The Romance Writer (Part 5): Write Me Out of This
The morning light was just starting to make a dent in the night fog when Cherie awoke. She was curled up in a fetal position, hugging her pillow to her chest. Just yesterday morning she had her arms around Mike.
She allowed herself one moment – well, okay, two or three moments, to remember what that morning felt like, what his hands, his lips, his tongue – felt like. The way he played with her nipples, rubbing them lightly between his thumb and forefinger until they were hard, licking them, while his hands roved lower. How it felt when he was stroking her thighs, caressing her buttocks, brushing his fingers lightly, teasingly against her pussy. How it felt when he put a finger or two inside her, how silky and wet she got as he found the right spot, as he lowered his lips to kiss her belly, inching them lower and lower, making soft circles with his tongue. The way he would making small, light little nibbles with his lips on her clit; how it when he lapped at her with his tongue. And then – how it felt when she climbed on his cock, or he thrust inside her – on top, from behind, from the side – every inch of her tingling with wanting him. She was tingling now. Oh, no, this had to stop.
She got up abruptly. It had already stopped.
There was something he was lying about, and she would not be lied to.
She stepped over to her window and looked outside. The van was still there. She couldn’t see anyone inside it, but she still had the unmistakable feeling that someone was in there, and watching her.
Mike was awake all night, down at the dock, watching Nathan board a shiny yacht. He waited until the night fishermen pulled out to sea and only then crept onto the yacht, planting a bug as close to a lit-up porthole as he could, hoping he guessed right that there was some kind of chatter going on in there.
And there was. It took most of the night, but he finally got what was more or less a full story. Nathan and Tanner were planning to build condos on the conservancy land, as both literal and figurative cover for a massive drug smuggling operation. The boat Nathan had asked about chartering would be to transport it.
All Tanner needed was a remote setting with a natural landing spot, deep water close to shore. He’d found that, and he had a construction crew ready to rock.
Everything was in place except for the approval of the conservancy board that owned the parcel. Most of them had relented, done in by reduced conservancy donations that left maintaining the entire land grant more difficult. They were ready to sell a part of nature to the highest bidder in order to preserve the rest of their trust. There was only one hitch, a lone holdout on the board: Cherie’s father.
“So, we’re still a go for the pickup today?” Nathan’s voice showed the strain of a long night.
“We’ve let this drag on too long all ready. Sometimes the most direct method works best.”
“And after I take her, do you want her alive?”
“Of course. The father’s not going to hand over the land if she isn’t.”
“How long are you going to give him?” Nathan asked. “To sign the paperwork?”
“And after the land comes through?”
“By the end of this they’ll all know too much,” Tanner said.
Mike called Adam as he was sprinting back along the dock to his car. There was no question now what had to be done. He had to tell her the truth, scoop her up to safety, and do the same for the rest of her family. And then hope the evidence he had gathered would be enough to keep Nathan and Tanner long out of commission.
Cherie felt she was being ridiculous even as she did the ridiculous thing. She took the elevator down to the basement of her building, and unlocked the laundry room door that led to the alley. For most of the week, the door was blocked by the building’s dumpster, but this was trash day, and preparing for that, the landlord had wheeled the thing closer to the curb, making this the perfect escape route.
Better to be safe than sorry; no one had to know where she was going, or that she’d left her apartment. If the van was still there when she came home again she’d call the police.
But now she just wanted to take a walk on the beach and clear her head.
Mike kept calling, leaving messages that it was “urgent” that he speak to her; he texted her, too, multiple times. She turned her phone off, ignoring him for now.
She wanted to call him, she really did. She wanted to hear the sound of his voice. She wanted him to say something that would make everything okay. But would he? From the moment when she first told him she wrote stories, and he said “I know,” she’d been suspicious. But the way he touched her, their insane chemistry made her ignore her own gut.
She was not going to succumb to any more of his charm. She had to be firm in her resolve.
And yet she could feel the heat of his touch still on her skin. She longed for the reckless abandon of him taking her on the lighthouse floor.
If she’d brought her laptop with her, she’d move Suzanne and Jake into the bedroom, where they would stand naked before a full-length mirror, and Suzanne would watch as Jake took her from behind, drink it all in, the visual memory of it, as his hands held her close and his dick moved in and out of her pussy, as he lifted her in his arms and took her again, up against the wall, their bodies locked, their eyes closed, that moment when they both came at once, then stood there, gasping at the power of it, her arms wrapped around his neck, her legs around his ass…
Maybe she needed to write something not at all erotic for a while. She did have a proposal to finish up at the conservancy. A change of scene might be just the thing.
She thought about driving, but she still wanted a walk, and it was a beautiful sunny day.
The conservancy office was quiet, her desk was right by the window overlooking the harbor, and she immersed herself in finishing the grant request she’d started days ago. Before Mike dropped into her life…
Why did her thoughts keep circling back to him?
