The heavy mist rolled across the still water, and the setting sun could barely shine through the dense fog that covered the river. A lone figure stood on the sandy shore, peering through the haze, hoping for any sign of her. He snorted in derision. Who was this woman, that only a few days ago, that would have happily betrayed him without a second thought? He barely knew her, and yet here he stood, waiting for her. He was tired; exhausted to the point of only being able to react.
He should have been gone a long time ago. Staying here was suicide. The only thing that prevented him from leaving was the fact that he was presumably dead. “No one looks for a dead man”, he reminded himself out loud. The tiny island was mostly sand, and offered very little cover from overhead planes, but fortunately the weather had been kind, and veiled the land in a fog that was a thick as a blanket; no one would spot him or his small wooden rowboat from the air.
The last ten hours had been hell! He needed to sleep! The only clothes he had were the last pair of faded blue jeans, issued from the high-level prison. He had stripped off the bright orange t-shirt, and now shivered in the oppressive moist air. Night was coming, and he had no shelter; nothing to protect him from the elements, or provide concealment from peering eyes. The horrors from the day, and the hours spent struggling to stay alive, played over and over again like a broken record. So much blood! Had he really killed all those people?
Shaking his head in disbelief at his own actions a few scant hours ago, he muttered, “I did what I had to do”. Like a mantra, he repeated the phrase, “It wasn't my fault”. He held his head in his hands as he openly wept. Absently, he pulled his hands away from his face, and stared at his hands held out in front of him. In his mind, he could still see the blood of those that stood between him and freedom. “Once the bullets started flying, I had no choice”, he stated out loud. The words rang hollow in his ears, and he snorted, “Of course I had a choice!” He began to weep again.
The sky was beginning to grow darker with each passing moment. He forced himself to stand his ground, when every fibre of his being screamed at him to run! “NOT SAFE!” the cry kept subconsciously repeating in his mind. The only thing keeping him still standing at this point, was raw adrenaline, and even that was quickly waning. The guilt of what he had done, and the oppressive exhaustion willed him to sit on the soft sand, even if only for a little while. His legs buckled, and he nearly fell to the ground. Forcing himself to stay awake, he waited, and watched.
He closed his eyes for a brief moment, and pictured her in his mind. Red flowing hair, exquisite doe eyes, and freckles. Her smile was infectious,warming him from head to toe, and even now his heart fluttered, merely thinking about her. He barely knew her! Suddenly, he felt himself begin to fall; his whole body buckling from sheer exhaustion. He did a face-plant, and snorted as the white sand sprayed up his nose; filling his mouth. Coughing, he rose to knees, and sat back on his heels. Spitting, and wheezing, he pawed at his face, trying desperately to remove the fine sand. He sighed heavily, and dropped his hands to his side. His head nodded.
The images from the day flooded his mind. He had played a major part in planning the prison riot. The idea of escape from the isolated ageing facility, was simple; lock up all the guards, and get out of the prison before any alarms went off. Things were perfect, until some loudmouth made a startling discovery about money being stored in the office vault; everything went to shit after that! It's amazing how greed can alter people; good friends killing each other, over the chance at a few extra dollars. It was supposed to be easy, and with the exception of a few guards, no one was to get hurt.
Was it fate? The bald man snorted at the prospect of some predetermined existence, where he was nothing more than a mere puppet, doomed to live out some preordained destiny. His shoulders shook, as he chortled at the concept of a fated jailbreak, where the killer falls in love with his captor. How was that for karma? “Opposites do attract”, he reminded himself, but it was more than that; in the heat of the moment, past all the bullets, through all the blood, and fighting for every step, two people found each other; two strangers fell in love.
