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When I Needed You

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Part 1



I’m tied up to a chair. As usual, most of my missions end up with me being tied up. At least this time I have a plan. I usually end up getting lucky and escaping with some minor injury. But this time, I have a plan.

I’m wearing a pair of badly cut up jean shorts; a pair of slightly—more like about to fall apart—used Timberland boots, and a black sports bra. My black hair is in a ponytail that swings as I wriggle in the chair and ropes.

“Serene,” Jared says, “I’d like you to meet your executioner. Liam, this is Serene.” Jared steps to the side, revealing a tall, lean, and muscular man.

Liam is the sexiest man I’ve ever seen. He’s got these beautiful green eyes that his long, sleek brown hair falls over just the right way. He’s wearing a gray flannel t-shirt. I see his biceps bulge under the short sleeves, and he notices me checking him out. He returns the favor, biting his lip. He’s got his big hands in the pockets of his cargo pants. I see something sticking out, but I can’t tell what it is.

“Well, hey,” Liam says. “Jared, why do you always bring in the hot girls for me to kill?” He looks at Jared jokingly.

“Oh sure, you’re about to kill me, but your priority is to flirt? Wow, Jared. You’ve really lowered your standards,” I say mockingly.

“Oh, Serene, you are quite the charmer,” Jared says sarcastically.

“Besides, I can’t kill you yet,” Liam agrees, laughing.

“Oh? And why is that?” I ask, raising a thin eyebrow.

Jared holds up a bottle of a weird, yellow-green, deadly looking liquid, and a clear, pristine glass.

“And that is?” I press.

“Torture Acid. Got it from Jack. You remember Jack, yes?” Jared says, smiling devilishly.

“How? He’s in jail,” I ask. My bangs fall over my face, and I shake them away.



“I got this before you jailed him. That’s why I’m using it now. It’s his revenge,” Jared laughs.



“Of course,” I sigh.



Jared laughs, looks at Liam, and nods in my direction. Liam smiles as Jared gives him the bottle and glass and leaves the room. Then Liam looks at me, smiling.



“This is gonna be fun,” he says, and almost runs to stand in front of me.



I want to kick him as he leans over to get eye-level with me. But I don’t.



He holds up the bottle and glass and says, “Get ready for some ridiculous pain.”



He pops open the bottle, and pours about an inch of the acid into the glass. He holds it in front of my face.


So far, everything’s going according to plan. Sort of.


“Where is Jonathan?” he asks. Jonathan is my boss, the head of my branch of the C.I.A.


“Like I’m really going to tell you that?” I say.


Liam slaps me hard, and forces my mouth open. He pours the acid into my mouth, and forces me to swallow it. It’s bitter, sour, and literally burning my throat. I can feel bubbles of acid left over burning the inside of my throat, searing the tissue and muscle.


I start to cough, hoping to get it out. But it doesn’t work. It was a futile attempt. Futile, and so not worth it.


“Where is Jonathan?” Liam asks again.


“Like I said, why would I tell you?” I repeat.


He forces more of the acid down my throat. I’m coughing and sputtering, and about to cry, but I won’t. I won’t give him the satisfaction.


“You won’t break me.” I spit in his face.


Angrily, he grabs my chin, which squishes my cheeks like I have a fish face, and shouts back, “You will tell me what I want to know, or all of this acid will go down your throat and kill you!”


His breath smells like beer. He must’ve been drinking. Ew.


I shake my face out of his large hand.


“You want a bet?” I say menacingly. I’m looking directly into his eyes. I’m trying to keep up a challenging look, but it’s so hard with his gorgeous eyes. I break my concentration and look away. I hear him sigh, and put down the bottle and glass.


We sit in silence for a few minutes, before he grabs my face, turns it to face his, and kisses me. I break away, confused and surprised. Not part of the plan….


“What was that?” I say.


“An attempt at kissing a pretty girl,” Liam jokes.


“A failed attempt,” I laugh.


“Come on, Serene. Let me try again?” he pleads. He squats in front of me, his hands on my thighs.


“Um, Liam? You’re supposed to torture information out of me and then kill me. Not kiss me,” I remind him.


“I don’t meet many people like you. You’re beautiful, smart, and it’s sexy how you try to be threatening,” Liam says. His hands slide slowly and gently down to my knees, and he caresses them.


I’m really hoping he won’t stop. It feels so good. It’s been so long since any man has touched me like this.


“Liam,” I say, my voice shaky. I’m looking down at him. My eyes are saying what my lips can’t: “Please.”


He takes my face in his hands, leans in slowly, and kisses me. He feels so good as he kisses me. I almost feel bad that I’m tricking him. I almost wish I didn’t have to trick him to get away.


I’ve been sitting on a knife the whole time. They did a really bad job of checking for weapons. I silently pull it out from beneath me, and cut the ropes binding my hands and arms. He hears the ropes cut, feels them slide off my body. He stops kissing me, pulls away.


“I should’ve known. You wouldn’t kiss me if your life depended on it,” he says, backing away and stuffing his hands in his pockets.


“Oh, I would. Even if my life didn’t depend on it,” I say, standing up and pulling the remaining rope off me. Now back to the plan.


“You know you can’t leave without going through me first, right?” Liam says, pulling a machete out of his cargo pocket.


“What makes you think that will be hard?” I joke. I throw the knife, just as the door opens, and it hits Jared square in the throat.


“Jared!” Liam exclaims, running to Jared and kneeling beside him. All part of the plan. Jared is so predictable.

~°~


“If you’ll excuse me, I have some escaping to do,” I say, heading towards the door.


Liam stands and grabs my arm. His grip is too strong for me to break. I dig my nails into his wrist. Liam punches me, and it hurts. The pain blinds me for a moment, and as it does, Liam throws me to the ground. I roll and hit the wall. My head is spinning. I can faintly see Liam coming towards me.


“Liam,” I mumble, as he kicks me in the stomach. “Liam, please.” He kneels, and leans closer to hear me.


