Cage Undone Part Six
Well thanks for waiting…work has been akin to my close dysfunctional family…. all over the place and giving me no peace at all…. grin…humble apologies to my family for any offence taken…and I’m sorry for taking so damn long..
I have to give credit to the trip to Montana, Linda, Barb, Cheyne, Mickey, JP, Lynne, Carrie all have reason to accept thanks…they got my brain back on track…grin, slainte
Lifting my pint to the newest addition to my own little collective…Wesley James Jandoc…Froglets little tadpole…grin…I’m an uncle again. He hiccups on command…what a guy. Grin.
Chapter Fourteen (corrected)
“You know, I don’t know who’s going to survive.” Shelly muttered as she watched her children be run ragged by an overgrown twelve year old.
From her perch on the porch Olivia looked out from under the bill of her newly stolen US Army cap. She had to laugh at the sight of Cage chasing and being chased by two swimsuit clad children.
“I think it’s a toss up,” she stretched out for her beer and wondered when they were going to be ready for food. “But…it’s going to be fun finding out. I really will give her credit if she can wear your two out.”
Shelly sipped on her beer and thought about it. “Hell I’ll give her cash if she can do that.” After a moment she laughed out loud when her son was tossed down to crash in the grass. Instead of crying like he might have when he was with his father he picked himself up, laughed and joined back into the fray. “She’s good for them.”
Olivia nodded with an indulgent smile. “They’re good for each other. I don’t think she’s had fun in a long time. I hope she can find it now.”
“I hope she finds more than fun, Olivia.” Shelly shot back after a sip off the bottle. “I think you’re good for her. And you’re right. Lately here, it’s just been her walking through things. But now, she’s the person I knew when I was a kid.”
“Hero love.” Olivia tried to deflect.
“Bullshit. She was my hero then and yeah I’m a damn good cop ‘cause of it but she looks at you like I wish someone would look at me.”
“Umm, Shelly…she just dropped your daughter in the kiddie pool.” Olivia tried serious but failed.
“It was on her head.” Olivia almost stuttered.
Shelly visually checked on her daughter who was laughing up a storm. “Well as long as it was on her head.” She smiled a wicked smile.
“God what did her parents feed her?” Olivia wondered out loud.
“I’m not sure we really want to know.” Shelly muttered and suddenly lurched out of her chair. “I’m hungry and grilling dinner.” She stalked into the cabin.
“How ‘bout some salsa?” Olivia tried to distract her friend and cringed when the cop came out with the plate of readied steaks.
“You can’t put salsa on steaks while grilling.” Shelly answered with a serious expression.
Cage walked around to the back with two squealing children securely tucked to her body. “Anyone wanna claim these? ‘Cause if not I’m grilling them…they crunchy and go good with ketchup.”
Shelly looked around with a curious eye and pretended to think about it. “No room on the grill…they get to live another day.”
Cage let the two children slowly lower to the ground. “Darn, I was looking forward to nice and tender kid legs…grrr…” she hid the grin.
“If you did that we couldn’t run,” Shelly’s daughter spoke up.
Cage looked down at Jen. “Ah, the ever practical one. Are you sure you’re only six?”
Jen nodded. “I just had my birthday. You weren’t there. Why?” the child asked innocently.
“I wasn’t in town kidlet.” Cage smiled. “Maybe I’ll be there next time.”
“Good.” Jen smiled and looked up at her new friend. “Cage don’t let mom grill.” She was suddenly serious.
Danny slid closer and nodded. “Yeah. Mom can’t grill.”
Olivia stood behind Cage and whispered, “Go save dinner, Quinn.”
Cage walked away from two children and the woman she was pretty sure she had fallen for; towards her childhood friend wondering why going to war seemed like a much better idea right now.
Shelly looked up from the plate of steaks and suppressed a grin. “They sent you over to save dinner didn’t they?”
Cage swallowed and nodded. “Yeah. So are we gonna fight about this or are you just going to give in?”
