Chapter 43: Damien

He pondered the mystery of the two women as he signed the paperwork.

The Testarossa is magnificent. I can see why they chose to have a separate auction on deposit-only terms for the most exclusive buyers. He'd gotten a brochure in the mail at his office here in Amsterdam advertising a sale of exotic cars, and among them was a mint-condition vintage Testarossa. The brochure had been a source of some amusement among his employees; after all, why would a man in a wheelchair want an exotic vintage sports car he couldn't personally drive himself? However, as the head of a very large international bank and brokerage firm, those immediate subordinates were paid too well to ask too many questions, and besides, he was rich, and wealth practically entitled you to eccentricity.

Damien Kennedy had always been thought of as 'eccentric'. Starting with early childhood, when his extremely wealthy parents had given him everything he ever wanted; the best nannies, the best tutors, the best toys, clothes, vacations all over the world, except what young Damien really wanted; his own parents. Left with a succession of nannies and tutors and governesses while growing up so his parents could travel the world on business and pleasure, brought along on these trips only because having a child, a family, would look good in certain circles to certain clients; young Damien had leaned very early on that selfishness was the name of the game here, in this world, that you got ahead only by being selfish, thinking of yourself first and what was good for you, and he'd adhered to that.

As he got older he was taken out of the care of tutors and nannies and placed in a number of boarding schools in various countries across the world. Switzerland, England, China, America. His parents explained that they did so because they wanted him to become familiar with different cultures and different languages. What Damien did acquire was a huge list of 'friends' from different countries; since these boarding schools were for the ultra-wealthy and upper-echelon diplomats and national figures and were, by and large, the elite of whatever country they were from, he'd accumulated a large network of personal contacts by the time he finished college at Washington DC's prestigious Georgetown University.

Not that he would ever call these people friends, no. He was a friend to all, but close to none. Friendly and affable, everybody's friend but nobody's best friend; those who liked him put it down to his upbringing, saying that he was just aloof because his parents moved him from school to school, and because of his 'shy' and retiring nature, he was rarely ever in one place long enough to make friends easily. Those who didn't like him said that he was antisocial and simply didn't see other people as people.

Had they only known it, they would have been surprised, shocked and a little uneasy at just how true that was. Damien didn't look at the people around him as people. They were tools to an end, that end being to accumulate so much wealth and power that he could dispense with having to deal with other people all together. People bored him; every person he'd ever met was self-serving, shallow, and narcissistic; it never once occurred to Damien that he himself was that way too. He was very good at saying what would please everyone, expressing views on political topics that placed him firmly in a centrist role, neither too far to the left nor too far to the right. He was welcome everywhere he went; he could make you feel like he was actually interested in what you were saying when what he was really doing was tuning people out. He did have a sharp eye for detail, though; details about the people around him, things people let slip and would never know that he knew unless they crossed him.

As was expected of a young rich man, scion to a wealthy banker, he took a succession of girlfriends, but none of them really interested him. The only thing he was interested in was power, and while there was power to be had in watching the young society women that traveled in the same circles he did fall over themselves and offer up their bodies in exchange for the prestige of being his girlfriend, he was selfish enough to want only the pretty ones and the pretty ones were the most empty-headed and vapid. There was no satisfaction in the power he held over them because they offered it up so easily; he lost his virginity when he was still in high school to an eager young cheerleader who he later tossed aside like a doll he was done playing with. She, in turn, stung by his refusal –the silly girl had honestly thought she was in love with him, and he with her, had spread it around school—but he, knowing her weak points (her vanity was one) succeeded in making her look so ridiculous that he turned public opinion against her and eventually she transferred out of the school. It was at that moment that he discovered that true satisfaction for him, was to establish power over someone and break them.

His college years were ruled by that same urge; he wooed girls, seduced them, took the sex they offered, then cast them off and made them objects of ridicule until they were ostracized from the society they'd grown up in. He enjoyed doing that, enjoyed watching them cry. When one girl, late one evening, in a fit of anger raised her hand to slap him, he raised his own hand and slapped her back, The moment when his vision cleared and he looked down, saw her huddled in a crying heap at his feet, holding a hand to a bruised cheek, that was the moment when he realized he took pleasure in physical and emotional pain.

But that girl went home to her parents and told them, and he got in trouble. As he stood in front of his father's desk and listened to his father lecture him on propriety and how to treat a lady, young Damien formed his own ideas from that lecture. A 'lady' was someone from his own circle; but if he did that to someone inferior, no one would complain. This he tried a few days later, taking his car out for a joyride, picking up a prostitute and beating her into almost-unconsciousness before he took her and left a couple of hundred dollar bills for her. And when no retribution descended on him for this act, he adopted it with a great deal of private satisfaction.

