Publication date: May 19th 2014
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
“I felt like I was walking to the end of a plank precariously hanging over shark-infested water. When I jumped, sharp teeth would rip into me and the cold water would steal my breath away. The monsters would take everything from me, leaving me shivering and naked in the water. The only difference was that tonight I would be pulled from the icy darkness and forced to do it again. There would be no release from death, only pain.”
Home after her first year of college, Adeline Miller is looking forward to a stress free summer filled with reading, working on her blog, and spending time with friends. But all that changes in an instant when she is witness to something terrible, something she wasn’t supposed to see.
Beaten, drugged, kidnapped.
Adeline Miller is ripped from her innocent and carefree life and thrust into darkness, into a world full of pain and horror. As a sex slave, she is forced to do horrible things, and have horrible things done to her. One of her captors has a past as dark as the world she is now living in. Will getting close to him mean freedom? Or will he pull her deeper into the shadows?
Jackson rolled over, pulling me on top of him. He kissed the top of my head and held me against him for a minute before we got dressed. After using the bathroom, I cuddled back into Jackson’s arms.
“Why did you say ‘one more day?'” I asked, tracing my fingers over the contours of his bare shoulders.
“I was hoping you’d forget.”
“Not a chance.”
Jackson took a breath. “Nate and Zane are gone. This is as good a time as any for you to escape.”
I pushed myself up so I could look him in the eyes. “And you too, right?”
Jackson frowned. “I don’t know the codes right now. You’ll have to go through a window.”
“So?” I asked, feeling panic rising. “You can come with me.” I shook my head. “Windows are quiet anyway. By the time I get out and the alarm goes off, we can be long gone.”
“As soon as I unlock a window on the first floor, the alarm will go off. The only windows I have access to up here are straight drops. You could fall and hurt yourself, and then you wouldn't be able to run. And you’re forgetting that the ankle bracelet has a GPS tracker. Lou can go after you and find you. I have to distract him.”
“Jackson, no. Please!” My eyes filled with tears, and my palms began to sweat. I desperately shook my head. “No. I can’t leave you. I won’t leave you.”
“You can send help.”
“We both know that’s a load of shit,” I said. I blinked back tears. “You’ll be dead by then.”
“Adeline,” he whispered and reached up to caress my face. “That’s why I brought you up here. I wanted one more time with you. You’ve given me so much, more than I deserve. Now it’s my turn to give you a chance. You can have your life back, start over. You don’t need me.”
“I don’t want to start over without you.” My voice quivered as tears slid down my face. “I need you. I need your arms around me, holding me, keeping me together. I need your lips to press against mine, to hear your heart beating, to feel the heat of your skin. I need you.”
“You’ll find somebody else, someone who can give you a better life than I could.”
“Stop it!” I cried. “I don’t want anyone else. I want you! I love you, Jackson. No one else.”
“And I love you, Adeline. Enough to sacrifice myself for you. Please, Addie. Let me do this for you. Take this chance. My death will set you free.”
I pushed his hand away. “No. Do not tell me goodbye. It didn’t work last time, and it won’t work now. There has to be another way. There has to be. I won’t let you leave me.”
Something slammed shut above me, clicking into place. The noise brought me back to consciousness, waking me up into an instant panic. My eyes flew open and my breath came out in ragged huffs. I was lying on my side, and it was dark. Too dark to see anything. My heart hammered with fear, and I felt like I was going to get sick. Beads of sweat rolled down my face and the hard surface I was lying on hurt my hip. Where the hell was I? What was going on?
Rough carpet rubbed against my cheek, irritating my skin. I reached up above me, stretching my stiff arm. My hand hit the ceiling. I pressed my palm against it. It was solid. I pushed, straining my muscles. The air was hot and stale. No. This wasn’t happening, it couldn’t be happening. This isn’t real, I told myself. I was in the trunk of a car. I flipped over onto my back and began banging on the roof of the trunk.
