By Cassie Black
Also by Cassie Black:
The Wild Gene
Copyright 2013 by Cassie Black
"First I'll tell you what I'm not going to do to you," said the man sitting opposite Jo with a faint smile, though his grey eyes under his dark brows were deadly serious. Still, from his tone you would think he was discussing the weather. Jo said nothing, just watched his face for signs of hesitation, anything that would make this whole situation less threatening. It was a pointless exercise she knew. Everything that had led up to this moment, here, implied a very real threat.
They were sitting in a penthouse apartment. His, apparently. It was all modern furniture and white walls and technology. It even had an automated door that had been set to open at 08h00 tomorrow, and not a second sooner, she'd been informed. Until then she was trapped here, in this stark apartment, with this calm maniac sitting opposite her across this excessively polished wooden floor.
It had taken her a few minutes to realise the gravity of what had happened earlier that evening when she had woken up lying on a couch shaped like an enormous black bean. Her head had throbbed and she had felt nauseated and disorientated. An after effect of the drugs she had been fed by the woman who had brought her a coffee as she had sat waiting for her taxi to arrive, she assumed. She had endured a dull and interminable business meeting that her boss had insisted she attend at Medor Holdings this morning, and she was supremely grateful that it was over. A bunch of overweight old men discussing the remote possibility of a merger ad nauseam. As if they could do anything about it if Medor decided to take over the company. Ha, that thought was laughable.
She drank the strong bitter coffee, and climbed into her taxi when it arrived, and that was all she remembered until she had woken up in this apartment. The maniac had been watching her sleep from an armchair, and when she woke and sat up, her head swimming, he had explained things to her.
This apartment is soundproofed, he had said. The window glass is unbreakable. The door is steel lined and locked until 08h00 tomorrow. He had watched her reactions. Incredulity initially. Then confusion. Finally a deep unease.
"Why?" she had asked.
"No means no, dickhead," he said obscurely, but she had understood immediately. That goddamn video of her had become an internet sensation almost overnight. Jo had never understood why someone would record what was intended to be a sexual assault, and then when it turned out to be something completely different, post it on the internet. It was madness.
She had watched the video a couple of times, seen the man approach her from behind as she walked down a street. He'd grabbed her by her hair and shoved her up against a brick wall. She'd seen her expression change from surprise to anger as he had pressed his body against hers, grinding his hips suggestively against her backside. She'd used her hands to push herself off the wall in one violent and unexpected movement, and had used the momentum this generated to swing around and smash his nose against his face with her elbow. Blood had spattered everywhere, some had even landed on the camera lens. Seriously, you couldn't make this up.
Her assailant had collapsed to the floor, clutching his battered nose, and she had tilted her head and eyed him coldly.
"No means no, dickhead," she had said flatly.
And that was it. Jo had never understood why it had become so popular. Gone viral, was the term, apparently. She had read a few of the comments posted by random strangers who had detailed exactly what they wanted to do to her. Some of them were pretty inventive, but nothing like this. No, this was in a league of its own.
"I'm not going to hit you," the man opposite her continued as if reciting from a list. "I'm not going to tear you or make you bleed. " He paused. "I'm not going to record this in any way."
"That's reassuring," she said sarcastically.
"It should be," he said expressionlessly, his eyes watching her steadily.
"I'm not going to use a condom," he continued. "Ordinarily, I would. But I want to feel your wetness on my cock tonight. I want you to smell like you've been fucked when you walk out of that door in the morning. I want to see my semen running down your legs."
Jo stared at him. She couldn't understand why this man, who was admittedly painfully good-looking and well spoken and affluent, would go to such lengths to do something like this. From the looks of things he could have any woman he wanted, any time. It made no sense at all. Another thing that was making no sense was her body's reaction to his words.
"Why are you doing this?" she asked, shifting her position on the couch.
He said nothing, just gazed at her.
"I'll go to the police," she told him, trying another tack. That was a big fat lie. She knew several of the police officers in the city, and had no reason to trust them. Especially since they had wanted to press charges against her for assault after that stupid video.
