Jules and Shelly came out of their rig, helping their passengers. Then they joined the others, who were milling around in front of the row of six battle wagons. The armed off-roaders and Jeeps were still coming in, parking where they could find spaces.
“Is this a short-term base or a long-term base?” Sparky asked, coming out of the rig with Dana.
“Depend on what you mean by short term and long term,” Jules said.
“Anything more than a few days is long term now,” Dana said.
Where’s everybody going to sleep?” Shelly asked.
“See building over to far right?” Jules asked. “Ivan bring in cots, food, other stuff.”
Looks like the flow of off-roaders is about done,” Sparky said.
“There a few around outside the facility,” Jules said. “Just in case. Early warning.”
“I can’t believe they don’t know where we are,” Shelly said under her breath.
“Video viral on internet,” Jules said.
“The TV show?” Shelly asked.
“Yes,” Jules said. “Heard from Ivan. People begin to self-organize. Anxious to browse net and look. He thinks game changes now.”
“Well, I hope he’s right,” Sparky said. “When’s the next attack?”
“We have meeting later tonight,” Jules said. “Soon.”
“Are we coming back here afterwards?” Shelly asked.
“If possible, yes,” Jules said. “Depend on outcome and what citizens do. Alternate site available, as good as this.”
“What are we expecting from the citizens?” Sparky asked.
“Ben Dover’s started social media blitz right after TV broadcast. Ivan say response greater than expected. Much greater.”
“Well, maybe we should get the sleeping area ready,” Dana said. “The hostages have got to be tired. They could use showers, too. Are there facilities for that here?”
“Should be,” Jules said. He looked at Shelly. “Should we go help?”
“No,” Shelly said. “I want to talk to you about something. In the coach, okay?”
“No problem,” Sparky said. “I’ll go with Dana. We can get things set up.”
“Thanks,” Jules said. He watched Sparky and Dana walk away hand in hand, then followed Shelly into their coach.
“Shut the door, sweetie, and lock it.”
“Lock?” Jules asked.
“Yes,” she said from the back.
“Okay,” Jules said. “Where you go?”
“Back here.” He walked back there, pausing to take off his shoes, his feet hot and tired from the action and the drive. He froze when he got into the bedroom. Shelly was sitting on the bed naked, watching him with serious eyes.
“Oh,” he said. “You need?”
“I’m scared,” she said. “Get your clothes off.”
He nodded, not sure if he should be happy or worried, his heart beating hard in his chest.
“Good, it’s not just me,” she said, looking at his lack of the usual condition.
“You worry me,” he said. “Not worry, desire still strong. You?”
“Telling my story,” she said, starting to cry. “I didn’t think it would get to me. Listening to the others was even harder. We don’t discuss it together. That was the first time most of us spoke about it since you saved us.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t. Let’s just cuddle for a while. Rest and comfort each other.”
“No, I want you to take me hard. Make me feel it. Break through this. I can’t let it sit. It’ll become a thing.”
“Yes. I need to feel that I’m yours, and that you cherish me above everything.” She stood, taking him into her arms. The feeling was enough to get Jules excited.
“Finally,” he whispered to himself.
“I feel it,” she said, backing away to look at him. “I meant it. Hard. Take your woman.”
He picked her up and set her on the bed, taking his time with her as she writhed below him.
“Now,” she said. “C’mon.”
“No, I take the way I want, woman,” he said, keeping up the slow, tantalizing foreplay with her. By the time they joined she was fever hot, screaming with passion as he let himself go, moving her from one position to another, but not getting enough of her. Eye contact was what he craved, and he rolled on top of her, his face inches from hers as he moved, watching her eyes as she gave in totally, as passionate as he’d ever seen her.
“Jules,” she whispered.
“Yes,” he panted.
“This is a bad time.”
“What mean?” he asked, still on the ragged edge of self-control, slowing slightly.
“Baby,” she whispered.
“Oh, then I be careful,” he said, speeding up again.
He looked at her, almost at his peak, feeling the control leaving him.
