Time for another chat with Dellani Oakes. Thank you, Karen, for sharing my interview!
Jason and the team are getting dinner ready and Jason gives in to despair, thinking about Orchid.
“Not a bad idea. We can coordinate that tomorrow. I think his input would be very useful.”
“Thank you. I apologize for the nosedive into the pity pool. Not my best behavior.” He wiped his eyes on the back of his hand. “Blame the fucking onions.”
Greg thumped him on the back. Taylor squeezed his arm.
“You lot are the best friends I’ve ever had. What’s that say for me, eh?” He rubbed his eyes again and washed his hands.
“Says a hell of a lot about you, Jason,” Greg said. “We’re a close bunch. We’ve accepted you like one of us—I think I can speak for all of us on that. You may not wear a badge, but you’re one of the team. Don’t you think, Tay?”
“I do,” she replied. “Not easy to accomplish in a couple days. Greg, go see how the burgers are coming, huh? I’m going to check the beans.” She turned to the oven, taking out a couple pot holders.
Greg glanced at the two of them, then walked out to the deck.
“He’s right,” she said. “We’re very close. And you are like one of us. You’ve become part of our team without even trying, Jason. We can do this, but only with your help. You’re our ace in the hole.”
She pulled the beans out and set them down before shutting the oven door. Taking the mitts off, she put her hands on either side of his face.
“You can do this. We’re here.”
“I really want to kiss you, Taylor.”
“I know. But the guys are coming in.”
“Bloody hell,” he muttered, moving quickly away.
“Put it away!” Greg yelled, covering his eyes. “Put up that lethal weapon, Jason, before I call the cops!”
“Not killed anyone with it yet,” Jason laughed, grabbing his crotch. “Damn thing’s withering from disuse.”
They joked and laughed more on that subject, bantering back and forth making sexual jokes. Even Taylor got in the game, teasing each of the men about his self-perceived gifts.
“What I want to know,” Greg said, leaning across the table toward Taylor. “Does size matter? I mean, there’s the jokes and all. But really?”
“Well,” she swallowed her potato salad. “I’m not that much of an expert. But I have to say, that yes, to an extent. It’s got to be big enough to get to those hard to reach places. And trust me, nothing run on batteries does the job like the home grown variety.”
The men were stunned. She usually didn’t speak so openly about sex.
“What have you done with the real Taylor?” Greg asked, staring at her.
“Yeah—but you usually don’t answer.”
She shrugged, swirling her tea in her glass. “Men talk about sex all the time. What makes you think women are any different?”
“How much do you talk?” Greg wanted to know, suddenly worried.
“Don’t panic, cowboy. If they ask about you, I make things up. You’ll be glad to know that I’ve been very complimentary.”
“Thanks.” He sounded offended. “You couldn’t just go through with it and tell the truth?”
“Does it really matter?”
“Yes! Because in my version, I’m actually getting laid!”
She laughed, punching his shoulder.
“Why didn’t you ever?” He asked quietly. “We were so close.” He seemed to have forgotten the others.
They sat silently, waiting to see what she would say. All of them, including Jason, were curious.
Taylor must have felt she owned Greg an explanation. She fiddled with her glass some more, then focused on his eyes.
“I had a horrible relationship go belly up on me a few years ago—before I met any of you. It was terribly, dangerously abusive. I had a tough time getting out. A couple good friends finally intervened and got me away from him. But it was ages before I could stand to be around anyone. And men terrified me. Lots of therapy, friendly advice, and spiritual guidance, I’m getting past it. But it’s been really hard. I made myself a promise that I wasn’t going to get involved like that again until I was sure I was ready. I really thought I was, Greg. But each time we got close, I knew I wasn’t. And I’m so sorry, because you’re one of the greatest guys I know. I wish it could have been you. I really do.”
She got up from the table and ran to the restroom next to the basement stairs. They could hear her crying, but none of them made any move to go after her until Jason stood. He motioned with his head for the men to go to the other room. They moved silently away. Tapping on the door, he waited until she unlocked it.
“I knew it would be you,” she said quietly, sitting on the closed toilet lid.
Jason leaned on the sink, folding his arms.
“You’re the only one brave enough to come in.” She sniffled, wiping her eyes with her fingers.
“Or dumb enough.” He handed her the guest towel.