“Help!” I pushed against the roof. I balled my hands into fists and pounded. Frantic, I banged on the roof until my hands hurt. “Please, help me!” There had to be a way out. I rolled back onto my side and began to madly search for a release. I reached out in front of me, feeling for the metal latch. “Please,” I cried. “Somebody, help me!”
My fingers fastened around something hard. My eyes widened, and I sucked in a deep breath. Was it the trunk release? There was no way to tell, but I pulled it back anyway. Nothing happened. I curled my fingers around it and yanked it back with all my strength. My sweaty hands slipped off the little piece of metal and flew back. The top of my hand hit the roof of the trunk. White pain webbed across the bones in my hand, tingling along my fingers. I cradled my hand against my body, waiting for the sting to pass.
I was going to die. I knew it. I would swelter and die in this trunk. I kicked my legs against the side of the trunk and screamed. Oh, God. I would suffocate. The air was going to run out, and I was going to suffocate and die. It would be a slow horrible death. I swallowed a sob and clamped my mouth shut. I needed to save the little oxygen I had left.
As soon as I was still, I heard muffled voices coming from outside the car. My muscles ached as I struggled to keep calm while everything inside of me wanted to scream for help. Whoever was outside the car would have heard me, and they hadn’t helped me. And they wouldn’t. They had to be the two guys who put me in here. I moved my trembling hands over my mouth, pressing then against my lips to silence my chattering teeth. Hot tears silently rolled down my face, soaking the rough carpet beneath me. I moved to the end of the trunk, pressing my ear to the side to listen.
“Bitch saw the whole thing and called the cops. What the hell was I supposed to do?” he spoke. I recognized his voice right away. Terror turned my blood cold, and his face flashed through my mind. Eyes as blue as the summer sky. High cheekbones covered in day-old stubble. Tousled brown hair and full lips. I had been so taken aback by his good looks that I hadn’t suspected him of being anything but helpful. I was so fucking dumb.
“You could have left her,” a deep voice responded. I had yet to hear him speak but I was certain that voice belonged to the man with the dark eyes. “There’s no way she could have turned us in.”
“And that’s a risk you’re willing to take? I don’t think Nate would be too happy with that.”
“N-no,” he nervously stammered. “But bringing her with? She’ll slow us down. W-we could have…” he trailed off. “There are other ways.”
The guy with the blue eyes laughed. “Other ways?” His voice got louder as he leaned on the car. “You’re a fucking idiot, Jackson. Killing her on the street is too obvious and messy.”
Killing her on the street? A painful stab of horror pierced my heart. What kind of people were they? Cold fear crept over me at a dizzying rate. They wanted to kill me? Fuck the lack of oxygen. I needed out. Now. I pushed off the side of the trunk and started kicking, blindly aiming for the brake lights.
“Help me!” I screamed as loud as I could. “Help! Get me out of here! Help!”
Someone hit the car. “Shut up, you stupid whore!” Blue Eyes yelled. “No one can hear you!” he taunted. Panting, I became still. I sucked in a gulp of hot air. Nausea twisted in the pit of my stomach. How far was I from the city? What kind of a place were we in? It had to be secluded if no one could hear me screaming. Then again, he could be lying.
I took in another breath, coughing from the hot air, and screamed. I extended my arms and desperately clawed at the top of the trunk.
Blue Eyes hit the car again, though this time he began rocking it. “I said SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he screamed.
“Zane!” the guy called Jackson yelled. “Stop it!”
Zane must have taken his hands off the car, for it suddenly stopped moving. I heard shoes scuffle on loose gravel. I took in a ragged breath and listened. “Don’t tell me what to do, you worthless piece of shit!” Then I heard the sound of a fist smacking flesh. A second later someone huffed in pain.
“This is your mess,” Jackson muttered before making a strangled noise of pain. “If you hadn't roughed up Phoebe in the alley this all could have been avoided!”
“Goddamn it!” Zane started. “I swear to God I’m going to—” he cut off when a phone rang. I swallowed hard and realized that I was shaking uncontrollably. I pulled my arms to my chest. I couldn't see a way out of this. I was stuck in the trunk. Zane and Jackson were not going to let me out in time. I was going to die.
