By the time the team reached the C-130, fueled and ready on the tarmac, Mr. Benoit was awake and we let him out of the duffel bag. He cursed us loudly in French as Mack bound his wrists with a zip-tie.
"Vous etes American, sont pas vous?" he asked us angrily.
"Anybody no how to say 'shut up' in French?" Mack growled, his manners gruff as always.
"No parle," I hissed at Benoit, trying to appear angry. Even though the man was a terrorist
"Ma copine, Vanessa?" he inquired, worried about his girlfriend.
I shook my head. "Elle est sûre, monsieur. Ne vous inquiétez pas." I assured him that she was safe and he didn't need to worry about her.
When we got on the plane, Mack drugged Benoit again and then fell asleep across from him. Top, Bob and Sam also dozed off soon after the plane was in flight. Charlie and I, however, did not.
I sat beside the small window of the large cargo plane, watching the ocean pass underneath the plane as we flew towards the freedom of the U.S. In my mind, I was desperately trying to sort out everything that was going on; my developing attraction and feelings towards Charlie and my fear of Sam. I was so lost in thought that I barely noticed when Charlie came over and sat down beside me.
"What's wrong?" he asked quietly.
I looked up at him, surprised that he realized how upset I was. Did I wear my feelings on my sleeve that much? "I was just thinking about the mission—some of the things that happened."
"That have anything to do with...us?" Charlie whispered, grinning impishly.
Blushing a deep shade of red, I didn't hesitate to nod. "Yeah, it does."
"Glad I'm not the only one who can't get it out of my head." With that said, he brushed the back of my palm with his fingertips. "You a rule-breaker, Twilight?"
I nodded slowly, a weary smile spreading across my face. "When it's worth it, I'll do whatever it takes."
"Now that we've decided that, why don't you tell me what else is wrong," Grey suggested.
My face fell. I wasn't sure if I should tell him what I was dwelling on. This was my problem, wasn't it? Nobody else needed to be bothered, so I just shook my head adamantly. "It's nothing," I brushed his concerns off.
"Elle Charlton." Charlie spoke my name in a strict tone I wasn't used to. "I'm ordering you to tell your superior officer what is wrong."
I sighed, laughing quietly at his last resort, then growing serious again. "There is a member of our team that seems to have an...inappropriate interest in me," I whispered.
Grey glared over at the sleeping Sam McBride and cursed quietly under his breath. "I know, Elle. Don't worry, we'll be watching him."
I nodded, comforted by the thought that my "big brothers" weren't gonna let this guy hurt me.
Top gave Charlie and me two days off, but the rest of the team headed out on another mission almost as soon as we landed. Benoit was taken away by a couple of soldiers to be interrogated and I headed back to my apartment to get some rest. The time changes were messing with me horribly.
Once I got back to my apartment, I tossed my bags in the closet and changed into a pair of gym shorts and a sports bra, and then promptly tumbled into bed and fell sound asleep.
Some time later, I was awakened by my cell phone ringing loudly on the table beside my bed.
"Wanna...go...back...to sleep," I mumbled drowsily, reaching over and picking it up off the table and pressing it to my ear. "Hello?" I answered
"Elle? It's Charlie. I didn't mean to wake you up," Grey's voice came through the phone.
I sat up and rubbed my eyes, trying to get my moisten my contacts so that they wouldn't fall out. "No, Charlie...it's okay. What time is it?" I asked, completely disoriented.
He laughed. "Jet lag, huh? It's seven-thirty. You want to go get some supper?"
I thought for a minute; The rest of the team was gone on a mission and I was starting to get pretty hungry. "Yeah, sure. Have I got time to take a quick bath?"
"Go ahead. I'll be there in thirty minutes. That sound good?"
"Uh-huh," I replied, smiling at the thought of spending the evening with Charlie. "I'll be ready."
After hanging up the phone, I tossed it aside and hurried into the bathroom to run a tubful of hot water. After the long flight on the cargo plane, I needed a little freshening up before I went out with Charlie.
As I lathered myself with some Calvin Klein body-wash, I wondered vaguely what was going to happen between Charlie and me tonight. Would it just be dinner between two friends? Or, would it be more than that, especially after all that had occurred between us? Surely not. Even a guy like Charles Grey couldn't have missed the chemistry between us.
With ten minutes to spare, I hopped out of the tub and pulled my long blonde hair back into a high ponytail, then hastily re-applied a little eyeliner, eye-shadow, and blush. My hurriedly thrown together outfit consisted of a pair of faded, purposely distressed and torn jeans and a blue tank top with a white sweater.
Almost as if on cue, the doorbell rang as soon as I pulled the sweater on over my top.
"I'm coming," I called, sliding my feet into a pair of flip-flops, grabbing my bag and running to the door.
Charlie was leaning against the doorframe, waiting on me to emerge. When he saw me, he smiled widely. "You look beautiful, Elle," he told me sincerely.
I blushed and looked down at the ground, embarrassed. He caught my chin gently in between his hand and raised my face upwards so that I was looking into his eyes again.
"Time to break the rules," he whispered, leaning close. His cool, moist lips landed on mine and my eyelids fluttered shut. Oh, this was blissful!