Somewhere in his mind, Caleb knew the incident was painful for Rafiq, but as Caleb didn’t have a mother or any siblings he knew of, it was difficult to wrap his mind around Rafiq’s emotions. With the exception of Rafiq’s thirst for revenge, which Caleb understood empirically, he often wondered what Rafiq was dealing with emotionally.
Rafiq had given him a long speech about family, loyalty, duty and honor. He said he had had responsibilities to his father and to his country.
“I expect obedience, Caleb. I expect your loyalty. Anyone who betrays me will only do it once. Do you understand?” Rafiq had said ominously.
“Yes, Rafiq, I understand,” Caleb had replied.
Caleb finally returned from his far off thoughts and began to dry off and dress. It was going to be a shitty day. That much, was obvious.
A knock on the door drew his attention. He answered and Celia immediately cast her eyes downward and held a deep curtsy.
“¿Qué quieres?” he asked more harshly than he intended.
Celia stood slowly, eyeing him with confusion, but then explained her master, Felipe, had requested an audience with him.
Caleb reluctantly agreed to come down stairs after he was fully dressed. He also reminded her to please feed Kitten. He wouldn’t be returning to her room for the day and he didn’t want her starved. Celia nodded, gave him what he interpreted to be a judgmental look and walked away. Caleb slammed the door behind her.
Caleb dressed quickly, but not because he was in any particular hurry. Afterward, he descended the stairs and met Celia at the bottom. He noted the stern expression and instinctively knew it had to do with the state in which he’d left Kitten. However, he had better things to do than indulge the scorn of someone else’s fuck toy.
“Take me to him,” he said.
Celia eyed him with open disdain, but still dipped her head in acknowledgment and led the way to Felipe’s library. It was the same room in which he’d first encountered Rafiq, and for a moment, he had to wonder if it was truly, Felipe, who would greet him when he entered. He squared his shoulders and prepared himself mentally for any eventuality.
Celia knocked on the library door and waited for Felipe’s recognition before she glared at Caleb one final time and walked away in a huff.
Fuck you, too.
“Come in, Señor Caleb. Let us have a conversation,” Felipe said jovially. Whatever was up Celia’s ass, Felipe didn’t seem to share it. “May I offer you a scotch?” Caleb entered the library and took the beverage Felipe offered.
“Gracias,” Caleb said and took a seat in a reading chair near one of the book shelves. He refused to sit across from Felipe’s desk.
“De nada,” Felipe replied and joined Caleb by the books.
Caleb got comfortable in his seat and sipped from his scotch. It was perhaps too early to be drinking, but he reasoned it had already been a long day. He was eager to get this conversation with Felipe over with and find more interesting diversions for the day. “Forgive me, Felipe, but why am I here?” Caleb got to the point.
Felipe smiled and sipped from his glass. “I only want to talk. You and your slave have been here for quite some time and we have shared very few conversations.”
Caleb sighed, but tried to keep it respectful, “What did you want to discuss?”
Felipe leaned back. “So serious, my friend. How are things progressing with the girl?” Felipe asked. He was too casual for Caleb’s taste.
“Only, fine?” Felipe seemed incredulous.
Caleb’s face warmed with a building anger. “Felipe, I realize you’re a friend of Rafiq’s, but I fail to see how the girl is any of your business. As you’ve said, we’ve been here for a while, why the sudden interest?”
“Kitten,” Felipe said through an obnoxiously saccharine smile, “The girl’s name is ‘Kitten’ is it not?”
“Yes,” Caleb said through gritted teeth.
“Well, Caleb,” Felipe’s expression suddenly turned sinister, “Kitten is your business, but Celia is mine and seeing as you’ve involved yourself in my business, I don’t see my questions as an intrusion in yours.”
Caleb had expected this sooner. “What do you want, Felipe?”
“Well, to be quite honest Caleb, you’ve overstepped yourself and done my house a great dishonor. My purpose here is to let you make it right.” Fire spread through Caleb’s body and anger flashed in his eyes.
“To what dishonor, are you referring?”
“You know the one,” Felipe said. Malice edged his tone.
“I did nothing out of the ordinary, and I had no idea you were so enamored with your property. You obviously don’t feel as strongly about your horses. I believe I rode one of them once as well.” Caleb was purposely smug.
Felipe’s entire body tensed with rage, but he smiled nonetheless, “You should be careful, Caleb,” Felipe said calmly, “I’m a very dangerous man in some circles and I happen to know a great many things about a great many people. Including you.”
“Watch yourself,” Caleb said through clenched teeth.
“I’ve been watching, Caleb. I’ve been watching you. And, Kitten,” Felipe said. Suddenly, he was the smug one. “I wonder what Rafiq would think if he saw what you’ve been up to.”
“What the hell are you talking about,” Caleb growled.
“Cameras, Caleb. A man like me, in the business I’m in, I can trust no one. And so, I watch. Everyone,” Felipe said and smiled.
Caleb’s heart hammered fiercely in his chest, but he did his best to remain calm. He thought about what had happened between him and Kitten since they had arrived. He thought of all the things he’d confessed to her, believing they were alone. It was enough to have him seething with rage and thrumming with anxiety. “What do you want, Felipe?”
