Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental. The characters are fictional and of my own creation. The place, time, and incidents are purely fictional. Copyright © February 2004.
This work is rated as adult material because it involves a relationship between consenting adults of the same gender, and because anything can happen in my stories. If you are easily offended please read something else. If any of this is illegal where you live, stop reading. Beyond this you may wish to take the following immediate actions. First, move. Second, if it is your wish, resume reading. Let no one dictate what you may or may not read, except you, the only person who should be in control of your life.
Warning! This section contains violence and extreme language.
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Inevitable Destiny 16
By Ken Rogers
Phyllis sat back in her leather chair, closing her eyes for a moment. She was beat, even though it was only around eleven on a Sunday morning. She'd started the day with less than four hours sleep by the time she had settled into bed and cleared her thoughts for sleep, Tanya already asleep on her shoulder, her gently breath warming the skin on her neck. It seemed like she had barely closed her eyes before the alarm brought her back to consciousness to see her lover shut the alarm off and climb wearily out of bed. Without much conscious thought she had followed a moment later. Tanya had already had the shower ready and guided her into the water, following her in.
The shower had been all too short because Tanya had to be out the door in less than half and hour. They woke up carefully washing each other but had to keep it short, though neither one of them wanted too.
Since it was Sunday, Tanya reverted to her old mode of dress, simply tying her hair into a tail and slipping on some jeans and a pullover. Phyllis unfortunately had to keep to the firm's dress code so it took her a good half-hour longer to dress.
Lesha had brought her to the office then silently disappeared, leaving her to wade through the never ending pile of continuing items that had been added to after she left late the night before.
She picked up her cup, grimacing at the cold tea. She kept meaning to get one of those thermal cups because her hot drinks always seemed to be cold and her cold drinks warm.
The door opened and for just a tiny instant a bolt of fear she had felt every time the door opened since the night Marci had tried to kill her, tightened her stomach, then faded. It was Lesha and she smiled in relief.
"Hi, Lesh, don't tell me it's lunch time already...." The fear grabbed her again as she got a good look at the woman's face. "Lesh?" The fear seemed to paralyze her, constricting her throat until the name seemed choked out.
Lesha continued towards her, her face reflecting a deep pain. "Phyllis...." Her voice seemed to fail her as she came up beside the desk. She looked away, then back, her eyes clouding with tears.
Without realizing it, Phyllis stood on suddenly rubber legs and stepped towards her, her own eyes already bright. She stared helplessly into Lesha's unhappy face, her bright gray eyes pleading with her.
"There's been and explosion...."
"No." It was a strangled cry of denial as she took a hesitant step closer and shaking her head in denial.
Lesha reached out and caught her as she almost fell against her, still looking into her eyes.
"The explosion was in the office area. The... the whole front of the warehouse was destroyed."
* * *
Luca stepped back, admiring his work, noting with satisfaction that she was still breathing. He picked up a bottle of water and a rag, wiping off his bloody hands then taking a drink. He absently screwed the cap on the bottle and tossed it at the blonde. It struck her thigh and fell in front of her. He studied the men, the four of them looking rather confused.
"What the hell's bugging you guys?"
"Then finish wrapping Angela up and do the same to that fuckin' blonde, and hurry up about it. I'm getting hungry. We've already been here too damned long."
"Well, um... then why tie the blonde up? She's dead."
Luca rolled his eyes. "Why the fuck do I put up with you four morons? You ever hear of psychology, Jack?"
"Um, sure, boss."
"What about you, Ron? Chad? You, Rick?"
They all nodded, Jack obviously regretting having asked.
"You ever hear of fucking with someone's mind?" They nodded again. "Well, if the four of you combine your one active brain cell and actually paid attention or even looked at the bitch, for oh say a bucking bullet hole, you'd know she isn't dead yet. That would be too easy on the little bitch, but telling Angela she was dead is called FUCKING WITH HER MIND! That's also why I told her you dumb asses fucked 'em, but if your fucking dicks are as big as your minuscule brains they wouldn't have had a problem if I had. Now get your asses in gear before I decide to leave you here with them!"
They scattered, two men grabbing Samantha, roughly dragging her to the nearest pillar, and hurriedly tying her to the rough surface while the other two added tape across Angela's mouth and neck and started on her stomach.
