I: Limbo (Anna)
I was supposed to sleep here? Here, in this wreck?
The old house where my father had sent me stank like it was stuffed to the brim with mold behind the worn out walls. Every time I moved on the ancient brass bed, the springs screamed, mirroring the dull ache jostling my bones.
I'd never been anywhere so pathetic, so run down, and I still didn't have a damned clue why.
My father never told me anything when it came to the family “enterprise.” I learned early on that the best thing to do was shut up and listen when he barked his orders. Now, at twenty, I was old enough to realize the consequences for disobeying as an adult would be a whole lot worse than the tanned hide I got as a girl.
Tomorrow will be better. He promised nothing bad will happen here. Just as long as I listen...
A police siren wailed in the distance, puncturing the night with its wail. I was a world away from everything I'd ever known growing up. Whatever was going on, Dad had gotten into something really bad to leave me here, dropped off without further explanation by our chauffeur, Carbonari.
Safety first, Anna. I'll never let any harm come to my daughter. This is for your own good.
I wrinkled my nose, remembering his words, the heavy way he embraced me in his library. His eyes were never more glacial.
The scampering sound just outside my half-cracked door made me bolt up. I was prepared for a lot of things, but if there were rats here...
No, it couldn't be. The steps were creaking. Whatever was outside was far too large to be a rat. My heart started to pound when I heard the muffled voices.
I wondered how secure this place really was. The neighborhood was teeming with thugs and junkies, a well known dump the city had given up on ages ago. Sure, Dad's men were supposed to be outside for my protection, but what if they'd slacked off for a smoke break like they often did?
Worse – what if they'd been taken out by any of the miscreant bastards who called this place home?
Just then, the squeaky weight on the stairs stopped. Someone was on my floor. My door creaked open.
Shit! If there was one stupid thing I wanted to work right in this house more than any other, it was the lock. The old thing popped out of its broken latch when I'd tried to force it shut. It didn't work, and there was no last line of defense between me and the monsters outside.
The tiny chain pulled across the opening wasn't going to stop anyone. I shuddered, pulling at my sheet, glancing around the room for a weapon. A huge, dark silhouette peered through the crack, looking my way in the darkness. A large hand pushed through the opening and unhooked the pathetic chain.
We made our moves at the same time.
The man – his shadow was too large to be a woman's – burst in just as I ripped the crappy lamp out of the wall, clutching it to my chest like a club.
“Don't come any closer!” I screamed. “I'll hurt you. I'm not afraid to swing this thing!”
The shadow stopped at the foot of my bed and laughed. Deep, rich, baritone, and unmistakably masculine. I saw the faint outline of his dark arms lifting up, clasping the back of his head, flexing as they stretched.
“Love, don't you bother straining a single fucking muscle. It's not gonna help. I came for what your asshole father promised. Rossini's got one hell of a debt to pay for sparing his miserable life, and I'm here to collect what's owed.”
What's owed? Me? Jesus!
I chewed my lip. My knuckles ached and wouldn't work anymore. I tried to lift the heavy lamp over my head, but it slipped from my grip, rolling off the bed and clattering on the beat up wooden floor.#p#分页标题#e#
Walking toward me, the stranger kicked the lamp, sending it against the nearest wall, far from where it could do any good.
Out of reach. Out of luck. Not that I had much to start.
Lucky girls didn't end up in pitch black rooms crawling with cockroaches and a man who looked like he spent every waking minute pumping iron. His massive buff body was all I could see in the near total blackness, all I made out before he grabbed me. His hand clapped tight over my lips, cutting off my screams.
“Patience, pet. Fuck, you smell sweeter than I thought.” He stopped covering my mouth, silencing me with that wicked laugh instead. “You a virgin? Just like he promised?”
My eyes nearly jumped out of my skull. I wanted to kick, bite, scratch, even if it meant the death of me.
It wasn't the fear that got to me. It was the fucking insult.
I wanted to give this animal a piece of my mind, same as I wanted to lay it on Dad for sending me to this hellhole.
He had a good reason. Didn't he?
You saw how he looked at you. He was scared. He did this against his will.
My brain was desperate to cling to something, anything to make sense of the insane way my whole reality was falling to pieces in his huge, muscular arms.