Authors: Erin Rooks
In Between Dreams
Erin Kerr Rooks
Copyright © 2014 Erin Kerr Rooks
All rights reserved.
ISBN 13: 9781500627126
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014913362
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
North Charleston, South Carolina
For you, Mom
Thank you for passing on your vivid dreams to me.
he girl’s breathing was heavy. She tried to hide it from her solemn yet attentive driver. The driver’s eyes shifted from the road to the rearview mirror, and he squinted slightly, examining the girl. She acted her normal timid self. She kept her expression calm as she looked out the window at the evening rain, as if it were any other day. The car came to a swift halt. The driver let out a series of sounds and sentences denoting his annoyance at being delayed. His boss didn’t like unscheduled delays, no matter what the cause.
The driver made a final grunt, mumbled for the girl to stay put, and got out of the car. She took a deep breath while looking out the window, seeing a man she had only seen once before, the one who told her the plan. He stood in the shadows of the alley across the street. The driver was arguing with a man whose car had stalled and blocked his path. The man was refusing to push the car to the side of the road.
She quickly took off her jacket, placed it on the seat, and removed a black hoodie from her bag. She pulled it over her head in one swift motion. Once it was in place, she softly opened the door to the town car, praying it wouldn’t creak. She slipped through the smallest opening she could manage. She was a small girl, so it wasn’t too difficult. She looked behind her at her driver, still arguing with the man, who, to her luck, stood strategically so her driver couldn’t easily see her slip away. She crouched down and ran toward the man in the alley. Daniel, who was now her tall Australian savior.
Just as she got to Daniel, she heard a voice. It was her driver yelling for her to stop, and he was advancing on the two of them while reaching for his weapon, which had been holstered at the small of his back.
Daniel spun the girl around, placing his body between her and the driver, and fired his silenced Beretta into the man’s leg. Daniel grabbed the girl by the arm and abruptly turned to leave. Daniel heard the scream from his target, and a shot struck the window of the open car door, creating a spiderweb effect in the thick bulletproof glass.
The couple ran into the twilight of the evening streets, hearing shouts and sounds of panic from the onlookers.
A couple blocks away, Bailey heard what sounded like the backfire of a car followed by screams and loud voices. Not unusual for Hong Kong but unnerving nonetheless. Bailey pulled at her long dark hair furiously, nervously. She looked down the street. It was getting darker quickly. The fog was increasing, and light rain continued to fall. She strained her eyes to see if she could spot Daniel coming from any direction. He was late. Bailey was fighting to stay calm and focused. As each second passed, Bailey became more and more concerned.
Daniel had asked her to wait in this exact spot for him. He was picking up their “client.” She hadn’t moved a muscle, the seriousness in his tone let her know it was important for her to stay put. She knew they might need to rush as they met up, so she stayed alert. She could feel dampness on her brow either from the rain or sweat from her constant stress.
Cars drove past her, swishing the water around as they drove. A chill ran up Bailey’s spine as a rain-soaked breeze hit her face. She saw Daniel jogging toward her, tugging along with him a small female who was running to keep up. Bailey blinked a couple times to make sure she saw her correctly. The girl was dressed head to toe in black and hunched over to hide her face. As they got closer, Bailey saw what little of the girl’s face that was shown. Her eyes looked crazed, terrified.
Bailey gulped and backed up as they came bolting toward her. Daniel checked his weapon. He cocked a round into the chamber, gently relaxing the hammer into the revolver.
“Bailey,” Daniel called for her, his Australian accent filled the streets, making everyone seem to turn his way.
“What’s next?” Bailey asked frantically.
“We have to keep moving,” Daniel said in a rough voice, pushing Bailey to jog alongside them. Daniel looked over his shoulder scanning for any suspicious activity. The young girl was obviously terrified, saying something over and over again in a language Bailey didn’t understand.
“We need a translator. We need Sam,” Bailey whispered under her breath. Daniel didn’t like Sam and didn’t appreciate his role on the team. There was more to Daniel and Sam’s relationship than a typical one between enforcer and translator.
Daniel’s disdain for Sam came through loud and clear, even in a moment of intensity. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch; he’ll be at the hotel,” Daniel said gruffly. “You take the girl. See if you can get her calm enough to get through the hotel lobby.”
“Which hotel?” Bailey asked. She still had no idea of which safe house they were going to use in this mission, and it put her on edge. She was aggravated and nervous all at once. They rounded the corner, an Americanized hotel came into view across the street. It was the only building with English and Chinese lettering on it. Hong Kong Embassy. Bailey put her arm around the small girl and motioned for her to duck under her arm. The small girl did as Bailey had mimed, and Daniel walked in with them. Daniel followed closely behind, stopping briefly to make sure they weren’t followed.