"Wait a sec," Luca said. He searched around and found a good chunk of concrete about the size of two fists. He shoved it behind Angela, in her lower back. "Now tape her tight against that. I damn sure wouldn't want the bitch to get too comfortable." He watched them for a minute. "Okay, that'll do. Let's get out of here. It's damned cold in here and I'm getting hungry." He turned to the two working on Samantha, noting that the woman's arms and legs were securely bound and there was tape across her mouth. "That's good enough, boys. Let's get out of here. Its not like they'll have a lot of time to get away."
He started for the exit and the four men were quick to follow, afraid he might actually leave them here. Near the exit he turned and glanced at the four men.
"All right. Tell me you guys have figured out that I don't want anyone to know where I stashed my dear little sister and her annoying lawyer."
"Yeah, boss, no sweat," Jack answered while the others nodded vigorously and mumbled agreement.
"Good, let's go get something to eat then hunt down Tanya. When I find that bitch she's gonna take one hell of long time dying." The men shivered at his cold anger as he started to turn, but then he turned back. "Oh, one more thing."
They stopped and Jack spoke up again. "What's that, boss?"
He drew as he answered. "I don't fuckin' trust you morons."
Jack had time to get the beginnings of a horrified look on his face before the bullet entered his left eye and blew the back of his head off. The rest died before they had fully realized what was happening.
Luca grinned down at the still twitching bodies. "Thanks for the help, boys, but you're fired. I can take care of Tanya myself." He laughed as he turned to the exit.
* * *
Phyllis stood huddled in the heavy raincoat that Lesha had found for her. The chill rain lashed against her face as she stood numb to the core, nearly a hundred feet away, on the dock of a second warehouse, watching the frantic activity across the way in what was left of the Stephanos warehouse offices. She was oblivious to everything else around her, her only thoughts that her friends and her lover were in there, somewhere. As the hours passed, hope faded. The bomb had indeed gone off in the office area, bringing the front of the warehouse down and destroying the three cars in front, even doing serious damage to the armored limousine, all of which were only partially visible under the debris. Fire had raged through the office, though it had been contained only to the main office by the rapidly responding fire stations, with a little help from Mother Nature.
Phyllis's eyes were haunted, lifeless, but she refused to leave her vigil and so it had become Lesha's heart breaking task to try to comfort her and keep her safe from the elements, both natural and manmade, that sought to do her harm. Lesha stopped trying to force her inside, contenting herself with getting her to stay in the shadows and out of the brunt of the storm. Since then Phyllis had clung to the large woman in desperation, like someone drowning in a raging storm clinging desperately to a sinking lifeboat, because she was drowning, only the storm was her own chaotic emotions.
So far, there was no sign of Tanya, Samantha, or Angela, though the charred and mangled remains of Angela's wheelchair had been pulled from the wreckage of the main office.
Lesha's heart went out to her friend, something she had few of, and none like Phyllis. She could see it in her dull eyes, in her haggard face, and in the defeated posture of her normally vibrant friend. She was dying. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, with the crawl of cruel time, Phyllis was losing hope and she was dying inside.
* * *
Angela became aware of her surroundings slowly, only by touch of the harsh pillar and a shivering chill. An intense drum that matched the slightly rapid beating of her heart was slamming inside her head and everything seemed to hurt. Darkness, the total darkness of a cave, velvet black, the only light provided by a confused mind, unable to deal with the absolute absence of light. Even worse was the total lack of any sound other than her own labored breathing. Memories began to rush at her and she gasped, causing agony in her ribs and jaw, but it paled with the thought that had surfaced. Luca had killed Samantha. With the impact of that memory; the fact that she was tied cruelly to a rough cement pillar, the chill of the cruel stone seeping into her bones, the air chilling her skin so much she was shivering with her body's desperate effort to produce warmth, and the cruel beating she had received, faded into significance.
Samantha was dead. The emptiness inside her seemed to envelop her in an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and loss.
She realized she had been crying before, as new tears welled up but an intense hatred suddenly overshadowed the loss. Her emotions fled from the hatred leaving her in an icy calm, a calm with only one crystal clear thought driving it. Luca. Luca was going to die for what he had done to Samantha. Ice seemed to take the place of the blood in her veins and she calmly began to assess her situation.
