"Rock." She whispered. No response. "Rock!" a bit louder this time. Nothing. Standing cautiously she moved closer to him and put her hand gently on his leg. Lily gasped as he came suddenly alive and pushed the barrel of the gun into her forehead. Rock saw his mistake immediately and put it down. "Lily! Oh god, I'm sorry sweetheart. Are you okay?" Lily closed her sagging jaw and released her breath. "Jesus Christ, Rock, if you wanted to kill me...." "You startled me. Reflexes." Lily scrunched her nose up in a child like, albeit attractive, manner and said, "I gotta pee." Rock came to his feet and lead her to the front where they had come in and a smaller door was nearby. Opening it, daylight spilled into the small cave and the singing of birds could be heard. "Third bush on the right is good." Rock quipped. Lily shot him an ungrateful look and headed out to do her business. Rock waited until she returned, closing the door tightly behind them. "How's your head?" He asked. "Much better now. It'll stay on I think." Crossing to the car, she retrieved her backpack. She laid out the pants, boots, and shirt she had packed. Rock shuffled around nervously for a moment before asking, "Should I turn my back or something?" A half grin twisted Lily's lips. "If you think you should. If not, and it's something you've never seen before, shoot it." And with that, Lily pulled off her sweater, now crushed, bloodstained and matted. She removed her bra holster and pulled the Kevlar shirt over her head. A quick tug on the zipper of her skirt sent it to the floor at her feet. Rock cleared his throat, but did not look away, and Lily looked up to see him staring. She smiled inwardly as she pulled up the leather pants and zipped them up. Lastly she crossed back to the cot, boots and backpack in hand. She sat down and pulled the boots up to her knees and covered them with the pants. She sighed and put her head in her hands. What was she going to do now? There was George and Rupert to take home, Rock to deal with, and only a few weeks before her next job. Not quite two weeks actually. She expected her contact any day now with details. She heard Rock move finally to come stand near her. Coming to a decision, Lily rummaged around in her backpack and produced a small cell phone. Deftly flipping it open she dialed a series of numbers, waited then dialed some more numbers and hung up. Rock looked at her and asked, "What now? Is that safe?"
"Now," Lily said as she lay back onto her elbows,laying the phone on her belly, "we wait for an answer, and to your second question, it's as safe as life it's self." His mouth made a grim line across his face as Lily maintained a smirk. She couldn't afford to show her weakness now when she felt so vulnerable, so pitifully weak. "Who did you call?" Rock asked in a demanding way.
"I really don't think that's any of your business, especially since you seemed to be determined to be the end of me."
"Me?! I saved you!" He protested. "But if not for you, I wouldn't be being hunted at all, now would I?" He said nothing but the muscle twitching in his cheek betrayed his anger. Rock crossed to the desk chair and sat with arms folded as Lily looked around the cave. George and Rupert had woke up and were sharing a bag of chips from Rock's stash. Lily's phone rang and all eyes focused on her as she answered. "Yeah?...Uh huh....uh huh...I haven't the vaguest, hold on." Turning to Rock she asked "Where are we? City-wise?" He supplied the answer and Lily returned to the phone. "Just outside Riverton, and you are....?" "Okay, get me a ticket for there one way, United Airlines, use Roxanne White, five pm or later...Today....No,wait, make it two, I have something here that belongs to you. Call me with problems, okay? Okay. Talk to you soon." She put her phone away and looked up into three expectant faces. "Well boys, I'm ready if you are." Rupert looked nervous, as usual. "W-where are we going?" he asked.
"You, are coming with me, George we will drop where ever it is he wants to go, and the same goes for you Rock, unless you have alternate transportation." Of the three, only Rupert looked satisfied. "I wanna come, I wanna come!!" George cried, jumping up and down like a kid. Rock turned and said, "Me too, but not because I want to, but because you need me more than you know." Lily arched a dubious eyebrow at rock and snorted. "I need you, huh?" "You'll need my protection."
"HA! That's a laugh, and who,pray tell, will protect me from you ?" Her face grew serious as she thought about it and decided, "Then again, you may be useful to me yet. You have a lot of answers I need. George, you are right out of the question. You have a real life."George looked crestfallen. He put his hands in his pockets and scuffed the toe of his boot on the floor. Looking up with a hopeful half smile he said, "But we're dark for a few more weeks while the new show loads in. Pleeease?" Lily stared at him as he went through a series of ‘pretty-please' looks, puppy-eyes and the like. Lily rolled her eyes and sighed. "Alright, alright, enough." She flipped her phone open again and when the return call came she simply said, "Make that four tickets."
Soon the Chevy Impala was speeding down the highway toward the airport. Lily checked her watch and then checked the mirror and began changing lanes toward an exit.
"Where..." Rock began.
"Stores. I have no clothes, luggage, et cetera and neither do any of you. Airlines tend to be suspicious of this sort of thing, so, I'm afraid it's inevitable. Were going to have to shop!" Lily replied with mock gravity.
"Such a hardship for you!" George quipped. Lily met his smiling eyes in the rearview and couldn't help but laugh. Everyone who knew her, knew she loved to shop. They pulled into the mall parking lot and Lily looked at Rock.
