Sean’s kitchen was large, taking up most of the south side of the house. As was expected because it belonged to Sean, it housed state of the art appliances and gadgets, many of which I couldn’t even identify. Sadly Sean favored himself a master chef and had spared no expense when it came to his passion. Unfortunately I had tasted his cooking on more than one occasion and could fully attest that a master chef he was not.
Unlike his living room, the kitchen was done with darker colors: deep Mahoney cabinets, black marble countertops and stainless steel appliances. The walls were a deep muted beige which gave the room somewhat of a homey feeling. The kitchen also included a small dining area that seated six, a two way fireplace in the interior wall that bisected the kitchen and dining room, and a large sliding glass patio door that lead onto the deck off the back of the house.
The deck itself was wide and designed to perfection. It took up a lot of the backyard, but it also held a nice escape route into the wide open backyard and pool. The same pool that I was hoping to reach because the pool house had a second exit that lead out to the side of the property where Sean had a small garage for his expensive but highly impractical cars.
At this point, impractical was going to have to work considering my ride had just gotten blown sky high.
“We need a game plan,” I said, approaching the sliding door carefully in case any stray bullets decided to suddenly fly my way.
Thankfully we hadn’t turned the light on so I had a slight advantage against any would-be shooters standing on the deck. Undoubtedly I looked like some idiot out of a cheesy police procedural with my back pressed against the wall as I tried to peer around the corner carefully, but considering the fact cars were blowing up and I had been privy to more than my fair share of random bullets in the last thirty-some-odd hours, I was going with cheesy.
“A game plan,” Sean repeated, stomping up beside me. “Because suddenly you’re smart enough to outwit a group of armed men who just decided that blowing up the front of my house was a natural way to pass the time.”
Great. The new Sean was back and as annoying and pretentious as ever.
“Okay,” I hissed as I turned on him with a jab to the chest. “What’s your plan then? Since you’re so fucking smart, how about you figure out how the hell we get out of here with all of our body parts in tact!”
Talk about a fish out of water.
Sean’s eyes grew the size of saucers at the gauntlet I threw down.
“That’s what I thought,” I snapped back, shoving him back against the wall with a satisfying thud.
I looked over to Sam, who was quietly kneeled down behind the table for cover. She hadn’t really said or done much since the explosion. Clearly she was paralyzed with fear, which I found uncharacteristically odd considering just a few hours ago she had attacked two armed men in the dark with an umbrella. In any situation, she was always the rock; the one who kept the situation under control. The fact that she was suddenly suffering from stage fright and I was the one who had to take charge did not bode well for our survival.
I had never really envisioned myself as a leader.
Okay, that was probably being mildly polite.
I never wanted to be a leader.
I wasn’t born with desire to be more then I knew I could be. I grew up with snobbishly rich parents who gave me everything I ever wanted, no matter how ridiculous. The only reason I had decided to walk away from the money was because I didn’t like the spoiled bitch I was becoming. I wanted to be grounded, normal, and self-sufficient. Notice however that I did not say I wanted to be a leader.
Letting someone else lead the charge was fine with me. While I wanted to stand on my own two feet, I wasn’t above doing it in the easiest way possible. My ultimate goal in life is to enjoy my life, which for me means doing random temp work where I don’t have to be the boss or the one responsible for the livelihood of the company. I do the filing, collect a paycheck, bounce after a couple of weeks and move on the next gig while wasting my time sipping fruity drinks with my friends and the occasional shopping spree.
Suddenly finding myself the leader was a huge suck-fest.
In the matter of just a few moments, I had gone from having Sean’s protection and security to suddenly trying to figure out how to sneak three people out of a house that was probably being surrounded by an unknown number of hired killers hell bent on killing me and anyone I associated with for some unknown prize. If I didn’t find us a way out, Sean and Sam would die along with me and I’d have that to live with that for the rest of my supernatural life.
No pressure or anything.
I looked around the corner again, making sure the hit squad hadn’t suddenly appeared on the other side of the door.
Luckily for me and my weak bladder, the coast was still clear.
“Where is that security team?” I asked, turning back to Sean who still remained mute against the wall.
