Author's Note: Direct continuation of the scene. And please note the new website announcement!

Also, we're changing from the 'boy/girl' chapter themes, because well, if I continued we'd have to give away all plot points as we went along :)

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NEW WEBSITE: www . fractured-reality . com

I have a new website. If interested, you can read more about it (and my future on FF . net) on my Tumblr listed below. It's the June 10th note.

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Prompt Set #2 (June 2010)

Author: Elizabeth George

Title Challenge: A Moment on the Edge


A Single Pane Of Glass

Aaron's jaw tightened. Then he tipped his head slightly to the side as his fingertips dug into Emily's hip. He could feel her shaking slightly under his arm.

The sensation made his gut ache.

Because in the hour since they'd first met, he had become quite attached . . . and possessive . . . of this woman that he did not know. And he hated that she was scared. And he hated that she was in danger. But what he hated most of all, was that he didn't know how the hell he was going to her out of this situation that was bordering on full blown catastrophe.

But he needed to keep trying.

"My wife isn't feeling well," he answered the guard as evenly as he could, "so, if you'll just excuse us," he continued while trying to sidestep the other man, "she needs to get some air."

Though he wanted to simply scream "get the FUCK out of the way!" unfortunately that wasn't an option. They needed to not draw any ADDITIONAL attention to themselves.

It was bad enough that the guard had stopped them.

People were looking.

And now . . . Aaron bit back a growl . . . it appeared as though circumstances were about to get even worse. Because rather than simply letting them go . . . because really what FRIGGING business of his was it that they were leaving the bank(!) . . . the guard had just shifted his complete attention over to Emily.

And he looked concerned.

"What's the problem ma'am?"

For a split second Aaron was afraid that Emily was going to choke up . . . after all she was obviously frightened, and they were COMPLTELY winging it . . . but the woman must have spent some time in drama class. Or else she'd been exposed to some incredibly bitchy girls in high school, because the look she shot the guard was perfect.

The withering, put upon, rich girl.

It was exactly what they needed.

"The problem," Emily answered the guard crisply as her clammy hand tightened over Aaron's, "is that I have morning sickness, and you are standing between me and the exit. So," she improvised a little theatrical clutch of her stomach, "unless you'd like to have my breakfast tossed all over your shoes, I suggest that you get out of my way," her voice hitched up a notch, "now!"

Though she felt a kind of bad playing mega bitch to this poor guy who was just trying to be nice to her . . . he barely looked old enough to shave, let alone guard a bank . . . mostly she was using the misdirection to cover over her own rising panic and fear.

It was just a bonus that an obnoxious bluster seemed to be the best . . . fastest . . . way of making this man lose interest in helping her.

And sure enough, the guard immediately jumped back . . . obviously trying to clear the imaginary splash zone that she'd just intimated was forthcoming.

"Oh yes, right, okay," he croaked from a few feet back while hastening to point them towards the exit, "there you go."

"Thank you," Hotch muttered back tightly as he started moving them forward again.

YES! Just ten paces to go!

They had gotten three steps closer to the door . . . still seven shy . . . when Aaron decided to risk a quick glance across the bank.

What he saw made his stomach drop.

The man that he had identified as the second gunman . . . he was watching them. And it was obvious to Aaron, that this man did not like what he saw. His eyes were narrowed, and his fingers were tapping a rapid beat on his belt buckle.

And then they made eye contact.

And though Aaron tried to appear disinterested . . . there was no time to simply look away . . . he knew that the shit had just the fan. Because when their gazes had locked, the man's eyes had widened.

And now he was reaching under his coat.

Seeing that, a fresh shot of adrenaline flooded Aaron's body.

Oh Jesus . . . he half yanked Emily off the ground . . . their time was officially up!

And that's when everything around him started to slow down.

Even as he began dragging Emily to the door, hissing in her ear to "run!" the gunman was racing across the cavernous lobby.

"YOU TWO!" He yelled while yanking the gun from under his jacket, "STOP!"

Though Aaron was pulling her the other way, Emily couldn't stop herself from spinning around at the command.

Her heart slammed into her throat as she saw not just the one armed robber coming at them, but two others also yanking out weapons. Both shotguns and handguns.

They were armed for a siege.

And as she felt Aaron still trying to drag her to the door, those other two men were yelling at the bank customers to get down, to get on the floor.

To shut the hell up.

And now there were barely four yards separating them from the man screaming for them to stop.

And as the fear and panic began to wash over the crowd . . . they were like frightened animals about to stampede . . . all Emily could do was drop her jaw. Her dominant emotion wasn't panic . . . it was disbelief.

This was NOT happening! Not HERE! They were finally out of the Middle East! She was home!

She was supposed to be SAFE at home!

