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Melanie. So where is she? Where has she been all this time? I ask curiously from the backseat.




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So where is she? Where has she been all this time? I ask curiously from the backseat.

Greysons brother just smiles and keeps driving deeper into the bad neighborhoods on the outskirts of Denver. Hes a shorter guy, with a manner of dress that says I-wanted-to-be-a-cowboy.

I dont know if its the sixth sense they say women have, or the chilling look in his eyes, or the way my heart speeds up in my chest, but something is very, very wrong here.

And suddenly I knowI knowthat Wyatt is not taking me to Greysons mother, like hed said he would.

Take me back, I say softly.

He laughs. Seriously? You give orders now? He clucks and meets my gaze. Lets just make him come to you, hmm? Dont all girls like that? Being rescued? My brothers definitely going to want to rescue his princess. 

Listen, he doesnt care about me right now. He and I are over . . .

When I reach over to open the door, he pulls out a gun. Sit down and shut up.

The shock of having a gun trained on me makes me slam back against the seat, instantly silent. My heart is hammering now, my breathing ragged. I dont want him to know Im afraid, but I feel a shudder of fear as I remember hands pulling me . . . taking me away . . .

It was him.

Oh, trust me, he cares. Hell, Ive made studying him a religion. My fucking father wanted me to be just like him. He sneers. Hes in love with you. Hes had your name on that list for ages and he worked his way from number forty-eight downward, instead of upward, all to postpone the time hed have to collect from you. In the meantime hed disappear and I saw him watching you through the cameras of the Underground. All those fights youve come to? Greyson has been watching you. He pauses you, rewinds you, replays you. Oh, he fucking cares more than he has about anything else in his lifeand I wanted his mind fucked ! I wanted him to think hed lost you too. So fucked he cant finish the listand then the Underground would be where it belongs. In my hands.

He laughs to himself, a laugh that conveys some unnamable fury in him. He even made my father promise no one would touch his marks . . . all because the bastard couldnt have anyone getting close to you.



He gives me a sideways glance and his smile is the fakest thing Ive ever seen. You trust me, princess, he gives a thousand shits about you, more than hes given about anything. It used to be impossible to bargain with him. His mother was gone, nowhere to be found. He doesnt give two shits about our father. He didnt even give a shit about being alive. Until you . . .

That laugh again, making every alarm bell in my system ring even when I have nowhere to goand Im trapped, trapped, in broad daylight, in the backseat of this car.

Greysons smart, methodical, his half brother says, his eyes narrowing on my face. But he doesnt have what it takes. He wants to keep it too clean, too nice, gentlemen doing business. This is my world. He doesnt even want it. Hes just doing all this to find out where his mom is.

He smiles again, laughs again.

I hate that smile.

I hate that laugh.

Yeah, pretty boy Grey thinking Dad is a bad guy. Always saving people. Kills for the wrong reasons. Its a dirty world, the Underground. When my dads gone, Zeros going to turn it into a legit enterprise. What? Are we going to sit down at a committee table and fucking negotiate? He laughs. Thats not the way the Underground runsas long as I live, it aint running like that. Now I have you, so I got him. Now Im the one taking the woman out of his life.



You can negotiate without me. He doesnt want me anymore, I assure. Why dont we go to his mother . . . I suggest.

Bitch, nobody knows where the bitch is but Slaughter, and he wont say SHIT! He jerks the wheel so we weave to the side, then he glares at me as he straightens the car back out. God! Its beyond interesting to me that my brilliant, talented brother would fall for a bimbo like you. But Im sure you give good head.

I remain silent, too scared to speak now.

Greyson thinks I left. He let me GO.

He wont come for me.

I know the exact shade of Greys eyes when he looks at me.

How he sleeps with an arm under a pillow, facedown with his head turned to me.

I know he smells like a forest I want to get lost in, forever, and never be found.

And I dont know shit about his stupid criminal actions.

Except that he was hiding them all from me.

And now I dont even know how dangerous his brother is. If hes a rapist and a killer in addition to a kidnapper. If hes just holding me for ransom or planning to torture me simply because he can . . .

I dont know what the fuck to do!

Go ahead. Judge me. I dont give a shit, the guy spits out.

He pulls the car into an underground garage and slides a gate closed behind us, and pulls me out of the back of the car, pressing the gun to my temple. Cold. Hard. Steel.

My stomach roils as he clenches my arm and drags me to the underground elevator.

Tell me, he says as we ride up, and I can hardly hear him through the pounding of my own heartbeat. Who was doing Slaughters dirty work when his precious Greyson took off? I was sure hed never come back, but oh, no. Julian was willing to practically beg. He was too afraid to lose his golden child. When Julian learned he was sick, he couldnt sleep thinking hed never see his precious Zero again, his Undergroundall the fights, all the gambling, the lucrative business, the prestige among fighting leaguesit would all go to waste if Zero wasnt behind the reins.

I hear his words, but most of all, I feel the sick resentment that hes venting out on to me.

Kick his nuts, Melanie! But Im frozen.

See, Im not jealous.

Melanie, twist around, run away!

It looks so easy on television, but my stupid knees . . . my stupid knees feel like Jell-O and it seems that, apparently, I cant run to save myself.