"Think we'll be okay here?" she asked.
"I think we're relatively safe here." Lily nodded and patted her derringer in her waistband to assure herself it was there. Turning to her passengers with a smile she said, "Let's do it."
Shopping was just what Lily needed to refresh her hope. First a quick stop at a luggage shop, then onto Eddie Bauer for the boys. This was a perfect store for tough, rugged gear and highly serviceable clothes. George took his time and carefully considered each item of clothing for it's possibilities, Rupert bounced around joyfully, picking out this and that as if he'd never shopped before in his life, Rock found a style he liked and brought a stack of the same shirt and pants to the counter and went to stand in the mall walkway, leaning against the railing in, what Lily thought was an exaggerated casual fashion. Always paranoid. Still alive though, too. She tried to give credit where credit was due. When the boys were finally done and final selections brought to the register Lily supplied the gushing clerk with one of her many credit cards. His eyebrows went up as he looked at her platinum American express card. The clerk looked at her and finally asked, "May I see some ID please?" Rupert looked nervous and looked first at Lily, then George and then out to Rock. Rock caught this look and noticed how nervous Rupert looked and moved slowly back into the store, casually reaching his hand around his back to feel for his weapon. Lily smiled disarmingly at the clerk and produced a driver's license to match the credit card. The clerk checked the signatures and gave the ID back with a sheepish smile. "Sorry to trouble you Ms White, it was just such a large transaction, you understand, and I felt it was my duty to check." Lily smiled with her mouth but her eyes were like steel as she replied.
"Yes, I understand, but I also understand the reason I have a platinum card is so I may make large transactions without hassle. So, do hurry, My brothers and I are on our way to our father's funeral and the airline has lost all of our luggage." The clerk seemed embarrassed and quickly and quietly finished the transaction. Rock had heard this and was still smiling when Lily turned to face him. Lily felt a mild surprise at the look of amused tenderness on his face. It elicited a response from Lily she didn't quite understand, and she experienced a flush of warmth and dropped her gaze. George grabbed the bags and said over loudly, "Okay sis, let's go get you some clothes." She grinned at him and when he held up an arm to invite her into his embrace, she slipped an arm around his waist and walked along to the next store this way. Rock's happiness seemed to have evaporated and a grim, tight look replaced his earlier pleasure. Rupert, a very sensitive youth, followed along slowly, confused at the emotions displayed and the things that went unspoken.
George and Lily clowned around the rest of the trip around the mall. Rock became even quieter, if that were possible, and Rupert more worried. Lily was aware of Rocks increasing tension and was almost enjoying it when he looked up and stopped them all in their tracks. He was looking in the direction of the phone kiosks, and saw an assassin from the reunion. He alerted Lily quietly to the danger and she thought quickly. Followed? When? Not likely, No, this smacked of coincidence. She turned to the group.
"Quickly, turn and walk the other way. Go into the candle shop on the corner, as a group, then walk away individually and meet back at the car." The group turned like well seasoned troupes and walked calmly to the designated shop. Once inside, Lily whispered, " Split up, leave a few moments after one another, go all directions and meet at the car...now." George immediately dropped into character and browsed a moment before glancing at his watch and taking his leave. Rupert bought a single votive candle and non chalantly cruised away from the store as well. Lily looked at Rock, who motioned to her as if to say, you next, she shook her head slightly. From the vantage point she had, she could see the thug still standing by the phones, though he did not see her. Lily almost jumped out of her skin when the clerk came up to ask if she could help. Regaining her composure, Lily smiled and asked the clerk about the possibilities of having gifts shipped since she traveling and didn't want to carry them with. The clerk assured her it would be no problem and Lily pointed out several items. Rock grew annoyed with the delay, and the fact that he would need to go next. Tossing a single dark look Lily's way, he stalked from the store. Lily paid for her selections and gave an address to send them to before taking her leave from the heavily frageranced store. Lily was almost to the main entrance when a man grabbed her from behind, covering her mouth with one hand and sweeping her around the midsection with the other as he drug her through a door into a service tunnel. Lily brought an elbow back hard into the midsection of her attacker. Hearing a ‘woof' as his air was knocked from him, Lily brought her heel down hard on his instep and clenched both hands together, simultaneously stepping away and swinging around knocking her attacker into the wall. In one fast motion she drew her pistol and pointed it straight at... Rock.
"God damn you! You son of a bitch!" She shrieked at him, losing all control. He motioned for her to tone down and distractedly touched a trickle of blood from his temple where Lily's ring had cut him. His dispassion enraged her further. She wasn't nearly done with him yet. She continued on in quieter tones.
" What in the hell is wrong with you? You better have a damn good explanation for this, and no bullshit." She was practically frothing at the mouth. "You are so lucky I didn't finish you off, but it's not in my nature to shoot first and ask questions later. Was that what you wanted? I can kill you now if you like." She still held her gun at arms length, trained on the space between his eyes. Her face was tense and flushed. Rock looked at her more calmly than he felt.
"You wont." She gritted her teeth in frustration and put her gun away. Of course she wouldn't kill him. Bastard.
"Be at the fucking car in five minutes or I'll leave without you." She hissed at him before turning on her heel and stalking from the corridor.