Updated: Feb 17
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Chapter 6: The intensity in her voice was compelling, but it was the look of real fear in her eyes that actually did the trick. Groaning in sheer misery, Sabrina opened up the car door.
“I’m not happy about this.”
“You’ll thank me later.”
Despite her heartless words, Deanda still gave Sabrina several minutes to stretch and perform other stalling tactics before hustling her forward, luggage in hand. Even then, it took them a significant amount of time to make it to the appropriate counter, since Sabrina made sure to stop to look at everything she could.
First, she asked to check out the tiny bookstore they passed. Two minutes later, she let herself get distracted by a jewelry ad. After she’d gone so far as to backtrack to that first store to buy several novels, Deanda made it clear she’d had enough and practically dragged her toward their actual destination.
“I’d like two one-way tickets to Glasgow on your next plane out,” Deanda told the very pleasant blond behind the first computer screen.
Maybe it was because she was so very nervous about flying, but Sabrina thought the woman was obnoxiously cheerful as her fingers flew over the keyboard.
The same went for when she chirped out her findings. “It looks like we do have a few seats left on a nineteen twenty-five flight to Heathrow. It has an initial layover in Boston, and then you’ll have to change planes in London to get to Glasgow. If you want a more direct connection, there isn’t one available until tomorrow.”
“No, that’s fine. We’ll take it,” Deanda assured.
Once again, there was the furious clacking of keys, mentioning of flights and explanation of boarding, arrival and layover times. Sabrina worried her lower lip anxiously, her eyes scanning the scattered rows of chairs and check-in lines for some sort of salvation.
“May I see your passports?”
It hadn’t dawned on Sabrina before that she might need a passport, though it made perfect sense now that she thought about it. It also made one giant problem since she didn’t have one, a realization that first sent a wave of relief washing over her. But that was followed by a surprisingly intense sting of disappointment. It might have been fun to see Scotland, even if it was on trumped-up faerie business.
Sabrina was just about to tell Deanda that there was a slight flaw in the plan, when she realized her friend had slid not one but two blue-backed booklets across the counter. If the ticket lady had any problem with them, she didn’t say so, handing them back a moment later with another smile.
Sabrina pounced on hers before Deanda could reach for it, opening it up to stare in disbelief. The picture was definitely hers, as was the birth date, though her name was listed as Jennifer Coring.
“I don’t have a passport,” she practically hissed when they walked away with their printed tickets tucked into a neat little brochure-like envelope. “Particularly one issued to Jennifer Coring.”
“Your brother got one for you. And don’t worry about the alias. It all appears legit thanks to a little bit of faerie doctoring.”
Suddenly seeing a discrepancy in the bigger picture, Sabrina was quick to bring it up. “Why would a faerie need a passport in the first place? I mean, can’t they just fly wherever they want to?”
“How many miles is it between Scotland and the U.S.?” Deanda pointed out with raised eyebrows and a distinctly superior attitude.
“Oh,” Sabrina acquiesced in a single syllable.
“Not to mention carrying luggage and small children. Nobody has that kind of stamina.”
“You can’t just teleport or something like that?”
“I’m a faerie, not a Star Trek engineer, Za. If you figure out how to do anything like that, please let me know,” Deanda replied dryly.
“So then what’s the point of having wings?”
“Avoiding danger. Getting across distances shorter than a whole entire ocean. Looking awesome.” She shrugged. “I don’t know. I didn’t write the faerie genetic code. Go ask God.”
That shut Sabrina up until they started walking back to the car to get their luggage. With her mind still racing to find an alternative escape route, she began wondering why they were flying to see her supposed brother when he had sent her off packing twenty-four years ago. Shouldn’t she stay in America if Scotland was such a hotbed of HPAC activity?
After thinking it over several times, she voiced the brilliant question to Deanda, who managed to have an immediate response. Just like she seemed to have an immediate, and fairly well-reasoned, response to every argument Sabrina had come up with so far.
She explained that, overall, the U.S. had been safe for the last decade. Considering how they were now on the run, that clearly had changed. And since the HPAC had never managed to find any openings to Faeriedom back home, as her brother’s councilors had feared when they’d first sent her away, Scotland was a safer option at this point. There, she could rely more fully on faerie resources before going underground, which the natives called “downstairs.”
