Karen entered the yellow coach.
“Tex?” she asked quietly. As she approached the bedroom door, she could hear him breathing, fast asleep. She slid the door open quietly, looking around in the bedroom, waiting for the flash back of Lily to hit her. Nothing. She sighed, relieved, then slipped inside, stripping and climbing into bed carefully. Tex stirred, rolled over to face her, and settled back into sleep. Karen glanced over at him and found his peaceful expression calming. She turned onto her back and looked at the ceiling, with its mini gun structure hanging down. How did I get here?
Tex stirred again, moving closer to her, hand going over her stomach, making her jump. His eyes opened slightly. “Oh, sorry,” he muttered, pulling his hand back. She grabbed it and put it back on her belly, petting it tenderly, a warm feeling almost overpowering her. In seconds he was back to his light snore, and she felt herself starting to drift away. For a split second the peppermint smell rushed back into her head. She shuddered, waking Tex.
“Hey, you okay, little lady?” he asked sleepily, not realizing that his hand was resting on her, or that she held it.
“I’m fine,” she whispered. “I started to slip back into that dream, but I came out of it.”
“Want me to go out into the salon?” he asked, pulling his hand back.
“No, I want you to stay right here,” she said, taking his hand again. “Please?”
“Sure, honey,” he said softly, his hand caressing her slightly. She trembled, turning towards him, pulling his arm back over herself, moving tight against him, not caring that her breasts were resting against his hairy chest.
“Can I trust you?” she whispered. “Really?”
“Yes,” he said, his hand moving on her back now, pulling her closer. Her leg went over his hip, entangling them.
“I feel safe,” she said. “I’m not bothering you too much, am I?”
“No,” he said. “I’ll hold you all night if it helps.”
“I know,” she said, checking herself, trying to bring on the bad thoughts. They weren’t there. She started to cry softly.
“Is this bothering you?”
“No, dummy,” she said. “It’s helping me. Just hold me. Okay?”
“Okay,” he said softly, settling in, trying to keep his libido under control. It was a struggle. Everything that filled his hopes and dreams was in his arms at that moment. The last thing he wanted to do was blow it now.
“This is hard for you,” she whispered. “I can feel it. I can feel you.”
“Sorry,” he said. “I’ll move away. He started to back off, but she pulled him back tighter.
“No, stay,” she said, opening her eyes, meeting his. “We can, if you want. I’ll let you.”
“No,” Tex said. “You don’t want to. I’ll settle down after a few minutes. I promise.”
“But you want it,” she whispered. “I’ll get into it once we start.”
“No, I’m fine,” Tex said.
“It’s okay, really,” she said, moving her hand on his side.
“I need to know that you’re ready, and I’m not getting that from you,” he said.
“What are you getting?”
“Fear and guilt,” he whispered.
“I’ll battle that for the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s okay. I know you want it.”
“You don’t get me, do you?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I don’t want it, I want you. I can wait until you’re ready. No, I have to wait until you’re ready.”
“What, until I love you?” she asked. “You keep this up and it’ll happen.”
“That’s what I want more than anything,” he said, “but that can’t be rushed, especially after what you’ve been through.”
“Do you love me?” she asked.
“I don’t think I should tell you that,” he said.
“You might feel pressure. You might get overwhelmed.”
“I don’t care,” she said. “Tell me anyway. Then we can go to sleep.”
He chuckled. “That would keep you awake, trust me.”
“No, it wouldn’t,” she said. “It’ll force out the bad, either way. If you don’t love me now, you will soon. I can tell.”
Tex sighed. “All right, all right.” He laid there silently for a moment.
“Yes, I love you,” he said, feeling his eyes tear up. She saw them glisten in the low light of their bedroom, and started to cry.
“See, I told you,” Tex said.
“I’m happy, dummy,” she said, pulling him closer. “Now hold me. Make me know that it’s going to be okay.”
They fell asleep in each other’s arms.
Sid rushed over to the veranda. Garret was there with Ji-Ho, John, Sarah, Yvonne, and Clem. Tyler was walking up, getting there at about the same time that Sid climbed the steps.
“Uh oh, what’s wrong with you?” Garrett asked, looking at Sid’s face.
“I just heard from Sam,” Sid said, out of breath. “There’s about two hundred Islamists following them on the trail.”
“Oh no,” Yvonne said.
“How long ago did you talk to him?” Tyler asked.
“Just a couple minutes ago,” he said. “He’s at the rear of the group with Erica, watching the back door.”
“We need to do something,” Garrett said. “Quickly.”
“I was hoping that was what you were gonna think,” Sid said.
“Sounds like a good opportunity for a long ride,” Garrett said. “You know the trail they’re on, right?”
