She slowly woke, struggling up through the layers of consciousness. She could feel a hard floor below her, her wrists and ankles were bound. She could hear voices. Harsh, mean, laughing, cruel voices — she didn't want to see the faces these voices belonged to, they filled her with fear. A strange coppery smell assaulted her nostrils. Curiosity overrode her fear and she opened her eyes.
The scene turned her insides to ice.
A man was sitting in front of her, also bound wrist and ankle, but propped up against a post, with his hands behind him. He was clad only in briefs, startlingly white against his tanned skin, the muscles in his chest, shoulders and stomach writhing beneath the skin as he fought to escape.
In other circumstances her reaction would've been anything but icy. This man was so beautiful — shaggy brown hair, blue-green eyes, obviously very tall and obviously very fit.
The ice was caused by the two other figures looming over him - one male, one female. The man was holding Adonis's head, forcing his mouth open, while the woman poured blood into it. The blood was coming straight from a vicious cut on her wrist. He tried to close his mouth against the flow, twisting his face and trying to spit out what was already there. Blood ran down his chin and chest. He grunted and writhed, but could not escape.
She watched, horrified, as the male clamped Adonis's mouth closed and, with his other hand, pinched off his nostrils.
"Drink or drown: it's your choice, Sam Wilson."
For an interminable time it looked like he would choose to drown. His face twitched and strained against the hands holding him fast. The veins stood out in his neck, a small amount of blood seeped from his mouth. His chest heaved and his arms and shoulders strained against the cords binding him. He jerked his head backwards and forwards, side to side, desperately trying to remove the hands, his eyes widening as his movements became more frantic.
The man stood impassively, easily holding his mouth and nostrils closed. The female had one hand clasped around the cut wrist, blood still oozing between her fingers, a hard smile playing on her face as she watched the man named Sam in his torment.
Then he convulsed and swallowed, his eyes registering despair and defeat. The hands were removed from his face and he choked and coughed, dragging fresh air into his tortured lungs, spitting some of the blood out and down his chest.
Rather than reviving him, the release seemed to weaken Sam. His face went pale and his eyes rolled in his head. Then his head fell forward on his chest.
The female's smile broadened as she turned to the woman on the floor, grabbing her face and pulling her closer.
"He'll need looking after," she hissed. "That's your job."
The male approached, a large knife in hand. He quickly slashed the cords binding the woman's wrists and ankles.
The woman pulled herself to a sitting position, scooting backwards into a corner, away from these two strange, malevolent beings — she couldn't quite think of them as people - her eyes never leaving the still form of Sam. "What did you do to him?"
The female's grin arched higher and her eyes glittered, almost glowing in the half light.
"Nothing he won't thank us for," said the male, also smiling. "Eventually."
A look passed between them and they laughed, leaving the room and closing and bolting the door.
She sat, mesmerised, staring at the bloodied man before her. What had they done to provoke that reaction? Why the blood, any liquid would have done, wouldn't it? She kept replaying the scene in her head. But it was like a jigsaw with pieces missing.
Shaking her head, she pushed the memory aside. Sam obviously needed help. His chest was still coated with gore. Blood was still dripping from his chin. His breathing was laboured. His arms and legs still bound.
Cautiously she moved to his side. She could see his hair plastered to his forehead and into his eyes by sweat. His face was wet with it, as were his arms and torso. Well, the bits that weren't already covered in blood. Tentatively she reached forward and gently brushed the hair from his eyes.
He moaned, twitching at her touch, his skin burning beneath her fingers. "He'll need looking after" blistered through her mind.
Frantically scanning the room, she noticed for the first time there was a sink in one far corner. She ran to it, "Let the taps work, please let the taps work". Water gushed freely as she spun the tap open. "Thank you, thankyou thankyouthankyou". She wasn't even aware she had spoken aloud.
There was no cloth, no container, no sink plug. She stood, again scanning the room for anything useful. There was nothing. Just Sam.
She looked down at herself. The T-shirt and little denim skirt were no help. She could use her sneakers as small buckets, except those bastards had taken them. She looked at the sink and then to Sam. The sweat was now running down his flushed face and he was muttering feverishly.
Dammit, no time for modesty. She whipped off her T-shirt and held it under the water. Once it was sodden she returned to Sam's side and gently wiped his face with it.
He shuddered but pressed his face towards the cooling cloth. She cleaned his face and cooled his forehead, then rinsed the cloth and returned to wipe away the gore and sweat from his chest, stopping several times to admire how the toned muscles glistened beneath a thin sheen of water, and to rinse out the cloth.
Then she turned her attention to his legs and arms. They also were blood flecked and sheened with sweat. He was worrying at his bonds, tugging his arms, clenching and unclenching his fists and twisting his feet. She wanted to untie him, so he could rest more comfortably. But the complexity of the knots defeated her attempts, and she had nothing to cut through the ropes.
