THE BINDING TIE
DISCLAIMERS: see Part One
FEEDBACK: Pretty please with a sugar on top : ) .....firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES: Hello folks, I'm back again. For those of you wondering, this is the same story as before, but now that I have free time I can finish it in the way I wanted. I have an additional 15 new chapters to add so here is the new part ten! Chapter 14 is very slightly altered and so reposted in this part as well. Chapter 15 is ALL NEW!
THANKS: To everybody who read the original posts and e-mailed me. This coursework got a 2:1 (B), i got a 3rd overal. I hope that you give the new sections a chance...'cause the ending sucked ; )
She sat with her head in her hands, rocking back and forth. Occasionally she would look out at the water while brushing a stray tear from her cheek. She couldnt stay in the house, it felt too small and the walls were pushing in on her. She knew she should stay for her children, they were scared and crying for a daddy who would never come home. She had calmed them down and put them to bed, but could not watch over them. Her mother seemed to understand and patted her daughters shoulder as she left the room.
She had run from the house to this place, her sanctuary. She knew that it was foolish to leave the house alone, but she couldnt stay. In her shocked state she managed to rationalise her recklessness, the police were crawling all over the estate so she wasnt in danger. It wasnt true, she knew it, the stalker could be anywhere, be anyone yet she had ceased to care. Life wasnt supposed to be this way.
When she was young she had wanted a life like her parents shared. She thought that she had found that with Douglas. When they met she had still been an impressionable teenager and he seemed like a prince charming to match her princess. He was intelligent and funny, he engaged her in a way that nobody had since she was a child. He seemed perfect, so when he asked her to marry him she had jumped at the chance. They had three beautiful children, just like her parents so why werent they happy? She hadnt worked that out until the threats started coming and now he was dead.
A throat cleared somewhere behind her and she instantly knew that it was Hunter. She felt the fear in the pit of her stomach loosen its hold on her at the sound. Her protector was here, she would be alright. She didnt turn to the other woman, but remained staring at the calm water.
"Um...I have no idea what to do, but can I sit down?" Hunter seemed hesitant and shy, not something the singer associated with her. Francesca patted the ground beside her and Hunter lowered herself to a cross legged position.
Hunter studied the other womans profile. She couldnt help but be in awe of the face so close to her own. Francesca was an incredibly gorgeous woman and Hunter was only human. Silently she traced the contours of her cheeks, the dip of her nose, the strong chin that was quivering as her eyes passed over it. Tears slipped slowly over those cheeks leaving their sorrowful trail.
"You really loved him?" It just sort of slipped out before Hunter could stop herself.
Francesca nodded without turning her head. Hunters face screwed up in consternation. How could this rich, successful woman actually love a man who beat her? The thought was totally incomprehensible to her. The idea of the other woman having such strong feelings for the man also troubled her and she couldnt understand why.
"Look I know that its out of line, but I have to ask this. Why?"
Francesca looked at her for the first time, her eyes bleak. "Why what?"
"Why did you love him, after what he did to you?"
"Youre right, you dont understand. He was so kind and loving when we met that I fell in love with him. He was a great husband until the twins came. I had depression and he just drifted away from me. It was really my fault."
"How can you say that? If he loved you he would have supported you, not hit you!"
"He only did it when he was frustrated. I know he loved me!"
"Well thats alright then!" The sarcasm oozed from her words.
Francesca wanted to lash out at the body beside her. How could she talk about Douglas like this? The man was dead! He had been a good husband and father. She looked at her childhood friend and realised, for the first time that they would never again be the friends that they had been in their youth. Their lives were too different.
"What do you know about love anyway?" She wanted to take the words back as she saw the total agony pass over Hunters face.
"I know what love is. Love is looking into someones eyes and seeing your whole future there. Its pain and sacrifice and joy. Its your entire world coming to an end when theyre gone...Is that how you feel? Will your world never be the same?" It was the slaves turn to focus on the water.
Francesca thought hard about what the other woman said. Would her world be irrevocably shattered by his absence? She found herself coming to the same conclusion again and again, she would go on. Already she was contemplating her next relationship, whether she would find somebody else and have more children. She found that she could not understand the depth of the other womans pain even though
she herself was the recently bereaved.
"Is that how you felt about..." For some reason she couldnt bring herself to save the name.
"Jordan? Yeah, I mean we were really young, but you grow up fast when you have to. I havent felt like a child since I lived here. She used to look at me with this look of devotion on her face that I knew was reflected on mine." Suddenly realising who she was talking to and what she was saying Hunter clamed up. This did not go unnoticed by the brunette.
