Blood & Lace
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
Eden Sterling tried to slow her pounding heart by breathing in and out as slowly as she could manage. She’d learned the “in through the nose, out through the mouth” technique when she was carsick on family trips as a kid, but it wasn’t doing the trick this time.
Her head throbbed, and her body ached all over. Roughly tied bindings tore into the translucent flesh on her delicate wrists, causing her to whimper out loud.
Her back burned from the taut pull of her arms over her head, but there was nothing she could do about it. Attempting to yank her arms free only caused the bindings to cut deeper and her shoulder blades to catch fire. Slowly, she remembered this pose, remembered the viewer from her webcast describing it in detail.
Sexy. Alluring. Enticing. Those were the words he’d used. He was wrong.
More like sadistic, agonizing, and excruciating.
Closing her eyes tightly, she struggled to center herself, to slow the fear racing to the forefront of her mind.
The only truth she could focus on with any clarity was that she was either in a room with no windows, or the windows were covered. She couldn’t be sure. It was damp and dark. Like a basement.
She’d lost all sense of time. She couldn’t decipher how long she’d been there or how or when she’d gotten into this horrifying predicament. She glanced around as much as her restrictive position would allow, but there were no clues to be found. The empty concrete room held only a few cardboard boxes shoved into corners, a bare bulb that was dim but still hurt her eyes to look at directly, and a narrow mattress beneath her connected to the slatted oak headboard she was bound to.
Several metal apparatuses hung from the ceiling, and she had an overwhelming sense of foreboding that forced her to look away from them.
She swallowed thickly, still trying unsuccessfully to regain control of her racing heartbeat. Her full breasts, lifted by the black lace push-up bra she wore, heaved into view. This was exactly what he’d wanted.
She forced herself to hold on to the anger she felt—it seemed like it was the only thing keeping the blood racing through her veins.
Footsteps outside sounded nearby. Each step she heard echoing closer made it harder to breathe normally.
The door opened in a torturously slow, deliberate motion. And there he was. Whoever he was.
He wore all black, his face concealed by a ski mask.
No, she thought to herself. This is not happening. Not to me. Not like this. These kinds of things don’t happen in real life.
But they did. She knew they did. Her insides twisted painfully, as if they were trying to escape her body, escape the horror before the torture began.
She opened her mouth to protest once the figure was in full view, but he held up a rope in one hand and a glinting knife in the other, effectively silencing her.
She strained her neck and lifted her head to watch him walk toward her, and was paralyzed by the gripping fear that seized her on all sides. Seeing him turned her inside out, but taking her eyes off him for even a second proved impossible.
He’s too big to fight off. Maybe I can plead with him, offer him money, convince him to let me go.
Before she could make a single plea, a needle jabbed deep into her left arm. Her jaw locked, slamming her teeth together as it clenched shut—trapping both the scream and the rising bile inside her mouth.
“Shh,” he rasped into her ear. “Not too much longer now.”
The voice was wrong—entirely too calm for what was taking place. As if he were a maître d’ at a five-star restaurant informing her that her table was almost ready.
Worse, it was familiar.
No, no, please, God, no, she prayed internally when she felt herself slipping away. She pulled at every nerve ending, every synapse, and every single cell in her body, screaming at them to come back to life and fight. For all her efforts, she barely managed to jerk her chin a few inches upward. Her skull felt like it was made of lead.
A low chuckle reverberated around the room. “No point in
struggling, sweetheart. The fun is just beginning.”