Mac didn’t have a clue where Terry had gone off to, and he really didn’t give a rat’s ass. Just as long as the guy wasn’t around him, or near Liz. He couldn’t believe the bastard had been close to forcing himself on her. Grabbing the ice pack from the emergency kit, he gave it a snap to start the freezing process as he headed up the stairs for the antiseptic. Unlocking the bedroom door, he heard Liz sniffling and his heart sank. He didn’t say a word as he moved towards her and took a seat in the chair across from her, lifting the ice pack to her mouth. When she jerked back, flinching, he wanted to kill Terry for making her so jittery. Scaring or hurting her hadn’t been part of the plan.
“I’m sorry.” Carefully he laid the bag against her mouth. “This will help the swelling.” His eyes shifted to the open blouse and to the lush pink breasts, and his male hormones came to attention. Berating himself, he lifted his eyes.
“I…have some antiseptic here, to clean the wound to make sure it doesn’t get infected.” Setting the ice pack on the floor, he lifted the bottle, dabbing a cotton tipped swab in the solution. “He won’t touch you again. I’ll make sure of that.” She winced when he touched the swab to her cut and he apologized once more. “Sorry.”
He didn’t blame her for not talking; her lip and jaw probably hurt like a bitch, and beyond that, she was probably utterly terrified. “Um…I’m going to untie you and let you…fix yourself up in the washroom.” He stood, moving in behind her, and got busy untying the knots.
“There you go.” Leaving the ropes on the floor, he took hold of her arm to help her up. He could feel her body shaking. He led her to the adjoining washroom near the window, stopping by the door. “I’ll be waiting right here.”
She caught the warning and entered the tiny washroom, closing the door behind her. She took one look in the mirror and her legs nearly buckled. With shaky hands she quickly did up the buttons on her blouse. She’d nearly been raped.
Feeling ill, she bent over the toilet and vomited until she emptied herself. Standing, she washed her mouth, then sat down and relieved herself. If the big guy hadn’t come in when he had, she might have been—no, she would have been raped. She needed to get out of here, now. Looking around the tiny room, she threw the shower curtain open to see a tiny circular window that looked no bigger than her head. Damn it, so much for thinking she could escape from the bathroom.
She took a deep breath, gathering her strength, then pushed the door open. Seeing him waiting for her, she knew what she needed to do. With a quick lift of her leg, she kicked him hard in the gut, sending him stumbling backwards onto the bed. Dashing for the door, she yanked it open and let out a loud scream when he caught her around the waist. She wasn’t beat yet, so she kept kicking and flailing with her arms.
“Jesus,” he exclaimed as he tried to get a good hold on her. Wrapping his arms around hers, pinning them to her sides, he dragged her to the bed. It was then that he realized the ropes still lay by the chair. “Damn it.”
“Let me go.” Wiggling, trying to break free of his hold, she feared that now he, too, would take his turn with her. She saw the slimy bastard who attacked her enter the room and went completely still.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Get the ropes.”
Her body stiffened momentarily when he climbed on top of her. “No, leave me alone; let me go; let me go.” Liz grunted, fighting, trying to break his hold. The guy didn’t just look big, he was big, and muscular. He felt like a lead weight pinning her down.
“Want me to tie her up?”
“No, just give me the ropes and go.” He responded to Terry, then looked down at Liz with a thin smile. “Nice try, princess, you’ve got balls.”
Relieved when Betty Rubble left the room, Liz let out a long breath. Then she felt her arms yanked above her head. Her pulse raced and her heart thundered as Bart tied her hands to the posts. “What are you going to do to me?” Was he going to punish her for trying to get away? God, please, don’t let him hurt me.
“Tie you to the bed for one. Then I’m going to put some more ice on that lip.”
Her brow furrowed in confusion. “Are you for real?”
“Last time I looked.” He secured the knots, then lifted off of her to grab the ice.
“I just kicked you and tried to get away. I’d think you’d be pretty pissed at that.” What the hell is wrong with you, Liz? Stop egging him on!
