I was trying to pick the lock on my door to get out, but that wasn't working. I threw down the nail file. "No, that's stupid," I muttered. There were no hinges on this side of the door, so I couldn't rip those off. I had been stuck in this room for two hours and I still didn't know what I was going to do to get out of there or what Raul planned to do with me. Nothing good, of course.
All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door. I jumped and reached for the nearest weapon, which happened to be the nail file. I held it in front of me, trying to appear threatening. The door swung open and a woman dressed in a maid's uniform timidly peered in. I instantly lowered the nail file. She gave me a small smile. "Señorita August?" she asked.
I nodded. "Yes?"
"Señor Quintana has requested that you join him for dinner."
I grinned before giving my best Pirates of the Caribbean quote. "Tell him that I'm disinclined to acquiesce to his request." I laughed at her reaction. "It means no."
The maid didn't seem amused. "You would be wise to say yes. Raul doesn't like being told no."
"I know," I said quietly. "Listen, have you seen a tall, nerdy-looking guy around? His name is Simon Feck. I need to know if he's all right."
"I'm afraid that I haven't. But, that doesn't mean that he's not here. This is a big house. There's any number of hiding places where he could be."
"Well, that's helpful," I mumbled.
"Señorita Havens, I really need to get you ready. Raul will be angry if you do not appear. You do not want that to happen."
I was worried about Simon, but knew that Raul wouldn't hurt him because of what Simon knew. Maybe if I complied with Raul's demands, I could find out where he was and break him out. "All right. What do I wear? Because I'm not going out in this." I gestured to the silky almost-lingerie.
"Of course. Raul has chosen something special." She went over to the wardrobe where an abundance of skin-tight, short outfits were hanging up. This should be interesting. The maid pulled out a long evening gown. It was pretty, but definitely not practical for escaping. It was made of chiffon and was pale pink. I had to make Raul happy, though. I donned the gown and allowed the maid to pull my hair up into an elaborate twist. She offered me jewelry, but I declined, choosing instead to wear Simon's necklace. I looked at myself in the mirror. I put my mask on, showing no emotion. It was the only way to stay alive.
The maid nodded her approval. "A guard will come escort you in a few minutes, Señorita Havens." She left the room and I heard her key turn in the lock. I scanned my brain, formulating a plan. I smiled secretly. You underestimate me, Raul. I never give up.
I slipped on a pair of kitten heels and waited patiently for my "escort." Soon enough, the door opened and there was a guard waiting for me. "It's time to go."
I saw his gun resting on his hip. "I know." I allowed him to take my arm and lead me from the room. I ran over my plan again and again. I'm not failing this time. "So, where am I exactly?" I asked politely.
"Barcelona, señorita. This is Señor Quintana's childhood home."
"Interesting…" Barcelona. I could escape from Barcelona. At least I'm not on a boat. I bit my lip and got ready to make my move. I quickly pulled myself out of his grasp and pinched him right on the pressure point on his neck. Within seconds, he was down for the count. I relieved him of his weapon and slid it onto a makeshift holster under my dress. Then, I dragged him into a closet and hoped no one would be looking for him for a while.
I followed the corridors until I reached the dining room. I could feel the gun rubbing against my leg and swallowed hard. Could I be able to kill him? I fixated on Raul's smirking face. Yes, I could.
"Hello, August." Raul didn't appear angry, just pleased. He thinks he can tame me. Well, he's wrong.
I only smiled. "Hello. Thank you for inviting me to dinner."
Raul stood and pulled out a chair for me. I sat down, making sure my skirt didn't ride up. "Of course I would invite you. You're still a guest." I noticed he said the last sentence with gritted teeth.
He's only keeping me alive for Simon. Otherwise, I'd be dead by now. "Now, where is my boyfriend hiding at?" I asked with a grin. "Surely he's hungry, too."
"Simon is busy at the moment, I'm afraid. It's just you and me tonight."
Just what I was afraid of. He's keeping us separate. Well, if I can get away, I can go get help and save him. "Oh, okay. I was just wondering if he was all right."
