Madness and Mayhem
Only one more to go and that will be it for BKG book 2. I'm excited. Hopefully, I will post the last one at some point tomorrow and try to have book three up and ready for you, my faithful few, in the next couple of days. Thanks for sticking with me while I explore my writing ability. Have a happy Christmas everyone and if you don't celebrate the holidays, then, I just hope that you have an awesome day!!!
Because of the bomb threat, the elevators at the AeroTech building were immediately condemned. The doors stand wide apart like open sepulchres tormenting Alaine as she flees down the hall along with everyone else to get the stairwell. Maybe if it hadn't been for the sound of an explosion going off, everyone would have dragged their feet and followed the instructions to exit in an orderly fashion like they would have during a routine for drill. Fear rules them all. Today, Alaine will learn that the human propensity for survival is no more sophisticated than an animal's in the wild; maybe especially more so for a city whose residents were once brought to it's knees by terror attack.
They stampede down the steel steps mindful of nothing and no one but self-preservation. She finds herself brushed and pinned painfully against the metal railing and clings to the same with her free hand for dear life or risks being either trampled or plunged to certain death.
Her other hand keeps the cell phone to her ear, carrying her agonized, fretful cries to Lucas even above the noise of stomping, frantic, fleeing feet.
He can feel his heart hammering it's way out of his chest and as desperate as he is to get to Alaine, there is nothing he can do to aid her with a line of traffic and a red light standing in his way. All that's left is to do is rely on Tawny -- a woman he scarcely knows beyond the information in her file. He has no choice but to trust her with the woman he loves. So he reminds Alaine again, "just stick with Tawny, Ali, please. Stick with Tawny."
The woman is much sturdier than she looks. She plants her feet and shoves bodies out of her way to reach her charge. "Stay on me," she orders Alaine. With a firm grip on Alaine's shoulder, Tawny leads her blindly through the raving crowd.
Lucas goes silent while listening and hearing her laboured breathing. At least, that sound gives him confirmation that Alaine is okay. But after awhile he needs to hear her voice.
"Say something, Ali," he says prayerfully. "Anything, just let me know you're here."
Part of her wants to appease him and say that she is okay. Another part, the one on the quest for survival like everyone else, wants to demand that he stop talking and let her concentrate on doing just that. What comes out of her mouth, though, is a frightened plea for rescue.
"I'm coming, love," Lucas promises. His own fear is audible. "We're not far away now. But they won't let us near the building once we get there, so I need you to run okay? Just run toward me once you get outside. I'll be there. I promise."
With a jerky nod, Seth agrees with his assumption that the area will be cordoned off by some three hundred feet or more. "Tell her to turn left once she gets outside from the lobby. That's the direction we're headed."
Lucas relays the information, but with no indication from Alaine that she'd heard or understood, his panic mounts. "Ali, did you hear me?" he questions.
"Yes, left," she replies breathlessly.
With the exit looming a glowing red ahead of her, Alaine breathes a sigh of relief. It's not over but the end is in sight.
She follows Tawny's lead into the lobby to join a sea of frantically moving bodies, all vying for the four revolving doors that lead outside and hopefully to safety...to Lucas.
No one but her and Tawny know that this could be the carefully orchestrated work of a deranged mind. The thought adds a thick layer of guilt to the fear already shackling her. This is her fault. She'd brought this on these innocent people.
"This could be a trick," Tawny had whispered to her when the pop and then the shrill ring of the fire alarm had her jumping out of her seat and skin in the waiting area a few minutes ago. "...It could be for any number of reasons. To scare you, to grab you in the fracas. Whatever happens, you stick with me."
At the time, Alaine had nodded jerkily, like she'd understood every part of what Tawny had told her. In truth, Tawny's lips had been moving but all of Alaine's attention had been snagged by the sound of an explosion, the fire alarm, her rabbiting heartbeat and the sudden movement of bodies clambering for the exits. She'd had two coherent thoughts in that moment...
Lucas. Then Angus.
Like she had thought then, at the start of the melee, he is here and he is coming for her. She can feel it.
They head in the direction of the nearest door. For another time in her life, Alaine regrets her diminutive stature that hinders her escape as she is easily jostled and shoved and stepped on by persons taller and wider than she is.
But her eyes are trained on Tawny and Lucas' encouragements in her ear urges her on. She'll make it if she ignores the prickling at the back of her neck and the fear that has a habit of keeping her immobile.
