Chapter 1: Caught
These men were ruthless. I didn't know what to do. I was frozen to the ground, and completely unable to move. I couldn't hear anything that was being said, over the pounding of my heartbeat in my ears. I had experienced the attacks before, but normally I was paired up with someone who knew what the hell they were doi"ng! Right now we were all encircled by about 15 guys, with guns pointed in our faces. Everyone was panicked. There were about 12 of us still breathing, and I was beginning to think that possibly not breathing would be better. There were two of those thugs standing in front of me, like I was really that much of a threat to their security. They were eyeing me like Sunday dinner, and I was trying to avoid eye contact. I wasn't a fighter, not even close, considering I had been passed around like a sex doll since everything went to shit. I'd tried to fight back in the beginning, but when that backfired, I learned just to take it and save myself some grief.
The wind was blowing in a storm, and the cold, coastal air made me shiver. I tried to keep my eyes on the ground in front of me, but when a new set of boots stood in front of me, I couldn't help but look up.
"My, my, what have we here?"
His voice was smooth, with a bit of rasp to it. As I looked up, I caught sight of his smile before the rest of his face. I shivered hard against the wind, as it blew hair across my face. This man knelt down, brushed the strands of hair from my face and I flinched, thinking that he was going to take a hold of me, like so many in the past before.
"What's wrong, darlin'? I'm not going to hurt you." He paused, and I said nothing, just blinked. "Pretty girls like you aren't so easy to find these days, mostly because the lot of you can't do shit to save yourselves, and end up getting yourselves killed." He rose to his feet, and continued talking to me. "Someone's taken the time to make sure you stay out of harm's way, for the most part, and for that I'm thankful. Now, which one of you do I have to thank for that? Hm? Surely one of you here called this pretty, little lady your own."
"The bitch is mine!" The words came from our self-appointed leader. He was a disguising pig of a man who had traded my life for 4 guns, about 6 months ago.
"What's your name, friend?" The man said, making a stride over to talk to his new target.
"Well, Bill, I take it you're the person who also gave her that split lip, then, too?" Bill didn't say anything, but it was true. Normally, he wouldn't do anything to my face, but he wasn't above breaking a rib or two when I did something he didn't approve of. However, when I pulled a knife on him, the last time he tried to force himself upon me, he broke his own rule and popped me in the mouth. That was 2 days ago.
"I don't take kindly to men who take their frustrations out on women."
"She got what she had coming to her," Bill said.
Negan swung the baseball bat he held in his right hand, eerily close to Bill's head. Negan looked back over in my direction and smiled.
"Well, maybe you got what's fucking coming to you, as well."
I looked away right before the wood made contact with Bill's head, but the sound was enough to paint a vivid picture in my mind. This was by far something I've never experienced before, and once was enough. I lost count with how many hits Negan delivered to Bill before he stopped, but it was at least 10 if not more. Covering my ears did nothing, and as I slowly uncovered them, I couldn't help from looking over at the grisly scene. Negan's face was covered in blood splatter as he paced the line we were kneeling in.
"Now, any more of you want to meet the same end? No? Yeah, I didn't think so."
Negan made his way back over to me, and this time I was more scared of him than the time before. Don't get me wrong, it was nice to know that Bill got a fate he deserved, but come on...
"Now, I have an ultimatum for you, darlin'."
Immediately, I thought I might meet the same fate, as I'm the type of person that always thinks the worst first, but even though his face was speckled it blood, his expressions seemed genuine.
"How would you like to get away from these people?"
I looked at him completely confused. What did he mean exactly? I wasn't about to ask him specific questions. Truthfully, I wasn't sure I could have formed words if I had tried.
"I'm offering you to come with me, to a place where you'll never have to worry about your survival again. You'll no longer wonder if you'll have food from one day to another, and you won't have to worry about being someone's personal punching bag."
I blinked quickly, still trying to process everything that he had said, and the fact that it seemed way to good to be true. I had heard some of the men, from this group, mention a man named Negan before. They were saying how they'd never do anything he said, and that what they owned was theirs and no one was going to just stroll in and take it without a fight. Well, none of them seemed too eager to get in a fight right now. Funny how some can talk a big talk but can't even back it up when the time comes...
"What's the catch?" I managed to squeak out.
"So the canary can sing?" He said, looking at me, again, with that smile from before. "Catch? I do suppose there is a 'catch'. Catch is, is that you agree to be a wife of mine, of sorts. Since you don't seem to have anybody you're tied to, as I've dealt with poor, 'ol Bill, here, I won't have to worry about you runnin' back to an old boyfriend or anything. Now, if I catch you fucking around with any of my men, then he's gonna be thinking that that pussy of yours really wasn't worth all the trouble.
I furrowed my brows. So I'm going from being raped by Bill, to being raped by the man who just splattered his brain over the ground...?
"Now, if you play by the rules, we won't have a problem here." Negan took in a deep breath, while he waited for my answer. Quickly, I mulled it over, as it was apparent that he wasn't the type of guy that would wait around forever. If what he said was true, the whole not having to worry about survival-thing would almost be worth any price, because in this day and age, that was your main priority. I've had to give myself to men before, against my will, so what if it happened again... There wasn't anything I could do to stop him.
"Okay." I said, meekly. "I'll do it."
Back again, came that sly, grin from the corners of his mouth. Why did it excite me to some degree? But on the other end of that, it scared the hell out of me!
"Now, that's a good girl." Negan said, helping me to my feet. I hadn't realized how badly my right ankle was hurting before, as result of me falling down into a hole, while trying to evade one of Negan's men when they ambushed us. If it hadn't been for that, I might have made it farther than I had.
Regardless, I was now changing hands once again, be it by my own decision, this time. Would things prove differently this time around? I wasn't holding my breath.
With each limping step, I could feel my left leg trying to go out from under me. Negan's group had more cars than I had seen, in one place, and that actually ran, since everything had gone down hill. I was hoping that whatever I was being transported in, wouldn't be too much farther. The wind was beginning to really pick up, and the sky had turned from just an overcast grey, to a deep charcoal-like black. It seemed like the remnants of a tropical storm were about to hit, as not long after, did the wind pick up, did the rain drops begin to start falling.
"Looks like all fucking hell is about to let loose. We've got a good little drive back to Sanctuary." We stopped at one of the first cars we came to, which was an old muscle car, whose paint had almost looked matte with fading. He walked me to the passenger side of the car, and told me to get in.
"I'll get someone to look at you when we get back." Negan said as he stood leaned up against the car.
"What's Sanctuary?" I asked, fastening my seatbelt.
"Haha," he laughed at seeing this. "What the fuck are you doing?"
I couldn't say anything. It was just an old world habit, of sorts. I really hadn't realized what I had done. Slowly, I unbuckled it, and let it slide back to its resting position. I kept my gaze from his, but I knew that he was still looking at me.
"I don't care if you're trying to be all safe and shit-"
I remained quiet.
"Sanctuary is your new home. You'll see it soon enough. Now, I have to go deal with the rest of this lot. Don't you go anywhere." Again, he laughed, because with my injury, where the hell was I going to run off to? With the door closed, I wasted no time, sticking my face to the cool glass and watched as the rest of the meeting played out. No one else met Bill's fate, no matter how much I wanted it to happen. I couldn't quite tell what he was saying, but whatever it was, he meant it, as his physical gestures conveyed it. Negan caught me looking at him when he finally made his way back to his car, with the rest of his henchmen in tow. I sat back down in the seat shortly after and remained quiet once he entered the car.
Rain began to pour down in sheets as he slammed the car door shut and wiped water from his brow.
"It's any wonder any of y'all survived as long as you did."
Negan was muttering something about the integrity of the group I was with, but I wasn't paying attention. It was true. They were nothing more than just dumb muscle, ordered around by someone just a hair more intelligent than themselves. They couldn't think for themselves if their lives depended on it, and that showed today. As the car lurched into drive, I was snapped out of my daze.
"Wait, what about my stuff?" I asked, as we began to drive away.
"You won't be needing it anymore."
"But...! Please, you have to let me go back and grab something!" I was pleading with everything I had. Both my voice and face were doing all they could to convince him to stop the car. I could tell he didn't want to let me win this.
"You have five minutes," he said, in a gruff tone that sent shivers down my spine. I showed him where to pull over at, and I quickly limped my way into the building where he all holed up at. It took me longer than the five minutes that Negan had allotted me, but there was nothing I could do about it in my current state. All I was after was a small, metal box that I had managed to keep with me, through everything I had been through. Inside, were a bunch of small trinkets from my past life, photos of my parents. It was a time capsule, really. A place for me to escape to, when this hell became too much to handle. If I were to have left without it, I'd have been devastated. I knew I'd never see this place again.
