by Cat Walker
Can Firefighter Danny O'Brien protect Shawnee Keegan from a ruthless killer?
|PUTTING OUT THE FIRES|
By: Cat Walker
aka: Cathy Walkowiak
Noise. And lots of it. It seemed to be screaming in her head. And then silence.
She wanted to turn over and fall back to sleep. But she felt like something was pressing her down; her head was pounding, and everything seemed to hurt. Must be the flu, she thought as she drifted off to sleep.
Sirens. She said a quick prayer that whoever needed help would be ok and that the rescuers would be fine too. Keep them safe. She thought as she drifted off again.
She could hear someone talking near her. “Female, approximately thirty years of age.” ‘Nice voice’ she thought. She wanted to open her eyes and see what was playing on the TV, but her head was killing her and she really didn’t want to give her stomach anything else to rebel against. She was fighting nausea, and she couldn’t stop shaking.
Someone touched her shoulder. Then her neck. Feeling for a pulse. Ignoring the pain, she opened her eyes, and gazed into the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen. “Oh my” she whispered. The blue eyes blinked in surprise. Then they disappeared. “We need a kit over here. Now! She’s still alive.”
The blue eyes were back. “Miss? Can you hear me?” Shawnee smiled. “Loud and clear handsome.” Trying to ignore the pain, she blinked a couple of times trying to focus more on his face. Did she just call him handsome? That was an understatement. Surrounding those great eyes was a strong face, and curly dark brown hair. ‘Wow.’ She thought. As her vision cleared, she started to take in more of her surroundings. Blue eyes was wearing a helmet and a coat with reflective tape. ‘He’s a fireman.’ She thought, and then closing her eyes she started to remember.
“Oh my God.” she whispered. Opening her eyes again she frowned, “Is everyone else ok?” He smiled at her, “Yes, everyone else is ok Miss.”
“I tried to stop. I saw the truck starting to flip in front of me.” She closed her eyes to the memory. “But my brakes didn’t seem to be working. I pumped them and nothing.” She frowned, “I even tried the damn emergency brake but it felt loose. I couldn’t stop.”
He touched her shoulder again and she opened her eyes. The tears were streaming down her cheeks. “It’s going to be alright.” he tried to reassure her. Shawnee gave him a weak smile. “What’s your name?” he asked quietly. “Shawnee. Shawnee Keegen”
“Can you tell me how you feel?”
Shawnee closed her eyes and swallowed back her tears. “Let’s see, my head feels like it’s going to split open at any moment. My back is sore, and so is my left leg. My right wrist hurts a little. Basically I feel like I got hit by a Mack truck.” she said with a smile. She heard him chuckle and she opened her eyes again. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“Are you married?” she asked him. That had him blinking in surprise again. “No. No I’m not.” She could hear the question in his voice. “Good.” she said. “Because I plan on seriously kissing you once you get me out of this tin can.” He smiled again.
As the truck above her shifted, she closed her eyes and waited for things to settle down again. “Hey, but don’t let that deter you from getting me out of here ok?” Danny leaned closer to her and said, “Lady, I’m looking forward it.” She looked at him and smiled.
“Keep it up handsome and you may get ore than you bargained for.”
A shout came from behind him. “O’Brien!”
Danny winked at her and said, “I’ll be right back.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” she replied as he backed away from the car.
Shawnee closed her eyes trying not to think about where she was. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but she figured they were determining a plan of action.
“Shawnee,” Danny was back, Opening her eyes again she focused on what he was saying. “I need to figure out if you are pinned anywhere, so I need to feel around and check things out. Ok?” Shawnee nodded and closed her eyes again. She felt him lean in over her and then she felt his hands moving around her body. Touching her hip, her thigh, and her legs. “Nice legs.” he said when he had finished. “Nice hands.” she smiled at him. “I’ll be right back.” Shawnee kept her eyes closed until he returned.
“How are you doing?” he asked. Shawnee looked at him and smiled weakly, “Did I happen to mention that I’m slightly claustrophobic?” He shook his head, “Then, I’ll try not to do that again.” In spite of herself, she smiled, “Oh, I didn’t mind you snuggling in; it’s this tin can that I’m not really digging.”
“We’re working on that right now.” he reassured her.
“I trust you. But, I don’t mind telling you that I’m more than a little frightened right now.” Danny smiled at her, “You’re hiding it well.”
Shawnee really didn’t want to think about where she was, so she decided to focus on getting out. “So, what’s the game plan?” Danny looked up and said, “Well, first we’re going to lift the Mack truck off of your car and then I’m going to slide you out.”
“Piece of cake.” she said shaker than she wanted. Danny laid his hand on her shoulder, “I’m going to get you out of this Shawnee.”
She looked deep in his eyes and tried to put on a brave face. “Don’t get all serious on me O’Brien.” Then smiling, she added; “Unless you’re serious about the kissing part.” she winked. Danny smiled back. He could see that she was trying to be brave, and damn if she wasn’t doing a good job at it. But he also noted that she was also having trouble keeping her eyes open. Checking her pulse again he found it still strong. “Get some rest.” He said, “We have some stuff to do before we get started.” She nodded and let her eyes shut.
She didn’t know how long she had slept, but when she felt Danny’s hand on her shoulder again she opened her eyes. “Shawnee, I need to put this blanket over you. It’s going to protect you from any broken glass and debris that may fall down when we are lifting the truck.” “Ok.” she said quietly.
“Danny.” she spoke suddenly. “Yah?” Her throat was dry and she licked her lips. “I want you to promise me something.”
“If I can.” he said hesitantly. Nodding her understanding, she looked him directly in the eyes and continued. “I want you to promise that if anything starts getting too dangerous, that you’ll get out of the way.” He started to reply but she pushed on. “I know, it’s your job, but I’m the one stuck in this tin can. It’s probably my own fault anyway and I’ll be damned if I let anyone else get hurt because of me.”
Danny didn’t know what to say. He knew that he would do what ever was necessary to protect them both. But damn it, he was going to get her out of there. She knew the danger that was evident. Putting on his sexiest smile he said, “Having second thoughts about giving me that kiss?”
Shawnee smiled. “Not a chance.”
“Good, then we have an understanding.” He said as he placed the protective blanket around her.
“Shawnee, can you hear me ok?” Nodding, she tried to control the panic that was starting to overwhelm her. “Just concentrate on my voice honey.” “I’m going to grab you under your arms. When the time comes, I’m going to pull you out. We have to do it quickly, so I apologize if you feel any pain because of it.”
“That’s ok. It’ll just cost you another kiss.” she said muffled by the blanket. Danny couldn’t help but smile at her.
Danny listened to the men around him, waiting for his signal. When it came, he pulled her out of the car, and several other men joined in to carry her to safety. The blanket was removed, and the paramedics started to work on her just as the truck fell from the wench and crushed her car. Shawnee stared at the wreck and then turned and asked for Danny. “I’m right here.” He said, leaning over her.
She searched his handsome face. “That was a close one huh?” Danny smiled. “Plenty of time.”
Shawnee reached up and grabbed him by his collar, pulling his head down to hers.
The kiss held all the passion and promise that had been pent up inside her.
Clearing his throat, the paramedic smiled, “Excuse me, but I think we need to get this little lady to the hospital.”
Danny pulled away, still a little dazed by the kiss. “Sorry” he murmured to the man.
Shawnee caught the look in his eyes before she was being lifted onto the gurney. “Hey, I warned the man.” She said pleased with the feeling the kiss had left her with.
The paramedic glanced back at the fireman, “Yah? Well, by the looks of things he’s still trying to find his legs after that kiss. Maybe you should have given him more of a warning.”
Shawnee laughed quietly as she was lifted into the ambulance.
Danny nodded to the paramedic who let him step into the vehicle. Brushing her hair from her face, he smiled down at her. “Hi. I have to get some stuff done here, but then I’ll come see you at the hospital. OK?” Shawnee smiled back at him and nodded. Then he leaned over and whispered in her ear. “And then we’ll talk about that kiss.” Shawnee’s smile widened and she felt her heart turn over in anticipation. “Looking forward to it.” she whispered back.
Jumping down from the ambulance, he helped them close the doors and watched as it sped away.
Turning back to the scene of the accident, he saw that the investigator was already surveying the scene. Walking up to him, he nodded toward the wreckage. “What does it look like to you?”
“A mess.” Kevin O’Brien looked over at his younger brother. “And that looked like quite the kiss.” Danny continued to look at the wreckage for a moment before turning his head, “It was.” Then nodding back toward the accident, he added, “She said she couldn’t stop. Tried the brakes. Nothing. She said even the hand brake didn’t work.”
Kevin frowned and looked over his shoulder at the direction she had been traveling. No skid marks could be seen. “Looks like I have my work cut out for me.” Danny nodded, “I’d like to be kept in the loop on this one.” Kevin looked at his brother and saw the warning in his eyes. Nodding, he said, “I’ll see what I can do.”
Patting him on the back, Danny smiled, and said, “I know you will.” Then he walked over to start helping with the clean up.
It was over two hours later before Danny could stop back at the hospital. He had received word that Shawnee had suffered from a laceration on her head, a concussion, a sprained wrist and a gash on her ankle that required a couple of stitches. The Doctors had reassured him that they had found no evidence of internal injuries. A small miracle in itself considering the severity of the accident.
Kevin had said that he would need to talk with her about the accident, and had given Danny specific orders not to ask her any questions about what had happened. Danny knew that the preliminary evidence didn’t look good.
Shawnee was sleeping when he walked into her room. She would be staying a couple of days for observations, and had been offered a sedative to help her sleep.
Walking up next to her bed, Danny looked at her. Her right arm was wrapped up and her head had a large bandage on it to cover the cut she had gotten in the accident. There were dark circles forming under her eyes- further evidence of the trauma she had sustained.
Pulling up a chair, Danny settled himself down to wait out the night. He wanted to be there when she woke up. It seemed important, although he really couldn’t explain why.
Half an hour later, he heard movement at the door, and turned to see Kevin standing there. “How is she?” He inquired, walking up to the foot of the bed.
Danny stood up and stretched. “Concussion, sprains…by all accounts she got off pretty damn lucky.” Kevin heard the frustration in his brother’s voice and wondered about it. “Has she woken up yet?” He was curious if Danny had ‘followed orders’ and not spoken to her about the accident.
Shaking his head, Danny said ‘No. Not yet. They offered her a sedative. She may sleep thru to the morning.”
Shawnee heard the voices and smiled, “Or, she may not.” she said groggily. Opening her eyes she was awarded with the sight of two very handsome men. “Now that is what I call a great sight to wake up to. Two handsome men standing over my bed.” Smiling, she shook her head, “Sorry, whatever they gave me has certainly loosened my tongue. "My apologies.”
Danny stepped up to the bed and took her hand into his; “I seem to remember I liked that tongue.” he winked at her. Blushing, she smiled up at him.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’m alright. It’s nice of you to stop by.” Then looking past him, she added, “and it looks like you brought some company.” Tilting her head she studied the other man briefly. “Do I detect a family resemblance?”
Kevin smiled. “Captain Kevin O’Brien, Miss Keegan. Danny’s brother.”
Like his brother he had dark curly hair, although his was cut shorter, with hazy green eyes. Both men were over six feet tall and built. Linebackers she thought. Unlike Danny, who was still in his uniform, this man wore jeans and a sweater.
Danny shifted to stand at the head of her bed as Kevin continued. “If you are feeling up to it I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about the accident.” Danny frowned at his brother, and laid his hand on her shoulder. “But if you aren’t feeling up to it, it can wait until the morning.”
Shawnee looked up at Danny and saw the frown on his face. Then she focused on Kevin. “Captain.” she acknowledged his title. “Can I assume that you are with the fire department as well?” Kevin nodded. “Yes, Miss. I am the investigator assigned to the case.”
