Lalita Chetana tightened the straps holding her silver latex corset cinched around her ample cleavage. The lilac streaks in her waist-length black hair complimented her dark amber skin. Leaning over the battered sink, she checked her reflection in the cloudy mirror of the club while swaying to the heavy beat of the music pounding through the stalls of the bathroom.
While the Goth club had excellent mood lighting, the bathroom was lit with cheap overhead fluorescents that made her look as sweaty and tired as she felt. The metallic purple ring in her lip glinted dully as a scowl curled her black painted lips. Behind her, a perky blonde in a velvet Morticia Addams dress checked her reflection and fluffed her hair.
Something about the blonde struck her as off. Fixing her eyeliner, Lalita watched the woman in the mirror and tried to put her finger on it. The dress fit the atmosphere of the club, but the blonde bob and pink manicured nails didn't.
Obviously, she was one of the posers that came to the Goth club so she could brag to her friends at the sorority house about her walk on the wild side.
The blonde reminded Lalita of the girls that used to torment her in junior high when she first moved to the US from India. Dark skinned, with a bold nose and full cheeks, she stood out from her groomed and pampered classmates at the prep school. With no mother at home and in an entirely new culture, her natural shyness had transformed into a crushing self-doubt and depression. She hid the bullying from her father, he had more than enough to worry about, but she dreaded going to school every morning and facing the hissing whispers.
Later on that year, she found acceptance and a best friend in a confident girl with cardinal red and coal-black hair, named Kari. In gym class one day, Kari had taken it upon herself to cut down a bitchy group of girls that were tormenting Lalita about her thick eyebrows. That act of kindness elevated Kari to goddess status in Lalita's eyes. In the small group of Goth girls at her school, Lalita had found acceptance and a celebration of the things that made her unique. Over time, she had transformed herself from a scared little Indian girl into a Goth princess.
Something about the way the blonde watched her plucked at her nerves, and she finished dabbing at the running eyeliner. There was a hint of malice in those wide blue eyes that studied her every move and the slight smirk curving her bubble gum pink lips.
"Gosh, it sure is hot out there," the blonde said as she fanned herself, the long strands of her sleeves fluttering around her hand.
"Mhmm," Lalita replied, checking her teeth to make sure none of the black lipstick had rubbed off on them.
Moving closer, the blonde lifted a strand of purple from Lalita's hair, and smiled. "Your hair is pretty. Wherever did you get it done?"
Stepping back, Lalita removed her hair from the woman's hand. "I did it myself."
This chick was either drunk, high or hitting on her. Either way, she was not in the mood for any of it. Trying to scoot around her, she yelped when the blonde caught her hand in a surprisingly strong grip. Alarm bells went off in her head when the woman took out a loaded syringe out of her pocket and uncapped the needle with her teeth.
Not a poser. This woman wore her outfit as a disguise.
Grunting, the woman slammed Lalita into the wall and stabbed her in the arm with the syringe. Lalita's abrupt scream of shock cut off as the blonde threw her to the dirty bathroom floor and smashed her hand over Lalita's mouth, giving a cold grin. "Stupid bitch," the woman hissed. "Didn't the Sanjit ever tell you it was dangerous to go out alone?"
Burning in her veins. Whatever was in the syringe spread through Lalita's body like painful fire. The words froze her and a new level of panic set into her soul. This wasn't any ordinary pscyho. This woman knew who her father was. Fear sank its claws into her body and sweat broke out in a harsh sting over her skin. Why? Lalita tried to scream out from behind the woman's hand. Her struggles lessened as her body refused to respond to the order from her mind to fight.
Sitting back on her heels, the woman blew out a harsh breath as she lifted Lalita from the floor. "You can't be that ignorant. The Sanjit put my husband and people into prison. He must pay." Slinging Lalita's arm over her shoulder, she dragged them toward the exit of the bathroom. "Your death is going to be broadcast over the Internet as a lesson to those who would stand in our way."
"Anarchists," Lalita whispered in a garbled voice as her head dropped against her chest and her tongue stopped working. Unable to move her eyes, she watched the grimy floor of the bathroom turn into the dark polished wood of the main bar. Crimson, blue and lavender lights moved around on the shiny surface and her increasingly confused mind tried to find of a way out of this.
The blonde woman swore and shifted her grip as Lalita increasingly became a deadweight.
Dark wood turned to rough slate as they neared the entrance of the club. Desperately, Lalita tried to lift her head to find the bald bouncer that always guarded the front door. While they weren't friends, Lalita had been coming to this club for the past two years and he always let her in without having to wait in line. Being the daughter of a diplomat had some perks.
"Boy, you sure drank a lot tonight," the blonde said in a chipper voice as she hiked Lalita up with her arm around her waist. Head flopping, Lalita dangled like a marionette with broken strings.
