I waited, watching closely, and listening to every sound. I heard a snap coming from the side yard and zoomed in on the camera. Sure enough, two of the three men began approaching the home. I radioed General Aberra to warn him they were coming. From the other side came another man hidden in the darkness. There was nothing I could do at this point, as much as I wanted to pounce on all three men, I had to stay put and stick to the plan. We needed them alive, and we needed Scarlett to remain safe.
Once the men had entered the mansion, I positioned myself outside Scarlett’s window, hidden in the shadows of the night. I observed the outline of the men sneak throughout the windows of the house, turning on the gas stove and blowing out the pilot lights. I saw General Aberra through the window of his office grab his gun and position himself, ready to distract when I gave the signal. I sent Scarlett a message, ‘Get Out Now!’, hoping the ping of her phone would wake her, unfortunately, it did not. As the trespassers approached the stairway, I gave General Aberra the signal, at that moment he turned on the light to his office and opened the door, hoping to lead the men away. However, it wasn’t going as planned, two of the intruders headed towards him, but one was still heading to Scarlett’s room. If I didn’t act now, they would surely have her. Without a second thought, I picked up a large rock laying on the ground, ran to the house, and sent it careening into the large plate glass window. The crash of breaking glass echoed throughout the neighborhood, there is no way she slept through that. To my elation, I saw movement in her room. Silently, I was begging her to hurry and climb down, the loud crash had only deterred the man for only a moment. He was dead set on getting to her.
I watched in horror and relief as I saw her window swing open, her small frame clinging to the vines that joined the brick walls. The second her bare feet hit the grass I mimicked her movements to be sure I caught up to her in time. I watched as she ducked under some bushes not far from where the truck was parked and ready to go.
Right as I was about to reach her, the house was sent into pieces, immediately engulfed in flames. I had no time to figure out if the general had made it out, I’m sure he did, he always made one hell of a fighter. My only thought was to keep Scarlett safe, no matter what. I clutched Scarlett’s shoulder, trying not to scare her, “Scarlett, hurry come with me.” She refused to move, but we had to hurry, I had no choice but to throw her over my shoulder. Immediately, she began kicking and hitting me, honestly it felt more like being hit with gummy bears than an actual hit. “You are a feisty one, your dad was right.” I tried to joke with her.
“STOP! PUT ME DOWN! Where’s my dad? What’s going on?” Scarlett demanded I tell her. There really was no time for this. We had to get out of there now, before the men saw us.
“Quiet!” I shushed her so the kidnappers wouldn’t hear. “Get in, quickly.” I tossed her in through the driver’s side and pushed her over as I climbed in. The years of military and CIA training prepared me for this part, I slammed on the gas down the dirt road and tried to get us away as fast as possible. I knew this had to be traumatic for her, I just needed to get her to safety.
“Please tell me what is going on!” Scarlett pleaded with me, I could hear the tears in her voice, making my heart break for her.
“I’m taking you to a secure location. Per your father’s orders. I can explain more once we get there.” Our close proximity after keeping my distance for so long was making me tense. All I wanted was to comfort her as much as possible. I reached for her hand in the darkness and held on to her, “I promise, you will be safe.” I wasn’t expecting her touch to feel so comforting and warm. Her hand fit perfectly in mine, but I couldn't think about that. I had to keep my emotions restrained. If I let my heart go too deep into this, her life could be put in danger. Even now that we will be so close, I must keep my feelings far away.
The first safehouse was about an hour drive, but I had to make sure no one was following. I felt bad having to make the trip twice as long, knowing she must be exhausted and have so many questions. When we finally arrived, I asked her to stay in the car while I cleared the dilapidated house. I grabbed the duffle bag her father had previously packed for her, along with some supplies. As I entered the empty house, I turned on what small light I had, including some lanterns and candles. Once I was inside, I radioed General Aberra. “Arctic Hawk, come in. Golden Falcon and Violet Robin have landed.” I held my breath every single second static rang from the radio. “Come in, Arctic Hawk.”
