Until Ashlyn Page 71

“Oh, God, please no,” I choke, closing my eyes, wishing I’d wake up but knowing that will never happen because this isn’t a dream. I’m awake in a living nightmare. “I’ll get help,” I promise as she reaches out toward me, and her eyes slide shut. Watching her chest heave unnaturally, my hands start to shake and my mouth dries up. “Stay awake,” I beg, moving my hands back and forth, trying to get the rope around my wrist to loosen enough for me to slide free. “Please stay awake,” I sob.

“Nuh-uh-uh.”

Jumping, my head flies up and a new wave of fear washes over me as I watch the guy from the coffee shop step into the room and close the door behind himself.

“I can tell you recognize me.” He grins, shoving his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “Do you know how badly I wanted to take you the day we met face to face? Do you know how hard it was to let you go?” he asks as I lean back, trying to avoid his touch as his blood-covered fingers slide down my cheek.

“Please don’t do this, please, just let me go.”

“Now why would I do that?”

“You don’t want to do this,” I plea, trying to get my hands free.

“You’re wrong. I very much want to do this.” He smiles, grabbing a fistful of my hair and jerking my head back so hard I cry out. “I thought you wanted to be dominated? I thought you wanted someone to stalk and rape you.”

“That wasn’t me, I swear it wasn’t me,” I cry as his fist in my hair tightens and pulls harder, forcing my head over the back of the chair, and pain from my recently removed stitches to shoot through my scalp.

“Do you know what I did to my fiancée when I found out she was asking men to beat her? When I found out she was letting men take her like a whore?” he shouts, and I flinch, shaking my head again while tears fall silently down my cheeks. “I gave her what she wanted. She wanted to be beaten, so I beat her until she couldn’t open her eyes. She wanted to be fucked like a slut, so I fucked her like the slut she was, until she was bleeding from every hole in her body.” He pets my hair, almost gently, and softens his voice. “You were the first profile I saw after her, the first one I responded to. At first, I wasn’t going to hurt you. At first, I was going to save you like I couldn’t save her. But then I saw you with him, saw what you were doing to him without him knowing. I saw that you were just like her,” he roars, and I squeeze my eyes as tight as they will go.

“Oh, God.” Dillon, where are you? Please be okay.

“God isn’t on your side.” He grins an evil grin, and then bites my neck so hard I feel my flesh tear while his hand circles my throat.

“Please! Stop,” I rasp, and he squeezes harder. Struggling for breath, my body shakes and stars dance before my eyes, then everything goes black.

Coming awake suddenly, my hands fly to my throat and I gasp for air. “Oh, God.” I look around, feeling fear consume me once more as tears fill my eyes. I’m still in my nightmare. I cover my mouth then realize my hands are free, and I sob.

I don’t give myself time to think. I quickly untie my ankles and move to Kim, seeing the rope that was around my wrists is in her hand. “Kim.” I roll her to her back, press my hand to her chest, and shake her. “Kim,” I repeat, but she doesn’t move; she doesn’t even take a breath. Swallowing through the realization that she’s dead, I drop my head to her chest and fight the urge to gather her against me.

I know this may be my only chance to get out of here alive. Moving to the door, I press my ear to it. Hearing nothing on the other side, I put my hand on the knob, turn it, and say a silent prayer when the door clicks open. Peeking out the small crack, I find nothing but hallway and dim light. Ducking low, I scoot into the hall, close the door, and look both ways, debating what way to head. I don’t know where I am, but if I had to guess it’s an old warehouse.

Tugging my T-shirt down, I creep silently on my bare feet along the hall, then feel a surge of adrenalin and hope course through my veins when I spot another door. As soon as I can reach the knob, I place my hand on the metal, turn it, and push, breathing in a deep breath of cold night air as it skims across my face. Opening the door another inch, I want to scream as it clanks and I see a large chain on the outside. Looking back down the hall to where I came from, I feel my eyes widen as I see the guy head into the room I just left. Knowing I don’t have a choice, I push the door as far as it will go, get my head out through the space, and scream as I hear him running toward me, roaring, “What the fuck?” Getting my shoulders and arms out, I use the doorjamb to push myself the rest of the way through, and scream in pain as my chest is crushed as he pulls on the door. “You fucking cunt!” he snarls, tugging me toward him as I kick as hard as I can, refusing to give up now.

“Fuck you!” I kick and twist wildly, and finally, by some miracle, get free from his hold, falling hard to the ground just outside the door. I don’t pause. I don’t take a chance to look behind me. I run as fast as I can toward the woods, letting the darkness engulf me and keep me safe.

Dillon

Hearing the name Trent Denton, I turn and watch the small television on the wall across the room. A clip of Trent being escorted into a police station with his hands cuffed behind his back appears on the screen before the newscaster reappears, shuffling the papers in her hands, speaking. “Trent Denton, an upstanding citizen, a doctor, and a man many people in the community looked up to, is also the man police arrested today for six murders in the Nashville area over the last three months, along with the attempted murder and kidnapping of a Murfreesboro woman. The FBI was called in to assist the police with the case after four of his victims were found to be linked together through the website Dominate Me, a fetish website the accused used to find his victims. Tonight at eleven we will have more on this story, along with the interview of Trent Denton’s still missing fiancée’s mother.” Finding the remote I turn off the TV, not wanting to hear more. Resting my head on Ashlyn’s stomach and my hand over her chest, I let the feel of her heartbeat remind me she’s here with me and safe.

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