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Authors: Jasinda Wilder
couldn’t make heads or tails of what it was he actually wanted me to do , and I had a feeling I’d never figure it out. I’d only discover that through experience.
    And yet, for all my fear, I realized—if I examined my own emotions honestly—that I felt no sense of danger. I didn’t feel threatened by him. I didn’t feel like he was crazy or unstable. Eccentric, surely. Strange and reclusive, definitely. But…dangerously unbalanced? The kind of stalker who would leave me in dismembered packages in a refrigerator? No.  
    So…the arrangement? Was I going to go along with his wishes? Obey him? Or go home, and return to being one step away from destitution?  
    I couldn’t do that. Cal was depending on me. I loved my little brother. He was all I really had, and he needed me. He deserved the best chance at a normal life that I could give him. Cal was a smart, good-looking kid with a solid head on his shoulders. He could go places. He was studying filmmaking, and I’d seen some of his pieces; he was talented, and I could see him making it in Hollywood. But I’d have to make sure he finished college. He was already working as much as he could and still go to school. He was a determined kid, and I knew if worse came to worst, he’d find his own way…but I was his big sister, and I’d been his only real parent figure since he was eleven. Mom was helpless, and would never recover. Ravenwood was the best place for her. If I couldn’t pay the bills, she’d end up a ward of the state and would be moved to some shitty nursing home where she very likely would be abused by the staff. I couldn’t let that happen. And, finally, Dad was seven years dead.
    I’d already made my decision. When I let Harris put that blindfold on me in the vestibule outside the front doors, I’d made my choice. I wouldn’t back out now. I couldn’t. This was for my mother and brother.
    And…yes, for myself. I wanted to know more about this mysterious man who now owned me.  
    So, with a deep breath, I touched the intercom button. “Eliza? I’m ready.”



    Eliza was a short and slender Hispanic woman with thick black hair tied back in a long braid that was gray at the temples. She wore a simple uniform of black slacks, a black button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, and practical black clogs. She had kind, intelligent brown eyes that looked me over in a thorough assessment.  
    “I am Eliza,” she said in her lightly accented voice. “If you are ready now, I will escort you to the dining room.”
    “Sounds good.” I extended my hand. “I’m Kyrie.”
    “It is my pleasure to meet you, miss.” She nodded at me, inclining her upper body slightly, a vaguely formal gesture. “This way, please. Would you like a tour?”
    I nodded. “Sure.”  
    She led me out of my room and into a hallway. The floors were dark wood, polished to a gleam. I followed Eliza to the end of the hallway and into what I realized was the room I’d sat in with him . I was really irked by not having any kind of name to use, even in my own thoughts. It was a small sitting room with two deep leather chairs and a small table. On one wall was a side table that held a silver tray, a decanter of dark amber liquid, and three crystal tumblers. I’d broken one of those glasses, I realized with dismay.  
    “I’m sorry about the glass,” I said.  
    Eliza shrugged. “It is no matter. It was just a glass.”
    “Just a glass? Those look like crystal.”
    She nodded. “Yes.”
    “It wasn’t, like, a family heirloom, or anything, was it?”
    Eliza shook her head. “No, nothing like that. Please, do not worry. Such things are no matter to him. Possessions can be replaced, and he does not put high value on mere objects.” She gestured at the sitting room, the foyer, and the hallway leading back the way we’d come. “You’ve seen this area, then. Follow me, please.”
    From what I’d seen so far, Eliza was a quiet, efficient

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