Rain lashed around the little girl. Cutting drops
pulverized the dirt she had been thrown into, turning it into mud. The water
darkened her fiery hair to match the deep red of the blood seeping from the cut
by her swollen eye. Scrawny arms hugged stick-like knees to her heaving chest.
Bright green eyes stared in horror at the man raging before her, larger than life. Her father.
She was beyond understanding his screamed words. Her world was nothing but fear and pain. The only things she could do were cower, tremble and stare.
Something in the man's slate blue eyes snapped, and she was too helplessly paralyzed to even think about dodging the sudden rain of blows. Instead, she curled into a tight ball of terrified silence. Her body ached already, and this added pain was nothing new.
Something in her side snapped, there was a crunch in her shoulder and a sudden grinding in the opposite knee. Her back sent blinding agony to her brain as a sharp throb began in her head.
Through all this, she did not cry. She did not scream. She simply lay there and endured.
The man let out an enraged growl at his eldest's lack of response and snared the child's thin arms in the vices of his hands. He lifted the small, broken body from the mud and hurled her back into the luxurious mansion.
She landed in a pitiful heap on the floor. Dulled emerald eyes lifted to meet steel, then widened.
This time, she did fight his hands as he tore the clothing from her body. She whimpered quietly as he growled something about her mother and let himself free.
He crushed her to the marble floor and...
...she awoke with a strangled gasp. A woman now, her skin, paled with remembered terror, was slick with a thin sheen cold sweat. The slender throat worked convulsively to swallow the taste of fear. Brilliant eyes squeezed closed briefly before she slipped from the arms of the man holding her.
Ordinarily, she would have paused to admire him as he slumbered, but at the moment, she felt too dirty to by worthy of his attentions. So instead, she strode silently into the bathroom, turned on the shower and stripped down. Door locked behind her, she stepped under the hot water.
It soaked her hair, spider-webbing it over her back, her shoulders, and clothed her chilled skin with warmth.
She looked down at herself. Her body was powerfully built, her arms and shoulders tattooed with fierce dragons. All of her curves, graceful lengths of muscles, were scarred.
And it all felt horribly, horribly dirty. Worthless.
She desperately scrubbed at her skin with washcloth and hands. So hard it turned red and hypersensitive to the touch. Yet, she could not rid herself of the dream.
Tears came. Her legs gave out. She sank to the tiled floor of the shower, hid her face in shaking hands and let the pain yank the sobs out of her.