While Courting Our Demons Ch. 17.3

R

We didn't sleep with her. The next day was Friday, and by my rule, it was a day for her to initiate any and all contact she had with us. As of midnight, I turned off my peep camera too. I was gonna hold to this, no matter what. No. Fucking. Matter. What.

When M got home, and I had to inform him she hadn't emerged, he got understandably worried, and hurt. When C got home and heard she STILL hadn't emerged all day, he got hurt and mad.

"We don't know," I answered flatly. I was trying not to break down too. This was my rule and her right- I had to stick it out, no matter how much it hurt. And it fucking did. It felt like rejection, after everything we'd been through with her. Still, I understood it. The night before, I could tell C had broken her again. Maybe this was just what she needed to be able to recover this time. From the sound of things, C hadn't exactly been easy on her before dinner last night. I got the play-by-play account of him strapping her down and taking her, and me and M both saw what she was like after. He definitely wrecked her. It had fucked her up, and something of that woman I loved had retreated for the rest of the evening. I know C sensed it too, at the time.

On repeat I heard them all day long:

My heart thumped in my chest, and I put the remote down on the bed, wrapping myself with my arms. I was desperate to see some familiar faces again. The commercials started, and I scrambled up to use the bathroom real quick before I settled back in to watch. It was also late, and the house was quiet. I knew if I didn't have the door open in the morning, C might break it down, so I walked over and carefully unlocked it, trying not to make too much noise lest they be skulking around and take it as an open invitation. I also found a Reese's bar and gathered my comforter around me before I returned to my giant, empty bed. I tried not to let the chilly sheets and the weight of my solitude get to me as I watched the commercials cycle through, impatient.

"We just want our sister back," my brother told the reporter in front of him in a rush. "We know she's out there somewhere. Janey, if you can see this, we're here. We're waiting for you."

"So you think your sister was taken, abducted by someone?" He asked them, before putting the black spongy mouthpiece back toward them.

"We know you're out there fighting, Janey!" my brother jumped in emphatically. "Whoever messed with my sister will regret it, I promise you."

"Do you have a statement to Jane, or to her possible abductors?" the reporter was asking him somewhat off to the side as a mike was offered up. Andy, the man I'd chosen and lost, took it, looking grim. Seeing him was a punch in the stomach. He looked haggard and worn out, like he hadn't slept.

The newscaster returned.

"Thank you for gathering here today for this statement regarding the missing persons case that rocked this community two weeks ago. We are still pursuing leads currently and have a twenty-four-hour tip line open if you have any information regarding Jane Callahan. Our initial investigation remains standing, with crucial pieces of evidence indicating foul play in the disappearance of Ms. Callahan. We have good cause to believe she was taken, but at this time, no suspects. Several of her closest acquaintances and family members have already been questioned and their involvement ruled out. The last trace of her whereabouts marks her cell phone leaving the state before the signal was lost, and there have been no hits on either her cell phone or credit cards since her disappearance. We will now take questions." Reporters' hands shot into the air and there was a mad scrabble for position in the crowd below the officer's podium. I was surprised to see so many people there for tidbits about my abduction. How funny, as I wished I could tell them exactly what went down and they had no idea I was watching. The officer pointed at someone. The guy gave his name and publication before asking the question.

"We began the search at her last confirmed known location and deployed our K9 units to track her. As she walked home, we believe someone picked her up in a vehicle. Her trail ended abruptly and could not be found again. At this time, we are cooperating with departments across state lines in the investigation, and they have found no trace, even with the cadaver dogs. We believe Ms. Callahan is still alive."

"What about reports that her fiancé had been questioned in connection with her disappearance?" was the next question.

So it went.

"All known feeds have been checked, showing Ms. Callahan's journey along her usual route until she turned onto a back road, and into a blind spot. Where she would normally have returned to a main road with more surveillance, before reaching her neighborhood, Ms. Callahan never reappeared on the route. We assume she was taken in the short interim between areas with security cameras, suggesting her abductors knew her routine."

"Yes. However, Ms. Callahan never reported any harassment, threats, stalking, or unwanted attention of any kind. No one we've interviewed knows anything about a potential stalker, though we did receive information that she has been sexually propositioned and harassed at her place of work- by customers. We were given to believe most of the female staff at her place of employment had received similar attention as well, but none of this was deemed serious enough to warrant a police report."

"Does the department think it feasible that Miss Callahan's stalker or stalkers may have targeted her at her place of employment?"

