The Angels' Ploy
Chapter 1- a wrong turn
There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me. –Pride and Prejudice
"Skylar…" My best friend Kelsey whined my name. "Can you please detach yourself from Mark for like, five minutes so we can go try on clothes?" Mark was my on again off again boyfriend. We were currently on. I'll be the first to admit he's a bit of a jerk, but I've always had a thing for bad boys.
"Did you hear something babe?" Mark smirked, ignoring Kelsey.
I played along. "Yes, kind of like a dull buzzing?"
Kelsey rolled her eyes and pulled me by the elbow into about the fifth clothing store she has dragged me to since we got to Seattle. "You know how much I hate playing the third wheel…" She complained.
"You wouldn't have that problem if you had let me bring you that guy like I suggested." I pointed out to her.
"I am not letting you set me up with any of Mark's weird friends!" She exclaimed, shoving a dress into my hands for me to try on.
"Your choice…" I mumbled dejectedly. We spent about another ten minutes in the store before going back to Mark, who looked about as bored as I felt. It was starting to get dark out, but Kelsey insisted that there was one more store she had to get to before we left.
Apparently though, the store was invisible, because we spent half-an-hour walking, finding nothing. "I swear, the map says its right here…" Kelsey grumbled unhappily,
"Kelsey. We. Are. Lost." I annunciated, hoping to drive the point home. Not only were we lost, but it was dark out and we were not in a nice part of town.
"Fine," She pouted childishly. "Let's just go back to the car."
"Do you even know how to get back to the car?" Mark asked, frustrated.
"Of course!" She replied incredulously, holding the map out in front of her. "I, uh… we just- hold on." I groaned, and thanked whatever God there was that we had brought Mark's piece-of-shit car and not my Jag. That thing was my baby and I treated it as such. If Kelsey had lost her, I might need some blood retribution- best friend status be damned.
"It's right down this way." She said confidently, then proceeded to lead us down what looked to be a small dark alleyway. I exchanged a look with Mark then sighed. I had to meet up with my dad and brothers tomorrow at the airport, and they would flip out if I had to call them to pick us up in the middle of Seattle. I cringed, imagining the conversation. They would never let me into the city again- that's for sure.
My brothers were overprotective to the extreme. My mother died when I was young, I only have a few really clear memories of her. My father was in the Navy, and after he finished his service and settled down with a family, he became an instructor at Navy College. I actually grew up on the campus- that place is my home.
My oldest brother Tom is thirty. He followed in Dad's footsteps and went to Navy. He just got home from his second tour in Afghanistan. He recently got engaged to a girl named Charlotte. I've only met her a few times, but I really like her.
Next is Bryan, who is twenty five. Again, like Dad, he went to Navy. He is currently in training to become a Navy Seal. I always tease him and ask him when he's going to get a girlfriend- he jokes right back and says I'm the only woman in his life. When I was a kid he used to spoil me rotten. He's secretly my favorite.
And, last but not least, we have Alex. Alex is 22, and his idea of rebellion is attending Army instead of Navy. When he told Dad, everyone was expecting a big explosion, but he actually took it pretty well. Granted, Dad promised to never-ever-under-any-circumstances cheer for Army at football games, but still. Better than expected. Alex is graduating this year.
What about me, you ask? Well, I defied them all when at the age of 18 I announced that I was going to a liberal college in Seattle to study art and dance. After the shock wore off however, they declared that they were very happy for me. My Dad even offered some heartfelt words about how much I reminded him of Mom.
So now you can see my dilemma as I stand at the edge of that alleyway. Do I call one of my brothers to come pick me up and risk them never letting me out of their sights again, or do I follow Kelsey into the possibly dangerous alley and maybe get mugged? I follow her without a second thought.
Kelsey was quiet as we walked. "Hello little girl…" I gasped involuntarily and turned around, only to see Mark smirking at me.
"You asshole," I hissed at him, hitting his shoulder.
