Authors: Kathleen Brooks
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Suspense, #Contemporary, #General, #Romantic Comedy
Maybe Miss Lily had been right all these years. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free. They have some great, really great, sex and he thinks she’s a vacuum type girl. No words of love, no relationship determination, just a vacuum. Well, he could just take that vacuum and shove it up his…
“Crap.” Paige slammed on the brakes and did a controlled slide onto the dirt road. She pressed the gas pedal down as she bounced down the road toward her sanctuary.
Paige drove past the corn fields and her brothers' cows that used some of her parents’ empty fields. She looked in her rearview mirror and saw nothing but a cloud of dust as she made her way to the field connected to the woods. Passing the last row of corn, she slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop.
A vacuum! A freaking vacuum! She threw the gear shift into park and hopped out, leaving the keys dangling in the ignition. She slammed the door and stalked her way across the field to the path to the rocks. She didn’t notice the hot, humid air or the noise from the cicadas. Nope, all she could think about was that red vacuum cleaner.
“But it picks up dog hair.” Ah! And he had a whole box of bed linens. Like he was ever going to get back into her bed. Nope. Those linens would look great on the couch. He could stay there for the rest of his life for as much as she cared. Wait. Whole life? No sir, they hadn’t talked about ‘whole life’, he had only talked about the duration of the case.
Paige made it to the woods and stopped. She looked around the peaceful, wooded path and turned to look out across the field and screamed, “Freakin’ vacuum cleaner! He got me a freakin’ vacuum cleaner!” She turned back down the path and started a quick walk down the half mile trail.
Paige jumped from the downed tree onto the rocks. She dropped to her knees and cried for all she was worth. She didn’t want to be the vacuum cleaner type. She wanted to be the sexy lingerie type. She’d even settle for a cute little pistol., They could be sexy if he got the right one. But, you couldn’t make a vacuum sexy. So she cried. The man she loved found her as sexy as a vacuum that picked up dog hair.
Eventually she got tired of crying and sat up. She was covered in tears, sweaty from stomping down the path, and just plain worn out from crying. She kicked off her shoes and dangled her bare feet over the rock and into the creek. Oh, the cool water felt so good. With a sigh, she stood up and started to walk around in the creek. Her feet sunk slightly into the soft bottom. The babbling of the water soothed her as she breathed in the fresh air, and listened to the birds chirping and the gentle breeze playing music with the leaves.
Why did she have to love him so much? Why did he have to be so happy when he showed her all his stuff? And why did he have to look so confused when she got upset? He was so happy when he showed her the vacuum as if he put a lot of thought into it. As if he thought the gift was something she’d really love and he looked so expectant.
Oh no. Did she overreact? Was the vacuum and moving in his way of telling her he loved her and wanted a relationship? Why do that when he could have just told her? Maybe he didn’t know how or maybe he was too scared to say those three words. After all, she had been too scared to say those three words. If he was too scared, she wasn’t. Not anymore. She had to tell him what she felt.
She took another deep breath and knew this is what she needed to do. She skimmed her fingers along the top of the flowing water and made up her mind to get out of the creek, walk to the truck, and drive back home to tell Cole she loved him and wanted him to move in with her. After all, how many guys could win the support of her whole family? Paige smiled with determination. She turned and started walking back to the rocks through the knee high water.
She had almost reached the rocks when she heard a twig snap in the woods. She turned her head in the direction of noise. It had come from the path. Cole had come after her! She could tell him how much she loved him now.
“Cole! Oh, I am so glad you’re here. Look, I am so sorry for our fight this afternoon. I shouldn’t have reacted like that when I found out you got me a vacuum. I am sure it’s a lovely vacuum, but it’s just that I have something to tell you. I love you. I love you with all my heart and all my soul. I want you to stay with me, vacuum and all. Please tell me you will. Please tell me you will stay with me and try to love me as much as I love you.” She had reached the rocks and was about to pull herself up when a face came into view, a face that had been haunting her dreams.
“He got you a vacuum? What an idiot.” The assassin raised his rifle and aimed it right at her head.
