Chapter Forty

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Twenty-five minutes earlier

Hannah picked up a piece of toast and took a small bite. It was cold, soggy and she struggled to swallow it. A small sip of orange juice helped wash it down. She placed the rest of the slice back on the plate and put the plate on the tray; a pile of cooling pastries and a jug of coffee sat untouched. The tray annoyed her. It was a heavy, ornately decorated silver tray, which wouldn't have been out of place in a luxury hotel, but here, against the sparseness of the room and the sparseness in her heart, it looked vulgar. She pushed the tray across the table away, revealing an array of freshly printed magazines beneath. Her image looked back at her. The headline on the glossy rag was hard to ignore- 'Flawless'. Written beneath that in a smaller, Italic font was the subheading, 'Hannah's journey from Flawed to Perfection'. The urge to throw is away struck and she rolled the magazines into a cylinder and launched them at the waste paper basket by the door; she missed.

Hannah had been back in room two- hundred and fifty for just under an hour. Overnight, she'd been moved to another room with a bed and a small en-suite bathroom. The room had been stocked with pretty much everything she needed. Somebody had taken the time to find clothing that fitted her perfectly and a large selection of make-up and toiletries had been provided and yet it all remained untouched. The only thing she had taken advantage of was a hot shower and clean underwear. She remained in the now, slightly grubby clothes she'd arrived in. Briggs was apparently visiting her later on, to see if she had 'calmed down'. Hannah had spent most of the night awake, chastising herself for her outburst. For all this time she had said nothing, bitten her tongue and yet, yesterday she couldn't help herself. They could do what they liked to her, but not her parents, her real parents, the good, kind people who always seemed to lose.

The magazines lay sprawled over the floor by the door. She walked over and picked them up, stuffing them deep into the bin. If only the rest of my life could be tidied up so easily.

Hannah approached the door and tried the handle again. There was no key hole so Hannah surmised it had a manual lock on the outside. She wished she had taken greater notice of it when she came in. Walking over to the window, she tried to orientate herself. The window was small and high up, and on tip-toes she could just make out some roof tops below. The sight was drab at best. The sky was a turbulent grey, dark, bulging clouds looming heavily over the city. Even the sky, felt oppressive here. The sound of the door opening made Hannah jump.

"Miss Page, is there anything I can get you before my shift ends?"

A uniformed guard named Jack stood at the door smiling at her. It was an odd situation to be in, on the one hand she was being held a prisoner and yet everyone who she came into contact with, treated her like she was a paying guest or a VIP.

"No, thank you?" Hannah said and looked back towards the window.

"General Briggs visit will be a little delayed. Agent Scott will be up within the hour though. If that'll be all, I'll say goodbye."

Hannah heard Jack collect the tray of uneaten food, then walking over and opening the door. Feeling the weight of his lingering presence still in the room she turned back to him.

"Miss, if you don't mind me saying, you seem like a nice girl an' all, and I don't really know why you're here, but I do know that it's never a good idea to disagree with General Briggs."

Hannah laughed, she laughed so hard it made her stomach ache and she had to sit back down.

The guard flinched at her reaction and hurriedly backed out of the door. "Err...like I told you, Agent Scott will be here in a minute," he said and fled the room.

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