It was on one of his joyrides that retribution came for his excesses, though he didn't recognize it for retribution and would have scoffed if anyone had told him so; he crashed his Porsche into a tree late one night after yet another disgustingly satisfying tryst with yet another back-alley prostitute, this one who he left tied to a hotel bed with bruises that would take weeks to vanish. When he woke up in the hospital he experienced the first crisis if his life; he couldn't feel his legs. He had wrapped his Porsche sideways around the tree and a piece of the chassis had driven into his lower back, breaking his coccyx. The resulting soft tissue damage had created swelling that pressed down on the nerves in his lower spine and left him wholly incapable of feeling or moving his legs.

He'd fallen into black despair then, broken only by an even blacker rage as his parents used his condition to garner sympathy in all of their circles without feeling any kind of real concern for him themselves. However, as months of therapy stretched on, he saw how cleverly they manipulated public opinion around them to work to their advantage, and so, at the end of six months when he woke one morning and found himself able to feel his legs itching under the wool pajama pants he wore, he reorganized his plans for his life.

He became, to all outward appearances, a sober, steady, responsible young man, putting aside his rakehell ways and focusing on the business his father had been trying to push him into. Many people saw the poor crippled son of the banker, and Damien learned how to use sympathy to achieve his ends.

People seemed to have a peculiar blind spot about handicapped people like Damien. Wherever he went people were extra friendly, polite, courteous; he would sometimes dress in baggy, ugly clothes and get on public transportation just to watch people get up and move seats to accommodate his wheelchair. It gave him a childish feeling of pleasure, a little spark of meanly vindictive delight in watching them go out of their way to accommodate him. The lower spine swelling got better, and with it came returned movement to his lower half, but he never told his parents that he could walk, and he paid his doctor handsomely to keep it a secret as well. He'd discovered that his apparent handicap was yet another weapon he could use, and he used it.

And as he immersed himself more and more in the world of banks and finances, he learned where all the true power in the world lay; money. Keeping his eyes and ears opened exposed him to the peccadilloes of the other financial moguls, politicians, and society leaders around him, and he saw their affairs, their mistresses, wives, families, all surrounded by, and run on, money. He used the sympathy he got from others to support his deals, to supplement the mergers and acquisitions he brokered that earned him a spot in an international business magazine's list of top young international moneymakers. By the time he was thirty he was on top of the financial world, but despite all the money he had, he still felt like something was missing.

When he had been picking up prostitutes he'd loved the heady rush of power that gave him, but as far back as the night of the accident he'd been noticing that it wasn't as satisfying anymore. He wanted more. He wanted the ultimate drug. And then, one evening at a politician's party, he saw the host accost his maid in the kitchen, slap her hard enough to send her reeling to the floor. When the politician told Damien to 'punish' the maid as well by slapping her, then ordered the maid to stand still for Damien to hit, Damien found that ultimate drug.

This, then, was power. True power. To be able to force someone to do something they didn't want to do knowing he would use the obedience to hurt them—it was a heady power rush. And he wanted more. His parents and friends noticed that he suddenly seemed to be spending a lot of time with that politician, even going to Amsterdam with the man on a personal vacation.

That vacation, had anyone known it, was specifically to introduce Damien at the slave market. The politician was very active in the slave trade, funding the slavers and even buying some on occasion—the maid at the party had been one of his 'acquisitions'. With his guidance and advice, Damien became Master Damien Kennedy with the purchase of his first slave.

She had been African. Not very expensive, as slaves went, a few thousand, but it opened Damien up to a world he'd never been aware of before. She was older, an experienced slave, and Damien spent a week in Amsterdam with her catering to his every need and whim, serving as his punching bag when he felt like it.

The problem was that he couldn't take her home.

On the plane back to his parents' home in Washington DC he reflected casually. Killing her had been so easy, just a quick twist of her head on her neck, snapping it. But it had been too quick, and she hadn't suffered enough, and it really was a waste of a good slave.

And so he had looked around for a place where he, like the politician who was mentoring him, could indulge in his excesses in private. A tropical island struck his fancy, and a year after he had bought and killed his first slave, he had purchased a tropical island in the island country of Fiji and turned it into his own idea of paradise, golden sand, blue water all around, a lagoon in the center of the top of the island with a beautiful house, a solar power facility to provide electricity for that house, and smaller solar and wind turbines to provide power to cabins for the staff that tended the island house and the livestock that provided food whenever he was in residence. And, under the house, in the bedrock of the extinct volcano, he used natural lava tubes to hollow out a series of chambers, fitted out as cells for the future occupants, and also started a very quiet but eclectic collection of medieval torture instruments—his favorite time period was the Spanish Inquisition—and stored those in those chambers under the house.