The pain in her back, ribs, and jaw was excruciating but had been subdued by her new goal. Tape was pulled tight across her face, covering her mouth and wrapping her forehead. There were also several wraps of tape across her throat, and around the pillar, making it hard to breathe. Luca had done a good job on her, every inch of her body above her waist a repeat of her beating in prison. The coppery taste of blood from her shattered lips nearly made her gag but she forced it down, knowing that she had to calm her rebelling stomach. If she failed, with the tape across her mouth, she would choke to death on her own vomit. She knew that her eyes were probably swollen shut, or nearly so, though in the absence of light it didn't matter. What mattered more was that her nose had been broken and one nostril was almost closed, making her strain to breathe through a single nostril. Even as she realized this she began to worry at the tape across her mouth. Her mouth had been partially opened when they taped it, allowing her to begin worrying the tape with her teeth. She had to keep her breathing as shallow as possible because any expansion of her chest brought severe pain, the pain of broken or badly bruised ribs. Movement of her swollen jaw also brought painful tears to her eyes and she was afraid her jaw might be broken as well.
Her capture meant that Luca had somehow destroyed their heavy security, including Tanya. Angela was sure that Luca would not get anywhere near either of them, but especially Samantha, as long as Tanya was alive. A sudden sob nearly strangled her and buried her in intense pain, as her train of thought brought up Samantha in conjunction with Tanya÷who had become a close friend÷both dead by her brother's hand. And Marcus. Luca had killed him too. Though she had not been close with Marcus, he had still been her brother and she loved him. Again rage replaced her grief and she began testing her bonds, looking for a weakness and working on the tape across her mouth, shunting the pain from her shattered lips to feed the hatred.
Suddenly she all but stopped breathing as she strained to hear even the slightest sound. A sliver of hope flared in her mind but was quickly doused by dread. Had she heard movement or was the darkness playing tricks on her mind? She strained her senses, listening for any sound, anything at all; praying it was help and not the rats Luca had promised.
* * *
The tears were long dried, though the occasionally misty spray caused by the gusting rain, would have hidden them. All that remained was the faintest of hope, diminishing with each agonizingly slow minute, and in overwhelming fear, each time a stretcher with a shiny black bag or an injured survivor was brought out of the wreckage and proved to be someone else.
Without warning, Phyllis pulled away from Lesha, leaping to the ground from the loading dock, going to her knees on the rain slick street. She climbed rapidly back to her feet and took off like a sprinter, racing towards two firemen emerging from the building with a stretcher that contained a casualty with faintly seen dingy blonde hair.
Lesha was hot on her tail, her heart pounding in fear for Phyllis. They converged on the suddenly still firemen, who were confused by the people rushing towards them. Someone stepped into Phyllis's path, trying to stop her, and she partially dodged then body slammed the person, knocking them off their feet, before coming to a sudden halt beside the stretcher, her hands clutching at her own chest in anxiety.
Tanya was nearly unrecognizable. She was covered in grime, blood, and field dressings, much of her hair singed away. Her neck was in a brace, and she was strapped to a backboard, her head firmly immobilized, both of her arms heavily bandaged and tied down. Her face was mostly hidden behind a clear plastic oxygen mask. Phyllis took one look at her, as Lesha skidded to a stop to hover over her, and looked up at the firemen. "Move!" Phyllis suddenly screamed, and they continued towards the waiting ambulance, Phyllis right beside her lover.
* * *
Samantha woke with a screaming headache that felt like the top of her head was coming off. She suddenly remembered that she had been beaten, and her eyes snapped opened. As awareness increased so did pain from all over her body, along with the vivid memories of the beating Luca had given her, as two others held her with her arms twisted so far behind her she had thought her shoulders would dislocate.
