For disclaimers see part 1
With a groan of pain, Robin tried to open her eyes but it felt like the lids had been glued together. It was hard to move, her whole body felt limp and heavy, making her want to lie down and sleep. Something was nagging in the back of her mind. She could not really remember what, but somehow she knew it was important.
Mustering up all the energy her tired body could provide, Robin opened one eye, expecting to find herself in her own bed, with a magnificent hangover. Some time soon, her mother would be entering her room, giving her grief about going to a late night party .
With a stab of pain, Robin suddenly remembered her mother was not alive anymore and she let out a soft moan. It happened sometimes, the dreams that made everything seem so real. In her dreams, her parents were still alive and she was happy. Until she woke up and realization set in.
With a sigh Robin rubbed her aching head. It was hard to remember what had caused the throbbing pain behind her eyes and in the back of her head. Had she been drinking? She could not imagine she had. But then, what had happened?
"I need to wake up my brain. What happened?" Robin whispered to herself.
Robins eyes flew open when she heard a soft moan next to her and slowly she pushed herself up, until she was sitting. With a dazed look, she glanced around the dimly lit, unfamiliar room. She took a deep breath, trying to push away the feeling of nausea that had settled in the pit of her stomach and moistened her dry, cracked lips.
Again, she heard a soft moan and her eyes slowly traveled through the room, until they came to rest on a long, dark-haired figure, curled up on the ground.
Suddenly she remembered.
"Fiona!" Robin breathed, trying to get up, but her legs felt like they were made out of jelly and she slumped back against the hard ground.
With a sob of frustration, Robin crawled towards the photographer, while her body protested, begging her just to lie down and go back to sleep.
Ignoring a few sharp rocks that scraped her knees, Robin determinedly made her way over to Fiona and when she had finally reached her, she gratefully sank down next to her.
With trembling fingers, she brushed the dark hair away from Fionas face, immediately noticing how pale the photographer was, even in the low lighting. The color of her skin made her freckles stand out even more and, in spite of her misery, Robin smiled. Not being able to control her desire to touch that skin, her fingers cautiously traced over a dark, shapely eyebrow and slid down a freckle dusted cheek. When, in reaction, the dark eyelashes fluttered, Robin slowly pulled her hand away. She watched as Fiona opened her eyes, to close them again immediately.
"Ouch, that hurts," her voice croaked. "What happened? Did we get drunk, or something?"
"Or something," Robin answered with a sigh. "Im glad you re awake, though. How do you feel?"
"I dont," Fiona muttered, covering her eyes with her hands. "I hurt."
"He must have used gas, to knock us out," Robin explained, coughing . "Thats probably why we feel so sick. I remember us being pushed in the back of that truck and him slamming the door. The last thing I remember is hearing a sort of hissing noise."
"I thought it was a snake," Fiona confessed in a hoarse voice. "But I guess it wasnt, since we re both still alive."
"I wonder where he took us," Robin mumbled, looking around the small room. The floor was made out of rock, that seemed to be volcanic, just like the walls and the ceiling.
With obvious reluctance, Fiona opened her eyes and studied their surroundings.
"Looks like a cave to me," she sighed, wincing in pain when she pushed herself upright. Her eyes followed the wire that ran from the weak light to a small hole in the rocky surface.
"Smart," she mumbled. "I bet that thing is solar powered. We must be in a cave somewhere, Robin."
"Im afraid so," Robin nodded, immediately regretting that motion, because a sharp pain shot through her head. "I wish I knew how long weve been unconscious. That way we could figure out how far away from home we are."
Fiona felt a lump rise in her throat and swallowed hard to push it down again, which was hard to do, because her mouth and throat felt like they were made out of leather. She did not want to break down. Not now. And certainly not in front of Robin.
"He took my watch," she heard Robin say and when she looked up she noticed the distress in the other womens eyes. Robins voice, naturally husky, was rasping and Fiona knew that if the biologist was only half as thirsty as she herself was, she had to be in agony.
Looking around the small area, Fiona noticed some items in a dark corner and with a groan of pain, she grabbed the wall and pulled herself up. Immediately she felt her knees buckle, but stubbornly she held her ground, until her legs lost the rubbery feeling and she could take a few tentative steps.
"Careful," Robin croaked, lacking Fionas strength and staying where she was.
Slowly, Fiona walked towards the items that had piqued her interest, every now and then leaning against the wall for support.
When she was able to examine the small pile, she was grateful to see a few bottles of water. Picking up two, she walked back to Robin and let herself slide down the wall, until she was sitting on the hard, cold floor again.
"Here," she said, handing Robin a bottle, who took it and twirled it around in her hands, studying it from every angle.
"Not thirsty?" Fiona asked with a forced smile.
"Oh, yeah, very," Robin sighed. "Do you think its safe to drink though?"
"The bottles are sealed, so, yes, I think so. Besides, if hed wanted to kill us, hed have done it already, dont you think?" Fiona answered, uncapping the lid and taking a careful swig. She cautiously tasted the water and then swallowed it, letting out a small sigh of relief.
