Katherine was terrified, but she was a Pulitzer through and through, and that meant she knew how to hide her feelings. She was the only one awake at the moment, but she could feel the willowy form of Elsie beginning to stir, and she was sure her daughters would be waking soon as well. She was lying on her side, the nanny pressed against her back and the small forms of Lily and Rosa in front of her, and she could see a wall in front of them. Light was coming in from somewhere behind her, just enough that she could make out forms but not faces, so she thought that maybe they were in a closet or other small room. When she sat up, twisting around as best she could to scoot backwards, she found her hands were bound behind her with something softer than rope, but tougher than she could break free from. The knots were tight, barely loose enough for her hands not to go numb. Her head hurt in a throbbing, pulsing sort of way, bad enough that it was hard for her to concentrate, and her stomach felt like it was inside out. She pushed herself back until she found a wall, and leaned back. Elsie began to sit up as well, groaning softly.
"Miss Katherine? Where are we?" The nanny said groggily, looking around and finding the outline of Katherine in the dark.
"I don't know, Elsie." Katherine whispered. "The girls aren't awake, and I think we'd better be quiet."
"Who were those men, Miss Katherine? Why did they take us?"
"I don't know anything, Elsie. Just stay calm, okay? For me and the girls."
"I'm scared, Miss Katherine. My head hurts, and I feel sick."
"Me too. Just stay calm. I'm sure everything will be okay."
"Mama? Mama, it's dark. And cold. Mama, I'm scared. Where are we, Mama? Where's Daddy? Why did those men take us? Are we going to see Doc Evans, Mama?" Lily's small voice piped up in the dark.
"No, sweetheart, shh. Crawl over to me, okay? Can you see where I am?"
"What are we doing, Mama?"
"Just pretend we're hiding from Daddy, okay? Shh, you have to be quiet, okay? We don't want Daddy to hear us, right?"
"But I want Daddy to find us so we can be in the light, Mama."
"Shh, shh, just be quiet, okay? Daddy will come and find us soon, I promise."
"I'm here, Lils."
"You aren't going home, are you? You'll stay with me and Rosa and Mama, right?"
"I'm not going anywhere, Lils."
"Good." Katherine felt Lily crawl closer and settle down, leaning against her side.
"Miss Katherine, I think Rosa is waking up." Elsie whispered. Katherine strained her eyes and saw that Elsie was right. Rosa was shifting in her sleep, sucking her thumb and scrunching her face up. Katherine knew that look well. Little Rosa was about to burst into tears.
"Elsie, can you reach her? She's about to start crying, and I don't want anybody to hear her."
"My hands are tied, Miss Katherine. I don't know what I can do."
"Just try, Elsie, okay? You're much closer than I am."
"I'll try." Katherine watched as Elsie scooted closer to the three-year-old, trying to reach her before the tears started. She was too late.
"Maaaaaa-maaaaaa! My head hurts! Maaaaaa-maaaaaa!" Rosa wailed. Katherine winced.
"Hey, baby girl, hey, hey. Quiet down, 'kay? Can you quiet down for me?" Elsie whispered frantically. "Please, Rosebud, you gotta be quiet. Mama and Lily and me need you to be quiet." The nanny's soothing words had no effect, and Rosa kept crying hysterically and loudly.
"I don't feel good, Mama! I want Daddy! I want him to make me a feel good picture!" Katherine inhaled sharply at the sound of heavy footsteps approaching the door. She saw the whites of Elsie's eyes grow larger and knew that she had heard as well. The door flew open, and all four captives blinked into the light that flooded the space they were in. Katherine saw that she had been right. They were in a closet, large enough to fit them all easily, but a closet nonetheless.
"Well, well, well. Looks like all four of the lovely ladies of the Kelly household have decided to rejoin the world. And how are we feeling tonight, girls? Ready for some...fun?" Katherine looked up at the man who had spoken. He was huge. Rosa started to scream even louder when he appeared, and he shot an annoyed look in her direction before going back to his mocking smile. "Why don't we start with...you." He pointed at Elsie, who scrambled back further into the closet. She looked over at Katherine, apparently realizing the same thing at the same time. This man, whoever he was, though Elsie was part of the family. Elsie opened her mouth to say something, but Katherine shook her head slightly. It was quite possible that they were being held for ransom, meaning anybody not part of the family wouldn't be needed. If they knew Elsie wasn't a Kelly, things could be bad. "What's your name, girl?"
"Elsie Kelly, hmm? Well, pretty Miss Elsie, I think I'm gonna have lots of fun with that pretty young body. Boss said I'm not allowed to hurt any of you, but he didn't say anything about what I have in mind." The man lunged forward and grabbed Elsie's arm.
"No!" Katherine burst out. "Don't touch her!" The man looked at her, still smiling infuriatingly.
"Oh! Pretty Mrs. Kelly speaks up to protect her children. Would you rather I took you, then?" Katherine gritted her teeth. If that's what was needed, then so be it.
"I'd rather you hurt me than any of my children!"
"No, please, M-mother! Let him take me!"
"No!" The man pushed Elsie back roughly and took Katherine's arm instead. Katherine resisted the urge to flinch back and met his gaze. "She volunteered herself, now didn't you, Mrs. Kelly?"
"You are not laying a hand on my children!"
"Then you and me, we're gonna have some fun." Katherine allowed herself to be pulled out of the closet but didn't help the process. The man kicked the door shut roughly and Katherine heard Rosa's tears kick back into high gear. "You and me, sweetheart, you and me."
Yeesh. That got way darker way faster than it started out. You know, it seems like I say that every time I post. Apparently I subconsciously enjoy inflicting pain and suffering of different levels on all the characters. Also, who knew my Katherine muse was so protective? I mean, she only just met the Elsie muse like, two hours ago. She's just a natural mother, I guess. Also, Happy New Year, everybody!