“Be careful,” she whispered, looking at him, her eyes a mixture of fear and… naughtiness, which drove him over the top. He tried to pull away, but her legs locked him against her, keeping him there as the passion consumed both of them.
“Uh oh,” Jules whispered, looking at her, worry in his eyes. She pushed him up so she could look at his whole face.
“You probably just got me pregnant,” she said, half a smile on her face.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
“It’s what I wanted.”
“We talk about, you said no,” Jules said, searching her eyes.
“You’re my man, and I needed what I needed,” she said. “I didn’t want to discuss it. Now get off me and grab one of those pillows.”
He looked at her for a moment, eyes questioning, then got up. She grabbed her legs, pulling them up against her torso, elevating her lower body.
“What you do?” he asked as he got a pillow out from under the bedspread.
“Put it under my butt,” she said. “I want to help things along.”
Jules smiled, doing as she requested, then lying on the bed next to her. “This not expected.”
“War and terror aren’t the important things in life,” she said, turning her head towards him. “This is. I’ll never leave you. I want at least three children. You gonna be able to handle that?”
He chuckled. “I wanted to start later, but if you need now, you need.” He looked at her, and a mischievous grin came over his face.
“What?” she asked.
“Who say only three?”
Sam was sitting on the coach in his battle wagon. Erica walked out from the back.
Erica nodded yes. “I think she feels safer here.”
“How could she know?”
Erica sat next to him. “She’s very sensitive. She probably picks up on our feelings.”
“Oh,” Sam said. “That makes sense. How are you doing?”
“I’m having a hard time coming down from that last battle,” she said, leaning against him. “When I saw those UN Peacekeepers all over the clearing in front of the house, I just about went crazy.”
“You did,” Sam said, putting his arm on her shoulders and pulling her closer. “I had the same thing going on inside.”
“I know,” she whispered. “If anything happened to Mia I’d never recover.”
“Yes, you would,” Sam said. “Look what she went through before we got her. Americans have been lucky. There hasn’t been a situation like this since the Civil War. I used to wonder how the citizens would be if we were thrust into a wartime situation, like the Europeans were during the world wars. Our people are strong, with a tradition of liberty that’s ingrained. This is horrible to live through, but we’ll win.”
“That wasn’t your attitude a few days ago,” Erica said. “What changed your mind? Can’t be that last battle. We almost lost that.”
“Garrett and I had a talk while I was driving. It was when you and Anna were talking with the others in back.”
“What’d he say?”
Sam chuckled. “He reminded me that we have over forty million people in this state, and most of them are on our side. Our people will never be subjugated, but there will be awful battles ahead.”
“Oh,” Erica said. “I get it. That’s big-picture, though. We’re in the thick of things, being hunted because of the damage we’ve done. The people might never lose the state, but we might not be around to see the victory.”
“That’s true,” Sam said, “but we’re pretty fast on our feet, and we’ve got good leadership. Our people are brave, and we stick together. Most of us will probably survive this.”
“I hope you’re right,” Erica said.
There was a knock at the door.
“I got it,” Sam said, getting up. Garrett and Ed were standing outside with Tyler, Seth, and Angel.
“Hey, guys,” Sam said, standing aside.
“Why don’t you guys go talk elsewhere,” Erica said. “Mia needs a good night’s sleep.”
“Then you can’t listen,” Sam said
“No problem, you’ll tell me all about it later. Go. Plan well. I’ll keep guard over our little girl.”
Sam nodded, coming over to kiss her forehead, then grabbing his gun and coming out. He closed the door quietly. “Well, where too?”
“Saloon,” Garrett said. “Ryan and Sid are gonna show up, and a few others.”
“The saloon it is,” Sam said. “They got any whiskey left?”
“Yeah,” Garrett said. “We’ve actually been making our own. Never mentioned that. It’s not exactly legal.”
“We aren’t drinking much, though, right?” Sid asked.
“Oh, a slug or two won’t hurt,” Garrett said. “There’s still some of that old stuff left.”
