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I’ll use my captive’s body until her last breath.

To prove myself, I’m put in charge of the mafia’s latest captive. Teagan’s father owes us, and in exchange, he offers us his daughter’s life.

As the days pass, Teagan’s captivity intrigues me. Each time I indulge in her body, my mind rages with tenderness and violence.

I want to ravage her. Worship her. Destroy her. But then, I’m ordered to kill her.

Life will be easier if she’s dead, but I refuse to kill her. Teagen is mine, and if I have to turn my back on my own family, then so be it.

Author’s Note: This dark romance follows a cold mafia member and his sunshine captive. It contains disturbing content. Reader discretion is advised.

Content Warnings

Triggers & Content: captivity, graphic violence, murder, parental neglect, parental death, suicide (of a secondary character in flashbacks), sex work, dubious consent

Kinks: confinement, dubious consent, electro play, impact play, primal play, restraints, spanking

Interconnected Standalone: The couple gets their HEA, but the secret club plot continues throughout the series. 

Chapter 1
Teagan

The club member cinched the restraint tight, then sniffled, slicing through the silence. He hadn’t wanted any music; he preferred to hear me breathe. To drown in the rustle of the restraints against skin, the sharp intake of air when he pulled the straps too tight. And that quiet made me focus on every other sense. The sweat between my fingers, my palms flat against my thighs. The single white hair growing in the middle of his head, a beacon calling to be plucked. The taste of tangerine juice still lingering on my tongue from breakfast that afternoon. He smelled like the inside of my car after Iris and I binged on fast food. Had he visited a drive-thru restaurant before coming to the Dahlia District? Billionaire businessmen publically preferred gourmet cuisine, but everyone had their guilty pleasures.

 

“Is this okay?” he asked, sticking a finger in between the strap and my wrists.

 

“It’s tight, but in a good way,” I said, winking. He grinned in response. 

 

The club wasn’t open yet, but the three-star restaurant was, and Dahlia was always willing to make exceptions for visits to the Terrariums for the ‘right’ club members, as long as they had deep pockets. This club member and his associates were here for work. He was curious about the kink, and since he was being courted for a large business deal, his time with me one-on-one in the private rooms of the Terrariums was paid for by the others. Lucky him, and lucky me. 

 

“Not too tight?” he asked again.

 

Did he want it to be too tight? I shook my head and gave him a big smile. 

 

“You’re doing great.”

 

Maybe he had chosen me because I looked normal, like the girl next door you might corrupt. The kind of woman that would be shocked to learn about crops and whips. Maybe he wanted me to react more? But instead of being wide-eyed, I studied the patterns of moles on his bald, shiny head, trying to see if there were any constellations. A shooting star I could wish on. A nebula. A black hole. Being tied up like this wasn’t new to me.

 

A dark shadow hovered over the frosted window in the door. Then a knock interrupted us.

 

I bit my lip. I knew, before we even opened the door, that he was here. Call it a premonition. A gut instinct. Or that I had realized that morning that it had been a few months of silence, which meant he was due for a visit. 

 

The club member gave me a questioning look. I nodded towards the door. I couldn’t get it with my hands belted to my sides.

 

“They’d only interrupt if it’s an emergency,” I said. 

 

He opened the door, and Iris, clad in a slinky black dress and buckled platform boots, towered over the club member. She acknowledged him. “Hi,” she said. He opened his mouth, about to grunt his greeting, when she turned to me, ignoring him. “Your dad is here.” 

 

“Thanks,” I said. She closed the door behind her and I gave the most earnest eyes I could manage. Doe-eyes. Pleading eyes. “I’m sorry about this,” I paused, to give my tone more effect, “but we’ll have to postpone. We can pick up after I meet with my father. Maybe in an hour?” I shifted my shoulders, pressing my breasts forward. “That gives you time to finish dinner with your friends. More energy means more play.” 

