Kaylee walked towards the back of the motor home, Trevor following, looking as if he was in for a beating. He glanced at Angel and Seth as he walked by.
“Close the door,” Kaylee said as she sat on the bed. Trevor nodded and closed it, then sat next to her. They looked at each other for a moment.
“You look scared to death,” Kaylee said, looking him in the eyes.
“There’s something I need to tell you before we get started,” Trevor said.
“Hey, I called this meeting,” she said.
“I know, but you need to hear it. Was going to bring it up with you and Ji-Ho when we stopped.”
She got a worried look on her face. “Are we in more danger than we thought?”
“It’s what we found in the UN van,” Trevor said, looking down at his lap. He trembled as tears came.
“Oh, no,” she said, putting her arm around Trevor’s shoulders. “What?”
“Seth found some of Matt and Emma’s stuff inside.”
Kaylee froze for a moment, eyes tearing up. “Oh, God, what?”
“Matt’s rifle and Emma’s underwear,” Trevor said. “I’m so sorry.”
“Oh no,” Kaylee said, collapsing against him in sobs. “She’s probably being raped right now.”
“Seth wants to go after her,” Trevor said. “Rescue her.”
She straightened up, trying to compose herself. “Matt’s probably dead.”
“Probably,” Trevor said. “Jamie too, I’ll bet, and Gus.”
“They’ll keep Emma for a slave,” Kaylee said. “She’s probably miles away by now.”
They sat silently for a few minutes, then Kaylee turned to him. “Thank you for telling me. I know that was hard.”
“I sorry,” Trevor said.
“It wasn’t your fault,” she said.
“I know, but she was your best friend,” Trevor said. He brushed her hair out of her eyes, looking at her with sympathy.
“You’re more mature than you act,” she said softly.
Trevor smiled. “Oh, I don’t know about that.”
“Can we talk for a moment, then?” Kaylee asked. “Seems stupid with all of this, but I need to get it out.”
“I watched you fidgeting out there,” Trevor said, hint of worry in his expression.
She smiled at him, and reached up to touch his face. “Poor Trevor, so afraid of girls.”
He watched her, feeling his heart beat quicker. “Go ahead.”
“There’s something between us,” Kaylee said. “Do you feel it?”
“Yes,” he said softly.
“Before Matt and I split?” she asked.
“Matt was my friend, so I wouldn’t allow myself to go there,” he said.
“I caught you watching me every once in a while,” she said. “I think my uncle noticed it.”
“Did it bother you?”
“No,” she said. “You looked at Emma sometimes too.”
“She couldn’t stand me,” Trevor said. “She was pretty, but I wasn’t interested.”
“I know,” Kaylee said.
“You talked to me when you had the chance. I don’t remember you ever talking to Emma.”
“So what now?” Trevor asked.
“Nothing,” Kaylee said. “I don’t want to rush into anything. If our affection starts to grow, it’ll be natural, and something will come from it. I just don’t want you to be weird about it either way, okay?”
“You have affection for me?” Trevor asked, staring into her eyes.
“Yes,” she said, “but my match-making uncle isn’t helping it, and you getting weird won’t either.”
Trevor chuckled. “This is liable to make me more weird, not less.”
She smiled. “I know that. Let’s stay back here and talk for a little while. Let’s talk whenever we get a few minutes. We hardly know each other, really. If there’s something there, it’ll come out.”
“I like that idea,” Trevor said. “You’ll tell me if I get weird, right?”
“You’ll see me losing interest,” she said. “Be sensitive to me. All girls like that.”
Trevor’s eyes dilated, his breath coming faster. She noticed, watching him, frozen in time. “Oh, God.”
“What?” Trevor asked.
“Your reaction,” she said. “This is going to be a challenge. What got you so worked up?”
“You just said you were interested in me,” he whispered. “Sorry, that has an effect.”
She looked over at him silently.
“You’re trembling,” Trevor said.
“Shut up,” she said, reaching for him, bringing him in for a kiss. They moaned together, the kiss going on and on. Kaylee broke it and they stared at each other again. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not,” Trevor said. “Why did you do that? It didn’t fit what we were talking about.”
“Don’t try to use logic for something like this,” she said softly. “I wanted to do that as soon as we got back here.”
“Watching you fight out there,” she said. “Us females like to see our men in action.” She put her hand over her mouth. “I didn’t mean that the way it came out.”
“I understand,” he said. “I’ve never been kissed like that before.”
“You have had girlfriends before, I hope,” she asked.