He snorted again. He could barely raise his chin from his chest, as he knelt in the sand. Shirtless, shoeless, and clad only in ripped jeans, he felt dirty, as though a thousand showers couldn't wash away the tears, blood, sweat, and grime. He felt spent, as though he were a candle barely burning in a strong wind, and easily snuffed given one random gust. His very soul ached for the lives he had taken; the initial plan had called for the prison guards to be rounded up during lunch, and locked away, not killed. Once money became an issue, the plan was discarded, along with the lives of those who had merely come to work yesterday. Certainly, a couple of the men who worked in the rotting Canadian prison deserved to die, but most of the staff were genuinely good people! After years of torture, and isolation, the general population of the prison happily extracted revenge when the opportunity arose, and who could blame them? “I would have too”, he muttered aloud.
He opened his eyes. And was startled to see how dark it was. The fog still hung low to the water and shore, but overhead he could start to see the stars. In alarm, he glanced over at his flimsy old boat, barely covered in the sparse vegetation growing on the sand bar in the middle of the river. He realized that any aircraft flying over, would spot the derelict craft immediately, and he began to worry.
He shoved his hands into his pockets to warm them up. In his right pants pocket, he felt the edges of the gold ring he had been given during his escape. With his finger, he traced the outline, feeling the smooth, warm metal. His mind wandered, trying to figure out what it meant.
“Stay!” he hissed through clenched teeth. He reminded himself, “She's coming. She has to. She promised”. Sighing heavily, he forced the dark thoughts from his mind, but still nervously glanced around, and his heart began to beat wildly as the unanswered question gnawed at him, “What if she changes her mind?”
The wind began to pick up; mere ripples on the surface of the river at first, but soon the steady breeze was beginning to blow away the fog. The water lapped gently against the shore and the hull of the boat. He had no way to tell what time it was, only that she was late, and guessed it to be after 9 O'clock; an hour later than the agreed time to meet. Suddenly, a random thought entered his mind, “What if this is the wrong sandbar?” The notion began to eat at him, because of the fact there was no way to tell in the fog if he had found the only sandbar in the river, or if there were many such places. He had picked the first one he spied in the thick haze, and had no way of knowing if there was others.
What of the money? He glanced guiltily back at the large stone near the middle of the island; only he knew what lay buried underneath. The rest of his friends and cohorts were slaughtered back in the prison during the riot. He had witnessed his best friend of three years drown in the prison sewer; his bunk-mate had been incinerated by flame thrower. Even the helpful janitor took a 12 gauge shot gun blast in the chest. There was no one left who knew of the loss of money from the prison vault, except her.
He swallowed hard, and stared across the river. The fog was nearly dissipated, and only the cloak of night kept him safe for the moment. He sighed, shivering in the growing cold of the night air, and closed his eyes. Again he saw her face; even her eyes sparkled when she smiled! Deep in his heart, he knew she loved him. She had the opportunity to betray him, why would she wait until now to do so? There was nothing to gain from waiting. The fact remained, they had both saved each other from a certain and violent death, and in that moment, a mutual bond was formed.
With his eyes still closed he smiled, as the image of her chased away the doubt. Was it fate? It had to be something! How else would she have transferred to the prison the very day that Hell descended on Earth, and he was the only thing that saved her? His smile faded, as he replayed the events of yesterday, in his mind.
The overcrowded cafeteria seethed with raw violence. As the prison inmates jostled and clamoured for somewhere to sit and eat, a few were forced to stand; holding a hard plastic plate with one hand, and eating with the other, they leaned against the wall, or stood wherever possible to find some serenity in a whirlwind of chaos.
The building had seen better days, as whole tiles were missing from the floor, and peeling paint on the walls crumbled at the slightest touch, exposing the ugly grey cement that comprised most of the ancient building. Even the metal refused to shine, growing mould and mildew over the rust.
Many of the hallways and rooms in the huge facility were unused. Most of the furniture from previous inhabitants, remained in the very spot they were left. Rumour had it, the original gallows still hung in the abandoned wing from an era long past; Canada's last execution was decades ago, yet the rope and equipment was speculated to still be intact. - Only the ghosts visited the death chamber now.