 

“I understand,” he said. He unbuckled the first lock. “Family first. Always family first.” 

 

Once I was out of the restraints, I went to the Greenhouse, the attached building that housed the dressing rooms for the off-site servers and the dorm rooms for those of us who lived on-site. I grabbed the oversized shirt and pajama bottoms lying on my twin bed, then threw them over my lingerie. I fingered the harp necklace on my chest for good luck, then went to the kitchen. 

 

Dad sat at the round table, the window paned flower field poster above him. His hair was thin and wiry, like dried grass in a sun-beaten meadow. His shoulders were slumped, his elbow resting on the table. Dirt smudged the white table where he had been. The wrinkles on his forehead rippled when he saw me. It was like he had aged decades in the span of months. He looked seventy when he should have been in his early fifties. What would happen when he had no more years left to skip?

 

His eyes lit up as they fell on me, gaining back some of that youth instantly. There he was. My dad.

 

“You look wonderful, Tea. Better than wonderful.”

 

How I looked, and how I truly felt, never quite matched, but I smiled anyway. “How about some lunch?” I asked. It was almost six o’clock in the evening, but that didn’t matter. Dad never lived by regular hours, nor did I.

 

“Please. Anything you’ve got.”

 

In the refrigerator, I took the rest of the head of broccoli, some butter, and leftover grilled chicken from my shelf. I took out the box of linguine and a can of mushroom soup out of Iris’s shelf in the pantry. Luckily, no one else was in the kitchen, especially not with a man, my father, taking up space, which meant I had my pick of the pots and pans. Add a bunch of parmesan and freshly ground pepper to those ingredients, and you’d never know that it was basically repurposed leftovers. The most important part was that Dad would have an actual meal inside of him. I never knew what he was surviving on these days.

 

A server with blond crimped tendrils poked her head into the kitchen, then wrinkled her nose when she saw Dad. She disappeared. He sucked in a cough, then rubbed his forehead. I served him a heaping bowl and sat at the table across from him.

 

“You’re not eating,” he said.

 

“I’ll eat later.” 

 

He grunted. “You better not be starving yourself, Tea.”

 

I blinked. The concern was almost flattering, especially from him. I shrugged. “I’ll eat later,” I said again. It was better to get this over with. The less time we spent sitting around eating, the closer we were to business, when we could both move on with our lives.

 

“It’s good to see you.” He shoveled a spoonful into his mouth. “You must be—” He stared at me, then ate another bite, pretending like he wouldn’t talk right through it. 

 

“Twenty-five.”

 

“Twenty-five. Just yesterday you were my baby girl.” And to think, a mere seven years ago, he had sold me to the Dahlia District, claiming I would be safer locked inside of the club than I would be out in the real world. There was extensive security here, but what did Dad think he was protecting me from?

 

Let me make a correction: Dad had given my services to Dahlia, because Dahlia, and my father, didn’t believe in terminology that would link them to human trafficking. 

 

But I knew better. Dad did too.

 

“This is delicious, by the way,” he said. 

 

He slurped down the noodles, and I quietly boxed the rest for him in a take-away container, stealing it from another server’s supply. After I sat back down, he pushed his empty bowl towards me. 

 

“Will you play for me?” he asked. The weak way he said those words got me every time. Usually, he asked after he got the money, as if it would somehow make it less painful if our last few moments were spent with music, our biggest connection beyond the financial one. He was being more roundabout than usual, then. 

 

I put his bowl in the sink, eyeing the You use it, you wash it! above the faucet. Iris would give me a hard time if I left the bowl there, even for an hour, but she’d also understand. It was my dad. Like the club member had said, family came first. Even when it came to Greenhouse rules.

