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See prologue for disclaimers and other notes.

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Chapter 1

When night came, their captors broke off talks with the Russian government, knowing its was paralyzed and powerless to do nothing without the presence of the Tsarina. So all the rebels, minus the core group assigned to guard their valued prisoners, slept like the dead with the assurance the government wouldn’t dare to do anything stupid to endanger the life of their beloved Empress.

Even with the sweat and grime of the last several hours marring Irina’s face, several of the male captors were starring at her with clear desire in their eyes. Their gazes made Jack nervous because he knew if anyone of them wanted to take Irina, he would be powerless to do anything about it. He was also furious because these men would think of doing such a thing to his wife when she’d been through too many similar ordeals in her life. She did not need to be raped, and she most certainly did not need to endure the torture of being gang raped again.

And so at the end of the first day they spent as hostages of the Chechen rebels, Jack kept a vigil over Irina as she slept on the floor of the gym with her head laid on his lap. With his hands bound with a plastic tie, he stroked her hair as best he could while he continued to stare down the guards whenever they ventured too close for comfort, never closing his eyes once.

After what felt like an endless night, the sun finally started to light the sky up outside. Irina finally stirred, looking up into Jack’s concerned orbs before she sat awkwardly to lean against the wall beside him.

“Did you sleep at all?” she asked quietly, seeing obvious signs of exhaustion in his face.

“No,” he admitted surprising her. “I couldn’t.”

He indicated one of the guards nearby with his eyes, “I don’t like the way they look at you.”

She lifted her own bound hands and gestured for him to lay his head in her lap, halting his objection with, “Jack, you can’t stop them from anything to me. We both know if they wanted me, and if you tried to stop them, they would kill you.” Her voice broke here, “And at least one of us has to make it out of this alive for Lena’s sake. Now, try to rest. I’ll be all right.” Jack nodded, reluctance evident in his voice as he said, “All right.” He laid down then, his head in her lap and before he closed his eyes he said, “Я люблю вас.”{I love you}

Just as he did earlier for her, Irina began stroking his hair as best she could with her bound hands and softly she replied, “Я люблю вас слиш ком.”{I love you too}Under her gentle touch, Jack had fallen asleep within moments, and Irina was left alone in her thoughts.

After nearly two hours had passed, Irina knew her blood sugar was getting high as she was starting to get groggy. She knew she needed insulin and to get something to eat soon before her sugar levels got any higher. When she could keep her silence no longer, she gestured to one of the guards nearby, immediately catching his attention.

“да, Ваша Королевское Величество?” {Yes, Your Majesty?} asked the masked thug, his tone mocked her.

“Мы съесть,” {We need to eat} Irina replied, her gaze turned hard.

“Если я даю вам хлеб, то воля вы дает мне в возвращении?” {If I give you bread, what will you give me in return?} he asked in a suggestive tone.

Jack’s eyes flew open, and in an instant he was attempting to lunge at the man before him as he said in an enraged tone, “Пуля в мозге вы сынок а– ” {A bullet in the brain, you son of a–}

However he did not finish what he was saying as the Chechen brought the butt of his rifle in violent contact with the side of Jack’s head. A sickening thud resounded through the small gym as Jack slumped over against the wall, and down onto the floor. Before Irina could act, the rebel had landed two kicks to Jack’s side. Despite her hands being bound, Irina leapt up off of the floor to deliver a sweeping kick, knocking the rebel’s feet out from under him. As he landed on the floor, and before any of the other guards could get to them, Irina had found the fallen one’s knife. She pressed the knife to the rebel’s throat and would have slit it without a second throught when she heard the sound of a gun being cocked.

Ilya’s cold voice spoke, “Остановите его или он умирает!” {Stop it or he dies!}

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Forgive me if the grammar in the Russian phrases isn’t correct as I used an online translator for my translations.