Authors: Christine Feehan
“You said you crave those things. All the time?”
This was another one of those telling moments. Having to admit out loud to the woman he wanted to spend his life with that he was so fucked up he liked to see his marks on her before he fucked her, all the time. Every time. He rested his head on her belly again, needing to feel her peace. The way she soothed him.
She dropped her hand to his head, her fingers doing the slow massage that sent peace easing the knots in his belly. He didn’t want her to stop. He didn’t want her to ask any more questions. He just wanted her to say she would hand herself over to him. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t even logical.
“Answer me, honey,” she said softly. “You’ve gone this far. I need to know.”
“When I have sex, yes. It arouses me. But finding you, knowing you would give yourself to me willingly, let me
mark your skin, take a strap to you or cane you, do that for me, really participate and get off with me because you actually can love me . . .” He stopped himself. “That’s the ultimate, Seychelle. That’s the fucking dream.”
Seychelle remained silent, her fingers moving on his scalp in that relaxing way she had that made him feel as if he mattered to her.
“The truth is, Seychelle, we need each other. If you’re honest with yourself, you need me as much as I need you. You can’t say no when all those people start taking pieces of you. You need someone strong to step in and put a stop to it. I’m that man. I can take care of you when you need it.”
Savage rubbed her hip gently, moved his fingers inside her thigh to stroke along those nerve endings. He wrote his name there in bold letters, down the inside of her thigh and then back up, the pads of his fingers stroking along the lacy strip of cloth that barely covered her sweet little pussy. His thumb slid along her pussy lips. He would shave her bare tonight.
“I think if you’re honest, angel, you have to admit, the thought of this type of sex arouses you.” He said it gently, knowing it was a gamble.
“Fantasizing about something and doing it are two different things, Savage. The actual idea is terrifying. I don’t know if I’m that brave.”
His Seychelle. She was that brave. That courageous. He was seducing her gently. Bringing her into his world with infinite care. Loving a woman could be overwhelming at times. “You’re that brave,” he murmured against her hip bone, and then licked along the top of it.
“Tell me how you got this way.”
Savage pressed kisses along her hip bone, taking his time, building something good when he was about to give her something bad. He went back to using the pads of his fingers to stroke her inner thigh, moving higher to slide over her sex, feeling her heat. Her slickness. Her need for him. He rubbed his shadowed jaw over her belly, leaving
red whisker burn. He kissed his way from her belly button to the very edge of her sweet, nearly nonexistent panties.
His teeth continued nipping, this time a little harder, pinching, and then immediately he used his tongue to soothe away the shocking ache. Each time he did, her breath hitched. She never once pulled away from him. He ran his finger under the edge of that strip of lace, rubbing gently, barely there. Her breathing left her lungs in a little explosion and then turned ragged.
This woman. He knew her and her courage. She could do what no one else could. She could love him. He saw that clearly in her. She would give him everything he ever asked of her. More, even. And she would stand strong when the worst happened—and it would. She would love him through it.
He knew what he was capable of. He could give her the world. He could and would make her scream with pleasure over and over, a thousand different ways. He could love her with everything in him, even the monster—especially the monster—and it would never add up to what he was asking her to give to him. Every single day he would see to it that she was happy and well loved, so when those dark days came, she would have something to hang on to.
He closed his eyes for a moment and then rolled over to sit on the edge of the bed, his heart suddenly pounding in his chest. Not accelerating, just hitting so hard he felt the blows like punches.
“I’m from Russia,” he said unnecessarily, certain she already knew that. “I told you that my parents opposed a man who wanted to be president. His second-in-command, a man by the name of Sorbacov, quietly began to purge those who were against his candidate. Our family was wealthy and had influence, so they had to go. Sorbacov came in the dead of night with his soldiers, murdered my parents and took my two older sisters, Reaper and me to one of his ‘schools,’ supposedly to make us into assets for our country. I’ve told you this before, but I didn’t tell you the rest. The truth about those schools.”
