Oh, I’d fucked up. I’d fucked up bad.
The camera I’d discreetly placed in Aly’s room showed her standing several feet from her bed. Her light blue scrubs were rumpled after her marathon shift at the hospital, and strands of hair had slipped free from her braid to frame her face in loose waves. Her dark eyes were huge, an expression of pure disbelief on her face as she stared at the mask I’d left for her.
She lifted the gun she held, bracing it with both hands as she looked around the room. “Is anyone in here?” she called out, loud and clear.
I’d never been so attracted to someone in my life. She looked ready to shoot anything that moved. Thank fuck I hadn’t stayed, or I’d probably be bleeding out on her floor right now.
I quickly went over the entire night in my head, searching for any trace evidence I might have left behind. I’d been so careful while there that I didn’t think there was anything for the cops to find when Aly eventually snapped out of it and called them. Even when I took off my shirt to film the video, I’d left the balaclava on the whole time, so there wouldn’t be so much as a stray hair to give me away. I’d even taken the time to relock her back door and cover my footsteps in the melting snow.
I didn’t put the camera in her room to watch her change or sleep like some sick fuck, though, now that I thought about it…
Wait, no. I needed to stop right the hell there. That road led nowhere good. This invasion of privacy was bad enough without adding sexual predator to my list of crimes. The real reason I put the camera in her room was to gauge her reaction and learn whether or not she meant what she said in all her comments. Was she actually into the same dark shit that I was, or was she just a tourist?
Judging from the look of open horror on her face, she was the latter. Which meant I needed to start implementing my exit plan. I had orders to cancel, plans to scrap, and cover-up work to do. I’d taken every safety precaution I could think of to hide my tracks and obscure my digital footprint. I knew of only three hackers in the US capable of tracing my steps and maybe, if they were lucky and avoided all the traps I’d left in my wake, finding me. Two of them worked for the NSA, and another one was currently in jail, so I felt safe in my work for now. Plus, I doubted the local cops would go so far as to call in the feds over a run-of-the-mill home invasion in which nothing was destroyed or stolen.
Even my social media account was secure, or as secure as it could be. Anyone who hacked it would be led straight to a mid-thirtysomething dad in Utah with a secret mask kink. He was a real guy named Carl with an actual mask fetish and a matching clandestine thirst trap account his wife didn’t even know about. Our tattoos weren’t the same, and he filmed different content, but the amount of work it would take for cops to figure all that out would give me ample time to cover the rest of my footsteps and disappear offline.
Sorry, Carl, but sacrifices had to be made.
I should probably feel worse for the guy than I did, but, like boundaries, empathy was hard for me. Maybe that’s where I’d gone wrong with Aly. I’d been so excited about the prospect of living out our shared fantasy that I hadn’t stopped to consider things from her perspective. What would it be like for a woman living alone to find out a stranger had invaded her home?
I popped up a second tab and split my screen, watching Aly duck down and look under her bed, gun leading the way while I typed in a quick internet search.
The results were not good. Yup, this is where I’d fucked up. According to Google, Aly was probably terrified, angry, and felt like her home was compromised, violated even, turning from a sanctuary to yet another place where she felt unsafe.
How did I make up for such a colossal misstep? Roses? Men in movies and TV were always sending roses. That didn’t seem like enough, though. Maybe if I sent a lot of them?
I popped open another tab, pausing to watch Aly clear the rest of her room like a woman who knew what she was doing. It was hot. Despite her apparent fear, she moved confidently and competently, like she had formal training. And maybe she did. Maybe that self-defense course she took had taught her how to do this.
I made a mental note to hack into their cameras and check as I bought out a local floral shop using someone else’s money. Theft, I didn’t feel so bad about, especially when my victim was a wealthy criminal who’d recently tried to steal millions of dollars from one of my company’s clients. I’d rebuffed their infantile attempt and slid right into their own system unseen, learning all sorts of interesting things about them, including their credit card information.
Onscreen, Aly finished clearing her room and bathroom and then strode out the door. I cranked my speakers as loud as they would go, hoping to hear if she called the cops while out of sight. Several minutes passed in near silence, with only the soft sounds of movement to tell me she was working her way through the rest of the small house.
I cursed myself for only placing one camera instead of two. What was she doing? How was she feeling? Was there any way to come back from this, or had I lost my chance with her already?
“Are you okay, Fred?” I heard her ask, and I immediately perked up, wondering who the fuck she was talking to.
