The two men inside the car are quick. Before I have time to think what is happening they have taken my bag, grabbed my arms and tied my hands behind my back. One of the men makes a show of turning off my telephone before the second one pulls a hood over my head and I feel my feet being tied. Neither of them speaks or responds to any of my questions as the car drives off, leaving me to sit in quiet dread.
I can’t judge how long we drive for, as my fear is making every moment go on forever. Eventually the car comes to a halt, and I am dragged out and carried indoors. Without ceremony I am plonked onto a hard chair, and everything goes quiet.
The bright light is blinding as the hood is pulled from my head. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the glare so I can take stock of my surroundings. The light is making it hard, but I can just make out that I am sitting in a large and beautifully furnished room, in what seems like an old stately house. Heavy velvet curtains hang in front of the high windows, and the light that is still shining brightly into my eyes is coming from a bureau lamp that is standing on the heavy wooden desk in front of me and is pointing straight into my face. The rest of the room is dimly lit and I can’t make out much in the deep shadows beyond my immediate field of view. Least of all can I see whether there is anyone across from me, behind the desk. I make to shield my eyes from the brightness but my hands are still tied, and I achieve nothing. Instead I end up squinting, which is not as effective as I hoped.
Suddenly, there is giggling across from me, and a male voice says, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like a hamster when you do that?”
I can’t place the accent for a moment, thinking first of all American, and then quickly realising it is Irish. I try to see who is speaking, but getting nowhere.
“Who are you?” I say. When there is no answer I try again.
“Let me go.”
The man behind the desk gets up and walks over, sitting down on a corner, smiling. I can have a look at him now. He’s a pretty ordinary looking bloke, apart from the very sharp suit. Medium height, short dark hair, brown eyes with very heavy eyelids. There is something entirely disturbing about his eyes that I can’t define, but that is setting off alarm bells in my head. Everything in his smile and his poise says dangerous. I swallow hard, wondering what is going to happen to me, what I am here for.
“Hi,” the man says, “I’m Jim.”
He gets up and walks over, leaning against the desk right in front of me, looking down, closely looking me over. He is only partially blocking the light from the desk lamp, and the high contrast means I can’t make out his face.
He seems to be grinning when he says, “And what have we here? Adriane Woodford. Sherlock Holmes’s girlfriend, would you believe. Now that’s got to be pretty special.”
He is savouring every word as the true horror of my situation is becoming apparent to me. I suddenly wonder how many enemies Sherlock has made over the years.
I shake my head vigorously, and say, “No, no, I’m not. You’ve got it wrong. I’m not his girlfriend. Let me go.”
Suddenly, he is down very close to my face. “Well excuse me if I don’t believe you, my dear, but that’s not what it looked like this evening. Or were you getting all smoochy for scientific reasons?”
Jesus, I think, What have I done?
I am pleading now. “Please, you have to believe me. I’m not his girlfriend. I mean nothing to him.”
Jim giggles as he stands up. “Oh really. Well then, explain what he’s been doing over at your flat so often recently, love. And do tell me about those romantic dinners. Purely business? Talking chemistry?”
He laughs, savouring the moment, stopping to look at my reaction. I realise that to an outside observer that is exactly what it would look like, that it would be almost impossible to convince anyone otherwise. I just shake my head again, having nothing to say. After a while Jim carries on.
“I’m not stupid, you know. Although I’m not so sure about you. Did you really think I was going to believe that simplistic rubbish? I was expecting a bit more of you. I thought you’d be clever.”
His whole manner is terrifying. I get the feeling he could turn violent any moment, that he is just on the edge of madness. I wonder if there is anyone else in the room, if anyone would stop him if he suddenly went for me. I just shake my head.
“You’re wrong. I know what it looks like but you’re wrong.” I’m close to tears. All I can think is that nobody even knows that I am missing, that Sherlock has no idea, and that I may not get out of this alive.
Jim looks at me for a while longer, then walks off into the room. He is quiet for a while, pacing up and down. Then he says, “Let’s just go on the assumption that I’m not, because, let’s face it, I’m not. Then that means you must have some pretty interesting stories to tell. Things he’s shared with you, life stories, childhood memories, that kind of thing? Maybe things he’s never told anyone else. I mean, I could ask John, of course, but he’s like married to Sherlock, he’s as tight as a nut. But you, well, I reckon I have a chance with you. You’re not quite as… indentured yet.”
He turns and looks over to me, grinning. “Anything you would like to share?”
I shake my head and say, “I don’t know anything about him. He hasn’t told me anything. Please let me go.”
Jim walks back over and stands right in front of me again, a dark shape against the bright light. He lets the silence hang for a moment, then bursts out, “Oh it’s so boring, don’t you think, hearing the same thing over and over and over again? I was hoping you were going to say something new.” He throws his hands up into the air as if despairing, and walks off.
“But I guess it can’t be helped, you being boring,” he says. “Or then again, maybe it can. See, I have a few friends who are rather good at making people say things. I invited them along tonight. Would you like to meet them?”
He stops in the middle of the room, waiting for an answer.
I shake my head, mute with apprehension.
“Oh, that’s a bit rude, isn’t it?” he says, “I thought you might like to make some new friends. Let me try, anyway.”
He gestures to a part of the room that I can’t see. A man emerges from the shadows and stops beside me. He is middle-aged, neat looking, and dressed in a lab coat.
“This,” Jim says, “Is the Surgeon. I believe you quite like doctors, with all the time you spend hanging around with John, so you should get along just fine. My friend is an experienced medical man, in his own way. And he’s got a rather nice and specialised surgery set up in the cellars of this place. Especially for people like you. Aren’t you privileged.”
The man gives me a cursory bow. The thing that I notice about him most are his cold eyes. Where Jim is bordering on the maniacally insane, this man is as cold as ice. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up just looking at him.
Jim gestures again, and from another part of the room steps an extraordinarily beautiful woman. She is in her thirties and is impeccably dressed in a cream skirted suit. Her hair is swept back in an elaborate arrangement, which a random part of my mind wonders how long it took her to do, or whether she has someone to do it for her. The things that catch my eye the most are her beautiful eyes and the spectacular shade of red on her full lips, not a colour many women could carry off, but which she seems to wear with ease. She oozes an easy, superior confidence.
Jim says, “And this is another friend of mine that you may address as Mistress. She has extensive skills in a different area, which you will no doubt find out all about.”
The woman gives me a mocking smile, her large eyes fixed on me, and says, “Hello.”
Her voice is husky, amused, and full of intent. She is looking at me as if I am a new toy she has been given to play with. I look to the floor, feeling small, and wishing for a miracle.
“Now, the question is,” Jim continues, “which one of these lovely people I will send you to play with first. Would you like to choose?”
I shake my head, refusing to go along with his warped game. I may not know anything worth withholding, but I’ll be damned if I am going to go down easily. I am now beginning to wonder not whether I will get out of this alive, but how long I will last. It is becoming clear to me that they have no interest in keeping me alive, that in fact I would be a liability if I survived this. Facing up to the inevitable brings some freedom with it, and I can feel the fear turn to anger. If I have nothing to lose, then I will try to do so with some style and not as a gibbering wreck.
I look up at Jim again, and say, “There is nothing I can tell you but this. Sherlock is the cleverest person I have ever met and he will find you and I hope he will kill you. For your sake I hope John will be there to stop him, but I wouldn’t count on it. You will not get away with this.”
Jim just laughs, and says, “Ooh. Really. Well let me tell you dear, the last time I saw John I had him all nicely dressed in semtex ready to explode, only I changed my mind. And Sherlock has spent months looking for me and he hasn’t even got close. I think you may be a little over-optimistic. And anyway, I thought you said he didn’t care.”
He has ended up very close to my face again. In a moment of madness I spit at him. He straightens up and in the same movement slaps me hard across the face.
“ENOUGH ALREADY!” he shouts. His face is suddenly contorted with rage, and I shrink back as much as my position allows, fearful of what he might do next. I can taste blood in my mouth. However, just as quickly as he got angry, he regains his composure.
He stands up calmly, smiling at me again. Then he says, “Well. Time’s ticking you know. I’ll do the choosing.” He takes a coin out of his pocket.
“Heads it’s him, tails it’s her.”
He flicks the coin into the air. I watch with morbid fascination as it comes down and seals my fate. Jim grins. “Heads,” he says. “Off to the doctor’s.”
My resolve to stay strong lasts as far as the door to the medical room in the cellars. The room is whitewashed and brightly lit, and it could be in any hospital but for the lack of windows and the chair that stands in the centre of the room. It’s the kind of device only seen in horror movies and bad sci-fi films, with straps and restraints on all sides, and it is obvious that once in it there will be no getting out.
At the sight of it I panic and throw myself backwards against the man that is pushing me into the room. My head catches him on the chin, and he grunts and nearly lets go of me. My feet have been freed for walking down, so I turn around while he is off guard and try to duck past him. I get two steps away from the door before somebody tackles me from behind and throws me to the ground. I land heavily on my shoulder and face, unable to protect myself with my hands. My right arm is pinned to the floor and I can feel the pin prick of a needle before everything goes black.
When I wake up I am strapped in the chair. Whoever did it has been thorough as I can barely move. The only part of my body that has some free movement is my head, but even that is limited by the band that is loosely strapped over my throat. Enough to see what is going on, not enough to be able to headbutt anyone. I feel sick, both with fear and no doubt with the after-effects of whatever drug they have given me. The room is spinning a bit but it quickly comes into sharp focus when the Surgeon moves into my field of view, syringe in hand.
