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  • Writer's pictureGina A. Jones

The Colors of Ash-Chapter Thirty





It’s a quiet ride as Hunter drives me to my gymnastics lesson. I so much want to ask more about his sister but I’m still a little freaked out from what Dr. Morris said—Ash usually sustains sexual relations until after the physical. Is there a reason why he didn’t this time? Especially the sex we had over his car—he used no condom.


I read over the medical records that Dr. Morris gave me with a fine-tooth comb, even though he assured me Ash was clean. But still, how would he know if I was?


I glance over at Hunter, hoping he’ll notice and start the conversation. But he’s like a robot.  Sometimes I think he’s not real.


I clear my throat and attempt to ask. “So, what was your sister’s name?”


He looks over at me, slowly. Is he going to tell me? I’m waiting.


“Why do you need to know?” he asks dryly.


“I…I was just thinking about what you said, that she died…and that you two weren’t close.  I had a sister once—a long time ago. I haven’t seen her since she was a baby.”


“Why’s that?”


“She was taken away and adopted into a family. I was put into foster care.”


He looks over at me again, his face seems to soften but I can’t see his eyes through his dark sunglasses.


“I’m sorry,” he says, and then looks back to the road. It’s quiet again and I guess that’s all I will get out of him.


Hunter turns the car into a drive. It’s a house and not a studio where a gym would be for gymnastics. “Where are we?”


“This is the house of Ivan Petrov. He will be your coach.”


“Oh, I just thought it would be at a gym. So, Ash is having me take…private lessons?”


“Ash does everything private.”


Of course, he does. How dumb of me to ask.


I grab the gym bag that Ava packed for me. I have no idea what’s even in it but I’m hoping for gymnastic clothes because I’m in leggings and a sweatshirt. I open the car door and tell Hunter thanks. Once the door closes, he drives out of the circle drive. I look at the huge house with double doors where ‘Ivan the Terrible’ is waiting to torture me.


Before I’m halfway to the door, it opens, and a man who looks Russian greets me.


“Welcome, Cinder. I hope you are warmed-up and ready to get started?” He says with a strong Russian accent. I don’t know if it’s his hard looks, or the accent that makes him appear…scary.

Warmed-up? Don’t we do that here?


“Ah, yes, Mr…Petrov…”


“Call me Ivan, for I will be calling you by your first name. Come, follow me, and let us get started. I see no point in standing around wasting time. Mr. Sinclair is paying me well to instruct you.”


“Ah…yes sir…I mean, Ivan.”


Walking in, I hear Opera music playing. The house is sterile in a cold sort of way—black statues, black floor.


I follow him to a door and when he opens it, it leads…downstairs. Are we really going to be doing gymnastics? He walks down first, so I feel a bit more comfortable.


The basement is a gymnastics facility, complete with all the equipment I see when watching gymnastics on TV.


“I hope you have a leotard in that bag. And your hair must be up.”


I unzip the bag and look inside. Oh, thank you, Ava! “Yes, right here. Is there a place for me to change?”


“You change right here. You are to be prepared when walking through my door.”


He wants me to dress in front of him? I look around for any place private enough to change. Nothing. “Could you please turn around?”


“You have one minute and then meet me over on the tumbling floor.” He turns, walking over to the padded floor. I quickly undress and yank out the leotard, pulling it on as fast as I can. Shoving my leggings and sweatshirt down inside, I waste no time meeting him on the tumbling floor.


“I already know you have limited experience by your form. You are stiff, sloppy, and have no regard for discipline.”


What the…


“I know what Mr. Sinclair requires of his students. They must be flexible. They must have stamina. They must endure long poses.”


Like the one I couldn’t keep when waiting for him—down on my knees, face to the floor.

“A gymnast by nature should be very flexible and agile in order to carry out seemingly impossible sequences of moves using a variety of props. These moves require tremendous technique, of which I see you have none. It is always best to start at a young age, as young as eighteen months. So, I see I have my work cut out for me.”


Oh please, I just need to stay in weird poses, not win a gold medal.


“Get down and show me how far you can stretch your legs in a split.”

This is going to suck because I have never done the splits. I drop to my knees, which is the wrong thing to do because he barks out at me.


“Never! Never start from the floor. You remain standing, and move your legs, spreading them as far apart as possible, until your crotch touches the floor.”


Oh, no way! I slowly stand and begin sliding my legs apart. I’m in no way as far as he would want. My crotch has about two more feet before it touches the floor.


