For years, college student Devan Astor has penned erotic stories based on her dark fantasies, but when she's abducted, she is faced with the real terror of being at the mercy of a cruel stranger. She flees, but in the remote cabin where she takes refuge, will she encounter a danger even more frightening than the kidnapper who is still hunting her? At the end of her ordeal, will she be left scarred by the experiences that so closely match her own fantasies, or will she discover fulfillment she never imagined?
Warnings: This title contains graphic language, group, m/m, anal and threesome sex.
Word Count: 195,150
Kyraninse, Night Owl Reviews, 4.5/5 - REVIEWER TOP PICK!
"I really enjoyed ... (this) ... Not only is it remarkably executed but the psychological profiles of the characters are mesmerizing and their desires and needs sharply poignant... Varian manages to be descriptive without being cloying, her writing almost clean in its efficiency... I will look forward to Varian's works in the future."
Sandy, Dark Angel Reviews
"Ms. Krylov really pushes the envelope ... the story is very dark in some places, heartwarming in others. The plot is engrossing and the story drew me in so much, I just had to keep reading, despite, or maybe because of, the dark sensuality of the tale. Ms. Krylov delivers a tale of...sexual awakening. I found it thought provoking and deeply sexy."
Dawnie, Fallen Angel Reviews, 4/5 Angels
"From the start the raciness of the tale is heart stopping. The unusual turn of events will keep the reader guessing what will happen next. Nothing is what it seems…I couldn't put it down and the pages rolled by…Varian Krylov is an intense author that I will definitely be reading more of."
CHAPTER ONE: Little Girl Lost
She was just a girl then.
As fast, as hard as she could. On and on. She didn't know how long.
It hurt. Her heart pounded frighteningly fast and hard. Her lungs burned for air.
Her legs felt wobbly, like her bones were going soft. Roots and branches grabbed at her feet, clutched at her ankles. She stumbled, more and more often as exhaustion wore her down. As she slowed to a staggering walk, determined to continue, to get as far from that cabin as she possibly could, her face, her ears, her hands throbbed hot. She felt like throwing up.
But she plodded on. She didn't know the forest. Even if she did, in the dark of night, under the thick canopy of the trees, there was no moon, no constellations to guide her. She just focused on moving forward in as straight a line as possible, terrified of accidentally circling back to that place.
When the heat of exertion and the numbness of fear abandoned her, cold crept up her bare legs and caressed her under her thin blouse. Shivering convulsively she trudged forward as long as she could, stumbling in the dark as she tripped over uneven ground. After what seemed like hours she stopped, aching to rest and hoping that in the dark they couldn't track her.
Too worn out by other fears, her whole being focused on getting warm and evading capture, she thought nothing of insects or other nuisances as she gathered a huge mound of crisp brown and soft yellow leaves, concealing herself as she lay down for the night. The cold tormented her for a while, but it was defeated, eventually, by utter exhaustion.
When she awoke, stiff and aching from her forced march and uncomfortable bed, it was still the misty gray of early morning. A cacophony of birdsong swirled and enveloped her.
Standing, she panicked. Which direction had she come from? She circled around her bed of leaves in a widening spiral, desperate for signs of her own tracks from the night before, but on the forest floor, thickly littered with leaves, branches and pine cones, there was no sign of her footprints. Standing there, trying to decide what to do, every second she grew more terrified she'd hear a twig snap in the distance, or see some movement, then see the men emerge from the trees.
But then she thought she detected the faint sound of rushing water. She hadn't heard the sound the night before. Probably she'd been heading toward it all along. Her body sore and resentful, she set out in that direction.
For the first time she wondered if this was really happening. Her days with him had been too real to doubt. But now. Lost in the unfamiliar embrace of this forest. Her real life impossibly remote. Her tired legs and aching feet could not remember brief brisk walks across campus on smooth concrete and even brickwork; her hands, pained by the cold, did not seem the hands that tap danced over laptop letters, scurried pens over three-hole-punched pages in a desperate effort to keep pace with the sometimes inspired, sometimes inane ramblings of a lecturing professor. Her little apartment, warm and familiar. Was she still that girl? That girl did not have her memories. That girl was innocent.
What if they'd tracked her? Maybe they were just a few hundred yards behind. She forced herself, against stiffening cold and aching muscles, to move quickly.
She worked her way nearer and nearer to the sound of water, until a large river came into view. Not yet swollen with the heavy rains of winter, it ran low and narrow, wide strips of rocky riverbed exposed on either side of its flow.
