This was serious, though.
Davor was serious.
I knew it for sure when the paddle landed so often in the same spot that the skin broke open, trickling blood over my butt, down my leg.
He'd only paused long enough to lick up the blood before he started to paddle me again and again and again.
I was pretty sure, at some point, I blacked out from the pain.
Because the next thing I knew, Irina had her arms around me, was pulling my dress back into place, and leading me behind the stage.
"Oh, that bastard," she hissed, trying to hold me, but unable to find any spot on my back that wasn't sore. "That mother fucker. Okay. Hold on. Let's get you outside for some fresh air."
I felt like I was outside and inside my body at the same time. I could feel the emotional pain as it built and burst out, leaving tears streaming down my cheeks. But I felt oddly detached from the pain I knew was bouncing off my nerve endings.
I guess this was what shock felt like.
"Hey, stay with me," Irina demanded as I felt like I was slipping in and out of reality, lost in my own head.
But I didn't want to stay with her.
I didn't want to stay in a world where I couldn't say no, where men like Davor could abuse me, and no one would save me.
I didn't want to be in this world anymore.
I wanted to be done.
There was nothing left for me.
Only, there was no actual physical escape. Not until natural causes got me. Or one of the vampires drained me completely.
So, I guess the next best thing was to just let myself drift away. Into the deep recesses of my mind.
It all happened so quickly.
I hadn't really been aware of anything until I felt something rumble to life beneath me, felt my body tighten around another body, holding on as we surged forward.
I had no idea what was happening, only that I was somehow on a motorcycle at a breakneck pace.
A breakneck pace leading away from the club.
Away from Davor.
Away from the rest of the vampires, and the one who'd enthralled me in the first place.
If I thought I was in pain now—and I was, both physically and emotionally—well then, it wouldn't be long until I would see just how bad the pain could get.
I had to go back.
Only, I had no way to relay that to this stranger in front of me.
My hands grabbed at the lapels of his leather jacket, yanking as I started to feel the pull. It wasn't as strong as I'd expected. But, then again, maybe the vampires were following, closing the distance, making it so the pain was delayed.
We moved off the highway and onto some country road when the connection finally snapped, and the pain exploded through my system.
The scream bubbled up and burst outward, making my kidnapper jerk hard.
But he didn't slow down.
Not even when the screams became loud and unending as the blinding pain engulfed me, made it impossible to think beyond.
The only way I could describe it was something like being flayed alive, like having your skin ripped off from every inch of your body all at once. Only, there was no blissful end afterward, just more and more ripping.
At some point, the bike stopped and I was somehow moving as a hand clamped over my mouth.
"Fucking hell," a man's voice hissed as he started walking.
I wasn't sure how he managed to hold onto me with one arm and keep another over my mouth while my entire body jerked and writhed. But I stayed there in his arms as he walked through something that smelled like woods, then down some stairs somewhere.
It was only then that I was lowered down onto cold, damn ground. Actual ground, not concrete.
If I was right in my mind, that would have seemed strange to me, but I was so consumed with the pain ricocheting off every nerve ending that any real thoughts refused to take root and bloom.
"The fuck," the man grumbled as I screamed into his palm. "You've got to fucking calm down," he demanded. "Fuck," he grumbled again. "Fucking humans," he added with what sounded like distaste. "So weak," he added. "You're going to go insane," he informed me. "Humans go insane from shit like this."
I wasn't sure he completely understood what was happening. Maybe he thought the pain was from the paddling and the kidnapping. Maybe he thought I was just being dramatic.
I had to find a way to explain.
But words felt so fleeting, so hard to find and push out.
My hand grabbed his wrist, pulling it. It was unmove-able. Whatever the man was, he wasn't human. But he seemed to take the cue to pull back slightly.
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