“Yep,” Sid said. “I propose that we take our Jeeps and lead you guys to where they are.”
“We should take about three hundred men,” Garrett said. “The rest should be here, ready for an attack, just in case they want to hit us in both locations.”
“I agree,” Sid said.
“Me too,” Tyler said. “I’ll go get the others. Let’s take off right away.”
Garrett pulled his phone out of his pocket and hit a contact, walking off the veranda with the phone in his ear.
“What’s going on?” James asked, walking up with Seth and Angel.
“The tribe is about to come under attack,” Tyler said. “I was just coming to get you. Let’s get the Jeeps loaded up again. We’re going out there.”
“I’ll go get the others,” James said, turning and trotting away.
“Let’s go get Kaitlyn and Megan,” Seth said. “You know they’ll want to be in on this.”
“Seriously,” Angel said. They trotted off together as Garrett came back. “It’s all set. My guys will be here in a few minutes. Where exactly are we going?”
“You know the trail to the ghost town and mine?” Sid asked.
“Yeah,” Garrett said, “but only from the Barrett Lake side. “I assume you guys got in from somewhere along Highway 94.”
“Yeah,” Sid said, pulling out his phone. He loaded the map application and held it out for Garrett to see. “We went as far as we could get away with on Highway 94. You guys might not want to go that way.”
“I know a lot of this area,” Garrett said. “We could be there fairly quickly if we go as the crow flies, this way.” He traced the route with his finger. “See?”
“How long of a ride is that?” Tyler asked.
“Way less than a day to get near these ridges here,” Garrett said. “Where would we engage the enemy, though?”
“Maybe we could go in the Jeeps and send GPS coordinates,” Tyler said.
“Yes, that would be a good way to do it,” Garrett said. “How long would it take for you guys to get the Jeeps to the tribe?”
“Not long,” Sid said. “Maybe three hours max.”
“We should take off now,” Tyler said. “With as much ammo and men as we can carry.”
“I agree,” Garrett said. “My forces will take off now too. We’ll make a course correction when we get the GPS coordinates.”
“What go on?” Ji-Ho asked as he walked up. Sid and Garrett filled him in. He got a worried look on his face.
“We can’t lose ability to fight rest of battle,” Ji-Ho said.
“We can’t afford to lose the rest of the tribe,” Sid said, “and remember that Sam is with them. He won’t leave them. He’ll fight to the death for them if he thinks that’s all they can do. We need to get there, and fast.”
Ji-Ho thought for a moment. “How many people we keep here to watch base?”
“Most of my men,” Garrett said. “I’m only taking three hundred. That leaves you with about six hundred men, plus these battle wagons. I’d keep enough of your people here to man them.”
“The clock is running,” Sid said, standing up. “C’mon, let’s go.”
Yvonne stood. “You know I’m going, right?”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Sid said. They took off for the Jeeps.
“We taking ours or one of the newer ones?” Yvonne asked.
“One of the newer ones,” Sid said. “There are some wicked rocks to climb on the way out there.”
“Okay, good,” Yvonne said. Sid led her to the one that he and Sam were in. “Let’s grab some of those Jerry cans. I think they all have fuel in them.”
Yvonne nodded, and they grabbed three, putting them in the back with their rifles and two BARs. Tyler and James rolled up, followed by Zac and Ryan in another Jeep.
“Are Seth and Angel coming?” Sid asked.
“No. Ji-Ho caught them. He’s giving each couple a battle wagon, and running them through the training now. Trevor and Kaylee are doing the same.”
“Okay, makes sense, I guess. Hate to be without their guns in this, though.”
“We need to have someplace to come back to,” Yvonne said. “Let’s go.”
Sid nodded, and got behind the wheel, Yvonne jumping into the passenger side. They took off on Highway 94, heading southeast.
“Think we’ll get there in time?” Yvonne asked.
“Yeah, we will, but if Garrett doesn’t make it in time, we’ll probably get killed.”
“Thanks for that,” Yvonne said. She glanced over at him with a smirk.
“I don’t feel right not going,” Kaitlyn said.
“I know,” Seth said. They stood by their battle wagon, waiting for Ji-Ho and Trevor to show up for their training. Megan and Angel joined them, Kaylee following.
“My uncle will be here in a few minutes,” Kylee said. “He’s just about finished with Clem, John, and Sarah. He’s training a few of Garrett’s folks too. Ones that can’t ride.”
“Good,” Angel said.
“You okay with this?” Megan asked Kaitlyn.
“Not really, but I get it,” she said. “Hey, at least we have places to live now. Other than tents, that is.”
Ji-Ho rushed over with Trevor.
“Ready, guys?” Trevor asked.
“Yep,” Angel said. “Let’s get busy.”
