THE BINDING TIE

By

Maderlin Bidmead

Disclaimers: See Part One

Violence: Lots of action in the final parts of this fic, brace yourselves for a bumpy ride.

Love/Sex: Lots of love between two ladies.

Shameless goveling: Hi, this is the writer begging for forgiveness that it has taken so long to get this part done.  My laptop died and the final part of the fic went down with it...so i have bought a new computer so that i could post fic...hence the delay.  I hope the wait was worth it and thanks to everybody who has read this story.  You make it worthwhile.

Feedback: Please at maderlin@yahoo.com

CHAPTER TWENTY NINE

Peering through the window, Francesca's eyes widened in horror.  The sudden, bright flash of light cleared to reveal a dark lump on the floor.  A second and third shot almost blinded her, too bright in the night.  Soon the spots cleared from her vision, showing her the lifeless bodies of her three comrades.  As fast as she could, she back peddled away from the cabin.  She moved too quickly and landed on her arse in the dirt, heart racing so fast that she thought it might break through her chest.

Her head was spinning.  She couldn't believe what she had seen.  They were dead.  She hadn't even heard the sound of the gun shots.  It had been like watching some sort of sick mime play out before her.  Sucking huge lungful's of air she calmed down enough to realise that she had to get Savage and do something.

Scrambling to her feet, she ran towards Savage.  The reticent warrior had been paying no attention to her actions.  As she reached him, she saw that the man was in a light doze.  Under different circumstances she would have been shocked, even angry, but she didn't have the time.  In the same way that she knew, by running along the side of the building, she could have been seen.  It wasn't important.

"Savage."  It was a hiss.

"What."  The man was instantly alert, pulling his feet beneath him and moving into a crouch.

"She saw them....She saw them and she shot them."  Unbidden, tears welled in her eyes.

"Fuck!"  He could see the wheels turning in her head, nothing good could come of this.

Before he could blink, Francesca was wrapping her hand around the cool metal of the door handle.  Before he could stop her, she was through the door.  Breathing out an exasperated sigh he began to follow her.   The sudden sound of approaching cars made his head snap in the direction of the sound.  Coming up the dirt road, at speed, were what looked like hundreds of slashing blue lights.

Savage was caught between following his charge and saving his own skin.  He was not an honourable man, he wasn't like the others.  He couldn't risk getting caught by the police for any reason.  Slaves were treated poorly at best.  In the few brief seconds it took him to make his decision, he knew that Francesca was out of reach even though she was just beyond the door. 

Sorry my brothers, was his last thought as he sprinted into the dense woods.  He quickly disappeared from view.  The distant sound of a truck engine starting could be herd before the air was filled with the sound of sirens.

**********

The click of the door closing behind her made Francesca jump. She was alone in a psychopaths house and Savage had clearly deserted her.  She had to stay calm.  Stay calm, yeah that's easy.  She wanted to snort in derision, fear making her light headed, but she held it back.

She was blind in the kitchen, the light in the room different to that outside.  There was no moon here to illuminate her surroundings.  She was scared, and the idea of waiting around while her eyes adjusted was unappealing.  It took all her courage, but she moved forward.  Step, by tentative step, she made her way towards her lover. 

She was almost to the door, when she stumbled over a chair.  Before she could fall she managed to right herself, but she couldn't catch the chair.  The wooden piece of furniture clattered to the floor.  The noise as loud as thunder in the silence of the house.  Again Francesca's heart began the rapid drumming beats of a cornered rabbit.  She was paralysed, waiting for the figure to come through the door.  It wasn't possible that she hadn't heard the clatter.

Within seconds the door was thrown open, smacking into the wall with a loud thud.  The young, dark haired woman, couldn't help but jump at the sound.  The slight adjustment that her eyes had made to the darkness was quickly eradicated as a long fingered hand flipped on the light switch.  The bright, searing white light filled the kitchen.  It burned into her sensitive eyes and rendered her totally helpless.

"Why can't you just die?"  Francesca raised her eyes in the direction of her voice.  The red mist was already dissipating from her vision.  She could just make out the shadowing figure in the doorway.