 

Dad followed me through the Greenhouse, past the dorm rooms and dressing room, out to the mostly empty Dahlia District. Our footsteps echoed through the main floor. The restaurant portion was lit, dishes clattering from the kitchen, with a few club members still left at a long table, the club member from before sitting amongst them again. With the fluorescent ceiling lights on, the club always looked different during the daytime. More artificial. Less sacred. Like a suddenly sunny haunted house, seeing the hiding places where the creatures hid in the shadows.

 

We went up the stairs to the stage. I moved my lap harp and bench out of the wings and played All I Ask of You, Dad’s favorite. It was one of the first songs I had played in a real recital, back when I was still a young girl. When I dreamed of studying music in college, when I wasn’t even sure if there was such a school for that. When selling my body and charm for a profit that I gave to Dahlia and my dad wasn’t even a thought in my mind.

 

When the song ended, a tear was in his eye. Every. Damn. Time.

 

And even after what we had been through, I swelled with pride at seeing the emotion on his face. Even if I couldn’t move anyone else in the world with my music, I could still move Dad. 

 

“Those music lessons really paid off,” he said, sniffling. There it was, his transition into asking for money. “I’m so glad I made you do those.”

 

“Yeah,” I mumbled. Because it’s not like he was grooming me for slavery. He was simply nurturing my talent.

 

“Teagen, I—” he paused, grasping his hands together. The full name always started it. Not Tea, but Teagen. “I need a favor.”

 

“What’s going on?” 

 

“There was a deal that went south for that antique vase I found. Remember, I told you?” By found, he meant stole. But I remembered. I nodded. “I need some money to get it repaired.”

 

Or, he owed money to some criminal for not finishing the agreement of actually obtaining the antique vase.

 

“How much?”

 

“Five thousand.”

 

I cringed. Though we could charge as much as we wanted per hour for one-on-one entertainment at the Dahlia District, a majority of it went to pay for our debts to Dahlia, including the cost of living on site. In order to save money, I had to make up excuses for Dahlia about why I needed cash, then stuffed those extra bills inside of my mattress. Because I knew that Dad would need it. And who would I be if I didn’t help my only family?

 

Back in my dorm room, I made sure no one was following us, then flipped the mattress, pulling out a large plastic grocery bag full of a mix of hundreds, twenties, and tens. I handed it to him.

 

“Be sure to actually get it repaired this time,” I said. And not gamble it away on some stupid bet. 

 

His eyebrows gathered together and he squeezed his eyes shut, a heavy sigh escaping him. He gestured at my neck. 

 

“Let me have the necklace,” he said. “I’ll bring it back soon.”

 

A short breath huffed out of my nose, but I undid the clasp and looked at it. He had given me the golden harp necklace as a present right before my first recital. I never took it off, unless he asked for it, which he did every once in a while, disappearing with it for a few days. I never questioned what he did with it.

 

“I’m no fool,” he said softly, clasping his palm around the tarnished gold. His voice grew quieter: “You deserve better than what I’ve given you.” Pain crowded his eyes. “I’m not a father. Not even a man. I’m a joke.”

 

A tight pain surfaced in the back of my throat. He had never said anything like that before. He was usually full of hope, talking about repaying my debt so that he could set me free. A reality we both liked to talk about, even though we knew it would never come true.

 

“It’s fine, Dad,” I said. “You did what you had to do.”

 

He stared at me, a melancholy look heavy in his eyes. He shook his head and sighed again, the weighty sound cutting through me. 

 

“We both know that’s not true.” He lifted his closed fist, the gold chain hanging out of his hand. “You deserve better.”

 

I walked him to the door, and he ambled forth, a slight limp to his gait, then he turned around and squeezed my shoulder. 

 

“See you soon, Tea.”

 

The door swung shut behind him. Iris was leaning on the doorframe to the kitchen. The platform boots were off now, so she was a foot shorter than before. It was part of her persona in the club, but in the Greenhouse, she didn’t need to be taller. Everyone called her Mama Bear no matter how tall or short she was. Especially me, her best friend.

 

“How much did he need this time?” she asked.

