Final Firing Position Excerpt
Mia Adams smiled as she watched her last client for the day leave. Her smile grew as she gathered her things and prepared to leave work. She couldn’t wait to start her weekend. This week had been hell, so she was ready for the break and the get together with her friends was just what the doctor ordered.
“See you Monday, Mia,” one of her co-workers called.
“Bye. Have a good weekend.” Mia waved as she headed for the door.
She walked outside and raised her head to the sky allowing the sun to shine on her face. The warmth reminded her of the good in the world; of why she did what she did for a living. Everyone needed help at some point in their life. When that time came, she was happy to be there to help bring someone back from the worst events in their life. She became a psychologist and a sexual assault counselor to honor someone that did that exact thing for her ten years ago.
As Mia walked to her car, enjoying the early spring day, she glanced around her surroundings, just as she’d done every day for the last ten years. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw someone standing in the shadows across the street from her. She glanced in the direction she thought she saw the man, trying her best not to look as if she noticed him.
No. It can’t be him, she thought.
She shifted her keys in her hand, placing one key between her fingers to be used as a weapon if needed. She continued to her car and stopped in her tracks at what she saw. With a shaky hand, she picked up the note left on her windshield and read it:
We have unfinished business, you and I, that I can’t wait to conclude.
I’ve been dreaming of this day for ten years, sweet Mia.
I’ll see you soon.
Mia brought her hand to her mouth as tears filled her eyes.
No. No, it can’t be him. It can’t be.
She looked around her.
There, in the shadows across the street. It is him. He’s here. Oh God. Please no.
She opened her car door, got in quickly, then closed and locked the doors. Her hands were shaking so bad, it took her three tries before she was finally able to get her keys in the ignition, start the car, and drive away.
Where to go? I can’t go home. Shit, what should I do? What about Trace? No. No, I can’t bring him into this. None of them. I have to protect them.
Mia took a deep calming breath.
OK, I got this.
She drove to the bank and emptied her bank account. It wasn’t much, but if she were smart, the few thousand dollars she did have should hold her over for a little while. After the bank, she drove home and packed a small bag. It was all she could take with her. She looked around her house one last time knowing it may be the last time ever. Her eyes moved to a picture over the fireplace. A picture of her and Trace.
God Trace. I’m so sorry I have to do this.
Mia picked up her phone and called Trace. He answered on the first ring. “Trace. It’s Mia. I’m sorry to do it like this but…” she took a deep breath.
“Mia, what is it, angel? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing Trace. I…I don’t think things are working out between us. I…I think we should stop seeing it each other.”
“Mia where is this coming from? What’s going on?” Trace asked almost in a panic.
This isn’t like her. What suddenly changed?
“Nothing. It’s just not working out.” Mia had to fight back the tears and emotion in her throat when she added, “Please don’t try to contact me. I’m sorry, Trace. I’m so sorry.” She hung up the phone, placed it on the table then grabbed the picture on the mantel and left her house.
What in the hell just happened? Trace thought as he stared at his phone in disbelief.
He immediately called Mia back only to hear her voice mail. He tried three more times, again receiving her voicemail each time. He decided to go by her house and talk to her in person. Maybe that way he could get some answers as well. When he pulled in her driveway and didn’t see her car, he knew something was wrong. He grabbed the spare key she kept hidden on the porch, unlocked the door, and walked in. As he walked into the living room, he immediately knew something was off but wasn’t sure what.
“Mia? Mia, where are you?” Trace called loud enough to be heard throughout the entire house.
He searched the house looking for her, hoping, as bad as it sounded, that she wasn’t answering because she was hurt or couldn’t for some reason. He was both relieved and worried when he didn’t find her. Trace returned to the living room and found her phone laying on the table beside the couch.
I guess she really is done.
He took one last look around and noticed the picture of the two of them was missing.
She broke things off, appears to have disappeared leaving everything here but her phone, yet she took the picture of us? Something isn’t right. But what and where in the hell is she?
Trace left Mia’s place with more questions than answers, as well as a healthy amount of fear for her and a broken heart.
You need to call him, Mia. You can’t do this alone anymore. He’s a badass that can protect you from all of this. You never should have left him to begin with. You should have told him from the start. He could have helped, protected us. I know damn it. You don’t have to remind me, stupid conscience.