“Can I think about it?” Shelly finally let go of the smile. “Come on do you really think I would risk hurting these perfect steaks? I know I can’t grill to save my life, but I’m hungry…. I had to do something.”
“We could have grilled the kids.”
“And lose that child support? Woman now I know you’ve never been married.” Shelly laughed and handed over the plate. “Grill the cows, I’ll make some salsa.”
“What no margaritas?” Cage teased.
“I could only wish. I’m on call tonight, gotta keep my wits. Grill woman.”
“Yes master.” Cage adopted a subservient pose and shuffled the short distance to the grill. She couldn’t hold back the smile that crossed her features. She liked this long forgotten feeling of friendship and fun. She took in a lungful of air and felt the restrictive band loosen around her chest. Yes, she could get very used to this feeling.
Cage listened for the normal cabin sounds before sitting up in bed. She waited a short while longer before sliding out from under the blankets. She could not quite pinpoint what it was that had woken her up. She stalked on quiet feet around the interior of the cabin without turning on any of the lights. A quick peek into her guest room revealed Olivia buried safely under the blankets.
She took a long deep breath in reaction to the sudden surge of feelings that tightened in her chest around the vicinity of her heart. It was a new feeling for her, this ability to acknowledge that she had feelings for someone. The last time she’d even felt anything close to this she remained silent. She had one rule she never broke. Don’t chase any person who was taken. Especially taken by someone she considered a friend.
Peering down at Olivia she felt the band around her chest loosen to be replaced by something she could not identify. Stiffening suddenly at the feel of a breath dancing across the back of her neck she turned and found nothing. It was something she was getting used to, but she still didn’t like it.
“Ellen you really have to work on your timing.” Cage tried for humor. There was another cold breath across the back of her neck. “Ok, maybe you’re not up for jokes tonight.”
Cage eased her way out of the guest room trying not to wake Olivia, closing the door gently behind her. She looked around the cabin and suddenly felt foolish. For some reason she was looking for a glowing specter. She shook her head and laughed to herself.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when a loud knock sounded on the door. Cage automatically reached for the side arm that wasn’t there and cursed silently. She knew better than to go anywhere without a weapon. The knock sounded again, almost impatiently.
Cage eased to the door and peeked out the peephole. For some reason her mind couldn’t figure out why a State Trooper was standing on her porch. She unlocked the door and pulled it open.
“Miss Quinn?” He asked with his smoky bear hat in his hand.
“Yeah. Can I help you?” She sounded amazingly calm.
“Ma’am, Trooper Ware is wanting you at the hospital. I’m supposed to drive you there.”
Cage’s stomach clenched as her throat tightened down. “What’s the situation Trooper…?”
“Haskin’s Ma’am. Trooper Ware and a Miss Feller were hurt tonight and both would like you to come.” His answer was courteous laced with just a touch of worry.
“How bad?” Cage had to ask.
“Trooper Ware is a little banged up but Miss Feller is in a bad way.” He admitted quietly.
“Trooper Haskins take a seat. We’ll be ready to go in just a few minutes.” She stepped aside to let the young man inside.
Cage walked quickly into her bedroom and pulled on dirty jeans and a mostly clean shirt not bothering with a bra. She bolted into the guest bedroom and shook Olivia awake. Not bothering with a full explanation she spoke in short hand. “Get dressed…we’re moving now…Lindy’s hurt…move your ass Shadow Wolf…”
Olivia woke with a start and for a moment just stared at Cage until her words sank in. She threw the blankets aside and caught the clothes that were tossed in her direction. A small part of her brain registered the scent of barbeque smoke and salsa where she’d spilled it on her shirt.
“What’s going on and how do you know this?” she asked as she dressed as fast as she could.
“Trooper Haskins is waiting to drive us to the hospital.” Cage answered with an edge to her voice. “We need to move.”
“I’m almost ready, just let me splash some water on my face then we can go.”