“Yes,” Trevor said. “Been a little while, but I’ve had several.”
“They didn’t kiss you like that?”
“No,” Trevor said. “I don’t know, maybe it’s me.”
“Maybe it’s you?” she asked.
“My mindset,” he said, “and the world we’re living in.” He was silent for a moment, thinking, staring at her delicate face, touching her black hair.
“You’re holding something back,” she said.
“I’ll have to if we’re going to slowly get to know each other.”
“That’s not a good way to start,” she said. “Holding back.”
“Can’t have it both ways,” Trevor said. “Not if we’re going slowly like you’re suggesting.”
“Dammit,” she said. “Okay, okay, I get it. Now tell me what you wanted to say.”
“You sure?” he asked quietly.
“Trevor,” she said. “C’mon.”
He sighed, touching her cheek, looking into her eyes. “I adore you.”
“Oh, God,” she said. They kissed again, more passionately than before. Trevor broke it this time. “Feel that? We’re getting on I-15 already. Maybe we should get back up there.”
“Maybe so,” she said. “Do we understand each other? Can we at least try?”
“Yes,” Trevor said. “That means you can’t hold back either.”
“Okay,” she said, getting closer to him, petting his cheek. “I’ve never been kissed like that before either.”
They kissed again, soft and tender, then stared at each other.
“We’d better get back out there,” Trevor said. “You gonna be okay? What should we tell the others?”
“We have to talk about Emma and Matt when we stop,” she said, face grim. “I wouldn’t worry about the others going crazy over us with that going on.”
“There might be an us,” Trevor whispered, face flushing.
“It’s more than a might,” she whispered. “Come on. Maintain out there.”
They left the bedroom. Trevor sat down on the couch. Kaylee joined him, leaning against him as Angel and Seth shot each other a glance.
“They’re lucky,” Angel whispered.
“Yes,” Seth said, on the verge of tears.
“Emma?” Angel asked.
Seth nodded, tears streaming down his cheeks now.
“There off-ramp,” Ji-Ho said, his loud voice breaking through the room like a knife.
Seth got up and went to the passenger seat. “You mind?”
“Not at all,” Ji-Ho said, smiling at him. “No slugs follow. We be good.”
“I hope so,” Seth said. “We need to talk when we get there.”
“Why wait,” Ji-Ho asked. “Surface streets go on for while. What?”
“I found stuff in the van,” he whispered. “Matt and Emma’s stuff.”
“Matt’s Winchester,” Seth said, looking at him.
“He dead,” Ji-Ho said. “What else?”
“Emma’s bra and panties,” Seth whispered.
Ji-Ho shot him a glance. “You not surprised, I hope.”
“That wasn’t the reaction I expected,” Seth said sharply.
“Don’t get wrong idea,” he said. “I don’t want. I knew when I hear they captured. Blonde girl like Emma valuable to Islamists. I knew she in for trouble.”
“Should we try to rescue her?” Seth asked. “Can we try to rescue her.”
Ji-Ho looked at Seth. “Best hope for her is us winning war, not suicide mission to save. You understand?”
“Not good enough for me,” Seth said. “Maybe not good enough for Kaylee either. What if it was her?”
“It not,” Ji-Ho said. “I understand. Believe me. Many, many young pretty girls captured and used. We beat them in battle, problem gone. Has to be focus.”
They rode silently for a few minutes. “There warehouse,” Ji-Ho said, turning into the driveway. “We in back of industrial park.”
He drove through a maze of roads between rows of two and three story buildings, all white cinder block with roll-up steel doors.
“This place is huge,” Seth said.
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said, reaching up into a cabinet above the windshield. He pulled out a gray plastic remote and hit the button, the large roll-up door springing to life, rolling up quickly.
“Push off-roaders out of way,” Ji-Ho said.
“Okay,” Seth said.
“I’ll help,” Angel said, getting up.
“Me too,” Trevor said, standing, Kaylee getting up too. The men went outside while Kaylee got into the passenger seat. She and her uncle watched as they shoved the off-roaders to the side, clearing a path.
“You work out with Trevor?” Ji-Ho asked.
“That’s private,” she said, “but yes.”
“Yes, uncle, but don’t push it or you’ll ruin the whole thing.”
“Say. Make difference who I save when chips down.”
“Seriously?” she asked.
Seth gave a thumbs up, and Ji-Ho drove the coach through the door, creeping to the back. He shut down the engine and put on the brake. “Well?”
