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Every time I come here
I'm not sure what to say
I know it should be easy
But it never seems that way
You, you make me feel
Like no one ever will
So why, why do you bore me
Until my heart is still


********Blur – Wear me down********



Chapter 39:  (I see the sweetness of what used to be, becoming a part of my memories. I feel you fading away) Baby Face


Spotting the sign in the distance, April floored the excelerator and sped toward the turn off.  The others were quiet, lost in their collective thoughts.  Kate’s face was throbbing, pulsing to the beat of her terrified heart, and in time with the pain of her injuries.  All of that was secondary to her fear and anger.  Anger at the fact that they had fallen so easily into Gregory’s clutches, and fearful of what he might do to her lover.


Laura was gazing out the window, watching the landscape for any sign of Jessie’s car.  Her thoughts had turned south, blaming herself for endangering Jessie’s life, and the lives of her own lover and that of her best friend Kate.  Kate nudged her a bit, breaking her concentration on the road, and shifting her thoughts momentarily.  Casting a guilty glance at her friends injured face, Laura could only shake her head a return her gaze to the landscape whizzing by the car window.


“Hey there, a penny for you thoughts and all that stuff…”  Kate made a shallow attempt a humor.


Shrugging slightly Laura smiled grimly.  “Gonna cost a whole bunch more than that Katie my sweet.”


Catching the sorrow in Laura’s voice, Kate placed a hand on her friend’s shoulder.  “Laura, I can tell what you’re thinking.  None of this is your fault.  After all, we’re the ones that lead him down here.  If anything, it’s my fault.  Jessie and I should have stayed in LA and dealt with all of this there, rather than dragging all of you into it.  I’m the guilty party here, not you Laura.”


“Don’t be silly.  Let’s just say that it’s no one’s fault.  It’s the lousy state of the world today, and the crazy people that inhabit it.  None of us could have predicted that this would happen.  I mean hell, who would have thought you’d be dating and falling in love with my all time idol anyway…sheesh!”  Laura grabbed Kate’s hand and gave it a squeeze.


Squeezing back, Kate nodded her head and trained her gaze out Laura’s window, watching for a flash of red towards the distant ocean cliff.  Leaning forward, she placed a hand on Laura’s knee, and pointed.  Laura nodded rapidly, and squeezed Kate’s hand again.  Pointing out the car to the other two passengers, the women braced themselves for what they might find when they made it across the highway and into the small secluded parking lot.  The energy intensified a notch, when they all noticed the driver’s and passenger’s doors standing open, indicating that both occupants had made a hasty retreat away from the public area.


Rolling to a stop, the group of women jumped from the car, and gathered near the passenger door of Jessie’s vehicle.  Not able to tell if there had been a struggle, they began to turn back to their own car to gather weapons and equipment when two gun shots in the distance startled them all into stopping in their tracks.  Kate was the first to recover.  She started to lean forward and break into a run, when Laura grabbed her by the arm and held her back.


“LET ME GO!”  Kate strained against her shock weakened friend.


Holding on for dear life, Laura refused to release her grip.  “No Kate wait!  You need to arm yourself, and remember your training.  Calm down and think rationally.  You have no idea what just happened down there.  You could be walking into an ambush…or worse.  Go cautiously, and plan your attack.  You’re nearly blind as it is, and yet you are by far the most qualified to rescue Jessie…if he hasn’t injured her already.  And if he has, then you are the most qualified to bring him down.  Either way, if you don’t get some control, you might make things worse.  Just slow down and think.”


Reluctantly Kate submitted to her friend’s rationale.  Stopping for a moment to formulate a plan, she gathered her tranquilizer gun, and began a cursory check of the outlying area.  Noticing how the trail sloped downwards towards the cliffs, Kate realized that if she had gone off running like crazy in that direction, she may have fallen off the edge, possibly injuring herself further, or even killing herself.  Quietly she approached the trail, and standing behind a juvenile redwood tree, she tried to get a look down the trail to see if she could spot either Jesse or Gregory.  She spied a flash of what could have been someone’s light colored clothing moving slowly away from them.  It could have been the light playing tricks through the leaves, but her heart didn’t think so. 


Encouraged that Jesse was still alive, she chose a route above the trail, and hidden from direct view by anyone coming from below her.  Her biggest challenge was going to be keeping her footsteps from being heard.  There was a lot of debris scattered underneath the trees and bushes, and with her vision limited by the swelling under her eyes, it was going to be every thing she could do to keep from falling onto the trail below.  Hopefully, the sound of the waves hitting the face of the cliff would mask her approach.  Confirming her sketchy plan with her group, she started out on her journey.  The others had been given instructions to stay back and guide any police officers or highway patrol that arrived.  If she needed assistance from them, she would call out.


