Friends First

Yes, there were many things on her mind. Ronna’s daily planner chronicled her life over the past two months. Holding it between both hands, she dragged a thumb over each event as vivid scenes played restlessly before her mind’s eye.

     Danny died of a heart attack. He never seemed to be able to control his temper. He would storm through the house screaming about this thing or the other – and blaming everything negative in his life on her “incompetence”. His best friend spread the rumor that he was cheating on Ronna since she called him a few times inquiring of Danny’s whereabouts. His dead-end home business was temporarily shut down because she did not have enough money to pay the electric bill in full; it was disconnected for two days. He remained hungry one night because of the leftovers she served. The last time they argued about nothing, he followed her from room to room taunting her with his bellows until something cut off his voice; he staggered, toppled over onto the floor and was gone. That was the last time he screamed at her about her “incompetence”.

An index finger slid to the next event. Ahh…the Mifeprex and Misoprostol days…she took those to get rid of their pregnancy. There was no way in the world, she was going to struggle to raise a child on her own or repeat the pain and suffering of that hospital incident a year ago. She fell into a blank stare.

In a hospital full of interns and residents, her hand ached and was on the verge of falling asleep from the I.V. that was taped to it. Her arm was a pin cushion for the rough nurse, lacking a bedside manner who could not find a vein. She gritted her teeth, reeling her head when the prickly pain struck her back again. A constant fluctuating movement, at five minute intervals, temporarily paralyzed her every time. She did not want the epidural – her mom had frightened her with stories of women of the 60’s and 70’s who came out of the epidural stupor paralyzed from the waist down. When the pain finally ceased, she hung her head, panting for breath.

       A smug intern with a scruffy beard walked in when the others left.

     “Time for another check-up,” He announced as he prepared.

     Small, sharp pains began to pinch the circumference of her belly. Another one was about to hit. She grabbed the bedrails and looked to the ceiling with gnashing teeth to endure what was about to attack her spine when the intern’s fist, simultaneously rammed into her vagina. She flinched violently, releasing a small cry but he thrust again and again, trying to insert monitors. Amidst the pain and chaos of a teaching hospital, she just endured.

     The intern withdrew the monitors and walked out of the room without a second look at her. Little did he know, he had just made a woman in labor feel violated – raped by his lack of sympathy. She attempted to call for a nurse in blubbering spurts to no avail. Moments later, the team rushed into the room checking their computers.

     “The baby’s traumatized!” Someone announced.

     “Did you fall sometime throughout your pregnancy?” Another asked. Ronna only shook her head no, trying to hold back the tears.

     “All right, we need you to turn over and get on all fours.”

     “Her blood pressure’s rising.” Someone said.

     Muddled by the confinement of wires, Ronna silently searched in tears for how she was to do this. One of the nurses helped her up and over. Danny was running late. Feeling shaky, Ronna did not know if she was in an unstable bed or if she was experiencing weakness in her limbs. She held the position in tears until someone announced that the baby seemed to be fine. At the doctor’s directions, the same nurse helped Ronna to lie back down.

     “It’s time Mom!” The doctor announced. Her feet were placed in stirrups and moments after a brief preparation, Ronna was instructed to push. The baby came right away – a boy – who was not breathing.

     “There’s feces in the sack!” Someone yelled.

     “That’s caused by trauma.” Another doctor looked at Ronna. “Did you ever fall?”

     “No!” She managed to yell.

     Some kind of plug was placed on his head with monitors all over and he was delivered to pediatrics. The doctor received the painful afterbirth that Ronna expelled and swabbed her groin in padded wraps.

     “We can’t stop the bleeding!”

     Still holding the planner on the side of her bed, Ronna’s trance-like stare was not yet broken. There was one more memory.

He never did take his first breath – We never took him home.

I.

(Six Years Later)

     Seventh period finally ended. Ronna opened the classroom door and leaned against it. She always maintained the appearance that she’d been some place but lacked the freshness of going. She glanced at the herd that rushed through the halls. She slowly turned her head to her own group of students who sat impatiently, waiting. Her eyes rolled above their heads, noticing the blackened day beyond the windows. Large droplets of water splattering the panes gradually began to cover the sheets of glass.