Anger roared through me out of nowhere as I waited for Fred’s response. There was already another guy in her place? Had she planned to meet him there after work? I didn’t hear any doors open or shut, and –
“He didn’t hurt you while he was here, did he?” she asked.
A soft meow echoed out of my speakers.
“You were trying to warn me when I came home, weren’t you?”
Oh. Fred was her cat. My jealousy deflated, and I unclenched my hands from where they had a death grip on the arms of my computer chair. Wow, okay. This knee-jerk rage was new. And probably not a good thing. I’d have to keep an eye on it. I might not want to hurt Aly or her cat, but the thought of another guy in there with her had sent me straight to kill-him-with-knives.
My speakers went quiet, and I sat straining my ears as I waited for some sign that Aly was, I don’t know, okay? Or pissed? Or scared? Anything, really. Not seeing her was a problem after all the nights I’d watched her through the hospital’s cameras this week. She wore every emotion on her face, and I’d spent my sleepless hours learning each one.
Finally, she walked back into view carrying Fred in one arm and a dining room chair in the other, sporting a look of sheer determination. She set Fred on her bed and shut the bedroom door, bracing the chair beneath the knob and barricading herself inside.
I wouldn’t be canceling that anonymous order after all if a chair was what she resorted to in order to protect herself. She needed all the home defense equipment I’d bought her. Why didn’t she already have it? Her neighborhood had a relatively low crime rate, and she could clearly defend herself, but didn’t I just prove how easy it was for someone truly determined to break into her house? I knew it wasn’t about money. Her mother’s life insurance policy had paid for nursing school and most of the downpayment on her home, and she made a respectable income thanks to her salary and all the overtime she pulled at the hospital. Had she merely grown complacent?
Maybe I’d done her a favor by breaking in and showing her the error of her ways.
I grimaced. Yikes. No to any more thoughts like that. I was obviously trying to rationalize what I’d done and lessen my guilt over it, which I shouldn’t, because if Google had taught me anything tonight, it was that I’d royally fucked up.
That revelation was confirmed when Aly strode to her dresser and swapped her gun for the wine she’d left there earlier, chugging it like a beer at a frat party. The glass shook in her fingers as she set it back down, and I cringed. Because…fuck. Her fear turned me on. I’d been avoiding acknowledging how aroused I was, but the way my dick strained against my gym shorts as Aly visibly trembled was impossible to ignore.
Okay, so I didn’t want to hurt her, but I did want to scare her. Potentially troubling but far from the worst-case scenario. And really, didn’t that confirm something I’d already known about myself? For fuck’s sake, I regularly covered my chest in stage blood and held a butcher knife while sitting in the dark and staring into a camera like I just got done slaughtering an entire family.
I got off on all the comments from people telling me they were both turned on and slightly terrified by my content. Those comments stirred something inside me, made me feel powerful and feral and dangerous, like the world was mine for the taking. The fact that there were so many others into my specific kinks also normalized my desires. I didn’t feel wrong for liking mask play or like I toed the line of dangerous territory that skirted too close to what my dad had done.
This felt like it was all for me. And that’s why I wanted Aly to be all for me. Not just because she was a beautiful woman with a mask kink, who regularly propositioned my alter ego, but because, technically, she’d stalked me first. Or she’d tried to if the search history I’d discovered when I hacked into her laptop was anything to go by.
How do I find someone from social media?
Who is the faceless man from TikTok?
The faceless man’s other social media accounts.
Is there AI software to find people based on their tattoos?
See? She’d started it. And yes, I was aware that argument wouldn’t hold up in a court of law, but this was the hill I chose to die on – the belief that maybe Aly was a little fucked up too. Just enough that she might hesitate before reporting me. And if I were really lucky, enough to play along with all the things I had planned for her.
My attention returned to the video feed as she scooped her phone up and sat on the edge of her bed. The camera I’d installed was a genius little device. It mimicked her phone charger, with a working USB port and everything. While the blank white space above it looked innocuous enough, it was a film screen with a wide-angle camera hidden behind it that was damn near undetectable without a specialty device detector. I’d swapped it out for her actual charger just before leaving, checking on my phone to see if it was up and running before I slipped into the night and triggered another blackout to hide my escape.
I tapped a few buttons and zoomed in on Aly’s phone. She was on my social media page, probably getting ready to either block me or read me the riot act through a DM.
“I knew it,” she said as she scrolled. “Bed. Couch. Wall.”
