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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I love going to the zoo!!
 









Chapter twenty ~


    Amy woke with a start. She was disoriented. She looked out the car window. They were passing mountains on both sides, and they didn’t look familiar.

    "Hey there sleepy head, about time you woke-up. I was beginning to think I was gonna have to drive all this way by myself." Jude looked at her through the front mirror.

    "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to fall asleep. I guess I was exhausted after everything that’s happened."

    "I was just kidding, relax." He smiled at her through the mirror. She guessed he was good-looking, but she only had eyes for one man.

    Amy looked at the children. The older two were buckled-up, but slouched over sleeping, and Teenie was in a car seat.

   "I stopped at a Wal-Mart and grabbed the car seat. I didn't feel she was safe without it. She didn't even wake-up when I moved her."

    "That was nice of you. I'm sure Jackson will pay you back."

    "There’s no need. I've named myself honorary uncle and I've never bought them anything, so it's all good."

    "Thank you." She smiled toward the mirror.

                                          ***

    Jackson was awake. He was pretending to be asleep while he listened to them conversing. He wanted to see how they interacted with each other. He was jealous of Jude, and that was a new emotion for him. He couldn't recall ever feeling that way over a woman, but he did over Amy. He wanted to dissect the thought, but would wait for a more appropriate time. Amy was speaking again so he silenced his thoughts to hear what she was saying.

    "I hope Jackson is okay. I'm worried he left the hospital so soon. He should still be there."

    "Jackson knows what he can and can't take. He's trained for it."

    "What do you mean?'"

    "He was in the Army Rangers."

    "I know, he told me and Chester he was in the Special Forces. I just don't know what you meant. Isn't Special Forces just a group in the army that's better than normal soldiers?"

    "Yes, they’re better than normal soldiers in that they are trained to be that way. They do missions the regular forces aren't trained for, or capable of. He's a much decorated soldier."

    "Wow, I didn't know that. At first I thought he was away on business, and then after all this, he told us he was still in the army, but we couldn't tell anybody, which I didn't, but I didn't know he was some special 'commando' type."

    Jude laughed. "He is, to be sure."

    Jackson decided he better let them know he was awake before the conversation turned to dangerous ground. "Are you two having fun talking about me?"

    "We actually were having fun. She smiled as he turned the mirror his way so he could see her without turning around.

    "We're almost where we're going. How are you at roughing it?" Jackson asked.

    "I’m pretty good if the need arises, why? Are we going to the woods, or something?”

    "Yes, for a day or two. I'm making arrangements for something more lasting until we catch these guys, but for now, this has to do. We'll be in a cabin. Jude, did you stop and get supplies?"

    "Yep, I got everything you told me to, and then some."

    They pulled off the road and started down a dirt path. They drove for a couple more miles before Jude pulled up in front of a large, ostentatious cabin. There would be no 'roughing it' here, it seemed.

    "I thought we’d be in some rinky-dink cabin with no electric or water, and maybe without a bathroom, too." She laughed as she pulled the handle on her door and stepped onto a leaf-strewn path. Angie and Benji began moving and moaning as they awoke. She made hushing noises and came around the car to un-latch Teenie from the car seat.

    "This is as close to 'roughing it' as I'll go, unless I'm out in the field." Jackson said. He gave a moan of his own. He got out and stretched his cramped legs.

    Jude got out and went around to the spacious trunk and began pulling several bags out of the compartment. "I hope you guys like junk food. I didn't know what to get in the way of meals, so I stuck to easy stuff."

    "I can cook, but whatever you got will be fine. Did you get formula for Teenie?" She asked.

    A stricken look came over his face and he looked at Jackson with an accusing look. "You didn't say to get formula, man. I don't have kids, but you have no excuse. I guess I'll have to drive back to the closest town and grab some."

    "I can go get it if you're too tired." Jackson offered half-heartedly.

    "No man, you just got shot, and need some rest. I'll be okay. Just give me directions once we get unloaded and I'll go back."