He put his head in his hands, breathing deep, trying to still the screams, trying to drive out the voices of the monsters running through his head. He pressed his thumbs against his temples, the pressure on his chest increasing.
“There were four schools, each progressively harsher. The fourth school, the one he took us to, was a special school. Very special. Sorbacov looked normal to the outside world. He was married with children of his own and always acted the perfect husband and father, but he was a pedophile. He liked little boys. He liked to see children tortured and raped. It aroused him, and he had many like-minded friends. Criminals and pedophiles ran the school and were given carte blanche to do whatever they wanted. He laughingly referred to it as his great experiment.”
He reached back and circled her ankle with his hand because he needed their very strong connection in order to get through the memories, the ones he tried so hard never to think about. That door he locked and barricaded in his mind, but no matter what he did, it always cracked open and he went a little berserk.
“I was very young, and I really thought I shouldn’t remember the things that happened. The first time they took me, kicking and screaming from Reaper and my sisters. That first time when they hurt me so bad, I didn’t think I could survive. My sisters tried to stop them from taking us, and they beat them in front of us. Then they took them and did horrible things to them and threw them down into the freezing-cold basement, where we had to watch them die.”
Little beads of sweat trickled down his face. He tightened his fingers around her ankle as the doors in his mind widened, spilling those memories out along with blood and death. So many. He pressed his fingers deeper into his eyes, deeper into her ankle.
“I had no real idea of sex. What it should or shouldn’t be. I was too young. I just knew I didn’t want to hurt like that, and I fought them every chance I could get. Apparently,
there was a group that really enjoyed hurting their partners, and they thought it would be great fun to teach me that was how to get aroused.”
He shook his head. “I’m not telling you this very well, but it’s the best I can do, Seychelle. I watched them whipping girls and boys. The first time it was done to me, I went after them, ripping the whip out of their hands and trying to flog them. I was just a little kid, and they found it amusing. I was considered really good-looking, and they liked to take turns whipping me. By that, I mean forcing me to go down on one of them while another whipped me. The more I fought, the more they kept at me. This went on for years. The rapes, the whips, the floggings. It was brutal.”
He couldn’t look at her, his past merging with his present so that he could smell the sex, the blood. Feel the combination surrounding him. “They were training some boy, about fifteen, and I was probably eight when I took the whip from the fifteen-year-old and turned it on him. After that, I was the one learning to wield that whip. There was no way I was going to let them tear me up like that if I could help it.”
He had no idea those little droplets of sweat were tears until the room turned blurry. He used his arm to swipe across his face because he couldn’t let go of her. She was sanity. His only sanity in that moment when his past was so close.
“When I would lay perfect stripes on someone, they would reward me, sucking my dick, making me come. I swear I didn’t know the difference, only that it was better to feel good than to hurt like hell. I was very good at training others to like pain. Erotic pain. Pain and pleasure are so close, so intertwined, and it isn’t that difficult to confuse the two sensations. I was so good at it. I could turn pain into pleasure every time. Every way. I did that shit for years, Seychelle, and they called me the Master of Pain, the Whip Master, so many other titles. And I earned every one of them.”
He closed his eyes against the memories, of thin red streaks and tears, of his body moving in others. The trouble
was, those memories were behind his eyelids. Carved into his soul. There was no getting rid of them.
“I liked training them. I liked seeing my mark on them. Each year I got better. The better I got, the harder it was for anyone to assault me. I learned to fight. I learned to hurt others. I learned so many really ugly things without knowing they weren’t right. It was the only sex I knew. I didn’t even know it was done any other way.”
He had been shaped into a monster without any realization that was what was happening. He was twisted into something unrecognizable. Something vile.
“I hurt others so I wouldn’t get hurt, at first. Then because it kept my brother from getting hurt—at least, that was what I believed. Then my body was so confused it didn’t know how to have an erection unless I was marking someone. While I trained my partners to like pain, I didn’t realize I was being trained to need to give it. To see those marks. It’s been impossible to have any kind of an erection without it.”