I slowly blinked and shook myself. I turned the water off and pulled back the curtain just far enough to grab the towel. I wrapped it around my goosebump-covered torso and walked back to my cot, water dripping on the floor. Dirt and grit stuck to my wet feet. Normally, that would have grossed me out, but what was a little dirt compared to what was going to happen to me?
Phoebe and Lily exchanged sorrowful looks. Phoebe came up behind me and gently towel dried my hair. I just sat there, completely still except for the shivering.
“Here,” Lily offered and held out a robe.
Holding the towel up with one hand, I snaked my arms through the crushed velvet robe and tied it around myself.
"I don't get your tattoos," she said and tipped her head.
"Theban," I simplified and looked at the squiggly characters that surrounded a triple moon symbol my left shoulder blade. "It's an old alphabet. It’s from a book."
"Oh." Lily nodded. "What about that one? It's a circle inside a triangle with a line through it?"
"From another book," I summed up, looking at the tattoo on my wrist. I had one more tattoo on my left side. I parted the robe to show her. "Get this one?"
"Nope. 'To infinity'," she read. "Don't get it."
"'And beyond'," Phoebe finished. "I like Toy Story. Who has other half?"
"My best friend, Lynn," I told her, my voice hollow.
"You must miss her," Lily said quietly. I bit my lip and nodded. Lily looked at me for a few seconds, her blue eyes flashing with emotions. She closed them, shook her head, and put on a small smile. “Rochelle will do your makeup,” she said. I nodded and rose from the cot and made my way over to the makeshift vanity. Rochelle was leaning on the counter, keeping the weight off of her injured ankle. I sat on a rickety stool and faced the mirror.
It was the first time I had allowed myself to look at my face since I’d been taken. I had bruises on my face from being hit by Nate and Zane. My right eye was swollen a little on the outside. I knew I had bruises on my body, both from being beaten and from the trunk ride to wherever the hell we were.
“You have nice skin,” Rochelle told me. “It’ll be easy to work with.” She said it in such a way that it wasn’t a compliment. Before she started on my makeup, she brushed and blow dried my hair and set it in curlers. Then she spun me around so that I couldn’t see in the mirror anymore.
I flinched from the cold liquid foundation she smeared over my cheeks. If I had such nice skin, why did she feel the need to cover it all up? I rarely wore makeup at home. If I did, I focused mainly on my eyes, having fun playing with different colors of eye shadow and liners. I hated the way foundation felt caked onto my face.
“There,” she said, sounding satisfied. She had been working on me for what had to be at least half an hour. She took the curlers out of my hair, and after a while of fluffing and spraying enough hair spray to eat away a layer of the O-zone, she leaned back and pressed a smile, nodding as she admired her work.
I turned and looked in the mirror. My eyes were heavily outlined in silver and black. The bruises were gone, though my right eye still looked tender. Red blush on my cheeks made it look like I was permanently embarrassed, and the dark red lipstick was just … trashy. My hair was teased and was inches away from my head. It was coated in so much hair spray that it barely moved with me. Big, wavy curls cascaded around my face.
Suddenly, a smile cracked my face, and a snort of laughter escaped my lips.
“What?” Rochelle demanded.
I shook my head, the humor in my grossly stereotyped appearance quickly fading. Rochelle glared at me for a moment longer before waving me away. She hobbled to the rack of clothing and skimmed through the section of lingerie. She pulled a short, silky nightgown from its hanger. It was dark purple, with black lace outlining the top and bottom. My stomach churned when my fingers touched the shiny material.
“You’ll need this,” she mumbled and tossed me a push-up bra. “Your boobs are on the small side.” She shook her head and sighed. “Whatever. I’ll make it work. You should gain some weight.”
