III : But You Cannot Trust a Liar

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(Warning: Torture and violence prominent in this chapter.)

Holland Valley
John Seed's Bunker
1 1/2 years ago

Diana shivered in the corner of the empty cell. She was huddled with her knees hugged to her chest. The cell reeked of old rot, piss-stains on the floor, reacting with the foul rainwater that leaked inside from the cracked walls. Gently, she rocked to keep herself warm from the winter air that filled the room, chilling her under the soaked garments Joseph made her wear in the river for the baptism that occurred just this afternoon.

She could still see John's face as she yearned for the surface, practically begging him for air. With saddened eyes, John declared she wasn't yet clean and dipped her in a second time. As she scratched and squeezed at his arms, an unspoken safe word, a plea to emerge from the waters, John ignored her and kept her down as long as Joseph wanted. Maybe it was her test, to see how much faith she was willing to put in Joseph and the church. She spurned them both for risking her life. It was a fear of hers too, drowning, so putting that much trust in the brother who had betrayed her by carving the words into her skin left a bitter taste in her mouth.

When she was about to question whether or not the brothers had forgotten her in the cells below John's bunker, she realized she wasn't alone. Boots dragged in a moment ago, yet even the squeal of the metal chair wasn't enough to pull her out of her trance.

"You alright?" It was the soldier, Jacob.

She didn't answer. Jacob hadn't yet done anything bad to her, but she found him guilty by association. He was a Seed, and therefore on her shit list for now.

"He says you have potential. He says you are special. But part of me senses that you're ready to die here." He leaned forward, propping his elbows on his thighs as he looked at her. "Do you know where you are?" Jacob paused, tilting his head slightly. "Do you know who I am?"

Her brows knitted into a harsh line as she glared. Of course she remembered him. She remembered their time together, after they saved an outpost in the northern valley from a fire, all because Aaron Nelson didn't do his job to secure the Bliss barrels near the gates. Jacob commended her for her bravery, Joseph too, but John knew there was something odd about her spending that same evening at Jacob's home...

Jacob was a gentleman that night, letting her get cleaned up and getting her burns tended to by his best doctor. He had his lieutenant, Warren at the time, fix up the guest bedroom for her to stay. It was the bedroom adjacent to Jacob's—and when Jacob screamed awake it alarmed her. Call it bravery or foolishness, but she wandered into his bedroom, chancing further punishment as she climbed into bed to help him back to sleep. At first, he didn't want to be touched, pushing her away, telling her she shouldn't have been there, but she insisted. Jacob only accepted her after a verbal bout which nearly led to a physical altercation that even he couldn't win. He'd been compromised; a weakness seen by this woman and he was already in a storm of emotional disorder. Even with that reluctance, they held each other close that night. Diana only wearing a borrowed nightgown he said Faith left at his home, and Jacob was dressed down to his white undershirt and boxers. The inevitable pull, their desire, was evident. He wanted her, and she him, and such desire was met with bitter consequence: Lust was a sin, and John was instructed to make her confess.

And so, he did. John's suspicions proved real when she confessed to spending the night with Jacob. Though they didn't have sex, the temptation was enough for punishment.

The massive man stood from his chair and shoved it aside, stepping closer when the woman didn't respond. His gaze was fixed on her shivering frame in the white gown, wondering how she was holding up after John's sick little experiment. There was a shuffle of fabric, and a few seconds later, Diana was wrapped within his camouflage jacket.

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