All That I’m Living For


Chapter 1


Juliana sat in the chair of her father’s study, her hands clasped together in her lap, and listened as he ranted and raved about the latest death threat their family received.  This had been going on for close to four months now and Jerald Harrison was starting to fear for his family’s safety.  They were a powerful family, very wealthy, so it was no surprise that they were being targeted. 


“I understand, father.” She complied in that soft voice, biting her bottom lip, not liking what she heard next.


Jerald studied his only daughter, his only child, thoughtfully.  “I want you to meet your bodyguard.” He announced at last, rising up from his desk after hitting a button on the intercom, looking expectantly towards the door.  “He will accompany you EVERYWHERE, on grounds and off.  Though, I would prefer you to keep close to home as possible.” He sighed, looking mildly startled as the door silently swung open, almost taking a step back, but not quite.  “Juliana…” He gestured for her to rise.  “Meet your bodyguard.” Jerald cleared his throat, staring at the dangerous looking man before him.


Nodding without a word, Juliana rose from her chair, her baby blue gown flowing down her body, and slowly turned around to face him.  Her big midnight blue eyes widened in shock, her black hair flowing down her back, hugging her waist to perfection, not believing the size of this man.  Her already pale complexion went even whiter as she clasped her hands in front of her, trying not to tremble, even though it was close to impossible. 


Clearing her throat, Juliana curtsied to the large, intimidating gentleman before her, bowing her head and rose once more.


“It’s nice to meet you, sir.” She murmured in the softest of voices.


‘Taker studied the pale, overly fragile girl before him, his face in a carefully arranged neutral expression.  His intense acid green eyes were hidden behind a pair of sunglasses.  Long, black hair was pulled back into one long braid, a black bandana wrapped around his head.  He wore tight fitting black jeans, black steel toed boots and a black leather vest, showcasing his heavily tattooed arms.  Nodding first at Jerald, ‘Taker then turned his attention to the girl.


“Hey.” He rumbled, not surprised when Jerald jumped a little; his deep baritone tended to do that.


Coaching herself mentally to breathe, Juliana looked back at her father, asking him silently with her eyes if he was crazy.  This man could break her in half if he chose to and that terrified her.  She turned to face her father, shaking hands clamping on the chair before her, and stared into her father’s brown eyes.  Juliana had inherited her mother’s blue eyes, but had Jerald’s black hair. 


“Father, I don’t mean to be rude, but it this really necessary?” Her voice was soft, barely audible, and Juliana bit her bottom lip once more nervously.


Juliana was not the type who defied her father’s wishes by any means, even if he did pass her over to Ken Anderson, the son of his adversary’s family.  The Harrison’s and Anderson’s had fought for years, but the families were finally joining forces with the marriage between her and Ken.  She didn’t approve of it, but she didn’t defy her father either.


“It is Juliana.  These threats are beginning to get out of control, as well as the subterfuge.” Jerald frowned, that last bit having only been told to him this morning, not liking his assets being sneak attacked by whoever it was out to kill him and his daughter.  “‘Taker is the best in his profession.  No injury to his principals or injuries.  You’ll be in go-err…safe hands.”


‘Taker arched a black eyebrow, studying her, already familiarizing himself with her body language.  Timid, shy, hesitant…These were all the things her posture and tone of voice were telling him at the moment.  It somewhat annoyed him, knowing he would have to slowly gain her trust, which wouldn’t be easy in the slightest.


“I understand, father.” She quietly replied, knowing she had stepped out of line, even though Jerald didn’t sound angry with her.  “I will do as you ask and allow this…gentleman…to escort me wherever I shall go.  Have you informed Mr. Anderson about this?” She asked, referring to her obligated fiancé, and sighed deeply at the thought. 


The man was cocky and arrogant.  Two qualities that didn’t thrill her, but Juliana would have to get over it.  He was going to be her husband and there was no way out of the arranged marriage.


“KEN,” Jerald corrected pointedly, wishing she would dispense with the formality when it came to her fiancé.  “Has been informed of the situation prior to our little chat.  He readily agreed with this whole idea.” What Jerald wasn’t aware of, behind the enthusiastic agreement behind Ken’s voice, was a rather pissed off fiancé.  Not thrilled with the idea of his soon to be wife being trailed around by some strange man.  “You’re dismissed, Juliana.  I have other matters that need attending to straightaway.” He smiled at her lovingly before setting back down, already back to work.


“Yes father.” She replied and turned around, staring at this large individual who had been assigned as her bodyguard, inhaling a deep breath.  Juliana didn’t say a word to him as she vacated the room, running a hand through her black hair with heavy sighs. 


No matter how many times her father corrected, Juliana would never stop calling Ken by his formal name.  She hardly knew him, didn’t even like him.  That was the way it was going to stay, even after they were married. 


She looked around the huge sitting room that she’d walked into, which linked to her father’s study, and decided she needed some air.  She was scared to death now not only by the death threats her family received, but now this large man who was paid to follow her around.  He unnerved her already, made her very uncomfortable, skittish even. 


‘Stop it, Jules.  This is for your own good.’ She berated herself mentally before walking out of the sitting room and toward the veranda that led to their huge backyard.


‘Taker followed her at a slow, yet steady pace, his own body language sending off an air of confidence.  Though, if someone looked a little closer, they would see the wariness in his movements.  Always prepared for whatever might be tossed at Juliana’s way, not concerned for himself. 


He leaned against a wall, folding his arms over his chest, and watched her.  One hand was hanging somewhat loosely just in case he needed to reach for one of the many weapons he had concealed.  Jerald hadn’t been lying when he said ‘Taker was the best.


She walked outside on the veranda and downstairs, arriving in the courtyard.  There were hundreds of bushes that were weaved and designed to her father’s liking.  Juliana didn’t care about them as she kept walking, finally finding her nearby bench.  The one she’d occupied as of late and sat down on it. 


The sun was shining brightly, but thanks to the bushes, it barely shone on her. 


She raked her hands through her hair and put her face in her hands, trying to will the tears to stay in her eyes.  Her heart was thudding in her chest and she had absolutely no idea what was going to happen now.  Her wedding would have to be postponed as well as any of her father’s upcoming engagements and events.  Although Juliana was secretly thrilled about her wedding being postponed, she still couldn’t shake the feeling that something terrible was going to happen.


‘Taker studied what actually looked like a giant maze and frowned, following her in it.  He watched her intently, the frown deepening when he seen her go straight to one spot.  So this was a regular thing for her.  Well that would change.  ‘Taker moved to stand at her side, firmly taking her upper arm in his hand, his fingers alone encircling her arm. 


“You come here too much.” He said in an even tone, not giving anything he thought away or putting any emotions in it.  “You’ll have made yourself an easy target if you’re being watched.”


Juliana literally jumped out of her skin when his hand wrapped around her tiny arm and pulled her up from the bench.  Her eyebrow rose in question at this man and immediately ripped her arm out of his grasp, wincing since it hurt, and stumbled back from him.  “Do not touch me, sir.  My father is paying you to WATCH me, not to touch me.” She informed him in a shaky voice, rubbing her arm, and took another step back from him.  This man was downright frightening and inhumanly strong.


“Exactly.  Your FATHER is paying me.  Not you, which means I take his orders.” He made the word order sound more like Jerald made suggestions then actual orders.  “And not yours.  You take mine.  I’m here to make sure you wake up each morning which means YOU’LL do as I say.  Are we clear?” ‘Taker’s tone had dropped to a chilling calm.


“You are not to touch me or I will tell my father.” She vaguely threatened, wishing her heart would stop pounding in her chest so she could actually think.  Her midnight blue eyes stared back at him, seeing his eyes were hidden behind those black sunglasses, and swallowed hard.


‘Taker didn’t look the least bit concerned.  He had already laid down his ground rules with Jerald.  It was his way and deal with it or he could go fuck himself.  Jerald had agreed almost instantly, ‘Taker’s professional record was just that damn good. 


“Tell daddy if it’ll make you feel better, Princess.” He shrugged, peering at her over the top of his shades, letting her see his eyes for a moment.


Just by the tone of his voice and what his eyes held, Juliana knew her father had basically signed her OWN death warrant.  This man was intimidating, scared her half to death, and now he was allowed to put his hands on her? 


Where was the justice? 


When did she have a say so in what happened in her life? 


Never.  Sadness entered her eyes as she clasped her hands in front of her and bowed her head in shame.  No matter what she did in her life, Juliana would never have the freedom to tell anyone how she really felt because it wouldn’t matter.


“I apologize, sir.  I will do what you say.” Her voice was shaking, trembling even, along with her bottom lip and her black hair was covering her face.


“I’m not going to put my hands on you in the matter you’re thinking.” ‘Taker said as if reading her mind when it was her own body that gave her away.  The way she hung her head, shoulders slumped forward.  “And the name is ‘Taker.  Now…what else do you do?  Show me your routine.” He demanded, his tone never changing.


“There is really no routine.” She quietly answered; keeping her head bowed, and cleared her throat a little.  “This is one of my favorite spots.” She gestured to the bench, tears filling her eyes.  “Where I come to…think.”


She sighed heavily and walked up the stairs, away from her bench, and back into the mansion.  Juliana was Jerald’s only daughter, his only child, so with that, she didn’t have to lift a finger to do anything.  Though, she did help the servants by keeping her room and bathroom spotless, cleaning it herself, refusing to make them do more than they already had.  Juliana had a heart of gold and everyone loved her as she started showing him a tour of the mansion.


‘Taker wasn’t pleased.  He took note of each and every staff member to cross their path, intent on going through some files after the Princess was asleep.  He was already making mental changes to the house.  Having every intention of handing in a paper with the changes on it to Jerald the next morning, Demanding they be made, ‘Taker already knew would happen. 


“Show me your room.” He ordered in a low, even tone of voice.


“Why would you need to see my room?” She instantly asked, stopping dead in her tracks, and turned around to face him.  “Forgive me, sir, but that’s for MY eyes and mine alone.” She refused to show him her room, not caring if he beat her within an inch of her life.  Her room was just that:  HERS.


‘Taker sighed heavily, slowly reaching up to pull off his sunglasses, folding them and tucking them into a pocket on the inside of his vest, staring down at her calculatingly.  “I want to look it over.” He said flatly, leaving no room for argument.


She wasn’t about to comply with his wishes and was about to say something when she heard bellowing sound throughout the mansion.  Juliana’s head instantly dropped forward, knowing exactly who it was, and cleared her throat.  “I think its time for you to meet Mr. Anderson.” She softly said, not able to hide the disdain that dripped in her voice, and turned around as she walked down the winding staircase.  She stopped on the third step, seeing Ken pacing like a caged animal, and bit her bottom lip before finally walking down the rest of the stairs.


Ken halted his pacing when he seen Juliana, eyes instantly moving up to the man who stood only a few feet behind her.  Ken sized the guy up; aware he was being sized up as well.  “So THIS is who your father hired…” He said scathingly, extending a hand to her.  “Walk with me, Juliana.” It wasn’t a request and everyone knew it.


Sighing deeply, Juliana began walking toward the man she was forced to spend the rest of her life with.  Keeping her eyes on the floor, Juliana allowed him to take her hand in his own.  Such sadness and sorrow entered her eyes, but all she did was tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and kept her arm at her side. 


“This was not my decision and father said you were fine with this.” She softly said, wincing a little since he was tugging on her arm.  The same arm ‘Taker hurt earlier on and bit back a yelp of pain as tears entered her eyes.


“What are you crying for?” Ken demanded, holding on even tighter when it seemed like she was going to pull away, his blue eyes narrowing to slits when she cried out again softly.


“Let her go.” ‘Taker ordered, having a pretty good idea of why she had done that. 


He did have a grip that was maybe too firm.  He seldom paid attention to his own strength.  Though, it seemed he would have to from now on with her.


“You’re here to protect her from crazies, not me.” Ken spat, not appreciating this man interfering in their private conversation.


“From everyone.” ‘Taker corrected him, green eyes narrowing to slits at the man who was engaged to Juliana.


Chapter 2


“Mr. Anderson, please let go…” She whispered out pleadingly, tears streaming down her face, and winced when he pulled her even tighter to him. 


Her arm was killing her and would for sure be bruised from both of these men basically manhandling her.  Of course, she was used to it with Ken.  He was never a man of patience or understanding.  Juliana knew her father had sugarcoated how he really felt about this situation, but this was not her call to make and she wished her fiancé would understand that.


‘Taker sighed, crossing to them in a matter of seconds and soon had Mr. Anderson bent double.  Both hands twisted behind his back at an angle not meant to be experienced by anyone, almost on the snapping point.  “You heard her, MR. ANDERSON.” He said almost conversationally.  Though, there was a very evil tinge in his voice.  He looked at Juliana then to her arm.  “Are you alright?”


Juliana was standing there dumbfounded, her big midnight blue eyes blinking rapidly, and nodded while rubbing her arm.  “Yes, I’m fine.  Please, don’t hurt him, ‘Taker.  Mr. Anderson didn’t mean any harm, he’s just worried.” She was lying through her teeth, but of course, Juliana could never bear seeing anyone hurt.  It wasn’t the person she was as she winced more, wiping her tears away, and took a step toward them.


‘Taker was more than aware she was lying.  Worried his ass, this jag off was going to be an abusive husband.  That was already obvious.  Oh well though, his job was to protect her now so Kenny boy wouldn’t be laying a finger on her.  Afterwards, not his problem.  He let Ken go, stepping away quietly.


“You animal!” Ken coughed, rubbing his arms, staring at ‘Taker like he was a mad dog.  “Juliana, your father CANNOT allow this…monster to look after you!  We’ll go see him right now!”


“He’s already given my father his demands, Mr. Anderson.  Trust me; there is nothing that can be done.” Juliana informed her future husband coolly, rubbing her arm more, almost sounding thrilled about it, and sighed heavily when Ken’s face turned red.  “I am sorry, Mr. Anderson, if you wish speak to my father.” She suggested, gesturing toward the door that led to the sitting room and to her father’s study, where he was busy at work.  “Maybe you can change his mind.”


“I’ll do that.” Ken said, shooting ‘Taker another dark look.  He kissed her forehead and ordered, “You wait here for me, Julie.” Then, he stormed off to find her father.


‘Taker shook his head, snorting stiffly.  “Nice choice.” He said in a low drawl, his lips curving into a smirk.  “He’ll definitely make a GREAT husband.” His voice dripped with sarcasm.


“It is not my decision, ‘Taker.” Her voice held such sadness as she sighed, walking toward the window, and peered out of it, her back facing him. 


If it had been her decision, she would’ve told Ken what he could do with his proposal.  Under the circumstances however, she had no alternative.  Her life was already set and she hated it.  She hated not having freedom and it broke her heart.  She’d talked to her father many times about Ken, but all he ever did was remind her of the obligations she had to fulfill for the family name.


Grunting, ‘Taker folded his arms across his chest and didn’t say anything.  He had seen everything out there and this was nothing new to him.  Either she’d sprout some balls or she’d be a little timid trophy wife. 


Old at thirty and probably abandoned before she hit thirty-five.  He wasn’t here to play shrink.  He was here to watch her ass.  ‘Taker tilted his head to the side for a moment and not a bad ass it was either.


“I’m going outside.” She announced, no argument in her voice, not caring if Ken told her to wait for him or not. 


Juliana needed air and didn’t even give ‘Taker the chance to speak before she walked out of the room and back out to the courtyard.  She walked through the maze, sniffling as she went, tears falling on the ground with every step she took, but she didn’t care.  She finally arrived on the other side and stopped, sitting down on her swing that was hooked to a beautiful weeping willow tree, and started to gently sway back and forth while watching the beautiful sunset on the horizon.


‘Taker had of course followed her, silent as usual.  He leaned against the willow after doing a visual check, watching her.  His mouth was set in a grim line, knowing this wasn’t a good choice for a swing.  In fact, his ideal place for Juliana would be a room with no windows, nothing to exit or enter by except one steel door that only he had access to.  ‘Taker spun around when he heard a click, frowning as they were cast into ever deepening shadows, security lights beginning to come on all over the place. 


“Time to go, Princess.”


“I’m not going anywhere and you are not forcing me.” She kept swinging, her black hair flowing back and forth, and sighed heavily.  “And my name is Juliana.  You can call me Jules or Juliana, but I HATE Julie and I am not a princess.” She stated, turning her gaze on him with a look that dared him to defy her before turning back to stare at the horizon.  It was now a dark gold and sighed, knowing nightfall had arrived.


“Look Princess,” ‘Taker growled, pausing and stalked towards her, presence already intimidating.  Now with night falling, he was truly something to be reckoned with.  He literally pulled her off the swing and into the air by her underarms so she was eye level with him.  “You WILL obey me or else.” He said coldly, his eyes daring her to kick him and find out what happens.


Juliana’s eyes filled with fear as she stared back into his and began trembling in his arms; her feet dangling off the ground.  What the Hell was she going to do now?  She winced when he tightened his grip on her and cried out in pain when her arm started throbbing. 


“Let me go, you monster!” She shouted at him, pain contorting her face while her heart pounded furiously in her chest.


‘Taker heard that damn noise again, not even paying her any attention now as he dropped to the ground, curling his massive body around her petite frame just in time.  A bullet went whizzing past them, lodging into the willow tree.  He instantly had his own gun out, keeping her underneath him, all critical parts covered.  ‘Taker’s green eyes studied the landscape, frowning when the floodlights went on and knew the shooter was running for it. 




Tears were running down her face as Juliana heard the bullet fire and lodged in her tree.  She didn’t make a move, trembling from head to toe, and watched as ‘Taker defended her.  The floodlights caught a site of the shooter running for it, but that wasn’t her main concern.  She wanted to run and get as far away from this man as possible. 


Why was this happening to her family?  To her?   What had she done wrong to anger someone like this?  She knew it was because of her family’s fortune and Juliana was more than willing to hand it over in the blink of an eye.  Her father being the all rich and powerful Harrison would never do it though, even if it meant her own life.


Once ‘Taker was sure it was safe, he moved onto his knees, running his hands over her body in a purely clinical matter, checking for broken bones or fractures.  Knowing he wasn’t a light man.  He already knew she hadn’t been shot.  After determining she might be shaken and bruised, he stood up, wrapping an arm around her waist to support her and pulled her up alongside of him.  


“Are you ready to go in now?” He asked softly, already guiding her towards the house.


“Yes.” She whispered out, wincing since him landing on her had been extremely painful.  She was only five foot eight and weighed around one hundred and ten pounds.  She was tiny, very small, and for this man to land on her was like feeling a Mack truck run her down.  She held onto his arm for dear life, wincing with every step she took, and allowed him to guide her back in the mansion.  She sighed heavily when Ken immediately started going off at the mouth and glared at him.  “STOP IT!  Just STOP with the bickering already!  Can’t you see I’m in PAIN here?  Does that not concern you, MR. ANDERSON?” She shouted out angrily and collapsed, holding her abdomen as a shot of pain zipped through her.


‘Taker caught her before she could hit the floor, shooting Ken a look when the man came forward.  He glanced at one of the maids and ordered coldly, “Show me her room.”


“What the Hell do you think you’re doing to my fiancée?” Ken demanded, following them.  “You have some nerve to be manhandling her like that!  Somebody send for the doctor!” He bellowed, sending the maid scurrying after showing ‘Taker to Juliana’s room.  ‘Taker closed the door right in Ken’s face before carrying her over to the bed, placing a gentle hand on her stomach.


Juliana immediately cried out in pain, tears streaming down her face.  She had dirt stains on her dress from when ‘Taker shoved her to the ground, landing on top of her, but that was far from her mind at the moment.  “Please don’t…” She whispered out pleadingly, placing her hand on his, and tried pushing him away.  Her body was racked with pain, but her stomach hurt the worse because he’d landed on it the most.


‘Taker stared down at her, sighing when he heard the physician was on his way, but traffic was delaying him, from the maid outside the door.  He pulled a blanket over her to just above her hips before reaching under and sliding up her dress, looking over her bruised stomach.  He pressed gentle, but firm fingers against it, then her sides, feeling gently for injuries.  When he pressed on the tender area that was right below her right rib cage, Juliana cried out in pain, immediately stopping him by shoving his hands away.  Not only was he violating her, but hurting her worse than the pain itself.


“Stop it…” She choked out; squeezing her eyes shut, and tried to take deep, calming breaths while tightening her fists.  She’d never felt pain like this before and wondered what was either broken or ruptured.


Shaking his head, ‘Taker sat on the bed and returned to what he’d been doing.  He ignored her cries and protesting hands, finally stopping.  “Nothing’s ruptured, or else you’d be in shock, and you’re not.  Internal bruising.” He informed her in a toneless voice, pulling the blanket up over her.  “No more swings, no more benches, got it?”


“What am I supposed to do then?  Stay in my room and rot?” She shot back at him, not believing he was trying to take away her two favorite places in the world.  She winced and raked a hand through her hair, sighing heavily when he shot her a deadly look, and knew she had no choice.  That was the story of her life.  She never had a choice or say in her life it seemed.  “Fine, you pick one spot and I won’t go near it until this whole ordeal is over, but you’re not taking both of them away from me, ‘Taker.”


“Actually, Princess, I am.  I already told you that your regulars were probably already taken notice of and I was right.” ‘Taker sounded slightly smug.  “So I suggest you pick a spot in this…house or I’ll pick one for you.” His acid green eyes clearly told her she had NO say in this matter.


Juliana just glared back at him, coughing a little, and scooted away from him, not caring if it hurt her or not.  She wanted to be as far away from his man as possible.  “My name is Juliana, SIR, NOT Princess.  I refuse to listen to you unless you at least respect my wishes to call me Jules or Juliana.” She wasn’t backing down from him when it came to what he called her.  “It’s bad enough Mr. Anderson calls me Julie.”


His nostrils flared for a moment, his earlier assessment of her having been a tad off.  She did have some sort of a backbone, though, clearly on the wrong issues.  “Fine JULES.” ‘Taker said, his voice dripping with an almost evil quality.  “Now…are you going to pick an indoor place or am I?”


“I’m allowed to go anywhere I choose in the mansion, as long as you’re with me.  I don’t have just ONE specific place.” She replied in a softer tone, not believing she’d actually raised her voice to this man, and winced as she held her abdomen more.  “I’m fine.”


She held up her hand and immediately turned her head away when the door opened, followed by her father.  She knew she was either going to get a tongue lashing or he was going to yell at ‘Taker for hurting her.  Either way, this wasn’t going to be nice, especially after raising her voice to Ken downstairs.


“WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE?  I PAY YOU TO PROTECT HER, NOT HURT HER!” Jerald shouted, his face red, not believing his daughter had been close to death.


‘Taker instantly stood up, rising to his full height, and towered over his employer.  “What happened is your daughter has specific spots she likes to go to and whoever wants to KILL you both is aware of that.” His voice was calm, oddly calm.  “Someone took a shot at her tonight and I made sure she didn’t take it.  NOW…do we have a problem?” Jerald looked at Juliana and took a step back, truly terrified of this man who he’d hired to protect his daughter.


“Daddy, I’m fine.” Juliana quietly whispered out, slowly lifting her head to stare at him, and felt the tears spill down her cheeks, curled up further on her bed.  “Please do not yell at him.  Yell at me.  I was foolish for going out there.” She sniffled a little and winced in pain, coughing a little more, and managed to sit up to a position that didn’t hurt her as much, but had her head bowed in shame.  “I’m sorry, father.  It will not happen again.”


Jerald cleared his throat, looking like he was about to give her that tongue lashing, but the physician showed up.  Instead, he looked at ‘Taker and said, “Your room is right across the hall from Juliana’s.  Come with me.”


‘Taker watched as the doctor instantly tended to Juliana, his green eyes narrowing before following Jerald, leaving the door open behind him.  “Your house is too open to attack.” He said flatly.  “How am I supposed to protect her when you got this place set up like a damned circus?” Jerald didn’t answer.