“What do you call this? This is terrible. I should call Mr. Sinclair and offer his money back.”

Could he be any more insulting?


He pushes on my shoulders, forcing me to the floor. I’m now in pain and look up at him to stop.


“I see that plea in your eyes. But it will do you no good. You have about a foot to go before you touch the floor. For the rest of the time, you will stay in this position. It will stretch and loosen the muscles between your legs.” He looks at his watch. “You have 45 minutes remaining. I will sit over there and watch you.”


“What? For the rest of the time, I have to stay like this?” I say to his back as he walks away.

“Yes,” he says with his back to me. He walks to a chair in the corner, takes a seat, and glares at me.


You’ve got to be kidding me. My legs will be unusable by the time I’m finished. If I make it.

I’m sweating, my legs feel like they’re being pulled out of their sockets. My knees are trembling, and my feet are going to sleep. And it’s only been five minutes.


I can do this. I have too. Closing my eyes makes it worse because I start to become unbalanced. Then I think of letting myself fall over. What would he do? Tell me to leave, or add some sort of punishment?


I take a deep breath and push through the pain—for the next thirty minutes, according to the clock over on the wall. Never do his eyes leave me.


Ten more minutes. I can do this. Tick. Tick. Tick. I can hear the clock, it’s so quiet in here. That’s it. Just two more minutes. Two more minutes and I will have accomplished this task. Will I be able to walk? Probably not.


Ivan gets up and walks over to me. Time’s up but I can’t move. Is he here to help me up?

“Cinder, take a look below you.”


I look down to the floor, I see there are only about three inches between my crotch and the floor. This is good, right?


“See what long periods of discipline can do for you.”


“Yes, sir.”


“You may get up and I will rub you down.”


Rub me down? Like his aftercare?


I’m unable to move to a standing position from here and slowly move to my knees. Ahh! It feels so good to have my legs back to a normal position. But there’s still the part where I have to walk and follow him into the room he just walked in.


My legs feel like jelly, in a bad way as I make my way into the room. It looks like a physical therapy office with padded benches.


“Move to the bench and spread your legs.”


“Wha…What?’


“I’m going to massage your inner thighs. If I don’t, you will not be able to walk tomorrow.”

He’s most likely right, so I move onto the bench. My legs must not be spread enough, as he takes one leg and pulls it from the other. The sting returns.


Ivan rubs some sort of oil onto my inner thighs and I feel a warming sensation. Once the oil has heated my thighs, he begins to massage them. It feels good and bad at the same time. He pushes in deep making me jump.


“That’s it. You must take the pain. Only when you become comfortable with pain, then you will grow,” he says, digging his fingers deeper into my flesh. I’m sure they will be bruised by morning.


For the rest of the time, I breathe in slowly, and let Ivan work his magic. After a while, it feels good. Especially when his fingers are inches from my center. I hope he’s not looking at it. This is probably all clinical to him. I hope.


“That’s it. Enjoy it. Let your body relax.”


By the time he’s finished, I feel more like a jellyfish. All my limbs are lethargic. I could just fall asleep. Maybe Ivan isn’t so bad after all.


“You are finished. Be prepared for your next lesson.”


“Yes, Ivan. Thank you.”


“Don’t thank me. Thank Mr. Sinclair.”


“Yes,” I say, and slowly move from the table. Ivan doesn’t walk me out, so I find my way to the door and step outside. Hunter is waiting in the circle drive.


***


Ava has my dinner ready when I walk in. I wanted to ask Hunter more about his sister. Maybe I’ll try after we get to know each other better.


There’s still no sign of Ash, and I have no idea when he will come back.


I eat Ava’s delicious dinner; baked salmon drizzled in a sweet sauce with seasoned vegetables. I don’t think I have ever eaten so healthy before. Of course, there was no way I could ever afford it. And I was just thankful to get a hot meal when I was in foster care. But I’ve had my share of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese. The popular meal from every foster care home I was in.


I take my plate to the kitchen, hoping I can get it washed before Ava comes in. But no such luck. She stands there waiting for my dirty plate.


“Please, let me clean up after myself, Ava. After all, you’ve done all the cooking. I feel I should help.”


“Nonsense, Miss McIntire. This is my job.”


“Well, okay. But please, call me Cinder,” I say with a pleading smile. I’ve been called Miss McIntire so many times, I feel like an old lady.


“That I can do, Cinder. I hope everything went well with your appointment with Dr. Morris, and gymnastics with Coach Ivan?”