“What?” he says angrily.


“Please…don’t kill me,” I whisper. I reach for his hand, and hold onto it tightly. I hear him gasp, but he doesn’t let go.


I close my eyes, and feel darkness close in around me.

~°~


I wake up, hearing the sound of air whooshing around me. I hear voices, mostly familiar.


I catch snippets of what they’re saying.


“Yeah, she killed him,” and, “But she got hurt, too,” and even, “I thought she’d die. She’s really bad at her job.”


But the only voice that makes any sense and is extremely familiar, is Braydon’s.


“Serene, you’re gonna be okay,” he says, “You killed Jared. But the other guy got you real bad. We’re taking you to the hospital.” I nod, and mumble something that neither of us understands.


To me, it sounds kind of like, “I want Liam,” but I’m the one who said it, and I don’t even know what I said. Braydon seems to have made out the same thing, and he’s not happy about it. And I know why.

~°~


Part 2



One more mission, I think, as I trudge through the blizzard. One more!

I’m walking in a blizzard. I’m freezing and hungry and tired. It’s the worst mission yet. Well, not as bad as when I met Liam. That was bad, because it was pretty much crush-at-first-sight, and I had to watch him get hurt.


“I am going on vacation and never coming back after this!” I grumble to myself. I can see a light behind me. I’m on a road, mostly ice and bits of snow, and I think it might be a semi-truck headed my way. I start to hope, which is bad for me.


“Hey!” I call out, “Hey! Over here! Help!”


I’m not supposed to be in a blizzard. My target was supposed to be in Germany, but my mission to find my target led me all the way up to Zhilinda, Russia.


The vehicle gets closer. It’s just a crappy blue truck, with barrels in the back of it.


The driver doesn’t seem to notice me waving and jumping, and he drives right by me. I sigh, and go after the truck.


It’s not going fast. The driver knows there’s ice all over road, and he probably doesn’t want to die.


I pull myself over the top of the bed with ease and hold on tight to the chains binding the barrels. I’m not sure what’s in them. But I hear something sloshing around inside, so I figure it’s a liquid.


He’s driving so fast, it blocks out the cold wind. I can hear his radio, but it’s just static.


I wait in the back for a while, until he finally stops. I panic and hide.


The driver gets out, failing to notice me in his rear-view mirror. He takes off one of the barrels, and takes it out of my view. I turn around, stand a little bit, and realize I’m at a two-story building. It’s not a house. It’s big, and concrete, and looks like you could land an airplane on the top of it.


I sneak out of the truck.


The driver is inside the building now, and as I look into the window, I see what’s inside the barrel: beer.


There’s a thick vine beside me, crawling up to the second story window. I start to climb it, and stop as my eyes reach level with the window and I see a man inside. And, oddly, a bed. Okay, maybe it is a house.


He’s tall, with long brown hair, and facing away from the window. He’s got one hand on his hip, as if thinking about something, and the other is holding something. As he starts to turn around, I realize it’s a keg of beer.


He doesn’t see me yet. But I’d recognize that face anywhere.
~°~


It’s Liam. He’s as gorgeous as ever, but he’s slimmed a bit, as if he’s been starving himself. He’s shirtless, and sexy, too, which is weird. I mean, if it’s freezing out here, shouldn’t it be freezing in there, too?


He keeps turning in circles and pacing. I wonder what he’s thinking about.


I’m almost all the way up on the windowsill now. I wonder how he hasn’t seen me yet. I’ve got half of my body up before he sees me.


And as he sees me, he smiles. He smiles like there’s nothing wrong that’s happened between us before. Like we didn’t meet the way we did. Like we’ve been dating forever. I almost wish we had been dating forever.


But Liam realizes it’s me, and frowns. He drops the keg of beer, and runs to the door. I know what he’s doing. I drop down from the sill, landing safely in the snow. I start to run.


It’s hard to run in snow, but I use the tracks from the truck and driver. I keep following the car tracks, when I hear multiple thuds behind me. I turn back to see Liam hot on my tail.


I put on a burst of speed, but Liam is faster. He’s wearing fewer clothes, whereas I’m wearing about five layers of clothes, to keep warm. Which, by the way, didn’t work.


I try to shed my long, fuzzy trench coat, but I start tripping on it. Liam grabs part of it, and pulls me down as he slips on ice.


I land on top of him, and don’t realize it. I start to laugh, and so does Liam. He’s got my arms now, and his face is right beside mine. There’s warmth radiating off his body, and I never want to leave that moment. But I realize what’s happening, and I try to get free. I can’t shake him, and he pushes me to stand.


Liam walks me back to the building like I’m going to jail, but I know I’m not.


As we enter, I feel the warmth of the heater. I lean back, forgetting Liam is there, and relax for a moment. He lets me lean my head against his bare chest, and kisses my forehead. I snap back to reality and realize where I am, and who I’m with.


“Liam—,” I start to say, but he stops me.


“Serene, just do as I say, and you might live to see another day,” he says.


I’m slightly confused, but shake it off.


He pushes me up the stairs, to the bedroom. I start to wonder what he’s going to do to me.


As I see lingerie sitting out on the bed, I suddenly realize what’s happening.

~°~


This mission was a scam. Jonathan lied. He was playing me.


For a moment, I’m mad that Jonathan would do this to me. But then, I’m happy because I’m with Liam.


And then I snap back to reality again, as Liam points a large pocket knife at me.

~°~


Part 3

My arms are tied above my head to a bedpost. That’s bad thing Number One. Bad thing Number Two is that I’m wearing an extremely tight corset-dress. And then there’s Number Three: there’s a man laying over me with a knife in his hand.

“You should enjoy this, Serene. It’s the last time you’ll ever get a man on you,” he says. His breath smells like beer. He’s been drinking. I watched him before he got me tied up.

