tagRomanceShackled Ch. 07

Shackled Ch. 07

byStory_Spinner©

Chapter 7

The second time around, Emma woke more slowly, stretching her body under the sheets and then burying her face in the pillow. She hadn't noticed before, but now she was more alert, she could smell him on the sheets and it was once again, strangely soothing. Still, while she could have stayed there half the day being lazy, there was no time for it.

Rolling onto her back, she noticed he'd already gotten up, the sound of the shower giving her a clue that he was washing up. With a yawn, she slowly slid out of bed and grabbed her now clean and dry panties, slipping them on followed by her jeans. Since the shower was still running, she turned her back to the kitchen/bathroom area just in case and took off her shirt, making short work of slipping on her bra and then the shirt. Feeling a lot less naked, sat back down and finger combed her hair a moment, styling it in a long loose braid for now. It was at least practical.

Her stomach growled, but she still wasn't comfortable enough to 'help herself' in his place. This was still his domain and she was intruding. Not really an invited guest. Standing, she noticed her disk sitting on the small bedside table and stared at it, remembering their conversation from the night before. Did they have a chance?

Lost in thought, she jerked her gaze towards him and then quickly averted her gaze to the ceiling again, one hand coming up to shield her eyes. "Ah, sorry. Caught me off guard." She mumbled, wondering which way she should turn to avoid getting an eye full.

She heard him chuckle with amusement. "Are you shy, Irish?"

A slow flush once again crept up her neck, coloring her cheeks all the way to the tip of her ears. OK...so she wasn't a virgin, but not only had it been many many years since her last encounter with a naked male, it had been less than impressive for one and she couldn't say that she'd spent much time enjoying the opposite sex like some. Too engrossed with her work, she lacked a lot when it came to matters of men and women, especially in the bedroom.

"I can tell that you're not. For shame, Liam." She teased back and cleared her throat again, studiously dropping her head and studying her bare toes while he got dressed.

****

It felt good to have a shower. The cold water didn't bother Hansen. He'd been having cold showers for years. He had grown up on the beach in southern Australia and in winter the water there was frigid. Well, so far as Australia goes.

He finished up and stepped out into the kitchen area. Emma was up and she looked straight at him.

She was blushing furiously and she didn't know which way to look. Which, of course, made it all the more fun for him. He made sure to stand there for a few extra moments before grabbing his towel, but then he put her out of her misery by quickly toweling himself down and wrapping the towel around his torso.

"You're redder than a beetroot, Irish," he laughed. "No fear, I wasn't shy last night with you, that's for sure. You should keep your hands to yourself you know. It was only the first date and I wasn't expecting payment in that way."

He winked at her. He knew he was being mean as nothing had happened, but the sight of her turning ruby made him nearly keel over with laughter.

He turned to the counter and dressed himself. Then he made a big show of of walking over to her and waving his hand in front of her face.

"You can look now," he said with a chuckle. "I'm sure your toes will still be there later so you can stop counting them."

She looked up at him. For a moment his face turned serious. He took her hand gently.

"Emma. I'll do what I can. You're as safe with me as with anyone. But you have to trust me. It could get ugly and I'll do things.... things you don't like. I'm not always nice and I'm not always fair, but I care.... believe me I care...."

He was lost in thought for a few moments, but then he snapped out of it. He dropped her hand and walked back to the kitchen bench. On the way, he picked up his dirty jeans from last night. He rifled through the pockets and pulled out the small electronic transponder, its green light blinking. He set it down on the bench.

He slapped his hands together and said, "Well, for breakfast we have a choice. Weak coffee or strong coffee. What'll be, Irish?"

Then he reached behind him, opened a cupboard door and slapped down a bottle on the bench.

Whiskey.

"For courage," he said.

His face was serious.

****

She was touched by his words and something else that lingered in his gaze. Something told her that Liam definitely had a past he more than likely didn't want to talk about. She had no intentions of prodding for his deep seeded secrets either, but for a moment she wanted to wrap her arms around him and squeeze him tightly. It was silly. He could take care of himself better than she could herself, but he inspired the need to comfort him.

