A Short Respite

Brad laid down in the back seat, his left hand clamped firmly on his right shoulder. The wound was still bleeding but not as bad. He looked toward the front seat when Linda mentioned that they needed a place out of the way to treat his wound. James apparently thought of the same place, because he poked his head between the front seats and looked back at Brad.

“Banner?” Brad mouthed the question, because he didn't want to say it out loud. He didn't trust Linda. James nodded, then sat forward again.

“I know of a place so far out of the way that even its inhabitants have trouble finding it.” James grinned, trying to make light of a very dark situation.

“We'll have to find an ATM. I'll need to get some cash. We'll need a first aid kit for Brad before we go much further, plus we'll need a bunch of camping equipment.” James continued.

“It might be a better idea to find a local branch of your bank, and get your money out personally. Liverpool is rich, and I'm sure he wouldn't stop at using illegal means to track your location through ATM and credit card usage,” Linda pointed out.

“Good thinking,” James acknowledged the wisdom of her reasoning.

He looked out the windshield to see that the day had gotten much brighter without him really noticing it. The reason there had been so much traffic, was because the morning rush hour had begun. That worked to their advantage, because Fourteen's vehicle had been caught up in the tide of traffic by now. Even if he was able to get off the grid, they had no idea where James' vehicle had gotten off. He leaned back and breathed a sigh of relief.

“There's a branch of my bank in a small mall on the way out of town. We can get everything we need there. There's also a disused access road not far from there. It's off the grid, so we'll be harder to find. The bank will be open for business by now, so we might as well go right there.”

“That works for me,” Brad said from the back seat, groaning slightly as he moved his head forward. Linda nodded her approval.

James started the car and entered the mall's location into the GPS system. He stayed on the street's grid, and proceeded cautiously as Linda kept an eye out for anyone who might be tailing them. They arrived at the mall without further incident. When James' banking was done, he went into a nearby sporting goods store. Brad and Linda waited in the car impatiently. Linda just wanted to get out of town, and Brad was more concerned about getting treatment for his wound. When James came out with sleeping bags, a camp stove, and other equipment, Linda's eyes went wide.

“Just where exactly are you planning on taking us? If you think for one minute I'm sleeping in the woods with the bugs and the bears, you've got another thing coming.”

Brad chuckled quietly in the back seat. He was glad that Linda couldn't take control of the situation for once. He knew they would be camping inside an empty house, but she didn't. He had no problem with strong women, but he didn't care for bossy ones. She'd been calling most of the shots since they met her at the museum. To be fair, he knew she had a much better handle on what was going on than they did, but it irked him that she wasn't very forthcoming about why they were suddenly thrust into such danger.

James put the gear into the trunk, then came around to the passenger side window, which was open. He handed a jumbo sized first aid kit to Linda.

“I think everything you'll need is in there. There's even some antibiotic ointment and antiseptic. See what you can do for Brad, while I go get some groceries,” James ordered, rather bluntly. He was sick of being bossed around, too. He headed over to the grocery store at the far end of the mall.

Linda got out and went into the back seat from the driver's side, across from where Brad was huddled in the corner. She knelt on the seat beside him and opened the First Aid kit.

“It'll probably be easier and less painful for you if you take your shirt off, Brad. Cutting bits of shirt away would take longer, and hurt more.” She reached over as if to assist him when he jerked away from her.

“I can do it. I'm not crippled – yet. Besides, I don't remember giving you permission to use my first name.” Brad grumbled irritably as he pulled off his shirt.

“I would use your last name, if I knew it. We were never formally introduced. I only knew your name at all because James asked if he could bring you to the museum. It's a good thing you went with him, because Liverpool's men are ruthless. If you'd been in the house when they broke in, you'd be hurt a lot worse than this,” Linda told him as she sponged antiseptic on the wound.

Brad winced but did not cry out. He didn't want to behave like a wimp in front of her. He was surprised at how gently she treated his injury and at the look of concern on her face when she saw the deep cut. When the wound was properly bandaged, he put his shirt back on and leaned against the back of the seat to wait for James.

The End

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