AGAINST HER WILL

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Chapter 25

AFTER QUICKLY CHANGING INTO JEANS AND TEE SHIRTS, EVAN SAID, ‘COME ON THEN, WE’LL HAVE TO SHOW OUR FACES, BEFORE THEY ALL WONDER WHAT WE’RE UP TO.’

He slapped her playfully on the behind.

She gave a little yelp and slapped him back, then saw him raise his hand again. ‘Don’t you dare, or I’ll scream for help.’

‘Oops, I’d better behave myself before I get into trouble. So are we going down or what?’ And took he hold of her hand smiling.

She hesitated. ‘I’m not looking forward to this,’ she said as he opened the door.

Evan held onto her hand tightly, maybe too tightly, amid more clapping and cheering as they came downstairs. People were shouting good luck and all the best. Donna tried to put a brave face on it but all she wanted to get on with the honeymoon and be alone with Evan. Before they reached the front entrance, she caught sight of Cole with a worried look on his face, acting as if he really did fear for her. She didn’t want to speak to him, and was glad when those fleeting seconds were gone, and they were outside making their way to the taxi parked in front of the Inn. As they got inside Donna’s mind seemed in a whirl.

She was aware of the guests gathered around the car to see them off, but was a little overcome with emotion. Evan rolled down the window and responded to the good wishes, and indicated to Donna to throw the posy out into the crowd. As soon as she did this, she seemed to come round and finally waved goodbye to all the well-wishers. The car moved forward with the happy couple continuing to wave frantically until the guests disappeared from view.

Sitting back in her seat, she was relieved now they were on their way. She tried to forget all about Cole and concentrated on what should be a wonderful honeymoon. Just the two of them away from the hustle and bustle of people, the first time they’d been alone together for longer than a day.

His warm hand covered hers, and turning to look at his smiling face, she saw the joy he felt at having her as his wife.

‘How you feeling, babe? Happy?’

She nodded, looking content. ‘Couldn’t be happier.’

‘Me too. I can’t tell you how much I’ve dreamed for this day to come. And even now that it has, I have to pinch myself to believe it’s true.’

‘I agree, it does seem like a dream.’ She leaned towards him to give him a quick peck on the cheek. ‘I never thought I’d meet anyone who’d love me for myself, rather than for my looks’

He smiled again, his eyes almost sparkling in expectation. ‘This is going to be the best honeymoon ever. We won’t want to come back.’

‘I hope we don’t. It’s a shame the only flight available was at two o’clock in the morning. It means we have to spend our first night together on board the plane.’

‘Well, that can’t be helped. We’ll more than make up for it later, I promise you,’ he grinned mischievously.

That made her feel uncomfortable, as she still feared their wedding night, which she did so want to be special.

‘I suppose we will.’

A little over an hour later they reached the Airport. Luckily, the traffic had been light, enabling them to get there quickly.

The taxi stopped right outside the Airport Terminal. They got out with only their essential luggage that was easy to carry. The driver took the rest of their belongings into the Airport to a baggage handler.

When Evan presented their tickets at the ticket barrier and passport control, they were told their plane for Torrelino, a small Spanish island close to Majorca, would be leaving within the next hour. Donna sat waiting with Evan, wondering if this venue for their honeymoon had been deliberate – perhaps he wanted them to get to know each other properly, so that they’d talk about what they’d kept to themselves for so long. Maybe she’d finally feel able to tell him about being raped.

After about forty-five minutes they got the call to board the plane, which set their excitement going at full speed again. Once they were inside, they were ushered into their seats by a pleasant blond-haired stewardess. Evan allowed Donna to go in first, so that she could sit by the window, and look out if she wished. Very noble of him, she thought.

He sat back in his seat, closed his eyes and yawned as if he was tired, and squeezed her hand tightly. She squeezed his hand back, then when he leaned over to kiss her again, she felt better. Maybe at last she could put the past behind her and live a normal life.

Not long after take-off, a film, The Island, starring Ewan McGregor was shown for their entertainment. Evan seemed to enjoy it and could hardly take his eyes off the screen. They continued to hold hands and occasionally he looked across at her, as if he wanted to make sure she was all right.

Shortly afterwards, she realised she must have been dozing, as when she turned her head, she saw that Evan had dropped off to sleep, probably dreaming of their honeymoon. The brightness of the film made it difficult for her to sleep. All that concerned her now was their first night together.

