Okay so I think I have edited the first section decently enough, I still have to have someone go over it for grammar and such, but what do you think of the story so far?
Prologue- Sweet Freedom
It was insane, to jump from a four story window, it could even be considered suicidal. I was neither but I sat crouched low on the edge of my window ready to make the leap. I took a deep breath of the crisp night air, readying myself before the jump when I was rudely interrupted by Roland opening the bedroom door. He, of course, started yelling at me to get down or I was going to fall. I looked back over my shoulder at him and gave him a grin. Of course I would. That was the point.
I let go and for a brief moment I was suspended on the window sill defying gravity before I began to fall. I wasn’t free falling in love like my friends were, I wasn’t that type, but I was soaring through the air, rushing towards the ground. My fear gave me a rush of adrenaline I desperately needed and in this moment I was happy. Too soon the fall was over and I hit the ground on my feet, my knees expertly unbuckled so I flipped into a somersault. The kinetic energy pushed me back up to my feet so when I stopped I was standing up with my hands in the air like a circus performer about to take a bow before an applauding audience. I heard a slow dramatic clapping behind me so I turned to the window grinning up at a very unpleased Roland.
“Oh, just great job Emily. Perfect landing. I’m glad to see your parent’s money for all those gymnastics classes was well spent.” The large body guard called down, sarcastically folding his arms in typical Roland style when trying to be intimidating. I laughed at him and started across the lawn, bouncing with the rush of energy I now had.
“Yea definitely agreed. I’ll add in a midair flip next time.” I heard him yell a string of obscenities at me but then he added “Be safe!” on the end. I shook my head in amusement at the protective man and locked away the memory of my free fall for the times when I was too busy to think, let alone be free.
Now, I know you’re your thinking; an 18 year old girl at night jumping out her window…I must be sneaking out right? Wrong. I had actually been ordered to make an appearance at the high profile club I was going to in order to keep the family name in the papers before the big election. The appearance will make us seem more relevant and such, so yes, my parents know exactly where I am. Well they might not know EXACTLY where I was, striding across their lawn after having jumped out their window, but they knew I was going out. And no, I am not running from a serial killer or being chased by a group of angry bandits. No, this was a random and completely unnecessary move that was hardly something to be expected looking at the mundane life I had begun to live. In that one moment flying through the air….I had been happy, and the thing I knew about happiness was that it never lasted.
Chapter one- Kidnapped
I ran down the slick hardwood floors almost hitting several of our hired hands on the way. I had just got a text that I was needed urgently in the kitchen by the elite chef I had hired specifically for the special occasion.
“What’s wrong?” I asked barging into the chaotic kitchen and immediately being bombarded by a dozen people who needed my attention or the world would end judging by their panic level. I took a deep breath and started to weed through the shouting staff members that were crowding me.
“You. Go to the store and get more potatoes, you, yes, you the short blond, stop standing around and go help them set the tables in the dining hall. Bennett can you whip up forty two servings of soup to hold the guests off until the potatoes get here and are cooked?” Over an hour passed this way: me ordering everyone around because my parents were busy entertaining as always. My father was politically powerful, but that was more on an account of my early mornings, late nights, and good people sense. I not only ran his business but kept his approval ratings up in the election polls with strategically placed press releases and near continuous meetings. While kids my age were partying and goofing off here I was in the kitchen pouring sweat, in charge of 150 plus helpers and missing the very dinner I had so carefully orchestrated.
“Ms. Emily, you’ve been asked to make an appearance after dessert to show your support, so you should probably clean up a bit” Roland suggested having come into the now calm kitchen only to look me up and down critically. My hair had completely fallen down and was sticking in curly clumps to my sweaty forehead, my make-up smeared beyond repair from the heavy heat and humidity of the kitchens. I nodded, watching the trays from the main course come back to the kitchen empty and figured I had about thirty minutes until dessert would be served.
“Okay, I’ll run up and take a quick shower” The large man grumbled deep in his throat, his light brown eyes piercing me with the ‘I’m about to lecture you look’. Great, just what I needed.
“I’ll come with you” He offered, not giving me an opportunity to object. It would have been futile anyways, he would just stalk me if I told him no.
