Authors: Penelope Marshall
By Penelope Marshall
Copyright © 2016 by Penelope Marshall.
All rights reserved.
First Print Edition: September 2016
Limitless Publishing, LLC
Kailua, HI 96734
Formatting: Limitless Publishing
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
To my husband who serves his country and his family every day. Who puts up with the long nights of a bright computer screen, and the long days filled with endless typing and phone calls to fix story holes. Lastly, to my children who never cease to amaze me with their unfettered kindness and positive outlook on life.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In life, we die countless deaths to love,
or the lack there of.
The noise from my chains was so loud and annoying, it woke me up from my unconscious state. The moment my lids fluttered open, my senses were flooded with agonizing pain that seared through my entire body, even reaching the tips of my fingers and toes. The pain stemmed from the endless beatings my captors bestowed upon me during the vicious interrogations I was forced to endure. The sounds of my own groans, mixed with clanging chains and the agonizing screams coming from the other cells, all blended together in a mind boggling orchestra of noise that gave me a splitting migraine.
Fuck, I knew I shouldn’t have tried to fight back yesterday, it just pisses them off even more
I cringed as I tried to reposition myself, wanting desperately to go back to sleep, as it was my only reprieve from the anguish I was subjected to during my waking hours, but even my precious sleep was a short-lived affair. If it wasn’t the noise created by the crazed prisoners, or pain from the increasing viciousness I was subjected to on a daily basis, it was the deep-rooted soreness in my shoulders, which ached from being chained above my head most nights.
I tried to inch my way closer to the wall to give my sore back a small reprieve. I’d been in a slumped position since they’d beat me unconscious the night before, but I was just too weak and broken to do anything but breathe…slowly.
As my senses came back online, I could hear the familiar footsteps clicking against the concrete floor. I held my breath and used my heels to shift myself toward the wall as the footsteps and the clanging keys neared; sounds that I heard every morning, signaling that my tormentors were coming for me.
I am not ready for these mutherfuckers yet.
I gritted my teeth and pushed my body the rest of the way toward the wall, positioning myself in a seated position.
From this vantage point I could survey the fresh lacerations and bruises I received during my last interrogation. As I shifted all my weight onto the chains that restrained my wrists, the gray concrete walls crumbled under the pressure, and crumbs of concrete and dust fell onto my jet black hair, then tumbled down onto my shredded, blood-soaked undershirt.
The stray dust that fell into my open wounds burned like salt, causing me to exhale in agony. My mouth was dry from the miniscule daily amounts of water rationed out to me, and I had all but forgotten what real food tasted like. Being that starvation was a part of my torture regimen, I was lucky to be given a bite or two of stale bread every now and again. My stomach didn’t even growl anymore.
I was a tough, no holds barred Navy SEAL, trained to be an alpha male in any situation and withstand this sort of torture and misery, but I was precariously close to my breaking point. Not knowing if it had been weeks or months since my capture, I felt as though I had been imprisoned in the dingy five by seven cell for an eternity. I prayed for a quick end, as I wasn’t able to see any way of escaping this situation.
Every day it was the same routine. First, I would wake up to the unbearable and insurmountable pain from the day before. Then the head asshole in charge, Amadi, would almost instinctively arrive at my cell five minutes later to escort me to their makeshift torture chamber down the hall. This is where he would whip me with a leather belt, the metal buckle serving as an extra mechanism of pain.
Amadi, or one of his lackeys, would interrogate me about my ties to the military, then beat me savagely when I wouldn’t answer. Eventually, after being beaten within an inch of my life, they would drag me back to my cell, blood dripping along the concrete floor, and chain me to the wall, and there I would remain until they came for me the next day; the brutish cycle repeating day after day, week after week.
I didn’t know how much longer my body would be able to take it. The only thing that got me through the despair and pain I felt was the compassion I was shown from a woman named Nasima, who couldn’t have been any older than her mid-twenties. Every day after the incessant beatings, she was forcefully thrown into the cell with me, and ordered to dress my wounds to keep me alive and infection away.
There were the rare days when they would leave me unchained; but only after she would implore the guards to leave them off, citing that my wrists were so raw it left me at risk for an infection which she didn’t have medication to treat.
“A dead man cannot provide useful information,” she would plead, and at times they seemed to listen.
Arriving every day at around the same time, she always donned the traditional jilbab, complete with the head and face covering, and except for the small opening which enabled her to see, she was completely covered from head to toe. While she tended my injuries, I would steal quick glances into her light blue eyes framed by a set of thick black eyelashes and the millimeters of olive-toned skin that peeked out past the edges of the covering.
She was the only normalcy I had, and I spent countless hours daydreaming as to what the rest of her face might look like; imagining high cheek bones, a thin bridged nose, and a pair of supple lips. I envisioned the possible body that could be hidden underneath the oversized black dress to be long and slender with a healthy amount of thickness where a woman needed it to be…where
needed it to be.
She only ever spoke a few words to me, but when she did, she usually urged me to tell the guards what I knew in order to stop the sadistic beatings they wrought upon me. She never said enough to garner any information as to where I was being kept, or who was keeping me there, but her tender kindness gave away that she didn’t agree with my cruel treatment.
I was always gentle with my treatment of his wounds, trying not to look at his face, as it was forbidden in my culture. Though there were moments―fleeting as they may have been―when I accidentally caught glimpses of his battered face. But what I saw was not the abrasions or the bruises that littered his face, instead I saw a ruggedly handsome white man, with jet black hair and ice blue eyes. His chiseled jawline, dirty and unshaven, still exuded a certain modicum of sensuality that enticed my forbidden fantasies. As I cleaned his wounds, I surveyed the untouched areas, noting the firmness of his rigid abs and how the tight elastic band of his boxer briefs hugged his lean waist.