Joel glanced around the room. It had taken months of planning, and today was the big day! Only five men sworn to secrecy knew of the daring plan, but it would take a riot to ensure success; the prison break would go largely unnoticed if a much larger diversion occurred. Detain the guards, and disable the communications, and then make to the river behind the prison grounds. Everything had to be perfect, or the whole plan wouldn't work. In order to escape into the sewer pipes, they had to pick the only day the pipes were being flushed, and the only time the guards were all on duty, was during lunch hour. The plan was perfect. Then, a month before the planned escape, one of the men worked in the upper offices, told the other four about a large safe that had recently been installed. After piecing together a few of the errant scraps from the garbage pails, it was discovered that a vast sum of money was being given to the prison a few days before the proposed escape. After that, the mood of the men involved changed dramatically; from a mere passing interest, to focusing on the money as the most important part of the plan. - Break out of prison, make for the river, buy five plane tickets to a country that didn't check passports, and live like Kings.
The topic of killing the guards arose once money became involved. Joshua, the leader of the group, quietly announced to others, “Having thought about it, it only makes sense to have to kill off the bastards. A live witness to a prison revolt where a few guys get loose is one thing. It's expected. But when you go and suddenly take a bunch of money, and start hitching a ride out of the country, the pigs start to get a little overambitious. Kill the guards, destroy the evidence, and get the fuck out before anyone knows there's a problem”. After that, Joel started watching the guards carefully, trying to know each one by name. He had a major problem with simply taking someone's life, but was outvoted when he brought up the topic. He was granted one concession, he would not be directly responsible for the killing of the prison guards; one of the other men would happily perform that task. No one questioned his motive, or reluctance to kill the men that were his captors, at least not to his face. So, each day he talked, and conducted niceties to those that tormented him; learning their names, about their family, and other personal information. Somehow, it only seemed fair, and justified. The task would now have to fall to someone else if the only way for the plan to work, was to slaughter the guards.
The five men ate in silence. They had to wait for the perfect moment to strike. Once that siren went off, every single guard with the exception of two, would come rushing to the cafeteria. The remaining two men stayed in the secure video room, which was locked behind an eight centimetre-thick steel door. Naturally, it was assumed that no one could forcibly enter the electronically locked door, however, the design flaw in the installation forgot to take into account that the panel box that supplied electricity to the door locks were in the common room, right beside the cafeteria. The first thing the men had to do was break the glass, unlock the security door, and simply turn off the power. Two men would race towards the security room, disable the communication system, and shut down the surveillance. The plan depended on speed, and surprise.
The other two major flaws in the old building were based on the same problem; when the building was brought up to city code just over a decade ago, they had no choice but to install the communication network and weapons locker in the only sealed off room available; the video surveillance room. The plan called for total blackout within thirty seconds, and communication disruption in under two minutes.
Joel sighed nervously; almost time to start. It was decided that since he would not be in charge of any actual killing, the responsibility of starting the prison riot fell upon his shoulders. He rolled his eyes at the prospect of what was to come. Under his breath, he muttered, “Oh, this is going to hurt!” He sighed again.
Suddenly the common room door opened, and she walked in. Her uniform was snug, and every man stared as she sashayed into the room to the chorus of catcalls, and marriage proposals. Her long, red hair flowed down her neck; her eyes sparkled and danced as she smiled. Joel watched, mesmerized by the sudden appearance of this beautiful woman. She glanced around the room, and walked over to the serving counter, picked up a tray, and began to serve herself. As he stared at the new prison guard, a thought suddenly flashed through his mind; they are going to kill ALL the guards. A shiver went down his spine as he realized the implications of a good looking woman, in a full-blown, violent, prison riot. He swallowed hard as a sudden cold sweat broke over him. Frustrated and feeling helpless, his mind swam in fear. He glanced up again at the strange woman, and back to the clock hanging on the wall.
Joel's heart skipped a beat. His stomach rolled from the nervous tension building, and the adrenaline was already making him shake slightly. His breath began to quicken, and he glanced around at his cohorts in panic. He mouthed at Joshua, “What now?” nodding towards the woman.
