And mountains and lakes, two of my favorite things!!
Lily sat in the ‘holding cell’ and silently fumed. He’d really put her in jail! “What a brute!” She yelled out loud as she jumped up from the barrel she’d been sitting on and paced back and forth like she’d already done at least fifty times before.“He can’t keep me in here!” She screeched.
There were some sandbags lying in the corner and she walked over and gave one a vicious kick. “I wish…” She cut the thought off. She wouldn’t bring herself down to his level!
“Sugar, are you in there?” Nanny asked from the back wall of the tent.
She rushed over and touched the warmth of Nanny’s shoulder through the thick canvas. “Oh Nanny, am I getting out?” The hope in her voice just about broke the old woman’s heart.
“He won’t release you yet. He says you need to learn respect and…”
“You tell that moronic beast that he is the one who needs to learn respect! He can…”
Wyatt walked into the tent at that very moment and grinned at her maddeningly. “Do go on…” Nanny hurried back to her tent before he discovered she was there.
“Erg! You let me out of here right now! I’m not some common criminal that you can just…”
He cut her off again. “Are you ready to apologize then?”
“Not on your life! You owe me an apology for locking me in this smelly old tent in the middle of the desert!”
“I can see that you haven’t learned your lesson yet. I’ll be back in the morning to see if you’ve changed your mind.”
“You can’t leave me in here all night!” She rushed to his side and looked up into his cold, blue eyes. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
“You defied me when I told you that you couldn’t speak to the media.”
“I’m not one of your men, Sergeant Major! I have every right to speak to the media if that’s what I want to do. I need to find out what’s going on in the rest of the country!” Her tone was desperate and his eyes softened slightly.
“You’re not using your common sense. If one of the terrorists sees footage of you still alive they’ll come after you!”
“I wasn’t going to let them get video of me!”
“Don’t be so naïve as to think they wouldn’t do it, anyway. You’re a beautiful woman and you just survived a bomb that wiped out the whole town!” He bellowed. His anger was up again and she’d lost the battle.
He flopped down on his cot and removed his boots. He knew it was crazy but he needed a run. That would clear his mind, and his heart. He needed to be focused on his mission, not some skirt he barely knew!
A few minutes later he emerged from his tent wearing sweats, a t-shirt and running shoes. The only change to his normal running outfit was the gun at his side and the one strapped to his ankle. He wasn’t taking any chances. He stopped by Nanny’s tent and told Percy to escort her to the holding cell. The least he could do was let the older woman keep her company. He’d send some more comfortable beds over, too. He wouldn’t let her go tonight. His reputation was at stake and he couldn’t afford to look like a push-over in front of his men. He pulled his walkie-talkie out and radioed his second in command and told him the plan. He would be back in thirty minutes…
He really did want to run but it would also give him the chance to check out the terrain surrounding them. If someone was camping out there he had a better chance of seeing them at night. Percy ran up and handed him a small pair of field binoculars and dropped the string over his head as he jogged out of camp.
A pebble skidded and dropped from above him. “Careful you fool!” He whispered.
His second in charge scampered down and jumped the last few feet from the huge boulder. “Sorry about that Wayne.”
“Stop using my name! Do you want to get caught?”
“Technically, if they heard your name, it would only be you who…”
“Just shut-up. We need to get down here and get some supplies before he comes back.”
The five men descended on the camp and were promptly captured.
“Did you really think no one would detect your presence?” Percy asked as he helped escort them to the holding cell. He would have to take Lily to his father’s tent until he had further instructions on what to do with her.
“See what you caused, Wayne? They probably would’ve given us water if we’d just asked, and now we’re going to ‘military jail’ all because we were thirsty!” The skinny man was practically wailing.
Lily heard the complaint as Percy filed them into the tent one at a time. “Are you going to give them a drink?”
“I can’t do anything until the Sergeant Major returns.” The private replied as he tipped his canteen up and took a long swallow. The little guy whined as he watched.
Lily snatched the canteen from his lips and he yelped in surprise as water dumped out on his white t-shirt. “It doesn’t take anything more than common decency to see these men need water.” She walked over and handed it to the skinny guy and watched while he downed the whole thing.
“Hey, where’s our water?” One of the other men complained from behind the statue-like figure of his guard.
“Percy, will you get the rest of them some water?”
“Maybe you better leave the humanitarian aid to the soldiers, sugar.” Nanny advised worriedly. She knew the Sergeant would be angry that Lily had given the prisoners water. The girl was just plain stubborn! But she loved her, anyway.
“I’m sure the Sergeant won’t mind that we gave some thirsty men a drink.” She insisted.
“Ma’am, they were planning on robbing the camp.” Percy said.
“Surely they weren’t?!”
“If they were on the up-and-up why didn’t they just announce themselves instead of sneaking?”
“You have a good point but we still have to give them water.”
Percy sighed deeply and gestured for the guard to get some water. “Da…I mean, Sergeant Major Adams isn’t going to be happy about this. I’m going to move you to his tent until he returns…”
“I’m not going to his tent!”
“Nanny will be with you. You have to understand that I have responsibilities, Ms. Tompkins. My father will be angry at me and I’ll never break through his hard exterior.” He whispered.
“Okay, I’ll go to his tent for you.”
“Thank you, ma’am, you don’t know how much it means to me.”
“I think I do.” She reached-out and touched his shoulder lightly. “He’ll come around.”
“I hope so, ma’am. I enlisted just so I could meet him.”
Lily gasped in horror. “I’m so sorry you had to do that!” One slender hand covered her perfectly-shaped lips.
