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a room where the light won't find you

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Victor Angelov ordered women the same way he ordered takeout--which was to say he didn't, he told his second in command what he wanted on his table or bent over it and several layers of rigorous background checking later, he got what she decided wasn't a security risk. If his temper honed itself in those hours between the desire and the realization of it, that wasn't her problem. Those girls said yes to a night with Angelov. On their own heads so be it.

In the part of herself that couldn't be allowed to talk too loudly, Mona might have acknowledged that people didn't say no very often if you said "Angelov" first. Mr. Angelov would like--a phrase that was lately this city's finest lockpick, restaurant reservation, set of walking papers, wheel-greaser. So what Mona was hearing right now was at first more perplexing than enraging.

"What do you mean, you can't? Are the roads out?"

"Jeri and Annette are sick." The voice coming through the phone grew noticeably cooler as it continued, "And Maria is recovering."

"Tell the less sick one to chug some Nyquil and fake it like a good--" Mona's own voice had climbed and gotten thin. Not good. Not the way Mona Dunnett sounded, especially not to some--civilian. Mona drummed her fingers on the table and forced her voice down into a smooth, calm register. No stress. Not about something like this. "--A good girl."

"I--" Some muffled, indistinct noises, and something that was probably swearing, and the woman that came back was as brusque as Mona herself, any slippery sex-worker elisions gone. "Listen, Dunnett. They took a client together last week and this week Jeri has a sore between her legs. I'd love to give your boss a disease, but I'd rather not end up in a ditch even more. I can send you a blonde--"

"No."

"--Or a redhead, or anything else you want. But the Angelov special is off the menu."

"The amount of money I fucking pay you--"

"To be subtle. To be discreet. To send you the safest, cleanest girls, and patch up what you send back to me, and to do it in a way that no one notices a pattern, despite--"

"Enough," Mona said. "I'll find someone else."

She hung up. Her fingers were drumming again. She made them stop, and a few seconds later made herself relax them out of tight fists. Deep breaths in and out, hands loose on the table, face noncommittal, posture alert but easy. Didn't matter she was alone in the room. Mona didn't bleed out loud, not here, not in this building.

There was no someone else. There were other clean agencies, but none with a Madam who could keep her mouth shut. Mona hadn't had time to investigate independents, and at three in the morning on a school night, she wasn't confident of her chances if she went looking for coeds at any of the nearby clubs.

Angelov was coming through that door any minute now. If she left before he got here he'd consider that cowardice. Everything she'd built would be ruined. Everything she'd sacrificed to get this high in his organization would be wasted. Angelov was coming through that door any minute now, and Mona was going to have to tell him no.

Should she stay at the table? It put the dining set between them, and moreover looked professional, but it was towards the back of the large, open-plan penthouse, far from the exit. The couches were closest, but deep, hard to stand up from quickly, and more informal--informal might be good, he might be able to find a new second in command but would he be able to find one he liked--the kitchen. Getting a beer for the road, because they were friends, she could go in his fridge. She could lean against the counter by the knife block and remind Angelov that he liked her, and one of the things he liked was that Mona Dunnett was all sharp edges.

Mona slipped into the kitchen and pulled a beer from the fridge. She took a sip, rolled it around in her mouth, spat it into the sink, and dumped half the bottle in after it. Then she waited, bottle sweating all down her fingers, counting slow breaths and listening for the elevator.

It had been a long night for him. Maybe he'd be tired. Maybe the moon had turned to green cheese in the ten minutes since she'd stood up.

The elevator dinged. Mona yanked her phone from her pocket and pulled up the first app her thumb landed on, because why would she be cowering in the kitchen, staring at the door of the elevator, doing nothing, stupid, stupid.

The bodyguards came in first, not worth looking up. Keep looking at your phone. String three purple diamonds together, four silver circles, three orange squares.

"Mona," Victor Angelov said.

"Boss," she said. She hunted down a red square, pulled it into line with four more, watched them disappear in a tinny explosion. Then she looked up.