© Dellani Oakes
To Purchase Dellani’s Books:
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm
Sea of Destiny – Part 11. Kyle and Carmelita are chatting as they board the ship. He compliments her by saying she looks like an Amazon Queen. Carmelita isn’t sure at first if he’s giving her a compliment.
During their workout, the security team comes in to give their report. The lead technician is very impressed by Jason’s knowledge and skill. They declare the house bug free and they installed the extra security as requested.
Jason wasn’t eager to get the chip he’d been promised, but decided it was better than feeling completely alone. It was better than an ankle bracelet and preferable to nothing, but still…. It was too much end of days, Revelations, for him. After his swim and shower, he accepted it stoically. Taylor held his other hand while Spence inserted it in his arm.
“I feel like a bar code,” he said. “Shall I set things off at the airport?”
Tim laughed. “No. It’s all good. You’ll be fine.”
“Mark of the Beast,” Jason said, rubbing his skin over the bandage. “Only thing I remember from Sunday school.”
Taylor stilled his roving hand by taking it in hers. “Think of it this way instead. If anything happens, we’ll be able to find you. Unlike a cellphone, watch or anklet, this can’t get thrown away easily.” She put her fingers on his arm. “It’s your insurance, Jason.”
“And yours, that I can’t get away.”
“You don’t want to get away,” she said softly.
“True that. I’m hopelessly hooked on you—lot….”
Tim cleared his throat and the other men turned away.
“Pity party’s over,” Jason said briskly. “What’s for dinner?”
“You’re not cooking?” Taylor asked.
“I’ll help cook. I’m not deciding.”
“Breakfast,” Greg said. “It’s the only thing I can cook on my own.”
“Kind of hard to cook for a crowd,” Tim said.
“Don’t want pizza,” Taylor said, wrinkling her nose.
“Boss has spoken,” Jason said.
“How about hamburgers? I think I saw all that stuff in there,” Taylor suggested.
“That works. I’ve got a nice grill, never been used.”
“Charcoal or gas?” Tim asked.
“Not sure. My contractor told me I couldn’t have that beautiful a backyard view without a deck and a grill. Never had any time to use it.”
“We’ll cook. You’ll stay inside,” Tim stated firmly.
“Not arguing.” Jason held up his hands in feigned helplessness.
“We’ll see what we’ve got. How many of us are there?” Alex asked. “Never mind. I’ll do a head count.”
Fortunately, they had enough frozen burgers to feed everyone two. They also had chips, potato salad, coleslaw and baked beans.
“Someone planned a cookout for us,” Greg said as he munched on a chip.
“Grill’s gas. I guess I can’t complain too much,” Tim said sullenly. “I prefer charcoal.”
“Too much messing with charcoal,” Alex said, clicking tongs together. “If you won’t do the honors, I will.”
“Be my guest. I’ll supervise.”
They walked outside together. Anyone not paying close attention wouldn’t have noticed that while Alex cooked, Tim kept a careful eye on the yard and its surroundings.
“Hard to remember why we’re all here,” Jason said quietly to Taylor as they fixed iced tea. “Then I have this flash of panic that she’s found me and we’re all going to die.”
“She’s lying low, you said so yourself. If she’s smart, she’ll stay that way for a long time.”
“We’ll hear from her again. She’s too driven, too psychotic to stop. I could have quit this life ages ago if I’d wanted to. Once I got my business set up and this house complete, that was the plan.”
“That can still be the plan,” Taylor replied.
“Yeah.” He stopped working, leaning against the counter, shaking his head. “Maybe it would’ve been better if she’d killed me.”
“Don’t you dare talk like that!” Taylor said sharply. “It wouldn’t! The families of those six people are counting on you. So is the judge.”
“What if I can’t do it, Taylor? What if we don’t stop her and she does it again?”
“Enough!” Greg said loudly. “We’ll do it. You have to believe that. I know it seems like we’re not doing anything but she is being hunted. I think we need to let Jason see the leads, Tay. If he got a look at that, maybe he’d feel more like he was really part of this.”
© Dellani Oakes
To Purchase Dellani’s Books:
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm
After a successful day at the firing range, Jason and the team decide to workout. The men find out a little more about Jason’s personal life.
“Been lots of women?” Tim asked.
“A good few. None serious. Hard to settle down and have a real life with a job like mine. Which is one reason I’ve set up my business. So I can retire. Investments and security consultants. I can make a mint. Easier to have a woman in my life then.” He sighed heavily. “Been hankering for some stability. Even thought about a dog.”
