To my huge relief, he looks surprised. “Hate you? No, of course I don’t hate you, my pet.”
“Then why?” I ask again, determined to get some answers. “Why did you kidnap me and bring me here?”
He looks at me, his eyes impossibly blue against his tan skin. “Because I wanted you, Nora. I already told you that. And because I’m not a very nice man. But you already figured that out, didn’t you?”
I swallow and look down at the sand. He’s not even the least bit ashamed of his actions. Julian knows what he’s doing is wrong, and he simply doesn’t care.
“Are you a psychopath?” I don’t know what prompts me to ask this. I don’t want to make him angry, but I can’t help wanting to understand. Holding my breath, I look up at him again.
Thankfully, he doesn’t seem offended by the question. Instead, he looks thoughtful as he sits down on the towel next to me. “Perhaps,” he says after a couple of seconds. “One doctor thought I might be a borderline sociopath. I don’t check all the boxes, so there’s no definitive diagnosis.”
“You saw a doctor?” I don’t know why I’m so shocked. Maybe because he doesn’t seem like the type to go to a shrink.
He grins at me. “Yeah, for a bit.”
He shrugs. “Because I thought it might help.”
“Help you be less of a psychopath?”
“No, Nora.” He gives me an ironic look. “If I were a true psychopath, nothing could help that.”
“So then what?” I know I’m prying into some very personal matters, but I feel like he owes me some answers. Besides, if you can’t get personal with a man who just fucked you on the beach, then when can you?
“You’re a curious little kitten, aren’t you?” he says softly, putting his hand on my thigh. “Are you sure you really want to know, my pet?”
I nod, trying to ignore the fact that his fingers are only inches away from my bikini line. His touch is both arousing and disturbing, playing havoc with my equilibrium.
“I went to a therapist after I killed the men who murdered my family,” he says quietly, looking at me. “I thought it might help me come to terms with it.”
I stare at him blankly. “Come to terms with the fact that you killed them?”
“No,” he says. “With the fact that I wanted to kill more.”
My stomach turns over, and my skin feels like it’s crawling where Julian is touching me. He has just admitted to something so horrible that I don’t even know how to react.
As if from a distance, I hear my own voice asking, “So did it help you come to terms with it?” I sound calm, like we’re discussing nothing more tragic than the weather.
He laughs. “No, my pet, it didn’t. Doctors are useless.”
“You’ve killed more?” The numbness encasing me is fading, and I can feel myself beginning to shake.
“I have,” he says, a dark smile playing on his lips. “Now aren’t you glad you asked?”
My blood turns to ice. I know I should stop talking now, but I can’t. “Are you going to kill me?”
“No, Nora.” He sounds exasperated for a moment. “I’ve already told you that.”
I lick my dry lips. “Right. You’re just going to hurt me whenever you feel like it.”
He doesn’t deny it. Instead he gets up again and looks at me. “I’m going for a swim. You can join me if you like.”
“No, thanks,” I say dully. “I don’t feel like swimming right now.”
“Suit yourself,” he says, and then walks away, striding into the water.
Still in a state of shock, I watch his tall, broad-shouldered frame as he goes deeper into the ocean, his dark hair shining in the sun.
The devil does indeed wear a beautiful mask.
After Julian’s revelations on the beach, I don’t feel like asking any more questions for a while. I already knew I was being held by a monster, and what I learned today just solidifies that fact. I don’t know why he was so open with me, and that scares me.
At dinner, I mostly keep quiet, only answering questions posed directly to me. Beth is eating with us today, and the two of them are carrying on a lively conversation, mostly about the island and how she and I have been spending our time.
“So you’re bored?” Julian asks me after Beth tells him about my lack of interest in reading all the time.
I lift my shoulders in a shrug, not wanting to make a big deal of it. After what I learned earlier, I’d take boredom over Julian’s company any time.
He smiles. “Okay, I’ll have to remedy that. I’ll bring you a TV and a bunch of movies the next time I make a trip.”
“Thanks,” I say automatically, staring down into my plate. I feel so miserable that I want to cry, but I have too much pride to do it in front of them.
“What’s the matter?” Beth asks, finally noticing my uncharacteristic behavior. “Are you feeling okay?”
“Not really,” I say, gladly latching on to the excuse she gave me. “I think I got too much sun.”
Beth sighs. “I told you not to sleep on the beach mid-day. It’s ninety-five degrees out.”
It’s true; she had warned me about that. But my misery today has nothing to do with the heat and everything with the man sitting across the table from me. I know that when the dinner is over, he’s going to take me upstairs and fuck me again. Maybe hurt me.