A Case of Beer and a Kiss
by Tara Kerry
Tarin pushed a hand through her sweat dampened, blond hair. Her editor had told her this would be a chance of a lifetime. To be able to do a vacation write up for Adventure Living magazine was something shed been waiting for. Unfortunately, Kevin had failed to mention exactly how damn hot and muggy South America was, and she found herself praying her hotel was air conditioned.
"Thank you." The petite woman sighed as the cooled air hit her when she entered the hotel lobby. Now she just wanted to get checked in, ditch her backpack in the room and see what chilled drinks the bar served.
The dark haired woman glanced around the crowded bar with a bored expression on her face as she took another sip of her beer. Nothing like a cold beer to end a busy day. Now the only thing missing is Her blue eyes halted on the figure that just walked through the door. Oh yeah, now thats what Im missing. She quickly assessed the woman who seemed to be searching for a place to sit. The blond had nicely toned arms that looked great in the dark green tank top she wore, and her legs had a good muscular look to them, without appearing bulky.
It seemed she wasnt the only one whod take notice of the attractive newcomer. Javier, one of the locals who figured himself the towns Don Juan, was trying to put the moves on the blond, but she was rebuking his advances. As they came close to her table, the brunette stood and motioned to the empty seat across from her. "I saved you a seat, Kelly."
Tarin was happy for any excuse to get rid of the man who was presently annoying the hell out of her. And besides, she really wanted to sit down and have a drink, and this seemed to be the only empty seat in the place. She put on a friendly smile. "Thanks, sorry Im late." She sat down.
Blue eyes narrowed on the man who remained standing there looking perturbed. "Javier, why dont you make yourself useful and tell Maria we need a couple beers."
"Go tell her yourself." He growled as he stalked away.
The stranger shrugged, "Oh well. By the way, Im Dana, Dana Morgan." She held out a hand.
"Tarin Monaghan. Thanks for helping me out." She returned the firm handshake.
"Yeah, we dont get many pretty women like yourself in here, usually just business men in town for conventions." Dana caught the servers attention and held up two fingers. Maria nodded and headed to the bar. "So what brings you to this neck of the woods, Tarin?"
"Business, actually. Im writing a travel article for an adventure magazine. My editor wants me to check out a new rain forest tour thats opening." She reached into the pocket of her shorts and brought out a cheesy looking brochure. She handed it to her companion, "Have you heard of it?"
Dana glanced through the information, a frown formed on her face as she did so. Victor Myers, what the hell did he think he was doing? He couldnt traipse tourists through that part of the jungle, not without risking their lives. She put the brochure down as Maria came over with the beers and set them down.
Tarin thanked the woman as she picked up the bottle and took a sip of its contents. "Is there a problem?"
The brunette took a long drink and set the bottle back on the table. "Yes. If I were you Id skip this tour. Its not worth it."
"Lets just say parts of that place are pretty dangerous, Id hate to see you hurt." Dana answered vaguely.
"What? Is it because Im a woman? You dont think Im strong enough?" Tarin questioned, anger seeping into her voice. "Well Im going to take that tour, and Ill have a great time doing it." She stood. "Ill see you when I get back." She stormed off.
"I hope so." Dana mused as she silently considered how cute the blond looked when she was angry.
The morning arrived too early for Tarin, and she cursed the alarm clock that buzzed incessantly on the nightstand next to her. She reached a hand out and slapped the device silent before she sat up and rubbed her face with her hands. Mornings had never been the blondes favorite time of day, more than once her mother had to threaten to throw water on her to get her out of bed for school. "Guess Id better get moving. The sooner this is over, the sooner I can get back here and tell Dana I told you so." Something she found she was actually looking forward to.
Two hours in a bouncing jeep had placed Tarin in a pretty bad mood, not to mention the fact that when she met up with Victor Myers, he informed her he was expecting a male reporter, or at least someone a little tougher. It had taken a great deal of restraint on her part not to show him how "tough" she could be.
The jeep stopped in a heavily overgrown area. "This is as far as we ride, its all on foot now." Victor Myers informed his passenger. "I just hope this isnt a waste of my time. You cant write what you dont experience, so try to keep up, okay?"
"Lead on." Tarin replied as she got her pack in place. This guy must be a total idiot, does he really think pissing me off will get him a good review?
The pair had been hiking for about an hour in silence, except for questions from Tarin about a certain animal or plant, which the guide begrudgingly answered. The area was quite beautiful but the writer knew she would have enjoyed it more if she had been with better company. Perhaps someone like Dana.