They walked straight to the elevator. Daniel put on his handsome smile to the woman at the front desk to avoid the clerk examining Bailey and the girl. The clerk smiled back at Daniel and twirled the end of her hair flirtatiously. Bailey continued to comfort their new young companion. A surprising twinge of jealousy sparked in her stomach. She swallowed it down, slowly, like it was bile coming up in her throat.
Once Daniel finished flirting with the desk clerk, the trio filed into the elevator, and Daniel pushed the top button. As the door closed, he waved at the receptionist, who still had her eyes glued on him. When the door closed and she was out of view, he put his arm around the young girl. The girl looked up at Daniel, her eyes filled with tears.
Bailey had the strong urge to hug her. She didn’t know the girl, but she knew she needed comforting.
Bailey moved her hand from the girl’s arm to her shoulder, grazing Daniel’s hand accidentally. Daniel pulled his arm quickly back. The girl moved closer to Bailey, without hesitation, wrapping her arms around her. The girl sunk into Bailey, her wet tears soaking into Bailey’s shirt. Bailey looked up at Daniel, her eyes full of concern and wonder about the future of the mission all at the same time.
“This is Mei,” Daniel said softly as the elevator crawled to the top floor. “The niece of the leader of the largest Triad in Hong Kong.”
ailey opened her tired red eyes to a blurred image of a framed photo on her nightstand. She squinted, her eyes attempting to adjust to the dim light in the room. Once her eyes focused, she was looking at a picture of herself, her long, wavy brown hair in a side ponytail. Her skin was bronze from a summer in the sun, and she and her best friend, Jason, were at a parade.
The photo was taken so long ago; she couldn’t remember what year the parade was exactly. But she and Jason had an annual date to go to the gay pride parade together for a decade. In the picture, Bailey had yellow dandelions in her hair. The idea had been Jason’s, and she remembered calling him “pure genius” and wearing flowers in her hair every day for the rest of the summer. She smiled, gently drifting back to the brief recollection of the summer.
That was a good summer
, she thought. Her dreams for the future were clear and hopeful. Her whole life seemed to be ahead of her; she was filled with anticipation and trepidation all at the same time. None of those dreams had come to pass. Her recollection faded to melancholy.
She studied how Jason’s smile mirrored hers almost exactly; she studied his brown hair that was fashioned into a faux hawk and chuckled a bit at his pink tank top. He was always using his attire to “make a statement,” as he would say. Jason’s bright blue eyes were squinting, because the sun was in them and his skin was getting pink. Now, however, Jason lived in Hollywood, fulfilling his lifelong dream of living
with a man who would take care of him (or, as Jason would call him, “Sugar Daddy”), which gave him the ability to stay unemployed. The closeness of Bailey and Jason’s relationship had cooled as they grew up. However, they still spoke occasionally when they could make time. Bailey and Jason normally saw each other a couple times a year when he came to Seattle with his partner to visit his family.
Bailey’s throat had become scratchy while she was sleeping, and she felt the dryness of her mouth almost instantly. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was coated with sandpaper. Her eyes hungrily focused on the bottle of water that sat behind the picture frame. She reached to grab it, against her joints’ wishes. She knocked down the picture frame to grab the bottle. She sat up abruptly as she unscrewed the cap. The water was lukewarm as she poured it down her throat, but she didn’t care. She was grateful for the moisture. She began to feel whole again as the bottle emptied into her mouth. Once the contents of the bottle were gone, she panted from the absence of air in her lungs.
“Bailey Regan,” she said to herself. “You are a mess.”
Bailey felt like she was finally reentering her body as she stretched to wake up her tired muscles and instinctively rubbed the space between her shoulder blade and neck. She had slept in an uncomfortable position. She looked at her phone to see how long she had been asleep. She was shocked to realize it had been sixteen hours. She tried to remember whether she had gotten up during the night. She could not remember getting up to go to the bathroom, answering a call, or waking up to an alarm. She let out a groan as she heard her stomach growl in protest of no sustenance due to her chronic sleep disorder. “I know,” she whispered, looking down and patting her stomach, as if that would calm it. “I’ll feed you soon,” she promised.
She knew she would seem crazy to anyone else who saw her speaking to herself. But she really didn’t care. She had been living with her “sleep disorder” for over eight years. She already felt crazy enough with her undiagnosed condition; talking to herself wouldn’t tip the scales.
“Narcolepsy,” her doctor had said to her when she was eighteen. “Or…something like it.” The words hit her ears like thunder, and she felt numb. They had been running tests on her for three years, and all
he could say was “or something like it”? Bailey’s face had dropped in despair, and she tuned out the rest of his words. For three years, she and her mother traveled all around the Northwest looking for
that would finally diagnose her disorder. This specialist provided one more opinion with no real answer. He had given her the impression that he would be the one who would figure out what was wrong with her. She truly believed he would be the one that cured her, the one who would make it possible for her to live a normal life. She thought that maybe she could have a relationship, a family, a future. She and her mother had both thought Dr. James Marshall was the solution. But he was just another doctor, another dead end.