My favorite scene of The Debt Collector
Copyright © 2019 by India Kells
All rights reserved
Tessa’s sanity was back to normal when she finally got the courage to leave the bathroom. Her old clothes were nowhere to be seen, along with the gun, and she didn’t like it. In their place was a silk pajama top, black of course, and way too big for her despite her curves. At least it covered her to mid-thigh. It was difficult dealing with the rising panic, until she realized that she still could escape in a pajama top if need be.
One last look in the mirror told her that her hair would be a mess as it dried without any product in it, that the bruises would get worse before they got better and tomorrow morning, her entire body would scream in despair and make her wonder why she’d decided to become a doctor after all.
Also, being a physician and a sensible woman, well, most of the time, she knew that even with a shower, and some food, her brain would only be operational for a short amount of time. And in that period, she needed to know everything that Locke knew, and more so, what Luther knew and how much of a threat he still was. And what role her dark knight played in her miraculous rescue.
Barefoot, she made her way out the bathroom and toward the enticing smells of the kitchen. The smell of warm bread made her stomach growl even before she saw the cook, who was removing it from the oven. There was also a steaming pot of something on the stove.
The sun was still high in the sky, illuminating the apartment’s sharp lines. Nothing was out of place, no personal items on the shelves. Some books. Art on the wall. A small splash of color. She wanted to examine the room more, but her host commanded her attention. Even if he wasn’t looking in her direction, his attention was on her.
Turning around, she watched him as he opened a cupboard to get dishes. Every one of his movements was efficient and measured. Contained.
Locke filled two bowls and placed them on the placemats on the counter beside two spoons.
“Please sit, Doctor.” Again, his voice was low, controlled, as he looked away from her. As she took her place on the stool, he turned again to get the warm bread on a wooden board, with two knives and some butter.
The soup looked delicious and smelled divine.
Locke finally sat and took his spoon. “Eat, Doctor.”
“I would prefer we talk first.”
The man sighed and put his spoon down before zooming his ocean irises to her. “When was the last time you ate, Doctor Freeman? Or slept for that matter?”
Tessa shook her head. “I doubt you saved me so I could finally eat and rest.”
“As I said, your rescue wasn’t planned. I was surprised to see you there. And about that, I have a few questions.”
“Take a number, stranger, because I have questions of my own first.”
Locke nodded before gesturing to her bowl of soup. “No doubt you have. But first, eat.”
As he took his spoon again, Tessa felt a little rebellious, or was it his cold composure that tempted her to test her limits. “How do I know you didn’t put anything in my soup?”
Once more, Locke put his spoon down. “You trust me. If not overtly, part of you knows I’m not a threat.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes, Doctor Freeman. And we both know it now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have used my shower that way earlier.”
A sudden burst of heat reddened her cheeks, but Tessa ignored it. “It was a release valve.”
It was faint, but a small smile tugged at the corner of his handsome lips. “And a beautiful one, I must say.”
“The door was locked.”
“You’re in my home, Doctor. A locked door is of no consequence to me.”
The more he talked, all calm and collected, the more she wanted to jump over the counter and strangle him.
“But a breach of trust, nonetheless. By locking the door, I implicitly requested to take a shower alone.”
“I repeat, you’re in my home. I come and go inside these walls as I please. And may I remind you that my presence didn’t prevent you from orgasming. So beautiful to see you fly, Doctor. And again, it was a sign of trust. Don’t tell me you would have done the same if Luther had appeared before you at that exact moment.”
He had a point, and Tessa hated him even more for that.
“And that’s why you took your gun back? Because you knew that I trusted you?”
Locke nodded which made her roll her eyes. “You are unbelievable. It doesn’t work like that. Trust doesn’t work like that.”
“It does. Extreme circumstances warrant it. And I wouldn’t reveal what I’m about to if I didn’t know for certain that you would keep your mouth shut about it. Same with what you tell me.”
“What makes you think that I have something to reveal? I lead a very dull life. I have nothing remotely interesting to say about it.”
His smile grew, and it made her heart skip. He was truly a handsome man, but it was the predatory look in his eyes that was the most unsettling.
“You underestimate yourself, or you’re lying to me, Doctor. And in both cases, I don’t like it. I doubt you lead such a dull life, as you say. Or if you do, it’s only for appearances. I know that you helped Allison disappear and I applaud you for it even if it was a dangerous and foolish move. Luther is not a man to cross. If you stole his livelihood, he will retaliate.”
Tessa couldn’t help but snarl. “A young girl is not property. Hell! A human being can’t belong to another. Slavery is an abomination!”
“So, you admit that you saved Allison.”
Shit! Her sudden outburst exposed her more than she’d intended. “I admit nothing. I’m only stating the facts.”
Locke crossed his arms, his energy shifting a little. “Morals don’t have anything to do with this situation. And I suspect Allison isn’t the first one to land in your ER that you’ve tried to save.”
“You are insane.” Tessa pushed herself away from the counter and went for the elevator. If she couldn’t get it to open, there should be an emergency door somewhere.
“You can’t walk out of here, Doctor. It’s too dangerous. And the doors are electronically locked, there is no way to get out unless you have the codes.”
Ignoring his statement, and the fact that he was heading her way, Tessa examined the second door that was locked too. About to try another one, Locke took her by the shoulders and turned her around. “Listen to me. The moment you’re seen on the streets Luther’s men will come and take you back to him. You have to wait.”
“Until your debt is repaid.”
Tessa blinked several times, having difficulty understanding his words. “Luther talked to me about that debt. When I asked how much it was, he just laughed.”
Locke nodded. “It’s a steep price. He didn’t want to relinquish total ownership of you to me.”
Tessa struggled in his hold and cried out, ready to punch something or someone within reach. “Nobody owns me. Do you hear me!”
As cold as before, Locke looked grim. “In this case and for appearance sake, I own you for the time being. Until we find a way to get out of this situation and you don’t end up dead in a dumpster, or worse, knowing what Luther is capable of.”
The concept was so foreign for her, that trying to discuss it was arduous. “Why did you buy me?”
Locke relaxed a little. “You’re a good person, Doctor. I wasn’t going there for you. I was hoping to barter for Allison. Buy her.”
“That’s what we need to discuss. I’m not a good man, but there are lines I would never cross. I know that world better than you and it almost destroyed me. And I didn’t want a girl like Allison, or any of the girls that pass through Luther’s hands to end up as slaves for men paying the right price. And I suspect you don’t either. What I’ve done so far, what was and is necessary to do, rules are the only thing that matters. I told Luther I would lease you for a period of time. You must abide by that rule. And in the meantime, we’ll have to find a way to stop Luther and his slave ring, once and for all.”
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