Chapter 5 ~ Punishment ~

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Why had he said, 'Run back to him like Rachel'? Who was Rachael? She had to be his lover, I decided after awhile of pondering. Had Mr. Crowley taken her from him? Where was she now? Strangely, my heart went out to Master Carthwrite. I pitied the girl, getting in a mess with two men. They were, after all, no good liars.

“Scums.” I murmured angrily. Hot tears fell, my arms restricted me from wiping them away.

“Let me go in first. She might be frightened of you.” I heard Gretta on the other side of the door.

“I saved her life! Why would she be afraid of me?” Mr. Crowley's heated tone made my skin crawl.

“If you haven't noticed, she cringes in the presence of any man. Even Lyle, and Lyle wouldn't hurt a fly. Also, Master Carthwrite gave her quite the beating.”

“Fine, fine. I'm just worried about her. She seems like a sweet girl. Maybe when she's up and feeling better, she could meet my branded girl.” My breath caught. Mr. Crowley branded a girl?

“Sure, but let's get her to feeling better first.” The door quietly swung open, only the creak of the door could be heard. Gretta came in, a smile gracing her face. Mr. Crowley stood behind her silently, taking in my appearance. I glared hatefully at him.

He seemed so nice, but I knew all men were liars; Mr. Crowley included. He seemed slightly shocked at my brave hateful gaze.

“How are you feeling dear?”

“I want to meet her.” My eyes never left his. With a slight nod, he left the room.

“You have quite the gaze child.” Gretta said with a smile. “I have never seen anyone so much as look at Mr. Crowley or Master Carthwrite with such hateful eyes.” She looked at me with admiration and chuckled. “Anyway, how you feeling? Arms sore?” A soft smile of pity met my eyes as I nodded. “They'll be sore for awhile. You're on bed rest till you are completely healed.”

Bed rest? Did that mean that I wouldn't have to see Master Carthwrite?

“Yes, you won't have to worry about him for a week at the least.” She told me, reading the look on my face. “I'll bring you dinner in an hour. Is there anything you would like?” I knew she was talking about food, but I couldn't resist asking.

“Music? Could I have music?” Gretta seemed a bit shocked with my request but nodded thoughtfully.

“Of course. I think we have an old radio lying around in Rachel's old closet. I'll have Lyle bring it up.” She left, murmuring to herself about what to cook.

“Rachel?” I asked myself quietly. I felt like ripping my hair out. I needed to find out who Rachel was.

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A week passed and I still hadn't met Mr. Crowley's branded girl or figured anything else about this 'Rachel' girl. I debated asking Gretta about it, but I knew better than to pry and ask her.

“Ready child?” I nodded and she helped me sit up. I felt better, but my body was still sore from staying in bed for so long. My joints cracked loudly and I almost let out a sigh of relief. “This might sting a little.” I nodded and let her undo the stitches. I could feel the light pull against my skin. It started to burn but I never let out a sound.

“There, that's one arm. You want to stop for a little bit or do you want me to do the other one now.” Moving my other arm towards her, I nodded for her to continue. Might as well get it all done at once. My arms felt inflamed but I ignored it and concentrated on Gretta's determined face. “Done.” A proud smile lit up her face as she lightly wiped away the dried blood.

“Thank you.” I mumbled through a sigh. That dried blood had been tormenting me all week.

“You're welcome. Now, would you like to go for a small walk to the kitchen for some lunch? I bet you've been itchin' to get out of this room. Oh, and you can meet Mr. Crowley's branded girl. He named her Meena.” Nodding, she helped me stand up. I was hungry, but now I was more interested in meeting Mr. Crowley's branded girl. I was going to make sure there wasn't a bruise on her. Mr. Crowley did seem caring, but I wouldn't believe him unless I had proof. And proof happened to be Meena.

Gretta helped me stumble to the kitchen. Seems as if I was a toddler just learning to walk again.

We entered the kitchen and I froze.

The little girl I had given half of my slice of bread to everyday stared straight at me, dropping the piece of toast that she had brought up to her mouth. Tears filled her eyes as she hopped off the chair and ran to me, her arms wide open. Her body slammed into my legs with great force. Gretta caught me before I fell.

Her face rubbed into the bottom of my shirt as she gripped my waist tightly.

I lightly patted her golden hair as she looked up at me with brilliant green eyes.

“I thought I wasn't gonna see ya again.”

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