Broken Bits(4)

By: Kel O Connor


Gritting his teeth against the knowledge that the sun would make his headache worse, he slowly opened his eyes.

What he hadn’t sensed was the woman hovering over him. She looked terrified, so she was not an immediate threat. His brain called forth a memory of a hidden café in Paris where he’d eaten the most delicious dessert of his life. It was soufflé au chocolat and it had been the same color as this woman’s eyes. Exquisite.

He blinked, trying to bring her into focus. That action caused one eye to throb and he recalled the last mighty blow that had knocked him out. Bloody bodyguard.

“Are you okay?”

The mystery woman’s voice quivered. Nerves, he surmised. She tilted her head, causing the bill of her cap to block the sunshine from his eyes. Without the bright glare, he could inspect her more thoroughly. Other than wisps of brown near her ears, her hair was completely covered by a worn, navy baseball cap. She wore no makeup, so Mick could easily see the faint freckles scattered across her face. Other than her lovely eyes, her face was cute, ordinary. He put her age near to his own. Judging by the faded t-shirt she wore, he wondered if she were a jogger who happened upon him.

Speaking of that…where the bloody hell was he? The sky above him was a bright, cloudless blue. No buildings in sight, just trees. His stomach sank. This was not Chicago.

“Wh…”

He started to ask the woman where he was as he raised a hand to his aching head. However, the first word trailed off as he saw that his hands were bound together with a thin nylon rope.

His gaze flew back to her, and something in his face made her scoot back and raise the trembling hand that held a canister of pepper spray. Mick relaxed a bit. She was not a viable threat. Nevertheless, he needed her to untie him so that he could get the hell back to DC.

He spoke, trying to keep his tone soft. “Where am I?”

“Smoky Mountains…wilderness area,” she answered, not lowering her arm.

“Where?”

“Uhm…North Carolina.”

His brows rose in shock, “How the bloody hell did I get here?”

His loud voice caused him to wince in pain, likely because of whatever head injury he’d sustained. Damn, but it hurt.

“Actually, you were dumped here,” she explained, “If you’ll just stay still, I can finish treating the gash above your eye. Just…be still.”

Mick lowered his hands, eyeing her sharply as she put down the pepper spray and moved closer to root through a first aid kit. North Carolina? That seemed impossible.

Making himself lie still, he winced again as she pressed an antiseptic cloth on a spot near his hairline. As soon as she was satisfied the area was clean, she went about applying bandages.

“It’s not a deep gash,” she said as she worked. “Head wounds just bleed a lot. You could use a couple of stitches, but maybe the butterfly bandage will cut down on the scarring.”

“Thank you,” Mick said.

“You sound British.” Her brown eyes flicked down to his face in suspicion. “Are you? What the hell is going on? What’s your name? Do you feel sick? Having double vision?”

He did not think he’d suffered a concussion, but her incessant questions were making his head spin. He remained silent as she placed a non-stick-pad over the wound and sealed it with tape. The woman returned the supplies to their zippered pouch and sat back on her heels, waiting for his answers. Mick wanted to smirk. He’d outlasted professional interrogators before. This woman was no match for him. He continued to look at her until she started to squirm and fidget with the pepper canister.

“Now may I have my hands free?”

He tried to keep the arrogance from his voice even though he was becoming frustrated. He needed to be free and get back to DC. He had little time to placate a civilian.

She swallowed nervously. “Look…we are in the middle of nowhere. You are a large strange man who was shoved out of a helicopter –”

“I was thrown from a helicopter?”

Mick shifted on the ground, amazed that he could feel no great pains. No broken bones. Amazing. Peck’s son dumped him out of a helicopter? Mick wanted to smile at the ingenuity of the idea. He looked around as best he could without raising his head. They appeared to be in a field. This was bad. They needed to get out of the open. But he didn’t want to alarm his frightened rescuer.