Decisions and Consequences

Chris walked through the door of his two story home exhausted from the long 72 hour shift he had just worked at the local hospital. His wife Isabelle was the first thing he saw when the doors opened and boy was he excited. He was a brain surgeon one of the top in the nation to be exact because of his success rate with his patients; however after a long three days of surgeries and small catnaps, he was ready for a weeklong vacation, or at least the opportunity to get some real sleep with his wife lying next to him. So the image of her standing in front of him waiting to take his coat, smiling that beautiful smile, that had captivated him 10 years ago, was enough to turn his frown upside down.
“Welcome home.” Isabelle said taking his jacket and with the same excitement in her voice. Though she visited him every day at the hospital to bring him food, it was nothing like having him back at home with her at least for the next few days, before he had to go back to work.
“Thanks baby, it’s good to be home.” He pulled her closer and gently kissed her lips. She smiled then pulled back.) “What?” He asked confused.
“How was work?” She asked sweetly.
“Long and tiring but I don’t want to talk about work right now.” He said about to kiss her again. She moved away.
“You have company waiting.” She said shyly.
“Who?” He asked not really caring.
“I don’t know some guy named Buck, he says he knows you from your navy days, and to say, “East Germany was great.” “I didn’t know… before she could finish her sentence, Chris walked away and headed down the long hallway towards the den, praying to God that Buck wasn’t there for the reason he was thinking of. He had been out of that business for ten years, and wasn’t planning on going back.
Once he reached the den he opened the door and saw Buck standing at the fireplace, staring intensely at the flames. Fear crept over Chris as he tried to mustard up the courage to call out to his former mentor. A man who had single handedly destroyed an entire village after gaining information from their enemies.
“Buck.” Chris heard himself say but in a voice that did not resemble his own. The knot in his throat grew larger as Buck turned around and faced him with a devilish grin. The moment their eyes met, sweat began to drip from Chris’s face because he knew what this visit was about and he also knew that he did not have the strength nor place to reject him; however he had to give it a try, at least for his families sake.
“Chris, long time no see.” Buck said sounding enthusiastic and holding out his hand. Chris slowly walked towards Buck , with every step feeling like one step closer to Hell’s Gate.
“Yeah, it’s been awhile.” Chris managed to say in that same weird voice and shaking Buck’s hand. “Have a seat.” He offered, not really meaning it.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Buck said sitting down on one of the small couches present in the den. Chris sat across from, him and just stared, trying so hard to figure out how to escape with his wife and children.
“Would you gentlemen like a something to drink.” Isabelle asked. She had followed Chris into the den; however he was too deep in thought to notice, until she spoke.
“Sure, ice tea for me.” Buck said smiling at Isabelle.
“Same here baby.” Chris said unable to take his eyes off of Buck. Isabelle left out the room and head towards the kitchen. Once he saw that she was completely gone, Chris spoke.
“What are you doing here Buck?”
“What am I doing here? Why are you still here?” Buck snapped, his eyes locked on Chris with a look that shook Chris to his core. He had seen that look before, it was the same one Buck gave his victims before slashing their throats; however Chris wasn’t going to let that shake his resolve. He had promised himself that after he met Isabelle and became a father, he would no longer work for the government.
“I retired from the service.” Chris said sternly. Buck looked at him and laughed coldly.
“Retired? From the service? No one retires from the service, you as well as anyone knows that.” Buck said coldly.
“Well I did and I’m happy here, so please leave before my wife returns.” Chris said, proud of himself for standing his ground, while inwardly praying to God that he would leave. However Buck just laughed and Isabelle returned
with two cups of tea in hand. The men’s attention turned to Isabelle as she carefully placed the two cups on the coffee table.
“Thank you honey.” Chris said eyes still glued on Buck.
