I woke to a cool breeze blowing on my face. My head pounded, and I moaned under my breath. I tried to open my eyes and found that I had been blindfolded, not to mention my wrists were bound tightly.
I was slightly surprised when the car came to an abrupt stop, jarring me and making my throbbing headache even worse as it was thrown back into the headrest. I heard a door slam, then open, and then a strong hand grabbed my arm and almost lifted me out of the car.
I was hustled through several doors, down a long corridor, and then thrust into a room.
I heard the door close, and wondered if I was alone, when I heard someone gasp, “Rosanna!”
Then hands pulled at my blindfold, and I was free.
I saw Robert. With a cry of joy, I threw myself into his arms. I could hear Robert’s heart beating as he hugged me tightly, and the strength of his arms comforted me more than I had ever thought possible.
After a warm embrace, Robert began to untie my hands, and I saw my surroundings. We were in a room that looked like a jail cell- with bars on the window, walls painted a dusky gray, and boring brown furniture.
Robert finished removing my bonds and I threw my arms around him. He gently took me in his arms and held me, perhaps trying to give what comfort he could. But I didn’t need comfort. I was just happy to see him. For the first time in a long while, I felt safe.
I pulled away and studied his face. Lines at the corners of his mouth and around his eyes said he was tired, as did the purple crescents under his dark eyes, and he looked thinner. My mouth fell open slightly and I said in surprise, “Robert! What happened to you? You look awful!”
He grinned wryly and tugged at his dirty shirt. “Well, they didn’t send my laundry in, and they forgot to give me my razor back,” he said in an attempt for lightness.
I shook my head and took his hand. “You do look bad, but you’re as handsome as ever . . . even if you do need a shave.”
He grinned and hugged me with one arm. “Well, I definitely feel better after seeing you.” Then he frowned, scolding me, “Why did you let them grab you?”
“Well, I didn’t do it on purpose, believe me,” I retorted. “Some guy sneaked up behind me and clapped a cloth soaked with chloroform over my mouth. What could I do? Anyway, I figured they’d take me to you.”
“So you thought you’d just go along for the ride, did you?” he scoffed.
“Yep,” I replied impudently.
Robert stared at me for a minute, and then smiled and took my hand. “Well, I am glad to see you, in any case,” he said.
I squeezed his hand. A few seconds later, I looked down in surprise. “Your hands are cold.”
He shrugged. “It gets chilly in here at night. There are no blankets.”
“Is that really true?” I asked in shock. “That’s shameful! Are you all right? I’d be sick after three days!”
His eyes dropped from my face. “I’m okay.”
I looked suspiciously at him. “Are you sure?” Robert never let you know when he was ill until after he got over it.
He shrugged and didn’t answer.
Before he could think about it, my hand flew out like a pale white dove and landed on his forehead. His eyes looked up in surprise but he didn’t move.
My eyes widened in shock. “Why, your forehead is burning up! You should be in bed!” I said worriedly.
He looked at me with a mixture of pity and amusement.
I pursed my lips and studied him. “All right; I get it. There is no bed. But there should be, and you should be in it! It’s shameful!”
He shrugged. “I’m fine, Rosanna.”
I shook my head several times. “No, you’re not! And you know it! How long have you been like this?”
“About 24 hours.”
I pointed to the desk. “That’s long enough. You go lie down on that, and here,” I pulled off my coat and handed it to him,” take this and cover up. You’ll die of pneumonia if you don’t.”
To my surprise, he did as I said without a sign of rebellion. He must be feeling truly awful, I thought worriedly.
I pulled a chair up and sat next to him. “Robert, do you have any idea who has done this to us? Who is keeping us here? And why?”
He chuckled. “One question at a time, please, Rosanna.” He lay down tiredly and answered, “I’m not sure, but I think it is Braxton. Why, I don’t know.”
I nodded in satisfaction. “That’s what I thought.”
I thought long and hard, but my thoughts kept wandering back in the past, a difficult and painful past. My breath came faster, and my pulse quickened as unconsidered reasons for my kidnapping ran through my mind.
Could he . . . Is he . . . I was unable to finish my thoughts. If they did not need to be resurfaced, then it was best to leave them alone. Buried in the sifting, whispering sands of time, I dreaded the breeze that would one day reveal what I tried to hide, to forget. A past that was saddening and the maker of unhappiness was best left behind to be forgotten.
That night was truly a horrible night, for both of us. The floor was cold and hard, and I was sure the desk was the same for Robert. He shook with cold, but his body was hot. Between worry for Robert and the uncomfortable floor, I did not sleep a wink.
Robert slipped into unconsciousness, and all I could do was watch and hope that the fever would break. I sat next to him and stroked his hand. He seemed to stir at one time, but then he fell back into unconsciousness. Around dawn the fever broke, but Robert was left exhausted.
I could only worry. I too was exhausted. We had no food or water, so our strength was ebbing fast.
I was sitting tiredly on one of the chairs, watching Robert as he laid quietly, my thoughts wandering far. I could only hope that Leader and the other men had not been ambushed. If they were captured, Braxton would kill them without any qualms. It was surprising that Robert and I were still alive.
I realized that we could not depend on the men to save us. They could not know where we were.
Our lives had been placed in our hands.