"I wouldn't recommend that," he said calmly. "There are several witnesses who will testify that we dined together tonight, and that you came up to my apartment willingly. Very willingly. I have the means to buy the best lawyers, most of the police in this city, and the occasional judge. You would fail. Spectacularly."
She said nothing. It was hard to refute that.
"I should tell you now what I am going to do, but I expect that you have a reasonable idea of my intentions. Apart from one thing I feel I should mention. I will make you climax, over and over, whether you want to or not. I have a certain skill in that area which you will learn to appreciate, one way or another."
"What is the time?" Jo asked then, trying to ignore everything that smooth, cultured voice had just said, and the rising excitement in the lower half of her body.
"Nine thirty pm," he said as he stood. "I would offer you a drink, but I want you to be fully conscious of everything I am about to do to you."
"Wait," she said, holding her hand up, palm outwards toward him. She needed to think this through.
Jo eyed him from her position on the bean couch. He was tall, with broad shoulders, and he appeared to be in excellent shape. Expensive gym, probably. His mouth curved in a sardonic half smile as he watched her register his size.
He's big, she thought. Too big for me to be able to stop him from doing what he's going to do. I could get a few lucky blows in, but none that would really hurt, none that could do any actual damage.
He's really very good-looking. Black eyebrows and eyelashes that framed those clear grey eyes. Thick black hair. Slightly beaked nose. Generous mouth. In any other scenario she would be only too eager to screw this man. But in this one he had removed her choice, made her a helpless victim.
She tilted her head to one side, and considered him as she wondered how to eradicate that helpless feeling. It was one that she was unfamiliar with, and she didn't like it at all. Her incisive mind had earned her one of the top spots in her company, and she used it now to deconstruct and analyse this rather unique situation.
The helplessness originated from the absence of choice. Had she chosen, she would very much have enjoyed the activities that this man promised. This may not have been every woman's fantasy, but it could easily have been designed specifically for her. And then she saw the solution to this dilemma.
She would choose. She would choose to participate in this, instead of having it inflicted on her. She would hurt him if she could, and she would fight him off as best she could, because that was part of the game she was designing in her mind, but she would enjoy fucking this man.
She grinned at him, and lowered her hand.
"Bring it on, dickhead," she said flatly.
Jo had walked out of that automated door at 08h15 the following morning. Fifteen minutes and a whole night too late. Her legs had been unsteady, and her body had ached, and, yes, she had definitely smelled like she had been fucked. But she had survived the whole experience, and thanks to some innovative thinking, she had been able to feel like less of a victim than the situation had dictated. Especially when she had managed to give him a black eye. And that bite on his shoulder had bled quite a lot and might get nice and infected. One could only hope.
He had been gone when the alarm had gone off at eight, and she had spent some time trying to find all her clothes, and make herself look vaguely presentable.
She had ridden the lifts down to the ground floor, and walked across the familiar polished marble to the glass doors of the Medor building. That was a surprise. But what was even more surprising was how the woman who had brought her coffee yesterday approached her cautiously, offering to order a car to take her home. Jo looked at her through narrowed eyes, noting the guilt under the professional facade.
"Fuck off, bitch," she said in a low voice and walked straight past the woman and through the massive glass revolving door and into the weak sunshine outside. She hesitated on the pavement for a few seconds, wondering how she was going to get home. Her bag with her mobile phone and purse had disappeared somewhere between her taxi ride and waking up in a sealed apartment with a nutcase. She stood frowning in yesterday's work clothes, crumpled and dishevelled, as a sleek dark car pulled up in front of her. A man in a chauffer's uniform climbed out of the driver's seat, and unlocked the back door of the car, holding it open invitingly. Jo looked around her, puzzled, for the person for whom this lift was intended. There was no one else around, so she looked back at the chauffeur, who was staring straight at her. He indicated with an inclination of his head that she should climb in the back seat. She raised her eyebrows sceptically, and then she turned and started walking in the general direction of her apartment. It would take her at least half an hour to get home, and her shoes were designed more for appearance than actual walking, but she had developed a deep distrust of taxis and chauffeured cars of any description.
She was just wondering how she was going to get into her apartment when the sleek car pulled up alongside her, driving slowly enough to keep pace with her. The front passenger window was down, and a voice called out from the interior.
