Caged Ch. 03byDaniellekitten©
This story has gotten mixed reviews but I've had so many people ask for more, I couldn't resist. Please let me know what you think, good bad or indifferent. Take care!
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The scars on her back told the awful tale of Tippin's life in the camp. I cringed at the sight but schooled my features for when she turned back. I couldn't allow her to know how guilty and angry the abuse made me feel. I wanted to race from the tent and find Harland. I wanted to let my beast free and then I wanted to take out my fury on every man in camp. I knew that Tippin had been passed from one to the other, used as each saw fit. It sickened me.
Instead, I took a deep breath and then dabbed carefully at the blood around her nipples, quietly apologizing when she flinched away from my touch. "We have to get you better, Tippin. You have to be stronger before we can leave this place."
Tippin's laugh was harsh and bitter. It sounded nothing like the carefree, playful kitten she had always been. "We can't leave, Rhys. They will kill us when they find us."
"That's why we can't let them find us, sister. We have to be smart and we have to not give them any reason to doubt us. Can you do that?" I hated having to ask her that. It felt as if I was betraying her in a way too terrible to think of. But I had to know; I had to be sure of her. I rose, going to the bucket of cold water and rinsing the cloth, watching as the water turned red with her blood.
"I...I don't know." Tippin cringed once more when I started cleaning off her raw and bloody pussy. I hated that I was hurting her even more but I was afraid if I didn't clean her off, in her weakened state, she might become infected.
It took too many minutes out of the hour that Sal had allotted me for lunch and I quickly tossed the rag into the bucket and unwrapped Tippin's sandwich and brought it to her. "Eat, sweetheart."
"I'm not sure I can." She sighed, stiffening in pain as she sat up.
"Try." I took a bite of my own sandwich. It was thickly sliced ham and baby swiss cheese. There was the bite of spicy mustard on my tongue. It was an intriguing combination and I urged Tippin to try a bite. "It's really good, sweetheart."
Tippin picked up a half of her sandwich and took a bite, moaning as the split on her lip tore open. I rose, handing her the cloth so she could hold it against her mouth. A drop of blood escaped her and slid down her chin to drop to her breast.
The sight of that one drop of blood, despite the grievous wounds that I'd cleaned up when I'd come in, broke my heart and I felt tears welling in my eyes. "Tippin..." I couldn't finish.
For the first time, Tippin smiled. "Rhys, I'll be fine. You were always the strongest of us. Where's that steely backbone now?"
I knelt down next to her, dropping my head down to her lap. Her hand stroked over my hair. "I would handle it better if it was me that was bleeding. Seeing you...like this...it's eating at my soul."
"I'll heal." She brought her sandwich to her mouth, taking another bite, her other hand still stroking my hair.
"I hate that I couldn't help you...that I didn't stop them when they first came into the jungle. I wish I could kill them for you now."
"But they are using me against you." Tippin didn't need me to tell her yes or no, she knew. "Rhys, if you find a way out, you take it." She glared at me until I nodded. But I think she knew it was a lie because she sighed and closed her eyes. "Dammit, Rhys."
"You need to eat, Tippin. I have to get back or Sal will have the entire camp out looking for me. Eat, please. I'll try to come back tonight." I brushed a kiss against her cheek and rose, sending her a smile before I left the tent.
I hurried back through camp, knowing I was pushing the time limit that Sal had given me. All I could do was hurry and pray Sal would understand. The men I rushed past stared at me and I saw lust in their eyes. It was scary, especially after seeing what that man had done to Tippin.
I rushed through the door to the camp kitchen, skidding to a halt. Sal had his back to me. "Sal, I'm sorry. My sister needed me..."
The man that I'd thought was Sal turned around and for a moment, I was speechless. I felt my cheeks flush and I had to force myself to hold still and not run out. "I thought you were Sal."
He laughed and a shiver shuddered through me. "You aren't the first who's thought that way. You have to be Rhys. My father's been raving about you since I got here."
"Raving... Wait, father?"
"Sal is my father." He grinned again. "My name is Bernardo." He reached out and took my hand, kissing the back and squeezing my fingers gently. "I'm the oldest of Sal's kids."
Rhys was tongue tied. It wasn't just the fact that he was handsome, there was something in his eyes, a kindness, a goodness that she hadn't seen in any of the men she'd come into contact with since her capture. "I...I..."
