“Why are you always running?”
The words weren’t particularly cruel, but they stung anyway. She tossed her head, blowing a stream of air up against her eyebrows, struggling to get her hair unstuck from her face, but all she managed to do was loose the sweat droplet clinging there. It ran down and spread against the cut on her cheek, stinging even worse than the words.
“Who are you running from?”
Well it ain’t you, sweet heart, she thought, and couldn’t help but smile at herself. It wasn’t witty, but it wasn’t an answer, and she was bound and determined not to open her mouth.
“Who are you running to?”
She shivered at that one, and bowed her head, looking down at her booted feet, counting the rows of laces that ran past the slim ankle and up her shin.
“Do you think he cares?”
She froze, ice running up and down the length of her spine, crawling through her vertebrae, spidery tendrils of doubt curling in the pit of her belly, at the back of her skull. The chains at her wrists rang as she shifted, forcing herself to move, clearing her throat, struggling to keep from reacting again to the questions. Of course he cares. Of course he doesn’t.
What did it matter, anyway?
“I asked you a bloody question, y’fucking cunt!”
She could hear the movement, feel the stirring in the air, even when she couldn’t see. Her eyes widened, even as her heartbeat sped up, a sudden dump of adrenaline. It buzzed against the collar around her throat, the thing that kept her locked away, kept her dulled, kept her contained.
The blow that landed took her breath away. She gagged, coughing, feeling the strange grinding sound of her cracked ribs, and tried to keep her breathing shallow, even as she sobbed, heaving with nausea at the pain.
“Toerag,” she spat. “F’ you wanted me dead, y’d’ve killed me by now. Y’want information, n’I ain’t givin’it’ya. So y’better change y’mind about wantin me dead.”
A hand grabbed her face, turned it toward something in the dark. A voice laughed, low and rich and mocking. “Why is that, love?”
“Cause y’can’t hold me forever,” she panted, letting the pain clear her head. “N’when I’m free, I’m a sucker for payin back what I owe.”