Opening my eyes slowly, I groaned as pain radiated from all over my body. My vision was blurry but I managed to see a figure towering over me. I froze when I felt something sharp digging into my neck.
My wide eyes snapped back at the man in front of me and began slightly shaking. This is what I wanted to avoid.
The man scanned my face as if looking for any signs of me lying. He lowered his knife second later and got up. I let out a breath I didn't even know I held as I closed my eyes in relief for a second. Sitting up I touched my neck trying to feel if he managed to cut me.
“What are you doing all alone in the forest,” the man that held the knife to my throat said coldly.
Then he added, ”for all I know, you could be working for the werewolves.” This statement snapped me out of my trance.
“I’m running away from them. I escaped” I said and hoped they would trust me and didn’t kill me then and there. He held my gaze moments longer again than looked at one of the other men as if communicating.
I felt movement next to me .“Can you stand up?”
“Thanks” I mumbled as I stood up patting my bum, legs and arms free from the dirt.
He gestured for me to follow the first man and we took off deeper into the forest.
Few minutes of quietly walking I found myself asking “where are you taking me?”
One of the other guys replied from behind me “To the camp.” This guy had light brown hair and brown eyes and was not as tall as the other two guys.
I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. “There are camps? You mean human camps?”
Blondie next to me replied ”Yes. One of many. But we are nowhere as strong as werewolves or vampires to fight them.”
I was surprised. I had no idea such camps existed. It could be a new beginning for me. I just hoped they won't decide to kill me, thinking I spy for the werewolves.
“What’s your name?” I heard Blondie beside me asking and snapping me out of my thoughts.
“Thomas” then he pointed to the guy with light brown hair “that’s my brother John, and that’s Paul” pointing at the last guy with red hair and green eyes. Lastly, he pointed at the guy with black hair and grey eyes. ” That’s Luca. He is the son of our leader.”
"Now that you learned my name, does that mean you let me live?" I said with hope and anticipation.
"That's up to our leader to decide" answered Thomas.
We walked in silence through the thick forest for about two more hours when we reached the high stone walls of the camp. I began to play with my fingers and my mouth felt dry. The closer we got, the more nervous I felt. Once we reached the gates we were let in by another older man. He eyed me warily as I passed.
My eyes widened as I watched the camp in awe. Everyone was free, living as normal as possible. There was a market in the middle of the square, people selling food, tools and weapons.
Once we reached the large house it was only me, Thomas and Luca. The other two went their own way after we got into the camp.
When we entered the house it felt cosy. We were standing in the living room. A large black sofa was in the middle of the room with a wooden coffee table. Pictures of the family that lived there were hanged on the walls. In the far end of the room, I saw an entrance that looked like to be a kitchen.
“Hey, you’re back.” I heard a feminine voice. I snapped my head towards the woman walking towards us. She was young in her early twenties. She had very dark long straight hair wearing them in a high ponytail. Big round grey eyes adorned her face with a small button nose and small round lips. She was a little bit taller than me. Who am I kidding, everyone was taller than me at only 5′1.
She walked over to Thomas and hooked her arms around his neck. He moved his hands on her waist and lowered his face down to meet hers, kissing her. She had to stand on her tiptoes to be able to kiss. I averted my gaze to the wooden floor, feeling like just standing there I was interrupting.
“Where is father” I heard Luca say.
"In his office,” she said after pulling away from Thomas. Then she looked at me, her eyes widened slightly but then she smiled warmly and said ” Hi, I’m Freya.”
I awkwardly smiled back “I’m Reine”
Luca turned his attention to me ” let’s go. Father will want to see you.”
With that, he started walking up the stairs and I quickly followed. They all looked friendly apart from when I first met the guys in the forest.
As I was walking, drowned in my thoughts and watching the floor I bumped into Luca’s back. He abruptly stopped and I nearly fell. Thankfully, I gained my balance quickly and managed to stay on my feet.
There at the office table sat an older man, probably in his sixties, Luca had a lot of his facial features. His hair was laced with grey, he had short black neatly trimmed beard laced with grey as well, his eyes were light greyish green. He had wrinkles around his eyes and forehead and was about the same height as Luca.
"I found her in the forest,” Luca said as he sat down on one of the chairs across from his father. His father glanced curiously at me "sit down" he smiled as he gestured to the chair next to Luca. He looked intimidating but not threatening. Sitting down I kept fiddling with my fingers and biting the inside of my mouth feeling nervous. He asked me why I was in the forest alone and I told him everything, from being a slave to how I escaped. I left out being raped multiple times. I didn’t want their pity.