"Yep." I placed the box on my lap. "Thank you."
Negan didn't say anything in response, but started off on the path we were originally headed on before I caused the detour. If it wasn't for the pounding of the rain outside, the awkward silence would have been too much to handle. Not too much longer, I felt my eyelids getting heavy. My head rested against the window and counted the swipes of the wiper blades before finally falling asleep.
Inside my head, Negan's bat made contact with Bill's head the same time the tree outside snapped in two and woke me from my slumber. I was breathless from the startling awakening, and had forgot exactly where I was. My head whipped around and once my eyes caught sight of Negan in the drivers seat, it all came rushing back to me. It seemed like a common occurrence of Negan smiling in my presence, and I knew it was because the things I was doing at the time, he found comical, even though they weren't particularly funny in their nature. The weather outside was worse than it had been before I had dozed off, and I had no idea how long I had been out.
"How much farther do we have to go?" I asked, massaging my neck where it was now stiff, from where I had laid wrong against the window.
"Well, we'd have been there by now if it wasn't for this damn storm rollin' in like it had. I'd say we're about forty-five more minutes away."
Forty-five minutes? Really? "You drove all the way out here to bash Bill's skull in?"
"He's been trying to delay this little meeting for a while."
Explains why the hell he's been so paranoid lately.
It was silent for a moment before he asked another question. "I realized I never asked what your name was."
"Juliet," I said, with my eyes transfixed on the road in front of us. "The only think I ask of you, is that you never call me Julie."
"And why is that?" Negan asked.
"Because it makes me feel like a middle-aged woman."
This time, he laughed, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see him look over in my direction, however, I didn't look back. The storm was making me nervous, and I just wanted to get where we were going as soon as possible.
X X X X X
From the back glass, it was impossible to see any of the other vehicles that were in tow with us, back to this place named Sanctuary. This rain was out of control. I was surprised that the roads weren't flooded, what with all the downed trees and debris everywhere.
"How are you doing? Not heard anything out of you."
"I'm not a fan of storms like these."
"Are you serious?" Negan's voice had a teasing tone to it.
"Yes. I'm serious." I crossed my arms. "I prefer to enjoy them from the safety of four walls and a roof."
"As long as the roads remain clear, we're maybe ten minutes out, at this speed."
I still couldn't wrap my head around what I had just got myself into. But, this was the new world, and the conventional ways of the past no longer held the same meaning. Like this whole "marriage" thing, for instance. I might be rather naive from time to time, but I was aware that this wasn't going to be a traditional marriage. It was, more than likely, going to be exactly what Bill put me through, just with a man who was better at getting what he wanted.
I was trying to give him a shot, as the only thing I had to go on, was his immense show of power with that damned baseball bat. Negan kept looking over at me, from time to time, and yet I never returned the glance. I was cold, tired and just generally stressed out. I had no idea what time it was, but I knew it was sometime in the afternoon.
When the car began to go into a turn, I watched, through the storm a growing expanse of metal form before in the distance. Was this the place that Negan had mentioned? Then I heard this noise. It was a noise that instantly put you on edge. It was the sound that the walking dead made. They were close, but Negan didn't bat an eye.
"Where is that coming from?" I asked him. "It sounds like a lot of them."
"They're not going anywhere," Negan replied, as we drove around another bend in the road. The sound of a chain link fence closing behind us.
"What do you mean?"
"We're using them a lawn decorations."
My face scrunched up at what he said. "They aren't play things!"
"Everything is a 'play thing', to me, darlin'. What do you think you are?"
I was speechless. I couldn't snap back, I couldn't make an angry face. I was just dumbfounded, but then again, dammit - I should have known better! I stayed quiet till the car came to a halt.
"There's no reason to pout. Come on, let's go."
The car had been pulled into some kind of loading bay, of sorts, where more vehicles lay parked within it. As I opened the door, the spell of dirty metal filtered into my nose. It smelled like mechanic's dream. My ankle was still a nuisance, and I was not noticing the throbbing that it was doing as I applied weight to it. Keeping my hand on car for balance, I scooted myself around to the front of the car where Negan was waiting for me.
"Doesn't seem like you're doing too well."
Still, I stayed quiet.
"Come on. Let's get you fixed up." And with that he lifted me off my feet and began walking us deeper into this compound. As I was startled, I didn't seem to notice that I had placed my hand on his chest for security. As I looked up at him, I caught sight of that villainous smile again. My eyes lingered on his face for a moment, before looking elsewhere. I wasn't going to let him win everything.
X X X X X
I still didn't know where I was, but it wasn't any place I wanted to be by choice. Though the medical equipment looked up to date enough, it was the atmosphere of the room that gave me the creeps. It was very large for no more stuff that was in it, which added to the weirdness of it all. I never considered myself an overly spiritual person, but this room had seem some dark times. The air was just unnaturally heavy. And here I was, sitting on a table, alone with my mind wandering. Negan had left me there to go and find the "doctor", and when he returned, I had to admit, that I was glad.
The man that came in with Negan was a stick of a thing: scrawny and sickly looking in the face. His eyes looked unnaturally wide open, and bloodshot as I looked into them. Quickly, my gaze darted to Negan's who assessing the situation.
"Thoughts?" He asked, his words almost echoing in the vastness of the room.
"I don't think it's broken." The doctor's voice was nasally, like he was trying to sound more important than he was. When he grabbed a hold of my ankle and twisted it, the pain shot through my whole body, and by reflex I kicked him square in the jaw. From his squatted down position, he fell backwards with a thud and smacked his head into a rolling, instruments tray. Oh, I was pissed. If my ankle wasn't broken before, it might be now! Negan didn't hold back his laughs, when this all transpired, and the doctor was furious. He stood back to his feet, straighten his clothes and kept his distance.
"Ice it and keep it elevated." He said, still glaring at me with his bug eyes. "She can't be hurting to bad." He rubbed his jaw, and left the room with a huff. Negan, still in an hysterical shock strode across the waxed floor proceeded to life me into his arms like I was some kind of Disney princess. I was paying more attention to the current state of my ankle than to him, at this point, but I was able to hear him say something about finding me something to take for the pain.
"I wasn't expecting that to happen. That was a pretty good hit!"
"Well, I wasn't expecting him to wring my ankle like a wash cloth!" I could feel my face getting hot. What a dumbass!
Negan smiled and walked me out of the infirmary and down a long, and well lit corridor. "One hell of a day you have had."
Sorry for the shitty ending! D:
Trying to get this post done before we closed at the office, and we were short handed today, and I wasn't able to get a whole lot done! I promise, the next one will (hopefully) make up for it! I won't be back writing till Sunday night, so nothing posted till Monday afternoon!
Your support for this, so early on, has been great!
Chapter 3: Homecoming
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay late in posting this! My apologies! It's not the best chapter I've ever written, and I may have moved things faster than I had done anything previously, but hopefully I'm just over-thinking it! Since parts of this were rushed, and I'm partially dyslexic, I do apologize in advance for any missed words, wrong words, or words out of order that you might encounter. My brain runs quicker than my fingers, so at times, thing are all askew. I try to proof everything before I submit it, but sometimes in reading through, I read it as I had imagined beforehand, not necessarily HOW I actually typed it... WHOOPSIE!
We exchanged no words as we crossed through corridor after corridor. As we passed several people, I kept my head laid against Negan's chest. I could feel their eyes on me, and I was just done being gawked at. They said nothing to him, just moved out of his way and went about whatever it was they were doing, before we got there.
The size of this place was crazy! I had lost count of the passing time, but it seemed like we had been walking for nearly 10 minutes. Now, we were ascending a staircase, and passing by several, large windows. Through the foggy screens, I could tell that the storm was still raging outside. From the lower levels, nothing could be heard from the storm, but as we kept going up, the volume only grew louder. Sheets of metal, come loose from years of disrepair on the outside of the building, slammed hard the wind. We soon left that stairwell and entered into another, vacant hall.
I was surprised by the state the entire factory was in. The walls and floors were clean, and there was no pungent smell of grease or oil that one might expect to find in a place once full of machinery. Really, if just felt like an industrial apartment building, which was more or less, what they were going for.
Negan stopped at the end of the hall; an unmarked door several feet away from any of the other doors on the floor. After he put me down, I placed a hand against the wall, to keep my balance stable, while I kept all my weight off my damaged ankle. I could feel it throbbing again, and it made my face contort due to the uncomfortable sensation. Once the door to the room was opened, Negan picked me back into his arms, and carried me over the threshold.
The room surprised me. It was large and seemed to act more like an office than a bedroom. There were crude maps on the wall with place markers circled on them. There were papers everywhere, really. Not all of the room's lights were on, so other parts were dark, and I wasn't trying to snoop about. Negan walked me to the bed, and set me down upon it.
