Authors: Drew Sinclair
He was up to eighty-seven.
Three other men stood around watching him.
Katy looked at Angel but for the first time he seemed uncertain as to how to behave. He had already holstered his weapon.
"This is her." He finally said.
"Shut up." One of the men reprimanded him in a heavy Slavic accent.
The old man doing push-ups continued his slow count. As he approached one hundred his count became excruciatingly slow, but nobody said a word.
Finally he reached his goal.
"One fucking hundred." He said as he collapsed to the floor and then reached for a towel to mop his brow.
"Not bad for old man, eh Nadia?"
Katy would have liked to say something but her fear was visceral. She had always been intimidated by Mikhail Boyevik, but in the old days she had thought it was just because he was her boss. When she realized how evil he really was and how violent his past had been, she had been terrified that she had spent so much time together with him, sharing her ideas with him, unknowingly betraying her own country.
He jumped up from the floor with the energy and agility of a man a third of his age and began toweling off his naked, glistening torso. He was in good shape for someone over sixty but still his body was that of an old man's.
He put his hand out and took a hold of Katy's chin, then held it firmly as she tried to turn her head away from him.
"Still as pretty as ever. Brains and beauty." He paused. "And of course treachery. Aren't you pleased to see your old mentor again Nadia?"
She was trembling too hard to give a reply.
"There will be no attempts to follow her Mr. Boyevik." Angel said, breaking the tension. Mikhail didn’t acknowledge the remark. Instead he took a shirt handed to him by one of his men and began to get dressed.
"I said there would be no attempts--"
"Get rid of this guy." The old man muttered in Russian.
"They're going to kill you Angel." Katy said softly. She had learned some Russian from her mother and then more from working with Boyevik. It wasn't perfect but enough for basic comprehension.
Four sets of hands went to shoulder holsters.
"Don’t listen to this little traitor Angel." Mikhail said calmly. "If you do, you are dead man. I guarantee. If on other hand you leave with Piotr and Stefan then you will have your money and you can go home to your boss, pretend like nothing ever happen here."
A gun went slowly to the back of Katy's head.
"Of course, this girl will also die, so there is nothing for you to worry about." He added.
Angel's hand slid back down by his side.
"The deal was she would go to work for you."
"She will. But only if you follow my instructions and leave now."
"They're going to kill me and they are going to kill you too." Katy said, her voice rattling with fear.
Mikhail smiled at her.
"Nadia never knows when to keep mouth shut." He said with a smile.
"You should have listened to me Angel. We should never have come here."
The smile left Mikhail's face as Angel stood, frozen with indecision.
"You are beginning to try my patience bodyguard." He said. "If you do not leave now then you are dead man."
Katy watched him, from being a scary figure he had suddenly become her last lifeline. Once he walked out that door she was on her own. He was going to have to fight for his life whether he stayed or went, but at least she had tried to warn him.
"Get me my money." Angel said. "Give it to me right here, right now and then I'll leave."
Katy looked around the room. It was almost bare, only a broken stool underneath the window and a pile of old newspapers in a corner. She needed a plan. It was coming down to the moment, once Angel had left or was lying dead on the floor it would be over for her too. If this wasn't the time to fight then there was no other.
She took a deep breath and prepared to launch herself at the old Mafioso. At least Angel would be fighting with her now. Maybe.
Her heart pounded as she readied herself to jump but just as she did there was a tap at a small and filthy window in the back. It was almost totally obscured with dirt. Everybody froze and then Mikhail began barking orders in Russian. Two of the men left the room, Angel drawn his weapon and so had Mikhail. The goon behind her put his hand to her head and shoved her to the ground.
Her eyes were at floor level and right next to her, close in to the skirting was a piece of rotting wood with a bent nail protruding from the end.
She might be able to reach it, but maybe not.
"Don’t be stupid Angel." Mikhail was saying. Angel was tough but this kind of situation was new to him. He was panicking, pointing his gun back and forth from Boyevik to the goon immobilizing Katy. She tried to catch his attention but he was too freaked out to notice her and then the most bizarre thing happened; all the mobile phones in the room began to ring at once.
All four men darted their eyes to their phones and Katy snatched the piece of wood into her hand. In one swooping arc she brought it around to impale the powerful Mafioso's ankle. He crumpled to the floor with a scream.
Mikhail began firing but not at her or Angel - one of his men had come crashing in through the window and his boss was firing through shards of falling glass at whatever was out there.
The stunned and bleeding man's phone was ringing as well.
Angel took his chance to duck out the front door leaving Katy by herself.
"Bastard." She hissed and began scrambling to her feet.
She was nearly at the door when a hand clamped around her ankle. It was the goon whose ankle she had skewered and he was pointing his gun at her.
She froze, but her mind was working a mile a minute. If they wanted to kill her wouldn't she be dead already?
The phones in the room were all still ringing. Could it be? She knew it was possible… someone with the technical know-how would find it ridiculously easy to activate the ringers on a set of geographically proximal cell phones.
She kicked the Mafioso in the face and scrambled out the door. She was barely to her knees when a powerful set of hands swooped her up from the porch and a set of piercing eyes met hers from behind a thin layer of sleek glass.
"I've got you." Clayton said. She had no time to speak as he dragged her running into the thick woods next the house.
