Authors: Lily Harlem
By popular reader request, the full-length story of what happens after
My soul was in turmoil. Ty Winters had not only kidnapped me in Oz, my heartstoppingly gorgeous surfer had also stoked my darkest desires, bringing all my fantasies to the surface. So Oxford wasn’t going well. Until, that is, he creeped from the shadows—desperate, sexy, dangerous and wanting a piece of me, literally!
He teased me with a taste of his carnal skills, leaving me burning with frustration then forced to stand by as he fought for his beliefs using my lust-addled body as his most powerful weapon.
Oh, my kidnapper knew just how to get what he wanted, giving me just what I needed, while hiding our relationship from the British foreign minister and police. Because sometimes two people are meant to be, even in the most unconventional circumstances and twisted situations. We could fight the world, but we couldn’t fight our passion.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Stockholm Surrender Copyright © 2012 Lily Harlem
Edited by Jillian Bell
Cover design by Syneca
Electronic book publication May 2012
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I sipped chilled beer, curled my toes into warm sand and laughed at the antics of the cute surfers down by the shoreline. They’d been entertaining us all evening with their daring stunts and crazy rides through the great curling waves.
“They’re nuts,” Trinny giggled as a human pyramid of six beefy guys tumbled into the shallow water with a splash of brilliant white foam.
“Totally,” I agreed, flashing a smile at the hunkiest one as he strode out of the waves—the one with a green-and-red dragon tattoo twisting around the golden flesh of his biceps. He’d been hanging around with the others the last couple of days, though always a little outside the group. He was quiet, but he seemed interested in me. His dark-blue, brooding eyes followed me around and a few times I’d turned and found him very close behind me. Yet he hadn’t actually spoken to me and I was getting frustrated by his lack of communication. But I’d made a decision that later, if they hung around after dark,
make the first move. Sidle up to him, turn on the charm and see if I could get my hands on his delectable body.
“I’m just nipping to the loo,” I said to Trinny. “Back in a sec.” I pushed up from the sand and stomped up the beach, adjusting my sarong over my bikini. I wandered behind Kangaroo Bill’s Beach Bar, a sunbaked wooden shack with a wonky sign.
I knew I had a blessed life and I also knew what an advantage it was having a father who was British foreign secretary—especially when my gap-year visa had run out three months ago and I still had so much to do in Oz, so many more new friends to hang out with.
The restrooms behind Kangaroo Bill’s were hardly salubrious. They backed on to rough scrubland with too many slithering things for my liking and a dodgy system for flushing.
I slipped in, performed a visual sweep for spiders that could bite in unmentionable places, did what I needed to do and scooted out.
As I stepped into the twilight shadows, something slipped over my head. A dense, velvet blackness engulfed me. My eyes were open but I couldn’t see. I went to scream but a hard pressure whacked against the scratchy material covering my mouth and nose. I dragged in thick air. There was a smell. Strong, chemical. It burnt my nostrils. I twisted my head but the material pressed even harder against me. A viselike grip wrapped around my body and my back was rammed against a warm, hard surface as my feet stumbled.
What was happening? Was I being attacked by an animal?
No. I lifted my arms and found hard, corded forearms holding me tight. I dug my nails in and clawed hot flesh. I squealed and attempted a backward shin kick against my attacker. But my foot would barely move. It wasn’t cooperating with my brain. The nerves refused to do as they were told.
The smell was like sucking in a rancid, drugged fog. My spine curled, suddenly watery and weak. The arm tightened around my waist. My legs were Jell-O, dissolving Jell-O. I couldn’t stay upright and my hands no longer gripped my attacker. Nausea swept my system, the smell was awful, sickening. My neck strained as I gagged at the disgusting flavor.
“Stop fucking wriggling.” A man’s voice, deep, husky, urgent—it was the last thing I heard before everything went quiet and still.
* * * * *
The midday heat was the first thing I noticed. Like thick syrup in the air, clinging to me, enveloping me. My head pounded, pulsing as though my brain had grown too big for my skull.
I was flat on my back on a hard mattress. I couldn’t remember how I’d gotten here.
Had I been out partying and collapsed back at the hostel totally inebriated?