He shook his head quickly, but didn’t speak.
Great. Now I had two people who had gone mute and paralyzed.
I racked my brain trying to think of something (anything!) I could do to get us out of here but considering I had never been in this type of situation before (and I was adamantly praying that if I survived this I would never find myself in this situation again), I didn’t have a lot of experience to draw upon.
So what did I do in that exact moment? That exact moment when our lives were hanging in the balance?
I thought back to every movie and TV show I had ever seen and tried to remember exactly what they did in the movies. Three basic rules immediately sprang into my mind.
#1: Avoid going upstairs. Guaranteed death trap.
#2: Hide somewhere where you have the upper hand, but don’t hide with the hysterical chick because she’s likely to draw unwanted attention that will result in the immediate and grisly death of any idiot caught with her.
# 3:Don’t listen to the big boobed bimbo because she always gets killed first.
Great. I’m pretty sure #3 was written for girls like me.
I am so screwed.
Oh oh. I forgot one!
#4: Home court advantage. People on their home turf have the greater advantage.
Okay, so this wasn’t exactly home, but I had been here a hundred times and knew the space well enough to avoid tripping over anything. (Okay, tripping over most everything.)
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sudden echo of gunshots.
“Down,” I shouted, pushing Sean to the ground and following suit.
Sam scrambled around the table, and crouched down beside me, looking around wildly.
I was looking around frantically, trying to determine if there were any available exit routes in case all hell broke loose. Because, let’s face it, in the past few hours, nothing but hell had broken loose.
“We have to get out of here,” Sam said quietly behind me.
“Good idea,” I replied, ducking at the sound of another gun shot.
I kept my back pressed against the wall and glanced around the corner every few second to see if I could see anyone. Unfortunately in situations like this, the dark is only your friend when you’re trying to hide.
I chewed my bottom lip nervously as I glanced back and forth.
For the first time since forever, my instincts were on the highest of alerts. Despite the fact it was dark and scary, I felt like I could see clearly. I could hear things easily. But most oddly, while I was pretty sure my bladder was going to fail me at any second and despite the fact that I was shaking like a leaf, I felt eerily calm.
I wonder if that was the first sign of dementia.
Sean started mumbling under his breath about not wanting to die and needing to get out of here.
Well, hello genius. I’m pretty sure both Sam and I were also sharing those exact same feelings at this moment.
“We need keys,” I said, turning back toward Sean.
He looked up at me and stared at me as if I had grown a second head.
“Keys for what?” he asked. “Your fucking car just blew up!”
“Not keys for that car, you moron,” I said. “Keys to any one of your stupid cars currently secured in your temperature controlled garage.”
“My car?! You want to take my car?” he asked incredulously.
“Unless you have a flying carpet I can borrow, yes, I want to take your car!”
“No,” I snapped. “We can’t whatever-the-hell-you-were-about-to-suggest. Right now we may have only one chance of getting out of here alive, and if that means borrowing one of your overpriced toys, well then you can just suck it up and deal with it.”
He frowned at me with disapproval.
“Fine,” I said. “I’m pretty positive that one of Sam’s many talents it the ability to hot wire a car. If you would prefer not to give me your keys, we’ll leave your useless ass behind and take the damn car anyways. Or you could pull your head out of your ass, realize that we are talking life or death right now, take comfort in the fact your stupid insurance will cover any potential damage, and come with us so that we can get hell out of here.”
He blinked at me in surprise for a brief second then quickly looked over to Sam, giving her a disapproving head to toe inspection.
I’m not sure if it was telling Sean off that suddenly seemed to snap her out of her temporary paralysis, but the fact she was currently giving him full on attitude and a smirk told me that the old Sam was back.
“Fine,” he snapped. “But you had better not get a scratch on it.”
“No problem,” I said with an innocent smile. “It’s bullet holes I won’t guarantee.”
Sean narrowed his eyes at me, but kept his mouth shut thankfully.
“Keys?” I asked, holding out my hand.
“There’s a lock box in the garage with a set.”
Finally, a bit of good luck was on my side.
“Okay,” I said, craning my neck around the corner again.