Her thoughts then turned to the dark haired woman with eyes a shade of blue you usually saw in waters off tropical islands. She was pretty cute, I wonder what it is she does at this place? She decided to question Victor about her. "I met Dana Morgan yesterday, do you know her?" She saw the man stiffen at the name, she guessed he did.
"I know her. Biggest pain in the ass Ive ever known." He replied between gritted teeth.
Tarin was about to question him further when the brush ahead of them began rustling and several men dressed in various stages of camouflage stepped out into their path. They had rifles slung over their shoulders and from the expressions on their faces, the blonde didnt think they were part of the tour.
Victor began speaking quickly in Spanish to the men, Tarin tried to keep up with the conversation, but wasnt fluent enough in the language to get everything that was said. But from what she did understand, they were in big trouble. This was soon verified when one of the men removed the rifle from his shoulder and pointed it at her.
"Just do what they say," Victor ordered, "and you might live to write about this."
The tallest of the men walked over to Tarin, she had heard Victor call him Pedro. She didnt like how the man leered at her and she took a somewhat defensive stance. When he was close enough, he reached a hand out to touch her pale hair, but she blocked the action. The man angrily pulled his hand back and used it to backhand her across the mouth. "Do not fight." He warned in heavily accented English. "Ill get a greater price if you are unmarked. There is quite a demand for blond women in areas of this country.
The writers fingers lightly touched the area shed been struck, she could taste blood from where her teeth had cut into her lip. Her green eyes shone with defiance, shed rather die than become someones property. The man removed a set of handcuffs from one of the pockets in his pants. She quickly planned the actions in her mind before she enacted them. A vicious kick to the groin instantly dropped the man to his knees, where a well placed kick to the head sent him unconscious to the ground.
Tarin raced into the forest, she could hear the angry shouts behind her and tried to quicken her pace, but maneuvering through the brush was difficult. Branches grabbed at her, getting caught in her hair and scratching her face, but she barely noticed, her attention was on getting away. Tarin knew she could run faster without her pack, but didnt want to take the time it would take to remove it from her back. She briefly turned her head to glance behind her, when her foot became entangled in some low growing vines and she tumbled hard to the ground.
The fall stunned the blonde for a moment, until she realized there was a pair of boots in front of her. Well it had been worth a try. "Just kill me and get it over with." She announced bitterly.
"Maybe later." A familiar voice answered. "I think right now we should get the hell out of here."
Tarins eyes opened wide with surprise as she glanced up and saw Dana standing there, her hand out to help her up. "But how?"
"Run now, question later." Dana ordered as she pulled the blonde to her feet. "This way."
Tarin followed Dana deeper into the overgrowth, silently hoping the woman knew where she was going. Suddenly the taller woman dropped to the ground in a densely overgrown area, bringing Tarin with her. Dana held a finger to her lips for silence and the blonde nodded her head slightly in understanding.
A moment later, they could hear footsteps tramping through the woods beside them. Tarin held her breath as the noises got nearer. Then the footsteps stopped. She could smell the tobacco on the mans clothes he was so close to her, but he seemed oblivious to their location. Or she hoped so anyway.
Danas muscles tensed as she sized up the enemy. He appeared to be alone, and if she did this right, he wouldnt have a chance to call out to anyone. In a blink of an eye, the woman sprung up from her position and attacked her prey. Before the man knew what was happening, Dana had placed her hands on either side of his head, and with a quick twisting motion, snapped his neck. He was dead before he hit the ground.
The writers jaw hung slack at what shed just witnessed. Sure she was glad they had one less bad guy to worry about, but right now all she could focus on was the man on the ground starring at her with lifeless eyes. Her stomach clenched and she swallowed hard to force the bile back.
Dana saw the color drain from her companions face, and knew she had to act quickly before the woman passed out. "Tarin, we have to move. Theyll be more on the way."
Tarin turned her eyes from the dead man and stood. She took and released several deep breaths. "Okay."
The taller woman grabbed the fallen mans rifle and shouldered it. She wanted to have some firepower if things got ugly. "My car isnt far from here. Its going to be fine." She assured the blonde. "We just have to keep going. Let me have your pack."
Tarin was going to argue, but decided she would move more quickly without the pack so she took it off and gave it to Dana.
Theyd had to stop a few more times to evade the men searching for them, but there was no more killing. Tarin sighed in relief when Dana finally pointed out the beat up pick up hidden in the overgrowth. Maybe she was going to live after all. She wearily climbed into the truck and waited for her rescuer to start it up. Once they were moving, Tarin felt safe to begin talking. "Who were those men?"
