“Attempted murder, also referred to as Murder 1, is when one, say the defendant, commits the heinous act of murder. Is that correct?”
My heart thumps when Cleo’s wide eyes stray to mine. Her eyes are the color of baked clay. They are bright and entrancing, but utterly lifeless. The last part of my assessment makes my cock swell. The broken are the most beautiful. They are fractured souls left defenseless to the people who don’t understand the beauty of their cracks. I see past the damage, past their wilted, pained looks. I see the exquisiteness behind the ugliness.
The broken are the most beautiful as the strength required to fix them is nothing less than miraculous. It separates men into two groups: cowards and gods. I belong in the latter.
My pulse rages in my ears when Cleo licks her cracked lips, reminding me of how plump they are. She wordlessly consults with the DA, hoping he will advise her how the man sitting behind him wants her to answer my question.
Although annoyed she is seeking his opinion, I’m not shocked at her ability to express herself without words. We’ve communicated in the same manner many times during the three weeks of my trial. The sneaky glances, the peering at me when she loses his unforgiving glare proves she is watching me as closely as I’m monitoring her.
That is why I chose to defend myself. I don’t need pompous, insolent men telling me I’m “misconstruing the facts.” I can’t misread the way her pulse quickens when she captures my steel-blue gaze, or the extra layer of sweat that mists her brow when my observant watch has her squirming in her seat. Cleo isn’t panicked about my undivided attention. As long as her needy gaze isn’t caught by the man who believes he owns her, she’s thrilled by it.
The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or heard. They are felt. Whether it is an invisible pull or the stars aligning just right, when you find your other half, you never give up the hunt until they are yours. I erased the evidence of Cleo’s betrayal. I forgave her for her error in judgment. Now, we just have this last hurdle to jump, then we’ll be free to be with one another.
This trial isn’t Cleo’s choice. He forced her into it. He is threatened by my looks and unreachable wealth. Rightfully so. I don’t just have the brains; I also have the brawn. I could have had Cleo eating out of my palm years ago, but a change in game plan added an additional thrill.
My relationship with Shelley was exhilarating. It occurred at a rate three times the speed of my usual liaisons. But with the thrill of the hunt weakened by the ease of the game, the spark fueling our connection dwindled. I tried to re-ignite the flame—I gave it everything I had—but her death ended our game before I could woo her with my god-like stamina and cunning intellect.
News of her demise rocked me in a way I’ve never experienced. Seeing the life in her eyes vanish at the hands of another man was not a game I had ever played. When you are the man responsible for relighting the flame in one’s eyes, it is only right you’re the one who extinguishes it.
Cleo’s dad stole that right from me. When his car veered across the black ice and crashed into Shelley’s vehicle head-on, he took my game and flipped it on its head. He awoke a beast.
I was raised believing I had complete control. He proved I didn’t. The fall from my tower was eye-opening and painstakingly long.
I will admit, I was a little lost the week following Shelley’s death. Power isn’t something that is given. You take it; you steal it; you go to the ends of the earth to find it. You do not have it stolen from you.
For the first time in twenty-four years, the devil beat me at my game. He snatched the prize from beneath my nose. He played me for a fool. So it was only fair I returned the favor.
The game Cleo and I are playing is long, but the prize will be worthy. Cleo is even more broken now than when I stumbled upon her at her brother’s funeral. Her eyes are wet from the tears she shed when questioned about the death of her unborn child. The contents of her nose precariously pool in the crevices of her nostrils when the jury is shown the fresh scar in her lower abdomen. Her hands are still shaking from when she was forced to point to me when asked who “allegedly” assaulted her.
She is beautiful—utterly breathtaking. She is also mine.
Hoping to break the fog our eight-week absence has caused to Cleo’s mind, I step into her line of sight, blocking him from her view. The veins in her neck twang as her pulse quickens. She is so pleased to have secured my utmost devotion, she struggles to breathe. Every ragged gasp she takes doubles the thickness of the blood in my veins.
I understand her struggle.
I feel her pain.
I will once again save her from her nightmare.
“Is that correct?” I ask Cleo again, my voice raspier than earlier.
