With the torches dimmed, my eyes closed anyway, his fingers were at the hem of my vest and I slowly lifted my arms as his hands climbed, my skin prickling with heat, goose bumps rushing across my torso and not just because of the cold air licking at my damp skin. The sensation kept my mind from the pain as I lifted both my hands high, sinking to my knees while he lifted the vest over my head, over my arms as he stood behind, throwing the top to the pile with the jacket. I waited, listening to his breath, somehow the calm air still brushing across my body, licking away the last of the moisture, my skin alive with sensation, every inch prickling with electricity.
“Your bra?” he said, his words slow, punctuated with a heavy swallow and an abrupt finish. The deepness of his voice forced a pull of breath and I shook my head, standing, remembering the darkness.
“I’m not,” I said and he apologised.
“Oh,” he said to the rip of plastic as he pulled the t-shirt from its packet. I knelt in front of him and I opened my eyes, my breath catching in my throat as I could see his outline, his eyes looking away, head shaking. The room was brighter than I’d been expecting, I could see more detail than I thought possible. So could he. I didn’t care where the soft light came from. I knelt, my hands still to the air and looked up as he concentrated, guiding the fabric first over my bad hand, relaxing only when it had cleared, pulling it over the other.
I stood, letting my hands relax, he took one side of the hem and I took the other. Together we pulled down the top slowly, my breath catching as electricity sparked from my pronounced nipples as the fabric snagged as it passed. The rest I could manage, and I let the skirt drop, my hand hovering at the band of my knickers, but I didn’t know why, did not understand how my mouth curled, why I’d bitten down light on my bottom lip. Ryan stared at my silhouette, my shadow looked back, eventually he bent to the side and pulled a pair of fresh underwear from the pile.
“Do you?” he said. I held back my reply, swallowing down my thoughts, confusion at my body’s reaction clouding my mind.
“No, thank you. It’s fine,” I said and took the cotton from his hand and disappeared behind a shelf to finish dressing, waiting longer than it took, taking time to search my thoughts, to resolve the feelings rippling in my head.
“Thank you,” I replied, trying to ignore my disappointment he’d already changed as I arrived back to the clearing, the candles flickering as he stood by his bed.
We sat and ate cold beans from cans without talking, but I didn’t care, each mouthful soothing my pain as I listened to the air void of sound other from my companion eating. Tiredness fogged my thoughts. I hadn’t slept since I didn’t know when and I could feel myself drifting, eyes heavy, my heart beat rising at the thought.
“You need to tie me up,” I said. Ryan sat straight, not giving a reply. “I need to sleep,” I said, but he didn’t get my meaning, his brain frozen on the words. “It’s not safe to be around me. You need to tie me up in case I can’t control myself.”
I felt frustration bubbling in my belly, at least I hoped it was the reason for the feeling. Ryan sat up straight trying to force his smile down.
“I’m not going to fuck you,” I said, the raise of my voice seemed to echo out. “Women are my thing, right,” I said lowering my tone. “You’re safe from my advances, but if the medicine I’ve already had isn’t enough, then you won’t know what hit you.”
With my words his face fell and he stood, disappearing out of the light. I closed my eyes, letting go of a deep breath, using my good hand to rub the water from my eyes.
I heard him before I saw his shape in the light. Heard the rattle of the chain before I saw its gleam in the flicker of the candle, the cuff already around my good wrist, the empty bracelet ready to clip to the free ends once its length had encircled the pipes leading up to the radiator on the far wall.
With the bracelets fixed he didn’t say a word and I lay down, turning back and forth to find comfort and closed my eyes, hoping I would see the morning with the same perspective. Knowing I was in his hands if I survived the night intact. Knowing with my good hand tied, I would defenceless against his or anything else’s advance. My last thoughts couldn’t help but wander if I should have let him down with a little less volume. It wasn’t his fault he was the latest in a long line of people who thought they could change my programming.
In the blink of an eye I opened my eyes. The room was the same, but different in every way with daylight pouring from the skylights I hadn’t noticed last night. An engine revved too hard close by, but it was clear it was moving away. I turned for Ryan to shout for him to wake, to call out so he would know someone was stealing the van, but his hand-build bed was empty, the gun missing from where it had rested at his side. If this wasn’t a dream, I’d made it through the night, but if this wasn’t just inside my head, I’d not only scared away my cameraman, he’d abandoned me and left me for dead.
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Reading out of sequence, here’s the rest of Season Two.
Not read Season One? Here it is.