“My problem? My problem is there’s a goddamn sociopathic sex trafficker at large, and I can’t catch him because your patient has given us jack shit to go off in these little hypnotherapy sessions of yours. That girl is wasting our time because she doesn’t want him to be found.”
I inhale a deep breath and tune them out. He’s right. I don’t want them to find Ares. I’d rather take a blade to my wrists than give him up. But nothing I tell them matters anyway, because I don’t have any idea where to find the man who cast me aside.
I pick up the file and open it. Inside are black-and-white photos of suspects. None of them are Ares, but they all have his dark hair and handsome exotic features. They may not have found an exact match, but how do they know this about him?
I leaf through the pages and come across a grainy black-and-white image of a dark alley, and a man carrying a body clad in a tutu toward the open doors of an awaiting van.
Below that picture is my Sir. Though his face is distorted and unclear, mine is not. My eyes are closed, my head tucked in against his large chest, protected, safe, though I didn’t know him at all then. That is what I feel when I see this image now. And then the sickening sense of loss as a tear glances off my jaw and onto the paper. I run my fingertips over his distorted face and close my eyes. My heart is empty, and my stomach and soul were sucked dry, right down to the marrow until there was nothing left. This is how he left me. This is what freedom does to a sub who used to be owned.
March and Stahl are both staring at me from the entrance now. I can feel their weighted gazes. Are they wondering what’s wrong with me? Freedom. Freedom is what’s wrong with me. Funny that I spent so long trying to gain it, and now that I have it, I want nothing to do with it.
Fuck you and your freedom. I said that to my Sir once. Now I really mean it.
“That file is confidential,” Stahl says, but we both know it’s not. This is not the confidential file on my abduction. If it were, he never would have left me alone with it.
“Then why did you leave it here for me to find?”
“Let’s cut the bullshit, Miss Flynn. You know who this bastard is. You know it, and I know it, and it’s only a matter of time before these elaborate little lies and this amnesia comes crashing down. If you tell me now who he is, I can make any jail sentence you might be facing just go away.”
He chuckles and looks to the ceiling, as if throwing a prayer up to God to give him strength.Strength. Stahl knows nothing of it. “You can be tried for obstruction of justice, Camille. Is that what you want? To escape one jail only to replace it with another?”
“I didn’t escape.”
The room falls silent.
“What?” Stahl’s angry face rushes toward mine. Too close.
“I didn’t escape. He let me go.”
“Son of a bitch.” He shakes his head. “I knew you were lying. I knew you remembered something.”
“Agent Stahl, that’s enough.” Doctor March throws herself in front of the man, halting his trajectory.
“I remember only that he let me go, he set me free, and all anyone has done since is lock me in a cage with their demands that I remember, and answer their questions.”
Christian looms at the doorway. Stoic and imposing, he glares at Stahl. I have no love for the hired goon, but right now I could kiss him. “Everything alright in here, miss?”
“Yeah, Stahl was just leaving.”
“I’ll walk him out.” Christian’s grin is smug, but at least it’s not directed at me for once.
Stahl’s contempt oozes out of his every pore. If it were up to him, it wouldn’t just be Ares and Hermes he’d lock up. I’d rot behind bars for the rest of my life too. Which makes me wonder if he doesn’t have a stake invested in this. Not with Ares—he clearly doesn’t even know whom he’s looking for—but perhaps someone he knows has suffered the same fate as me. Perhaps his girlfriend, wife, fiancée, mother, sister, or friend was stolen away too. Or maybe he really is just one of the few remaining good guys, like Officer Torres, but with a shitty bedside manner.
Either way, he won’t find my Sir. I’ll die before I let that happen.