(suitable for adults only) DRAFT
Eddie walked through the sliding doors rolling his travel bag behind him. He pulled open the rear car door and tossed his two bags onto the backseat. Before Cerise could get it for him, he pulled open the front passenger door and quickly got in next to her. She shifted in her seat and restarted the motor.
She tried to blink normally while he stared her up and down – trying to read her facial expression -whatever he could – was she angry with him? had she heard anything else from those people? had she called the government?
She wasn’t releasing any clues. She shifted gears and merged into traffic leaving the airport. Damn, he looked good. Oh, man. But she wasn’t going to tell him that. She would stop the car and let him kiss her if he wanted to. But he didn’t need to know that. And if he tried, she wouldn’t let him do it. That’s how she was going to handle him.
She could see his chest movements in her peripheral vision. He was nervous. He hesitated to say anything. She was going to wait for him say the next word. Until her phone call, they hadn’t spoken to each other in the four months since they had parted.
Once she got on the interstate, he suddenly torsed his body and reached into the back seat to grab something from his backpack. It took him an awkward several minutes. When he turned back around, he had a pen and pad in his hand. He scribbled something on it and stuck it out in front of him.
Cerise looked over and read the pad.
GO TO ANY HOTEL
She looked up at him and noticed his serious expression. She had seen that look before, similar to the one he had that fateful day on Highway 22 when he signaled to her the count-of-three; right before he lunged at one of their attackers.
She returned her eyes to the road, and sought to follow his instruction, her heart pounding in the process.
When she finally drove up to a Hilton hotel, he gestured to her to park in a certain spot near a side door. He scribbled again on the paper.
TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND ANY HAIR CLAMPS
She rolled her eyes at him and gestured her displeasure. He frowned at her and clenched his teeth. She obliged and they got out of the car. He grabbed his bag from the back seat then led her indoors, he gently shoved her in the direction of the ladies room. He wasn’t being the usual Eddie, so she resisted a bit.
“What are you doing?”
“Put these on.” he mouthed in such a run-on it sounded like one word. “And throw what you’ve got on in the trash in there.”
Cerise raised her eyebrows and dropped her jaw in say-what fashion.
“Do it.” He snapped and took off toward the registration desk.
Cerise closed herself in one of the bathroom stalls. Eddie had handed her what looked like one of his own dingy t-shirts and a pair of his seam- stripped gym shorts. She had on one of her favorite pair of blue jeans and a lacy pink sleeveless top. Like hell she was going to throw her clothes away. Obviously, he wasn’t noticing how nicely the jeans clung to her hips and her butt and how sexy the pink lace top went with it. Fine, he was distracted okay, but she wasn’t throwing her clothes away.
She stood still in a trance, contemplating what to do. She took her cellphone from her purse and scrolled down to Harrison’s contact number. He was the last person she wanted to call because of his rude, inconsiderate nature, but he was the closest assistant to the President. He would be very upset if he knew all this was going on, especially without his knowledge – to the point where he would have them arrested by U.S. Marshals. In no time he would have them surrounded and placed in the coldest brick wall cell he could find, with dirty water and no food. Harrison had that much power, and he usually enforced it, rudely. He had told them to contact him immediately if anything came up. Coming from him, that was an order, not a request.
But she was with Eddie, and Eddie did things his own way. She turned off her phone.
After she changed, she looked like a sloppy runner in over-sized clothes. It clashed with her brand new pink Victoria Secret bra and panty set – shit she had picked out for him.
A hard knock came on the main bathroom door. She hesitated to toss her clothes in the trash. She rolled them in a ball, tucked them under her arm and opened the door. Eddie stood in the hall noticing she still had the clothes. He pointed at the trash bin. She shook her head. Without warning, he snatched the clothes out from under her arm and swiftly went in to the men’s room across the hall.
“Eddie, give them back!” she pushed the men’s door ajar. A tall man came out and gave her a snarled look. Eddie came out behind him.
Once the door shut, he grabbed her by the arm. He took her cellphone and turned it completely off. Cerise stopped in her tracks.
“Eddie, please tell me what’s going on.”
“Let’s go up to the room.” He took her by the arm. Once they got into an elevator, he let out a big sigh.
Cerise whined. “Now you’ve got me more scared.”
“We should both be scared. But, I can’t be. I have to keep thinking,” he said looking down at the floor. The elevator opened to one of the top floors. He stuck his head out and looked down both ends of the hall. She let him pull her along and into a room.
He threw down his bag, rubbed both hands along his face stretching his cheeks, then put his hands on his head. His shirt rose up exposing his chiseled midsection. His jeans always had that looseness at the waistline that barely touched his sexy flat taut abs underneath. She remembered being pulled by him and being held close to that in the past. She wanted that again. All he had to do was reach out for her. She knew she would really need to hesitate and shake her head no. Then hopefully he would keep asking her, or just come over and take her. That would be nice, even though he wouldn’t deserve her, after all he had done.
Damn, why couldn’t he have acted right. To make her put up with his shit. He was good, but then he was bad. The bad kind of bad. But then the good kind of good. He existed at extremes is what it was. Oh, fuck him, the memories were coming back. He doesn’t deserve her. Not without working for it. If she had to pay, so would he. She swallowed her lust and hoped it hit the acid pit of her stomach. She instantly made herself re-focus.
