• The sun rose above the never ending forest. The forest was my present and future now. It kept the harms of the outside world away, but it also kept me prisoner. I hated the peace, I hated the quiet. There were only a few times I saw anyone other than my “Father.” This man, a Mr. Dawson, was top dog in his company. I scoffed at the thought, it was definitely not a company. More like a gang. A stupid Mafia.
    How did I get caught in all this? I was his perfect child.
    When the big man of the Mafia asks for a child, what do the people do? They find him a child. But John didn't want any child, he wanted her to look perfect. Long dark hair, preferably brown, and bright, life-filled green eyes. Of course, the company men couldn't find anyone like that in the system. The one thing they didn't want was for John to be unhappy with their work, no no no, that wouldn't do. So they looked for some other way to get a child that fit his needs. They found me in a town nearby.
    While my parents were out getting dinner, two “cops” showed up at my door and told me they had been killed. I was a day away from being thirteen so I was easily manipulated. They loaded me in their car and told me a nice man wanted to take me in, keep me out of the system and out of the foster houses. Nice man my foot.
    “Dear, sweet Katheryn. Do come back inside. I do not wish you to catch a cold!” Mr. Dawson said from behind me. He opened the window wider and held out his hand. “Come back inside, Katheryn.” His voice was deep, full of authority.
    “Yes, Master.” I said, sighing. With one last, hopeful glance at the woods, I turned to John and took his hand. He helped me get back into my room from the roof. “Thank you Father.”
    His dark brown eyes looked into mine, he seemed to look straight into my soul, into my being. “Dear Katheryn, would you care to join me in tonight's meeting?”
    “I would love to. Anything for you, Father.” I said, giving him a smile as I walked to my closet. “Who are we meeting?” Pulling out my black jacket, I looked back at him.
    John raised his eyebrow at me, “Lord Marcus and his wife. And their son as well, Nick. I would like for you to, as you say, 'hang-out' with him. He has much to learn about our ways, as do his parents. Keep him in check, show him around. And above all else, remember this: a sinner who chooses Eve over God will be punished.”
    “I understand. If would would be so kind and leave me? I need to change if you want me to join you.” I smiled warmly at him, letting the lies slip so easily from my mouth. I waved a hand towards the midnight-blue blouse and navy-blue darling jeans. As he walked to the door, I reached up for the gray military-style cap on the right corner of the mirror. “I'll join you outside in a moment.” I called before he closed the door.
    Quickly I changed and made myself presentable. When I opened my door again, Father stood waiting. “You look as beautiful as ever, my Katheryn. Come.” He walked me down two flights of stairs and down a hallway into his meeting chamber. Before he opened the door, Mr. Dawson placed his hand on my shoulder. “Before I let you on your way, tell me: Who is your Father and Lord?”
    I quickly recited the answer I knew he was looking for. “You are my Father, my Lord by God. There are no other Gods before me.” I grimaced, hating being reminded just how crazy this guy was.
    John opened the door. Waiting was an elder man who obviously had seen his fair share of wars, and his wife, who was dressed in a tight red dress, had on too much makeup, and had fake blonde hair, was hanging on his arm. “Marcus, glad you could join us. This is my girl, Katheryn. Katheryn, say hello to Marcus' son, Nick.” John waved his hand over towards the door across the room.
    I turned then, to see a boy who seemed to be about seventeen. His features showed he was bored, but completely calm. His skin was lightly tanned, showing that he once worked on a farm but hasn't seen much sun lately. His clothes, very casual, showed that he really didn't care what others thought. Nick wore a black shirt tucked into faded boot-cut jeans. The waist of said jeans were being held up, loosely, by a dark brown belt and simple black converses dressed the boys feet. “Hello,” he said, his voice deep and rich. I could hear a slight twang at the end of every word, “I'm Nick.” He extended his hand towards me.
    Before I had a chance to take it, John knocked Nick's hand away and struck his cheek. “Don't ever speak unless spoken to first, got it boy?” His voice was harsh and I was shocked into silence. “I mean really, Marcus, did you not teach this boy manners at all? Look at this! He hides his face with his hair like this, sweeping over his right eye. What were you thinking, child?”
    “It...it was what I wanted. Get over it.” Nick snapped, earning another slap on his already red cheek. This time, I found my voice.
