Title: Make Me: Twelve Tales of Dark Desire
Genre: Dark Romance
Publication Date: March 3
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An Excerpt from CJ Roberts’ Captive in the Dark in MAKE ME
I awoke, gasping and disoriented, the edges of the dream dissipating, but not the dread lingering inside me. The darkness was so complete, for a second, I thought I hadn’t woken from my nightmare. Then slowly, frame by frame, it all came back to me. And as each frame was cataloged and stored away in my mental library, a faint but growing concept took hold, that this nightmare was reality, my reality. I suddenly found myself longing for the dream. Any nightmare would be better than this. My heart sank to new depths, eyes burning in the darkness. I looked around dispassionately, noticing familiar objects, but none of them mine. As the haze cleared, ever more steadily into cold hard reality, I thought, I really have been kidnapped. It hit, hard, those words in neon, in my head. I looked around again, surrounded by strangeness. Unfamiliar space. I really am in some strange place.
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to cry for not seeing this coming. I wanted to cry for the uncertainty of my future. I wanted to cry for wanting to cry. I wanted to cry because I was most likely going to die before I got to experience life. But mostly, I wanted to cry for being so horribly, tragically, stupidly female.
I’d had so many fantasies about that day he’d helped me on the sidewalk. I’d felt like a princess who'd stumbled across a knight in shining armor. Jesus Christ, I’d even asked him for a ride! I had been so disappointed when he said no, and when he mentioned meeting another woman, my heart had sunken into my stomach. I cursed myself for not wearing something cuter. Shamefully, I had fantasized about his perfect hair, his enigmatic smile, and the exact shade of his eyes almost every day since.
I closed my eyes.
What an idiot I’d been, a damned foolish little girl.
Had I learned nothing from my mother’s mistakes? Apparently not. Somehow I’d still managed to go all retarded at the sight of some handsome asshole with a nice smile. And just like her, I’d gotten good and fucked by him, too. I’d let a man ruin my life. For some reason beyond my understanding, I hated my mother in that moment. It broke my heart even more.
I wiped angrily at the tears that threatened to escape my eyes. I had to focus on a way to get out of here, not on a way to feel sorry for myself.
The only light came from the dim glow coming off a nearby nightlight. The pain had subsided into an overall soreness, but my headache still raged. I was unbound, lying under the same thick comforter, covered from head to toe in a thin layer of sweat. I pushed the comforter away.
I expected to find my naked body under the comforter. Instead I found satin: a camisole and panties. I clutched frantically at the fabric. Who had dressed me? Dressing meant touching and touching could mean too many things. Caleb? Had he dressed me? The thought filled me with dread. And underneath that, something else entirely more horrible: unwelcome curiosity.
Fending off my conflicting emotions, I set about inspecting my body. I was sore all over, even my hair hurt, but between my legs I didn’t feel noticeably different. No soreness on the inside to suggest what I couldn’t bring myself to think might happen to me at some point. I was momentarily relieved, but one more look around my new prison and my relief evaporated. I had to get out of here. I slid out of bed.
The room appeared rundown, with yellowing wallpaper and thin, stained carpet. The bed, a huge wrought iron four-poster, was the only piece of furniture that appeared new. It hardly seemed like the kind of thing that belonged in a place like this. Not that I knew much about places like this. The linen on the bed smelled of fabric softener. It was the same kind I washed my family’s clothes in at home. My stomach clenched. I didn’t hate my mother, I loved her. I should have told her more often, even if she didn’t always tell me. Tears stung my eyes, but I couldn’t fall apart right now. I had to think of a way to escape.
My first instinct was to try the door, but I dismissed that idea as stupid. For one, I remembered it being locked. For another, if it wasn’t, the chances were good I’d run right into my captors. The look in that guy Jair’s eyes flashed through my mind, and a violent shiver of fear ran down my spine.
Instead, I crept to a set of curtains and pulled them back. The window was boarded shut. I barely contained an exasperated scream. I slipped my fingers around the edges of the wood trying to pull it up, but it proved impossible. Damn.
The door opened behind me without warning. I spun around, slamming my back against the wall as if I could somehow manage to blend into the curtains. The door hadn’t been locked. Had he been waiting for me?
Light, soft and low, filtered through, casting shadows across the floor. Caleb. My legs shook with fear as he shut the door and walked toward me. He looked like the Devil himself, dressed in black slacks and a black button up shirt, stepping slowly, deliberately. Still handsome enough to make my insides clench and my heart stutter. It was pure perversion.
In the fall of light from the door, his shadow loomed, long and dark. Unbidden, words once made ominous by Poe manifested as flesh in the man before me: “Suddenly I heard a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.”
Crap, crap, crap. Okay, that last part was me.
