Lost and Found (Growing Pains #1)

Lost and Found (Growing Pains #1)
K.F. Breene

Chapter One

Her hands were bound!

She shouldn’t have made that joke at dinner. The one about large bodies making up for small intellect; she should’ve known it would get back to Jim. She hadn’t been talking about him, but it wouldn’t matter. Even if she explained that she and Clarissa had just been talking about riding horses, he would take it the wrong way.

Her breath came out in fast bursts but no air made it into her lungs. Something covered her eyes, the thick, rough material blinding her.

She yanked at her hands frantically. Leather bit into her wrists, keeping her in place. He didn’t want her escaping this time. This wasn’t a sport, it was punishment.

“Ah, you’re awake,” his deep voice sounded from the far corner of the room. “You had a nice sleep. Must’ve been all the wine you drank.”

She bit her lip, knowing it wouldn’t do any good to explain she’d only had two glasses. He wouldn’t want to hear it. Fear gripped her in an icy claw.

“Was it the wine that made you brave? Made you joke about me? Made you say I was rough?”

The closet door closed with a soft click. Footsteps came toward her, slow and thoughtful.

She thought back, wanting to explain. But she didn’t remember saying he was rough—why would she? That would make his temper flare.

It meant he wanted a reason to get angry. Why? What had she done wrong?

“Well?” he demanded, closer now. She could hear the excitement in his voice.

Something rustled. A sort of swish.

“Aren’t you going to answer me?”

The swish sounded again, right before blinding, consuming pain. She cried out, struggling against the bonds. Not caring that they were ripping into her skin. Trying to escape.

It was a whip. He’d gotten a new toy.

“Please, Jim! I’m sorry! We were talking about horses!” she wailed.

“Horses? You’re saying I’m as dumb as a horse?”


A strip of skin on her leg erupted in searing, blinding agony. She whimpered, trying to scoot away, ignoring the biting pain in her wrists.

“I don’t like when you joke, Krista. Or talk about me. You know this.”

“Yes, yes! I know. I’m sorry! I wasn’t talking about you! I promise!”

“Filthy, lying bitch!”

She screamed when the next blow fell, slicing into her stomach. The pain crawled up her body and out her limbs, taking over her mind.

“Please,” she begged, the fabric over her eyes drenched from her tears. “I’m sorry! Please forgive me, Jim. I’m sorry! I’ll do anyth—“

The next strip fell across her br**sts, making her skin blister in pain. Fear raked across her chest and sliced through her head. Words failed, doused in panic. She struggled, pulling at the ropes, feeling the blood trickle down her wrists. He might kill her. This time he might actually kill her.

“Please,” she whispered.

“You need to take your punishment, you lying bitch! Isn’t that right?”

She nodded mutely, past reason. If she complied, he’d let her go. He’d unbind her and apologize for what he’d done. He would stop hurting her and show his love again. Usually he treated her like a princess. All the girls were jealous that she’d gotten the hottest man in town when no one else could.

She just had to get through this rough patch and he’d be loving again.

Trying not to whimper, she squeezed her eyes tight, acquiescing so he’d lose interest. She felt strong fingers wrap around her throat.


Krista’s eyes snapped open. Struggling against her bedcovers, she scrambled up, hands flying to her neck. Her breath came in fast, hoarse pants. Sweat covered her like a film.

The still room lay empty in the early light of a foggy July morning, the only sound the distant ocean waves crashing against the sand. Jim wasn’t here.

Standing, she waited for her nightmare to wash over her; for the panic to seep out of her skin.

She took a deep and cleansing breath, clearing her mind; a routine so practiced she’d become a pro. Another to let the residual fear dissipate. One more as she turned to look around her room two states away from the memory.


Another breath for good measure, rooting herself in the present.

It was time to start the day.

Today was the first day of her new life. She’d already been living in San Francisco for a few months, but today she started her new job. A job that would put aside money troubles and past haunts. Today was the day she stepped through a doorway toward happiness and total independence.

She strutted down the hallway with purpose—quietly, so as to not wake the roommates—and straight in for the shower, step one in the new “prepare for the work day” routine.


Her smiled turned brittle. Ben stood over the toilet sleepily.

“Gah! Sorry, Ben!” She threw the statement over her shoulder as she blindly stumbled out.

“Door closed means someone’s in there, Krista,” Ben grumbled as he passed two seconds later, straining his sweatshirt over his Spiderman pajama bottoms.

“Sorry Ben. New job starts today. I wasn’t really thinking...”

“Just… okay. Good luck. Please just knock, though. In the future. Hope your day goes well.”

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