Chapter 3

Rose

Tonight, the second Dimitri announced that the Kings were meeting us for dinner, I'd spiraled.

The very name sent a chill up my back and a poker of red hot rage shooting through me.

Stunned, I’d walked to my room, digging and scraping my fingernails into the wall as I walked. Stabbing, shooting, scraping off flesh with a butter knife—all options in my need for retribution against them.

Standing before my closet, I’d chosen the red evening gown. It showed off my every curve, pushed up my breasts, then dipped low enough to tease. I was strong and powerful when I wore it, even though I had no real control in this pitiful movie reel called The Secret Life of Rose, a shameumentary.

As soon as I’d walked out of my room, only to prove my motherfucking point, Dimitri’s face turned red and mottled, his anger taking two point five seconds to detonate. I made zero decisions in my life. I couldn’t even pick my own clothes.

He’d screamed, raged, and flung a lamp in my direction.

Didn’t I know I was supposed to wear the white dress for the Kings? I wasn’t some hooker, but the Virgin Beauty. Meant to showcase my stunning body and silent mouth.

My response, the 'I can't read your mind,’ had gotten me the swollen and black eye, something I should’ve anticipated would happen by now, but I couldn't seem to help myself.

I was too wild. Too untamed.

I thought I'd escaped the life. I'd graduated from college, even had plans for a corporate internship in a graphic design company on the other side of the world. I'd tasted too much freedom before being dragged back into my father’s dark underworld.

And now, it was worse than if I'd never had that freedom. Because a taste was never going to be enough for me.

I wanted out, and I would do anything to have it.

If Dimitri had taken any time to get to know me in the three months since he’d had me, he’d have known how the King name would affect me. But he had no idea, because he had zero concern for anything that would affect me.

I was a pretty woman on his arm, the curse I'd endured all my life.

Ever since I could remember, men had stared at me, even as a child.

Yeah. You heard that right. A. Child.

“What a pretty girl you are.” Then a look at my father, almost a warning. “You should keep her locked up, you never know who would take her.”

When I grew boobs at the tender age of eleven was when the sideway glances started. Some of them outright lustful. One prick leaned back in his chair, sipping his whiskey and stared at them. Yeah, at them, not me. My preteen boobs.

I was standing at my father’s side at the poker table, shifting uncomfortably.

And what did dear old daddy do? Gave him a shit eating grin. He was proud to have such a beautiful daughter, filled out even before I was old enough to understand what sex was.

Of course, the man only looked. My father held out, making it clear that he was waiting for a high ranking man in the mafia to make an offer. He wanted as much money as he could get out of me. Not because he had a gambling debt, but because he just wasn’t a decent enough father. His greed was greater than his parental instincts to protect me.

And yet, it took so long, I thought it was never going to happen.

Until finally, it did. And now I was tied up to the bed, trussed up like a thanksgiving turkey.

All because I’d taken too long changing back into the white dress.

Too long to turn my heaving breaths into reasonable, even tones, staring at myself in the mirror with an ice pack to my eye.

Too long to apply the foundation that would cover the newly forming bruises and the cut from his ring, something I was becoming more and more adept at in such a short time.

I shifted, trying to get comfortable even though I knew it would be impossible. I was tied to the bed and my fingers were tingling from a lack of blood. Only the beginning, Dimitri had warned me, after walking out of the room, turning out the lights and leaving me in the dark for hours. It was my warning that something much bigger was coming when he returned from a night of dancing, getting high, and fucking whores.

Why he hadn’t taken my virginity yet was a mystery to me. Most times, he didn’t even seem interested in looking at me, something far different than the hidden glances his men gave me.

I was so consumed by my thoughts that I didn't hear them until they were in my room.

There was a slight bump, too soft and quiet to be Dimitri. I jerked my head to the door, my eyes widening in surprise. There was just enough light coming through the windows to see the three looming figures moving towards me, all wearing stupid ski masks over their faces. Their intent was clear. They were here for me.

What kind of idiots were they?

Apparently the biggest kind. Anyone who messed with Dimitri’s possessions would wish they'd end up dead. Dimitri was too well versed in torture, and too much of a sadist to kill anyone quickly.

Fear sparked. They were either that dumb, or just as cold blooded as Dimitri.

I yanked my legs upwards and turned, struggling vehemently to get out of my ropes. As I wrestled with my bindings, the men silently surrounded the bed. They didn't speak, but moved soundlessly, as if they could read each other's thoughts.

One of them leaned over, a knife in his hand.

“No!” I screamed, kicking at his chest. He grabbed me by the ankle, jerking me downward. I slid down the bed, my arms stretching painfully behind me. Leaning over, he pressed his knee to my chest, his dark brown eyes warning me with their glare through the slits of his mask.

“Hold still.”

There was a growl from the other side of the bed. “Get the fuck off her.”

“How the hell else am I going to cut her free?”

“Get off me.” I jerked my knee up into his balls.

He collapsed over me like an accordion with a gravelly oomph, gritting through his teeth. “You hold her still then.”

