Eugene spat a mouthful of blood on to the floor. He was nearly delirious, sitting on the floor in a heap. He had throbbing aches in his mid section, more than likely caused by broken ribs and bruised muscle. Blood was streaming down his face from his hair line, matting on his eyebrow. The left side of his face was sore, his eye swollen shut by a strong hit from earlier. It was all from being tossed around like a sack of potatoes by the thugs who had once been his accomplices.
They had taken him to a dilapidated building in the middle of the woods, that at one point, must have been an inn for its size. It had been lit dimly with tallow candles and lanterns missing panes of glass. It did for a hideout, though.
Ruby had left the thugs to “look” after him while she went into the other room to take care of something. For the last hour of so, Eugene had gotten the pummeling of his life. It didn’t even compare to when Owen Friedberg had pounded him for putting manure in his shoes at the orphanage.
Eugene sat up and glared at the latest man who was “playing” with him. None other than the older Stabbington brother, Brutus.
“Aw, Rider, looks like I messed up that pretty little face of yours,” he grinned, cracking his knuckles.
“Yeah? Still looks better than yours.” The man brought the side of his foot to Eugene’s face and left him on the floor, nearly crying. He didn’t though; Eugene knew he couldn’t show any weakness with these men, or in front of Ruby.
His hands were tied behind his back, so he couldn’t pick himself up. All he could do was roll on his back and bare his teeth at the man. The brother crouched over him. He grabbed Eugene’s shirt in his fist and brought him to his face. His putrid breath seeped out as he spoke.
“So, tell me, Rider. How do you think you’re gonna get out of this one? You don’t have your personal ruffians, or that crazy horse. You don’t even have the girl with the magic hair.”
Eugene sneered, and without warning, cracked his head with Brutus’, making him release his grip on his shirt. Eugene leapt away from him and managed to get on his feet.
“Her name is Rapunzel!”
The other thugs all sprang for Eugene. He dodged them as best he could, but some still grabbed hold of him. He head butted them, just like he did Brutus, and kicked, and bit as well. Getting free, he made his way for the door, but something hard connected with his face. He nearly stumbled down, but managed to stay on his feet. He braced himself for another attack, and looked to see who the attacker was. Ruby.
She was standing between him and the door, her metal pole in her right hand, her left on her hip. She was smirking at him.
“Oh, Flynn, are you leaving so soon? We haven’t even given you any refreshments yet.” She took a step forward and twirled on her feet, swinging her weapon at Eugene. He managed to dodge it just in time. “And besides,” she continued, as she still sent blows his way, “you look tired. You should stay and rest awhile.” Her attempted hits were becoming aggressive and Eugene was beginning to falter. He only had so much strength after the beating he’d had earlier. Then he stumbled. Someone had put their foot out and as he reacted to catch himself, Ruby finally made contact with him. She hit him squarely in his stomach, knocking the air out of him. He collapsed to the floor on his knees and panted shallowly.
“Gentlemen, why don’t you get a chair for our guest?” Rough hands grabbed his shoulders and pulled Eugene to his feet. They undid the rope tying his hands and forced him into a chair. They tied his arms and legs down. He didn’t even struggle at the bonds. “You know, I think our guest would be more comfortable in the other room.” Ruby indicated to a door at the back. “Won’t you take him inside?” Someone dragged the chair through the door frame and left Eugene facing the wall. He heard the door close behind him.
Ruby’s heels clicked on the rotting floor to him. Eugene kept his head down, still trying to get air back in his lungs. Ruby gently pulled his face up to look at her.
“Oh, look at what they’ve done to you,” she said, brushing his hair from his eyes. Eugene jerked his head away.
“Don’t touch me,” he rasped out. Ruby looked genuinely hurt.
“You think I want to hurt you, Flynn?”
“My name is Eugene, and what was that out there?”
“That?” Ruby smiled. “That was me being the Alpha over those cretins out there. I have to show that I’m in charge.”
“By beating up an already injured man?”
“True, it is a weak attempt, but Flynn,” Ruby’s voice had become gentle, almost sweet, as she knelt down again, and rested her head on Eugene’s leg. “I’ve truly missed you all these years. I know it’s silly, because you’ve hurt me, but now that you’ve broken that silly girl’s heart, we can be together again. Just like old times.”
Eugene tried to get out from under her, but couldn’t, being tied to the chair.
“Just like old times? You made me lie to the woman I love. You’ve kidnapped me and beaten me. What makes you think you and I will ever go back to a ‘just like old times’ partnership?”
Ruby looked up at him, smiling like a cat.
“Because you have no choice. As much as you’ve tried to deny it, you always hated being alone. You simply cannot function as a human being while you’re alone. And now, you are alone. You abandoned your princess with those words you said. You have no one to go back to, but me.”
Eugene glared at her.
“If you really think that Rapunzel bought those little fibs back there, you’ve got another thing coming. She wouldn’t ever doubt me, not after everything we’ve been through. She knows I would die for her. Why, I bet she convinced her father to send his best men to come find me. You and your ‘men’ are going to be captured and will go straight to the gallows.”
Ruby slapped Eugene across the face. She grabbed his shirt collar and spat into his face.
“Why? Why are you so loyal to that little twit? What has she ever done for you that I never did?” Eugene looked at her squarely.
“She loves me. With all her heart.”
Ruby slapped him again and stomped out. She slammed the door and Eugene heard her yell to the men that she would kill any man who went in there. She then called for the Stabbington brothers to come with her and Eugene heard another door slam shut. The men on the other side mumbled and murmured, but no one else came in.
Eugene sighed. He had told such a lie to Ruby. Rapunzel and her father’s men weren’t coming for him. No one was coming for him. Ruby was right; he was all alone now.
Rapunzel had been devastated by his false words. It broke his heart again just to think about her sitting on the docks like that; heartbroken. Why? Why did he have to say such lies? Why was Ruby ruining him like this? Couldn’t she just kill him for revenge? Eugene wouldn’t have liked that anymore, but at least he wouldn’t have lied to Rapunzel.
Eugene looked at the floor. His face was so bruised and sore, he didn’t feel the tears running down, but he saw the little drops hit the floor.
“I’m so sorry, Rapunzel.”