“C’mon Ms. Randall, we cleaned up…” One student protested.

And another chimed in. “Yeah, let us go!”

Ronna took a deep breath, leaning off the door and exhaled simultaneously as she spoke.

“All right…you’re dismissed.”

The group bolted from their seats with their loud chattering and banter. Some individually and others coupled, began to brush past her to escape the classroom. Ronna just stood there, staring at them.

One sassy squirt stopped, stroking her hair with a comb. “You got some pretty hair, Ms. Randall.”

Ronna partially cut her eyes at the student. “Thank you.”

“Can I…” She raised the comb to the side of Ronna’s head. “Jus’ a little bit,”

“Don’t touch my hair.”

The student challenged her glare. In a moment’s notice, the comb touched a portion of Ronna’s pressed hairdo just as she ducked and blocked with her forearm. The sassy squirt sent a whiplashing, flailing strike at Ronna who grabbed it and yanked the student around, into a locked, hold.

“Calm down!” She commanded.

“Let me go!” The student wriggled violently. “Let me go!”

“Calm down!”

“I’ll get her, Ms. Randall.” Assistance arrived from the neighboring classroom. “It’s my conference period – I’ll take her to the office.”

“Thanks Mr. Brooks.”

“Ooh Ms. Randall,” One of the gawking teens commented. “You a bad ass, huh – but choo better watch out – ‘cause she ain’t gonna let that slide.”

Ronna took a deep breath and released it slowly as she walked to her desk to quickly write the referral – she could not wait to leave.

***

     Crossing the exit sign and depressing the steel bar across the heavy glass door was like breaking free of shackles. Seeming to drink it all in, Ronna looked up at the black thunderheads hanging over her and relished the cool raindrops splashing her face. She silently vowed to have a wonderfully cozy evening after such an awful day at work.

Only two more days and the weekend! She thought.

Although urgency pushed her to leave the school, she knew she had to be careful on the slippery streets in the fresh rain. Her black, Ford Escape, a sight to see after a long trying day, was just a few yards away.

The palm trees dancing a wild number were as tall as the building of Santa Monica condominiums that sat against the beach. Thick, dark clouds appeared to reach down and touch the waves. Rumbling thunder was a cougar overhead, chasing a rushing Ronna to the double doors. Finally inside, and on the top floor, she turned the key in the lock and pushed the door open into the welcoming aroma of fresh onions and garlic salsa. She craned her neck around the door as she jiggled the key to free it from the lock.

“Wassup, Ronnie Ron?” A course voice bellowed from the kitchen.

“Hey, hey Johnny John!” She countered.

“Get in here, girl – you’re late!”

“I know, I’m sorry…I’ve been so tired…I forgot the manuscript and went home after work to get it…” She rubbed her forehead walking to the bar counter. “While I was there, I showered the grit of my rotten day away and got into some comfy clothes.” She briefly spread her arms and let them drop to her sides.

“You could have showered here.” He shrugged.

“I know.” She smiled. “But don’t forget I had to get the manuscript.”

He met her at the counter with a cooking spoon. “Here…” He blew it, tested the temperature on his bottom lip and held it to her mouth, cupping her chin. “Taste this.”

“Mmm, that’s really good.”

He nodded. “Uh – huh…”

“What is it?”

“Tortilla soup – perfect for the stormy evening, right?”

“Totally…”

“You better not have eaten already…”

She shook her head. “No. But here’s the manuscript.” She retrieved it from her bag. “Oh Jonathan, guess who I ran into the other day.”

“Who?” The spoon went back into the pot, he stirred and returned to her, pouring a glass of wine and handed it to her.

“Damion,”

“You and this manuscript…” He mumbled. “What about Damion?”

She sipped the wine. “He said people are starting to talk, the way we’ve been hanging out with each other.

“What people?” He frowned. “We don’t know anybody…and they’re just starting to talk after six years? Besides, that’s not surprising,” He shrugged. “You know I love you.” Ronna smiled. “Remember…” He pointed at her with his own glass in hand. “I kissed you in your backyard, behind your mom’s car, I bumped my pelvis against yours and you bumped back? A deep throated laugh rumbled within him.

