Oh, god, I'm terrified.
I can't see; they've blindfolded me.
I can't move; they've tied my hands together with some kind of coarse rope.
I can't speak; a rag has been shoved into my mouth and tied round my head and it tastes revolting.
Somebody, please help me.
If only I hadn't lent my best friend that twenty quid. I wouldn't have had to go to the ATM that wasn't working. I wouldn't have had to into the little sub-Post Office instead. I wouldn't have been there when they came in, pointing guns and shouting like something out of a bad Hollywood movie. I would never have known that one moment in time when my life turned upside down.
The police came and its surprising how confident one can be when rescue is fifty yards from where you're lying, giving me the strength to remain calm. But the men escaped and took me with them. I suppose the couple that ran the place were too old, the child buying sweets, too young.
They rolled me into a smelly old blanket and bundled me into some kind of vehicle for what seemed like hours before carrying me in here.
Wherever here is.
It echoes and it's cold. There aren't any other sounds apart from mumbled voices a long way away.
And I'm frightened.
I want to go home.
I can sense someone behind me and squirm to get away from them. A strong warm hand grasps my shoulder, keeping me still and I freeze.
A soft, low voice whispers to me from somewhere just behind my ear, telling me that I'm safe now, that he's come to get me out of here. He asks if I'll trust him.
I hesitate for one moment.
His voice with its quaint transatlantic accent is confident and reassuring, yet gentle, with no hint of malice. His one touch comforting, yet careful to not invade. He smells of clean soap and leather. He asks the question again.
I nod my head yes.
Nimble fingers work at the knots behind my head, behind my back and I squint in the harsh daylight streaming through the window of the warehouse as the blindfold slips off. I don't get the chance to really see my saviour as he encourages me to my feet, whispering support and directions, asking me to run.
I obey that calm, soft voice as if it were the most natural thing in the world. All the time, he keeps a hand firmly at my shoulder, and I know that while it's there, he will protect me.
Footsteps sound behind, and that hand at my shoulder grasps it hard, bruising, forcing me off my path, to swing round and into him. I squeal in surprise and fright as I crash into him.
Strong, muscular arms surround my shoulders holding me close, and I hear the sound of feet running past. I realise that my saviour has pulled us out of danger and relaxing in his arms, for the first time, feel truly safe.
I lean into him, wordlessly communicating my trust, listening to his heart pumping in time to my own, feeling his muscles contracting and relaxing, as he breathes, against mine.
I burrow into the join between his neck and shoulder, wanting, needing to hide in this human protector. I find my lips mere millimetres from his neck and can almost see the jugular vein throbbing there, the skin above, sweating slightly.
He whispers an apology, his lips tickling my ear as he speaks, his breath tickling my earlobe, sending tingling shivers through me. I so badly want to lick that skin, see if the taste matches the aroma and for one moment, the world seems so very far away.
He gives me a comforting squeeze, then pushes me behind him as he looks about cautiously. He pulls me back into the corridor and we resume our running, though I still feel secure with his hand on my shoulder.
Abruptly that security is gone and I spin in horror to see him falling beneath the bulk of two large men. His presence has imbued me with a courage I never dreamed I might have and before thought can stop me, I launch a side kick learnt in my kick-boxing class, at one of the men, doubling him up as my foot plants itself into his groin.
It's enough for my saviour to dispatch them both with athletic, almost balletic movements, before he, panting a little from his exertions asks me if I'm all right. I gape in surprise, returning the question as I'm quite sure he was the one on the floor.
He laughs in reply and examining him closely I see that he thankfully seems unhurt, perfect skin unmarred. Beneath the flashing, merry determination in his eyes, I see something else, a great sadness when he looks at me, but I don't have time to look further. His hand is on my shoulder again as we resume our flight.
Damn, but this place is big. It didn't feel like it on the way in, but now the darkened corridors skirting the openness of the main storage areas seem to twist and turn endlessly as she and I move rapidly down them towards safety.
Two down, one to go - undoubtedly armed - if the witnesses were correct, and I have no desire to be caught in this rabbit warren. It would be too much like shooting fish in a barrel.
