Read Tasting Darkness By Jessica Hall Prologue – Something felt off this morning. I didn’t know what, but something felt different as I glanced around the crowded room. Leering eyes watched me from where I sat alone in the mess hall. I sat on the edge of my seat where I sat at the table furthest from everybody. I always tried to sit closest to and exit but my usual spot was taken. I liked it near the door because it gave me an escape route.For the most part, I tried to go unnoticed; no such luck. I could feel all of their sleazy gazes as they watched me hungrily.
I hated this place. I hated that there were no other women here. Most of all, I hated being the subject they loved to torment. All made worse by the fact I could do nothing to stop them. Keeping to myself, I thought they would leave me alone, but that must be impossible. In a room full of men, I stuck out like a sore thumb. The surrounding chatter quieted down and made me quickly glance around before I ducked my head when I noticed them. Darius had entered the room with my other three mates. They walked to the back of the room, which I thought was a little odd; I rarely saw them here.
Usually, they don’t eat here with everyone else. My mates are everyone’s superiors? None of the rules applied to them. They made the rules, and I was just another pawn that had to follow their orders. It appeared they had something to talk about with their recruits because Darius spoke about some crap I showed no interest in knowing. Keeping my head down, I ate quickly, wanting nothing more than to get the hell out of here.
The moment I stood up to dump my rubbish in the bin my muscles spasmed, my feet faltered as I took a step away from the table, and my entire body locked up with one command. “Aleera, freeze”
My entire body stopped at the command, I couldn’t move an inch, and everyone erupted with laughter. Oh, how I tried, but I couldn’t so much set a toe out of line. What were these savage men going to subject me to this time? They never usually went this far. Usually, they tormented me, chased me, hurt me, or used their magic on me. However, this is the first time they used compulsion on me, and it felt wrong as every muscle tensed in my body.
Darius, Tobias, and Lycus watched from the head table. They were always happy to witness my suffering. Kalen, however, glanced around the room before he looked at me and dropped his head.
Something right now felt incredibly wrong. Zac got up from his seat, and my stomach instantly dropped at his cruel smirk. He sauntered over to me before he stopped in front of me. Zac’s eyes hungrily looked me over from head to toe. Zac was the worst I have come across here; he had no boundaries. He was always behind my worst degradation. He walked around me slowly and plucked the sandwich wrapper out of my hand.
“Stand up straight,” He ordered, and I gritted my teeth, my forced body doing as commanded as Zac’s cold magic caressed over me. A violent shudder ran through me in repulsion.
“Nothing to say, Aleera?” He chuckled, and the entire room laughed with him.
“Nothing I say will stop you. Did you want me to beg? Beg for you not to do whatever it is you are about to do?” I asked him.
Being here, I learned quickly not to beg. It did nothing with these monster men. They didn’t care that I was female; they didn’t care I was powerless. All they cared about was the control they had over me.
“You’re right. It wouldn’t stop me; the guys and I want you to put on a little show for us” Zac said in an amused tone. I glanced around the room to find the men all were leaning forward eagerly; one even winked at me while another licked his lips.
My eyes darted to the table where my mates sat, they had similar expressions of disdain. They would not help me, not that I expected them to, they never did. If they just told them who I was to them if their soldiers knew. I wouldn’t have to deal with this shit daily. I knew they would deny it if I spoke up. They threatened to kill me if I told anyone here. So I had kept my mouth shut, they hated me and the feeling was mutual. Yet, I could bear to see them hurt so how could they watch my humiliation with no expression at all?
Darius wanted vengeance, but surely he wouldn’t subject me to this sort of humiliation. My eyes went back to Zac, who looked me up and down. Was he going to make me dance? What did he mean by a show? I was already on display. How much worse can it get?
“You could always say no?” Zac teased before he scoffed.
“Oh, that’s right, you can’t, poor helpless Aleera, always so easily influenced, so easily overpowered,” He mocked, his demonic eyes running the length of me in a sleazy obscene way. His gaze stopped at my breasts, and I felt my stomach drop somewhere deep and cold within me. I knew it before he said it. Prayed I was mistaken, but his following words confirmed my thoughts.
“Strip, Aleera,” Zac said, his voice coming out like a purr. I blinked at him, tried to fight his compulsion with everything in me, even though I knew it was pointless. My eyes burned as tears threatened to spill, and my hands shook as I tried to resist doing what he asked.
“All of it, I want to see you completely bare” My fingers forcibly start to undo the buttons on my black blouse. My breathing became harsher, and a sob tore from my lips that sounded more like a whimper. My vision blurred as my top fell open and revealed my black bra. Zac yanked my shirt off me completely, the shirt tore off at his forcefulness. The scars that laced my skin were on display for everyone to see. The worst was the burn that went from my shoulder down to my hip.
They hollered and whistled, and some even poked fun at my burned and scar-ravaged skin. Was this high school? Were they truly this immature? Fully grown men and they were all subjecting me to this. Worst of all, my mates just watched. I noticed Kalen looked away when my eyes fell on him; he almost appeared to look guilty or was he ashamed? My fingers were still working to undo the buttons and zip on my black slacks. My eyes stung from the tears that brimmed and spilled over, dropping onto the floor as I bent over to remove my pants.
“Please stop,” I sobbed as I stood upright. How could they all be so cruel?
“All of it,” Zac commanded again.
My entire body shook at his command, my cheeks burned with the humiliation, tears ran down my cheeks and dripped off my chin, and I could hear them all talking and laughing.
My bottom lip trembled as my hands reached behind my back and fumbled with the clasp of my bra. A hiccuped sob left me as it unclipped. I couldn’t handle it, so I clenched my eyes shut so I didn’t see their faces watching me. I hoped it was stuck, but of course, it would come undone easily and expose me more.
Zac’s hand ran down my arm from my shoulder to my elbow as he pulled the strap of my bra down. My eyes flew open at his touch, his other hand moved to my hip, and I felt the bile rise in my throat. The feel of his hands on me disgusted me. I wondered how far he would take this. Looking over at my mates, I saw Kalen get up and walk out along with Lycus. Darius and Tobias, however, were enjoying my torment.
“Hurry, Aleera, take it off, take it all off,” Zac purred, as he tugged my bra strap off my other shoulder. I stared at Darius. Is this what he wanted? Was this still not humiliating enough? His eyes darkened when Zac ran his hand up my side before grabbing my breast roughly, and I felt more tears spill over as my bra fell away. The room erupted with whistles and filthy words.
Darius could stop this. Tobias could have prevented this, and I pleaded with my eyes for them to step in just this once and not subject me to this. I couldn’t stop my hands as they reached for my panties. The last article of clothing left.