"It tastes good, try it."
But Robin didnt need any more encouragement. She opened the bottle and immediately gulped down half of it. She would have drank it all, if Fiona had not grabbed the bottle and pulled it away.
"Slow down, Miss Sponge, I dont want you to get sick," she joked faintly. Her face became serious when she cast a quick look in the corner. "Besides, we dont know how long well be here."
"What else is there?" Robin asked curiously, knowing Fiona was right.
"About ten bottles of water, some cans of meat and beans and, believe it or not, a chemical toilet."
"Really? No bathtub or shower?" Robin remarked dryly.
"Sorry, its not the Hilton here," Fiona smiled, happy to see Robin had not lost her sense of humor. "No jacuzzi and no chocolates on the pillow."
"Well, thats the last time I book a room in this joint," Robin answered. "Any chance of a blanket being here somewhere?"
"Sorry," Fiona mumbled, not looking forward to sitting and sleeping on the hard, uneven surface. "Hows your head? As painful as mine?"
Robin nodded and bit her bottom lip. She really should stop doing that. Every time she moved her head it hurt. Badly.
"Do you want an aspirin?" Fiona asked softly.
Robins eyes lit up and she glanced at her companion with expectant eyes.
"Did he leave some?"
"No, he didnt," Fiona answered, reaching into the pocket of her shorts. "But I have some. Apparently, he only stripped us of our watches and didnt bother to check our pockets."
"Do you always walk around with aspirin in your pocket?" Robin curiously asked, sending Fiona a grateful look when she handed her one of the white tablets.
"Not as a rule, no," Fiona answered, swallowing down her pill with a sip of water. "I forgot to put them in my bag. Good thing I did, huh?"
"Very good, thank you," Robin sighed, reaching out and grabbing Fionas hand to give it a gentle squeeze. "Youre sweet," she added softly.
Aware of the hazel eyes studying her expression, Fiona shrugged her shoulders and pulled a face.
"Dont let that get around," she joked, feeling a little better after drinking the water. "Besides, I..." she hesitated for a moment before continuing. "I really am not, sweet, that is."
"Yes, you are," Robin answered gently. "But you just havent discovered that part of yourself yet."
"And you have?"
Ooops, tricky question, Robin. How are you going to answer that one?. Think! Stall!!
Robin brought the bottle back to her mouth and slowly took a few sips to buy herself some time. She was aware of the curious look in Fionas eyes and she knew the photographer was patiently waiting for an answer. She wanted to be honest, without giving up the distance she thought she needed so badly.
"Ive seen the way you interact with Taryn and Timothy and I noticed how your family, especially Jody, can push all the right buttons and make you seem...human," Robin answered with a mixture of warmth and humor. It had the desired effect, because Fiona grinned, momentarily forgetting about her headache.
"Theres hope for me still," she responded with a wink, before leaning back against the wall and studying their surroundings with a critical eye.
"We re in trouble, Robin," she finally said matter-of-factly.
"Yes, we are," Robin answered with a sigh. She looked at, what appeared to be the entrance; a small opening in the wall that was blocked off with something on the outside.
"Do you think we can push away whatevers on the other side?" she asked with a hint of hope in her voice, deep down inside knowing that would probably be impossible.
"Did you see that bloke?" Fiona responded with a raised eyebrow, but she walked to the small opening, where she knelt down and curiously examined the entrance. She reached out a hand and pushed against the hardboard that was firmly held in place by something on the outside. It didnt budge. Not even when she used her legs to try and make it move.
"I guess its pretty sturdy." Robin raked her fingers through her hair, noticing the slight tremble. "We re stuck in here, arent we?"
Fiona looked down at the older woman, who was still sitting on the cold floor and who was glancing up at her with sad eyes. She nodded and let her tall body slide back on the hard surface, until she was sitting next to Robin. In spite of the cool air inside their makeshift prison, she could feel the warmth radiating off the biologists body. It was strangely comforting.
"I suppose stuck is the right word," Fiona agreed. "I guess we wont immediately starve to death, seeing the boogy man left us some wonderful haute cuisine. All we can do right now is wait for somebody to come looking for us. Im sure that by now they know we re missing."
"You think so?" Robin sighed, feeling tired and miserable. All she wanted to do was lean against the taller body next to her, in search of some warmth and comfort, because Fionas presence made her feel safe and protected. But she knew she could not give into that longing, so Robin leaned back against the wall, wincing when she felt the sharp rock against her back.
"I know so," Fiona smiled, trying hard to keep her voice light. "Sams security system must have recorded our...kidnapping. They know were gone, believe me. Theyre looking for us right now."
Trishia Waters had just stepped out of the shower and was in the process of toweling herself off, which was not easy, considering Lucys roaming hands were very distractive, when the phone rang.
