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Chapter 26

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Baking cookies. James was back and could take Rose any minute, Wickendale was doing illegal brain tests on patients, and we desperately needed an escape plan; but here we were baking fucking cookies. I was getting so sick of this kind of thing, going to therapy, having these group sessions, and my least favorite, baking. It was as if they were trying to instill normalcy into the strangest lives and find a cure for minds most incurable with everyday activities. But I was almost certain that it wouldn't help.

Plus, half of us were handcuffed so whatever we made didn't turn out very well, and the patients weren't even aloud near the ovens. It wasn't always baking, though, thank God. Sometimes it was arts and crafts or painting or something equally as stupid. I, along with a few others, didn't partake in these activities much. I mostly just found a place to sit and smoke while I waited for it to end.

And that's what I did this time, too. I grabbed a plastic chair from a small table in the corner of the "kitchen" and took a seat, cigarette already lit and in my hand. I inhaled the nicotine into my lungs and blew it out, puffing smoke rings into the air. An attendant, a woman with dark hair around 40 years old, watched over the patients and assisted them while a few guards waited outside, ready to barge in if needed. It was just her and the patients and I. I caught glimpses of conversations every once in a while, able to pick out bits and pieces of what they were saying. I never partook in this chatter myself seeing that these people were all crazy, but it was interesting just to listen. To hear how people talked and to perceive what they were saying. It was as if what they said could give you some small insight into their lives. Like a woman who's name I believed was Jane with wild gray eyes and straw-colored hair. She was much older than me, probably in her late 30s.

When she spoke her voice was quiet. Might an employee or patient say one word too loud or make a movement too sharp and she would jerk away from them. Either that or she would stare at them with wary, vigilant eyes. Just by the way she nervously spoke and hardly spoke of anything at all could tell you so much. She didn't seemed dangerous but rather the opposite. She seemed scared. She had probably been hurt, I mean really hurt, before she came here. Her constant tensity and jumpiness But she also probably also hurt whoever did it in return if it landed her a spot at Wickendale. She did something villainous and insane if she was here, in this place. Or at least, that's what I had guessed from hearing her talk in that shaky, worried tone.

But what defines insanity, really? Is it your mind or the mind of the person making the judgment? Because all of us, no matter who you are, can go insane sometimes. There are times when we either know too little or too much. The unknown can be a scary place, but the known can be even more frightening.

And that's what a psychopath was, to me at least. Someone who knows to little. Their emotions have been drained and their thoughts became scrambled. They're lost, still conscious and capable of terrible things, but lost. They don't have reasons or emotions behind their crimes, only a slight trigger or a ghost of a feeling to power them. They may know right from wrong, but a lack of feeling leaves them unaware of how to act upon them. They are psychopaths because they are violent without cause and hateful without explanation.

But there is another end, though. Those who know too much. Those who are too aware of the things around them; who are aware of almost everything. They allow these things into their minds and sometimes it can eat them alive, but others it can help them. They don't feel emotion or empathy but they listen. They understand how to mimic how others feel. They lie, they manipulate, and they make it so you never guess their true intentions.

Here there are both types. Wickendale was infested with psychopaths, sociopaths, maniacs, you name it. And you could tell who belonged in which category just by listening.

Rose fell under none of them, though. And I just prayed that someone else was listening, too, and would figure it out. It could be anyone, as long as they could help get us out of here.

But all of these thoughts were yanked away when I looked up, not realizing that Rose had already entered the room. She walked towards me in that hideous blue uniform which she somehow seemed to make look not so bad. "Hey," I smiled up at her once she approached.

"Hi," she replied with a genuine smile of her own, sitting on the ground next to me. "So . . . you're not gonna bake?"

"Nope," I said. "I usually just sit here and wait for it to end."

She looked at me quizzically. "Doesn't that get boring? Don't you want to do something other than sit there?"

"No," I answered. "Well, yes, but it's better than baking. Why would I go make cookies with lunatics that probably spit in the food. I mean there's not even any chocolate chips."

Instead of answering she stood from the ground and brushed herself off. "Why not?" she asked, offering me a hand. I took the cigarette from my lips and held it between two fingers as I looked up at her. I was unable to hide my grin, and I knew that I would give in eventually.

"Come on," she pleaded. "You're always complaining about how all they let you do is sit there in your cell, and now you can actually do something yet you choose to just sit here some more? It makes no sense. Plus, we still need to talk to the other patients."