A sadistic smirk told him everything he already knew.
There was something about this woman. A nagging, cloying sensation dug at his chest, and Joel was frustrated at the sudden turn of events. “Why today?!” he seethed through clenched teeth.
One minute. The sewer pipes would be freshly flushed, and all the guards were now eating, or patrolling the cafeteria and common room. It was now or never. The truth was, he really didn't feel like hurting anyone, and with the arrival of this woman, he desperately wanted to abandon the plan. If it was up to him, he would have quietly called the whole thing off. Instead he stood up.
The clock struck noon, and right on cue, Joel sucker punched the leader of a rival faction. Like a firecracker in a pond, the ripples exploded in all directions; tables erupted, flipped over, and men instantly jumped to their feet. The room roared with violence, and the prison guards were instantly engulfed in a nightmare. In mere seconds, a droning alarm wailed, a red strobe light pulsed, and a voice crackled over the intercom, “We've got a riot in the common room. Lock that down! All security to the common room!”
Exactly as planned, the security door to the cafeteria opened, and the first guard through the door was greeted by a chair to the face. Stepping over the unconscious man, Vern, the shortest member of the group, grinned at his handiwork, “Allow me to introduce myself”, he mocked, bending over and taking the keys out of the bald man's pocket. He glanced quickly into the open doorway, and darted inside. “I'm a man of wealth and taste......”, he smirked.
The lights went out, and the room was plunged into darkness. The safety lights had been unplugged for several days, and the batteries thoroughly drained. Right on cue, Joshua attacked the overwhelmed guards, taking their keys, walki-talkies, and weapons, while the remaining two men, Ben, and Lenard, raced through the unlocked door toward the security room.
Joel pulled himself out from under the pile of wrestling bodies. His nose was bleeding, and he was quite beaten, but he was still alive. In the chaos and darkness, he pushed his way towards the last place he saw the female guard standing before the lights went out. His job was to help Joshua round up the remaining prison guards anyway, so he figured he would start with the woman. He closed his eyes, and tried hard to feel his way through the storm raging around him. After about thirty seconds, he opened his eyes, and tried to peer into the darkness. A sliver of light from the overhead ventilation shaft, filtered into the middle of the room.
She was pressed against the wall. Armed with only a chair and a nightstick, she bravely fought off the men lunging at her. A few of the inmates lay at her feet, groaning and holding their head, or cradling a broken limb. She was frightened, alone, and pinned in a corner.
As Joel slowly approached, he tried to reason with her, “Look Miss, everything is going to be just fine”. He held his empty hands, trying to indicate that he meant no harm, and that he was unarmed. Suddenly, a screaming inmate ran past the woman, flailing wildly. A loud crack was heard over the roar of the violence, as the sleek, black, baton in the female guard's hand connected with the inmate's forehead, and instantly pitched him on his back. The man groaned, twitched, and went limp; a trail of blood oozing from his face. Joel reeled from the swift, well trained woman wielding the deadly weapon, and backed up slowly, “Listen”, he growled in what he hoped was a comforting tone, “I'm actually trying to help you”.
She lunged at Joel with her nightstick, rocking him back on his heels. “Fuck you! You piece of shit!” she hissed. Falling back to the wall, she brandished the chair as a shield again, and waited for an attack. Sweat dripped from her brow, and she unconsciously wiped her face with the back of her sleeve. Her heart beat in terror; she could barely see, and although she was highly trained in self defence, she was fighting for her life, in a room full of rapists, and killers.
Several gunshots echoed through the room. Instinctively, everyone froze and ducked. In a sudden rush, Joel flew at the female guard, knocking the chair from her left hand, and grabbed her right arm, pinning her weapon. The two bodies slammed into the cement wall, and the woman clamped down hard with her teeth on Joel's neck. Almost reactionary, he headbutted her hard. The crunching blow caused her eyes to roll back in her head, and she almost fell over from the blow.
