June 50 24-28

Well, fuggernuggets!  I meant to post this on June 30th but life got in the way.

I finished the June 50 on the 29th with a beautiful epilogue.  It’s so sweet, really.  Gave myself a cavity. 😉

We’re almost done sharing it here with you.  Today I am giving you some very exciting chapters.  The issue with Dennis finally gets resolved.  

So does the one with Tom.  

I’ve begun the research for HW4.  I have one very big question to resolve – what about the triplets?  

There is the option to remove the pregnancy completely, never mention it until later in book 4 but Anna and Liam rage at me when I even bring it up so I’m probably not going that route.  It is an edit of large proportions but… well, we’ll see.  Hard to take newborn triplets into the jungle.  Maybe I can just edit out the massive, sudden growth.  Diminish it a little.  

We’ll see.  

Enjoy these four chapters!  And, as always, be sure to tell me what you think.


PS.  I am not doing CampNaNo this July. Wolfman gave me a pass until November.  This makes me happy.  HW4 is swirling around in my brain. 


Chapter Twenty-Four


2100, Savannah, 36 years old, 1 year, 20 months, 13 days left on timer

Savannah gives Delilah a commiserating look.  “No, I’m sorry.  He destroyed everything, including your clothes.”

Delilah’s jaw drops.  “My clothes!  What in the name of Hades would he do that for?”

“The Underworld is a good place for him,” Peanut pipes up.  “As Cerberus’s chew toy perhaps.”

As the others chuckle, Savannah draws Delilah, whose eyes are brimming with tears, to one side. “I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job,” she begins.

“No!  Don’t say that.  How could you know how psycho he was? He’s never gotten that close before.”

“Yes he has, he’s hit you in the street before, knocked you down.”  Savannah rubs her face.  “I’ve seen cases like this before, I should have never left the cottage empty.”

Delilah pats her arm then gestures to the equipment.  “You did think to have back-ups for me.  That’s good and I appreciate it.” 

Savannah nodded.  “You’re welcome.  What about the things we couldn’t find?”

“Custom made.  Betty didn’t know that though.  I’m the one who buys my cameras and things.”  Delilah’s hands go to her mouth, her eyes widen in panic. “Were any of the hard drives safe?  Did he get all the external camera?”

Taco hears this question and comes over.  “All the time lapse cameras were destroyed, including the one down with the seals.  We did find an iron bar down there.  Looks like it had been dropped and the seals were a little ornery.  We think he must have pissed them off and they scared him.”  He grins.

Delilah’s answering grin is fierce and full of satisfaction.  “Good! Did you find the drives?”

“That particular one took some doing.  The seals were laying on the pieces and some got crushed against the rocks.”  Taco digs into the pocket on the outside of his left leg and pulls out half a dozen small hard drives.  “I have no idea if the data is recoverable but they look okay.”  He drops them into Delilah’s hand.

“Great!  I hope.  I think.  Does someone have a computer I can borrow?  Did he wreck my computer too?”  Delilah takes a step away from Savannah to try to find Peanut, the one with all the computers. 

Savannah puts her had on Delilah’s shoulders.  “Delilah.”  When that doesn’t get through Delilah’s wild look, Savannah softens her voice.  “Lily.  Stop.”

Delilah turns to look at her and blinks, her hand tightens around the drive.  “Yes?  What?  I need to see if my work is still there.”

“No.  Right now you need to relax.”  Savannah tightens her hold on Delilah when the smaller woman tries to twist away in denial.  “Peanut and Josh, who walked all over the island today, are going to stay here. They’ll watch over everything.  Taco will stay with them since he did all the driving to get supplies.  The rest of us are going to the pub.” 

Just then, Taco comes in from outside.  “I did the walk like you asked, Loup.  I don’t see anything out of place anywhere.”

“Thanks, Taco.”  She repeats her orders then hustles Delilah out the door with Ghost, Tom and Reaper following. 

They enter the dark pub and pull a couple tables together.  Savannah starts to ask what everyone wants to drink when Tom pops up.  “I know what Delilah likes.  I’ll get it for her.”

Savannah stares after Tom as he goes to the bar and frowns.  “Is he always like this?”

