RANCHER’S WIFE – CHAPTER EIGHT:

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RANCHER’S WIFE – CHAPTER EIGHT:
CHAPTER EIGHT:

One of the things about ‘ignoring the world’ that Mitch finally gave into was cell coverage. And, I think it was only because of me. I really think he would have been perfectly happy and content without easy contact with the outside world, but he saw my becoming a major part of his life as something needing a reconsideration. I tried arguing with him, but that only seemed to strengthen his resolve. He felt we needed easier contact with the outside world and especially for emergencies. I wouldn’t find out until later what was really behind this concern.

A month later he was in town for some supplies and returned with several large containers. The contents were said to be able to boost cell coverage in problem locations. I was skeptical, after all, we had a mountain between us and any cell tower regardless of direction or service provider. When I expressed my doubts, he merely pointed up the mountain behind the house.

“Yes, the mountain, that’s our problem.”

He chuckled and d****d an arm around my shoulders as we stood alongside the pickup truck. I was looking at the boxes, he was looking up the mountain slope. “I love how you can fight me, now.” I might have blushed by his heartfelt comment, but who would know under all these clothes to ward off the cold. It amazed me sometimes how far he had brought me to being the kind of woman, the kind of person, I had never been allowed to experience before. He pointed with his free hand, fingers didn’t exist with the heavy mittens we wore. “Up there, that is where the booster needs to be setup.”

“On top of the mountain?” I admit, I was looking at him like he had lost his mind. We hadn’t been there in in good conditions. Now we were going in the winter?

It was a week and a half before he announced that it was time. He had been waiting for the right combination of conditions: temperature, clear skies, wind, and forecast. We would be using horses to get up there and to carry the equipment and necessary tools, the mountains around us were in the 10,000 foot range with rounded tops as opposed to the craggy peaks that are more representative of the higher mountains. In other conditions it might merely be a challenging hike, in the middle of the winter it would be beyond a challenge and would introduce considerable danger, too. On the one hand, I was still questioning the wisdom and necessity of undertaking this in the winter, even when conditions were at their best. On the other hand, though, I took great pride in the knowledge that Mitch held my capabilities in such high regard to rely on me to handle the task without overly complicating the effort by taking care of me at the same time.

We were successful in getting the booster in place and it was every bit as difficult and challenging as we anticipated. Despite that the temperature was favorable, at that altitude it was still cold. And, the installation was only temporary. We would need to return in much better weather for a more permanent foundation system. The unit came with a solar panel to power the unit. At that elevation, solar power was ideal. From the top of the mountain, there was direct line of sight to the nearest cell tower to the northeast and the house and yard below.

But, the really amazing thing about the day was the view. From the top of the mountain, approximately 10,000 feet, the view was stunning, breath-taking. To the west was the lake the next mountain range beyond. The lake was white, completely white, with the frozen surface and close to two feet of snow depth. Just below was the house, a column of smoke rising from the wood stove chimney. It all looked so small below us. To the east was nothing. Well, maybe not nothing, there was a lot of plains to the east. From the top of Pike’s Peak, just to the north, it is said that you can see all the way to Kansas. Pike’s Peak is 14,000 feet. We took the Cog Train to the top once. It was amazing. And, I could feel the difference of 14,000 feet. Did the 4,000 feet matter if we could see Kansas or not? I had no idea, but I knew there was nothing between us and Kansas that was close to half that elevation. And, the neat thing about Mitch was that while I was staring off at these things, he never once interrupted my enjoyment of the situation. It was as though he completely understood that life could be very short and life should be grabbed when it was available.

Mitch was still concerned about my personal safety. He didn’t believe the ‘others’ knew where he lived but he was worried that they might have a vendetta against me for initiating the FBI investigation. His worry was only reinforced when Agent Baxter confirmed the word on the street to the same effect. Using our enhanced cell access, he was checking in with Baxter. But, despite the better access to communication beyond our valley, he was still very restrictive of who would have knowledge of his cell phone number. And, he continued his habit of changing out phones on a regular schedule.

I had a large pot of soup that I had made from scratch heating on the stove and ready for serving. I walked to the room Mitch used for his office to tell him lunch was ready. The one-sided conversation I heard was interesting.

