.
There are no convenient rocks or other heavy blunt instruments. The only possible usable item is a marble statue. An ugly white lump that could have been made in China. It deserves to go. When I heft it into the bag, it's the perfect dead weight. So I tug the tightened unwilling window until it gives way with a squeal and hurl the balled up package.
I pray to the saints it isn't a priceless antiquity I'm dumping at the bottom of the canal. The chill air spears my lungs and I hurtle back to my room, throwing myself on the bed in a state of hyperventilation.
When my pulse calms down enough ten minutes later, I dress quickly in my own clothes. Then pack what little I'd removed from my suitcase-mostly toiletries and make-up. My phone is dead as I haven't charged it since shortly after I arrived and discovered the internet had been knocked out by the storm
Except there had been internet all along and Mark had lied about that. What else had he lied to me about? Things are getting way out of bounds for me, my wished for adventure becoming a little too risky.
If I can't book a flight online I'll have to go to the airport and wait right there until one becomes available to get me out of this mess. What the hell am I doing misleading the police like that? I could get myself into a whole lot of trouble in a country where I've got no friends or supporters. How long in jail for misleading the police and hiding evidence? Years shut in a box where I don't understand a word being spoken.
I dig through my purse for my wallet, praying that my charge cards will cover the cost of a last-minute airplane ticket. And my passport. Where's my passport?
I scrabble through the detritus in the bottom of my purse. Using my clawed hand like a digging machine, twice, then three times before I empty the contents on the silk coverlet.
Not there. Not possible – it absolutely was in here. I open my suitcase, check the interior side pockets then there's nothing for it but to unpack and search through every item. Then repeat. Tearing through the junk over and over because it has to be here.
I'm kneeling on the floor surrounded by piles of very shabby looking clothes-at least to my new eyes. And my heart is a sinking dead weight with the realization that I won't wear the amazing outfits again.
Then Mark walks in and his face convulses.