It was the pacing that woke her up. Twenty steps in one direction, military turn, twenty steps back. Pause at what she assumed was the foot of the bed she was in. Then there were hot eyes on her, she could feel them. Then the pacing started again.

“Please stop.” It came out as a moan of pain. She couldn’t take it.

“Red,” Norquay rushed to her side. “Are you awake?” He whispered in a ridiculous voice. She would have smiled if it didn’t feel like someone ran over her with a truck, upgrade that to an 18-wheeler.

“Rial will be here soon. What happened to you Red?”

She cringed not wanting to think about what happened to her. Why couldn’t she win the lottery and not remember every hit and… Tears came. She hated crying, not because crying was weak. Oh, no, everyone should give it a fucking try. She hated crying, the tears had flowed constantly when she was young, when she couldn’t help herself or her mother and now, she was in the same position. These tears were going to be different. She didn’t know how yet. But these tears were going to make her into a badass that wouldn’t be stopped. She cried harder because she didn’t know if her mom would make it.

“I will tear him apart bit by bit. I’ll do it slowly over days, no weeks. I will feast on his blood until I am bathed in it.” The words were spat out between Norquay’s teeth. They weren’t for Red they were a promise to himself.

She looked at him. No one besides her mom had ever thought to take up her cause. She was here and not barefoot and pregnant because of her mother. Her mother had spent years taking hits for her. Then one day fresh out of high school with a 4.0 GPA her mom put her and a suitcase on the bus to a college and told her to never look back. She had taken the punishment for Red running away. She had stayed away until she was so deep in the government that there was no way her father could keep her. That’s when she went back to see her mother.

There was a soft knock on the door before it opened. Rial walked into the room carrying with him a black bag.

“Is that a doctor’s bag?” She choked out. Her throat was raw, but she had been choked so it made sense.

“I saw it in an old movie. The queen and Em have been making us watch them. They keep murmuring something about us developing charm, I might agree with them, but what does singing in the rain have to do with charm?”

Red laughed, then choked, then laughed again. Jade, the queen of the porcoyan’s and Em her best friend were secretly in love with musicals. If there were singing and dancing, they were into it.

“No laughing or talking for you. Open wide.” Rial sprayed something down her throat. “Breath out of your nose for the next three minutes. I gave you a low dose of a pain killer until you woke up. I don’t like dosing humans without talking to them first.”

Rial like Norquay was an alien. That thought should bother her, but in the time, she had been dealing with them, she learned she liked them better than most of the humans she knew.

“Time, tell me how your throat feels?”

She swallowed it felt a lot better.

“Norquay, see if she can take a few sips of water.”

He held the straw to her lips, and she almost got lost in his eyes. They were blue, but not human blue. It was almost like there was a background of stars that she couldn’t see but the shine sparkled in his eyes. Once upon a time, they made her weak in the knees. Now she was nothing but damaged goods.

“Thanks.” She coughed a few times, but her throat was better. “My throat feels better. What was in that spray?”

“It numbed your throat, but it also has a healing agent. By the time the numbness wears off you’ll feel better naturally.”

“Thanks.”

“I’m going to give you a stronger pain med for the aches that you are feeling and order you to take a hot bath. I find that it works with most of my human patients.”

She choked on a laugh. “How many human patients do you have?”

“Including you, three. When you soak in a hot bath along with the meds, I give you and you feel better, I’ll have a one hundred percent success rate.” He gave her an injection without breaking eye contact.

“You should hang out a shingle.” She sighed as the shot he gave her went to work immediately.

“Red, where should I file the report?”

She closed her eyes. There would be no report. The local police would file it in the round bin. If they tried to go higher, her mother would suffer the consequences.

“No report.”

“All I need is a name.” She knew Norquay was still in the room. He had the ability to go still almost blend in with his surroundings. Others tended to forget he was there, but not her. She could feel him humming along her skin like he was the sunlight begging her to open.

“No name, forget about it.” How did you forget that someone raped you? She didn’t know, but she knew how to go on. Her mother taught her that. There was going to be an argument she prepared herself for it. Could she walk away? Did she want to spend another minute in this body that had been defiled?

“I want to go somewhere I can just be alone. Maybe that little town.”

“No, you’ll stay here I’ll reconfigure the house, so you have a suite of your own.”

She gave a nod of her head then closed her eyes. They could do a lot of things humans couldn’t. She didn’t know everything, but she knew more than she was supposed to. They didn’t build the same way humans did and their houses could be changed. She didn’t know if it was with a thought or advanced tech, but they did it.

 

***

 

It was two weeks before Rial gave her permission to move into the suite that Norquay fixed for her. Two weeks of avoiding him and his sexy eyes. Two weeks of pretending that her mind was stable and there wasn’t an issue.

It was two months before Jade swept into her suite like the queen she was and demanded, that’s right demanded, that she talk to someone. Only a queen can get away with that.

It was a month before she talked to the woman who she skyped with every week for a month. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and it all came tumbling out. Maybe if they were in the same room, or if the woman could touch her, she would have kept silent. But they weren’t and she couldn’t. Maybe it was just the pressure that sat on her chest like a weight that demanded to be rolled off. Whatever the reason she started talking and when she did, she couldn’t shut up.

She didn’t realize how fast time could fly. She woke up one day, and it was winter again. A year had passed of licking her wounds and wanting to take back her power. A year of reliving what it felt like to be impotent. A year of drowning in misery. A year of waiting to be better, waiting for someone to tell her that she was healed, a year of slowly realizing that she would never be who she was before.

That didn’t mean she had to become who he wanted her to be. She got up and went to look at herself in the mirror. A year of eating through heartache and fear, worry about her mom. A year where her fluff had become fluffier.

“Red, life has never been easy for you. Hiding is nice, but now it’s time to get back on the horse.” Her red hair fell over her shoulders in curls. Some days it was the only thing she liked about herself. Her porcelain skin looked like it belonged on a baby doll and her wide green eyes looked tired. None of it mattered, she was up and moving.

“I refuse to allow this to get me down anymore.” She knew and understood that she was making a commitment to stand in the face of fear. To go on when all she wanted to do was hide. Hadn’t she been at this crossroads before just for different reasons? A year, she lost a year of her life because one man wanted to be an asshole. Never again.

That didn’t mean walking out of her self-imposed prison was easy.

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