“You let him out?” “Okay, yeah … sure, I suppose. Even he gets due process and he probably can afford bail.” “So, what do you think the situation is?” “No, I don’t want anyone here as a guard. If I think that becomes necessary, I have someone else in mind.” “Okay, but is there any way they could even know where we live? I’ve been very careful about that and we haven’t been in the paper or anything like that, at least not that I know of.” “So, what you are saying is, be careful when going into Alamosa.” “Thanks, Baxter. I mean it. I appreciate the heads up.”

He ended the call and dropped his head in his hands. I hadn’t seen him quite like that before. It was like something was weighing heavily on him, something that was bothering him. Something that was a complication. Something he hadn’t wanted to consider but was now a reality.

“Mitch, lunch is ready.” I hesitated at the doorway when he didn’t move. “Is something wrong, honey?”

He turned to me, looking me up and down. A smile came to his face. I was dressed in an extra-large sweatshirt of his and wool socks. That was all and he knew it. Our life had become much more sexual, much more comfortable in our approach to it, too. The introduction of Blackie into the mix seemed to open that door that allowed us to be completely open about it. I was only partially successful at training Blackie on when I was available to him, but it was close enough. Dressed as I was now, he was likely to stick his snout under the bottom and sniff and lick me. But with dresses, he didn’t. He seemed to know what the difference was but I knew I could never of communicated that to him.

It was nice for Mitch, though, too. As he came to me, I knew how this would be. He was still bothered by whatever it was, but he took me into his arms, hugging me tight to him, and one hand slid down my back to the bottom of the sweatshirt. Then his hand was cupping my bare butt cheek. Just the anticipation of that simple action that I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t done, it was enough to get my motor humming, again. It seemed I was happiest and the most content when I was with Mitch or Blackie these days. I was in heaven when I had both at the same time. Maybe it was spending so much time in the house during the cold, snowy winter days. Right now, though, nobody was complaining, not me, Mitch, and certainly not Blackie.

Over lunch, Mitch explained the conversation with Agent Baxter. Banks had been released on bail. The worst part for me was that the word on the street was that he had a vendetta against me for establishing a case against him. He also knew, even if it was rejected by all law enforcement agencies, that I was the one who shot out both his knees. That I was among those who extracted information about his operation, stole his bonds and cash, and left his computer system exposed for the law to dig into. He knew the theory of a gang-hit was phony; he just couldn’t prove it. But, apparently he took small comfort in possibly getting some satisfaction by putting a ‘hit’ out on me. Now, I understood Mitch’s concern, his hesitation, and his feeling of being overwhelmed. In our short life together, we have already expressed the bewilderment of what life would be like without each other. How does that happen for such strangers, opposites in so many ways?

I am not sure if it was by accident or wanting to divert my attention away from the threat beyond us, but my man came up with a new and unique way of challenging my workouts on the cold days of winter that followed. Whichever, it served the purpose of keeping me working out with him religiously. Hmmm, maybe ‘religiously’ would be an inappropriate word to use to describe these new exercises.

He established and introduced each in succession. There were limber or isometric exercises that we did in the comfort of the house. There were others that were done in the garage building with the use of weights. We were in the area of the garage building with the weight equipment when he first introduced the new exercises. The first one wasn’t with weights, but knowing him I could see how they might be added.

“Honey, remember when you asked me if I could help you develop your own six-pack?”

I was almost nervous to respond. Ever since he had dramatically increased our workout, cardio and resistance training. Hesitantly, “Yes …”

“Take off your clothes.” It was our habit to get the garage warm for our workouts, but naked? But, he was already stripping out of his shorts and tee-shirt. He stood in front of me, just waiting. Him and his hard-on. He had obviously been thinking about this next step and finally decided act on his idea.

I shook my head but stripped off my workout outfit. “Now what? Sex is great and gets the heart pumping, but … really?”

He sat down on the bench we used for dumbbell and barbell presses and exercises. He motioned for me to come to him. Hell, there was magnificent hard penis standing straight up … I was going to walk away from that?

“Okay, this might be indelicate, but … are you wet? Are you ready or should I lick you first?” He got a smile, “Or, maybe you would prefer Blackie?”

I swatted his shoulder, “Blackie is wonderful. You know that. But, you, you wonderful man, are just bursa escort as wonderful. I am plenty wet. What do I do?”

