Novel ✪ Memory Corruption (R-18) (Book 1 and 2 Finished) (Book 3 on release now)

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by GiBro, Jul 2, 2021.

  1. TZia

    TZia Well-Known Member

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    It’s still not 100% certain that Corey is working undercover with Ryan not being told about this. If we recall at the end of Book 2 at the meeting that Lucas attended, Riviera said that she had her 2 best agents caught in the eye of the storm and that she could not reach either agent. So if she indeed was referring to Corey and Ryan, then how does Lion fit into the grand scheme of things? Conceivably, it is possible that Corey was acting undercover without Ryan being in on the mission. Riviera knows that Ryan is too close to Belle and he won’t have any objectivity when it comes to protecting Belle. Hopefully more will be revealed in the next chapters. I’m still curious to see what drove Belle to the bad condition that she is in at the beginning of Book 3. She conscientiously made the decision to stop eating, she seems to have lost any hope of being found and I fear that Daniel probably discovered the group’s plan and probably ended up destroying anyone that was remotely allied to her. It’s pure speculation on my part and I hope that I’m wrong, i hope that we have gotten past the most dark chapters:(:(:(
     
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  2. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

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    Was it? Was it not? She's not exactly mentally impaired, but she is going through a lot of mental pressure. If it was indeed a memory, what did Ryan answer, since he already knew he loved her? (Certainly not "I love you too")
    Oh that wedding party xD I already wrote a good part of it, I'm anxious for your opinion about the events in it.
    I don't think it's an spoiler, yes, it involves Desmond's investigation about her family. The rest I can't say anything without spoilers, so I won't... (if I said no, I'd have to explain why, if I said yes, it could mislead you)


    :censored:


    Lion isn't part of JTTF and doesn't answer to Chief Riviera directly. He's from another jurisdiction.
    :censored:... for the rest :p

    I'm so tangled in the next four chapters, that's why I hadn't named him yet. I changed a lot of things in next chapter and even included a part that would happen only later to clarify about Daniel's vision on Belle's "husband" subject. I'm afraid of having to take a break again, but I'll let you know if it happens.
     
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  3. TZia

    TZia Well-Known Member

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    If you do take a break, I hope that it won’t be a long one. We just can’t get enough if this story!
     
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  4. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Wednesday come again..i just cannot wait. Hahah everyday seem to be counting day a day..miss belle and ryan. Tq GiBro in advance..take care n good health for you n famili
     
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  5. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 12


    The next day Daniel took her to see what he called a library, although it didn't really have books other than the ones he and his minions had written, containing codes and plans. There were also maps, blueprints, photographs and piles of paper, but no books Belle would want to read.

    When Belle turned to look around, her beautiful maroon dress swirled around her legs. It was made of a light fabric and embroidered with yellow and golden roses. Since her hair was too short to be braided, she was wearing a golden tiara full of shiny rubies instead.

    On a corner, there was a large bookshelf protected by a bulletproof glass. Daniel claimed to have editions of the Bible in all languages inside it, but when Belle asked to check them, out of pure curiosity, he frowned and told her that she wouldn't be allowed to touch them until she was completely rid of the Devil inside her.

    Belle sighed and nodded, giving her back to the books and staring at the carpet for a long time. Daniel had literally pretended nothing had happened the night before, and Corey had escorted them without sharing a glance with her. Apparently Daniel had no idea that she hadn't paid the penitence he had ordered her to.

    Clearly disappointed with her reaction about his tiny library, Daniel decided to take her to the nursery, instead. Belle got anxious. She was afraid of what could be waiting for her there, and knew she wouldn't be able to stand and watch them do anything bad to the babies.

    When they got out of the elevator, that same nurse that had examined her on her first week there came to greet Daniel, bowing deeply for him. She stood at his command and eyed Belle from head to toes, then turned to Daniel.

    -Don't you think it's too risky, my Lord? What if she attacks the babies, like she did to you? -She glared at Belle. -I've heard she's not being medicated. What if she contaminates them?

    Daniel dismissed her with a flick of his hand and turned to a male nurse. It was the boy who had stopped Anna from anesthetizing her inside the car, the one who had tended to her hand.

    -Your majesty… -The boy bowed first for her, then to Daniel. -Should I bring you the PPEs?

    Daniel just gave him a slight nod and guided Belle through a double door. She noticed there were no locks there. As Lion had told her, there were no cameras either, just the two knights in front of the elevator.

    -Ok, get in there and get dressed. I'll come get you when I'm done too, don't walk out of the room without my explicit permission, was I clear? -He looked her in the eyes and she nodded vigorously.

    He looked like he had more to say, but shook his head slightly and walked away.

    Belle got in, then stopped as soon as she spotted the long sleeved gown, gloves and hood. It sounded exaggerated, and she got worried about the health of the babies. Was it possible that their immunological system was compromised to the point that this was really necessary?

    Her concern only grew when she finished dressing and Daniel came to get her, then handed her a black mask that covered almost all her face and a pair of dark goggles.

    -They must not be able to see your facial expressions. -Daniel explained when she creased her forehead and took them, but didn't wear them. -Put it on, or I won't let you in.

    She sighed and put them on, not because she really wanted to see the children, but because she was afraid of what he could do to her. He was already very frustrated because of the library episode… If she showed the same lack of interest about the nursery, she guessed his patience would quickly run out.

    -You're such a good girl. -He smiled and pulled her mask down to kiss her. She waited until her face was covered again to grimace and roll her eyes at him. -Fox was right. The stones are enough for you. You're not that weak, you can keep the Demon at bay, given the proper motivation.

    Belle was surprised. So Corey had not only hidden that she hadn't been punished for dreaming about Ryan, but had also convinced Daniel that he shouldn't do worse to her? Her mind was divided between wanting to believe it had all been a mistake, that Corey was indeed an ally, and trying to keep vigilant about the possibility of it all being part of his plan to conquer her trust.

    As they walked down the corridor, Daniel warned her about keeping her mouth absolutely shut while they were inside the nursery, threatening to kill all the babies in the room if she did something to ruin his experiment, that he referred to as “their neuroformation”.

    When they got inside the first door to the right, her throat squeezed. The babies were small. Smaller than she believed they should be. The silence was thick, not a giggle, gurgle or whine. When she approached the first baby with Daniel close beside her, a pair of wide open eyes followed her.

    It was no wonder the creature looked something between eager and terrified. Their contact with people apparently had only two purposes: being fed and being cleaned up. She wondered if the nurses at least had the decency of being careful not to hurt them when doing either.

    She opened her mouth to ask if she could touch the small creature when she remembered she wasn't supposed to talk. A sound escaped through her mouth and Daniel turned his head to look at her. She could bet he was either glaring or frowning. Belle made a signal with her hands to ask for permission to take the baby in her arms, but he shook his head. He reached and poked at the baby's arm instead. To her surprise, the baby flinched and pushed away, but kept silent. There was no doubt: in that place, touching meant pain.

    While they walked between the cradles, a nurse came in, pushing a cart full of baby bottles and stopped, not knowing what to do. Daniel grabbed Belle's arm and walked by him, nodding to indicate the nurse could stay. Only when the door closed behind them, Daniel turned to her and took his mask out.

    -I told you to keep your mouth shut.

    -I did, I'm sorry. -She instantly replied, afraid he might hurt the babies. -I didn't say anything.

    Daniel glared at her while he took off his mask and goggles, and impatiently pushed her down the corridor in silence. When they got inside the elevator, with only his two bodyguards and Corey to witness it, he caught her by her arm and pulled her, their noses almost touching.