Mia took a deep breath and let it out slowly gathering her courage for what she had to do.
God, please let him pick up the phone.
“Trace? It’s Mia.”
Trace was a member of Nine Circles Security’s Alpha team. They were among the best in the world at what they did. Most were former tier one operators of their respective military branches (Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Air Force Paratroopers, etc.), law enforcement, and even some three letter agencies.
Needless to say, they were all absolute badasses, which is precisely what she needed right now. Trace may not be a big as the others on the team, but he was still someone you didn’t want to screw with. He was taller than her at about six feet one inch, had broad shoulders (broad enough to fit me at least), dark military cut hair, and hazel eyes. Oh, and he had a drool-worthy body.
And you pushed him away when we needed him most, like a dumbass. I know that! I know I should have gone to him or Logan. I know it, OK? So, please, just shut up, brain!
“What do you want, Mia?” Trace asked roughly with hurt in his voice. Mia was the only woman he wanted, ever loved. All five and a half feet of strong, succulent, woman. Her long red hair had a touch of a wave that set off her emerald green eyes and framed her soft features. Her hourglass figure accentuated her breasts and her taut ass.
God, I’ve always loved her ass.
She stole his heart the moment he met her. When she pushed him away and broke things off, it hurt more than he thought it would, and he still didn’t understand why she did it. He tried to look into why she disappeared, where she went, but he kept hitting dead ends.
Mia heard the hurt in Trace’s voice. Hurt she put there when she broke things off in a lame attempt to protect him. Hurt she caused when she left with no explanation at all.
Yeah, protect a badass like Trace? Again, shut up, brain!
God, she didn’t want to bring him into this, any of them, but she figured out quickly she needed help and fast. “I…I need your help,” she said stuttering with fear. “I’m…I’m in trouble, Trace. I can’t go to Molly or Logan, not yet anyway. You’re the only one I trust.”
God, please let him help me.
She heard him talking in the background like the phone was against his chest or his hand covering it.
He must be with the team.
“Tell me where you are. I’m coming. But Mia, make no mistake, we will talk when I get there.”
“OK. I’ll do whatever you say, just please hurry.” She may have damaged their relationship beyond repair, but she’d do anything if it meant he’d help her including telling him everything he wanted to know. At this point, it was the least she could do. “Do you remember the first time we hung out? What we did after?”
“I’m there.” She took a deep breath. “And Trace, please hurry. I don’t know how much longer I can stay here before they find me again.”
Again? What the fuck is going on? Trace thought, worry and fear for Mia ratcheting up again.
“I’m on my way. Give me about ten minutes.”
Trace wasn’t sure what the hell was going on with Mia, but he was damn sure going to find out. He had a feeling that whatever was going on now was the reason she pushed him away and broke things off. Whatever the reason, he would rectify the situation one way or another. She wasn’t going to push him away this time. Like it or not, he was all in, and she better get on board with it and fast.
Mia looked out into the night and the area surrounding the barn. The night was clear with a full moon and a blanket of stars that allowed her to see a fair distance, but also meant they could see her. She hid as best she could in the shadows of the barn while she continued to watch for any approaching vehicles.
Please hurry Trace, she begged nervously.
She saw a truck turn off the road and head towards the barn.
That isn’t Trace’s truck. Shit! He’s here, Mia thought as she ran inside the barn to hide.
Eric stepped out of the stolen truck and walked to the barn. He’s been on Mia’s trail since the day he saw her leave work. Funny thing, the chase turned him on almost as much as what he dreamed of doing to her.
He took his time walking to the barn, knowing full well she was in there and savored the fear he knew his presences caused her. For ten years he dreamed of this moment. Ten long years. Ten years of pent-up sexual desire. Ten years of picturing and planning exactly what he would do when he finally had her in his grasp. Ten years of fending off every piece of shit he came across in prison. A prison she was responsible for putting him in.
“Mia…I know you’re here,” he sang. “Come out come out where ever you are. We have some unfinished business you and I.”
Mia sank deeper into the shadows careful not to bump anything that would give her position away.
Please hurry, Trace. Please God, let him get here in time.
“Miiiiiiaaaaaaaa,” Eric called again.
