Author: TazRaven (Sara)
To say that I was surprised with what Tara had told me would have been a severe understatement. For almost the entirety of the story, I sat with my jaw hanging open. It was only after Tara softly closed my mouth with the tip of her finger to my chin that I realized the story was over. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to dwell on the small touch, instead choosing to think about a way out of this mess. I just hoped she would agree with my decision, considering who was involved.
"Tara," I began, and then paused, unsure what her reaction would be to the information I was about to deliver. "Tara, you said you'd heard that name before, Mr. Malone."
Tara nodded an affirmation. "Yes, but I told you, I don't know who he is."
I sighed deeply. "Tara, Mr. Malone is the boss of Chicago. That's where you heard his name before." Her eyes grew wide with recognition. "He's in the papers all the time."
If Tara hadn't been sitting down already, I think she would have needed to take a seat. I could see the worry lines form on her face as she realized the position she was in. She moved her eyes downwards, focusing on twisting her hands in her lap, rather than meeting my concerned gaze. I looked down at her lap and reached my hand towards hers, not realizing what I'd done until I felt the warmth of her skin on mine.
I'd read a great many books while enrolled in school, and in many of the stories, there was passion, romance, attraction, love. I know that earlier in my own story, I spoke of loving Tara since the moment I saw her. That wasn't true. What I'd felt before this moment held attraction, passion; the semblance of love, but something not nearly as powerful and real. But in just that small moment, holding her hand, offering comfort in the most trying of times; she brought her eyes to mine, and what was most likely seconds stretched onwards. I didn't know what she was feeling beyond the most platonic feelings of friendship, but I could see a hint of something in her eyes. So many emotions, swirling in the blue of her gaze. Fear, obviously, trepidation, horror, disbelief, appreciativeness, but above all, courage. Her eyes locked on mine, and I could see her steely resolve. So, what she asked next held no surprise.
"What do we need to do?"
God, I loved that woman.
I took a deep breath to steady myself, light-headed from the newly formed feelings and general terror from the situation I was in. "We have to tell the police what you saw. No one has ever been able to bring any evidence against Malone. As of right now, you're the only person who can bring him to justice."
She nodded her head, and I could once again see the resolve I was beginning to not only love, but admire.
"There's something else we need to consider." I didn't want to frighten her anymore than she already was, but she needed to know the danger she would be in. "You said you dropped your dress."
She started to nod, but stopped almost immediately as her jaw dropped. "Oh God, you think he knows I saw him too, don't you?"
I tried to turn my eyes away from hers, unable to meet her gaze, but found myself unable to do so. Her hand was there on my cheek, her eyes silently begging me to tell her the truth. "Yes," I whispered. "I think he knows."
She took a breath. "Well then, we'll just have to make sure he can't find me. Pack some clothes. I know a place we can hide once we tell the police."
I nodded my head in agreement and we both stood up from the couch. I headed towards my room, with Tara in tow. "I'll pack some clothes for myself, and I have some women's clothes you can wear." The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.
"Women's clothes? Why would you have-?"
"Girlfriend!" She gave me a confused look as I tried to lie convincingly. "I mean, uh, this girl I used to go around with, she left some of her stuff here."
Tara raised an eyebrow. "You had a girlfriend? Why didn't you tell me about her?"
I fought to keep a disinterested look on my face. "What's the big deal? It's just this dame I used to go with. I mean, it's not like you told me about any guys you were with." I turned back towards the direction of my room, determined to not look at the glare I knew she was giving me.
"What?!" I heard her sigh loudly. "That's because I haven't gone with-"
"Look, let's just forget it, alright?" I walked into my room and grabbed the only traveling bag I had from under the bed. "She was just this girl, and uh, they were her clothes. She's, well, she's a bit smaller than you are, especially in certain places-"
She gaped at me and huffed exasperatedly.
"-but some of it should fit." Why couldn't I stop acting like an ass? "Why don't you go to the bathroom while I pack, and then we can get out of here."
She glared at me once more before silently agreeing and entering the small bathroom connected to my bedroom. I took the opportunity to quickly bind my chest, all the while thanking God that she hadn't noticed and berating myself for acting the way I had. Before leaving the room, I grabbed the few dollars I had and stuffed them in my front pocket, then took the suitcase and clothes to the living room, throwing the clothes on the couch and the suitcase on the floor. The light in my room was out and I didn't feel like packing in the dark.
I began to hastily fold clothes as I reviewed my situation. I know that most people at this point would wonder why I was placing myself in almost certain danger just to help Tara. But that hesitation never happened. It never happened for the same reason I didn't hesitate to open the door when she'd first appeared, for the same reason I made her tea and patiently listened to one of the most gruesome tales I'd ever heard. It was simple.
She was Tara.
I threw the clothes I'd folded into the suitcase and picked up a dress. It was then that I heard the knock on my door.
The bathroom door creaked open with the knock and I jerked my eyes toward it. Tara cautiously entered the living room. We both silently made our way to the door. I looked through the peep hole first, not recognizing the people standing outside. I motioned for Tara to look, and heard her gasp.
"Malone's people," she whispered. She pointed to my room and mouthed, "Window."
I nodded my head and pointed to her. She shook her head vehemently, but I pointed again. "You wait in there. I'll throw them off our plan," I whispered as quietly as I could. She nodded her head once, and her eyes locked with mine. And then she kissed me on the cheek, her lips leaving my skin before I could even register the touch.
"Thank you," she whispered.
I turned towards the door as soon as I saw her enter my room. I just hoped I could get through the next few minutes without getting us shot.