Felipe shook his head, “I really didn’t want it to go this way, Caleb. Truthfully, I wish you no ill will. I only wanted to talk. You’re the one who made this nasty.”
Caleb tried his hand at feigning remorse, “My apologies. I’ve had a bad morning.”
Felipe smiled, “Yes, I know. However, I plan to keep what I know to myself. I only wish for you to grant me a favor.”
Caleb’s jaw hurt from how hard he was grinding his teeth, “What favor?”
“I’m having a party tomorrow night. I would love it if you and Kitten would attend,” Felipe said cordially.
“That’s it? You want us to attend?” Caleb didn’t buy it.
Felipe quirked an eyebrow. “Well…seeing as you’ve made use of my Celia, I was hoping I could borrow yours for the evening.”
“She isn’t mine and you know she’s a virgin,” Caleb said.
“Yes, but I also know she has other talents that don’t require her to be…” he pretended to struggle for a word, “compromised.”
Caleb wanted nothing more than to grab Felipe by the throat and choke the life out of him in a slow and satisfying fashion, but he knew it would only make matters worse. “I want whatever you have and your assurances Rafiq will hear nothing on the matter.”
Felipe smiled and nodded. “Of course, Caleb. I know you care for the girl. Rafiq won’t like it, but I understand. She’s quite…intriguing.”
“Yes,” Caleb ground out.
“She loves you,” Felipe said.
Caleb side swept those words. “Will Rafiq be at the party? He’s been difficult to get in touch with lately,” he said instead.
“Hmm,” Felipe said, “these things are always so unfortunate, when they happen.”
Caleb watched the other man very carefully. “What are you getting at, Felipe?”
“Rafiq’s been pulling away from you.” His expression was amazed when Caleb didn’t respond. “Are you so involved with your plaything that you haven’t you noticed?”
Caleb set his drink down. He didn’t believe it. The mere implication was untenable. “The auction is in a little over two weeks, he’s been preoccupied. I know he’ll be here any day. I’m asking you if he’ll be at the party tomorrow night.”
“Yes,” Felipe said ominously. “I believe he will. Don’t you think it would be a perfect opportunity to showcase all the progress you’ve made with the girl?”
“Yes,” Caleb whispered. His thoughts were upstairs with Kitten and his chest felt simultaneously empty and too full. Their time was coming to an end.
No, it’s already over. Let her go, Caleb.
Caleb stood and left the room. He’d had enough bullshit confrontations for one day.
Two in the morning. Caleb stood outside Kitten’s door absorbing the knowledge he didn’t have much of a choice in what had to happen next. After his confrontation with Felipe he’d spent the day going through his room. He’d found several cameras and still could not be certain he’d found them all. Felipe was a sick bastard, an obvious voyeur with no sense of decency or shame.
Caleb had half expected someone to try and stop him from shattering every lens he found, but no one did. In fact, everyone had stayed away from him. Caleb wasn’t sure if it was a good thing. He would have loved to take his frustration out on someone.
After he was reasonably sure he’d done away with the cameras, he thought long and hard about everything Felipe could potentially know. The answers were nauseating. He’d found cameras in the shower, discreetly hidden in the vent. What he’d assumed to be a screw holding the lights above the bathroom mirror had turned out to be a camera. Felipe had them everywhere. He’d seen Caleb masturbate, fuck, and even punish himself.
Caleb decided he’d kill Felipe when the time was right. For now, Felipe held strong cards and Caleb had none to play. Rafiq would be returning tomorrow night. He would want to see Kitten and make sure she was ready. He would want Caleb and Kitten to return to Pakistan with him and prepare for the auction in Karachi.
It was all coming to an end and there was nothing Caleb could do to prevent the inevitable. There was nothing he could do unless he was prepared to surrender everything he knew, perhaps even his very life. Caleb had struggled too long and fought too hard to survive. Forfeiting now was unacceptable.
Caleb opened the door slowly and entered Kitten’s room. He noticed immediately she hadn’t turned on her nightlight which was uncharacteristic of her and made the room unusually dark. He took a moment to adjust to the dark though he didn’t really need it. He’d been in her room enough times to have memorized the layout. He came close to the bed and heard Kitten breathing. For a moment he thought about leaving the room and letting her sleep in peace, but he steadied himself – it had to be now.
He opened the curtains and let the moonlight come spilling into the room and onto her sleeping form. He studied her intently and noticed her eyes were red and puffy. Her body was wrapped around one pillow and her hair lay across another, the comforter pulled up to her chin. He reached out and touched her hair. Kitten sighed fretfully and buried herself deeper in her blanket.
“Be gentle,” she’d said, as he’d looked into her eyes earlier. He lifted a corner of the comforter and encountered her naked shoulder and a little lower, her bare back and ribs.
“If only I could be,” he whispered into the dark, certain she couldn’t hear him. He threw back her blanket and lust tugged sharp in his belly.
Kitten woke, startled and naked, before she sat up and covered herself with a pillow. “What’s going on?” She rubbed her eyes.
“Come with me,” he said with enough bravado to let her know he was in no mood for protests. She hesitated for only a moment, then cast the pillow aside and stood in front of him with a questioning expression. He looked into her eyes steadily and saw the questions disappear as she looked toward her feet.