“Thank you Isabelle. It’s Okay if I call you Isabelle right? Mrs. Taylor is too formal don’t you think? He asked sweetly 
“Sure you can call me Isabelle.” She said nervous. She didn’t know what it was about him, but he made her feel uneasy, and the way her husband was behaving in his presence sent off warning signs that this guy was dangerous and she had to be careful.
“Great. Now Isabelle I have a question to ask you and I need your God honest opinion.” He said folding his hands in a diamond shape and staring at her with this evil look on his face.
“Sure ask away.” Isabelle said through a nervous smile. She really didn’t want to answer any of his questions but was afraid that if she said no, he would do something to her husband.
“Thank you. Now would you agree that a promise should be kept, and when a person makes a commitment to something he should keep it.” Buck asked sternly.
“Of course what’s the point of making a promise if you can’t keep it.” Isabelle said happy that the question wasn’t too outrageous; however something in the pit of her stomach told her that this question wasn’t as simple as she was lead to believe.
“My thoughts exactly.” Buck said satisfied with her answer and turning his attention towards Chris, who was staring back at him angry and annoyed.
“Isabelle could you give us a minute.” Chris asked sweetly.
“Sure.” Isabelle said.
“Nice talking to you Isabelle.” He said as she made her way out the room closing the door behind her.
“What do you want Buck?” Chris asked already knowing the answer. Buck pulled a cigarette and lighter from his right jacket pocket and lit the cigarette. Taking in one big puff, he stood up then blew it out.
“You know what I want. You had ten years to play out this little fantasy of yours, now it’s over and time to come home.” Buck said as he slowly approached Chris who was
staring up at him from his seat. There it was, the question that he had been dreading to hear, but knew it was coming. However going back was not something he had ever planned on doing especially since he met Isabelle. If it had been 10 years ago, his answer would have been yes; however this was not 10 years ago and he knew that if he left now, he would never see his family again. He had no choice but to deny him.
“No thanks I’ll pass.” Chris said trying to sound confident in his answer. Buck took in another puff then spoke.
“The way I see it you have two choices.  Either come with me tomorrow or so help me God, I will have you thrown into the deepest darkest hole, you’d wish you were still in Iraq. Either way your life with that woman and those children is over.” Buck said in a much harsher tone with every word feeling like a knife being dug deeper into Chris’ chest. He knew Buck was serious from their days in the service; but how could he say goodbye to his family did he really have a choice? “Oh and Chris don’t try to run we know everything including where your children are at this very second.” Buck said snapping Chris out of his train of thought.
“Understood.” Chris said frighten.
“Good.” Buck said as he made his way to the door. Upon opening it he saw Isabelle standing in the hallway. She was shaking but trying so hard to hold herself together.
“Leaving already?” Isabelle stuttered, too afraid to meet his gaze.
“Yes thank you for your hospitality.” Buck said with a devious grin, as he made his way passed her to the front door. She followed behind him to let him out. “See you again.” He said exiting the house. She waited until he pulled off before locking the door and returning to her husband who was still in the den.
“Chris.” Isabelle said softly  tears running down her cheeks. Chris was sitting on the couch with his hands on his face in deep thought, when she walked in. When he heard her call him again,  he looked up at her blankly almost as if he were looking through her.
“What are you going to do?” Isabelle asked fearing the worse.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to go back, but…
“Then don’t go back stay here with me.” Isabelle said softly. Chris stood up and walked over to his wife her brown eyes staring back up at him, red from crying.
“That’s not possible.” Chris said shaking his head, angry with Buck for putting him in this corner.
“Why?” Isabelle asked sharply, the tears rolling down her cheek uncontrollably.
“Like you said I made a commitment and I have to honor it.” He said bitterly.
“We could run?” Isabelle said  hopeful. Chris  shook his head. “We could and take the children with us.
“This is the government, there  is no place that we could go  and they won’t find us.” Chris said seriously.
“Can you just think about it.” Isabelle begged. She couldn’t lose him now, not after everything that they had been through together. Even if it meant becoming a fugitive for the rest of her life she would do it, if it meant keeping her family together.