"Kelsey?" I called. I turned around for one second and she disappeared. Great. "Kelsey!" I repeated.
I felt someone grab my arm and pull on me. "Mark! Fuck off!" I said angrily. I turned around to fix him with a glare… only to find that it was not Mark.
"Sky! Run!" I heard Kelsey shriek from around the corner. I moved myself to a defensive position and punched the man in the nose. There was a flash of metal and I realized he had a knife.
My appearance can be deceiving at times. I may be small and blonde with "innocent blue dove eyes" (or so Bryan tells me), but I can pack quite a punch. I had the large man on the ground in under thirty seconds.
"Ah, this one has some fight in her. Good. She'll go for more money." A sinister voice said from behind me. I spun around. There were five more men in the dimly lit alley, all with either a knife similar to that of the man I had just incapacitated, or with a gun. One of them had Kelsey. I'm brave and a good fighter, but I'm not suicidal.
There was no point in running. I would either be caught, or shot. I also wasn't about to leave Kelsey alone. One of them grabbed my arm roughly, and I made eye contact with Kelsey, who looked close to tears. I gave her what I hoped was a reassuring look.
"Sky?" Mark called from the other end of the alley. I could only see his silhouette until he stepped under the lamppost. His eyes seemed to drink in the sight of us- five hulking men with weapons holding Kelsey and I. In less than a second, he had his phone out and was dialing what I assumed was 911. The man with the gun must have thought the same thing, but instead of shooting him like I expected, he gave Mark an amused look and began speaking.
"I'll make you a deal boy. Leave now, you never saw anything, and I'll let you live." Mark's fingers froze on the phone. He closed his cell and gave the man a stiff nod, not making eye contact with either me or Kelsey, before walking away.
Coward! Betrayer! My head screamed. My face remained an impassive mask of defiance.
As soon as Mark disappeared from sight, the man (who will from here on be referred to as Boss-Man) pulled a rag out of his back pocket. Boss-man took a water bottle from another man and doused the rag with it. He held the rag to Kelsey's face. She thrashed and struggled for about a minute before going limp in her captor's arms.
I watched this all with silent horror. Boss-man came to me next and the smell of chloroform filled my senses. I knew it would be useless to struggle, so I focused on taking shallow breaths. Blackness tinged my vision. Strangely, my last thought was that I was probably going to miss my dance performance.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. I groaned quietly and there was a sudden jerk, and I rolled over onto something solid. I tried to move my arms and legs but soon discovered that they were tied together with ropes. I recalled the events leading up to my waking up here and realized with terror that it wasn't just a bad dream. The solid thing I had rolled onto was Kelsey, who was still unconscious and we were currently in the trunk of a moving vehicle.
The thumping continued. I held my head which pounded with each thump and came to the conclusion that it was merely the worst headache known to man. No big deal. I fiddled with the ropes connecting my wrists and found that they were loose enough that I managed to get out of them in under ten minutes, with a little effort. I rubbed my now-free wrists triumphantly and quickly untied my ankles.
First things first- I checked Kelsey's pulse. Steady, strong, but I couldn't seem to shake her awake. I felt the car rumble to a halt and heard a car door slam. I desperately wrapped the ropes back around my ankles and wrists loosely, laying back down into a place and trying to look unconscious.
A light shined beneath my eyelids as the trunk opened. "They still out?" Boss-man asked.
"Yeah, I doubt they're waking up anytime soon." Another voice answered.
"Well then let's do the exchange. I don't want to risk it." Boss-man said impatiently. I focused on keeping my body limp as I felt myself being lifted over someone's shoulder. If I have any shot of getting away, it's right now.
With that thought I threw my palms down and kicked. I was abruptly dropped to the floor in shock. I had about one second to take note of my surroundings before picking a direction to run in- the woods.
Someone from behind made a grab at me and managed to grasp my silver necklace. The chain broke and it hit the pavement on the road. My necklace however, was the least of my concerns as I sprinted towards the thick foliage with my kidnappers hot on my trail.
