Chapter 3

I don't think I've ever felt so petrified before. Aside from what happened hours ago in my own house with my father, of course.

Flashes of my poor father's face come into my mind vividly, to the point where I have to clench my eyes tightly closed.

The bloody wet gash on my father's forehead, probably from what this man did to him. The way he struggled and yanked to get his arms and hands free from the rope that was restraining him to the chair. And also...

I shiver, cringing in the leather. Wet tears roll down my cheeks.

The way he'd wailed loudly after I'd offered myself to the man sitting in the backseat near me; a horrifying, blood-curdling sound.

I don't think I've ever heard my father make such a frightening, harrowing sound before. It's like it was the worst outcome to my father, me being sent off with this man instead of my father being killed. Would my father really have preferred to die instead of his daughter being taken along with the man he owes money to? Can this man truly be worse than the fate of death?

"How much longer?" The man beside me suddenly says in that cold, aloof voice of his.

For a moment, I assume he's speaking to me. My eyes open reluctantly as my throat closes over. I turn, seeing him in double-vision, probably due to the way my eyes are blurry with tears. I think he's looking right at me again with those horrible, cold dead eyes of his.

I open my mouth, to the point where I fear I'll gag instead of speaking out proper words. But then-

"Not too long now, Sir," the driver in front seat suddenly answers and I press my lips together, remaining quiet immediately. "I'd say fifteen minutes or so."

The man sitting beside me nods once, his grey eyes still on me. He runs them down my body again slowly, evaluating the clothes I'm wearing, my shoes. Stop staring, I wish I could scream, my entire body feeling paralyzed and dirty again. Can't you see that even by staring that you're scaring me the crap out?

He leans forward in his seat, his elbow against the armrest, "I'll have it now, Taylor."

Have it now? Have what now?

"Yes, Sir."

The man's eyes remain on me, even when he reaches out as the driver passes something back to him between the gap in the seats. Something a silky black material dangles off his forefinger by elastic. I realize what it is almost immediately.

An eye-mask, like something someone wears when they want to block out the sun and their surroundings completely in order to get some sleep. My mother Carla always wore one; being a light and sensitive sleeper the way she was.

I feel like I cannot even breathe as the man leans back in his seat, his fingers fiddling with the elastic band, stretching it with them. I can't even seem to get enough oxygen when the man stares at me again, my head feeling dizzy.

He speaks to me this time, his voice low, distant. "I'm going to put this on you." He doesn't need to elaborate for me to understand what he means.

The eye-mask. He wants to put it over my eyes. Why?

My tearful eyes widen as he moves towards me in the backseat, my heart hammering anxiously. "Why are you-?" I begin in a panicked voice.

"You don't need to see where we're going."

He moves fast, like a bloodthirsty snake desperate to strike at me and sink his fangs and venom in.

In one quick movement before I can so much as do anything, he's shoving that eye-mask over my head, dragging it down over my eyes.

Blackness covers my vision, making it impossible to see. The elastic band slaps roughly and snags in the strands of my hair at the back of my head, making me wince.

Tears sting in my eyes as I try to keep them open despite the dark cloth covering them. But then I feel that painful dull sensation of an eyelash getting in my eye, and I have to immediately clench my eyes shut, succumbed to even a greater, deeper darkness.

I've never been more terrified of the dark.

I remember, when I was younger, being horrified of the dark in my room whenever my Mom switched my lamplight off. There had always been something threatening about the shadows that would move around and come to life in my bedroom.

But that pales to the feeling now of being utterly powerless, of being blind, in the small backseat of a car with the loathsome man that had held a gun to my father and had threatened to murder him earlier at home; a man who had gagged my poor father by duct tape over the mouth and had tied his hands to a chair.

Confined to darkness, all I can use is my ears and my own hearing to judge what's happening in the car now. I know that we're still moving to whatever destination that he's planning to take me; I feel the familiar vibration and roll of the car beneath the leather seats.

Only I can't hear what the man's doing beside me, and the fact that I can't... that disturbs me greatly. Is he watching me freely now? Is he ogling my body with those grey cold dead-fish eyes of his like he was before he'd covered my eyes?

