Your lungs seize in your chest, and it feels like all your insides are going to melt into each other.

 

Somehow, your bones feel brittle, a sensation entirely novel to you, your legs suddenly too weak to bear the weight of your paralyzed body.

 

Ladies first.

 

You can’t even roll your eyes at the pseudo-chivalrous remark like you normally would an obviously sarcastic statement, the bulging pair glued to the door as your feet are to the cold floor, unmoving. Unyielding.

 

Your heart races in tandem with your mind, your brain spinning with a million questions at once, all surrounding a single, primary one:

 

What’s behind the door?

 

You don’t think you want to know. Scratch that. You’re positive you don’t want to. But you’re not sure you have a choice in the matter, his seemingly casual words urging—no, telling—me to go in, and from the way he’s looking at you, it’s obvious that you’re going to find out whether you like it or not. And, if he has anything to do with it, it’ll be much sooner than later.

 

Sooner being right now.

 

As if to confirm your silent prediction, he speaks again. “Don’t make me repeat myself, Ramona,” his voice unbelievably sinister and resonant in this new dark, much too quiet atmosphere.

 

You stiffen at the edge in his remarkable voice, pure ice lining your spine as your eyes flit back to the door, afraid to keep looking into his.

 

You gulp against the sudden tightness in your throat, shuddering as you struggle to inhale.

 

“It’s your house,” you croak weakly, still not looking at him. “After you.”

 

You feel more than see him grin, and you nearly break in half when he leans in, his lips a whisper away from your ear. “I insist,” he says quietly, the amusement in his voice obvious.

 

He’s enjoying this.

 

Son of a bitch.

 

After much hesitation, you place one foot in front of the other, forcing your body forward in spite of the sheer reluctance you feel, blinking rapidly behind your glasses as your shaking feet move at a slug’s pace. You swear you can hear your limbs creaking in resistance, begging you to stop. To turn around and go running in the other direction. And, by God, you want to.

 

You swallow hard, reaching for the rounded knob, pausing just before your fingers touch it. He notices your stalling, your uncertainty.

 

“It’s open,” you hear him say, his breath warm against your temple.

 

You hate how close he is, and you suck in a deep breath, leaning forward and turning the knob just to put some much-needed distance between you, no matter how small. The door opens quietly, you push it almost timidly, going as slowly as you can, stalling as much as possible.

 

But you can’t bring yourself to go inside.

 

Your eyes slam shut for several seconds, and your heart picks up its pace, your chest rising and falling too fast as a tsunami of anxiety comes crashing down on you. When you can open your eyes again, you find a room that’s dark, completely unilluminated save for some sparse moonlight that seems to be trickling in through the high ceiling. you can’t see much from here, but you can make out enough to know that you’re not going to like what comes next. 

 

But it doesn’t matter. In a fraction of a second, you feel large hands on you, and before you can even react, Frost grips your upper arm, his long fingers digging into your skin, pushing you inside and practically dragging you toward the center of the room. You stumble as a shocked yelp falls from your lips, your feet trying to keep up with his long, severe strides and rough-handling.

 

He brings you to where the moonlight seems to be the most concentrated, stopping just underneath the quaint streams of silver light, and you soon realize their source is a dome-shaped skylight in the ceiling. But what grabs your attention is what’s hanging from it: a long, sturdy rope attached to some sort of wide, circular device, suspended above the ground like a flat pendulum.

 

Utter confusion and fear spreads itself across your face. You stare at it warily, unsure of what to make of it.

 

You look down, your gaze settling on the vivid shadow it’s casting in the moonlight, an identical match on the floor just below it. At least, that’s what it looks like at first glance. But then a closer look makes you realize that it’s not. There’s an actual circle on the floor, the same size as the device above, completely aligned with it and…and…are those…numbers?

 

Oh, Jesus

 

There are numbers inside it…just like a clock.