I went to open my eyes, to search out water to rehydrate my poor, desiccated mouth, but I couldn’t see. I reached for whatever was blinding me but my arms were stuck, trapped above my head.
I tugged. Unyielding metal dug into my wrists and a solid clank rattled through the stifling air. I couldn’t see, but instinctively I twisted to look at what was securing me. My legs were thankfully free from restraint and I rolled on to my stomach and yanked my shoulders.
They ached but panic made it easy to ignore the shooting pains darting down my spine. I drew to all fours and pulled again. The same sharp metal on metal sound rang out. I tugged over and over, frantic. I pulled, shook, threw my body weight into it. Snarled, grunted, yelped.
“Hey, hey, calm down,” said a male voice.
“You’re not going to get them off, Penny. They’re proper ones, police ones, not something pink and fluffy from a sex shop.”
He was on my left. I skittered to the right and felt the edge of the bed below my knee.
He laughed, a coarse rumble of a sound that didn’t hold an iota of humor.
“Who are you?” My voice trembled, my mind whirred. “How do you know my name? Let me go.”
“Penny Tipping, daughter of Richard Tipping, it wasn’t hard to recognize your face off his website. How foolish of him to show off his beautiful daughter and boast how she’s having a wonderful, albeit illegally extended, gap year before law school.”
Anger surged side by side with fright.
Who did he think he was nosing into my life, kidnapping me and tying me up?
Because that was exactly what this was. Kidnap. “If you know who I am, then let me the hell go, ‘cause you’re in so much crap for this,” I said in what I hoped was an authoritative voice.
“But that’s the whole point.” The bed sagged, he’d sat down next to me. “It’s who you are that makes you so valuable to me.”
Through the sticky heat, I could feel his body warmth radiating toward me. I suddenly felt, if it were possible, even more vulnerable up on my hands and knees with my butt in the air. I was still wearing my bikini and it felt ridiculously flimsy, obscenely tiny.
I struggled into a half-sitting position with my arms bunched awkwardly behind me, straining my poor shoulder blades even more. “You have to let me go,” I said.
“I don’t have to do anything.” Big fingertips cupped my cheek and he traced my bottom lip with the pad of his thumb.
I twisted from his touch.
“Oh, you’re all coy now,” he said, “that wasn’t the vibe I’ve been getting over the last few days.”
My brain sprang to attention.
Had I seen him before, did I know my captor?
He laughed again, as though he could see and was amused by the turning cogs of my mind.
“Who are you?” I asked. My teeth clenched with frustration. I didn’t recognize his voice. He had an Aussie accent but that was as much as I could glean.
“You really want to know?”
“Yes. Yes I do.”
His hand left my face, smoothed to the base of my neck and his fingers curled against my clammy flesh as though he was about to strangle me. “But if you see me, if this all goes wrong…I may have to kill you.”
I swallowed a lump the size of a crocodile through the tight, scratching channel of my throat. But I needed to see him. I needed a face for my attacker. If he was going to kill me, I wanted to see my murderer’s eyes. “Take the blindfold off,” I said, hoping it wasn’t the worst mistake of my life.
He leaned in closer. Coconut sun cream mixed with fresh sweat invaded my nostrils and there was a hint of coffee on his breath as it washed over my cheek. He fiddled behind my head, tugged the roots of my short, blonde hair and undid whatever was bound around my skull.
Daylight hit me, a blinding flash of light. I blinked and squinted as my retinas shriveled. But I drove through the discomfort and stared straight into the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. They were the color of the ocean at its deepest. Perfectly clear and unblinking as they bored straight into mine.
But no, wait. I had seen those eyes before. They’d been following me like a hawk for the last few days at the beach and Kangaroo Bill’s.
“You!” I exclaimed. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” I yanked at the cuffs. “You could have just talked to me or bought me a beer, this is way too elaborate and quite honestly it’s freaky.”
He stood and rubbed his hand over his dragon tattoo. “You think this is because I fancy you?” he asked through a frown.
“Hell no.” His face hardened. “Of course it isn’t.” He moved to a rickety table. “Want a drink?”
He reached for a bottle of water and tipped it to my lips. I swallowed.
