Authors: Capri Montgomery
The lights were still on which made assessing the smaller room easier. Steal, concrete, and outer wall installation to muffle the sound greeted his eyes and the woman in question, the one they were all looking for was chained and bloody.
“Damn,” he growled as he eased toward her. Her head came up and he could see the fear in her eyes turn to recognition, and then to relief. Tears flooded out of those pearls of gray as he got closer to her. He checked out the rope and noticed the blood from her wrists. “Steal wire,” he said to Satoshi before he pulled a knife out of his utility belt and cut the bindings. She nearly dropped to her knees without the bindings holding her up. He swiftly anchored his weapon on safety and lifted her into his arms. Her face nestled into his neck. Her worn body curled into his chest. This had been hell and he could tell it from the bruises on her body and face to the look of desperation and defeat in her eyes. The belt on the floor made him angrier than he was before. If the bastard were still alive he would go up and empty his gun in the brute himself.
“We can’t take her out there yet,” Javier stopped his path. “Somebody tipped off the media and there is already a van with live feed, not to mention a younger crowd with their cell phones ready to get coverage. Let me get a blanket from the on standby EMT’s and drape it over her before you go out.”
Takahiro nodded and listened as Javier put the call out over the radio. He waited as a deputy walked in the blanket.
“Oh hell,” the young man said. The anger in those onyx eyes told Takahiro he, too, was just as broken over the sight of her as his men were. Out of all the rescues they had done this one seemed to hurt the most. It wasn’t that they hadn’t seen seriously mucked up situations before, but this…she looked so innocent, so small, so in need of help and so badly damaged that they all hurt for her.
“Did you at least get them?” The black as night deputy asked.
“Just one. The other one isn’t here,” Takahiro told him.
“I would kill the bastard myself for this,” the deputy snarled. “The media is building like they were waiting just down the street. Sadly, they probably were. I think somebody got a tip off from a scanner and maybe one of the neighbors.”
“Human shield,” Takahiro said to his men because they all knew what it meant. They would flank him and block out some of the view. Being a solid five ten himself meant he was tall enough for the media to get a view, but the fact that a few of the men were six footers and just under, a couple just over and the rest smaller than him or just at his height meant they could pack it up a little and block out the view.
“They’re going to flank me so I can get her out with some dignity.”
“We got ya’,” he said. “Officers,” he said into his communication device. “Block the view please?”
Takahiro was surprised when the deputy gave him the clear and he walked out, seeing every officer that wasn’t holding the crowd back either sheltering the entry to the ambulance or blocking the view from the front. When he walked out they all started to walk with him, keeping him and his team sheltered like a brick wall blocked out the storm. The media could miss the ravenous blood fest tonight because they weren’t getting this lady at her worst and plastering her hell for everybody in the world to see, and for her to have to see in every paper, on every news station and on every online venue imaginable. No, she would not have hell haunt her…although he was sure it would haunt her mentally. There was no possible way anybody could forget a beating like that.
He got her to and in the ambulance without getting her face seen. He had the clear to ride with them seeing as though it was his body blocking the door view when it closed and the fact that the other guy was still out there. They had a full guarded tag, SWAT included and another human shield to get her into the emergency room without media personnel getting a shot of her brutalized body.
Takahiro had taken that ride down to the newly built hospital, the high class, very sophisticated, best of the best in the area hospital, and watched her eyes peer up at his masked face. He saw thanks in those eyes, but he still saw the fear. He had put his hand over hers and she had clutched his with her other hand as tears started to stream down her cheeks. She couldn’t see his face but he had to keep it hidden getting her out of the ambulance or the media would definitely run with his face and he and the team didn’t need that. Thankfully the mask wasn’t making her remember the man who clocked her in the back of the head with his gun.
When they got her in the hospital he was set to let her go. He still had his AR-15 with him and he had paperwork he had to get through, but she hadn’t turned his hand a loose. She had looked up at him with those sweet pleading eyes. “Please don’t leave me?” Those words, that voice, those eyes had made him stay. He had removed his helmet and balaclava while the doctors examined her to try to give her some sense of ease with the man standing in front of her. She stared at him as if reminding herself that she was in safe quarters and that he wouldn’t allow harm to come to her. Fortunately, when the doctors gave her a sedative nearly an hour later she had fallen asleep. It had taken a while to kick in and the doctor had told him that was because no matter how exhausted she was the adrenaline from fear hadn’t settled and her mind hadn’t relaxed enough to allow her to let go. “It will take a while,” he had said. “But if you stay a little closer to her it might help her calm enough for the sedative to work.” He had shrugged and then added that it might not because most people were out cold in under two minutes with this drug. He had gone and stood by her side, holding her hand softly until she drifted off to sleep. He silently and cautiously untangled her sleeping fingers and removed his hand from hers. Once he was free he was able to get out to the waiting area to make a call. He didn’t need to call in because his team, his boss, and the Governor were all there.
He was sure the media was still outside. He was sure his men would be wearing their full gear again before they left the hospital, but for now they had stood down with worried looks in their eyes. He wasn’t imagining it; this one had rocked them all to the core. The look of her body was a clear indicator of the hell she had gone through. If they hadn’t found her he was sure that thing that called himself a man would have beat her more, maybe even beat her to death. What the hell had that been about? They didn’t even know who had taken her which hadn’t allotted any answers as to why and he needed to know why. He needed to know how anybody could just wait in hiding like an animal hunting its prey and grab her, beat her constantly for hours.