I took twists and turns in the dark woods. I think about five minutes passed before I risked a glance back. I couldn't see anyone behind me, but that didn't mean they weren't there. I was panting heavily as my back hit a tree and I slid down to sit and catch my breath.
"Little Girl!" I tensed up. Boss-man's voice was calling me. I don't think he knew where I was, he was just yelling. "I know you're out there Little Girl- I know you can hear me! Listen closely- your night is going to end one of two ways. Either I find you- or the wolves will." His voice rang through the forest with an intimidating echo as the thought of wolves and men with guns controlled my brain. I shivered out of cold and fear before forcing my legs back up to run again.
This time I didn't stop to catch my breath- I just kept running. I don't know how long- a few hours maybe. I could have been running in circles for all I know. All I can say is that when I finally collapsed to the ground out of exhaustion, there was an orange-ish tint to the sky. I'm assuming it was dawn.
Voices. I was hearing voices. They were very far away though. Either that or they were speaking very quietly.
"Sam! Sam!" They said.
"Who is… find her?"
"…on patrol…don't know… just laying there… dead?" These voices weren't making any sense. It didn't help that I could only catch every few words. Were they talking about me?
"Is everything okay?" A new voice- a woman's voice asked.
"Yes… help her?" Help. Were they helping me? I don't remember why right now, but I needed help. I think it had something to do with Kelsey. When did remembering things become so hard? Just trying made me sleepy.
The voices were talking again in the background, but I wasn't paying attention anymore. I wanted to sleep.
I awoke suddenly, gasping for air and clutching my chest. Everything that has happened to me in the past day came back with a crushing speed. Last I remembered I was in the forest. And then there were the voices. Now where am I?
It appeared to be a neatly furnished bedroom, with yellow walls and a bathroom. Did the kidnappers find me? Or did I wander into some cabin last night and collapse on the first bed I saw? I honestly don't know- but I'm not taking any chances.
I stood up from my bed and was surprised to find that the cuts on my arms from running through the woods and getting hit by twigs and branches had been wrapped. That doesn't really seem like something Boss-Man would do.
I stumbled clumsily into the bathroom. I glanced into the mirror- expecting the worst. I was pleasantly taken aback by what I saw. For someone who was kidnapped and spent the night in the forest, I looked pretty decent. I came to the conclusion that someone must have cleaned me up.
Granted, my clothes were basically rags now, but I wouldn't want strangers changing me anyway. I glanced around the room, trying to look for a weapon. If I went downstairs to find Boss-Man and his cronies all huddled around a table I wasn't going down without a fight. I figured I could even the playing field a little bit by arming myself.
It wasn't looking good though, seeing as the only thing remotely close to a weapon was the toothbrush, and I didn't think that was going to do a whole hell of a lot for me. When I walked back into the room my eyes landed on a pair of scissors. Not great, but they'll have to do.
I crept down the hall silently, then down the staircase. Before I turned the corner I heard speaking. Perfect. Eavesdropping time.
"What time is Jacob coming over?" Not Boss-Man, unless Boss-Man had suddenly turned female.
"Soon. I wanted to talk to him about the Alpha position. I need to stop phasing soon. I don't think he'll do it though." Also not Boss-Man.
"He'll do it for you Sam, you know he will."
"I don't know Emily. This place holds a lot of memories for him." The voice sounded weary. "How's the girl doing?"
"Good. She'll be waking up shortly." I didn't have time to ponder over their conversation because at that moment there was the sound of a door slamming open and the room was filled with rambunctious noises.
"Boys! Breakfast is on the table!" The female voice called. Food. My stomach growled. I hadn't eaten since lunch. How long ago was that? It seemed like years.
I decided it was time to make my presence known. I stepped around the corner and was greeted by the sight of a rather large group of buff, shirtless men all crushed into a dainty little kitchen. It was a bit of a paradox, really. Not to mention they all looked like male models.
