“Do better,” he said and whipped me behind my knee.
“I’m sorry I hit you!” I screamed; it was the only thing I could think of.
“I hit you…what?” he growled. The slaps came so fast I lost track of how many. I bucked and screamed under the strap that beat me.
“That I hit you, Master. I’m sorry.” It was a game, I knew that now. If I forgot to say ‘master’, he hit me several times; otherwise, he only hit me once.
By the time it ended, my throat was raw, my body burned, and the word “Master” came easier to me than crying. My hair was strewn everywhere, sticking to the sweat that covered me from head to toe. My knees had given out on me during the beating. I hung by my arms, panting for breath. He was panting, too. He grabbed a brush from his bag and I whimpered.
“Please no more…Master, please no more.” My voice rasped weakly, but he heard me.
“Shhh, pet.” He brushed my hair back gathering it in a bun on the back of my head. He gave me water as well, as much as I wanted. Most of the water dribbled down my body but it felt so good I found myself spilling it on purpose.
I shook violently as I was untied. It was only a matter of unclasping the chain from the straps and untying my forearms, but as he unleashed me, he also unleashed an all new pain. I collapsed onto the floor and rolled onto my face. The prickling of the carpet tortured my skin. I yelped at the feel of his fingers digging into my abraded flesh as he lifted me.
The comforter was much different. It felt cool, inviting, and I writhed against it, lifting my backside into the air. I didn’t care about what I looked like anymore. I had no decency or shame. He misted my body down with water and all I could do was moan.
“This is going to hurt a little but I promise you’ll feel better when I’m done.”
My body tensed. I pressed my buttocks together, afraid he wasn’t done with his belt yet. I flinched when his hands made contact with my wounded flesh. He rubbed me down with cold cream, the feel of it so delicious I leaned into his hands as he put it on. I was sure he broke skin in some places.
I wanted to cry when he stopped, but didn’t. He lay down next to me, his face close to mine, but I did not turn away. I stared him directly in the eyes. But when he smiled, it was warm, inviting, kind even. Somehow, and against all odds, it still reminded me of the first time I met him. I shut my eyes.
Exhausted, I fell asleep again. This time I did not dream.
Caleb shut the girl’s door behind him and locked it, putting the key in his pocket. He put his forehead to the closed door. He saw her body again, laying face down on the mattress, welts crisscrossing the back of her body from shoulder to ankle. He wanted to trace each one with the tip of his tongue, leaving no part of her untouched. Through the door he could hear her muffled crying and a strange shiver ran through him.
Tension coiled inside him, manifesting in his entire body, his muscles tight. He stretched his hands then fisted them tightly, knuckles popping then relaxing. He loosened his body further, forcing himself to unwind. It was three in the morning. He was wired, sweaty, and in need of something, anything - a woman maybe. He looked away, the soft hue of the lights muted but illuminating enough.
He liked this house. He liked it more with each passing week he spent inside it. From what he was told, it was once a sugar plantation until the Mexican revolution put an end to slave labor. The land was barren now, but the house still stood. The owner had spent hundreds of thousands remodeling the home, allowing for electricity throughout, though many things were still incomplete. The large, square kitchen still looked like it was falling apart, but you could see flashes of the new and modern. It had a fire stove, but a state-of-the-art microwave. The ceramic tile under his feet was probably original, but the fireplace was electric. In fact, the only room in the house that was completely finished was the one he currently occupied – the master suite.
In the background the girl continued to cry, and the sound of her sobs seemed amplified to his ears. When he shut his eyes his brain immediately sought the memory of her flushed body tied to the bedpost - open, at his complete mercy.
Caleb let out a sigh and adjusted himself. Perhaps he’d visit the bar up the street and find a more than hospitable woman to take his mind off the girl behind the locked door. He raked his fingers through his hair and expelled another rush of air as he made his way across the kitchen. He opened the fridge door, the cool, swampy air felt good against his skin, too good. Every nerve ending in his body was alert at the moment. Even the clothes he wore added a friction when he moved. Propping his elbow on the refrigerator door, Caleb leaned in and wrapped his fingers around a bottle of Dos Equis. The condensation on the bottle instantly reminded him of sweat. He thought of the girl again, and other girls, past slaves; he never tired of their salty taste, and sweet smelling sweat. Only women could boast of such a thing. Only women were capable of being so fucking sexy you wanted to lick them clean when they considered themselves dirty. He shut his eyes, leaning his forehead against the freezer of the fridge as he indulged in the base sensations that coursed through him. He smiled, faintly to himself before it slipped away. He opened his eyes and pushed away from the fridge, shutting it softly. He had conquered and she had submitted. A small victory, but it was a start.
Caleb popped off the cap on the bottle, letting the metal skid across the granite counter. He brought the beer to his lips. Strong, cold, carbonated fluid rushed down his throat dissipating some of the heat in his body. There was no denying how good he felt. He felt powerful, and nothing was more important than power. Even the girl seemed to know it or she wouldn’t try to defy him at every turn.
Caleb leaned against the counter, drink in hand but not drinking. The girl was absolutely crazy, Caleb thought. His mouth tilted up at the corners, the smirk threatening to become a full blown smile. If she knew who she was dealing with, she wouldn’t try to provoke him so much. She was downright adversarial. He winced, remembering how her knee had collided with his balls. Fuck! She was lucky he hadn’t put a belt to her ass right then. Yet, if he had, perhaps the food incident might not have happened.