    -Did you send some subliminal message to that kid? -He hissed through gritted teeth. -Did you let your demon out in it?

    -No! What are you talking about? -She gasped. -I didn't do anything, I was just gonna ask you if I could touch him, if I could take it in my arms, that's all!

    -This is our future, Isabelle, we depend on those kids to have our perfect army! From all of them, why did you have to try to contaminate a boy? Are you trying to screw me?

    His face was red and sweaty, and the fact he had used her name instead of her nickname gave her shivers. He pushed her against the elevator's wall and put pressure on her neck, making her gaggle.

    -Daniel, please… -Her face was burning and it was getting impossible to breathe. She could feel her own pulse in her neck and temples, and her vision began to blur, although she couldn't tell if it was due to the fact her eyes were brimming or a warning sign that she would soon black out. -Daniel!

    -Your majesty… -Corey's voice was calm and low.

    -What? -Daniel turned to face him with irritation, giving Belle the opportunity to take a deep breath, as his grip faltered.

    -We're about to arrive at our floor, your majesty. -Belle glanced at Corey's face, but he was looking straight into Daniel's eyes. His ears and cheeks were red, but aside from that, nothing in his face betrayed any emotion. -You've ordered me to keep vigilant about your image in front of lower ranked…

    -Yeah, yeah, I know. -Daniel let go of Belle's neck and stood in front of the door. -Put a smile on that face, cunt, you're not gonna embarrass me more than you already did.

    Belle massaged her throat and shoulders, trying not to cry. Only then she realized she was hyperventilating. His outburst had surprised her a lot, since he hadn't given any signs of violent behavior that day.

    Corey finally shared a glance with her when Daniel strode out of the elevator and his bodyguards followed close, leaving her behind. He offered her his arm to lean on and this time she accepted it, not because she needed his support, but because she was afraid of having a panic attack and passing out.

    When they got to her apartment, Daniel walked in close behind her and she flinched involuntarily when he reached for her neck. To her surprise, Corey stepped near him and whispered something in Daniel's ear. She couldn't hear what, just knew it was a short word.

    Daniel froze midway the movement of gripping her neck and grimaced, then strode out. Corey looked at her with a concerned expression and ran after him.

    A few minutes passed and they both got inside again, with Daniel taking long strides. Instead of beating her, though, he let out an enraged scream, took a chair, holding it above his head, threw it at the wall and strode out, leaving Corey behind. The redhead man stared at Belle with pity clear on his face. As expected, she started to cry as soon as the door was closed.

    -He won't hurt you. -Corey assured her. -He's trying to stop, he won't hurt you now, don't cry.

    -Is he gonna hurt that baby because of me? -She tried to wipe the tears, embarrassed for crying in front of him. -Do you think he could… Because I made a sound?

    Corey just stared at her and she cried even more.

    -I'm not saying he will. He's unpredictable sometimes. -He sighed as he sat on an armchair near her. -Don't think about it, it won't do you any good.

    She curled up on the sofa and cried in silence, wishing that Ryan would walk in at any moment and tell her that they were taking up the place, freeing the women and saving the babies. It obviously didn't happen and when she finally stopped crying she sat up and stared at Corey. He was biting his nails and staring at the wall.

    -Help me stop this, please. -She murmured.

    -Give me any good idea of how, and I'll jump for it. -He shrugged. -It'll probably be something that I have already tried, but I'm definitely open to suggestions.

    -I need to stop him from hurting those babies and the women. -She murmured. -Even if we can't get out of here, at least this needs to stop. Can't you do something to help?

    -Well, I did what I could. I convinced a priestess that polygamy was allowed by the Bible and she got him to agree. -He shrugged. When Belle made a confused expression, as if asking if he was out of his mind, he explained. -The knights can choose among golden sheeps. We can marry them, it's nothing official, only their fake religion bullshit, but we can take them from the plates by doing that. I have three wives. I wish I could afford a fourth, but, honestly, three has proven to be very tiresome.

    Belle opened her mouth to ask him what he meant, but was disgusted about what the answer could be. Instead, she took a deep breath and gave him the benefit of the doubt.

    -And I'll assume you're not raping them...

    -Of course not. I didn't ever had sex with any of them. -He frowned. -I'm not gonna say all guys are nice with them, I don't go around asking what people do inside their rooms. It's just that my apartment isn't as big as this one… Try to live with three people that didn't really want to be there in the first place and you'll get what I mean… But it gotta be better than, you know…

    Belle nodded slightly. It wasn't exactly what she wanted, but it was better than nothing.

    -Do you think I can convince him to let all the women get married? And to stop bringing women in? To end the plates, for good? -She tried to keep her voice low, afraid that someone could hear them. -How do you think I should approach him about it?

    Corey looked away, lost in thoughts. After a while he told her about how a friend of his used to manipulate him by telling him she had dreamed about something.

    -She wouldn't insist on the subject, just throw it in the air like “oh, I had a nightmare about it, and it happened like that” or “you'll never guess, I dreamt about you and this happened”. And then, after she left, he would think for a while, then summon me or a priest and ask about our opinion… -Corey blushed as he smiled and Belle knew he was thinking about Diana. Was it possible that he was in love with her? -Anyway, that's one approach. I'm catholic. I was raised cristian and I'm not gonna abandon my faith even if my life depends on it. But I learned to use my knowledge of the Bible against him. For every bullshit he throws at me, I have a passage to refute him. It works too, and he respects me for that.

    Belle nodded. The dream option sounded easier, and she remembered that Daniel used to take dreams very seriously. He would often Google his nightmares' meanings and get worried about whatever hidden message he believed God was trying to send him through them. She decided to try that route. She would have to find a way to naturally insert her dreams into their conversations.

    -I need you to tell him to let me be there when the investors arrive and go, Corey. -She bit her lower lip.

    -What for? -He didn't look at her. -Tell me your plan.

    -I can't. -The anxiety was crushing her insides and she felt like she could throw up. -I still don't know if I can trust you. Prove it to me by convincing him to take me there every time one of them lands or leaves.

    -Tell me your plan and I'll consider doing that. I'll help you, if there is the slightest possibility of it working. -He sighed. -We have time, he just postponed the festival to next week. Said he's still not sure if he can fix you.

    Belle felt like crying even more. So her plan would be held in standby until next week, which meant at least seven more days in that prison. They sat in silence again. Now she was even more driven to change things inside that damned place.

    -Isn't there any way to convince him of letting the babies have a normal life too? -She pouted involuntarily. -Can't you talk with the doctor, see if he could tell Daniel it's important for their development or something?

    -No. Belle, that's out of your reach, don't mess with the babies. It's his most ambitious project. He believes he'll raise an army, a new race. Let's just leave them alone until the authorities take them out, they'll have the opportunity to get back the wasted time later, it's better than having him kill them all.

    After Corey left, Belle sat in silence. She couldn't accept it. Something had to be done, even though she couldn't think about a solution right away, she wouldn't give up.

    Bob visited her before dinner and they chatted a bit, but there were no signs that Corey had talked to him. This time, instead of bringing a flower, Bob brought her a black stone that shifted color according to the angle she held it under the light, like an oil stain on asphalt. As expected, she was amazed and the man was delighted to watch her.

    -See? I'm not that stupid, I've found something beautiful that I won't have to kill to give it to you. -He smiled from ear to ear. -Be careful not to let that piece of shit see it, though… I hadn't thought about it.

    -Don't worry about it, Bob… He won't ever find it. -She smiled, but avoided looking at her bed’s direction.

