Andrew Pearce gazed through the three-story windows of his Short Hills estate where he had hidden himself away nearly 10 years ago, while dusk fell over the estate. Dark purple and rose pink blended across the gathering darkness. His heart wrenched at the beautiful lights that filled the sky.
The nightmares had woken him again last night in a cold sweat he had screamed himself awake, dragging him back to the overpowering stench of omega woman, the fetid smell of his own urine, the pain of fresh bruises covering old wounds on his arms and back and the fear crawling over his skin...
He drew in a steadying breath turning away from the too-vivid sky as it settled over the lake on his estate.
Knocking back a glass of whiskey, he let the sharp burn scour his throat, the shadows stretching across the room’s luxury furniture. The liquor glowed in his empty stomach but provided no warmth to his everlasting misery.
His phone suddenly rang, setting his heart racing.
It took several seconds for his thundering heartbeat to settle back into his chest. He lifted the cell phone to his ear, irritation dissolving the grip of anxiety.
“Andrew, how are you this evening mate?” Jonathan Down, his oldest friend and the current Chief operating officer of Pearce Enterprises, asked his voice inquiring as well as worried.
“Better before you called,” Andrew growled.
“Hey, man. Don’t be like that now my friend. Listen here, I called to give you a heads-up. I’ve hired you a Housekeeper, they start in the morning.”
“What?” Sweat broke out on his upper lip and crawled down his spine. His heart rate that moments before had calmed down soared and became a thundering cacophony in his own ears.
He couldn’t be around people. He didn’t know how to be around people anymore. And he didn’t want to be. Women, he couldn’t stand them, even more, their smell, especially the omegas, nauseated him and made him feel like his chest would burst from the erratic way his heart reverberated against his chest wall and he had asthma-like symptoms when he was in their vicinity.
The terrifying memories of shouted questions, the blazing cameras and too many people suffocating him when he’d stepped out of the private jet at JFK and into a firestorm of publicity still churned in his stomach from 10 years ago, every time he contemplated leaving the estate. The day after he was rescued by S.W.A.T from the house of a man who made millions from women who wanted to have a dominant alphas baby, even if it was through rape and drugging him.
“You need to get out of there, Andrew.” His friend’s voice softened with concern. Andrew hated the concern more than anything. “You’re turning into a perpetual hermit, but without the cave. You need to get used to people again. Or you’ll never get over what those bastards did to you.”
Andrew swore under his breath, the fury gathering pace. “I am around people. I have a gardening & cleaning crew you insisted on hiring for me, remember?” The thought still grated, that he’d had so little say in his own life when he’d returned. Because he hadn’t been able to function. Hadn’t even been able to walk or talk for the first couple of months back home.
“Who you never see or speak to,” Jonathan shot back, “because you won’t let them into the house if you’re not locked in your room.”
“I don’t want people here when I’m sleeping. I told you why,” he said harshly.
“Are you still having nightmares?” Jonathan asked. “Perhaps we should call in the therapist again?”
“No!” The word exploded from his lungs. “No more shrinks. No more behavioural psychologists or trauma specialists or anything. I don’t want anyone else in my head.” There were more than enough horrors in there already. “Nor do I want anyone invading my personal space.”
Especially not a woman, he thought bitterly. Knowing Jonathan, he would have hired a housekeeper who looked like a supermodel—because Jonathan with his typical manly sensibilities thought all Andrew really needed was to get laid.
Not going to be happening!
It had been over 9 years since anyone touched him without his consent. And he planned to keep it that way.
He shuddered, forced to relive that last evening in Texas 10 years ago…his naked, unmarked body humming with afterglow, the beautiful Omega who had lured him in like a black widow spider, lying in bed watching him with lust darkening her eyes, and then… Stabbing pain exploded in his skull and he woke up, groggy, hurting, and alone in the dark, dragged down to spend a full 3 months being drugged, raped and tortured if he resisted.
He shook off the pain, which still lingered emotionally and from the scars underneath the many tattoos, he had done after being rescued.
He’d survived. Against all odds. Returning home to find the business empire he had in Jonathan’s capable hands… He didn’t leave the estate, because he didn’t need to, he didn’t want to. Solitude was his strength now; Jonathan could handle the company on his own with minimal input from him.
“I mean it, Jonathan,” he said, putting the impotent rage that still consumed him into a caustic tone. “You send this woman here, and you and she will both regret it.”
Jonathan silently chuckled as he killed the call.