"He's fine, August. Now, what would you like for the main course? Beef or chicken?"
I silently slid my hand up my dress and clutched onto the gun. No turning back now. Be brave. I brought the gun out, leaving it on my lap. "Beef, please."
"Would you like some wine?" Raul offered. "My family owns some of the best vineyards in Spain."
"Well, if I was twenty-one, I would gladly have a glass," I answered. "But, I'm only sixteen. Ask me in five years."
"As you wish," Raul said graciously.
I quietly cocked the pistol and took a deep breath. "Raul, I do enjoy your company, but I'm afraid I'm needed elsewhere."
Raul seemed surprised. "And where would that be?"
"Anywhere but here." I stood up and pointed the pistol at his chest. A guard immediately came running in. "Ah, ah, ah," I warned. "Don't move or I'll shoot." He froze, his hand on his own gun, watching me intently.
"Now, August, I'm sure that we can figure this out," Raul put in. "Just put the gun down."
I backed towards the French doors leading to the gardens. "I'm sorry, but I don't want to shoot you. Just let me leave and you can live. You can even keep Simon." Using one hand, I turned the doorknob, still maintaining my target. "If you let me go, I won't shoot."
"I'm afraid I can't allow that, August."
I smiled softly. "I know." My smile turned hard and I shot the back wall, making both the guard and Raul duck, giving me a chance to run. I hiked the dress up past my knees and kicked off my heels, running for dear life. Bullets instantly began peppering the hedges around me. I screamed and dove into a fountain for cover.
"Don't shoot her! I need her alive!" I heard Raul shout.
Well, that's just great. I crawled out of the fountain and crept along the hedges, searching for an exit. The whole compound was surrounded by an ivy covered wall and as I grew closer, I could hear cars honking and people yelling. Cars mean people, and people mean help! I shoved my gun down the front of my dress and began to scale the wall, clutching the thick ivy. I was almost at the top when my foot slipped and I lost my balance. I desperately clawed at the vines, but I fell anyway, hitting the ground with a thud. I gasped as the wind was completely knocked out of me.
Come on, get up! It's your only chance! I weakly stood up and tried to run, but I stumbled and fell again. Why do I end up failing miserably when I try to escape? I was still woozy, but got up again and ran, a little more stable this time. Just when I was starting to become steady, a slender figure tackled me right onto the grass. I rolled over and found myself staring into my own face. I screamed and tried to back away, but my look-alike had a good grip on me.
She laughed. "Did you honestly think you could get away?" In response, I spit in her face.
"You never know unless you try," I replied bitterly.
"And try, and try. You know, I pity you, August. All you've ever wanted is to be free and safe with your companions, but you fail every time. You're weaker than I thought you were."
I struggled to get my arms out from under her legs so I could get my gun and shoot her, but she was too heavy. "You're the little viper that got me in trouble back in the States."
The girl smiled. "Guilty as charged. But, at least I'm still free while you are being charged for treason."
"You severely underestimate me," I hissed.
"Well, well, well. Bravo, August. Another failed escape attempt. I got to admit, I think you're losing your touch." I glared at Raul as he strolled up. He squatted down beside me and I wished I had my gun so bad. "I see you've met Cristina. She was the one that impersonated you back in the lab. You have her to thank for your misfortunes." He reached down the front of my dress and I squirmed as his hand closed around my gun and brought it out.
"Why can't we just shoot her now?" Cristina whined. "We're going to have to eventually. We can use me to keep the boy happy if you want."
"You saw how that worked out! He knew it wasn't her from the moment he saw you on the security cameras. If we want him to cooperate, we keep her alive. At least, for now." I involuntarily shivered.
"I don't care what you do with me honestly. Just get this chick off of me!" I yelled.