    Belle knew that if Daniel ever heard about someone bringing her gifts, that person would never step foot in her room again. At first she had hidden the flowers between the Bible's pages. They both had dried up, and now looked like beautiful delicate fossils. But since a few days ago, when Daniel had snatched the Bible from her hands and hit her with it, she had realized it was too risky to keep them there.

    Fortunately she already had a plan B. After checking it daily for a week or so, she had realized that the spot on the inner side of the wood under her bed had never been cleaned, and she doubted it would ever be, since the maids usually tried to leave her bedroom as quickly as possible. For that reason, it had become her secret hiding place for small objects. There, she kept a handmade envelope, with the flowers inside, and now the stone would keep them company.

    -Thank you, so much. -She smiled, but took a deep breath and started a conversation that she knew could go bad, but was necessary. -Bob, I'd like to know what you think about Corey. About Fox.

    -What do you mean? He's smart and is probably the best source of information you'll find here… I don't know much about him, only that Desmond used to have a ton of respect for him. -Bob furrowed his eyebrows as he served himself a generous amount of pudding. -I mean, he's nice, dude knows how to listen, and knows when to keep his mouth shut. I appreciate both things.

    -Do you trust him?

    -I don't trust my own shadow in this place. But since he wants to screw Daniel as much as I do, we're on the same boat. -Bob shrugged. -And there's no way he isn't on our side. I know for a fact that he's been sabotaging Daniel's plans one after another. He does things clever, but I’ve got my eyes on him since the first week I was brought here. I don't know how he always gets away with it.

    Belle pressed her lips. She would have to find a way of keeping Bob and Corey at bay until she was sure she could trust them. They were on the same side, that was certain, but she couldn't tell if it meant that it was her own side. Since she didn't believe sitting and waiting would help, she decided to test the limits.

    -Do you happen to have wives here? -She cautiously asked and was glad when he immediately explained that he did have two girls living with him, but that he had never touched them. -Look, Bob… I have a plan to take the girls out of the plates… I think you could help me.

    When Daniel didn't show up in her apartment for a whole day, Belle got worried, believing that he might be planning to do something awful against her. Instead of torturing herself, though, she occupied herself with helping Bob in the task of identifying and listing potential allies, and planning tests to ensure they wouldn't mistakenly bring an impostor in.

    -Ok, I'm sure we're safe with those sixteen here. Those three… I'll need to watch them more carefully, but I really believe they are the deal too. -Bob pointed at the “names” she had written in red, then the ones she had used orange to write. He read the names in green and nodded firmly. -Those are all faithful to him, or are too afraid to act. We don't need to take the risk, we'd better leave them out.

    -Right. Now we need to prepare them. Daniel will take me with him to greet a group of well known scientists tomorrow, so we can start with them. -She thought about it, then nodded. -Corey said there's usually at least four knights there, but that it should triple because of me. Our chances of having at least two there are high. I need you to take care of it. We need to make sure that at least one of you is gonna be there.

    -Right… Is it ok if I invite Fox to help me? -He seemed uneasy. Belle cursed herself for being so obvious.

    -No. -She tried to keep her voice calm but firm. -You and I, we're the only ones who should know about it. The others should not know why.

    It wasn't true. Lion also knew all details of the plan, and Jack too. It was risky, since one of them could be infiltrated, but she needed to be sure that there would be information from more than one source, to avoid sabotage.

    Fortunately the three of them brought exactly the same names and time of landing. Belle felt ecstatic. Her plan would probably work.

    She was deep asleep when the door to her bedroom opened with a loud noise and Daniel stumbled in. Her pulse quickened and she involuntarily flinched, curling into a ball and trying to protect her face and head with her arms.

    -Belle? What are you doing, girl? Are you ok? -His voice was slurred, but his tone was friendly. She felt his weight over the mattress as he kneeled over her bed and moved toward her. -Don't cry, Belle, I'm here, I'll take care of you.

    Belle lifted her head and stared at him. He moved to put one arm around her waist, but she pushed away.

    -What are you doing? -She gasped, trying to push him back. -Please, Daniel, get out!

    -I need you. -His breath smelled of alcohol and she could swear there was a white dust right under his nostril. Daniel didn't ever drink. He didn't do drugs either, as far as she knew. But here he was, drunk and high, sitting in her bed. -I really need you, Belle. It's too hard, I need my girl…

    And just like that, he collapsed over her, sobbing and crying. For a moment, she was paralyzed. His body was heavy, and she fell back, sustaining both their weights with her elbow, but trying to sit back up.

    -Please hold me… Please, Belle, I know that we can get through this together… -He sniffed and shook his head. -You know I'm the only one that was always there for you, you have to be here for me now.

    Belle watched him with a mix of compassion and aversion. This didn't sound like the monster who had kidnapped her. It sounded like Daniel, her friend, who had supported and cared for her for almost a decade.

    -Tell me, my love… Why isn't it working, Belle? Those fucking sinners, they think they can use me, I don't know what to do… -His words were punctuated by sobs and sniffs. -I'm afraid, Belle… I can't go on like this, but I can't stop, I can't go back and fix those mistakes… I'm done. There are only three possible ways for me: victory, death or prison. I swear to God, I'm not gonna be arrested.

    -Daniel… What happened? -She swallowed down her urge to tell him he was wrong and that he should turn himself in. It wasn't just through pure empathy. The fact was that she knew it wouldn't be easy to convince him. She'd have to conquer his trust, to begin with. -Let me help you, tell me what happened.

    -I can't let them win. They think they can control me, control us… They want to distort the truth. They won't. -Daniel's eyes flared and Belle was scared by how fast he had stopped crying. -John 8:32, Belle. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. I am the truth. I'm the only truth they should trust.

    Belle tilted her head involuntarily. What on earth could he be talking about?

    -They want me to deviate from my path. They want me to abandon my plan of bringing the system down, of ending the establishment. They want me to call it off and act in silence, to move behind the curtains as a secondary agent. -The tears were back, but this time his face was so enraged it made her flinch. -They want to take our crown, Belle! I'd rather die than let them take our righteous place!

    Belle nodded and held his head to her shoulder. So not everyone was willing to take his menace against democracy and humanity so lightly. She thought about the names she had read three times each that morning. She didn't know most of them, but guessed that either they didn't know about the most macabre part of the palace or they weren't willing to let it spread all over the country. Maybe some of them would be useful later in Daniel's trial.

    Daniel mumbled and muttered about how often the sheeps at the plates were miscarrying, complaining that it was gonna delay his plans. She felt heartbroken for the women and cried along with him, although for completely different reasons. He believed God was punishing the women for being impure, or was preventing bad breedings from evolving. When she tried to convince him that the environment on the plates and the way they were being treated was certainly the cause for them losing their babies, he dismissed the idea and got angry, so she shut up and listened as he told her about his hopes that he would have enough male babies to form a strong army.

    She stayed in silence, trying to keep her opinion to herself. He weighed down on her and she realized how afraid she was of the possibility of him trying to abuse her. Even so, she let him cry and sob for a long time. Her arm was tingling and it was hard to breathe, but she waited. When he started to snore, she pushed him aside and put some distance between them.

    She couldn't sleep. The few times she had involuntarily nodded off, Daniel's loud snores had woken her up and triggered an immediate panic attack. When Daniel finally woke up, the light of the sun was already piercing through the curtains and he smiled at her before grimacing with the pain in his head.

    -Don't tell anyone about last night. -It was the first thing that left his mouth, his breath smelling awful, to the point Belle had to discreetly cover her nose with her forearm as she nodded. -We shouldn't ever sleep on the same bed before our wedding.

    Belle nodded again, hoping that he wasn't planning to arrange that marriage anytime soon.

