137 Q Street
by sarAdora ~~~~~~~~~~
It was dark and confining and she was frightened, so frightened it took her awhile to find solace. When it came, her body relaxed, pulse returned to normal, her breathing calmed and nothing that was happening to her mattered. Her mind took her elsewhere... where it was initially turbulent and then, peace finally reigned.
At first, they were snubbed when they entered the church, the stoic Lutheran women turning their backs, scorn evident in their eyes. Six-year old Neysa felt safe standing between her two grown sisters, Ausma holding her hand on one side, Inta's arm around her shoulder. They slipped into the last pew, and Ausma reached for the prayer books housed in the book holders in front of them. The family sitting on that pew turned and smiled at the trio, the first smiles they had seen and Neysa smiled back in turn.
"My man says you fetch drinks at the bar," the tall woman said softly as she took Ausma's hand in her own. "He says you are a kind person. I am pleased to make your acquaintance."
"Thank you," Ausma replied, stunned at the woman's warm reception and recognizing the woman's husband, was grateful for his honesty.
At the end of the service, the pastor welcomed them from the pulpit, his naturally stern voice holding a hint of admonishment as this was the sisters' first church visit in the six years they had lived in their village. The man of God softened his tone, uttered words of welcome and elicited the hope they would attend church often. Ausma and Inta nodded briefly; they would do whatever it took to keep Neysa safe and church members watching out for the small child was a good thing in these uncertain times. The warm reception of their presence in the church was wonderful respite in an otherwise unfriendly community, a community that had thus far treated the sisters as loose women to be scorned.
The day came when the small crowd of boys that often followed Neysa from school happened to spot her alone on the wooded path. They chased her, intent on tormenting her with vicious words and the occasional stick. She was cornered against a tree and one by one, they pinched and kicked the smaller child. When one bully raised his hand to slap her, he suddenly found himself thrust onto the ground and a very large foot pressing heavily into his chest.
"Put your hands on this child again," the tall, heavyset man thundered as the other boys ran from his wrath. "And I'll see you thrashed in the town square!"
Cradling Neysa to his chest, he soothed her with a tender voice, his rough hand smoothing her hair off her face. "Let's get you home, little girl. Your sisters will worry if you are late to supper."
Her eyes closed, Neysa leaned into the embrace that held her to a warm body. The hand smoothing the hair off her brow was large, the touch gentle and so familiar. She snuggled against him and went back to her childhood's memory. It was safe there - no bullies tormenting her, no ugly words thrown her way, safe again.
Alex knew she had drifted mentally; it was a time-honed skill and automatic. She didn't have to think about it, self-hypnosis back into memory lane was an easy flight for her. But it would not always be a safe one and he wanted to cure her of the habit, break down barriers, and make her face reality. It was true that the skill came in handy when she was a child, but he believed an adult should face what life throws at you. He was determined to make her stronger and he was determined to be a part of that new reality. They were alone on Q Street, the house at 137 empty of agents and surveillance cameras and hidden microphones. The refrigerator was stocked and so was the pantry. He doubted he'd have more than 48 hours to spend with her but just in case... they had enough supplies to last a while.
"Open your eyes, Neysa," he whispered in her ear. "Come back to me."
Will we ever be safe?" 12-year old Neysa asked her sisters when another bully had bloodied her nose, intent on hurting the sister of the so-called town whores. "Will we ever live in peace? Can't we go somewhere else?"
"In America," Ausma said. "When we immigrate, all will be well. No one will care what we do."
Her fears had made her wary, she had no reason to trust and though the years passed with little incident, Neysa easily shied away from confrontation. She was a successful landscape architect - her artistry respected among peers and clients alike. Life would always be filled with landscape challenges, a few friends and only those lovers she chose for the occasional tryst.
Life had been fairly predictable and Neysa had been content with her lot and then the FBI mistook her for an international thief - a bank robber renown for a multitude of heists and one that had evaded apprehension for years. When Neysa had been mistaken for Amanda Labeau and taken into custody, the news flashed across Interpol and the world of international banking breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was only when the Labeau woman was caught on video tape robbing yet another bank that the FBI knew they had the wrong woman. It was a huge blow to their collective egos and a huge affirmation to Neysa that at best, safety was illusive and temporary everywhere in the world, even in America.
When she finally opened her eyes and saw Alex Morris' eyes gazing back at her, she smiled. Belatedly, it dawned on her that she shouldn't have been in his arms, shouldn't have been wrapped in his embrace... leaning against his chest, his mouth hovering...
"What the hell are you doing?" she screamed and tried to jump from his lap but he anticipated her reaction and continued to hold onto her. "Let me up! Let me go!" she shouted, struggling against him.
"No," he said simply and with a hand on the back of her head, forced her back against his chest.
"You're going to listen to me," he said softly. "And when I'm finished talking, you can say what you want to say."
"Don't want to hear anything you have to say," she snarled, her words muffled by his chest. You're a liar and a cheat and a..."
"...And a man," he murmured. "A man madly in love with a spitfire with long dark hair, curly hair," he amended. "And the most beautiful green eyes and the most luscious body and you're not going anywhere until you hear what I have to say."
"Love?" Neysa scoffed. "Is that what you call this? Taking me against my will? Holding me against my will?" Looking at her surroundings, she recognized the house where she had been incarcerated. "And bringing me back here? That's love?"
"Shhh, just listen," he told her and loosened his grip. "Are you going to listen?" he asked with a skeptical brow arched, "or are you going to fight me?"
"I... you... NO!"
"I warned you," he said softly and as easily as turning the pages of a book, he flipped Neysa onto her stomach and across his lap. His hand came down hard... once... twice... and again, the swats harsh and swift and meant to penetrate her wall of stubbornness.
Both brows went up as he listened to her tirade, screams interspersed, the underlying theme accusing him of being kin to barbarians and the rear ends of several species. Unable to stop himself, he laughed at her words and continued to spank her clothed bottom until she wept in frustration. When she finally quieted, he pulled her up into his arms and kissed the lingering tears. Quietly, he explained how she happened to be taken into custody, how he had been attracted to her, how he should have known better. He went on to tell her that he regretted what had happened, that the FBI had made a serious mistake and that he had difficulty not pursuing her but had reluctantly left her alone to pursue her life.
"And then serendipity," he explained further. "There you were, at the Russian Embassy and I was drawn to you all over again."
"But you denied knowing me," Neysa protested, clinging to this irrefutable fact, her eyes glaring, her tone accusatory. "All along, you knew!"
"Guilty," Alex replied. "And afraid you wouldn't have anything to do with me. And you know what?" he asked as he cupped her face with both hands. "I have no regrets, none at all. You and me... we're good together, Neysa Zirniklis, and I intend for us to have a chance to prove me right. I want you for the long haul. What do you think of that idea?"
"I think," she hissed as she struck out at him, her fist catching him on the side of his neck and then grabbing his ear to yank his head closer to hers. "I think you're good for a quick tumble between the sheets and nothing else! *Nothing* else!"
"Is that so?" he murmured as he swiftly pulled at her clothes and then his own. "Let's see if you're right."