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Authors: Mike Cooley

Tags: #paranormal romance

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BOOK: Alpha Male
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“It wasn’t easy. You’re heavy.” She rubbed her wrists and forearms.
 

“What is this?” I held up the glass. It was full of a blue liquid the color of windshield wiper fluid.

“Water and medicine. I stopped the bleeding, but with all that dirt and glass, you could still die of infection.”

“I’m not easy to kill.”

“I can see that.”

“My car?”

“Caught fire and exploded.”

“Fuck. My Zeppelin CDs were in there.”

“Sorry. I could only save one of you, so I left the CDs.”

I felt the scars on my face. The shards of glass were gone. “So you’re magic.”

“Empathic—with a little something extra.”

“And who were they? I saw a symbol. Hexagons.”

“The Daelius Group. I escaped from them.”

“What are they?”

“I’m not sure yet. Terrorists. Scientists. Bad guys.”

“I figured out the ‘bad guy’ part.” I drank the rest of the elixir. It felt warm going down and made my skin tingle.

“What did they do to you, Mel?”

“They tortured people. And made me save them when they went too far. And made me try when it was far too late.” Mel’s blue eyes were glassy. She looked at her hands like they were dripping blood.

“What else?”

“Some of them. The worst ones. They—” She stopped and looked up. Her dark hair framed her pale face. I pulled her closer and wrapped my arms around her.

“You don’t have to tell me.”

“They raped me, Si. Over and over. Until I escaped.”

Her body shook.
 

“That’s not going to happen again, Mel. I promise you. I’ll make them pay.”

“I can’t let you go there, Silas. They’ll kill you.”

“Then we hide and go somewhere they will
never
find you again.” I held her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes.
 

“Okay.” Her voice was a whisper, and her eyes were full of questions she didn’t speak. “But you are in danger just being with me.”

“Life is danger. They surprised me. The next surprise will be mine.” I released her and clenched my fists. My expression was defiant.
 

“Thanks for saving me, Mel. I would have died there. How did you know?”

“I saw their truck in town. I wanted to hide—run away. But when they headed toward the cemetery, I couldn’t just let them. I knew you would be there. I couldn’t just walk away. So I followed.”

“You’re a good girl.” I took her hands in mine and held them.
 

“I’m lucky I went to see Gary that night. The night we met. I’m a very lucky girl.”

I lifted her chin with a soft touch. “And beautiful. Very beautiful.”

The Plan

I stood up and felt the room spin around me counterclockwise. Mel jumped to her feet and grabbed me. “What are you doing? You’re still too weak.”

“We need to get out of here, Mel. Before they find you. Is there a store nearby? Where’s your car?”

“What do you need? I’ll go.”
 

“Supplies. Do you have a duffle bag?”

“Over there.” Mel pointed to the corner of the room near the refrigerator.
 

I stumbled over, leaned down to grab the bag, and fell to my knees. “Fuck.”

“Si. I’m telling you you’re not ready.”
 

“I was born ready, babe.” I pulled the fridge open and grabbed an Olympia, then popped the can open and guzzled it. “Just need some vitamin B. That’s all.”

“Just tell me what we need, and I’ll go.” Mel crouched down and handed me another beer.
 

“Someone will see you. They think I’m dead…they won’t be looking for me.”

“You are a pig-headed one, aren’t you?”
 

“Pasco isn’t that big of a town, Mel. It won’t take them long to track you down. I can’t afford to rest yet.” I cracked the second beer and gulped.
 

“There’s a Safeway near. Walking distance. You look like hell, Silas.”

“Thanks, girl. You look nice too.” I grinned, pushed myself up off the floor and stood without swaying.

“You need money?”
 

I reached in my front pocket and pulled out some bills. “Got some, Mel. I’ll be back soon. Then we load up the car and get out of here before they find you.”

“I’m sorry I got you involved, Si. I just. I didn’t.”

“Shut the fuck up, Mel.” I pulled her close and squeezed until she gasped. The pain was incredible, but I didn’t let her see it.

“Do you know where they were holding you? How far away?”

“Ice Harbor Dam. Deep beneath it, I mean. It’s about fifteen miles from here.”