“If this works out, you may be able to do all that, Jason. The judge likes you for some reason. She’s willing to look at this as time served. Might even set aside the rest of your sentence if we catch Orchid.”
“What’s been done about that?” He went in his bathroom, leaving the door ajar so they could talk.
“All those people in your living room are looking for her. They’re following tips and leads from all over. The international contingent’s arrived and working in the office and on the street looking for signs of her.”
“She’ll lie low,” Jason said. “Won’t call attention to herself for awhile yet, if she’s smart. I’d go to ground and stay there after this kind of cluster fuck. She blew it good and proper.”
“Got to make me wonder why she didn’t shoot you in the head and finish you off.”
“Been wondering that myself. Why leave it to chance? Not that she didn’t do a good job,” he replied. “I have it on expert authority that I was damn near gone when they found me.”
“Where’d she get you?”
Jason pointed to an area just to the right of his groin and to his left chest. “I had a vest on, though she didn’t know it. She laughed as she shot me. Told me she’d thought of shooting me in the cock, but couldn’t live with herself for destroying something so beautiful. Lousy, two-faced, harridan.”
“Better to kill you instead of blowing off your cock? Weird.”
“And then some. Though once I’d lived through it, I was happy.”
Tim laughed, grabbing his own crotch protectively. “Oh, yeah!”
Taylor knocked on the door, putting her head around when they laughed. She was dressed in the navy suit with a pair of white shorts. Her hair was braided and she carried a towel over her shoulder.
“Ready?” Her weapon was in a shoulder holster.
Jason grabbed a towel from the linen closet, tossing it to Tim. He pulled out another for himself and they headed down the spiral stair. The other two men were already working out on the weights when they came down. Alex was spotting Greg on the bench.
Taylor slipped off her shorts and holster. The men got quiet, watching her as the shorts passed her sleek hips.
“Tongues back in your mouths,” she commanded without turning around. “I’m a crack shot and I’m not afraid to us this.”
“Sorry,” they apologized in unison.
“Never saw you this close to naked before,” Greg said quietly. “Damn!”
“I will throw you in the pool,” she told him angrily. “If you ever look at me like that again.”
“I have to look, Tay. But I won’t drool.”
“That’s fair. Take your shirt off,” she countered.
“If you’re gonna look, I’m gonna look. Shirts off. All of you.”
They complied without protest. Taylor smiled and dove into the pool. She swam laps steadily, smoothly, her lean body making very little turbulence in the pool. She hit the opposite wall doing an interesting flip turn without coming out of the water. Her movement was hypnotic.
The men continued to watch her until Jason realized he’d been standing there, mesmerized, for fully five minutes. He dove in himself, creating much more noise and motion. This seemed to break the spell for the others, who found things to do in the gym.
“We’re leaving now,” the head technician told Tim from the doorway. “We got everything checked. Place is clean as a whistle. The peepholes are in and we got the chip to Spence since you didn’t go by the office.”
“Forgot all about it,” Tim smacked himself. “Thanks, Toby.”
“No problem. Nice setup. Whoever put this place together knew his shit.”
“He’s in the pool,” Tim nodded toward the water.
“That kid? Hell, I’d like to talk to him sometime. He knows damn near more than me. Impressive.” He nodded. “Catch you later.”
“See you!” Tim half saluted the other man. They were the same rank, but had been friends for years. Toby had earned Tim’s respect more than once.
© Dellani Oakes
Despite his misgivings, Jason proves to be a natural shot. He admits that he has experience with airsoft and paintball guns, but not real weapons. Invigorated by his experience, he shows off a little of his pickpocket abilities.
“How the hell did you get all that? When?” She grabbed her lipgloss possessively.
“Moments ago. Don’t worry, I’d never keep it.” He blew her a kiss. “Not my color.”
She swatted him, laughing.
“Handy tricks,” Tim said. “What else can you do?”
“This stuff’s easy,” Jason said. “You should see me play cards.” He winked. “Never, ever play a serious game of poker with me. I’ll wipe you all out. I play for fun and to see what I can get away with. I’ll show you what to look for.”
They practiced another hour or so, but didn’t make nearly the progress Jason wanted with his left hand.
“I’ll get you back here with Lloyd,” Tim said. “He’s left handed and can give you some pointers. We’ll set something up for later this week. Meanwhile, let’s police the area. Leave it like we found it!”