"My agent won't let me."  Where did that come from?  Francesca, this is your brain, shut your mouth!

"You think this is funny?  I knew you didn't really care about her!  Your just a self serving bitch."  The words were spat with such venom, that the intruder took a step back.  "Don't move!"

Freezing on the spot, chest rising and falling rapidly, she waited.  Her vision once again clear, she saw the tall blond stalking towards her.  Blue eyes tracked down the dangerous woman's body, drawn to the gun gripped firmly in her hand.  Francesca couldn't help but be fascinated by the other woman.  This was the women that had owned Rhani's heart for so many years.  Short, blond hair surrounded a soft, almost serene face.  All her anger and bitterness was in her blue eyes.

"Jordan, you don't have to do this...She will always love you, deep in her heart."  The heiress knew that this was a long shot.

Maybe you should listen to her.

Does she think I'm a fool?

She might be serious.

She doesn't care about me.

She cares about Hunter.

No she doesn't! 

Maybe you should give up.

She can't have her.

She isn't yours anymore.

She'll always be mine!

"She's mine!"  The words were screamed in her victims face.  Francesca had stood mesmerised as the other woman seemed to go through an inner struggle, all the while tightening her grip on the weapon in her hand.  Before the brunette could say another word she was silenced.  "Shut up!"

Blue and red light suddenly burst through the windows, filling the room.  The colours swirled red to blue, blue to red.  Sometimes mixing to purple as they speeded up.  They gave the two woman an almost surreal appearance as they stood in their tableau.  The splintering of glass drew Jordan's attention away from the other woman.  Hurtling through the window came a metal rod.  Following the sound of breaking glass came the sound of the police.  All homes, even cabins, were sound proof, the only way to make any deals from outside was to break the glass.

The sound of a helicopter drowned out all the others sounds, an intense searchlight moving back and forth over them.  Seeing the crazed woman temporarily distracted, Francesca knew that she had to seize the opening and lunged at her.  Her feet left the floor and she hit the woman with all her weight.  The two of them dropped to the floor in a heap of arms and legs.  The gun skittered across the floor.

As they began to struggle, Francesca realised just how strong the other woman was.  Her slender frame hid a strength that she could not match.  In the background they could hear the voice of the head police officer.  Using a loud speaker he must have been making demands, but the two combatants could not make any sense out of his words.  Jordan was wrapped up in her rage, focused solely on the woman who was a thorn in her side.  Francesca couldn't hear through the pounding of the blood in her ears.

A pain seared through her side as Jordan landed a solid punch to her right kidney.  Instinctively curling into a ball, as she had done many times when Douglas hit her, she waited for the next blow.  When it didn't come, she looked up, and up into the grinning face of a murderer.  Jordan stood over her, gun once more firmly in hand.  This time the weapon was aimed right at her head.  Tipping the gun, Jordan made a gesture that clearly mean Francesca should stand.  There she was, at point blank range, in front of a crazy woman.

CHAPTER THIRTY

Francesca! The sound of her lover's voice in the confines of the cabin sent a bolt of fear through the injured warrior.  That she was arguing with Jordan trebled it.  Gun shots had already rung throughout the small building.  She had hoped it was the police, finally stopping the other woman, because as much as she had loved Jordan, the woman who had held her hostage was not her.  The creature behind the blue eyes was a monster from her nightmares, not the angel of her dreams.  It was now obvious that whoever had been shot, it wasn't her.

She tried to move her broken body.  Her hands were too badly broken to even grasp the large wheels of the chair.  She gazed down at her traitorous digits, seeing them as little more than pounded pieces of meat, filled with chips of bone.  Distracted by her own pain and self loathing. the fog of pain clouding her senses , she did not at once register the strobing blue an red lights streaming through the windows.

Hunter's already pounding heart sped up another notch, feeling as though it would burst through her breast and land on the carpet, still beating and raw.  Broken in so many ways.  She should have felt relief, the cavalry had arrived, yet a sense of foreboding had taken residence in her small frame.  A leaden weight in the pit of her stomach.  So many things could go wrong.  Francesca could be hurt in so many ways, both accidentally and with intent.  If Jordan hurt the beautiful singer, Hunter would not rest until she was a cooling body. 