All I can seem to hear is my own panicked, shallow breathing in the car. My own heartbeat pounding in my ears. Not for the life of me, no matter how hard I try, can I hear the man sitting in the backseat with me. I can't hear him at all.

The seat beneath me seems to lurch as I dart forward, my kneecaps touching the cushioned exterior of the seat in front of me. I recognize it as a stopping motion. The car has stopped; The vibration beneath my thighs has reduced to a lower level, not as obvious as it had been before. Has the car stopped moving?

To the right of me, I hear the sound of a car door being opened. Then slammed.

My heart accelerates beating in my chest it seems, the taste of hope and freedom leaving a tang in my mouth. Has he stepped out of the car? The man sitting beside me? Could I use this as a chance to leave? Could this be my one and only chance of an attempt to escape?

Swallowing hard against a lump in my throat, I reach out, my fingers touching the cool, smooth leather on the seat near my thigh. I need to be certain that he isn't still next to me. I can't take any foolish risks or chances.

Using my sensation of touch, I move my hand slowly, dragging it further across the seat to feel out my surroundings, to see if he's still there or not. I have never felt more cautiously hyper aware of my surroundings than I am right now.

My scalp prickling in anxious fear, my breathing unsteady, I reach further with my fingers. And further, gliding them along the cool seat, my palm brushing the leather.

And then- oh, Jesus, no!

I am dead. I stop breathing.

My fingers touch that familiar luxuriously silky cloth that I'd touched earlier as I'd gotten down onto my knees, begging and pleading for the man to take me instead of my father's life. I feel the heat of his skin, his leg through the fabric, hard muscle.

Suddenly, I feel like I've just been flung off a cliff or as if I've just descended off a tall ride at a theme park. I get that terrible vertiginous sensation, like my stomach and intestines have fallen and dropped out of my chest.

Crap, he's still sitting in the car next to me. And I just touched the man's trousers.

Immediately, I draw my hand back, interlinking all my fingers together safely back into my lap, squeezing down tight. I don't know if he noticed that I had done it or not, but I wait nervously, listening for the second he asks me about it, demanding an answer into why I just touched him the way I had. Only it never comes.

The door clicks open in the same area as before. Then it slams shut.

"I've just been given the all clear to enter, sir." It's that same man's voice as before, the one that answered him, the one in the driver seat. I recognize his smoky, rough voice.

"Very good, Taylor." I keep myself mute as I listen to them, hoping to make sense of their words. "And everything looks well inside?"

"Yes, Sir."

The car starts vibrating again, moving. I think perhaps we've finally arrived at our destination, but I can't be too sure. We come to a rolling stop again, and then two doors open this time. Slamming doors. I sit where I am, afraid to move, afraid to even so much as speak.

Then the door next to me opens. Cold air brushes against me, making me tremble. The sound of a pair of shoes crunching against loose gravel.

"You want me to take her inside, Sir?" The man again with the course, gravelly voice, the driver.

"No, that will not be necessary." The man that owns me now, the one I pleaded to take me with him instead of murdering my father. He has that voice again, like he's bored. Like this is the most normal thing in the world to be talking about a young woman as if she isn't there while she's practically blindfolded. "I'll take care of this, Taylor." He sounds close. Too close for comfort.

I'm sick of this. I'm sick of feeling so debilitated, so helpless and vulnerable, with not being able to see. Assuming it's safe to, I lift my hand, about to push the eye-mask up and away from my eyes. A warm hand wraps around my wrist tightly, stopping my movements. Slender fingers curl roughly around my wrist, so tight it aches. More tears cascade down my eyes, making the fabric of the eye-mask feel all moist.

"Keep the eye-mask on for now," the man that's taken me says harshly, a strict deadly order. I know better than to disobey him. "There's nothing important to see here." The instance I drop my hand back down into my lap, he releases his fingers around my wrist. A dull ache lingers. There's more crunching of gravel. "Get out," he mutters, something rude and heartless in his tone.

It's as if I'm this hindrance to him, something unplanned. Something that's keeping him away from something important.

Gritting my teeth, I move gingerly, swiveling my legs out of the car first carefully. I arch my heels, my shoes greeting loose rocky ground. Cold air seeps into the car, hitting my skin.

"Watch your head."

