The Finest Line
The Line Trilogy, Book 1
Ebook ISBN: B0090C5L0I
[ BDSM Thriller Romance, MF ]
After becoming involved in the suspicious death of a friend, Mairead, a gymnast training for the Olympics, is rescued by her chauffeur James. Her plight is only made harder by her attraction to him and his disciplined and dominant persona.
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Mairead Kavanagh woke up on a hardwood floor and tried to remember where she was. There was sunshine streaming through the partially drawn curtains of large windows. One of the several sleeping bodies, scattered throughout the room, was snoring loudly. Bottles, glasses and overflowing ashtrays littered nearly every flat surface.
She remembered arriving at the high rise apartment the day before. Like many others on the Gold Coast beach it was impressive and reeked of money. There was at least one pleasant memory of standing on the balcony, watching the sun sink below the horizon. Now there was only gloom and the smell of body odour and alcohol.
She wanted to leave but she had no idea how to get back to her own apartment, and she felt far too ill to move. A little more sleep might help shift the fog of the drugs and alcohol in her system.
She thought of her comfortable bed back home in New Zealand. What she wouldn’t give to be there now, safe in her pretty pink bedroom with her teddies keeping watch at the end of her bed. Even the bed where she was staying would have been preferable to the floor, but it was all she had right now.
Yielding to her exhaustion, she curled up on her side and closed her eyes. Sleep was just claiming her when she was disturbed by someone touching her arm. Rolling onto her back, Mairead looked into the grinning face of some vaguely familiar man.
“There you are,” He seemed very pleased to see her, “Hullo Kiwi girl.”
Mairead remembered being attracted to him. In the light of day he was still striking but the dramatic blue eyes were now bloodshot and the thin line of blond hair on his upper lip and chin were now just part of stubble.
He was older than her by several years, but there had been some form of interaction between them. She remembered him stuffing her bra with money.
She smelt his alcoholic breath as he spoke, “Time to pay the piper, baby,”
His hands wandered up her arms and down her body to the ridiculously short skirt she had worn. They slid up again bringing the skirt with them.
Mairead pushed him away. “Fuck off and leave me alone.”
“You made the deal, darling,” he whispered, “Five thousand dollars in exchange for that tight little virgin snatch.”
“I did no such thing.” Though she flinched at some familiarity in his words. “Please Mike, just leave me alone.”
His face grew stony. “It’s Mark, you little slut, but don’t worry, it doesn’t bother me what name you want to scream out while I’m fucking you.”
He pushed her back to the floor and pulled his body onto hers. When she tried to get him off she discovered how weak she felt. He pinned her arms to the floor and his face hovered over hers.
Mairead tried not to show her fear. “Would you please fuck off? I must have the money somewhere. I’ll give it back.”
“Only one payment I want from you, sweetheart.” His knee pushed down painfully on her thighs forcing her legs to open. Summoning her strength, she bucked and kicked violently only to be slammed down again.
“Easy, baby.” Mark grinned as he studied her. “You really are quite stunning aren’t you? Mairead… rhymes with parade. I like that.” He smirked and then spoke very softly into her ear. “What I won’t like, Mairead is if when I ram my cock into that sweetness between your legs, I find out that you really aren’t a virgin.”
He brought her wrists together and held them in one hand while the other went down to the button on his trousers. “I hate disappointment. I may have to keep searching until I receive satisfaction.”
“Please, please don’t do this,” There was no hiding her terror as her tears erupted. Her cries got louder as his hand moved between her legs. His fingers were digging into her, grasping her briefs. With one pull they were ripped from her.
Somebody loomed behind him. “Get the fuck away from her.”
Mark was launched from her. Mairead lay on the floor looking up at the ceiling, crying loudly. Slowly she began to curl up and slide back against the wall, hugging her knees to her chest. Through her tears she could see Mark being picked up and thrown to the floor again by someone else she recognised.
Joshua Mason was young, handsome and apparently very strong. For the last few days he had been her constant companion, introducing her to the party life of the Gold Coast. He had asked nothing of her and stayed out of her way while she flirted with every other man. Only now did she realise how much he had looked after her.
Mark started to get up, holding his hands up. “Josh, you really don’t want to do this.”
Josh slammed his fist into his face and Mark went down again. This time he stayed down.
Mairead was still sobbing when Josh knelt beside her. “Are you alright?”
She was about to nod when her stomach lurched heavily. She was just able to turn her head away as dark vomit launched from her mouth. Terrible pain seized her head and the disgusting smell took her breath away.
Josh hovered over her, “Bloody hell, Mairead, I told you not to fucking drink with that shit.”
Fresh tears ran down her face. “Am I going to die, Josh?”
“You just need some fresh air. I’m taking you outside.”
Mairead felt strong arms go under her body and lift her. She shook her head. “Not outside. Not like this.”
