My stomach knots at the possibility they might be glad to see the back of me. I’ve caused so much trouble for them since I’ve been here—they might decide they’d rather I was gone.
Don lifts the handcuffs, as though to tease me with them and gives them a shake. “You gonna make this easy or hard?”
I refuse to make things easy for him. I’ll swim back to shore if I have to. There is no way in hell I’m going to let my stepfather take me. I’m exhausted, starving, and dying of thirst but somewhere, deep inside of me, I find that final reserve of energy.
I lunge for the side of the boat, fully prepared to be submerged in the cool ocean and then swim like I’ve never swam before, but arms wrap around me, pinning me in place. I recognize the scent of him—musk mixed with an old-fashioned body spray like Lynx.
My stepfather is a big man, but he can move quickly when needed. His arms are bulked with muscle that can only have come from many hours spent in the gym, and his chest is solid at my back. I scream and thrash, but he hauls me off my feet, so I end up only kicking out at air.
“Calm down, bitch. Don’t make me hurt you.”
He’s going to hurt me at some point—that much I’m sure of. He might not want to do it right in front of his colleague, but he will the moment we’re alone.
Right now, he’s still playing his ‘cop’ persona, but that won’t last.
Something else occurs to me. Don is most likely armed.
My gut twists, and my prayer for the guys to appear on the beach goes up in smoke. What if they try to save me and Don shoots them? The thought delivers ice straight through my veins. If any of them get hurt because I’ve brought Don to their door, I’ll never forgive myself.
I don’t quit struggling, though, even as he wrenches my arms behind my back. I scream and manage to kick behind me, my booted foot making contact with his shin.
“Fuck! Bitch!” he snarls.
He yanks my arms hard, and pain shoots through my shoulders. It won’t matter how many times I manage to kick him; he’s too strong for me to break free. That doesn’t mean I don’t take immense satisfaction in the kick that did meet its mark, however.
The cold metal catches around my wrists and snaps into place.
“There,” he says, finally letting go of me. “Now you’re not going anywhere. If you try to swim, you’ll drown.”
He’s right. I will. But isn’t that a better way of dying than letting Don do whatever he wants with me? I wonder how much he knows about the island and the resort it houses and the four men who own it.
“How did you find me?” I dare to ask.
He arches an eyebrow. “Does it matter?”
I grit my jaw and glare at him. “Yes, ’cause then I’ll know to avoid doing the same thing next time.”
That elicits a chuckle from deep in his chest. “Next time? There won’t be a next time. This is the last you’ll see of freedom, probably for the rest of your life.”
I’m aware he’s still in cop mode and won’t say out loud what he really intends to do with me, so I say it for him. “Why? Because you’re planning to rape and murder me, just like you did to my mother?”
“No, because you’re going to be spending the rest of your life behind bars, you little junkie whore.” He looks to his colleague. “Edwardo, let’s get moving.”
Edwardo nods and passes by us, ducking into the cabin to go to the wheelhouse at the bow. I hate that it means I’m now left alone with Don. A moment later, the engine roars to life and smoke filters across the water.
We’re moving now, the boat bouncing across the waves. In the burgeoning darkness, the island grows smaller, and the cove I was picked up from vanishes altogether.
Tears fill my eyes, and I’m drowning in regret. If only I’d made some different choices. I should never have run from Brody. I’d let him do whatever he wanted to me a thousand times over rather than be stuck in the situation I am now. I should have just sucked his cock and spread my legs for him and let him take whatever hole he wanted. It wasn’t as though I didn’t care for Brody—I did, despite how he’d treated me recently. I understood that his actions stemmed from fear. And fucking Brody was always a fun experience. He knew exactly what to do with his hands, mouth, and cock. I should have just taken whatever punishment would have made him feel better and gone back to the others.
But then I shake my head at myself. No. I’d needed to stand up for myself. Brody had to understand that he couldn’t take his fears out on me. He’d wanted me to leave—or at least that’s what he’d convinced himself. That was why he’d done what he had. He’d been trying to make me quit.
It’s with a bitter sweetness that I realize he got what he wanted. Is he happy now? Maybe it’s bad of me, but I hope he isn’t. I hope he’s beating himself up with the understanding that we could have all had something truly unique and special, if only he’d gone with it.
“Where are you taking me?” I ask Don. “And don’t say prison, because we both know that’s bullshit. You’re only saying that as a cover to ensure you’ve got one of your colleagues here to do your dirty work for you.”
Don spits air from between his teeth. “What’s the point in you knowing where we’re going? Are you hoping to find a phone and call someone for help?”
I don’t know any of the numbers for the island off by heart. They’d been programmed into my phone, which is still in my locker. I know my best friend’s number, but there’s no way I’d phone her and risk pulling her into this mess. I love Ruth too much to ever do that to her. Then there’s the police, but it’s not like I can call them. The reason for that is staring directly at me. These people protect their own, and I know they’ll take Don’s side if I report him. I tried to do it once before, right after my mother died, and I was accused of being hysterical.