Delilah shrugs.  “He’s always ben attentive.  I think it’s escalated a bit but I’m usually so involved in my work I forget to eat so I don’t mind.”

“She does too mind, Loup,” Reaper said quietly.  “Tom doesn’t make her feel safe.”

“My advice is to fire him,” Savannah says as she takes a seat. 

“I can’t do that without just cause.  If something happens, I will, but so far he’s just being a pain in the ass, nothing harmful.”  Delilah dismisses the topic with a wave of her hand. 

The waitress comes over as Tom argues with the bartender.  She gestures with her head.  “He with you?”

“Sadly, yes,” Ghost says.

“Well,” she says with a considered chew of the gum in her mouth, “you’d best get him away from Big Ben over there.  He’s lookin’ to spit nails.  He doesn’t do the girlie drinks your man is wanting.”  Ghost nods and rises.  The waitress watches him with no small amount of appreciation.  “There’s a mountain of a man there, isn’t he?  Taken?”

“And gay,” Savannah says with a grin.

“Pity.  I’m married anyway,” she says.  Then she winks.  “I just like to look.  Sometimes a girl has to take care of her own business and it helps to have fodder for the mind.”

The group bursts out laughing and she slaps the menus down on the table, enjoying herself thoroughly.  “Let me know what you want when you want it.  Drinks?”

Ghost leads a protesting Tom back to the table and shoves him into the chair. “Stay.  I’ll have whiskey, my dove,” he says to the waitress.

“I’ll make sure it’s a nice smoky one, just like you.” She responds, cocking her hip and staring at him through her lashes.

“I just bet you will, pretty lady.”  Ghost grins at her.  “I’m buying this round, bring one for everyone.”

Tom opens his mouth to protest and Savannah gives him a level look as she says, “That’s a great idea.  It’s been a rough day.”

The waitress looks from one to the other, lingering n Delilah’s face.  She nods sympathetically.  “I’m sorry to hear it.  The whiskey will make it right again, you just wait.”

Savannah looks around the room.  There are a few men in the bar, watching the vid screens, a couple women trying to gain the attention of their men and two others playing darts.  There’s one man sitting by himself but his clothing suggests he’s part of the village.  He’s looking at them but, then, all of them have.  She dismisses him as a threat and focuses on what she wants to eat. 

An hour later, Delilah says she has to go to the bathroom.  Savannah rises to go with her and Delilah gives her a look. “I can pee by myself.  I’m a big girl.   The washrooms are right back there.”  She points in a straight line to the little alcove marked by a glowing sign.

“No.  I’m coming with you.”  Savannah rises. 

Reaper takes a look at Delilah’s face and gets up.  “Sit back down, Loup, let me check the place out.”  He ambles back toward the bathroom alcove.

Delilah crosses her arms and waits. 

Reaper comes back.  “The washrooms are those one person jobs.  You go in, lock the outside door, no one comes in.  Windows are too small for anyone to get through.”

Savannah frowns but capitulates.  “Fine, but if you’re longer than two minutes I’m coming in after you.”

Delilah looks triumphant and leaves the table, feeling somewhat self-conscious with their eyes on her back.



Chapter Twenty-five


2100, Dennis, timer dead

Dennis watches the group.  Delilah looks different, they did something to her hair.  Probably, he thinks, to try and make her look so different he wouldn’t recognize her. 

He feels like yelling at them that it didn’t work.  But he’s feeling patient, now that he’s gotten some of his anger, so he watches the vid screens and simply keeps her in his peripheral.  He watches the giant black man flirt with the stupid waitress.  He watches as they all clink their glasses together and tries to bury his anger.

What the hell are they so happy about?  Delilah should be furious, upset and hiding.  She shouldn’t be here in this dingy pub. It’s not worthy of her.  The stupid bitch.  She should be devastated and looking for someone to lean on.

For a second, a brief second, he considers going over to make sure she is good and afraid. His sense of self-preservation prevents it. 

He does look at each of the men.  He thinks the big one might be gay.  The other one seems to flirt with everything but the quiet one…  He wonders about that one.  The man keeps looking at Delilah.

