Beneath The Brambles, Chapter 3

"Two to one, over." The radio clicked and popped and Harley thought for the thousandth time this month how much they needed to replace this antiquated system with a new state of the art PB set. Just like all the other times, however, she realized the town's funds simply weren't there for it, and sighed.

"One here, Roger. Over." The deep voice responding was so familiar to her she didn't have to hear it clearly to know what was said. Which was a good thing because no one else would have been able to decipher the real words amidst all the static hissing and popping her radio gave off.

"Everything is quiet here; I'm going to take a seven at The Nest. You know what to do if you need me, over."

"Roger that. Bring me back the Special and some pie, please. Over."

She had to chuckle at that because she knew she now had leverage.
"Sure thing, IF you make sure to tape the game for me tomorrow. And no commercials this time. Swear it or go hungry, over."

The voice on the other end groaned and Harley knew she had made her point. The muffled curse was expected as well as the resigned answer.
"Deal. But it's gonna be my turn when baseball season starts, over and out!"

She keyed off her radio and smiled to herself. She knew she just ruined his day. He'd be up all night and not get to bed before nine and then he'd have to get up again at one to tape her football game. She hated having to scroll through commercials.
As she turned into the parking lot of the Raven's Nest, she gave a passing thought once again to buying one of the newer VCR's she heard about that you could program to automatically edit out the commercials. She just turned around the building, looking for an empty spot when she saw them.


Shasta knew she wasn't completely defenseless here. She had been taking a class in Tae Bo for almost a year now and knew she was holding a lit cigarette that could be used a weapon handily. She knew the lumbering jerk that was coming at her was drunk as a skunk too. That helped.
What didn't help was that she had very little room to maneuver in the packed parking lot and the guy had ten inches on her as well as at least a hundred pounds.
Before she could reason what to do, he made a lunge for her. She fell back against an old Cadillac as he grabbed her upper arms in a tight grip and brought his mouth down toward her face.
"Jus hole still. You'll like it, you'll see, now come..."

Shasta brought her right foot up and then down again, hard, on the drunk's instep. It might have had a greater effect on him had she not been wearing running shoes and had he not been wearing steel toed work boots, but it was just enough to distract him and loosen his grip on one arm. She grabbed her opportunity when it presented itself and shoved the lit end of her cigarette into his neck and screamed "FIRE" at the top of her lungs. She just about broke his hold on her other arm and was leaning away from him when he took her down to the asphalt with a powerful blow to the left the side of face. She hit the ground hard and instinctively brought her right hand down to break her fall.

The pain shooting from her wrist took her breath away and before she could recover again to defend herself he was on top of her. His left arm lay heavily across her throat and his right hand covered her mouth hard enough to split her lip.

"Now you jus shut up. Just shut the fuck up or I'll break your lil neck."

His eyes were squinted and unfocussed but the look of rage on his face was unmistakable. Quite ridiculously the writer thought to herself, Well, so much for a relaxing month in the mountains, before the fear kicked in big time and she started to sweat and whimper and pray.
His hand left her mouth, grabbed her right breast, and squeezed. Hard. If she had the breath to do it, she would have screamed, but as it was, all she could do was open her mouth and let the tears come silently. He shifted, and as his hand went to his belt buckle, she tried to bring her knee up to his crotch. She only got a few inches when the pain in her head was back with a vengeance as the slap left her ears ringing.

"Try it again and I'll fuck your corpse."

Opening her eyes as the pain receded, she thought she was dreaming.

Suddenly, standing over the man on top of her...straddling them both really, was ... salvation. She looked the same as she had earlier, but the deputy was now holding a gun to the side of the man's neck. She pulled the hammer back and it clicked audibly as it touched his skin. Her voice was amazingly quiet. Calm almost...  but threaded through it was an undercurrent of something so dangerous, so... palpably deadly that both Shasta and her attacker froze. The writer could feel the small hairs on her arms and the back of her neck stand straight up.