“So. You’re awake,” he says. His voice is measured and without any hint of feeling.
He sits down on a chair in front of me, and smiles a cold smile. Then he holds up the syringe. “Simple harmless chemical, but rather painful when injected into the body. Especially effective when applied to a slow bit of tissue, say in a joint,” he says, taking my hand and turning it over so my wrist is exposed. He takes an antiseptic wipe and gives my skin a thorough clean. It seems a pointless gesture to me.
The Surgeon slowly moves the needle towards my wrist, and I struggle to get away, panic rising. I hate needles, but what he is threatening to do is so much worse than just giving me an injection. He is watching me as he moves the needle very close to my skin. Then suddenly he sits back again, and says, “Of course I wouldn’t have to do this if you would like to talk to me.”
I heave a shuddering sigh of relief, believing for a moment that it was just an empty threat. “Please believe me. I don’t know anything. There’s nothing I can tell you,” I say.
He looks at me closely for a minute, then smiles and grabs my hand again so my wrist is facing him and puts the needle onto the skin. “Now you may want to sit still for this. You really don’t want this thing to hit bone,” he says, still smiling.
I sit rigid in an instant. The man’s smile turns into a cold grin. I close my eyes as the needle enters my skin and I feel it go into the joint, and it is agony. I am trying to filter out the intense pain, to concentrate all my thoughts on sitting still. I feel dizzy and am letting out a stream of incoherent obscenities, channelling the pain that way. The growing agony in my wrist tells me that whatever he is injecting is doing its job, and after a short while he withdraws the needle. I feel no difference, in fact the pain is still increasing. Soon it becomes too much to deal with, I can’t filter it out anymore. I am screaming by now, my breath coming in sobs, desperately trying to break free of the restraints.
The Surgeon is still sitting in front of me, coldly observing my pain. “Hmm, it hurts, doesn’t it,” he says. “I have a neutraliser, of course. All you need to do is talk to me.”
I look at him, and scream, “I have nothing to tell you! I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING. Please make it stop.” I am crying by now.
The man stands up, shrugging. He says, “I will see you again, later.” He walks out of the room, switches off the light, and closes the door.
With that, I panic altogether. I can see nothing at all in the darkness, my left arm is in burning agony and I have no idea how long I am going to be left alone in this godawful place. I am screaming and fighting the bonds, pulling with all my might to get free. The pain in my wrist is slowly making its way up my arm and into my hand, until it feels as if that whole part of my body is on fire. I can feel the restraints cutting into my skin but I don’t care, all I want is to break free, to get out.
I don’t know how long I am fighting for, but in the end I have to give up, exhausted. The hopelessness of the situation overwhelms me and with it a wave of nausea washes over me. I throw up, vaguely wondering when I last had anything to eat, before blacking out.
I can’t have been unconscious for very long, because I am still alone and in the dark when I come to. The pain in my arm has spread to the left side of my body, but it is slowly lessening with the dissipation of the drug. I stink of vomit. With nothing else to do, I sit and cry, until eventually even my tears run out. After that, I just stare at the darkness for what seems like an age, cataloguing all the sensations in my body, and wondering how long I am going to stay here.
I try to conjure up some happy memories to keep me from despairing, but any thought of Sherlock just makes me realise how little chance there is of him ever finding me alive, and that he probably isn’t even aware that there is anything wrong, that he isn’t looking. I try to picture him on the violin, but although I can see the image the memory of the music is gone, leaving me feeling empty. Thinking of Phil makes me smile a little, because he is so sweet and naïve and totally out of touch with all this. I wonder if he will ever find out what happened to me, and the thought sets me off crying again.
At that moment, the door of the room opens and the light is switched on. I can’t see a thing in the glare, and I have to close my eyes. After a short while I reopen them to a squint. The Surgeon is standing in front of me.
“You stink,” he says, and presses a buzzer on the wall.
Within seconds, two men arrive. I recognise one of them from the car journey. “Clean her up,” the Surgeon says.
The men undo the restraints and pull me to my feet, each one holding onto one of my arms. Then they drag me off to a side room, which has a shower and a toilet in it. They strip me and make me visit the toilet, then watch me as I take a shower.
If they intended to humiliate me by watching it isn’t working. I am past caring, just happy to be able to move freely for a moment and to get clean. I silently thank Sherlock for subjecting me to so much intense observation that I have become indifferent to what to me is just a bit of staring. That thought finally makes me smile. I wonder if Sherlock meant to harden me up a bit, or whether this is just a fortunate side-effect of being his study subject for nearly a year. I sneak a drink from the hot water. It’s disgusting, but better than nothing.
The door of the cubicle opens and one of the men switches off the shower. He throws me a towel and says, “Get out.”
When I am dried they hand me a hospital gown. It looks like my clothes have already gone into the bin, and it only serves to strengthen my belief that they do not intend to let me live. The dread that lifted briefly in the last few minutes settles back in the pit of my stomach. I try to hold back the tears.
The men lead me back into the main room and strap me back into the chair. I don’t see the point in struggling anymore, as they are obviously quite capable of overpowering me. When they are finished they leave the room, leaving me alone with the Surgeon once more.
He has arranged a row of small vials on one of the benches while I was in the shower. Now he turns to me, and says, “I’ve a few things here that I have wanted to try out for some time now. It was just a question of waiting for the right opportunity, and here you are.”
I’m just watching him with resignation, vaguely wondering what horror awaits me this time. “Was there anything you wanted to tell me?” he asks, not really appearing to be that interested in the answer.
I shake my head. “I know you won’t believe me. I don’t have anything to tell.”
He looks up at me, and says, “Shame, isn’t it.”
For a while he seems to hesitate in front of the bottles. I try not to let it get at me, almost sure that he is doing it for dramatic effect. Even so, my feeling of dread heightens. Suddenly, he picks up a bottle and turns back to me.
“Now, all this panicking and struggling just takes away from the pure sensation of the pain, don’t you think? I’ve something here that should help with that,” he says, making a show of filling a syringe. I cringe unwillingly, trying not to show how much even such a simple gesture is unnerving me.
“Muscle relaxant,” he says. “Well, actually, it’s a paralytic. But I believe in this formulation, when applied to the correct point, it only serves to paralyse the subject’s voluntary muscles, not interfering with heart and lung function. Best of all it doesn’t take away their sensory experience.” He pauses a moment and looks at me, then adds, “It means you should still be able to feel the pain.”
I feel no urge to tell him that I understood him the first time.
The Surgeon stands up and walks behind me. He says, “You probably wondered why the back of the chair is not entirely solid. See, there is a nice opening here,” he runs his hand down my back, “to allow access to the spine.”
I make an incoherent noise of sheer terror when I realise where this is going.
“Now, you need to sit perfectly still for this. I think you understand the risks,” he says.
Unfortunately I am shaking by now, and I am in tears pleading for him to stop. He is ignoring me, calmly carrying on with his preparations. I can feel him opening the tie on the gown so that he has access to my neck, and I shudder as he feels for the exact point of entry. He appears to be drawing a mark on my skin at that spot. Then he says, “Right. Sit perfectly still now.”
I can’t do it. By now I am shaking so badly that there is no controlling it. I try to push myself against the back of the chair so that at least that part of me is still, close my eyes and fear the worst. I do know what the risks are; if he gets this wrong I will be paralysed from the neck down, and not just until the drug wears off. I try to hold my breath, hoping that might help, but I am such a state that I can’t do that either. The man behind me sighs.
“This is no good. You need to sit still.”
He gets up and presses the buzzer again. Almost instantly the two men reappear.
“I only need one of you,” the Surgeon says. “I need you to hold her still for me.”
One of the men walks back out, the other comes over and puts his hands on my shoulders, pushing me hard against the back of the chair. His face is close to mine but I close my eyes again, blanking him out, trying to pretend this is not happening.
I don’t feel the needle enter this time, but the effect of the drug is nearly instantaneous. I feel all control of the muscles below my neck disappearing, until I can only move my head and face. The Surgeon moves back into my field of vision, and pinches my arm, hard. I flinch with the pain, or at least my face does. The rest of my body stays completely still.
“Good,” he says. “It seems to have worked.”
He moves back to the workbench and gets another bottle, another syringe. “I think we will try the other wrist this time,” he says.
There is nothing I can do but watch him inject another dose of the first drug into my wrist. The pain is much worse than the first time. I don’t seem to be able to scream, although I manage to mutter a steady stream of curses. It is not enough. Without any distraction the effect of the injection is devastating. My whole arm is burning, and I can feel the room spinning. I am finding it hard to focus, panic overwhelming me, but then someone throws what feels like a glass full of cold water into my face and I come back to the room.
“No,” the Surgeon says, “there is no point if you are going to drift off. For the full experience you need to stay here.”
I am sobbing with the pain. He isn’t walking off this time, but stays and observes me. It reminds me somewhat of Sherlock, but the contrast couldn’t be greater. With everything that Sherlock has done, however callous he may have appeared, I have always felt looked after. Uncomfortable certainly, embarrassed on many occasions, pushed well over my limits and in more pain that I knew I could deal with a couple of times, but never abused, never made to suffer for the sake of it. This man is enjoying it, he is deriving pleasure from watching me in pain. There is no compassion, he is not doing this for any other reason than his own benefit, the satisfaction of his sick mind. I think he knows that I have nothing to tell, but he is just enjoying the torture.