"Miss, please. Let me take you home. The boss is going to go mental if I don't."
Ha, if only he knew. His boss was already about as mental as they got, she thought sourly. He'd broken through the insanity barrier and was accelerating out the other end.
"No thanks," she said shortly as she continued walking.
"Please miss," the voice became a bit more frantic. "I have your stuff here."
Jo stopped walking then, and rounded on the car in fury.
"What?" she demanded angrily. "Where the hell did you get it?"
"The taxi driver, miss, he handed it in when you passed out in the back of his car. The boss said I was to drive you home and make sure you got your handbag."
Jo considered this. "Fine," she capitulated, her feet already aching. "Take me home."
The chauffeur hopped out of the car, and opened the door for her, closing it behind her as she collapsed in an exhausted heap on the luxurious leather seat. The chauffeur handed her her bag, and slid into the front seat, pulling off smoothly into the sparse traffic. Saturday morning, she recalled. Well, at least she wouldn't have to worry about being late for work.
The drive home took all of five minutes, and was accomplished in silence. She opened the door and climbed out of the car, gave the chauffeur a brief wave, and walked into the lobby of her apartment building.
She sighed with relief as she unlocked her apartment and stepped inside, kicking off her shoes. She stripped off all her clothes and left them lying in an untidy heap in the bathroom, and she stepped under a blistering hot shower, letting the heat and water massage her aching muscles for a few minutes before she systematically washed every trace of the night from her body. Twice.
Then she stood, her wet hair falling in untidy curls around her shoulders and stared in the mirror, surveying the damage.
She looked tired. There were dark circles under her eyes, which were only emphasised by the creamy pallor of her skin. There were a couple of finger sized bruises on her neck where he had choked her to get her to release the tearing flesh of his shoulder from between her clenched teeth. Her nipples were pink and swollen, and throbbed slightly from all the attention they had received last night. There were more finger shaped bruises circling her wrists, and grazes along the knuckles of her right hand where she had managed to deliver a well timed jab to his left eye. She flexed her fingers experimentally, and decided that there were no fractures. Good.
There were more finger shaped bruises along her inner thighs, and a couple of what looked like bite marks. The tissues between her legs were swollen and red, but not overly painful.
All in all, it could have been a lot worse.
Funny, though, that she'd ended up in the penthouse of Medor Holdings. She had had no idea that anyone had even lived there. She wondered if she should Google it, but decided against it. Knowing the name of her abductor was going to make absolutely no difference to her life at all. The best thing she could do now was to dismiss the whole thing. Or categorise it all as a learning experience. Never drink coffee offered by anyone other than a barista. And no matter what her boss said, the rumblings that had surfaced about a takeover from Medor were nothing but that. There could be no benefit for such a massive pharmaceutical company in taking over a small speculative outfit like theirs, and she knew that it was really all a load of theoretical 'what if' nonsense. So it would be easy to avoid having anything to do with Medor and the crazed man in the penthouse ever again.
It took a couple of weeks for the bruises to go completely. Fortunately there was still a bite in the spring air, so she was able to get away with wearing long sleeved shirts. The bruises on her neck were easily covered with makeup.
She'd gone back to work on Monday as if nothing had happened, and had immersed herself in her current project, which was shaping up to be something that could make her career. She had discovered something that everyone else seemed to have overlooked, and she knew how significant it was, and how it could be used to force the hand of the manufacturer of this particular herbal remedy. She would make them acknowledge the pseudoscience in their manufacturing process, and her company would have to be brought in to fix it all up. It would take a couple of years to sort this mess out. Until then, though, she kept it all quiet, only letting her boss know that she was onto something, but not giving him any details. Mistrust was a big part of this aspect of the pharmaceutical industry.
She was a week or so from the big announcement when her boss suddenly called her into his office on a Friday afternoon. His expression was unusually grave, and Jo wondered if her secret discovery had somehow been unearthed by another company. She sat down opposite him, his big oak desk between them, and waited for him to spit it out.
"Joanna," he said. He was one of the few people who used her full name, and she had eventually come to like it.
"Robert," she reciprocated, smiling at him. "What have I done?"