“Fine.” I grumbled grabbing a cup of coffee from the dessert trays the kitchen was currently prepping and took off upstairs. As soon as the swinging doors of the kitchen closed behind us, Roland started on me.
“You look like hell.” He stated in a matter of fact tone, his long legs keeping up with my fast pace that was almost a run.
“Thanks for those kind words Roland. It’s not like I‘ve been in the kitchens for…” I looked down at my diamond studded watch and winced “two hours.”
“I wasn’t commenting on you current state, but rather the one you have been in for months now.” He remarked, glancing at me when I did not immediately respond.
“I thought you are supposed to be my father’s body guard or something. It’s slightly out of line for you to be making comments about my private life like this don’t you think?” I threw open the doors to my room, only too happy to be in its pure white bliss after such a long day. I’ve been going steadily since five a.m. now and want nothing better than to slip in my soft bed. I drank the coffee I had grabbed in one go, burning my throat with the hot liquid.
“Can you help me take this dress off?” I asked Roland who had followed me in, the conversation apparently not done.
“I think I’m more than just a body guard to you Emily.” He commented assuredly, coming up behind me to help me with the dress. I groaned at the comment and spun around right before he could get his hands on the buttons of my dress.
“I’m sorry I gave you the wrong impression Roland, I think it’d be best if you left now.” I commanded impatiently not even having the energy to be upset over the unfortunate miscommunication. Roland rolled his bright eyes and spun me back around with a grin.
“Ms. Emily, I meant I think it’s safe to say we’re friends of sorts, so when I see you’re having a hard time, I’m going to say something.” He said, unbuttoning the dress fumbling with the small buttons in his large hands.
“I’m not having a hard time Roland. Don’t worry about me.” I told him frowning and wiggling when he accidently touched my back.
“I’ve known you since you were five Emma. You’re not happy. You should be thinking about college and friends. I honestly can’t even say if you think of yourself or your future at all. Don’t you want to experience the world?” He asked. I sighed dramatically wanting him to be done lecturing already so I could escape to the shower.
“I don’t have time to think Roland. Or to be unhappy.”
“Is all you do is work so you don’t think of…”
“Don’t.” I commanded cutting him off, my airy tone taking a sharp turn for cold instantly when he tried to bring my ex up. We didn’t talk about him, or his death, or how I felt about it. It was in the rules that no one spoke of, but everyone was supposed to follow. Roland was almost halfway done now and was kneeling down to see the buttons better.
“You’re awfully bossy for someone who needs my help you know.” He muttered more to himself than to me, but I still caught it and felt my guilt start up. He only wanted to make sure I wasn’t suicidal or anything, and I had gone all controlling on him like he was just another helping hand, which everyone knew he wasn’t.
“I’m sorry Roland, It just…”
“Still hurts.” He said gently his annoyance dissipating at my apology. He sighed heavily and undid the last button standing up with a deep frown when I turned around.
“Emily, you barely sleep, you don’t eat, and you don’t even seem to be able to feel anything anymore. For goodness sakes you jumped out the window yesterday and for a second I thought it was to…” He cut off unable to finish the sentence and exhaled slowly trying to keep his emotions under control. He tipped my chin up with one large finger to make me look him in his eyes.
“Your eyes have always been beautiful Emma…but now it’s like looking into the eyes of a zombie. A zombie that you don’t know how to cure so you just have to watch them die a little more every day.” He whispered his deep voice full of a sensitive emotion he didn’t normally show. I didn’t really know what he meant by my eyes being like a zombie’s, they looked fine to me, but he was right about me not enjoying life. I have been breezing through life simply existing, not really living. I really did want to live life to the fullest, I just didn’t know how to. This boring life of serving my father was all I knew and was what I was comfortable with.
“I’ll apply to some colleges if that will make you happy.” He gave a small smile and nodded relived that I had agreed to at least make an attempt to get out of here.
“I’ll be waiting downstairs okay?” He responded backing out leaving me to my much needed shower.
“Okay I’ll be ten minutes.”
