tagSci-Fi & FantasyFall of Man Ch. 02

Fall of Man Ch. 02

byTara_Neale©

A dozen questions raced like lightening through Jordan's mind. The pack lying discarded on the ground? So she wasn't pregnant after all? Of course, she wasn't. This was Emilee that would have been top news on one of those stupid paparazzi shows. In fact, he could not remember a single guy she had dated. Oh there was always pics of her at events with this one and that one but never anything serious. So if she was not pregnant, why the fuck was the chick puking her guts out?

Adrenaline, asshole. She just killed two men. One of the world's top super models had just stuck a knife into two gang bangers. At that moment, Jordan realized just how irreparably fucked the world had become. He remembered his first kill, sometimes too vividly. In late night dreams that seemed more real than reality. But these days what was real anyway? And while he had not puked his guts out then, he had known more than one man who had...good men. Let alone hot, sheltered super models and actresses.

Quit being a schmuck and go help the lady, he told himself. But even then it took him a moment to figure what help was in this situation. He wanted to offer sweet words of comfort, promise that everything would be all right, but given the world turned upside down that they found themselves in he knew that would be a lie...and his aunties had taught him better than to lie.

In the end he grabbed the cloth that he had given her earlier, rinsed the dirt and blood from and went to her side. She was dry heaving now so he knelt on the cold, hard ground next to her and brushed those thick, ringlets back from that creamy caramel skin.

Except it was not. Her face had drained of color, was almost translucent in fact. And there were dark circles under her eyes. But all he could think was...who would have thought that her hair was this soft. His fingers could easily get lost in it for days, a lifetime. He shook himself as he pressed the cloth to her face, slowly washing as much of the drying blood as he could from her face. This was Emilee, he reminded himself. Not for the likes of me.

***

Emilee began to come slowly back to reality. A reality that was worse than any of the fucking disaster movies that were her addictions. She forced herself to slow her breathing, used the yoga techniques that she had learned for relaxation to steady her racing heart. She forced a weak smile as she turned to face her rescuer.

Her words died on her lips as she got her first real look at the super hero that had evened the impossible odds against her when all hope was lost. He was not handsome exactly. His masculine beauty was much too rough for that term. With dark hair that curled about his average face, it was his eyes that held her, their intensity as he watched her every move. It was a look that frightened her, thrilled her and offered her comfort at the same time.

She extended her hand, "I'm Emily."

"I know who you are. Question is did those jerks?"

His cold words chilled her more than the wind which whipped her coat about her body and seemed to just seep into her bones. "No, no, they did not get a good look at my face. And I used the pack to make them think I was just some poor pregnant chica."

She shook off her arm then, "And for the record, you don't know jack shit about me either. No matter what you might have read or heard. So if you think I can offer you a big reward or someone will pay a huge ransom, think again. Even if the banks weren't all closed. I wasn't that big a star."

***

Jordan laughed. So she had spunk as Auntie May would call it. Sassy and feisty would have been Aunt Isabelle's choice. He liked spirit himself. And she had it in spades. "Where did you learn to fight like that? That shit was way past any self-defense for movie stars class they must have given you."

She jerked the cloth from his hand and finished the job wiping the blood from her face. He was glad to see that a bit of color was returning. "My daddy was a Marine." She paused a moment as she tossed the cloth back to him, "My step-father I guess and is a Marine. Like he says..."

"Once a Marine, always a Marine. Semper Fi," he finished for her. He had to admit that it explained a lot. No just her ability to hold her own in battle, but the quick wits to use her pack as camouflage and even the drive that would send a super star like her out into the mess rather than cowering in some penthouse waiting for the Calvary to save her.

"So what's your plan? Where you going?"

***

Emily studied the man for a long moment before answering. But in the end there was only one solution...they stood a better chance together than she did on her own. He had proved that once already. So she replied honestly.

"I'm headed home. My mom and dad have a farm...if you can call it that. In the middle of nowhere in Iowa. About two hundred miles west of here. I figure things will be at least a bit safer there than in the city. And of course, the basics like food, water and sanitation not such a struggle either," she paused and studied him one more time before she continued.

"It won't be easy getting there but Daddy taught me to hunt, fish and live off the land as well as how to defend myself. But if you..." she trailed off. For all she knew the man was on his way back to his own family. What if he ended up just slowing her down? Being more of a burden than an asset, although a Marine with his training and skills would probably be an asset even if he came with a wife and three squalling kids.

