Authors: Mel LeBrun
By Mel LeBrun
Text copyright © 2013 Mel LeBrun
All Rights Reserved
Dedicated to my friends and family
for all their loving support, encouragement and input.
It was a quaint little cyber cafe that Jessica frequented
once a month. Located in a small town in southeastern Massachusetts, large
floor-to-ceiling windows graced the front. Small, round tables and chairs were
placed near the windows. Past the tables, on the left was the counter where gourmet
coffee was served. Towards the middle of the room and along the back wall were
desks with computers. They offered Internet access for a small fee. Jessica
took one of the desks towards the middle of the room.
She came to the cafe to chat with a good friend in Russia
whose employment was not always on the legal side of the law. As a precaution,
they never spoke on their personal computers or communicated in any way that
could be easily traced to each other. They set aside time every month to catch
up and chat. She was particularly anticipating their conversation when she saw
an email from him with pictures from a vacation he had taken. She browsed
through the photos thinking of questions to ask him about his trip. She swore
he had taken the same trip last year.
Alexander was his name and while he wasn't much to look at,
he certainly made up for it in other ways. His dry wit and exuberant
personality was in stark contrast to his scrawny form. A sedentary life spent
in front of a computer contributed to his lack of muscle tone and pale skin.
From the neck up, he would be considered attractive with his shimmering blonde
hair and ice blue eyes. But when your eyes wandered further south, all they
would encounter was a bony figure with sun-deprived pale skin. He was, by all
counts, a computer geek who used his skills as a hacker. But their friendship
had been forged long before he took up that trade. They met in a gaming forum
when she was just sixteen and hit it off. He could keep her in stitches with
his undying humor. They became fast friends and remarkably, had stayed in
touch over the past ten years.
The dinging of the bell on the door alerted her to an
entering customer. It was not usually busy after 10:00 am. Most people had
already gotten their coffee and were happily, or miserably, on their way to
work. She looked up and couldn't help but stare at the towering figure in the
doorway. He was tall and muscular with gently tanned skin, short dark brown
hair with just a hint of curl and smoldering brown eyes. He was incredibly
handsome. He hadn't shaved in a few days and the look suited him very well.
He wore a black, snug-fitting t-shirt that came down just over the waistband of
his black cargo pants. Rugged black combat boots finished the look.
She stared in awe, unaware how obvious she was being. He
glanced around the cafe and then looked directly at her and smiled, to which
she allowed a brief smile to cross her lips before nervously burying herself in
the computer in front of her.
He walked to the girl at the counter, ordered a cup of
coffee and bought a newspaper. He then strolled to a table off to her side,
just barely behind her. She swore she could see him looking at her out of the
corner of her eye, but she didn't dare turn. Her palms were getting sweaty and
she looked at her watch: 11:10 a.m. Where was he? Alex wasn't usually late.
In fact, he's usually already online waiting for her.
If she had turned around, she would have seen that the
brawny stranger was indeed looking at her. In fact, he chose his seat
deliberately so he could admire her long, dark curly hair, the body that was
snugly tucked away under clothes that accentuated her five foot, seven inch
form, the profile of her delicate face and amber eyes. He mused that in
another life, he would have asked for her number. But for now, he would just
have to admire. He looked at his watch. Perfect timing. His appointment
should be here any minute.
Oblivious to her surroundings, she forced her eyes to stay
focused on her computer screen and not wander to the handsome man sitting
behind her. So oblivious in fact, she never even registered the dinging of the
bell as the door opened or saw the three masked, armed men enter the cafe. Nor
did she see the rugged man dive and push her to the ground as shots rang out in
the cafe. Stunned from the jolt of being pushed to the ground and the sound
of loud gun shots ringing in her ears, she looked up to see the rugged man
returning fire on the three armed bandits. Next thing she knew, she was being
dragged behind a half wall partition as the handsome stranger she was so
nervous about, crouched next to her, returning fire. Almost as quickly as it
started the stranger darted from the cafe and out a back door.
Everything was a blur. She was in shock, still unsure of
what was happening. Then, for reasons that eluded her, the tall dark stranger
was back, firing at the three gunmen. One took a shot straight through the
chest and fell backwards, toppling over a table and chairs. Another took a
bullet to the shoulder. The third sought cover behind the counter. The
handsome stranger kept firing as he walked quickly towards her.
“We have to go! Get up!” he barked, grabbing her arm and
pulling her to her feet.
He pushed her behind him and kept his gun trained on the
surviving gunmen's positions as he backed out of the cafe, keeping Jessica
behind him. He fired a few more shots when they reached the door, then pushed
her towards a black Chevy Tahoe parked in the alley behind the cafe.
“Get in!” he yelled as he ran to the driver's door.
Instinctively, she did as he said and climbed in the passenger
seat. Within seconds, they were tearing out of the alley and speeding down the
road. After a few minutes, when he was certain they weren't being followed, he
eased up on the gas and dropped it down to the speed limit. The look on his
face showed worry and tension.
“What just happened?” she finally worked up the nerve to
ask. Followed quickly by, “Who are you? What did they want? We need to call
“Quiet! I need to think.”
Not knowing who this man was or where he was even taking her,
she started to feel that maybe she shouldn't have gotten in his car.
“Stop the car and let me out.”
She tried her hardest to say it like she meant business.
He ignored her. His mind was racing. Who set him up? How
did they find him? More importantly, what was he going to do with the extra
baggage he just picked up?
“Stop the car now!” she yelled. “You have to let me out!”
“No. Be quiet!” he snapped.
Demanding wasn't working, she thought.
“Please let me go,” she pleaded. “I won't go to the police,
just let me go.”
“I can't. Not yet.”
Jessica had not heard one gunman yell out to one of the
others, “Get the cashier!” then the brief scream, followed by single shot.