I sighed, pretending to be annoyed as I took her hand and stood up. She was right; yesterday's "friend-making" didn't go so well. Most of the patients we talked to either ignored us or yelled at us or started saying things that we couldn't understand. We may have had one slight breakthrough, though, with that Damien guy. At first he didn't talk much, but as we were about to move on to the next table he had muttered, "Something's not right here. Something's not right here and we need to fix it." I wasn't been sure if he had been talking about something of his own mind or about Wickendale, but at least he had been talking in words that we actually understood.

But apparently that hadn't been enough for Rose. "You start over there, I'll go talk to people over here," she said. And then she was off, walking to the far end of a table in the middle of the room. I reluctantly moved to the opposite side and looked throughout my choices. There were well over a dozen other patients in the room, none looking all too pleasant. But I did notice Jane sitting in one of the few chairs at the table, making an unidentifiable shape out of dough.

I walked over and stood next to her, careful not to startle the girl. There were no rolling pins so I grabbed a lump of dough myself and started pressing it down with my hands. "Hi."

The woman looked up slowly, her eyes big when they looked to me.

"Your Jane, right?" I asked casually while pretending to be preoccupied with the dough, not wanting to make her nervous.

Her voice came out as a soft whisper. "Yes."

"I'm Harry."

She looked at me and then quickly back down at the table, saying nothing. Shit, now what? Rose was much better than this than I was. I mean I could easily talk to people, but not people like this. With them you had to do all the talking, and I was at a loss for words. Some were bright, don't get me wrong, but it didn't seem as if the more intelligent of psychopaths were here at the moment. All of the patients in this room looked haggard and lethargic as if they hadn't slept in weeks. Maybe they haven't.

I looked over to Rose for help and found her speaking with another patient, and they actually seemed to be having a conversation. I knew I was supposed to be doing the same but then I started thinking how much I liked Rose's hair down. She looked so much more natural with it falling in those long waves, the dark color around her face brining out her pink lips. And I noticed that the first couple buttons of her uniform undone, too. Not a lot, but just enough to reveal the very top of her chest. I watched as she leaned over to grab a plastic cookie cutter from the table and the fabric hung just a little more and - fuck, was she doing that on purpose?

"How do you know my name?" a soft voice said from beside me.

I reluctantly tore my eyes away from Rose, having forgotten that I was in the middle of a conversation.

"I've heard it around somewhere I think."

"Who?" she asked, her tone worried. "Who told you?"

"Nobody specific, I just remember hearing it from somewhere. It was probably just an employee, don't worry."

Her body tensed up as she looked somewhere far off at something I couldn't see. I could barely hear her when she spoke, her voice hardly even a whisper. "It was him, wasn't it."

I stopped dead in my tracks and turned my head, looking at her full on this time. "Who?" I asked.

"I . . . I can't say. I don't want to took about it." She shook her head and stared back at the table, taking a step away from me. It would be obvious that she wouldn't be answering any more questions. I sighed and looked back up across the table, finding Rose with a spoon full of cookie dough in her hand, eating and licking it off between words to her new buddy. God, she had to be doing this on purpose. She looked up for a moment and caught me staring at her. I couldn't tell what expression I wore but my guess that it revealed what I was thinking, because Rose tried to hide a knowing smile as she looked away. But she continued to lick that fucking spoon and it was driving me insane.

I tried not to watch her and made a couple more shapes out of the dough, muttering a "hi," to a patient every once in a while, usually with no reply. but I soon grew bored of that and decided I'd had enough of Rose's teasing, so I made my way over to her when the "baking hour" was almost up. She seemed to be unoccupied, cutting out one last star-shaped cookie. The lady she was talking to must have left.

"So, you're quiet feisty today, aren't you?" I asked.

"Feisty?" she asked, seeming amused by the word, still looking down at her cookie.

"Yeah, I see what you're doing over here," I said, unable to help the smirk on my face.

She turned to face me, staring with mock innocence in her big eyes. She brought her finger to her mouth and seductively sucked off the left over dough, not breaking her gaze. "What do you mean, Harry?"

Oh my God. Forgetting where we were for a moment, I placed my hand on her lower back to pull her to me, but she spun away before I could get very far. "Be right back."

I bit my lip and groaned in frustration as she walked away. She looked back at me and I shook my head at her, and she giggled before handing a tray of cookies to the attendant to put in the oven. She was very . . . confident today. Or maybe she was just becoming more comfortable with me. Either way, I loved it. I loved everything she did. She was so sexy, so strong considering what she's been through, but yet she was cute and sensitive all at once.