Gunfire erupted again from the common room. As he wrestled with one of the guards, Joshua glanced over at the open door to the security hallway, and tried to see who was firing the handgun. He could barely make out the armed guard in the shadow of the door, when suddenly Vern appeared behind the gunman. Grinning madly, Vern jammed a stun gun into the back of the guard's head, and pulled the trigger, discharging a half million volts. The guard hit the floor in a split second, and lay writhing on the cement, as Vern scooped up the gun.
Joel reached up where she had bit him on the neck, and pulled his hand away with blood on it. “Son of a bitch!”, he cursed through clenched teeth. He growled, this time more fiercely, “Look you stupid bitch, I'm trying to help you make it out of here alive!” He suddenly doubled over, moaning in pain, as her knee caught him in the groin. A solid uppercut, followed by a prompt strike to the head with the nightstick, left Joel on the ground.
By the time he finally regained conscientiousness, the lights were back on. The cafeteria was a disaster; bodies lay strewn throughout the debris. He looked around groggily, and suddenly the stark cold reality hit him like a hammer. He stood up as quickly as his wobbly legs allowed, and staggered over to the open door of the common room. There were four dead inmates, and two dead guards; everyone else was gone. He stepped over the body of the guard in the doorway, and carefully made his way towards the hallway on the other side of the room. A gunshot rang out from the hall. The door was slightly open, and Joel could hear voices coming from the hallway. Cautiously, he peered around the door.
Joshua had all the prison guards on their knees, lined up against the wall. He was recklessly waving a gun around, threatening to kill anyone that moved, while Vern was making his way up the row of men and women, and shooting them point blank in the back of the head. One by one, he would torment, tease, and then execute the guard; laughing at anyone crying, praying, or begging for mercy. With a sudden shock, Joel realized that the red-headed woman was next in line, and without even thinking about it, walked over and deliberately stood in front of her.
He pleaded, “Joshua! Listen, we might need some of these people alive!” The words seemed to fall on deaf ears, as no one even barely noticed him, let alone the fact that he was speaking. Joel could hear the soft sobs coming from the woman, and his heart was breaking; kneeling, facing the cement wall, her hair was a mess, and her clothing torn. He could barely stand the raw violence, but there was something more to this woman. He knew he had to act, so he grabbed her by the back of the head, and pulled her to him. “Listen”, he demanded, “We need to keep some of these people alive as hostages”.
Vern paused and stared at him, bloodlust clouding his eyes; he was even more deranged than usual, and literately drooling. “What are you doing, man? Get out of the way, so I can kill that stupid bitch!”, he snapped. He waved his gun at Joel's face. He slathered on, “I'll kill you too, man! I'll do it”. He pointed the end of the barrel straight between Joel's eyes.
“Vern!”, Joshua demanded, “Put the gun down”. He waved at Vern as if dismissing the notion of killing a member of the group. He explained, “We are not going to start killing each other. Not now. Not over some dumb bitch”. He scowled at Joel, but added, “If the asshole wants to keep himself a bit of a prize, who are we to deny him?” He smiled sadistically. “Besides, who doesn't like a like a good snuggle struggle now and then”.
Ben nervously walked over to Joshua, and in a low voice asked, “We really need hostages?” He chewed on a dirty fingernail, spat on the ground, and added, “We found the safe, but has anyone asked what the combination is?” He stood there waiting for some response, and then quipped, “It's kinda important”.
Joshua glanced over at Vern, and waved for him to stop. “Stop killing the guards, and see if you can figure out which one knows the combination to the safe in the office”
Vern sneered, “Well, I know it's not these two losers”. He pointed at two of the younger guards near the end, dramatically strode over behind them, and shot them both in the back of the head. “Wooo! Lookit the pimply guards pop!”
