His voice washed over her like rain against a burning sun. The warmth, the familial, comforting sound of it took her home. She was not prepared for the flood of emotion that hearing it would release. It should have braced her, given her strength. Instead, it made her want to cry.
“Tell me the truth…I’ll hear it in your voice if you don’t.” Sonny had betrayed a more intimate understanding of her than Alexis believed possible. He would never say something that pointed, that personal unless he meant it. But how could he know her like that?
Had Sorel hurt her? She couldn’t lie to him…she couldn’t tell him the truth. She stayed silent, her eyes closed tight against the tears that threatened to rise up.
“I AM bringing you home,” he promised. With those words, Alexis felt a slow chill begin to trickle down her back and she felt herself give way. Thomas tightened his hold on her shoulders, keeping her unwilling body upright. Sorel pulled the phone away from her ear and pressed it against his chest, blocking the urgent sound of Sonny’s voice. He nodded toward the chair. Thomas slid it forward with his foot and eased Alexis down before she fell. Her head hung forward with dizziness as she trembled. Thomas’s voice floated above her head.
“She’s just a little weak. She wouldn’t eat.”
Sorel bent down next to her, his hand raising her face to meet his. “Look at me, Miss Davis.” She obeyed. “I want you to keep your strength up. Do you understand me?”
His eyes stayed fixed on hers in a deep, invasive stare. She nodded weakly.
“Thomas, would you please bring something to keep Miss Davis’s strength up.”
Thomas immediately left the room.
“It’s not as if I’m going to slip something into your food.” Sorel’s fingers moved up to her bruised cheek, brushing it gently. They drifted down her neck, her shoulder, her arm. They came to rest on the tiny red mark on the inside of her naked arm.
“As you know, I’m much more direct than that.”
He suddenly whipped the phone back up to his ear. “Sorry for the interruption. No, there’s nothing wrong. Your attorney is just a little…tired. Say goodbye to your client, Miss Davis.” He put the phone to her face.
“Sonny? No, don’t worry. It’s…it’s nothing that a brown paper bag couldn’t take care of.” She smiled lightly at the hint of a chuckle he thought she heard on the other end of the line. She hoped she’d succeeded in keeping Sonny’s worst fears for her at bay.
Sorel frowned at this personal exchange and took the phone away before she could hear Sonny’s voice again.
“That wasn’t any kind of code, Mr. Sorel. Just a private joke.”
“I’ll be in touch.” He snapped the phone shut and put it back in his pocket. He began to pace in front of her, glancing at her every now and then.
“Well Miss Davis, I’ve just been made an offer.”
Alexis watched him warily. “You mean, some sort of compromise?”
“I mean an offer. Which translates into his rejection of my original demand.”
“Does that, in turn, translate as your rejection of his offer?”
Sorel raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “I haven’t quite made up my mind about that. He wants it to end tonight, which won’t happen. I’m not in that great a rush to relieve myself of the pleasure of your company.”
He stopped his pacing. “You don’t want to ask what’s the offer on the table?”
“What difference would my knowing make? It’s out of my control, isn’t it?”
“Why, yes it is! And I’m glad that you brought up the issue of control. Because the truth is, in making me this offer Mr. Corinthos is attempting to wrest some control over this situation. My intent is that he have NONE.”
Alexis cleared her throat. “But, if you both can get what you want without anyone…”
“What I WANT is for Mr. Corinthos to show some RESPECT!”
Alexis flinched at his sudden outburst, her eyes darting to the open door. It was just him now…was it possible?
“What I want, what I DEMAND, is for him to accept that HE is not in control here. I AM! Now, you understand that simple fact, don’t you Miss Davis?”
“Yes.” Alexis felt the adrenaline begin to pulse through her as this newest tirade grew. Whatever lay beyond that open door, she would have nothing to lose.
“YES! Yes, you do! And we’re going to have to make sure that Mr. Corinthos understands it as well. But…I do think it will be fun to let him sweat a little. We’re not BOTH getting what we want. But there’s plenty of time for you and me to get that message across to him. You’re going to help me make it loud, clear, and as I said before, most poetic.” He reached into his breast pocket and Alexis saw the glimpse of white.
She bolted. Sorel lunged for her, stumbling over the chair that had fallen into his path. He picked it up and blindly hurled it at the door. It missed Alexis by a whisper. The shattering crash of metal paralyzed her reflexes for a brief moment as she cringed, clutched the doorframe. It was brief enough to allow Sorel to grab hold of her arm. She pulled away as hard as her strength allowed, but she was no match. His fingers dug into her flesh as he jerked her backward, pulling her body tightly against his. She felt the angry heaving of his chest as it pressed against her back.
