Bree and Justin picked their way through the tress carefully. Every now and then Justin had to grab her arm to keep her from face planting into the underbrush. Each time she turned grateful eyes up to him.
She was a little distracted on how the sexy man beside her was going to decide to deal with what she’d done and what really would happen after he got his niece.
They continued in silence as they stayed close to each other.
She stopped suddenly, causing Justin to tighten his hold on her, “Babe?”
“We’re close,” she pointed through a clearing between two trees. Her heart picked up speed as her eyes took in the camouflaged painted building.
“Darlin’, this is the last chance for you to stay out here, I want you safe.” He murmured against her temple.
“I feel safe with you,” she tilted her head up and locked eyes with his wonderful smoky-gray eyes. She felt her face heat up but the embarrassment went away as soon as Justin’s lips landed on hers. Her toes curled in her shoes as his lips slanted against hers.
He slowly pulled back, “Okay, let’s do this so we can get you out of these wet clothes quicker.” He grinned mischievously at her, making her stomach flutter.
She nodded slightly and they continued to the building. She pulled Justin to the window she was sure she escaped from.
He pulled back on her arm, “What’s this?”
“The window I climbed out of.” She whispered.
“Jesus,” Justin shot a look at her then pulled her in for a hug. “Babe, don’t let anyone tell you different, you were very brave when you escaped from here.”
She gazed up at him so unsure but wouldn’t give in to debating with him, “Now, I have to get the others out.” She whispered.
“We, babe, never forget that.”
She looked away unable to focus on what he said and turned to the window and pulled it open. She slowly knelt as Justin took ahold of the window and he knelt beside her.
She slid her legs inside and went to move her body when Justin caught her arm. She gazed up into those smoky-gray eyes of his and she knew she wanted to look into those eyes for the rest of her life. She watched him as he leaned toward her more and his lips met hers passionately. She grew wet instantly.
“I’m right behind you, beautiful.” He whispered against her lips.
She nodded slightly and slid the rest of the way through the window. Her feet landed silently along the stoned paved basement. Fear gripped her as the cold surrounded her instantly.
An arm wrapped around her shoulders from behind, “It’s okay, Bree, I’m right here.” Justin pulled her back into his warm body but it didn’t do much to ward off any of the million thoughts running through her mind but she couldn’t go there. She squeezed his arm slightly then pulled away and led the way down the hallway slowly.
“Bree, how are we doing this? Are they down here?”
“Should be, this was where I was held and Marnie was down here the night I left, we’re either going to have to find the keys, which they’re probably on Burly or find another way to get these doors opened without them.” She nibbled her lip as she glanced from one padlock to the others. She sighed and turned to Justin who was rummaging around in the belt he had around his waist.
She gazed up at him when he pulled out a skinny, sharp pick, “Justin?”
“This will help me pick the locks on the doors, I just need you to do me a favor, keep an eye out for me, if the big guy comes down here let me know right away.”
Bree nodded her head slightly and rushed past the locked doors to keep an eye out. She heard the muffled sounds of Justin fiddling with the locks one by one.
She glanced behind her toward him as he was at the last door. She held her breath slightly, realizing it was Marnie’s prison he was unlocking now.
“Bree.” Justin whispered.
She turned toward him more.
“Come here, babe, start taking the others to the window, that’s how I want to get them out.” Justin watched Bree carefully as she went past him. He desperately wanted to pull her into him and hug her and kiss her but he let her walk on by.
He finally managed to get the last lock undone and pulled the door open slowly. He sucked in a breath when he saw his niece laying in a heap on the floor. No, no, no. He thought as he rushed into the room, “Marnie,” he called quietly, nothing. He pulled out a pen light from the belt to light the room better.
He could barely see her breathe but at least she was. He rushed over to her and shook her slightly, “Marnie, please.”
“Yeah, sweetheart, it’s me, come on, I’m going to get you out of here.” He scooped her up gently and cradled her close to him. She looked as bad as Bree had when they crashed into each other. He sighed but began to walk out of the cell she was basically held in.
“Un-un-uncle J, wh-wh-what a-a-about t-th-the ot-others?”
“It’s okay, don’t worry, I’m handling everything, Ben,” he began. “We’re going to need an ambulance, I’m almost out, I’ve got Marnie but they need to be here ASAP.”
“Alright, bro, be careful, I’ll put the call in, I’ll call Cierra, too.”
“Thanks.” Justin hurried to the window where Bree was trying to help the girls get out. “Bree, come on, we’ve got to move.”