They set up fresh targets, put away the safety gear and stowed everything where it had come from.
Greg took out the garbage and the rest of them cleaned up inside until the facility was as perfect as it had been before they used it.
“Thank you,” Jason said, shaking Tim’s hand. “I feel much better. Won’t feel perfect until we catch Orchid, but at least I feel less of a target. Can I leave a note for your brother?”
“Sure.” He found paper and a pen for Jason.
The was far longer than Tim anticipated. Glancing at it over Jason’s shoulder, he laughed. The writing was tiny, precise and perfectly lined, although it was typing paper.
“What’s all this?”
“He’s got some security issues. I made a few suggestions. His safe for one. I could get through it with a pair of nail clippers and a set of tweezers.”
Tim laughed, shaking his head. “You’re kidding!”
“Serious. I’d open it, but that’d be bad manners.”
“I’m not sure how much he’ll appreciate this,” Tim said glumly.
“He’ll appreciate it. Might piss him off a bit, but I’ll bet he fixes it up. Leave it in the cash register.” He thumped it with his fist and the drawer popped open. “That’s number two after the safe.”
He winked, strutting after Greg to the SUV. He hopped in the back and Alex slid in after him.
“Cocky, English bastard,” Tim said, laughing. He put the note to his brother in the cash register and closed the drawer. “Wonder if I should warn him that it’s there?” He asked Taylor.
“It will make more impact if he sees it on his own,” she replied.
“Yeah. That’s what I’m afraid of.”
They talked about their day as they drove back to Jason’s house by a different route. It took longer than Jason anticipated, but he figured Tim was mixing it up some in case they were being followed.
There were more vehicles in his driveway and several people moved around looking important. They were armed technicians, checking his house. Instead of staying around in their way, he and the team went upstairs. There too, they found a great deal of activity.
“Fancy a game of bowling?” Jason asked casually. “Gets us out of the way. Or perhaps some poker?”
“I want to learn how to lift Taylor’s lipgloss,” Greg said with a chuckle.
“Got to find it first,” she said with a smirk. “I moved it.”
“Yeah?” Jason said. “Nice spot. Easy.” He held it up again.
Taylor snatched at it, face flushing as she tried not to laugh. “Oh, you bad man! How did you know?”
“Women have a tendency to use purses, pockets or bras. You’re not carrying a purse, it wasn’t in your pocket….” He smirked, handing it back to her. “I prefer that hiding place,” he said, eyeing her chest. “More of a challenge.”
“I should beat you for that,” she snarled. However, she couldn’t hide her smile.
“You could do. But I might enjoy it.”
“Enough!” Greg said loudly. “Forget I said anything.”
He was angry, jealous and the exchange had made him realize once more how attracted he still was to Taylor himself. He’d been that close to her breasts once or twice, but not lately.
“Sorry, mate. I forget there’s other blokes as hard up as me.” He winked at Greg.
The tall, rangy agent punched him in the chest, knocking back a step. Laughing, they tussled like a couple of kids, sissy-slapping one another ineffectively.
“I’ll take your sorry ass back on the mat,” Greg said with a smile.
“I’d rather go for a swim. That’s my element. I love the water.”
“I think I’d rather lift weights,” Tim said. “You’ve got a nice gym set up. How about we head down for a workout?”
“I’m up for it,” Taylor said. “You said something about a suit? I think I’d like to swim.”
“Check the top drawer.” He nodded toward the dresser, then balked.
“Um, better yet, I shall. Gents, need trunks?” He slid quickly past her.
“I’ve got some,” Greg replied, pointing over his shoulder. “Alex?”
“I’m set. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“We’ll come through the spiral,” Tim said. “Keeps us out of the way. You change, kid. Taylor?”
“I’ll go in my room,” she replied when Jason handed her a one piece, navy blue suit. “Thanks.” She shut the door behind her.
“What didn’t you want her to see?”
Jason blushed. “I forgot that’s where I stashed my supplies. Somewhat embarrassing for her to find the suits amongst the condoms, eh?”
Tim laughed, nodding. “Yeah. Why do you have women’s suits?”
“Girls like hot tubs and pools. Sometimes we decide on a swim before or after—during….” He shrugged, grabbing his baggies. “Different sizes, styles. Didn’t think she was a pink thong kind of girl though. All clean. I buy new and send them home as a souvenir.”
