The Reluctant Journey Ch. 11byDarlin92©
Malia's head swam. She was very dizzy, very disoriented. She groaned in pain of the headache she could feel growing in strength. Everything was dark. Something was over her eyes, she couldn't open them. She also had some kind of gag in her mouth.
"Well, well, look who's awake." A menacing voice taunted. She suddenly remembered just how much danger she was in. Vincent Dutari had kidnapped her. She tried to move away from his voice. She realized her arms were tied behind her back, making her movements difficult and clumsy. The fear made her pulse race.
"Ah, ah, ah," Vincent mocked. "You just got here. You don't want to leave now. The party hasn't even begun yet." He laughed coldly. Malia had absolutely no control over the trembling of her bound muscles. She'd been taken again, except this time it wasn't Cain who had control over her, it was much worse. She needed to get out of here. She needed to get back home, before Vincent could do any of the horrible things he had planned for her.
"Who would've thought," Vincent was closer now, "That such a pretty little bitch," He ran his hand across her face, causing her to flinch away from him in disgust. He grabbed her jaw, holding her in place harshly. "Would turn out to be such a big fucking problem. I lost my job because of you, you little cunt!" His large fingers bit into the skin of her cheeks. "My wife left me. She took my son!" He let go only to slap her hard across her face, splitting her lip. The force of the blow caused her to fall back against the wall. She heard ringing in her ears and tasted blood.
"Durtari." A masculine voice from across the room said. "That's enough." He said it casually, but Vincent backed up. As Malia was trying to recover, the piece of cloth that covered her eyes was lifted. The room she was in was dim and small. It looked like a prison cell with a heavy wooden door instead of metal bars. A strong sense of deja vu hit her. This wasn't Milan manor though, this was where she would experience very real nightmares. She was sitting on a hard cot, the only piece of furniture in the room other than a disgusting bucket in the far corner that she didn't want to think about. She looked up and saw the second speaker. It was Mr. Denizen from the unit.
She was confused momentarily, then she remembered the way Cain had argued with the man. She'd thought it was a benign rivalry, apparently not.
"I have it on good authority that General Malcolm seems to have taken a liking to you, my sweet." Denizen said, confirming her suspicions. "That's unfortunate for you. Please don't take it personally. I have been waiting to even the score with Cain for a long time. I finally have the opportunity." He was gloating. Speaking to himself more than to her. Malia tried to shake her head in denial. Cain didn't want her, he wouldn't care. Unfortunately Denizen was too far gone to do anything but give her a pleased smile. "It seems your lover has made several enemies over the years, most recently Mr. Dutari here. You were simply caught in the crossfire my sweet. We're going to have to hurt you." Malia shook her head vehemently and felt tears run down her face. "I know, I know." He patted her shoulder in an attempt to comfort her and she viciously flinched away from him. He shrugged. "Now we're going to start off slow. We're going to give Cain a buildup until the grand finale." He walked away from Malia and turned to Dutari. "Start off with the bullwhip. It'll give us some nice dramatic pictures. Nothing else Dutari, not yet, I mean it." Vincent raised his hands in mock surrender, giving an exaggerated innocent expression. "And Dutari," Vincent looked at the man who was clearly in charge of this horrific nightmare. "Make sure to break the skin." He said coldly before he left the room.
Cain felt like he was standing on that icy cliff again, looking down at the water with fear paralyzing him. Unfortunately he wasn't drunk like he had been that night, having expelled the alcohol he'd drank into his trash can. Now he could feel everything. Tristan was in the room. Cain couldn't remember him getting there. He was talking into his phone aggressively. Cain simply stood in shock. He heard Tristan calling his name, but it sounded like it was coming through a fog.
"Cain!" He shook him out of his trance. "Clint Jepson is dead."
"What?" Cain was unable to take everything in.
"Clint!" He repeated angrily. "He was in the main security room tonight with Evan Lutz. Jepson is dead and Lutz is missing. The guard at the gate was killed as well. The surveillance was disabled."
Cain didn't know Lutz well, but he could picture him and had a dossier on him as he did for all of his staff. He was one of the younger men on his team, twenty-four. Five foot eleven and bulkily muscled. He was working with Jepson because Cain could trust Jepson. He didn't have it in him to mourn the man right now.
