The dream seemed so very real. She smelled the fear of the little boy sitting in his mother’s lap across the aisle. She looked into his wide brown eyes still shining from the tears. His cheeks were wet and red. She smiled at him. He stopped whimpering. She crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue. His lips curved tentatively. She put her thumb on her nose and waved her fingers. He chuckled just a little. His mother glanced her way.
She stopped and quickly pretended to read the magazine in her lap. The little boy’s smile faded. His mother turned back.
She crossed her eyes and put her forefinger to her lips. The boy returned the gesture and crossed his own eyes. The mother put him down in the aisle and pushed him toward the exit. The boy looked back once.
She stuck her tongue out at him. He giggled then turned and walked ahead of his mother.
She smiled to herself, then to the flight attendant guiding his passengers from the plane. She pulled her carry-on tighter against her body and stepped off the plane. Down the hall, through a door guarded by more airport personnel she lost herself in the crowd, passing through quickly and anonymously.
She waited patiently at baggage claim and found a taxi right outside the doors. After watching the driver toss her bag into the trunk, she climbed into the backseat and took out her cell phone to check her messages.
The door beside her opened. A man sat beside her. “You don’t need that anymore.” He took the phone from her hand, leaned forward and whispered something in her ear.
Angel sat up straight. Sleep vanished from her mind instantly. It was time to leave. She slipped from the hospital bed and ripped the IV from her hand. Droplets of blood splattered on the white sheets and floor. She ignored them and looked around for anything else besides a hospital gown to wear. The flowers caught her eye.
Large orange and pink tiger lilies piled on top of each other. Purple and blue snapdragons towered over the lilies. He’d found her. She was on borrowed time until he sent one of his minions to pick her up. She did not intend to be here much longer.
The wardrobe in the corner was locked.
Inside the drawer of the bedside table, Angel found a pen. She bent the metal clip from it and used it and the needle from the IV to pick the lock. Inside, she found a bag filled with clothes that looked as if they belonged to her. She pulled out what she needed and dressed quickly. At the bottom, she found black sneakers. They were a little loose. Slipping them off too easily, she yanked out the laces and rethreaded them smoothly. She pulled on a second pair of socks over the bandages and slid her feet into the shoes. She could still wiggle her toes. They’d do.
Next, she peeked between the blinds. Darkness covered the parking lot below. Rain fell and thunder rolled. She must have slept all day. She took a few more moments to brush her hair and teeth before tying her hair up into a ponytail. A couple of twists and another elastic wrapped the loose hair into a messy bun that wasn’t going anywhere.
She slipped into the heavy jacket left behind by the FBI agent and let her hands roam the pockets. She found an open pack of gum, a tiny pocketknife and a few loose business cards. She pulled them out and tossed them on the bed. She eyed the knife for a long moment. It could be useful. But it wasn’t hers. Neither was the jacket. She shrugged and slipped it back into the pocket.
The bag was useful. Angel refused to leave it. She tightened up the strap and crossed it over her body leaving the bulk of it to rest just at the small of her back.
At the door, she paused. Was it right to just leave like this? After Agent Hardy had helped her and the doctor had believed her? Angel returned to the bed and picked up two of the cards. One had Hardy’s information on it. This she tucked into the back pocket of the jeans. The other she turned over to the blank side. Picking up the pen once more, she sat on the bed for a moment. What should she say?
She wrote the first thing that came to her mind and dropped the card on the pillow and the pen in her pocket. She had to leave. She couldn’t stay any longer. Even now the doorknob turned and she was afraid that the doctor or a nurse would keep here, or worse Agent Hardy. She quickly stepped into the bathroom and closed the door almost all the way. Through the small opening, she saw the hall door ease open.
But it was not Agent Hardy. Nor was it a doctor or nurse, or any other type of hospital personnel. He wore jeans, a white shirt and dark jacket. His hair was long and black. He was tall and not lightly built. His size alone made her feel tiny and helpless.
He glanced around the room. Without warning, he yanked the door that hid her. She stumbled into his chest. He held her there, his hands tight on her arms. Bruises on top of bruises.
“You’re to come with me. Fight me and you will wish I had permission to kill you.” He wrapped one arm around her tight enough so that she felt the gun press against her side.