I nod and tell them what I know about Julian’s organization. Agent Bosovsky scribbles down notes as quickly as he can, while Agent Wilson continues asking me questions about Julian’s activities and the terrorists who stole me from him. They seem disappointed that he’s dead—and that I know so little—and I explain that I haven’t been off the island since my abduction.
“He kept you there for the entire fifteen months?” Agent Bosovsky asks, the frown lines on his thin face deepening. “Just you and this woman, Beth?”
The agents exchange a look, and I stare at them, knowing what they’re thinking. Poor girl, kept like an animal in a cage for a criminal’s amusement. Once I felt that way too, but no longer. Now I would do anything to rewind the clock and go back to being Julian’s captive.
Agent Wilson turns toward me and clears his throat. “Miss Leston, we’ll have a sexual abuse counselor speak to you later this afternoon. She’s very good—”
And I am. I don’t feel victimized or abused. I just feel numb.
After a few more questions, they leave me alone. I don’t tell them any details of my relationship with Julian, but I think they get the gist of it.
The FBI sketch artist comes to see me next, and I describe Julian to him. He keeps giving me funny looks as I correct his interpretation of my descriptions. “No, his eyebrows are a little thicker, a little straighter . . . His hair is a little wavier, yes, like that . . .”
He has particular trouble with Julian’s mouth. It’s hard to describe the beauty of that dark, angelic smile of his. “Make the upper lip a little fuller . . . No, that’s too full—it should be more sensuous, almost pretty . . .”
Finally, we’re done, and Julian’s face stares at me from the white sheet of paper. A bolt of agony spears through me again, but the numbness comes to my rescue right away, as it did before.
“That’s a handsome fellow,” the artist comments, examining his handiwork. “You don’t see men like that every day.”
My hands clench tightly, my nails digging into my skin. “No, you don’t.”
The next person to visit my room is the sexual abuse counselor they mentioned to me before. She’s a slightly overweight brunette who looks to be in her late forties, but something about her direct gaze reminds me of Beth.
“I’m Diane,” she says, introducing herself to me as she pulls up a chair. “May I call you Nora?”
“That’s fine,” I say wearily. I don’t particularly want to talk to this woman, but the determined look on her face tells me that she has no intention of leaving until I do.
“Nora, can you tell me about your time on the island?” she asks, looking at me.
“What do you want to know?”
I think about it for a moment. The truth of the matter is that I’m not comfortable telling her anything. How can I describe the way Julian made me feel? How can I explain the highs and lows of our unorthodox relationship? I know what she’s going to think—that I’m screwed up in the head for loving him. That my feelings aren’t real, but a byproduct of my captivity.
And she would probably be right—but it doesn’t matter to me anymore. There is right and wrong, and then there’s what Julian and I had together. Nothing and no one will ever be able to fill the void left inside me. No amount of counseling would make the pain of losing him go away.
I give Diane a polite smile. “I’m sorry,” I say quietly. “I’d rather not talk to you right now.”
She nods, not the least bit surprised. “I understand. Often, as victims, we blame ourselves for what happened. We think we did something to cause this thing to happen to us.”
“I don’t think that,” I say, frowning. Okay, maybe the thought did flit briefly through my mind when I was first taken, but getting to know Julian had quickly disabused me of that notion. He was a man who simply took what he wanted—and he had wanted me.
“I see,” she says, looking slightly puzzled. Then her brow clears as she appears to solve the mystery in her mind. “He was a very good-looking man, wasn’t he?” she guesses, staring at me.
I hold her gaze silently, not willing to admit anything. I can’t talk about my feelings right now, not if I want to maintain that icy distance that keeps me sane.
She looks at me for a few seconds, then gets up, handing me her card. “If you’re ever ready to talk, Nora, please call me,” she says softly. “You can’t keep it all bottled up inside. It will eventually consume you—”
“Okay, I will call you,” I interrupt, taking the card and placing it on my bedside table. I’m lying through my teeth, and I’m sure she knows it.
The corners of her mouth tilt up in a faint smile, and then she exits the room, finally leaving me alone with my thoughts.
For my parents’ arrival, I insist on getting up and putting on normal clothes. I don’t want them to see me lying in a hospital bed. I’m sure they have already spent too much time worrying about me, and the last thing I want is to add to their anxiety.
One of the nurses gives me a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and I gratefully put them on. They fit me well. The nurse is a petite Thai woman, and we’re roughly the same size. It’s strange to wear these types of clothes again. I had gotten so used to light summer dresses that jeans feel unusually rough and heavy against my skin. I don’t put on any shoes, though, since my feet still have to heal from the burns I got wandering through the remnants of the warehouse.