Princess wasn’t sure if she was awake or not when she opened her eyes as she couldn’t find anything to focus on. Then slowly as the rest of her woke up she realised she was still cuddling Winter’s arm. She smiled, found the torch and switched it on, which stopped her from speaking just in time when she realised that he was still fast asleep. Slipping her hand free of Winter’s as carefully as she could, decided that despite being warned she’d rather find a bathroom than pee in the corner. The door took a little more effort than expected but she still managed to get it open without waking him. Not really having much of a clue which way to go Princess decided it seemed safer to head back the way they’d come to find a bathroom or at least a room she was willing to use, rather then head forward into the slightly more unknown. She walked for a good ten minutes checking doors for a bathroom sign before she decided that any room would do, and opened the first door that didn’t appear locked. What she found was a room that looked slightly lived in, a few sleeping bags on the floor some backpacks and a whole heap of fear. Slowly she backed out the room and switched off the torch, hoping that if anyone was coming back to that room she’d be able to see their lights before they saw her. Quickly she looked left and right down the tunnels hoping to spot some kind of sign of anyone coming but saw nothing. In a panic she turned around a couple times then started walking further down away from Winter. It’s wasn’t long before she heard a voice ahead of her and quickly turned back around and started walking back towards the room she’d found. Then suddenly a door just ahead of her opened and a large dirty looking man stepped out of it, he turned to face her and jumped. For a few second they both stared at each other in shock. Then the man pounced on her, slapping her hard across the face, spinning her around to wrap one arm around her waist and his hand over her mouth. He then smiled and called down the hall cheerfully.
“Hey Jimmy! Come here and see what I’ve found.”
Two more men quickly appeared, one from a nearby door and the other from further up the tunnel.
“I just stepped out and there she was, waiting for me.”
The clear leader of the trio stepped very closed to Princess,
“That’s very good, well done.”
He reached out a hand and gently stocked her face then laughed. His voice echoed down the tunnel and Winter suddenly became away that his arm was no longer being held. He opened his eyes to see light from the open door displaying an empty room. Slowly he got up, walked to the door and listened for more sounds.
Jimmy nodded at the man holding Princess, and he in reply slowly removed his hand from Princess’s mouth.
“So what brings you so far into the tunnels?”
She took a deep breath and said through clenched teeth,
“I’m just a little bit lost really. Could you point me in the direction of the nearest exist?”
Jimmy smiled a dirty yellow toothed smile at her and chuckled again,
“Why of course I could, but what do I get in return?”
On the very edge of his hearing Winter could just make out a sound, he pulled the knife out from his belt and started walking towards it with purpose.
Princess smiled at Jimmy,
“I, I’ve got this torch you could have?”
Princess lifter her hand as high as she could to show off the torch,
“Well look at that so you do.”
Jimmy reached down and took it, then quickly passed it to the third man standing behind him. Then his smile got broader,
“Not that it matters.”
He then shot out and hand and grabbed her by the hair, the man holding her quickly let go and Jimmy bashed her head against the wall, causing her to cry out in pain. He then pulled her back up to her feet and shoved her into the nearest room. Princess tried to keep on her feet but stumbled and ended up face down on the ground. Jimmy and his two boys walked in after her, all chuckling. Jimmy crouched down and grabbed her by the hair again while the other quickly grabbed her trousers and pulled them down to her ankles, terror gripped her and she finally let out an almighty scream. Jimmy bashed her head on the floor,
“No one down here to hear you sweet heart, but keep it up because, oh god it gets me going.”