Kaylee sighed. “Yes, uncle, I want him, but I’m not going to rush it, so don’t mess it up. Okay?”
“What I want to hear,” Ji-Ho said. “Come, let’s go out.”
They went out into the warehouse, and Ji-Ho rushed to a big fan, turning it on and pointing it towards the back of the motor home.
“You don’t want to close the door?” Angel asked.
“In a minute,” Ji-Ho said. “Blow diesel fumes out.”
“I told Ji-Ho about Matt and Emma,” Seth said to Trevor as they walked next to the fan, Angel catching up, Kaylee following.
“You did?” Kaylee asked as she joined them. “What’d he say?”
“He said the best thing we can do is win the war,” Seth said.
“You okay with that?” Trevor asked. “He’s right, you know.”
“You told Kaylee back there, didn’t you?” Angel asked.
“Yes, he told me,” Kaylee said. “I’m right here, you know.”
Ji-Ho went into a walled off part of the warehouse, in the corner up front, to the right of the roll-up door. He switched on lights, then came back out. “Turn off fan. Push button by roll-up door to close. Red button.”
Trevor nodded and shut off the fan, as Seth and Angel rushed over to the door.
“We aren’t done for the night,” Kaylee whispered. “My uncle is getting ready to do something in his office.”
“You’ve been here before?” Trevor asked.
“Once,” she said. “On the way to the RV Park. We picked up the off-roaders and took them out into the back country. I loved it.”
“Girl after my own heart,” Trevor said.
“Watch that,” she whispered as Seth and Angel came back over.
“Come to office,” Ji-Ho said. “Conference call.”
They went inside and joined him, taking seats in the cramped space. Ji-Ho sat behind his desk.
“Who we calling?” Trevor asked.
“One Eye,” Ji-Ho said.
Seth snickered. “One Eye?”
“Indian name,” Ji-Ho said. “His team already in staging area with team from Dulzura.”
“How many people we talking about?” Angel asked.
“Two-hundred tribal members there, but not all fight. At least six from other group.”
“Why’d the tribe bring that many people?” Seth asked.
“Reservation overrun,” Ji-Ho said. “Brought women and children to protect.” He pushed the button on his land line phone speaker, then punched in a phone number. It rang twice and picked up.
“Ji-Ho?” an old gravelly voice asked.
“One Eye. On speaker. How you?”
“Great, old friend. Still gonna join us?”
“Yes, but problem tonight. Attack in RV Park.”
“Everybody survive?” One Eye asked.
“Everybody who still with us. They capture some who left. That’s how enemy find us.”
“Where are you now?”
“Inside warehouse,” Ji-Ho said. “With battle wagon.”
One Eye chuckled. “Oh, yeah, that thing. You bringing it here?”
“This no off-roader,” Ji-Ho said.
“There’s a place close by. Came out in discussions with Sam. I’ll go get him and put it on speaker.”
“You do,” Ji-Ho said, smiling at the others.
The line was silent for a moment.
“What if they track this call?” Angel asked.
“Land line on this side,” Ji-Ho said. “No dice.”
“We’re back,” One Eye said.
“Hello,” Sam said.
“Sam, old buddy,” Ji-Ho said. There was silence on the line for a moment.
“Is that who I think it is?” Sam asked.
One Eye chuckled. “Recognize the voice, eh?”
“Yes, it Ji-Ho,” he said, a look of glee on his face. “Long time. Ready to mix up with enemy?”
Sam chuckled. “You involved because of Ivan?”
“One Eye told you about him?” Ji-Ho asked.
“Yeah,” Sam said. “Not sure how I feel about that.”
“You get over,” Ji-Ho said. “One Eye say you have place I can park big rig?”
“There’s a place not too far away, with good road all the way in,” Sam said.
“I didn’t know you knew area,” Ji-Ho said.
“This is where George and Malcolm were.”
Ji-Ho froze. “No, really?”
“Really,” Sam said. “We’re camped by the house.”
“Why camp there? Bad place.”
“There’s a well,” One Eye said, “and it’s in the middle of nowhere.”
“Good place for ambush,” Ji-Ho said.
“We posted men on the ridge,” One Eye said. “After Sam told us. There was still a bunch of .50 cal brass up there.”
“I’ll send you coordinates for the parking place,” Sam said. “How many people you bringing?”
“Not many,” Ji-Ho said. “Four young people and me, but we capable.”
“I thought you were bringing more like ten,” One Eye said.
“Some chicken out after what happen at house in PV,” Ji-Ho said.