When Mona had met him three years ago she'd thought he was handsome. Tall, well built, shoulders like the side of a house. Sturdy jaw, sharp blade of a nose that looked like you could break it from across the room, and pale, distressing eyes that made you not want to try. Dark hair that was greying attractively.

He was still good looking, objectively. Right now he looked as harmless as he ever did, tie missing, shirt open, throat exposed. Unbuttoning his cuffs, a faint smugness blunting his expressions.

"Went well?"

"Always does." He took off his jacket and tossed it over the back of the couch. No shoulder holster tonight. The bodyguards finished their quick sweep of the penthouse, and he dismissed them with a jerk of his head. They piled into the elevator. Mona was opening her mouth to speak again as the door closed, but Angelov's face swung back to her. "Why are you still here?"

"Just finishing up." She gestured to the table with her bottle. "Some papers for you to look at in the morning. Pierce is taken care of, Brosch will be here around noon." Mona took a drink, leaned back against the stove. "Oh--Madeleine couldn't send anyone tonight, so you can catch up on your beauty rest--"

"Mona," Angelov said. "Come out of the kitchen."

She hesitated. He saw it, and she knew he did, because she could read him better than she could read her own parents, because for three years Victor Angelov had been the black hole at the center of her life, and hesitating was the worst possible fucking thing to do.

Mona set down the beer and wiped her hands on a dishtowel and came out of the kitchen. She stopped well within his arm's reach. This close she could see a sheen of sweat in the hollow of his throat, smell faintly the liquor he'd drunk. This close she was very, very aware of how large he was.

He liked frightened women, and angry women he could make frightened. Mona could not afford to be either.

"How hard is it to find a whore in a city like this?"

"You keep putting your dick in anything that carries a handbag, and I'll be in your place before the year is out," Mona said. Angelov looked away from her. She didn't relax, layering sarcasm heavily onto her voice. Lighthearted. "You can't actually die of blue balls, so if that will be all--"

He backhanded her so hard she stumbled into the couch, going to one knee on the slick white leather. Mona stayed there, pulse slamming in her ears. Her chest was heaving, suddenly. She rotated her jaw, and when she could trust herself to speak again:

"I'm just doing my--"

"Your job," and there was the voice that made her shoulders climb up around her ears, that made her throat close. "Is to do every--" Angelov grabbed her hair and dragged her sideways off the couch, pulling her up to near-dangle, dancing on her toes in front of him. "--fucking--" He shook her like a rat. "--Thing that I tell you to do, Mona. What did I tell you to do?"

Her scalp burned, and her neck ached from the angle. "Let go of me, you piece of shit," she said, making an attempt at a calm voice. "I'm not one of your little whores--"

He let her go, so unexpectedly that Mona stumbled, and used her stumble as excuse to put a step between them.

"You'd be lucky to be one of my whores," he said. "Whores get to leave in the morning."

Mona took half a step backward.

"If you run from me, I will catch you," Angelov said, slow, measured. "And when I catch you, I will break both of your legs."

Mona was not a large woman. She'd always known, that when it came to a physical fight, her only options were to be faster, better armed, and more vicious; and that if she ever had to fight Angelov, it would have to end with him dead.

"Come back here," he said, and Mona obeyed.

He lifted a hand, but this time settled it on the side of her face, and rubbed across one cheekbone with his thumb. The skin was tender. There'd be a bruise there, come morning.

"You and I are going to have some fun," Angelov said, and dug his thumb in sharply, driving a high, pathetic noise from her throat. Shame coursed through her. He sucked in a breath, pleased, like her pain was the first bite of something rich and wonderful. "Well--me more than you."

"Are you going to talk the whole time?" she bit out. His hand slipped down her face to settle around her throat--fuck, he was so tall, he was built on a whole different scale than she was--his thumb settled over the middle of her throat, pressing lightly, warningly.

"You've gotten complacent."

"You need me," Mona whispered. She couldn't meet his eyes--he was looking her up and down, considering, weighing, looking at her as a body that could please him, not a person anymore. "You need me more than--than this."

"Mmm," he said. His thumb stroked her throat. "Make me happy, Mona, and you'll live through this." His hand dropped from her, and he stepped back. It wasn't any easier to breathe. She felt every place he'd touched her, hot, oversensitive. "Take your clothes off."