Francesca realised how hard this was for her companion. She was strong and stoic, forced into herself by circumstances. She suddenly felt very small and scared sitting with such a strong woman. She wanted to be comforted, but she also wanted to comfort. She hesitantly moved closer to the muscular body and rapped her arm around the strong shoulders. Hunter tensed, her body turning to stone. Nobody touched her, she was not a thing, but this was Chess. As much as she had told the other women that they were not the same, that she did not care for her in that way now, they would always have their time in this place. Francesca needed a shoulder to cry on, she could be that. She wished shed had one.
Francesca felt the tension ease from the other body and stopped herself form pulling away. As she felt Hunter relax she leaned into her warm body and rested her head on a broad shoulder. Instantly a wave of peace flowed over her, Douglas death and the threats to her life seemed very far away. She felt herself begin to drift in this safe haven. She gave into the tranquil feelings and began to doze.
Hunter heard the police before they reached the clearing. Not wanting the other woman to be embarrassed by their intimate position she gently shook her awake. Francesca came to with a start, pulling quickly away from the slave and wrapping her arms around herself. Hunter tried to explain but was silenced when three police officers crashed out of the tree line.
"Mrs Rose?" The first uniformed officer said, looking at the singer.
"Mrs Rose, you need to come to the station and make a statement. We have a car waiting." He ushered the woman towards him.
Francesca stood and walked towards the uniformed men. Hunter made a move towards her mistress and found herself held back by the youngest if the three cops. Francesca noticed this and motioned with her eyes for Hunter to stay calm. She turned her attention to the officer standing beside her.
"You dont have to restrain her, shed my bodyguard."
"We know that, maam. Your slave also needs to come for questioning." His voice was cool and distant. "We really need to go." He turned and strode into the foliage. Francesca followed at a more sedate pace.
Behind the two retreating figures Hunter found herself forcefully pushed forward by one of the two young me. As she put out her hands to stop her forward motion she found herself grabbed by the shoulders. With an officer on each side she was yanked off of her feet and roughly hauled in the same direction as Francesca who had disappeared out of sight many minutes before. Allowing her body to go limp in their grasp she gave in to the humiliation of being man handled.
With the decline in racism in capitalist countries and the recognition of gay marriage, peoples prejudices had become focused in new directions. The ever growing slavery market had produced an underclass who could be treated badly with no recourse. Slaves had become the whipping boys of the world, they could be blamed for negligent actions and beating them was no crime. The worst offenders were not those who owned slaves, they had made an investment. Those who could not afford slaves, the common man, took out their resentment on other peoples property.
The two young officers would never make enough money to live like the Prince family. In ten lifetimes they wouldnt make enough money to own seven slaves. It was human nature. Therefore Hunter was not surprised when she was thrown to the floor just inside the tree line and kicked repeatedly in the ribs. She didnt cry out, this was a pain she was familiar with.
"I saw this one in action once at the arena, not just on TV, it was amazing! Wait till I tell the guys that I got to fight her!" The red haired man looked like hed just won the lottery.
"This is hardly fighting, Nick." Even as he said it the dark haired man kept a lookout.
"Yeah, well as I see it, she panicked and resisted us and we had to subdue her." He looked speculatively at his partner.
"Whatever, youve had your fun. We better get her to the car otherwise theyll come looking for us." They once again picked her up of the floor and dragged her along. They began to talk over her head, acting as if she wasnt there. "I heard that she used to be a pleasure slave."
"Nah, look at her! Shes built like a tank."
"She is cute though, Nick."
The other mans response was cut short as they came within view of the house and the many milling police officers. They quickly moved towards the police car, waiting on the gravel driveway. Nick yanked open the door and the two men all but threw the limp body into the seat. Before she was even settled the door was slammed behind her, leaving her in the car with Francesca.
"That took a while?"
"They were fans." It was gritted out between clenched teeth.
"I know about that."
The drivers door was suddenly opened and a uniformed figure positioned them self behind the wheel. With a look in the rear view mirror to check the passengers, the cop turned on the ignition and put the car into gear. With a wave to one of the surrounding officers they were off. Once they were on their way the cop activated the privacy-style screen which separated the officer from any criminal in the rear. This allowed Francesca the privacy to compose herself. Deep in her own thoughts, the singer did not see her partners pain.
Hunter had felt pain before, had been bathed in it. She had been beaten for as long as she could remember and had learned how to block it out, but this time it was different. In the back of the cruiser the pain washed over her, not the physical pain of broken ribs and bruised wrists, this was the psychological pain of hatred. Since Jordan, she had not been human, the injustices upon her ignored as unimportant. The Princes had changed that. She was learning how to be a person again, still owned, but an individual in her own right. She had felt the same when Francesca had slapped her, only this was magnified ten times because it was fuelled not by grief, but by blind hatred.
