"I don't understand." Elena tried to move further away, but the room was too small. No doubt he'd planned this - within seconds, her back was pressed against the wall, the cold chains icy against her wrists. "Why do you want me?"

"Why wouldn't I?" He placed a warm hand on her ankle. "You're young...and of course, you can't get away."

"So you're just desperate?" Elena laughed bitterly, ignoring the little voice in her head that was telling her to be careful. "No one else would have you, is that it?"

"It's not a good idea to taunt me, Elena." Rich frowned, and laid his hand on her manacles. "I have the power here, after all."

"What sort of a man would do this?" she asked, fear kindling in her belly for the first time. It seemed odd that she had not been afraid before. Her mind was disconnected - nothing seemed real. This couldn't be happening, so her body pretended it was not. "I'm just a child. Leave me be..."

"Age doesn't matter to me, Elena," said Rich.

"I know." She knew all right.

Ever so slowly, Rich turned the key in the lock that held her ankles close together. "Please don't do this," she whispered. "It's not my fault that I didn't dance."

"What sort of master would I be if I didn't keep my word?"

"A kind one? A merciful one? For pity's sake..."

"You really are a child, aren't you? Kindness means nothing, Elena, you'll learn that soon enough."

"It means something to me," Elena replied, keeping her voice as steady as she could.

Rich smiled. "Your opinion doesn't count here, I'm afraid." He removed the manacle from her right ankle and slid his hand up her calf. "Are you afraid?"

"Yes," croaked Elena, not entirely honestly. Up until this moment she'd been terrified, fear pulsing in her ears and freezing every muscle. But now she felt calm flooding through her, the calm that Rich seemed to carry with him.

Rich removed her other manacle. "I hope you won't scream," he said conversationally. "It always spoils it." Something seemed to occur to him, and he looked deep into Elena's eyes. "You're not panicking," he observed. "That's unusual."

"Sorry," said Elena. She knew she should have been, but the peace was spreading through her. "Would you like me to?" By this time her captor was very close, his hands burning hot against her icy legs.

Without warning, Rich pulled away. "No," he said.

Elena felt hope flood through her body. He will leave now, she thought. I'm safe. I'm still me. I'm still pure... But it was mixed with another emotion, one she didn't quite recognise. It felt like regret - but that was impossible.

"You're a brave kid, Elena," he said, and stood up. "I like that about you. No one else talks back to me in the way that you do."

"Maybe because nobody else has anything to say," she replied, lost for anything more meaningful. "It wasn't my fault I didn't dance, you know. Somebody set this up."

The master laughed. "Of course they did. Why shouldn't they?" He knelt and re-chained her ankles. "Sleep tight, Elena."

"You mean you're going to leave me be?" She could hardly believe it.

"Sure. It's no fun when you're not afraid. But don't worry. You'll learn to fear me eventually."

And with that he was gone, the door slammed in Elena's face. She put one hand to the chains, and the other to the spot on her thigh where Rich's hand had rested. It was burning hot.

The End

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