I suddenly feel a huge wave of appreciation for Sherlock, understanding what he could have done had he been a different person. God knows he’s had plenty of opportunity. For a moment, the thought blocks out everything else, and I smile without thinking. The man in front of me frowns, confused, clearly wondering why his methods don’t seem to be working. It makes me even happier, and I grin through the pain, even if it is just for an instant. He stands up now, checking me over. He holds onto my other hand and pushes my fingers upwards, hard, until it feels something might break. I whimper with the pain, the moment gone, back in the horror of the here and now. The Surgeon gives a satisfied little nod.
At that moment, the door opens and Jim comes in. “How’s it going, Doc?” he asks, sing-song, as he walks over to the chair.
“Hm,” the Surgeon says, “This is a strange one. I am starting to believe she really doesn’t know anything.”
Jim comes over and stands close to me, studying my face, looking me in the eye. I return his gaze, too exhausted to fight him, still in too much pain to care very much. He stares at me for quite some time and then suddenly stands up and says, “Naah. Can’t be.”
He walks carelessly over to the row of bottles on the bench. He picks one up, and says, “Tried this one yet?”
The Surgeon walks over and looks at the bottle. He appears to hesitate. Then he says, “No. I’m not sure about that particular one. The side effects on the last one were severe. We didn’t get much of a result.”
Jim shrugs, and says, “Be brave. Try it on a half dose or something. Improvise.”
The Surgeon seems to be nervous of him. He takes the bottle from his hand, and says, “Fine. We will have to wait until the other drugs wear off.”
Jim twirls around on the spot and shouts, “But that’s BORING. Can’t you do something NOW?”
“Not without risking the sudden death of the subject,” the Surgeon responds. He doesn’t look at all convinced and it scares me. I wish I could do something, move, scream, but all I can produce at the moment is some muttering.
“Please. I don’t know anything. Please,” I manage.
It was probably the wrong thing to say. Jim lowers his face to mine, and says, “Well if you don’t know anything, then it won’t matter too much if you die, will it. And if you do happen to be holding something back, well lucky us.” He gestures to the Surgeon.
“Dose her up, Doc.”
The Surgeon pulls off my gown and hooks me up to what appears to be an ECG machine. Then he fills a syringe and injects it into my arm. For a while nothing happens, and I am wondering if he got the dose of whatever it is wrong. Then I start to feel very hot, and at the same time I get the most wonderful feeling of happy indifference. I really don’t care at all what is happening to me anymore, or what they do and don’t know. Jim is watching me, and he says, “So. How do you feel about me, love?”
I don’t hesitate a moment before answering, “I think you are a dangerous psychotic twat and Sherlock is going to kill you. I hope it will be slow and painful.”
Jim claps his hands in glee. “Wonderful!” he cries, “Oh that’s just marvellous. Let’s ask some more questions, Doc.”
He sits down on the chair in front of me, and asks, “So. What’s the deal with you and Sherlock then?”
I just laugh at him, “It’s nothing really. I turn up and he does experiments on me. If he’s in a good mood he lets me stay.”
Jim frowns. “What. That’s it? And you let him?”
I smile back at him. “Yup. He’s lovely, really.” I feel good about this, even though I am getting hotter and hotter. The thing showing my heart rate must be broken, because it is registering over 200 beats per minute and the pattern on the screen looks funny. The Surgeon has a comical worried look on his face.
“Sir,” he says, “We should stop this before she goes into cardiac arrest.”
Jim looks irritated. “One more,” he says. He turns to me again, and asks, “And has he told you lots of things about himself while doing this?”
I am grinning by now. The pain in my arm seems to have disappeared completely, even though I still can’t move my arms and legs. “Nope. Oh yes, he said he wasn’t one of my homicidal boyfriends. He plays the violin beautifully though.”
Jim rolls his eyes, and says to the Surgeon, “That stuff isn’t working. It’s just making her silly. You had better make sure she survives this and goes back to normal. God, this is taking forever.” He gets up and storms out of the room, slamming the door behind him. I giggle.
It is taking an age for the paralysis drug to wear off, but the Surgeon blocks out the effect of the latest drug with another injection and it wears off nearly instantly. It leaves me feeling dreadful – drained, cold, sick and with a spectacular headache. Thankfully, he seems to have finished with me for the night and I am untied and dragged to a small room, not much more than a cell. The men carrying me put me down on the bed in the recovery position, still naked, and throw a blanket over me. One of them puts a plate and a mug down in the corner.
“There’s some food there, if you can get to it.”
They both laugh as they leave the room. It closes behind them with a definite click.
After what feels like hours I slowly regain control of my limbs. As soon as I am able I drag myself over to the corner and drink the water. The food which appears to be some kind of pie with chips looks like it was never any good and it is cold, but I eat it anyway. Then I make my way back to the bed slowly, lie down and fall almost immediately into a restless sleep.
The man behind the desk gets up and walks over, sitting down on a corner, smiling. He’s a pretty ordinary looking bloke, apart from the very sharp suit. Medium height, short dark hair, brown eyes with very heavy eyelids.
"Hi," he says, "I'm Jim."
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock and never will, he belongs entirely to himself, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and those lovely people at the BBC, as do all the other Sherlock characters. I do not make any money from this. Adriane Woodford is a figment of my imagination and does not represent a real person, living or dead.
In the morning it takes me a moment to work out where I am when I first open my eyes. When the full realisation comes crashing in I close my eyes again and just sink back onto the bed. I don’t know how long I stay lying like this, but I just cannot face any more time in this place. Eventually I face up to the inevitable, open my eyes again and sit up, wondering what time it is, how long I have until the men come to get me.
My body seems to have sorted itself out overnight although my head still hurts. I use the bucket in the corner out of need, even though it makes me feel degraded. Then I sit back on the bed, wrap the blanket around me and look around the room, vaguely wondering if there is any way of escape. There is a small window in the top corner of the room, too high to get to, and barred in any case. Grey light is filtering through, giving no indication of whether it is early on a clear day, or mid morning on a cloudy one. While I am thinking about this, and whether it matters, the locks on the door slide open and Jim walks in.
“Good morning, sunshine,” he says. “And how are we enjoying my hospitality?”
I will not give him the satisfaction of an answer, so I just stare at him.
“Oh, so rude,” he grins. “Today I will hand you over to somebody who might be able to teach you some manners.” He snaps his fingers, and two men come in, different from the ones that I saw yesterday. I am beginning to wonder how many people ‘Jim’ has at his disposal, and what his real name is.
My thoughts are interrupted by him saying, “Take her upstairs, boys,” and the men pulling the blanket off me, grabbing me and walking me out of the room, naked.
The men lead me up the cellar stairs to the ground floor, to the main hall, and up a broad flight of steps. The building, as I guessed the night before, is an old stately home kept in very good repair. The whole place oozes old-fashioned luxury. In any other situation I would have loved to have a look around. I am being led to a door in one of the wings, and the men stop and knock.
“Come in,” says a voice on the other side. I recognise it as belonging to the woman I met last night. One of the men opens the door and I am pushed inside. Although they close the door behind them, neither of the men lets go of me.
I am in a large, bright, spacious room with very high ceilings. It is sparsely furnished with a large bed and a small desk, and a few chairs. The morning light is streaming through the high windows and a breeze is coming in through one of them, making the voile curtains dance gently. I stare at the open window, almost within reach, and can’t think of very much else for the moment. I am so focused on it that I don’t notice that the woman has come over to me until she speaks.
“Ah, yes, the window,” she says, as she walks behind me. “I do like a bit of fresh air, don’t you?”
I don’t intend to answer her, it is so clearly a taunt. Suddenly, there is a thwack and a searing pain flames through my buttocks. I cry out, and she appears in front of me again. I hadn’t noticed the riding crop before.
“Answer the question, dear,” she says, smiling. She is dressed in an outfit that leaves little to the imagination, while actually covering most of her.
There is no point, I realise, to defy her over something this simple. I look away as I say, “Yes.”
Suddenly the tongue of the riding crop is on my cheek, and pushing my face so that I have to look at her again.
“Yes what, dear?” she says.
I cringe. I have never been one to grovel or beg, regardless of being submissive. It is a struggle to get the words out but I realise I have no choice.
“Yes, Mistress,” I say.
She smiles at me again, strokes my cheek and says, “Good.”
I look away. If I was scared of the Surgeon, I am equally but differently fearful of this woman and what she could do to my head with the right hook. I’m not at all sure how I am going to fight her.
The woman walks over to the wall, and takes something off it. I can see it is a collar, with a very long thin chain that is attached to the wall and runs through a ring in the ceiling in the centre of the room. She holds it in front of me, and says, “Let’s start you off with this, dear, and then the gentlemen can get on with their duties.”
She fastens the collar around my neck and locks it. Then the men move me under the ceiling ring while the woman pulls the chain until it is nearly tight, just resting on my neck, and fastens the other end to the wall. She comes back to me holding a set of leather cuffs and secures my wrists behind my back, then cuffs my ankles together.
The men let go of me and leave the room, but it makes no difference, I couldn’t even sit down if I wanted, the chain preventing me from moving more than a foot or so. The woman stands in front of me and shows me the chain, twirling it lightly between her fingers.
“Light, isn’t it?” she says. I nod, wondering what I would achieve if I tried to headbutt her. Most likely I’d fall over and hang myself. She carries on, “Titanium, of course, you couldn’t break it. At its full length it would allow you access to the entire room, and the bathroom, too. Would you like that?”
I’d like access to the exit, I think, but I don’t say anything, just nod.
Thwack, searing pain. I can feel the tears well up in my eyes as I gasp.
“Talk to me, dear,” she says, still smiling.
She walks off, thinking, or pretending to. A little way away from me she stops, turns around and looks at me. “Have you had breakfast?” she asks.
