He looked up at her, and even through his high she could tell he was smart, his intellect strong enough to churn through the chemicals. He probably needed the drugs to dull his mind’s edge and the knowledge that he had no way out of his trap.
He was filthy, but still handsome underneath it all.
She ignored the catcalls and whistles around her. They wouldn’t dare touch her, not with a six-foot-six behemoth of a man behind her, his massive black arms folded over his chest, and a couple others behind him.
“What do you want?”
He knew very well what she wanted. “I want you to fuck me,” she said flatly.
“Why me,” he returned in a bored tone, flicking his gaze from her expensively coifed hair to her Vera Wang wrap dress all the way down to her Manolos. He was convincing in his query, but she knew how she looked: bored, rich society wife with an irresistible fetish for strung-out boytoys while her husband was away on business and the children asleep at home under the nanny’s care. He would be interested in her money, if not her.
“You came with references.”
She dropped the name she’d been given, which convinced him she had come looking specifically for him, specifically for this purpose. Wealthy women didn’t go to flop houses to pick up random prostitutes. There were better ways to get more sophisticated—cleaner—men.
“But. You have to pull yourself together first. You’re a hot mess.”
He knew that, and he shrugged.
“If you’re as good as my friend says you are, I may want to keep you for a while.”
“You aren’t the prettiest woman I’ve ever fucked,” he observed.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t insult me before you get paid.”
“Hey, you’re the one who hunted me down—” He gestured to their surroundings. “—here.”
He pursed his lips, and she realized that he must have coarsened. His manners were fading in the life of perpetual back alley and glory hole blow jobs, and quick fucks up the ass in leather bars. He probably rarely serviced women anymore, and he’d probably long resigned himself to being the bottom. He was bent, but not broken.
She intended to remedy that tonight.
Her bodyguard held out a hand to assist him to his feet, and he took it. He had little pride left.
Her driver shoved him into the back of the limousine and then assisted her into it. She was careful not to sit beside the man, to keep herself from his filth, and another bodyguard situated himself between her and the whore. He apparently didn’t mind, as he sat and looked out the window as they left Harlem and ended up at the Waldorf.
Neither of them spoke as they were driven around the back to use the celebrity entrance. The hire slid a glance at her. “Do I know you?”
“What’s your name?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Are you famous? I could swear I’ve seen you before.”
“No. I’m just ordinary enough to have a lot of doppelgängers.”
He got the message. She would answer no more such questions.
“What are your tastes?”
“Let me put it this way: I’ve been a very bad girl and I need my daddy to punish me.”
His face slowly transformed from chemical-induced apathy to calculation. “Daddy’s not happy with your behavior, little girl.”
She whimpered. “I’m sorry, Daddy.”
Once the driver had escorted both of them to her suite, she indicated the bathroom, and said, “There are clothes in there for you. My friend guesstimated your sizes. If they don’t fit, I’ll order new.”
He headed there, eager now. “Take your clothes off, little girl,” he snarled over his shoulder. “Be naked and on your knees when I come out.”
“Yes, Daddy,” she whispered.
But of course, she wasn’t.
He came out of the bathroom an hour later with a towel around his hips, still damp from his shower, his face shaven. He halted in the middle of the room. Looked for her. The lights were dim and there was absolute silence.
“Adrestia,” he said angrily. “I told you what to do.”
“And I,” she whispered in his ear, startling him, “am not going to do it.”
He turned with a snarl, his hands out, but then saw the knives she held in her hands. “What the fuck?” he whispered, staring in shock at her body. She had stripped down to … nothing.
“These,” she said conversationally, watching his eyes widen at the sharp scalloped double-edged blades, “are sacrificial knives. They’re meant to do one thing. I stick one through the slats of your ribs, into your heart, give it a quarter turn to break your ribs and hook your heart, then take it out of your chest.” He gulped. “Then eat it.”
He backed away from her, his hands out. “You crazy fucked-up cunt!”
She smiled a slow, satisfied smile. “Maybe yes, maybe no. Would you rather I be crazy or a cold-blooded killer?”
His nostrils flared.
“I notice your dick doesn’t mind.”
He looked down at the tent in his towel, as if he hadn’t noticed he’d become erect.
“Sit down in that chair behind you, please.”
He could do nothing but obey, since it didn’t matter which one she was, just that she meant to kill him. Plastic crinkled under his feet as he went to the straight-backed chair. It was a long walk.
Before he could move or think, her driver grabbed his wrists from behind and zip-tied them behind the chair back. His reflexes were dulled by whatever drug he’d ingested, and he began to struggle much later than he should have.
“Now,” she said matter-of-factly, standing in front of him once her driver had finished. “Here’s how it’s going to be. You are going to give me the names and addresses of all the Jep Industries executives who left the country.”
His mouth dropped open. “They’ll kill me if I do,” he choked.
“I’ll kill you if you don’t.” Her knife flashed, and he flinched away, but she nicked him on his cheek, exactly as she’d intended. “Oooh, that’ll leave a scar. No more pretty pretty Greg Sitkaris. Just an ugly one. But glory holes and assholes don’t need pretty faces, do they?”
