Home>>read Tormentor Mine free online

Tormentor Mine(6)

By:Anna Zaires

“Why not two girls and a boy?” I asked, grinning. “What happened to gender equality and all that?”

“How is two against one equal? Everybody knows girls twist you around their pretty little fingers, and when you have two of them…” He shuddered theatrically. “No, we need two boys, so there’s balance in the family. Otherwise, Daddy is screwed.”

I laughed and punched him in the shoulder, but secretly, I liked the idea of two boys running around raising hell and protecting their little sister. I’m an only child, but I’ve always wanted a big brother, and it was easy to adopt George’s dream as my own.

No. Don’t go there. With effort, I push away the memories, because good or bad, they lead to that evening, and I can’t cope with that now. The cramps have gotten worse, and it’s all I can do to keep my hands on the wheel as I pull into my three-car garage. I need Advil, a heating pad, and my bed, in that order, and if I’m really lucky, I’ll pass out right away, no Ambien required.

Holding back a groan, I close the garage door, punch in the code for the alarm, and drag myself into the house. The cramps are so bad I can’t walk without bending, so I head straight for the medicine cabinet in the kitchen. I don’t even bother turning on the lights; the light switch is inconveniently far from the garage entrance, plus I know the kitchen well enough to navigate around it in the dark.

Opening the cabinet, I find the Advil bottle by feel, extract two pills, and throw them in my mouth. Then I go to the sink, fill my hand with water, and swallow the pills. Panting, I grip the kitchen counter and wait for the medicine to kick in a little before I attempt to do something as ambitious as going to the master bedroom on the second floor.

I feel him only a second before it happens. It’s subtle, just a displacement of air behind me, a whiff of something foreign… a sense of sudden danger.

The hairs on the back of my neck rise, but it’s too late. One moment, I’m standing by the sink, and the next, a big hand is covering my mouth as a large, hard body traps me against the counter from the back.

“Don’t scream,” a deep male voice whispers in my ear, and something cold and sharp presses against my throat. “You don’t want my blade to slip.”



* * *

I don’t scream. Not because it’s the smart thing to do, but because I can’t make a sound. I’m frozen by terror, utterly and completely paralyzed. All my muscles have locked up, including my vocal cords, and my lungs have ceased functioning.

“I’m going to remove my hand from your mouth,” he murmurs into my ear, his breath warm on my clammy skin. “And you’re going to stay silent. Got it?”

I can’t so much as whimper, but I somehow manage a faint nod.

He lowers his hand, his arm looping around my ribcage instead, and my lungs choose that moment to resume working. Without meaning to, I pull in a wheezing breath. Immediately, the blade presses deeper into my skin, and I freeze again as I feel hot blood trickling down my neck.

I’m going to die. Oh God, I’m going to die here, in my own kitchen. The terror is a monstrous thing inside me, piercing me with icy needles. I’ve never been so close to death before. Just an inch to the right and—

“I need you to listen to me, Sara.” The intruder’s voice is soft, belying the knife digging into my throat. “If you cooperate, you’ll walk out of here alive. If you don’t, you’ll leave in a body bag. It’s your choice.”

Alive? A spark of hope cuts through the haze of panic in my brain, and I realize he has a faint accent. It’s something exotic. Middle Eastern, maybe, or Eastern European.

Oddly, that detail centers me a little, provides something concrete for my mind to latch on to. “W-what do you want?” The words come out in a quaking whisper, but it’s a miracle I can speak at all. I feel like a deer in the headlights, stunned and overwhelmed, my thought processes bizarrely slow.

“Just a few answers,” he says, and the knife retreats slightly. Without the cold steel cutting into my skin, some of my panic subsides, and other details register, like the fact that my assailant is at least a head taller than me and packed with muscle. The arm around my ribcage is like a steel band, and there’s no give in the large body pressing against my back, no hint of softness anywhere. I’m of average height for a woman, but I’m slim and small-boned, and if he’s as muscular as I suspect, he must be almost double my weight.

Even if he didn’t have the knife, I wouldn’t be able to get away.

“What kind of answers?” My voice is a little steadier this time. Maybe he’s just here to rob me and all he needs is the combination to the safe. He smells clean, like laundry detergent and healthy male skin, so this is not some meth addict or bum off the streets. A professional burglar, maybe? If so, I’ll gladly give up my jewelry and the emergency cash George stashed in the house.