My dick knew better than to act on its own. It’d been taught to never react. Thoughts of release and sex were beaten out of us at a very early age. And if we disobeyed—well…
The fear had kept me impotent, but this woman—this magical infuriating woman—had graced me with a fucking hard-on. I gritted my teeth, revelling in the sensitivity as I swelled, thickened, and ached with unfamiliar need. The flush of heat boiled the ice in my blood, leaving me steaming, angry, and on the cusp of something entirely alien.
Two years I’d waited for the thawing, and for two years it never happened. But tonight. Tonight, all thanks to one woman, I might’ve found the chink—the weakness—in my brainwashing.
She bent her spine, investigating the artwork closely. My balls drew tighter, throbbing.
Her body beckoned me. She was different, elusive, unobtainable. And my cock wanted unobtainable. For the first time since my life of slavery began, it came alive between my legs.
I didn’t think I could stand the craving. It was too strong—too demanding.
I trembled for an entirely different reason. I wanted to scream at her for having such power over me while at the same time bow at her feet for freeing me from the cage I existed in.
Then came the fear.
The anxious sweats at misbehaving, the knowledge I’d disobeyed a direct order. Punishment would be horrific.
They’re not here.
I closed my eyes, trying to get a grip—re-centring myself.
“Hey. Umm, are you okay?”
My eyes flew wide only to be trapped by her half-angry, half-concerned gaze. Her scrumptious body wrapped in gold and silver chased away my fear and my mouth watered at the thought of taking her.
Pity filled me. Pity for her because now that I’d tasted what she could do for me, I wasn’t letting her go. She wouldn’t be going home tonight. Or the next or the next or the next. She’d be in my bed. She’d open her legs and I’d—
Goddammit, I’m acting as if I’m fucking fifteen.
Trouble was I had a lifetime of lust fizzing and bursting inside. Two orgasms I’d enjoyed since I hit puberty. Only two. I was fucking desperate for a third.
“I’m fine. Why?” I eyed her provocative dress, drinking in her gentle curves; filling my mind with images that any man starved of sex would imagine. I wanted to run a tongue down her cleavage. I wanted to taste her skin before sinking deep, deep inside her.
I’d never felt this way. Never.
She stood taller, baring her shoulders with fearlessness and a fine edge of resentment. “You’re shivering. And frankly you look sick.” Waving her hand, she scowled. “Not that I care if you’re sick, of course. Look, I’m done with all of this. Give me back my knife and let me go.” One hand went to her side, rubbing where I’d placed the blade. “You’re a bastard for forcing me against my will. If Clue hadn’t been there, such a tiny weapon wouldn’t have stopped me from ripping off your balls.”
First image into my head was her tiny hands cupping my aching balls.
Second image was the ludicrous suggestion she could even touch me without my permission.
I couldn’t stop it. Cold laughter erupted from my mouth. I froze, cursing this woman. Cursing myself for these new, strange feelings. I never laughed. I never touched. I never got hard. I never wanted to fuck.
She was a witch. She was magical. She would fix me.
“How much was Corkscrew going to pay you for tonight?”
Her nostrils flared. “Excuse me?”
“How much? To fuck you?”
She shuddered. “That’s what you think I am? I thought you were joking before.” She shook her head, a low noise coming from her throat. “Unbelievable. You’re a bastard and an asshole. For your information, he’s my best-friend’s boyfriend. He’s a nice guy—unlike you.” She paced on the landing, her dress whispering around her legs with every step. “Fucking unbelievable. I want to leave. I’m done talking to you.”
My muscles shivered, feeding off her temper, letting her spirit clash with mine. Another lesson I’d been taught: leech the feelings off another before stealing everything. It allowed me to feel their fear, live their terror—the only thing I could get in those days.
Dragging my eyes over her body, my fucking cock hardened to a rock. Her breasts were squished inside the lace of the dress, her waist so tiny I could crush the life out of her with just my hands. Her legs…
The moment my eyes landed on her legs, memories swamped me.
“See her? The prima ballerina?”
My eyes had trouble focusing through the binoculars, but I could make out a girl in a tutu with legs that looked matchstick thin and so easily breakable. “Yes.”
“She’s the target tonight when her father and mother are asleep.”
I’d long ago stopped asking why. I never got a reply, only a swat around the head, and any fear that my soul was destined for hell had been purged from me in the early days of training.
The pat on the back made me curl in horror. I hated people touching me. It always brought pain to me or pain to others.
“Stay here until 3 a.m., then proceed.”
“—and just because you own this illegal place doesn’t give you the right to hurt me!” Zel snapped.
I blinked, trying to seem like I’d heard the entire string of obscenities she’d no doubt thrown my way.
Dragging hands over my face, I said, “I’m not going to hurt you.” Much. My voice was deep and gravelly. I hated flashbacks. They came at the worst times. Ironically, my body had been trained to perfection—I could kill in hundreds of different ways. I could mutilate and massacre with an artistry only learned from a lifetime of tutelage, but the weakest part of me was my brain.
Try as I might to block the nightmares and visions, they broke through randomly, shoving me back into horror. However, this one had done me a favour.
