These are short stories shared without any real editing. Just...freebies.
On the Other Side
On the Other Side
Katheryn Sinclair had spent the last fifteen minutes frantically looking for an escape route and knew there was absolutely no way she was going to make it out alive. The building was quickly succumbing to the hungry flames devouring everything around her. It wasn't going to last much longer, and she could only hope she would die from the smoke before the flames got to her as well.
If there was one thing Ryn Sinclair was, it was lucky, and she'd made her name with luck and tenacity. For the past five years she'd been blowing the lid off of high profile coverups and making a name for herself. It turned out that wasn't necessarily a good thing. Bad guys don't like people knowing their dirty deeds, and good guys are far and few between.
A month ago she'd uncovered a dirty little secret that had the local community, as well as the state government in an uproar. Governor hopeful, Ryan Gonzales wasn't as squeaky clean as he'd lead his constituents to believe. In fact, he was lower than pond scum, and it had been her investigation that had knocked him out of the running and had him hiding out.
When she'd started getting threats a week ago, her best friend, Ares, had taken it upon himself to protect her. He'd locked her down in his secure building, guarded by armed mercenaries, and told her not to move a muscle. She'd been stuck pacing the floors of the building on Maddsion, while Gonzales was out running free.
There was a story to write, and pictures she needed to get. Staying locked up was not going to get those things done. When Ares had been called to Washington D.C. to deal with an emergency at the office there, she decided to take her chances with Gonzales. Unfortunately, that decision was proving to be her downfall. Her luck had finally run out, and Gonzales was going to be the last person she saw.
She'd left the safety of AlphaForce, an agency of highly trained mercenaries, in the wee hours of the morning and driven six hours to a small town in the middle of nowhere, California. From the information she'd been able to gather, Gonzales was hiding out in a little bum fuck town not even on a map, and she needed to get the money shot confirming he was a vile monster. Not only was he a serial arsonist, but a pedophile. She intended to prove it. So, she snuck past the muscle bound men on duty and escaped out the door.
Maxine, the cross dressing entrepreneur she'd met a year before while working on an exposé, had left a car two blocks over, and she hopped in with a last look over her shoulder. She'd left all her tracking devices in the building, so she really wasn't worried her security detail would notice she was missing. After all, the building was more secure than the Pentagon, and patrolled like clockwork by men who had seen and done it all. Why would they feel the need to check on her?
Eight hours later, she wished she'd just stayed at AlphaForce. When she thought about how she would someday die, this wasn't even a glimmer on her radar. She figured she'd get shot, or maybe hit by a car. She never thought that she would be beaten, chained to a large pipe and left to die in a roaring blaze of fire.
Gonzales had done a number on her. Though, truth be known, the beating, and the leaving her to die wasn't really the worst part of his torture. No, it was the fact he'd left her arms free and her cell phone firmly in her hand so she could call her loved ones and say goodbye.
It was oddly similar to the first time she'd called Ares; though that time her likelihood of dying was very slim. Getting locked in a porta-potty might have been embarrassing, but it wasn't life threatening.
She'd already known the fire trucks weren't going to get there in time, even though she'd called 911 as soon as Gonzales had walked out the door. The dispatcher told her their ETA was thirty minutes. There was no way she had thirty minutes. She didn't have fifteen minutes. There was no point calling anyone else. What would she say to them? Would she really want her family to know about how she died? There was nothing they could do to save her. No.
Okay, Sinclair, you're doing good, the tears aren't here yet. You can hold them off a little longer. Call him.
Fumbling with the phone, she hit speed dial one and took a deep breath as it started to ring.
“Hey.” His deep voice caressed her like velvet, and she felt her heart catch.
“Hey, back,” she said, trying to sound like nothing was wrong.
“You okay?” She heard him walking away from the voices in the background.
“Not exactly, but that's not really important right now.” She took a deep breath to try and hold back the tears pricking her eyes. “I need to tell you something, and I want you to listen, because there isn't much time. It's really important, Ares.”
He could tell something wasn't right, and his stomach clinched into a hard knot. “Okay.”
