Long angry whip lashes. It made him want to kill Callazaro all over again. Except more slowly this time. He felt an irrational sense of possession toward her. It offended him that piece of shit had done this to what he increasingly consideredhis.
She flinched when he ran his fingertips over the marks. “Shhh,” he said. “When he did this to you, was he angry?”
“I don't use that room when I'm angry. It's for pleasure. Not pain. Any pain is mild compared to the pleasure—and it's meant to take youtopleasure. I don't hurt women like that.” He doubted she could understand how pain could become an instrument of pleasure, particularly when it obviously hadn't been used that way with her.
She pulled her shirt back down and turned to face him. “B-but you have whips like Joey.”
“A lot of people have whips. That doesn't mean they are all abusive monsters.”
“But you kill people. How can I trust that?”
He couldn't deny that part. But his work and what he did with women were two completely separate compartments in his life. He didn't even take contracts for women.
Something almost tender overcame him. Suddenly instead of chasing her and making her afraid, he wanted to make her trust him. He wanted her to learn she would be safe if she did. He needed her to see he wasn't Joey and could never be such an out-of-control psychopath.
“Do you want me, Astrid?” He knew that she did. No woman who was indifferent or repulsed, responded like she had responded the previous night. Nor would she have been so shy at breakfast, or looked at him with that desperate hungry look she didn't realize she telegraphed. She had such an open face that showed every emotion that flitted across it.
“N-no.” Astrid flushed bright red as she looked away. “It's wrong.”
“Why? Is it wrong, or are you just afraid?”
She looked back at him, her expression shocked. “Of course I'm afraid.”
“And if I'm a threat to you, giving in to me won't change that. I could do whatever I wanted anyway. So what difference does it make if you enjoy the fall?”
She actually seemed to consider this line of reason. She should. It was utterly insane to Angel that she would fight something they both knew she wanted based on some irrational moral reasoning which no longer applied in the situation she'd found herself in.
“Let's go back inside.”
She shook her head and took a step back. “I can't.”
“I wasn't asking.”
He waited a moment to see how she would respond. His suspicion was proven right when she gave him one final pleading look before moving back to the house. He was stronger and faster than her, and they both knew that. She'd likely only run in the first place because of blind panic at what she'd seen downstairs. He needed to get some kind of security bracelet or ankle monitor to keep her on the property.
When they were inside, he took her hand and led her back to the piano room. She didn't struggle, but the fear emanated from her like palpable waves threatening to consume them both. He took her back down the stairs to the dungeon.
“Please,” she whimpered.
“I'm not going to hurt you.”
Reluctantly she let him lead her down the stairs. He stopped next to a large bondage bed with various means of restraint around it.
“Sit,” he said.
The dungeon was a warm, exposed-brick basement with plush white rugs over a dark hardwood floor. The walls contained hooks and shelves which displayed an endless array of toys and whipping implements. High-end sex furniture and bondage equipment were spread throughout the room.
In one corner, was a large dark walnut wardrobe. Angel opened it and retrieved some sexy black lingerie that would be just about her size. He laid the lingerie beside her and put his hand gently on the side of her face.
“A-Angel...” she said uncertainly.
“I want you to call me, Master.”