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Guarding the Broken: (Nothing Left to Lose, Part 1) (Guarded Hearts), Page 2

Kirsty Moseley

  He laughed wickedly and pulled me back to him roughly, his chest pressing against my back. “I’m going to enjoy fucking your girlfriend and hearing her scream for you,” he said to Jack. Jack’s head snapped up, his eyes filled with hate and rage as he started struggling again even though he was probably in indescribable amounts of pain. The three guys laughed at him as he continued his futile struggle, shouting a string of expletives. “You have anything you want to say to your boyfriend?” Carter whispered in my ear.

  Anything I want to say… Please let this be over, please just leave us so I can get some help. “I love you,” I croaked through my sobs.

  “I love you too,” Jack whispered.

  Carter nodded at his guys, and they lifted Jack off of his feet as if he weighed nothing at all. I tried to jerk forward but Carter had me pinned in place against him. I didn’t even get time to think about what was about to happen next, it all happened so fast that I could barely even comprehend it. The two guys carried Jack back a couple of feet and then threw him off the fire escape.

  My heart stopped. Did they just throw him off the… No. No way. This had to be a dream; the worst dream I’d ever had in my life. I needed to wake up, I couldn’t take this. My ears registered his scream as it sounded for a couple of seconds during his fall. I heard a muffled thump and then all that was left was the echo of the music coming from the club behind me.

  I couldn’t breathe. My heart was breaking into a million pieces as I replayed the last couple of seconds in my head. In my mind’s eye, I saw Jack’s face as the two guys’ hands left his body and he started falling. I’d never seen anyone look more terrified or helpless.

  I threw off Carter’s hold and ran towards the railing, praying that he was somehow okay, praying that this was some kind of joke or dream and that I wasn’t going to see the love of my life when I looked down. I wasn’t that lucky though. As I leant over the railing and squinted through my tears, I saw the worst image I had ever seen in my life. Jack was sprawled out on the floor with a pool of blood seeping out underneath him. His arms and legs were at impossible angles; he wasn’t moving.

  The pain in my heart doubled as my whole body seemed to go cold. We were three flights up; he wouldn’t have survived that after the beating he’d just sustained. The way he was lying there, motionless, I could tell there was no hope. He was gone.

  I turned away quickly and was sick again. I was hyperventilating, struggling to draw breath as the image refused to leave my mind. My legs wouldn’t support me anymore, so I slumped into the pool of my own vomit. Silent tears fell down my face as my heart shattered into a million pieces.

  The love of my life was dead. All our plans that we’d made would never happen. He'd died because of me. I’d wanted to come to this stupid club, and now he was dead. I hadn’t even had the chance to make love to him.

  Black spots started to appear in my vision as I heard the rush of my blood pounding through my ears. I was going to pass out; I could feel the nothingness building inside me as my fingers and face started to tingle.

  Jack was dead. He’d left me. I didn’t want to live – not without him. I couldn’t. The grief was crushing me.

  I grabbed the railing and used the last of my strength to pull myself up onto my feet. I didn’t look down; I couldn’t see him like that again. I kept my eyes straight ahead as I swung my leg over the railing. Please let this kill me, I begged silently. Closing my eyes, I prepared to jump. My ears were ringing. I was numb. I let go of the railing and smiled because I wouldn’t have to feel this heartache any longer.

  Just as the air stirred around me and I stepped into the nothingness, I felt something grab my waist.

  “Whoa there, Princess. Now that’s just a waste.” I heard just before I passed out.

  Chapter Two

  ~ Ashton Taylor ~

  Sweat was running down my back as I stood there, straight as a poker, eyes front, hands down by my sides like I’d been taught. The blistering midday sun was beating down on me while I was decked out in full S.W.A.T uniform, including black, army style pants that have over a dozen pockets, black T-shirt, black tactical vest and jacket. They liked us to look good for these things.

  “How long are they gonna make us stand here? I’m fucking dying!” Nate, my partner, hissed at me through his teeth.

  “Not long now; Weston’s started to get hungry. See how he’s shifting in his seat? He’ll wrap this up soon and head straight for the buffet,” I whispered back jokingly. Nate grinned and glanced over at our commanding officer. As if on cue, Officer Weston rose to his feet. “Buffet table here we come,” I mumbled. Nate laughed next to me, quickly turning it into a cough when Officer Weston raised one eyebrow in warning.

  “Attention, graduates. Training teams are going to be announced. For those of you that graduated top two in the class,” Officer Weston said, glancing at me and Nate proudly, “you will remain behind because you’ve already been assigned to departments.”

  I smiled at those words. Nate and I had graduated top two of our year, with me in first place and it was an honour to be assigned to a department straight from graduation. It didn’t happen particularly often, and you were only offered it if your reputation was known of in high places. The two of us were a wicked partnership, and apparently I had been headhunted for a special mission of ‘utmost importance’, or so Weston had informed me this morning.

  My insides squirmed in anticipation. I was hoping for SWAT Front Line; they were the guys who were always first on site, who always saw action, but I knew it wouldn’t be that. No one had ever gone into that team without at least ten years’ field experience. They were the best of the best, and usually they only had an opening if someone died or requested a transfer. I knew that neither had happened recently, but I still couldn’t help but hope.

