He’s going to kill me.
Izzy knew confronting her husband about his adultery would be difficult, yet in sixteen years of marriage he never laid a violent hand on her, or their children. The broken glass from the coffee table beneath her formed a bed of crippling pain. She could feel the acid fingertips of the glass all across her back and the wetness of her own blood. She tried to breathe but the stabbing pain in her chest assaulted her. She coughed involuntarily, unable to fill her lungs, and with the gruesome pain that made her head spin, Izzy tasted blood in the back of her throat. He’s punctured my lung.
She lay there, gasping for each precious breath, wondering what Peter would do to finish her off. Maybe he’s gone for another drink. Maybe he’ll drink so much he’ll pass out, she hoped. At least the boys are with Mom. I’m never going to see them again, but they’re safe.
Fresh tears escaped, making her vision blurry and the destroyed lounge wavered in and out like being underwater. She needed to move, but her broken tibia protruded through her dark blue jeans.
Yet she wanted to live. Be a mother for her boys, see them grow up. The television turned on by itself, and flickered with static for a moment, bringing the moonlit room into stark relief. She felt her thoughts quicken and the fear that paralyzed her recede. No one is coming to save me.
She took in as much air as she could, gripped her leg and sat up, suppressing a scream and hearing the glass not embedded in her back fall softly to the carpet. She looked down at a large sliver of sharp glass that shone in the light of the flickering television. She used her teeth to pull her sleeve over her palm and grabbed it.
Coughing again, Izzy clenched her jaw against the pain and heard blood inside her lung bubble. Her head spun, and her eyes grew heavy. Whatever I’m going to do I need to do it before I pass out.
She looked up at sounds of banging from upstairs and knew what Peter was up to. On a high shelf, in their bedroom wardrobe lay her grandfather’s World War 2 service revolver and fresh fear enveloped her.
Across the room in the corner sat her black handbag where he’d thrown it. My phone is in there. No one will get here in time to save me, but I know Amy will make him pay. With her broken leg, it might as well be on the other side of the galaxy.
I have to try.
A moan escaped her as she rolled to her stomach, and using her good leg pushed herself with agonizing slowness, as the sounds from above continued and the television flickered providing enough light to see her path. He’s trying to open the lockbox. He doesn’t have the key. C’mon Izzy you can do this.
Inch by inch she moved, leaving a trail of blood until the leather bag sat within reach. She dropped her impromptu glass dagger and pulled the bag to her, scrounging inside for the phone. Retrieving the device she swiped, leaving blood on the screen and hit recent calls. Please pick up Amy.
Izzy opened her mouth to speak and nothing but a bubbling cough came out leaving a sticky froth on her lips.
She tried again, and it felt like the hardest thing she’d ever done, as she heard Peter’s footsteps come down the stairs.
“Peter is . . . .going to . . . kill me, Amy,” her voice came out so soft and weak she didn’t recognize it. She pressed the volume button until Amy’s panicked response dwindled to nothing and hid the phone back inside the bag.
She’ll hear everything. He won’t get away with it. She thought with macabre satisfaction.
She rolled over and saw Peter enter the room from the light of the flickering television, the old gun held in his hand. He simply looked at her, his lips thin with anger and jaw clenched before raising the gun to point at her head.
She opened her mouth to ask why that mattered and blood bubbled up, silencing her. She couldn’t speak with her lung filling with blood, so in one last act of defiance, she raised her right hand with her middle finger extended and saw his eyes follow the movement.
With her other hand, she reached down for the glass shard and grabbed the tip between her fingers. She flicked her arm forward and watched as it embedded in his leg. Fuck you, Peter.
At his roar of anger, she closed her eyes and the gun exploded.
Izzy jerked awake, eyes wild, wincing as the motion pulled at her ribs. She only survived because the old gun, with its equally old ammunition, misfired, blowing a chunk of shrapnel out that struck Peter in the head. By the time he regained consciousness, Izzy could hear the wail of sirens and at the sound, the bastard fled.
Was it only three weeks ago? She thought, pressing a hand to her side. Ten years of happy marriage and six living as half of herself. Trapped in a loveless marriage and going through the motions for the sake of the children, it only took one offhand comment from her fifteen-year-old son James to make her realize that her suspicions involving Peter’s fidelity were correct. The only good thing about that day, was she sent James, and his eleven-year-old brother, Lucas, to visit their grandmother, before deciding to confront Peter. They weren’t there to witness their father become a monster.
Izzy swung the heavy black leg support that held her broken bones together off the couch and reached for her crutch. A sharp pain shot from her wrist and ran up her arm.
“Shit!” She cried as the fumbled crutch slid to the floor.