"Let me help you," the bouncer said in a low rumble.
The world in her vision spun as the bouncer grabbed her and swung her into a cradle hold. The light from the chandelier overhead burned her eyes and she wanted to cry out in pain, but she couldn't even blink.
"No, that won't be necessary." The blonde's voice went from chipper to cold. "We have friends waiting right out front to drive us home. I don't want them to get a ticket for blocking the fire lane, so we’d better hurry."
Hands tugged at her, but the bouncer held her tight and tipped her head so he was looking into her face. "Lalita?" he asked and snapped his fingers in front of her eyes. Whatever he saw made him blanch and he yelled over his shoulder, "Call an ambulance!"
The blonde tried to rip Lalita from his arms, but he wasn't as easy to overpower as a 5'2 140 pound girl. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he thundered and shoved the woman back with one hand. "Lalita's in trouble. She has no pupil response. She needs to get to the hospital."
Loud voices echoed in the foyer around her as people spilled in from the main section of the club in a flurry of leather and latex. The room spun again as he turned to shout to someone. Lalita had a brief glimpse of the blonde's furious face as she melted into the crowd and pushed her way out the front door.
"Lalita!" Kari screamed and grabbed her hand. Unable to find Kari, Lalita lay helpless in the bouncer's arms and wept without making a sound.
* * * *
Rashid slammed his hand repeatedly on the dashboard of the van. "How could you possibly fuck this up! You had her! You had the daughter of the head of the United Nations Security Council and you let some Neanderthal bouncer take her from you."
"I didn't let him take her!" Karen screamed back at him from the cargo hold of the van. The empty handcuffs hanging from a bar stretching over the ceiling jangled as the van took a sharp corner. "It wasn't my fault. I couldn't get her away from him without getting caught."
Running an almost skeletal hand through his thinning brown hair, he eased up on the gas. "Why didn't you use the emergency exit?"
"It was blocked by a group of her emo nerd friends. I couldn't make it through them without someone noticing her." She angrily jerked herself into the front seat next to him. "You're the one who gave me the dose of sedative. It was supposed to make her pliant, not catatonic. This never would have happened if you didn't mess it up."
"Don't you try to pass your failure off on me. I hypnotized the housekeeper and got access to Lalita's schedule. I killed bodyguard that was supposed to be watching her tonight without her knowledge. All you had to do was get her out of the club." He swung into an underground parking garage and punched a series of numbers into the gate. He examined his knuckles that were starting to swell from beating the dashboard. "David is not going to be pleased."
"Fuck David," she said in a shrill voice and slumped back into her seat as they cruised through the garage. "I wasn't doing this for him. I was doing this for my husband and all the other people that Lalita's father put in jail."
"I'm well aware of what happened to your husband. His failure was the reason Chetana became known as the Sanjit, the Invincible One."
"He was framed!" She screamed at him so hard the cords on her neck stood out. "My husband was set up by someone claiming to be an anarchist. How was he to know that they worked for the UN? We were supposed to trade that bitch for him!"
He ignored her and continued, "And now we have your failure to add to the illustrious history of your family." He turned into a parking spot and made no move to turn off the engine. "The only time the Sanjit ever stopped his persecution of us was when his wife was assassinated. He is untouchable. The only way to get to him is through his daughter. You know how hard we worked to set this up." Spit flew from his lips as he screamed. "And now what? We have a webcast going live in two hours with the other anarchist leaders around the world and no Lalita!" His fists slammed into the dash hard enough to rock the van. "This was supposed to be our victory, our redemption for the colossal failure of your husband." She started to yell at him and he thundered back, "The Sanjit is not going to let his daughter out of his sight after this."
The beeping melody of a cell phone increased the tension in the car. "Are you going to answer it?" she asked and started to chew on her thumbnail with jerking bites.
"No." He leaned his forehead against the wheel while a trickle of blood ran from his split knuckle and into the creases of his palms. "We will tell him in person."
She completely chewed off her thumbnail and switched to her pointer finger. "I don't want to."
Jerking his head from the wheel, he reached to his foot and pulled a gun out of the ankle holster. "You're coming with me."
"He'll kill me!" she wailed. The heavy black eyeliner ran down her face as tears spilled down her chin.
"Maybe. But if you don't come with me I will kill you right here, right now." He leaned over and stroked the gun over her eye socket. "I'd love to do it. Would save me the trouble of having to beg for my life upstairs."
Blanching, she stared at the barrel of the gun. "Okay."
The phone rang again and Rashid's voice cracked, "Let's go. If we don't hurry, we'll be the entertainment for tonight's webcast."
Starting to shake, she nodded and worked on chewing off the next nail off her hand. He slid across the van after her and put the gun in his waistband. Together they walked toward the elevators, and Rashid desperately tried to think of a way to save his life.