I watched as she helped other patients give their cookies to the employee until everyone had gotten rid of their tray, the woman thanking her. Rose walked back over to me but before I could say anything, the woman spoke. "Alright everyone, baking is over. You'll get your cookies tomorrow. Go out the door to your guards immediately."

Her voice rang throughout the room and everyone started making their way towards the door. But I met Rose's eyes and held my hand out as if the say wait, and she seemed to get the message as she stopped where she stood. I wasn't done with her just yet.


The crowd dispersed as dozens of bodies moved towards the door. Everyone filtered out of the room one by one, but Harry's gesturing hand remained as did the devilish smirk of his luscious lips. I watched the last woman in a stained blue uniform walk out and shut the door behind her; we were alone. Even the attendant seemed to have left the room, maybe through the small door in the back.

Harry walked closer to me so the he was just a few feet away while still eying the door, and I couldn't help but laugh at his odd behavior. "Harry, what are you-" I started to ask, but my sentence turned into a gasp as I felt his strong chest press against me, pinning me to the cold wall. "Mmm," he hummed from deep in his throat, and I could feel the gravel of his voice vibrate in his chest as his big hands rested on my waist.

This certainly wasn't what I expected; not that I was complaining. The tip of his nose ghosted along my jaw, his hot breath leaving a trail of goosebumps behind. He smelled like cookie dough and cigarettes. His lips traveled to my ear, and I could feel their movement when he spoke.

"I can't wait until we get out of here so that I can fuck you," he almost growled.

My eyes grew wide and I gasped at his lustful words; nobody had spoken to me that way before. Well, nobody but Harry. I felt a swarm of heat rush to my cheeks, and I knew that they were probably stained with red by the way Harry's full lips spread into an irresistible smirk. But the smile didn't remain for long as his lips moved to my neck where he began to sponge heavy kisses.

"You're so sexy, Rose. Such a fucking tease," he whispered, his hot breath raising more goosebumps on my skin. With each word spoken my knees grew weaker, and I was at his complete mercy. The effect he had on my was something indescribable as he had me melting into him. My hand threaded itself through Harry's thick curls while his lips continued hungrily down my neck. But after a few exhilarating seconds he touched his lips to my own instead, not wanting to waist any time.

They were impossibly full and smooth as they wrapped themselves around mine. He kissed me hard while his tongue dipped into my mouth, moving with ease. The intense desire and erotic passion left the both of us breathless and gasping in between each movement of our lips; the feeling was almost overwhelming. Harry somehow managed to move his body even closer, and his strong build pressed tightly against me so that I couldn't move a muscle; not that I wanted to.

He lightly tugged at my bottom lip with his teeth and I instinctively grabbed a tight hold of his hair, which he seemed to like due to the feel of his mouth turning up into a smile. His lips touched my neck again, sloppily kissing and sucking down the skin and it felt unbelievable. It took everything in me to be silent, not wanting anyone to hear us and waltz in. But I didn't have to keep quiet for much longer, because he pulled away. And I knew that he had to, since our guards were probably wondering where we were, but I wanted more.

"Come on, Rose," he breathed, still inches away. "I mean I know you want me but you can't be all over me right now, the guards are waiting for us."

I shook my head at him and laughed. "I'm sorry, I couldn't resist."

Harry chuckled and backed up, releasing me from my position against the wall. He walked over to the door, his hand wrapping around the handle; but he waited to hold it open for me. His emerald eyes raked down my body as I brushed passed him and I couldn't stop the smile from spreading across my cheeks, one of his own twinkling back at me.

Before pulling the door open, though, he dropped a hand to my bum where he tightly squeezed. I shrieked in surprise and Harry chuckled from beside me.

"Harry," I scolded, but couldn't say much more as the door finally swung open, revealing Brian and my guard, who's name I had finally learned to be Kevin, standing against the far wall of the hallway. Once we had exited each of them grabbed our arms, shoving us down the hall in opposite directions. I took one last glance back at Harry only to realize that he was already looking at me. He flashed a wink but the dimply grin on his face only made it adorable rather than seductive and I couldn't help but giggle at him.

Once he turned the corner I was still smiling, left wondering if this wouldn't be so bad after all. Maybe, just maybe, if we could survive Ms. Hellman and her awful son, we could create our own glimpse of heaven in the midst of this hell. Until we got out of here I could bare it with Harry by my side.

Only he could make me feel happy, even for just a moment, in a mental institution. Each time I saw him my heart beat a little faster, and my smile grew a little wider. I knew I was falling for him, and I just prayed that he felt the same way. I was too lost in the thought of his full lips and big hands on my hips to realize that we had approached the bathrooms.