I was saved from having to try to make sense by Sal's entrance back into the kitchen. "There you are, Rhys. I thought I was going to have to get Harland involved in looking for you."
"No, my sister..." I glanced back at Bernardo and couldn't finish my thought. We weren't the type to let anyone know when we were hurting. I dropped my eyes and felt my cheeks heat when I saw his eyes on me. There was a curiosity in his soft hazel eyes and I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. "My sister needed me."
"Do we need to send for the camp doctor?" Sal's voice was rich with concern and I found it much easier to meet his gaze than that of his son's.
"I...I took care of it." I glanced back at Bernardo and then dropped my eyes again. There was just something about him, something that had me flummoxed.
Sal seemed to notice and he took a step toward his son. "You go see your mother, Bern. If you don't and she hears that you are back, it's not going to be pretty." He slapped his son on his well shaped back, the sound so loud that I flinched.
"Bern?" Half the names that I'd heard since my arrival at the camp had sounded strange to me. This one I found fascinating.
"It helps distinguish me from my twin sister, Bernadette. If she can get passed Mom, I don't doubt she'll be down here to snitch a piece of apple pie." He reached out and lifted my hand once more, brushing one last soft kiss upon it. When he let go, I wrapped that hand with the other, covering the spot that he'd kiss. I watched as he left the trailer and I turned back, just in time to see Sal's smiling gaze meet mine.
"Bern is my oldest. He and his sister have been away at school. Bern wants to be a doctor."
Before their deaths, my parents had always schooled us, we'd never even thought of going away to school. The idea fascinated me almost as much as Bern did. "He seems nice," I said and turned from Sal to go to the deep sink that was filled once more with dishes. I quickly started washing and rinsing the dishes, setting them carefully in the big draining rack. It surprised me when Sal stood next to me, a towel in his hand. I guess he noticed my surprise.
"I'm not too bossy that I can't dry a dish or two." He chucked me gently on the chin and I couldn't help the smile that crossed my lips. Maybe everyone in the camp wasn't the horrid monster that I'd thought at first.
"I like working with you, Sal."
He smiled and settled another plate on the drain board. "You ain't so bad either. It's not easy to find good help out here, so when you find someone, you do everything in your power to keep them. I think when we get some muscles in these arms, you'll be a hell of an assistant."
I glanced down at my slender arms. I'd always thought of myself as strong but after watching Sal and the way his huge arms had flexed as he worked the biscuit dough, I knew I had some work to do to catch up.
"Of course, when the Boss comes, you won't be in here anymore."
I looked his way again even as I felt a thrill of fear. When the Boss came, I wouldn't be much more than what Tippin was now. I hated the thought. It scared me more than I was even willing to admit to myself. Instead of allowing myself time to think, I attacked the dishes with a ferocity that shocked Sal.
"Hey, girl, whoa, slow down a bit. We have time to finish dinner yet." He dropped one big hand on my shoulder. That touch was enough to break me and I turned, an otherworldly sounding growl coming from me. I dropped the cloth I'd been using and backed slowly away, my hands up as if I could ward him off in this weak form.
"Don't touch me, don't ever touch me."
"Rhys, I'm sorry, calm down." His tone was soft, sympathy in his eyes. He held out one hand, not touching me. It was as if he was willing me to take it, to accept what I could see in his eyes. He took another step toward me and then a loud, chaotic sound came from just outside the trailer. The door popped open and I jerked back even further as a tall goddess of a woman walked in, her arm around an older version of herself. Bern was behind them and I saw his eyes search the trailer before landing on me.
Sal stepped in front of them, keeping them from coming any further into the room. I felt their eyes land on me, curiosity rampant in them. I ducked my head, turning my back. I was ashamed of how I'd reacted toward Sal's concerned touch and even more embarrassed by being caught out the way I was. I felt a touch on my shoulder and I spun, my mouth opened to apologize but it wasn't Sal.
"He feels bad," Bern said softly. "My father is a good man, but there are times when he doesn't realize that what he says can injure. I hope you can forgive him."
"No...no, he didn't do anything wrong. I'm the one that should apologize. My...my sister..." I couldn't say anymore. He'd picked up my hand, playing with my fingers as I spoke. He looked up as I searched for both the will and the air to finish the comment.
