Tessa Miller Because We Like To Be Fair

>> Monday, January 3, 2011

I've told you I appreciate Dylan Chroz, really identify with him, but I can't have him partnered with someone who doesn't carry her own weight. Part of the fun of working on my current novel is the contrast between the way Dylan thinks and the way she thinks, though they often agree and are so devoted to one another. The way the see the world and attack problems is utterly different

And doesn't that make it more interesting? Or maybe that's just me.

Chapter 11

She needed him, not because he took care of her, but because he was the best part of her life. She looked forward to challenging herself by challenging him, talking to him, playing with him, touching him. And these bastards were planning to use her to hurt him. Well, they made one major miscalculation on that one. No one was using her to hurt Dylan Chroz, not for long, or she wasn't Tessa Miller. Dylan might have bested her in a number of subjects, but no one else was bloody well going to do it. And no one else was going to pay for her mistake.
Chapter 12
"Actually, our intelligence tells us Dylan Chroz is unnaturally attached to you and notoriously protective." [kidnapper]

"I haven't been much impressed with your intelligence. Maybe he's just a nice guy." [Tessa]

"You'd best hope you're wrong, If he has no interest in you, then the only value you have at that point is what I can sell you for overseas. Fortunately for me, that's a considerable sum. Your youth and obvious innocence hold more value than culture and class to those markets. Even the spirit you have can demand a premium for those that like to destroy such things."

She had never been so frightened in her life. Damned if she'd let him know. "Nice to know someone still buys American. I was starting to wonder."
"I am. How do I know you still have her, that she's still alive?" [Dylan]

"Tessa, do be kind enough to set Mr. Chroz' mind at ease," the Shadow Man said.

Tessa said nothing, even when the grip on her shoulder threatened to separate it.

"Well?" Dylan asked. "Or are you just yanking my chain?" "Yanking my chain," was one of Tessa's pet phrases. She was surprised to hear Dylan use it since he rarely used anything like slang.

"Tessa, I've warned you not to try to cross me. Guido, take out a finger." [Guido is not Italian - long story]

Guido started with the left hand. Tessa was double-jointed, particularly in her hands. Dislocation was a frequent problem, so she knew what was coming and exactly how painful it would be. She managed to keep herself to a grunt. Pinkies where the worst, but were least useful.

She glared at the Shadow Man.

"Guido, she's being difficult. Go for the thumb. And, if that doesn't work, an elbow. If we keep moving up the body, we will eventually come across some bone that will break Ms. Miller."

"No, wait!" Dylan said from the phone. "Tessa, please, please, just say something. Don't make me listen to them break you to pieces."

"Damn it, Dylan, will you stop protecting me!"

She heard his sigh over the phone. "Tessa," he whispered. "Thank God."

"Dylan, you idiot, you're agnostic."
Chapter 13

Sometimes, even the best plans go awry. Tessa wasn't saying it had been a good plan—it wasn't—but it had had the merit of being simple.
At first, it looked like it worked. A little earnest pot stirring—moving around in a suspicious way—got no reaction, so she had quickly gone to town on the hinges with the nail file. The nail file didn't survive the procedure—a dislocated finger was a bit of handicap—but its death was not in vain. A little quiet wiggling and the door was free.
The outer door was dead-bolted as well, though she'd really hoped it wouldn't be. She'd hoped so not only because she was all out of nail files, but also because the hinges were not accessible on this door. Oh, well, Plan B was to break the door down, but it was a heavy metal door in a metal door frame. Not impossible, but more work than she liked, time consuming and noisy. As she tapped a foot, thinking, she noticed a dent in the wall and that gave her the idea for Plan C. She tapped her fist along the wall. Imagine that! This substandard building had studs almost four feet apart. Who knew she'd be grateful for slipshod building codes? She tapped on either side of the dent, made she sure knew where the nearest studs were, warned Susie to stand back and punched right through the wall. They used just quarter inch sheetrock on either side. A few kicks and she had a hole big enough to dive through. "Wait here!" she told Susie. And dove through.

As she brushed off the gypsum dust, she counted herself grateful she'd gone with plan C. The door had a bar across it and a few other locks. In fact, it would have been quite the deterrent if the walls hadn't been just one step up from cardboard. Well, no sense worrying about how her plans might have gone wrong. The room she was in was much larger, still with the plain concrete floor. At a guess, she bet it was once wall to wall cubicles, but now it had a couple of sleeping bags on air mattresses and two bean bag chairs in front of a large flat screen TV with video game consoles and a cable box. Given the mounds of discarded chip bags and beer bottles, she suspected her captors spent most of their time in here. She'd also bet this was just from today and that the relative tidiness of the room meant they'd cleaned up before the boss showed up. Or right after.

Fortunately, it was deserted, the television left on in the midst of play for what looked like "Borderlands." She unlocked everything on the door, but told Susie to hold tight while she scouted the way out. She didn't foresee any problems because there was no lock on this door and she presumed it was a straight shot (though perhaps not straight route) to freedom . . . except Guido and Spic, now short their bandanas, came in at that moment, carrying a new supply of greasy snacks and beer. So, Plan C (sneak quietly out with no one the wiser excepting one insignificant hole in the wall) turned into Plan D, (kick the butts of two half-drunk rednecks).


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