The men walked towards the western street, getting onto the wood sidewalk.
“This is something,” Tyler said.
“Oh, it’s silliness, but we like it,” Garrett said. “We’ve been trying to immerse ourselves in more romantic times.”
Ed chuckled. “We’re in romantic times now.”
“Historic,” Seth said.
Ji-Ho saw them coming. He was leaning against the front of the Saloon, smiling at them. Ryan was next to him, and Trevor. Clem walked over after a minute.
“Where are all the women?” Sam asked. “Is this boy’s night out?”
“They’re getting the grand tour of the place from Garrett’s sister,” Trevor said.
“Good,” Garrett said. “Knowing Susanne, they’ll all get jobs.”
“That should go for us men-folk as well,” Ed said.
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said. “We all do part.”
“Some of those women are scary good warriors,” Seth said. “Mine, for example, and Erica too.”
“Megan’s probably better than I am,” Angel said, “at least at some things.”
They filed into the saloon, the swinging doors flapping as they walked in. Crusty old Willard saw them and grinned ear to ear. He looked down at the floor behind the bar and spit, the wet plug of tobacco hitting the spittoon there with a splat.
“Howdy,” he said, smoothing his beard. “What can I do you for?”
“We still got some of the good stuff?” Garrett asked.
“Hell yeah,” Willard said. “Okay if I join you?”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way,” Garrett said. The men picked a large round table, pulling out chairs and sitting. Willard brought over glasses and a couple bottles of whiskey, so old that the labels were disintegrating.
“You were waiting for us,” Sam said to Ji-Ho.
“Yes,” he said, smiling as he watched Willard pour whiskey into his glass. He tossed it back, looking around the western saloon with its 19th century artwork, the ornate shelving behind the bar, and the spittoons every few feet. “This great. Need cowboy hat.”
Garrett laughed. “That can be arranged.”
“You heard from Ivan,” Ed said.
“Yes,” Ji-Ho said, sliding his empty glass towards Willard. “Hit me again, partner.”
Willard and Garrett burst out laughing, the others looking on with smiles. Ji-Ho grinned as Willard poured, and knocked back the drink.
“Video of captive women testimony go viral,” Ji-Ho said. “Ivan hit with recruitment effort at same time, using technique from Texas group. Street battle in San Francisco and Oakland on now. Authorities losing.”
“Which authorities?” Sid asked. “The police?”
Seth chuckled. “No, the police are on our side.”
“You know?” Ji-Ho asked.
“I’ve been on social media for the past few hours. Finally had to plug in my tablet. Ran it out of juice.”
“You didn’t say right off?” Ji-Ho asked.
“Figured I’d let you talk,” Seth said. “I’m seeing something the whole damn population has access to. You, on the other hand, have a direct line into command central.”
“Is Ivan still with Jules, Sparky, and Ted?” Sam asked.
“They split up,” Ji-Ho said. “Next mission coming soon, will put California elected officials back in power.”
“For better or for worse,” Clem said.
“Maybe some learn lesson,” Ji-Ho said. “Biggest liberal in state of Texas now best friends with Governor Nelson, who’s far to conservative side. We bury the hatchet and fight together.”
Sam snickered. “Yep, and when the fight is over, we’ll go right back to arguing with each other.”
“But with memory of this,” Ji-Ho said. “Wrong on both sides. Wrong to place foreigners above home country. Done by both sides. Chamber of commerce want cheap labor. Left want future voters.”
“We’re gonna have war in Europe again,” Trevor said. “I’m going to sit it out.”
“The kid’s probably right about that,” Sam said. “Ivan’s been sowing the seeds of revolution via social media to his counterparts.”
“Counterparts?” Angel asked.
“Resistance in EU,” Ji-Ho said. “Against globalists.”
“They’ve got problems on a scale that we aren’t even near,” Sam said. “Most of those countries have more foreigners than natives now.”
“From what I’ve been reading, their radical Islam problem has gotten better,” Seth said.
“It has?” Sid asked.