"I mean...it ain't a bad option all things considering. If you want to join me that is. Join forces as it was." Emily knew she was rambling, but she always did. It was one of the few remaining challenges of her condition and it only came out when she was stressed...like now.

***

Jordan wanted to laugh. Whether at the way this actress and super star turned into this insecure, sexy and cute woman-child or at fate, or maybe it was Aunt Isabelle acting as his guardian angel, if you believed in such things. But whatever it was, it seemed like the manna from heaven that the preacher used to talk about when those two tough old birds drug his fidgeting ass to church when he was little. A place to go was the one thing he had not figured out...and now the answer was dropped inn his lap.

But the sound of shouting and gunfire not too far down that alley meant he would have to delay the celebration and get back to the tough job of surviving long enough to get there. He peaked his head out the cement culvert just enough to get a bead on the enemy. They had just turned down the alley, only three of them this time. And while he and the little lady could probably take them, sometimes discretion really was the better part of valor.

"Are you absolutely sure that those guys did not see your face? Recognize you?" he asked his companion and he reached for her upper arm with one hand and her pack on the ground with the other. He had drug her half way down the pipe by the time she answered.

"No one can e absolutely sure of anything...especially now. But yeah I'm pretty damned confident. I think they wanted the coat. Thought that it was real fur or maybe they just realized how warm it would be. It was my one mistake in this plan. I should have thought about how much attention it would draw," she replied.

And damn...she had a brain too. This was getting better and better.

***

"Look where are you taking me? I might not know know this neighborhood or have a map, but my sense of direction tells me we are headed the wrong way." She tried to dig her heels in but there was no stopping this one. If she did not follow, he would probably just scoop her up in his arms and carry her again. Why did that sounds so damned good?

"Good girl," he replied and Emily cringed at his choice of words.

"I am no one's 'good girl', Mister..." her voice trailed off as she realized how much of her plan she had revealed to a perfect stranger...and even if he was perfect, the fucking Calvary and Super Man rolled all into one, she did not even know his name.

"Jordan. Staff Sargent Jordan Michaels, USMC retired," he supplied.

"Emily Rogers-Todd, not Emilee please. She was just a character I played sometimes," she said. He did not need to know that she had been playing characters all her life, that she probably always would, and that even know she fought to keep it all inside. She focused and the words to her song came to mind...keep it in, don't let it show, don't let them know. Would this man want to help her if he knew...knew what she was really like?

"Glad to know the introductions are over, Ems. Now can you shake that cute ass of yours ass a bit and get a move on. Double time it girl. Because we have three boogies on your tail," he replied.

"Yes, Sir," the words sprang from her lips before she could stop them. She dismissed them as nothing but the appropriate response to a higher ranking or in this case more experienced soldier. So why did they cause such a tight knot like a hundred butterflies dancing in her tummy. It was not a question that bore asking at the moment but another one did. "Where are we going?"

***

He chuckled, "Before you take me home to meet your folks, I figure it is only polite to return the favor. Such that it is." They had cleared the cover of the culvert now and it was still another two-hundred yards, two football fields to the relative safety of the small wood framed home where he had grown up. And the woman that was all he had left to call family.

He slipped out of his fatigue jacket and held it out towards her, "Take this...and hand me your coat. If that is what they wanted, I say we give it to them, with a special surprise."

He was pleased at how quickly she obeyed without question, Not only did he like obedient women, but it might just save their lives. "Tuck your hair into the coat, keep your head down and keep walk...slow but steady down this alley. About two hundred yards down on your left you will see a little pink house, don't ask. Just knock and tell Auntie May that Jordan sent you. You got that?"

She nodded and he was off to set the trap. At the culvert he turned right, away from their ultimate destination. He did not go far. He wanted them to see it. What had the woman been thinking? This thing screamed money, fake or not. For a smart girl, she sure could be stupid it seemed. If she did something this cray again he would turn her over his knee and spank that cute butt.

Woe boy, down, he thought. She is not yours to spank. And even if she was now is not the time for wet dreams and beating off. He placed the coat on the ground so that it looked as much like a person was still inside as he could possible make it. Then he reached into his pack for one of the few flares that he had taken for an emergency. He would have preferred a grenade or even a quarter size piece of C4, but sometime you had to make do with what you had. He lit the end of the damned then and then hid it and the butane lighter inside the coat. In all probability, the damned thing would just fizzle out before the bastards found it. But maybe the coat would send them down the wrong way and buy them some time. And if Auntie Isabelle really was looking out for him as a guardian angel then the damned thing would flare up and burn them when they lifted the coat, and if there was a god...then it would be enough to explode the damned lighter too and blow the bastards to hell.

