Chapter 2

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I groaned and fell to my knees, five lashes on my back, gritting my teeth and swallowing the scream. He was alternating between painful consequences and joyful rewards, trying to convince me that I wanted to belong to him. It was a hard fight. Hatred grew within me that first week. I hated him. I hated the room. I hated the chain. I hated the whip. I hated the delicious food he brought me. I hated the darkness most of all.

All I conceded that week was that Sunshine was a nickname I would answer to. I could tell that he was getting annoyed with my stubbornness. I outwardly would not relent, but inside I was beginning to waver. He was convincing. He knew my arguments before I said them and tended to agree, but I was his. They were not valid for my situation.

He told me that belonging to someone was more freeing than belonging to myself. If I did as he said, I wouldn't have to worry about anything. Let him do the worrying. Follow him. The way he said it made it sound... right. I still hated him. I figured I always would.

He asked the question he was trying to get me to answer with his name, Dirg, "Who do you belong to?"

I answered, "I belong to Lucy Amora. I belong to myself."

It was more of a repetition by then. I don't know if I actually believed myself. I expected to hear the whip crack and more pain on my back. Instead, there were footsteps, and he was standing in front of me. He gently grasped my chin and tilted my face up to him. He knelt down in front of me and stroked my face with a soft touch, his eyes a deep, longing green.

"I don't like hurting you, Sunshine. Even if the pain is not real, I don't like how your face loses its usual glow, and you retreat into that shell. Make it stop, please. When you disobey, it hurts me as much as it does you."

His voice was a seductive whisper. He was drawing closer. His thin lips were only inches from mine, his eyes dark, predatory.

"Just give in, Sunshine. Be my pet."

I liked it, too much. I wanted our lips to touch. I wanted to let him own me. That desire scared me. I jerked back and spit, hitting him in the face. I got as far away from him as I could and curled into a ball to stop the shaking. I didn't want to cry in front of him, but the tears leapt unbidden to my eyes and trickled down my face. I would not sob. I would not sob.

I choked on a scream as his hands touched my back, but the pain disappeared as he ran them down to my waist.

"I'm so sorry, Sunshine. That was my fault. I told myself I would not fall for your beauty, but I failed. You are not a toy. You are a pet. Toys are only useful for their bodies. You're worth so much more. I will try not to do that again."

He ran his hands down my back again, but this time it eliminated no pain. It might have caused some. His hands stopped just under my shoulder blades, seemingly probing.

I didn't have the energy to try to get away, so I half-heartedly told him to get his hands off of me.

"I thought I felt..." He cursed vehemently.

I flinched as he poked a hard spot. Plus, I'd never heard him cuss.


"Stand up."

I groaned and stood.

"Take your shirt off."

I tensed. "No! You just said-"

"This has nothing to do with your beauty. I think. I need to check your back."

"For what?"

"Just trust me, Sunshine."

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