  Officer Weston finally finished his speech, and the guys all trailed off towards the hall, where they had laid on a buffet of stale sandwiches and potato chips. No expense spared. No one minded though because my entire graduating year was hitting a bar tonight in celebration, and I was planning on getting wasted.

  Nate and I waited behind as requested. “Taylor, Peters, follow me,” Officer Weston ordered, walking into his shabby office. He sat down behind his desk and motioned for us to sit. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. “Right, Peters, your presence has been requested at Division Six,” he said proudly. I grinned happily and slapped Nate a high-five.

  “Oh shit yeah! That’s what I’m talking about!” Nate shouted, jumping out of his chair and pumping the air with his fist.

  “Sit down, Nate,” Weston laughed, shaking his head in amusement.

  Division Six was a fantastic opportunity; he would get direct field experience, and they also had specialised areas which they could train you in. Nate wanted to be a sharp shooter and was incredible with long-range shooting.

  “Okay, so they want you from Monday. You’ll report to Officer Tate at 9 a.m. sharp. Don’t be late. Here’s your file, make sure you read it,” Weston stated, handing Nate a brown envelope.

  “Yes, sir, and thank you, sir,” Nate answered, saluting respectfully, yet grinning moronically.

  “Okay, Nate, you go enjoy the food. I need to speak to Ashton in private,” Weston instructed, nodding for him to leave. I slapped Nate another high-five on his way past, silently praying that I got something as good as his. Officer Weston waited until the door closed before he spoke. “Ashton, you’ve been requested for something important. You’re not going to like this,” he winced, shaking his head.

  My heart sank at the look on his face. This obviously wasn’t something good. “Okay, sir, I’m listening,” I said confidently. I was up for any challenge they could throw at me. I worked hard and it paid off. I had graduated first in every assessment, apart from long-range shooting, in which I came a close second to Nate. I held five different department records, including hand-to-hand combat, tactical planning, and hostage management. No one had ever graduated wit
h the honours I had.

  He sighed and held a brown envelope towards me. Frowning, I took it and tore it open eagerly, finding a police file inside for an Annabelle Spencer. I flicked it open curiously, not having a clue what this was about. On the first page, there was a photo of her. She was incredibly beautiful. According to this, she was nineteen and a college student.

  I glanced up at Weston. “Who’s this?” I asked, confused as to why he had given me this girl’s file.

  “That is the daughter of an extremely important man. She’s Annabelle Spencer, daughter of Senator Tom Spencer,” he said respectfully.

  My interest was instantly piqued. Tom Spencer was a Presidential candidate who was expected to take over the oval office come the election later this year; he was highly respected and, from what I’d heard, was supposed to be a great man.

  “Okay, so why do I have her file?” I questioned, flicking through it and scanning the pages. She was recently expelled from Stanford. She had attended four other colleges in the last year and a half, and had been expelled from every one for violence or damage to property.

  “When she was sixteen, she was abducted by Carter Thomas. He killed her boyfriend in a club and then held her against her will for almost a year. The only reason she was found was because the police raided his home for drugs and discovered her there. You do know who Carter Thomas is, don’t you?” he asked, raising his eyebrows at me.

  I nodded quickly. Everyone knew who Carter Thomas was; he was the head of a crime syndicate and responsible for the deaths of almost a thousand people when he’d set bombs off in the middle of rush hour in four different subways simultaneously. Everyone knew it was him, but it could never be directly proven, and key witnesses or evidence had a strange habit of going missing just in the nick of time. He regularly ran drugs and was heavily involved in human trafficking from Romania.

  “He’s currently serving a life sentence for the murder of Miss Spencer’s boyfriend, Jackson Roberts. She was a witness for the prosecution, and there was also evidence that has linked him directly to the murder. Everyone knows who he is and what he does, but he’s always slipped through our fingers. The murder of Jackson Roberts is the only thing that’s ever gotten as far as a trial. Him being convicted was one of the best things for our country,” Weston said, his expression hard.

  “Okay, sir, so what does this have to do with me?” I asked, still not understanding why I was being told about this in the first place.

  Weston sat back in his chair. “Well, Carter Thomas has an appeal coming up later this year. Apparently, some evidence may have been incorrectly collected or something. Miss Spencer was the only witness that made it to the trial the first time; there’s a good chance she may be called to give evidence again. There have been death threats made against her, most of them because of who her father is, but lately her family have been receiving threats which they believe are coming from Carter’s organisation.”

  He seemed to be watching me, waiting for my reaction. I still didn’t get it. I’d been selected for a special assignment, yet he was telling me about some girl. What did this have to do with me? This wasn’t SWAT business.

  He took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m just gonna say it; she goes through bodyguards like you do cold beers. She gets assigned a new one, and within a week she makes them quit. They refuse to work with her. She’s a real livewire from what I understand, a real hard-ass bitch. But this girl is extremely important, not only because she may be required to give evidence against Thomas, but also as the probable future President’s daughter. Her father has requested someone who will be able to deal with her on a day-to-day basis. There’s a specific age bracket because they’ll be required to attend college with her and essentially be her shadow until the end of the court case.”