    -I have something I need to ask you about… -He murmured, pressing his eyes with his fists. Belle got up and served him a glass of water. When he snatched it from her hand he paused for a moment, as if evaluating the possibility of it being poisoned. -Your husband. Did he had sex with you?

    Belle frowned and he chugged down the water, then stared at her. The glass was made of plastic, and she guessed that was the only reason why he wasn't threatening to throw it at her, since his irritation due to her silence was clear in his face.

    -Did he, Isabelle? -He tilted his head and stared into her eyes, making her feel uncomfortable.

    He was using her name again. Belle gulped and shook her head, hoping that he wouldn't ask anything else.

    -His name.

    -No. -She shook her head again.

    -Why not? -He frowned.

    -Because I know what you will do to him and I don't want you to. Please, leave him alone.

    -Was it real? Were you two a couple? I need to know. Did you consummate it?

    -No. -She said firmly. -The government made up the documents.

    Daniel thought about it for a while, then sighed.

    -Was it something your lawyers arranged? Were they in with that plan? -He frowned.

    -Don't you dare hurt my lawyers! -She raised her voice involuntarily.

    -Why would I? -He looked confused. -I need them, to get your money, are you stupid?

    Belle shut her mouth immediately. She didn't want to think about what he meant by that. Knowing that he wouldn't hurt Mr. Stenfel, Mr. Alesky or her other employees gave her some peace of mind, and that was all that mattered.

    They sat in silence for a few minutes, then Daniel nodded.

    -I'm gonna find him, and I'm gonna kill him, just for safety. -He looked down and seemed to be disconcerted. -Thank you, Belle… For taking care of me, last night… I'll compensate you for that.

    -There's no need to… -She feigned a smile. -You can come and talk whenever you need to. I'm here for you, Daniel.

    It was a situation so absurd her cheeks burned and she felt goosebumps run through her forearms. She couldn't believe she was offering a hand to the man who had kidnapped and tortured her, and was threatening to kill the man she loved, on top of that.

    -No, I will see that you get rewarded for that. Get up, I'll take you for a walk. -He got out of the room without looking at her face, and she waited for the maids while thinking about how far she could go, how much she could ask for, without triggering a negative reaction from his part.

    They were walking down another garden, larger than the other one. This one had a huge cage where a family of marmosets jumped from a small tree full of blackberries to another, which, at first, she couldn't guess what it was, although she could swear she had seen the small red fruits full of ridges before. Daniel picked a handful of them for her, and she loved the taste, since it reminded her of Ryan.

    Turns out she had seen the fruit in Domenico's island, but hadn't tasted it, although Ryan had tried to convince her to. They were Surinam Cherries, or Pitanga. Daniel explained that the trees and animals had been brought by a politician from Brazil, a friend of his family, who was a dear sponsor of their cause. When Belle asked if the tree wouldn't die when winter hit the USA, Daniel smirked and told her not to worry about it.

    Belle sighed, feeling frustrated that her plan of getting a hint on their location had failed, but didn't let it bring her down. She had a plan, and that was more than she could ask for. Now she had to give her all so that everything went according to her plans.

    She tried to please him by listening closely and nodding to all his nonsensical babble about their future reign, while feeding the monkeys with the small fruits that were abundant there, but also apple pieces that a maid had brought in a bowl.

    -You're proving to be such a perfect bride-to-be, Belle… I'm very happy with you, you behaved so beautifully in front of our guests, they all congratulated me for having you… -Daniel was watching her as she handed another piece of fruit to the chubbiest of the small monkeys. -We should talk about your reward soon.

    -About that… -Belle mused, pretending to be thinking about it for the first time, even though she had weighed many options during the whole morning.

    He was giving her the opportunity to make demands, so she didn't see any problem with taking advantage of it. She offered him the half empty bowl and he made a face but took it, then started to throw the fruits randomly, making the animals run to catch them. It didn't take long for the small creatures to start to fight over the food and he seemed to be pleased by watching them.

    -There was something I wanted to ask you. It would mean a lot if you would trust me about it… -Daniel gave her a sideway look, as if expecting her to try to stab him in the back. -I was thinking that, since you've been helping me to purify and it's been working so well…

    She paused to check his expression. He was still tense, but gave her a proud smirk and puffed his chest.

    -I could try to help those girls in Plates to purify too…

    -No. -He rolled his eyes and started to walk away.

    -You didn't even hear how! - She lifted the rim of her dress to be able to run after him. -Why won't you listen, at least?

    -Women are naturally vile, Belle. They'll ruin all my work. You don't leave a bunch of women alone when they have demons inside them. -He sighed and signaled for a maid to take back the empty bowl.

    She ran to get it, but he let go of it before she was close enough to touch it. It hit the stone bench and cracked into big pieces.

    -See? Never trust a woman to do something a man could do. -He glared at her and walked around the shards.

    The woman kept her head low but didn't apologize nor gave any signs of irritation. Belle took a deep breath and tried to keep her voice firm.

    -I believe God is telling me to do that, Daniel. He sent me a message to do that. -She said it loud enough so the maids and knights waiting by the corridor would hear it. Daniel immediately stopped walking and turned to face her, with narrowed eyes. -I mean… I dreamt about it, many times, ever since I came here, but yesterday it was very clear, there was this voice telling me that's what we need to do to make our most powerful army come true.

    As the words came out her mouth, new details were added to back her story without much effort. Lying to him was easier than lying to Ryan, and she didn't really feel ashamed or guilty for that. Still, Daniel didn't yet seem convinced. He pressed his lips and looked down, lost in thoughts.

    -You could send a knight with me, so he'd keep watch on us. I'd teach them about the Bible and how to behave, it would be good, wouldn't it? -She made the most innocent face she managed to when he raised his head to face her. -We could try for a few weeks, and if it doesn't work, you can cancel it…

    -I don't want you to go back to that place… -He shook his head slightly, but she knew he was trying to make up excuses. -It did you more harm than good.

    It's doing them harm too, you asshole! She had to bite her lower lip to stop from cursing him. He took a step back and cursed, covering his forehead with his arm. She looked up when she realized that the sun was shining straight into his face, and he had to do that to protect his green eyes from the rays. When she looked around, she realized the place was even more beautiful with the sunlight hitting it from that angle.

    Now that the monkeys were less active, a group of small birds would come and go, feeding themselves with the fruits that had been sprawled through the grass.

    -I could teach them here. -She said bluntly and he tilted his head. -God dwells in nature, isn't it true? What else could help them more than being surrounded by His presence? A couple of hours everyday, here. I'll only need a Bible, some bottles of water and the girls.

    Daniel let out a loud huff. She lifted one eyebrow defiantly.

    -You planned it all, didn't you? -He narrowed his eyes, putting his arm down. -How can I be sure it's not the devil who's talking through you?

    Belle sighed but looked him straight in the eyes. He didn't give any signs of giving in, so she felt them brimming.

    -Ok… We'll try for a day or two. But keep this in mind: If you get worse, I'll make them pay. -He added when he saw her smile. -How long will each class take?

    -Three hours a day? Two hours. -She corrected it quickly when he frowned. She wanted to keep those women out of their cells for as long as she could, but didn't want to try her luck. -One hour, everyday.

    -One hour every other day. -He made a face. -And I'll have to think about who I will assign to accompany you… I'll need the best knights on it, those rats could try to harm you. Maybe Fox could be useful…

    -I don't want him. -She shook her head vigorously. -I hate him.

    -Then he's certainly gonna be one. -Daniel took the warm scented towel that a maid offered him to clean his hands and signaled Belle to do the same. -If you liked him, that would be a problem.

