My eyes began to open when I felt the truck stop. “Are we there yet?” I sighed, stretching my arms, I noticed the sky was a beautiful dark blue, the full moon sat upon a shadow of tall mountains, the lights from the town below sparkled like the stars above. We sat in a clearing, surrounded by evergreen trees, nearby I heard the trinkle of a river. I’ve never seen anything so picturesque in real life. “Where are we?” I stared in awe of the landscape.
“We are going to camp here for the night. I’m afraid I’m too tired to drive the last five hours or so.” Mason responded, opening his door. “This is Colorado, isn’t it beautiful?”
“I’ve never seen mountains like this before.”
“It’s part of the Rocky Mountains. I lived here for a little while when I first joined the military, did most of my training here. Something about this mountain range, it feels like home, even to strangers.” Mason had a look of reminiscence in his eyes.
“Military? That explains it.” I laughed; he seemed like a military man.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“You know exactly what it means, Mr. ‘That’s an Order’.” I jokingly mocked him from earlier.
“Oh whatever!” He smirked and rolled his eyes, stepping out of the truck. “Here, could you help me with the tent?”
“No problem!” I was happy to help, my father used to take me camping when he was home during the summer. I miss the old days of goofing around and being ignorant of the dangers this cruel world holds.
It didn’t take us long to assemble the tent and sleeping bags. “Are you up for some campfire food? I’m starving!” Mason declared, hovering over a makeshift firepit left here from previous campers.
Sarcastically I joked, “Well, it’s not Michelin Star…but I guess it will do.” When camping with my father, there was nothing like a fire-roasted hotdog and s’mores for dessert. The excitement for nostalgia raced through me as I gathered as much firewood as I could find.
Soon enough, we had a gorgeous fire dancing in front of us as we sat on a long log by the pit. “This brings back so many memories.”
“Oh yeah? Tell me about them.” Mason asked, seeming genuinely curious. Typically, Luca never so much as cared to know what foods I liked, much less anything from my childhood. It was refreshing talking to someone who seemed to really want to know the real me.
“My dad would always take me camping when he was home over the summer. We would go to these cute campgrounds that surrounded this lake. There were these hiking trails that led off all around the forest. I remember one time, I must have been around 5 or 6, I woke up before my dad and decided I could go for a walk by myself.” I looked over at Mason who was actually interested in what I was saying, it really isn’t something I am used to, but I love it. “I went down a trail that we hiked the day before, it wasn’t that long, I figured I would be back before he woke, but I somehow veered off the trail. Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by trees, no trail or sign of anyone in sight. I was so scared, I curled up and just sat down underneath a tall tree and closed my eyes. Luckily when I woke up, I heard people calling my name and was swooped up by a stranger who brought me back to my dad.”
“That must’ve been terrifying.” He looked at me with sympathy, “Well, I’m glad they found you. I know your dad would have searched without rest.”
I looked over at Mason, his chiseled face and perfect skin glowing by the light of the fire. “So, you seem to know a lot about me, but I don’t know anything about you…” My eyes fixated on my hotdog, twirling it above the fire. “Seems you like camping. Did your dad take you camping a lot growing up?”
“Yeah, kind of. He was killed in war when I was 10. It was just my mom and I growing up.” His face lowered, “I actually joined the military because of my dad. I wanted to be a hero like him.”
“Well, from what I’ve seen, I think you would have made him proud.” I scooted closer and set my head on his firm shoulder.
“You think?” He looked down at me, as our eyes met, nothing else mattered, it was just the two of us, lost in this huge world. I felt his breath on my skin, my lips tingled with anticipation as I closed my eyes, expecting him to move closer and feel his full lips against mine…
Mason jumped up, “Um, I’ll be right back.” He walked away into the tree line.
‘Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!’ I thought to myself. Why would he want to kiss me? He probably can’t stand me, forced to babysit me. Not to mention, I have a boyfriend! That would have broken Luca’s heart, I really need to be more careful. I shamefully finished eating my hotdog and wandered into the tent and laid down. I felt so embarrassed, when Mason finally returned, I pretended to be asleep to hide my shame. I listened to him walk in the tent and lay down.
“I’m sorry, Scarlett.” I heard him whisper and felt his touch, pulling my blanket up around me. I guess he felt the same embarrassment as I did.
I laid there, trying to sleep to no avail. The sound of Mason’s snores didn’t help either. I finally decided to get up and clear my mind. The night air was chilly but smelled of firewood and dew. The once warm fire was still smoking, the sticks glowing red, little fire bugs danced on them. I wrapped my blanket around myself and walked away from the campsite to the overlook, the lights of the town were still bright, reflecting the stars above. I found a rock and just sat. Thoughts of what the future could hold plagued my mind.
Suddenly I felt a pair of arms grab me from behind, a large hand wrapped around my mouth as I began to scream. “Shhh! Scarlett! It’s me.” I turned, looked up and I saw it was Luca. Without thinking, I wrapped my arms around him.