I started to frown before I realized she was talking about the backgrounds in my videos. I filmed them all in my bedroom while Tyler was either fast asleep or out of the apartment, and those were the three locations I used. Until Aly’s bedroom. Had she noticed the difference?
She ran a hand over her face and then turned to look at Fred, who sat by her side purring so loud I could hear it over the speakers. “So, he’s probably not a serial killer who uses the app to lure his victims.”
I reared back. Was that what she’d thought? Fuck. That was the absolute last thing I wanted. How did I fix this? I was half tempted to send her a DM explaining myself, but how would that work? Hey, Aly, it’s me, the man who broke into your house. I was just watching you through the camera I hid in your room, and I wanted to let you know you are correct. I am not, in fact, a serial killer.
I knew I should have argued with my therapist when she said it was time to wean me off the anti-psychotics. Clearly, they’d been necessary if the first thing I did once they were out of my system was start stalking someone.
I lifted my hand and was about to kill the video feed when Aly turned on her bed and finally looked at the mask. My finger hovered over the button as her expression shifted into something I hadn’t seen before. Her eyes half-lidded, and she bit her full bottom lip in a way that had me leaning forward in my chair. A pretty flush stained her cheeks pink. Was she about to cry?
She glanced sideways at her cat. “Only one way to find out.” Before I could zoom back in on what she was doing, she tapped something out on her phone, fingers flying over the screen before hitting a final key, followed by a swoosh sound like she’d just sent an email or a text.
My phone chimed on my desk.
Oh, shit. Had she DMed me?
Carefully, like it might rear up and bite me, I lifted my phone. A notification flashed across it, reading, “User @aly.aly.oxen.free would like to send you a message.” My heart pounded against my ribs as I unlocked the screen and opened her message.
This might sound completely insane, but did you break into my house tonight, film a video in my bedroom, and leave a mask behind?
Fuck. How did I respond? If I said yes, it could eventually get held against me in a court of law. If I said no, I’d be gaslighting her. Was there some way to play it cool? Answer her question with a question that neither confirmed nor denied her suspicions?
What would you do if I said yes? I asked. There. That seemed safe enough.
Onscreen, her app pinged, and I had a front-row seat as she read and reacted to my reply. She bit her lower lip again, sucking in a breath as she pulled her phone close. A few loose strands of hair fell over her shoulder, obscuring her profile from my sight.
“Holy fucking shit, he answered,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. “He never answers anyone. Ever.”
Turn right a little so I can see you better, I almost demanded, but that would give the camera away, and now that I had her talking, I wasn’t ready to have the feed cut off.
She started typing again, and a second later, my phone chimed.
That depends, she said.
On what, Aly? I typed back.
She sucked in another breath, and I grinned. So she liked it when I used her name. Did it make her feel special, knowing that the man she’d openly lusted after online, who notoriously never responded to comments or DMs, had finally chosen to speak to someone and that someone was her? If so, I’d type and say her name every chance she gave me.
On what your intentions are, she said.
I sat back in my chair. My intentions. How to respond? There were so many options, so many fantasies I’d played out in my mind with her already. There was the one of waking her up in the middle of the night with a knife to her throat, but instead of turning the blade on her, I slid the handle between her legs and used it to edge her to the brink of insanity, teasing her but never giving her what she wanted despite how much she begged and sobbed for release. Or the one where I kidnapped her in the hospital parking garage, drove her into the middle of the woods and told her to run as far as she could because what I planned to do when I caught her would make even the devil weep.
But she probably wasn’t ready for any of that right now, and she might still be thinking about calling the cops, so I settled for taunting her instead.
My intentions? Oh, Aly. Why would I tell you what they were when your previous comments have led me to believe that fear is half the fun for you?
I lifted my eyes just in time to watch Aly drop her phone on the comforter and place her head in her hands. “I need so much more therapy than I’m currently getting,” she said.
I grinned, because same.
Fred meowed and butted his head against her arm.
“Fur therapy isn’t going to cut it this time, buddy,” she said, scooping him up. “And I’m sorry for this, but I need to do grown-up human things right now, and you can’t be in here.”
As I watched, she strode over to her en suite bathroom and set Fred on the tile floor, apologizing again as she shut him inside. I waited with bated breath as she returned to the bed and picked up her phone.
How can I trust that you wouldn’t hurt me? she asked.
You can’t, Aly. I’m a stranger on the internet.
