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Ordinary anything but se.., p.4

Ordinary (Anything But Series Book 1), page 4

 

Ordinary (Anything But Series Book 1)
 


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  Honor ran into the street, waving her arms. “Stop! Please!” The rain came harder now, drenching her instantly. It looked like nighttime though it couldn’t have been five yet. The squad car pulled over to the side of the road. Honor’s shoes squished and made sucking noises as she hurried to the vehicle.

  The car door opened and a uniformed officer stepped out. He was tall with brown hair, looked to be in his mid-forties, and had a kind face. It was too dark to read his nametag. “Miss? Are you okay?”

  She wrapped her arms around her midsection, shivering. “No. I don’t know.”

  He reached for her and gently pulled her toward the car. “Let’s get you out of the rain and you can tell me what happened.”

  She nodded. When he opened the back door she hesitated. “Why do I have to sit in the back? Why can’t I sit up front?”

  The officer smiled. “Standard procedure. In you go. Watch your head.”

  Honor looked at his smiling face, decided she had no choice but to trust him, and scooted into the car. The leather was cool against her skin and goose bumps broke out on her flesh. Her teeth began to chatter. The overhead light was on and cast a dim glow inside the car, showing it was spotless, and the car interior smelled like fresh linen.

  His blue eyes met hers in the rearview mirror. “I’m Officer Jake Talley,” he told her.

  “Honor Rochester.”

  She thought his eyes narrowed, but Honor didn’t know why they would, so she decided she imagined it. The radio went off and he pushed a button, quieting it. “Why don’t you tell me what happened, Honor?”

  She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, starting softly, “These two guys came to the school today. They were there yesterday too. They were in a silver Chevrolet Tahoe. I didn’t…I didn’t see the license plate. They took a student, Christian Turner, and he wasn’t at school today. And then, today, they were waiting for me, waiting to take me. They said I had to go with them. I don’t know them. So I ran.”

  Hot tears streamed down her cheeks. Why hadn’t she looked at the license plate? Maybe she could have helped Christian if she had. Stupid—she had been so stupid. He could be dead because Honor hadn’t thought to look at the license plate number.

  “I think…I think they killed him,” she said in a strained voice.

  Saying it made it more real and she felt physically ill. Honor put an arm across her cramping stomach and leaned forward. It couldn’t be true. She didn’t want it to be true. Your fault. You should have done something. It’s your fault. She shook her head, wet strands of hair slapping her face, stinging her cold flesh. No. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.

  She wiped tears and rain from her face and continued in an unsteady voice, “I think they came back today because I saw them yesterday. So I’ve been running. I think they want to kill me too.”

  Honor closed her burning eyes and focused on stabilizing her breathing. You’re safe now. You’re with the good guy. Everything’s fine. They didn’t get you. They won’t. But they got Christian. Guilt hit her, taking the breath from her lungs. She fisted her hands in her lap and stared down at them, fighting not to go hysterical.

  “That’s…quite a story.”

  Her head shot up. “It’s not a story. It’s real and it happened. There are two guys after me and they might have already killed a kid!” Honor was losing control. She felt it slipping away. “You have to believe me.” Her voice shook and she could feel her grasp on lucidity cracking, disintegrating. She was on the verge of freaking out. Not just a little, but big time. Every part of her was trembling and her eyes were out of focus, a ringing forming in her ears.

  Officer Talley twisted around to look at her. “Okay. Easy. Calm down. Take some deep breaths. Everything’s going to be okay, Honor. I need to call this in and then we’ll head down to the station and you can make a statement.” He smiled. “I’m sure your mother is worried about you too, so we’ll give her a call when we get there. Okay?”

  “Can’t you just take me home?” She hated how small her voice was. It sounded weak, defeated.

  “Sorry. No. Not until I file a report on this. Don’t worry, that’s how we always do things.”

  Honor slowly sat back, nodding. She looked out the window and swallowed. Stay calm. Be calm. It’s okay now. You’re going to be okay. You can trust him. He’s the good guy. Don’t forget that. A nearby tree looked warped through the blurry window, its limbs like tentacles stretching toward her. She quickly averted her eyes.

