Sapphire peeled open her eyelids and looked blearily around. She had a vague recollection of blurting out her shameful past to someone. She could not remember who it was though. Daylight from an open window to the left of her sent a brilliant flash of white searing through her mind. Her head throbbed painfully. She groaned.
"Dat better?" came a low husky male voice as the burning light was shut out. She gasped. Memories of overly enthusiastic men tearing into her overwhelmed her.
Transported back in time, Sapphire was once again a frightened child. Vulnerable to the animalistic lust of the opposite gender, powerless to do anything to prevent her fragile form from being brutally assaulted...
The rotund Chinese man swaggered towards her. She looked down at her feet, afraid of what would happen next. He grabbed her by her shoulders and threw her on the bed. His oily red face just inches above hers. His hot breath stank of cheap liquor.
"Please Sir, don't..." she whimpered.
"You little bitch! Trying to act coy, eh? You can quit pretending to be so shy and demure. I know your innermost wants and desires. I can fulfil your needs. Don't worry, it won't hurt...MUCH!"
He laughed and started thrusting into her. She cried. She begged. She screamed. She fought. It was all to no avail. He rutted her mercilessly. That was her first time.
He left her in a whole world of pain. She hugged her wretched self and sobbed. What do you know about what I want? I want my family. My mummy. My daddy. My little baby sister. I DON'T WANT YOU! Angry tears burned their way down her cheeks.
In the midst of her self-pity, she heard someone yell, "NON!" It came from the room next to hers. She tiptoed out of her room. Sounds of a fight ensuing could be heard. Someone cursed. There was a crash. A slap resounded through the corridor like a pistol shot. She darted back into her room as the teahouse owner appeared with a whip in hand.
After all the commotion had died down, she picked up her courage and went to visit her 'next-door neighbour'. She knocked on the door.
There came an angry, "GO AWAY!" Had it been anyone else but her, whoever inside would have felt the sting of the whiplash in ten seconds flat.
She went in.
Sapphire was surprised to discover that a boy occupied this particular room. He sat on the bed, hugging his knees with his head buried in them. She guessed that he was about her age, or perhaps slightly older.
She went over and touched his shoulders. He swept her hand away deftly and looked up. His eyes blazed...a lovely deep crystalline blue, contrasting starkly with the reddish brown bangs falling over them. The flare of anger in his eyes died down.
"Oh...it's you." he sounded relieved.
"Uhm...do I...know you?"
"Nope," came his curt reply.
"Then how do you..."
"Saw dem take you in."
"My name's Sapphire."
"I know," he paused. "Did dey...did dey take you yet?"
Sapphire nodded, head bowed low. "Hurts."
He issued her a proud challenging look. "I'll never let dem take me, not wit'out a fight...NEVER!"
"...but..." Sapphire gently touched the angry red lashes that criss-crossed his body. He flinched.
"You wan' lie wit' dem willin'ly? Dat better?"
Her first friend at the teahouse. His fighting spirit gave her strength, saw her through the days, helped her endure the nights. They planned to escape. They had it all worked out. They would sneak out one night, make for the docks and stowaway on a ship to America.
He succeeded. She did not. The teahouse remained her home for the next ten years or so, till Genevieve showed up in her life.
"I ain' done nothin' t' you." Remy cocked his head and looked quizzically at her.
She nodded. "I know."
He glided over to her and handed her a glass of water and an aspirin which she accepted gratefully.
"Thanks. I'll be on my way now. Don't want to impose on you anymore than I already have." She got out of bed, stood up shakily and pressed a palm to her temple.
"I t'ink you'd better rest for a little longer, non? I'll take you home in a while."
"NO!...I mean, I'll be fine soon. In fact, I'm feeling quite alright now. I'll leave right away." Remy looked at her pointedly.
"Wait a moment...dat Miss Dar of yours...wouldn' happen t' be Miss Darceneaux, would she?"
Sapphire concealed her fear and eyed Remy evenly.
"Thank you for everything. I really must go now."
Remy nodded slowly. "One more t'ing..."
"Yes?" Her voice was minus zero degrees.
"Your sister? Jubilation Lee? She be in de next room."
End of Part 9