In a weird way, it’s almost flattering, the way he’s so utterly focused on me, hanging on to my every word. The way his blue eyes are glued to my face. It’s as though he wants to really understand me, as though he truly cares. Even with Jake, I didn’t get the sense that I was anything more than a pretty girl whose company he enjoyed.

With Julian, I feel like I’m the most important thing in the world to him. I feel like I truly matter.

After dinner, he leads me upstairs to his bedroom. My heart begins to pound in fear and anticipation.

Like the other two nights, I know I won’t fight him. In fact, tonight I will go even further as part of my escape-by-seduction plan.

I will pretend to make love to him of my own free will.

As we walk into the room, I decide to brave a topic that has been nagging at the back of my mind. “Julian . . .” I ask, purposefully keeping my voice soft and uncertain. “What about protection? What if I get pregnant or something?”

He stops and turns toward me. There’s a small smile on his lips. “You won’t, my pet. You have that implant, don’t you?”

My eyes widen in shock. “How do you know about that?” The implant is a tiny plastic rod underneath my skin, completely invisible except for a small mark where it was inserted.

“I accessed your medical history before bringing you here. I wanted to make sure you don’t have any life-threatening medical conditions, like diabetes.”

I stare at him. I should feel furious at this invasion of my privacy, but I feel relieved instead. It seems that my kidnapper is quite considerate—and more importantly, not trying to impregnate me.

“And you don’t have to worry about any diseases,” he adds, understanding my unspoken concern. “I’ve been recently tested, and I have always used condoms in the past.”

I don’t know if I believe that. “Why aren’t you using them with me, then? Is it because I was a virgin?”

He nods, and there is a possessive gleam in his eyes. He lifts his hand and strokes the side of my face, making my heart beat even faster. “Yes, exactly. You’re completely mine. I’m the only one who’s ever been inside your pretty little pussy.”

My breath catches in my throat, and I feel a gush of liquid warmth between my thighs.

I can’t believe the strength of my physical response to him. Is this normal, that I get so aroused by someone I fear and despise? Is this why Julian was drawn to me at the club? Because he sensed this about me? Because he somehow knew about my weakness?

Of course, given my plan, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that he turns me on so much. It would be far worse if he disgusted me, if I couldn’t bear to have him touch me.

No, this is for the best. I can be the perfect little captive, obedient and responsive, slowly falling in love with my captor.

So instead of standing stiff and scared, I give in to my desire and lean a little into his hand, as though involuntarily responding to his touch.

Something like triumph briefly flashes in his eyes, and then he lowers his head, touching his lips to mine. His strong arms wrap around me, molding me against his powerful body. He’s fully aroused; I can feel the hard ridge of his erection against the softness of my belly. He’s stroking my mouth with his lips, his tongue. He tastes sweet, from the papaya we just had.

Fire surges through my veins, and I close my eyes, losing myself in the overwhelming pleasure of his kiss. My hands creep up to his chest, touch it shyly. I can feel the heat of his body, smell the scent of his skin—male and musky, strangely appealing. His chest muscles flex under my fingers, and I can feel his heart beating faster.

He backs me toward the bed, and we fall on it. Somehow my hands are buried in his thick, silky hair, and I’m kissing him back, passionately, desperately. I’m not thinking about my grand seduction plan—I’m not thinking at all.

He bites my lower lip, sucks it into his mouth. His hand closes around my right breast, kneads it, squeezes the nipple through the dual barrier of the bra and the dress. His roughness is perversely arousing, even though I should be frightened by it.

I moan, and he flips me over, onto my stomach. One of his hands presses me down, pushing me into the mattress, while the other one lifts my skirt, exposing my underwear.

And then he pauses for a second, looking at my butt, lightly stroking it with his large palm. “Such curvy little cheeks,” he murmurs. “So pretty in white.”

His fingers reach between my legs, feel the wetness there. I can’t help squirming at the light touch. I’m so turned on I just need a little bit more before I come.

He pulls down my underwear, leaving it hanging around my knees. His hand caresses my buttocks again, soothing me, arousing me. I’m trembling with anticipation.

Suddenly, I hear a loud smack and feel a sharp, stinging slap on my butt. I cry out, startled, more from the unexpected nature of the attack than from any real pain.

He pauses, rubs the area soothingly, and then does it again, slapping my right cheek with his open palm. Twenty slaps in quick succession, each one harder than the rest. It hurts; this is not a light, playful spanking.

He means to cause me pain.

Forgetting all about my resolution to play along, I begin to struggle, frightened. He holds me down easily, then transfers his attention to my other butt cheek, slapping it twenty times with equal force.

By the time he pauses, I’m sobbing into the mattress, begging him to stop. My backside feels like it’s burning, throbbing in agony.