These ridiculously unhelpful thoughts were threatening to overwhelm her cognitive reasoning . . . as were the memories of the last time her world had gone completely to shit . . . but then Aaron suddenly gave her a hard shove.

Her purse hit the ground as she went flying towards the door.

And that's when her brain started working again.

"GO!" Aaron screamed at her, "GET OUT EMILY! GO!"

Now that she was back and again processing the moment, the panic finally started to flood Emily's body. Because she didn't want to leave Aaron there . . . she despised the very thought of it . . . but it didn't seem that she was going to have any choice in the matter. Because he had hurled her right at the revolving frame. And the momentum of the push was such that it would take more of her energy to turn back than it would to keep going.

So it looked like she was going into the doorway whether she liked it or not.

But just then she heard the other voice again . . . the one that had been screaming at them to stop.

That voice was now right behind her.

"YOU DO IT BITCH AND I PUT A BULLET IN HIS HEAD!"

Emily's palms slammed flat against the glass.

SHIT!

The words were a cry in her head as her eyes immediately flooded with tears. And then slowly . . . she knew what she was going to see . . . she turned her head.

And there . . . as expected . . . was Aaron.

There was a gun barrel pressed against his temple.

At that point . . . all around them . . . chaos had begun to reign. It was hard to believe that mere seconds had been passing. Ten.

Perhaps fifteen.

The other two men were still screaming at the crowd to shut up. But those calls were falling on deaf ears. Instead the lobby was echoing with the sound of one woman's high pitched wail . . . and the din of a crowd that realized a living nightmare had just begun for them.

The kind that you usually just see on TV.

And as Emily's eyes burned, her gaze became entangled with that of her new friend's. It didn't matter that she had just met this man, he had already become someone that she cared about.

Someone that she didn't want to see have his brains splashed all over the shiny marble floor.

But Aaron seemed oblivious to her wishes.

His previously soft and intelligent eyes, were now wild . . . and they were locked onto hers.

"KEEP GOING EMILY!"

The words were screamed in desperation.

But she couldn't keep going. She was the only one in the bank that close to the door . . . the only one in a position to run out and get help, if help wasn't already on its way. . . but she couldn't leave Aaron to get shot in the head.

It just wasn't happening.

It didn't matter that they had only known each other an hour. It didn't even matter that they knew each other at all. What mattered was that in the next five seconds, a bullet would . . . or would not . . . be fired in direct correlation to her personal actions. And she wasn't going to have anyone die because of something that she did.

She'd never be able to live with that.

So though she knew that the needs of the many dictated that she try and make a run for it . . . to duck down and jump into the spinning glass enclosure . . . instead she raised her hands above her head.

And then she stepped away from the panel of the glass door.

"Okay," she said quietly with her watery eyes still locked onto Aaron's horrified ones, "I stopped. Now please," her gaze snapped over to the gunman's, "please don't shoot him. You don't need to do that. You can let him go now. Please," she continued pleading softly, "please, let him go."

Logic would say that letting him go was the wise choice. A murder here would be a capital offense. A federal crime.

But these didn't seem to be very wise men.

After all, they'd chosen to rob a bank situated in the middle of one of the most secure blocks of real estate on the planet. And any way you cut it . . . she swallowed . . . that was pretty fucking stupid.

And she could see simply from the ages of these men . . . probably somewhere between her and Aaron . . . that they weren't old enough to be career criminals. But still . . . her fingers dug into her palms . . . this man in particular . . . this man with the gun pressed against Aaron's skull . . . there was a hardness in his eyes.

One that frightened her.

And it was frightening her more that he wasn't pulling the gun away.

The nose was still pointed right at Aaron's temple . . . and through years of weapons training with her father, she knew . . . that safety was off.

Just as she opened her mouth again . . . to again plead for mercy . . . the sound of a gunshot cut through the din surrounding them. Warm blood splattered onto Emily's face and body.

She screamed.


Author's Note: I know it wasn't a terribly long chapter, but, it was done! Done to a point that it could be posted, and a posting at least moves the story forward :) And I've been so wrapped in getting the new website up and running that for a couple weeks I couldn't do ANY new writing. So I figured now that I had time again, even short chapters were better than no chapters. So we'll just move along from here : )

Otherwise, if you haven't seen it yet, please do check out the new website. Aside from myself and the other admins (Kavi Leighanna and The Truth Between) we've got about 16 members so far. And if you're also looking for some refuge from ff . net and their newly enforced 'hey let's delete stories & accounts!' policies, you're welcome to set up an account as well for a backup location.

Also, new prompts are up on the Tumblr listed at the top. FF has been so twitchy lately we've shifted to that as a posting location.

Thanks for the feedback everyone! And thank you all who passed along alternate posting locations for me! Again, though, as outlined above, I settled on just doing my own site :)