I find the library eventually, once again stunned by its beauty. I walk along the shelves, touch the leather-bound volumes. Along with the human sciences and classics, there are dictionaries and encyclopedias. Everything.
Everything. I sit in one of the leather chairs, once more overwhelmed by my situation, all the aspects of it. It looks like my work situation and studies are taken care of—I use those terms loosely—but what about my family, my friends? Does she really think no one will ask questions?
All of a sudden, I’m not so impressed by this gorgeous space anymore. I realize that whenever she’s with me, my doubts start to dissolve. It seems ridiculous to think this stunning confident woman could somehow become the person to realize my worst nightmare. She took me from my home without my consent. I want answers. I want them now. If I give in to whatever draws me to her, which I can’t seem to deny, I’ll lose myself. I need a little more reassurance.
I turn around, then into every direction, trying to find what could be the most likely place to hide a camera. Oh well. It doesn’t matter.
“I’m sure you can hear me,” I say out loud, instantly feeling silly, but I carry on. “If not you, you have someone watching me. I admit I’ve been a little slow on the uptake, forgive me, nothing like this has ever happened to me. We need to talk. Now.”
Actually, I’m feeling worse by the minute. There I let her wine and dine me, touch me, the next moment wondering whether she could be working with sex traffickers, or what’s going to happen to my job. There are real people who are probably already worried for me. I don’t talk to my parents on the phone every week, but if they tried to reach me…I don’t know. All of a sudden, my mind is filled with worse case scenarios.
It hasn’t been that long. It feels like I’ve already spent an eternity here, with dubious prospects. Going to the pool. Studying on my own. Pleasure like I’ve never known it before. To give up resistance, and so soon, is it selfish—wrong?
It takes only a couple of minutes until Carter joins me. “I know you have many questions. It’s a lot to take in, I’m aware of that.” Her voice is calm, neutral, without a hint of apology.
“See, there are people who’d like to hear from me every once in a while. I’m not sure if the same is true for you, but that’s the way it is.”
She gets the jibe, her face falling, but it’s a moment so brief I might have imagined it.
“You know that your job and studies are taken care of—that covers most of your friends. I want you to have time to settle in, to become aware of everything this offer includes. You may call your parents. I will provide you with a cell phone that cannot be traced, though you might want to wait for a few hours, because it’s in the middle of the night there. I can tell you that the only calls you’ve gotten since your absence is from your internet provider, a couple of telemarketers and one wrong number.”
I pick my jaw up from the floor, thinking that it’s probably not looking very attractive, and this entire game kind of hinges on her finding me attractive, doesn’t it? There’s also some faint disappointment in the realization that no one seems to miss me. Carter picks up the shift in my mood from cocky to once again clueless, and she steps closer.
“It’s not you,” she says softly. “It’s all in the plan, and my people had to be convincing. I had to make sure there’d be no police involved. Everyone says you worked hard and deserve some time for yourself.”
“Except it’s not just time for myself. It’s for you, and you have a high opinion of yourself if you think you can make all of this look like…”
“…it’s meant to be?” Carter finishes. “I believe so. I don’t make investments when I think the end results aren’t worth it.”
“I’m sure. So that’s what I am—an investment with fairly promising prospects?”
She holds my gaze as her fingers travel up my arm. I can’t hide my reaction, the shiver skittering down my spine.
“You are so much more than that.”
Am I? I want to believe her. I think I’ll feel better once I talked to my parents, though I’m not sure what to tell them. It’s not just that the world has changed drastically. I have changed already.
“I’m sorry I have to leave you alone for lunch. Marlene will be in the dining room. She’ll prepare whatever you like. I’ll get you when it’s a better time to call, and then I’ll show you the pool. Dinner will be more relaxed.”
“Okay.” Whatever, I almost add, but I don’t want to sound like a brat, even though I’m obviously being spoiled. I wonder what would happen if I ordered oysters. I won’t. I’m not a big fan of seafood.
When are we going to stop this awkward dance and get to what she really brought me here for?
* * * *
The Surrender Trilogy + the Christmas sequel
http://smarturl.it/SurrenderYourHeart (Surrender Your Heart)
http://smarturl.it/SurrenderTrilogy (Surrender To Me)
http://smarturl.it/SurrenderForever (Surrender Forever)
http://smarturl.it/surrenderjoy (Surrender & Joy)