I held my arms close to my body, feeling very self-conscious. I was thin due to an over-active thyroid. Over the years, I had tried different medications but was unable to find something with a good balance so I just stopped taking the pills. I always had eaten more than enough, but I just couldn’t keep the weight on. It had been one of my number one pet peeves to be told I was lucky I was thin. I had a medical condition that took a toll on my body and my health. How lucky is that?
“Tonight you have Travis,” Rochelle began explaining. “Give him a good show. He likes to watch.”
My stomach clenched and the sting of sour vomit bubbled in my throat. I felt like my head was being shoved into a bucket of dirty water, and no matter how hard I struggled, I couldn’t get out, couldn’t take a breath.
“I don’t know any good shows,” I mumbled.
“What?” Rochelle asked and wrinkled her nose. “Well, you do now,” she went on, widening her eyes and giving me the girl-you’re-crazy stare. She shook her head and sighed. “Just follow his lead, do what he wants, and you’ll be fine.”
Nerves audibly grumbled through my intestines. I feared something was going to come out one end or the other. Yet I just stood there, my mind wanting to shut down and refuse to process what was going to happen. There was no way around it.
I was going to go upstairs. I was going to go into a room with a sick and twisted man who would force me to have sex with him.
Or I could refuse.
And that would get me severely beaten, if not killed. For a few seconds, dying seemed better than getting raped. I shook my head at the thought. I wasn’t going to give up. Today might not be my day for escaping, but it would come. It had to.
“Don’t touch me,” I said through gritted teeth when Zane grabbed my arm, yanking me forward. I pulled my arm back, trying to break his hold. I wasn’t strong enough. All I ended up doing was causing the first layer of skin to twist and tear.
Zane laughed and jumped in front of me. His fingers tightened on my arm, the pain biting into me until I was sure blood pooled under the half moon marks left by his fingernails.
“I like it when you fight,” he groaned. With his free hand, he reached up and took a fist full of my hair and stepped closer, brushing his waist against mine. Jackson turned around, face blank. He didn’t care what happened to me.
Then Zane let me go. He laughed and turned his back to me, purposely flashing the silver gun tucked into his pants. My heart was in my throat. Nerves tingled throughout my body, and my teeth chattered.
“Come on,” Zane ordered and paced ahead.
I looked at the ground, blinking back tears. Jackson waited until I was a few feet in front of him to follow. The invisible wall of the cage closed in on me. I was sandwiched between Zane and Jackson. Their body heat suffocated me. Mixed with the humid air, it was nauseating.
We crossed the yard and stopped by a gate. Jackson dug a key from his pocket and unlocked it. He pushed it open and stepped aside. Zane took a hold of my arm again, forcing me to walk close to him. A gravel path cut into the forest, which started just several feet from the white fence.
The gate slammed shut behind us. A useless sense of hope fluttered through me. I wasn’t fenced in. I could run away.
And get shot.
There was nothing I could do. There was no escape. I felt like I was walking to the end of a plank, precariously hanging over shark-infested water. When I jumped, sharp teeth would rip into me and the cold water would steal my breath away. The monsters would take everything from me, leaving me shivering and naked in the water. The only difference was that tonight I would be pulled from the icy darkness and forced to do it again. There would be no release from death, only pain.
Thinking of a plan of escape, I closed my eyes and continued to move forward, my pace subconsciously slowing down. Lily had said that Jackson and Zane would go back to the house while I worked. I had to run then. What other choice did I have?
Zane jerked me forward. The toe of my shoe caught on the uneven path and I stumbled and tripped.
“Seriously?” Zane huffed under his breath.
My throat tightened with fear and I blinked back tears. Zane scuffed his shoe, sending a cloud of dusty dirt into my face. I coughed and turned my head. He stepped away, laughing.
Jackson stopped next to me and extended a hand. I traced my eyes up from his fingers. He had a bruise just below his elbow in the shape of a large handprint, as if someone had grabbed him and twisted his skin. Did he do Nate’s dirty work and that was why he was always injured? Maybe he collected unpaid money and got in a lot of fights. The black t-shirt he wore was faded and worn, and his dark eyes glazed over, hiding back his emotions. The emptiness on his face frightened me.
