the lesser sin

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Summary

ONE LAST KILL…. He murdered her sister and the courts set him free. Now just one thing stands between CIA sniper Hanna Braver and the justice she demands: Her Catholic Faith. Hanna Braver is a CIA sniper in the service of her country. A devout Catholic, she prays for forgiveness for every enemy life she takes. But when the judicial system bends the rules to acquit her sister’s killer, she crosses the line and seeks from God permission to carry out the death sentence he so richly deserves. For the sake of her immortal soul, her childhood priest denies her absolution for a sin she has yet to commit. Furious with the priest, with God, and the Church, she ignores the priest’s counsel and sets out to avenge her sister. CIA Deputy Director Cole is a man of dubious ethics and lofty ambition. When Hanna’s quarry disappears, her options run out, and she is loathed to seek the aid of Cole, a most bitter adversary. Cole agrees to assist, but his price is high. Hanna meets his demands, and once Cole fulfills his end of the bargain, Hanna is free to hunt down the man that butchered her sister. But Cole has additional use of Hanna’s skills. He is not done with her yet.

Genre:
Thriller / Other
Author:
DB Corey
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
90
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

CHAPTER 1

Consciousness found her, and pain followed. A twisting, torqueing, unnatural pain that ripped through both shoulders. Molly pushed through the fog, coaxing her eyes open to dim surroundings, and found she stared at darkish carpet she’d never seen before.

Her chin lay against her chest and her blonde hair fell long about her face, and a string of drool slung from her lower lip. Her first thought was for her dress, the little black number she wore for special occasions. She took care with all her things, but especially this one. She didn’t want to soil it, being her favorite, so she shifted to spit the drool; a move that brought agony on an unprecedented scale. Her mind spinning, she worked to quiet the anguish surging through her, rolling her head with care to recover what senses she could while avoiding the fire of additional pain. This was far worse than any nightmare that ever woke her.

Had she been working out? Maybe that was it. Maybe she overdid it and lost consciousness. Maybe she hurt herself when she fell and was just coming to. That would explain the pain, but why was she in her evening attire? And her exercises didn’t include suspending from anything, so why was she hanging by her wrists?

She managed to look up, gritting her teeth and bearing the pain. Chains? She had no chains in her apartment. Her ceilings were plaster, and as near as she could tell, the one above her was concrete.

Concrete, she thought. The word carried troubling significance. Where was she?

The confusion of thought began to lift, one layer, then another. Other senses began turning on. The chill of the air against her skin. The smell of an old basement. The dull clank of metal breaking a silence she almost felt.

Fractured pieces of an image began sliding together. She remembered a bar and music, and people laughing having fun. She waited for someone. Her boyfriend. But there was a man, and a mishap. He spilled something on her. A drink. Diet soda. Her diet soda. Mustn’t drink alcohol because of the baby. He apologized and bought her another.

Her eyes focused now, but she saw little. Water. She wanted water. She tried to free herself, endure the pain, but only spun in a slow circle. She called out, and when no one answered, tried to free herself again.

Minutes passed, at least she thought them minutes, before a screeching noise broke the silence. Metal against metal, like the wrecked driver’s door of her old Nova. Only heavier. Lights came up. They hurt her eyes. Footsteps echoed all around her and her spirits rose, but her new hope was short lived.

She remembered him.


The man didn’t speak at first. A creature of habit, he stepped to a wooden workbench and walked through a series of tasks to prepare for his evening with her. He made ready his tools: the monitor, the video camera, the automotive battery and jumper cables; and the straight razors. Satisfied all was in order, he turned to her.

“I’d ask if you are comfortable, Molly,” he said, his voice soft, almost pleasant. “But I know you are not. I’m sorry to say, this is as comfortable as you are apt to feel during your time here.”

She lifted her head as high as pain allowed. “Who are you?” she asked. “Where am I? Why am I here?”

“You are not allowed to ask questions, Molly. You will do as I tell you or you will be punished. Do you understand?”

