Lesly still remembered the day Lang tried to contact her like it was yesterday. It had only been a couple of days since she was hospitalized after she was rescued and could not even bring herself to talk. Of course, that was a choice, not the result of the trauma she had endured. Nothing seemed to matter back then. She had hit rock bottom and she could not imagine that she would ever be able to pluck herself out and function again. It did not matter that her burn marks were not going to leave any scars. It did not matter that her wounds were healing nicely. It did not matter that she was going to leave the hospital sooner than anticipated. The nurses’ sympathetic behavior added more fuel to the fire and made her more intent on not talking to anyone at all. They thought it was the trauma that robbed her of her capacity to speak, but it was a choice, plain and simple. Every time a nurse walked into her room to change her bandages or check on her, she would somehow feel compelled to give Lesly a few encouraging words. She would tell Lesly that she was brave for standing strong after going through what she had gone through during those four days in captivity. Even Michaela, her closest friend, did not know how to carry herself around her whenever she paid her a visit. She would feed her the same nonsense that the nurses fed her, and would constantly tell her that she was strong and that she was going to overcome this whole ordeal in no time. No one knew that she was hanging by a thread, and that she found her will to live crumbling with every passing second.
Death was a comforting thought. Every hour she spent in that bleak hospital room forced her to contemplate the blessings of ceasing to exist. Why was death feared, shunned, avoided when it offered the hope of release? Lesly looked over at the IV drip connected to her arm and wondered if it was at all possible for any drug out there to help her slip into the blessed state of oblivion. The drugs she had received so far certainly helped in numbing the pain of most of the injuries she sustained, but they failed to help her sleep or to get her mind to cease tormenting her. It would have been possible to ask the nurses or Michaela for help, but she did not wish for that request to alert those around her to the fact that she could talk. She did not want anyone to start pressuring her into opening up and sharing those gruelling details one more time. Thankfully, Michaela did one thing right. She did not allow any visitors to see her. That was the only thing that kept her sane during her stay at the hospital.
The relief of not having to see any visitors at all was short lived when a certain someone walked into her room. It was a woman that Lesly had never seen before in her entire life. The woman was tall, Asian and appeared to be in her early fifties. She looked at Lesly and smiled warmly before she carried the only chair available in the room closer to Lesly’s bed and placed it there. She took a seat next, crossed one leg over the other and introduced herself.
“Lesly, my name is Kim. I’m the personal assistant to Victor Lang, the father of the man you tried to save in that burning building. I’m sure you have heard of the Lang family before, Lesly.”
Lesly said nothing. She just stared at the woman with an expressionless face.
“Jacob, the man you tried to save, was Mr. Lang’s sole son and heir. His loss was extremely devastating for his father. We had no idea at the time who abducted him and why. Requests for ransom were placed, but they always led to a dead end. We were hopeful at first that he would be returned to us, but as time went by, we lost hope entirely. You can imagine, Lesly, how Mr. Lang felt after realizing that Jacob was tortured to death just because he was his son.”
Kim was greeted with silence again, but it became obvious to her that Lesly was showing signs of distress over being reminded of that incident.
“I can see that I’m making you uncomfortable. I’m sorry, Lesly. That was never my intention. You see, Mr. Lang wants to make sure that you know how grateful he is for your help. He also wants you to know that he’s deeply sorry you were caught in this mess. Although Jacob died, you made it possible for his father to see him and talk to him before he perished. It was also because of your account of the incident that we managed to track down the people responsible for his murder. We owe you a great debt.”
Lesly could still remember how much those words affected her. She did not know why she lost control and began shedding silent tears, but she could remember feeling a hint of relief for the first time since she was rescued. At first, she tried to hide her face from the woman sitting in front of her by covering her eyes with her good arm, the arm that was not broken, but apparently, Kim was not done talking yet. She still had one more important message to deliver and she needed Lesly to listen really well for what she came to say. Kim approached Lesly, sat opposite to her on her bed, and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder before she carried on in that same calming tone of voice.
“Lesly dear, I understand that this can be particularly agonizing for you, but I’m going to need to show you something.”
It took Lesly a while to comply with Kim’s wishes for she needed time to bring her emotions under control. She finally uncovered her eyes, wiped the tears from her cheeks and looked at the woman sitting in front of her. The woman smiled and gave Lesly’s shoulder another reassuring squeeze. She took her phone out of her pocket, and began showing Lesly some of the images that she had stored there.
Lesly could not believe her eyes when she saw what Kim had on her phone. She looked at Kim in disbelief and Kim was able to tell that Lesly recognized most of the faces she saw in those pictures. The woman smiled and continued to scroll through the images until she got to one specific picture that almost made Lesly’s stomach turn. Lesly looked at Kim with an expression full of agitation and hoped that Kim would comply and take the phone away, but Kim did no such thing. This led Lesly to push the phone Kim was holding and to look the other way while struggling hard to take deep calming breaths. Kim was not done. Her smile disappeared and was replaced with a sympathetic look.
“Is this the man who assaulted you, Lesly?” she asked in a calming voice.
Lesly did not say anything. She just shut her eyes forcefully and hoped that the woman would leave her alone.
Kim held Lesly’s hand and gave her a gentle squeeze before she spoke to her again, “You need to see this. It’s important.”
Lesly looked back reluctantly at Kim who showed Lesly a couple of more images of the same man. However, those other images were different from the first one. They showed her exactly the sort of comeuppance he received as a result of the turmoil he subjected her to. It took Lesly a while to comprehend the fact that Kim was trying to show her what had been done to the man to avenge her. She looked at Kim in disbelief and found the woman smiling again.
“Mr. Lang and I want you to know that the matter has been taken care of. We made sure to give him a taste of his own medicine. I assure you it was just as painful for him and for all the others that were involved in this mess as it was for you. They won’t hurt you or any of the other women again.”
Kim then held a card between her index and middle finger and placed it gently on the small table next to Lesly’s bed.
“If you ever need anything at all, give me a call,” she instructed with a smile.
At this point, Lesly lost her composure. She did not know why, but for the first time since the rescue, she allowed herself to sob uncontrollably. The woman held Lesly tight, stroked her back and tried to calm her, but Lesly could not keep herself from sobbing. The cries she held while she was in captivity, the tears she stubbornly refused to show to her tormentors, the despair she would not allow her captors to witness all came crashing down in that one moment.
“Thank you” was the one phrase she kept on repeating over and over.