A short burst of laughter escaped his lips as he recalled the look on her face when he told her to call him Master. Her eyes had said it all in that moment. He was going to have to break her down to her foundation before he’d have any chance of building her back up. The challenge was intriguing to say the very least, truly, unexpected.
Abruptly, Caleb’s smile faded. He stared down at the drain, drops of water falling off the sides of his bottle fell slowly, other drops hung off his fingers for dear life before falling, falling and slipping down towards the drain. He stood up, taking a long pull from his bottle. Yes, he would break her down and build her up – for Vladek.
She was his and Rafiq’s instrument of revenge. Through her, they’d get close enough to kill that motherfucker. He needed to put a swift end to her rebellious nature, not admire it. He needed to bring out the Submissive he’d observed. Submissives were survivors.
Caleb had underestimated the girl in some regard. For weeks he had observed her, and for weeks she had played the would-be chameleon. She had made it a habit to wear masculine, shapeless clothing when walking in her own neighborhood. At first, he’d thought it was simply a fashion choice, but it hadn’t taken long before he’d become less convinced of his original assessment, especially when he observed her wearing flirty skirts and bright colored shirts through the fence of her school. After that, he pegged her as woman who understood how important it was to adapt to her surroundings. She knew she lived in a man’s world, and she reacted accordingly.
It was important for girls in her position, in this kind of situation. To her parents she might have been the teenage daughter they didn’t need to worry about, because she didn’t wear provocative outfits to entice the young horny boys. In her neighborhood, she was the invisible girl, no one of interest. But inside, she was still her – whoever she was. And whoever she was, she appealed to him under her camouflage.
It had felt unavoidable at the time, selecting her. She was the only one that jumped out to him, though he didn’t completely understand why. Then, that day on the sidewalk during their strange encounter, he’d known he had to have her. She had made an impression on him; she would make an impression on others. Perhaps he’d made a mistake in that regard, choosing someone he had found indefinably appealing. Instead, the mystery had drawn him nearer and now he found himself only further confused, further drawn in. It suddenly seemed such a waste that such a gift was meant for Vladek.
He turned around, leaning against the counter, the edge digging into his spine. One hand gripped the edge of the counter, the other holding the bottle, quickly cooling as veins of water cascaded down his arm. He drank. A lot rested on the girl, and in turn, him. Aside from his own vengeance, he could not fail Rafiq. Vladek Rostrovich had to die. In this, Rafiq and he had never disagreed. Upon how to execute each step, that was something else. He took another mouthful, rolling the liquid in his mouth before swallowing and feeling it fill him.
Destroying lives was something he was good at, this was no different, of course. Or was it? He drained the bottle, tasting little, but wanting more. He turned around and rinsed it out, watching the water rush out.
The girl was genuinely terrified of him, that much he was sure of. He had to use that to his advantage. Under his tutelage, she would become whatever she needed to be in order to survive. She would accept the hand she was dealt and make the best of things. She would find whatever good there was in the bad, for however long it’d last. She would fight him, that was a given, but he would convince her despite herself.
He finished his bottle which had done nothing for him, still restless. He walked over to the fridge again, cracked open another. Repeat. Another taste, another gulp, the thirst just growing.
New thoughts distracted him. What would he do with the girl when this was all said and done? He stood still, listening to the house, listening for signs of the girl but there was nothing, no clamor from behind the locked door. No desperate shrieking, just a girl, plotting her time. He walked to the table and noiselessly pulled out a chair. Another long pull of beer, his gaze passed around the room. He sat. What would he do with a girl who’d never trust him? Caleb drank, set his bottle down on the table then sat deeper in his seat, head back and breathing in through his nose, eyes closed.
Caleb knew nothing about caring for a woman long term. He’d heard a lot about love in the last twelve years, but he never felt the things people talked about. He ran his fingertips up and down the neck of the bottle absentmindedly. The only person he felt any type of affection for was Rafiq, but he doubted it could be called love. Caleb understood Rafiq, understood his anger and his need for revenge. He trusted Rafiq with his life. Without that man to give him purpose, Caleb would have been lost and for that he respected him. Did understanding, trust and respect equate to love? Caleb didn’t know. Rafiq had taught him to read and write, to speak five languages, to seduce a woman, to hide in plain sight, and to kill, but never to love.
He leaned back again, drank, and then set the bottle in a different spot. He stared at the ring of water on the smooth lacquered surface of the table. Leaning forward, he dragged his other hand through it, creating two long translucent trails. They traveled along the surface of the table slick and solitary before colliding into one another when his fingers came together.
A few years ago, Rafiq met a woman. The woman was his wife now and had given Rafiq two sons. Caleb had never met them, nor would he and he’d never expected it. He understood fully his role with Rafiq. While afforded great respect and appropriate affection as someone Rafiq had raised into manhood, Caleb was not family. It was not a confusing situation for him, the boundaries clearly defined and consistent early on. What he was, was an equal partner in the settling of old scores. It suited him fine since he knew nothing of that other life of Rafiq’s, of family. He could scarcely remember his.