“This is going to a little awkward, but …” He went on to guide me through the position. He wanted me sitting on him, his hard penis inside me, and my feet on the opposite side of bench. Once we were in position … hmmmmmm … what a position … he took my hands, “Now lean back as far as you can, then pull yourself back up. Essentially doing a sit-up.”

I look at him with questions across my face, but I tried it. He held on to my waist, not my hands, forcing me to do the work. His hold on my waist only anchored me to him. God! You can’t imagine the sensations. It was a deep sit-up, each time allowing my shoulders and head to sink further down closer to the floor. Then pulling myself up with my abdominals. A wonderful alternative to a heavy piece of equipment in a gym. The best part? The movement inside me. My butt was on his thighs, my pussy anchored by his cock, my legs on the opposite side of him, my knees bent and feet pressed into the floor. As I crunched up, especially when I was leaned back the furthest, I felt the muscles of my abdomen straining and contracting, but I also felt his cock inside me sliding, pressing into the top of my pussy as I leaned back and driving deeply into me as I sat up. Over and over I did that exercise. It also incorporated another aspect of resistance training that he talked about … confusion. My body wasn’t sure if it should focus on the cock inside me or the work my abdominals needed to perform.

He inserted a few more while he was at it. He said these might become a regular part of our workouts, too. I wasn’t going to argue, even though they did complicate the normal moves considerably. One was what he called the ‘wheelbarrow’. This one he said was for core strengthening and for arms and shoulders. It started with me braced against the bench and jumping my legs to his waist, him taking hold of my hips. He then inserts himself into me, holding my hips and pulling us together, my legs stretched out behind him. He then backs up slowly and I put one hand and then the other onto the ground from the bench. Now was are in the wheelbarrow position similar to what everyone did as k**s. The trick was to keep my back perfectly straight and to move around the garage when I could only use my hands and arms for stability and movement. He, of course, simply follows where I lead us while his grips on my hips keeps us together, his cock penetrated inside me. The movement of his walking causes him to pull slightly out and then push back in as he moves and hold me.

Another one worked the triceps and shoulders. He took a laying down position alongside the bench. I put my hands on the edge of the bench and my feet on a second support on the other side of him. I was spanning his body at this point. I then lowered myself down to him, virtually only using my triceps. He positioned his cock by aligning his position below me until I felt his cock at my pussy hole, at which time I descended completely. The exercise was to slowly raise myself up with my triceps nearly to the top of his cock so only the head was still inside me. He assisted by using his hand as a stop so I wouldn’t come completely off. These were like triceps dips at a gym.

Squats had become a regular movement and I had worked up to some good weights at the same time. They really worked the legs and butt. What woman doesn’t like a tight and firm butt; and, what man doesn’t like to watch one? His addition for this exercise had him flat on the bench on his back. I positioned myself straddling the bench and him while holding lighter dumbbells than I normally would. As I lowered my body down, he again did the aiming until once again I felt his cock at my entrance. Then I lowered down over him until he was completely embedded inside. The movements then were to raise and lower as straight as possible while only using my legs.

The positions he introduced for inside the house were more for flexibility or isometrics. Somehow, it always seemed to be for me to be the flexible one. One was what he called, Face Off. The only thing I could guess was that in this position as he sat on the floor his face was in my pussy. He sat up straight on the floor, his legs slightly spread. I stepped over him so I was facing away from him. Then going into a semi-squat position, I bent over at the waist until my hands touched the ground. My legs are spread on either side of him. In this position, I carefully move my head and adjust my feet until I can take his penis into my mouth. These actions have the effect of also pushing my spread open crotch into Mitch’s face. It has a side benefit for him in that he has to remain in perfectly straight position to have access to my pussy with his mouth and tongue, so it assists in his posture strengthening, also.

Another one was nearly the reverse. It required me to be bent over backwards. This was extremely difficult and took a lot of practice. But, we’re all about doing things the proper way so no amount of practicing was going to get into our way. Remember as a k** doing that bridge backwards with your feet planted and reaching over your head and arching your back so your belly pointed towards the ceiling? That’s what this was, with some interesting twists, of course. I found it easiest for footing to do this on the floor with blankets for padding. One of the differences is that this is done while kneeling. I reached far back to get into the bridge pose, raising my body once my hands were in place. Then, in that position, Mitch slid in underneath me. As he does, I simply open my mouth and watch his cock coming toward me as he maneuvers, taking him into my mouth. He then raised his head to start eating out my pussy and clit. This was very enjoyable and very intense. It took a lot of flexibility and tight core to get into and hold the position. Getting out of it was interesting, too. Mitch assisted with care so I didn’t pull something in the process.