Halfway through the flight she needed the bathroom, moved his hand delicately away, and with difficulty climbed over his legs without waking him.

It felt such a relief to stretch her legs, but she’d be so glad when the plane landed and they were able to step out onto the beautiful island of Torrelino.

Within fifteen minutes, she returned to her seat, noticing Evan fidgeting in his sleep, dead to the world. When he started to snore, his top lip vibrated, causing Donna to snigger with amusement. He could be quite funny when he wanted to be, even when asleep.

Leaning against his shoulder, she snuggled up close to him, and eventually drifted off herself, hoping when she woke they’d have reached their destination.

She jolted awake with a start. Bright light made her squint and then remembered what she’d been dreaming about. Of a time not so long ago when her worst nightmare had come true. The dream had returned all too often of late, and this time it was so vivid and real – almost as if she’d relived every second of the horrendous ordeal.

What hit her as Evan moved in his seat was that she was a married woman now, and had someone to share her life with, someone who could help soothe away the bad memories of her past.

With Evan’s seat adjusted to a lying down position, she was able to gaze at him fully, and believe she really had married him. After all the trauma she’d suffered, to have found happiness again seemed incredible. What a shame Cole had almost spoilt what had otherwise been such a joyous occasion. Thank God she hadn’t listened to him. If any of his family ever found out what he’d said about Evan, there would be hell to pay.

She was amazed the two brothers got on since they were so different in character. Although if what she thought to be lies came out, they’d most definitely be at each other’s throats. How could Cole infer Evan wasn’t worthy of her, without specifically saying what his brother had done wrong? He was a nurse for God’s sake; in a position of trust, dedicated to saving lives, not taking them. Hadn’t he even stopped her from jumping off the top of the Hospital building? And how many other people had he helped in his time? People who might have otherwise died. And he’d always been so good to her, never wavering despite her tantrums and mood swings.

She watched his eyes flicker open and smiled warmly at him when their eyes met.

‘Hallo darling,’ he whispered. ‘We anywhere near Torrelino yet?’

‘I’m not sure. They haven’t said, but it can’t be far because it’s getting light.’

‘I’m getting so excited about this Donna. Just imagine it, our very own Villa for a fortnight. Miles away from anywhere, with a private beach close by. We’ll feel like we’re in paradise, for a while at least. And no one can contact us, seeing as we left our mobiles with mum.’

‘That’s true.’

‘What’s the time?’ he yawned.

‘Just after six.’

‘Still early then. I wish we’d hurry up and get there. I’m dying to get on that beach and swim in the cool clear blue sea.’

‘We’ll get there soon enough.’

Then as if someone had heard them, a message came over the loudspeaker system. ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen. We are now approaching Santonio airport. I would ask you all to return to your seats and fasten your safety belts…’

‘Oh yeah! What a coincidence.’

‘Incredible, Evan.’

Looking down out of the window, having fastened her safety-belt, she could only see blue sky and fluffy white clouds. Watching the plane descend through the clouds, she noticed below stretches of hilly brown land interspersed with bits of vegetation. Then the white buildings of the one large settlement came into view. Further afield were the golden sands that encircled the island, and beyond that, the blue sea looked calm.

Soon everything became larger and larger, until the plane touched down on the runway with a slight jolt, before taxiing towards the white terminal building.

‘Welcome to Santonio, the capital of Torrelino. We hope you had a pleasant journey and will enjoy your stay…’

At last, it was time to leave the plane. The door opened, and waiting their turn holding hands, Donna and Evan walked down the steps, before making their way across to the terminal.

They breezed through customs, then went outside, with their luggage in tow, to wait for a car with the words Villa Mortes painted on its side.

Donna felt extremely nervous but also excited, and knew once they were inside the car it wouldn’t be long. She was aware of Evan constantly staring at her with longing; looking forward to what should be the happiest day of their lives. When their love would finally be cemented. She tried to look forward to their first night together, but didn’t expect too much from it. So long as he was gentle with her, and was understanding, that’s all she needed.

Evan nudged Donna, pointing to a car approaching in the distance bearing the right wording. They both waved.

The car stopped close by and a thin dark haired man with a droopy moustache, and muddy brown eyes got out and walked towards them. There was a warm expression of friendliness on his face.