When I stepped into the room, all conversation stopped. I gripped the scissors a little tighter behind my back. "Where am I? Who are you?" I asked. My voice was groggy and sore from the chloroform and my night in the woods. I was disappointed that my question came out sounding a little weaker than I would have liked.
One of the men (a younger looking one) stepped forward with a big grin on his face. "I'm Seth. I found you in the forest." He said triumphantly. He stuck a hand out for me to shake. I cautiously shook back. This kid was weird.
"Where am I?" I repeated.
"La Push, Washington." Said the male voice I was eavesdropping on before. He was just as large as the other men, but he looked a bit older and his eyes held a wisdom that I had seen before. It was the same wisdom that my father's eyes held, the same wisdom I had seen in Tom's eyes after he came back from Afghanistan for the first time. I knew right away that this man was to be respected.
I straightened my posture. "How far away is that from Seattle?" I asked him.
"A few hours," He stood up from the table. Holy crap, he's tall. "What's your name?"
"Want to explain why you were in my forest, Skylar?" His forest? Who is this dude- the Lorax? Keeper of the trees?
I didn't have a chance to reply, because the woman from earlier was already chiding him. "Sam. Let the poor girl breathe. Are you hungry sweetheart?" I looked at the table full of food. There was bacon, eggs, and sausage. I stared at the feast.
Food, morals, food, morals, food, morals? The woman seemed to notice my hesitation. "Are you okay honey?" She asked, concerned.
"I'm vegetarian." I offered weakly.
"Oh! I'm sorry, let me get you something." I smiled at her when she handed me some toast. I devoured it instantly, unaware of just how hungry I had been.
"Thank you Ma'am." I said sheepishly when I realized my lack of manners. The men- boys?- were all still staring at me, wearing expressions ranging from caution to amusement to interest. "You all can eat now. I'm not going to do anything interesting, I promise." I said, gesturing with my hands. They started to fill their plates with massive amounts of food.
The woman chuckled from beside me. "They just aren't used to nice young girls like you. And enough with the Ma'am and Sir business. My name's Emily." She smiled brightly at me. She was really beautiful. She had some bad scars running up the side of her face, but they added a uniqueness that seemed to make her, if anything, more beautiful.
I smiled back at her. "Sorry, military family. You can call me Sky. If you don't mind me saying, you're very pretty. You remind me of Pocahontas." Sam seemed to like this comment because he smiled and put his arm around her.
"Pocahontas is my favorite princess!" A small voice said from beneath me. I looked down to see a young girl who was about four or five.
"Oh, hello. Pocahontas is my favorite too, but technically she isn't a princess." Don't challenge my Disney knowledge. I will destroy you every time.
"Of course she is! She is the chief's daughter, so that makes her practically a princess." The little girl said with a lisp.
"Practically a princess isn't a princess." I pointed out to the girl.
"It's close enough." She said stubbornly.
"Okay," I compromised, getting on to my knees on the floor so that I was eye level with her. "What about Belle? Is she a princess?"
She looked at me like I was stupid. "Duh, Beast is a prince."
"Ah, but is he? The story mentions nothing of his parents, so if they're dead, that would make Beast a king and her a queen." The little girl processed this information for a few seconds before she nodded.
"I like you. I'm Claire." Except it came out sounding a bit more like: "I wike you. I'm Cwaire." When she smiled she had little dimples- it was so cute.
"It's always a pleasure to meet a fellow adversary willing to debate the topic of Disney Trivia with me. I'm Sky." Claire nodded formally even though I'm pretty sure she has no idea what I just said. I shook her little hand amiably before sitting back in my chair.
That's when I noticed how quiet it had become. Again. "How did you… How did you do that?" One of the men asked, shocked.
"Do what?" I said, confused. Claire held her arms out to me and I picked her up and put her on my lap. She started to eat some of my toast.
"Get her to like you! She doesn't like anyone except Quil." He said, gesturing to another man (Quil, I'm assuming) with his thumb. Quil was looking between me and Claire with equal parts shock and disbelief.
