We all have secrets.
Dominic promised me a life in the light when he said “I do.” After spending months as his prisoner, chained to his bed, and beholden to his every desire, he promised me a lifetime spent making it up to me, proving how sorry he was.
Secrets have the power to tear us apart.
As things from our past continued to be revealed, Dominic was harboring secrets of his own—descending further into the darkness. Except, this time I wasn’t welcomed into the shadows with him.
The man who slept in my bed and looked like my husband had become nothing more than an apparition of the man I fell for, and I feared the day I would wake to find even the ghost of him missing. Dominic had already captured me, body and heart. Could I afford to lose my soul, too? I had a choice to make—I could stay and risk losing myself in him completely, or go and save myself the heartache of his inevitable fall. What choice would you make?
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“Wait! Dominic! Where are you going? You can’t leave me here!” I yelled to his back, but it was like shouting at a wall. Dominic was absorbed by the night as he walked farther and farther, without so much as a backwards glance to remind him of what he left behind. He just left me there while I continued shouting my outrage at his back.
“Don’t leave me! You can’t leave me here,” I continued mumbling incoherently through the shower of tears that drenched me in all of the anger and hurt. Dominic abandoned me. On purpose. He said he would never leave me and he left. I never even thought it was a possibility, but he did it. He proved that I couldn’t trust him. That every niggling doubt, every sheltered secret I knew he carried, all of it—it wasn’t a figment of my imagination. It wasn’t “Dominic’s way.” It was a part of Dominic. It wasn’t a choice he made, but as inherent as those devastating brown eyes and lickable lips. This was Dominic’s character flaw, among many.
I didn’t know how long he left me there—five, ten, fifteen minutes. It didn’t matter. Whatever the reason didn’t matter either, whether he could see it or not, something was breaking between us.
The ropes slid down the tree as my knees gave out. Dangling between those trees I cried for the girl I was, for the girl I’d lost to him, but more for the girl who couldn’t bridge this chasm with all the wood in the world. My face felt puffy and limp, and my body filled with a cold chill that had little to do with being naked in the middle of the forest. The air was balmy with a slight breeze—a perfect night to watch the flicker of new and old stars, to wish on comets bursting across the sky, and contemplate our insignificance in the universe.
Well I had the insignificance bit down.
The sound of crumpling leaves alerted me that I was no longer alone. I looked up to see all six foot two of him, his shirt now gone, showing clean lines of muscles rippling his arms and stomach, despite the inverted “Y” down the center of his upper chest and stomach. Dominic’s body was now as scarred as his insides. I found it appropriate, given the situation.
“Rise.” It wasn’t a question or a statement. This was a command, and it was said as such. I balanced my weight on my right side as I untangled my limbs and hobbled until I was standing upright.
When I rose to a height he found acceptable, he moved in closer. So close my flesh accepted his body heat as its own. He looked formidable standing before me, rippling with a tension that made the vein by his temple tick. I followed the tense muscles down his arms and found there in his hand a pair of shears, looking like something from my nightmares.
It was in the reflection of those scissors that I saw him. The man who kidnapped me and deemed me his property with no thought as to my emotions or needs. When I looked from tree to tree, focusing on the rope pulled taut from my struggles, I realized this was what I could come to expect from the monster that Dominic kept contained. This was what he did when he was losing control of his emotions, but how could I help him when I didn’t know what plagued him?
I wanted to rewind time, wanted to go back to the moment when he returned home last night. Maybe I should have spent more time talking with him. Not that it would have changed anything. Dominic only told me what he wanted me to know—nothing more—but I could have tried. There was something happening with him, but how do you help someone who doesn’t want help?
My knees shook like a dying carburetor, sputtering before I collapsed. Bits of loose rock dug into my skin, making me wince at the pressure. The rope pooled on either side of me, snaking loosely around my already limp body. Dominic crouched down until he was almost eye-level with me.
“Stop. No, Dominic.”
“Where did my little spitfire go? Do I need to find her again?”
“I’m not the same girl you took, Dominic.”
“Prove it,” he said with a smirk that made me want to smother his face in the dirt.
He dropped the scissors and lifted me in his arms before moving between the trees to adjust the height of the ropes until I was once again dangling with arms spread out wide.
“No! No! Dominic,” I said while struggling within my confines and fighting back a fresh wave of tears. It was useless. I was perfectly held between his arms. Even if I wasn’t tied to the trees, I still wouldn’t be able to escape his hold. The most I could do was tell him I didn’t want him to touch me and hope that he would be angry enough not to force the issue.
“No? No? Hailey, in all of the time you’ve known me, when has you telling me no ever worked? Did you really think it would work now?” he whispered.
Never. That was the answer he expected to hear. Never. Because for the longest time my voice was silenced by his needs and wants. I was a victim, a prisoner—my concerns went unnoticed. As long as I was healthy and followed the rules, everything was fine.
“Things are different now.” I tilted my head over my right shoulder to meet his eyes. All I saw was emptiness. His eyes were shadowed in the darkness of night, leaving two pits of black that made him look soulless.
He picked up the scissors and moved closer. I fell as far back as the ropes allowed in my attempt to escape him, scrambled around until my legs felt pretzled in their contortion. When there was nowhere else for me to go, the edge of the scissors whispered across my breasts. The cold, menacing metal stretched the length of my chest, gleaming with purpose.
“Look at me.”
When I made no attempt to move, he grabbed a fistful of my hair—the roots snapping against my scalp with the strain, and yanked me back until the only thing I could focus on was him. Those wild brown eyes, rich with promise of frightening delight, sparkled in the moonlight. The cold of the metal licked my skin as he moved the scissors closer to my right breast. His eyes stayed locked on mine with the first snip. The loud clamp of the scissors cutting, mixed with the ease at which it cut through the strap, startled me.
“Don’t move, baby.” He groaned. He threw the strap of the bra back over my shoulder and out of the way as his mouth descended. The pathetic excuse of fabric dropped, leaving me exposed to his assault.
Cee Smith is a lover of the written word. Since first learning how to string a sentence together, she’s been putting pen to paper and hasn’t looked back. Though she’s no longer obsessed with blood and gore, the dark side still calls to her, often finding refuge in her current writings. Her addiction to reading is what finally inspired her to take a chance at publishing.
A California native, currently residing in North Carolina with her husband. She loves salacious stories, true love and forbidden romances—the more angst the better. Other than reading and writing, some of her other obsessions are peanut butter (don’t get her started), Michael Fassbender, and watching tv.
She loves talking about the creative process and what books she’s reading, so feel free to shoot her a line. Or if you just want to say hi that’s fine too. She swears she’ll respond.