Chapter 20: Blissful Awakenings
I could have been locked in that warehouse for minutes, days or even years. I have lost count on how many times I have fainted out of pain or exhaustion. I am still tied to the hook and my hands are icy cold, stiff and rigid. My body hurts, my folded knees leave blood trails on the rough cement. I can’t see but my back feels like a mass of throbbing flesh that emanates pain to the rest of my body. Daultrey has left me there to attend some business but he will soon be back and he will start all over again. And he won’t stop until I am hanging lifeless by that hook, torn to shreds by that whip. Was that the same way Tamie has died?
Tamie. She has been through this Hell, holding on to keep me safe, my thought giving her strength. And she is gone, leaving me alone, without something to hold on to. Rage, my mind whispers. I have Rage. I have to live. I must live and I will find a way to go back to him. I need him and my heart calls out to him with all the strength I have.
And then I hear the creaking of the door. I stiffen. Daultrey is back! Tears well up but I shut my eyes to keep them from falling. I hear steps in the absolute stillness and I hold tight, promising myself that I will not look at him and give him the satisfaction of seeing the fear in me even if he killed me. The steps move closer and I bite down my lip. I have to survive, I have to live and I will. For Rage. There is a presence coming swiftly closer to me and I turn away as I feel him kneel beside me.
“Iris.” a raspy voice fills the room.
I stop breathing. I know that voice. I heard it only for a few seconds but I can’t get it out of my head. I open my eyes and turn only to meet two baby blue eyes looking at me with intensity.
“Rage.” my throat hurts as I speak.
He says nothing more just unhooks me and gently lets me fall in his arms taking care not to touch my back. I look at him still not believing he is here. His look is hard yet he is tender as he cuts my hands loose. He takes off his cut and wraps my naked body in it softly. His eyes turn to me and stay there. I let the tears ran down my cheek and he knits his brows.
“I knew you would come.” I manage to whisper before slipping into darkness.
I am lying on a bed and I can hear people talking around me but other than that my mind refuses to focus on something in particular. Opening my eyes proves an impossible feat so keep them shut and let go. Slowly my conscience wakes up and I can at least hear what is going on around.
A surge of panic goes through my body. I am still in Daultrey’s hands and I am healing so he can start torturing me and over again. Despair claims me and one thought crosses my mind. I am done. I am ready to die rather than go through all this again. And then like a light feather dropping from the sky, a memory flickers in my confused mind. Blue eyes looking at me and strong hands around me. Rage. Rage has found me and I am safe.
“What about Daultrey?” I hear Bjorn’s voice.
No one answers but I feel a weight on the bed, as if someone sat on it, next to me.
“I don’t fucking care.” Rage’s voice comes from that spot on the bed.
“I thought you would like to...I don’t know. Fuck that piece of shit up or something.”
“I am not leaving her out of my sight. Do whatever you want with that fucker.” Rage’s tone ends the discussion and Bjorn walks away.
My whole body reacts hotly upon hearing his voice so close to me. He was handsome when he wasn’t talking but hearing his gruff voice made him even more striking. I need to look upon him, see him, talk to him. And...touch him. I need to touch him so much. Feel him close, wrapped around me, making me feel safe. I struggle with what little strength I have and I manage to open my eyes. They flutter as the rays of sun hit me. His weight shifts on the bed as he is getting up. My hand moves swiftly and meets his arm. I grab it as if it were a life-raft and for me it is. I turn my eyes to him and he is looking at my face inquisitively.
“Rage.” my voice is hoarse.
His look is pinned on my hand touching him but when I talk he focuses on my face. For a few moments he acts as if he doesn’t know what to do and I am certain he will just run away. Instead he moves purposefully and grabs a glass with water and a straw in it and brings it to me. I drink as best as I can, lying on my side. I wet my lips and try again.
“Thank you!” I say and he nods biting his lip.
I look around and see that I am in his room, in his bed. For some reason, that realization has a forceful effect on me. My cheeks blush and my breath is caught upon thinking I am on the same bed he is sleeping in and the fact that he has brought me in his room warmed my heart. My eyes return to his and I manage to smile faintly. That smile opens the lid for all the memories of the torture I’ve been through. The sheet of relief I feel is lifted and the same fear that rules over my soul claims me.
I am here now but I am never going to be free, Daultrey will find me anywhere I go. I shiver despite the warmness of the sun upon me. He will find me and he won’t stop till all life is drained from me even before my body dies. He has a sickening fixation on me and he hunts me as if I am a prey for his pleasure. He was right. I had to get away, further from him, go away. But I always nurtured the hope that Tamie wasn’t dead. I was such a fool. My sister is dead, tortured, shred down to bone like I will be. A whimper leaves my mouth and I realize I am covering my face with my hands, shutting everything around me away.
“That fucker is not laying one finger on you again!” Rage hisses “No one is keeping you away from me ever!”
I withdraw my hands and peek behind them like a scared little child. I look at him and Rage’s face distorted into a nasty expression. His nostrils flare and his jaw clenches for a few seconds. His words come out easily, fueled by his fury. I know that seeing a dangerous man so angry should have made me shiver. But instead I go for his arm again, tighten my grip and I breathe easier. Rage came for me. He will keep me safe.
We stay like this for what seems like an eternity, looking into each other’s eyes, my hand on his arm, pledging an unspeakable bond that was there the moment I walked into the bar. If I were to stay like that forever, looking at his beautiful face, taking in his smell, feeling the heat coming from his body, I would die a happy woman. His skin is warm against my cold one and I feel as if his energy is poured into me. His intense look shows a mixture of emotion changing like the sea from calm to rough and I drown in them willingly. And then the door knocks and Rage dispatches his look from mine.
“Who the fuck is it?” he roars.
It pains me to be deprived of his gaze but I know Ava will be anxious to see me. Rage turns to me and I nod.
Ava walks into the room and stops.
“Sorry. Am I...interrupting? I just wanted to see Iris.”
I smile at her and she moves to my side as Rage gets up. He moves to a corner and stands there, his gaze constantly on me. I try to focus on Ava but my eyes fly to him every few seconds.
“How are you feeling?” Ava asks.
“I am fine.”
“My Iris. Always reluctant to burden others.”
“My...my back hurts.” I admit and I see Rage stiffen.
“That psycho whipped you badly. But Tom fixed you up. It will take some time to heal but you are safe.”
“He is the club’s doctor. He fixed me up when I was shot. You are in good hands. You are home.”
I look into her eyes deeply moved by those words. My lips tremble. Home. I have a home and a big family that came for me and cared for me. I feel the tears well up and Ava sees it too.
“I mean even if we wanted to kick you out, that fucker in the corner would murder us.” she points over her shoulder at Rage.
I turn to him and he is still looking at me, his eyes burning my whole body as he deepens his gaze, wrapping me warmly.
“OK.” Ava gets up “I know when I am the third wheel. I’ll be back to check upon you.”
She goes to the door and she stops turning to Rage.
“Thank you, Rage.”
His chest heaves and he nods to her. When Ava is out the room, he concentrates back to me. And I smile.