I flinch uncontrollably as he lays an unexpected hand on me, on the top of my head, on my hair, his fingers outstretched, the warmth of his palm radiating to my scalp.

It isn't forceful, a rough touch exactly, like he's shoving me. He merely sits his hand there on the top of my head, gentle as a butterfly, like he's trying to protect me from knocking my head against the roof or the door. Talk about unexpected.

I inhale in deeply through my mouth, bracing myself to step out, to use my legs to hold myself upright. Then slowly, I bring myself to lean out of the car on an angle. He moves his hand from the top of my head the instance I'm out; some small relief to cling onto in this nightmare of a situation.

With weak, heavy limbs, I move blindly a few steps forward, gravel stones scraping and crushing together beneath my shoes. I lift up with both arms outstretched, feeling around, my fingers meeting frosty empty air around me. A light breeze pushes strands of my hair around off my shoulders as a car door slams again.

A crazy, sudden impulse makes me think about running. Or screaming at the top of my lungs even, for help. But I'm blind and it's too late.

I hear their voices behind me, their soft murmurings as I keep stepping forward. Left foot in front of me cautiously, then right. Left, right. Left, right.

I may as well not even exist. "Taylor, spread word around to security and all of the men that I'll be having a guest staying. Make it extremely clear to all of them that she's off-limits and that she is not to be interfered with in anyway whatsoever."

"I'll get right onto that, sir."

Next left foot nudged forward, I feel something softer, something less harsh than the gravel. There's a bit of an incline, a higher arch. I inch forward with my right foot slowly, until both of my shoes touch a much softer, higher padded ground. Grass, maybe? Have I reached grass or dirt now?

As I keep moving forward, arms outstretched and held in front of me, fingers waiting to feel something, I become aware of how eerily silent my surroundings have become.

There's no more voices, no more men speaking. Hope blossoms in my heart as I begin to breathe strenuously. Has he left me out here? Am I all alone now? Or is this all some sort of sadistic joke, to leave the defenseless eye-mask covered girl thinking she's got a hope and chance of surviving this? Of being free?

And then I hear it. A laugh somewhere from behind me. His laugh, similar to the one he used while speaking on the phone in the car to the man he'd left behind to deal with my parents. A short, low, breathlessly demeaning chuckle.

I stop still, frozen at the sound of it, lowering my arms.

He's laughing cruelly at me. He's finding sick, sordid pleasure in watching me, in letting me begin to feel the slightest tinge of hope.

The rapid crunching noises of gravel alerts me to his footsteps approaching me at a quick pace but before I can think of anything to do, his hand closes over my upper arm, tugging me backwards. "That's enough now. Come."

He's too powerful, too strong. Immediately I know it's useless to attempt to fight back, to get free of his hold, so I go along with it, trying to keep as quiet as possible.

Our conversation on the car ride over comes back to me.

He said he wouldn't kill me.

He said, as far as living arrangements would be concerned, that I'd be having my own room. That I wouldn't be spoken to or interfered with.

He said that I'll just need to attend some sort of function with him, that people take a man more seriously if he appears involved with another person. He never elaborated on what sort of functions they were though or what to expect. He'd been evasive and abrupt. Closed-off and unwilling to give me more than that.

And, as far as I could tell, he looked utterly serious when he'd said he had no interest in me, in doing anything horrible or becoming forceful with me. I know I shouldn't believe the man. I realistically have no true reason to trust him at all and yet, I find it's the only thing giving me sanity right now. The only thing to cling onto; the hope that he turns out trustworthy and that he keeps his word in the end.

He still doesn't make a move to remove the eye-mask covering my eyes so that I can see. He holds onto my upper arm, dragging me along. I know we've reached inside a house or something of the sort when that cool breeze suddenly stops when I feel hard floor rather than gravel or grass beneath my shoes.

He yanks me to a stand-still while I hear him press something. Then about a minute later, there's a distinctive sound of an elevator opening, the mechanical doors whirring open loudly with a ding.

"Walk forward three steps," he says from beside me, and I do as he says while remaining quiet.

Then the doors close again, there's another sound of a button being jabbed at, and then there's that unnerving feeling of being shot upright that I definitely have come to know as being in an elevator. We're riding in an elevator now. I'm confident that we are. He's still got his hand wrapped around my arm, his fingers digging into my skin as he stands beside me, waiting for us to arrive to wherever it is that he is intending to take me.

