The lover the luke titan.., p.1

The Lover: The Luke Titan Chronicles #3, page 1


The Lover: The Luke Titan Chronicles #3

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The Lover: The Luke Titan Chronicles #3

  The Lover

  The Luke Titan Chronicles

  David Beers



  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  For Christian Windsor

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12


  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  For Christian Windsor

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18


  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  For Christian Windsor

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  For Christian Windsor

  On Purpose and Other Things

  Also by David Beers

  Part I


  Chapter 1

  At least some part of Ted Hinson knew the difference between right and wrong, though how large that part was couldn’t be determined. Two things were growing in him simultaneously: fear and confidence—neither had anything to do with right or wrong, but rather rationality and delusion. He felt fear because he was too intelligent to think this could go on forever. Sooner or later, he would get caught.

  Warring with the fear was an increasing sense of confidence (Ted Hinson’s rational mind would call it delusion), because he hadn’t been caught yet.

  Ted was thirty-eight years old and his reign of terror began two years ago.

  Though no single law enforcement entity knew it, five women had gone missing during this period at a precise clip of one every four months. It was now the twenty-fourth month in his reign, and time for another to disappear.

  Ted decided on one woman every four months because of the acclimation process. It took four months to tame his lovers (or break them in, as one might a wild horse).

  Sarah had been especially difficult and Ted was still trying to understand if it was her age, or simply her personality. She was pushing the limits of his patience (not to mention love), as well as his self-imposed four month deadline. He thought, though, that last night had been a major milestone in their relationship.

  “You want to go to lunch with us?”

  Ted looked up from his desk. Georgia Shingleton was at his office door. How long had she been standing there? His face showed no surprise—but he didn’t like not knowing how long she’d been watching him.

  “Not today. Have to catch up on some edits,” he said.“Okay. Want me to bring you anything back? We’re heading to Raw Sushi.”

  “Mind bringing me a California Roll?”

  “No, not at all,” Georgia said. “See ya in a few.”

  “Thanks,” Ted said and watched her leave. The California Roll wasn’t for him, but for Sarah. He’d bring it to her as a ‘thank you’, perhaps even as a peace offering.

  Ted looked at his open office door. Had she been there long? And if so, what had she seen? Him staring mindlessly at his desk? He needed to stop concentrating so hard, especially at work. Or rather, he needed to concentrate on his work while here—leave his lovers for home.

  Ted turned to his computer screen and moved his mouse, causing the light to flare on.

  He would deal with Sarah tonight, and hopefully she would take the sushi with a bit of grace. If not, he might need do something harsh—something he never wanted for any of his lovers—but her four month acclimation period was at an end, and it was time to bring another into the stable. He didn’t have any more time for Sarah’s antics.

  The trip was already planned for this weekend. Come Monday, Sarah would need to obey. Ted took the oath of marriage very seriously, and there would be no divorce. Not for him or any of his wives. If they chose to not love him, then …

  Till death do us part.

  Sarah Yields was twenty-nine years old when her abduction occurred. Since then, she’d turned thirty, though she didn’t know it. Not for sure, anyway. In the beginning of her abduction, she had tried counting the days by counting her sleep cycles, but that was quickly lost.

  Sarah spent a long time thinking about how it happened. She had been so stupid, and if she ever got out of here, she would scream it to the high heavens. She didn’t care about victim shaming or any other terms she had been taught to despise in college.

  Sarah had been foolish, and while that wasn’t the only reason she was here, it was at least one of them. The other reason (and most important) was that ‘Ted’ was fucking insane.

  Sarah thought these things to herself, but she was learning—in perhaps the slowest and most painful way possible—that she couldn’t say them aloud. Not if she wanted to avoid pain.

  She’d been at a club—drinking entirely too much—and she had thought the man older, but intensely sexy. She quit listening to her friends’ requests to come dance, and paid no attention to their protests about going home with the man she just met at the bar. Alcohol and horny were a bad combination under normal circumstances, but when you combined those with a man named Ted, it turned in to outright horror. Sarah didn’t remember much after leaving with Ted; she figured he must have given her a pill of some sort, and when she woke, she was ‘at home’ … as Ted called it.

  She sat in darkness now. The other women here didn’t talk, though Sarah had spent many days trying to get them to. Ted’s terror held them firm, though. They were all broken, just like he wanted. Sarah couldn’t see the others in the darkness around her, though she heard them from time to time. Someone might let out a cry or a snore, depending on what they were doing. Sometimes a chain would rattle, the metal scraping across the concrete floor.

  Sarah wasn’t good with time anymore, but the women in this room seemed to share a sixth sense about when Ted returned. Their chains rattled more and Sarah found herself looking in the direction of the stairs. Light would shine down, and then a long shadow would cast from the very top to where Sarah sat. Ted’s shadow. Her husband.

