On the Run

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They had such a good time at movie night that Mark suggested they try doing it weekly. Isabel couldn’t argue, she had never seen Elia act so childlike. The little girls had giggled and whispered and snuggled on the floor as they watched My Little Pony. They got up and danced around to every song.

Isabel couldn’t help but smile at them as real happiness and comfort built in her chest. Several times she had noticed Mark grinning at her in a similar fashion. She wasn’t sure if she liked that. She had to remember that he was in law enforcement, she had to be careful.

The verse about trust kept jumping front and center in her mind. She had tried the trusting thing before, and look where it got her. However that thought was less powerful in that setting. Sitting next to a friend and watching her daughter dance and play. In all honesty she was happier at this moment then she had been in years.

Technically hadn’t she already trusted him? Isn’t that how she had gotten here?

It was too much to think about. She felt as if she were spinning in circles.

“This was fun.” Mark said as Isabel helped him pack up dishes.

“It was. The girls are out.” Isabel smiled with a chuckle.

They stood in silence by the sink for a minute before Mark decided he had to speak. He was worried she would be upset but for her own protection, he needed some answers.

“I need to ask you some questions.” Mark sighed, running his fingers through his hair again.

Isabel shifted nervously.

“Let’s sit down.”

Mark walked over to the table pulling out a chair for her before moving to the other side. He considered it a great success when she followed him and sat silently.

“Were you married?” Mark asked, thinking over the legal ramifications of taking your child away from your spouse.

Isabel stiffened, tempted to tell him it was none of his business. However, considering the circumstances, she decided it kind of was. If Andrey showed up on Mark’s doorstep…

Isabel shuttered, then to Mark’s great relief, shook her head slowly.

“Did you ever get a paternity test?” He asked calmly.

Hurt crossed Isabel’s face before she frowned at him.

“I didn’t need to, I know who Elias’ father is.” Isabel said indignantly, more hurt by his assumptions then she wanted to admit.

“I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant.” Mark soothed, “if he had proof of parenthood he could charge you for kidnapping and fight for custody of Elia.”

Mark watched as all the blood drained from Isabel’s face. “I can’t let him anywhere near her again…”

Her voice was quiet, terrified, and yet determined.

“I would die before I let him hurt my baby again.” She frowned at her hands that were folded on the table.

“He won’t get to either of you here.” Mark assured her.

When she didn’t look up Mark slid his hand across the table to lay it on top of hers, “I promise you Izzy. You’re safe here.”

She looked up, meeting his eyes for a second before sliding her hands away and nodding slowly.

“One more question. Do you think he’ll come for you?” Mark’s face hardened, with barely contained rage, as he asked.

Isabel shifted uncomfortably in reaction to the anger.

“He always said he would kill me before he let go…” Isabel unconsciously reached up brushing hair away from where the bruises on her neck had been. “However, I don’t know who he will send. He has a lot for people under him…”

“What do you mean?” Mark asked, pulling back unable to hide his surprise.

Isabel stared at Mark wondering what she should say.

“In my line of work, you’re not likely to say something that I haven’t heard. And I promise I’ll believe you.” Mark soothed leaning forward again.

Then Isabel suddenly realized she wasn’t just talking to a friend, she was talking to a police officer. Her heart raced and her breathing accelerated. Andrey's laugh echoed in her mind;

“You thought the police could help you? They all work for me.” Andrey laughed, “Even if they didn’t, you’re an accomplice, they would take your precious brat away in the blink of an eye.”

Isabel stood suddenly as she realized she had said too much. “I have to go. I’m sorry.”

Mark watched stunned as Isabel rushed out of the room. He was left more concerned than ever. Who had Isabel gotten involved with?

The next morning, after dropping both Isabel and Elia off at the café, Mark headed to the precinct. He had spent all night and most of the morning trying to decipher Isabel’s words, but he was still missing too many pieces of this puzzle. He didn’t even know where she had come from.

That thought stalled him. He could figure out where she came from. He had access to all previous bus schedules, he knew how long She had been on the bus and thanks to the ticket stub she had dropped in his car he knew what bus she had taken last.

With a new motivation he walked with determination through the halls.

“Dude, what did you do to Dustin?” Zane came from behind and walked next to Mark. “I mean, I get it, I don’t like the guy either but he’s an important inside source. We need his cooperation.”

Zane ran his pale hand over his cropped brown hair. His light brown eyes frowned in annoyance.

“Did you get it figured out?” Mark asked, refusing to allow himself to feel guilty for what happened. “He’s lucky I didn’t arrest him.”

“Yeah, he just doesn’t want to deal with you. Now I’m stuck with him.” Zane rolled his eyes but his previous irritation was quickly turning into curiosity. “What did he do?”

“He had cornered Isabel and Elia. I didn’t hear everything, but he was already harassing, and terrifying, Isabel.” Mark frowned, surprised to find he was more angry about it then he had been that night.

Apparently Zane noticed the unnatural level of frustration in Mark’s tone, because he raised his eyebrows at him.

“Who is Isabel?” He questioned.

Mark sighed before proceeding to tell him everything that had happened over the last week. Zane listened quietly, occasionally frowning or grinning and shaking his head, as the story called for it.

“Dude, you need to be careful.” Zane said awkwardly. “You know I hate saying this, but you don’t know what she’s involved in. I can tell you like her, but you could get hurt.”

Mark laughed, “I could get hurt every time I strap on my gun, or step out my door for that matter.”

Zane rolled his eyes, “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I do.” Mark admitted. “But I know this is what God wants me to do, and he knows what’s best.”

Zane rolled his eyes but didn’t argue, he had given up on that years ago. Although he wouldn’t admit it, he envied his friends’ belief and devotion.

“What can I do to help?” Zane asked with a sigh.

“Okay, here’s what we are doing.” Mark said as they reached their desk.

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