A few hours later, I was more comfortable than I had been in months. Damien had brought me an endless supply of delicious food, sweet water, and warm blankets. I was still suspicious of whatever goal he was trying to achieve by keeping up this little facade of being nice to me, but I decided to play along. If I made him think I was starting to trust him, he might let a little information slip. Plus, he was a really good cook.

"Now," Damien began after I had finished scarfing down the last of the bread and was finally full. "I know you must have a million questions in your silent little head, but I think that since I just spent about two hours in the kitchen, I should go first. Fair?"

I nodded slowly, wondering what he wanted to know and why he would even care about my opinion anyway.

"Good. Now. First thing’s first." He seemed a bit uneasy about this, though I couldn’t imagine why. "What is your name?"

I blinked, surprised he chose this to ask first. As he waited patiently, I decided to tell him the truth.

"Adelyn," I croaked, shocked at how creaky and old my voice sounded from disuse. I took a sip of the water Damien offered me. "My name’s Adelyn."

"Addie for short?" He smiled a little.

"No. Just Adelyn." Nobody had called me Addie since my grandmother, when I was a little girl. This strange- though pretty cute, now that I realized it- boy was not about to start.

"Right. Adelyn, then," he said, and nodded to himself.

"My turn," I told him. "Where am I?"

"My house," Damien said shortly, apparently not as interested as being asked questions than asking them himself. "How old are you?"

I narrowed my eyes in annoyance at his too-short answer. "Sixteen. Why am I here?"

"Ahh," he smiled a little sadly. "That’s a very difficult question."

"What’s so hard about it?" I argued. "You brought me here, you must have a reason." My eyes narrowed. "Unless this is just some kind of stupid joke."

"No joke, miss," he started to assure me, but stopped talking when he heard a door shut nearby.

"We’re home!" the singsong voice of a little girl chorused out. I could hear a few more sets of footsteps, heavier, following the girl’s little dance around the house, and my muscles automatically tightened up. I instinctively scanned the room for something to defend myself with, in case the person with the girl meant trouble.

Damien muttered something unpleasant under his breath, then stood up in front of me. "They’re early. Of course," he said to me, not seeming very happy about whatever was going on.

"Who?" I breathed, starting to be very afraid.

"My siblings. Don’t worry, they won’t hurt you or anything, this will just take some explaining. They weren’t really expecting you." He chuckled. "Well neither was I, really."

I eyed Damien a little suspiciously. He sure talked a lot for someone who didn’t like answering questions.

"What should I do?" I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough to move yet, but I was willing to try if it meant I could leave.

"Just stay here," he whispered to me as the footsteps grew nearer.

Finally, I saw one of the people I had been fearing a few moments ago. A little girl stepped into the room. She had long strawberry blonde hair that had been carefully twisted into two now messy braids, and her nose and cheeks were dotted with freckles. When she saw me, dirty and tired and wearing old, ragged clothes, her bright blue eyes widened and her mouth formed a little o. She stared at me for a long moment, then looked at Damien, her brother.

"Hey, Natalie," he said, looking unsure. "This is... my friend, Adelyn." My eyebrows rose when he said ‘friend’. I trusted him a little more now, but we weren’t exactly buddy-buddy yet.

"Um. Hi," Natalie squeaked out, then ran back down the hallway. "Brayden!"

"Oh, no," Damien groaned. He looked at me, my eyes huge. "I’m really sorry about this. I’m sure it won’t be pleasant."

"You say that a lot," I replied. Half of his mouth turned up into a little smile.

The smile vanished when a young man appeared in the doorway, whom I presumed to be Brayden. I also immediately knew why Damien didn’t really want to deal with him. He scowled at Damien with the little girl, Natalie, clutching his hand at his side.

"Damien, may I speak to you in the kitchen, please?" The formal words sounded strange coming from Brayden, who I guessed was the older brother, because from the look on his face it was obvious this was a demand, not a request. Brayden didn’t even glance at me.

"I’d be delighted," Damien said sarcastically, then turned to me when they left again. "Don’t worry, Adelyn. I’ll take care of this, I promise."

"Will I have to go back to prison? I’ve been there for months and I’d really rather not go back." I had decided this a little while ago, when I saw that Damien looked willing to protect me from his brother. He didn’t have my complete trust yet, but I was starting to think that maybe he wasn’t as bad as I thought. Sticking around with him would be better than being trapped in a cage, anyway.

"Months?" Damien looked confused. "I’m sorry, miss, but you’re mistaken. You were only there for about three weeks. The lack of food must have made you think it was longer."

Oh, well that was strange. I could have sworn it had been months.

Brayden poked his head through the door, scowling at Damien some more, silently telling us that we’d better hurry it up. I noticed, somewhat irrelevantly, that he shared the same thick brown hair as Damien, but the same blue eyes as their little sister. While Natalie’s eyes looked cheery, though, Brayden’s were only icy as he glared at Damien. Damien sighed and got up.

"Be right back. And just in case you were thinking about it, running away would not be a great plan."

"Oh, really?" The thought hadn’t actually crossed my mind. "And why not?"

"Because I happen to live in the middle of nowhere. You would get lost in about ten minutes in woods that thick. Maybe twenty, if you have good instincts."

"I do," I informed him, though I could see the sincere warning in his eyes, and knew I wouldn’t be running anywhere. It’s not like I had anyplace to go, either.

"Still." He grinned. "It looks like you’re my prisoner now."

The End

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