‘Welcome.’ He stretched out his hand, which Donna took but found hot and clammy. ‘I am Juan. I own Villa you live in for next two weeks. You must be Evan and Donna. Congratulations on your marriage – I hope you have very happy time in my Villa.’

‘Thank you, I’m sure we will,’ Evan said smiling.

Donna nodded.

‘I put your things in boot, and then we go – yes?’

Evan nodded; bending down to help Juan with the suitcases.

‘Ok, we have everything - yes? Good – now we go to my Villa. Please get in and look as I drive through at my beautiful island.’ Juan talked as if he owned the island, which of course he didn’t.

Driving out of the main town, Juan took the car down a coastal road, then went up into the hills filled with parched yellowing vegetation and spectacular views, that were rather too hair-raising at times. He then drove off the beaten track over bumpy and occasionally dangerous looking terrain with ease. He explained they were travelling through to the other end of the island, which apart from a few small areas of development was largely unspoilt.

Without warning, as the car descended, Juan pointed to a white washed Villa, behind which were white sands leading to the calm waters of the sea. It was certainly out in the wilds, she thought. He drove to the front of the Villa, stopping on a tarmacked area outside the building.

‘I help you with your things, show you my Villa, then I leave you in peace.’ He smiled at them.

First, he opened the door, allowing them into a spacious living room with light coloured furniture and abstract pictures on the walls. The kitchen appeared to be modern with every convenience. Upstairs were two bedrooms, the main one to the rear of the property opened out to a balcony. From this vantage point it was easy to make out the beach with palm trees, their leaves swaying in the breeze. At the back of the Villa was a large swimming pool in an enclosed garden area.

‘Here you have peace, quiet and privacy. No one to disturb you. There is plenty of food in fridge and freezer. I try to think of your English tastes, but you have car in garage if you want to go into town for more supplies. I hope you have very nice honeymoon, and many happy years together. If you need anything you ring me on this number.’ He handed them a card with his name, address and phone number. ‘And now if there is nothing else, I leave you to enjoy yourselves.’

He gave them both a little wave with a slight knowing smile on his face before he left. They both waved back. Donna was glad he’d gone, he was slimy and reeked of garlic. She hadn’t liked the way he looked at her either and hoped they wouldn’t need to call upon him. If they did, she go out for the duration.

They watched from the window of the living room, as Juan drove off, a dust cloud gathering where the car had been. Evan turned round and took her in his arms, hugged her so tightly it almost had her gasping for breath. He kissed her with so much gusto, she began to realise what she meant to him. She hoped he wouldn’t be disappointed.

‘So what do you think?’

‘Wonderful Evan – the place is idyllic. I never dreamed I’d be spending a honeymoon somewhere as beautiful as this.’

‘Isn’t it perfect? It has everything we need, and most of all we’re on our own, away from people. To be with you like this Donna, is my ultimate dream come true.’ He laughed.

She laughed too, trying not to sound too happy, or it might well blow up in her face. ‘So what shall we do first? Maybe unpack our things, go for a dip in the pool, or even walk down to that private beach.’

He shook his head vigorously, stared at her, his blue eyes widening in all seriousness. Shudders of fear went through her whole body. Please not already, she thought. Then he began to snigger. She couldn’t see what was so funny.

‘Evan, I’m beginning to think you’re sex mad,’ she tried to joke.

‘Oh come on Donna, what’s the matter with you? Surely, you don’t want to just hold hands now we’re married. You wait till you know what I have in store for our first night together– it will blow your mind.’

‘I don’t think so. I’m not into all those horrible degrading things, couples get up to.’

‘Well, we’ll see about that.’ Raising his eyebrows up and down, she realised he was pulling her leg, which made her giggle.

‘You ought to know, a girl likes a little romance with candlelight, soft music and so on.’

He grinned, thinking for a minute before raising a finger. ‘Of course. You’re right. Don’t worry, I was only kidding.’

‘You’d better be, or you’ll be sleeping in the spare room tonight. Come on, let’s unpack, have a bit of a rest, then go out somewhere.’

‘All right, if you insist.’

It took them an hour or so to unpack most of their belongings, then freshen up and change into something more casual. Donna went into the bathroom first, had a shower and when she came out she had a swimsuit on under a thin blouse and khaki shorts. She smiled at him as he walked towards her, carrying a bag of toiletries and his shaver, and hoped he wouldn’t be too long or the day would be over.

