“Are you going to keep me locked in the basement?”
“In my paranoid security fortress mansion? That won't be necessary. You'll have the run of the place and your own room. I have a pool and hot tub you're welcome to use.” He was trying to make it sound like a vacation because for some reason the conscience that didn't work when killing people, worked with her.
“Too bad I don't have a swimsuit,” she quipped.
“If you packed one, you have one. I put your luggage in the backseat.”
It was two in the morning when they finally reached their destination. Angel's house was located in the middle of nowhere with a huge empty expanse of lawn surrounding the place–an intentional design feature so no one could sneak up on the property from any direction. Beyond that, the house was surrounded by thick rows of trees, keeping it well-hidden from the outside world.
He had a security perimeter that extended to the trees so he'd get a very early warning if anyone set foot on the property, and there were cameras everywhere both indoors and out.
It was a huge Tudor-style mansion that looked like a fairy-tale on performance-enhancing drugs.
Angel parked the SUV and took Astrid's bags in the house. Then he returned for her, carrying her carefully inside. He set her on a chair beside the entryway, locked the door, and input the security code. He set the system so it wouldn't notify the outside world if it was tripped.
He retrieved a knife from his pocket, and immediately she recoiled.
“Oh, right. I'm such a psycho I want to cut you up. I could wait all night to do it but I can't manage to remove you from the front entry hall with the blond hardwood floor you could bleed all over and destroy.”
When the sarcasm didn't seem to reassure her, he said: “I'm just cutting the ropes off.”
She hesitated another moment, then held out her bound wrists.
“I don't think so. I free your hands first then bend to get your feet and you clock me over the head with something. Feet first.”
Angel cut her legs free, then started on the ropes around her wrists. He stared at the rough ropes wistfully as he cut through them. How he would love to have her bound in a more satisfying scenario, but he doubted Astrid got off on the same things he did.
Then why is she even here?
He thought men like Joey Callazaro deserved to die. And yet, what scenario was he setting up in his own home? It didn't spring from heroism. Nor was he truly afraid she'd talk to the police and compromise him.
Was it somehow better that he wouldn't sell or share her? That he would give her pleasure and make her love everything he did to her? That he wouldn't harvest her organs after the fact? Yeah, a real hero.
Angel shook those thoughts out of his head. No. Somehow she would come to him. He could introduce her slowly to the things he wanted. When he'd been chasing her down in her neighborhood a few short hours before, he'd convinced himself he just wanted to keep her quiet, tie up loose ends. Don't leave any witnesses.
But the growing discomfort in his pants as he'd chased her told a different story. He'd never done something this impulsive and crazy. He still didn't know what the fuck he was doing or what he was prepared to do... to have her.
The night had taken an odd turn. He needed time and space to think.
He looked back to find her sitting where he'd left her, watching him warily, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Could she know the things in his mind? Could she see the images that passed through his head of all the things he wanted to do to her... of all the things he wanted to make her beg him for?
“If you open this door, sirens will blare. It won't notify any outside security company or authorities, but it will notify me. And as you know, I'm a strong runner. There are no landline phones on the premises, and my computers are all locked down with passwords. Basically there is no way for you to call the outside world for help. I keep a cell phone on me. Burner phones, that I change out with each job. My phone is always on me physically, and I'm a very light sleeper. I have no desire to harm you, but you aren't going anywhere until I decide. Do you understand all of this?”
She was looking down at her hands now, staring at those lovely light pink rope burns. The ropes had been so rough that they'd chafed her skin even without a struggle.
“Yes,” she said meekly. He tried not to let this obvious sign of abuse affect him. The more time he spent with her the worse he knew things had been for her.
“Good. Let's eat. I've got a whole leftover pizza. You like pizza?”
He hated these tentative one-word answers.What do you expect? You kidnapped her!But really, how else was he supposed to meet someone? It's not like he could just 'date'. Too much of his life had to be kept secret. This girl already knew he was a killer. Wasn't that some sort of weird social progress?
He was tired of paying strangers to meet his needs. As if Astrid would volunteer to do it for free.