Rolling her eyes in frustration, Lucy stepped back and sent her partner a saucy grin.
"This conversation will be continued later, Senior-Sergeant," she purred, blowing the police woman a kiss. "Without interruptions."
Trishia chuckled and eyed the phone that was still ringing. She really didnt want to answer, but she knew she had to. She was already running late and knew her Inspector expected her to give a briefing in...Trishia cast a glance at the alarm clock...forty-five minutes.
With a frustrated sigh she stepped into the bedroom and picked up the phone.
"Trishia Waters," she announced, immediately stiffening when she heard the tense voice on the other side. "What?...Sam, are you...? Of course youre serious. Did you call the station?....Alright, good...What happened?....Damn...you got that on tape? Great. Ill be right there....How are Jody and Joshua?....Sure...no,no, Ill bring her with me. Be right there. Call my cell phone if you hear anything."
Trishia slammed the phone down and turned around, not surprised to see Lucy was already dressed. Her long hair was wet and she was quickly braiding it to keep it out of her face that was pale and withdrawn.
"What happened?" she asked, glancing up at her partner who was quickly buttoning up the shirt of her uniform.
Trishia swallowed hard, dreading having to tell her partner the bad news. Lucy could get very emotional and she hoped and prayed that the shock of what she was about to tell her, would not affect her early pregnancy in a negative way. She knew Lucy expected her to be honest and straightforward. Beating around the bush was not an option.
"Fiona and Robin have been kidnapped," Trishia answered in a voice that was laced with rage and frustration.
Lucys hand froze in mid-motion and her eyes went wide when she looked at her partner, trying to process what she had just heard.
"Kidnapped?" she whispered.
Trishia nodded and stepped closer to Lucy, so she could wrap her arm around the soft, familiar body. Immediately, Lucys arms slid around her waist and for a few moments they stood there, close together, strengthening each other with their closeness.
"How?" Lucys hoarse voice sounded.
"He waited till they had crossed the bridge, then blocked their path, blew up the bridge and calmly got out of the truck. They had nowhere to go."
"Is it on tape?"
"Yes, all of it," Trishia sighed, grateful for Sams persistence in keeping their security system upgraded.
"Are we going there now?" Lucy felt Trishia nod and looked up into a pair of pained green-blue eyes. "What about the bridge?"
"Sams got a crew over there right now, fixing it," Trishia answered. "Peter and Carol Wong are on their way as well. We ll meet them there."
"Lets go then," Lucy spoke, untangling herself from Trishias body, but a pair of strong hands on her shoulders stopped her.
"Are you alright? If this is too much, I..."
"Honey, this is my family. I need to be there and Ill be fine," Lucy swallowed hard and tried to ignore the fear that spread through her body and threatened to make her physically ill. The confrontation with the possibility of losing her sister and the toll it could take on her unborn baby, were almost too much to bear. But she didnt have a choice. Her family needed her. And she needed her family.
"Ill be fine," she repeated in a whisper, blinking away the tears when she saw her own fear being reflected in Trishias eyes. "I need to be."
"Ill find them," Trishia promised. "And I swear Ill catch whoever is responsible for this."
"I know you will," Lucy smiled through her tears. "I love you, Trishia."
"I love you too, Lucy," Trishia whispered back, putting a warm hand over Lucys belly in a protective manner. "And I love our baby and I will protect it with all I am."
"Yes, you will," Lucy smiled, pulling Trishias head down for a quick, but heartfelt kiss.
"Lets go, honey," Trishia whispered when they broke apart. "Time is precious."
"When did you find out, Sam?" Trishia asked, pacing the room. She looked like a caged tiger, with a body full of coiled up energy, ready to act in the blink of an eye.
Samantha Stevens cast a look at their kitchen that was filled with people. All of them different, but with one common denominator; they were all angry, frustrated and worried.
Sams eyes traveled to Jody, who was sitting next to Lucy, with one arm draped around her sisters chair. Her face was calm, but anyone who knew her well, could see the emerald green eyes were dark with worry and, occasionally, flashing with anger.
"I heard an unfamiliar sound," Sam explained, nervously drumming her fingers against her thigh. "At first I didnt think much of it, but Kurt jumped up and just took off, down the road." Sam paused for a moment to compose her thoughts. "I told him to stay put, but he didnt listen. To me that was a sign something was up. I went into my office to have a look at the security system, because that was faster than driving down the road and when I switched on the monitor I..." Sam swallowed hard and took a deep breath to control the anger she could feel rise inside her chest. "I was just in time to see the truck leave. Fionas car was in the middle of the road, with the doors wide open, the bridge was collapsed and the girls were nowhere in sight."
"Do we have a license plate?" Trishia asked Peter Jones, who was busy scribbling something on a small notepad.
"They re tracking it right now," he calmly answered, but the tension in his voice was clearly audible. "Hopefully, we ll have a name soon."
"Dont get your hopes up," Carol Wong spoke up from her seat on Lucys other side. "This looks like its been well prepared. The truck is probably stolen. What are our leads, Trishia?"
