“And it just keeps reeling me in, further and further…” ~ Under the Covers

So, here we are in episode 3 of the Flesh Cartel, Choices.  In this episode, we see what happens immediately after the Auction.  As per Nikolai’s instructions, Dougie is put into complete isolation, in total darkness, and is completely sensory deprived for days on end.  Mat, on the other hand, is provided with some more luxuries, like food and a bed, but is still tortured to hell and back and back again.  I’m not really sure which one is worse.  For Mat, it really doesn’t look like there is an end in sight at all…not that what the reader has learned about his apparent future would lead one to think there will ever be an end to his sadistic treatment.  But ever the eternal optimist, I hold out my hope.

As with the previous episodes, the cruelty and torture pervade and endure.  And as disgusted as I still get (thankfully, I’m not desensitized yet), I cannot stop reading.  In this episode, Haimowitz and Belleau provide the reader with such interesting insight to Nikolai, the brothers’ buyer and “trainer.”  He is such a fascinating dichotomy.  He has to be cruel to Mat so as to prepare him for his ultimate master.  And yet for Dougie, he has taken such a liking to him and sees such a perfect sub in him, that he provides him with care and, dare I say it, loving gestures.  And while all of his actions are egoistic and self-serving, we see that he WANTS to be caring and tender to Dougie.  While part of me wants to like him for those tidbits of kindness, another part of me wants to hate him for his manipulations.

Added to the paradox that is Nikolai, we see in individual exchanges with both Mat and Dougie the he provides them with “choices.”  He lets them know that they have a choice in how things will happen, and he gives them this breadcrumb of hope that they will actually have some say and control in their lives.  He tells them that he won’t force them to do things that they don’t want to do.  However, those “choices” come with consequences.  If they choose wisely, the consequences can be great.  If they choose poorly, the consequences can be equally as tortuous as anything they’ve experienced previously, albeit in different ways.  So, really, what choices do they have?  As we got a glimpse of some of the brothers’ choices once in Nikolai’s care, we also saw some consequences.  It appears that there will more of the same in the next episode, “Consequences,” and here is another reader waiting on the edge of my seat for its release.

*ARC provided by publisher

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