"Morning, sleepy," he said as he nudged her foot to wake her, as he did each morning. Lia blinked against the sunlight to see Troy leaning over her smiling. She smiled back as he bent to give her a kiss goodbye. She stretched and groaned sleepily and he laughed at her as he walked away and toward the front door. "See you at work," he called as he made his way toward the door to leave.

"Bye!" Lia called. She lay in bed a moment thinking of how happy this man, her man, made her. Grudgingly, she finally crawled from the bed and made her way to the bathroom to shower and get ready for work.

Lia took her time in the shower, much more time than she should have. She was going to be late for work, but she was sore from their escapades the night before, and the hot water beating down on her felt too good to get out. As she rinsed the last of the soap from her body, she thought she could hear a door shut. That's odd, she thought, Troy must have forgotten something. One of the perks of working together is that they could call the other if they forgot something. Too bad their hours didn't coincide so they could ride together. So she was surprised he had come back, rather than just call or text her.

She heard the doorknob turn behind her. They never locked the bathroom door since it was just the two of them. Lia smiled and saying teasingly, "Did you come back to wash my back? Because, I don't think they'd appreciate you being late just to....." She broke off, stunned as she turned, she realized too late that the man on the other side of the foggy glass doors was not Troy, but a complete stranger.

Panic and adrenaline flooded her system as her brain worked out that she was cornered and naked. Surprisingly, she hadn't screamed with the shock. She backed against the shower wall, holding her arms over her breasts and body to conceal at least some of her nakedness. She finally found her voice, "What are you doing in here? Who are you?" she asked the stranger. He hadn't moved, was just standing there, his eyes gazing with apparent appreciation over her naked figure. She inched further into the wall, trying in vain to cover more of herself. A slow grin came over his face as he leered at her. She wondered vaguely how he had gotten in the house. Troy always locked the doors when he left for work. Not being able to tolerate being naked in front of this man for one more second, she slowly edged the shower door open to reach around for her towel. Quick as a snake the man had stepped forward and seized her wrist. She winced at the pain and tried to jerk her arm back, but he didn't release her. Instead he slammed her arm sidewise opening the door and pulled her out of the shower. The unexpected move tangled her legs against the shower's edge and she fell out against the stranger.

He was tall, and big, she registered as even her five foot, nine inches couldn't look him in the eye without craning her neck. He still wore the lurid grin. She tried reaching for the towel again with her free hand only to be yanked toward him and then forced against the wall. He now held both of her wrists in each of his hands. Trapped and rising into further panic, Lia's breath hitched even higher, making her breasts rise with each one she took, which was not helping her cause. She tried to calm herself. How much time had passed, seconds, minutes? He gazed down at her with blue eyes as cold and hard as ice. It felt like an eternity before this silent stranger finally spoke. At last he said, "No one was supposed to be here. But I think I can still make this work." As he finished he pressed his erection into her stomach, leaving no doubt as to what his plan was.

Lia turned her head in disgust, fighting the nausea that was threatening, and focused her eyes on the doorway. Think, Lia, think! You have to get away from him....and get to the one loaded gun by the front door!

There were guns in every corner of the house, but only one was kept loaded. Not so much for intruders, but for wild dogs or coyotes that would occasionally run through the yard and threaten the livestock or their own dogs. Well, so much for being safe this far out in the country.

Lia tried to think how to wrench herself free from his unrelenting hold. He was too tall for her to effectively knee him in the groin. If he didn't have her wrists in a death grip she might have had luck trying to grab and twist his groin as her self-defense teacher in college had taught her. At the moment, the only weapon at her disposal was her voice, so she asked with more calmness than she felt, "What do you want? Take anything. Please, just take it and leave." Continuing she fibbed, "My neighbor will be here soon to pick me up for work."

At her words, he smirked, obviously either seeing through her lie or knowing somehow that no such neighbor was coming. He pulled her away from the wall by her wrists and glared down at her, "No, I don't think we will be having any interruptions today." He twisted his large hand so he now gripped both of her small wrists with just one of his hands. She winced and tried ineffectively to break his hold, but did not succeed.

He reached into his back pocket and retrieved a pair of handcuffs. Her cynical mind wondered why he even had them if what he had said before was true, that he hadn't expected anyone to be home. Her stressed mind found humor in this and before she could stop herself, she opened her big mouth and mockingly said just that, "Why did you bring those if you thought no one was going to be here?"

Faster than she thought possible, he slammed her back against the wall by her neck, the cold metal of the handcuffs he was holding digging into her jugular. Oh, he doesn't like to be laughed at, she thought as her vision started to get spotty. She wheezed as she tried to draw a precious breath and squirmed uselessly in his grasp. He had her doubly pinned. One hand choking her against the wall and the other gripping her wrists in front of her and pushing them painfully against her sex. She couldn't decide which pain was worse, the pain at her neck, her burning lungs, or the area between her thighs. Just as she thought she was going to pass out from lack of oxygen he eased up on her neck just enough that she could draw a shallow breath. She took it gratefully as he leaned in close to her ear and said softly, "Are you going to play nice, or are we going to have a problem?"