Sitting on a deckchair on the veranda, she waited for him. She sipped the ice cold drink she’d just made, placing it back on the table next to his. From this position she could take in the view of the beach from their Villa. She put on her sunglasses and closing her eyes, dreamed of their two weeks of bliss. She wanted the honeymoon to be a time they’d both treasure forever.

She never heard Evan approach her from behind, and instinctively jumped when he placed his hands around her sunglasses. When he moved his face close to her own, she trembled. For a fleeting moment she glimpsed a face masked with a balaclava helmet. Then it vanished, and she saw his happy smiling love struck face. They kissed.

As he sat down beside her, he gave her what was intended to be a reassuring smile, but she felt uneasy, even frightened in case she couldn’t be a good wife to him.

‘Cheers,’ he picked up his drink to clink against hers. ‘To us, and a happy fruitful marriage.’

‘To us.’

He lay back, took in the scenery and sea, and breathing in deeply, seemed so contented. If only she could find the courage to tell him the truth about the rape.

‘Shall we take a walk down to the beach now?’ he said after they’d rested for a while.

‘What?’

‘Come on Donna, get with it. I said, let’s try out that beach.’

‘Oh, all right. Sorry I was miles away. It’ll be nice to get a feel of the place.’

Hand in hand, they walked to the sands, a hundred yards away. The white sandy beach formed a cove approximately five hundred yards long and had palm trees at the head of it.

When they reached the water’s edge, Donna dipped her bare feet in, and found the water cool and refreshing. Evan did the same, then suddenly kicked water onto her. She yelped, responding in a similar manner, so that soon they were both soaked. They fell about laughing, both so happy in this little cocoon they’d created for themselves. All thoughts of Cole, the rape and everything that went with it, were pushed to the back of her mind.

They lay on the sands, in their swimwear, relaxing in the sun.

‘Isn’t this just the best?’ Evan remarked turning to her.

‘Yes it is - let’s savour it while we can.’

‘Let’s.’ He grabbed hold of her hand.

They’d brought a packed lunch, consisting of sandwiches of tongue and ham kept in a cool box, along with a bottle of champagne which they drank from plastic cups. Donna only drank a small amount, while Evan knocked it back like there was no tomorrow, much to her dismay.

‘Hey, I could get quite a liking for this stuff. Phew, and it’s got a bit of a kick to it as well.’ He wiped his brow with the palm of his hand.

‘Take it steady Evan, you don’t want to be ill on our first night together.’

‘Don’t you worry about that? I’ll be more than capable - you can bet your life on it,’ he told her forcefully.

Donna smiled, yet deep inside she was apprehensive, but made no comment.

‘You know something?’ He sat up, his elbows deep in the hot sand. ‘I still can’t believe this has happened. For an ordinary guy like me, to win the heart of such a beautiful girl like you is the stuff dreams are made of. But it’s not only your looks that attracted me - it’s the real you, the girl I met in hospital and only glimpsed at until recently. I knew I was right to persevere with you. I just wish someone would tell me what I’ve done to deserve all this happiness.’ He had a soppy grin on his handsome face. ‘When I remember back to how I used to be, and the things I did when I was a teenager and beyond – well, I could never hope to be in the same league as you.’

She cleared her throat nervously, wondering what was coming next.

‘I was bad when I was young and found out I’d never be able to play football again - it almost finished me. I went way off the rails completely, and anyone in my way was a target. I could have ended up in prison or even dead. Then when I was at my lowest ebb, I think God in his infinite wisdom saw something in me, something I didn’t realise was there. Somehow, I got a job in the hospital, saw so many horrific sights, people so much worse off than me, and that made me appreciate how lucky I was – and I haven’t looked back since. Then the icing on the cake came when I met you. Although I didn’t know it at then, I thank God I got there in time to stop you jumping off that roof, or we wouldn’t be here on this beach now.’ At that he stopped for a minute as tears filled his eyes.

She touched his naked shoulder. ‘I think you’ve let the drink get to you, Evan. Maybe we ought to go for a swim, it might cool you down a little.’

‘You may be right. Come on, I’ll race you.’ He was quickly on his feet running across the scorching sand into the sea. She wasn’t far behind, but couldn’t run as fast as him.