His name is Liam. He’s sexy and brooding, but alas, not my ally. He’s got long, brown hair that flips over his long-lashed green eyes. He’s shirtless right now, which is a problem for me. He’s got the hardest set of abs I’ve ever seen and the freaking sexiest pecks and biceps. He’s tan and muscular everywhere and his hands are soft as he touches me and caresses my skin.

“Oh really, Liam? I’m sure you’ll keep me alive so you can enjoy this over, and over, and over,” I say, wriggling beneath him.

He holds the knife up to my throat and lets it flip open, which stops me. He caresses my neck with the tip, not even leaving a scratch. He drags it down to my chest, and stops at the top of the corset.

The corset is black and lacey, and so not my style. But he loves it. That’s all that matters to him.

I hear the fabric ripping, as he cuts it slowly with the knife. His other hand runs down my hips to my naked thighs.

Yeah, when I said corset-dress, I meant a short dress.


Liam pulls my leg up over his hip and smiles his drunken smile.


“Oh, Serene, you’ll never get anything better than this. I’m the only man who’ll ever want you,” he whispers in my ear. “But why do I have to kill you after?”



“Because I know things you don’t want getting out,” I say back, my lips so close to his ear, he smiles and kisses behind mine. I almost want to melt as he does.


“Oh, that’s right. You know my little secret. But the thing is, I know yours, and mine will die with you,” he says. He cuts the corset further. His other hand caresses my thigh softly, and I really want him to keep doing it.


“Oh, you like that?” he whispers again. He can feel my body opening up to him.


“Well, how ‘bout this?” he whispers, and traces his fingers up to the very top of my thigh. It tickles, but feels so good, all at once. My leg tightens around him. I hate that he still has his jeans on.



He massages the inside of my thigh, while cutting the corset more. My breath is shaky, and I’m trembling. God, I wish he’d stop, so I can kick his butt, but I really don’t want him to.


I feel a rush of cold air, as he cuts the last of the corset. He lets out a small laugh. And then he lets go of the knife, and runs his hand down my bare waist. I shiver like there’s a cold breeze, but it’s just the way he touches me.


“Oh, God,” I whisper, too low for him to hear. But he sees my lips moving, feels the air coming out. I go to kiss him, but stop halfway.


“Don’t stop,” Liam whispers, “Please.”


“Then don’t you stop,” I say, and kiss him. He’s surprised at first, but then I feel his arms wrap around me, lifting me closer. I almost feel bad that I’m tricking him. But hey, I can have fun, too, right?


He did a poor job of tying me. He doesn’t notice my arms moving as I free my wrists from the restraints.


Liam—not my ally, but I wish he was!—feels so good, and kisses so good.


He starts to pull away the dress, saying, “What a waste of a beautiful dress. Too bad you don’t need it.” It’s halfway off before he realizes I have the knife. I hold it up to his throat.


“I should have known better. You’d never willingly kiss me,” he says, disappointed. His eyes travel up from my half-bare chest, to my silvery-blue eyes.


“Oh, I would. But not like this,” I say back.


Both of his legs are on either side of me now, and he tightens them around my hips as I sit up. I gently, yet menacingly, push the knife into his collarbone. It doesn’t break skin. I’m not trying to hurt him. Just scare him. It doesn’t work.


“Oh, Serene, you don’t know what you do to me,” Liam says. His arms are still around me. He takes one arm off, and pulls the knife out of my hand with ease. I try to hold on to it, but he’s too strong.


“I think I do,” I say, pushing my thick chest against his. His eyes slip down for a moment, and I smile. “Yes, I know what I do to you. But you have no idea what you do to me.”


“Are you sure?” His hand presses against the small of my back, pulling me closer. “Serene, don’t you know you don’t have to die?”


“I know that. But if I die, I die. I won’t change my future. I’m not afraid to die, Liam. It’d only be an honor to die fighting.”


“I don’t want to have to kill you, Serene. Please don’t make me.”


“What are you asking?” I raise an eyebrow.


His hand caresses my cheek, and he pushes it through my hair and lets it sit there. His face is so close to mine, I don’t even smell the beer on his breath anymore.


“I’m asking you to—,” he begins, but doesn’t finish. Before he can, I hear a shot. His head falls back, and so does the rest of him. For me, it happens in slow motion. But I know it doesn’t. I know who shot him.


Blood pools around his head. I put my hands on his cheeks, and try to wake him.


“Liam! Liam, please! Please, don’t leave me! Liam!” I say. He’s still breathing.


“I’m trying…,” he murmurs.


“Hold on, Liam! Please, just hold on!” I’m starting to cry. He’s my enemy, but I don’t want him to die.


I love him.

~°~



“Serene, we have to go. Now,” Braydon says, pulling at me to go. I’m too strong for him. I’m holding on to Liam’s belt loops. He’s still breathing, and it’s my last hope.


“Liam? Liam stay with me,” I say. I shake off Braydon and put my hands on Liam’s cheeks again.


“Serene…,” he whispers.


I’m hoping too much. I’m hoping he’ll live.


But as I look at the burning barrel in his forehead, I lose hope.


I never hear his last, dying words. I’m crying too hard, and Braydon’s got me away from him now. Liam turns his head in my direction, just as I watch the light leave his eyes.


“Liam!” I scream, and break free of Braydon’s grip. I run to Liam, and kiss him. I’m on my knees, and I’m praying he’s alive, but I know he’s not.



“Serene, we have to go,” Braydon says. I can hear the anger and jealousy in his voice. I let him pull me away, and we go up to the roof. There’s a helicopter there, and it’s waiting for us. The wind it makes starts to blow the top of the dress I’m wearing down, and I’m struggling to keep it up.


Braydon helps me to the helicopter, because crying and walking to a helicopter is incredibly difficult. He buckles me in and sits across from me.

~°~


Flying back to headquarters, I look at Braydon, tears still in my eyes. He looks back at me, and I can practically hear him asking, “Is it true?” even though he’s not speaking. The look in my eyes says, “I’m sorry.” AKA, yes.


“Braydon, I—,” I start to say, but he stops me.


