Are you ready for your special Saturday read? I know I am. This is getting downright scary. Do you think Chóngdé might actually try and KILL Chantal? I thought she was at least safe from that. At least we know Mace is close to finding her. Or do we? Shall we see? Enjoy!!!
Hustle Into Love
She was out of time, Chantal could feel it. It was now or never. “Like I said, I won’t make it easy for you, Chóngdé. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, bloodied or not.”
“Really?” Chóngdé drawled, obviously amused. “Like what?”
“Like this.” Before she’d finished speaking, Chantal dropped to the ground and grabbed for the gun. As she scrabbled for it, another shot was fired her way, this one so close it parted her hair. To angry to be scared, she rolled, lifting the gun with both hands and pointing it at Chóngdé. All she saw before the gun fired was the other woman’s surprised face.
Chóngdé gave a scream of pain as the bullet hit her arm in almost the same place where Chantal had been injured. The pistol dropped from her hand and went skittering across the room.
Slowly, Chantal stood, keeping her weapon trained on her enemy. She bared her teeth in a triumphant smile as she walked closer. “I told you I was full of surprises.”
“Bitch.” Chóngdé’s hate-filled eyes glared at her. “You think you’ve won, but I will not give in.” She struggled to her feet. “You have not beaten me. I will kill you yet.” Without another word, she lunged at Chantal, grabbing for the gun.
Surprised at the move, instinctively Chantal defended herself. She fired her weapon, knowing at this close of a range she couldn’t help but hit the other woman in a vital place. But to her horror all she heard was a loud click.
She was out of ammunition.
Then she was bowled over and knocked to the floor. She saw stars when, with a snarl, Chóngdé grabbed her by the hair and slammed Chantal’s head into the ground. But the pain only made Chantal angrier. She countered her enemy’s attack with one of her own.
Using her dancer’s flexibility, she scissored her legs around Chóngdé’s torso and twisted, rolling so the other woman was now on the bottom. She jerked her head from Chóngdé’s grasp and ignoring the pain in her arm, punched Chóngdé right in the face.
“Pulling hair? I don’t use any of those sissy moves,” Chantal hissed as she hit Chóngdé again. “And I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
It was immediately obvious that Chóngdé was overmatched, but she squealed and tried to return the blows. A few landed, one to the side of Chantal’s cheek, making her eyes water, but adrenaline had taken over. Fury ruled. She would only be satisfied when her enemy was unconscious…or dead. At one point in time she thought she heard another gunshot, but all her attention was on Chóngdé. She kept hitting the smaller woman, thinking of every slight…every insult that had been heaped on her in the last day.
Then she thought of all the people whose lives Chóngdé had destroyed, and her anger increased tenfold.
“This is for Deshi,” Chantal snarled, as blood began to flow freely. “And for the rest of them. For every person you’ve hurt. For all the poor creatures you sold into slavery and worse. And for the families who were left wondering what happened to their loved ones. There’s a special place in Hell for you, Chóngdé, and by God, I’m going to send you there.”
* * * * *
Mace had run into two more groups of sailors, but they hadn’t been much of a match for him. He was so angry…so terrified at what might be happening to Chantal, he made short work of them all. He searched, inspecting each hold to see if his lady had hidden away somewhere safe, though the constant shouting and the sound of another gunshot didn’t lend credence to that hope.
He was coming down an even narrower corridor when he heard it. A muffled sound that made him stop in his tracks. Cocking his head, he listened, following the sound to a small hatch at the end of the passageway.
Weeping. Mace’s blood iced. Someone was crying.
He tried the door, but it was locked. When the door rattled, the weeping stopped and he could hear hissed whispers before all went silent.
Frowning, he pressed his ear against the portal. He couldn’t imagine any of Chóngdé’s men crying. And it definitely wasn’t his lady. So maybe Chantal wasn’t the only captive on the ship. Maybe she’d hidden herself and others away until rescue came.