“Yes, both were very helpful. Thanks for asking. Are you sure there isn’t anything I can help you with?”


“No. Plus, it’s getting late. I’m sure you have homework, and Mr. Sinclair has instructed that your bedtime is ten p.m.”


I glance at the clock on the wall. It’s already 8:00, and I do have homework. “Okay. And thanks again for the wonderful meal.”


“You are welcome. Your breakfast will be waiting after your swim lessons in the morning.”


“I have swim lessons, again?” I ask, sounding a bit whiny.


“Mondays and Tuesdays. Gymnastics on Mondays and Wednesdays.”


“Got it. Thank you,” I say, and head upstairs to my room. I’m already exhausted from all the physical work I’ve done today. I just hope I can stay awake to get my homework done. Unlike gymnastics, I am not looking forward to swim lessons in the morning. Jumping into a pool when just waking up is not pleasant in the least. Even if it is a heated pool. It’s not like I can’t swim. Is Ash planning on me swimming for the Olympics, or something? But then he did say it would help with my…breath control. Does he plan on…choking me? How far do his dark limits go?


Red. Just Remember to say Red.


I take a shower before getting dressed for bed and doing my homework. It’s when I get in the shower that I feel the soreness between my legs.


I finish and dress in one of the nightgowns I pull out from the dresser. It doesn’t cover much, and so I put on a robe. I don’t see my backpack and then remember that I left it downstairs next to the door. I was in such a rush after Ava told me I was getting a complete physical.

It’s dark when I walk down the stairs, and it looks like Ava has left. I’m the only one here. It’s sort of creepy. Is Ash sitting in the dark watching me, again? Just to make sure, I turn on the lights. No one is here.


I glance out the window, no cars are in the drive. But I want to make sure I’m alone and walk out to the garage. I know Hunter was driving Ash’s car, so it’s not here either. I wonder where Hunter lives. I haven’t seen any other houses nearby. It’s like Ava and Hunter are Stepford servants, popping in when needed and then disappearing.


And…so what does that make me?


I assume Ash had Hunter take him to the airport.


Instead of starting my homework right away, I decide to do a little investigating of my own. Ash was so upset when I found that picture of him and the baby. Why? Why can’t he talk to me about it?


Just to make sure no one is here; I walk around the house and check each room. Since the house is mostly an open concept, with high ceilings and few walls, I can see I’m alone. There are a pair of double doors at the end of the hall. I’ve never been down that far. Only the large great room, the kitchen, my room, Ash’s room, the torture room, and the indoor pool.

When I reach the doors, I turn the handle. It opens, and I’m surprised it’s not locked. The door opens with a slow steady creak. It’s dark; I step in and feel the wall for a switch. My hand brushes along a plate of several switches. I flip one, and a low light comes on. I turn to see the room with its warm glow. It’s another large room, one with a desk, bookshelves, and a baby grand piano. Does Ash play the piano?


I walk slowly around the room, my eyes scan through the low light. The place smells…musty. Like no one ever comes in here. I walk over to the piano, my fingers glide gently across the keys, careful not to press them.


I look up at the bookshelves and wonder if there are the same type of books that are kept in the great room. Walking over, I read some of the titles and see they are more of the classics. I look for another Treasure Island but don’t see one.


Turning my head, I spot picture frames on a table next to the wall on the other side of the room. The light is low, and I can’t make out who is in the pictures. With the few steps it takes to walk to the table, I see they are family portraits. A picture of a young Ash, maybe junior high. Something about him in the pictures seems…off. He looks angry with no smile. His eyes seem to glare into the camera, like whoever was taking it, was forcing him to pose for the picture.


I move to the next picture and see one with an older gentleman. He looks like an older Ash, posing in his business suit. It must be Ash’s father. I then come to a picture of a young woman. She’s very pretty, with long blonde hair, and full lips, and looks to be seducing the camera. Who is she? She looks young, but how old is the picture? Could she be Ash’s sister?


I’m about to pick up the picture of the girl to study it closer when my eyes catch the next photograph. It’s the little boy that was in the picture with Ash. The baby boy. His smile is heart-melting, and his eyes shine with happiness. Again, those eyes are the same as Ash’s.

Where are these people, now? Ash never talks about his family. And he never talks about his feelings, either. So much of him is a mystery. I want to know all that I can about him. I want to reach into his dark mind and find out why he is the way he is. What happened to him?

I know the only room in this house that will tell me…is downstairs. Downstairs in that torture room, I feel I will find my answer. As much as I hate the thought, I turn to leave, shutting off the light, and close the door.


