In Love and Rescue: When love is the perfect rescue... (2 page)

BOOK: In Love and Rescue: When love is the perfect rescue...
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He
jerked open the door and slid onto the seat. Sending a quick message to headquarters back in DC to let them know that he had everything under control, he tossed the tracker onto the passenger seat before reaching underneath it. When he didn’t feel the pistol that he’d left lying there, he cursed and slammed his hand against the console.

T
he men had taken his weapon.

Someone had been watching
them on the island long enough to know that he was associated with Larke, which was why they’d swept his truck. It also meant that her abduction was premeditated, which only made it that more crucial that he found her before it was too late.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Larke’s eyes
slowly fluttered open only to be greeted by darkness. As they adjusted to her surroundings, she realized that she was in the middle of a structure about half the size of a standard efficiency in downtown DC. A small gap in the space’s wooden slats invited in its only source of light, and the walls were made of wooden paneling that was cracked and rotting. The acrid, dry air seemed to consume all the remaining oxygen.

A
t the very least, however, she was awake, so the prick between her toes hadn’t killed her. Unfortunately, that knowledge didn’t offer any hope without her knowing where she was, who’d taken her, and what they’d planned to do with her.

A
sharp, scraping noise startled her and a door was jerked open, ushering in a burst of sunlight. The same two men that had been tousling with Michael at the resort strode in, and she clenched her fists in preparation to fight against anything they would try to do to her.

“You’re awake,” the skinny one
acknowledged. He detached a canteen from his waist and extended it towards her. “Here. Drink. You are probably thirsty.”

She eyed the canteen but
didn’t accept. There was no telling what kind of flavorless poison the container had probably been laced with.


Bitch,” the burly one spat. “We should let you die.”

“That’s not our orders,” Skinny argued.

The burly accomplice huffed, left the space, and took a seat within view on the steps outside the door. With his back facing the open door, he lit up a cigarette and looked out onto the landscape.

R
ealizing that she wasn’t going to take the canteen, Skinny reattached it to his waist, shook his head, and smiled. “You remind me of my wife some,” he said. “Same stubborn attitude. Same short, curly-brown hair. Skin like ripe mango flesh. But my wife, she died not too long ago. She was picking up some stuff from the shop downtown to make stew for dinner and then
boom,
just like that, she was gone. All because of this idiot kid trying to be in some gang, thinking that killing a young woman is what makes a man, a man. I know they say forgive and let God, but he was lucky the police found him before I did. He would have seen God much sooner.”

He remained standing in front of her for a fe
w moments, his hand still lingering near his waist. Larke knew that he wanted to offer her a drink a second time, so she turned her head away. He dropped his hand and shook his head.

“Okay then
. Tonight, you stay here. Gano or me,” he flicked his thumb towards his partner, “one of us will be back to bring you something to eat. In the morning, you will be moved again.”

Larke peered at the man sitting outside on the steps. “Are you sure he’ll bring me food? Maybe the bones after he’s finished sucking
the meat off of them.”

Skinny bellowed out a laugh. “You got him right even though you don’t know him. That man will eat all of the soup at my house, then use the last of the bread to sop up the little bit from the bottom of the bowl.”

The one he called Gano didn’t stir although Larke knew that he’d heard the quip.


Tony, are you done?” He asked, flicking his cigarette butt into the grass. “I don’t have all day.”

Skinny
took one last look at Larke, sighed almost inaudibly, and walked through the door. She heard their footsteps thunder down the steps before the truck started up and drove away, leaving her once again enshrouded in darkness in the middle of nowhere, with no idea what fate lay ahead.

 

*****

 

Desmond peered through the bushes at the old wooden house where the tracker indicated Larke was being kept. It was precariously propped up by wooden stilts and swayed slightly whenever a strong breeze passed through. Its fluorescent blue paint was badly damaged and peeling, the galvanized roofing was corroded and partially caved in, and the window shutters were torn off, their openings covered only by screens and pieces of dark cloth.

T
he two men from the suite suddenly exited, secured the door, jumped into their truck, and followed the path back down the hill. When their truck was out of sight, he scanned the clearing before crossing it and stopped a few yards shy of the wooden steps. The front door had been jarred shut and even if Larke had thought about escaping through the screened windows, he knew that the two men would have never left anything inside of the shanty that she could use to pierce the metal. However, they’d kept her alive, which meant that they’d be back.

“Larke? Larke,
can you hear me?” He called, climbing the steps. There was no answer, so he moved around to one of the screened windows.

“Larke?”

“Michael?” Her voice came from right beneath the window. “Is that you? What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for you.”

Desmond walked around the house to determine what would be the best way to get her out.

“How did you find me?”

“I followed the two men that took you.”

He examine
d the screen wires. They were similar to the screens used by residents on the island to keep mosquitoes out while allowing for easterly trade winds to travel throughout their homes, but were still strong enough that she’d never be able to pry through them with her bare hands.

“How is that possible?” She came back. “I heard you. You were in pain.
They left you behind.”

Desmond pulled
a partially serrated knife from his pocket. “Stand back, Larke. I’m going to cut the wire.”

