Judgment by Denise HallA forbidding mountain fortress where unfortunate young women are taken and trained to become the perfect submissives for a world-wide market
Reviewers say: "Ms. Hall takes you on a dark journey, told through the eyes of a feisty young girl who is abducted, humiliated, violated, tortured, and stripped of her very essence against her will for the sadistic pleasure of a Slaver. Though the subject matter is quite controversial, I highly recommend this story. It is one that stays with you long after you put the book down."
Judgment--the ultimate disciplinary establishment, a forbidding mountain fortress where unfortunate young women are taken and trained to become the perfect submissives for a world-wide market. Abandoned to the whims of Judgment's ruthless masters, Callie McGuire descends into the depths of this prison, discovering a new capacity for sensuality as she becomes Mischief, the personal plaything of the Mountain Lord.
Dark and severe, this is a master/slave story (as opposed to a dom/sub.) Told in flashback, after, the heroine has been "recovered" after ten years with her Master, "Judgment" explores both the physical and emotional aspects of such a relationship.
Note: "Judgment" is a severe, non-consensual capture story featuring abduction and rape-fantasy, as well as serious corporal punishment of initially reluctant slaves. If such themes offend you do not buy this book.
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Judgment (Sample Chapter)
A severe, non-consensual capture story featuring serious corporal punishment
© Denise Halland Red Hot Romance Publishing, 2013
His over–sized hands were hard and callused, yet strangely gentle as they rubbed the soap over mine, lathering my arms in a coat of bright pink bubbles. Steam rose from the running tap water to fog the dirty tin mirror. It made little difference as, obscured by dents and rust, a reflection could scarcely be seen. But I studied my impassive face anyway, and he spoke to me softly, taking great pains to keep his voice even and calm, as though he were trying to coax a frightened doe to his hand.
“That’s the way. Good girl, let’s get the other hand now. Okay, we’re almost done.”
I stood still and straight beside him, my immobility leaving him lightly holding my hands, washing them in his. Through unrevealing eyes, I watched the lather change from pink to gray as it soaked the ink from my fingertips. My prints had been taken when first I was brought to the Los Angeles Police Department. To identify me, they had said. But I couldn’t understand why. I already knew who I was. My Master named me Mischief years ago.
The detective was nice. He was not a tall man, but more of a medium build. With his graying head bent over my hands and the sink, I could see he was becoming slightly bald on top. He had combed his hair over to hide the spot.
He was not paunchy, as older men generally became. He still had the lean, muscular figure of a man much younger than the lines on his weathered face suggested. And his voice was gentle and low as he spoke nonsensical words of comfort to me. Were I not already so frightened, I probably would have enjoyed the calming ministrations that were so closely akin to my Master’s own touch.
“Good.” The Detective gave a satisfied nod. “Now we rinse.”
He passed both our hands under the steady stream of water, cupping tepid pools in the palm of his hand to wash all the way up my elbows.
I was momentarily startled and quickly glanced in the mirror to see if my face retained its appropriate degree of impassivity. It had.
Good. My Master said that word a lot, too. I wondered, and not for the first time, if Daymon Tane, the Master of the Masters, had begun to look for me yet. Would he even know where to find me? Tears threatened, but I blinked them back. Struggle though I did to smooth the fear from my expression, my mouth started to tremble and quiver as so often happened when I was scolded.
Wetting a coarse, brown washcloth, the Detective rubbed it over a piece of the cheap pink soap until froths of bubbles foamed up again. He passed it over my face and neck, then chuckled ruefully. “Well, what do you know. There’s a woman under all this dirt.”
I held perfectly still, letting him move my head as he wished. I closed my eyes, feeling the comforting touch pass across my cheeks, my forehead and eyelids. If I shut out his voice, I could almost pretend it was my Master who cared for me and not this stranger – kind though he was – who had taken me under his wing.
Then came the questions.
“Who put the welts on you, honey?” the detective quietly asked me. He wiped the soap away with the freshly rinsed washcloth, startling me from my thoughts. “You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to. But –” he shrugged, feigning a nonchalance which the tightening of his mouth contradicted. “–if it were me, I wouldn’t want anyone to hurt me like that. I could help you, you know. Honey, I could fix it so nobody ever hurt you again. If you talk to me, I guarantee you’ll never have to go back to the one who did this.”
