Blood Chains Excerpt

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Blood Art

Status: work-in-progress

Devorah was *cold*. Shivers racked her body and something rattled behind her, metal on concrete. For a second, she thought her mouth was stuffed with cotton.

Haunted by flashes from the night before, she forced her dry eyes open. She was lying on a cement floor with her hands behind her back. Her shoulders ached fiercely.

Wan light shone in foggy, dusty windows set high in the wall. Most of them were half-covered by the vague dark shapes of bushes on the outside.

Devorah rolled over on to her arms and worked herself into a sitting position. She heard a rattle again. She looked behind herself and groaned. A chain led from a pair of handcuffs to a metal eye embedded in the wall behind her.

The mad man was holding her prisoner! Who was he? He had to be one of Ray's friends. Somebody who'd figured out what she had done.

She got to her feet, unsteady, and walked as far as the chain allowed her. She could make it up four of the narrow steps before it pulled taut.

She opened her mouth to shout but a painful twinge from her bladder doubled her over. If she didn't relieve herself in the next couple of minutes, she was going to have a problem. She didn't know how long he was going to keep her against her will but she did know she didn't want to sit in urine-soaked clothes.

She saw the half-built bathroom in the corner. It looked like her chain would reach it. She hobbled over and wondered how in the world she was going to get her jean shorts down with her hands cuffed behind her back. Her bladder cramped ominously.

Devorah went to the nearly-finished third wall and rubbed her belly against it. Please, please, catch!

The third pass over the sharp-edged beam caught the snap and popped it. Nearly crying with relief, she strained her arms to the left, then to the right and tugged on the pockets, trying to get her jeans down.

The zipper was stuck. With hot tears running down her cheeks, she looked around frantically for something to catch the blasted zipper on.

"Need some help?"

Devorah lurched against the wall. Fear filled her, leaving a sharp metallic taste in her mouth.

The lunatic stood halfway down the stairs, a tray in his hands. He set it down on the riser and approached her. Devorah felt like hissing at him.The cold crept into her skin, her bones.

"Don't touch me," she whispered. She couldn't find her voice. She backed up until she was flush against the cold wall. He advanced until his chest touched hers, warm and solid. Smelling of a pleasant musk that made her feel unmistakably like a woman.

She shouldn't feel this way. Devorah turned her face. His minty breath caressed her cheek, the sensitive skin of her throat. Fear-induced cheers ran up and down her spine and blood thundered in her ears. He braced one hand on the wall by her head.

"W-what do you want?" she whimpered.

"Just to help you with that zipper, sugar." With a quick jerk, he tugged her zipper down.

Relief flooded through her like a tsunami. She snatched back a measure of courage and shouldered past him. "Quit calling me that. If you'll excuse me..."

With a bemused smirk, the man headed back around the half-done wall.

Awkwardly, she yanked and wiggled until her shorts fell to her ankles, then yanked her panties down.

Oh, sweet relief! She almost cried, it felt so good.

When she finished, she realized she was in another tight spot. How was she going to get her pants back up?

Red-hot embarrassment burned through her body. She was going to have to ask for help. What if he was a rapist? Or some other kind of sicko?

Well, wasn't it kind of late to worry about that?

He looked pretty scary, with his nose and his eyes swollen and dark blue-purple. Longish black-brown hair fell in shaggy layers almost to his collar. He had broad shoulders and a lean, athletic body she could see even through his t-shirt and jeans. He was obviously a strong man. At 5'6 and a comfortable one hundred and thirty-five pounds, she was no match for him.

"You okay?" he called from wherever he was. He had a Southern twang.

Devorah squeezed her eyes shut and knew she didn't have a choice. Die with dignity, she repeated. "I- I need some help."

He came around the corner looking as embarrassed as she felt. Around the mottled bruises on his face, his skin glowed bright red. He averted his eyes and quickly pulled her panties and shorts up.

He hurried away before snapping the button or zipping the zipper. He stopped at the stairs. "I brought you something to eat."

Devorah sat down on the floor by the wall, under the eye hook in the wall. "Why are you feeding me?" she asked. "Aren't you going to kill me?"

He bit his bottom lip, winced, and shrugged. "I don't know yet. What's your name?"

"You don't know my name?"


"You're not one of Ray's friends?"


Devorah deflated, fear surfacing once more. For a while, there had been that single beam of hope. Ray's friends were jerks, but she doubted they would actually kill anyone. Even in an act of revenge.

The man crouched and watched her for a long moment before speaking. "Are you hungry?"

Devorah stared at him evenly, silent. The cold from the wall behind her soaked through her thin blouse. All her life she'd been strong. She wasn't going to waver now, whether she faced her death or not.

Inside, she shook like Jell-O. He'd never know. She was going to fight him to the death.



"You need to eat, sugar."

"I told you to quit calling me 'sugar.'"

He ran his hand through his hair. The scent of his shampoo, manly and crisp, wafted to her. Loneliness rose in her like yeast. Despite being chained to a wall in a psycho's basement, she wondered what it would be like to have a man by her side that smelled like that rather than cigarettes and cheap beer.

"If you'd tell me your name, I'd call you that."

Devorah licked her dry, cracked lips. Her jaw hurt where he'd decked her the night before. She wondered if it was bruised. Ray never hit her in the face. He didn't like explaining the marks. "Devorah."

"Devorah. Pretty name."

She glared at him. "What do you want from me?"

