When I awoke the following morning, I was in my bed.
But hadn’t I fallen asleep on the floor…?
I sat up and realized I wasn’t wearing what I had been when I arrived at the Lee Manor. I was wearing a men’s white dress shirt, which I recognized as the one Noah had been wearing when I last saw him. It still smelled like him… a surprisingly pleasant scent. Clean. Manly, but not overly spicy.
The more I thought about it, it really wasn't all that surprising that he smelled so good; it matched the air of class and wealth he had about him.
I leapt to the corner of the room where my hamper was, lifted the lid, and peered inside. I saw the bra and underwear I had been sporting at the bottom of the otherwise empty bin.
Had Noah come in here after I’d fallen asleep, undressed and redressed me, and then put me in bed?
I was immediately appalled and frightened by that. He had undressed me completely while I was unconscious! Was that all he had done…? Or…
I ran to the vanity, scrambling to unbutton the shirt I was in. I saw no new marks on me, just the ones I had upon arriving here. I wasn’t sore in any places I hadn’t been before. I came to the conclusion that he had, in fact, only changed my clothing (or lack there of, really) and tucked me into my bed. Still, though, I loathed the thought of him doing something so personal without my permission or consciousness of it.
Better get used to it, I thought bitterly.
Mumbling angrily as I re-buttoned the shirt, I decided to go back to bed and enjoy as peaceful a sleep as I possibly could for however long I could. I didn’t know how much time I had until the monster came back and would rain upon me as much pain, embarrassment, and abuse as he pleased.
When I awoke for the second time, I felt much more rested. Much stronger. My resolve had been re-solidified.
I lay there a while, just enjoying the quasi-peace while I could. When I turned onto my other side, I noticed that a tray with food and water had been placed on the bedside table. My stomach growled in aching protest of my not having eaten enough in weeks. But I didn’t dare touch it. What if they had put something weird in it? It didn’t seem worth the risk at that moment to eat it and possibly fall unconscious later. Then, when Noah got back, he’d do whatever he wanted to me and I wouldn’t be able to do a damn thing about it.
Or maybe it could be something to keep me weakened? That way, I couldn’t put up as much of a fight. That was possible. It would be like ti was back in the warehouse I was kept in with all the other girls. But it didn’t seem like Noah needed something like that on his side. He seemed very well muscled and plenty strong to me, but it wasn’t a theory I was jumping up and down to test.
After laying in bed until I simply couldn’t anymore, I decided a shower was in order. I was quite dirty from being stuck in the conditions all the other girls and I were held in. Plus, everybody knows that the shower is the best place to just think. Quiet time to myself. Time to just be alone with my thoughts and the steam. I could try to think of some sort of plan while showering. Some way to get the hell out of this place.
Cautiously, I walked into the bathroom and remembered how irritated I was that the bathroom door didn’t lock. I rolled my eyes.
I looked around, thought I’m not quite sure what for, as I approached the knobs to turn on the water. Maybe some hidden camera or something? Or a hidden Noah waiting to jump out and terrorize me?
When I was sure the coast was clear, I slowly reached for the knobs next to the faucet, making it nice and hot before taking off the shirt I was wearing. I grabbed the toothbrush and toothpaste that were in the cabinet, and got into the stream of hot water.
I sighed at how wonderful it felt to finally have a real shower again. The hot water felt like heaven on my skin, minus the stinging sensation on my scrapes.
I took my sweet time in the shower, savoring each moment of the clean, hot water enveloping my weary body.
Once finished, I dried myself off and had no choice but to slip back into Noah’s shirt, snarling bitterly as I did so. His scent on the shirt invading my nostrils made me wonder when he was coming back, and not in a good way. I dreaded the very moment he stepped foot back into the house and didn’t really want to waste my remaining peaceful moments thinking about that sick bastard and what he was going to do to me.
Being that I was locked in a room, and a relatively bare one, at that, there wasn’t a lot of choice in regards to what I could do with my time. I could sit and do nothing, but that seemed about as much fun as doing taxes. I was far too anxious to go back to sleep, so that was out, too. I walked over to the small bookshelf and looked over its contents. There were a few informational texts, as well as a few novels.
I picked one of the novels randomly, groaning as I opened the cover.
Over the expanse of that day, I managed to finish an entire novel and the first bit of an informational text. That was quite a feat for me; I read at the blazing speed of obese snail.
The fact that Noah had only left me rather steamy novels irked ma and made me feel kinda sneezy.
I hadn’t even stopped reading when Mr. Jang brought food for me to eat. When he asked why I had not eaten the food offered to me, I reported them that I wasn’t hungry. It was a blatant lie, but I couldn’t tell them the real reason. I didn’t know if he bought what I told him, though. I did my best not to talk too much. I also kept eye contact on an strictly only-when-necessary basis. I just felt so unbelievably uncomfortable in that house.