Her looks do that to me. They make me unstable, but in a way I can’t help but encourage. The doctors say I have obsessive-compulsive tendencies driven by an unbalanced family environment.
They don’t know what they are talking about.
I am not insane, mentally unstable or psychotic. I am a man who knows what he wants, and I don’t stop hunting until I get it.
Spotting the faint nod of the DA’s head behind my shoulder, Cleo mimics his movements. She doesn’t like disappointing me, but our lengthy absence has jumbled her mind. She will soon learn that he is not the rule maker. He isn’t half the man I am. I am the god who saved her from hell. He is the coward.
“So if I am being accused of murder, who is the victim?” I turn to face the jurors. Half of their faces are as ashen as Cleo’s; the other half is a cross between confused and angry. “The DA stated numerous times that the charges brought forward are for grievous bodily harm, deprivation of liberty, assault, and murder one, but a victim has not been brought forward. How can that be?”
The jurors follow my gaze back to Cleo. She straightens in her chair the instant she spots my narrowed glare. I’m not overly angry at her, but some penance must be paid for the wrongs she committed. Even after being publicly humiliated in front of millions, she still ran back to him.That’s why I had no choice. Her inability to see how stupid he makes her look is why I did what I did. I am guilty of what I am accused. I did pierce Cleo’s stomach with a knife, killing her unborn baby. But I am not a murderer. Not a convicted one, anyway.
“Who is the victim, Cleo?”
Her throaty groan as she strives to hold in her tears rolls through me like liquid ecstasy. It is heaven to my ears, the equivalent of an afternoon swim on a scorching hot day.
I stop relishing her nearly choked response when the DA shouts, “Objection, your Honor! The accused is well aware of whom the victim is. It has been stated multiple times during preliminary hearings and is documented in the evidence we handed to him weeks ago.”
He stands from his chair, hoping a bit of height will bolster his appeal. He should sit the fuck down, because height isn’t his only disadvantage. His failure to recognize my brilliance is another downfall. He is an amateur dabbling in a world where he doesn’t belong. I am the master; he is a mere pawn.
I return my focus to the judge, who is glaring at me over his half-rimmed spectacles. “The opinions of a jury often change during cross-examination due to doubt being cast on the witness. I am not saying Ms. Garcia lied during her earlier testimony, but perhaps if her answers aren’t coerced by the DA, she will freely express herself.”
“What are you saying, Mr. Elias?” the judge asks while pushing his glasses back up his blackhead-covered nose. “Do you believe the witness has been coached to give false testimony?”
The worry in his voice hums through me. “Yes, your Honor, that is precisely what I am implying. But Ms. Garcia hasn’t just been coached; she’s been brainwashed.”
The jury gasps in sync, but it is barely heard over Cleo’s loud gulp. She knows what is coming. She is aware I am freeing her from his trap.
“Do you have any proof of this?”
Nodding at the judge’s question, I make my way to the desk I’ve been sitting behind grinding my teeth the past three weeks. I flip through numerous pages of text until I come to the evidence the DA failed to lodge.
“Deprivation of liberty. Harassment. Cyberstalking. Credible threat to cause harm. Rape.” For each sentence I deliver, I hand proof of the crimes associated with them to the bailiff. “He hacked her computer. He harassed her at her place of employment. He cyberstalked her for months, before he raped her under the guise of an exchange in power.”
The judge’s bushy brows shoot up his face when his eyes scan the evidence presented before him. The images are horrid, ones I’m certain Cleo would never like publicized. I don’t want to hurt her, but to free her from his madness, I need to expose himas the monster he is.
“As you can see, your Honor, I am not the man in any of those photos. I am not a monster who hides his face to ensure his crimes remain unprosecuted. I was merely a byproduct of his madness. An innocent caught up in a world run by violent, heinous men.”
I add an affluent edge to my voice, the type I generally use when surrounded by my father’s associates. He taught me well. I play the game so perfectly, the judge is soon eating out of my hand.
“I did not hurt the complainant, your honor. I was merely trying to save her from that—from him. If that makes me a terrible man, so be it. I’d rather rot in jail as an honorable man than be a spineless one.”