“Julie, are you alright?” Ken asked, stepping into her room, concern written all over his face, almost to the point of being sickening.  “How bad did he hurt you?”


“He did not hurt me on purpose.  If he did not push me out of the way, I would have been shot, Mr. Anderson.” She managed to get out; tears pouring down her pale cheeks as the physician checked her over, crying out in pain when he pressed a little too hard.  “God this hurts…” She whispered out in a gasp, breathing raggedly, and coughed more as blood came out on her hand, instantly breaking down completely.  “I’m bleeding!!”


Chapter 3


‘Taker appeared in the room, followed by Jerald, who looked shocked.  ‘Taker’s green eyes narrowed when the doctor said she must’ve ruptured something, knowing that was bullshit.  He stalked over to the bed and peered down, seeing two fresh bruises, fingerprint bruises, right over one of her organs. 


“You prodded too damn hard!” He growled, grabbing the doctor by the shirt collar and literally tossed him away from Juliana.  He blinked in surprise when Ken and Jerald just gaped.  “CALL FOR AN AMBULANCE, YOU MORONS!” He roared, taking the bandana off his head to catch the blood from her mouth.


“No please!!” She cried out in fear, her midnight blue eyes widened in terror, and shook her head, causing her to wince more.  “No hospital…” She gasped out, holding her side, and forced herself to calm down, forced herself to take deep breaths.  “I’m fine, ‘Taker.  I don’t need a hospital.” She softly said, coughing a little more, and laid down on the bed, willing the pain to stop.


‘Taker shook his head, cocking his head when he heard sirens in the distance.  Damn, being wealthy had its perks didn’t it?  “You’re going.” He ordered bluntly, wiping blood off of her chin, shooting both Jerald and Ken evil looks, receiving one back from Ken while Jerald looked apprehensive.  ‘Taker stood up and stepped back as EMT’s came rushing in.  Once she was loaded in the ambulance, he joined her, not taking any damn chances. 


While the ambulance was on the way to the mansion, Juliana passed out from how much pain she was in.  She’d never been in this much pain in her life and it scared her to death.  Her body was limp as they loaded her on the stretcher and put her in the ambulance outside of the mansion.  On the way there, they placed a breathing mask over her mouth and nose, determining she had severe abdominal injuries, and stuck an IV in her arm, keeping her hydrated. 


Within a few minutes after arriving at the hospital, Juliana was taken to the emergency room, not needing surgery, but they had to poke and prod at her and give her a full examination.  This meant her dress was cut off in order to do so and was replaced with a hospital gown.  After hours of poking and prodding, Juliana was put in her own room, still knocked out, and she looked paler than ever.  Like a ghost, if that was possible.


‘Taker was sitting in a chair across the room, watching her sleep.  He hadn’t been all that surprised when neither her father nor her fiancé had come.  Though, Jerald HAD called.  How sweet.  He folded his arms across his chest and closed his eyes, not sleeping, just waiting for her to wake up.


A few hours later, Juliana’s eyes slowly fluttered open, groaning softly at the amount of pain her body was in, and slowly looked around her room.  Her eyes were narrowed a little, trying to get her vision on track, and felt her body stiffen when she realized she wasn’t at the mansion anymore.  She looked down, seeing an IV in her arm, and knew she was in the hospital.  Tears started running down her face, knowing her father wasn’t there.  It didn’t surprise her, but didn’t hurt any less either.  She leaned back further against the pillows and closed her eyes, not saying a word.


‘Taker’s eyes shot open when he heard her groan.  He slowly stood up and walked to stand at the foot of her hospital bed, her silent tears not fazing him a bit.  He folded his muscular arms over his chest, staring down at her. 


“You didn’t need surgery though; you’ll be in pain for a few days.” He said almost indifferently.  “Right now, you’re on an IV to keep you hydrated as well as some pain medication.”


“Lovely.” She muttered out, running a hand through her hair, and slowly opened her eyes to stare at him.  She knew he was only there because she was his obligation, but it meant a lot to have at least someone there.  She sighed heavily before leaning further back against the bed, feeling weak.  The moonlight was streaming through the window and set her in a glow as she winced, trying to get comfortable.  “When can I go home?” She asked quietly, not looking at him anymore, her gaze focused out the window now.


“Tomorrow afternoon, providing you don’t start coughing blood again.” He informed her, sitting in the chair next to the bed, studying the monitor that was hooked up to her.  “Calm down.” He advised, seeing her heart was racing.  “You’re like a rabbit, you know that?  Calm down, Jules.” ‘Taker ordered again when it only picked up.  “You ever saw a hummingbird?” He asked her, smirking slightly when she nodded.  “When they get overexcited, their hearts burst.”


She couldn’t help it.  This man petrified her as she closed her eyes and sucked in a deep, shaky breath, letting it out.  She did this several times, even doing some in through the nose and out the mouth, hearing the machine slowly calming down, and felt a strand of hair fall across her face. 


“Sorry.” She mumbled in apology before turning back to face the window, away from him since he was sitting beside her.  Her eyes just scanned the plain room, wishing she was back in her own, and coughed, covering her mouth, and looked down, sighing with relief when no blood was shown.


‘Taker snorted, knowing he had scared her and, truth be told, it amused him.  Seeing her pale face flush, breathing turn erratic…Juliana being scared was actually a bit of a turn on.  He shoved the thought aside, knowing under different circumstances, she would have been his.  As it was, she was a client and he made a point not to fuck with clients…often. 


Her eyes suddenly opened when she heard her door open and tears instantly swelled in her eyes when she seen her best friend.  “John.” She whispered, instantly sitting up in bed, and started crying when he hugged her, burying her face in the crook of his neck.  John Cena was her best friend.  They’d be friends for years, but her father never allowed him to come see her, especially with Ken in the picture now.  John wasn’t rich like her, his family wasn’t poor either, but she didn’t care as she pulled back.  “How did you find out I was here?” She whispered, wincing in pain, but ignored it.


“Came over the news.” John replied, ignoring the man who had suddenly got to his feet, stroking her back soothingly.  “You’re wealthy and your dad is like…royalty or something.  You honestly didn’t think it wouldn’t be announced?”  ‘Taker growled when he heard that.  If her hospitalization had been announced, she’d just been made an even easier target.  He pulled John away from her, pinning him against the wall, and started searching him.  “Hey!  What the Hell are you, Rent-A-Cop?” John demanded angrily.


“‘Taker, stop it!!” She shouted, causing him to release John as he came back over to her, and took his hand in her own.  “He’s my best friend.  I’ve known him for years.  He would never hurt me.” She explained, not looking at him, and sighed when John got a questioning look in his eyes.  “He’s my new bodyguard.” The word left a bad taste in her mouth.  “Until the death threats stop and whoever is doing this is found.” She seen John nod knowingly and winced again, causing him to become alarmed, and held her hand up.  “Stop worrying about me, I’m fine.” She quietly assured him.


“What happened, Juliana?” John asked gently, wishing her bodyguard would take a hike.  He looked up, blue eyes narrowing.  “Hey man, you mind?  Can’t we get some privacy?”  ‘Taker’s answer was to plant himself back in his seat across the room near the door, propping one foot up on a small stand, and folded his arms over his chest, green eyes narrowing back at this young punk.  “What a creep.” John muttered, turning his attention back to his best friend.  “Why are you in here?”


Juliana sighed heavily, patting John’s hand with her own, and started telling him about what happened.  When John went to lunge for ‘Taker, Juliana stopped him, wincing a little more and shook her head.  “Don’t.  If it wasn’t for him, I would be dead right now or seriously wounded…worse than this.  He was only doing his job.  You can’t hold him responsible for that, John.” She spoke softly, still having her grip on the man’s arm, and smiled slightly when he just narrowed his eyes back at ‘Taker.  “My father assigned him to me.  I have no choice, but to have him follow me around.  I hate it, but I’ll have to get over it until this matter is dealt with.  Have you found any dirt on him yet?” She was referring to her soon-to-be husband, trying to find something to get out of this marriage.


“No.  Cleaner than snow, but I’m still looking.” He promised, bending down to kiss her forehead.  “If I asked you to dinner sometime soon to discuss this further, creepy over there would probably have to join us wouldn’t he?”


Giggling softly and wincing for her troubles, Juliana nodded, but then got an idea in her head as she stared into his eyes intently.  “Yes he would.” But her eyes were telling him something completely different and secretly squeezed his hand with her own.  It was their secret hand gesture they did whenever one had to sneak out of the house to see the other.  It’d worked for years and Juliana wasn’t about to fail him now.  “I’m not even allowed out of the stupid mansion.” She groaned in frustration, wincing a little more, and sighed heavily.


‘Taker’s trained eyes had caught the squeeze, the little flex of knuckles.  He shook his head, wondering what these two had up their sleeves and had to give Juliana credit.  She was a sneaky little minx. 


“Isn’t visiting hours over?” He asked pointedly.


John groaned, looking like he was going to give ‘Taker a piece of his mind, but refrained barely.  “I guess I gotta go…before your dog attacks me.” He squeezed her hand again.  “Will you be getting out tomorrow?” He asked softly.


“I hope so.” She replied, smiling at that dog comment, and shook her head before pulling John into her arms, hugging him tightly.  “Tomorrow night, I’ll sneak out.” She whispered in his ear, smiling when he squeezed her back, and groaned, knowing he hit a sore spot.  “Don’t worry, I’m fine.” She assured him with a wink and leaned back against the bed.  John was like her big brother, but they were also really great friends.  She’d often sneak out in the middle of the night to see John and knew her maid, Lucy, would never say anything about it.


‘Taker shook his head, watching as John stood up.  He waited until John was near him and placed a long leg out in front of the kid.  “I suggest for awhile you curb your interest in Jules.” He said in a voice that wasn’t really suggesting anything but ordering.  “She’s a target and all you are is a distraction.”


John snorted in response.  “You need to just stick to your job, Rent-A-Cop.” He pressed on, stumbling when that long leg was raised up even higher and went flying out the open door.


‘Taker shut it behind John and grunted, “Kids.”


“You are not keeping me away from him.” She stated defiantly, cold midnight blue eyes narrowing somewhat and actually stood up from the bed, ripping the IV out of her arm, and threw it to the floor.  “Now then, without my old man in the way, allow me to introduce my REAL self.” It’d all been an act.  Everything she’d pulled that night, even though ‘Taker had landed on her really hard and hurt her, but she was ignoring the pain for the time being.  “My name is Jules.  Not Juliana, not that princess shit, and nothing else.  You call me Jules or you don’t call me anything at all.” The shyness was gone and all that was left was her eyes flaming with anger as she walked over to retrieve the clothes John had left on the side of the bed, immediately sliding into a pair of jeans.  “Now, if you would be SO kind, ‘Taker is it?” She slipped her tank top on before disposing the hospital gown and sat on the bed, her knee bent up while her elbow rested on it.


‘Taker’s temper was up.  Not caring if she was hurt or not, he got up, crossed the room to her and grabbed her by the arms, slamming her into the nearest wall, acid green eyes flashing dangerously.  “Listen here, JULES, incase you didn’t notice, someone is trying to kill your stupid ass.” He growled dangerously, trapping both of her legs so she couldn’t kick him.  “Now unless you want to die, you’ll listen to me.  Else wise, you’re wasting my fucking time!”


“See, that’s where you’re wrong.  I’m not wasting your precious time.  You’re wasting mine.” She didn’t even flinch when he’d slammed her against the wall, folding her arms in front of her chest, and raised an eyebrow up at him.  “You won’t leave because my father is paying you mega bucks, dude.” She knew it.  It wasn’t even a questioning statement.  “You should be protecting him more than me, but fuck it.  I hate that cocksucker anyway so I really don’t care if he gets shot in his fuckin’ head.” No remorse was in her voice as she shoved a shocked ‘Taker off of her and managed to put some distance between them.  “Now then, if you want, you can keep following me around like a lost puppy dog or we can make a deal.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest.


‘Taker shook his head.  “First off, PRINCESS, I have enough money where I DON’T have to work for your dipshit father.  I happen to generally like my job except for when I have to deal with snotty little bitches like you.  Second, I don’t cut deals.  So you can enjoy the rest of your life, what’s left of it, and I’ll stop WASTING your time.”


“What?  Did you honestly think I was that prime, shy little bitch at my daddy’s house?” She started laughing and shook her head, making it sound bitter before turning around to face him.  “You’re more dense than I thought and the name is Jules, NOT Princess.” She took a deep breath to calm down, grunting a little by her injuries, but they didn’t faze her that badly.  “My deal is quite this simple.  You help me get what I want, and I’ll help you get what YOU want.  It’s that simple.” She walked over and slipped on her steel toed boots, lacing them up before sliding on her leather jacket, and walked over to the window.  “Think this is too steep to jump out of?”


Chapter 4


“Let’s find out.” ‘Taker growled, wrapping an arm around her waist before sliding his large body out onto the ledge, dragging her with him.  A minute later, they were on solid ground.  “Looks like it wasn’t.” He pushed her away from him.  “What’s the damn deal?” He demanded, more than a little curious about this sneaky bitch.


Cracking her neck and groaning at the feeling, Juliana crossed her arms in front of her chest and held out her hand.  “Do you see this?” It was her engagement ring she was forced to wear, the engagement ring Ken had given her, and ripped it off of her finger.  “I want him gone.  Out.  I want him gone out of my life.  Now then, I know you want to catch the guy who is following me around and I think I have a pretty good idea who it is.  You help me get rid of my ‘fiancé’ and I’ll give you full access to who the motherfucker is.  Shit, I’ll even tell daddy dearest to give you a bonus for your troubles.” She raked a hand through her black hair.


“I want to catch the guy who’s following you around?  No, I’m being paid to catch him.” ‘Taker corrected her, not about to murder someone just because daddy’s little girl was fucked in the head.  He’d killed before, but on the job.  “I think you need some therapy, Princess.  I’m not your man, find someone else.  Your daddy dearest can shove the bonus right up his ass.  Show them both the balls you’ve apparently sprouted and tell them off, do something.” He shook his head, wondering why the Hell she wasn’t on Prozac or something.


“It’s Anderson.” She softly said when she saw him start to walk away and smirked when he froze in his spot.  “He’s trying to kill me without my father realizing it.” Her voice didn’t hold the cocky tone anymore.  “That was him who shot at us earlier.  He never went to talk to my father.  That’s why I want him gone.  I’m not asking you to murder him, but I’m asking you to help me tell my father.  My father won’t listen to me and I’ve been trying to tell him for months now.  I found out right after the first death threat.  I recognized his handwriting.” She explained, not caring if he was listening or not and reluctantly slipped the ring back on her finger.


‘Taker turned around, studying her intently.  “I don’t believe you.” He said flatly.  “You’ve done way too many personality changes and you’re more than a little mentally unstable.  You show me proof and THEN I’ll think about it.”


“Here…” She walked over and slid the piece of paper in his hand that she pulled out of her coat.  She knew ‘Taker had to of looked over the death threats before taking this job.  She wasn’t that stupid and stepped back.  “That was a letter, a threat he wrote to me right after he found out about you becoming my bodyguard.” She explained, raking a hand through her hair, and started pacing back and forth.  “I don’t have personality changes either, you fucker!” She growled, taking offense to that.  “I have to act the way I do and dress the way I do for my father’s liking or he’ll punish me.  My father is the unstable one, NOT me.  Get it right.”


‘Taker ignored her, studying the paper.  Looked like the threats, true enough, but he knew it didn’t mean jack.  Anyone could find a forgery artist anywhere these days. 


“We’ll see.” He told her finally, not commenting on the personality changes because he didn’t buy that bullshit.  This woman just asked him to kill for her.  She seemed like the type who wouldn’t have any problems whacking her old man upside the head with a fire poker or something.


“You know what?” She shook her head and snatched the piece of paper out of his hand.  “I don’t need your help.  You’re paranoid and you don’t trust me, so forget it.  I don’t trust you either.” She then walked away from him and started running across the street, her black hair flying in the wind, and knew she’d have to find another way. 


He watched her walk away and shrugged.  He was just turning to leave himself when he seen a flash of silver out of the corner of his eye.  “JULES, DOWN!” He barked, running after her.  He shoved her forward and groaned, feeling some kind of throwing knife embed itself in his shoulder.  “NOW I’m pissed.” He grunted, spinning around, green eyes narrowing when he seen a blonde head disappear through an alleyway.


Juliana grunted a little as she landed on the ground with a thud, having heard him bark an order at her.  She was going to turn around and tell him to shove it up his ass, but thought better of it.  “‘Taker!” She whispered frantically and ran to his side, ignoring the pain in her side and seen he was trying to pull the knife out of his shoulder.  “Hold still.” She ordered and was surprised when he did so.  With a mental count of three, she pulled the blade from his shoulder, and stumbled back before dropping the bloody knife on the ground.  “Jesus, you’re bleeding like crazy.” She pointed out, concern in her blue eyes.  “We need to get you cleaned up.”


‘Taker shook his head, pissed beyond belief.  “Follow me.” He grunted, disappearing into a grubby bar.  He knew she was following him as he led the way throughout the bar, nodding at the bartender before disappearing into a backroom.  He reached up onto a shelf and pulled down a black box, setting it on the grungy table, sliding off his vest.  “Know how to sew?”


“Are you out of your fucking mind?” Juliana asked, her eyes widened, and raked a hand through her hair with a sigh.  She knew he wasn’t going to the hospital and just took the black box from him.  Pouring peroxide on the wound, she began sewing it shut, wincing a little since blood was spurting out of the cut, and sighed when she finally finished.  “You’re fucking crazier than me.” She muttered under her breath and shoved the box back on the shelf.


‘Taker grunted, turning to look at the sewing job in a grimy mirror, and nodded grimly.  “Not bad.” He reached into the black box and pulled out a silver flask, unscrewed the cap, and swallowed half of it down.  He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before holding it out to her.  “Or don’t you drink?” He challenged, arching an eyebrow.


Taking the flask from him, she downed the rest of it before throwing it over her shoulder, wiping her mouth off with her leather coat sleeve, and raked a hand through her hair.  “Of course I drink.  How do you think I’ve managed to keep up this act with daddy dearest for so long?” She shot back at him with a raised eyebrow, her arms crossed in front of her chest.


“Fair enough.” ‘Taker replied, experimentally flexing his shoulder.  He grunted, holding up his vest, studying the hole in it.  “That son of a bitch…” He sighed, tossing it in the corner, staring down at her.  “You have a night of freedom.” He pointed out.  “Kenny boy won’t be back tonight.  He knows I seen him so enjoy.  I’m setting up shop back here with a fifth.”


“I don’t want anymore of your help.” She spat back at him, her blue eyes narrowed, and turned around before walking out of the bar. 


There was no way she was going to let him help her when he didn’t even trust her.  Who could blame him?  She knew she knocked him for a loop, but damn it, she was desperate!  Knowing she had to get to the hideout, her and John’s, Juliana walked across the street and down the sidewalk, keeping her eyes peeled for anything to come out and strike her.


“Jules!” John hissed, stepping out of the shadows.  At the look on her face, he smirked.  “I was walking out of the hospital and heard your loud mouth from your window.  What happened?  Where’s Rent-A-Cop?” He looked around as if expecting the big man to appear any second now.


“Gone.” She simply replied, walking over to the corner, and hugged him around the neck before kissing his cheek.  “Thanks for the clothes, bro.” She smirked and raked her hand through her hair with a sigh.  “Ken attacked again, this time with a knife.  He got the Rent-A-Cop right in the shoulder.” She explained, knowing they couldn’t be seen in the darkness.  “John, what if we can’t stop him?” She suddenly asked, terrified for her life even though she didn’t show it.


John sighed, raking a hand through his hair and gently pulled her against him, pressing a kiss to her forehead.  “We’ll find a way, sweetheart.” He promised with determination in his voice.  “How’d he get Rent-A-Cop?  I made a phone call why you two were wherever the Hell you went, he’s supposed to be the best.  That or Ken’s aim is really poor.”


“I don’t care if he’s the best or not.  He’s…I don’t even know how the fuck to describe him, but he doesn’t trust us.  So fuck it.  We can do this on our own.  I don’t need a stupid bodyguard anyway.” She stated, fear out of her voice, knowing she couldn’t lose it now.  Not when they were so close to catching the cocksucker.  “I even showed him the letter Ken wrote me and he didn’t believe it.” She sighed heavily and looked around.


“Do you have any idea how easy it is to forge someone else’s handwriting?” ‘Taker asked casually, stepping out of the shadows before them, now wearing a fresh black leather vest. 


Having decided to follow, ‘Taker wanted to see if she was telling the truth.  As if to prove his point, he whipped out a small notepad from his back pocket and pen, always carrying them to make notes when on the job.  A second later, he had scrawled out a meaningless note in Juliana’s handwriting, holding it out to her.


She didn’t take it, having jumped two feet in the air against John when she heard his voice, and pressed a hand over her heart while holding onto John.  “Damn it, you scared me!” She hissed at him, keeping her voice down, and sighed heavily as she leaned against her best friend.  “We don’t need your help, fucker.  I don’t care if you believe me or not.  John and I can take care of this so you can go back to your little bar with your fifth of whatever you drink and leave me alone.” She wasn’t backing down from him even though her insides were quaking intensely.


“Jack.” ‘Taker replied, smirking evilly, his green eyes gleaming wickedly.  “You really think you can handle this on your own, huh?  That’s amusing since you didn’t even know he was stalking you.  You were seconds away from becoming a shish kabob, Jules.  But…” He shrugged. “You can handle it.  Good luck with that.” Smirking again, he vanished back into the shadows, the perfectly forged note he’d done falling to the ground.


“Damn it.” Juliana cursed, raking a hand through her hair, and watched him retreat.  She knew he was the best and that she needed him to solve this mystery.  Looking over at John with a glare, Juliana took off after ‘Taker and grabbed him by the arm, causing him to stop, and turned around to face her.  “Are you saying you’ll help us or did you just want to prove a point?  We don’t have time for your games.  You tell me right now if you’re in or out.  We can do it without you, but you are very useful and resourceful.” She hated admitting it, but it was the truth and her midnight blue eyes told him the same thing she was saying.


“Face it, Jules.  You CAN’T do it on your own or else it would have been done already.  And I’m in, only because I don’t take kindly to being stabbed.” ‘Taker didn’t look amused.  Actually, he looked downright murderous.  The last person who had stabbed him wound up in the morning paper as an obituary.  “But there is a catch.”


Juliana felt her stomach clenching violently when she seen the murderous intention in his eyes and slowly stepped back from him.  “It depends on what that catch is.” She managed to get out, swallowing past the lump that had formed in her throat.


She tried with all her power to mask the fear that had come over her eyes.  It wasn’t happening.  John appeared beside her, a hand on the small of her back, trying to offer her some reassurance.  Though, when he seen the look on ‘Taker’s face, he too discovered he was currently having a speech problem. 


‘Taker smiled down at the pair grimly.  “It’s done MY way.”


Juliana had actually leaned against John when she heard that, the relief flooding her body, and nodded as she put her thumb up.  “Fine, deal.  You’re the best, according to my bro here, so that’s perfectly fine with us.” She slowly stood back up, the fear no longer gripping her stomach, and squared her shoulders.  “Welcome to the team, ‘Taker.” She smirked at him before turning around to face John.  “We need to get to the hideout and fast.  He could be watching.”


John nodded, leading the way.  He would’ve taken them to his car, but that would’ve been stupid.  They’d of wound up in plain sight.  He knew Juliana didn’t have a ride in town since she’d come by ambulance and he figured ‘Taker had probably rode with her.  He kept hold of her hand and had to keep looking back to make sure ‘Taker was following them.  Always looking mildly surprised when he seen the big man stepping out of the shadows behind them every time, silent as the grave. 


“Finally…” He muttered, spotting their place.


