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Chapter 56

“No…No…“Mary screamed as she flung herself through the open window, falling on Luke and knocking him down on top of Mikayla. Mikayla struggled to out from under them, hands lashed together.

“What the fuck?” a naked Luke Haller sputtered as he sprang up from the floor.

“Mary,” Joseph yelled, running from the warehouse doorway. “What are you doing?”

Mary looked up, shaken and confused, as Germaine dropped the camera and sprinted to the open door. As he reached it, five deputies from the SWAT team burst through, blocking his way out. They were dressed in all black, their chests puffed out in bullet-proof vests. Mary stood stock still, gaping at them. Her head was spinning.

“Showtime,” the deputies yelled in unison. One grabbed at Germaine, who ran towards Luke, and the others scanned the room with their assault weapons, then pointed them at Germaine and Luke.

“Nobody move,” one of them shouted. “Drop all weapons. Hands over your heads.”

Germaine raised both hands.

Luke bent to grab his pants but one of the deputies kicked them away from him.

Joseph helped Mary up. He hugged her tightly.

“I don’t know if you were incredibly brave or stupid,” he said. “You risked your life jumping through that window.”

Mary was glad Joseph had his arm around her waist. Her knees felt weak with fright, confusion and relief. Joseph put his other arm around a sobbing Mikayla. He was comforting her when Mary thought she saw Raphael, gun in hand, assisting the deputies.
Mary stepped away from Joseph, trying to get a better view. She held her head in her hands. So much had happened in just the last minutes. Was that really Raphael behind the officers?

Before Mary could sort it out, Kristin ran through the open door of the warehouse, running smack into Joseph and Mikayla. Kristin saw Mikayla sobbing and the ropes dangling from her wrists.

Germaine seized the opportunity and ducked under Joseph’s arms. He grabbed the end of a rope still tied to Mikayla’s wrist. He pulled a switchblade from his pocket, flicking it open next to Mikayla’s throat. He crouched and pulled her body in front of him, taking slow steps backwards towards the open window. Mikayla screamed as the knife blade cut into her neck. Raphael shouted, his gun still pointed at Germaine. “Let her go, Germaine. You’ll never get out of here alive.”

Joseph took small crouching steps towards Germaine.

“Joseph,” Kristin screamed. “What are you doing?” Germaine pressed the knife harder against Mikayla’s throat, drawing a trickle of blood.

“One slice and she’s dead,” he said. “If I’m going to prison, I’ve got nothing to lose.” He took three more steps backwards. He was near the open window.

“Shit,” Raphael said. “I haven’t got a clear shot. He’ll slice her to hell before a bullet hits him.”

Joseph continued to crouch-walk towards Germaine, never taking his eyes off him.

“Shoot her, Raphael,” he said. “Better that she take a bullet that might go through her skinny body and pierce his heart, than let this asshole get away.”

Raphael raised his gun and took aim.

“No,” Kristin and Mary yelled in unison.

Germaine grabbed Mikayla’s dreadlocks, dropping the knife to her chest.

Joseph lunged, toppling the two of them over as he fought with Germaine for the knife. Raphael grabbed Mikayla by the rope to her wrist. He flung her towards Mary and knelt with the gun at Germaine’s head.

“It’s all over, scumbag.”

Mikayla sobbed in the arms of Kristin and Mary as the deputies escorted Luke and Germaine to the van. Mikayla stopped crying as one of the female deputy sheriffs took her aside and gently swabbed her neck with water and untied the ropes around her wrists. Mikayla couldn’t stop trembling as the deputy put a blanket around her. The deputy looked to Joseph and said, “I’m afraid she may be going into shock. I’ll get her to the hospital.”

Mary gave Mikayla a hug. “I’ll check in with you tomorrow. Try to get a good night’s sleep. You’re safe now. This nightmare is over.”

Mikayla buried her face in Mary’s chest. “Thank you for trying to save me,” she whispered. She shivered violently. As the deputy came to take her away, she let go of Mary and stumbled backwards into Kristin’s open arms.

Kristin turned Mikayla around to face her, and found her voice. “You are a very brave young lady, Mikayla. A little foolish, perhaps, but very determined. Your mother would be proud of you.”

“Thank you, Judge.”

Kristin bent down and wiped away the streaks of tears from the shivering girl’s face. “Now let this nice deputy take you somewhere warm, get you some comfort food and a change of clothes.”

As she watched the deputy lead Mikayla away, Raphael drew Mary close.

“I’ll be right back,” he said. “After I finish the paperwork.”

Joseph came up behind Kristin and wrapped his arms around her.She turned to face him, her eyes seeking his. “Mary could have been killed. Mikayla was almost raped and murdered. Is it really over, Joseph?

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