Touching Delilah.

Leaning over to whisper in her ear.

Ignoring her attempts to move away.

Dennis’s fury is building up ahead of steam. 

To him it looks like she’s playing hard to get, flirting with the man. 

He feels like screaming at them all to get away from his Delilah.

He feels like killing her so she’s always his.

To his shock, she gets up and heads toward him.  He panics, not knowing what he’ll say to her.  He straightens in his chair as she gets closer. But all she does is give him a brief, polite smile and move past him and he has to resist the urge to twist in his chair.

That bitch! He thinks to himself.  She must not know who he is.  His name is almost as well-known as hers.  His face is certainly better known in photography circles.  How could she not stop and fawn all over him.  She ought to be fangirling and be thrilled to meet him.

Well, he decides, he’ll show her.

He waits until the group isn’t watching the bathroom then palms the knife on his table and scuttles into the alcove.  He gets there just as she’s opening the door and slaps his hand over her mouth, shoving her backwards. 

Dennis puts the point of his knife under her chin as he shoves the door closed with his foot.  “Scream and I’ll kill you.”

Delilah’s eyes are wide with fear.  She tries to nod but gets pricked by the knife.  She sucks in a breath with the pain of it.  He seems to consider this good enough and reaches back to twist the lock. 

It’s a one person bathroom with a toilet in one corner and the sink across the room.  A hot air hand dryer is on the wall beside the sink and there’s a tiny toilet above the toilet.

“Good, good.  This is a good place to talk, Delilah.

Suspicion fills her eyes, then knowledge, then fury.  “It’s you!  You’ve been terrorizing me!  Dennis Harris!”

“That’s right.” Dennis looks smug.  He backs her up against the wall and exchanges the knife for his forearm on her throat.  “Now we’re going to have a chat.”  He scrapes the blade of the knife up and down her forearm.  She smacks it away, taking a slice in the process.

It burns but she refuses to give him the satisfaction of seeing that it hurt.  The slap he levels on her, the one that’s so hard she can feel her face start to swell, that one made her eyes tear up and she catches a whimper in her throat.  “I don’t have anything to say to you.”

“Oh well, I have plenty to say.”  He strokes the bruise on her face gently and presses his arm into her throat to cut off her air supply when she turns her face away.  “You keep taking work away from me. You beat me out in every contest.  It’s going to stop.  You’re going to stop taking pictures.”  His other hand slides up and down her body.

“Never!” she croaks.  When he presses harder on her throat she stops slapping at his roaming hand and claws at his arm.  She starts to see spots and slaps at his face instead, raking her nails down his cheek.

He lets her goal with a shout of pain as blood wells.  “You cunt!”

She slides to the floor, coughing.  “Savannah!” she tries to shout it but her throat hurts. 

He kicks her, repeatedly, and she curls into a ball.  He kicks at her head, her kidneys, everywhere he can, while she tries to roll away from him. 

Suddenly there’s a pounding on the door.  “Delilah!”  Savannah’s voice is panicked.  The pounding gets louder and Dennis starts shouting.

Delilah dares to peek out from behind her arms and sees the knife right in front of her.  She grabs it and stabs him in the thigh.

Dennis roars in pain and outrage and falls on her. He grabs her by the throat and smacks her head against the floor as she beats at him. 

It’s thunderous when Ghost crashes through the door.  He grabs Dennis by the scruff of the neck and hauls him off Delilah.  He throws him to one side.  There’s a sickening crack but he doesn’t care. He and Savannah kneel by Delilah.

She smiles at them then her eyes roll into the back of her head. 

“Get her out of here,” Savannah says.  “Get a medivac if you can.  Drive if you can’t but go! Now!”  She wants badly to take Delilah herself but she has a job to do, she has to arrest the man and clean up here.  She watches as Ghost picks the other woman up as gently as he would a baby. 

Delilah moans in pain, even unconscious and Ghost himself almost whimpers.  “I’m sorry, Cutie Pie,” he whispers. 

Savannah kneels down beside Dennis and discovers that the crack was his skull.  Brain matter is dripping from the edge of the toilet onto the floor and Dennis is staring at her through lifeless eyes.  Savannah shivers. 