In the elevator, just the two of us trapped in a metal box, I think I can smell him. Having to rely on my other senses more because the eye-mask is still on, I think I can smell the cologne he's wearing. It's a heady, masculine scent that fills my nostrils.

I hope that isn't a sign that he's standing really close to me. Who knows? He could even be eyeing me right now with those cold, empty eyes of his while we stand in the elevator waiting to reach the floor he wants and I wouldn't even know it, would I? My stomach twists nervously at the thought.

We come to a halt, then I hear the doors slide open. He shoves me forward, still pulling me along by his hand around my arm.

Panic over my situation makes me feel paralyzed again, unable to breathe. Breathe, I tell myself as I keep letting him lead the way. Just breathe. You'll make it out of this alive so long as you keep calm and keep breathing.

"Stop here," he murmurs, letting my arm go suddenly.

My arm buzzes from the loss of contact, the loss of tight pressure from his fingers. I wonder if I'll bruise later.

There's a tug-pull sensation around my head, strands being ripped out along with the tight elastic band of the mask, as I realize what he's doing. He's removing the eye-mask. I steady myself, bracing myself to be able to see again.

Once he's completely removed the mask, it takes me a second for my vision to get right again. My eyes feel blurry and glued-together from dried tears. I blink them rapidly as I peer round the room he's taken me to. There's just a double bed, with two white dressers on each side. It feels cold and clinical, the room. Exactly like the man standing to the right of me.

"This will be your room from now on," he explains, his voice emotionless, low. "As I said earlier in the car, no one will disrupt you. You'll be left alone until you're needed."

I wrap my arms around my chest protectively, hugging myself, as I scrutinize the man standing to the right of me carefully. My stomach muscles clench unpleasantly at how impassive the man looks, how unfeeling and at how just a chilling blank mask of nothingness his expression is. He eyes the room himself, his grey eyes seeming hollow with nothing shining in them, no emotions whatsoever.

I think he's the scariest thing about this situation. It isn't the unknown or the threat of death at all. It's all him; the fact that he's the one who did such a vile thing to my father earlier, all simply because he's greedy and he wants my father to pay him back in time enough.

Can a man truly be so dead on the inside? I thought I'd seen brief flickers of humanity, of sympathy, out there when he was speaking to me in the car, while he was telling me how it was all going to be. But had I imagined that, all along? Had I just hoped I'd seen that, like a defense mechanism, a protective thing to make myself feel better?

"I sleep just down the hall, on the same floor," he adds while shoving the eye-mask in his trouser pocket, again sounding so bored, so inconvenienced. It's obvious he has somewhere else he wishes to be than here, with me, having to deal with me. "As I also said in the car, if anyone so much as lays an unwanted hand on you, you are to tell me immediately and I'll deal with it."

I try not to show any sign of fear or anxiety in my expression when he turns his gaze to me, looking me dead on in the eyes. I see the faintest flicker of impatience reflecting in them as he arches his eyebrows at me, as if he's expecting something from me in return.

Then I remember how he demanded in the car that I answer him that I understand, and I know what I have to do then. "Y-yes, fine," I manage, though my voice is unsteady and frail sounding.

"The man that drove us here? Taylor?"

Again, I try not to cower away, forcing myself to hold his gaze. "Y-yes?"

"If there's anything you need, just write out a list and I'll hand it over to Taylor to take care of."

I really don't understand. If I'm to be here, if I'm practically the daughter of the man who owes him reimbursement of his money, then why would he make sure I have everything that I need while I'm here? I assumed he wouldn't give a rat's ass and that I was just some insignificant thing he was holding ransom instead of taking my father's life?

I know he said after the phone call that my father and mother had been left alone, but I really do need to know. "W-what about my family?" I ask nervously. "I-I mean, w-what happens to them while I'm here? Are they going to be-"

"- They're safe. For now." Again, like how I got the impression of it in the car when he spoke about them, he sounds sincere, as if he's being honest and that my parents are safe like he assures me they are. It doesn't seem like he's lying, and he holds my gaze, so it isn't like he can't look me in the eye while he says it.