And if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, he thought as he headed off straight ahead, laying a false trail that he hoped would buy them a night. Just one night. It was all they could afford. If he was going to keep Auntie May safe. Hell, he should not even be taking her there, but what choice did he have? What fucking choice did he have?

***

Emily stood outside the backdoor for the little pink house. I could see the porch through the thin screen. A swing, a table and dozens of pots with mostly dead or dying plants gave this place a homey feel to it. It reminded her of her mother's green house where she started the spring vegetables in pots even before Christmas. She wondered if she would find rosemary and thyme among those pots somewhere too.

She tapped lightly on the screen door and it rattled on its latch, but the thing held on the inside. She saw a curtain pulled back for a moment. Once upon a time, she bet that the porch light would have come on to help identify friend or foe. But without power that was no longer possible. Emily was not sure if the mysterious Auntie May would open the door to a stranger and she remembered what Jordan had said. She was about to raise her hand to knock again when the wooden door opened just a crack.

"Yes, who are you? Do I know you?" came a frail and almost rusty voice from the other side of the door.

"I'm Emily and no, you don't know me, Auntie May. But Jordan said to tell you that he sent me," she crossed her fingers and almost prayed.

"Jordan? Jordan sent you? Where is he? Where is my boy?" the woman that opened the door was even more frail than her voice sounded. She had a walker and each step seemed to make her wrinkled face grimace in pain. But she forced her feet one in front of the other. Made them carry her to the door and when she got there, she raised knurled, arthritic hands to push up the latch. "Come in, child. It is freeing out there and where is Jordan?"

Emily looked over her shoulder. She did not have an answer for the old woman and she wished for her sake as much as Auntie May's that she knew. Why did it matter so damned much...she had just met the man?

***

Jordan looked over his shoulder one more time. No sign of them. He was just about to double back, being more careful this time to hide footprints...ones he did not want them to see. When he heard the explosion, "Well, I'll be damned. Chalk one up to you, Auntie Isabelle and thanks. If you don't mind sticking around a bit longer, like until we get to Iowa, I'd appreciate it," he chuckled.

But he was not foolish enough to return the way he had come or to leave a trail for their friends to follow. He knew that he had simply bought them a few more hours. A chance, a small one, to regroup and plan before heading out again at first light.

But right now, daylight was fading fast. Damned winter this far north, when days are short and nights are long...and that only worked if you had a good woman by your side. He thought about a cascade of light brown ringlets that fell about a beautiful face. Hair that was softer than silk and skin that was softer still. But if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride...he reminded himself as he headed back towards the only home he had ever know...and the one person that he would regret leaving behind.

***

"I am not going," said the petite blond, her hands folded across her chest emphasized her tits and the chain that disappeared between them.

"Oh yes, you are woman. If I have to hog tie you and carry you the whole damned way over my shoulder. We are getting out of here. It is not safe." The great bear of a man with more silver than brown in his salt-n-pepper short hair towered over her. But still she stood her ground. He reached out and lifted the chain, dog tags that nestled hidden between her tits appeared in his fingers. He caressed them lovingly, "These say I am charged with your safety and protection. And that comes first in my book."

She jerked the metal pieces from his fingers, "We agreed...only one thing ever came before that...my daughter. And I am not leaving here without Emily. I don't care what you say, I know in here that she will find a way. She will make it home...and I'm going to be here when she does." The woman half cried and half shouted as she thumped her fist on her chest.

The man gathered her in his arms. His big hands held her head against his chest as she cried as all of it, all of the fear and anxiety came flooding out. "Damn it, woman. Our daughter, we agreed to that too you know. And I trained that girl. If you are feeling with your mother's heart then I am thinking with a father's head. And when our girl gets here if we aren't here, the cabin is just where she will head."

He lifted her face to his. The woman that he had loved for over a decade. The one that thought she came with more baggage than any man could handle. He had shown her then that his shoulders were broad enough and he would now too. Just as he had then...the giant oak bent towards the light of its sun. "One week, we can give Emily one more week, Sara. If she is not home by then we go to the cabin. But trust me, sweetheart. There or here, our little girl knows her way home. And she has the skills to take care of herself."

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