“You're the best friend I've ever had, and no matter what, I need you to know that. I need you to know that you're the only man I've ever truly loved; and that I am totally irrevocably in love with you.” The fire was burning hotter, and the sound of wood crashing around her was getting louder as the flames drew closer. She only hoped he wouldn't hear it too. “The last few years have been some of the best in my life. You've helped me grow, and become stronger than I ever thought possible. I only wish I'd been honest with you, and I wish I'd listened to you too, because now it doesn't matter.”
Ares heard loud popping sounds in the background. His body tensed. “Ryn, what's going on? Where are you?” Worry coated his voice like a skin.
She forced a laugh laced with the tears silently trailing down her cheeks. “You're supposed to be listening, Ares.”
“I'm listening, Ryn.” Something was definitely not right. He sent a text to his right hand man, Mac, who manned the office in Nevada: Where is Katheryn?
“Ares, I want you to know, that none of this is your fault, and it was totally mine.” Just then Mac responded via text: Gone. Her trackers are all here.
“Tell me where you are, the guys are on their way.”
A sob escaped her mouth and she bit her lip. “California.”
His heart skipped, and for the first time in his life he saw black dots in front of his eyes. “California?” His voice was hoarse with emotion he didn't know he had. It cracked with bone deep fear. She went hundreds of miles away without the guys? What was she thinking? It wasn't important, they'd get to her. They always did.
“Yeah, but don't bother rushing the guys. They won't make it in time. In fact, no one will.” She was impressed she was able to sound so nonchalant when all she wanted to do was scream and cry.
“Talk to me. What's happening?” He was scared. Terrified about what was going on. Every nerve in his body was screaming. The need to get to California as quickly as possible was smothering. He was standing in the control room at AlphaForce, D.C., surrounded by mercenaries, and the room was totally quiet. Every eye was on him. Worried.
“Gonzales beat me, and chained me up in an old warehouse in the middle of this town that doesn't really have a name; but the locals call it Silence. Well, what locals there are,” she added. The crackling and popping had reached a deafening level, and the heat was drying the tears on her face as soon as they spilled over.
“Look, Ares... I've got to go. I don't want you to be on the phone when....” She couldn't say it. She didn't want him to think about how she'd died. She started again, “Do me a favor. Tell my family I love them, and tell the guys I'm sorry. They were the brothers I never had.”
“You tell them,” Ares said, his voice choking. “Tell them when they get there.”
“I won't be able to.”
“Why?” His voice was quiet, heartbreaking.
As much as she didn't want to tell him, she needed him to understand. “Ares, Gonzales set the building on fire and it's getting closer. I'm already having a hard time breathing, and the fire trucks aren't going to be here in time.”
“No.” It was as much a command as a plea. “No, Ryn. Don't you dare give up.”
“It hurts, and I don't want you to hear me scream.” She gulped in air, and started coughing, the smoke burning her lungs. “Don't hate... me. Don't... hate... the guys.” It was a struggle to get the words past her cracked lips. “Live... Be happy... have a family....Do it for me....please.”
“I'm not leaving you.” Tears were freely running down his chiseled face. A face fitting of a fallen angel. He was losing her. The light in his otherwise dark world was going to be extinguished, and she was worried about him. He'd spent years pushing her away, not allowing her to get close because his past was dark and deadly. He lied to himself, and to her, explaining that it was too dangerous. In reality, he was too scared she'd rip his heart out and tap dance on it in her sexy high heeled boots. Now it was going to be too late.
The pain was too intense for words, and he was sure he was dying. “Ryn, no. Please don't go.” He cleared his throat, forcing his voice to be stronger than it was. “I love you, and I'm sorry I kept pushing you away.” The men around him were in shock. They'd never seen Ares cry, let alone beg. He'd always been their unflappable leader, a man without emotions. His name was like a curse, and a threat people in the military spoke in hushed tones. Jonathon 'Ares' Savage had earned his name with death and destruction; everyone knew it.
“I think... I always... knew.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. “Just too scared.... admit... it. I'm always... with you....” She was silent, and the quiet was deafening. Ares heard her struggling for each breath she took; felt her fear. It was too late, and there was nothing he could do. The roar of the flames was so loud it sounded like a freight train.
