Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Three Hundred and Forty-one: No one to save you

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Friday night — 5:25 p.m.
New York City, NY

Sissy had been waiting for Ivan for ten minutes when he finally appeared from the Administration Office. She gave him a sour look.

“Change of pace,” he said. “You wait for me.”

He gave her a charming smile and she shook her head at him. They were walking toward the door when the ballerina from this morning joined them. She leaned into Ivan and he put his arm around her. Sissy scowled.

“Uspokoit’sya,” Ivan said to Sissy.

She knew it meant “settle down” or something like that in Russian. Ivan used it to tell her to mind her own business or, basically, to shut up. She sneered and he did something odd. Like she was in on some joke, he winked at her.

They waited inside the glass doors for the limousine to pick them up.

“I spoke with MJ,” Ivan said. “We decide to take our hardworking girls out to dinner.”

He made a slight gesture toward the ballerina. Sissy took that to mean that the ballerina was coming with them.

“Where are we going?” Sissy asked.

“We are going for sushi,” Ivan said. “Then Sabrina and I will dance. You watch us until time for bed, if you’d like.”

“Sandy’s calling tonight,” Sissy said. “I talked to her at lunch.”

“As did I.” Ivan gave Sissy a warm smile. “Ah, they are here.”

Ivan and the ballerina moved as one unit out onto the sidewalk. Sissy groaned at herself. She hated the fact that she cared that the ballerina was there. In all of their years together, Ivan had had many girlfriends. Girls, and even some women, liked Ivan and he liked them. She hated the fact that she was now hanging on his every gesture. She hated the fact that she cared.

“Sissy,” Ivan said in an even tone.

She ran out to the car and hopped in. She scooted in next to Noelle. Ivan and the ballerina sat across from them.

“Who are you?” Noelle asked.

“Sabrina,” the woman purred with just a touch of superiority to put Noelle in her place.

“Ok,” Noelle said. Never one to miss the subtleties of conversation, Noelle gave the woman a disgusted look and turned to Sissy.

Sabrina looked at Ivan. He was whispering back and forth with the ballerina. MJ watched them for a moment, scowled, and shook his head. Sissy smiled. Never subtle, MJ clearly didn’t like bubble headed women any more than Sissy or Noelle did.

“Where are we going?” Noelle asked Sissy.

“Ivan said sushi,” Sissy said.

“Yum,” Noelle said. “Any idea why this happened?”

“I guess because of…” Sissy flicked her eyes toward the ballerina.

Noelle giggled.

“How was today?” Sissy asked something to get Noelle talking.

“Great!” Noelle launched into a detailed replay of her day that Charlie had always called the “Noelle report.” Sissy loved the Noelle report. Noelle had almost gotten to lunch when they pulled up in front of a fancy Manhattan sushi restaurant.

MJ got out first to check the area. Ivan followed and helped the ballerina out next. Sissy got out after the ballerina.

“You will eat only one sushi. No rolls. No more rice,” Ivan said under his breath. “Then only Sashimi. Salad. In fact, I will order for you. You eat what I order.”

Used to Ivan, Sissy nodded. Noelle linked arms with her and they went into the sushi restaurant together. MJ followed up.

“Ivan!” the maître d’ said.

The men hugged like old friends. He gave the ballerina an assessing look and grinned at Ivan. He looked at Noelle and took Sissy’s hand.

“You must be Sissy,” the maître d’ said. “It’s a real pleasure.”

“You have to watch this guy,” Ivan said.

He shifted his body to create a space between Sissy and the maître d’. The man laughed.

“Right this way!” the maître d’ said.

Ivan waited for the others to go and walked right behind Sissy.

“I want you to know that I heard you this morning. All school and too much Ivan is hard for a young girl,’” Ivan said under his breath. “This restaurant is owned by the man you call ‘Otis.’ Very popular. Very expensive. You get to go out on the town and still stay safe.”

She turned her head to smile her thanks at him. He gave her a nod and a nudge forward. When they got to the table, the ballerina looked up. She gave Ivan a charming smile. When he sat down, she scowled at Sissy.

“Come sit by me,” Noelle said pointing to a seat next to her. When Sissy sat down, Noelle whispered, “You know, her face is going to get stuck like that.”

Sissy laughed and Noelle giggled.

“What can I bring the ladies?” the waiter asked, and dinner began.


Friday night — 7:20 p.m.
Phoenix, Arizona

Yvonne opened her eyes the moment he stepped foot inside their room. It took her a moment to remember where she was. By some miracle, she remembered that she and Rodney had gone to bed early because they were leaving a three in the morning. They’d made love and fallen asleep in each other’s arms. She heard a rush of movement and the bedside table lamp turned on.

The financier was standing in the doorway to the room. There were two bigger men standing next to him. Another man held a shotgun to Rodney’s bare chest.

“Yvie, no matter what…” Rodney started.

The man smacked Rodney with the butt of the gun, and placed the barrel of the gun over his heart again.

“I offer you the same agreement you had with Aaron Alvin,” the financier said. “You come with me without a fight. I will make sure your family isn’t killed. Your daughter will continue at medical school. Rodney Smith can live out his life in Denver. I will ensure not a hair on their heads is harmed.”

Looking at the man’s face, she saw a momentary flash of a pink light. The man’s eyes registered the light by blinking, but the man didn’t seem to notice the light.

“You promise to leave my family alone?” Yvonne asked.