Something draws her attention across the crowded way. Maybe that sixth sense that's always warned her of trouble. Her eyes collide with icy blue and it's all she can do to keep from screaming.
Bodies part in waves around Angus's stationary form standing tall in the middle of the lobby. His lips quirk up in a smile at her. Once he knows he has her attention, he takes that first step in her direction.
Everything in Alaine demands that she bolt. Just like that mobility abandons her leaving her feet rooted to the floor. Despite the crowd moving around them, it feels very much like it is just the two of them back in her apartment. What's more petrifying than the person who distracted her is what it costs her. She's lost sight the woman who should be protecting her through the drove.
"Move it girl," someone commands right before a pair of hands shove her from the back.
The brusque command and push work go jolt Alaine out of her terror-stricken stupor.
"He's here," Alaine whispers into the phone. "Angus is here. He's watching me. Lucas, I - I lost Tawny."
That announcement magnifies the stress already threatening to throw Lucas into cardiac arrest. However, he forces down the sense of panic threatening to take hold of his faculties. He has one goal and that is saving Alaine. Instructing his mind to think, while he closes his eyes and attempts a calming breath, Lucas repeats, "Okay, okay Ali. Listen to me. Forget Tawny. Just get out. Don't try to find her just move with the crowd. Do you hear me? Stay ahead of him and move with the crowd."
"I - I - I don't know where she is. Oh God! I'm scared Lucas," she cries. Unsure of who exactly she is searching for, Tawny, or a now red headed Angus," Alaine whips her head about frantically. "I don't know what to do," she weeps into the phone.
"Focus, Alaine," Lucas commands. "I need you to focus. Find the nearest door. Tell me where you are and I will come get you, baby. I will be there," he stresses.
"Okay," she breathes more to herself than to him and digs deep for courage. It comes in a few forms. A few faces, actually. Her sister, her niece, Seth but primarily Lucas and the life and love he's given her.
"Okay," she says again and weaves her small form between spaces in the sluggish drove bumbling toward the door.
"I'm outside," she says a long minute later, much to his relief. "I know he's watching me, Lucas," she sobs. "I can feel him watching but I don't know where he is."
"Tell me where you are, baby. I need to know exactly where you are so I don't miss you," Lucas explains.
"I don't know," she stammers and runs a frustrated hand through her hair while performing a full three-sixty in the dispersing crowd.
"Did you exit through the lobby?" Lucas clarifies. "At the front of the building?"
"Just go left and keep walking ma'am."
Alaine jumps at the sound of Tawny's voice beside her. "Look straight ahead, don't look at me. I'm with you. He's here, but I lost him. I'm trying to source him out so keep walking and know that I have your back."
Stiffly, ram rod stiff, Alaine obeys with each uncoordinated and stumbling step that she takes.
Just like that, Tawny disappears again, leaving her to herself and Angus. It takes a while of half walking half falling on trembling legs down the block before the curb comes into view. Searching for Lucas, his SUV or Seth is fruitless. On the busy streets filled with police and firemen and everyone, Alaine feels utterly alone and vulnerable.
"I see you, baby," Lucas says although she no longer has her phone to her ear. It sits in her hand dangling by her side while she searches her surroundings with tears streaming down her face. "I'm right here," he breathes.
As soon as the tires hit the curb, Lucas shoves the back door open. Before the vehicle can come to a complete stop, he launches himself out of it, his feet stumbling with his momentum. Without a care that they must be violating more than one traffic law by riding the curb and at that speed, he catches himself but keeps his eyes on Alaine. He doesn't blink because of the fear that if he does, she might disappear and be lost to him forever.
The fright in her eyes tear through him when her gaze lands in his. Her sob of relief and terror only adds to his distress. She quickens her pace as much as she can in her outfit until they meet and Lucas hauls her against him.
"I saw him. I know I did," she says before her legs give out under her.
Lucas catches her sagging form before she can slip from his hold.
"I've got you," he assures her.
He lifts her trembling body to his chest and hurries back to place her in the back seat. When he climbs in beside her, she scampers into his lap, winds her arms tightly around his neck and gives the shaking and wailing command over her body.
"Where's your woman, Seth?" Lucas asks.