It was a confession, straight up. He left out the terrible, brutal details. The things that had put those scars all over his body. The children he’d watched die. The girls he’d trained given away when his handlers got tired of them and wanted newer playthings so they could start all over again. Watching those first girls being cruelly tortured and eventually killed. He didn’t give her those things, but they were all there inside of him, swimming in that red-hot pool of rage.
“There’s no way to reverse years of damage. Over twenty years, Seychelle. I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on in the hopes of being different, but it isn’t going to happen. I know that. And I know that these things trapped inside of me, the voices of the dead wailing for justice, I know I’ll never be rid of them. I need to avenge them just the way I need to mark my partner and then make it all better.”
He took a breath. Needing it. He had to face her. Had to look at her and see the truth of what she thought. Seychelle
couldn’t hide from him any more than he could hide from her. She either would order him away from her, sickened by what she’d heard, or she would have the courage in her to face the monster with him.
He slowly turned his head until his eyes met hers. Those blue eyes swam with tears. There was no condemnation on her face. She had too much empathy in her, too much compassion. She saw the things he’d told her in vivid detail. The little boy beaten, brutalized, raped. The cigarettes put out on his body. The blowtorch they’d used on him. The branding iron. The terrible scars left from the deep lashes of the bullwhips and slashes of the knives. She could see a lot more evidence than that, but now those images were in her mind. Trapped there, both a gift and a curse. A gift to pull out when she needed a reminder of how he got the way he was. A curse because the images would haunt her, give her nightmares.
“Savage.” She whispered his name. “I’m so sorry. I don’t understand how anyone could do those things to a child.”
Neither could he. She wouldn’t understand his need for justice. His need to show those fuckers what it was like to be brutalized. To be tortured. He hadn’t told her the things he’d seen. The children who had died because he wasn’t strong enough to save them. He didn’t tell her how he and the others had escaped, but he knew one day she’d ask.
“I don’t know if I’m strong enough,” Seychelle admitted in a small voice. “I’ve never considered doing anything like this.”
“You’re strong enough. You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever come across. It’s a commitment for both of us. We both have to choose. Here. Tonight. You have to be certain I’m trustworthy. The things I’ll demand of you, the things I’ll do to you, will take trust. You have to give that to me the way you did when you got on the back of my bike. You have to know I would never harm you. Never. You’re mine to take care of. I want to give you every reason to stay in love with me, to want to turn over control to me when we’re in that situation because you trust that you’re safe with me at all
times, no matter what is happening. I want you to marry me, Seychelle. To know I’m in love with you and committed to this relationship and to you one hundred percent.”
“You’re that certain that you want marriage?”
“Once you’re mine, baby, I’d never be stupid enough to let you go. But you have to make that choice. I have to know you want me the same way I want you.”
“I don’t know the first thing about what you need or how I would provide that for you.”
“I know more than enough for both of us. I’ll always take care of you, Seychelle. There won’t be other women. There won’t be anyone I put higher than you. I’ll always know what I’ve asked of you.”
“And you’re going to do that to me? Whip me? Put red marks on my body?”
He nodded, his heart pounding until he was afraid he couldn’t catch his breath, but he wasn’t going to lie to her or pretend he wouldn’t do the things he craved. “I’ll do more than use a whip. It will hurt, but it will also give you the most pleasure you’ll ever know. I’ll make certain of that. You already know you respond. I showed you. A small preview, just to see if you would like what we did, and your body was extremely responsive.”
She was silent for a long time. He rubbed his hand down his face, trying to give her space. Trying not to touch her. To add seduction to his sins, but it was impossible. This was the most important battle of his life, and he had to use every weapon in his arsenal. It was for both of them. Her life. His. He stretched out on the bed again, his head on her belly, his arm around her hip, so he could use the pads of his fingers shamelessly, stroking caresses along that thin strip of lace. So he could breathe on her bare skin, rub the sandpaper bristles over her soft belly, leaving his mark.