There was something about the look in his eyes that gave her a warning that his questions were not going to be easy ones. Pushing herself up to a sitting position, she tried to ignore the pounding in her head and concentrate on his questions. “Ask away.”
Reaching in his coat pocket, he took out a small tape recorder and a notebook. “Do you mind if I tape this conversation?”
“Not at all.” She looked directly into his eyes. Kevin like her directness.
“What can you tell me about the accident?”
“I was driving down Hwy 6, on my way to go grocery shopping. I’m not sure what exactly happened up ahead, but I saw the semi swerve and then it started to flip over. I slammed on my brakes. Or I should say, I tried to slam on my brakes. They didn’t work.”
“How do you mean?”
She looked down, considering her answer - trying to remember it all accurately. “They felt loose.” She shook her head, “Not loose. Just not there. My foot went all the way down to the floor. There wasn’t any resistance at all.” She looked back at him, “I tried to pump them a few times… but once I hit them, they never came back up from the floor. I guess I panicked, because I tried to pull the emergency brake as well, but that didn’t help either.”
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath before continuing. “I must have closed my eyes when I hit the semi. I think I tried to turn to miss it. I tried to get my seat down too. I don’t know if I did or not. The next thing I remember is the noise.” She rubbed her hand on her arm as she opened her eyes again. “Then it was quiet. I must have passed out. I don’t know. I remember hearing the sirens and thinking that I wanted the noise to stop.” Smiling she chuckled. “I was kind of out of it. I thought I had the flu and needed some sleep.” Then she looked up at Danny and winked. “Then I heard your voice and I wanted to know who had the great voice. I thought you were on the television.”
Danny smiled down at her.
Kevin studied her for a moment before asking, “Miss Keegan, when was the last time you had your car serviced?”
Shawnee looked back at him. The question obviously had surprised her. “I don’t remember.” Then frowning, she admitted, “I’m not very good about that kind of thing. I think it was about a year ago? Last fall? I took it in to have the oil changed before the snow started to fly.”
Kevin looked down at his notepad. “And you haven’t had anyone else work on your car since?”
Shawnee frowned “No… Captain O’Brien, can you tell me what this is all about? What does having my oil changed have to do with my accident?”
Kevin looked up at his brother with an unmistakable look of concern on his face. “What?” she asked.
Danny put his hand on her shoulder again before Kevin continued. “”Is there anyone that you know who would want to scare you or harm you in any way?”
Shawnee’s eyes widened at the implication, and then she looked up at Danny. “What the hell is he talking about?”
Danny looked in her eyes and repeated his brother’s question. “Shawnee, is there anyone?”
Shawnee shook her head, “No! I don’t understand. Why are you asking me that?”
She reached up and put her hand to her head. It was really starting to pound and she was having troubles concentrating. She had to have misunderstood what they were asking.
Danny saw the confusion in her eyes, and he looked over at Kevin who was watching her as well.
Kevin looked at his brother, and then addressed Shawnee. “I’m sorry.” Kevin spoke gently, “But it appears that someone cut your brake lines.”
“Cut them?” Shawnee really couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You mean they broke. Right?” Shrugging off Danny’s hand she needed to focus on what was happening. Rubbing her temples she tried to gather her thoughts. “It’s my fault right? I should have taken better care of my car.” Then looking up into Danny’s eyes she looked for some reassurance that she was on the right track. “That’s what he meant right?”
Danny sat down on the side of her bed and took her hands in his. The look on his face spoke volumes. “No!” she whispered in disbelief.
Kevin had come around the bed and picked up the phone next to her bed and dialed a number. It was answered on the second ring.
“Jake, it’s Kevin O’Brien. I need to you come down to Mercy Hospital as soon as possible.” Nodding into the phone, he said, “Yes, that’s right. I’ve just confirmed that with Miss Keegan.” He listened for a moment and then ended the call.
“They will be here in a few minutes.”
“Who? Who will be here?” Shawnee was having difficulty taking it all in. Squeezing her hands, Danny drew her attention back to him. “The police. Shawnee, everything is going to be alright.”
But Shawnee just shook her head. “No it isn’t.” she whispered. “Not if what you’re implying is true.” Closing her eyes, she allowed him to pull her into his arms. Her head rested on his shoulder as she felt her control slipping.
Danny looked up at his brother and Kevin could see the concern on his face. Laying his hand on her back, he gently rubbed her back, trying to calm her.
“Why?” she whispered, her voice clogged with unshed tears. Danny shook his head, unable to speak. His throat was raw with emotion.
But she knew that they had no answers for her. Not yet anyway.
Taking a deep breath, she pulled back from Danny’s embraced and looked into his troubled eyes. She felt drawn to him. And it worried her a little.
A knock at the door drew their attention, and the nurse requested a moment of her time for some tests.
As both men waited just outside the door, Danny turned toward Kevin. “Does Jake have anything yet?” Kevin shook his head. “Not that he told me. But we’ll know soon enough.”
Jake Summers walked into Mercy Hospital where he was met by one of the patrol officers from his precinct. “John.” He nodded to the man as they both entered the elevator for the fourth floor. “How’s Milly?”
“She’s doing good. Ready to burst.” Jake smiled. Milly was expecting the couple’s third child and it was due any time. The office pool had her going full term, but Jake had her pegged to go early. He had ten dollars ridding on it. He had worked with John Smith for the better part of a decade and he had been there for the births of his first two sons.
He found Danny and Kevin standing outside the room. One look at the two brothers and he knew there was going to be more to the story then he would have liked.
After shaking hands, Danny spoke first. “What do you have?”
Jake studied him a moment. “Rumor has it you and the young lady locked lips. Anything I should know about that?”
“Not a damn thing.” Danny replied hotly.
Kevin shook his head and turning toward his brother, he reasoned with him. “I would have asked the same question Danny.”
Running his hand thru his hair he nodded. “Sorry Jake. No, I do not have a prior relationship with her. She kissed me to thank me for saving her life.”
Jake smiled, “From what I heard it was quite the kiss.”
Danny smiled, “It was. And if you’re going to ask what I think you are going to ask, yes, I’m interested in her. But right now I just want to get to the bottom of this mess.”
Nodding, Jake motioned to the closed door. “Is she ready to talk to me?”
Danny’s smile faded. “I guess you’ll have to ask her that.” Then he added, “Go easy on her. She’s had quite the shock.” Jake nodded in agreement.
After the nurse had left, Shawnee was left alone to her thoughts. ‘Who could have tampered with her car, and who would want to hurt her?’ It had to be a case of mistaken identity she decided. Some idiot had simply messed with the wrong car. All they had to do was lift some fingerprints, run a make on them and they’d have their guy. Isn’t that how it worked in the movies? Her life would be back to normal in no time!
Closing her eyes, she tried to ignore the nagging feeling that it wasn’t going to be quite that easy.
Hearing a knock on the door, she opened her eyes to see Danny coming back into the room, and looking past him, she saw Kevin and another man walking in behind him.
“I see you brought the Calvary with you.” she swallowed back the lump of fear she felt rising in her throat.
“Shawnee, this is Lieutenant Jake Summers with the Chicago Police Department. He’d like to ask you a couple of questions.”
“Lieutenant.” She nodded to the man. He looked to be just less than six feet tall with dark hair that was salt and peppered at his temples. A handsome man who, by the tired look on his face, she estimated to be in his late forties.
“Miss Keegan, Captain O’Brien has filled me in on your statement. I will have to ask you to make a formal statement downtown when you are up to it…but right now I just have a few more questions. If you don’t mind.”
Shawnee nodded. “If you’re going to ask me who would want to hurt me, I can tell you that I have absolutely no idea. I really believe that it’s going to come down to a case of mistaken identity.” She rushed on, wanting to put this matter to rest. “I was parked at the Westside Mall before I drove on the highway, and someone must have mistaken my car for someone else’s.”
Jake studied her for a moment, and decided that he believe her. She really didn’t have any idea of what this was all about.
Walking up to her, he looked over at Danny before addressing her. “Miss Keegan. We’ve already checked that angle. Unfortunately it isn’t looking quite that cut and dry.”
Shawnee frowned. Then taking a deep breath she said, “I was afraid you would say that.” Looking up at Danny she shook her head, “Maybe you should have opted out of that kiss. It looks like my life is going to get a little more complicated.” Danny tilted her chin up and said, “No way lady. I like complicated.”
Clearing his throat, Jake frowned, “This is more than just a little complicated. Miss Keegan.”
Shawnee turned back with a loud sigh. “Please call me Shawnee.” Nodding in agreement, Jake continued. “Shawnee, do you know a man by the name of Strausman?” Shawnee shook her head no. “I didn’t expect that you would have. He doesn’t usually work in these parts, and unless I miss my mark, he doesn’t usually mingle in your crowd.”
Kevin had come up to join them, “Jimmy Strausman?” he said with a frown. Jake looked back at him and nodded.
Shawnee studied their somber faces and said, “I take it he’s not one of the good guys.”
Jake shook his head. “No, he isn’t. Jimmy is usually hired to encourage witnesses into not testifying. He specializes in creating ‘accidents’, setting fires… anything to scare the victim into not working with us.”
Shawnee was shaking her head. “No. You have to be wrong about this. I’m not testifying against anyone.”
Jake looked grimly at her. “It’s definitely Strausman.”
Pushing herself up out of the bed, she reached for the robe at the foot of her bed and slipped it over her shoulders. She was feeling her control starting to slip and she wanted to take some control over what was happening.
“Well, that may be, but I’m telling you Lieutenant, you’ve got the wrong girl. I haven’t been asked to testify against anyone, and I’m not planning on testifying against anyone.”
Standing now by the window, she folded her arms in front of her, and tried to control the shaking that was threatening to buckle her knees, as she faced off in front of the three men.
All three men saw the same thing. A frightened woman who was trying desperately not to be.
Shawnee saw Danny start to move toward her, but she held up her hand. She didn’t want to crumble in front of them.
“I’d like you all to leave now if you don’t mind.” Biting her lip she tried to control the shaking in her voice. “I’m a little tired and I’d like to get some sleep now.”
Danny nodded his understanding, and turned toward the other two gentlemen. “You heard the lady. Let’s go.”
Jake wanted to press for more answers, but he too could see that she was about ready to break.
At the door, Danny, lead the other two out before turning back to look at her. “I’ll be right outside if you need anything Shawnee.”
Shawnee nodded as the tears began to fall.
Turning, he was about to leave when he heard her whisper, “Please hold me”
Closing the door, he walked up to her and held her close as she gave into to her tears.
Reaching down, he picked her up and carried her to the bed and gently laid her down. “I’m sorry.” she whispered. “Stop it.” He said quietly. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”
Taking a deep breath she laughs shakingly. “Yes I do. I’m sure this was the last thing you wanted in your life right not.” Shaking her head she tried to take control of her emotions. ‘I’m all right. Really. I think I just need some sleep.”
Danny saw that she did look exhausted and kissed the top of her head before standing up. “Ok. You get some rest. Jake has an officer staying outside your door so you’ll be safe, and I can stay if you’d like. …Or is there anyone I can call….”
“No, that’s ok Danny. You’re probably exhausted too. Thank you though. It means a lot to me.” Danny nodded and started for the door.
“Danny,” he turned back to look at her. “Thank you for saving my life.” She said quietly.
Smiling at her, he said, “It was my pleasure Shawnee. More than you know. Now get some rest.”
Sliding down under the sheets she said, “The pleasure was all mine.” Good Night.”
Danny quietly closed the door behind him and found Kevin and Jake waiting for him. Kevin nodded toward the closed door, “Is she alright?”
“No, but she will be.” Danny said. Turning to Officer Smith, “I’d appreciate a call if she needs anything.”
John looked to Jake for confirmation. Getting it, he nodded and said, “She’ll be fine. Get some rest Danny.”
Danny nodded. Looking back at the closed door, he turned and said, “Let’s go get a beer first. I think I need one.”
