Authors: Kristina Blake
THE TROUBLE WITH BODYGUARDS
Copyright © 2015
Published by: Rascal Hearts
All Rights Reserved
. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
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Table of Contents
The rain pattered gently on the glass, the world through her window becoming an unrecognizable landscape, a dark, underwater place that she felt as if she had no place in. Alex rolled over in bed, turning her back to the window, wincing as stinging pain shot up her arm, the bruises on her wrists darkening, blossoming, reminding her that only a few hours before she had woken to find herself bound, strapped to a dingy bed in a decrepit building downtown.
Her head swam, aching from the ordeal of being tossed into the trunk, knocked unconscious when the car came to an abrupt stop, slamming her into the unyielding steel wall. Gingerly she touched the side of her head, sucking air between clenched teeth as screaming pain resonated inside her skull. She felt overwhelmed, betrayed and confused. Unable to process all that had taken place in the last twenty-four hours, she chose to stay in her bed, safe and warm, the chaos that was her life locked away on the other side of flimsy, hollow, wooden door.
“You’re going to be okay…”
That’s what he had been saying to her, stroking her hair as she fought to drag herself back to consciousness, the pain in her head agonizing, blurring her vision and making her head swim with dizziness as she willed her eyes to open. She had found herself in a strange bed, the room small and dark, illuminated only by the antique lamp on the bedside table. A huge stain crawled across the ceiling, water damage eating through the drywall, threatening to fall at any moment, crushing them both where they sat. She stared at him, her eyes wide with fear and confusion as she tried to process the situation. She was bound, her ankles and wrists tied to the rusted iron bed frame with dirty white cloth ripped into strips. Her fingertips throbbed, the pressure of her bindings restricting the blood flow to them, and she tugged, frantically trying to free herself, to no avail.
“Here, let me help you,” Rick said, reaching behind his back, pulling a black utility knife from some hidden pocket. He slid the cool blade between her skin and the strips wrapped tightly around her wrists, slicing through them and freeing her from her bondage. As he reached across her, releasing the other hand, she sat up quickly, her ears ringing, her heart pounding in her chest, and struck him, slapping him roughly across the face.
She screamed, fighting him, clawing at his face as he pushed against her chest, forcing her back down onto the filthy mattress. “Let me go,” she howled, her voice cracking in fear as she thrashed, using everything in her power to fight him off. “Help,” she called, “somebody help!”
“That's what I'm trying to do,” he yelled, laying on top of her now, using the weight of his body to stop her from clawing at him. He held her arms down at her sides, pressing her already bruised wrists into the ragged surface of the uncovered mattress. “If you would just calm the fuck down,” he said, breathing roughly, the exertion of trying to calm her affecting him. His cheeks had reddened from the effort, and his jaw was clenched as he held her.
Alex stilled, her eyes wide, her breath blowing from her nose, fury raging through her. She needed to escape, to get away from here, away from him. Frantic, she threw back her head, lashing out at him with the only part of her body that was not immobile with his weight heavy upon her. Her forehead connected with his nose, crunching the delicate cartilage there, and blood poured from it, raining warm and viscous on her cheek.
He howled, sitting up, his hands going instinctually to his face. “You bitch,” he cried, inspecting his hands, now slick with his own blood. “I fucking come to rescue you, and you fucking break my fucking nose!”
“You what?” Alex said, shock cooling the fires of rage that were boiling in her blood. She couldn't have heard him right. Come to rescue her? She panted, the chaotic fear in her mind calming, the reality of the situation coming clearer as the pounding of her heart quieted in her chest. She had been taken, yes. Having stayed late at the office, working on the photos from the session at the pier earlier that day, she had gone to the parking garage by herself and been gagged and shoved into the trunk of her own car. Rick had not been there with her; she had abandoned him at the shoot, choosing to go off on her own, freedom from fear too great, blinding her to the fact that leaving him also stole her protection from those that she was afraid of in the first place. She had hit her head, getting knocked out as her kidnapper slammed on the breaks, forcing her suddenly into the steel wall of the trunk.
She didn't know how she had gotten to this place. She didn't know how or why she was bound to this bed. All she knew was that when she opened her eyes, Rick's was the first face that she had seen.
“You broke my fucking nose,” Rick said again, pulling the t-shirt over his head, holding it to his bleeding nose.
“I did?” Alex asked, sitting up. Her ankles were still bound to the frame of the bed, and she tugged at the bindings, wanting to be fully free of her restraints.
Rick tossed the knife on the bed next to her, and she cut herself free from the bindings, folding her legs beneath her and wrapping her arms tightly around herself, suddenly cold, shivering violently. She looked up at him, her eyes pooling with tears, filled with confusion and fear. “Where are we?”
