Josh saw me looking passed him to the other men working out in the room.
"Don't panic," he said. "We practice with each other but they're not the enemy. They're in the same boat as us. We all represent the House of Jacob, whatever the fuck that is."
I opened my mouth to explain but he continued.
I looked over at the smooth muscular marine forcing his elbows forward against the deep stack of weights on the fly machine. The buzz-cut made him look even tougher than his torso did, but the mole on his cheek was so 'Marilyn Munroe' that I couldn't help smile.
"The pretty boy is Saxon, AKA Dionysos."
"Wasn't Dionysos the Greek god of parties?" I asked.
Josh couldn't help but chuckle.
"Yeah," he said, "apparently he was a bit of a party playboy in his normal life, but Dionysos is also the Greek god of madness so it's fits him both ways. Most of the Greek gods had multiple titles and from what I'm told, Saxon goes bunta in the ring!"
The pretty boy saw us looking at him and smiled, nodding his hello. He had a slanted smile that was somehow cute and menacing at the same time, having just heard Josh's description of him.
"That's Ronan," Josh said. "He's got a match this afternoon, so he's saving himself for that."
There was something in the tone of Josh's voice that worried me. I looked at him questioningly.
"Ronan hasn't been doing so good, apparently," Josh explained. "His last few fights haven't been evenly matched and he's lost all of them."
"So?" I asked naively.
"So you don't want to lose too often. Not here." That was all Josh said, but it was enough to make me understand.
"These guys," I said, suddenly panicked. "They're all… what about you? I mean, I know you're strong and can hold your own but who are you going to fight? How do we know what they'll be like? Most of these guys are huge and…"
I broke off, unable to continue.
"I'll be fine," he said, not for the first time. "Right now, all I need to know is that you'll be okay. Promise me you'll keep safe and not do anything stupid or reactive. If I'm going to beat this, I have to know you're okay so I can focus on keeping myself safe until I can work out a way out of this."
And with that, I knew I'd made a right call in keeping silent about my real situation. Josh would never have said something like that unless he was worried about his own fate. I knew then that no matter what happened, he had to stay completely focussed to survive this. If there was any hope of him rescuing me, I was on my own. I had to deal with my own trauma alone and let him deal with his situation without worrying about me.
I gave him a hug, partly by instinct, but partly because I didn't want him to see my face as I agonised over losing him as my protector.
"Don't you worry about me," I said with fake bravado. "They're treating me well so they can pull me in front of you at any time they need to reign you in."
"We'll get through this," he assured me. "Nothing is insurmountable. I just have to find a way. I need time."
"I know. You're my hero. I have faith."
I felt him react to that. It was the slightest jolt of surprise but in our embrace, I felt it nonetheless. He hugged me tighter and whispered in my ear "You're my eyes and ears now. Take note of everything you see and hear."
I nodded and I closed my eyes to savour the moment. When I opened them at length, my eyes fell on the fifth and final man in the room: a hot, smooth behemoth sporting a goatee and enough muscle to rival Alain back home.
"What about him?" I said, pulling away and changing the subject.
"Sounds charming," I said.
"Exactly the opposite," came the dry reply. "I've only exchanged a few words with him. He's not popular. He's only ever lost one fight, and that wasn't in the ring."
I had to ask: "Who did he fight?"
"Shit…!" I swallowed hard.
Not wanting to scare me any further, Josh quickly continued. "In here, he's never lost a match though, and he doesn't like anyone who might be a challenge."
"Including you?" I asked, trying to think of anything other than Jacob taking down the God of War.
"Yeah. He's the alpha male here. Ever since he heard about my reputation, he's been cold to me. From what I hear, he wants to rip me apart. He's itching to teach me he's 'The Man'."
"Be careful," I said.
"I am. He's not someone I want to mess with, so I'm keeping a low profile and letting him be the Alpha. So long as he doesn't push too far, it'll be fine."
"And if he does push?" I asked, alarmed that Josh would be worried about having to fight someone.
"Then I guess one of us will be ripped apart."