"All units respond! There is a report of a shooting and hostage situation off University and Dale Street. I repeat, all units respond…" the blare of the dispatcher's voice came over the radio just as Ivey got into her police cruiser. She barely had the door closed before using one hand to grab her receiver and the other for the seat belt.
"10-4, this is Agent Link. I am just down the street and am on my way. I repeat, this is Agent Link, and I am en route." Ivey placed her gas station coffee in the cup holder of the center console and threw her breakfast onto the empty passenger seat. She had the sirens blasting and the lights flashing before she even got out of the parking lot of the small local gas station.
Breakfast, which consisted of a healthy protein bar and a bag of peanuts, was going to have to wait.
"Be advised: the suspect is armed and dangerous and has a hostage," the dispatcher continued. "All units in the vicinity, respond."
"10-4, This is Officer Black. It's going to take me another fifteen minutes," the familiar voice emanated in response to the dispatcher's command. In the meantime, Ivey maneuvered her cruiser, none too gently, around an SUV refusing to move over for law enforcement. Any other time and she would have stopped the driver.
"Agent Link, do not attempt to engage without backup."
Ivey rolled her eyes. It was Officer Black again on the radio. Officer Black who thought himself her superior when in reality, it was the other way around. They had been partners for a few years during his earlier days on the force and formed a sort of camaraderie with one another.
Besides, time's a-wasting! Ivey already had the suspect in her line of sight. If the reports of shots fired were accurate, she couldn't risk the lives of any more innocent bystander. She didn't intend to squander a single minute hiding, waiting for back up. The suspect appeared to be getting more agitated by the minute. His female hostage wasn't doing so well either with a gun to her head.
Ivey stopped a few yards in front of the culprit to assess the situation. When he wasn't bellowing at the bystanders surrounding him, he was shaking his head, appearing to be muttering to himself. He didn't seem to care that his hostage wasn't at all quiet. She rotated between a series of screams, whimpers, and shouts for help. When no aid came, she would begin the process all over again.
Ivey grabbed her radio, "10-4. This is Agent Link. I have the suspect in my line of sight and am going to attempt to approach and negotiate. I can't wait for back up!"
"What do you mean you— "
Ivey didn't remain long enough in the cruiser to listen. One hand on her gun, she swung her cruiser door as wide as it could go with the other. Using it as a shield, she shouted at the suspect, "Put your gun down, sir, and let the lady go!"
"Stay back!" The suspect tugged his hostage even closer. "I will fucking shoot her if you don't stay back!"
Ivey motioned for the bystanders to move farther back while slowly guiding herself away from her cruiser. It went against her training to move from cover, but she needed to make eye contact with the hostage. She needed to calm the hostage down first before she could hear what the perpetrator was shouting about.
Ivey shifted her attention from the culprit to the hostage, and then back to the culprit again. He appeared to pay her no heed though, his movements erratic and disoriented.
It made for a dangerous situation.
Ivey made sure no one else was in the line of sight in case she needed to fire her weapon. Her aim was usually spot on, but she never had to shoot before under duress. At the same time, Ivey had to figure out how to get him to release his prisoner.
Her fingers tightened around the gun at her waist, but she didn't bring it out for fear of alarming the suspect.
Sirens resounded in the distance.
It was probably going to be another six to eight minutes before backup arrived.
"Okay, okay," she stopped about fifteen feet from him while making eye contact with the crying hostage. Ivey nodded her head slightly as if to say everything will be all right before shifting her gaze to the suspect. He refused to meet her eyes, however, looking everywhere but her.
With one hand still on her holster just in case, Ivey took a deep breath and said in a loud voice, "Let her go, and we can talk."
"No one listens," he was muttering to himself now. "Only you guys do."
Make eye contact and build rapport. "Okay. I'm listening. Tell me your name, so I know what to call you."
"Brad. His name is Brad."
Ivey didn't question why he was referring to himself in the third person. He could be taking drugs and be hallucinating. He might also be crazy. Either way, he was talking, and that was what she needed from him.
"All right, Brad. Would you let her go so that we can talk?"
"STAY AWAY!" He took a step back, continuing to drag the crying woman with him. "I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want to hurt her..."
Where the hell was back up?
Heart racing, blood pumping, Ivey kept a firm grip on her gun and was somewhat surprised her hands weren't shaking. Ivey took a few seconds to calm her nerves while weighing her options. Well, her only option was to wait it out until back up arrived since Brad apparently was too out of it to communicate effectively with her.
"Brad, I know you're not going to hurt anyone. Let her go, and we can work this out." She felt like a machine on repeat.
"They're coming to get Brad," Brad glanced frantically in one direction before turning to the other. "But Brad's not going to let them."
"Brad, can you hear me? I'm Officer Link, and I'm here to help you. Will you let me?" Ivey patiently lowered her voice. "Just put the gun down and let her go. We can talk then."
The suspect laughed suddenly, a sort of cold, malevolent cackle, and looked her straight in the eye. "They're here."
A sudden shift in the wind and a sort of stillness fell around her. The hairs on the back of her neck stood just as her eyes finally made contact with Brad. And then—it was as if she saw everything in slow motion—the sudden recognition in his eyes and the small changes in his movement. His lips curled into an almost sinister smile, and she could have sworn she saw the whites of his eyes turned red.
A loud shot erupted. Brad had fired his weapon!
"IVEY!" It was Officer Black calling, but for some reason, he sounded so far away.
It's about time! Ivey turned to see Officer Black casually…very leisurely, begin to step away from his car.
A minute went by.
Officer Black's arms or legs barely shifted.
A second…and then another.
Ivey squinted…shook her head.
