DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Chapter 20: The Kidnapping
“Carlisle, there were fifteen hundred empty beds. Empty! The people here spent so much time and money establishing these emergency reception centers, and they aren’t even being used because the government has chosen not to accept more refugees. It’s unbelievable!” I pace back and forth.
“Communication is the biggest struggle since most don’t know English, let alone German.”
“Language is always a barrier.”
“I’m still struggling with the language and I didn’t just survive a harrowing escape from a country where my continued presence would only lead to my torture or death. Do you have any idea the traumas they have experienced to make the journey here? Many suffer from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD. Mothers, children, and adolescents have witnessed murder or violence along the way, and don’t get me started with the splitting up of families.”
“The reception center we toured was an abandoned hospital with bathrooms in most rooms. There’s even a playground—they built a playground for the children. Can you believe it?
“Translators, doctors, and psychiatrists are available too. They have this incredible volunteer network in place to help refugees transition to a better life, but there’s an expiration date. They only have access to these services for six months. When their time is up, they are transferred to one of the municipalities, which can’t support their needs because they lack funding and manpower. The refugees lose whatever privacy and social services they gained for a bed in a gym until residential housing becomes available. And who knows when that will be, as it’s all tied up in political bullshit.”
“Bella, be careful when speaking out against any government policies,” he warns.
“But they have the power to make this right and are part of the problem.”
“You’re an American living in a foreign country. Respect and follow the laws,” he reminds me.
“Carlisle, you told me to fight for them, and that’s what I’m here doing. I will not back down now.”
“You can’t do that from a prison cell or worse. Bella, your safety—”
“Do you expect me to stand by and do nothing?”
“Of course not, but please be careful.”
“Have you heard about the other camps? The ones outside of Germany?”
“Yes. The conditions in Italy and Greece are deplorable. And now so many refugees are being sent back by the governments to those locations.”
“What? What are you talking about, Carlisle?”
“The ruling was handed down recently by the European Court of Justice that countries can return refugees to the point of entry—the first country in the European Union where they claimed asylum. They can’t claim asylum in Greece then migrate to Germany and claim asylum there too. They are already protected in Greece.”
“So, despite all the suffering to get here, they can’t stay.”
“Correct—countries can send them back beyond the borders to camps in other neighboring countries.”
“Oh, God. I wonder if that’s what happened with Binyamin’s mother and sister?”
“Is that your co-worker you told me about?”
“Yes, we can’t find them here in Germany. What if they were here then sent back to Greece? There has to be documentation, right?”
“There should be, but of the eight thousand deported by Germany, most went to Italy and only a few went to Greece.”
“You think they could be in the Italian camps? But I doubt that was their initial port of entry.”
“Yes, and you said it’s been years since he’s heard from them. If their reception permit has expired in one country, they could seek asylum in another country. There’s also the possibility they didn’t—”
“They made it. I have to believe they made it and we will find them somewhere.”
“I understand your need to help, but stick to Germany and write your stories from there. I’m sure there’s plenty to keep you busy.”
“Bella!” Hilda shouts from the other room.
“I have to go, Carlisle. Thanks for listening.”
“All right, Bella. Keep me in the loop and be safe. Oh, and Bella—”
“Happy birthday. We’ll have dinner on my next trip to Berlin.”
“Thanks, Carlisle. I’ll look forward to it.” I end my call and wonder what has Hilda yelling for me. After pocketing my phone, I find my roommates at our kitchen table. “What’s up?”
Rosalie grins. “You’ve been keeping secrets from us.”
“I don’t follow.”
Hilda crosses her arms over her chest. “Vy didn’t you tell us it vas your birthday? Halistair just texted me.”
“We should make plans. I’ll call Binyamin.” Rosalie takes out her phone.
I groan not wanting to make a big deal about my birthday. Last year Edward and I escaped to Arizona for a few days together. I was so happy to enjoy the hot desert sun and be us without having to look over my shoulder, wondering if we were recognized by someone from the small fishbowl of D.C.
What a difference a year makes. While those memories are special, they are also bittersweet, and I know if I don’t give in to their plans, they will get out of control. Maybe if I’m involved, I can contain their ideas.
“Nothing too wild. I’ve got interviews scheduled for this afternoon and tomorrow,” I hedge.
Rosalie suggests, “What if we all meet up after work? Have drinks and a little dinner. Maybe a cake—”
I hold my hands up in surrender. “All right, but that’s it. Nothing fancy; think easy and casual.”