“Take your time. They’ll survive for a few minutes without you.” He insisted with a shake of his head closing the door behind him. I hated being away from the party going on downstairs but I really did need a good shower, so I took a bit longer than I normally would have letting the warm water ease out the stress of the last few days. Maybe going off to collage wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I always felt obligated to help my father before worrying about myself, but it seemed like the more I tried to help him, the colder he became towards me. Why should I help him when he never really seemed to appreciate my efforts and didn’t show me the same loyalty I showed him? I got out of the shower and dressed slowly making sure that I was the picture of perfection like always.
Yes, I could definitely get used to being able to wear soft comfortable clothes, the tight designer dresses I wore were nice, but I couldn’t even remember the last time I spent less than thirty minutes getting ready before walking out my bedroom door. I could only imagine my father’s look of horror if I went to breakfast in sweats like I knew normal teenagers did. He’d have a heart attack. When I started down the brightly lit hallway I didn’t see any of the normal passerby’s that filled the wide halls. I didn’t think much of it until I realized that it was silent. I should be able to hear voices drifting upstairs from the dinner, or at least some of the people in the kitchen arguing.
I descended the grand staircase slowly the hair standing on the back of my neck at the eerie feeling I was getting from the unnatural silence and absence the normal chaos. I got to the bottom of the stairs, but still didn’t hear or see anyone going back and forth from the kitchens to the dining room to refill drinks and bring in more food. My footsteps echoed strangely off the stone floors in a way I had never noticed before because of the constant sounds in the house. I turned down the hallway to the dining room and froze mid step panic overtaking me. I hadn’t been paranoid after all, James Russo was leaning against the wall opposite the dining room doors with folded arms dressed in a suit as if ready for the dinner.
“Well look who decided to show up to her dinner party.” I considered running in the opposite direction, but that would be cowardly, something I refused to be. I gave him a cold glare and folded my arms mimicking his own overly relaxed façade.
“This an invitation only party, and you weren’t invited Mr. Rousse so I would appreciate it if you left now.” I demanded hoping I sounded more confident than I really was. He snorted in amusement at that and glanced in the dining room his amusement only increasing.
“Well maybe you should have invited me then considering I had every intention of showing up. Maybe you could have better prepared your guests for my arrival, they all put up such a fuss.” I felt my face pale at this, horror flooding through me at the thought of him hurting the guests. I wouldn’t put it past him, he did have quite a reputation of playing dirty.
“Would you be so kind as to join us?” He asked not waiting for a reply and pulling a knife out with an ornate wooden handle that probably had all sorts of diseases on it despite its pristine appearance.
“Do I have any option?” I asked walking forward to look in the dining hall unsurprised when he grabbed me and put the knife to my throat. Everyone was bonded with their hands behind their backs held together by something I couldn’t see seven in the politicians that were turned away from me enough that I could see their backs.
“Now that our last guest has arrived we can begin, so sorry for the delay.” James stated politely pushing me forward into the room in front of my parents who were conveniently in the front of the room on their knees.
“Robert’s, I will make this quick and simple. Drop out of the election or I kill your daughter.” James ordered, putting one of his arms around me to keep me from running. He felt like steel. Rock hard, unnaturally hard. My father sneered at him unimpressed by the bold move.
“No, you wouldn’t, she’s too valuable to you James.” James seemed to deliberate behind me before relenting.
“I won’t kill her. Not right now at least. I’m taking her with me. How I treat her will depend on your actions so think wisely Roberts. This is my election, and my orders, you should have stayed out of it.” James snapped coldly, his threat not even seeming to register with my dad. I looked around desperately for Roland hoping he would help me, but he wasn’t here. Why would he choose now to abandon me and give me some space? He always was all in my business, but now he backed off? Unless if James killed him or something, I couldn’t see Roland backing down from his job for any other reason.
“Stay out of it? Hell no, you don’t deserve any honor or glory, this election belongs to me.” My father retorted his dark eyes blazing black in anger. James huffed impatiently and tightened his grip on me his steel hand having no give to it causing pain where he was holding me, something I barely noticed.
“Fine then, your daughter belongs to me. She’s hardly a high price to pay for all this glory you want right?” My father looked back in between before James and I with a clenched Jaw, what should have been an easy decision surprisingly difficult. We had never been close, but surely he felt some protectiveness over me?
