Home > Dollars (Dollar #2)(7)

Dollars (Dollar #2)(7)
Author: Pepper Winters

He didn’t notice my annoyance.

His graphite dress shoes clicked on the white tiled floor as he strode forward. His dark grey t-shirt and faded jeans didn’t match the formal footwear.

My eyes drifted to his muscular legs then to the floor where the grout lines and colour were a little too reminiscent to Master A’s. I knew it was due to sanitation rather than personal preference, but it still made me queasy.

“I feel the same way about white as you do.” His voice borrowed whatever power his body had over mine, slipping through my ears. “It’s a disgusting colour and will be abolished from my home.”

Hating the persuasiveness he had over my eardrums, I hunched into myself.

He thinks he can read my body language so easily.

It only made me want to hide deep, deep inside when only minutes ago I wanted to look him in the eyes and thank him for all that he’d done. To grab his hand and squeeze so hard with a thousand appreciations.

“How is your tongue?”

The urge to press the agonising muscle onto my palate to see if it was still intact made me wince. The past hour on my own, I’d struggled not to touch it, inspect it. I wanted a mirror to see how close I’d come to being disabled for life.

“I take it it’s uncomfortable.”

You make me uncomfortable.

I had no way to ask him to leave. But I wanted him gone. I wasn’t emotionally or mentally equipped for him, his questions, or whatever future he’d already planned for me.

Can you go? For just a little while?

I stiffened at my rudeness and silently added, I’m grateful. Truly. But I’d also be grateful if you left me to rest in peace.

He chuckled, not seeing my message this time. “At least you still have a tongue.”

That’s true.

My annoyance at his high-handedness faded a little.

I pursed my lips, flinching as the bottom one cracked from whatever implements they’d used in surgery to keep my mouth open.

I’d grown used to tolerating men in my space even when I screamed for a moment alone—which was good seeing as Elder had no intention of leaving. If he was here to learn about me, to interrogate me for his pleasure, then I would do the same. I would catalogue and pay attention. I would try to figure out what he wanted before his lips opened to say it.

The smug way he crossed his arms antagonised me. “Do you intend to use it? Now you’re free?”

I’m free?

I shuffled higher in my pillows.

You mean you’ll let me heal and then take me back to London, to my mother, to university and cafes and the mundane normalness of everything I’ve missed?

He ran a hand through his hair. The sharpness of his jaw, depth of his eyes, and achingly dangerous presence intimidated me. He was the epitome of calculated and gorgeous. A man not to mess with. A killer never to disrespect. “I misspoke. I meant, now you’re free from him.” He towered over me, his shadow kissing every inch of my skin. “Not free in the general sense. You owe me, Pimlico. I told you I wasn’t the hero.”

Yes, but you did rescue me against your promise to forget me.

That was progress—if only small.

“Do you need anything?” He paced around the end of my bed, his gaze landing on everything in an assessing distrustful way, as if monitoring an unseen threat.

If I did, I wouldn’t ask you.

Not because I had a grudge against being stolen (again), but because he’d already done too much.

He’d given me back my life. What more could I ask?

To free you, of course.

That had always been my end goal. For now though, I had to be satisfied with this change of events and contemplate whether I should fight him, submit to him, or bide my time and kill him.

I didn’t know what path I’d choose, but…he was right. I did owe him. And I didn’t want to owe him any more than I already did.

You could just end it—like the original plan.

The flutter of final freedom washed over me. Elder Prest might’ve changed my circumstances, but he was still a monster I had to survive. Would it be considered weak to take my own life now or still strong to prevent him from having it?

I’d existed with the idea of death for far too long to relinquish the whisper of everlasting sleep. Suicide was never a spineless option to me but my final hurrah. I wouldn’t give that up. Not yet.

“Are you tired? We’ve been at sea for a while; it’s almost dawn.” His eyes turned to sharp flint. “Are you hungry?”

His questions went unanswered.

The drip gave my body whatever sustenance it needed—keeping any tummy pangs at bay. Even if I were hungry, how would I eat? My tongue refused to move, and Michaels had warned me not to insert foreign objects into my mouth. No doubt that rule included food for the time being.

I glanced away, clicking the pen open and closed as Elder stopped pacing at the foot of my bed. “I suppose Michaels has already thought about the hunger and hydration issue.” He rubbed his jaw, his fingers scratching day old stubble. Indecision etched his handsome face. “In that case, I’ll let you sleep. I have a big day tomorrow and need to rest, too.”

Striding to the door, he narrowed his eyes in my direction. “I suggest you relax and let me take care of you. You’ll need your energy.”

My heart stopped siphoning blood, filling my veins with igloos.

What do you mean?

Energy for what?

The sudden tension in my muscles signalled another problem I’d become mildly aware of but was suddenly desperately uncomfortable.

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