We stay on the beach for the next two hours and then finally head back to the house.

This time, Julian is supposed to join me for dinner. Beth sets a table for us downstairs and prepares a meal of local fish, rice, beans, and plantains. It’s her Caribbean recipe, she tells me proudly.

“Are you having dinner with us?” I ask, watching as she carries the plates over to the table.

I’m showered and dressed in the clothes Beth provided for me. It’s another white lacy bra-and-panties set and a yellow dress with white flowers on it. On my feet, I’m wearing white high-heeled sandals. The outfit is sweet and feminine, very different from the jeans and dark tops I normally wear. It makes me look like a pretty doll.

I still can’t believe they’re letting me walk around the house freely. There are knives in the kitchen. I could steal one and use it on Beth at any point. I’m tempted, even though my stomach churns at the thought of blood and violence.

Perhaps I’ll do it soon, once I’ve had a chance to learn a bit more about this place.

I’m learning something interesting about myself. I apparently don’t believe in grand, but pointless gestures. A cool, rational voice inside me tells me that I need a plan, a way to get off the island before I try anything. Attacking Beth right now would be stupid. It could result in my being locked up or worse.

No, this is much better. Let them think I’m harmless. I stand a much greater chance of escape that way.

For the past hour, I’ve been sitting in the kitchen, watching Beth prepare food. She’s very good, very efficient. Spending time with her is distracting me from thoughts of Julian and the night to come.

“No,” she says, answering my question. “I’ll be in my room. Julian wants some alone time with you.”

“Why? Does he think we’re dating or something?”

“No kidding.” My tone is beyond sarcastic. “Why date when you can kidnap and rape instead?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Beth says sharply. “Do you really think he has to force women? Even you can’t be that naive.”

I stare at her. “You mean to tell me he doesn’t make a habit of stealing women and bringing them here?”

Beth shakes her head. “You’re the only person besides me who has ever been here. This island is Julian’s private sanctuary. Nobody knows it even exists.”

A chill runs down my spine at those words. “So why am I so lucky?” I ask slowly, my pulse picking up. “What makes me worthy of this great honor?”

She smiles. “You’ll find out someday. Julian will tell you when he wants you to know.”

I’m sick of all this ‘someday’ bullshit, but I know she’s too loyal to my captor to tell me anything. So I try to learn something else instead. “What did you mean when you said you owe him your life?”

Her smile fades and her expression hardens, her face settling into harsh, bitter lines. “That’s none of your business, little girl.”

And for the next ten minutes while she’s finishing setting the table, she doesn’t speak to me at all.

After everything is ready, she leaves me alone in the dining room to wait for Julian. I’m both nervous and excited. For the first time, I’m going to have a chance to interact with my captor outside the bedroom.

I have to admit to a kind of sick fascination with him. He frightens me, yet I’m unbearably curious about him. Who is he? What does he want from me? Why did he choose me to be his victim?

A minute later, he walks into the room. I’m sitting at the table, looking out the window. Before I even see him, I feel his presence. The atmosphere turns electric, heavy with expectation.

I turn my head, watching him approach. This time, he’s wearing a soft-looking grey polo shirt and a pair of white khaki pants. We could be having dinner at a country club.

My heart is beating rapidly in my chest, and I can feel blood rushing through my veins. I’m suddenly much more aware of my body. My breasts feel more sensitive, my nipples tightening underneath the lacy confines of my bra. The soft fabric of the dress brushes against my bare legs, reminding me of the way he touched me there. Of the way he touched me everywhere.

Warm moisture gathers between my thighs at the memory.

He comes up to me and bends down, giving me a brief kiss on the mouth. “Hello, Nora,” he says when he straightens, his beautiful lips curved in a darkly sensual smile. He’s so breathtaking that I’m unable to think for a moment, my mind clouded by his nearness.

His smile widens, and he walks over to sit down across the table from me. “How was your day, my pet?” he asks, reaching for a piece of fish and putting it on his plate. His movements are confident and oddly graceful.

It’s hard to believe that evil wears such a beautiful mask.

I gather my wits. “Why do you call me that?”

“Call you what? My pet?”

“Because you remind me of a kitten,” he says, his blue eyes glittering with some strange emotion. “Small, soft, and very touchable. You make me want to stroke you just to see if you will purr in my arms.”

My cheeks get hot. I feel flushed all over, and I hope my skin tone hides my reaction. “I’m not an animal—”

“Of course you’re not. I’m not into bestiality.”

“Then what are you into?” I blurt out, then cringe internally. I don’t want to make him mad. He’s not Beth. He scares me.