“I’m just taking you out on the balcony.”
There was no strength left in her. She closed her eyes and relished the feel of Josh’s strength and comfort, knowing that her tiny frame would be no challenge to him.
Bright light stung her eyelids, but the sweet fresh air filled her lungs and it seemed as if she was only breathing for the first time in hours. She felt herself lowered onto something soft. When she opened her eyes, Josh was adjusting a beach umbrella to shade her. The sight made her feel terribly ashamed.
Josh grinned as he sat beside her. “Better?”
Mairead nodded and then looked about. She was lying on a sun bed on the balcony. Through the clear glass railing she could see the sparkling blue ocean horizon and hear the cry of seagulls. The height afforded little other sight or sound.
Death didn’t seem so imminent anymore and Mairead smiled weakly at Josh, “Thank you.”
Mairead bowed her head. “Why, after the way I treated you?”
“You didn’t treat me badly. You’re not my girlfriend… remember?”
She remembered how she had told him that she was out of his league, and he should consider it an honour that she trusted him to entertain her. She hated herself so much sometimes.
Josh’s grin widened. “It was an honour, Mairead. You’re beautiful and funny… and a little wild.”
“I’m an idiot. If it wasn’t for you…” More tears erupted and Mairead felt Josh take her hand.
“You’re not an idiot. That arsehole had no right.”
“Who the hell is he?”
“Mark Lewis. His old man owns this whole building and this is just one of many places Mark camps out at.”
“He’s a friend of yours?”
Josh seemed uncomfortable. “Our paths cross from time to time. I use to work for his father who’s an even bigger arsehole.”
Mairead reluctantly asked, “So what exactly did I do to Mark?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Josh told her firmly, “Just stupid shit. I’ll give him the money back when he sobers up.”
“He said five thousand dollars.”
“It doesn’t matter,” He grew agitated. “Never should have brought you here. Too busy trying to impress you.”
Mairead studied the pleasant face in front of her. “You know, you’re kind of good-looking.”
“I’d say the same to you,” Josh grinned. “But at the moment you got really red eyes, snot running out your nose and you kind of smell.”
Mairead laughed weakly. “Joshua Mason. You really know how to flatter a girl. I could almost see you being my exclusive boyfriend.”
Josh jumped to his feet and drew his Android from his pocket. “Now, I just know when you sober up that you are going to deny having said that, so I’m going to get proof.”
Mairead yawned as she watched him tap the apps on his device. Her body was growing heavier, nausea was returning and her head was fogging up again. She struggled to keep her eyes opened. Josh knelt beside her and held the screen towards them.
“Right, say that again. I’m getting this on video.”
Mairead took the device from him and held it up to her face. “Joshua Mason. Would you do the honour of being my boyfriend?” Her stomach lurched again as dizziness flooded her brain. “Oh god, I feel sick.”
Josh jumped up. “I’ll get you some water.”
Water sounded great. Her mouth was feeling like sandpaper and perspiration was running down her face. Her heart rate had increased and she had never felt so weak. The fog in her head was getting thicker. Aware of Josh’s device in her hand, she put it down on the sun bed hoping it would not fall off. It was her last thought as she passed out.
When she opened her eyes again, the blue sky had been replaced by a ceiling that was moving above her. Her soft sun bed had become hard and she was completely horizontal. She tried to move and failed.
“Leave me alone. Let me go.” Mairead screamed and struggled against the restraints that held her. A woman leaned over her and smiled.
“Try not to move, dear. You have an IV in your arm.” The woman spoke calmly, “We’ll have you at the hospital very soon.”
Mairead whimpered. “What hospital? Where is Josh?”
The woman smiled but didn’t answer. Mairead lay back and looked to the side. She was in the hall of the apartment building. Strangers were staring at her as she went by. Police and men in fluorescent coveralls were running past her. People were shouting, their voices swirling with the density of the fog. She knew that she was about to pass out again and didn’t fight it.
During the next fleeting moment of awareness, someone was removing her clothes. Mairead shook her head. “I don’t want that. Not yet. Josh, please get these people away from me.”
He didn’t come and Mairead knew that she was naked and fingers were touching her body. When she tried to cover herself, her arms wouldn’t move. Tears rolled down the sides of her face. “It’s not supposed to be like this.” The darkness came again.
A crushing pain in her arm woke her and this time Mairead was alert enough to see a nurse taking her blood pressure.
“Where am I?”
The nurse didn’t answer until she was removing the cuff, “Well hello there. I didn’t think you were ever going to wake up.”
Mairead angrily repeated her question.
“You’re in Brisbane Hospital and you’ve been here two days now.” The nurse reached over and pushed a button on the wall behind her bed. “The doctor is going to pop in and have a look at you and I’ll be able to tell him that you’re a little grumpy, but doing very well.”