With widening eyes, Ronna sucked in air through her teeth. “Yeah…we were what? Eight and ten?”

“Uh – huh…” He enclosed a hand over his mouth, wiping speckled bits of splashed wine from his mustache.

She handed him the manuscript.

“I don’t…” He took it, putting his glass down. “…have a pen…” He placed the manuscript next to his glass, looked around then finally, softly pulled her from her stool.

“What are you doing?” She frowned at him.

“If I know you…” His voice trailed off as he took her by the hips and turned her around so that her back faced him. “Yep, just as I thought,”

“What?”

“Girl, you always have a pen in your back pocket!”

“Well yeah, just in case I…”

Jonathan began to laugh then cleared his throat. “I’m sorry.” He smiled. “You were saying…”

All her weight on one side, she stared at him with her hands on her hips. “…Just in case I forget to put one or two in my bag!”

“Ron,” He hung his arms loosely then held up the pen. “This is a brass fountain pen, girl! You’re lucky you didn’t stab yourself!”

Ronna sucked her teeth and sighed. “It has a top on it.”

“What woman you know…” He began chuckling again. “…keeps a pen in her back pocket?”

“And you just picked that out of my pocket! What man you know, goes picking off women?”

“A pick-pocket…”

She hung her head joining him in snickers. “Well how would you like it if I picked something off your locks or something?”

“If it’s foreign pick away.”

“Oh hush,”

He raised his eyebrows. “Hey, I’m just sayin’…”

“Sayin’ what?” She demanded playfully.

Ignoring the question, he looked at the manuscript with the pen in hand. “Hey, did you include all your additions?”

Ronna entered the kitchen for a bowl. “I have a few more to write in.”

“Good ‘cause I don’t have my inserts yet – do you mind if we table this a little while?”

“Not at all…”

He eyed her spooning soup into her bowl. “You have the right idea. Let’s eat.”

“That’s what I was thinking.” She sat her bowl on the counter to kick off her shoes, wanting to sit criss cross applesauce comfortably. She gathered a handful of chips and carried her meal and glass of wine to the crackling fire. Jonathan joined her.

She used a large chip to scoop soup into her mouth. “This is really good, John.”

“Thank you,”

The rain was a pebble storm on the elegant high-rise. Ronna’s gaze upon the flames indicated a sense of disorientation as she clung to her bowl.

Jonathan cleared his throat. “What’s wrong?” He dabbed his mouth with a napkin and stroked his goatee twice.

She gave a rueful smile and shrugged. “This is very comforting.”

“Mm-Hm…so what’s wrong?”

She shook her head. “I’m tired.”

He glared at her as if to watch her over a pair of glasses. “How was work today?”

“Rotten,” She finished the remains of her soup and got up to put the bowl into the sink. “How was work for you?”

“Fine…You remember, my mom was a teacher…” Jonathan started.

“Yeah,” Ronna proceeded to the couch and plopped on it.

“She wrestled with the brats too – twenty years. I remember once…”

Ronna leaned forward, resting her elbows on her lap and Jonathan’s voice faded out of consciousness as her head sank between her palms. Her eyes appeared to fill up with pink water.

Jonathan noticed her slump and stopped telling his story. “Ron?”

There was no answer and he approached her. “Ronna!” He tapped her arm.

Immediately she stood and turned away from him to wipe her tears. She went for the door. “I have to go!”

“Why?”

“Where’s my purse?” She left the door, frantically searching the living room – she eyed the couch, stumbled back to the fireplace and back to the couch again.

“Ron!” She snapped out of her disturbed world and looked at him. Jonathan pointed. “Your purse is on the stool at the bar counter.”

Just as she passed him, he grabbed her free hand, pulled her into himself and held her. “What’s wrong?” He demanded. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “C’mon now…after six years of spending all of our free time together, you can’t fool me, Ron.

She opened her eyes and listened.

“I know something’s wrong.” He kept his arms around her. “Do you remember when we saw each other in the coffee shop? We recognized each other right off although we hadn’t seen each other since our teen years. But even then I knew something was wrong.”