Standing to the side of the door just in case he was wrong, and it was a tearful sailor, Mace knocked. “Who’s in there?”
There was no answer. If possible, it got even quieter.
Mace knocked again. “It’s all right. I won’t hurt you. My name is Mace. I’m a friend. I’m looking for my lady. She was taken from me. Her name is Chantal.”
There was a sudden movement when he said Chantal’s name, and Mace’s hopes rose. She may not be inside but whoever was knew her.
“I promise you,” he entreated, “I’m not a bad guy. I love Chantal and have come to rescue her. We’ve taken the ship and you’ll be safe. Just help me find her.”
Whispers started up again and Mace tried to hang onto his patience. He understood whoever was behind the door was frightened, but he knew in his bones that Chantal needed him now!
“Please.” If begging was needed, he’d do it. “I know she’s in trouble. I heard gunshots. Just tell me where she is.”
The whispers became an argument, and Mace gave serious thought to breaking the damn hatch door down. But just as he was looking around for something to use as a crowbar, he heard a sound at the door.
A moment later the portal opened, and to his surprise Mace found himself staring into the wide, dark intelligent eyes of a little boy. He stepped out of the hold and looked up at Mace. Behind the tot were at least a dozen people, women and children, all huddled together, their faces white with terror.
“She went for help,” the child lisped. “She told us to stay here. That she would come back for us when it was safe, but I think she is in trouble.”
“I think so, too.” Mace knelt and put his hand on the boy’s naked shoulder. He cringed at how thin and cold it felt. “Do you know where she went?”
The child nodded and pointed down the corridor. “I watched. I wanted to go too, but she said she would worry about me, so I had to stay here.”
“You did well,” Mace praised, getting to his feet. “Now, go back inside and stay safe like she wanted. Once I find her, we’ll both come back for you.”
Eyes too old for his years stared warily up at Mace. “You promise? Like she did?”
His throat tight, Mace nodded. “I promise…what’s your name?”
The boy stood up straight. “Deshi.”
“Deshi.” Mace gave him a gentle push back inside. “Soon you will all be safe. I promise.”
“And the lady?” Deshi looked anxious. “You will protect her, too?”
“Yes, I’ll protect her.” Mace would swear that fact on his own life. With a wave goodbye, he closed the door behind him and turned to run down the dimly lit passage. “Now, all I have to do is find her.”
* * * * *
Hui Sun stared into the terrified captain’s eyes. Already three of the bridge crew were dead, all shot when the bridge had been overrun by Sun’s personal army. He hadn’t been pleased to lose anyone who could have given him information about Chóngdé’s organization, a fact he was now taking out on the man in front of him. At his reckoning, his soon to be former employee had two broken ribs, a detached retina and maybe even a ruptured spleen. “I ask you again, one last time, where is my daughter.”
The captain cringed away before spitting out more blood. “I do not know. I swear. When the prisoners escaped she was very angry. She took my gun and told me she would deal with Ms. Montgomery herself. I do not know where she went, but I think…I think she means to kill the prisoner.”
Hui shook his head grimly. The prisoner took one look at Sun’s face and began to pray loudly to his ancestors.
“That will do you no good,” Sun said, nodding to one of the men with a gun. There was an audible click as the hammer was cocked. “It is too late. You are a man without honor.”
“Please,” the captain croaked, crawling painfully forward. “I can tell you more. About your daughter and what she has been do—”
“I do not think you understand,” Hui Sun interrupted. “I already know everything. All I wanted from you was my daughter, and you couldn’t even give me that.” He looked meaningfully at the man pointing the gun then turned and motioned the rest of the men to follow him.
The sound of a gunshot followed him down the corridor.
Okay...so maybe I'm not feeling so sorry for Hui Sun any longer. Whew! But poor Chantal is fighting for her life. Will Mace get to her in time? I guess we'll see next time!
Until then, enjoy your weekend!