Freedom XII

Aidan carried Tasha into the house as her body went limp from the pain. He stifled a flinch as his arm prosted at shifting her as he reached down for the key. 

In the early days of their marriage, everything had felt so right. Tasha finished medical school as Aidan completed his training with the FBI. Their lives stretched before them with promise like the seemingly endless coastal highway upon which they drove to California for their honeymoon. Upon their return to Portland, the trouble had started. Aidan quickly grew jealous of Tasha’s relationship with her mentor at university hospital and she resented his frequent classified trips. 

Within eighteen months, they had stopped talking during the infrequent meals they managed to share. It was only after their separation that the hospital began seeing cases of poisoned water patients, alerting the FBI because of suspected terrorism. 

Aidan and Tasha were suddenly back in each other’s lives, not as lovers but colleagues. Until colleagues became lovers again. 

Freedom XI

“We’re almost there,” Aiden said as Tasha guided the car through the small town he’d once called home. 

“It’s beautiful,” Tasha remarked as she gazed at the profusion of pine trees and blue sky. 

“Turn here. The house on the left.” 

Tears sprang to Tasha’s eyes at the sight of the two story Victorian house. Her heart beat wildly as she could think only one thing: this could have been our home if we hadn’t gotten into this mess. 

“Tasha? You ok?” 

“I’m fine,” she pasted on a fake smile. “Just thinking about the old days.” 

“The key is under the welcome mat. Want to go in? I’ve kept it in my name all these years.” 

“Sure.” She closed the car door and noticed the earth begin to sway under her feet. 

Aiden was instantly at her side, helping her stand. 

“It’s starting,” she groaned, helpless in his strong arms.

Freedom X

“I love you, too. I’m so sorry, Aidan.” 

“How are you certain? About us dying.” 

“It’s how they got us back, poisoning the wound,” she explained. “If we can’t be detained, we’ll be denied our freedom here. And now I have it, too… whatever it is.” She sighed stormily. “It’s all my fault. I see why you didn’t trust me undercover five years ago. I put too much confidence in the doctor. He’s obviously working for his brother. Can you forgive me?” 

“I’m not angry,” Aidan whispered. “I knew they wouldn’t let us live.” 

“Do you still want to go home?” 

“Yes, to Paloma Falls. I’d like to find a house… Just you and me.” He managed a weak smile. 

“I want that, too. How many days away?” 

“Just one more.” 

Freedom IX

The next two days take them further up the coast and into the wooded areas that signify his childhood. 

“Do you think they’re done with us yet?” He touched the bandage where the doctor sutured his wounds and flicked in pain. 

“That should have healed by now, she noted. I’ll change the dressing tonight.” 

When it was exposed, she tried to hide her shock. 

“Is it infected?” 

“Not exactly.” She ghosted her finger over the puffy purplish wound. A wave of pain shot into her hand as she accidentally contacted it. “You asked me when they’ll be done with us. Look.” 

He twisted his head toward the blistered skin. “Damn. I knew we shouldn’t have trusted him.” 

“That only means,” she said in an even tone, “that we’ll have to make the most out of our freedom. We’re dying, Aidan.” 

“You used my name.” 

“Why pretend?” 

“I love you, Tasha.” 

Trading Places

Blog Note: Freedom will return tomorrow. Many questions will be answered as I plan to extend it from ten parts to a little longer. This popped into my head earlier and I wanted to document it before it floated away! I hope you enjoy it.

Now we’re sitting on a panel, critiquing wallpaper and debating the answers to the questions others have put upon us to answer. We were young and houseproud with a thirst to outdo one another. What became of the cooperation we sought? Will we reach a stage where we really won’t care? If we arrive there, will we even be aware that we have changed? 

Freedom VIII

“Did I ever tell you I grew up in a little town in the mountains?” He sounded stronger, determined the next morning. 

“No,” she said, sipping her coffee. “It sounds like paradise after all this running. What if we go there and stay forever? We can reinvent ourselves and no one can hurt us again.” 

“It just may work,” he answered slowly. “They’d never find us.” 

“What about your girlfriend? I don’t want to come between you.” 

“Amber?” He’d not thought about her in ages. “No. It was over before our capture.” His gaze lingered on her, making her cheeks flush. Their past was heavy between them, ready to leap from memory to recreated reality. 

Their hands brushed as they awkwardly reached for one another’s fingers. 

“That could work,” she reiterated his opinion in a low tone. “I’d like for it to.” 

Freedom VII

She sat up with a gasp. Sweat trickled down her neck from her pounding temples. It was just a dream, she reminded herself. A glance down at the bed reassured her that he was still sleeping. His face was relaxed, the most peaceful he had been since breaking out of their prison. 

Would they be on the run forever? Thoughts began to torment her as she thought of their future, however long it might be. Or however short, she wondered with a shudder. 

There had to be somewhere they could go. Somewhere away from prying eyes and the risk of recapture. She slipped out into the night, staring into the dark. The ocean waves pounded in the distance and soon made her tired enough to go back and lie down beside him. Hope would come with the morning. 

Freedom VI

He was sleeping within a few minutes, but she was still restless. Pacing the worn motel room carpet, she wondered what to do next. Where to go. 

A soft groan from the double bed jolted her from her reverie. She needed rest whether she felt like it or not. Sharing a bed with him after all this time was awkward at best, but her weary body didn’t care. She curled up next to him, fully clothed, closing her eyes. 

For the longest time, her sleep was deep and dreamless. But the inevitable nightmares began, making her toss and turn. 

They were trapped again, experimental subjects. Inhuman eyes leered as needles pierced their skin and they lost consciousness together, floating in the only respite in that place. 

All she knew was that she loved him more deeply than ever in freedom. 

Freedom V

He sat still as the doctor sutured his wounds, eyeing him suspiciously. She squeezed his hand and sensed his fear. She was worried that he might try to run, given the terror she observed in his rigid body posture. She’d pocketed the car keys. They had to stick together. 

“All done,” the doctor pronounced. He wrapped gauze around the wounds. “You can keep the room. I have to keep moving.” 

“So do we, but we’ll take it.” She forced a smile. 

“How could your brother have hurt us like that?” Anger flashed in his eyes.

She shot him a look but it did no good. 

The placid doctor sighed. “I don’t know. I never understood him.” 

“Thank you,” she said. “We really do appreciate it.” 

“You’re welcome.” Taking  his coat and bag, he exited the room. 

“Just rest now,” she told her companion. “Please.” 

Freedom IV

“Don’t forget the password,” she told him. “Then we’ll know who he is. Orchids, hothouse.” She pulled the car into the lot of a dingy motel. 

The man shook his head. “Why?” 

The answer didn’t take long to emerge; the amateur physician appeared and the man nearly choked. The doctor was identical to their former captor. 

“Relax. They’re twins.” She put a hand on his thigh. Turning to the doctor, she smiled with ease. “Orchids.” 

“Hothouse.” The doctor peered into the car and flinched when he saw the man’s wounded limbs. “Come on, I can help.”

She gave him a reassuring look. “I’ll be there with you.” 

The doctor helped her get the man out of the car. His joints had grown stiff over the long drive and he groaned as he moved. 

He held her gaze for a minute, peering into her eyes with trust and love. “Thank you.”