“I know that.” She snapped a little and began to boost the tiniest girl up through the window.
Justin clamped down on his emotions, he knew Bree knew how important this was but he couldn’t help being agitated, “Bree, stop.”
Bree continued to try to help but was struggling, “Bree, stop.”
She turned to look at him, “Do you want them out or not?” she demanded.
“Of course, here, try to take Marnie for a moment.” He slowly moved Marnie over to her and she struggled with her a little but managed to handle it and he began to get the other girls out.
He got to the last one and went to Marnie to help her out when the basement door slammed.
Bree and Justin’s eyes locked as heavy footsteps fell on the steps, “Justin, get Marnie out, please hurry.” She began to walk toward the steps.
Justin caught her arm, “Babe, don’t, I’ll get her out then you, stay here.” He ordered. He began to get Marnie to the window just as a yell filled the entire basement making Marnie jump in his arms.
“Justin, hurry.” Bree pleaded.
He tried to go as fast as he could without trying to hurt his niece.
“Freeze or I’ll blow your heads off!” the loud yell filled the basement again.
Justin didn’t freeze though, he got Marnie out just as a shot went off. His body tensed but he never felt the bullet enter him.
“Justin,” Bree whispered as she fell into him a little just as Marnie was pulled out the window.
He turned quickly drawling how own glock and fired toward the shadow as Bree began to slump to the ground and the shadow fell face first to the ground.
Justin reached for Bree, “Bree, baby,” he fell to his knees and cursed loudly when he saw the blood coating her white t-shirt near her shoulder. “Baby.” He whispered as he felt the tears sting his eyes. “Bree, please.”
She didn’t move, she was breathing but not a muscle twitched on her.
“Justin, what happened?”
“Bree’s been shot, Marnie can’t walk, she doesn’t have the strength, I don’t know how to get them all out.” He yanked his shirt off and pressed it against her bleeding wound.
“Bro, hang on, I’ll be there as soon as I can, we’ll get them out.” Ben tried to reassure him.
Justin knew what his friend was trying to do but all he could think about were two of his girls needed him and he couldn’t do anything about it except curse himself and beat himself up, “Come on, baby, I need you to wake up for me.” He whispered to her, his eyes never leaving her, continuously rubbing his knuckles against her pale cheek.
If he had known this was going to happen he would have made her stay behind. The woman was crazy for taking a damn bullet for him and he planned to scold her when they got out of here.
All his plans were quickly going up in smoke as his eyes flickered over her limp body, “Baby, please.” He whispered pressing his lips to her forehead.
She seemed to stir a little bit, then he was looking down into her dim but beautiful violet eyes, “Justin.” She murmured as her eyes closed again.
“No, baby, stay with me.” He encouraged quickly.
Her beautiful eyes fluttered open again, “I hurt so much.”
“I know, darlin’, but you have to keep your eyes open for me, I want to see those beautiful eyes.”
She blinked slowly and tried to move but groaned and grimaced.
“No, babe, I need you to stay still for now.”
“You have to go, get Marnie to the hospital.”
“I have to get you there also.” Justin cupped her cheek.
“Justin, I don’t know where to go.” Ben’s voice filled his ear but he ignored it.
“Justin, please, get the others to the hospital, I’ll be okay.” Her eyes drifted shut.
“Bree, don’t do this, please.”
“Honey, I’m at least going to get you out of here,” he began to scoop her up being as gentle as he could. As soon as he had tucked into his body he stood and headed down the stoned hallway and rushed up the steps.
When he got outside he sat Bree on the porch and knelt in front of her, “Darlin’, look at me,” he encouraged and she slid her heavy lids open. “I need you to keep as much pressure on your shoulder as possible for me, listen I’ll be back for you as soon as I get Marnie to Ben, I’ll come back.”
She nodded her head too weak for much of anything else. She was losing too much blood and leaving her was tearing him apart.
He tilted her head up and pressed his lips to hers frantically, “I’m coming back, I promise, love.” He felt so torn as he got back to his feet. His gaze lingered over the one who completely captured his heart then he took off to where he got the girls out.
As soon as he got to the other side of the building he found the four girls huddled together and Marnie was still on the ground.
He scooped Marnie into his arms and looked to the other girls, “You have to follow me, I’ll get you all out of here.”
“Where’s the girl who was with you? The one who was here and escaped.” The smallest girl, Tinlee, asked, her green eyes wide with fear.