Juliana didn’t waste any time and headed inside, leaving the front door open for ‘Taker to enter since John had a firm hold on her hand.  “John, do you mind loosening your damned grip?” She grunted out, ripping her hand out of his grasp, and glared, shaking it a little.  She then walked into the fridge and smiled when she seen her lovely bottle of Tequila Rose waiting for her.  She pulled it out, kicking the door shut with her foot, and carried it out to the living room.  It was a two bedroom shack with a living room, bathroom, kitchen with a small backyard.  She and John had pitched in to pay for it under false names so Ken had no clue where it was.  She sat down on the couch, making herself comfortable, and took a nice long swig of her Tequila Rose.  “Now THAT hits the spot.”


‘Taker shook his head, having already looked over the outside as they approached; now eyeing the interior.  It would suffice.  He sat down at the table and started pulling out his various knives.  A few guns and some other fun weapons…He laid them all out before him on the table, studying them thoughtfully. 


“Um…what’re you doing?” John asked, standing off to the side and watching.


“Testing them.” ‘Taker replied, picking up a knife and running his thumb down the sharp blade.


“They look like they’re fine to me.”


‘Taker’s eyes gleamed wickedly before throwing the knife out of nowhere.  It whizzed right past John’s head and embedded itself in the wall.  “Yeah…you’re right.”


Chapter 5


“John, leave Rent-A-Cop alone before he ends up slicing and dicing your ass.” Juliana chided with a smirk, shaking her head, and took another swig of her Tequila Rose before setting it on the table.  She leaned back against the couch, popping one eye open when John plopped down beside her, and couldn’t wipe the smile from her face.  “Are you okay?  He didn’t scare you to death did he?” She tried really hard not to laugh, though it’d kind of freaked her out when ‘Taker threw the knife.


“He was this close from giving me a buzz cut.” John replied in a whisper, looking up as ‘Taker calmly walked over to the wall and pulled the knife out with no problem.  “I don’t even want to know WHERE your dad found him.” He sighed, taking the Tequila Rose from her and swallowing down two shots straight.  “Any ideas on how we’re going to bust that son of a bitch?”


“I have no idea.  We keep coming up empty every fucking time.” She sighed heavily, raking her hands through her hair, and bent her knees up, pressing them against her chest, and smirked when she seen John yawn.  “Go to bed, bro.  It’s been a long night for you.  We’ll talk more in the morning.” She took her bottle of Tequila Rose from him, glaring, and clutched it to her chest.  “Mine.  Get your own.” She took another long swig from it before putting the cap on and set it on the nearby table that was beside her.


John kissed the top of her head before heading towards his bedroom.  Er…night ‘Taker.”


‘Taker grunted, tossing a knife up into the air and caught it by the blade repeatedly.  “Night boy.” John didn’t even bother getting riled up, just kept on walking.  “You know you’re going to wind up as bait, don’t you?” ‘Taker said to Juliana without even looking at her.


“I’ve been bait from the beginning.” She replied, not looking back at him, and opened her bottle, taking two more swigs of it before setting it down again.  “You can have the bedroom in the back.  I’m taking the couch.” She informed him and laid down on it, her normal spot, staring up at the ceiling deep in thought.


‘Taker chuckled darkly, moving so he was towering over her.  He bent down, placing a hand on the back of the couch, the other beside her head.  “Wrong kind of bait.” He said, green eyes locked with hers.  “You act like a shy, timid thing around him.  You need to draw him out somewhere.  Somewhere I’ll be waiting.”


Juliana could literally feel her heart lodge in her throat at the look his eyes gave off and swallowed hard.  She closed her eyes for a second before finally sitting up on the couch, knowing he wanted to sit down.  She wasn’t surprised when he did as she scooted over, giving him all the room in the world. 


“What did you have in mind?” She finally asked, raking a hand through her hair, and took the ring off, throwing it on the floor, feeling disgusting with it on.


‘Taker studied the ring thoughtfully, bending down to pick it up.  He held it up in the light before crushing it between his two fingers, tossing it over his shoulder.  “We both saw how you act around Kenny.  Like you are a brainless, wishy washy little…mouse.” He grunted, studying her thoughtfully before smirking.  “Which you’re not.  Do you have any idea where I’m going with this, Jules?”


“Here’s the problem, ‘Taker,” She paused briefly before turning to look at him, her eyes holding nothing but seriousness.  “He knows who I really am.  He knows I’m not that timid little girl who obeys her daddy’s wishes.  He knows the real me.  So your plan is squat as far as using me as bait in that manner is concerned.” She explained to him before turning back around to face the wall.


‘Taker shook his head frowning slightly.  If Ken wanted to get his hands on the Harrison money, marrying Juliana and THEN killing both her and Jerald didn’t make sense.  He was well aware that the two houses had feuded, but it made more sense to marry then murder.  Something just wasn’t adding up here. 


“Why’s he out to kill you both?” He asked evenly.


“If I knew that, I wouldn’t have asked for your help.” She answered quietly, raking a hand through her hair, and felt the tears building in her eyes as she took a deep breath.  “What John and I have come up with is that it’s all about the money, but something doesn’t fit.  We think its more of a grudge than anything else.   Like someone else wants my father dead.  As for killing me, he’d have to marry me first to get the fortune before killing me, which isn’t going to happen.  I’ll end up killing him myself before I marry that cocksucker.” Her tone was even and deadly, hating Ken with a passion.


‘Taker sighed, rubbing his face with his hands.  “Maybe I should just plant your ass in some restaurant with the boy back there and wait for Ken to strike.  Just take him out then.” He thought aloud, playing with the knife again.


“Are you serious?” She started laughing incredulously back at the man and shook her head.  “Get real, ‘Taker.  Ken isn’t THAT stupid.  He knows who John is and has even threatened the man, but John refuses to back down.  He’s seen us together before and before you say anything, no, John is my big brother.” She eyed him suspiciously, knowing he would probably think something like that.  Then again, she didn’t know him as she turned away once more.  “There’s gotta be some dirt we can use against him out there, but we haven’t uncovered it yet.” She sighed and leaned back against the couch, closing her eyes.


“Fact of the matter is this, Juliana.  Ken comes from a wealthy family just like you.  So anything that happens to him is going to be instantly covered by the police and probably a lot of private investigators.  F.B.I.” ‘Taker sounded annoyed.  “Finding dirt on someone like him?  Hardly.  Now I know you’re not THAT naïve.  Money buys anything, including clean records.” His green eyes suddenly flashed and he started to smirk.


“Don’t you think I KNOW this already, ‘Taker?” She growled out in annoyance, knowing they had about as much chance of pulling this off as a shot in Hell, but she had to do something. 


She wasn’t about to walk down the aisle and marry this lunatic who wanted to end her life!  Juliana was so wrapped up in her own thoughts that she didn’t see the flash in his green eyes or his smirk as she opened her bottle of Tequila Rose and took another long swig of it.  She sighed heavily as she pressed her forehead to it, trying to think.


“Tell you what, Jules, don’t worry about it anymore tonight.” ‘Taker said, standing up slowly, cracking his knuckles one by one, looking evil all of a sudden.  “Go sleep in your bed.  Nobody knows about this place right?” When she nodded, he chuckled.  “Good, I’m going to pay your daddy a visit in the morning.  Make sure your brother has whatever he’ll need for a…trip.”


“What the Hell are you plotting, ‘Taker?” Jules instantly demanded, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and raised an eyebrow up at him.  “I’m not going to sleep tonight.  I haven’t slept in weeks so why don’t YOU go back to the bedroom and sleep?” She suggested coldly before taking another swig of her alcohol.


‘Taker arched an eyebrow at her before taking the bottle away.  He shattered it to the floor before pulling her up off her feet, for the second time that night.  “I noticed you haven’t been sleeping, its showing.  You WILL sleep tonight because you’re not going to be any fucking help to anyone when your body finally shuts down from exhaustion.” ‘Taker snarled when she tried to kick him and tossed her over his shoulder, striding down the hallway until he reached her bedroom, tossing her on the bed.  “Don’t make me do something YOU won’t like.”


“You son of a bitch!  Don’t you dare touch me like that again!” She shouted back at him, not believing he’d actually just shattered her bottle of Tequila Rose!  She stood up from the bed and took off her boots, hurling them at him.  Being steel toed, they hurt like a bitch.  One clocked him right in the face and the other on his injured shoulder.  “I’m not going to tell you again, you WON’T touch me, prick!” She shouted, shaking from head to toe from both anger and fear, knowing she probably just signed her death warrant.


The boots didn’t even seem to faze him, his green eyes narrowing dangerously.  ‘Taker raised a hand to his face, feeling the spot the boot had hit.  It hurt like a bitch, but he didn’t show it.  Instead, one second he was standing at the foot of her bed and the next he was on top of her, straddling her waist.  He held her arms over her head in one hand and clamped the other over her mouth. 


“Listen here, PRINCESS, I already told you once.  MY way or NOTHING.” ‘Taker felt his shoulder throbbing and that just pissed him off even more.  “So the next time you don’t listen to me, I’m going to do a bit more then just TOUCH you, got it?”


Juliana was screaming against his hand over her mouth, making them muffled, and glared at him with icy midnight blue eyes that turned to fireballs spitting back at him.  She started thrashing her body back and forth while wrenching her wrists free of his hand, trying to get free.  She knew she’d crossed the line, but she wasn’t about to listen to him. 


She wasn’t one to be pushed around, especially when OUTSIDE of the mansion.  She kept screaming, squeezing her eyes tightly shut, and hoped John could hear her.  Even though she knew he couldn’t, especially with how deep of a sleeper he was.


Sighing, ‘Taker uncovered her mouth only to lean down and stifled her screams with his lips.  He could feel her stiffen in shock and didn’t stop, coaxing her lips apart to delve his tongue inside her mouth, searching out and exploring her crevices.  Finally, he pulled back, staring down at her swollen lips and smirked slightly. 


“Good night, Juliana.” He said, moving off of the bed.  ‘Taker didn’t give her a backwards glance as he walked out of the room, taking her boots with him.


Juliana could only lay there on the bed, frozen solid, like an ice cube.  Her eyes were widened and she was having a hard time breathing, especially with her internal injuries and whatnot.  Feeling him straddling her didn’t really help or all of her muffled screaming. 


Her lips burned, tingled, something she’d never felt before.  The only men she’d ever kissed were Ken and John and both were foul to her, even though John was much better than Ken.  This, however, was not. 


Slowly moving her hand, she could do nothing, but lay there like a corpse in a coffin.  The shock suddenly wore off and Juliana was finding herself getting pissed.  She slowly sat up on the bed and walked out of her room, down the hallway and out the back door, slamming the door so hard the hinges rattled and the walls shook.  She didn’t care as she leaned against the ledge, her head spinning, and needed some Tequila Rose to calm down her racing heart, the fire engulfing her body. 


‘Taker shook his head, having been outside to take a breather.  Kissing the wench had shut her up, but it’d turned him on.  He just watched her, leaning against the side of the house, smirking when he seen her touch her lips.  Though, his eyes narrowed when he noted the bottle in her hand. 


Juliana had retrieved another bottle of Tequila Rose from the crate outside, knowing John kept a stash for her, and had to smirk.  ‘Taker thought he was slick, but she was much slicker as she opened it and took a swig.  She had to admit, the man could kiss, damn well in fact. 


She shook herself mentally, wiping the kiss from her mouth with her arm and actually spit, trying to get his taste out of her mouth.  She drank more and finally sat in a chair that was on the deck, staring up at the stars.  She wasn’t lying when she said she hadn’t slept in weeks. 


How could she when someone wanted her dead? 


“He better leave me alone or I’ll hurt him.” She whispered to herself before putting the cap back on her bottle and set it down beside her.


‘Taker watched Juliana and shook his head.  This woman had a drinking problem at the wrong fucking time.  He sighed heavily, wondering if she was out to get herself killed or not.  He heard her whisper and frowned, knowing she was scared, but still…self discipline!  Speaking of which, his was beginning to falter when she stretched, her top riding up. 


“Now, honestly, was the kiss really that bad?” He asked, letting her know he was out there, somewhere, hidden in the shadows.


“Leave me the fuck alone right now.” Her tone was final, no room for argument, and spit again, knowing she’d have to brush her teeth.  Did she have a drinking problem?  No.  She only did this on occasion, especially after almost getting shot and stabbed in one fucking night!  This bastard had a lot of nerve actually asking her a question like that and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  She sighed heavily, staring down at the bottle, and finally tossed it aside, not caring if she just busted it or not.  She then leaned back against the chair, a sneer on her lips.  “Happy now, Rent-A-Cop?”


“Not really.” ‘Taker replied honestly.  “For someone who about died twice today you sure as Hell aren’t acting like it.  Instead of trying to rest yourself for what’s ahead, you’re out here drinking like a damned fool.  Slick as you are, Juliana, what the Hell would you do if you passed out here and your fiancé somehow found you?  What then?”


“At this point, I honestly don’t care if I live or die, Rent-A-Cop.” She stated, meaning every word that came out of her mouth, and laughed bitterly.  “You think I drink all the time, right?  You’re sadly mistaken.  I don’t drink unless I absolutely have to and tonight called for it.  I almost got shot and stabbed, that would drive anyone to drink so just go back in the fucking house and quit pretending to be my bodyguard.  I don’t need one.” She never tore her eyes from the sky, not knowing where he was, and honestly didn’t care.


‘Taker shook his head, walking up behind her.  “I told you not to waste my time, Juliana.” He said in a low, dangerous tone of voice.  “If you don’t care whether you live or die then you should at least have the balls to inform your brother.  Maybe he’d like to live and being around you, the target, isn’t going to help him with that any, especially since you DON’T care.”


“You think I don’t care what happens to me?” She stood up from the chair and whipped around to face him, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and glared hatefully.  “No, I said I don’t care if I live or die, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to live.  It just means that I’m ready for death if its my turn to fucking go.  You don’t get it and you never will and I’m sick and tired of explaining it to you.  You don’t want to help?  Fine, then fucking leave you rotten piece of shit and take your attitude with you!” She snapped before stalking into the house, shaking from anger again, and collapsed on the couch, where she was to begin with.  ‘Taker shook his head once more before disappearing into the night.


Chapter 6


John emerged the following morning, his hair sticking up in spikes.  He looked down at the couch, not surprised to find Juliana still awake and frowned, looking around.  “Where’s Rent-A-Cop?” He asked, dropping down in the chair.


“How the fuck should I know?” She snapped back at him, knowing ‘Taker was long gone probably, and she honestly didn’t care.  He’d pissed her off last night and she really hoped he was gone for good.  It would save her a lot of trouble from getting manhandled and kissed against her will.  “I hope he went to find a different girl to manhandle and kiss cause it sure as Hell ain’t gonna be me again.” She stated, seeing John’s blue eyes widen, and sighed heavily.  “Do not ask because right now, I’m about two seconds away from going over to the Anderson mansion and burning the fuckin’ place to the ground.”


“A different girl to manhandle and kiss huh?” ‘Taker’s voice mocked her.  “If you would have shut the fuck up, I wouldn’t have had to kiss you.” He glanced at the still in shock John and rolled his eyes behind the sunglasses he wore, dropping a suitcase down in front of the couch.  “Clothes in there for you, Juliana.  I spoke with your father, in front of Kenny, and informed him I was taking you somewhere safer since there was another attempt made on you.  Ken was MOST distressed when he heard that.  He sends his love.”


Juliana spit the orange juice out that she’d been drinking, coughing considerably, and patted her chest as John came to her side.  She finally managed to stop wheezing, looking at the suitcase before her, coughing more.  Then, she looked from John, back at ‘Taker, and then back at it again. 


“HUH?” That’s the only thing that would come out of her mouth as John patted her back more.  “Man, remind me to NEVER be drinking something while you talk.  Who knows what the fuck is going to come out of your mouth.” She winced when she coughed more, but dealt with it.


‘Taker smirked, peering over at her over the top of his shades.  “Check.  John, go get dressed and packed.  We leave in less than twenty minutes.” He ordered.


John nodded, looking at Juliana questioningly before getting up as he softly asked, “You going to be alright?”


“NOW John.” John bolted, remembering that knife from last night and didn’t want to relive a second incident.


“I’m not going anywhere with you.” She stated defiantly, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and set her orange juice down before picking the suitcase up off the floor.  “I told you last night, I don’t want your help, Rent-A Cop and I meant it.” She wasn’t going anywhere with this man, not trusting him for a second, and couldn’t believe how fast John had bounded down the hall.  Not that she blamed him.


“Oh really?” ‘Taker arched an eyebrow, holding out a few Polaroid’s.  It showed some serious damage to her bedroom, threatening messages scrawled on the wall in blood red paint.  “For some unknown reason the police just can’t seem to find anything to pin it on anyone…” He shrugged his shoulders.  “Ken’s going to try to take you out for good sometime very soon and he won’t be making many mistakes, he might even bring in a professional hit man.  But then again, like you said, you don’t want my help.”


“Christ…” Juliana whispered out and slowly took the Polaroid’s from him, their fingers brushing together momentarily, and started sifting through them. 


She couldn’t take it anymore and threw them on the floor before bringing her knees up and burst into tears.  Wrapping her arms around her legs, Juliana just started sobbing uncontrollably, not able to help it.  NOW she was scared to death. 


Ken had never vandalized her personal property like this and it scared her half to death.  She couldn’t move or do anything, but cry and sob her heart out, not caring who heard or saw anymore.  This was her life on the line and she couldn’t understand why nobody could catch him.


‘Taker studied her thoughtfully, finally sitting on the couch besides her, reaching out to awkwardly pat her back.  He didn’t know what else to do; this comfort thing wasn’t his bag.  “Juliana, you and I just have to come to an understanding or something.  I’m going to help you whether you like it or not because that cocksucker REALLY pissed me off today.” ‘Taker growled, remembering how Ken had innocently asked what happened to his shoulder.


Slowly lifting her head up, the tears streaming down her cheeks freely, Juliana took a deep breath and closed her eyes again.  “I’ll do whatever you want, ‘Taker.  I’ll listen and comply with whatever you want to do.  Just please, help me rid of that asshole for good.”


Her voice was a soft whisper, desperation evident in it and buried her face in her knees again, trying to calm down.  ‘Taker nodded, gently wrapping an arm her shoulders and pulling her up against him.  His eyes widened when she buried her face against him and lightly rubbed her back. 


“DUDE NO!  Get your hands off my sister!” John groaned, walking out in a pair of baggy blue jean shorts and a white beater.  “Juliana…What the Hell?”


“He’s not hurting me, John.” Juliana said in a soft voice, pulling away from ‘Taker, and wiped her tears away from her eyes as she sighed heavily.  “Are you all packed and ready to go?” She asked her best friend, raking her hands through her hair, and buried her face in her hands.  When John went to protest, Juliana stopped him.  “We’re going with him.  We need his help whether we like it or not, whether I like it or not.  You don’t wanna go with us?  Fine, don’t go, but my life is on the line.” The Polaroid’s from her room were spread all over the floor as she sighed even deeper.


John walked around the couch, picking them up, his blue eyes widening when he seen them.  “Holy shit…” He looked at Juliana then at ‘Taker, squaring his shoulders.  “Lead the way…”


‘Taker nodded.  “Got a car waiting outside, let’s go.  I have some of your things in the trunk, Jules.” He told her softly.


She could only nod and picked up her suitcase, sighing when John took it from her, and shook her head.  They all three walked out of the front door and into the waiting car.  Juliana was in the passenger seat while John opted for the back, wanting to lie down, and ‘Taker was driving.  Juliana looked out the window as she leaned her elbow on the armrest and sighed heavily. 


So many thoughts ran through her mind; Juliana wondered what the connection between Ken and wanting to kill her, and marry her, was.  There had to be something there that they’d missed.  She wasn’t sleeping; she knew that, and just watched the scenery go by, not even wishing her father good luck.  She knew Ken would end up killing him now that she was being taken away.


‘Taker was silent as he drove, not saying a word, trying to figure out the connection himself.  Obviously it wasn’t the money or else Anderson would have WAITED to kill them.  That and he knew this wasn’t about Jerald.  This had something to do with Juliana.  Anderson was trying way too hard to kill her. 


‘Taker figured making it look like Jerald was the target was a way of keeping things somewhat on a level, but now it was all falling apart.  ‘Taker gripped the steering wheel tighter, it all came down to the woman beside him.  Then again, ‘Taker still owed Kenny boy.  The bastard had put a hole through his favorite vest. 


Who was helping him?  That’s the only question that went through her mind as they rode in silence, sighing deeply.  It couldn’t be his father that would be too obvious. 


No, this was somebody they weren’t thinking of.  Somehow, deep in her heart, Juliana knew that this wasn’t even about the fortune, or maybe it was along with the grudge.  She sighed again, staring out the window, and leaned her forehead against the cool glass window, smiling a little when she heard John snoring in the back. 


The boy could sleep through a damned tornado.  On the other hand, Juliana hadn’t slept in weeks, going into almost two months.  Too scared to sleep for fear her life would be over. 


That thought made her shudder as she raked a hand through her hair and closed her eyes.  ‘Taker glanced at Juliana, seeing her eyes were closed, but he knew she wasn’t sleeping.  He sighed inwardly before concentrating again on the road.




“We’re here.” ‘Taker announced, pulling into a long driveway, a two story weathered house coming into view.


John groaned, “Mom…five more minutes…”


‘Taker parked the car, arching an eyebrow.  “Junior…” His voice took on a stern tone, like he was a father berating his child.


“Please mom?  Just five…”


Juliana couldn’t help, but start laughing, shaking her head at her joking brother, and slid out of the car.  The house was a good sized, she’d admit that, and seen they were out in the middle of nowhere.  She walked over to the door and opened it before starting to pull John out of the car.  She smirked when he jolted up and hit his head on the roof, since he was big and the car was small for his size…even more so for ‘Taker. 


“You should’ve got up when father instructed, Junior.” She joked and shook her head before going to retrieve her suitcase.


John groaned, sliding out of the car and rubbing his head, looking around.  He had to blink several times before getting used to the sunlight, staring at the house.  “It’s so…so…normal.” He said finally.


“What the Hell were you expecting, kid?”


“I don’t know…something like a bar of maybe a shed…not this.” John ducked the swing aimed at his head.  “It was a JOKE, ‘Taker.”


Ohhhh…” ‘Taker drawled, swinging John’s bag to him, getting the younger man in the gut with it.  “I don’t like jokes.”


Juliana didn’t pay attention to them, too fixated on the house.  This was really secluded and it made her uncomfortable.  Then again, she knew Ken would have a hard time finding this place, especially with how many back roads and whatnot ‘Taker took to get them here.  She lugged her suitcase with her up the stairs, leaning against the doorway, and waited for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum to arrive as she shook her head. 


“Children, are we QUITE finished arguing?” She called out to them with her hands on her hips.


“Yes mother!” John called out in a high pitched voice.


‘Taker shook his head, walking up the steps to her.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key, unlocking the door, and stepped inside.  He looked around, having not been here in several years and the place looked it.  It was dusty as Hell. 


“You might not want to inhale too much.” He called back over his shoulder.


“Christ…” Juliana coughed as she waved the cloud of dust in front of her face away, and walked inside, seeing it resembled a natural southern home.  A little manly for her taste, but this wasn’t her damned house so what did she care?  She followed ‘Taker down the hallway, admiring the pictures on the wall, the few of them that were there, and raked a hand through her hair.  She growled when John took her suitcase from her and snatched it back.  “I’m not a fucking porcelain doll, BRO!  I can fucking carry my OWN bag!”


“Yeah, but…” John took it again, groaning when he was clocked upside the head by ‘Taker, the bag taken from him and shoved back into Juliana’s arms. 


“Children, are we QUITE finished arguing?” ‘Taker asked, mocking what Juliana said earlier.


“Man, don’t like jokes my ass.” John muttered, following them up the stairs.


“Your room, kid.” ‘Taker said, pushing open a door and nodding at John.


“Well damn…” John whistled, stepping in.  “Nice, dusty…but nice.”


“And yours, Jules.” ‘Taker opened another door right across the hall, stepping back, and allowed her to enter.


