Plaything: Volume Two

Plaything: Volume Two by Jason Luke, Jade West Page B

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Authors: Jason Luke, Jade West
the while I heard the swish of the singletail, wailing as it cut into my back with every stroke. I ran and I ran, gaining just a sliver of distance before I crashed headlong into a solid wooden door. It was locked. I hammered with desperate fists, adrenaline pumping while my breath wheezed ragged. The air was filled with nothing but Alistair’s laughter as his fingers wrapped around my throat. And then the door gave way, jittery feet launching me through the gap.
    And into another man’s arms.
    I made to bolt, instincts as sharp as a spooked horse, but I was held tight, solid hands on my arms pulling me closer, until my face pressed against his muscular form. His smell was familiar, musky and rich, like sandalwood. My struggle waned.
    “It’s me,” he said. “Shh, Amy, stop. It’s just me. It’s Robert.”
    I stilled, succumbing to the strength of his grip, and his arms folded around me, his breath in my hair.
    “It’s ok. There’s nobody here, just us,” he said. “I’m not them. I’m nothing like them.”
    My senses gathered themselves into some kind of order, and I caught my breath slowly.
    “A nightmare,” I managed. “I was dreaming. I don’t like the dark…”
    I moved with him, letting him guide me across the room until he lowered me gently onto the couch, squeezing my hand before disappearing just long enough to gather the duvet from the other room. I pulled it around me, staring at him without reservation as he sat down beside me, close enough for comfort, but not close enough to overwhelm. He was still dressed, his shirt sleeves rolled to the elbow as though he was hard at work in the office. His eyes were tired but bright, his expression calm and unmoved. Steady.
    “Get some sleep,” he said. “We’ll keep the lamp on. You’re perfectly safe here, Amy. I promise you that.”
    I ran my fingers through my bed-tangled hair. “I don’t want to sleep,” I said. “Not yet.”
    He reached for the jug of water on the coffee table. Poured me a glass. “You need sleep. We have a big week ahead.”
    “Please,” I said. “Just talk awhile.”
    His eyes were kind, but he didn’t smile. “I’m not much of a talker, Amy. What did you want to talk about?”
    I shrugged. “Anything. Nothing. I don’t care.”
    I could feel him examining me, every inch of me on show above the duvet. The flush of my cheeks, my rapid breathing, my tangled hair. His gaze stopped on my fingers, and I realized I was twisting my hands together, palms clammy. “How about you talk, and I listen?”
    “That’ll do,” I sighed. “What do you want to know?”
    He rested his arm over the back of the couch, his fingers hovering just inches from my shoulder. “Tell me of happier times. Tell me about you, what makes you happy, who you are.”
    “Who I was ,” I corrected, but his expression turned stern.
    “Who you are . You’re still you. Don’t let go of that, Amy, not for anyone or anything.”
    My mind skitted through old memories, searching for a happy place, but they landed on something else altogether. “My mother was a bitch,” I said. “And my father was a useless weakling. A spineless squib who never did anything for himself, let alone any of us.”
    Robert looked at me with interest, but didn’t speak a word, leaving me free to continue.
    “We could never do anything right for Mother, any of us. She was spiteful and cruel, but that wasn’t the worst of it, the worst was the disapproval, the running commentary on how terrible we all were at every opportunity.” I paused as the image of her in our old family kitchen flashed into view. “She was quite a woman. I’m sure she scared half the neighborhood as much as she did us. You should have seen her, almost six foot in her stocking feet and built like a brick shithouse. I take after my father, much more willowy,” I explained. “Mother was a tyrant, running the household like some kind of totalitarian regime. She’d beat us into next week with

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