Thursday, March 9, 2017

Tantalizing Thursdays: Prologue and First Chapter of RELENTLESS - Tortured Love 3


Welcome to TANTALIZING THURSDAYS!!!


Today, I give you the Prologue and First Chapter of Tortured Love 3 - RELENTLESS. This book released Tuesday, and you can buy it HERE...

Prologue

April 14, 2007
Spring Bacchanalia at the Alpha Chi Gamma house…


“I don’t want to do this.” Kendra’s voice shook. She no longer felt drunk. Everything was suddenly crystal clear, and she did not want to be here.

“What? Are you fucking kidding me?” The naked football player lying on top of her, whose name she couldn’t recall, was still drunk, but apparently not that drunk. Each time he rubbed his erect penis against her bare skin, Kendra’s fear increased. The making out had been fun, but she’d let it go too far.

“We’ve been fooling around since I carried you off that stage! It’s zero hour, baby. You can’t back out now.”

The last hour or so came back to her in bits and pieces. The auction, the thrill of having this particular man win her, and yes, he had carried her off the stage, while she squealed in delight. But as soon as they’d entered this room, it had been a battle between keeping her clothes on, and keeping her focus. Fuzzy images danced through her head. Her lust had been real, but so had her trepidation.

“Oh baby…” His attempts to fondle her breasts left her feeling cheap and more afraid than she’d been a moment ago. Was this really what she wanted to do tonight? Lose her virginity while still half drunk to a football player at a frat party?

“No…”

“No what? You don’t like that?” He switched from groping them to squeezing them, which hurt. “How about this?”

Everything she’d learned in that assertiveness training class she’d taken in the fall came rushing back, but in slow motion. The information wasn’t much use in that form.

Why had she drunk so much? Why was she even here? She no longer wanted to be an Alpha Chi Gamma Little Sister. It wasn’t an honor as a freshman to be chosen, as she’d been told. It was a nightmare. Kendra only wanted to go back to her dorm and sleep. She wanted to pretend none of this had ever happened.

No!” Now her voice came out hoarse, more of a whisper than a command, because her throat was so dry. He’d interpret that as an invitation. “I don’t want to do this. Get off me!” She tried to push him away, but he outweighed her by at least one hundred pounds. He was going nowhere unless he wanted to.

Why was she suddenly so weak? Was it the alcohol? Had they put something in her drinks? This has seemed like such a fun idea two weeks ago, when she’d first heard about the fraternity’s annual party to induct the Little Sisters.

“You’re such a tiny little thing. Don’t worry. I’ll be careful. Fuck … you’re not a virgin, are you?”

The highlight of the Spring Bacchanalia was the auction, where the frat members and invited male guests bid on the new Little Sisters. It was all in fun. Officially, the fraternities on campus no longer supported the Little Sisters organizations, but most of them had women who were affiliated with the fraternities in a similar fashion regardless.

Even so, the Little Sisters taking part in the auction didn’t really belong to the member who won them. Everyone told her that no one took it seriously. At most, it would be like one of those silly kissing games they had played in middle school. Sure, some people hooked up, but you didn’t have to if you didn’t want to. There was no obligation.

There had also been rumors opposite to those, but she’d dismissed them. Clearly, the latter ones had been closer to the truth.

“I said get off me!” Kendra pushed again with all her strength, but he was a fullback. The largest one on the team. Guilt washed over her. This was her fault. She had let this get out of hand. She shouldn’t have been drinking so much.

“You’re crazy, sweetie. We’re fucking naked already. No way am I stopping. You know you want this.”

The lips that had felt so sexy kissing her earlier now were too wet and loose on her neck, her breasts, and her abdomen. His hands, so damn big, no longer sent chills down her spine as he touched her. The sensation made her want to scream. Her heart raced, and tears leaked out of the corners of her eyes.

“Come on, Kendra. Why are you crying? I bought you. I own you. And now when it’s finally getting fun, you’re done with me?”

“It’s not fun. I don’t want to do this. It’s just a game.”

“A game? Letting me take off your clothes was a game? What are you? Some little prick tease?”

Kendra bit her lip as tears spilled over her lashes. “No. I’m…” It was none of his damn business that she was a virgin. “I don’t want to have sex with you.”

He cupped her face and she flinched, thinking he was going to hurt her, but his grip was gentle. “Come on. Knock it off. The crying’s not funny, okay? You’ve been fine up until now. Are you a virgin, and you’re embarrassed about that? Is that what’s wrong? It’s cool. I don’t mind. I’ve had them before. I’ll be careful.”

Everything he said was all mixed up in her mind with the fear and the guilt. She had let it get to this point, so was it really fair now to say “no”?

