My body shakes as I try to process my brother’s words.
The ice-cold drizzle of rain pelts my face as I gain my bearings, the water soaking my clothes and making it stick to me like a second skin.
I stormed out of William’s home without my bag or clue of where in the hell I was going.
I’m in an alley, not sure how I got here.
These old neighborhoods are all connected by little alleys, intertwining the massive lots and keeping the garbage hidden out back.
Quite literally. Rows of trash cans line the narrow path as I try to navigate my way back home.
Titus killed a submissive.
Titus killed a submissive.
The words keep looping in my head over and over again.
So much makes sense now.
The way he hesitates at certain points in our play.
He has to know that I’d tell him if I thought he was really hurting me, right?
Gah, I need to find him. I have so many questions and I need answers.
The screeching of tires has me whirling around, just in time to see a black SUV come to a halt, and a face I know all too well stepping out.
“Brad? What are you doing here?” I blink repeatedly, trying to make sure this isn’t some sort of dream.
“You’re one tough broad to get alone. You always have those men lurking, keeping me away.” He sneers as he paces toward me.
“You’ve been trying to reach me?” My brows push together, confused as hell because I haven’t gotten a call from him in months.
Definitely not since the run-in at the bar.
“Yes and no.” I tilt my head, inspecting the man I dedicated over a year of my life to. He’s dressed just as I remember, only everything seems to look out of place.
His shirt is wrinkled, as if he’s slept in it, and there are dark circles under his eyes. “Brad, are you okay? You look… different.”
“Questions, questions, questions. Enough with the fucking questions.”
His tone catches me off-guard. I definitely wasn’t expecting attitude and I definitely wasn’t expecting him to lunge at me like he just did.
“Motherfucker,” I mutter as I narrowly escape his grasp and take off at full speed.
“Get back here you little bitch!” Brad runs after me, his hand reaching out and pulling me back by my hair.
My whole body jerks back, feet lifting off the ground as I slam back into Brad. “Let me go, you cheating asshole.”
I throw my elbow back, getting him good in the gut.
“You’re going to pay for that.” Brad yanks my hair once more, bringing his mouth to my ear. “I should’ve ended you when I had the chance.”
My body goes rigid at his words. “Look, Brad, I think we can both agree we weren’t a good match. So—”
“Quiet. I’ve listened to your annoying voice long enough.” He starts to walk us back toward the SUV and I know that if I want to remain alive, I need to avoid getting in that car at all costs.
I’m still able to move a little, even though he’s got his hand dug into the back of my head, keeping me somewhat subdued.
Refusing to go out without a fight, I throw everything I have into elbowing him before whipping around and kneeing him in the nose. Blood begins to gush from his face, letting me know that’s my cue to leave.
“Oh no you don’t.” Brad wraps his arms around my waist and hoists me over his shoulder, carrying me off to the back of the SUV.
I’m about to start shouting for help when I feel the sting of a prick on my thigh.
What the fuck?
“Goodnight, little whore.” Are the last words I hear as the world I love fades to black.
“Wake up, I want you to see what you’ve done to yourself.” Brad’s voice pulls me from deep sleep.
Cracking my eyes open, I see he’s taken me to suicide bridge as the locals have dubbed it.
Oh, hell no.
I try to fight, move in any way, but I can’t. It’s as if my arms and legs were stuck in a vat of cement.
Every part of me feels heavy, unable to move.
Brad sneers, “You dumb bitch. You think I’d risk you getting up and running away? You’re nice and drugged up, there’s no way you’re walking out of this alive.”
My stomach flips at the realization that he’s probably right. “Why?” I mumble through the gag he’s placed around my mouth.
“You really are dumb, aren’t you? My name is Brad Dawson. You know, as in the Honorable Andrew Dawson’s son.” He rolls his eyes, annoyed at the fact that I hadn’t connected the dots on my own.
My eyes widen as I try and sputter incoherent words. How had I missed that? It must’ve been the shock in combination with the fact that mother was after William and his money, not me.
Brad sees the confusion on my face and laughs sardonically. “I cannot believe you could be this dumb.”
I growl, trying to head butt him with as much energy I can muster.
I had a lot of things going on, not to mention that the discovery of my mother being alive had thrown me for a loop all on its own.
I don’t care what this jackass says, I’m not dumb, and this will not be my end.
My eyes flicker back and forth down the lonely bridge and I try and decipher what time it is. Is it even the same day? How long have I been out?
Brad is busy placing a piece of paper under a rock, it’s crumpled and looks to be in my own handwriting.
What the—? Motherfucker. He’s going to try to stage my suicide!
The only thing I have left is my voice, since my limbs aren’t going to be helping me at the moment.
I’ll try and talk to him, and if that fails… I yell.
“Why, Brad?” The gargled words soak the cloth placed around my mouth making me want to gag.
“Why?” He chuckles, his eyes sparkling with dark intent. “You ruined the only chance I had with my father. That’s why.”
My brows push together, unsure of what his father being guilty of a crime has anything to do with him.
“Ugh. I’ll have to spell everything out for you, won’t I?” He sighs, leaning his frame against the railing. “I was a bastard child. The only reason why I carry my father’s name is because my mother ensured it, despite my father’s wishes. Like any shunned child, I wanted to earn the love I so desperately lacked. That meant I did anything and everything I could to earn my father’s affection. Finally, I’d achieved what I wanted. I got his attention when I graduated top of my class and passed the Florida Bar exam.”
Brad pushes himself off of the railing and begins to pace in front of me, all while glaring. “He said I could earn a spot on the yearly family retreat if I helped his mistress out. I didn’t think anything of it. He’s my father and he’d finally paid attention to me. There’s no way I’d let him down. All I had to do was gather intel on your brother and feed it back to Marissa.”
He stops in front of me, gently stroking my hair before yanking it and my head along with it. “Everything was going according to plan, up until you left. Then the men of WRATH made it damn near impossible to reach you.” He releases my head from his grasp, flinging me back onto the floor, making me grunt. “And now… Now my father is dead. You and your little friends ruined him. He’s dead because of you.”
“But I left because you cheated.” I mutter, somewhat inaudible, not even sure it really speaks to the point anymore. It’s clear that I’m not going to be able to talk him out of whatever he has planned. His psychotic kidnapping stems from some deep-rooted abandonment issue.
“But the joke is on you. Turns out your end will be just like his.” Brad storms toward me, lifting his foot and rearing it before kicking me in the ribs. “Welcome to your suicide you stupid bi—”
Mid-sentence, Brad stops, his eyes going wide before he stumbles back.
What in the world?
That’s when I see it. The crimson color seeping through his crumpled dress shirt. He’s been shot!
Self-preservation kicks in and I will my body with everything I have to roll. I need to get out of the shooter’s line of site until I know if they’re good or bad.
I pray that they’re good.
I’ve managed to get myself face down when I hear the scuffle of footsteps running toward me.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
Strong hands grip my arms from behind, lifting me and pressing my back to their chest.
It’s now or never, Ashley.
Using the last bit of energy I have, I fling my head back, hearing that delicious crunch of bone and a not so delicious grunt from a voice I know too well.
“Ooof. Min skatt, it’s me.” Titus’ pained voice groans behind me, letting me melt back into his arms.
Despite my possibly having broken his nose, I have no doubt in my mind that this man would never hurt me.
I am, and forever will be, his.
Leave a Reply