My heart beats with a repetitive thump that’s slowly but surely driving me to absolute fucking insanity. Sweat coats my skin. I track his movements as the man strides across the room and dumps his mask onto a metal side table. Then he sets down the satchel that had been previously wrapped around his chest. The bag slams onto the table loudly—telling me he's got some hefty tools in there. I try to think of what to say or do, but nothing comes immediately to mind. The only thing my brain can seem to supply is one question:
Where the fuck is Dean?
"Do you think you’re a strong person, Ms. Manning?" the man asks.
My body jerks as he turns away from the table and marches towards me, getting down on his haunches and pulling out a knife from his boot. "Strong?" I repeat, thankful that my tone remains steady even though, inside, I'm floundering to figure out a way out of this. "I don't know. Depends on how you define that word."
He slices through the bindings on my legs and arms, returning the knife to his boot. His hands latch onto my wrists as he pulls me to my feet. Despite his hold on me, I nearly go down anyway—my legs having been restrained for so long, the second feeling begins to return to the nerves in them, I grit my teeth in pain. He takes it as his opportunity to move me to one of the chairs, yanking my arms behind the back and retying them in swift movements.
"Interesting," he comments as he backs up and looks down on me. "Most people give me a yes or a no answer.”
“I’m not most people,” I reply.
His eyes trace over me, searching—for what, I can only guess. “All right then,” he continues. “Do you think you're a fearful person?"
That's a much easier answer. "No."
Fear is nothing but the presence of powerlessness. That much I knew to be true. The man doesn't respond to my quick answer, though. Not even with another odd question. Instead, he backs up towards his metal table and leans against it before crossing his massive arms over his chest.
He looks like a goddamn poster boy for Nazi psychos. Blond hair. Blue eyes. A handsomely cut jaw with only a smattering of little scars here and there. I don't shy away when he stares at me. I stare back. Watching him and daring him with my own glare.
"Do you know who I am?" he asks.
I snort. "If I did, do you think I'd be here?"
"Answer the question."
"No, dipshit. I don't know who you are, and I don't know what the fuck you want." The first is true—I don't know who he is. The second, however, is a bald-faced lie. I know what he wants. I know why I'm here. I know why he took off his fucking mask because he’s not planning on letting me out of here alive. "Are we done playing twenty questions now?"
He chuckles, and the sound does not make me feel at ease. Quite the opposite, actually. The sound of his amusement sends a shiver down my spine. "One more question, Avalon." I hate the way he says my name. I hate the sound of his voice, and I hate that I feel so fucking powerless, bound to this chair and waiting for whatever it is he has planned.
If I were to close my eyes and truly listen to that quiet, vibrated chuckle, it might sound completely normal at first. If I wasn't looking straight at him and knowing the torture tools that he's likely keeping in his little tool belt sitting on the table at his back, I might even think he was normal. But even without the torture tools and the barren room and the situation, I think I’d be able to tell what he is. There's something deeper in his tone, in his eyes. Something that would make even the most easy-going, oblivious person in the world pause and take notice.
Maybe it's intuition. A gut feeling. Animal instincts at their finest that tell me this man is anything but normal. Whatever he has seen. Whatever he has done. No matter how bloody or damning, he enjoyed it. And whatever he's planning to do to me—he'll feel the same.
My head tips back as he unfolds his arms and straightens away from the table, walking to where I sit until he’s standing right in front of me. One hand comes down on the back of the chair against my spine, and he leans in close until I can see the individual flecks of various blue shades in his eyes.
That's when I see it—the oddity that sets his looks off from others. There's no emotion in them. Even with Brax or Abel or Dean—when they're at their breaking points—there's something there. A wildness. A wickedness. A feeling. In this man's eyes, I see none of that. What I see is just … nothing. No emotion. No happiness. No glee. No remorse.
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