DISCLAIMER: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Chapter 21: The Captivity
My head is pounding as I shift on the bed. I can feel the warmth of Hilda sleeping beside me. I roll over snuggling up next to her, wrapping my arm and leg around her body as my lips seek hers, but only find the soft skin of her neck here in the darkness. My hand moves under her shirt to her chest until I’m cupping her bare breast that feels larger than normal. I thought she wore a bra to dinner and the bar, but maybe she took it off at some point. I don’t think twice, giving it an appreciative squeeze, rubbing my thumb across the nipple as it stiffens at my touch. We must have fallen asleep with our clothes on last night since it feels like we’re both fully dressed.
“Mmmm,” she moans, waking slowly when I tweak her nipple.
I shift higher until my lips find hers, then she returns my kisses gradually, her desire building with every kiss as she wakes. My hand releases her breast and slips past the waistband of her pants and underwear, moving between her legs. I stroke her back and forth until my fingers move easily through her wetness, pushing one then two fingers inside of her as she groans, spreading her legs wider. Her hips tilt upward, seeking more, and I pick up my pace, slipping my fingers in and out of her body.
I know Hilda swears by her favorite hangover cure of orgasms and pancakes. But despite how horrible I feel, I’ll take care of her first, then get up and make us breakfast.
My thumb moves to her clit as I rub back and forth, but I realize something isn’t right.
My brow furrows in confusion when I pull my lips from hers, but my eyes can’t focus or make out any of her distinguishing features without light. “Hilda?”
“Bella?” She pants, gasping for breath as her hips tilt higher, seeking more of my touch.
My fingers still inside her as I recognize that voice. “Rose?”
“Oh, fuck. You’re so loud and my head hurts,” she groans.
“Oh, God.” I withdraw my hand from between her legs instantly. “I was about to—I thought you were—”
Rose pants with need, clearly worked up from my touch, but I’m not about to continue when she probably thought I was someone else and I thought she was Hilda.
I try to get my bearings of our situation, lowering my voice. “I’m so sorry, Rose. I didn’t know it was you. Fuck. I can’t see anything. Do you think we’re alone?”
“I don’t know, Bella. I thought I was dreaming. Are we in my bed? I can’t tell.”
I reach out to my side, trying to touch anything familiar, and lean over until my hand hits the floor too soon. “It feels like we’re on a mattress on the floor. Is there anyone on your other side?”
“No, it’s the wall.”
I listen for anything other than Rose’s labored breathing coming from the darkness, but hear nothing. The silence between us is comfortable until my mind races away with more questions of our current predicament.
I keep my voice low and soft, not wanting to alarm Rose while my own fears start to surface. “I think it’s only us. Where do you think we are?”
“Not the apartment,” she whispers, twisting and turning next to me. “I can’t see anything either.”
“What’s the last thing you remember from last night?”
“You sitting with George. It seemed like you enjoyed yourself.”
Her words distract me for a moment from my own growing panic at the realizations of our current situation. I wasn’t only sitting with George. His kisses were… or maybe my reaction to them was unexpected. I let that roll around in my head before I answer carefully. “I think… I think I miss Edward. Or at least the idea of us having a relationship that wasn’t hidden. I would have loved sitting on his lap with a group of friends or kissing him in public.”
The mattress jostles as I feel her nodding. “I understand what you’re saying, breakups are never easy. What’s the last thing you remember from last night?”
I pause, remembering more. “We… we went to the bathroom.”
“That’s right. I remember that too.”
“But, there was someone else a-and… and I think Hilda was looking for me. Then I couldn’t move my hands or feet.” I rub my wrists and ankles, feeling the tender muscles there. “The next thing I remember is drifting off to sleep.”
We’re quiet as we both consider what I’ve described. My hands and feet are not bound but free. Maybe I was hallucinating or something. My muscles ache everywhere, and this doesn’t feel like a normal hangover headache. I don’t remember falling down, but I could have hit my head and blacked out.
I sigh. “We weren’t drinking that much. I can’t remember how we got here. Wherever here is exactly. It’s odd; it’s only the two of us. I think we’re missing some important details.”
“Do you think somebody put something in our drinks? GHB?” Rosalie wonders.
“We were having shots poured straight from our own bottle.” I sit up and a wave of nausea rushes through my body. “Oh, shit.”