Jimmy let his eyes move down over her bare bottom and try spy between her legs. Princess’s scream echoed loudly though the tunnels and sent a cold shiver down Winter’s spin, then suddenly his blood seemed to flash boil. Within a few seconds he was standing in the doorway looking at the three men standing over Princess who had been rolled onto her back, her shirt was still on but her trousers where down. A rage like he’d never felt exploded out of Winter along with terrifying yell. Before the three men really knew what was happening he’d charged in like a whirlwind of fists, knife and fury. The three men never even had a chance to fight back as Winter ripped through them in seconds. Jimmy was the last to die. Winter swung him off his feet by his head and slammed him into a wall causing his neck to break, in what to Princess was a deafening crack. Then satisfied that they were dead, he turns towards Princess,
“I TOLD YOU NOT TO LEAVE THE , I TOLD YOU IT WASN’T …. Safe, I, I…”
Princess looked up at his through a flood of tears and saw him take a staggered step backwards and stumble towards the wall. He managed to turn just in time to catch himself on the door frame, as waves of chills washed over his body and the world around him began to spin uncontrollable as if he’d had way to much to drink. He tried to regain his balance but instead fell out the door and ended up sitting against the wall looking at Princess, who was still motionless with fear. Winter took a long, deep breath in and could just make out her figure through the blur,
“No…I…I’m, I’m s… sorry.”
Then just as suddenly as they started the chills stopped and his vision un-blurred. He saw Princess still just sitting, staring at him not moving. For a moment she looked at him the same way his Beloved had done as the life slipped out of her and this sent another shock of fear through him. He got back up onto his feet and slowly walked into the room. Crouching down he put his hands on her shoulders turning her to meet his gaze,
“I’m so sorry I let this happen.”
And with that he wrapped his arms around her, breaking the spell of her fear. She viscously dug her nails into his back and screaming pleas into his shoulder, while desperately wishing she could un-see everything, wishing she had woken him when she’d gotten up, wishing her uncles wasn’t trying to kill her and that her father hadn’t died. Winter slipped an arm under her legs and picker her up and carried her out of the room while she continued to weep into his shoulder. He took her back to the room they’d slept in and there they sat for another hour while Princess continued to cry for a bit and then eventually fall back asleep, all still in Winter’s arms. Once he was sure she was out he slipped a hand into his pocket and pulled out his last remaining pill, then broke it in half and crushed one of the halves into a water bottle.
He didn’t want to wake her, but it needed to be done. Even though he did it as gently as possible she still woke with a bit of a jump. Winter handed her the drug laced water bottle,
“Here drink some water, it’ll make you feel better.”
She took a few sips and looked at him curiously.
“Why are my pants still down?”
Winter honestly hadn’t noticed, and he frowned.
“Because you haven’t pulled them up?”
Princess once again realised that he didn’t have any interest in her body, and she started to wonder if any of his actions were as a result of her gender. He wasn’t saving a damsel in distress he was saving her because of who she was not because of what she was or how pretty she was or because of how much money she had. She smiled at him and took a few more sips of water,
“This water tastes a bit funny.”
“You’ll get used to it, now come on, we still have some walking to do.”
She nodded, hopped off his lap, pulled up her pants and started collecting her things. She was amazed at how much calmer she was already feeling. Winter had accidentally left the knife he had in one of Princess’s attackers. Quickly he went through his pack and pulled out a spare and clipped it to his belt. Then hoisted on his bag and waited for Princess to appear ready to go. They set off down the dark tunnels with Princess sticking much closer to Winter than before, all the while he just kept encouraging her to keep drinking water. It didn’t take long before she’d all but forgotten the details of her attack. It wasn’t that the memories were gone; she just didn’t remember to think about them. She did however have to stop three times to pee but she was feeling better. Winter stood silently outside the room Princess was squatting in and simply waited for her, he didn’t feel bad about drugging her it’s exactly what Gates would have done. In fact it’s exactly what Gates had done, and she needed something to calm her down. He did however wonder how it was going to affect his steadily unravelling state of mind. With ever passing hour he thought more and more about his Beloved and the things that he’d done, he was a little surprised to find himself so calm about them all. He did get a slight feeling of anxiety when he thought about what he’d done to Princess’s attackers, but that faded when she opened the door and he remembered why he’d done it. The idea of someone hurting her seemed worse than anything he could do somehow. He felt incredibly protective over her. She smiled up at him,
“So what are we actually going to do when we get out the tunnels?”