Our footsteps echo alarmingly in the confined space, but I keep pushing her on before me, aware of the importance to her of the continuing contact of my hand on her shoulder. The look of returning fear in her eyes when I let her go briefly to peer round the last corner made that clear. But she's a fighter, this girl, as she has demonstrated and I am impressed by her inner strength, a characteristic she shares with the women who have made the most impact on my life.
As we run, my eyes inevitably fall again on the head bobbing in front of me, seeing the way the fine blonde hair gleams in what little light there is, short cut, moulding itself to the lines of her skull and clinging in wisps to the nape of her neck. The sight is so achingly familiar, I can feel the long dead passions welling dangerously in me again, and each time they encroach I am finding them harder to resist. During the drawn-out moments when we were thrown together, eluding discovery, I felt the warmth of her moulding against me, the blonde head nestling against my neck as hers used to in that other existence, breath soft against my skin, and it was all I could do to pull myself away. But those feelings have no place here in this situation and I push them back where they belong and close the door firmly on them.
We reach another corner and I pull her back behind me while I check the way is clear. A short distance away the passage ends at a doorway and through the glass set in it I see it opens onto the main warehouse floor. And across that open expanse is another door, this one cracked open to allow daylight to stream in - our way out.
Outside I know Sam is waiting, probably still pissed off with me for going in without him. But the police were on their way and we both knew someone had to stop them storming the place in their size 12's and panicking the bad guys into doing something stupid. And he has so much more patience with them than me - I'd probably just have ended up shooting them.
At that thought I draw my gun and ease the door open, feeling her huddling close behind me, hands touching my back, and I force myself to ignore the strange tingling that starts through me. The way seems clear so, reaching for her hand, I move out into the seemingly vast and empty space, eyes moving constantly for any sign of danger, pushing her ahead of me again towards the door and escape.
Just as I think we're going to make it, my rising spirits are dashed as the unmistakable metallic click of a gun being cocked echoes around the room, and I spin to face the threat.
One man, gun raised, steady, aimed not at me but at my companion who I realise to my horror, as I flick a glance across at her, has moved out from the shelter of my body. In profile her face shows no fear, the blonde hair falling softly across her brow, and I am powerless to prevent the memories my nightmares are made of crashing in around me.
Determined that history will not repeat itself, not when this time I have the means to prevent it, I raise my gun, stepping towards her, in front of her, to protect her as I couldn't protect her the last time. I fire in the same split second he does, seeing my shot thud home at the same moment I become aware that she is no longer standing behind me. My heart stops dead in my chest as from the corner of my eye I see her stumble backwards, and I hear myself yelling "NO!" as I turn, reaching to catch her, pull her to me, before she can hit the hard ground. I drop to my knees, lowering her with me, and for the longest time I am frozen there, unable to breathe, entrapped by the horror of my memories, eyes fixed on her pale face, unable to believe this could be happening again.
Her eyes flicker open to focus on me - brown eyes, I note distantly, not the blue I was expecting - and a smile plays across her lips as she gazes up at me. She rests her hands lightly on my shoulders, and the smile broadens as I instinctively tighten my grip to draw her nearer, to stop her leaving me. But then, to my amazement, the too often re-lived pattern of events changes as she wraps her arms round my neck and raises herself from the dusty concrete to gaze intently at me.
She whispers that she's OK, unhurt, just startled into tripping by the noise of the shot, and I can see the emotions rushing through her eyes; relief, gratitude, and more - longing, passion, lust? And I know those emotions, recognise them, for I am feeling them myself.
I fight for control, knowing I shouldn't, mustn't, can't allow myself to respond as she lifts her delicate features to mine, but it's been so long, so very long, and although I know rationally Teresa hasn't come back to me, I am unable to resist indulging in those memories one more time as I lower my lips to the waiting mouth, losing myself in the moment - for that moment may be all there is.
Summary: Chris fantasy. Self-beta'd, kinda gentle and a teeny bit different :o)