He would get access; he would find the best way to take from Vladek, all that he loved and cherished before killing him. Vladek’s death would not be as quick as Narweh’s. There would be no .44 Magnum to the face to end it hastily. Rafiq and Caleb had waited twelve years to taste revenge; they’d savor it accordingly.
In the meantime, Caleb expected the girl to behave as the survivor she was. Then, when it was all said and done. They would each, Caleb, Rafiq, and the girl, find a way to move on. Alone.
Fully dressed, he grabbed the key from the back pocket of his other pants and put it into his current pair. Then Caleb ran his fingers through his hair as he assessed his reflection. His lashes were too long, his mouth too full, his entire visage was contrary to his unquestionable masculinity. He was too damn…pretty and that had always been his problem. Had he some physical defect, however small, his entire life would have turned out differently.
Heading out the door, he took Dirty Harry’s gun with him; he needed the cold, heavy metal to remind him he wasn’t “pretty” anymore. He grabbed his jacket, pulling it on and situating his holster. Without looking back, he closed the door silently behind him. He walked down the corridor, past the antique sofa, toward the front door.
The dim setting of the lights in the house, at this time of night, was functional and for precaution. No one knew they were here, except those that had traveled with him, but Caleb trusted them less than he did strangers. Approaching the door, his eyes once again locked onto the girl’s bedroom door.
He had six weeks with her. Six weeks to make her understand all that would be required of her. Then, it was on to Pakistan to meet Rafiq. Given his unyielding nature, he would be less than kind to her if she did not obey the moment he ordered. Vladek even less so. She had to be ready to conform, to survive.
Caleb walked through the foyer, his shoes making soft whispers across the ceramic floor. As he opened the door, the night passed through him. He paused on the threshold. Suddenly he wasn’t restless, thirsty or horny. For a moment, he didn’t want to leave. But he knew he needed to, so he did.
The night was warm, but comfortable and some of Caleb’s uneasiness began to subside. The unpaved, dirt streets of the village appeared all but deserted. No sounds could be heard from inside the small, concrete or wood homes of the villagers. As Caleb walked, he paid close attention to the soft, nearly indiscernible thud of his steps meeting the packed dirt. Against the stillness of the night, the sound of the crickets rubbing their legs together furiously seemed a thundering sound, but a nice accompaniment to his steps.
The farther Caleb progressed down the road, the less he heard the crickets and his steps, until finally they were completely drowned out by music and noise. The bar in this piece of shit town was indeed open. Caleb’s mouth tilted up in the corners.
It was raining outside. I could hear it. Taking a deep breath, I slowly opened my eyes, forgetting for a moment where I was, but then the sadness set in. I didn’t exactly know what day it was. He kept me in the dark, always, with only the nightlights to guide my way around the room. I didn’t know why he did things this way. If it was to disorient me, it was working. I never realized how the inability to account for time could wreak havoc on ones grasp of reality. It was easy to get lost in the endless dark and passing hours.
I thought a lot about home, about my mother and what she may or may not be going through. Perhaps she was sorry for all the times she never told me she loved me. Perhaps she regretted never giving me those hugs I had needed so desperately. Now it was too late. I wondered if they had any idea where I might be or if the police had already told my mother hopes of finding me were gone. I counted the days by inspecting my meals. I had eaten six breakfasts so far. I wanted to go home.
The day, hours, whatever length of time had passed after that first beating had created a shift in the relationship between my captor and me. While I slept, he had made himself the master of my fate, and I could do nothing but allow it. I opened my eyes that next day and he was just coming into my room with the jar of cold cream he had used on me after my punishment. His face had been more serious. Devoid of the constant hint of his smile. I had known instantly not to test his patience.
I had slept on my stomach, exactly as he had left me, without the strength or desire to move. My skin, from shoulder to ankle, and across my backside especially, felt painfully tight and itchy. Whenever I moved my head, my shoulders burned and ached. It was a pain that extended all the way down my legs.
He had stood above me next to the bed, breathing deeply and exhaling slowly. I wondered if he felt any shame over what he had done to me. “Can you get up?” he inquired. His voice sounded detached, unconcerned with my answer.
“I don’t think so,” I’d croaked, eyes stinging with tears. “But I hurt Master.” I’d kept my head down, hoping he understood how difficult it had just been for me to address him as he wished.
His voice had lowered, grown softer, “I bet it does, but look what it’s done for your manners.” I’d clenched my jaw, saying nothing.
Now, all these days later, I both dreaded and eagerly anticipated his company, if for no other reason than I loathed my solitude and the dark.
I slid out of bed and for the first time in a few days didn’t feel that horrible stinging pain. I stood up carefully, muscles contracting tightly and resisting. I winced, pain echoing through me.
The days, I don’t know exactly how many, perhaps three, following that first horrid encounter I’d spent lying on my stomach with Caleb at my side. He had helped me get up when I needed to use the restroom, denying me privacy under the guise of helpfulness. He’d bathed me, fed me, and placed each piece of food on my lips for me to take carefully from his hand. I felt like a doll at times. When I resisted or showed hesitation, his bare palm slapping against my raw backside became encouragement enough to obey. Surrendering my will, that was the price I paid.
