What am I working on?
They told me I had died twice. I didn’t remember it. What I remembered was the slow agonizing feeling of dying, of my life spilling out of my body with each beat of my heart. Actually, it was probably spilling out faster than that.
I was lying on the floor of my safe room, in my own damn house, bleeding out. I could hear the bastards that shot me trying to break into the safe room to finish me off. They would never get in, no matter if Jesus was with them and he could walk through walls, that shit wasn’t going to happen. Unfortunately, since they couldn’t get in, I couldn’t get out. I was going to die on my cold travertine tiled floor. I had believed that I was going to die. That I would never get to see my family again, never get to have a family of my own. Shit was going downhill fast, I knew it, felt it.
I could hear Amanda crying behind me. She wasn’t of much use. My brothers were out there somewhere. They could be in trouble and I couldn’t get to them. I… wait… what the… out of the corner of my eye I saw a sight that caused me to gasp for more air than what I was capable of grabbing.
I glanced to my left and found a vision. Her eyes were the color of whiskey. They looked down at me, fear facing back at me, also hopefulness, determination.
“Hold on, Malcolm. Just hold on,” the angel said to me, her voice soothing, calm, despite the chaotic world around us.
I frowned trying to remember her name. She looked familiar but for the life of me I couldn’t…
“Ahhh fuck…” I growled narrowing my eyes on her.
“Sorry. I’m sorry. I’m trying to stop the bleeding. You’ve been shot okay. I need to… dammit!” the angel glanced up at the door, worry tensing her shoulders.
“They…can’t… get… in,” I rasped out.
She glanced down at me.
“Are you sure?” she asked, her eyes going back to the door after a sound rocked my entire house.
“Yes… I’m sure.”
It took a second for my words to sink in. After a few seconds she let out a long breath and resumed pushing down on my abdomen. “Fuck, woman.”
“I know. I know… shit, I’m sorry, Osito,” What? did she just call me teddy bear?
“Malcolm… Malcolm, please help me…” called out Amanda, fear laced throughout her voice.
I panicked wondering if she was hit too. I tried to shift to follow the sound of Amanda’s voice, but I couldn’t see her.
“Fuck, Amanda. Are you hurt?” I asked through gritted teeth. When I didn’t get an answered I growled and asked again, louder this time.
“Hey, hey… be still,” the angel instructed. “She’s fine. Okay. She hasn’t been shot. She’s…” the angel trailed off causing me to meet her wide eyes. She glanced behind me then back at me and blew out a breath. “She’s just flipping out. She’s just scared.”
“Help her…” I grounded out but that’s when the angel pressed harder on my stomach. “Ahhh fucking hell, what tha…”
“If I leave you to help her, you bleed out and I’m not doing that. You’re not doing that. As I said, she’s fine. I need to focus on you. I need to get you out of here and I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know what to—”
“My brother…” I managed to say, suddenly feeling all of my energy drain from my body.
“Who?” she whispered back, and I could barely focus on her.
I felt more pressure and pain rack my body. I growled and opened my eyes, not realizing I had closed them.
“Okay, you’re one speaker,” I heard the angel say.
There was silence on the other end, but I felt a familiar presence. It’s weird how that works with my brothers. We weren’t triplets, we didn’t have that kind of a connection twins or those from multiple births had, but I swear if anyone of us needed the other, we always knew without knowing, if that even made sense.
I closed my eyes and called out, “Shane?”
“Malcolm, I’m here. What’s going on? Izabella said you were shot. Where are you?”
Izabella? That’s her name. Fuck, how could I have forgotten. Shit started coming back to me. The spilled coffee. The wet t-shirt… her beautiful breasts. The phone call that came in when Amanda and I were arguing about the Pentagon job offer yet a-fucking-gin.
Another blast seemed to rock my house, dust falling from shifting plaster. I shifted on the unforgiving floor of my safe house, my troubled eyes trying to focus on the safe room door.
“Fuck! I’m inside the…safe room. My place is surrounded. There were too many for to… Ah
“Sorry,” came Izabella.
“This shit fucking hurts like a bitch,” I cried out, dropped a few f-bombs and tried to not focus on the pain. That shit wasn’t working.
Without warning, I began to feel lightheaded, as if I was floating on air. In that moment, everything went black.
Pain, that’s what I felt next. White hot, excruciating pain, shooting through my body. What in the ever-loving fuck was that?
I cracked my eyelids open to find unfamiliar faces all around me, poking and prodding.
“Fuck, hit him again!” cried out a familiar male voice. I tried to open my mouth to tell them if they hit me again, I would rip their face off their bodies. Luckily someone else beat them to it.
“No! He’s back. I have a pulse.”
Soft hands touched my face, shaky fingers caressed my cheek. I focused on the face before me, expecting Amanda’s beautiful face but it wasn’t her I found. It was Izabella.
Tear-filled, honey-colored eyes smiled down at me.
“There you are. Don’t you ever do that shit again. Do you hear me?” She ran her fingers through my hair that, despite the feeling of dying, felt fucking phenomenal.
“We need to get him out of here. He’s stable enough. Let’s go!” claimed another familiar voice before everything went dark again.
It was like that off and on. I kept waking to someone either pounding on my chest or yelling in my face. But the constant, the one thing that kept me grounded instead of drifting into the warmest light I had ever felt was a firm grip on my hand. Just when I wanted to let go, the grip would tighten and a soft, yet firm voice would whisper close to my ear.
“You better not give up or I swear on all that his Holy, you will regret it. I’ll come find you in heaven and bring you back to this hell hole called life. You understand? You don’t get to escape.”
Next time I heard, “Please Osito, please stay. Please…”
I opened tired, heavy eyelids to find that I was in a dark room. The sound of machines beeping, and whirling met my ears. I figured out that I was inside a hospital room. I was alive. I should be thanking my stars right. I should be relieved, but I wasn’t. No instead I started to fucking panic. Why? Because I couldn’t feel that tight hold keeping me anchored anymore. I felt alone, deserted. Fear started taking over.
The machines started to grow louder, more insistent. My heart started to beat faster, breaths coming out stronger. And what the hell is down my throat.
“Hey, hey… easy… easy. It’s okay, you’re okay.” I felt someone grip my hand and the feel of this touch caused my breathing to slow. I blinked a few times, trying to clear my vision when her face appeared. Izabella.
She looked haggard, dark circles under her eyes, but her smile relaxed me.
“Hey there handsome. Glad to see you’re still with us. You’re okay. Close your eyes and get some more rest, okay. I’ll be here waiting.” She caressed my bearded cheek softly, a different look encased in her gaze. It caused my heart to beat for a different reason.
“Sleep Osito, sleep.” She coaxed and dammit if blackness didn’t consume my life.
I wanted to hold on to the sight of this woman, this beautiful angel. I felt my eyes fighting the inevitable, trying to stay open but I lost the battle. That was the last time I saw Izabella. The next time I woke, my mother was sitting next to me, tears in her eyes. That night started a whole other hell for me, one that I would be trapped in for months to come.