No blather from me; let’s go right to Taylor!
My dearest readers, lately writing has been somewhat of a challenge for me. When writer’s block weighs heavily and life takes your time, it becomes harder and harder to get your words down. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. I will never stop writing, so don’t be afraid. The poetic soul that Adam spoke of at the very beginning is still shining bright within me. There is so much more to come. Thanks for reading.
Ice crunched beneath the tires as the truck came to a stop.
No, no, no, no!
I wanted to break free of my zip-ties, take Avan’s hand, tell him how much he meant to me, apologize for not being braver. Instead, I shuffled across the seats until I felt his shoulder pressed against mine and I buried my face against him. He pressed his mouth hard against my head. We sat there, one soul in two bodies, waiting for the end.
The door beside us opened and Avan was dragged out before I had the chance to say goodbye. Then it was my turn. I kicked and thrashed with everything I had, my muscles burning with the effort. All around me voices were raised in malice, anger, frustration. A pair of arms grabbed me from behind, holding me firmly in place. My hood was removed and hot breath blew over my ear.
“Don’t make this difficult.” a male voice growled.
He pointed to where Avan stood restrained by our captor, his back arched in a painful position, arms bound behind his back, the blade of a knife touching the smooth skin of his throat. Our hoods lay on the ground, soaking up the snow. The message was clear. I accepted my defeat and moved.
It took me a while to realize we weren’t in the woods. We weren’t even in a remote area. We were in a parking lot, a parking lot with two or three cars not counting the truck. Where there were cars, there were people. Tears welled up in my eyes. We weren’t going to die.
We were led to a warehouse, old and worn down, like it hadn’t been used in years. A few feet away from the door our captor cut Avan’s bonds and released him. Avan stumbled forward, back curled, arms spread as if to keep himself from falling. The knife was tossed in my direction and my bonds were cut too. I rushed away before they could stop me, crashing into Avan, holding him so tight it almost hurt. I felt his hands in my hair as he pressed me closer. His bare chest was hot, no doubt from anger, and I soaked in his warmth. He pushed away from me, stared at my face for a moment, then wiped the blood from my cheek with his hand. I’d been so focused on my emotions throughout the ride, I hadn’t even noticed the throbbing pain on the left side of my face. I felt it now, though as I lifted a hand to my cheek and winced. Avan’s eyebrows drew closer together. All at once, I watched a fire destroying the lush forests in his eyes. Anticipating his next move, I grabbed his arm.
But he didn’t listen. He tore his arm from my grasp, turned and rushed at our captor. The two other men grabbed him by the arms and held him back as he struggled and grunted, teeth bared like a snarling wolf.
“If you ever touch her again-”
“Easy, Gutierrez!” One of the men interrupted. “We’re the ones with the knife.”
Our captor laughed and shook his head. Avan’s face didn’t change. The crease in his brow worsened as his anger rose.
“Avan, please.” I whispered, unsure if he would hear me.
Slowly, Avan’s body began to relax. His breathing steadied. His snarl was wiped away.
“Should’ve kept the zip-ties on ‘em!” the men agreed, letting him go.
Our captor laughed again and herded us towards the giant metal doors, keeping his knife close. The doors opened and my breath caught. I saw the cage before I saw anything else. It was massive, taking up nearly the entire lower part of the two story building. The floor outside it was bathed in spotlights and stained with blood. Of all of the scenarios that tumbled around in my head as we’d approached the warehouse, none of them prepared me for this. Once I put all of the pieces together, our captor’s goal became clear.
Avan would be forced to fight against his will. I would be forced to watch. And I didn’t know which was worse.