He dropped into an armchair and out of the path to the elevator. If she was ever going to run--she looked, and he watched her look, and smiled wider. Mona pulled her shirt over her head.

Her movements were jerky, unseductive. She didn't look directly at him as she popped the fasteners on her plain black bra, dropping it and her shirt on the couch, or as she bent to remove her boots.

"You should wear heels more often," Angelov said. She flicked a glance at him and away again, fast. His legs were spread wide, and one hand rubbed his cock through his pants. She set her shoes and socks next to the couch with one longing look at the knife in her boot, and found herself hesitating with one hand on her waistband.

"Mona." A clear warning. She unbuttoned her slacks and shoved them down quickly, kicking them aside, leaving her standing in front of him in nothing but plain black boy shorts.

"Leave those on."

Mona stared over his head at the elevator door, hands clenching and unclenching at her sides. She couldn't look at him any more than she could look directly into the sun, for all that reading him might be more important now than it had ever been. She couldn't watch him getting hard over the rage and terror that were breaking through, that were shredding cold marble Mona Dunnett and leaving behind a girl with knees like water and nipples growing hard in the chill.

The chair squeaked. He was standing. When he got close enough to block her view of the elevator she squeezed her eyes shut but that only made every other sense jump into the foreground--the tap of his shoes as he circled around her, the heat of him, a hair's breadth from her back. She opened them again.

"You keep these hidden," Angelov said, and his hand was on her hip, stroking up the curve of her stomach to cup her breast. The old knife fighter's calluses from his days as a cheap street thug hadn't completely left his hands. The roughness dragged across the sensitive undersides of her breasts and she shuddered, once, uncontrollably. He made an approving noise and jerked her back against him.

Mona could feel him hard against her back. He dropped her breast and moved to the other, scraping his blunt nails against the sensitive skin and she set her teeth into her bottom lip, not wanting to give him the satisfaction of making noise. Angelov bored of that quickly and dropped his hand to the waistband of her panties. She hadn't thought she could get more tense but now, as his thumb fretted the edge, her whole body felt tight as drum skin, ready to shatter.

"All mine," Angelov said, and she flinched a little. His fingertips slid under her waistband. "Something to say?" He shifted, bending slightly, pulling the hard line of his cock away from her naked back, but the alternative might have been worse. Now his mouth was against her ear, now dipping down the side of her neck, letting her feel a touch of his teeth against her, before rising again. "Were you going to say I don't own you, Mona? That there's anything in you that I can't take?" The hand in her panties dipped lower.

"No," Mona whispered.

"Good," he said into her ear. He pulled his hand out of her panties, making her sag with premature relief. "I'd love to have the excuse to punish you twice, but I'm sure you don't feel the same way."

A sudden tearing pain in her scalp, and he led her by the hair, stumbling, around the couches and across the floor to his bed. He let go of her and sat on the edge.

Angelov patted his knee. Mona stared, uncomprehending. "Over my knee," he said.

"Fuck that," she said immediately, without thought, then lurched forward, scrambling to obey. "Sorry, I didn't--I wasn't--sorry." She bent over him tentatively, bracing herself against his other leg, until his arm came down across her back and knocked her flat, ass up in the air, presented to him.

"Better," he said, and yanked her panties down to tangle around her knees. Mona tried to tell herself to be grateful he'd picked humiliation over true pain as he rubbed the globes of her ass. Then: "Tell me why you're being punished."

Her throat closed up like a fist. She opened her mouth, closed it, licked her lips. Tried again. Didn't get farther than, "I..."

"You know," he said thoughtfully. His finger was tracing the line where her ass met the top of her thighs. "I think I could grow to like this just as well. I couldn't go as hard on you, but you're a tough girl, aren't you? You'd learn to do your job with my come dripping out of you. I could fuck your throat until you could barely talk and make you do my security briefings anyway." He pushed her cheeks apart and rubbed one thick finger against her asshole. She couldn't stop the tiny noise that slipped out of her. "You want to be my second and my cheap, convenient hole, Mona, or do you want to start being good?"