“Thanks.” She murmured softly and walked inside, seeing the midnight blue drapery with the matching carpeting, and the white furniture.  She walked inside, setting her suitcase on the floor, and couldn’t believe how big it was.  She ran her fingertips over the dresser and sighed, seeing so much dust, and knew what was to be done.  She didn’t say a word to ‘Taker as she walked out of the room and downstairs, searching for something.  When she found it, she dragged all of the cleaning supplies out and bellowed.  “JONATHAN, COME HELP ME NOW!”


“Aww Hell, she used the full name.  I’m in trouble.” John groaned, growling at the amused look ‘Taker shot him.  “What IS your real name anyway?”




“Under-like…one of…an undertaker, undertaker?” John asked hesitantly, causing ‘Taker to nod, a grim smile on his lips.  “COMING JULIANA!” John shouted fearfully, smiling at ‘Taker nervously before heading downstairs, dust flying as he darted by.


Juliana shoved a can of spray at John with a rag and smirked when he groaned more.  “Hey, this house is fuckin’ dusty as Hell and I for one am not going to be sneezing every five minutes.  Now get your ass moving!  Start with the front and work your way back.  Then we’ll go upstairs and do the rooms…” She trailed off and bit her bottom lip, clearing her throat loudly.  “OUR rooms, I mean.” When John gave her an amused grin, she shot him a deadly glare.  “Can it, bro.” She then went to start dusting the shit out of this place.


‘Taker shook his head, having gone outside to empty the trunk of the coolers he’d brought.  He put the food away, finally opening a can of beer, smirking when he seen John.  “Damn…she has you housebroke don’t she?” John flipped ‘Taker off.  Shaking his head again, ‘Taker headed outside to check out some things, peeling off his denim vest and tossing it aside, already beginning to roast.


Juliana was busy at work, spraying the condiment before wiping away the dust.  She finished the living room, seeing it sparkle an hour later and wiped her forehead, already roasting herself.  She quickly went to open every window she could find, letting the summer breeze through, and smiled before getting back to work.  She headed into the kitchen, wiping every single thing down, cabinets included.  She screamed and jumped back when a huge black spider jumped out at her, causing her to flip over the couch, hitting her head on the coffee table. 




“Jules, are you alright?” John demanded, rushing over to help her up.  “Hey how many fingers do you see?” He waved three fingers in front of his face, his blue eyes shining with concern as he felt the lump on her head.  “Jules?”


“Goddamn spider!” She growled out in a groan, holding the back of her head, and screamed when it started crawling at her.  “Kill it!!  KILL IT NOW!!  IT’S GOT A FUCKING GUN, JOHN!!” She was terrified, absolutely petrified of the damned things as she backed away, and ran down the hallway.


John heard that and lost it, falling back onto the couch laughing his ass off, tears streaming down his face.  “Run Jules!  The spider has a gun and it’s coming for you!” He shouted, banging his fists down on his knees.  His blue eyes widened when he seen the spider right in front of his face, crawling on a large hand.


“What’s the matter boy?  Don’t like spiders?” ‘Taker asked casually.  “Oh…you’re afraid it might be packing a gun…”


“That’s not fucking funny, you fucking asshole!  I hate your fucking guts!!” She shouted back at him, tears streaming down her face of pure fear, and threw the can and rag down.  “Fuck you, John!!  I hate you, you fucking prick!!  I hope that fuckin’ spider pulls out his gun and shoots your ass!!” She then ran upstairs, wiping her tears away, and slammed her bedroom door shut.


‘Taker sighed, hearing that and knew his peaceful household had just been shattered.  “Good going, moron.” He said flatly, looking down at the spider.


“Kiss my ass, you damn-” John’s eyes widened to the point of popping out of his skull when the spider was shoved in his mouth, followed by ‘Taker’s hand clamped over his mouth.


“Chew.” He ordered gravely.  John didn’t have much of a choice, but to crunch down, the spider wiggling in his mouth too much to take.  “Now swallow.” John did, fighting back puke.  “Good boy.” ‘Taker patted John’s head.  “Next time, don’t fuck with her.” The second ‘Taker was up the stairs, John was outback puking his guts out.


Chapter 7


Juliana was on her bed, going through her clothes, when she heard a knock on the door.  “Go away, you asshole!!” She shouted angrily, not believing what John had said when he KNEW how terrified she was of those damned eight legged creatures.  She shuddered as she folded her clothes more, her back to the door, and growled when the door opened.  “John, you have TWO seconds to get out before I fuckin’ throw you out my window!” She threatened dangerously, not turning around.


“Well Jules, you can try, but I’m a pretty hard man to lift off the ground.” ‘Taker said, sounding amused.  He leaned in her doorway, folding his arms across his bare chest, and watched her.  “You alright?  The spider is dead.”


She whipped around and had to catch her breath at the sight of him bare chested before her.  “Sorry, I thought you were…” She didn’t even have to say it and sighed, looking down at the floor, and began trembling all over.  “He knows I hate those damned things and always makes fun of me for it.” She growled out angrily, her voice full of hurt before turning back around to fold her clothes again.  She couldn’t look at ‘Taker anymore for fear her body would go up in flames due to the heat.


‘Taker smirked wickedly.  “I’m fairly certain John feels really bad about it, Jules.  I don’t think he’ll be teasing you anytime soon.” He said nonchalantly, KNOWING John wasn’t going to be teasing her.  He arched an eyebrow, watching her before walking over to the dresser, opening the drawers one at a time, wiggling the handles to make sure it wasn’t going to fall apart on her.


“I hope so.” She muttered under her breath and jumped when he started opening her drawers, not expecting him to walk into her room, slowly turning around to face him.  She was holding a pair of panties and immediately threw them in her suitcase, raking a hand through her hair and bit her bottom lip, knowing he’d caught her.  Red handed.  “Thanks for…for killing that…thing.” She managed to get out in a shaky voice, her heart beating a million miles a minute it seemed, and hoped it didn’t fly out of her chest.


‘Taker nodded, another slow smile spreading across his sensual lips.  “Not a problem, it was a pleasure.”


He truly meant that.  He slowly walked around to the bed, leaning down to pick the panties up off the blanket, her throw having been a little off.  ‘Taker just held them out to her, dangling them from his fingertips just out of reach.


Juliana felt her entire face grow four shades of red as she looked away from him, trying to snatch them out of his grasp, and glared when he moved them out of her reach.  “That’s not funny, ‘Taker.” She stated, going to reach for them again, and growled when he pulled them back again.  “Give them back!” She ordered, sliding off the bed and started following him around the room.  “I said give them back, they’re mine!”


“Well they sure as Hell ain’t mine.” ‘Taker chuckled, backing against a wall.  He held them over her head, snorting when she tried to jump and grab them, his body brushing against his.  His breath caught in his throat and he wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her against him, lowering his mouth so it just hovered over hers.


Juliana stared back into his eyes; lips mere inches from his own, and felt her entire mouth go dry suddenly.  She snaked her pink tongue out, licking them and, just before he could kiss her, she reached up, snatching her panties from his grasp.  Got’em.” She whispered, her heart pounding furiously in her chest, and she could feel her entire body light on fire just by him holding her in his arms.  No matter how much she wanted to push away, she couldn’t. 


“That’s alright, I got you.” ‘Taker whispered back, capturing her lips with his. 


He smirked when she melted against him, reaching down to take the panties from her hand, and stuffed them in his back pocket.  He captured her hands when she went to reach for them back and pulled them up around his neck.  Moving his arms around her, his strong hands automatically cupped her ass.


Her heart literally leapt in her throat when he said that and kissed her.  She drawled when he snatched her panties from her, but she couldn’t pull away from him as her arms locked around his neck.  She moaned softly in his mouth as she ran her hands from his neck down his arms, feeling the muscles twitching beneath her touch, and tried reaching for them again.  She groaned when he caught her hands, slowly pulling back, feeling her head spinning rapidly, and had to blink several times. 


“Give them back to me.” She ordered breathlessly, her hands now pressed against his chest, trying to steady herself.


“Why?” ‘Taker murmured, kissing up and down her throat gently. 


Finally, he pulled away from her, staring down at her flushed face, swollen lips.  His eyes were now a dark forest green color, darkened over with passion.  ‘Taker gently ran his thumb over her lower lip, trying not to smile when all she did was gaze up at him.


“Because they’re mine.” She replied, her long black hair flowing down her back, and felt the passion haze slowly clear. 


Stumbling away from him, touching her swollen lips, Juliana raked a hand through her hair, not believing what just happened.  The first time he’d kissed her was to shut her up, but now this time, he did it just to spite her.  Her midnight blue eyes narrowed back at him as she walked over, snatching back her panties that he’d dragged out of his back pocket, and turned around.  Her back was facing him and threw them in her suitcase before slamming it shut. 


‘Taker shook his head, knowing she was going to have an attitude and shrugged.  He wasn’t here to deal with her temper tantrums.  He was here to make sure her pretty little ass stayed alive. 


“Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.” He murmured, walking out of the room.  ‘Taker headed downstairs, smirking when he seen John lying on the couch.  “Looking a little green there, boy.”


John managed to get a shaky middle finger up, still traumatized.


“Never again.” She promised herself, shaking her head back and forth, and blinked back the tears in her eyes. 


Once she heard him walk out of her room, she shut the door and locked it, not wanting anymore visitations from him without her consent.  How could she kiss him like that?!  She didn’t even know him!  Juliana raked a hand through her hair hastily and sighed before going back to putting her clothes in the dresser drawers, her mind leaving ‘Taker for the time being.  It suddenly turned to the man her father was trying to force her into marrying.


The man who wanted her dead…Ken Anderson.  She felt her entire body tremble as she rubbed her arms with her hands, trying to rid of the chills that flowed throughout her body, and walked over to the vanity mirror.  Her pale complexion stared her in the face as the tears ran down her cheeks and knew she’d have to comply with whatever ‘Taker wanted to do about this situation.  As for him kissing her, that was never going to happen again.  It would happen over her dead body.




John recovered sufficiently an hour later enough to be hungry, having finally managed to bury his spider snack deep in the recesses of his mind.  That little episode would be saved for about ten years down the road when he needed therapy.  “What’s for dinner?” He asked ‘Taker, walking into the kitchen to find the big man standing at the sink.


“Food.” ‘Taker grunted, peeling potatoes with a vengeance, like the spuds had personally wronged him.


“What kind?” John pressed.


“The kind you fucking eat, now grab a knife.” ‘Taker ordered, mildly annoyed with this kid.




Juliana finished unpacking her things, making sure everything was the way she liked it, which was clean.  She’d been so used to keeping her own room cleaned that it was a habit.  She then started cleaning the room, having found a bottle of cleaner underneath the bathroom sink with a rag, and started dusting her room. 


The cool summer breeze blew through the window as she walked over, staring out of it, and sighed.  She’d changed into a pair of black cotton shorts with a white tank top, too hot for anything else, and she was barefoot.  She loved the feeling of the soft carpeting beneath her feet and loved squishing her toes in it.


“Hey Jules, open up.  It’s time to eat.” John knocked lightly on her door.  “I’m sorry for what I did, I know I was a jackass.  You can punch me if you want.” He stared at the closed door.  “Come on, I made fried potatoes, steaks, some kinda salad thingy.” He coughed, glancing back at the stairwell incase ‘Taker was lurking.  “Well…I had some help…but it’s edible!”


Sighing resignedly upon hearing John’s voice, Juliana turned around and stared at the door.  After contemplating it for a few minutes, she finally walked over and unlocked the door, leaning against the doorway with her arms crossed in front of her chest.  She didn’t say a word to him, hurt shining in her midnight blue eyes, and sighed when he pulled her into his arms. 


“You’re forgiven, jackass.” She murmured, smiling when he tightened his grip on her, and rubbed his back before pulling away.  “Now I KNOW you don’t know a damned thing about cooking so I’m venturing to guess Rent-A-Cop did it.” It wasn’t a question.


John cleared his throat.  “Well, I DID help!” He protested, holding up two bandaged fingers.  “I peeled potatoes…” John ignored the exasperated look she shot him.  “Is it my fault my area of expertise is in the prepackaged foods?  Come on, admit it, I can microwave a mean pizza.”


‘Taker was busy setting the food out on the table, it being too small for three people.  He shook his head at the blood stains on the counter.  “Damn kid…” He muttered, washing it off, hardly believing the boy didn’t even know how to cook something as simple as a damn steak.


Laughing softly, Juliana bounded down the stairs with John hot on her heels, after calling him Edward Scissorhands.  “I didn’t mean it!” She squealed, running down the hallway, her hair flying behind her, and ran over to the other side of the table.  “You deserved being called that after that incident you pulled today, Jonathan!” She stated with a smirk on her lips, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and eyed him.  “Bring it and watch what happens to the rest of those precious fingers of yours.” She threatened sweetly.


John groaned, looking alarmed when ‘Taker drove a knife in the middle of the table.  “Encourage her why don’t you?” He muttered.


‘Taker arched an eyebrow, looking alarmingly innocent.  “You got an overactive imagination, kid.” He said evenly before fixing his own plate, shooting Juliana a curious look.  His eyes raked over her tank top and shorts she’d changed into, smirking slightly.


“Okay…what was that about?” John demanded in a whisper when ‘Taker had walked out of the kitchen to make himself comfortable on the couch.  “Rent-A-Cop is fuckin’ creepy.” He shivered, suddenly tasting spider, and put back the second spoonful of potatoes he was about to put on his plate.


Sighing heavily, Juliana raked a hand through her black hair before making a small plate, not really that hungry anymore.  She started eating and then shoved the plate away before standing up, shaking her head.  “I can’t eat.” She whispered, feeling her stomach clenching, and held her hand up when John stood.  “Don’t start with me.  Just eat your food.”


She buried her face in her hands and closed her eyes, wishing this nightmare would go away.  Wishing she could get the feeling of ‘Taker’s lips off of hers.  There was NO way she was going to tell John what happened because he would end up putting his foot in his mouth.


John set his own half finished plate of food aside to walk around the table and put his arms around her.  “It’ll be okay, Jules.” He whispered, rubbing her back soothingly.  “Nothing is going to happen to you.  I won’t let it and you know ‘Taker has your back, even if it’s because he wants to kill Ken for uh…getting his vest.  He’s the best there is, hasn’t ever failed.  Come on; let that bit of info calm you down.” He kissed the top of her head, wishing there was something he could say or do to ease her fears.


“It’s easier said than done, bro.” She quietly whispered, but she didn’t push away his comfort.  She needed it now more than ever, especially now that Ken knew she was with ‘Taker somewhere.  “I know there’s nothing I can do about it and I know I shouldn’t worry about it, but this is my life at stake and yours.  Ken wouldn’t hesitate to put a bullet or knife through your heart after helping me for so long, John.” She pointed out, raking her hands through her hair, and stood up from the table.  “Eat.  I’m going outside for some air.”


She then walked away from him and slid open the door that lead to the backyard, closing it behind her, and allowed the tears to fall down her face.  She hated crying in front of people.  It wasn’t her thing.  It made her show weakness when she did it in her mind.


‘Taker walked into the kitchen, arching an eyebrow when he seen John picking at his plate.  “Where is she?” He demanded, not having seen her go upstairs.


“Outside.  She needed some time alone.” John replied, standing up to grab ‘Taker by the arm when he headed for the back door.  “Didn’t you hear me?  She needs to be ALONE.”


“Maybe you’re not aware of the fact that Ken and probably someone else wants her dead.” ‘Taker said calmly, grabbing John’s hand and twisting.


“Good point.” John gasped.  “Maybe you should go check on her.”


‘Why is this happening to me?’ She kept asking that question in her mind, wondering when her life became too complicated. 


Truth be told, she didn’t care about her father’s fortune or her family’s for that matter.  It was always the furthest from her mind.  Juliana used to be like she acted around her father in real life.  She used to be weak, timid and shy, but that all changed one night at a party John took her to their senior year in high school. 


A guy tried taking advantage of her and Juliana snapped, breaking the man’s back with a lead pipe, and ran from the scene.  John started showing her the ways of life after that.  The ways her father hadn’t shown her and now here she was.  She was tough, but she was still scared to death that Ken would find her and take what he wanted in the end.  ‘Taker might’ve been the best, but Ken was smart and he had the money to back up his resources. 


They were unlimited.


Chapter 8 


‘Taker followed Juliana as she wandered the property, sighing when he seen her straying way too close to the woods that marked the end of his land.  He halted, knowing she was going to stumble on the old graveyard that had been used way back when by whoever had lived there. 


“Be careful.” He said, reaching out to catch her when she tripped over a small, crumbling tombstone.  “It’s getting dark so it’ll be hard to see.”


“Thanks.” She muttered, yanking her arm out of his grasp, and raked a hand through her hair as the sun began slowly descending on the horizon.  “What are you doing out here?  I told you, I don’t need a bodyguard.” Her voice was flat, no emotion in it, and looked down at the ground, trying to watch out for more tombstones.  They were sticking up from the ground, but buried pretty much, except for the corners.  Juliana suddenly wondered why this man would buy a house that was right next to a cemetery and suddenly felt her entire body shiver with dread.  “You kill people and bury them back here, don’t you?” She asked, half joking, though her voice held a sense of fear since she knew he wasn’t going anywhere.  He was going to be by her side even when there wasn’t danger lurking in the shadows, which unnerved her.


“Would you like me to get you a shovel and you can find out?” ‘Taker retorted in a humorless tone, green eyes glittering wickedly when she backed away from him.  “Careful Jules.” His hand shot out to grab her wrist again when she once again went flying over another tombstone.  “You might land in a fresh one.”


“God, you are morbid.” She whispered harshly, snatching her wrist out of his grasp, and stared back at him with fear filled, midnight blue eyes.  “You’re sick you know that?” It was more of a statement than an actual question as she turned around, once again trying to navigate her way through the cemetery, shivering from both fear and dread at the same time.  This man scared her.  Truly scared her.  She wanted to be far away from him, but knew she needed his help.  “I told you once before, don’t touch me.”


‘Taker rolled his eyes, looking thoroughly exasperated with her.  “Obviously I’m sick, I like my job don’t I?” He growled at her, wrenching her around so she could see the graveyard in the fading sunlight.  “See them spots where the ground looks like it’s sinking in?  You about sent your ass into one of them, which would’ve meant you’d be lying in some nasty hundred year old coffin.” He shook his head, letting go of her.


“It’s not my fault that you decided to buy a damned house by an old cemetery!” She shouted back at him, growling in frustration, and threw her hands up in the air before heading back to the house.  “Stop following me!” She ordered angrily, hating the fact that he was being her shadow.  It unnerved her and scared the shit out of her.  She gasped when she tripped, groaning as she scraped her knee, and let out a terrifying scream when she seen a boney hand sticking out of the ground.  “OH MY GOD!!” She scrambled to her feet and instantly bolted back to the house, her eyes as wide as potatoes and terrified behind belief.


‘Taker shook his head, following her slowly.  He stopped to stomp on the hand, smirking when it crumpled into dust under his boot.  Damn woman was thicker than a tree.  He TOLD her the ground was sinking in, what the Hell did she expect?  Snorting, he followed her, knowing she was probably going to be going into shock or something any minute now. 


“Women…” He grunted.


John caught Juliana on the back porch, having seen her running towards the house, and heard her screams.  “What happened?” He demanded.  “What’d he do to you?” His tone was pissed beyond belief.  “If he laid so much as a finger on you, so help me God, I’ll kill him!”


“He’s fucking crazy!” She cried out in fear, trembling from head to toe, and wrapped her arms tightly around John’s neck, her heart pounding furiously in her chest.  “He has a fucking cemetery back here!!  He’s probably gonna cut us up in little fucking pieces!!” She started shaking violently as John’s blue eyes widened in shock, causing her to cry harder.  “I tripped over a human skeleton of a hand!  This guy is fucking crazy!!”


“He WHAT?” John roared, his own overactive imagination beginning to kick into hyper drive.  “A cemetery?  Like a fucking graveyard?” His blue eyes widened more, remembering what ‘Taker had told him.  “He said his name was Undertaker…Undertaker, one of those…A GRAVEYARD?” John shoved her towards the living room in the house.  “Oh my god…little bitty pieces…” He froze when he seen ‘Taker leaning in the doorway, looking calm, tossing a knife up and down, always catching the blade in his hand.


“Where you going?” ‘Taker asked calmly, trying to hide the amusement in his eyes, having heard their little panic fest.




“Good, I didn’t want to have to cut you up into little itty bitty PIECES!”


That was all Juliana could take as she bolted out the front door and out of the house.  She didn’t care where she went, where she ended up, but she just knew she was getting the fuck out of here!  This guy was crazy, had a fucking cemetery in his backyard, and had scared her to death.  Tears streamed down her cheeks as she kept running down the street, seeing night had fallen, and couldn’t believe how deserted they were. 


It didn’t matter to her though.  She said a quick prayer, hoping she could find a way out of here away from this lunatic, who would probably end up murdering them himself!  What if he was working for Ken all along?  That thought made her shudder as she picked up the pace, running even faster.


“YOU MORON!” John shouted, following ‘Taker out the door.  “See what you did?” Now he knew ‘Taker had been fucking with them.  The man had a way too morbid sense of humor.


‘Taker ignored him, following Juliana, reaching for his gun when he seen someone who wasn’t John or Juliana through the woods alongside of her.  “JULES!” He bellowed, frowning at the dim moonlight, wishing it was day.  He fired a warning shot, hoping to scare off the person.  “GET YOUR FOOL ASS BACK HERE!”


She screamed when she heard a gunshot, immediately rolling on the ground in a nearby field, and felt the tears rolling down her cheeks harder than ever.  She scrambled up to her feet and jumped up again before running faster down the road.  There was NO way she was going back in that house.  It would either be a cold day in Hell when she did or over her dead body.  She looked up, seeing the dim moonlight, not giving her much light, and didn’t see the rock in front of her. 


She tripped over it, doing a complete flip in the air before landing on her back on the hard gravel below, groaning out in pain as she slowly got up, wincing at her back, “Damn it!!”


“JULIANA!” John screamed, seeing her do the flip and in a burst of speed flew to her, crying out when he took a bullet to the leg.  Apparently whoever was in the woods had aimed for Juliana’s head.  “FUCK!” He exclaimed, dropping down beside her.


‘Taker growled, halting besides them, his green eyes following the assailant as whoever it was, probably Ken, but something told him it wasn’t.  He fired off another shot, not surprised he missed, but felt a grim sense of satisfaction when a yelp echoed throughout the woods, apparently startling the person.  He glared down at Juliana before looking at John, bending down to pull the younger man up and across his shoulders. 


“Get your ass up and march back to the house.” He ordered in a deathly, calm voice, his eyes daring her to fuck with him.


“Fuck you!  You’re fucking crazy!” She shouted back at him, stumbling away from him, and felt her eyes widen when she seen blood pouring down John’s leg, but she was more concerned about HER well being at the moment.  “I’m not going back to that fucking house so you can kill us!  How do I know YOU’RE not working for him and this is all one big fuckin’ death trap?” The amount of fear that gripped her insides caused her to lose her breath as she coughed, breathing heavily from running, still backing away from him.


“You’re a damned fool, Juliana Harrison.  If I wanted to kill you, I would have snapped your neck when we were out in that damned maze.” ‘Taker spat.  “I had plenty of chances to ring your throat and don’t I wish I’d of done it.  You can go ahead and stay out here with the REAL killer.  I’m taking your friend back to the house to tend to the bullet that was meant for YOU!” He spun around and started walking back to the house, his boots crunching on the gravel.


Maybe she overreacted a little bit, but who wouldn’t?  This man was intimidating, strong, powerful and had a house that was practically on a graveyard!  She watched as ‘Taker carried John back to the house and immediately took off after them, pulling John from his shoulder, and groaned when her brother landed on top of her.  She was going to take care of him, not this lunatic, and screamed when another bullet whizzed past them. 


