First Chapter: Vicious Carousel (Suncoast Society)

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This is the first chapter of Vicious Carousel (Suncoast Society 25, MMF, BDSM). The book picks up where Friends Like These ends, following Nolan and Kenny after they leave the party.

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Blurb:

Betsy has nothing left to lose but her life when she manages to escape the vicious carousel of abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her Dom. When her Suncoast Society friends rush to her rescue, Nolan and Kenny volunteer to take Betsy in and protect her, with their friends’ blessings.

Nolan and Kenny are no strangers to having a third, but there’s something different about Betsy. They know she must heal and overcome her physical and mental wounds before they can fully earn her trust. She’s got a lot of help from June, Tilly, Eliza, and others. Still, the men hope that when Betsy’s ready, she might want them as more than just friends.

One thing Betsy knows for sure as she traverses her rocky road to recovery—she wants Nolan and Kenny to be a permanent part of her life. But as her ex’s trial approaches and revenge threatens, will her happy ending with them be ripped away?

Chapter One

I am a cliché. Worse, I’m a cliché of a cliché.

She’d known all the “right” things to do, and yet still, she’d found herself slap in the middle of her worst nightmare, the situation everyone had warned her not to let herself get into.

A situation she never thought she’d be in, because here she thought she was different.

Special.

Smarter.

Elizabeth Lambert, known as Betsy to her friends, cowered on the far end of the sofa, sitting with her legs drawn up under her as her boyfriend, Jack, stormed around their duplex apartment. She knew the neighbors next door weren’t home, and so did Jack.

Meaning he could ramp up the abuse full-bore without worrying about someone calling the cops on him.

 

Tonight, Jack was supposed to go work his part-time job as a bouncer at a friend’s bar in Bradenton. On most weekdays and every other Saturday, he turned wrenches at a Chevy dealership in Sarasota.

She suspected there was more going on at the bar besides drinking, but she didn’t ask.

There were a lot of things she didn’t ask anymore, things she should have asked a long time ago, before she’d gotten herself into this position. Eight months ago, she’d had a job as a secretary at a real estate office, a car, a small one-bedroom apartment of her own, and friends.

Now…she just had Jack, and what few things he’d allowed her to keep.

She didn’t even have her dignity.

Worse, she wasn’t sure exactly how she’d ended up here.

What had happened to the laughing, smiling, charming man who’d swept her off her feet? Who’d said all the right things? Who’d made her feel loved and special?

Yes, she’d only been in the local kinky community a few months when she’d met Jack. He’d just moved down from Michigan, said he wanted to retire in a couple of years, so he’d arranged a transfer from a dealership near Detroit. He was divorced for over twenty years, no kids.

And this Detroit Dom, who seemed to have his act together, who seemed to be able to read her mind about what she wanted and needed, had soon collared her and become her Michigan Master.

The duplex apartment, he’d told her, was temporary. He’d needed a place to stay when he first moved down here, and wanted something economical while he looked for a house. He was waiting for his house in Detroit to sell.

Seemed logical.

So what if it wasn’t in the best part of town? It wasn’t a crackhouse.

He didn’t want any slave of his working, so he’d ordered her to quit.

Since she wouldn’t be working, she wouldn’t need a car. She could save the expenses by not having one.

When she’d sold it, he’d put the money in his bank account.

She would, of course, live with him. Her apartment lease was due anyway, so he moved her in with him. But he had his own stuff and didn’t need hers.

Before she realized it, she was under his thumb, under his control.

And then…

Once he had her trapped, the nice guy she’d fallen in love with disappeared, replaced by a snarling, vicious man she didn’t recognize. During one long, lonely day at home, with no access to the Internet because he wouldn’t give her the password to the laptop computer that had been hers before he’d confiscated it, and no phone, she was cleaning and came across papers he’d hidden in a suitcase in his closet.

The house in Detroit he’d kept saying he was having trouble selling because of the depressed market there wasn’t for sale.

It’d been foreclosed on. Right about the time he’d moved to Florida.

When she’d angrily confronted him about it, that was when the real beatings started.

Followed by the revelation that he’d taken pictures of her while she was blindfolded during some of their private play, and if she didn’t toe the line he set for her, exactly the way he set it, her parents would get an earful as well as an eyeful about what their daughter had been up to.

Not that it had stopped him from doing that anyway.

Her parents had disowned her when he told them she was his collared slave.

He’d completely cut her off from everyone and everything.

He owned her, and wouldn’t let her go until he was ready. Not that she could go anywhere, without a car. Or afford to go anywhere, without a job.

So she sucked it up and tried to figure out a way to get free, except it only got worse.

And then he came home one night a month ago with the chain. Long enough for her to make it all around the apartment, and to the bathroom, but not out the door.

Padlocked tightly around her right ankle when he wasn’t home, and securely bolted into the base of the hall wall.

Two weeks earlier, when he’d taken her to the club and marched her around, she’d managed to get permission to use the bathroom. There Loren had slipped a small, pink sticky note to her under the bathroom stall door.

On it, her cell phone number, and Tilly’s.

Call us. Day or night. We’ll come get you,” Loren had whispered before quickly leaving the bathroom.

Betsy had committed the numbers to memory before tucking the note inside the cup of her bra where the push-up pad went.

Right now, she sat cowered at one end of the couch, with her legs tucked under her because she was sitting on the chain, finally free of it. Today, she’d decided she was going to run, with only the clothes on her back, if necessary, and make her escape. She thought she’d have it done and be gone before he returned home, but it had taken her longer to finally work up the nerve to claw it off.

Today, she’d scraped her ankle bloody in the process, but she’d made it, freed herself from the damn chain.