  “Let me call this in quick.” The door opened and he stepped out of the car.

  Honor frowned, shooting upright in the seat. The fear was back in full force. “What are you doing? Where are you going?”

  He leaned in to the front of the car and grabbed a poncho from the seat. He quickly pulled it over his head. The officer’s eyes met hers. He showed her a cell phone. “I’m going to call this in.”

  Honor’s fingers curled around the cool grate dividing them, its edges digging into her flesh. “Wait. But—“

  The door shut with him on the outside. She covered her face with her hands. This isn’t right. Something isn’t right. Honor saw the outline of his dark shape in the rain. Why didn’t he call it in on the car radio? Wasn’t that what cops did? She tried the door even though she knew it was locked. Honor’s eyes searched the back of the car, finding nothing that could aid her. Her body shook and it wasn’t from cold this time.

  He got back in the car and put it in drive. Officer Talley’s eyes touched and slid off her face in the mirror. “We’ll go to the station now.”

  Liar. You’re a liar. Honor huddled in the back. They weren’t going to the police station. No one was going to save her. No one was going to help her. Honor was on her own. She’d have to make a run for it again when he opened the door. It was the only chance she would have. I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry, Scarlet. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. She fought to stay calm, to keep the panic at bay.

  Numbness was creeping over her and Honor had the sense to realize that wasn’t good. She gave herself an inward shake. Don’t give up. Never give up. The voice in her head changed from her own to her father’s. Never give up, Honor, never.

  “So what did these two guys look like?”

  She started at his unexpected question, thoughts on the imagined voice of her father talking to her in her head. Clearly she was losing touch with reality and hysteria must be taking over. Honor’s dad had been dead for two years. No way was he talking to her inside her head. Honor was losing it. She shoved that disturbing thought away and focused on what was most important at the moment: survival.

  “Honor?”

  Something clicked in her mind. “How did you know about my mother?”

  The car turned down a street and sped up. “What?”

  She sat up straight, one hand braced against the seat to remain upright as the car took a sharp left. “You said my mom is probably worried and that you’d call her. How did you know I only have a mother?”

  He didn’t answer for a moment. “I didn’t. I said your parents.”

  Honor lowered her head and slouched back in the seat. She stared at her clenched hands, watched the pale fingers open and close, her eyes lifting as houses passed by in a watery blur, becoming more and more spaced out as they drove. Where was he taking her and what did he intend on doing to her once they reached his destination? The officer was corrupted. He was working with the two bad guys. Ergo he was bad as well.

  She bit her lower lip and willed her body to stop trembling. Fear wasn’t going to help her; she had to concentrate. Honor couldn’t lose her cool. She had to focus on escape. That had to be her priority.

  “Did the men say anything to you? Honor?”

  She ignored him, wrapping her arms around her stomach to contain her body’s trembling. It didn’t help. Be strong, Honor. Again it was her father’s voice instead of her own.

  Lightning cracked the sky and illuminated the rundown Catholic Church no longer in use. It
was a monstrous brick building on the outskirts of Anderson Junction, set apart from the rest of the town. Large pine trees formed a ring around it, as though sheltering it from outsiders. Or to keep it hidden.

  Officer Talley pulled the vehicle into the parking lot behind the building and turned the car off. Honor stared at the structure. It looked like a haunted place out of a ghost movie. Hope and faith and unity were supposed to be found within its interior, but Honor knew that wasn’t what she would find once inside.

  Their eyes met in the rearview mirror. “I need you to come inside with me, Honor.”

  No way. Honor’s heart pounded. She glanced at the dark building, knowing nothing good was inside its walls. Her skin crawled with foreboding. Thunder rumbled as she turned her gaze back to his. “Are you even a real cop?”

  “Yes. I’m a real cop.”

  “You’re supposed to be one of the good guys. You’re supposed to protect people. Why are you doing this?”