Shaking her head, she watched him mark over the kitchen. Coffee? Oh there was a God after all and he was merciful! "Weak is never an option. Strong all the way, but, not sure I want the whiskey this time around."

The look he shot her called her a chicken and she sighed and sat down on a nearby stool, leaning against the counter, "Well okay...maybe a splash."

Eying the transponder as he worked around the kitchen, Emma picked it up, studying it. "Do you know...anything about what they implanted in us? I'm pretty handy with technology, but I can't say that I've ever paid much attention to SPF's use of weaponry. Sticking so close might prove to be tricky at times. Plus, do we get any sort of warning before one or the other explodes? Seems rather barbaric. Not that I expected much else from them."

The scent of coffee made her stomach clench and mouth water. "If I molest you in my sleep again tonight, will you give me more coffee in the morning?" She teased, her eyes sparkling, warm and flecked with little bits of gold.

****

"Hey," he said, smiling at her, "I have standards, you know. It was only a first date last night. What kind of guy do you think I am?"

He went back to the coffee. The smell permeated the room. It was one of the most relaxing things he thought to do these days, make a strong coffee. The smell itself was enough to be comforting. The percolator had finished and he poured them both a cup. He added a splash of whiskey to each cup, making sure that his splash was a little bigger.

Emma was looking at the transponder on the bench. Hansen was leaning forwards on the kitchen bench, propped on his elbows and sipping his coffee.

"You didn't have any problems sticking close to me last night," he said with a grin on his face.

She looked at him and stuck out her tongue. He looked at the transponder in her hands.

"Mrs. Chan will know what to do about that," he said.

"Mrs. Chan?" she said.

"I help her out every now and then. She runs a food shop in the city."

He could see Emma looking at him with a quizzical look on her face.

"Well," he said, shrugging his shoulders, "she runs more than just a food shop, but that's not important. She'll know about the transponder."

He stood up to relieve the pressure on his arms. He took another sip of the coffee. He could feel it permeating his body, warming him, getting him ready for the day ahead.

"The transponder unit can be disabled, I know that," he said. "But the shackles are another thing. We will need to log in to a master unit to disable those. That's trickier. Only SPF's have access to them. Sorting out the transponder is the main thing. We don't want to be losing it and blowing up, eh?"

She sat drinking her coffee. Hansen couldn't help looking at her sitting at the bench. Her little feet were perched on the bottom of the stool and she sat up straight, her body once again more defined since she was back in her clothes. Even though her dark hair was less than properly brushed, it gave her an untamed, feisty look, but warm. He wondered how warm she would be for the right person.

My beautiful scientist.

You're not the right person.

Nor is she.

She will lead you to your doom.

Shut up.


"Once we've sorted the transponder, then we just have to be careful ourselves. It's not the best that we have to stay close, as sometimes we'll be in danger, but we'll have to make of it what we can. Carl will know who to talk to about the shackles," he said. "We can't talk to him for a few days as he'll be hot. He'll be looking for a way to contact us and also waiting for us to contact him. But not now."

He walked around the bench towards the bed. He opened a drawer on the side table and took out a comms unit.

"First, I'll call Mrs. Chan," he said, "then we'll work out what to do next. Baby steps."

He walked back towards the kitchen bench.

"In the meantime, Irish," he said as he was about to walk around her, "don't go too far away."

As he passed her, he gave her a playful tap on her bottom at the edge of her stool and a kiss on the forehead before she could react.

He rolled his eyes and laughed at her. "Oh darling," he said in an exaggerated show of romance, "I need you so close, my head's about to explode."

It's all funny now, Hansen. All funny now.

Wait till it turns to tears.


****

Emma's skin tingled where he had kissed her and she fought the urge to touch it. He was a big flirt, that was all there was to it. Although he had started out being rather nasty before he'd figured out she wasn't a rich spoiled brat slumming it. He certainly was a strange man at times, she mused to herself and giggled at his over acting.

"I just bet you do. I guess I'm a better snuggle partner than Carl." She added lightly, grinning, "But I bet than man could put off some body heat in a pinch!"

"Carl and I go a long way, but would take a helluva lot for me to snuggle up to him." He shot back, sending her into another fit of giggles before they died down and finished off her coffee, letting the whiskey warm her insides.