While I want nothing more than to be away from this man, to be alone, I also need to know more. For my own sanity, I need to, no matter how much I feel like I want to run and hide from this man's unnerving stare.

"So you... you'll want me to attend functions with you?" I force myself to ask, ignoring the prickly sensations all over my skin. "And you'll... you want me to stay here?" I know I don't sound very calm or unafraid; My voice is too high, too shaky. I hadn't wanted him to be able to tell how scared I am or how nervous. But there isn't much I can do about that now, really. "F-for how long exactly?"

He jerks a shoulder nonchalantly while running his fingers through his hair, combing the strands back. "For however long it takes," he simply says.

"F-for however long what takes?"

"For however long it takes for your father to pay me back," he mutters beneath his breath, finally clarifying what he completely means, but there's an annoyed, hard edge there.

I feel yet again like I'm something he wishes to spend as little time with as possible. He doesn't enjoy speaking to me and having to explain things to me right now.

"We settled on an agreement. I give him two years."

My mind runs wildly at his words. Two years? He gives my father a two year deadline to pay him back the money that he borrowed?

"And so where..." I hesitate, holding my arms around my chest tighter as a sinking feeling infects my stomach. "Where does that leave me then? Am I to be staying here for t-t-two years? Doing what?"

Two years is an incredibly long time, and he has me here. Does that mean I remain here for the two years as well until my father pays up?

I suddenly wish I wasn't so curious to know. My mind drifts off, pondering all the possible answers to that question. He'll expect me to stay here for two whole years, but doing what? I know he said about attending these functions with him, whatever they are, but... what else? What else can he want?

Surely he can't have two years straight of supposed functions lined up for us both to attend together. What happens after the... the invites fizzle down?

What am I supposed to be doing then? What will happen to me?

He'll make me screw him. Screw him and suck his dick. Or maybe he'll even make me screw everyone else if he isn't completely interested in me. He'll hand me over to someone else, let them beat me, violate me and abuse me in horrendous ways until the two years are over. Or maybe he'll even be the one to abuse me. I feel sick at the thought, my scalp prickling in fear.

Only he doesn't enlighten me. I don't end up getting my answer. I don't get any answer or any relief. His phone buzzes and he retrieves it out of his inner jacket pocket, checking the identity of the caller.

"This is an urgent call," he says, glancing up from the screen to look at me. "I need to take this." There's nothing in his eyes that gives him away; No feeling, or sympathy. Nothing.

As he turns to move out of the room, he pauses suddenly by the door-frame, looking back over his shoulder at me as if he's remembered something.

"Oh. We have dinner most nights at seven," he adds through the buzzing of his phone, those grey eyes of his trailing down my clothes slowly for like the hundredth time he's done so. It feels as if he's seeking something, something I'm not sure what. I cover myself with an audible swallow, disturbed by his looking. Once he returns his eyes to my face again, he finishes in a curt, demanding tone with no compromise or no room for discussion, "I expect you to eat with me so be ready when I come up here to get you."

Then he turns on his heel while holding the phone up to his ear as if satisfied and confident that he's made himself clear enough.

I shiver uncontrollably as I rub both hands up and down the length of my arms, like I'm almost trying to scrub his cold, dead-eyed gaze off me.

The man just basically said that I'll be stuck here for two full years until my father manages to pay the rest of the money he's borrowed off, and who knows what he'll do to me in the meantime? Not only that, but earlier the man was threatening to kill my father at gun point, a man I love more than anything in the entire world, he'd gagged him with duct tape and tied him to chair and, regardless of all this, he still expects me to be able to dine with him at seven?

Like who even has a good enough appetite to eat after all of that, especially with the very same man that just did all of that to a loved family member?

Insane. The man, he's psychotic and insane if he thinks I'm eating dinner with him.

Sorry I took so long to write another chapter for this story as well.

There will be more to what he expects of Ana, so don't worry, it won't just be for functions and that sort of thing. :) All will be revealed, as well as the 'mutual arrangement' between Ray and him, though it was more so a forceful arrangement than mutual.

Thanks for your interest in the plot and storyline, hoping this chapter doesn't disappoint you :) I will try write and finish all three of them.