Another one was with me in a headstand, not a handstand. I start out in a kneeling position and place my head on a small cushion on the floor. Then, with Mitch’s help, I straighten my knees and raise my hip, and keeping my abs flexed throughout. Once I was vertical with my head and two elbows/forearms as a three based support, Mitch gets into position and completes my final position, which is with my legs spread as wide as possible (if you try this, you look like the ‘Y’). The finishing part of getting into position is Mitch wiggling his legs between my arms and head on either side, holding his cock at the appropriate angle so I can accept it into my mouth. By the time that is completed, he is in perfect position to now lick, kiss, and tongue the spread open pussy in front of him. When in this position, the blood rushes to the head and while the initial sensation passes fairly quickly, an orgasm in this position is quite intense.

As these exercises were added to our workouts, then to our just fun time, the winter days and nights became increasingly fun. I also found myself looking forward much more to working out with this man. And, that had an obvious effect on my body … well, in a couple ways, actually.

We have been very careful since the warning from Agent Baxter. Most of the shopping and supply trips have been by Mitch alone. I have protested regularly, of course, but he tends to err on the side of caution almost anytime. With me, though, he seemed even more determined to be cautious. But, it seemed that by late winter the supposed threat seemed a distant memory for both of us. We had spent the winter busy with the ranch and a****ls as we could manage to do the work. Getting to the horses and cattle on the other side of the mountain was the most challenging. The shelters we had constructed in the fall and the feed and hay stored at each was needed this winter since the snow fall was at or more than normal. That, of course, made foraging by the a****ls harder. Our chore was to get to the a****ls, break open more bales of hay and feed for them. The old 4×4 pickup or ATV were the workhorses during the winter. They made good time and were effective even in the snow. The horses were slow and their footing was often questionable. Besides, it was often too cold for me to spend that kind of time exposed to the weather. As winter seemed to be winding down, it was looking like we, make that Mitch, had guessed right on the amount of food stuff for the a****ls. This might be the first time in years, much longer than Mitch had owned the place, that the a****ls had a chance of bringing new life to the ranch. I think I was a little more excited about the prospect than even Mitch. Maybe it was a female thing; a woman’s relationship to bringing new life to the world. Maybe especially since I knew I would never have the chance to do that myself.

The months that passed since our first experience of the three of us sharing sexually were wonderful. The addition of Blackie into our loving and sexual play provided a welcome diversion to the long winter nights and too cold days.

We had only recently started something new for us: threesomes. This night it had been Blackie on my back fucking me royally with Mitch in front feeding me his cock into my mouth. These sessions had raised all our stimulation. Knowing and even seeing canine sex occurring in the house was kinky and stimulating for Mitch, but being a part of it seemed to raise his excitement even higher. I enjoyed it anyway, but the extra that it gave Mitch made even my experience better.

So, what could be better? We were settled into a happy, erotic life that kept us all satisfied, but especially me. When Mitch announced that we were going into Alamosa for a day of shopping and diversion, I was ecstatic. I had been cooped up too long and was eager to hit some stores and spend some money. The first thing that came to mind was a small bikini for the summer in the lake. Of course, before the purchase could be made I was sure Mitch would remind me that swimsuits weren’t allowed in the lake. But, I planned on insisting … just in case. I may never get a chance to wear it, I love the experience of swimming in the nude. Heck, I love being nude. I can’t wait for summer! When I expressed that same anticipation earlier to Mitch, he warned me that now that I was fucking Blackie, being naked around the house and yard would just encourage the dog. I smiled bursa escort bayan even now at the memory of my response and his laughter. All I said in response was, “And where is the downside?”

The day in late winter breaks clear and warm in the air. It promises to be unseasonably nice, if you can believe the forecasts. But, it is the chance we have been waiting for and we take the truck into Alamosa for routine shopping including more clothes for me for the coming warmer seasons. Including bikini if we can find such a shop already stocking swimwear. I have my fingers crossed.