Kevin laughed and grabbed Danny around the shoulders. “You’re buying.”
It had been a hell-la-va couple of days.
Every few hours a nurse would come in to check her vitals. She seemed to time her visits just as Shawnee was starting to fall back to sleep. When the nurse finally decided that Shawnee was going to live thru the night and that her vital signs had not drastically changed over the last few hours, she was finally told to ‘get some sleep’ and then mercifully left to do just that.
Danny hadn’t stopped by, or at least not that she had known. She had slept most of the time. She had heard that there had been a large warehouse fire and had wondered if he had been called in to work it. She had said several prayers for his safety.
Now it was morning, and despite her fitful sleep, her internal clock was telling her that it was time to wake up.
Rolling out of the bed, she padded to the bathroom. After using the facilities, she was happy to find a comb, a toothbrush and tooth paste at her disposal. While brushing her teeth, she took a hesitant look at her face. The dark circles under her eyes did little to add color to her pale cheeks. Shaking her head, she realized that it could be worse.
Walking back to the bed, she sat down and began to comb out her hair, just as there was a knock at her door. “Are you decent?” She heard Danny say as he slid open the door. His handsome face appeared around the corner of the door, and he faked a frown. “Darn, you are.” Shawn shook her head and smiled. “Good Morning.”
“Good Morning to you.” He sat down next to her and kissed her soundly on the lips. “MMMM, minty fresh.”
Shawnee gigged, and pushed him away. “Look what I’ve created.” She joked.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see you yesterday.” He looked seriously sorry. Shawnee smiled at him, “That’s alright. I heard there was a fire.” Surprised that she had heard, he studied her for a moment, “Yeh.” She couldn’t help but ask, “Everyone make it out ok?” Kissing the top of her head he said “Yes.”
Seeing that he held something in his hand she looked around him in interest. As he hid it further behind his back, she tilted her head seductively and looking out of the corner of her eye said, “What do you have there?”
Looking back over his shoulder, he said, “Oh, just a little something I picked up.” Then looking at her, he pulled a bouquet of daisies from behind his back. ”They reminded me of sunshine. And of you.” He said sweetly.
Shawnee blushed at the compliment, but looked from the flowers to his eyes and thanked him with a kiss. “Thank you Danny.”
“I’ll put them in some water.” he offered. As he filled her water pitcher with more water, he said, “I also brought you a little bag of something.”
Putting the impromptu vase of flowers on her table, he reached down and pulled up a shopping bag. “I, ummm..” he cleared his voice, “ took the liberty of picking up some of your clothing from your townhouse. Rumor has it they are going to spring you today and since your clothes were a little worse for wear…” he smiled at her shocked face and handed her the bag. What he hadn’t told her was that he had talked Jake into letting him accompany him to her townhouse to look for some clue about who was trying to scare her. They hadn’t found much.
Looking up at him she shook her head, “Mister, you are definitely full of pleasant surprises.”
Taking the bag from him, she excused herself and went into the bathroom to change.
Smiling, she opened the bag and found a short sleeve shirt, a pair of shorts, sandals and one of her skimpiest bra and panty sets. She blushed at the thought of him going thru her lingerie drawer and finding them.
Stripping off her hospital gown, she was glad she had taken a shower the night before, and quickly got dressed.
Folding up the gown, she put it in the clothesbasket. Then she glanced at herself in the mirror and feeling relatively sure she looked 80% good, she opened the door.
Danny was standing by the window and turned to look at her. He saw the blush on her cheeks and remembered the pretty under garments he had picked out for her. He had liked what he had seen in her drawer and had taken his time picking out the right one.
“Hi.” She whispered.
He smiled at the husky sound of her voice. “Hi to you.” He replied walking up to her. Running his finger up her arm, he laced it around her collar. Smiling down at her he whispered, “I liked your pretty things.” She blushed, and smiled up at him. “Ahh huh. You must have. I’m pretty sure this particular set was in the very back of that drawer.” She saw his eyes cloud over with desire as he brought his head down to hers.
There was fire behind the kiss and she heard herself sigh as she melted into it. Danny pulled her into his embrace and felt her body mold into his. God she felt good. Perfect. And he knew that a kiss would not be enough to put out the flames he felt building within him.
Lifting his head from hers, he watched her eyes slowly open to look into his, and he saw her desire as well. “I want you.” he said simply. Shawnee blinked, clearing her vision and looked at him clearly. Smiling she nodded. “But damn if our timing doesn’t suck.” Danny tipped his head back and laughed. Kissing her soundly on the lips he smiled down at her. “Lady, you do have a way of telling it like it is.”
“Ah um… Am I interrupting anything?” Kevin was standing at the door smiling.
Putting his arm around her, Danny, smiled at his brother and said, “Not yet.”
Kevin smiled at Shawnee. “How do you feel this morning?” ”Good thank you.” Then she frowned slightly. “What do I owe you for this visit?”
Danny nodded over at his brother. “Don’t worry. He’s with me.” Shawnee looked up at him for an explanation as she stepped out of his embrace.
Danny smiled at her. He had a mischievous look in his eyes and she looked at him suspiciously. “What have you got up your sleeve Mr. O’Brien?”
Kevin laughed, “Can’t put much passed her, can you Danny?”
Danny winked. “Now darlin’ you know you can trust me.” Shawnee folded her arms in front of her and smiled. “Uh huh…”
Danny smiled back, “its Saturday. And since we’re going to spring you from this place we thought you’d like to join us for a little fun.” Her eyebrow moved up a notch.
Kevin shook his head and intervened. “What my little brother is trying say is that we would like to invite you to join us for the annual Fireman/Policeman’s softball game. It’s usually a pretty good time. Lots to eat and drink and all the proceeds go to the Children’s hospital.” Putting on the charm, he smiled adding, “And I would be honored if you accompanied me.”
Danny put a possessive arm around Shawnee and added, “Back off big bro….” then he smiled down at her, “What do you say honey? Is it a date?” he added with a wink.
Shawnee laughed, “Now, how can I possible turn down two charming gentlemen? Thank you. I’d be happy to join you.”
Danny gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Great! Now let’s spring you from this joint.”
An hour later, and after much argument with the nurse on duty, Shawnee was sitting in a camp chair, with a beer in her hand, watching the two teams square off.
Danny had taken great care in establishing that she was his guest, and she couldn’t help but laugh at him. Everyone had heard about ‘the kiss’ and he had been teased since they had shown up at the field. She felt a little embarrassed by it all. But as she watched him take the field, she felt her heart thump. He was an attractive man, and there was something that really pulled her to him. He turned and smiled at her, and her heart did another summersault. The man liked her and that sure made her feel good.
“Mind if we join you?”
Shawnee looked up and saw Officer Smith with a little boy in his arms and another hanging on his leg. “Of course not.” she smiled.
“This,” nodding toward the boy in his arms,” is Tony, and the monkey on my leg would be John Jr. “
“Hi!” she smiled at the boys. Then she saw a very pregnant woman standing behind him.
“This is my wife Milly.” Shawnee smiled at her. “Hello.” She looked down at the woman’s oversized belly and couldn’t help but ask, “Due anytime soon?”
Milly smiled, she like this lady already. “A little less than a month.” She replied.
“Two weeks.” came an answer from behind her, and Shawnee looked around and saw Lieutenant Summers wave, as he joined his teammates.
“He has a couple of bucks riding on the pool at work.” John smiled. “Thinks that just ‘cuz he’s been right twice before that he’ll win again this time around.”
Shawnee smiled and studied the woman who was now sitting besides her, cheering the Police team on. “Less than that. I’d say any day now.” she said, and Milly turned to look at her. Yes, she definitely liked her. “Put her down for less than a week John,” then she winked at her, “my moneys on her.”
Shawnee laughed and turned back toward the game. The Firemen were in the field, having won the coin toss. She saw that Kevin was pitching while Danny was playing shortstop. She watched Danny chatting with the second baseman, and when she caught his eye, the look took her breath away. ‘Man oh man’ she thought. That man was going to be dangerous. Then he shifted his eyes to the plate. Settling back, Shawnee took a sip of her beer and concentrated on the game.
“Hey Ump! Whose payroll are you on?”
Shawnee laughed and handed Milly a bottle of cold water. “He’s going to eject you if you keep that up.” She smiled at her. Milly flushed. “He won’t dare. I know his wife.” She let out another curse and groaned.
Shawnee looked down and saw little Tony standing next to her chair. Picking him up, she sat him on her lap.
“Honey,” Milly reached for her son.
“He’s alright.” Shawnee smiled down at him. He smiled up at her and snuggled up to her. Milly smiled as she saw his lids begin to drift shut. Shawnee smiled back at her and then focused on the game again.
The game was a close one, going into extra innings; and while the competition was fierce, the men also razed each other good-naturedly. It was the top of the eleventh inning and the game was once again tied. The Firemen were up to bat, bases were loaded and Danny was up to bat. He had played well, but had failed to hit his legendary grand slam. Milly had told her that every year he had managed to sneak at least one grand slam into the game, and she was surprised that he hadn’t hit one today. Shawnee looked over at him and hoped that she wasn’t somehow the cause of it. He had chatted with her between every inning, and she had seen him looking over at her several times thru out the game and she didn’t want to be the reason for any lack of concentration.
The first ball was high and away. Danny stepped back and looked over at Shawnee. Tony had fallen asleep on her lap and she had her cheek resting on the top of his head. Their eyes met. “Hit it out of here Handsome.” she whispered. Danny smiled and turned back toward the pitcher.
It was a beautiful sight. Milly was out of her seat screaming- despite the fact that her husbands team had just lost the game. Shawnee smiled and kissed the sleeping Tony on the head as she watched Danny take the bases in a slow jog, receiving high fives from both team members. When they heard a car alarm sound, they knew that the ball had finally fallen out of the sky and she chuckled. She had a suspicion that he had waited for that moment to pull out all the stops, but she couldn’t be sure, so she decided to enjoy the feeling that he had done it for her. Silly she knew, but she liked the idea all the same.
Shawnee watched Danny stride up toward her. He had a twinkle in his eyes that had her smiling.
“Here, I can take him.” Milly reached down and picked up her sleeping son, who wiggled briefly in his mother’s arms before settling back into his nap. “I think another boy is going to want your arms for a moment.” she winked.
Shawnee smiled up at Danny as he pulled her to her feet, “I missed you.” he whispered as he lowered his lips down to hers. The kiss was gentle, but held the promise of more. Tipping her head back, she smiled, “Nice hit.” Looking over his shoulder to where the ball had disappeared, he said, “Yah? Not too bad.” Shawnee stepped back and laughed.
“Hey O’Brien?” one of Danny’s teammates called over to him, “You and your girl coming over to Sweeney’s?” Danny looked back down at Shawnee, “You still feeling up to it?” Nodding, she said, “Sure.” Danny turned and called back, “We’ll see you over there.”
Shawnee turned and started to help Milly gather up her children’s toys. “Will you and the boys be going?”
“For a little while. It’s fun. Did you bring your suit?”
Milly laughed, “Swim suit.”
Looking back up at Danny, Shawnee asked, “ Did I?”
Danny smiled and said, “I’ll go get my gear.”
Milly laughed. ‘That boy is going to get himself into some serious trouble one of these days.” Shawnee smiled and shook her head. “If he hasn’t already.”
Danny was putting his gear bag in the back of the truck when Kevin joined him. “’Your girl’ huh?”
Danny looked over to where Shawnee was helping Milly with the kids. “Sounds pretty good.”
“Danny.” He heard the warning in Kevin’s voice. Turning back to his gear bag, Danny frowned. “I know.” Then he looked over at his brother. “Let’s just find the son of a bitch ok?”
Kevin studied his brother for a moment and saw something in his eyes that he knew meant business. “We’ll get him.”
“Are you boys finished discussing my life, or do I have to remind you that this is suppose to be when you guys take my mind off my troubles?”