For her part, Sabrina was sure there had to be a flaw in the plan, but the busy airport didn’t lend well to too much deep thinking.
Another issue crept to the front of her consciousness as she tried to sort through the other dozen swirling around in her head. “Shouldn’t we have driven up to, I don’t know, Maine or at least Newark if we’re flying to Scotland?”
“That would be the logical move,” Deanda agreed. “Which is exactly why it’s the wrong one to make. My guess is that all the major airports from Philadelphia to Boston are crawling with HPAC. The further away we are from them, the better. Besides, we had to wait for official orders on what we were doing.”
Sabrina mulled that over for only a few seconds. It made sense, she supposed. “So what are we going to do while we wait for tonight?”
“I don’t know. Shop? Sleep in the car? What do you want to do?” Deanda yawned, clearly giving her opinion on the matter.
“I’m done with sleeping in the car.” Sabrina kyboshed that idea. “You want to sleep, let’s get a hotel room. We can rent it by the hour or something.” Her eyes flashed with a moment’s wickedness. “You should be used to that.”
But Deanda appeared to be too weary to trade witty repartees. “There’s a Hyatt in the airport.”
“Isn’t that going to be a little expensive?” Sabrina asked doubtfully, still unable to grasp the concept of having so much money at her fingertips. “I mean, we’re just going to be staying there a little while.”
“I know but I’m tired, it’s right here, and right now, that’s all I care about.”
Sabrina acquiesced, and they rolled their luggage through the crowds and around corners until they got to the swanky hotel. Despite being attached to the airport, the Hyatt lobby alone was amazingly spacious with sizable palm trees growing inside. Between that and the sophisticated patrons walking around, she felt very uncultured, meekly allowing Deanda to take charge of booking.
They made their way to the room where, without stopping to appreciate the rich golden hues of the décor, Deanda flopped onto the bed with a groan of approval.
Sabrina cast her a sympathetic glance before traipsing over to the window, which offered a spectacular and soundless view of several runways. In fact, even as she stepped nearer, one giant airplane was shooting down the stretch and lifting into the air in a sudden rush of power.
If man were meant to fly.
Despite the sheer awe the feat inspired in her, Sabrina shuddered at the thought of being on the plane. She had heard people say that, statistically speaking, people ran higher risks of dying in a car. But that didn’t comfort her.
She didn’t panic when she got into a car. She didn’t grip the wheel in terror when she felt the vehicle start to move beneath her. And she definitely didn’t think about crashing miles downward to the earth below.
Though if Deanda was right, Sabrina had a biological parachute. The ridiculous thought brought her some comfort until she remembered that, faerie or not, she didn’t have any wings.
So much for not crashing.
Despite her fear, she couldn’t bring herself to look away from the strip. Instead, she waited while another five planes left the ground, their wheels tucking up underneath as they climbed higher. And by the time she did turn around, Deanda was sound asleep.
With a sigh, Sabrina sat on the bed to begin one of her newly purchased novels, which struck a little too close to home with its dramatic ordeals and chase scenes. All she needed, she realized sarcastically, was a charmingly obnoxious romantic interest and she could write her own book.
Deanda woke up an hour or two later. Since they still had time to kill before they could so much as check their luggage, she suggested they take a trip down to the pool. Sabrina happily agreed. They ducked into the hotel store for bathing suits, emerging equipped for their little expedition. Sabrina was already wearing her green and white two-piece, with a breezy sundress over top; and Deanda was clad in a red and black-checked bikini with a matching wrap.
The pool was an inviting shade of blue when they arrived at the beautifully designed outdoor area. Three fountains in the furthest wall shot out jets of water, and reclining lawn chairs were spaced out over two of the other walls. It was a relaxing scene they had all to themselves, and Sabrina wasted no time in submerging herself in the hot tub. She leaned her head back with a sigh while Deanda went to grab a towel to put her stuff on top of. But as she did, her phone went off, and she picked it up immediately.
The conversation was exceedingly brief and sounded just as worrisome.
