My whole body is trembling and Christian pulls me in closer as we pass security and head to the top of the drive. Emerging from the car I see him standing there, looking tired but so beautiful and all I want to do is go to him. Someone holds me back. Jason I think. I don’t understand. At first I try to get out of his grasp. He has made a mistake. He knows I have to go to Elliot. That is why we are here.
“Kate, stop, you can’t go up there.” I still for a moment and turn my body in his hold, looking up at him in complete disbelief.
“Let me go. I have to go to him.” My voice is calm, foreign to me. He firms his grip.
“You can’t, Kate.”
“Jason, get your hands off me.” He tightens and I struggle. He’s lost his marbles. He has no right to stop me. My voice goes from a malevolent whisper to a full watch-your-testicles roar. “Get your fucking hands off me.” Screaming, slapping, struggling but most of all screaming, that just feels amazing. Jason is losing the fight.
“Katherine.” Christian’s dominant voice cuts in and he moves in to pull me into his protective body. I breathe him in but he is not Elliot. He is not my Elliot. “Katherine.” I know that tone, I am in trouble. He is about to scold me. I go to pull away from his impending discipline but he folds me in tighter.
“Kate. You can’t go to him. Look at me.” Somewhere in the struggle the fight leaves my body and the shudder of my first sobs arrives. “If you go up there upset or without safety gear, he might step off that plate. If there is any chance of him surviving we have to play this smart. Keep him calm. That starts with you. If I was up there and Ana came in like that I am not sure that I could have kept my cool. Look at him. I’m not sure I would have the composure to survive but he does. He can, but not if you lose it. You can do this. You need to use that analytic brain and work out how to do this so we can keep him alive.”
When I arrived out here earlier this morning the ISO container was already in place. What was odd was where it was positioned. I parked my truck and grabbed my hardhat as I swung my legs out and before I had even hit the ground, TJ came storming across the compound like a man possessed with his cell glued to his ear as he shouted obscenities at some poor unsuspecting moron on the other end. I figured I knew what was wrong from the way the crew was standing around looking at the container. Who the fuck would park the damn thing so close to house?
“TJ?” I call out to him as he crosses in front of me without so much as a fuck-of-the-morning to ya. He gives me the talk-to-the-hand signal as he stops in front of me.
“Not now, Ells. I’m on it.” Well, at least I’m Ells and not shithead. Of course, that would necessitate a new project manager which would be damned inconvenient for both of us. He turns around and heads back to the site office working himself up to a healthy roar on the way. I wander over to Will.
“Shit, I’ll take redundant questions for 500 thanks, Alex.” Sweat is pouring off me in buckets and the towel I was given an hour ago is soaked through. I signal for another one. Just wish I could see the face of the person bringing it out to me.
“Hang in there, buddy. You’re doing really well.” He keeps saying that and funnily enough it seems to have lost some of its meaning.
The noise coming from the back of the trailer is a constant buzz punctuated by the gas from the cylinder. It’s grating on my last nerve and the cramp is coming back into my thigh. I know that in about ten minutes they will stop and the voices will start as everyone checks on everyone else, to which the answer will be, yep, we’re still fucking here. Not going anywhere. How about you?
“Aaah, Jesus Christ!” A pair of hands massage up the back of my legs from another faceless Samaritan, slowly rolling the knot of pain down my leg and into my boot. “Just tell me where the fuck we’re at.”
“Another half an hour.”
“That’s what you said half an hour ago.” I want to hear a chuckle from under the mask. Anything that will make me feel more human but his face is impassive and his whole demeanor is about placating not entertaining. This must be the fourth hour psyche protocol. “Shit, who is that?”
“Princess, it isn’t you that was wrong. What you felt was a perfectly normal response.” Her body stiffens and she pulls herself away, shoving at my upper body somewhat ineffectively as she does so. When I don’t lose my balance she slaps me hard across the face.
“Don’t. Don’t give me your psychobabble bullshit Ethan Kavanagh. I swear if you give me any of that you’re-all-clear shrinkage…”
“Shrinkage?” At least she has me laughing, but just a little.
“Yeah, shrinkage. Whenever it suits you, you do this what-you-are- feeling-is-perfectly-normal routine and justify my insanity when quite frankly I like being just a little bit loopy. So don’t you dare cos I am not.”
“Not normal. And neither are you. Even though you want to believe you have the world all neatly boxed up. You’ve pegged Christian as some sort of sexual deviant, Ana has a savior complex, Kate over-analyzes, Elliot’s masking his pain. You do it with everyone and then when you think you have us all labeled and packaged you write your dinky little 12-page reports so that the agency can deal. Well, don’t start that with me. I am unique and complex and I don’t want you to think for a moment that you have me all sewn up cos you know I will take that shit and give it the blender treatment until you don’t know what flavor you’re tasting.”
“No!” Mia and I simultaneously shout without thinking and Rory lets out a low chuckle as he straightens up without taking his eyes off Mia. Well, don’t that beat all. The prick was just baiting us. He walks around the table and stands right in front of me. His next words are for both of us but he is directing them at my face.
“Thought not. Whatever is going on between you two, has the potential to make this work… or to destroy this investigation. So you better make your fucking minds up which one it is cos we are running out of time. Now, would you ladies like some alone time so you can work out which one of you gets to wear the dress?”
“Turn around,” he growls. He is fuming.
Fuck no! “What?” Oh God, he is going to kill me, or her. Or both of us.
“You heard me, sweetheart. Turn around, I wanna see what I might be buying later.” Oh, heck.
“It’s just a costume. There’s no need to get your knickers in a twist.” I place my hand on the bar in an act of defiance but he sweeps it off and growls again.
“Turn around.” Very slowly I turn away from him and I hear the sharp intake of breath from every man with in twenty feet of me. “What the fuck is that?”
“My ass. What did you think it was?” I reply defiantly. Knowing what he is looking at, what they are all looking at I bend forward slightly and arch my back so that they can all get a good view. There is very little to the back of the costume. What there is is a big gaping cut out that reveals the top half of my ass crack. I could kill that bitch Elena but right now I have to play this so as not blow our cover. “Do you like what you see…Sir.”
Looking back over my shoulder I bat my eyelashes a couple of times before lowering my gaze to his crotch. Yeah, he likes it alright. When he notices the attention we are getting he moves closer in behind me.
“I am going to kill her. And then I am going to take you over my knee and give you a spanking that will make your skin red and my hand ache. Do you understand me?” I have never seen Ethan this mad before. It’s kinda hot.