I refuse to look at him, but I know I’ve secured his utmost attention. I can feel his black-as-death eyes burning a hole in the back of my head. I can smell his aversion thickening the air. How? The putrid scent leeching from his pores is as repulsive as mine. His hate is just as strong, his world just as violent. He just hides his evilness with a fancy name—referring to it as his “lifestyle.” That is why he is a coward, and I am a god. I don’t require a contract to exert my power. I don’t even need a safeword. I give an order; you follow it. The rules don’t get any simpler than that.
When the judge requests the bailiff hand my evidence to Cleo, her hand clamps over her mouth. I take a few moments to relish the stream of moisture gliding down her cheeks before I dart from my chair to block her view of him.
He brainwashed her for months; it is time for me to even the playing field. My girl is strong—but my pull is even stronger than that. She cannot resist me.
For every step I take toward Cleo, the fire in her eyes grows. The temptress I feed off like a vampire drinks blood is striving to break free. She wants me to save her. She wants to come home.
“I didn’t kill your baby, did I, Cleo?”
Her earthy brown hair falls from her shoulders when she shakes her head. Her strength is cock-thickening. I can see the spell lifting as the woman behind the mask resurrects from the tomb heplaced her in.
I suck in a lung-filling gulp of air like the devil did as he claimed the throne in heaven when Cleo confirms, “You didn’t kill my baby, Dexter.”
The jury member’s stunned gasps are loud but are nothing compared to the painful groan he emits. He knows he is losing. He knows he has lost. He shouldn’t be surprised. No one can compete with me.
I take a step back when Cleo faintly murmurs, “You killed our baby. The baby I created with Marcus. The baby I plan one day to still have with him.”
Her words are barely whispers, but one bombards me with an immense amount of violence. His name. . . his name. . . his name resurrects the devil I struggle to contain. He is the sadistic one, the one who maims without regret, the one who smiles while sliding a knife into a pregnant woman’s womb. He is the villain my father loves, and my mother hated. He is the runaway, the misfit, Marcus Everett’s worst nightmare. He is the true me. He is Dexter Elias.
“No!” I shake my head the way I did when the doctors ran off their long list of diagnoses to my mother ten years ago. “I didn’t kill your baby! I killed his baby! I fixed his mistake! I took back what is mine!”
“I’m not yours. I’m Marcus’s!” Cleo doesn’t whisper this confirmation. She shouts it for the world to hear.
When I step closer to her, wanting her to swallow her lies, the bailiff places himself between us, making my jaw tick with fury. It also causes something inside me to snap. For years, I watched her from afar, holding my place until the time was right. Not anymore. I’m tired of following the rules.
But even more than that, I’m sick to death of ungrateful women who don’t know their place. Years ago, my father taught my mother a lesson, and now I must do the same to Cleo.
The bailiff’s shoulders are double the width of mine; the difference in our heights is also highly notable, but it doesn’t stop him hitting the ground like a bag of shit when I throw him to the side. I’m up in Cleo’s face faster than I can snap my fingers. The painful pounding of batons on my back and the violent roar of the man who believes he owns her don’t deter me in the slightest. Everything blurs. It is just me and her. The woman who isn’t close to paying her father’s atonement.
Cleo’s father took away my one true love. For that alone, I should have slaughtered his entire family. But the longer I watched Cleo, the brighter a new plan became. I didn’t need immediate revenge. I needed entertainment.
For the past four years, Cleo gave me that and so much more. It was enough. . . until Marcus entered the equation.
I don’t back away when challenged, but he wasn’t just threatening to call “checkmate.” He tried to swipe all the pieces from the chessboard. That is when my game plan changed. My interest in Cleo switched to something greater than revenge. We reached a mutual understanding. We connected. We were more than strangers. But Marcus destroyed any possibility of us finding our happily ever after. He tainted her with lies, made her a woman undeserving of love. He ruined her. I tried to save her from the madness. She didn’t listen.
She still isn’t listening.
“After everything I did for you, you still want to have his bastard child?” I eat my words twice, the violence of their delivery bouncing off Cleo’s tearstained face before ramming back down my throat.
Clearly brainwashed, Cleo nods, which is virtually impossible with how hard I am clutching her chin. My grip on her face doubles as anger envelops me. Just like Stephen, I consider snapping her neck now, making her death clean and painless. Unfortunately for them both, my father never taught me leniency.
