Stone Cold Cowboy

By: Jennifer Ryan

He cocked his head to the side and smirked, though it wasn’t reassuring. “Nice try. I might have believed you, but then you had to go and take a shot at my nuts. Now I’m going to teach you a lesson.”

He pulled the rope close and tied one end to the wire around her wrists. She tried to pull free and scramble away, but she only ended up hurting worse when he wrestled her into submission, her hands crushed under his punishing grasp. Once the rope was secure, he finally rose up and took his weight off her middle. Finally, she could breathe easier, but her breath stopped when he walked right over her head, yanked the rope, and dragged her over the mud and grass. She rolled to her stomach, pulled back on the ropes, squealing out in pain when the wire dug into her skin, and rushed up to her feet. Better to trot after him like a dog on a leash than get dragged over the ground.

“Please, let me go.”

He didn’t respond, just walked right up to a big tree. She pulled back, not wanting to get tied to the trunk, but he had other ominous ideas. He held the rope close to her by one hand and used the other to toss the other end of the rope up and over a high, thick limb. He pulled the slack tight, then pulled again until her toes barely touched the ground. She wiggled to get free, but it only hurt her wrists more. Fresh blood trailed down her arms. She kicked out her feet, trying to get him to let loose the rope. He anticipated her move, drew his knife again, and slashed at her legs in a wide arc, catching her across her left thigh and right knee. She yelled in pain and stopped struggling, stunned he’d cut her. The sting burned like fire.

“Keep it up. I like it when you bleed.” The menacing note of truth in his words sent a bolt of fear through the denial in her mind that he couldn’t be serious. But he was.

Afraid that all her fighting would only lead to more pain, she hung there, trying to think of anything she could say to change his mind about leaving her strung up in the biting cold. Even now, her skin felt like ice. She wiggled her numb toes, hoping to restore circulation. Thanks to the wire around her wrists, she couldn’t feel her hands.

He came toward her again, this time with his eyes on her breasts that were now at his eye level. He reached out to touch her. She pulled her knees up to her belly, planted her feet on his chest, and shoved him away. “Don’t you dare touch me.” The order didn’t hold as much weight when she ended up swinging back and forth from her hands, grunting in pain as each movement made the wire bite deeper into her skin.

He moved forward again. She kicked at him again and again, her body swinging and twisting from the rope. She ignored the excruciating pain. Too soon she tired and swung back and forth, unable to pick up her legs and strike out at him again. Defeat tasted vile. She swallowed the sour taste, hoping she didn’t disgrace herself more and vomit.

He smiled and laughed, planting a hand on her belly and pushing, sending her swinging yet again. He’d been taunting her, tiring her out so she couldn’t fight him off anymore. She’d played right into his hands. She needed to be smart, think, find a way out of this despite the reality staring her in the face—she was well and truly screwed.

“If I had more time, and those assholes weren’t so fucking stupid and could finish this job on their own . . .” He left the rest unsaid. He didn’t need to finish. The leering gaze he swept over her body said everything. Her mind conjured one gruesome thing after the next; all of them made her stomach pitch, bile rising up her throat.

After so many minutes holding her up, he struggled to hold the rope and tied off the end around the trunk of the tree, leaving her dangling in the wind. The devil dude grabbed the bundle of barbed wire and brought it back. He wound one end around the wire at her wrists to anchor it, then wrapped the rest around both her arms, down over her shoulders. The sharp edges dug into her skin like little bites of pain.

She couldn’t help the tears anymore, or the pleading in her voice she hated. “No, please don’t do this.”

“I like it when you beg, but seeing you bleed gets me off.” He rubbed his hand over his crotch and leered at her again.

She met his lust-filled gaze, unable to watch him stroke the bulge in his jeans, knowing at any second he could change his mind, dump her back on the ground, and torture her a whole other way. “Please. The cold is enough. I can’t get free. You don’t have to do this.”

He cocked his head and grinned. “I don’t have to. I want to.”

He put the truth in his words to work and pulled the wire around her back and across her chest, once, twice, and over her breasts. To punish her even more for getting in her licks earlier, he pulled the wire on both sides of her tight, making the barbs pierce her thin bra and skin.

“No.” She bit back another yelp when he pulled the wire even tighter.

“Uh, the trucks will be at the meeting place in an hour. We need to go if we’re going to make it in time and before it gets dark,” Tony said from behind the devil dude.

“I’ll be right there. Gather up any strays and start pushing the herd down the valley again.”

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