Carnival of Darkness (FaeTAL Series Book 1) (4 page)

The girl inside of the bag begins thrashing about and a muffled scream escapes.

A sharp as shit elbow jabs into my back.

Fuck, that actually hurt. Chick’s got some spunk.

I grunt and drop my shoulder up and down quickly to nudge her as I start walking towards the starter cell trailer in an attempt to put some distance between myself and the damn vendor.

“Stop fucking struggling already. The more you fight, the worse this is gonna be. Trust me on that one.”

She feels like a little wisp of a thing, can’t weigh more than a hundred pounds soakin’ wet. But she sure as shit has a bit of fight in her. Not that having fight in ‘em has done any of the other girls any good. Best thing for them is to lie low and do what they’re told.

“Don’t stir up shit, it just ain’t worth it.”

I nod my head at the guard positioned by the door to the trailer. Fuck me. I don’t wanna leave this girl here. The first week at the C.O.D is the worst. I’ve had the fucking joy of taking part in ‘breaking’ a girl or two.

Hell, I think Fred makes sure everyone spends time in this god-forsaken trailer at some point. It’s like he’s trying to show everybody what happens to people that cross him.

The soft, muffled sobs continue as I stride toward the entrance. Her chest presses harder into my back with each gulped breath as she tries to control her fear.

My pace falters as I reach the steps to the trailer. The girl is all out trembling in my arms. I have the strongest urge to cradle her to my chest. To pull her off of my shoulder and hold her close. Tell her everything will be alright. That I won’t let these bad guys anywhere near her. My momma raised me better than to treat women this way. But if I do, I’ll blow my cover to hell and back.

Goddamn-it! Some days, hell the last one hundred eighty-two days and counting, I hate my fucking job.

I can’t risk jeopardizing my cover. Not after being here this long. Too much is riding on me to get this one right.

Knowing I have little damn choice in the matter, I head up the steps and into the trailer from hell. So much blood has been spilled in this damn place that the coppery scent clings to the walls. The floors are stained and will probably never come clean. Every single fucking thing about this room is wrong. It’s evil. And I’m about to abandon this innocent girl here. Looking around, I realize something strange.

I’m alone in the trailer.

Alone with the girl.

In a fucking bag.

Being held over my shoulder like a bag of trash.

Knowing I only have minutes before one of these bastard shows up for her, I place her gently on the ground and start to open the bag.





Don’t open the fucking bag man. Just don’t! You know the rules. Do your damn job and keep your fucking head down. Too much is at stake here. Just walk the fuck away and get back to gathering intel. Hell, go to your trailer and contact Mac. Do anything but open that fucking sack!

Ah, shit. You can’t just leave her like this. Can you? Your momma raised you better man! Listen to her sobs. She needs you.

Fuck, my inner voice can’t even make up its mind on what I should do.

Clearly, I’ve lost it and have become a full blown idiot of the grandest proportions. Drops of sweat drip from my hands as I reach for the opening of the bag. Why the fuck am I doing this? Why am I risking my cover just to get a glimpse of the girl inside the bag?

“Shh. You gotta calm down now, sweetling,” I whisper.

What the hell? Now I’m comforting her? Like my gruff ass voice could ever be reassuring to a woman in her situation.

I gently pull the opening as wide as it will go. The bag slides down to reveal one very scared, quite beautiful red-head. Her eyes are huge in her face, her mouth open ready to release a scream. I jerk my hand out and place it over her lush lips.

“Please. Don’t scream. I ain’t gonna hurt you. If you promise to stay quiet, I’ll move my hand. You understand?”

At her nod, I remove my hand. My eyes run over her body looking for injuries, but find none. She looks familiar. I can’t put my mind on it, but I know I’ve seen this woman before. Just as a thought enters my mind she whimpers.

“Are you hurt? What can I do to help, sweetling?”

Shaking her head, she glares at me with eyes filled with suspicion and anger. Damn, that is one severely pissed off woman.

“What can you do? Are you flipping kidding me? You can let me go! That’s what you can do to help. Oh and don’t call me sweetling!” She huffs out a breath and blows her bangs out of her eyes.

“Shit, I wish I could. It’s just not that simple. I don’t have time to explain it right now. You just have to trust me.”

“Trust you? Ha! Yeah right, like I’m going to trust the big lug of a man that kidnapped me!”

“I didn’t snag you, I just got roped into helping carry a damn bag! Don’t talk about shit you don’t understand!” I bite out through clenched teeth.

The woman shrinks away from me. Shit! I need to get control of myself and fast. I can’t go scaring her, at least not if I can help it.

“Look, I’m sorry. Let’s just say that’s a sensitive subject for me all right?”

At her nod I continue.

“Don’t be scared of me, please. I won’t hurt you, but I can’t let you go. No matter how much I want to sneak you away to safety. I just fucking can’t.”

I run a frustrated hand roughly through my hair. How did she know to hit on my one weak spot? I would give anything to let this beautiful creature go. Well hell, that’s a lie. I would much rather pull her to me and hold her close. Keep her safe from any and all harm. The urge within me to make her mine, to protect her against all odds, is one that I can’t explain.