In her turmoil the warrior tilted her head back, feel white hot pain seer through her skull at this action. She let out a hiss of pain, God damn sons of bitches musta hit me in the head. The sound of the other womans pain made Francesca snap out of her own revelry, locking blue eyes on her companion.
"Hunter, what happened back there?" She had been mulling over the other womans words since the car set out and could no longer hold back her curiosity.
"I think I got a concussion." At least that would explain her dour thoughts.
"What the hell did those officers do to you? I want a straight answer Hunter." She may not be totally comfortable with the shorter woman, but she still did not want to see her hurt.
"I told you, they were fans." At the glare she received from the brunette, the blond sighed and told Francesca about the beating she had received at the hands of the two young officers. "People need something to hate, thats us. Im a famous face to most freemen, an easy target. Those boys were just doing what anybody else would have done under the circumstances. Its happened before." Involuntarily she looked away from her owner as she said this. A wave of sadness washed over Francesca as she realised she had done the same thing.
"You listen to me, that will never happen again. I promise. You will never know how sorry I am for hitting you, and if anybody does this again I will have them up on charges." Francesca was on a role. The whirlwind of emotions she had been feeling since she found out about Douglas death in the early hours of the morning would not let her stop. "You have protected me and, more than that, you have become a comfort for me. I know I own you, but you didnt have to do that. Thank you." The last was said softly, almost reverently.
Hunter saw the truth in the other womans eyes. Her own thoughts were fuzzy, her mind not providing her with any response to the other womans sincerity. She simply allowed her keeper to look into her eyes and see the acceptance there. As she opened her mouth to speak, having finally found the words, the cruiser sped over a decidedly bumpy piece of road. The jarring thud sent another lance of pain through her head. Her words coming out as a whimper.
For the second time that day, Francesca found herself reaching out to the stoic slave, and putting her arm around her shoulders. The tensing of the smaller body was becoming almost familiar, but Francesca did not let go. Instead she drew closer to the fighter, knowing that eventually the rigour would melt away. She was right, and as the shorter woman relaxed the heiress guided her head to her shoulder, shielding her as best she could from the movement of the car.
Hunter wanted to fight, wanted to pull away from the comfort of the other woman. She shouldnt be taking comfort in the warmth of her body, the way she smelt, but it was no use. It had been so long since somebody had held her, had tried to give her comfort and sooth her pain, that she couldnt be bothered to fight. Melting completely into the embrace she allowed her guard to drop. The officer would protect Francesca, she almost let the pain lull her into sleep.
"Hay, none of that. You need to stay awake if this is concussion. Hay, do you remember my sixth birthday?" She knew that this, at least would be a happy memory.
"Yeah, the look on your fathers face when that pony crapped on his foot." A rueful smile lit up the tired face.
The two woman continued to talk about inconsequential things as the car sped onwards. They both needed to be distracted, one from the pain of death, the other from the pain of hatred. Neither of them noticed the eyes glaring at them from the rear-view mirror.
The uniformed woman seated in the drivers seat could not keep her eyes away from the two passengers in the rear of the cruiser. She could not believe what she was seeing. How dare she touch her like that! Her eyes slitted further as she focused her glare solely on Francesca Prince. You will pay for what you have done to her.
Her eyes rested on Hunter, sagged in the chair beside her owner. What has she done to you? He eyes softened briefly as she drank in the sight of the smaller woman, before reluctantly turning her attention back to the road.
Knowing something and feeling it are two completely different things, mused Hunter as she followed her ward down a crowded corridor. Intellectually, even in her headache clouded mind, she knew that the police precinct was the safest place for her to be. Yet her instincts screamed at her to get out of there. People were milling about everywhere, both cops and criminals, blocking their path as they moved through the dingy foyer. Too many people.
Francesca, once again, was oblivious to Hunters turmoil. She went with her head. Police equalled protection to the young woman, and with her warrior at her back, nothing could touch her here. She waked quickly up to the reception desk, wanting this chapter of her life to close as quickly as possible. She simply wanted to go home and console her children in the wake of this tragedy.
"Excuse me, Officer....Dent." She paused to read the paunchy mans name badge. He looked up from his paperwork, a bored expression on his face. "Um, I need to give a statement to Detective Reed? Im Francesca Rose?"
The middle aged man looked the beautiful woman in front of him up and down. His son had pictures of her plastered all over his bedroom walls. Wonder if I can get an autograph? When his eyes travelled past her and landed on the scared and glowering face at his shoulder he turned his attention to his computer.
"Where is Officer Daniels?" At the puzzled look he received from the brunette he continued. "The officer who drove you in, young blond?"
"Oh, she stayed outside."
"That cant have been Daniels." He rapidly typed onto his keypad.