 

Before you can even process this contraption, you hear a familiar clinking of metal, and just as your eyes dart to the source of the ominous sound, Frost seizes both your hands, gripping your wrists in a single palm as his other hand pulls out those damn cuffs—that you thought he left downstairs—from his pocket. He holds them up, clicking each ring open and snapping them securely around your wrists one at a time, his eyes focused, fully engaged in what he’s doing. The polished silver shines brilliantly in the dark, almost becoming a source of light itself as it reflects the moonlight around it.

 

He pulls you right under the strange, large circle, shuffling you around like you’re just another piece of furniture. You try to yank free of his sturdy grip but fail miserably, which only infuriates you. Survival instincts kick in and you fuss and jerk like a madwoman, fighting him even though your efforts are proving futile. He grins openly, seeming to enjoy seeing you like this, flustered and afraid and out of your element, acting purely on emotion. You meet his stupid smirk with the deepest scowl you can muster, hating yourself for not being stronger, silently lamenting how unfair it is that he can restrain you so easily.

 

You continue to protest, both physically and verbally, but he doesn’t care, effortlessly yanking your arms above your head.

 

“Owww! Damn it, that hurts—”

 

“I remember explicitly saying that, if you chose this punishment, there would be no negotiating, compromise, or complaints,” he sneers, roughly pulling your arms higher above your head despite your angry, terrified squeaks. “Have you forgotten so soon, Ramona? Or would you like to end this right here and now and go the fuck home with nothing to show for it?”

 

His words are harsh, mirroring his actions…but they’re also true. And you absolutely hate him for it.

 

Your eyes flutter closed in a strange mix of fear and irritation, and against your will, you stop resisting him, your only consolation the hope that this crazy, surreal mess will be over much faster if you just give in and let him have his way.

 

He slides the cuff chain over a hook at the anterior edge of the device, securing your arms in the air. He steps back, and your eyes stay on him, bulging and probably bloodshot now, watching his every move in dreaded anticipation of what he’s going to do next. In the distance lays some sort of lever, and he grabs it, keeping his eyes on you.

 

And then he pulls.

 

And he does it again. And again. And again.

 

Each time, the circular device you’re now hooked to rises, taking you along with it, and before you know it, you’re being hoisted all the way to your tip-toes. The motion freaks you the hell out, and your breaths stutter out of you, your legs twitching, trying to stay grounded and keep your quaking body balanced.

 

He pulls until only your big and second toes are touching the floor, but barely. You look to him in horror, and are met with another wicked smirk, his expression one of somebody who’s pleased with himself…but is just getting warmed up.

 

Your arms quickly start to ache from the tension they’re being placed under, your back arching involuntarily to accommodate your latest position. Instinctively, you work at the cuff’s chain, trying to slide it off the hook, but you just end up hurting your wrists in the process, the metal rings snug and fitted, scraping unpleasantly against your skin and bones. The chain doesn’t budge. It’s too small and doesn’t have enough give.

 

Frost approaches you again, still towering over you despite the added height of being hoisted. He lowers himself in front of you, and in a rush of panic, you scoot back as far as you can, trying to scurry away from him even though the effort puts even more strain on your arms. But you can’t even get that far, the metal binds restricting you, denying you any significant movement.

 

You feel his hands on the backs of your knees, dragging your legs forward, closer to him. You look down, your wide eyes landing on your feet as he spreads your legs, pulling them apart.

 

Your face sets itself ablaze at the sight and sensation of his hands on your bare skin, and you can only watch in horror as he maneuvers limbs that are quickly turning to Jell-O.

 

Silently, he spreads your legs, making sure they stay inside the circle beneath you.

 

He places one foot on the number ‘7’, giving your ankle a firm squeeze before moving to your other foot, as if he’s silently telling you to keep it there. He does the same with your other leg, pulling it ahead of the other one and placing it on the number ‘11’.

 

And, suddenly, it all clicks.

 

Oh. Fuck. Me

 

***

 

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THIS CHAPTER MAKES ME FEEL...
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

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