    He ordered Corey to approach and explained her idea to him, asking his opinion and concerns about it.

    -Well, my Lord… -The cop mused while trying to look into Belle's eyes, with no success. -You said it yourself that it would be better if we could have only golden sheeps… Maybe that's what God has been trying to tell you, don't you think it sounds like that's the case?

    Daniel frowned and looked from Belle to Corey, then back to Belle.

    -Do you really believe she could do it? -He seemed uncertain. -And wouldn't it be dangerous to have her here? I won't take unnecessary risks.

    -We could limit the access to the area… It wouldn't be an issue.

    -I don't know… I don't like the idea of those animals walking around my hallways… -Daniel made a face and started to walk down the corridor. -I think it could work, if we had it in B3…

    Corey signaled Belle to follow Daniel and walked behind her, with the knights and bodyguards close behind them. They stopped at another square open garden. This one was covered by a thin net all around.

    Only when they were near enough to touch it Belle understood why it was made this way. Inside there were colorful birds chirping and singing. There were small trees loaded with orange and red fruits that she didn't recognize. She looked around, trying to understand if there was a way in.

    -Belle could sit here on this bench and we could leave the sheeps inside. -Daniel nodded toward the huge cage. -Aside from the birds shitting on their heads, it would be enough space, and I think it would be more than they deserve…

    -If you allow me, my Lord, B3 wouldn't solve any of the two problems. -Corey interrupted Belle when she opened her mouth to complain. -We can't block this corridor, because it takes to the elevator 3. The princess would be vulnerable either way and having a crowd here could stress the birds….

    -What's your suggestion, then? -Daniel scoffed.

    -The outer garden. -Corey shrugged. -The walls would be enough to discourage them from trying to run, and since there's only one gate, I could easily assure her safety with three or four men. Here I'd need at least ten. Maybe even more, depending on how many of them you're planning to bring.

    Daniel thought about it. He absentmindedly pulled Belle closer, resting his arm over her shoulder, and pinched her cheek repeatedly until she tried to push his hand away. Her skin was burning and there was a faint sensation of pain there.

    -We'll discuss the details tonight, in my chambers. Bring me ten names. I want the most disciplined and trustworthy you have. -He nodded and the relief in Corey's face was visible. -One more thing. Remember that idea of her coming with me to welcome the investors and to see them out? I still didn't get an answer from you…

    Corey stared at him for a long time without a single word. Belle tried not to let it show how anxious she was, but watched him cautiously, even though he wouldn't look at her. After a while, he pressed his lips and shook his head.

    -I’m sorry for taking this long, your majesty… I still need to make sure I'll cover all the variables, my Lord. There are so many pros and cons here… I'm pondering about it, to be able to give you my best advice on the subject.

    -I wouldn't expect less from you, Fox, but time is running. You have until tomorrow at night. We'll have our first guest in five days, and if we're really gonna do this, there's much to prepare… -He didn't give any signs of what he really thought about the idea. -I think that thing with the sheeps could help us check if she's really rid of the Demon. We should try it tomorrow. You're dismissed for now.

    Corey nodded and took a few steps back while bowing slightly first to Daniel, then to her, then turned and walked away.

    Belle felt a lump form in her throat. Now, more than ever, she would have the opportunity to find out if Corey was an enemy or an ally. Even though her heart hoped for the best, her mind kept telling her there was no use in hoping. Hope wouldn't save them, deeds would.
     
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  6. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Tq author:love::love:
    Its really thrill me because belle plan can be good or bad..this situation loong way to go.
     
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  7. TZia

    TZia Well-Known Member

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    I wish I knew what Belle’s plan was but I don’t have hopes that it was successful given the events in the first chapter:(
    But maybe Diana will help, if they actually managed to track her movements with the satellites and drones.
     
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  8. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Isabelle arwen :bloblove: ryan alexander
    Im waiting for their reunite and get married. And have kids together..::blobcatsmile::
     
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  9. willamsjessica

    willamsjessica New Member

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    great
     
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  10. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

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    Welcome, @willamsjessica =) hope you like it :love:
     
  11. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

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    Dear readers, I'm now revising chapter 13 to post it =) expect to do that in one or two hours ;)
     
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  12. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

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    Chapter 13

    Belle spent the night tossing and turning, staring at the candles, too anxious to sleep. What if everything went terribly wrong? What if instead of sparing those women from a greater abuse she were condemning them to something even worse? What if Daniel had cameras and microphones there all the time, to prevent her from talking with them at all? There was also the fear that he'd stay there, watching her, or order one of his bodyguards to stand watch in his place. The butterflies that had taken flight inside her stomach when he had come to her room the night before to confirm that her first class would start at 7 a.m. had now transformed into huge vicious vultures, eating her insides.

    Even as she took brief naps until dawn, she would wake up soaked in sweat, her heart slamming her chest, and would check her surroundings, fearing that Daniel could invade her room again and be hiding behind the curtains or under her blanket. As soon as the sun provided enough clarity inside the apartment, she got up and locked herself inside the bathroom, then cried in the shower until a maid knocked on the door to tell her that they were there to get her ready.

    Fortunately, her worries proved wrong. When she got inside the car, with Daniel by her side, she was certain that he'd watch her closely, but he made a point of apologizing, since he wouldn't be able to accompany her everyday. He had changed his schedule that morning to support her, since he felt she would need to command respect, and didn't believe she could do it without him. Belle agreed with him for the sake of her own safety, but she doubted that any of those girls could nurture anything close to respect toward him.

    When the large wooden gates opened for them, Belle let out a gasp of awe. It was a wide beautiful garden, full of flowers, trees and what looked like a small lake with a wooden bridge that seemed to lead to a path to a wide orchidarium.

    -Do you like it? -He tilted his head with a proud smirk widening in his face.

    -Is it… Did you really…? -She was out of words.

    If her guess was right, there should be a greenhouse somewhere. She turned her head, looking for it as they walked between the trees and spotted it at the farthest point of the garden. She turned to stare at Daniel with surprise clear on her face.

    -It is our design, but they had to change a few things. The orchidarium, for example, Chloe wanted it to be right at the entrance, we'd come in through it, but it was inconvenient to build it here, due to the slopes there and there, the amount of sunlight the angle would provide et cetera, well, it doesn't matter, anyway. I couldn't have a river here, either, for obvious reasons, but I got a lake build, is it good enough?

    Belle had tears in her eyes. Bill, Chloe, Daniel and herself, together they had designed a model garden exactly like that for a project in highschool, and she had mused about how expensive it would be to have it built in real life size. Chloe had insisted that she should buy a mansion and have it built in her backyard, but she had considered it impossible. Memories of the months they had spent together, enjoying each other's company while planning and building miniatures, made her chest feel tight.

    -Do you like it or not? It took almost a year to build, you should at least thank me! -Daniel clicked his tongue and looked away. -You're so ungrateful sometimes…

    -I loved it, Daniel, I'm sorry, you've got me speechless, that's all. -She frowned when she spotted a square of sorts with a wide pavilion in its center. Chairs had been arranged in front of it, under the sun, and a single armchair with a desk had been placed in the middle of it. -What is that for?

    Only when they approached it, she saw the line of women standing near one of the tall stone walls that turned the wide garden into a fortress. They were wearing light white dresses, but seemed to be tired and thirsty, which made Belle wonder how long they had been there, waiting for her. Four well armed guards were standing watch. As soon as they spotted Daniel's bodyguards, they led the girls to the front of the pavilion, where the chairs were placed, and ordered them to stand there.