My mask of indifference broke and fell away, revealing naked terror. Though I struggled to keep silent as a Personal should, a low keening wail rose up from my throat. The welts criss–crossing my bottom pulsed and throbbed as I sank to my haunches, forcing them to stretch over bruised, discipline–damaged flanks.
Hugging my shoulders, I rocked myself. I tried to pretend my Master was there to keep me comforted with familiarity. I needed him to keep me disciplined and safe. I did not want to go with the Detective, I wanted to go home.
“Missing,” I sobbed.
Why didn’t he understand? I tried to enunciate clearly, but it was so hard to remember how English sentences pieced together. I know I got half the things I tried to say wrong, but it had been so long since I’d had any need for the language of my birth that, but for a stray phrase here and there, most of it was faded from my mind. All replaced by my Master’s words, in my Master’s tongue, now that I belonged to him.
So how to tell the detective that my Master had brought me with him when he came to this awful city for a meeting with the other masters? How could I tell him that, through my own foolishness, we had gotten separated and I was now lost?
I loved Tane! I did not want to leave him. I did not want to leave Judgment. I was tired of the city with its loud noises and strange people. I was tired of being frightened. I buried my face in my hands, remembering my home and my Master.
Oh, how I wish I were there...
* * * *
My one memory from my free life was of the gypsies. I was betrayed by Hollywood. All the movies portrayed them as brightly clothed people, who worked for Dracula, wore gold earrings, stole children and traveled in packs, dancing for money to the jingle of tambourines in front of rickety wooden caravans. In not one movie did I ever see gypsies driving taxi cabs and picking up tourists at the airport. My particular gypsy didn’t even wear an earring. If he had, I might not have climbed so readily into the back of that cab.
I don’t remember losing consciousness. My next waking remembrance was of the three days I spent in the back of that dirty van on my way to Judgment. The incline up the mountainside was steep and the road unpaved. Every bump and jostle clanked our chains and tossed us haphazardly about in that great iron cage, which was built into the backs of the gypsies’ very old vehicles. There were fifteen of us; coughing, weeping, shivering and nude. All terrified beyond belief and huddled up against the bars as we strained to catch glimpses of our destination between the fluttering window curtains.
Judgment, a great dark fortress from a long ago age, impregnable, built back into the rocky earth to hide its immense size within the mountain itself. And the portcullis, black iron teeth surrounded by arching stone walls, crowning the top of that narrow, unpaved road and barring the way to intruders. The gypsy vans, three in all, drove undeterred straight to it.
The girl next to me whispered superstitions in broken, Russian–tainted English. This was Hell’s Mountain. Mothers threatened their children with tales of this place and of the Devil, still reputed to live within. Though I did not know it then, I was to become intimately acquainted with him.
The manacles on my wrists clanked as I moved to grip the bars, pressing my face to the cold metal as we reached the portcullis. The vans paused here, idling but a moment before a groan sounded from deep within those walls. There was a squeal of metal scraping metal and then the iron teeth began to rise, allowing us entrance into that dark, gaping maw.
The Russian girl broke down, weeping, but I hardly spared her a glance. She and others like her had been crying since I first came back to awareness three days ago. The rest of us all shivered in abject silence, helplessly wondering which of us–or if all of us–would be sacrificed to the mountain Devil’s cruel intentions. All I could think was: oh please, dear God, not me! I was an American. Things like this weren’t supposed to happen to me. Another Hollywood betrayal. But one which I had been loathed to let die as easily as my first misconception. In my stubbornness, I had fought my captors at every resting stop along the way. Looking back, my efforts were pitiful, to say the least, resulting only in my obtaining a belt–striped back and much harsher treatment from the gypsies than any of my sisters in suffering.
I turned my head, shifting to the back of the cage to watch as the heavy, wrought–iron gate fell shut behind the last of the vans. The entire mountain seemed to tremble with the force of that closure. I felt the vibrations of it within me and the awful finality was more terrifying than anything I had experienced in all my twenty years.
The vans came to a stop in a vast, empty, stone–cobbled courtyard. I felt the vehicle rock as, in the separated front, the gypsy men stepped outside. After only the slightest of pauses, the back doors swung open. One at a time, my companions were taken from the cage and led around the van, out of sight. They went almost docilely–I think they had quite given up–until the only one left in that first cage was me.
While my sister captives had been escorted each to her fate by two gypsy men a piece, all four men from my van now appeared at the mouth of the cage. They stared at me in silence, studying while I cowered in the very back, my every instinct screaming for me not to make this easy for them. It was a lost battle from the beginning. Eventually, they would crawl in after me and then, as this morning, I knew I would be whipped.
