Authors: Scarlett Edwards
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #erotic romance
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When I wake up in a dark, unfamiliar room, I have no idea what's waiting for me in the shadows. My imagination conjures up demons of the worst kind.
Reality is much worse:
A collar with no leash. A prison with no walls. And a life stripped of meaning.
I am presented with a vile contract and asked to sign. It outlines the terms of my servitude. The only information I have about my captor are the two small letters inked at the bottom:
Armed with only my memories, I must do everything I can to avoid becoming ensnared in his twisted mind games. But in the end, it all comes down to one choice:
Resist and die.
Or submit, and sign my life away.
Uncovering You 7:
by Scarlett Edwards
contains scenes of intense emotional and physical abuse. Readers with sensitivity to such subjects are advised to proceed with caution.
I know why I was taken.
How much does that change things? I cannot say. I still have a weakness for Jeremy—when he is Jeremy. But when he's Stonehart? Well, that's when all of my hatred comes out.
I have to make myself detached, indifferent, and emotionally removed to make the proper decision on what to do next. Jeremy makes detachment hard. Stonehart makes it easy.
What side of him will I get? I don't know. Only one thing's for sure: right now, I'm in the poker game of my life... against the best player in the world.
We'll see who blinks first.
The young boy brought one trembling hand to the door. He pushed.
It did not budge.
Beyond the heavy oak, he could hear the woman’s sobs. His
sobs. They tore at him, because of what he could not do. He could not go to her. He could not comfort her.
He could not protect her.
Footsteps. From down the hall. The young boy’s head whipped around. His heart caught in his throat.
He was not supposed to be here. It was forbidden, for many different reasons, but only one was pertinent:
Because his father had said so.
Frantic, he searched for an escape. His eyes scanned the empty corridor. There was only one way out: Down the stairs, away from the attic.
Where the footsteps were coming from.
He looked for a hiding place. An open fire roared on the other side of the room. It was a grand room, and rarely used. However, the servants always ensured that no room in the large, soulless mansion lay neglected.
The footsteps were getting louder. The boy could still hear his mother’s crying on the other side of the door. He gave one last, futile push—even though he knew it was useless—and scampered to hide behind the large armchair by the fire.
He peaked from behind the chair back at the entrance to the room. He could see the shadow cast by the person climbing the steps. It grew larger and larger. Fear constricted the boy’s throat. He clutched the book he was holding to his chest like a shield of armor.
But he knew, deep inside, that nothing could protect him.
“Je…remy…” His brother’s singsong voice came to his ears. “Je…remy…. Little Jeremy, where did you get to?”
The boy winced. He hated that name. He hated what it represented, what it meant. He hated what it reminded him of. He would never be the match of either of his brothers.
He saw his brother’s large shape emerge from the flight of stairs. If Jeremy was scared before, one look at his brother was enough to make him terrified.
Robert, at nineteen, was already a full-grown man. He’d be turning twenty in a week. Wide shoulders gave prominence to a bulky frame that suited him perfectly for rugby. A few days of neglecting the razor had left a thick beard on his cheeks. His hair, wild and disheveled, betrayed what he’d been doing earlier with one of the housemaids.
Before fancy struck him to seek out a victim for the night.
The boy did not know why his father tolerated Robert’s nocturnal activities. They were cruel, sadistic. More than once in the past year, Jeremy had woken up to find the family dog beaten within an inch of its life. Each time, he had nursed it back to health—only to have it happen again a few weeks later.
Eventually, the poor beast disappeared. Nobody spoke of it. In fact, Jeremy seemed to be the only one who took notice.
There were other incidents. One month ago, Jeremy discovered a shoebox wrapped in gift paper waiting for him at the breakfast table. He had woken late, and missed the rest of the family. He was alone when he opened it. Inside, he found—his stomach recoiled at the memory—six little parakeets, with their necks horribly twisted, lying in a bed of straw.
He’d brought the box to his father. He’d expected some sort of punishment for Robert, hopefully of the kind he’d received so often…but all he got was an angry scolding for interrupting his father when he was working.
“They’re birds, Jeremy,” his father had said. “Dead ones, at that. They can’t harm you.” Jeremy remembered his father’s sneer. “Don’t tell me you’re frightened of the dead?”
Jeremy closed the box and threw it out. But the image of those six helpless parakeets haunted his dreams for weeks.
“Jeremy!” His name was barked out like a command. “I know you’re here. Show yourself. Father’s angry that you’ve disobeyed his command.”
The young boy closed his eyes and pushed his back into the chair, wishing desperately to meld into the fabric. Robert’s heavy footsteps echoed like artillery shells as he crossed the room. He stopped before the only door and tried the handle. It didn’t move. Robert pressed one ear to the wood. Hearing exactly the same sounds that had lured Jeremy up here, he gave a derisive scoff.
Jeremy pressed his small body tight to the floor. He crawled beneath the chair that he hoped would be his salvation.