© Dellani Oakes
They piled in the SUV’s and headed out in a convoy. Driving into the city, they moved quickly through the early morning traffic. Tim was a good driver and always seemed to choose the best lanes on the busy highway. They got to his brother’s range in good time.
Jason was surprised at the size of the place. He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but the shop and range were the size of a warehouse perched on a cliff overlooking the river. They drove through at set of tall doors, unloading once they scrolled shut behind them.
“This is amazing! I never saw a place like this,” Jason said, his dark eyes sparkling enthusiastically as he gazed around him.
“Lloyd doesn’t think small,” Tim replied with a grin. “He made some good money over the years dealing in antique and collectible weapons. He’s also made some good investments. He built this up from nothing over the last eighteen years.”
“Crikey,” Jason murmured.
They filed down the hallway to the range. This also was huge. Rank upon rank of cubicles ran along the narrow end of a long rectangle. Targets on tracks were spaced across the room at various distances.
Jason was issued goggles and a headset. Tim explained what they were going to do. He went through a clear, efficient method for gun safety.
“First thing you always do is check the weapon. You assume that every gun you pick up is loaded. Never assume the weapon is empty, or the next thing you hear could be the sound of your own death.”
Jason nodded, repeating exactly what he’d been told. He followed Tim’s instructions to the letter. It struck the FBI team that he had a mind for details and forgot little.
Tim did initial shooting instructions, going through each drill carefully. Jason, though he didn’t like handling the guns, picked them up without fear and followed directions, squeezing off his first couple of rounds. He didn’t flinch, didn’t blink and held the weapon like it was made for him. The hand trembled slightly as he set it back down, but he didn’t lose his cool.
“Excellent. I think you’re the best student I’ve ever had,” Tim said proudly. “Taylor, you take over supervising him. You know the drill as well as I do. Greg’s got some kinks to work out and I need to practice for the expo.”
“You got it, Tim.” She turned to face Jason. “Think you can handle having me as your teacher?”
He glanced at her, grinning. “Oh, yeah. I thought they’d never leave.” He winked.
“Behave.” She jabbed him in the gut with her thumb.
“I am behaving!” He looked highly offended. “I haven’t ravished you. Nor have I made any really improper suggestions.”
“You kissed me,” she whispered.
“You kissed me,” he corrected. “And I liked it. Got a problem with it?” He lifted the weapon, checked it as he’d been told, aimed and fired several shots in rapid succession.
Taylor watched the target in awe. Her vision was excellent. He’d hit the center of the target nearly every time. He laid down the weapon.
“You sure you never shot a gun before today?”
“Paintball and airsoft, a wee bit. Real weapons, no. Scared to bits of the lot of ‘em. Still not fond of them, but I can do what I must.”
“Best natural shot I ever saw,” Tim said, coming up quietly behind them.
Tim handed each of them a bottle of water and brought the target forward. Impressed, Taylor still felt she should say something by way of correction.
“Work on your grouping. You’ve a tendency to pull too far to your left. Want a clean kill, bring it to the right, don’t let it drift.”
“Yes, sir,” Jason said automatically.
Taylor set up another target. Taking her position, she scrolled it back, checked her weapon and fired. Her grouping was tight, centered, perfect.
“That’s my girl,” Tim said proudly. “Learn to shoot like that, kid, you’ll never have to worry.”
“Do my best,” Jason replied, stunned by her abilities.
His next rounds were better. Taylor made very few corrections, coaching him only enough to give him the right idea. He was quick, precise and more of a perfectionist than she. His vision was superb, his aim true. Once he learned the finer points of controlling the weapon drift, he did better.
“Now, with the left,” he said after they stopped for a picnic lunch that they had brought with them.
“Aren’t you getting tired?” Greg looked at his watch.
“Not a bit. I’m catching my second wind. You?”
Jason laughed. “Can we spend a wee bit of time on the left? I don’t have the same measure of control as I do with my right. Can’t figure that out.”
“Probably because all of us are right handed,” Tim said. “I can shoot some with the left, but not all that good. Never met an ambidextrous fellow before.”
“Comes in handy in my line of work. I can do a bit of magic with either hand.”
He held up several items he’d relieved them each of. He had handcuffs, a wallet, set of keys and Taylor’s lipgloss.
© Dellani Oakes
She wasn’t mad, she was laughing at him. He thought her anger would have been preferable. He was humiliated and horny—not a happy combination.