As if on cue, one of the gypsies removed his belt. His dark eyes bored into mine, holding little patience for me and even less pity. He beckoned me to a spot on the cobble–stone ground before him. If I was going to cooperate, then this was the only chance I would be given to do so without pain–filled consequences.
My legs failed me. So did my courage and, after three dry–eyed days, tears of hopelessness filled my eyes. There was no escaping this. Even if by some miracle I did manage to dodge my captor’s grasping hands, how could I possibly get past the portcullis. I sank to the bottom of the cage, sobbing in rage and despair.
In the end, it took all four of them to drag me from the back of the van, kicking and screaming as only the doomed can. Nine vicious swipes of that belt struck my shoulders and back, and the courtyard sang with the echoes of each blow. But not my screams. I bit them back, refusing to give him that satisfaction.
By the time I, too, was led around the van, the fight had all but been whipped from me.
At least until I saw the racks.
All forty women from the vans hung from them, side by side, gagged and blindfolded, their wrists tied high above their heads, their legs splayed wide apart, ankles tied to metal rings hammered into the stones beneath them. Like meat hanging in a butcher’s freezer, we were a market of wares set out for buyers as not yet in attendance.
I began to struggle all over again, sheer panic winning from me the screams that I had denied the belt. I was dragged to the end of that long display line. The gag was forced past my teeth; the blindfold over my eyes. No matter how I twisted or fought to pull away, I was made to take my place among the others. My manacles were removed and abrasive ropes took their place. Impartial hands forced my ankles apart and I was hoisted up by my wrists until my toes barely touched the cold, stone ground.
Then the wait began.
If I concentrated, I could keep on my tiptoes, which lessened the painful strain on my shoulders and welted back. But when the icy mountain air swept through the courtyard, shivering us in our bonds, I couldn’t even do that much.
Not far away, the gypsies talked and laughed. The smell of sweet pipe and cigarette smoke filled the air as they passed the time. I don’t know how long I hung there, immobile, with arms aching. I kept trying to shift in my bonds, hoping to find a position that hurt a little less than the rest. By tipping my head between my shoulders and relaxing completely, I found a brief respite from the hurt. But then that position too quickly became excruciating, and I had to shift again.
The pain slowly swallowed me in its embrace, clouding my senses. Not far away, I heard a soft sniffling as another woman sobbed around her gag. Others groaned. I think, by now, that I was one. And then, a sound different from the rest....
Somewhere down the display line, I heard footsteps and a low, guttural voice mingling with a familiar gypsy one. Whatever was going to happen here, was now taking place.
My muscles spasmed. I trembled as the waves of agony rippled through my limbs, washing over and through me, all consuming and hot. The rack vibrated as a girl was taken down and the voices drifted closer.
Did I lose consciousness or did the pain just devour my awareness of all else? The girl next to me whimpered once, then suddenly I felt a gloved hand roving from my belly, to my hip and down the outside of my left leg. By now, the pain had weakened me so that I could barely move as the assessing fingers drifted back up the inside of my thigh and stopped at the slight tuft of curls found there.
“Americano,” the gypsy said.
And another voice, low and laughing, came back in English, “Really?”
I lifted my head when I heard it, mewling through my gag.
“A natural red–head,” the low voice admired. “Lovely. High cheekbones, full lips. Her face alone should bring a good price. Mm. Firm buttocks.”
The gloved hand gripped me there, jostling me in my bonds as he felt the firmness of my hind quarters. Agony exploded up through my arms and down into my legs, radiating from my joints until I thought my limbs would be pulled from their sockets. The voice dimmed as my head lolled.
“Her bonds are too tight,” someone else said.
The low voice said something in another language. When the gypsy answered, he walked around to my back.
“You’ve damaged the product,” he said mildly.
What the gypsy replied, I don’t know. But the man behind me leaned closer, the warmth of his breath caressing the shell of my ear as he murmured, “Are you going to be troublesome, Red Hair?”
I jerked my head away from him when he pressed the most unwanted of kisses to the back of my nape. He laughed, the sound of a man indulging a favored but unruly child. Then either he moved on, or I passed out.