"Ten minutes to shower and then lunch," Kevin grumbled. I quickly walked into the room, extremely grateful to find that it was empty. I hopped in one of the stalls and washed quickly. There was no shampoo or conditioner, only a bar of soap and towel. I scrubbed off all of the dust, dirt and grime from this place to preoccupy myself, but impure thoughts of Harry in here with me kept floating their way back into my mind. I could imagine drops of water rolling of his bare chest, his arms, the slight curve of his abs, the dip of his v-line. I could see tiny droplets on his lips as they pressed against mine, my fingers gliding across the wet skin of his muscular back.

I shook my head to rid my mind of the thoughts, I had all but a few minutes left to dry off and get dressed. I stepped out of the shower quickly and used the towel to get some of the wetness out of my hair, looking at the bench in front of me.

If there was anything slightly decent that the Wickendale staff did, it was supplying us with a clean uniform on every shower bench. You were supposed to leave your old one hanging over the curtain signifying that it needed to be washed, but who knows; a patient could easily forget and put a dirty uniform in the fresh one's place, so there was no way to really know for sure that it was clean.

But this one smelled slightly of detergent, so I was pretty confident that it was okay to put on. And I was happy to find that it fit better than the last one which had been much too big, the employees not caring much whether a women got a men's uniform or whether they fit right.

I stepped out with my hair still half-wet, ready for Kevin to drag me to lunch. On the walk to the cafeteria I realized yet another one of Wickendale's endless flaws. Everything was so far apart, bathrooms in one area, cafeteria on the opposite side, the nurse's office in a completely different direction. Almost as if they didn't want too many people in one area, as if they were trying to separate people from each other.

Thinking of this, another one of Wickendale's biggest problems could be seen at the end of the hallway; Ms. Hellman. She looked straight forward as she walked, her eyes never meeting me. It was as if I were invisible, and I hoped it was because she felt guilty for throwing me in here. She didn't want to look at what she'd done.

I was looking at her, though. And for some reason, although James' actions had been more horrifying, I hated Ms. Hellman just as much as I hated him. They were both awful, but something about Ms. Hellman triggered an anger that I had never felt before. And it was fueled even more so when she passed me, because that's when I saw the scratch on her face. It went from her cheekbone to her upper lip, and it was deep. She may have done it to herself or someone else might have done it. But she was blaming it on me, saying that I had "attacked her." And although I hadn't, I wished I would have.

But Kevin shoved me along before I had the chance, taking me just one corridor further until we reached the cafeteria. I entered and saw Harry waiting in his usual chair. I walked there quickly, taking a seat right beside him. "Hey," he greeted, sneaking a small peck to my cheek.

"Hi," I smiled. "So, what will it be today? Cards or Clue?"

"Hmm," Harry thought. "Neither." And with that he stood up, walking over to the table of games against the side wall. I watched as he looked through them, finally deciding on a board game that I couldn't identify from this distance. But as he brought it closer I made out the printed letters; chess.

He sat down and set the box on the table, game pieces rattling as he did so.

"Harry, I'm gonna be honest with you; I have no idea how to play this game."

"Don't worry, I'll teach you," he said.

And so after moving my chair across the table in order to properly play, we spent a good hour on the game. It took me a while to understand the pieces and the strategy, so we had played about three times for me to get the hang of it. And after that we played one last match for real. I won.

"How the hell are you so good at board games?" Harry demanded once we had finished.

"I dunno," I replied, dragging my chair back over to his. "It's one of my many talents."

I sat down next to him and rested my head on his shoulder, and it was nice to be able to do that without the guards stating at us. Now that we were both patients they didn't seem to care.

"What are your other talents?" Harry asked.

"I was kidding."

"I know," he chuckled. "But still."

"Hmm," I said, trying to think. "I like to draw, so I guess that's one. And I played piano when I was younger if that counts."

"Drawing and piano," he concluded, nodding in approval.

"What about you?"

"I don't have any talents," he said simply.

"Oh come on Harry, you have to have something."

He just shook his head.

"Okay, fine. Any hobbies then?"

He sat there in thought for a moment before he answered. "I liked to write," he told me. "When I was younger I had this sort of journal I would write in everyday, jus to get my thoughts out on paper."

Writing. Somehow it was a perfect fit for him. He tried to hide it but he was so sweet and poetic, so intelligent. I could imagine him sitting there hunched over a journal, writing down carefully worded thoughts and events. And suddenly I wanted to read this journal more than anything.

