~~~DREAMS~~~

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken~winged bird

that cannot fly

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams go

Life is a barren~field

covered with snow

~~Langston Hughes~~

Thanks for Lisa and Cynthia for giving me advice and helping me out with the spelling and grammar. Thanks girls!!

Hold fast to dreams

by Tessa

Chapter 1: The abduction of Marguerite

It was a cold night. A night so cold it had never been experienced before on the plateau. «Not in the three years that we have been here in this godforsaken place» Marguerite Krux thought.

Miss Krux had experienced a cold like this before. When they had been on the plateau for a couple of months, she and Lord Roxton had shared a tent high up in the mountains. Trying to keep warm they had shared body heat and the cold soon was gone and a fire was lit. Marguerite shivered at the thought of their kiss that night before they were interrupted by Norse warriors.

But now the cold was not only in the mountains. It was extremely uncommon that it was so cold in this area, where the treehouse stood. It kept Marguerite from sleeping. With a sigh she stood up and reached for her dressing-gown. While walking towards the living room she fastened it. Walking carefully trough the dark room, trying not to wake anyone she found her way to the table were a plate with fruit stood. As her arm reached out to the plate a low familiar voice spoke.

"Miss Krux, why are you up at this hour? Don't you need your beauty sleep?"

Marguerite, startled by the sudden sound, regained composure. "Lord Roxton, I could ask you the same."

The handsome hunter grinned. This was a game they both loved to play. They had played it from the first day they had met. He walked closer and when he was by the table, he also took a piece of fruit from the plate. He looked at her. «God, she is beautiful. Even at this hour of the day she can take my breath away.»

Marguerite, feeling Roxton staring at her, looked up. Giving him a little smile. "Well?"

Roxton looked confused at her. "Do I get an answer?"

"An answer on what?"

Marguerite walked towards Roxton. When she was close enough she leaned forward, whispering in his ear: "Why you have stopped your beauty sleep." Roxton smiled. He turned his head, so that their lips were just inches away. Roxton bowed his head, noticing the way Marguerite reacted to it. Her heart was pounding faster every minute, he could feel her uncertainty. Then he whispered: "Probably for the same reason you stopped your beauty sleep ... because it's too cold to fall back asleep once you have woken up." Then he turned around and started to make a fire.

Marguerite looked disappointedly at the man. She had expected everything but this. She could deal with a sarcastic remark, a cynical remark, a kiss. Even a kiss, but not this. Not the friendly answer he just gave.

Roxton lit the fire and sat himself down in front of it, his back still to Marguerite. Without turning to face her he patted on the ground beside him and said, "It's much warmer here than where you are standing."

Marguerite hesitated a moment, but the fire was so inviting that she didn't hesitated long. She sat down beside him and just let the heat of the fire embrace her.

°°°°°

Veronica walked into the living room. She had gotten up early to make breakfast. Actually it was Marguerite's turn to do it, but knowing the heiress, Veronica knew that it would be a task she would have to do. Therefore she was really surprised to see Marguerite awake at such an early hour making breakfast.

"Good morning."

"Good morning, Marguerite. Fell out of your bed?" Veronica asked with an amused tone.

Marguerite could not answer that question, because Roxton came in, holding a basket full of berries.

"Ah, John, you're back. Thanks for picking the berries for me."

Veronica looked stunned. She just wanted to comment on Marguerite's unusual behaviour when Malone, Challenger and Summerlee walked in.

"This smells wonderful." Challenger said.

"I wouldn't count on it, professor, it's Marguerite turn to make breakfast." Malone joked.

Marguerite's good mood changed as quickly as a mood could change. "Fine, if you think it that way, you make breakfast!" With that she threw the basket with berries, which she still had in her hands in Malone's hands and rushed to the elevator. Leaving a surprised Malone staring after her. Veronica sighed. «It was too good to be true»

Roxton wanted to go after her, but Malone hold him back, saying it was perhaps a better idea to give her some space. Roxton didn't feel very comfortable by letting Marguerite walk alone through the jungle, though it was for the best to leave Marguerite alone for a while.

Summerlee saw the conflict on Roxton's face. "When she's not back in an hour, we will search for her."

°°°°°

Meanwhile Marguerite was getting angrier by the minute. «Who the hell does he think he is? Treating me like that! I'm never going to make breakfast for him again. He can count on that!» "You can make your own breakfast and dinner, Ned Malone!"

Marguerite was so lost in her thoughts, she didn't notice that she was being followed. Suddenly a man jumped in front of her. Marguerite's hands instantly went to her belt, taking her pistol. "Damn, just my luck, why does this always happens when I forget my pistol."

Marguerite made a run for the treehouse. Unfortunately the man who followed her was faster and grabbed her a few metres before the electric fence. "Roxton! Veronica! Challenger! Anybody!"

The members looked up from their breakfast. "That was Marguerite! I knew I should have followed her!" Roxton said. He grabbed his gun and took the elevator downstairs. The others followed him quickly. But there was no sign of Marguerite. No sign at all.

°°°°°

Months had passed. All the searches for Marguerite had lead to a dead end. Roxton was a complete wreck. It was clear to everyone that he cared for Marguerite. That he was deeply in love with the raven-haired heiress. Roxton blamed himself for not going after her that day. But never had he blamed the journalist for stopping him from going after her.

Though Ned Malone felt terrible. «If I hadn't told him it was for the best to leave her alone for a while, she would still have been here.»

Veronica looked at the journalist who was standing on the balcony. She walked to him. "You mustn't blame yourself. It wasn't your fault."

"Roxton thinks it is."

"No, he doesn't."

Malone walked to his room, with tears in his eyes. A sudden sound made him turn around. In the living room stood Tribune.

"Why the long faces?"

"What do you want, Tribune?" Veronica said angrily.

"Is that how you welcome a friend? Te te, your hospitality is so generous."  Roxton stood up and headed for his own room. He really didn't want to hear this. Though Tribune stopped him by only saying three words. "I saw Marguerite."

Roxton turned around astonished. "Where? WHERE?"

"In a camp. A slave trader's camp. A three day walk from here."

Roxton grabbed his hat, pistols and gun and headed for the elevator. Tribune looked amused. "Lord Roxton, isn't it better to make a plan first?" Roxton looked at the lizard, then to his friends.

"As much as I hate to tell this, Tribune is right." Veronica said.

"You are going to tell us precisely where that camp is. Understood!"

"What's the rush? She's been there for how long now? Five months?"

Roxton paled, then turned red. "YOU KNEW SHE WAS THERE? YOU KNEW IT FROM THE BEGINNING? DIDN'T IT OCCUR TO YOU TO TELL US? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?"

"I thought you knew."

"HOW? How could we have known where she was?" Roxton added softer, tears streaming down his face. If we had known it, she would have already been home with us.

°°°°°

"Why you whore!" One of the slave traders had taken Marguerite with him to one of the people who wanted to buy her. But that had turned out to be a huge disappointment, again. For five months, since the day the slavers had kidnapped her, they had tried to sell Marguerite. Every time with no success. All the men who had seen a glimpse of her in the camp and wanted to buy her, backed of the moment they saw her close.  All the men thought she was beautiful, very beautiful, but she was too difficult to handle.

"Altor has warned you!" Marguerite was brought to Altor's tent. Suddenly Altor appeared. Marguerite didn't even flinch. She knew exactly what would happen next. It had happened a hundreds of time in these five months. First she would be beaten, then abused. Though the first slap came unexpected. Marguerite stumbled on the floor and didn't try to get up. She knew that would only enrage Altor more. She just laid there, hoping that it would be over soon.

°°°°°

The explorers and Tribune were on their way to the camp. Then, finally after three days of travelling they saw slavers walking with slaves.

"Where is Marguerite?" Veronica asked.

"Last time I saw her she was on the field over there. But I don't see her there now. Perhaps she is in one of the tents." Tribune said.

Tribune had just said the words, when they all saw a man coming out of the tents, speaking to what seemed like the leader. Then they saw Marguerite carried out of the tent. Roxton had to pull himself together, not to walk into the camp. That would ruin everything.

"Roxton? Roxton?" Challenger said. Roxton looked up. "You know what you have to do?" Roxton nodded. Then he walked with a tied up Veronica to the camp.

°°°°°

"Welcome, Sir." One of the slave traders said.

"Where is your leader? He sold me this woman, but she's  nothing but trouble!"

Altor had heard Roxton yelling at one of his people and he came out of his tent. "What is wrong, Sir?"

"This woman, she is nothing but trouble. I want my money back!"

Altor looked surprised. He never had complains about the women he sold. Except about one. "Sir, I'm sure we can work this out. You can choose another woman and keeping her as well. Two for the price of one. How does that sounds."

Roxton hesitated, but finally agreed. "That sounds good. As I walked on the hill, I saw a woman coming out of one of tents. I would love to get a better look at her."

"Sir, you don't want her. She is nothing but trouble." Altor tried to convince Roxton, but Roxton waved his hand, and sad that he had made his decision. Altor said to the man to bring Marguerite.

°°°°°

When Marguerite was brought to one of the tents, she immediately walked carefully to the bed. When she had laid herself down on it, tears started streaming down her face. "Roxton, where are you?" she whispered softly. Soon sleep overtook her.

But now one of the slave traders was pulling her out bed again. "Come on woman! There's a buyer for you." The man grinned wicked. "Actually he complained about another woman he had bought and he can choose another one for himself. Which is you. Don't ask me why."

Marguerite stumbled to the spot where Altor was waiting with Roxton and Veronica. "Ah, there she is, Sir."

Marguerite looked with the last bit of self confidence she had left to the man who had his back towards her. Then the man turned around and Marguerite gasped. In front of her stood Roxton. This was the moment she had longed for, for the five months she had been here. Then the woman turned around and gave her a reassuring smile.

"She looks great, I'll take her."

"Are you sure about that? She'll give you more trouble that the woman you have now."

"I said I take her! Are you deaf?"

"She is all yours." And after that answer, Roxton took the robe from the slave trader who had brought her and pulled her to him, hushing that everything will be fine. That she was going home with them.

°°°°°

"And?" Was the first thing Malone said when they had returned. He was anxious to know if their plan had worked. Then he saw Marguerite. He rushed to the fire he had lit, making place for the totally devastated woman.

Marguerite gave him a weak smile. "Thank you. Thank you all." She whispered.

"Well, it's time for me to leave, I have done my good deed for the next couple of years." Tribune walked over to Marguerite. "So you better stay out of trouble for the next two years." And with that he left.

"I say we'll camp here for the night." Summerlee stated. "Then I can check on Marguerite as well." He walked over to the woman. "On the other hand, sleep will be the best remedy for now."

"You all can go to sleep, I'll keep watch." Roxton said.

"No you won't" Challenger said. "You are going to sleep. No arguing." He added when he saw that Roxton was about to complain. Roxton knew the scientist meant what he said.

Soon the others, except for Challenger, were sleeping as well. Roxton had laid himself down next to Marguerite. He would never let her out of his sight ever again. Gently he stroked her cheek. "You have no idea how horrible those five months were without you." He whispered. Then he closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep. Not seeing that a smile had crossed her lovely face.