Chapter Eight

Cassie walked out the front door beside Justina, certain Hans would be waiting at the car, but he was nowhere to be seen. The last she saw him, he was wondering off with Louisa, arm in arm as they strolled toward the garden alone. She knew the woman was Antonio’s, but that didn’t stop him from sharing her. He’d already proven sex was meant to be explored. What was to prevent him from exploring a little of it today?

“Cassidy,” she heard her name called and turned to see Hans coming down the front steps. “I’d like to speak with you before you go.

Justina smiled and climbed into the driver’s seat of a small white Tesla, promising to wait for her. Cassie stepped to the back of the car, her arms folded across her chest. She leaned against the bumper for support, hoping she could use it to hold her up when she kicked him in the ass.

“I…wanted to speak with you…” he began hesitantly.

“Speak with me or threaten me?” she asked with a frown. “Let me guess. If I speak to anyone, you’ll punish me. If I try to find help, you’ll punish me. If I look at another man, you’ll punish me. If I try and talk Justina into running away, you’ll punish me. Am I getting close?

Hans didn’t say anything. He realized in a burst of acknowledgement, he’d used punishment as a crutch against her for months. He didn’t want her to doubt him, or to worry about what he would do when she was alone with him. He wanted her to love him, but it was a feeling he didn’t want to rip from her or beat into her.

“I just wanted to give you some money,” he lied, taking his wallet out of his pocket. “If you find something you want to buy, I want you to get it. When we return to Germany, I’ll have the bank issue you a credit card of your own.

Cassie watched the man hand her several colorful euros from his thick wallet, as well as a plastic credit card. He returned his wallet to his pocket, then wrapped her in his strong embrace and kissed her.

“If you want to spend the night, you’ll need to pick up an outfit for tomorrow, and a couple of toothbrushes,” he told her, trying to hold on to every morsel of sanity he had left.

“Do you want to stay?” she asked with a suspicious frown.

“I know you want more time with your friend, and I’m sure we can extend our trip a day or two. If you want to stay and make sure she’s cared for, then we’ll stay.

“You’re letting me decide?

“You’re my wife,” he told her with a deep breath of courage. “This trip was for your benefit. I’ll plan a more romantic honeymoon after the next auction, somewhere the two of us can be alone. Clothing optional.

Cassie watched the wicked grin pull his lips into the half smile she loved so much, then looked down to his broad chest.

“Is there another reason you might want to stay over?” she asked, fighting the urge to pound on those incredible muscles.

“Like what?

“She is quite lovely,” Cassie said, knowing he would understand who they were talking about. “Are you sure you wouldn’t want to test her talents, and see if she still knows all the old lessons you taught her?

Hans chuckled softly, kissing his wife’s neck. He was worried about her leaving him alone, and she was worried about him being alone with Louisa. Perhaps he could use that jealousy to his advantage.

“She is very attractive,” he told her, kissing his way to her ear as his large hands caressed down her back to her firm buttocks. “I know she’s skilled in partners. She shares a bed with Tony and at least one of the girls regularly. If you’d like, we could test her skills together.

“Hell no,” Cassie snapped, pushing at his chest. “Is that why you want to stay the night?

“I want to give you time with your friend, but if we could find a few hours for pleasure in the meantime…”

“Get the hell away from me,” she growled, pushing out of his embrace.

“Darling, I’m only suggesting…”

“Keep those suggestions to yourself,” she barked as she walked around to the passenger side of the car. “And keep those pants zipped. When I get back, we’re leaving. The only place you’re sleeping tonight, is at the villa. If you’re lucky, I’ll be beside you.

Hans smiled as she sat down and closed the door, then leaned in through the window and took her chin in his hand. He kissed her hard, slipping his tongue into her mouth before she had the chance to object. He made certain his kiss was filled with passion, and when he felt her pulse skip a beat beneath his fingers, he knew he had her where he wanted her.

“Be good, my love,” he told her. “I’ll be waiting.

“Alone,” she told him in a soft voice.

“Depends on how long you’re gone.

Cassie glared at him as he moved out of the window and stepped back, waving as Justina drove away from the house.

It was a mean trick to use her jealousy against her, but he was certain it would keep her mind occupied from seeking help from authorities. So long as she came back to him, he would make certain she remembered how much he loved her when they were alone.

