DG woke up before they stopped serving breakfast but after the one sun had risen. Cain snored in the hospital bed. She left him a note before showering and finding food. She returned with her breakfast to find the blond man sitting up and studying the juice carton for the best way to attack.
He scowled when she giggled. "Why is the juice in a box? Fine, you have magic boxes that don't leak, but she didn't leave a glass. Or jelly."
"How much sleep did you get?" She speared the juice box with the straw and found the jelly packets. "You got grape. On the toast?"
He grunted past his mouthful of straw and juice. "They kept waking me up for check ups. You never heard a thing."
She arranged his jellied toast around his eggs before opening her plate. "That's their job, so don't growl at them." She sat on the foot of his bed to share the hospital tray.
"I didn't growl at them." He attempted to switch his juice for her coffee, but she rapped his knuckles with a plastic knife. "I get you coffee all the time," he protested.
"Not until the doctor says you can."
"Guess I came at the right time then." The doctor was pleased with Cain's recovery. DG listened to the instructions on wound care despite the nudges from Cain's foot to get him coffee. Good thing otherwise, she would have missed the doctor's pronouncement he would only keep Cain one more night.
Cain remained enthused over that news when she returned with his coffee. "Do you think you can make a travel storm tomorrow?"
"I'm still drained. We'll have to see. I don't want your stitches ripped out either." She turned the television set to the Price Is Right. "Drew Carey? Did Bob Barker finally die?"
"What is that?"
"Completing your Other Side being sick experience, stuck in bed watching the Price Is Right. Unless you'd rather a soap opera?"
Cain's nose wrinkled. "Wireless melodramas with pictures? No thanks." He wasn't pushing but that wasn't helping her stomach unknot. She moved the hospital tray out of the way and sat beside his legs on his uninjured side. "Story's this good, huh?" Cain asked.
"Two conditions. My parents can never know. I know more about politics than they think. If my reputation as the Princess of Light," she swallowed the bile, "suffers, my mother is out and Az is dead. The Zone can't know."
"I wouldn't give away your secret, DG."
She didn't move her stare from the door. "Which is the only reasons I'm telling you. Second, Elmer saved my life twice now and saved yours so you cannot kill him."
"But I'm gonna want to?"
"Promise me, Cain, or spend the rest of your life wondering."
He growled, but she didn't look at him. "Okay, I won't shoot him."
DG inhaled deeply and rubbed her palms on her thighs. "He was my first."
"I really don't need to know that."
"For someone who had to know, you sure aren't letting me tell it." Her hands fisted the yoga pants, but Cain didn't interrupt again. "It was my senior year in high school and Elmer was part of the sheriff's department. I had collected so many speeding tickets, we couldn't afford to pay them all."
She stopped, but whoever had paused outside the door kept moving down the hall. "Elmer offered to pay them off if I would submit to him."
"Submit?" Cain interrupted when she thought he would.
"To kink." She glanced at his baffled expression. How to explain when she had no idea what terms the O.Z. used? "To let him do whatever he wanted to my body, including intercourse, bondage, and spanking." Her fingers entwined.
Cain inhaled sharply. "DG--"
"Elmer did not take advantage of me! Neither one of us wanted a relationship and we agreed on a price for everything. I went on to college and got a job to pay for my classes. When I got fired, Elmer introduced me to John." She licked her lips. This was the part Cain would go ballistic over. "John ran a brothel specializing in kink--we call them dungeons--and he needed a submissive. So I went pro, professional."
Cain stirred behind her. "And he let a client do that to you! What kind of Sin District do you have in Kansas?"
"A client didn't." Her hands shook, even after she curled them into fists. "I was walking to the dungeon after my class, to work my shift, when I was thrown into a van and tied up." She hugged herself. "He had been watching the dungeon and he wanted a slave, but didn't think the sane ways of getting one applied to him."
"A slave? Slavery's not illegal here?"
"It is. There are levels of submission. A slave consents to give up all free will to serve his or her master, trusting the master to take care of them." Her remembered fear broke out in a giggle. "Zero had no clue what real sadism is, the wannabe."
"You didn't give consent."
DG swallowed hard. "He didn't even ask. But that's not the worst part. I wanted his punishments. I didn't deserve to ever feel pleasure again, but the pain--" Her legs kicked. "I deserved the pain. That never made sense until I got back to the Zone," she whispered.
Cain heard her and his hand curled around her arm. She ignored it. "I didn't let that make me stupid. I knew it wasn't a healthy long term option." The door blurred before she blinked. "I don't know how long he had me before he left me unlocked. I ran." Her body trembled. Only two other people knew what happened next. "He caught me before I took three steps out of his basement."
Her inhale became a sob. "He bolted me to a whipping post. A bullwhip to beat the lies out of me." Tears coated her cheeks as she forced the words past the logjam in her throat. "The scars, he got that far before Elmer shot him dead."
Cain tugged her until she landed against the thin hospital gown covering his chest. His arms hugged as his hands smoothed over her hair and back. "I'm sorry, my Princess."
She shook her head. "Don't blame yourself, Cain. Don't dare." The sob came out. "Drawn to darkness." She couldn't stop crying. "Don't hate me."
He squeezed her tighter. "I could never hate you, darlin'. Never." His cheek pressed down on top of her head. "Ssh, darlin', it's over."
"I know." She unclenched his gown to wipe her face. "John paid for everything. We told everyone, even my roboparents, I had been in a motorcycle accident. And--" she shuddered, "I quit. Haven't had sex since."
Cain went still. "Until I--"
"Not the same."
"Not the same?" His voice thickened with rage. "Kidnapped, forced to--"
DG looked up at his face. "I fought this time." Cain clenched his teeth harder. "They… they didn't." She closed her eyes. Zero was right, he hadn't wanted her that way. That was almost funny. "I could see, Wyatt. You had my consent."
"You couldn't give--"
DG cut him off by hugging him. "You didn't hurt me. You could never hurt me."
He silently pressed her closer. She let herself enjoy it and willed for him not to feel bad. She was the one who let her lust hurt him when she knew better.
The door opened. "Am I interrupting something?" Gulch said as he shut it. Cain whipped his arms away almost as fast as she uncurled from him. Gulch continued to grin, but his eyes crinkled thoughtfully. He held up a full shopping bag. "Clothes. I dug some out of your bedroom rubble and found some things to fit Cain."
DG jumped off the bed. "You didn't have to do that."
"Of course not, since you two packed so much luggage." He ignored her stuck-out tongue and settled in the armchair. She had the clothes deposited in the drawers inside the wardrobe before he spoke again. "Can you take a walk, DG?"
She turned, but Cain asked the question. "Why do you want her gone?"
Gulch set his hat on the windowsill. "I'm supposed to be taking your statement and she shouldn't be here for that."
"I'll be fine finding lunch." DG noticed Cain's scowl shifted to worry. "I won't leave the building, okay?"
"Okay." Cain wasn't happy, so she decided to bring him back a sampling of food unavailable in the O.Z.
"You two play nice," was her parting shot.