Backwards and forwards she went to the sink many times; rinsing and cooling; wiping and soothing. Gradually she noticed her patient becoming less agitated, his breathing more relaxed. She began to relax as well, allowed more time away from his side on her trips to the sink. More time to just admire the strong shoulders, the long legs, the big hands and feet. It would be so nice to snuggle into that chest and feel those arms around her, the hands caressing her hair...
Shaking her head free from the daydream, she returned to her task. God, she knew nothing about him. And she was being held captive by some mighty strange people. Her hands abruptly stopped squeezing the cloth as a horrible thought occurred to her. They knew his name. Did that mean he was one of them?
No, he couldn't be. He'd been fighting them too hard. He was obviously repulsed by them. And there was something hideous about them. Sam was definitely not hideous.
She returned to again mop his forehead and smooth his unruly hair from his face. At her touch his eyes fluttered open and he stared straight at her. Then a small smile formed on his lips.
"Thank you," he said weakly, leaning his head against the post and closing his eyes again. "You should go."
Go? He was obviously still feverish. "I can't go. I'm locked in here with you. Besides, you still don't look so hot."
Now that was the understatement of the year — hot? He was positively smokin'! If he wasn't obviously so ill ... OK, time to get the mind back on the job. He is sick, remember?
He smiled again, a beautiful light-up-your-life smile that somehow failed to reach his eyes and made him looked infinitely sad. "Of course you're locked in. They wouldn't have it any other way." The smile died and he closed his eyes again. "At least I'm tied up."
She rocked back on her heels and studied him, trying to decide what he could possibly mean. Was it the fever talking? He seemed lucid enough. "They" presumably meant the couple of freaks she'd seen before. What the heck were they about? And why was he relieved to be bound? Her reverie was cut short as he suddenly gagged and coughed, almost choking. The residue of blood in his mouth was thick and he was having trouble swallowing.
She rushed to the sink, cupping her hands together under the flow of water, quickly returning to his side, pouring the precious liquid into his mouth. He gratefully gulped at it and swallowed.
He screamed as the water reached his stomach and jack-knifed against the cramping pain, almost pulling his arms from their sockets as the bindings around his wrists pulled him up short, his knees pulled up to his chest. He hung there, panting and groaning, his face screwed up, eyes tightly shut.
"Sam? God. Sam, what is it?" She hovered, panicked, unsure what to do but unable to stop watching him.
The groaning eased, the panting gradually evened out and Sam experimentally relaxed, wary of a new outbreak of pain. He shuddered as he leaned his head back against the pole again, opening his eyes to look warily at her. "How do you know my name?"
"What? Oh, they said it before. The two ... people that were here before. With the blood. What the hell just happened? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. It was just a cramp." Sam studied her closely. Then he smiled again, and this time the smile did reach his eyes. She felt something flip in her chest and she shivered just a little. He was gorgeous when he smiled.
He was obviously feeling better now, as if the cramp had released more energy in him. The colour in his face was even and he was sitting strongly, not using the post for support, just comfort. He was testing the strength of the bonds, worrying the wrist ropes against the pole behind his back. His face was more animated and his eyes fairly danced with delight. "What happened to your shirt?"
She blushed as she looked down at herself. She'd completely forgotten about her lack of T-shirt.
"It's wet." The blush deepened and she stumbled over the next words. "You were burning up and I needed something to cool you down."
He pulled the smile in, but his eyes were still sparkling. "I'm sorry. Didn't mean to embarrass you, but you just shivered. If you're cold, a wet shirt isn't going to be much help."
"I'm fine," she said, smiling at him. That shiver had definitely not been caused by the room temperature. "You're not exactly overdressed yourself."
His eyes darkened and the playful smile quirked. "I'm still quite hot. I don't need clothes."
Her chest flipped again as she watched Sam's grinning face. Yes, he knew exactly what reaction that little statement had caused. "Perhaps I should sponge you down again. To cool you off."
Deliberately making her skirt ride high, she turned away from him, bending from the waist to pick up the shirt and then sashayed to the sink, keeping her back and legs straight as she bent over the taps to dampen the cloth.
Her chest tightened as she heard him groan and a warm tingling tickle began in her lower belly.
She watched him watch her bra cross the room. Tenderly she bent over him to mop his brow, bending low from the waist again, her tits now only inches in front of his face and threatening to fall free from the top of her bra.
Ignoring the sharply drawn breath, she continued wiping the cold cloth over Sam's face, over the blood-stained lips, down his neck, across his shoulders and onto his chest.
She wondered about his magnificent physique again, marvelling how the muscles twitched and jumped under the touch of the cloth. God, this was so much harder to concentrate on when he was awake!
Sam groaned again. He gritted his teeth as she stroked across a nipple. "I'm not getting any cooler."
She tried to sound surprised: "Should I stop then?"
"Oh god no!"
Smiling in triumph, she continued working in slow circling strokes, across his abs, down his stomach and around his belly button. There she left the cloth and let her hand slide further across his lower abdomen, tickling his skin and watching as it twitched under her touch.