Justina took Cassie from one shop to another with a shopping spree that lasted for three full hours. It was obvious she had been to the town before, by the way she knew where the best shops were.

Cassie bought more than ten new outfits, three pairs of shoes, and a negligee Justina said would make Hans beg for her affections. She found a perfume she liked, and a few new pieces of cosmetics, then sat down at a sidewalk café for something to drink.

She listened to Justina ramble on about how much fun life had been since leaving Germany, and how much she loved being with the children. She enjoyed playing with them, and helping them with their schoolwork, and was teaching them to sing. The more she talked, the more Cassie realized she was happy. She had freedom to move about the property and town as she wished and told Cassie that Antonio was redesigning part of the house for her own. She would have her own wing, just as Freja and Louisa did, complete with a sitting room, a bedroom, and a luxurious bathroom.

The sun was nearly set by the time Justina drove the luxury car up the driveway. Cassie’s back ached, her feet felt like she’d been walking for a week, and her head swirled with the girl’s never-ending chatter. She was happy Justina was adjusting so well and wondered if the other girls would be as lucky when their time came to leave the castle.

Hans paced the sitting room, anxiously waiting for Cassie’s return. The longer they were gone, the more nervous he became. He kept wondering if she was sitting in the office of the police, acting as an inside informer, or if she was driving to the nearest American Embassy.

He tried to keep his mind occupied by playing a board game with the children or listening to Mama arguing with Mario to finish his arithmetic, but he couldn’t shake Cassie from his mind. Even Antonio’s insistence that everything was alright didn’t ease his fears. He watched Freja nurse her son to sleep, while Louisa knitted a baby blanket, then stood and paced to the window again.

Antonio watched his friend with a frown. Hans was the most well-ordered man he’d ever known. To see him acting like a caged cat made him wonder what kind of relationship he had with Cassie. The psychiatrist side of him tried to analyze his friend’s lack of trust. He wondered if it was because she was a former slave that had him worried, or if it was because he just didn’t know the woman. Antonio didn’t know anything about Cassie or the type of person she was, though he had seen her kindness and affection for Justina. Still, he had to ask himself if Hans knew his own wife, any better than he did.

Hans had just sat down with a bourbon in one hand, and a powdered Zeppoli in the other, when the lights of the Tesla came up the drive. He jumped to his feet but was met at the door by a very fast acting Mama, who held her hand against the wooden barrier, keeping him from storming out to the porch.

“You will give them the chance to park before you go out there,” she ordered the man. “Let her get out of the car, then go out, calmly, and welcome her back.

“Mama, she’s been gone…”

“Long enough to have enjoyed the day with her friend,” the older woman said, interrupting his tantrum. “Count to twenty, then go out and help her with her purchases. You will pull yourself under control, and act like her husband, not her master.

Hans drew a deep breath. The woman was right. Cassie did return, and there was no sign of the military following her. He had to consider her loyalty, if that’s what it was, before jumping to conclusions.

Mama watched the man square his shoulders as Antonio stepped up behind him. He patted Hans on the shoulder with a sympathetic smile, then opened the front door. Hans looked out behind his friend, watching Cassie open the passenger door.

“Did you find your shoes?” Antonio was saying when Hans joined them, listening to his friend’s deep laughter when Justina giggled and threw her arms around his neck.

“How was your day?” Hans asked, forcing a smile across his face.

“Exhausting,” Cassie said in a soft voice. “That girl has enough energy for three. My feet hurt, and my head is spinning.

Cassie glanced back to her friend who was wrapped in Antonio’s embrace, her mouth finally silenced by the firm pressure of his lips against hers.

“That girl never shuts up,” Cassie whispered. “I think my ears are bleeding.

Hans laughed, wrapping her in his embrace and kissing her, briefly but firmly.

“Did you have fun?” he asked, walking to the trunk after Justina pushed the button, watching it pop open.

“Yes, I did,” Cassie answered with a smile, then reached in her pocket. “You even have money left over.

“Keep it,” Hans told her, reaching for the mountain of bags and boxes.

Cassie frowned curiously at the man, but returned the money to her pocket, and reached in to help carry the bags. Antonio was by her side in a split second, taking the items from her hands and holding his elbow out for her to take.

