Hero Ch. 02byLSanders©
Jason screeched into the driveway and sprinted into the house so fast he didn't even close his car door. Something in Dan's voice had frozen his blood. When he entered the kitchen, he stared in horror at the following message written in red lipstick on the shiny refrigerator door:
"Come to Jefferson Park tonight at 9:00 –
ALONE! If you chicken out, the bitch
gonna be our plaything. Bring anyone with
you, and she gonna die."
Jason's hands ran through his hair as he stared in disbelief. "Do we call the police?"
"No!" Dan barked. "We can't risk it. I'll go alone. They obviously want me, not Lisa. She's just the bait."
"They'll kill you!"
Dan shrugged. "Maybe ... maybe not. But, I've got to try and get her out of there myself."
"You need to let the cops handle this."
"Look, I admire cops as much as anybody. God knows I wouldn't want their job, but that's the problem, Jas. Saving Lisa is a job for them. That's not good enough. I can't put her life in the hands of people that are required to follow rules. I'll do whatever it takes ... WHATEVER it takes to make her safe."
"I'm going with you."
Dan looked at him like he was crazy and shoved him aside as he walked to the front door.
"Hey!" Jason yelled. "I'm fucking going!"
Dan wheeled around. "To do what? Get yourself killed too?"
"She's my sister!"
Dan walked toward him menacingly. "Shut up and sit here by the phone until I call!" Jason grabbed Dan's shoulder, and, like lightening, Dan grabbed his hand and twisted Jason's arm behind his back. Jason cried out in pain. "I'm a fifth degree black belt in Aikido with special training in weapons and weapons disarmament." He released Jason. "I'm her best hope."
Jason stared at him while he breathed hard and rubbed his sore shoulder. "But, they'll have guns."
"I'm aware of that."
"Rock smashes scissors. Bullets stop hearts."
"Maybe, but I don't think they're really expecting me to show up, and I know they're not ready for what I can do."
"If you die in front of her, I'll lose her," Jason pleaded. Dan's eyes shot toward Jason's. "She'll never come back from that."
Very calmly, Dan said, "It's settled then; I won't die." With that, he turned and sprinted for his car. At his house, he changed into sweats, soft canvas shoes, a loose t-shirt, and a leather jacket. He tucked a tantō or knife behind his back and grabbed a jō or long wooden staff and jumped back into his car.
"911. What's your emergency?" the operator asked.
"Operator, I need to reach Detective Ramon Castillo right away. It's an emergency!" Jason exclaimed.
"Detective Castillo is not on duty, sir. I can patch you ..."
"No! No, operator. He knows the situation. He told me to call any time. I just can't find his card. Please, operator! This is life and death!"
It took five minutes and seemed like five hours for Detective Castillo to come on the line. "This is Detective Castillo. Why are you interrupting my dinner?"
Jason was so relieved. "Detective! Thank, God!" Jason filled the policeman in on all that had and was happening.
"Jesús, María y José! I told him to call us FIRST! He's gonna get his ass shot! Shit! YOU – stay put! I'll try to stop this before it goes too far."
It was 8:55 when Dan pulled into Jefferson Park. It looked completely deserted, but he knew there were probably twenty sets of eyes focused on him. He grabbed his jō and headed into the open field beside the swings. At precisely 9:00, fifteen members of the Norteños gang emerged from the shadows with the biggest one holding a terrified Lisa with his hand clamped tightly over her mouth. Dan focused like a laser on her eyes to try and determine whether she had been hurt. He sensed she was okay except for being frightened.
"She's a nice piece, Holmes. Sweeeeeeet, like Carlos V (a Mexican chocolate candy). Why'd you have to go hardcore on us, man. You killed my brother ... got my cousins locked up. All they was doing was having a little party. Why'd you do that, man?"
While he talked, the gang encircled Dan. He quickly surveyed them and returned his gaze to the seeming leader. "Your brother? He was a chicken shit little bitch, who got off on attacking defenseless women. Is that how Norteños roll these days?"
"Is this your game, Kimo? You show up ... insult my family ... insult my bother ... try to make us think you're a tough guy. What're we supposed to do we do now ... run and hide?"
The two had started to slowly circle around each other inside the ring formed by the gang. "No ... No more hiding. This is about corazón ... It's about cojones."