Nine Months Later
Sweat dripping into her eyes, Lalita tried to dodge a punch thrown at her throat by her bodyguard, Kent. His big fist barely grazed her skin and she swore heavily. Once again she had been distracted from her self-defense lessons by his amazing powder-blue eyes and the smattering of freckles on his high cheekbones. Too bad he saw her as nothing more than a client and was as annoying as he was handsome.
"That was very sloppy, Ms. Chetana," a deep voice boomed from the other side of the room as Asher, her other bodyguard and current obsession, strode over to them. Dressed in a white T-shirt and black running pants, his dark chocolate-colored skin gleamed in the sunlight coming through the second floor windows. Built like the ex-linebacker he was, he moved with surprising grace for a man his size.
Crossing their arms over their big chests in an almost identical pose, the two men stared at her, and she tried to keep from wilting under their gaze. "We've been working for over two hours. I'm tired!" The men continued to stare at her and she muttered, "Us normal human beings have to take breaks ya know."
Kent's lips twitched as he suppressed a grin. "Ms. Chetana, if you need to take a break and go get a pedicure, please don't let us stop you."
Lalita growled at him and Asher added, "We'll try to go easier on you, Princess. You're just a little girl after all." Asher and Kent had started calling her Princess after she had complained their sparring was ruining her manicure.
Fists clenching at her sides, Lalita sucked in a breath through her nose and spat out, "I'm going to kick your ass."
Rolling his shoulders, Asher made a “come on” gesture and Kent stepped out of the sparring circle.
Angry, tired and itching to smack the smirk off Asher's beautiful lips, Lalita launched herself at him with a yell. He ducked her fist and swept her legs out from beneath her. Landing on the mat, she rolled and kicked at the back of his knee, bringing him onto the ground with her. Lightning-quick, she was on his back and tried to get him into a chokehold.
Big hands gripped her and flipped her over his head, followed by the rest of his solid weight landing on top of her and pinning her to the ground. Dark eyes stared into hers as that arrogant smile stretched over his lips. The feel of him pressed against her made her pussy clench and her nipples hardened to pebbled tips.
"Try to get some leverage. Use your legs," Kent yelled from the wall, and she struggled against Asher's weight. Every time she shifted, he flowed with her, anticipating her moves. One big leg moved between her thighs and the hard ridge of muscle pressed into her clit through the thin cloth of her yoga pants. The pressure froze her and a soft gasp escaped her lips.
Asher's eyes widened and he held still as she tried to buck him off, lifting her hips off the ground and sliding her now full and sensitive pussy over his leg. He quickly shifted his stance and allowed her to toss him to the side. Keeping his gaze, she circled Asher and cursed her overactive hormones that admired the heavy muscles dancing beneath his dark skin.
They measured each other, lunging and darting. The slightest twitch of his eye made her duck as Kent tried to grab her from behind. Asher smiled and dove for her, pushing her right back into Kent's arms as they both crashed to the mat.
"Nice try." Kent chuckled into her ear, his breath stirring along her skin. She tried to wriggle out, but his grip tightened and he locked his legs around hers, spreading her open over him as he extended his long legs and pinned her.
Asher stood grinning at them, examining her as Kent kept her pinned beneath his gaze. Her heart slammed against her ribs as the men she lusted after held her, one with his body and one with his eyes. Her struggles lessened and Kent's arms released her. It must have been her imagination, but it felt like he slowed his forearm down as it dragged across her breasts, pressing against the hard peaks of her nipples.
She fought against a shiver as she rolled off Kent and flopped back onto the floor. The combination of exercise and sexual hunger left her feeling limp and wrung out. A knock at the door wiped the amused smirks off her bodyguards’ faces and they went into instant professional killer mode. Even after nine months of being guarded day and night by them, she still found that transition into deadly predator scary.
Leaving her in a sweaty and unfulfilled heap on the floor, the men stood on either side of the door. Cold and professional, they didn't need to speak to communicate entire conversations. Lalita lay panting on the mat and pulled herself into a sitting position as she checked the clock on the wall.
Saved by her yoga and meditation instructor from begging Asher and Kent to bend her over and take her.
Strands of black and purple hair clung to her sweaty neck and hands while she redid her ponytail. Asher opened the door and Kent stayed on the other side, his posture tense and focused. Dark and light, Lalita paid more attention to her bodyguards than the middle-aged Asian woman who walked in with a bright smile.
"Hi, Mrs. Yazuka," Lalita called out and pulled herself from the mat with a groan. Stretching her arms behind her back, she watched the men and sighed internally when neither seemed to notice her breasts pressing against her tank top. No matter what she did, it appeared she would never be anything more than a client to them.