Then, he’d surprised her, came home early, enraged that his manager at work was giving him hassles. She’d sat on the end of the chain, hiding what she’d done.

Unfortunately, she’d had to sit there while he’d pounded her with his fists, unable to defend herself as he took his frustrations out on her.

When he finally finished hitting her, he left her there while he headed for the shower. Then he’d emerged from the shower, took another swipe at her, and left for his other job.

She knew in her heart if she was still there when he got back, he’d do worse to her.

She stayed where she was, perched motionless on the couch, long after she’d flinched at the sound of the door slamming and the echoes of his car driving off had faded from her mind. She waited, waited.

Waited.

It wouldn’t be the first time he’d gone off, and then snuck back to try to “catch” her doing something not allowed.

Finally, when over an hour had passed and her feet had gone numb from sitting like that, she slowly, painfully leaned forward, onto her hands and knees, and flopped onto her side.

Feeling began to flood into her feet and lower legs, painful pins and needles. She started flexing her feet, her toes, until she could finally sit up. The world spun and she had to lie down again. When she felt a wave of exhaustion wash over her, she forced herself back up into a sitting position and dared to put weight on her feet.

A new round of pain shot through her, sending adrenaline coursing through her veins as her heart pounded. Her head hurt, so, so bad.

But she’d done it. Despite the bloody furrows in the flesh of her right ankle, she stood, free of the chain.

Slowly shuffling, and with her head held at an angle to keep from tipping over, she trailed one hand along the wall for balance as she headed for the bedroom. The only thing Jack hadn’t taken from her was her purse.

Probably because there wasn’t anything of value in it. She had her driver’s license—not that she’d been allowed to drive in months—and her Social Security card.

Fortunately for her, she’d had fraud protection put on her accounts because of a skimmer getting her debit card number once at a gas station.

She pretended she didn’t know how to take it off, so Jack hadn’t been able to open any new credit cards in her name. She’d only had one credit card at the time she’d met him, and before she’d moved in with him, she’d used the refund on her apartment security deposit to pay it off.

Without telling him first, which she hadn’t thought she’d needed to at the time, and it had earned her a punishment caning.

At the time, he’d followed it with what had felt like a loving, cuddling session, with him reminding her that, as her Master and Owner, she had to run everything through him first.

She’d been in the wrong, or so he’d convinced her at the time.

Betsy found her rolling carry-on bag under the bed and managed to drag it out, using the bed to climb back to her feet. She grabbed underwear, shorts, jeans, a couple of shirts, and a pair of shoes. Even though she had the phone numbers memorized, she found the bra in her drawer and dug the small piece of paper out of the hiding spot, where she’d kept it hidden, just in case.

After pulling on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, she managed to get her feet into a pair of sneakers. Then she had to sit on the bed for a moment, because…dizzy.

And…

She didn’t know why she was so sleepy. It wasn’t even…

Carefully turning, she looked at the clock on the bedside table.

Holy shit.

Somehow, it was now nearly ten o’clock. She didn’t know if she’d passed out on the couch earlier or what. That meant Jack had actually been gone nearly six hours already.

But she had to get moving. If she didn’t, he would beat her mercilessly for getting out of the chain.

She grabbed her purse and the carryon bag and headed for the front door. After a moment of fumbling, where she was afraid maybe she wouldn’t be able to get it unlocked, she pulled it open and stared around, in shock that she was, finally, free.

Well, sort of.

She pulled the door shut behind her and locked it with the only key she had since Jack had controlled her life. Yes, she had a few things inside the apartment, some books and photo albums she wanted, but her life was more important.

Getting out wasn’t an option anymore. It was mandatory.

She pointed herself toward a convenience store a few blocks away. She didn’t dare knock on anyone’s door. Jack had threatened her that if she went for help, to be aware that he’d already bribed several of them that they would call him.

That was more than likely a lie, and she knew it, but she wouldn’t risk it. It felt like she didn’t know anything anymore. What was real, what was lies Jack had told her.

Nothing made sense anymore.

She had heard all the warnings when she got into the lifestyle. Had seen people do stupid stuff. She thought she was smarter.

She thought she knew better.

She thought she was special. Well, even Jack had told her how special she was, and he was able to smooth over every red flag she thought she spotted with such finesse that she didn’t know which way was up.

She thought he was going to take care of her.

She thought she’d found the love of her life after years of failed vanilla relationships.

As she trudged through the darkness, she hoped Tilly and Loren had their phones handy. Because if she couldn’t get through to them, she damn sure couldn’t go back to the apartment.

And she had nowhere else to go.

When she reached the convenience store, the poor clerk looked like he was going to shit himself. It took her several minutes of begging and pleading for him not to call the cops, and to let her use the phone to call her friends.

After she reached Tilly, she sat in the office and burst into tears at the guy’s kindness. He used the first-aid kit to tend to her wounds, and even made her an ice pack.

Now she realized how much trouble she was in. Seriously. She wobbled between feeling nauseated and dizzy and sleepy, plus the way her right eye was trying to swell closed, she knew it had to be bad.

She had deliberately avoided looking at herself in the mirror before she left the apartment, not wanting to see how bad it was, afraid the extent of her injuries would weaken her reserve to leave, make her scared of what worse things Jack might do to her if he caught her. It didn’t matter that logic told her the police would arrest him for this. It didn’t matter that she knew if she had to she could go to an emergency shelter.

The fear would still be there and slide a knife through what little reserve she’d mustered to leave in the first place.

The guy edged a garbage can closer to her. “You don’t look so good. Are you sure I can’t call 911 for you?”

“No,” she said. “My friends will be here soon. They’ll take care of me.”

She hoped.

“Who the hell did this to you?”

“Someone I never should have trusted in the first place.”

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