Carol Wong cast a look at the grim expression on the face of one of the best police officers she had ever worked with. Trishia Waters was conscientious, thorough and reliable. And she had an instinct that had never proven her wrong. Yet.
"Im fairly certain the kidnapper is the same person that has been roaming the mountain the day before someone fired a shot at Fiona and Robin. Hes the one Fiona took a picture of. The build and height are the same. And he wears the same mask," she added in something that closely resembled a growl. "That means hes been hanging around for a while, staking out and waiting for a chance. He knew where to find the girls. He also must have known when to find them. There was no luck on his side. It was too well-planned. He has information about this family. I dont know where or how he got it, but Ill find out."
Trishias stormy eyes met a pair of alert clear blue ones and for a brief moment Sam and the tall police woman shared a silent conversation. They knew from the expression on each others faces that they were having the same thoughts. And the expression on their faces turned from surprise to anger to determination. If it had not been such a tragic situation, they would both have laughed about it.
"Spill it," Carol Wong ordered, having seen the exchange of looks. Her intelligent brown eyes darted between Trishia and Sam glinting in her eagerness for answers.
"Ira," Trishia and Sam spoke at the same time.
"Son of a bitch!" Trishia cursed, slamming her right fist in the her left palm. "That creepy, little slime! I bet he has something to do with all this. I can feel it in my bones."
"Ira?" Jody echoed. "But how? Hes a friend of Michael and I dont think that..."
"Hes not a friend, honey," Sam interrupted, shaking her head. "He practically forced his company on your brother and Mike was just too nice to say no. He wanted to do the right thing and give this guy somewhere to stay during the weekend."
"So, you say hes a spy?" Lucy asked with utter disbelief.
"I bet he is," Trishia answered with a voice full of self-confidence. "And I bet that Michael can tell us exactly what kind of questions he has been asking him." Trishia turned to Sam and shot her a questioning look. "Do we have a last name on this bloke?"
"He introduced himself as Ira Kilwins."
Trishia looked at one of the police officers who were lined up in front of the kitchen counter and, in response, he immediately stood up straight.
"I want you to contact the University in Brisbane and find out anything you can about this bloke."
"Yes, Senior-Sergeant," the young officer nodded. He was about to step outside, when Jodys soft voice made him stop dead in his tracks.
"Its an anagram," she said, her voice void of emotion.
Her eyes had a sad expression when she looked up at Sam, who stared at her with disbelieving eyes.
"Its an anagram, Sam. Kilwins....Wilkins....Could he be related to Gerry Wilkins?" her soft voice sounded loud in the suddenly silent kitchen.
"Whos Gerry Wilkins?" Lucy asked, shooting her sister a puzzled look.
Trishia, who had been frozen on the spot after Jodys words, looked at her Inspector with an expression that was a mixture of hope and excitement. When her eyes traveled back to Jody, they were filled with respect and admiration.
"If he is, we might have found our missing link," she said, her voice hoarse with emotion.
"What time do you think it is?" Robins voice penetrated Fionas somber thoughts and she slowly opened her eyes.
"Ive no idea. I dont know how long weve been unconscious. For all I know, its Christmas 2008."
In spite of their misery, Robin chuckled and sent Fiona an amused look.
"In that case, Merry Christmas, Fiona."
With a grin, Fiona pushed herself up from her slumped position against the wall and gingerly stretched her legs. They were stiff and cold and deep down inside she knew that the cool temperature in the cave would slowly but surely make things worse for them.
"I wish I could tell you the time. Judging by my growling stomach, its way past lunch time. It could even be night, I dont know. Weird how the lack of a watch in a place like this can be so...disconcerting."
"I know," Robin nodded, rubbing the cool skin of her bare arms and legs. The pain in her shoulder had returned with a vengeance and she tried hard to ignore the dull, throbbing pain.
"Does your shoulder hurt?" she heard Fiona ask and she nodded.
"How did you know?"
"By the way you move and the way you keep rubbing it," Fiona answered. "You dont have to be a brain surgeon to notice that, Robin," she added teasingly.
"Thats obvious," Robin answered, smiling when she heard Fiona chuckle.
"What?" Robin looked up at Fiona who was patting the hard surface in front of her.
"Come here," the photographer repeated. "Scoot over here. I wont bite."
"What are you going to do?" Robin frowned.
"Nothing illegal," Fiona quipped with a wink. "Now, stop questioning my sincere motives and get your behind parked right here."
Thats very close, Robin. Youd practically be sitting on her lap. Robin swallowed hard and tried to ignore the warning voice in the back of her mind.
Sitting on her lap, huh? And that would be wrong...why, exactly?
"Alright," she sighed, wondering what Fiona was up to. Whatever it was, she hoped she could handle the close proximity without making a fool of herself.
