High School Reunion Pt. 04

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“You little bitch.” The man said, and grabbed her roughly, throwing her against the car. Sandy reeled with the force of his throw, and fell to the ground. He was reaching for her when an expression of surprised pain bloomed on his face, and he was suddenly flung face-first into the car door with such force it knocked him out cold. She scrambled sideways to avoid his prone form, and clutching the keys, dragged herself to her feet. She ran to the door, praying that Tyler had unlocked it already. As she opened the door, she felt a hand on her forearm, and swung her elbow back toward her attacker. She met flesh, heard his grunt of surprise and pain, and swung the door open, jumping in and locking the doors. He was banging on the car window so hard it was shaking as she hurriedly put the key into the ignition. Pulling off his jacket, he wrapped it around his arm and drew it back to break her window. The car engine came to life as his snarling face suddenly flew to the side, and he fell into her door with a thud, nose-first, then slid to the ground. Tyler stood by the window now, his face grim. The car started suddenly, and he crowded into the driver’s side.

“Put your seat belt on. I’ll drive,” he said, and whipped the deep blue mustang out of the parking space.

They had been driving for a couple of hours and Sandy was so tired her eyes felt like they were full of gravel, but she couldn’t sleep, because she just kept waking up to nightmares of being chased by men in grey suits.

“Tyler.” He hadn’t spoken to her unless spoken to. “I want to know what the fuck is going on.”

“What?” He sounded surprised. It was the first form of emotion she’d seen since their escape from the hotel.

“Tyler.”

“You’re telling me you don’t know?” He said, the suspicion evident in his voice.

“Know what.” Her tone made him blink, and he turned to stare at her, until she had to tell him to watch the road.

“Know what, Tyler?!”

“Maruc, the guy you were seated next to, is a terrorist, wanted internationally for war crimes and human trafficking.”

“What?? That’s ridiculous! People are seated next to strangers on planes all the time!”

“Sandy. You checked in together.”

“No, no I…” She trailed off. She remembered the handsome man in the airport. The first class lounge. Tyler was gripping the steering wheel, a muscle ticking in his jaw.

“Don’t lie to me Sandy. Are you in love with him?”

“What?? Tyler I just met him! Where are you getting this shit??”

“Look, it’s none of my fucking business, but you’re in way over your head here.”

“Tyler. Look at me.” Sandy was fuming.

“I’m driving.”

“Look at me!!” She exploded, reaching over and grabbed his hand on the steering wheel. The truck swerved, and he threw her hand off, and pulled to the side of the road so quickly the tires screeched.

“What the hell is wrong with you Sandy? Do you want to die? Is that what you want??” He practically roared the last words at her, gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles turned white. Sandy didn’t respond. Tyler glanced over at her. She’d buried her face in her hands and her shoulders were shaking. Tyler instantly felt like shit. “Aw Sandy I’m sorry. Don’t cry, please. Your love life is none of my business. But you need to understand. Whatever it is he gave you, you’re going to have to give it back.”

Sandy was staring at him. Finally, she started laughing.

“No. This is too ridiculous. This is ridiculous.”

“It’s true.”

“How do you know?”

“I heard about the plane crash.”

“No. How do you know all this? Who is looking for me and what do they think I have??”

“Maruc Trevelyan is under heavy surveillance. I’m surprised he let you be seen with him, after all this time. I’m surprised, because Celia is known to be so much more cautious…” he trailed off, eyes on her face, watching her reaction closely.

Sandy was breathing rapidly. She felt her heart beating. Her face was hot. Tyler was still talking to her.

“Shut up.” He opened his mouth but she cut him off. “Shut the fuck up.” He closed it, slowly. His hand, warm and large, was covering hers. She pulled her hands away and turned to face the road.

“Did you know?” Her tone was accusatory.

“Sandy.”

“Did you know before I got on the plane? ” She was staring at him, but he couldn’t meet her eyes. Suddenly, she jumped out of the car and bolted down the highway away from him. A car zoomed past, bright lights disorienting in the darkness. She stumbled and fell.

“Sandy!!” She was vaguely aware of Tyler running after her. He was roaring her name, and lights were bearing down on her again. Panic seized her, and she was up and running, blood pounding in her ears, heart in her throat. She was running as hard as she could, until a huge man in a grey suit stood up out of the road like a brick wall and knocked her down. She tasted blood in her mouth, and everything went black.

***

Everything hurt. Sandy opened her eyes slowly, her eyes adjusting to the brightness of the room. She blinked and pendik escort sat up slowly, groaning with the effort. She was in bed, in a hotel room.