She let out a sharp exhale and shook her phone. “Don’t you think I know that? I just need some sort of reassurance that I’m not about to be headline news.”
I should probably feel bad for her, but, just like her fear, her obvious aggravation only turned me on. It’d been a long time since I’d made a woman this frustrated. Usually, I preferred their frustration to be sexual, winding them higher and higher until they finally snapped, but with Aly, I got a thrill from even this more benign form of antagonism. There was something about seeing such a beautiful woman turn feisty that really got me going. Maybe it was the challenge. I liked women with some fight in them. Ones who didn’t put up with bullshit, spoke their minds, and could take care of themselves.
Not that I had anything against meeker women; they just weren’t for me. In fact, they downright terrified me because they’d been Dad’s preferred prey. I’d never even dated one, let alone slept with one, on the off chance that I shared his proclivities. I stuck to strong, borderline-aggressive women instead. Ones who had a better chance of fighting me off if I ever… Well, I’d rather not think about that while Aly still filled my computer screen.
Seeing her all riled up made me feel like rewarding her, despite my instincts screaming at me to be careful. I pulled up the second half of the video I’d shot in her room, the half that would get me banned from social media if I ever posted it, and before I could question myself, I uploaded it into our message thread and hit send, acting on instinct alone.
Aly clapped a hand over her mouth when she opened it, her voice muffled when she groaned out, “Oh my fucking God.”
I leaned back in my chair and waited, wondering what she’d do with the video. It was another test. Most likely, she was about to call the cops, but on the off chance she didn’t, she was about to take the first step toward becoming mine.
“Is his…?” she said.
Hand sliding into his pants? Yes, it was, and I was absolutely going to hell for taking a video of myself stroking my dick to full arousal in her bedroom.
Her head fell forward, and a low moan slipped from her lips. Her eyes were half-lidded again when she raised them, cheeks pink, and suddenly, I realized what this expression was: lust.
Aly was fucked up too. Hallelujah.
She reached out with her free hand and propped my mask against her pillows. Once it was settled, she stood and double-checked the chair braced against her door, ensuring it was secure before she went to her dresser, opened the top drawer, and pulled out a vibrator.
I needed to kill the video feed. Not ten minutes ago, I told myself the line in the sand was watching Aly sleep or change. Spying on her while she masturbated was way over it, wrong on so many levels that I – holy shit, there went her pants. I caught the briefest glimpse of a well-manicured triangle of hair before she turned and…
Look. At. Her. Ass. I wanted to slap it. Hard enough to leave a mark. And then I wanted to bite it. Turn her around in my lap and watch it bounce as I fucked her from behind. God bless whatever glute exercises she did at the gym because they were paying off.
No. This was wrong. I wasn’t going to watch Aly pleasure herself to a video I’d sent her. And I definitely wasn’t snaking a hand into my shorts and choking the base of my dick.
Stop that. Bad hand. We’re not doing this.
Onscreen, Aly laid back on her bed with her spread legs facing my mask, her phone held aloft with one hand. She clicked the vibrator on with her other one and, without any foreplay whatsoever, positioned it at the apex of her thighs and slammed it all the way home, her back arching, a half-tortured, half-pleasured cry ringing out over my speakers.
I slapped the button to cut the video feed, and my screen went black. For good measure, I shoved my computer chair back and strode away from my desk, stopping in front of my bedroom windows. My hands shook, and I clasped them behind my head as I stared out at the rising sun. Fucking hell, that had been close. The sight of Aly’s arched back was burned into my retinas, and her tortured cry had been far too sweet to my ears. If I’d watched for even a second longer, I never would have found the willpower to stop.
It was slightly reassuring that I still had some morals. Aly might be masturbating to a video I’d sent her, but she hadn’t consented to me watching her do it. And sure, she hadn’t consented to me breaking into her house, filming a thirst trap inside her bedroom, sending her a sexually suggestive video, or watching her since she got home, but the line had to be somewhere, and sexual predation seemed like a pretty good place to draw it. No matter how much the darkest parts of my mind protested that what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
I was already becoming unhealthily obsessed with Aly.
There was no way this would end well for either of us if I didn’t hold myself in check, but now that I had her within my sight, I couldn’t seem to stop myself, and all my carefully laid plans of taking it slow and easing her into things were going up in flames.
I needed her, and whether she was ready or not, I was about to put her to the ultimate test.
I just hoped it didn’t end up with either of us traumatized or dead.
Copyright © 2023 by Navessa Allen
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.