Sunday: January 5, 2020
7:15 AM; MINNESOTA, THE SURGEON’S HOUSE, BASEMENT
In her little basement prison cell, Cleo sat on a footstool positioned near the end of the bed. The older man, the one who had been her kidnapper, sat behind her on the edge of the mattress, running a brush through her hair. She forced herself not to fight him or try to stop him. From what Natalie had told her, fighting would get her killed, and she didn’t want to die. She wasn’t ready to die.
In the cell beside hers, the young green-eyed man simply observed as Natalie brushed her own hair. He stood with his back to the cell door, arms crossed over his chest, that same detached look in his eyes.
The older man combed his fingers through Cleo’s hair. Satisfied it was knot-free, he set the brush on the bed and rose to his feet. Cleo watched with bated breath as he opened up the cell door. “Come here, darling,” he said softly, a hand extended to her.
Oh, God. Cleo rose to her feet, her legs unsteady beneath her. I’m not ready to die. I’m not ready. She forced herself to cross the small bedroom, forced herself to grab his hand. It was soft and warm as he threaded his fingers through hers, such a deep contrast to the ice-cold evil she expected to feel every time he got close to her.
He led her out of the cell and up the basement stairs. Down a hall, he opened a door and gently pulled her into the room. “Here you go, darling. Clean towels here,” he said, laying a hand on the folded towels on the counter. “There’s a washcloth in the tub. Shampoo, conditioner, soap. Everything you need.” He brushed a thumb over her cheek, and she did everything in her control not to flinch away from his touch.
“Take as long as you need. Enjoy the hot water on your shoulders. I’ll be in the hall when you’re done.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. He met her gaze, his smile soft. After a moment, he walked out of the bathroom and closed the door behind him.
Cleo’s eyes scanned the bathroom. No cameras. No obvious death traps. He was simply… letting her take an honest to God shower. She turned around, catching her reflection’s eyes. Jesus. Her face was tired and unbelievably fearful. Still, she was amazed at how well she was holding herself together. There wasn’t exactly a gold standard on how a kidnapping victim should act or how they should hold themself, but… but she was doing okay. She could keep that up.
She and Natalie were going to survive this. They were strong. They were fighters.
They were survivors.
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