“You’ll go to prison for this. My boyfriend is—”

His fist came across her jaw before she spoke another word. Blood sprayed from her mouth into the blackness beyond the light that filled the space around them. The grunt that came from her was like that from a terrible fall.

“No questions or threats, Molly.”

Molly glared at the man as she licked blood from her lip. “My boyfriend will find me,” she warned. “He will send you to prison.”

“Did you really think he would leave his wife, jeopardize his position, for the likes of you?”

The defiance she felt drained as she paled.

“Why…. Why would.… What?”

He delivered another blow to Molly’s face, this one just below her cheekbone. The swelling was immediate.

“I told you. No questions.”

The man began unbuttoning his shirt.

“I am wondering how you justify your behavior, considering the teachings of your faith,” he continued, shedding his shirt one muscular shoulder at a time. “You are a religious woman. Catholic, I believe. And yet you are a whore. How do you qualify the disparity?”

“I am not a whore.”

“You slept with a married man.”

“I made a mistake. That’s not a sin. How do you know all this? Who the hell are you?”

His open hand to her face rang through the emptiness.

“Really? Adultery is not a sin?”

Molly said nothing.

“You are to answer when I ask you a question.”

“I am not married.”

“You’re splitting hairs. He is, you knew, and slept with a man out of wedlock. That’s a sin in your Catholic faith, is it not?”

Molly did not answer. The man hit her again, harder than before, knocking loose a tooth. Molly spit blood.

“Answer me.”

Defiance shown in Molly’s eyes and she said nothing.

“That was a question, Molly.”

The man raised his open hand again, slowly this time.

YES!” she cried. “Yes … it’s a sin.”

“Yes, it is. And that makes you a whore, does it not?”

Molly glared but held her tongue. The man balled a fist and hit her again, driving her face into her chest. Dazed, her lip split and bleeding, she whispered, “Yes … I am a whore.”

“There, is it not better to admit the truth about one’s self? They say confession is good for the soul. Perhaps now your God will accept you when we are finished here.”

With those words, what was once surreal was no longer so. Molly began to understand that this was no freak using her as a play toy, or someone who would have his fun and then release her.

“Would you care for some water?”

Molly nodded, instinct telling her that water meant survival. The man held a bottle of water to her lips and she drank, the pain in her face of lower importance than her thirst. The man unbuckled his belt and finished undressing. He was aroused and Molly turned away in disgust. He smirked with amusement as he reached behind him to the workbench and powered his equipment. The monitor blinked to life and the Record light on the camcorder burned red.

Molly saw on the monitor that she was in some sort of three-walled chamber strung up by her wrists, and as the dire nature of her circumstances hit with full force, her heart began to race as adrenalin poured into her system. Her eyes flittered about, fixing on nothing but seeing everything as she searched for an escape. Screaming to be released, she thrashed against her bonds as the horrors of things to come seized her.

The man retrieved something from the workbench, turned, and showed it to Molly. It shone with a mirror-like finish, reflecting the light.

“Be quiet, Molly.”

Her eyes widened at the sight of the straight razor, and she forced herself to remain calm—but it lasted only a moment. Every fiber of every muscle quivered and she fought to contain the surge welling up from her gut. Her cheeks inflated like balloons as she pressed split lips together to mute her whimpers, yet tiny sobs escaped with each excited breath. Her twisting and writhing threatened to rip her arms from their sockets as she summoned every ounce of strength to get away.

An iron grip clutched her jaw before the straight razor sliced through her little black dress, opening a shallow wound across the tops of her breasts. A heartbeat passed before a thin red line appeared and Molly saw her own blood. Her eyes grew wider still as she teetered at the edge of consciousness.

“I do not tolerate disobedience, Molly. You will obey me.” He took himself in hand and began stroking. “Remain quiet and do not look away,” he said, “or I will punish you.”

Tears streamed down Molly’s face and deep sobs signaled her submission.

“Please,” she begged. “My baby.”

The man paused his pleasuring.

“Just so you know, Molly….” He cradled her abdomen with both hands. “This little bastard is the reason you’re here.”

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