I blink, not expecting that question, and make to shake my head. I quickly realise what I am doing and instead say, “No, Mistress.” My buttocks are still throbbing with the pain, and if some grovelling is going to avoid more of that then so be it.
She comes back to me and says, “Oh, so you can speak the truth.” Thwack, more pain, worse than before. She must have gone over a weal. The tears are coming down my face, nothing I can do about it. She is standing very close behind me, as she says, “Don’t lie to me dear, I can always tell.” She comes back round.
“Now. Let’s try again. Would you like me to give you access to the rest of the room?”
I look at her, thinking she is formidable, wondering what on Earth I can do. I decide to tell her the truth and be damned.
“No,” I say, “I don’t want to be here at all, Mistress.”
She smiles a big smile, and caresses my cheek. She has lovely soft fingers and I try to hate the feeling, but I can’t. “Good, very good. I might make you change your mind yet,” she says.
She walks to the antique desk in the corner of the room, and writes something down. Then she pulls the bell cord next to the desk. Almost instantly there is a knock on the door, and one of the men comes in. The woman passes him the note, and says, “Get me this.”
The man leaves, and the woman walks back over to me. She looks me over, walking around me, touching my skin in places, then says, “Did he hurt you? The Surgeon? Such a cold man.”
“Yes, Mistress,” I say.
She stops behind me, and I can feel her fingers on my back, tracing something. I know what it is, I remember all too well another day quite some months ago when I was also kidnapped, when things were very different, when I had a chance.
“Hmm. These are quite recent,” she says. “What was it, some kind of knotted cat?”
I nod, and say, “Yes, Mistress.”
“Tell me what happened,” she says, coming round to look at my face again.
I think about it a moment, and decide that since the case has gone through the courts and the police know the details anyway I might as well tell the tale. I briefly recount the events, not dwelling on the gory details. I leave out the bit where I was set up, though.
When I finish, she runs her left hand gently over my body, absentmindedly almost. I try to block it out, the first nice feeling I have had since yesterday evening, but it’s difficult. She says softly, “Oh you poor darling. And Sherlock just happened to come to your rescue.”
She steps back and looks at me, the riding crop swinging gently in her right hand. I take the hint, and say, “No. He set me up. I agreed.”
She smiles her big smile again, then turns and brings the riding crop down hard on the side of my buttock. I scream, and nearly lose my balance, but she catches me and steadies me until I sort myself out. Then she says, “When I ask you to tell me something, I expect you to tell me the whole truth, and not just part of it. I hope that’s clear.”
I nod and say, “Yes, Mistress.”
She gets out a tissue and wipes the tears off my face. She’s gentle and it feels nice, and my feelings are getting more and more confused. When she is finished I say thank you, just because it feels like the right thing to do. I am rewarded with another smile, and she gently strokes my chest again, her fingers lingering a moment around my nipples.
I’m not gay, I’m not even bisexual, but she is an expert at what she is doing and my body is making decisions all of its own. I look away, trying not to show that this is getting to me, but she just gets a little closer to me and plants a kiss on my cheek.
“See,” she whispers, “I can make you feel good. As long as you play by my rules.”
At that moment, there is a knock on the door, and she steps away from me, leaving me to get my feelings back under control. I need to remind myself that she is the enemy, that she is in league with Jim, that she is part of the group that will have me killed once they are done with me. I resolve to get a grip when she returns, and not let her get to me. Sherlock’s comment about my lack of self control still rankles.
The woman is taking something from the person at the door. When she comes back into the room I see that it is a plate of food, cut up into small pieces. Bacon sandwich, I guess from the delicious smell. She is also holding a drink.
“Hungry?” she says.
Ravenous, I think, but I say, “Yes, Mistress.”
She takes a piece off the plate and eats it. “Hmm. Thought so,” she says. She puts the plate away on a table to the side, well out of reach. I watch it with some regret, but it is the drink that I really want. I haven’t had anything since that cup of water last night.
“Not hungry enough to beg, it seems,” the woman says as she walks back to me.
I realise I am not doing myself any favours by being stubborn. I need to keep my strength up. “Please, Mistress, a drink,” I say.
She has a good look at me before she says, “Yes, very slick. I’d like to hear that again with a little more feeling.”
She walks to the wall and undoes the chain a loop, then comes back to me, bringing the riding crop. “Now you will kneel in front of me, and you will ask me properly. I can give you a little help, if you wish,” she says.
Thwack. Once more the pain sears through me but this time my knees buckle, I lose my balance and sink to the floor. The chain is only just long enough and I can feel it tugging at my neck. Through my tears I say, “No, Mistress, please. I need a drink.”
I’m waiting for the next lash, but it doesn’t come. Instead, she strokes my hair and says, “Now, that’s better. Stay there.”
A moment later she is squatting in front of me, holding the glass to my lips. I drink as quickly as she will allow. When the glass is empty she stands up and moves away. I swallow my pride and say, “Mistress, please can I… Please may I have some food?”
I’m not looking at her, afraid that insincerity will earn me another lash, waiting for more pain. Instead, she sits down in front of me, cross-legged, and puts the plate on her lap. She takes a piece off the plate and puts it into my mouth, saying, “Well. That’s a lot better.”
She considers me a moment before continuing, “See, I think Jim is wrong about you. He reckons you’re stupid. But you learn quickly enough.” She holds another piece of food in front of my face and says,“Tell me about Sherlock.”
I look at her, desperate for something else to eat, not sure what to say. I decide to go with the plain truth, the one that Jim doesn’t want to hear.
“I have already told Jim and the Surgeon, Mistress. I honestly don’t know anything personal about him. He never says anything about himself. He’s far too careful. He just uses me for experiments and practice.”
She looks at me closely for a long time before putting the piece of food in my mouth and saying, “Yes. I believe you.”
A wave of relief washes over me, and I find myself in tears, thanking her, the last of my composure gone, thankful that finally somebody believes that I have been telling the truth all along. She watches me calmly for a while, and then says, “But you can still tell me about him. You’ve spent time with him.”
I look at her through my tears, realising that this is not over.
“Oh, don’t worry dear,” she says. “I won’t say anything to Jim. It’s purely for my own interest.”
She puts another piece of food in my mouth. I eat, accepting the respite, wondering when and how this hell will end.
She lets me finish the sandwich, feeding me bit by bit, for the moment not asking any more questions. I look at her as she is feeding me, thinking she is gorgeous, and at the same time wishing I was a million miles away. When the plate is empty she undoes the cuffs at my ankles.
“One false move and they are back on again, and you will regret it, darling,” she says. “I have been very nice to you so far.”
The thank you, Mistress is out of my mouth before I can think about it. I am instantly horrified with myself for being so easy, and she picks up on it, smiling generously.
“Oh, very good,” she says. “You know, I might ask Jim if I can keep you after this.”
I very nearly say yes, please, because at that moment it seems so much better than being killed outright, but I manage to stop my own idiocy before it takes over. Instead I say, “He is going to kill me, Mistress.”
“Yes, possibly,” she says, in a matter-of-fact way. “Although he has other options. I’m afraid it’s out of my hands.” And that’s it, she is happy to accept that whatever Jim decides to do is going to happen. It is like I am staring at a brick wall. Before I can sink into a pit of despair my thoughts are broken.
“Better not to dwell upon it, dear. Up you get.”
It is a struggle getting up with no useable arms but after a couple of tries I manage. My whole body has stiffened up, from all the struggling yesterday I guess, and from kneeling down for that long. I wince as I straighten up.
“What you need is a bath,” the woman says. Then, after a moment, she asks, “Can I trust you?”
I am not sure what she means, but when I see that she has walked over to the wall and is holding the chain I say, “Yes, Mistress.”
Out of everyone here she is the only one who has taken me seriously, who has believed me, who has actually been nice to me for a moment. It seems wrong somehow to betray her trust. Besides, with my arms still tied there is very little I could physically do, other than possibly sit on her.
She lets the chain go to its full length. Even though I haven’t moved yet, the sense of freedom is overwhelming. The idea of just being able to walk to the other side of the room after all this time of being confined and restrained is exhilarating. I breathe yet another involuntary thank you, not quite as horrified with my own reaction this time. The woman just gives me a little knowing smile and walks to the bathroom.
It is strange being bathed. At first I am tense, wondering what the plan is, as she runs the water and gets me to lie down in the bath, collar, cuffs and all. But it seems there is no plan as she washes and rinses my hair and sponges my body down, and it feels luxurious, out of place, and the wrong way round somehow. I find myself relaxing into it, a moment of sumptuous peace in a living hell.
I close my eyes, lying back, wishing the moment could last. While I am lying in this comfortable glow I feel a kiss on my lips, tender and warm. For a second I just enjoy the feeling, pushing back a little, then I realise what I am doing and open my eyes, trying to scramble back in the bath. The woman is looking at me with an amused smile. “Time to get out, I think,” she says quietly.
I get up and step out, struggling with my balance against the slippery bath surface. She dries me off gently, lingering on my throat and nipples a little longer than necessary. She is watching my reactions closely and I try to ignore my confused feelings, keep my breathing steady. When I am dry she drops the towel and gets very close to me, stroking my nipples gently. Then she whispers, “I can see what Sherlock sees in you. You are very pliable.”
I whimper softly, my head telling me to run, my body telling me to let it go. She plants a gentle kiss on my throat and murmurs, “Tell me about him.”
I close my eyes, not sure what to feel anymore. Thinking about Sherlock confuses my feelings even further. I try to think what I can say about him that would not mean breaching his trust, but my thoughts are scrambled. I say, “He’s very, very clever, amazingly arrogant and incredibly perceptive.”