Hilda smiles. “I know the perfect place. I vill text you the address, Rozalie.”
“Okay, keep me posted.” Rosalie grabs her camera bag and walks toward the door. “I’m off. See you later.”
“What about me? Don’t I get to know?” I pout, hoping she will share the details with me too.
Hilda leans over and pecks my lips. “I vill pick you up and maybe a zurprize for later? Ve can invite George back.”
“George?” My brow cringes in confusion. “Why would we want to invite him here?”
“I understand you are probably mizzing things.” Her hand cups my breast gently, then her thumb brushes across my nipple.
I groan. “You don’t play fair.”
My nipples have a mind of their own ever since I had them pierced at Hilda’s suggestion. We were out one night, and she suggested tattoos. But when we got to the shop, I bailed on the idea, and she suggested we get our clits pierced instead. While she went through with it, I ended up getting my nipples pierced, and once they healed, I’ve been in an almost nonstop state of arousal when I’m around her. The slightest look or casual touch has me ready for more.
“I like you a little on edge.” Her lips press against mine once more.
“Hilda,” I say, and hold her in place, staring lovingly into her eyes, “I want you to know that in no way do I feel like I’m missing a single thing.”
She smiles, stands, and gathers her things to leave. “I can vear a cock for you. Penetration is good. Vibration or not?”
I shake my head, but know I’m willing to try almost anything with her. “Surprise me—you always do.”
After a lingering kiss goodbye, Hilda is out the door, and my phone vibrates with a notification of another new message, and I decide it’s time to look at them.
The first is from Dem.
Happy birthday, hot stuff! I’m coming to see you soon. Berlin will never be the same when we’re through with it. X
The next is from Dad who is a man of few words, but at least there are words.
Happy birthday, Bella. Call me.
I know there won’t be a peep from my mother who thinks my career is the worst idea I’ve ever had, let alone being in Berlin. She wasn’t pleased when I told her about my moving abroad, and now, she’s giving me the silent treatment.
I’m excited with the news that Angela and Ben are living together, and she includes a recorded video of them waving at the camera with her birthday wishes.
“I hope you’re having a great birthday, Bella. I miss you so damn much! Love you!”
I move on to Jacob’s message, which includes an ultrasound photo.
Happy birthday, Bella. I have good news—I’m going to be a dad! Not much to see yet, but there’s a little sprout.
My heart breaks at what Leah must be going through if she’s pregnant. I know Jacob will be a great dad, but I’ll never be okay with the way they are forcing Leah to have children.
Emmett sends a photo of him with Hercules, which makes me miss them more than I thought possible.
HBD! Don’t be mad at me. I let it slip to Al the last time we spoke. I’m trusting him to embarrass you with an inappropriate birthday toast!
Let it slip. I don’t believe him for a second. He probably called Alistair specifically to let him know of my birthday and the best ways for embarrassing me.
Then there’s the last message I’ve been trying to ignore, but open it when my curiosity gets the best of me. There’s only a picture, and it’s one I didn’t know Edward took of me from behind while naked in the infinity pool, watching the sunset in Arizona. The warm colors of the area contrasting with the clear blue sky and dark shimmering water take me to those good times from our trip a year ago.
I wish… I wish we had gone about everything so differently. Who knows where we would be now. Maybe in the same place or maybe we would have crashed and burned, not making it even a year. I don’t regret the time with him or where I’m at now, but if we had a chance for a do-over, I wonder if our relationship would really be that different.
“Hilda, he was such an asshole. I mean, what about common courtesy?” I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I’m pissed and have been rehashing my disappointment over the abrupt way I was dismissed from my last meeting of the day with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
She hums her disapproval while her eyes shift slowly between the road and rearview mirror, weaving through traffic until something behind us gets her attention, her expression concerned.
“What is it?” I turn in my seat, trying to see behind us.
“Ve are being followed.”
My breathing increases with the roar of the engine. “What?”
“I vill loze them.” She shifts gears, and we fly past the other drivers along the highway.
“Are you sure? Who would follow us?”
“Ja, I’m zure. Perhaps, one of us asked the vrong question.” Her eyes glance over to mine, taking in my panicked state. “Calm down. I vill keep you zafe.”
“But who would it be? Someone from the refugee center? Why in the world would they be following us?”