I was no longer hard.
What the fuck were we talking about?
Ah, yes. “Ten thousand is the going rate for a woman of talents. Not a bad income for a night’s earnings.” I licked my lips. “I could be persuaded to go to twenty thousand if you’re so repulsed by me.”
Her eyes flickered to my scar. “I told you. I’m not a whore. You can keep your money as there’s no way in hell I’m letting you fuck me.” She backed up to the balustrade, her face paling from cream to white.
The hair on my forearms stood up. I inched forward, trapping her between my body and the glass. A metre existed between us, but the air hummed, arching and spitting with the same delicious energy I’d felt when I’d touched her.
“Fine. You’re not a whore. But if you were…inclined…to agree to a one off deal. To let me, as you eloquently put it, fuck you—what would you charge?” My heart raced at the thought of peeling the lace off her shoulders.
I took another tiny step forward. “I’m warning you now, I won’t take no for an answer. I haven’t wanted a woman, any woman, as much as I want you. I’m going to have you, so stop dancing around the fact, hoping you can get free, and agree to a figure.”
My cock thickened again at the thought of touching her—relishing being allowed such a simple, but miraculous thing. I would savour every inch of her skin. I’d caress her with every fingertip, my tongue, my entire fucking body.
Zel shook her head, loose curls haloing her head. “Nothing. Because there is no deal. Back up and let me leave. Go and sleep with one of your employees. You don’t need me.”
Her denial made me want her all the more. It was torture. It was heaven. “You’re wrong. I do need you. I wasn’t lying when I said you were different. I don’t understand it, but I’m fucking done pretending to be human when I’m not. I need you to let me be free. I need to fuck you.”
Her skin flushed and she moved suddenly, darting to the side to reach the stairs. She was fast, but I was faster. I placed myself squarely in her path, gritting my teeth ready for consequences. If she touched me we’d both be in trouble.
She careened to a stop, unsteady in her high heels. “Move.”
“No. Not until you agree.” I took another careful step toward her. My mouth watered at the thought of kissing, licking, biting. I’d never been so irrational or so sure. Something about this woman made my lifeless cock sit up and fucking beg.
“There’s always a deal. For the right price,” I whispered, slowly closing the small distance between us.
Zel’s neck rippled as she swallowed hard. “I’m not for sale.” The slight tremor in her voice stroked my need, making me burn. She lied. She might not know it, but she’d just admitted she would sell herself. To me.
My stomach flipped, filling me with edgy thirst. Thirst to have her.
I murmured, “I have a gift. A gift that tells me secrets that people think they hide so well. Call it sixth sense, or a hunter’s perception, but I know things about you already. I know when you’re lying.”
She bit her lip, eyes flashing with defiance. “You don’t know anything about me.”
Bowing my head, I inhaled her soft floral scent. Lily of the valley. A plant we cultivated at the facility—a pretty little flower whose berries were poison. A convenient method of killing with anonymity.
If I tasted her would she poison me?
“I know you have two weaknesses.” I’d catalogued them, committed to memory just like I’d been trained. It wasn’t a gift, mainly just good observation. I knew what would bring out the ultimate amount of pain if I ever needed to.
One: she had a silver scar, long since healed, marring her beauty directly beneath her right eye. It’d been deep and long, but sewn together neatly, so it was barely noticeable under the makeup she wore.
Two: her right ear had been torn. Healed and stitched, a small triangle of cartilage was missing from the top.
The imperfections made me frown. I wanted to know who hurt her. I wanted to kill them.
She huffed, inching along the balcony to avoid my advance. “You can make up stuff all you want, but you’re wrong on one count: I’m not for sale.” She bared her teeth. “Back off.”
“No.” I crowded her against the glass. “I want you, and I always get what I want.”
She stood taller, arching her back, looking like she’d sprout wings and take off from the mezzanine at any moment. “Well, unless you’re in the habit of rape, you won’t get what you want this time.” Her hands flew up to shove me back, but I dodged to the side. Fear overrode my need, beating a fast tattoo in my chest.
I couldn’t risk her touching me.
Her eyes fell to my scar again, making me very aware of her perfection compared to my grotesqueness. Of course, that’s why she’d refused. If I’d been whole and not disfigured, I doubted she would deny me. I might know nothing of women, but I knew she suffered the same pull, the same need.
I captured her elbow, quivering thanks to the charge between us. “Would you fuck me if you didn’t find me so repulsive?” My entire body erupted from the single contact. It twisted my gut, scrambled my brain.
I would never be good enough. Not for this flawless creature who had the power to free me.
But that was a lie. She did have flaws.
She portrayed a woman who had everything and needed nothing. Someone strong and independent, but that was false. She was damaged. I might wear my mistakes for the world to see, but it didn’t make hers any less visible.
The anger on her face disappeared, replaced by tenderheartedness for just a second. “Is that what you think? That I’m refusing you because of your disfigurement? You aren’t repulsive.”
I decided then and there I hated her compassion—I preferred her anger. I deserved it. I didn’t deserve empathy.