The water was cool and Donna shrieked as she dived in, but they soon got used to it. Evan was already swimming, waving to her as he did so, eager to show off his prowess, she thought, slightly amused.

Although she was touched by his admissions, it didn’t alter the situation she was in and this was only killing time.

When they came out of the water, he appeared more restrained, resorting back to his normal self, helping her to get dry, and was eager to do anything for her again. This brought about a feeling of hope that he’d be understanding and sympathetic with her when the time came. Maybe finally she’d tell him the full story of what had happened to her and its repercussions.

They remained on the beach for a time, getting their breath back, but as the sun lowered in the sky, the temperature dropped and Donna wanted to get back to the Villa.

‘Shall we go now, Evan?’ She shivered. ‘It’s getting much cooler, don’t you think?’

‘Sure, why not. There’ll be plenty of time for the beach over the next couple of weeks.’

‘Why don’t we dine out tonight, in the town, perhaps? Save us cooking?’

Evan’s jaw dropped open. ‘You’ve got to be joking, haven’t you? Wouldn’t it be better to dine in, just the two of us, so we don’t have lots of other people invading our space? I’d planned to cook something special, a steak maybe, then eat it outside, and see the sun setting.’

‘Oh come on Evan, surely you don’t want to go to that much trouble on our first night here. Not when we could pop into the town and have it prepared and cooked for us. We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves – aren’t we? So why not do just that?’

Evan looked on edge; his eyes moved from left to right. ‘Donna, what’s wrong with you? You said you wanted a bit of romance, soft lights, music and so on? That’s all I’m suggesting. Please babe, I want to do this for you. And you won’t have to do a thing. So no more arguments - all right?’

What could she say? She could hardly refuse, not when he was so insistent. She nodded, reluctantly giving way to him. They walked back to the Villa, hand in hand. And as soon they got back, he insisted Donna sit down outside on the veranda while he got on with the dinner. She heard him busily cooking the food, attempting a rendition of ‘She’ terribly out of tune. After a time she smelt the delicious aromas of a sauce, containing herbs and spices, and of course the sizzling steaks cooking under the grill.

As she sat back relaxing, turning her head to the right, she could just about see what was going on in the kitchen – she’d never knew he could cook – perhaps his mum had given him a few lessons, she thought smiling.

She jumped when she heard the sound of a knock on the window, and looking round she saw Evan waving at her. He was encouraging her to come in as evidently the dinner he’d spent so long in preparing and cooking was ready.

She got up and walked to the French doors, opening them to the delicious smells of the cooking. He wore an apron, had a spoon in his hand, as if he’d just tasted the sauce he was making.

‘Smells really nice.’

‘Let’s hope it tastes as good as it smells. If you’re ready, I’ll dish up. I think everything’s done now. Would you like to eat inside or out on the veranda?’

‘It would be nice on the veranda. It’s still warm and not as hot as in here. Want any help?’

He shook his head. ‘You can lay the table for me, and I’ll do the rest.’

She nodded, went to a draw and found out knives, forks, and place mats, then set the table outside on the veranda, and task done sat waiting for him to come out. Within two minutes he came out carrying two steaming hot plates containing the steaks, new potatoes and an assortment of vegetables covered in a creamy sauce.

After placing the plates on the table he went back to the kitchen for a bottle of wine and two glasses.

He poured the wine into the glasses, and sat down at the table, his face flushed from the heat of the kitchen. They clinked their glasses together before starting on the meal. Donna was impressed – it tasted as good as it looked. The steak was succulent and tender, the sauce creamy and cheesy with a tang to it.

‘I never dreamed you could cook this well.’

‘I’m a man of many talents’ babe, and now you’re my wife you’ll soon find that out,’ he grinned.

‘Well, we’ve both got a lot of finding out to do, haven’t we?’ She raised her eyebrows to emphasise the point.

‘Oh yes.’ He smiled in a knowing way.

‘Isn’t that what marriage is all about? Learning what your partner is really like, warts and all.’

‘Yes, I suppose it is. And I for one can’t wait to find out all there is to know about you.’

‘You might wish you hadn’t.’

‘That’s where you’re wrong, babe.’ He stared straight into her eyes, making her look away embarrassed.

