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The Placebo Effect

By April Cronin

Copyright © 2017 April Cronin


Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the permission of the author.

Cover Photo by Adobe Stock

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1

January 22nd

Closing the door and slipping the key into the lock, Olivia locked up her office, she was looking forward to the weekend ahead. It had been several weeks since she'd visited her brother at the family sandwich shop he now owned. Their parent’s having retired and making the subsequent move back to the Greek Isles after spending the past thirty-five years in America.

A visit was long overdue as far as she was concerned. Perhaps she'd even give him a hand and help out. She'd worked at the shop with her parents and her brother as a teenager, something like that you just didn't forget, it was like riding a bike. In fact, she found more often than not that when she chose to visit, she was usually wrangled into pitching in.

The shop stayed pretty busy, and she could always stay in the apartment above it if she were so inclined. Her brother's last tenants had moved out recently and as the shop was massively profitable, he'd decided to leave it vacant for when their parents chose to visit, which was usually three to four times a year. As much as they both loved their parents, Olivia and Amadeus agreed that having their folks stay with them for more than a day or two at a time was most inconvenient.

They were a pretty tight knit family, but Franklin and Eleanor could manage to get under your skin in a matter of minutes. Both Olivia and Amadeus were in their early thirties, and both were single. They were likewise tired of the constant badgering by their parents to settle down and get married. Frank and Ellie meant well of course and were dying for a couple of grandchildren, which was fine, but Olivia and Amadeus weren't quite ready for all that a family entailed.

Amadeus was working on expanding the sandwich shop, he wanted to build a location in Chicago, always longing to live and work in the city he adored. And since he'd only been managing the shop on his own for about a year now, it was no small task to expand.

Olivia, meanwhile, was too busy working her way up the corporate ladder to have any interest in shacking up and settling down. She'd been working for Seaward Staffing Services for almost twelve years now. Starting out at the tender age of eighteen as a secretary while she earned her MBA, Olivia had worked her ass off, recruiting new clients, and learning the business inside and out, finally earning herself a partnership in the company.

An agency that staffed several large cities in the area, to include Chicago and the surrounding areas, as well as Gary, Indiana, where they were located, and a few of its suburbs. They even had a small hub office in Indianapolis that Mr. Seaward visited once or twice a month. And though they didn't actually service Elkhart, where the family shop was, at least in the way of providing temp services, they did provide payroll services for many businesses in that area, including her brother's shop.

They had also recently expanded into New York, with talks to open agencies in Miami and Los Angeles within a few years as well. At which time Olivia might retain full control of their Gary/Chicago location; Mr. Seaward had an affinity for Florida and owned a condo near Miami already.

She was excited, thrilled even. Maybe once she took over the Gary/Chicago location, she'd oblige her parents and start looking for a husband.

But not just yet.

As she passed by the front desk, Olivia waved to the receptionist, who was packing up for the weekend herself. Alley was in her early twenties, and often times spent her weekends clubbing in the city. Olivia envied her sometimes. To be young and careless. Something she never was. Well, maybe she'd been younger once, but she was never careless, and continually strove for something better. Having once been a secretary for the company herself, she knew, about what Alley made, and it was more than enough to support herself in the type of lavish lifestyle she enjoyed, but Olivia had wanted more.

Alley waved politely, long past trying to convince Olivia to join her at the clubs anymore, and pulled her hair into a ponytail as she finished gathering up her stuff. By now, everyone in the company pretty much knew Olivia didn't socialize outside of work functions. At least not with anyone other than Mr. Seaward, and even then, the Seawards were like family to her. After being turned down countless times, Alley had given up.

She wasn't the first and probably wouldn't be the last however to try and include Olivia in social activities. But as a rule, Olivia tried to avoid fraternizing with her employees. She had the occasional meal with Mr. Seaward and his wife, which was expected even more since she'd become a partner, but after a particularly hard breakup and a vicious rumor concerning her and one of the previous managers, Olivia had decided long ago that it just wasn't worth it. After the old manager had been let go, and the rumors finally died down, Olivia had stopped being referred to as the office slut and was eventually dubbed the Ice Queen, and well, that was that.

Mr. Seaward's personal secretary was still in her office, and probably wouldn't leave for another hour yet, so Olivia didn't need to worry about waiting for Alley to leave, Louise would lock up on her way out. With an absent wave towards Alley, who was too busy shutting down her computer to notice, Olivia strode out of the building and into the parking garage just around the corner.

He watched her leave.

Her head held high, the blue-black of her inky hair glistening in the evening light, the gentle sway of her hips as she sashayed down the sidewalk, her pencil skirt shifting across her voluptuous behind. He nearly salivated as his gaze traveled down her backside to her long lean legs, her calves flexing under the pressure of walking in those five-inch spiked heels. God, she was amazing.

He wanted her.

By God, he would have her too. The snooty little bitch. Always looking down her nose at him. Ignoring him even. Didn't she know who he was? Didn't she realize her souls' yearning desire for him? Oh, they were a match, and he knew it. She might have been a little higher up in the pecking order than he, but they were equals. And he'd known from the moment he'd first laid eyes on her twelve years ago that she was made for him.

He could remember how young and vulnerable she'd been. How he'd helped her overcome her fears, taken her under his wing and shown her the way. Taught her things, like who she could trust, and who would use her shamelessly. And what had the bitch done? How had she shown him her gratitude? She'd gone and hooked up with that sleazeball manager of hers! Typical woman. Using her body to advance her career! If only it hadn't worked! If only Mr. Seaward hadn't rushed in and scooped her up for himself.

