The Gilded Cage

When Stockholm Syndrome meets Lima Syndrome.

He is a freedom fighter. She's the dictator's daughter. When his organization kidnaps her, he is the only one to show her kindness. In this world of chaos, she is the gentle beauty that tames his wild heart. But is it enough to stop him from murdering her father? And does she even want him to?

Depending on who you ask, we’re either freedom fighters or we’re terrorists.

I considered myself a soldier in the fight for justice. After twenty years of dictatorship, my brothers and I had had enough, and so we’d banded together and made a military of our own, training farmers and freed slaves to shoot guns and beat the opposition in close combat. We were a lethal bunch, and for six long years, I’d been proud of what we’d been doing. We were liberating a nation, saving millions of people from slavery, and bringing order back into the world.

But then the day came when we crossed a line, when we did something so horrible that we were no better than the dictator who terrorized us.

We kidnapped his daughter.

In the news she always looked larger than life, so well put-together, her nails manicured, makeup impeccably done, hair sleek as an otter’s tail, and a cold smile on her lips. I had expected a prissy princess, a woman with a heart as cruel as her father’s, but she surprised all of us, me most of all, with her quiet grace. Her eyes were honeyed and amber, soft and kind, and when I first walked into her cell, she rose to her feet and greeted me with a handshake.

“I expect you’ve come to kill me,” I remember her saying. It had been a deeply disturbing comment, one that bothered me more than anyone else because out of all of the other commanders, I’d been the only one who’d opposed this kidnapping.

“No. I’m just here to see that you’re being treated well.”

The shock had been evident on her face.

“I, uh—I could use some privacy,” she admitted. “I can’t use the bathroom in front of the guards. They stare.”

“I will arrange for more comfortable ... accommodations.”

I had her moved into a luxury room without bars, but it was a jail cell all the same. Soldiers guarded her door, but they were no longer allowed inside. For a while, this suited her just fine, but after a few weeks, I heard from somebody that all she did was cry. The poised woman from TV had shown her true colors—she was scared and human, just like the rest of us.