Stephen betrayed me. He paid for his stupidity with his life.
When Cleo betrayed me, I gave her my forgiveness.
I will not make the same mistake twice.
“No, please, no.” Cleo’s lips tremble as she tries to pull away from me. I’m not going to kiss her as her eyes are begging me to do. I’m going to issue her one final promise, one I intend to keep—even if it kills me.
The hairs on her neck prickle when I snarl, “I saved your child from the depths of hell by stopping it from turning out like him—and perhaps even a little like me.” The smile that arrives with my last sentence doesn’t suit the callousness of my words.
Cleo’s breaths quiver on my neck when I press my lips in close to her ear. My smile is so broad, my teeth graze her earlobe sufficiently enough for the seductive scent of her blood to linger in my nostrils. “I promise to save any future children you have as well. We don’t want any misfit bastards left lying around.”
I only see the quickest flare of alarm dart through Cleo’s eyes before a strike to the back of my head forces me to succumb to blackness, but it is more than enough. It will feed my appetite for revenge for the next several years, only growing in intensity for every year we spend apart.
The weak request forgiveness.
The strong seek revenge.
I’m the strongest I’ve ever been.
Three Years Later. . .
“Come on in, Dexter, don’t be shy.” My greeter’s smile grows, the whiteness of her teeth enough to make me gag. “We’re all friends here.”
She gestures to the dozen-plus people sitting in a circular pattern around her, gleaming at her like she is the sun, the moon, and the earth all rolled into one. I’m looking at her in wonderment as well—wondering if her blood will run as red as the lipstick she is wearing.
I slump into a vacant chair, unhappy at my first taste of group counseling, but preferring it over the other option. With my outburst three years ago awarding me a seven-year stint in a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, I either continue playing nice with these weirdos, or get transferred back to the maximum security hospital where I was originally incarcerated.
I’d prefer neither option, but since the staff at this hospital doesn’t carefully monitor their patients skipping meds, I plaster a fake smile on my lips and peer up at the counselor.
Although she’s hitting close to retirement age, my smile affects her the same way it does every red-blooded female. Her eyelids flutter as her hand lifts to fan her cheeks. Her response has me jotting down a mental note for future exploration. My dick withers at the thought of getting close to her, but my brain power is wondrous. It can make anything bend to its will—even my cock.
As the counselor gives a rundown on how our sessions will work, I scan the room. There are the standard misfits you find in every psych ward. The nervous twitcher sits two spaces up, talking to himself. The cutter is next to him, her wounds so fresh I can smell her blood, and the remaining seventy-five percent are so doped out on mind-numbing medication, they don’t realize they’re awake.
Two space cadets remain: me and the demure wallflower sitting in the furthest corner of the room. Just like me, she’s wearing a bright pink wrist bracelet, announcing she’s new to this facility. Unlike me, she’s so detached from the group, she’s not even part of the original circle. She’s a demented kink in a completely fucked-up group of people.
I laugh, amused by my inner monologue. It isn’t a smart thing to do. Laughter in a place like this is never well-received. Here, you only laugh for two reasons: you’re either low on meds or high on meds—there is no in-between.
“Wow, can you see that? Pretty fireflies.”
I wave my hand in front of my face, pretending there are hundreds of butt-lit bugs in front of me. There aren’t, but the stupid fuckers tripping on meds don’t know that. They are so doped up, the simplest movement represents a Martian landing on earth. They smile with glee, our counseling session over before it truly began.
The only patient not seeking invisible insects is the brunette I mentioned earlier. She is peering at the freaks with as much concern on her face as the counselor. She’s just not taking notes—not handwritten ones, anyway.
Noticing I’ve spotted the rapid flicker of her diamond-shaped eyes, she drops them to the floor. Usually, I’d follow suit, but since she’s a patient, not a counselor, I keep my eyes locked on her. She’s pretty, in a dorky, psychopathic type of way. Her mousy-brown hair is pulled back in a low ponytail; her skin is pasty white, and her cheeks are hollow and lifeless. If we had met anywhere but here, I would assume her lack of color is natural. But since we are surrounded by fuckwits with half a brain, I’ll confidently declare she’s been locked up a while—maybe longer than me.
