“Let’s go to London, you said,” Blair grumped as he tested the ropes holding him fast.
Jim nodded, shooting the third man a glare. “It’ll be a fun vacation, you said,” he pointed out, jerking on his own bonds.
“All right, all right!” Rafe ground out, shifting position to try to get to the knot that held him. “Sheesh, you don’t have to keep rubbing it in!”
“Au contraire, I think we do,” Blair chuckled. “If it wasn’t for your suggestion, we’d be fishing or camping, not tied up like three human balloon animals!”
Jim blinked at him, head tilting as he frowned. “Balloon animals?” he repeated incredulously. “You sure you’re okay there, Chief?”
“I’m fine,” Blair shot back.
“You did take a rather hard knock to the head,” Rafe put in.
“I’m fine,” Blair glared at both of them. “For Pete’s sake, why won’t anyone listen to me?”
“Because you could be bleeding to death and you’d still say you were ‘fine’,” Jim shot back.
Rafe suddenly made an unidentifiable sound as he shifted position again. “He’s a lot like you in that regard,” he said, shooting Jim an unrepentant grin at Jim’s scowl.
Blair’s eyes closed as he shook his head. “Rafe, you’re acting like a real aardvark.”
“Hey,” Jim nodded toward him. “You’re doing it again.”
“Doing what again?” Blair asked.
“Saying strange words.”
He gently shook his head and closed his eyes.
The door to their prison opened and their captor walked in. He grinned at them, and said, “Got you light to read by.” He set up a bright red lava lamp and left the room.
Three pairs of eyes just stared at the lava lamp for a moment, and then Rafe whispered, “That’s it…”
“What’s it?” Blair whispered back.
“He is officially insane.”
“You’re just now figuring that out?” Jim shook his head.
“Nope,” Rafe said with a grin and a satisfied grunt. He stood up, pulling the ropes off his wrists! “I’m just now getting that knot undone!”
Blair laughed. “Wonderful! Get us lost and we’ll get juiced!”
“And make it fast,” Jim said into Rafe’s ear as Rafe worked on untying him. “That verbal confusion’s getting worse.”
As Rafe got the other two free, they began to look for a way out. They were almost ready to agree on how to do it, when the door opened again.
Their captor bounded in, waving at them. “See, ma’am? See? I found them for you!”
The older woman walked in – and gaped at them. Then she whirled around, took off her hat, and used it to whack the man around the head and shoulders. “You idiot! That is not them!”
“It’s no—it’s not?” he wailed as he curled up. “B-but…two men….a woman….”
“That is not a woman!” she roared, then she turned to them. “I’m so sorry. You can go now.”
Three jaws fell open. “Now wait a minute!” Jim erupted. “What is going on here?”
The woman looked shakily at him. “Well, sir…this is all a giant misunderstanding… you see, we’re playing a game and…”
“We got mistaken for these people?” Rafe figured.
She nodded. “I’m so sorry…”
Her apology was cut short by Blair’s unceremonious collapse.
Suddenly, they were no longer kidnappers and victims. The woman screamed out the number of the ambulance service and Rafe dialed it frantically on her companion’s cell phone.
Jim lifted Blair and was holding him close. “Blair…c’mon…”
Blair’s eyes flicked open. “…sm-smart smell?”
She squatted in front of them and looked at Blair’s eyes, noting the uneven pupils. “He’s concussed,” she said, and noted Jim’s grim nod. “Was he hit?” Her eyes moved to her companion.
“No,” Jim said coolly. “If he had caused this directly, he would be unconscious at my hands by now.” At her accepting nod, he went on, “When we were coming up here, he slipped on the stairs and hit his head before we could catch him.”
“So how is he, Jim?” Simon’s voice was garbled slightly from the international line, but the concern came through loud and clear.
“He’s going to be all right,” Jim reported. “He’s got a concussion and it triggered a case of aphasia. He’ll be all right once it goes down.” As he spoke, he glanced over and couldn’t stop the grin.
Rafe was sitting beside the man who’d kidnapped them. He was sliding a small piece of real amber in his pocket as he watched the other man eat the piece of chocolate he’d traded for. Rafe looked up, met Jim’s eyes, petted his pocket, and smiled.
Jim returned the smile and told Simon, “We’ll all be okay. We’ll be home soon.”
“Be careful, you three,” Simon said.
Jim hung up and closed his eyes. “We’ll be home soon,” he repeated to himself in a whisper.
It still sounded so precious.
Return to The Realm