Dawn quietly backed away from the kitchen door. Carefully she tiptoed into Dara’s bedroom and slowly closed the bedroom door shut. Nikolas had brought her backpack with him to return to her and she dumped its contents onto the bed.
She grabbed a pair of shorts and an oversized tee-shirt from the bed. She removed the sundress she wore and quickly put on the new outfit. After hearing her mother’s impassioned words, she decided that she didn’t want either Dara or her mother to see her bruises and know that she was almost raped. Her family appeared to be in the process of starting over. She didn’t want what happened to her to cloud the beginning of a new relationship.
After a quick glance at her reflection, she left the bedroom and sauntered into the kitchen.
“Well, the prodigal daughter returns,” her mother said with a laugh. She pulled Dawn into a warm embrace.
“And just in time for lunch, too. How convenient,” Dara added.
“Well, you know me. I’m always down for some eats,” Dawn replied as she moved to take a seat on a stool at the counter.
“Eats,” Dara muttered. “What are they teaching you in that school?”
“Eats refers to food,” Carrie said. “Even I know that.”
Dara and Dawn looked at each other and started laughing. Their mother had her moments.
“So, where were you all morning, Miss Thang?” Dara asked, handing Dawn a plate.
“Dara…” Carrie said warningly.
Dawn laughed and said, “I was with Nickie.”
“I know that. I can read,” Dara said. “And what’s this ‘Nickie’ stuff about?”
“What do you mean?” Dawn asked, opening the package of hamburger buns.
“His name is Nikolas. You call him ‘Nickie.’ How did that come about?” Dara asked.
“Dara, that is not any of your business,” Carrie interrupted. “So, were you able to get everything all sorted out?”
Dawn was quiet for a moment. She was coming to turns with how her mother just defended her. Things were really different.
“I think so. I feel much better now. He’s so easy to talk to,” Dawn said, preparing her bun with ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.
“Are you sure that’s all you were doing? Talking? I saw how you two greeted each other. Don’t you think you’re moving too fast?” Dara asked in rush before her mother could interject.
“Yes, that’s pretty much all we did. I won’t deny that I have feelings for him and I believe he has them for me, too. But I have to say no to the moving to fast question,” Dawn answered firmly.
Dara moved to sit at the counter across from her. As she prepared her hamburger bun, she said, “Well, I hope that if you do decide to have sex you use protection. Don’t count on him to take care of it. You have to take care of it yourself.”
It took Dawn everything she had to not spit out her food at Dara’s words. She was even more surprised when her mother started laughing.
“Dara, you never cease to amaze me,” Carrie chuckled as she sat next to Dawn.
“Mama, this is serious. Unprotected sex can lead to STDs, babies… Dawn has a bright future in front of her. I’d hate to see her mess it up for one night of fun,” Dara replied before she took a bite of her turkey burger.
“Who said it would be one night?” Dawn asked, popping a fry into her mouth.
She and her mother looked at each other and both started laughing. Dara shook her head, but soon she joined in as well.
Keesha tossed another rock into the cart. She barely glanced at that one. She just tossed it in. Gina grimaced and reached for it. Shining the flashlight on it, she discovered that maybe it wasn’t just a ‘rock’ after all. She gently set it back down.
Keesha turned to Gina and asked, “Do we ever get a potty break around here? We’ve been doing this for God knows how long. I need a break.”
“Keesha, stop!” Gina whispered fiercely. “We get a break when they say we get one.”
“Even potty breaks?” Keesha asked.
“Yes. Now, keep moving. If they notice you’re not moving, one of them will come over here,” Gina whispered as picked at the cave’s wall.
“I can’t believe this. Has anyone ever relieved herself right out here in the open?” Keesha asked, making a half-a**ed tap against the wall with her pick.
Gina stifled a laugh at the thought and continued picking the wall. She was in the processing of reaching for her flashlight again when she felt Keesha nudge her. Exasperated, she turned to face her.
“Don’t give me that look,” Keesha said with a small smile. “Have you ever noticed that there aren’t any men in here? Do they only abduct women?”
Gina looked around. She had noticed that there were only women there. She and Simone had discussed it a few times. They wondered what it meant, but dropped it when they couldn’t figure it out. She turned her attention to Keesha again, and said, “Yeah, I’ve noticed. Keep working.”
Keesha tapped the wall again, and turning to Gina she asked, “Why do you suppose that is?”
“I don’t suppose. Now, would you pl-“
Gina stopped talking and stiffened when she heard her name. She prepared her body for the blow that she knew was sure to follow. When none came, she turned and saw that Shorty was behind her.
“Gina, come with me,” he said.
Gina glanced at Keesha. She had no idea what was going on. Being summoned usually meant something horrible was about to happen; however, they were never summoned during ‘cave time’ as she Simone referred to it.
Gina jumped. She removed her belt and placed it in the cart. She gave Keesha one small glance and she moved to follow him.
Keesha watched her walk away with a sense of dread. She could tell from Gina’s expression that this was irregular. She said a silent prayer that they would see each other again.
Jason reviewed the city’s blueprints for the tenth time since the meeting. He couldn’t believe what his eyes were showing him. Practically, the entire town was built over the tunnels which were centralized in a very convenient location.
He rubbed the back of his neck and squeezed his eyes shut. He could feel a headache coming on. He rose from his desk and went onto the balcony. Maybe a dose of fresh of air would do the trick.
As the pain in his head subsided, he began to mentally choose which men from his camp he would use when they went underground. Then, he heard the sliding doors open behind him. He didn’t have to turn around to know who his visitor was. Robin’s perfume always gave her away.
She covered his eyes with her hands and said, “Guess who.”
“I don’t know now. Who?” he asked with a laugh.
Robin giggled and said, “Me, silly.”
Jason smiled and was turning to face her when he felt an excruciating pain in his temple. Grabbing his forehead, he walked past her and went back inside. He stopped when he reached the dining room table. Clutching the back of one of the chairs, he squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the pain to subside.
Robin followed him into the penthouse. Rubbing his shoulder she asked, “Want me to get you an aspirin?”
He gave a slight nod of his head and Robin left the room. With his eyes partially closed, he slowly made his way to the leather sofa. He sat and leaned his head against the back of the sofa. He felt Robin as she sat next to him.
“Jason, here’s the aspirin and a glass of water,” she said quietly, her voice full of concern.
Jason took the aspirin from her and quickly swallowed it and the water. When he was done, he handed her the glass and rested against the sofa again.
She lightly touched his forehead but removed her hand when he winced at her touch. She rested her hand on his shoulder and said, “You should see a doctor. Your headaches have been increasing daily.”
“But, Jason…” she began.
Opening his eyes, he looked at her and said, “No, Robin. No more doctors. I’m fine.”