Joshua cleared his throat and growled at Vern, “The next time you shoot another person without me telling you to”, he paused and pointed at the deranged gunman, “I'll drop you like a lead fart”. Turning back to Ben, he directed, “You and Lenard figure out which one of these pigs knows how to get into that safe”. He pointed at Joel, “You wanna get your jollies, go do it somewhere else. Just don't go down to the lower levels until we are ready”. Joshua dramatically barked, “We work, as a TEAM! We finish this, as a TEAM. We ALL get out of here, as a team”. He turned his head to make sure that everyone acknowledged him, one by one. He walked over and placed his hand on Vern's shoulder, and calmly directed, “Take the rest of the guards to the holding cells in the upper level”. As an afterthought, he added, “No more die, right?”
Vern nodded his head in disappointment, and screamed, “Alright you pieces of crap!” He smacked the closest guard with the butt of his handgun, “Get on your feet and start walking!” Slowly, the remaining guards stood up, humbly turned , and shuffled toward the gun-toting inmate. As each one passed him, he slapped or punched them in the head. He screamed again, “Move it you bastards! You know where the drunk tank is!” Ben and Lenard joined in the abuse; shoving, and pushing the remaining men down the hall.
Joshua turned and flashed a smile at Joel, who was still holding the female guard by the back of the neck. “Do what you want with that bitch, but when you're done, either kill her, or take her to Vern”, he instructed. Purposely, he walked up to her and dramatically kissed the tips of his fingers, and pressed them hard against her forehead. He pushed her head back, and sneered, “After all, she's no use to us. Just showed up today”. He smiled and shrugged, “Have fun”
Joel pulled her in the direction of the common area. As they passed by the glass windows of the various rooms, he could see the carnage of the riot. Broken shelves, glass, chairs, tables, and anything else that wasn't nailed down, was destroyed! Doors were ripped off the heavy metal hinges. One of the inmates had been thrown through a large plate glass window, and blood was splattered all over the floor and walls. Joel could feel the woman struggling to hold back her fear as they passed through the steel and glass doors, pushed past the dead guards in the doorway, and walked into the empty cafeteria. As they carefully made their way into the middle of the room, he gave her a slight push, and stepped back a step. She stumbled, and fell into one of the metal tables, barely catching herself. Slowly, she turned her head to stare at Joel. Her lower lip quivering, she quietly asked, “Is this the part where you rape me?” Her eyes were swollen, and tears fell unchecked down her face. She sniffled, and cocked her head when he didn't answer her, merely standing quietly, watching. Her eyes narrowed, and she growled, “You piece of crap! I should have ripped your balls off when I had the chance!”
Joel cleared his throat, suddenly feeling a lump in his throat. He sighed, and calmly stated, “I told you, I'm trying to save your life”. He kept his hands at his side, and shrugged. He could see the woman slightly relax, but her eyes were a whirlwind of confusion. He added, “I'm NOT going to rape you”. He raised his finger and pointed at her menacingly, “But! If anyone asks, you better play along, and claim otherwise”. Quietly he asked, “What's your name?”
She let go of the table and stood up straight. Her face was taut with worry, but she relaxed a bit, and hesitantly answered, “Brandy”. Chewing on her lower lip, she stared at Joel. “What are you going to do with me?” she whispered. She reached up and wiped her tear-stained cheeks.
Joel shook his head, and blinked hard. He swallowed, and cleared his throat again. Everything about this woman intrigued him; her eyes, her hair, and even the way her chest rose and fell with each nervous breath. He smiled nervously as he looked deep into her amazing eyes, and suddenly felt weak. He stammered, “I, umm.... I really don't know, Brandy”.
Her voice became pitched, “What do you MEAN you don't know?!” She glared through the sudden tears, and picked up a glass from the table. She pitched her arm back, and threw it hard, whipping it past Joel's head. The glass shattered against the wall.
Joel tried to smile, but instead just closed his eyes. He swallowed hard, and a tear slid down his cheek. He opened his eyes, and sniffed; the lump in his throat caused his voice to break as he spoke, “I just want to go home. I don't belong here.” His shoulders slumped, and he sighed as though defeated.
