Saturday, January 3, 2015

Prologue and First Chapter of LILY (Captive to the Dark, Special Edition 1) **UNEDITED**

For all of you who want a tease of LILY, I leave you with the Prologue and Chapter 1. Be aware this is unedited, so there's bound to be mistakes and changes to content during the editing process.


I never had an enemy quite like nostalgia. The comforting blanket that cloaked around me, trying to change my mind, had me battling myself more than I ever had to physically fight anything in my past. I could so easily look back and let myself believe that everything happened for a reason. That fate had caused me to been taken and forever changed so the result would help me grow as a person. But in reality, I’d been a captive. A sex slave who had been through hell and yet thought herself in love with her Master.
Even now, my heart ached for the man I thought I’d been meant for. It was a lie. A twisted, coping mechanism I’d forced myself to accept in order to survive. At least that’s how my shrink described it. Nostalgia…that bitch continued to trick me into believing the four months I spent in Afghanistan wasn’t so bad. It made me want to return. Want…him.
I refuse. I’ll forever deny these feelings that destroy me.
The things I witnessed, undergone…lived. They will be seared into my memory just as deep as the scars that cover my body from the girls his family tortured. So many, and nothing either of us could do unless we wanted to die. Yes…there were times I had wanted death as a way to erase what I’d seen from helping those girls. If it wasn’t for the strength I’d been forced to portray from the beginning, I might have been able to disappear from this world. But it wasn’t meant to be. Once my Master got ahold of me, he refused to let me be weak. He’d made me fight from the beginning, and showed me how much I could love it. How we could disappear from the lives we’d been trapped in and lose ourselves in each other. I longed for those moments the most. Especially now, as I stared out of the dark windows of my lonely penthouse. My brother Slade’s old penthouse.
Flashes of memories blinded me like they always did when I finally left the office and came home. So clearly could I still see the details of my abduction, as if I’d watched a movie of myself being lured out of the nightclub by a woman insisting on my help. The lights of downtown San Francisco blurred in my mind while I helped the staggering blonde from Vixen’s main entrance and toward the parking garage across the street. The pop-playing, upscale establishment sat atop a luxurious building, the last few floors covered by fog as I glanced up to where my friends were.
I should have never left Samantha’s side. If it wasn’t for the woman nearly passed out on the bathroom floor, insisting I take her to her car so she could get her phone to call her dad, I probably wouldn’t have been taken. But someone else would have. I couldn’t bear the thought of another girl going through what I had.
Back then I’d been too nice. All I wanted to do was please people. That had been my biggest mistake.
Not anymore.
The sound of the brakes squealing from the road behind us barely registered as my sole focus was on not letting the older girl fall. She was heavier than I imagined and I knew it had to do with her height. She looked like a model, blonde, tall, amazing green eyes. She was beautiful and shitfaced drunk, crying over her boyfriend cheating, all the while I told her everything would be alright. How stupid I had been.
Those had been my last moments as an innocent girl. An arm locked around my waist and a leather bound hand slammed over my mouth. A scream didn’t even register until the SUV’s door slammed shut and the force of the acceleration jerked me back. When the woman began laughing and spouting off orders to the man holding me down, I knew I’d been played.
Hands continued to hold me down I fought with everything I was capable of. But it hadn’t been enough. Back then, I’d been weak in that way of life, too. They’d taken me. Put me in a room full of other girls and sold me. But not before the real damage was done.
Tears collected in my eyes as my fingers pushed against the glass and I momentarily came back to the present. The past wouldn’t be stopped tonight. There would be no more escaping what I’d spent weeks trying to push away.
The moment our stares met, my whole world stopped. I’d never seen a more handsome man. Dark hair, lightly tanned skin. His eyes…They were so close to the color of the sun. Orange mixed with gold, yet surrounded by a dark green. The shades mesmerized me. Even considering the distance that separated us, they seemed to glow. I stood there with my hands clutched together, trying to stop shaking. Nothing was working. I was scared. Nervous as to why these people in this fancy house would want me. Nothing made sense.