“I’m not telling you,” he ground out, staring up at her with hatred.
She reached down and flipped his towel away from his hips. He was still hard as a rock and she wondered how sick and twisted one had to be to be aroused by the thought of imminent death. She’d practiced this whole scenario with her husband, who’d gotten just as aroused, but of course, she wasn’t going to kill him. Hurt him a little … He hadn’t complained.
“Well, okay, then. Let’s talk about your wife and daughter.”
He sneered. “What about ’em?”
“Other than what you did to Jep Industries—”
“I didn’t do anything to J.I.”
“You were the key. But I’m not talking about that anymore. I’m talking about Amelia and Hayleigh.”
“Like I care?”
“I do.” She flicked two more pieces of skin out of his face before he could blink, and he yelped. Another sliver—out of his dick. He thrashed and howled, but he was bound too tightly. “In fact, I care about that a lot more than I care about J.I. Those employees got taken care of. Amelia and Hayleigh will have to have years of therapy and probably medication.”
“Stop!” he screamed.
“Oooh, does that hurt?” she cooed. “It’s called tenderizing. Like what you do to a bad cut of meat. Ever heard the phrase, ‘Death by a thousand tiny cuts’? You know what that means? It means you’ll bleed to death, drop by drop. And with excruciating pain.”
He wanted to sob. He was trying to control his sobs. But he was panting through his nose, keeping his cheeks puffed so he wouldn’t bawl. Apparently the streets hadn’t humiliated him properly. No wonder he’d been able to hold out so long.
Or else he had a high threshold of pain.
She turned and got a spray bottle, shot a stream of the liquid smack in the middle of his bleeding cheek.
“Jalapeño juice,” she said matter-of-factly, as if he couldn’t smell it.
His head was down. His chest was heaving.
Her brows drew together. “Are you really that much of a pussy?” she asked, now completely confused. “Don’t tell me you’ve never gotten your ass kicked on the street.”
He shook his head frantically, his still-longish hair spraying drops of water.
Then she understood. “Oh, I see. Just raped.”
He nodded, equally frantic.
“Which you don’t mind so much. Funny. Cassie told me she figured being a bottom would break you.”
His head snapped up. “Cassie St. James?” he snarled.
She smiled beatifically.
“I hate that cunt.”
“Totally understandable. I don’t much care for her myself.”
“Shoe shopping notwithstanding. However, this isn’t about Cassie. It’s about Amelia, Hayleigh, Jep Industries—in that order.”
He yowled some more.
It went on like that for the next two hours, and she was getting a little impatient. No, she truly wasn’t going to kill him—murder wasn’t on her list of Fun Things To Do, even though the murder she’d helped cover up didn’t bother her in the least bit. Still, if he didn’t break soon, he might bleed out, and that would be messy. The plastic on the floor was slippery enough as it was.
Sitkaris was exhausted and bloody, with slices all over his body, but the most on his formerly lovely face. She sighed and headed into the bathroom to take a shower.
He looked up at her when she came out and he caught his breath at the sight of her nude body.
“Look all you want,” she muttered. “I’m taking a nap. You won’t be able to get out of there, so don’t bother trying. I may yet stake you in the heart like the vampire you are.”
She crawled into one of the beds, secure in the knowledge that her driver-cum-bodyguard-cum-assistant was somewhere in the suite and would make sure Sitkaris couldn’t get to her. She hated being forty. Two. Needing a nap. She should have been able to pull an all-nighter like she did in college.
Sitkaris was still strapped to the chair when she awoke, but he was lying on his side, half asleep in the blood-crusted plastic, shivering. It was five a.m. She’d had enough.
“Look,” she said as she stood over him nude, her knife-filled fists propped on her hips. “I want to go home. Here’s what we’re going to do. You give me the whereabouts of your cohorts and agree to testify against them in federal court, and we’ll discuss immunity for your testimony. However, this—” She gritted her teeth and thrust her knife into the meat of his thigh, precisely missing his femoral artery.
She twisted it a quarter turn and took out a divot of muscle.
He screamed some more.
“—is for Amelia and Hayleigh. Now talk.”
The names and addresses of every executive embezzler of Jep Industries poured out of his mouth. The driver-cum-bodyguard, off in a corner in the darkness, wrote as fast as he could.
She showered again. Scrubbed herself well. Re-dressed in her clothes from the night before, having been carefully protected from any flying blood.
“Lizzie Borden would be very proud of me,” she remarked at Greg, who lay sobbing and panting on the plastic, still duct taped to the chair.
“Let’s go,” said her bodyguard suddenly, his fingertips in one ear, listening. He grasped her arm and she scurried ahead of him. They would leave Greg there for housekeeping to find, while the two of them exited the hotel hanging on each other like two still-drunken partiers having affairs on their spouses.
And she’d paid in cash.
No one would remember them.
“Thank you, my friend,” Giselle said softly and kissed Sheldon on the cheek as he assisted her up the stairs of the small jet that would take her home—
He smiled. “I like your style, Miz Kenard.”
—home to her husband, where she could fall in his arms and shatter.