I just shrugged. "I'm good with kids." Emily was smiling at me again.
The boys went back to their previous conversations while Claire ate a piece of bacon. An angry looking boy across the table was explaining (quite loud and in detail) a sexual conquest. How could he talk about this with Claire sitting on my lap? She's not deaf.
"Who's the whore?" I whispered to Emily, tilting my head in his direction. I must have spoken a little louder than I intended though, because everyone at the table (excluding said whore) burst out laughing. Even stoic Sam cracked a smile.
"That's Paul." Emily explained, still chuckling. I was red with embarrassment. Paul was also red, but I'm pretty sure it was with anger.
"Sorry…" I mumbled, ducking my head.
"It's okay, someone had to say it eventually." Seth consoled.
"Sky? Why are there scissors in your pocket?" Claire asked, poking at my weapon.
I rubbed the back of my neck sheepishly and put the scissors on the table. "Sorry," I repeated, facing Emily. "It was precautionary measure. I had to make sure you weren't kidnappers." I said, smiling weakly.
Sam straightened up in his seat. "Why would we be kidnappers?" He asked.
I slumped back down in the chair and picked up a squirming Claire to put her back down on the ground. "It's a long story." I said.
"We have time."
I bit my lip and tried to stall. "Do you have a phone I could use? I'll tell you what happened, but I would like to call my brother first. I was supposed to meet him at the airport…"
"Of course, of course!" Emily said, pulling out a cell phone and handing it to me. I thanked her and walked to the other side of the room, dialing Bryan's number. He picked up on the third ring.
"Hello?" His voice sounded tired and upset.
"Bryan? It's Sky."
"Sky! Oh my god, are you okay? Where the hell are you? Why didn't you call? Did you know how worried we all were?" He yelled into the phone so loudly that I had to pull it away from my ear. I could have sworn some of the boys at the table were smirking. There is no way they could hear him from all the way over there…
"Bryan, I am fine. Calm down. Something… happened to me and Kelsey." I said.
"Something happened? What happened? Hold on, let me put Tom on the phone."
"No!" I almost yelled. "Bryan Bryan Bryan Bryan no!" I repeated over and over again. "Do not put Tommy on the phone. The last thing I need is for him to freak out and send the entire Navy over here."
He sighed and there was a long pause. "What can I do Sky?"
"Just… stay put. Don't try to come find me. I'm going to work with the local authorities. I'll call you all the time so that you can know I'm safe. Please just trust me."
Another long pause. "Fine. But the second something happens- you call me. And the second this is all over- you call me and tell me what the hell is going on. Understand?"
I rolled my eyes at the use of his I-am-a-Navy-Seal-therefore-you-must-respect-me voice. "Yes, sir."
"Love you Sky. Be safe."
"Ditto." I hung up the phone. I handed it back to Emily and had the weird feeling that everyone at the table had heard every word that had just been said. I was about to sit back down in my seat and begin to explain my situation to them when the door slammed open again.
Emily bounced out of her chair. "Jacob!" She called.
"Hey Em, it's been a while, huh?" Said a masculine voice.
"Everybody's in the kitchen." One of the men got up from the table to go greet Jacob.
"Jake, man." He said, giving him a bro-hug.
"Hey Embry." I took a moment to observe Jacob. He had an aura of sadness about him, which was only heightened by the fact that almost everyone in the room was treating him like he was an abused puppy. He also looked like he lived in the woods. Not that I should talk or anything. But despite all this, he was still really attractive. I couldn't help but notice that.
He went around greeting everyone. I would have been perfectly happy just to stay in the background, but Seth took it upon himself to introduce me. "This is Skylar. I found her in the woods." He said with pride, pushing me forward like I was his rescue pet or something.
I bit my lip and stared into his over six foot frame. His eyes dropped to meet mine and the expression in them turned to shock in less than a second. He had really beautiful brown eyes. I put my hand out to shake his. "Nice to meet you," I said politely.
And then he fell. No, literally. To the ground. He fell to his knees.