I woke up and found I was alone on the mattress, the blanket tucked neatly around me. I could hear voices and turned towards the sound giving a sharp squeal of pain as my body remembered its injuries. “Look, he is awake, I told you that he was not about to die!” I focused and gave a small cry of distress as I saw Mark standing over Charlotte with his foot on Charlotte’s chest. My cry made his lips twist into a smile and he looked from Charlotte to me. “She tried to attack me; she deserves the pain she suffered,” Mark said as he removed his foot and stepping back.
Charlotte sat up slowly and I saw the blood dripping from her lip as well as a half closed eye. My eyes bulged and I tried to go to her but my muscles were too stiff to move. I whimpered and held out my hands. Charlotte began to cross to me but Mark sharply kicked her and she curled with a cry.
“I have something for you,” Mark said, “well, two things actually.” He walked to me and dropped a ring in my outstretched hand. He smirked as I realised it was Charlotte’s lip-ring. “I told you runt, she attacked me and needed punishment. So, I took something that she treasured. Next time it will be something else that she treasures and you should both think long and hard about what that might be."
Mark pushed me onto my back and looked at the burns he had inflicted to my chest and legs. He beckoned to Charlotte who came over both slowly and hesitantly. She was learning to fear Mark like I did I realised with sickening dread. Mark handed Charlotte a pot of cream as he stripped me of what was left of my clothes (leaving my boxers on I am glad to say) and put on gloves. “The other thing I have will show you that I can be nice.” He dipped his hands in the cream and smoothed it onto my aching skin. It felt cool and soothing despite the rough way he applied it. “Right, there you go Charlotte; you are in charge of him now.” Mark took off his gloves before tuning away. “I will bring clothes later,” he said. Then he slapped Charlotte sharply round the head so she staggered and then shied away from him. “Do not do that again.”
As Mark stalked away I looked again at the ring in my hand. “This is my fault Charlotte, I...”
Charlotte rested her hand on my cheek. “I attacked him and not you baby. You have to stop blaming yourself for everything that happens just because he told you to.” She stroked at my skin and winced as I touched her lip gently. “It... I... That is, he just pulled it from me but it will heal.” She looked sadly at the small ring in my hand. “I guess I won’t be able to kiss you for a while.”
I moved a little, finding it easier with the cream applied. Only slightly easier and not pain free but easier all the same. I took her in my arms and kissed her forehead. “I can do the kissing for both of us sugar.” I murmured as she wound her arms around me loosely so that she wouldn’t hurt me. “What did you attack him for...”
“You just collapsed on me and I thought for a moment that he had actually killed you. He came down then and just laughed to see you there and I just lost it. I ran at him and tried to... I don’t know... Hit him I guess but he got there first and struck my eye and I fell. I grabbed his foot and yanked to pull him down but he shook me off of him. He knelt on me and told me I had to learn not to do that and to do so I had to lose something I treasured. I argued that I had lost or was about to lose you and he stated that it wouldn’t happen yet. Then he just got hold of the ring and pulled it so it tore away. Thankfully he did it quite fast.” She burst into tears then and leant against me more heavily. I tried to ignore my own pain as I stroked her smooth and dark hair. “I might have stopped him helping you Simon, I am so sorry!”
“It isn’t you who made me need the help.” I whispered, realising for the first time that I wasn’t fully to blame and Mark was at least partionally responsible. “We will get out of here sugar, we have to.”