Disclaimers1: Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renpic. And, this being an Uberish tale, the main characters will bear a physical resemblance to them, but thats as far as is goes. Oh, and two supporting characters will be named after them. But its meant strictly as a tribute; nothing more. J
Disclaimers 2: There will be a tiny bit of violence scattered through the story, including one piece dealing with domestic battering and attempted rape. Nothing really intense though. There will also be some swearing scattered throughout the story.
Disclaimers 3: This is an adult alternative romance, which means that there will be sex between two consenting adult females later on down the line. If this bothers you, or is illegal where you live, then please read no further. You have been warned!
Copyrights: All characters mentioned in this story belong to me. Please do not use them, or any portion of this story without talking to me first. The song "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart" belongs to MCA Nashville, Garth Fandis and Trisha Yearwood.
Thanks: I would like to offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to the bestest <g> beta reader a bard could ever ask for. Thank you, Maggie Sheridan. Without your skills, patience, gentle guidance
And boundless encouragement, this story would never have seen the light of day. JChapter Thirty
Megan had just finished pouring her coffee when the telltale crunch of tires on hard-packed snow caught her attention. Setting the carafe back on the warmer, she glanced at the clock. Hmm, that didn't take long, she mused as she padded toward the door to meet her friend.
Randi searched her pockets for her cellphone and pounded the steering wheel in frustration when she realized that she had left it on the charger. "Shit! I'm such an idiot!" she cursed loudly as she sped down the highway that suddenly seemed entirely too long. Movement at the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she noticed her two silent companions had moved up to the front and were anxiously focused on the road ahead. "You knew, didn't you? Once again, you knew," it was more a statement than a question. "That's why you started carrying on when that car passed us." Frustrated tears stung her eyes. "When am I gonna learn to listen to you? If anything happens to her…"
Megan flew to the front door, delighted to have her friend back to soon. "Getting fast in your old a ¾" The teasing observation died on her lips as she pulled the door open.
"Hi, sweetheart. Miss me?" Eric grinned in smug satisfaction at the look of utter terror written across the blonde's face.
"H…how?" was all that would struggle past her constricted throat.
"Funny that," he grinned rakishly. "It's amazing how much information can be gleaned from a single phone number. Of course," he added conceitedly, "it helps if you're friends with someone in law enforcement."
Megan's paralyzing fear was abruptly annihilated by white-hot anger at the thought of her life once again being screwed by the very people who were sworn to protect her. She barely registered the complete shock on Eric's face as she slammed the door shut.
Trembling fingers scrabbled for the deadbolt latch, touching on it a whisper too late as the door exploded inward, propelling her backwards to land in a disjointed heap halfway across the foyer. Panic-induced adrenaline surged through her veins as she scrambled to her feet and tried to run.
Eric's iron grip on her bicep neutralized that attempt, and he redirected her flight momentum to send her crashing into the attic stairwell. Pain erupted throughout the small body as this new violation heaped itself on top of still-healing injuries. Megan bit her lip as she attempted to rise again and failed miserably as Eric pounced on her, pinning her to the lower steps.
"Oh, you're not going anywhere, my pretty little bitch," he bit out as one hand attached itself to her exposed throat and squeezed. "Not until I'm finished with you. And when I am finished with you," he growled as his hand tightened on her throat, "you won't be going anywhere, anyway." Megan's desperate eyes darted to the door, hoping against hope that she would see her dark-haired savior lunging through it ¾ an action not unnoticed by Eric. "Your dimwitted doctor is in town," he gloated cheerfully. "I passed her on the way over here. By the time she gets back here, you'll be no good to anyone, and I'll be long gone." His face contorted into a malignant grimace. "You don't fuck me over and walk away, bitch," he seethed, squeezing her neck harder as he lifted his free hand and balled it into a fist.
Megan squirmed weakly in an attempt to break free, but with one arm trapped underneath her back and the other one pinned to her side by Eric's legs, it was ultimately a futile effort. Her thoughts shifted to Randi …
who would come home to a nightmare. Oh, Randi, I'm so sorry.
Black spots danced in front of her eyes, and an insistent thrumming filled her ears. She watched with fuzzy detachment as Eric's fist loomed above her.