"You weren't on my agenda for the day, so I don't have a place for you yet. So for now, you'll be staying in here, with me."
I looked up at him with what felt like a fearful expression, as his eyes narrowed as he looked back. I didn't care where I was staying, as long as I was safe, and so far, Negan had done that. Right now, I just didn't want to be left alone, and I knew he wasn't going to stay with me until evening.
"Okay." My voice was soft. I caught feeling of my ankle again and tried to wiggle my toes, but it hurt to do even a little thing like that.
Negan had watched my eyes drift down to the floor and to my injury. "You hold tight, I'll go get you something for that. Can you think of anything else?"
I had never had anyone ask me if I wanted anything, since all of this shit happened. I for sure, didn't expect it from him. I shook my head no, but he asked me again, like he knew I was unsure.
"No, but thank you."
He stood there for a moment, before leaving my side. "Open this door for no one."
"Okay." I replied adjusting myself on the side of the bed to be able to see him by the door.
"I'll be back."
I watched him leave, and when the door shut behind him, I took a deep breath and let myself fall backwards on the bed. I could not believe all that had happened today. It felt like a nightmare. I stared up at the ceiling for a while before I let my lids flutter closed. It wasn't long until I was out cold.
When I finally woke back up, I wasn't in the same position had been in before dozing off. I was laying, like you were supposed, only my foot was also on top of a pillow, and with a bag of melted ice water laying on it like deflated waterbed. I sat up real quick, wondering where I was for a moment, before realizing that I was still in Negan's room.
He was across the way, studying that map that was pinned to the wall. When he caught my movement out of the corner of his eye, he spoke.
"I tried to wake you for about 5 minutes." He laughed." Thought you dead there for a minute."
"Glad to see you didn't put a knife though my eye." I replied.
Negan gave me grin and went back to whatever it was he was working on before I woke up. I sat up in the bed and took a moment to get reacquainted with my new surroundings. I couldn't hear the storm anymore, but the windows in the room were covered.
"How are you feeling?"
I pulled the water bag from my ankle and assessed my situation, but it was still the same. My foot was swelled so much and it looked nothing like a normal foot, and it was purple. The more I looked at it, the more it seemed like I could see it throbbing. I pulled my eyes from the sight and put them on Negan.
"I was hoping the swelling would have gone down..."
Without saying a word, he brought my a glass of water from his desk and from his pocket game me 3 red pills. "I couldn't wake you to give you these. They should help with that, temporarily. Like I told you, you don't have to work for your keep here, so don't worry about your ankle. I'll never put you to work, so for all I fucking care, just lay there."
His abrupt reply caught me off guard, but by this point, it really shouldn't have. However, I did notice little things that had changed in his demeanor. And it all had to do with the way that he treated me. He practically put me to bed, put a pillow under my ankle, and brought me pills for the pain. Bill would have told me to take care of it myself, or put a bullet in my skull like a lame horse. This didn't quite seem like the way a man like him would act. I mean, I was, essentially, a possession: just an item to be admired and used. Why would he care how I was doing? Why had he changed all of a sudden, and I noticed that I had changed how I was acting as well. I was no longer being such a bitch, and actually giving him a shot. It was odd, but I blamed it on that asshole of a "doctor"; I was so busy dealing with the pain, that my fake front of a wall had dissolved. And waking up, seeing that he had taken the time to move me and tend to my ankle, helped as well.
There came a pounding at the door. I jumped at the abrupt sound and looked at Negan for reassurance. His brows had pulled together as he looked toward the direction of the door.
"Lay back down. Act like you're still asleep." He whispered to me, taking back the glass of water from before. I shimmied back down upon the mattress and turned my face away from the door. Not long after did I hear the door open and a conversation proceed.
"What am I supposed to do with them?" said I voice I was unfamiliar with. I assumed that this guy wasn't with the raiding party that had rounded us up.
"Same as all the others. What else are you supposed to fucking do with them?" Negan replied. He sounded aggravated, or maybe this was just how he sounded? It was too early for me to know all of his quirks. All I knew that with me, he was either a smartass, or this oddly sweet character. I had an inkling that he was probably a dick to everyone else. However, he was oddly charismatic, like he wanted you to trust him, but at the same time, wanted to scare the shit out of you! Mission accomplished.
"I have no use for a bunch of cowards."
"I have little use for a pile of shit, but I make due with you. Now, find 'em something to do, or I'll get Lucille to read you the fucking riot act!"
It was hard not to smile at what Negan had said, but I tried my hardest. I could feel somewhat of a pull to the corners of my lips. When the door shut, I peaked one eyes open before sitting up again. He didn't look too happy, nor would I have blamed him.
"Well, that was fun..." I brushed some hair behind my ear. When I looked up again, his eyes were upon me.
"He knows his place."
Negan brought me back the glass of water, and sat on the edge of the bed, while I took the pain pills.
"Thank you." I said, still holding the glass. "I haven't have a glass of water, without anything floating in it, since everything went..."
He smiled. "When was the last time you had anything to eat?"
I sat there for a second, and pondered his question, but he interrupted my train of thought.
"If you can't remember, it's been too long. You're skin and bones already."
I crossed my arms, in a hopeless attempt to hide that he was right. Bill used food as a reward for me, and because I couldn't stand the asshole, I didn't get to eat all that often. When I looked back up, there Negan was, looking at me again. I shyly smiled at him.
"I need to go see if Spencer did what the fuck I told him, so while I'm making my rounds, I'll grab you something."
"Oh, okay." He was leaving me again.
"Something wrong?" He had obviously noticed my change in expression, so I quickly shook it off.
"No, no, I'm just tired."
"Lay back down then. Hard telling how long I'll be gone." He had a point, the bed was inviting, and I was dying for a full night's sleep. I nodded and nestled myself back down in bed. I winced at the pain of shifting my ankle.
"I do have a favor to ask you." I asked.
"Can you find me something I can use to wrap my ankle? And ACE bandage, or even strips from a t-shirt?"
"I'm sure we've got something you can use. This'll gonna cost ya." He raised an eyebrow. My eyes grew wide and I blinked a few times before coaxing a smile out of him. I rolled over to my side, with my back to the door. It seemed that my ankle did better when it was laying flat against the pillow, but getting there had been a lovely experience... Before he left, Negan, grabbed the covers, that had been pulled aside, and gently draped them over me. I smiled and snuggled deeper into the pillow. What the hell was wrong with me? I mean, yeah, he was over the top charming, and I was falling for it, but could I really have him wrapped around my finger this easily? This had to be too good to be true... Right?
Chapter 4: Curse the Beauty
Three weeks had passed since I had found myself in this new place. My ankle was healing up, and I kept it wrapped now, instead of using the crutches that I had been. I kept to myself whenever Negan had to leave me and do his business. I wasn't interested in making "friends" with the other wives. They had felt that I had been getting special treatment since arriving, and made a point that they didn't appreciate some newcomer coming in here and pushing them aside. I, however, didn't feel like I had done anything. It wasn't like I had come here with an agenda of taking over, but that's how they saw things.
This morning, I was outside, just wandering around when the majority of people went about their daily lives, and their jobs. Where I was, in particular, was where a lot of the items gathered were recorded and stored. No one, who worked around there, seemed to care that I was around. I made sure that I wasn't in the way, but I was curious. They seemed to be cataloging a mess of things, and some of the people going through it all thought it was trash.
"The fuck is all this shit?" he said a raspy voice, as he dug through a linen bag, throwing item after item onto the ground, kicking some of it aside with his boot. There were books among the discarded items, and it was just the thing I was wanting. I slowly walked up there, and they didn't seem to notice me until I picked it up.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing, bitch?" Said the man with the thick, black mustache.
"I'm taking this book. Why? Are you going to use them?"
"'Course not. What the fuck are we going to do with books?" Replied the second man.
"Then what's the problem?" I said, furrowing my brow, and standing my ground for the most part.
The mustached man slammed his papers down and approached me, I still clenched the book as if my life depended on it, but it wasn't enough. He reached out, and tore the book from my hand, leave red marks on my palms.
"You think that just because you're Negan's favorite whore at the moment, that if give you the first pickin's of anything around here? I don't care if it's a fucking book, or a goddamn used condom! You're no better than anyone else here. Now, get the fuck out of here before I drag your ass somewhere where no one will hear you scream!"
I didn't argue with him, for I felt like he'd hold his word. They laughed at me as I walked away. I could still hear them in my head even once I was far enough away from them for it not to matter. I had turned the corner, headed back to one of the main entrances of the compound's main housing building when I ran into Negan. Almost literally, in fact.
"What's wrong, darlin'?" He said, blocking my path.
I shook my head, knowing good and well that he was going to see through that lie. I knew he wasn't going to let me leave unless I told him, however, I didn't want to come off as a whiny child, someone who couldn't take care of herself.