  His eyes shifted away from the mirror. Lightning flashed, illuminating the back of his dark head and broad shoulders. But his eyes, his eyes were still turned away, and Honor couldn’t read them. If only she could see them, then maybe she could reach him somehow, make him see he didn’t have to do whatever it was he was about to do.

  “I need you to cooperate with me and you won’t get hurt. If you don’t cooperate, there will be consequences. Do you understand what I’m telling you? Answer me. Honor.” His voice was hard, unrelenting. It demanded to be addressed.

  Honor’s nostrils flared with the force of her breaths. His eyes were visible once more in the rearview mirror. How had she thought his a kind face? It was cold and unfeeling. She swallowed and jerked her head in an upward motion. He got out of the car. Honor squinted her eyes, sure she saw two shapes near the back entrance, watching and waiting. A sound escaped her and she pressed a hand to her lips. It was them; the guys from the school. Of course it was them. Honor inhaled and exhaled slowly. You gotta run, Honor. It was her voice she heard that time, not her dad’s.

  She crouched in preparation.

  The door opened and she dove out, her feet hitting wet blacktop with a jolt. Honor only got a few feet when she was jerked back by her shirt and thrown against the car. She winced at the impact. Rain ran down her face and body in rivulets, chilling her more than she already was. Honor hadn’t thought it possible to get any colder. She was numb and too scared to move. Fear did that—froze you, immobilized you.

  Officer Talley held an arm across her chest and his fingers dug into the flesh of her arm. The face that stared down at her was grim. “You’re a runner. Four years on the track team, right? My niece is two years behind you in school. I’ve seen you at competitions. You’re good.”

  He swiped rain from his face with a hand. “But not that good.” He tightened his arm that held her against the car. The pressure wasn’t quite painful, but almost. “I told you to cooperate. I told you you wouldn’t get hurt.” The officer glanced behind him. “You didn’t listen.”

  Honor looked over his shoulder at the approaching forms. She closed her eyes when they were close enough to be recognizable. Some small part of her had held on to the hope she was wrong about who awaited them. Despair threatened to consume her. She was tired and hungry. She was wet and cold. It would be so easy to stop fighting.

  She gave the officer a beseeching look. “Why are you doing this? What do you want with me? Please let me go. Help me. Please.”

  He shoved her away from the car and twisted her arms behind her back in one fluid motion. “I am helping you.” She had no idea what he meant by that. Handing her over to the two threatening-looking men was in no way helping her.

  Honor came face to face with her pursuers. The short bald one had a scar that went from his left eye to his mouth, like someone had tried to carve his face for fun. His nose was flat, his eyes small and dark. Flashes of lightning gave his already scary features an even more sinister appearance. “Officer Talley. Thanks for your help. We’ll take over from here,” he said in a gravelly voice.

  She shrank back, pressing herself against the officer. “No. Please.” She turned her head to look at him. “Don’t leave me. Please.”

  He made a sound and shook his head. “Did you even talk to her? Explain what was going on?”

  The taller one replied quietly, “We didn’t exactly have time for that. As you’ve witnessed firsthand, she likes to run.”

  “Did you?” the bald man added. Officer Talley didn’t answer. “Hand her over.”

  His grip tightened on her arms and Honor bit her tongue at the sharp pain. “She is not an object. She is a person. I am not just handing her over to you. My orders were to escort her inside. That’s what I plan on doing.”

  The taller man motioned him forward. Officer Talley nudged her. “Come on, Honor.” He propelled her toward the building.

  She choked back a sob. Tears mixed with rain on her face as she marched to her doom. She slipped on loose gravel and the officer righted her. “Please,” she whispered. “Please don’t do this.” They were almost to the metal door. Where was her courage now, when she needed it most?

  His voice spoke softly into her ear, “You’re going to be okay. I promise. Do as they say.”

  “Why are you helping them?” Honor quietly cried.

  “I’m not. I’m trying to help you.”