“You know I play dirty Roberts and yet you haven’t secured your manor at all. It’s almost like you want me to take her.” James taunted lightly my own fears deepening at Roland’s suspicious disappearance. Had my father purposely let James come in to take me? Is that why he didn’t seem surprised or as angry as he should be?
“Playing dirty is an understatement Mr. Russo, this is going to be all over the news tomorrow and your career will be over.” My father spat at my kidnapper venomously in the same way that he would during a political debate, fake anger. James gave my father a condescending smile in return for the anger thoroughly enjoying himself. I could have slapped the jerk for his cockiness but considering he had a knife to my throat, I had no choice but to control my anger issues I had suddenly developed upon being kidnapped.
“Ah yes I forgot you are the moral compass of society now…at least that’s what you want everyone to think isn’t it?” James drawled out smirking at my father.
“We both know better don’t we Roberts?” My dad fought against his restraints much to James’s twisted amusement.
“You see Roberts, the only difference between you and I, is I do all my dirty work myself, I don’t call my murders accidents like you do.”
“You can’t prove anything James.” My father’s pale face had a blush of red starting to become consumed by real anger and embarrassment.
“Are you sure? Because I know for a fact that you alone are responsible for the Chetz uprising where over a hundred students were killed.” I was finding it hard to breathe now and stared unbelievingly at my betrayal of a father.
“Isn’t that the uprising where your daughter’s longtime boyfriend was killed?” James let this revelation sink into the room creating a dramatic pause only too pleased with himself.
“What a…strange coincidence…You never liked him though did you?” The color in my father’s face disappeared and he was the perfect picture of shock. His deceitful eyes caught mine and I wiped away the tears remembering my father’s complete lack of sympathy about the whole situation, it only made too much sense.
“Emma please, I knew nothing.” The knife on my throat disappeared, but I took a step away from my father. The room was alight with everyone talking at once, excitement at the news of the atrocity, but I couldn’t focus on them, and their chatter sounded like it was getting farther away.
“Breathe.” The soft command was whispered in my ear and I took a deep breath realizing that I had indeed stopped breathing. How very sweet, kidnap me and show me how little my family cares about me THEN be nice. Oh yea, so classy.
“It’s not true! HesHesHmdffjmod;s
mnghmjhgHe’s manipulating you!” My father yelled at a large burly man kneeling not far from me who had been interrogating him loudly, speaking for the audience.
“The Chetz never really had a reason for attacking, and your daughter’s boyfriend just happens to die there? I’m not buying it and I don’t think anyone else here is either.”
James smirked at my father and wrapped his arm tighter around me when I tried to push away after a moment. He held up the hand that wasn’t around me commanding the room’s attention instantly silencing everyone.
“Kidnapping innocent politicians isn’t the brightest move politically but before you vote for him to unite the world, I just felt it was my duty to inform everyone what kind of person Mr. Roberts is. I may not always use orthodox methods, but I also will never deceive you.” James told the crowd confidently seeming to gain their trust as least partially.
“You have no proof to go around accusing innocent people of such crimes, and then to act as if you are better than me when you’re holding me hostage…it’s insanity.” My father complained loudly sensing the shift in the room. Everyone turned to James to see his response at being called a liar in front of everyone. He rolled his eyes at my father lazily.
“Actually I do have proof, maybe if you checked your room for bugs every so often you wouldn’t admit your horrendous crimes to your enemy.” James said. I shivered at the creepy thought of James watching my every move for who knows how long. I was only too happy when he let go of me entirely.
“I’m not backing out of the election James. Nothing you can say or do will change that you poor excuse of a human.” James laughed outright at my father’s insult finding it amusing for whatever insane reason.
“Oh really? There’s nothing I can do?” James pulled me roughly away from the restrained crowd and I felt the cold knife at the edge of my throat ready to slice right through it. I tried to get away panicking despite my normally clear head, but he put a strong hand behind my neck forcing me into the knife. I stilled when he drugged the knife across my skin just hard enough to draw blood. He was serious, the whole room filled with tension, anxious eyes on me.
“Roger.” My mother pleaded half-heartily causing an ache in my heavily pumping heart having expected more from her. My father betraying me was bad enough, but wasn’t it like instinct for mothers to protect their child? Was I really that bad of a child?
