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Undercover secrets, p.20

Undercover Secrets, page 20

 

Undercover Secrets
 


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  Behind her, Peter was creating more unbearable friction. His slow strokes quickly gave way to a frantic pace which was making Anna’s eyes roll. To add to the torment, Simon and his friend had decided to join in. Still keeping their hands tightly wrapped around her thighs, they had dipped their heads. Each had an engorged nipple in their mouth. One pulled on an areola with his teeth; the other sucked as if he was trying to prise the sweat from her pores. Pleasure and pain, ecstasy and despair formed an unending loop around her body, until it was impossible to distinguish one from the other.

  Full to bursting point, with every sense being mercilessly attacked, Anna felt her eyes welling up. She didn’t need to be drugged, she thought, to experience the ultimate sensory overload. She looked through her tears at the depraved scenes still going on in front of her, and she could feel everything she saw: the crack of a whip singeing into soft flesh; the tortured delight of a woman pinned down and used; the humiliation of the man begging for mercy from his mistress. Anna could feel everything they felt — the pain, the shame, the twisted longing. She shared it all. She was at one with them, her mind and body joined to theirs in unholy communion. She wasn’t Anna any more. Her soul had been drained and refilled with something sticky and tainted.

  Her anguished cries filled the quiet room as she came. This orgasm wasn’t like anything she’d known before. It had no source, no beginning or end, but pulsated from a million different places. Somewhere deep inside her bowels, her body screamed.

  Anna’s shoulders were aching painfully. But then, so was every other part of her body. She’d kicked off the fiveinch heels ages ago, but still the balls of her feet were throbbing persistently. Getting rid of her shoes might have alleviated the stress on her feet, but it had increased the strain on the rest of her muscles. Peter and Simon had fastened the pulleys before they’d left, and they’d given Anna no room to manoeuvre. Stepping down from her stilettos had meant her back being stretched as if she were on a rack, with her shoulders nearly wrenching out of their sockets. She was strung up like an animal waiting for slaughter, and with about as much concern for her health.

  Now this really was torture, she thought. Too much pleasure might be hard to cope with, but it was a hell of a lot easier than too much pain. Peter had smirked sadistically as he’d turned at the door. ‘I’m going to leave you alone for a while,’ he’d sneered. ‘I want to be sure you’re keeping out of mischief while I go and talk to my wife. We need to discuss what’s to be done with you, now you’ve discovered our little secret. I’m sure you’ve a lot to think about, too.’ He seemed to find himself very amusing, leaving his laughter trailing behind him like a puff of smoke.

  Anna hadn’t laughed then, and she was close to crying now. It must be half an hour, she estimated, since the sex shows had finally finished and the audience had trooped out. Five minutes in suspension would have been more than enough; thirty was agony.

  So she nearly wept with happiness when Frank appeared. ‘Thank God you’re here,’ she said, as he cautiously poked his head through the door. ‘You’ve got to get me out of this thing.’ He took a step inside, and anxiously scanned the rows of empty seats. ‘There’s no one else here,’ Anna said. ‘Please, Frank, it’s hurting…’

  He unfastened the pulley nearest to him, then strode across the room to the other one. Summoning the little strength she had left, Anna pulled on the ropes. Her hands were shaking as Frank uncuffed her. Free at last, she rolled her neck and shoulders, sighing heavily with relief.

  ‘Oh, thank you,’ she breathed. ‘I don’t know how much longer I could have stayed like that.’ She took a step towards him, but her legs gave way. He caught her in his arms, effortlessly picking her up and cradling her deflated body against his wide chest.

  ‘Where are your clothes?’ he asked.

  Weakly, Anna waved towards the door he’d come in through. Frank carried her into the small anteroom and gently put her down on the floor. Leaning back against the wall, Anna felt her body gradually resuming its normal shape. Frank knelt at her side, holding her wrists and tenderly rubbing away the indentations the cuffs had left in her skin.