“Oh, I am.” He laid the ice on her lip, his eyes meeting hers. “But I’m not going to smack you around for it. What the other guy tried to do to you, what he did do to you, I don’t condone that sort of thing.”
He was being serious, she could tell by the tone of his voice and the look in his eyes. “You’re a baffling man— what’s your name?” The bag of ice slid from her mouth as she spoke.
“Bart,” he said with a smile, lifting the bag, holding it against her mouth.
“Right.” How droll. “Then why are you doing this to me? Why not let me go?”
“I enjoy abuse,” he said comically, as though trying to lighten her mood.
“Yeah, well, I’ll be more than happy to give you all the abuse you like, Bart.” She emphasized his name, her eyes narrowing with just a hint of humor in them.
“Pretty hard to do that, tied to the bed. Let’s take a look at that lip.” Pulling the ice from her lip, he leaned in to get a better look.
When his finger touched her bottom lip, she felt her breath catch.
“We’ll just leave the ice on it a bit more.” He stood, inhaling sharply.
“Where are you going?”
“Getting the lights.”
“Why?” Her voice quivered.
“I told you, princess, I’m not like the other guy. It’s getting late.” He shut the light off and the only form of illumination came from the TV on the dresser.
“I really hate that name.” She watched as he moved to the TV and shut it off. The darkness filled the room and her heart began to hammer. She felt the darkness surround her, smothering her with its greedy fingers.
“Yeah, why is that?” Clicking on the washroom light, he closed the door so that only a sliver of light could be seen.
She focused on the light, however small, and reminded herself there was nothing in the dark that could harm her. “I’m not royalty for one. What are you doing?”
With the light knitted blanket in hand, he draped it over her legs. “Covering you up?”
“In case you’re cold during the night.” Grabbing a pillow from beside her, he saw her eyes as they watched his every move. “Do you snore, princess?”
Her teeth gnashed again to the silly nickname. “No, I most certainly do not snore.”
“We’ll see. Sleep tight now.” He carried the pillow to the arm chair in the corner beside the bed and tucked it behind his head as he sat down.
“You’re sleeping here?”
“Yep. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
Rolling her eyes, she thought how childish that statement had been. She lay there tied to the bed fighting the sleep. She wanted to be on alert at all times, just to be safe, and every time he moved in the chair beside her, she waited, worrying, wondering. But inevitably sleep took hold and she dozed off.
Her eyes shot open as the alarm clock buzzed beside her. “Shit.” Her heart hammering, she watched as he reached over and shut it off.
“It’s only six o’clock.” She yawned, her lip cracking and creating a ripple of burning pain. “Damn it.”
“I’m an early riser. Hmmm, you opened it up some last night. Hurt much?”
“No, it feels wonderful, you idiot.” She paused, shocked that she had said such a thing to him, and waited for any response, however brutal it might be.
“Well, someone’s not very chipper in the morning.”
She cocked her head to the side, baffled by his response.
“I guess I wouldn’t be too chipper either if my lip was killing me. I’ll clean it up for you, then grab some Advil for the pain.”
She watched in complete astonishment as he walked to the washroom—he wasn’t even disturbed with her? Okay, what’s up with this guy? She needed to test the waters. “You try sleeping with your arms tied to the bed and see how happy you are in the morning.”
He stepped from the washroom with a damp cloth, moving towards her. “I wasn’t exactly comfortable either, princess.”
Hmmm. “You could have slept in your bed. I didn’t have a choice as to how or where I slept.” She snarled her response, feeling rather brave now.
“Sweetie, you are in my bed.” Leaning over her, he dabbed the blood on her chin.
Her pulse fluttered beneath her skin and as her eyes lifted to meet his, it fluttered even more. Sweet God, what the hell was wrong with her? How could she be feeling arousal from this man holding her captive?
“What?” She jumped, her response quick.
“I asked if I let you go to the washroom to clean your lip, do you promise not to kick me again?”
She told her pulse to slow down, calmed her rapid breathing and nodded. She couldn’t be feeling something for him, that was just…wrong.