    -Good morning, my sheeps. -Daniel guided her to the stone stairs that led to the pavilion and put an arm in front of her to keep her one step behind him. -Today a new era begins for you… Today, God, all mighty and benevolent, will give you a second chance. A chance to repent. A chance to be dignified. A chance to live beyond your miserable existence full of sins and obscenities…

    And then he went on with a passionate speech. Belle was impressed. Even more than when she had watched him speak to the new knights, or when he was greeting the guests for his festival.

    His charisma was at its apex. Passion, confidence, deepness, all that was there, and even though he was clearly putting the blame for everything those women were going through exclusively on them, he did it in a way that made it sound like he was eager to take them from that condition to a better one. When he finished, some of the women were crying, but most of them seemed to be eager for the end of it.

    -You, my dear flock, have an important mission to carry: you'll be the bringer of a new perfect generation, of an almighty army. Through your wombs, God will send us the most beautiful women, the strongest men. -He stopped and looked around with a lunatic smile that gave Belle shivers. The women too seemed to be baffled by the idea. -Only with that army, and those servant angels, will we be able to make this country, and maybe this world, become great, and sacred, and perfect. Only with that army will we be able to swipe this country from the vile, petty, greedy, devilish men that refuse to accept the right way of living. Only with natural golden sheeps, the angels that will be taught to serve their men and raise their children under the beautiful law of God, will we make this world shine under the Creator's greatness.

    As soon as Daniel shut up, the guards started a long round of applause, to which the women joined a bit too late in reaction to their scowl.

    -But be warned: if any of you try to get out of this square, disrespect my wife-to-be on any level, or try to harm her, or my men, I'll have your heads on a pole. -Daniel added with a wide smile and a kind tone that didn't really match his words. -I'll make your disgusting lives miserable before I do that. Death will be a reward compared to what you'll suffer before it arrives. So, for God's sake and yours, watch yourselves and show your best behavior here.

    Belle was cringing beside him, wishing he would stop talking and walk away, so when he turned and stared at her expectantly, she took some time to realize he was expecting her to do something.

    -Kiss me. -Daniel murmured between teeth, raising his eyebrows as if she was dumb.

    -I'm sorry? -She was truly confused by his words.

    -You should kiss me now and thank me for being here for you, they are waiting… -He sounded a bit more impatient but barely moved his lips, sustaining his proud smile. -You need to show them your devotion to me.

    Belle thought about it, then leaned toward him to whisper in his ear. He involuntarily closed his eyes in anticipation and she had to hold herself not to laugh on his face.

    -We shouldn't indulge in lascivious behavior, you told me that, remember? - His eyes cracked open. She gave him her most innocent smile. -Besides, what kind of example would I be giving to them? Do you want them to think that's how they should behave in public?

    Daniel narrowed his eyes and kissed her forehead, the way he used to do before he had dragged her to that sanatorium.

    -You're right, as always. -He rolled his eyes and took a step back, but then seemed to remember something and pulled her close again. -Look here: if I hear that you or any of those whores tried to run or rebel in any way, I'm gonna slit the throats of every single one of them, in front of you.

    Daniel watched her gulp and nod, then turned and walked away. He didn't look back even once while he left the garden, and all his bodyguards followed him.

    Belle stood there for a few minutes, scrutinizing the pavilion's roof and the columns. No cameras could be seen, no microphones either. Aside from the lamps, she couldn't see any wires, either, so she guessed it was safe to say that he wasn't spying on her. The guards had moved to stand in strategic positions, probably to be able to stop the girls, in case they tried to run.

    Closer to her, there were two knights. One was Lion, the other was a tall blond man who she had met only once. He had been assigned to escort her and Daniel to greet a French scientist, along with other knights. They called him Jaguar, and she guessed he weighed at least twice as much as Lion. Still, he had smiled at her when Daniel couldn't see it, and had made sure to keep all the other knights focused on her while her allies took notes on the time of landing. Lion trusted him, so she preferred to believe that he was a true ally.

    Belle took a deep breath, then started her class. She presented herself, saying that the girls could call her Belle, and that they would read the Bible and discuss a few topics. After reading out loud for a couple of minutes, she asked the girls to climb up the stairs and form a circle around her so they could discuss the subject of the passage she had read.

    The guards seemed to be alarmed by that, and two of them even exchanged glances, as if trying to decide if they should intervene or not, but when Lion stood in front of the stairs after the last girl had come up, they just looked away, probably concluding it would be the knights’ problem if something happened to Belle.

    -Ok, let's take a break for water… Are you thirsty? Can we have water here, please? -She looked around as she sat with them on the floor. Jaguar pulled a pack from under her desk and started to distribute the bottles around. When every one of them had their own bottle, Belle turned to him. -Thank you, Jaguar, do you mind giving us some privacy, please?

    He eyed her with surprise and discomfort clear on his face, but did as she told him to, jumping down from the pavilion and standing a dozen feet away.

    -Alright… Look, girls, we're not here to read the Bible or to please Daniel, the one you know as Lord… -She murmured loud enough so the girls could hear her, but too low for Lion and Jaguar to be able to hear her, let alone the guards standing far. -Here's the thing: I think there might be a way of ending the Plates, of making sure you won't suffer as you've been suffering anymore.

    -Becoming like you? -A redhead girl crossed her arms over her chest with a defiant posture.

    Belle had seen her before. It was Twenty-two, the girl she had seen being mistreated by the priestesses and the guards during all the time she had stayed in Plates. She was very beautiful, with smart hazel eyes and full lips. Belle was surprised to realize how much the freckles, that she didn't like in herself, added to the girl's beauty.

    -No. What's your name? -Belle shook her head and smiled, keeping her voice as low as possible, hoping that the girl would understand she should do the same.

    -Why do you care? It's not like you really can do anything for us, you're just his sex slave, as much as we are for his clients. -The girls sitting beside Twenty-two tried to discreetly put some distance from her. -You don't rule a thing here, you're just his courtesan!

    Belle felt anxious when she saw one of the guards turning his head to check what was happening there. She flipped a page of the Bible she had kept open over her lap and read out loud a few verses of Leviticus, waiting until the guard looked away again, before turning to the girl.

    -Can you, please, keep your voice low? We can't afford to be caught talking about anything other than the Bible. -She tried to sound sympathetic, but couldn't allow one woman to be the demise of all of them, especially if it happened for petty reasons. -I understand that you don't believe me. You don't know me. I'm asking you the benefit of the doubt… Give me a chance to prove to you that I'm on your side, please?

    The girl rolled her eyes and huffed. Belle looked around and could tell that at least half of the women felt the same, but wouldn't voice it out loud.

    -Well, if not to take you out of the Plates permanently, our meetings will serve to keep you out of there for a couple of hours, every other day. -She looked around into their eyes, one by one, letting the message sink in. -I bet you like being here, seeing the sun, the trees, eating fruits and having as much water as you want. So, if you're not gonna help me, let's at least keep this plan a secret, ok?

    Some of them nodded, but all of them seemed to agree, one way or another.

    -I want to know. I want to know how I can get out of that place. -One of the girls, a short brunette, murmured.

    -Thank you for giving me that chance… What's your name?

    After some hesitation, the girl revealed it: Molly. Belle explained that it was important that they understood that they shouldn't see each other as numbers. It was important that they kept their humanity and, although she hoped they would work together from there on, giving each other psychological and emotional support, they should be able to maintain their individual conscience intact, and see their own lives as the most important thing in the world.

