Taken by the Beast(6)

By: Natasha Knight

When he’d moved into the apartment building a year ago, it had been to keep an eye on her from a distance. Until she met the abusive jerk she’d called a boyfriend. The first time Elijah had interacted with her had been early one morning when she’d been on her way out and someone had bumped into her, knocking her papers to the floor. Elijah still remembered what it had taken to check his anger when the man had just walked by without so much as an apology. Although he’d intended to keep to the background, he’d helped her pick everything up and when he’d handed her her things, the look on her face had made his heart tighten. Her pale blue eyes were reddened, either because she had been crying or was about to cry. She’d looked so young, so innocent, and in need of protection. His protection. He still remembered how she’d had to gasp when his fingertips brushed hers and how her pale face had taken on the slightest blush. From that moment, some part of him had known he wouldn’t be in the background for long. She didn’t belong in that neighborhood or in that building any more than he did, but at least he could take care of himself. Although of average height, she was quite petite. He determined she weighed all of 110 pounds. At least the way she’d tried to stand her ground and pounded on his back while he’d carried her showed she had some fire in her and wouldn’t back down too easily.

“Turn around,” he said.

Her eyes grew wide and she shook her head.

“I want to take your gag off. No one will hear you if you scream here, but you will irritate me if you do it. Turn around unless you want to wear it all night. I don’t normally like to repeat myself.”

She looked at him warily but turned. He gathered her thick, white-blond hair and moved it over her shoulder. Untying the knot carefully so as not to pull any stray strands, he took the gag out of her mouth and slipped it into his pocket. She turned slowly to face him.

“What about my hands?” she asked. At least she hadn’t screamed yet.

“Once we get inside.”

He walked to a rock that looked no different from any of the other rocks, and from beneath it he removed the key to the hut. Unlocking it, he opened the door and gestured for her to go ahead of him. She did, but with caution; there was no electricity to switch on and it was pitch black. Although he could still see well enough in the dark, he imagined she’d be blind.

He closed the door and moved to where he kept candles and matches and lit one. Setting it down, he found several others and lit them as well, illuminating the space in a soft, golden glow. Although he’d taken into consideration she’d be with him when he’d constructed it, the cabin was basic. It was purely to be used in an emergency. For a case just as this. Inside were some food stores, canned goods mostly, and bottled water. There was a long, narrow table set against the wall with a box on top and a mattress supported on crates for a bed with a sleeping bag for a blanket. The cabin had no windows but for the small holes drilled into each of the walls so he could look out, but no one could see in. Although he didn’t need the holes, really. His hearing was more than sufficient.

He rummaged through the box and found the bottle of Advil he kept.

“Does your head still hurt?”

“Yes.” She sounded indignant. “I don’t think bouncing around upside down helped any,” she added. She had a smart mouth. He’d expected her to be more afraid of him. This was better than that, at least. And more fun.

He took out two pills and retrieved a bottle of water. “Open,” he said, holding the pills for her to see.

He could have untied her and knew she was wondering why he hadn’t done that already, but some part of him wanted her helpless.

“Open,” he repeated. “I’ll keep you safe, but you need to learn to obey.”

“Obey?” she asked, both eyebrows raised once again in disbelief. “I don’t need you to keep me safe. Besides, you’re the one who’s kidnapped me.”

“I’ll appreciate a little respect. Open.”

She sealed her lips and shook her head.

He slapped the pills on the counter, making her jump. “All right, let’s get this over with,” he said, dragging her with him toward the bed.