He seemed to be moving, but each little bit of movement…took…forever. It was like watching one picture frame after another, loading.
And so, he paused for the longest time until the next set of frames began.
Am I hallucinating…?
Ivey glanced down at her arms and then to her fingers. She wiggled them, lifted her arms—nope, she wasn't crazy. Her arms and fingers were moving normally. There was nothing sluggish about them.
So then...how the hell was she seeing the bullet that was coming towards her? It was inching gradually towards her, as if someone was pressing the pause button on a movie screen before clicking the play button, and then pausing it again.
Time—no, the world itself, continued to move at a snail's pace for Ivey. She blinked once—twice—before shaking her head.
Brad's actions were slower than the bullet that was approaching her. The hostage he was holding made a face and was gradually, very…leisurely…opening her mouth to scream.
"Now I'm the one going crazy," Ivey rubbed her eyes. How is it that she could see every little bit of debris that came her way, but couldn't feel the wind that held it in its grasp? Just to double-check, she caught hold of a stray leaf that appeared frozen in mid-air.
"Nope, you feel real enough," Ivey rubbed the half-dried leaf against her fingers. As soon as she touched it, it came to life, responding to her touch, even falling to the ground.
Now how to get everything else around her to return to normal?
"Lady Ivey," the dark, chocolate, male voice came out of nowhere and everywhere at the same time. "I have returned."
Before Ivey could question who, the owner of the voice materialized.
The man didn't just arrive; he arrived with one knee on the ground, face lowered. An arm in front and laid across his chest, the other behind him. The stranger was bowing to her.
Bowing! And why the hell am I being addressed as Lady Ivey? She chuckled. This had to be a dream.
"Lady Ivey, it is time for your return," he looked up at her then, and time really did freeze.
Ivey couldn't respond, couldn't think of anything to say at that moment. The stranger captivated her. He was striking, virile, and exquisitely built.
He couldn't have—possibly have—appeared out nowhere just right in front of her, could he? The man had the longest lashes on a guy she had ever seen. And his eyes—oh god—his eyes were swirls of blues and grays, vibrant hues that held her gaze for the longest time. She didn't blink, didn't dare breathe in case she woke up from this dream!
The alluring man stood up just then and made his way towards her, not at all affected by the slow-motion afflicting everything and everyone else around her. Within seconds, he was mere inches away…breathing in her scent…encapsulating her.
"What is happening?" her voice was husky, barely above a whisper.
Instead of responding, the tall, handsome stranger pulled her close and captured her mouth with his.
For Ivey, time froze again for the second time that day. The kiss was unlike any other kiss she had received. His mouth conquered rather than coaxed. It wasn't a teasing kiss, but more of a challenge. One Ivey answered, opening upon his command as his tongue rushed in, intertwining with hers, chasing before retreating, capturing before releasing.
A soft moaned escaped as she leaned into his arms. Like a fish out of water, she could only seek the air he provided. She closed her eyes, savoring the kiss as much as possible before her alarm went off.
"It's time for your awakening," the beautiful male whispered against her lips just before pulling out something shiny—something sharp.
Still dazed and trying to make sense of everything so far, Ivey had no time to react as the stranger pierced her skin, her chest, going straight and deep into her heart with the weapon.
Immediately, the shock of the kiss wore off, and her eyes darkened, "Seymour, you bastard!"
The familiar words left her lips before she even knew what she was saying. Her hands came up to grasp his—they were rough hands, healthy and full of callouses, but they were always gentle with her.
Ivey scowled, wondering where that thought came from.
At the same time, he ripped the blade out of her body.
Cerulean eyes bore into hers. The corner of Seymour's lips curled, teasingly, "At your service, my lady."
There was no pain, but blood gushed from the wound—lots and lots of blood. Ivey could only look down at her chest as it began to flood crimson.
Okay, now would be a great time to wake up! She didn't want the sexy man's kiss anymore, and besides, blood made her queasy.
The world started spinning before everything went dark.
Seymour caught her lifeless body before it could touch the ground, his fingers slowly brushing away the tendrils of hair from her face, studying her.
It had been too long. Until Ivey stood before him with all curves and attitude, he didn't realize how much he missed her—wanted her.
He closed his eyes, breathing in her scent, conjuring up memories. Memories he wanted to forget but would never give them up. There were so many things he wanted to say, to do to her, but all he could think about were her lips. So much that his body moved on its own, and before he knew it, his mouth had covered hers.
Seymour brushed his lips against hers before gently settling her on the ground.
She had called him by his name, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It gave him some sort of relief that she had some memories—lacking they may be.
Officer Black only made it halfway, but the bullet was almost upon them. The bullet could have—would have killed her had Seymour not made it in time.
The ability to slow down time was not limitless. Still, after years of practice, it required less energy and concentration. It required more effort to open a portal for traveling than to control time.
Seymour grabbed the bullet and turned it around in mid-air, just a few inches below his chin. While he rarely ever killed, Brad signed his death when he fired the shot. Seymour had no remorse for anyone who targeted the Queen. It was one less evil in the world for her to deal with.
Without sparing a second glance, Seymour picked up Ivey and vanished in a cloud of dust—just as quickly as he came.
Time returned to normal as Seymour and Ivey evaporated.
The carefully placed bullet by Seymour struck Brad's head and went through his brain, killing him instantly. His hostage screamed as bits and particles of blood and skin spewed across her face. She ceased crying long enough to smear the fluid off only to realize what it was before penetrating the air with her screams once more.
Officer Black stood amid the chaos around him with a confused look on his face.
There was a name. He had been calling for someone, but who?
Sirens continue blaring in the distance.