The look of guilt that flashed over their faces was priceless, and Shawnee bend over in a fit of laughter. “Oh, that was good.” Milly laughed with her.
“Women!” The bothers agreed, and helped Shawnee with the cooler.
Sweeney, it turned out, was a former Fireman from Danny’s station. He owned a large house on five aches of land just outside of Evanston, Illinois. And he liked to entertain. As tradition would have it, he always invited the players and their families out to his place for a post game celebration. Tents were pitched, the grill was lit and the pool was filled with bodies.
Shawnee felt a little overwhelmed as she was introduced to a number of people, all who had already heard about the kissing episode. Danny had indeed brought one of her bathing suits. The bikini, of course, and Shawnee was ‘encouraged’ to slip into it. Danny led her to the upstairs bathroom, and slipped into the adjacent bedroom to change into his swim trunks.
Shawnee pulled on her suit and stood scrutinizing her appearance. While, the bandage on her head had been down graded to a smaller one, she still had one wrapped around her strained wrist. There was a bruise on the calf of her left leg that was turning a dark purple, and she had bruises on her right thigh and across her lower back.
Reaching for her shorts, she was about to change back into her regular clothes when she heard a knock. “Shawnee? Is everything alright?” Closing her eyes she said, “No. I have to change back into my shorts.” Danny started to open the door, “Can I come in?” She gave up. “If you want.”
Danny caught her eyes in the reflection. “Hi” he said. His voice was husky and she felt her heart turn. As his eyes started to follow her reflection, Shawnee watched his face for some reaction. “You’re beautiful.” he said, his voice was thick with desire. It wasn’t until he reached out to touch her shoulder that he noticed the bruising on her back. “Oh baby.” he said. Feeling self-conscious, she wrapped her arms around her stomach.
“I need to put my clothes back on.”
The look of confusion was instant. “Why?”
Turning around, she faced him. “Danny, I can’t go out like this.”
He could see the sadness that had crept into her eyes. Putting his finger under her chin he lifted her head to look at him. “Shawnee, you’re beautiful. Those are nothing but bruises and believe me honey; they don’t take anything away from that.” Shawnee shook her head. “Shawnee, we’re talking about a bunch of firefighters and policemen. They’ve seen their share of injuries in the past; and Honey, they all know what you’ve just been thru.” Smiling he added. “Trust me. One look at you in that suit and I’ll be beating them back with a stick!”
Shawnee laughed and put her arms around his neck. “Why are you so nice to me?”
“Oh honey, if you haven’t guessed that one yet, then I’m going to have to work a little harder at showing you why.” He drew her up against him and took her lips in a scorching kiss. Shawnee groaned as she felt his hard body pressed up against hers.
“Danny” she breathed his name as his kisses left her mouth and blazed a path down to her neck. His hands were sending quivers of pleasure down her back and she arched to press herself closer to him. She buried her hands into his hair and drew his mouth back up to hers, needing to lose herself again in his kiss.
A sound outside the bathroom door had him groaning in frustration. Shawnee giggled, and he lifted his head to look into her eyes. “Lady, you don’t know what you do to me.” Shawnee smiled and kissed him lightly on the lips again. “Handsome, I know exactly what you do to me and, whew…” she shook her head. Stepping back she smiled at him and said, “Maybe we should join the others before we get too carried away.”
“You are far too practical.” he complained as he picked up her bag and opened the door. Grabbing the towel he had brought for her, she wrapped it around her waist, “I don’t know about that.” She looked shyly into his eyes. “I just don’t want to be interrupted when the time is right.”
Danny tilted his head back and groaned. “You’re going to kill me.”
Laughing, she took his arm and led him down to the party.
She was glad that the party was in full swing when they got down to the pool. Danny’s easy going approach helped her to forget her self-consciousness and she found herself relaxing and enjoying herself. When Danny was grabbed from behind, she turned and laughed as Sweeney said, “It looks to me like Danny Boy could use a little cooling off.” And with the help of a couple of other fireman, he was thrown into the pool. Laughing, Shawnee saluted the man and took a sip of the beer that had been handed her
She yelped in surprise when she was suddenly grabbed from behind. Kevin winked at his brother and said, “This little lady looks like she could use a swim as well.”
“Oh no you don’t.” she warned as Kevin dangled her over the pool.
“She’s just a little thing.” he said to his brother. Sliding her in the water, she laughed up at him. He winked and whispered to her, “I know you shouldn’t get those bandages wet. I was just fooling’ with you.”
Shawnee smiled up at him and laughed when he too was suddenly pushed into the water.
Danny swam up to her and draping his arm around her shoulder, he held her eyes as he took a sip of her beer. “Hey, get your own.” she elbowed him in the side and took her beer back from him. Danny flashed a quick smile; “I’ll be right back.” he promised and pulled himself out of the pool.
Shawnee leaned back against the side and taking another sip of her beer watched as several other guys were tossed into the pool.
Feeling Danny next to her, she looked up at him as he sat down on the side of the pool next to her. She laughed as another man fell victim to the pool patrol.
A whistle sounded and Kevin swam over to retrieve Danny for a game of water volleyball. Asked if she would want to play, Shawnee frowned and held up her bandaged wrist. “Sorry, but I’ll have to sit this one out. Go ahead though. I’ll watch.”
Offering her a hand out of the water, Danny lifted her gently onto the side of the pool. “You ok?” She nodded and smiled up at him. Kissing her, he winked and said, “This shouldn’t take too long.”
Kevin shook his head and laughed.
Three sets later, Danny joined her with a fresh beer for the both of them. “Having fun?” Smiling she nodded and asked, “How long have you been with this group?” Danny looked around for a moment and said, “My whole life.” Tilting her head she looked questioning at him.
“My father was a fireman. So was my granddad. I guess you could say it’s in the blood.” Danny flashed a quick smile. Shawnee held up her beer and clinked it to his. “To firemen.” Clinking his bottle with hers, he looked deep in her eyes, and at that moment, Danny knew. This lady was special. She continued to surprise him with things like that.
Shawnee felt drawn into his gaze, and her heart did another summersault.
Shawnee smiled up at Milly who was holding a plate full of brats and potato salad.
Standing up, Shawnee thanked her and took the plate from her. Then she saw a look pass over Milly’s face and she handed the plate to Danny and grabbed Milly by the arm. “Sit down.” she ordered as Milly suddenly grabbed her stomach.
Danny took one look at Milly’s face and looked around for John. Grabbing his wrist, Shawnee put one hand on Milly’s belly and watched the second hand on his watch.
Milly was breathing thru the contraction, and as it passed, Shawnee smiled at her. “Well, it looks like I may win that bet after all. Danny?”
Danny had taken his watch off and had given it to her. “You need to find John now. And you better call an ambulance as well.”
Danny looked from Milly back to Shawnee. “It’s time Danny.” She said matter- of- factly. Then as another contraction came, she said, “Go!”
Danny didn’t need to be told twice, standing up, he located John, and grabbing his cell phone from his bag, he started to dial 911 as he hurried toward him.
”They said it would be about half an hour before the ambulance gets here.” he informed them. Shawnee looked up at Danny and he could read the urgency in her eyes. “I think we need to move her someplace with a little more privacy.” she said calmly.
Gently lifted by a number of the men, Milly was put in the guest bedroom. Shawnee turned to Danny and said, “Have you ever helped deliver a baby before?” Danny frowned at her. “The ambulance...” Shawnee put her hand on his shoulder and looking in his eyes said. “The ambulance is not going to be here on time.”
“How do you know that?”
Shawnee smiled. “This is what I do Danny. I’m a Midwife. I help deliver babies. Now, is there anyone here who has delivered a baby before?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
Shawnee reached up and kissed him. “She’s going to be fine Danny. She is just going to have her baby here and now.”
Danny found one officer who had delivered a baby in the back of his car and dragged him to the bedroom.
Milly was swearing as another contraction took her. “You’re doing fine Milly.” Shawnee looked over at John who looked a little whiter than she would have liked. “John, I need you to sit behind Milly, and hold her up. OK? “
Doing as he was told, John sat behind his wife and held on to her hands. Turning to Danny, Shawnee asked him to keep an eye on Milly’s pulse, and to let her know if he felt any significant changes. Then Shawnee lifted the sheet and examined Milly again. “Ok, Milly, it’s time to push now. Just one good push ok?” Milly nodded, took a deep breath and pushed.
“Good.” Looked over at Danny, she received a nodded, and then she said, “One more Milly, you can do it.” Milly pushed again.
Shawnee looked up and smiled at Milly and John, “Congratulations,” she said as she produced a crying baby, “You have a beautiful baby girl.”
Handing the baby to her parents, Shawnee looked over at Danny and nodded. Then she concentrated again on the task at hand.
When the ambulance came, Danny stepped out of the room and was handed a beer. “The lady’s full of surprises isn’t she?” Kevin nodded toward her. Danny took a long drink and nodded.
Stepping into the bathroom, Shawnee stripped out of her bathing suit and set it in the sink to soak while she took a quick shower.
Ten minutes later she was clean and dressed back in her shorts. The bandage on her wrist was tossed, and she decided that she would forgo another one. Opening the door, she found Danny waiting for her. He seemed quiet.
“Kevin drove John and the boys to the Hospital to see Milly and the baby.” Shawnee nodded, watching his eyes. “Care if we take off too?” he added. She took the hand that was offered her. “That’s fine.”
After saying their goodbyes, Danny helped Shawnee into the truck and they drove off in silence. Half an hour later, Danny pulled off onto a dirt road and stopped the truck. Turning to her, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. Shawnee was instantly lost in the kiss, caught up in the passion.
Lifting his head, Danny tried to catch his breath. Shawnee opened her eyes and looked deep into his eyes. She would read the desire in his eyes and knew that she wanted to drown in it. Unbuckling her seatbelt, Shawnee reached over and unbuckled his seatbelt as well, and then she opened her door and tugged on his hand in an invitation to join her.
Around them dusk was starting to settle on the valley. He walked up behind her and drew his arms around her. “It’s beautiful out here.” she said softly, enjoying the feel of his arms around her. Kissing the top of her head, he murmured in agreement and then buried his lips in her neck. With the simple kiss, Shawnee felt desire warm thru her. Turning in his arms she looked up at him. “I don’t move fast.” She said, “Neither do I.” he replied as his lips took hers. Desire slammed thru her and she knew that this time would be an exception. Stepping back, she locked his gaze in hers as she started to unbutton his shirt and smiled, “I don’t think ‘slow’ is going to be an option either.” And she drew his head down to her lips.
“I want to touch you.” she whispered as she took his lips with a kiss that left his knees week. Her light touch brought a moan to his lips and he pulled her once again into his arms and captured her lips in his. They were caught up in the passion instantly.
Stepping back, Shawnee looked at him as she pulled to tee shirt over her head and as she started to unbuckle her shorts she was awarded with another moan. “Let me.” he pleaded, as his fingers softly ran down her stomach. Shawnee’s breath caught in her throat as her eyes began to cloud over with desire and she felt herself sway toward him.
Reaching for his shirt, she pulled it off his arms, needing to feel the touch of his skin. When he pulled her shorts down past her hips, she had to hold on to his shoulders for support as her knees started to buckle from desire. And when he kissed the triangle of material she gave into the desire and allowed him to gently guide her down to the grass.
Fumbling with his belt, she heard him mutter a curse and he sat up and quickly disposed of the barrier. Shawnee moaned with delight when her eyes were finally permitted to feast on his beautiful body. “Danny” she breathed his name as his hand brushed her bra aside to kiss her soft mounds. His hands sending tantalizing quivers down her body as he explored her body. His mouth leaving a trail of heat in its wake.
“God, you’re beautiful.” he said as he gazed into her eyes again.
Shawnee felt her belly tighten with anticipation and she reached up and drew his head down to her lips, and she was lost in his kiss. She could feel his body tighten in response. “Shawnee, “he lifted his mouth from hers and looked deep into her eyes. “I want you.”