The voices in the kitchen had quieted since the police came, the warriors once keen hearing dulled too much by ain to hear their lowered voices.  She closed eyes that danced as much with white spots as blue lights, trying to calm her spinning mind.  The lights still played on the inside of her eyelids, but her focus became the prayer in her head.  A mantra to keep the woman she loved safe.  she sent her the only help she could.  She gave Francesca her hope.

**********

"Put the gun down.  Nobody has to get hurt." The sound of the police loud hailer spread through the kitchen, using the acoustics of the spartan room to echo strangely around them.

The two women could easily be seen  by through the large windows.  Silhouettes standing like a dangerous mime in a room painted in swirling lights.  Two tall, slender figures, one circling the other in a strange ballet.  One gun shaped hand moving constantly.  The other figure cowered under the assault.  The waiting cops didn't know who the second figure was, it couldn't be the slave she was smaller and wider than this willowy form.  Whoever she was, they could do nothing to help her, they were little more than spectators to the drama in front of them.  If they rushed in they could get everybody in the cabin killed and they wanted to take the kidnapper alive, she would be an example to other crazies out there.  They would have to wait for a window of opportunity, if there was one.

"Nobody has to get hurt."  Sarcasm dripped from Jordan's tongue.  She moved around Francesca like a cat toying with a mouse, but this was no housecat...this was a tiger.  The cool barrel of the gun traced a path across the singers flushed cheeks and trembling lips, as Jordan walked around and around.  "He's wrong you know...Somebody does have to get hurt and that somebody is you."  A mocking burst of laughter freed itself from the long column of her throat.  "Shooting you will be like an exorcism, you will no longer haunt my love and she can be happy knowing that you will never try to take her back into slavery again."
 

 

Francesca was not a stupid woman, she knew that Jordan was very serious, and obviously delusional.  You need to calm down and think.  The statuesque young woman let out a long shaky breath, Jordan letting out another mirthless bark of laughter at the sound.  Okay, deep breaths, in and out, in and out.  Alright Princess, she's really close to you and she keeps putting the gun on you....So I need to get her to step away.  That was easier thought than done, because in no way did she want to startle the unstable woman.  She caste her eyes around the room, trying to find something that could help her.  A sudden ridiculous thought popped into her head, and she had to hold back a hysterical laugh.  I should ask for a glass of water...get a last meal.  Moments passed in relative silence, the two women caught up in their own thoughts, the sound of the police no more important than the buzzing of insects. What the hell.

"C...c...can I have a g...g...glass of water?"  Her voice trembled just above a whisper.

"What?"  Jordan's eyes were almost comically wide, her voice clearly incredulous as she walked to stay in front of the other woman, little more than a foot of space between them.

Francesca shakily raised her head and looked Jordan in the eye.  Never show fear to an animal.  "Can I have a g...glass of water....p...please?"  She sounded desperate to her own ears.

Francesca watched the other woman's face go blank, like a slate wiped totally clean.  Her mouth went slack and her eyes seemed to glaze over.  Francesca almost expected her eyes to roll up into her head and for the blond to fall down in a feint.  Taking a chance Francesca moved to scratch her nose, and found the gun unerringly aimed at her temple, even though Jordan's countenance remained otherwise frozen.

This woman is unbelievable!

She's scared.

She should be.

You don't have to do this....

What?

Hunter will never forgive.

She wants her dead too...

No she doesn't...she wants to be free.

She is free.

And you are blind!

Suddenly the inside of her head reverberated with silence.  Like the aftermath of a slamming door when a loved one has left the room.  Momentarily confused, Jordan took a step back from her prisoner, the gun wavering in her hand.  Shaking her head slightly to clear it, she tried to focus on what the other woman had said. 
 

 

"No you can't have a g....."  The explosive sound of gunfire cut off her words as the police fired on the pair.  Jordan's movements had placed her in a excellent location, they could shot without endangering he other figure too much.