A shot rang out in the woods and Clayton pulled them down into the brush for cover.
He put his fingers to his lips and she watched him in awe.
He pulled her close and pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was different to any she had ever known, the passion of the moment, the extreme circumstances, the last minute rescue; it would be seared into her memory forever. He released her and put his finger to his lips, silencing her in order to listen for activity in the woods.
The sound of feet trampling was terrifying but at last began to die away. They stayed silent and tight next to each other for an hour before Clayton would permit them to move. As scared as Katy was, the prolonged closeness to another human being was something she had longed for, without even knowing, without admitting it to herself, since forever.
She didn't want it to end.
But it couldn't last.
"Come on." He whispered. "Let's get out of here."
"Wait. Clayton. How did you find me?"
"I'll tell you later. We have to get to the chopper while the coast is clear."
They started off through the trees, Clayton seemingly knowing his way. It took a seemingly endless time, walking through unidentifiable woodland until at last they came to a clearing and he slowed the pace down. Katy peered through the remaining trees and saw, quite incredibly, a helicopter landed in the middle of an open pasture.
"How the hell did you find me all the way out here?" She whispered.
"Something's not right." He said. "They must have found it by now so why is it still there? Why didn't they take it or damage it?"
"How would they even know if it belonged to you or not? They may have searched it and then moved on."
Clayton took out his phone and began swiping the screen.
"It was you who made the their phones ring simultaneously, wasn't it?"
"The same technology that made me realize you weren't kosher. It can pick up any signal within two hundred yards, figure out the call number and then activate up to ten cell phones simultaneously."
"Why would anyone ever want to do that?"
"No one would. Except me. This is the kind of stuff you figure out if you're a hardware geek, right?"
She smiled and nodded. They really were more alike than she had given credit for.
"You don’t look like any hardware geek I've ever met."
"Neither do you."
He pulled her in close and held her gaze. It was as thrilling a moment as she had ever had with him, or with anyone and this was the theme of their time together so far; one bizarre, thrilling, unparalleled moment after another. Now they were on the run together, pursued by people wanting to kidnap or kill them, but still the way he looked at her made it all just seem like a crazy game they were playing for kicks.
He put his lips to hers again and she molded herself to him. After hours spent in the trunk of a car, the fear of her brief encounter with Mikhail Boyevik and her hour spent motionless in the underbrush, his warm, strong body and absolute confidence felt like heaven.
Their lips parted and he whispered in her ear.
"We're going to get out of this Katy."
"You better believe it." She whispered back into his.
The sound of cell phones ringing simultaneously reached them through the forest.
"Damn it." He hissed.
"You said the range was two hundred yards." She whispered.
"That's right. Maybe we can make a run for it."
"No way. It's too dangerous. They may not hurt me but they won’t think twice about putting a bullet in you."
"I thought it was the other way around."
"That was Boyevik back there. Those are his men. I think he wants me for something more than just revenge. I think he wants to start manufacturing again. Otherwise I'd already be dead."
"You really are some hot property Katy."
"Too hot to handle. If you had any sense you would have walked away from me in the Cool Bean café when you had a chance."
He shook his head slowly.
"Not a chance in hell. I've never met anyone like you before and you're not getting away from me now." Katy watched as his attention was drawn over her shoulder and he gave a smile of recognition.
"Thank God." He said. "Angel, what the hell is going on here?"
Katy didn't turn her head but her look said it all. Clayton caught her eyes and was momentarily confused.
"That's right Clay. Now just put your damn hands up." He pointed his weapon at them.
"What is this Angel? What went wrong? I told you to take her wherever she wanted to go, not to hand her over to the Russian mob."
"Shut up Clay, I'll explain later. Step over here Katy, don’t make me hurt you."
"He's in on it Clay." Katy said. "He's the one who contacted them and arranged the whole thing."
"Not possible Katy, this is a mistake, right Angel?" Clayton said.
"I told you to shut up and listen to me for once Clay, don’t make me tell you again. I'm going to get us out of this mess and this girl is out ticket out of here alive. She arranged the whole thing. They were gonna kidnap me and extort money out of Hargrave Robotics. Don’t believe this lying bitch you met ten seconds ago. We've known each other fifteen years Clay, now trust me, I can get us out of here but you have to follow my lead."
Katy looked at Clayton, her eyes pleading with him but he had retreated into his unreadable, dark self, coldly evaluating the situation.
"I've been looking after you since college Clay - never let you down once. Now be smart and give me that phone of yours."
Clayton didn't move.
"Angel, I don’t know what you're doing, but this game is already over and you should know that by now. I'm not giving you anything and there is no way in hell I am handing Katy over to you for any reason. Now stand down and put your gun away."
"He's desperate Clayton," Katy said, "be careful. He tried to sell me to them but they we're going to kill him. I tried to tell him but he was too stupid to listen to me."
The gun was trembling in Angel's hand.
"She's a fuckin' liar Clay, now hand me your God damn phone so we can get out of here."
"Put the gun away Angel and we can forget all about this. You disobey me and it's over. You know I'm in control of this situation, just like I always am, so don't be a fool."
"God damn it, you fuckin' smug prick this one is out of your control, now give me that fuckin' phone before I put a cap in your rich ass."