"I disobeyed," she said, her voice a thin scrape of noise. He pulled his hand away. "I disobeyed you and I'm being punished."

"Count," he said, and smacked her, hard, right where her ass met her thighs. She jerked, feeling smaller and more humiliated than she'd ever felt in her life. "Count."

"O-one."

"Good girl."

He kept going. Mona tried not to make noise beyond the numbers she had to say, but whines slipped out. She'd been hurt worse--he'd hurt her worse, pulling a dislocated shoulder back into place with unpleasant relish--but she'd never felt so exposed, so weak, so vulnerable. There was no angle to this, no way to control what happened to her.

By the time he stopped she was well into the double digits. Her ass and thighs felt like they were on fire, and her chest was heaving. Her stomach muscles ached from holding the position. There was a long, tense moment of silence.

A light touch on the raw skin at the top of her thighs, and she twitched. Angelov smoothed his hand down her, over her throbbing skin, over and over, like gentling a horse. Mona squeezed her eyes shut and tried to think of something else. Millions of women survived this every year. She would too.

The arm across her shoulders pressed down hard, and his hand slipped between her legs.

She spasmed, legs closing on his hand, shame sleeting through her blood.

"Mona," Angelov said.

The word please formed in her mouth. She didn't let it out. Slowly, she made her legs relax, and his long hand drifted up, cupped her between the legs.

"Who have you been shaving for?" he said, drawing back a little, stroking the bare lips.

"I just--I just like it," Mona said.

"Keep it this--oh," he said, and the way his voice changed sent a hot, sickening flush of shame through her body. His fingers had pushed apart her swollen lips and found the wetness there. "Oh, you little slut. Someone's been keeping secrets."

She covered her face with her hands. Angelov explored her leisurely, circling her clit, rubbing her entrance with the tip of his finger before pushing it inside achingly slowly, letting her feel every inch, and how easily her body let him inside, how greedily it took a second finger. He crooked them inside her, and she whined into her hands. She couldn't slow her breathing down. Couldn't stop the noises that leaked out as Angelov held her over his knee and finger-fucked her until he was wet to the wrist, and her red, sore ass was shaking.

"Tight little slut," he said approvingly.

Then he shoved her off onto the floor. She yelped as her ass hit the hard wood, and shifted around to stand, but his hand on her shoulder kept her down.

She shifted around to her knees and stayed there. Angelov held out his free hand. His fingers and palm were slick and shining and damning in the florescent light.

"You made a mess," he said. She couldn't look away from his hand. Couldn't look at that vicious, knowing face. The air was cold between her legs. It did nothing to ease the throbbing, needy, empty feeling, where her stupid fucking body betrayed her.

"Well?" he said. "Clean it up."

For a moment Mona didn't understand, and she made herself look at him. His eyes were gleaming, bright and poisonous as mercury, and they were on her mouth.

Slowly, she leaned forward, and licked his palm clean. Angelov shoved his two middle fingers into her mouth and she sucked the taste of herself off them and willed herself not to cry.

He pulled his fingers out of her mouth long after they were clean, and stood up. She made to follow. He raised an eyebrow. She dropped back down and tried to gently rest her weight back on her heels, hands in fists on her thighs.

Angelov undressed in no particular hurry, at ease in his skin the way he--why not admit it, when she could feel her wetness against her thighs--had every right to be. He left it all in a pile by the bed, the sort Mona had razzed him about only a week or a million years ago, have some care for your things--but Angelov was hard on his things. Which wasn't something to think about, now.

"Up."

She stood up. The panties were still tangled around her ankles. She kicked them away, into the pile. Finally she looked at him, and sucked in a breath.

He looked as thick as her wrist. Jesus Christ, would her fingers even close around that? Probably that was only her long dry spell talking, but when she walked out of here (if she walked out of here) she'd be wincing.

Angelov stepped in closer, blocking out everything that wasn't him. "Give me your hand."

He took her hand in his and wrapped her fingers around his cock. Mona sucked in a ragged breath.