He sat down heavily on the mattress next to her, his voice muffled by the t-shirt wadded up over his nose, now stained a dark red where the blood was soaking through the fabric. “In an abandoned building,” he said. “By the railway station downtown.”
“Why are we here?” she asked. Had he taken her, brought her here to this horrible place? The more she thought about it, the more it made sense. If Rick were her stalker all along, then he would want to be close to her and the many opportune times that he had shown up in her life would be more than coincidence.
“I don't exactly know,” he said, pulling the shirt away from his face, the bleeding having slowed, and sniffed. “He brought you here, but I don't know what he planned to do with you once he got you all to himself.”
“Who?” Alex asked. “Who brought me here?”
“My brother,” said Rick, not looking at her, shame evident in his expression, his body language, as he hung his head. “My brother brought you here.”
The police had arrived, storming into the room, their shouted commands echoing off every surface in the small space. Paramedics swarmed Alex, scooping her up off the filthy mattress, leading her out of the building, into the cool night air and into a waiting ambulance. Sirens wailed as they pulled away from the curb, carrying her to a warm, sterile bed at the hospital. She caught a glimpse of Rick, standing with the detectives they had met at the station, the ones who were hunting the man that had taken her, that had tried to keep her. He had come to rescue her. From the very beginning, she thought he had been there to protect her, from his own brother.
Not being able to make any sense of the situation, Alex let herself be lulled by the gentle rocking of the ambulance, the coddling attentions of the paramedics beside her. They wiped her face clean with a damp, clean-smelling cloth, ridding her skin of the splattered blood from Rick's bursting nose. She watched as they slid the soiled cloth into a receptacle on the wall, her stomach sick that she had wounded him while he was doing everything in his power to protect her.
Rushing her into the exam room at the hospital, the nurses had removed her clothes, slipping a sterile gown over her head after checking her body for injuries from her ordeal. They cleaned her, rinsing away the motor oil stains, the dirt and detritus from being trapped in the trunk of the car. Her hair was washed, the nurse gingerly avoiding the wound on that she had suffered from hitting her head. Once she was clean and dry, her injuries deemed not life-threatening, they had given her medication for pain and left her to rest, the doctors wanting to keep her overnight for observation.
Once the chaos of the night was over, and she was alone in the dim hospital room, Alex wept. Her strength, her power left her body in great waves as she sobbed, her tears dampening the thin hospital pillow beneath her hair, her breath hitching in her chest. She felt hopeless, weak and afraid. She could not handle this, this fear, this doubt in herself. She needed help. She wished that Rick would come to her, put his arms around her and comfort her, like he had done before. But she doubted that would happen now, or ever again. Now that the truth was out, that he knew who her stalker was, his own brother. She doubted that she would ever see him again.
She slept, exhaustion washing over her like a rip tide, pulling her into the warm darkness of dreams, and she awoke in the night to find her father seated in a chair by her bedside, his hand cradling her own.
“Hi,” she said, smiling weakly. She could see the worried expression on his face, even in the dim light of the room; the wrinkles in his aged skin seemed deeper, his eyes tired.
“Hi,” he said, attempting to return her weak smile, and gently squeezed her fingers.
“Are you all right?” Alex asked, attempting to sit up in her bed, the lump on her head screaming in pain as she did so.
Her father chuckled softly, “I should be the one asking you that, don't you think?”
“Well,” she said, resigning to continue to lay on her back, the pain too great when she tried to move. “I guess you're right. But I know how I'm doing.”
“How are you doing?” her father asked, rubbing the back of her knuckles with his thumb.
“Head hurts,” she said, putting her hand to the lump, gently measuring the size of it, judging the tenderness with the tips of her fingers. She winced in pain, sucking in a sharp breath, deciding that touching that particular part of her body would not be something that she wanted to do again in the near future.
“You might have a concussion,” her father said. “The doctors told me that you need to have supervision for the next few days, to make sure that you're all right. I'm going to stay here until they release you, and then I'm going to take you home. You can rest in your old room until you are well.”
“Dad,” she said, disapproval in her tone. “I can go back to my apartment. Rick can keep an eye on me. I don't want you to have to take care of me like I am a sick child.”
“I will have no arguments from you, young lady,” he chided, scolding her as only a father could. “Mr. Andrews is going to be,” he hesitated looking to the window, the stars twinkling in the clear night sky, “very busy.”
She wondered if he knew, if he had had a chance to discuss the situation with Rick, if Rick had revealed the fact that he was a blood relative of the man that had kidnapped his daughter and thrown her into the trunk of a car. Somehow she doubted it, looking into the concerned eyes of her father, as he gazed out the window of her hospital room.
“Okay, Dad,” she said, “I guess I could come spend the night at your house, if it will make you feel better.”
“Good,” he said, “and it will. Now, get some rest. I'll be here, by your side.”