  ‘I told you they’d punish you,’ he said sadly. ‘I did try to warn you.’

  Anna watched him, his azure-blue eyes full of earnest naïveté. Frank had obviously not been initiated into the particular delights of this part of the Institute. His innocence was almost childlike — how could she explain? ‘You may not understand this, Frank, but —’

  ‘You’re the one who doesn’t understand.’ His hands flew to her face. Cupping her jaw in his long fingers, he held her still as if this was the only way to make her listen. ‘They’ll hurt you, Anna. They’ll imprison you and torture you.’

  She smiled sweetly, trying to calm his melodramatic concern. ‘No one’s going to hurt me, I promise you.’

  Exasperated, his hands dropped to her shoulders and he very gently shook her. ‘Anna, you’ve got to listen to me. They are going to hurt you. I just heard them talking about it.’

  ‘Who?’

  ‘My mother and father.’

  Anna began to absorb the worry in his voice. He did seem very upset. ‘What were they saying?’

  ‘That they have to keep you here, at any cost.’

  Anna sat up a little straighter. ‘You heard them say that?’

  Frank nodded. ‘I was going to see my father. His door was open. I heard your name, so I stood outside and listened. They said you were ideal research material. They…’ He hesitated, panic flickering across his face. ‘Anna, they said that once they’d got what they wanted from you they were going to lock you in one of those cells, and keep you there until you begged for mercy.’

  Anna was puzzled. She couldn’t help thinking maybe Frank had got the wrong end of the stick again. ‘And what is it they want from me?’

  ‘They didn’t say. But you’re in danger, Anna. You’ve got to get out of here, now.’

  Anna still wasn’t convinced. Frank didn’t realise that the Institute’s staff went willingly into those cells. The mysterious thing that his parents wanted from Anna was most likely something sexual. She stroked his forehead, easing away the creases in his perfect skin. ‘Don’t worry. I’m sure I’m not in any danger.’

  ‘But you are.’ Standing up, he paced up and down the short room. ‘I’ve seen them do it to other women. They string them up in those cells and leave them there, just like they left you this afternoon. The women…’ He pressed his hands over his ears. ‘They scream to be let out. The noise is awful…’ Alone with his memory, he stood for a moment with his eyes glazed and his fingers clamped to his head. Waking up, he dived back to the floor and took Anna’s hands in his. ‘It’s the truth, Anna. It’s happened to every woman I ever liked. I have feelings for you, in here.’ He lifted her hand up to his chest and slid it beneath the opening of his lab coat. Anna could feel his heartbeat, strong and slow. ‘I don’t want the same thing to happen to you. You’ve got to leave, before it’s too late. How can I make you believe me? How can I prove that you’re in danger if you stay here?’

  Anna looked up at him. He was an amazing man: so beautiful, so sincere, and so completely different from all the others in the Institute. There she was, slumped against the wall in only a topless basque and stockings. But Frank, totally absorbed in his concern for her safety, had barely given her nakedness a glance. Perhaps he deserved to be taken a little more seriously.

  ‘There is a way you could prove it,’ she said.

  Frank stood guard outside while Anna crept into the deserted monitoring room. She knew that all the security footage was kept on tape, and that it would be a simple matter to rewind the appropriate video. Selecting the machine marked with the relevant screen number, she watched as the images flickered backward on the monitor. Finding the section with Peter and Joan together, she pressed play.

  Everything Frank had said was right. Her blood turned to ice as she listened to Peter and Joan discussing how they would keep her lo
cked away — once they had made their ‘extraction’. A vague theory began to swirl around Anna’s mind like fog. She couldn’t see the answer clearly, but she suspected that the Institute’s research and its staff’s sexual tendencies were inextricably linked. It was obvious from the way the Galloways were talking that she had been recruited for a reason. They were planning to use her — or a part of her — for some sort of experiment. And they were scheduling it for tomorrow.