“Where am I?”

“We’re in a hotel.” Tyler stepped out of the bathroom. He was stripped to the waist, his light brown skin marred with bruises on his arms and chest.

“What happened?”

“After you ran out into the road like an insane idiot, we were ambushed. I barely managed to get us both out of there in one piece.”

“Tyler, I…” Sandy started, but he held his hand up.

“Don’t. You don’t owe me an explanation, and I don’t want to hear any lies. I’ll protect you. Just…don’t lie to me anymore.”

He didn’t believe her. The words hit her heart like a brick wall, and it was all she could do to look away from him. He watched her face fall, her eyes fill up with tears, and he looked away, swallowing.

“You dislocated your shoulder when you fell. I set it, but it’s going to need some time to heal, so be careful. Get ready, we need to be out of here in the hour.”

“You set my shoulder.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes.” She didn’t say anything, just looked at him, eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Sandy. There’s one thing I need you to know. I will protect you, regardless of how you feel about me.”

“Fuck you, Tyler.” her voice was strained, and he felt awful. But he responded, slowly, calmly.

“You can hate me if you want to. But I didn’t kill your boyfriend.” He pulled on a t-shirt slowly, then turned and left the room.

Sandy lay back down on bed slowly.

“Dammit.” She exhaled the word softly into the air. She draped her left arm over her face and closed her eyes.

She didn’t realize she’d drifted off until Tyler came back and sat down on the bed. It bowed under his weight, and she turned toward him, still half asleep.

“Sandy. Sandy, wake up.” She woke up reaching for him.

“Hmm?” She mumbled, pressing against him until she saw his eyes, staring at her unemotionally. She stopped and looked at him.

“Sandy,” his voice was low, seductive even, but he was holding her at arm’s length. “This isn’t appropriate. Considering the circumstances.”

“Tye, you’re being ridiculous. I’m not in love with some international terrorist. Who happens to be gay. And dead.” Sandy rolled her eyes at him.

“How do you know he’s gay–dead?” Tyler’s demeanor was suddenly deadly serious.

“He was in a plan crash. And he told me he was gay.”

“You were in the same crash. I hope you don’t expect me to believe that.” At his sober look, Sandy shifted and moved to the edge of the bed.

“Look Tye, thank you for rescuing me. You probably saved my life. So thank you. But this whole affair shit you’re trying to pin on me? I didn’t even know the guy until he ran into me in front of the check-in line. I know you don’t believe me, so why don’t we just go our separate ways.” She stood, and walked over to pick up her shoes. Her hands shook as she lifted one and started trying to put it on with her left arm. She sat down, wincing a slightly at the pain in her shoulder.

“Sandy,” his voice was resigned. She didn’t answer.

“Sandy. Look, I know you’re not her. You can’t be, you’re too clumsy, you’ve already made too many mistakes. And I don’t think she’d ever imply he wasn’t attracted to her.” Sandy stopped and slowly looked up at him.

“Her?”

“Celia Romanova.” As the name slid from his lips, her world froze and she couldn’t get enough air. She put her hands to her chest, as if their presence would help her lungs work again. Tyler moved quickly to her side, soothing hands on her arms, her shoulders. “Sandy. You’re okay. Put your head down. Breathe.” Her breathing slowed, and she lifted her head, leaning against him as her body stopped shaking. “And then there’s your reaction to hearing her name,” he said wryly, his arm around her shoulders protectively.

“Tye, this isn’t funny.” Her voice came out weakly, and she cleared her throat before continuing to speak. “Who is she?”

“She’s Maruc’s mistress. The airport was the first time she was seen in public without a disguise.”

“She was at the airport?”

“Well, the CIA thinks it was her.”

“Me? They think I’m her??” She stared up at him, then pulled back. “Did you…” she had to swallow and start again. “Do you think I’m her too?”

“Very little is known about her. The CIA has the basics.” He looked down at her. “But what is known…you fit the bill.”

“You’ve known me for years. How could you even consider that I might be her? What the hell is wrong with you?!”

“Sandy…”

“I’m tired, I’m going to sleep.” Sandy marched back to the bed and pulled the covers over herself, wincing at the pain in her shoulder.

“Sandy,” Tyler started again, but she didn’t respond. He went to the far side of the room, and returned with some pills and a glass of water. “Drink these. They’re for the pain. And they’ll help you sleep.” After she heard him lay down, she sat up, and took the pills, falling asleep quickly.

She woke to a painfully throbbing maltepe escort in her shoulder. She was seated in the front of the car, with her seatbelt fastened, and the sun was shining through the windshield of a blue truck on her face.