Shawnee held his eyes as she reached for him, and guided him into her. His eyes clouded over when she wrapped her legs around him and they moved together to nature’s beat.
Drawing her up in his arms, he murmured her name as he felt her tighten around him and watched as her passion took her over the edge, and carried him with her.
Kissing her shoulder, he wasn’t sure he could move, but feeling the chill of the night air, he reached for his shirt, he draped it around them. Shawnee turned her head and looked into his eyes and smiled. “Ok, wow!” she whispered. Danny chuckled. “Lady, you do have a way with words.” Kissing her deeply, he drew back and studied her face. “You ok?”
Shawnee nodded and reached up to bring his mouth back down to hers. Danny moaned. “Lady, we better move this indoors or we’re going to end up with a brush fire.”
Sitting up, he pulled her into a sitting position and put his shirt on her before handing her shorts to her.
After sliding into his jeans, he picked up her ‘pretty things’ and slid them into his pocket winking at her. Taking her hand, he led her back to the truck and helped her into her seat.
When he got in behind the wheel, she slid over and leaned her head on his shoulder. Buckling them both in, he drove carefully back to his house.
He had barely parked his truck when her hands began a slow exploration of his torso. She had been itching to touch him the entire ride back but she hadn’t wanted to distract his driving. Unbuckling her seat belt, she looked up and caught his gaze as she drew a line down his chest and flicked open the button of his jeans. Smiling, she leaned over and kissed him. “I may need a little help with this.” she glanced down, indicating his jeans.
With a groan, he took her face into his hands and kissed her deeply. “Lady, I may need a little help just walking right now. But if you can wait just a couple of minutes, I’d be very happy to oblige.”
Opening his door, he reached for her and with their hands linked together he led her into his house. Closing the door behind them, he reached for her and together they began peeling off their clothes. Naked, he lifted her into his arms and carried her to his bed.
Laying her down he stood up and gazed down at her. “This time we do it my way.” he said as he lay down next to her. “Slowly.” Taking her face into his hands he kissed her gently on the lips, and then gently teased her lips apart with his tongue and explored the warmth. It was a slow kiss, one mean to slowly warm her desire, but he could tell she was already hot. Chuckling, he looked into her eyes as he allowed his fingers to find her and slid them in. “Ok honey, maybe not too slow.” he whispered as he took her lips, swallowing her cry of pleasure. She came quickly, and as her hips pistoned against his hand, he fought back his own screaming desires until he couldn’t wait any longer. Moving over her, he quickly slid his fingers from her and as she cried out her regret, he slid his full length into her and she arched up to meet him as he found his own release.
Danny heard someone pounding on his door and he decided that nothing in this world was going to drag him out of Shawnee’s embrace.
They had come together again in the middle of the night and they had taken a slower pace, and she had surprise him. Showing him a new reality of slow. Kissing her shoulder, he smiled at the thought of waking with her snuggled close. “Danny!” He heard his brother’s voice, this time in the house. “Shit.” He cursed as Shawnee giggled. “Danny! Get the hell up, Shawnee’s missing.” Kevin’s stormed into the room. Upon seeing the two tangled up in the sheets, he cursed. “Shit. Sorry. Shit.” he said again as he turned and left the room. Shawnee giggled again as Danny dragged himself out of the bed and pulled his shorts on. “I’m glad you find this funny.” he grumbled as he left the room. Shawnee laughed again and stretched. She felt damn good she decided. Sitting up she tried to remember what had happened to her clothing. Hearing the boy’s voices starting to rise, she decided to grab whatever was handy and get in to the kitchen before tempers really started to flare.
Wearing Danny’s boxers and a button up shirt, she made her way to the kitchen and leaning up against the door jam, took in the scene. “Didn’t Mom teach you to knock?” Danny was saying, standing toe to toe with his older brother. “Well, if you had the sense….” “Good Morning” Shawnee said to the two men. Kevin took in her appearance and glanced over at Danny, who was also appreciating the view. “Umm… Good Morning.” He finally replied. Shawnee laughed, and straightening from the door started toward the refrigerator. “Would you like some coffee and maybe something for breakfast?” Kevin smiled and looked at his brother. “Boy, if you don’t marry her I will.” Shawnee shook her head and laughed. “Have a seat.” Opening the refrigerator, she started to take out some items when Danny walked up behind her. Wrapping his arms around her he kissed her neck. “Good Morning” he whispered. Shawnee turned her head and looked seductively at him. “Good Morning.” “You look good.” he added. Smiling, she said, “So do you. I hope you have some coffee, or I’m going to look pretty silly.” Reaching past her, he grabbed a brown bag. “Now you just look pretty.”
“Sit.” she ordered and took the coffee beans from him.
Coffee was soon brewed and poured as Kevin explained that he and Jake stopped by her place to ask a few more questions, and when she wasn’t there, they had started making the rounds. Kevin’s first stop had been Danny’s place. He had tried to call. ‘Several times’ he added but no one picked up, so he had headed on over. Shawn was about to ask what questions they were going ask her when Kevin’s phone rang. “O’Brien.” He frowned and stood up and nodded to Danny. Shawnee knew that look, and pulled the eggs off the stove. Pulling two paper towels off the roll, she made two eggs sandwiches with the toast she had just buttered and wrapped them up in the towels, just as Kevin was hanging up the phone. Handing them to the men, she said, “Here, at least you can eat these on your way.” Kevin smiled and said, “Will you marry me?” This got him a shove from his brother. “She’s spoke for.” he grunted and then addresses her, “How did you know?”
Shawnee caught the questioning look in his eyes, “My families in the business.” she said briefly. “Go! Be safe!” She nodded toward the door. Danny wanted to press the issue but knew that he didn’t have the time. Grabbing her to him, he kissed her, and then in a soft voice said, “I won’t be too long. Take a nap. But whatever you do, don’t change out of that outfit. I’d like to do that for you.”
Shawnee laughed and kissed him soundly on the lips. “Maybe.”
As he was closing the door, he heard her say, “Please keep them safe.”
He caught Kevin’s glance. “I know.” Was all he said as they headed for the fire.
Shawnee finished saying a quick prayer for their safety and then took a look around the room. It could use a woman’s touch she decided and rolling up her sleeves went to work cleaning up the kitchen.
Half and hour later, she stepped into a hot shower. She needed this she told herself and relaxed under the warmth. She allowed herself to take a long shower, and half an hour later, as she was stepping out of the shower, she heard her cell phone ringing, grabbing a robe that was hanging next to the shower; she stepped into the bedroom and answered it on the third ring. “Hello?” Happy that she had beat her answering service. “Shawnee?” She heard a man’s voice on the other end. “Yes?” “You won’t be so lucky next time.” Her heart seemed to stop, and then he hung up.
Shawnee stared at the phone for a moment, and then she reached for her purse. Grabbing a pen and paper, she wrote down the number she still saw displayed on her cell phone. Then the pulled out the card that had been given to her two days earlier and using Danny’s phone, called the number on the card.
“Lieutenant Summers.” Jake was busy writing up a report when he answered the phone, but the voice drew his full attention. “He just called me” he heard Shawnee voice shaking on the other end. “Slow down Shawnee, and tell me what happened.” “I just got a call on my cell phone. It was him. The number was 304-307-1404. At least that’s the number on my display.”
“Where are you?” He could hear her voice cracking. “I’m at Danny’s house.” She whispered into the phone. “Stay where you are,” he ordered, “I’ll be right there.”
Hanging up, he handing the phone number to his partner and said, “Get this guy.” and then he dialed Kevin’s cell number.
“O’Brien.” “Where’s Danny?” Jake demanded. Kevin frowned into the phone, “He’s right here.”
“Get him home. Now! Strausman just called Shawnee.”
After Jake had hung up, Shawnee started to shake. Sliding down to the floor, she pulled her knees up to her chest and buried her face in her arms trying to control the shaking.
It seemed like forever before she heard the front door slam open and her name being called out. “Shawnee?” Danny rushed from the kitchen thru the living room and into the bedroom. He found her sitting on the floor.
Shawnee looked up, and he saw the fear in her eyes. Kneeling down in front of her, he fought the urge to pull her to him. He didn’t know how she was going to react to being touched. “I can’t stop shaking.” she whispered. Putting his hands on her arms, he gently caressed her with his thumbs. She was shaking like a leaf.
Jake arrived a moment later. When he walked in the room, Shawnee turned to him and nodded toward the bed. “My cell phone is right there.”
Jake picked it up and knelt down next to her. “You did good Shawnee.” Shawnee blinked back the tears that now threatened to spill over. “I need you to tell me exactly what he said to you.” Taking a shaky breath, she closed her eyes and relayed the phone conversation to him. “But I don’t know him.” She swallowed back her tears. “I don’t have any new clients right now. I don’t even have any potential clients right now.” Then she looked up at Danny. “Why is this happening? I don’t understand.”
”I know honey.” He held her close and rocked her as she finally gave in to her tears. Looking over at Jake, Danny wanted some answers too. Jake saw the look and nodded. Standing up, he handed Shawnee’s cell phone to the officer that had accompanied him, with instructions to find out whatever they could. Then looking back, he asked Shawnee. “Who all has access to this phone number?” Catching her breath, she pulled back from Danny’s embrace, and looked up at Jake. “Friends, family, a few clients.” She took a deep breath. “I have an answering service for my business, and they forward calls to my cell number. Otherwise it’s an unlisted number.”
“I’m going to need a list of those people.”
Shawnee nodded in agreement. Then she closed her eyes and said, “I suppose I’ll have to notify my family now too.” Shaking her head, “Damn, I hate to worry them.”
Jake had been looking down at his notebook, flipping back a few pages. Looking back at her he frowned. “You haven’t contacted your Father yet?”
He had been surprised that he hadn’t gotten that particular call yet. Shawnee looked up at him and could see by the look on his face that he already knew who her father was.
Danny saw the look in Jake’s eyes, “Who’s your father Shawnee?”
Shawnee closed her eyes briefly. Then looked directly into Danny’s eyes. “Robert Keegan.”
“The Commissioner?” Kevin asked from the doorway. Shawnee kept her eyes on Danny and tried to smile, “I told you my family is in the business.”
Danny and Kevin exchanged glances. “Shit” was all he said as he gathered her close again.
She had barely gotten dressed when she heard the commotion in the living room. Word sure traveled fast.
”Where the hell is my daughter?” Commissioner Keegan was fuming. “I want an explanation damn it!”
Shaking her head, she opened the bedroom door and stood looking at her father. Danny and Kevin were both standing at attention, receiving a thorough dressing down. “I don’t think it’s very polite to yell at the men who saved your daughter’s life.”
Robert Keegan turned and stared at his daughter, taking in the bandage on her head, the black and blue circles under her eyes… Then he walked up to her. “Why didn’t you call me sooner? Scratch that, why didn’t you call me at all?” He demanded.
Shawnee tilted her head and smiled up at her father. “Because I didn’t want to worry you.”
“Damn it girl. I’m your father. I’m supposed to worry about you.” he said as he took her into his arms. “How are you doing?”
Shawnee sighed and said, “I’m fine Daddy. Just scared.” She said honestly.
Kissing the top of her head, he turned and sat her down on the sofa, and then turned to the two men who were standing at attention. “At ease” he said without thinking, and Shawnee smiled. Her father may be a fireman, but he still ran his team like the military man he once was.
Jake chucked from where he stood in the corner, until Commissioner Keegan turned his attention to him. “And you, I want a full report. Now!”
While Jake didn’t fall under the Commissioner’s jurisdiction, he felt it was right to give him a full briefing.
After he had heard the update, Commis. Keegan addressed his daughter. On his way over to Danny O’Brien’s house he had made several phone calls and had learned some of what had happened. “Any idea what this guy wants Shawnee?” Shawnee shook her head, “Not a clue.”