Brandy took a step towards him, and slapped him across the face hard. “Look you son of a bitch. I'm not sure what's going on, but you better figure this shit out right now!”
Joel didn't move. The sting of the slap made his eyes water again, and he gritted his teeth. He nodded, and quietly stated, “We need to find a quiet corner for about half an hour”. He shrugged, and added, “Give us some time to figure out our next move”. Determinately he gently took her by the hand, and pulled her towards him. They both stared into each others eyes, and he calmly said, “But, no matter what, we get out of here together, OK?”
“And what about your buddies?”
Joel nodded in determination, “Let me worry about my buddies”. He smiled; suddenly feeling clumsy as he stared at her. He blushed, and his eyes dropped to the floor in embarrassment.
Brandy wrapped him up, and kissed him; Joel pulled his head back in shock. She flashed a smile, and he felt his knees grow weak again. She whispered, “For luck”.
They raced down the hall, hand in hand, and soon found themselves in front of a locked metal door. Brandy fished into her pocket, dug out her keys, and unlocked the security door. “Quick”, she demanded, “In here”. She practically pulled him into the room, and locked the door.
Joel looked around in confusion.“The janitor room?”
“Yes. The janitor's room”. Brandy locked the door. She picked up a broom, snapped the handle in half, and wedged it as hard as she could under the door.
“But, we're trapped”. Joel waved his hand to indicate the small, cluttered room. A row of metal lockers stood silently against one of the cement walls, and the other two were lined with rusty metal shelves, bustling with an array of cleaning supplies. There was no way out, except the way they came in; the solid grey steel door.
Brandy pushed him out of the way, walked over to a large pail of soap, and sat down. She cocked her head, and admitted, “True, there's no way out”. She jingled her keys. “But, no one knows where we are, and it gives us time to figure this out”, she stated. Shaking her head in disbelief, she muttered, “This'll teach me to start a new job”.
“Nothing”. Brandy stretched, sighed, and shrugged, “I wasn't supposed to even be here today. I'm just a temp. I'm the one that delivered the money this morning, because my coworker called in sick”. She shoved another pail of industrial soap with her foot towards Joel. “Come on, sit down”. She took a deep breath, and asked, “Look, why can't we just wait this out, and let those other guys do what they want?”
Joel pulled his head back in shock. His mind raced as he thought about the implications of simply waiting for the storm to pass. Shaking his head unconsciously, he replied, “You could. I can't”.
“Because I don't belong here, and I'll die trying to escape this hell!”, he snapped. Joel walked over, and sat down on the pail, facing Brandy. He took her hands in his, and much more softly added, “Look. I know you're not going to believe me, but I'm innocent”. He stared deep into her eyes and explained, “I was locked up for murder, except, I didn't do it”.
Brandy pulled her head back, and squinted as she thought aloud, “You know what? I actually believe you”. She squeezed his hands, to emphasis her concern, and smiled with encouragement. “I'm not really sure why, but I believe you”, she stated, shaking her head in amazement as she giggled slightly. She was suddenly quiet, and she squeezed Joel's hands again for reassurance, then gently asked, “How long do you have?”
Joel smiled weakly, and replied simply; “Life”.
“Oh”. She let go of his hands, and ran her fingers through her dishevelled hair. Brandy took a deep breath, and slowly exhaled. “That does kind of change things”, she stated.
Joel agreed, “So, you see why I need to take this chance to get the hell out of here?”
“Kind of”, Brandy quipped. Suddenly she sat up straight, cleared her throat, and appeared confused. “Wait!”, she chirped, “You claimed you never killed anyone, and yet, here you are helping others kill people. I saw you start the whole thing...”.
“It's not like that”, Joel interrupted. He conceded, “Yes, I was responsible for planning this little operation, but the original plan didn't call for anyone having to die”. He took a deep breath and launched into a full explanation, “The plan called for the guards to be subdued, and locked up. No one was supposed to kill anyone. But then we found out about a shipment of cash to be delivered”. He stopped as he too made a realization. Stammering, he blurted, “Hold the phone! Umm, you delivered the money today?”