“You should have run further.”

“Gary would be alive and we never would have met.” Mel brushed the hair back out of her face and looked up at me. She was wearing a black button down shirt and blue jeans.
 

“Point.”

“I made some mistakes.”

“Everybody does.”

 
“I thought they would give up on looking for me if I stayed out of sight.”
 

 
“Stay here, Mel. Don’t open the door until you hear me.”

Mel nodded and let me out. I could hear the bolt click into place as she locked it. My torn leather jacket was gone. As were the rest of my clothes. She had dressed me in a Seahawks sweater and jeans. They were both too big. The Nikes fit, but they weren’t mine either.
 

I looked around and squinted at the sunlight. It was mid-afternoon, and Mel’s apartment was one of eight on the first floor of a run-down complex. There were railroad tracks nearby, and I could see the Safeway a block away to the west. It didn’t look like she was staying in the good part of town.
 

I leaned down and checked my face in the mirror of her red Neon. It was haggard and stubbled. It looked like she had tried to shave me while blindfolded. One of my eyebrows was partly burned off. There were little white scars where the shards of glass had been buried. My eyes looked scared. I blinked and told them to shut up.

I stood and looked around for silver trucks and masked men. There were none. I started walking in the direction of the grocery store while plans of escape swirled around in my head. One thought kept popping to the surface.
You’re in deep this time, Si. Deep.

Goodbyes

Mel watched me finish packing the items from the store into the duffle bag. “We’re going camping?”

“I know a place up in the mountains past Cle Elum. It’s primitive, but they shouldn’t be able to find us there.” I grabbed the lock-blade last and shoved it into the front left pocket of my jeans.
 

“So we’re leaving town?” Mel’s eyes met mine, and she acted like she hadn’t seen the knife.
 

“After I talk to Suzi. I can’t leave without saying goodbye.”

“They might be watching the graveyard.”
 

“They might be doing a lot of things. We need to stay a step ahead of them. What happened to Gary?” I lifted the duffle bag to see how heavy it was and set it down near the door.
 

“After I escaped from them, I met Gary. He hid me. That lasted for a few months. Then they—they found us. And—”

“If it’s too painful, I don’t need to know. I just thought maybe it would help me not make the same mistakes.”

“You should know. You deserve to know. So you can decide to leave without me.”

“Melanie. Don’t talk like that.”

Mel gathered herself and took a deep breath before speaking. “They tied my hands behind my back and held me so I couldn’t move. Then they brought Gary face to face with me. They wanted him to beg for his life, but he wouldn’t.”

I waited in silence for her to continue.
 

“I begged for his life. I told them I would do anything. That I wouldn’t try to escape anymore. That I would cooperate.” Her face drained of color, and her hands squeezed into fists.

“Then they shot him in the head.” Tears fell from Mel’s face as she relived every second.

“I’m so sorry, Mel.”
 

She nodded and wiped her eyes.
 

“Then they took you back to the dam?”

“No. When they let go of me to toss his body in a dumpster—like garbage—I ran. I ran like the devil was after me. I ran until I couldn’t breathe. I ran until the adrenaline made me throw up. Then I crawled into a drainage pipe and hid until dark.”

“You got away?”

“I don’t know how. But I did.”

“I’m sorry about Gary. He was a brave man. An honorable man.”

“I got him killed. Just like I’m going to get you killed.”

“It’s not your fault you’re special, Mel. And it’s my choice to help you. You think I can turn away because they are powerful? You don’t know me very well.”

“Thanks, Si.” Mel put on a brown coat, checked her pockets, and looked around the room for anything else she needed. “Time to go?”

“Time.”

I grabbed the duffle and led the way out the door. She opened the trunk of her Neon and I threw the bag in. Then she tossed me the keys and got in the passenger side.

“Graveyard?”

“Yeah, but I’m going the back way. We can park in the woods and walk the rest of the way, so they don’t spot your car. Do they know what your car looks like?”

“I don’t think so. I’ve changed cars and moved since…Gary.”

“But they might have seen it at the cemetery.”

“Yes.”

