By Midnight Rose
Catherine ran madly through the dark cavernous warehouse, zigzagging among the endless rows of stacked boxes and crates. She paused in a gap between two towering pallets of packaged goods to catch her breath and to listen for the rapid footsteps of her three armed pursuers. The frantic beat of her heart pounded in her ears.
The dark warehouse was dizzying with its vast space and endless rows of boxes and crates that were laid out symmetrically, identical. Squares of silver light from high windows protected by iron bars cast an eerie mix of shapes and shadows on the vertical stacks. Crisp footsteps on the concrete floor echoed off the metal walls distorting the direction and distance of the footfalls.
Clutched in her hand was one of her high-heel shoes. Isaac had made two observations about ladies high-heeled shoes: one, you cannot run in them; two, you can hear the click of the heels a mile away. When eluding the enemy, you want to slip away as quickly and quietly as possible---impossible when wearing heels. Catherine found another use---If not an expensive one---throw a shoe as a decoy. It had worked so far.
Catherine had crashed through double doors into the warehouse from an office down a long hallway. An office from which she had escaped after three men, who did the dirty work for a drug dealer the DA was prosecuting, decided to interrogate her about the whereabouts of a police-protected witness. The street-wise investigator had made a beeline for the electrical box smashing the circuits with a huge construction wrench she found laying nearby; a fireworks display of sparks plunged the colossal building into blackness and shadow. Vincent had taught her the advantage of darkness.
Unfortunately, with her head throbbing from being slapped around during the interrogation and blindly dodging between boxes in the semi-darkness, Catherine had lost her bearings. She was hopelessly lost in the vast warehouse, her head spinning, her mind drifting. This was not in the DA job description! Why do criminals always go for the new guy? I just bought these shoes. You are the cat and I am the mouse… Focus, Chandler!
Catherine shook her head to clear it; she had to find a way out. She could only elude her pursuers for so long and she was running out of time and options. The petite woman moved carefully around an abandon forklift and along the edge of a wide side isle; her back was to the boxes and her eyes open for any movement at either end of the long row. Isaac had cautioned, "Always know what was coming up behind you." It was very confusing. She could not tell from what direction the armed men were coming from, their footsteps echoed from every direction. She knew they were closing in on her position. There would be no escape.
Suddenly, hands grabbed Catherine from behind. One covered her mouth, while the other wrapped tightly around her waist, pinning an arm. She struggled against the steel grip as she was sucked back into the shadows between two pallets. Her free hand dropped her remaining shoe to claw at the thick wrist of the hand cupped over her mouth. She panicked, inwardly screaming with terror to the echo of the dropped shoe.
"Be still." A low black velvet tone commanded softly in her ear. It was the voice she had come to trust---Vincent. She relaxed in surrender.
Instantly, the three men converged on the discarded shoe spotlighted by a flashlight. The hand-held beam swung down the narrow gap. The three men sneaked around the block of boxes---nothing. The trio spread out into the parallel corridors stopping at intervals to climb up the stacks and check the tops---nothing. Piles of empty pallets and rolls of packing plastic were inspected. They walked around scattered forklifts parked wherever the operators had stopped them at quitting time. Nothing---the DA woman had disappeared.
Two of the three men converged at one end of the long warehouse rows, looking hopelessly at one another. They hoped their companion would get lucky and find the woman, for there would be hell to pay if they returned to their boss empty handed.
Hidden beneath their very noses in the low shadow of an over loaded pallet suspended off the floor on a forklift, two figures huddled under a cloak of dusty black. Catherine was on her belly, her cheek pressed against the cold concrete floor. Vincent lay half on top of her, his elbows baring his massive weight. As the searching men passed their hiding place, Vincent dropped his head, his deep hood concealing their faces. Vincent’s breath was warm against Catherine’s ear and the hollow of her jaw. She could feel the slow resonant pound of his powerful heart through her back; it echoed through her keeping time with the frantic pulse of her own.
A drift of thought stole into the edge of her throbbing, focused mind and senses. The way they lay together was almost intimate. Vincent had rekindled their friendship only a few months ago and they often shared hugs of friendship; the reality of Vincent lying with her, his weight all but crushing, stirred her slumbering desires. Along with Vincent’s closeness came the unique, musk scent of him mixed with the smell of leather, smoke, and beeswax. Catherine’s thought’s drifted, she dreamed of other circumstances, another place; another time…the daydream was broken by angry voices that shocked her back to reality.
"We lost her, she escaped out a side door. It was left open," swore the third man as he ran up to the others.
"Those meat-heads called workers," cursed another. "The boss is going to have our heads!"
"Let’s go," motioned one of the men in disgust. He and the others retreated back toward the offices.
Vincent led Catherine straight to the side door that was still ajar. As he lifted her easily into the cradle of his strong arms and carried her outside, Catherine’s fuzzy brain noted that the metal door was warped and hanging cock-eyed. Vincent, with his great strength, had nearly torn the door from its hinges in his effort to reach her. Catherine clasped her arms more securely around Vincent’s thick neck and buried her face against his jaw, relaxing because she was safe within his care. Thank you. She thought she heard herself whisper. She was once again amazed and grateful for the magical connection between them, their Bond Vincent had called it, which allowed him to find her anywhere and come to her aid.
Her thoughts began to drift again as she succumbed to the rocking sway of Vincent’s gait. I am a boat… I’m on a boat on the sea… bobbing… drifting on the waves… Vincent was her anchor; she mused in a groggy metaphor before her thoughts spun away in dizzy circles. She knew, with clarity, that with Vincent connected to her heart, she would never be completely lost or adrift again.