“No. Don’t. I don’t want to hear it,” he says, and looks away.


I start to cry again.


Because that’s my secret. And Liam’s will die with me. Just like he said.

~°~

Part 4



I’m so mad at Braydon, I almost want to kill him. Because he killed Liam. Liam, the man I met when Jared captured me, and who was supposed to kill me, but didn’t—and after escaping, couldn’t stop thinking about—the man that I fell in love with faster than the blink of an eye; the man I loved, and had to watch die right before my eyes. I will never forgive Braydon for what he did. Never.



I’m sitting in the waiting room. Jonathan wanted to see me, but he’s talking to someone else right now. I’m waiting, surprisingly patient.


All I want to do right now is curl up in a ball and cry for the rest of my life.


I’ve been pretty silent since I got back. Braydon has tried to talk to me every once in a while, but I just glare at him until he goes away. I’m never going to talk to him again.


I look up, as the door to Jonathan’s office opens. It’s Braydon. Jonathan must have been talking to him about what happened.


My eyes widen, and I swallow nervously. Braydon looks at me a little angrily, but walks away.


“Serene, you can come in now,” Jonathan calls.


I stand slowly and walk into his office.


“Close the door,” Jonathan says. As I do, I’m still looking at him, and he motions for me to sit in one of the two brown leather chairs in front of his desk. I sit gingerly in a chair and twist my fingers around each other.


“I want to talk about your last mission.” He folds his hands like a tent in front of him. He leans slightly causally on his arms.


I shrug, as if to say, “What about it?”


He notices I haven’t been myself lately. I usually come to work in a tight dress and heels, and looking like I’m about to walk the runway—with my hair curled, and make-up looking like it’s been professionally done, and like I just walked out of a Project Runway magazine. I’m usually bubbly and excited when I have a new mission, and then I start training for it.


But now, whenever he offers me a mission, I decline. I can’t do it.


I don’t dress the same. My hair looks like I just got out of bed, my clothes looked like I got them from a dumpster, and the circles under my eyes are so dark, I look like I got punched in both my eyes.


“Serene, you have to talk about it. Whatever happened back there, it’s eating you alive. You have to talk about it,” Jonathan says after a moment.


“All the talking I need to do happens when I sleep, Jonathan. I don’t need to talk about it. I’m fine, okay?” I reply. It’s a lie, and we both know it.


He bangs his fist on the desk and says, “Damn it, Serene! Either you tell me, or I’ll tell you what Braydon was doing on your mission, and that will make you talk.” He’s threatening me. Oh, how cute.


“I know what he told you. He told you some ridiculous story about me being trapped and about to die, and how he was being the brave hero and rescuing me. But that’s not the truth, and you know what? He can keep on telling that story, because I don’t care. I don’t want anyone to know the truth. Let everyone think I was weak and couldn’t do my job. I have no shame in that story. But in mine, I’m shameful till the end,” I say angrily. I stand, knocking the chair over.


“Serene! Serene, get back here!” Jonathan shouts, as I head towards the door. I stop, with my hand on the doorknob.


“What?” I say, barely above a whisper. I’m about to cry. I don’t want to, but I think I might.


“What really happened?” Jonathan says, calmer now.


I’m not calm. I’m shaking. I’m shaking, and I can’t stop.


Jonathan stands, puts his arms around my shoulders, and guides me to a chair gently.


“Serene,” he says softly, “What really happened?” He sits across from me at his desk.


“Remember when I killed Jared?” I say.


“Yes, why?” Jonathan answers.


“That’s how all this started.”

~°~


“See, when I found Jared, he saw me first. There were so many guards, and they patted me down for weapons and tied me to a chair. Jared kept pacing in front of me. Then he called someone in, and he said the new guy’s name was Liam, and he would be my executioner.


“Liam was so incredibly sexy, and the way he looked at me wasn’t like I was another victim. It was like he didn’t want to kill me. He and Jared started joking for a bit.


“Then Jared takes out this bottle of ‘torture acid’, and gives it to Liam. Liam gets all excited, and starts asking me questions. I didn’t answer, so he makes me drink it. And, man, was that stuff nasty! It burned the insides of my throat, which still hasn’t healed.


“After a while, though, he stopped. And he put down the bottle. And then he kissed me.”


I’m still shaking, only it’s worse. Even the chair I’m in is shaking.


“I push him away, and ask him what the hell he’s going. He starts joking, and begs me for another kiss. He puts his hands on my legs and just lets them sit there. And then he kisses me again. Because I say yes. But it was just a decoy. I’d been sitting on a knife the whole time.”


Before I can continue, Jonathan interrupts, “Serene, everyone knows this part already. No one really knows what happened after you killed Jared.”


“Well, after I killed Jared, I tried to escape. But Liam catches my arm, and I couldn’t get free. He punches me, which stuns me, and throws me down to the floor. I kept rolling, and hit the wall. I was in so much pain, and I knew Liam would kill me for killing Jared. But I didn’t want him to.


“As he came closer, I begged him to let me live. Well, more like mumbled it. He knelt beside me and I held his hand. That’s when everything went black.


“I woke, and found myself on the helicopter. After waking up again, I found I was in the hospital, and later learned that Liam had stabbed me in the stomach.


“Well, on my next mission I was not in Germany, but in Russia. And there, I found Liam again. At first, he didn’t see me. But when he did, he ran after me and he caught me. He took me inside, and…,” I trail off.


“And?” Jonathan persists.


“And he made me put on a corset-dress and tied me to his bed. He started cutting the dress, and toying with me. But I really wished he wouldn’t stop. He kept touching me, but it felt so good.


“Then he put down the knife and kissed me. That majorly distracted him, and I untied myself and grabbed the knife. I tried to use it against him, but he took it from me. He said he didn’t want to kill me. So I said, ‘What are you asking me?’ And he barely got a word out before Braydon shot him.