An average man wouldn’t look twice at a woman with an extensive list of mental illnesses. Unfortunately for all involved, I’m anything but ordinary. Just wanting to unearth the cause of her long incarceration has me studying her more intensely.
Although she has a slim build, she has enough curves to keep her list of favors with the guards high. The generous swell of her breasts already has my dick’s attention—more due to lack of use than attraction—but it’s interested all the same.
Ninety-five percent of the guards at my last placement were male. The other five percent were either gay or in a “committed relationship,” so the only favors I received were ones that cost money. They were beneficial, but they never got me close to unlocked doors. I don’t see that being an issue for this unknown brunette. With my money and her looks, I’ve unlocked a treasure trove. Most notably: a one-way ticket out of crazyville.
Just as my eyes drop to the moderate hem of the brunette’s floral dress, a pair of black polished shoes enter my peripheral vision. “No firefly catching today, Mr. Elias?”
My teeth crunch as my eyes rise, taking in a pair of plain black pants, a buttoned-up white shirt, and a wonky-ass smile on the way. Warden Bryce tsks under his breath when my clear, undiluted eyes stop on his. With their perusal of the brunette making them the purest they’ve been the past decade, he’s confident my earlier laugh was a side effect of a low drug dosage. He’s right—regrettably.
“Open up.” He croons his short demand as if he’s going to feed me his cock instead of the medication he’s been forcing down my throat three times a day since I arrived at Meadow Fields four weeks ago.
Although I’ve been seeking an out for my predicament since the day I was incarcerated, I’d rather rot in hell than suck a man’s cock for freedom, so you can be assured the only way Bryce’s cock will ever be in my mouth will be when I’m biting it off in retaliation for his numerous silent insinuations.
Such as, “Lift the tongue, Dexter. I need to make sure you’ve swallowed like a good boy.”
I work my jaw side to side to calm my anger before sticking out my tongue and swiveling it around. It is the fight of my life not to yank Bryce’s pen out of his pocket and stab it into his neck when his thighs press together at the sight of my wiggling tongue.
What the fuck is he? A girl?
Happy I’ve performed like an obedient puppy, he gives my shoulder a gentle pat. “Good boy. All gobbled up just the way I like it.” His statement is as sexually suggestive as it sounds. “Until tonight.” He saves his frisky wink until he spins on his heels, but it doesn’t stop me seeing it.
I wait until he’s halfway across the room before forcing the mind-numbing tablets out of my stomach. It’s a hard task with how dry Bryce’s attention made my throat, but I keep silently heaving until I’m clasping three little red pills and two giant white ones in my palm.
I’ve played the part of a perfect patient for too long to let a cock-gobbler ruin my plan. He isn’t lacing me up on meds because he believes they will bring me “one step closer to society.” He wants me so out of my mind, he can play with my periwinkler. I’d be fucked if I ever let that happen. I’d slit his throat with a blunt knife before I’d let him ride me.
With a cough to hide the pings of the tablets wholeness, I peg them to the furthest corner of the room. Usually, I’d put them in my pocket, but I was caught skipping meds last week. It didn’t end well. This is the safer option, because when forced between interrogating twenty psychotic patients and letting one go without medication for a few hours, most counselors veer toward the latter—even ones as hopeful as Bryce.
Confident the tablets are far enough away from me to evade suspicion, I return my eyes front and center. On my way, I catch the inquisitive glare of a pretty pair of hazel eyes. It is the demure mouse, little Ms. Sunshine in a fucked up world.
I expect her to rat me out, to advise the counselors of my inability to follow procedures. She does no such thing. She keeps her head bowed and her suspicious gaze on the downlow.
I had wondered earlier if I found an ally. Now I know without a doubt. Bryce has had me on his radar since I walked in the door, so I’m confident the guards not as light-footed as him spotted this brunette just as quickly. Not because she is outstandingly beautiful with a smile that outshines the sun, but because at one stage in his life, every man wants to bed a psycho.
The rumors are true: psychotic women are just as crazy in the sack as they are outside of it.
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