Maybe he would've had a chance then. But after the downfall, after Roderick had been fired, Olivia got promoted, and he was denied his regular access to her. He saw her in passing, perhaps sometimes on their lunch breaks, but with her office away from the main lobby, he'd hardly had any time to talk to her. And after a while, it seemed she had forgotten him altogether.

He could still remember it; the company picnic, walking up to her where she sat alone at one of the tables, pushing food around on her plate and looking simply despondent. Her full lips turned down in a pout, her eyes cast towards the ground, her forehead wrinkled in a pucker. And yet, she was so beautiful, she'd nearly taken his breath away.

“Olivia?” he said.

She looked up, her dark blue eyes searching his face, for what he wasn't sure. “I'm sorry, did you want something?” She had finally asked.

And his heart had sunk. His smile fell. Did he want something? What kind of question was that? Is that how you greeted a trusted friend? Had he not shown her the ropes? Had he not been her best friend for the first few months of her employment? How easily she had cast him aside once she'd dug her claws into Mr. Seaward. Oh, he knew what they all said about her. He knew how she was mocked, and called the company slut behind her back. He'd heard all the rumors. She was so much more than just Mr. Seaward's personal assistant. He knew it, everyone knew it.

Not only had she'd had a brief affair with her previous manager, oh no, now she was sleeping with the owner of the company! And probably his partner as well! Rumors were abounding as to just how far she'd slept her way up the ladder, and how much further she was willing to go.

“I'm, I'm sorry,” he'd stammered. “Excuse me,” he said before turning and walking away, too stunned, too pissed off to stand there and embarrass himself in front of her further.

He'd looked back at her a few minutes later. Watched as Mrs. Seaward approached her, and her face lit up, her lips curved, the dimples in her cheeks softening the hardness of her high cheekbones. Disgusting! How could she could she be so cold? Sleeping with the poor woman's husband, and yet smiling so sweetly to her face! He hated her then. Hated her with a passion so deep seeded that he'd wanted to kill her. Relished the thought even. Placing his hands around her throat and squeezing the life out of her. Watching as the light in her eyes faded.

His cock had twitched at the thought of it.

He thought about plunging into her as he did it. Spilling himself inside her while the very life was choked from her. Perhaps she'd even come while her earthly ties were severed. His groin throbbed, pulsing to life as he imagined being sheathed by her tight little cunt.

He shook his head, trying to rid himself of the horrible moment he had allowed the beast inside him to roam free. Even now, he was aroused. It had been years since that awful day in which his perfect angel had fallen from grace. The rumors of her adultery had long since faded. She was the Ice Queen now. So cold, so haughty, so utterly beautiful.

Olivia had certainly come into herself since first arriving on the company doorstep a fragile fawn, all lean and gangly like. She was willowier now, but she'd certainly filled out in all the right places. An hourglass figure, tall, and exotic.

We were meant for each other my sweet. He thought to himself as he watched her disappear from view. Not that he didn't know where she was headed. He knew everything there was to know about Olivia Mozatis, after all.

The product of immigrant parents, Greek, the both of them. They opened a sandwich shop in Elkhart and then used their American-born son, Amadeus, as their anchor baby once their visa's expired. Olivia came along less than a year later. She worked in her parent’s shop until she was eighteen when she got a job with Seaward Staffing, the very company her parents used for payroll services. She was thirty now. Owned a house in Hobart. She had a cat she'd adopted a few years back but otherwise lived alone.

And other than the one unfortunate relationship with a former manager of Seaward Staffing, she hadn't been linked to anyone else in a long time. Sure there'd been talk around the company about her sleeping with this person or that, and for a time he had believed it, for a time, the beast within had convinced him it was true, but in his position, he was often privy to information that others weren't. And he quickly realized he'd been wrong all those years ago. It was just so hard to keep the beast within at bay sometimes. So he had believed it then.

Yes, Mr. Seaward had taken a personal interest in her, but only on a professional level. And yes, she often dined with the Seawards since being promoted last year to partner, but rarely was Mrs. Seaward absent from those meetings, and when she was, they dined publicly, and usually with clients. She was never alone with Mr. Seaward, or with any other man in the company for that matter. He knew these things; he'd been following her every move for the last few years now.

He knew her parents had moved back to Greece. He knew she visited her brother and stayed in an apartment above the shop he now owned at least once a month. He knew she constantly turned down offers from coworkers to hang out. And he knew she hadn't dated a man in more than six months.

She was waiting for him.

And the more he told himself that, the more he started to believe it. Because he remembered how sweet, young, ripe for the taking Olivia, had flirted with him in those early days. Shamelessly she teased him, day after day. He'd completely blocked out the fact of course, that she'd turned him down the one time he'd worked up the courage to ask her out. No, he didn't think about that now as he conjured up her sliding behind the wheel of her prissy little Mercedes.

He merely imagined what it was going to be like to finally make love to her. To feel her luscious, yet firm body writhing beneath him. Her long tan legs wrapped around his waist, pulling him into her further, burying him to the hilt, begging him to drive himself deeper, further, until their very souls touched.

She belonged to him. She had been created for him. And tonight they would mate. Tonight they would join their bodies, their souls, together.

Chapter 2

The moment she unlocked the door to her home, Spook, the fluffy little black and white cat she'd adopted a few years back came running towards her, winding between her legs and rubbing against her mercilessly while she purred emphatically. Olivia laughed, bending down to scoop the little ball of fluff into her arms and press her face into the softness of her fur. Spook was her best friend, a Godsend really. For without the needy and somewhat eccentric cat, Olivia would have been far too lonely.