“No. No, buts. End of discussion. I can’t let you go, darlin’. I’m sorry about that.”

Her face drops, her chin trembling and soft tears roll down her cheeks as a sob escapes her. I sit down beside her and pull her into my side. Her tears soak my shirt as my hand runs slowly up and down her back.

“Please, stay calm, sweetling. I don’t have much time before the others show up.”

“O-others?” She pulls her head back to lock eyes with me and my mind stops. Hell it’s like the entire world stops spinning.

“Uh, yeah,” I cough to clear my throat. “Like I said, I ain’t the one that grabbed ya. I’m just a low man on the totem pole here. I have to keep my head down, stay focused on why I’m here.”

I’m not sure who I’m trying to convince, her or me. Fuck, yeah I am. I need to convince myself that I’m doing the right damn thing. That sticking to the plan is worth it. It’s taking everything in me not to take the girl and just fucking run. But then I would be leaving countless more women to suffer. I can’t do that. Shit, this fucking sucks.

“You can say that again.”

“Say what darlin’?”

“Oh, uh, well. That this sucks.”

I didn’t say that out loud. What the fuck?


Well crap! I messed up already. The look on the cowboy’s face says it all. He knows he didn’t speak the words out loud. I have to do better than this. I have to find a way out of here and get back home where I belong.

“What do these other guys want with me?” I ask in an attempt to take his mind off of my slip up.

“Well, ain’t that the million dollar question. Fuck, I’ve been here for six damn months and still haven’t figured out why they are taking all of these women. It just doesn’t make a lick of damn sense to me.”

“What do you mean, ‘all of these women’? There are more like me?”

Keeping his eyes on the ground and avoiding me at all costs he swallows, “Yeah. There are more. Lots more.”

My eyes go wide and my throat clogs.


No freaking way.

The rodeo scene plays out in my mind in graphic detail. I can still hear her screams and pleas echo in my head. I can see the terror in her eyes, the abject horror when she realized that no one would help her. I can feel her pain, her misery, her acceptance. My mind zeros in on the man sitting beside me and the part he played in the rodeo. If he were a good guy why would he do this? Why would he leave that woman at the mercy of the clown if it wasn’t an act.

Nothing makes sense anymore. My mind can’t keep up with the thoughts rushing through at warp speed. My brain refuses to adjust my reality to one that accepts what I am coming to realize.

The women workers. All of those booths and shows.

“No.” I gasp at the implication of what I am coming to understand.

Shaking my head, I look to him to clear things up. To make things right. This can’t be.

“Please... please, no. Don’t let it be true. I can’t do this. I can’t!”

He drops his head down to rest on his knees. He seems to be struggling with something. A decision he needs to make. Possibly with the idea of helping me escape from my new hell. His shoulders hunch in defeat.

“I am so goddamn sorry, sweetling.”

Or not.

“I understand.” I lie. I don’t understand any of this.

His head pops up and his eyes dart to the door.

“Shit! They’re here. You gotta
get back in the bag.” He reaches out and starts to pull the walls of my temporary prison back around me. His eyes meet mine and seem to beg for forgiveness for what he’s doing.  “Just remember what I said, okay? Don’t fight ‘
em. I’ll come to you when I can. I’ll protect you when I can. And as soon as I can, I will get you the fuck out of here. I promise, sweetling.”

His lips touch my forehead just before the bag is pulled shut and I’m surrounded by darkness yet again.

I hear the door open and heavy footsteps echo around me. I jump when the door slams shut.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing in here, Brett?”

“Hey man, no need in gettin’ ya fuckin’ panties in a twist. I’d be happier than a pig in shit to be back at my trailer climbin’ in bed instead of in here babysittin’ this chick.”

“Where’d she come from anyways?”

“Fuck if I know. Chuck was strugglin’ to carry the bag over here and asked me to do it instead. If we’re good here, I’m gonna head to bed. I’m fuckin’ beat man.”

A grunt sounds and I hear footsteps. The door opens and closes.

I’m alone with the stranger.

My body trembles in anticipation. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I have a feeling it won’t be good. I doubt very seriously if this one will be as nice as my cowboy.

Wait, what? My cowboy? He’s not my anything!

Something hard and pointy impacts my back and I cry out at the sudden pain. Crap, that hurt!

“What we got here, huh? You gonna cry for me, bitch?”

So he likes it when I cry. I’ll have to remember that and try to hold it in. He doesn’t deserve to hear my cries. The bag is ripped open and rough hands throw me to the ground. I grunt, but manage not to release the tears I can feel threatening against the back of my eyes.

“Ooo, a red-head. Are ya feisty too? I like ‘em feisty. Makes it more fun when I beat ya into submission.” His yellow grin has bile rising in my throat.

Keeping the cowboy’s words in my mind, I focus on my breathing. On staying calm and not fighting whatever is coming my way. I keep my mouth shut and just wait.

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