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My Brother’s Friend, the Dom
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I promised my best friend I’d protect his sister from a dark secret.
Peter gave me one task before he went away: protect his little sister from a deep, dark secret.
I said yes, naturally. I’d keep an eye on her. Anything for my best friend.
It’s been five years since I last saw Sarah. She’s a woman now, with ripe curves and a graceful elegance. The sight of her makes me wish for a repeat of our one-night-stand, when I took her in my tattoo parlor and made her scream out my name in ecstasy.
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Something cold and wet falls on my forehead. I look up, but it’s not raining. I wonder if someone’s window A/C’s dripping.
Then, all of a sudden, my world goes dark.
I start to scream, but a large, masculine hand covers my mouth, muffling my voice. A thick arm wraps around my waist and presses on the valley between my breasts.
“I thought you’d be happier to see me . . . doll,” whispers my captor. His breath falls hot on my ear and spreads as goosebumps all over my skin.
And he’s a big, strong, burly man. Even though he’s just one person, it feels like there are hard, solid walls of man surrounding me on all sides.
His chest is broad and sturdy against my back; his arms are so strong I can barely move in his steel grip. Yet, he’s careful not to hurt me or put me in discomfort in any way . . . for now, at least.
I kick and scream, knowing that will irritate PuppetMaster. Maybe I’ll annoy him enough to make him want to hurt me.
He tightens his hold on me, sliding his hand up to my neck and squeezing until I stop struggling. “Remember the safe word, doll?” he asks again in a raspy whisper.
“What safe word?” I ask.
“Exactly.” PuppetMaster continues to speak in a strange, low whisper. “Promise you won’t fight me, doll?”
“You don’t want people to stare and get us into trouble, do you?”
“Good girl,” he rasps.
In ancient India, when a man died, his widow would throw herself into her husband’s funeral pyre and burn to ashes.
Of course, not every widow did this. If the husband had chosen to be buried instead, she could simply join him in his coffin—alive. She could also choose to drown herself.
So, you see, plenty of options for those widows.
This practice was outlawed in the nineteenth century, not long after Europeans entered India and started meddling in their affairs.
I know. It sounds like a terrifying, inhumane practice.
But right now, I wish those Europeans would’ve seen some good in it and spread the custom throughout the Western world instead.
As men lower a shiny, brand-new, wooden casket into the ground, undeterred by heavy rain, I raise my gaze to stare at her—the woman who’s made my life a living hell more times than I can count.
Her ex-husband died years ago, and this funeral is for her son, but better late than never, right?
I guess, technically, she’s not a widow because she’d already gotten divorced when her ex-husband died, but I don’t think divorce existed in ancient India.
I imagine myself pushing her off into the damp, muddy hole while black-clad mourners cheer and egg me on. I’d be doing the right thing. I mean, I’d prefer to see her go out with a literal blaze, but it’s raining pretty hard right now, and I don’t think we could start a blazing pyre if we tried.
Or maybe we can. I don’t know. I’m really not an expert on the subject; it was just something I came across on Wikipedia when I was bored.
I don’t feel like looking it up on my phone now because that would be disrespectful to the good man whose funeral I’m attending. Besides, the wind’s trying to snatch my black umbrella away, and I need to hold it with both my hands.
I don’t care about being historically accurate. I just want to fantasize about my mom dying a horrible death.
It’d be easy, too, because she’s practically skin and bones these days.
Her hair is dull. Her skin is pale and blotchy. The darkness around her eyes isn’t just makeup.
She looks bored with her empty gaze, no doubt because she’d rather be shooting up some drugs at home. I’ll bet good money that underneath those long sleeves, she’s hiding needle marks.
Even though it’s only been five years since I last saw her, it looks like she’s aged twenty years. The lines on her face are so deep and numerous that her skin appears leathery.
If she showed up at a plastic surgeon’s office, asking for Botox, they’d have to restock their supplies when they were done with her. I can’t even begin to imagine how she’d look with permanently tight facial muscles, though. As it is right now, her face shows no emotions. Or, maybe she doesn’t have any left anymore.
That said, when I was growing up, it felt like she was always wearing a scowling mask. Maybe her current lack of facial expression is an improvement.
I tighten my grip on the umbrella handle as the wind pulls it in all directions. My black lace dress is already half wet, despite my best efforts in rotating the umbrella every time the wind changes directions. It’s chilly, and I can’t help but shiver every once in a while, gritting my teeth together.