The backyard remained quiet. I didn’t see any movements, but as a failsafe, any motion would have automatically trigged the motion sensor lights.
“What are we waiting for?” Sam asked nervously.
It had grown relatively quiet over the course of the past few minutes, but every now and again a few familiar popping sounds could be heard, so we shrank back against the wall and hid in the shadows.
I sighed heavily.
I knew I had to do something stupid. Something I really, really, really didn’t want to do, but Sam and Sean were now fighting for their lives over something they had no involvement in. It was on me to figure out a way out of this.
“Okay,” I said after a few minutes of heavy contemplation. “I’m going to go out first. Make sure that the coast is clear and that we can get to the garage without being seen. I want you guys to give me a ninety second head start then follow me. If you hear me scream, hide and call the police.”
“No,” Sam said, grabbing my arm. “We stick together.”
I squeezed her hand.
“Normally I would take you up on that offer, but I got us into this and I need to make sure I can get us out of here. Besides, for all the shit Sean talks, I’m pretty sure he’s going to curl up in the fetal position the instant I’m out of sight. I need someone to make sure he gets to the garage.”
That earned me a glare from Sean.
“How do I turn off the motion lights?” I asked, leaning around Sam to look directly at Sean.
He pointed above my head.
Light switch. Right.
“What about the pool house?” I asked him. “Where’s the key so I can get in?”
He shook his head. “I don’t lock it.”
I nodded. “Okay, good. I’ll need the code for the lock box in the garage.”
He hesitated a few seconds before rattling off the five digit code that coincidently happened to be his birthday.
Sometimes, a genius he was not.
I looked at Sam again and gave her a conspiratorial wink, pretending I was a lot braver then I felt, then took a deep breath, praying that I survived what was hopefully going to be an ass-saving endeavor.
I reached up and turned off the motion sensors then very slowly opened the sliding door as quietly as I could while listening carefully for any unusual noises. Nothing out of the ordinary jumped out at me (or any hit men hiding in the shadows by the door) so I kept low to the ground, sweeping in front of me and behind me as I quickly crawled out the door, making my way down the deck toward the pool.
Once I cleared the deck my only obstacles were the pool and pool house.
I stayed crouched down as I reached the pool. Since I tend to be overly klutzy in the worst situations, I took extra precaution as I made my way around the pool in order to avoid tripping over my own two feet and falling in headfirst. One thing I was pretty damn certain of, me screeching as I landed head first with a loud splash in the pool in the middle of the night was guaranteed to draw attention.
After a nervous few seconds skirting around the pool, I finally reached the pool house and breathed a sigh of relief.
I stepped inside, quietly closing the door behind me and let my eyes adjust to the darkness of the room. The windows were all covered with curtains so what little natural light I had outside was lost to me.
I tried to remember the layout of the pool house, but I had been in here on so few occasions that I couldn’t remember where anything was. The pool house had two doors; one entrance that was pool side and the other that was off the second driveway where the Sean housed all his expensive and collectible cars.
With my arms extended in front of me, I stepped carefully around the room, occasionally bumping into a random piece of furniture or tripping over a carelessly discarded pool float. Fortunate for me, the pool house was relatively small so I was able to reach the other side in record time.
Pushing back the curtain slightly, I peeked out toward the driveway and watched carefully.
I didn’t see or hear anything for the few seconds I watched silently.
I knew my window of time was quickly closing and that Sean and Sam would be at my heels any second. I needed to have a car started and ready to go before they got here. I didn’t want to take any chances with a hit squad currently sitting outside Sean’s front door. We needed as much lead time as possible so we had to make every second count.
With a shaking hand, I reached out and grabbed the door handle.
It was now or never.
Unfortunately for me, the plan seemed to be never because at that exact moment, a hand clasped over my mouth and an arm snaked around my arms and torso, rendering me mute and unmovable.
I fought back, squirming, kicking, biting, head butting, everything I could think of. Unfortunately in the past two days I had been in this situation a little too often. Needless to say I was getting desperate.
My assailant must have sensed my desperation.
One minute we were silently tussling in the dark, the next there was an explosion of light and everything went black.