“Okay, I’ll think about it.” Chris said with a doubtful smile; however hearing him say those words, gave her all the hope she needed.
“Thank you.” She said hugging him.
“Go to bed, I’ll be up in a minute.” He said sweetly.
“Okay.” She kissed him goodnight then went to bed. Chris sat back down and began to think should he run? If he ran at least he could still be with his family but for how long and could he really turn his family into fugitives. As he sat back and contemplated his future, the sun had risen and Isabelle had walked back into the room. “Have you been in here all this time?” She asked softly.
“Yeah, I was thinking about your offer.” He said looking up at her.
“And what have you decided?” She asked hopeful. He shook his head no and she began to sink to the floor with tears rolling down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry Isabelle.” He said disappointed in himself for caving in; however he knew that this was the only way he could protect his family. He stood up and walked out the room to get ready for Buck’s arrival, leaving Isabelle on the floor in tears.
An hour later Buck rang the doorbell and Isabelle answered it. Her head hung low and her eyes swollen.
“Good morning Isabelle is your husband ready.” Buck asked with a smile. Isabelle said nothing, instead she just opened the door to let him in, though every fiber of her being told her to slam the door in his face. Chris came down dressed in his marine uniform and a defeated look on his face. “Good choice.” Buck said pleased.
“Whatever.” Chris said as he made his way to Isabelle.
“Let’s go.” Buck order.
“Can I have two minutes?” Chris asked.
“Sure I’ll wait outside. Have a good day Isabelle.” Buck said as he made his way outside.
“We can still run.” Isabelle said softly. Chris put his arms around her and hug her tight.
“I’m sorry this is happening, but I promise you, I will find a way back to you.” He said sounding more confident than he felt.
“Promise?” She sobbed.
“Promise.” He said with a smile then kissed for what seemed like the last time. Buck walked back in the house.
“Times up let’s go.” He said.
“I’ll see you later.” Chris said and with that he left with Buck in a black Ford Fusion with government plates, and a line of black cars following behind him. Chris was right, running wasn’t an option, she just hoped that this was not the last time she would see him again.

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Secrets and Lies

Toni opened her eyes and looked around the room. It was cold and dark with a musty smell coming from all directions with the only light coming from a crack in the door at the end of the long hallway. “Where am I?” She asked no one. The moment she spoke she regreted it, because her throat felt as if someone had stabbed her repeatedly. Her eyes fell on the light coming from the other end of the hall, she had no idea what was out there, nor how she ended up in that room, but something told her that she had to get out of there no matter what.
She tried to sit up but her body felt as if it had been crushed under a rock. “Ouch” she cried out as she tried to move from the bed she found herself on. She stopped moving and just layed there for a minute trying to gather her strength before trying again. A few moments later she tried again, this time using all the strenght that she had, she was able to lift herself up to a seated postion. Through pain and tears, she slowly managed to stand up, her eyes fixed on the light as she painfully made her way towards the door at the other end of the hall.
“I can make it.” She kept repeating over and over in her mind, trying hard to motivate herself However for some strange reason it felt as if the door was getting further and further away with every step she took.
“Toni.” She heard a voice say. She looked around and saw no one. “Toni,” the voice repeated. She recognized it the second time it they called out, it was the voice of her best friends Pelar and Candi, only she couldn’t see their faces. “Where are you?” She managed to ask through the pain. “Toni,” they said again this time it sounded as if their voices was coming from the other side of the door. More determined than ever, Toni began to run towards the door. The pain in her body was unbareable,  but she knew that if she could make it to that door she would be reunited with her friends and find out what happened to her. The door got closer the faster she ran, and once she reached it she pushed it open, but the light was so blinding that she was force to close her eyes.