Time seemed to move slower than I thought it ever could, despite having a clock to see time and a window to watch the changing light. I did my best to keep myself occupied at all times. Every time my mind was at rest, I worried about what was inevitably coming my way. I’d start to panic thinking about what Noah was going to do me. The prospect of sex even with somebody I wanted to do it with was daunting enough to me. But being raped? That was something nobody should ever have to deal with. It’s inhumane. It’s something you can never recover fully from. You never forget how scary it is. It… stays with you whether you want it to or not. Like an ugly scar.
After what happened with Vincent, I was never the same. Before that happened, I was so solid. My friends would always try to startle me because they knew it was so hard to do. After it happened, it was jumpier than a jack-in-the-box. I had never been one to love excessive amounts of physical contact, but it just got so much worse after what he did to me. It was like every times somebody touched me—especially form behind—I thought it was going to happen all over again and panic would shoot through me like an arrow, even if just for the briefest of moments… even if I knew I wasn’t at all in harm’s way. It had gotten a little better over time, but I was still skittish. My friends all made fun of me for it because they were completely unaware of the trigger for those changes.
I had only ever told one person what had happened with Vincent, and that person was well gone and out of my life.
And now somebody else was going to do it all over again, only it would be much, much worse this time. And it was going to happen again and again and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. It would be a true nightmare, and nobody, not even the other people int he house, would help me. I didn’t understand how they could just stand by and watch it all. Noah must have been paying them very generously.
Stop it! You’re not going to let that son of a bitch break you. You will find a way out of this. You have to. Somehow.
I had to stop thinking about it. I was going to drive myself crazy and have a full-blown anxiety attack. The problem with trying to keep my mind busy was that there was nothing to do in here except read. And reading just got too tedious and frustrating for me after a while.
By the time midnight rolled around, my eyes hurt from reading and I decided to try to get some sleep. It took a while for me to calm my nerves and actually fall asleep. I just couldn’t stop worrying about what my fate would be.
I woke up the next morning and carried out a day much like the one prior. Lots of boredom, too much reading, no eating, and ever-mounting panic.
I didn’t know when he was coming back and the waiting made it so much worse in some ways. I didn’t want him to come home any sooner, but I didn’t want to be in the figurative dark as to when my perspective torturer would return any longer.
It wasn’t until about six-thirty or so that night when Mr. Jang come to my room to inform me that Master Lee (internal vomit) had returned just a little while ago and requested my presence for dinner immediately.
Oh, no. I was already starting to panic. He’s home… I can’t do this! It took all of the effort at my disposal to remain at least somewhat calm. I didn't want Noah thinking he had more power over me than he already thought he had.
“Oh… Thank you, but I’m not hungry…” I said timidly, hoping that would mean I didn’t have to attend.
“Master Lee would like your company. It’s not an option, Miss.” His voice rang clear and even, shadowing over the sympathy in his eyes, making my stomach drop and twist inside of me.
I gulped as my hands involuntarily fisted and fidgeted with the sleeves of Noah’ s shirt, which was far to large for me. I rose from where I sat and followed the butler to the dining area where Howon was seated at the head of a long, wooden table. Much like the rest of the house, the dining room looked like a giant antique, expensive and elegant.
The entire time I had to will myself into staying calm and showing as little fear as I possibly could. Mr. Jang pulled out my chair and I sat down nervously as Noah, whom I was now sitting less than a meter from, greeted me silkily. “Good evening, Sara. Have you found everything here to your liking? I apologize for you room being so empty. I’ll have some clothes for you within the next day or two. Although, you wearing nothing but my shirt like that is a very appealing sight,” he smiled slightly and I had a strong urge to stab him with my fork. I was slightly thrown by the sudden change back to English. Mr. Jang had been seeking to me in Korean, and it took me a moment to adjust.
When all I did was rest my eyes on his for a second and remain silent, he pursed his lips and huffed quietly. Again, that small victory gave me a small bit of strength and hope that I would actually escape one day.
“Mr. Jang told me that you've not been eating. You must be starving. I’m sure they didn’t feed you well where you were kept before.”
Yeah, well I was eating just fine before I was taken there and bought by you, you sick son of a bitch.
“I can assure you that the food is fine; I’m not trying to poison you. What good would that do me? I need you lively and healthy,” he explained suggestively. I flared my nostrils and glared at him, trying to let him know that I would not give into him easily, especially when we were dealing with such a personal matter.
“I’ve been very patient with you and your whole not-answering-me charade. But I’ve had enough. You will show me respect me and answer me when I speak to you! Now tell me why you refuse to eat!” he said authoritatively, but still calmly. I kept my posture straight, directing my hard glare straight in front of me, refusing to acknowledge the extent of his authority.
“If you don’t answer me, you will be punished, Sara. I don’t want to punish you. It will make things less enjoyable for us both, especially you. But I will do what I must,” he said, trying to sound collected through gritted teeth.
I turned my face to glare as angrily and harshly as humanely possible straight into his deep, cold eyes. I needed him to know I wasn’t going to make this easy for him. He glared back at me with a matching intensity (quite frighteningly, actually, not that I would let him know I thought so, though).
