Abduction (A Psychic Romance Novella Series) (4 page)

Gabrielle fought down the urge to scream as she heard the pounding on the patio door. Three sharp thuds and the door had broken inward, sending glass and decorative wood paneling onto the floor.
Dustin was standing so calmly, watching as the five men began to push through the broken gap where the door used to be. It was as if he didn’t even care, Gabrielle thought. He had insisted that he was supposed to protect her—why wasn’t he doing something? She brought the stun gun up, half-convinced that Dustin was in cahoots with the attackers. She’d hit him first, and whatever juice was left over after that, she would get another one of her would-be assailants, and then she would fight the rest of them as best as she could.

She heard the shocked thoughts of the five men as they came into her apartment, spotting
Dustin and herself standing there.

“Well, gentlemen, it seems you’ve lost the element of surprise,”
Dustin said, sounding almost bored. “Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way, shall we?”

Gabrielle caught a quick passing thought from one of the men; he was rubbing his hands together, surprised but moving onto a new tactic.

Just need to get close
, he thought, and Gabrielle saw a mental image—he wasn’t just a regular person, an overgrown muscle-bound thug. He had an ability as well; not telepathy, like Gabrielle or telekinesis, like Dustin. The man had some sort of capability to make himself into a human stun gun. She wondered how she could circumvent that ability, how to let Dustin know—and whether she should.

Before she could react, the two men who were closest were pushed backwards by an invisible force—
Dustin’s telekinesis—into two of the other men. The one who could manipulate electricity with his hands leapt forward, aiming himself at Dustin.

, no, you don’t,” she said, knowing he intended to immobilize her would-be protector first before going after her, giving his fellows a chance to regroup. Their operation depended upon speed; they knew as well as Dustin did that too much commotion would attract the police, and they wanted to get in, collect her and Dustin, and get out.

Gabrielle saw the trajectory that the assailant was hoping for and lunged around
Dustin, getting between him and the assailant. Dustin was busy pushing the others through the door with his ability. Gabrielle decided against using the actual stun capabilities of the weapon in her hands; likely, the man would just reroute the electricity, or not even be harmed by it. Instead, she moved quickly, getting behind him, and brought the butt of the gun down on the exposed back of his neck. It wasn’t quite enough to knock him out, but he fell, rebounding and tumbling over until he came around to face her.

“You little bitch,” he growled, standing and extending his hands towards her.

She could hear the crackle of electricity, see a flash of something like lightning, and barely dodged his attack in time. He fell to the floor again heavily, overbalancing as he came past her with his hands outstretched, and Gabrielle looked around quickly, trying to think of something she could use. She saw a porcelain vase on the coffee table and picked it up, bringing it down on the man’s head as hard as she could. It shattered, cutting her hands, but it had been heavy enough to render him unconscious. Gabrielle could barely feel the pain, and reeled around, looking to see what was happening with the rest of her assailants.

Two of the men had disappeared somehow
. Gabrielle didn’t know and couldn’t care less where they were in the moment—they didn’t present an immediate threat. The other two were on the floor, and Gabrielle saw that Dustin was standing over them, holding them down with his ability.

“Gabby, dear,” he said, not taking his attention off of the two men
. He was determined to hold them in place, she reasoned. “Do me a favor and get something to tie these idiots up with.”

Gabrielle fought down her sense of irritation at having been called “Gabby,” a nickname that she had hated from childhood—and realized that it was the second time he had called her that.

“Let me see what I have,” she replied, turning and moving towards the kitchen. She didn’t have any rope, but with any luck she would have some zip-ties still, and they would work just as well, if not better. Gabrielle opened her junk drawer and shifted things around, dripping blood from the cuts on her hands until she realized that it would be counterproductive to just let the blood flow everywhere, even if time was of the essence. She didn’t think that time would become less of an issue once they’d immobilized the remaining attackers; in fact, Dustin would probably want to make tracks away from her apartment even faster, before someone else came looking. She grabbed a handful of paper towel and held it against her cuts as she sifted through the detritus in the drawer, seeking the storage bag full of zip-ties that she thought she still had.