She held his gaze. “Soul mates…made for and understand each other huh?”

“That’s right. And that’s when you told me your husband had died. Since our reunion I guess I always knew you were going through hard times…I guess I overlooked it because you always smiled with me. I’m sorry.”

“Jonathan…I’m just so very tired of everything…work and debt and…” She took a deep breath and released it on the next three syllables. “I dunno. I have to go.” He was so warm; she reluctantly pulled away from him and opened the door.

Quickly following behind, he reached over her and quickly pushed it shut. “No, not tonight,” She turned to face him. They both leaned on the door. “It’s storming and you’re dead tired and mildly incoherent – if I let you go and something happened to you out there, I wouldn’t handle that very well.” Sincerity was thick in the air. “Okay?” He was nodding at her. His eyes seeming to look through her. “You know what I mean?”

“Jonathan, you’re always on the run and I have to get up early in the morning.”

“Take off.”

“I can’t…I…”

“In fact, take off the next two days…get some real rest.”

“I can’t just take off – I have bills to pay.”

“Who doesn’t? I gotchoo,” She only looked at him. “You know I gotchoo.” He reached down and took her hand into his.

Ronna shook her head. “I can’t let you do that.”

“Take off.” He extended an arm across her and locked the door and gestured with his head toward the inside of the condo. “C’mon – we’ll find a movie to fall asleep on.” He began to lead her by the hand but she remained stuck to the door. He tugged on her arm a little. “C’mon…”

Halfway across the room, Ronna started again. “Jonathan,” She sighed. “I really should make that money – there are extra things I need to take care of this month.”

“You’re not leaving tonight.” He stopped walking and turned to shake his head in her face.

She sighed, shaking an index finger at him. “You know, that statement coupled with you shoving the door closed and locking it makes you look like a rapist.”

Jonathan smiled. “Well we can’t have that, can we? Let’s change the tempo a bit shall we?” He moved behind her, grabbing her shoulders, guiding her up two steps into his bedroom. The bedroom set was just opposite the opening. “You need extra money? Use what’s in the top, left drawer.” He pointed at the dresser. She approached and opened it. She raised her eyebrows at the large bills clumped in a corner of the drawer. “I like keeping cash on hand to avoid relying so much on plastic, you know? Man-made machines break down all the time and I don’t want to be stuck unable  to pay for…whatever.” Ronna nodded. The king sized bed dressed in blue was in the middle of the room and a large screen T.V. sat in a corner. A computer on a small desk stood against a wall at the foot of the bed. Jonathan pulled out his desk chair and sat. “You can pay your bills tomorrow if you want.”

Again, Ronna shook her head. “I haven’t been paid yet.”

“Are you listening to anything I’m saying? I said I gotchoo.” He leaned his head to one side and Ronna faced him. “Come over here.” She started toward him. “As organized as you are, I’ll bet you have company names, account numbers and balances on you right now in some little black book…or notepad rather.” Ronna took a deep breath leaning all her weight on one side with a hand on her hip. Jonathan extended an open palm. “C’mon, give it up.”

She reached into her purse, took out the small yellow memo pad and gave it to him. “What are you doing?”

“Are you set up for automatic withdrawal for all your bills? Rent? Car note?”

“No.”

“You are now.”

“What? John, no, you can’t add your bank information to my bills!” She reached for the memo pad when he snatched it away.

“Why not? It’s the least I can do for my wife, right?”

“Wife?”

“Of course,” He took her by the hips and guided her into his lap. With one arm around her, he retrieved a black velvet box from a desk drawer and handed it to her. “You accept right?” Ronna gasped. “You know I love you – we kissed when we were playing on the floor in front of your closet doors one day. You remember that?”

“We were ten and twelve by then, right?”

“Hell no, I was babysitting myself at twelve.” Ronna smiled. “We were still eight and ten.” Jonathan tapped a few keys on the keyboard. Ronna slipped the diamond band onto her finger, admiring it as Jonathan worked for another fifteen minutes before he clicked the shut down icon.