    "You won't have to take the car. I'll show you where I keep the four-wheelers and you can take one of them. It'll look less conspicuous. This thing is a dead giveaway that we're cops."

    "Yeah, you're probably right, man. You better write down the name of the formula, because I don't have a clue.

    Benji and Angie had finished stretching and were standing outside the car. Angie said, "Daddy, that bad man with the scar said you'd never find his boss because he's right under your nose."

    Jackson squatted down next to her, grimacing in pain, and put an arm protectively around her shoulders. "What else did he say?" Jackson looked up at Jude with worry on his face. He hated to interrogate his own child, but if she could help, then he would.

    "I heard him say he had Matilda's daughter and babies. He said he had someone named Amos and his wife and kids, too. Is he gonna hurt us Daddy?"

The tormented look on Angie’s face was enough to make Amy tear-up. She quickly wiped them away before the children saw.

    "Not if I can help it, sweet pea. You've been a big help, and I appreciate it, I really do." He pulled her in for a hug. He was so grateful to Amy for keeping his children safe, and to Angie who was well beyond her years in intelligence. He winced as Angie hugged him back a little too tightly.

    Jackson stood up and propelled the children to the front door. They all went inside and set up a late supper on a long wooden log table.

    The two older children began eating, and Teenie was put down for bed. She was still asleep, the big red splotches on her face pulling on Amy's heartstrings. This tiny baby had been put through so much today, but she was okay. She said a quick prayer to God that He continued to keep her that way.

    She came back into the kitchen and Jude was already gone. It was late, probably close to midnight, but Amy was hungry, and she didn't think she would sleep without something in her stomach. She'd been through a lot today as well.

    "You look tired. You need to get some sleep." Jackson told her as she sat down and fixed a sandwich with the lunchmeat on the table. He was already eating.

    "I am tired. I'm probably gonna hit the hay as soon as we eat." She gestured toward the two older children.

    "I can tend to them; you’ve had a rough day."

    "My day hasn't been as rough as yours, and I fully intend to take care of my..." She stumbled over the words and colored at her slip-up. "I mean your children."

    Jackson's heart did a somersault at her words. They made him immensely happy, but he didn't want to stop and examine the reason just yet. "I know you take care of the children, but I can do it this once."

    "Jackson Masters, get up and go, to bed and I don't want any more excuses." Amy said as he popped the last bite of his sandwich in his mouth. She was trying to cover her obvious slip-up, but he just laughed.

    "Aren’t you a little spitfire to be reckoned with?"

    "No, I just know how tired you must be, and I want you to go to bed. I want you to trust my ability to take care of your children."

    Jackson got up from the table and came around to where she was sitting. He crouched down by her side and pulled her chin up with his hand. "Amy, I do trust you with my kids. Today has more than proven to me that you're capable of caring for them. I want you to know that. He reached over and pecked her on the lips so softly it could've been her imagination, if it weren't for the loud intake of breath and widened eyes of Angela.

    "Daddy, why did you kiss our Mamie?"

    "Yeah Daddy, why did you?" Benji asked as he clapped his hands and smiled hugely.

    "Daddy was just showing his appreciation for Mamie's work today guys."

Amy's previously galloping heart fell to her toes at his words. She should've known he wasn't really interested in her in a relationship kind of way anyway.

    Jackson got up and said, "I'm gonna go to bed. You shouldn't have anything to worry about here. Victoria and I are the only ones who knew about this place, so there's really no way they could've found out about it. Even Chester and Matilda don’t know. Goodnight, Jude should be back soon, but I gave him a key, so you can go to bed if you want."

    "Is Jude married?" Amy asked.

    A look she couldn't discern came over his face, but was gone almost as soon as it appeared. "No, he isn't married. Why, are you interested?"

    "I don't know. I was just curious, I guess." She returned. "Well goodnight. I hope you sleep well."

    Jackson went to the master suite off the side of the living room and Amy put away all the sandwich makings and took the children upstairs. She would make them pallets in her room. There was no way they would be out of her sight tonight. She fell into bed and they were all out like lights.


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