Raul nodded at Cristina and she got up. But, before I could make a break for it, he grabbed my wrists and pulled me up, too. I tried to escape his grasp, but he pulled me in close. "Don't even think of pulling another stunt like that," he growled in my ear. "I have tried to be a good host, but my patience is wearing thin. What, did you think that you could find someone to help you in the city? Think again, sweetheart. Half of the city police are on my payroll and would gladly bring you back. The other half would be willing to turn a blind eye on your plight for only a small bribe. There's no one out there looking for you. Miller thinks you're dead. You have nowhere to go, anyway. So, why don't you actually try to enjoy yourself for a change? It'd be a lot easier for me and for you."
I angrily ripped my arms away and stomped towards the house. He was right; I had nowhere else to go. And so far I had been failing at escaping him. Maybe if I acted docile for a while he would forget about my more violent tendencies. First, I needed to find Simon. And I need Roy and June to find me…
Blaire was in awe as she watched people bustle around the busy market. She, Roy, and June had docked around the coast the previous day and had made their way to Sevilla where Roy had a contact that could help slip them into Barcelona without detection. "We still have to be careful here," Roy had warned them when they entered the city. "June and I still have upstanding warrants here in Sevilla. I don't want to be arrested today."
She wasn't sure what she thought of Roy yet. Sure, he had saved her life, but he was also a trained assassin, according to August. "You just have to trust him, Blaire. He might be able to kill someone in twenty different ways, but he's the nicest and most protective guy I've ever met. I'd bet my own life on it."
Oh, August, where are you? Roy was certain that August and Simon were being held in Barcelona, but what if he was wrong? Then what would they do? Every second that they wasted, August and Simon's lives were being put at risk. What if they were too late by the time they did find them?
"Deep in thought?" Roy asked. Blaire's head shot up. She hadn't realized she had been daydreaming.
"I'm sorry…I'm just worried about August."
He laughed. "That's the least of your worries. By now, August has probably tried to escape. She might've even succeeded. If not, she's probably succeeded in making Raul consider killing her for being a pain in the neck."
"So, you're not worried about her at all?"
"Sure I am. But, I'd rather focus on figuring out how to save her than fretting about what's happening to her at this moment. Besides, she's the strongest person I know. She can take care of herself."
June walked over from a nearby booth with a basket full of random things. "Who is this contact, Roy?" she wondered.
"He's another old friend of mine. I've known him since we were in the academy together."
"How do you know that he won't turn us in?" Blaire implored worriedly.
Roy gave his trademark grin. "I don't."
"Roy, no," June disagreed. "We can't afford to get captured."
"And we can't waste any more time arguing about this, June. I wouldn't be contacting him unless I was certain that this was our best option. It is. You and Blaire aren't even going to be at the meet."
"What? You'll be exposed!" June was angrier than Blaire had ever seen her. "There's no way I'm letting you go alone!"
Quietly, Blaire stepped back. She didn't want to get involved with this. She might end up getting killed if she sided with someone. "June, I'll be fine."
"That's what you said when you jumped off the bridge in Sevilla and you got shot and almost died!"
"This is different. I'm not going into that kind of situation." Blaire stifled a laugh as she watched the married couple argue.
August was right. They really do argue a lot. She wished once again that her best friend was with her. She would know what to do. But, now it was up to her. Blaire quickly stepped between the couple. "Um…I'm sorry, I shouldn't be intruding on this…discussion, but we are wasting time. So, how about you two come up with a compromise?"
Roy and June looked at each other. "She's right," June said. "I guess Blaire and I can stay at a hotel while you go to the meet. But, if you're not back in an hour, I will personally come track you down, understand?"
He smiled. "I understand." He slipped a pistol into June's hand. "Protect her," he whispered, nodding to Blaire. "August will kill us if anything happens to her."
June nodded in agreement. "I will." She softly kissed Roy.
"Well, that's not much of a send-off," he joked.
"It's so you'll come back for more," June replied secretly.
Roy laughed and whispered something that Blaire couldn't hear in June's ear. June blushed and lightly smacked him. Then, he walked away and June turned towards her. "Let's go. I don't want to get caught."
The two women eventually found a nearby hotel and June purchased a room for the night. Blaire plopped onto a chair while June rushed to the bathroom. She heard June throwing up and walked up to the door. "June, are you okay?" she asked with concern.
"I'm fine, really."