"Ms. Callahan's management team has already given over all their video for the past year. We have been combing through the footage, but it is long and tedious work. We are hoping to find something, but so far nothing of note."

The last person they showed me was a beautiful young woman, blonde and furious, and my heart broke. I couldn't hold my tears back anymore when I saw her, so angry she was riled beyond her usual composure. It took a lot to get her so worked up she'd actually curse.

"That was my thought process," I confirmed, keeping my tone light. "How did I make you feel?"

"When?" I asked, not pressing forward to touch her, lest it spook her.

"That explains so much," I observed, reexamining the entire evening and the whole day between now and then. She couldn't shut it down last night when I'd gone too far for her at that time, and that's why she shut down today. I suddenly felt like complete shit. I hadn't checked in with her at all, assuming she'd be able to take what I gave because she always had before, but things were different this time. And then I thought about it. J was sullen and vulnerable, it had been three weeks, and she was wearing clothes to bed... My brain ticked off the signs.

"This morning. If you'd have come in me last night..." she trailed off, and I almost started hyperventilating.

Fuck. I knew this shouldn't feel any different, but it did. Our situation was so batshit insane, and I knew none of it was really consensual, but this was a goddamn revelation. I'd had power I wasn't even aware of at the time, and I'd doubly raped her by botching her intention to safeword. In her extreme emotional vulnerability, it must have been devastating, and made her feel completely powerless. Which ironically, I'd intended to make her feel, just in a completely different way. It was all so twisted up, my head hurt trying to process the whole thing.

J looked at me appraisingly, her sad, root beer-colored eyes firm as she stared.

"I didn't, but that's still unacceptable to me, J," I answered. "From now on, you'll have a non-verbal signal too. I didn't even think about it, and I should have done better." J finally breathed out a long, shuddering rush of air, and came to lie down with me, cuddling up at my armpit and chest, and I put my arm around her.

Suddenly I was fucking terrified of the day I'd break her and she'd never get back up, my beautiful Jane. Before now, I'd hadn't ever entertained that as a real possibility. Maybe because I was shifting my own ego onto J, thinking her as invincible as I thought I was? Finding out how much damage I'd really done to her last night was all it took to shatter both illusions. I was not always in control, not always right in my instincts and assumptions, and failed us both.

"You all look really sexy too," she uttered breathily. "M, I love the way you make classy casual and how the blue brings out your eyes," and she made me smile so wide. She got it. I got a kiss. She turned. "R, I really like how tight your outfit is. I like your body and I like seeing you show it off." My skinny buddy went goofy, blushing and kissing her throat. "And C... you just look rugged and scrumptious and like you need an axe over your shoulder." C gave a wry tilt of his lips. He stroked down J's breast.

"I like melee weaponry, what can I say? There's something about a sword, or really, anything with a blade- when you had to clash metal in battle hand-to-hand, there was honor in it. Plus, I'm stuck in so many historical eras where swords were the weapon of choice, I can't help it. You're just too perfect for it." She squeezed his biceps as he reached for her.

"So hot," she seethed, and R laughed his ass off.

"As much as I enjoy flirting with our girl, why don't we get going? We've got an appointment to keep," I said, checking my cell.

J spent that evening quiet, dreamy. She ate whatever we got on the pizza, she agreed to whatever we wanted to watch or do. She let us all satisfy ourselves in her body how we wanted, but it was... weird. Off. J wasn't home that night. It just looked like our girl, and she was all docile and meek.

We just didn't expect... a locked door, and her total silence. C had work, and he told us later her door was locked even before he left. M also found the door shut when he got up for breakfast, and he had a meeting with his photographer in the early afternoon. It was still locked before he went. I got up a little after he'd left for that, and I too found J's door completely closed to me, though I knew she was awake because there was music playing behind her door. It wasn't excessively loud, but loud enough. I didn't recognize it, so I just shrugged and moved on. I wandered by her room every so often during the day and never heard a different song playing, and never once heard her leave her room. Not even for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

"Has she even eaten?" he demanded, obviously frustrated. His face was red and his fists were clenched. M was so dejected it hurt to look at him.

As the day went by, if I didn't hear the sounds of Hellsing coming through the door, I heard this one song, over and over and over. I listened real careful and picked out just enough of the words to search the lyrics, because something in the refrain was haunting me.