Even in his young mind, however, he knew it would not help. He knew that he was only delaying the inevitable. He knew that he was not the master of his own fate. His whole life had been decided for him when he had arrived last, and unwanted, into this powerful family.
“No?” Jeremy could see his brother’s booted feet. They moved around once in a slow circle, and then stopped. The toes pointed directly at the chair. “Then it looks like I’ll have to find you. I warn you, you’re only making it worse.”
Jeremy ducked his head down, pressing his forehead to the floor, and closed his eyes. His whole body shook with fear.
The impact of Robert’s boots against the hardwood floor told Jeremy exactly how close his brother was. Twenty feet. Ten. And then…
A hand reached down and clasped Jeremy’s ankles. “Gotcha, you little fuck,” Robert grunted.
The next thing Jeremy knew, he was being dragged out from his worthless hiding spot.
He kicked against his brother. Robert caught his other foot in that impossibly strong grip. Jeremy struggled, trying to break free, trying to get away. It did him no good. He was small. His brother was big. He was weak. His brother was strong. He was just a kid, while his brother…well, his brother was a man.
The one thing Jeremy would not do was scream. He would never scream. He would not call for help. Not because he knew that help would not come—that much was obvious—but because screaming would be the final admission of defeat. And while his brother could do whatever he wanted with Jeremy’s body, he would never get the satisfaction of knowing how much he affected Jeremy’s
He grunted and kicked and squirmed as his brother pulled him free. Jeremy’s book lay forgotten under the chair.
Robert sat atop him, making it impossible for Jeremy to breathe. He grinned down like a madman.
“What are you doing up here, huh, kid?” he asked. A fist collided with Jeremy’s ribs. Pain exploded up the side of his body. “Looking for mommy?” Another punch. Another searing jolt of pain. “Well, guess what, you useless cunt? Mommy’s not here!”
A flurry of punches rained down on Jeremy’s body. He tried to shield himself from the onslaught.
Robert grabbed Jeremy’s hair and jerked his head up. The sharp agony splintering down his spine was almost enough for Jeremy to break his vow of silence.
Almost. But not quite.
“What do you have to say for yourself, huh?” Robert demanded. “What are you going to tell father when I let him know where I found you?”
Robert spat in his face. Jeremy flinched.
Then, the weight on his body was being lifted. Jeremy gasped for air, filling his lungs with the precious nectar.
“Get up,” Robert demanded. He kicked Jeremy in the spleen. “Get up! We’re going straight to father. He’s not going to be happy with you when… Hello! What’s this?”
No, please don’t…
“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Robert laughed. “No way. No fucking way. You still keep this garbage?”
He leaned down and picked up the book that had been exposed when the chair skidded to one side during the struggle.
Robert held the book high. The front cover fell open. All the pictures that Jeremy loved, that he treasured, flew by as the pages rifled down. The bright blue skies. The green pastures.
The colorful dragons.
“This,” Robert announced, “is utter garbage. Father told you to get rid of it months ago.” His eyes widened, and he turned toward the open fire. Jeremy could see the idea forming in his brother’s head.
“No!” Jeremy said. “Robert, give it back. It-it-it-it-it’s mine!”
Robert mimicked. “I’m going to do what father should have done long ago. I’m going to—“
! You put that book down.”
Jeremy’s head whipped toward the sound of the voice. There, standing in the middle of the open doorway, was his mother. An angry red welt marred half her face, making it soft and puffy. It would bruise horribly by the morning.
Robert froze, halfway through the motion of raising his hand. He glared at their mother. He took one look at Jeremy, another back at her, and then threw the book across the floor.
Jeremy scrambled to pick it up.
father gives you,” Robert spat. “Ungrateful whore.”
And then he stomped out of the room.
Jeremy waited until the footsteps were out of hearing before running and flinging himself into his mother’s arms. Even her gentle hug hurt his new injuries. But Jeremy knew that she could not have known what Robert had done. That only left one answer for why she held him so loosely.
She was harboring similar ones.
“There, there,” she cooed in his ear. “Shhh, my little prince. Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Everything is okay. Mommy’s here. You’re safe. You’re safe.”
The little boy did not know that he was crying. He’d always tried to make himself strong, to make himself appear impressive in his father’s eyes.
But sometimes, the façade became too much to bear.
“You brought our book.” His mother smoothed his hair and touched his cheek. “Would you like me to read it to you again?”
Jeremy bit his lip to stop from blubbering. He nodded.
His mother smiled. The beauty of that smile shone through the ugliness of what his father had done.
“Okay,” she said. She took his hand. “Okay, let’s go to my room.”
I spend the weekend in a state of semi-delirious shock.
Jeremy takes care of me. That sounds like such an unbelievable, ridiculous thing to say. That I would
the man whose plot for vengeance, whose focus on me began over something I had no responsibility for to care for me when the truth finally came out…it makes me seem weak, pathetic, frail.