“Please, Julian,” I whisper in defeat, slumping in his arms. “Please, stop . . .” I know I’m begging for mercy from a man who has none. He’s murdering Jake in front of my eyes, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.
My captor lets the beating proceed for another minute before he releases me and pulls out his phone. I stare at him, trembling from head to toe. I don’t even dare hope.
Julian quickly types in a text. On the screen, I see Jake’s assailant pausing and reaching into his pocket.
Then he stops completely and leaves Jake’s room.
Jake is left lying on the floor, covered in blood. I remain glued to the screen, needing to know that he is alive. After a minute, I hear his groan and see him getting up. He hobbles toward the house phone, moving like an old man instead of an athletic young guy.
And then I hear him calling 911.
I sink to the floor and bury my face in my hands.
I know that my life will never be my own again.
When I wake up the next morning, Julian is gone again.
I don’t really remember what happened after I collapsed in Julian’s office yesterday. The rest of the day is fuzzy in my memory. It’s like my brain had switched off, unable to process the violence I had witnessed. I think I vaguely recall Julian picking me up off the floor and bringing me to the shower. He must’ve washed me and bandaged my feet because they’re wrapped in gauze this morning and hurting a lot less when I walk.
I’m not sure if he had sex with me last night. If he did, then he must’ve been unusually gentle because I don’t have any soreness this morning. I do remember sleeping with him in my bed, with his large body curved around mine.
In some ways, what happened simplifies things. When there’s no hope, when there’s no choice, everything becomes remarkably clear. The fact of the matter is that Julian holds all the cards. I’m his for as long as he wishes to keep me. There’s no escape for me, no way out.
And once I accept that fact, my life becomes easier. Before I know it, I have been on the island for nine days.
Beth tells me so over breakfast this morning.
I’ve grown to tolerate her presence. I have no choice—without Julian there, she’s my only source of human interaction. She feeds me, clothes me, and cleans after me. She’s almost like my nanny, except she’s young and sometimes bitchy. I don’t think she’s forgiven me fully for trying to bash her head in. It hurt her pride or something.
I try not to bug her too much. I leave the house during the day, spending most of my time on the beach or exploring the woods. I come back to the house for meals and to pick up a new book to read. Beth told me Julian will bring me more books when I’m done with the hundred or so that are currently in my room.
I should be depressed. I know that. I should be bitter and raging all the time, hating Julian and the island. And sometimes I do. But it takes so much energy, constantly being a victim. When I’m lying in the hot sun, absorbed in a book, I don’t hate anything. I just let myself get carried away by some author’s imagination.
I try not to think about Jake. The guilt is almost unbearable. Rationally, I know Julian is the one who did this, but I can’t help feeling responsible. If I had never gone out with Jake, this would’ve never happened to him. If I hadn’t approached him during that party, he wouldn’t have been savagely beaten.
I still don’t know what Julian is or how he’s able to have such a long reach. He’s as much of a mystery to me today as he’s ever been.
Maybe he’s in the Mafia. That would explain the thugs he has in his employ. Of course, he could simply be a wealthy eccentric with sociopathic tendencies. I truly don’t know.
Sometimes I cry myself to sleep at night. I miss my family, my friends. I miss going out and dancing at a club. I miss human contact. I’m not a loner by nature. Back home, I was always in touch with people—Facebook, Twitter, just hanging out with friends at the mall. I like to read, but it’s not enough for me. I need more.
It gets so bad that I try talking to Beth about it.
“I’m bored,” I tell her over dinner. It’s fish again. I learned that Beth catches it herself near the cove on the other side of the island. This time, it’s with mango salsa. It’s a good thing I’m a seafood fan because I get a lot of it here.
“You are?” She seems amused. “Why? Don’t you have enough books to read?”
I roll my eyes. “Yes, I still have seventy or so left. But there’s nothing else to do . . .”
“Want to help me fish tomorrow?” she asks, giving me a mocking look. She knows she’s not my favorite person, and she fully expects me to turn her down immediately. However, she doesn’t realize the extent to which I need human interaction.
“Okay,” I say, obviously surprising her. I’ve never been fishing, and I can’t imagine it’s a particularly fun activity, especially if Beth is going to be snarky the entire time. Still, I’d do just about anything to break the routine at this point.
“Okay, then,” she says. “The best time to catch these fuckers is right around dawn. Think you’re up for it?”
“Sure,” I say. I normally hate waking up early, but I get so much sleep here that I’m sure it won’t be too bad. I probably sleep close to ten hours at night and also catch an occasional nap in the afternoon sun. It’s kind of ridiculous, really. My body seems to think I’m on vacation at some relaxing retreat. There are apparently perks to not having internet or other distractions; I don’t think I’ve felt so well-rested in my entire life.