She looked up at ‘Taker with fear filled eyes and bolted into the house, knowing he’d get John, running up to her room, slamming the door shut behind her and locked it before collapsing on the bed.  She was trembling from head to toe and tears were streaming down her cheeks.  If ‘Taker was working for Ken, he had flawless acting skills.


‘Taker groaned, dropping down to hoist John over his shoulder, shooting back in the direction the bullet had come from, knowing there was two people out there.  He retreated backwards, his footing sure.  He instantly tossed John on the couch before shutting and bolting the front door.  He glanced towards the stairs as he walked out to lock the back door, making sure windows were locked as well. 


“Lock the damned windows up there, Juliana!” He barked, moving back out to help John, who was groaning, his face a bloody mess from hitting the gravel.


Juliana immediately stood up and rushed over, locking the window of her bedroom, and then realized he’d said windows.  She had to come out of her room?  Taking a deep breath, she slowly walked over and opened her door before walking into John’s room, locking his window, and then walked into the bathroom that was down the hallway. 


She locked the window before finally arriving at a black painted wooden door.  It had to be ‘Taker’s room.  With a shaky hand, she slowly pushed the door open, seeing how dark it was, and slowly stepped a foot inside.  She just had to close the windows and everything would be fine as she headed over to the first one, latching it shut before going to the second.


“I’ll be back.” ‘Taker said, making John hold a towel to his bleeding leg. 


He headed upstairs to get his own little medical kit, halting when he seen his bedroom door open.  He had told her to lock all the windows and should have known she’d be in here.  He flicked on the light, revealing the black painted walls, black carpet, black bed and bedding, everything was black, the way he liked it.  ‘Taker didn’t say a word as he crossed the room to the dresser, getting into the top drawer. 


The final window, which was in his master bathroom, was hard as hell to push down.  With all her strength, Juliana pushed it down and latched it, taking a few deep breaths since her heart was pounding in her ears.  She heard some commotion, immediately grabbed the toilet plunger, slowly stepping out of the bathroom and was ready to attack when she saw him. 


She immediately dropped it at her side, but didn’t let it go as she carefully made her way to the door, freezing when he said something behind her.  She threw it down and bolted to her room, locking the door behind her and backed away from it, landing on her bed and scooted back.  She was terrified right now.


“FUCK THIS HURTS!” John screamed, stuffing a pillow over his face. “AHHHHHHHHH!”


“Quit your bitching.  It’ll hurt a lot worse if I don’t get the bullet out.” ‘Taker snapped, John’s leg propped up on his knee.  He was using a pair of freshly sterilized tweezers to pluck out the bullet.  “You moron, stop moving!  I had it!” He growled, purposely hitting flesh.


“JUST SHOOT ME!” John shrieked out in pain.” No!  That-AHHHHH!”


“Christ, all that fuss over one little bullet.” ‘Taker shook his head, holding up the tweezers for John to see, which was coated in blood.


Juliana stayed in her room, flat out refusing to come out and covered her ears every time she heard John’s screams, tears streaming down her face.  She knew ‘Taker was either cutting him up in little pieces, which made her sick at the thought, or helping him out with his bullet wound.  She’d made her mind up. 


She wasn’t staying here. 


She was going to talk to John about running away after ‘Taker was sleeping that night.  She was terrified of the man and didn’t trust him, especially after that graveyard incident.  She started crying harder, burying her face in her hands, wearing a midnight blue night gown that went to her knees and they were pressed against her chest, curled up against the wall in the far corner of the bed.


‘Taker sighed, having had to knock John’s pansy ass out for screaming too much when he went to stitch up the small wound after cleaning it.  Hearing a man shriek, like a six year old girl, made him sick to his stomach.  Finally, ‘Taker hoisted John’s unconscious form into his arms and carted his dead weight ass up the stairs. 


He kicked open John’s bedroom door and deposited the man on his bed, staring down at him for a minute.  Juliana had almost gotten her friend killed because she couldn’t reign in her fucking imagination.  Scowling, he crossed the hallway to her bedroom, rolling his eyes when he felt the door was locked.


“Open up.” He ordered, already picking the lock.


“No.” Juliana shook her head repeatedly, refusing to do it, and started crying harder. 


She knew she’d been foolish earlier, but she couldn’t help it.  ‘Taker had scared the shit out of her and she didn’t want to see him right now.  The fear gripped her insides as she felt him messing with the doorknob, instantly pulling the comforter up, covering herself with it.  Beginning to physically shake so hard, the bed moved while her teeth chattered. 


She drew her knees up further, wrapping her arms around them, and buried her face in her knees as she curled up in a nearby corner of the bed, her back pressed against the wall.  The bed had a midnight blue drapery over it since it was a four poster bed, but she didn’t care at the moment.  She just wanted to be away from this place and, more importantly, away from ‘Taker.


Chapter 9


‘Taker stepped into the room, putting the little lock pick back in his pocket.  He glared down at her, hands on his hips, looking positively furious.  “You need to pull your head out of your ass, Juliana.  If I wanted you dead, you’d be DEAD!” He roared angrily.  “You’re alive so do the damned math.”


She jumped when he shouted at her, causing her to tremble even more as she scooted further back, even though she had nowhere to go.  She refused to look up at him, her head buried in her knees, and held herself tightly.  How the hell could she trust this man when he constantly scared her to death?  She wanted to be with John right now, in his comfort.  He was her big brother, blood or not, and hoped he wasn’t angry at her.  She knew she made a mistake, but ‘Taker didn’t have to berate her like a damned child as she trembled harder.


“John is out cold.” ‘Taker added, as if reading her mind.  “He’s also going to be fine, no thanks to you.  We need to get something straight right now.  If you EVER pull what you did tonight, I WILL snap your neck and bury your ass out back six feet under, you got me?  There are TWO people out there gunning for your damned head.”


She didn’t move. 


Trembling in fear, Juliana held herself tighter.  The comforter was wrapped around her like a cocoon, so it hid her lower half well.  Her black hair pooled around her like a curtain, hiding her tears of pain and sorrow from him.  She wasn’t going to speak a word to this monster that she was forced to stay with.  Not one single word.  When he went to bed that night, she would wake John up and drag his ass with her back home.


‘Taker sighed heavily, dropping down onto the bed and pulling her struggling form onto his lap.  Wrapping his arms around her, ‘Taker pinned her arms at her sides so she couldn’t lash out at him.  “Don’t run from me, Juliana.  You won’t last an hour out there, not with two people gunning for you.  And John wouldn’t be able to walk very long.  You don’t know where you are, your miles from anybody…you need me.” His tone had gotten softer and softer.


She was shaking so hard, her teeth were chattering as the tears kept falling down her face.  Not only did this guy scare her physically, but now it was mentally!  He was reading her mind and scaring her even more, but she knew if she made a move, he would probably end up snapping her neck like he threatened prior. 


Her chest was heaving so hard and her breathing was incredibly ragged from crying so much.  His tone growing softer made her trembling slowly deteriorate, even though it was still there full strength.  She couldn’t help it.  ‘Taker terrified her to death and Juliana knew she’d have gray hairs by the time this was all said and done.


‘Taker started rocking her back and forth, knowing he had to calm her down, before she ended up having a nervous breakdown on him.  “Calm down, Jules.  I’m not going to hurt you.” He murmured in a soothing, deep voice.  “I took a knife for you, didn’t I?  You think I’d honestly do that for someone I planned to hurt?  Calm down.” He gently stroked her back, trying to soothe her trembling and crying.


Juliana knew he was right and deep down in her heart, she knew he would never hurt her.  She didn’t know why, but it was just that sixth sense feeling she got.  She very slowly began to calm down, trembling stopping, but the tears kept spilling down her cheeks and landing on his arms below.  She didn’t care though as she leaned her head against his chest, before wrapping her arms around his neck, face burying in the crook of it.  That graveyard bit had literally scared her to death as she trembled a little at the memory, taking a few deep breaths to calm down.


‘Taker was more than a little surprised when she wrapped her arms around his neck, disconcerted when he felt her hot tears beating down on him.  “Don’t cry, darlin’…” He murmured, his accent beginning to seep through his tone.  “Come on now…I didn’t mean to upset you.” He was having a hard time believing this was him talking, but he shrugged it off, knowing she wasn’t going to be any use to him if she had a breakdown.


Juliana slowly pulled back from him, her hands resting on his chest, and brought one up to wipe her tears away, finally having calmed down.  His voice had done the trick as she took a few more deep breaths to calm down, letting another tremble overtake her body, and breathed through it.  She raked a hand through her hair before wiping her tears from his neck. 


“Sorry.” Juliana muttered, sighing heavily, and sniffled as she breathed in through her nose and out the mouth.  “I didn’t mean to…to run.” She finally spoke, her voice quiet.  “I got…scared and…I’m sorry.” She whispered those last two words out before burying her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking as she started crying again.


‘Taker wrapped his arms around her again, rubbing his hands up and down her sides.  “I didn’t help you any with that.” He admitted softly.  “I shouldn’t have tried to scare you after what you seen down in the graveyard.” He admitted to himself that it had been funny at the time; downright hilarious actually, but right now, he felt a bit like an asshole for purposely frightening her.


After calming down again, Juliana slowly looked up into his green eyes; hers still filled with unshed tears and looked away, before staring at the door, finally looking down at her lap.  She’d been a fool to actually run, even if he did scare her or not.  Her life was in danger and she’d almost gotten John killed. 


“Is he okay?” She whispered out softly, sniffling a little more, and leaned against him.  His strength and warmth he possessed was too much for her to resist as she closed her eyes again, the tears still falling.


‘Taker nodded, reaching out without even thinking to catch her tears on his forefinger.  He licked his finger clean, savoring the taste of her salty tears.  He stared down into her blue eyes, becoming lost in them.


“He’ll live.  I had to…medicate him because of the pain.” It was a half-lie.  “But he’ll be fine.  He had some superficial wounds on his face.  He’ll be alright.”


“Okay.” She whispered back in reply, noticing he’d licked his finger after wiping her tears away, but it didn’t bother her.  Surprisingly enough.  She sighed heavily, swallowing hard, and raked a hand through her black hair as she started trembling again at the thought of that graveyard.  “I’m never going out into the backyard again.” Juliana coughed a little since her chest hurt from crying so much.  She’d speak with John in the morning, knowing ‘Taker either used abuse or something actually medical to knock him out.


‘Taker heard her whisper and inwardly rolled his eyes.  What was so damned scary about a little graveyard?  He actually found it quite soothing, but then again, like he’d already been informed countless times, he was a morbid person. 


“Are you going to be alright?” He asked gently, knowing she still hadn’t slept and wishing she would.  Actually, now that he thought about it, ‘Taker suddenly got an idea.


As if reading his mind this time, Juliana sighed as she slowly lifted her head to stare at the wall.  “It’s not that I don’t like graveyards.  It was…” She paused and sighed.  “Forget it, no I’m not okay.  I won’t be okay until this is all solved.” She raked a hand through her hair and closed her eyes again; knowing sleep wasn’t coming on this night.  She would end up laying down, staring up at the ceiling for countless hours until the sun rose, and would be downstairs sitting on the couch or wherever.


‘Taker moved so he was sitting back against the wall, pulling her so she was sitting between his outstretched legs, back to his chest.  He gently moved his hands up onto her shoulder, thumbs on her neck and began to massage her, applying gentle pressure to her pressure points.  “You need to sleep, Jules.” He said softly, his voice a deep rumble.


“I can’t.” She whispered out, her hair draped over her shoulder, and pooling down, the ends brushing against the comforter below. 


Juliana closed her eyes and sighed, not having had a massage like this since…ever.  She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had one.  She couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept.  She leaned further against him, loving the feeling of his strong, muscular hands on her body, and felt a shiver course down her spine, but she didn’t shiver physically.  It was all inwardly.


“I know you can’t.” He murmured, keeping up with that pressure.  He watched her head start to sway and smiled to himself.  Whether she liked it or not, she was going to sleep.  ‘Taker didn’t stop until she lolled her head back against him and only then did he wrap his arms down along her waist, resting his hands on her stomach.  He rested his head on top of hers and sighed.  “Good night, Jules.” He murmured in her ear.




It was dark. 




Some place she did not want to be as she tried adjusting her eyes to the darkness.  She stopped, shivering from dread, hearing his voice, feeling his hot breath against her skin.  She knew it was him.  She knew he wanted her dead and gone.  Why she didn’t know and could already feel the tears streaming down her face.  Looking down as a white light suddenly shined on her through the darkness, Juliana seen herself encased in a white wedding dress, and trembled even more. 


Before she knew it, a priest, her father, and even ‘Taker were there, watching her as Ken held her close to his side, an alter appearing.  She wanted to scream, wanted to do something, but she couldn’t.  It was almost as if her vocal cords had stopped working, along with her body function.  Just as the priest pronounced them husband and wife, Juliana finally felt her vocal cords as she screamed out just as Ken’s lips descended on hers…




“NO!!!!!” Juliana let out a terrifying scream as she bolted upright in the bed, sweat caking her body, tears streaming down her cheeks.


‘Taker hadn’t been sleeping; he’d been listening to the noises outside of the house.  They were just normal nightmare noises, but one could never be too sure.  He had felt her start to tremble in his arms and knew she was having a nightmare.  He’d been about to wake her when she screamed and shot up, his arms instantly tightening around her frame. 


“Calm down Jules, you’re safe darlin’.” He whispered soothingly.


Her breathing was erratic and her body was covered in sweat as she looked around hastily, taking in her surroundings.  Her big midnight blue eyes widened and started crying hysterically when she realized it was just a dream.  Or rather a nightmare. 


“That’s why I don’t want to sleep!” She cried out, shaking from head to toe now, and drew her knees up to press against her chest.  “I have nightmares every time I do!!”


‘Taker pulled her against him, rubbing her back soothingly.  “I know you don’t want to sleep, Juliana and I understand why, but you needed to.  You slept for two hours, which is better then nothing.” He said calmly.


She started crying harder, the dream replaying in her mind, and pushed away from him, almost falling off the bed, but he caught her wrists and pulled her back against him.  “You were there…You didn’t stop him or anything!” She started sobbing harshly, trembling in fear for her life.  “You just stood there…” She squeezed her eyes tightly shut, the tears never stopping, and actually gripped the front of his shirt with her tiny fists.


“It was a dream, Juliana.  Just a dream.” ‘Taker soothed, trying to calm her down.  “You’re just scared because of what happened tonight.  You know I’d never let him do anything to hurt you.” He pressed a gentle kiss to the top of her head.  “Come on, quit crying.  You’re safe.” He assured her, hating to see her cry.


“You promise?” She asked, finally lifting her head up to meet his eyes, which looked like two emeralds staring back at her, and sniffled a little. 


She had to trust him.  She had to put her life in his hands, but she wanted his promise first.  The dream had scared the Hell out of her, worse than the graveyard did as she tried to stop trembling.  Juliana was vulnerable, scared to death and fragile, even though she’d never admit it.


“I haven’t let anything happen to you yet, now have I?” ‘Taker asked gently, smiling slightly when she slowly shook her head.  “You have my word, Jules.  As long as I’m breathing, I’m not going to let anybody hurt you.  Alright?”


Nodding, Juliana immediately calmed down when she heard that and wrapped her arm around his waist, snuggling against him, and sighed raggedly.  “I trust you, ‘Taker.” She whispered softly and closed her eyes, her entire body relaxing instantly against him, and knew he would protect her with his life.  She had to put her whole faith and trust into him, just like she did with John.  It would be hard, but if she wanted to stay alive, she would do it.  “Thank you.” She whispered out, her tears stopping, knowing she was in good hands with ‘Taker.  Even if he did scare her and intimidate the shit out of her at times.


‘Taker moved so they were lying down on the bed, keeping her pulled up against him, resting an arm over her waist, the other underneath her head as a sort of pillow.  He studied her tear stained face thoughtfully in the moonlight.  Knowing there were only a few short hours before the sun rose and sighed softly. 


He leaned forward and gently kissed her cheeks.  Juliana didn’t mind lying in bed with him, knowing he was doing it to protect her.  She sighed when he kissed her cheek, knowing it was tear-stained, and snuggled further against him. 


She closed her eyes, his warmth and power calming her tormented soul.  The man had scared her to death earlier, but now he was showing a different side to him that both unnerved and soothed her at the same time.  She sighed again, her black hair splayed over the pillow and down her back, and stared at the wall.  She knew ‘Taker was going to be watching her like a hawk now, especially after being attacked by those two shooters.  She just hoped he didn’t back out of this deal.


Chapter 10


‘Taker watched her as she fought sleep, knowing those two hours would take a toll on her.  Especially after sleeping for two hours and then waking up like she did, her body would be screaming for sleep.  He lightly traced his hand up and down her sides, knowing she was relaxed, but still feeling the need to soothe her. 


“What’re you thinking, Jules?” He asked softly, never stopping his administrations.


“I’m thinking about how all of this is tied together.” She answered softly, sighing as she felt his fingers run up and down her side, but never moved or flinched.  She didn’t even tense.  That’s how soothing his touch was.  “I mean, I can understand why Ken would want to marry me, but why would he want to kill me and my father?  He’d already have the fortune if he married me.”


She sounded both confused and frustrated as she closed her eyes again, fighting her body the sleep it craved, and opened them again, staring at the wall once more deep in thought.  What was the motive?  The connection?  There was something there that they missed and Juliana knew it.


‘Taker had been puzzling over that himself since earlier, even more so when he had spotted the two shooters in the woods.  “Is there anyone from your past you might of pissed off?” He asked, arching an eyebrow down at her.  “Because obviously this isn’t about money.”


“No, that’s just it.  There’s nobody in my past that would want to hurt me.  I hardly knew anyone.  That’s how sheltered my life has been, especially now with Ken after me.” She sat up a little on the bed, resting her elbow on her hand, entangling her fingers in her hair, and sighed heavily.  “There’s a motive there, but I can’t figure out what it is.  John and I think it has something to do with the family vendetta the Anderson’s have against the Harrison’s, but killing my father wouldn’t benefit them any.  The wedding was supposed to merge the two powerful families together and make one giant dynasty.  Why Ken would want to kill me and my father is still the question unanswered.” She felt exhausted just talking about it, but knew she wouldn’t be sleeping.  Not after that horrible nightmare she just had.


“Family vendetta…But why target you?  You are the main focus of Anderson and whoever else is after you.” He didn’t bother stating that Jerald was most likely dead at his desk by now, guessing she probably already knew that.  “And why end a vendetta by killing you when he could have just married you and ended it that way?”


‘Taker’s green eyes narrowed.  He was just repeating everything already said aloud.  Voicing his own thoughts, listening to himself, trying to find the piece of the puzzle he had overlooked.


“There’s obviously something we’ve missed.” Juliana stated the obvious as she sat up on the bed and bent her knee up, resting her cheek on it, and leaned back against ‘Taker when he pulled her into his arms again.  He was doing it to protect her, yes, but there was something else there too.  Juliana couldn’t think about that right now as she kept focused on the task at hand.  “Ken has unlimited resources.  Maybe I should just turn myself in and accept my fate.” She quietly whispered as defeat entered her voice mixed with exhaustion…sheer physical and mental exhaustion. 


The past four months had really taken a toll on her.


‘Taker growled warningly, turning her and reclining so she was lying out sprawled on his chest, piercing green eyes boring into hers.  “I don’t ever want to hear you say that again.” He said firmly, holding her arms in his hands gently, this time watching how much pressure he used.  “Your fate is nothing but a bullet to your head, is that what you want?  No, it’s not.  Because, if it was, you wouldn’t have come back to the house and locked yourself in this room.”


“I’m sorry, but I’m just so frustrated right now.  I’m losing hope.  It’s been four months and nothing.  Not one damned clue except those stupid letters that I know Ken wrote.”


She sighed heavily and pressed her forehead to his chin, knowing he didn’t like hearing what she just said.  Honestly, Juliana wanted to live.  She wanted to run away from her family and live on her own, to finally have peace and tranquility in her life.  She wasn’t even thinking about a family, just getting her own place and living by herself.


‘Taker sighed, wrapping his arms around her and gently rubbed her lower back, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.  “We’ll get him…we’ll get them both.” He promised her.  He had every intention of killing Anderson and now he was out for the second shooter, pissed for not realizing there were two people out there after Juliana, until it was too late.


“Not your fault, ‘Taker.” She whispered softly, reading his mind again, knowing he felt personally responsible for what happened earlier on. 


Closing her eyes and finally moving her head to rest against his chest, Juliana didn’t want to go anywhere.  She was perfectly content lying on top of him, hair on the side so it didn’t bother him as it pooled on their sides close to the wall.  It was long and thick as she sighed deeply and closed her eyes.  She heard his steady heart beat and smiled, snuggling further into him, and slowly began to breathe steadily.  She wasn’t sleeping, but completely relaxed.


‘Taker groaned softly when he felt her lay her head on his chest, feeling her body shift ever so slightly.  He hadn’t forgotten their earlier kiss.  In fact, it had been on the forefront of his mind for most of the night up until the little incident down the road.  Now however, he was back to thinking about how soft and pliant her lips had been and felt.  He was debating on whether or not he wanted to risk scaring her by taking another from her. 


Juliana was thinking the same thing ‘Taker was and could still feel his lips lingering on hers.  She didn’t know what to think about it except the fact that it felt damn good.  She’d only kissed two other guys besides ‘Taker and that was John and, unfortunately, Ken.  She’d kissed John in high school, but that didn’t last long, both felt too freaked out, and they’d stayed best friends ever since then. 


Sighing as she opened her eyes, the thoughts of ‘Taker flowed through her mind; Juliana stared over at the wall.  That was the same wall where he’d stolen her breath away with that kiss earlier on.  No, she couldn’t think about it right now.  She couldn’t get involved with someone like him.  It was dangerous to not only her life, but her heart as she closed her eyes once again.


‘Taker had caught her staring at the wall, knowing what was going through her mind.  The same thing that was replaying itself in his own, that damn kiss.  He had only been playing with her, not planning on kissing her like he did, but damn it, he couldn’t help himself.  And he sure as Hell wasn’t sorry for it. 


“Jules…” He rumbled, causing her head to pop off his chest and leaned forward, capturing her lips in a light kiss.


Juliana was shocked that he’d kissed her, but it quickly faded as her body lit on fire.  She let out a moan and wrapped her arms around his neck, scooting further up his strong body, and sighed before pulling away.  She looked down at him, seeing that same smoldered look in his green eyes, and felt her body tremble against him.  That same look had haunted her mind since it happened earlier on and she had to admit she loved seeing it. 


“‘Taker…” She whispered out breathlessly, that light kiss taking her breath away.  Even though it was nothing compared to the last one, and ran a hand through her long black tresses. 


“Juliana…” He murmured, staring into her eyes, his piercing green ones searching out her very soul it seemed. 


He gently cupped the back of her head and pulled her towards him again, kissing her once more.  This time with more fire and hunger.  He rolled her onto her back, never breaking the kiss and laid on his side.  Leaning over her, ‘Taker braced himself on one hand so he wouldn’t overly startle her.


She slowly broke the kiss, her breathing erratic, and laid back on the pillow, her hair splayed all over it.  The man was gorgeous and his eyes entranced her in a way that she didn’t understand.  Her chest was heaving up and down and she was finding it hard to calm down her racing pulse. 


“We can’t…” She gasped when he took her in his arms and kissed her again, wrapping her arms around his neck, and pressed him closer to her. 


What was she doing?  Did she want this?  What about him protecting her?  What would happen after this was all said and done?  So many questions ran through her mind, but as soon as she felt his tongue slip in her mouth, all rationality flew out the damned window.


‘Taker growled hungrily, his tongue exploring her mouth, tasting her and knowing he had to have more.  His hands moved down her back to her ass, pulling her against him.  He finally trailed his mouth down her throat.  Nipping, licking and sucking her tender flesh, ‘Taker wanted nothing more then to spend the rest of the night right here exploring her beautiful body. 