“She’s wounded, I have to get you guys out of here and come back for her.” Justin hated the words that fell from his lips but he didn’t have a choice and it sucked. He was aching so bad to have Bree in his arms, safe, and better. He had to do this first though, she knew it, he knew it, but it was killing him inside.
He adjusted Marnie a little and began to make his way through the woods with the girls following closely behind him. He had to get them out of here quick, if not he could possibly lose Bree.
Bree whimpered a little as she went to move, her shoulder was killing her and cold was setting in all over her body. Her shirt felt so wet and it wasn’t just from the fall in the creek. She slowly lifted her eyelids, they felt so heavy and she was in trouble if Justin didn’t come back soon. She let out a scream of pain as she made herself move up more against the wall of the building.
She glanced around slowly before she let her head roll back and land against the stone building a little harder than she meant to. She felt as if she was slipping away, and she never got the chance to tell Justin that she loved him, at least she was pretty sure she did. She let her eyes slide shut again. At least the others were safe and could go back to their families, she wasn’t worried about herself just regretting that she never let Justin know how she felt, it was only a short period of time and yet she never wanted to know what life was like without him.
She had to let him go to get Marnie to the hospital, she was more important, she looked as bad as she had felt when she first woke up after the first beating she had ever gotten from Burly. She groaned as blackness began to crowd around her and she let herself sink into oblivion. Hopefully jumping in front of that bullet was enough for Justin to know how she really felt about him.
Justin tried to get the girls to move faster but they just kept stumbling over the fallen trees and branches. He was about to lose his patience when all of a sudden Ben came crashing through some low hanging branches, “Ben, thank God.”
“Where’s Bree?” Ben’s hazel eyes flashed around like lightning at each face of the girls behind Justin and then Marnie.
“I had to leave her back there, I couldn’t get her and Marnie here, I need you to take them, get Marnie to the paramedics, tell them about Bree being shot, please, Ben.” Justin was a frantic mess, he knew he wasn’t keeping his head, but he had to get to Bree.
Ben took Marnie, “I got this, bro, go, everything’s going to be okay.”
Justin wanted to believe him but it was so hard to. He took off in a run away from Ben, Marnie, and the others. His heart was beating so fast and it wasn’t from carrying Marnie or running to get to Bree. He would be so lost without Bree, he finally saw the disgusting building everyone had been prisoners of, and he sped up.
He finally got to the front and Bree was still in the same spot he had left her in. God, he couldn’t believe himself that he left her, she deserved better than him. He leapt over the railing and skidded to a halt beside her, “Bree?” he called gently as he leaned down and cupped her cheek. He felt himself wanting to get sick but he held back. “Bree, honey, please.”
She still didn’t respond to him, he placed his fingers at the base of her neck, he let out a little sigh of relief once he found her pulse, it was so faint. He pulled Bree closer to him and he figured out why, he cursed when he saw the back of her shirt was covered in dark red. “Bree, no.” He managed to get the shirt so it would cover the other wound then picked her up carefully. “Babe, don’t worry, I’ll get you help, please pull through this, you’ve come so far, don’t let go, babe, I can’t lose you, I’m so sorry I left you.” He whispered and cradled her fragile, limp body close to him and he took off back to Ben and the others.
He managed to clear every branch, fallen down tree without hurting Bree any more than she already was. He wanted to kick himself, he wanted to yell at her for taking the bullet for him. This was going to be a long night and it was only beginning.
He finally made it back to the end of the woods and found two paramedics already checking Marnie over and getting her into the back. He rushed over as Ben was managing to get the others into the car they had showed up in.
Two more paramedics made their way over to Bree and him and they took her quickly.
“Ben,” Justin shouted. “Take them to the station, did they take Martines in already?”
“Yeah, they did, questioning him now as we speak, Iris and Clay along with Amelia are on their way to the hospital, I’ll be there as soon as I get them turned over to their parents, Cierra will be too,” Ben gripped his shoulder tightly. “Just don’t worry about anything, Justin, they’ll fix her up.”
Justin glared at Ben a little bit, “Don’t think your making me feel any better, if anything happens to her,”
“I know, Justin, but just think we got all the other ones out and safe, Marnie should be okay, too, just keep your head up.” Ben tried to reassure him.
Justin still brushed off what his friend said, he couldn’t keep his head up, he was going to lose the one girl he had ever loved and would ever love. No one could fill the spot that Bree would leave him with if he lost her.
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