  Last night had been bad. Sarah’s tongue continually went to holes in her gums. They hurt like hell, though the blood flow had finally stopped at some point during the night. Sarah knew it was crazy, but when she spit her teeth out, she had placed them neatly to her side. Three of them. She couldn’t see them, but knew they were there, and if she ever left here, she’d still have them.

  It was hard to hear much of what went on upstairs, and sometimes Sarah thought she only hallucinated the things she did hear. Sitting in the mostly silent darkness caused the mind to play tricks. Something else she had learned since meeting Ted.

  The door at the top of the stairs swung open. Sarah squinted, trying to close her eyes against the pain the light caused, but not wanting to miss anything that came next. If she were to have any chance of escape, she had to be alert. She had to see everything she possibly could.

  The shadow grew in size as Ted walked down the stairs. They never squeaked under his weight. The entire basement was basically a huge slab of concrete, which also muffled any noise his harem might make.

  “Here, love,” he said.

  Ted stood in front of her. Sarah knew better than to try and stand, plus her muscles couldn’t take it today. Last night’s beating hadn’t knocked her out, but it had been the roughest yet.

  Ted squatted and pla
ced a small styrofoam box down in front of her, opening it so that she could see inside.

  “A California Roll. I wasn’t sure what type of sushi you liked.”

  I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you and if I ever look at another sushi roll again, I’ll kill whoever brings it to me, Sarah thought. She didn’t say anything out loud, though. Her hand simply went forward and pulled the styrofoam box back to her.

  “Do you have anything to say?” Ted asked.

  “Yyank you,” Sarah forced out, her swollen mouth not allowing her to form ‘th’ sounds.

  “You’re welcome. I’m going away this weekend. Monday we’ll have a new member of our family and I hope you’ll treat her well, Sarah. I really do. I know how jealous you can be, and I know how mean that makes you, too. I hope you take some time this weekend to think about what you want out of our marriage.”

  I’m going to kill you. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to fucking kill you.

  Sarah looked at the sushi, careful not to make eye contact but still able to see much of what was around her. It was always the same, though—nothing she could use to escape.

  “Okay, then,” Ted said.

  He went through his ritual next. A disgusting thing that Sarah had learned well. He went from woman to woman, talking with each about his day (though they never said anything). He always kissed them and sometimes straight up made out, but so far hadn’t performed any hardcore sexual acts during this ritual. That came later—or at least Sarah assumed it did, though she hadn’t yet been forced to take part.

  Sarah listened to the psychopath talk to the other four women, speaking as if they were long-term lovers. He giggled, grew serious, petted them, and just kept talking. Finally, when he finished his rounds, he climbed those concrete stairs again and went to make dinner.

  Sarah was lucky, though. He had brought her dinner early.

  Chapter 2

  “Do you feel therapy is helping anymore, Christian?”

  Had he known this question was coming? He must have, because he didn’t feel any real shock at hearing it, and that felt odd.

  “No,” Christian Windsor said. He stared at the picture behind Melissa, avoiding her stare as he always did.

  “Why not?”

  “I don’t know. Maybe it’s time for another therapist, another perspective,” he said.

  “Do you really think that’s it, or are you saying that to injure me?”

  “I don’t want to hurt you, Melissa,” he said.

  “Over the next week, I’d like you to think about what you want to get out of your sessions here. I feel like you used to know, but now I’m not sure you really care. It’s like you come here more to keep the routine going than any kind of will to work on yourself.”

  “To keep the routine going,” he whispered.

  “Times up,” Melissa said.

  Christian stood and exited his therapist’s office. He walked outside and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He didn’t need to look up to know where the smoking area was—he’d been smoking for the past year and always had a cigarette after leaving a session with Melissa.

  Other people stood underneath the ‘smoking tree’ but Christian paid them no attention. He walked to the curb and looked out at the parking lot.

  Fourteen months. That’s how long it took for Melissa to finally come out and say it, if not in so many words: Christian, I can’t help you.

  Is that what you’ve been going for? Desperately wanting her to say it out loud so that you didn’t have to scream it in her face. Congratulations, Christian. You succeeded.

  This wasn’t the first person to do it. No, Melissa was the second, though she had outlasted Veronica Lopez.

  She had called it quits two months ago. Her last phone call coming in at 4:58 in the afternoon; Christian had sent her to voicemail—for what turned out to be the last time.

  Good for her, Christian thought. She finally wised up.

  Veronica had been Christian’s first girlfriend. His last as well, as far as he was concerned. His mother wasn’t happy with his decision to end the relationship, though that was probably an understatement. His mom was downright pissed and didn’t mince words about it either.

  “This is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done, Christian. You’re hurting this poor girl and you’ll never forgive yourself,” she had said.

  Christian took a drag on his cigarette.

  Now, Melissa was giving him his walking papers too—though he knew she wouldn’t term it that way, and neither would Veronica. Both would probably say he gave them their walking papers. Maybe they’d be right. It depended on how you looked at it, he supposed.