"Nothing, nothing at all," her boss said, looking upset and guilty at the same time. Jo regarded him with suspicion. Robert Lincoln was a decent enough man to work for, but he was not as morally strong as he probably should have been. He had participated in a few dodgy deals before he'd formed this company ten years ago. She'd done her research before joining it three years ago, noting that he'd kept his nose clean since forming his own company. Which was why she'd agreed to come on board for a couple of years. The work had been stimulating and enjoyable, and she'd signed a new contract eighteen months ago. She was tied to this company for another six months, and as she watched Robert's face, she wondered if she'd made a mistake. His next words confirmed her suspicion.
"Joanna. I've been approached by another company. They want to take over your contract. And they've threatened a hostile takeover if we refuse. The board met last week and decided to let you go." I sat stunned for a few seconds while the meaning of his words sunk in.
"What? Is that even legal?"
"Surprisingly, yes. The paperwork will be finalised later today. They want you to start on Monday next week."
"And I don't have a choice in the matter?"
"Sorry, Joanna." She assumed that meant that no, she did not have a choice. She had been headhunted before, but not like this. This was brutal.
"Which company?" she asked, suddenly suspicious. This did not feel right, somehow. Normal people didn't do business this way.
"Medor," her boss said, and she felt nausea rising in her throat. She couldn't do this, they couldn't make her. She debated pleading with Robert to stop this, but she could see that his face had shut down. This was a done deal, and she'd never been the pleading type anyway. Her heart beat uncomfortably loudly in her throat as she contemplated the ramifications of this forced move. And just like that the fear that had been building inside her turned to anger. She could do six months. She would be the shittest employee they'd ever had. And then she would leave this god-awful business and go back to university and put her degree in biochemistry to good use. She stood up resolutely.
"Joanna," Robert spoke almost pleadingly. "About that development you were working on, could you let me have the details before you leave?"
She looked at the man who had just basically sold her to save his company, asking for her help to make that same company more money. She thought fleetingly of a reference, and decided she'd never need one badly enough to give him her work under these circumstances. No way.
"Fuck you, Bob," she said, and she walked out of his office.
Jo had gone straight to her desk and had cleaned it out. She'd deleted all her emails and personal stuff off her desktop computer. Some computer geek could probably retrieve it all, but there was nothing there that Bob could use to discover her secret breakthrough. She'd kept each and every one of those details in her head, and it look like that's where they would be staying.
She walked out of her office, her few personal belongings from her office tucked in her bag, waving a brief goodbye to a couple of the office staff. They looked puzzled. Oh, well, Bob was sure to explain the situation to them, no doubt putting a positive spin on his own actions. She was still fuming when she walked out of the front door of the office block, so she almost didn't see the same chauffeur who'd driven her home last month standing by the open door of his sleek black car. The coffee woman stood leaning against the front of the car. Jo frowned at both of them.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me," she said, coming to an abrupt halt on the pavement. Seriously, she was starting to develop a real potty mouth. Maybe she had PMS. Or maybe this whole situation was just nightmarish enough to deserve the foul language.
"We need to go over some paperwork," the woman said apologetically. "There are a few documents that need to be signed."
"So sign them," Jo told her. "You obviously don't need my permission to do any of what you've just done."
"I was supposed to take you to see your new office this afternoon. You'll like it. The views are stunning."
Jo just stared at her open mouthed for a few moments before turning and walking away from them and the madness they represented. She would deal with that on Monday. Tonight she was going to drink a couple of glasses of wine and call a friend who specialised in employment law. With any luck he'd be able to get her out of this. She thought longingly of the family farm she'd grew up on and her parents and younger brothers. She'd Skype them tonight too, and listen to their accounts of all the crazy things that had happened in the week since she'd last spoken to them, and she would live vicariously, and for a while none of this would matter at all.
She was at outside the Medor building at five to eight on Monday morning. Her discussion with her lawyer friend had been frustratingly unfruitful, and he had pointed out that if she refused to show up on Monday she would be in breach of contract, and she could be sued for everything she had. She'd contemplated doing that anyway, but decided against it when she realised that a substantial part of her portfolio was invested in her family's farm. That was something she could never risk. Ever.
