Author: TazRaven (Sara)
My heart was racing as I prepared myself to answer the door. I knew this was the best chance at keeping Tara safe, but all I could see in my mind was a picture of Warren, kneecap shattered, his face beaten to a pulp, and a bullet through his head. Steeling my stomach and my nerve, I unlatched the door and opened it slowly. Two brutish men waited outside the threshold. They both stood over six feet tall, one maybe four inches taller than the other, with huge barrel chests and arms that looked as though they would burst from the plain black suits they wore. Inside I trembled, but on the outside I stood firm. It wouldn't have done to show my fear.
My left hand rested on the door knob, my right arm blocking the gap between the door and the jam with my hand resting on the wall. "Well, hello gentlemen. What can I do for you two?"
The larger of the two looked at his partner for a moment before turning back to me. "Will Rosenberg?"
I nodded. "Yep, that's me. Why?"
"You know a Tara Maclay?" He asked, his face stoic.
My chest tightened as he asked me. Some small part of me had been hoping they hadn't found the dress. I silently swore, and then answered his question. "Ya, I know her. She's the dame that sings down at the club I work at. Got a voice like glass-" I winked at him, "-and not too bad on the eyes neither."
The taller man smiled tightly, and for a moment I wondered if they would shoot me for talking too much. "You wouldn't happen to know where she is, would you?"
I paused a moment, in an attempt to look as though I was thinking about the question, then shook my head. "Can't say I do. Don't really talk to her much." Knowing they were liable to catch me in a lie if I talked about Tara, I tried to shift the conversation to them. "Say, I didn't catch your guys' names."
The taller man once again looked to his companion. The smaller man shook his head. "That's not really important Mr. Rosenberg. We just want to-"
He stopped talking, his eyes fixated on a point behind me. My stomach jumped into my throat at the thought of him being able to see Tara. As nonchalantly as I could, I followed his eyes. There was no one there. And then I realized what he was looking at. The women's clothes on my couch. Without a word, they both stepped over the threshold, pushing my arm out of the way.
"Women's clothes?" the taller man asked me.
My mind frantically searched for a reason. I answered as quickly as I could with my newly formed lie. "Ya, women's clothes. You two didn't exactly come at the best time."
They looked at each other for a moment before turning back to me.
"I'm not exactly alone, you get me?" I nudged my head toward my room, and smiled lecherously, silently thanking the men at the bar from which I'd learned my behavior.
They both smiled back at me and laughed. "We get you, pal. Nice skirt?" The larger man asked.
I laughed again. "Do I look like the kind of guy who would settle for a bad looker?"
They both smiled once more before backing up slightly. "So, no ideas about that Maclay broad, right?"
I breathed a silent sigh of relief at the question. They were going to leave. "None at all. Now get out of here. I got a woman in the back who's not the type to wait around."
The taller man nodded and turned to leave.
"Wait a minute."
My stomach once again jumped into my throat. Now the shorter man was looking behind me, and this time, I didn't have a quick answer. "Why do you have a suitcase, Mac?"
Had I been able to think quickly enough, I could have told them it was a woman visiting me. Unfortunately, lady luck had left my side. I stuttered out a few syllables before the shorter man strode back into the apartment and picked up the suitcase, while the taller man shut the door behind them.
It wasn't until the larger man pulled a gun from the inside of his jacket that I realized the situation I was in. "Let's go. I wanna see the bedroom." He pointed the muzzle at my head and waved it toward the room. I could only hope that Tara had been listening to the conversation and slipped out the window. I nodded mutely, turned around, and walked towards the room as slowly as I could, only quickening my pace when I felt the pistol press into the back of my head.
I opened the door and stepped into the room. He asked me where the light was, and I told him it was broken. He grunted and then quickly searched the room as best he could. I could feel myself growing light-headed with the thought of Tara being found. The muzzle of the pistol once again pressed against my head as he urged me toward the bathroom door.
"Open it," I heard him say. Without a word, I pushed open the door, and silently cheered. Tara was gone.
"I told you, no Maclay." I knew my voice was trembling, but having a gun pointed at my head had taken away any false bravado.
He pushed me out of the bathroom and into the living room once more. His partner looked up and shook his head. "What do we do with this guy?"
The smaller man looked at me for a moment before speaking. "Let's take him. He might be willing to talk after meeting Mr. Malone."
As a last ditch effort, I tried to talk my way out of going. "Look fellas, I really don't know where that Maclay girl is."
They disregarded my words as the muzzle once again pushed me, this time in the direction of the front door. The smaller man followed and closed the door behind us. We walked down the two flights of stairs and stepped into the chilly night. No more words were spoken as they lead me across the street. I shivered, partly from the cold, but mostly from sheer terror. Frantically, I tried to think of a way out of the mess I was in. The only thing I could think to do was yell.
"Help!" I yelled as loudly as I could. The word had barely escaped my mouth when I felt a hard punch to my stomach. I doubled over in pain, gasping for breath as tears formed in my eyes. Falling to my knees, I fought the urge to vomit.
When I looked up, I saw the larger man smiling. "You try that again, Mac, and you'll find your stomach ain't gonna be the only thing that's hurting." I nodded as best I could and felt him pull me up into a standing position again. He opened the back door of a black Dodge Sedan and pushed me in, following closely after with the gun once again pointed at my head.
As I sat in the backseat of the car trying to regain some semblance of normal breathing, my mind reeled with the possibilities of what they would do to me. Once again, the image of Warren flashed in front of me. Only this time, it was my knee that was shattered into a million pieces, my face purple and black, and my forehead bleeding from the gun shot. The smaller man got into the driver's seat and started the car.
As we passed the alleyway next to my apartment, I gasped as quietly as I could. Tara, hidden in the dark, was looking straight at me. Her face held a fearful expression, and as I passed by, I tried to smile. And then she was gone as the car turned a corner. I turned my head immediately toward the man next to me, and breathed a silent sigh of relief. He had been looking the other direction as we'd passed. My heart soared with the knowledge that she'd gotten away, and then dropped like a brick as I realized the hopelessness of my situation. I sent out a silent prayer that Tara would get to the police in time to help me, and not get killed in the process.