Twist Me(6)

By: Anna Zaires

But he’s merely holding a bottle of water and offering it to me.

“Here,” he says. “I figured you must be thirsty.”

I stare at him. I’m dying of thirst, but I don’t want him to drug me again.

He seems to understand my hesitation. “Don’t worry, my pet. It’s just water. I want you awake and conscious.”

I don’t know how to react to that. My heart is hammering in my throat, and I feel sick with fear.

He stands there, patiently watching. Holding the blanket tightly with one hand, I give in to my thirst and take the water from him. My hand shakes, and my fingers brush against his in the process. A wave of heat rolls through me, a strange reaction that I ignore.

Now I have to unscrew the cap—which means I have to let go of the blanket. He’s observing my dilemma with interest and no small measure of amusement. Thankfully, he’s not touching me. He’s standing less than two feet away and simply watching me.

I press my arms tightly against my body, holding the blanket that way, and unscrew the cap. Then I hold the blanket with one hand and lift the bottle to my lips to drink.

The cool liquid feels amazing on my parched lips and tongue. I drink until the entire bottle is gone. I can’t remember the last time water tasted so good. Dry mouth must be the side effect of whatever drug he used to get me here.

Now I can talk again, so I ask him, “Why?”

To my huge surprise, my voice sounds almost normal.

He lifts his hand and touches my face again. Just like he did at the club. And again, I stand there helplessly and let him. His fingers are gentle on my skin, his touch almost tender. It’s such a stark contrast to the whole situation that I’m disoriented for a moment.

“Because I didn’t like seeing you with him,” Julian says, and I can hear the barely suppressed rage in his voice. “Because he touched you, laid his hands on you.”

I can barely think. “Who?” I whisper, trying to figure out what he’s talking about. And then it hits me. “Jake?”

“Yes, Nora,” he says darkly. “Jake.”

“Is he—” I don’t know if I can even say it out loud. “Is he . . . alive?”

“For now,” Julian says, his eyes burning into mine. “He’s in the hospital with a mild concussion.”

I’m so relieved I slump against the wall. And then the full meaning of his words hits me. “What do you mean, for now?”

Julian shrugs. “His health and wellbeing are entirely dependent on you.”

I swallow to moisten my still-dry throat. “On me?”

His fingers caress my face again, push the hair back behind my ear. I’m so cold I feel like his touch is burning my skin. “Yes, my pet, on you. If you behave, he’ll be fine. If not . . .”

I can barely draw in a breath. “If not?”

Julian smiles. “He’ll be dead within a week.”

His smile is the most beautiful and frightening thing I’ve ever seen.

“Who are you?” I whisper. “What do you want from me?”

He doesn’t answer. Instead, he touches my hair, lifts a thick brown strand to his face. Inhales, as though smelling it.

I watch him, frozen in place. I don’t know what to do. Do I fight him now? And if so, what would that accomplish? He hasn’t hurt me yet, and I don’t want to provoke him. He’s much larger than me, much stronger. I can see the thickness of his muscles under the black T-shirt he’s wearing. Without my heels on, I barely come up to his shoulder.

While I contemplate the merits of fighting someone who probably outweighs me by a hundred pounds, he makes the decision for me. His hand leaves my hair and tugs at the blanket I’m holding so tightly.

I don’t let go. If anything, I clutch it harder. And I do something embarrassing.

I beg.

“Please,” I say desperately, “please, don’t do this.”

He smiles again. “Why not?” His hand is continuing to pull at the blanket, slowly and inexorably. I know he’s doing it this way to prolong the torture. He could easily rip the blanket away from me with one strong tug.

“I don’t want this,” I tell him. I can barely draw in air through the constriction in my chest, and my voice comes out sounding unexpectedly breathy.

He looks amused, but there’s a dark gleam in his eyes. “No? You think I couldn’t feel your reaction to me in the club?”

I shake my head. “There was no reaction. You’re wrong . . .” My voice is thick with unshed tears. “I only want Jake—”

In an instant, his hand is wrapped around my throat. He doesn’t do anything else, doesn’t squeeze, but the threat is there. I can feel the violence within him, and I’m terrified.

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