Turning Point – Blane Rescue
This is a “deleted” scene from the third book in the series – TURNING POINT. In it, we see Blane Kirk’s point of view as he pursues and rescues her at the end of the book.
The man at Blane Kirk’s feet wasn’t dead yet, but that was just a matter of time.
And Blane had made sure it would be agonizing.
“Did you get it?”
Blane turned to see Rico had come into the room. Rico glanced at the guy on the floor, but didn’t bat an eye at the blood pooling on the ground or the man’s moans.
“Yeah. A description of the vessel and direction they were headed,” Blane said. Anxiety, rage, and fear like he’d never known all battled for control of his mind. “Did you find anything?”
“They kept a few records here. We’re sending them on to the FBI so they can try and track down the girls they sold.”
The girls they sold.
When Blane had first set foot on this godforsaken island, he’d been both hopeful and terrified of finding Kat. What if all they’d found was her broken body, tossed aside like so many he’d seen? Entering the shacks where they’d kept the women had made him physically ill. Dried blood and semen stained the limp cots while the smell of urine and sweat permeated everything. The mere thought of Kathleen being here, having to endure—
He couldn’t finish the thought. If he did, he’d lose it. And she needed him. Wherever Kat was, she needed him to find her, save her, bring her home. After all, he’d failed to protect her, and now she was paying the price for that failure.
The man on the floor gurgled, blood pooling in his throat. His bloodied hands tried fruitlessly to put the entrails of his body back inside. He jerked once, twice, then was still.
Blane wiped the blood from the blade of his knife before sheathing it, stepping over the body to wash his stained hands in the decrepit sink. They’d gotten what they came here for, and now it was time to go.
The ring in Blane’s pocket seemed to burn. Before he’d found it on the man, it had just been a rough interrogation. After he’d found it…well, then it had gotten personal.
“Let’s bug out,” Rico said, heading back out the door. Blane followed, not sparing a glance back at the body left on the floor.
* * *
“You gotta put it aside, lock it down, man,” Todd said as he strapped on his body armor.
“I know.” Blane smeared more black grease on his face. He knew Todd was right. Emotions jeopardized missions and lives. But it was a lot easier said than done.
They were only a mile from where intel said the yacht was located. A mile away from her.
Please, God, let her be alive.
Blane had been on a lot of missions, too many to count. He’d seen his buddies wounded, some die, and others walk away without a scratch. Always, he’d been able to separate himself from what was happening. Grief was a luxury you couldn’t afford in war.
He just couldn’t stop thinking, couldn’t stop imagining what she was going through. Had they hurt her? Beat her? Raped her?
His stomach churned again and Blane had to swallow down the sour bile that rose in his throat.
“We’re going to find her,” Todd assured him, clapping a hand on his shoulder. “I promise.”
Their eyes locked, one warrior to another, and Blane gave a curt nod. He was grateful beyond words for his buddies who were willing to do this for him. For Kat. It hadn’t taken more than a phone call to Todd from the hospital, gritting his teeth as they sewed him up. Blane had refused pain meds, not wanting to cloud his brain or take any longer than absolutely necessary to go after Kat.
“They’ve taken her,” he’d rasped into the phone.
Todd had taken only a moment to process what Blane had said before, “What do you need?”
Now they were approaching the yacht, its lights glowing in the inky black of the ocean, bobbing up and down with the waves as it plowed through the water. The sound of the RHIBs was completely masked by the wind and the waves, and Blane was grateful for the moonless night. His skin seemed to prickle with electricity, the adrenaline surging in his blood. She was close.
A flutter of movement caught his eye. There. On the top deck. A woman.
Blane could tell even from this distance that it was her, the color of her hair unmistakable, even as it whipped violently in the wind. His gut clenched. Four men were up there with her, all armed and slowly advancing as she retreated to the edge. He watched in horror as she climbed over the edge.
“Sammy—” Blane croaked.
“I see ‘em,” Sammy said, his sharpshooter rifle already at his shoulder. Sammy was the best shot, and in this wind with the waves rolling, Blane didn’t trust himself or anyone else to take out the men.
The four men fell in rapid succession, taken out by Sammy, and Blane was out of the RHIB and climbing up the rope dangling from the grappling hook he’d thrown. All the other men except Sammy were doing the same. Sammy would stay behind and take out more as he saw them emerge.
Todd had added two more men to their team so it was six in all who climbed aboard the yacht, silent as wraiths. Blane motioned to Todd that he was heading up for Kathleen and wasted no more time climbing the ladder affixed to the deck.
His heart was in his throat and he swung his rifle to the ready position when he threw his leg over onto the deck, but Sammy hadn’t left any of the men alive. No one moved except Kathleen, standing on the outside ledge and barely clinging to the railing.
Blane moved forward as quickly as he dared, not wanting to startle her into losing her grip. She was staring at the waves far below as though mesmerized. Oh God, was she thinking of jumping in anyway? Was she going to commit suicide rather than face whatever they’d planned for her? Panic and terror knifed through Blane and he called out to her. “Kathleen!”
The wind took his words and snatched them away. He slung the gun over his back so he wouldn’t scare her and kept a steady pace over the rolling deck. He tried again.