“I started freaking out, shouting at Liam to stay and not leave me. Braydon tried to pull me away, but I held on to Liam. He mumbled my name,” I say, and I’m crying. I wonder how he understands anything I’m saying. It all sounds like Yiddish to me.



“He spoke, I could see his lips moving, but I never heard anything. I was crying and screaming too loud, and Braydon had me away from him.


“Next thing I know, I’m on a helicopter, bawling my eyes out, and then I’m here. And Braydon’s telling lies. And I really want to kill Braydon,” I say after a moment. Jonathan waits patiently for me to say why.


“I want to kill Braydon because…he killed Liam…and I loved him.”


Jonathan leans back then, as if trying to mask his shock.


“You loved Liam?” he asks. I don’t need to answer—he already knows.


“And Braydon killed him?” Again, I don’t answer.


Tears are streaming down my face. My eyes are red and puffy, which probably makes them look worse.


“Serene, you realize Liam is dead? Not you?” Jonathan asks, after a moment of slightly awkward silence.


“Yes, I know that! Don’t you think I do? This is all because of that!” I exclaim. I’m angry and crying and really want to throw something. He can see it in my eyes.


“Why don’t you take a few weeks off, then, and come back when you’re ready?” Jonathan suggests.


“No. If I do that, I’ll get worse. I need something to stabilize me. Work stabilizes me,” I answer, a little more calmly.


“But you won’t accept any of the missions I give you,” he says.


“That’s not what I mean. I need paperwork,” I say.


“Serene, paperwork won’t help, either. The only paperwork I can give you would be to write a report on your last mission, and I won’t make you do that.”

~°~


I look up at him, surprised. I’ve stopped shaking. But a few tears are still going down my cheeks.


“Go home, Serene. Come back to work when you’re ready. I’ll check up on you every few days.”


“I—I can’t,” I say, stunned.


“Go home,” Jonathan persists, “And come back when you’re ready for on-the-site work.” He winks at me. That’s our way of saying “in the field”.


He helps me outside, and helps me into my car, and helps me start it. He hugs me before I go.


And as I drive away, I know he didn’t mean for tis to happen. I just want to know why he sent Braydon. But I can’t ask now. I need to get over this first.


But it’s so hard, and I’m only driving away.


And it appears that Liam isn’t the only one who will die.

~°~

Part 5


I’m driving down Fifth Avenue, when I hear it. Sirens. They’re loud and getting closer. I really wish I was the one they were going to, because that would mean I’m the one that’s dead. I move aside for them to pass, still thinking of how I would kill myself. I wasn’t going to live without Liam. It just wasn’t going to happen.



“You really shouldn’t do it, Serene,” a voice says. It sounds like Liam. I start to panic, then get excited. He’s alive!


“Liam?” I say excitedly, looking around for him. As I look for him, my hands turn the wheel in different directions. The car moves left, then right, then in circles as I try to put on the brakes.


“Serene!” the voice shouts. It’s like there’s someone literally inside me, and I feel like their hands are pounding against my head to get out. It’s just metal crunching in on itself.

~°~


My car flips onto its side, and then upside-down. I’m thrashing around, feeling glass break into my skin and blood trickle down my head. My head slams against the wheel, and my seatbelt snaps in half. I’m tumbling with the car, being crushed inside. I’m screaming and thrashing, and when the car finally stop, my head slams against the wheel again. But this time, I can’t find the strength to try and scream for help.


My head bobs a bit, before I feel numb. I sense the pain, but I don’t feel it.


“Help! Someone call 9-1-1!” someone screams.


“Serene, you have to get up. Don’t just sit there! Get up!” the voice screams at me, “Serene, get up! Get up!”


“I can’t,” I mumble.


“Serene! Serene, come back to me! Please!” The voice sounds so real, so much like Liam. I see him in front me. I reach out for him, but he fades away.


“Liam,” I whisper. I hear voices, shouting, screaming, and sirens coming closer. Darkness closes in around me, and I know there’s no escaping this time.

~°~


“Hurry! She’s losing blood fast!” someone exclaims.


I see a bright light through my eyelids. I open my eyes a slit, and see blurry faces in front of me.


There are so many voices, mostly unfamiliar. But there are two voices that are easily recognizable.


“She’ll be okay, right?” Braydon asks, concerned. I’m shocked that he’s here, and so concerned.


“Serene, if you can hear me, say something, anything. Move, twitch, something!” Jonathan exclaims. I want to move. My head lolls to one side, and he exhales in relief. Someone’s holding my hand. It doesn’t feel like Jonathan’s. It feels softer, bigger. I realize it’s Braydon’s. I try to move my hand, but he won’t let go. And then it’s suddenly gone.


“Sir, you can’t go in there. That’s the operating room. You can’t go in there,” someone says.


“No, I have to be there!” Braydon argues. I can hear him grunting, as if the other man is holding him back.


“Serene, I’m still here! I won’t leave you!” Braydon shouts at me.


“No,” I mumble, closing my eyes again.


Hello, Darkness, my old friend.

~°~

Part 6



“Serene, wake up,” Liam says, gently shaking me.



“I don’t want to,” I laugh, as he starts to tickle me.


“You have to, sweetheart. If you don’t, I’ll kill you.”


I look at him. He has a malicious smile on his face.


“What are you asking me?” I ask. I stand up, facing him. He pushes his hand through my hair, and lets it sit there.


“I’m asking you to—,” but he doesn’t finish. There’s a gunshot, and he suddenly falls to the ground. Blood pools around his head. I put my hands on his cheeks, and try to wake him.


“Liam! Liam, please! Please, don’t leave me! Liam!” I say. He’s still breathing.


“I’m trying…,” he murmurs.


“Hold on, Liam! Please, just hold on!” I’m starting to cry. He’s my enemy, but I don’t want him to die.


I love him.


“Serene, we have to go. Now,” Braydon says, pulling at me to go. I’m too strong for him. I’m holding on to Liam’s belt loops. He’s still breathing, and it’s my last hope.