"This was an inside job?" Cain finally spoke incredulously.
"It looks that way." Tristan confirmed. Cain needed to work quickly. He needed to be the general now instead of the much too vulnerable man. He knew that time was the enemy. He needed to do something and do it quickly.
"I want everything locked down. All staff is to be accounted for immediately."
Tristan nodded and quickly began dialing on his phone. Cain called Finn at the cabin. He sounded groggy, but answered on the third ring.
"There's a situation here. I need your help." There must have been something in Cain's voice that conveyed the urgency he was feeling.
"I'll be there as soon as I can." Finn said soberly and hung up. Jack and Kristen walked into Malia's room clad in terry-cloth robes and looking how Cain felt.
"What's going on?" Jack asked.
"Where's Malia?" Kristen added simultaneously.
Cain was at a loss for words. He was still operating under a sense of shock.
"Cain, where is my daughter?" Jack reiterated slowly and deliberately.
"I don't know." Cain finally answered, sounding more defeated than he'd ever felt.
"What do you mean 'you don't know'?" Jack was understandably outraged.
Cain was feeling frantic. He needed answers now, diplomacy be damned. "Did you hear anything?" He asked harshly. "You both are in the next room. Did you hear anyone in the hall or on the balcony? Did you hear any kind of struggle, anything breaking?"
"What are you saying?" Kristen asked fearfully.
"Did you hear anyone come into Malia's room?!" He yelled.
"No." Jack finally answered. Luckily Tristan interrupted, preventing any further interaction on the subject.
"Cain, Gwen's been shot." Tristan's face was suddenly bloodlessly pale, he looked terrified.
"Let's get a little more comfortable girlie." Vincent was behind Malia, making her incredibly nervous. He unbuckled the gag behind her head and she spit it out quickly. She tried to scramble away, but he caught her by her shoulder easily. She winced at the sudden pressure in her joint. He jerked her arm backwards, making her scream. She could feel the tension. It felt like he was about to rip her arm from the socket. She started begging him to let her arm go despite her resolve to stay strong.
"Please!" she screamed. He laughed softly into her ear.
"You beg so pretty baby." She could barely interpret his words from the pain she was in. He laughed again and eased her arm into a more natural position, though he didn't release her. Tears flowed freely down her face, tears of pain, temporary relief, and fear all mixing into a slick and snotty mess. Now that the pain wasn't as intense his proximity was becoming more alarming to her. He nuzzled his stubble-covered face against her ear. She shuddered but didn't dare pull away again.
"I'm gonna like hearing all the pretty ways you beg me little girl." His words shot revulsion straight through her entire body. The fact that he'd used Cain's diminutive for her made her want to vomit. These men were going to torture her and taunt Cain with the pictures of it. He wouldn't like it. It would be a personal blow to his pride.
"How about we get rid of some of these pesky clothes." Malia's spine stiffened. She was wearing a simple grey t-shirt and plaid flannel pants. Before she could bring herself to struggle she heard a distinctive rip and felt cold air on her bare back. Her arms were still bound behind her back, preventing her shirt from falling off of her.
"Now here's how this is gonna work. I'm gonna untie your hands and if you do anything stupid, I'm gonna break your arm." Denizen was the brain behind this but Vincent was as impulsive as it came. Malia didn't doubt he would act on his anger, consequences be damned. She knew Vincent was strong enough to snap her arm if he wanted to. She heard a click behind her and felt Vincent saw through the rope that bound her wrists together. There was painful relief when her arms were finally free again. She didn't have much time to savor her new freedom. Vincent pulled her up by her raw wrist and she winced as she complied. Her legs were very wobbly as she stood and she was forced to lean heavily on her sordid enemy. Her torn shirt fell forward as she stumbled and she caught it with her hands around the shoulders defensively.
"Ah, ah." Vincent taunted. "You don't want to cover all that up. You want to look pretty for your pictures don't you? Your boyfriend wouldn't want that shirt in his way of the view."