"Don't make me ask again." He said, as I quickly shot my eyes up to meet his. His face looked inquisitive, and not harsh like I felt it had. It didn't match his voice at all. I thought for a moment before I spoke. I just didn't know how to word what had happened, nor how I was feeling.
"Clearly it's not, or you wouldn't be lookin' at me like someone just kicked your puppy. Tell me what's wrong? Did someone hurt you?"
"No, just threatened to." I said dropping my eyes down to stare at the bat that was in his hands.
"Who the fuck was it?"
"I-I don't know his name. He's shorter than you, dark brown hair, mustache...scar on his jaw line. He was cataloging the items that were brought in this morning."
Negan scowled. "Sounds like Grant. What made him say this to you? You don't seem the type to instigate shit like this."
"I was just wandering about, and saw him going through a bag that had some books in it, and he was all mad about it, and threw the bag to the ground. I didn't care what they were about, I was just wanting something to read, so I walked up and took one, and that's when he went off on me. Ripped the book from me. Told me that just because I was 'your favorite whore at the moment, I wasn't entitled to whatever I wanted', and that if I didn't leave him alone he'd drag me somewhere no one could hear me scream... I feel like such a tattle-tale."
"You're entitled to whatever you fucking what, as far as I'm concerned. They know they can't speak to you like that. He's below you; not above you. " I watched his hand tighten on the handle of Lucille, and my heart began to race. "I want you to go back there and get what you want from this morning's delivery."
I looked him in the eye with fear. I really didn't want to go back there. I felt like I'd be content watching the grass grow to pass my time, but I knew I had no choice.
"Do as you're told." He ushered with a tip of his chin. Slowly, I turned away from him and started off toward where I had just come from. With a deep sigh I turned the corner, held my head higher and tried to give myself a peptalk, but it was worthless once I caught sight of them again.
"Bitch, what did I tell you?" Grant said to me.
"What did you tell her? I'm just dyin' to know," said Negan as he came around the corner, a smirk on his face as he past me. I looked back at Grant, who had gone blank in expression. "Heard you threatened one of my girls."
Grant said nothing. Course Negan asked him when he wasn't answering him, and Grant choked out some words.
"Do I need to make a public example out of you?"
By this point I had picked up the book, and held it tightly across my chest. Negan looked over at me and asked me of there was anything else I wanted.
"Anything at all, darlin'. It's yours."
I really just wanted to leave, but best do as I was told. Quickly, I skimmed the area and noticed the red wrapper of a Kit-Kat in Grant's front, shirt pocket. With short steps I walked over to him, looked him not in the face, but snatched the candy from his shirt and turned heel and stepped back to Negan's side. He was grinning with joy at this point, but Grant was all but shaking in his boots. Negan sent me on my way, but once I got further enough away, I hid to be able to see what happened before Negan left. Whatever he was saying had Grant's full attention, as well as the man beside him. Once Negan was finished, he strode off and Grant got back to work, silent and like none of this had transpired.
I snuck between warehouse buildings until I managed to catch back up with him again. As I walked behind him, I tore open the candy bar, and took a bite. It wasn't the most fresh Kit-Kat I had indulged in, but dammit it was a great, quick fix. Negan heard me shuffling behind him, and looked over his shoulder.
"Here!" I said, extending my arm out to him, offering half the candy bar to him as a kind of a thanks. He didn't take it, told me to keep it, as I was the one who deserved it. People all around us were kneeling as Negan past by them, but he was only paying attention to me, which seemed so out of character for him, as he normally kept this type of acting to behind closed doors.
"You done causing problems for me?" He said with a smirk.
My expression dropped. Sometimes was hard for me to be able to tell when he was joking for not.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't want to cause you any..."
"Don't. I'm not interested in an apology."
I opened my mouth to speak, but quickly shut it.
"If he's smart that should be the last time that he gives you an trouble, but we'll see." Negan said as I followed him to where more of the "common" workers did their daily jobs. "Should it happen again, do not hesitate to tell me. Do you understand?"
I gave him my word almost immediately. I learned my lesson. Negan would tolerate no disrespect to himself or his "wives", and apparently, I needed to realize that I was to be treated differently here, than anywhere else I had found myself.
"I've got some shit I have to go look into. Just uh, keep your distance from that bastard, if you can."
"Mhm, thank you." I said, with a nod. And with that he walked away from me, leaving me surrounded by people, who for the most part, seemed harmless. I didn't feel like anything bad would come to me here. There were chickens roaming free from their cages, and other people tending to small crops. In this spot, it felt like a rural small town. Like life had suddenly been thrown backwards, to a simpler time, with less fear of your neighbor trying to devour your face! Once Negan had left, I looked around for something to do. These people looked at me like beggars would look at the queen, and it made me uncomfortable. I wanted them to see that I wasn't that different than them. Even if they were supposed to treat me like a queen, I wanted them to know that I wasn't afraid to get my hands dirty.
There was a woman, probably in her early 40s who was working with several tomato plants who had smiled at me when we had locked eye. I walked over to her to see how she was doing, and if she had anything I could do.
"Good morning." I said, holding the book behind my back.
"Mornin'. Can I help you with something, hun?" She put down her tools and looked up at me.
"Odd request, but... might there be anything I could help y'all with?"
Her expression was more along the lines of shock rather than confusion. I couldn't help but laugh lightly. I was just wanting something to do, and there wasn't much here for me to do besides sit on my ass. I couldn't go down to the bays and work on the cars, couldn't go to the armory and clean guns.... Really, all I could do was sit in Negan's room and look at myself in the mirror. Trust me, I'm not the type.
"Like what, exactly?"
"Like, whatever. Need some weeds pulled?" I asked.
"Need these plants watered?"
"Have seeds that need planted?"
"More than likely."
"Great, what do you want me to do first?" I gave her a full smile, and she returned the gesture.
"You're serious about this?" The woman rose from the ground and out her hands in her baggy pants pockets. I nodded, but it was still like she didn't believe me.
"Does Negan approve of this?"
"No idea, but I'll deal with it. You have my word that if he gets angry, nothing will fall on you."
Reluctantly, she agreed and had me start helping her with the plants. It felt good to be doing something productive. I liked to earn my keep wherever I was. It was how my parents brought me up. As the sun made it's way across the sky, I toiled in the dirt, and quickly became aquatinted with the woman, whose name was Lisa. Lisa's story, like most people, had a sad and somewhat scary story about how they came to be working for Negan. Her husband had been one of Negan's men, who was killed by another settlement in retaliation to Negan's demands. That had been about 3 months ago. She knew she had to keep herself busy, or else go crazy with grief. She told me several times that I needed to make sure that I watched my back twice as much as I probably had been.
"Just because you're one of Negan's girls, doesn't mean that everyone will treat you like he's told them to treat you."
"Yeah, ran into something like that this morning, in fact."
"Has anyone told you how things work around here?" Lisa asked me.
"In terms of what, exactly?" I asked, wiping beads of sweat from my forehead.
"You were taken from your boyfriend or husband and promised protection right?"
"Not exactly." I paused. "More or less, I was 'rescued' from a man who thought he owned me."
"Honey, Negan owns you, now. He owns all of us. You're just treated better than the rest of us. I'm sorry to say that your situation probably hasn't changed much."
"Trust me, it's a world of change. I'd just rather not talk about it, if you don't mind."
Lisa agreed and that's where the conversation stopped. However, I never really stopped thinking about the differences between Negan and Bill, and what a living hell my life had been just a few short weeks ago. I had no complaints, so far, for the most part. I mean he treated me better than anyone had since everything got flipped upside down, but sometimes he had a short fuse and I fear being on the wrong end of his temper. It was always a constant fear.
I had half expected to see Negan walk back through, at some point in the day, but it never happened. Instead, I broke for lunch with the rest of the garden workers and thought to myself that this day was probably one of the better days (minus the run in with Grant) I had had since normal life was no more. We continued to work until the "quitting" bell sounded towards sundown. My back was aching from being hunched over for most of the day, and my skin felt dried out and sunburnt. Lisa thanked me again for my help and added several times that it wasn't expected of me to have done any of that. As we were all getting ready to clear out, Grant entered the garden and was apparently taking inventory of the "harvest" from the day. When our eyes met, he began stepping toward me. Everyone else that had been working the crops had already filtered out, including Lisa. I had lagged behind to empty my shoe of some dirt that had built up throughout the day. When I looked up, there he was.
I was cornered. The garden area only had one way in and one way out, for what I had noticed. Mostly everyone was gone, and I feared the worst that might happen to me, given what he threatened to do with me this morning. Looking at him now, it didn't seem like anything that Negan had told him had really made any difference on his opinion of myself.