"Is she ill? I am only a medical student but I've seen what Harland hires as camp doctors. I'd be more than willing to help if you'll let me." His eyes, more green than hazel now, met mine. There was an honesty there as well as something else, something that had my heart rushing and a strange itch starting in my lower belly. I felt a swelling there, between my thighs, that was maddening and I wanted to press my legs together, to try to get relief.
"She's not ill. She's..." I closed my eyes and then opened them quickly. I could see Tippin in my mind's eye, see the torn pink flesh and the rawness in her pussy as well as the bite marks on her breasts. I was worried about her getting sick from the open wounds, knowing that in her weakened state, it would probably kill her. "She's been raped." I spoke the words quickly, glancing up at him to see his reaction.
"I'm so sorry, Rhys." His mouth opened and then closed, as if he wanted to say more but couldn't. "Would she let me help her?"
I remembered the terror in Tippin's eyes, the hatred she felt for the men in camp and I wasn't sure. "I...I don't know."
His hand rose and cupped my cheek, a gesture of affection that I wasn't sure how to take. "Da, I'm taking your new assistant awayfor a bit. I'll have her back in plenty of time to help you with dinner." He glanced back at his father. I glanced as well, though I did it without moving my face for he still held my cheek cupped in his warm palm. I liked it there, liked it perhaps too much.
Sal nodded his agreement. "Stay out of Harland's sight. He might not be as understanding as I am."
"Yes, sir." Bern was quick to agree and he took my hand in his, tugging me along behind him. He held open the door to the trailer, holding his hand out for mine. "Come on," he whispered. "Before he changes his mind."
I skipped down the stairs and took his hand, pulling him hurriedly toward Tippin's tent.
"Whoa, Rhys. I was joking. My father can be a taskmaster but he's a fair man. He's given his okay and he won't take it back. You're fine."
I slowed but I couldn't resist the occasional look over my shoulder. "I...I guess, I'm just concerned. She's so much weaker than when we were both at home."
"If this is such a bad atmosphere for her, why doesn't she go home?" He asked the question as if Tippin and I had a choice.
A snort of disbelief let my mouth. "Are you telling me that you don't know about us? You don't know why we were brought to the camp?"
He stopped short which stopped me as well. I turned and looked at him when he didn't move.
"He...He didn't...He wouldn't... My father wouldn't work here if what you're implying is true." He was indignant and for a moment I couldn't say a word. Sal had been nice to me. He'd been more than fair and I didn't mind the work since it kept me out of the sight of the men in camp.
A sudden flare of guilt had me wincing and I pulled my hand out of his grip. "My sister was taken from me, from our home eight days ago. During that time, she has been raped over and over. She's been beaten and half starved. That is the kind of camp your father works at, the kind of man he works for. Harland does nothing to stop his men. He's declared me off limits because I'm some kind of gift that he is saving for his boss. Tippin was supposed to be that gift but she ended up being raped by the old camp doctor five minutes after she was captured."
My rant seemed to take everything I had left and I wobbled a bit, wishing I had the strength to shrug his hands off of me. But I let him support me.
"Slow breathes, Rhys. Take it nice and slow."
I closed my eyes so that I wouldn't have to look at him even as I obeyed his advice. A few minutes later I felt stronger and I pulled away, turning my back to continue to Tippin's tent. I pushed open the flap, not looking to see if Bern still followed me or not.
Tippin lay where I'd left her, the sandwich that I'd brought her sitting on the floor next to her bunk. Her eyes were closed and she didn't open them, only whimpered and pulled the blanket closer around her. "No," she moaned.
"There was so much pain in her voice, so much terror that it tore at my heart. "Oh, Tippin, it's me, baby." I rushed to her side, kneeling next to her and stroking her dark hair away from her face. It was a tangled mess and she flinched when I accidently pulled it.
"How...are you here? I thought you'd get in trouble if you didn't go back, Rhys. Please, I beg you, don't get yourself in trouble with Harland for me."
"No, Sal gave me permission. I won't be in trouble. I brought you a doctor. Will you let him look at you?" I felt the tiny shake of her head and leaned closer, speaking softly for ears alone. "Please Tippin. If we can get you better than we have more of a chance to escape. Let him help you, please?"