When she had finally moved out of the apartment she'd shared with a friend from college, and bought her own place, she'd relished the independence, but as time wore on, she grew increasingly lonely. Donna, her college roommate suggested she get a pet. So she'd visited the local shelter thinking she'd get a dog. But realizing how unfair it would be to keep such an active and dependent creature locked up and alone all day while she was away at work, she'd headed in the direction of the cat room instead.

Cats didn't require as much attention. A little food and water, a clean litter box, and of course, affection on their terms. Hearing the shelter staff explain the benefits of choosing a cat rather than a dog in her situation, had made sense to her, and when she'd laid eyes on Spook, she'd fallen in love.

Spook with her long fur, and her big yellow eyes. Half of her face was black, and the rest of her white, except for a black tipped tail. And to top it off, she'd been born on Halloween. Yes, it was love at first sight for Olivia, and though Spook had been a little shy at first, she'd warmed up quickly, and had been Olivia's companion ever since. Anyone who said a cat wasn't affectionate had never met Spook before. She was as loving and needy as they came.

Just the way Olivia wanted it.

Olivia didn't have many friends. There was Donna, from college, but as she was married and had two children now, eventually moving to Chicago, Olivia saw her less and less these days. There was her brother, but other than the monthly visits she made, and the few times they talked over the phone, they were both just so busy. And she hadn't dared socialize with anyone at work, not since that fiasco with Roderick. She just couldn't risk it. But how else did one meet people?

She'd done the whole speed dating thing once, and she'd even gone on a couple of blind dates as well that she'd set up online, but Olivia just didn't have much interest in dating. There was so much going on at work, and so many things yet to come, she didn't have the time or the energy to properly devote to a relationship. No, Spook would have to do for now.

Pouring a little kitty chow into her bowl, Olivia set the yowling cat down in front of it and walked into her bedroom to shed her skirt and blouse. It was a scorcher out there today, unusual for January, but there you have it, and despite the AC in her house on full blast, her silk top still clung to her, and her thighs were slick with sweat as they rubbed together under the tight fabric of her skirt.

From his vantage point on top of the wall that bordered her property, he peered through his binoculars and watched the sensuous scene that unfolded in front of him. Perhaps he should have felt guilty for spying on her, maybe he should even be sick to his stomach at all the effort he'd put in over the years stalking her, but he'd grown accustomed to it. He the predator, and she the prey.

He never questioned his morals, never thought to seek help for his abnormal behavior. The beast inside him needed only reassurance before it would slip away into the depths of his blackened soul again. There was nothing wrong with tossing the beast a few scraps here and there. He'd only observed her up until this point. But he wasn't a voyeur by any means, she was his after all, and he was just trying to protect her virtue.

Not that he'd really had to over the years. Olivia didn't date much, and he knew she hadn't been intimate with anyone in a long time. He'd just bet she had a vibrator, though. Maybe they could play with it together. He could imagine lubing it up, and sliding it in and out of her tight sheath as she moaned, stroking him, and pleading with him to make her come.

They would do many things tonight. And he would have her begging him for more, which he would gladly give her. Over and over and over again. Just thinking about all the things they were going to do together had him all hot and bothered. But it wasn't time yet. He had a few things he needed to do first. For now, though, he was content to watch her undress. It was like she was stripping just for him, his own private little peep show.

She didn't feel the need for privacy, her curtains open just the right amount to let in the fading light, and the lamp on her bedside table made her practically glow. She slowly unbuttoned her white silk blouse, one button at a time, sliding it off her left shoulder and then the right as she pulled the tails out of her powder blue skirt. Tossing the blouse on the bed she reached for the zipper at the back of her skirt, he could almost imagine standing behind her, grasping the zipper in his own hands and sliding the material down her long lithe limbs.

The skirt pooled at her feet where she stepped out of it, still wearing her heels, and clad in what could only be called matching scraps of lace, the material of her bra and panties so insubstantial as they were, she was glorious. Her bronzed skin, her high breasts threatening to spill from her tiny pink bra, the round disks of her dark nipples just barely discernible in the fluorescent lighting. What he wouldn't give to be in that room with her right now.


It was almost time. Ripping the binoculars away from his face, he jumped down from the wall, adjusted his slacks to loosen the pressure around his thickening groin and marched off in the direction of his truck. Olivia lived in the suburbs, the end of a dead end street that backed up to another neighborhood that was still in development.

It made things so much easier for him, especially since the back of her perimeter wall was up against a slope. It might keep certain animals from wandering onto her property, but it did nothing to deter a hunter like him. And with the right amount of tree coverage, he really did have the perfect vantage point, nearly undetectable, with an unobstructed view of her bedroom window to boot!

With his truck parked in the empty lot of what would eventually be her neighbor’s yard, a spot he'd scouted months ago when he decided to stop being a voyeur and take their relationship to the next level, he'd taken his time, sought out her habits, and planned his next move. He was tired of their idle water cooler chit chat and the stolen flirtations at closing time, tonight they would take the next step. Tonight they would cement their feelings for each other. Tonight, he would finally claim her as his!

After a long hot shower, Olivia slipped into her favorite nightgown, a bright red chemise that hung nearly to her ankles and felt luxuriously soft against her skin, and plopped down onto the couch where she and Spook curled up together to watch the latest episode of the Bachelor she'd DRV'd, reality TV being one of her favorite past times, that and a good book.

