Trigger warning: Captive victim, Stockholm syndrome, kidnapping, abuse.
Stolen. Kidnapped. Taken.
He snatched me off the street, ending my dream of becoming a dancer.
Now, I’m locked away in a mansion with girls who’ve met the same fate.
My captor is always rough, rarely kind.
He punishes me for every little mistake.
He’s training me. Preparing me. Getting me ready.
Slowly, my body is starting to break. Obey. Bend to his will.
Time’s ticking. My body is learning to submit.
I’ve almost stopped fighting. Almost given in.
Still, the promise of something darker hangs in the air.
The real monster is lurking.
And soon, he will come for me.Books in Series:Rose and Thorn Series by Fawn BaileyBooks by Author:Fawn Bailey Books
It was Christmastime, and London was freezing. A lacy coverlet of snow had fallen, not promising to stay but whispering of cold, exciting nights under the stars and the inky blue sky. It felt like magic was in the air, sweet, playful magic that promised to work its forces on every single person in the Estate Theater.
None of us noticed the creeping darkness, slowly bleeding in through the brick building, its cold, claw-like tendrils enticing me to join the dark side.
It was a freezing night. In the dressing room at the back of the theater, it was too warm though, the air thick and fragrant with the scent of flowers and the room filled with noise. It was a Friday night, well past midnight, and the crew had collapsed in remarkably good moods after their first performance of The Nutcracker.
I fell back into a chair, a sigh leaving my lips as I kicked off my ballet shoes. I was ecstatic, high on our success and dazzled by my performance. I had done more than well, and for the first time, I had managed to thoroughly impress my trainer, Madame Dugare. She was harsh on me, always urging me to do more, jump higher, try harder. And I gave it my all, sometimes wondering when it would pay off. Every vestige of my power went into dancing, every pound I made towards costumes and training. I lived for it, lived for the dance and the exquisite beauty I felt permeating my body as I stood center stage, en pointe and with my thick lashes wide open to reveal the crowd.
Oh, the crowd" I lived for them too, every single person in the audience, their applause, their cheers, their inability to look away.
Mummy used to call me a dancer when I was a little girl.
She said she knew I"d be dancing under the stars, among them, and finally, becoming one as I stepped front and center, my eyes bright with dreams and my body poised, trained to perfection.
For a long time, I thought I was doing this for her. The dancing, the life " no personal contacts, knowing no one but the people connected to the business. Devoting my whole life to dance, to ballet, letting the stunning art shape me into a person.
Other times, when I was feeling low, I wondered what Mummy would think if she saw me now.
With blistered, broken feet, and a body so thin it looked emaciated. With hair that shone like gold and big blue eyes that seemed manic when I danced.
What would she think of the girl I had become"
But it didn"t matter either way now. I was a success, I felt on top of the world, and by tomorrow, I would be joining a more prominent ballet. There was no way they wouldn"t take me after seeing this performance. The critics were left speechless.
I raised my eyes, thick with eyeshadow and fake lashes, towards the woman approaching me.
"Madame," I said excitedly, standing up on my weary feet, my eyes sparkling as they connected with her dark brown gaze.
"I spoke to a scout from The Great Russian Ballet," she whispered, and my consciousness fought the exciting information, coming in panicked, anxious waves and hitting me as I almost passed out. I hadn"t eaten in days. I needed to fit my costume. I needed this dream to happen, and I needed to be a star.
"And"" I begged, my voice so desperate I almost felt ashamed of myself.
"And they loved you," she said solemnly. "I gave them your number, but I didn"t let them come back here."
"Madame!" I whimpered. "It could be my only chance! How could you!"
She started to answer, but I didn"t wait for her explanation, turning around instead with a desperate flourish and letting out a cry of protest. Just then, the theater receptionist showed up with a bright smile and urged several employees in, each of them carrying a bigger vase of flowers.
"Oh!" I exclaimed, approaching the giant bouquets.
I"d never gotten flowers before that day.
They kept on coming, bringing gorgeous white roses, velvety peonies, pretty daisies, orchids. So many flowers to join the ones already filling the room. Except now they weren"t meant to say "good luck". Now, they were here to congratulate me on the job I would surely be awarded for my flawless performance.
I flitted from bouquet to bouquet, trying to decide which one was my favorite, when the receptionist cleared his throat. Turning around, I surveyed him, urging him to go on. He held out a hand with a single red rose between his gloved fingers. It was beautiful, thick velvet petals forming a perfect bud, the color a sweet light pink. Dewdrops glistened on the leaves. It was beautiful.
"Only one"" I asked, jutting out my bottom lip.
"Yes," he said apologetically, and I giggled, realizing I"d come off as rude.