Obediently, Robin took a seat in front of Fiona, very aware of the warm presence at her back. Slightly nervous, she moistened her lips and she opened her mouth to ask:What now?, when all of a sudden she felt a pair of warm, strong hands descend on her painful shoulder, gently rubbing and kneading the painful muscles.
Robin closed her eyes in pure bliss and could not prevent a soft moan from escaping her lips. Behind her Fiona laughed softly, but she didnt make any remark. Instead, the photographer cautiously worked Robins shoulder, hoping she wouldnt do anything that would make the pain worse.
"I hope I dont hurt you," she spoke after a long silence. "Im not exactly a massage therapist."
"You could have fooled me," Robin sighed, letting her head drop forward, ignoring the interesting tingles that Fionas touch sent through her body. For a few precious minutes, she was able to forget that she had been kidnapped and had been locked up in a cave with no way to escape.
Fiona bit her lip and stared at the back of Robins head and neck, while her fingers did their best to bring the other woman relief. Judging by the small, contented noises Robin made, she guessed she was doing the right thing. Gently pushing away a strand of curly hair, Fiona let her thumb cautiously stroke the soft skin of Robins neck. It was logical to think that when the shoulder hurt, the neck would as well. Right?
Fiona briefly closed her eyes, wondering what it would be like to lean forward and let her lips brush across the soft, inviting skin that was so tantalizingly close.
Her eyes snapped open and mentally Fiona slapped herself. Robin was not interested in her and the only thing she could do to save herself from some very embarrassing moments, was to keep her distance.
Inwardly, Fiona chuckled wryly. It was not exactly as if she would know how to proceed anyway, even if Robin would have been interested. All she could do was use her intuition and imagination. The latter one was working overtime already anyway and Fiona realized touching Robin was not helping her any. But it felt so good...
"We need a plan," Robins voice suddenly filled the silence and Fiona let out a small sigh. Back to reality.
"I know," she answered, without interrupting her gentle massage. "Any ideas?"
"Ive been thinking, but the only plan I can come up with is to jump on him as soon as he gets back. If ever," she added softly, with a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"Hes probably armed," Fiona answered calmly, although Robins remark had made her heart pound in her chest. The idea of getting into a physical confrontation with the big man, was not exactly appealing. Nor reassuring.
"All the more reason to take him by surprise," Robin replied. "If wed both jump on him, we might have an advantage."
"My only black belt is part of the suit I wore at my first exhibition," Fiona answered dryly, making Robin chuckle.
"I love your sense of humor, Fiona," she said warmly, feeling the kneading fingers still, only for a second before they resumed their blissful work.
"Thank you," Fiona smiled. "I assume your...brief...police training did leave you with a few tricks?"
"Just a few," Robin nodded. "But I used to do some martial arts. I even taught a class or two in self-defense. That was one of the ways I paid my way through university."
"Remind me never to pick a fight with you," Fiona teased lightly. "But Ive got to admit it makes me feel a little better. So, Warrior Princess, whats the plan?"
"Hit him...hard... and then make a run for it."
"Mmm...that sounds pretty...basic. We dont know where we are, though."
"It cant be worse than being locked up in this...this..."
"Hibernation paradise?" Fiona added helpfully, smiling when Robin laughed.
"Something like that," Robin agreed. She half-turned to cast a look at Fiona, feeling a rush of blood coarse through her system when she noticed how close the dark-green eyes were. And those soft, pink lips...
Quickly she turned around again, not aware of the faint blush that colored Fionas cheeks.
"Well have to do it together. If not, we dont stand a chance."
"Just tell me what you want me to do," Fiona replied, her voice a little hoarse. She quickly cleared her throat and hoped that Robin could not feel the trembling of her body.
The sun was descending, painting the sky in shades of pink and orange, when Kurt let out a loud, happy bark and bolted down the road. Startled by the unexpected sound, Jody looked up to see a familiar car steadily climb the hill.
A warm feeling flooded through her body when she jumped up and stepped off the veranda in order to greet the visitors, who had become her family.
"Sam! Yarra and Alice are here," she called over her shoulder, momentarily forgetting the gnawing feelings of fear and worry that had taken up permanent residence in her stomach.
Before the car could even come to a standstill, a door was opened and Alice jumped out. The blondes face was pale and withdrawn and when she wrapped her arms around Jody in a tight hug, the smaller woman could hear a soft sob.
"Any news?" Yarra asked, as soon as she had exited the car.
Jody shook her head and willed away her tears. She had promised herself to remain calm and positive. Lucy, Joshua and the rest of her family needed her. Not to mention the twins, who had been extraordinary sweet that day. It was as if the toddlers felt something had happened, because even Taryn had been on her best behavior, constantly seeking Sams or Jodys company and cuddling up to them.
Timothy had quietly watched the nervous and frantic adults pace through the kitchen, living room and veranda and with a serious expression on his face he had studied the constant stream of coming and going people, mainly police officers.
