Beaten. Kidnapped. Bounced around on the floor of a van for an hour. The throbbing pain in my ribs stabbed at me every time we hit a pothole. Eve and Kelly lay next to me, not speaking.
Finally, we pulled to a stop. I looked around, straining to see beyond the black hood covering my eyes. The doors slid open and I felt strong hands grab me and jerk me upright. My side screamed in pain as they pulled me out of the van and I staggered, trying to catch my balance.
Beside me, Eve snarled a curse. "You shits. Take you hands off me!"
I heard the smack of a slap and one of the men said, "Shut up, bitch."
Junior's whiney voice snapped out. "Bring them."
We stumbling along and I heard doors opening, then closing behind us. We stopped and someone snatched my hood off. I looked at Eve. A small trickle of blood ran down the corner of her mouth. Kelly looked terrified.
Junior stood in front of us and held his arms out expansively. "Welcome to my humble home, or should I say, my little dungeon."
The place reeked of stale sex and old urine. Smaller than the dungeon at the Vonderburg chateau, even smaller than the one at Max's place, it was simply a basement, but nevertheless contained its share of cages and benches. Whips and chains decorated the walls. I looked to one side and spotted a gynecologist's exam table. Beside it on a cart, lay rows of surgical instruments. A single narrow window, painted over with white paint stood high on one wall.
"Take their cuffs off. They're not going anywhere."
One of the guards unlocked our cuffs and I immediately pressed my left arm to my side trying to ease the pain.
Eve rubbed her wrists as she glared a Junior. "Max and Sterling will come for us."
"No, dear Auntie. Sterling will listen to Max and Maxie boy won't try anything stupid. I'm in control now and I'm finally going to get the respect I deserve, the respect you never gave me."
Junior opened the door to one of the larger cages and ordered. "Strip, bitches."
We glanced at each other and started removing our clothes. Kelly hurried and finished first.
She glanced at Eve, then knelt and crawled inside.
Eve dropped her simple sundress to her ankles and stepped out of it, then helped me finish unbutton my blouse and slacks.
I leaned on her shoulder as I wiggled my legs free and kicked the slacks aside.
Junior motioned toward the cage. "Hurry up!"
We knelt down and crawled inside.
Junior padlocked the door.
Eve looked up at him. "You have to earn respect, Junior. You've never learned that."
He kicked the bars of the cage. "Bullshit! None of you ever thought I could do as well as Max. Max could do this and Max could do that, and Max was everyone's golden boy, but I've beaten him." He slapped himself in the chest. "Me! The ugly cousin nobody liked! Me! I got the Russian oil contract, not him. Now I'll have the respect I deserve." He kicked the bars on the cage. "And I'll get the respect you never gave my mother and the money you owed her!" He practically spat this last at Eve.
Eve shook her head sadly. "My sister made her decision to marry your worthless father. She still got her part of the inheritance when our father died."
"Bullshit! A measly ten million. And how much did you get, twenty?"
"I got ten million, too."
Junior sneered down at her. "It doesn't matter. I'm going to get all of it. If Max ever wants to see you and his little sluts alive again, he's going to sign over control of Vonderburg Industries to me! All nice and legal."
"He won't do it."
"We'll see about that." He turned away and walked out, leaving us in the dim light from a single wall sconce.
I leaned sideways against the bars of the cage and sniffled.
Eve moved close and put her arm around my shoulders. "Are you okay?"
I was in agony. "I think my ribs are broken."
She patted my shoulder gently. "Max and Sterling will come for us."
Tears trickled from my eyes. "I'm scared."
"I am too, honey, but everything will be okay."
Kelly stuttered from the fear and tension. Tha... tha... tha." She stopped and took a long deep breath and a spoke slowly and carefully. "Tha... that guy is crazy."
Eve nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid he is. Junior has always been unstable, but it looks like he's finally lost it."
I looked at Eve. "Why? Why does he hate you so much?"
She sighed and began her tale. "My sister Lily was always the wild and rebellious one. She met Hans at some party in New York and they started a wild fling. Father didn't approve, but Lily decided she was madly in love and ran off and married him anyway. Junior popped out nine months later and things started going downhill. Over the years, Hans had a lot of business problems and wheedled father into bailing him out, but it didn't help. We didn't exactly shun them, but we tried to avoid them. Hans was more interested in partying on the Riviera than he was in business and what business deals he put together were always shady. They sent Junior off to a string of private schools where he always made trouble and either flunked out or was expelled. When my father died, Lily got part of the inheritance just like I did. A year later, she and Hans were killed in a car accident in the Alps. Junior has been a thorn in the family's side ever since."
I tried to wipe my eyes, but pain stabbed my side. "I'm sorry."
"I am too, Val. He's all I had left of my sister and now he's gone completely insane."
The pain in my side throbbed and anger mixed with my fear. Kicking him right in his nuts would have made me feel a lot better. I clenched my jaw muscles and nodded. "He's fucking crazy."
She patted my shoulder again. "We're going to be okay."