I Will Lie to You

I Will Lie to You

As the dim light of the station’s simulated dawn struck her eyes, Cazella remembered only her terror when she approached the security manager’s door. Such fear was born neither of knowing that she was surrounded by the mob, nor the fact that she was likely to become their target within the hour; both were positions she had experienced more than a dozen times in her short life. She expected to experience both again, if she managed to live through this.

No, her true horror came from imagining Kurt Haider’s response to the truth she had come to reveal. She had been hated and scorned by many men over the course of the last decade, and she had put them behind her with nary a thought. But she could hardly bear the idea of being banished from Kurt Haider’s life. She had allowed herself to grow attached to him, committed the one cardinal sin she had been instructed, explicitly, to avoid.

She didn’t remember ringing his bell or the pleasantries they exchanged before he invited her in. She recalled only the pounding of her heart as it filled her ears. The difficulty of summoning her usually easy smile. Her concern that her terror might somehow show through her eyes, alerting him too soon to the danger they were both in. But she was through the door in a matter of moments, sitting in his familiar living room, perched on the edge of the couch, hating how uncomfortable she felt in a place that had once seemed like her haven.

For the first several minutes, she couldn’t do more than look at him; tracing the contours of his muscular frame with her eyes, recalling what lay beneath the thin fabric of his shirt, longing for one last chance to lay with him before it all came crumbling down. He had been mid-sentence when her lips parted and the words tumbled unbidden from her throat.

“They’re coming for you, Kurt. You have to get out of here, right now.”

He had stared at her like she had gone mad. But there had been a flash of understanding in his eyes. Perhaps it had been instinct; the same survival instincts that had kept him alive through the war.

“They sent me to lull you off your guard,” she went on, answering his silent questions. “So that you wouldn’t put up a fight when they bust in here. I don’t know how much time we have, but you have to believe me. You can’t afford not to.”

She might have already been babbling. At the time, she had felt completely disconnected from her body and the words it spoke, as if she had watched the entire scene unfold from a great distance.

His, “What the hell?” should have driven through her like a vibro-knife slicing neatly through an exposed limb. But in her memory it almost seemed to bounce away, as if his anger had been unimportant.

“I’ve been working for them the whole time.” She couldn’t remember any more what words had tumbled from her mouth; she seemed to recall babbling, a jumbled mass of gibberish, false starts, useless information and constant alarm. It certainly hadn’t been the complex but collected speech she had planned and rehearsed on way over. She had simply been trying to shove as many words as she could into his head before he silenced her.

The sudden bang of a door kicked open in the hallway sent her crashing back into her body. From that moment on, every sensation had been shockingly real. She hadn’t resisted when Kurt’s strong fingers closed around her wrist, drawing her to her feet and forcing her out of the line of weapons fire. Somehow, she always kept track of his words through all the yelling and shooting. She had run without question, sure-footed and confident. She hadn’t questioned when Kurt thrust the gun into her hand, nor had she hesitated when the moment had come to turn and fire.

Even if it meant abandoning what little certainty she had in this world to turn on her former keepers. Even if she couldn’t win Kurt’s trust when the smoke settled, every moment was an act of survival.

The memories came quickly now, a heavy cascade, a disordered jumble competing for her attention. Until something collided with her shoulder, catapulting her, gasping, into the present. A pair of familiar, dark eyes hovered close, blinking while their owner waited for her to catch her breath.

“Sorry if I startled you. You were tossing a lot. Seemed like you might be having a nightmare.”

It was the last face she had expected to see, and the last voice she had expected to hear. But, of course, Kurt had brought her with him. The memories were clearer now she was awake, back in their proper order, though no less harrowing than they had been a few hours before.

“You stayed,” she managed, uncertain what else she was supposed to say. Already, shame burned her cheeks and ears, a stark contrast to her milky skin. Perhaps he had only been waiting to tell her off before he tossed her out on her ass for good. She wouldn’t be surprised.

“Yeah; I went to all the trouble of bringing you here so that I could sneak off in the middle of the night and leave you to your own devices.” Kurt snorted as he backed away, sliding off the far end of the bed. “Give me at least a little credit.”

His words only made her shame burn hotter. “Helping each other in the heat of the moment doesn’t mean you haven’t changed your mind now that you’ve had time to think about everything that happened.”

“I think we should both be focusing our energy on what we’re going to do about this whole mess. Do we really have time to waste on anything else?”

Cazella’s jaw fell open. Had she heard him right? Surely she had missed something, edited it out to avoid having to deal with it. “You don’t even want to talk about this?”

He turned to look at her, hand frozen in the middle of scratching his fresh stubble, and she could tell that he was angry, even if he was adept at concealing it. “There’s plenty I want to talk about. And we will. But not right now. One step at a time.”

Cazella untangled herself from the sheets and tossed them aside, pushing herself to her knees. “Don’t play this game with me, Kurt. Don’t string me along like I have a chance after what I’ve done.”

“After you saved my life? All right, sure. I’ll keep that in mind when I reflect back on this whole sordid situation.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. His words probably weren’t meant as a blow, but she couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. She had been selfish and he was trying to act as if she had done something selfless by warning him at the last possible moment.

“I’ll lie to you,” she choked around a fresh lump in her throat. “I’ve been lying to you the whole time.”

“You told the truth when it mattered.” The conviction and severity of his voice startled her. She searched his dark eyes for a hint of his prior anger, for the dressing-down she had expected to receive all along. Why hadn’t he asked her to leave? Why was he acting like they could still do this together?

“Is that all it takes to erase my sins?”

“Not by a long shot.” She was strangely relieved to hear the hard edge in his voice, as if he intended to put her through her paces. At least there was some sense left in this crazy world. “But I’m not half the idiot I look either. You think I didn’t know where those tips came from? A bar tender might hear a lot, but a track record like yours comes from elsewhere.”

She hung her head. Information had been the method the mob used to get close to men like him. They had wanted station security in their pocket and they hadn’t been happy when it became clear they couldn’t get it. But perhaps he had noticed the extra tidbits she had tried to feed him. Perhaps the mob had been targeting her as much as they had been targeting him.

That thought turned her blood to ice. Her eyes widened and her hands began to shake.

“What?” he asked, concern returning to his face. “Tell me,” he added when she didn’t answer, swooping onto the bed so he could put a hand on each of her shoulders. It wasn’t until he gave her a soft shake that she found her voice.

“Luka,” she croaked, tears stinging her eyes. “Oh god, Kurt, we have to find him quickly.”

“Look, I know you’re concerned about your brother, but we-“

She grabbed his shoulders, pulled herself close enough that her face hovered inches from his. Tears streaked her cheeks and she was powerless to stop them. What had she done? Why had she ever allowed herself to sleep?

“You don’t understand. If they get to him first, they’ll send him after us. If they activate his implants, he won’t be able to do anything other than kill.”

Kurt cursed under his breath, but he was already halfway to his feet. “Remember what I said about not having time to talk?”

Cazella didn’t bother to agree, she simply dove for her purse, weapon and shoes.

*********
This is a fragment from a plot my husband and I never got around to finishing. Hopefully I can use this to reignite his interest ;)

Please check out what my writing partner did with this prompt!

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