Yes. Yes it is fair!

Sure, what they’d learned in class emphasized she could withdraw her consent at any time, but what would happen to her reputation as a Little Sis if she did? No one would trust her again.

Did that matter? She was all mixed up about that, too. These people were supposed to be her friends.

“Stop that.” His mouth slid lower, making a clumsy attempt at licking her pussy. Instead of helping her relax, or turning her on, it felt awkward and painful. “It hurts. Stop!”

“You don’t like that? Okay. I’ll stop.” When he straightened up and wet two fingers by putting them into his mouth, before shoving them into her pussy, she cried out in surprise and fear. “You’re wet enough anyway.”

Before she could say another thing, he tried to push his sheathed cock inside her vagina, but it didn’t work, even with the lubricated condom he’d put on earlier. Either he was too drunk to figure out what he was supposed to be doing, or simply too big for her. She’d never had anything larger than a tampon, and now his damn fingers in there, after all.

Regardless, she didn’t want his dick in there at all. Kendra punched both of his arms at once. “I said no! That hurts! Stop it now and get the hell off me!”

“Fuck. You are a virgin, aren’t you? And a goddamn cock tease. I don’t need this shit.”

The door opened, forcing a gasp from Kendra. She couldn’t fight off one of them, let alone two. Dim light from the hallway illuminated the silhouette of a man, but she didn’t think he was a frat member, although she couldn’t say why. There wasn’t enough light to see his face, but the man on top of her clearly recognized him.

“Hey … where you been? We were just about to finally get down to it.”

“No! Please … please let me out of here. Please!” She was crying hard now, unable to stop. Hot fear raced through her until every inch of her skin felt like someone had dumped fire ants on it.

“You sure, Derek?” Derek. That was his name. “Doesn’t sound like she wants to get down to it.” The man’s voice was deep and smooth, with an unmistakable undertone of humor. Was he laughing at her, or at Derek?

“Nah, she’s just acting scared.” Derek cupped her face again, harder this time. “Right, baby?” The coldness in his voice confused her. Was he afraid of looking foolish in front of this man?

“No. I’m not acting anything. Get off me. Please. I want to leave.” She looked toward the man’s face, praying there was enough light falling on hers so he could see her fear was real.

“Get off her.” The man’s voice was hard now, and his tone left no doubt he expected Derek to obey.

“Who the fuck are you to tell me what to do? You’re only supposed to take the pictures, not play referee.”

Pictures? Oh my God… Kendra swallowed hard against the bile rising up her throat. She’d heard that particular rumor about this annual event, too, but hadn’t wanted to believe it. She hadn’t wanted to believe a lot of things about this fraternity that apparently were true.

As Derek was roughly pulled off her, the light in the hallway caught a glint of metal from a rectangular object in the man’s hand. When the object tumbled onto a dresser, she realized that was no cell phone he’d been holding. It looked more like an expensive, professional camera. What the hell?

Both men yelled at each other, swearing like sailors as they faced off. Kendra didn’t wait around to see whether Derek was hurt, or if the men would get into an actual fight. She rolled off the bed, scooped her clothes and shoes from the floor, and ran.

Chapter One

Ten years later…

The scrapbook where Blake kept the mementoes chronicling Kendra’s life now had one more addition. Tom Lindstrom. “You’re history, Tom.” Kendra had dumped Tom as soon as an anonymous email had been sent to her, along with a YouTube video Blake had dug up, showing Tom at a wedding reception with his wife of five years. A wife he’d likely never told Kendra about.

She had certainly dated some losers during the past ten years. That thought made him chuckle. To be fair, she hadn’t known they were losers until he’d either dug up the dirt they’d tried to keep well-hidden, or manufactured some when he couldn’t find anything. And he hadn’t had to do the latter very often. She certainly knew how to pick them, but all that would change soon. She wouldn’t have to look any longer.

Blake took a long sip of 2012 Roussanne as he carefully pasted the picture he’d taken from the video into its spot. Using his Visconti Ripple H.R.H. fountain pen, he wrote in a meticulous hand next to the picture. Each entry in this book included the same information. The man’s name, the dates Kendra had been involved with him, and the date on which she’d dumped his sorry ass.

It was amazing how much information one could find on social media, and by hanging out in the cafeteria at the hospital where she worked. Always in disguise, of course. He was far too recognizable in person to take a risk like that, even for Kendra.

No one was good enough for Kendra Kensington. No one.

“No one but me.” He’d tied up all the loose ends in his life. Now it was time to make his move toward gaining her trust in person. That would take a while, especially for a girl who had been hurt as many times as she had. But she was worth the wait.

