Tarzan held himself tense. He was aware of being taut .. in every muscle of his body. Stood stiff, stood in mounting anticipation. He’d been threatened with five blows on his backside. Why the hell didn’t they get on with it? What was the wait?
The first three had followed on, quick after each other. Enough time to catch his breath .. just. Then that whoosh of air. A hard slap on a rock-hard muscled arse. The force knocking a foot forward. The heat flashing down his legs. The pain welling in his chest. He’d trapped it in his throat. Not giving these bastards that satisfaction. As long as he could hold out.
Tarzan had taken beatings enough. He knew he could stand up to pain. And if pain defeated him, his stubborn spirit recovered fast. But that rubber cosh … it had a particular force.
The pain seemed to slash open the skin on his muscled backside. The pain just gushed out. Like an out-rush of blood. But he was not bleeding. His legs .. muscular, powerful, they’d carry him running for hours ….. Yet three strikes and they were trembling. Shaking with that pain.
Five. That had been the promise. So what the hell were they playing at? He glowered at the man who’d dared to order this. That Whitney .. stood in front, to the side so that the fresh slaves had an unblocked view. Whitney stared him back. Expressionless. Tarzan could not read anything on his face. No clue why the final two strikes had not fallen.
He glanced at the slaves, his audience. Seated with their bowls of stew. Most had finished. All had their attention on Tarzan. Stood with the heat of those blows burning off his face. His body blotched red as flesh fought to contain the pain. But nothing on their faces gave him a clue. What the hell were they playing at? This long wait.
Tarzan held himself taut. He was in no doubt. The other two were coming. They were playing on his nerves. Keeping him waiting. Nervousness as much part of the attack as the strike. Building the fear and tension in the watching slaves. Playing on Tarzan’s nerves.
He was holding his breath. Tarzan realised the tension had got to him. Every sinew in his body tight with anticipation. He made himself take a deep breath. He filled his chest, his tight belly sinking in as his lungs took in air and released the tension in his frame.
Tarzan had almost been on the point of giving in to the temptation. He’d almost turned around to see. Then he heard it. As if the sight of his relaxing had triggered the attack. Footsteps. Running. The thug was taking a run at him. Putting momentum behind his bulk. Amassing force behind the cosh. Faster. Closer. Weapon raised. Tarzan tensed.
The brute was taking a run-up. Putting speed behind his bulk. Combining everything into a crippling force. Pain slammed into Tarzan. His hips smashed forwards. The momentum threw his head back, his body rigid. Shudders of pummelled pain fleeing up his back. Hands clenched, mouth thrown wide. Heat burst out on his face. A loud grunt snorted onto the air around his head.
Shock now threw his head forward as the ropes on his wrists clutched him back. Digging pain into his armpits like a sharp knife. As much as the pain, it was the sheer force. The sheer power behind that cosh that drove the wind from his chest. His breath flooded out. Exiting in a pained cry. Shuddering with the jagged pains that ricocheted within his body.
The thug with the cosh must have thought he was on a winner. Where there was one cry, another had to follow. This time no long wind-up. Tarzan had thrown a pain-flooded look of anger at Whitney. Furious with himself for letting go that cry .. that sign of weakness. Anger fuelling his determination .. fighting himself back to his belligerent self.
And already steps were racing back to him. Ominous thuds of military boots pounded in the dirt. Weapon ready, arm held back. A whoosh of air heralded the strike.
Claws of fire ripped across his arse. A tongue of fire whooshed over his backside. Muscles in his lower back convulsed in a shock of flame. Thrown forward, back arched, ripped muscles in his belly contorted with the shock.
Stunned by the searing shock, Tarzan’s chest flooded with fiery pain. It exploded up through his throat and burst on the night air. The body thrown forward .. then suddenly snatched back. The ropes on Tarzan’s arms viciously yanked his upper body back. Twisting the torso. Releasing a tortured cry .. exiting in a blistering swathe of flaming pain.