In her book, she’d have Jake pull Suzanne tight against his chest.
“I know you think I’ve been lying. And I have. But there’s a reason.”
“Is there?” Suzanne could feel his hard, muscular chest, and how his cock was, even now, growing large and hard as he pressed up against her. She could hear his heart beating, and hers. Their lips were so close, and all she wanted to do was kiss him. Feel his lips moving from hers to her neck, her shoulders, her chest; feel him kissing her breasts, her hips, her thighs…
But she wouldn’t give in. “So what is the reason? Tell me, or I’m leaving, even without my clothes.”
“You just have to trust me, I swear. And everything’s going to be all right.”
Still Suzanne waited for more, but the only reason she got, the only reason that was necessary after all, was the firm pressure of his lips against hers. She couldn’t help herself, she ran her hands over his body, caressing every inch of him. Desire. This was the only truth that mattered.
But desire alone didn’t work in reality. She shook off the fantasty.
This grant was important, it was one way her father could continue to hold out against an offer from a developer whose background was, he said, unsavory. So, she focused. There were things – like the land her father fought to preserve – that were more important than her love life. But at the moment, it didn’t feel that way.
To say Mike was unhappy when Cherie didn’t answer her door was an understatement, but he was less happy still when he’d secured the key from the landlord and found she wasn’t at home.
Still, it didn’t look as if she’d left under duress, her purse was gone, her laptop neatly closed, and neither Nathan or Tanner had left the dock. All the same —
“How could you lose her?” he raged at Adam.
“I didn’t know there was another exit. I checked out the basement last night, and the door was blocked by the dumpster.”
“But it was moved this morning.”
“How could I see that? Do I have x-ray vision around the sides of buildings like Superman or Batman or whoever it is that has that power?”
Adam was upset too, and Mike decided to let it go. There were more important things to do right this minute than give his partner a hard time.
“You go out to her father’s place, and stay with him. If she’s there, let me know. Tell the local authorities what’s going on, too. I’m gonna find her.”
“Are you going to be alright?” Adam asked.
“When I find her I will be.”
He started with the coffee house, cruised along the beach, and once Adam had checked in that Cherie’s father was home alone, he drove to the conservancy office. She’d said she did work for them sometimes, maybe she was working today, even though it was a Saturday.
When she finished the final section of the grant, she stood up and stretched before going back to proof it.
She knew she was alone, the silence here – except for the slight gurgling of a fish tank in the lobby – was complete, but she felt that odd prickle, the way she had when she saw the van outside her window last night, as if someone was watching her from a distance. She looked around her. She peered out the window. If someone was watching, it had to be through binoculars or something. There wasn’t a person in sight. It was probably all in her head. Just like the idea that she’d found the great love of her life was all in her head.
And suddenly she wanted to cry. She had to get out of here. She had to call Mike, and meet him somewhere and demand to know what was going on.
She stalked across the office, and threw the door open – to Mike.
He was so glad to see her. He wanted to take her in his arms and just kiss her, kiss her until he could make her see how much he cared.
The seething fire in her eyes told him she wasn’t quite as glad to see him.
“Who are you?” she demanded.
He saw the anger and the fear in her eyes. She took a step back into the office, and he followed her, closing the door behind them.
“Don’t be afraid, Cherie, not of me. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t tell you the truth. I’m working with the FBI,” Mike said. “I’m here to protect you.”
“Protect me by lying to me?” she asked, her voice rising.
“Cherie. I never expected to fall for you. I never imagined I would be holding you in my arms, kissing you, touching you, or the way you’d make me feel. I don’t want to stop feeling that. But right now, we can’t talk about this.”
“You fell for me? Is that what you said?”
“Yes, don’t you know that?”
“I don’t know anything about you,” she said, turning away from him.
“I need to take you into protective custody now. We can sort out everything between us later.”
“Protective custody? Why?”
“I’ll explain it all later. I have to get you some place safe. I should’ve done it sooner. I just didn’t want to hurt you. I was hoping everything would be resolved, and I could tell you in my own time -”
“You quoted lines from my books. You’ve been playing me.”
“I wasn’t playing you,” he protested, although at the start, he just wanted to put that bug in Nathan’s wall, and then everything else, well, that was real.
“Working with the FBI,” she said. “No wonder you ‘know’ everything about me.”
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“None of this is an excuse to lie to me.” She couldn’t let that go.
“No, no excuse. But what I haven’t lied about is how much I care about you. Last night, on the beach, being with you was one of the best moments of my life. Touching you, kissing you, the way your skin felt against mine.”
Even now he couldn’t stop himself from reaching for her, taking her hand in his, and as soon as he did that, as soon as he felt her, he couldn’t stop touching her.
He was rubbing his thumb across her hand, holding onto her, and she looked at him, and she saw it on his face. It was true; he meant it. It was one of her best moments, too, at least until he blew it. But she didn’t want to tell him any of that. Still, she moved closer and looked up into his eyes.