“It’s okay, ma’am. I love serving my country.”
“We need about fifty-million more like you.” Nanny put in.
The other soldier returned and brought two more with him so Percy led the women out and to his father’s tent. “Don’t leave or I’ll be forced to send someone to guard you, and stay away from the media! I happen to agree with my father on this one!” He snapped his heels and disappeared down the darkened path.
“Do you really think the media would compromise my safety?” She asked doubtfully.
“I sure do sugar. They aren’t anything but a bunch of vultures circling around, trying to find their next meal. If you approach them, that meal may be you.”
“Then I won’t go anywhere near them. Do you think I should apologize to him?”
Nanny didn’t pretend ignorance but said, “I do, sugar. He’s in charge of this camp and if you don’t he’s just going to keep you confined. We need to be more worried about what’s going on in our country than starting our own personal war over something silly.”
Lily thought about it for a second, reluctant to let her anger go. She finally shrugged her shoulders. “You’re right, as usual. What would I do without you to keep me grounded?” She hugged her friend tightly. “I’m so glad you weren’t killed!” Tears welled-up in her huge gray eyes but she blinked them away.
“So am I, sugar. I’m glad you weren’t killed, either. I don’t know how I’d get through my days without you by my side. Since I met you…” The big, black woman finally broke down and sobbed-out her sorrow while Lily rubbed her back comfortingly, which was all she could do.
“We’ll get through this; we just have to stick together. Hey, do you know where the Sergeant Major went? It is kind of odd that he’d leave camp.”
“I don’t know but I’m sure he had a good reason.” Nanny pulled a clean handkerchief out of her bra strap.
When she noticed where it had come from Lily burst out laughing. “Only you would do something like that, Nanny.” She squeezed her friend once more before plopping down on the only cot in the tent.
“I’m really tired, sugar. Is it okay if I take the bed for a bit?”
“Of course it’s okay. The Sergeant will be back soon and he’ll probably let us go back to our tent.”
Nanny lay down, groaning the whole way. “I certainly hope so, child. I’m bushed.”
Lily spent the next twenty minutes or so thinking about the tragedies of the day while Nanny snores softly. Her brow furrowed for a moment as she turned to stare down at her. She was exhausted and Lily felt bad because she hadn’t eased her burden, but added to it. She decided she would apologize to Wyatt as soon as he came back. She refused to dwell on the fact that she already thought of him by first name, at least privately.
He continued to stare into the darkness until it felt like it was swallowing him. There wasn’t any more movement and he sighed in disappointment. He wanted to get these terrorists under lock and key before they blew something else up, or came after Lily.
At the thought of her name an image instantly popped into his mind. She was all beautiful white-blonde hair and huge gray eyes… She wasn’t short and cute like some women, but tall, willowy and full of spit and vinegar. He resigned himself to the fact that he was hooked.
He didn’t understand how she’d come along and jumped into his mind like a brain-eating amoeba, but she had. He grinned at the less-than-complimentary picture his silent words evoked. She would be spitting words full of acid at him if she knew what he was comparing her to.
Wyatt sighed again and began the long jog back to camp. He missed her. The thought slammed into his chest so hard it felt like he’d been shot! How was that possible? He continued to jog, the pain in his chest intensifying rather than subsiding. He touched the ache with his right hand and was surprised when he pulled it back wet. He stopped running and tried to examine his shirt but it was too dark. He was going to have to turn on his flashlight. He pulled it out of his pocket and turned it on after quickly scanning his immediate surroundings. What he saw caused him to gasp in horror. “I’ve been shot!”
So many thoughts slammed into his mind at that moment he didn’t know which one to pursue. “Who had shot him? Was it the movement he’d seen just a few short minutes ago? Of course! He’d felt the slam of the bullet but mistaken it as fear from his private admission! This was not good. He’d let that woman enter into his mind and take over like some body-snatching alien from the movies!
With a groan of pain Wyatt began to run again, only this time, it was for his life. He didn’t know where the assailants were but apparently it was close enough to pick him off like tomorrow’s lunch. He turned off the light and pulled out his walkie-talkie. He needed to get someone's attention! He felt immense relief when Percy answered his distress call.
“Is something wrong, Sergeant Major?” There wasn’t any worry in his voice, he didn’t know.
“I’ve been shot, son.” Wyatt said.
Percy’s mouth dropped open and he gasped loudly. “Where are you? Is it bad? Dad, talk to me!”
“Calm down son, I’m about two miles due north of your position. A sniper got me! Send back-up and someone with a stretcher!” His voice was now weak from loss of blood.
Wyatt knew he had to find a place to hide until help arrived. Lily’s beautiful face drifted in and out of his consciousness…no, that wasn’t right…he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He laughed at his own irrationality. He was getting delirious!
Lily floated above him, watching his pain.
“Why are you watching me?”
“I’m enjoying your position of weakness.”
“Lily, get back to the holding cell!” Wyatt demanded.
“But I want to stay and torment you!”
“You don’t even know me, and I don’t know you.”
“We both know that doesn’t matter, now don’t we?”
A noise caught his attention. He jerked his head toward it and gasped as white-hot pain ripped through his chest. He tried to silently scoot back under the sage brush he was hiding beside, but he couldn’t move.
“Well, look what we have here. We’ve got a live one.” A man in a long dress said.
Wyatt was confused by what he was seeing. Was this man a terrorist? He didn’t look middle-eastern, but white.
In his weakened state he talked to him. “What’s your name?”
“You don’t have the right to ask me that!” The man pulled his arm back and swung full-force at Wyatt’s head.
Everything went black.