“Are you going to be sick? Maybe there’s a toilet nearby or a trash can.”
“I hope not. I’m dizzy.” I take a few deep breaths, hoping my head will clear. “I remember struggling with someone outside of the bathroom. You—you were gone, and I didn’t know where you went. I was looking for you.”
“What time do you think it is?”
“I have no idea how long we’ve been out. Hours? Maybe it’s morning or afternoon. Maybe this is one of those places below ground like the office where you never know what time it is.” I ease my legs over the side of the mattress and try to stand, but sway and grab for the edge before I fall. “Shit. Standing isn’t easy. I’ll feel my way around. There has to be a door somewhere. If I find it, then we can get it open and leave.”
Carefully, I walk along the edges of the room, stumbling in spots and catching myself before I land on the floor.
“Here.” I pause and let my fingers trace the ridges along the wall, realizing immediately what I’ve found. “This feels like a door, but there’s no knob on this side. Fuck. What the hell does that mean? Someone has locked us in here? What kind of sick joke is this?”
I bang on the door repeatedly with my fists, which barely makes a dull noise, and my screams for help go unanswered. I’m exhausted from my exertion and out of breath when Rose gets my attention.
“Bella. Bella, stop. Come lie back down on the bed. I think we need to conserve our strength.”
“But I need to find a way out of here.” I pant as dread fills my system with resignation.
“We’ll figure this out. Come toward my voice and find the edge of the mattress.”
“Rose, this is bad.” I sigh and reach out in the darkness, shuffling my feet until I come in contact with her leg, then follow it back to my spot, crawling in bed next to her.
“I know,” she whispers.
Rosalie wraps an arm around me as we try to stay awake, but eventually, we can’t fight the pull and drift off to sleep once more.
The next time I wake, I’m in a different room. This one has a window with the afternoon sun pouring through the dirty glass, but I’m strapped to the only piece of furniture in the room—a single chair with my arms bound behind me—and I’m not alone. A tall, armed guard dressed entirely in black stands to the side observing me. I pull against my restraints and know I’m not going anywhere.
I can’t make out his face, but there isn’t a gag in my mouth, so I’m guessing I’m here for a conversation. I hope he speaks or understands English. I clear my throat, squinting in the sunlight. “The gun is unnecessary. I’m restrained.” I tug on the restraints, showing I’m stuck.
The guard pushes back the hoodie concealing his face, and I’m shocked when I realize my mistake after hearing her voice. “It is mostly for your protection.”
“Mostly.” I echo with a sad chuckle. “I doubt that.”
“You will be in immediate danger if you try to escape. A select few know you are here, and we will keep it that way until we’re ready.”
“I’ve been kidnapped?”
“What do you want?”
“To keep you alive before they silence you. Permanently.”
“Who are they exactly?”
“The hornet’s nest you rattled. Government officials don’t like reporters putting their noses in places where they don’t belong, and they especially don’t take too kindly to being exposed in ways that will only make them to be perceived poorly.”
“You’ve been following me?”
“No. We’ve been following them, following you.”
“Where is Rosalie?”
“In your room. Your other roommate is fine.”
“Other roommate? Hilda? Why wouldn’t she be fine? Is she here?”
“You don’t remember.”
“No. I believe I have you to thank for the lapse in my memory. I know you’re drugging us, which, like these restraints, is also unnecessary. What happened to Hilda?”
“We need to build trust between the two of us. So, the restraints will remain for now. Your friend was attempting to follow us during your… acquisition, and one of my partners stopped her pursuit.”
“Stopped her pursuit. How did you—?” A dark image of Hilda falling to the ground rattles around like a recent memory in my mind until I remember what happened. “You shot her.”
“She was shot—not fatally, but we could not jeopardize her getting too close and being involved. She’s German. Americans are always worth more, even though your government will never pay a ransom and only focus on your rescue. Your connections make you an extremely attractive target.”
“Hilda may be German, but she has great connections and speaks the language. So, don’t tell me she isn’t valuable.”
“You’re entitled to your opinion, but I have no use for her, only you and the other American. We left her behind.”
“You know who I am.”
“Isabella Swan. Reporter for the Washington Post who recently moved to Berlin.”
“Finally.” The tiny burst of joy in my heart at being recognized for my job is short-lived as she continues.
“Daughter of Charles Swan, Deputy Director of the FBI, who is the bestfriend to Harry Clearwater, President of the United States of America.”