Mia felt her shoulder bump a tool hanging on the wall behind her.
Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!
She moved as quickly and quietly as she could from her spot to hide in another shadow, praying she would be out of sight before Eric pinpointed the noise.
Eric heard the noise in the direction of the wall behind him, turned and walked that way.
I know she’s here. I can smell her.
He came up to the wall and saw a tool swaying. He looked to his left. Nothing. To his right, he saw her. He took two quick steps and grabbed her long red hair. “Gotcha.”
Mia screamed and struggled as best she could to get out of his grip, but panic kept her from thinking straight. “Let me go you bastard!”
“I don’t think so, sweet Mia. We have unfinished business that I plan to take care of right now.” Eric took Mia and shoved her against the barn wall.
Mia was still fighting, struggling, kicking and hitting anything she could in an attempt to loosen his grip.
With fear and defiance in her voice, she screamed, “What do you want?”
Calmly and almost gently, Eric replied, “Oh, sweet Mia. You know exactly what I want, and I’ve waited a long time for this.” He licked his lips like she was a piece of candy he was about to eat, then added, “To finish what we started so very long ago.”
Oh God. NO! she begged in her head.
She knew it would do nothing but turn Eric on if she said it aloud.
Please Trace…hurry! Oh God, I can’t go through this again. I can’t.
Eric held Mia against the wall with his hand around her neck squeezing just enough to contain her and make it difficult to breathe; just like he did ten years ago. He was hard as a rock as he recalled the memory. He leaned in close and rubbed himself against her.
“Remember this, sweet Mia? I do and I’ve been dreaming about this moment for ten years.”
“Stop this! You don’t have to do this, Eric!” Quieter and fighting back her tears, she begged, “Please don’t do this.”
“It’s too late for begging. It’s too late for you in general. When I’m done here no one will ever find you.”
Mia heard another vehicle approach the barn.
Please, God. Let it be Trace.
She took the deepest breath she could with Eric holding her by her neck and screamed for all she was worth. “HELP!!!!!”
Trace arrived at the barn ten minutes after Mia called just as he said he would, but he didn’t see her anywhere. He got out of the truck, looked around, and spotted another truck.
If she had a truck why didn’t’ she come to me? And, where is she? She said she’d be here.
Trace walked towards the barn when he heard a scream. “Mia,” he said as he ran towards her voice, nerves, adrenaline, and protective instincts on high. When he entered the barn and saw her being held by an asshole fondling her breasts, he just about lost his shit right then, only his training keeping him calm enough to think. He ran to her, pulled the asshole off, and turned to look at Mia, “Are you OK?”
Thank God he showed up when he did, Mia thought as she caught her breath.
“Look out!” Mia yelled.
Trace turned around in time to see the asshole try to take him out with a shovel. He ducked then came up swinging. Trace connected with the dickhead’s face knocking him on his ass. “Stay behind me, Mia. Do you know this asshole?”
“Yes, I know who he is. His name is Eric. I’ll explain everything, but can we please get out of here first?”
“You don’t want to call the police?”
“No. They won’t or can’t do anything. I’m not sure which. Please, Trace. Get me out of here,” she begged as she tugged on the back of his shirt trying to pull him to the barn entrance.
Trace pointed at the dick and with a menacing voice said, “If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay down.” He reached back for Mia and was pleased when she grabbed his hand. “Let’s go.”
Eric wiped the blood from his lip as he looked up at them.
Fuck, spoiled again. Who is this fucking asshole anyway? Does it matter? He’ll get his for this too.
He gave Mia the same evil grin and glint in his eyes he gave her ten years ago. “I’ll be seeing you, sweet Mia. I’ll see you very soon.”
Mia squeezed Trace’s hand tight. So tight he thought she might break it. “Not if you know what’s good for you,” Trace told him.
Eric smiled again, “You have no idea what you just walked into. You should have let me have her.”
“Please, Trace. Let’s get out of here,” Mia begged.
Trace nodded and escorted her to his truck. After he helped her in, he hurriedly walked to the driver’s side and sat behind the wheel. He heard her let out a deep sigh of relief when he locked the doors.
God, the fear in her eyes.
“What’s going on Mia?”