“Yeah… Okay… So we’re on our own?... No, that’s fine. We can wait it out… I’ll call you when we’re through security… Okay. Bye.” Deanda flicked the phone shut with a seriousness that showed throughout her whole body. “We have to go back to the room now.”
Glancing around the area in a rapid rush of nerves, Sabrina stood up. Her skin reacted to the quick change in temperature, but those goose bumps were nothing compared to the chills she got when four men walked through the glass doors leading into the pool area. Their black business suits and those unforgettable sunglasses jumped out at her, freezing her in terror even before they pushed their way outside. Other than their varying hair colors and the slight differences in their mass distribution, they looked disturbingly uniform. The only major difference in their costumes was that one of the men carried a briefcase.
Sabrina was certain she did not want to know what was inside.
It looked like Deanda’s warning call had come too late.
Somewhere very far back in the furthest reaches of her mind, Sabrina entertained the probability that the HPAC members must be very hot in their outfits. The rest of her consciousness was preoccupied with watching them move with military precision.
Two of them covered the door into the hotel, flipping the open sign to closed, and loosening the curtains that had been pulled back, so that anyone who happened to walk by wouldn’t be able to see a thing. A third man took quick steps over to the emergency exit across the way. And the fourth – a tall fellow, who just happened to be the biggest of the bunch – moved toward Sabrina with such a menacing sneer that she found she couldn’t lift her other foot out of the hot tub.
That last individual, she recognized as the driver from the other day. The other ones rang very scary bells in her brain too.
“I’m going to ask you to come with me,” he growled in a baritone that was alarming enough all on its own. So it didn’t help how it held some sick level of amusement as well. He didn’t quite smile, but it was implied all the same when he went on. “Now.”
She looked around for help, but nothing had changed since they’d first entered the room. The area was still otherwise distressingly unoccupied.
Sabrina went for broke right away. “If you come near either of us, I swear I will scream so loud every security guard in the airport will come running.”
The man didn’t reply so much in words, but the sardonic twist to his lips spoke volumes. He began unbuttoning his jacket.
“You guys aren’t going to get away with this,” Deanda said tensely, edging closer to Sabrina.
“Stop right there and sit down,” the leader growled at her, finishing with his buttons.
“And if I don’t?” She questioned, though her voice sounded a little shaky.
By moving toward Sabrina, Deanda had also moved closer to him, so it didn’t take too many steps for him to cross over to her. His height, especially next to her standard feminine inches, was more than unsettling.
“You sure you want to ask that question?”
Before Deanda could answer, he reached out and shoved her hard enough to send her sprawling on the ground. Sabrina could hear the sickening sound of her friend’s skull hitting the floor, and she automatically reached out toward her. But the horrible man stepped directly in the way before she could do anything more, causing her to shrink back in automatic fear and revulsion.
Sabrina’s eyes darted back and forth between Deanda, who was lying on the ground holding her head, and one of the two men who had been guarding the main door. He was now stepping forward instead.
Taking the jacket from his fellow thug, he stepped back again a little ways like he didn’t want his suit to get stained.
She was going to die! They were going to kill her right then and there, she was sure. Sabrina looked over at her moaning friend even as the goon moved closer. She opened her mouth to scream, but only a pathetic squeak of terror came out.
It was like a bad dream. A very, very, very horrible bad dream.
“Sit.” He told her.
Wide-eyed and helpless, she stepped her other foot back into the water to take a seat on the edge of the hot tub. The temperature no longer felt nearly so nice.
Moving forward to tower over her, he took his time rolling up his perfectly starched white cuffs. Just the third of his arms he revealed showed he was in excellent physical condition.
When he knelt down, she tried to move away. But he was too fast. She caught a whiff of his musky cologne right before he grabbed her ponytail and plunged her head below the surface.
With the hot water stinging her face, she flailed against him as best as she could, though the awkward angle made it virtually impossible to do any damage with her hands and nails. His arm barely twitched.
Her chest began to burn as he kept her under, and her mind swam like she knew her lungs would be if she didn’t get some oxygen soon. Her struggles grew more pathetic with each passing second, and she found herself dizzily wondering about the afterlife by the time he pulled her up.
Shaking uncontrollably, Sabrina gasped for air.