Swiveling around on the bench, she watched him curiously. "Is there anything I can do? I won't wash dirty socks, but if I can help in any other way, I would be happy to lend a hand. I've never been very good at sitting still for long. Feels like such a waste of time."

Blowing out a breath, she moved, going to the sink to rinse out her cup. "I'll be right back...nature calls."

Stepping away, she slipped into the bathroom to relieve herself and while she was there, washed her hands and face, rinsing her mouth out as best she could without touching his toothbrush. Patting her face and hands dry, she returned, definitely feeling more alive and alert. He was already talking to Mrs. Chan or so she assumed, so she kept quiet and let her mind wander. Her parents had to be worried sick and she hoped that Simon hadn't gotten any heat for helping her out. He had a family to think of, but he turned a blind eye, letting her escape. For the greater good, he had told her, which made her eyes tear up, stinging.

She blinked furiously and inhaled a long breath. Would she make it through all this? Would any of them?

****


"Not much good then, are ya?" he called after her.

When she walked off to the bathroom, he got the comms unit and punched in Mrs. Chan's number.

"Hello?" said the voice on the other end of the line in a cautious tone.

He had his details barred so she wouldn't know it was him.

"Mrs. Chan. It's Liam."

"Ahh, Liam," she said in an Asian accent, "Good to hear from you."

"Yes, ma'am," he said.

"I saw the news last night," she said. She laughed. "Have you and Carl been playing again?"

He laughed with her.

"Mrs. Chan, why would you assume it was us?"

"Ahh, when I see things blowing up and police going to hospital and the morgue, I know you gentlemen are around somewhere."

"I'm offended," he said.

"And they're dead," she said, more seriously. "How can I help you?"

"Before we got away, they shot a friend and me with electronic shackles."

"I'm surprised," she said.

"That I got shot?"

"That you have a friend."

He laughed.

"Oh, Mrs. Chan, am I really that bad?"

"Worse," she said.

"I have the transponder. We er... took it from one of the SPF's. Can I get it disabled?"

"My son can do that," she said, "but you know we can't do anything about the shackles unless we can get to a master unit. You'll need a cop for that."

"I know, but at least disabling the transponder will mean one less thing to worry about. Is it ok if I come visit?"

"Yes," she said, "I will be in the shop today. Thank you for helping me clean up the other day. Maybe I have another chicken for you. Put meat on those skinny bones."

"Thank you," he said. "If I catch those guys that did that to your shop...."

He heard Mrs. Chan laugh.

"Liam. They were just kids. You don't need to blow them up to the moon. Don't worry about it."

"Hey," he said. "I wasn't going to blow them up to the moon." He paused. "I was just going to shoot them and dump them in the harbor."

Mrs. Chan giggled. "Oh well, then...."

"I'll be there in a few hours, ok?"

"That will be ok. In the meantime stay close to your friend."

"I will," he said.

"Unlucky friend," she said, laughing.

He hung up.

He looked around the room. He heard the toilet flush. Emma was still in the bathroom.

I have to choose a gun. Maybe the Glock again....

He needed to talk to Emma about she needed to do with the disk. He assumed they had to give it to someone.

He poured himself a small shot of whiskey into his dirty coffee cup and leaned on the kitchen bench.

And waited.

****

Pulling herself together, Emma returned, finding Liam relaxing and nursing his mug close. "Did you and Mrs. Chan have a nice talk?" She asked lightly, smiling as she moved closer, but not too close. Instead she chose to keep the counter between them, crossing her arms and leaning against the counter top.

He made a noncommittal little grunt and gave her the most serious of looks. "She makes me crave fried rice."

Caught off guard, Emma threw her head back and laughed. Not just a little giggle, but a true laugh that shook her shoulders and made her face light up. Dropping her head back down, she shook it, trying to control the little giggles that followed. "Ohmygod." She breathed, sniffing and wiping away a stray tear from the corner of her eye. "You are too much, you know that?"

Drawing in a breath, she tapped down the remaining giggles, clearing her throat. "Okay...so...back to business. I take it she will be able to help us with the transponder?"

He nodded at this and she sighed with relief. "But not the shackles?"

