On the Run

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No Cops

After work that day Mark took Isabel and Elia to the store where she picked up a small amount of groceries and a small bottle of kids soap. Despite his insistence Isabel refused to allow Mark to pay.

She spent her tips from that night knowing that it would take at least two trips in the next couple of weeks to be able to get everything they needed to make the apartment a home.

Isabel had decided that the chances of them being followed here were slim. Chances of them being found in this large city were even slimmer.

They were safe, for now, and she walked with a new sense of safety and confidence she hadn’t had in almost ten years. Not since the first time her ex had struck her.

She had made excuses, convinced that they loved each other and it wouldn’t happen again. She wouldn’t let it, she had told herself.

It had happened so rarely at first. It was when she got pregnant, kicked out of her parents home, and moved in with him that things started to get bad. She had been lucky Elia had survived the pregnancy. Though, there were times when Isabel felt guilty bringing such a sweet innocent girl into that man’s house.

Shortly after Elias’ birth, she had learned who he really was. By then he was using threats against Elia to keep her quiet.

Once she had tried going to the police, but they had taken her right back to him. That’s when he told her all law enforcement worked for him.

It was hard to believe Mark would work for someone so horrible. Clearly though, she couldn’t trust her judgement. Was Andrey on his way to get them right now?

She shuddered, shaking off the horrifying thought as she slid into her bed. She was exhausted and fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. Her exhaustion and relief at the sudden change in there fortune kept the nightmares at bay, for now

The next day was Saturday and Isabel was surprised when Mark knocked on her door at nine o’clock.

“Come in.” Isabel called as she scrubbed the pot she had used to make oatmeal for breakfast.

“Morning ladies.” Mark came in smiling brightly.

Elia stared shyly down at her bowl of oatmeal on the small table in the kitchen.

Mark walked into the living room and leaned against the far wall that ran along the kitchen and living room. He wanted to be closer but he didn’t want to make Elia more nervous.

“Good morning.” Isabel responded cautiously as she turned away from the sink to face him.

She wiped her hands on a towel before pulling her long sleeves back down over her arms.

“Do you have plans for the day?” Mark asked nervously.

He hadn’t been planning on doing this, but after taking his morning run he knew he needed something to do today. To be honest this was the only thing he could think of that he actually wanted to do.

So after a quick phone call, he and Susan had an impromptu birthday party planned. Now he just had to convince them to go.

“No, we were just going to hang out. I was going to ask if I could take Elia outside to play. It looks really nice out today.” Isabel responded, shifting her weight.

She was right. Despite it being mid January it was sunny and warm. The rarity of such a nice day in the winter just made Mark feel God was helping with their plans.

“Well you are both more than welcome to hang out in the yard anytime you want. I even have a playset I got for Melody when she is here. However I am hoping that for today you would both be willing to join me for a day out.” Mark tried to make his expression as calming as possible.

Still Isabel frowned and bit her lips, her uncertainty clear on her face.

“I was thinking we could take Elia to a park, then have lunch.” Mark explained calmly.

Elia watched her mother not sure whether she wanted her to agree or not. On one hand it sounded like a lot of fun, on the other she would be close to Mark all day.

“I guess we could do that.” Isabel responded slowly before thinking about the far to small pile of cash in her nightstand. “Can we pack lunch though?”

“I’m paying, it’s my treat to you both. An early birthday for Miss Elia.” Mark explained. “Susan and Melody will be meeting us at the park, but they won’t be able to join us for lunch.”

Isabel was going to argue as soon as he said he was paying, but then he mentioned Elia’s birthday. She looked over at her daughter who actually looked excited. Elia hadn’t had a decent birthday yet and Isabel knew she couldn’t afford one now.

“Okay.” She relented. “Can we have half an hour to get ready?”

“Of course.” Mark beamed.

His smile was so contagious, Isabel had to fight to not smile back. She would not give him the wrong impression, she couldn’t be a tease.

“Well, I will meet you at the car in thirty minutes.” Mark pushed off from the wall and walked out.

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