On the Run

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Hours later Mark jerked awake to a loud crash. He quickly slid off the couch and retrieved the gun for his safe before he heard Elias' ear piercing shriek.

“Elia!” Isabel screamed, jumping from the couch where she was still sitting stunned.

“No, wait here!” Mark demanded before running to the bedroom where Elia slept.

Despite that she followed him into the room. Elia sat on the bed sobbing and Isabel ran to her. Mark walked over to the brick on the floor. Slowly he removed the paper attached to it.
He read, ‘You think you can protect them both. Game on.’

Mark glanced out the broken window before rounding the girls out of the room and down into the den. He quickly turned on a movie for Elia and got them set up on the couch before setting himself in a chair where he could watch the only door.

“It was him wasn’t it?” Isabel asked quietly after Elia fell asleep.

“We don’t know that.” Mark said before laying his pistol on the small table next to his chair.

“He’s here.” Her voice was so sure and terrified it made Mark's heart lurch.

“He can’t get in here. We are in the basement, underground, and that door is the only way in or out. You are safe either way.” Mark soothed, wishing he could hold her and comfort her. Safety was top priority though, and he knew tonight was going to be a long night.

Elia whimpered, hugging her stuffed dog closer to her. Isabel held her daughter closer trying to steady her heartbeat as silent tears rolled down her cheeks.

Mark struggled to stay in place as he heard Isabel quietly cry herself to sleep. He sighed relieved when her breathing finally evened out.

The next morning Mark took Isabel to meet with a lawyer. He was pleasantly surprised, and mortified, to find out that she had a USB port with pictures. Proof of the abuse Andrey had put both her and her daughter through.

She was granted immediate transfer into protective custody, and despite it being against protocol he was allowed to be on her protective detail.

Isabel was surprised by how fast the whole process went. Mark has explained that since Andrey was so sought after the case was already built they were just waiting on a testimony to guarantee he was put away for life. Still it was a shock when after only a month she got her court date.

“I’m going to be in the same room as him. What if he tries something?” Isabel asked frantically as she packed Elias overnight bag.

“He won’t be able to get any weapons into the court house, but the guard’s can.” Mark said, kissing her forehead lightly.

Since she had been in protective custody. They had grown much closer emotionally, but with him being on protective duty they hadn’t gotten anymore physical. There were times though, when he cupped her cheek or kissed her forehead, that he saw a longing look in her green eyes. The way she bit her lip and blushed crimson not only gave him hope, but made blood rush to his nether regions. He wanted her so bad it hurt, and she wanted him.

Mark sighed. They just had to make it through one more day. Right now though the fear in her eyes sobered him, as he laid his hand reassuringly on her lower back.

“I have good news.” Mark smiled confidently.

“What?” Isabel frowned curiously.

“The Segretos are hanging him out to dry.” He smiled slyly, “word is he disobeyed direct orders not to chase you down and got a ton of men killed and arrested. His brother has stepped up and is refusing to help in any way.”

Isabel’s mouth hung open. The surprise was mixed with relief and confusion. She wasn’t sure exactly what this meant other than Andrey would definitely be imprisoned. If she knew anything about their politics they would probably pin more on him.

“It means after today.” Mark brushed the hair out of her face. “You are off their radar.”

Isabel almost melted with relief, Mark’s strong arms held her up. Nobody was coming after them again. She and Elia were both safe. With that realization she started to cry. Mark held her close but said nothing as she processed the information.

“Now, we should get going. The sooner this is over the better.” Mark finally suggested. “I’ll grab Elia, Zane is out front. Get straight into the car.”

Isabel nodded before straightening her shoulders and heading out the door. In the car she worked on her poker face until Mark and Elia came out. As far as the little girl knew this had been a vacation and our guards were just friends. Note she was staying the night with Susan and Melody. She was thrilled.

“Will Melodys daddy be there?” Elia asked nervously as they pulled into the main road.

“Yes, but Dalton is nice and I talked to him.” Mark comforted her, before adding toIsabel in a quiet voice. “He’ll be extra careful not to scare her.”

Isabel nodded. “It’ll be so fun baby girl.”

“I know and Melody and Mr. Mark all day he’s nice to little girls and doesn’t kick mommy’s.” Elia smiled happily before adding matter of factly, “Uncle Mark wouldn’t let me go if he was mean.”

“Never.” Mark beamed, glancing in the rearview mirror.

After dropping Elia off the car was silent on the drive to the court house. Fear built in Isabel's stomach as she climbed the steps to the court house. She froze at the door, suddenly sure she couldn’t do this.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me. Your Rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemy’s. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the lord forever.” Mark quoted as he gently grabbed Isabel’s hand. “Are you ready?”

She smiled reassured, whether by his touch or word he wasn’t sure. He hoped it was a combination of both. He wanted her trust and love, but he also wanted her to strengthen her new found relationship with God. He was so proud of how far she had come. The Lord really could work miracles.

“Let’s go.” She nodded stiffly.

So Mark led her through the doors and to the courtroom that would force her to face her demons, but also free her of them. She held on tightly like he was her lifeline, and he tightened his grip reassuringly. He knew it would all be over soon.
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