“Liam? Liam stay with me,” I say. I shake off Braydon and put my hands on Liam’s cheeks again.


“Serene…,” he whispers.


I’m hoping too much. I’m hoping he’ll live.


But as I look at the burning barrel in his forehead, I lose hope.


I never hear his last, dying words. I’m crying too hard, and Braydon’s got me away from him now. Liam turns his head in my direction, just as I watch the light leave his eyes.


“Liam!” I scream, and break free of Braydon’s grip. I run to Liam, and kiss him. I’m on my knees, and I’m praying he’s alive, but I know he’s not.



I scream and sit bolt-upright in my bed. I’m shaking, and breathing hard and fast.



“It was just a dream,” I tell myself. But it wasn’t. It really happened. And I watched it all. I watched the man I love be killed by the man who loves me—Braydon.


“Serene!” Jonathan exclaims, as he bursts the door. “What happened?”


He’s been staying with me since I left the hospital a week ago.


“Nothing,” I tell him. What a lie. And he sees right through it.


“Serene,” he prompts, “What happened?”


“I dreamt of him again,” I answer, starting to cry.


“Oh, Serene, it was only a dream,” Jonathan says.


“No, Jonathan. It was real. It really happened,” I cry. This happened in the hospital, too. It appears to be normal for me now.


“Yes, it happened, Serene, but that was four months ago,” Jonathan reminds me.


“Say that all you want, but it’s like it was yesterday for me!” I huff angrily.


“Serene, it’s over! It’s the past for a reason!” Jonathan exclaims. We’ve had this argument every night so far. He leaves, and I lay in bed awhile.


After an hour or so, I get up and walk out onto the balcony of my apartment. It’s seven a.m. The sun is barely up, and it’s kind of cold. But I don’t mind. I’ve got my purple long-sleeve, knee-length, knit sweater on. I lean against the railing, watching the early risers get up and go to work.


Jonathan comes out, holding two mugs of coffee. This is normal so far, too. He hands me one and stands beside me.


“I’m sorry for what I said,” he says, looking down at his feet. It’s not often you get an apology out of him.


“It’s okay. We do this every morning,” I say back. I’m looking into my mug, watching the steam rise and sink in the cold air.


“No, I shouldn’t be saying it at all. You lost the person you loved the most, and I can’t expect you to be over in such a short time,” he points out.


“Short? Every day feels like a year to me. One second feels like a minute, a minute like an hour, an hour like a day, days like weeks, weeks like months, and months like years. Nothing is short anymore, Jonathan,” I reply.


“I’m leaving today. I have to go back to work. I’ll send an agent over, though. I don’t want you to get into any more trouble, Serene,” Jonathan says after a while.


“You’re leaving?” I say, shocked. I finally look at him.

~°~


I watch as Jonathan drives away in his black Cadillac. I’m standing on the stairs that go up to my apartment. I watch as he turns the corner and disappears from my view.

~°~


Part 7


Jonathan did send an agent over. Just when he turned the corner, I recognized a company car turn the opposite direction. I wasn’t sure who it was, but I knew it was an agent.



“Wonder who he sent,” I say to myself.



It scares me that I’m always talking to myself. Thinking is fine, because I can’t think something in someone else’s head. But the talking is freaking me out. It’s like I’m trying to talk to someone, but they aren’t there. And I don’t know who I’d be trying to talk to.


The car pulls up, coming to a halt in an empty, unused parking spot. He’s lucky there isn’t a meter, or he’d need enough quarters to last for three years.


The car shuts off, and I hear the engine whirr to a stop. The driver gets out.


I’m shocked and angry at who Jonathan sent. He should know better than to do this to me.

~°~


“Can I get you anything? More coffee? A blanket?” The voice belongs to Braydon.


“No.” My answers for him have so far been short and to the point.


I’m sitting on my scratchy, green couch, wrapped up in my sweater. I’ve finished my coffee. In fact, I shattered the mug. When Braydon got out of the car, I dropped it. He cleaned it up quickly, thinking glass had gotten into my skin, or that I would hurt myself on/with it.


“Come one, Serene. I said I was sorry,” Braydon sighs.


‘But that doesn’t bring him back, does it?” I snap. “Just because you say you’re sorry, doesn’t mean I’ll forgive you.”


“Can you at least try?”


I glare at him.


“No. I will never forgive you.”


“Way to sugar coat it,” Braydon says, mostly to himself.


I stand and angrily stomp over to him, saying, “Yes, and way to sugar coat killing the man I loved!”


He’s mad at me for saying that. I can see it in his eyes.


“He was going to kill you!”


“No he wasn’t! You weren’t there the entire time!”


But you wish you were, I think.


“He was about to say something, when you shot him! He said he didn’t want to kill me, and so I asked him what he was asking me! He barely got a word out, before you killed him in cold blood!” I scream.


“It was not in cold blood! He was going to kill you!” Braydon shouts back.


“No. No, you killed him because you were jealous. You were jealous I loved him instead of you. You didn’t want any competition,” I say, partly to myself. The sudden realization makes so much sense to me, and I want to find Jonathan and tell him. But knowing Braydon, he won’t let me near a car.


Braydon is hurt. I can see it plain on his face. He doesn’t try to hide it.


“You couldn’t have been more hurtful if you tried, Serene,” he says quietly.


“I did try,” I say back. I walk away from him, back to my room. He just watches me leave.



I pick up the landline in my room, and call Jonathan. He answers.


“Jonathan! How dare you send over Braydon! What is wrong with you?!” I exclaim, as soon as he picks up.


“Serene, calm down. This is to help you. Whatever problems you have, you need to resolve them. And he is the only way,” Jonathan explains.


“No. No, I know why he killed Liam. I don’t have any unresolved issues. The only thing I want to do with Braydon is to kill him!” I let out a stream of curses.


“Whoa, calm down. Let’s not get too out of our heads. Why did he kill Braydon?”