Now, though awake, nothing registered except absolute blackness. She tried to move and found she was tied to what felt like a concrete pillar, her arms pulled back behind her, the cords cutting off the circulation in her wrists. Her feet were also bound to the pillar. Some sort of tape covered her mouth barely leaving her nose free. Nothing seemed to cover her eyes, but only utter and complete blackness registered. Then she noticed the cold. She remembered that she had been stripped, and wherever she was it was ominously cold. She tested the bonds and the tape but they seemed solid. Panic seized her, the darkness closing in on her. She struggled frantically to get free, her bonds cutting mercilessly into her wrists. Finally she stopped, her chest heaving, her world dimming as her lungs frantically tried to pull enough air through her nose to feed her panic. Her world faded as she nearly blacked out before her lungs finally managed to catch up to her rapidly slowing metabolism.
She forced herself to stay calm, to try to think against the sledgehammer throbbing in her head and the barely held back panic. Thinking was a near impossibility against the throbbing pain and the numbing cold. Her frantic activity had actually warmed her a little, but the cold was rapidly returning.
What had happened?
How had Luca gotten to them?
The though brought sudden tears to her eyes and a powerful pain to her chest. If she had been taken then that meant that Angela had been taken too, or killed, and that Tanya was dead. A muffled sob escaped her.
The voice was faint, muffled, and almost indistinguishable. She waited, hardly daring to breathe.
The voice was even fainter, doubtful, little more than a faintly hopeful, muffled whisper, but she knew who it was. She tried to answer, but the tape was secure across her face and little more than a groan escaped her.
She heard some struggling and then some strained breathing and finally what could only be some swearing though she couldn't make out the words. For some reason that made her try to smile and cheered her up. Gamely she started again trying to find a weakness in her bonds. She found that her arms would move up and down the pillar a little, though she felt like her arms would pull off as she tried to move them. She could hear the cord that bound her wrists scraping against the rough cement, and a faint hope blossomed.
She was perspiring heavily and her breathing was heavy again. Her arms felt like they were ready to drop off and her hands were frighteningly numb. The insides of her arms were raw and bleeding from her frantic attempts to rub through her bonds. She had to stop for a few minutes. When her heart slowed enough she listened for sounds from Angel. There were none. Automatically she resumed worrying at the tape across her mouth. She had gotten a tiny bit of it between her teeth and was tearing at it, trying to worry a hole in it for more air and hopefully to talk to Angel a little, to let her know who she was. The tape was a heavy, plastic and it was not cooperating with her, but she wasn't about to give up.
She finally managed to tear a small hole in it, that she promptly started to enlarge, her sharp teeth rubbing her battered lips raw as she tried to get a good grip on it. Several hours had passed, and she had stopped crying over Tanya, not because she felt any better, but because crying sapped her strength and she had forced herself to push the pain of her loss into the back of her mind and worry about her immediate problems. She would mourn her friend at some later time, if there was a later time.
Strangely, she felt calmer since she had determined that Angel was nearby. She attributed it to a simple animal fear of being alone and the relief in finding she wasn't really alone, though she wouldn't wish this on anyone, even Angel. Angel was apparently in as bad or worse a situation as she was and it bothered her that she hadn't heard anything from her in quite a while.
When the tape unexpectedly snapped, she accidentally bit her lip as she started falling. She turned her head to the side unable to get her exhausted arms to move fast enough to break her fall. She hit hard, taking most of the blow first on her knees, her chest, and then on the left side of her head. Her world went even blacker.
* * *
Phyllis sat beside Lesha in the front of the Limousine as they followed the ambulance towards the hospital. She was oblivious to anything except the flashing lights nearly a block ahead of them, her hands white knuckled in her lap.
Phyllis was so focused that Lesha had been required to lock her seatbelt in place for her.
Lesha had been continually on the phone making sure that Tanya would receive the security she needed when she arrived at the hospital, coordinating with the team still at the building, and the just forming search teams. It was becoming apparent that neither Samantha nor Angela was in the wreckage. Somehow Luca had gotten to them. Somehow he had defeated Tanya's security on the building and gotten them out of the building before blowing it up. Of the six security people in the building besides Tanya, only two had been taken to the nearby hospital. The four others were waiting for transport to the morgue.
The light in front of her changed to yellow and Lesha slowed, intentionally allowing the ambulance to lengthen its lead. She was afraid that Phyllis would get in the way at the hospital and she wanted the paramedics to get her into the trauma center before they got there. She already had two people waiting at the emergency entrance to cover security.
"No, don't stop, Lesh," Phyllis begged, turning to her.