“I took something, Cerise.”
“What . . . tell me.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a miniature memory disk.
“Where did you get that?”
“Out of that guy’s cellphone. The one who had me.”
“What?” Cerise squinted at him. “How . . when did you do that?”
She reached out to hold it. He pulled his hand away and stuffed it back in his pocket.
“When I got out to change the tire. I had his phone on me.”
Josie kept her stare. She had tried to put a lot of what had happened to them behind her, but it remained fresh in her memory. “I don’t remember you having an opportunity to do that.”
“You were in the car doing the look-out, I had the phone, it only took a second.”
Cerise paused and recalled the events at that time. Those men were catching up with them when Eddie was trying to change the tire and had started firing soon after. He had barely gotten the tire on. “But didn’t the police search you? I mean, they sure searched me, they made me take everything off, including my underwear.” Later after they had escaped, the policewoman had been rough with her, had shoved her in a room and watched her undress.
He looked like he was painfully recalling the events as well.
“Yeah, they did.”
“So, wouldn’t they have found that on you? Because they have the cellphone.”
“I had stuck it under the sole inside my shoe. I guess they didn’t check there.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I had forgotten all about it until now. Once you called me, I remembered. All this time, I had been walking around with it in my shoe. I’m surprised it wasn’t damaged.”
“Oh, Eddie. Why did you take it? I mean. . . ”
He directed his green eyes straight into hers. His emotion came through with just a hint of tearing up.
“Because it has what they did to us recorded on it.” He held his head down. She had to think about it, but then she remembered the attackers kicking him in the stomach and kicking his already bruised face. The main attacker had held his cellphone up to record Eddie laboring to breathe, then retching. Cerise remembered the phone being aimed at her when the other guy was punching her repeatedly in the face.
“Are you sure that is the thing they’re talking about?”
Eddie plopped down onto the bed.
“I’m pretty sure.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Because I took a look at what’s on it. There’s more than just us on it. There’s all kind of maps and instructions and stuff, all in their language. It looks important, like weaponry plans and stuff.”
Cerise gasped. Now it hit her, the reality of the call she had received.
“We should turn that over to the authorities.”
Eddie paused and looked up at her. His nostrils were flared.
“Wrong answer, Cerise.”
“What do you mean? These guys are terrorists. This could be important for our government to know. Harrison should be aware that they threatened -”
“Harrison?” Eddie snapped.
“Well Eddie, what do you want to do? You can’t just turn that over to these people.”
She shut up and thought for a few seconds. No one would ever know if they did turn it back over to them, even if something bad happened to the world. Her thoughts became jumpy. She didn’t know what to care more about. “Or . . . maybe we should just give it to them. . . and then disappear into hiding.”
“That ain’t the right answer, either. We wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves.”
Eddie had a solemn blank stare on his face.
“Do you think they wouldn’t find you and kill you anyway? You know too much now, girl. They’d kill me, too.”
“That’s why I think we should get Harrison involved. He would make sure the government protects us.”
Eddie scrunched his eyes closed and pinched the bridge of his nose, then he opened them and glared at her.
“You actually think Harrison cares enough about us to protect us? No, he would take this disk and dump us to fend for ourselves, in a heartbeat.”
“That’s not true. They have the witness protection program.”
Eddie chuckled. “Oh, so the same way they looked out for us when those terrorists had guns to the back of our heads with our noses and mouths in the dirt on Highway 22!”
Cerise reluctantly recalled their experience. She held her head down.
He continued. “We fought our our own way out of there. No thanks to them. We defended ourselves. We escaped by the bare threads of our lives, almost driving ourselves off the fucking cliff!” He stood up and got in her face. “Where were they when we were dodging bullets, huh?” He paused for her to answer. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“They were behind a round table sitting there with their hands folded embracing their delicate policy, not to give in. Save the country, but not two people in it!” He paused, then stepped back from her. He turned back to her. “And the way they treated us afterward, like we were criminals. I can guarantee they’ll do that to us again.”
“Eddie, you just shouldn’t have taken that.” Cerise whimpered. “Now we don’t have any other options.”
“No? Well, I’m damn sure not going to just turn it over. Not to either of them. I’m going to sit here and figure something out. I’ve been thinking about this since you called me. I’ll come up with something.”
“These guys mean business. We’re dead if they don’t get it.”
“My main goal is to protect you.” He looked into her eyes again with another familiar look. The look he had given her right after the attack and after the mistreatment by authorities, when they had become close, really close. When he didn’t want her to be separated from him. Pure ownership, like she was an extension of him.
She held her head up toward the ceiling, trying to conceal more tears.
“I won’t let them hurt you, Cerise.” He kept his eyes on her. “We triumphed once, we’ll do it again. We just have to think…”
Cerise clutched her tongue against the roof of her mouth. His words weren’t comforting. He wasn’t the one who had talked to the guy on the phone, and had to hear: ‘Give it back. One week. Or we are coming . . . for you, . . . and then you will hurt . . . until you die. And this time . . . you’re not going to slip out of our hands . . . or not in one piece.‘
She didn’t want to cry out loud. The escape was for nothing. Now the people knew them, and would terrorize them forever.
Eddie stood up and reached out his hands. He pulled her waist close to his.