Soft moans escaped her lips as Juliana tipped her head up, giving him further access, never having experienced what she was feeling at the moment.  He was causing something to stir inside of her that felt like a rushed forest fire, and pulled him closer to her.  She didn’t even know the man for two days and already she was making out with him.  She slowly pulled back, staring into his eyes, and tried to catch her breath, tried to get her mind on track.


“I can’t…”


She gasped out when his hand began caressing her smooth flesh below, through her panties, and closed her eyes.  The sensations were too great to ignore as she completely melted against him.  She just hoped he didn’t take it all the way, especially when her mind was too foggy and clouded for proper judgment.


‘Taker rubbed his thumb against her clit in slow, teasing circles, sliding a finger up and down her wet slit.  “Why can’t you?” He murmured against her lips, flicking his tongue out to tease her, smirking when she automatically parted her lips.  He didn’t hesitate at the invitation.  The thought never crossing his mind that she might still be a virgin.  “You feel so good, darlin’…” He whispered, licking his lips before kissing her again, now beginning to slowly slide one long finger inside of her.


Juliana cried out softly against his mouth when she felt his finger slide inside of her, causing her breathing to instantly become ragged from passion.  Her tongue dueled with his, her hands running up and down his muscular chest since he came to her room with no shirt on.  She knew this was wrong, that she shouldn’t be doing this with him, but it felt too good to stop.  Too damn good. 


“‘Taker please…” She managed to gasp out, her face contorted in both pain and pleasure from how tight her walls were contracting around him. 


Plus the burning sensation that was flooding her body.  She would never tell him she was a virgin as she laid there, his lips ripping from hers, and gripped his wrist when he went to add a second finger.  Her breathing went from ragged to sporadic in a matter of seconds.


‘Taker wasn’t a fool.  He’d been around the block several times and instantly pulled away from her, staring down at her.  He wasn’t confused, angry or disappointed.  Actually, he rather admired her for still being a virgin.  He seen the look in her eyes though and bent down to kiss her lightly. 


“You are a special one aren’t you?” He murmured, caressing the back of her face soothingly with one hand while licking her juices off his fingers.


Juliana was blinking rapidly up at him, the passion haze slowly leaving her mind, and raised an eyebrow up at him.  “W-What?” She finally managed to get out, her heart pounding in her ears, and leaned into his hand as the tears filled her eyes when he just gave her a knowing look.  “Yeah…” She didn’t know what else to say as she slowly sat up on the bed, raking a hand through her hair, and sighed heavily.  Damn it, she’d been close to sleeping with this man she barely knew!


‘Taker moved so he was sitting besides her, stretching his legs out alongside hers, wrapping his arms around her waist, and rested his chin lightly on her shoulder.  “Upset Jules?” He asked softly, nuzzling her neck.


“I don’t know.” She whispered in reply, not able to stop herself from leaning against him, and slowly pulled away to stare into his eyes.  There was obvious sexual tension between them, but Juliana knew she had to put a stop to this before it went any further.  “‘Taker, as much as I’ve enjoyed this, we can’t do this again.  I’m not stupid.  I may be…special, but I know that I’m your assignment and nothing more.  I don’t have a problem with that.” She patted his leg in reassurance and raked a hand through her hair.  “Please don’t be upset with me.  I just…”


What the Hell else could she possibly say at this point?  Nothing that’s what!  Her body was on fire, her mind was clouded, and she didn’t understand what the fuck was going on anymore.


“You stopped being my assignment a long time ago, Juliana.” ‘Taker said calmly, arching an eyebrow at her.  “As for being upset, why would I be?” He took her hand, mildly annoyed at her patting his leg, almost like he was a child who needed being calmed down.  ‘Taker stood up from the bed, pulling her with him, his green eyes searching hers out.  “Do you want me?” He demanded, voice harsh with passion.  He bent down to kiss her, letting her know she was much more than an assignment at this point.  “Do you?”


Her mind was screaming no while her heart was saying yes.  Juliana was so confused right now and it didn’t help that he was making her mind spin at the moment.  Her eyes held such sorrow and want as she slowly pulled away from him, turning around, and wrapped her arms around herself as she sucked in a shaky breath while closing her eyes. 


“No, I don’t.” She finally said, knowing that was a lie, but she refused to have her heart broken. 


If she stopped this now, she could just move on and think of him as her protector until after this was over with.  Then he would be gone again.  He would be gone and she wouldn’t have anything, but a few lousy memories to live off of.  In her mind, if Juliana couldn’t have the whole pie and just a slice, then she didn’t want any of it.


‘Taker stared down at her, both of them knowing damn well she was lying through her teeth.  She wanted him just as much as he wanted her.  He wasn’t about to force himself on her though.  ‘Taker nodded, his lips curling into a slight smile before bending down to kiss her again, this time not stopping until she was gasping for breath, both pushing him away and pulling him against her.  He let her go and stepped back, his eyes raking over her trembling body, and knew it was from desire, not fear. 


“When you’re ready to admit you want me as much as I do you, let me know.” He said before walking out, closing the door behind him.


As soon as the door closed behind him, Juliana collapsed on the carpeted floor, her knees completely giving out on her, and pressed a hand to her heart.  Her lips were swollen and her entire body was flushed and lit on fire.  Tears welled up in her eyes as she took a few deep breaths to calm down, not believing how intense that last kiss was. 


It literally sucked the breath right out of her body and made her complete putty. 


Sighing, Juliana just rose her knee up and pressed it to her forehead, shaking her head.  She would never admit to ‘Taker she wanted him.  She would rather not have him than experience the heartache that was sure to follow if she did sleep with him and give him her innocence.


Chapter 11


John groaned, feeling his pounding head the following morning, followed by an ache in his throbbing leg.  He slowly sat up, catching sight of himself in the mirror.  He looked like shit.  His face was clean, but scarred the Hell up and there was a nice sized goose egg on his forehead. 


“I don’t even want to know how I got that.” He muttered, standing up.  He groaned at the pain in his leg and hopped on one foot across the hall to knock on Juliana’s door.  Not knowing if she was downstairs yet or not.


Juliana instantly shot her head up, staring at the door, and immediately bolted from her bed, ripping the door open, coming face to face with John.  She wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him tightly, and started telling him how sorry she was that she ran and he got shot because of her.  It was all a rush of words as she finally pulled back, cringing when she seen how much pain he was in, and caressed his face with her hand. 


“Come on, you can’t be on that.” She instructed, wrapping his arm around her shoulders, and helped him downstairs.  She’d changed into a pair of jeans with a purple tank top, knowing they were somewhere that had hot weather constantly.


John groaned when she nudged him down onto the couch downstairs, propping his leg up on the coffee table.  “You look like hell.” He said finally when she took a seat next to him, knowing she still wasn’t sleeping any.  “Jules, why don’t you lay down here and sleep?  I’ll wake you if you start having nightmares.” He promised, genuinely concerned for his best friend.


“I did try to sleep last night, but I woke up with another nightmare.” She replied, patting his good leg reassuringly, and sighed, knowing she did look like Hell.  She was paler than normal, had dark circles under her eyes, and they were mostly bloodshot by this point from crying so much.  “I’m fine.” She wasn’t about to tell him about ‘Taker coming to her room either, knowing he’d blow a gasket, and sighed heavily as she examined the back of his head.  “Damn, I didn’t think you fell that hard…”


“You sure?  Did Rent-A-Cop bug you after I fell asleep?” John demanded, studying her intently, aware that something was going on.  Something she wasn’t telling him.


“No, he left me alone.” She lied, not looking at him, and had her eyes planted firmly on the floor.  She couldn’t look at him because he would be able to tell she was lying as she quickly stood up.  “Are you hungry?  Do you need anything?  Aspirin maybe?” The guilt of what had happened last night to her brother was eating away at her insides.


“No and no.” John took her hand and pulled her back down.  “Stop looking like that, not your fault.  Besides, I’d take a bullet for you any day, Jules.” He grinned, ignoring the pain in his head and leg.  “You sure there’s nothing you want to tell me?  Now would be a good time since the freak show is mysteriously absent.”


“Don’t call him that.” She suddenly got defensive, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and sighed when John’s blue eyes widened in shock.  “He’s not a freak show.  That graveyard just freaked me out because I saw that hand.  He warned me it was caving in, John.  I just flipped out because that’s what I do.  I’m a fucking idiot, okay?” She buried her head in her hands and leaned forward, closing her eyes.  “If it wasn’t for him, we would both be dead right now and you know it.” It was a fact.


“Well I know that, the guy saved your life a few times as well as my own.” John said softly, removing her hands from her face.  “What’s wrong, Juliana?  Is there something going on between you two I should know about?” He didn’t think there was.  ‘Taker had been more professional then that and he thought Juliana was too smart for some sort of crush, but it was more then obvious something was up.


“No, absolutely not.  There is NOTHING going on John, okay?” She wanted to make it clear to him, no matter how much it hurt inside, and sighed as she stared at the wall in front of her.  “My mind is focused solely on finding out who’s helping this son of a bitch so we can get our normal lives back.  Whatever normal is these days.” She snorted.


“Normal.  A state of boredom which would drive you nuts.  You like hanging out with me because I’m not normal, remember?” John teased, trying to lighten her mood.  “Where did Rent-A-Cop get off to anyway?”


“Out looking through the woods.” ‘Taker said, walking into the living room from the kitchen, wiping sweat off his forehead with his bandana and dropped down into the chair.


“There’s your answer now stop asking me questions about him.  I’m not the man’s keeper, John.” Juliana stated, glaring over at her brother and sighed when he winced again, remorse filling her eyes.  “You’re taking aspirin for it and if you don’t, I’m shoving them down your damned throat.” She threatened, standing up, and walked into the kitchen, looking through cabinets to find some for him.


‘Taker ignored the furious look John shot him and stood up, walking out to the kitchen, not surprised to find her searching the cabinets.  He walked up right behind her, their bodies pressed together and reached over the cabinets, bringing his hand back down to eye level with her.  Holding out a bottle of aspirin.  “Looking for these?”


“Thanks.” She mumbled, taking them from him gently, and could already feel her heart pounding just from being this close to him.  Their bodies were pressed together and it was already lighting her body aflame.  She swallowed hard before shakily opening the bottle, having a tough time with it, and finally managed to pop it open before getting two pills out for John.  ‘Taker reached down to take the bottle from her shaking hands.  His fingers brushed against her as he screwed the lid back on before replacing the aspirin above the counter.  He didn’t move from his place as he got out a glass and leaned over to fill it with water, silently holding it out to her.  “Thanks.” She mumbled again, mentally cursing herself for being this close to him, and knew he was doing this on purpose.  She could almost FEEL how much he was enjoying this and slowly moved from him, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, and cleared her throat loudly.  A lump had formed there and she was having a tough time getting rid of it as she headed back into the living room and held out the glass of water and pills.  “Take them or I’ll shove them down your throat, bro.”


John rolled his eyes and took them grudgingly, knowing she’d do exactly what she threatened.  “Bossy wench.” He growled, sipping down the water.  “Anything else, mom?”


“Yeah, if you call me mom again, I’ll give you another bullet wound right in your damned head.” She stated in a deceptively sweet tone before walking away from him again, taking the empty glass and set it in the sink as she began rinsing it out, then set it in the dishwasher. 


Sighing heavily, Juliana turned on the water and cupped her hands, splashing the cold liquid on her face.  She wasn’t surprised when a towel dangled in her face.  She took it, patting her face dry before hanging it over the stove handle, and walked over to stare out the glass door.


‘Taker shook his head, looking both annoyed and amused.  “Aren’t you even in the least bit curious about what I found out there in the woods?” He asked, leaning against the cupboards, arms folded across his denim covered vest.


Turning around to face ‘Taker, her blue eyes widened suddenly at what he said, raking a hand through her black hair, and shot him a look that clearly said ‘see what I mean?’.  “I’m very interested in what you found, ‘Taker.  Please enlighten us.” She leaned against the table, her arms crossed in front of her chest, and raised a curious eyebrow.  John was now sitting at the table, having hopped his ass out there, fully prepared to risk Juliana’s wrath.


‘Taker looked back and forth between them for a moment.  “The tracks in the woods from the first shooter were small.  Maybe about your shoe size, half size bigger.” He said thoughtfully.  “They weren’t imprinted too deeply so I’m going to go out on a limb and venture we have a woman hitter.”


“Christ…” Juliana muttered under her breath and instantly began pacing, rubbing her hands together, and started thinking about who could possibly be after her.  “John, start thinking!” She snapped, seeing him just sitting there dumbfounded, and raked a hand through her hair.  “A woman?  Do you KNOW how many women out there are envious of me because of my family’s fortune?” She groaned and started shaking her head back and forth.  “This is hopeless.  We’re never going to find out who this is.”


“I suggest you both start making a list of women who are…envious…of you, Juliana.” ‘Taker said in a voice that clearly stated he wasn’t suggesting anything.  He was ordering.  “You might want to start thinking of women who might somehow know Anderson.”


John snorted.  “I hope you have a lot of paper, Rent-A-Cop.”


“Enough to wrap your carcass in a few times over.”


“You don’t understand, ‘Taker.  It’s every woman.  Everywhere I go, when I do go out, women left and right glare at me.  This is going to be like finding a needle in a fucking haystack.” She groaned more, feeling a headache coming on and plopped down at the table, putting her face in her hands in frustration.  “Writing down all those names won’t solve anything.  It’ll take weeks to pinpoint every single one because they’re all over the damned city.  Now if you’re wondering if I know any women, the answer is no.  Ken never had any women, not any that I’ve ever met anyway so that scratches that off.”


“Think, Juliana.  Most women who are just jealous DON’T go on a murder spree.” ‘Taker said coldly.  “So you need to rack that head of yours and think about someone who has a reason to really hate you.  Someone with more in it then your damn money.”


“I’m fucking trying, you asshole!!” She snapped, standing up from the table, and glared back at him.  “What the fuck do you think I’ve been TRYING to do for the past four months?” All of her frustration was building up and she was finally lashing out as she squared her shoulders, refusing to back down from him.


“Try harder.” ‘Taker said flatly, not impressed or bothered in the slightest by her outburst.


“Can’t you give her a break?” John asked softly, not about to get punched in the head again.  “She’s been through an awful lot lately.”


“This is WHY she needs to try harder.” ‘Taker replied, not looking away from Juliana, his expression unreadable.  “There’s no time for breaks.  There are two shooters out there and they’re desperate by now to kill you.”


“You know what?  If you don’t stop pushing me, I swear to you, I’ll fucking take your knife and end it MYSELF!” She shouted back at him before running out of the kitchen and upstairs to her room. 


Slamming the door behind her, Juliana locked it, tears streaming down her cheeks.  Her head was pounding hard as she pressed her forehead to the window, staring out of it, and wrapped her arms around herself.  ‘Taker pushing her wasn’t going to help push the situation and it was going to cause her to have a mental and physical breakdown if he didn’t stop.


John was silent as ‘Taker followed her, heard a soft thump, followed by ‘Taker coming back downstairs.  “Umm what did you do?”


“Put the knife in her door.” ‘Taker replied casually.


“She didn’t mean it!” John shouted angrily.


“Really?” ‘Taker arched an eyebrow.  “Then she’d better stop acting like a damned child.  She can have a breakdown AFTER these fuckers are found and taken care of.  She won’t be able to help herself if she has one now.”




Juliana just stood at the window for hours on end, staring out of it, not moving an inch.  The tears had long ago stopped and now she was racking her brain.  Who could it be?  Who could this woman be that was helping Ken?  Maybe it was just one of his best friends she didn’t know about? 


The man was resourceful after all.  Juliana knew the only way to find out.  She sighed heavily and raked a hand through her hair, deciding she’d talk to John about it first before enlightening the asshole about it.  ‘Taker was pushing her too hard and if he didn’t stop, she was going to lose it and end up doing something drastic.


“Hey Jules?  Can I come in?” John asked later that day, mildly concerned when she hadn’t come back downstairs.  ‘Taker had gone back outside to do something or other.  John had purposely ignored him, not even wanting to know what Rent-A-Cop was doing.  John stared at the knife handle before and sighed, pulling it out and tossing it in his bedroom, not wanting Juliana to freak out.  “Jules?”


Sighing upon hearing her brother’s voice, Juliana walked away from the window and over to the door, opening it up and closed it instantly, locking it, and watched as he limped over to the bed.  “I decided that the only way to get these fuckers is to give them what they want.” When John started snapping, Juliana slapped him across the face, not hard, but it was enough to let him know not to start with her.  “Listen to me,” She ordered, sitting down beside him, and took his hand in her own.  “We could set up a trap to where they reveal themselves.  They’re not going to come out without thinking they have me in their grasp.”


“You already know ‘Taker isn’t going to go for this!” John said, more then irritated.  “What happens if this all goes wrong, Juliana?  You ever think about that?” He shook his head, not about to let her put herself at risk like that.  “Nuh uh…”


“Jonathan, stop it!!” Juliana cried out at him, tears filling her eyes, and stood up from the bed as she began pacing back and forth again.  “Stop treating me like a porcelain doll!  This is the only way to get them to come out and reveal themselves!  If this goes wrong, then it goes wrong, but I’m tired of running and I’m tired of hiding!  I want this to end so I can get my life back!”


John was silent for a good ten minutes, looking like he was about to cry.  This was his little sister and he would have gladly taken her place if he could, but he knew he wasn’t the actual target.  Juliana was.  He sighed when he heard ‘Taker’s deliberate heavy footsteps downstairs.  “YOU can tell him.” He said finally.


“I was planning on doing that anyway.” She stated and walked over, getting down on her knees in front of him and took his face in her hands, seeing the tears in his eyes.  “John please, I need your support for this.  I’m scared to death right now, but this is the only way.” She whispered pleadingly and pressed her forehead to his, sighing shakily when he nodded.  “I’ll be back.  Stay here.” She ordered before standing up and walking out of her room.


Chapter 12


‘Taker was sitting on the couch, going over a folder he had brought with him, studying its contents.  He had a glass of whiskey before him on the coffee table and was sipping it when he heard Juliana behind him.  He didn’t bother looking up or at her, trying to find the one thing that was eluding him.  She walked in front of him, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and didn’t care if he looked up at her or not. 


“I decided that the only way to catch these bastards once and for all is to put me as bait.” She sucked in a deep breath and closed her eyes before continuing.  “I figure we could put me out there, making them think they have me in their grasp, and have them reveal themselves.  You could be there to do what you do best.  This is the only way because I can’t think of a single woman in my past that would want to hurt me.  I’ve already talked to John about this and he’s on my side.”


‘Taker didn’t bother looking at her, calmly taking a sip of his whiskey, and set it back down.  “And if I say no you’re gong to do it anyway and get your fool ass killed.” It wasn’t a question.  “Where you figuring on doing this, Juliana?”


“The mansion I would say would be the best place.  I already know my father is dead.  You didn’t even have to tell me that.” A hint of hurt entered her voice, but it was quickly hidden with disdain.  “‘Taker, if you have ANY other suggestions on how to get them to reveal themselves then please, enlighten me.  I told you last night, I trust you and I want your help.  I’m putting this in your hands and just throwing the idea out there.”


“My suggestion would be to wait here.  From the looks of things, these two are impatient and would probably try again tonight or tomorrow.” He replied coolly.  “But the choice is yours, Juliana.  It’s your life on the line.”


“You mean just hide out and do nothing.” She scoffed and raked a hand through her hair, knowing she had no choice.  This was in ‘Taker’s hand and she trusted him.  “You don’t want to end this now?” She asked him finally, scrubbing her face with her hand in frustration.  “Don’t you want this to be over so we can both get on with our lives?”


“Juliana, if we leave to head back to the mansion now, you’d have to wait either way.” ‘Taker sighed, standing up and turned to look at her, noting the look of frustration on her face.  “Go pack, we’re leaving within the next ten minutes.” He said finally.  She started heading that way when shots rang throughout the house, causing her to scream in fright, and got down on the floor.  She covered her ears with her hands, shaking from head to toe, and squeezed her eyes tightly shut.  ‘Taker dropped down as well, quickly moving her and dragging her back against him, a gun already in his hand.  “Fuck!  They’re a bit early.” He growled.


“SORRY!” John yelled, appearing at the top of the steps, holding a gun in one trembling hand.  “I uh…it was an accident?” He said meekly, backing away as ‘Taker slowly stood up.


Juliana first breathed a sigh of relief when she heard John’s voice, then she heard it was an accident, and felt ‘Taker tense since he had a hold of her hand.  She slowly stood up with him, shaking from head to toe and swallowed hard, knowing ‘Taker was pissed at this point.  “Please don’t.” She begged, not letting go of his hand, and sighed when he pushed her away, heading for the stairs.  She wasn’t crying, just trembling incredibly hard.


‘Taker growled, shrugging her off.  “I’m going to kill him.” He said in a low, dangerous tone of voice, paying her no mind when she grabbed his arm.  He was up the steps in a heartbeat, knocking the gun out of John’s hand, and pinned him against the wall.  “WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING WITH A GUN?”


“I found it in my room!” John squeaked out.  “In a box under the bed!”


“So you thought you’d play with it, boy?” ‘Taker demanded angrily.  “This ain’t cops and robbers, you damn fool!”


“John, just apologize to the Neanderthal.” She grunted, stepping between them, and wrapped her arm around John’s waist.  “Come on, I’ll make you something to eat.” Her voice was quiet as she helped him downstairs, ignoring ‘Taker’s pissed off expression, and sighed before pushing her brother down on the couch before going to start making the soup.  “Don’t protest either.  I know you’re starving.” She started pulling out a pan and found some soup in the cupboard surprisingly.


John sighed, watching her.  “I didn’t mean to startle you guys.” He apologized softly.  “I didn’t even…” He groaned, banging his head down on the table.  “‘Taker is going to kill me isn’t he?”


“Don’t John, it was an accident.” Her voice carried into the living room, being soft, yet stern and started the stove before pouring the soup into the pot, beginning to stir it.  “He won’t touch you or else I’ll end up hurting him back.” She promised darkly, not taking her attention off the soup, and sighed as she raked a hand through her hair.


John sighed, raking a hand through his hair, studying her thoughtfully.  “Something tells me ‘Taker wouldn’t mind it so much if you tried to hurt him.” He said finally, watching for her reaction intently.


“If you don’t want this SCALDING pot of soup in your lap, you best tighten your mouth shut, John.” She threatened, having frozen on the spot at the stove, and even in her stirring.  She blinked and mentally shook herself before stirring once more before pouring it in a bowl for him.  “I told you, there’s nothing going on between us.” She raised an eyebrow up at him, holding the bowl of hot soup in her hands.  “Are we clear on that?  Can we LET the subject go?”


John arched an eyebrow before getting an innocent look on his face and nodded, busying himself with his steaming hot soup. “Crystal clear.” He said softly, stirring it.  “So…uh…what did he say about your idea?”


“He didn’t like it, but he said we’d do it if I wanted to.” She plopped down on the couch beside him, bringing her legs up, and pressed them against her chest while leaning her head on the cushion.  “We’re gonna have to wait it out.  Even if I did put myself out there, Ken isn’t stupid and neither is this bitch that’s helping him, whoever she is.” She was speaking quietly and closed her eyes.


John sighed, nodding his head, almost in relief.  “You know even if we had gone back, there would have been a lot of people around you.  Your dad’s wealthy…even with him probably being…dead.” John coughed.  “That place would be swamped with cops, you’d never be able to put your plan into action.”


“I know that.” She whispered back, sighing heavily, and crossed her arms in front of her chest as she watched him eat his soup. 


She didn’t even know what to do anymore.  Part of her wanted to just jump the gun, but she knew if she did that, she’d get her ass handed to her and killed.  ‘Taker was right.  She had to wait it out.  They had to all just wait it out and see where this went.  Waiting sucked, but it was all Juliana could do right now.