His gaze was so open, so intense. But she had to ask him everything – why did he want to take her into protective custody? What was going on –
But she said nothing, because he kissed her.
And everything stopped.
She knew from the feel of his lips, from the electric energy that moved between them, she knew he wasn’t lying about how he felt. And she wasn’t lying either.
Everything just had to wait for a moment. Her whole body suddenly felt as if it was on fire. The heat was overwhelming.
For a moment, he just kissed her. Then he was pulling her against him, their bodies locked together, as his lips moved down her neck, to her clavicle, her chest, her breasts…
She wanted him to strip her down right there in the empty lobby of the office building.
His hands roved beneath her skirt, and he moved her back against the reception desk, still kissing her. She knew she should tell him to stop but she could not.
He was stroking her hips, her thighs. She was reaching for his belt, unbuckling, unzipping – there he was, hard and ready. He lifted her skirt and pulled her panties down her legs. She grabbed his cock in her hand and pushed him inside her, lifted her legs around him – the way she’d written Suzanne and Jake doing. He bent his head to kiss her breasts through the fabric of her dress, he rubbed her nipples with his palms.
They moved together, making the desk shove back against the wall, clutching at each other as if they’d almost lost what they had, and they almost did.
She cried out as she came, and he came, too, and for a moment they just stayed as they were, trying to catch their breath.
Then, as if the act was painful, he stepped away from her, smoothed her dress.
“This is crazy. We have to stop. I have to get you some place safe,” he said. “I don’t want to lose you.”
So now she asked him. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“As soon as we’re safe.” He snatched his phone from his pocket and said, simply, “We’re coming in.”
And then he grabbed her hand, and pulled her toward the door.
But as he opened it, Nathan rushed him.
He was built like a tree. Mike wasn’t used to being so ineffectual. He pushed himself forward, going for the guy’s gut, his groin, but he the guy kept knocking him down until he couldn’t get up.
How long it lasted, he wasn’t sure, but it was all he could do to stay conscious. Through blurred eyes, he saw Nathan – and some other guy, equally thick, hustle Cherie out of the room.
He’d checked the entire perimeter going in. Where had they come from? And where were they were taking her? He could hear them outside, arguing about something.
He tried to get up again, but his head was spinning. At last, on his hands and knees, he made his way to the door, the room still lurching around him.
In that split second, they had her in the back of an SUV. He lurched up, and ran after it, his hands touched the doors as it skidded across the parking lot, and for a moment, he hung on. But then it picked up speed; he felt his grip slipping, and he fell in the dust.
He rolled to the side, every part of his body hurting, but that pain meant nothing compared to the pain he felt as he watched the SUV careen down the highway. He’d lost her.
Come on Cherie, think, she said to herself. If she was one of the characters in her books how would she write herself out of this, and back into the arms of her hero? Write me out of this.
Suzanne and Jake were good at having sex in wonderfully unlikely times and places – but unlike her, Suzanne didn’t end up being kidnapped, and Jake didn’t end up lying in a parking lot.
She had to look for something to help her escape. She’d rather throw herself out of a moving vehicle than take her chances with these guys. The SUV lurched onto a backroad, and she wasn’t sure where she was or how long it had been since one of them put something over her mouth and nose.
She needed something sharp, something she could at least loosen the ropes they’d bound her with. She looked around for anything she could use. But there was nothing. The only thing in the back of the SUV was her.
Could she use the door handles in the back as a way to cut through the ropes? They didn’t look sharp, but maybe on the inside there would be a rough spot that could provide some friction.
Or, why bother taking the time to untie herself? If she rolled to the back of the van, maybe she could simply spring the door lock and open it and fall out. Wouldn’t someone would stop for a tied-up woman lying on the ground? It was a chance she had to take.
She waited until the SUV took another bounce, hard, and used the momentum from it to hurl herself back against the doors. Her body hit with a louder thud than she’d intended. She froze and closed her eyes again. She didn’t want the guys to know she was trying to escape. Thank God, the sound of the van on the rough road was loud enough to cover what she’d done. Even so, she couldn’t do that again.
Instead, she squirmed her body up against the doors. Painfully, slowly she inched her way up against the door handle until she could grasp it with her bound fingers. She tried once, twice, three times. Sweat beaded up on her forehead and ran down the sides of her cheeks like tears. She could do this. It was a game of skill.
She arched her back. That did it. She felt the cool of the metal against her fingers. She strained, slowly drawing her fingers together, pushing up against the knob.
The lock make a satisfying little pop.
She was almost there. She would be free in a matter of moments. She held her breath, made a last, supreme effort, pulled the handle up, and the door unlatched.
She shoved her body weight hard against the door and it swung open—
Right into the face of some new ugly, scowling man three times her size.
Mike, she whispered to herself, please be all right. Find me.