The edge of the knife glided slowly down her cheek. She quivered but dared not move as her captor gruffly murmured, “Is there anyone else here?”

She shook her head, unable to answer due to the tape across her mouth. His tone grew harsh as he grabbed a handful of her hair and jerked her head back so he could look into her terrified eyes. “If you’re lying to me you’re dead and so are they. Do you believe me?”

She nodded as her nostrils flared in fear. He smiled without humor and released her head.

“Good, “ he said, “very good.” He idly ran the dull side of the butcher knife across her throat, closely watching her reaction.

She shuddered and closed her eyes so she wouldn’t have to look at him.

He seized her chin in his free hand and squeezed hard enough to bruise her face. He snapped at her, “Keep your eyes open. I want you to watch. Understand?”

She nodded, her eyes shifting from his face to the knife held so close to her jugular. He followed her gaze.

“You like this, eh?” He held the knife up, turning it so the blade caught the light. “It’s a very handy tool and available in most households. You have expensive tastes; this one is the best I’ve seen. I may take it with me when I leave.”

She shook her head vehemently.

“You don’t like that idea, eh? You don’t want me to leave?” His smile was predatory as he watched her eyes dart from his face to the knife. “A present from your devoted husband, perhaps? It must be quite a knife. Let’s test it, shall we?”

She stood as still as possible as he used her best kitchen knife to pop the buttons off her blouse. He pulled the shirt off her shoulders and down her arms, unable to remove it completely because he had her handcuffed to one of the stair balusters.

“Hmm, nice,” he murmured as he admired the lacy peach bra she was wearing. He slipped the knife under one of the straps and sliced through it. “I hope you wore it for me.”

He quickly cut the other one, releasing her breasts from their constraints. He squeezed one of them, pinching her nipple until she squeaked. His eyes never left her face; he was more interested in her reaction than her breast.

He nodded in satisfaction and released it. He used the knife to slice through the band holding the bra in place. It fell to the floor, unnoticed by both of them.

He drew the knife up her chest toward her throat. She whimpered as blood welled to the surface and crimson drops ran down her pristine skin.

“You remember your safe word, don’t you? Don’t be afraid to say it at any time.” He chuckled as he tapped the silver tape covering her lips. “Or maybe not.”