I blink slowly at the realization my kidnapper knows exactly who I am or more specifically my personal connections. “You’ve done your research.”
“Your voice and contacts give us a worldwide stage that will be felt globally.”
I wonder who she’s referring to, but decide to work with what I have at present. “You are…?”
“For now, you can call me, Z.”
I nod. “Your English is good, but you aren’t a native speaker.”
“I am from Brazil, and I speak Portuguese as well as many other languages. I studied in London with my sisters, which is where I learned English. We are here on a peacekeeping mission, which you’ll learn is far from peaceful.”
“Where are we?”
My brow cringes in confusion. “Where?”
“Italy. We drove for almost twenty-one hours from Berlin.”
“What day is it?” I wonder—as we were out celebrating my birthday on Friday night.
“Yes. You are probably hungry. It isn’t much, but food and drink will be brought to your room when you return.”
I nod, but suspect it will be laced with something to keep us quiet and sleepy. “What do you want from us?”
“Your words with photos—exposing the crimes being committed here in the camps.”
“Refugee camps,” I confirm.
She nods. “You are here to document the forgotten and will be speaking out against the Italian government—which is dangerous and will put an immediate target on your back. They will hunt you and offer a ransom, but I will do my best to protect you until we can get your words and pictures out. We will travel at night and give you an opportunity to witness the living conditions and speak with the refugees. I will translate for you along the way. If we make it out of Italy alive, then we will travel to other areas. I’m trying to get you a computer, but it may be easier to keep notes with paper and ink. We don’t need electricity with that plan, but we grabbed your roommate’s camera bag she had with her. You were all so easily distracted Friday night. No one noticed it missing.”
I remember Rose taking pictures at the bar, but I’m interested in the answer to another question. “Why me?”
“Because what’s happening in the camps is wrong, and in my opinion, you’ve been asking all the right questions. We may need your father and your President’s help in keeping all of us safe for as long as possible. You will give us credibility, but there will be concern over your disappearance. We plan to shoot a video and release it soon. Think about what you want to say, which will give us the time we need to expose the crimes against the people here.”
“And if I refuse to help?” Not that I would, but it doesn’t hurt to gain any insight into their plans.
Z eyes me cautiously. “You won’t, but your options are limited. You are now in Italy illegally and without proper documentation. In the wrong hands, you could easily be charged as a spy, working for your government, or sent back to Germany for the prosecution of crimes there. I’m not the only one aware of your breaking into government offices. You need to realize there are eyes everywhere.”
“People know I’m missing.”
“They do, which is why you need to throw them off our trail. We will give no one any information to our whereabouts, but you need to stop your government from searching.”
I consider my options, which are limited, but push a little further. “The food. Don’t—don’t drug the food or drinks. Please. We’ll need a bathroom too.”
“You need rest and to see only what is necessary.”
“I need to think without being in a drugged out fog, and we can be silent. Trust me. I give you my word.”
“I’ll consider your request.”
“I have another one.”
“You’re not exactly in a position to make demands.”
“I understand that. I’ll do whatever you need, but I’m looking for someone. Two someones—a mother and sister. I think we may find them here or possibly elsewhere, if we’re headed where I think we are.”
“I make no guarantees.”
Z nods as her eyes move past me. It is then I realize there have been two guards standing behind me the entire time. It’s the sting of the needle that makes me realize she never considered letting me return to my room not sedated.
“Maybe next time,” I tell her, as the sedative pumps through my veins. My eyes grow heavy as I fight to keep them open with long, slow blinks while my head sways from side to side.
“We’ll see.” She looks past me and nods. “I’ll talk with you soon, Isabella. Put together what you plan to say for the camera before our next meeting. I need to read it first. Remember, the fewer people searching for you, the better.”
I feel someone free my arms and legs then pull me from the chair before I drift off to sleep.
“Bella, I’m so sorry for everything. I need you. We can make this work. Just say the word, and we can be together. Don’t overthink it. You know how I feel and we can figure everything out.”
“You don’t want me.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. You know I do want you. I love you. Don’t deny it any longer. Come home to me. Your place is here.”
“But what about—”
“You know what to do and how to fix our relationship. Are you listening? Listen to your heart…” His voice trails off as he continues speaking.
I try to catch what he’s saying, but it’s jumbled as he fades from view. “What did you say? Edward, where are you?”