When the little boy had noticed the silent tears on his aunts cheeks he had climbed into her lap, gently patting her cheek, before he had wrapped his little arms around Lucys neck to give her a sloppy, but well-meant kiss. It had made Lucy smile through her tears and from that moment on Timothy and she were inseparable.
It had warmed Sams heart to see the comfort her son was able to bring to his aunt. As young as he was, it was obvious that Timothy had Jodys character and she was grateful for that. Her family meant the world to her. Now, if they could only find their missing loved ones and bring them home...
"I felt something was wrong when I woke up this morning," Alice sniffed, wiping away the tears that had welled up in her eyes.
"She did," Yarra nodded. "I told her it was probably nothing." Yarra bit her lip and Jody could see the guilt and distress in her soulful brown eyes.
"Thats the last time I ignore one of Alices premonitions," she swore. "I should have listened and called Fi to tell her to stay put and..."
"Yarra, honey, dont do this to yourself," Jody interrupted softly. "Its not your fault. This...attack...was well-planned and thought out. He would have found another way."
"Im so sorry, Jody," Yarra spoke, her voice almost breaking. Fiona was one of the best friends she had ever had and the thought that somebody might hurt her drove her insane with worry and anger.
Alice let go of Jody and wrapped her arm around her lovers waist in a silent gesture of love and support.
"We still dont know where he could have taken them," Jody explained softly. "Hopefully theyll find a clue soon. Or maybe hell contact us..." her voice trailed off and Alice saw the emerald eyes darken. Glancing up at Yarra, she caught the look in her lovers eyes and she nodded.
"Jody, listen," she began slowly, looking at the woman who once had saved her sanity and life. Jody had given her hope and had helped to restore her faith and rescued her ability to love.
"Last night, I had a dream," Alice continued, seeing Jodys intelligent green eyes light up with interest. "It was before all this happened and I couldnt make any sense of it. But..." Alice hesitated for a moment, but then continued. She was among family and nobody would ridicule her. "As soon as I heard about Fiona and Robin I knew my dream had meaning. Jody, I think I know where they are."
"So, what else did you do when you were a student?"
Robin opened her eyes and shot Fiona a dazed look. She had been dozing and the unexpected question had interrupted some very nice fantasies. The subject of those day-dreams sitting right next to her on the cold, hard floor.
"You mean job-wise?" she asked, seeing Fiona nod.
With a sigh Robin straightened her back and legs, crossing them at the ankles. She knew that Fiona trusted her and she did not want to lose that. She needed to tell her the truth, no matter how uncomfortable that would make her feel. Or both of them, maybe.
"I worked in a bar."
"You make it sound like thats a despicable way to make a living," Fiona responded calmly. Robins voice had carried a hint of shame and guilt.
"It wasnt a regular bar, Fiona," Robin sighed. "I worked as a top-less waitress."
Fiona did not immediately respond. She just turned her head, so she could look at the woman next to her and when Robin finally dared to look up, Fionas eyes were warm and sympathetic.
"You must have received a lot of tip-money," she smiled with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
Robin felt a blush creep up her cheeks and with a groan she covered them with her hands, while Fiona laughed softly.
"Im sorry, I didnt mean to embarrass you," the photographer chuckled.
Its just that, if you would have been my waitress, I would have given you a very generous tip.
Yes, and why is that, Fiona McDonnell?
"Thank you, I think," Robin finally responded, glancing aside at the woman next to her. "Its just that...its not something Im really proud of. I felt pretty cheap, but I needed the money. My parents did leave us some, but I had Josh to take care of and I wanted to make sure there would be money left if he decided to study. Studying at the university is not exactly cheap."
"No, it isnt," Fiona agreed. She stretched out her hand and covered Robins fidgeting fingers, immediately feeling them still. Giving the hand a gentle squeeze, she pulled away slowly, wishing she could have left it there. But, as she had noticed before, touching Robin was not a good idea. It awoke a tidal wave of feelings, she still had difficulty making sense of. Fionas biggest concern was the fact that it felt so right. So comforting. Part of her wished there could be some physical distance between them, so she could try to make sense of all the emotions that flooded her senses, while another part of her wanted nothing else but to be close to Robin. As close as possible.
In the meantime, Robin tried to still her racing heart by taking deep, slow breaths. Fionas comforting gesture had taken her completely by surprise and even though the warm fingers had only held her hand for a brief moment, she could still feel her skin tingle.
Deny all you want, Robin, but your bodys response doesnt lie. Youre so attracted to her, you re about to explode!
Effortlessly, he found his way through the forest, where the darkness had set in early. The canopy of trees, shading the underlying world from the sun, filtered the daylight and provided the early night he craved so much.
While his long, strong legs carried him down the steep slope, his thoughts were occupied with the things he had to do. There were things he wished he had thought of before. Like the note. The man had wanted him to make the girls write a note, as proof he had not hurt them.
