tagRomanceShackled Ch. 02

Shackled Ch. 02

byStory_Spinner©

Ten long years of her life had been eaten up by her work and what did she have to show for it? Nothing. Emma hugged her black parker closer to her body, shivering as a gust of wind hit her small frame. Under a dark hat she'd stuffed her hair inside and tugged it low, ditched her reading glasses and dressed herself in a pair of jeans that sported several tears in them and a t-shirt. Nothings screamed 'look at me' which is just what she wanted.

This was a far cry from her 'comfortable' day to day life, she thought wryly. She'd been the brain, the one everyone depended on, specializing in pharmaceuticals. Young and naive, she'd been striving to make the world a better place...a place where drugs could be affordable again and the sick could be cared for once again. Forget this rationing. The general public would have a way...some hope.

That was weeks ago...2 weeks and 3 days to be exact when she had gotten word of the true plan behind the work she had plunged herself into and walked away from the company with a disk hidden in the safety of her bra. Her bra! Anger had bubbled over and then panic. She'd only copied her data in hopes of finding out the big picture of the corporations plan. Then she would have to find the cure...ironically, a cure in which she had been working on to begin with.

"They'll hunt you down like a dog, Em." Simon had warned her when he'd gotten wind of her plan.

"I can't let them get away with this." She'd argued back, "Imagine it! Men, women and children are rapidly dropping like flies...if this gets out. If it's what I think it is the populations will dwindle further. And then what? Hmmm? It could be your kids, Simon. Your wife. I'm not going to let that happen."

And hung they did. The Special Forces were everywhere, questioning, scanning. Living in constant state of fear and nerves was exhausting. She hadn't eaten or slept in days, traveled through the seedy, dark alleyways of the city and stayed to herself. No contact with friends or family.

Prim and proper little Emma Hopson...a fugitive. She almost laughed out loud at herself. Nerdy Emma who usually had her nose stuck to a computer screen or her eyes fixed under a microscope. What did she know about the streets? Not much, but she was damn proud of herself for doing this well for this long. However, hunger and fatigue were getting the best of her. She wanted out of the cold and into the warmth.

Eying the small bar ahead, Emma looked around quickly and made her way over, holding onto her hat as another gust of wind picked up. Her stomach knotted with nerves as she peaked into the small establishment and 'casually' took a gander around the place. No Special Forces, just your average drunks.

Walking in fully, she headed to the restroom first in hopes of warming up her hands under some hot water and taking care of some basic hygiene before drowning the cold inside with something alcoholic.

****

Hansen had dropped off The Package and received a tidy sum for it. "Fat fuck" was actually a dissident leader who'd informed on his own group to the Special Police Forces. The shed where he'd handed him over was full of angry looking people. There were saws, hammers, electric prods....

It didn't look like fat fuck was going to have a very pleasant night.

Fuck him.

He stood outside the shed, on the edge of a pier. The black, oily water was calm below him, the rain droplets making dimples all over its surface. He took the fake badges off the sleeves of his shirt. Poor old fat fuck. He'd thought Hansen was government, come to get him. He placed the badges in one hand and squeezed them up. He leaned back and pitched them into the water.

Selling out your mates wasn't a good idea. Especially if they find out. Hansen had been sold out by one of his own.

And he'd found out.

The motherfucker didn't live to regret his mistake. He'd died with a grenade in his mouth. "Cat got your tongue?" was the last thing Hansen had said to him before his head had disappeared in different directions.

Now it was going to be fat fuck's time. Fuck you, fat fuck.

He smirked. If he'd asked for payment by the kilo, then it might been an even more lucrative job.

You're a card, Hansen.

But as he looked down on the water, his look was grim. There was no humour in his eyes. He turned away from the edge of the pier and looked towards the lights of the city.

"I need a fucking beer," he muttered, and strode away from the shed.

It's your funeral, fat fuck, and I'm not going.

*****

Hansen headed to his favorite bar. He only had two rules when it came to bars; they had to be dark and they had to serve beer. It made it pretty easy to find one.

No point limiting your options.

Here in the concrete facades of the city, the wind collected and funneled down the streets. Hansen pushed against the irregular cold gusts of wind, the rain driving into his face like icy pin pricks. His cheeks were going numb.

Nothing a beer or three won't fix.

He went through the doors of the bar and into its warmth. There were a few people in there, mainly the usual drunks and a few desperate couples engaged in stilted conversation and furtive touches.

People.

If it weren't for the fact that their fuck ups provided him with a lucrative income, Hansen could quite easily live his life without people. Since Jess, he hadn't had to interact with many, besides for business transactions.

And that's the way I like it, he thought.

He strode to the bar. The bartender had thick forearms, thicker biceps and an even thicker neck. There was still muscle under there somewhere, but he was doing a good job of hiding it. A few more years and the camouflage would be complete and perfect.

The bartender grunted at him.

"Liam. What'll it be?"

Hansen raised an eye back at him.

"Let's try something different tonight," he said.

