Rescuing Eve (Guardian Hostage Rescue Specialists #4) - Ellie Masters Page 0,1

when he grabs a newspaper.

I move woodenly to where he instructs and wait.

“Take this.” He hands me the local paper. Everything’s in Spanish. I don’t know the language, but I can see the date. “Hold it up, just under your chin.”

May 7th.

This marks the third time he’s made me hold up a newspaper while he snaps a photo of me.

“Smile, luv.” He holds up his phone. “You can do better. Your father will want to know I’m treating his little girl well.”

I’m not a little girl. I’m twenty . I smile for the photograph while my hands shake and make the newspaper rustle.

“Ah, now that is a good shot. You have the most amazing eyes.” He takes a step toward me while I force myself not to take a step back. Benefield thrives on fear and I won’t give him any more than absolutely necessary. “Let’s get a close-up of that date. Hold the paper next to your eyes and smile.”

I do as Benefield commands.

“One. Two. Three. Say cheese!” He snaps more than one photograph, then takes a moment to look at them on his phone. “Yes, yes, this will do nicely.” He holds his hand out, palm up, and I give him the newspaper.

I want to ask why my father isn’t paying the ransom, but I keep my lips pressed into the best false smile I can manage. The first photograph was taken one week after my abduction. The second, I think they call it a proof of life photo on the television shows I watch, was taken after spending three weeks in this hellish place. It’s been a little over a month now and I can’t help but wonder.

Why aren’t you paying the ransom?

I don’t understand what’s going on. My father might be many things. Our relationship is beyond strained, but he would never intentionally leave me in a place like this.

Icy tendrils creep down my spine. Is my father not meeting Benefield’s ransom demands?

Is Benefield holding out for a larger payday?

I don’t know what’s happening, and it’s driving me insane.

Five weeks.

Too many days come, and too many days go. Days turn to weeks, and weeks turn to months. I’m the captive of a silver-tongued madman speaking a mouthful of lies.

Five weeks is one week longer than the span of time a girl suffers beneath this roof. They spend one month being trained, sexually abused, and physically beaten, until any fight within them dies. Misery unites them, and maybe that gives them strength? Or maybe it steals their hope?

I wouldn’t know. I’m not one of them.

Yet. I’m not one of them—yet.

Nevertheless, each day is a living nightmare, and I wonder when my status will change. When will I become one of them?

The longer I’m here, the more I believe I’m never escaping this nightmare. But if I do, I’ll make it my life’s work to bring men like this down. Whatever it takes, I’ll learn how to fight. I’ll learn how to win. Justice will be served.

But first, I need to survive. I need to find a way out of here. If I don’t, my future is written in the leering stares of the guards I pass and in the frank admiration from the guests when I’m near.

The guests.

How to describe those lecherous bastards? Too rich and too bored, they’d rather destroy a life than find a woman willing to stand by their side. They’re rotten people. Rotten men inside and out.

Reality is slowly settling in and I don’t like my options. My heart rattles around inside my ribcage. Spurred to restless agitation by yet another ransom demand.

“You may go.” With a flick of his wrist, I’m dismissed. Before I reach the doorway, he calls out, “Do not be late for dinner, my love. I expect you to be on time.”

“Yes, of course.” I take great care to be early to those hideous meals, but I was a minute late last night.

“My guests enjoy your company.”

I’m sure they do not. His guests make my stomach churn.

“You should relax in the spa this afternoon. You look stressed.” His brows pinch together, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say he really was concerned about my mental state of mind.

He’s not. Benefield is a monster.

As for me, tension swirls on every breath and surges with chaotic energy in my veins. It knots between my shoulder blades and climbs up the back of my neck where it settles, making my head pound with the beginning of a migraine.

“That sounds wonderful. Thank