Authors: Emma Clark
Tags: #Kindle Store, #Kindle eBooks, #mystery, #Thriller & Suspense, #crime fiction, #erotic thriller, #suspense, #anti-hero, #bdsm, #Controversial, #psychological, #captive
I have researched particular health conditions used in this novel, not only the physical syndrome but myriad mental health issues. From what I've researched—which includes real-life experiences—all Brandon's conditions and their symptoms should be accurate in this story's portrayal.
– Author Emma Clark
"Stockholm Syndrome develops subconsciously and on an involuntary basis. The strategy is a survival instinct that develops as an attempt to survive in a threatening and controlling environment."
"Even psychopaths have emotions. Then again, maybe not."
- Richard Ramirez
**FINAL WARNING: This ebook contains very disturbing content including graphic violence and abusive themes such as captive scenarios, BDSM and domination.**
served blends of cappuccino to customers in a typical coffee shop in Houston, Texas. The type of shitty, boring job a girl takes after graduating high school.
I didn't care. Eventually I'd find something better, though Dad would say I 'wasted my genius' by not going to college.
As I took a stained wash cloth and wiped the counter, a tall man loomed nearby. Blue-green eyes flashed beneath dark brows. That was the first thing I noticed since the intensity of his eyes drowned out everything else.
With his commanding, attractive presence, it seemed a movie star was visiting the café.
His hair was a rich shade of mocha, the ends feathering to a wave on his forehead. Tanned skin clashed with his vivid eye color. Perfect pouty lips curved into a bright grin.
A grey muscle shirt exposed his toned arms and a scythe tattoo moved with the flexing of his bicep. The tattoo was creepy and didn't belong with his charming boy-next-door looks.
I had no idea how long I'd been staring. Quickly I looked away and focused on my scrubbing while warmth flooded my face. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him fidget as if nervous.
He was making
Quick glance at the overhead clock.
., twenty-five minutes till my shift ended.
Peals of masculine laughter followed. A group of three guys breezed by the good-looking man and they lingered, mingling like good friends. More laughter ensued and deep voices bellowed obnoxiously as they chatted.
I shifted my attention to the coffee stain, wishing time could speed up so I could get the hell out of here.
"Ma'am," one of the guys said. Reluctantly I turned.
"May I help you?"
The charming one's captivating eyes locked with mine—and captivated me.
Suddenly I realized he was in the middle of ordering something. My silly little daydream caused me to miss what he said, probably making me look like an idiot.
Flustered, I asked him to repeat his order. Eyes twinkling as he leaned forward, his elbows propped on the counter and his neckline plunged to reveal his bronzed chest. A narrow scar started under his throat, went straight down the middle.
His biceps bulged, tattooed scythe quivered and I struggled to concentrate on his words.
His order for decaf coffee would keep me busy for the next few minutes.
* * *
y damn car wouldn't start. I
better than to drive it today.
Miserable, sweaty and currently roasting in this hot oven of a vehicle, I was paying the price of procrastination. I'd meant to take the car to a garage but... didn't do it because I couldn't afford the repairs.
I thumped my head on the steering wheel, peered through the dirty windshield at the sign on the building:
Getting stranded here was my worst nightmare.
I leaned toward the passenger seat, grabbed my purse, unzipped it and fished out my mobile. Meanwhile I glanced ahead and noticed the man from earlier. Chatting on his phone, he was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the café, his lengthy legs sprawled over the edge.
He threw back his head, laughed, grew serious as his eyes found and settled on mine. Abruptly the sun's glare brightened and obscured his face in blinding light.
I tossed my phone, purse aside and turned the key. Maybe it would work this time.
Please, please start.
It did and the engine cut off. I tried again and got the same result. Shit! I didn't want to call a tow company or call Dad and hear my stepmother's 'I told you so' bullshit.
It was either that or stay here. Choices, choices.
Someone tapped my window and I jolted. His gaze met mine as he motioned for me to lower the window. I pressed the switch, remembered it wouldn't work.
I cracked the door and he lowered to peep at me. "Having problems?" he asked. Inviting lips curved to a flirtatious grin.
"Uh, yeah. My car won't start." Overwhelmed by sudden shyness, I had a hard time holding his gaze.
"What?" he asked, lips trembling with the beguiling smile.
