A blinding flash, followed by a bang, rocks the room, dulling my senses. I can't see a thing, and my ears are ringing. The world tilts alarmingly, and I realize I've hit the floor. The sound of breaking glass reaches me through the screaming of my eardrums. What the hell is happening?
Another flash, and another bang, and my instincts kick in. I crawl away from the direction of the light and sound, desperately searching for shelter. When Don carried me to this corner, I had seen that behind the chair he seated himself on there was a table. It wasn't very high but seemed to be made of sturdy wood. I reach out with my hand, and when I touch wood, inch myself toward it and try to slide as far under the table as I can.
Pop, pop, pop. The sounds ring out in the room, followed by much louder retorts, with the unmistakable boom of gunfire. My heart pounds wildly, and I struggle to get in enough breath to stop me feeling lightheaded.
Then I hear a voice that takes all my fear away.
“I really wouldn't do that if I were you,” the deep voice says.
I would recognize his baritone anywhere.
I always hoped they would but had started to believe it would be too late. I'm so elated that I don't stop to think about the danger I'm putting myself in as I crawl out from under the table, desperate to find my men again.
An arm fastens around my middle and starts to pull me in the opposite direction. I scream, but a hand drags me upright and slams over my mouth. My heels burn on the carpet as I am hauled out of the room and into the hallway. Here, there is no smoke, and I can suddenly see. I blink my eyes to clear them of the residual sparkles from the flash and wrestle free from the man holding me in his grip. I raise my fist, determined this time I will fight.
“I know I deserve that, but don't knock me out just yet. There's still some fighting left to do.”
Not caring now about what happened on the island, I drink him in, terrified he’s an apparition of my tormented mind.
“It’s okay, Honor,” he says.
He’s really here. I sag against him, and his big arms come around me, holding me up.
“You came,” I say breathlessly.
“Of course, we did. We will always come for you. I owe you an apology, but that needs to wait for now. Can you stay out here, please, until it's safe?”
I don't want to stand out here while those men fight for their lives in there. I know, however, that I would be a liability. I don't have a weapon, and even if I did, I'm not an expert at using one. They would be worried about me and put themselves at more risk. So, I do the grownup thing, and despite my desire to help, I nod.
“Good girl,” he says. Then he kisses my forehead before disappearing back into the chaos of the living room.
I know I should stay far away, but I need to know what's going on, so I inch toward the door and peek through the crack in the doorjamb.
The smoke is slowly clearing, and what I see turns my stomach. Most of the enemy contingent of men in the room are laid on the floor with their hands over their heads, except for three. Don, who has a gun trained on Asher. A stocky man in his thirties, who has a knife between Rafferty’s shoulder blades. Finally, the old man, who has a gun trained dead center on Wilder's forehead.
Wilder has his own gun trained on Don, and Rafferty has his weapon aimed squarely at the older man. Except there's something wrong. Rafferty is level-headed and cool at all times, and yet his hands are shaking.
The old man never takes his eyes from Wilder as he laughs sneeringly. “You can't shoot me, Rafferty, boy. You know you can't. Oh, what?” He gives a mock ‘oh dear’ sound between pouted lips. “Didn’t think I would recognize you? Well, I do. You were always a good boy. It would be such a terrible sin to hurt me. Besides, you and I had such a special relationship. You were always such a favorite of mine, Rafferty. I'm dismayed to see you have fallen so low as to be hanging around with trash like this one here.” He jerks his chin at Wilder.
If I don't do something, one of the men is going to be hurt badly, or worse. They came here because of me, and now they are in danger.
“It looks like we have ourselves a regular Mexican standoff here. So, how about we discuss a way out of this?” Don says with remarkable calm. The man isn't even sweating. Whereas Rafferty still shakes as he trains the gun on the old man.
I can't see Brody, and that puzzles me. A moment ago, he was out here in the hallway with me, and he definitely entered the living room, so where is he?
Deciding I can't stand here watching any longer and do nothing, I dart into the kitchen. As silently as I can, I tiptoe around, opening drawers. Finally, I see what I'm looking for. A knife block. I take out the largest one. The big knife is long and ends in a terrible, sharp point. I like the weight of it in my hand, but it’s too big and heavy to conceal—especially as I’m practically naked.
I slide it back in and try a different one. This one still has a long blade, but it’s the type of knife used for filleting fish and is slender and lightweight.
It will do.
Carefully, I tuck the knife into the waistband of the thong at my back. The thong is fitted tightly, with strong elastic snapped close to my skin, and it manages to hold the weapon in place. I take a few tentative steps, and the knife doesn’t fall.