If she could bear the cold, and walk in the river among the large stones, they wouldn't be able to tell which direction she had gone. With any luck, they would turn back, discouraged. If they did try to follow her, at least the odds were even that they would go in the wrong direction. With no sense for which direction the nearest road or town lay, she decided to head downstream. At least it would be easier than climbing uphill.
She slipped and scrabbled down the steep bank, over the sand to the stony ground just next to the river, then, determined, bracing herself for a shock, stepped into the frigid water. Eager to meet this visitor, the river pushed through the accommodating seams of her boots, seeping into the weave of her socks, sheathing her feet and ankles in its squishy iciness. She gasped a deep breath and turned downriver.
On and on she went, her legs growing numb with cold. Only the warm blood forced by her determined walking kept her limbs from paralyzing with stiffness. She stuck to the edge of the river, where it was slow and shallow, just far enough in to be sure that she would not leave imprints in sand untouched by the river's flow. Now and then, though, she came to a fallen tree trunk, or a shrub growing thickly from the muddy bank, and she was forced to hoist herself up and over, or to move farther toward the center of the water, where the water flowed perilously fast.
And then something disastrous--or fortuitous--happened. As she carefully navigated her way around one of these bushes that seemed to have grown just to block her way to safety, the stones under her feet shifted. Her numb legs failed to restore her balance. She clawed desperately, trying to catch hold of the branches that had driven her to the precarious center of the river, but the current swept her feet from under her and carried her away.
No sensation. Only terror. Struggling to keep her head above the roiling water, to take a breath each time she found air, she was swept down with the ever more violent current. Hope that she would get a foothold, brake her speeding descent, evaporated. She was going to drown. But instinctively she continued to struggle, gulping air each time she managed to break the surface of the water.
The world dropped away. She was flying. No, falling.
She submerged, swimming, flailing, disoriented. Suffocating. Then surface. No longer immersed in a watery world, she thrashed between water and air. She gasped a desperate breath, hoping for air, not a fatal inhale of river water. Then, panting, she sucked in one grateful breath after another.
Now she was drifting with the sleepy current of the suddenly deep, fat river. Above her was the violent cascade of water that had spilled her into this placid basin. Trembling with cold, her body exhausted and heavy, she struggled toward shore. She dragged herself onto the dry, rocky riverbed, not noticing how the rough terrain was raking her skin.
So tired. But not safe, there, in the open. Sharp rocks and rough branches poked her palms, her bare shins and knees as she crawled into the woods and collapsed in a patch of tall grass where the afternoon sun distractedly considered warming her. For a while she struggled to stay awake, but finally succumbed to sleep, weak with hunger and fatigue.
In the early morning she rose from her grassy bed, shuddering with cold, slow with stiffness, pained by hunger. It didn't matter. The disturbing images that kept coming to her, seeping back into her consciousness a moment after she had forced them out, like dry sand stubbornly sliding back into a freshly dug hole, they didn't matter. She pushed on, downriver. Soon, not too far, she would find a town. Food. A phone. Help.
To distract herself from the insistent pangs of hunger that were tormenting her, in her effort to diligently keep the three days and nights she had spent with that man far from her mind, she recounted to herself the stories from favorite novels. The sad, impossible love of The Sun Also Rises. Jane Eyre's rise from the cruelty of her wards and the orphanage, her employment with the dangerous, seductive, mysterious Rochester. Her wit, her will. Or the winged, Amazonian beauty of Nights of the Circus, her sword, the Siberian train wreck, elephants dying in the snow. Yes, Fevvers. Devan wanted those wings, that strength now. To fly away home. She felt so weak.
When thoughts of hunger penetrated the force field of imagination she was trying to sustain, she thought of what she might be able to find to eat. She had seen no berries or edible-looking plants growing in the woods. Probably there were fish in the river, but how would she start a fire? It wasn't like there'd been a long dry spell.. The October woods were pervasively and perpetually damp, and soggy leaves and twigs didn't make very promising kindling. And her hunger hadn't reached such a pitch that eating raw fish pulled from the water seemed reasonable. She smiled as she got an image of Gollum, soul destroyed and body transformed by perverted desire, tearing with teeth into the soft white bellies of flopping fish. Maybe that would be the next step in her transformation? She half laughed. Then her delirious mirth evaporated.
She pushed on, promising herself a glutinous meal of hot grilled cheese on sourdough, onion rings, salad, apple juice and ice cream that would be given to her by the sympathetic waitress--Alice in a bubblegum pink shirt dress with a starched white apron--who would call her 'honey' and look at her with eyes filled with maternal concern at the inevitable small town diner she would find, later today, tomorrow at the latest, in the town that had to be not too much farther down the river.