His father studied my face and body language as I was talking, the same way Luca did when I met him. He must have decided I was telling the truth because then he smiled at me warmly ”I’m Chris, you’re welcome to stay in this camp.” And then offered me his hand to shake. I stood up and took it as relief washed over me.
“I’m Reine, and thank you,” I said with a shaky voice.
”Am I free to go?“ I asked walking down the stairs behind Luca.
”Yes” then he added, “are you staying in the camp?”
"I’d like to, but I’ve nowhere to stay. I guess I need to figure something out.” as his grey eyes bored into mine, something flashed in his eyes and his facial expression shifted from stoic to a lot softer.
”You can stay here for a while until you find yourself a place to stay.” At this point, we were standing in the living room.
“Yes, it would be nice to have another woman in the house.” I heard Freya saying from behind me, with excitement in her voice. I turned around and found her standing by the sofa with her arms crossed on her chest. I wanted to protest, not wanting to be a burden.
"Thank you but I'll manage," I said
“Nonsense...come, I’ll show you your room and give you a tour around the house.” she hooked her arm with mine and we started walking up the stairs again.
“Thank you,” I said sincerely and she smiled at me. I never met such kindness before. All I knew was hate and beating towards me, this was all new to me.
We stopped in front of a door, she opened it and walked in. “this is going to be your room”
I walked behind her it was a simple room with a double bed, small wardrobe and two bedside tables, it was all matching warm polished wood colour. The walls were white and the floors were wooden as well. I loved it. It was nice and cosy.
“I’ll bring you some clothes and if you want a shower ” then she scrunched her nose, leaning away from me "you need a shower," she said in a more serious tone.
I went back to my new room, walked to the window and enjoyed the view. There were fields on one side and forest on the other side where we came from. In far back behind the fields, I could see glistening water from the sun high in the sky. It was beautiful and I imagined myself standing by the window and gazing out every day.
”Here..these should fit you” Freya came in with a stack of folded clothes. She placed them on the bed. My eyes widened, thinking she would bring only a few pieces of clothing. I never imagined she would bring nearly a whole wardrobe.
“Towels are in the bathroom on the shelf and you can use my shampoo and soap.” she smiled at me warmly.
With that, she left and closed the door behind her. I walked over to the clothes on the bed, there were a few tops, pants, some new underwear with tags, and two pair of shoes, ones were sandals the other combat boots.
I picked out the clothes I wanted to wear and went in the direction of the bathroom. I smelled I knew it. I felt disgusting and sticky and still had remainders of mud all over me. The last time I showered was at least five days ago before I escaped. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a warm shower. In the slave quarters, there was only cold water. No electricity was in the building where the slaves stayed. Werewolves didn’t want to waste electricity on us.
I took longer than usual enjoying the warm water as it cascaded over me. I washed my hair with shampoo for the first time. It smelled like peaches and I loved it. Then I scrubbed my body with soap and watched the water as it turned into dirty brown colour. Once I was squeaky clean I dried myself and glanced in the mirror.
I had fading bruises all over my face and body from the beating werewolves gave me before I ran away. My big dark brown eyes had dark circles under them from lack of sleep. My wavy dark brown hair was long stopping at my waist. My olive skin was pale from the lack of food. After getting sick of my reflection I got dressed in a plain white t-shirt and black pants.
When I entered my room Freya was there waiting for me staring out the window. She turned around smiled at me ”let’s go, I’ll show you around then I’ll have to make dinner.” With that, she took my hand and led me out of the room. Once she showed me around the house, I helped her making dinner. She protested but I insisted. It’s the least I could do after them taking me in and helping me.
At dinner, everyone was there, Chris, Luca, Thomas, Freya and me. Thomas and Freya were cute together. Freya cuddled into him and rested her head on his shoulder whenever she could and gazed at Thomas with so much adoration I felt like intruding.
Hearing their stories I could see they had a beautiful childhood and wished I had a childhood like this with friends and love around me. When my parents died no one ever showed me kindness and love. As I watched everyone in the room laughing and enjoying themselves around each other I wished I had a family. I was alone in the world and had no place to call home.
I was glad when dinner was finally finished. When everyone left, me and Freya stayed behind and I helped her with the dishes and after that was done I went to my room. Exhausted, I changed into my PJs and the second I hit the soft pillow I fell asleep.