I moved my arm and heard the rattle of a chain.
Forcing my eyes open, I blinked against the bright sunlight filtering through my lace bedroom curtains. I stared at the delicate pattern of twisting, turning shadows the light cast through the lace as my mind tried to focus.
A dull pain in my shoulder once again had me trying to lower my arm, to no avail.
A chain rattled against the bedpost.
This time, the sound jolted me fully awake. I stretched my neck to gaze at my shackled wrist.
Flashes from last night bounced around my brain.
A nightmarish kaleidoscope.
Cruel scenes of sex, violence, and fear.
With my heart clawing to escape my chest, I looked around my bedroom. It appeared to be empty. My gaze fixated on the closed bathroom door. Was he inside? My lower lip trembled as I waited, straining to hear even the slightest sound.
Fear closed my throat when I thought I heard the scuff of a boot heel on tile.
I could barely hear over the pounding of my heart and my own erratic breathing.
Several more seconds passed by.
My eyes watered as I stared at the bathroom doorknob without blinking, waiting to see even the slightest turn.
I sucked air into my lungs as a lightheaded rush made the room blur and swim before my eyes.
Without thinking, I pulled on my wrist in an attempt to rub my forehead.
The chain rattled again as my wrist remained shackled to the bedpost.
I cast a glance over to where the bedroom door had been. It was now hanging by only a few screws from its last remaining hinge, a pile of splinters scattered on the floor nearby. I waited to hear heavy footfalls on the steps beyond.
I lived in a small two-story flat in London. My bedroom and the attached bathroom were the only rooms on the second floor, with just a tiny landing at the top of the stairs. If he was still here, he must be downstairs where he wouldn’t hear the grate of the metal chain against the wooden bedpost. Hopefully.
Locked around my wrist was one end of a pair of handcuffs. It had a longer-than-usual chain in the middle and the other bracelet was attached to the bedpost.
A hiss escaped through my teeth as I tried to turn my body and rise up on my knees. Every muscle screamed in protest. I glanced down at my naked form. My vintage-inspired nightgown with the pretty pink flowers was gone. On the top of my left breast was the faint red outline of a bite mark. Finger-shaped marks marred my inner thighs. Never in my life had I been taken so brutally. It was as if I had let a wild animal into my bedroom.
There wasn’t an inch of my body he hadn’t touched, kissed… bruised.
And how he had pushed himself inside my…
No, I wouldn’t think about that now. I needed to get these handcuffs off. I desperately wanted a long, hot shower. I needed to wash the depraved, lust-filled night off my skin. If only it could have been so easy to also erase it from my mind.
Clenching my jaw against the pain, I shifted my hips and rose up onto my knees. I gripped the bedpost for purchase as I looked down at my wrist. Thankfully, there weren’t any red marks from the handcuffs. No visible ones at least.
I lifted my left hand to my throat as I glanced at my reflection in the glass covering the peony print hanging over my bed. There were several round marks encircling my neck where his mouth had sucked and bitten at the soft skin of my throat. Never mind that now. A scarf would cover it. I needed to focus on getting free.
I gripped the handcuff chain and yanked it upward, intending to pull it up and over the end of the bedpost. It didn’t budge. The handcuff bracelet was tightly secured around a decorative indentation in the bedpost. I yanked again. The chain rattled but didn’t move.
With a frustrated whimper, I pulled on my wrist. Scrunching my fingers tightly together, I tried to twist and pull my hand free. The handcuff bracelet dug into the skin below my thumb but wouldn’t slip off my hand.
I swiped at the tears clouding my vision as I tried again and again. The skin around my wrist was scratched and red before I finally gave up. I looked around the tiny bedroom for anything I could use as a tool, but there was nothing.
The room only allowed for a four-drawer bureau and a bed. Despite my embarrassment at being found this way, I could try screaming for help, but I doubted anyone would hear me.
My love of all things vintage and gothic had prompted me to rent a flat in an eighteenth-century building located in Whitechapel. Yes, that Whitechapel, of Jack the Ripper fame. The walls were impossibly thick. It was one of the things I loved about the place. I looked at the lattice window to the left of my bed. The window frame had long ago been sealed shut from countless coats of thick white paint. Maybe I could break it? But with what?
I turned my attention back to the four-poster bed. My only hope was to break the post. Shuffling closer to the headboard, I leaned my shoulder against the post and pushed with all my might.
I heard a crack.
It was working!
I pushed harder, ignoring the pain in my shoulder and wrist.
There was another crack as the post gave under my weight. Unfortunately, it didn’t crack near the indentation as I had planned. My efforts had dislodged the post from the headboard and frame. I cried out as the bed collapsed. The footboard with two posts attached fell forward, slamming against the floor. The post not connected to my wrist leaned precariously to one side. The post connected to my wrist lurched to the other side. The mattress and box spring dropped to the floor with a loud thump.
I lay sprawled on the bed, momentarily stunned.
Just then, the bedroom door swung open, violently hitting the wall behind it.
I took one look at the man storming over the threshold toward me and let out a bloodcurdling scream.