“When did you get this?” She was still looking at the ring.

“…A while ago…just waiting for the right time to give it to you.”

“What makes this the right time?”

“…Well, because my soul mate seems to be in dire need of a little more security than she’s had.” He caressed a side of her face looking through her deep, brown eyes. “…And I’m stepping up to give it to her.” The crackling of the fire seemed to grow louder as they held each other’s gaze. There was the sound of thunder in the distance. A few moments passed and he stood her up, off of his lap to pull the covers back on one side of the bed.

He eyed Ronna. “It’s good you’re wearing those sweats – the material is soft like pajamas. If you have on a T-shirt underneath, you should take off the sweat top so you don’t get too hot. Ronna pulled off the top, revealing a white T-shirt. “Come on Ron…get in.” Dropping her purse to the floor, she was obedient and he tucked her in. Jonathan moved around the bed and switched off the light. He climbed on top the covers next to her and put an arm around her, hugging her closely. She burrowed as deeply into him as she could (being under the covers and he was not), relishing the feeling of leaning on her own human heating pad to soothe all discomforts and pains.

“So what did happen today?” He stroked her hair.

Ronna inhaled. “One of those brats you were talking about earlier insisted on combing my hair after I told her not to touch it. When I blocked the arm with the comb, she swung the other,” Ronna yawned. “Excuse me…and I got her in a locked hold.”

Jonathan chuckled deeply. “Nice,” He squeezed her closer. I don’t want you to worry about anything else tonight, okay? – the work day is over.” He took the remote from the night stand, kissed her temple and began searching for movies. They settled on one that lulled them to sleep in twenty minutes due to its slow movement.

***

     Jonathan opened his eyes to the rolling credits – His arm still protecting Ronna. He smiled at her, snuggled against him and resting peacefully. The breaking logs under fire were loud – he’d forgotten to put it out. The ringing phone startled him and he moved carefully not to wake Ronna but quickly to answer it. He snatched it from the desk and took it into the living room. “Hays,” He answered.

“Mr. Hays, this is Tim Mills,”

Mills…it’s MIDNIGHT…”

“It’s imperative that we talk – down on the beach near the Ocean Park Boulevard parking lot.”

Jonathan frowned. “Why would the boss’s secretary need to speak with me in private?”

“Can you get here in thirty minutes?”

“I think I can manage.”

He returned to the bedroom and stared down at Ronna. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and at the corner of her mouth. He wrote her a note and left it on the bed.

It was the best rain Santa Monica had seen in a while. It continued to fall generously as Jonathan drove out of the parking structure. A few minutes on the road led him to the lot on Ocean Parkway Boulevard. It was after hours so there was no parking attendant to collect seven dollars. A fog rolling in off the ocean clouded his view in addition to the rain. He crept into a slot and turned the engine off.

I just know he couldn’t have meant that he wanted us to go sloshing in the muddy sand to meet. Jonathan thought.

He took a deep breath and opened the door. The sound of rushing waves crashing at the shoreline and the distant sound of the water receding met his ears. He grabbed his umbrella and leaned out of the driver’s seat. The moment he stood, squinting at his surroundings in darkness, a pair of bright headlights met him. They came from a vehicle across the aisle, opposite from him. He took two steps into the light and stopped when two other pairs of headlights shined from both ends of the aisle. He heard a car door shut. Someone was walking toward him. Just as the person entered the three-way stream of light, Jonathan’s eyes widened at the face he saw and bound hands.

“Mills?”

“I’m sorry,” He murmured. His pitiful face turned pasty in the illumination.

“Attorney at law Jonathan Hays!” A nasal toned voice yelled from behind the lights. Jonathan squinted again. “We have business to conduct!”

“What business and who are you?”

The stranger walked into the light with out stretched arms. “Let’s just say I’m a friend of the family…now let’s talk business.”

“What family? I don’t have any and what business?” Jonathan demanded again.

He looked like an old school pimp in the three piece suit and brimmed hat with a cane. “You’re going to stop the merger.”

“I can’t stop it – I’m negotiating it.”

“You’re going to stop it – I’m a shareholder and my voice counts!”