Hilda shrugs. “I don’t know. Could be a government agent.”
“It vill be fine, Bella. Our exit is zoon.”
While Hilda races through evening traffic, I rack my mind with the possibilities, thinking over the interviews I’ve had the past week, wondering if I’ve unknowingly struck a nerve with someone.
I’m lost in thought until we pull into a parking spot and she shuts off the engine then turns off the lights.
I look around at the darkness and whisper, “Did you lose them?”
“Ja, don’t vorry. Ve are here to celebrate.” She smiles then leans over and pecks my lips. “Come on, time for fun.”
“Hilda, wait.” I grab her arm before she gets out.
“What is it?”
“It is only drinks and dinner as you requested.”
“Not just for tonight, but ever since I arrived. You’ve been such a wonderful friend a-and lover—everything I needed. I can’t thank you enough.”
Her eyes scan my face as she tucks my hair carefully behind my ear. “Bella, I know you still love him, but it’s pozzible to love more than one perzon at a time.”
“I’m realizing that.” I smile and reach over, threading my fingers through her soft blonde hair, tilting her head, and pulling her closer until our lips meet over and over.
Familiar moans fill the tiny interior of her car as leather seats groan in protest with our movements while wandering hands seek more of everything.
Hilda pulls away from my bruising kisses, gasping for air as I continue my assault on her neck while my hand finds its way between her legs caressing her there.
“Bella—oh fuck!” She moans as I apply more pressure. “There’s not enough space.”
“God, you drive me crazy.” I pant, ignoring her protests, crushing my mouth to hers once more, and pushing my tongue past her soft lips.
Our tongues tangle together until she pulls away, panting as her chest heaves. “Oh, Bella. What you do to me.”
“Mmmm. The feeling is mutual.” I grin and lean in for one more kiss.
“Good. I vill fuck you vith cock later.” She smirks.
“You bought me a strap-on for my birthday?” I ask, only slightly shocked after our conversation this morning.
She shrugs. “Double dick—pleasure for both of us. There’s nothing vrong vith cock. Uzually, the problem is the man connected to it.”
I chuckle at her honesty. “Oh, Hilda. What am I going to do with you?”
“Hopefully, everything your heart dezires.” She winks and smiles, leaning in for one more quick peck on the lips. “Let’s go have fun.”
We exit the car, meeting at the back, and walk hand in hand toward the restaurant.
“Bella, ve have a chore for you.” Hilda hands me a toothbrush tied with a pink satin bow.
“A toothbrush? What do you expect me to do with it?” I wonder.
Rosalie explains, “It’s German tradition for an unmarried woman turning thirty to clean the doorknobs. It shows you know how to keep house in an effort to find you a match. You will have completed the task when someone of the opposite sex gives you a kiss.”
“This is one of the craziest traditions I’ve ever heard. You expect me to clean the doorknobs here? In this bar?”
“Yes, and while you’re busy, we’ll be here eating your delicious cake.” Maggie giggles, shoving another forkful into her smiling mouth.
I turn to my right. “George, will you kiss me and save me from this humiliation?”
“Oh, sure. Now you want my kisses.” He winks. “Not a chance, love. Get to cleaning and show us what you’ve got.”
I glance across the table. “Binyamin?”
His eyes dart to Hilda. “Sorry, Bella. I’ve been warned to keep my lips to myself.”
I look over at my boss who’s grinning from ear to ear. “Alistair?”
“Emmett had me swear Ah would send him pictures and video. Maybe you’ll attract attention with yer skills. Ah hear the ones here are especially dirty.”
My eyes scan the table, finding everyone excited to watch me complete the chore, and direct my comment at Hilda. “Fine. You and your traditions.”
“You only turn thirty once.” Her smile widens. “My kizzes von’t zave you, Bella. Svay thoze hips! You need to attract more than me.”
I raise an eyebrow at Hilda in challenge, then unfasten two buttons of my blouse, playing along. “Sounds like you want a naughty housekeeper.”
“You know it!” She grins, clapping her hands.
Everyone hoots and hollers at my suggestion as I move toward the front door of the bar with my new toothbrush in hand. Thankfully, I’m a bit buzzed or else I would never have the courage to create a display of such seductive moves here in public. I make a show of every bending and stretching movement, taking each opportunity to tantalize and tease with my body while moving from door to door around the bar.