Upon entering Alamosa and cruising down the main street of shops, I nearly jump out of my seat when I spot a small women’s shop with a mannequin in the window with a one-piece swimsuit. I am pointing and jumping in my seatbelt, only grunt coming out of my mouth. He smiles while shaking his head, but finds a parking space nearby. With his hand tightly around mine, he leads me across the street to the store. It is only after the second time that I come of the fitting room modelling yet another bikini that it occurs to me by the devilish smile on his face that his interest is in part to introduce exhibitionism into our relationship. When it finally did sink into me, I rushed into his arms wearing the latest trial.

“You dirty old man. You’re doing this on purpose.” He just smiled and didn’t say a word. “Okay, I want you to find the skimpiest one out there in my size. You want a show …?”

When I put on his selection and looked in the mirror, I blushed. I couldn’t help it. There was nearly no material there. A narrow triangle of material over each nipple and fine strings holding the top together. The bottoms were … heck, I’m not even sure there was enough material to call it a bottom. An equally narrow triangle that perhaps tried to cover my pussy, but was failing if I moved in the slightest way. The strings were equally fine to the point of almost not being seen. Against my white, winter skin I looked a sight. But, Mitch was calling me out and I was the one who made the point of showing him up. I stepped out of the room and did a twirl for him but I rushed back into the room, convinced I could never wear that. I would be more comfortable naked.

I bought a nice bikini that was small but more than a few pieces of thread. Mitch was still teasing me about the show I had put on as we walked down the sidewalk in pursuit of a coffee shop. I acted put out but I was enjoying the familiar, secure nature of the teasing and back-and-forth that was spontaneous and comfortable. How can a lover be real if it is always serious and intense about everything. Mitch can tend to be very serious and cautious about things. If he is bring out a side of me that exhibits confidence and strength, I think I am bring out in him a side that is free and relaxed. And that may have nearly been our downfall.

Mitch ran across the street to put my purchases into the truck cab. Then ran back to me, standing on the sidewalk in the middle of the block. The early spring-like weather had a mob in town, strolling the shops and enjoying the gift of warm weather. The natives to the area knew, of course, that this was indeed a gift and winter still had some fight left in her. But, for this day or however long it lasted, they were going to make the most of it. So, when Mitch jumps the slush and melting snow in the gutter to land on the sidewalk in front of me and takes me into his arms with a big smile and even bigger kiss, it is on a sidewalk crowded with people. I giggle with some embarrassment at the public display but I am quickly over that when the kiss continues. I wrap one leg around his as he pulls me into him with more feeling and pressure, seemingly attempting to feel more of me pressed against him despite the thick winter jacks we still have to be wearing.

When he releases me, our upper bodies separate but my leg is still wrapped around his and I gasp at the emotion just expressed by my ‘non-public displaying man’, the intensity of the feelings I just experienced as a result, and the need to refresh my lungs with air. It is another moment before I realize that much of the crowd around us has stopped where they were to watch us with large smiles, maybe taking this display as another sign of impending spring and budding newness after another hard winter. It is another moment, as my leg unwinds from around his, that I recognize the sound of soft clapping and giggles from young girls. My blush is immediate and deep.

Mitch’s cell phone chimes the arrival of a text, which diverts us from the attention of the crowd and they disperse as our attention turns to a more mundane part of life. He looks at it curiously because he never gets a text, few people even know about his cell phone number. He fusses internally for a moment, he has kept this number twice as long as his routine would dictate only because it has aided in communicating with Agent Baxter, but the case is winding down now. It seemed from our perspective the case was over except for the trial and we, or I, wouldn’t be a part of that, anyway. The federal assistant attorney for the region was close to going into trial and she assured me that I wasn’t going to be required to testify, the other two slaves (women) would be sufficient.