“I can manage from here,” she insisted as he hoisted her to her feet, trying to pull her hands from his. Her pulse fluttered again, and it pissed her off.
“I’m sure you can.” But he helped her to the washroom just to be sure.
She closed the door in his face and turned to the mirror. Her face looked pale, her lip swollen and bloody, and her jaw hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. Her mind swirled with the arousal she felt being near him. She needed psychiatric help for lusting after her abductor. Splashing water on her face, washing her eyes, then carefully wiping her sore lip, she continued to think how idiotic it was to even think she could feel desire for him.
She did her business, ran her fingers through her hair trying to smooth it out as best she could without a brush, and opened the bathroom door. She saw Mac standing to the side, the ropes dangling in his hand. Her eyes lifted to his, then down to the ropes.
“Don’t even think about it.”
Making a break for it, she jutted to her right, then, faking him out, she bolted off to the left. She climbed over the bed, the blanket nearly tripping her up, then jumping off the bed, she ran for the door. She grabbed the door knob just as he came up behind her. She let out a squeal as he grabbed her left hand and pulled it behind her back, pinning her body to the door.
“Man, you just don’t give up.”
“Of course I’m not going to give up, you jackass. Do you think I’m just going to sit by and let you keep me tied up, for God sakes?” She jerked her body, trying to break free. He pinned her good and tight against the door. Her pulse began to flutter again, making her curse under her breath. When he reached in front of her to grab her right hand, she fought to keep him from taking it. Quicker than she was, he managed to grab it and pulled it behind her.
“And how did you expect to get out of here when the door is locked?”
“You didn’t lock it last night when you came up to bed.” He spun her around and pressed her against the door, holding her in place with his body. This time her pulse didn’t just flutter, it hammered.
“Fine, so you would have made it out the door, then what? You wouldn’t have gotten far, princess, with Betty Rubble keeping watch downstairs.”
“At this hour, only a crazy person would be awake.” She jerked her body once more, trying to get away from him. She felt pretty damn hot and it was getting very uncomfortable.
“Check it out, princess, you happen to be awake. Does that make you crazy?”
She knew she was panting but couldn’t control herself. Being so near to him was making her pulse throb and her chest ache with need. “I didn’t have a choice; your stupid alarm clock woke me.” She lifted her knee, ready to strike.
Faster than she, he blocked her attempt with his hand. “I like the mornings.”
“I like to sleep in.”
Lost for words, they stared into each other’s eyes, breathless. Moments passed before Mac shifted away, pulling her from the door. He didn’t say a word to her as he led her to the chair. Knowing what he had planned for her now, she refused to allow it to happen. When he pushed her down into the chair, she stood right back up.
“Get a grip.”
It shocked her when he lifted his leg and planted his knee on her chest. And when he leaned in closer to tie her up, she could smell his cologne, and it tickled her arousal. His hair beneath the mask brushed against her cheek as he bent near her ear to tie the ropes around her and it felt like satin. Turning her head, she saw the tufts of dark curly hair, and she nearly sighed.
“There, that should do it.”
Liz sat in her chair as he left the room, her chest rising and falling with each heavy breath she took. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” Letting her head fall back, she wasn’t quite sure what to think. The man abducted her and was holding her captive, for God sakes, and she lusted after him. She didn’t even know what he looked like, yet she wanted him. God, Liz, get a grip.
Coming to her senses, she realized she needed to get out, she just didn’t know how. She’d tried to make a break for it, twice, only to be dragged back. The window, it was still her best chance, and the brief glances the night before led her to believe it would be plenty big enough for her to squeeze through. All she needed to do is break free of the ropes and she was set.
Shifting her body, she ignored the burning sensation the ropes caused as they rubbed against her skin. There would be plenty of time to sooth them when she broke free.
Feeling more himself after the cold shower, Mac headed for the kitchen to make some breakfast. Seeing Terry sitting at the table eating a plate of fluffy eggs soured his mood. Saying nothing to him, he moved to the fridge, grabbing the butter and jam. Setting them on the counter, he was pleased to see the coffee ready. Pouring himself a cup, adding a spoon of sugar, he pulled out the toaster and added four slices of bread, pressing the lever down.