"Just can't seem to go anywhere without getting in my fucking way, can you?!" He said to me, as I pulled myself from the ground. I didn't reply to him. Instead, I kept my eyes down low and tried to walk past him, but he grabbed my arm and yanked me back toward him.
"Let go of me!" I harped, trying to break his grip, but his hand only tightened. With his free, right hand he gripped my throat so hard I couldn't scream out for help. I was forced to look at him at this point. He had a mixture of anger and joy on his face, and it was terrifying. I tried clawing at his hands to force his grip to loosen, but I was too weak. I looked past Grant, to see if there was anyone around who might be close enough to help me, but from where I was standing, I saw no one. I could only muster up a squeak from what I had intended to be a scream. Grant laughed and pulled me closer to him.
"You're not going to tell Negan about this, are ya, bitch?" He whispered to me. I remained still. Did he really think I wasn't going to tell him about it?! Apparently, he had figured that I would...
"You wanna leave here alive? Hm?"
I blinked twice as a sign of yes.
"Then you're gonna walk out of here, and act like nothing happened." The grip on my neck grew ever tighter, to the point that my vision was beginning to get fuzzy. I thought he was going to kill me, but all of a sudden, he let go, and I inhaled the deepest breath I could pull into my lungs. I dropped to my knees, my hands in the dirt to hold up my weight. Grant, laughing like he was so pleased with himself, turned heel and left me. Tears began to stream down my cheeks. I really thought that I was going to be free from all this type of abuse, but Grant seemed to have a vendetta against me, and I couldn't figure out as to why. What had I done to him? Seriously, my first ever run-in with him was this morning, over a book! Maybe this was retaliation for Negan making him look like a fool? He knew he couldn't stand up to Negan directly, and I was the next link in the chain, so-to-speak...
Regardless of as to why I was being targeted, I picked myself up, and jogged back to the safety of my room. I wasn't hungry, I wasn't interested in mingling with the other people, now off work from their daily jobs. I wanted to forget all the things that had happened this these few, short hours.
The halls of the compound were mostly empty. In my lonely wandering I had found a couple, lesser used hallways, that I probably shouldn't have been using, but they were direct lines to places I often frequented, like the showers for instance. And right now, hot water could only help to soothe my aches.
I lost track of time. Like, completely.
There was a private bath, that only the wives were permitted to use, so I wasn't interrupted by other people coming and going. I wrapped myself in a towel and tiptoed back through the halls until I made it back to Negan's door. I prayed that he wouldn't be there once I got back, but when I opened the door, my heart dropped.
There he was, sitting on the edge of the bed, like he had heard me coming a mile away... He looked less than happy to see me, as well.
"Shut the door." He ordered, as I slipped inside and quickly did as I was told. His voice only solidified his opinion of me, at the moment. "I've been fucking looking everywhere for you! Don't you ever do that shit again!"
I wanted to speak, but I knew better than to even open my mouth. I dropped my eyes down, to his boots, and watched shortly after, him rise to his feet and shorten the distance between us. He took my chin and lifted it upwards, toward the ceiling; my eyes clenched shut. When I was in the shower, I noticed in a mirror, the red outlines of where Grant's hand had been, on my neck. At first, I started with a cold-water compress like thing, to help soothe it, but nothing was going to do the trick. I knew what the beginnings of bruises looked like. There would be no avoiding this, and obviously, Negan saw it as well.
"Any idea what the hell this is?"
"I don't know. I must have gotten bit by something."
Negan said nothing, only put his hand to my throat to see if his speculations were correct. When he did this, I overreacted and quickly slapped his hand away, as soon as I felt his fingers on that sensitive marks. His eyes grew wide then narrowed at what I did. He didn't raise his hand nor voice to me, as I had expected. Instead, he sat back on the bed and just looked at me. He knew I was lying, but didn't press me for details. I kind of had a feeling that he knew who had caused this, but chose not to say it out loud. The next time I looked at him, Negan wasn't looking back at me. I took this as my chance to get back into normal clothes, and cover up any other bruises he might question.
Slowly, I turned, and crept past him, but as I put my back to him, his eyes must have followed me. It wasn't long before he saw something else he questioned, this time, he didn't say anything. Instead he got up and put his hand on my back. I flinched at the feeling of his fingers tracing old scars across my shoulder blades. Every time he'd connect one scar to another I'd try to pull back and away from him, but he put his left hand on my hip to reassure me that I didn't need to be fearful. Least, that's how I took it. Or, I suppose, it could have been him trying to calm me down, either way, I was putty in his rough hands.
I turned around, and buried my face in the curve of his neck, and with silent agreement, he wrapped his arms around me, laying his head against mine. Again, it was the rare moments like this, that we shared in private, that I was glad no one knew about. I liked the fact that everyone respected Negan when he walked past; they feared him, and that alone made me feel safe. But in this moment, right now, I knew that Negan was mine. And to be able to command that sort of comforting reaction from a man who so many feared, I felt like a true connection.
"I don't want you leaving this room. Do you understand?"
I pulled my head up to look him in the eye, and I nodded. At this point, I didn't want to leave. Like, ever! Negan left me standing there, in the middle of the room, looking pathetic and broken, but now I knew I was safe. He grabbed Lucille from her rest beside the door and quickly exited the room, shutting the door softly behind him. I took a breath and tried to relax. I knew what was going to happen...it was out of my hands though. I changed into a tank top and a pair of shorts, and made myself at home on top of the covers and realized that I had left that book, down in the garden. I was told not to leave, and leave, I was not going to do. All I really had to do now, was wait for Negan to return. Him and a bloody Lucille.
Chapter 5: The Reckoning
Just a little micro chapter on Grant's fate.
Inspired by Lemaris' comment on the last chapter! I was just going to skip past the whole Grant death, but not now!
Don't know how this is going to turn out, but hopefully it's good!
"You of all fucking people, should have fucking known better!"
Negan strode through the halls of Sanctuary, hellbent on finding the bastard that dared mark his wife. Even after being explicitly told to keep his distance, Grant went against Negan's orders and he had had enough. This would end tonight. There would be no more talks, no more threats, there would just be a romantic date with Lucille for one lucky individual. His blood was boiling, but on the outside, he was calm and collected, just like always. He knew exactly where Grant would be this time of night, and Negan was prepared to ruin his evening.
Simon caught sight of his boss, and thought it odd for him to be "on patrol" at this time, and thought it best to see what was going on.
"Sumthin' goin' on?"
"Just doing a little house cleaning." Negan said, not stopping to talk. Simon didn't reply. He knew what that was code for. Instead, he fell in line behind Negan and waited to see where this was going to lead. Their path lead them back outside Scantuary's concrete walls, and back into the humid, Southern air. On the Eastern side of the compound, was where the garage bays were, and more specifically, where Grant spent his evenings. Grant thought himself a certified gearhead, yet the man could hardly change a tire without bitchin' every 2 seconds when something would go wrong. Instead, when the day was done, he'd mosey on down to the bays and shoot-the-shit with the guys who actually knew what they were doing. It wasn't clear if they wanted him around or not, but Grant really couldn't take a hint, hence Negan's little visit this evening.
"Need anythin' from me?" Simon pipped up, once they had stopped out in the courtyard.
"Actually, yes. Go grab Grant for me. Tell him I need to speak with him. Do whatever you need to do to get him away from his boyfriends, just bring him to me alive." Simon nodded in silent agreement, and trudged off toward the soft glow of yellow light in the distance. With Simon gone, Negan could do nothing more than wait. Sanctuary wasn't completely tucked in for the night. Many residents who were still out and about, began to wonder what was going on. They knew something was set to go down, and events like this, many of them fed on. They fed on the violence inflicted on others, like it was drug to some of them. Negan didn't care how vile the individual was, as long as he followed orders. Negan really did employ the worst of the worst, but they got shit done.
It didn't take Simon too long to bring back Negan's prize, though he was kind of surprised to not see him kicking and screaming like he had secretly wanted. Nope, he had a feeling that Grant would be defiant till the end, but time would tell.
"Simon said you needed to talk to me?" Grant said, confusion in his tone.
"Oh, we're going to do more than just talk." A smirk across his lips, Negan added, "Come on, lets go take a walk. Talk this out like men."
Grant was hesitant, as he should have been, you don't nearly choke out one of Negan's girls, and expect to just get off scot-free. The longer they walked, the more the tension could be felt. Grant kept eyeing Negan, from time to time, as he walked just behind him; Negan still had that wicked smirk like he was just waiting for his moment.
"You going to tell me what this is about?"