Jonathan protested. “That’s a guaranteed ‘mill’ for the company!”

“And I’m sure you get a hefty sum for doing it!” But this isn’t about you so you’re going to stop it.”

“And if I say no?”

Old school withdrew a gun. “Then some interesting little concepts regarding Ronna Randall will motivate you.” He gave a nod to his minions in the other two cars.

Jonathan was left frowning. “Wait!” He bellowed. “How do you know Ronna?”

“I ask the questions here!” Old school replied.

“You better stay away from her!” Jonathan yelled.

One man grabbed Mills into a head lock and shoved him into the car while another jabbed the barrel of his gun onto Jonathan’s head and directed him toward the same vehicle.

II.

     Ronna opened her eyes from the best sleep she’d had in a long time. She was still on her side believing that she still felt him holding her but there was no sound of heavy breathing or snoring or the feeling of breath blown over her face. In fact, she awoke to a freakish silence. She rolled onto her back. Her hand hit a sheet of paper; she grabbed it and held it up to her face.

SAMSUNG

     “No, not again Jonathan! Why didn’t you tell me you had an appointment?” She fussed at his absent presence and sighed. “Well I don’t want to stay this weekend if you’re not going to be here.” She looked at the clock on the nightstand which read 5:30am. “I can run home and change and still make it to work on time.” She mumbled to herself.

The 7:50 bell rang rush hour traffic into the halls. Ronna loathed the crowded jaunt and did her best to avoid the forcible swaying of the mass. She dodged swinging backpacks purses and limbs. The moment the main office door was within reach, she yanked it open to escape. The stride to the sign-in booklet was interrupted.

“Ms. Randall, come in my office please!” The principal called.

Ronna sighed and back-tracked to the door hanging on its hinges. She entered and closed the door behind her.

“Have a seat.” The robust woman commanded.

Ronna sat and watched the woman stare her down. She saw her give a beautiful smile once with plump, round cheeks. However, that expression is rarely seen. Now and most of the time, it remains hidden by an overbearing butch disposition.

She finally spoke. “Ms. Randall, the incident the other day was the last straw – I’m letting you go.”

“What?” Ronna frowned.

“I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry? This is my lively hood. I didn’t even hit the girl, she attacked me with her comb and striking arm – I only held her to keep her from hurting me!”

“And she’s been expelled.”

“So why are you letting me go?”

“Because there have been a few too many incidents.” Ronna sat still, gaping. “I think it’s for the best. We’ve called in a long term substitute for your class. The school district will pay out your contract but it’s best that you don’t return.”

Ronna blew a heavy puff of air through her nose. “Fine, I hate being at this school anyway – there is no support system for the teachers here.” She grabbed her things and stepped lively out of the office.

The clouds were still low although the rain had stopped. Ronna could not think of anything she needed or of anyplace she wanted to go. She only fumed between thoughts of the safety she’d experienced the night before. A frown weighed her brow and mist clouded her vision between finger swipes as force of habit led her to drive toward home. Only a twenty minute drive from the school, Ronna turned into the apartment building parking lot. A flash of the high-rise with the beach background popped into her mind. She parked in the slot just outside of her apartment and gathered her things to get out. She took the paved strip around a portion of the building regarding the major highway; her door faced it on the ground floor. Ronna unlocked the door and stepped inside. She stood in the middle of the floor, surveying her surroundings. Her  eyes fell on the bay opposite the couch and she saw the fireplace at the condo. She directed her attention to the small, tidied kitchen and saw Jonathan cooking. She faced the bedroom where a full-sized bed was positioned against the wall and identified a sense of caring and welfare that her life lacked years ago but that she now has. Ronna sighed and lowered her head, noticing that she had not dropped anything into its place; she still held her purse, jacket and keys – a clear indicator that she did not desire to be there. She went for the door and snatched it open. There in the doorway stood the sassy squirt from her class and her mother, a large woman with bulging eyes and lots of chin.

“That her?” The woman asked the child who nodded.

“May I help you?” Ronna asked.

“Yeah,” The woman snatched her head to one side. “I’m Neisha’s motha and she told me what happened.”

