It took me years to find the courage to speak to Luka. He seemed exactly like me. Intelligent. Focused. Serious.
But he"s not the man I imagined.
His reality is cruel and dark. He traps me in his web, his power twisting tighter the more I struggle, until it"s hopeless. I can"t break free.
As he drags me unwillingly into his filthy world, I can"t ignore the terrifying idea circling my mind. What if I belong here with him"Books in Series:Sordid Series by Nikki SloaneBooks by Author:Nikki Sloane Books
You look like a slut. This was the thought repeating in my head.
I tugged at the knee-high white stockings and smoothed down my plaid skirt. It was much too short. The blouse of the sexed-up schoolgirl costume didn"t have buttons to close above my bra. The white shirt gapped and showed cleavage. I felt . . . uncomfortable. Yes, I looked like a slut, but it was also the look I was going for.
Avery, my roommate, smeared on blood red lipstick, and although her gaze was on the mirror, I sensed she was watching me out of the sides of her eyes. She was waiting for me to chicken out.
"You"re going out in that"" Her tone did nothing to disguise her disbelief.
Perhaps I looked ridiculous, and perhaps my stomach had done a flip-flop when I looked at myself in the mirror, but I wasn"t bluffing. Avery had been forced into inviting me to the party at her boyfriend"s frat, but I was going. I hadn"t been out to a party in ages, and Halloween was the one night I could reinvent myself.
A reinvention was needed.
I"d spent my whole life driving toward a medical degree, and everything else had been neglected, including a social life. It was my senior year at Randhurst University, and I"d never gotten close enough with another girl to find a roommate. Avery and I had been paired together randomly by a student housing computer.
She wasn"t happy with the result. The spoiled sophomore was my opposite"she didn"t study. She didn"t care about her grades, her major, or have to worry about scholarship money. The International Bank of Mom and Dad was funding her pointless attempt at a college education, and it was likely she"d wash out by the end of the year. Perhaps even by the end of the semester. She wasn"t focused, and I couldn"t relate at all.
"You look different," Avery said. "Nice."
Her compliment threw me off-kilter. "Thanks. And thanks for letting me tag along."
"It shocked the hell out of me when you said yes. I thought you were a Mormon."
I blinked, confused. "Mormon""
"Yeah." She fluffed her long brown hair. "They don"t celebrate holidays and shit."
My brain played loud static, my defense mechanism against stupidity. "I think you mean Jehovah"s Witness." Not once had I mentioned church to her. I wasn"t even religious"unless you considered science a religion.
She continued to preen in the mirror and I was ignored, which was Avery"s typical response. It could be worse, I told myself. She"d never outright been a bitch.
Her phone rang, singing an obnoxious song, but it cut off as she answered it. "Hi, are you downstairs"" Her gaze flicked my direction. "Yeah, Addison"s ready, too. You remember she"s coming." It wasn"t said like it was a question.
I held down the hem of my skirt as I ducked into the back seat of Brent"s car. He was my age, and hadn"t been dating Avery all that long. The two-door Mustang"s back seat was a joke. I had to position my knees to the side so I could sit, but the car was warm and clean, so I knew not to complain.
It was a short drive to the frat house. It"d be a hike back, but I could walk if needed. Although the campus was small, the city was a college town and relatively safe. Yet nerves fluttered in the pit of my stomach as the car parked behind the huge Tudor-style house adorned with the three Greek letters out front.
I"d never been to a frat party.
Would it be as wild as everyone made them out to be" I followed behind Avery and Brent, realizing now that their costumes matched. Batman and Catwoman. I tried not to stumble over the uneven walkway leading around the house and up to the front door.
Music thumped steadily, and loud conversation could be heard through the open door. I shivered in the October air. On Avery"s suggestion, I"d left my coat back at the dorm. There"d be nowhere to put it, and she"d warned the place would get hot with that many bodies packed inside.
On the front porch, a guy stood and checked IDs. I dug mine out, but Brent shook his head. "You"re good."
"It"s fine, I"m twenty-one"" I started.
"Nah, Addison, you"re with me, that"s all my boy needs to know."
I jammed the plastic card back in the tiny pocket of my skirt as a shimmer of disappointment flowed through me. I"d only turned twenty-one in August and hadn"t had many opportunities to use my new license. My birthday had been a sad affair. I"d spent the summer interning at the hospital, and a few of the other orderlies took me out. The evening had been over before ten p.m.
The entryway was dark and packed with people trying to hold conversations over the loud music. Most were in costume and gripped a plastic cup. There were large rooms to the left and the right, a staircase ahead, and a hallway leading to the back of the house, lined with picture frames of past pledge classes.