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Pen Your Pride

Chapter Twenty-Eight ~Travis~

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Fucking surreal. Those are the only two words I can find to describe this moment. Maddie is actually here, sitting in the passenger seat beside me. Her eyes are closed, and she's smiling with a look of contentment on her face. Inhaling deeply, she releases her breath on a sigh and opens her eyes to find me watching her. The soft smile playing across her full lips slowly morphs into a huge grin, and so does mine.

"I hate to break up the lovefest taking place between you two, but don't you need to call Jim?" Sanders chimes in from the seat behind me.

Looking in the rearview mirror, I reach into my pocket for my cell, hold it in the air and respond, "Yes, dear."

"Yes dear? Did I hear that right?" he says with a shocked expression on his face. Raising up both hands he continues, "Hold up everyone, if each of you would take a moment to look out the window closest to you and check the sky for flying pigs, I'd really appreciate it."

Maddie giggles, and Sanders rolls down his window. Sticking his head out, he searches the night sky.

"Not a pig in sight!" he yells with his head still outside. Pulling it back in the SUV, he starts rolling up the window and continues, "Shit, if it wasn't so dark out, I'd have you all searchin' the trees for a fat lady swingin."

"The fat lady doesn't swing you Moron. She sings," Aiden speaks up on a chuckle, and we all begin to laugh, except for Becca who remains quiet in the back seat.

Looking over to Aiden, Sanders replies, "Look pretty boy--"

"You can say that again," Danielle interrupts, eyeballing Aiden from the very back seat.

The sudden ringing of my cellphone interrupts the current banter and immediately silences everyone in the car. Seeing Jim's name on the screen, I answer.

"Hey Jim. I was just about to call you."

"Everyone's okay?" he asks.

"Yes, we're okay," I respond.

"Great. I'm gonna need to make this quick Travis. As you can imagine, shit is hitting the proverbial fan back at the compound. The Colonel has implemented a mandatory, 48 hour no fly zone over California."

"He has the authority to do that?" I respond. This wasn't a scenario we ever discussed during planning.

"You hog tied a highly decorated Colonel of The Militia, and locked him in a room within his own compound, Son. That doesn't sit well with a man like him or his overblown ego. He wants retribution, so he made some calls. We'd already disabled the copter at the compound to buy you some time, but that doesn't account for men on the ground he's already dispatched, or the air support he's probably called in from other locations. I'd get off the road as soon as you can."

"Alright. I'll contact you once we're settled."

"And I'll be in touch if anything changes," Jim responds and hangs up the phone.

"We need to get off the road," I begin, eyeing Sanders through the rearview mirror. "The Colonel issued a no fly zone order over California for the next forty-eight."

"He doesn't have that kind of pull," Sanders replies, obviously as surprised as I was upon hearing this information.

"I guess he knows people that do. He's pissed about being hog tied and locked up," I respond and can't help but chuckle.

"Oh is the poor Colonel upset?" Danielle asks sarcastically. "How does it feel asshole?"

"No kidding," Maddie agrees.

"What a hypocrite," Alex chimes in.

"The chopper at the compound was disabled to buy us some time," I explain, "but Jim thinks the Colonel's probably requested air support from local resources to track us. We're gonna need to lay low until the no-fly is over and Brad can send a copter to lift us out."

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