Wrinkles creased her brow in worry, and sat back against the cement wall. She cleared her throat, and admitted, “Yea. Why?”
Joel sighed heavily, deep concern crossed his face. He stretched his arms in apprehension; his shoulders and back popping from the stress, stared straight at Brandy, and asked, “Do any of the guards still alive know you were the one that delivered the money?” He rocked back on the pail, and stated, “If they know that you had anything to do with the money, you can be sure that Vern will beat that information out of them”. He paused, and added, “They'll come straight for you!” He sighed at the revelation.
Brandy sat quietly, chewing on her lip as she thought aloud, “I'm not sure”. She stood up. crossed her arms, and began to pace back and forth in the tiny room. She nodded her head unconsciously as she continued to explain, “I really don’t know anyone's name. K, let me see.... “ She stopped in mid step, and shook her head. “No. They shot the Warden. And the number two.”, she stated dryly.
Joel watched, his face flushed at the magnificence of this woman; she was intoxicating! Every fibre of his being ached to kiss her again! It was more than the lust of a beautiful woman; more than mere desire! Her smile made him blush, her spunk made him giddy, her body...... Joel shook his head trying to clear the sultry images that caused his heart to quicken.
“I've got the combination to the safe”, she blurted, “I'm the only one that knows it.”
“What?” Joel stood up, and crossed his arms in disbelief. He shook his head, and queried, “Say that again?” He walked over to the metal shelves that bulged with boxes and jars of bleach, acid, soap, and other types of industrial cleaners. He brushed off a bit of the flaking rust from the cleanest part of the metal frame, and wiped his hand on the prison issue blue jeans. He leaned against the shelf, and sighed heavily.
“I've got the combination”, Brandy repeated. She continued to pace in silence, and chewed on her lower lip; her thoughts churning.
If they only knew what was going on, in each others mind.
The dripping of the leaking tap in the corner was the only sound. As they both absorbed the horrors of the last hellish hour in silence, the drumming of the water became overwhelming; Brandy broke the silence first. “I have the combination to the safe. I delivered the money this morning, and watched the Warden open the safe”. She smirked, “He was so busy flirting with me, I don't think he realized he was talking out loud when he unlocked it. 36, 22, 34.”
Joel burst out laughing. “Is that your measurements, or the combination to the safe?” he chuckled.
Brandy smirked. “Both”, she chirped. Giggling she walked over to stand in front of Joel, and playfully chided, “Why do you think I remembered so easily?” She placed her hand on her hip, and pretend to pout when Joel suddenly howled! The laughter was infectious, and soon, both were giggling
Joel wheezed, “Stop! My belly hurts from laughing so much!” His whole body shook as he tried hard to contain his mirth and giddiness. Tears streaked down his face. He breathed hard, “Woo! OK....Must. Stop. Laughing!”
Brandy too was nearly doubled over from the levity. She was crying form laughing so hard, and she wiped her tear stained face; her mascara now ran down her cheeks like a raccoon. Joel reached out with his hand, and gently wiped some of the makeup away with his thumb. H cleared his throat, “You uuuum...You have a little something...”
They stared quietly at each other, and she reached out to take him by the hand. He tenderly ran his fingers over her perfect skin, on the back of her hand. They both smiled shyly, neither saying a word.
Instantly, their lips met. The tumble of bodies crashing into the metal shelf, knocked over some of the contents. Joel felt the sharp metal of the shelf dig into his back, so he braced himself, as Brady pulled him close. She threw her head back, and giggled at the sudden explosion of passion. “Sorry”, she mumbled, her face suddenly flush from excitement.
[This is was an enjoyable book to write. I would like to dedicate this book, to the woman of MY dreams! It was my first "romance scene", and I was super critical. . I hope you enjoy reading the rest of the book - BUY IT NOW!!]