Michael had, which is why he came back in the cafe. He knew
they weren't going to leave witnesses and he couldn't leave an innocent girl to
die. Now, though, he wasn't sure what to do with her. He didn't know how far
the people after him would take their “no witnesses” policy. If he let her go,
he might just be signing her death sentence. He had to make sure they weren't
going to come after her. In the meantime, the less she knew, the better.
“Why? Why can't you let me go? You can't keep me prisoner!”
Panic was setting in. She needed to get out of the car
before something terrible happened to her. She didn't know this man or why he had
taken her, or worse, why he wasn't letting her go. She grabbed the door handle
as she prepared to throw herself out of the moving vehicle.
“You open that door, and I will put a bullet in your head before
you even get one foot out,” he hissed.
She looked in his eyes and saw how serious he was. Now she
was terrified. She cursed herself for getting in his car as tears streamed down
Michael glanced at her as the drops fell from her eyes. She
was trembling and in shock. He immediately felt regret over his threatening
outburst. He didn't want to scare her, but he needed to control her. He could
see she was getting desperate. If she ran off to the authorities or even just went
home, she could end up in a coffin. He also couldn't explain the situation to
her. If he found she wasn't in any danger, then she could go back to her life,
but not if he told her everything. Then she would end up a target like him.
She needed to be kept in the dark.
“Look, I don't want to hurt you. We can't go to the
police. I just need to think things through. Figure out what's going on,” he
stated in a calming tone.
“If I intended to hurt you, I would have just left you in
the cafe. They didn't want witnesses and they killed the cashier. You were
His words seemed to take the edge off.
“Who were they? What did they want?”
He looked at her, but didn't say a word and turned his
attention back to driving. They were out of the city now, heading towards the
coast. She didn't know where they were going and was afraid to ask. She
figured he wouldn't tell her anyway.
She watched as civilization slowly disappeared. They had
been driving for at least thirty minutes. Now on a deserted road, she hadn't
seen a house or another car for at least ten minutes. She could smell the sea
air. She had an idea of where they were, but wasn't familiar with any of the
back roads he took. The further they drove, the more helpless she felt.
Wherever he was taking her, there were sure to be no other people around. Her
at what looked like an old, tiny
warehouse. There was a dock right next to it for smaller boats. The place
looked rundown in addition to being deserted.
, she thought,
this where I'll spend my final moments?
“Come on,” he said as he got out.
He stopped in front of the truck and looked at her through
the windshield. She sat frozen, unable to move. She was petrified. He walked
to her door and opened it.
Grabbing her arm, he pulled her from the truck. He held her
firmly as he led her down to a door on the water's side of the tiny building.
It looked even worse close up. Rusted and old, it had a pitched metal roof.
Short, wide windows ran along the edge of the building just under the roof.
It looked as though it should be condemned. The water was calm and lapped at
the dock. The sound was soothing, even though the surroundings were grungy.
She struggled in vain to break free from his grip as he
unlocked the door. She didn't know what awaited her in that disgusting
building. She cried out in distress as the heavy metal door squeaked open.
She felt as though she might throw up at any moment.
He forced her inside. He was so tall and strong. He must
be six foot three, she thought to herself. Her whole body trembled and her
heart pounded in her chest as he shut the door behind them. She rapidly
assessed her surroundings. There were two sections to the building. The main
section looked like the living area. The second section was smaller and had
been converted into a bedroom. A small archway only a few steps from the front
door joined the two rooms. She could see only a bed and a nightstand.
In the far end of the living area was a bathroom. Next to
it were two lockers and a small kitchen area on the right. There was a TV not
far from the kitchen along the right wall and a futon sat across from it on the
left side of the room. A dining table and two chairs were set up off to the
right by the front door. A boiler stood alone in the far left corner. It had
all the basic necessities of an apartment without any of the charm. The walls
were corrugated metal and she imagined it got cold at night. Remarkably, there
was actually water and electricity in the place. It was a bit messy. The bed
was unmade, a few dishes were in the sink. Papers were scattered over the
table along with newspapers. It was dark and drab, lit only with what little
light could filter through the dirty windows. Dingy concrete made up the
Once inside, he released her and she immediately moved away
from him. He stood looking at her. There was no hiding the fear she was
“I'm not going to hurt you,” he said in a firm yet
reassuring tone. His face was virtually devoid of any emotion. Not anger,
fear, joy, lust, hate. Nothing. She decided he was either really good at
hiding his emotions or a psychopath.
“You can watch some TV if you like. The remote is on the
He gestured towards it.
She didn't know what to make of his invitation to “make
herself at home.” She walked numbly to the futon and sat down. She didn't
want to watch TV. She wanted to go home.
“Please let me go,” she begged. Tears welled up in her
eyes. She didn't want to cry. She wanted to pretend she was strong. That she
was not afraid. But she was terrible at hiding her emotions.
He could see her trembling from across the room. She was
terrified and he was torn between keeping her that way or easing her fears.
She would either listen to him out of fear or trust. He didn't have time to
build trust. He just needed a day or two to make sure they weren't after her.
He felt for her, but he didn't let it show. Couldn't let it show. He needed
her obedient as though her life depended on it, for indeed it may.
“You can't leave. At least for a few days. It's
She didn't know what else to say. She couldn't believe this
was happening. Her whole body shook as she tried not to let fear and panic
take over. No longer able to restrain the urge to cry, she pulled her knees up
to her chest and began sobbing into them.
Michael knew how terrified she was and he felt terrible for
being the cause of it. He wanted to comfort her, explain everything so she
would understand. But he knew he couldn't. He sat in one of the chairs and
stared off at a corner of the floor while he tried to gather his thoughts and
ignore the quiet sobbing in the background.