Nodding, he then turned his attention to Danny O’Brien. He had heard about the kiss, and the fact that his daughter was now at Danny’s house concerned him. He had heard good things about the man, but he was still weary of anyone dating his daughter. “Where do you fit into all of this?” he asked him directly.
Shawnee sighed; she should have seen that one coming. “Dad, Danny’s the man who saved my life.” “Yes, I heard about that.” Then he turned back to his daughter. “I also heard something about you kissing the man while he was still on duty.” Shawnee laughed then, and said “I had to thank the man Dad!” “Huh huh.” Her father replied skeptically.
Standing, Commis. Keegan turned back to face Danny and extended him his hand. “I do want to thank you for saving my daughter’s life O’Brien.” Danny took his hand and felt the grip tighten. “She means the world to me and I don’t want to see her hurt.” the Commissioner added. Danny looked him in the eye and read his meaning. Nodding, he met his look. “Neither do I sir.” he replied and applied equal pressure to the handshake.
Keegan studied the man and nodded.
“Shawnee, why don’t you get your things? You can stay with your mother and I until this mess is cleared up.”
Shawnee had taken in the little exchange between the two men and had felt somehow comforted by it. Standing up, she folded her arms in front of her, as she regarded her father’s suggestion. “I really don’t think so Dad. But thanks.”
“Ms. Keegan,” Jake saw that it was clear he would need to explain the severity of the situation.
Shawnee shook her head and stopped him. “Lieutenant, I may be frightened, but I’m not going to let some lunatic drive me out of my home. And I’m certainly not going to endanger my family trying to hide there.” Looking around the room she saw that she was going to get the same argument from every man there. “Don’t even start with me.” She warned them.
Turning back into the bedroom, she grabbed her purse and then kissed her Father on the cheek. “Tell Mom that I’ll call her later.” she said as she ushered him toward to door. “Shawnee,”
She cut him off. “No Dad. This is precisely why I didn’t call you. I need to take care of this on my own.”
Then she turned to the Lieutenant. “I’ll get you that list you requested. In the mean time, I’ll keep in touch.”
Ignoring the frown he received from the Commissioner, Danny walked up to her and took her by the shoulders. “Shawnee, I think it would be a good idea if you reconsidered your father’s offer.” he said diplomatically.
Shawnee smiled at him, and touched her hand to his cheek. “I know. There are a lot of things I’d like to do, but I can’t.” she said simply, as she stepped closer to him and kissed him softly on the lips. “Keep safe Danny.” Stepping from his embrace, she nodded to Kevin and stepped past her Father out of the house.
Danny and Keegan eyes locked and Keegan read something in the man’s eyes that he had to respect. “Whatever you need to do son.” he said as he stepped out of his way.
Danny nodded and said, “I’ll keep her safe sir.”
Catching up to her, he twirled her around and picked her up into a fireman’s carry.
“Danny, put me down.”
“I will.” Danny put her in his truck and scooted her over to the passenger seat. Getting in, he quickly switched the automatic door locks on.
“Very funny.” She said, trying not to get upset about his over- zealous behavior. As he pulled away from the curb he nodded at the three men now standing in the doorway of his house. Shawnee turned and said, “I hope you are planning on dropping me off at my townhouse. Because if you aren’t, this could be considered kidnapping.” Danny flashed a quick smile but failed to make a comment. Settling back in her seat she decided that she shouldn’t panic just yet. But when he turned on to the highway, she felt her temper rising. “Danny.” She said in a warning voice. Danny glanced over at her. “Fasten your seatbelt Shawnee.” he ordered and then he reached over and turned the volume up on his radio. He knew better than to listen to what she had to say. He might break down and change his mind if she started to use any of those techniques that women were so good at using to get what they wanted.
Shawnee stared at him as he passed another car. Fastening her seatbelt, she sat back and let her anger build. He would have to stop sometime and by then she just might be ready to kill him.
They had been on the road for over two hours when her eyes began to droop down. God, she was tired. She wanted to curl up and go to sleep, but she fought the urge to close her eyes. It really was a dirty trick she decided. She always had had trouble staying awake on long drives. And today was no exception. Several times she had felt herself nod off, only to be woken when her head nodded down to her chest.
Flashing him an angry look, she wanted to scream for him to stop. But he hadn’t said another word to her since they had started off. She had no idea where he was taking her. She knew that they had headed south, and then east, but she had lost track of what state they were in.
Her eyes burned and her head was beginning to pound again. Closing her eyes, she told herself that she would just rest her eyes for a moment.
Two hours later, Danny pulled down the dirt road that lead to his family’s hunting shack. It was a well-guarded secret that he felt sure would give them a safe place to stay until this mess was cleared up. Glancing over at Shawnee, he noted that she was still deep in her sleep. She looked so tired. But he knew that when she woke, she would be fuming mad. The woman had a stubborn streak in her that put others to shame. Shaking his head, he concentrated on the road again, careful not to miss the turn off.
Sitting up, Shawnee tried to get her bearings. She was still in the truck, but it had stopped. Blinking away the sleep from her eyes, she jumped when Danny got back in the truck and started it moving again. Looking around she saw that they were in a dense forest. Ahead of them was a small dirt road, or what had once been a road. It was covered over with vegetation, and they bumped along, barely keeping on the covered track. Turning a corner, Danny slowed down and then Shawnee saw a small log cabin. “Where have you taken me?” she whispered. The view was spectacular. Behind the cabin, she could see a large mountain range rising up, and below it, a pristine mountain lake. It looked like something out of a national geographic magazine.
Stopping the truck, Danny braced himself for the fight, but one look at Shawnee and he knew he would have to wait. She was caught up in the beauty, and he had no intention of spoiling the moment for her. Slowly turning down the music, he switched off his ignition and let the sounds of the forest close in around them. Reaching for her seatbelt, Shawnee unbuckled herself and opened her door. She walked passed the cabin and stood at the top of the hill, which overlooked the lake. She was mesmerized by the beauty and all she could think about, was taking it all in.
She felt him move behind her and she closed her eyes. “Damn it Danny.” she whispered. Opening her eyes again, she blinked back the tears that she felt building behind her lashes. Danny put his arm around her shoulder and stood looking at the beauty with her. “I shouldn’t be here.” She finally said. “I can’t risk getting you hurt.” Danny turned her to face him, and tilted her chin up to look at him. “You belong here Shawnee.” She started to pull her head back but he held her face in his hands, “and you are a risk I’m willing to take.” he whispered as he took her lips with a gentle kiss.
Shawnee breathed him in. He did make her feel safe. He had since she had first opened her eyes and looked into the blue depth of his eyes. Despite her uncertainties, she trusted him.
Opening her eyes, she looked deep into his eyes again. “Trust me Shawnee.” he whispered, not wanting to break the connection he felt so sure they were building. Smiling she leaned her forehead on his and said, “I do Danny. I can’t explain it, but I do trust you.”
Turning her head, she looked again at the beauty. “What is this place?”
Danny looked out at the valley and smiled. “Beautiful isn’t it. We’re in Kentucky, believe it or not. My family owns this land, and the hunting shack behind us.” Then he pulled her back and looked into her eyes. “And no one but my family knows about it. “ He chuckled. “Not even Jake knows about it.”
”I do.” She smiled up at him.
Kissing the top of her head, he said, “Well, you’re practically family.” When she stiffened he laughed, “Hell, Kevin practically asked you to marry him when you made us breakfast, remember?”
Shawnee looked up at him and felt her heart do a summersault in her chest. She knew she was falling for him. Correction had fallen for him. She couldn’t deny it no matter how impossible it seemed. What to do about it was another thing all together. ‘Enjoy the moment’ she thought, and smiled that the solution seemed so clear.
“What?” Danny asked when he saw her smile.
Shawnee shook her head, “I’m just…” she looked up into his eyes. “Happy.”
Danny took her in his arms and hugged her. “You know what?” Shawnee smiled into his chest, “What?” “Me too.”
Taking a deep breath she stepped out of his embrace and looked over at the cabin. “So, what now?” Danny winked and received a light slap on the chest. “Ok, we’ll get to that later. Would you like a tour of the shack?”
The ‘shack’ was pretty much just that. One large room held a well furnished kitchen with a center isle with two stools, a large dining room table with six chairs and a large living room/bedroom area that had a fireplace, two pull out sofas and a coffee table. There was also a small bathroom that thankfully had a shower installed. Despite its spare appearance it looked warm and comfortable.
Danny waited for her response. He had taken a chance that she wouldn’t be the kind of woman who required the four star hotel treatment, but he couldn’t be sure. Her smile told him that he hadn’t been mistaken. “I like it.” she finally said. “Lady, I may just have to ask you to marry me.” She laughed, “I also like the four star hotel treatment.” She warned, obviously aware of his thoughts.
Danny laughed and walked up to the refrigerator. “Hungry?” “Starving. Are you offering to cook dinner? “She said as she sat down at the counter. “Yep. Assuming we have something to fix. Kevin was just up here last weekend, so there should be some provisions.” Danny took a quick perusal of the contents in both the refrigerator and the freezer and proclaimed. “We are in luck. How does Pasta punteneska sound?” “Dangerous.” When he started to defend himself, she smiled and added, “Dangerously good.”
“There’s some wine if you’d like some.”
While Danny threw together the meal, Shawnee opened a bottle of Merlot and poured them each a glass. Sipping the wine, she slowly walked around the cabin, taking in the various photos and artwork. Occasionally she’d ask a question about a photo. When it was taken, or where. When she found an old fashion record player, she plopped herself down and found an album and put it on the turntable. It was an old Nat King Cole album and she turned to look at Danny, who was testing the sauce. Smiling, she got up and walked over to him, setting her glass down on the counter, she reached for him, “Dance with me.” she whispered. Danny took her hand and led her to the center of the room and started to dance a slow waltz as “Unforgettable’ started to play. It felt good to be in his arms and she enjoyed the gentle sway of his hips as he guided her around the room. When the song ended, Danny kissed her gently on the lips. “Thank you.” she whispered, still caught up in the magic of the song. “Any time honey.” he said, and then twirled her toward the kitchen. “Dinner will be ready in another minute or two if you want to sit down.”
Taking their glasses to the table, she was pleased to see that he had set the table and had even lit a candle.
The dinner was spectacular. Shawnee couldn’t help but moan with pleasure with nearly every bite. By the time the dinner was over, Danny was taking her hand and leading her to the sofa. “Lady, you don’t know what you do to Me.” he said as he lowered her down and devoured her mouth.
Passion and need slammed thru him as he took her mouth, and she rose up to meet his demands. Clothes were shed and they came together quickly. Each needing to satisfy their hunger with an urgency that left them both breathless.
Lying in his arms in the aftermath of their lovemaking, Shawnee kissed his shoulder. “I liked the desert.” she smiled at him as he ran his finger down her hip. “MMM. Me too.” he took her hand and kissed her fingertips. Her heart somersaulted again. “Danny,” Propping herself up on one elbow, she looked into his eyes “I have to warn you about something.” He studied her face and brushed her hair from her forehead. Brushing his thumb over the frown that had formed on her brow, he said, “What’s wrong honey?”
Shawnee swallowed back her apprehension. “I think I’m falling in love with you.” she said and held her breath waiting for his response. She was taking a gamble, but she knew it would best to throw the dice now and loose, then to wait until she fell too hard for him.
Danny felt his heart swell and smiled. “You make that sound like a bad thing.” he whispered as he kissed her lightly on the lips. Then he looked deep into her eyes, “Shawnee, I have to warn you too.” he waited a heart beat, then smiled, “I’m falling in love with you too….and I definitely don’t think that’s a bad thing.” He added as he drew her head down and covered her mouth with a passionate kiss. Gazing into her eyes, he could see the love and the caution in her eyes. “I don’t want anything to happen to you Danny.” She closed her eyes, “I’m so frightened about what is happening.”