She wanted to scream at him to go fuck himself, but the rational, frightened side of her won out and she rasped out a quiet, "No."

"No....what? You're not going to play nice? Or no we are not going to have a problem?" he questioned as he pressed harder into the softness of her neck.

Choking, she could barely say the words, "I..no...problem." Though she didn't know if she meant them.

He smiled and she felt rather than saw his smile as he whispered in her ear, "Good girl." She cringed at his words and tone of voice and once again felt nauseous. Weak and light-headed from her lack of oxygen, she barely registered him releasing her neck and quickly and efficiently cuffing her wrists in front of her. As oxygen flooded back to her brain she realized that he must have experience with restraining people....a lot of experience. He's a professional! Her mind screamed at her that this was not simply a random home invasion or robbery. She hadn't paid attention to his clothing before, but she now realized that they looked like military issue, only instead of camouflage, they were black. Her head was dropped to her chest and she was still gasping as he finished with the cuffs and brought the hand he choked her with back up to her neck. It was almost a caress compared to his previous abuse and she shrunk away from his touch. Anger flared in him at this defiance and he gripped her chin and held her head steady so that she had to look at him. Being forced to look into the face of this monster crippled her resolve and what remained of her mental strength. Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks. It took everything she had to blink and swallow them back. Something told her that tears would have no effect on this man, or worse that he might like to see her cry.

Finally, after studying her for what seemed ages, he released her head and stood back from her. He walked out of the bathroom dragging her behind him by the linked cuffs. Now, away from his penetrating gaze she looked frantically around the hall and living room for anything she might use as a weapon. Too quickly he marched her to a support column in the living room, uncuffed one wrist and recuffed them with her arms around the column. He turned and strode toward the back of the house. She wondered where the hell he was going. He seemed to know his way around the house and right where he needed to go. What could he want? She didn't think they had anything important enough to steal. She heard drawers opening and shutting and the shuffling of papers. Lia wanted to call out to him. To say what, though, she didn't know.

What she did know was that she was still wet from the shower and she was freezing standing there naked. Idly, she wondered if the shower was still on. Had she turned it off? Had he? Not really a time to be worrying about the water bill, she mentally chided herself.

Trying to focus, she thought back to what little he had said.

No one was supposed to be here.

I can still make this work.

Make what work, she wondered. Oh, and don't forget the thinly veiled sexual and physical threats he made. She had to get out of here. Fast.

Lia tried pulling her hands out of the cuffs. She was still a little damp and thought maybe she could slip her hands out. She winced as the cuffs cut into her hands. No. Absolutely no way she was pulling out of them. He had them so tight she could barely move them. She was still fussing with them when she looked up and saw him standing there, silently watching her from the hall. She hadn't seen or heard him reappear. Not breaking eye contact, he strode to her and struck her hard across the face.

She had never been hit before and she was not prepared for the blinding pain that exploded in her head. Lia immediately crumpled to the ground in a tangle of limbs sprawled around the column. Her face felt sticky and warm. She opened her eyes and through the curtain of her wet blonde hair she could see blood dripping off her face and down her naked body. She tried to move her hand to her face to feel how bad it was, but remembered too late that she was restrained then let them fall limply back down.

He went down on one knee and yanked her head back by her hair to look into her eyes. Her eyes wouldn't focus and one of her eyes was full of blood. Done assessing her, he released her and reached around and uncuffed her wrists. Not being able to hold herself up after being released she sagged and fell back against the floor.

She had a sense of being freed and that she should do something about it. Run, punch, kick....but nothing would function. She felt him lift her and as a new wash of pain came over her she could think of nothing else and blissfully fell unconscious.


His phone buzzed at 8:30am and he picked it up, "Troy, is Lia here today?" He rolled his eyes. Management was always asking one of them where the other was. This particular manager was none too happy about Lia, one of his favorites, dating Troy. Troy grinned with the thought. He loved to piss off management.

He answered in his smart-ass tone, "How would I know?"

Their manager was not amused, "Well, you live with the damn woman. Is she coming to work?"

Troy responded, "As far as I know."


He shook his head. Guess Lia didn't get out of bed after he woke her up. Thinking she might have dozed back off, he picked up his cell phone and dialed her number. It rang out until her voicemail picked up and he hung up without leaving a message. They never left messages for each other. She might be in the shower, or couldn't hear it. He texted Lia his standard line when he was couldn't get a hold of someone.

**Are you alive?**

He put his phone back in the holster and went back to work. He made a mental reminder to try calling again later.

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