"It's going to hurt when I fuck you," Angelov said. With his hand over hers he made her stroke him, let her feel how her pain and shame and fear excited him. After a few seconds he let her go and jerked his head towards the bed. "On your back. Legs wide."

She climbed up--and it was a climb, his bed was designed for someone over six foot--and laid herself out in the middle like a sacrifice. Angelov crawled up over her and snagged a small pillow from the head of the bed. He tapped her hip.

"Up." She obeyed, and he pushed the pillow under her hips, lifting her up, leaving her even more exposed for him. Displayed for him, how wet and helpless and pathetic she was.

"Eyes on me," he said, and she dragged her eyes up to his. His were glittering. Mona clenched her jaw. She would get through this. She was Mona Dunnett and she would not be undone--

Angelov braced himself on one arm and used the other to guide his cock to her. The broad, thick head rubbed up and down her slit, across her throbbing clit, gathering wetness, coming to rest up against her entrance.

"Look at me," he murmured, and pressed in. One of her hands came up, but before she could bite her fist he slapped her hand down. "No."

She made a hoarse, stomach-punched noise as the head pushed all the way inside her. Oh, God, he'd split her open. Even wet she burned with the stretch, dwarfing the sting from her ass. Angelov made a noise that was almost a laugh, and kept going, filling her inch by inch, slow but without stopping.

"Please--"

"Don't worry," Angelov said, mock soothing. The hand he wasn't bracing himself with stroked her face. "Don't worry, I'm not stopping. You'll get what you need."

With a deep, satisfied noise, he shoved the last inch inside her. Mona whined. She felt like a pinned butterfly, aching deep down inside, stretched hideously around his cock. Angelov shifted his weight on top of her, watching her avidly, drinking up every tiny pained noise she made when he moved.

He sat back on his knees, pulling maybe an inch out of her, enough space to get his hand between them. Lightly, one finger traced the place where they came together, feeling the obscene stretch.

"You feel so good around me, little slut," he murmured. "How many times could I fuck you before it stopped hurting, I wonder?" His hand drifted up to thumb roughly at her clit. "I suppose I could just move to your ass, then."

His thumbnail scraped across her clit, and she shouted. Angelov's smile was blinding. Of course he did it again, and again, until a dry sob worked its way out of her throat.

"Please, please--" Stop, she meant. Don't stop, she meant.

Blessedly, he stopped. His hands went to her hips, and he started dragging his cock out of her. With her hips propped up she could see it, inch by glistening inch. He stopped with just the head still in her. It looked insane. She felt like a doll in his hands. It hurt just as much going in again.

Now he started fucking her in earnest, hard, short thrusts, jerking her against him like she weighed nothing. Every time he bottomed out inside her she moaned, helpless between the pain inside her and the terrible, beautiful satisfaction of being used this way. Every time she'd cut her eyes away from him, refused to speculate, stiffened her spine, every filthy shameful night biting her fist and rutting into her fingers and forbidding herself to put a face to her imaginings--here was the end of it. Just another one of his whores, to hurt until he came.

Angelov shifted, stretching out on top of her, bringing his mouth to her ear. He held her legs apart with his, thrusting into her slower, deeper.

"After everything I've done," he said. "Everything you've watched me do--and you're still moaning on my cock like a cheap slut. You're soaked, Mona. I had no idea I'd be doing you a favor."

He leaned forward on her, bringing his weight onto her clit, and ground in a slow circle against her. Her whines turned to soundless gasping, and then to words.

"Please, please stop, please don't--"

He sat back up. Almost casually, he slapped her. She shut up. Angelov untangled one of her grasping hands from the sheets and pulled it down between her legs. "Make yourself come," he said. "If I think you're faking--" He squeezed her hand gently. "I'll break two of your fingers. And then you get to try again until you run out of fingers."

Her fingers brushed against his shaft, hard as iron, and she shivered. Hesitantly she set her fingers by her clit and started rubbing as he started moving again.

