No Holding Back (McKenzies of Ridge Trail #1) by Lori Foster




CHAPTER ONE


            SHIVERS RACKED HER body as she watched him drink. Curled in the corner, waiting, dreading the inevitable—even breathing was difficult with so much fear crowding in around her. She wanted to cry but knew it wouldn’t help. She wanted to let in the hysteria, but she hadn’t quite accepted her fate...not yet.

            She couldn’t.

            Outside the room, two other men stood guard. They’d told her she’d be forced to do this up to ten times a night, and she wasn’t sure she’d even survive this first time.

            She wanted to go home.

            She wanted to curl up and die.

            Mostly she wanted to fight—but how?

            Amused by her fear, the man watched her while tossing back another shot. He enjoyed her terror—and that amplified everything she felt.

            What to do, what to do, what to do?

            Her gaze frantically searched the second-story room. One small window, opened to let in a breeze, led to a sheer drop onto a gravel lot. Would she survive going out that window? At the moment, did it really matter?

            The man stood near the door. He’d slid a metal bar into place, locking her in, ensuring she couldn’t get past him. But also ensuring no one else could get in. Not until he’d finished.

            He’d paid for two hours but now didn’t seem in any rush to get started.

            To the right of the door, a tiny table held a bottle of whiskey and a single glass. To the left, an empty wooden coat tree stood as a place for him to hang his clothes.

            A bare mattress on a small bed occupied a wall.

            Nothing else.

            Only her fear, the reality, the terror, her hatred, the cruelty...her will to survive.

            When his loose lips stretched into a smug grin, she braced herself—and noticed that he stumbled a little as he stepped toward her.

            Her heart punched painfully. Slowly, she slid up the wall to her feet. An invisible fist squeezed her throat, but she sidled sideways, toward that barred door.

            Toward the little table.

            From the hallway, loud music played. Whatever happened in this room, they didn’t want to be bothered with it.

            She kept her gaze locked on his, her hands clammy with sweat, so afraid that her limbs felt sluggish.

            “Thinking to run?” he asked, his grin widening with anticipation.

            “I...I was hoping I could have a drink, too?”

            “You want to numb yourself? No, I don’t think so.”

            He wanted her afraid. He wanted her to feel every awful second of this degradation. With a lot of effort, she tamped down the need to vomit and managed to ask, “Then...should I pour you another?”

            Snorting, he propped a shoulder to the wall. “Want to get me drunk, huh? Sure, go ahead and try it, but you’ll see, I know how to hold my liquor.” Tipping his head, he narrowed his eyes and the grin turned into a sneer. “Alcohol makes me mean.”

            Refusing to dwell on that possibility, she forced a nod, reaching for the bottle anyway, letting him see how badly she trembled. She filled the small glass, then lifted it...while keeping the bottle in her other hand.

            The obnoxious brute paid no attention; he focused on watching her quake as she came to him, the glass held out as a feeble offering.