The volley of bullets flew through the air, causing both Francesca and Jordan to dive for cover.  Francesca ducked behind a counter, finding her back pressed to a partially open cupboard.  As her back hit the wood, a large skillet fell from the doorway and landed with a loud clang on the stone floor.  It would have been a nerve rattling sound, if the sound of shots hadn't drowned it out.  Her mind working in overdrive, the heiress wrapped her hands around the handle of the frying pan and hefted it into her grip.  Now this has possibilities.  Raising herself onto her knees, she peered cautiously over the edge of the counter as the shots died down. 

Jordan lay on the floor in the middle of the room, the gun still tightly grasped in her hand and her chest steadily rising and falling.  A small pool of blood spread out under one shoulder.  Millions of scenarios began to play themselves out in Francesca's mind, but before she could make a move, the prone figure began to stir and sit up groggily.  Jordan looked blearily around the garishly illuminated room, staggering to her feet, she was ready to locate her prey.

CLANG!  The skillet hit the back of the blond head.  Almost in slow motion the willowy woman spun around with the force of the blow, locking eyes with her prey who it now seemed had become the predator.  Blue eyes rolled back, leaving only pools of white, until she finally sagged to the floor in a boneless heap.  The gun shot out of nerveless fingers and skittered across the floor and underneath the refrigerator.

Francesca quickly satisfied herself that the crazy woman was out cold she threw the pan to the floor in disgust and marched out of the kitchen.  She knew that she should check on  the others, find out if they were alive or dead, but she couldn't bring herself to care.  Her mind was focused on one thing and one thing alone. Rhani.  She had to get to Rhani. 
 

 

**********

Hunter couldn't help but hear the sound of many guns discharging into the cabin.  Her whole body tensed in the chair, her hands once again clawing futiley at the wide aluminium handles on the wheels.  Sitting in the stillness of the lounge, the television still playing to itself, Hunter felt more of a prisoner than she had in all her life.  As the little shots died down, fading into eventual nothingness, tears sprang to the metallic eyes and spilled over hollow cheeks.  Deep in her heart she knew that both women were dead, her past and her future destroyed.  Her heart turned to dust. 

The sound of false laughter drifted through the room from the television.  Hunter cut her eyes towards it, hating the smiling faces on the flat screen.  She hung her head, feeling too weak to support it.  Her last vestiges of strength had been drained away with the death of her beloved.  Realising that the torment of the happy voices would continue she painfully cleared her throat.

"Voice commands on..."  Her throat was raw, it had been a long time since she had spoken with any real volume.  "TV off."  The screen went instantly black.

Silenced now wrapped around her like a blanket, or a shroud.  The soundproof room kept the noise of the police out, the whirling lights the only sign of their existence.  Blood pumping, heart beating, head pounding and laboured breathing were the only sounds left to fill her ears.  She raised a broken hand to her face and felt the warm wetness of her tears.

"I am so sorry my love, I should have been stronger."  The whispered words were her last prayer to her beloved Francesca, all that she could offer her now that she was gone.  "If I had been more alert none of this would have happened. I thought you were dead until today, then you are taken from me again."  Her throat closed with the pressure of the sobs that were ripped from her chest.  Her shoulders hunch further and she sank into her grief.

CLANG!

The sudden sound of metal impacting on a soft surface made Hunter's head snap up like a whip, her eyes wide and starring.  Somebody was still alive in the cabin, in the kitchen.  A tiny sliver of hope took residence in her chest, could it be?  Could Francesca have survived?  She strained her senses and could just make out the sound of something thudding softly to the floor.  She knew that sound, that was the noise a body makes when you knock it unconscious.

"Please be Chess."  The soft sound of foot falls sounded on the other side of the lounge door.

"Please be Chess."  The steps stopped at the door, and the handle began to turn.

**********

Francesca stood on in front of the closed door, her palms were sweating and her heart raced.  She was almost as scared now as she had been in the kitchen with the psychopath.  What is wrong with you Francesca?  Get in there and rescue the woman you love.  Squaring her shoulders and wiping her hands on her black pants, she reached out a trembling hand and turned the doorknob.
 