“He was jealous. He was jealous I loved Liam and not him. He knew Liam wasn’t going to kill. Liam had already taken the knife from me when Braydon shot him. There was nothing Liam could’ve used to kill me with. And Braydon knew that.”


Braydon knew that so well, he made up a different story to hide his shame. And from what I heard, it changed every time you asked.

~°~

Part 8


Braydon stayed with me for a good four months. No matter how many times I insisted he leave before I killed him, he wouldn’t.


I woke up every morning with him sitting like a creeper watching me in the chair in the corner of my room. He’d then proceed to get up, fix me breakfast, and sit with me on the balcony. No matter what I said, he wouldn’t leave.


So when I finally decided to go back to work, he left me alone when I asked. He didn’t sit in my bedroom and wait for me to wake up. He slept in the guest room, usually waking up after me. He still made breakfast for me, still sat out on the balcony with me. But other than that, I was alone.


It was a Friday afternoon when I decided that Monday I would be returning to work. But two days later, I was beginning to worry.


“Are you ready for work tomorrow, Serene?” Braydon asks, while cooking a grilled cheese sandwich.


“Um, yeah,” I lie. He knows it, too. Jeez, I can’t lie to anybody!


“Serene what are you so worried about?” Braydon says, smiling a little. We’d gotten comfortable enough with each other to joke once in a blue moon, and even smile.


“That this is all going to repeat and I’ll never live a normal life. Are you new here?” I reply, joking just a smidge.


“Serene, that won’t happen again. I’m sure Jonathan will give you paperwork for a few weeks until he decides you’re ready to go back in the field,” Braydon assures me. Only, I’m not as self-assured as he is.


“You don’t know that,” I say, sticking my tongue out at him. Okay, so part of the old me is back. Part of my immaturity with some of my colleagues is back. That’s good, right?


“Sure I do. If I know Jonathan, he won’t put you back in the field on your first week back,” Braydon assures me. Turns out, he doesn’t know Jonathan at all.

~°~



“Serene, I want you to do a mission for the next three weeks with Braydon,” Jonathan says, after I arrive in his office.


“What?!” I exclaim.


“It’s only for three weeks, Serene,” Jonathan says, like it’s not a big deal. But it is a big deal! It’s a huge deal!


“Another three weeks with Braydon? I’ve spent that last four months with him! What, are you insane?! I don’t need another minute Braydon!” I say, using my hands as I talk.


“Serene, all I want you to do is monitor the subject before we take him into custody. It’s not that bad. You’ll have to go to D.C., though. Latest intelligence tells us he’ll be there for a while,” Jonathan replies.


“For three weeks? Why three weeks, if all I’m doing is watching him?” I ask.


“Because he’s a bit unpredictable. Should he start making trouble, I want you to take him into custody early,” he says.


“I—I can’t. I haven’t done a mission in months; I can’t even remember where the hell my desk is anymore! And you expect me to remember how to be a—a sneaky cop that can—that can climb up walls, jump across roofs, and—and be a complete and total ninja?” I stutter. “You’re crazy, Jonathan! Just crazy!”


“This is why you will train every day for two weeks. Then, the following Sunday, I’ll brief you on the mission, and send you off. It’s not hard, Serene. I promise,” he says.


“Just like that? You’re going to send me on a mission, on my first week back, just like that?” I whisper.

~°~



“I can’t do this, Braydon,” I say, as he pushes me toward the translucent door to the training. It’s really opaque, because the lights are always off. You need night vision goggles to in.


“Sure you can. It’s not that hard,” he says, still pushing me. I plant my combat-booted feet firmly into the carpet.


“No, no I can’t. I haven’t been in the training room for seven months,” I point out, pushing against him with all my strength. Yes, all of the two pounds of strength I have.


Braydon opens the door, turns on our goggles, and pushes me in. Then, he closes the door behind us.


“Crap,” I mutter. All I see are four walls blocking me in. I can’t remember anything about this place.


“You have thirty minutes remaining to find your way out, kill the hostiles, and rescue the hostage. Your time begins now,” a female electronic voice says. Okay, I remember her. Her voice always made me want to beat the record time, but no one has in sixty years.


“Okay. Let’s go kick some robot butt,” I say, mostly to myself. I’ve got my “angry face” on, and Braydon smiles. We both grab our M-14s and head into the “hostile situation”.


The door to the hostile room shuts and locks as we enter. I almost freak out, but then I realize I can’t. I’ll get him killed if I do. Wait… NO.


Before I know it, I’m shooting at a hostile. I never even saw him come up from behind the window. I just started shooting.


Braydon mutters something, which sounds like a curse to me, but I can’t really hear it.


The hostile turns red, which signals it’s “dead”. I keep turning, shooting at whatever jumps up at me. Several things do, and instantly turn red. I get multiple head shots. Hell yeah! Haven’t lost my touch!


Braydon and I keep going, slowly. He gets in a few shots before I realize we’ve gone in a circle.



“We’ve gone in a circle!” I say to him, whispering just a little.


“How do you know?” he asks.


“No one’s coming up anymore. Take a right here!” I whisper. We turn through a door, and hear the voice again.


“You have reached the end of the hostile room. You have twenty-six minutes remaining. Find the hostage,” the electronic voice says.


“Greeeeat,” I say sarcastically. I lower my gun for a moment—just a moment!—and instantly feel a shot in my side. It’s fake, but the electronic padding lets me know I was hit. I turn immediately to find the source, and shoot it. I’m spraying and praying, but it dies quickly.


Things start jumping up everywhere, and Braydon and I are shooting everything. Everything dies, and the hostage is located quickly. We get him/her (we can’t tell what it is), and try to find a way out. With our luck, there’s about sixty more people for us to kill and we’ve used up two minutes getting the hostage. It’s heavy!


“Go! Out the window, go!” Braydon says, and pushes me and the hostage through the window. He shoots at anyone on his side, and jumps through the window.


“You have completed the hostile training. Your time is seven minutes, thirteen seconds, and five milliseconds,” the female electronic voice says. I’ve decided to call her Amy. She just sounds like an Amy to me.


