She isn't coming back . . . and she loves me.
Tears fall from my eyes as I close them, clutching the letter to my chest. Pain radiates through my heart, threatening to crumble the last of my sanity. I can't believe it. I won't believe it. She'll find a way. She has too. I'm too in love with her for God to take her from me this soon.
Please Lord— bring her home to me.
I've never failed a mission . . . until now. The memory of my last few hours at Blake's apartment replay through my mind— all day, every day. It's been two months. Teresa will have given him the letter by now, and each time I think of the words left unspoken my heart breaks.
It took a few days for the drugs to wear off. I haven't been high in a long time and the dose sent my senses into oblivion. Thankfully, since arriving at this location, he hasn't given us more.
He hasn't needed to. There's one door and no windows. I've seen a lot of shit in the last nineteen years, but nothing like Bennington's torture room. Chains, whips, ropes, and all manner of other things hang from the walls and ceiling. In chests, stashed around the room, he has handcuffs, cable ties, sex toys, and god knows what else. It's like being in a medieval dungeon during the time of Henry VIII.
The dark red walls glow in the light coming from dim lamps throughout the room. The floor's solid concrete— makes cleaning up blood a lot easier. There are eight stone pillars, four along the back wall and two on each sidewall. It's a basement, I know that much. The chill never leaves, even when the heating system kicks on.
My arms ache. The ropes binding our wrists are fastened to metal hooks hanging from the ceiling. Our feet barely touch the ground. Shannon dangles in front of me, her head sagging forward. I've done everything I can to save her from the worst of this.
We've spent most of our time tied to pillars near the far wall. He's kept us collared, each one attached to forty feet of chain, anchored into the wall. We've gotten to move around, but I've yet to get the opportunity to try and free us. Bennington isn't stupid. He's rough, and beats slaves damn near to death, but never does any damage that would cause immediate death.
He keeps the key on a chain around his neck. Every day's been the same. Late morning, he comes in, moves us from the pillars to the hooks, and lets us hang for the day. Late evening, he comes back and tortures us. He's beaten Shannon a few times, but most of his blows fall on me. Better me than her. He angers easily, and I've developed a talent for doing so.
"Shannon," I whisper.
She lifts her head, eyes boring into mine. "Hey, Lily."
"I need to tell you something," I say, my voice shaking. I've never mentioned Blake to her. My mind's still intact, but last night, after the flogging I took, my body is going to give soon. If we don't get out of here tonight, there won't be a second chance.
"Sure, what's up?"
"I haven't been honest with you."
She raises her eyebrows, scanning my face. "I don't understand."
"I work for Interpol. My boss sent me into the auction to assassinate the guy who bought us."
"I work for the Human Trafficking Taskforce, which as of a few months ago, was assigned to protect your brother, and bring down the traffickers trying to assassinate him."
"Blake? You've seen him. How is he? I miss him . . . " Sadness colors her tone.
"He's okay. Still looking for you, though."
She closes her eyes. "Have you seen my parents?"
"Yes. They're okay."
"I want to go home," she whispers as tears fall down her face. Sobs erupt from her lips, echoing loudly throughout the chamber.
"Shh, Shannon. Don't cry. Seriously, I've got a plan. You have to be quiet."
She continues, and I can't blame her. Five years is a long time to be in this life and it takes its toll. The creak of a door opening echoes behind me, silencing Shannon's sobs. The soft tap of shoes grows closer with each passing second until cool leather trails down my back.
Fear floods her face, and she nods slowly. I growl as the leather belt slaps across my ass, hard, biting into my flesh.