Chapter 4: Kiara
I took most of my willpower to control the desire I felt staring up at Matias, The Savage. The pictures I'd seen of him and the stories I'd heard did not do him justice one bit.
The scars on his face were a shade or two lighter than his tan skin. Seeing the scars this up close and personal made me yearn to know what the real story was even more than before.
Despite my reasons for being here, I couldn't deny my attraction to him. Everything about him from the way he moved like a dancer when fighting, to his gruff voice with a very slight accent, to how he was looking me over right now, called to something deep inside.
When he reached for me, my automatic reaction was to lean into his hand which made me flinch back in horror. I'd never yearned for someone's touch the way I did for his. I could tell by the look on his face that he thought I'd moved away from him was because I was afraid or horrified, which worked for the damsel in distress image I wanted to put on for him anyway.
"Do not be afraid of me," he said in a low voice that made me swallow back a pleased whimper. "I won't hurt you." He reached past my head and began to untie the gag the traffickers had given me. Once it was loose I moved my jaw around to ease the tension and wet my mouth.
"Isn't that basically the same thing you just said to him?" my voice was hoarse from misuse, and I nodded at the dead man to my side.
"Not at all. I told him it wouldn't hurt. It didn't. You, however," he said before winding an arm around my waist and lifting my tied wrists from the hook I'd been hanging from, "I specifically said I wouldn't hurt."
My body burned where it was pressed up against his. My breath was short, my arms pressed against his broad chest as he held me up off the ground. His midnight eyes stared unflinchingly into mine, then flicked down to my lips when my tongue came out to graze them. I saw desire flare in his eyes, and an answering flame lit inside me. I tamped it down savagely, needing to act like a helpless victim and not a woman consumed with lust.
I let fake tears start to fill my eyes, something I had down perfectly before I was 10. My chin wobbled, and he started to look a little alarmed.
"Thank you so much for saving me," I said in a timid voice that cracked. "Those men were horrible. I can't imagine what they would have done next."
His face turned murderous at the thought before he pulled me tighter into his arms. I buried my face in his chest to hide my grin, shoulders shaking delicately like I was crying when in reality I was trying not to laugh at how easy this was.
"I've got to find the others," he said in a growl. I straightened my face and looked up at him, eyelashes wet with my tears. He shoved a hand in his hair, staring at me up and down. "Stay right behind me unless I tell you differently."
"Yes, yes of course." I nodded frantically. He turned and I followed after I made sure he couldn't see me deliver a swift kick to the balls of the whiny idiot who'd tried to touch me. Sure he was dead, but it made me feel better at least.
I tiptoed behind Matias, knowing that I was going to have to be careful to not let him see what I was really capable of. We got down the stairs with no problems, and he stopped to turn to me.
"I need you to go outside and find a safe place to hide while I take care of the last men."
I nodded like I was going to do just that, snorting on the inside at him telling me what to do like I would be a liability. Granted, he had no idea that I could hold my own even against someone like him, but it still made me bristle with indignation. I headed towards the front door, going out and shutting it quietly before I ducked over to the side window and peeked through, waiting until I saw him disappear through the basement door before I went back inside and followed him down.
The sounds of a fight were already loud and clear by the time I made my way down the stairs. I paused at the bottom, peeking around and watching with fascination as Matias danced around the two men, his face fierce and dark as he focused on the both of them at once.
It was difficult to tear my eyes away from him, but I managed to do so in order to take in the girls chained to the walls and covered in filth. Some watched the fight with fear, some with fire in their eyes. Some girls didn't even look up, and those were the ones I worried about the most. Who knows how long they had been here, how much they'd been put through. I couldn't even imagine being in their position.
I crept from behind the wall and Matias instantly looked up, his eyes full of fury as they took a second to glance at me before he went back to the fight. The two men hadn't seen me, so I made my way towards the girl nearest me. She looked to be about fifteen, her long hair matted and dull from lack of washing. I could barely even tell that her hair was a dark red color with all the dirt covering it.
I made a noise of disgust in my throat, and the girl flinched away, her wide blue eyes full of distrust.
"I'm here to help, I swear." My voice was soft so as not to draw attention from the men. I glanced toward them, noticing that one was bleeding out on the basement floor, while the other panted with exertion, still trying to fend off Matias.
I looked back to the girl to see her studying me. "The last woman that said that ended up dead." Her voice was scratchy, from lack of use or from screaming so much I couldn't tell.
I let a dangerous laugh escape me. "No one's going to be killing me anytime soon." Something in my face or voice must have assured her, because she relaxed, even letting a tiny smile twitch at her lips.
A squelching sound and a loud yell sounded through the basement and I whipped my head around to see Matias violently drawing back a knife from the second man's chest. I barely restrained myself from jumping Matias' bones when he turned around to pin me with his gaze, blood speckling him from face to feet.