Paige didn’t have time to scream. Her heart lodged in her throat preventing any noise from coming out. She dove downstream as the bullet whizzed by her head and lodged in the tree behind her. The cold water washed over her head as her body slammed into the soft creek bottom. As she pushed up, her hands sunk into the silt and she gasped for air. She heard him fighting the brush surrounding the creek and got to her knees. She crawled to the side of the creek where the bottom was harder and got to her feet.
Her breaths came in short gasps as she looked back and saw him hacking his way through the vegetation to get a clear shot. Not thinking twice, she took off running down the creek. Her legs ached as they pushed against the water and against the creek bed that was trying to swallow her feet. She couldn’t hear anything but the water being splashed around by her legs.
She hadn’t made it ten yards when she heard him break through the brush and jump into the creek after her. She turned back and saw him desperately pulling at his legs to get them out of the silt. He was stuck in the creek bed! He raised his rifle again and took aim. Paige darted to her right as the shot went wide. She just had to make it five more feet to the bend in the creek. She pushed herself as she zigzagged to safety. She took one last look back as she saw him pull one of his legs free.
She rounded the bend and made her way to the left side of the creek. There was a deer trail a couple of feet away. She could follow that to the main path and then to her car. She looked up at the opening in the briars and hoped like hell she could make it up the bank to the deer trail. She fell against the muddy bank and tried to get traction as she looked at the lip about four feet over her head. Her bare feet slipped on the mud as she tried to climb up. Her nails clawed frantically at the mud trying to find a hold. She looked around and saw that a briar bush hung down along the bank next to her. Not letting herself think, she grabbed as high as she could as the sharp thorns sank into her palms.
The thorns ripped skin as she pulled her hand from the bush. She grabbed the grass, causing briars left in her palm to dig in deeper. She grimaced and clawed along the grass until she was able to pull herself all the way up.
She didn’t allow herself any time to think. She pushed herself to her feet and took off at a dead run towards her truck. Her bare feet hit the ground hard as she ran. Twigs broke under her feet and splinters, thorns, and mud stuck to her as she pushed herself along the tiny trail.
Paige leapt over a downed tree and fell onto the main path. Her bare feet momentarily slipped on the dry dirt. She caught herself and cried out as her hand slammed against a tree. She righted herself and started jogging down the lane.
“Didn’t anybody teach you to never leave your keys in the car?” She looked back in time to see him round the corner about sixty yards behind her. He took a couple wild shots and she pushed herself to sprint the remaining quarter mile.
If she could only make it to her truck. He might have the keys, but he probably didn’t have the rifle hidden in the back seat. The trouble was making it all the way across the field. He was gaining on her and she didn’t know if she could make it to her truck.
Paige saw the sunlight in the field ahead of her. The trees thinned as she broke out of the woods. Her lungs burned and her feet were numb. She kept her eyes locked on the truck as she noticed the dirt in the air behind it. She was only halfway there when she saw the Explorer pulling into the field. She frantically looked behind her in time to see him drop to a knee and take aim.
The shot reverberated on the trees and floated through the field. Cole’s windshield cracked as the bullet pierced the glass. Paige didn’t stop running as Cole slammed on the brakes and pulled his car sideways, the passenger seat door closest to her. She heard more gun fire and glass shattering as Cole wrenched open the driver’s door and rolled out of the car.
She was only fifteen yards to her car now. Cole returned fire, pinning the assassin to the tree line a hundred and fifty yards away. Paige pushed herself harder as she skidded over the hood and landed hard on the ground. Shots ricocheted off her truck as she reached for the door. Crouching, she opened the driver’s door and pushed the seat forward. Glass rained down on her as bullets shattered the windshield. She threw her arms over her head as tiny fragments of glass bit into her exposed arms.
Cole returned fire and she lunged for the black rifle bag on the floor in the backseat. She unzipped the bag and pulled out her Browning BAR Mark II rifle. She loaded it as volleys of gunfire surrounded her. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out to steady herself. She stood and placed the rifle barrel on the dashboard where her windshield used to be.