Chapter Twenty-Six


2100, Delilah, 31 years old, 1 year, 19 months, 25 days left on timer

She’s been in the hospital for almost three weeks and, despite having her work with her, she’s bored out of her skull.  It had taken her almost three days to come out of the coma having her head smacked against the floor caused.  When she had, Betty’s was the first face she saw.  She’d told her the doctors refused to allow Tom to come anymore because he kept crying over her.  They wouldn’t tell her what he’d said but they’d grown weary of him flinging himself across her bruised and broken body.   Ghost and Reaper had bodily picked him up and hauled him out of the hospital.

Even now, the thought makes her smile. She checks the clock and groans.  Only another hour of peace before he shows up again to go over the work.  The doctors were allowing him in – and her to work – so long as nothing upsets her. 

She frowns.  She’d seen Betty’s face but she hadn’t remembered them.  She hadn’t know who Ghost or Reaper or Tom were or why the first two had had such awful names.  It took a week for her memory to come back.  A week of nightmares full of a monster who hunted her mixed with dreams of a blonde avenging angel with a fiery sword.   She dreamt of windswept cliffs and dark caverns.  Giant cameras, mudslides, zombies and all manner of animals chased her in her sleep 

Betty came day after day to talk to her, to tell her of her life, show Delilah her own photography and to just be there watching the vid screen with her when her head ached, when the rest of her ached from the physiotherapy. 

Janus officers had come to tell her that she’d been the victim of a stalker who caught her.  They told her what happened, showed her pictures, against doctor’s orders.  Again and again, she shook her head when pressed for details, unable to remember.  

And when she was alone, she cried, she slept, she dreamed.  She was healing from a fracture in her skull that came with a small hemorrhage the doctors think caused her memory loss; she had four broken ribs, a broken ulna, and three fractured vertebrae in her lumbar.  The spinal column had swelled in response to the trauma and she was having to relearn how to walk.  She had been, and still is, determined to return to her old self so she worked her ass off.

Fortunately, on about the eighth day of confinement to the hospital bed, she’d woken up with her memory intact and when Betty had come in that day they’d celebrated with some quality chocolate, (also against doctor’s orders, she thought.  Damn restrictions).  She had asked Betty to get in touch with Savannah.

“I’m sorry, honey, but I can’t do that.”  Betty knew things now about Savannah that she’d sworn not to tell Delilah. 

“Why!  She and the others saved me, protected us.  Why can’t I talk to her?”

Betty told her what she’d been told to tell her.  “She’s on another assignment and can’t be disturbed.  But she told me to tell you, when…if… you regained your memory, that you were one of the bravest people she’s ever known and it was a pleasure to get to know you.  Ghost, Reaper and the others all agree.”  She pointed at the stuffed grey seal that Delilah hugged day after day.  “That came from them.”

Delilah hugged it closer and nodded sadly. “Alright.”

She hugs the seal tightly now and sighs. 

“Ms. DuMarchand.”  The voice, deep and unfamiliar, comes from the doorway.

Delilah looks up warily.  She sees a man in a Janus uniform and sighs.  “What is it now?”

He takes off his cap and enters the room.  As he does looks the woman over.  She’s pale, still in a brace for her back, her arm has been downgraded from a cast to a brace already.  He is pleased for the advances in medicine that allow certain breaks to heal in a matter of days rather than weeks.  A ghost of a smile crosses his lips as he sees that she’s still keeping the stuffed animal at hand.  In his free hand is a small velvet box.  He offers it to her and waits until she opens it.

Inside is a small silver star on a chain.  “What is this?”  Delilah looks at him curiously. 

“The higher ups at Janus wanted to show their appreciation for your part in the capture of Dennis Harris.”  Even he knows ‘capture’ is the wrong word.  Ghost had done a damn good job of killing the guy.

Delilah frowns.  “Captured?  Wasn’t he killed?”

“’Capture’ is a standard phrase, Ma’am.”

“And why am I being shown appreciation for being a victim?”  Delilah arches a brow.