Finally, I heard the familiar voice, “Arctic Hawk in, oscar-mike, bravo-zulu” he was safe and on his way to the CIA headquarters.
“Lima-charlie, Tango-yankee.” I responded letting him know I heard him. Now It’s just time to wait and make sure no one finds us until the Russians are apprehended.
I collected myself and went to retrieve Scarlett from the truck and lead her inside. The decrepit dwelling was far from what she was used to, me on the other hand, I didn’t mind it, but I tried my best to make her feel safe and comfortable. “There is a restroom to the back corner if you need to use it. There is running water, but I’m afraid it’s pretty cold.” I let her know, she was still shaking with fear and probably cold as she was only wearing brisk pajama shorts and an oversized t-shirt with no shoes. I figured she may want some time to collect her thoughts.
“Just tell me what’s going on, please!” Scarlett snapped at me. I stared at her, noticing her long bare legs, I couldn’t help my eyes as they wandered down her body, noticing a lotus flower tattoo that accented her outer thigh. Did she have anymore? I yelled at myself to snap out of it.
“Go use the restroom, that was a very long drive, once you come out, I’ll tell you everything I’m allowed to.” I wasn’t expecting to be so drawn to her now that we were alone together. I have a job to do. Keep her safe. I cannot let my thoughts get away like that. There is just something about her, I can’t seem to control myself, I have to get a handle on that now.
I sat down on my cot across from hers and got some water to help get my mind back on track, clear my thoughts, I know she must have so many questions.
I heard the bathroom door creak as it opened. I jumped up to welcome her back into the room.
“So, tell me everything. Who are you?” Scarlett breathed, obviously frightened.
“My name is Mason Hart. I’m a friend of your father’s. Please sit down,” I pointed to the cot across from me, “here drink some water, you must be tired. It’s been a long night.” Once she sat, I continued, “Your father ordered me to protect you, should something happen.”
“Where is my dad? Is he okay?”
“Yes, I spoke with him recently. We will meet with him once it is safe to do so.”
“Safe? What more do these people want? They already destroyed my home, I’m sure they got what they were looking for. They obviously got their point across!” I could tell she was confused and angry. Her lustful bright green eyes filled with rage, and she clung onto the cot, like it was the only thing keeping her from punching a hole in the wall.
“We need to let them think they got what they wanted. But I promise you they will never get that chance.” I hoped I could reassure her; I reached across and rested my hand on hers, hoping to let her know she wasn’t alone.
“Wh-what do you mean?” Her voice broke, she knew what I meant, and I could sense the fear she was feeling. It made me livid that anyone could make someone as kind and innocent as Scarlett feel this way, that they could do this to her.
“They weren’t looking for something, they were looking for someone, they were looking for you.” The thought of someone so much as touching her made my skin boil, “It’s been my job for over a year now to watch over you and keep you safe but keep my distance. I’ll be damned if they took you that easily.”
“But…why? Who?” I could hear the confusion and shock in her voice. I could see in her eyes she was tired and needed rest.
“Listen, Scarlett,” I grabbed her hands, massaging them in mine, hoping to calm her, “I can’t tell you everything just yet. However, I vow to protect you with my life. Do you trust me? Can you trust me?”
“I trust you.”
Her voice, her lips as she spoke those words…my mind went places it shouldn’t. I wanted to kiss her so bad, where were these feelings coming from? “Good.” I had to let go before my urges made better of me. I stood up, looking for something to distract myself. “Are you hungry?” I asked, looking away from her, trying to change the subject.
“No. Just tired.” She said as she laid in her cot and covered herself with the blanket.
“Get some sleep, Ms. Aberra.” I tried to distance myself as I turned out the lights.
“You can call me Scarlett.” She yawned as she fell asleep.
How could I let my mind go there? I’m supposed to be keeping her safe, not falling for her. I’m the only person who can save her and I cannot fail. I laid in my cot and tried to get some shut eye, knowing what the following day intended.