Lowering her head to the sight, she narrowed the world to a tiny circle on his chest. She quickly adjusted for the wind and distance before taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly. The trigger lay gently against the pad of her finger as she applied just enough pressure to fire. Never taking her eye off the target she watched as her bullet hit the target at the same time Cole fired. The rifle dropped from the assassin's hand as he fell to the ground.
Paige decided she had seen too many horror movies in her life. All she could think about was the bimbo who shot the bad guy, then dropped her weapon as she went to see if he’s still alive. The bimbo would be hysterical and not notice the villain’s finger twitch. Then the bimbo would need to get real close to see if the villain was breathing. She puts her face inches from the villain’s and then is surprised when his eyes pop open and he grabs her. She refused to be that bimbo.
She held on to her weapon and she was going to make Cole check to see if he was breathing. Paige glanced quickly to her right to see that Cole was calling in the situation. She kept her gun leveled on the assassin as she stepped around the truck.
“Stay there Paige!” Cole yelled as he hung up the phone and shoved it in the back pocket of his jeans.
“Like Hell! But, I will let you go first!” Paige screamed across the field as she slowly walked toward the man.
She watched Cole take the lead with his pistol drawn and aimed at the man on the ground. He stopped about five feet away and looked down at him. She kept her rifle raised and took position slightly behind Cole and to his left. Cole nodded his head toward the gun and she picked up on the signal. She slid over and kicked the gun out of the reach of the man.
“He’s been hit twice,” Cole told her.
“I got him in his right shoulder,” Paige informed him.
“And I got him in his left.” Cole smiled and gave her a wink, but she was too focused on the man’s fingers. Did they just move? She would swear they moved.
“Cole, be careful. I would have sworn his finger just moved.” Paige kept her eyes on the man’s hand as Cole got closer to him.
“I don’t want you to be the bimbo.”
Cole lowered his gun and stared at her. “What in the hell does that mean? Why would I be a bimbo?”
“Well, everyone knows that in the movies the bimbo drops her guard when she assumes the villain is dead and that’s when he attacks. Duh.” Paige rolled her eyes. Bless his heart, but, shouldn’t he know this as an FBI Agent?
“Honey, don’t you have enough faith in my abilities to beat a man with two gunshot wounds if he attacks me now?” Cole’s eyebrows rose cockily as he stared her down.
“That was before you bought me a vacuum. Just be careful.”
Cole edged forward with his gun raised. He stopped when he stood over the man and looked down on him. Paige watched as he nudged his hand with the toe of his brown work boot.
“Looks like he’s unconscious. You got a clean shot to the shoulder. That was a nice shot, sweetheart. Just don’t ever do it again. Do you know what it does to a man to see the woman he loves running from an assassin who is shooting at her? It took ten years off my life.”
“What it does to you?” Paige forgot about the bimbo in the movies and lowered her gun as her hands went to her hips. She stared him down with a shocked expression as she tried to figure out if he really was lecturing her. Yes, she decided, he was. “Did you think about what it does to me? It’s not like I do this for a living. But, that’s beside the point. I did do it and I did it well. I can take care of myself, thank you very much.”
Cole opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Paige looked up into the sky and thought about what he had said to her. She felt as if she missed something. Clean shot to shoulder. Good shot. Don’t do it again. Ten years. Love you. Love you! Wait, what?
“Did you say you love me?” Paige couldn’t decide if she was embarrassed for asking or just nervous for his answer. Either way, she felt her face flush and her heart beat rapidly against her chest. She was afraid to blink because she might miss his answer.
“Yeah, I said 'I love you'. I have loved you for months. I was just too stubborn to admit to myself that I needed you.” Paige felt tears well up in her eyes and took a step towards Cole.
“Shit!” She screamed.
“Um, okay. That was not the response I was expecting.” Cole’s smile faded and he took a sudden interest in the unconscious man at his feet.
“No. Not you. Sorry, wait!” Paige screamed as he started to turn away and walk back to the truck. “That didn’t sound right. I stepped on another thistle and it really hurt. I was going to come to you, but you may just have to come to me.” Paige looked down at her bloodied feet and wiggled her toes. Eww, a couple of her toenails were gone.