No sooner had the words left Grant's mouth, did Negan spin around and take a hold of Grant's throat with his free, right hand. Negan, baring his teeth with a wide smile, looked into Grant's eyes and saw that terror he wanted to see. He laughed, and just shook his head, and dug his fingers in deeper. He could feel the blood pumping beneath Grant's skin. Grant grabbed a hold of Negan's hands, and tried to claw at his skin, but couldn't get past the lone, leather glove he wore. Negan was smart. He knew Grant would probably try to wriggle free, but there he was, thinking one step ahead.
"This fun yet?" Grant tried to shake his head no, but Negan just held on tighter. "No? You're not having fun? Well, that's a damn shame. You see, I thought since you like doing this to other people, meant that you just liked it in general. Thought you one of those sadomasochist types? I seem to have quite a few employed..."
By this point, a small group of people had begun to gather in the courtyard. Negan paid no mind, while Grant tried to plead for someone to help him. His outreached hands garnered no response. Out of the blue, Negan released his hold on Grant's throat, and he dropped to his knees, gasping for air with a high-pitched wheeze.
Running a hand through his hair, Negan circled his prey like a vulture in the sky. He was still grinning from ear to ear. This was genuinely fun for him. He liked toying with fucks who liked to test him. One way or another, if you crossed him, you were going to know good and well, that you fucked up...
"You of all fucking people, should have fucking known better, Grant! For fuck's sake, I recall us having a conversation this morning about the same fucking thing I told you not to do! Do you remember what that thing was?" Grant was quiet. "Oh, come on your worthless fuck, suddenly you can't own up to what you did? Sure seemed pretty proud of yourself earlier."
"I shouldn't have done it." Grant squeaked out.
"What was that? I must be getting hard of hearing! Did you just say you 'shouldn't have done it'? NO SHIT, YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE IT!" Negan lashed out, slamming his right hand down on Grant's shoulder, forcing him to look Negan in the eye. "My girls are not for you to take your frustrations out on! They're not for you period! That's the difference between us, Grant! I have nice things, and you have what I let you have. And what I don't let you have, is the opportunity to touch one of my wives!"
Negan stood back up straight, placed Lucille back in his right hand and threw her onto his shoulder. Grant went white. But here's the thing with Negan: sometimes he can be hard to read. You might think he's going to knock your head off, and he might be thinking of doing it, but he'll change his mind on the fly, and just leave you sitting there in a pile of your own shit, or you won't even suspect it and before you're aware, you're taking a dirt nap.
"Here's your last chance. Your last, pathetic shot at redemption..."
"What is it?! Please, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have! Please...don't! I'll do anything!"
"Hahaha, this is fantastic. I just wanted to see what you'd do!" Negan leaned back with a laugh, at Grant's expense, as more people closed in around the two of them. "You know, I was going to have your hand cut off for what you did. Then, I thought about having you cut your own hand off..."
"I will! I'll do whatever you want me to do! Please, I can change! I can!"
"See, here's where you're wrong again. Guys like you, you don't change. You just continue to be proverbial thorn in my side! I just don't have time for such a fucking nuisance! I don't care if you offered to cut your own dick off and call yourself Jennifer! I just can't keep giving you chances. There are other people, more deserving of your place in line!"
"Negan, I'm sorry!" Grant screamed.
"'Sorry', just ain't good enough!"
With all of his weight in the swing, Negan brought Lucille crashing down on the crown of Grant's head, as the man tried to shield his eyes from what was getting ready to happen. The crack rang out in the stillness of the night, but all were quiet. All but Grant. He was making a kind of gurgling noise, that only continued till Negan put him out of his misery. With each violent swing of that bat, did a spray of blood, scalp and brain matter left it's mark on the dusty ground around where Grant's body lay, still quivering with what bit of life was still in it. Negan didn't stop till there was but a soupy mixture of goo, in a crater in the ground. Droplets of blood graced Negan's face. He walked around Grant's now still body, Lucille pointed downward, like an extension of his hand.
"Let this be an example to all of you who think you can get by with doing shit under my nose. To anyone who thinks they've got it all figured out. I OWN all of you! You are my possessions! This isn't your game to run! Now, we can continue to get along, as long as you play by my fucking rules!!! Any questions?!"
The spectators were quiet. No one moved nor even made so much as a breath that could be heard.
"Alright, now that I got that point across! You can go back to whatever the fuck you were doing..."
Slowly, they all ducked back into the cracks they had crawled out of prior to the ordeal. Simon instead walked up to Negan.
"Well, that went well." He said, looking down at what use to be an intact human being. "Want me to get rid of this shit?"
"Nah, leave it there. Give 'em all a rude awakening in the morning."
Negan walked away from the scene, leaving Simon there alone with Grant. He kicked some dirt onto the mess, muttered some words and headed back into the compound himself. Shit like this didn't really affect many of those who called Sanctuary home, but there had been several new, smaller groups who had been brought in. This display would help solidify that Negan was a man of his world, and he would tolerate zero defiance. To him, if you defied him, you couldn't be beaten into submission; you'd just be beaten into the ground.
Chapter 6: Acquaintance
I awoke that next morning, feeling like everyone was going to hate me.
I remembered Negan coming back into the room, in nothing more than a towel, with the rest of his possessions in his hands. I don't remember if I had asked him what had happened, but what I did remember was him telling me to lay back down and with that, I was sound asleep again. Come that morning, bits and pieces were coming back, most of it at the touch of my neck. Now I remembered why Negan had been gone from the room, and why he had come back, wrapped in a towel. Negan had left to go take care of Grant.
What was everyone going to think of me? Word would probably travel fast, that Grant and I had had a run in yesterday, and now he was dead. I assumed he was dead. Negan seemed like this was the last straw last night, and I let my mind wander to Grant's fate, and it was not a pleasant one. It wasn't my fault though! Was it? What had I done to him, in the first place? How many times in the last so many hours, had I asked myself this damn question? There was nothing I could do about it now. Best just put on my big girl pants and face the day.
Like most times, Negan was gone by the time I had gotten up, so I got around at my own pace. As I dug through the small stash of clothes I was given, I realized that I really needed more to choose from. That part of me never changed: I loved clothes! There was a room, within the compound that housed a lot of gathered articles of clothing, among other household things, scavenged since the collapse of civilization, or brought in from settlements that Negan had taken control of.
You earned credits, by doing things for Negan, but being a wife, of course, meant I didn't have to do anything. I put my hair up in a messy bun, and left in the clothes I had worn last night. Distressed denim short-shorts and a black tank top...yeah, I was really a classy bitch today! All the other wives dressed like they worked in Sephora. Earrings, necklaces, skinny jeans and nice tops. Compared to them, I looked like I was going to a festival in the desert. All I was missing was a flower crown...
When I opened the door, I could hear several female voices just down the hall. It was the other wives, and they were going on about something Negan needed to talk to them about. I couldn't quite understand all of it, because when I entered the hall, they stopped talking. They looked in my direction and two of them set off together, leaving me, and the third woman standing there awkwardly. I didn't say anything to her, as I tried to walk past. I kept my gaze forward and was prepared to kick into bitch-mode if I had to.
"I don't know what kind of stick they have up their asses, but I'm sorry." She said to me, causing me to stop and face her. "I don't think we've ever actually met... I'm Nova." She was really a beautiful girl with hair enough for three people, but she owned it completely. Her smile was genuine, and I didn't sense any two-facedness from her. And with me being familiar with the beauty queen ring...it was something you became very attuned to.
"Juliet." I replied. "Not to have been eavesdropping, but that were you guys talking about? Something about a meeting?"
"Yeah. Negan woke us up this morning, talking about wanting to talk to the four of us. Something happened apparently, and it involves us. I really have no idea. He was rather vague."
"I think I know what's going on." I pulled some loose hairs behind my ear, as that feeling of dread hit my stomach. "Something happened with me yesterday. I'm pretty sure I'm to blame for this."
"Pretty sure Negan didn't give you those bruises..."
"Definitely not. I have Grant to thank for these." She seemed acquainted with the name, and rolled her eyes his mention.
"Yeah, heard about what happened to his worthless ass last night. Trust me, it was a long time coming. Not quite sure what took Negan so damn long, but whatever."
I couldn't say anything. I just couldn't think of anything at all that would attribute to the conversation. Everything I came up with just made me feel worse about my situation.
"Don't be so broken up about it! He was a piece of shit! You just be happy that you didn't end up any worse off than you are."
I nodded with a gentle smile.
"I was just about to go grab something to eat," Nova said, "Would you like to come with me?"
We walked together in silence. It was nice having someone to navigate the halls with. I hated doing it alone, as I always encountered someone, standing just around the corner. And of course, I always felt like they were just lying in wait to drag me off somewhere. The guys looked at me differently, than I noticed they looked at the other wives, at least the other two that weren't present right now. Nova, I could tell, would lay down the law if anyone dared to get in her way. She had that kind of air about it. I felt like I was easy prey: I was so quiet and reserved unless I was provoked. And if I was provoked, it was by another female, who I had no problem standing up to, but if a man got in my face, (like Grant) I folded, nearly every time. I lashed out on Bill, only once, and learned my lesson.