Hans chuckled when Justina took his arm, watching Cassie hesitantly accept his friend’s offer. They walked up the steps to the front door as Mario looked out the window and Christina squealed for Justina.

The house came alive again with the sound of laughter and Cassie found herself feeling overwhelmed by the noise. She wasn’t accustomed to listening to so many people talking at once, and it made her feel uncomfortable and slightly anxious.

Hans saw the look on Cassie’s face, but couldn’t get through the crowd of children, who were eager to see the gifts Justina said she had for them. He moved around the sofa as Cassie made her way into the kitchen, her bags left by the front door. He saw her leave through the back and followed, finding her standing by a tree on the opposite side of the veranda.

Quietly, he stepped up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist. He could feel her tension as she drew several deep breaths to steady her nerves. Her pulse beat rapidly beneath his lips when he kissed her neck, and he thought back on the conversation they had several months ago.

She told him there was a time when she was her own best friend but found herself feeling awkward, after leaving the lower levels without anyone around. He knew the adjustment to living outside the castle was hard on the women at first, and he knew she was in the same situation. At the castle, there were few people for her to interact with, so she never had to deal with the loud confusion there was here.

“I promised Antonio we’d stay for the evening story,” Hans told her in a soft voice. “We’ll leave once the children are tucked in bed.

“I thought you wanted to stay?” she asked as she leaned her head back against his shoulder.

“I’d rather have you to myself,” he assured her. “And Eva is preparing supper for us tomorrow before we go back to Hennhofen. When we get back, we’ll be busy preparing for the holiday party and won’t have much time alone. I want to take advantage of every second we have together.

Cassie didn’t say anything as his lips grazed her neck and shoulder. She was grateful for his excuse to leave the family. It was difficult shopping with so many people staring at her, but it was worse to listen to everyone talking at once.

“Have you ever thought about the future?” Cassie asked a few moments later.

“Only to a certain point. Why do you ask?

“Rosa told me you had to produce an heir. Is that all you see as far as a family life goes?

“I’ve never thought much about it,” he told her, turning her in his arms and brushing her long hair off her shoulder. “Since the first time I saw you, I’ve considered what our child would be like, but I suppose I’ve never bothered to think beyond that point. I never considered a life like this. Children screaming and arguing, the sound of babies crying, adults trying to talk over the volume of the family. This is all a bit much for me.

“Have you thought of what it would be like to have a family?

“No,” he told her honestly. “I didn’t have a family growing up, so I have no idea what it’s supposed to be like.

“I had Aunt Mazy, but it wasn’t the typical family either. I don’t remember my parents, and I never knew my grandparents.

“I had both, but I don’t remember ever celebrating anything, and there was never laughter in the castle. My grandmother was very sick, my mother was always sad, and Konrad enjoyed yelling and beating on people - women especially. Rosa and I were best friends for most of our youth, but even that changed after a while. She grew up and became rebellious and I was sent to boarding school. When I came back during holidays, it was a constant battle between Rosa fighting with Konrad, and our mother’s indifference. There was a point when I refused to ever consider having a family. Then after you saw your friend and I together, the night…”

“You thought I told you I hated you,” she clarified when he stopped talking, watching him nod his head.

“That night I decided never to have an heir. Before Konrad died, I gave up my right to the castle and Hennhofen. I didn’t want anything to do with any of it.

“I never knew that,” Cassie said with a frown.

Hans drew a deep breath and took her by the hand, walking back to the table and sat down with her by his side. He’d never spoken about his past to anyone, and he wasn’t sure if he was willing to do it now. But there was a feeling of comfort, a sense of camaraderie between them, and he felt certain he could tell her anything.

“Konrad was an abusive bastard,” Hans told her softly, ignoring the laughter echoing out of the back door. “He abused my mother every chance he got. I suppose he just liked to make her cry. I’m surprised she didn’t…”

Cassie laid her head on his shoulder, hoping to offer him some form of condolences. She may not have had parents for very long, but she had a happy childhood, even with her great aunt.

“I’m so sorry you had to witness that,” she told him gently. “No child should ever see their parents argue, or fight. Not like that.

