I sank without thinking, back down to all fours, once again staring at his shoes. I was sure I’d completely break down if I tried to imagine all the things I wasn’t capable of imagining, because I could imagine some pretty horrible things. In fact, I was imagining some of those horrible things when his voice interrupted my thoughts.
“You’re entire life is going to change. You should try to accept that, because there’s no possible way to avoid it. Like it or not, fight it or don’t, your old life is over. It was over long before you woke up here.”
There were no words, no me, no here. This was crazy. I had awoken with sweat and fear to this, this darkness. Fear, pain, hunger, this man—eating at me. I wanted to put my head to the tops of his shoes. To stop. The words hung in the air like a speech bubble still clinging to his lips. How long before? Before that day on the street?
I thought about my mom again. She was far from perfect, but I loved her more than I loved anyone. He was telling me I’d never see her again, that I’d never see anyone I loved again. I should have expected those types of words. Every villain had a similar speech, ‘Don’t try to get away, it’s impossible’, but until then, I hadn’t realized how truly terrifying those words were.
And he stood above me, as if he were a god who had torn the sun away, not caring for my devastation. “Address me as Master. Every time you forget, I will be forced to remind you. So you can choose to obey, or choose punishment. It’s entirely up to you.”
My head snapped up and my shocked, horrified, pissed off eyes met his. I wasn’t going to call him Master. No. Fucking. Way. I was sure he could see the determination in my eyes. The unspoken challenge behind them that screamed, ‘Just try and make me asshole. Just try.’
He lifted a brow, and his eyes responded, ‘With pleasure pet. Just give me a reason.’
Rather than risk a fight I couldn’t possibly win, I returned my eyes to the ground. I was going to get out of here. I just had to be smart.
“Do you understand?” he said smugly.
Yes, Master. The words remained unspoken, their absence duly noted.
“Do. You,” he leaned forward, “Under. Stand?” He drew out each word as if speaking to a child, or someone who doesn’t understand English.
My tongue pushed against my teeth. I stared at his legs, unable to answer him, unable to fight him. A lump began to form in my throat and I swallowed hard to keep it down, but the tears eventually came. These were not the tears of pain or fear but of frustration.
“Very well then, I guess you’re not hungry. But I am.”
At the mention of food my mouth surged again with saliva. The smell of the food twisted my stomach into tight knots. While he tore off pieces of bread, my nails dug into the thin carpet where my tears now dripped onto the floor. What did he want from me that he couldn’t just take? I sniffled, trying not to sob. He touched me again, stroking the back of my head.
“Look at me.”
I wiped the tears from my face and looked up at him. He sat back in his chair, head cocked to one side. He appeared to be considering something. I hoped whatever it was wouldn’t cause me more humiliation, but I doubted it. He picked up a piece of cut meat from his plate and slowly stuck it in his mouth, all the while looking at my face. Every tear that sprang from my eye I quickly wiped away with the back of my hand. Next, he picked up a piece of cubed beef. I swallowed hard. He leaned forward and held the delicious smelling morsel to my lips. With an almost unabashed relief I opened my mouth, but he snatched it away.
He offered again. And again. Each time I crawled closer and closer, until I was pressed between his legs, my hands on either side of his body. Suddenly I threw my arms up around his hand and wrapped my mouth around his fingers to get the food away from him. Oh my god, so good.
His fingers were thick and salty against my tongue but I managed to wrest the meat from between them. He moved quickly, his fingers found my tongue and pinched viciously while his other hand dug into the sides of my neck. He squeezed, making me open my mouth in shock as pain cascaded down my throat. The food fell from between my lips to the floor and I howled around his fingers at the loss. He let go of my tongue, and his hands found control along the sides of my head as he tilted it up toward his. “I’ve been entirely too kind and you’re going to learn just how civil I’ve been. You’re very proud and very spoiled and I’m going to beat it out of you twice.”
Then he stood up with enough force to push me backward onto the floor. He walked out of the room and shut the door. This time I heard the lock.
Beside me the food beckoned.
My hunger was an angry living thing, clawing and howling along the insides of my skin. I fell on the feast like a starving animal—forcing food and drink down my throat as fast as I could. I didn’t even register what I shoved in my mouth as chicken or refried beans. It was food to fill the emptiness in my belly and I ate until I couldn’t. Until I was full.
Oil and salt and food chunks smeared my hands and my face as my throat constricted around the last of the buffet. My hunger no longer gripping me, I finally saw the single plastic fork amidst the empty paper plates. Frantically I clutched at it and ran to the boarded up window, stabbing uselessly at the boards. As my meal continued to make its way to my belly, the plastic fork shattered under my hands as I pried at the window. Breathing quickly and shallowly around the food, I finally threw the broken pieces across the room towards the closed door.
Tears once again blurred my vision as an overwhelming tide of fear and sadness dragged me under. You’re not going to get out of here. You’re fucked. He’s going to come back and he’s going to do something awful. Really, really, fucking bad and there’s nothing you can do to stop him. Please, please, please God, please get me out of this.
I rushed toward the darkly lit bathroom, lifted the toilet lid and vomited everything I’d eaten. I screamed into the bowl between surges of spicy bile. My voice echoed against the porcelain, a strangled gurgling sound that finally gave way to weepy moans and heavy breathing. I flushed before the sight of my puke could make me sick all over again. I actually felt a little better after that. Hungry again, but calmer.
