Caleb went about setting the room to rights and collecting the things he’d need to get ready for the day ahead. Neither of them had much in the way of clothing, but they only had one more day to travel, so the point was moot. He looked through the groceries he had purchased and found the bananas as well as some raspberry pastries. That would do nicely for breakfast. There were plenty of bottles of water left as well. He checked his watch and noted it was only five-thirty in the morning. The sooner they were out and on the road the better. They could make it to Tuxtepec by dinner time, even if they took another twelve hours to get there. He would have to make a stop in town before they left.
Caleb reached for his cell phone and dialed Rafiq.
“Why haven’t you been answering your phone?”
“Am I to answer to you, then?”
“Why the fuck not? We’re partners, or has Jair usurped my position in the last two days?”
Rafiq laughed. It was the kind of laugh Caleb had suffered through for years, a dismissive, derisive laugh, meant to put Caleb in his place, below his master. “Don’t be childish, Caleb. You’re the one who made our last conversation so hostile. Jair is hardly in a position to incite your jealousy.”
“I’m not jealous, I’m irritated and you’re only making it worse. Where are you?”
“Where are you, Caleb? Where is the girl?”
Caleb took a deep breath and exhaled away from the phone. It was the moment of truth. “We’re in Zacatecas. We should be in Tuxtepec by morning at the latest.”
“The morning?” Rafiq admonished, “You’re less than a day’s drive from Jair and your hostages, why would you be gone any longer?”
“It’s the girl, her injuries slow us down. I keep having to stop for her.”
“You’re going to arouse suspicion by driving around with her like that.” Rafiq paused, his breathing as grating as his voice. Caleb braced for it. “She is the final part of this, Caleb. She must be ready. She must be perfect. If you can’t do this, I would be more than willing to take over.”
Caleb clenched his jaw with so much force he could hear it popping. “It’ll be fine, Rafiq. I can do it,” he bit out. “Stop questioning me. I know what I need to do. That’s all I think about.”
“What about the hostages you’ve taken? What are your plans for them?”
Rafiq laughed, “There you are, Khoya. I’d begun to worry. Do try to keep your head this time, from what I hear, the pair might prove useful to us.”
A strange feeling bloomed in Caleb’s chest, “Where are you?”
“Fine. I assume I’ll see you soon.” He hung up, annoyed.
Kitten stepped out of the bathroom looking a bit lost. Last night had put them on different footing and now it was up to Caleb to maintain the status quo he had created between them. He set his phone on the table and walked toward his captive. She stilled as he approached, her eyes set upon the floor and her hands clasped in front of her. Her nervousness was obvious, but alluring nonetheless.
Caleb swept his hand down her face, careful not to press on her bruises and swept her hair back over her shoulder. “Whenever you enter a room and your purpose is unclear, always kneel next to your master.” Kitten did not hesitate to comply, though her movements were slow as she struggled toward the ground.
“Good,” Caleb whispered, “now spread your knees and sit back on your ankles with your hands on your thighs and your head bowed. Your master should be able to see every part of you and know you will not move until you’re told. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Kitten whispered with some hesitation, “Master.” Tentatively, she moved her limbs into position. She wore a nightgown and her body was not visible to Caleb, but he knew her body well enough to know what he was missing and his body unwittingly responded.
“Leet sawm k’leet sue is Russian. When you hear the command, you will lie on your back with your knees spread and lifted toward your chest. Hold your legs behind your knees.” Kitten broke position and stared up at him with a pleading expression.
Caleb’s breath stuttered into his lungs from his excitement. At last, she was compliant, and his to command. The feeling was heady, but made somewhat hollow because he was teaching her the commands in Russian. “Leet sawm k’leet sue,” he repeated. His expression was hard, his eyes serious.
Kitten’s mouth tilted downward at the corners in a slight grimace, her chin trembling with her effort not to cry, but she nodded. In achingly slow degrees, she put herself flat on the ground. She looked up at the ceiling and the tears she had been holding fell down the sides of her face into her hair.
This was hard for her, Caleb knew it would be, but it was the easiest thing she could do compared to the journey ahead. There was guilt on his part, but also desire, intense desire that thrummed in his veins. The guilt was nothing when pitted against his desire to have Kitten at his mercy. If that made him sick and depraved, he’d accepted it a long time ago. “Your legs, Kitten. Let’s have it.”
He watched as her knees began to bend and he nearly doubled over with want as her hands pulled at the nightgown, raising it over her knees and up her thighs. He hadn’t expected her to bare herself to him, but she was. His cock began to stir to the beat of his speeding heart, filling, lengthening and begging to show itself. Kitten raised her knees toward her chest, her hands fisting the nightgown at her waist. Her pussy was clearly visible, the pink lips spread and flushed, her tiny clit peeking out from beneath its hood. Caleb drew a sharp breath and swallowed.
He could stare at her forever, but his desire was not the purpose of this exercise. It was the most concise manner of re-establishing their roles. There would be no outbursts today, no arguments on the road, no confusion about whether or not he would spare her. “You really are beautiful there, Kitten.”