“How did you find me?” I was in complete shock.
“Just come with me, hurry.” He put his hand out to grab mine. A look in his eyes made me uneasy and I felt something was wrong.
“Luca, I can’t, I have to stay with Mason.” I crossed my arms and stood my ground. “Come with us!” I pleaded.
“No.” His voice was cold. “You are coming with me whether you like or not.” My skin burned as he grabbed my arm and began yanking me with him.
“Let go! You’re hurting me!” I demanded.
“Shut up!” He spat venomously.
“No! I said let go!” I pulled back. In that instance, my cheek felt like it was on fire. “What the…”
“Now Scarlett.” Luca had a look on his face that I couldn't recognize, his eyes mimicked those of a monster.
“I don’t understand…Luca, why?” I shielded my bruised cheek.
He laughed, “That’s not even my name.” He raised his fist, I didn’t have time to react when I felt blood pouring down my lips, the taste of copper filled my mouth, a deafening ring was all I could hear, I opened my eyes to only see the stars above, the back of my head was pounding. I moaned, rolling over, the once loud night filled with chirps and running water went silent. “Thanks for the call by the way. Made my job much easier.” This was my fault he was here. His fingers dug into my scalp as he lifted my head by my hair. “But you just had to go and make this hard on yourself, didn’t you?” His cold hand reached up my shirt, “Too bad, you were one hell of a plaything. Maybe I can get one more out of you before I kill you.” He pushed my face into the gritty earth, the weight of his body on top of me, pinning my arms to my side. The sound of leather slipping through metal made me panic.
“Get away from her now!” I felt relieved to hear that familiar voice.
“Or what?” Luca laughed.
I heard the sound of a gun cock, “I said get away from her!” Mason commanded. Finally, the pressure on my back was gone, blood and dirt was all I tasted, my eyes blurred as I stumbled onto my feet and towards the sound of Mason’s voice. His strong body caught my fall without waver, “Scarlett, run. I will find you.” I heard him whisper.
“I’m not leaving you.”
“Now!” He pushed me to the side.
My ears rang as I ran. I couldn't bring myself to leave him. I hid behind a tree and watched from afar. I saw blood begin to stream down the side of Mason’s arm. Another shot rang out as Mason took cover behind the boulder I was sitting on. I watched as he returned fire to Luca who was hiding behind a thick tree. The gunshots went on for what seemed like hours until there were no more bullets.
I could see Mason sitting behind the boulder, trying to stop the bleeding from his arm. I couldn’t just sit here and do nothing. I ran as fast as I could, ducking next to him.
“I told you to fucking run!” Mason yelled at me like a child.
“I’m not leaving you.” I ripped my shirt and quickly made a tourniquet around his arm. The few years of medical school at least gave me first aid training. His other hand caressed my cheek, a look of pain glimpsed across his face.
“I’m sorry.” He said as he ran out from behind the boulder. Mason ran towards Luca and tackled him to the ground; he took three large strikes right to Luca’s skull. Luca kicked, landing one right into Mason’s sternum, knocking him back. They both stood, taking one slug after another. Mason was much larger than Luca, but Luca was fast and nimble.
I watched in horror as Luca landed a few punches, Mason shifting his attack, finally dodging one which he followed with the entire weight of his body, knocking Luca onto his back. Luca swept Mason’s feet from underneath him and got on top and began to wail on his face and upper body, Mason trying his best to dodge and return blows. I couldn’t just sit here and do nothing! I spotted a large, heavy rock; with all my might I picked it above my head and ran towards the men. The weight of the stone leaving my arms relieved my muscles, I watched as Luca’s body went limp and blood poured from the back of his head.
I stood there in shock, my hands over my mouth. “Did…did I just kill him?”
Mason walked over to Luca and checked for a pulse, then ran to me, shielding me from the scene. He wrapped his muscled arms around me tight. “No, he’s still alive.”
A wave of reprieve washed over me. I don’t know if I could handle killing someone, even if they did try to kill me.
“We need to leave, now!” Mason led me to the truck quickly, leaving our tent behind, we quickly took off into the night. I watched as Mason pulled out a radio from under his seat. “Arctic Falcon, come in now.”
The static echoed throughout the cab of the truck, “Copy, go.” I heard my father’s voice for the first time since this all started.
“We were found, code silver, but we got it under control. We are on our way to the secure location, 555 klicks out. Violet Robin is secured and safe.” Mason sounded very formal reading out the exact coordinates of where to send men to pick up Luca.
“Copy. They will be there soon. Thank you. Over.”
Mason looked over to me, “Do you want to talk to him?” he held out the radio.
“Dad?” My voice was shaky.
“Hey honey, are you okay?” He asked with concern.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I looked over to Mason, “You hired the right man for the job.”
“I love you, sweetheart.”
“Love you too, dad. Bye.” The radio went silent.