He pushed himself up from his chair, and started closing the already-too-small distance between us while beginning to unbuckle his belt. I started seeing red and I’m sure my face showed just how shocked and terrified I was.
“I-I’m not hungry,” I stuttered, trying not to come off as petrified as I truly was. The satisfied smirk on his face made me hate myself even more for giving him that small victory.
Just as he sat down, my stomach growled at an embarrassingly loud volume. Great.
Okay, so I was actually famished. Not having eaten a single morsel since coming here and barely being fed for two weeks before that will do that to you!
At least I lost those last few pounds, I thought wryly to myself.
“Not hungry, huh?” he said mocked, one eyebrow raised cockily.
I looked away angrily and silently cursed my stomach for giving me away.
Noah pushed my plate toward me and said, “Eat. You’ll need to keep your strength up.” The implication behind his words was almost enough to make me lose my appetite entirely. Almost.
I begrudgingly and very reluctantly picked at the food in front of me as Noah kept trying to get me to converse with him. I said as little as I possibly could, making sure to keep my face in a blank mask that reveled as little of what was going on in my head as possible.
“So what did you do while I was gone?” he asked casually. His nonchalance really astounded me. He was basically holding me hostage, knew I hated his guts (and he clearly knew that I was terrified of what he could, and most definitely would, do to me), and was trying to make polite dinner conversation as if I was just sitting around with my thumb up my ass waiting for him to come back. Wow. Just wow.
“Read,” I answered before putting another small piece of food in my mouth.
“Anything interesting?” he asked, twitching one eyebrow up. I knew what he meant; the smut and romance novels—all of which I pointedly ignored—greatly outnumbered any other variety of reading material. “Nope,” I replied.
He chuckled quietly to himself, but I wasn’t exactly sure why.
I hadn’t finished the food on my plate (not that I had intended to), but I had gulped down all of my water by the time I was dismissed and led back to my bedroom by Mr. Jang, who locked all of three locks after closing the door behind himself. Words were not enough to explain how relieved felt to be done with dinner and away from the jackass. I was free from him for the night, and that made it a little bit easier for me to breathe.
I steadied myself against the door feeling tears well in my eyes. How could this be real? How could this be happening to me?
I looked at the clock, reading 7:18 P.M. I wasn’t exactly tired yet, so I wasn’t ready to go to bed. I sat down on the edge of my bed, trying to figure out what to do with my time. I sat there for a few minutes before walking over to the vanity and sitting in the
chair, looking at myself in the mirror.
I hated the way I looked in his shirt. I hated it even more because it pleased him.
I leaned forward, closely examining the damage on my face. Even though the injuries were from a few days ago, they still looked mean. The cuts had scabbed over, and the bruises looked sickly and dark. I gently reached my hand up to touch the cuts, but pulled my hand away quickly as it stung.
Unbuttoning the first few buttons of the shirt, I saw the injuries on my chest, shoulder, and arms matched, as did the ones on my legs. I sighed, suddenly feeling more upset.
Who told these men that it was acceptable in any way to treat people like this? To abuse and neglect them? It made me furious that so many girls were just like me, being destroyed day by day until nothing of them remains but the hollow shells of the innocent, normal girls they once were.
Not able to look at myself in the state I was in any longer, I got up from the seat I had been sitting in and made my way, once more, to the book shelf. After reading the back of every book on the shelf, I decided to find a new purpose for the books.
I started stacking them in different ways, trying to make interesting buildings and structures with them. It made me feel like a child again. This was the type of thing that I, being the curious, introverted, lonely kid that I was, would have spent time alone in my room doing when I was younger.
After building my most grand structure yet (though I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly it was), I let my body fall backward onto the carpet with a groan. I remained like that for a while as the irritating juxtaposition of extreme boredom and sever anxiety rage inside me.
I closed my eyes and began rubbing my temples. I needed to stay calm and keep my head clear. I guess I fell asleep laying there like that, because I woke up the next morning. And just like the night prior, I had been placed in the bed.
Well, that’s the last time I go to bed that early!
The next week passed in a very similar fashion. I was imprisoned in my room for most of the day. My time around Noah was minimal (for which I was incredibly grateful) because he’d apparently been extremely busy this week. I mostly saw him during dinner. He requested me there every evening in spite of my constant claims of net being hungry.
When he was around, I was constantly on edge, endlessly worried that at any moment he could just come at me and do whatever it was he wanted to do to me. But he never did. He was just condescending and authoritative. But calm. Always calm, composed, and in control. So much so that it was slightly eerie. It made the fear that he could attack me even bigger.
A week after the night I had first had to eat dinner with Noah, I was sitting in my room, trying to find new, creative ways to pass the time. I hadn't really been paying attention to the time, and I guess I had fallen asleep at some point in the evening.
It was a knock at the door that woke me. It was Mr. Jang.
“Master Lee would like to see you in his bedroom right away,” he said in that calm, neutral tone of his.
I could practically hear what little color remained in face drain entirely.