She thought about tomorrow, what time she would get up, what she might wear, and whether or not she would stay at her brother's shop. She enjoyed working at the shop with him, didn't mind getting her hands a little dirty, and he was short staffed more often than not. The shop, as it had been, was still a client of Seaward Staffing, they provided payroll services mostly, but from time to time, a temp was found through them as well. Nobody lasted very long there, though. Amadeus wasn't a tough boss by any means, but the work was rather demanding.

They were a very busy deli and did catering and delivery as well. Having worked there herself since she was a little girl, Olivia knew just how demanding the work really was. And while there were a few employees that had been there for a lengthy period of time, most of the part-timers came and went faster than the changing seasons.

Olivia wasn't sure if she felt like working this weekend. It had been a rough week at Seaward Staffing as it was. Trying to plan their upcoming expansion into Miami was no small order. And being as the Seawards were planning to move down there and manage it themselves, that left Olivia tasked with figuring out what came next for her own agency.

Her own agency. Gosh, it was nice to say that. While it would still be known as Seaward Staffing Services, and Mr. Seaward would still command a profit, as well as hold the final say in any decisions she may make, it would for all intents and purposes be her agency. She would run it. She would staff it. She would be in charge.

Lost in thoughts of what would be, what could be, Olivia was startled by the knock at the door. It wasn't necessarily late, but as she certainly hadn't been expecting anyone, it made her more nervous than curious about who had decided to call on her at this time of the evening on a Friday night. As she crept closer to the door, Spook took off for her usual hiding spot under the couch, her ears pinned back, as she glared at Olivia.

Olivia laughed, trying to calm her own nerves, “it's okay Spook, you silly kitty.” She said in what she thought was a soothing voice.

As she opened the door, though, Spook shot out from under the couch, streaking down the hallway, her fur on end, and a loud hiss erupting from her throat.

It was just the distraction he needed. That stupid cat freaking out and darting past caught Olivia's attention at just the right moment.

It was fate.

Carrying a large vase of flowers, and wearing a nondescript gray uniform along with a pair of shades and a wig, he had hoped to gain entrance under the guise of a delivery man. Olivia was his, there was no doubt about that, but he knew it would probably take a little coaxing to get her to comply. So as the cat distracted her, he pulled a small Taser from his pocket and shoved it against the smooth column of her throat.

Olivia gasped as the cold steel of the Taser pressed into the hollow of her neck. She couldn't see the man that stood before her, there was a large vase overstuffed with flowers between them, but as he walked into the house, closing the door behind him with his foot, she closed her eyes and began to pray silently. When he spoke, his words were low and harsh as he instructed her to head towards her bedroom, she didn't recognize his voice, though she thought she should have.

The sleeves of the uniform he wore were rolled up, and on his forearm was a tattoo of some sort of tribal symbol. Something she could swear she'd seen before. If only she could recall where! Olivia wasn't stupid by any means; she knew what was going to happen next. And she thought, she hoped, that perhaps if he let her live, afterward she might be able to somehow identify him or something. She tried to stay calm. Whatever it took to stay alive, that's what she'd do.

Once they got into the bedroom, where Spook could be heard hissing and yowling under the bed, he pushed her face down onto the mattress, holding the Taser against the back of her neck so she didn't try to look at him as he placed the flowers on the bedside table and straddled her on the mattress. She could feel the hardness of his shaft in the cleft of her buttocks, and swallowing the bile that rose in her throat she began to cry, hair getting caught in her mouth and forcing her to try and calm down as she gagged.

Her body shook with violent sobs as he applied a blindfold and flipped her over, securing her hands and feet to the bed railings. She tried desperately to stay calm, and when her nerves failed her, she started pleading, begging him not to hurt her.

As he stared down at her, lashed to the bed, and completely helpless, a smile bloomed across his face. She was even more beautiful than he'd ever thought possible. Her skin soft and bronze in the low light of the lamp, the outline of her breasts full and heavy under the thin fabric of her chemise, and despite the tears that tracked down her perfect face, despite her squeaky protests and pleas, he felt the weight of his groin against the fly of his trousers.

He ran a hand down the side of her face, and when she flinched, the beast inside him began to stir. It was bad enough he'd had to restrain her, and worse yet that she had started to cry. This wasn't how he'd imagined it. She'd been willing and pliant in all of his many fantasies. And yet, as she lay there, she tried to struggle against her restraints, pressing herself further into the mattress in an attempt to shrink away from him.

“Stop struggling and you might actually enjoy this Olivia,” he whispered in her ear before shoving his tongue deep into the warm canal, sucking at her earlobe, and causing her sobs to rack her body harder.

The beast was angry now. The bitch wouldn't stop crying. Hadn't he been gentle this whole time? Wasn't he kissing her, caressing her even in the way any woman might want to be touched? He tried to keep the beast at bay, he tried to tamp down the anger and the hatred her cries elicited, but as his hands began to knead her breasts and she jerked away from him, the beast fought to get loose.

He had called her by name! He even had the audacity to tell her she'd enjoy being raped! Try as she might, though, she didn't recognize his voice. He smelled of stale cigarettes and pepperoni, his skin was clammy against her own, and his voice a harsh whisper in her ear.

When he touched her, though, she became panicked. She was sickened by the feel of his hands on her, but her body seemed to react, her fear was an aphrodisiac, and surely it would only turn him on even more. Reacting to that fear, she tried to shy away from him, she bucked and struggled beneath him. Still, he kept touching her, gently, methodically even. It wasn't until she spit at him that he moved away from her.