“Bella, can you hear me?”
“Bella, can you hear me? Wake up. We have food and a light.”
My eyes crack open as I see a glow in the room at an overhead light bulb, and Rosalie leaning over me.
“It was a dream,” I whisper, missing his voice already.
“Did you hear what I said? They brought us food and we can see.”
I blink, trying to remember what he said, but any trace from my dream evaporates and I focus on Rose’s excitement. “Food. Rose, the food is drugged.”
“How do you know?”
“I don’t care. We need to eat. They also brought us a bucket.”
“Five star accommodations.” I release a sad chuckle. “I visited with our captors. Women, if you can believe it. Someone who calls herself Z. She seems to be the one calling the shots.”
“I came to, I suppose. They’ve been keeping us sedated. It’s Sunday or was during my conversation. I don’t know how long I’ve been out again.”
“Sunday? It was just Friday.”
“Did you see someone bring the food?”
“No, but when I woke up I could see, which made me realize we had a light and there’s a plate by the door with food on it and I think water in a bottle.”
“They said we’re in Italy.”
“Italy? How in the hell did we get here? Maybe we can try to escape given the right moment.” She stares at the light above us. “The bulb is probably glass. If you climb on my shoulders, you could probably reach it. We could cut someone with it or use the plate to knock someone out. I think it’s plastic, but with two hands—”
“Rose, these people have guns. They have an agenda. Fuck, they shot Hilda.”
“What?” Her confused eyes focus on me.
“Z said she was fine, but I don’t know what to believe. Fine means different things to different people. Any time I’ve ever told anyone I was fine, I was most definitely not. If we don’t do what they want, they will hand us over as spies. Rose, they know what we’ve been doing with Binyamin while searching for his mother and sister, but my gut says we’re on the same side in this whole mess. They want my words, your photos, and for us to be the ones to expose what is happening in the refugee camps because we’re Americans. They are expecting us to take the blame for outing the crimes of those in charge.”
“Bella, this is good.”
“We can do this, but then what? Will they release us? Will we be returned to Berlin?”
“Z said there are others looking for us and at our disappearance. Not just our co-workers or the American government, but those who want to silence our message. She discouraged any plans I had of escaping, saying we could easily find ourselves in danger beyond these walls. I didn’t tell you, but Hilda and I were followed the other night. I don’t know who it was, but she lost them. She wasn’t certain, but thought it could be a government agent.”
“I wonder how long you’ve been followed or any of us. I never noticed a thing.”
“Well, Z knows all about us. Who we are, where we’re from, and what we’ve been doing.”
“You didn’t recognize Z?”
“What did she look like?”
“Tall, probably six foot, if I had to guess. Dark-bronzed skin tone with light-brown eyes and short, black hair.”
“She spoke English?”
“Yes, but it sounded like she had an accent at times.”
“No, she said she was from Brazil and speaks Portuguese as well as many other languages.”
“I don’t remember seeing anyone with that description recently. What else do you remember?”
“I don’t know. I was in a room with a window and strapped to a chair.” My panic building as I recall the details. “At least two other guards. The door to the room must have been behind me.”
“Were there bars on the window?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Could you see anything else?”
“Do you think we’re in a neighborhood where someone could hear us or help? Maybe that room is a way out. I wonder if it’s above us.”
“I have no idea. After the conversation, I asked they stop drugging us or I won’t be able to put two words together for what they want.”
“Then maybe the food is fine. We need to eat.”
I nod. “Go for it.”
“You need to eat and drink something too.”
“I will, but I need a moment.”
I watch as Rose retrieves the plate and returns to sit next to the mattress, dividing everything in half. My eyes return to the ceiling, trying to recall what he said in the dream. It’s been so long since I’ve had any dream, let alone one about Edward. But, why now? It must be the drugs making me believe in things that aren’t real—hallucinations. My subconscious needs to stop dwelling on what could have been with Edward and focus on our task at hand.
I have a job to do, and more than anything, I’m determined to keep the two of us safe and alive. I can’t let down Rose, and I know Hilda would tackle this challenge with both barrels blazing, and I intend to do no less.
A/N: Huge thank yous to LizziePaige, Honeymoon Edward, purpleC305, and Midnight Cougar for their help with this story. xx
Some answers were revealed this chapter while Bella and Rose struggle with piecing together what happened.