    Saying it out loud, she understood, for the first time, why Ryan had chewed her out for saying she loved him more than her own life. She still felt like somehow he was a priority in her life, but the feeling that she'd be ok to give it up so easily was gone. She wanted to live, by his side, if possible, but live nonetheless.

    She waited for them to process what she had just told them and came to the conclusion that it would take time for them to recover the will to hold on to hope, so she just moved on to the next topic, the most important one: her plan to take them out of the plates and to finish it, for good.

    -I… I don't know. -A blond girl, who looked so young Belle wondered if she wasn't underaged, mumbled and stuttered, but after Belle encouraged her to say whatever was on her mind without expecting any reprimands, she managed to express her worries. -What I mean is that they don't let those guys kill us. What will happen to us, inside that room? No one knows!

    Belle thought about it. Bob had assured her he had talked to most of those loyal men, and that they were all willing to volunteer for taking the girls, but there was still a solid possibility of an enemy getting them, instead. If that happened, no one would be able to dispute it. Still, he said it was a subject that disturbed all of them profoundly, so he believed they would fight with all their might to win, no matter who was their opponent.

    He hadn't had the opportunity to explain the details of how Daniel decided who would get the girls, but apparently Corey played a part in it, and it would be a great opportunity to test his trustworthiness.

    -We have some allies… I won't mention names, so neither you or them will be in danger, but they can help us with that… -She knew the uncertainty was too thick in her voice, but tried to assure them. -It would be temporary, anyway. If everything goes as planned, we'll soon be out and away from here.

    All eyes turned to her. Even the girls who had kept their heads low or the ones that were, until then, avoiding looking at her were now staring, with eager eyes.

    -Is someone coming to rescue us? -A woman close to her whispered, with tears filling her eyes.

    -Not yet. Not that I know. -She could hear the sighs of disappointment all around and even a brief sob. -But I've got a plan to find out our location, and I'm confident that it will work.

    -Let's pray that it works. -The woman immediately answered, but the hope that had been sparked in her face was gone.

    -We shouldn't wait to be rescued. We should gather those allies, they should get us guns and we should end them with our own hands. -The redhead girl gritted her teeth. -You're asking us to keep our heads down, get even more humiliated, and become…

    -I'm asking you to survive. To get the minimum necessary to live as human beings until we can get out of here! -Belle frowned. -Do your idea really sounds more reasonable? To arm ourselves and resource to violence, without any skills to do that, against people who are trained and preached to be violent everyday? Most of us would die in that scenario, and the ones who would manage to survive would have to live with the guilt of murder, does that really sound reasonable to you?

    Twenty-two still had an enraged look on her face, but Belle could see it was a different kind of indignation. She believed the girl could be feeling impotent and hopeless, so she tried to calm herself before speaking again.

    -We are gathering more allies. But we need to be cautious and discreet. We need to be sure that they won't suspect anyone, that none of us will be harmed, if we can avoid it. -Belle looked around and saw heads nodding here and there. She could tell that most of those girls didn't even know how to hold a gun. -You see… Fighting against someone stronger and more experienced than you could go really bad, for us and for others. We shouldn't do it, unless we have no choice…

    She told them about how bad her injuries had been after fighting Trevor for the first time, and how guilty she felt about the possibility of having killed him during their second struggle. Some of the girls seemed awed about the idea of killing their torturers and captors, but most of them, Molly among them, shared her discomfort.

    -I've heard you got Wolf and Coyote killed after they beat you. Is that true? I'm Grace. -It was one of the oldest women there, around her mid thirties. -Did you order them to be killed?

    -No, I wouldn't do that. But Daniel, did. I mean, to Coyote, I don't know what happened to Wolf… -Belle felt the warning signs of a panic attack as she relived the moment of Coyote’s death. It didn't take much for the memories of the man's suffering to intertwine with the flashes of Bill begging for his life, while trying to convince her to run and hide.

    She pressed her palms to the wooden floor and breathed in and out slowly, trying to hold on to consciousness, but her armpits and temples felt hot and damp. Her head spinned and she felt as if her heart would explode, then her whole body felt heavy and cold. It was only when a tear hit the back of her hand that her mind managed to return to the garden. She looked around. Lion had a hand over her shoulder. He sighed and moved his arm to her back as he crouched to offer her a bottle of water.

    -Are you ok, your majesty? -He tried to look into her eyes, but she kept them on the wooden floor, full of thick drops. -Do you want to go back to your apartment?

    -No, please. Did someone else see it? -She wiped her face with the back of her hands. Lion took a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to her. -Thank you… Did they see it?

    -Certainly. But I told them to keep their positions. -Lion whispered. -Are you sure you don't want to go back? You're covered in sweat and your cheeks are very red.

    -No, I want to keep them here for as long as I can. How much time do we still have? -Belle gulped down half of the bottle at once, then used the handkerchief to wipe her eyes and forehead. She was, indeed, covered in sweat. -There's something I need to tell them, do you mind staying here with me, please?

    -I'm at your service, your majesty. -Lion nodded.

    She turned to look at him for the first time. There was worry clear on his face, but there was also fear. He was on one knee beside her, and she guessed it had to be uncomfortable to stay like that for long, but he didn't move.

    -If you'll feel more comfortable, you should stand, I just want you to keep me from hitting my head, in case I pass out, ok? -Belle said it as calmly as she could, although she could feel her cheeks burning from shame. She took a deep breath, then turned to the girls. -He forced me to watch it. He said he'll do the same to you, if you try to run away or rebel here. That's why I'm begging you to keep your voices low…

    The girls exchanged glances and darted her eyes between Belle and Lion.

    -He won't tell. But please, don't act differently with him, it's important that no one knows he's on our side, ok? -She was afraid for Lion, but guessed it wouldn't work to try to cover him up now. -Daniel did that before, a year ago… With my best friend… And, although I don't really remember all of it, it still makes me feel like I could die every time I think about it, ‘cause I have flashes…

    She shook her head vigorously.

    -Death is not an easy thing to watch. I can't understand how someone can live on, knowing they caused other people's death. I try to keep myself from thinking about it, but if Trevor is not alive… -She shook her head again and forced herself to look into each one of their faces, feeling her eyes brimming. Twenty-two still had a hateful stare as she looked back into her eyes. -If I took his life, I don't think I'm any better than him.

    She saw it with her peripheral vision when Lion moved to look away. Was it possible that he, too, regretted shooting people? Although it was his duty to protect people, there had to be situations when he had to choose between one life and another. Ryan didn't really seem to find it difficult, he seemed to see the difference pretty clearly between who should live and who should die. She wondered if Daniel felt like him, like he was doing the right thing when he decided to take someone's life, or if he, too, felt guilty afterwards.

    -And that's why I need you to keep something very clear in your minds: he could send someone, or even go there, in person, and try to convince you to tell him what we've been talking about here. No matter what he offers you, you need to tell him that we're finding God and his way, ok? If you could memorize some pages of the Bible, that would help too.

    She could see that they weren't sure of what kind of offer she could be talking about, so she explained.

    -Even if he tells you that he'll set you free, or that he'll send you to the kitchens, or that he'll make sure no one touches you ever again. -The girls looked eager to have any of those things, and that was bad. The wizard's first rule could easily apply here. -He lies. All the time. And he betrays his friends, without feeling any remorse afterwards. Bill, my best friend, was his friend too. We trusted him. Bill was murdered, only because he was black, and because he was gay. That was enough for Daniel to decide he wasn't worth living. Chloe, our best friend, and I say our, because he told her many times that he liked to have her around, that he saw her in our future… He sent men to try to kill her, to beat her with bats and put fire to the room she was in. The last time I heard of her she was in a coma. He did that only because she tried to warn me that he was coming to take me… Aaron, a guy who used to sell drugs for him in Florida…

    She saw some of them frown at the mention and guessed many of those girls knew Noah's brother.