"Do you still have it?" I wondered.

"The journal? No, I tore it up. I had so many letters and entries about Emily in there, when I found out she was gone I ripped it to shreds."

My heart ached for him every time he talked about her. And what sucked the most was that her killer was right in this very room with us. But I didn't dare being that up to Harry, or else he would get angry all over again.

"You should start a new journal," I suggested, but as soon as I said it Harry shook his head. "Why not?"

His voice grew just a littler quieter when he spoke. "Because I'd be afraid to read my own thoughts."

At first I thought that this was strange, but then I realized what it would be like to read something I had written in my darkest moments. "I would be, too." I answered.

After that we didn't speak much, but with Harry I didn't always need words. I just sat their with my head on his shoulder, and his head resting on mine. We were like that for a while, and I felt a sort of calm that I hadn't felt in a very long time sitting there with him.

But of course all good things come to an end at some point or another. And I had a bad feeling that our good thing was ending right now, by the way James was looking at us from across the room. Harry hadn't seemed to notice yet, but I did. At first I thought nothing of it, but soon he began to walk toward us and my heart began to pound in my chest.

"Harry," I said, sitting up.

"What? What happened?"

All he had to do was follow my gaze and he too felt the urgency that I did, although I'm sure he felt more anger than worry.

James stalked over to our table and soon he was so close, mere feet away on the side of me opposite Harry. I felt like I would throw up.

"Hey," he greeted, seeming to be talking to me. I didn't reply. "I'm doing a favor for Kevin and taking you back to your cell, lunch is dismissed."

Harry was on his feet in seconds, hands resting on the table as the muscles in his arms grew taut. "Fuck no you're not," he said lowly, glaring at James with a stare as cold as ice.

James lightly laughed and put his hands up in defense. "Woah, relax Harry. I'm just walking her to her room, it'll be fine."

So I see his "Mr. Nice Guy" persona was back. With his bullshit act I wished we were somewhere else so that I could cheer Harry on as he bashed James' face in. But he couldn't do it here. We would get him back eventually, but not here and not now.

"Cut the shit James, there's no way I'm letting you take her anywhere."

James just held Harry's gaze, the hint of an arrogant smile lingering upon his lips. "Come on, Rose." With his words he reached for my arm, but I jerked away the same time Harry lightly shoved James. Or at least, lighter than I was expecting.

"Don't fucking touch her," Harry said, doing his best to keep his tone low.

"Hey," a fourth voice acknowledged. I looked behind me to the source of the noise and saw Harry's guard, Brian, approach us. "Is everything okay over here?" I wanted to scream no but it was obvious that he was speaking to James and that any words I said would be dismissed.

"Yeah," James replied. "Harry's just a little irritable today." Harry scoffed and rolled his eyes. "I was just trying to take Rose back to her cell and he got angry I guess."

"Harry," Brian sighed. "Just let him take her so we don't have to get someone to sedate you."

"Fine, but I'm coming," he said immediately. Brian looked to James and then Harry and then me, as if he had a hunch that something more was going on.

"It's okay," James assured with a fake smile. "I can take them both back."

Brian, probably assuming that he could handle it being the warden's son, reluctantly nodded and stepped back to the wall. And my heart sank into my stomach. The earlier hopes of Harry and I having just a sliver of bliss had evaporated into thin air with the realization that there was no way this would turn out well.

I wasn't sure if Harry coming along more so comforted or scared me. He would certainly prevent me from getting into any danger, but it was the danger surrounding him that I was worried about. If it came down to it I knew Harry would win in a fight between the two, but he couldn't dictate the consequences.

Yet we left trailing behind James, out the doors of the cafeteria and into the dark halls of Wickendale; alone. Harry must've felt the same anonymous fear lingering in the empty air as I did. because he gladly accepted when I reached for his hand in fear.

James led us through hallways as we trailed behind, and I just prayed that he would take us to our cells and nothing more; although I doubted it. Once we had walked through the third hall the lights grew dimmer, and Harry and I both looked at one another, puzzled.

"Uh, neither of our cells are back here," Harry told him, and I was proud of him for controlling his anger. Or at least, so far.

I had been clinging on to any small piece of hope that I could grasp, hope that James wouldn't risk doing us any harm. But that hope disintegrated when he stopped dead in his tracks, forcing us to stop behind him. He slowly turned, and when his face was finally visible under the dim lights, I saw that evil smirk on his face.

"I know," he said. And with that smug smile I knew that whatever was about to happen would not be anything good.

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