‘Taker finally came down the stairs, looking much more calmer now.  He had taken a cold shower, letting the icy water cool his boiling blood.  He was wearing a pair of black jeans and black leather vest, his wet hair hanging down his back.  He grunted when John offered him an apologetic smile and pulled out the gun John had been using, tossing it at him.  John caught it and stared down at it, wondering what the hell it was for.


“I took the clip out.” ‘Taker’s green eyes flashed.  “So you can play big boys with it.” John blushed.


Juliana sighed, taking the gun away from John, tossing it to the floor, shaking her head back and forth at him, pointing at his soup.  She leaned back against the couch, sighing heavily, and closed her eyes again.  When John was finished, she smiled at him appreciatively and took the bowl from him, walking into the kitchen, and set it in the sink before rinsing it and whatnot.  She still felt guilty for what happened to him so until he was better, she was going to wait on him hand and foot, whether he liked it or not.  Her thoughts suddenly turned to ‘Taker, causing her to frown, and mentally shook herself.


‘Forget him.’ She mentally coached herself before sitting down at the kitchen table, leaning her head against the chair, and looked outside.


“You need to eat too.” ‘Taker commented from his place in the doorway, leaning against the frame, staring down at her.  “And don’t argue because John agrees with me.”


“Eat something, Jules!” John shouted from his spot on the couch, causing ‘Taker to actually grin.


“How bout not and say I did?” She retorted with a roll of her eyes, not looking away from the window, and closed her eyes as she sighed. 


Juliana wasn’t hungry.  Food was the last thing on her mind and these two pricks were not about to force her to do it either.  She’d either throw up on them or feel sick for the rest of the night if she ate when she didn’t want to.


‘Taker shrugged and walked over to one of the cabinets, rifling around in a cupboard before sitting down across from her, a bottle of Tequila Rose in his hand.  He leaned back in his chair, out of her reach, and took a swallow.  “Hey boy, you thirsty?”


John hopped out of the living room, looking at the bottle, and shrugged, “Sure, I’ll knock one back.”


“Party it up, morons.” She spat back at them, standing up, and walked out of the room, not believing what an asshole ‘Taker could be. 


He knew that was her favorite drink as she walked up the stairs to her room, slamming the door shut, and locked it.  She’d gotten accustomed to doing this, but it didn’t bother her.  For some reason, Juliana got the urge to go through her suitcase so she did.  She fished through it, not sure what she was trying to find, and sighed when she found a picture.  It was of her mother.


“I think she’s pissed.” John commented, accepting the shot ‘Taker held out to him.  “Um…is this a good idea?”


“I don’t know about you, boy, but I know how much I can handle.” ‘Taker replied, smiling grimly.  It took a LOT to get him drunk and this pink shit wasn’t about to do it.  John shrugged, knowing one shot wasn’t about to kill him, and swallowed it down.


Juliana pushed her suitcase away and just stared at the picture thoughtfully, her eyebrows furrowed together.  She ran her fingertips down it, tears instantly coming to her eyes, and walked over to sit down on the bed.  Her mother was beautiful.  Golden blonde hair that went down her back to her waist, like Juliana’s, and the same colored eyes.  Juliana got her black hair from her father. 


“Momma, why can’t you be here to help me through this?” She whispered softly, raking her hands through her hair, and set the picture down beside her before lying down on the bed.  Her stomach was killing her, growling, but she just ignored it as the tears slipped down her cheeks.  She buried her face in her pillow and held the picture close to her chest, sighing deeply, closing her eyes.


‘Taker sighed, staring at Juliana’s door, holding a plate with a sandwich on it, not believing he let John talk him into this.  Finally, he knocked once before walking in.  “John says you have to eat something.” He said flatly, setting the plate down on the stand next to the bed.  “What’s that you got?”


“Nothing.” She sniffled, sliding the picture under the pillow, not looking at him.  She was tired, confused, hurt and the last thing she wanted to do was eat the stupid sandwich that was in front of her.  “Just leave me alone please.” She whispered, turning around so her back was facing him, and pressed the picture against her chest, sighing raggedly.  She did not want to see anyone right now, especially this asshole.


‘Taker shook his head, walking over to sit on the bed besides her, laying a hand on her shoulder.  “You still pissed off with me, Jules?” He asked softly, trying to decide if he really cared or not.  She was a bit of a stubborn bitch after all.


“I just want to be left alone.” She whispered back, ignoring his question, and shrugged his shoulder off as she sighed heavily. 


Juliana missed her mother, even though she barely knew her.  The woman ran out on her and her father when she was three years old.  Her father told her that her mother died in a tragic car accident a few years after she left them.  This was probably the only picture she had of her and she knew ‘Taker probably knocked it inside her suitcase while packing her things accidentally.


“I can see you want to be left alone, darlin’, but I’m not leaving.” ‘Taker replied patiently, moving his hand back to her shoulder, and rolled her over onto her back so he could stare down at her, genuinely concerned that breakdown might be coming.


“You’re just up here to make sure that I don’t have a breakdown.  Rest easy, asshole.  I’m not going to.” She stated heatedly back at him before turning back on her side, the picture still clutched to her chest, and closed her eyes tightly shut as the tears started falling once again.


‘Taker didn’t take any offense to being called an asshole; he’d been called a hell of a lot worse in his time.  He had seen the picture and pulled it from her unwilling hand, studying it intently.  “Who’s this?” He asked curiously.


Sniffling a little, she snatched the picture away from him and glared.  “She’s my mother and she’s dead so you can single her out of the equation.” Her voice held hurt and anger as she looked down at her bed, not able to meet his eyes, slipping the picture underneath her pillow.


‘Taker rolled his eyes, gripping her chin, and forced her to look up at him, his piercing green eyes staring into hers.  “I’m trying to protect your ass.  Mind telling me why you hate me so damned much?” He demanded gruffly.


“I don’t hate you.  You just don’t seem to know when to stop pushing and prodding.” She stated, crossing her arms in front of her chest, and tore her chin out of his grip, not wanting him to touch any part of her body.  “Please don’t touch me.” She gently ordered, raking a hand through her hair, and brought her legs up to press against her chest, draping her arm around them.


‘Taker shook his head, unfolding her and pulling her up by the arms, staring into her eyes.  “Why not?  Afraid you’ll like it?” He challenged, brushing his lips against hers gently.


Chapter 13


“Stop it!” She whispered harshly, pulling away from him, and pulled the comforter up as she rubbed her arms with her hands.  This fucker had A LOT of nerve doing what he just did and now her body was lit on fire again.  She didn’t want him because she knew nothing would come of it.  She moved when he reached for her again and shook her head.  “I told you I don’t want you.” She was trying to keep the shakiness out of her voice, but it wasn’t working out too well in her favor.


“I don’t believe you.” ‘Taker said evenly, pulling away the comforter.  He pulled her down onto the bed and straddled her legs, bending down to kiss her again, feathering his lips over hers, smirking when she slowly started kissing him back.  He pulled away, lips almost touching hers.  “You really don’t want me hmmm?”


Juliana’s head was spinning from how soft the kiss was and knew she had to do something fast before she gave in.  She blinked a little before staring straight into his eyes and shook her head back and forth.  “I don’t want you.  Find someone else.” She tried pushing him off of her, but with his weight and her size, it wasn’t going to happen unless she had a damned forklift!


‘Taker shook his head, obviously not believing her.  He ran a hand down her body, sliding it under the waistband of her jeans, and cupped her hot sex.  “This says you’re lying.” He whispered, lowering his head to kiss her neck, gently caressing her through the panties she wore.


Juliana gasped when she felt his hand slid down her jeans and immediately tried shoving him off of her, shaking her head back and forth.  “Stop it!” She whispered breathlessly, gripping his wrist, trying with everything in her power to stop this from happening.  Her body was betraying her as she began melting against him, the feeling of his lips on her neck and his hand caressing her like this almost too much for her to take. 


“Why?” ‘Taker drawled softly in her ear.  “You want me…I want you…”


He chuckled darkly, moving his kisses down over her shirt covered body, strong hands sliding her jeans and panties down her legs.  He didn’t give her time to reply, just buried his face in her pussy, running his tongue up her wet slit.  Until he captured her clit between his lips, strong hands on her hips.


Juliana cried out softly when she felt him do that, her mind swirling and spiraling out of control.  She’d never experienced this and was finding herself bucking her hips against his mouth.  She arched her body against him, her fingers instantly going to his hair, and gripped it tightly while tilting her head back.  She couldn’t believe the intense sensations coursing throughout her body and suddenly felt something building inside of her. 


“‘Taker…” She breathed out, her eyes drifting shut, her black hair splayed all around her.


‘Taker moved so her legs were over his shoulders, pulling her lower body off the bed, wanting to watch her while he pleasured her.  He could feel her trembling and smirked, his green eyes darkening at the look on her face.  “Don’t fight it, Juliana…” He coaxed in a murmur, circling her clit with his tongue.  He inhaled sharply when she called out his name, moving his head down to slide his tongue inside of her, groaning when he tasted her sweeter than nectar juices.


Juliana cried out softly, not able to suppress them any further, and gripped his hair even more.  She finally released it and arched her body off the bed, breathing raggedly, and whipped her head back before feeling something start to tear throughout her body.  She knew it was her orgasm.  She wasn’t completely deluded and collapsed back on the bed, still fighting him. 


She cried out his name again, this time finally letting her juices out, flowing from her trembling body and into his hot, very willing mouth.  Perspiration was forming on her body as her heart pounded vigorously in her chest and she could hardly breathe, not believing what just happened.  Her mind was a cloud of passion haze, causing her senses to reel even more. 




‘Taker could feel his own body trembling slightly and just gently lowered her to the bed, remaining on his knees, needing to calm his own ass down.  He stared at her, taking in her flushed cheeks and gently heaving chest.  He finally moved so he was gently laying out on top of her, kissing her gently.  Not wanting to stop her from trying to catch her second wind, but couldn’t help himself.  He trailed his kisses to her throat, his hands running up under her tank top to her breasts. 


The alarm bells were ringing in her head, even though his touch felt so wonderful, and knew she had to stop this.  With all the strength left in her body, Juliana shoved him off of her, causing him to land on the floor with a thud.  She scurried back on the bed, tears in her midnight blue eyes. 


“Get out!” She stated, pointing at the door and snatched up a pair of cotton shorts along with her panties, already sliding them on under the comforter. 


How could she allow him to do something like that to her?!  Was she fucking insane?!  This man was going to cause her nothing, but heartache and she refused to allow it to happen.  No matter how much her body was engulfed in flames.


‘Taker shook his head, kicking the door shut before stalking over to the bed.  He ripped away the comforter, putting a halt on her pulling on her shorts and panties, planting a knee between her legs.  One hand was on either side of her head. 


“I know you want me, Juliana.  So what’s holding you back?  Are you scared?” He demanded, searching her eyes intently.


She’d let out a small scream when he ripped the comforter from her and now she was staring into the eyes of a man determined.  “I’m not giving into you no matter what you do to me.” She finally said, raking a hand through her hair, and tried to stop trembling in fear and desire.  It was both as she tried scooting away from him, but knew she was trapped.  She didn’t know what else to say.  What could she say?  “John is downstairs.” She reminded him, swallowing hard, and tore her eyes from his gaze once again as she stared at the bedding below.


“So?  What’s he going to do besides stand there and watch?” ‘Taker replied, bending down to kiss her, ripping her tank top right down the middle.  “You never answered me, Juliana.” He whispered, moving his head down to kiss the upper swell of her breasts.  “Why are you fighting what you so obviously desire?” He murmured, now undoing her bra.  He tossed it over her shoulder, staring down at her for a moment before capturing a pert nipple in his mouth, biting gently then soothing it with his tongue. 


“Stop it!!” She cried out, scared to death now as she shoved away from him, and kicked him in the stomach.  Ripping her shirt down the middle was all she needed and now she no longer felt desire for him.  She saw a monster before her as she bounded off the bed, pulling her shorts and panties back up all the way, and tried closing her tank top the best she could.  Her tank top straps were dangling, but she was holding it closed around her bare breasts tightly with her hand.  “GET OUT!” She shouted at him, tears streaming down her face, trembling from head to toe.  He’d scared the shit out of her and Juliana wondered if he was really just in this to get in her pants.  The tears began streaming down her face as she stumbled back when he took a step towards her, causing her to trip over her shoes and fell to the floor, immediately scrambling away from him.  “Stay away from me!!”


“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON UP THERE?” John roared from the bottom of the steps.  “JULIANA?”


‘Taker shook his head at her, his upper lip curling into a sneer.  “She’s fine…She fucking fell over her damn shoes!” He growled, shaking his head again before walking out.  He passed John on the steps, ignoring the disbelieving look on the boy’s face.


“What’d he do?” John demanded, limping into the bedroom.  “Jules, what’d that son of a bitch do?”


She couldn’t even speak as she burst out crying, causing John to come to her side, and clutched him for dear life.  Her lips were swollen, tank top ripped right down the middle, showing off her bare breasts as she tried in vain to hold it together and had hand prints on her body from ‘Taker.  He hadn’t hurt her or anything, but scared the shit out of her. 


Juliana wrapped her arms around his neck tightly, sobbing now, and shook violently.  So close.  He’d been THIS close to raping her and taking what he wanted.  John was asking her questions, but she didn’t hear them.  She was crying too damned hard to really hear anything at the moment.


John guided her to the bed, pulling her on his lap, never stopping the rubbing of her back.  He seen her tank top, the marks on her body, and felt his body tensing with rage.  “Did he…did he hurt you, Jules?” He asked gently, not letting her hear or see how pissed off he was.  If ‘Taker had, so help him God, John was going to somehow rip that cocksucker’s throat out with his own two bare hands.


“No…” She whispered out, her chest heaving as she buried her face in the crook of her brother’s neck, holding onto him for dear life.  “He was close…” She admitted, raking a hand through her black hair, and clutched her tank top shut as she looked into his enraged blue eyes.  “I fought him off.  He…scared me and that’s…how I tripped over my shoes…” She burst out crying again, burying her face in her hands, and began shaking so hard, her teeth were chattering.


John growled and started physically shaking with rage.  He had to set Juliana down on the bed before he got up, trying to keep himself under control.  He raked a hand through his hair, staring down at her out of murderous eyes. 


“I’m going to kill him.” He announced in a low, deadly tone.  “I’m going to fucking kill him.”


“John, please don’t!!” She cried out in fear, grabbing her brother’s arm, and walked over to face him, not even caring about her tank top at the moment.  “Please, just leave it alone.” She whispered, burying her face in his chest, and gripped his shirt.  “You were right.  There was something there between us, alright?” She pushed away from him and wrapped her arms around herself.  “He came in here last night and yelled at me, then comforted me, and we kissed…a lot…” She trailed off and started pacing back and forth.  “He’s trying to get me to submit to him because he knows I want him.  I’m not going to do it though.  I’m saving myself for the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and fuck it, if I don’t find him, I’ll die a virgin.” She collapsed on the bed and buried her head in her hands, gripping her hair, and released it.  “Just let it go.  It’s not worth it.  I just want to get this over and done with so I never have to see him again.” She sniffled a little.


John sighed heavily, for now willing to go with whatever she wanted because first off, he didn’t want to cause her more pain.  Secondly, they needed ‘Taker, as much as John hated admitting it, they needed the man.  Though, after all this shit was over, all bets were off.  John didn’t care how damned good ‘Taker was, he wasn’t going to get away with what he did to Juliana. 


“Here, I’ll step out for a minute so you can change.” He whispered.


“Alright.” She whispered at him and once the door was closed, Juliana burst in another fit of tears, feeling them stream down her cheeks and walked over to the dresser.  She had to steady herself with shaky hands as she pulled a long sleeved shirt on with pajama pants.  From now on, no matter how hot it was, she wasn’t going to show an inch of skin to ‘Taker unless she had to.  The shirt and pajama pants were black as she brushed her hair and slowly made her way out of her room, seeing John standing in the hallway.  “I’m fine, bro.” She assured him softly, touching his arm, jolting him out of his thoughts.  “Please just forget it.” Her voice cracked as the tears filled her eyes.


John wanted to ask her how could he, but didn’t, not wanting to distress her anymore then she was already.  He looped an arm around her waist and stared at her bed.  Her bed, where she was almost been raped. 


“Come on…” He gently guided her across the hall, ignoring the dull ache in his leg.  “You can use my room.” He said firmly, not about to let her be alone right now.


“I’m not going to sleep.  If you want, go ahead.  I’m going downstairs by the fireplace.” She looked into his blue eyes, touching his face with her hand, and smiled when she automatically seen the protectiveness in his eyes.  “I’ll scream for you if I need you, alright?” She assured him, seeing how tired he was, and gently pushed him inside his room, kissing his cheek.  “It’ll be fine, I promise.” She whispered, closing the door behind her, and let out a shaky breath, holding her stomach before heading downstairs. 


She didn’t see ‘Taker anywhere in sight and was thankful for that as she walked into the living room, seeing the fire was still going, and sat down on the couch.  She brought her knees up to press against her chest and buried her face in them, crying silently to herself.  She couldn’t believe she was almost raped by the man who was supposed to protect her.




‘Taker was sitting out on the front porch, the lights off, but that was okay.  He could see quite well by the light of the moon.  He was just staring out in front of him, his green eyes scanning the woods, not believing how fast it had gotten dark.  Though he figured the rest of daylight had been burned away while he was busy with Juliana. 


He knew he had frightened her when he ripped her tank top.  That apparently had been his mistake.  But he wasn’t all that sorry he did it.  Yeah, he knew she was a virgin, but she was also a borderline tease.  He sighed, rubbing the butt of his gun against his forehead before resting it on his knee, wondering what was going to happen now.


Chapter 14


Over the next week, Juliana refused to come out of her room and had changed the sheets and everything.  She refused to face ‘Taker while they were hiding out.  She would spend her days staring out the window or just laying down, thinking about the task at hand, but that’s not all she thought about.  She was almost raped by the man who was assigned by her father as her protector. 


Trembling at the thought, wearing a long sleeved blue shirt with a pair of matching pants, Juliana refused to wear anything else.  She knew she’d probably teased him or set him off somehow so she was going to try really hard not to do it again.  It was her fault.  She should’ve known better than to allow it to progress as far as it had, even though she kept telling him no.  Sighing heavily, Juliana was laying on the bed, curled up and just staring at the wall, remaining silent.


‘Taker ignored the usual look of loathe John shot him as he passed him on the stairs, heading directly to his room.  He had spent some time out in the woods and found an interesting bit of litter on the ground.  Pictures of Juliana in her bedroom, her bedroom at HIS house, which meant someone was spying on her. 


He sighed, knowing it was Anderson or his accomplice, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.  He’d been outside on the porch every night, doing patrols around the house every half hour and he knew nobody was overly stupid enough to approach him.  He sighed again, tossing the pictures on his bed, debating on whether or not to go hunting tonight.


After she heard ‘Taker’s bedroom door close, Juliana quietly walked out of her own, tiptoeing down the stairs and into the kitchen.  She knew ‘Taker was probably lying down.  This was what she did every day, especially since he’d become almost oblivious to her existence.  She didn’t care. 


She walked into the kitchen, grabbing a glass out of the cupboard, making sure her shirt didn’t ride up or anything, and walked over to fill it up with water.  She hadn’t slept at all this past week.  Every time she did, ‘Taker’s green eyes entered her mind and scared the shit out of her.  She raked a hand through her hair, sipping it slowly, and started heading back up to her room.


‘Taker halted when he seen Juliana in the hallway, a glass of water in her hand.  He hesitated, having been avoiding her the entire week like the plague.  Partly due to the fact that he was actually afraid he’d forcefully finish what he had started.  Partially due to knowing she was terrified of him.  That was bothering the shit out of him, for some ungodly reason, he didn’t want her to fear him.  He didn’t know what the fuck he wanted from her, but it wasn’t that. 


“You need to start keeping your window shades down from now on.” He said finally, his mind straying to those pictures he found in the woods.


She was trembling from head to toe, keeping her eyes on the floor, and nodded once before walking back into the kitchen.  She wanted to go outside, but that was simply out of the question.  She felt like a trapped rat, but then again, this was for her own good. 


She sat down at the kitchen table, not facing ‘Taker, eyes wandering to the outdoors and picked her glass up, taking another sip.  She hadn’t spoken a word to ‘Taker in the past week and hadn’t heard any from him except for demands and orders.  She sighed heavily, wondering when her life had become this.


‘Taker sighed inwardly, knowing he sounded like an asshole, but he didn’t honestly know how else to talk to her.  So, whenever he did speak to her, he barked at her.  Though this time, he thought he’d been reasonably gentle.  Just told her straight and quietly.  He sighed again, pulling out one picture he’d kept on him from his back pocket and laid it down in front of her.


Juliana literally jumped out of her skin when he approached her, causing the water to splash all over her, and quickly backed the chair away.  She took a few deep breaths to calm her heart, which had lodged in her throat and took the picture, knowing this was probably what ‘Taker had found in the woods.  It was of her, dressing, her midnight blue bra and panties.  She looked closer and immediately threw the picture back on the table, seeing she was in the tank top ‘Taker ripped down the middle.  It was from the night ‘Taker almost raped her as she stood up and put her glass in the sink.


“I’m probably going to stake out the woods tonight, Juliana.” ‘Taker said softly, pulling a gun out of his back pocket and held it out to her, not knowing whether or not she’d try to kill him, but he’d risk it.  “You know how to use one of these?”


“Give it to John.” She whispered, her back turned to him, still trembling in fear of him and raked a hand through her hair.  She wanted this man away from her as she swallowed really hard, trying to will the tears to stay in her eyes, and coughed as she wiped the water from her long sleeved shirt.  She then walked away from him and started cleaning up the mess she’d made, having spilled water on the floor.


“I’m giving it to you, Juliana.” ‘Taker did what he hadn’t in a week and touched her, gently turning her to face him, pulling his hand away quickly.  “I’ve already handed John one…and taught him how to use it.  I’m going to be gone for an hour or longer tonight and you’re going to need something just incase.  Now…do you know how to use it?”


Juliana instantly tensed and flinched when he touched her, actually jumping, and immediately stood to her feet as she shook her head.  “I don’t want it.” She whispered out, wrapping her arms around herself, and headed down the hallway upstairs.  She didn’t want anything to do with those deadly contraptions and knew ‘Taker was probably leaving because of her.  If he was smart, he would simply stay put, but then again, she couldn’t even look at him without feeling terror wash over her body.


‘Taker sighed, walking out to the living room and tossed the gun in John’s lap.  “Make sure she gets this.” He stated evenly.


“She doesn’t like guns.” John said coldly.


“Well she’d better learn how to snuggle with it because it could be the difference between life and death for her.” ‘Taker replied coldly.  “I’m going to sleep for an hour while there’s day left.”


“Bye.” John waved three fingers behind ‘Taker’s back mockingly.


Juliana watched as ‘Taker walked back to his bedroom, fear filling her eyes, but she had to talk to him.  She couldn’t allow the fear to overtake her, not when they were close to ending this with Ken.  She carefully tiptoed down the hallway, the door open, and raked a hand through her hair as she cleared her throat. 


“You know it’s a trap, right?” She asked in a soft voice, barely audible, and kept her head lowered while rubbing the back of her neck.


‘Taker nodded, not looking at her.  “I know it is.” He said in a low, even tone.  “But it’s our best chance.  You need to get your life back and I need to get out of your life.” He laughed under his breath, at himself.  “I’m entering the woods by East, where they scoped you is West of here.” He squared his shoulders, turning to face her.  “Anderson and whoever’s with him WON’T make it this far, you got my word, Juliana.”


“I don’t believe you anymore.  I don’t believe anything.  You’re deserting us and that’s fine.  You go right ahead and do that because you know what?  I’m deserting you!”


Bolting out of the doorway and downstairs, Juliana threw open the front door, grabbing the keys to the car on her way out.  She got in the car, tears streaming down her cheeks.  Fuck them.  She was going to do this on her own.  She wasn’t going to wait for her death to arrive.  She was going to run straight to it.