“This,” he said, “is about your father. Your father and my best mate, who just happens to be British.” He sat back down next to me.
“But…but, who… Do they know each other?”
“They do now, well, not personally, but your dear daddy received an email last night telling him his daughter would only be returned if James Hill got unwavering support from the British government.” He shrugged. “As well a generous fund for a human rights lawyer of course.”
“What?” Confusion washed through me.
He flicked his brows up. “I’d say James’ name has been swirling around your father’s head like yabbies in a creek for the last few hours.”
“Slow down, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Crabs, creeks?” My mind was whirring, this was blackmail and I was the hostage. “And what do you mean support from the government, human rights lawyer?”
“James was wrongly accused of drug smuggling in Thailand last year.” He pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. “He’s up for the death sentence.” His eyes opened and he looked straight at me. “I’m desperate, taking you was the only thing I could think of to get his case attention and get the money to pay for a damn good lawyer.”
“But maybe…” I pulled at the cuffs. The headboard rattled against the wall. “If you’d just spoken to me”
“Oh yeah, like someone all pretty and cute with a father who can do anything to make her world right would listen to my troubles?”
“You could have tried, I—”
A sudden dart of movement in the corner caught my attention. I looked over. My heart lurched. I screamed.
“What?” He spun around.
I rammed my knees into my chest to make myself into a ball. “Snake!”
But before the word had left my mouth, the snake was dead. He’d pulled a short, thick knife from his boot, flung it across the room and sliced the creature just below its head, pinning it to the floor.
“Bloody hell,” I gasped. “What are you, Crocodile Dundee or something?”
He shrugged. “Me and James spent some time in the outback.”
“Thank god, I have a real phobia of snakes.”
“I don’t like to kill things, but if I have to I will…” He reached forward again and his fingertips pressed into the hollow of my throat. They headed lower, over my sternum toward my cleavage. “I’d hate to kill you though, Penny. You really are exquisite.”
I pulled in a hot breath and looked at his eyes. They clouded over as he watched his hand move down my body. I wasn’t sure if he was still thinking about his incarcerated buddy or if it was lust causing his eyes to become glazed. The crazy thing was, I’d been obsessing about this man touching me for days, I just never thought it would be this way. Me chained to a bed, dead snake in the corner and my poor father frantic with worry.
His big fingers tickled under the soft material of my bikini top, brushed over the tip of my nipple and cupped the slight underside of my breast. My mouth opened, full of protests, questions… This was so wrong. But I stayed silent, unable to speak for fear of breaking the delicious darts of white-hot electricity searing across my chest and heading straight for my clit. His hand was so big, so gentle. Warm but with a small callus over the pad of his palm.
“I have to go,” he said, suddenly standing.
“Where?” I gulped in a breath.
“I’m not a rapist.” He took several hasty steps backward.
“No, but you are a kidnapper.”
He shoved a hand through his mop of sun-blond hair and strode from the room, muttering something I didn’t catch. The door slammed and his boots thudded into the distance.
* * * * *
The silence was deafening.
I trembled and shook. Soon the shaking became uncontrollable and the handcuffs rattled manically behind me.
I would die if he didn’t come back. I couldn’t even reach the bottle of water. I looked out the window. Acres of burning blue sky shimmered through the glass. Moisture built in my eyes, a sob escaped my throat. Before I knew it, I was heaving out uncontrollable wails that racked my ribs and squeezed my belly.
I felt sick, hot and terrified.
“Don’t cry…please don’t cry. I’m sorry, really I am.”
He was back.
Seeing him made me cry all the more. “Don’t go again,” I sobbed. “Don’t leave me here, I don’t want to be alone here.”
“Do you promise?” I blubbered.
“’Cause I’ll die if you leave me here, tied up in the middle of the desert.”
“I won’t, I promise… Hey, come here.” He wrapped his muscular arms around my shoulders and leaned his hot body into mine. Soft chest hairs brushed my cheek and he made soothing noises as he stroked my messy hair.
Gradually my sobs calmed and he used my forgotten sarong to wipe my face. “No more crying,” he said. “I didn’t want to make you cry.”