"No, please." She begged as he pulled at the thin material. Unfortunately in its tattered state it was beyond easy for him to rip the shirt off of her body. Her arms came up to cover her full and now exposed breasts. She was frantically shaking her head. She felt trapped. She was trapped, with a predator. He seemed to enjoy closing the distance between them. His grin made her sick to her stomach. It didn't matter to her anymore that she couldn't win a fight against him. Flight was impossible and fighting was now instinctual for her. She had to try. She could not give in to him.
He finally jumped forward to catch her and she swung her elbow up instinctively. It connected with his jaw hard, but seemed to do nothing but make him more angry. He growled as he gripped both of her arms just above the elbows. She struggled until she was too exhausted to do anything. He laughed when she finally stopped. He'd pulled her closer when she was struggling, but now he held her firmly at arm's length.
"Well worth the wait." He stared at her breasts lecherously as they moved with the force of her labored breathing. She closed her eyes and turned her head away from his stare. He let go of her arms to grope her breasts roughly. She clenched her eyes closed even tighter but didn't give him the satisfaction of any more of a response than that.
"You don't think the general will mind sharing do you?" Vincent taunted. "You see I figure he owes me. He is the reason I lost my job, which is why my wife left me." His voice was sharper. His hands clenched her flesh viciously. She winced, but continued to focus on escaping into her mind. "So I've been a little lonely lately girlie. I'd say the least that selfish prick could do is loan me a little bit of the pussy he's been getting. Yeah?"
She didn't answer him. She wasn't delusional enough to believe anything she said was going to change his mind. She prayed that Cain was at least looking for her. They had at least been friends at the cabin, if nothing else. Hopefully she hadn't ruined that earlier in the night. He wouldn't want this fate for her, whether he liked her or not. She suddenly regretted her words to him. She didn't want her angry speech to be possibly the last thing she ever said to him. She hadn't given up on surviving this yet, but if she died, she wanted him to know that she did love him. It wasn't a crush or infatuation. Even if she lived on to be a hundred years old, she would still love him. It was that conviction that would keep her from giving up.
"Do you know how I got that job in General Malcolm's personal home?" He seemed unfazed by her vehement ignorance of him. "You don't get to work there for no reason girlie. Me? I was there for my experience and excellence in interrogation techniques." The words weren't his own. He said them as if he were reading them directly from an evaluation report. She didn't doubt that if Cain had valued Vincent's 'interrogation techniques', than they were indeed formidable.
"You should feel real lucky. I'm usually paid a lot of money to provide my particular service. I'm willing to do you for free." He seemed to become irritated with her ignoring him because he jerked her head to face him. She opened her eyes in defense to the sudden movement. His eyes were cold and his smile was evil incarnated.
"Lay face down on the bed." He ordered, releasing her arms. There was no way in hell she was going to help him brutalize her. She swung as hard and fast as she could and heard a satisfying crunch when her fist made contact with his nose. Blood instantly began to run down his snarling face. Malia ran towards the door. It was locked like she knew it would be, but she pulled at it frantically anyway. Vincent recovered quickly and pulled her backwards quickly by her hair. Her hands moved to her scalp protectively as she yelled out in pain. Before she could take any kind of defensive action her head was slammed into the concrete wall and everything went black.
Cain was operating only out of necessity. He'd never imagined a breach like this would have even been possible. He watched the people he let in his house. How the fuck had this slipped through the cracks? Lutz was the only staff member unaccounted for. Three security men were dead, including Jepson, and Gwen Thompson was unconscious on a gurney in the basement of the manor. Jack was moving over her quickly with Olivia's assistance. Tristan was standing beside her, looking scarily pale. Finn was speaking to the security staff and keeping Cain updated. The state of the art security system had been disabled, not an easy task. Someone knew what they were doing. So far there were no witnesses. No one knew Lutz especially well, he was fairly new, but they were all shocked nonetheless.
There was no way he did this alone. Someone was on the outside pulling the strings. He would kill them when he found out who it was. He couldn't help thinking of Milly. She'd threatened him earlier in the night, but had she been prepared with a plan like this? He didn't think she could pull this off, even with Lutz's help. But it didn't mean she wasn't involved. He couldn't help replaying her words in his mind. 'I'd reconsider who doesn't want to get on whoms bad side Cain.'