Suddenly the fist, along with the body that held her down, was gone. A startled squawk met her ears, followed by a grunt as something (a body?) impacted explosively with a wall. Sucking in great lungfuls of sweet, precious air, Megan's eyes tracked to the sound …
and widened in utter astonishment at the vision before her.
Eric Chalmers' feet dangled helplessly above the floor, his entire body pinned to the wall and held in place with seeming effortlessness by a long, rigid arm. The hand of that arm was wrapped firmly around his throat.
The woman holding him there with a contemptuous ease was someone Megan was quite certain she had never seen before. Oh, she resembled Randi Oakes all right, but this woman standing before her now was something more ¾ something sharper and darker with an aura of edgy, deadly menace that scraped a long, pointy fingernail of chills down Megan's spine. The tall woman's lips were etched in a feral grimace that only served to enhance the sub-zero fire in her eyes.
Megan's vision blurred momentarily as an image of leather and brass burst across her consciousness like a camera flash.
And then it was gone.
What the hell…? Megan's eyes snapped shut as she tried to recapture the fleeting image, only to have them quickly re-opened by the sensually deadly tone of the other woman's voice.
Eric Chalmers came to the firm conclusion that sometimes life really sucked. One moment he was getting his sweet revenge and choking the little bitch senseless, and the next moment, he was flying backwards through the air and making hard, intimate contact with a wall. To make matters worse, he was now pinned to that wall by a very tall, very angry Amazon, whose arctic glare told him that he was a lump of coal.
And she was a blast furnace.
Some little voice in the back of his mind screamed at him to do something: resist, struggle, threaten, anything. The only problem, he reasoned, was that any or all of those options required the ability to breathe; something he was finding quite difficult to accomplish ¾ thanks to the large hand that was wrapped around his throat. And that damnable smile on her face… The one that begged him to put up a fight. The one that said she would destroy him utterly if he did. And that she would enjoy it…immensely. And then she spoke.
"Do you have any idea how little pressure it actually takes to crush a windpipe?" she purred, her voice a velvet razor that slid across his nerve endings.
He blinked at her, his response an unintelligible grunt.
"Would you like to find out?" The hand tightened just a bit.
This time he was able to cough out a raspy, "No…please."
And just like that, the hand on his throat was gone, and he dropped to the floor in a gasping, boneless heap.
"Then you'll sit there and not move," she rumbled. "And when the Sheriff comes, you will very quietly and very cooperatively get into his car and let him take you away from here." She dropped down on one knee and locked eyes with him. "And you will forget Megan Galagher ever existed. Because if you don't," a lightning-fast hand darted out and locked painfully on his jaw, "you'll be making a one-way trip back up this mountain. And my friends and I," she cast a glance at the two rigidly posed, snarling animals behind and beside her, "will make quite certain your body is never found. Ya got me?"
Eric shivered from the silky, venomous timbre in the woman's voice as she delivered her warning and, upon her mention, found his eyes tracking to her two "companions." Where the hell did they come from? One of them, a small, golden creature, hovered protectively in front of the writer. And the other, sleek, large and darkly beautiful, stood almost shoulder to shoulder with the raven-haired woman. Eric blanched as his gaze darted back and forth between two sets of menacingly blue eyes. Jesus Christ…their eyes…they're the same! his mind babbled disconcertedly. A quick, painful squeeze of his jaw brought his attention back to the woman as she repeated, "Got me?" He fixed wide, panicky eyes on hers and nodded as enthusiastically as her grip on his jaw would allow. No way, no how, do I ever wanna see you again, lady. He was pathetically pleased to see the stocky, somber man in the neatly pressed brown uniform place a gentle hand on the Amazon's shoulder and say, "We'll take care of him now, Randi."
At the soft touch and gentle assurance, all the air seemed to leave Randi's body, and she turned grateful eyes to the law officer standing above her. "Thanks, Dave," she sighed as she was finally able to turn her focus to her beloved writer whose watery green gaze begged for her nearness.
Randi crossed the room in less than a heartbeat, and in less time than that, found her arms filled with a shaking, sobbing blonde writer. She clung tightly to the distressed woman and nuzzled the fair hair while cooing soft, soothing reassurances in her ear. Randi took this small brief moment of down time to reflect on the last few minutes. That's really all it was, wasn't it? It all happened so fast.