  Anna put her hand to her mouth as she thought. Her fingers were quivering uncontrollably. She was so close to uncovering the story it would be devastating to leave now. And yet it was clear that she was in danger. And Mike had made her promise to run rather than put herself at risk for the sake of the programme.

  She screwed up her eyes. Her head was hurting. A battle was raging in her brain. Go, her common sense was urging. Get out now, while you still can. But her professional zeal was making a very persuasive argument too, seducing her with the promise of acclaim and promotion. A gold award for best current affairs programme was winking temptingly behind her eyes.

  And there was something else, something she hardly dared admit to herself; another reason she wanted to stay. She thought of Peter, Joan and Simon, and her stomach lurched. She thought of being tied up, pinned down, shamed and humiliated in front of a slavering audience, and she swallowed hard. It was ridiculous, and incredible, but her sexual hunger had been aroused by the taste of something she’d never tried before. Now, she wanted more.

  But what she wanted didn’t matter. Exploring perversions that had been hidden for years may be thrilling, she thought, but staying alive is more important. Opening her eyes, she took one last look around her as her mind cleared. Who knows what Galloway had planned for her? She didn’t intend to find out.

  Once her mind was made up, Anna was desperate to go. But she forced herself to wait until after dark before sneaking outside. She went for one last jog around the fence, checking to see if anyone else was around. Pausing by the front gate as if she were out of breath, she waved her security bracelet across the sensor. The gate clicked open, and Anna pushed it further in preparation for her escape. She didn’t want any delays once she got inside the car.

  The engine hadn’t been started for ages, but Mike’s Golf fired first time. Knowing the cameras would pick her up, she thought there was no point in keeping her headlights off or in making a slow crawl towards the exit. She had slammed into fourth gear by the time she sped through the gate.

  Her hands gripped the steering wheel tightly as she followed the driveway out on to the country lane beyond it. It was pitch black outside, and she should have kept her eyes on the road, but she couldn’t help glancing in the rear-view mirror every other second. Sure that someone would be sent to chase her, she peered into the darkness she was leaving behind, searching for headlights. None appeared.

  Five minutes later, she still hadn’t seen another car, either behind or in front of hers. She wouldn’t let herself believe that she was home and dry, and yet it seemed that way. She was driving quickly, but a fast car could have caught up with her by now. Perhaps, like before, there was no one manning the monitoring room. In which case, it could be hours until they discovered she was missing. She’d be well on her way to London by then.

  She slowed down. Keeping one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road, she reached across to flip open the glove compartment. She pulled out the keypad of her carphone and dialled Mike’s number. As his answerphone message came through the speakers, she glanced at the clock. Nine — Mike rarely left the office before then. She’d probably only just missed him. She tried his home number, but he wasn’t there either. And no luck with his mobile, which diverted her to an answering service. He was probably on the tube home and unable to get a signal.

  ‘Mike, it’s Anna. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I’ve a lot to tell you. I’ll call you again later.’

  She picked up speed again, swooping around bends and drifting over to the middle of the road on tight corners. There were no lights on the road, but there weren’t any cars either, and she made good progress. Another couple of miles and she’d be on the dual carriageway, heading towards the M6. They’d never catch her now.

  Adrenalin rushed through her veins as she realised she’d outwitted them. OK, she hadn’t uncovered the truth behind the Institute’s façade; but she’d thwarted their plans to experiment on her, and she knew enough to send in the police. She wondered whether Galloway would look so smug when he was languishing in prison.

  Anna recognised the little church as she raced past it. It was the last landmark before the main road. She gave the rear-view mirror one final glance.

  She froze as she looked back at the road. There was a man stumbling out of the shadows towards her. Reality went into slow motion as she waited for the impact.

  Anna took her foot off the accelerator and started to press the brake. She didn’t see his face. Her headlights lit his knees as he ran straight for the car. In a split second, her mind weighed up the options: crash into him, slam on the brakes, swerve to the right, swerve to the left.

  Not enough time to brake, she thought. Stone wall to the right. Think there’s a field on the left. Why is he running straight towards me?