Ji-Ho chuckled. “You know why. They send many Islamist fighters here, and more than half come from Europe, not Middle East.”
“They thought Europeans and Americans are a lot alike,” Garrett said, leaning back in his chair with a grin. “I doubt many of them think that now.”
“Where are they actually winning, anyway?” Trevor asked.
“New England and the Mid-Atlantic, according to the message boards,” Seth said. “There’s still martial law there that’s being enforced. There’s some rebellion, but nothing on the scale we’re seeing here.”
“I expected martial law to be more successful here,” Garrett said. “The citizens of California have been surprising, and in a good way.”
“You got that right,” Sam said.
“What are we doing next?” Angel asked. “Are we gonna focus on fortification of this place, or are we gonna stage another attack?”
“Both,” Ji-Ho said, “but details still need to be worked out on next attack. There’s been movement.”
“I was just going to bring that up,” Garrett said. “I’m still seeing a flow of Islamists coming down from Julian.”
“Does it look like they’re coming here yet?” Angel asked.
“They haven’t gone south of Descanso yet,” Garrett said. “Some of them seem to be disappearing. Maybe they’ve built some underground facilities.”
“Or maybe they’re using something natural,” Sam said, “caves, like Saladin’s main forces are doing in Capitol Reef.”
“That may be diversion,” Ji-Ho said. “General Hogan working.”
Trevor’s face changed, and he brought his phone to his face, looking at the screen.
“What, man?” Seth asked.
“Maybe they figured out that we can see them,” Trevor said. “Actually, how could they not know? Think about it.”
“What made you bring up?” Ji-Ho asked, “and why you study apps?”
“I’m not studying the apps, I’m looking at the web, to see if there are any good-sized caves or mines around Descanso or Julian.”
“You don’t think they’re taking the chips out, do you?” Tyler asked.
“Dammit,” Sam said under his breath.
“Wait,” Sid said. “Think they could figure out a way to shield themselves?”
“What do you mean?” Sam asked.
“Say they could line their vans with something that would stop the signal of the RFID chips.”
“That good question,” Ji-Ho said.
“This reminds me of something we were talking about earlier,” Sam said. “Seth, think you could develop some metrics based on the RFID hits over time?”
“Yeah, we were talking about that when we were driving here,” Garrett said.
Seth thought about it for a moment. “Yeah, I could do that, but it would only show us data going forward. It’ll take a while for it to do us much good.”
“I like,” Ji-Ho said. “If they shield and move, we catch them with historic data. We see chips disappear and re-appear.”
“I’ll start working it tonight,” Seth said.
“You’ve had a long day,” Sam said. “Maybe you ought to start in the morning.”
“I’ve got ideas,” Seth said. “I won’t be able to sleep until I work them. You guys need me for anything? If not, I’m going back to my rig to get on the laptop.”
“Go ahead,” Ji-Ho said. “Figure out. Very important.”
“Yeah, dude, I’ll fill you in on what happened here,” Angel said.
Seth got up, nodded to the group, and left.
“Those apps are gonna go wide pretty soon no matter what, right?” Sam asked.
“Yes, will,” Ji-Ho said. “Soon.”
“Soon like tomorrow?” Garrett asked.
“Soon like this month,” Ji-Ho said.
“Geez,” Ryan said. “This isn’t great. We already know the UN is out there with no tracking devices, and now the Islamists might be able to hide themselves too? Didn’t we just say we were winning?”
“Yes, we still winning,” Ji-Ho said. “Enemy lost war for hearts and minds. No way to recover.”
“You don’t think we’re out of the woods yet, though, do you?” Sam asked, eyeing him.
“Bad problems in Arizona, Utah, Colorado. Texas have massive cleanup job, nearly million fighters there. New England and Mid Atlantic not liberated. All hard. Citizens key to win battle, but other danger.”
“What other danger?” Ed asked.
“Government at all levels infested. Elected and un-elected enemy actors. Chip app release with names get many. Others who not on insider level survive, make trouble. Deep State. Very bad.”