“What the hell?” She blurted groggily, surprised at the unfamiliar surroundings.

“We’re on our way to a safe house.”

“How did I get in the car?”

“I carried you.” He responded tersely. She closed her eyes.

She remembered him waking her early that morning, but she was so groggy she kept lying down as soon as he turned his back.. He threatened, playfully, to dress her himself. At that, she’d pulled off her shirt and moved to where he stood, bending down over the bed, pulling his face down to hers. She kissed him, and when he sat next to her, pressed his warm hands against her breasts. “Sandy,” he’d said her, voice so low she barely heard him. She felt her face grow warm as she remembered kissing him, everywhere, until he started kissing her back.

She opened her eyes, and glanced over to where he sat, ramrod stiff, in the driver’s seat. He had a couple of marks on his neck that looked suspiciously like hickeys. She resisted the urge to cover her face with her hands.

“Did you…put my clothes on too?” She asked, dreading the answer. Tyler didn’t respond immediately, and when Sandy looked over, she saw that the tips of his ears were red.

“Um…yeah. Just the pants. And shoes.” He didn’t look at her. “Sorry. You were kind of…out of it.”

“It’s fine,” she said. She knew she’d been completely lucid the entire time. She wanted him. It was too bad he didn’t want her anymore.

“Okay, well, this safe house will be a good place for us to lie low and figure out what’s going on with you and Maruc.”

“I already told you…”

“You’re not telling me everything.”

“What??” She sat up angrily.

“There could be things you don’t know you know.” He responded. Sandy sighed and leaned back.

“You don’t give up.”

“It’ll be a couple more hours. You should get some rest.” He looked pointedly at her shoulder, his hazel eyes meeting her brown ones.

“You should believe me,” she said. His eyes seemed to darken as he looked at her. He looked back at the road, and she took a deep breath, pressing her hands into her lap so that she wouldn’t reach out and touch him. She leaned back and closed her eyes, letting the lingering feeling of drowsiness claim her, while trying to ignore the dull pain in her shoulder.

***

She awoke to the sound of a car door slamming. They were stopped on a gravel driveway next to a huge white rosebush. She opened the car door and stood slowly, letting her limbs wake up after being cramped up in the car for so long. Grassy hills dotted with tall trees ran all the way up to the horizon. She turned around in a circle.

“This is your safe house?”

“It’s off the grid.”

“Yes. It most certainly is.” She shook her head, while Tyler hefted the bag carrying the few belongings he’d brought with him.

“C’mon.” He held out an elbow, smiling. She took it, nestling her hand against his muscular arm. His skin was warm against her fingers as he led her up the walk. “We can stay here a week or two while you heal and we figure out what you know.”

“A week or two??” Sandy looked at him like he’d suddenly grown another head. “Tyler, I need to go see a doctor. Besides, I’ve already told you what I know.”

“We need to be somewhere we can’t be found, and where we can avoid Maruc’s goons until I figure out what went wrong, and fix it. Besides, I have a doctor,” he said, smirking at her. Sandy opened her mouth to retort, but as he finished his sentence, a short woman with chestnut-brown skin bustled out of the house in a flowered dress with perfectly coiffed curly black hair and modest heels. She smiled and stepped forward, hugging Sandy gently without jostling her injured shoulder.

“Lovely to see you dear. Would you like something to drink?” Sandy managed a polite hello, in spite of her shock at the sight of Tyler’s Aunt Bea, a woman she hadn’t seen since high school.

Sandy was half sitting, half lying on the sofa bed Bea had set her down on. She disappeared into the kitchen and had returned with an icy glass of lemonade. She examined Sandy’s shoulder briefly, and made a sound of disapproval. “How’s the pain, dear?” Sandy winced as Bea brushed her shoulder lightly with her fingers. Ignoring Tyler’s concerned look, she said,

“It really hurts.”

“It looks pretty swollen, Sandy.” Bea reached into the surprisingly voluminous pockets of her dress and pulled out a container. When Sandy looked at her questioningly, Bea said, “I usually prescribe these to Tye when he’s been…out too long, but I think you’re in need today, dear.” Bea’s smile was protective and concerned, and she handed Sandy two. “Don’t worry, they aren’t habit-forming, but will help with the swelling and pain. They may also make you drowsy, but sleep is often the best remedy.”

Sandy smiled.

