Love Scars: Bad Boy's Bride(10)

By: Nicole Snow

I hesitated. I wasn't cut out for tearing through miles of dense woods, especially at night. Apart from a few hikes in the rolling Appalachians during a rare vacation with my father, I'd never truly been in the wilderness. Neat, clean city conservatories and luxurious gardens were the closest I normally got to nature.

It's okay. You have to do this. You'll find your way. People have pushed through the wild during desperate times for thousands of years. You can too.

I never got a second chance to reassure myself. The black figure who grabbed me and shoved me to the ground was so quick that at first I thought it was David, ready to hurl me into shit so deep I'd never get out.

The man covered my mouth, choking off my scream.

No, this man was in a mask, and he had a partner with him. They were dressed like SWAT commandos. Armor and black camo lined everything up to the little slits where their eyes peered out, holding all the trademarks except the huge rifles I'd seen in movies.

“Quiet, Miss Rossini,” the man whispered. “We're here to extract you at your father's orders.”

“Come with us,” the second man said, extending a hand. “All this will be over in no time.”

As he pulled me up, I looked at the darkening sky, then back at the sun setting over the huge estate.

Relief flooded my heart, mingling with a new unease.

Could it really be this easy? I didn't want to believe it.

The commandos led me deep into the forest. They were frustrated at how slow I was going, stopping to climb carefully over every gnarled branch and muddy stream. I wasn't dressed for this crap at all.

I could've sworn they were impatient, like they had a schedule to keep, but I kept thinking it had to do with wanting to get me out ASAP.

Later, they stopped in a small clearing so I could catch up. New moonlight beamed down between the trees, painting everything in an otherworldly chalk glow.

They were huddled together when I finally approached, just a few more feet to go.

“This is a good spot,” I heard the tall one say to his shorter partner. “GPS says we're in the densest part. No homes or streets for miles. Nobody around.”

“Hey, guys?” They looked up when I shouted. “I don't need a break. We can keep moving if you think that's wise. I'm slow, but I'm not tired.”

Whatever. They didn't need to know how exhausted I really was.

I just wanted to get the hell out of this place and forget all about the monster named David. It also amazed me that for the first time in my life, Dad had changed his mind. He hadn't thrown me to the big bad wolf for good.

I shouldn't have doubted him. Of course he'd come for me, and he had. The wolf had bitten me, yes, but he wouldn't let it swallow me up whole.

“You'll be home and free before you know it, Miss Rossini. Now, if you'll just step back for a moment...”

Behind the calm voiced commando, the squatter man was toying with something in his hands. I leaned forward and felt my blood chill when I saw it was a gun. He was screwing something onto the tip, a long black tube.

It must've been a silencer. Wasn't sure why I remembered that from the silly spy movies I reviewed for the High School paper. When I did, my heart stopped, and the world took on a surreal glow.

“What's going on, guys?” I whispered, folding my arms to protect against the sudden cold. “Are we in danger?”

Neither man answered me. Tall man narrowed his eyes until they were just tiny slits in his face mask. He stepped forward, took me by the shoulders, and began to drag me back through the dirt.

Shit! I couldn't have been more wrong. These men weren't sent to save me from the wolf – they were the beasts, the monsters, the things in the dark that wanted me dead.

I screamed and beat against his shoulders, hurting my fists on his hard armor.

“Get her against the tree!” Short man yelled. “This needs to look like an accident. Whole mission's fucked if Strelkov gets a whiff anybody else was out here...”

It wasn't the bone grinding pain flaring in my knuckles that caused me to stop punching him, or the totally hopeless chance at cracking through his armor like brittle shell. I stopped because I was whirling with confusion, sadness, betrayal.

This had to be a mistake. It had to be!

Why would my own father kill me?

“That's good,” Short man grunted. “Give me a clear shot on my mark. Don't want any do overs. You can let her go. Don't mind if she gets away and trips. Maybe that would be more natural.”

“Ah, fuck it,” Tall man said, holding me indifferently. “Let's just get this over with here. Can't stand this bitch's crying. You ready?”

“Yeah...” The other man cleared his throat. “Ready on three. One...two...”

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