"I have to Phil." She was thankful that there was cross traffic and that Phyllis stopped protesting as the cross traffic started moving. Time seemed to drag but finally the light changed and she began moving, keeping half an eye on Phyllis. She knew she was going to have trouble with her when they got to the hospital and just hoped she could settle her down and keep her calm while they waited.
Slowly, distractedly Phyllis turned to her, her fear plain on her face for her friend to read.
"Phyllis, we're almost there. I want you to just stay in the car until I get around to your side. Can your do that for me, please. We'll go in together, okay."
"Yea, uhm, okay," she acknowledged absently, turning back to watch the ambulance pull up to the emergency entrance.
"Good, girl. Just stay put." Lesha pulled the big car into the parking lot and stopped. She hadn't even gotten the car into park before Phyllis had her seatbelt off and was out of the car, racing towards the entrance. "Shit!" She toggled her radio. "David, stop Phyllis. I'll be right there." She shut the car off and bolted after the redhead as David and his partner tried to catch Phyllis. It would have been comical to an outsider. Phyllis adroitly dodged David then knocked Susan on her butt in her frantic efforts to get to her lover, but her encounter with Susan allowed David to get hold of her, something he probably wished he didn't need to do because she turned into a wildcat. Luckily for him, Susan was only on the ground for an instant, quickly helping her subdue Phyllis, both of them trying desperately to calm her down.
Lesha sighed as she arrived, in time for Phyllis to struggle towards her, cursing her captors. He nodded and caught Phyllis as she flew into her arms, sobbing heavily.
"It's all right Phil. Settle down. Just relax a bit. Let them get Tanya the help she needs. We'll be there when she needs us. Just settle down now."
"I... I need to be there, Lesh. Please, let me go to her."
"Not yet, honey. Give the doctors a chance. Come on settle down. We're not going in until you calm down. They need to concentrate on Tanya. They don't need you being hysterical right now." Lesha was patient with her and slowly she began to calm down. Finally she had her calmed enough that she began to lead her towards the entrance. "Remember, Phil. We have to be strong and wait. We can only help Tanya by letting the doctors help her, okay."
Phyllis was leaning heavily against her, Lesha's arm tight around her. She nodded and a faint voice came to Lesha.
"Okay. Just don't leave me, please."
"Not even if hell freezes over, Phil. Not even then."
* * *
"Who's there?" she managed through the hole she had chewed through the tape across her mouth, the sound faint, hardly recognizable as words even to her. The silence was complete, broken only by her strained breathing and the thumping of her own heart, loud in her ears.
"Hello?" Hope suddenly flared in her as she strained to hear any sound.
"Sam?" Her voice was little more that a doubting question mark in the thick silence, the name just popping into her head as the only logical person that Luca would leave here. She had watched in horror as he turned and fired four shots but she hadn't been able to see Samantha because Luca was in the way. She felt her hope die when there was no answer.
Then she heard a muffled sound and her heart soared again. The person was trying to speak through a gag like her own making the words unintelligible but the timbre of the voice was female. She listened and could hear the faint rasping of material against concrete and realized that whoever it was÷she was positive it was Samantha÷was trying to break her bonds on the rough concrete. She heard several strained grunts and sounds of frustration, the scraping continuing for a time, then stopping, then resuming. While she listened in hope, she was also trying to work on her bonds, but whoever had tied her had made sure she could not move her wrists. Without help she was doomed to die right where she was.
Hours seemed to go by as she alternately listened to the struggles of her fellow captive and worked at her own mask of tape trying to get more air for her starved lungs. Several times she faded out for uncertain lengths of time, her badly beaten body demanding sleep.
She heard the cord give accompanied by a surprised sound of pain. A very short time later she heard the thud as something heavy hit the ground. Then there was silence.
"Sam?" Her voice was a little clearer through the slightly larger opening in her tape mask but badly distorted because to move her jaw was an agony.
"Sam?" The darkness was closing in on her, the silence now unbearable with the faint sound of Samantha's struggles gone.
Panic was climbing in her chest. Something had happened to Samantha. Her heart was beating faster and suddenly she couldn't catch her breath, try as she might. Her darkened world started to fade as her lungs screamed for air.