“Eric won’t be alone. If someone isn’t already here, they will be soon, and he’ll come after me again.
Please, Trace. Get us out of here.” Mia looked out towards the road where another vehicle approached.
Shit, they’re already here,” she said as she pointed towards an approaching car.
Trace started the truck and pulled away with his headlights off to disguise their departure. “Who is that, Mia? Who or what are you running from?”
“I’ll tell you everything. I promise. But please, Trace, let’s get somewhere safe first.”
The fear in her voice and eyes told him everything he needed to know for the moment. “Alright. What did you have in mind?”
“I…I can’t decide that. They seem to know everywhere I go, what I would do. You need to make that decision. I’ve already changed clothes, shoes, underwear, everything so I know I’m not being tracked. And I called you from a burner phone I bought with cash, but they still seem to find me.”
“Alright, I have an idea. I know of a safe house NCS has that we can use. It’s off the books, so if whoever that was figures out who I work for he or she shouldn’t be able to put NCS together with the house. We should be safe there long enough to get some answers and make a plan. It’s fully stocked with food, clothes, weapons…everything we’ll need. There should be clothes for you as well.” Trace looked over at her. “When’s the last time you actually slept?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a day or two ago? I’m not sure. Nothing more than five minutes here and there. I couldn’t afford anything more. I had to keep moving since they kept finding me.”
A day or two my ass. She looks like she hasn’t slept in weeks.
“Sweetheart, do you know what day it is or when we talked last?”
“We talked…” she thought about it for a second trying to figure it out. “…about a week or so ago.”
“No, angel. It was three weeks ago.”
Shit, this is bad, Trace thought.
It’s been three weeks? Where did the other two weeks go? Mia wondered.
Trace sighed, “It’ll take us about an hour to get to the safe house from here. Why don’t you try to get some shut-eye while I drive?”
“I’ll try, but I can’t promise anything.” Mia reached over and placed her hand on his forearm and squeezed. “Thank you Trace. I…I didn’t know who else to call.” Trace looked at her and nodded. She closed her eyes and before she knew it, drifted off to sleep.
Trace promised to keep Logan and Mac updated on the situation. He intended to keep that promise especially since he had a feeling he would need their help before this was done.
“Logan, it’s Trace. I’m with Mia.”
Logan was watching his wife, Molly, pace the living room freaking out about Mia. Molly and Mia had known each other longer then Logan knew his wife. He tried to keep the situation from her until he knew more, but Molly could always tell when he was hiding something. When it came to missions, she knew not to ask, but this time she knew it wasn’t about a mission. Now, she was more worried than he was.
“How is she? What in the hell is going on?” Logan asked with fear and worry in his voice. He looked at Molly and raised his index finger asking for a minute before she began grilling him for information.
“I’m not sure yet, but I have a feeling she’s in some serious shit. When I arrived at the barn, some asshole was attacking her and when we were leaving another car showed up. She also said everywhere she went they found her and she’s positive she wasn’t tracked. I’m taking her to the safe house Mac and Kayla used for now. When I have more info, I’ll call you back.” Trace paused for a second and took a deep breath.
“And Logan, she’s in rough shape. She said she hasn’t slept in a couple of days, but I’d say it’s been longer. She’s also lost track of time, and she’s definitely lost some weight.”
“Shit man. Do you want us to meet you there?”
“No. Not yet at least. Let me see what I can find out from Mia and go from there. She’s promised to tell me everything.”
“Alright, just be sure to let me know. Molly is already up my ass about this, and everyone is worried. She’s one of us, Trace. You know that.”
“Yeah, I do, and I’ll keep you in the loop. Do me a favor and call Mac and update him and Kayla, will ya?”
“Thanks, Logan. Talk soon.” Trace hung up and looked at Mia. All the feelings he tried to bury when she disappeared came rushing back the moment he saw her in the barn. No matter what, this time he wasn’t letting her go without a massive fight. Like over his dead body.
Logan looked at Molly and saw the fear in his wife’s eyes. “She’s with Trace right now. He doesn’t know what’s going on yet, but she’s safe.”
Molly fell onto the couch next to her husband in relief. “I can’t lose her, Logan. I can’t.”
He pulled his wife into his arms. “I know, love, and you won’t. We’ll take care of this.”