Billionaire Unveiled

By: J.S. Scott

Dani

A Year Ago…

I knew I was going to die.

The only question was how long I had to live before the rebel group of terrorists who had kidnapped me would finally execute me.

I was hurting so badly that I was grateful when I lost consciousness. I had no idea how long I’d been imprisoned. It seemed like years, like I’d lived in this perpetual state of pain, deprivation, and humiliation for what seemed like forever. I’d tried to keep track of the days passing by, but I’d probably lost a few.

How long had I been like this?

A week?

Two?

Had I lost more days than I’d thought?

Death would pretty much be a blessing. I’m not sure how much more of their torture I can take. I’m not getting out of here. The US wouldn’t bargain with terrorists, and I’m never going to escape. Even if I had the opportunity, I don’t have the strength to get away.

It’s not that I wanted to die, but there was only so much agony a person could endure before they hoped for some reprieve, even if it meant they’d only find that relief from death.

At least it was late into the night, a small portion of the twenty-four-hour day that I’d come to welcome because the terrorists were all sleeping. It was the only time I wasn’t terrified they’d decide to stroll in to torment me.

I was curled into a ball in the middle of the dirt floor, trying desperately not to think about food, water, or the fact that every inch of my body felt like I’d been used as a punching bag.

Reminding myself that my sacrifice had meant that some teenagers had been able to get their butts back across the border to safety was a fact I tried to hang onto with everything I had. I’d probably have to die so a bunch of kids could live.

It was a decent trade-off, right? If it was one or the other—which it had been—it was better for one person to die than a bunch of kids.

My issue with my reasoning was that I really didn’t want to die. The survivor in me wanted all of us to live.

Unfortunately, the tiny portion that was left of my rational brain told me that wasn’t possible.

I tried to take a deep breath, but it hurt so bad to breathe. I exhaled gently, trying to convince myself that for now, I was alone and wasn’t likely to be disturbed until daylight.

No sooner had I told myself I was safe for a few hours, when a big hand slapped over my mouth with absolutely no warning. I fought the adversary, determined not to go down without a fight, even though I had very little strength.

I always fought.

It was just the way I was wired.

The nighttime was mine, the only chance I had to think—if I could stay conscious—and it pissed me off that the few hours I had to rest were being taken away from me.

I was sick of being a source of entertainment for the rebels whenever they wanted to torment me. I wished they’d just kill me and get it over with. If they did, the fighter in me would remain forever silent.

“Danica. It’s Marcus Colter. I’m getting you out of here. Stay quiet.”

The harsh whisper finally invaded my sluggish brain. Marcus Colter? What in the hell was he doing here?

I had to wonder if I was getting delusional. Marcus was an international businessman, a custom suit-wearing billionaire. Yes, he did always seem to show up in dangerous areas of the world. But why would he be in the desolate camp where I was being held prisoner?

I stopped trying to fight him, realizing that he was attempting to help me. “Marcus?” I said weakly once he’d uncovered my mouth.

He didn’t speak, but he made a big slashing gesture for me to stop making any noise, and I could see it pretty plainly in my dimly lit prison.

Normally, I didn’t like Marcus Colter. When we were in a civilized environment, we did nothing but antagonize each other. But right now, his voice gave me a glimmer of hope. At the moment, he was more friend than foe. Squinting into the darkness, I tried to make out the features of his face, but his form was pretty much a shadow, a man dressed entirely in black.

He met no resistance as he picked me up. I wrapped my arms around his neck with whatever strength I could muster, staying as quiet as possible as he carried me past the tents and out of the place where I’d thought I was going to breathe my last breath.

I buried my face in his neck, absorbing his scent like a sponge thirsts for water. He smelled like safety and freedom, and after all I’d been through at the hands of the rebels, it was an irresistible smell.

It seemed like he walked for hours until we arrived at a Jeep. Marcus jumped in quickly, holding me on his lap, the vehicle sprinting into motion the moment we were settled.

I couldn’t speak. Not only was the action difficult due to my dry mouth and my cracked lips, but everything that was happening seemed…surreal.

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