“He called last night.”
“What?” Mac turned sharply, the coffee in the cup sloshing over the rim to scald his fingers. Setting the cup on the counter, he put his fingers in his mouth. “Why didn’t you come get me?”
Terry shrugged, lifting his own coffee cup to his lips, taking a sip before speaking. “Didn’t want to disturb you.”
“I’m in charge, Terry, you should have called me to the phone.” He turned when the toast popped, annoyed. “What did he want?”
“He was checking in, making sure everything went smoothly. I told him everything went according to plan.”
He buttered the toast then slopped jam on it. “What else?”
“That’s it. Said he would be in touch.”
Great, Mac thought, he’d be in touch. He had the easy part, while Mac put everything on the line. Not like he had much of a choice now, did he, and the guy knew that. Rock and a hard place, that’s where he sat. Pouring another cup of coffee, he set both cups as well as the plate of toast on a tray then turned to the fridge and grabbed a bowl of strawberries, fresh from his own garden. “Tidy up for me while I’m upstairs okay.”
“I’m not your bitch, Mac.” Terry snarled into his cup.
“I didn’t make the eggs, and thank you for sharing by the way.”
Clenching his jaw, Mac carried the tray up the stairs, wishing he didn’t have to be stuck with the creep. But he’d had no choice in the matter, so he just had to put up with him.
Setting the tray on the floor, he pulled the key from his pocket, unlocked the door, then, pulling the mask from his back pocket, he slipped it over his head before opening the door. “Room service.”
Her head shifted in his direction and her eyes focused on the tray in his hand. “Cheap restaurant if you call that breakfast.”
“My, what a smart mouth we have, princess.” Smiling, he set the tray on the bed and moved in behind her. “Right handed, right?” The scent of her hair tickled his nose and stirred his pulse.
Shaking it off, he untied her left hand then tied the right to the ropes around her body.
“I said I was right handed.”
“I know.” He took the plate of toast, lifted two pieces off the plate for himself, put a few strawberries beside hers then set the plate on her lap. “Here you go.”
Liz looked down at the food before her, then back up at Mac. “You must have broken a sweat cooking for me. You shouldn’t have.”
Ooh, he loved her sarcasm. “All the more reason for you to enjoy it.” He took a seat across from her, the tray on his lap with his toast and coffee.
“Where’s my cup?”
“Over there.” He motioned to the night stand, taking a bite of his toast.
She glanced to her left and saw the cup sitting there. “May I have it?”
Her eyes shifted to his as her left eyebrow shot up. “Now what could I possibly do with a cup of coffee, aside from drinking it?”
“You strike me as the inventive type; you’d find other uses for it.”
Her lip curled up but not enough to open the wound. “Like throwing it at you?”
“Afraid of me, big guy?” She bit into a strawberry, licking the juices that trickled from her mouth.
He watched her tongue as it lapped up the juices and felt his loins tighten. “Wary.”
“Then why bring me a cup?”
His eyes were glued to the way she ate that luscious red juicy strawberry and the way her lips molded its form, the way her tongue lapped up the juices. “Why do you think it’s sitting over there and not in your hands right now?”
Smiling, she licked the strawberry juice from her fingers. “And you think giving me a cooled cup of coffee is any better?”
He imagined his fingers in her mouth. “Cool coffee doesn’t hurt as much.”
“Ever had a cup smashed over your head?”
Shaking his mind clear, his eyes lifted to hers. “See, now that is exactly why I’m guarded.” He stood now, knowing that if he didn’t leave the room soon, he wasn’t going to be able to. “Finished?”
“Then no coffee.”
“Fine, I’m finished.” She’d give up the last pieces of the overly sweet toast and juicy strawberries for the coffee any day.
“Here you go.” Taking the plate, he set it on the tray with his coffee cup then walked to the door. “I’ll be right back.”
He closed the door behind him, locking it.