  He flicked the cigarette to the curb. There was a place to put the butts, though Christian didn’t so much as glance over at it. He felt like dirtying the world up some.

  “Luke and I are going to grab dinner. You want to come?”

  Tommy watched Christian look up from his computer. He knew what the answer would be before the kid spoke.

  Does the word kid describe him anymore? Tommy wondered. Feels like the days of his youth are long gone.

  “No. Going to finish up here and then head home,” Christian said.

  Tommy nodded but didn’t leave the room. He looked at his partner a little longer. Christian didn’t break eye contact.

  “Have you talked to Veronica at all?”

  Christian shook his head.

  “Too bad. Alice said the six of us should go to dinner sometime.” Had there ever been six, though? Tommy didn’t think so. By the time Luke met his new girlfriend, Riley, Veronica and Christian were pretty much done.

  “Rain check,” Christian said.

  “Sure thing. I’ll see ya on Monday. Give me a call if you’re bored this weekend, alright?”

  “Yup.” Christian looked back to his monitor and Tommy stared for a moment longer, then left his partner’s office. He walked down the hallway. The sun was still out which was a good thing; Tommy had spent the first twenty years of his working life rarely seeing the sun descend, because he spent his evenings in this building. He hadn’t done that for the past fourteen months, though. He tried to get out at five now, and while it felt awkward at first, both he and his fiancée were glad he did.

  Alice was busy with girlfriends tonight, so Tommy had made plans with Luke. He wasn’t sure what Riley was doing, but Luke had been free. He could have asked Christian earlier in the week, but why make him come up with an excuse so far out? Christian wasn’t coming to dinner, so no need to start lying days before.

  “Ready?” Tommy asked from Luke’s door.


  Luke turned his computer off, grabbed his jacket, and moved across the room. Tommy could still find himself taken aback by Luke; even his movements were different than anyone else Tommy knew. He crossed his office like a predator, some lithe cat walking across a prairie. Smooth and elegant, but with every muscle ready to spring if called upon.

  “Steak?” Luke asked.

  “Works for me.”

  The two of them headed downstairs and to the parking deck. Each took their own car, which Tommy was grateful for. He wanted a bit more time to think on Christian. He hadn’t spoken about the changes in their partner, not to Luke at least. He and Luke had last spoken about Christian in a hospital room, Luke’s head bandaged.

  You couldn’t see the scar that Lucy Speckle left on his skull, not unless he parted his hair to show it—which Luke wouldn’t do.

  “Thanks for coming by, Tommy. I’ll see you at work,” Luke had said. Tommy had been trying to say Luke was wrong in what he did—forcing Christian to drive Lucy Speckle to suicide.

  A chill had moved through Tommy in the hospital room, and it did now as he remembered Luke’s words. It was the coldest Luke had ever spoken, and Tommy supposed that’s why he had avoided discussing Christian’s change. He didn’t want to feel that cold again, as though an intense freezer lived where Luke’s heart should have been, radiating its
cold out to the world.

  “Jesus Christ, stop it,” Tommy said inside his otherwise empty car. He had decided he would discuss Christian today and he didn’t need to spook himself out of it. He and Luke needed to talk about their partner. Tommy no longer blamed Luke for the things he’d said to Christian. Fourteen months ago, Tommy had been shocked and scared at what happened.

  Now, though, he realized what Luke had said was necessary. If not, Lucy Speckle would have killed all of them inside that damn storage unit. Luke had saved five lives, including Tommy’s.

  The cost had been Lucy Speckle’s life and Christian’s personality, though.

  Tommy parked his car at the restaurant and walked over to Luke, waiting at his Tesla. He’d bought a new one six months ago.

  “Could still smell Speckle’s stench inside the other one,” he had said. “Plus, the new model is better.”

  Another ninety thousand on a car. Must be nice.

  The two walked inside the restaurant and ordered. Luke asked for a glass of wine and Tommy a beer.

  “You want to talk about Christian, don’t you?” Luke asked after the waiter left.

  “Yup,” he said and took a swig of his beer.

  “It is concerning.”

  “So you’ve noticed?”

  “How could I not? He seems intent on pushing everyone and everything out of his life. Everything besides work that is, though even you and I are being relegated to necessary evils. He needs us for his work, but wants nothing else to do with us.”

  Tommy nodded, glancing across the full restaurant. “That pretty much sums it up.”

  “You were right in the hospital. What I said to him, and consequently what it caused him to do, definitely had serious impacts.”

  “So what do we do?”

  “I’ve been thinking about it.”

  Tommy looked over to his partner. “Well, want to tell me what you came up with?”

  “I called his therapist earlier this week. Without breaking patient confidentiality, she said she thinks the same. She’s asked him to consider what he wants out of therapy, because it’s going nowhere right now.”

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