When Slaughter dies, Greyson gets nothing so long as I got you, Wyatt continues as he opens the elevator gate and shoves me into an abandoned loft, littered with old wood, dried-out paint cans. Sit on that fucking chair or I shoot your legs.

I drop down on the chair without question, clenching my jaw to keep my teeth from chattering.

Hes dying right now. And I got you. Greyson loses. The list is incomplete and he loses. Even if he were to fight me for it, if he wants you back, hes going to need to give it up in exchange for you, and Im going to have to kill him. And youyou want to live, then give me a juicy little fuck and well see. He looks at me. Thats right, Melanie. You see, Ive been watching you lately too. All those videos he plays. Ive been watching you. Your tits bouncing. You screaming, Riptiiiiide! Yeah, my brothers not the only one with a hard-on for you.

Wyatt starts tying my arms behind my back with thick hemp rope.

Fear. Its eating me alive now. I can hear the chatter of my teeth knocking.

The wind whistling outside.

He straps me down and I blink my eyes because, no, I dont want this asshole to see me crying.

Hell kill you when he finds you, I rasp, hating the fear in my voice.

He laughs. Darling, Im already dead. He leans over. And he wont. Kill me. See, thats the thing about him. He doesnt like to kill. He does it only when he has to. But Im the only family hell have left. He still feels responsible for me. Bailing me out of my shit. Hell feel, in that part of him that hates being a Slater, that its my fathers fault Im like this too. Hell let me live.

He ties something around my mouth and leaves for a moment. Suddenly its so still, and the silence frightens me most of all.

My eyes burn from the need to cry.

My throat is raw, my tongue is dry and sticky under the cloth he wrapped around my mouth.

I may die today.

I failed myself, my sister, my parents. And it gives me no pleasure that the last time I saw the only man Ive ever loved, I threw our love away. Oh god.

I told him how wrong he was for me, but never how right. He never knew that I was happy, blissfully happyeven if afraidto be in love with him. I didnt say that I think I fell from the moment he charged into the rain to spare me getting wet. I never told him that deep down I think its hot that hes bad, and even hotter that hes so good at being bad. I never told him that even after he lied, I trusted that hed never, ever hurt me. I never told him any of that, only that I was scared. A fucking pussy.

He will never know that I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that either by a cruel twist of fate or a blessing from heaven, hes mine. And that I was his before he even touched me.

He is what I never knew I wanted and now all I need.

I believed it enough to come back to him. Enough to leave my fairy-tale land and follow him right into his exciting and frightening Underground.

He might never, ever know this.

Noises shuffle across an adjoining room and my stomach pulls and wrenches into knots as he approaches again.

Uncontrollable quavers seize me as I try edging my nails into the rope knot biting into my wrists. My hair is all over my face. I hate it. I. Hate. It. All my muscles are cramped as my blood rushes through me in an effort to make me move, to help me escape. The chair screeches beneath me and I wince at the sound.

Wyatt marches to a small, cracked window and peers outside, then he cants his head in my direction and stares at me, his eyes raking me on the chair.

The lust in his gaze is unmistakable, and it sends my fear spiraling out of control. Oh god, this cant be happening!

A jolt of adrenaline kicks through me. Holding my breath, I press the inside of my wrists tight together and wedge my thumb in between the knot, using my nail to try to catch a tiny opening to get the knot to creak open. The rope loosens as I jam my thumb inside, followed by my other thumb, pulling it open on opposite sides, and I pretend to stretch and arch my back as I finally jerk one of my hands free, then wiggle the other one out.

In less than three seconds, hes back on me. He grabs my hair with one fist and pulls me off the chair, then jerks me facedown on a rumpled makeshift mattress. What are you trying to do? Huh? Escape?

Im scrambling, fighting to get free, but he flips me around and straddles me with his hips as he grabs my breasts and squeezes. My blood pounds, my face growing hot with humiliation as I fight him.

Dont touch me, asshole! I cry as I buck and try using my knees.

He pins my arms above me and I turn my head and bite blindly, pulling out a chunk of meat.

He wails and I squirm free, panting as I get my bearings while my heart keeps pounding frantically in the middle of my throat.

He roars and lunges and I clip him with my heel, the gun clattering to the floor. Spitting out the blood from where I bit him, I grab the gun and swiftly turn when he kicks it away from me.

Bitch.

He smacks me.

The pain rips through me, then he grabs me by the throat and lifts me up in the air, and pain and the urgency for oxygen screams with every breath wheezing out of my throat. He grabs the gun and I kick in the air and raise my knee, ramming it in his nuts. Ooof.

He drops me.

I start running to the elevator, but when I spot the exit stairs just three steps away, I sprint over, grab the door handle, and jerk hard, trying to open it, yelling at it, Come on, come on! But its jammed, and Im about to kick it open when I hear the elevator gate open and angry bellows behind me.

Get over here, you fucking cunt!

Which is when the door Im struggling to open finally gives. It swings open, outward, and Im so attached to the knob, I follow it, taking a giant step forwardonly to find there are no stairs, only a five-story fall, my body plunging into nothingness as I hear the most blood-chilling, desperate call Ive ever heard in my lifeNO! PRINCESS!and I crash into blackness.


: 2015-09-13; : 5;





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