    “Father, enough. You should not harm one of God's creatures. It's obvious Nick was forgiven for his...personality. Would God not strike him down if he felt offended?” I played with Mr. Dawson's weakness, truly playing with fire. When he nodded, backing off, I let out a sigh of relief and turned back to Nick. “I'm sorry. He gets that way a lot.” I noted his perfectly sculpted body, muscles just big enough to make any girl in school swoon at the sight of them, and noticed that his eyes were the deepest and richest shade of blue I had ever seen. When the light hit them from just the right angle, dark indigo spots danced in them.
    Nick murmured something that sounded like “I'm fine.” when Marcus laughed nervously and held his wife's hand tightly. “Nick, my boy, go along with Katheryn now. We adults have important business to talk about.”
    “Of course...anything you say.” Nick took a deep breath before meeting my eye. “Where to, princess?” he asked, following me down a side hallway.
    “Excuse me?” Princess? What's this kid's problem? When he didn't answer I threw open the door to my room and all but slammed it behind him.
    “Nice place, princess.” he said, standing right behind me. His breath on my neck sent shivers down my spine and I spun around to face him.
    “The names Katheryn, not 'princess', got it? You think your cheek hurts now wait till I finish with you.” I said, smiling sweetly. I felt my heart flutter when I realized just how close Nick had been. My nose practically brushed his. My breath hitched when I saw a burning in his eyes, desire.
    “Whatever you say, Katheryn. But answer me this: why do you stay here?” He placed a hand on my arm. “I mean...you can't possible like living in the middle of nowhere.” his voice was barely a whisper.
    “I hate it here,” I said simply, “but I have to stay.”
    “Why? I bet he would jump off a cliff if you asked. Maybe you should just walk out the door and BAM, just like that you're on your way outta here.” he said, shaking his head slightly before realizing the mistake that was.
    His lips accidentally brushed mine because of that slight movement, his grip tightened on my arm and my head felt lighter than usual. “I..that man, John Dawson, is not my Father. He is just a crazy religious freak who wanted a kid without going out and actually creating a kid. Got it? I would love to break out but I can't.” I gently tugged my arm free from his hand and turned away. “I don't expect you to understand, pretty boy. But my life isn't as perfect as you think.”
    I heard him take a deep breath, “I understand more than you realize. My brother was going to be taken, just like you were, but I took his place. He was so young, only seven, and he wanted to stay on the family farm. Work in father's footsteps. I chose this life so that he could have the one he deserves.” I could hear the pain and fear in his voice, see the tears on his cheeks from his reflection in the mirror.
    “Y..you chose this? This life of slavery, prison, just to save your brother...” I turned around to face him again.
    “Yeah...and now, I'm gonna help you out. Let's break outta here. What do you say, princess?” I didn't correct him at first, noticing that he wasn't insulting me this time. He was claiming me as his princess. Wow. One conversation, one brush of the lips and he already wants to sweep me off my feet and take me away from the tallest tower on the castle. How sweet.
    I laughed, “Would you stop calling me princess?” I finally said, “I've already told you...” I was cut off when he pressed his lips against mine.
    “Katheryn...I'm going to get you out of here. No matter what it takes. No one should go through what we have.” he whispered, pulling me into his arms and pressing his cheek in my hair. “Someone as young as you are...you should be at school, whining about too much homework, calling all your girlfriends and talking about boys. I want to get you the life you had before, the life you truly deserve.”
    “You really believe you can break us out of here?” I said in disbelief. I've tried so many ways, nothing has ever worked.
    “I'll do anything to make that possible.” he murmured, lifting his hand to stroke my back soothingly, “And I believe I know a way.” Nick suddenly backed up, looking around until he spotted my window. “Come on!” He took my hand and threw up the window, jumping onto the windowsill. “We need to get to the platform up top. My 'families' helicopter is landed there.”
    Quickly we ducked out the window and onto the roof. The climb upward wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and we made it in no time flat. “Start the copter.” Nick said to the pilot, “Me and the little lady need to get outta here.” Nodding, the pilot opened the doors and turned the key in the ignition. “Lets get going. I sat next to Nick in the back, watching out the window as the house I've been trapped in for three and a half years slowly fall away from view. I couldn't help but smile and laugh. I was free!
    Or so I thought I was, so I wanted to be.
    I froze when I heard the shot from a gun, my breath became a short breath caught in my throat when the copter shook violently. I grew pale when the helicopter began spiraling downward again.
    Nick whispered my name, held me close, kissed me hard. I felt the tears run down my face when I realized that I would die here, the prison hidden in the forest. I thought back to my first try at running away. “Death was the only way out of here, my Katheryn.” was what Father had told me.
    Death was the only way out of here. John made now that clear to me as I spiraled down to my Fate.