The chill in her father’s old log cabin sent a shiver down her spine, and she needed to start a fire, soon. Freezing to death in the Canadian wilderness didn’t make it on her to do list, but the immediate urge for coffee and painkillers outweighed the inevitable necessity for warmth.
“I guess this is my life for now,” She said, talking to the stupid crutch lying just out of reach.
Such a change from her regular day as a paramedic. She was used to helping others. A life of service she gladly chose, to people in their gravest hour of need, and her injured state grated on her.
She knew she should still be in the hospital, she knew enough Doctors who would happily have kept her ‘under observation’ while her bones knit back together.
But the sterile hospital room she’d woken up in made her feel claustrophobic. Then again, maybe it was her pride or the feeling she needed to hide from Peter as he continued to successfully evade the police.
Yet she hated feeling helpless, and Amy drove her up here to rest and heal in familiar surroundings. When she’s not hunting the bastard. She dragged her leg carefully behind her as she hobbled toward the kitchen, using anything within reach for support. Most of her body itched from the healing, the bruises fading to a mix of dull green, blue and yellow. Yet six pins held her broken leg together, and like her ribs, they would take much longer to heal.
With stubborn determination, she moved into the kitchen to fiddle with cups and the preparation of coffee. She stared at the steam for a second before pouring herself a glass of water and swallowing a concoction of antibiotics, painkillers and muscle relaxants, then headed back to the lounge. She pushed the door open with her shoulder and held the steaming cup in her busted hand. She held the door frame with her good arm to support herself.
As she entered, her gaze lifted into the room, and she stopped in her tracks.
“What the hell?” tumbled out her mouth at a roaring fire in the iron fireplace.
Her heart sank. The warm room felt cold, as she quivered, her mind frantic. Peter! He’s back to finish me off.
She placed her mug on the end table and stood silent and shivering, listening for any sounds in the cabin that were out of place. The wood popped in the flame. The snow fell gently against the window outside. It all sounded normal until the floorboard above her head groaned.
That’s in the bedroom, she thought. SHIT! She pulled her phone out of her pocket and dialed the first number on her contacts list.
“Hello?” Amy answered with a tired voice.
“There’s someone in the cabin,” Izzy whispered.
“What? Who?” Amy asked, her voice filled with instant awareness.
“I don’t know. I can hear someone upstairs. Oh God, Amy, what if it’s Peter?”
“Iz, get to the kitchen. I left a gun in the drawer, second one down, left side of the sink,” As a Police Detective in the Vancouver Violent Crimes Unit, Amy held an unhealthy obsession with guns. An obsession Izzy felt thankful for now.
“Hang on,” she shuffled backward on unsteady feet, trying to be as quiet as possible. Every slow step caused the wooden floor to creak. She backed into the kitchen, her focus glued to the stairs.
Amy called from her phone, “You got it?” and Izzy turned into the room and froze.
There, in her kitchen, standing by the sink with a confident stance and a twinkle of amusement in a set of astonishing blue eyes, stood the tallest man she’d ever seen. The reason for his confidence, aside from a body that looked like it could break her in half with a good sneeze, rested firmly in his right hand. The grey steel of Amy’s gun almost blended with his dark hair and clothes, like some kind of fashionable accessory for a muscular Pierce Brosnan. Those hypnotic blue eyes focused on her own chestnut brown ones as if examining her very soul and she swallowed through a throat tightened by fear, willing her obstinate body to move. But she didn’t, she just stood there in shock like some useless piece of broken furniture.
Amy’s voice called to her from the phone again, and she wanted desperately to scream out to her friend for help, but the weapon in the man’s hand scared her too much to risk that.
Instead, she blurted out, “Who are you?” as her heart pounded in her ears and adrenaline surged through her. The man stepped forward and Izzy stumbled back.
“Don’t come near me. Why are you in my house?”
The man said nothing as he tilted his head and ran his gaze over her body.
Oh God, that’s all I need now. “Please don’t …” She whispered.
As she stared at the man’s eyes, impossibly they began to change. The stunning blue consumed by a deep, rich red. His hand went white-knuckled on the gun and he dropped his head, glaring at her from under his brow, his lips set in a thin line.
Tears dripped off her lashes, “No, please, don’t,” she begged as they rolled down her cheeks.
The intruder moved the gun, using two fingers to hold it by the barrel and placing it on the counter to his left. Not that her trespasser being unarmed made any difference. His head almost touched the eight-foot ceiling. As he lowered his arm, she could see the play of his enormous muscles sliding like greased silk beneath the matt black clothing he wore. His upper arms were the size of her thighs, with an equally muscled chest and shoulders. He looked like a bodybuilder or steroid user. He can do whatever he wants to me without breaking a sweat.
“Do not be afraid, I will not hurt you,” he said, his deep voice sounded like honey and cigar smoke echoing in the silent kitchen.