"No, you're not. You're not fine if you're throwing up. How many times?"
"This is four."
Blaire bit her lip. She really did not want to ask this question. "June…are you…gosh, this is awkward. Are you late?"
June opened the door very quickly, almost smacking Blaire in the face. "What did you say?"
She took a deep breath. "Are you late?"
June looked like she was in deep thought. Then, she quietly swore.
"I'll take that as a yes," Blaire said slowly.
"Blaire! I can't be pregnant! I mean, Roy and I haven't even talked about having children yet!" June sat down on the bed and leaned her head in her hands. "What am I going to do?"
"Well, for starters, you need to take a pregnancy test. Just to be sure," she added.
"I know, I just don't want to," June answered. "I almost don't want to know. And if I tell Roy, he'll freak out and not let me do anything to help August and Simon. I can't let that happen; you all need me."
"June," Blaire answered gently. "If you are pregnant, you need to know so you can at least take some precautions. Don't you want your baby to be healthy?"
"Blaire, I don't even know if I'm having one."
"That's why you'll take a test, then. I still want you to help out. I don't know what I'm doing here, honestly. I feel like I've just been dragged into this. I'm not even sure how many times I've almost died in only a few days."
June smiled at her. "That is absolutely normal. You should've seen me a few months ago. I was a nervous wreck while August treated being a fugitive like a walk in the park. She was shooting guns and surviving on her own while I had to be knocked unconscious. I'm fine now, but it just takes a little while. At least you didn't have to go down in a plane crash."
Blaire shrugged. "I did almost drown yesterday."
"Oh, yes, that's right. Well…I guess I'd better take that test, huh?" She reached into her basket and pulled out a small box.
"You already bought one?"
"I guess I was a little suspicious. And I've wanted to have one just in case I'm not able to get to a store for a while. I'll be back." She slipped into the bathroom and Blaire lay back on the bed.
"August, I need you," she whispered. "You better still be alive."
The bathroom door opened a few minutes later and June walked out, staring at the purple plastic stick in shock. "What is it?" Blaire asked worriedly.
June looked up, tears growing in her eyes. "I'm pregnant," she managed to choke.
I was ticked as Raul dragged me through the hallways of his home. What is happening to me? I have never been this weak before. I firmly set my jaw. I was still not going to give up. "So, what now?" I asked. "Let me guess. You're going to say: 'August, if you don't want to die, you will convince Simon to give me the microchip.' Am I correct?"
Raul smirked. "You're right. But, this time it will be a little different." He opened a door and ushered me inside. Instead of seeing Simon working at his desk, I saw an empty desk with a computer sitting on it. "Since you end up getting in trouble when you two are together, I decided to keep you apart. There's a webcam connected to Simon's room. Go ahead, have a seat."
I cautiously sat down in the chair in front of the computer. In seconds, the monitor turned on and there was Simon, tinkering with some mechanical thing. He looked up and gasped when he saw me.
"August? August, are you all right?" He sounded concerned and I realized he was looking at my scratched and bruised body.
"I'm fine, really," I replied. "Don't worry about me."
"What happened to you?"
Raul pushed me to the side and stuck his face in front of the camera. "She tried to escape again. She almost made it over the wall, but fell instead." He rubbed his temples. "Your girlfriend is trying my patience, Simon. Soon, I might just snap and well…something might happen to her."
"Don't you dare hurt her!" Simon yelled.
I jumped out of the chair and ran to the computer. "Simon, don't listen to him! Do not tell him where the microchip is, understand me? I'm all right!" Raul grabbed my arm and pulled me close and I flinched when I felt cold metal against my temple.
"Now, I don't want to kill her," Raul continued. "She's a lovely girl and it'd be a waste of a bullet. But, if you don't tell me where it is, I will shoot her."
"Simon, don't tell him," I managed to gasp. "I'll be fine. I'm one person, remember?"
Raul cocked the pistol and I struggled to remain calm. If I die, at least I know where I'm going. "Last chance, Simon."
"Don't do it," I begged.