The group went into the coach, watching intently as Ji-Ho and Trevor went over all the systems. It took about half an hour.
“Well, I must admit, this is pretty cool,” Kaitlyn said.
“Seriously,” Seth said. “Just remember what Ji-Ho said. These aren’t indestructible.”
“Yes yes,” Ji-Ho said. “Good.”
“We’re going to ours,” Angel said. “See you guys.” He took Megan by the hand and left the coach, Trevor and Kaylee following.
“Any last question?” Ji-Ho asked.
“Nope, I think we’ve got it,” Kaitlyn said. “Thank you.”
“Welcome,” Ji-Ho said. He turned and left, closing the door behind him.
“You think Megan’s okay with this?” Seth asked, eyeing Kaitlyn as she watched Megan and Angel through the window. She turned to him.
“I think so. She’s like me. Scared for her people. That’s all.”
“Okay,” Seth said, sitting on the couch. She sat next to him.
“This is our first home, isn’t it?”
Seth chuckled. “Oh, I don’t know. I was getting used to the tent.”
“Yes, we made some memories in there,” Kaitlyn said. “I hope my mom survives this.”
“I hope they all do,” Seth said. “I also hope we don’t get attacked here.”
“Wonder when more of Garrett’s men are gonna arrive?”
“He didn’t say, exactly, but they’re never far away,” Seth said. “That I’ve noticed. They patrol all the time, too. That’ll make it hard for the Islamists to get the drop on us.”
“Trevor is coming over with Kaylee,” Kaitlyn said, seeing them through the window.
“Uh oh, hope nothing’s wrong,” Seth said, getting up. He opened the door, waiting as Kaitlyn got outside, then closing the screen after himself.
“Anything wrong?” Seth asked.
“No, but Ji-Ho had a good suggestion. We need to move these coaches around. We need them parked by all of the entrance points, and the parts between that are weak, like over there where the trees are, along the road.”
“Okay, where do you want us?” Seth asked.
“You’ll take one side near the back gate, over there,” he said, pointing.
“Okay, no problem,” Seth said.
“I got to go tell the others too,” Trevor said. “Talk to you in a few minutes.”
Seth nodded, then opened the screen for Kaitlyn.
“You don’t always have to open doors for me, you know,” Kaitlyn said, smiling at him.
“It’s a sign of love and respect,” Seth said, looking at her. “It doesn’t bother you too much, I hope.”
“No, I actually like it, I just don’t want you to feel obligated all the time, that’s all.”
“I don’t,” Seth said. “Want to drive, or should I?”
“You go ahead,” Kaitlyn said. “I’ll learn on the road.”
“Okay,” Seth said, getting behind the wheel. He fired up the big diesel and pulled forward, heading for the back of the property, where a small road went past the barn and corral. He did a K-turn with the massive coach, setting it up so it pointed for a good escape route. “There we go.”
“You handle this thing with no problem,” Kaitlyn said, watching him.
“Thanks,” Seth said. “I’ve driven these before.”
“That’s good. When?”
“When I was a kid. My uncle had one. We went on vacation with him, up to Yellowstone. I got to drive some then.”
“Good,” Kaitlyn said. “What do we do now?”
“Relax, I guess,” Seth said. “Wait.”
“Wait. That’s going to be hard.”
“I know, honey,” Seth said.
Jules woke with a start. Shelly was facing him, breathing in his face, still asleep. He reached for his phone, looking at the screen. It was already noon. He sat up quickly, blankets going with him, uncovering Shelly’s nude form next to him. He sucked in some air, then got back down, covering her up carefully.
“Enjoy that?” Shelly asked, eyes barely open.
“Sorry, it was accident,” he said.
“Uh huh,” she said. “What’s wrong?”
“It noon already,” he said. “Too late to sleep.”
Is it really?” Shelly asked. “Wow. Guess we needed it.”
“Guess so,” he said.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Shelly said, looking at him with a mischievous grin. “Did you enjoy that? I mean, you saw all of me. Or most, at least.”
Jules chuckled. “You tease me, no?”
“Answer me,” she said.
“Yes, I enjoy how you look,” Jules said softly, “but was accident. Really.”
She giggled. “It’s okay, Jules, you’ve been a good boy. At least it’s easier now.”
“What’s easier now?”
“I have to go to the bathroom. I don’t have to wait until you’re gone.” She got out of bed and walked out the sliding door, turning to smile at him. Jules’s eyes glassed over.
“Beautiful,” Jules said under his breath.
“I didn’t hear that,” she said, turning around, showing her naked front to him.
“I said beautiful,” Jules said, eyes fixed on her. “You enjoy this, no?”