The man shifts from one foot to the other. “The brass understands that you were a victim, Ma’am, and that you have suffered unduly and, personally, completely unnecessarily.  However, because of you, we managed to capture one of the most notorious criminals we have seen in decades.”

Her jaw drops to her chest.  “What?  That freak muffin was a notorious criminal? You have to be joking.”  She laughs but stops as he shakes his head.

“No Ma’am.  Artifacts, jewels and art have gone weeks after shoots that he’s done in those areas.  People have been killed in those heists.”

“If you knew it was him, maybe you should have captured him earlier!” Her face turns red as anger flares through her, hot and bright.

“We had no idea, Ma’am.  It wasn’t until one of Ms. Lopez’s people – I believe you knew her as Peanut – ran his prints and DNA through our system that we figured it out.”

Delilah stares at the box in her hand.  “I did nothing to deserve this.  I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”  She tries to give it back. 

He takes two steps backwards, leaving her awkwardly holding it out.  “No Ma’am, you weren’t.  Mr. Harris had been stalking you for years.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that he found out the name behind your alias.  It was then that he stepped up his game.  He was using the stolen goods to fund his search.”

“How do you know this?”

“His agent.  He told us everything.  Mr. Troy confessed to being the fence for Mr. Harris.  He was not aware of how deep the Mr. Harris’s obsession with you was, however, otherwise, he says, he’d have done everything in his power to stop it.”  A grin creases his face for a moment.  “Mr. Troy also confessed that he had been keeping seventy percent of the profits of the sale.  He says that, and the teachings of Aphrodite are the only reason he kept,” the young man’s voice changes slightly, “’that mass of insane troglodyte as a client.’”

Delilah stares at him.  “Troglodyte?” she asks faintly.

“Yes Ma’am.”

A laugh bubbles out of her and the officer can’t help but grin.  “I don’t think I deserve this,” Delilah says as she sobers.

“Maybe not, Ma’am but Janus does and Ms. Lopez and her crew agree.”  He backed toward the door.  “It is yours now, to do with what you will.”  He gave her a small salute and stepped out, leaving her staring at the empty space until Tom fills it a moment later.

Delilah shuts the jeweler’s case with a snap and sets it on the table.  “Hello, Tom.”

Tom gives her a warm smile as he comes closer.  “Good morning, Lily.”  He ignores her scowl, he knows she’s asked him not to call her that but he doesn’t see why Betty should be able to and not him so he’ll keep doing it.  His eyes zero in on the rectangular velvet case.  “What’s that?  Who was that man in your room?”

Delilah shrugs.  “Someone from Janus.   I want to look at the drive from the seal camera, see if anything is salvageable.”

Tom sits too close to her and puts the laptop on her small table.  They get to work.



Chapter Twenty-Seven


2100, Savannah, 36 years old, 1 year, 19 months, 25 days left on timer

“Well, Kid, did you give it to her?”  Savannah drums her fingers on the steering wheel of the sleek, dark car.

“Yeah, Loup.”  Kid, so nicknamed because he was the youngest of them to ever pass the stringent and rigid requirements to make it into Savannah’s elite forces.  He was chosen for this little mission because Delilah had never seen him before.  “She didn’t want it.  Said she didn’t deserve it.  I made her keep it though.  Told her everything you wanted me to tell her.”

Savannah has no guilt about assigning crimes to Dennis he didn’t commit in order to get her gift to Delilah.  “Good.  I hope she wears it.”

“She sure will, Loup,” Kid says as he buckles himself in.

Savannah isn’t as confident but she stays silent as she smoothly slides out of her parking spot and heads for their next assignment.



Chapter Twenty-eight


2100, Delilah, 33 years old, 1 day, 6 hours, 27 minutes left on timer

“Tom, camera six needs adjusted.  I am catching the edge of something.”  Delilah is standing on one side of a floating, hexagonal ring just off the coast of New California.  Tom is two over to her left.  She’s appreciating the distance.  He’s gotten far too close since her encounter with Mr. Demento, as she prefers to call him.  There is a set of scaffolding erected that arches from side-to-side all the way around and over the ocean. 

