Fiance by Friday(111)

By: Catherine Bybee


A loud thump brought him to a stand and soon after he heard a door slam.

Halfway down the stairs, he heard Chuck’s voice. “Yes. I’m expecting a guest.”

Neil waited, dropped down three more stairs. “Mr. Harrison. Right. In twenty minutes. No. He won’t be here long.”

Neil froze. Blake was on his way?

Neil retreated down the back stairwell to regroup. Blake needed to stay away. The last thing Neil needed was a civilian fucking things up. Not when Neil had no idea where Gwen was.

Neil removed his M9 and positioned it in front of his chest before he inched his way into the room with Chuck.

Chuck stood in front of his desk in his office. A cigarette smoked in a nearby ashtray. Neil didn’t remember the major smoking before.

Could this man…the one who’d been there early in his military career, be responsible for so much pain? For Mickey’s death? For Billy’s?

With his back to him, Chuck stared out the window. “You going to use that weapon, soldier?”

Neil kept his gun steady. His jaw stiffened, his mind remembered better times.

He shook his head.

“Where’s Gwen?”

Chuck picked up his cigarette, sucked it down, blew it through his teeth. “Not sure why I quit. There’s nothing quite like balancing life and death through such a simple device.” He stared at the tip of his cigarette and sucked in another lungful of nicotine.

Neil’s trigger twitched. “Where is she?”

Chuck glanced to the floor over his shoulder. “Drop the gun, Mac.”

“Where’s my wife?”

Chuck laughed. The sound grated on Neil’s raw nerves.

The major turned, removed the cigarette from his lips, and blew the smoke over his head as if he had nothing to care for in the world.

It pissed Neil off.

“Where is she?”

“Drop the weapon.”

Neil glared. “Why should I?’

“You want to see her again? Drop the gun.” The arrogant bastard sucked on his cigarette again. He knew damn well Neil wouldn’t squeeze the trigger without knowing where Gwen was. His enemy knew his weakness and was using it against him.

Neil purposely took two strides closer before uncocking his weapon and tossing it to the floor well out of Chuck’s reach.

Chuck witnessed the weapon skitter across the floor with a smile.

“And the others?”

Neil swallowed. No use pretending not to know what the man in front of him taught him. Neil lifted his right leg, removed the smaller revolver, and tossed it to the floor.

Chuck witnessed the disarming as if bored. He made a small rolling motion with his fingers and Neil removed a third gun from the small of his back. Other than his cell phone and a knife, he didn’t have anything left.

Major Blayney moved slowly to his desk.

Neil was too far away to rush the man, so he waited until his next move.

From behind the major’s back the man produced a service weapon.

No surprise.

Instinctively, Neil moved to the side. No need to give the man a broad target.

“Step back, Mac.”

Two steps later Neil held his ground. “Where is she?”

Chuck’s eyes lingered beyond Neil for a moment, in the direction of the kitchen.

He waved his gun. “In the back.”

“I’ve been in the kitchen. She’s not there.”

Chuck smiled. “You didn’t look very hard, soldier.” Chuck waved the gun again.

Neil followed the barrel of the gun and took several steps back. The island in the kitchen met his back and Chuck moved around him to the pantry and opened the door. He nodded inside.

“Go.”

Neil thought of the small space and considered himself trapped if he moved inside.

“Fuck you.”

“Gwen’s in there.”

Neil hesitated. He didn’t hear her…didn’t see her. “You’re full of shit.”

“Gwen’s inside, Mac. Why would I lie to you now?”

Neil cringed. His mind brought to the surface nightmares of Gwen’s torn body. Could Chuck have killed her and left her lifeless in the pantry? There was only one way to find out. And if she were gone…what was left for him? Could he survive her death? Was life worth living without her light?

He moved into the pantry and noticed a door.

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