Chapter 2: You Know Better, Babe, Than To Talk To It Like That

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The instant he shoved open the door into the sub-street-level landing of the bar entrance he felt it. It was sleeting. And Eliot hadn't grabbed his coat. Was only in an untucked cotton oxford, sleeves rolled up around his forearms, and jeans.

Perfect.

Eliot gritted his teeth and ran up the stairs, the cement steps already turning slippery under his workboots. At the top of the stairs Eliot looked right, then left. The city street was empty, of cars and people and innocent women he'd made cry, the blobs of streetlight with the sleet hissing past them only making the street look more lonely.

"Shit," he cursed. Where could she... He looked down -- and saw the streak of her snow boots in the gathered slush on the sidewalk. It was heartbreaking to see that she'd been rushing, running to get away from the humiliation he'd caused her. But her slipping and sliding foot steps turned to the left, in an alley between the next building and the one beside it. Why would she have gone that way? Was it a short cut? Was she trying to hide from him?

Eliot had dropped the scarf and was running before his brain had fully registered what he'd heard -- a muffled shriek in the alley. His blood ran colder than the sleet dripping down his skin.

Thank God for the narrow alley. It blocked the worst of the wet and Eliot was able to get traction, dig in his boots and run faster. Run faster to the opposite end of the long alley where a van's door was thrown open on the street and three men dressed in black and wearing ski masks were trying to shove Sabrina inside.

Good girl. Even with her feet and body lifted, Sabrina twisted and fought like a feral thing, her multi-colored braid whipping around her. One thug grunted, snapping his hand back from Sabrina's snarling teeth. It gave her just enough time to see Eliot racing down the alley for her.

"Eliot!" she screamed, her eyes wild.

Her scream clawed into Eliot, whipped him faster. But it took away his advantage. Glancing up and seeing the hell bearing down on them gave the men the spurt of strength they needed to toss her inside the van. One jumped in beside her and slammed the door shut while the other two raced for the driver and passenger side doors.

Eliot leapt onto the van's running board just as the van screeched away from the curb, catching the passenger door before it slammed closed. He shoved the door open and grabbed the gun the ski-masked man was pulling from his pocket, throwing it to the floor. As the car picked up speed, Eliot dodged two punches and then leaned out just enough to get some give on the flopping seatbelt. Confident that Eliot was falling, the man leaned out to give him a shove. Eliot had the belt wrapped around the man's neck before he knew what was happening.

Eliot leaped into the van as it took a screeching turn of a corner and gave an elbow jab to the driver's nose as he choked out Mr. Seatbelt. When he felt the man slump, Eliot turned to slam his boot on the break while he gave three punishing punches to the driver's sternum. Following his body's instinct to curl up on itself, the man took his foot off the gas. Eliot punched him one more time to his already broken nose, and it was lights out for the driver.

As Eliot slid the van's gears into "Park" in the middle of the empty city street, he heard the door slide open. He looked out the passenger window.

The man held an ashen Sabrina against him, a black-coated arm around her waist and a dull black Sig P320 pressed to her temple. He backed away slowly from the van, pulling her stiffly with him as Eliot opened the passenger door and stepped out, pushing his soaked hair back and squinting his eyes against the sleet.

"Don't you fucking move," the man warned.

Eliot planted himself, but kept his sights on the man's trigger finger as he and Sabrina inched backwards. "You don't want to do this, man," Eliot growled.

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