Mold. Dirt. Sweat.
Wooden beams, which are rotten and infested with termites, line the ceiling.
My stomach revolts at the stench as my captor tucks himself back into his pants. Snot runs from my nose, and blood drips down my leg from the force in which he just assaulted me. I’m completely exposed, and the restraints prevent me from any modesty. My head hangs limply, fear and shame flooding within me. The man grunts out a maniacal chuckle, and my body trembles. He leaves me alone, and I let the tears stream down my face. In a short time, I’ve been through so much, but this is the first burst of emotion I allow myself because I refuse to let him see me break.
Through the threats and deadly promises …
Through the beating and the pain …
Through the rape …
I only imagined one person … Kai.
Kai has been with me through this entire day of torture at this farmhouse.
It’s the memory of his touch and the recollection of his words that are holding me together. We used to spend a lot of late nights hiding from Burke, and those moments are where I retreat into my head. The sound of footsteps return, and I steel my nerves while attempting to rid the tears from my skin without the use of my hands.
I am strong. I am tough. I am a Hensley.
I will survive this.
The door opens with a creak, and I raise my head to look into the eyes of the man who’s been putting me through hell. His massive stature practically swallows the space in this run-down, abandoned place.
“You won’t get away with this. Even if you kill me, especially if you kill me, my family will make you wish you were never born.” My stomach rolls as my voice shakes. I couldn’t rein in the brief moment in time I allowed myself to feel the reality of my situation fast enough, and he gets a peek at my distress.
In response, he gives me the most revolting smirk I’ve ever seen.
“Don’t you worry about death, sweet pea. That’s inevitable. You should be worried about what is going to happen between now and then.” His eyes find the blood trail that has traveled down my leg and onto the floor, and right before me, his excitement grows. He licks his lips, and my heart beats from my chest as his blow lands hard on my ribs, knocking the wind out of me and forcing my body to jerk to the side. “Your saviors can’t help you here. You can’t even save yourself because I won’t let you retreat inside your head this time. You’ll only think of me. I’ll make sure of it.”
Kai’s words as he ended things between us swim through my mind.
All the women … each and every one he brought back to our home flash like screenshots across my vision.
The memories, good and bad, tangle with the horror of everything I’ve been through since I woke up in this fucking room.
My world? My love? My hopes and dreams? All rotten.
All of it implodes before mushrooming out as I beg for it to just burn me up already. None of it will ever be the same, as everything from before twists with the horrible truth of this moment.
I guess it doesn’t matter because, like he said, death is on its way.
The wooden wall scraps and splinters my back, and sweat and spit that isn’t mine drips down my body and rips apart my soul.
Every moment imprints on my heart as surely as his fingers bruise and mark my skin.
Time passes, and once or twice, I blissfully lose consciousness.
Through the thrumming in my ears, I hear a ringtone, and the man steps back.
Barely able to stand or breathe or think as the man leaves me alone once more, I know that, even if I make it out of this with my life, it will never truly be over.
The clicking of the lock barely registers as I drift in and out of consciousness.
Darkness barrels in as pressure sits on my chest.
“Teagan? Are you in there?”
The door begins to shake, and the walls of the old place rumble.
My brain amplifies the sounds as I struggle to stay in the light of awareness.
My eyes open, and Paisley sits by my side.
She’s here. She’s safe. But I’m not, and I don’t think I ever will be again.