  Honor twisted her neck to look at him, incredulous. How was this helping her? He stared down at her with conviction in his eyes and nodded once for an answer to her silent question. She faced forward, having no other choice. She closed her eyes as metal clanked from the other side of the door and it swung open with an eerie sound. Fluorescent lights flipped on and Honor blinked as her eyes adjusted. The room was large and devoid of anything. It smelled like cigarettes and Lysol. She looked at the bare white walls. It felt like she had entered a tomb. It was a fitting analogy.

  Officer Talley released her and she fought to stay on feet supported by weak legs. Honor swayed and put a hand on the cold wall. Three locks slid into place, one resounding click after another. The floor showed scuff marks and she wondered if some of them were from Christian as he’d struggled with the two men staring at her. She turned her head from their scrutiny, swallowing with difficulty.

  This wasn’t a church, it was a mausoleum.

  The short man eyed her. “I’m Agent Burns.” He gestured to the taller man. “This is Agent Nealon.”

  Honor straightened and glared at them. “I don’t care who you are. And I don’t believe you’re agents of any kind. Just…” She looked at her pale hands. “Just do whatever you’re going to do with me and get it over with.”

  Did she really just say that? Did she mean it? Yes. Yes she did. But one thing was for sure: Honor wouldn’t go without a fight. She pulled her shoulders back and met their gazes with her head held high. If she was going to die, at least she could die with dignity; not crying and whining and begging for her life.

  Agent Burns chuckled. “You’re a brave one, aren’t you? A fighter. Good. That’s good.”

  Honor glared at him, but didn’t say anything. They’d see how much he liked it when she was clawing his eyes out.

  “Thank you for your help, Officer,” Agent Nealon said, dismissing him.

  Officer Talley gave them a look and Honor got the feeling he didn’t care for them too much either. So why was he aiding them? Maybe he didn’t have a choice.

  Honor’s chest constricted as he slowly turned to her. “You’re going to be fine, Honor.” Officer Talley’s eyes drilled into her, like he was trying to wordlessly communicate with her. “You’re going to be fine,” he repeated.

  He didn’t look away until she gave a short nod. Officer Talley pushed a button on the wall and part of the wall slid open. He walked through the opening and it closed behind him.

  A terrible sense of loss hit Honor as she faced the spot the officer had stood a moment ago. Her last chance of escape was gone. There was no hope for her now,
none at all. She was at the mercy of two madmen. Agent Burns put his hand to the wall and another part of it opened, directly behind Honor. She studied his hand. It was wide and hairy and her skin crawled looking at it. Those were ugly hands, cruel hands.

  “Shall we?” He grabbed her arm and held her in front of him. He smelled like garlic and cigarettes. Honor’s stomach churned and she tried to jerk her arm away, but his sweaty grip tightened.

  “Where are we going?” she choked out.

  “To your new life,” was his response as he pushed her through the opening.

  Honor stared at the rows of metal benches, surprised to find them in place of pews. Other than the structure itself, anything that would have defined it as a church was gone. No one would ever suspect what the inside of the previous church now looked like. Honor never had. She’d run or driven by the building numerous times throughout her teenage years and never once had she thought it was anything but an old, disused church. It was ingenious, really.

  She’d come to the church once as a child when she’d stayed the night at Anna’s. It was so very different from what she remembered. It was the feeling more than the sight of it, although the bare walls and metal benches were a drastic change from what used to be there. The place wasn’t right. Bad things happened there. There was a sterile smell in the air, but it rang false, like death covered over by bleach. Honor shivered, feeling sick.

  Their footsteps echoed as they walked between the two sections of benches. It was surreal, walking down the aisle of the church that should have been holy and was anything but. Honor again tried to pull away from Agent Burns. He tightened his grip until his fingers painfully bit into her bicep. The warmth of his body seeped into her back and she wanted to vomit as his garlic and cigarette smell seeped into her as well. Down the aisle they went, like they were handing Honor off in her wedding to Death. Agent Nealon went ahead of them and opened a door on the side of the room with one touch of a button.

 
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