He was content with that. Deep down inside he had been afraid the man would have ordered him to cut off a finger, or an ear. He had seen it in the movies and the thought alone made him sick to his stomach. Killing someone was one thing, torturing was something completely different. Unconsciously, his gloved hand went to his masked face. He knew all about torture and pain. And injustice. The only one he wanted to suffer was the one who had been responsible for taking the life of the only person who had been like family to him.
He pushed aside a few branches and eyed the contraption he had made to close the entrance to the little cave. Nobody would be able to find it. Even if somebody would pass it, some lost hiker, it would be invisible. It was hidden behind some bushes and the entrance itself was blocked with a piece of plywood, held in place by a few huge boulders, only he could move.
He nodded and stepped a little closer, ready to move the first of the three huge rocks. He knew the tricky part would be when he would crawl through the small opening. It was the only moment he would be vulnerable. But only for a few seconds, because he was fast. Besides, the girls might still be asleep from the gas he used. They had been when he had carried them up the hill and back down again on the other side. They had not even moved or made a sound. There had been a few moments he had thought that, maybe, he had killed them. But when he had stopped, he had heard their breathing.
The gloved hands grasped another boulder and slowly he pushed the heavy rock aside. He reached out for the plywood and lifted it up, seeing the opening to the cave appear.
Grasping the gun that had been securely held in place by his belt, he stepped closer.
"Are you tired?" Robin asked softly, turning so she could see Fionas face.
"Bone tired," the photographer sighed. "How is your headache?"
"Practically gone, thanks," Robin answered with a small smile. She changed position, wincing when she accidently sat on a sharp piece of rock and wiggled back towards the wall, in search of a comfortable spot. The idea of having to spend the next days like this almost made her scream in frustration. She didnt even dare to think beyond the next few days. What if it would be longer? A lot longer? What if they would never be able to get out?
Robin closed her eyes and felt hot tears well up behind the closed lids. What would happen to Joshua if she would die? Would Sam and Jody be kind enough to look after him? They would be heartbroken if anything would happen to Fiona.
A wave of nausea traveled through her body. She would be heartbroken as well, if something would happen to the photographer. But then, they were in it together. Whatever would happen, she, Robin, had the chance to be there for Fiona and help her, in any way she could. Even if they would have to face the end of their lives, they would do it together and she...
Robins head shot up and her eyes opened wide when an unexpected scraping sound suddenly shattered the silence. Turning towards Fiona she noticed the tall woman had already jumped to her feet and was extending a hand to help her. Robin grasped the offered hand and felt herself being hauled up.
Sharing a nervous look, they both grasped their makeshift weapons and positioned themselves on either side of the entrance. Robin looked up and noticed that, even in the dim light that illuminated the cave, Fionas face was pale, making her eyes look even darker. But her expression was one of grim determination and her tall body was coiled in tension. Ready to strike.
The scraping sound became louder and when it stopped, the entrance to the cave suddenly was not as pitch-dark as it had been before. Robin squinted her eyes and peered intently at the only way to freedom. Outside she could detect the dark outline of leaves and branches, while a soft breeze filled the cool, but stuffy cave.
With their hearts pounding in their chests, Fiona and Robin watched breathlessly as a dark, solid form started to crawl through the small opening. He grunted softly, when his shoulders scraped the uneven, sharp rock.
He was moving fast. Faster than Robin had anticipated and with a look that bordered on panic, she clenched the heavy object in her hand, glancing at Fiona who gave her a curt nod.
For a brief moment, their eyes met and in Fionas gaze, Robin could see the trust the other woman had in her. There was no time to second-guess herself. No time to hesitate. If they wanted to live, they needed to act.
When the tall, solid frame of what Robin believed had to be their kidnpper, cleared the entrance she sent up a short, heartfelt prayer. It was now or never.
"Now!" she shouted.
Immediately Fiona took a swing, hitting the man on the side of his head. He howled in surprise and in pain. His grip on the gun tightened and he was about to bring up his hand, when a vicious kick against his elbow made him lose his weapon. Another blow landed in his chest, knocking the breath out of him and, through a thick, foggy haze, he could hear some voices, but they sounded far away. Then, all of a sudden, when he was still trying hard not to lose consciousness, his body was jerked forward. He growled in frustration and felt another blow, this time on the back of his head.
Everything turned black.
"Did we kill him?" Fiona asked with a quivering voice, staring at the still body that was lying at her feet.
Robin knelt down and quickly checked for a pulse, letting out a breath of relief when she could feel a rhythmic, strong beat underneath her fingertips.
"No, hes alive and theres no telling how long hell be out. Well have to go."
She jumped back to her feet and followed Fiona, who had already crawled through the small opening and who was nervously rocking on her heels.
"Did you get the gun?" she asked, as soon as Robins head appeared through the opening.
The muttered curse was enough answer and she noticed Robin was about to turn back into the cave, when they both heard an angry, frustrated growl coming from within.
"Forget the gun," Fiona almost shouted, grabbing Robins arm and hauling her to her feet. "Weve got to go. Now!"