He had smelled the urine on her and it didn’t surprise him because he doubted they would untie her to let her go to the bathroom. He also smelled vomit on her and saw the remnants of it on her bra and skin which told him the man had punched her in the stomach and probably more than once. The stress of the situation combined with the violence of the attack had more than likely caused that reaction to occur. He thought of the look in her eyes when she saw him. He thought of how fear turned to relief and as good as it felt to know he saved a life he thought of that look and it made him feel a thousand times worse that they couldn’t have found her last night and saved her from the abuse.
“Permission to stay tonight, Captain?” He hoped he got a green light on this because he knew she would need to see his face when she woke up. He knew she would need that stability. Or maybe he needed that for himself.
“The doctor’s told us she’s clinging to you. I understand that. You can take care of the work here in the room with her. Check your weapon with me now. And the Governor shouldn’t have a problem with it,” he looked at him.
“Nope. This is good for business,” he said so haughtily and it made Takahiro’s blood start to boil. He bit his tongue not to tell the man off about his political business and his lack of a heart. “This will look good for you too, Captain.”
“I think the concern should be on that woman in there and the fact that the other guy is still out there.”
“Oh it is, but soon will be the time to vote. People come and they go and sometimes that could mean you would go.”
Was that a threat? It sure was. Takahiro refrained from shaking his head.
“She’s going to need somebody to watch over her until we get the other guy,” Captain Baker said through gritted teeth.
“Put him on it. That would go over swimmingly in the press. Make sure you tell them I suggested the detail.” He walked away leaving all of them standing there in near rage.
“I’ll see what I can do to get you out of it. You’re one of our best and I’ll need you.”
“Sir, she needs somebody and right now I seem to be the only one she’ll even utter a word to, so I don’t mind.” He wanted to do this. Something about her made him want to protect her.
“Okay. You’ll have our backup if you need us.”
“Stay in the loop if you can and let me know what’s in works…other than the media, political power hungry crap.”
Baker laughed. “Yeah, but that media, political power happy crap is what got her out of there. We all know that.”
“Yeah. I need to get back in there. I would hate for her to wake up and think she’s been abandoned.”
“She’s going to be in hell for a long time, Hiro; don’t let her get too dependent on you.”
“She already is,” he said. “And I don’t care about it. What he did to her…no human should have to go through that—but especially no woman.”
Baker nodded. “Her bosses are paying for a room change to a private room with a shower and a couch so you’ll be comfortable at least. You won’t have to smell the hospital smells up there.” He looked upward.
“That’s pricy. They must really love her.” Takahiro nearly whistled those words. A private room in this place, with a shower and a couch was like the highest priced upscale hotel times ten in cost.
“Oh yeah. Love is definitely what I would call it. I think the Israeli guy is the one who put some of the pressure on the political side to get things done. Apparently that magazine she works for is a high roller you don’t want against you. It was that guy who mentioned to me that he wanted a cop watching over her until they got the guy. I don’t know why he told me. I’m not the decision maker, but something in his eyes could put fear in an honest man.”
“Good people to have on her side then,” he nodded. It was good that she had them and now she had him. He would watch over her, protect her, help her heal the best he could. He knew the work would be on her for healing, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t need a friend to hold on to. He had read her file—parents dying in a plane crash that she survived, no real family left anywhere, not a huge base of friends because her life was work, fashion, home. Yeah, she was going to need somebody. Something about what he felt on first sight of her picture had amplified to something greater when he saw her face, bruised, bloodied, and then her body—the marks from the belt told him the hell she had endured since going missing and it made his heart bust wide open for her pain. He wanted to absorb it, consume it so she wouldn’t have to feel it. He knew he couldn’t do that, but he could help her survive the aftermath of the storm that was still to come. There wouldn’t be a night that went by when she closed her eyes to sleep that the horrid memory of her attack didn’t haunt her. He would be there to remind her she’s safe now—mostly safe since the other guy was still out there somewhere. Now that everything was all over the news that was going to make it harder for the detectives and the federal agents still working the case to find him.
“Oh,” Baker said as he signed off on the paperwork for taking the AR-15. “Her bosses say her job won’t go anywhere and to take as much time as she needs—with pay. In fact one said by as much time they mean no less than two months out of the office. They might let her work from home after a month or so if she’s ready.”
“I doubt she will be, but I’ll let her know.”
“It might do her some good to work.”
“Use work to avoid dealing with confronting the demons? No, that wouldn’t do her any good in the long term.” He sighed heavily. “I’m going to get back in there before they move her. I’ll strip out of my gear if you can get somebody to bring me a bag out of my locker. I have an extra change of clothes, my deodorant and some other needs.”
“Will do. Oh, I’m going to have somebody pack a bag for her too from her home.”
“Copy,” he said on a head nod. He started to head back to the room she would soon be pushed out of for the private room.
“Hiro,” Baker paused until he turned back around. “Make sure you keep that Sig fully loaded.”
“Yep, that and my Kimber won’t be leaving my side.” He rolled his shoulders trying to release the tension. He was going to make sure he got to check out his Remington 700 too just in case he needed to take out a longer shot. He didn’t own it but it was his sniper weapon so nobody else would get to use it anyway. It couldn’t hurt to have everything he needed. As if his captain knew his thoughts he smiled, nodded and told him he would have everything to him by daybreak. Takahiro knew it would take some time with the paperwork, but he also knew that since this seemed to be some political round of “prove myself better than the other guy” that he would actually probably be able to get it sooner.
Takahiro looked at her resting. Her lip was split in two places. The bruises on her face were dark and showed how much the man either loved punching her or slapping her. Her body was covered in fabric from the stiff white sheets right now but he hadn’t missed the severe damage that belt had done to her body—her back, her stomach, her breast bone. God, he slid his hand over his short, black, moderately spiked hair, she was lucky nothing was broken.