Cage nodded once and left the guest room and entered her bedroom. Without a thought she took up her 9mm Sig Sauer and slid it into a leather jacket. The one especially designed to carry the weapon without showing the weapon profile. Unless one was looking for a weapon they would not see it. She didn’t have to check to see if there was a round in the chamber, there always was.
“I’m awake I swear. Let’s go.” Olivia muttered as Cage emerged from her room and looked at the Trooper and Olivia.
It took no time for Trooper Haskins to make sure they were buckled in and then floored it. Shelly was his boss and more importantly his friend. If she wanted these women at the hospital then he was going to get them there fast. He proved why he had earned his chase vehicle status.
“Cage, breathe.” Olivia had to order after a ten-minute stretch of road that really didn’t need to be taken at seventy miles an hour.
“I’m good. But it’s Lindy.” Cage muttered with a tight voice.
“I know. I’m mad too…but we have to get there alive.”
Cage took a deep breath and let it go. “Who ever hurt Lindy is going to pay.”
Olivia slid her hand over Cage’s and put just a slight pressure on skin, it was just enough to let her what ever Cage was now know that they were in this together. “Don’t jump before it rains Cage.”
Cage looked over at Olivia for a second and then turned her attention back to the road. “It’s raining somewhere in the world.”
“Why do you say that?” Olivia asked quietly.
“Lindy is one of my girls. No one hurts my girls. Not without payback and not without justice.” Cage’s voice was soft and cold at the same time.
“Cage…” Olivia had to suspend what she was going to say as Cage took the corner into the ER parking lot hard. She gripped the suicide handle hard and could only blink as they pulled into a spot with a squeal of tires.
“Let’s go.” Cage muttered as she released her seat belt. Olivia followed in a fog. “Trooper Haskins, outstanding driving. My own soldiers could not have done it as well.”
He half grinned. “Thank you Ma’am. I’ll go in with you. I know where they always keep Trooper Ware.”
Olivia shut the door on her side. “She still giving Millie a hard time?”
“Always. Hard to believe those two are cousins. Hell hard to believe I married into that family.” His smile didn’t quite reach his eyes; they were too filled with worry.
“You said she was banged up a little.” Cage began as they quick walked to the entrance.
“She is, but you know how it goes. Even if it’s a scratch you worry.” He answered honestly.
“How bad is Lindey?” Olivia finally asked what no one else wanted to address.
Haskins took in a deep breath. “All I really know is that they were going to take her into surgery. Before Trooper Ware passed out she said Miss Feller fought back hard. We’re looking for who did this. Not just for Trooper Ware but for Miss Feller as well. Miss Lindy is a favorite around here even before her troubles with her husband.”
Cage looked him in the eyes and found them to be sincere. “Just for the record, if you don’t find him I will. Even if I have to register as a bounty hunter in this state.”
“Cage…” Olivia began.
“I understand Ma’am. I’d like to think that I’d do the same.”
The doors to the ER opened automatically and they walked in without further conversation. Haskins opened his mouth at the Nurses station and found a nurse on the phone who pointed one way without breaking her phone conversation.
He nodded and led the way to the back curtained off section. Even before they could see the door they heard Shelly.
“Damn it Millie, quit poking at me. I already told you it hurts.” It was Shelly even if she sounded more nasal than before.
“Well duck next time. Now I’m going to hear about this for weeks from the family.” Millie answered in a deep yet feminine voice.
“You’re going to hear about this? What about me?” Shelly shot back. “You come near me with that damned needle and I’m putting you on your butt.”
Haskins heard the last exchange and rolled his eyes with a weak smile. “Think I’ll sleep on the couch tonight.”
“Trooper Ware, I heard that.” Shelly tried to bellow but it lost the desired effect in the nasal stuffy tone.
The curtain slid open and both Cage and Olivia halted in their tracks. Tears welled up in Olivia’s eyes. “Oh Jesus Shelly.” She breathed out.