Her relief, however, was short-lived. He cursed at her, and in the next instant his hand came down across her face. Olivia felt the sting of that slap for what seemed like an eternity before his weight pressed her into the mattress again, and his lips began to softly caress the side of her face where he had slapped her. She cried in earnest now. And she could feel him trembling against her, the steel of his arousal pressing into the hollow of her womanhood, his breath hot and rank on her neck as he whispered words he hoped would soothe her.

He was sorry he had to slap her, but she must not spit at him. She would enjoy this if only she would be still, he said. Please, he begged, just let him love her like she wanted him to. Like she wanted him to? Olivia had no idea who this madman was, but she certainly didn't want him to make love to her! There had to be a way to get him to stop this, but as she continued to try and struggle out of her restraints, as tears flowed down her face in a salty plea, she could tell she was only making him angrier. And she feared he would hit her again.

This wasn't at all as he had planned it, though his body responded, though he was more than ready to take her and claim her body as his own, he just wasn't into it mentally. He needed to find a way to make her stop. To make her understand. He tried teasing her body into submission, and he could feel the way she responded, even if involuntarily, if only she'd quit crying!

The beast had already hit her once, and he'd liked it. If she didn't quit crying, the beast might lash out again. And as a thought came to mind, it took root deep within him, maybe if she was unconscious he could enjoy this a little more. Sure, he'd like to have her cooperation, but if she wasn't capable of giving it to him, he might just have to force her into it.

Pressing the Taser into the softness of her flat belly, he leaned closer, whispered into her ear, “this is your last chance Olivia, if you can't stop crying, I'm going to be forced to use this. I don't want to hurt you, Olivia, I only want to love you.”

“Then let me go!” she cried, “I promise I won't tell anyone about this!”

He laughed, oh Olivia, sweet naive Olivia. She hadn't seen him to be able to tell anyone anything, and by the time he was done, there wouldn't be any evidence to prove he'd ever been in her home, to begin with.

“I can't let you go, Olivia, you're mine, and it's time you understand this thing between us.”

“You're crazy!”

“Oh Olivia, how I've waited for this moment,” he leaned further against her, licking the side of her mouth, sucking her full bottom lip into his mouth as she struggled against him. “You taste exactly how I thought you would.” Using one hand, he lifted the bottom of her nightgown and began stroking her soft womanly folds. She gasped, crying out in both panic and pleasure as he fingered her until her body responded with a hot wetness.

The Taser still pressed into her belly, he slid himself down her body and tasted her more intimately. Olivia thrashed then, unable to bear it a second longer, one of her knees struck him in the face. The beast broke free then, he reeled back, screamed at her, lashed out and punched her repeatedly in the face as his nose began to bleed profusely.

Olivia shrieked beneath him, her own nose now broken, her lip split open, blood gushing from multiple wounds as he continued to pound on her. The Taser finally firing against her inner thigh as he yelled obscenities at her.

He ripped the blindfold from her face then, “look at me bitch!” he shouted.

Her body jerking, an explosion of pain as he pressed the Taser between her legs and continued to pull the trigger. She clamped her eyes shut, trying to hold on, trying to fight, as the darkness finally overcame her.

Her last thought before the darkness consumed her was, oh my God, he's going to kill me.

Chapter 3

“Be still and you might enjoy it, Olivia.” His breath was hot on her skin, his body slick with sweat as he rutted against her. “You belong to me Olivia,” he said to her as he stiffened and spilled himself into her. She screamed, her head thrashing from side to side as he laughed at her mercilessly.

“Olivia," he said again, his voice sounding far off. “Olivia, can you hear me? Come back to us Olivia.”

No, not his voice. A woman, her baritone soothing and gentle. Olivia struggled to latch onto the sound. Pain ricocheted through her head, color exploding behind her eyelids as she breached the edge of awareness. Perspiration beaded her forehead, her eyes were heavy, and it hurt as she tried to open them. Her mouth was dry, her lips felt two sizes bigger and as she ran her course tongue along them she felt a cavernous split down the middle of her bottom lip.

Where am I? Was her first thought, and though she tried to communicate with the woman who was gently patting her hand, she couldn't force the words out. Her throat felt terribly raw.

“Olivia.” The voice said again, “you're awake.”

She nodded, or, at least she thought she did. She couldn't be sure. Between the pain and the sense of weightlessness, she didn't know which body parts worked and which ones didn't.

“Olivia, if you can hear me, I want you to try and squeeze my hand.”

She tried. Yes, I can hear you, she thought to herself. Where am I? Why can't I move?

“Good, that's good.” The voice soothed. “I'm Dr. Henshaw, you're in the hospital, Olivia.”

She squeezed her eyes shut, a lone tear leaking out of the side of her swollen oculus.

“We can talk more in a little while; you need to rest. Rest now, Olivia. You're safe here.”

Don't leave me! Her mind screamed as the warm sensation of the doctor's hand faded, and a sense of dread crept over her. Olivia had no idea how she'd landed in the hospital, the last thing she could remember was leaving the office. But she hurt, oh how she hurt. She was almost glad she couldn't summon the strength to move her hands, for fear of what she might find. It was so hard to open her eyes more than a little, her lips were split and swollen, she couldn't speak, her throat was dry and screaming, she desperately wanted water.