”Paranoia might keep us alive—and if it doesn’t, we won’t care.” I reached over and squeezed her knee, then smiled. “We’ll switch cars again as soon as we can.”

We drove in silence. I turned randomly on the way through town and watched the mirrors for any signs of pursuit. Once I was convinced we weren’t being followed, I headed toward the edge of town. It was late afternoon, and the sun was just going down. I pulled onto a gravel road and then off the road onto an overgrown, rutted trail. Once the road was out of sight, I parked. “Close enough.”

I got out of the car and walked around the front, then looked down at Mel. “You want to stay here while I talk to Suzi, or come along?”

“Do you mind if I come?” Mel looked up at me apprehensively.

“Of course not. Come on.” I opened her door and offered my hand. She took it and got out. The clouds in the sky were lighting up in reds and pinks as the sun dropped below the horizon.
 

I held her hand as we walked through the woods. The graveyard was south of the woods and up a hill from where we had parked. Mel picked wild flowers and looked at every tree like an enemy was hiding behind it. Every crack of a branch beneath our feet made her jump.

“We’re here.” The stand of poplar trees loomed over us. “Do you want to pay your respects to Gary while I explain things to dead girl?”

“Can you call her Suzi? That whole ‘dead girl’ thing creeps me out.”
 

I laughed. “Yes, Mel. I’ll go talk to Suzi. I won’t be long.”

“Okay, Si. Take these for her.” Mel handed me half of her flowers and gave me a shy smile. I took them.

I wound my way through the headstones and sat down at Suzi’s. I laid the flowers down beside me. The graveyard was empty, except for us, and there were no cars in the parking lot to the south.
 

“Hey, Suzi. Sorry I was gone.”

I waited and listened to the sound of the breeze through the trees.

“There was an accident. Well, I mean someone tried to kill me.”

Again I paused and closed my eyes.

“Yes, honey, I know. I’m okay.”

I rested my hand on the grass above her body.
 

“I’m glad you like her. I like her too.”

I listened while my hand traced the contours of Suzi’s headstone.
 

“I didn’t mean to miss any days, you know. I was cut open pretty bad.”

The gravestone was cool against my back.

“I’m going to have to go away for awhile. To help save her.”

I looked up at the sky. A pair of seagulls flew over. I listened for Suzi’s answer.

“Yes, I know.”

Mel had left Gary’s stone and worked her way closer to me. She sat down facing away, leaving Suzi and I our privacy.
 

“I love you, dead girl. I can’t stop.” I pressed my back against the stone and listened.

Then I answered again. “Yes, honey, I know. I promise I’ll take care of her.”

“You just stay right here, and I’ll come back if I can.”

“Yes, Suzi. Yes.”

“You always were smarter than me. Always.”

I pulled the knife out of my pocket and flipped it open. Then I carved a line starting from the inside of my left wrist up to my elbow. It filled with crimson. I let my blood spatter the grass where she lay sleeping and stood. I chipped another notch on the edge of her stone, next to all the others, and then started walking toward Mel.

Mountains

“How are you feeling, Mel? You’ve been pretty quiet.” I had just turned onto I-90 from I-82 in Ellensberg. Mel had offered to drive at Yakima, but I was restless and driving helped keep me calm. It was midnight, and I was sipping on a coffee from the last gas station.

“Just thinking. You see anyone following us?”

“Haven’t seen anyone. But I still think we should change cars in case they are tracking this one. Maybe we can change in Cle Elum.”

“That sounds good. I’m just anxious, you know?”

“I understand. Maybe you can tell me what you know about this Daelius Group?”

“Sure, Si. I actually don’t know that much.”

“That’s all right. Just listening to you will help keep me awake.”

“Where are we heading?”

“Lookout Mountain. It’s not too far from Cle Elum. There an old fishing cabin on a lake up that way.”

Mel thought for a minute before speaking. “I picked up on a few things when they had me captive. They didn’t let me listen to any of the interrogations, but I overheard a few words here and there.”
 

She sat up straighter in her seat and took a drink of her coke. Then she turned around and looked out the back window.

“They are scared shitless, Si. They think something is going to happen. Something bad. And soon. They think a lot of people are going to die.”

BOOK: Alpha Male
8.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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