Keesha felt his eyes bore into her as she followed the others down the passageway. He followed silently at a distance. He did not say a word to anyone, but she knew he was there. She tried to get a glimpse of him, but so far, she had been unsuccessful. She didn’t want to be obvious, but she couldn’t help but be curious about who the man was and why he was so interested in her.
As she shuffled along, she was glad that the long work day was finally over because she was tired. She was more tired than she had ever been in her life. The monotonous task of picking the rock-covered walls caused her entire body to ache. Her head hurt from the noise and the rest of her was sore. Standing all day and pushing the rock laden cart was not something her body was familiar with and as she moved along, it protested with every move she made.
Keesha refused to dwell on her aches and pain. Her true work day was about to begin as soon as she was alone behind closed doors. Instead, she made her mind focus on where she had been and where she was going. The lights were dim, but she was almost positive she could find her way again if necessary.
As she and the others turned another corner, Keesha felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. He was still watching her! She sensed it before, but now she was certain. Her sixth sense told her to be wary and her hand moved into her pocket to reassure herself that what she needed was there. Not wanting to cause any undo attention to herself or what she had hidden, she removed her hand from her pocket as she continued down the passageway.
She felt him get nearer and she couldn't prevent the cold shiver of fear that coursed through her veins. He brushed against her shoulder as he moved past her and for the briefest moment their eyes locked and then he continued on. Keesha knew his bumping into her was no accident. He did it intentionally and she wondered why. From the stories Simone and Gina had told her, the guards would take what they wanted from the prisoners they lorded over. They rarely had any use for games, especially the coy games the stranger seemed to be playing with her.
From his bearing and the expensive clothes the handsome man wore, Keesha knew he was not like the others. He was at the top of the food chain in this hell on earth. She memorized his features in the hope they would one day meet again and she could tell or maybe show him exactly what she thought of this place.
Juan laughed quietly to himself as he moved past the newcomer. He wanted to see what she was made of and now, he knew. She was tough. She didn't flinch when he touched her and she looked him dead in the eye. He liked that. He liked that she didn't shy away from him and she stood her ground. She reminded him of his querida, Simone.
Ah, dear sweet, Simone, he thought. She was not holding up well. After their last encounter, she barely moved. The years of being a good, steadfast worker had taken their toll on her. As well as, the things she'd had to do to protect her ungrateful brat who ran at the earliest opportunity, but Juan had his eyes on him. He was gone, but not very far. Soon, he would be back where he belonged. The few moments of freedom would live with him as he spent an eternity bound against his will.
Juan laughed out loud when he imagined Tommy's face when he would be returned to his rightful place. He thought he would free himself, but Juan would never let that be. The son Simone shared with another man would never live a happy life. Juan would see to that.
Juan was smiling as he opened the door into his private suite. He would soon have a replacement for his Simone and her ungrateful brat would soon be taken care of. As he prepared himself for bed, he thought that his life couldn't get any better than it already was.
Simone settled down onto her makeshift bed. Gina had been allowed to help her back to her room and now, she was alone again. She was relieved that she had survived another one of Juan's attacks, but she wasn’t sure if she could survive another one.
She was so very tired. Not just physically, but mentally as well. She was tired of always being on guard, of always thinking ahead of everyone else, and of not being free.
For years, she had dreamt of the day when she and her son would live free. She would practice medicine again. They would have a home, and Tommy would be able to live like a normal person his age. He would grow up and fall in love. She would be there for him and maybe one day, for his children, too. Maybe she would even fall in love again, but that was nothing she really concerned herself with. The years and past experiences…Tom, Justus, and even Juan…had taught her that a man in her life was something she could without.
She knew that the time for Tommy's reappearance loomed near. She could feel it. Her baby was coming back to her. He would honor his promise he made to her. She had always known that. Now, she prayed that she would be able to honor the silent vow she made to herself when she came back and discovered that he had left. She willed that she would live to see him. She had to. She knew he would never forgive himself if she didn't.
Simone heard the turned of the door knob only seconds before it flew opened. She saw the outline of a woman, standing in the doorway, and she smiled as she anticipated Gina again. The smile froze on her face as the woman fully entered her room and Simone could see that she wasn’t Gina. Her eyes grew wide in shock as the woman slammed the door shut and stood before her in the candlelit room, making her features more recognizable.
"Tracy Quartermaine?" Simone whispered. What was she doing there, she wondered.
"Yes, I thought it was time we met face to face," Tracy said. Her eyes wandered around the room and finally settled on Simone with contempt and hatred.
Simone shrank back from her look and hoped that her greatest fear was not about to be realized.