    -His father is, or at least was, the one to arrange the kidnapping of many of the girls here. Aaron tried to make an alliance with Daniel, in exchange for leading me to be captured. He did his part, and Daniel killed him anyway. -She looked around and was glad to see that none of the girls smiled with the information. They seemed divided between relief and pity. -I don't know the details, but a knight here told me that he suffered terribly before dying, even though they were quick. I really need you to keep that in mind: you shouldn't trust him. He lies and he betrays, that's what he does, and he doesn't regret it.

    The girls all nodded, even Twenty-two was agreeing to those terms.

    -I'll try to make these encounters happen more often or at least last longer. -Belle sighed. -I want to keep you out of that place and from the reach of those monsters as much as I can… For that to happen, Daniel needs to believe you're changing for what he considers the better. It's basically what I told you, to smile more, but without showing your teeth… He says women are ugly when they laugh or smile wide… And if you can at least seem religious, even if you're not, just look and sound like you're really devoted, that might help too. Don't do it so suddenly, try to be discreet at first, but make sure to let the guards and priestesses see the difference so they can report it…

    After that, the mood between them became something similar to friendly. They chatted and ate fruits that a maid brought for them over a silver plate. The girls seemed more relaxed, but Belle was glad that she hadn't had to warn them about not laughing out loud even once. None of them was feeling like laughing. All of them knew that they'd have to go back to their prison after that moment of peace passed.

    They were listening to the fourth woman in the circle as she told them about her life before being brought to the palace. All of them seemed to have similar backstories: an unstable family, with parents either divorced or fighting often, three of them were students, one still in high school, although eighteen already, and the other two in college. They had all been kidnapped under the same circumstances: a bar or a party, drugs and drinks, a handsome man or woman had approached, offered them a drink and then they couldn't remember anything other than finding themselves gagged and bound inside a small empty room or a car.

    That fourth woman seemed to have a different story, though. She had had a bad fight with her husband, with whom she had been having a toxic relationship for almost two years. Her family had turned their backs to her the moment she had announced she would marry the guy. All of them had immediately disapproved of their relationship, for reasons that seemed obvious to Belle: on top of the emotional and psychological abuse, the guy beat her, frequently, although never in the face or somewhere that could be easily spotted.

    She narrated terrible events, like one time when he had gotten her drunk and she had woken up having his initials tattooed on her neck. He had held her down during the whole process and his friend had done the work, laughing and mocking her until it was done. She was clearly ashamed of admitting her passivity about the abuses, but kept talking. The events were numerous. He used to burn her with cigarettes, throw dishes or bottles at the walls, and there had been occasions when he had turned down job offers on her behalf, using her cell phone and email without her knowledge or permission.

    No one questioned her reasons to stay with him despite all that abuse, but she explained them anyway: she had nowhere to go, since he had alienated her from her friends and family, she was afraid for her own life, and she believed he would change with time, since he would almost always apologize, declare unconditional love for her and treat her like a princess in front of his friends.

    One day he had one of his breakdowns due to jealousy, and things got too violent. The trigger was absurd: she had offered coffee to the cable guy without her husband telling her to, and that somehow gave him the impression that they were flirting in front of him. After a whole night of bloody beating, she finally decided to go to the police. Before she reached the station, though, she was dragged to a van and had something injected in her leg, very similar to how Belle had been captured. She was sure her husband had some connection with Daniel and told them that, aside from hygiene and mobility conditions, what she had endured till then felt as bad as what she was suffering now.

    The other girls seemed to feel too uncomfortable to share their stories after hearing all that, so they kept their heads down and ate in silence.

    A few minutes after they had finished eating, a knight came and rushed toward the pavilion, announcing that the Lord was summoning his bride to be and the two knights appointed to protect her. The reason: he wanted to know why she hadn't been taken back to her room immediately after her one hour was due.

    Belle turned her head to question Lion, and he admitted that they had exceeded the time limit of the class by almost fifteen minutes.

    -I'm sorry, Belle… I didn't want to bother you for that, you were still looking bad, I just… I'm sorry. -Lion whispered near her ear, checking if the guards weren't too close. -Now that I'm thinking about it… I should've guessed he could get pissed with the delay. I swear, I thought he wouldn't even know…

    -It's ok, Lion, don't be that hard on yourself… Thank you for caring about me. Don't worry, I'll take all the blame. -Belle tried to appease him. -I'll tell him you and Jaguar told me to end the class immediately, but that I ordered you to wait until they finished reading the whole passage we were studying… I think that will work, don't worry.

    The girls too seemed to be afraid of possible consequences, but Belle just told them to keep calm and try to do as they had agreed, until their next meeting.

    They started to get in line to walk down the stairs, with Jaguar instructing the girls and Lion standing close to Belle, with his hand ready in his gun. The other guards started to prepare to escort them out, positioning themselves close to the gate.

    When four girls approached Belle, Lion cautiously put an arm in front of her, but she dismissed him and approached them too.

    -We'll do as you say. -The oldest of them whispered. -Thank you for trying, even if it doesn't work. We need help, any help is welcome.

    -Thank you for trusting me, I'll do everything I can not to let you down. -Belle smiled, fighting back the tears. -I wish I could take you out right now, but you need to be strong and patient, I know I don't have the right to demand this from you, but…

    -It’s ok. We'll wait. -The woman nodded. -Thank you, God bless you, Belle.

    -God bless you, Susan. -Belle answered immediately.

    Although she still didn't believe in God, she knew it was important to the woman, so there was no reason not to do that. Susan seemed surprised that she had memorized her name and smiled back. It was the first time Belle saw a smile since the class had begun, and it warmed her heart to see it. It was a very beautiful smile and it looked like a rose blooming in a desert.

    -We need to go. -Lion murmured near her ear as soon as the last one of them walked out of the gate.

    -Do you think it will be too bad? -Belle trembled at the thought of how Daniel would react about having to wait for her. -Do you think they'll be punished for my mistake?

    -There's only one way of knowing… Thank you for covering me up, I won't be brave and ask you not to. -He gave her an apologetic smile. -He would probably kill me.

    -Don't feel guilty, you did what you thought was best. -Although it could bring terrible consequences for herself and for the girls, she honestly didn't believe he had done it with that intention, so there was no point in making him feel bad about it. -Still, next time, let me know about your decisions, especially if they might affect me or the girls.

    -Copied. -Lion nodded, but he too seemed to be afraid about how Daniel would react.
     
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  13. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Im very satisfy for this long chapter. I hope they will be safe
     
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  14. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Tq author..(y):love:
     
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  15. TZia

    TZia Well-Known Member

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    I still have no idea of what the plan may be.
    When are we going to see or hear from Ryan again? I’m having an abstinence crisis:p
     
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  16. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Just like watching soap opera or telenovela that aired once a week:cry:
     
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  17. GiBro

    GiBro Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking about posting an unreleased POV of Ryan (one that I'll probably not add to his book or the main series) this Wednesday, if you all agree =. That because I'm behind schedule.
    It would be his POV about chapters 20, 21 and a bit of 22 of book 2.
     
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  18. TZia

    TZia Well-Known Member

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    Yes please:):):)
    I would love to read this.
     
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  19. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Yes yes pleasseeeee
    But why not included in hardcopy .i would love too..sorry for many queries:cry::cry::cry::cry:
     
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  20. arinzone

    arinzone Active Member

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    Im,very excited.:p:D
     
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