  It suddenly dawned on me where this meeting was going. I stared at him in disbelief, shaking my head and throwing the file onto his desk. “That’s complete bullshit! I’m SWAT; I’m not some fucking babysitter!” I shouted, pointing at the file distastefully.

  “This isn’t up for debate. They wanted the best agent within an eight year age bracket, they picked the best agents across every department, sending the top ten to Senator Spencer, and he picked you specifically! You were the only graduate to be considered. You should consider this a great honour,” Weston said persuasively.

  I growled in frustration. “Why are we even getting involved? If she’s the daughter of a Senator then this should be secret service, not us,” I countered.

  He sighed. “She’s been through most of the guys there, Taylor. Plus, there aren’t that many agents there within the age bracket; most people go into secret service a little further down the line in their careers,” he explained, shrugging. He cocked his head to the side, his eyes boring into mine. “Ashton, it’s just until the end of the court case. Eight months, that’s all. Senator Spencer has guaranteed you your choice of posts after that time. Anything you want, even Front Line.”

  My head snapped up at those words. “Seriously?”

  He smiled and nodded. “I knew that would get your attention, but I need you to understand that this is a very important job. It may not sound it, but if she dies and the case falls apart, then Carter Thomas will be released and hundreds, if not thousands, of people could be killed over the coming years,” he said gravely.

  Right, okay, I get it. Do a good job babysitting for eight months, get dream job. Done! “Okay, I understand, sir.” I was smiling now.

  “You can’t tell anyone about this. You’ll need to say you’ve been assigned somewhere out of state. You’ll be undercover with her.” He picked up the file that I’d tossed onto his desk and handed it to me.

  I flicked it open again and looked at the picture of the girl. Fuck, I sure hope I get undercover with her! I mused. She was just my type, dark hair and dark eyes, and she was the prettiest damn thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t tell what her body was like because she was wearing baggy jeans and a hoodie, but her face was so beautiful that she could be a supermodel.

  “Okay, make sure you read the briefing file. There’s a DVD in there too, which is the security footage of her old school and the reason she got expelled. Like I said, she’s kind of a badass; the reasons for it are in the file, which doesn’t make for good bedtime reading.” He grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck as he said it. I looked down at the file nervously, wondering what could be so bad that Weston was all jittery and uncomfortable about it. “Right, well I guess that’s all. I’ve mocked up a fake assignment for you in case people ask. A flight has been booked for you for tomorrow morning and your tickets are in the back of the file. Pack casual; they’ll have stuff waiting there for you too, so don’t go too overboard with the clothes. Only a few people are in the loop on this due to the sensitivity of it; they’re not sure if there’s a leak in one of the departments, so if you need anything, you call either me or Commander Erikson. His details are in the back of the file. Good luck, Ashton,” he said finally.

  He stood up, holding out his hand to me; I shook it then saluted him respectfully, before walking out the door. Heading around the corner, I pulled out the mock assignment, memorising all of the details before I went to join the party with the other graduates.

  I didn’t stay out long with the other boys; my flight was due to leave at eight thirty the next morning, so I had to pack and make sure I was ready to leave. Once in the solitude of my bedroom, I grabbed the file and stretched out on my bed to read it. As I was expecting, it was pretty harrowing.

  Annabelle had been held by Carter Thomas for just over ten months. He had thought of her as his girlfriend, even though he was nine years older than her. She hadn’t been allowed to leave his house and he would beat her and mentally torture her. She had tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists when she was first taken and had been found locked in a cupboard – bruised, broken and almost catatonic. She had refused to speak to anyone for two weeks after this, and then her first words were to a polic
e officer, begging him to kill her.

  I gulped and flipped to the next page, which showed photos of her the day she was found, and her injuries for the police file. They weren’t nice to look at. Bile rose in my throat at the sight of her swollen and bruised face and arms. The medical report showed she had a freshly broken rib and finger, and old, healed fractures of her ribs, wrist and collarbone.

  My heart was beating out of my chest, grieving for the sixteen year old girl who witnessed her boyfriend’s murder and then was abused physically, mentally, and sexually for over ten months.

  Three and a half years on, the nice, young girl that everyone loved had turned into a bitter, nasty bitch. She was socially alienated, shying away from all relationships, and emotionally cutting herself off from her friends and family. I wasn’t allowed ‘under any circumstances’ to touch her, unless the need arose in a combat situation. She had attempted suicide on two other occasions, both times by swallowing pills, but someone had found her in time. Both attempts had been on her birthday. I glanced at her date of birth and saw that her next birthday was in six months’ time. I made a mental note to be extra vigilant.

  It appeared that Annabelle got into trouble a lot. I pushed the DVD into the player and sat on the floor to watch it, eager to see the reason she was excluded from her last school.

  The footage came on, and a classroom came into focus. People were sitting around on desks, talking, obviously waiting for their lessons to start. I spotted her immediately; she was wearing baggy jeans and a baggy sweatshirt. As she walked past a guy who was laughing with his friends, he slapped her ass.