Only bare concrete walls everywhere I look.
It’s a prison.
The man who’s been shoving me around releases me like I’m on fire. I immediately spin around, running for the door on unsteady legs and screaming as loud as I can. My throat throbs and my ears ring at the noise.
One of the other guys cuts me off before I can get far. Swinging out his arm, he backhands me so hard, I stumble and lose my footing.
I land on my ass—hard. Pain radiates up my back, knocking the air from my lungs. My head spins, and specks of light appear in my vision. My cheek throbs and blood fills my mouth. Rage burns through my veins, and I want so badly to fight him.
“That was stupid,” the third guy mocks. “Here’s how this is going to work. Behave, and you live. After all, it’s not you we’re after. Misbehave, and things are going to be really hard for you.”
Cradling the side of my burning cheek with my hand, I digest his warning. It’s not me they are after, which means they are here for Julian. Of course, that doesn’t make it better. The fear of losing my husband is a close second to the fear for my own life.
“Do we really have to let her go?” one of the other men questions, his voice slimy. “I could use another pet. We could even share her. Let’s just keep her for a while after we kill Julian. Get our fill of her, and then if she’s still alive, we can let her go.”
My mind is already hazy with fear, and the thought of them taking me and using my body as if I’m a whore is more than I can handle. Bile rises in my throat as my stomach churns. Taking a few deep breaths through my nose, I manage to calm down enough so that I don’t throw up. It’s the last thing I need right now.
“We’ll think about it. Let’s see how well she behaves from now on. In the meantime, tie her up while I’m out there making sure he gets the message,” the biggest one of the three orders before slipping out of the room. I want to tell him not to leave me here, but that’s just stupid. He’s not going to help me. None of them are. They want my husband dead, and they want me to suffer. They want to hurt me.
The other two don’t waste any time. One grabs me by the arm, his fingers sinking into my skin with bruising force as he pulls me off the floor like a rag doll and places me on a chair while the other pulls out rope from a backpack he was carrying.
They make quick work tying my arms behind my back roughly. The rope is pulled so tight it digs into the skin around my wrists, cutting off the blood supply to my hands.
“I can’t feel my hands,” I complain after a minute.
“Shut up,” the man in front of me growls.
“I’m sorry. Please, don’t do this…” I start to cry, my emotions consuming me. They’re going to kill Julian, and then me…and the baby.
“I said to shut the fuck up. You hard of hearing or just stupid?” The man grabs me by the chin, his grip so tight I wince.
The man pulls out an old dirty rag from his pocket, and before I can put together what he is going to do, he shoves it in my mouth. I instantly start gagging. The taste on my tongue, the smell of his sweat, it’s all too much.
My head spins and my stomach twists with knots. This can’t be happening. Maybe this is a bad dream and I’m about to wake up.
Closing my eyes, I try to calm myself down. If this is real, I need to be smart, I need to make sure I get out of here. Right now, I have to worry about one thing. The safety of the child I’m carrying. The child no one even knows about. Clinging to the fact that I know Julian will come for me, I shut down. I can do this. I just have to hold on a little longer and not give these men a reason to kill me before Julian can find me.
Seconds become minutes, and soon worry starts to fester in my gut. What is taking so long? Is she sick? Did she fall in? Usually, I have no problem giving her some space, but it has been well over ten minutes now. No one else has entered the bathroom, so I show no concern when I push the door open and pop my head inside.
“Elena?” Calling out her name, I’m met with nothing but the sound of my own voice echoing back at me.