Chapter 7 - Georgie

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The next morning, Robert could hear the washing machine running when he went to eat breakfast alone. By time he was ready for his run, the girl was sewing on one of her ugly clothes at the desk. As he passed her, she asked him if he had laundry that needed to be washed and without stopping, he muttered, "I'll do it myself."

He hadn't been running for very long when he noticed her standing in the doorway to the ballroom. She wasn't looking at him, but somehow he knew something was wrong. He hopped on the sides of the treadmill and pushed his hair out of his eyes so he could get a better look. She suddenly looked at him, her eyes wide with fear – they were in danger. She put her palm up and motioned for him to stay where he was, then quickly looked away.

"What the hell is going on here?" he heard a man yell with a slight accent.  It was the bastard.

Before Robert could turn off the treadmill, he heard him yell, "Do you think you're on a fucking vacation?" His hand grabbed her arm and wrenched her out of the doorway, as she said, "No, sir." Robert could hear the fear in her voice. He jumped off the treadmill and ran to the sitting room, getting there in time to see her bedroom door slam shut.

He heard Moreau yelling at her through the door, "Did you think I wouldn't find out? Do you think you can break the rules and nothing happens?"

He could hear her saying, "No, sir," and the pleading in her voice when she said it. Robert felt a sinking feeling as he realized this was his fault. He'd told her not to clean his bedroom and now the bastard was angry at her.

There was a terrible, loud smacking sound and the girl cried out sharply. It happened again and she cried out even louder. Robert realized with horror, the bastard was beating her, maybe with his belt. It was unbelievable. What Robert was hearing was so terrible, for a moment he couldn't move. Moreau kept hitting her with a sickening, steady rhythm and her cries were getting more desperate. Robert went to her door and tried to turn the door knob, but it was locked. The bastard yelled at her in French as he beat her, and her cries were nearly continuous, mingled with sobs.

Robert quickly went to the ballroom to check the other door to her bedroom. It was locked as well. She was screaming now. He'd heard those screams before, they were the screams with choking sobs at the end. He tried to break the door in, hitting it hard with his shoulder, but it was a stupid thing to do. His shoulder felt like it was the thing he'd broken, and the door didn't move. Like all the other doors in the flat, it was solid wood. He kicked into it a few times but it did nothing except make his foot hurt.

He'd done this to her. She was being beaten, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. The terrible sound of the belt hitting her skin, the bastard yelling in French, and her screams echoed in the large tiled room, as he stood there powerless. He'd never experienced anything like it in his life.

He went to his bedroom, trying to escape the sounds but the flat was so fucking small, he heard all of it. He pressed his back to the farthest wall and put his hands over his ears. It shut out almost all of it, but he could still hear her screams. He slid down the wall, sitting on the floor with his knees to his chest, his hands over his ears. He suddenly felt trapped – trapped in this horrible place where girls were savagely beaten behind locked doors while he was forced to listen helplessly. Panic began to take over as his body began shaking uncontrollably. His heart started pounding in his chest and he struggled to get enough oxygen in his lungs. The black crushing weight bore down on him, burying him and making him forget about everything else as he fought to survive.

When the panic attack left him, he was lying on the floor on his side. It was quiet in the flat now. He tried to get up but his muscles didn't want to cooperate. His shoulder throbbed but he'd been lucky, it was probably just bruised. He heard her bedroom door open and the bastard leave the flat. She was alone. He had to go to her, he had to try to help her. He forced himself to crawl to a standing position and walked shakily to her bedroom, dreading what he was going to find.

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