“Turn those machines back on.” She heard a woman say, that sounded a lot like her mother. “She’s not dead.” The moment she opened her eyes, she saw her mother standing over her crying and yelling at the doctors and nurses as they walked out the room. Her friends Pelar and Candi were sitting in the back of the room crying and holding each other, while her father was trying so desperately to convince his wife to let her go.
Toni reached for her mother causing everyone to look at her. “Toni,” her mother said through tears, while pushing her husband away to be closer to her daughter. Toni tried to speak but found it impossible with the tube down her throat so she tried to take it out. “Don’t honey.” Her father said stopping her with joyous tears in his eyes. “Call the doctors.” He ordered her friends. The girls got up and ran out the room to do as they were told.
Toni looked at them confused, trying to figure out why she was in the hospital and what happened to her. Her mother kissed and hugged her, thanking God that she was OK.
A few moments later, a bunch of doctors came into the room with nurses behind them. The family was asked to step out whilethey ran some test on her. Once they had finished their evaluation, the family was allowed to come back in. “What’s going on doctor?” Her father asked before reentering the room. “Honestly we don’t know, I guess she just wasn’t ready to go yet.” The doctor said stumped at,Toni’s recovery. “So she’s going to be alright?” Her father asked. “We want to run some more test, but so far so good.” The doctor informed him. “Thanks doc.” Her father said with the first sigh of relief he had in months.
Toni was laying on the bed staring at the ceiling when they walked in trying to remember how dhe ended up in that place and in that condition. The tubes were taken out of her throat making it a lot easier for her to talk and swallow, but she was still hooked up to an IV full of medicine and that was irritating. “Toni,” her mother said interrupting her thoughts. Toni looked at her family and smiled. Pelar and Candi walked to both sides of her bed and hugged her. “You had us so worried.” Candi said squeezing her. “Don’t ever leave us again.” Pelar warned through tears. “You’re hurting me.” Toni said breathless. They released her but stayed by her side. “What happened to me?” Toni asked her mother.
“You don’t remember?” Her father asked. “No,” she informed them. They all looked at, each other as if they were afraid to tell her. “What?” Toni asked concerned at their reaction. “How about you get better first, then we’ll tell you.” Her mother said trying ao hard to change the subject. “No I wanna know now. What happened?” “It was a car accident, the car you were in was strucked by one of those 18 wheelers and your car went off a cliff and into the water.” Her father said. “Oh my God.” Toni said upset. “is the driver okay?” She asked with a feeling that they weren’t telling her everything? “No he died on impact?” Her mother said almost happy as if she wanted him to die. “He?” Toni asked alarmed. “Was it…” “No, Chris is fine he wasn’t even there. It was someone else.” Candi informed her with the same slight smile on her face. “Who was he, how did I end up in his car?” Toni asked confused. “That’s not important l, what’s important now is that you get better. I almost lost you, I’m not doing that again.” Her mother said. “Okay.” Toni said with a smile.
The nurse came in to get Toni and take her to get some test ran on her. “She’ll be back in an hour.” She informed them. “Can you come with me momma.?” Toni asked. Her mother looked at the nurse, who shook her head yes, so they left out the room. An hour later, she was brought back into the room with her mother. Her friends and father were still in the room when she was wheeled back in, she was half way out of it from the pain pills they gave her. “How’d it go? Her father asked her mother. “Well, she’ll be able to go back to school this fall.” Her mother said presently. “That’s good. Just in time for sophmore year. “Is she sleeping?” Pelar asked. “In and out but she’s fine.” Toni’s mother informed them. “That’s a relief. “But girls, you have to promise to never tell her what happened.” Toni’s father explained. His tone changing to a more serious one. “Why not?” Candi asked. “She has the right to know what happened to her.” Pelar added. “Maybe this is something that is best left unsaid.” Toni’s mother explained. “But…” Candi started. “No buts you have to promise to never say anything.” Toni’s mother stated. “Yes ma’am.” Pelar and Candi said softly. “Swear it, this is something that she can never know.” Was the last thing Toni heard before passing out.