Once we got to the cafeteria part of the factory, I followed behind Nova, who put herself at the front of the line. It felt wrong to cut in front of so many people, but she insisted.
"It's what we're told to do." She said, ushering me over. "You'll get use to it."
I felt uneasy, but kept my eyes forward, and didn't look around, in case I caught any disgusted glares.
"Normally, I just get in line, at the end, and wait my turn."
Nova laughed a little. "Seriously?!"
"Yeah. No one gave me a manual to read on this whole 'wife' thing..."
"Ha! You have no much to learn then!"
We found a table, apparently reserved for us, and got to talking.
"How long have you been here?" I asked her, breaking the muffin in two. It amazed me, that we weren't resorting to eating dog food, but could actually still have some baked items.
"I think it's been about 8 months now," Nova replied. "Got the whole 'marriage proposal' thing, thought it a better situation than what my current one had been, and have just gone with the flow ever since. You've not been here very long, right?"
"No, maybe a little over a month?"
"Who did he pull you from?"
"Overly abusive prick who bought me with a few empty guns."
"I watched him get his head bashed in." I said with a blank expression as I took a bite. "When it first happened, I was terrified, but the more I sat and thought about it...I realized that he deserved it all."
"Yeah, I was kind of in the same situation. I was the bitch to a man named Patrick. Bastard thought it was funny to knock me around. Time came due to give Negan what he wanted, and Patrick couldn't deliver, so he took me as a partial payment. I was the most recent addition, before you came along. The other girls...they didn't leave abusive men, like us. However, they either got into trouble themselves, or their men did, and to keep their heads above water, they offered themselves to Negan."
"And the guys just went along with it?"
"For the most part." She took a drink of her coffee. "They're not supposed to 'cheat' on Negan, but I guarantee they manage to." She looked past me, and said, "Speak of the Devil."
I turned in my seat, to see the entire place kneel, and Negan walking through the crowds like walking through a parted sea. He was looking at me, and I smiled a soft smile.
"Been looking everywhere for you two." He pulled out an empty chair, and sat close to me. His hand quickly finding my bare leg. "I don't want any of you to be out, walking around by yourselves. Just for a little while, until the uh, unrest blows over." Negan looked at me when he finished that sentence. I knew what it was about. "It's temporary. So don't go getting your panties in a bunch." He squeezed my leg once more before getting up.
"Was this the meeting you mentioned earlier?" Nova asked.
"Exactly that! Now, stay out of fucking trouble, would you, please?" Our eyes locked, and he grinned that same shit-eating grin, that was hard to tell if he was joking or being serious.
"I'll try." I replied. "Sometimes I just get bored, you know?" I replied with a wink.
"Cut that shit out!" He laughed, and turned to leave. "I'll see you girls later." He added as he walked away.
"You have him wrapped around your finger!" Nova commented at a whisper. I looked back to her, dumbfounded.
"What do you mean?!"
"You could say anything to him, and you'd make him smile! The rest of us, don't try to carry on conversations with him; he doesn't want to hear us talk. But you...you could talk about something so obscure like...I dunno, how much you love milking cows, and he'd listen all day."
"Whatever!" I could feel my cheeks get warm.
"I'm serious! I've seen how he walks around with you, too. He's always got an eye on you. I think you're the new favorite!"
"Deny all you want." Nova said, taking another drink of her coffee. "You're still staying with him, right?"
"How's that going?"
"It's fine. Sometimes I wish I had my own space, but I try not to pester him about it."
"Has he ever told you anything about a girl named Delilah?"
I thought about it for a moment, but of all the names I had heard him mention, I didn't remember a Delilah. Negan never really went on talking about people, other than the ones who had caused him grief during the day. Rarely, did he talk about women, not even the other wives, by name. Least, not to me, or not that I could recall.
"I don't think so. Why? Who is she?"
"Okay, now before I tell you anything, understand this: never ask him about Delilah, or you'll see a side of Negan you wish you hadn't."
"I've already seen a side of Negan I wish I hadn't..."
"True. Still, it's best to act like we never had this conversation."
I agreed to her terms, and she began to tell me about Delilah. Apparently, she had been Negan's #1; his first "wife" in the New World, but she was different than the wives he had taken now. She had somehow manged to convince Negan to let her leave the compound and go out on raids and the like.
"She was a different kind of girl, you know? If Negan had a female version, by God, it was her. I think before, she was a tattoo artist or something, so it'd make sense that she'd be a perfect match for his attitude. She took no shit from anyone. She'd say shit to Negan that I would have sworn would have got her into so much trouble! He'd just crack that smirk that he does, grab her ass, or something of the sort, and just walk off. Leaving everyone else, that might have heard it, completely speechless!"
"What happened to her?"
"She went out with two other guys, for a supply pick up, and never came back."
"Did the guys come back?"
"Yeah, they came back, but had they known what would happen to them, they'd probably have stayed gone, too. I've seen Negan kill before, and those times, he had a look of enjoyment on his face. I mean, it's terrifying, but when he killed those two, it was something different. They let something happen to Delilah. They lost his favorite wife." Nova took a moment before she continued. "They begged for their lives for days. I don't know how they survived for as long as they did. I'll spare you the details, but after all of that, things changed for us."
I looked down at the table. I had torn my napkin into several pieces.
"Not that any of us girls would have wanted to go out, like Delilah did, but Negan laid down the law: that we could not leave Sanctuary without him. He's also not taken another wife, like Delilah, and I also think that's why you don't have your own room yet: because hers has never been cleaned out."
"And how long ago was this?" I asked.
"Um, probably close to six months, give or take. I had only known her for a couple months before everything happened."
"And they have no idea where she went?"
"Far as I know, no. Negan and some of the other guys interrogated the two men she had been with, but apparently, they just kept saying that she went off on her own, whenever they were doing the transaction. They were all three together, then met with the other settlement to get their delivery and while the deal was going down, she slipped away."
I furrowed my brow. "That sounds ridiculous!"
"Exactly! Rumor was that they traded her, sold her, or whatever, but why they thought they could just waltz back into Sanctuary like nothing was going to happen, had everyone confused. I'm also sure you've noticed that Negan doesn't always take in the smartest of types." At that moment, a couple men walked by and somewhat glared at Nova, at that statement. "He just hires any thug who can hold a gun, and kneel when he walks past." They muttered under their breath and continued on. "Hell, a dog can sit on command, you know?" She gave me a wink, but I couldn't give her anything more than a forced smile. I was still scared of retaliation from last night. Nova was a lot more confident than I. Even with Negan beside me, I was still timid.
"You'll find your place here. Don't let them scare you. Like I said, you have Negan in the palm of your hand, honey. He won't lose you like he lost Delilah."
"What about floral dresses?" Nova asked me, across the room.
"What colors?" I looked up, excited.
"Black and pink."
"Mine!" I said with a smile. The conversation, at breakfast, had changed to a more happy note when Nova had asked me where I had been headed off to, when we had met in the hall. I told her that I needed to go get some more clothes for myself.
"Buddy-system shopping!" Nova replied in a musical tone. We had full run of this large stock room, full of clothes on racks. It was like our own private thrift store. Unsupervised shopping was the best shopping. We left there, through the back halls, within the compound, and snaked our way back to where our rooms were. I went back to Negan's room, to drop off my stuff, when I heard the voices of the other two wives, begin talking to Nova. The door was cracked, but it was enough to hear what was going on. They wanted her to go off with them, knowing full well, that would leave me unable to go anywhere, due to the new rule in place. In truth, it was fine. She could make her own damn decision.
"Juliet?" Nova said, as she pushed the door open. I was sitting on the floor, folding my clothes. "Hey, I'm gonna go--"
"It's fine." I said with a smile.
"What are you going to do?" She said with a frown. You could tell she felt guilty.
"Have you seen this place? I think I have plenty of stuff to keep me busy."
She looked around the room for a moment. It was a mess. There were still papers strewn everywhere. "Lord, I've never seen this place such a mess! You two get a little too crazy one night?"
I felt my face get hot. "What?!"
"Ahhhh, I see... Wanted to treat you like his secretary, huh? Bend you over the desk for a little overtime?"
I wadded up a dress I had in my hand and threw at her. We both had a good laugh before the other girls began to bitch and moan down the hall. Nova rolled her eyes and said her goodbyes. She shut the door behind her, which was probably a good thing. Lord knows what was said about me. Girls were so damn petty at times. With all the clothes folded, I left them sitting on the bed until I figured out where to put them. I threw back the curtains and opened all the windows I could get to come unstuck from their resting places, and grabbed the first box of many, and began sorting things as best as I could see it, while sitting cross-legged on the floor. I continued with this system for a couple hours before I was interrupted.