"This is the law. You have only two options here. You let go of her and follow my directions when I tell you to, or I pull this trigger. Are we clear about our choices?"

No vestige of the inebriation he had been under remained as his eyes shot wide open and he tried to speak. He succeeded only in whimpering and as he tried to work his mouth, the deputy pushed the barrel of the gun harder into his neck. At that point, he lost all bladder control.

Hearing the hiss of the urine hit the ground by her feet made the deputy smile. It was a hard small smile, but it was there nonetheless. The blonde hadn't been able to take her eyes off the woman towering over her and even in the frail light of the parking lot lamps she could see the edges of her mouth turn up and the flash of those perfect white teeth. She thought she was imagining it, but it appeared in the half light as though the woman's canines extended slightly more than her other teeth and the look on her face could only be construed as... as what, damn it Emily, you're a writer! What is that look? And why does it scare the shit right outta me?

"I see you've come to the right decision," she purred. "Good man. Now when I say, I want you to put both arms on the ground with you palms flat on the asphalt. Now do it." The man complied slowly and the shaking in his arms was evident to all of them. "Turn your head as far to the left as it will go and drop your chin to your shoulder." He did. "Now. Using your hands and the tips of your toes only, start crawling backwards until I tell you to stop."

How he managed it without collapsing was amazing. His arms were shaking so hard that his body was rocking back and forth.

As soon as he cleared the blonde's torso, she pulled her legs up and rolled over and over until the tire of the truck she was next to, stopped her. Then she just folded into a fetal position and closed her eyes.

Harley made him keep backing up until his toes touched the tires of her car and then had him lie down and turn his head away from her and fold his hands behind his head.

She opened her door and grabbed the radio and her cuffs off the console. Shoving the radio under her left arm and switching the gun to her left hand she flipped open one cuff and kneeled on the small of the man's back. He let out a quiet groan, but otherwise lay still. One handed, she locked the first cuff over the man's right wrist.

"Bring your left arm to the small of your back. Slowly." The ramifications of what would happen if he didn't obey weren't lost on the man. He complied and she finished cuffing him.

"Two to one, come in, over"

Static clipped back at her and she made out, "One here, over."

"J.D., meet me in the parking lot at the Nest. I've got a prisoner for you. Assault and attempted rape. And call Hobie and tell him I'll be bringing the victim by in a few. Over and out."

Replacing the radio and retrieving her keys, she backed to the trunk and opened it. She got out a blanket, her medical kit and a large cable tie and returned to kneel at the suspect's feet.

She crossed his legs at the ankles and attached the plastic leg restraint. Then she turned him over on his back.

She pointed the gun right between his eyes as she told him he was under arrest and read him his rights. When she asked if he understood them, he nodded. Very fast. Fast enough that she could see the sweat fly from his forehead.

"Now, I'm going over there to see what damage you did to the lady. And, you're going to just lay here. Do we understand each other?"

He nodded again just as vigorously and she rolled him over on to his stomach again.

She gentled the hammer back on the big gun and slipped it into to the back of her waistband. Picking up the blanket and medical kit, she made her way to the blonde on the ground.

She made certain to make plenty of noise as she approached her and kneeled slowly near her head. Reaching out, she put a hand slowly to her shoulder as she called her name.

"Ms. Cutter? It's all right now. He won't hurt you anymore. I've taken care of it." Getting no response, she started to gently rub the young woman's shoulder with her thumb. "I'd like to take a look at your injuries if you'll let me." Still nothing. " If you could just rollover on your back for me?" She could see that her eyes were open and she seemed to be staring at the tire just inches from her face. The deputy saw the small amount of dried blood from her lip in the frail light the parking lamps afforded, and the pronounced swelling around her left eye. She really needed to reach her, somehow.

"Please Ms. Cutter. Let me help you. I promise, you're safe. I won't let him hurt you. I promise."