There. He surveyed the picture and the script written next to it. All done. Tom was now officially part of Kendra’s sad history. “Bye-bye, Tom.” Blake raised his glass. “I drink to your future without Kendra.”

After draining his glass, Blake replaced the fountain pen in its signature box, admiring it as he always did each time he used it. It had been ridiculously expensive, purchased at a time in his life when he’d been happy to spend as much of his money as he could, so Tracie couldn’t do it for him during their bitter, seven-year-long divorce.

His ex-wife had tried every trick in the book to get her hands on the money he’d inherited before they married, but in the end, all she got was the same thing she had brought into the relationship. Her family’s name, her family’s fortune, and her insanely large trust fund. Blake hadn’t taken a penny of her money. He’d never wanted it.

And now, it hardly mattered. He had scads of money that he had earned on his own since those dark days, and Tracie could never touch that, either. Blake would use it to spoil Kendra rotten for the rest of his life. She deserved it. She, too, had paid her dues. She’d earned the right to dress in the finest clothes, eat at the most expensive restaurants, and spend fifty-seven thousand dollars on one fountain pen, if that’s what she wanted. There wasn’t anything he’d deny his Kendra.

Ten years ago, the haunted, terrified expression in her big blue eyes, barely visible from the light that spilled into the room, had touched his soul. He’d been a changed man from that moment on. Blake could still hear her voice in his head, pleading for that pig of a frat boy to get off her.

Unfortunately for his Kendra, her torture hadn’t ended there.

As she tried to get the officials at the university and at the national chapter of Alpha Chi Gamma to listen to her story, he’d watched from the sidelines as both governing bodies swept the incident under the rug. When Kendra threatened to go to the media, she was threatened with academic discipline.

Because her mother was ill all the time by then, Blake believed she didn’t have the money or the resources to fight any of it, so she’d simply let it go. He had watched, helpless, as she missed two months of school during her junior year after her mother passed away, and he’d been there when the men she dated had turned out to be after one thing only.

Dubbed a cock tease after the Spring Bacchanalia incident by Derek, the asshole football player, Kendra had been pursued on purpose by stupid boys who thought they could score points with their friends by being the one to finally get into her pants. She wasn’t aware at first there was a bet going on in the background. Not until Blake sent her an anonymous note with names.

As soon as he found out, Blake had gone to Derek, who was a junior in college at the time. But he was also a star football player, and Blake’s attempts to get him to stop spreading the story and issuing challenges to every jock and frat boy on campus to win the bet proved futile.

The little shit had threatened him. Actually fucking threatened him with bodily harm and with exposure, which Blake had realized would be worse than getting into a fight with the jock. He’d have been able to beat the shit out of Derek at the time, but it wouldn’t have been worth it. His budding career would be ruined before it got started, and it would add more fuel to the fire for Tracie and her team of attorneys.

Instead, he concentrated on taking care of a few of Derek’s friends, quietly in the background, and without Kendra’s or Derek’s knowledge, of course. The rest of them became afraid and finally stopped harassing Kendra, but it still hadn’t been enough. It hadn’t reversed the harm done to Kendra’s self-esteem.

She had quit the Little Sisters of Alpha Chi Gamma, and most of the sorority bitches on campus had never let her forget that. By the time she graduated, she had stopped dating completely, even when young men who had never heard of Alpha Chi Gamma or the Spring Bacchanalia her freshman year asked her out. She also had very few female friends.

His beautiful Kendra had become so scarred from that one incident and the aftermath, that Blake had trouble holding back. But it hadn’t been time make his move. Not until he completely erased what he’d done for eight years.

At least Derek was permanently out of the picture, though that hadn’t been Blake’s doing. He’d died at the age of twenty-five when he drove his fancy sports car over a bridge while blind, stinking drunk. Karma is a bitch, and she carries a big stick.

The wine glass was empty. Blake sighed as he stared at it. Now, finally, it was time to make his move. He’d done all he could do to avenge the past and change his life. Soon, Kendra would be his.

The wine bottle wasn’t close enough to reach, so as he rose to retrieve it, he also grabbed the remote to turn up the stereo volume. He loved this piece, and this opera. The Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, by Pietro Mascagni. One day, he’d take Kendra to Italy to see it performed.

After his glass had been refilled, he allowed himself the luxury of flipping through the scrapbook. So many losers, each of them all wrong for her. He would help her see that. Every time he thought about the pain he’d spared her ten years ago, he almost felt magnanimous. When the guilt didn’t consume him, that was.

Ten years hadn’t diminished that guilt. All the work he had put into tracking down the pictures he’d taken during the aftermath of eight years’ worth of Spring Bacchanalias and other frat parties. And the money … oh the money he’d spent to get those pictures back and pay off his frat brothers never to speak of it again.