“Excuse me?” he snapped.
“Thank you, Master” she corrected.
“Very good, Kitten. You can put your legs down now.” Her movements were quicker than he thought possible with her injuries, but he declined to comment. He also ignored her sniffling. “Lye zhaash chee means, prone. Do you understand the word?”
Kitten sobbed as she nodded, “Yes, Master.”
“Over on your stomach then.”
“It’ll hurt,” she said.
“Attempt it at the very least. Always try to obey. Let me worry about what you can and cannot handle, return to the rest position, with your back to me,” Caleb said. His words were clipped and brooked no argument. “Lye zhaash chee.”
A mewling sound burst past Kitten’s lips, but she quickly pressed her lips together and held her breath as she struggled, like a turtle flipped on its shell, to roll over. Caleb hesitated to help her and it reminded him of the first time she had disobeyed him and he had slapped her breasts a rosy pink until she obeyed. It seemed like ages ago.
It took a minute or two, but finally she was in the rest position. Caleb admired the way her ass rested on her bare feet. “Now lean your body forward with your ass in the air. Normally, you have your arms stretched out in front of you, but for now, keep them wherever it’s most comfortable.
Kitten was stoic as she did what she was told. She chose to keep her arms crossed over her chest, letting the side of her face rest against the ground. The nightgown obstructed Caleb’s view. He stepped forward and gathered the fabric up over the soft cheeks of her ass.
“Oh, Kitten. I do like you like this. So much.” His words held nothing but truth. He couldn’t resist palming her lightly splayed cheeks and opening them slowly. Kitten trembled, but remained otherwise still beneath his questing fingers. “Can I touch you?” he asked, with a hint of challenge.
There was silence for a few seconds and then she answered, “Yes, Master.” Caleb smiled, it was exactly the answer he wanted and exactly the one she should give. She was learning.
“That’s good, Kitten. I’m proud of you,” he said. He stroked the soft flesh of her inner thighs. Kitten let out a gust of breath, Caleb, interpreted as desperation. This was a lot for her to handle so soon after the trauma of the last few days. She’d done well, and he really was proud of her. It was enough.
He pulled the nightgown back into place and urged her back into her rest position. Tears tracked down her cheeks and her face was most definitely worse for wear, but Caleb kissed her wet cheeks anyway as he helped her regain her calm.
After he gave her more medicine for her pain, he calmly fed her breakfast while she sat quietly between his knees, accepting all he had to give her.
Dr. Sloan doesn’t ask me why I’m crying and I assume it’s because she figures she knows. I would rather she ask me. “I know what you’re thinking,” I say, but it sounds like an accusation.
Dr. Sloan clears her throat, “What am I thinking?”
“That Caleb is awful, that he’s cruel and I’m stupid for loving him.”
She shakes her head, somewhat wryly and responds in a way I perceive as clinical, “I don’t think you’re stupid at all. If anything, I think you’re extraordinarily brave.”
I scoff. “Right. I’m brave. Reed said the same thing.”
I hear the scratching of her pen as she makes more notes, “Well then, you have a second opinion now. You don’t think your actions were brave?”
“Not especially. I think I just did what I had to do. Caleb’s always saying a person has to do what they must in order to survive. Survival is the only thing that matters.”
“You don’t think surviving is brave?”
“I don’t know. Do you think that guy who cut off his arm because he was trapped by a boulder was brave? It’s just instinct.”
“It’s called fight or flight and one is certainly braver than the other, depending on the circumstances. Under your circumstances, what you did was very brave. You’re here, Olivia. You survived.”
“I wish you wouldn’t call me that. I don’t like it.”
“Would you prefer, Miss Ruiz? Agent Reed says you don’t mind that as much.”
“Yeah? What else did he say about me?”
She smiles coyly and suddenly I find myself suspicious of their relationship. I don’t like the fact they talk about me. “We’re required to discuss the case, Miss Ruiz. We exchange all notes and information as well as any insights we might have. I did tell you all of this.”
“I know. What did he say about me?” I have a strange curiosity about Reed that hasn’t abated. I don’t know what it is about him, but there’s definitely something.
“He said you’re a brat,” she says, but her eyes smile. I smile a little too. Reed didn’t say that at all.
“Back to the subject. Why don’t you think you’re brave?”
I sigh, “I don’t know. I guess…I’m here and that’s what Caleb wants.” An uncomfortable silence settles between us. I’m lost in my thoughts. What, Caleb, wants. I thought I did everything he wanted, I tried my very best to make him happy, but in the end…I guess it doesn’t matter.
“You keep referring to him in the present tense, why?”
I can see his face in my mind’s eye, so beautiful, so sad. There’s blood smudged across his cheek, but I don’t care. I’m not squeamish any more. It’s the face of the man I love, the only one I’ve ever loved and it’s difficult to imagine there will ever be another. I wipe more tears away. That bastard. “It’s easier,” I finally answer, “I don’t like the idea he’s gone.”