Out of breath, arms braced against a tree, I raise a hand to cover my mouth. To silence myself.
The night air nips at my skin and the ground bites at my bare feet beneath me. The silence and stillness of the leaves and branches around me makes it nearly impossible to hide.
The snap of a twig sends my heart into my throat, but I dig into the bark with my fingertips to keep myself from bolting. I turn my body slowly toward the noise and peak around the tree. I don’t see him, so I shift around the other way, careful not to make a single sound while I listen intently.
I tiptoe from one tree to the next, trying to find the edge of the treeline. I don’t know these woods, but I know there is an edge and I know the clearing well. I push myself in one direction. If I can find the meadow… If I could just find the meadow…
There’s a rustle from forty feet away, but this time, I don’t wait to try and see him. I run.
I run faster than I thought I could, fast enough that I almost don’t feel the scrapes from wood and stone or the slippery slime of rotted foliage decaying on the forest floor.
I turn to look behind me and slip on a root, but collect myself quickly and continue forward, ignoring the burning sensation and warm wetness trickling from my knee. My lungs burn from the effort to escape and I eventually have to surrender to my body’s need for rest at the base of a steep hill. There is an opening in the trees at the top of it, and I wonder if that is the clearing.
I work to catch my breath as I slowly make my way around the bottom, looking for a path up that isn’t so steep. And just as I find it, he finds me.
I clamber upward, racing against his much longer strides. His fingers circle my ankle at one point, but the blood from my knee must have made me slippery, because he loses his grip. I worry for a moment about the wound, but force myself to climb faster, and then run harder.
I can see the field. I have to get there. I trip on a rock and as I right myself, his hand is in my hair.
I fight him with all my might. I can make it. I just have to get away. But all too quickly, I feel my wrists trapped in his hand and he’s pushing me back, against a tree, and stuffing something in my mouth to muffle any sound I might be able to make. It wouldn’t matter, because I’m miles from anyone who might hear me at this hour.
I keep my eyes closed, continuing the fight until my wrists are cuffed behind me, around the base of a smooth, tall beech tree. His fingers wrap around my throat.
“Open your eyes.”
I look up to find his dark gaze running the length of me. Up and down. Up and down.
A giggle bubbles up from my chest, unbidden.
“You almost made it, didn’t you.”
I swallow and pull at the chain locking my wrists behind me.
“Hurt yourself though.”
He tuts, letting his hand fall from my neck, and glide down my front, unbuttoning my dress slowly and pressing his fingers into my skin between each one. I shiver and look out into the clearing, silently cursing my clumsy feet.
He kneels and pulls a handkerchief from his back pocket, and brings it to his lips. I watch him wet the surface with his tongue, then wipe away the streaks of red from my ankle and shin. I swallow again as he lifts the hem of my skirt up and away from my knee, holding it lightly between my thighs. He looks up as he presses the cloth against my knee and pushes his thumb upward, beyond the fabric of my dress.
He tugs my feet apart, despite my efforts to shut him out, and slips his thumb along my moist, shaved flesh. The ball of his thumb finds what it was searching for and works around and against me with a knowing that is simply unfair. Imprisoned by his bonds and my own flesh, I try desperately to block out the sensation, to evade his beautiful brand of torture.
But it’s wasted effort.
My jaw aches from clenching my teeth together around the makeshift gag, but soon, my sighs turn to moans and he reaches up to pluck my panties from my mouth.
“But… I didn’t win…”
“I know you didn’t baby girl.”
“The rules… I had to make it to the clearing… I’m supposed to be giving you a reward.”
His dark eyes meet mine as he pushes me beyond the edges of reason.
I smile as he stands and brings his lips to mine, his breath tickling me before he lets out a low, feral growl.
“Oh, believe me baby girl. You ARE my reward.”
His fingers dive deep inside me and his hand closes around my throat, once again.
“And I’m just getting started.”