"August, isn't there something that you wanted to tell Simon?" Raul said smoothly while holding me firmly in place.
I closed my eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath. I knew what I was going to say. I opened my eyes and smiled. "Simon, I love you."
Raul was ticked. His finger went to the trigger and I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn't want to see Simon's expression. "I love you, you understand?" I screamed. "And if you love me, you will keep your mouth shut and let me die! I'm not going to let them kill you!"
There was a click and I flinched. Tears were streaming down my face. The chamber was empty. I was still alive. I allowed myself to finally breathe. "Time's up, Simon," Raul said. "Be prepared to say goodbye. August, let's go." He pulled me up and led me out of the room. My heart was pounding and I had no idea what was going to happen next. All I knew for sure was that Simon finally knew how I felt about him, but now it was too late to do anything about it.
I was brought back to my room. "I'll be back in a while," Raul told me. "Be ready to leave once I do."
I just nodded. It was no use to fight against him. I leaned my head against the closed door. "I love you, Simon," I whispered. "More than you know. And if I die, at least you finally know the truth." I smiled and walked over to the wardrobe, throwing open the doors. I found the piece of clothing I was looking for and took it out. I'm going out with a bang.
Blaire looked at June in shock. "You're actually pregnant?"
"Yes," June whispered. Her hand was trembling and she had one hand held to her mouth. "Oh gosh Blaire, what am I going to do?"
"You have to tell Roy," Blaire insisted. "He has to know."
"I can't. He'll flip out and won't let me help. I'm not going to stand idly by, either. It's my fault August is in this mess, anyway. If I had taken her with us, she probably wouldn't be kidnapped right now."
"But, then Simon would be alone," Blaire added gently. "At least August can protect him."
"And get herself killed in the process," June muttered.
There was a knock on the door and both girls jumped. June tossed the test in a trash can and Blaire went to check the peephole. "Get back!" June hissed. She was holding a gun at ready.
"What are you going to do, shoot them?" Blaire was horrified. She thought that June hated guns. I guess times have changed.
"Shh!" June replied. "I want you to slowly open the door and get down. If anything happens, you run, understand? Don't worry about me."
Blaire nodded and turned the doorknob. She threw open the door and flattened herself on the floor, instantly covering her ears. But, no bullets were fired. She timidly looked up and saw June was hugging Roy. The gun was on the bed. She sighed in relief and stood up.
"How did the meet go?" June asked. "Will he help us?"
Roy's facial expression changed into something unreadable. "He's only willing to help one of us. A group of three is far too dangerous."
"You mean, we're splitting up?" Blaire cried.
"Which one of us is going?" June demanded. "I just bet it's you, isn't it?"
"Well, yes," Roy answered. "Blaire's new at this, and I'm not letting you go off alone in your…condition."
"What?" June asked in surprise.
"I know you've been getting sick, June. And I've been standing at the door listening to you and Blaire for the last five minutes. Why did you not want to tell me about this?"
"I guess I was afraid. Roy, we haven't even discussed having children yet. How are we going to be able to care for a baby and stay off the grid?"
"We'll figure it out, I promise. Now, we can discuss this later. You and Blaire are going to miss your train."
"A train? To where?" June was confused.
"To Madrid," Roy said nonchalantly, like they should have known.
"You're sending us to Madrid," June said flatly. "You won't even let us come to the city in case you need backup?"
"I'll have August," Roy reasoned. "Please June, just go. Don't argue."
June looked like she might cry. "Just promise me that you will bring them back," she choked. "I know you don't like to make promises that you're not sure you can keep, but please just bring them back."
Roy lifted her chin. "I promise, June. That is one promise I will keep." He kissed her gently. "I'll find you in Madrid in no more than a few days. Just try not to cause any problems." He smiled before grabbing his bag. "I know how hard that will be for you."
"I'll see you soon!" June called. As soon as Roy was out the door, she turned to Blaire. "Get your things together. We're leaving."
Blaire instantly began throwing a few random objects into her small bag. She had learned quickly to take orders. I'll see you soon, August. Then, I want to know everything.