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In His Keeping


Page 79




"Beau?" Ari asked in a sleepy puzzled voice.
"Shhh, honey. I don't have time to explain. Just trust me."
To her credit she went utterly still, though he could see the instant fright in her eyes. She closed her mouth, though he knew it had to be hard for her to just blindly accept his dictate without having at least a hint of what was happening.
He hit the hallway at a full run, covering the distance to the safe room in record time, even bearing Ari's slight weight. Zack got there first, punched in the security code so the door swooshed open just as Beau arrived and rushed through the door.
Ramie was already there, huddled in one of the chairs, looking utterly terrified, eyes wide, all color leached from her face. But when she saw Ari, she seemed relieved not to be alone any longer.
Beau deposited Ari into the chair next to Ramie and then swiftly went to the gun cabinet housed inside the safe room. He grabbed four handguns and two extra clips for each, in addition to the clips already loaded in the pistols.
He thrust two in Ramie's direction, ensuring she had a firm grip before he relinquished his. Then he did the same with Ari. A bewildered look crossed her face as she stared at the gun as though it were a completely alien object.
He cursed under his breath. She'd obviously never so much as touched a gun, which surprised him given her father's overzealousness when it came to personal protection.

He'd assumed when she'd so calmly taken the gun from Brent that very first day and climbed out of the wrecked vehicle and then later tossed it to him that she had knowledge of weapons. Now he realized she'd just acted on instinct, her driving force to protect others.
"Listen to me, Ari," Beau said in a tone that brooked no interruption. "This is a Glock. It doesn't have a safety so be damn careful about where you point it and keep your finger off the trigger unless you intend to shoot. If anyone and I mean anyone but one of us manages to gain access to this room, you just point and shoot and you keep shooting until you take the fucker out. Understand?"
He turned to Ramie to ensure she'd heard his curt instruction. She nodded her acknowledgment.
"Let's go," Beau barked at Zack. "Give me the rundown on where the others are and what positions they've taken and if we have any backup that will arrive in time to do us any good."
TWENTY-EIGHT
"WHAT'S happening, Ramie?" Ari asked.
Terror had its unyielding grip around her neck, nearly choking her. She could barely draw breath and had to concentrate on every single inhale and exhale so she didn't do something really stupid like faint.
"I don't know," Ramie said faintly, her eyes reflecting the same terror Ari felt.
"We're under attack. Caleb didn't say more. There wasn't time. He dumped me here and ran."
"How safe are we here?" Ari asked fearfully.
"I don't know all of the logistics," Ramie admitted. "I do know it would take a bigger than normal dose of explosives to penetrate the door. The walls are triple-layered, reinforced steel, the middle being bulletproof and blastproof. But it's never been tested. I always thought it overly paranoid for them to have a room like this, but right now I'm pretty damn grateful for it."
Ari nodded her fervent agreement. And then voiced her other paralyzing fear.
"What about . . . them . . . though?" she asked in a shaky voice. "How do we know what's happening? What if something happens to them? Why would they lock me in here when I could be of great use to them?"
Ramie looked down at the guns, her hands trembling, and she repositioned her finger so it was nowhere near the trigger.
"Beau would never put you in the line of fire. It doesn't matter what you can or can't do. They're trained for this. You aren't. You would be a distraction, because Beau-all of them-would be more worried about you than protecting themselves and taking out any potential threat."
"God, I hate just sitting here. Completely helpless," Ari said fiercely.
"I know," Ramie agreed in a low, trembling voice. "I'm scared too, Ari. I'm petrified. I don't want to lose Caleb."
Pain slashed wickedly through Ari's chest and she was momentarily incapable of breathing. "They can't die," she said fiercely, when she regained the ability to speak. "They can't. They won't. They have to come back to us. They will come back to us. We can't allow ourselves to entertain any other possibility."
Silence fell between the two women as they both sat in contemplation, each tortured by their thoughts as they imagined everything that could go wrong.
Ari watched the digital clock on the wall, each minute changing seemingly in hours, not sixty seconds. The time dragged into eternity until Ari was on the verge of going mad with worry, fear and uncertainty. What was going on out there? Was Beau lying out there injured? Unable to protect himself?
She closed her eyes, biting hard into her lip, the next logical step in her stairway to doom hovering on the fringes of her mind.
Was he even alive?
Oh God, she couldn't do this. She couldn't simply sit still. The silence, the walls that seemed to close in around her, making the room smaller and smaller until she felt as though she'd suffocate. She was going to go crazy.
She carefully laid the guns aside and then dug her palms into her eyes, pressing inward, rocking back and forth as a vile ache began in her head.






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