She’s still stroking my nipples, and says, “And…?”
I’m struggling. My deep breathing is showing my arousal, and my blushing is giving away my embarrassment. I am feeling exposed, emotionally stripped bare, and completely confused. I’m clutching at straws on how to describe Sherlock, wishing to please her while at the same time not wanting to betray him, while my feelings are threatening to overwhelm my thoughts all the time.
“He plays the violin, beautifully.” I manage. “He’s ruthless. I don’t think he’s cruel, but he’s hard, and doesn’t always know when to stop. He has no grasp of social conventions. He likes to win.”
Surely, I think vaguely, anyone could get this stuff from John’s blog.
She smiles at me, and says, “Good. I think we’re getting somewhere. Follow me.”
The woman leads me to the bed and puts the ankle cuffs on me again, not linked this time. Then she undoes the links between the wrist cuffs and gets me to lie down on my back. I am free for a moment, apart from the collar, and I have a wild vision of punching her, grabbing the keys from the desk, and jumping out of the window. She looks at me with amusement, and says, “Don’t try anything dear, you’d only regret it.”
At the same moment, she pulls my right wrist to my right ankle and links the cuffs together. If I had been planning anything I should have been quicker. My left side follows and I am immobilised again, my legs spread, feeling suddenly very vulnerable. She runs her hands between my legs, slipping a finger inside me. I know I am wet, aroused despite myself, and she smiles at me when she says, “Oh Adriane, I could tell you were going to be easy when I first saw you. How does that feel?”
She is rubbing my clit gently with her wet finger. The sensation cuts right through me and I can feel my whole body responding.
“Well?” she says, forcing me to focus.
“Good, Mistress,” I say. I try not to show her quite how good, but after a night of being threatened and tortured this is like an oasis of comfort.
“Oh, good,” she says, kissing my nipple. “Tell me some more about Sherlock. What would you say, is he straight, gay?”
I manage, “Hng. I don’t know,” my breathing threatening to take over my sentence. She takes her hand away from my clit and says, “Try to focus, dear.”
I take a deep breath and say, “I’d say he’s asexual, he takes no interest, or chooses not to. I’m not sure he thinks of anything but his work.”
“Hmm, shame,” she murmurs, her hand back on my clit. It feels good, I can’t help it. At the same time I am wondering why she is asking these questions, why she would care. She kisses my nipple again while sliding two fingers inside me. I moan, and she asks, “Have you slept with him?”
I say a dreamy yes, and she stops kissing me and gives me another one of her big, big smiles.
“Oh, really?” she says. “Tell me, what is he like?”
Her fingers are still inside me, and she is moving them gently, distractingly. Combined with the memory of Sherlock completely taking me over I find it nearly impossible to focus.
“Overwhelming,” I say. I can’t really find another way to describe it.
“Good,” she says, kissing me gently on the lips. This time I respond, my resistance completely worn down. If I am going to die, and these are my last few hours, then none of this matters and I might as well feel good. She takes hold of my hair with her other hand, and kisses me more deeply. I can’t move, I can only return the kiss, but I do it with feeling. She slides a third finger inside me.
“Hmm, “she says, “you’re enjoying this.”
I just moan quietly. She is stretching me, and the feeling is intense. She kisses me again, and now I am moving underneath her, pushing against her hand, wanting her deeper inside me. Then she says, “And what about John? Where does he fit in?”
I don’t have much coherent thought left, but I manage, “He… he listens. To John.”
“Does he love him?” she asks, at the same time sliding her last finger into me, going deeper, her thumb now on my clit. I gasp, and let out a moan, not thinking much at all anymore.
“Answer the question. Or would you like me to stop?” she whispers. I shake my head and say, “No. Please. I don’t know. I don’t know if he… can. Love anyone. Not… his style.”
She starts to rub my clit with her thumb, while slowly moving her hand in and out of me. I am moaning, barely holding on.
“And you,” she says, “do you love him?”
That is not hard to answer. I say, between moans, “Yes. I do. But he won’t have me.”
Then she is quiet for a while and the feeling takes over completely. She is kissing my breast again, running her tongue around my nipple, and I am getting closer and closer and my whole world consists of her.
Just when I think I am going to come she withdraws her hand, running her nails all the way along my body until her fingers are on my mouth, wet with my juices. I lick them, it is the right thing to do, they taste nice. She is smiling at me.
“And yet, you tell me all this stuff, giving me all these insights,” she says. “What do you think he would say if he knew?”
Guilt suddenly washes over me, emerging from the corner of my mind where it has been nagging at me all along, and I look at her, horrified.
“Oh God,” I say. “He’s going to kill me.”
Her smile broadens as she says, “No, I don’t think so. I think Jim will get there first.”
She gets up, and pulls the bell cord. When the knock on the door comes she says to the man, “Go and get Jim. I’m finished.”
My world is crashing down around me as the realisation of what has just happened hits me. I am in tears, pointless, stupid tears, guilt overwhelming me. When Jim enters the room with the Surgeon I can barely care less. He comes over to the bed and looks me over, saying, “Nice. Did you get anything?”
The woman comes over and stands next to him, saying, “She doesn’t know anything. Just trivia.”
“Well, that’s no good,” Jim says, focusing on me. “You’ve been wasting my time.”
I cannot rise to the bait, there is nothing left in me but despair. I just stare at him.
“Dose her up, Doc,” Jim says, still watching my face. “Make it something slow and painful.”
That rouses me. I don’t want to die. “No,” I say, “please. Don’t kill me.”
Jim grins at me, and says, “Give me one reason not to.”
There is nothing I can say. I will not sink so low as to offer him my services.
“There, you see. It’s a clear choice, really." He looks at me a moment, and then adds, “Oh, I know. Let’s make this a bit more fun.”
He takes something out of his pocket. I recognise it as my phone. He switches it on, and gives it a little comical wave. “Let’s send your boyfriend a text, shall we.”
He is spelling out the letters as he enters them, “H-E-L-P M-E. That should do.” He grins, then puts the phone on the woman’s desk.
“I haven’t sent it yet,” he says. “That’s your job.”
Then he gives the Surgeon a wave, and walks out of the room. “Goodbye, Adriane Woodford,” he says as he closes the door.
The Surgeon comes over with a syringe, and gives me an injection. Then he, too, leaves the room, leaving just the woman and me. She comes over to me and gives me a last look over, then bends down and kisses me. “Shame,” she says, “I would have liked to have kept you.”
“Please,” I whisper when she straightens up. “Please send that text. Please let him find me.”
She strokes my face a moment, thoughtfully, and then says, “No. Sorry.” Then she walks out of the room, closing the door behind her.
I don’t know how long I have. As soon as the door closes I begin to try getting off the bed, across the room and to the phone. Getting down is easy enough, I can move my arms and legs sideways, but as I hit the floor a wave of agony shoots through me. It is as if all my muscles are contracting at the same time, and I scream. So that’s it, I think, I am going to die on my own in a posh room, screaming.
But the wave passes, and although it leaves all my limbs feeling weak I start making my way to the desk. Halfway there, another wave hits me. Everything seizes up, I can't move at all. It lasts longer this time, and I am blinded with the pain when it recedes. My body feels terribly weak now, and I have barely got the strength to move. Still I slowly make my way to the desk, and I am nearly there when the third wave comes. I am screaming incoherently as it seems to go on forever, and when it finally finishes I can’t move for precious seconds.
I look up at the desk, and I realise that my efforts have been in vain. It is too high. I can’t reach up. If I kneel in front of it I can’t even look over the edge. There is nothing I can do, the thing is too heavy to throw over, there is nothing to hand I could sweep over the desk to knock the phone off, I can’t even climb on the chair. As the fourth wave of pain washes over me I sink to the floor in despair, and let it take me, welcoming the unconsciousness when it arrives.
The man behind the desk gets up and walks over, sitting down on a corner, smiling. He’s a pretty ordinary looking bloke, apart from the very sharp suit. Medium height, short dark hair, brown eyes with very heavy eyelids.
"Hi," he says, "I'm Jim."
Disclaimer: I do not own Sherlock and never will, he belongs entirely to himself, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and those lovely people at the BBC, as do all the other Sherlock characters. I do not make any money from this. Adriane Woodford is a figment of my imagination and does not represent a real person, living or dead.
I come to in a strange place which seems to be moving. I am lying down on a hard bed, covered in a couple of blankets, and John Watson is giving me a very concerned look. As soon as he sees my eyes open he sits back and breathes a huge sigh of relief. “Welcome back,” he says.
“Where am I?” I want to ask, but my voice isn’t working. I try again, this time managing a sound.
“Ambulance,” he says. “You’re going to Bart’s.”
I try to sit up, but my body isn’t working properly. My limbs are heavy and my chest feels as if it has been crushed by a stream roller. I also realise that I am still wearing nothing at all. I turn my head to look around, and spot Sherlock sitting in a corner, looking paler than usual.
“Feel godawful,” I say. “What happened?”
Sherlock says nothing. John clears his throat nervously and says, “Might have had to give you CPR.”
I can just manage a “What?”
John gives me another concerned look before saying, “We got there just in time, Adri. You weren’t breathing anymore.”
“Oh,” I say, as my last memories come back to me. “Jesus.”
I stay there, just looking at the ceiling of the ambulance, thinking nothing for a while other than that I am safe. The events of the day scroll through my mind, and I suddenly realise that I don’t understand how I got here at all.