“Oh, crap, what’d you do?” One Eye asked.
“Saladin show up at house. Almost killed by my booby trap,” Ji-Ho said. “Watched on video system.”
“Saladin?” Sam asked. “Crap. So the others didn’t want to be targeted by him.”
“No,” Ji-Ho said. “They scared to death.”
“You didn’t kill him?” One Eye asked.
“Almost,” Ji-Ho said. “He get wise before main explosive go off, jump out window. We wound him with secondary device. Not sure how bad.”
“Secondary device?” Sam asked.
“Claymore mine in front yard. Threw him ten feet, but he together enough to shoot video camera.”
“Dammit,” Sam said. “You know how he is. He’ll drop everything to search for you. That why you got attacked?”
“Maybe, but I doubt,” Ji-Ho said. “We with local militia group. Blow-hard type, but good enough in fight to bring. UN and Islamists catch them on road after they leave camp. Probably tracked by phone. Maybe car.”
“How do we know you won’t lead them here?” One Eye asked.
“We move from RV Park to warehouse. Nobody follow.”
“You sure?” Sam asked.
“I sure,” Ji-Ho said. “We call on land line, too.”
“Well thank God for that,” Sam said. “This worries me.”
“You leave anything behind at that RV Park?” One Eye asked.
“One motor home and two SUV,” Ji-Ho said. “We get tomorrow.”
“NO!” Sam said. “Leave them there. Come in the rig you’re sure they didn’t follow. Any witnesses get away?”
“Not that we see,” Ji-Ho said.
“You think it’s safe for them to bring that here, Sam?” One Eye asked.
There was silent on the line for a moment, then a sigh from Sam. “Yeah, because of where they’ll park. It’s not easy to find your way here from that location. We should rig surveillance to watch, though. Might be a good opportunity for an ambush if Saladin’s folks are on to him.”
“This could ruin the mission,” One Eye said.
“How?” Ji-Ho asked. “You think they take down supply depot? They need.”
“They might put a lot more resources there to guard it,” Trevor said.
“Who was that?” One Eye asked.
“Trevor,” Ji-Ho said. “You like. Sharp, fearless in fight. Remind me of your main squad.”
“Yeah, well Trevor is right, I’ll give him that,” Sam said. “When are you getting here?”
“Tomorrow,” Ji-Ho said. “We bring big coach, many weapons. Mortars, RPGs, M60 machine guns, claymore mines, and more.”
“Vehicles?” One Eye asked.
“We have four Jeeps here, and six off-roaders. We tow.”
“We only have five tow vehicles,” Trevor said.
“Big trailer for motor home fit two off-roader,” Ji-Ho said. “Each of us have to drive.”
“This sounds a little scary,” Kaylee said. “What if we get attacked on the road?”
“I fire up mini-gun,” Ji-Ho said. “All take M60s in Jeep with you.”
“Who was that?” Sam asked.
“You brought your niece?” Sam asked.
“She in Gyeongbokgung line,” Ji-Ho said.
Sam chuckled. “Oh, please, that doesn’t matter.”
“Don’t underestimate blood lines,” One Eye said. “My elite fighters are all from warrior families. It’s intangible, but it’s real.”
“Okay, whatever,” Sam said. “Hope we don’t get her killed.”
“We all in danger,” Ji-Ho said. “Worth fight anyway.”
“Not going to argue with you there,” Sam said.
“Me neither,” One Eye said. “If I were you I’d leave tonight, and make the first part of the drive in the dark. Saladin’s going to flood that region with fighters as soon as he can.”
“Yeah, I think he’s right,” Trevor said.
“No problem,” Ji-Ho said. “You guys feel up to driving tonight?”
“Yes, I feel like a sitting duck here,” Seth said.
“Me too,” Angel said.
“I’m good,” Trevor said, “but we could use some coffee. That machine there work?”
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Okay, Sam and One Eye, we go now. I send radio message when we arrive.”
“Got it,” One Eye said. “Be careful. If you get followed, go someplace else unless you can kill them all. Comprende?”
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “See you soon.” He ended the call.
“This seems pretty dangerous, uncle,” Kaylee said, face flushed.
“We be fine,” Ji-Ho said. “Who drive stick? Two of Jeeps are manual.”
“I can,” Trevor said.
“Me too, uncle,” Kaylee said. “I’ve driven these before, remember? That last off-roading trip. I towed one of the off-roaders in a manual Jeep.”
“Forgot,” Ji-Ho said. “Let’s move it. I start coffee machine.”
