Authors: Annette Brownlee
Tags: #Adventure, #Paranormal
Follow her on Facebook at
Her Master Defender
By Sandra S. Kerns
Dos concentrated on the dim lights overhead as two men dragged him down the hall. It was his latest trick to ignore the pain. His raw heels burned with the intensity of a heating coil. The cracked bones in his body screamed in agony. He swallowed the need to voice his suffering. Cardone’s goons would prefer he screamed. Dos refused to give them that satisfaction.
Dimness changed to retina searing brightness. They dragged him onto a table. The rough wood tore open festering welts on his back. Still he kept silent. The men strapped his wrists and ankles to the table. As if he could jump up and run away. Two broken patellas and one broken tibia pretty well shot any chance of that. The fractured bones, burns and cuts on his body did nothing to stop Cardone from messing with him. Over the past two weeks the drug lord had changed tactics. Instead of beatings and shock treatments, he now pumped drugs into Dos and watched the reaction. Dos wondered what the drug of choice was today.
“Ah, Major, I hope you have not been waiting long,” Cardone said, walking into the room.
Dos didn’t bother turning his head to watch the man’s movements; it didn’t matter. He could handle whatever the bastard doled out. And if he couldn’t, he’d die. Even knowing he’d go to Hell for letting his men die, Dos figured it couldn’t be worse than this.
“The silent treatment today, is it? Don’t worry, I’ll remedy that soon,” Cardone said, staring down at him from beside the table. Inhaling deeply on his cigar he removed it and blew the smoke down into Dos’ face.
Dos wanted to choke. He didn’t even blink.
Cardone smiled and blew the ash from the end of the cigar. He grabbed Dos’ broken right hand turning it palm up. “I thought we could have some fun before I give you your fix today.”
Dos clenched his jaw and stared at him, as the tip of the cigar pressed into his palm. He held off as long as he could. A scream burst from him, tearing at his parched throat as he tried to pull his hand away.
“That’s better. You know it just lasts longer when you disappoint me with your silence, Major.”
“Yes, yes, we’ve already discussed my lineage.” Cardone smiled then yanked Dos’ hair, and leaned his head close. “Shall we discuss yours? I can see in your eyes, what little of them is visible, the answer is no. In fact, your conversational skills on any topic are quite limited. I suppose I will have to amuse myself some other way.
“Let’s see.” Cardone, still holding onto Dos’ hair, trailed the end of the cigar down Dos’ chest. “How many good ribs do we have left?” he asked, before fisting his hand .
Dos’ hands slapped down on the desk. His chest heaved as he sucked in air. Sweat trailed down the side of his face. His eyes scanned as much of the room as possible without moving his head. Sunlight poured through windows. There were chairs, tables, a coat rack, and desk. He was in an office. Colorado, he remembered, not a cell in South America anymore.
“Son of a bitch,” he said, falling back against his chair. He rubbed a hand over the ribcage on his right side. If someone had told him a year ago that the memory of pain could hurt as much as the real thing, he would have laughed. Now he was a true believer.
Living through the capture the first time had been bad enough. These flashbacks were driving him insane. They were so real. Knowing if he closed his eyes his brain would go right back to it, he stared at the paperweight holding down schematics on the desk in front of him. He concentrated on deep breaths to slow his respiration and heart rate. Next, he went through progressive muscle relaxation the physical therapist at the base had shown him. After long minutes, his jaw released enough so his teeth weren’t grinding together.
He grabbed the extra long cane his brothers had given him to accommodate his height. Using it, and the desk, he levered himself out of the chair and crossed to the small bathroom. He splashed cold water on his face a few times. Leaning his full weight against the sink for a minute he let the water drip off. Reaching for a towel, he didn’t look in the mirror. There was no need. He knew he looked like crap. The shocked look on his mother’s face, the first time she’d seen him after he came home, told him all he needed to know.
Now, a month later, he still hadn’t gained back much of the twenty some pounds he’d lost. He was only thirty-six, but gray now peppered his almost black hair. The pallor of his as a rule tanned skin wouldn’t change since short periods in the sun were all he could handle anymore. He looked like death warmed over, which he was, in essence. He might have been rescued from Cardone, but the virus the bastard had pumped into him still plagued his body.
Snagging a bottle of water from the small refrigerator, he walked to the front window. He looked out at what passed for downtown in Braedon’s Edge. The sleepy Rocky Mountain town was slowly waking up to another sunny October morning. With little activity to watch, his mind tried to figure out what caused the flashback this time.
They were coming more often. Dos had no more warning now than he’d had when they started. Add the unpredictable, debilitating, body spasm attacks brought on by Cardone’s virus, and Dos’ life wasn’t worth shit. After three weeks of peace, he’d almost convinced himself it was over. The virus had run its course, and he had both consciously and subconsciously dealt with what happened in South America. The last two days had shown him the error of that belief.
He’d had at least two flashbacks and as many physical attacks. It was like he’d been in remission, and now the damned garbage was redoubling its efforts. The thought of going back to the condition he’d been in before the rescue terrified him. Just the fact that he’d had to be rescued still ate at him. He should have known something was wrong. He should have been able to save his men.
He should have died.
Why the hell hadn’t he died? He rubbed his eyes to push the unwelcome notion out of his mind. But, the flashback brought the memory of his rescue back. He went deeper into the thoughts.
He could hear the scraping sound the soldiers made when digging a hole into the decrepit building where Cardone kept him shackled. The same feeling of fear that had stole his breath then, was like a vise on his chest now. The suffocating hold eased remembering the confident young captain who led the rescue. Dos had carried the same before his capture. Now he knew better.
Shaking of the self pity, Dos glanced up at the Colorado blue sky and remembered seeing the star strewn sky as the soldiers had pulled him out of his prison, and the rush of freedom the sight had given him. He could still smell the heaviness of the humid, but fresh air that had chilled his half naked body. Freedom had taken on a new reality for him that night.
His captivity had taught him a sobering reality. Freedom truly was a gift. He never planned to take it for granted again. The walk down memory lane left him as parched as if he’d been in confinement. Twisting the cap off the bottle he held, Dos chugged the contents. The water did little to slake the feeling of dehydration. Before he could turn to go get another bottle, movement across the street caught his attention.
The copper haired beauty who owned the massage therapy business on the other side of the street was just getting in. He glanced at his watch, six-thirty. She was early today. At least she gave him something better to concentrate on. He leaned against the window frame. When the backpack she had slung over one shoulder slipped, sunlight glinted off the window. Something about the way it bounced wasn’t right.
“What the hell?” He pulled open the door and started across the street.