Danny waited for her to open her eyes again, and then he said, “Shawnee, I love you. You’re just going to have to trust that I’ll keep us both safe honey. You have my word on that.”
Touching his cheek, Shawnee looked into his eyes and nodded. “I trust you Danny. “And then shaking her head in wonder. “I love you. I honestly love you.”
Taking her in his arms, Danny drew her head back down to rest on his shoulder and smiled. “I love you Shawnee.”
They lay snuggled in each other’s arms. Quietly enjoying just being with each other. Danny knew he was in love with her. There really was no question about it. It was the speed of the realization had surprised him, but he knew in his heart that it was an honest feeling.
When her arm slipped off the edge of the sofa, he realized that she had fallen asleep and he shifted to gently lay her down on the sofa. Covering her with a blanket, he kissed her gently on the cheek before pulling on his clothes and walking into the kitchen to start cleaning up the mess he had created.
He knew that she hadn’t gotten much sleep since the accident, and she was obviously exhausted.
Quietly putting the dishes in the dishwasher, he put the pot into some soapy water to soak and then left the cabin.
Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone and called his brother. “Hey Kev. I’d like you to run a check on something for me.”
“What do you got?” Kevin said on the other end of the phone.
“It’s just a hunch, but …I’d like to you find out what the Commissioner is currently involved in.”
“You think he’s the target?” Kevin could see where Danny was heading. “Maybe someone thinks that shaking up his little girl is going to get things rolling.”
“I’ll see what I can do. I’ll have to call Jake on this too. He may have better luck then me.” Danny nodded into the phone. “Do whatever you have to do.”
“How’s she doing?” Kevin asked quietly. “She’s going to be alright.” Danny said more to himself than to his brother.
“Danny?” Kevin had to ask, “Are you falling for her?”
Danny chuckled, “Head over heels bro. Head over heels.”
“What does Shawnee think about that?”
Danny looked back toward the cabin and smiled. “You want to be the best man?”
Kevin smiled, “Ask me again that when this mess is over with. Keep in touch and Danny, keep you both safe.”
“I will Kevin. I’ve made a promise to the lady that I don’t intend to break.”
Hanging up, Danny walked to his truck and reaching into the back seat drew out the 35 MM he kept there. Checking the clip, he slid it into his jacket and went back into the cabin.
Opening her eyes, Shawnee was awarded by the sight of Danny sitting in front of the fireplace. He was busy setting a fire, carefully placing each log into a teepee. “Do you have any marshmallows?” Danny turned and smiled at her. “I think we might.”
Stretching, Shawnee picked up the shirt she had taken off of Danny earlier and slipping her arms thru it, then she went in search of the treats.
Danny couldn’t help but watch her. She was so beautiful. And his shirt never looked as good as it did on her near naked body. Warming to the thought of coming together with her again, had him hurrying with his fire preparations.
When she joined him by the fire, she handed him the marshmallows and started opening the chocolate bars. Looking up, her breath caught in her throat. “Shawnee” he barely said her name and he had her in his arms, his hands clumsy over the buttons of his shirt as he tried to take it off of her. He felt like a teenage boy, he was that hot for her. She laughed at his urgency, trying not to get caught off guard by her own sudden rush of desire. “I need to touch you.” he bit her shoulder as he pulled the shirt off of her. “Danny.” She too was lost in the passion and they tumbled back onto the floor. He took her quickly, ravishing her without thought. Moments later, he cursed. “I’m so sorry.” he said, “I didn’t hurt you did I?”
Shawnee was still trying to catch her breath when his apology reached her. “Sorry? For what?”
Sitting up he grabbed the blanket off the sofa and started to cover her. “I took you. I didn’t even ask. I just took.” He said. He was embarrassed by his behavior. Shawnee pushed the blanket away and sat up. Touching his cheek, she said. “You have nothing to be sorry for Danny.”
Then smiling she pushed him back and said, “But if you want to atone for your behavior, then it’s definitely my turn to take.” She looked into his eyes and he could read her desire. Smiling he opened his arms and said, “Please do.”
“I thought you’d never ask.” she said as she leaned down and kissed the dark path that lead to his navel and beyond. His breath caught in his throat and his head fell back as he once again slipped under the sweet blanket of desire. Reaching for her, he wanted to stop her, but she grabbed his hands and held them down at his sides. Lifting her head she looked up at him. “It’s my turn, and I’m going to take you my way.” She knew that he could easily over power her, but she also felt sure that he would ride the course that she had set. She tasted him again, and when his hands balled into fists she crawled over him and joined with him. It was only then that she finally released his hands to allow him to reach for her hips as their passion took over.
“I want to know where my Daughter is!” Keegan demanded once more. Jake and Kevin stood before him in his office and continued to decline to answer.
“If you would just answer a few more questions Commissioner Keegan, I’m sure we can get to the bottom of all of this and have your daughter back home to you before too long.”
Commissioner Keegan ran a hand thru his hair and motioned for the two men to sit down.
Turning to his phone, he called his secretary and told her that he was not to be disturbed.
Then he looked at the photo of his daughter before focusing on the Lieutenant’s questions.
Jake had agreed with Kevin that there had to be a connection between the threats on Shawnee’s life and something that the Commissioner was involved in. He also agreed that Kevin may have ran up against a stone wall if he were to make inquires.
Kevin noticed the Commissioner’s obvious concern for his daughter and said, “Sir, I want to assure you that your daughter has been taken someplace very safe. Danny has assured me that he will keep it that way.” Keegan turned his attention to Kevin. “I’ve done my research son. I know that your brother has received several medals of accommodation and valor. But there is a lunatic out there looking for my daughter. A well paid lunatic, I might add, and I don’t like the idea of not knowing where she is.”
“The secrecy of the location is vital Sir.” Jake took over again. “The fewer people who know where your daughter and Danny are, the better. To be perfectly frank sir, we have reason to believe that your daughter is not the final target.”
Now he had the Commissioner’s attention. “You think the son of a bitch is planning to get at me thru my daughter?” Jake studied the man a moment before continuing. “We have been going over your recent campaign contributions. There have been several large contributions from a company called,” Jake consulted his notes again “August Productions.” Looking back up at the Commissioner he asked, “What can you tell me about them?”
Keegan frowned at the name. “August Productions. I believe that is an organization ran by a man by the name of Hickok. Joseph Hickok. August Productions is a vacation resort company. They have outfits through out the Northern suburbs, offering timeshare condos and townhouse on Lake Michigan and throughout Cook County. “Leaning forward he added, “Now, you tell me what I don’t know.”
Jake and Kevin exchanged glances. “My research tells me that Mr. Hickok also has a strong interest in the railroad. Most specifically, the land that the railroad currently owns.”
Keegan sat back in his chair and drummed his fingers on the arms of his chair, “Continue”
Jake watched Keegan’s face for some change as he added, “You are currently investigating several possible alternatives for the use of that land.”
Keegan stood up and leaned over his desk toward Jake. “Are you suggesting that I am taking a bribe Lieutenant?” Jake studied the man before shaking his head. “Not anymore sir.” He said honestly. “But perhaps Mr. Hickok is about to request a favor of you.”
When they left the Commissioner’s office, Jake and Kevin felt sure that the Commissioner would cooperate with the sting operation they were planning on setting.
On the drive back to the station, Kevin turned to Jake. “You don’t exactly look like a man about ready to make a major bust.”
Jake shook his head. “Getting Hickok isn’t the end of it.” He said, and then he looked over at Kevin. “Strausman prides himself on his record. If Hickok’s already paid him to kill Ms. Keegan, he won’t stop until he’s finished what he’s started.”
It was 8:00 pm. Most of the offices in the building that housed the Commissioners office were of dark. The only lights were on the seventh floor where the Commissioner was waiting for his last meeting of the day. The only other occupants were the dozen police officers and FBI agents who were waiting for the signal.
Jake and Officer Smith were also there, waiting with FBI agent Monroe. Commissioner Keegan’s office had been wired taped, and the Commissioner himself had been fitted with the latest undetectable wire taping devices. They weren’t going to risk him being caught. If Hickok brought Strausman along as suspected, they weren’t going to risk the Commissioner’s life. Strausman would be suspicious and FBI agent Monroe had warned the Commissioner that he may be asked to be searched. The Commissioner had been instructed to act indignant, but to submit to the search. He was assured that the bug would not be found.
With the basics of what they needed Hickok to agree to being laid out, they were leaving it in the Commissioner’s hands not to blow it. The man was understandably upset by the attempts on his daughter’s life, but being a military man; Jake and Monroe were convinced that he would play his part out as planned.
At 8:15 pm, a black Mercedes limo pulled into the underground parking lot. All units were informed and were to remain alert. The first report came back that only Mr. Hickok had emerged from the vehicle. Once he was in the elevator, an undercover police officer approached the limo. Disguised as a maintenance worker, he knocked on the window and asked if the man could move the limo, explaining that they were going to resurface the parking lot. Instructed to move the vehicle to the other elevator bank, they then moved in and arrested the man. He was not Strausman as they had hoped, but he would be held for questioning all the same.
Meanwhile up on the seventh floor, Hickok has been monitored since he entered the elevator. He had not made any calls, nor did he indicate that he is wearing a wire. It was also noted that he hadn’t any hint of suspicion. He was a shrewd man, so they aren’t taking any chances. The infer-red camera they have installed in the elevator reveals no weapons.
At 8:19 pm, Hickok exited the elevator and after a brief pause to verify his directions, he turned left to approach the Commissioners offices.
Knocking briefly on the outer door, he was invited in. The officers who are in the vicinity closed in.
“Good evening Mr. Hickok, if you don’t mind, I just have to finish this last email and then I can devote my attention to our meeting.”
Robert Keegen finished typing the letter he had composed to his daughter and hit the send button. He had wanted to keep an even keel on his emotions and had decided to send a quick email with a shared joke to his daughter. This, he hoped, would put him in the right humor for the task before him.
“Thank you for waiting. Can I get you anything? Water, coffee?”
“No I’m fine.” Hickok replied and then took the seat in front of the Commissioners desk.
“I’d like to thank you for meeting me at such a late hour.” the Commissioner continued, “As you can imagine with the election around the corner I’ve been burning a little of the midnight oil.” Keegan forced a smile on to his lips. Hickok didn’t seem to notice, and laughed, “I can imagine. I must say that I don’t envy your position Commissioner. Election time must be the pits.”
“You could say that.” Looking down at his notes, he added, “If you don’t mind, I have quite a bit more to accomplish before I can call it a night, so I would like to get down to business. I see here in my notes that you had a question regarding the zoning in area 14.”
“Yes, you could say that.” Hickok replied. Keegan looked up and waited for the man to continue. He knew that he could not direct the conversation to exact a confession; the bastard would have to hang his own noose. “Go on.” he simply prompted.
Leaning forward, Hickok smiled, “Commissioner, I think we both know why I’m here.” Keegan blinked and looked back down at his notes. “I’m sorry Mr. Hickok, but my notes aren’t that clear. I have a lot of businesses and interest groups making requests and I have a hard time keeping them all straight. You are going to have to be more specific.”
Hickok laughed, “Ok, Commissioner. I’ll cut you a break. I have a special interest in Area 14, and considering my rather sizable contribution to your current election funds, I would think that you could see clear to umm, shall we say, granting me full access to the property.”
“Mr. Hickok, I’m sure that you can understand that such a request is highly in appropriate.”
The Commissioner tried to sound somewhat shocked.
Hickok then turned serious. “I mean business Commissioner. Tell me. How is that daughter of yours? I heard that recently she was involved in a rather serious accident.”
“What?” Keegan swallowed back his rage and tried once again to sound shocked.
“Accidents have a way of happening to our loved ones. You may want to keep that in mind when you are voting on Area 14.”
“Are you threatening me Hickok?” the Commissioner allowed some of his anger to boil over.