Meanwhile, her wretched attacker knelt there, looking composed and altogether in charge. His fingers twitched menacingly, curling and uncurling while he gave her a minute to collect herself.
Then he deigned to address her again. “Would you like to reconsider cooperating?”
Sabrina nodded, hating him for making her acquiesce almost as much as she despised him for almost killing her.
“Good decision. Now get out.”
He stood up and stepped back to accept the towel his associate offered. The other two men must have moved at some point while she was underwater. They were looming over Deanda, who was trying to sit up. Her friend’s attempts just earned her a foot in the side that sent her sprawling back down in an ungraceful heap.
She cried out at the movement and tried to struggle. But the same suited terror that had kicked her moved again to place his foot on her neck, keeping her down and facing away from the drama enfolding at the hot tub.
With a powerless glance over at her prostrate friend, Sabrina did as she’d been told. Standing there dripping wet and breathing hard, she knew how vulnerable she looked. The only way she could look more so was by wearing a big sign around her neck with the words “take advantage of me” scrawled out in bold and over-sized letters.
With that in mind, she crossed her arms over her chest, shivering from more than the temperature change she’d just undergone.
The man stared at her – or probably stared at her. She couldn’t really tell through the sunglasses – while he casually ran the towel over his face, arms and chest. It was like he’d just gotten splashed by a few raindrops the way he was behaving. His callousness frightened her, but not as much as when he removed his sunglasses to clean them off as well.
If her brush with death hadn’t terrified her enough, his brown eyes did. Dark with calculation, they reflected what his mouth had already hinted at: that he was enjoying himself.
Finished drying off, he held the fluffy cloth just away from him. “Do you want it?”
Sabrina didn’t need any encouragement to say no. Her teeth chattered, and she clamped her jaws together while she stood her ground.
“Yes, you do,” he informed her with a nasty little smile. “This is the Hyatt, and appearances matter. You can’t go out there looking like a drowned mouse. Now come here.”
Her entire insides turned at just the thought of being any closer to him. But when she still didn’t move, he rocked a bit backward on his heels.
“Unless you need further convincing.” He nodded at the hot tub again in case she was too dense or damaged to understand his obvious threat.
Still unsure which one was worse, Sabrina banked everything on the semi-public nature of where they were, even if the public was conspicuously elsewhere. She shuffled forward, not sure whether she should be looking at the ground to avoid looking at him, or at him to have some clue about his next move. Though it turned out she shouldn’t have bothered, since the HPAC bully decided for her.
Just as she was reaching for the towel, her tormentor let it drop to the ground, forcing a fresh wave of humiliation through her. Even though she knew what he wanted her to do, she still waited for him to say it. Petrified or not, there was no way she was going to bow down otherwise.
“What are you waiting for, little Princess?” He asked snidely. “Pick it up.”
With quick, jerky movements, Sabrina stooped to grab it. As soon as her fingers were clenched around the cloth, she was scurrying back several steps, where she wrapped the towel around her body for what protection it could afford.
“Dry off. We’re going back to your room.”
“Why?” Her face blanched, and everything else locked up at the horrid possibilities.
“Because I said so.”
“That isn’t good enough.” Despite that brave stance, she was trembling violently. “I want a real answer, or you might as well just kill me now.”
He took a menacing step forward. “You sure about that?”
Her brain raced with that question. The truth was she didn’t feel ready to die. And holding her breath under the water had been so very painful.
She wanted wings. Wings definitely would be very useful right about then.
Sabrina opened her mouth to scream, even though the tactic hadn’t done a single bit of good when she tried it just a few minutes before.
But for as big as he was, the man was unfairly fast. He had her mouth covered in one overwhelmingly large hand before she could try out her vocal chords again. Despite knowing how futile it was, Sabrina fought as hard as she could, her bare feet flailing against him. She kept struggling too, even after he had her upper body fully restrained. With her back pressed against him and her wrists engulfed in his other hand, she watched in helpless horror as his friend with the briefcase stepped forward.
Holding onto a nasty looking syringe, that second man forced her left cheek against her captor’s damp shirt. She tensed even more, cringing away as far as she could, which wasn’t much. With disturbing ease and a small frown of concentration, the man slipped the needle into her neck.
Sabrina was unconscious before he had slid it back out.
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