The psycho stood up and paced a few steps away. He stopped in front of a wall that was just framework and shook a beam, testing its strength. "I don't know yet."

"You're nuts. Insane. Is this something you regularly do? Kidnap innocent people and chain them up in your basement?"

"Innocent?" he scoffed. He whirled and advanced on her, dropping to one knee before her. Lightening fast, he had a hand around her throat. He held her flush against the wall. "You? Innocent? Even as I touch you now, I see all your sins. You killed your husband. You killed two innocent babies before they even saw the light of day."

Devorah's blood ran cold through her veins, freezing her. The man's gaze was all fire, though it did nothing to warm her. She shook her head. Cold sweat coated her skin and if she didn't get her hands in her hair, she was going to break.

The man's hand tightened. She was used to being choked. It was Ray's favorite pastime. She stared the man down. After a second, he let her go.

"You're not afraid to die? You're not scared you'll burn in hell for all eternity?" His bright blue eyes searched hers. "You're an enigma, Devorah. I don't know what to do with you."

He turned around and walked to the stairs. "Double-ya!" he called up.

Devorah wondered who he was calling. A moment later she heard the click-scratch of something approaching. An irrational fear of something unknown gripped her.

To her surprise, a huge black dog appeared at the head of the stairs. It had the features of a German shepherd, but it was easily eight or ten inches taller than any German shepherd she'd ever seen. Instead of being tan and black, the beast was as dark as a midnight shadow.

It trotted down the stairs and stood at attention, a cold gaze focused on Devorah. The irrational fear was replaced by a wild panic. Dogs terrified her. Her heart began to pound and tears leaked out of her eyes. She couldn't control her breathing. Air whooshed out in short, sharp breaths.

She still had scars from the last dog that had been that close to her. Devorah pressed herself against the wall, wishing she could become one with it.

"I've got to go to work. When I get back, hopefully I'll have some idea of what we're going to do." He knelt and scratched the dog's neck and belly. "This is Double-Ya."

*W*, she realized. Like the letter.

"He'd a good dog. Very well trained. He's going to make sure you don't do anything unwise."

The dog lifted one corner of his lip in a silent snarl. He obviously didn't like strangers. She shifted slightly and the chain rattled, scraping on the concrete. The fierce growled deep in his belly. Devorah froze.

"Problem is, he's not trained to deal with the living. He likes everything real still and quiet. I hate to have to leave him down here, but I can't trust you to keep your mouth shut yet."

The man gave the dog a rough hug and stood up. "Really. I wouldn't move too much, if I were you. Double-ya, guard."

The huge dog's thick body took on a tense stance, legs squared, head lowered, dangerous on leveled on Devorah. A low droning growl emitted from the barrel chest, continuous.

Devorah's breathing got faster and faster until the room started to spin and all her senses clouded over. She was about to pass out. When she did, she was sure the beast would be all over her, ravaging her flesh.

She slumped forward. As if through wet cotton, she heard the man cry, "Down, W!"

Strong arms encircled her, supported her. A warm spicy scent enveloped her, tickled her nose and her heart. A gentle hand brushed a strand of hair off her face.

She tried to force herself to stay conscious. For a psycho, this man sure had the kindest, bluest eyes.

He shook her gently, further grounding her wandering consciousness. "You're hyperventilating. Slow your breathing down a little bit. Come on, now, sugar."

He'd called her 'sugar' again, but it didn’t bother her as much.

"The dog-" she choked out. Her thighs cried out from the strain of her awkward position, bent backwards over her calves, her feet pressing into her buttocks.

Slowly he sat her back up. Her head spun and her lungs hitched for air. With a bit of concentration, she overrode her body's impulse to snatch air in as fast as possible and took a slow deep breath.

Suddenly she realized she was sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the man who was going to kill her. She shuddered and twitched away from him. The chain tangled around her legs, stabbing sharply into her shins and left knee when her full weight came to rest on it.

"Ow! God," she yelped, shifting to her butt. She lost her balance and fell over.

He was there again, helping her sit up. After the cold cement floor, his hands were warm- too warm. She shivered away from him.

"Don't touch me."

He complied silently and headed for the stairs. The dog bristled once more. Devorah's blood raced once more. "Wait," she gasped. The dog barked, a deep, bone-rattling sound.

The man stopped, halfway up the stairs. He looked over his shoulder.

"Please- the dog." She didn't know what to ask him. Articulation left her and she could only stare at him helplessly.

"I have to leave him. W, come here." The dog jogged up the stairs to his side. The stairs creaked softly and dust filtered down from the undersides. "Sit." The black beast obeyed, glaring down at her from the fifth step up. "He'll stay up here as long as you don't try anything."

"What am I going to try? I'm chained to the wall." Fear crept through her in a slow trickle. He was leaving her. Alone. With a hungry-looking dog. So what if he was going to kill her? She'd rather die by his hand than get mauled by a dog. "Please don't leave me!"

The look he cast at her was strange, tinged with something she thought was sadness. "I'm sorry. I'll be back in a few hours."

The sound of the wooden door shutting was final, heartbreaking. Though tears filled her eyes and sobs stuck in her chest like lumps of stale bread, she was too scared of the dog to make a single sound.

A low rumble she felt more than heard issued from the dog's throat. Very, very slowly, he inched down the stairs until he stood just a few feet away from her. Face to face, Devorah prayed like she'd never prayed before.