Standing on the sidewalk, the crowd again milling around and ignoring us, he finally looks at the text: ‘I am in Alamosa. I was planning to contact you for a meeting. I thought I saw your truck going the other direction. Meet me at Kay’s Café to talk in fifteen minutes.’ Kay’s Café? We’ve never been to that one. We didn’t know where it was. Mitch was mumbling to himself, curious why Baxter would assume we knew about it; and why didn’t the text show up as ‘Agent Baxter’? His private cell phone? Baxter would surely being a cell phone if he was in town and calling quickly after spotting the truck. Maybe it wasn’t so odd, after all. While he was pondering that issue, though, I spotted Kay’s across the street. It was the second store front from the corner. It was a small little coffee shop/café with a doorway in the middle and two large windows on either side. The window on the left was painted with ‘Kay’s’ and the one on the left ‘Café and Coffee’.

I point across the street. Despite being near the corner, he takes my hand in his and jaywalks directly across to the entrance. We have to run to avoid an oncoming car and jump the slush at the other gutter. Inside, it seems quiet but nice, peaceful, and homey. I have even got into his habit or just became accustomed to his habit or preference and go to the corner booth on the left side. A middle aged server arrives quickly and takes our order of coffee, dark roast and black. Mitch is sitting on the side with his back to the wall while I am across from him, my back to the rest of the café. Since Mitch seems preoccupied, I volunteer to the server that we are waiting for another. She smiles and has our coffee to us in only moments. They are served in large heavy mugs, the kind that will hold the heat of the coffee for a long time. Clearly, this is a place that welcomes customers to sit and relax. Soft and gentle is coming from speakers that I can’t find, it seems to surround us. At a table nearby is a woman with her laptop. Wi-Fi must be available here, also.

We wait. It has to have been more than fifteen minutes, not that it has been a problem, Mitch and I spend a lot of time just being together these days, talking, sharing, and even just looking into each other’s eyes. We are just happy and content in our company. We do order some apple pie and a re-fill of coffee. We wait some more. Still, no Baxter. With a bit of exasperation, Mitch calls Baxter’s number, not the number on the text.

“Are you coming?”

“Coming where? What are you talking about?”

“Your text said to meet you at Kay’s Café in Alamosa.”

“Mitch, dammit! What’s wrong with you! Why would I send you a text?!?”

“Dammit!” And, Mitch realizes his carelessness. His eyes are scanning the café but only sees the same people who have largely ignored us the entire time we have been there.

“I’m sending the team that has been watching the house. Are you carrying?”

“Yes, but just a single ‘nine’.”

“I’ll have them hurry. Don’t shoot them, they will be the ones with FBI on their armor vests.”

Mitch doesn’t laugh. He is completely disappointed in himself. Our life had seemed so normal and safe, with seemingly ample time passing since the threat of retaliation had been identified. With his eyes scanning the outside of the café and the street, he calls the waitress and asks for the manager. A woman of about fifty arrives promptly with a wide smile on her face, drying her hands on her apron.

“I am sorry, ma’am. I am a federal agent and I think I have been led into a trap right here. I really am sorry. What I need you to do is please get all your customers and service people into the back and against walls. I assume there is a back service door to the alley, please lock it. Please hurry.”

He told me to go with them, but I refused. He was arguing with me and I with him until he suddenly stopped, his eyes fixed outside.

“Get under the table and against the outside wall!” This was no suggestion or request. This was him being completely in charge and directing what had to be done for our survival. As I twisted to slip under the table, my eyes spotted four men walking across the street. Two on each end held some kind of automatic assault weapons. One of the two in the middle had a shotgun. The other had a large pistol. After that quick look I was under the table. Under there I scanned the back of the café and found nobody. The manager had successfully moved the other six people into the kitchen area.

Mitch wanted me under the table because of the approach they were making on the café and I wouldn’t have time and be too exposed to now make it to the relative safety of the kitchen. He also knew that he had to remain behind. If there was nobody in the main part of the café, they would search in back where everyone else was hiding.

There was no subtlety in the attack. The two men with automatic weapons approaching the two large windows opened fire on full automatic fire. I could hear screaming outside of the building as people reacted to and ran to avoid the attack on the small café. The men had to know that such an attack would bring the local police quickly so they were brazen. As the two men unloaded their second escort bursa magazine through the now shattered windows, tearing up countertop, table tops, chairs and everything else in the way, the two other men charged though the front door. They turned in opposite directions but neither found a target. It became very quiet except for the men’s boots crunching on the broken glass that now covered the floor. The man on our side was walking diagonally to search the most area quickest. When he was in line and about to spot Mitch and I under the corner table, Mitch slid out and shot the man in the knee, which was about what he could see. He then turned rolled and turned, shot the other man with three shots. When the first man fell, it was towards us and he dropped his weapon as he did. Mitch put another shot into his head.

