SNEAK PEEK - DECEMBER 29, 2017
Mornings were never my strong suit. A creature of the night minus the magical powers, fangs, and blood drinking, I was as dangerous as any other mythical beast feared by humanity, as well as revered by those who wished they could control the world around them as much as I did.
I had aspirations to take charge, the intelligence to make it happen, and the lack of heart that was necessary for the games I played.
It was late night, or early morning I guess I should say, when my computer pinged with an incoming message, the sun outside my windows not yet lighting the horizon. Beside me, a woman I barely knew was drifting off into sleep, her face angelic, her alabaster skin unmarred by anything other than the marks I’d left on her. She had been a distraction, but nothing more, a moment of downtime between the sinful fantasies I helped bring to life.
Rolling off the bed, I padded barefoot across rugs that cost more than they were worth. Stepping up to the bar that sat in a corner of my living room, I poured a scotch, slamming it down before working my way to my large, dark wood desk that dominated the space. My chair groaned to take my weight, the leather screeching in complaint as I kicked up my feet to rest them on the surface of the desk.
One click and a picture of a pretty blonde glowed on my screen, her name and other details listed below the picture to let me know how I would find my next target.
Dark Realities was a lucrative venture for a man like me. Not only was the money decent, but the opportunities it gave me to explore my abnormal tastes was worth the risk I took playing the games.
Every target was different. Every woman a new experience that brought my dark soul to life. The best part was that none of them were permanent.
It seemed the next several months would be filled by the chase of this particular woman.
In the picture, her blond hair was pulled back, her eyes staring at the camera with no happiness behind them. Assuming this was a professional photo for a previous job, or perhaps a photo taken by the state for the purpose of a driver’s license or other such identification, I stared at a face that was unassuming – a face that showed more fear than it did a predator’s instinct.
How a woman like this could agree to the kind of games Dark Realities offered was a question I would mull over in the coming months.
But, like it or not, Mia Jennings had just signed on to be prey, and she would soon learn exactly what being prey to my predator soul entailed.
She looked like the type who would follow the rules.
It was a pity for her that I wasn’t.
SNEAK PEEK - DECEMBER 28, 2017
While I took the time to stare at the plastic seats arranged in the dingy waiting area, a man stood behind the desk silently studying me. I almost jump out my shoes when I finally turned and noticed him.
With one hand splayed over my chest as if that would somehow prevent my racing heart from busting through, I blinked in the man's direction.
Taller than me by at least a foot, he wore grey fitted slacks and a black button up Oxford shirt. He stood motionless, his blue eyes penetrating from where they studied me. It was impossible not to study him back, not to notice the way his black hair framed his square jaw, or the small dimple that sat at the center of his chin.
"Um," I stammered, still glancing back and forth between his face and his body, "Hello, my name is Mia Jennings. I have an interview at one."
He dropped the manila envelope he was holding down onto the desk. Without saying a word of greeting in return, he lifted an electronic tablet from the right corner of the reception area and held it out to me.
His scrutinous gaze never released mine the entire time I walked forward.
Taking the tablet, I looked down to see a blank screen, then back up to him in question. He had a matching tablet in his hand, his thumbs working over its surface.
My tablet beeped, drawing my attention.
You're a minute late.
My eyes returned to him and found a dark brow arched over one eye. I feared I'd blown my chance at this job already. Beyond my concern with the irritated expression on his handsome face, I was also thoroughly confused as to why he was talking to me through a tablet.
"I'm sorry," I finally blurted out. "The elevator is out of order and I had to climb the stairs. It winded me."
His thumbs flew over the screen of his device. Mine beeped a second later.
Then try working out every once in a while. Three levels isn't a long way to climb.
Pulse stuttering with anger, I forced my expression to remain blank. If I’d had other employment options, I would have turned and marched out after the rude comment.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
"I'm sorry," I said again, willing myself to remain professional when I should have been telling him where he could stuff his tablet.
Stop apologizing and follow me to my office so we can get this over with.
Moving away from the desk, he opened a plain wooden door between the reception area and the waiting room. Instead of waiting for me to walk through, he released the handle, giving me just enough time to run up and catch it before I was locked out. I hated him already, the stray hairs around my face lifting from the hard sigh I blew out.
Damn you, money, for making me follow this man.
Not that the view didn't make it somewhat worth it. From behind, he was as lovely as he had been facing me, the fitted slacks doing nothing to hide the rock hard cheeks of his butt. I trailed my gaze up to peruse his thin waist and broad shoulders, his arms that were three times the size of mine. Why did the pretty ones always have to be such jerks?
After leading me to a dimly lit office at the end of the hallway, he took a seat behind a desk loaded with electronic equipment and stacks of paper. He didn't instruct me where I should be, so I took a seat facing him and tried to ignore the rough feel of the cheap material that bound the armrests of my chair. This was, most assuredly, a low paying job.
What are your skills? a message asked before I finished my assessment of the large room. The beep of my tablet pulled my gaze from a framed photo on the wall of the man and a beautiful woman.
It occurred to me that the man hadn't introduced himself or spoken to me at all.
Could he talk?
Chancing the glaringly obvious fact that the man interviewing me was most likely mute, I smiled inwardly to think that I could earn brownie points with one particular skill.
"I know sign language," I answered, hooking my ankle over the other. "I took three years of it in college so I could be an effective communicator even with people who are-"
Is that supposed to impress me? I asked for your skills. Not what languages you speak.
His brows pulled together between his steely eyes. I couldn't see his hands where they were dropped behind the desk, but my tablet beeped with his message, letting me know he was holding his device at his lap.