Ignoring his offer, I put my hands on the ground and pushed myself up. Jackson’s eyebrows pushed together and he studied a vine of poison ivy that twisted around a maple tree. He stepped away from me and bit his bottom lip. Zane grabbed my arm and pulled me forward again. I didn’t fight him. Really, the sooner I got into the trailer, the sooner I could put my plan into action. I took a deep breath and tried to steady myself.
Just like Lily said, it felt like we were miles away from the farmhouse by the time we reached what was called ‘the trailer.’ Really, it was a brand new RV, and it must have cost a lot of money. Yellow light spilled from slats in the mini blinds. An old blue Cadillac was parked behind it.
Zane kept a painful hold of my arm as Jackson knocked on the door. The blood drained from my face. It was as if I was waiting to see the face of my executioner, but he wouldn’t kill all of me. Only part of me would die and I would be forced to carry the black and festering hole with me for the rest of my life. It would be a constant reminder of what was painfully taken from me.
The street sides were hardly occupied so far down; we easily found a spot and sat down on a bench while we waited. I stretched my long legs out, wanting to soak up as much sun as possible before I was beach-bound tomorrow for Lynn’s family’s annual Memorial Day cook out. Next to Lynn, who went to the tanning salon four times a week, I was ghostly pale. I had intended on going tanning a few times with her, but I had spent my 'fun money' allowance on books. I pushed my sunglasses low on my nose, trying to avoid an awkward tan line.
I saw a blur of black out of the corner of my eye. It was moving fast and headed right toward the street that ran perpendicular to the one we were on. It wasn’t blocked off for the parade. I whipped my head around to see a girl race into the street, jumping off the sidewalk with such haste that she didn’t take the time to see if the coast was clear.
A horn blared and tires squealed as a car slammed on its breaks. Holy shit. My heart skipped a beat. The car missed her by just a foot. It wasn’t going fast being so close to the parade route, but it was fast enough to cause some damage.
“Did you see that?” Lynn stood and put her hand to her face, shading her eyes. “That was close. Dumbass isn’t looking where’s she’s going.”
“I think she’s crying.” I narrowed my eyes, watching her race across the street. She kept her head down and her arms wrapped around her chest. It was odd to see her in a long sleeved sweater in eighty-degree weather. When she was parallel to us, she whirled around, looking behind her as if she was scared of being followed. Whatever she saw made her pick up the pace. She dodged behind a building and out of sight. My eyes lingered in her direction, waiting to see if anyone else would accompany her down the alley.
I shook my head and turned back to Lynn and my sister, making lazy conversation and enjoying the sun. I was hot by the time the distant music and cheering from the parade floated down the block, and I had already drained my water bottle. I stood, told Arianna and Lynn I’d be right back, and dashed across the street to use the bathroom. I pushed my way through the crowded coffee shop and impatiently waited in line for the single stall bathroom.
When I was done, I left the ladies room and held my purse close to my body, prepared to side-step my way through the crowded cafe once again. But then I saw the back door. I looked at the crowded cafe and decided I’d rather go through the alley than wade my way through all the people. I put my hand on the knob and twisted, hoping an emergency alarm wouldn’t sound. Luckily it didn’t, and I emerged into the alley behind the coffee shop.
Then I saw her, the crying girl who almost got hit by a car, slumped over next to a dumpster. I froze, unsure of what to do. I knew it wasn't any of my business. She probably didn't want to be bothered anyway. But then I noticed the blood.
My heart pounded and my breath rushed out of me. “Are you okay?” I asked, my voice meek. I doubted the crying girl even heard me. I swallowed and asked again.
Slowly, she lifted her head, revealing a black eye and a fat lip. “Go,” she croaked and wiped her bloody nose.