“It’s all I knew. I thought every family was like that, until I went away to school and saw how my friends’ families were. When I came back home, it sickened me. If I even tried to say anything in defense for my mother, Konrad would take it out on both of us. I started lifting weights at an early age, just so I could be strong enough to defend myself. I ran track and took fencing, boxing, even wrestling. I had a dream of rescuing her from him, even if it meant…”

Hans paused as he continued to look back at his childhood through the reflection of time. Cassie knew he needed to talk, and to get the years of hate and misery off his conscience, but the thought of what his mother endured, sickened her. It was no wonder he turned out to be the monster she once thought he was.

“I was barely eighteen when she died,” he said softly. “I had come home before going to university. I was young, and arrogant, and self-centered. I spent all my time playing. I had Lucia by that time, so I always had a woman to fuck whenever I needed her. She was like the doll I took out and played with when it was convenient, or when I was bored and didn’t have anything else to do.

“Who was Lucia?” Cassie asked in a hushed voice, wondering if he’d ever been married before.

“She was my first slave,” he told her in a voice far less than proud. “I met her when I was about fourteen. She was my age, shy, and beautiful. She lost her parents and then her grandparents and was sent to a convent. Konrad claim her as a niece and took her back to the castle. She was beaten into submission by my father and his men and taught to please a man until I returned from school.

Cassie didn’t ask anything more about the girl. She was afraid to know, and afraid to learn he might have loved her.

“The last time I returned home, was the autumn I went to college. Rosa and I spent our holidays and summers at home, even if we didn’t want to. It was when Konrad held his auctions. Rosa was beautiful, and he wanted to show her off to his buyers. Sometimes I think he would have sold her for the right price.

Again, he paused, drawing a deep breath.

“I was very much a playboy back then.” He paused as he chuckled. “I spent all my summer traveling, flirting with girls, screwing the ones I wanted, and telling Konrad about the ones I found that fit the profile he was looking for. It was a week before I left for school, and I was ordered to return for the auction. Lucia was sold that year, for enough money to pay for my education. Konrad was going to present his buyers with the new group of girls he’d taken. He always allowed his guests free rein of the girls when they visited, and once they found one they liked fucking, they would buy her. It was very different than what it is now. The girls weren’t taught to have sex, like they are now, they were raped. They weren’t fed, or given privileges, and hygiene was practically unheard of. The lower levels were little more than a series of cells, and the girls were kept chained when they weren’t being assaulted or beaten. If they became pregnant, they were subjected to horrific abortions with little more than medieval techniques.

Cassie didn’t say anything, she just kept her head resting against his shoulder, her arms wrapped around his.

“Konrad enjoyed torture and abuse. My mother became sadder with each passing year. That year was the worst of my entire life. Rosa was gone to a girl’s school in Italy, and I was finishing my last year before I went to college. There was nobody there to take Konrad’s wrath. She was very beautiful, and if one of his buyers found an interest in her, he would order her to suck him off, or fuck him. He would order her to undress in front of his guests, and he would permit them to finger her, suck her tits, spank her, whatever they wanted to do. Most of the time, he would let one or two of them fuck her in front of the others, just so he could prove how obedient the women were.

Cassie felt her stomach flip with the idea of what this man had seen over the years. She wanted to cry and hold him close to her, but she dared not move. She was afraid of chasing away the memories that tormented him.

“That night was the only time I ever saw her act out against him,” he continued in a low voice. “After supper, he ordered his guards to bring the girls up, and told the buyers to choose the ones they wanted. She watched one buyer in particular choose a girl who was barely sixteen. She’d only been there for a few days. She tried to pull away from the man, but he was much stronger, and she was weak from a lack of food. She began crying and tried fighting him off.

Hans paused for a moment as he thought back on that day, wondering if Cassie would feel repulsed when she heard the conclusion of his story.