He's never been more disappointed with anyone as he is right now with both Seth and the woman he'd hired. He is the one who vetted her after all. Tawny looks good on paper but as it turns out, she's a dud and they had almost learned that the hard way. Now that he is no longer scared out of his mind, Lucas doesn't bother to hide the anger seeping into him.
He places a rough kiss to Alaine's temple, wraps his arms tightly around her to hold her closer and doesn't try to shush her heaving cries. He leaves her to bawl her eyes out and uses that to fuel his determination to do whatever has to be done to eliminate Angus Maloney.
They couldn't get to the apartment fast enough. This time, using the front entrance instead of the sealed off space of the underground garage seems safer. Lucas doubts Angus would actually be able to slip into the apartment unnoticed but he won't take any chances.
"We'll wait for the all clear from Seth and his team before we go up," he tells Alaine as he guides her across the lobby. If she hears him, she gives no indication.
The moment they get inside, before the elevator's doors can close the rest of the world outside, she attacks him. She climbs up on tiptoes to draw him against her by the lapels of his shirt and kisses him with a fire that seems to absorb all his oxygen.
For a little while he indulges her and succumbs to the need. He returns her kiss wit fervency while molding her shape to his. He too needs to know that life still courses through her veins.
Her hands worm their way between their fused bodies to make light work of doing away with his buckled belt. The instant her cold, shaky fingers inch beneath his shirt, to touch his clammy flesh, his body trembles with the force of his desire so he moans, both pleasure and protest into her mouth.
He needs to take control of this situation. Lucas brings his hands up to her hair to angle her head in a way that gives him authority over her lips and their kiss until she surrenders. The tension ebbs from her body, she sinks down on to the soles of her feet, allowing him to bring their explosive passion to a slow end.
"Not this time, Ali," Lucas tells her softly with his forehead pressed to hers. "I need you to talk to me. What happened?"
"After," she breathes before pressing her lips to his again.
"No," Lucas says shaking his head. "I know you're scared. I know you don't want to think about it, but this is important."
He also needs to call Tawny Rivers and fire her. Later though. For now, he remains at entrance of his living room content to have Alaine cry her tears into his shirt wit his arms still around her.
"Oh baby," Lucas croons into her hair. "I don't know how many times I'm going to have to apologize to you for this. But I'm working on a way to fix it. I promise. Shhh baby."
The elevator bell dings after a long while.
"Look who I found," Seth announces.
Lucas turns his head to see Tawny Rivers trailing Seth into the apartment. Something snaps inside him but he ignores the irritation of Seth's chipper demeanor to glare menacingly at her.
"Explain yourself," he demands with dark impatience then considers that she doesn't deserve a chance to explain. Out of curiosity only, he waits to here what she has to say as a professional who had abandoned her mark.
"I saw him sir," she explains as if that should say it all.
Lucas lips curl in disgust.
"He was there," she continues. "He wasn't blonde. His hair was kind of red. I was watching her the entire time."
"Watching her?" Lucas snaps . He sets Alaine away from him to advance on his newest employee. "You weren't supposed to leave her side!"
The forceful boom in his voice is a surprise to all in the room but he can't help it. Suddenly his anger and fear overwhelm all other senses and begins to tremble as much as Alaine. "You left," Lucas roars.
His turbulent emotions literally makes him faint. In an attempt to slow his rapid heartrate, he pulls in a deep breath. Tears leak from his eyes. This time when he addresses Tawny, his voice is weak.
"You left her," he croaks this time. "You left her in a crowd with a mad man."
"I thought I could..." Tawny begins to say, but isn't given the chance to continue.
"You're done," Lucas tells her. "I want you out of here, now."
"May I speak freely, sir?" Tawny requests but doesn't wait for a response from Lucas. She rattles on quickly. "This is what I do. I know this man. I've seen men like him before which is why I was shadowing her. It's the only way we're going to find him. He has eyes on her and on you. That's obvious. Wherever you all are, he won't be far away. I assure you, I had her in my sights the entire time. When I saw she was panicking, I came back. He wants your fear," she adds turning to Alaine. "Both of you. He would have stood somewhere and watched. I was trying to find him and if he had made a move, I would have dropped him right there. I'm good at my job, Mr. Bright. Let me do it."
Like a programmed bot, Tawny returns to standing at attention, while waiting for Lucas to pass his judgement. He turns to Seth for unspoken advice and says, "Fine," when Seth nods. "But whatever your plans are, I want in on them before they are executed."