“Oh my God,” I blurted and assumed she had been mugged. “I’ll help you,” I said and started to move in her direction. “I'll call the police." Just then, someone walked down the alley. I jerked my head up, heart racing. The young man slowed his gait when he saw me. Despite my fear, I couldn’t help but notice his extreme attractiveness. A black t-shirt stretched over his broad shoulders, tight enough to show off his muscular chest and arms. The perfect amount of stubble covered his face from his defined cheekbones to his strong jaw. Carefully tousled hair fell just above his beautiful blue eyes.
“Help!” I said. “I...I think she’s been mugged.” I shook my head, hands shaking. “ I don’t know what happened but she’s bleeding. She needs help!”
Another guy stopped short, staying behind the guy with the blue eyes. He was tall and robust with a head full of wavy, black hair that fell an inch below his ears. His eyes were a dark chocolate brown, and his full lips were pulled into a frown. His dark eyes flicked from me, to the girl, and then to the guy in front of him. They widened with fear, and he opened his mouth as if in warning when Blue Eyes elbowed him in the ribs.
“It’s okay,” Blue Eyes said and held up his hands, flashing me a smile. “I’m going to help her, don’t worry.” He took a step forward, and the crying girl picked up a handful of gravel and sprang to her feet.
"Go!" she yelled and threw it at Blue Eyes. His handsome face twisted into something hateful, and he lunged forward with alarming speed. His hands struck the girl on the shoulders, shoving her back into the dumpster. Her head hit, resounding against the metal, and she slid back down onto the ground. My fear turned into terror. Those guys weren’t going to help her. They were the ones who hurt her.
My pulse rose, and I scrambled to stick my hand into my purse, feeling around for my phone. I whirled around at the same time in a desperate attempt to get back inside the safety of the crowded coffee shop and call the police. I diverted my eyes when I felt the familiar rectangle of my phone, needing to look at the screen to unlock it.
I put my phone to my ear and reached for the door handle. My fingers graced the worn knob when he grabbed my wrist. His nails dug into my flesh as he jerked me forward. My feet caught on themselves and I toppled over, cutting my knees on the dirty alley ground. The phone flew from my grip and clattered on the pavement.
I caught a glimpse of the guy with the dark hair holding onto the crying girl. His body was rigid and his brown eyes were opened wide as he watched my struggle. The muffled voice of the 911 operator floated into the air.
"Help!" I screamed.
Blue Eyes kicked me in the side, causing me to fall flat on my face. Music from the parade began to grow louder. "Help me!" I called again. My cries were drowned out by the roaring cheers coming from the crowd. I stretched out my arm, frantically slapping at the ground in a desperate attempt to reach my phone. Bits of glass and tiny pieces of asphalt stuck to my palm. I drew my legs up underneath me and pushed myself forward and away from Blue Eyes. I planted my feet on the ground and sprang up, only to be knocked down again.
Blue Eyes laughed and walked around me. His intense eyes met mine before his foot came crashing down on my phone. The case cracked from the force. The screen shattered and little rhinestones popped off and rolled away. He stomped on it once more before picking up the broken device and throwing it into the dumpster.
1.) Imagine Dragons- Demons
2.) Of Monster and Men- Little Talks
3.) Imagine Dragons- Bleeding Out
4.) One Republic- Counting Stars
5.) One Republic- Come Home
6.) Animals- House of the Rising Sun
7.) Tom Petty- Free Fallin’
8.) Tom Petty- Mary Jane’s Last Dance
9.) One Republic- Secrets
10.) Coldplay- Fix You
11.) Goo Goo Dolls- Iris
12.) Tom Petty- I Won’t Back Down
13.) Jason Mraz- I Won’t Give Up
14.) Katy Perry- Unconditionally
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Goodwin is the author of the award winning Contagium Series published by Permuted Press as well as many independently published novels, including the internationally bestselling novel, STAY. Emily writes in a wide variety of genres, from horror to romance. She holds multiple degrees in psychology and nursing and has worked in mental health and general healthcare. Emily resides in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and German Shepherd named Vader. Along with writing, Emily enjoys riding her horse, designing and making costumes, and Cosplay.
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