The world seemed to shake and then she was suffocating on thick dust as, with a frightening roar, everything came crashing down around her.
* * *
Phyllis sat on the edge of her chair her head turned towards the entry. She was a total wreck, her clothes disheveled, her hair mussed, dried streaks on her cheeks, her normally sparkling gray eyes dull, dark circles around her eyes, a haggard, totally exhausted slump to her features and her posture. Long hours had passed with no word from the doctor. At the moment she was essentially alone, though there was a security team in the hall. Lesha had gone to talk to the paramedics and get a briefing from her search teams both at the site and wherever else leads took them to look for Samantha and Angela. At long last she entered the room dropping down beside Phyllis and holding one of two paper cups of coffee out the her, not the grungy hospital vending machine instant but Starbucks, brought back by one of Tanya's people.
Phyllis took it in shaking hands, glad of the warmth that penetrated her icy hands, her eyes locked on Lesha's eyes beseeching her to have good news.
Lesha sighed in tired frustration shaking her head as she took a sip of the strong black coffee.
"Not a damned thing, Phil. They just disappeared like they never existed."
Phyllis slumped even further, her eyes brightening with tears again. "Luca got to them," she whispered.
Lesha winced at the despair in her voice. She had hoped Phyllis would leave that possibility unspoken even though that was the general consensus, hoped she could keep her spirits up with some sort of news, but there was nothing, not a whisper of news about the missing women.
They were silent for long moments, Lesha finally disturbing her thoughts to stop her from tipping her forgotten coffee too far. She jumped, then looked up as if just seeing Lesha for the first time. She visibly steeled herself and asked, "Did you talk to the paramedics?"
Lesha nodded. "Yeah. Talked to one of the guys still at the warehouse too. Tanya's guardian was watching out for her again. The guy on site said they lifted a large piece of scorched wall off a pile of rubble and she was under it. It saved her life, Phil. Artie was only ten feet away from her but the wall didn't protect him. He didn't make it.
"Oh God, Lesh, how could this happen? How did he get past the security?"
Her haunted eyes begged for answers the large woman just didn't have yet and she dropped her eyes as she answered.
"We aren't sure yet, Phil, but somehow, over a period of time he managed to set the place up to gas everyone. We found several tanks with remote triggers to open them. They contained a powerful sleeping agent. It looks like he gassed everyone, took Samantha and Angela then blew up the warehouse. Lesha was reasonably sure that was what had happened. What she really couldn't understand is why he left Tanya alive. The publicity had brought Tanya out in the open. He had to know she was the one that was hunting for him, that was protecting his prey from his hunters. There was no way that he couldn't know she was the one causing him so many headaches. The only thing she could come up with was that they hadn't spent much time looking for her, missing the space between the two walls that she had evidently been searching. Which turned out to contain one of the tanks he had hidden in the warehouse.
Idly, Lesha wondered if she was going towards the hidden tank back there, or if she had already found it and was on her way out. No, she hadn't found it yet. If she had she would have been screaming into her cell phone the instant she found it. One of the things that made Tanya so dangerous was that she didn't react to situations, she immediately acted.
Lesha felt Phyllis move closer to her and she wrapped her arm around her, taking the untouched coffee out of her hands. Phyllis clung to her desperately and Lesha made her a little more comfortable, then took her coat off the chair beside her and covered her with it. As she had hoped, in a very short time, the emotionally exhausted woman's head nodded forward. Lesha leaned back a little more pulling Phyllis head against her breast, listening in satisfaction to her slowing breathing. Then she hunkered down to wait for news of her boss and friend.
* * *
Samantha was being crushed by a heavy weight. The darkness was still absolute, impenetrable. Dust was in her nose and her throat, covering her skin, stinging her injuries, and something heavy was pressing her into the ground, making it difficult to breathe. She groaned, moving slightly, realizing that her hands were free, though the cord still constricted her wrists, numbing her hands.
She brought her left hand up and tried to remove the tape over her mouth but her fingers were numb and uncooperative. Instead, she searched close by, finding a jagged piece of metal among the concrete debris. She began clumsily sawing at the cords on her wrists, the metal shard making short work of them but also cutting her as well as the cord. She shook her hands and tried to flex her fingers to help return circulation. The tingling pain started and intensified to a nearly unbearable level, before some feeling began to return to her fingers.