But before a town came into view darkness closed in on her, hiding everything before her in an ever-shrinking distance. When she could no longer see where she was walking she made another bed of leaves, convinced it had kept her a little warmer that first night. Promising herself that it had. She laid down and, in a short while, fell asleep.
But a sound woke her. Heart pounding, she listened. Again. The snap of a twig, the crunch of leaves. Maybe it was an animal. That thought gave her no fear. She would be relieved to see a bear lumber out from the woods. Just please. Not Conrad. She lay there, absolutely still, hoping it was not him, begging fate that if it were him, that she would be hidden by the leaves she had mounded up over herself for warmth.
Please, please, please, she mentally pleaded with nothing.
Footfalls--unmistakable now--padding nearer and nearer upon the thick detritus of the forest floor. But was it a person?
Be still. Be quiet. Breathing tiny, careful breaths so no person or animal could hear the air moving in and out of her, so an inhale or an exhale would not raise or lower her chest so much that it disturbed and rustled the leaves entombing her.
Closer and closer the steps came. A person. Another step. Another. The next step would fall upon her, giving her away. Her heart was hammering in her breast. Each tiny breath released with tremendous restraint threatened to get away from her and burst out in a powerful shriek of fear. The footfalls ceased. Silence. More silence. Had she imagined it? Adrenaline was pulling her chest apart.
"Get up, Devan."
No. No, no, no. It can't be. It can't. If I stay perfectly still, he'll go. He'll think it's just a pile of leaves and go.
"Come on, Devan. Get up."
A hand plunged into the leaves, grasped her arm, and hoisted her to her feet. Then let go. As she stood wavering there in the darkness it seemed to her that the fear-fuelled adrenaline pounding though her might literally destroy her. She had never felt more hopeless or more lost. But she did not cry.
His voice, as always, cool. Soft. Seductive. Tinged with a note of amused derision. She knew that moment, just hearing the sound of his voice vibrating with her name, that he had her.
He stepped near. She did not step back. As in her recurrent childhood nightmare, wherein she would find her feet bound inside giant concrete blocks as a terrifying monster approached, she could not move. He reached out. She did not recoil. He took her face in his hands, put his lips by her ear.
"You must know," he whispered, his words coming slow, "how disappointed I am that you left before I'd fucked you. You were a naughty girl, Devan, running off before I'd had a go at that tender virgin pussy."
He let her go and took a step back. The clouds above parted and the full moon's light shone down upon the two of them. To her eyes his face had taken on the aspect of a demon, an angel cast from heaven who claims dominion of a dark underworld, thriving on the torture of flawed souls.
"Now, Devan. Take off your blouse."
Not only was she incapable of running, but she felt unable to resist his command. As if he had some power over her, could control her movement through his will. Maybe it was her fatigue, the fact that she had not eaten in days. She pulled the blouse over her head, then, instinctively, covered her breasts with her arms.
With a restrained but powerful grip he took her wrists in his hands and forced her arms to her sides. He stared at her bare breasts with a look closer to cruelty than desire, forcing her to feel her nakedness. Then he undid his pants and took out his cock. As he began stroking it he said quietly, with malice,
"Take off your skirt."
Unable to take her eyes off what he was doing to himself, unable to stop thinking what he was going to do to her, in a very few moments, with that, she unzipped her skirt, letting it fall by her feet. His cock stiffening in his hand, he said,
"And now, pull down your knickers. All the way off."
She pulled them down to her ankles, stepping out of them and the skirt.
"Stand up so I can look at you."
Tending his erection he looked at her. Her face, full of fear and violated modesty. Her tits, a surreal blue-white in the moonlight, dark nipples erect in the cold night air. Her stomach, swelling and caving with her panicked, rapid breaths. Her hairless pubis, the beginning of her slit vulnerably naked, invitingly visible. Legs held defensively close together. His hand abandoned his carefully cultivated erection long enough to pull off his shirt. She was surprised by how muscular he looked undressed. In his clothes he'd always seemed thinner. The realization that he was strong, physically, redoubled her fear.
"Are you wet?" he asked.
She pretended not to understand.
"Yes, love. Is your pussy wet?"
Unbearable humiliation twining endlessly with her fear.
"No." A bare whisper.
"Check for me, and see."
"Put your finger in your pussy, darling, and tell me if you're wet."