Home > Beautiful Tyrant (Enemies to Lovers #3)

Beautiful Tyrant (Enemies to Lovers #3)
Author: C. P. Mandara

Chapter One - Harper


I want to cry.

'Get back on the bed, darling.'

Fear crawls up my spine. It feels like a million termites have decided to use my body as their last meal. Something is eating me alive from the inside out, and all that's left for me to do is scream. This can't be happening. This is happening. My world is spinning out of control, like a supercell tornado lashing at me with lightning and hail. This is going to be a pivotal moment in my life, and I need to figure out my next move quickly. The trouble is, I am paralysed. I know everything is going down the pan and no matter which way I turn the outcome will be the same.

Mal's eyes are eating my naked body up, while his goons point their guns at me. I am helpless. What should I do?

'Get back on the bed, darling,' Mal repeats, with a vicious edge to his voice. Shit. Move, Harper, move. On feet that are about as stable as a new-born lamb's, I stumble over to the bed and almost fall onto it headfirst. Please don't kill Brandt. The words are stumbling over and over in my head, but there is no way I'll ever voice them out loud. If Mal knew what Brandt meant to me he'd be dead in an instant. While he thinks of me as nothing more than a possession, he doesn't want any competition for my attention. He made that very clear with Alex, which is why my late husband is now residing under six feet of particularly wet and squelchy mud. It says something that I consider him the lucky one.

The trouble is, Mal is one of those people who likes to play with his food before he eats it. The tube of glue is still spinning around in his hand, and he's looking at me expectantly, with one eyebrow raised. That eyebrow says something along the lines of 'Do you want to do this the easy way, or the hard way?' I already know he'd prefer it if I took the latter option, but I'm not that brave. There'll be plenty of time for the Airfix King to have his fun with me later. Brandt doesn't need to see that. I'm kind of hoping that when death comes, it will be just me and Mal, but that's not very likely. He likes it when people watch. I know this from experience. I think it turns him on in some other-worldly, freakish way. Whoever gets to watch my death is going to need a strong stomach. He's going to pull out all the stops when he begins work on me. He's already told me so.

'Well, what are you waiting for, gentlemen? Go fuck her up a little.' Mal ushers Brandt and Gabriel towards me, and the pair give each other a look, as if to say, what the hell? Some of what I've told them about Mal must have stuck, though, because they don't push their luck. They begin moving towards me.

Gabriel is stumbling slightly, due to the gunshot wound, but by the looks of it the thing is superficial. That's not to say Mal hasn't taken a decent chunk out of his leg, but I can tell, just from looking, that it hasn't severed cartilage or bone. The bullet was a warning. I begin to wonder whether Mal's planned this little scenario from the start. It wouldn't surprise me.

When Gabriel gets to the bed his eyes shoot daggers. He thinks I've sold them down the river, when the exact opposite is true. I'm trying to save them both, but he doesn't know me well enough to realise it.

Moving towards me menacingly, he says, 'I can't wait to get started on you, princess.' That should put the fear of God into me, but I have bigger things to worry about. I need to get these two out of here. Nothing that Gabriel dishes out will compare with what Mal's going to do to me later.

'Shut up,' growls Brandt through clenched teeth, and gives him a look that could kill lesser mortals. Gabriel pauses on his journey towards me and his head tilts sideways. He's wondering what's going on. At least he thinks on his feet. At the moment he'll just assume Brandt is protecting me, when he gets close enough I'll help fill in the blanks. For now, he can hate me all he likes. It will play right into Mal's hands.

'What do you want us to do to her?' Gabriel's voice is vicious as he directs the sentence back towards Mal. It appears he's a bit ticked off about either his near miss with a bullet, or my apparent disregard for his safety.

Mal shrugs his shoulders. 'Whatever you like, just make sure it's entertaining or I'll shoot you both, and I won't miss this time.'

Great. No pressure then, I think wryly. The next hour or two of my life is sure to be hell on wheels.

'Can we tie her up?' Gabriel asks, running a hand through his hair as his abs ripple in the dawn light filtering through the window. His macabre tattoo's look utterly spectacular in every way that counts, and the effect is enhanced by the cruel frown that goes from one side of his face to the other.

'You can do whatever the fuck you like to her, now stop pissing around and get on with it.' Mal was never known for his patience. The guys had better get on with it or he will kill them. Thankfully, Gabriel gets the message.

Grabbing the handcuffs from the bedside table he spins me over and shoves his knee into my back, so he can keep me still while fastening the cuffs around my wrists. I have a serious case of déjà vu right now. It only seems like seconds ago since he got the cable ties out.

Turning to Brandt, Gabriel goes straight for the jugular. 'Do you have a whip around here? Something that'll do a fair amount of damage?' Twisting my head around to watch Brandt's response, I see his eyes flare in horror.

'Hey, the man said to fuck her up; I'm just following orders,' Gabriel says, with a smile upon that beautiful, twisted face of his.

Brandt's fingers clench into fists. 'Gabriel, the woman is mine to torment, not...'

'Children, children; I didn't ask for a discussion,' Mal barks. 'Get the fuck on with it before I whip you both.' He's losing patience.

Brandt pays no attention, however. He grabs Gabriel's arm with a death grip to make sure he can't go anywhere. It's the wrong move.

'Just do it,' I hiss. 'Get the whip. I've had worse. Now go get it quickly before he makes an example of you. The man isn't kidding around.' These two idiots are going to get themselves killed.

Brandt still doesn't let go of Gabriel's arm, and Mal's had enough waiting around. Advancing towards us he lets loose his fist, and it flies straight into Brandt's nose, which is still bleeding from the last encounter. Brandt lets out a whoosh of air and staggers back, reeling from the force of the impact.

'Up against the wall, pretty boy,' Mal sneers. 'It's time someone taught you a lesson.' Mal doesn't give Brandt the chance to obey because he's already gripped the hair on top of his head and is dragging him forward. Oh fuck, no. I can't watch this.

Slamming Brandt into the wall face-first, Mal barks, 'Arms up, over your head!' Brandt obeys him woodenly, which is just as well because I really can't deal with anyone else getting shot.

Mal spins around and looks at Gabriel. 'You,' he growls, 'go get me a whip and make it snappy.' He clicks his fingers, which is Mal speak for it had better be done in three seconds flat or you're dead.

Gabriel, unfortunately, has no idea where Brandt keeps his toys and looks at me helplessly.

'Top drawer,' I whisper. 'Get it now.'

The man jumps off the bed as if fifty hell hounds are on his tail. To be fair, he's not wrong. Yanking the drawer open, he rifles through the contents and finally pulls out a short-tailed whip. It's made of braided red and black leather. I can tell, just by looking, that it will hurt like a bastard. Gabriel then turns his head to glare at me. He is not pleased. While he'd have been more than happy to whip the shit out of me, he doesn't want to hurt Brandt; it won't do much for his reconciliation plans, that's for sure.

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