“I thought they were already targeting people using the name capability,” Sam said.
“Still be battle,” Ji-Ho said. “Hide, destroy documents, make up stories, kill witnesses. Turmoil on level never seen. Bumpy ride.”
“You guys aren’t getting hammered, are you?” Susanne asked in her raspy voice, coming into the saloon with Kaylee, Megan, Kaitlyn, Yvonne, and others. She turned to them. “See, told you they’d be in the saloon.”
Several of the women snickered.
“Looks like the party’s over,” Ed said, trying to keep a straight face.
“Hey, sis, come on over and have a drink,” Garrett said, holding up the bottle.
“Land sakes, you guys are drinking up the best stuff. We’re gonna run out soon.” She walked over and watched as Willard poured her one, drinking it down without a shudder. “Damn that’s good. You girls want some of this? Get it while it’s still here.”
“I’d rather just go back to our rig,” Kaitlyn said, looking around the room. “Hey, where’s Seth?”
“He’s on special assignment,” Angel quipped.
“Dangerous?” she asked.
“No, computer work,” Sam said. “Don’t worry.”
“I’m going over there, then,” Kaitlyn said, walking out the door.
“You coming?” Kaylee asked Trevor. He shook his head yes and joined her, the other men joining their women too.
“I tired, retire,” Ji-Ho said. “Don’t get discouraged. We win. Trust me.”
“I know,” Garrett said. Ji-Ho walked out the door.
“More old goats, just what we need,” Susanne muttered under her breath.
“C’mon, Sis, don’t you have a date with Elmer?” Garrett asked.
“That old fool,” she asked. “I kicked him to the curb again last night.”
“He wouldn’t leave me alone,” she said. “Thinks I’m scared or something.”
“That’ll last another twenty minutes,” Garrett cracked.
“Shut up,” she said, turning to leave. “Don’t stay up too late, and don’t drink up all of the good stuff.”
The remaining men watched her walk out. As soon as she was out of sight, Willard grinned.
“What now?” Garrett asked him. “I’ve seen that look before.”
“Found something when I was trying to rig up new lights in the mine,” he said.
“What’s that?” Sam asked.
He nodded to the back of the bar, and started walking in that direction, the others following. They went into the storage room, Willard unlocking a padlock on a door to the right. He pushed the door open and pulled the chain to turn the light on.
“Is that what I think it is?” Garrett asked, going inside to look at five wooden crates.
“It’s mostly not whiskey,” Willard said. “Brandy, gin, and rum.”
“This crate says whiskey,” Garrett said.
“Oh, yeah, there’s probably more whiskey than we had before, or pretty damn close,” Willard said. “Most of it’s still in the mine.”
“Damn, brother, how much did you find down there?” Garrett asked.
“Fifty-two cases like this, and some loose bottles,” he said. “Also some mixers and some champagne, but that’s all bad now.”
“Geez,” Sam said.
“Maybe we shouldn’t tell Susanne about it,” Willard said. “She’ll start rationing.”
“You tell Elmer yet?” Garrett asked.
“Yeah, he helped me carry it out here.”
Garrett shook his head. “She’ll know about it by morning.”
“I thought they broke up?” Ed asked.
Garrett chuckled. “Yeah, for the umpteenth time. They’ll wake up next to each other. Trust me.”
The door behind them opened. “Hey, what’s going on?”
“Hey, Elmer, just talking about you,” Willard said. “You still on the outs with Susanne?”
“No, but she thinks we are,” he said, grinning. “She wasn’t at her house a while ago. Seen her?”
“She left here five minutes ago,” Garrett said. “Willard just gave her a snort. You might want to go take advantage.”
“Okay, I’d best be going,” he said, turning towards the door.
“Elmer,” Willard called out.
“Yeah,” he said, turning back.
“You know all this booze probably got hid from somebody like Susanne, right?”
He snickered. “You always think I tell her everything. Good night.”
“She’ll know by morning,” Garrett said, big grin on his face.
“Yeah, you know it’s true,” Willard said.
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