She was lying there and just concentrating so hard for so long, it took a while to hear the voice. She was simply counting her breaths, and concentrating on anything else but what she felt.
In and out. One, and she smelled the rubber in the tire and the dust in the parking lot. In and out. Two. She noticed the light shining from a bottle cap lying upside down near the other side of the truck. In and out. She heard bits and pieces of noise and words from the deputy while she was talking to him, but she kept trying to filter that out. If she tried hard enough she wouldn't think about it. Or feel the throbbing in her head and face. Or smell the urine on her pants. In and out.
"I promise you're safe. I won't let him hurt you. I promise."

And she knew when she heard it, that it was true. She blinked and came back to the here and now. As she rolled over slowly onto to her back, she kept her arms locked across her chest, left arm over right and tried to find the eyes that belonged to that voice. The one that made her believe she was safe again, but the eyes were lost in the dark shadow of the deputy's hat and the feeble light of the parking lamps couldn't penetrate it.

Soft fingers gently lifted her chin and moved her face from side to side. She knew the officer was saying something to her; she just couldn't make sense of it. That's when she started to shake.

The face under her fingers was swollen and bruised and Harley could see that the dried blood had come from not only the split lip, but the inside of the mouth as well. Probably a cut on the inside of her cheek from the fat bastards fist. The thought made her mad and for just a moment she wasn't focusing on the victim then she felt the shaking begin and looked into those eyes beneath her. Huge, green eyes, filling with tears as they lost their focus and started to see things that were only in her head. She'd seen that look before.
Without even thinking about it, she slipped her arms under the blonde's shoulder and lifted her up to her chest. Holding her and rocking gently, she began to pet her hair like a child, and almost against her will she murmured over and over, "Shh. You're safe. You're safe. I've got you."

A little voice in the back of her mind kept shouting that this was not the way a professional behaves and that she's a total stranger and what-do-you-think-you're-doing. A voice in the front of her mind just kept saying adamantly, She needs this, and that's all that's important.

The arms around her were strong but held her gently and she felt so, so very safe. It was a warm safe place, a good place. The tears started to slow and her breathing started to even out and finally, she knew she'd be okay.
She took in a deep breath and smelled the faintest trace of perfume and rubbed her non injured cheek on the soft cotton of the deputy's shirt before she pulled back.

"Thanks. I feel better." She started to bring her arms down from her chest and gasped. "Ahhh."

"Uh oh. I don't like the sound of that. Where does it hurt?"

Biting her lip to stop the moan she knew was aching to get out, Shasta just held her injured wrist in the other hand and brought it up to the deputy's eyes.

"Well, that's gonna take more to fix than I have in my kit. Let me help you up and we'll go see the Doc. Okay?" She pulled the blanket out, wrapped it around the blonde's shoulders, and then lifted them both to their feet. Putting her arm on the young woman's waist, she started walking them to the car.
Just as they reached it, the Sheriff's car reached them, and a tall dark haired man got out and quickly walked over.

"J.D., this is Ms. Cutter. I think she has a broken wrist among the other injuries that ... perpetrator" the sarcasm and disgust dripping from the voice in that word made both the victim and the Sheriff know that it was not her first choice of nouns, "inflicted on her. I'm taking her to Hobie. I'll call you from there."

"How do you do Ms. Cutter?" He inclined his head slightly and gave a small smile. "I'm so sorry you were hurt. This is not a usual thing to happen here and I'm real sorry it happened to you. Just stick with Harley and she'll take care of you."

"Thanks, Sheriff." She would have liked to say more, but she was beginning to really feel her wrist aching, and she was already being led to the passenger side of the deputy's car and gently lowered to the seat.

The Deputy ran quickly around the hood and got in. She started the powerful engine and made sure to buckle up her guest as well as herself. "Now you just keep a good hold on that arm and I'll get you to the Doc's in no time." She gave what she hoped was a reassuring smile to the woman and was reassured herself when she got a small one in return.

Great gods. Even bloody, swollen, and bruised, that is one very pretty woman. Harley thought, and then concentrated on the three minute drive to the doctor's office.
She had no idea she was grinning.


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