How did this happen? Who had done this to her? And just how bad was it? She didn't know, and maybe, just maybe it was better that way. Olivia shivered at the thought, vainly hoping there was no permanent damage. And as the blackness swept over her again, she heard his menacing voice once more.

“You belong to me, Olivia.”

Olivia woke with a start. Pain shot down her arm as she jarred the IV line in her hand. It was the voice that woke her. Always the voice. She'd been in the hospital for three days now, and this was the first time she'd really been able to control her movements. The hospital staff had been keeping her pretty doped up, she needed her rest they would say when she became the least bit conscious. She'd overheard one nurse once telling someone, she thought it was her brother, that Dr. Henshaw had considered putting her in a medically induced coma.

And that had scared her beyond belief. Just how bad was it exactly? She hadn't had the chance to ask, they were drugging her the second she stirred.

Not this time though. She'd slept enough damn it! Olivia lay there silently, there wasn't a nurse in the room as far as she could see. Her movements were still limited, it hurt to turn her head too much, and though her eyes still felt puffy and swollen, she could see a little better. Now if only she could get a damn glass of water!

The Doctor came in then, smiling as she pulled a stool up next to the bed and looked over her chart. “You're awake.”

Olivia nodded, she didn't bother trying to speak just yet, her throat hurt something fierce. She remembered how it had felt when she was younger and had her tonsils removed, it was kind of like that, only worse.

“Would you like to try and drink some water?” The Doctor asked pleasantly, reaching for a large hospital mug. “I'm sure you must be thirsty.” She placed the straw up to Olivia's mouth and smiled as Olivia took a first tentative sip. “Take it slow. No rush.”

Oh, but the water felt blessedly cool going down! Her throat burned, and the water was like a river cooling burnt lava. After a few more sips Dr. Henshaw pulled the mug away and set it on the table beside her.

“Do you think you can talk Olivia?”

She hesitated, then nodded. “yes,” she croaked, her voice low and more than a little harsh.

“That's good. We'll take it easy. Just yes or no.”

Olivia managed a weak smile and nodded again. She didn't want to take it easy. She wanted to know what had happened to her, and she needed to know how bad the damage was.

“Do you remember what happened to you, Olivia?”



“No.” She said again, frustrated now. It wasn't okay. Why would she say it was okay? Olivia shook her head more fervently. “No,” she cried.

“It's okay Olivia, you're safe here. I need you to calm down though.” Dr. Henshaw took her hand, patted it. “Your memories will come back to you Olivia, there's no permanent damage. It'll come back to you.”

Olivia's tears slid slowly down her cheeks, she nodded. It was good to hear there was no brain damage, it was good to know. But what about the rest? She wanted to ask. What about the rest of me?

Dr. Henshaw seemed to understand, she seemed to see the questions in her eyes. “I'm not going to lie to you Olivia, it's pretty bad.”

She squeezed her eyes shut, clutching the Doctor's hand as she cried. Dr. Henshaw waited until she had calmed down before she spoke again.

“I don't think you'll scar Olivia, but you'll be pretty bruised up for a while. I can show you, do you want to see it? Do you want to see your face?”

“Yes,” she squeaked between sobs.

The Doctor nodded, grabbed a mirror and held it up to her. Olivia turned her head away and groaned at the site of the damage to her face. She had two black eyes, the blood vessels in her eyes had popped, the whites of her eyes were bloodshot. Her nose was broken, her lips and one side of her cheek split open. Her throat was bruised, the ugly purple and yellow marks in the form of handprints. There were ligature marks on her wrists and she was told, since she couldn't see them, on her ankles as well.

“You're lucky to be alive Olivia. But you're a survivor, you'll get through this.”

“How...” she started to say, then “was... I...” she trailed off again, too scared to finish the statement.

Dr. Henshaw put down the mirror, picked up her hand again and gave it a squeeze. Olivia couldn't look at her though, she didn't want to see the pity in the other woman's eyes. She knew the truth without even asking. She could feel the dull throbbing between her legs. The cramps and the pain as her womb attempted to heal itself.

“Olivia.” Dr. Henshaw coaxed. “I can refer you to a good counselor if you'd like.”

She turned her face, looked into the eyes of this strong and compassionate woman, and broke. The Doctor leaned forward, stroking a hand along her hair.

“It's okay. It's going to be okay.”

But it wasn't okay, it would never be okay again. Someone had attacked her. Someone had raped her and tried to kill her. And she couldn't remember any of it! She wanted to scream, she wanted to yell, but all she could do was cower and cry.

It was hours later before Olivia woke again. After crying for what felt like a long time on the shoulder of Dr. Henshaw, Olivia had succumbed to her exhaustion. And for once she hadn't dreamt of the voice. She hadn't dreamt of a monster chasing her down and forcing himself into her body.

Her brother was at her bedside. He smiled as their eyes met, dirty streaks marred his handsome face as he stared down at his beloved little sister. He'd been crying. He'd been crying for her. Olivia reached a hand up and wiped at the dirty marks. “Hi.” She mouthed more than spoke.

“Oh, Olivia!” He cried. “I was so worried about you!”

Olivia shook her head, a sad smile playing over her swollen face.

“What happened to you Olivia, who did this to you?”

“I... don't... know.” She managed weakly.

One hand playing gently with her hair, his other fisted at his side, he grimaced slightly, trying his best to hide it from her. “When I find out who did this to you Olivia...” he said, turning away so she couldn't read the anger in his eyes.

She wanted to cry again, and she hoped, oh God she hoped he didn't know that she had been raped. She couldn't bear it if he knew.