"I'm glad to hear you say that," the gang leader said menacingly. "After your lady watch me cut your heart out," he said as he pulled out a knife, "I'll let her have your cojones to remember you by. She can make them into ear rings."
Dan began twirling the staff in his hands. Two more of the gang pulled out knives and joined the leader in swarming around Dan. One of the trio lunged at Dan from behind. Lisa struggled to scream a warning at him, but her captor tightened his considerable grip on her. Dan twirled the staff like a sword, held it above his head, and whipped it behind him to strike the assailant precisely across the bridge of the nose, stunning him and causing him to drop his knife and stagger back with blood pouring down his face. The leader quickly motioned with his eyes for two more to jump in. Dan kept the staff moving in a ballet of precision movements. He quickly ripped one guy's legs from under him, causing the thug to fall and crack his head on broken asphalt. Another was hit so hard along his knuckles that his bones broke apart, rendering him useless.
Gang members now started attacking Dan from multiple angles. He used his jō expertly. He knocked out teeth, broke knees, cracked throats, splintered bones, and put twelve men on the ground in a matter of minutes.
"Not bad, Holmes. Now, play time's over." The big guy put a knife to Lisa's throat. Dan saw him and dropped his staff. The other banger pulled out a gun and cocked it. Dan quickly dropped to one knee, and used his lightening reflexes to fling his knife into the guy's throat. "So, I guess it all comes down to you and me." Dan could tell from the way this guy moved that he was extremely dangerous with a knife.
As they started to move around each other again, a car came screaming into the park, burst through the wire fence and roared up to them. Carlos jumped out of the passenger's door.
"It's over, Miguel! It's over!" Carlos yelled angrily, striding quickly to him. "I gave my word. You're endangering all of us with your vendetta."
"Stay out of this, Carlos! Juan is dead because of this cerdo (pig)! He gotta pay."
Carlos stepped between the men and slapped the knife violently out of Miguel's hand, screaming, "Enough!" He shoved Miguel hard in the chest, making him stagger back. "Go home! Go to your family! This is done! If you disobey me again, Miguel, I'll make sure you get reunited with your brother. Do you understand?" Miguel's eyes still spit venom at Dan. Carlos grabbed Miguel's collar and got right in his face. "Understand?!"
"Yeah ... I understand." Miguel's eyes rolled to Sancho, who was still holding Lisa. Sancho gave a slight nod and started bringing the knife back to Lisa's throat to slice it. Before the big man got very far, a deafening gunshot exploded into the still night. Castillo had blown a large hole through the side of Sancho's head. The lifeless hulk sank like a stone in water. Dan and Lisa sprinted into each other's arms. Miguel turned as if he was leaving. Instead, he lunged for a knife on the ground with the intention of throwing it into Dan's back. As Miguel raised his arm, Carlos plunged his own knife into the center of Miguel's throat and twisted it. He stared with fury into Miguel's eyes until the life ran out of them. Then, he let go of the knife and let Miguel's lifeless body collapse onto the dirt. He spit on it before walking away.
"We done here?" Carlos asked Castillo as he walked toward him.
"Yeah. We're done."
Dan picked Lisa up in his arms and squeezed her with all his strength. He carried her to the back seat of Castillo's car and let her cry some of the adrenalin out of her shaking body. He wrapped his leather jacket around her as he held her. "Are you all right? Did they touch you?" She nodded that she was okay.
Once all the sirens had disappeared into the night and all the questions had been answered, Castillo drove the couple to Dan's car. He turned to face Dan in the back seat. "Think you're ever going to listen to me?"
Dan smiled sheepishly. "I'm really not trying to be a superhero. It's just that ..." He pointed to Lisa with his eyes
Castillo smiled. "She is a treasure. I'll give you that. You take care of her, hear?"
"That's one promise I CAN keep."
"You know, I can take you home and have an officer deliver your car tomorrow."
"Right. Thanks, Ramon."
"Buckle up, kids."
They sat in silence for while. Finally, Lisa asked, "Are you going to stay with me this time?"
Dan sighed. He lifted her face so he could look into her eyes. "I am so sorry, Lisa. I ... I panicked. I was so confused."
"About how I feel about you. About ..." He gulped in a breath before saying, "About how much I love you." Her dark eyes reached inside him on that chill California night and looked deep within his heart.
"Don't you know I'm in love with you too?" she asked.