The other man moved lithely across the bed, holding my squirming form as the first one recovered with a snarl. When the hands on my shoulders moved to my waist and yanked me towards the edge of the bed, I knew I was free.

I screamed again, wondering where the hell Dimitri's guards were. At least Dimitri was the devil I knew, instead of these three guys.

I became a windmill of movement and, desperate to escape, I kicked and hit and struggled. Strong hands hiked me off the bed as if I was as weak as a gnat. He controlled me effortlessly, throwing my feet to the floor. “Let’s go, princess.”

I prickled. Princess?

Did this idiot think I was living in luxury with Dimitri? He was treating me like I was a spoiled child throwing a tempter tantrum. Fury filling me, I swiveled in his arms, ready to give him a piece of my mind.

“Who the hell—” I suddenly froze, the words caught in my throat as deep golden eyes glared back at me.

Those eyes. I would never forget them.

Along with piercing, arctic blue ones, both staring at me from across the dinner table only hours earlier.

It was Coulter King, the sexy bastard himself.

As soon as I’d seen him and his brother, my eyes had instantly betrayed me by liking what I saw. Both men oozed sex and sin, power and sensuality.

They were impeccably dressed in custom fitted suits, probably worth a bazillion dollars in just cloth alone. That alone wasn’t impressive, but the cut of their suits accentuated broad, powerful shoulders, tapered into trim waists. Their postures—strong and confident. Cocky. Strong jawlines and stark cheekbones, their faces were carved by the masters themselves. And intelligent eyes saw everything.

Their last name suited them. They were kings, not only in name but by the power pulsing from them.

The instant I sat down, my body turned traitor, as heat traveled from my belly to in-between my thighs at the feel of their piercing gazes on me.

They were gorgeous and sexy, and I hated myself for my lustful thoughts, warring with my desire to leap over the table and stab them in the eye with my butter knife.

And now, they’d returned to torture me.

“You.” I screeched, rearing back, trying to punch him in the face but my hand didn’t make it. Coulter moved so quickly, I didn’t see his hand capture mine until he was already holding it.

"Stop." His deep voice reverberated through me, making an involuntary shiver climb up my back. All through dinner I’d heard that voice. Saw the way they looked at me. I was used to men staring at me, but they both watched me, their gaze so intense, I could feel it in every part of my body.

My whole body then stilled, except for my lips, which parted on an exhale.

Unlike with Dimitri, I had no problem obeying his command.

Hand tight on my wrist, his fingers digging into my skin, he pulled me so that I was pressed to his chest. His dark voice caused a warmth to billow through my chest. “If you come quietly, it'll go better for you."

"You want me to help you kidnap me?" I snapped, once again unable to stop my mouth from running.

His eyes crinkled, as if entertained by my statement. "Exactly." He looked upwards at the other man now standing behind me. “She catches on quickly.”

"That's right. I am smart. I got all A's in school." I knew he meant to taunt me, but I didn’t care. I was proud of it, because I’d done it all on my own. Worked my ass off to pay for it while at the same time, getting straight A’s.

His face moved to mine again. "I'm sure it was really hard to get all A's at the Longhorn Community College.”

I inhaled a breath. "How did you know where I went?"

As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted them. Of course, a King could find out anything he wanted in this town. He practically owned it, and anyone in it, including me.

He probably didn't even look me up himself but had one of his goons do it for him while he sat by the pool, sipping on margaritas and smirking. Cuz I'm sure that’s what he did all day.

That and probably work out and kill people in his spare time.

"Because I looked you up."

He surprised me again, because the way he said it made it seem like he was the one who actually looked me up, instead of one of his goons.

“And if I go quietly, how will that be better for me?" I took a step back, yanking my arms from his hold, and staring him down while rubbing my wrists. Again, the crinkle was back at the edges of his eyes, like he was amused by my words.

"Then Barry here won't drug you to sleep." Coulter tilted his head forward, indicating the man behind me.

“Barry, huh? What an awesome name. I'm sure it’s his real one.” When Coulter didn’t respond, I folded my arms across my chest. "So you just expect me to walk out with you, without yelling for help or trying to escape?”

"Yep." His voice was bored now.

My eyes moved around as I pretended to think about it, trying to figure out a way out of this.

Dimitri's guards weren't here already, and that meant that they'd taken them out.

What were the chances that they'd also killed the ones hiding through the hotel, and possibly even the ones outside?

If they'd meant to kidnap me then they'd have to cover every angle.

I might actually have a chance of escaping Dimitri this time. I just had to get rid of these idiots.

"Hello?" Coulter snapped his fingers in front of my face and I narrowed my eyes at him.

"I'm trying to think here. It's not every day a girl gets the chance to help her abductors.”

Coulter stepped forward, and with his hand on my arm, it made me straighten in attention, my whole focus on those gorgeous eyes.

“Too late, Princess." His voice was deep and musky, and it did very naughty, stupid things to my body.

The sound of it befuddled me and too late, the meaning of his words dawned over me before fingers grasped my head, tilting it to the side. I didn’t have a chance to fight back before the needle pricked my neck.

Before I blacked out, I only had two seconds to get my last words out.

“You dick.”

© 2021 Ivy Mason

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