 

The door opened wide in front of her like a portal into the unknown. The room beyond it was filled with the same flashing lights as the kitchen, but the warm glow of the lamps placed at every corner softened their glare. It gave the room an almost ethereal quality, like the grotto in some demented fairy tale.  In just a few steps Francesca found herself through the wide open door and in front of her princess charming.

Looking down into the tear filled eyes, eyes that should seem cold and empty, Francesca felt her heart swell with pride.  This woman had gone through so much in her life, Francesca knew that if she had faced the same she would have given up and died a thousand times.  The blonds skin was sallow and covered in a sheen of sweat, clear signs of fever ravaging her frail body.  Her once cherubic cheeks were sunken like a corpse and the singer could barely see a piece of visible flesh that didn't bare a wound.  And her hands, her beautiful, strong hands, were broken nearly beyond recognition.  Fighting back the tears that threatened to consume her, she tilted the battered face up with gentle fingers.

"Shouldn't the handsome prince be saving the princess?"  The smile that she gave the warrior was so full of love that it dazzled the seated woman.

"Thought I'd keep you on your toes."  Her voice was rough, barely sounding like it came from her mouth, but to Francesca it was the most wonderful sound in the world.
 

 

Watching those lips move, Francesca felt herself hypnotised by the other woman.  She had only seen those lips in her dreams for so long, that even in their cut and chapped state they were irresistible.  Keeping Hunter's head tilted with gentle fingers on her chin, Francesca lowered her lips to those of her lover.  As their lips touched, Hunter held back a wince of pain, as much as kissing the brunette sung, she didn't want it to end.  The feeling of lips pressing and moulding together in love was so different from the hard, brutal kisses from Jordan that the warrior felt as though she was stepping from hell, back into heaven.  Quickly lips parted and welcomed the caress of tongues as the kiss deepened.  So caught up in the relief and joy of the moment, both women let the danger that still exist around them fade into unimportance.
 

 

When they eventually separated, the taller woman rested her forehead against her lovers and gazed adoringly into her eyes.  Hunter's attention was not as fixed, as much as she had missed Francesca, she found her training kicking in.  With the heiress in her arms, her honed skills as a warrior pushed themselves to the fore.  Protecting the other woman was once again her priority, and the pain in her body was pushed back.

"Chess, what happened?  I heard shots, then I heard you talk..."  Her raspy words were cut of by the sudden movement of the other woman as she jerked upwards.

"Oh my God, I've got to check on the others!"  She was almost at the door when Hunters calling her name.

"Where are you going?  Jordan's still in the house, isn't she?"  A small nod confirmed her suspicions.  "Then your still in danger."

"It's alright, she's out cold.  I hit her really hard and the police shot her too, I think.  I have to go check on Wolf and the others.  They came to rescue you, but Jordan shot them.  I have to see if anybody is still alive."  Hunters face had paled even further, if that was possible.

"Go."  When the other woman was out of sight, Hunter shook her head.  Why would they come after me like this?  Stupid, reckless, idiotic...Loyal friends.  It was a revelation that she had never had before.  In such a short time, under such heinous circumstances, she had gone from a surely, bitter loner to a woman who realised she had friends.  Maybe even a family.  "Now if only I could stand up life would be perfect." 

**********
 

 

The young singer was certainly not going to walk through the dark house, she'd seen those movies.  You never wanted to be the woman walking through the pitch back house with just a flashlight.  Sticky ends always awaited these women.  Francesca flicked the switch on every old fashioned light fixture that she came across.  Shadows were chased to the far corners of the cabin, leaving barely enough room for a mouse to hide in.  Not wanting to be away from Rhani for too long, she rushed along the hallway.

The dinning room looked much smaller in the light.  From outside the cabin it had seemed like a huge, cavernous room, a long way for the warriors to walk.  And it had been too far in the end.  Francesca steeled herself, ready for almost anything as she approached the first body.  She had never checked a body for a pulse before, in fact she had never been this close to a corpse before, and it made her head spin and her stomach churn.