  She wrenched the steering wheel hard to the left, squeezing the brake. There was a deep ditch between the road and the field. As the ground gave way and the car tipped violently, Anna thought she was going to die.

  Chapter Ten

  She was in heaven. A pure white light was beaming on to her face, bathing her skin in its cleansing glow. Her body was cushioned on a cloud, and covered in finest gossamer. In the distance, angels sang a chorus of welcome. Her own angel stroked her hair and whispered words of love and peace.

  Anna opened her eyes. She had to close them again; the light was too bright. Gradually, she tried again, squinting to relieve the pain as it flashed behind her eyeballs. How strange, she thought, that there was pain in heaven.

  ‘Is it too bright for you? Here, I’ll close the curtains a bit.’

  The light diffused, turning from white to a pale yellow. Anna watched the dark figure approaching.

  He sat down on the chair by the side of the bed. ‘How are you feeling? Better now you’ve had a good night’s rest?’

  Anna turned her head to look at him, but her neck was gripped with a sharp spasm and she could only move an inch. She sucked in her breath at the shock. ‘What happened?’

  ‘Don’t you remember? You were in a nasty accident.’ With gentle fingers, he stroked her hair. ‘I found you and brought you here. I called the doctor.’

  Anna tried to remember, but her brain felt too heavy to think. ‘Dr Galloway?’ she mumbled.

  The man smiled. ‘You’re still confused, aren’t you? The doctor who came to see you gave you a sedative to help you sleep. That’s why you feel a bit woozy.’ He leant forward, supporting Anna’s shoulders as she tried to sit up. ‘The doctor said you were very lucky. Only cuts and bruises and mild whiplash. You’ll be fine in a couple of days.’

  Anna didn’t feel fine. Her mind was full of syrup, which was slowing down her thoughts and making her slur her words. ‘A couple of days? I can’t… I have to get back.’

  The man chuckled. ‘You won’t be going anywhere for a while, Anna. Your car’s a bit of a mess, I’m afraid.’

  Turning her whole upper body so she didn’t have to move her neck, she looked at him. There was something wrong with what he’d just said. She waited patiently for her befuddled brain to catch up with itself. ‘How did you know my name?’

  ‘It was on your bracelet.’

  Anna held her wrist up to her face so she could see it. There was a bruise on the back of her hand. Her memory stirred. ‘What happened to that man? I was swerving to avoid him.’

  ‘There was a man? You can’t have hit him, Anna. You were the only one there when I found you in the ditch.’ He stood up. Plumping her pillows, he eased Anna back against their softness. ‘Will you be a
ll right for a minute? I have to go and check on the choir practice.’

  Anna nodded, forgetting her neck was immovable. ‘What’s your name?’

  ‘I’m Father Lawrence.’ He smiled benignly, and placed a tray across her lap. ‘I’ve made you some breakfast. You’ll feel better when you’ve eaten something.’

  ‘Thank you,’ she said, touched by his kindness. He glided out of the room, and she looked down at the orange juice, grapefruit and toast. Whatever the doctor had given her had left her with more than a thick head. She clasped her hand to her mouth as nausea bubbled up from her stomach.

  For the rest of the day, she did little more than sit in bed and wallow in the bath. The sedative took its time wearing off, as did the whiplash, although a long soak in hot water helped. The vicar brought her meals and chatted for a while, but he was busy with church business and for most of the time Anna was alone. She was glad of the solitude, because she needed time to think.

  She had no car and no money. Her credit card was hidden in the Golf, but according to Father Lawrence that had been towed away. The nearest village was only five miles away, but what good was that without any cash? Besides, that village was the one nearest the Institute. The staff rarely ventured out, but there was always a slight chance of bumping into one of them there, and Anna wasn’t prepared to take any chances after the shock of her accident. The most sensible thing to do, she concluded, was to phone Mike from the vicarage and tell him what had happened. He could come and pick her up, or send his friend who lived not far away.

 
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