Captive, MineBy: Natasha Knight & Trent Evans
I always knew I was different. Knew I lived a different sort of life. I just didn’t expect to end up here — like this.
For weeks I’d felt it. I’d known someone had been watching me. But I’d ignored it.
Looking back, I could think of a hundred ways I could have avoided this, avoided him. He’d said one thing and, like a fool, I had believed him. Useless words. Stolen words.
Tucking my knees into my chest, I pulled the worn blanket up over my body. He’d stripped me bare before bringing me here, before binding my wrists together so tightly they felt raw. I shivered in the cold, damp room knowing he was going to teach me a lesson. I’d been to this room before. I knew what had to happen here.
Tears again, stupid tears. He had no right to keep me captive. His captive.
“Let me out!” I screamed for the hundredth time, my voice hoarse, my throat too dry.
This time, though, there was an answer: the sound of his footsteps approaching, the almost imperceptible sound of the key sliding into the lock, turning it.
I pressed my back harder into the wall, fisting the blanket with sweaty hands.
I was going to be punished and it was going to be bad. I knew it. He’d promised it and he always kept his promises.
It had happened, the cops had finally caught up with him.
Emanuel J. Cross, drug dealer to the wealthy, privileged addicts of high society, my father, had been arrested. And that wasn’t the worst of it.
“Christ!” I said, watching the spectacle on TV. Daddy in handcuffs, walking between two men, the entire block cordoned off, reporters pouring over the yellow police tape to get a close-up of him in this, his grandest hour.
But they didn’t know the half of it.
“Ma’am, we need to go.”
I turned to the door. “Get out,” I snapped. I wasn’t even going to try to be sweet. My father had arranged things neatly for himself, and, apparently, for me. The arrest would be very public, we knew that. Couldn’t exactly take one half of the two-man force that kept the entirety of the East Coast supplied with their drug of choice without some noise. But I found out yesterday that Daddy had made a deal with the feds months ago when they’d first caught up with him. Testify against Randall, his business partner and the one they wanted badly enough to make a deal with the likes of my father, enter into the Witness Protection Program, and live out his days in quiet suburbia in the middle of nowhere. Become a nobody. It was a different sort of prison really. Although I suppose federal prison would be worse. But what I was most pissed about was that I, too, had been given fifteen minutes to pack my essentials and leave my New York City apartment — my beloved apartment — with exactly one suitcase, and disappear right along with my father!
Yes, of course I understood what could happen to me if I was to refuse protection. Randall would do anything he could to keep my father quiet, and what surer way than through his one weakness: me.
“Ma’am.” The man ducked his head into my room again and it took all I had not to kick the door shut right on his stubby, red nose.
“How do you expect me to pack up my life in fifteen minutes? Get out!” I turned my back on him.
“That’s no way to speak to the officer, Ms. Cross.”
I stilled instantly, a chill running along my spine.
“I got this. We’ll be ready to go in one minute,” the same man said.
I faced him as he closed my bedroom door.
I have to admit, it took me a minute to recover myself. This guy was tall. I’m not short, just average at 5’5”, so he must have been 6’5” at least, with dark hair and darker eyes, eyes that made me pause. Under any other circumstances, I would have reacted differently, but not today. Not when my life was falling apart around me.
I cleared my throat. “Who the hell are you?”
He smiled and made no secret of looking me over from head to toe. I narrowed my eyes and did the same. At this point, most men would have tripped over themselves with some stupid comment, but he didn’t. Instead, when I met his gaze again, he looked at me straight on, one side of his mouth curling upwards into a tiny smirk.
“I’m Lake Freeman. Your father hired me to look after you. I’ll be your personal bodyguard until we get you settled and safe.”