Shelly’s face was half black and blue, it was obvious that her nose had been broken. The ice pack she held to the left side of her head offered a hint as to the beating.
“That raccoon look you’re sporting is kinda cute Shelly.” Cage said easily despite the roiling anger in her gut.
“Yeah, I’m sure to get a date out of this with someone.” Shelly answered in a complete dead pan. “You two want to hear about it I guess.”
Cage and Olivia nodded. “Yes.” Olivia answered and dragged a plastic chair over.
Shelly leaned her head back against the pillow and closed her eyes. “A very long time ago I gave my work cell number to each of the girls. She called about two hours ago, gave me her location and said that she and Mrs. Cooper were being followed.”
“Which one is Mrs. Cooper?” Cage asked Olivia.
“Well I got to Industrial and Lindy is fighting with Charlie, Jane’s soon to be ex husband. He hit her with his damn baseball bat just as I pulled up and she went down. I got out of the car and drew down on him and the next thing I know I’m seeing one big star in front of my eyes. He had company but I couldn’t tell you who it was.” Shelly explained the night with closed eyes as though she was reliving the incident.
“Why was she fighting with him? I told her…hit and run. Damn.” Cage sighed and let her shoulders sag.
“She was protecting Jane.” Shelly answered simply. “That’s what Jane said.”
“What were they doing on Industrial?” Olivia wondered out loud.
“Well Ma’am, seems they went to the movies and after they got out that’s when Charlie started following them.” Trooper Haskins offered the information with a sorrowful tone. “Damn shame when a woman can’t even go to the movies.”
“And Charlie?” Olivia asked with a knowing tone.
“He and his friend got away. We have word out to the hospital and all the doctor clinics though.” Shelly muttered around the pain that was beginning to flare again.
“Why?” Cage perked up.
“Lindy fought hard Cage. We think she busted his nose and she got him across the face with those nails of hers. He’s definitely going to be carrying around those scars for a long time.” Shelly answered.
“Good. I hope they get infected and his face rots off.” Cage nearly growled.
“I second that thought.” Shelly agreed then her face twisted in anger. “I fucked up. It’s my fault.”
“It’s not.” Cage insisted, her face inches from Shelly. “You did your job.”
“Not fast enough.” Shelly answered and didn’t wait for an answer. “I should have hit lights and sirens, but I didn’t. I could have justified it. I didn’t and Lindy is in surgery for it.”
Cage growled. “Belay that shit right now, Trooper Ware.” Cage took a breath. “You did your job, it’s an asshole that needs the blame on his shoulders not you.”
“I should have done better. I should have looked around before I got out of that car and I damn well should have called for backup on a higher response code.” Shelly insisted.
“Back up from who? The Sheriff’s department? Please. You closest back up is usually fifteen minutes or more away, right?”
Shelly did not answer with words but the expression on her face was enough.
“Shelly? Who’s with the kids?” Olivia asked. It was a change of subject and everyone understood it even if no one commented.
“I called my ex. He’s going to pick them up and take care of them until I get out of here, which should be a couple of days. If they ever get me a room.” Shelly directed the comment to her cousin.
“You are such a baby. You’d think you were hurt or something. MRI came back negative for brain damage.” Millie shot back. “And I told you, it’s going to be about another hour for a room. You’ll feel better when the doctors clear you for pain meds.”
“Well please tell him to hurry. I’m one big lump of hurt right now.” Shelly finally admitted out loud.
“Do you need anything?” Olivia asked softly.
“Just have someone bring me my jammies. I am not wearing this damn hospital gown the entire time I’m here.” The trooper nearly begged.
Trooper Haskins raised his hand. “I’ll run by Phil’s and tell him to bring ‘em to you when he brings the kids to visit.”
“Trooper Haskins remind me to put you in for a commendation for that.” Shelly tried to joke then repositioned the ice bag.