Dana cautiously eyed the trees that surrounded the make shift road they were traveling. "Well your guide was smart enough to plot his tour through the backyard of Miguel Fuentes, the Juan Valdez of cocaine."
Tarin now remembered the warning Dana had given in her the bar about taking the tour. "Thats why you didnt want me to go today."
The dark haired woman nodded. "Yes. I was afraid something like this would happen."
"Fortunately for me you were there to save me." She paused a moment. "Why are you here?"
Dana grinned roguishly. "I couldnt let anything happen to the best looking girl in town."
The blonde blushed slightly. "Well thanks for rescuing me, I guess I owe you a beer."
Dana frowned at something she saw up ahead. "Dont thank me yet." She cautioned.
"What?" Tarin asked confused before the man with the grenade launcher came into view. "Oh shit."
The drivers brain kicked into high gear. "You have to jump." She told her passenger.
Tarin looked at Dana skeptically, sure she hadnt just told her to jump from the moving car. "You want me to jump?"
The taller woman glanced over at her. "Do you trust me Tarin?" The blonde nodded. "Then jump."
Tarin stretched and gave Dana a kiss on the cheek. "Be careful."
"Only if I can have more of those." She teased as she slowed the truck down. "Now." Dana shouted and the writer opened the passenger door and leapt from the vehicle.
She rolled as she hit the ground, taking some of the force out of the impact, but she still put a hole in her sleeve as her elbow skidded across the ground. She searched for Dana, but didnt see her as the truck was headed off the side of the road. Suddenly there was a deafening boom and the vehicle was consumed in a fireball. "Dana." She called out, but there was no answer. She stood to run to the burning truck, only to be intercepted by 3 men in uniforms.
"So we meet again." A voice behind her growled and she turned to see the man shed kicked earlier. It gave a twisted sense of pleasure to see he was limping from their previous encounter. "Cuff her, hands and feet." He ordered and then pointed to another of the men. "Go check that out." He motioned to the fire. "Make sure there are no survivors."
Tarin allowed herself to be cuffed peacefully this time, knowing she was outnumbered and she didnt have the element of surprise. Besides, she still had faith that Dana would come to her rescue again. Pedro cautiously walked over to her, his groin still hurting from her kick. "Youve caused us a lot of trouble." He complained. "I think its time we got a little payback." He took a rifle from a nearby soldier. Tarin was defenseless to stop him as he struck her in the head with the butt of the weapon. She called out to Dana in her thoughts as the darkness engulfed her.
Dana willed the ringing in her ears to stop. That had been a little too close for her, if she had bailed a moment later, she would have been extra crispy. She assessed her physical condition and deemed it acceptable considering what had just happened. Bruises, scrapes and the occasional cut or burn. She was going to be sore later, but right now she put the discomfort out of her mind as she concentrated on the one thing she had to do. Get Tarin back and get out of this Godforsaken place.
She had managed to stay hidden while Pedros lackey haphazardly searched the area for her. He had reported to his superior that the driver of the truck had died in the explosion. She was in the clear now. It had taken all her strength not to rush from her hiding spot and throttle Pedro when he slammed the rifle stock against Tarins head and the woman fell limply to the ground. Dana knew it would do the blonde no good if she got herself killed in a foolish attempt to save her. No, she would do this the right way and take out as many of Miguel Fuentes men as possible. She would get a great deal of pleasure sending Pedro to meet his maker.
As Tarins eyes fluttered open, she became acutely aware of the overwhelming headache that made even focusing her eyes difficult, so she closed them. She felt something cool placed on her forehead and she jumped in surprise, instantly regretting the sudden movement.
"Try not to move." A female voice told her in unaccented English. "Thats a pretty nasty bump you have there. You must have really pissed someone off."
"You could say that." Tarin answered as she struggled to sit up and gingerly touched the bump on her head. "Where am I?" She examined her surroundings, it looked like a cell of some sort. The floors and walls were concrete and there was a large wooden door with a small window in it with bars.
"Welcome to Hell, Kid." The woman informed her flatly. "But dont worry, you wont be here long, theres an auction coming up in a couple of days. Hows the head feel?"
Tarin concentrated on not throwing up from the pain. "You know the headaches that make you feel like you want to die?" The stranger nodded. "I wish I had one of those."
"I believe it. Oh, Im Karen by the way." She held out her hand.
The blonde shook the offered hand. "Tarin."
"So Tarin, howd you get here?"