Watching as she continued to explore, she saw his eyes close and his breathing quicken, little grimaces twitching across his face in time with the skin twitching under her fingers. When she reached the top of his white briefs, she toyed with the elastic, stretching her fingers down across the tented material and back to the elastic, as his hips made little writhing motions.
Abruptly she stopped, withdrawing her hand and watching his face intently, smiling and licking her lips.
His eyes flew to hers. Then he settled into a lustfilled smile at the look on her face. "Wish I could touch you," he sighed.
She gasped and goosebumps ran across her flesh. His voice seemed to caress her, sending little shockwaves of desire through her. Oh, to feel his hands on her body; those long fingers stroking her skin.
His dark eyes glittered as he watched the effect his words had on her. He craned forward as far as he could to breathe "feel you" onto the skin between her bra cups. His breath was hot and feather soft on her skin. She shuddered, whimpering softly, her head thrown back and eyes closed.
He leaned back, watching her face, capturing her eyes as they opened, then running his tongue around his top lip and whispering "taste you".
Her insides turned to molten fire. She forgot to breathe. Her lips were tingling, the soft fabric of her bra suddenly harsh against her nipples. For a moment she thought she might faint — the room faded out in a rainbow of colour before settling back to a softer version of reality.
She was crooning softly, her hips making little rolling motions, one hand, unbidden, gently circling her nipple through her bra.
Oh god she needed him and desperately sought out Sam's face in the glowing colours that still swirled across her vision.
She gasped. Sam's eyes were pools of liquid fire that threatened to drown her. His lips were parted and a little knowing smile played on them. "Untie me."
Her face fell. "I-I can't," she gulped, she so desperately wanted to please him. "I tried before you woke up. The knots are so weird, I couldn't find the end of the rope."
The light flared in his eyes. "Try again. I've been working on them." His voice dropped lower with each sentence: "I want to touch you as we kiss. I want to hold you close as I enter you. I want to feel you writhing under my hands as you come."
Her chest constricted at his words. She fell to her knees and studied the ropes binding his wrists. With unsteady hands she traced the coils and intricate twists, urgently seeking the tucked-in end. She tugged at the loops, trying to dig her fingers between them. Sam's constant worrying efforts had loosened some of them, but tightened others, and his wrists were chafed red and nearly raw.
The pattern of how they were tied was still beyond her and she was nearly sobbing in frustration as she continued to work at the knots. Then one loop twisted under her fingers and became much looser.
"Yes!" she crowed as she eased it over Sam's hand, and back into the cobbled macrame that still held him prisoner, loosening the whole mess just a little. With renewed vigour she attacked the coils, looking for the next one to loosen up. She had a long way to go before Sam's large hand would slip free.
He remained strangely quiet, despite her triumph. Suddenly he jerked his hands from hers, twisting his body to move away from her. "Stop." Sam's voice was urgent, desperate and different somehow. "You must stop. You mustn't untie me. Move away."
She glanced up at his face. His eyes were strangely clouded, his face pale and sweating again. The heat died within her as concern took its place.
She reached up to stroke his cheek. "Sam. It's OK."
He flinched under her touch and turned his face away. "No. You must get away." He turned back to her, his face anguished. "Please."
She moved back to sit near his feet, facing him. When she spoke her voice was soft, caring, soothing. "Sam. It's OK. You're still sick. I see that. Let me help you." She smiled gently. "I promise I won't take advantage of you."
Sam shuddered and closed his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak but only a low groan escaped him. His face was now shiny with sweat. His chest was shiny too. "No, no, stay away." Each word was an effort.
He began to pant, his chest heaving with each laboured breath. The sweat began to run down his face to drip off his chin and down his chest. He moaned: "Oh God, help me."
She flew into action, seeking out her ruined shirt and soaking it in the sink, to return and mop Sam's face and chest.
At first he cringed away from her ministrations and tried to avoid her touch, writhing in his bonds and moaning at her to stay away. But she persisted, stroking the hair from his fevered brow, cooling his hot skin and, gradually, he relaxed again and sought out the soothing cloth and her gentle touch.
As he calmed and became less agitated, she turned her attention once again to the ropes that held him against the pole. In his fevered desperation he had pulled the cords tighter around one wrist, so they cut deep into the skin. The rope was damp with sweat and blood.
The coils slipped over each other far more easily than before, the wetness making them almost greasy. She was able to pull one loop long and slip it over Sam's hand. Then another came loose, and another, and another.
If only she'd thought of wetting the rope before, she could've had him free long ago.
Feeling the slackening bond, Sam twisted his wrist around, wincing at the pain of the rope rubbing across raw flesh, but managing to drag his hand free.
He swung his arms around in front of him, experimentally stretching the strained and cramped muscles, and flashed a smile in her direction.
The fire was dancing in his eyes as he reached for her.