The brute force of the back of a hand connecting with my cheek left me almost positive that my eye had somehow exploded. Colors flickered and mixed with bright lights. My body crumbled to the floor from pain and shock. I couldn’t even comprehend what had happened until the voice of the older man standing beside me came though, an unrecognizable accent confusing me even more. I could barely make out his words due to exhaustion.
“Did I tell you to look at my son?”
Before I could answer, multiple kicks to my stomach had me curling up on the marble floor. I didn’t miss the stranger walking forward in my peripheral vision, or how he had his fists balled up at his side.
“I asked you a question, slave. Did I give you permission to look at my son?”
All I could do was shake my head as I fought not to get sick. Pain seared my scalp as I was jerked to stand. Although my stare wanted to return to the man watching at the far side of the room, I kept my focus on the floor. Raped by multiple men, surviving off of stale bread and water for the last few days, I knew when to not be stupid.
“Look at her, Zain. She already learns. She will do you well.”
My gazed snapped up in time to see his blurry, shocked expression, but I quickly let it fall back to the marble. Throbbing pulsed in my head, my heart aching with the weird twist of terror and desperation. All I wanted was to wake up from this nightmare.
“Me? What am I supposed to do with a slave? I have responsibilities. The last thing I need to do is care for a…girl. Fuck, how old is she, father?”
“Not of consequence. You’ll take her. She’s yours. A gift for all of your hard work.”
American. The son sure sounded like it. So how was this man his father? Although they shared a slight resemblance, I would have never pinned them for relatives if they hadn’t spoken of the connection. And the son wasn’t young. Maybe thirty, from what I could tell. Possibly younger by a year or two.
“Come.” The growled command had me fleeing from the father as fast as I could with a throbbing side. As we swept through the large home, I tried to take in everything. And not the expensive vases or golden statues off in the distance. Escape. It was my main focus. The reality of fleeing disappeared as I took in the guards that stood post throughout the large space. They looked out of place, rugged dirty in the sparkling interior.
Stairs showed in the distance, but we turned down a dark hall until we reached the end.
“You’ll stay here. If you leave this room, they’ll kill you.” His distinct eyes rooted me to the floor as he pushed the wooden barrier open. “They’ll cut off your head where you stand. Don’t disobey me or do anything stupid. Leaving here is impossible. Trust me,” he said, lowly.
With that, he ushered me inside and locked us in. The palace we’d just been in almost seemed a dream to the contrast of the room that surrounded us. A bed sat on the cement floor in the far corner. The walls were bare except for some chains mounted to the top of one. It looked like a cell.
Was this what my life had come to?
Involuntarily, I edged back to the door. “Is this my room?” The strength I’d displayed was disappearing as my new life was becoming apparent.  
“Our room, now. This was mine.”
My head shook at his words. Our…No…
“Send me home. My brother is rich. He’ll pay you whatever you want. Please.” My knees nearly gave out at my surge forward. I stopped a few feet away, half tempted to sink to the ground and beg.
He laughed. “Did you not see where you are? Do you really think I need money?”
“I see this,” I gestured, cautiously. “Your father, he has the money. Not you. I’ll make you millionaire if that’s what you want. Just help me get out of here. Please.”
Again, he laughed. “You think because of this,” he said, waving his hand around, “that I don’t have money? You have a lot to learn. Bribery will get you nowhere but killed here. I suggest you not do it again. Especially not to anyone else, slave.”
“Lily,” I snapped, growing angry. “I’m no one’s slave.” The word disgusted me. Slavery was over. Everyone was equal, at least in my eyes.
“Lily,” he repeated, cocking his head, a smile edging to his lips. I took a step back at his narrowed expression. There was something there I didn’t like. Something…scarier than the man who’d just used me as a punching bag. “Such a pretty flower. But you’re not pretty.”
My mind all but stopped at his rudeness and I temporarily forgot what my intuition had been warning me about. “I don’t give a shit what you think about me. As long as you help me get out of here, that’s all that matters. Besides, you’re not very attractive yourself. You’re probably nothing but a spoiled, rich, pansy ass…son of a criminal.”
His eyebrow rose in what looked to be surprise, but faded as rage took the prominent role. “Who do you think you’re talking to? You think you know me?”
The stranger was on me so fast that I didn’t even have time to prepare myself. Panic and visions of the attack from my rapists surged to the forefront and my arms were already swinging.
