Nikki sat in Starbucks in shock. Her breathing coming in hard gasps, her eyes wide, staring unseeing into the distance.
She still felt his tongue in her mouth, still smelt his aftershave, still tasted him – but her senses betrayed her for he was gone.
Paul had left a few seconds before and her eyes wandered to the just closed doors. There was no sign of him.
Nikki felt bereft somehow. Bereft of what she asked herself confused, wrinkling her forehead whilst trying to follow her thoughts.
He was gone.
She ran the napkin softly through her fingers, seeing his number written on it.
Suddenly all the noises around her echoed back loudly and she glanced startled around, taking in the strangers staring at her.
She jumped at her feet, grabbed her handbag in one smooth movement and jolted out of the door.
Which way? Which way would he have gone?
She closed briefly her eyes and recalled his last words, “Call me, Sweetie. Unfortunately I have to go now.”
He was in a rush. And she couldn't imagine Paul waiting at the bus station, so he must be at the underground garage on the way to his car!
Turning on her heels Nikki sprinted to the elevators, hurriedly making her way down the mall, barely avoiding a collision or two with other shoppers.
At the elevators she was rewarded with the sight of Paul, talking to a short, stubby man with glasses and pressing the lowest button, before the doors closed.
“Damn it!” she muttered under her breath, and came to stop in front of the lifts.
Watching the lights above the three cabins she realized that two of them were heading up to higher levels, and the one with Paul inside was going down to the underground floors.
With a deep sigh she turned to the stairway and literally flew down the stairs, panting heavily as she finally reached the door to the lowest level.
A sudden instinct told her to cool down and to open the door cautiously.
She drew some deep breaths, tucked a cheeky strain of her messy hair behind her ear and slowly opened the door.
She peered through the small opening gap, and caught sight of a dark grey SUV with mirrored glass, parked with back doors in her direction. Paul and the other man were standing before the car, obviously in a heated discussion.
“What the heck were you doing in there, Paul? Kissing some little bleep instead of doing your work – are you crazy? If Mr. Kim comes to know that…” the short man hissed to Paul, but was rudely disrupted by the angry voice of Paul,
“First: don’t call her a bleep! Second: if you leep you filthy mouth shut Kimmie will never now! And third: what’s the matter – we have what we needed, Irons will do what the company want him to do…”
With this words Paul opened the back doors of the SUV and Nikki bit her lips in afford to avoid making a noise of surprise – the SUV was filled with electronical, blinking stuff and – her eyes widened with horror – with weapons, in different shapes and sizes, meticulously strung together at one side of the SUV.
Paul removed his coat, revealing a broad chest in a snow white shirt and with the help of the other guy – who was now red headed and angry – they removed a string and a little electronic device from Paul and in a final step a little gizmo from Pauls ear.
Nikki’s chin dropped at her chest, and tears stung in her eyes. What the heck – who was this guy? What had he done in there – and who was this “Irons”?
Whilst all these thoughts were shooting through her brain Paul's cellphone rang, he held it up to his ear and listened without talking before slamming the phone shut and spat out,
“Damn, that bleepard Kimmie wants me to catch that little chick – somehow she had managed to escape Landon and somehow the hit on her has ended with the death of a pedestrian. She’s still running and now I need to go fix it!”
Turning at his heels he shot a direct glance towards where Nikki was hiding.
Nikki felt a jolt of fear, she was so sure that he had spotted her, but there was no sign of it in his face, only anger, and then he headed for the drivers seat of the SUV, starting the engine whilst the other guy closed the back doors and joined him in the passenger seat.
Nikki closed the door completely and with suddenly weary and shaky legs she barely managed to sit down on the dirty stairs.
Her brain felt numb, a thousand thoughts running amok and, as she felt hot liquid running across her cheeks, she buried her head in her hands and cried bitter tears about her own stupidity and her silly feelings of betrayal and hurt.
It was several minutes later that she made her way to a restroom, head lowered so that no one could see her red eyes and blurred make up.
She opened the door and peered inside – thanks to God it was empty.
She stepped in and made her way to the mirrors, and was taken aback at the sight of herself.
Looking at her pale, tear stained face with the puffy red eyes she could only shake her head at herself.