He closed his eyes as their lips melted into each other. The tenderness of their embrace belied the scorching heat that began seeping up from the depths of their souls. They blocked out the sounds. They blocked out the lights. They blocked out everything on that chill night except each other.
Castillo eventually cleared his throat – LOUDLY. "Kids, I kept thinking you were going to have to come up for air at some point, but then I remembered how much ... enthusiasm ... I had at your age. If you don't mind, I'd really like to get into my bed before the sun comes up." Dan and Lisa fell over onto the seat laughing.
Dan carried her into the house, where Jason tackled both of them. They all three fell onto the carpet in a giant heap and just lay there silently for awhile in each other's arms. Soon, Lisa fell asleep on Dan's chest. Dan crashed with both arms locked tightly around her. Jason gently slid a pillow under Dan's head and covered them both with blankets. He then closed all the blinds, and they slept until the early afternoon.
When Lisa awoke, her stirring also woke up Dan. She looked up at him and said, "That's the first peaceful sleep I've had since you left."
"Lisa, I didn't even know it was possible for humans to be as miserable as I was after I walked out the door. I hope you know that I can't ever let you go again."
She smiled and relaxed on top of him. No one moved or said anything for a few minutes until they decided they'd be a lot more comfortable on the sofa. Dan tenderly rubbed her soft hair while she lay against him.
"So, you really meant what you said last night?" she asked.
"What? About being in love with you?" he responded.
"Lisa, loving you is so easy; I'm not even sure when it happened. It seems like I've always been in love with you."
"Then, why didn't you tell me?"
"I worried you didn't feel the same," he answered shyly. "Then, I worried you might feel some sort of warped obligation because of the whole rescue thing. I love you so much that I was afraid that if you didn't love me for just me that I'd fall apart. There was also ..."
"I feel kinda stupid."
"You can say anything to me. I need to know what you're feeling and thinking."
Dan pondered how to say it. "I think you're beautiful, Lisa."
"Yeah ... that's a really hard thing for a girl to hear," she teased.
"No, I mean it ... you are REALLY beautiful! And, you, uhm, get me ..."
"Excited ... like at the pool?"
"Yeah," he answered timidly.
"I don't know how much more of this I can take."
"You're making jokes, but this is really difficult for me."
She sat up and glared at him. "Why? Because I was raped?"
He sat up as well. "Yeah, I mean, that story ..."
She got up and stormed out of the living room toward her bedroom.
Dan was confused but jumped up to follow her. He reached for her hand in the hallway. "Lisa, I'm sorry. What did I ..."
She spun around and looked angrily at him. "How can you even think something like that? What those cowards did was an act of violence and Sadism. Oooo!" she squealed as she continued on to her room. She slammed her door so hard it bounced back open. He followed her inside. "How am I ever supposed to heal if the man I love more than anything can't get past it himself?" she screamed as she paced up and down with her hands clinched.
Dan sat on the edge of her bed trying to figure out what to do and say. Then, a thought hit him. "Jason said something about re-victimizing you. Is that what this is about?"
"Yes!! You big ... jerk!"
He rose off the bed and grabbed her in a bear hug. She fought for a brief moment but quickly hugged him in return.
"I need to know I'm still a normal woman ... that I'm still desirable. I need to know that the man I love wants me sexually ... that I'm not damaged goods," she said with her cheek against his chest.
Dan suddenly started laughing.
"I don't see what's so funny about that."
"No, it's not what you said. It's something Jason said to me one time. He said it's a miracle any guy ever gets laid because we're all such jackasses."
"You won't get any argument from me. Believe me, if women had any choices beyond something made from polymers, men would quickly become extinct!"
She looked up at him and added, "I'm just as scared and confused as you, for pretty much the same reasons. You're worried I won't love you, just the hero. I'm worried you won't love me, just the damsel stranded in the tower. What I want is work this out together. Can you handle that?"
"Yeah. If I can force myself to stop being an asshole, I can."
"You can still be an asshole. Just be MY asshole," she said as she hugged him. She took his hand and pulled him over to the bed to sit next to her. "I've been thinking about a lot of stuff. One of the thoughts rolling through my head is that as horrible and terrifying as the attack was, maybe there was a silver lining." His eyes widened in disbelief. "In a few short minutes, I learned more about your character than most people who spend a lifetime together."
