Lolita backs up toward the door, her terrified eyes never leaving my face. I put out my hand and shove the door closed, crowding her against it. “Who were you with?”
Lolita swallows and stares up at me with huge eyes. She can sense it, too, this power crackling through me. It’s like a hit of adrenaline and a shot of whisky, making me invincible.
I slam my fist against the door, and she jumps. “Don’t lie to me.” The scent from her body is all warm summer night and fragrant flowers. I’d know, wouldn’t I, if she’s had some man pressed against her? I grasp her chin and turn her head in the light, examining her lips and throat. Her mouth isn’t swollen with kisses. There are no red bite-marks on her creamy neck. The tight band around my heart eases a little.
She yanks her chin from my hand and glares at me. “Get your hands off me.”
“In this house, you will obey my rules,” I seethe.
“Go to hell.”
So that’s how it’s going to be. That’s how she thinks it will be, anyway. I’m glad she’s misbehaved on her very first night. We can get things straight from the beginning. “Say you’re sorry for breaking the rules.”
Lolita forces a laugh. There’s defiance in her eyes, but fear, too. She isn’t sure how far I’m willing to take this.
All the way.
I reach down and slowly unbuckle my belt, the black leather sliding through the silver buckle. “Last chance, Lolita. Say, I’m sorry, daddy.”
Her voice is a horrified whisper. “You wouldn’t dare.”
There’s nothing I wouldn’t dare do right now. There’s a voice whispering in the back of my mind, showing me the way forward. I loop the belt around her neck and draw her to me. “Tell daddy you’re sorry, and I’ll let you off just this once.”
Her eyes flicker with panic, but she doesn’t say anything. I tighten the belt around her throat until she struggles to breathe. “I’ve got all night. You’ve got about a minute till you pass out.”
“I’m sorry,” she finally chokes out.
“I’m sorry, daddy.”
Her face creases with revulsion. I smile a slow, smoldering smile, anticipating how sweet it will sound from her pretty pink mouth.
“I’m sorry, daddy.”
Her lips are so close to mine that I could drop a kiss onto them. Her breasts are pressed against my chest. I can smell her innocence, just begging to be consumed.
A delicacy like Lolita is meant to be savored. Slowly, I loosen my hold on the belt, slide it free from her neck and step back. “Daddy forgives you, babygirl.”
Lolita takes great, heaving breaths. ‘I’ll tell Mamá what you just did. What you made me call you, you pervert.’
I chuckle, threading my belt back through my pants. “Go ahead. It’s not as if she’ll believe you, you filthy little liar.”
Lolita bursts into tears, yanks the door open, and runs from the room. I watch her disappear down the hall, still grinning.
Then the smile dies on my face.
I stagger and clutch the door frame as horror crashes over me. What the fuck was I just doing to my stepdaughter? The righteous anger that sustained me all evening and told me that terrorizing Lolita was the right thing to do has evaporated, and I’m left cold and empty. I hear a faint peal of malicious laughter, and whip around.
The castel is still around me. The chirping cicadas cut through the night air. I look down at my hands, the ones that so recently held my belt tight around Lolita’s throat, and see that they’re shaking.
Who am I? What am I becoming? I don’t recognize myself from the man I was this morning. The man I was before I met Lolita.