"Oh you know," the writer began as she leaned her head against the wall behind her, "wrong place at the wrong time. What about you?"
"Do you want the long version or the Cliff note one?" Karen questioned.
"Give me the novel, its not like Im getting out of here anytime soon." Tarin replied as she attempted to get comfortable on the hard floor.
Dana waited until darkness had fallen over the compound before she put her plan into action. There were 4 guards with rifles keeping watch over the main entrance, and a few others scattered through the grounds and other buildings. She had to be careful, failure was not an option for her, it would mean death for her and Tarin. Fortunately the men werent very good at their jobs.
Moments later, the dark haired woman wiped the blood from the blade of her knife before she replaced it in the sheath attached to her belt. She shouldered the dead mans weapon and stalked towards the building he had told her Tarin was being held. Dana cautiously opened the door and entered the building. Now she just had to find the specific room Tarin was being kept.
Tarin closed her eyes as she thought back on Karens story. The woman had been part of a medical team from the U.S. helping the poor, until the group was attacked by Miguel Fuentes soldiers. She was the only one still around, the others were either dead, or already sold to slavers. Tarin yawned, her head was still throbbing, but fatigue was taking a toll on her and she felt herself dropping off. Suddenly the sound of gunfire echoed through the cell and she bolted upright, instantly regretting that move as the pain flared up in her head.
The blond glanced over to her cellmate who was also wide eyed with a mixture of surprise and fear. "Was that a gun?" Tarin asked softly.
"Yeah, probably a rival drug guy or something. Maybe if were lucky whoever it is will just leave us alone."
Just then they heard the sound of keys jingling outside the door. "So much for luck." Tarin commented wryly. She decided she was ready to cause a little trouble. "Karen, why dont you go stand over there." She pointed to the corner away from the door and the opposite of where she was going to stand.
The woman stood. "What are you going to do?"
"Just kick some butt." Tarin answered as she pulled herself up. "Maybe make someone feel as crappy as I do." She waited for the dizziness to subside a little before trusting herself to walk. The writer was in position when the key turned in the lock.
"Finally." Dana remarked as she found a key that fit the lock. I should have asked the guard which key it was before I left him. He better not have lied to me. Well I guess there isnt anything I can do to now him if he was.
She opened the door and hurried into the room, they had to get out of there before the reinforcements arrived. She caught a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye and reacted just quickly enough to prevent herself from receiving a fierce kick to the ribs.
Tarins body was off balance after her kick failed to hit its target. She felt herself falling, until a pair of strong hands grabbed a hold of her, she struggled to get free. "Whoa there short stuff, take it easy."
The blond instantly stopped fighting the hold and instead hugged the taller woman tightly. "I knew youd find me."
Dana gently lifted Tarins chin so she could see her face. "Of course. You still owe me that beer."
Tarin smiled. "I owe you more than that."
The sound of a throat being cleared broke the moment up. "I hate to interrupt this touching reunion, but could we get the hell out of here?"
"Dana, Karen. Karen, Dana." Tarin announced as she released her grip on her rescuer.
"Okay, okay. You guys stay behind me and keep close." Dana ordered as she peered out into the hall for visitors. "Lets go."
They wove their way through the corridors keeping a watchful eye out for Miguels men. Curiously, they didnt see any. "Ive got a bad feeling about this." Tarin announced. "Shouldnt there be some bad guys or something?"
Maybe were just lucking out." Karen replied optimistically. She caught Tarins skeptical look. "Well I can hope, right?"
Dana stopped. "Shhh." She listened intently.
"Do you sense a disturbance in the Force, Master?" Tarin questioned unable to help herself. Dana raised a lone eyebrow at the statement. "Sorry, sometimes I babble when Im nervous."
"No problem, Yoda." Dana teased. "But I do think something is going on here."
"Well, no shit Sherlock." Karen piped in.
"Can we put her back where we got her?" The tall woman asked dryly.
Tarin playfully bumped a hip into her friend to distract her. "The sooner you get us out of here the sooner I can repay you for saving my life." She waggled her pale eyebrows mischievously.
Dana struggled to get her mind back on task after it had drifted off to a more pleasant place for a moment. She glanced at her watch. "Okay, guys, plan B."
"Speaking of plan B" Tarin began. "How come youre the only one with a weapon?"
"Do you know how to fire a gun?" Dana asked seriously.
"Um, well no." Tarin conceded. "But Id still feel better if I had one."
"Fine." The dark haired woman pulled out a pistol from her waistband and handed it to the blonde. "Try not to shoot yourself, or me."