“Konrad always wore these satin robes with nothing underneath. He said he had to be prepared in case he wanted a quick fuck. The sash was thick, and the ends were laced with small lead beads to weigh them down. He took it off and began beating the girl with it. I don’t know what happened, my mother just seemed to snap. She went into the kitchen and returned with a chef’s knife. I came back from the tavern at that same time, and Rosa met me at the door, frightened and crying. She told me Konrad was going to kill the girl. By that time in my life, I was much larger than he was, and no longer afraid of his temper. I went upstairs, determined to stop him, and saw the girl laying in a pool of blood at Konrad’s feet. He was still beating her, yelling at her that he was going to teach her to behave like a woman should. Then I saw my mother…”

Cassie held her breath in anticipation of the story’s conclusion. She didn’t want to hear the end of his tale, but she didn’t want to make him stop. She knew he had to relive the horror, to move past it.

“The bastard glared at the girl, then finally stopped beating her,” he continued. “She was unconscious, barely breathing, and bleeding profusely. She had more lacerations across her face and body, then I’ve ever seen anyone suffer. Konrad kicked her to see if she was faking, then turned around just as my mother walked up beside him. Nobody said a word to warn him. They all saw the knife in her hand, but I think they were as sickened with his behavior as she was. When he turned around, his robes came open. The son-of-a-bitch was getting off beating the girl and had a full-blown erection. Mother calmly stuck the knife into his side, as easily as she would if she were slicing a pie. He staggered back in shock, but before he fell she took hold of his dick and raised the knife…”

Cassie gasped. He didn’t have to finish for her to understand what his mother had done. It was a horrific memory for Hans to have lived with, and she suddenly realized why he turned out the way he had.

“He fell to the ground, screaming,” Hans said, his voice soft, but his tone was firm as if he was seeing it all played out in front of him again. “Martel ordered the guards to take my mother, but she turned the knife on herself before they could reach her. She couldn’t find mercy in him, so she found it in herself. By the time help got there, the girl was dead, my mother was dead, and Konrad was barely breathing. We buried Mother and the girl in the family graveyard while he was in the hospital recovering. The doctors repaired his injuries as much as they could, but he could never get an erection after that. They saved his life, though he was no longer capable of having sex. He had to carry a bag with him, so he could pee. Rosa and I left the castle after we buried our mother, and I didn’t return to Hennhofen, until he was dead.

“I’m so sorry,” Cassie said. “No child should ever see such horrors.

Hans cleared his throat, then turned and smiled at her. His face appeared slightly less tense, though his eyes continued to hold the haunting memory of his past.

“Well, at least you know why I’m so fucked up,” he chuckled, kissing her forehead. “Despite my insisting that I never wanted anything to do with the castle, or the family heritage, Konrad left it all to me. In his will, he made the stipulation that I had to keep the family tradition, or everything would be given to his valet. I don’t know why he made that condition, but I wasn’t about to let that bastard have the castle. He would have continued, exactly as Konrad had, and there wouldn’t have been a woman in all of Germany safe from his lust.

“Have you ever considered doing anything else?

“I don’t have a choice,” he told her with a deep breath. “I have to continue the tradition, and produce an heir by the time I’m thirty-five, or I will lose everything. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to embrace the typical family life, but I know I have to at least try to have a child.

“And what will happen when you have that child?” Cassie asked gently. “Will you teach him the same things your father taught you?

“No,” Hans answered honestly. “I made myself a promise years ago, I would be the last Hennhofen to conduct business inside the castle. There are times when my anger gets the best of me, and I want to produce a son strong enough to rule the world, but in all honest purposes, I don’t want another child to witness what I did.

Turning to her, Hans lifted her hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles, then gently caressed her cheek. He still considered her the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, and the most compassionate. He couldn’t imagine telling anyone else about his past and expect them to stay seated next to him. But she did. Just as she came back to him today.

With a deep breath, he found the horrors of his past released into the night air. Cassie listened without judging, and without turning away in disgust. She helped him confront the demons that had been haunting him, his entire life, and helped him surpass them.

“Cassie, my love,” he told her in a firm voice. “I promise you, when I die, so does the curse that has plagued my family for more than six hundred years. Our child will never know the horrors that go with being the heir of Hennhofen Castle.

The room was dark and smelled of stale cigarettes and empty liquor bottles, with only a small bedside lamp lit for light. The television was ranting on about the American presidential debates, though the man paid little attention to it. Garran sat in the shadows at the small table, near the closed window, of the cheap hotel, watching the rain splatter against the ground. He was getting tired of waiting for the phone to ring. It had been more than three days, and still he waited. Despite the money he received weekly, it wasn’t the same as having his freedom.