“Braydon,” I say, shocked, “You know what this means, right?”


He nods and says, “Uh-huh.”


“We just broke the record. By eight seconds!”


“Congratulations,” Jonathan says, clapping slowly. Only, it’s not Jonathan. It sounds like him, but I as I find the owner of the voice, I realize it isn’t him.


“Crap,” I mutter, raising my gun at him.


“You know that’s fake, right?” the man says.


I curse, and lower the gun.


“There’s a smart girl,” the man says.


“Don’t lose your focus, Serene,” Braydon whispers to me.


“Secrets are no fun, unless they’re shared with everyone,” the man says creepily.


“It’s no secret that you’re creepy,” I say.


“Flattery will get you nowhere, my dear,” he says.


I look at Braydon, and we’ve both got on our “creeped out” faces.


“It wasn’t a compliment?” I say, slightly in question form. I feel around my utility belt for my knife. I’m hoping I still have it. I do. It’s behind my back, and I start to pull it out slowly and silently. It doesn’t escape his notice.


“I wouldn’t try that if I were you,” he says. Right as he says that, I throw it. It hits him, square in the throat. I finally recognize him. Jared!


“It’s Jared. They’ve made a robot of him. I guess this is the new way to kill the evil master mind,” I explain to Braydon.


Jared’s on the ground now. He’s dead. His body is flashing red.

~°~

Part 9


I’m sitting on the roof of the Capital Building, watching the target through my binoculars.


“He’s not really that unpredictable,” I say to Braydon, as he cleans his rifle.


“Thought Jonathan said he was?”


“He did. But so far, nothing.” We’ve been watching him for a week and a half.


The target, code-named Gordon Strong, is at his usual morning coffee house. He’s talking to the clerk, a female.


If I had a parabolic mic, I’d be able to hear them. But Jonathan didn’t give us one.


“Do you think he’ll actually do anything interesting today?” Braydon asks.



“I hope so. This is really boring,” I yawn. “Your turn. I’ll finish cleaning the rifles.”


“Okay,” Braydon agrees. He takes my spot, and just as I pick up a rifle, he shouts, “GO! MOVE, GO, NOW! He’s on the move, and NOT in a good way!” I look down at the street as I grab my gear.


Gordon Strong is running down the street, cops hot on his tail.


I let out a stream of curses, because he’s headed our way. I bolt to the edge of the building. Should I jump?


Now’s not the time to debate it! I jump, aiming to land on the tree in front of me. I land on the top branches, and one snaps off. It slides down the tree, with me on it, like I’m snowboarding.


Just as the branch hits the ground and I go flying, Gordon gets in my fly zone. I land on him, and hear our bodies crunch into the pavement.


I get up, and turn him over to handcuff him. As I pull him to stand, I turn him to face me.


I’m totally unprepared for what I see.

~°~


“Liam?” I whisper, stunned. He looks at me then.


“Serene?” he says back. He doesn’t look the same, but I know it’s him. Mostly because A. he just said my name; and B. I’d know his eyes anywhere.


He was wearing sunglasses earlier, but they fell and were crushed to a pulp when we fell. He has a thick mustache now. His eyes are still beautiful. There’s a scar where he was shot in the head, but I barely even notice it. This is Liam, and he’s alive.


“Liam, how are you—,” I start to say, but I don’t finish. Because Liam kisses me, right on the mouth. Even though he’s got handcuffs on, he steps through his arms and grabs my face. I grab his back, but to pull him away.


“Liam,” I say. I search his eyes.


“Serene, it’s really him,” a voice says. It’s Braydon. I look at him, shocked. There are two other officers with him, nodding.


“But Braydon—,” I start to argue, but Braydon cuts me off.


“Just kiss him,” he says, and smiles. I’m proud of him. Still mad at him, but proud of him.


I smile back at him, and kiss his cheek. He blushes and pushes me towards Liam.


One of the other cops un-handcuffs Liam. He rubs his wrists, and then pulls me in for another kiss.


Thank you, Jonathan, I think. I know he did this on purpose. And I love him for it.

~°~

Epilogue


Liam has me in his arms. He’s walking up to our house, smiling the whole way. He kisses my forehead, and smiles at the wedding ring on my finger. He’s shaved his mustache, so I’m not so afraid of him kissing me anymore.



“This will be a night to remember,” he whispers, as he unlocks the front door. The lights are on inside, and there’s already furniture in it. We went shopping before the wedding.


As Liam closes the door, I smile, and start to unzip my wedding dress. Liam smiles back, and carries me to our bedroom. He lays me down on the soft bed and kisses me over and over.

~°~




“Liam, be careful. Braydon is behind you,” I say, as Liam stands on the ladder to replace a light in the kitchen. He’s wobbling, and Braydon is on the floor, playing with his toy trucks.


We named our first son after Braydon, for helping to bring us together again.


“I won’t hit him, Serene,” he says, smiling at me.


I’ve got our second son, Jonathan (named after my boss, also for helping to bring us together again), in my arms. He’s almost finished with his bottle of milk, and he’ll fall asleep soon.


“Just be careful,” I laugh. I feel a kick in my stomach, and I smile. It’s our baby girl, Liliana Marie. She’s due in three weeks, and we couldn’t be more excited.


“Honey,” Liam says, as he climbs down the ladder, “Can you flip the switch for me?”


I turn around and reach for the switch, but it’s too far, and if I move, Jonathan will start crying.


Liam smiles, laughs, and reaches over me for the switch. He kisses me at the same time.


The light comes on, brighter than ever.


“Make sure to clean the lens, dear,” I say, as he pulls away.


“I love you,” he says, and kisses me again.


I love him, too. I really love him.

~°~

The End




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

confusedteen said...
yesterday at 11:30 pm:
It was amazing. You did a spectacular job with this!! Keep writing
 
NovemberBorn replied...
today at 9:21 am :
Thanks! :D
 
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