My hand hesitates above the handle to the door that leads downstairs. I take in a deep breath and down the stairs I go. Each time I’m down here, I learn something new, like the boxing and exam room. It’s like Ash’s private playground.


I flip on the light and right away see all of Ash’s instruments of torture. I shudder thinking of him using them on me. Then I remind myself how much I’ve enjoyed his sex games. But I know he is only testing my limits right now.


I force myself to go over and start looking through the drawers of the cabinets that line the wall. I open one but only find more sex toys. I pull open several others and find more instruments of his pleasure. How many does one man need?


One drawer doesn’t open, and I find that it’s locked. The contents of that drawer likely hold some answers. I have to know what is in there. I pull and pull, hoping that it’s only stuck. I’m afraid I will break it. Then I will be punished, I’m sure. Where would the key be? I think of Ash’s room upstairs, the nightstand beside his bed.


Without thinking, I head upstairs, and up the second stairs to Ash’s room. Walking in, I see the white, silky pillow he had me sleep on. I shake my head and rush to the nightstand. I find everything neat and orderly when I open the drawer. I’m careful to leave each item as I found it. I don’t find any key and move to the other nightstand. The Treasure Island book that I found is inside. I flip through the pages, looking for the picture I found earlier. It’s not there. Placing the book back inside, I feel around for a key. Nothing. I must be crazy to think I can find one small key in this huge house.


I look over at his closet and get up to further my search. I open the double doors to a men’s department store. Each suit is hung in a color-coordinated fashion. Shelves of shoes line one wall. The place is an entire room itself. In the middle sits a built-in dresser that looks like a kitchen island. More drawers are built inside it. I pull open each drawer finding watches, folded ties, socks, and bottles of his one cologne, Clive Christian No. 1. The man is obsessed with fine expensive things and order.


Wanting to smell his scent, I pick up a bottle of his $895 cologne and open it. I inhale his scent, and instantly my pheromones are trembling for him. How can a man who is so controlling, so obsessive, so dark, make me addicted to him? Everything about him says run. But I can’t. I need inside his head.


I place the cologne back into its respective spot when I notice something shoved under the black velvet lining. I press on the spot. It feels like a…key. This is it. It has to be. I press from the top and push the key down, hoping it will dislodge somewhere from underneath the velvet lining. It starts to make an appearance from under the velvet. I grab the exposed part of the key and pull it out from underneath. As soon as I have it, I waste no time running downstairs and then down to the torture room.


My heart is racing as I insert the key into the drawer and turn. It clicks, releasing the drawer. I’m in.


I find a box and pull it out. I carefully remove the lid and look inside. Photographs. But of only one person. Ash.


My fingers tremble as I begin to pull them out of the box. I’m shocked at what I see. Ash naked. Seeing Ash naked is not what shocks me. It’s how young he is. He has to be under the age of eighteen. Who took these?


I don’t want to, but I look through the pile of pictures and find one of him between someone’s legs, looking up at the camera. He looks so sad. Then the next picture shows him laying on this person’s leg, and looking up like he’s begging. I pull out the next picture. The toned stomach of a woman, Ash’s head is between her legs, and I can tell what he’s doing. He’s pleasuring her with his tongue.


He's so young. Who is with him?


I pick up another. Ash is tied to a chair, naked with a blindfold on. His arms are behind the chair, they look to be tied, also. Then I notice his hard erection. He likes what is being done to him. I can’t take it; but look at one more picture. He’s tied to a bed, naked and hard.

I throw the pictures back into the box and place the lid back on. Once the box is back in the drawer, I lock it.


My heart is racing, and I know I must get the key back into its hiding spot. I rush up the stairs, shut the door, and then rush up the stairs to his room. The closet is still open and I find the drawer with his expensive cologne. I do my best to shove the key back under the velvet. My fingers smooth the key back into place, the shape where it once was. I close the drawer and then rush out of his closet, carefully closing the doors. I then leave his room, close the door behind me, and head back to my room. My homework is still downstairs in the backpack. But my mind is totally in another place.


***


The Colors of Ash © 2024 Gina A. Jones rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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angie jones
30 de jan.
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I was for sure thinking that Ash was going to appear at any moment.

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Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
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dashafehrenbacher
30 de jan.
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I was waiting for Ash to appear any minute. I bet he will know what she did.

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Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
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shannon Cheripka
30 de jan.
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I was on pins and needles reading this chapter!!!!!

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Gina A. Jones
Gina A. Jones
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