Before Mairead could speak the nurse was gone. Looking about her, she was relieved to see that she was in a private room with its own bathroom. Two leather recliners sat in each corner, a flat panel screen television was mounted on the wall in front of her and a landscape portrait hung on the wall.
Something was missing. There were no cards or gifts wishing her well. During her last stay in a hospital, after a gymnastics accident, her room had been filled with flowers, stuffed animals, cards and balloons. Their absence made her feel terribly lonely.
The door opened and the nurse had returned with a tall Indian man in shirt and tie. He smiled as he approached the bed.
“Good to see you awake Miss Kava…” He looked down at the folder in his arm. “I am terrible at pronouncing names.”
His smile was annoying. “I have never heard of anyone called Mairead. Where does that come from?”
Nothing annoyed her more than small talk. “It’s Irish. Now what the fuck am I doing in hospital?”
His smile vanished at her abruptness. “You overdosed on a cocktail of alcohol and drugs, and were severely dehydrated when they brought you in. You’re very lucky, Miss Kavanagh. A less healthy person may not have survived this. Despite your binge, your fitness levels seem to be exceptional.”
“When do I get out of here?”
“Young woman, I don’t know how much you remember of the events under which you were brought here, but outside the room are some people who have been waiting to talk to you.”
“The police,” The doctor’s bedside manner had lost its charm. “Since you are quite alert, I will inform them that you are now able to answer their questions. Good day, Miss Kavanagh.”
He strode from the room with the nurse following and Mairead felt a little remorse for her rudeness. Now she had no one on her side.
What did the police want? Were they going to charge her with doing drugs? Where was Josh? Had he been arrested?
What haunted her most was why her father had not come to her rescue. She knew he was angry at her, but that had never stopped him from being there when she needed him. Without him, she had no idea what she should do.
His fury had been evident when he had learned of her expulsion from the Australian Gymnastics team. The national newspapers had labelled her a Kiwi brat. The New Zealand media was harsher, calling her an embarrassment to the country. None of it had bothered her until her father had rung.
She had barely said, “Hello Daddy,” when she was cut off by his furious response.
“You fucking, selfish, little bitch…” were his words that had launched her into a week of non-sobriety. He probably would have said more, if she hadn’t thrown her cell phone into a swimming pool.
Profanity and insults from her peers were something Mairead had come to accept. She was beautiful, talented and gregarious, a combination that attracted jealousy and criticism. Her temper was volatile, she admitted, but it was only sparked when people acted like morons.
She was also the daughter of Sean Kavanagh, a New Zealand government minister, whose daily life was wrought with criticism from the media. It had seemed that their whole lives had been under the spotlight, and up until then, he had always been her ally, shielding her from the media, getting her out of trouble and lending a sympathetic ear.
Mairead had never had to sort out anything on her own. She wouldn’t even know where to begin. It had been hard enough, being alone in another country for the past few months, and she wished that she had never accepted the offer, of training with the Australians. She would have turned it down, if her father hadn’t been so excited about it.
It had occurred to her that he was eager for her to move on, out of the family home, and do something for her life. Mairead had no idea what she wanted to do and certainly didn’t warm to the idea of a gymnastics career.
There was only one dream she held onto, that got her through the lonely nights in her apartment, an unattainable fantasy that dissipated each morning, each time she looked at the empty space in the bed beside her.
Lying in that hospital bed, Mairead had never felt more afraid, and kept looking to the door, hoping that any moment, that Josh would walk in. Given time, she might fall in love with him and they could do something together, make some kind of life that would appeal to her. At least she wouldn’t be alone.
When the door did open, her hopes came crashing down, as the police entered. Sinking into her bed, she pulled the covers tightly around her.
She watched as two uniformed officers and a suited man approached her bed. One officer walked casually around to the other side of her bed and Mairead felt her heart accelerate. The uniforms were intimidating, and she looked to the suited man who was studying a folder in his hand.
“Mairead Kavanagh?” He still stared at the folder and then looked up at her expectantly. Mairead nodded.
“I’m Senior Detective Brown.” He introduced the other officers but Mairead didn’t want to look at them. “Miss Kavanagh, I’d like you to give us an account of the events that took place at the Alyssum Apartment Complex…”
“The venue of the party you attended.”
“I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember being there?”
“I’m not sure.”
Brown sighed. “Miss Kavanagh. Your blood results have already revealed a number of illegal substances, that you consumed at that time. Whilst another division of the police are very interested in that, I’m more interested in the events surrounding Joshua Mason.”
“Josh?” Mairead sat up a little, her lip beginning to tremble. “Where’s Josh?”
Brown stared at her and glanced at the officer on the other side of the bed. When he looked at Mairead again, she suddenly felt very cold.
“Miss Kavanagh. Joshua Mason fell to his death from the balcony you were found on.”
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