Tapping his fingers nervously, he lit another cigarette and inhaled the smoke deeply into his lungs. The list of people he promised revenge on was starting to grow, with the Baron von Hennhofen being at the top of the list. He could still feel the pain of his wounds, even though it had been months. He continued to suffer migraines from his neck injury, but his arm was healed, despite the fact it was set by a backstreet doctor who barely knew which direction his ass pointed. But with time, he would have his strength back, and then he’d strike back.

Garran knew the castle’s weak points, and its strengths. He just had to figure a way to get Liam out of the way, while leaving Hans alone to enjoy his just desserts. He could easily get back into the lower levels, and hide enough to avoid detection, if it wasn’t for all the damn security cameras. Even if he could knock out the electricity, the system was run independently and had backup batteries to keep them going.

It didn’t matter though, and in a very short time, the castle would be theirs, and Hans would be dead. The thought of keeping his woman alive to endure the suffering he’d lived with because of her husband, was a fantasy that kept him warm at night. He knew the Baron was trying to have a child. With the luck of fate on his side, the blonde would be pregnant when they made their move. He would find great pleasure in tormenting and torturing the brat in place of his father.

Garran jumped when the phone rang, and he reached for it, setting his cigarette down in the dish, full of crushed remnants of all those he’d smoked before. He placed the phone to his ear, waiting to hear the caller say something.

“It’s me,” a male voice said on the other end.

“What the hell’s taken you so long?” Garran asked.

“Things have been chaotic with the preparations for the party. The women are being prepared, and the list of guests is a mile long. We’re having to pull double duty just to keep the village under control.

“I don’t give a damn about any of that. What about the Baron? What’s happening with him?

“He’s been in Italy with the' little woman', but they’re coming back in a few days. There’s a new shipment of women, with another one arriving tomorrow. By the time the damn year is over, there will be over fifty women in the lower levels.

“We have to move in,” Garran said angrily. “He’s going to make a fortune on those bitches, and that money should be ours.

“You need to relax,” the man ordered. “I’ll send money for you tomorrow when I go to pick up the whores. You need to get out of Germany. When I have everything in order, I’ll call you, but I won’t have you screwing things up again.

“How was I supposed to know she would turn on us?

“She’s always been a deceptive whore. But stop worrying. She’ll be back for the holidays. Once you take her, you’ll have the bargaining chip we need to make him surrender. The money will soon be ours. Until then, keep your nose clean and your mouth shut.

“Easy for you to say. You’re not stuck in a fucking cheap hotel every day.

A soft knock sounded at the door and the man on the receiver chuckled.

“Go answer the door,” he told Garran. “I’ve sent you a little surprise to occupy your night. Tomorrow, pick up the money and stay out of sight. I’ll call you as soon as I have more information.

The phone disconnected as the knock sounded at the door again, this time slightly louder. Taking the gun, he had hidden in the bedside table, Garran walked to the door, slipping the pistol in the back of his pants. He opened the barrier to find a young woman standing outside. By the looks of her short skirt and revealing top, he knew she was a whore.

“I was told you needed some company,” she said with a wide grin that revealed the yellow decaying teeth of a drug addict.

“I hope you’re up for a hard ride,” the man said, opening the door wider to let her inside the dark room.

“With what I’ve been paid, you can ride me all night long.

Garran watched her walk to the bed and press on the end of the mattress, as if testing the water of a swimming pool for the temperature.

He smiled as he closed the door and locked it, then reached for the cords to the blinds. With a quick jerk he broke them free and wound them around his hand as he moved up behind the woman.

“I have a specific agenda for you,” he told her, grabbing her from behind as he clamped a sweaty, cigarette smelling hand across her mouth, holding her arms back. “We’re going to play hard, and when I’m finished, you’re going to thank me for fucking you. Do you understand?

T he woman nodded her head, wide eyed with fear as he laughed. He held her arms as he bent her forward and pressed her face into the worn mattress, holding her there with the pressure of his knee as he knelt on the edge of the bed. Raising her skirt, he smiled, then slapped her bottom as hard as he could, laughing at her muffled cry.

“This is going to be one night, you’ll never forget,” he promised, whipping her bottom again.

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