The body closest to the door was Wolf, his head lying under the corner of the table.  Sucking up all her courage, she knelt by his side.  She could see a pool of blood under his body, shining like silk in under the fluorescent lamp.  One trembling hand reached out towards his thick neck, fingers pressing into his throat, searching for a pulse.  Slow, yet steady beats pounded against her fingers causing Francesca to let out an inarticulate sound of joy.  Quickly rushing to the side of the other two warriors she found a pulse in each one.  Looking more closely it became apparent that both Wolf and Snake were knocked down by the force of the shot.  Wolf had taken the bullet in the shoulder, Snake in the thigh.  The large table at the rooms centre had been the men's real nemeses, as they fell, both managed to hit the table with their heads, knocking them out. 

Phoenix was anther matter, her pulse was much more thready than her comrades.  Their wasn't much blood around her body, but a bullet seemed to be firmly lodged in her chest.  Suddenly time became of the essence, she really wanted to get everybody out of this house.  She rushed from the room, heading back towards Hunter.

"How are they?  Are they dead?"  Hunter tried not to panic, even though she could see the strain etched on Francesca's face.

"They're all alive, but Phoenix is weak.  We gotta get out of here now."  She was already wheeling Rhani's chair to the door.  She wanted the smaller woman to be close by, so that they could leave together.

"Well I could have told you that Chess."  The tight band around Hunter's chest relaxed slightly as she realised they were getting out of the nightmare.

**********

"Okay Chess, you need to keep calm.  Remember to keep your hands where they can be seen and to walk slowly.  Speak loud so that they can hear you."  Hunter was worried about the other woman, but her fame should make her easily recognisable.

"We'll be home soon, Rhani."  Francesca placed a kiss on her forehead before leaving the warrior in the wheelchair close to the door, but well shielded by the wall.

The tall brunette squared her shoulders, and opened the solid wooden door with purpose.  She strode out into the night, the cool air caressing her flushed cheeks as she walked towards the crowd of men on the lawn.  Hunter couldn't help admiring her statuesque lover, looking like a goddess, resolute and strong.  I can't wait to get home

Outside, Francesca was overwhelmed by the noise of the sirens.  Overhead a chopper closed in, its bright searchlight illuminating her light a spotlight.  Shaking under the scrutiny of so many eyes, she kept her hands held way above her head, stretching them skyward.  Nobody would think that u were used to singing in front of big crowds, woman.  These are the good guys.  Stopping halfway between the house and the police, every gun aimed straight at her, she wasn't sure how she could make them hear her.  As if reading her thoughts, the sirens went silent and the chopper moved away.

"Um....I'm Francesca Prince...The woman who kidnapped me is in the house."  She shouted at the police, desperately wanting them to hear every word.  "She's unconscious.  My lover is injured and their are three unconscious people in the house, all of them have been shot."  She had begun to shout faster and faster.

"Miss Prince, move away from the house, your safe now.  We'll send a team in once we have you safe."  The voice coming over the loud hailer was filled with concern, more for his job than the woman in front of him.  If she got hurt, he wouldn't have a career anymore. 

"You don't understand..."  Even as she tried to make then go into the cabin, she found herself moving quickly towards them wanting to be surrounded by safety.

She focused her gaze on the man with the microphone, he became the centre of the tribe of soldiers standing in front of her.  She would get to safety and then she would make them get Rhani out and they would go home and live together, happily, forever.  So set was she on her journey, that she almost missed the look that passed over the balding man's face.  A look of horror flashed across his shiny face, quickly turning into a anger.  He was looking passed her and back at the house. 

Francesca couldn't help but turn, compelled by the need to see what he saw, she was now facing the cabin her back to her rescue.  What she saw froze her to the core, there in the doorway, framed by light, stood Jordan.  Her gun was once again clutched in her hand.  Her bloody shoulder and matted hair gave her the true appearance of madness.  Her outward appearance finally giving in to her inner psychosis.

"Miss Prince, get down!"  The shout was loud, but the command was lost on the young woman who was paralysed with fear. 

There was no standoff, as soon as she stood fully in the doorway Jordan raised her gun.  It wouldn't matter how fast she police aimed she would get off the first shot.  She could see the terror in the other woman's eyes as she looked at the gun and her face cracked into a broad grin as she heard the police try to help.  She cocked the gun and placed her finger firmly on the trigger, pulling it back.

