Page 16 of His Solace

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Pounding explodes, and I have a slight moment of regret until I see the way blood gushes out of him to mingle with mine on the floor. He’s not so high and mighty now. That smug look is masked by his own pain.

“You little whore!” As he raises his hand to hit me again, Ephrem can be heard shouting for him. “I’ll be back, and you’ll be fucking sorry.” His warning doesn’t hold the same impact as it would have before I watched him bleed and tears crowded his eyes.

Leaving the room, the door slams shut, and I’m left alone. Only Judas made a mistake. He dropped the knife and didn’t pick it back up. It’s laying in the puddle of blood, and I have no idea how I’m going to reach it without further hurting myself. Shaking the chair around, I test its sturdiness. It’s rickety, so it might not be difficult to break if I can slam it backwards hard enough.

Planting my feet as firmly as possible given the way they’re tied to the legs of the chair, I lean forward as far as I dare without falling on my face and throw all my weight back until I hit the floor again. The crunching and piercing pain in my flesh tells me I’ve given myself some splinters as the wood broke. Rolling to my side, I groan as I pull my hands away from the arms of the chair. Still bound to the now broken pieces, I work a little more slowly to untie myself when I hear bold cursing from the direction of where Judas and Ephrem went.

Something heavy is thrown against a wall before a masculine scream pierces the near-silent air. I have no idea what’s happened, but I know I’m going to be the target for their rage once they decide someone must pay for it.

Forcing myself to move, I grab the knife and slice through the rope against my ankles. I wish I had clothes. Being naked puts me at a distinct disadvantage. But even with my small size and naivety of the world, I’m prepared to fight for my freedom, and if that means dying, I’m okay with that. No matter how many regrets I might have.

Standing up slowly, I can feel every ache in my body as if it were magnified, and even trying to discount it, I’m unsuccessful. Leaning against the wall, I make my way to the door and stand beside it, so when it’s opened, I’m hidden from view, which will give me the benefit of surprise for when someone returns for me.

There’s more noise, more crashing, a gunshot rings out, and I finally reach for the doorknob to test it just as the door flies open. Reacting out of fear, I swing forward with the knife, unsure of who’s there, only for a powerful, tattoo-covered hand to grasp my wrist, stopping me from inflicting any kind of harm.

“Pace.” I nearly sink to the ground in relief, but he doesn’t miss a beat and pulls me around the door, using my arm as leverage and holds me against his body.

“How’d you know it was me?” His dark eyes are fueled with fire and promises of death as he examines me.

“It’s just…you. I’d know you anywhere.” His gaze heats up until he sees the bruising on my body and the cuts on my leg. “How did you find me?” I don’t even know where we are.

“Father Cassio,” is all he says. “Ephrem and Judas had their lackeys call to let me know they had you, and I worked out the rest.”

“The church?” Concern for Daia is ever present. I need my friend to be okay.

“Burnt to the ground.” His tone is neutral.

Staring up at Pace, I worry my lip, afraid to ask. He seems to read my mind, nevertheless. “She’s fine. I have her stashed in the penthouse suite of the hotel.” Brushing the hair back from my face, he searches my eyes before saying, “Where I should have had you to begin with."

Regret and pain filter through the steely threads of rage, and I finally understand his attitude. “You couldn’t have known they’d find me so quickly.”

“I should have.” I don’t comment to that. Pace isn’t going to listen to me. All I can do is show him that even though I’m a little worse for wear, I’ll live. Despite how disgusting I feel from Judas’ touch.

Glancing at the door, I ask, “Are they…dead?”

His head tilts to the side before answering me. “Some.”

“Judas?” The question earns a glare.

“Not quite.” He waits a few heartbeats before asking, “Why?”

Slipping out of his grasp, I wrap my arms around my middle, still aware of just how naked I am. How vulnerable I feel. “He, uhm…Judas…” I stumble over my words, knowing what will happen once I get them out. And that’s not even what worries me the most. What I’m afraid of is how I’ll react to Pace’s touch. To the intimacy we just discovered together and the craving I have for it isn’t something I want to lose. I don’t want to be affected by what Judas did, but I know I might not be able to help it.

“Isabel.” The sharp tone draws me out of my head.

“He touched me,” I finally blurt out. “Put his fingers…” I can’t finish it. “He wanted to find out if I’m still a virgin.”

I didn’t know it was possible…

To witness a murder before it happens.

Pace’s eyes turn so black that the whites nearly dissipate, and in his frigid stare, I see the million ways he wants Judas to suffer. Ripping off his shirt, he gently pulls it over my head and helps me slip my arms through the sleeves. His gentleness contradicts the actions I know he’s about to commit.

He doesn’t need to tell me to stay put as he walks away without a word. I count the seconds until I hear a scream so ear-splitting, so agony-filled, that my eyes close until the sound stops.

* * *


Tags: K.L. Donn Erotic