There were at least two more men and time was wasting. They were either going to come in quickly, because of the sounds of sirens in the distance, or they were going to run. I was hoping for the latter, but it was the first. Mitch reached for the automatic weapon, checked the magazine, seemed satisfied, and slid his pistol to me. I u*********sly checked to make sure the safety was off and a round was chambered, even though I knew he had just been firing it.

Mitch slid across the floor and behind an overturned table to separate himself from me. Despite the fact that they were after me, they would have to react to any gun fire and that would be from him.

The next thing I heard was charging feet and a rapid fire of shots from the weapon Mitch had pointed around the side of the table. Then it was quiet. Quiet except for some moaning, I hoped from one of the men because from what I could see, Mitch was acting okay. He remained behind the table and shifting to the other side to peek around that side. Then he was in a crouching position, the weapon at his shoulder and ready.

I saw him move out of sight. I presumed he was checking the men. Suddenly, the sounds were of sirens coming in our direction, still some distance away, but moving quickly. Then, “Stop right there. Drop the weapon and turn around.” I heard something hit the floor and rattle as it came to a stop. “Where is she.”

“Who?”

“Who the hell are you? You know the woman this is about. Where is she?”

There was nothing, only the shuffling of feet. It was an odd sound, like each step, left or right, was more of a drag than a step. But I pushed that out, Mitch was in danger and because of me. I peeked out from under the booth and saw that he only made perfunctory check of the tables and booths. He already seemed fixed on the counter and door leading to the kitchen. He was prodding Mitch in that direction. I didn’t have a clear view from under the booth table so I had to move out, rose to one knee and aimed, just like I had been taught. It was Banks. That was why each step sounded like a foot being dragged. Both knees were heavily braced.

“Asshole!” He turned around, startled and angry at his stupidity. At least I hoped so. I hoped that was the last thought in his mind because at that very moment I squeezed off a single shot that hit him in his left eye as he was turning in that direction toward me.

Mitch seemed to almost catch the weapon that dropped from his hands and looked about to fire. But there was no movement. None.

I was about to relax, finally, but … “You … inside the café … you’re surrounded, front and back. There is no way out.” There was a slight pause and I looked to Mitch. He seemed to smile.

“The cavalry has arrived.”

“Drop your weapons … put your hands above your heads and come out slowly.”

I think they were actually surprised when we did. Funny thing about adrenaline; I recognized Mitch’s joke about the cavalry and smiled in return. I was casual but very careful not to make any sudden moves in leaving the shattered café. It wasn’t until after that it started sinking in, and it wasn’t very much after. We were taken by a couple cops each, handcuffed with our hands behind our backs and taken to separate police cars. Before anyone even came to the car I was in to talk to me, to ask me questions, I had lost it. The adrenaline gone, spent, consumed by my nervous system, I fell apart. The fear that adrenaline had pushed aside, the thoughts of close it had been that Mitch might have been killed, that others in the café might have been injured … that I might have been killed … all rushed in.

Mitch was nearly ready to kill someone else for keeping us apart, especially when he caught sight of me in the throes of hysterical sobs in the other car. The police intentions and reasons were legitimate, of course. They had to first determine what had happened and why. Two things happen in near simultaneous events that straightened everything out: first, the owner of the café identified Mitch as the one who had taken quick action that saved the reason of the customers and staff; second, was the arrival of the FBI stake-out team who were able to positively identify us and clear us. While we were being questioned by a small team of police an hour later, Baxter also arrived on the scene. But, now, the group questioning us was also made-up of FBI people. It seemed to take on a life of its own, but at least I had Mitch’s arm around me.

Mitch was taken back into the café, what was left of it, for a break-down of what happened and where. The lab people would process the evidence and develop their own conclusions and report, but both the local police and FBI agreed that his account sounded right.