 

“Five thousand,” I said. 

 

Iris whistled. “Did you give it to him?” I nodded. “I don’t get it. Family seems so damn complicated. He sells you to pay his debt, and somehow, he still needs money. From you.” She groaned. “Shouldn’t you be the one asking him for money?

 

I shrugged. Iris didn’t understand because she had never felt a connection with her biological parents, and her foster parents hadn’t been much better.

 

“He has no one else,” I said.

 

“So what? He dug his own grave.”

 

“He needs me.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “He needs your wallet.”

 

On most days, especially when I hadn’t seen my dad in a while, I agreed with Iris. I had always been a commodity to him, a show pony to brag about, his talented daughter who could play any instrument, the young woman he could sell into sex slavery. But this time, I couldn’t bring myself to think those thoughts. In the end, it was just us, just Dad and me. We were the only family we had left, and family always came first. And there had been something different this time, that deep regret lingering in his voice. What had happened? What had changed?

 

I might never know, but I wouldn’t let myself think those horrible thoughts about him. Not right then, anyway.

 

“One day, I’m going to save enough so that we can have a normal life,” I said, staring at the only other art on the wall, a painting one of the past servers had created: a desolate ocean, vaster than my heart felt. If I could do that for him, if I could give my dad a peaceful life, then maybe he wouldn’t have to gamble anymore. He wouldn’t need it.

 

“He doesn’t deserve shit.”

 

I shrugged. “It’ll be good for him.”

 

“You are fucking nuts.”

 

We headed down the hallway of the Greenhouse back to the main floor of the club. We opened the door, peering out together. The same group of businessmen was in the corner of the lounge now. But the club member I had been entertaining before was walking towards the entrance to the private rooms, his arm linked with a thick blond, Kendall. The same server who had poked her head into the kitchen when I was cooking for Dad. The man’s bald head shined as they walked under the lights towards the Terrariums. 

 

“She stole him right out from under you,” Iris said.

 

I didn’t mind. Really. 

 

“He smelled like a double beef patty,” I said. “Zoo-style.”

 

Iris cackled. “Gross!”

 

We watched the two of them disappear behind the black door. “But he was nice,” I offered. “I think he’ll tip her well.”

 

“Good for Kendall,” Iris said. 

 

“Yeah. Good for her.”

 

I went to rub my harp necklace but placed a hand on my bare chest instead. Iris motioned back inside. “We can finish getting ready together, then.”

 

I followed her back to her room and let out a happy sigh. Impact play equipment hung on her walls. She was the only server who specialized in topping the club members. The rest of us preferred bottoming. 

 

“I thought you were meeting with the new club owner?” I asked.

 

She plopped onto the ottoman and picked up a pencil of black eyeliner. “Little bitch chickened out.”

 

I raised a brow. “Little bitch?” 

 

She gave a side-smile. “Well, Dahlia had to cancel because of some emergency meeting with the Adlers.”

 

“The Adlers, huh?” I asked. The Dahlia District was outwardly an elite and private entertainment club for billionaires, but it was a cover for a lot of criminal activity, including the sex trafficking of the servers, like us. But with a high monthly payment, the Adlers made sure that we, the servers—Dahlia’s main asset—never ran away, and that we were protected from abusers and the police. The Adlers were a crime family that had taken hold of Sage City decades ago, but they still protected us here, in the forgotten neighboring town of Cresting Heights. 

 

“Do you think the Adlers are upset about the new owner?” I asked.

 

“Don’t know. She didn’t tell me anything.” Iris shook her head. “Maybe that’s what it’s about. But I don’t know. She was acting all weird about it. More evasive than usual. It’s probably something else.” She shrugged. “I’ll get it out of her eventually.”

 

What could they possibly want? I grabbed my curler from Iris’s dresser and started touching up my waves. It was hard to imagine what a crime family might want, especially when it came to a place like the Dahlia District. Anything was possible.

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