Still holding on firmly to Robins arm, Fiona pulled the other woman with her into the darkness. She knew they had to be in the rainforest, but had no clue as to where. It was too dark to see more than a few feet in front of them and she didnt know if they were heading in the right direction. But at the moment she didnt care. All she wanted was to put as much distance between themselves and their kidnapper.
"Do you know where we are going?" Robin panted, constantly looking over her shoulder to see if they were being followed, which was useless, she knew, because it was too dark to see anything.
"Away from him," Fiona answered, cursing when she almost tripped over a thick tree root.
"Good enough for me," Robin answered, breathing hard. Her ribs and shoulder were still sore and the running did not help to improve the uncomfortable feeling. A small rock made her lose her balance and with a muffled scream, Robin felt herself fall forward, closing her eyes shut and waiting for the impact.
She had not counted on Fionas reflexes though. The photographer had felt the woman behind her slip and she quickly turned around, stretching out her arms to steady the biologist. But they had been running and as soon as her hands grasped Robins shoulders, the momentum took them both down, sending them crashing into some bushes that were, thankfully, free of thorns and thick enough to prevent serious injury.
Fiona hit the ground first and before she knew what was happening, Robins body impacted with her own. To prevent them from sliding down further, Fiona wrapped her arms around Robins slightly smaller frame and held her tightly, while she stretched out her legs, digging her heels into the forest ground to stop them from moving. It worked and after a few tense moments they came to a stop; Fiona stretched out on the damp ground, with branches sticking into her back and Robin draped across her front.
"Well, that was fun," she gasped, breathing in a lung full of fresh air that smelled like earth and wet leaves.
Robin, who was very aware of her position on top of Fiona, could only nod, while she was trying very hard to catch her breath.
"Thanks," was all she could utter, before slumping down and putting her head against Fionas shoulder. She could feel the arms that had been holding her so tightly loosen their grip, but they didnt leave. Fionas hand rested on Robins back in an oddly comforting and protective gesture and, in spite of the situation, Robin smiled. She knew she had to move and give Fiona some breathing space, but her body refused to obey the commands her brain tried to send to her muscles.
It took them both a few moments to catch their breaths and when they did, Robin was aware of the silent chuckle that ran through Fionas taller body.
"Whats so funny?" she asked, still not moving.
"Us," Fiona answered. "You re a biologist, Im a wildlife photographer. We both spend a lot of time in forests, but as soon as we re together in one, disaster strikes."
"I know," Robin sighed. "I dont know whats up with that."
She started to untangle herself from Fionas body, but immediately she felt the arms around her tighten again. With a frown she looked up, but the only thing the darkness permitted her to see, was the shape of Fionas face.
"What?" she whispered, feeling her mouth go dry. Now the initial shock of their fall was over, she had become aware of how good it felt to be in Fionas arms and feel that tall, lean body underneath her.
"It probably sounds really weird," Fionas voice sounded, with a mixture of amusement and wonder. "But in spite of that tumble down the hill, I feel pretty comfortable right now. Better than Ive felt all day in that cave."
Robin swallowed hard.
You ve got no idea how good this feels, Fiona McDonnell. If you only knew what my body was trying so hard to tell me, youd run screaming.
"Im squashing you," Robin replied in a voice that was huskier than usual.
"No, you re pretty light," Fiona answered in a serious voice. She was very aware of all the firing synapses in her body that sent a tingling feeling from the soles of her feet to the top of her head.
She liked it.
Unconsciously her hand had started to gently rub Robins back and Fiona could feel the weight of the other woman increase, when Robins body relaxed under her soothing touch.
"Fiona," she heard a whisper, close to her ear. It sounded like a question and breathing suddenly became difficult again.
"Robin," Fiona answered, equally soft, not aware of how longing her voice was.
She could feel a whisper of a breath caress the side of her face and Fiona closed her eyes, determined to not scare Robin away.
The biologists lips were so close to her ear, they were almost touching it and, as if they led a life of their own, Fionas arms pulled Robin even closer.
"Fiona...I...," Robins voice sounded and Fiona moistened her dry lips.
Suddenly, the body on top of her stiffened and just when Fiona was about to ask what the matter was, she heard it. The faint, but distinctive sound of breaking twigs and crunching leaves.
What the heck were you thinking anyway, McDonnell? Theres an idiot whos out to get you and Robin and the two of you are casually having a serious episode of foreplay...or whatever. Move! Move!
"Weve got to get out of here," Fiona whispered, the tension back into her voice and she could feel Robin nod.
Quickly getting to their feet, they grabbed each others hand as in an unspoken agreement. Losing each other in the dark was not an option.
"Move down the hill, but carefully," Robins voice sounded in her ear and Fiona nodded.
They didnt speak. All the attention was focused on their practically blind, risky way down the hill, while all the time, they could hear the tell-tale sounds of somebody following them. Someone who was slowly, but surely, moving closer.
To be continued in part 11
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