Jesse’s heart was pounding, her blood rushing like a river out of control in her ears.  At one point she was certain that he had caught up with her.  Two gun shots had rung out, the sound of them like explosions in the back of her head.  At least one bullet had grazed her arm, but not enough to even slow her down.  The other had traveled past her, lodging itself into the bark of a young tree.  She could hear Gregory panting behind her, his lungs straining against the exertion.


Rounding a small bend in the trail, Jessie gasped and slid to a stop.  The weather and severe erosion had wiped away the trail, leaving a gap of about six feet from her side of the trail to where it resumed on the other side.  Trapped with only seconds to spare Jessie wound herself into a tight ball and virtually flung her self across the gap.  She landed with a loud grunt, and began to clutch wildly at the sandy ground beneath her, barely gaining purchase before she slipped down the gap into the rocky surf below.  Pulling her body inch by inch along the ground, she was finally able to get a leg underneath her and pushed the rest of the way onto a more solid piece of trail. 


Chancing a glance behind her, she saw Gregory sliding to a stop just before he would have gone over the side.  Leveling his gun at her, he chanced a shot, and caught her in her right thigh just above the knee.  Squeezing her eyes shut, she grabbed at the wound, trying to stanch the bleeding.  She was fortunate that it was a shallow hit, and had passed through the other side, missing the more important femoral artery that might have caused her to bleed out. 


“Just stop now Jess.  Don’t run any more, and I won’t hurt you again.  I need you baby…we can work this out.”  Tears colored Gregory’s tone, making him all the more pathetic in his entreaty.


“Don’t kid yourself Greg.  You might think you need me, but I don’t need you…I never did.  I for the life of me don’t know what possessed me to marry you in the first place.  Must have been a bout of insanity, because I’d rather be dead than go back to you.”  Jessie tried to stand, but a stab of pain pulled her back down.


“JESSIE!  Don’t talk like that.  You know I could kill you right now.  But that won’t do either of us any good.  Now stop talking nonsense, and get back over here.  I’ll catch you on the return.”  Gregory put the gun in the waist band of his pants, and reached towards the gap, as though he were going to pull Jessie across.


Looking past him, Jessie caught a glimpse of blondish hair through the trees off to the right of the trail.  Panicking, afraid that Gregory would see Kate and kill her, Jessie tried to stand again and play into his pleas, hoping to keep his attention occupied, and protect her lover from being seen. 


“I don’t think I can Greg, but I’ll try.”  Jessie grimaced as she pulled herself into a standing position, putting all of the weight on her left leg, and favoring the right.


“Just go easy Jess.  I’ll catch you and pull you over.”  Gregory reached again.


“Freeze idiot…before I blow your head off…”  Kate whispered from behind him, the butt of her dart gun pressed against the back of his neck.


Reaching for his gun, Gregory attempted to turn around.  At the first sign of movement, Kate had pulled the trigger effectively lodging a dart deep into the base of his skull.  His reactions immediately became impaired, but not quickly enough to incapacitate him before he leveled his gun at Kate’s mid-section.


“KATIE!  Watch out…”Jessie shouted from her vantage point on the far side of the trail.


Feigning right, then falling left Kate’s right foot went out catching Gregory’s knee, and sending him backwards towards the gap.  He fired off a round, missing Kate’s head by barely an inch.  For Jessie, time seemed to slow to a crawl, as Gregory grabbed Kate’s foot, and pulled her with him as he slipped over the edge toward the boiling waves below.


“NO!  GREG!  LET GO!”  Jessie screamed.


“HA, HA, HA JESSIE!  Looks like I win after all…”  Gregory’s maniacal laughter assaulted Jessie’s ears as first he disappeared over the edge, followed by Kate.  Kate managed a last blurred glimpse of Jessie’s beautiful face locked in terror as she slid along the sandy ledge.


Suddenly she was free falling, a million memories and a million regrets passing through her mind at the speed of light.  Kate’s body suddenly slammed against Gregory’s, as he made contact with the rocks scattered across the ocean’s edge.  Her last recorded memory before darkness overcame her was the sound of Jessie’s voice calling her name.


To be continued in Chapter 40 (Conclusion)


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