I tried to flip on the light, but apparently that too had been removed. In its place there was another nightlight. The bathroom was a work in progress, the new mixed in with the old. I carefully ignored the Jacuzzi tub where I’d been stripped down and man-handled. Just one glance and his hands were on me again. I looked away sharply, focusing instead on washing my face and rinsing my mouth in the pedestal sink. I had to get the taste and smell of puke out of my head.
Above the sink, there was a circular metal plate. Inspired, I dug my fingers around the shallow lip, trying to pry it off but it was embedded into the wall. Dully, I stared at it. It was so shiny and flawless it was almost like glass. In it, I saw my face for the first time since I’d been taken. The skin around my eye had taken on a light purplish-green color; it felt puffy to the touch. I could now open it enough to see out of, but it looked disfigured when compared to my right eye. I touched it with my fingers, surprised that it hurt less than it did earlier. I looked terrible. Aside from my swollen and bruised eye, my hair was a tangled mess. Strangely, I found myself trying to arrange my hair. I felt like an idiot the moment the absurdity of it hit me. Yeah Livvie, don’t forget to look cute for the handsome kidnapper. Stupid!
I didn’t know what was happening to me, but Caleb was at the center of it. He was the source of all this pain and confusion. Whatever had befallen me or would befall me, it would be on account of his distorted and perverted appetite. Defeated, I turned around and began walking out.
The bedroom door swung open, making me jump. Frantically, I searched around the bathroom for a way to escape or somewhere to hide. It was irrational, as I’d already established there was no escape. Nevertheless, instinct is instinct. My instincts said to hide, even for the few seconds it would take for him to find me.
Caleb walked directly to the bathroom humming. As he reached the doorway, I hid under the sink. In plain sight.
He approached me calmly, without the malice he exhibited before and called for me in a calm voice. “I want you to get up.”
He stretched out his hand toward me. Weary, I stared at it for what seemed a long time, thinking of the damage waiting to be done by that hand. His calm and my fear hung between us in a thick and heavy coil. He was going to hurt me, something in me knew it. That certainty nearly numbed me. Searching to work my way into his good graces, I reached out tentatively, waiting for the snake to strike. I touched his out-stretched hand, wanting to recoil and shrink back. But I didn’t. He smiled. It was a smile that struck me instantly as both beautiful and evil.
He wrapped his fingers around my wrist, and from his touch, an electrical energy trickled into me. I was utterly petrified. He pulled me up slowly, and soon, I stood staring at him with wide eyes and anxious breath. He held the palm of my hand up to his face so that I felt his skin for the first time. The intimacy of this single act forced my eyes to the floor and I abruptly feared his kindness more than his cruelty.
He ran my fingers across his face, holding my hand firmly when I tried to shrink away. He was clean-shaven, soft, but undeniably masculine. His touch was simple, but specific, meant to show me he could be like a lover, gentle, intimate, but also that he was a man unaccustomed to hearing the word no. Yes. I understood. He was a man, and I? I was nothing but a girl, not even a woman. I was meant to fall at his feet and worship at the altar of his masculinity, grateful that he’d deigned to acknowledge me. All this, from a simple touch.
He raised his right hand, pushing my hair off my shoulder, and then caressing the back of my arm. A violent shiver ran down my spine causing me to move back. The cold porcelain of the sink grazed my skin. As if it were a dance, he stepped forward. His fingers speared into my hair, possessive, cradling my head as I continued to stare at the floor. He kissed my fingers; nibbling at them with his teeth. The slightly sharpened canine, once part of his boyish charm, now imbued him with a sinister obscurity.
My heartbeat pulsated in my ears, my breathing became labored. Anxiety coursed through my body only to settle in my stomach, making me feel nauseous. I thought: Do I fight him? Do I risk his temper? My instincts didn’t say run, or hide, they said, stay still. They said…obey? Please stop.
He dropped my hand, setting off alarms; not knowing what to do with my hands, I put my arms around myself. I felt as though he were burning a hole through me with his eyes. The intensity with which he stared at me bordered on obscene. What was he doing to me in his mind?
A very strange thing was happening inside me, an awareness that was as basic and simplistic as male and female, masculine and feminine, hard and soft, predator and prey. Yes, I was terrified. But there was also this undercurrent of something very vaguely familiar. Lust? Maybe. My eyes darted off his face. I had fantasized about this guy, dreamed about him touching me. I had hungered for his eyes on my naked skin. Imagined his soft mouth on my breasts. And now here he was, touching me. It was nothing like I had imagined.
This was unlike any fantasy I’d ever had, even the really morbid ones. I admit, I’d dreamt of being ravaged by Anne Rice’s vampires. I’d seen it on the big screen in my head. It’s the eighteenth century, and I’m standing in an alley, the handsome, questionably evil Lestat is between my thighs. I’m a whore and he’s just another patron. I sense how dangerous he is, how predatory, but one kiss and I don’t give a damn. I know he’ll sink his fangs into me, but I throw myself at his mercy in the hopes that death won’t be the end of me.
This was nothing like my dreams. In a dream you can’t really feel. Every touch is subject to your imagination, what you think a kiss feels like, what you think being fucked feels like, what you think real fear feels like. If you’ve never truly felt it, then your mind can’t truly recreate it. I knew about kissing, had an inkling about petting, but I lacked all knowledge of intent. When my boyfriend touched me, I knew he’d stop the second I asked, conversely, I knew this man wouldn’t. Intent made all the difference. This was real. Real touching, real intimidation, real man, real fear.