“Good afternoon, my sweet.”
My skin shivered as Mr Brown stroked my arm. I stared stonily out of the window. The day had seemed to lose its sunshine, yet I knew the sky was as blue as ever.
Gritting my teeth, I transferred my gaze back to my tormentor. My stomach roiled. His pale blue eyes seemed to devour me. Taut, white skin covered his thin, angular face, and made his eyes more stark, more cruel.
Could I really do this?
“Would you care for a glass of wine, before we, er, get down to business?”
Mr Brown’s sibilant, serpentine hiss frightened me more than his unwelcome touch. I nodded numbly and accepted the wine. Manners had deserted me.
He relaxed back in his plush, padded armchair, sipping from his crystal glass. As his gaze roved freely over my naked body, his tongue darted out to moisten thin, colourless lips. In the ensuing silence, my heart thudded so loudly in my chest, I felt sure he could hear it.
“You know, my dear, I was hoping for a more…now, what would be the word?…a more joyful union than what I now anticipate will occur.” His sharp, small teeth rested on his lower lip in a travesty of a smile. “Your beautiful face is quite pale.” His eyes lowered to my chest. Again his tongue darted out.
Something inside me shifted. Maybe the wine had given me courage. “Mr Brown,” I snapped, glaring into those cold, blue eyes, “this bargain, which I have agreed to, involves my body only. Blackmail won’t entitle you to any joy.”
He stood, eager now. I wished I hadn’t spoken. My revulsion, my hate, my weakness empowered him. “Then,” he whispered, “let the game begin.”
There was a loud knock on the door.
(My words were serpentine, sunshine, and joyous.)