“Get off,” I screamed, planting my palm against his cheek to push his face further away from mine. My feet kicked as I was picked up and spun toward the bed. It only had me struggling even harder.
“Fight all you want. It’s not going to change your situation. You’re mine now, Lily, and you’re going to learn my rules real fast.” I was rotated and put across his lap, stomach down, like a child. The robe was lifted and I tried to twist in his grasp. Pressure from his forearm pushed into the middle of my back leaving me rooted to his thighs. My toes searched for some sort of leverage, but I was too short to reach the floor.
“You’ll learn these rules and obey my commands or else you’re not going to like what happens when you fuck up. I can’t have you disobeying here. I may have a hell of a lot of pull, but I won’t be around at all times and if you don’t want something worse happening to you, you’ll do as I say.”
“Whack!” Heat scorched my ass and my head flew up, both from the pain and his words. “Rule one. Simplest rule of them all. Obey every single command I give you. I don’t care what it is. Your life depends on it. Understood?”
My life…Was it really my life anymore?
Whack! Whack! Whack!
The last had me sobbing.
“I said, understood? You better hope this time you answer.”
I nodded, a cry breaking through as fatigue kicked in full force. “I’ll only obey your commands on how to act. Anything else…” It was almost impossible to swallow past the lump in my throat.
“You’ll obey everything,” he stressed. “No matter what that is.” Whack! “Rule two. I’ll provide a wrap. You are to cover your face outside of this room from here on out. Within these walls is a world you can’t even imagine. No one is to know what you look like. If they’ve already seen you, I want the memory to fade. Rape, Lily. Use that as your reason to conceal. You’re too beautiful, not pretty, but beautiful, “he emphasized, “and I don’t want you catching anyone’s attention. Do you hear me? This is for your safety. Agree.”
Rape. I was nodding before he even finished.
“Last rule and just as important as the first.” I was spun over, the robe pooling in my lap as he settled me to sit on my throbbing ass. “Never lie to me. Ever. About anything. Fear of admission will fail in comparison to the punishment of a lie.” His fingers gripped into my cheek, his thumb pushing in to angle my face toward him. “Now answer my questions honestly. How old are you?”
I sniffled past the tears that involuntarily came. “Nineteen.”
“Young,” he breathed out. “But not as young as I thought. Did they rape you before you were brought over?”
My body stiffened and I couldn’t stop the caving of my shoulders as the tears grew heavier. He didn’t appear to need my answer to know the truth.
“Were you a virgin? Did they use protection?”
All I could do was fight to catch my breath. I wasn’t sure why he cared or where the sudden softness of his tone had come from, but I clung to it in hopes that I could change his mind on helping me escape. “Yes, to both.”
“How many men hurt you?”
The tick in his jaw tightening off and on had my brain kicking back to attention. The memory made me shutter. “Three. They…took turns.”
Slowly, his head nodded and he licked his lips as he kept his stare fixed on mine. “You may not want this, but it’s done. We are each other’s and the only way around that is death on one of our parts. To give you away is an insult to my father. As much as I hate him, you’re safer with me.” His hand hesitantly came forward, tucking my hair behind my ear. “I’ve never had anything belong to me before. Or anyone,” he said, moving in closer. “For you, my gift, I’ll find out who your rapists were and I will kill them. You’re mine now. Nobody hurts what’s mine. You’re going to learn that out very fast. Unfortunately, you’re going to learn a lot of other things you’re not going to like.”
And I had. My master was both kind and cruel. A lethal combination for the girl looking for a hero, and the woman I’d been forced to become.

Chapter 1

“Did you think I’d let you get away with what you’ve done? All those girls, dead. Broken.”
The smell of sweat, sex, and expensive liquor assaulted my senses, making the hate I had for my uncle come to a boiling point in my veins. My fist tightened in his hair and I pushed the tip of the angled blade deeper into the top of his neck. He was silent, but I didn’t expect for him to beg for his life. He had too much pride for that. Instead, a grunt followed as he turned his body to try to break my hold.
“Your father will know it was you. You won’t get away with this. He’ll kill you like he did your whore mother.”
