The Auction Block (Agents of Interpol 1)

Page 150

I do, coming face-to-face with Jahari Khoui. My blood boils as I lower my hands to my sides, clenching them into fists.
"Let them go. You came here for me, not them," I say, trying to keep my voice steady.
"Oh, now that would ruin the plans, Agent."
Two other men bind Dresden's hands and tape his mouth. In silence, they pull him over to the support beam, strapping him to it.
"What do you want, Khoui?"
"To have a little fun, Lily. You see, I've known you for quite some time, though I'm sure you don't remember me," he says, lowering his gun.
"Yes. I was rather shocked to see you at that charity event a few months ago. I was barely an adult the day I traveled with my boss to acquire his newest sale."
I narrow my eyes, trying to picture him younger. Mentally erasing the age lines and scars, his face swims in my memory.
"You were there . . . " I whisper. "The day my parents sold me."
"Yes! I'm glad you seem to remember. I was told you had memory issues with that part of your past."
"Who the fuck told you that?"
"You'll find out in due time. Until then, let's get the rest of our audience out here for the show, shall we?"
He glances over my shoulder, I spin around as the rest of my team, and the other members of our party join us. All bound, mouths taped. They're forced to kneel in a semi-circle, joining the others.
"Do what you want to me, just leave them alone," I say, locking eyes with Blake. "I love you," I whisper to him.
Tears build in his eyes, and the realization of my failure hits me hard. I couldn't keep him safe. No matter how hard I try, loving him is my weakness, these monsters will use it against me, and I'll fall for it every time.
Wood scraping across the floor pulls me back to the present. Two members of the Taurus drag the glass and oak coffee table to where I'm standing. They position it horizontally in front of me and walk to the kitchen.
Jahari walks over, stopping next to me. He gently runs his hand down my back. As he moves around me, he trails his fingers across my stomach, over my breasts and around to my back again. Bile rises in my throat.
"So, time for some new punishment, for you. I don't think flogging and caning will get my point across anymore. You're used to those by now. This however, you may not be," he says pointing to the table.
I raise my eyebrows in confusion. Three other men join us, sitting large pails of water next to the table. I choke on my breath . . .
"Waterboarding," I whisper.
Khoui smiles in a sinister way. Muffled screams erupt behind me.
"You can do as I tell you, or, I can shoot one of your friends. Now, lie on the table."
I do so without hesitation. The men step forward and wrap a thick rope around me, securing me to the table with my head dangling off the end. My breath quickens as one of them kneels above me. Water sloshes in a bucket, the dripping echoes in my ears.
I thrash my head back and forth, as he lays a soaked towel over my eyes. Without warning, he presses another towel firmly over my mouth. I breath in, water filling my throat and nose, as they pour a steady stream over my face.
My body convulses, trying to break free of the restraints— I can't breathe. I sputter, sucking more water into my lungs, gasping, my chest tightening. The towel flies off and I cough, trying to rid my lungs of the fluid. I turn my head, my body begging for air.
Someone grabs my head and straightens it, pressing the towel over my mouth again. The water refills me, burning my throat, constricting my airway. This assault continues, each time the length of torture growing longer, the moments of reprieve growing shorter.
They pull the towels from my face and I fight to breathe. Second hand drowning is a possibility right now. I try to look at Blake, but someone is standing in the way. The ropes around me slack, and they hoist me off the table. I put my hands on my knees, trying to regain some composure, barely able to hold myself up.
Fuck, my chest burns!
The cane hits my back with a deafening crack and I scream, falling to my hands and knees. I push off the floor, kneeling. Sharp pain radiates through my body as a hooked flogger tears through the fabric of my dress, digging into my skin. The cane comes down across my skin again. Each hit stings more than the one before until my skin splits, wetness soaking the thin fabric of my dress.