“I will treat you better,” the financier said. “I have more money, more influence. You will travel the world.”

“But I will have to do whatever you say, whenever you say, with whomever you say,” Yvonne said.

“Of course,” the financier said. “I could always just take you from here. I wanted to give you a chance to make a choice.”

Yvonne got up from the bed.

“Yvie…” Rodney pleaded.

The man hit him again. She couldn’t stand to look at him. Instead, she started to slowly dress. The men looked like statues around the room. She could hear Rodney crying for her. Just before she turned on the bathroom light, she saw a flash of tiny pink and blue light. One of the big men followed her into the bathroom. She used the bathroom and put on her makeup.

“You can leave your belongings,” the financier said. “Our first stop will be shopping spree in Paris. You do like Paris, don’t you?”

Yvonne’s eyes instinctively flicked to Rodney. His face was battered but his eyes seemed calmer. She covered her surprise with a nod to the financier.

“Come now,” the financier said.

She gave Rodney one last sad smile. The financier took her arm and they walked out into the suite. They had put a chair under the door to Bumpy and Dionne’s room.

“No one to save you,” the financier said. He took a deep breath. “You belong to me now.”

The shotgun went off.


Friday night — 9:25 p.m.
New York, New York

They had stayed so long at dinner that they had to race back to talk to Sandy. It was now clearly too late to dance, but the ballerina, Sabrina, was still with them. Ivan and Sabrina had shared a couple of warm Sakes. They were relaxed and happy. Noelle and Sissy shared a look as to exactly what kind of dancing would happen when they got back.

The limousine pulled up to the apartment and Ivan got out. He helped Sabrina out and they started inside. Sissy got out and turned to get her bag. The bag got wedged into the door opening. Sissy tugged on it while Noelle pushed from the inside.

“You Sissy Delgado?” a man’s voice came from a few feet away.

“Yeah?” Sissy said without looking. She wrenched her bag out of the limousine and started across the sidewalk. Noelle got out after her and MJ came the last.

Sissy took two steps when she saw something hit the building and splatter stone shards in Ivan’s face. Ivan’s hands went to his face at the same moment Sissy felt a sharp pain in her ribs. She took another step and fell onto her bag.

She heard MJ yell. Noelle’s feet swung just inches above her face when MJ picked up Noelle and swung her out of view of the man. It took a moment before she heard someone screaming and another moment before realizing it was Sabrina. Ms. Behur’s door guards ran out of the apartment after the man.

“Ivan?” Sissy tried to yell but it came out as a whisper.

His face appeared. There were tiny bleeding cuts on his beautiful face. He pulled off his eyewear and she saw for the first time that his eyes were charcoal-blue with flecks of brown. He grabbed her hand and held on tight. She saw MJ’s face before he started working on her side. She smiled at Ivan.

“Thanks,” Sissy whispered, “… for every… thing.”

And the world went black.


Friday night — 7:25 p.m.
Anschutz Medical Center, Aurora, Colorado

“Okay, I give,” Fin said.

He and Tanesha had been studying for midterms in a library study room since they got out of class.

“I don’t think I can do anymore,” Fin said.

“Fairies are weak,” Tanesha said.

“Of course,” Fin said. “That’s part of our charm.”

“Yeah right,” Tanesha said.

“What?” Fin acted offended.

“You have no charm,” Tanesha said.

“I’m a prince!” Fin said with a laugh.

“Oooh!” Tanesha said with a grin.

Fin laughed.

“Are you ready for this test?” Tanesha asked. “You know we need to ace this stuff.”

“And we will,” Fin said.

“Without cheating?” Tanesha asked.

“Cheating?” Fin asked. “Me? What do you take me for?”

“Fine,” Tanesha said. “No fairy magic?”

“No magic,” Fin said. “All brain power.”

“Good,” Tanesha said.

Tanesha smiled at him and began stuffing things into her bag. She’d just put her textbook inside when the door opened.

“You Tanesha Smith?” a man asked.

He was big and square looking with slightly crossed eyes. He clearly wasn’t a medical student.

“Who wants to know?” Fin asked.

The man revealed a handgun in his hand.

“Wait!” Tanesha yelled.

The man fired the weapon at her.


Friday night — 7:25 p.m.
Denver, Colorado

“That’s weird,” Tink said.

She was holding Heather’s newborn while Heather snuggled with Mack on the bed. The doctor had requested that Heather spend another night in the hospital so that she could rest.

“What’s weird?” Heather asked.

“There’s a guy who keeps walking past our room,” Tink said. “I’ve seen him do it three times. He walks up to the door, and then someone comes down the hallway. He walks off.”

“Oh yea?” Heather sat up and looked toward the window in the door.

She caught sight of a man with a beard in a red cap.

“You think…?” Tink asked.

“I do,” Heather said.

She grabbed Mack and got out of bed. When the man walked off, they slipped out of the room. They scooted across the hall and into the nurse station. On Heather’s instruction, Tink crawled under the desk with the new baby. She gave Mack to Tink and pushed a chair in to cover them. Crouching low, Heather grabbed the phone and dialed zero.

“We need help,” Heather whispered into the phone.

Just then, a man in a red knit cap appeared above the counter. He pulled out a handgun and fired at Heather.


Friday night — 7:26 p.m.
Phoenix, Arizona

Yvonne let out a scream when the shotgun went off.

“You see,” the financier smiled. “Your family is now quite safe.”

The financier grabbed her arm and marched her out of the suite.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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