“I’ve had girls like you before. You think because your daddy buys you a convertible and pays for you to get a meaningless education before you marry some simpleton, you’re someone special. Someone important. You’re not. Your whole life has been leading up to this. Your father could have quit long ago, lived a more modest life. He was far from broke when he came to me, only ambitious. That ambition meant more to him than you. Your future husband, such as he would have been, would only have wanted you to wear on his arm, as a symbol of status, or to get in good with your worthless father. You see, Vitoria, I’m the only one who’s ever cared about you at all. I care enough to break you.”
“You’ll never break me,” I said.
The car pulled away. I rode in silence. Light classical music piped in through the car’s speakers, and Carlyle listened, waving his elegant fingers back and forth, as if he were conducting the music himself. The gesture was so pretentious it sickened me. I stared out the windows, trying to learn and memorize the route from my home to wherever he was taking me. I’d already decided I would never go back to my mother and father again. Whatever kind of sick fuck this man was, he was right about that. If they would do this to me, how could they ever love me? My eyes burned, and I felt tears on my cheeks. I didn’t give the bastard the satisfaction of wiping them away. I just kept quiet.
Eventually, the car pulled around behind a large, old house. Revolutionary war era, maybe earlier. The door opened and Carlyle stepped out.
Then my door opened.
I bolted. I kicked out of my pumps and I ran barefoot, but I made it less than five steps before he had me, shrieking and thrashing, and dragged me into the house. Once inside he dumped me on the plush carpeted floor and stood over me.
“These displays are pointless. No one is going to hear you here. There is nowhere to run.”
I looked around. He had people. Servants. A maid in a uniform. How could these people just watch this?
“They are well paid, and understand the consequences of betraying me. Get up.”
How did he do that? Was he reading my mind?
Slowly, I got to my feet.
His hands shot out and grabbed the placket of my blouse, and yanked. It came open all at once, sending the buttons pattering across the carpet. I twisted and tried to cover myself, but he turned me around and ripped away my clothes, the fabric ripping loudly as it split under his grip. My blouse came away in tatters, and he clamped his hand on the back of my neck while he undid the clasp on my bra and pulled the straps down, then yanked it away. He didn’t stop me covering myself, or at least my chest, as he yanked down my jeans and pushed me to the ground, twisting to hold me down as he dragged off my tight jeans and threw them aside, and then my socks. His hand found my throat again and he pinned me down, face up, and slid his hand between my legs. His finger slid along my folds, and I gasped, going still.
“You’re wet,” he said. He tasted his middle finger, his eyes never leaving mine.
Then, he let go.
“On your knees.”
Shuddering and hugging myself, I slowly got up on my knees. One of his servants brought a silver tray. Resting on it was a thin leather strip that could only be a choker, or a collar. He scooped it up, swept it behind my neck, and clasped the buckle just under my chin. Panting, I looked up at him, blinking the tears away.
“What is this?”
“A tracking device,” he said. “I’ll always know where you are, so trying to run away is pointless. If you cross the border of the grounds without my permission, this will happen.”
A jolt shot through my body, I screamed, and curled up on the floor, panting. My arms and legs quivered from the shock, and stars danced in my vision.