He lifted his arm again, a tilt to his head as he regarded me, and I yanked at the bindings, composure slipping. “Don’t.” I twisted my hands, but that only made the rope dig into my wrists. “Please, please, please! Oh God—” The stick cut across my nipples, and I screamed his name. For the first time ever, he made me cry. More than cry. I bawled, begged, sobbed under each brutal lash.
“Shhhh.” He kneeled, bringing him eye level with my heaving chest. “Lex…” His whisper carried a strangled plea, and I wondered what the hell he had to plead for. He wasn’t the one on the receiving end of that stick. “Why do you make me hurt you? I should be inside your tight cunt, exactly where I belong.” He wedged my thighs apart and dipped his fingers into dry heat, then pulled back with a frown. “I want you drenched. You know how hard it gets me.”
Fingers spreading the lips of my mound, he buried his face there and dragged his tongue over my clit. I groaned, repulsed by the slick heat of his mouth. He kissed up my stomach, leaving a wet path to my breasts, and I stiffened. He licked the peaks, first the left then the right, and when he moved away, crimson stained his lips. My blood.
“This hurts me as much as you.” The muscles in his left arm tensed, fist tightening around the switch, readying for another swing.
Nothing on Earth prepared me for strike after strike on my breasts and stomach. “Stop!” Fire danced across my flesh, and I howled at the excruciating sting. I resisted glancing down, scared to see the blood smearing my skin, the ugly red welts he must have left behind. Instead, I focused on him, on the rapid rise and fall of his chest, the rigid set of his jaw. The regret in his eyes that made me want to gouge them out. He had no right to feel regret or pity. If either of those elusive emotions existed inside his cold heart, they were fleeting—like dust obliterated by an unstoppable storm.
The stick struck the floor an instant before he gingerly probed my pussy. His frustrated gaze clashed with mine, and I knew I was in deep shit.
“Zach,” I whispered. “Please…”
“Please what? What do I need to do to make you wet? What did he do?”
I shook my head. No, I couldn’t talk about Rafe. A sob broke free, then another. Tears slid down my cheeks, and each one amplified the grief simmering in my soul until all I felt was denial. Anger.
“You killed him! I hate you.” I lifted a knee and struck his erection. “I fucking hate you! Do you hear me?”
Zach stumbled back, out of striking distance. While he doubled over, wheezing between lips tightened in pain, I unraveled, my gut-wrenching sobs tearing through the air, my feet uselessly kicking as acceptance finally penetrated.
Rafe was really gone.
I wailed, aching to clutch my breasts and contain the agony pouring from me. Zach might as well cut my chest open and carve my heart out with his teeth. It wouldn’t devastate any less. Nothing mattered anymore. He could beat me, cut me, kill me…I felt nothing beyond hatred and the remnants of despair.
I lifted my head, peering through tears and the messy curls clinging to my face, and caught his gaze, blasted all my hatred in that stare. He turned away, as if he couldn’t stand to look at me. But was it the sight of me that bothered him, or the truth that stared him in the face?
“You have a condition called dissociative amnesia.”
Before I could ask what the heck that meant, my brother beat me to it. Typical Adam behavior. He’d just arrived, but he was already taking over. Clearing his throat, he leaned forward, dark hair brushing his brows as he cast a glance in my direction. “What does that mean, exactly?” His get-to-the-point tone commanded Dr. Brady’s attention.
“Dissociative amnesia usually occurs due to a psychological trauma, rather than a physiological one.” The doctor gestured toward me. “In the case of your brother, it’s unusual, as it’s neither generalized nor selective. He hasn’t forgotten his entire life, or bits and pieces, he’s lost a large segment of it instead.”
“And you’re positive this isn’t from physical trauma?” Adam asked.
“Going by the MRI results, no. Everything looks good.”
I shifted carefully so the hole in my shoulder wouldn’t throb too much. “Then why the fuck can’t I remember the last eight years?” The doc’s brows furrowed, and I winced. “Sorry, I’m just…” Pissed that you guys are talking like I’m not here. “This doesn’t make any sense.”
His ruddy face hardened. “This type of disorder doesn’t always make sense.”
“Now you’re calling it a disorder? Am I crazy? Is that it?”
“No, Mr. Mason.” He crossed his arms over his broad chest, and I was certain he meant to intimidate with the firm set of his mouth. He didn’t approve of me, that much was obvious. Maybe he took issue with my career as an MMA fighter. Or the tats. Possibly, he detested foul language and the pricks who spewed it. “For whatever reason, your brain is burying part of your life.”
“What can I do about it? Is there some sort of treatment or medication? When will I get my memory back?”
“There isn’t a specific treatment for amnesia. Surrounding yourself with familiar people and places, getting back to your normal routine, those things might help your memory return. I recommend consulting with a psychologist. I believe working with a professional will help you get to the root of the cause.”
So he was saying I was crazy. Fucking wonderful.
Adam stepped forward and shook Dr. Brady’s hand. “Thank you.”
The doctor nodded, his stony expression unchanging. “I’ll be back soon with those referrals.” He directed his cool blue eyes on me. “Tell the nurses if you change your mind about the pain meds.”
“Sure.” The psychoanalysis wasn’t happening, and neither were the drugs. I couldn’t stand the drowsy, looped, out-of-control state they put me in.
Dr. Brady left and shut the door upon his exit. The dead silence that engulfed the room weighed on my nerves. I didn’t know how much longer I could take in this place, gunshot wound or not. I’d regained consciousness a few hours ago to find a stranger at my bedside who claimed it was 2014. Imagine my shock when I learned it was true. He’d informed me I’d been out for three days, spouted a bunch of other stuff, things that didn’t make much sense, and then the doctor had come in, followed by the nurses, who all poked and prodded. Tests were ordered, more words said, and it all hazed in my mind like smoke.