“Really? You can go outside?” I say a little too loud.
“Like I said, there’s a lot they hide from you. Everything you’ve been taught is a lie. The virtuous live in a bubble made to keep them imprisoned. The world is different on the outside.” He sighs and rolls over onto his back. “You should sleep.”
A bubble, just like I thought. But why do the emissaries lie to everyone?
I try and imagine rain that doesn’t freeze, and I think of the stars again.
“They’re coming,” Ethan whispers, and it’s only then I hear the footsteps coming up the tracks.
“Sleep. I’ll stay awake,” Chance whispers back.
My head clears of all traces of calm when laughter and slurring voices fill the platform.
Dear Almighty! All the men are sleeping here?
A man crawls onto the mat next to me and almost slaps me in the face. My lips part with a gasp as another man kneels behind him, and they start to undress.
What on Earth?
They kiss, and it sounds wet and sloppy.
As they pull their pants down, I start to blink, and stunned out of my mind, I watch as the one man slams his private part hard against the other man’s backside.
I almost shriek but cover my mouth in time to squash the sound.
I’ve never witnessed anything so depraved before, and it leaves me frozen in shock while panic floods my body. My breaths start to come faster and faster until they’re exploding against my palm.
Hands grip hold of me, and I’m spun around, coming face to face with Chance. His eyes lock on mine, and it makes overwhelming shame fill my chest.
One of the men groans, and it’s followed by a hurried pace of skin slapping.
When I cringe, Chance wraps an arm around me and pulls me right against his body. His hand finds my hair, and he presses my face into his shirt. Lowering his head until I feel his breath blow over my ear, he whispers, “You have to become stronger, Jai. This world is not for the weak. I understand it’s a shock, but you can’t have a panic attack.”
I nod quickly, taking deep breaths of Chance’s scent.
I can’t believe what I just saw. It was downright barbaric!
I keep my voice low so no one else will hear. “I’m trying, but it’s hard when two men are doing filthy things to each other right next to me.”
“It’s nature. There’s nothing wrong with two adults appreciating each other’s bodies.”
Still, it’s not right doing it in public.
My tongue darts out to wet my dry lips, then I dare to ask, “So it’s not a sin to show affection?”
“No, it’s not. And touching doesn’t make you impure, either.”
I pull slightly back and tip my head to see Chance’s face. “Is that the truth?”
It’s hard to believe everything I’ve ever known is wrong.
The men’s moans and groans become louder, and I hear sounds I’ve never heard before.
Why does it feel wrong?
There’s a sickening twist in the pit of my stomach.
“You’ll learn to adjust to how things are done here.”
I seriously doubt that.
Chance tugs me back to his chest, then covers my right ear with his palm while pressing my left to his shirt.
Hearing his steady heartbeat thumping in my ear, I close my eyes and try to forget where I am, matching my heartbeat to his rhythm. Only then do I become aware of his other arm around my waist, holding me tightly. His fingers brush softly over my lower back, and it soothes me.
Something knocks against my back, and I hear Chance’s voice rumble from his chest, “Stay off my fucking mat.”
“You could join us, loverboy,” the one man breathlessly coos. “We haven’t had a girl before.”
“No fucking way that’s happening, fuck-face,” Chance growls, sounding more threatening than ever. “I don’t share my woman.”
I press closer to the man that’s kept me alive, the only one I feel safe with. I don’t care whether it’s inappropriate and wrap my arm around his waist, grabbing hold of his shirt.
Give me half a second, and I’ll crawl under him.
His mouth returns to my ear. “Don’t worry. They won’t try anything.”
I nod quickly, then whisper, “Thank you.”
When I press closer to Chance, his hand moves up my back, and his fingers wrap around my neck. The touch sends a wave of tingles rushing over my skin.
I get my wish when he angles his body half over mine, and even with all the depraved things happening around me, I feel protected.
Dear, Almighty, thank you for Chance. I’m sure I would’ve been dead by now. Or used by all these men.
The prayer shudders through my body.
Chance is all that stands between this cruel world I’ve been thrown into – one I don’t understand – and my survival.
As the hours' crawl by, I lie completely still, every inch of my body pressed to Chance’s.