So she'd dressed in one of her business suits and taken a taxi to Medor early Monday morning. The coffee woman met her at the front door and wordlessly escorted her to a spacious office on the eighth floor. It was expensively furnished, and had a top of the range computer sitting in the centre of the large desk that dominated the room.
"Jerry will be along shortly to explain everything to you. He's the head of procurement, and you will be working mostly with him over the next few months. He's working on a couple of really exciting projects." Coffee woman's voice was cheerful. It was almost as if the events of four or five weeks ago had never happened. Jo stood looking out of the glass at the spectacular view, and feeling faint. She zoned coffee woman's voice out and went to sit on one of the chairs in front of the desk and put her head between her legs. She breathed deeply for a minute or so, and felt the light-headedness subside. When she sat up again, coffee woman had disappeared, and a middle aged man with sandy hair stood in the doorway, frowning with concern.
"Are you OK?" he asked.
"I'm fine, thank you" Jo told him.
"I'm Jerry," he introduced himself, smiling. "You must be Joanna. We will be working together for a couple of months, and Lucas wanted me to come and introduce myself this morning so we could crack on with a new project that's just come up. We've all been very impressed with your work at Lincoln Logistics, and I think this one will be perfect for you."
It was hard not to respond to his friendliness, and Jo smiled back.
"Hi Jerry," she said, as the oppression she'd been feeling the whole weekend lifted slightly.
She spent most of the day with Jerry, going through the company's computer systems. Jerry turned out to be a pleasure to work with, friendly and intelligent and intuitive. He almost knew what she was going to ask him before she did. And the project he wanted her to take on seemed fascinating. By the end of the day her misgivings had almost subsided, and she was contemplating coming back tomorrow with the beginnings of enthusiasm.
The following morning she woke up feeling tired, but put that down to not getting enough sleep. She'd been up until late reading online about the experimental drug that the company was thinking of purchasing. It was in a field of its own - a type of antibiotic that enhanced the body's own defence mechanisms. It would render most other kinds obsolete. Initial trials had been promising, but there were some concerns about it's efficacy in patients with certain underlying conditions, such as diabetes. It would be Jo's job to trawl through all the trial data, and assist management in the decision to invest or not.
The rest of the week passed uneventfully. She had developed a routine early on - taxi to work, cup of tea - for some reason she'd gone off coffee - and a couple of hours of research. Then she'd present her findings to Jerry and they'd discuss them for an hour or two, and then she'd be back at her desk for the last couple of hours before taking another taxi home. The only blip in this had occurred on Friday afternoon, when she'd gone for a mandatory occupational health physical. She'd had her blood pressure checked and peed in a jar, and had a few blood tests, and an ECG, and then she'd been allowed to get back to her project. It had been too late to do much, so she'd given up after a few minutes and headed home. As she stepped out of that glass revolving door she'd been confronted by the sight of the chauffeur leaning against his car, back door open. She'd smiled at his now familiar face, and stepped forward to hail a taxi.
"I'm supposed to take you home, miss," the chauffeur said politely. "The boss told me this afternoon that this is something I am going to have to do every day now. And I'm supposed to fetch you on Monday morning."
"He didn't say, miss. But he is going to be seriously pissed if I don't do it, if you'll excuse the language."
"Excused. Who is this boss of yours anyway?" Jo had found out that the CEO and majority owner of Medor was one Lucas Cross, and she wanted to know if this was the man who had drugged and assaulted her all those nights ago. There was no shying away from information like that now. There was no point. She would have to know eventually, since there was no way that she would be able to continue to avoid him. She had yet to see any photos of him at work, and she had persistently avoided Googling him. But this was getting weirder than ever, and if this man's boss turned out to be Lucas Cross, she could logically deduce the identity of her assailant.
"It's Mr Cross, miss, and he doesn't like to be crossed if you'll excuse the pun."
"Excused," Jo said again, almost absentmindedly. Oh, well. Made no difference to her now really, knowing that. She looked at the face in front of her, and nodded. There was no good reason not to accept a daily lift from this very likeable man, especially if her refusal would get him into trouble. Six months and she was out of here. Actually, it was closer to five, she thought. She would look at enrolling again at her old university tonight. Maybe she'd do medicine this time, like her parents had wanted her to do in the first place. That would be a challenge that she could really sink her teeth into. She smiled to herself in the back of the car as it wound through the late afternoon traffic.