I’m heckled playfully the entire time by not only my co-workers, but also the other patrons of the bar. Everyone laughs and shouts encouragement in my performing this birthday chore until George slides his hands around my waist. He spins me around and bends me backward for a heart-stopping kiss.
My reaction takes me by surprise and I kiss him back with everything I have, giving me tingles from head to toe. I’m overwhelmed as I realize how much I miss the comfort of being held in a man’s arms and the scratch from his scruff along my neck while George kisses a trail to the tops of my breasts, leaving me wanting more.
When George pulls away, his eyes lock with mine. “That was quite the show.”
I raise an eyebrow. “You liked what you saw?”
“I always do. Come on, love.” He smiles, standing me upright and lacing our fingers together.
We are showered with a room full of applause as we walk back to the table where he takes my seat next to Hilda and settles me on his lap. I wrap my arm around his shoulders while his large hand rubs against the top of my thigh as the other holds me in place.
“Congratulations, Bella.” Maggie giggles, then elbows Binyamin. “No one saw that coming.”
I catch a wink from Hilda before my eyes close at the touch of George’s lips on my neck.
“Aw right, lovebirds. Settle down, settle down.” Alistair pours another round of shots and proposes a toast. “Happy birthday, Bella. We can all hope to have our knobs cleaned with such expertise.”
“To Bella!” everyone cheers, then we down our shots.
I smile down at George who gives me a lingering kiss on the lips, then I whisper in his ear. “I’m going to go find the bathroom.”
“You want some company?” He wiggles his eyebrows. “We can be quick.”
“George, I don’t think speed is going to win me over.” I chuckle and shake my head at his persistence, wondering if I’m ready to be with a man again.
“It’s like running a marathon with you. I can be patient, but if you’re interested in all night, I can do that too.”
“You wait here. I’ll be right back.”
George helps me stand from his lap, and I don’t miss how his hands linger along my legs and ass, giving it a squeeze.
“Bella, are you going to the bathroom?” Rosalie asks.
“I need to go too.”
George reaches out for my hand, pulling me closer, tilting his head back, and puckering for another kiss. “Hurry back.”
I smile, kissing his lips once more. “I will.”
We weave between the crowded tables until we see the sign directing us down a dark hallway. The bathroom is small but empty. With only one stall, I go first while Rosalie waits by the sink, primping in the mirror.
I hear the door to the bathroom open as Rosalie chuckles. “Bella, you are such a good sport. Isn’t George a good kisser? I turn thirty next month and—”
I wait for her to finish her comment, but sober immediately as it sounds like someone is struggling outside the stall.
I hurry to finish and unlock the door to the stall as the door to the bathroom closes. I rush outside the room, looking for Rose, when I bump into someone coming from the opposite direction.
“Oh, sorry. I’m looking for my friend. Did you see anyone go—?”
I’m yanked into the darker area of the hallway where I’m pulled tightly against another body and a hand closes over my mouth. All of my years of Dad’s self-defense training kick in, but I’m no match for my attacker. I struggle against this other person who is much taller and stronger than I am. I can’t make out anything in the darkness, and whoever it is drags me easily toward an exit at the back of the bar past the bathrooms.
As we are pushing through the exit door and toward a waiting vehicle, I hear the words of an angel.
I kick and squirm, fighting to be released from the strong hold of my captor with no success as my muffled voice shouts for Hilda.
I look back toward the door as Hilda pushes through the exit, shouting for me.
Another dark figure appears beside me, raising a gun. I lunge toward the person, but I’m held in place as the gun goes off, stopping Hilda’s pursuit immediately. I see her drop to the ground as my muffled screams rip through me.
No! Hilda! No!
I’m shoved into the back of a dark vehicle where someone else grabs my wrists and ankles, binding them quickly. I struggle against the restraints, then there’s a pinch to my arm, and I know that soon whatever fight I have in me will drain away. It’s dark where I’m sitting, eliminating all hope of recognizing anyone around me as my blinks slow.
The hand that’s covering my mouth pulls away eventually, and my chest heaves for air. My pleading words change to sobs for Hilda, hoping someone will find her and get her help.
I’m still struggling against my tight bindings as the vehicle begins moving. It’s difficult to hear anything in my panic with the blood pounding in my ears, and it doesn’t take long before my mind becomes fuzzy.
Gradually, I feel all of my muscles relaxing and my body go limp as the sound of the tires against the road lulls me into a deep sleep.
A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx