Chapter Twenty

The next thing I know, I'm opening my eyes to Eugene's soft lips.

"Morning." His breath warms my face.

"Morning." My mind felt clearer than yesterday. Hopefully whatever was on that cloth was finally leaving my system.

"What was a secret yesterday?" He peers into my eyes. I look back at him, looking at the hair that falls onto his face, his facial hair that has been recently shaved, his soft skin. . .

"Want to tell me?"

I shook my hand, sitting up. He was lying right next to me, wearing his trademark blue vest, white cotton long sleeved shirt, dark cream pants, and brown bucket top boots. He must have been up late.

"You want to try something?" I peered at him.

"What would it be?" Something's changed between us. I know it has. Maybe because-

"One of the nobles' brother wants to speak with you, me, and the King and Queen." Eugene's voice was soft. I watched as he spoke. His eyes were suddenly darkening, almost becoming unreadable.

"I'd like to talk to him too then." I got off the bed, looking at my hair that was in a massive array of long blond tendrils.

"I'll let you get ready." When Eugene's voice reached me, I realized that he had left the room.

Eugene's Point of View

He knocked quietly on the door. "Michael?"

A tall blond man opened the door, his dark brown eyes tired. They glowed with life when they saw him. "Eugene! You ready for me?"

Eugene nodded. "She's awake. The stuff seems to be out of her system."

Michael stepped out into the hallway, closing the door behind him. His brown eyes were filled with laughter. "She's sober?"

Eugene cracked a smile. "As good as she'll be. Olivia thinks the effects might last a few days."

Michael followed Eugene as he walked swiftly through the long hallway. "I don't like this."

"Neither do I."

They met Rapunzel, the King, and the Queen in the room Eugene had discussed the possibility of Fernando having a twin. Rapunzel was sitting down, her eyes still dark. Her pupils weren't letting up.

"Rapunzel!" Michael walked toward her, pushing back his blond hair. Rapunzel smiled timidly and shook hands with him. Eugene watched in humor as Michael caught her hand before she pulled it back and kissed the top of it. "Michael Dawson."

"Pleased to meet you." Her voice only had a bit of a catch. Eugene questioned himself, standing next to the King. Maybe she was still deeply affected. Guy Starnes, Olivia, and Fernidia were their audience.

"All right." Michael grinned as he gazed at the watching pair. His eyes lingered on Fernidia. She eyed him warily while Olivia grinned a small smile. Michael looked back at Rapunzel. "I'm going to do a few relaxation exercises, okay?"

Rapunzel nodded, becoming more cautious.

"Take deep breaths in and out." Michael crouched down to stare into her eyes. "In."

Rapunzel inhaled, her eyes on his face cautiously.

"Out."

She exhaled, fingering her hair nervously.

Michael caught on. "You don't need to be afraid. This will help relax you."

Rapunzel nodded and tried to concentrate.

"In and out. In and out."

Within a few minutes, Rapunzel seemed at ease and was subconsciously leaning in to hear Michael's voice.

"All right. Whenever I touch your forehead, you're going to not move at all." Michael's voice was quiet. "Nod if you understand."

Rapunzel's limp head managed a shaky nod.

"I want you to look at Fernidia," Michael's eyes never left Rapunzel's face, "and start crying."

Eugene blinked in confusion while Fernidia looked puzzled. The King and Queen were busy watching Rapunzel.

"When I count to three, you're going to look at Fernidia and cry." Michael stood up straight. "One, two three!"

Rapunzel gazed at Fernidia, her eyes swelling with tears. To everyone's surprise, she started bawling, her hands frequently wiping away tears.

Michael yanked on Rapunzel's arms. "Stop crying!"

Rapunzel stopped mid-sob and stared at Michael.

Guy murmured in disbelief. "Bloody hell! That's-"

He stopped when Olivia stared at him. He looked at Eugene to grin.

Michael's voice yanked them back in attention. "Eugene," Eugene looked up. "When Rapunzel comes over to you, I want you to say, 'Hello! I'm Eugene, what's your name?' all right?"

Eugene nodded, his eyes turning dark with nervousness.

Michael looked back at Rapunzel. "When you stand up and go to Eugene, you're going to forget your name. And. . ." Rapunzel looked at Michael. "Stand!" He said loudly.

Rapunzel got up, not shaking at all. She went to in front of Eugene. He grinned his smolder at her. "Hello! I'm Eugene, what's your name?"

Rapunzel smiled back. "Hi! I'm. . ." She paused, her eyes turning confused. "I'm. . ." She looked around anxiously. "My name is. . ."

Everyone except Michael was shocked. She had forgotten her name!

Michael came up behind Rapunzel. He touched her forehead and she froze. "You're going to remember that your name is Rapunzel and you're going to kiss Eugene passionately."

Eugene arched an eyebrow at Michael who grinned back.

"Okay, go!"

Rapunzel looked at Eugene, her eyes going soft. "I-I remember now. I'm Rapunzel, nice to meet you." Then she wrapped her arms around Eugene and her lips met his.

It took all of Eugene's will to remember that they weren't on their honeymoon, back at the tower. That they weren't in a room of privacy.

That they weren't in a room with Rapunzel's parents watching them intently.

But that didn't stop him from saying, "Nice to meet you." Eugene said around Rapunzel's soft lips.

Rapunzel didn't stop until Michael commanded her too. Eugene felt mildly disappointed. He hadn't kissed her like that in months, since he had gone to talk to Olivia that day when Rapunzel had laid on the bed, writhing in pain-

"Stop." Michael's voice broke their concentration. Rapunzel broke away, her lips inches from Eugene's. Michael made her sit back down. Eugene grinned to himself. She was flushed now, her skin bright with color. He had missed that too.