"Or me." Karen quickly added.
The trio backtracked a bit until they came to a window Dana could see out of. "Uh huh. Thats what I thought."
"What?" Tarin asked as she tried getting on her tip toes to get a look out the window, but still came up short.
Karen, who was just a little shorter than Dana, walked up next to the woman and glanced out, her jaw dropped. "Holy cow. How are you gonna get us out of this one."
"What is it?" Tarin asked, perturbed she was surrounded by these Amazons. She began jumping up and down in place in an attempt to catch a glimpse out the window.
"Stop before you sprain an ankle, Shorty." Dana warned as she put her hands around Tarins waist and lifted the woman up with ease. "There, are you happy?"
Tarin looked at the mass of soldiers, all apparently waiting for them to come out. Then she spotted the tank that was headed their way. "What the hell? Are they planning on blowing us up in here?"
The taller woman lowered her back to the ground. "Something like that, yeah. But I dont think thats going to happen."
"Oh yeah? Whos going to stop them?" Karen asked, irritated by the whole situation.
Before Dana could give a smartass reply, the ground shook from an explosion outside the building. The taller women peered out the window and saw the tank was now nothing but a smoldering hunk of metal. The sound of gunfire erupted as black helicopters hovered over the area. "Its about time." Dana grumbled as she grabbed Tarins hand. "Our rides here kids, lets go."
"I dont think so." Pedro stood there with his rifle aimed at the group. "Now drop the gun or Ill blow the blondes brains out."
"Boy, he really hates you." Karen commented.
"Yeah, I kicked him in the family jewels earlier." Tarin replied casually. "I think hes still holding it against me." She placed a hand behind her. "Go ahead and put it down, Dana. Ive got your back." She stepped to the side and placed her hand on the small of the womans back.
Dana felt Tarin place the small handgun into the waistband of her pants. "I love you." She whispered.
"I know." The blonde took a step away from Dana, hoping the good guys were going to pull this off.
"All right, Im putting it down." She knelt and placed the rifle on the ground. Then, in an instant, her hand grabbed the gun from her waistband; she aimed and fired. Pedro dropped his weapon as his eyes fell on the crimson stain that spread quickly across his chest. His eyes moved to the women in surprise and disgust before he collapsed to the ground.
The sound of fighting outside had subsided. Dana took this as a sign it was time for their exit. "Hey, are you okay?" She asked Tarin worriedly. The smaller woman nodded.
"Yeah, its just been a really long day."
Karen motioned to the window. "Who the heck just saved our butts out there?"
"Oh, just a few friends of mine." Dana answered nonchalantly. "And now, unless anyone protests, I think we should get on one of those helicopters, find a nice shower, some food and a clean bed."
The trio strolled out to a helicopter, Dana wrapped her arm around Tarins shoulders and squeezed the blonde against her. The surrendering enemy soldiers were rounded up by men in black fatigues.
As they approached their ride, a man dressed in khakis and a polo shirt popped his head out. "Well, there you are, Morgan. Afraid they might have gotten you."
"You couldnt be so lucky, Daniels." She remarked wryly. "Thanks for coming to get me."
"You can thank JL when we get back, if she hadnt been monitoring that radio frequency "
"I know, Im just glad I found that radio set up here." Dana moved Tarin to the door of the helicopter. "Philip Daniels, Id like you to meet Tarin Monaghan."
He helped the woman into the vehicle, "Its nice to meet you. Ms. Monaghan."
"And this is Karen sorry I dont know your last name."
"Mears." Philip answered before Karen did. "Weve been looking for you."
Karen took the mans hand and climbed into the helicopter. "Im glad you finally found me." She made her way in and took a seat.
Dana jumped in and patted Philip on the back, "Make sure its a smooth ride, okay." She took a seat next to Tarin.
"I dont suppose you can tell me whats going on here." Tarin gazed into the blue eyes next to her.
"Lets just say my employer has an interest in the business Mr. Fuentes was running from here. We were planning on raiding this place later in the week, we just upd the time frame a little."
Tarin leaned her head against Danas shoulder. "I think I probably owe you a case of beer by now." She joked.
"At least." Dana teased back. "How about I collect when I take you on a real vacation. You, me and a secluded mountain cabin in Colorado?"
"Sounds great. When do we leave?"
"Hows tomorrow sound?" She softly stroked Tarins pale hair.
The writer yawned. "Perfect."
The helicopter lifted from the ground, but neither Tarin nor Dana noticed as they slept soundly against each other.
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