“How did I get here? I never sent that text,” I say, to the ceiling more than anything.
Sherlock answers this time. “Your Phil realised something was wrong when he turned up for dinner at your house last night and you weren’t there. He very wisely contacted us rather than the police, and we’ve been trying to find you since. Unfortunately the people that took you had been rather thorough, and I only worked out where you were when your phone reappeared on the network about an hour ago.”
He looks across to me, and says, “I’m sorry, Adriane. We should have found you sooner.”
I shake my head, there is no need for him to be sorry. I’m glad to be alive.
The rest of the trip to the hospital is spent in silence. When we get there John stays with me while Sherlock disappears. John makes sure I am comfortable, then makes his excuses as well. I’m not sure how they managed to get me a single room but I am grateful, not wishing to explain anything to anybody at the moment. A doctor comes and examines me, and the nurses drop in occasionally to check. I get some medication that I don’t really understand the purpose of, but I am indifferent and just take it. Other than that I am left alone, and I sleep.
When I wake up in the morning Sherlock is standing by the window, looking out. I have no idea how long he has been there. John isn’t with him. I say hello.
“Adriane,” he says, turning to look at me.
In the cold light of day, with the full realisation of what has gone on and what could have happened, I am more grateful to see him than ever.
“Sherlock,” I say, “I never said thank you.”
“No,” he says, “you are welcome to do that now.”
I smile, and say thank you. He just nods, and walks over to the bed. I get the impression he isn’t here for a social. “Who were they, Adriane?” he asks quietly.
“I don’t know,” I say, “There was a guy called Jim, and he seemed to be the leader, but they never gave me anyone else’s real name.”
He looks at me intently and says, “Jim. Irish Jim?”
I nod, and say, “Do you know him?”
“Yes,” he says, looking serious. “You are indeed lucky to be alive. What did they want?”
This is the bit I’d rather not go through. “Personal stuff. Information. About you, Sherlock,” I say. Then I take a deep breath and say, “There was someone there that knew how to push all my buttons. I… told them things about you. I am sorry if I said anything I shouldn’t have.”
I can’t look at him, waiting for the explosion. I would rather not let on that it was a woman that managed to manipulate me like that. I’m not sure I could face him knowing quite how weak I have been.
He is looking at me, puzzled. Then he says, “Personal stuff. Why? And why should I care what they know about me?” He is talking to himself as much as to me. Then he focuses on me again, and says, “You can stop worrying, Adriane. I always knew you were a liability if it ever came to a situation like this. There is a reason you know nothing about me that’s worth knowing.”
I manage, “Oh.” It will take me a while to recover from that one. I wonder if I should tell him about the woman, but I worry that it will only prove him right. I decide to leave it.
“Anything else I need to know about them?” he asks.
“There was a medical guy. He did things with drugs. It hurt a lot. I didn’t tell him anything,” I say. I really don’t want to go over this.
He stands lost in thought for a while. Then he snaps out of it, and makes to leave. I have something on my mind, though. “Sherlock,” I say, and he stops. I carry on, “When I was… When they were doing stuff to me, I tried to block it by recalling you playing the violin. I… couldn’t remember the music. I was wondering if you would play for me.”
He walks back to the bed and looks at me. Then he says, “I’m not sure I owe you a favour, Adriane.”
I manage a tiny “OK” as he leaves the room. I haven’t felt this small for years.
I am released from the hospital two days later. On my way home I receive a text.
“Baker Street. Friday, 8 PM. I will play. SH.”
I feel surprisingly nervous as I knock on the door of the flat on Friday night. I’m not sure if I deserve to be here. Mrs Hudson opens the door and ferries me upstairs, and John welcomes me in. He seems genuinely pleased to see me, and asks me detailed questions about my recovery. Sherlock just nods his acknowledgement of my presence. We have dinner, which John has actually cooked, and I can’t help but pull his leg about it a bit.
“Well, you know,” he says, “I can’t have you believe that all we eat is takeaways and beans.”
He’s on excellent form, more than making up for Sherlock’s silence. I have to admit Sherlock is making me more and more nervous, and I am wondering if he is angry with me, and if so, why he invited me over, or whether this is about something completely different, or about nothing at all. I try to ignore it but every time I look at him he meets my eyes, until I am convinced he is playing some kind of mind game and I end up just looking at John to avoid him. If John notices any of this he is an expert at not showing it.
After dinner we move to the lounge. John and I sit on the sofa, sharing a beer, and Sherlock plays the violin. It is the same piece he played before the set-up with the trafficking gang, and as he plays I remember the music. I try to commit it to memory this time, once more not sure whether I will be invited again. The music brings back a lot of memories and I find myself snuggling up to John, who puts his arm around me. I feel safe, and comfortable, and my nervousness nearly disappears.
The piece ends, and Sherlock turns around and gives me a little bow. I smile, wipe away the inevitable tears and say, “Thank you.”
He puts the violin away and sits down. John is snoring quietly behind me, his arm still around me. Sherlock looks at us a moment, and then says, “Are you staying?”
He catches me unawares, I hadn’t even considered it an option especially after his off-hand behaviour tonight.
“Ehm,” I say, “I didn’t think you wanted me to.”
He shakes his head ever so slightly, and says, “I wasn’t thinking about me.” He looks across to John as he says it. It takes a second for the implication to register.
“What,” I say, “Oh. What? Sherlock.”
Thankfully John is still asleep. Sherlock doesn’t look like he is going to add anything else. It occurs once more to me how he effortlessly manages to completely scramble my brain with only a few words. I am struggling to get a sentence together while he is calmly waiting for me to say something.
“Eh, I never realised,” I manage, then try again, “I didn’t know that… you know, John…”
I stop as the stupidity of the statements becomes clear to me. All my nerves have come flooding back in. Sherlock is looking across to me with a wry lopsided half-smile, and says, “Clearly.”
It really doesn’t matter that I didn’t know. Sherlock obviously did.
He says, “For some reason John seems to think you are off limits.”
At least now I can see some sense again. “He is probably worried you might get jealous.”
Sherlock frowns slightly, and says, “But that’s just silly. Why would I be jealous of John?”
I try very hard to think of an answer to that, but it would entail explaining human emotions at such a basic level to him that it would be condescending. Or maybe I misjudge him, and he really is happy to share his entire life with John, including the use of me, without second thought. In the end I just say, “Normal people might.”
“You should know by now that I don’t take too much notice of what normal people might do, Adriane” he says.
“Surely,” I say after some thought, “John has a girlfriend who might think differently.”
“No,” Sherlock says, “He doesn’t. I wouldn’t have suggested it if he did.”
I’m surprised at that. I would have thought with his charm John would have no problems in finding a partner. I guess the real reason is sitting across from me, calmly considering me at the moment. Sherlock says, “Yes. All of John’s girlfriends have been unable to put up with me for more than a few weeks so far.”
And so it becomes obvious. To Sherlock it is a logical suggestion to make, something that I can do, should be willing to do, could be made to do, to make his best friend happy. Maybe it is also a way to make up a little for him taking over John’s existence. I already understand that to him embarrassment and convention are irrelevant inconveniences. I am not even sure he registers them, and clearly jealousy is another thing on that list where John is concerned. Without taking account of the way human emotions operate his suggestion makes complete sense.
“He did save your life, Adriane,” Sherlock says, when I don’t respond immediately.
Had he been anyone else there would be so many things I could say back, I don’t even know where to start. But he is Sherlock, and none of this stuff applies. I find his obvious concern for John’s happiness moving. I realise he is giving me a rare insight into his depth of feeling, something I am sure he would not have done had John been awake. It is not a hard decision.
“It would be a pleasure, Sherlock.”
He looks at me a moment, then says, “Good. Thank you.”
He stands up, discussion over, and makes to go to his room. At the door of the kitchen he stops, and says, “Goodnight, Adriane.”
If I didn’t know him better I would say that he looks momentarily lost. I am struck with the sudden insight that it might not be John he could be jealous of, but me. The whole thing falls into place and the wave of sympathy knocks me sideways.
“Sherlock,” I say, “wait.”
I carefully get off the sofa without waking John up, walk straight up to him and wrap my arms around him. He is standing rigid, probably wondering what on Earth I am doing, his muscles tense under my arms.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are lovely?” I say.
He doesn’t take a second to respond, “No.”
I smile, not surprised, and say, “Can I be the first one, please?”
I can feel him relax a little as he takes my arms and pushes me backwards a bit so that he can study my face. I look straight back at him, for once not embarrassed or afraid of what he might be able to read. Finally he says, “If you must.”
I hug him again and say, “You’re lovely.”
Now I can feel him relax as he returns the hug, and I consider what a screwed up life it is where nobody can have what they really want. Eventually he lets go and steps back. He looks at me, a little bemused, and says, “Thank you,” before he walks off.
Just before he gets to his bedroom, he turns around and says, “I would appreciate it if you kept your insights to yourself, Adriane.” He doesn’t wait for an answer, leaving me with the sofa, and John.
I sit back down and look at John. He is fast asleep, and I am at a loss as to where to start. In the end, I kiss him on the cheek and say, “John, wake up.”
He stirs, opens his eyes and looks at me, confused.
“Time to go to bed,” I say.
He vaguely mutters, “Yeah…,” looking around the room. When he realises Sherlock has gone, he looks at me again, much more awake this time, and says, “Oh.”
I smile at him. His eyes light up as he says, “Oh.”
“I wanted to say thank you, John,” I simply say, and I kiss him.
He returns the kiss without hesitation, but pulls back after a moment, saying, “Adri, what about Sherlock?”