“You can’t keep going on like this, you know,” I said softly, as I wiped away the splatters and streams of blood.
“Don’t worry about me, I’ll be okay,” he replied with a slight cringe to his lips as he repositioned himself.
“Just tell them what they want to know,” I said. “No one will blame you. Not after they hear what you had to go through.”
“Are you being serious? No one will hear what I went through. I’ll disappear. That will be the last time you ever see me. I know how these things work. Hell, that’s how
“What do they even want to know?” I asked curiously.
This was the most I had ever heard Nasima say at one time. Her beautiful accent wrapped around her perfect English vernacular, void of contractions, had become daily poetry to my ears.
“Everything,” I replied, still bound to the wall, chained by my wrists. “They want to know everything. Dates. Places. Names. Everything!”
I winced as she poured alcohol on the lacerations on my forearms. The clear liquid streamed down my arm and into the other open wounds she had yet to bandage.
“Ahh, fuck me!” I growled.
She paused for a moment, looking at me with a twinge of disgust in her face before she began to speak again. “I’m going to need to sew this up. A bandage simply will not do. Are you ready?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Not if you want to keep infection away. This is going to hurt. I will ask again…are you ready?”
Without awaiting my reply, she punctured the flesh of my arm with the needle, threading the string through a particularly large gash on my forearm.
Gritting my teeth, I prepared myself for the next puncture. The searing pain caused me to exhale a low moan as she punched the blunt needle through my skin, over and over again.
“Stop being a little baby,” she said quietly.
I could hear the invisible smile attached to her comment, which intrigued me.
Is there a real woman under all that material? A real woman that could help me escape if I played my cards right?
I wanted to charm her the best way I knew how. Unfortunately, my charms were crafted from bedding a bunch of cussing bar room hussies who wouldn’t know a gentleman from their left hand.
“A baby? Let me sew you up with that blunt ass needle, and see how much you fuckin’ like it,” I joked, waiting for her to answer with the usual reply I got from all the other women I met at seedy bars.
The kind of women who were instantly smitten at the mere fact I was a SEAL; their legs raring to open at the drop of a dime, or a casual wink. Unfortunately, Nasima did not respond as I expected.
“If you could not curse around me, I would greatly appreciate it,” she said.
Does it offend your sensibilities?” I asked with a small chuckle, not realizing I had overstepped her boundaries.
“Yes, actually, it does,” she replied in a taut voice.
“Well, you’re surely in the wrong fuckin’ place, woman,” I replied, shaking my head, slightly irritated that her reply did not coincide with what I had expected to hear. “Where do you think you are? A damn five-star resort? Are you fuckin’ blind to what the hell is going on here?”
She glared at me for a moment, and then shook her head as she continued to work on my wounds.
“So you never answered me,” she said, her tone reverting from its previous sternness to a soft, comforting whisper.
Against all the chaotic background noise of the prisoners yelling and beating on their metal doors, I could feel her subtle breathing next to my ear as she tried her best to keep me alive. Her comforting tone calmed me from the firestorm that had begun to rage inside of me from a mixture of hunger, pain, and anger from her shutting me down.
I began to see things for what they were, and she was not my enemy. If anything she was the closest thing I had to a friend at the moment.
Realizing what a jerk I had been because of my own inner turmoil, I tilted my head to inch closer to her ear and whispered, “I don’t know what they want to know. I don’t know anything. I’m just a bag of old dried bones following orders. Like a good little soldier.”
She stopped working and looked directly into my eyes. “But even a soldier has a bit of useful information to offer his weary body a slight reprieve. Do you not think?” she asked.
“Not this soldier,” I said as I shook my head. The unbelievable pain coupled with the lack of food and water made me nauseous. No longer able to hold back my sickness, I spewed vomit all over the floor next to my hip.
Nasima jumped up and watched as my head rolled to the side, my eyelids fluttering open, then closed.
I could tell he was getting sicker, and my little patch jobs were no longer working to keep him well. Quickly, I turned and ran to the door, banging on the cold metal with my fist.
“Help, help…he passed out!” I yelled, eventually garnering the attention of a few guards, who burst into the room to find Elijah was falling in and out of consciousness.
“He threw up! He needs something to eat and drink or he will die!” I screamed, pointing to him frantically.
“Why the fuck are you screaming at me, bitch?” the lanky guard yelled angrily as he slapped me across the face, knocking me to the ground.
I held my hand over my cheek as I fell on my side, my hip hitting the concrete with a
Elijah’s lids fluttered back open amidst all of the loud commotion. “Leave her alone!” he yelled as he struggled against the chains that restrained his arms.
The guards unchained his wrists and threw him on the floor. “Go get water and some bread,” one of the guards belted out to a young boy that had been standing near the door.
He was dressed in shabby ill-fitted clothing and couldn’t have been any older than twelve. As he ran out of the cell, he struggled to keep his oversized pants from falling off, returning a few moments later with a pail of water and a small loaf of bread, which he set down next to me.
The guard pointed to the pail and bread and said, “Here! Do what you can. If he cannot be saved, then we will kill him tonight. No sense in wasting any more food on a useless piece of meat like this.”
He spit on Elijah’s face as he walked away and slammed the cell door behind him.
Elijah fluttered in and out of consciousness, finally settling into an in between state, with his eyes half open while mumbling something quietly to himself. Seeing that he was half awake, I quickly picked myself up from the ground and ran over to him, falling onto my knees next to his ribs, gently laying my palm on his cheek. I grasped a piece of my dress to wipe away the excess vomit that still lay across his chin. Like a mother wiping away a child’s mess, I was gentle with him, and soft with my words.