She spent the weekend sleeping and cleaning her apartment and sleeping some more. It was a relief to be able to kick back and relax after the stresses of the past two weeks. She read a novel she'd been meaning to get to. It was pure fiction and escapism, but sometimes that's all a book should be. And it was great.
She chatted for ages with her mom about potential courses at the university. Her mother was a lecturer in physiology, but had a pretty good handle on most of the health sciences courses. When she mentioned maybe enrolling for medicine, she swore she could hear her mother's shriek outside from four hundred miles away. Someone seemed pleased.
Monday morning she dragged herself out of bed, and showered and dressed for work. The doorbell rang at exactly seven thirty, and she went to answer it, expecting the chauffeur. Instead, the coffee woman stood there, looking nervous.
"I've been sent to fetch you. The car will take us straight to work. Mr Cross wants to speak to you as soon as you get in." And there went the peace she'd cultivated so carefully that weekend. She contemplated turning and walking straight back into her apartment and locking the door behind her, but with her luck that would bring only a temporary reprieve. No, best to face this situation head on, and not eat or drink anything offered by anyone this morning.
"I'll get my coat," Jo told her, and then she followed her down a few flights of stairs and outside. The sleek black car was idling out front, the chauffeur ensconced in the driver's seat. Jo climbed into the back and motioned for coffee woman to sit in front. She didn't trust her, and wanted her to keep her distance.
The drive to Medor headquarters was uneventful, and far too short for Jo's taste.
"Where is Mr Cross?" she asked coffee woman.
"In his office," was the reply, followed by a puzzled glance.
"And that's nowhere near the penthouse apartment?"
"No, it's on the floor above yours."
Jo said nothing, and followed the woman into the lift. Her heart was beating faster as they rose, and she started feeling nauseated. Must be nerves, she thought. I can't believe I'm having to do this.
She followed coffee woman down a long carpeted corridor, her feet sinking slightly into its plushness. Eventually it opened onto a large reception area. A receptionist sat at a large desk in the corner, and looked up as they approached, and gave them a big friendly smile. She stood and led Jo to a wooden door behind her and tapped on it, opening it wide. Jo stood for a moment, feeling more sick than ever, and then she shrugged and stepped into the doorway. The receptionist closed the door behind her.
"Come in and sit down," the grey eyed man said from behind his desk. Jo's eyes narrowed as her suspicions were confirmed. This was the same man who had held her down and fucked her in his locked penthouse apartment. The nausea subsided in the face of her anger.
"Thanks, I'll stand," she said firmly.
"I'm not going to attack you," he said sardonically.
"Really." It wasn't a question. She stood where she was.
"When were you going to tell me?"
Jo frowned, mystified by this question. Did he mean the breakthrough she'd had when she worked at Lincoln Logistics? How could he know about that?
"Tell you what?"
"About your pregnancy."
"What?" Jesus, this guy was a serious fruitcake. There was no way she was pregnant. She'd spent an agonising two years trying to have a child with a previous boyfriend. He'd had himself tested, and was told his swimmers were just fine, so they'd assumed it was Jo that had fertility issues. They'd broken up shortly after that, so she'd never had it investigated. What for?
"You didn't know?" he asked, frowning at her.
"I'm not pregnant," she said, nice and slowly so his demented mind could grasp the words and their meaning.
"Your blood tests say otherwise. You HCG levels have risen to about 15000 already, so you're about six weeks pregnant. I spoke with a local obstetrician on Friday afternoon."
"They must have mixed the blood samples up."
"You were the only one in occupational health on Friday. Your urine tested positive too."
"How would you know that?" she asked, her voice rising slightly as she tried to wrap her mind around what he was telling her. This couldn't be right. And what was the nurse in occupational health doing phoning the results through to him?
"I asked them to run the test. Lisa said you looked a bit unwell on Monday, and hadn't touched your coffee. It was a reasonable assumption."
