She’d held the focus. He’d screamed anyway, and now he was just lying there. “What did you do to him?” Wren looked up at Renee.
Renee was fitting the gemstone into a ring. “I tore his soul in half, child.” She slipped the ring onto her finger, then held up her hand. It sparkled. “Pretty, isn’t it?”
“Adam?” She put her hand on the side of his face. “Oh god, Adam…” She made a sobbing sound. “Why?”
“You held your focus.” Renee smiled. “I thought for certain it would take you at least two attempts.” She lowered her hand. “A small reward, then.” She touched a finger to the gemstone, and there was a small flash of light.
Adam’s body jerked, and his dark brown eyes opened. He blinked up at her. “Wren?”
“Adam.” She pulled him into her arms, holding him tightly.
“Take him back to your room.” Renee shrugged. “You have one hour, then he goes back into the cage.”
He had to lean on Wren to get up the stairs. His head was still swimming, and he felt weak, as though he run ten miles on only a couple hours of sleep. Wren led him to the room, and he all but collapsed onto the pad. “Wren.”
“Shh…” Wren sat next to him, pulling him into her arms again. “You’re going to be okay.”
“Wren, you need to get out of here.” Adam looked up at her.
“I’m not going anywhere without you.” Wren’s eyes were wet.
“She’s hurting you.” Adam swallowed before reaching up a hand to touch her cheek. “Please, just go.”
“I won’t leave you to her.” Wren’s voice was fierce. “I’m learning, Adam.” She laid down next to him, pulling him close. “I can…” She swallowed. “I can take it, I can…” She kissed him. “I can take it long enough to get you out of this.”
“Oh, Wren…” He held her tightly as tears of his own started to fall. He buried his face in her hair, then took a ragged breath. “What did she do?”
“She said…” Wren ran her fingers through his hair. “That she split your soul in half. I think she put it into that gemstone.”
“She…” He pulled back slightly, giving her a confused look. “What?”
“I don’t know.” Wren shook her head. “But she did something do the energy inside you. It was…” She sighed. “I don’t know.”
Wren’s heart lurched when she heard the door open, and she tightened her arms around Adam. “Please, don’t.”
“Time’s up.” Renee shook her head.
“Please, just leave him —” Wren gasped as Adam’s body suddenly jerked in her arms. He screamed as his form started to shift and convulse, and a moment later she found herself holding the rabbit. “Adam…”
“Put him in the cage, girl.” Renee smirked. “Your day is just beginning.”
She cried out in pain as Renee twisted her nipple again, then moaned when Renee’s hand slipped between her legs to rub gently. “Focus, girl.”
“I’m trying.” Wren shook her head. She sobbed when Renee’s fingers pinched the sensitive flesh between her legs. “Stop, please.”
“If you were focused, girl, this wouldn’t…” Renee drew back and slapped her across the face. “Stop that blubbering. You cannot focus on a spell while you are leaking tears all over the place.” She made a growling sound before slapping Wren again. “I can see you need other incentive.” Renee walked into the cottage.
Wren’s stomach lurched, and she yanked the restraints that secured her arms above her head. She stared in horror as Renee returned, carrying the rabbit by the scruff of the neck. “No, leave him alone, please.”
Renee flung him to the ground, and he landed face down as Adam. He started to get up, Renee’s foot came down on his back. Quickly, she bound his hands together, twisting them up behind his back and making him cry out in pain as she secured the knots. Then she grabbed him by the hair, dragging him to kneel in front of Wren. His head was shoved between Wren’s spread legs. “You need to learn to focus, girl. Your toy here is going to use his tongue to help you out with that. Direct him well, girl, because you only have until the hourglass runs out to get off. You fail, I punish him for it.”
For a few minutes, she thought it was going to be an easy victory. Adam knew what she liked, and was applying himself to the task. Her breathing was starting to become panting. And then pain blossomed along her back as Renee brought a strap across her. She screamed in pain, jerking forward hard enough to knock Adam back. Behind her, Renee started laughing. “I said for you to focus, girl.”