As the trigger hit home, a sudden force hit her from the side with enough force to knock her off her feet.  The gun discharged into the body on top of her, allowing the woman the bullet was intended for the chance to run to the police.  Jordan lay there, stunned, unable to understand how anybody could have got that close to her without her hearing.  The wind had been knocked out of her, all she could do for the moment was cast her eyes around the floor.

Her eyes fell on the toppled wheelchair on the floor beside her.  In a rush she knew that the body on top of her was Hunter.  A scream ripped itself from Jordan's through, as out in the night, surrounded by men Francesca let out a similar scream.  Hunter had taken the bullet meant for her.  Jordan gently rolled the body off of her chest and onto its back.  Looking at the small warrior, Jordan could see the red stain spreading across her chest.  A chest that was not moving at all.

Staggering to her feet, she once again found herself looking at Francesca.  The heiress was being held firmly by two police officers, tears streaming down her face and inarticulate screams coming from her throat.  Jordan felt her heart turn leaden in her chest.

She's dead.

You killed her.

Your all alone.

"NO!"  The scream burst from Jordan's lips as she raised the gun to her temple and pulled the trigger.  The watching cops were stunned.  The movement had been so fast that they had barely registered what was happening until it was over. 
 

 

Blood sprayed from the back of her head as her arm fell limply to her side.  Standing proud in the doorway one moment the lifeless body suddenly crumbled like a puppet with its strings cut.  She landed in a heap beside Hunter, head resting on the small warriors shoulder, her blood covering them both.  Her last wish to be with Hunter in death as they had not been allowed to be together in life...inseparable.

EPILOGUE


 

 

"Are you alright honey?  Do you need another pillow?  Some juice?" The worried voice beginning to grate on her nerves.

"Earplugs..."  The low growl was missed completely by her lover.

"I could bring the TV in here, you've been in the hospital so long.  I missed having you here with me."  The big warrior sat down on the edge of their bed.

"Mathew, look at me.  I'm fine now, just a few more weeks of rest and I'll be good as new.  I had enough babying at the hospital, a girl can only take two months of that.  Now I wanted to be treated like normal."  She got a resigned look from the big man.  She rested a slender hand on his meaty forearm.  "How's your shoulder?"

"I'm good as new.  So is Snake, we're like rubber balls."  He flexed his shoulder to show her it was true.

"And how's..."  Her voice was quiet, sad.

"As well as you would expect, better than I thought.  I guess it'll take a while for her to get back to normal."  Wolf's usually twinkling eyes held a shadow as he spoke.  "Francesca wants to talk to all of us, she's been waiting for you to get out of the hospital.  She wont say why, but she wants us all here tomorrow...there going to invade our love nest ." 

"For shame!"  She answered his pout.  "I can't wait."

**********

The four slaves sat around the small bedroom.  Meg laying in the bed, her back propped up on pillows and her head resting on Wolf's shoulder.  The big man had barely left his wounded mate's side since she was released from the hospital, and now sat at her side on their bed.  On either side of the bed sat Savage and Snake.  Each man had pulled up a chair so that they could all sit and face the fifth person in the room.

Francesca felt totally at ease with these people who she had once seen as slaves.  They had come to mean so much more to her than that over the last few months.  These people were a part of her family and had risked their lives for the people she cared about the most.  Francesca sat on the window ledge directly in front of the large bed.  Framed by the window she looked like a dream, her sad blue eyes and dark hair contrasting with the sight of the gardens through the glass.

"I know that you've al been wondering why I wanted to talk to you like this, and honestly I could have spoken with you in private, but I wanted to do this with us all together."  She locked eyes with each individual.  "I know that when you arrived here I was a real bitch and I treated you all quite badly.  But I think of you now as friends.  You have helped my family so much that I know I can never repay you.  My father thought he'd give it a try, though."  She pulled some documents from the bag at her feet.  "It's not easy to set people free.  Emancipation isn't the done thing, but after what you've done I knew that I couldn't own you.  Last week my father went to court and got each of you declared free men.  These are your new papers.  You can do what you want from now on.  Whatever you decide to do, I'll make sure that you have enough money to start a new life."  She finished and once again looked at the four bodyguards.