"No it wasn't!" she yelled at him. "I haven't been drinking coffee here because the last time I did I woke up in your fucking apartment! And I feel unwell because I have been forced to come and work here in this goddamn building, and the stress of wondering when I'm going to run into you is getting me down. And now I see that that anxiety was warranted, you fucking freak!" Jo turned abruptly then and went to open the door to storm out of that office and that building. They could sue her for everything she owned, she didn't care. She just had to get away from this man.
The door was locked. She rattled the handle in frustration.
"You've got to be fucking kidding me!" she said, thinking as she did that she would have to stop saying that. Maybe when she got away from this madness she would make a promise to herself never to say it again.
"You really should sit down," the voice said calmly from across the desk. "We have a lot we need to discuss."
Tears of frustration welled up in her eyes and she leaned her forehead against the door. It was too much. She had tried so hard to let it go, but now she was locked in a room with him again, and she was afraid. She was so very afraid that he was never going to let her get on with her life, far away from him and his craziness. So she stood like that for a few minutes, letting the tears roll down her cheeks, hoping that he'd relent and unlock the door and let her go.
"I can't let you go," he said softly. "You've been all I could think about ever since a friend showed me that video on YouTube." Jo said nothing, just banged her head gently on the door, willing it to open.
"I thought that having you that night would cure me, but it hasn't. If anything, fucking you has only made my obsession worse. And now I find out that you're pregnant with my child. Jesus. I've been going crazy this weekend wondering if you were going to have a termination."
Jo turned wearily to face him. "Please let me go. You're sick. You need help."
"I've never felt this way about anything or anyone. Ever. I don't have an obsessive personality."
"Clearly," she said dryly.
He smiled gently at her.
"Please sit, Jo. I would like to make things right between us, and I can only do that if you give me a chance."
"You don't understand," she spoke calmly now, trying to make him see reason. "I hate you. You drugged me and abducted me and raped me, and I hate you. That will never change. Whether I keep this baby or not has nothing to do with you at all. In fact, the likelihood of you continuing to stalk me rises if I decide to keep it, so I probably will have a termination, just to get rid of you. Even though it goes against everything I believe in."
"I can't let you go," he said again, his voice desperate. "Please."
"You've never had to ask for anything, have you? You just take what you want. Like a spoiled little child."
"I'll beg you if I have to, Jo. Please don't leave me. Please don't kill our baby."
Her eyes narrowed as she watched him. "I won't. But only if you promise to let me go right now and stay away from me in future,"Jo told him, knowing that she would never have had a termination anyway.
He drew a ragged breath. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
"I promise, then" he said slowly. "I will stay away from you and not try to control you or your life in any way."
"And now you're going to open this door, and I'm going to walk out of here and you will never see me again."
"Jo," he whispered, his head in his hands.
"You know, you thought you had me trapped that night, and then again when you forced me to come and work here for you. But it's really you who are trapped, by your insane obsession with me. See a doctor and get some medication." She smiled with cold fury.
"Free yourself, dickhead."
Jason Cross was born seven months later. He came into the world, kicking and screaming, seriously pissed about something, as his father laughingly said later. His mother had smiled tiredly at this evidence of her son's robust nature, and looked at the man she had hated so much until a few short months ago. It had been an uphill battle for her to approach their new relationship with anything other than scepticism, but she had persevered, and had been paid off in spades for her efforts. Lucas Cross had changed.
He chuckled as he held his son awkwardly, and he smiled down at Jo. In the intervening months his obsession had transformed into genuine affection, and then love. He'd had to do a lot of begging at first, but when she had realised that he meant to keep his promise to keep his distance, she had gradually let him closer. He'd stopped trying to control her, and she'd responded by becoming friends with him. It was a painfully slow process, but they'd eventually become lovers again. Not the violent, madly passionate type, but something infinitely more gentle. It's pretty hard to be passionate when you're eight months pregnant, Jo had stated, grumbling about swollen ankles and leaking breasts. And she'd had enough violent and passionate sex from this man to last a lifetime.
Well, maybe not an actual lifetime. Maybe just until her body returned to its normal size, and they could find a babysitter. And then, who knew.
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Also by Cassie Black:
The Wild Gene