He waited
a few seconds to give her time to comply, then tore into the screen and ignored the way the sharp ends scratched his skin as he tugged sections apart. When he was sure that he’d opened a hole large enough for her to squeeze through, he put his hand through and waved it around.

“Can you see my hand
? If you can see it, grab it.”

He
waited until he felt the silkiness of her palm.

“Now, I want you
to climb through the window.”

As she crept through,
pieces of the skirt cover-up she was wearing snagged against the jagged ends of metal that had been left behind. The ends also pierced her skin, but Larke ignored the pain as he pulled her through the window and into his arms.

Desmond
placed her gently on her feet, examined her body to make sure that nothing looked out of place, and then turned to go, but Larke didn’t shift. She was standing with her arms wrapped firmly around her midsection, taking in her surroundings. Her mouth twitched as she stared into the treetops, then back into the black abyss of the cut screen. When she finally looked up at him, he saw a flash of vulnerability.

“Are you okay?” He asked, even though he was already certain of the answer.

“How did you find me here?”

“Larke, we have to go.”

“No, Michael.” She stared into his eyes. “Answer me. You got here not much longer after the men did. How could you find me so quickly?”

Desmond sighed.
“I tracked you.”

“Tracked me?
” Her brows narrowed. “How?”

He reached behind her ear and
her eyes widened when she saw him pull back the small black object that resembled a round, flat sticker.


There’s a Nanochip in here that sends signals to a satellite, much like how a GPS system works. That signal then gets picked up by a device that I have in my truck.”

She took a wary step backwards. “I’m going to tak
e a shot in the dark here. You’re not really the hotel landscaper, are you?”

He paused, then slowly shook his head. “No.”

“Your real name? Is it Michael Pearce?”

“No.”

She continued backwards until she was pressed against the wall of the shanty.

“But I’m not here to
hurt you,” he added. “My name is Desmond Harding. I’m a former Navy SEAL and served in that position for several years. Now, I run a private military firm in DC specializing in the protection of key staff in the federal government.”

Lar
ke grasped at her throat. “Key staff? Protection? You knew this was going to happen?”

Desmond peered over his shoulder for any movement in the bushes. “
I wasn’t certain that you’d be abducted. My firm was contacted to retrieve you because of tensions rising in the area by a gang that calls themselves the Babylon Roots. Have you ever heard of them?”

She shook her head.

“We have had surveillance on them for a while now since there is speculation that the gang has been smuggling drugs into the US for distribution. However, because of the sharp increase in their numbers in the last few weeks, a decision was made to come down and pull you out.”

Her brows
relaxed as his words sunk in. “And what does that mean? That the numbers are increasing?”

“It means that they are mobilizing for a large operation, although we aren’t quite sure what it is
yet.”

She examined his face.
“So, how long have you been tracking me, then? To take me home?”

“Since the day you landed
.”

“But I’ve been here ten days.
When were you supposed to pull me out?”


I had every intention to bring you home that first night,” he explained, “but there was something about how relaxed you looked on the beach that made me feel guilty about cutting your trip short. So, I modified the mission and decided to keep an eye on you instead.”

“By pretending to be a
hotel worker?”

“Yes.”

“And pretending that you liked me?”


…Miss Tapley—”

“Tell me,
Desmond,
were you going to tell me who you really were before or after we slept together? Was that,” she made a circling motion with her finger, “part of the mission too?”

Her words stung, but she’d had every right to say them.

“No, it wasn’t, and I want to sincerely apologize about that Miss Tapley.”

She eyed him for a few seconds. “Larke.

“What?”

“Call me Larke. It’s okay.” She released a heavy sigh. “I don’t know what to believe at this point to be honest, but my gut is telling me that you’d do less harm than the two men from before.”

H
e turned. “Does that mean you’re ready to go?”

“No, there’s one more thing.

Desmond took another quick glance into the bushes.


If you hadn’t followed me down to the island,” she began, “would I be dead by now?”

“Honestly?” He asked, already knowing that she wasn’t going to like the answer.

“Yes.”

“It’s likely that you would eventually be killed.”

She cringed.

“These men aren’t e
xactly known for being merciful, Larke, and we still aren’t sure what they want from you. But, I don’t want you to worry about that right now. I’m here. I
did
come and trust me, Larke, we
will
make it out of here. Alive. Can you trust that I’m a man of my word and that I’ll get you home safely?”

He
gently placed a hand on her shoulder and she closed her eyes, sucked in a deep breath, then let it out slowly.


What choice do I really have, anyway?” She resigned.

Squeezing her shoulder, he
resisted the urge to lean in and press a quick peck against her temple. Instead, he turned towards the area where he’d parked the truck, but stopped when he heard the sound of an engine roaring up the hill. Grabbing Larke’s hand, they hurried into the trees behind the shanty. A truck stopped at the top of the hill in front of the shanty and the skinny accomplice hopped out with a white, foam carton in his hand.

“Was he supposed t
o be bringing you something?” Desmond whispered.

“He said something about food
. That either he or the other guy would bring some. He called the other guy Gano. Gano referred to him as Tony.”

BOOK: In Love and Rescue: When love is the perfect rescue...
4.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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