Ronna took a step into the doorway. “Ma’am I’m sorry, I’m on my way out.”

“On yo way out? Now you looka here – the next time you decide to put yo hands on ma chil’, you betta damn well don’t! Cuz I don’t play dat…”

“I’m sorry,” Ronna forced them out of the way by taking just enough extra steps to close and lock the door. “I’m a professional and if you can’t speak professionally, then we will not speak.” And on that note, Ronna walked away swiftly as they lingered on her tail. She got into her car and pulled off with the mother still yelling.

Thirty minutes later, she stormed through the door as if to escape someone. “John?” She called out although she knew in her gut that he had not returned. “Jonathan!” She yelled, crossing the living room when meaty arms almost yanked her off of her feet. They managed to get beneath her arms and interlaced fingers behind her neck. Her purse dangled from her shoulder as Ronna wriggled desperately in the violent clutches like a fish on a hook. She heard Master Shim’s voice.

What do you do if someone grabs you from behind like this?

     Remembering her lessons in a self defense class, she suddenly saw what to do before her mind’s eye. Working step by step with the mental images, Ronna leaned forward as much as she could, forcing her attacker to wrestle with imbalance. She raised her arms as high as she could get them, and dropped her elbows down onto the man’s arms. She swiveled at the waist, thrusting an elbow into his ribs, stepped out of his path and shot a deft blow to the side of his face. Quickly withdrawing the right hook, she slammed the same hand into her purse, grabbing a .45 and held the brute at gunpoint. Out of Ronna’s view crept another from a side room. Just as she noticed him at the corner of her eye, he’d kicked the gun from her hand and shoved her into his partner’s fist, sending her crashing to the floor face first.

III.

   The Anderson Corporation housed two captives in the CEO’s office and awaited two more. Secretary Timothy Mills warmed the couch – sporting duct tape on his wrists. Jonathan occupied a chair donning the same silver bracelets. An empty chair was positioned against his back.

The nasal-toned pimp paced the carpeted floor. “Where are they?”

“You’re wasting your time.” Jonathan answered. “The merger is so concrete that even if you have me call and cancel it, they won’t believe me.”

The pimp spouted through clenched teeth. “Shut-up! You’re the contract negotiator – they’ll listen to whatever you have to say!”

“Mr. Nunn won’t stand for this no matter what you do…” Mills warned.

“We’ll see about that when he gets here. Now shut-up! Everybody shut-up!”

Just as he turned away from the door again, the pimp’s men walked in, escorting Ronna, one on each arm.

Her frightened, darting eyes instantly fell on her love interest. “Jonathan,” She whispered.

“Ronna!” He yelled back then shot his attention toward the nemesis. “Did your men have to hit her, man? You hit my girl?” Jonathan’s voice bellowed.

“And we’ll do more than that if you don’t do your job!”

Ronna recognized the man when he spoke. “Wesley?”

“You know this guy, Ron?”

“Yeah Ron, tell your new boyfriend who I am.”

She looked at Jonathan and swallowed. “He’s my brother in law.

“Brother in law?” Jonathan frowned.

“Oh yeah,” Wesley answered. He then nodded at his helpers. “Tie her up behind him.”

The two jerks who attacked her at the condo pushed her into the chair, circled her wrists a few times with tape behind her back and walked away. Jonathan stretched his fingers to touch her. Their chairs sat parallel to a wall. He turned his head away from the open room to avoid revealing his conversation with her.

He whispered to her. “What does your brother in law have to do with this?”

She followed his lead and also faced the wall. “I don’t even know what you guys are doing here.”

“He wants me to stop our company’s merger – I’m so sorry, Ron. Are you all right?”

“My head hurts – I feel a little off balance. I’ve missed you.”

“Me too – did you see my note?”

“Yeah, only you would tell me on a love note that my pen is in my back pocket.”

Just then they both froze. An epiphany held them in the realization of how they’d break free.

“Hey, you two,” Wesley got his minions’ attention. “You two go downstairs and get ready to escort Mr. Nunn up here – his plane arrived an hour ago. I don’t wanna do anything until he gets here so that Crane knows we’re for real. And you,” He turned to Mills. “What do you know about your boss’s arrival?”