“What do you want from me?”
“To take you from this world,” he said, gesturing with his strong hands towards the ceiling.
Izzy’s heart flipped again. “What do you mean?” She asked, backing away from him and bumping into the solid kitchen door.
“Who did this to you?” he asked, scowling again, his red eyes growing darker.
“None of your damned business!” She fired back.
He took a step closer to her, his face twisted with anger.
Shit. Maybe pissing him off isn’t the best idea.
Izzy cowered away from him as he took another step closer, invading her personal space. She could smell the man, a strange citrus and cinnamon, but not quite. He stood close enough to touch her, yet his arms remained at his side. “Who did this to you?” he asked again, his tone gentle.
“My ex-husband,” she confessed, craning her neck up to look at his face. The anger and violence implicit in that gaze sent a shudder through her. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Where is he?”
Izzy frowned at that.
“He’s not here, but my friend will be, soon. She’s a police officer, so maybe you should leave before she gets here,” Izzy said, hoping that would be enough to deter him from whatever plans he came here with. But he just stared down at her, a muscle in his cheek flexing at whatever he thought about.
“Please, just leave. I don’t have anything valuable, maybe a few bucks in my purse …” She gestured to her handbag on the bar stool at the breakfast nook a few feet away.
“I am not a thief,” His husky voice sounded loud as he straightened and she couldn’t help but see interesting things happen to the muscled torso in front of her.
“Then,” she tried not to think about what he wanted if not money, “what do you want?” she asked in a small voice.
“It’s complicated. I cannot tell you. Not yet.”
“Are you here to kill me?” Izzy asked, unable to stop a hitch in her voice.
“No,” The man said simply, stepping back to gesture at her injuries with those large strong-looking hands, “but I will kill the man who did this to you.”
She shook her head to clear her muddled thoughts, “Why?”
“Because a man who beats a woman like that should not live, but also because he did it to you.”
To me? But he’s a stranger, why does he care what happened to me? Am I still asleep? Is this another fucked up dream?
With no violence from the man, she straightened, trying to divine his meaning from his expression.
“Who are you?” Izzy demanded. By moving as she did and not feeling the twinge from her ribs, she knew the painkillers were kicking in. She wondered if they gave her an edge of confidence.
He hesitated before answering and then shrugged as if it didn’t matter, “My name is Mikhlas. I am the Captain of the Koentra, a Royal Defence Starfleet destroyer.”
Starfleet? Oh great, he’s crazy. She backed away again, the door behind her swinging open and tried to keep her voice light, “Okay, Mike, maybe you should return to your ship. I’m sure the Royal defense league needs you back.”
His eyes softened, blue once more as he smiled, showing perfect white teeth. “You were right, she does not believe me,” he said.
“I did warn you,” another honey and cigar bass voice said from behind her.
She spun, and a second enormous gym freak dressed in black leaned against the wall, only two feet behind her. She panicked and tried to step away, but her crippled leg wouldn’t obey, and she stumbled. She expected to hit the ground, hard, and she shut her eyes.
Instead of the painful impact of the floor, two warm solid arms caught her. She opened her eyes and all she could see were the sapphire blue of Mikhlas’ eyes staring into hers. A cool ocean that filled her vision and her heart raced. She wanted to say something smooth and intelligent, yet words failed her as she stared into his unblinking eyes. So beautiful. Too bad they belong to a crazy guy.
Mikhlas held her for a moment then effortlessly lifted her and strode past the other man into the lounge room before placing her on her feet. Izzy steadied herself with her hand on his shoulder, feeling the firm muscle then snatching her hand away as if burned and stared at the two men, eyes darting between them.
They could be brothers they are so similar. The only difference I can see, is the second man is a few inches shorter, and the dark circles under his eyes.
“Who are you people?” She asked, as the second man pushed off the wall and approached her. Backing away from him, her butt hit the dining table and he stopped. His eyes were the same piercing blue as Mikhlas’s.
“Answer me, dammit! What do you want?” she shouted at him, yet Mikhlas answered.
“I can explain, yet I need something first.”
“Yeah, and what’s that?” She snapped.
Mikhlas stepped closer to her, a strange look in his eye, and she smelled that citrus and cinnamon again. She wanted to back away, yet the table stood right behind her. She couldn’t run, not with her leg and the second man looked ready to block her if she moved, a lazy sense of coiled readiness. Mikhlas loomed over her and she kept her eyes focused on the floor, her breathing ragged and shallow.
“Your DNA,” He whispered.
When Izzy raised her eyes in confusion, he bent further and placed his lips on hers. As she stood rooted in shock, his hand glided to the back of her neck and held her gently in place as the kiss deepened.