“Yeah, laugh at my pain. That scared me shitless! God! I thought she’d found me.”
Suddenly, he was shaking. He spilled his soda and he could hardly set it down on the table in front of him. Taylor was at his side, her arms around him.
“It’s okay. You’re safe here. It’s all right.”
“She tried to kill me, Taylor. No one ever tried to kill me before. Not really. Threatened me, yeah…. But she shot me and she laughed!”
Taylor motioned the men to go. Sitting with Jason on the couch, she tried to calm him down. He was freaking, inconsolable. He was so scared, he didn’t even want sex anymore. He was all for sleeping in his panic room, but she finally talked him out of it. A few minutes later, a frowzy looking Spence tapped at the door. He had a syringe with him and offered Jason a dose of medication to make him sleep.
“I swear, it won’t put you out heavily. It will take the edge off. We can still wake you up if there’s trouble.”
Jason nodded. He lay down on the bed, begging Taylor with his eyes to stay with him. She sat on the other side of the king sized bed, curling her legs under her.
“I’m here,” she said. “You sleep.”
Spence gave him the shot and he left. Jason crawled over to where Taylor sat, laying his head on her lap like a child. She played with his hair as he fell asleep, marveling at the silky softness of the curls.
“I’m here, Jason. I’ll protect you.” She tried to stay awake, but the long day caught up with her as well.
She knew the house was well protected, nothing could disturb them. She put her gun in the drawer next to the bed, curled up around Jason, and fell asleep.
At 8:00, Tim tapped on the door. “Breakfast in ten,” he said through the door.
Taylor opened the door looking disheveled and gorgeous. Even he, who had been married nearly 20 years to an equally beautiful, amazing woman, was not immune to Taylor. She made him think of his own wife, alone in their big bed.
“You two okay?” Tim asked quietly as Jason stirred in the bed.
“Yeah. It’s cool. We slept, Tim. He needed me here.”
“I know, honey. Be careful, okay? That’s all I’m saying. He’s a great guy, but….”
“I know the drill, Tim,” she said firmly. “Thank you, though. I appreciate the concern.”
“Been there,” he nodded between the two of them. “I ever tell you about the Vegas show girl I guarded?”
“Mob boss boyfriend, saw too much?”
“Yup. Did I tell you about the incredible sex fest we had?”
“No!” She was shocked.
“Cause we didn’t,” he replied, shutting the door.
“Wakies,” Taylor said quietly, approaching the bed.
Jason sat up, stretching languidly. His well delineated muscles caught what little light there was in the room. It glistened on his tawny skin and the golden mane of curls, making him look leonine in the half light.
“Yeah. I’m up.” He glanced at his lap. “In more ways than one. Excuse me.” He stumbled to the bathroom, embarrassed by his morning erection.
Taylor called out to him. “I’m going to get dressed. Breakfast in about five minutes.”
“Yeah, thanks!” He called back.
He didn’t have time for a shower, but he felt better once he washed his face. He was dressed when Taylor and Greg came to get him. His black T-shirt clung to wiry frame to perfection. The dark jeans fit just right. His long, curly hair was sleeked back in a tight ponytail.
Taylor and Greg were similarly dressed and they all shared a laugh as they went downstairs to the kitchen. The others were there already. Tim had coffee going and someone on the morning crew had brought donuts and bagels in. They sat around feasting on the pastries until they were full.
“Okay, today’s agenda,” Tim said rubbing his hands together. “We’re taking you shooting. While we’re gone, the house is getting swept for bugs. Also, we’re checking wiring, electronics, everything we can think of. And some techs will be in to put peepholes in all the bedroom doors.”
Jason nodded, thanking him.
“While we’re out, we’re going by the office. Jason, I hate to do this to you, buddy, but I want you chipped.”
“Simple process. We inject a transmitter. I’m not suggesting this because I think you’re a flight risk, son. I want this for your safety. Taylor agrees. In fact, it was her idea.”
Jason nodded. He’d suggested the same thing to the judge himself. Which reminded him.
“How’s Judge Walker?”
That caught them by surprise. The agents exchanged a look, shrugging.
“I’d like to let her know I’m alright. And thank her and her friend. I also want to send my condolences.”
“We can arrange that,” Taylor said. “We can set him up a secure e-mail,” she said to the men. “I’ll make sure one of the guys does that today. You can message her when we get home.”