The bright sharp shocks of pain had died to a dull, spreading ache, and she was fucked up anyway, her orgasm wasn't far--but God, if he didn't believe her, she'd seen the hammer in his bedside table, he didn't make idle threats--

His thrusts were deep, slow, lazy. The stretching pain and casual cruelty of it, her fingers working frantic next to her clit, the sheer scale of him stretched over her, sent the edge rushing up to her, and she whined, hanging on it, unable to tip over. Her hips lifted as much as they could, trying to rock up against him, get some little bit of more, something to push her over and loose this terrible coiled tension. Her free hand went up to her chest, pinching and twisting at a nipple (and he saw it, there was no hiding anything) but it wasn't enough.

"Please," she said, and didn't recognize her own wretched, desperate voice. "Please, Angelov, Boss, Victor, please, faster, harder, something--"

"Boss," he said, and "I like that", before taking pity on her and grabbing her hips again. He thrust into her hard, over and over again, shaking her whole body with the force of it, until she spasmed, her splayed legs shaking. Her hand jerked away from her clit and grabbed the sheets, eyes squeezing shut as she rode it out, clenching helplessly around him again and again. It felt better and more disgusting than anything she'd ever felt in her life.

When she could open her eyes he was staring down at her, avid, hungry. His irises were the thinnest silver film around black. He took her hand again and she tensed, post-orgasm languor chased away in a blink.

"That was fast," he said. Her hand felt tiny in his, every bone thin and fragile in his grip. His thumb stroked the back of her index finger.

"You felt how wet I was," she whispered. "Boss, please. I--" She licked her lips and kept going, through the crack in her voice and the blush that scalded her face. "--I've wanted you for. A long time. Please, I swear to God--"

He kissed the back of her hand, and let it drop back down. "Don't worry, slut. You're still useful to me."

Relief shuddered through her.

"My turn," Angelov said, and started moving again, tearing a long moan from her throat. The orgasm left her sensitive to the point of pain--more pain--as he started thrusting, short, sharp, hard, bottoming out with every thrust. "Good little whore--good whore--" He stretched over her, careless of his weight, her aching sensitive breasts crushed to his chest.

Tears started at the corners of her eyes, at first from the pain, and then, as he kept going, at the arousal that was building again. Fucked open and raw and soaking by a murderer, and all she could do was squeeze his cock in her and whimper when her nipples dragged across his chest.

"Beg for my come," he said in her ear. His thrusts were growing faster, harder. "Beg me-"

"Please," Mona said. "Please, I want it, g-give me your come, let me feel it--"

He shuddered and thrust again, and stayed there, shoved deeper inside her than anyone had ever been, and ground himself against her as he filled her with his come. Mona closed her eyes and hated herself and hated the tiny curl of disappointment in her stomach. She lay still as stone as his fast, panting breaths in her ear slowed down, and some of the throb between her legs abated.

Eventually, he slid out of her. Instinctively she tried to close her legs, but he slapped the inside of her knee.

"None of that."

Instead Angelov slipped his fingers inside her. Mona bit back a whine as he stroked the tender, abraded skin, the hole that wouldn't quite close all the way yet. It felt like he was pushing his come back up inside her. She lifted her head from the sweaty sheets and--yes, she was right. When he was satisfied she had every drop he got off the bed and came back with her boyshorts dangling from one hand. Almost tenderly, he helped her put them back on without sitting up.

"I want it in you," he said, stroking her through the rapidly dampening cloth. She didn't say anything. He took his hand away and let her close her legs.

When he moved away to lean against the headboard she felt like she could take a full breath for the first time in an hour. And if it kept wanting to catch on a sob in her chest, well, that was too damn bad.

"We're not done," Angelov said, and reached out one ridiculous long arm to snag her by the hair. He pulled her up the bed and held her face over his softened cock, soaked with her wetness and his come. "Get me hard again," he demanded, as she crouched over him awkwardly. "No hands."

She opened her mouth and took the head in her mouth. Even soft he was more than a mouthful, especially with his hand twisted viciously in her hair, demanding she take more and more, until her nose touched his stomach. Just barely, she could breathe around him, and when he got hard--

"Ever deepthroated, Mona?"

She whimpered into his cock, and felt it stir on her tongue.

"No?" he said thoughtfully. "Well, we don't have anywhere to be until noon."