She shook his head no.

"I need a computer. Something that will let me access the files I need and work. We also need help. If I get the formula finished that is one thing, but we need someone to use that formula. Know what I mean?"

Digging her hands in her pockets, she stood straighter and shifted from one foot to the other. "When do we leave?"

****

Emma came out of the bathroom. She was smiling, but her eyes looked red.

Don't cry, Irish. I hate crying.

She made a point of staying on the other side of the bench. He missed her being close to him. They had built up an easy familiarity very quickly.

Maybe she's a quick learner. Everyone else who gets close to me suffers.

Dies.


He got her laughing with a joke, but then she was all business again.


"Sick of being around me already, Irish?" he said. "Wait till it's been more than one night. Then you'll know the meaning of interminable."

He just looked at her for a few seconds without saying a word. She was shifting from one foot to the other.

"Any more requests?" he said. It was a little difficult for him to sit there and take orders from someone he'd just met. Shit, it was difficult for him to take orders from anybody.

Admit it, Hansen. Especially a girl.

A girl, for God's sake. You don't need the hassle. Let her go. Bye bye. Ta ta. See you later. Sayonara. Arriverderci....

You done? Are you out of languages? She stays.

But....

She stays.


He kept staring at her for a few moments. Then he walked to the end of the kitchen bench. He opened a door underneath it and pulled out a small box, a big box and and even bigger box. He put them all on the counter and then he went around her silently to a small door in the wall just inside the entrance. He pressed his finger to a small pressure pad and the door flipped open. He pulled out a wicked looking knife with a sharp edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other and another box.

He went back to the bench and left those items on there. He walked to the bedside dresser and opened the drawer. It was the Glock from last night. He walked back looking at her and dropped that on the bench as well.

"Cat got your tongue, Irish?"

He didn't like orders. He knew he should cool it....

....but I don't like orders.

He he he. Told you.


"Shut the fuck up," he shouted.

She jumped.

"Not you," he said at her loudly, though not in a friendly way.

She just looked at the bench top. He opened the small box and took out three rectangular magazines. He picked up the Glock and ejected the magazine from it. Then he inserted the full magazine into it and set it on the table with the two spare magazines next to it. He opened the large box. He was focused on his work. His eyes were cold.

He put his hand into the large box and pulled out another gun.

"This is a Browning Hi-Power nine millimeter." He dropped the magazine out, held it up to her. "Thirteen shots. If you don't have enough firepower with this, then you were fucked before you started." He pushed the magazine back into the butt of the gun and slammed it on the bench loudly.

He opened one final box.

"Plastic bombs," he said. He held one up to her. They were similar to the one he'd used last night. He took three out of the box and laid them on the table. Then he meticulously put all the boxes back where he'd found them. He relocked the cabinet at the entrance.

He went to the cupboard next to the bed. He took out a holster and put it on over his shoulder. Then he grabbed a jacket from the same cupboard and put it on, zipping only the bottom third of it.

He walked back to the bench, still staring at her, his eyes cold, his movements economical and methodical.

He picked up the Browning and put it in the shoulder holster. With the jacket on, she couldn't even tell that he had a gun. He picked up the Glock and shoved it in the front of his pants. He picked up the knife and slid it into the back of his pants. He swept the bombs from the bench one at a time and put them into different pockets of his jacket.

He was a walking, talking, one man army. Looking at him, it was impossible to discern he was armed at all, let alone loaded with enough ammunition to take on a small country.

"You want to get some shoes on, Irish?" he said gruffly. "Then we'll fucking go."

She's making you angry.

You're making me angry.

He he he.


****

She'd been too busy thinking of what was needed to see his face change, his body stiffen...the way his jaw clenched and the laughter died from his eyes. When she did, it was too late. It was like staring at a different man.

Dumbfounded by his arsenal, she watched him move around his place, pulling all sorts of things out that she had no experience with. His sudden outburst made her flinch and her eyes widened. His didn't even meet her own. This was the second time he'd done that and her mind began to worry how stable her protector was. That familiar feeling of anxiety began to crawl up her spine, stiffening up her shoulders and making her weary. All those weapons were making her nervous, as well as his behavior.

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