They finished their meals, eating every last morsel, then had a ready-made gateau for dessert, before sitting back with their glasses of wine in front of them, to watch the final shafts of sunlight disappearing from sight.

As they sat in the twilight, apprehension crept up on her, her thoughts only on the night ahead. To make matters worse again Evan seemed to be drinking more than normal.

‘Evan, aren’t you knocking back too much of that wine? You’ll be spark out before you know where you are – you don’t want to spoil everything, do you?’

‘Sorry Donna. I need a bit of Dutch courage.’

‘Why should you need that?’

‘Because I keep getting the feeling you’ll freak out if I so much as lay a finger on you – and that would really hurt, especially on our honeymoon. I’m drinking in case that happens, to soften the blow.’

Donna’s mind began to work overtime – already feeling guilty, but now she felt pressurised as well. Not the ideal start for their first night together.

‘Evan...I wouldn’t have married you if...’ she replied, trying to appear normal.

‘Tell you what babe, let me have a quick shower first, then you go and do the same, make yourself beautiful, and I’ll wait in bed for you. I’ll even dim the lights if you want. Take as long as you like, I don’t mind. After all I’ve waited this long, another half an hour won’t make much difference.’

As their eyes met, she trembled, hoping he wouldn’t notice her fear of failure.

‘Hope I’m worth the wait.’

‘Believe me, you are,’ he said giving a little haughty laugh.

While he went into the bathroom, she lay on the bed in the main bedroom, closing her eyes, aware that very soon she would find out if she’d succeeded in putting the past behind her.

She was dozing when suddenly she smelt a familiar pungent aftershave. Her eyes sprung open, and there standing over her was Evan. He was grinning and wore only a terri-robe. But it was the smell that concerned her most. That horrible repulsive odour she remembered so well. She began to shake, her fear suddenly intense and deep. It seemed unbelievable, and every time she breathed in, it was there worse than before. Dear God – it was Evan. He was the man who’d raped her and almost ruined her life. Cole had been right all along. She was trapped. Did he have any idea who she was? He must do. He’d lured her here and was sure to be intending to silence her now for good.

‘I’ve finished babe – the bathroom is all yours.’ He kissed her softly on the lips.

‘Ok.’ She got up off the bed, fetched herself a towel, her thin negligee and dressing gown, and walked towards the bathroom.

‘Don’t be long,’ he laughed, sending a cold chill down her spine.

She didn’t reply, and hurriedly went inside, locking the door behind her.

In the relative safety of the bathroom, she leaned against the door, her breathing laboured, her heart pounding. Afraid of what the next half an hour might bring.

And after deciding to remain there for as long as she could, she shed her clothes and stepped into the Jacuzzi, praying in the meantime he’d drop off to sleep. Maybe it was a good thing he’d drunk all that wine.

Finally, she realised she had to get out of the water. She’d heard nothing from Evan, not even a shout for her to hurry up or a knock on the door. Could he really have fallen asleep, or might he be waiting behind it, ready to strike?

Donna dried her lithe shapely body thoroughly with her bath towel, sprinkled on some talc, before putting on the negligee, which showed up more than she would have liked. She must try to act normal in case he was awake. She stared at herself in the mirror, observing the face and body that had caused her so much trouble. After she’d brushed her teeth, there was no choice but to find out what lay behind the door.

Feeling anything but relaxed, she cautiously pushed back the lock on the door, opening it as quietly as possible, surprised to find the Villa in complete darkness. As she stood in the doorway she couldn’t make out whether Evan was asleep or not. All she could do was to try to visualise the position of the furniture in the bedroom in relation to the window. She walked slowly forward stepping carefully in case she bumped into anything. If he was still awake, he could grab hold of her at any moment, surprise her, then rape and kill her very easily.

After a matter of seconds she jumped as she touched something soft which lay in her path - the bed. Please God, don’t let it wake Evan. She stood still, the silence almost deafening. But she had to force herself to carry on, and to make good her escape, to get away from him.

Once more she was aware of that overpowering smell; as if he was taunting her with it. The stench of the awful sweet sickly aroma was too much and almost made her throw up. But she had to keep calm, freedom was only minutes away.

Satisfied he was asleep, she moved slowly to her left. With her jeans, tee-shirt and trainers tucked under her arm, she slipped out of the room. After dressing quietly on the landing, she tiptoed downstairs but then halfway down her heart leapt in horror. One of the steps creaked as she trod on it. Shit, she whispered under her breath, sure this was bound to wake him. She could have died.