"And coming up after the break, our top story- the vanishing of Jane Callahan, last seen three weeks ago as she left work and never made it home. Latest updates, statements from the police, and some heartfelt tribute to the much-beloved missing woman when we return. Stay tuned."

When the news program returned, instead of the newscaster, I was greeted with the angry, horribly sad expressions of my siblings on the screen.

"We miss you," my sister added, bravely trying not to choke up on camera. "Don't worry, we don't think you just left. We know you wouldn't leave," she said, heartfelt. The reporter pulled the mike he was holding back to himself.

"One hundred percent," my sister nodded. "She would never have just left. She's too close to people, too loyal."

The scene cut, and my fiancé was on the TV, standing in the doorway of our house. I could see the dog in the background.

"Yes," he said, trying to keep his tone firm. "Jane is the light of my life. We were planning our future together, and I want her back." He looked so hurt, staring into the camera, and I started to weep all over again. God, he was in that much agony simply not knowing where I was; what was he going to feel when I got back and had to tell him the truth? "End this nightmare and bring her back to her friends and family. It's the only right thing to do. Do it, or you will regret it," he said with a shake of his head. My pulse quickened. They all were counting on me. They all knew what I was capable of, and it made me feel better. I couldn't just drown in my misery. I had to escape.

"Dozens of messages and statements have been recorded by the missing woman's coworkers, closest friends, and family," the blonde anchor stated, her expression serious. "We will have a few more to share at the end of the segment. Three weeks have passed, and the frantic search for Jane Callahan has stalled. The police are baffled, but so far the search has not been called off. Earlier this week, the following press conference was held, giving the nation an idea why there is yet plenty of hope." The scene switched again, now showing me a podium decorated with the insignia of the police department local to my home, several microphones in stands on top, a blue curtain behind it, and some flags flanking the stage. An older man, dressed in formal blue with a number of medals and important-looking details on his uniform, walked up with his hat under his arm and took his place. He then spoke.

"What leads have you followed in investigating Miss Callahan's disappearance?"

Another rumbling of voices rose up as the crowd processed and then went back to leaping for more.

"He has been questioned and was confirmed to be at work at the time. No evidence connecting him to the apparent abduction has arisen, and at this time, he is not a suspect. Her coworkers and management are also not under suspicion. It appears that outside forces were at work in this situation."

"What about security footage along the route Jane Callahan took in walking home?"

"So you're saying she may have been stalked prior to her disappearance?"

I froze. But they had discovered me at the bookstore. That meant that my managers probably had given the cops access to the security cameras. Holy shit, depending on how long back they combed, they might actually find something.

The man at the podium nodded. My tongue grew thick; my pulse raced.

I watched the whole report in tense concentration. The anchor came back after the news conference to talk about the impact my vanishing had made on the community and delivered more messages from my coworkers and friends.

"That was your way of saying how much you needed me," she whispered. "And I told you I needed to be abused to feel loved."

"Violated," she replied succinctly. "Truly... violated, Cal. You didn't know, but I... tried to safeword last night." I stiffened, sitting up abruptly, looking at her.

"Right before you gagged me," she said, dropping her eyes. "I didn't know you were going to, obviously, and you beat me to the punch. That's why I flipped you off."

"J, are you... getting your period, by any chance?" Giving me a sharp look, she nodded.

Last night, I'd raped her for real, and had almost broken the pact, without even thinking. I had to close my eyes and lie back down with my hand on my forehead.

"I would have stopped," I told her vehemently, wanting her to know that. "If you'd beaten me to it, or I had checked in with you and you called it, I would have stopped."

"When you didn't cum in me, I thought that," she finally said. "You all adhered to R's rule today too, and didn't come after me when I shut you out. I believe you would have respected my safeword. You... you didn't know."

"Thank you, Calvin," she replied, loosening up and putting her arm over my waist. As she closed her eyes and chose to lie with me, it meant the world. Once again she'd been broken and rebuilt. As she fell asleep beside me, clearly worn out from the day, I wondered how many more times I'd be to able say that.

Sleep took a long time to filter down to me.

"What is it with you and seeing me wield bladed weapons?" J laughed out loud.

"And what if I were to cut that dress off with a dagger, huh?" C growled sarcastically, but J shuddered in what was clearly arousal.

"Oh just get with it, C," he chuckled. "You're a walking warrior fetish. And you're rocking the lumbersexual look right now. Why not just enjoy the fact she thinks you're sexy?" C rolled his eyes, but there was at least a small smile on his lips.