Wesley’s voice drowned in their whispers. “Ron, try your back pocket.”

“I’m way ahead of you.”

Ronna hoisted her arms just enough to extend her fingers into her back pocket, slipped them in and groped for the pen. The tips of her fingers discovered it and she carefully grabbed it with her index and middle fingers. She gently tugged it into her palm. Wesley approached them yelling.

“A shareholder…but no voice – no say so…Crane Capital deserves to fall – they don’t know how to treat their employees.” He shook an index finger at Jonathan. “And I’ll bet you’re wonderin’ what this murderous beauty has to do with it, huh?”

“Murderous?” Jonathan asked.

“Hell yeah!” He pointed an accusing finger. “She killed my brother!”

Ronna gasped but kept ripping at the tape with the point of the pen until she hit the last thread and started on Jonathan’s bindings.

Wesley continued his false accusations. “And she thinks she’s movin’ on but I’m getting’ her back for my brother by messin’ you up.” He nodded at Jonathan. “Yeah…Danny had a heart attack because she kept him angry all the time!” He hit her shoulder.

Startled, Ronna jumped and scowled at him. “Danny died because he wouldn’t control his temper!” She yelled. Wesley cracked her clean across the face with a back hand and only saw portions of the ceiling shortly thereafter. Jonathan had pounced on him, knocking him to the floor. A UFC fan, he hammered his head until consciousness left him.

Mills yelled to Ronna, “Press the emergency button under the desk!” He gestured with both bound hands.

Jonathan took Wesley’s gun and aimed it at the door when Wesley’s assistants walked through with CEO, Robert Nunn.

IV.

(Three Days Later)

     Chaos had finally fallen silent. The natural sounds of home encircled all listening ears. Jonathan lifted the cold compress to reveal the charcoal gray cheekbone and squinting eye that was hidden underneath.

“It’s healing.” He said.

Ronna yawned. “It still hurts.”

“It will…do you feel strong enough to get up?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She sat up in bed and leaned against a pillow on the head board.

He sat up with her. “I have to go, Ron.”

She blew air from her nostrils and looked away from him.

“I – I’m sorry.” He sighed, leaning his head against the pillow. “I have to negotiate a contract in the Bahamas. I know we’ve been through hell a few days ago and we need a break but I simply can’t put this off. She slapped at a tear streaming down the unblemished cheek and took the remote from the nightstand and turned on the T.V. Jonathan rested a hand on her leg when she interrupted him.

“You know what? Forget it John, it’s okay. I knew you were a traveling corporate lawyer when we started this relationship.”

“Good, I’m glad you understand – and…I want you to know that it’s imperative that I go see this lady to discuss our agreement because…” Ronna glanced at him and turned away again. “Well…she accepted the ring I gave her so I wanted to hurry and finalize our merger.” Ronna faced him again, gaping, then smiled sheepishly. He returned a full grin of a smile. “You feel strong enough to travel?” She quickly nodded without a word. Jonathan continued. “…Get married and do our resting in the Bahamas for a few weeks?”

Ronna continued nodding. “You know I do!” She yelled and stuck to him like glue.

He managed to peel her away a little to take her face carefully between his palms. He dried her tears, leaned his head to one side and planted a soft one on her lips.

***

     A warm breeze blew white scrims over the king-sized bed parallel to a large window that opened onto  blue beach water. Lying awake, Ronna looked at a sleeping Jonathan. She raised her left hand to her face, admiring the band on her ring finger and glanced at him again. She lightly dragged a finger over his arm closest to her. She smiled at the thought of the hard, lean muscle in the arms that held her closely. She remembered her own heavy breathing as they’d finally enjoyed each other in passionate friction. She’d traced the outline of his shoulder with her mouth in total wanting as he cradled her – pleasured by her receptiveness.

Antoinette Clinton

Copyright 2013

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About Antoinette Clinton

Writer, Reading Specialist I like reading, writing, arts and crafts, racketball and alternative medicine.
This entry was posted in Romance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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