Kendra was worth ten times what he’d spent. She was worth the hours of work he’d put into keeping her safe from the wrong men. Even so, none of that—the money, the time, and the effort—had eased his guilt. Not completely. He’d spend the rest of his life making up for what he used to be and what he used to do.

But, at least one day, he’d do so with Kendra by his side. And she’d never have to know how instrumental she’d been in changing him. He would keep that little tidbit to himself. Safe, secret, and deep in his soul, where it belonged.

****

“There’s a new book out on diabetes research.” Kendra slid the piece of paper across the counter toward the gum-cracking young woman. “It was written by two former UW students. A copy should be here by now. Can you please check and see if you have it?”

The girl couldn’t be older than a sophomore, if even that. Her messy hairstyle and trendy clothes briefly reminded Kendra of herself, ten years earlier. But she pushed the memories away before her mind went too deeply into her freshman year at UW. She was here for the book, nothing more.

She’d have gladly read the copy they had acquired at work if it hadn’t already disappeared last week. Gotta love her coworkers and their inability to read the sticker on a book that read, in big bold letters, Diabetic Education Resource – Do Not Remove From Office.

The young woman clicked around her keyboard, frowning, while Kendra mentally ticked off all the things she needed to accomplish today. Anything to distract her from the sound of that popping gum. It was a long list. She normally took one day a week to run errands of this kind, always work-related, but this had been a busy month so she hadn’t had time to take an errand day in three weeks.

“It’s here. We have two copies.”

“Fabulous.” She didn’t need to ask where it would be, but the woman printed the location for Kendra anyway. As she smiled and held out the piece of paper, she cracked her gum again, but that was not what drew Kendra’s attention this time. It was the silver and maroon Alpha Phi ring the girl sported.

“Pretty, isn’t it?” She must have noticed Kendra staring at it. “Alpha Phi. Were you in a sorority?”

Sweat broke out along Kendra’s hairline, and breathing was suddenly difficult. “What? Um … no. No, I wasn’t in one.”

Ten years later, it was still difficult to think about anything having to do with Greek life on campus. “I’m sorry. I have to go.”

Which raised the question of why she kept coming here for books when she couldn’t find them at work. “Thank you for your help.”

Because it’s convenient and you know the library inside and out?

Yes. That was the reason. But were moments like this worth it?

“Are you all right?” The young woman sounded very concerned, and that finally snapped Kendra back to the present.

“Yes.” Kendra took the paper from her hand, a bit more forceful than necessary. “Thank you for your help.”

You already said that to her.

Instead of heading for the stacks, she slipped into the bathroom and walked down the length of stalls. She entered the last one, closed and locked the door, and perched on the edge of the toilet seat.

“You’re okay,” she whispered, closing her eyes. She had a host of visualization techniques at her disposal, courtesy of years of counseling. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they were fucking useless.

Today, they worked. She was grateful no one came in before she felt composed enough to leave the stall, splash some cool water on her neck, and walk back out into the library. Time to find the book, check it out, and get on with her day.

****

There she is…

How does one go about arranging to meet the person they’ve been stalking for ten years, but not have it freak them out or leave them suspicious? There aren’t books to consult on the subject. Any advice one might find on the Internet would likely trigger being placed on a Department of Homeland Security or FBI watch list.

Blake had spent years planning this moment. He knew Kendra’s routine inside and out, although she hadn’t come to the library during the past few weeks as often as she sometimes did. Every piece of information available online about her had been memorized a long time ago. Each scrap of her life that he’d tracked was catalogued and filed away in that scrapbook.

Since he knew everything about the incident ten years ago, he was in the best position to help her deal with the pain from those memories. The fact that he was pond scum for having been there in the first place was something he still dealt with, even though that part of his life had died that night. And he’d never once been tempted to return to it.

These days, he trained his many cameras on entirely different subjects, mostly inanimate. Except for Kendra. He’d taken scores of pictures of her. Surely, such a change in one’s life counted for something. Certainly he’d erased the bad deeds with good by now. All the men he’d saved Kendra from being hurt by had surely earned him karma points. If those weren’t considered good deeds, what the hell was?

The culmination of everything he wanted would be the moment she saw him as he was now. Successful, well-known, never without a camera in his hand. He would be her prince on the white horse. Or perhaps in a white car. He’d become the man she knew was out there, but hadn’t yet found.

The person she’d briefly glimpsed that night in the Alpha Chi Gamma frat house ten years ago no longer existed, and the reason he no longer did was because of her. Because of her beautiful face and those haunted, pleading eyes. She had set him on this path. This better path. This redemptive path. That was the man Kendra would soon know.

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