“Thank you.” She swallowed kartal escort the pills and took a sip of her lemonade. Sandy hadn’t even finished half her cup, and she felt like she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She could hear Bea and Tyler having a discussion in the kitchen, but she couldn’t make out any of the words. After what seemed a long time, Tyler returned to where she was sprawled on the couch, half-empty glass perched precariously between her limp hand and the couch cushions. He took the glass and placed it on a side table.

“Tye…” she murmured, reaching for him.

“I’ll show you your room.” He bent, and lifted her against him. She felt herself slipping off into sleep, her rebellious body enjoying every step as Tyler carried her to her room and laid her down. She heard him murmur,

“Sleeping beauty,” and she felt his lips brush lightly against her forehead as she drifted off to sleep.

Sandy woke to light streaming in through her window. She was disoriented for a moment, until she stretched and the pain in her shoulder reminded her of what had happened. She was gently massaging her shoulder, when someone knocked on her door, and Tyler entered. She glanced up at him and started to smile, until she remembered their last argument. Tyler stared at her for a moment. “How’s your shoulder feeling?” He asked.

“Sore.” Sandy groaned and sat up slowly. The blankets she had been cocooned in fell away, revealing her sky blue camisole. She’d discarded the sweatshirt she’d fallen asleep in, and he wasn’t sure how much more she was wearing. Tyler swallowed and tried to tamp down his rising desire.

“It’ll be better in a couple of days. Bea has some ointment that will help, and you should probably put that on.” He pointed to the sling sitting on a chair in the corner on top of her untouched pajamas. She threw the covers back, and slid out of bed, gifting him with a view of her long brown legs. “Ah–let me get Bea to help you with that,” he said, and began turning away, but was stopped by her gasp of pain. She was trying to put on the sling awkwardly, by lifting her injured arm. He was back at her side in an instant. “No, you impatient fool. Like this.” He guided her arm in gently. Her skin was soft, and he couldn’t help caressing her shoulders as he helped her. She was looking up at him, and he was ashamed to see the wariness in her eyes.

“Tyler, I need you to know that I…” He cut her off by kissing her. She was still for a moment, but as he teased the edges of her mouth with his tongue, she reached up with her good hand, fingers mapping the length of his muscular arm, she slid her hand up under his sleeve to touch his skin and he pulled her in close. There was another knock on the door, and they sprang apart. Tyler’s aunt walked in,

“Oh I see you’re up already. Well, breakfast is ready.” She surveyed them for a moment, and walked out.

“I’m sorry, Sandy.” Tyler ran his hand over his face. “I didn’t mean…”

“I wasn’t Maruc’s lover. I didn’t even know him.”

“Sandy–“

“I know you still don’t believe me, and I wish I didn’t care, but I do. We went to the lounge together because he wanted to buy me a drink and I thought he was funny. I drank too much, and he upgraded me to first class. It was stupid to accept, I know, but he told me he was gay…and who turns down a free seat in first class? You should know me well enough to know I wouldn’t lie to you. Not about this.” Her voice softened on the last sentence.

“Wait a minute. You drank with him? Why didn’t you tell me that before?” She smiled ruefully.

“I didn’t remember until now. And it was all so hazy after the crash.”

“Tell me exactly what happened. And don’t leave anything out.”

Ten minutes later, Sandy was sitting in the middle of the bed, arms wrapped around herself. Tyler was pacing the room. He sat down on the bed, and placing his hands on Sandy’s shoulders, he looked her in the eyes. “It’s okay. We’ll figure it out.” Sandy raised her eyes to his. His heart twisted as he saw her blinking away tears.

“But…there’s a gap in my memory. How am I supposed to figure anything out if I can’t remember what happened?” She lowered her head again, and Tyler gathered her into his arms. At that moment, there was a sharp knock on the door and Bea entered the room.

“I said, breakfast!” Her eyes widened when she saw Sandy with her face pressed against Tyler’s neck, shoulders shaking with silent tears. “Is everything okay, dear?” She addressed her question to Tyler. He looked at her, and sighed.

“Yes. Everything is going to be fine. We’ll be out for breakfast soon.” Bea nodded, and after a worried look in Sandy’s direction, closed the door silently behind herself.

“You’ll remember, don’t worry,” he murmured, running his hand along her back.

“What if I don’t?” She whispered.

“Then we’ll find another way to figure out what happened. I promise,” he said, still rubbing her back, avoiding her hurt shoulder. She clung to him until after her tears had stopped, enjoying the feel of his warm body against hers. “You want to go get some breakfast?” He said, tipping her chin up toward him. Her gaze on his was electric, and before he had a chance to react, she kissed him. He pulled back gently. “Sandy. You need to eat.” She sighed and looked up at him from under her lashes.

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