“He says it’s OK,” I say, not sure what his reaction is going to be. It occurs to me that they are so protective of each other. He stares at me blankly, then says, “You spoke to him about this.”
I’m wondering how I can play this without letting on that Sherlock suggested it in the first place. I am still feeling guilty about everything I said to that woman last week, and the fact that I haven’t really told him about her. I don’t want to upset him any further.
“I didn’t want to cause any trouble,” I say. “To be honest, I don’t think he cares too much what I do.” If there is any regret coming through in that statement it is heartfelt. I think the rest sounds convincing enough.
John mutters something along the lines of ‘you’re as crazy as him’, then leans over and kisses me back. He is gentle, but there is a hunger there that I hadn’t anticipated, and I realise that regardless of the adventure of living with Sherlock he must be very lonely sometimes. This time it is me who is getting self-conscious after a while, knowing that Sherlock is very probably still awake and can no doubt hear us, not wanting to rub it in.
“Let’s go upstairs,” I say.
John is grinning at me as if I am giving him an early Christmas present. He says, “You really are serious, aren’t you.”
I nod, and kiss him again, and tug him off the sofa. At the stairs I stop and say, “You go first. I have no idea where I’m going.”
John’s room is bigger than I thought it would be, and tidier than any other place in the house. There are a few personal touches here and there, but other than that it doesn’t really looks like he spends a lot of time in here. He gestures me inside with a, “Welcome to my humble abode.”
I smile, and say it looks nice, and he comes over and kisses me again, much less self-conscious this time.
“So,” he says, smiling as he pulls away after a while and starts unbuttoning my shirt, “How do we do this? Do I have to tie you to the bed?”
I’m grinning by now. He’s smooth, but he’s funny with it. This should be good.
“No,” I say, “that’s not strictly necessary. But you can if you want to.”
There is a wicked glint in his eye when he says, “I’ll keep that in mind.”
I decide to surprise him a little, and while he is busy with my buttons I slide my hands under the edge of his trousers and undo the button and then the zip. He is looking mildly astonished and I can only think that he is adorable as I gently move his hands away from my shirt and kneel in front of him. I pull his trousers down but leave his pants, then pull up his shirt a bit and start kissing his stomach, making sure that I accidentally rub my face against him regularly. He is getting hard, and judging from the incoherent noises he is making I am having the desired effect.
I move my kisses down a little, until I am on his shaft, and I nibble him through his pants, running up and down his shaft but avoiding the head. His breathing is getting very deep and I can tell he is enjoying this. He is absentmindedly stroking my hair, encouraging me, and I do what feels right and pull his pants down, taking him into my mouth in the same movement.
He gasps, and lets out a low moan. I take him deeper, slowly moving my tongue around his shaft as I move up and down. His hands are holding onto my hair now, and suddenly he pulls me upwards, and says, “Stop.”
I come up. He is looking very flustered, and says, “Jesus Christ, and there’s me thinking I was meant to be in control.”
“That is also not strictly necessary,” I say, and I kiss him. I’m definitely enjoying this.
He kisses me back, and finishes undoing my buttons. He pulls my shirt half off, but then stops and holds onto the fabric, scrunching it up with one hand until my arms are pinned behind me. “That’s better,” he says, kissing my throat and running his hand over my body. I mumble something incoherent. He giggles.
Slowly all our clothes make their way to the floor. When I take his shirt off I notice a large scar on his shoulder, and it makes me stop. I touch it and say, “What happened?”
He looks at my hand, and answers, “Got shot.”
From where it is I can see that he is very lucky to be alive. I kiss it, carefully, then carry on kissing along his chest and throat until I get to his mouth again. He kisses me back, more fervently now, and slowly pushes me towards the bed. I worry for a moment that this will end with me tripping over something and landing on the floor, but then I feel the mattress against my calves and lie down.
He is on top of me quickly, kissing me all over my body, and I can feel him hard against me. He enters me, gently, teasing me, probably getting his own back for what I did to him before. He fucks me slowly, and I am moving with him, losing myself in the rhythm, just existing in the here and now and nothing else. He is careful though, as if I might break, and after a while I say to him, “I’m not made of glass, John,” as I kiss him again, seeing if I can draw him out a little. He stops and looks at me.
“You were technically dead a few days ago, Adri,” he says. “You shouldn’t even be doing this.”
That explains that, I think. First and foremost a doctor. I say, “I’ve been discharged, doctor. They didn’t say anything about not having fun. How do you know this isn’t medicinal?”
He looks at me, his face very close to mine. Then he laughs. “Tell me,” he says, “What have you done with the meek Adri? She was here a few months ago.”
He’s started fucking me slowly again, more deeply this time, and I can feel myself getting carried away. “Hng,” I say. “She grew up a bit.”
With that I can see that he lets it go, the worry, and begins to fuck me deeply, slowly at first but building up in speed, and I am holding onto him, drawing him in deeper, letting him take possession of me. He is strong, and he takes over and I feel loved and safe, and I am beginning to float towards orgasm when he suddenly stops again and withdraws.
I moan in frustration, wondering what he is doing, wanting him to carry on, but he is sliding down between my legs until I can feel his tongue on my clit, his hands on my thighs. He is licking me, running his tongue around my clit and then sliding it inside me, and it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge until I come, the waves of my orgasm washing over me as I am moaning for him to keep going.
He is quickly back on top and inside me, and now he fucks me hard, and I am carried away altogether until I don’t know up from down anymore and time loses all meaning. He comes, arching his back, and I hold onto him until he is spent, and then I kiss him, and he laughs, and rolls off me with a deep sigh.
“Oh, that was good,” he says. “Thank you.” He looks at me and adds, “I hope you enjoyed that. Even if I didn’t tie you down.”
I giggle and say, “Yes. Thank you. That was great.”
I’m not sure where we go from here, but he just rolls me over and throws the blanket over me, drawing me into a big hug. “You are staying tonight, aren’t you?” he asks.
I just say yes, of course, and snuggle into him.
He goes quiet, and I am just wondering if he has dropped off when he says, “You could say longer, you know. I’m sure Sherlock wouldn’t mind.”
I think about it briefly, and have to admit it is tempting, but I can also see that it could only end in disaster. I kiss him gently and say, “I’m sorry John. It wouldn’t work.”
He sighs, draws me closer, and murmurs, “Yeah, I know. Shame. It’s a nice thought, though.”
He goes quiet again, and after a few minutes he begins to snore. It takes a lot longer for me to fall asleep. When I do my sleep is restless, and I am not sure whether the violin music is a dream or reality.
In the morning we make love again. It is close and intimate and I have to admit to feeling a little sad that this will never get anywhere. John voices the same thought afterwards as he says, "Are you sure you can't stay? Not even for a few days?"
The idea of being caught between John and Sherlock is more than uncomfortable. "John, I can't. I don't want to come between you two. And I don't want anyone to get hurt. God, I can just imagine the arguments. 'Sherlock, stop hanging my girlfriend from the ceiling.' It wouldn't work." I'm trying to lighten the mood. Surely he must see that this is not a good idea.
He smiles, regretfully, and sighs. "Oh, you're right, I know. I should have got there first." He gives a little laugh, and adds, "You have no idea what I would give to be tall, dark and dashing. I might stand a chance then."
I kiss him and say, "You're lovely as you are. But I really don't think I am the right person for you."
When we get downstairs we find that Sherlock has gone out. I'm half glad, I'm not sure what I would have said to him. On the other hand it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, especially after the way he treated me last night. Something has remained unsaid, and now it has been left hanging.
I leave feeling uneasy, and over the following weeks there is complete radio silence from his side. My feeling of unease only increases.
Months later, coming home from work on a Friday evening, the first thing I notice is Sherlock’s coat hung up in the hallway. I slowly make my way to the door, wondering why he is here, apprehensive that he should be waiting for me. My feeling of apprehension solidifies into fear as I enter my living room and find him sitting on the sofa, looking very still and very serious, riding crop across his knees.
He doesn’t acknowledge my presence when I come in, but just points the riding crop to a point in front of him. I make my way there, wondering not what I have done, but which bit of what I have done he is here for, and what he is going to do. I try to look at him straight, but I find I can’t meet his eyes, so I settle on staring at his shirt.
He looks at me for a moment, registering my apprehension and no doubt a myriad of other things, then reaches into his pocket and passes me a photograph. I recognise the woman immediately. There is no need to say anything, he has already read my reaction.
“You might have told me about her, Adriane. It would have saved me considerable personal and potential professional embarrassment, as well as a number of months of my time,” he says. His voice is flat, measured. It is far worse than if he had been shouting at me. Anger and disappointment are radiating off him so strongly it is almost like a physical force.
I feel shaky and my legs are turning to jelly. Before I know it my knees have buckled and I have sunk to the floor, kneeling. He just raises an eyebrow and says, “Better.” I realise he is not out to spare my feelings tonight.
“Who were you protecting, Adriane, yourself or her?” he asks.
I look to the floor as I answer, “No, it wasn’t about her. I didn’t want you to think of me as any weaker than you already did. I am sorry, Sherlock. I didn’t know it was important.”
No, I think, wrong, as soon as I say it. I know it’s a lie. I don’t know what the hell I am thinking even trying to hide anything from him, and at this moment. I daren’t look at him.
He lets it hang for a moment, and then very quietly he says, “Oh, but I think you did.”
It sends shivers down my spine. I have heard that icy tone of voice before, and it was just before he clinically broke someone’s arm.