Tippin sighed and I saw the defeat in her eyes. I knew she'd do whatever had to be done to get me out of that camp before I had to face what she was facing on a daily basis. "Thank you, Tippin. I will stay if that is okay with Bern."
I glanced up, watching the slow, non-threatening way he came across the tent toward her. "Tippin? That is such an unusual name. Is it a family name?" He waved his hand at me and I took a step back, scooting around the bunk so that I could hold her other hand.
"O-Our aunt's." Tippin's voice was soft, hesitant. I hated hearing her like this, so different from how she'd been before our parents had been killed, before our family had been decimated by these hunters.
Bern continued speaking softly. "My name is Bern, Tippin. My father is head cook here in camp. I'm here on vacation from school before the next semester starts. Will you let me look at your wounds?"
Tippin glanced at me and I could see the fear in her eyes. "He won't hurt you, Tippin. Let him look, please?"
She closed her eyes. "Yes."
I glanced at Bern and then found myself watching as he long fingers pulled the blanket out of Tippin's grasp. I heard his sudden intake of air and I knew he was as shocked as I had been by what had been done to my beautiful sister. The marks looked even worse now that the black bruises were so easily seen. There were marks around the bites and small finger-shaped bruises that encircled each breast. I saw how Bern's hands trembled for a moment and then he blew out a breath which seemed to steady him.
"Who's done this to you, Tippin? Does Harland know about this?"
Tippin opened her eyes and gave Bern a look that shouted her disbelief. She let her fingers brush over one of the worst of the bites, flinching at the pain. "He did this."
"Harland did that to you?"
She scoffed. "You sound surprised. He likes to come in around midmorning. Most of the men are off doing their chores so he has me all to himself. Your Harland has a biting problem." Her cheeks were florid and then turned white and she closed her eyes tightly, reaching for the blanket. But I moved it out of her reach. I was even more determined to get her out of there, to take her away from these men, from their perversions.
I glanced over at Bern. "You looked shocked."
"I'm just having a hard time believing that Harland would condone this." He reached down and took the cloth, wringing it out before laying it over the swelling black marks on Tippin's breasts. "Where else are you hurt?"
Bern was mad too, I could see it in the way his hands shook though the gentleness in his voice never wavered. He nodded when she gestured toward the sore red flesh between her thighs. I held her hand tighter, more than a little shocked by everything that had happened to her. I was angry and grew even angrier when Bern gently pulled Tippin's swollen pussy flesh open. I could see the fresh blood that coated his fingers and felt Tippin tighten against the pain.
By the time Bern finished his perusal of Tippin's wounds, his face was white and his hands shook. He knelt at Tippin's side, gently covering her before lifting her hand and holding it between both of his. "This kind of treatment should never have been allowed and I can't tell you how sorry I am. It's an atrocious affront that any honorable man would allow this abuse, Tippin." He bent and brushed a tender kiss to her knuckles.
"Can you do anything to help her?" I knew my tone was anxious and I worried that I might tip my hand but it was more important to me than ever to get her out of here as quickly as possible. I knew the best medicine for my litter mate would be the green trees and jungle paths of home. I needed her strong enough to get there.
"I'm going to go to the camp pharmacy now and get the medication that will help her." He tucked the blanket even closer around her and brushed her inky black hair off her face. "We'll get you fixed up and right as rain, Miss Tippin."
I followed him out of the tent. "Is that the truth?"
Bern spun on his heel and raked his hands through the black silk of his hair. "How could any man worthy of the name do that to a woman?"
I looked at him with a sudden insight. He really didn't know what Tippin and I were. That was how a man could do what had been done to her and what was going to happen to me if I stayed around long enough to let it. For just an instant, I thought of changing, of showing him what we were. I even closed my eyes to concentrate upon that warmth, that savage beauty of the lioness that made up such a huge part of me. But the look in his eyes, the look he'd given me when he'd first seen me, would that look turn to disgust if he knew? Would he be so willing to take care of Tippin if he knew? I couldn't take that chance.
"You'd have to ask them." I turned to go back into Tippin's tent only to be stopped by his big hand on my arm. "What?"
"I think you do know, Rhys. I think you know and are just unwilling to talk about it."
I shrugged. "I appreciate your help with her. I'm terrified that she will get some kind of infection and in her weakened state, not be able to fight it off. Thank you." A tiny shiver of fear shook me as he turned me to face him.