Something about his wild, brutal vibe made my panties soaking wet. A man who could handle knives the way he did only turned me on since knives were a favorite tool of mine as well.
"I thought I told you to wait for me outside," he growled furiously.
"You did. I just wanted to help." I kept my voice small and as innocent as possible. I looked up at him with pleading in my eyes, glancing around at the girls around us before looking back up to him. He pinched his nose in frustration, but his shoulders relaxed so I knew I'd won this round.
"Fine. But next time, I need you to do exactly what I say, or you could get both of us into deep shit."
"Yes, sir." I saw his pupils widen at my words, and I logged that reaction away in my mind for future reference with satisfaction. "How do we get these girls free?"
He turned back to the men, patting them down and looking for something. He made a triumphant noise before turning back to me with a set of keys. Tossing them to me, he said "Let them out. I'm going to take one last look around before I take you out of this place. Wait for me here."
He said the last part with a fierceness that brooked no argument. I was already trying keys to figure out which ones freed the girls when I heard him going upstairs.
I worked quickly, passing keys out to the first girls I let out so they could try them on more of the locks so they were all out faster. Once they were all free, they huddled together against one of the walls. Even the girls who before had had dead looks on their face were now looking at me with hope in their eyes.
"Girls, listen to me very carefully. You never saw me or that man here today. The men guarding you all fought and killed each other, for reasons unknown. When the last man tried to claim one of you, unchaining you from the wall, you had a last burst of strength that surprised him long enough for you to knock him out with a nearby object, putting him down for the count. You were able to free each other and escape, but you're not sure if that man died from his wound or not. Do you understand?"
They all nodded frantically, some murmuring affirmatives in a broken voice. The redheaded girl I talked to before moved forward. "Who are you?"
I smiled, but it was not a purely friendly one. There was danger in my smile, and these girls had been through enough hell to recognize it. "You can call me Angel. Everyone else does."
I heard heavy footsteps pounding down the stairs, and I put my finger to my mouth in a quiet signal, winking at them before turning around.
Matias rounded the wall and stalked towards our group, stopping in front of me and looking over the girls behind me. I could practically feel them shrinking back from his gaze, and the protective mama bear in me raised her hackles.
"Back off a little, would ya? You're scaring them." He raised an eyebrow at my tone, but I only glared at him. He rolled his eyes, taking a couple steps back and relaxing his body so as not to be so threatening.
"I don't hurt women or children. Ever. You don't know me, and I understand if you don't believe me." His voice was soft, unlike anything I'd heard before. It was calming, and his accent was not as obvious. I could feel the air around the group of girls warm just a bit, and I couldn't help the tightening in my chest.
"My companion and I are leaving now. Use one of the men's cell phones to call for help." Matias looked at me and motioned for me to come with him. I turned back to the girls and gave them an encouraging smile and whispered for their ears only.
"Don't let what happened here break you. Use the hurt, the anger, the tears, to make yourselves stronger." With those last words, I followed Matias up the stairs and out the front door. We walked behind the building I knew he'd been watching from to a car that was hidden in the shadows.
"Get in," he said in a hard voice.
"Yes, sir," I said in a nervous voice. Fake, of course, like most of my demeanor with him had been so far. I watched him swallow hard out of the corner of my eye as I hurried around to the passenger side. He got in as well, and started the car before peeling out of there like a mad man. I bit my lip to hold in the whoop of excitement.
"You realize that you're coming with me, yes?" His accent was slightly thicker now that he had that growl back in his voice, and I couldn't help the small shiver of pleasure that ran through me.
"Yes, I figured that out."
His jaw clenched, and he threw a look at me. "Why aren't you fighting me? Protesting at being kidnapped again? Don't I frighten you?"
I chewed on my lip, wondering what I should reveal. "Yes, you scare me." Not completely untrue. Just not for the reasons he was probably thinking.
I let out a sorrowful sigh. "I have nowhere else to go. No one to turn to. And if, like you said, you don't hurt women or children, then I'm probably safer with you then I ever was out on the streets."
He drove in silence, and I let the quiet hang there between us for the rest of the drive. Eventually we pulled into the driveway of a house that was a couple hours away from the house he'd taken me from.
The simple house was in a secluded area, not one I recognized. He turned off the car and faced me. The weight of his gaze forced me to turn and look at him, my expression carefully blank.
"I've never brought anyone here," he said. "I'm not even sure why I brought you here instead of the safe house I have hidden away like I originally planned."
I stayed silent, keeping my surprise to myself. "Why did you take me in the first place?"
He searched my face before turning back to face front, and gripped the steering wheel tight in his hands. "Because I've lost my goddamn mind."
With that, he opened his door and slammed it shut, making me jump just a little. I hurriedly opened my own door and followed him inside his house.
This might be even easier than I'd hoped, I thought to myself. Pleased with today's outcome, I steeled myself to figuring out the next step in my plan.