She got choked up as she continued. "I meant what I said in that group meeting. For as long as I live, I'll never forget how your kindness and gentle strength made me feel safe ... right when I needed it the most. I was certainly grateful for your bravery, but it was your gallantry that made a much bigger impression. You were the one who made sure I was clothed and covered that horrible night, not the nurses who get paid to do that stuff. That's all you ... that's what comes from here," she said as she patted his heart. "I don't ever have to wonder what you'll say to our daughter who comes home in tears because her first boyfriend just dumped her. I don't have to worry about how you'll react to our son getting cut from the team or blowing a mid-term. I know you'll be perfect. That's the stuff that made me fall in love with you ... not the red cape."
Dan hugged her for a minute while he waited for his throat to loosen. Finally, he was able to push her back so he could look into her eyes. He brushed her hair and said, "And what made me fall in love with you is your intelligence and your inner strength. I was so humbled watching you fight this monster of a situation on your own. I know I give you support, and I am SOOOO happy I do. But, you still have to do the work. You have to confront everything yourself, and I know you would do that whether I was here or not. If none of the bad stuff had ever happened and I'd met you at a party or in a bar, I would have driven you crazy pursuing you. You'd have requested police protection from me."
"Never," she said smiling and rubbing his hair. "Last night was the most terrified I've ever been ... much more than the rape. When I saw them amassing an army to kill you ..." She laid her head against his chest and cried. "I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost you."
He tightened his grip on her and said, "Maybe coming alone wasn't the smartest decision, but, honestly, I didn't trust anyone else with your life, including the police. I just couldn't."
"I know. And, that's exactly what I was afraid you'd do."
"Well, it's history. All I want to think about now is the future with you. For once, I'd like to think about nothing except how much I love you and how beautiful you are."
She pushed him back so she could look at him. "You really mean that don't you ... the beautiful part?"
"God, yes! You hair ... your face ... your body. I could spend my whole life getting lost in those amazing eyes of yours. You have no idea how many times I had to do something to distract you from the third leg I was growing when I looked at you, especially in a bikini."
She smiled and blushed slightly at his exuberance. "Well, you don't know how many loads of laundry I've had to do because of staring at that body of yours. I even got a little preview of your package one time."
"You did? When?"
"Remember watching that movie we rented with Kate Beckinsale and John Cusak?"
"We were lying together on the sofa, and we both fell asleep. You woke me up with your snoring, and when I opened my eyes, I just happened to be staring at the giant anaconda that had snuck into your pants. Once I made sure you were dead to the world, and I put my hand over it and rubbed it. You were so big and so hard, I got goose bumps."
"Wait a minute ... wait a minute! You just made me feel like a turd for being too chicken to tell you how much I love you, and the whole time you were feeling me up – in secret – without saying a word?"
"Not the whole time," she said, suppressing a giggle.
"You're gonna pay for that!"
She started laughing. "Oh, yeah, tough guy? How are you gonna make me pay?"
"Like this." He began tickling her unmercifully.
"Stop! Stop! I give! Uncle!" she said as she squealed with laughter. He rolled onto his back with Lisa in his arms. "Maybe we've both been dopes," she said.
"Yeah, maybe we have," he said softly. He rolled her onto her back and smiled down at her. Then, he lowered his head and kissed her slowly and sweetly, letting the temperature rise at its own pace. She ran her fingers through his hair and played with his tongue. The remained like that for a long time. At one point, she reached down and squeezed his cast iron prick, and they continued kissing while they both laughed. Jason crept past their room and saw them making out. He thrust his arms into the air and screamed a silent, "Yes!"
When they finally broke apart, Dan said, "I may not have to say this, but I want to say it. You're my whole life now, Lisa. I'm not going anywhere. We can take as long as we need to get to the point where we can express our love in the most intimate way. The most important thing for me is that you heal ... and I heal too for that matter ... so that when we're both ready, we never have any fear or regrets."
Water leaked from her eyes as she looked up at him. He gently wiped it away with his thumbs and kissed her eyelids. "If you don't stop saying perfect things like that, I'm going to dehydrate from all the lost tears." He laughed.
She sat up and wiped her cheeks. Then she kissed him and walked over to lock the bedroom door. "I want to try something. I'd guess you'd call it second base?" Dan sat up on high alert. "But, I need to ask if it's okay."