“I love you, Jonathon. I'll be waiting for you....on the other side. Not soon..though. We'll be together... someday. Oh, God!” The words tore from her; a terrified cry. “Jonathon!” The line went dead.
Dammit, No!” Back at AlphaForce in D.C., Ares frantically pressed speed dial one on his phone.
You've reached Ryn, leave a message.
“No, no, no...nonononono...Ryn, no, please God, no.” He wasn't even aware his employees had gathered closely around him.
“Boss? Man, what's happened?” One of the D.C men asked. Something had obviously gone terribly wrong. Their boss never showed emotion. In fact, most of them thought he wasn't even human, but a machine that walked through life without the hassle of feelings. However, none of them had ever had the chance to meet Katheryn Sinclair. They'd heard stories about her from the guys in Nevada, but had never experienced her vitality. To the AlphaForce office in D.C., Ryn Sinclair, and her effect on the boss had been an urban legend.
The only answer they received was a roar, like an animal in pain. Their boss threw his cell phone against the wall, shattering it into a million pieces. He sank to the floor, his back against the wall, and dropped his head into his hands, silent, and unmoving.
Four hours later, Mac, Shaun, and Kevin, the three men closest to Ares, walked onto the eighth floor of AlphaForce, D.C. Their faces betrayed none of the heartbreak they felt. The light in their lives had flickered out that day, but they couldn't mourn yet. They had to take care of the man who'd loved Katheryn Sinclair more than life itself. A call had been made to Ares's inner circle by one of the D.C. guys after Ares had thrown his phone. None of them felt qualified to get through to the man who had founded the company they worked for. They had called in the reinforcements, and left him alone with his grief.
The floor was completely silent. They approached their silent boss, friend, and brother. His eyes were red rimmed, and cold as ice when he looked up. He snarled, “Find Gonzales. Now!” For four days AlphaForce worked round the clock to locate the man responsible for Katheryn Sinclair's death. When he was found, Mac, Shaun, and Kevin, joined Ares in his extraction of Justice.
Gonzales paid dearly for Ryn's life. Before they were through with him he was begging for his death, and Ares was more than willing to send him to Hell. Slowly, and painfully. He'd gotten his pound of flesh. Literally. Even though it wouldn't bring Ryn back, he knew he'd done everything he could for her. When the abandoned warehouse caught on fire, they listened to him scream; let him burn the same way he'd let her.
They never looked back.
Eighteen years later, bullets tore through Ares and he knew it was over. The take down had gotten seriously FUBAR'ed, and had turned into an all out gun fight. Blood was pumping out of his body each time his heart beat. The knowledge he wouldn't have to wait any longer, calmed him.
The last seventeen years had been full of blessings. He'd met a nice woman with a safe job; married her, and had children. Their oldest, a daughter, named Katheryn Renee, had just graduated. Their youngest, a son, and his name sake, was entering high school. His family would be taken care of when he was gone, and he barely spared them a thought. Everything he'd been waiting for was finally happening. It was his time now.
He'd done everything Ryn had asked of him that fateful day.
Now as his blood poured onto the ground, he felt solid arms wrap around him. He caught the look on Mac's face. “It's time, man.”
The large black man, his face grim was one of his best friends. He'd stood beside Ares at the altar the day he kept his first promise to Ryn. Even then he'd known the day was happening only because of her. His friend had been happy, and there had been fondness—nothing more. Mac knew, that true love only happened once in a life time. Katheryn Sinclair had been Ares's soul. There was no time for sorrow now, it was definitely time.
“I know, Boss. She's waiting for you.”
“Yeah, she is. I see her.” Ares lifted his hand as if he were reaching for her. A smile crossed his face as his eyes grew hazy. “She's beautiful.”
“Give her our love, and tell her we'll be there soon. We're just waiting for our tickets to come through.”
“Don't start the party without us. You know Shaun will never forgive you if you do.”
Mac held his friend, one of the strongest men he'd ever known and let the tears come as Ares whisper with his final breath, “Ryn, I've missed you.”
It was exactly eighteen years to the day, since the light in their lives had gone out, their world had gotten darker. “We'll be there soon, guys. We'll be there soon.” He picked up his friend's body and went in search of Shaun and Kevin.