Your mother used to tell you about hell from time to time. Mostly when you were little and clueless about life. Explained that all the bad people who did bad things and made bad choices, who hurt others and didn’t repent for all the above would end up there. In a lake of fire. And brimstone. With the devil.
As a child you never once doubted her, never once believed she wasn’t telling you the truth. You just never thought you’d actually meet the bastard.
And you never once considered that, instead of standing against a backdrop of fire like you’d always pictured, the devil would actually be full of ice; cold and soulless like his magnificent eyes. That he’d be towering over you with the most subtle grin toying with his sinful lips as his merciless gaze devours your body.
The only thing here that’s burning in a lake of fire is your pussy, and while the treacherous thing deserves every bit of the agony it’s being put through, you’re still attached to it so it’s no less torturous for its innocent owner.
You feel his hand on your hip, his fingers grazing your skin ever so slightly, the very tips touching the curve of your naked skin like a whisper, a complete contrast to the hunger and lust in his eyes.
He brings his nose to your temple, inhaling deeply, still pressing the flat head of the crop against your other thigh. His hand moves up to your stomach, trailing over the side of your belly and traveling up your torso slowly, deliberately.
You quake as you stand on your tip-toes, failing to suppress the shiver that rocks your impossibly rigid body, another swarm of goosebumps scattering all over your back and it has nothing to do with the ever decreasing temperature of a typical winter night.
An army of tingles attack your lower belly, sensations you try to ignore swimming and spinning in your groin. You have to turn your head away, as much as you can in your position, anyway.
You gulp audibly when you feel his hand move up the curve of your breast, your chest heaving particularly hard as his fingers trail past the curve of the side of your boob, coming to settle on your collar. His thumb brushes against the ridge of bone, rubbing back and forth in a slow, almost hypnotic motion.
The action is strange, derailing, and it throws you off completely. It actually boggles your mind how he can do it; touch you so tenderly, almost reverently while holding the sinister crop in his hand, knowing that he’ll wield it and use it on you again. Soon.
As if he just read your mind, you feel the crop part from your skin…only to meet it again, the swish of the object and the crack of its impact coming almost simultaneously.
The sting is palpable, and you lose your balance, one foot unable to take the hit. Like a horrible reminder, more firm taps to your foot follow suit, not stopping until it’s back where it’s supposed to be. You don’t have to be reminded to count this time.
“Thirty-two!” you scream weakly, your voice cracking in the darkness, mirroring your anguish. But your pain means nothing to him. Frost doesn’t so much as bat an eye at seeing you like this, cool and collected as ever, as if he’s reading the morning paper.
But his eyes…
His eyes give him away, like they’ve been doing more and more lately. And that’s the scariest part. There’s no empathy to be found in them. No compassion. No remorse.
The exact opposite, in fact.
They are the eyes of someone enjoying himself.
“Come on, Ramona,” he nudges, his tone teasing. “We’re not even half-way there and you’re already done? I thought you had more spunk than that.”
He’s getting off on this.
The thought infuriates you to no end, and his blatant mockery isn’t helping. You glare at him in spite of the tears in your own eyes, hating every fiber of his being.
You can’t let him win.
You won’t let him win.
“Just trying to make sure you can keep up, old man,” you spit through gritted teeth, the words leaving you in a voice that sounds too strange and foreign to be your own.
He chuckles at that, a low, sinister laugh emerging from deep inside his chest, the powerful sound seeming to reverberate into your own body and making a bee-line straight for your pussy. Your eyes flutter closed against the sound of it, against the vigorous pulsing of your core, and you’re not sure if it’s because he finds your discomfort amusing or because of the newest wave of shame that’s currently eating you up.
Your head dips and your upper body hunches involuntarily as a long, desperate exhale leaves you. You seriously can’t believe that, even now, in the most scandalous, debasing, shameful position you’ve ever been in, you’re turned on. Even a little bit. In spite of the very palpable pain and almost tangible anxiety. It has to be some sort of coping mechanism; your body’s biological—albeit grossly inappropriate—way of helping you get through this…this horrid experience.
Yes, that has to be it. Either that or you’re just plain insane. There’s no other explanation. You don’t understand how you can be afraid and quite literally hurting yet, somehow, feel anything other than absolute revulsion toward the man responsible for every last bit of it.