Though she still had trouble controlling her fingers, little strength yet available to her, she managed to worry a corner of the tape loose enough to get hold of it. Resolutely she pulled on it, hard; her growing anger at the man that had done this to her sustaining her through the pain, as the sticky tape pulled the fine hairs, dried scabs, and even some skin from her injured face. She cried out, at the excruciating pain caused by the tearing tape.
"Sam?" the voice was muted, course, barely understandable.
"Yeah," she croaked out.
Angela felt an overwhelming relief when she answered. "Thank God. You okay?"
She snorted. "Oh yeah, peachy."
"Did you get free?"
"No, but closer. Save your breath. Let me work on it." She didn't want to talk anymore; her throat was incredibly dry and sore.
Sam kept her shard of metal then began trying to get to her feet, which were still tied to the pillar. Whatever was above her wasn't moving. She sensed tremendous weight and prayed it didn't settle anymore; if it did, nothing else would matter. It was at an angle, higher to her right so she moved that way. It was a struggle to move at all, but once she had moved just a little, it became easier, though the heavy weight was a constant threat never more than an inch or two above her. Fortunately, the way her feet had been secured to the pillar had allowed her feet to rotate when she fell, and now allowed her to twist them around the pillar as she moved under the concrete on top of her. Unfortunately she reached the spot near the pillar with the most room, without enough clearance to twist her body so she could reach her feet.
By the time she managed to twist herself around enough to reach her bindings, with her metal shard, she felt like her hip joint would snap out of the socket. Working one handed, the metal tool just reaching the cord; she went immediately to work on it. Twice the jagged tool slipped and dug into her foot but she kept at it. Then suddenly she was free.
She hurt. She seemed to hurt everywhere. She wanted to rest, but the rubble above her was like a living thing to her, ready to crush her at any second. Frantically she wriggled away from the pillar to a more open area, then cautiously made her way out from under the concrete, unable to see if she was moving to a safer or more dangerous area.
Cautiously she stood, wary that she might bump something that would come crashing down on her.
She turned towards the voice and took several steps, careful to have her metal shard pointed back away from her direction. The ground was littered with debris and she kept her steps short and cautious, afraid of stepping on something that could injure her foot.
"Right here." The voice came from directly in front of her. She reached out her free hand as she took another step, touching very dust covered bare skin. Relieved, she moved forward and gave Angel a quick hug, jolted by the overwhelming relief the touch brought, then set to work on her bonds, starting by removing the tape from her face and neck then cutting her feet free when Angela said she couldn't feel them. Finally she released her hands, then some tape around her middle that was pulling her cruelly into something placed at the small of her back to cause her pain÷first confirming that it was just a piece of concrete and not an unpleasant surprise. Carefully she lowered Angel to the ground, sitting beside her and holding her steady as she leaned back against the pillar that had been her prison.
They both let out an exhausted sigh.
"I'm beginning to get upset with your brother, Angel."
Angela snorted a short laugh. "I'll talk to him."
"I'd appreciate it."
The relief brought on by escaping their bonds eased the stress keeping them going and sleep soon claimed them both. Unconsciously they moved together while they slept.
* * * *
Phyllis shot out of her waiting room chair, nearly taking Lesha ÷ who had been comforting her after she woke from a frightening dream ÷ with her. She took a single anxious step towards the petite surgically gowned women just entering the room then froze.
The tired woman pulled down her mask as she entered the room. When she saw the fear and anxiety in Phyllis's whole posture, she gave her a slight, reassuring smile that managed to light her tired blue eyes.
Reassured, Phyllis slumped slightly, as the tension drained from her and she started forward again, Lesha again ready to help or protect her.
"You'd be Phyllis," the woman stated after giving Lesha a glance.
Phyllis nodded, her voice refusing to work.
I'm Doctor Janice Kerland. Tanya is doing very well. She's a pretty tough cookie."
"Can I see her?"
Janice smiled. "As soon as she's comfortable in her room, I'll send a nurse out for you."
"Thank you," Phyllis breathed, her world starting to right itself a little.
"Phyllis, Tanya's going to take a while recovering. She was hurt pretty badly. She's going to need a lot of care."