‘Donna – is that you? What on earth are you doing?’

That was it for Donna. Any thought of searching for the car keys was abandoned. Panicking, she dashed across the hallway, making for the front door.

A shaft of light lit the hall from the bedroom lamp.

‘Oh my God,’ she whispered, then heard what sounded like a thud, that meant he must have been getting out of bed.

She fumbled with the door knob, finally managing to open it and ran out into the night.

‘Donna! Donna! Come back here, damn it! Where are you going...?’ he shouted after her.

She wasn’t having any of it and ran because her life was at stake. Thankfully the moon came from behind the clouds, enabling her to see where she was going, First she went alongside the dirt track, thinking she’d make better time this way.

‘What are you running away from – you idiot? There’s nothing to be frightened of – You should know I’d never hurt you…’

Her pulse raced, and she trembled with fear.

She heard the sound of a car starting up - Evan in the hire car, out to get her no matter what the cost.

Leaving the track, she rushed onto the rough uneven terrain that consisted of parched grassland and a few scraggy bushes, running as fast as she could, diving down to the ground when she caught sight of a beam from the headlights.

Once the lights had passed, she got up and carried on running again. Although she didn’t know where she was, it was imperative she got as far away from him as possible. Her lack of fitness forced her to stop several times, she even fell over once or twice, but saw no sign of the car or Evan. Thankfully she knew, despite the moon, she’d be difficult to find in the dark.

Later, when she came across a clump of prickly bushes she stopped, and lay down behind them, exhausted. This would be just the place to hide.

She kept as quiet as a mouse, and from the sanctuary of the bushes, saw a beam of light shining in the distance as Evan frantically tried to find her. But the shaft of light appeared to be moving farther away, and after a time it extinguished.

Had he given up? Somehow she doubted it, but at least she had something of a respite for the remainder of the night. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack in the dark, and as long as she kept off the road in the daytime, she’d be hard to find.

She must have slept for a while and woke to the sound of birds screeching above her. As her eyes grew accustomed to the bright sunlight, from beneath the foliage she saw clear blue skies and felt the heat building from the sun.

Hurriedly she got to her feet and brushed the dust off her clothes. From the cover of the bushes she moved, feeling a stiffness in her legs and body, probably due to sleeping on the hard ground, and from running the night before. She wondered how she’d survive as another scorching day seemed in prospect.

Unsure of which direction to take, she glanced around, and saw the sea and the Villa, tiny dots in the distance. There was only one thing to do, and that was to walk further inland, and hope someone would help her. The countryside could be seen more clearly in the daylight and was indeed barren scrubland.

As the morning wore on, she developed a terrible thirst but had no means of quenching it. She carried on at an even pace, trying to conserve her energy in the searing heat, but realised it wouldn’t be long before this and the lack of water would take its toll. This desolate land appeared to go on forever, and she seemed no nearer civilisation. Wasn’t the island supposed to be small, perhaps twenty miles or so across? Then why did even this distance seem like an eternity?

The morning passed slowly, and gradually she found it more and more difficult to carry on, pausing several times to rest and catch her breath. Each time she walked again, she feared how much more she could endure. Her throat was so dry she hardly had any spit.

With the sun high in the sky, and the heat so intense, she felt very weak and lightheaded. Her legs became like rubber, and she fell to her knees. Then looking up ahead, she saw what appeared to be a figure coming towards her. The figure appeared to be a well-built man carrying a rucksack on his back.

She desperately tried to shout out to gain his attention, but the closer he got, the more his face went in and out of focus. For a few awful seconds she imagined it was Evan. And now had no means of escape. As these terrifying thoughts went through her mind, she collapsed to the ground from sheer exhaustion.

Had she passed out for a few seconds or longer? Or was this a dream? Then suddenly someone in a very English accent said, ‘You shouldn’t be out alone in this sort of terrain, it’s dangerous in this hot weather – darling.’

Looking up, from his lilt, she realised who it was, and couldn’t believe her ears. ‘Cole! Is…is it really you? How...why...?’ He gathered her up in his arms and put a water bottle to her lips. She gulped some of the liquid down but then suddenly blackness overwhelmed her.

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