He'd sent men to surveil Milly. He didn't want her to know that he knew anything yet. They had confirmed her location at a nightclub she frequented. She'd been drinking, flirting, and dancing. It didn't prove anything, one way or another.
Gwen was their best chance now. If she'd been shot, she had to have seen something. She'd been shot twice, in the shoulder and in the chest. Jack assured Tristan that the bullet had missed her heart, but had hit her lung. The medical area in the manor wasn't designed for surgery, they were going to have to go to a hospital. The paramedics were on their way. Jack told him that she'd lost a lot of blood and her oxygen levels were down which had caused her to lose consciousness. He had no way of knowing the extent of the damage without surgery. He'd been able to stop the bleeding for the moment.
His phone vibrated in his pocket. He fished it out quickly. The screen lit up and he went still. He'd received a picture text, one that terrified him immediately. He opened it to enlarge the picture and his fears were confirmed. It was Malia. There was a dark bruise on her forehead and a thin stream of blood ran down from her hairline. She was naked and unconscious. There was a dark, still-wet hickey on her breast.
Cain's sudden fury battled with the cold fear that had been constant for the last few hours. He held on to that rage, it was much more productive.
"Tristan," He called across the room. Tristan looked dazed as he looked at him. "I have to talk to Finn. I'll be in the security room. Please tell me if she wakes up." Tristan nodded. Cain hoped his words had processed.
Finn and two of his more senior security team members were looking over the surveillance equipment and video from the last month. Finn looked up as Cain entered the room. He held his phone out and imagined his distraught state showed in his expression. Finn took the phone and the screen lit to show him the picture that was pulled up. Finn's brow furrowed, but he otherwise didn't show any reaction.
"I need it tracked, immediately." Cain finally said. Finn nodded.
"It could take time, especially if they went through any precautions to stop themselves from being tracked. I imagine someone with enough forethought to get in here would have done so. It may even be impossible to get a location." Finn said matter-of-factly.
"We have to try." Cain knew what Finn said was true, but he wouldn't leave any stone unturned. Finn had probably thought that Cain had overlooked the possibility that the text would be untraceable. He thought that he was thinking with his emotions. Unfortunately Cain was thinking with his experience in such situations. He knew that he was being taunted. He knew the type of torture that Malia would have in store for her and that made his blood run cold.
Finn handed the phone to one of the men in the room and asked for the text to be tracked as well as the picture to be blown up and printed off immediately. Finn picked the page up off of the printer. Cain felt like he couldn't look at it again, but he needed to see if there were any clues in the sickening image. He held his hand out finally and Finn handed him the picture.
He wanted to cry seeing the woman he loved in such a vulnerable and tormented state. Whoever had done this to her would die a slow and painful death by Cain's own hands, he would make sure of it. He prayed she was okay. He prayed she could hold on, just a little longer. Cain would find her. If it was at all even remotely possible, he would find Malia and bring her home alive.
The second time Malia woke was much worse than the first. As she began to rouse she moaned from the headache that had now tripled in intensity. She was fully woken by a sharp, sudden, and intense pain across her back. It was an effective method to bring her to full alertness. Malia screamed. She reflexively flinched only to find her hands and feet had been tied to the frame of the cot.
"Well sleeping beauty, nap time's over." Dutari's voice was gloating. Her back felt like it was on fire from her left shoulder to her right hip. Just as the pain died down to a hot throbbing she heard an ominous whistle through the air and a loud slap as the whip made another welt near the first. She screamed again and began to cry in broken, incomprehensible sentences of begging.
"It doesn't even start to hurt until you get two in the same spot."
Malia's scream was bloodcurdling, or it would have been for any other audience. To Vincent her scream of agony was exciting beyond compare as was the thin sliver of blood that was left in the whip's wake.
"Ah yeah baby, beautiful."
Malia's whimpers sounded pathetic to her own ears, but she was beyond caring about such things. She lost track of the number of times he hit her. Her throat was raw from screaming. Her back was sticky with blood and pulsed in pain with her heartbeats. It felt like the whip had touched every inch of her back, from neck to waist. Finally he stopped.
Malia's body went limp from exhaustion and pain. She was breathing heavily and the thin sheet that covered the mattress was soaked with her tears and sweat.