“Stop,” I squeaked and tried to scratch him, but I couldn’t get a grip on him.

“Fuck, I’ve been waiting for this. And here you are, right place, right time.” He hiked my skirt up and slipped his fingers in my panties. I jerked as he pushed lower, seeking my entrance. “Not even wet for me? That’s okay. Your blood will work just as well.”

He dropped me and I gasped for breath. He bent me over, my hands on the toilet as he pushed my skirt up.

“No!” When I tried to stand up, he punched me in the back. I cried out and fell forward, hitting my head on the back of the toilet. He took the opportunity to rip my panties off. I tried to turn and fight, but I wasn’t used to close quarters, and he was too big.

“Shut up.” He clapped a hand over my mouth. “Get loud again and I’ll knock you out. Either way, this pussy is mine. Maybe your ass, too, you filthy slut.”

His belt buckle rattled and my gorge rose.

“Stella?” Teddy knocked.

“She’s not in here.” Dylan pressed his hand harder to my mouth. I flailed my hands out and knocked the soap dispenser from the sink. Anything to make noise.

“Stella, are you in there?” Teddy knocked harder.

Dylan inched his hand up so his palm covered my nose and mouth. I tried to pull in air, but his large hand blocked any breathing.

“Go the fuck away, man. I’m trying to take a shit.” Dylan pulled his dick out and rubbed the wet tip down my ass.

I bucked forward, shaking the toilet, but not breaking his grip.

“Teddy, what are you doing? Get back in the dining room.” Sin’s voice wafted through the door as Dylan tried to push his cock down to my entrance again.

My vision faded and I could feel myself going limp.

“No. I think some guy has Stella in there.”

“What?” The question was sharp, but not as loud as the splintering sound of wood as the door burst inward.

Dylan was ripped away from me and I fell against the sink, trying to get air into my burning lungs.

“Stella!” Teddy yanked my skirt down and turned me to his chest, wrapping his arms around me. “Jesus, what did he do to you?”

Thuds and yells erupted from the hallway, and the wall shook, plaster dusting from the ceiling. My throat ached, and I buried my face in Teddy’s shoulder.

“It’s okay. Shh.” He shook his blazer off his shoulders and wrapped it around me, drawing it tight at my front before pulling me to his chest again.

“Don’t you fucking touch her!” Sin’s rage-filled roar shot to every corner of the house as the servers rushed past in the hallway.

“Boys, boys! This is why we can’t have nice things.” Cal’s laugh rang out and was followed by cackles from the dining room.

After the servers were gone, Teddy peeked out the door toward the foyer. He scooped me into his arms and ran for the back stairway. I held onto his neck as he took the steps two at a time.

“What happened?” Renee hovered at the top step.

“Some guy attacked her in the bathroom.” Teddy rushed down the hall and carried me to my room, sitting me on the bed as I clutched his jacket to me.

I couldn’t stop shaking. He sat next to me and pulled me close again, rubbing my back and shushing me as I trembled. Renee knelt in front of me, and tilted my chin up. She gasped when she saw my neck.

“He could have killed her.” Her voice was unforgiving. “Who was it?”

“I don’t know, but he was big.”

“Dylan.” My voice croaked through my teeth.

“Your stepbrother?”

I nodded. Renee and Teddy exchanged a look as raucous cries erupted from downstairs.

“We have a victor!” Cal’s showman voice lofted to our ears. “Congratulations, Sinclair. Well done. Somebody get Dylan cleaned up. He gave a good showing. Now, let’s finish our lunch.”



I TOOK ANOTHER SWIG of brandy as Farns did his best to patch up my busted knuckles. I barely felt it.

The party was at an end, and the last guest had left hours ago. I glanced at the stairs. Teddy still hadn’t come out of Stella’s room.

“I heard what that nasty fellow tried to do. I am proud of you, Mr. Sinclair.”

I shook my head. “I’m the last person in this house for you to be proud of. I can promise you that.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You didn’t choose this.” He glanced up at me, his blue eyes faded while the man inside was still sharp. “You are doing well.”

Steps on the stairs had my heart speeding up. But it was only Renee. Stella remained above, hidden from me.

“Did you kill him?” The steel in Renee’s voice sent a chill through me.

My memory flickered alive like a beast needing to be fed. When my mother and I returned from Brazil, Renee met us at the airport. She rushed up and kissed me on the forehead before taking Rebecca in her arms.

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