“That was a STUPID thing to do, Miss Davis!” As Sorel locked his arm around her neck, his words hissed directly into her ear.
“What did I just say about control?”
A large shadow cast itself through the doorway as Thomas silently reappeared. He looked down at the collapsed folding chair at his feet, then up at Alexis. He wore a hardened expression, and Alexis struggled to swallow against the pressure of Sorel’s arm pushing at her throat. The look on Thomas’s face extinguished her last shred of hope.
“Who did we both JUST AGREE had control here? Was it you?” He tightened his fingers on her arm.
“No,” she whispered.
“Was it Mr. Corinthos?”
“Was it even my faithful friend Thomas here?”
“Who IS it that has control, Miss Davis?”
“That’s right, ME!” His voice became a soft whisper. “Me. You’re nothing but a little mouse in a little cage. MY cage. Don’t you forget it.”
Alexis felt his lips brush across her ear, his face leaning into her hair. His hips pushed into her backside as he pulled her even tighter against him. She thought she was going to be sick. He didn’t have to rape her physically; he was getting equal satisfaction out of doing it to her every other possible way.
In a quick move, Sorel released his hold on her and shoved her into Thomas’s waiting arms. Her eyes closed, the tears of weariness ready to release. Her exhausted body was pliable under Thomas’s manipulation, as one of his massive arms bent her smaller one back behind her. Her other arm hung limp at her side, and Thomas left it alone. He knew she wouldn’t be resisting anymore. Alexis pressed her face into Thomas’s chest, searching for the calming sound of his heartbeat as the sharp sting of the needle hit her arm. Thomas could feel her quiet tears as they bled through his shirt, making contact with the bare skin beneath the thin cotton. His heart skipped a beat.
“Will you tell me what that is?” She asked haltingly, as the stinging intensified and the hot tide began to rise up in her.
“What difference does it make? It’s out of your control.”
Thomas felt Alexis tense, her hand clutching at him. He felt her body start to let go.
“Make her eat something when she comes out of it.” Sorel slipped the syringe back into his pocket as he headed for the door.
As Alexis went slack, Thomas reached around and lifted her up into his arms. “You want me to stay with her this time too?”
“She was okay before?”
“Pretty much. After a while.”
“You have some reason you’d LIKE to stay with her.” Sorel smiled slyly.
Thomas looked down at Alexis’s fluttering eyes, her flushed, tear-streaked face that bore the fresh, blazing marks of brutality. His stomach clenching, he looked blankly at Sorel.
“What, this?” He made a small grimace. “Too skinny.”
He turned way and walked toward the cot, laying Alexis gently down to rest. As he felt for the strength of her pulse, he looked over his shoulder to Sorel.
“Don’t want her tanking though.”
“No,” Sorel replied, “Not yet. Yeah, you stay a while.”
Thomas kept still as Sorel’s departing footsteps grew softer. Had that remark been a declaration of intent about her…or a test for him?
Alexis stirred, a low groan dwelling in her throat. Thomas sat on the edge of the cot.
“Are you okay?”
She smiled softly, turning her head in the direction of his voice. He watched as the rapid rise and fall of her chest began to calm, as the flush in her cheeks began to fade.
Thomas was still, as he noted the peaceful look that had begun to grace her face. If she’d been taken somewhere else, he was hesitant to call her back. He didn’t need to decide. Alexis slowly opened her yes and looked at Thomas with a flicker of confusion.
“Do you need some water?”
She closed her eyes and turned away from him. “I’m sorry,” she replied.
He didn’t understand. Did she still think he was Ned? He slipped his arm under her back to lift her up. Her head fell forward and she struggled to hold it up. He placed the cup in her hand, but she wouldn’t take her groggy eyes off his face. Finally, he allowed his eyes to meet hers.
“You’re not angry?”
He was sure this was the drug talking, but his expression still questioned her words.
“I pissed him off,” she whispered.
Thomas’s mouth began to curve into a reluctant smile. “It’s not your fault. He’s always pissed off. Here, you need to drink this.”
Alexis did as he asked. He laid her back down, and her heavy head rolled to the side. She opened her eyes against the glaring light overhead, staring as if transfixed. Thomas moved in front of her view to block it. Her lids closed.
“You shouldn’t do that. It’ll hurt your eyes.”
She smiled. “Nothing hurts. Why is that?” She sighed heavily. “I see fireworks exploding, over and over again. Do you see it?” She curled her arm up around the side of her face, fingers tangling in her hair. She opened her eyes one last time before drifting off into another timeless, senseless fog.
Thomas leaned in close to her, sensing she wanted to speak but couldn’t. “What?”
Alexis gazed at the bright blue eyes looking down on her. They were beautiful…like the clearest sky.
“This isn’t you…”
And then she was gone.