“Could you hurry it up?”
Dustin called from the living room, and Gabrielle gritted her teeth, the pain from her injuries making itself apparent as the adrenaline in her system began to wane. She finally found the bag at the bottom of the drawer and pulled it out; there were four zip-ties left—just enough to take care of the two men that Dustin was holding down. She clenched her injured hand into a fist, carrying the ties into the living room.

“Excuse me; I thought that perhaps bleeding all over everything would hold us up.” She knelt down on the floor next to the immobilized men, who were oddly quiet
. Gabrielle realized that not only was Dustin holding their bodies down with his telekinetic ability—he was also holding their mouths shut. Begrudgingly, she boosted her opinion of him in her own mind, though she would never admit it to him.

She managed to get one of the zip ties out of the bag and considered her options. “Can you bring them closer together? We still have bachelor number three to take care of, and I’ve only got four zip ties.”

The men grunted. Gabrielle shifted backwards and scooted back, watching as Dustin lifted them into the air and then settled them back-to-back, on their sides, with their hands and feet pressed together.

There was just enough room for Gabrielle to work. She bound the two men’s ankles together with the longest of the zip-ties, tightening it over their dark jeans and giving it a tug to make sure that it wouldn’t give way. Then
, she zip-tied first one assailant’s wrists, and then the other, as quickly as she could. Her cut-up hand was stinging, throbbing with pain, but Gabrielle pushed the pain aside as unimportant. These men had wanted to abduct her—possibly take her to her own death. She had to make sure they took a good, long time reporting back to their boss that she’d gotten away. Gabrielle wondered again what had happened to the other two assailants.

She looked up and saw
Dustin relax. The third man was still unconscious, and Gabrielle stood up, taking the moment to look down at her hand. Blood had soaked through the paper towels, and she clenched her teeth as she pulled the paper away, exposing the cuts to the air and her own gaze. They weren’t too deep, but they were bad enough—and long enough—to cause her plenty of pain.

She wadded up the paper towel, trying to get some of the clean areas against her cuts as they oozed more blood, and took the last of the zip-ties out of the bag, settling on the floor behind the man she had knocked out with the vase.

“I can do that,” Dustin said, brushing past her. He took the zip-tie from her and turned her assailant over onto his stomach, shifting his head around. “Don’t want him to suffocate,” he muttered.

Gabrielle watched
Dustin deftly bind the man’s wrists together, moving him away from the other two men, who were now squirming. Gabrielle could read them enough to know that they realized that screaming or shouting was no good—it would attract more attention. They’d botched the plan somehow, and now the only thing they could think to do was try and get free.

“We should get his feet bound together
, too,” Gabrielle suggested, pointing at the unconscious man. “Oh, he also has an ‘ability.’ He can control electricity somehow.”

Dustin looked up at her and raised an eyebrow, only slightly surprised. Gabrielle wondered what all he knew that he hadn’t told her—that he wouldn’t tell her.

“Go take care of those cuts. I’ll finish seeing to him.”

Gabrielle shrugged, deciding that there was nothing more productive she could do, anyway. Her hand was so painful that she could feel her eyes stinging with tears. She went into her bedroom, stepping into the bathroom and opening up the medicine cabinet while trying not to think about her circumstances too heavily. Dustin had merit in wanting to get her out of her apartment—if she could trust that he did, in fact, have her interests at heart. He had so far defended her against two separate groups of thugs, so she supposed that it was at least worth giving him the benefit of the doubt. But who was he working for? And to what aim?

Gabrielle hissed as she rinsed her cuts out with saline, gritting her teeth. She slathered antibacterial ointment on them and found a spool of gauze. She awkwardly wrapped the gauze around her hand, covering the worst of the cuts across her palm, and tied it tightly. She found a Band-Aid and wrapped it around her thumb, covering up the smaller cut there.