This time she seemed to hear him, slowly turning away from the sea. Her face was bruised. Someone had hit her. Maybe more than one someone. Acid churned in Blane’s stomach.
She didn’t react as he thought she would. She wasn’t glad to see him. She stared at him, through him, as though she had no idea who he was.
“Lucy,” she said, seeming to force the words out. She blinked and her eyes took too long to reopen. “Lucy and Billy. You’ve got to save them. He’s going to kill her.”
Anguish swept through Blane. Even standing on a precipice, inches from dying, Kat was trying to save someone else. The wind stung Blane’s eyes, making them water.
“It’s all right,” Blane said. “They’re okay. We have them.” He inched closer to her.
She mumbled something, he couldn’t tell what it was, and her eyes drifted shut. Her grip on the railing loosened.
“Kat!” Blane made a leap toward her just as her eyes flew open.
“Stay back!” she yelled, her eyes terrified. “Don’t touch me!”
Blane didn’t move. Something was wrong. Her eyes were all wrong, staring at him as though he was going to hurt her. Even with the grease and the combat gear, Kathleen would recognize him. What had they done to her?
“Kat, please,” he begged. “It’s me. It’s Blane. Remember me?” She didn’t say anything, just looked at him, but at least she wasn’t screaming. “I’m here to help you.” Blane reached forward. Almost there. “Take my hand.”
She stared at his outstretched hand and Blane willed her to take it, barely breathing. The wind continued to whip her hair and dress into a frenzy. After a pregnant moment, she said, “Okay,” and reached.
Relief swelled and Blane felt the slightest brush of her fingers, before the unthinkable happened. He watched, seemingly in slow motion, as her foot slipped and she lost her grip on the railing. The wind caught at her, flinging her out, out into space.
“No!” Blane yelled, and the word felt ripped from his soul. He was over the railing and diving after her just as she hit the water and disappeared under its inky black surface.
Blane thanked the fact that he never missed a workout as the tumultuous waves crashed over him, his clothes and gear weighing him down. The water was cold and dark, so dark. How was he going to find her before it was too late?
He took a deep breath and plunged back below the surface, the waves pushing and pulling him, punishing him for braving their depths to rob them of their victim. Blane fought them. He couldn’t lose her. Panic clawed at his mind as he searched the blackness.
Blane gave a mighty kick and lunged through the water, snagging Kathleen around her waist, then swam hard for the surface.
The guys were there when they broke through the waves, Rico and Sammy lifting Kathleen up into the RHIB and then giving him a hand. Eric was already doing CPR and Kat began to cough and choke. He turned her on her side and more seawater spewed from her nose and mouth. Blane knelt by her side, combing her hair gently back from her face until she breathed without coughing. Her body was shaking uncontrollably, shock and cold taking its toll. Eric tucked a blanket around her.
Her eyes were squeezed tight shut and Blane was vaguely aware of the men discussing the other hostages being rescued and that all hostiles were dead. He felt a sting of regret that he hadn’t been the one to send any of them to hell himself.
Blane scooped Kathleen up in his arms, blanket and all. He wrapped it tightly over her and cradled her to his chest, resting his back against the hard rubber of the RHIB. Even through the blanket and his body armor, he could feel her shake.
“Doc,” Blane said to Eric, “take a look. Something’s not right. She wasn’t in her right mind up there. Didn’t even know who I was.”
Eric gently turned her face so he could see her eyes, shining a small flashlight into them. Kat gave no reaction at all, her head lolling on his arm as he held her.
“Drugged,” Eric said before unwrapping her arm and examining it. “Needle tracks. They’ve been drugging her for a while.”
A sob was building in Blane’s chest, but he swallowed it down. “Will she be all right?” he rasped, anxiously studying her face as Eric turning her back to a more comfortable position.
“I don’t know what they gave her, so I don’t want to try to counteract it. Best to let it wear off. She needs fluids, though. I’ll start an I.V.”
Another hard shiver wracked her body and Blane held her tighter, pulling her limp body to his chest. She’d never felt so tiny before, so breakable. “You’re okay, Kat,” Blane whispered to her. “I swear to God you’re going to be okay.”
Eric started the I.V., but Kathleen didn’t even flinch, her eyes fixed on Blane’s. She was staring at him, but the look in her eyes gave him chills. It was her…but not her.
As the fluid began flowing into her body and Eric turned away to check on the rest of the men, Blane could no longer hold back his anguish. Tears mixed with water on his face as he spoke to the woman in his arms.
“Stay with me, Kat. Stay with me, baby girl. Nothing’s going to hurt you now. You’re safe. I swear.”
She stared at him, oddly detached, and her strange demeanor only made Blane’s guilt and regret notch higher. He babbled to her, pleading in one breath and reassuring her the next, until her eyes slipped close and sleep claimed her.
Blane leaned his head back and stared up at the sky.
“You need a break?” Eric asked.
Blane shook his head. No way was he letting go of her. His shoulder burned and he could tell the fragile healing tissue from the week-old bullet wound had torn again. He couldn’t bring himself to care. That pain was the least he could offer to Kathleen in light of what she had endured.
He’d brought her nothing but pain, and now this. If he had the strength, he’d let her go. If he was a better man, he would.