Crinkles formed around Mrs. Yazuka's soft brown eyes as she unrolled the yoga mats in front of the window and smiled. "It is so good to see you today, Lalita." Folding herself into a seated position, she arched a brow at the men. Mrs. Yazuka was a good friend of their housekeeper’s and came highly recommended. Giving Mrs. Yazuka a nod, Asher and Kent gathered their towels and water bottles. They left the room with a last glance at her, closing the door after them. Lalita found it impossible to relax and meditate when they were around, so Mrs. Yazuka had banned them from the dojo when it was her turn to instruct Lalita.
Warm sunlight glowed behind her closed eyelids as she began to do her deep breathing, drawing in the slightly musky air of the dojo. In her imagination, she could smell the familiar scents of Asher and Kent's citrusy cologne. Images of dark skin, cool blue eyes and hard muscles made her body warm and tingle.
She visualized the air going into her lungs. Muscles loosened up, starting from the top of her head and working their way down. Long and slow breaths relaxed her and let her mind wander. Images of the assault tried to invade her peace. Her heart started to speed up and her breath hitched in her throat. She felt exposed in the middle of the room, vulnerable. It was a mental battle to keep her eyes closed, but she used the meditation tricks she had been practicing and regained her serenity.
"Lalita, I want you to start visualizing your vase." Mrs. Yazuka's voice rolled over her subconscious, triggering the hypnotic suggestion that Mrs. Yazuka had implanted weeks ago.
Lalita immediately lost conscious thought and became a puppet awaiting instruction. "I am the lock," Lalita intoned in a soft voice. Her breath rose and fell in her chest in a constant rhythm as her eyes darted back and forth behind her lids.
Mrs. Yazuka darted a glance at the closed doors. "I am the key."
Reaching back into her pocket, Mrs. Yazuka pulled out her cell phone and quickly dialed a number. "She's ready for her next set of instructions," Mrs. Yazuka murmured into the phone. She took out a small hands-free device and placed it in Lalita's ear. Her hands shook with nervousness as she took her place by the door and listened to the voices of the bodyguards outside.
"Hello, Lock," the male voice on the other end of the phone said into Lalita's ear.
"Greetings, Key," Lalita intoned back, deep in a hypnotic trance. The movements of her eyes stopped behind her lids as she sank further into a suggestive state.
"Have you found out where the next meeting of the Security Council will be?"
"Yes. They will meet in Detroit, Michigan on June 21st."
"Detroit Michigan on June 21st," the man said to someone in the background.
A woman's voice responded, "Detroit? I know a fabulous bondage club we can visit. David plays there quite often." The woman's voice got closer and dropped to a husky purr. "I'll wear my naughty puppy costume for you."
The man made a hushing noise and said into the phone, "What are their plans?"
Lalita's brow scrunched as she said, "I don't know. I couldn't access those files. The only email I was able to locate was a viewing of the fireworks with local American and Canadian politicians."
In the background another man's voice said, "Rashid, we have what we need to enact our revenge. Give her the last order and say goodbye to our little pawn."
Lalita's hands twitched as the man said, "You've done very well. I'm afraid our time together has come to an end. I'm going to leave you with a parting gift to make your stay in jail more memorable. Consider it payment for your father--that self-righteous bastard." The man chuckled and Lalita remained motionless in the sunlight. At the door, Mrs. Yazuka glanced at her watch repeatedly. "When you hear the word 'bitch' you will become aroused. That arousal will strengthen over time until it becomes an unbearable ache. You will do anything to find relief. Nothing is taboo. You will find pleasure in whatever your partner wants you to do. Masturbation will not satisfy your sexual cravings, only interaction with another person. Do you understand, Lock?"
Lalita twitched as a car beeped out on the street. "Yes, I understand, Key." Hearing her words, Mrs. Yazuka hurried across the room.
The man on the phone said, "Good girl. I look forward to hearing about the scandal of your behavior in prison. Lock, you will remember none of this conversation and awaken refreshed and relaxed."
Mrs. Yazuka removed the hands-free device and jammed the phone back into a small slit in her yoga mat. Taking a seat, she slowed her breathing and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the edge of her arm. "Lalita, you're free as a bird," she said and watched Lalita carefully.
Opening her eyes, Lalita smiled and stretched. "I love meditating. It's so refreshing."
Smiling, Mrs. Yazuka said, "You did an excellent job with your breathing." Standing, she motioned to Lalita. "Now, let's go through some basic exercises and stretch you out after your workout."
Nodding, Lalita rolled the kinks out of her neck and sighed. The meditation with Mrs. Yazuka had been such a help with getting her past the assault she faced nine months ago. Before she started working with her, she had suffered from panic attacks that left her crying in her closet at least five days a week. Therapy hadn't helped and Lalita was afraid she would spend the rest of her life a prisoner of her fear. When the housekeeper had suggested Mrs. Yazuka, she had jumped at the chance to try anything that would stop the panic attacks.
She didn't know what she would have done without Mrs. Yazuka's help.