Horror filled her when she looked down at Adam. He swallowed before returning to his earlier position. She tried concentrating on the feel of his mouth and tongue, but then Renee would hit or pinch and the pleasurable feelings would go away. Tears were running down her face. “Why are you doing this to us?” She choked out the words.
“I’m teaching you, girl.” Renee smirked. “Concentrate.” The lash came down across Wren’s breasts, making her shriek. “I said concentrate.”
“Adam…” Wren wished she could think of something to tell him.
“Time’s up.” Adam was yanked away from her.
“Don’t. Please. Leave him alone.”
The moment she cut his bonds, Adam tried to launch himself up. If he could overpower her, just for… Her eyes flashed, and he abruptly found himself unable to move. A small smile came to the hag’s face, and she held up her hand. The gemstone on her ring was faintly glowing. “In the box there…” She extended her other hand to point. “There is a whip. Get it and bring it back to me.”
Horror rose as his body moved to obey her command. He could hear Wren pleading with the hag, begging. He opened the drawer and saw the coiled whip inside. His stomach rolled, but he was unable to stop himself from picking it up and carrying it to the hag. She took it from him, then turned to Wren. “This is power, girl. This is what you can do when you concentrate.” She smirked at Wren. Then she turned back to him, and gestured toward Wren.
He found himself walking toward where she was restrained. His body stopped in front of her, so close they were nearly pressed together. Then his hands came up and gripped her wrists. Wren was crying, her eyes only inches from his. “Please don’t do this to him.” Wren shook her head, but her eyes didn’t leave his. “Adam, I’m sorry.”
As much as he wanted to reassure her, to say it wasn’t her fault, he couldn’t make his voice work. The best he could do was give her a small smile, and he knew it wouldn’t help. There was a sound, and then fire burned along his shoulders. He screamed, but otherwise his body was prevented from moving. The hag’s will held him in place as the whip came again. And again. Wren was shrieking, struggling in the restraints for both of them, begging the hag to stop as the whip came yet again.
It was something of a relief when the thirtieth lash proved the hag couldn’t prevent him from losing consciousness.
Adam’s hands released her wrists as he slid bonelessly to the ground. Renee stopped the lash before it could strike Wren herself, then she started laughing. “Only thirty. You picked a weak one.”
“You took half of him away!” Wren stared down at him, somewhat relieved when she realized he was still breathing. “Adam.”
“Well girl, this is an opportunity for another lesson.” Renee unfastened her wrists from the restraints, and Wren immediately knelt next to Adam. “If you can manage to concentrate just a little, I’ll show you how to heal him. If you don’t, your toy isn’t going to be as pretty after this. The next few days will be hell for him. Might even get an infection and die.” She kicked dirt at Adam.
“Stop…” Wren glared up at her. Then she looked down at Adam’s unconscious form. “Show me the spell.”
“Watch, girl…” Renee’s smile was cruel. “Because I’ll only show you once today.”
Wren’s eyes didn’t leave the witch as Renee performed the spell on Wren herself, healing the few bruises she’d taken as part of her ‘training’. Then Wren took a deep breath, and pulled Adam’s form into her lap. She caressed his cheek, and then focused.
Something seemed to tingle in her fingers and then… She could feel him, sense Adam’s presence in the gloam. She sent energy and then… Her eyes widened when the bleeding welts Renee had torn into his back began to close and fade. Within moments, they vanished. Only two left marks behind, faint scars.
His eyes opened, staring up at her in confusion. “Adam.” She bent, kissing him.
“Well girl, looks like we’re onto something here.” Her blood ran cold at the sound of Renee’s voice. “Next time you screw up a spell, I’ll give you a choice.” Renee chuckled. “You can give him twenty lashes…” She patted Wren’s head. “Or I’ll give him fifty.”