“Withdraw, or I will take your daughter and you’ll never see her again.” I pleaded with my father with my eyes, not trusting myself to speak without screaming nonsense out of blind fear. I knew my father would withdraw, but the whole situation was overwhelming
“You wouldn’t” My father growled at James not pleading for me at all. James laughed a cold deep laugh behind me sending a chill down my back.
“Try me.” The room was silent, his words hanging in the tense air. I felt my heart breaking the longer the silence went on.
“Daddy?” Where was the hysterics? They should be groveling at James feet pledging anything and everything in exchange for my safety.
“No. I can’t let him in office, it would undermined everything I stand for. I have to protect the people from his insanity even if it means losing you. I won’t back down.” My father said. I shook my head unbelieving this was happening and took a step back. James let the knife fall to his side again his shock almost as intense as mine was.
“You’re my father, you should put me before everyone! Even if everyone else in the world dies because you’re protecting me, you should still do it!” My voice creaked with emotion and I kept backing away from my monstrous father until I hit James’s unnaturally hard chest. A murmur of agreement ran through the crowd, one man even spitting in my father’s direction.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, you’re a fool, the only footage I have is of you lying to your sweet daughter about your reasons for running for office” James said then paused with a triumphant glint in his dark eyes, letting the statement sink in. “I always have had my suspicions about your involvement with the Chetz rebellion though, thanks for clearing that up.” My father’s pale face burned red in anger and he started struggling against his restraints again thrashing around like a madman.
“You bastard! You tricked me!” My father screamed.
“I never claimed to be anything else.” James replied lightly shrugging unconcernedly, as he backed away from my father.
“Wait? You attack us and hold us captive and you still expect us to vote for you? Why the hell would I do that? Roberts might be a no go, but there are still better candidates than you!” A tall lanky man in the back protested defiantly causing a murmur of agreement to go through the crowd. I winced at the words knowing how this was going to end when James paused than came back towards me. Couldn’t he just have kept his mouth shut!
“Sorry.” He murmured quietly in my ear before pushing me down on my knees roughly intent on making an example of me.
“Well now that you have mentioned it, I agree that you guys do need a little incentive.” I sucked in a deep breath preparing for the onslaught of pain, but nothing could have prepared me for the excruciating electrical pulses that coursed through my body. I screamed at the top of my lungs hoping to relieve just a tiny fraction of the pain, but it didn’t help at all. I fell to my hands and knees when it stopped after what felt like an eternity, out of breath and shaking in the residual shocks. He hadn’t even touched me.
“So do I have your vote?” James asked lightly to the room which was now frozen in horror.
I sat back on my feet and wiped the tears of pain away embarrassed and avoided my father’s eyes. I couldn’t look at such a selfish man. This had nothing to do with protecting people and everything to do with his career.
“Come with me Emma.” James demanded coming around me to face me and offered me his hand helpfully, as if he hadn’t just put me through hell.
“You’re kidding right? I am not going anywhere with you.” I sneered at him not unaware of everyone watching the exchange silently. His dark eyes glowed with a strange honest emotion that didn’t mesh with his cockiness throughout the night. I had hurt his feelings. I was too tired to even begin to understand how on earth I had hurt my attacker’s feelings by refusing to go with him. This was all just insanity.
“You’d rather stay with your father who’d willingly let you die?’ James asked.
“You are hardly a saint yourself.’ I exclaimed angrily smacking his offered hand away. He was delusional if he thought I was going to go with him willingly. His eyes darkened even further and he retracted his smacked hand with a cold sneer.
“Take her.” He ordered not taking his eyes off of me. I hadn’t noticed the guards so I let out a yelp when the large men grabbed me roughly and preceded to drag me out.
“NO!” I kicked and tried in vain to fight them, but they outweighed me to such a degree that I was like a fly to them.
“Just wait until the press hears of this!” I yelled at James who stalked around us arrogantly ignoring my protests.
“Can we sedate her?’ One of the men complained in a deep voice when I managed to get a good kick in his knee.
“Sure.” James assented waving his hand lavishly in a way that suggested that he didn’t care in the least. I opened my mouth to yell obscenities at my kidnapper but I felt a shock of electricity that drained my energy in one breath making my head fall limply to my chest and I was out.