“Oh, maybe a little bit,” she said before rushing into the bathroom.
Jules watched the doorway for almost a minute after she was gone, trying to save every detail in his mind. When she came back in, he was still staring.
“Wow, I really hit you with the thunderbolt, didn’t I?” she asked as she slipped back into bed, pulling the sheet over herself. “Show’s over for now.”
“You’re getting back into bed?”
“For a little while,” she said.
“You just want to torture me some more, no?”
She giggled. “Is that what this is?”
“You woke up playful,” Jules said. “I like.”
“Well, which is it? Playful or torture?”
Jules laughed. “Maybe little both.”
Jules’s phone rang. “You hand to me?”
“Why, you don’t want to get out of bed for some reason?”
“Maybe so,” he said.
It continued to ring. Jules shot her a sidelong glance and then got out of bed quickly, grabbing it and getting back under the sheet. “Enjoy show, no?”
She giggled. “Well, at least I know you like me.”
“I already tell you that.”
“Sometimes there are things more convincing than words,” she said, the mischievous grin back on her face.
The phone quit ringing.
“Shoot, lost call,” Jules said. He looked at it. “Ivan. Better call back.”
He hit the contact and put the phone on speaker. It rang.
“Do I need to leave?” Shelly asked, looking serious.
“Yes, I just want to watch,” Jules said. “No, I kid, you stay. He tell if top secret.”
“Jules,” Ivan said. “Sorry to bother you.”
“You never a bother to me, old friend,” Jules said. “Shelly here with me. Okay?”
“Oh, the one you want to take back to the farm with you?” Ivan asked.
“No, not say that, you trouble maker,” Jules said, looking embarrassed as he glanced at Shelly.
“Have it your way, Jules. Sure, she can listen. We need to get word to Ji-Ho about some enemy activity, and I’m going to be someplace where I can’t call. Haven’t been able to raise him.”
“Okay, what message?” Jules asked, sitting up, motioning to a pad of paper and a pencil on the shelf by the window. Shelly got up and grabbed it for him. “Thanks, Shelly. Go ahead, Ivan.”
“Our sources see two groups of Islamists, in very bad places. One group follow Indian Tribe on trail home. Two hundred. Second group near hideout in Dulzura. Three hundred men. He should get ready.”
“That not good,” Jules said. “I call right away.”
“Good, and keep trying until you get him. You could try Sam too, but he’s been out of cell range.”
“Okay, we get word there, no worry. Anything else?”
“No,” Ivan said. “Have fun with your milk maid. See you soon.”
The line went dead.
“Milk maid?” she asked. “Was that a reference to my breasts or something?”
“No,” Jules said. “I call Ji-Ho.” He hit the contact. It rang several times and went to voicemail. “Ji-Ho, it Jules. Large force of enemy fighters near base in Dulzura and behind Indians on trail. Call me.”
He put the phone down. “Dammit.”
“Where’s Dulzura?” Shelly asked.
“Southeast San Diego County,” Jules said. “This very bad.”
“How does Ivan see them?” Shelly asked.
“Top secret? You keep mouth shut?”
“Of course, although I think I should be mad at you.”
“This milk-maid thing. I want some answers, after we get through with this.”
Jules nodded, brow furrowed. “Okay. Robbie’s dad create way to track Islamists via their RFID chips. We don’t have access yet, but exists. Contact call Ivan with info.”
“Oh,” she said. “Wow. That would be huge. Have they been watching out for us?”
“Some, yes, but difficult. Bigger problems in Utah and Colorado than here. They don’t have time to wipe our butts for us.”
Jules’s phone rang. He hit the speaker button.
“Yes. This from Ivan? Using new tool?”
“It is,” Jules said. “Be ready. You have enough fighters?”
“Sent many to trail behind tribe just now. Have plenty staying here, just in case of this. We good. Don’t worry.”
“Good, Ji-Ho, then don’t waste time talking to me. Talk later. Bye.”
Jules ended the call, then looked at Shelly. “Thank you. Maybe we get dressed, go outside.”
“Wait a minute,” Shelly said, grabbing his arm as he prepared to get off the bed. “What farm was he talking about?”
“Family business, I tell. Belgium.”
“You aren’t going back to being a mobster, are you?”
Jules cracked up. “I not say I mobster. Never. I tell you about family estate, too.”
“Crap, you’re rich, aren’t you?”
“A little,” Jules said.
“No, a lot,” she said, eyeing him. “Dairy farms, right? Milk Maid? Geez, I feel like an idiot.”
“I didn’t tell you I was mobster,” Jules said.
“You knew I thought that, though. Why didn’t you tell me?”
Jules sighed. “I guess jig up.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” she said. “Time to fess up. Now.”
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 2017