A nurse came in then, preventing her brother from saying anything else as he was asked to leave. The nurse checked her vitals, helped her drink some more water, and spooned some warm broth into her mouth as well before telling her that the police were there to see her. Her heart sank a little.

The police.

As if she weren't in enough pain already, now she had to share her anguish with complete strangers. Before the nurse could leave, and show the police in, Olivia grabbed her by the wrist.

“My brother... does he... know?” she asked pleadingly, hoping the nurse would understand.

She smiled, a young plump woman with a smile to rival the Mona Lisa. “No.” She said, patting Olivia's hand reassuringly. “He doesn't know. I'm going to send in the detectives now. If you get too tired, just press that button over there and I'll run them off, okay?”

Olivia nodded, she tried to smile as well. She wanted to push that button now. She didn't want to talk to the police, she didn't want to have to admit to being raped, admit that she couldn't remember anything. She was ashamed of it all. It didn't matter that it wasn't her fault, she was ashamed of herself. How could she have let something like this happen?

The detectives were very nice. The man, probably in his fifties, was tall and slender with a receding hairline and a soft grandfatherly tone when he spoke. His partner, a woman, who if Olivia had to guess was around forty, was very attractive, with long blonde hair that she pulled back in a ponytail, and a nurturing way of talking, that put Olivia at ease.

They worked sex crimes. And they promised to be patient with Olivia. They had been informed and understood that she didn't remember anything after leaving work and that she tired very easily at this point.

Detective Ramsey, the woman, sat down beside her bed, held her hand, and nodded accordingly as her Partner, Detective Tomlin prodded her with questions and wrote down her answers. She couldn't tell them much.

They, on the other hand, were able to fill in quite a few blanks for her. All the but the most important of course.

Her cleaning lady, who came in three times a week, Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday, found her in her bed on Saturday morning, naked, beaten, and barely alive. There was no sign of forced entry, so she had to have let her attacker in, possibly even known him. And there was little to no forensic evidence. Her bed had been stripped, the entire room cleaned with bleach, from the walls, to her mattress, right down to her own body. He had been thorough.

Traces of blood had seeped into her mattress, and the hospital had of course done a rape kit, but they weren't overly hopeful on either account. Her assailant had either taken anything incriminating with him, or thoroughly cleaned everything else. They were certain the blood on the mattress was hers, and the rape kit had shown no signs of trace evidence. He'd scrubbed her completely, inside and out. Even if he hadn't worn a condom, he'd washed away any traces of his DNA. Then he'd tried to kill her. Or at least that's what they assumed.

Thinking her dead, he'd left her there, completely naked and beaten to a pulp, though he'd taken the time to at least wash the blood off of her face and body, why, they couldn't begin to speculate. And thinking about it gave her the worst kind of headache. Long after the detectives left, handing her their card in case she remembered anything, Olivia thought about what they had told her.

Someone had attacked her in her own home, possibly even someone she knew. He had tied her up, beaten her, raped her, cleaned up his mess, and tried to kill her. Would it matter to him that he had failed? Would he try to attack her again? And just how was she supposed to go back into that house now that someone had desecrated it the way he had? For that matter, how could she face Rosa, her housekeeper, knowing how the poor woman had found her, and likely saved her life?

And what about her brother, should she, and could she, tell him she had been raped? So many questions, and she without any of the answers. The most important of them all, where did she go from here?

Chapter 4

March 11th

Seven weeks. It had been seven weeks since she'd been attacked in her own home. Olivia had struggled immensely during that time. She'd talked to the police at least twice since the initial interview, and had nothing new to tell them. Hoping that going home would have sparked some sort of memory, they'd been with her when she'd been discharged from the hospital nearly a week after the incident.

But other than the abject fear she felt stepping over the threshold, there was nothing. A big gaping emptiness. Her brother had been taking care of the cat, a cleaning service had been hired to give the place a deep professional cleaning, and a new bed had been ordered and delivered. Her brother had even bought her new sheets and a comforter, bless his heart. She didn't know what she would have done without him.

She had yet to return to work. Mr. Seaward, who along with his wife had visited her in the hospital, had told her to take all the time she needed. He gave her the number of a trusted friend and counselor his wife was acquainted with through her work as a drug counselor and had even gone so far as to promise her he'd pick up the tab if she decided to seek their services. Something her insurance didn't regularly cover.

She itched to get back to work. But she was scared. She was scared to be home, and she was scared to go to work. She was afraid to be around people, but she was terrified of being alone. Despite the physical presence of the attack being all but exorcised from her home, Olivia couldn't bear to be in her own house. She'd been staying at the apartment above her brother's sandwich shop since the incident, and once the most horrific of her bruises faded, at least enough so that makeup could hide the rest, she'd started working in the deli with him.

Hoping the company and the task of waiting on customers was enough to distract her, enough to perhaps heal her, she worked every day, from open to close, and then spent her evenings tagging along with her brother for dinner before heading back to the apartment and curling up into a little ball alongside Spook. Poor Spook who'd witnessed it all. Poor Spook who refused to leave her side. Slowly but surely she was putting her life back together. She'd lost weight, her appetite suffering greatly, but she swore she wouldn't let this beat her.

She'd have to leave the comfort of her brother's home at some point though. She'd have to go back to work and face her employees. But she didn't want to. She didn't want to see the pity in their eyes, she didn't want to hear them whisper behind her back about what they think might have happened. Nobody but the hospital staff, and the detectives knew she had been raped. But she knew they would speculate anyways. And that killed her most of all. How could she face these people? How could she command their respect and attention when all she wanted to do was curl up into a corner and cry?