She’s looking at a series of screens.  Each screen has a different camera feeding it wirelessly.  The camera she wants moved is too far north.  “Move it eight inches south.  Slowly!”

Tom grumbles because moving it means he has to climb the scaffolding to the middle of the top curve and dangle over the water that covers what used to be San Diego and there are rumours of sharks in the waters.  He is harnessed and well secured to the frame but still. 

“For Ares’ sake, Tom!  There’s a net below and it’ll stay until we get these cameras in place.  Quit your bitchin’ and get that camera moved!”  Delilah’s voice was sharp with exasperation and she felt no remorse for it, which is why the God of War had come to her lips.  Tom had been more and more in her face over the last year; she barely had space to breathe most of the time.  She was one more incident away from firing him.  She wonders, in this moment, why she hasn’t yet.  Betty informed her just this morning that there were three promising candidates for the job. 

“Fine, fine!”  Tom scrambles across the scaffolding and moves the camera. He looks into the water and makes minute adjustments before tightening the clamps and turning it back on.  “How’s that?”

Delilah watches the screen and is cautiously excited by what she sees.  A swath of wood and steel come into view.  It’s the tallest curves of one of Old California’s wooden roller coasters, The Giant Dipper.  The wooden frame is covered by coral and large flytrap anemones.  Bright fish darted around and even as she watches, a large brown and cream sea turtle glides past.  “That’s excellent, Tom.  Camera eight needs moved a quarter of an inch.”

Tom scowls but it changes quickly into a smooth, slightly smarmy smile as Delilah raises a brow at him.  That brow means trouble.  He doesn’t want her mad at him.  He wants her to have dinner with him later.  Maybe go to a movie.  A date.  He’s been trying to get her on a date for a while now.  “As you wish,” he says and nearly scampers around the floating photography studio.

It takes some finagling but the cameras are finally all in place.  Delilah takes several stills then sets up the camera for time lapse photography.  Tomorrow she’d be able to go under water to film and record.  She is working with an archeologist who is doing her Master’s Project on the California earthquake of 2027 when three quarters of the state broke off and plummeted into the sea. It killed millions and destroy institutions like the Hollywood studios – the earthquake also took almost eighty percent of the stars of the industry, Disney World, and, of course, almost the entire California coast.

The quake had been unprecedented and unparalleled.  None of the research and predictions had been correct.  It was like every single fault in California had been triggered at once.  The new coast started just south of the Mendocino National Forest, darted southeast in a craggy, diagonal line through the wreckage of Sacramento and skated the edge the Sierra Nevada then plunged south to meet the corner of Old Mexico, Old California and Arizona. 

Delilah shakes off the pity for the people involved.  It was a long time ago and, though those people must have been terrified and many probably died horribly – trapped in cars and buildings, either suffocating slowly or drowning, she doesn’t have the time to worry about them. 

The little manmade island of sorts shakes and rattles.  “Delilah!”  The archeologist, a young man named Jack Hill, came running over to her, making her fear for her camera placements and making Tom scowl murderously.  “Those first images are remarkable!  I can’t believe we found it!”  Jack’s initial intended project had been to cover the entire coast but his advisor had convinced him to focus on San Diego and the surrounding area.  Jack, a lover of theme parks, had decided to look for Belmont Park, San Diego’s largest theme park with dozens of things to do, more to eat and even more to buy. 

Delilah smiles as Jack hugs her but clucks her tongue at him.  “I’ve told you this is a delicate set up and you have to walk, Jack.” 

Jack has the grace to look chagrined.  “I’m sorry.  I hope I didn’t screw anything up.”  He anxiously scans the screens.

“No, you didn’t, this time.  I am so glad you’re pleased.”  Delilah smiles again and leads him off the island to climb the ladder up to the deck of the ship they were using as home base.  Delilah looks around at the ship, amazed as always.  Jack comes from money and his parents, who love him dearly, had spared almost no expense to fund his dreams.  It helped that he’d had some of his own to throw in there.  “I can’t believe this is our home for a while,” she said as Tom came up behind her.

He slung an arm around her shoulder and nodded.  “Me neither.  It’s pretty swank.”