When she stepped out of her bedroom, Dustin was watching the three men. The one she had taken out was tied at the ankles with a ripped-up hand towel from the kitchen, still unconscious and on his stomach. “We’re not going to get anything out of them,” Dustin told her, making a disgusted face. “But we need to get out of here as quickly as possible. I took their phones, so even if they can get free, they won’t be able to make any calls.”

“What about the other two?”
Gabrielle nodded, feeling very tired all of a sudden. The morning wasn’t even over and she already felt as if she’d worked a full day. She shook her head at the men on her living room floor.

“We won’t have to worry about them for a while. I checked on them just a
minute ago. They’re out cold. I locked them in the trunk of one of the cars they drove up in. Hurry up and put your clothes in a bag. We have to get out of here.” Dustin smiled slowly, a twinge of devious satisfaction in his bright eyes.

Chapter Five

Gabrielle rested her head against the window of the car, staring out at the woods rushing past. Dustin was going over the speed limit, but he was keeping an eye out for police—as well as keeping his radar detector up and running. They’d been driving for hours already, and Gabrielle had stopped asking just where he intended to take her.
I almost might as well have been taken by the thugs
, she thought irritably, shifting in the passenger seat.

Her legs were numb from sitting for so long. They had stopped for gas, grabbing
fast food at truck stops and eating in the car. Dustin was gulping coffee like a true fiend, and Gabrielle wondered at the fact that he hadn’t needed a restroom break yet. At least, she thought, his taste in music was decent. He had plugged in his phone as soon as they got into the car and began playing The Pretenders, before cycling through a few of her favorite bands.

The trucker food was sitting heavily in her stomach, a big ball of grease and dubious protein wrapped up in substandard bread. She had managed to snatch up some fairly healthy food as snacks, but she hadn’t been hungry enough for it yet.

Dustin was skittish, Gabrielle knew. She still couldn’t read him, but his vigilance was plain in his body language. In a way, she thought, it was almost nice to be forced to rely on visual cues—to really pay attention, instead of divining what he wanted and thought directly from his mind. On the other hand, Gabrielle knew that she couldn’t really trust the man who had possibly saved her. She couldn’t figure out what greater purpose he had, and he wasn’t forthcoming about it.

“You’ve go
tten quiet,” he said suddenly, taking his gaze off of the road in front of them for an instant to glance at her. Gabrielle shrugged.

“Considering that
, for all I know of my near future, the only difference between you and the thugs that came for me is that you didn’t beat me up first, I thought a little reflection was in order.”

chuckled, taking another swig of his coffee.

Gabrielle had to admit that the car he drove was nice—it was nondescript, but clearly had had several aftermarket tweaks to up its performance. She could easily understand why they
hadn’t taken her car, but wondered why they were bothering with his. After all, the group of abductors who had come to her house had been aware of him.

“A key difference, Gabby: where I’m taking you, you’re not going to be beaten or brainwashed. You’ll lie low for a little while, and then you’ll meet some people
, maybe. And then, you’ll be free to go as you please.”

“Stop calling me Gabby. I hate that. And I have no idea if what you’re saying is the truth or not—I just have your word for it
. And frankly, you haven’t given me a whole lot of reasons to trust you.” Gabrielle rolled her eyes.

made a face, though he didn’t take his eyes off of the road.

“I saved you from two groups of thugs
. Isn’t that enough?” Dustin made a face, though he didn’t take his eyes off of the road.

Gabrielle crossed her arms over her chest and stared out through the window for a long moment.

“I met you yesterday, and I didn’t even know your name until today. I wouldn’t even go out of town with a guy I’d been dating for a week, much less one I’ve only known for twenty-four hours.”