She'd been seeing a shrink, the very one Mr. Seaward had referred her to. And maybe Mrs. Edmans was helpful at times, maybe some of the things she said made sense, were reassuring even, but at the end of the day, it had still happened, and she still had to live with it. Live with the not knowing, live with the knowledge that her attacker was free to attack her again if he so chose to. And she had no idea who he even was, what if he worked for her? She couldn't bear the thought of that!

Her brother had suggested she start taking self-defense classes, and after some thought, she'd decided he was right. She found that learning how to defend herself was a step in the right direction. It made her feel a little bit better about the situation. It gave her a little piece of herself back. But was it enough? Could she go home and face the ghosts in her house? She had to. She couldn't let him win. She couldn't let him drive her out of her own house! She loved that house, she'd worked hard, and she'd earned that house!

So she upgraded her security system and vowed not to ever open the door to a stranger again. Of course, the thought that her attacker wasn't a stranger plagued her constantly. The security system wasn't enough, the self-defense classes weren't enough. She needed to be more perceptive, she needed to be wary and on guard. She needed to open her damn eyes and realize that nobody could truly be trusted. She was one step closer to taking it back, taking control of her life. She wasn't about to stop now.

He hadn't seen Olivia in seven weeks. Not since the magical night he'd spent inside her. And God how magical it had been! Once he'd finally gotten the beast under control, and cleaned up all of the blood, he'd loved her. He'd loved her the way he had wanted to. He'd kissed her sweet lips, he'd suckled at her breasts, and he'd buried himself to the hilt inside her and melded their bodies and souls.

It was a shame the beast had lost control; he didn't enjoy knocking her out the way he'd had to. But sometimes it was hard to keep a leash on the beast. And during that moment of pure ecstasy, when he spilled himself into her hot little body, he could remember the beast putting his hands around her neck, choking her to within an inch of her life. At first, he'd been disgusted, he'd tried to stop the beast, but as he exploded, as his life force drained out of him, and the beast let go, he'd become excited all over again.

Yes, he had loved Olivia throughout the night. He had loved her thoroughly, whispering to her how much he loved her, how she belonged to him, how much he enjoyed their union. And when he was finished, he took the time, and the care to clean her up. Then he took all and any evidence of his existence, because he knew nobody would understand. He knew Olivia might not understand. He'd never meant to hurt her, but she had angered the beast, and it just couldn't be helped. She shouldn't have done that. She should have just let him love her the right way.

He felt bad about the welts and the bruises. He was anguished by the marks on her satiny womanhood that the beast had left with the Taser. He was disgusted that the beast had knocked her out at all, but it was Olivia's fault. He had warned her; he had told her what would happen if she angered the beast. If only she'd listened damn it! He would do better next time. He would make sure she understood when they made love again. Soon he hoped.

He knew Olivia was staying with her brother while her body healed. Though he hadn't actually seen her, he'd seen her car parked outside of the little sandwich shop. She had hidden herself away so that her body could heal. And while he missed seeing her around the office, he was grateful for her absence. He couldn't bear to look at what the beast had done. He'd imagined her without the marks and bruises while they made love, so he was glad he didn't have to deal with the beast’s aftermath just now.

Word around the office was that Olivia had been robbed. A home intrusion, and while attempting to defend herself she had been knocked unconscious. And everyone seemed content with that account. Cards and flowers were left in her office or forwarded to her brother’s place. And after a few weeks, the chatter died down. People stopped speculating. Nobody cared. Nobody but him. He worried that Olivia might not come back to work. He worried that he might not see her again. What if she decided to move to her brother's permanently?

He couldn't afford a move like that himself, at least not right away. It would be so selfish of her to just pack up and leave without first considering his feelings! No. No, Olivia wouldn't do that. She loved her job, she loved her home, she loved him. She just didn't want people to think he was a woman beater. She understood that it was a fit of passion. She knew him, didn't she? She knew he'd never hurt her! She just didn't want anyone else to think he would. He could lose his job if anyone found out about them. She could lose hers! No, her being away was for the best.

But he was more than a little excited when Mr. Seaward announced that she would be returning soon, that everyone should just forget the little incident. She didn't want to feel pity, and it was best if everything could just return to normal. She'd been on vacation, and that's how everyone should look at it.

Olivia took a deep breath, steeled herself, and got out of the car. She'd had a long talk with Mr. Seaward. He'd assured her that her office was clear of all the cards, flowers, and balloons. He'd made it a point to talk to everyone in the agency, and they'd all agreed she'd suffered enough, no one was to mention the incident. It was business as normal.

Business as normal.

Nothing was normal about this. And it never would be. The police were sure it was someone she knew. But Olivia didn't have any friends, at least none that were male. So more than likely it was someone she worked with, an employee, or a client. That was the worst part. Knowing that she could have a causal interaction with her attacker and never know it. She knew coworkers were going to pity her, she knew there would be looks and whispers, water cooler chit chat. But she could deal with all that. She'd dealt with it after the incident with Roderick, she'd deal with it now.

The thought of talking to her attacker though, of accepting his sympathies and good wishes made her sick to her stomach. Why, just this morning the thought of it had her keeling over the toilet and spilling the breakfast she'd choked down. If she hadn't already spewed the entire contents of her stomach, she'd probably be sick again right now.

You can do this, she told herself. You can do this, Olivia.

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