"I said my car won't start."
"Ah, that's too bad." He glanced to the left and slowly turned back to me. "Look here, I can give you a ride home. If you want."
"Yeah?" I was reluctant to trust him. Childhood warnings rang out:
Never talk to strangers. Never accept a ride from strangers. Never take candy from strangers. Never, never, never.
"I just live up the street." He thumbed to the right. "On Russell Drive. You know where all those big, fancy houses are?"
His bragging didn't impress me but he seemed sincere. I couldn't imagine such a cute guy being anywhere near dangerous.
Why not accept the ride? I'd be dumb not to.
He leaned closer and I saw the emerald green that speckled his irises.
"Come on, I don't bite. I'll even stop by my house real quick, let you talk to my parents and little sister. That way you'll know I'm not some sick psycho." He chortled.
So cheerful, this guy. So charming. So attractive, sociable and nice.
So—I gathered my purse, phone and got out. I followed him across the parking lot to his black, sleek sports car. A beautiful car. Apparently this guy was loaded even though he looked young. Maybe mid-twenties?
He opened the passenger door and I slid in, feeling weird surrounded by such a rich, plush interior. Actually it intimidated me.
And as he drove through suburban Houston, I found Prince Charming intimidating as well.
* * *
fter giving him my address, we fell into a conversation where I learned some tidbits. His name was Brandon, a twenty-five-year-old medical school student. This really impressed me, though I couldn't imagine a doctor with a scythe tattoo.
I'd probably refuse treatment if I were his patient.
As we chattered I absently tucked my mobile phone inside my purse.
I lost track of time—and stupidly placing all my trust in him—I hadn't been paying attention to where he was driving; a drive which suddenly seemed too long.
My house was ten or eleven miles from the café. He'd driven much farther than ten miles, judging by the looks of this region.
He took a detour through the countryside where huge trees lined the road.
Vague panic crept in.
'You'll know I'm not some sick psycho.'
Now I wasn't so sure he'd been telling the truth.
Then again, do psychos realize they're psychos? Do they lie to themselves like they lie to everyone else?
Oh, but nothing bad would happen to me. That shit only happened to others. The stuff I watched in movies and heard on the news—what were the odds of something happening to
Right, right, right.
Without slowing, he veered to a dirt road obscured by foliage. Dwindling sunlight flashed between trees.
Before long it would be dusk.
Tears welled in my eyes.
Right, right right right right right right.
His foot jammed on the gas and the engine roared as the sports car raced through a tunnel of greenery. I closed my eyelids.
I couldn't ask. My lips wouldn't move, tongue frozen. My fingers twined together so tightly they stung. This pain gave me something to focus on—other than living in fear of the reaper.
"Where... where are you taking me?"
He didn't answer, drove on seemingly forever, headed toward oblivion. God only knew where.
Highway to hell?
I lurched forward, then back as the car screeched to a halt. Gravel spit all around, hitting his car.
"Shit." He shifted the car into
. "That's going to leave a mark."
Cold tears continued down my face. I wouldn't look in his eyes. Instead I watched the sun, now orange as it suspended low on the horizon, touching tree tops. Fiery hues of magenta streaked the sky like the markings from a painter's brush.
"Mia," he softly said. "You have a pretty name, pretty face. You know?"
I shook my head, sobbed. "Please—take me home."
"Aw don't cry, I'm not gonna hurt you. I'm not a bad person." He reached for my shoulder. I jumped in my seat and he recoiled.
"Mia," he demanded. "Look at me."
I wouldn't. My eyes fixed on the darkening sky as silent tears descended.
Look at me
." He said it with so much force, I turned.
Beautiful jade eyes stared. Once they'd attracted me. Now they terrified me.
"Mia, listen to me. I'm not going to hurt you. There's no reason to be scared and no reason to cry. Alright?"
I nodded even though I didn't believe him. He'd already broken his word to take me home.
Why in fuck's name did I accept this guy's ride? Just because a guy's cute doesn't mean he can't be psycho material.
Brandon inched closer. Curling his arm behind my shoulder, he coaxed me to his warm lips. I gaped during his kiss, disbelieving the tenderness of it, disbelieving any of this was real. He withdrew only to plant a kiss on my cheek. This time his lips lingered near my neck and he inhaled my scent.