Caleb raised his hand as if to hit me, and I threw my arms up to protect my face. His hand slammed against the wall. While I cringed, the bastard laughed. Slowly, I moved to bring my arms down and cover my breasts. Caleb grabbed both my wrists in his left hand and pressed them to the wall over my head. Pinned between him and the wall, I reacted like a frightened hamster. I froze, as if my stillness would discourage his predatory nature. Like a snake that only eats live mice.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
I heard the question, but the words had no meaning. My brain ceased to function as it should. The only thing my mind could focus on was his closeness. The intense warmth of his firm fingers pressed into my wrists. The clean, wet smell of his skin in the air around me. The invisible pressure of his gaze upon me. What was this?
When I failed to respond, the fingers of his right hand trailed across the underside of my right breast, the fabric of my camisole made his fingers balmy satin against my flesh. Our earlier exchange forced its way into my consciousness. “Go fuck yourself.”
“…I’d much rather fuck you.”
My knees slightly buckled and my nipples hardened. I took a sharp breath and leaned away from his touch, forcing my tightly shut eyes into the skin of my upraised arm.
His lips caressed the shell of my ear, “Are you going to answer? Or must I force you again?”
Food? My stomach suddenly twisted sharply. A primal pain. Yes, there was my hunger, when he reminded me of it. I was absolutely starving. I mustered up my courage by taking a deep breath.
I felt his smile against my ear, and then his fingers held my chin. In my peripheral vision, I watched him lean into me. His breath was cool against my heated flesh.
“Yes,” he repeated my response, “you’re hungry? Yes, you’re going to answer? Or yes, I have to force you again?”
My heart raced. I felt his breath on my cheek. There was suddenly not enough air, as if his proximity sucked it out of my lungs.
“Or is it just yes?”
My lips parted and my lungs pulled in deep, bringing in as much air as they could. It didn’t seem like much. I forced myself to answer through my panic.
“Yes,” I stammered, “I’m hungry.”
I knew he smiled, though I couldn’t see it. A shiver, so strong my body nearly jerked toward his, ran down my spine.
He kissed me softly on the cheek. I think I whimpered. Then he walked out of the room, leaving me paralyzed even after I heard the door shut.
Caleb returned shortly with a wheeled cart laden with food. My stomach gnawed as I smelled the meat and bread. It was difficult to control the urge to run toward the food. Then Jair followed him into the room carrying a chair.
Seeing Jair made me wish the floor would open up and swallow me. Earlier, when Jair had sought to rape me, I had—once again—tried to find protection in Caleb’s arms. I suppose that, somewhere in my head, I’d clung to the hope that this man, this Caleb, would protect me. All I could see was that horrible, feral look in Jair’s eyes. He wanted to hurt me.
The door shut and I looked up to find Caleb sitting next to the food. We were alone again. Fear and hunger tore at my insides.
“Come here,” he said. His voice startled me, but I moved to walk toward him. “Stop. I want you to crawl over here.”
My legs shook. Crawl? Are you kidding me? Just run. Run right now. He stood, looking straight at me. Run where? See how quickly he slams you to the ground and drugs you again! My knees hit the floor. What choice did I have? I put my head down but I could still feel his eyes on me like a weight that promised his hand. My knees and my palms moved across the ground until I reached the tops of his shoes.
I was trapped. I was nearly naked. Weak. Scared. I was his.
He bent and gathered my hair in both his hands. Slowly, he lifted my head until our eyes met. He looked at me intently; his brows were knit together, his mouth set in a hard line. “I wish he hadn’t done this to you,” he said while stroking the corner of my left eye. “You really are a very pretty girl; it’s a shame.”
My heart twisted. A memory, the memory ripped through my defenses and surfaced at the forefront of my mind. My stepfather had thought I was pretty, too. I was a pretty thing, and pretty things did not fare well in this world, not in the hands of men like him. Instinctively, my hands grabbed his wrists in an effort to guide his hands from my hair, but he held me firmly. Not roughly, just firmly. Without words, he made himself clear; he wasn’t done looking at me yet. Incapable of holding his gaze, I averted my eyes to some point just beyond him.
The very air around me seemed to shift to accommodate him. His breath skated across my cheek, and beneath my trembling, sweaty hands, his forearms hinted at his immense strength. I shut my eyes and took a deep breath in the hopes of calming down. The smell of him mingled with the food and rushed into my lungs. The combination did strange primal things to me. I suddenly felt carnivorous. I wanted to tear the flesh from his bones with my teeth and drink his blood.
Unable to help myself, I whispered, “It’s your fault he did it. All of this is your fault. You’re no better than he is.” It felt good to say the words. I felt I should have said them sooner.
A bead of sweat trickled down the side of my neck, its slow crawl over my collarbone, across my chest, and into the well of my breasts served to remind me of my body. My soft, breakable body.
He sighed deeply and let out a slow breath. I shivered, unable to discern whether the sigh meant he had calmed or he was about to slap me senseless.