Blood soaked into the collar of his robe and I pushed in deeper. He spoke Arabic. I refused to, in the moment. English had always been my primary and although I could speak four different languages, I stuck to what spoke of home. Of America. A land that had been stolen from me at the tender age of eight. Stolen. Kidnapped, to live with my real father. Not the one my mother had married and tried to pass off as my dad. Maybe I’d always known Jeff wasn’t my blood, but I loved him as if he had been. Their deaths had broken my childhood. Turned me from an innocent little boy into an angry kid who longed for revenge. My rebirth landed me in years of beatings and training. I took everything, embraced the evil man I’d been made into, letting the horrors I saw become ammunition for the day I could put an end to it all.
Amir saw me as his successor and I allowed it.
“My mother was smart to hide from that bastard. If you think I’m going to let him get away with what he did, what he’s done, you’re stupider than I thought. Taking me and turning me in to his own personal killer was the biggest mistake he ever made.”
“Wrong.” Another sound came from his mouth as he tried to pull his head further away from my knife. “He wanted what was best for you. You’re blood, Zain. You’re an Amari. You can’t escape that.”
“Watch me.” His blood poured over my hand as I drove the blade home and let his lifeless body fall to the floor, not far from the slave he’d raped and beaten to death. Shuffling outside his room didn’t give me time to contemplate what I should do. The flight back to the US would allow me to process my next move. Right now, I had to get back to San Francisco. Back to the life I’d created outside of the one I was trying to cut ties with. If…I ever could. Even if I killed my other two uncles and my father, there were still people who knew who I was. I might never be safe. Not without some sort of inside help.
Knocking on the door had my head snapping in the direction. I eased through the window, onto the roof, being sure to keep my steps light. The security was lacking and I knew I could take care of myself when it came to any of his four guards, but I didn’t want to waste the time on having to.
More knocking faded in the background as I kept low and eased from the roof. The mile run back to my car didn’t take long. Before I knew it, I was hauling ass to the airport, but not fast enough. Ringing filled the interior just as I pulled into the parking area. My mouth twisted as I looked down at my phone.
“Hello, Father.” I kept my tone bored, neutral like I always did concerning Amir.
“You haven’t left yet.”
I took in the clunker I was sitting in. I knew the car wasn’t being tracked. I shouldn’t have answered the damn phone. “Not yet. I’m waiting for my plane now. Why, what’s going on?”
“Tel called. Your uncle is dead.”
“Dead? How?”
Silence. I cringed at not asking which uncle. Had he caught that?
“They’re going to get back to me.” He let out a deep breath. “First Samir, now…this. I don’t like it. After you finish the finalization of the next shipment, you’re coming home. That’s an order.”
Home. Because he knew I could figure this mystery out, or so he could kill me himself?
“Absolutely. It shouldn’t take long. Maybe a week. Two, tops.”
“A week. Make it happen.”
The line disconnected and I closed my eyes. If I was smart, I’d go back now and finish them all off. But it wasn’t that easy. My other two uncles were staying at my father’s and his house was locked down tighter than Fort Knox. I’d never make it out alive. And I had to if I ever wanted to get back the only thing that had ever been mine. Lily.
I was so fucking close. All I needed was the right moment to slip in and she’d be mine again. Then I could finish my father and uncles off for good. We’d be safe. Set, in the new life I had planned for us. It had to work. The guards that protected her were getting too comfortable. Only last month it dropped from three to two. At her insistence, so said her brother, Slade. Although he didn’t know I overheard that piece of information.
A smile pulled at my lips as I grabbed my bag from the back seat and walked toward the entrance of the airport at a fast pace.
Slade. He had no idea who I was. Not really. To him, I was some guy he’d met at one of his fancy parties. Someone whose face he’d recognize and maybe make small talk with, but not one he’d invite over for dinner. At least, not yet. I had made sure to pop back into his life at random moments. Let him know enough about me to sate his curiosity and gain his trust. To him, I was Zane Collins, unlike the Zain Cook I had been born into. Unlike the Zain Amari my Arabic family knew me as. Slade was my only link to Lily. The key would be getting past all the blockades he’d set in my path.