And it was…surreal.
She barely remembered throwing the Jeep into park and leaping out of the vehicle ¾ barely recalled bounding up the stairs and being jolted to an abrupt stop in the shattered doorway by the sight of that bastard straddling her beloved and choking the life out of her.
She did remember though, the sensual chill of the red haze that swept across her senses and enveloped her soul. Everything after that played out like a very detailed, very interactive dream sequence as she watched and felt herself move into the house, grab Eric Chalmers by the back of his shirt and fling him across the room as if he were a rag doll. It never occurred to her to wonder how she could do that. Or how she could lift this man, who likely outweighed her by a good forty pounds, and hold him suspended off the floor with just one hand. Or why it felt so damn good to look into his eyes and see complete, mindless terror there. But none of that mattered at the time. All that did matter was the dark, heady power that sang through her veins and the primal, wolfish … something … that clawed at her belly and whispered in her head, He hurt her…and now it's his turn to hurt.
It would have been so easy to just … keep … squeezing. She wanted to. The Wolf certainly wanted her to. But his panicky, pathetic "No, please" struck a chord that neither she nor the Wolf could ignore. Megan wouldn't want that…and neither do I. So the Wolf heaved an aggrieved sigh, and Randi let drop her loathsome captive.
But we can still have some fun, the Wolf grinned … well, wolfishly. And so she did, keeping Eric Chalmers very intimidated until Sheriff Dave Burrows smooth intervention chased the Wolf back into her lair and allowed the gentle doctor to turn her attention to where it was needed.
God! What was that? I've never…I mean, I couldn't even bring myself to use a trap to get rid of that mouse that got in here last year. Since when did I become some dark and deadly 'terminator' type? She absently nuzzled the soft hair of the now-quiet blonde who clung tenaciously to her, and the answer knocked on her forehead. Since I fell in love, that's when. I may not be crazy about that part of me, but it's nice to know that I can protect her if she needs it, the brunette resolved with a sigh.
"Randi, are you okay?"
The blonde's concerned question roused the brunette from her troubled contemplation. "I'm fine, sweetheart." Randi caressed the tearstained cheek. "Are you all right?"
"I'm great…now," the blonde murmured, her verdant gaze comprised of lingering awe, sincere affection and something slightly more…intense. "You were," she paused, searching for the right words, "amazing." Megan cupped the doctor's hotly blushing cheek. "You are my hero. You know that, don't you?"
Randi's embarrassed protest was interrupted by a deep masculine voice. "Are you girls all right?"
Both women looked up at the approaching man-mountain the voice belonged to. "We're okay, Toby," the raven-haired woman responded.
The older man crouched down in front of them, his gray eyes focusing on the small blonde and narrowing angrily as he reached out and gently caressed the yellowing bruise around Megan's eye.
The young woman swallowed a sob at the unexpected tenderness from a man who barely knew her and had every reason to still dislike her for the pain she put his heart's daughter through. Leaning lightly into the touch, she brought her hand up and delicately covered his. "It'll heal," she murmured reassuringly.
"Of that, I have no doubt, young lady. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't still like a few moments alone with that young devil," he growled.
And he was rewarded with a grateful smile that was so innocent… and open…and affectionate, that it took his breath away. Aw, Katie, we've got another heart thief on our hands, love.
"Urhmm," he cleared his throat noisily, trying to regain the gruff composure that had melted under her green gaze. "The Sheriff's going to want to be talking to you two. So I'm gonna go rustle up a pot of coffee," he announced brusquely, rising to his full height and striding off to the kitchen.
Randi watched the big man's retreat for a moment before turning to the smaller woman who was clearly confused by his abrupt departure. "Is he okay?" Megan inquired timidly.
"Oh, he's fine," the doctor grinned. "He just gets a little flustered when adorable young writers bag big, tough ol' bears without even trying."
Emerald eyes blinked owlishly. "I didn't…don't be silly…he's probably just…I don't…" she sputtered.
"You'll see," the tall woman smirked as she rose to her feet and held out a hand for Megan. "Let's go talk to Dave and get this over with."
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