You hate that you feel like this. You hate yourself for feeling like this. But, as much as you hate it, as much as you try to ignore it, you can’t deny it. Not when you’re like this. Not when you’re bound and exposed and vulnerable. Not when you’re stuck here with no way to avoid every single thing you feel. Every single thing he’s making you feel.
“What’s the code I gave you to the entrance?” he asks suddenly.
After a moment, you remember and stutter, “S-six”.
He nods. “Why do you think that is?”
“Because it’s the devil’s num-number and you’re obviously the anti-Christ,” you blurt between shaky breaths. You can’t stop yourself before the words come flying out of your mouth. And you regret it instantly. You wish you hadn’t said them. Not because you feel bad for potentially hurting his feelings—not that the bastard has any—but because of potentially hurting something else. Namely, your ass. Your already bruised, throbbing ass. Admitting you don’t know the answer to his question instead of trying to be a smart-ass when you know for a fact that nothing good will come from it is stupid, you know. But, once again, this blue-eyed demon has found a way to piss you off enough and get so far under your skin that biting your tongue is the last thing you’ll do, even though your teeth are chattering so badly that you can barely get anything out.
He actually laughs at that, his amusement manifesting itself in a low, menacing chuckle that seemingly emerges from every inch of his big, muscled body and reverberates through the dark room. It’s…like nothing you’ve ever heard before. His voice possesses such a remarkable quality, such unparalleled depth that it would be so uniquely artistic if it weren’t so sinister.
He moves closer, dangerously close, his fingers grazing your hip in an almost idle, innocent way, but you know the action is anything but. His eyes bore into yours, his nose a finger’s width away from your own flaring nostrils as you struggle to breathe normally. Not that you can even remember what that’s like anymore.
“Try again,” he says, his words a concealed threat, telling you that it’s not a request. Not by a long shot.
Ugh, how the fuck am I supposed to know?
The tension in your jaw skyrockets, a manifestation of how much you despise the fact that he feels like he can make whatever demands of you he wants at any given time. But that’s exactly what you’d agreed to the second you penned your name on that shitty contract. And, as much as you’re hating yourself for that decision now, you can’t go back.
“I don’t know,” you finally relent, your breath catching in your throat as his fingers trail over the curve of your hip, running lazily down your thigh and lingering there. You can’t even breathe, the anticipation for where they’ll go next hanging thickly in the atmosphere.
The tension in the air is overwhelming, unbearable, and the tension in your quivering body even more so. The worst part is knowing he’s getting a major kick out of this.
He nods, as if in understanding but there’s something off about the gesture.
“I’ll tell you,” he says, the statement more of a sinister remark than a response made for your benefit. “It’s the main number of ways all humans lose water.” He pauses for a bit, his eyes lingering on your chest. He’s cool and collected as ever, but a slight huskiness laces his resonant voice when he speaks again. “Of course, there are discrepancies with age and gender that come into play, so that number changes over time. But six will always be the standard. Universal. Indiscriminate. Applicable to every single person in spite of those discrepancies.”
The edge of the crop head trails down your inner thigh at a slow, torturous pace, as if for emphasis, making you far too aware of the “discrepancies” between you.
Completely clothed. Literally butt naked.
Oh. Hell. No.
You refuse to so much as acknowledge the preposterous, demeaning word, even though the memory of the sign on the dining table is still fresh in your mind.
No, I’m not…that. Absolutely not that. Even if he thinks I am. Even if that’s the role I’m supposed to play in this sick, twisted mind-fuck of an agreement.
You feel the hard leather firm against your skin, cold and severe and intentional, descending over your naked body until its wielder decides to bring it around you. Your leg damn near buckles when he touches the crop to the back of your knee, and you feel an army of invisible ants racing up your back. You’re shivering so much it’s starting to sound like you’re hyperventilating.
“So,” he cocks his head to the side slightly, his voice dipping even more, “now that I’ve told you the answer, it’s your turn to tell me something.”
He slides the crop away, the foreign object parting from the back of your wobbly knee, and a cluster of angry tingles instantly takes its place. He takes a step back, and you release a breath you had no idea you were holding at the small but significant added distance. However, that relief is short-lived.
“I want you to tell me, more specifically, all the ways in which men and women lose water. Separately.” He looks at you squarely, his eyes almost ethereal in the sparse moonlight. And his chilling gaze matches his voice perfectly when he adds, “Ladies first.”