His voice, thinly coated with civility, filled my head, “I’d watch what you say to me, Pet. There is a world of difference between me and him. One that I think you’ll learn to appreciate, despite yourself. But make no mistake; I am still capable of things you can’t imagine. Provoke me again and I’ll prove it.” He let me go.
I sank without thinking, back down to all fours, once again staring at his shoes. I was sure I’d completely break down if I tried to imagine all the things I wasn’t capable of imagining, because I could imagine some pretty horrible things. In fact, I was imagining some of those horrible things when his voice interrupted my thoughts.
“You’re entire life is going to change. You should try to accept that, because there’s no possible way to avoid it. Like it or not, fight it or don’t, your old life is over. It was over long before you woke up here.”
There were no words, no me, no here. This was crazy. I had awoken with sweat and fear to this, this darkness. Fear, pain, hunger, this man—eating at me. I wanted to put my head to the tops of his shoes. To stop. The words hung in the air like a speech bubble, still clinging to his lips. How long before? Before that day on the street?
I thought about my mom again. She was far from perfect, but I loved her more than I loved anyone. He was telling me I’d never see her again, that I’d never see anyone I loved again. I should have expected those types of words. Every villain had a similar speech, “Don’t try to get away, it’s impossible,” but until then, I hadn’t realized how truly terrifying those words were.
And he stood above me, as if he were a god who had torn the sun away, not caring for my devastation. “Address me as Master. Every time you forget, I will be forced to remind you. So you can choose to obey or choose punishment. It’s entirely up to you.”
My head snapped up and my shocked, horrified, pissed off eyes met his. I wasn’t going to call him Master. No. Fucking. Way. I was sure he could see the determination in my eyes. The unspoken challenge behind them that screamed, Just try and make me asshole. Just try.
He lifted a brow, and his eyes responded, With pleasure, Pet. Just give me a reason.
Rather than risk a fight I couldn’t possibly win, I returned my eyes to the ground. I was going to get out of here. I just had to be smart.
“Do you understand?” he said smugly.
Yes, Master. The words remained unspoken, their absence duly noted.
“Do. You,” he leaned forward, “Under. Stand?” He drew out each word, as if speaking to a child or someone who doesn’t understand English.
My tongue pushed against my teeth. I stared at his legs, unable to answer him, unable to fight him. A lump began to form in my throat, and I swallowed hard to keep it down, but the tears eventually came. These were not the tears of pain or fear but of frustration.
“Very well then, I guess you’re not hungry. But I am.”
At the mention of food my mouth surged again with saliva. The smell of the food twisted my stomach into tight knots. While he tore off pieces of bread, my nails dug into the thin carpet where my tears now dripped onto the floor. What did he want from me that he couldn’t just take? I sniffled, trying not to sob. He touched me again, stroking the back of my head.
“Look at me.”
I wiped the tears from my face and looked up at him. He sat back in his chair, head cocked to one side. He appeared to be considering something. I hoped whatever it was wouldn’t cause me more humiliation, but I doubted it. He picked up a piece of cut meat from his plate and slowly stuck it in his mouth, all the while looking at my face. Every tear that sprang from my eye I quickly wiped away with the back of my hand. Next, he picked up a piece of cubed beef. I swallowed hard. He leaned forward and held the delicious smelling morsel to my lips. With an almost unabashed relief I opened my mouth, but he snatched it away.
He offered again. And again. Each time I crawled closer and closer, until I was pressed between his legs, my hands on either side of his body. Suddenly I threw my arms up around his hand and wrapped my mouth around his fingers to get the food away from him. Oh my god, so good.
His fingers were thick and salty against my tongue, but I managed to wrest the meat from between them. He moved quickly, his fingers found my tongue and pinched viciously while his other hand dug into the sides of my neck. He squeezed, making me open my mouth in shock as pain cascaded down my throat. The food fell from between my lips to the floor and I howled around his fingers at the loss. He let go of my tongue, and his hands found control along the sides of my head as he tilted it up toward his. “I’ve been entirely too kind and you’re going to learn just how civil I’ve been. You’re very proud and very spoiled, and I’m going to beat it out of you twice.”
Then he stood up with enough force to push me backward onto the floor. He walked out of the room and shut the door. This time I heard the lock.
Beside me the food beckoned.
Aleatha Romig - Consequences
Skye Warren - Wanderlust
Eliza Gayle - Play With Me
Cari Silverwood - Take Me, Break Me
Jasmine Haynes - Take Your Pleasure
Pam Godwin – Beneath the Burn
Annabel Joseph – Comfort Object
Claire Thompson – Enslaved
Annika Martin – The Hostage Bargain
Shoshanna Evers – The Man Who Holds the Whip
Pepper Winters – Tears of Tess
CJ Roberts – Captive in the Dark
MAKE ME: TWELVE TALES OF DARK DESIRE
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