I’d spent the first year hating him. Wanting nothing more than to spill his blood and that of his men for taking my gift away from me. Then reality sunk in and I let all the facts play out. The world I lived in was different than everyone else’s. Concerning the sex trafficking, I was a criminal by association. My knowledge damned me, regardless whether I was a part of it or not. I hated it with a passion. My dealings consisted of money transactions and being the muscle when things went wrong. Until last month, when I needed an excuse to continue to stay in the states. Now it was up to me to handle the next shipment of girls, and little did my father know, there wouldn’t be any. Not anymore.
Voices echoed throughout the airport from so many people, and I kept my head down as I made my way to the gate. I boarded without incident, and the flight was uneventful. I had a first class row to myself, but I didn’t let myself relax until I was arriving in San Francisco. The cool air had me taking in a deep breath. Even gone for a week, I’d missed the place I considered home. Three years of worming my way into Lily and Slade’s life and I’d embraced San Francisco. But it was almost time to say goodbye.
The long term parking sign hung ahead. As I approached, I slowed, glancing at my BMW in exactly the same spot where I left it. Although I kept a steady pace, I observed everything. A woman in an older SUV was pulling out of a space at the end. A man was waiting for the elevator on the far side of the garage. I grabbed my keys, unlocking the car. The lights flashed and I hit the button for the trunk, throwing my bag in at my approach. The feel of being watched was real. I knew it. Lived it. Had been on the other side. Someone definitely had their eye on me. Question was, who?
Again, I scanned the area, searching for some sign that would trigger me. Nothing. “Son of bitch.” I climbed in, starting the car and heading out of the garage, watching the rear view mirror almost the entire time. Everything seemed as normal as it could be. Maybe I was overreacting. My slip up with my father could have been playing a role, but I wasn’t sure.
The sun was beginning to rise and I contemplated whether I should go forward with my routine. I couldn’t have timed my arrival any more perfectly. I’d have just enough time to stop by my place, shower, change, and pick up some coffee before I headed to Lily’s building. She’d be at the office early. She was always the first one there and the last to leave. Knowing her personality like I did, I wouldn’t expect anything less. But should I?
My hands tightened around the steering wheel as I surveyed behind me one last time—nothing—and I let thoughts of her overwhelm me. It took a good year after the trial for her to emerge, but she’d done it so bravely. Just like she’d stayed strong before and after she was taken from my arms. Facing her rapists without me, when I promised her that I’d kill them, myself….it destroyed me. The murder, the trial, the mental facility. All the appointments and treatments she’d gone to afterward. I had so much fixing to do within my poor Lily. But would she let me? From what I’d seen, glimpsing her from afar, she’d all but forgotten about what we shared. Forgotten, me.
Fuck, I couldn’t think about it. If I did, I’d say to hell with my plan and take her now. Kill anyone who got in my way. That was dangerous, not only for her, but me. So why was I fingering the button to the console where my gun was hidden?
Time. It was driving me crazy. Years I’d waited, and I couldn’t do it anymore. My slave had shown me a world I never thought existed. Shown me what love could do to a man who’d all but cursed the emotion. Now I was desperate to get both back. What would she do if she saw me? Got the briefest glimpse? Would she come looking for me or would it scare her off? Would the security get tighter and ruin any chance I had of taking her?
I sighed as I battled with traffic. So many scenarios and none of them were putting me at ease. I just wanted her back in my arms. To run my fingers down the side of her face until I reached her throat, letting her pulse reassure me that what we shared was real. But who was I kidding? My gift would run. Fight me just as hard as she ever had. Probably even harder.
I was going to have to put her back in her place and convince her that what we shared was right and meant to be. We’d be able to connect all over again. Just the way it was before, but away from all the rest of the trouble that had surrounded us.
My heart raced as I turned onto our road. Our road, because I made sure to get a place not far from hers. Diagonally across the street, to be precise. And directly above her floor so I could see through her glass windows perfectly. Penthouse for penthouse. It had worked out better than I could have dreamed. But it came with a price. Her sadness turned mine into fury. The tears she shed while she looked into the distance were equivalent to razorblades over my skin. She needed me, and fuck if I didn’t need her too. Soon, I’d stop all the pain and replace it with the kind I knew she enjoyed. Lily would be crying, but only for release.

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