"You need to come all the time." Eugene grinned at Michael. Michael managed a crooked smile.

"Now, the heart of the matter." Michael looked around the room. "Rapunzel, do you have something to tell us?"

Rapunzel blinked when he added, "Be honest."

"No." Rapunzel brushed her hair away.

"Yes you do." Michael crouched down in front of her again. "What happened with Fernando? When he had gotten so close?"

Rapunzel almost seemed to snap out of it. "I don't want-"

"Don't want to what? You don't want to not tell us?" Michael stared into her eyes.

"I don't want to not-" Rapunzel's fingers twitched and she started to go pale. Michael ignored it, but Eugene could see alarm growing in the room as he stood up straight to pace in front of Rapunzel, meeting Eugene's eyes.

"Tell us Rapunzel." Michael looked back at her. "How close had he gotten?"

"Too close." Rapunzel swallowed nervously. Eugene really didn't like this now. Michael was turning her into something she wasn't: a timid, scared, nervous young woman. Eugene knew the Rapunzel he loved.

"What happened? Tell us that, Rapunzel?"

The King looked at Eugene. "He's only to make her reveal this and nothing more."

"The location." Eugene muttered back quietly. "We need to know where he lives."

The King nodded and watched as Rapunzel faltered.

Rapunzel was looking at Michael. "Michael, I don't-"

Michael touched her forehead, watching with a grim face when she froze. "I think you do, Rapunzel."

Rapunzel faltered again.

"Tell us."

She then started talking, her voice a quiet whisper that the whole room had to lean in to hear her.

"I-I was trying to hide in the bathroom. I looked up at the windows, wondering if I could have pulled myself out. There was no point, the windows were too high.

"Fernando stepped in the washroom, seeing me stand there.

"Before I could stop him, I was on the floor. I started struggling, but he stopped me.

"He eventually said, "You're never going to get out of this." His hands turned into claws, digging into my arms.

"I couldn't move fast enough. Maybe this was why Eugene had gone, because I was too slow. . .

"He was so close. But right when he. . . Positioned himself there was a knock at the door. Fernando went to answer it after he yanked me off the floor as he stood up. He carried me to the room where the shackles were and shackled me in.

"He went to the door, and I heard him speak. " 'Dwayne'," Their voices actually sounded almost the same, but I didn't really notice that.

" 'Fernando, may I come in'?" Dwayne said.

" 'One moment'." Fernando walked back into the room. He punched me, and that was it.

Rapunzel tried to add more but her voice kept catching.

Eugene got up to give her a bone crushing hug. My God. He almost-

Fernidia and Olivia were looking at Rapunzel sadly. Olivia was wiping tears from her face. The Queen was struggling to keep her composure. The men looked angry, their hands clenching into fists.

"It's all right." Eugene kissed her cheek.

Michael was staring around the room, looking the angriest. "We've got to do something about Fernando. And whoever Dwayne is, I want to know." He cracked his fingers, her dark brown eyes livid.

The Queen looked at Michael. "Thank you." She said slowly, her eyes wet. She hugged Michael generously while the King shook hands with Guy and Michael. He saved Eugene for last.

The King whispered in his ear. "Do not let her out of your sight." Eugene nodded vigorously, not even imagining leaving Rapunzel alone.

Michael held everyone back for a moment. "When I say 'Eugene', you're going to remember that you were hypnotized and what you did, but you're going to feel really refreshed."

Rapunzel stared at him.

"Eugene." Michael looked at her.

Rapunzel's face glowed as a dazzling smile lit her face. "That feels good." She watched as everyone left with glowing eyes. Man. Michael was a force to be reckoned with. Eugene grinned.

Everyone left the room eventually, taking turns hugging Rapunzel. Michael kissed Rapunzel on the hand again. He frowned. "My sincerest apologies, Rapunzel."

She nodded at him. "It is fine, Michael. I just . . . It feels too. . ."

Michael nodded, finishing the sentence in his head. He looked at Eugene. "I'll see you around. We'll look into Dwayne, and it sounds like Fernando might live near that waterfall."

Eugene nodded, managing a soft smile. "Yeah, we'll look into it as well. See you around."

Eugene looked back at Rapunzel, who sat down on the chair. She drew her knees closer to her and hugged them, her dark eyes still on Eugene.

"Rapunzel . . ." He still couldn't tell her how sorry he was. How much he still despised himself for thinking the worst of her. "I'm really sorry for having him do that to you. But I am a bit glad that I did because," Eugene's shoulders sagged with guilt and remorse, "I had no idea. . ."

She focused her gaze on him. "It is okay, Eugene."

"No," he said. "It really isn't. When you came back, I-I thought the worst of you! I thought you hadn't loved me all this time, when you loved me so much that you fought back so hard! He had you shackled to a wall, beating you, and you still held faithful to me. You should have slapped me or something. I just can't believe that I got so angry that I didn't even let you explain! I should be-"

She got up and kissed him. She held him close to her. "It's all right, Eugene."

Eugene looked at her. "Rapunzel-"

She didn't let him speak, only led him to the room they were in before moving to the tower.

She kissed him again, more fiercely this time. Eugene barely noticed that he locked the door. That he was helping her undress. All he felt was her. Her skin, her curves, her lips- He had to get closer to her. So much closer.

Rapunzel pulled him onto the bed.