Delilah ducks out from under his arm and gives him a quelling look before turning to Jack.  “Thank you so much for my suite.”

Jack laughed.  “I swear, you thank me every time you come aboard.”  He grins at her.  “You needed space for your computers.  You got it.  Plus, you’re the best of the best and you deserve to be treated like that.”

She grins back.  “If only all my clients thought that way.”

He winks at her then says, “The purser informed me that dinner is at eighteen-thirty.  He said something about a fresh catch.”

Tom mutters under his breath, “I hope yours is toxic,” as he marches off to his own room, which is half the size of Delilah’s.

Delilah turns bright red at Tom’s rudeness.  “I’m so sorry, Jack.”

Jack waves her apologies away.  “Don’t worry about it.  It’s obvious he feels proprietary about you and cannot stand having anyone else around you who might make you smile.”

With a frown, she says, “He has nothing to be proprietary about.  He’s my employee, nothing more.  I’d consider him a friend too, but nothing more.”

Jack nods as he walks her to the dining table.  “He doesn’t see it that way.  I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”  Jack wants to look at her that way too but he won’t.  The way he sees is that one, he’s her client and he won’t screw up a business relationship for the mere possibility of what he suspects would be mind-blowing sex and two, he’s seen her timer.  She will be unavailable as of the day after tomorrow.

Delilah slips into the chair he’s pulled out for her and sighs as she rubs the bracelet covering her timer.  “It won’t matter soon anyway.”

“That’s true.”  Jack sits down and discretely signals to his staff.  His father’s staff, really, but he’s so at home on the boat, spent so much time there, that it’s his second home. 

Dinner is served and it’s two hours before Delilah gets back to her cabin.  She closes the door behind her, leans against it and sighs, dropping her head back with her eyes closed.  She takes a deep breath through her nose then frowns.  She smells Tom. 

Pushing herself off the door she looks around the small cabin then frowns.  She smells Tom.  Tom should not be here. Should not have been here.  Her eyes land on her bed and she jumps.  There, laid out precisely, is a silk chemise and a pair of lace panties.  She steps towards it and scowls down at it.  She smells Tom in her next breath. 

Delilah whirls to run out the door and smacks into Tom’s chest.  He grabs her by the arms.  “Delilah.  It’s about time you showed up,” he growls. “I’ve been waiting for you.” 

She takes a calming breath.  “Tom.  What are you doing here?”

“That pissant Jack is right about one thing – I do want you.  We’re meant to be together.”  He gives her a shake as he speaks. 

“My timer is due to run down in a little over twenty-four hours, Tom.  Yours isn’t due for another two years.  I am not for you, Tom.  We are co-workers and employers and that’s all we’ll ever be.”  She is trying to be soothing, logical and calm but she can see that Tom’s eyes are burning with insanity.  She has a second to think what is it about me?? then Tom’s mouth is bruising hers.

Delilah bites his lip and stomps on his instep.  She spits his blood out onto his shirt as he jerks his head back.  He manages to backhand her before she knees him in the balls and when he doubles over she uses that same knee to break his nose.  Once he’s curled up in a helpless ball of pain, bleeding all over the floor, Delilah limps over to the phone in her cabin and calls the Captain.

Once he’s been removed, locked in the ship’s small hold, and she is alone in the new cabin Jack insisted on, she picks up her phone.  Her fingers tremble a little and she pauses to try to regain control.  She dials Sam’s number. 

Sam’s face appears on her small screen and he smiles a warm welcome until his sharp eyes start picking up little details.  He scowls as he sees the swollen lips, pale skin, starkly purple bruise on her cheek and slightly shocky eyes.  “What’s wrong?  What happened?”

Delilah bursts into tears, surprising herself.  “Tom attacked me.” She tells him the story.  “I need someone, Sam.  I’m scared.  Please come.”

He looks regretful.  “I can’t, honey.  But I think I know someone who can.  I trust this person with you very much.  Do you trust me to look after you?”

She gives him a watery smile and sniffles.  “Of course, Sam.  Please… hurry.”

After he disconnects to make his call, she checks the lock on the door for the twelfth time and wraps herself up in the blankets to wait.


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