He doesn’t say anything after that, just lets the silence hang, making me squirm. Seconds stretch into minutes and still he says nothing, until I can’t stand it any longer. I look up at him, feeling very small and wretched, and say, “Punish me?”
It is not something I have ever asked anyone before. Today, I would welcome it.
He returns my gaze calmly, his face stony, unreadable. Then he says, “No. That would be too easy. You don’t find it that hard to deal with physical pain.”
He shifts his position, sitting back, considering me. I look back at the floor, unable to meet his eyes any longer, wishing for some way to redeem myself. After some time he says, “You will stay there, and you will tell me everything that happened. Everybody you saw, in as much detail as you can remember. Everything they did, everything they said, everything they asked. Everything you said, and felt, and thought.”
I look back up at him, and just say, “Felt.”
“Yes,” he says. “Everything.”
And so I do. It doesn’t take too much effort to remember, it is all is etched into my memory, but it is painful and extremely embarrassing. His eyes never leave me, reading me, adding his own deductions to my confessions. Every time I try to skip over anything because I can’t bear to relive it he makes me go over it in greater detail, asking more searching questions, until I am in tears wishing for this to stop.
He is relentless, pushing me until I have told him everything, every stupid act on my part, everything I have told the woman about him, everything I thought and felt while I was doing it, everything she did and made me do. Every so often an admiring smile crosses his face, but I know that it is meant for her, that he is appreciating her skill. When we finish I feel raw, torn to bits, completely exposed, stupid, and empty. I don’t know how long we have been here. My legs stopped having any feeling in them ages ago. All I want to do is to crawl away into a hole and hide.
And still he is not talking to me, just watching me, and I don’t know what he is waiting for, or what point he is making anymore.
“Please,” I say quietly, “Sherlock, I am so sorry. Forgive me. Please.” It comes easy now, the begging, there is nothing left of me, I am completely broken.
He smiles very briefly to himself, registering this, exposing me even more, then says, “No. Not yet. There is one more thing. Get up.”
I try, but I can’t, my legs having lost all feeling. I the end, I manage to crawl to the sofa and help myself up using my arms. He is just watching me, not offering any assistance, and I don’t ask. I stand up, and the blood returns to my legs, and it is agony for a few minutes. When my breathing returns to normal he gets up and stands in front of me. He is very close, not saying anything, waiting for something that I haven’t picked up on. I am staring at his shirt again, afraid to look him in the eye and see the disdain.
“Look at me.”
I look at him, aware that I must look a complete mess, still feeling completely exposed. His face reflects nothing at all, and his voice is level when he speaks.
“At this point you have a choice, Adriane. We can leave it at this, you experience no pain, and I walk out of the door and erase myself from your existence. I can assure you that you will never see or hear from me again. It is up to you.”
All I can so is shake my head, no. That point was passed long ago, and frankly I am surprised he is even giving me the option. Besides, I do not want to be left with this guilt, without any chance of redemption. A few involuntary tears make their way down my face as he considers me a moment and then says, “Very well.”
He calmly undresses me completely without saying a word. Then he picks up the riding crop and points it in the direction of my bedroom.
“In there, face down on the bed.”
I go without comment and he follows me. I lie down, knowing what is coming, feeling nothing anymore.
“Ten,” he says. “There will be no screaming. You will count with me and you will stay here, in this room, in the present, at all times. I will add more for any drifting off. Am I clear?”
I nod, and say yes. I’m prepared for this, in fact I want it, some way of taking his anger and pay penance, some way to move on. I don’t care how much this is going to hurt.
At the first lash I realise that everyone that has ever taken a crop or a flogger to me, other than maybe the trafficking gang leader, has been holding back. The pain is beyond anything I have experienced. I can’t help it, I scream, burying my head in the pillow to drown the sobs.
“Count,” Sherlock says calmly, “Unless you want that one down as practice. And apologise for screaming.”
I manage to get it out between the sobs, “One. Sorry.”
“No,” he says, “a proper apology.”
I manage to bite back the obscenities with the tears and say, “I. am. sorry. Sherlock.”
I have just enough time to take a breath before he puts down the next one. I am only slightly more prepared, and manage to stifle the scream in my pillow. When I have some air back I count two.
He pulls the pillow away from under my head and says, “Now, show me some self-control, Adriane.”
His voice sounds scathing, and it hurts, I want him to think better of me than this but I realise that at this moment he has no reason to. I grab onto the stiles of the bed, close my eyes and hold my breath, focusing everything I have left on keeping quiet. I manage, just, although it doesn’t stop the sobbing or the tears.
By the sixth lash I am incoherent. I am managing to count, but other than that the adrenaline and the endorphins and the sheer pain are taking over. I can feel myself beginning to float, and I am now rambling an ongoing apology with all the words I can find, and begging him to stop, and throwing out a long stream of muted obscenities when the pain hits. He is ignoring all of it, systematically covering my back and buttocks. My whole body is on fire.
By the eighth or ninth lash I have lost count. I am frantically searching my mind for the last number but it is gone in a haze of pain and adrenaline. He taps me gently on the buttock with the riding crop, saying, “Nine, Adriane. Come back here and we’ll try that one again.” He doesn’t sound angry now, just amused. I’m not sure what is worse.
No time to think as the pain hits. I swear it is in the exact place he lashed me just before, and it is enough to make me feel sick. I suppress the scream, and let the sobbing and the apologies run their course. I count nine, desperately holding on to any sensible thought, not wishing to lose track again. One more, I think, one more and all this is over, and I will never ever make the same mistake again.
He puts down the final lash squarely across my buttocks. It hurts, but not as badly as the previous one, and the relief of being done blocks out half of the pain. I have managed to count ten by the time he has come over and sat down next to me on the bed. He looks as calm as ever, but maybe not as tense as before. I carry on apologising, the words falling from my mouth nearly automatically now, in synch with the tears from my eyes.
After a while, he puts his fingers over my mouth, gently, and says, “That will do.”
I stop, and try to get a grip on my breathing, and take stock of where I am. I can’t feel my hands, and when I look I see they are nearly welded to the stiles of the top of the bed, cramped up, my knuckles completely white. For the moment I can’t move them and I decide to leave it, too exhausted to care. Instead I look back at Sherlock, who is just watching me.
“Please,” I say quietly, one final time. “I am sorry, Sherlock. Forgive me.”
He doesn’t speak immediately, but first peels my hands off the bed and rolls me on my side, so I can look at him properly. Then he says, “I forgive you for the things you told that woman. I said at the time that I didn’t really care, and to be honest, I met her. You didn’t stand a chance against her. In any case I have dealt with her. So that is easily done.”
He stops a moment, thinking, and I wonder what else there is, what else I have to do before he can clear me completely.
“It is not so easy to forgive you for dishonesty, Adriane. I’ve known you were hiding something from me for months but I thought it was more of your usual emotional trivia. I didn’t for one moment think it would be something essential. The fact that deep down you knew it makes it worse. I understand you are sorry, and you want forgiveness, but this is more serious than can be fixed with an apology and a few lashes with a riding crop. You owe me a debt, and I will forgive you on the condition that I can call that in at any time, without question, for any purpose I choose.”
He stops and leans over me, his mouth very close to my ear, and says quietly, “And then there is this. I don’t give one iota about your feelings, whether that be embarrassment, shame, fear or whatever else. If there is ever anything that concerns me, anything at all, you tell me, in detail, at the first opportunity. I do not believe there is a need for me to elaborate. I hope I am clear.”
I don’t have to think about it, I say yes, as wholeheartedly as I can muster with a voice that is hoarse from crying. To be honest, he might as well put a collar on me and have the thing over with as far as I am concerned, because at this moment he has complete control over me and I would agree to pretty much anything. All I want is to be clear of his disappointment and anger.
“In that case,” he says, sitting up again, “you are forgiven.”
I cry the few tears that are left and say thank you. He rolls me on my front again and inspects my back, touching my skin here and there. After a while he says, “I regret that that was necessary. I cannot afford the luxury of being unsure of your loyalties, Adriane.”
I find myself telling him it’s OK, I had it coming, and he gives me the oddest look. I roll back onto my side, wondering what he is thinking.
He sighs, sounding resigned as he touches my throat lightly, and then says, “You have a great need to be claimed by somebody as their own, haven’t you, Adriane. Would it help if I told you that I owned you? Does that make it clearer where you stand?”
I just stare at him, those extraordinary eyes, completely at a loss for words. Eventually I say, “Would you do that?” I can barely hear my own voice.
He smiles ever so slightly when he says, “Adriane, I do own you. I have owned you since you first walked through the door at Baker Street and offered me the use of your body. I choose to let you carry on with your own life because, frankly, it works better for everyone involved. But that doesn’t change the basic facts.”
It takes some time for this to sink in. Then I say, “Thank you.”
He smiles momentarily. “Good.”
I take his hand and kiss it. Then I say, “I’m sorry. I was being selfish and stupid. It won’t happen again.”
“I know,” he says, matter-of-fact. Then he adds, “The next time you feel you ‘have it coming’, Adriane, you let me know as soon as you realise you have done something stupid, and we will sort it out there and then.”
I just nod. There is nothing to say.
He gets up, finished with what he came for, and says, “I don’t think there will be any scarring, but you have John’s number in case you need any medical help. Goodnight, Adriane.”
He leaves, and I stay in bed for two days. Not a hair on my head considers phoning John and having to explain what happened. By Monday I can sit down again and I go to work. When I get back home there is a package in the post. Inside is a beautiful small box containing a thin silver chain. It has unusual little round links, and is obviously meant to be worn on its own without a pendant. At the bottom of the box is a note.
“Wear it. SH.”