The rope had twisted Trent’s neck to the right and smashed his cheek against the damp picnic table where he lay alone in the dark. He tried to move his wrists again, but they were stuck fast and throbbing. His legs, still sore from the race, were firmly tied across the knees and ankles and held impossibly straight. The ropes across his chest and waist were so tight that his back pressed against the rough planks beneath him where just that morning he had sat and smoked a cigarette. Trent ached for that freedom—a deep drag on a cigarette would be off-the-hook. Then again, the rope irritating his nipples made it hard to even take a normal breath.

He rolled his eyes upward, detecting only a faint light from the bathhouse. Straight ahead, partially obscured by the rope crushing his face, was an infinite black hole. Trent closed his eyes, imagining all twenty-four girls staring from their cabin windows, except he couldn’t see a damn thing, and all of them were most likely asleep—at least they better be.

“You won’t get away with this,” he said, but not loudly. He didn’t want any of the guys to detect the panic in his voice. He assumed they were close, visually dissecting him. “You got the alpha! Show’s over! How long does this have to last?”

Silence answered. Crickets chirped in the distance.

The first mosquito landed on his left shin.