Cold cream was applied to my skin at least twice a day and it always stirred the strangest emotions in me. He touched me while he rubbed the cream in. Though he tried to make it seem casual, to me it felt specific, calculated. He would start at my ankles, which usually made me bite my lip from the pure ecstasy of it. I’d never had anyone massage me before and I had never known my ankles to need so much attention. When he touched me, he made things feel better that I wasn’t aware felt so bad. I lay perfectly still, trying as hard as I could, not to give him any indication that his ministrations made me heady. Then he would grab hold of my calves and knead his fingers into my flesh until I let out a long, low, sigh into my pillow. He always somehow managed to pry my legs ever so slightly apart, rubbing so close to my nether regions I struggled not to yell, ‘Stop!’ He did, however, speak to me whenever he massaged my buttocks. I think it thrilled him to absolutely no end to make me uncomfortable. One day it was made all the worse for his incessant questioning.
“So you’ve never been with a man.” This was more of a statement and less of a question, as if he were speaking of things he already knew. I wondered how I made the fact so obvious.
I shook my head quickly. “No Master.” But I had lied.
I had been with a woman before, well, a girl anyway. I don’t know if I would define it as sex, mostly she let me touch her, kiss her. Nicole and I had never been with a boy before. I guess we were experimenting with things. Her skin was so soft, pink, and she always smelled mildly of vanilla. I loved the feel of her small nipples getting hard on my tongue as I sucked on her gently, occasionally nibbling at her with my teeth. She wasn’t fully developed yet. Her breasts were much smaller than mine, but they were no less beautiful. Her mouth was very different than my boyfriend’s. It was softer, smoother, and more delicate. It had been strange to be thinking of her while he rubbed me. A little knot of pressure formed between my legs and for just a moment, while my skin yielded to his hands and my mind delved into fantasies, I wanted him to touch me there.
“Have you ever touched yourself?” Face burning I looked away and hid my face in my hands as well as my pillow. He let out that taunting laugh of his, but didn’t force me to answer. I was becoming accustomed to his ministrations, believing them more routine than intimate. Other things still made me uncomfortable. The nakedness was definitely something to get used to. I became thankful that no one but Caleb walked in and out of my room but even he made me incredibly shamefaced. Clothes of any sort were far too uncomfortable to wear. Even the comforter, at once so soft against my skin, felt abrasive now that I was healing. I hated sitting on it when I took my meals.
I walked into the bathroom, still bare and prison-like and looked into the mirror. My bruise had faded to a light green, my face no longer puffy and my hair a mess. I stared for a long moment at myself. Who was this girl looking back out? I lifted my hair to stare at the collar around my neck. I had to admit, the effect was arresting. I looked like some exotic creature captured in the rainforests of Brazil. I asked myself for the millionth time what Caleb’s motives were for keeping me prisoner. I was naked around him daily and yet he made no move to take full advantage of how vulnerable I was. I was at his complete mercy. There were times when it seemed as though he struggled to restrain himself, but he did, always. I slipped my index finger through the loop in front, tugged on it, very secure.
The wrist-straps were also a part of my permanent attire as they too were secured with locks. I might have tried to cut them off, but there wasn’t anything in the room to do it with. The restraints made me feel more naked somehow; they drew attention to the fact that I had nothing else on. I turned around, surveying, as I did daily, the wide array of fading belt marks.
The door opened. The ‘master’ came in with breakfast. I stepped into the doorway of the bathroom, staring at him as he shut the door with his foot. I swear, the man never slept. I wasn’t sure what time it was, but either way it struck me as too early for him to be showered and dressed. He always dressed as though he was at a party or going out for the evening, never casual or comfortable. Except of course, the day we met. I jumped when he spoke.
“Why are you covering yourself?” I immediately looked down at the ground but did not move my hands away from my breasts.
“I’m naked Master,” I replied in a tremulous voice.
He set the tray down on the bed. “You’ve been naked in front of me before. Why are you suddenly so modest? Drop your hands and come here.” I dropped my hands, clasping them in front of me as I walked toward him. He sighed when I reached him, brushing my hands away from my sex. “Don’t cover yourself in front of me. It’s ridiculous.” I bit into my lip.
“Yes Master.” I said just above a whisper. I was in a very strange sort of mood. It’s true, I was pretty depressed, and who wouldn’t be? Angry, scared, confused, lonely – all had become customary emotions. Yet today, I felt something else in addition to all these and against all logic I wanted Caleb to understand. I wanted him to say nice things to me, maybe even hold me. Strange did not begin to define my mood. I suddenly wanted to cry but instead stared at the floor trying not to think.
He sighed deeply, taking my face in his hands, “I don’t have a wealth of time to teach you how to behave.” I frowned at the cryptic words. What the hell does that mean?
“I’m feeling better,” I whispered. Though I was sure my face said otherwise. My heart picked up its pace as his soft, warm hands held me still. His face, those lips, were too close for comfort, or not close enough. “There isn’t any reason I can’t wear clothes again.”
A few seconds passed, his blue eyes searching my brown ones. His mouth quirked, a slight mean-spirited smile tilting up one side of his mouth. It was a smile I had come to know well. I’d forgotten to address him as master. I’d issued what might have sounded like a command. I think I cringed and I think it was what he had been waiting for.