“We’ll get out of your hair if Trooper Haskins will take us back, after we check on Lindy.” Cage moved to Shelly’s side and took her hand gently. “I’m glad you’re okay, relatively speaking.”
“They won’t tell you anything about her condition Cage.” Shelly answered with a frown.
“No they won’t tell Cage, but as an administrator for the shelter they have to tell me. We had the papers drawn up for power of attorney when she came to us.” Olivia sounded almost smug, but there was not even a hint of a smile on her face.
Cage closed the front door, locking it behind them. Without a word Olivia wandered into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. Instinctively she knew they would not be going back to sleep any time soon.
Cage found her way into the kitchen and hung her jacket up on the back of a chair. Sitting down she felt the weight of the last three hours settle squarely on her shoulders. She let her head fall into her hands. She felt like crap and she felt responsible to a point.
“Quit that.” Olivia did not turn away from getting coffee mugs and creamer ready.
Cage did not lift her head. “Quit what?”
“Quit taking on what’s not yours.” She answered quietly.
“Olivia, I taught her those moves. I did.”
“Yes, at my request. Is it my fault? No. Don’t you dare interrupt me Quinn.” Olivia took a breath and moved forward. “What is done is done. What we do now is what counts, not what we have done or could have done.”
“She had brain surgery.” Cage barely contained her rage.
“And if she hadn’t fought they might be kidnapped or dead.” Olivia reasoned. “You gave her the skills to keep them alive, maybe not whole but alive. You helped her do that.” Her voice was impassioned.
Cage hung her head. “I wish I could believe that.”
Olivia turned away from the coffee and walked over to the soldier. She wrapped her arms around Cage and held on tight. “Believe it. When she comes to I’m sure she’ll tell you the same thing.”
“I don’t want her to die. I couldn’t deal with that.” Cage admitted in a harsh whisper. “I’d miss her stories and her smile.”
Olivia sank to her knees and pressed her head against Cage’s shoulder. “Please don’t think that way. She’s going to be fine.”
“What if she’s not?” Cage choked out slowly.
Olivia sighed but not out of frustration. “I wish I knew. I’m scared as hell that I’m going to lose someone I’ve come to see as a friend not just a client. I love the stories and the fact that she likes double chocolate mint ice cream,” Olivia didn’t bother with the tears that began down her cheeks.
Cage turned slightly and tenderly wiped at the stream of tears. “I know.” Without thinking she lowered her head and brushed Olivia’s lips with her own. It was the kind of kiss that was meant to be reassuring, comforting.
Olivia returned the kiss without letting it escalate further. “Thank you. I think I needed that.” She said after she gained a breath.
“I think I should be the one saying thank you. I’m sorry for Lindy but right now all I can think of is the feel of your lips on mine.” Cage managed to rasp out as she laid her forehead against Olivia’s.
“I know.” Olivia breathed out. “Help me get them out.”
“Get them who out where?” Cage was confused again.
“Lindy and Jane when we can. When Lindy is better.” Olivia clarified while clinging to Cage’s body.
“Do you know how hard that might be?” Cage asked.
“Probably. But can you?”
“I’d have to call in some favors, but yeah.” She admitted.
“I have a little money saved up if it will help.” Olivia said softly and felt Cage bristle.
“We don’t do this kind of thing for money.” Cage’s voice was a brittle cold edge.
“I was thinking gas money.” Olivia clarified with ease.
“It’s an honorable thing to steal a woman from abuse, even among the black Irish.”
“So you black Irish count coup as well?” Olivia tried to ignore the urge to kiss Cage again.
“Is that what you call it? Counting coup?”
“Yes. What do you call it?” Olivia wondered.
“Thievery.” Cage grinned and leaned in for another kiss, this one as soft and gentle as the first. “It’s part of the reason the family was run out of Ireland in the first place.”
Olivia had to laugh. “And the rest of the reason?”
“I told you about the landlords daughters.” Cage answered with a smug smile.
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