Sam and One Eye sat on rocks near the fire, in the center of the group of tents.
“You okay with this?” One Eye asked.
“Ji-Ho is one crazy son of a bitch, but that’s what we need,” Sam said. “It’ll be nice to see that old lunatic.”
“He’s liable to draw Saladin right to us,” One Eye said.
“That’ll give me a chance to kill him,” Sam said.
“Don’t let the personal stuff mess with you,” One Eye said. “We’ve got a job to do.”
“He’s going to get personal,” Sam said.
“Then let him make the mistakes,” One Eye said.
Sam chuckled. “Message received, and you’re right.”
Clem and Sid walked over. “What’s going on?” Sid asked. “Saw you on the phone.”
“We just talked to another group that’s on their way here,” One Eye said.
“There’s another group coming?” asked a tiny young woman, moving closer to the fire.
“Yes, Sage Flower,” One Eye said. “Why do you ask?”
“Sage Flower,” she said, rolling her eyes, her beautiful face framed by thick shiny black hair. “My name is Megan. Don’t call me by the Indian name. I’m a grown up.”
“Yeah, I’d better not hear Still Pool, either,” a young woman next to her said. She was a larger woman, curvy with high cheekbones and the same long, shiny black hair as Megan. “I’d better not hear anything other than Kaitlyn from you and the other elders. Especially if we’ve got more men showing up. I’m not a squaw.”
Sid chuckled. “Heard that before.”
“We don’t want to abandon our culture,” One Eye said.
“We can have normal names in public and still be true to what we believe,” Kaitlyn said. “Tell us about the group.”
“It’s small,” One Eye said. “Ji-Ho is an older Asian man. Korean.”
“Who’s with him?” Megan asked.
“His niece,” One Eye said. “And three other men. One of them spoke on the call. He sounded like he was in his mid-20s.”
“Good,” Megan said.
“We’ve got men in the tribe,” One Eye said.
“All the best ones are taken already,” Kaitlyn said.
“Maybe because the other women don’t balk at our traditions,” One Eye said.
“Yes they do,” Megan said.
“Relax,” Kaitlyn said. “We might not even like them, and one of them might already be taken anyway.”
“Why do you say that?” Sid asked.
“Think about it,” Kaitlyn said. “The old man has his niece with him, and other men who he didn’t call relations. One of them is the niece’s boyfriend, and the other two are probably his friends.”
“How do you know all of the men are in their mid-20s?” One Eye asked. He glanced at Sid and Sam, smiling.
“And I wanted a daughter,” Sam said, getting up. “I’m gonna go find a place to bed down. I just texted those GPS coordinates to Ji-Ho.”
“I saw Sarah, Yvonne, and Connie setting up tents over that way about forty yards,” One Eye said, pointing. “See you later. You know our friends are gonna arrive in the middle of the night, right?”
“Yeah, I know,” Sam said as he walked away. “All the more reason to get some sleep now.”
Sid and One Eye looked at each other, chuckling. Then One Eye got a serious expression and looked over at Kaitlyn and Megan.
“What?” Kaitlyn asked.
“Don’t you be all over these new men,” he said. “It’s unseemly.”
“We’ll see,” she said, looking over at Megan with a grin. Both of them giggled and walked away.
“Holy crap,” Sid said. “How does this tribe feel about relationships with outsiders?”
“We try to discourage it, but it’s not doing much good. Each generation gets further from the traditions. It’s sad, but I don’t see a way to stop it.”
“We lost that battle a hundred years ago,” Sid said. “Truth be told, my closest friends are those white-folk that I came with. John, Sam, and Clem are as much family to me as anybody in my tribe. I put them right up there with you and your family.”
“What’s going on with your tribe?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “They’re mostly in Arizona. I’ve heard bad things about that area.”
“So have I,” One Eye said. “We’d better get some shut-eye while we can.”
To be continued…
Bug Out! Texas has just been published in the Kindle Store! This is the story of Texas Patriots and their struggle against enemies, foreign and domestic, during the Bug Out! War. Chock full of action, adventure, suspense, and romance. Pick up your copy of Bug Out! Texas Book 1 today!
The first of my full length novels has been published in the Amazon Kindle store, available now. For those of you have have been readying the Bugout! series, the story involves George and Malcolm, and is set about seven years earlier. This book R rated, instead of the PG-13 of the Bugout! Series, so be warned. Here’s the link to “Never A Loose End”
Copyright Robert Boren 2016