"Ok, a beer," said the bartender without waiting. He threw Hansen a clean bar towel that was folded next to him.

Hansen wiped the rain off his face and head and placed the towel back down on his bar.

The bartender placed a beer in front of him.

"Better pull me another one, Carl," Hansen said to the bartender.

The bartender looked at him, no sign of humour.

"So it's gonna be one of those nights?" he said.

"I reckon," he replied.

He picked up his glass off the bar and decided to take a seat there. It was safer. Henry was not one to banter and he was closer to the beer. He had a pocket full of money and bar full of booze.

What more could I want?

****

The bathroom was dimly light, but thankfully it was small and had a lock on the door, prohibiting anyone else from bursting through. She hoped anyway. The single light bulb ahead flickered, threatening to plunge her into darkness. Emma only wished she could hide out so easily, but took what she could take.

The warm water made her sigh as she rinsed off her hands and squeezed the last bit of soap from the soap dispenser and worked up the lather, washing her face and blotting it it dry with the last remains of rough cheap paper towels.

Feeling moderately human again Emma made short work of finger combing her hair and twirling the long length of it up on top of her hair and stuffing her baseball hat back on - a loan from Simon upon her 'escape'.

Patting her back pocket, making sure what little cash she had managed to take out of her account and the disk were still safe and sound. "Okay...you're good. Time to get a drink and something to eat."

With a deep breath, she studied herself one last time and then pushed open the bathroom door, stepping through it. Low mumbles filled the air as people talked, drinking and exchanging...whatever it was they were exchanging. Thankfully, the bar was empty...apart from one man. She studied him a moment, shifting nervously and then pushed forward, sliding onto the a bar stool as one hell of a big man came lumbering over. "What will it be?"

"Um..." Damn...she drew a blank a moment and stared at his thick neck, blinking slowly. "Irish coffee? Yes...Irish coffee and do you have any food?"

She rarely frequented bars and something told her this joint didn't pack anything nutritious, but again, she would take what she could get.

The big man studied her a moment until she found herself tugging at her hat and drumming her fingers against the the top of the bar. "Never mind."

"No worries sweet cheeks, I'll throw in a little something. Looks like you need a little meat on your bones." He said, making her flush self consciously. Moments later a large bowl of nuts and pretzels appearance and Emma almost moaned with delight. Yeah, it wasn't fancy, but it would fill the gnawing hunger in her gut.

"Thank you." She mumbled softly and tossed half a handful into her mouth, chewing with purpose.

****

Hansen was on to his third beer and Carl would keep them coming for as long as he wanted. The familiar buzz in his head was there to distract him from his life.

A woman came and sat beside him. She was wearing ragged jeans and a baseball cap. Unusual, but not too out of line for the place they were in. He felt his space invaded.

Why the fuck do you have to sit here when there's plenty of room everywhere else?

"Irish coffee? Yes...Irish coffee and do you have any food?" she said. Her voice was cultured and he could tell she was educated. She didn't belong here and that got his radar pricking up a little.

Oh, he thought, one of those.

He looked across at her while she was dealing with Carl. She was pale and slender. Underneath her baseball cap, he could see some wisps of brown hair. He was looking at her in profile, trying to be surreptitious, so he couldn't get a full view of her, but the view he did have was a good one.

Probably some rich wife slumming it. Occasionally he ran into one of those, looking to see how the other half lives.

And fucks.

Then they could run off back to their sugar daddies, content that they'd done something daring. They probably all sat around drinking champagne at lunch and recounting their exploits with those from the "other side."

Hansen had fucked a few in his day. Sort of his way of giving the finger to the privileged.

Geez, you're funny tonight, Hansen. The finger....

He wasn't in the mood to engage tonight, but she grated on him. It wasn't her fault. Everyone did. Talking to people or listening to them was like running his fingernails down a blackboard, uncomfortable and something to be avoided.

He drank his beer and held his counsel. Carl could handle her. He nodded towards the bartender who nodded back.

Code: another beer on the way while I handle the rich bitch slumming it. He had known Carl for a long time and they didn't need to speak. It was like there was telepathy between them. Carl had many skills. Some were useful. Some were dangerous. He and Carl understood each other.

He waited while the bartender handled his new client. He saw him bring over a bowl of nuts and pretzels and place it in front of the woman. Then Carl walked to the tap and pulled him another beer.

He felt good with the money he had and the alcohol was making him feel loose.

He couldn't resist.

"Never had anyone order food in here before, Carl."

Carl looked at him with a face that said: now, whaddya wanna start talkin' like that for?

"Yeah," continued Hansen."Food and an Irish Coffee," he said mockingly.

He took another large sip of his beer. The woman was eating her nuts and pretzels and doing a very good job of ignoring him, but he could see her jaw clenching. She was also looking ahead way too intently at the shelf of spirits to have not heard him.

He chuckled to himself.

If I can irk one rich, self-satisfied bitch tonight, then I've done the world a service.

"Carl," he said. "One more....and hold the coffee."

You are a card, Hansen, he thought, a real card.

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