Instead of brownie points, he was giving me shit for trying to be friendly. I took a steadying breath. Apparently this guy wasn't going to be nice.
Nervousness shook my voice. "I worked for five years as the executive assistant to the lead marketing executive of Cole Scott Enterprises."
Kicking his feet up on the surface of his desk, he leaned back in his chair, the springs beneath his seat squeaking from the movement.
It had always been a nervous habit for me to lick my lips when people stared at me, especially men who glared across empty rooms, picking me apart with nothing more than their hawk-like stares. Uncomfortable was a sorely inadequate description of how I felt with this particular man staring at me. I needed something stronger - darker - to explain how he made me react.
When his gaze tracked the movement of my tongue to lock on my lips, I fidgeted in my seat and gripped my hands over the tablet.
Is that a skill? Having worked for someone else? You're making this interview last longer than it should. Just tell me what you know how to do.
My words stuttered over themselves. Flustered and red faced, I rushed to list my skills, my thoughts completely tied up and humbled by the rude brevity of his responses.
"I can type and I'm proficient in every word processing program out there. I have a degree in marketing, not that I've had an opportunity to do anything with it. But I'd like to correct that lack of experience with your company. Hopefully, you'll give me the chance to prove that I'm an excellent team player, and I have ideas -"
He held up his hand to silence me and I blew out a breath. His thumbs were a blur over his tablet.
The man had to be mute. Whether it was a condition he was born with or something that occurred due to sickness or injury, I wasn’t sure.
Skills, Ms. Jennings. That's what I inquired about. Tactile skills that can help me manage my office better than the chaotic mess its in. Did you read the wanted ad before applying? I never said anything about marketing.
I finished reading the annoyed message just in time to look up and catch him staring at my legs. His gaze slid up to mine as he raised his brows to silently state I'm waiting.
Clear blue eyes zeroed in on me, holding me in their angry sway. Perspiration broke out at my temple, the muscles of my body rigid over every bone. If I weren't being studied so damn closely, I would have cried. Even if I refused to release the tears at that moment, there was no doubt they would start falling as soon as I left his office.
Clearing my throat, I fought to speak with a steady voice. "Like I said, I can type. I'm proficient with word processing and lightweight accounting. I can file papers and documents, I know how to use the Internet. I'm professional on the phone and in writing. I know how to keep a schedule and I'm a multi-tasker. I don't easily fall apart under pressure-"
But yet you so easily lie down and roll over when you feel cornered? The beep of his message interrupted me. I'd barely pulled my eyes from the screen when it beeped again. I need someone stronger than that. My industry is full of liars and thieves.
A third beep excused me from his office. Thank you for taking the time to come in. Have a good day, Ms. Jennings. Please place the tablet on the reception desk when you leave.
SNEAK PEEK - DECEMBER 27, 2017
Thirty minutes found me sitting at my computer, my body draped in a robe and my hair wrapped atop my head with a heavy towel. My finger clicked the mouse button and I entered the dark room.
I stared in shock at the fantasies offered.
Was the site kidding me?
Although my friends were only joking when they teased that I was a prude in college, they weren't too far from the truth. I'd had two sexual experiences in my life and both had left me feeling sick to my stomach. I'd never agreed to anything kinky, but the feeling of someone touching me - of someone being inside me - had been too much to bear. Sweaty skin and warm breath. An uncomfortable slickness between my legs when the guy had finished.
There had been absolutely no enjoyment for me, not when it was a slightly overweight man pumping furiously between my legs, grunting as he got off. I wasn’t sure it lasted long enough for me to get anything out of it.
Having given up after those experiences, I hadn't dated anyone since.
I wasn’t a prude in knowledge, just experience. I knew the basics of each category on the page, but couldn't understand how any of it was appealing. Below each listing there was a guaranteed price to be paid to whoever signed up to be prey, with a note that it could be more if the audience built to a certain level.
What was I doing?
Gang rape was out of the question. I could barely stand one person touching me, much less several, and the idea of any form of rape was morally disgusting. I didn't have time to be a captive and I wasn’t quite sure what that entailed. Anal play was a definite Hell No. I was humiliated daily in my regular life so that one seemed somewhat bearable.
I clicked on it.
The pictures that came up in example of the acts had my eyes rounding and my lips parting on a rush of breath. Both women and men were displayed in an array of positions that left nothing to the imagination. Their mouths were gagged, their hands bound, and for some, random objects were placed in or attached to their bodies. One poor woman was a centerpiece hanging in the center of a dinner party.
"What the fuck?" The words slipped from my mouth.
No. I couldn’t. There was no way I could let someone do those things to me in a room full of people. I clicked back to the category listing.
Sadism didn't sound too appealing because I was a wimp who cried when I stubbed my toe. Fake snuff? I wouldn't even consider that possibility.
How was it that voluntarily attracting a stalker seemed like the safest of the choices? Breathing out heavily, I clicked on the link and read the details.
Prey agrees to a six month time period for predator to hunt. Stalking includes physically following the prey, and communication via email, phone and social media. Prey agrees to predator having access to their work and home address, as well as other personal information useful in locating prey. All communication must be posted to the website for paying audience members to follow along. One sexual encounter is required by the end of the sixth month period. The predator may ONLY have sex with prey one time during the hunt. Inclusion in this game will pay one thousand dollars up front to predator and five thousand dollars up front to prey. Additional payments will be made pursuant to a written schedule as the audience grows. The Management guarantees safety of the prey by requiring a thorough background check and medical exam of the predator, as well as daily monitoring.
I blinked at the amount. It was exactly what I needed to get by.
LILY WHITE BOOKS
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