• Slowly, I started to regain consciousness, but I couldn't move. My hands and feet were stretched out and tied, or chained, to something. My whole body was numb, which was a good thing because it meant I couldn’t feel the pain of my broken leg. A piece of black cloth was over my face, so I couldn't see a thing, and I was gagged with something that filled my whole mouth. It made it hard to make any sound at all.
    A sudden breeze gave my barely clothed body goosebumps. The cloth that had been covering my eyes was suddenly ripped away, and the sight that met me, was a woman. Clad all in black leather, and holding a whip in her right hand, and a razor in her left...
    “Ah, Vivienne, I see you’ve woken from your little nap,” Victoria’s slightly English accented voice echoed through the dark chamber. Her arm flung back and she cracked the whip over my bare stomach.
    I tried to scream out in agony, but the gag was still in my mouth.
    “What was that? Are you trying to say something, darling?” Victoria threw her head back in laughter. She sauntered over to where I was tied down, and pulled a long red cloth out of my mouth.
    I gasped for air, thankful when my mouth was no longer dry. As soon as it wasn’t, I spat in Victoria’s face.
    “You,” Victoria bellowed, disgustedly wiping the spit off her face, “ungrateful little shrew.” She shoved the cloth back into my mouth.
    Choking on the cloth didn’t stop me from seeing Victoria fling the whip back again. I closed my eyes, ready to feel the pain. I waited to feel the pain. Opening my eyes cautiously, I saw that someone had grabbed the whip out of Victoria’s hand. They were arguing in hushed voices, so I wouldn’t hear.
    The person who had saved me was blocked by Victoria, so I couldn’t see who I needed to thank, once a got off this contraption.
    “This isn’t the way, Victoria,” my savior whispered.
    Victoria shifted my foot to foot. I strained my neck, so I could see my rescuer.
    Xander? No, he betrayed me. I loved him, and he ran away. To no longer be one of the “good guys.” Xander couldn’t of been the one. Oh, but he was. I saw him clearly when he walked out of the room.
    “He tried, dear. He tried to get me to spare you, but I’m the boss, and I say we kill you.”
    Nothing could save me now. No one even knew where I was. Hope was lost. They would get the letter. They would win. I had failed. I hung my head in shame, prepared for would come.
    “Turn it on, Nathaniel. The need to see her suffer is too great for silly little whip games.”
    The contraption that my body was tied to whirred to life. It started tugging on my arms and my legs. My broken leg shot bursts of pain through my whole body. It was almost unbearable, but I would not let Victoria think she had won. Never.
    I closed my eyes and breathed. In and out. In and out. I focused on the sound of my breath. Nothing else. Not the pain. Not the heartache. Nothing, but my breath.
    Suddenly, the machine stopped. I opened my eyes in confusion. That’s when the pain starting registering.
    My sight was a little blurry, but I could see someone was standing in front of me. That someone was... Xander?
    It was definitely him. He was trying to cut me loose, though. Trying to save me.
    “We don’t have any time to waste,” whispered cutting though the robes that bound my arms. He moved down to my legs. “Why aren’t you saying anything,” he asked, worry obvious in his voice. “Oh,” he said, realizing that the cloth was still in my mouth.
    I pulled the cloth out of my mouth, now that my hands were free. He cut through the last of robe and I fell to the floor. Xander caught me at the last second.
    Laughing, he said, “All this time, I thought you were the one with good reflexes. Not me.”
    “My leg is broken,” I snapped.
    “Oh, right.” He placed my arm around his shoulders and helped me limp out of the room. “We have to leave, now.”
    As we were leaving the room, I looked back and saw all the henchmen and Victoria lying limp on the floor, their blood pooling.
    We slowly made our way through the dark hallways and corridors. Xander grabbed the key out of his pocket and unlocked the door, leading outside. He pushed the door open and the cold winter wind chilled my barely clothed body. I shivered, and my teeth chattered.
    Xander silently placed his jacket over my shoulders and buttoned it up in the front. We walked down the sidewalk, and away from that wretched place.