Seconds after hitting the futon with the force of a car accident, the side of my face exploded with a sharp throbbing pain. Seconds after that, I realised I'd been hit.
I nodded with a whimper, frozen to the spot.
"Don't every pull away from me again. And don't ever interfere with a fight."
I nodded again, and Jacob kissed my cheek. After the deafening silence as he'd led me back to his room, away from prying eyes, I was almost relieved to hear his voice, even if it was scolding me in a soft, menacing tone.
"You think about Josh too much," he pursed his lips. "You belong to me now!"
He grabbed me under the chin, turning me over and kissed me roughly. I pulled back instinctively. Jacob squeezed me under the chin and pushed his face into mine.
"You belong to me!" he repeated, "not … Josh!" He spat out the name and pushed his lips onto mine again, force my mouth open. His tongue pressed in and I mumbled my protest, lashing out with my fists on his arms and chest.
"What is this?!" he yelled, sitting up and backhanding me across the face again. I saw stars as my whole body rolled to my side from the force of the blow. "You think I'm repulsive now that Josh is the new champion? You pull away from ME?! " Jacob turned me to look up at him.
With a animalistic roar, he lifted me from the bed and threw me across the room. I crashed against the far wall and Jacob struck me again, knocking me senseless to the floor. He was by my side in an instant, hauling me into a sitting position and backhanding me again. His hand held me upright by the throat and his fist raised, ready to break my nose.
"No-argh!" I screamed and covered my face with my hands, attempting to curl into the foetal position for protection. For the longest of seconds, nothing happened, then suddenly Jacob's grip on my throat softened.
"Oh, God! What have I done? Harry, I'm sorry! Don't be afraid of me!" He tried wrapping his arms around me but I scuttled back into the corner with a terrified cry.
"No! No! Harry, no! I wouldn't hurt you. I lost my temper but it's okay now. I won't hurt you." He slid over to me and wrapped his arms around me, pulling me into him.
I screamed and freaked, my mind racing at a hundred miles an hour. I pushed him over and scuttled away, stumbling to my feet and to the far side of the room.
"You're insane!" I cried, rubbing my throbbing jaw and backing away around furniture as he approached. I was facing the monster I kept hearing about. Here was the myth, not the man I had known.
"Don't run from me!" he snarled as I ducked behind the desk.
"First you try to wipe out Josh, now me, all because you can't have your way? What kind of a man are you?" I wept.
"Josh! Josh! Always Josh!" His fist came down on the table top. He stormed to the door and opened it. "Bring that bastard to me," he roared.
"Who?" the guard asked, baffled by the sudden eruption from the doorway.
"The fighter! Josh!" he slammed the door shut and whirled to face me. "You want to see what kind of champion your hero is? You want to know once and for all who can protect you?"
"No!" I yelled, "No! You leave him alone!" I raced out from behind the table and attacked him. Jacob deflected my blows and pinned me against him from behind.
He dragged me across the room, pulling a pair of his handcuffs from the drawer on the way.
I kicked out, managing to making him grunt once or twice, but I was little more than a twig against his solid trunk.
"You ungrateful little bastard," he snarled. He threw me onto the futon then grabbed my arm, dragging me off the side. One end of the handcuff snapped around my wrist.
"Let me go!" I screamed, trying to get to my feet.
"I'll show you who the real man is! I'll rip that prick apart limb by fucking limb! Then you'll see who the champion is!"
"Don't touch him!" I yelled as the other end of the handcuff clicked into place on the drainpipe.
"You'll watch every second of it; hear him every time he begs for mercy; and when he submits, I want you to hear his words, so you know he is nothing!"
"Oh, please!" I sobbed. "Please! Don't do this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I was wrong. He's a friend, nothing more. I was worried for him, that's all. Please. Jacob, please, don't do this!"
"Too late," he said, and as if on cue, the door opened and Josh was thrown into the room by his escorts.
"Out!" Jacob ordered. The guards left the room, leaving Josh alone in the open space of the room, facing the one man even the Tucker feared…