A buz went through the small group.  The heiresses words were not totally unexpected, they had known that she would try to give them some level of freedom.  Perhaps even let them live free on the estate, but this was unprecedented.  They would be free to go where they pleased, live the lives that they had always been denied.

"Let me get this straight, if we leave you'll give us enough money to start a new life?"  Savage was all about the money.

"Yes, and even if you stay you will be given the same and a wage for whatever you want to do here.  Do any of you know what you'd like to do?"

"I'm blowing this Popsicle stand.  I'm going to Vegas.  Hire myself out as a bodyguard and have plenty of time to learn how to be a high roller.  Time for me to live the life that I've never been allowed to."  It came as no surprise o the other slaves that this was savages plan.  He had talked about this scenario for years, and finally his dream of freedom had come.

"So you've thought about this?"  Francesca was amazed with the speed of the mans response.

"What slave hasn't?"  Snake's question was rhetorical.  "I have always been unsure of what I would do.  I think I would like to go on a journey, find my spiritual centre.  But I have no definite plan."

"You do whatever you need, you won't  have to worry about expenses."  The couple on the bed were talking together in hushed tones before they turned to look at Francesca.

"We want to stay here.  We like you and the children a great deal, and you love my best friend.  If we stay, could we....um....could I be a gardener?  I love plants and its just nice to be outside."  Wolf looked like an expectant child.

"I would love for you to stay and you can do whatever job you want to.  This whole block will belong to you.  You can have it converted, you can design the plans yourself."  The young woman's heart felt a little lighter knowing that she had made real friends among these fierce men and women.  "I want to make a memorial to Polar and Grizzly on the estate...if that's alright?"

"That would be wonderful..."

**********

"Mama, make them hurry up, I wanna go now!"  The usually quiet little girl tugged on her mothers pant leg.

"Kids we're gonna be late!"  Francesca called up the stairs as she finished applying her lipstick.  She wanted to look perfect for this meeting.

Two sets of baby elephant steps came crashing down the stairs as Rochel and Terrance joined their mother and little sister.  They looked at a picture postcard family, all dressed up nice and polished clean. With a quick check to make sure nobody needed a pee they were on their way in the big green SUV that Francesca had bought on a whim.  She liked the colour. 

**********

Two teams of children ran around the huge a carpet of lawn as they played with a soccer ball.  Among the children several adults tried to keep up, pulling silly faces and tickling any child that got in their path.  Championship quality play it might not have been, but to the woman watching it seemed like much more fun.  It was one of those days that you could call perfect, the sun was shining but it wasn't too hot, she was surrounded by family and she had a cool glass of lemonade.  Just one thing was missing.

A long shadow suddenly fell over her seated form and with it came a wider smile to her face.  The cherubic face tilted upwards to regard the beautiful woman towering above her with eye filled with adoration.  Blue eyes regarded her with the same intensity, before briefly flicking over towards the children.

"Hard to believe its their birthday again, time moves so fast."  Her voice was sad, and the seated woman wouldn't stand for that.

"Come here."  She held out her hand and drew the other woman onto her lap in the sturdy wheelchair. 

Sitting sideways on the smaller woman's lap, Francesca gazed into green eyes that shone with love.  She reached up a hand to caress the skin around them.  "I love these."

"I've grown rather fond of them myself, its nice to see you as you really are.  I can never thank you for paying to have those implants removed, now when I look at you and it hurts its only because I love you so much."  The two women shared a soft smile before their lips met in a kiss.

"What did the doctor say?"  The singer began to toy with a soft strand of gold.

"With luck I'll be out of this chair by the end of the month, I should make a full recovery with how well I've been doing."  Her partners face didn't mirror her enthusiasm.  "What?"

"Then we have to face the world."

"I know it won't be easy, Chess."

"Why does everything have to be so hard?"  She snuggled her face into th other womans neck.

"We have each other, Chess.  We'll always have each other."

THE END


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