A feeling I couldn’t pin down fell upon my chest, making it difficult to breathe, and the fantasies I’d ignored since early adolescence surfaced. Those cuffs, the ability to lock away another human being…a sexy, vulnerable woman…I squeezed my free hand into a fist as my dick hardened. Fuck me and my deviant thoughts.
They didn’t mean anything, and they sure as fuck didn’t mean I’d lost my damn mind by acting on them. I stumbled back, gripped my head, and told myself to breathe. “I wouldn't have done this.” My voice sounded far away, as if filtering through the hollow of a tunnel. Someone else's voice. Someone else's life.
Someone else did this.
“I'm sorry, man. This was what I was afraid of. I shouldn't have brought you down here.”
With morbid curiosity, my eyes veered to the cage again, and one glaring detail finally punched me in the face. A locked up prison cell, but no prisoner cowering inside. If I’d kidnapped her…then where the fuck was she?
The fall from euphoria was like hurtling through the air without a parachute. Hitting bottom hurt worse than anything. I remembered everything. How deliriously I’d wanted him, how strong our connection was during those hours when only an infinite amount of pleasure existed. Sorrow, grief, guilt…none of it had burdened me.
I didn’t have to open my eyes to know the warm body against mine, clutching me possessively, was Zach’s and not Rafe’s. His hangover stench attacked my sense of smell. With a deep groan, I leaned over the side of the bed and vomited every last memory onto the hardwood, purged it all from my system. But my system refused to stop spiraling into the depths of horror.
I’d sucked his cock. Willingly, wantonly. Like the whore he always accused me of being. Somehow, in the confusion of my fucked up mind, I’d thought he was Rafe. How was that even possible?
“What did you give me?” I asked, my voice raspy from deep sleep. After we’d fucked half the night away and the restless energy in my veins subsided, I’d conked out like the dead.
“Just a little ecstasy.”
I shook my head, untangling from his hold. “I’ve tried E before. That was…something else.”
“That was the purest shit you’ll ever come across.” He rolled me until we lay face to face. “Plus I gave it to you anally. I knew it would open you up.” He slid a hand down my hip, around my upper leg, and burrowed between my clenched thighs.
I shrank from his touch, and his eyes darkened. His hand inched higher while he tangled his other in my hair, yanking until my eyes watered.
“Let me go.”
His hairy leg slid between mine, giving him enough room to shove his fingers in me. “You’re gonna get wet for me, Lex.”
I closed my eyes, clicked my teeth together, and tried to tune out his heavy breathing, but I couldn’t ignore his touch. He spread me wide, thrust deep, pulled out, brushed my clit, and repeated the process over and over at an unyielding pace. A subtle pressure built in my core, increasing with the slide of his fingers. I drew blood from my lip to keep from rocking my hips.
Oh God. Why? Where had my armor of apathy gone?
He leaned forward, his lips expelling rapid breaths into my ear, and whispered, “Welcome back.” Withdrawing his hand from my pussy, he forced his fingers into my mouth. “Taste that. That’s want. That’s need.”
I chomped down hard. As he jerked away, trying to save himself from another vicious bite, I scrambled in the opposite direction and crashed to the floor. “I hate you!”
“Last night, you said you loved me.”
“You drugged me!”
“No, I freed your mind and worked past all the shit you carry around with you. You think it’s wrong for us to be together?” He propped himself up on his elbows and glared down at me from the edge of the mattress. “Last night, you didn’t feel that way.” He reached out and ran his thumb across my trembling lips. “And you weren’t thinking of him, were you?”
Rafe. It was Rafe. I wouldn’t have done that with Zach. Only Rafe. I blinked rapidly and pushed away, ass sliding across the floor in desperation. My spine hit a wall. The corner beckoned me, offering the illusion of safety, of escape. I huddled there, arms snaking around my knees as memories from the night before hit me with full force.
For a few hours, Rafe had been alive. In my arms, in my hands, in my mouth. Alive. Warm. Mine. I pulled in a breath, tried to force it deep into my lungs, and panicked when I couldn’t. Tears blurred my vision, grief choked my throat, and the glaring truth flooded my senses. It had all been a drug-induced illusion my psyche had used to trick me. A pitiful sound escaped, part sniffle, part sob.
Zach climbed to his feet, the tangled sheets and bedding coming with him to hang over the side, taunting me with the evidence of our wild night of sex, one in which I’d been a full participant. The observation almost made me retch again, but I swallowed the sour taste of disgust burning my throat.
“Get up,” he demanded, his tone leaving no room for argument. Once I stood on jittery legs, he herded me into the bathroom and switched on the shower. I clenched my hands into fists, eyes firmly shut as water flowed over me. The sobs wouldn’t subside. They drummed out in soft shudders I couldn’t control. If I didn’t open my eyes, if I blocked out his touch, maybe I wouldn’t totally lose it.
No, I was losing it. Pain was not a new entity, but this type of crushing anguish—the kind that made it nearly impossible to breathe, to think, too see beyond the next second, minute, hour—would make the strongest person crumble. And I wasn’t strong. Not in this moment. My thoughts jumbled, zipping through my mind so fast I couldn’t grasp any of them.
Save for one. Rafe was dead. Last night I’d lived a dream, so vivid I could still feel him against me. But I’d never feel him again. Never hear his voice, his laughter. Never breathe in the musk of his skin, feel the sweat of his brow at my breasts. Never again lose my breath to the vise of his hands around my throat. I’d give anything to get that back, even if giving up control terrified me.
Zach ran a blade up my leg, startling me. “Dry it up, Lex. You’re pissing me off.”
“I-I c-can’t.” A hiccup echoed in the stall, followed by another.
He took his time shaving my legs, and I let him. And he let me cry it out. Every atom of my body was fightless. Worthless. Eventually, he finished grooming me and tugged on my hand, urging me from the shower with a gentleness that penetrated the crazy state of my head. A towel landed around my shoulders, pulled tight in front, and he wrapped another around his waist before threading our fingers together. A hint of tenderness softened his expression as he led me into the bedroom.