"Daniels is a... Hello Officer Daniels." A young man in his early twenties approached the desk, smiling. "I thought you were picking up Mrs Rose?" He nodded in her direction.
"No, she had already left in cruiser 412, I followed. Hello maam." The desk officer looked disturbed by this, but let it go for the moment.
"Ill have to report this to Detective Reed. Take these ladies up to interview rooms 2 and 9. Please followed the Officer." No autograph today.
The women shared a look, before Francesca broke into stride with the beaming young man. That he was one of the record buying public was obvious as he bounded around the star like an excited puppy. Hunter looked on, a rueful expression on her face. Another ones fallen for you, but whether she was thinking of the boy or herself she couldnt be sure.
Interview room 2
Francesca sat in the uncomfortable plastic chair and waited for her lawyer to arrive. She knew that police interviews could not begin without counsel, but she hadnt anticipated him taking this ling. An hour had passed since she was ushered into this sterile room, and the rigours of the day were beginning to tell on her. She hoped that Carlos Holt, of Holt, Stand and Delmar Associates would arrive soon.
For what felt like the hundredth time, but was probably only the tenth, she studied the few objects inside the room. Three blue chairs, identical to the one she sat on, surrounded a heavy metal table which was bolted to the floor. Two chairs on each side. The table held a state of the art voice recorder. The walls, floor and ceiling were all in matching grey. the room was designed to feel oppressive and it worked admirably well. On one grey wall perched a clock, ticking the time away.
I hope he gets here soon....
Interview room 9
"You were heard threatening the victim." Detective Reed locked brown eyes with unnatural blue.
The state appointed attorney that showed up to represent the slave was little more than a boy, barely out of law school. He was eager and earnest, but totally out of his depth. Hunter turned to him and saw the look of panicked confusion cross his smooth face, she could barely stop herself from rolling her eyes. Looks like Im on my own, nothing new there. She gave the young man a reassuring nod and turned to the interrogating officer.
"I am Mrs Roses bodyguard. I found Mr Rose hitting her one evening and stopped it. I simply let him know that his actions would not be tolerated in the future." Hunter could be as articulate as the next body slave. It was all part of the service.
Reed looked at the slave sitting across from him. In his youth he had watched his parents picket for slavery to be abolished. He shared their views, yet he could not share their conviction as a police officer. The cherubic faced woman sitting in front of him would be an easy scapegoat for the investigating if anybody else was running it. He smiled inwardly, glad that he had been in the right place at the right time. Everybody deserved to be given the benefit of the doubt. His inner thoughts did not show on his face, which remained an impassive mask.
"Where were you on the night of the murder?" He had to ask.
Hunter almost let out a bark of laughter at the ridiculous question. Almost.
Interview room 2
"You and your husband had recently separated, is that correct?"
"Yes." Francesca looked towards her Lawyer as she answered and received a reassuring nod. Reed noticed this and filed it away with the rest of his observations about this woman. There was something cagey about her answers, especially regarding her time with the bodyguard in room 9.
"Why did you and your husband separate?"
"I dont want to talk about it." Her face set, and a sense of panic washed through her. She didnt want to dredge up her marital problems in front of strangers, especially not now.
Reed slammed his hand onto the shiny surface of the table and stood abruptly. He was suddenly looming over the seated woman, his chair pushed far behind him, teetering to a standstill. He glared down at the rapidly paling woman.
"You dont seem to understand how this works Mrs Rose. Your husband has been murdered and we are trying to find the killer. You are a suspect and as such you are expected to answer my questions." His voice was low, menacing.
"Detective, I suggest you sit down. As I was led to understand, my client is not under arrest and as such does not have to be here. She has agreed to answer your questions, and has done so. This interview is over." Carlos locked eyes with the detective, daring him to keep them there.
"Interview terminated, index time." A soft hiss indicated that the recorder had logged the time and switched itself off. "You are free to go, but we will be in touch with you very soon. Dont leave the state." Reed stayed seated as he watched the shaken young woman be escorted from the room by the elderly Hispanic lawyer.
He began to tap the tip of his pen on his writing pad, examining the reactions of the woman who had just left more than the words. He pursed his lips, realising that she had gone from just nervous to tense, her answers had grown more and more guarded. This was a woman with something to hide.
The name was bold on the page, like a bloodstain. He stared at it for a few moments before circling it, his pencil snapping with force of his hand. He laid the pencil down, reaching for his phone and dialling a number.
"I want everything you have on Francesca Rose, personal and profession...Especially that....I want to know the tiniest detail about the separation, whether they were divorcing and why." He hung up before he could get an answer.
He turned his eyes back to the name on the page. It was always good to have a suspect in the frame.