Whilst splashing cold water at her hot face she thought about what had happened to her over the last days.
She had got the promotion for which she had worked so hard, and that meant to leave her life, her family and friends in England behind and to pack up and move to Chicago in only two weeks.
She had immediately called her friend in Chicago and was assured she could live with her until she found her own place.
The two weeks had flown by, and before she could blink she stood with her luggage - the rest of her belongs to be sent to her once she settled - at the airport in London and waved her family goodbye.
She had been so excited, so happy to move to Chicago to be near her best friend just like they always had envisioned as little girls.
But on her arrival at Chicago, her friend was not there to pick her up from the airport.
All efforts to reach her friend ended in talking to a lifeless answering machine and because her friend had just moved to be closer at her work she had no idea where to go. She thought about going to see her friend's father but that would have felt awkward. Although Frank had always been a close friend of her father, the death of Frank's wife had strained their friendship and she wasn't sure she would be welcome.
So she ended up in a hotel in downtown Chicago.
She had been there for two days before she finally had reached her friend but instead of a happy greeting and an apology for not picking her up, she had sounded strange. Sad and - Nikki thought she was surely imagining it - hunted? With a hushed and unsteady voice she suggested this mall to meet up with Nikki, blocking all questions about what has happened.
Well, Nikki had arrived in time but as her cellphone rang she was barely able to understand the message left on the voicemail. Once again her friend let her down but her voice had been so tearful and shaking that Nikki was more upset about not being able to be there for her, instead of being angry at being left alone.
***End of Flashback***
That was when she decided it was time for a cappuccino. That was when she met this amazing man with this stunning seablue eyes. That was when she was bold, for the first time in her life, and asked a man out – a complete stranger!
Nikki took a deep breath and glanced critically at her face in the mirror. She used a papertowel to dry it, and started to apply make up again.
As she stuffed her make up back in her handbag her eyes fell on the napkin with Paul’s number on it.
With a sigh she caressed the napkin with her thumb, grabbing it to throw it away… but… she couldn’t.
Shaking her head she thought about all she knew of him: He was a big, broad chested guy with tanned skin, with unbelievable seablue eyes and a slight ironic smile she could die for… He looked really good… more than good… He smelled good… and – now she blushed – damn - he tasted good… She felt her heart starting to race, and a twitch of desire in her stomach.
Nikki shook herself out of reverie, and forced herself to bring up the other points in her little list:
He was not what she believed he was - he seemed to be a dangerous guy. He had met up with a suspicious looking man, they headed for the underground garage. There was the more suspicious looking SUV with all the odd electronics in it and – MOST suspicious and scary of all – loaded full with different weapons.
And he was wired up with a strange device… He had done a strange job in the mall… concerning a person called Irons?
It sounded like they had gathered information from that man to – what? To blackmail him? So that this Irons “will do what the company want him to do”?
Pauls cold voice still rang in her ears.
And – the final and worst point – what Paul had said about that “chick”, the woman he should find… it had sounded like he had to finish the work for another ominous man… to kill that woman who had managed to escape.
Nikki looked at the young woman in the mirror, and the young woman looked back with big, pale blue and terrified eyes, too big in her pale face.
She sighed sadly, tears shone in her eyes.
No… she would not call him back… he was a bad man… God knows what bad situation her own surprising boldness had almost bought to her, but she had to stop it now, before it got out of hand.
Finding strength in this decision she walked out of the restroom, called a Taxi and headed back to her Hotel.
She was so tired, she only wanted to fall in her bed and forget how strange her life was at the moment.
But just as she closed the door of her hotel room behind her, her cell phone rang.
She picked it up, and stand stock-still as she heard the heartbreaking sobs of her best friend on the other end.
“N-nikki?” Sara's voice echoed down the line as an ice cold hand of fate grabbed at Nikki, sending shocks through her spine…
“Please, help me… s-somebody must help me… ”
Author's Chapter Notes:
Ok, from now on I had written directly in english, and that was much better... :)
I think the difference is palpable, but see yourself...
Thanks for reading!
I think the difference is palpable, but see yourself...
Thanks for reading!
Chapter End Notes:
Please let me know what you think! :)