Author's Note: I'm actually working on another story right now, this was just a little break but I ended up liking it. Tell me what you think, and if you want it continued... Personally I'm not sure it's the kind of story that should be continued, but you're my readers so I'll let you decide. ;-)
It's all wrong. It shouldn't have happened this way. I let Parker get close--I wanted to talk to her face to face. But I had the escape routes all planned out, and I knew Miss Parker would let me go. We were talking, the way we seem to always do these days: I taunt, Parker tries to redeem herself without getting off the fence. I must say that she has good balance--it really should be impossible for someone to balance themselves between good and bad the way she does, but somehow she succeeds anyhow.
I was just about to jump out the window, as I had planned. Then Parker put her hand to her ear and her eyes widened. She swore under her breath, then exclaimed, "He followed me!" Her eyes refocused on me, and we came to the same conclusion at the same time.
"He's outside?" I ask, my throat suddenly so dry that I can barely get the words out. She nods. I glance out the window and confirm that yes, Lyle's men are blocking my escape route.
"Looks like I got you this time," she says, but it's a flat comment, lacking her usual spark. Suddenly we are both trapped in a web of our own acting, forced to play our roles out, as though pretending for so long had somehow made it real. I become aware that I am shaking.
"Put your hands up," she says by force of habit, but I can hear a tinge of weariness behind the hardness that has invaded her voice. "Turn and face the wall--hands on the wall," she continued. I hear the jangle of handcuffs. One by one my wrists are inserted into metal restraints. I can't even fight--my alternative is the cannibal with jumper cables, waiting right outside. A shudder moves through me, and I hear Parker whisper in my ear, "I'm so sorry..."
I am led down to the black towncar that Parker has waiting, my head down. I don't want to see the sweepers surrounding me, or the expression on Parker's face. She's pretending for real now, I know. "What are you going to tell daddy dearest, Lyle? Looks like I beat you to the prize!"
"Get Houdini to the Centre, then you can threaten me," replies Lyle, the sneer in his voice making it clear that he doesn't think it's going to happen. Or so he was hoping. I'm glad Syd didn't make it on this trip. Broots is staying mercifully quiet.
A burly sweeper on either side, and Miss Parker with her gun on me the whole time. Behind my back, I'm already working on the handcuffs. By the time we are halfway to the Centre, I have the right handcuff off. A little while later, the Centre comes into view and I feel another shudder run through me.
Parker can't afford to "forget" anything today. As we pull into the Centre garage, she reminds the sweepers, "Check his cuffs, boys." They of course find what I've done, and one of them thinks it amusing to close the cuff so tightly that it's painful.
I'm dragged roughly out of the car, where the ghoul is waiting. "Welcome home, Jarod," he tells me with a grin. I think that's Raines' favorite line, but not without good reason: I die a little inside every time I hear someone call the Centre my home, and I think he knows it.
I'm not about to just take the blows, though. "Your home, maybe," I retort, and I spit in his face. Not unexpectedly I receive a forceful blow to the stomach, and I let it double me over. From there I swing my leg out and twist my body with all the force that I can give it. I take the sweeper on the left out, and then deal a blow of my own to the sweeper on my right. Freed, I dash toward the small opening that I know leads to fresh air.
With the grace of a tiger, Parker extends her leg, taking both of mine out from under me. I pitch forward and smash my face on the cement, my arms not able to catch my fall. When I'm pulled roughly to my feet, there is blood streaming down my face. "Not so easy, genius-boy," she spits. Even I can't tell if she means it or not.
With that, I am dragged into the bowels of the Centre, to my very own dark, dank cell. There I'm tossed unceremoniously inside and left alone. It definitely shouldn't have happened this way, I tell myself again.