Winter’s original plan to simply kill Keys Jr. had fallen by the wayside a little in the wake of Gates’ murders. He was now just as, if not more interested, on finding the killers before doing anything else. Winter slowed down a little and looked at Princess,
“Well first things first, we’re going to need to get a car, and since you won’t leave the island we’re also going to need somewhere relatively safe to stay.”
“You’re bring hunted by the police in for murders, is stealing a car really the best way forward?”
“Who said anything about stealing a car, I’ve got $50 000 in the bag and all my contracts get paid into secure accounts. We buy a car and check into a motel somewhere, preferably with underground parking and near to where Gates’ office was. I want to find our kidnappers and ask them some questions.”
Winter had taken on a malicious smile but had also turned back to face forward so Princess didn’t see it,
“And while you do that I can search the place to try find your pills.”
Winter sighed and rolled his eyes, much to his own surprise. He wasn’t sure which confused him more, her desperation to save him, or his indifference to being saved. The idea of his fast approaching death still seemed appealing, even as the drugs began wearing off.
“Yes, of course, trying to find my pills.”
He hoped he sounded convincing but wasn’t sure how to put effort into it. Princess heard what she wanted to hear in his tone of voice and felt content that Winter hadn’t given up on life. They walked on a little longer in silence before Princess said again,
“If you’re wanted by the police and I’m missing, how are we going to buy a car?”
Winter stopped, and realised that he’d be so focused on working out where the house could be and what to do from there, he’d missed out that simple detail. Winter let out a faint laugh and suddenly remembered vividly the day he met his Beloved.
He’d been working for a bouncing agency that sent him to different clubs on the . Charcoal was hosting a bachelor party that night so they had brought in extra guys to keep the peace. Winter found himself a nice dark corner to sit in and simply watched the party to make sure they were behaving themselves. Or at least staying within the boundaries of what Charcoal would allow. A woman slid into the seat across from him, cleared her through and said cheerfully,
“So, you come here often?”
Without taking his eyes off the crowd he replied coldly,
“Honey, you couldn’t afford me.”
The girl laughed which caused Winter to turn and look at her and realise she was wearing a waitresses uniform. His cheeks flushed red for a moment which only charmed her more. She reached a hand across the table and introduced herself. He took her hand and smiled,
“It’s a pleasure Mike, maybe after work you can buy me a drink to apologise for thinking I was a call girl.”
“I think I would like that.”
They smiled at each other for a moment then she got back to her feet and went back to work. Winter watched her for a bit then, went back to watching the drunken bachelor party and tried to push his thoughts of her to the back of his mind, which wasn’t always easy, as she kept walk in and out of view sometimes stopping to smile or wave at him. Hours passed without much excitement, which was a good night for him, until he noticed that some of the drunker guests had suddenly weren’t as drunk and had started getting much louder. Winter got up from his seat and stood against a wall closer to them in a way that made his presence known. For the most part he was noticed but not directly acknowledged. Then all at once one of the suddenly sober party goes draped one arm over Winter’s Beloved and slipped his other hand up her skirt. She froze in shock and panic, not sure how to deal with the situation. A moment later Winter was on him, throwing all his weight behind a punch that practically shattered the man’s nose and sent him tumbling backwards until he hit the bar. In defence of their friend two more of the party rushed at Winter, who quickly and brutally dispatched of them, throwing one over one table and onto another. The third man he kicked so hard in the stomach that he doubled over and vomited. No one else dared come near him after that but one of the men crouched next to the offender with the wrecked nose yelled out,
“This guy’s supposed to get married tomorrow!”
Winter now even more angry scowled at him,
“Then what’s he doing slipping his hand up waitresses skirts. Pick him and your other friends up and get out.”
They obeyed quickly and within seconds charcoal was practically empty. Winter stood the whole time in between his Beloved and everyone else until the entire party had left, then only did he turn to her,
“Are you alright?”
She had been watching in amazement as he’d sprung to her rescue and now face to face with him all she could to was leap on him, wrap her arms around him and whisper tearful thanks into his ear. That night he’d driven her home, walked her to her door to make sure she was alright, then to her surprise he’d left without even trying to be invited in.