Page 84 of His Rule (The Rite Trilogy 1)

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Theron simply shakes his head as if my argument is too weak to consider. “You don't know how long I've waited for an opportunity like this. I never even thought it possible, truly. But here you are. The one weakness Judge can't deny. What better way to destroy him than to aim where it will hurt the most."

"Theron, please..." My words die off as he pulls the whip from the wall and turns his attention to me.

Fear streaks through me as I shake my head violently, recalling the pain. The open flesh, the scars. I can't go through that again. I won't survive it. I’d rather die than feel that level of agony again.

“It could always be worse,” he tells me. “You think I’m the monster, but you don’t have any idea what he’s truly capable of.” Theron steps forward then, cracking the whip against his hand before he raises it into the air and lasers in on me. "I'm only sorry that it has to be you."

Instinct has me reaching for a weapon from the table. I don’t even know what it is until I raise my arm and catch a glimpse of the long wooden paddle. It’s heavy and awkward, and it brings back the memory of that fucking lamp. The lamp I smashed over the courtesan’s head.

She died. And I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to kill Theron, but I know I’m past the point of pleading with him. Something in him has snapped. His darkness has taken over, a darkness I didn’t even know lived in him.

“I don’t want to hurt you.” My lip trembles as I try to skirt around him, moving toward the wall. “Don’t make me.”

He snorts as if the thought is so amusing. As if I ever could.

“Look, if you want to get back at Judge, I can help you,” I lie. “We can figure something—”


The whip lashes out at me so fast I don’t even have time to react before it cuts into my wrist and the heavy paddle clatters to the floor.

A silent scream heaves from my lips as I try to run, but Theron captures me by the hair and yanks me back against him. I thrash and fight, trying to twist in his arms and get away, but he’s not having it. He’s not going to let me go, and he’s so strong, I know I can’t really hurt him. That’s why he laughed at the very idea of it.

Hope is a dying ember, but I can’t give up. I throw my head back into his chin, and he grunts before wrapping his hand around my throat and squeezing.

“Behave,” he growls. “Don’t make this harder than it has to be.”

I claw at his hands, trying to drag air into my lungs as my vision darkens and real fear soaks into my veins, slowing everything. Gradually, I become too weak to fight. My slaps are sluggish, my body boneless, and I know when I start to collapse, I’m screwed.

Theron releases his hold on my throat, and I gasp for air, but my muscles have stopped cooperating. I fall into a useless heap on the floor, my need for oxygen greater than anything else. I can’t even fight him as he drags me over to a leather bench and starts to rip at my clothes.

A solitary tear slides down my cheek as I shake my head violently, but as I do, the room spins, and I nearly pass out again.

“You don’t have to do this,” I croak.

Theron discards my shirt, and then moves onto my pants, dragging them down over my hips along with my thong, leaving me completely bare. His knuckle caresses the length of my back as I try to get up again, and then he slams me back down with the weight of his palm. It knocks the wind out of me, and again, blackness threatens the edges of my vision.

“I know I don’t have to, Mercedes.” He leans down, his voice dark silk against my ear. “But I want to. And I’m going to enjoy every second of it.”

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