"The fuck do you think you're doing?"
I jumped! I felt like I had been caught red-handed doing something that was forbidden! I quickly turned my head around to see Negan leaned up against the door frame. When our eyes met, I caught site of that damn smirk. That was the cue that let me know that he really wasn't angry, like his words had kind of indicated.
"Just trying to get some order back to your..."
"I was going to say system, but can this really be called that? I mean, you just have stuff thrown everywhere!"
"Watch it." He said.
"I'm serious! It's a mess!"
He cocked an eyebrow, eyes still on me. The air was tense for a moment before he just let loose with a laugh. "You have any idea what I'd done to anyone else who had said that to me?"
"Yes." I said without hesitation. "That's why I said it. I can get away with it."
"For now, you can get away with it. I have other ways of punishing you, that you haven't seen yet, you know."
My face went blank. I knew what he meant, and it both scared me and excited me. Such a dangerous combination, but it kind of went hand-in-hand with a relationship with Negan.
"Come on. I want you to come with me." He said, finally entering the room. "Change into something...a little more presentable. We're going to take a trip."
"A trip? To where?"
"Doesn't matter. Just find something that shows off that figure of yours, but that keeps something for the imagination. Don't want anyone getting the idea that you're some item up for auction." Negan sat down on the foot of the bed. "You've got 10 minutes."
Chapter 7: Parade
Sorry all... Had some pretty serious shit happen between this chapter and the last one, but now I'm back! I apologize for the loooooooooooong wait, but hopefully, this is OK.
My fingers dug into his leg as we left out of there like our lives depended on it! He told me a trip, not some crazed joy ride! I guess if he had told me that I'd have protested going, but...would I really have had a choice?
Negan grinned from ear to ear while I held on tighter. "Hahaha, it's not every day that I get to do something like this! I should, you know?" He looked over at me, as the engine shifted into higher gear, our speed increasing with every passing second. I couldn't bring myself to say anything to him as he looked over at me, sitting beside him like a scared, little girl.
"Somethin' wrong, darlin'?"
I just shook my head.
"Come now, you struck me as the bad-boy, fast car kinda girl. What happened?"
"I-um," When we took another curve much faster than any normal person would, I clung even tighter to which Negan laid a hand upon mine to alleviate some of the pressure.
"You need to learn to have a little fun in your life!" He kissed me on the temple, and sure enough, pushing that car even faster. For some reason, I laughed and laid my head against his shoulder, but it was a nervous laugh and my eyes were tightly closed. I trusted him fully, but I also didn't want to die...
"You wanna drive?" His hand tightened around mine like he was trying to wake me from a nap. I shook my head no, nuzzling against the supple leather of his jacket. His smell was intoxicating, and I found that it almost helped calm me down. "Alright, alright." Probably fifteen minutes later, the car finally started to slow, and upon reopening my eyes, I saw something I hadn't really expected. Behind this chain-link fence were all these white-picket-fence type homes with nice lawns! It was like a scene of a 1950s TV sitcom.
"Where are we?" I asked, sitting back up and pondering if we had somehow traveled back in time!
"Just checking in on a work in progress. Need to make sure they're...following my directions."
Negan got out of the car leaving it open for me to get out on his side. When I exited he was right there with a gentle hand cupping my face. His face was serious, though, and kind of threw me considering the affectionate gesture he had started with.
"I need you to play along with me, alright?" I nodded. "Like I said before we left, I need you to act like you like me. Make it believable, but not too believable. Walk closely behind me, but don't hang on me. Tap into beauty queen shit you know so well. Make sense?"
"Mhm..." My brows kinda came together. I wasn't quite sure what to do, but he seemed to be counting on me to follow through with his demands. Again, I didn't really have a choice.
"You were just here three days ago." The man's voice was nervous and rather shaky as he stood in the gate's opening. "We aren't ready."
"Rick, how many times have I had to say this: you should always expect me to show up at any given moment. Now, why don't you and I go somewhere where we can talk man-to-man?" It seemed that this guy was kinda like me, in a sense, in that he was to do what Negan said and that was that. I followed closely behind them and tried to make sure to not look down as I walked. Apparently, he wanted me to look proud and confident... Like I was proud to be his trophy. Back at Sanctuary, it was different. They knew who I was - I didn't have to fake anything. Here, not so much. Made me wonder if they knew of Negan's little harem situation in the first place.
I could feel their eyes on me. It was like they already had hatred toward me the moment they saw who I was with, and that hurt. I was the type of girl who liked to play against type. I knew all the jokes that beauty queens were the butt of, but I had been valedictorian in both high school and college, and knew I would always have an uphill battle proving to the world that I wasn't an airhead. Right now, though, I probably looked like a spoiled, self-entitled bitch. I made sure to not make eye contact if possible.
As I followed, I noticed the house we were headed into. It was so unlike anything I had expected to see, and inside was just as shocking. It looked like something straight out of Pinterest; like nothing at all had happened and that people still cared what the inside of their house looked like. I found myself looking around like I was in a museum. It reminded me so much of the home I once lived in with my parents. Negan and this guy named Rick started talking some degree of business while I nosed about. Not long after, I heard the cries of a child, which completely threw me! People were seriously having kids with the world all shitty like it was!? Seriously!?
The more the guys were talking, it seemed the louder she got, to the point that I just started looking for the source.
"I'll get her," Rick said, but Negan quickly cut him off.
"How about we leave the women to care for the children? We've only gotten started on what we need to discuss."
Upon hearing what he had to say, I took that as my cue to go wander. In the living room, just on the other side of the hallway from the kitchen where we had been, was a playpen with the cutest little girl, all red-faced with wet cheeks. She looked up at me, her bottom lip quivering like she was thinking about a second wailing session.
"What are you crying for, hm?" My voice was soft, and quickly her little hands reached upon toward me, beckoning me to pick her up that moment. Never had I seen a child so willing to give themselves to a complete stranger, but I adored children and was happy that she was so eager for attention. I could feel her head lay against my shoulder; a hand taking a fistful of my hair. Her crying had stopped for now, and to keep her in this state I paced the living room floor, my heels making a steady tapping cadence.
"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true." I was no Judy Garland, but I could hold my own. As I sang softly away from Rick and Negan, I didn't want to disturb them, but at the same time, I didn't want the wails for a toddler to do the same.
"Someday I'll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far behind me. Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me."
"Dammit, Rick, you know that isn't how this shit works!"
Negan's voice shot through the lower level of the house like he had said it into a microphone. The sudden outburst started the child in my arms and caused her to start crying again. I did my best to keep her calm, but it seemed like the only thing that was going to help her was to just let her get all those emotions out on her own time. I wanted to know what was going on, but I knew if I walked in there then I'd only make more trouble. Deciding against that, I found a place on the sofa and decided to sit there until I was called to do something else. The little girl pushed away from me slightly and turned her head toward the direction of her father's voice. It wasn't like I was holding onto a five-year-old; I wasn't just going to let her go, and let her run into the kitchen. I did my best to keep her mind off wanting to get away from me, but she was a squirmy little thing!
"Juliet, come on." Negan appeared in the doorway, his face trying to hide the immense amount of frustration he was holding on to. Silently, I complied, placing the child back down in the pen that I first found her in. Her wails grew more powerful and shrill as she sat there looking up at me, but I had no choice than to turn my back on her and follow Negan back out. But before we got too much further, he had one last thing to say to Rick.
"Don't forget now, my boys and I will be back to collect in a week. Fail to do what I've fucking asked of you...well, you know the consequences." I could hear the smirk in his voice, without even seeing his face. However, I did see Rick's face and he looked quite shaken. There was nothing I could do; it wasn't my place to console the worried man. It just simply wasn't my problem. Once we were outside, the small groups that "greeted" us now stopped their conversations to watch us walk back toward our car. I hadn't been so happy to see that car since I had first met Negan.
My eyes stayed glued to the dash until we were headed away from whoever those people were. After that whole ordeal, I seriously didn't appreciate being dragged along, but I held my tongue and kept those opinions to myself. Negan, on the other hand, sat in the driver's seat almost smiling to himself.
"Relax, darlin'. Everything is fine." His hand brushed against my face, causing me to softly breathe out some of my anxieties. "Nothing at all to worry about."
There was that damn smirk again.
"Aw, now, now sweetheart. There's no pouting allowed around me." You could hear the smile in his voice. "You're OK; I'm OK. Yeah?"
I pulled my gaze to his. Why did he have the ability to take all fear from my heart? I didn't understand it but there was something about it that worked. Oh boy, did it work!