By the time his parents died when he was forty-two he was not only one of the richest men who frequented the slave market in Amsterdam, but he was also a frequent buyer. The slaves he bought were never seen again; few of the slave dealers cared, and any new dealer who even casually asked where all his slaves went was told to shut up. Damien didn't tell anyone about the fishing platform on one side of his island, a fishing platform that overlooked a deep lagoon that was home to some of the most ferocious sharks. He had a lot in common with those sharks; fancied himself one of them as he stood on the edge of the platform listening to yet another used up female slave scream and beg and plead as he lowered her at the end of a winch to the sharks.

His parents dying changed a lot of his plans. They had left him everything they had, and, combined with his own considerable fortune, he found himself suddenly in the enviable position of never actually having to work another day in his life if he didn't want to. With his father's ailing health during his last few years of life, he'd had a man-of-business handle his affairs for both himself and his wife, Damien's mother, and as a result when Damien looked over the finances after the dirt was piled on the coffins and the funeral was over, he found himself with enough money and leisure that he could indeed be a fulltime slave owner. So he had handed his own affairs to his father's man of business, paid the man handsomely to continue running the businesses for Damien and only bother Damien with important deals that would interest him, spoken to the dealers at the slave market, telling them he wanted a slave that was exotic, unusual, different. And then he'd gotten the dealer's brochure disguised as a car auction.

He had caught his breath at the first sight of the pale-skinned, lightly-freckled redhead that had been dragged in at the end of the chain. She was indeed beautiful—but he wasn't just looking for mere beauty, he wanted something else, something more, and he'd been about to leave the auction when the redhead started fighting, and so had the scarred, damaged slave who had been dragged in behind her.

Their screaming and pain excited him, but even more intriguing was the way they were fighting, and the reasons why. They were fighting for and with each other, careless of their own pain as long as they could save the other. It had been astounding; Damien had never ever seen anyone who would endure pain for another person; he'd heard stories of people who swore they'd give up their lives for each other but he had never encountered it in person and had no frame of reference for what he was seeing. The way the two girls clung to each other, and particularly the fiercely protective look the scarred one had given him as she watched him and listened to the bidding war. That look was what had made him decide to buy them, right then and there, and he had offered top price for them.

Now he just had to figure out how to get them out of Amsterdam and out to his private island.

He finished signing the last of the paperwork that would allow the dealers to accept a wire transfer of a quarter of a million dollars for the two women and picked up his phone, dialed a number. "Viktor," he said when the person he'd called picked up. "Do me a favor and send out my private plane. I've made a purchase—a couple, actually—here in Amsterdam and I want them transported to my island. Send Hans with the Lear; I'll need his expertise with a question of some chemical dependency. Yes, I know he's persona non grata in Amsterdam after that little fiasco with the scalpels and the little street urchin, but he's never going to leave the plane and the authorities will never know he was here. My Testarossa has some—chemical dependencies that I need Hans to diagnose and advise me on." Silence for a moment. Then, "Oh, the other purchase. She is for the staff, to reward their faithful service; the only reason I purchased her at all is because if she is threatened the Testarossa will do whatever is asked of her. It's a potent weapon and I intend to take full advantage of it. Yes. All right, have the coffin prepared, like we usually do, but have two of them and two military uniforms."

He switched off the phone, looked at the dealers. "My private plane will be here tomorrow. Once it gets here there will be two coffins in it along with two sets of military fatigues. My doctor will examine them to be sure I am getting what I paid for, then I will drug them both to ensure that they do not wake, and three days from now I will have them home. It's been a pleasure dealing with you." Which it actually wasn't, he could care less, but he was very good at saying what people wanted to hear, and these dealers were no different. They smiled, shook his hand, and he turned and wheeled himself away, thinking gleefully of all the things he would do to the redhead when he got her home…

Author's Note: And here is the end of Part 2. The next part will start going up next weekend. I will say that it was a difficult section of the story to write, and I have tried very very hard not to make it too graphic, but if you'rea fan of my writing but not a fan of...gritty reality...then I would recommend that you skip part 3 and wait for part 4. Part 3 will be posted under the 'M' category due to several reviewers' comments that they were somewhat disturbed by sections ofthe previous two novels. I have spent some time rewriting part 4 so that reading part 3 is not entirely necessary to figure out what happened-and Damien Kennedy's trial in the next novel will also provide some fill-in detail.