“This is not exactly a date. Unless you frequently have groups of men attempting to kidnap you. That could make for an interesting love life.”
Dustin chuckled again.

Gabrielle reached down into the floor board in front of her and brought up a bottle of soda. She opened it and took a long sip, fighting down the blush that started to rush into her face.

“Speaking of—why wasn’t there a boyfriend that you needed to get in touch with?” Dustin said, glancing at her.

“I am rather picky about my boyfriends. Not that it’s any of your business.”
Gabrielle gritted her teeth, taking a deep breath as she took another pull on the bottle of soda and closed the cap on the bottle.

She caught
Dustin grinning in the corner of her vision and felt her face burning with an intense flush of embarrassment.

“So, you’re high maintenance, eh?”
he asked, his voice full of teasing.

Gabrielle growled lowly in her throat, tightening her arms across her chest and shifting down in the seat. Her back ached, her legs were faintly numb from sitting for so long, her routine was disrupted, and she had no idea when—if—her life would ever go back to normal.

“I am not high maintenance. I am just not interested in guys who have nothing better on their mind than porn and sports, or who spend all their time with me looking at other women thinking that I don’t know exactly what they’re doing. I am also not fond of high-handed assholes who think that they know better than I do on every conceivable subject, who think they can just make all my choices for me and make me go along with it.” She cast a scowl in his direction, gritting her teeth. She was tired, her hand was still throbbing from the cuts, and the farther they got from her comfortable apartment and her contented life, the more anxious she felt.

Clearly, something more threatening than some disappointed drug lord was after her, but Gabrielle couldn’t stand not knowing—and the way that
Dustin had threatened her, the way he had held her glued to a spot with his telekinetic ability, still rankled. Almost as much as her continued inability to read him, and the fact that she found him physically attractive in spite of her distrust and anger.

glanced at her for a moment, and Gabrielle could feel his gaze, even though she didn’t look in his direction. “I was trying to make a joke,” he said slowly. “Clearly it was a stupid one. I’m sorry.”

Gabrielle didn’t respond for a long moment
. The apology surprised her, but her pride made it difficult to accept. She needed to get out of the car—needed to know where they were going, what was in her future.

“Apology accepted,” she said finally, still not meeting his gaze. The silence between them stretched out for several long moments. Gabrielle took another sip of her soda, in spite of the fact that she wasn’t truly thirsty
. There was something in the air between them—some charge, some tension—that made Gabrielle uncomfortably aware of Dustin’s proximity.

“I hadn’t really thought about how difficult it must be to date when you’re a telepath,”
Dustin said softly. “I’ve met a few other telepaths before—some of them I work with—but it’s never really come up.”

Gabrielle tried to relax in the seat, but her body was cramping up all over. She needed to get out of the car. It seemed like they had been driving for days, not hours.

“It is. Difficult, I mean,” she said, glancing over at him. “Knowing what someone’s thinking kind of kills the mood when you realize that they’re pining over their ex the entire time they’re supposedly trying to seduce you.”

smiled slightly at the wry tone of her voice, and Gabrielle felt herself smiling back. “Although it’s not difficult to pick someone up in a club.” Dustin chuckled. “You know, I don’t know anything at all about you, obviously; how much do you know about me?”

glanced at her for a moment, seeming to consider the question. He took a deep breath and drained the last of the coffee from the big cup he was swigging from, putting it down in the cup holder on the center console.

“A lot and not very much at the same time,” he admitted. “I know you’re a very strong
telepath and that you work with a bunch of government agencies. I obviously knew your address, and I knew your route from yesterday. I’ve been trailing you for a couple of days, since the assignment came down.”

He paused again, and Gabrielle wondered whether there was something he was holding back, or if he was contemplating what he knew.

“I had a picture of you, of course… but I have to admit, it didn’t live up to the reality.” Dustin licked his lips unconsciously, and Gabrielle felt a flare of heat in her chest.

She looked away. “What
say we take a bathroom break?”

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