“Thanks, love.” He patted the hand she set on his shoulder.
© Dellani Oakes
It’s late and night and something strange is happening. Has Orchid found them?
“What’s wrong?” He said in a normal tone of voice.
“I don’t know. I woke up suddenly. It was weird. I thought I heard someone’s voice.”
“Me too. Moments ago. I thought it was you.”
“You’re freaking me out, Jason. I thought it was you.”
“Could Orchid already know I’m out?”
“Possible. We didn’t make a big show of it, but it’s not like the press was unaware. If she’s around, she heard.”
“Great. She could already know where I am.”
This room had been made to look like a 1950′s living room. Even in a panic room, he had a theme. The mini kitchen on the end sported a full bar, refrigerator and an array of soda spigots. Since he liked to work in here, he’d stocked the refrigerator with a variety of soft drinks, but not much else. He grabbed a couple of sodas for them, handing her one. He collapsed on the couch.
“That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Her finding you?”
“I’d rather have it the other way round,” he said more calmly than he felt. “Then I’d feel as if I had the upper hand. I don’t like the feeling that the bitch is ahead of me again.”
“How could she project her voice into the house?”
“Who knows? I very much doubt she could get in. The place is a ruddy fortress. But there’s all kinds of things you can do with electronics if you know what you’re doing.”
“Me, perhaps. But you? She doesn’t even know you. Let’s hope it stays that way.”
“Because I like you. I don’t want you a target. More to the point, I don’t want you to kill her. I want that opportunity myself—and you’d be better at it than me.” He flashed his winning smile at her, making her weak.
Taylor’s heart fluttered. She wanted so badly for him to kiss her she could hardly stand it. She’d never been so incredibly attracted to anyone as she was to Jason. However, she had a rule that she wouldn’t go to bed with a man she barely knew. Hell, she’d known Greg nearly two years and hadn’t gone to bed with him either! After a particularly horrible relationship crashed and burned a few years ago, she’d made a promise to herself that she’d be more careful. That vow got hard to keep when he looked at her like that.
Her phone rang. “Yes? Oh, thank God, Greg. What’s going on?”
There was a rumble of his voice on the other end. Jason couldn’t make out the words.
“Okay. We’re coming out. Thanks.” She hung up. “All clear. False alarm.”
“Did they figure out what it was?”
“He’ll explain when they get back up here.”
“I’m adding a peephole to my door tomorrow. I don’t like not being able to see out.”
“Good idea. We should all have them.”
“Get me some, I can put them in. I’m good with tools.” He gave her another amazing grin.
“All kinds, I bet.” Her smile and tone turned seductive.
“Oh, God, love! You’ve no idea what that does to me!”
She did, he could tell. She knew exactly where that smile had hit him and she loved it. He watched her ass all the way to the door of the panic room. She made him stay in there until she checked to be sure the men were back in the house and at his bedroom door. She let them in while Jason waited in the other room.
“Does that stair from the gym seal off?” Greg asked.
“Yes. If you remember, it’s in a tube at the bottom. And has a thing like a sub door on this end. It’s been sealed since we came up. The tube is coded, so’s the hatch.”
“Good. I was having a paranoid moment.”
“All ready had them, mate. Hence the hatch.”
“I like how you think,” Greg said, accepting a soda.
“So, what was it?”
“Someone’s baby monitor,” Tim said.
“What?” Jason was incredulous.
“They don’t shield those things worth shit. We traced the signal to the house next door. Scared the crap outta them showing up at two o’clock in the morning with guns.”
“Why did it sound like someone saying my name?”
“His name’s Jason too. I saw his license myself, no joke. We caught some of their kinky foreplay on the security feed,” Alex replied with a laugh.
“She talks dirty to him over the baby monitor.”
“Do they even have a kid?”
“No. It’s some game they play. Don’t ask….” Greg cautioned.
“Why’d we hear it?”
“That’ amazing sound system you’ve got. I’m not sure how it works, but that’s the gist of it. All safe and sound. Go back to sleep.”
“Yeah, that’s gonna happen,” Jason complained. “Maybe if I was stone drunk or sexually satiated after a few hours debauch with a beautiful woman. Clean and sober, no way!”
The men stared at him. He didn’t realize what he’d said right away. Blushing, he covered his head with his hands.
“Don’t kill me, Taylor. Sorry.”
© Dellani Oakes