In the next instant I fell into the cradle of someone’s arms as I was cut down from the rack. Even then there was to be no relief. Neither blindfold nor gag was removed. My throbbing wrists were unbound only to be tethered in a gentler but no less restricting bond behind me. With a supporting hand at each of my elbows, I was slowly led away on legs that shook so badly that every third step buckled my knees; it was a wonder I could walk at all.
The icy stones under my bare feet gave way to an equally chilled tile floor. I was cold all over and shivering from it, but a sudden lack of wind convinced me that I was now within the dark fortress itself. Voices sounded periodically around me, the deep rumbling of masculine tones, all speaking in a language that was guttural and hard and impossible for me to recognize. With a hand at each of my elbows, my knees occasionally failing to hold me upright, I was slowly guided down a flight of stairs into a slightly warmer room.
“Confine the rest for the night,” commanded a deep voice near me. A hand cupped my chin, lifting my blindfolded face. “This one will stay the evening with me.”
It was pure and simple horror that gripped me as I was released into the grasp of the same broad fingers that had examined me upon the rack. I panicked, fighting my gag and the ropes that bound my wrists, stepping back as if I could get away. But his gentle touch was also unyielding and he kept me, blind and fettered, easily in hand.
“Bit of fight still in that one,” another man behind me said. There was amusement in his voice, which only deepened my panic and sparked in my breast a tiny fire of outrage.
“Stay,” the low voice softly whispered, but it was a command nonetheless. Unable to do aught else, but for my trembling, I stilled my struggles. To the other, my captor answered, “I believe I can manage.”
As the second man walked away, laughing, I heard him call, “Let me know if you need help. For a turn, I’d be happy to hold her for you.”
I was to be raped. I moaned my horror through the cloth bindings.
“Relax,” my captor told me. He must have removed his gloves, for in the next instant I felt the heat of his bare palm close over my naked breast. My nipples, already peaked from fear and the chilly air, were easy targets. He teased and rolled them between thumb and forefinger, feeling the weight of my breast in his warm hand. Again, his low voice rumbled, “Lovely.”
Helpless to protest, I could do nothing but move in the direction to which he led me. I felt the minute breeze of an opening door, and the cold tile floor was replaced by the feel of plush carpeting beneath me. Oh, and the warmth. I heard the familiar pop and snap of a well–started fire before me and the soft latching of the door as it was closed somewhere behind. I lifted my head, listening hard, but his footsteps were no more than bare whispers as he came back to me. I jumped his caress, the warmth of his hand gently parted my unbrushed hair from off my back, sweeping the carrot–colored mass until it all hung over my shoulder, the feathered tips tickling my naked breast.
“What mischief did you cause to merit such treatment, I wonder.”
As I remained gagged, I know he was not concerned with receiving an answer.
Careful not to touch the welts–now beginning to burn as I gradually heated in the warmth of the room–those unseen hands explored me, caressing down my arms, lingering at my bound wrists, then continuing on to the very tips of my fingers. He circled me, his touch smoothing over my shoulders, down between my breasts to my belly. It was my exhaustion, I told myself, that made his touch seem so soothing, and that was almost frightening in and of itself. I trembled as he circled my waist, my hips, caressing my bottom, my thighs and then between.
My shivers now had absolutely nothing to do with cold. No part of me was left untouched. His hands even drifted down to stroke my feet. It wasn’t until I felt the pain there that I realized the gypsy’s bonds had cut into my ankles.
“Shh,” he said when I stiffened in reflex. “It’s just a small abrasion where the ropes were too tight.”
When he stood again, his hands wandered again, up my shivering body to my face and around to the back of my head. As the gag was removed, my teeth began to chatter. I shook all over.
“P–please,” I stammered and his hands upon me paused. What gypsy brutality had failed to do, his gentleness accomplished within mere minutes. I could not keep my mouth from quivering or the desperate sobs from choking their way out of my chest. The blindfold soaked up my tears. “Please, I want to go home.” My knees failed. I sank into a heap on the carpet at his feet, rocking myself as I wept. “I want to go home!”
“I am your home,” he said above me. “You belong to me now. You just don’t know it yet.”
There was victory in his voice and absolutely nothing I could do about it. I was nothing. An object that had been bartered and sold, and would now be used to another’s satisfaction with no regard for my own.
I bowed in my misery, pressing my forehead to his booted foot as I wept. “Please...please...”
“You have a lot to learn, Red Hair.”
My new life, which I personally believed for the next three years to be an unspeakable Hell, began in a night born of torment.