Chapter 27 - The Bargain

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Georgie had a nightmare that night but because she was with Robert, he woke up as soon as he felt her moving and whimpering. He pulled her into his arms and she woke up right away. She was frightened, but it didn't take long before she relaxed and fell back asleep, nestled against him.

When he woke up later that morning, she was gone. He was immediately overwhelmed with anxiety, dreading his meeting with the bastard. He took off his bracelet and put it under his mattress for safe keeping, then went to the kitchen to see Georgie and get his breakfast. She was at the table with her coffee and book, dressed as usual with her hair back in the braid.

When she saw him, she lit up and said, "Good Morning!" in a singsong voice, obviously still happy from their Christmas celebration.

He squeezed her shoulder and kissed the top of her head when he passed her, but didn't say anything. It was not a good morning, he thought grimly. His stomach didn't feel too good, making him think twice about cereal and he opted for tea instead.

She told him it was the day to clean the sitting room and he tried to act like he usually did, not happy but not saying anything negative about the day's chore. It was a big job and he felt awful she was going to be left to deal with it alone while she worried about him. Maybe the bastard wouldn't take that long and he'd be able to help her with some of it, he thought, trying to convince himself what was coming wouldn't be terrible.

When he finished his tea, he went to work out. He'd intended to push himself, working out extra hard so he could work off the nerves that were making him jumpy but he didn't have the energy and cut it short. He'd just finished shaving, when he heard the phone ringing. He reached the sitting room after Georgie had already answered since she'd been cleaning in there.

She held the receiver out to him, saying, "Sir wants to speak to you," and then burst into tears.

He immediately went to her and pulled her into a tight, one armed hug, holding the receiver with the other hand while she cried quietly into his chest. It occurred to him she might be afraid this was the call informing him he was leaving.

"Yes?" he said.

There was the usual hearty, "Robert! I'll take a meeting with you at eleven-thirty. Be ready by the door," then the line went dead.

He dropped the receiver and held her tightly, saying gently, "It's nothing, Georgie. I'll be alright. He just wants to talk to me about something, yeah? I'm not leaving yet."

She nodded against him and then let go, taking deep breaths trying to stop crying but she wouldn't look at him. He hated to see her like this.

He brushed her tears away with his thumbs and kissed her, saying gently, "Don't worry, Georgie. It'll be alright." trying to console himself as much as her.

"I'm okay, Robert," she said in her unnatural voice, still not looking him in the eyes.

She turned away from him to go back to cleaning and he let her, going back to his room. What else could he say to her that wouldn't be lies? He remembered when they went through this a week ago, how determined he was not to think about why she was afraid for him. He almost wished he were able to be that casual about it now. Today he was as sick with worry as she was.

After he was finished getting dressed, he had time before he had to leave and decided to use the nervous energy to clean the sitting room with Georgie instead of pacing alone in his room. As he dusted furniture, he could feel himself getting more and more anxious. He had to concentrate on keeping his breathing steady so he didn't start hyperventilating and his stomach was feeling worse by the minute.

Ten minutes before the meeting, he had to go to his bathroom to throw up. When he started brushing his teeth, he saw Georgie in the mirror over the sink, framed in the bathroom doorway. She looked alarmed, her eyes wide, her hand covering her mouth. He didn't bother trying to reassure her. It was obvious he was anticipating something terrible was going to happen.

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