Mitch, on his way out of the café, spotted the owner with police and the staff. He waved to me, I think to let me know that it was okay. Okay? Maybe not ‘okay’. Probably he meant we were almost done here. I watched him walk over to the owner. As he approached, she seemed to start crying and threw her arms around him. He was back in his awkward mode with crying women. I guess it was still awkward unless it was me … They talked for a few more minutes, she was watching his face intently as he talked and she became more animated as he talked. At the end, she threw her arms around him, again. She didn’t quickly release him this time. She then looked a little embarrassed and shook his hand.

When he came to me, I hugged him. Then, “What was that all about?”

“Women! All I wanted to tell her was that I would see to it that her place was remodeled exactly the way she wanted it. That she shouldn’t worry about the money, I would be in touch soon to work it out.”

I hugged him, again. Without breaking the hug, “You’re such a softy.”

He chuckled, “Don’t let anyone else hear that, okay?” I laughed with him. How does he do it. He is joking shortly after what just happened.

Agent Baxter walked up to us. “You two are okay to leave. I told the locals that you could be reached through me, that it was a federal thing.”

“Thanks, Baxter. I mean it. But … listen, there has to be a leak in your group somewhere. How else could Banks have gotten my cell phone number?”

Baxter looked at Mitch for several minutes, running through the knowledge, the facts, the logic of what he was just told. “Damn! Okay, you have to be right. His eyes were blazing with anger. It was obviously by his reaction that he realized the same thing. I knew that he would find the source … and that poor person.

We were half-way home when I fell apart hard. Mitch pulled over to the side of the lonely county road. The truck was half way in the ditch to be off the road surface. When I opened the door to get out for fresh air, I tumbled out into the ditch. I stumble through the ditch and fell into a fence … a barbed wire fence. I scream hysterically as the memories came flooding back, filling my mind, my brain with all the pain, terror, and hopelessness of that day. It was like the large stream that cascades from the mountains to the north into our lake. Fallen trees had completely blocked it, filling and overflowing where water wasn’t meant to flow. Mitch blew the jam apart with a grenade that he had me practice with. The water went down the proper channel in a torrent, crashing against rocks, boulders, and trees. Nothing seemed safe in its path … nothing could stop it, again. That was what this was like, a torrent of emotion and pain and misery crashing over my being.

I find myself in his arms. I don’t know when it happened. I remembered the barbed wire fence … then nothing. Then, I was in his arms. I was shaking, shivering, convulsing with sobs and wracked with anguish. He just held me, like he can, like maybe only he can. Time didn’t seem to matter, how long he held me wasn’t important, wasn’t relevant. But, in his arms I calmed down, my anguish simmered to sniffles and an occasional sob.

“I killed someone.”

“Yes.”

“I ended someone’s life.”

“Thank you.”

“What?”

“Cat, it was him or me. Thank you.” That brings a first smile, small, fleeting, but it was. “You shot him before.”

“In the knees. This time …”

“Did you have a choice, Cat?”

“No.”

“And you’re still feeling bad?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I never intended you to be a killer by training you, only so you could defend yourself. You did that. Actually, you defended me. Killing isn’t easy, and it should be a moral problem.”

“Is it for you?”

He didn’t want to look at me, I could tell. I forced our eye contact. “No. It isn’t for me.” He stared into my eyes. There were things going on behind them, again. I could feel it, even see it. “We don’t need someone else who is insensitive to killing in this family.” He kissed me lightly on the forehead. “Let’s go home.”

For a long time after that, the drive was quiet. The sun had set behind the mountains while we stood in that ditch. Now I stared out of the truck window into the darkness … again. I seemed to be staring into the darkness when I am working things out. And, I was working out two things simultaneously. One was that I had just taken a life, but that was working itself out. The FBI, Sheriff, and Mitch all called it justified and self-defense. The other?

I saw Mitch watching me, again. And, again, it was his face illuminated by the dash reflecting in the dark window in front of me. “Are you okay, honey?”

Honey? We’re changing, our familiarity, our comfortable approach to each other. “Yeah, I was just thinking about something you said?”

“What was that?”

I was nervous, should I utter it now? I was so tired, my brain seemed frayed by everything. “Never mind. I’m too tired to think. Later, okay?” Of course, it was. But the thought wasn’t leaving me, not really, not even close. I just didn’t dare ask him about it. He said, ‘in this family’. He also said, ‘let’s go home’.

* * CHAPTER NINE will follow * * Thanks for reading.

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