“Threatening you would have no impact Commissioner. But, know that I do have the power to make things happen. Unpleasant things.”
“What are you saying Hickok?”
”I think you know what I am saying.” Keegan shook his head in denial.
“Your daughter’s little accident was just a warning Keegan, the next time I will see to it that she doesn’t come out of it alive. Do I make myself clear Commissioner? If you don’t vote in my favor for Area 14, I will make sure that the next accident I plan for your daughter is a fatal one.”
Commission Keegan grasped the edge of his desk, holding himself back. “Are you saying that you arranged to have my daughter killed in that accident?” “That is precisely what I am saying Commissioner. Now do we have an understanding?”
“I believe you have said everything that needs to be said.” The Commissioner then stepped back from the desk as the office doors busted open and several armed FBI agents entered the room. “As for Area 14,” Keegan growled out, “You can go hell.”
The bust had been a good one. There was no way any judge would disallow the taped confession. The only problem was that Strausman remain illusive, and no amount of plea-bargaining could persuade Hickok to reveal Stausman’s whereabouts. In Hickok’s words, it would be suicide to tell them anything. Beside, he claimed that he didn’t have any idea where Strausman was. According to Hickok, he had contacted Stausman thru another party, whom he happily volunteered the name of - stating that he had no loyalties there. After all, Strausman had failed to kill the girl, so as far as he was concerned the deal had been questionable from the start. Hickok stated that his only contact with Strausman had been in the form of a hand delivered letter telling him to take the money and the instructions to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois. He left the money and the instructions at the reservations desk for a guest by the name of Mr. Billy. The FBI followed up on what they had been told, but no leads had been found. Once again, it appeared the Strausman had slipped by them.
Back at the cabin, Shawnee and Danny fell into a pleasant routine as they waited. Each morning they would wake tangled in each other’s arms, and with much reluctance they would slowly rise out of bed. They would sit on the large glider chair and drink their coffee in silence as they watched the sun rise over the hillside. The view was always breath taking. On the mornings that it rained, they would sit on the porch swing snuggled in a blanket. There, wrapped in his tender embrace, she felt safe. It was easy to forget the reason they were there, hiding in the mountains. Danny did everything he could to make their stay there seem like a lovely vacation. One which neither one of them was in a hurry to end.
Each day they would spend hours talking about their past, slowly getting to know each other; They had fallen in love quickly, and now they spent their time leaning about the person they loved, sharing moments from their past, and wishing to put it all behind them so that they could move forward without any regrets or misgivings.
They talked about their future, their hopes and their dreams. Shawnee had cried when she told him that she wasn’t able to bare children on her own. Her doctors had told her early in life that because of a medical condition that the likelihood of her conceiving naturally was very unlikely. The doctors had even gone as far to say that she wouldn’t be a likely candidate for artificial means. Her only option, it seemed, would be adoption. But with politics being as they were, that option seemed a daunting task to undertake.
Their nights were filled with love. Late night dinners, dancing cheek-to-cheek and snuggling before the fire lead to hours of tender loving. The passion they felt for each other never waned. They never questioned their feelings for each other, just accepted that what they had was special.
Time passed quickly and before they knew it, nearly two months had passed. Danny had limited vacation time, and while his Captain had approved a temporary leave of absence, Danny knew that he could not stay out much longer. But with Strausman still on the loose, he was damned if he was going to leave Shawnee alone in the mountains.
Shawnee too realized that Danny was pushing the limits of his Captains patience. While she loved her time with Danny, she was beginning to feel restless. She too needed to get back to work. Her business depended on it. But damn it, how was she supposed to get back to work with that lunatic still on the run? She knew she couldn’t come out of hiding just yet, not only would she be risking her own life, but she very well could be risking the lives of her clients. Who know what this mad man would try to do, and the last thing Shawnee wanted to do, would be to put one of her clients’ lives in jeopardy.
Danny could tell that Shawnee was getting impatient, and despite reassurances from Jake, Danny wasn’t convinced that they would ever find Strausman. The man was a professional hit man for God’s sake. If he wanted to disappear then no one would be able to find him. He hadn’t gotten away with countless murders before just to be caught by a bulldog of a detective, no matter how good Jake thought he was.
The FBI had offered to put Shawnee in the witness protection program, but she had declined. Danny couldn’t blame her. Given the choice, he knew that he wouldn’t hand his life over that easily. Not when there was still a chance that they would catch the guy. No, their only choice was to remain in hiding until Jake finally caught the guy. With luck it wouldn’t be much longer.
Shawnee woke with a start.
It was pitch dark, and she could barely make out where she was. Blinking to clear her vision, she looked around and saw that she had fallen asleep on the sofa where she and Danny had lain together. Sitting up, she looked around for Danny, but he wasn’t in the cabin. Slipping back into her clothing, she stood up and started for the door when something caught her eyes. Turning her head, she screamed when she saw the face of a man peering in the door.
She felt paralyzed with fear as she watched him hold his finger over his mouth, telling her to be quiet. Then he opened the door and walked in. She saw he had something in his hand and when the moonlight caught it, she saw it was a gun.
Looking back up, she kept her eyes on his as she started to move backwards.
“Hello Shawnee.” She recognized his voice. It was Strausman. “I told you that the next time you wouldn’t be as lucky.”
“Where’s Danny?” she asked, her voice hoarse with fear.
Strausman smiled. “He’s fine. He wasn’t part of the deal, and I respect his work so I’ll leave him alone. I just sent him on a little errand.” He laughed.
“What kind of errand?” she asked trying to stall for time. She needed to try and figure out how she was going to get out of this mess.
Strausman reached down and picked up her bra. “Missing something?” He smiled.
Shawnee’s stomach turned over and she felt like she was going to be sick.
Trying to get back on track she asked, “What deal?”
Strausman seemed surprised by her question. “What do you mean?”
”What deal?” she repeated the question. “You said that Danny wasn’t part of the deal. What did you mean?”
Sitting on the edge of the table, Strausman considered her question. “I suppose it won’t hurt to tell you.” “I’m actually very civilized in my profession. When Hickok hired me, he specifically stated your name. Shawnee Keegan. I did my research and located you. I don’t make mistakes. I kill only those that I am hired to kill. There are never ‘innocent’ bystanders killed when I do a job. I pride myself on that record.”
“But you didn’t kill me. You weren’t successful.” She reminded him, hoping that she wasn’t making a mistake by doing so.
“No. You got lucky.” He toyed with his gun for a moment. “I wanted to ask you about that.
How did you escape my little ‘accident’?” He tilted his head in question, “You should have been crushed by that semi.”
Shawnee couldn’t help the shiver that shook her. He seemed to be honestly interested in her answer.
“Maybe I wasn’t supposed to die after all?” She whispered. Strausman shook his head. “That won’t work little lady. I don’t believe in fate or God or anything like that.” He stood and started to walk toward her again. “I would like to know how you managed to cheat death.”
She had been slowly backing away from him and now her back was at the wall and she had nowhere else to go.
Closing her eyes briefly she said a quick prayer for courage and then opened them to look at him.
“I used my brain.” she finally said.
Strausman stopped. “I like that.” he said, “Tell me.”
“When the brakes didn’t work I tried the hand brake.”
“I cut that too.”
“Yah, I figured that one out and I seriously thought that that was it. But I tried one more time.”
Strausman frowned and shook his head. “It still won’t have worked.”
“You’re right. The brake didn’t work. But my seat release did.” He looked genuinely confused.
“When I pulled up on the hand brake I also used my other hand to pull up on the seat release. I fell backwards just before impact.”
Strausman laughed. “Brilliant” he said. “I don’t know that I would have thought of that one.”
He chuckled. “In fact, I’m quite sure that none of my other ‘clients’ have ever thought of that one before.”
“Congratulations” he bowed toward her. “You have proved to be very worthy prey.”
As he raised his gun hand she said, “May I ask you a question?”
“I don’t see why not.”
“Have you ever considered letting one go?”
Strausman blinked, “The prey? Let it go?”
Shawnee swallowed back her fear. “If you catch a trophy Bass you let it go don’t you? To let it grow, and breed. So that you’ll have another chance another day to outsmart it?”
Strausman smiled and nodded. “I suppose I do. But lady, you are no trophy Bass.”
“No, but I am capable of breeding. And if you kill me, you will be breaking your own rule.”
He frowned, and she continued. “If you kill me, you’ll also be killing the baby I’m carrying.”
Strausman looked down at her belly and said, “You’re lying.”
Shawnee shook her head and said. “I’m a midwife Strausman. I know a hell-la-va lot about babies, and I assure you, I am definitely pregnant. I can tell you the day I conceived. I can tell you that right now, my baby has fingers and toes, and eyelashes. He gets the hick ups and he sucks his thumb. He’s already forming memories, and feelings and I can feel him move. He’s alive Strausman. And if you kill me, he will be an ‘innocent bystander’ caught in the cross fire.”
Shawnee was shaking when she finished. She wasn’t just scared, but now she was angry as well.
Strausman studied her for a moment and grabbed her by the arm, “We’ll just see about that.” he said savagely, and started to drag her toward the door.
The blast jerked him around, and Shawnee pulled her arm out of his grasp and dove behind the sofa.
The second blast was from Strausman’s gun and Shawnee began to crawl toward the other end of the living room when she felt him grab her ankle. Turning, she kicked at him when she heard another blast and screamed when she saw him fall back dead.
Danny rushed to her side. Praying that Strausman’s bullet hadn’t found its mark.
She was staring at the dead man and she was screaming. He shook her, calling her name. Shawnee turned and stared at Danny, and then she fainted.
Jake and several other police officers busted thru the door and found Danny holding Shawnee in his arms. His head buried in her hair. “Danny?” Jake took a step toward him. Danny’s face was streaming with tears. “She’s alright. She just fainted.”
Danny had just finished packing up the truck when he turned to see Shawnee looking out over the lake.
After the police had left, he had bundled her up and taken her out to the porch before packing up their belongings. He didn’t think she would be able to stay another night at the cabin. She hadn’t said a word since she had stopped screaming. When she had woke from her faint, she had sat staring at her hands.
Walking up behind her, he waited for her to acknowledge him before he touched her shoulder. She seemed to melt back against him. Wrapping his arms around her, he held her as they looked out at the beauty around them.
“Thank you” she whispered. “For?” He kissed her temple. She smiled, “For saving my life again.”
“It’s quite the life worth saving.” Turning her to face him, he kissed her gently on the lips. “I love you Shawnee.”
“I love you Danny.” She looked deep into his eyes and saw a question there. “Danny?”
Danny took her by the shoulders and led her to the wooden swing and sat down next to her. Taking her hands, he looked into her face. “I need to ask you something Shawnee. I wanted to do this right, but I don’t want to wait another minute.” then he got down on his knee “Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” Shawnee smiled. “Yes Danny. I will be your wife.” He kissed her hand, and she felt her heart somersault again. “How do you feel about children?” She asked. Danny kissed her hand again. “I love them. And we can adopt as many as you’d like honey.” Shawnee kissed him and said, “Thank you Danny. But maybe we can have one or two on our own first.” Danny sat back and looked searchingly into her eyes. “I thought…” Shawnee kissed him again, “So did I.” Danny gathered her up into his arms and held her. “So, what you were telling Strausman…?” She nodded, “Unless I’m loosing my edge. But I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a baby in about eight months.”
Danny pulled back and looked into her eyes. “When did you know?”
“I started to suspect something when I was late, but considering the stress I’ve been under, I kind of blamed that.” It wasn’t until I started talking to Strausman that it really made sense.” Tilting her head she had to ask, “Is that alright with you?”
Her answer came in the form of a kiss. A very passionate kiss that left her legs weak and her body tingling. “Maybe we should go back into the shack and make sure that I’m really having a baby or make sure that one is on the way.”
Danny laughed and stood up. Taking her hand, he led her back to the shack. “I do like the way you think.”