"She'll get whatever she needs, Janice," Lesha interjected.
Janice looked up at the big woman and smiled. "I know she will, Lesha. I just want Phyllis to be prepared when she goes in to see her. She is covered in bandages, mostly for the burns, which thankfully are mild, but she also had several broken ribs. Something hit her pretty hard. She's very lucky."
"I understand," Phyllis said. "Thank you for saving her."
Janice grinned. "I just patched her up, Phyllis. Tanya's just ornery enough that not even a building exploding around her will keep her down. She's doing her own saving."
"Well, thank you anyway, for fixing her up."
Janice nodded. "Glad I was here. Now, let me make sure she's settled, then you can see her."
Janice turned and went back through the wide doors.
It was only a few moments until a tall nurse stuck her head into the waiting room, but Phyllis was ready to chew nails, the time seemed to drag so slowly. To make matters worse, Lesha had gotten several more reports on the search for Samantha and Angela, all of them bad. The only good news seemed to be that the rubble had been completely searched and they were definitely not in the building at the time of the explosion. Other than that, they just seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth.
The heavyset brunette looked to Lesha, ignoring Phyllis, her stern no-nonsense face scowling slightly. "You can go in now, but only for a short time."
Phyllis was already bearing down on the woman with frightening speed. "What room?" she asked as she went past her.
"Room six. Please be quiet and don't disturb the woman." Her disapproving tone of voice stopped Phyllis cold. When she turned around Lesha felt a shiver and hurried to get between the redhead and the nurse.
The nurse seemed oblivious to the danger. "She needs rest," she remarked, but her voice told another story.
"Do you know her?" Lesha watched her bristle and stepped towards her as Phyllis moved towards the nurse.
Phyllis held up her hand to Lesha, her angry eyes never leaving the nurse.
"Do you know Tanya?"
"I know about her," she remarked, her distaste obvious.
"What... do you know about her?"
Finally a warning bell had gone off in the woman's mind.
"Well... uhm, I really shouldn't say."
"Just a moment, Lesh. What shouldn't you say?"
"Well... everyone knows about her, it's disgusting, she's...."
"That's enough." Phyllis's voice had gone dead calm. She walked up to the nurse who, belatedly realizing her imminent danger, backed up a step.
Phyllis never took her eyes off the woman but she spoke to Lesha.
"If I see this... nurse... again, you're fired, Lesha." She turned and strode away, her back stiff, angry."
Lesha stepped in front of her, looking down on her. "Lady, you just better shut up while you're ahead. I guarantee, if you make her any madder, you'll need an ambulance."
"But she threatened me."
"No ma'am. That was no threat. That was a fact. Get off this floor." Lesha already had her cell phone open and was dialing.
Lesha held up her hand.
"David? Yeah, hi. Say listen, I'm up here on four... yea, she's pretty messed up, but Janice said she's tough enough to take on even an exploding building. Listen, I called because we need a nurse up here to take over for," she paused reading the nurse's nametag. "Ms. Jensen. She's out of here." Lesha had turned away from the nurse slightly, but saw the surprise on her face. "Oh no, way better than that, she made the mistake of slamming Tanya, yeah, no, no shit. No, not to me, I'd of just killed the bitch and stuffed her down the laundry chute." The nurse paled, stepping further back. "No, she mouthed off to Tanya's partner. I thought she was going to kill the bitch, but she just wants a nurse to take care of Tanya that does nurse things without passing judgment on her patients. Thanks, David, you're a pal."
Lesha folded up her phone and put it away, looking up at the nurse and smiling. "David said if you are still here in ten minutes he'll kill you himself so take your self-righteous opinionated ass downstairs and clock out. You, lady, are off the clock as of now."
"You're repeating yourself, and I can, and did. If you're still here when Phyllis comes out of Tanya's room, I will take great pleasure in watching her kick the shit out of you, before she fires me, and I have to kick the shit out of you for getting me fired. Beat it."
"You people are animals," she retorted before turning away.
"Maybe so, lady, but we're family animals. You pick on one of us you get us all, and we don't talk against people that can't defend themselves." Lesha turned away to follow Phyllis. "Stupid bitch," she mumbled rather loudly.
* * * *
Inevitable Destiny 18
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