“GODDAMN HER!” ‘Taker bellowed, chasing her outside.  He halted when he seen her drive off in the car and shook his head.  “Fucking dumb bitch!”


“What the hell happened?” John demanded, following ‘Taker, his blue eyes wide when he seen the dust in the drive.


“Juliana fucking took off, what does it look like?” ‘Taker snarled, already stalking around the side of the house to the shed.


“WHAT’D YOU DO TO HER?” John chased him, his leg only giving him a bit of trouble since it was healing nicely.


“Told her the truth.” ‘Taker growled, walking out of the shed a few minutes later, pushing a black Harley motorcycle with him.


“If anything happens to her…” John trailed off, coughing back dust as ‘Taker sped out of there and down the street after Juliana.


Juliana kept driving, her hands gripping the steering wheel tightly, not about to die out here.  If she was going to die it was going to be in her home with her father, even though she hated him.  She couldn’t believe everything that happened, couldn’t believe that ‘Taker was giving up on her.  They weren’t together, but she was referring to him saving her, protecting her.  She feared him and had a goddamn right too, but that didn’t mean she still didn’t need him. 


“Fuck him.  He can go back to his life and leave me alone.” She whispered heartbrokenly, pushing the gas petal even more, speeding down the road faster.


‘Taker’s green eyes narrowed when he seen the car just ahead of him, then cursed when an SUV drove up alongside of him.  Glancing at the tinted windows, ‘Taker dropped back when the driver tried to plow him off the road.  Anderson! 


“FUCK!” He bellowed, knowing Juliana was in some serious trouble.


Juliana seen the SUV coming up on her, followed by ‘Taker, and punched the gas, driving at a speed close to ninety miles an hour.  She didn’t care as she gripped the steering wheel tighter, refusing to stop and refusing to give up.  She knew it was Anderson. 


She noticed the blue SUV being Ken’s that he used to pick her up in for their dates.  She finally couldn’t handle it anymore, seeing he was about to plow ‘Taker down, and screeched to a halt.  Causing the tires to smoke and tears were streaming down her cheeks like two raging rivers.


‘Taker cursed, hitting the brakes and skidded, the bike tipping and sliding down the road, trapping him underneath it, sparks flying.  He gritted his teeth against the pain and let go, grunting when the bike went flying without him and rolled, feeling his bleeding leg scraped even more.  ‘Taker stood up in time to the SUV plow right into Juliana’s car and watched in horror as the car went off road and into the ditch. 


“FUCK!” He roared, wincing at his leg, but he had to get to Juliana.


Ken didn’t even bother waiting around, spotting ‘Taker slowly approaching in the rearview mirror.  He glanced at the destroyed car and smirked.  That little bitch had probably gone through the windshield.  Laughing darkly, he took off, not caring if the front of his SUV was completely torn to shreds and busted up.


Groaning, Juliana slowly opened her eyes, wincing at the huge gash that’d sliced across her forehead.  She slowly, painfully unbuckled her seatbelt, her body racked with insurmountable pain.  She opened the door and stumbled out, coughing, and crawled on the grass before slowly getting to her feet. 


It was night time and the blood was rushing down her face as she leaned against the car.  She collapsed in the grass, finally losing her balance, and felt the darkness overtake her body.  The last person she thought of and whispered out was her bodyguard, the man who was supposed to protect her.




‘Taker groaned, his leg killing him, but picked up the pace when he seen Anderson drive off.  He pulled out his gun and unloaded a clip in the back of the SUV, growling under his breath.  “JULIANA!” He yelled, running as fast as he could down the road and then stumbled down into the ditch.  He spotted her lying on the ground and dropped down beside her, checking for fractures, breaks, anything.  “Come on, baby, wake up.” He murmured, feeling for her pulse, relief coursing through him when he found she had one, but it was weak.


“‘Taker…” She whispered out in the grass, knowing he probably hadn’t heard her, and felt his hand checking her wrist for a pulse. 


She groaned softly, her head killing her from the gash, and winced as the pain overtook her body.  Her hair splayed down her back and over her shoulders, but didn’t cover her face, which glowed in the moonlight.  Blood gushed out of her forehead.


Cursing, ‘Taker wrapped his bandana around Juliana’s forehead to stem the blood flow.  “Don’t you dare fucking die on me.” He ordered that being a pretty bad gash, knowing she probably had a concussion.  “Keep awake!” He snapped, seeing her closing her eyes.  ‘Taker lifted her into his arms and slowly climbed out of the ditch, knowing the car was completely totaled. 


He looked up and down the road, knowing she needed medical attention immediately, but he didn’t have a phone on him for once, not even thinking about that when she had ran.  The town was farther away then his house.  Grunting in pain, he hauled ass down the road.


“I’m sorry…” She whispered, going in and out of consciousness, trying to fight off the darkness that threatened to consume her body.  She finally couldn’t do it as ‘Taker held her closer to him, her arms becoming looser around his neck, and finally whispered out, “I love you…” Her body then went completely limp in his arms, arms falling from his neck, and landed on her stomach, while the other lay prone, head dropped back.


“Jules, wake up!” He ordered, gently laying her down in the grass, and slapped her face, panic taking over him now.  “Wake up!” He pleaded, cradling her head against his chest, knowing if she fell asleep now, she’d never wake up.  “Jules, I love you too…” He whispered, finally admitting what had been plaguing him for a long time, acknowledging it when it was too late.  He cradled her against his chest; eyes squeezed shut, fighting back tears.  He tensed when he heard a horn blowing.


“‘Taker!  Is she alright?” John shouted from the driver’s side of the truck.  “Taker got to his feet, pulling Juliana’s limp body with him, shocked to find John driving a pick up truck.  He didn’t say anything, just got in, Juliana on his lap.


“I uh…borrowed this.” John said, seeing Juliana, and swallowed hard as his stomach clenched violently.  “Is she…”


“Hospital.  Now.”


Chapter 15


Juliana lay prone in the hospital bed, trying to fight back the haze that was clouding her mind, hearing voices.  She slowly began moving her fingers that were lying on the bed at her sides, trying to fight, trying to walk towards the light.  She winced, the pain in her head aching, and she didn’t know where she was.  She slowly opened her eyes, finally finding light, and looked around.  There was an IV in her arm, pumping fluids into her body, and hissed out in pain as she immediately shut her eyes. 


“Will someone turn off that goddamn light?!” She ordered angrily, her head pounding, and leaned further back on the pillow.


“Jules?” John shot up from the chair he had been fitfully dozing in, reaching out to dim the light enough to where it was mostly dark.  Though, it provided enough light for him to see her.  He moved to stand at the side of the bed, taking her hand and squeezed it gently, tears shining in his eyes.  “God sis…you gave me such a damn scare.  How are you feeling?” He asked quietly.


“Like I got ran over by a fuckin’ semi going about one hundred miles an hour.” She groaned out, slowly opening her eyes again, and looked up into her best friend’s eyes, smiling a little.  “Hey bro.” She weakly whispered out and grunted when he pulled her into his arms, sitting on the hospital bed.  She didn’t mind, enjoying the warm contact, and coughed a little, holding him tighter to her as she could without hurting herself.  “What happened?” She whispered gruffly once he released her.


John sighed, rubbing her back, almost afraid if he let her go, he’d never see her again.  “Well…from what I was told, Ken ran his SUV into you, sending you into the ditch really hard.  He hightailed it out of there.  ‘Taker got to you and started carrying you.  I came up with a truck I borrowed and we rushed you here.” He hugged her gently.  “You’re banged up, got a concussion, and will have a nasty scar on your forehead, but that can be taken care of with surgery.


Tears started streaming down her face as all the events came back to her, hitting her like one big giant tornado.  “How long was I out for?” When John said three weeks, Juliana started crying hysterically, burying her face in her hands, and couldn’t believe how stupid she’d been.  Ken thought she was dead and when she was better, she was going to end this once and for all as she looked up at her brother and whispered, “I want to get out of here please.”


John nodded, having already figured that.  “I got us an apartment to share, under new identities.” He informed her softly.  “‘Taker got us both some new identification, the works.  You don’t mind being Mrs. Coleman do you?” He made a face, matching hers.  “I know, name sucks…but uh…honey…” He smiled playfully, trying to lighten her mood a bit.  “It’ll work until you’re one hundred percent, then we can take that bastard out.”


Nodding, Juliana wiped her tears away from her eyes and slowly stood up from the bed, ripping the IV out of her arm like she did so many times.  It was getting old as she raked a hand through her hair and smirked when John handed her the bags of clothes.  She immediately changed into a pair of black jeans with a black tank top, leaving her hair down, and put black steel toed boots on.  Once she was dressed, she took her best friend’s hand and walked over to the window. 


She looked back at him, her midnight blue eyes gleaming, and casually asked, “Think it’s too high to jump from?”


“Actually now, we’re on ground level.” John smirked, opening the window for her.  He watched as she stepped out and dropped down, following her.  John handed her the bag and pulled a set of keys out of his back pocket, leading her around to the alleyway where a non descriptive car was waiting.  “Your chariot, Mrs. Coleman.” He snorted.  “There’s even a wedding ring to go with it if you want.” He shook his head, watching as she got in on the passenger seat, sliding into the driver’s seat.


Laughing softly Juliana shook her head, snorting herself.  “Lead on, Mr. Coleman.” She joked with a roll of her eyes and looked in the mirror.  The gash wasn’t that bad on her forehead, barely noticeable, and sighed with inner relief as she looked out the window.  Her mind went to ‘Taker and where he was.  Probably long gone.  She felt her heart twinge; knowing he’d gotten hurt that night because of her and felt the silent tears began sliding down her cheeks.  She loved him.  She’d told him she did and felt like a complete fool.  She shoved John’s hand off of her shoulder when he tried to comfort her.  “I’m fine, just drive.”


John shook his head, having a fairly good idea of what she was thinking about and decided not to say anything.  He’d wait for her to broach the subject first.  He drove in silence, taking back streets until pulling into a parking lot.  He gestured up to the apartment complex before them. 


“It’s one of those um… ‘Lower class’ places.  We’re supposed to be living incognito for now.” He explained.  “But it came furnished quite nicely so…”


“I don’t care about what class it is, John.” She replied, stepping out of the car once he parked, and sighed heavily, wrapping her arms around herself. 


She was still weak, but she’d experienced worse.  She followed him up to the apartment and walked inside, nodding in approval, and immediately began looking around.  She needed something to get her mind off of ‘Taker. 


Something, anything! 


She sniffled a little as she walked into the bedroom and flipped the light on, seeing a simple bed, immediately walking over, sitting down on it.  Ken thought she was dead.  That would work in her favor, especially when she took the son of a bitch out for good.


John locked the door behind them and followed her, pulling blankets out of the closet.  “Are you hungry?” He asked softly, tucking them under his arm.  “Jules…you’ve been living off of IV’s for the past three weeks, let me nuke you something.”


“I’m not hungry.” She softly said and stood up from the bed, stumbling a little, but managed to keep her balance.  She drew the shades closed in the windows before walking back out, drawing all the shades, and finally sat down on the couch.  “When do you want to go after Ken?” She quietly asked, raking her hands through her hair, just wanting to get it over with.


“Whenever you’re ready to.” John replied, shaking his head.  “Though, I think you should at least take a couple of days to get back on your feet.” He said gently, wishing she would for once listen to him.  “Why don’t we just hole up here for two or three days, you can relax and whatnot, then we’ll get him?” He suggested, hoping she didn’t argue with him.




She knew he was right.  She couldn’t push herself or else she’d regret it.  Sighing, she lay down on the couch, curling on it, and closed her eyes.  Those emerald green eyes filled her mind, causing the tears to start falling freely, and wondered where he was at. 


What he was doing at that moment. 


She missed him, no matter what happened between them.  She wanted to be in his arms, but it really hurt that he hadn’t been at the hospital when she woke up.  Then again, his job was done.  He’d protected her the best way he knew how and now it was up to her to finish this. 


Her and John.


John sighed, plucking a tissue off the box on the nightstand and wiped away her tears.  “You love him don’t you?” He asked softly, staring down at her, and held out a fresh tissue.


Juliana didn’t answer as she turned around on the couch; her face buried in it, and wrapped her arms around herself.  She couldn’t believe what had happened with Ken and everything.  She hadn’t expected Ken to ram into her car with his precious SUV, especially at the speed.  She didn’t know how fast he was going, but knew it was faster than fifty miles an hour. 


She was lucky she was wearing her seatbelt or else she would’ve flown through the windshield.  Her head bounced off the wheel, which caused the huge gash to split open on her forehead, but other than that, it was just a lot of bumps and bruises.  She closed her eyes, allowing the tears to fall from them, and knew she had to sleep.  With ‘Taker on her mind, she finally drifted off, wishing he was there with her at the moment.




John would be lying if he said he was a little concerned for Juliana.  He was SERIOUSLY concerned for her.  She slept, thank god, though she barely ate anything since coming out of her mini coma.  She ignored his questions about ‘Taker, both direct, and beating around the bush, kind. 


He sighed, raking a hand through his hair as he swept down the kitchen, something to do because he needed to distract himself.  He knew they’d be going after Ken soon, would be finding out who the mystery woman was.  Everything was boiling down to the climax, end scene.  And John only prayed Juliana would live to see the end credits. 


“Great…now I’m THINKING in metaphors…” He grumbled, sweeping up the floor more.


Juliana was sitting in the living room that had a ledge on it, staring out the window through the drawn blinds.  It’d been three days since she’d escaped from the hospital and she was started to get her strength back.  She raked a hand through her hair, sighing heavily, and knew they were going after Ken soon. 


She wanted to do it now. 


Wanted to end this once and for all, but wasn’t sure how to go about doing it.  She had somewhat of an idea.  Something along the lines of shooting the fucker and his accomplice twice in the chest and head, but that wouldn’t solve anything.  She wanted to know why he wanted her dead.  She wanted to know the motives behind it, which is what she’d been thinking of. 


That and ‘Taker. 


Tears came to her eyes as Juliana thought about him and knew she’d hurt him.  She hadn’t meant to freak out on him that night in the bedroom, but everything was moving too fast for her.  She honestly didn’t want to sleep with him because he’d end up breaking her heart in the end.  Snorting, Juliana laughed bitterly at herself, knowing it already was and they didn’t even sleep together.


John sighed, glancing over at Juliana, tossing aside his cleaning rag and walked out.  “There’s a little deli across the street.  You hungry?” He asked, having a pretty good feeling he already knew the answer, but he had to try to get her to eat something.


“I’m sick of waiting, John.” She finally spoke after a few moments of silence between them and slid off the ledge.  She looked up at him, no emotion whatsoever in her blue eyes, and crossed her arms in front of her chest.  “I’m going to finish this tonight.  You either stay behind or come with me, but one way or another, this ends tonight.  I can’t live like this anymore.” Her tone was even, not even cracking or shaky.  It was filled with deadly intentions and insurmountable determination.


John stared at her for a full minute before nodding, his jaw tightening, mouth compressing into one thin grim line.  “You already know I got your back, Jules.” He said just as evenly.  “You plan on taking it to him then?  To his place?”


“We need to stop at the mansion first.  I need to do something before we go to his place.” Juliana informed him, her eyes growing ice cold, and tightened her fists at her sides, knowing John wanted to get his hands on Ken.  She walked over, placing a hand on his arm, and nodded once.  “You will have your shot, I promise.  Let me go change.”


She then walked out of the living room and into the bedroom.  She left her black jeans on, but changed her tank top to black, pulling on her leather jacket, and left her hair down.  She outlined her eyes in black eyeliner, making them stand out even more, and slipped into her black steel toed boots. 


Tonight it ended.


John sighed, heading off to change himself after she’d emerged, his shorts and no shirt not the best war gear.  He pulled on a pair of dark blue jeans, a black beater, and a black denim coat.  He got into a box under his bed and pulled it out.  Sighing, he tucked it under his arm, wondering if Juliana had changed her mind any on her no gun policy.  Something told him she’d love nothing more then to put a bullet it some people’s heads. 


“You ready Jules?” He called out, stepping out into the living room.


Nodding, she walked out of the bedroom, carrying a gun, much to John’s shock.  She smirked at him wickedly while running her fingertips over the deadly weapon.  “I’m not the same Jules you knew four months ago, John.” She simply stated, strapping it to her thigh, and pulled her jean leg back down.  She then walked over to the window, looking out of it, and seen night had fallen, simply perfect in her eyes.  “Let’s go, we don’t have much time.” She stated and walked out of the front door, hoping she didn’t lose her life on this night.


John sighed heavily, more then aware this wasn’t his Jules anymore.  He slipped his own gun in his holster, specially made for him and followed her, snatching the car keys off the peg on the wall.  “Not planning on walking your ass all the way out there now are you?”


“No, but I figured you’d grab the keys.  Did you, dumbass?” She shot back at him over her shoulder and walked down to the parking garage, seeing how dark and dreary it was. 


It didn’t bother her.  Her soul was full of ice blue vengeance and the only thing on her mind that night was revenge.  ‘Taker didn’t even enter it.  She was that focused.


John rolled his eyes, tempting to point out she was being a major bitch, but decided against it.  For one, he knew why and two, he didn’t want her to shoot him.  He knew from firsthand experience how bad that hurt.  John just sucked it up and unlocked the car, slipping into the driver’s side, and waited patiently for her, his blue eyes focusing before him.  A minute later, Juliana slipped in the passenger seat, putting her seatbelt on, and crossed her arms, her eyes focused out the window as John pulled out of the parking garage and headed to the place she once called home.


Chapter 16


The ride to the mansion was made in silence, each in their own thoughts about what was going down tonight.  When they arrived at the huge, steel gates, Juliana told John the cold and watched him punch it in.  Then, they parked the car at the curb before getting out. 


The night air was cool as she closed her eyes, letting it blow through her hair for a moment before finally opening them again.  The smell of death entered her nostrils as they walked inside the mansion, knowing none of the doors were locked.  She looked around, seeing absolutely nobody there, and shook her head before heading upstairs. 


Once they arrived on the second floor, Juliana headed for her bedroom and pushed open the cracked door, feeling sick to her stomach by what she found.  It was completely demolished from the bed, to the dresser, everything, even in her closet.  She wasn’t surprised when she found the only thing that hadn’t been destroyed was her wedding dress and pulled it down, closing the door behind her, leaving John to survey the damage.


John swallowed hard, having seen the pictures of her room, but it just didn’t compare to the real thing.  The room was totaled and covered in dust.  It looked like the entire house had been abandoned, staff and all.  Clean, but dusty.  And the scent…he shook his head and followed Juliana. 


“What’re you doing with that?” He asked curiously as he watched her.


She didn’t answer him and peeled her clothes off; making sure the gun was still strapped to her leg, and pulled the wedding dress on.  It was simple and white, nothing special.  Her shoulders were bare, the sleeves hanging off to the side on her arms, and it was V shaped, fitting her body like a second skin before flowing down like a ball gown.  It didn’t have a train as she looked in the mirror, eyes not holding one ounce of emotion, and stepped out.  She was still wearing her black steeled toed boots, not caring how it looked, and smirked at the look John shot her. 


“Let’s go give my dear hubby-to-be a taste of his own medicine.” She stated with a serene smile on her face.


John shook his head at her.  “Only you would wear a wedding dress to a damned funeral.” He said quietly, following her out, his tennis shoes a hell of a lot quieter on the floor then her heavy ass boots.  He wasn’t ashamed to admit he was more then happy to be leaving the mansion.  The place was giving him a serious case of the creeps.


“Hey, he wanted a bride, but he didn’t specify what kind.” Juliana shot back as they walked down the stairs of the mansion, dress flowing behind her, and looked around the place. 


Never again would she step foot in it again. 


Her childhood home.


Juliana felt a twinge of remorse hit her.  That quickly vanished though when she remembered how much of a prisoner she was in this mansion and how many nights she had to sneak out just to have a peace of tranquility.  She noticed John getting skittish and led the way out, a full lit moon shining down on them.


John opened the car door for her, his usual smartass grin firmly in place, having always used his humor as a defense mechanism.  Now he was using it to defend himself from his worry and fears of this situation.  “Your chariot, Mrs. Coleman.” He murmured, feeling her dress brush against him, making a soft noise that seemed overly loud.


Not saying a word, Juliana reached up and brushed her lips against his before wrapping her arms around his neck, hugging him close.  “Thank you for everything, John.” She whispered, kissing his neck before sliding inside, shutting the door before he could, and buckled up. 


It was a good hour drive to Ken’s mansion and they would have to sneak their way in.  Juliana had been there enough times to know the perfect place of entrance.  She just wanted to get there and get this over with.  To finally have her revenge and her life back.


‘Taker waited patiently, sitting off to the side of the road on his Titan, legs firmly planted on either side of the motorcycle.  He rested his arms on the gas tank, leaning forward to stare off down the road.  His green eyes narrowed when he thought he seen headlights, but then nothing.  He began to slowly grin, a bone chilling wicked grin.  He leaned back, his bike and himself blending in perfectly with the night, and waited.


The ride was made in silence once again, seeming like it too forever to arrive there.  Finally, they did and Juliana instructed John to pull off on a nearby curb that was near the back of the mansion.  They were going in through the basement and would make their way up through the mansion that way.  John cut the ignition as Juliana took a deep breath, seeing the apprehension in John’s face, and placed her and over his.  


“Last time.” She promised and slowly opened the car door, stepping out, the moonlight shining down on her, making her glow.  Especially with the white wedding dress she was wearing and her pale skin.


‘Taker’s eyes narrowed to dangerous slits when he seen Juliana and John, shaking his head.  The woman was still out of her mind, coming here looking like that.  Though, knowing how stupid Ken was, he’d probably peg her for a ghost.  Not the other one, though.  His nostrils flared slightly as he slipped out of his own hiding places, still blending in with the shadows and followed.


Juliana guided John to the back of the mansion, being careful to not be spotted, especially with her wearing white.  Her pale skin mixed with it well, making her look like a ghost.  That’s what she wanted Kent to think.  She was a ghost, coming back to haunt his ass.  She smirked at the thought and worked her way around the property.  She stopped, suddenly feeling like someone was following them, and shook herself mentally before continuing, finally finding what she was looking for. 


“John, over here, quickly!” She whispered quietly, barely audible, and pointed to the nearby window that lead to the basement.  “This is the only way in.”


John nodded, helping her to open it, holding his breath.  The hairs on the back of his neck were starting to rise now, feeling like they were being watched.  John helped her to gather up her wedding gown before she slipped through, shaking his head.  With her black hair and boots, combined with the gown, she looked a bit like a wraith.  Boy oh boy was Kenny boy going to piss himself. 


“Holy shit…” John muttered, staring around the basement with wide eyes, the moonlight shining through the window.


The basement was filled with junk that nobody would ever need, but there was a pathway that was clear enough to make their way through.  Juliana looked back at John, nodding when they were both in, and kept the window unlocked incase they had to make a quick escape.  Slowly and carefully, Juliana made her way through the mess, trying with all her might not to make too much noise. 


She was silent as a cat, the darkness of the basement not fazing her in the slightest.  Her midnight blue eyes narrowed slightly when they arrived at the stairs and knew this was it.  The Anderson mansion had no guards on the inside, mostly in the front, which made the family the dumbest of the century.


John placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, squeezing softly, letting her know he was right there besides her.  They’d been friends forever it seemed and he had always tried to be there for her.  Now was no exception.  His face was set into a determined mask, his blue eyes steady and grim.  He bent down to lightly kiss her shoulder before placing his hand on the small of her back, urging her to go up the stairs, urging to her to end this once and for all with Ken Anderson.


Juliana patted his hand reassuringly before slowly making her way up the stairs, still feeling like someone was watching them.  She shook it off, knowing this was just her and John, and finally made her way up them.  She ducked when a maid came by, hiding behind one of those huge statues, knowing she blended perfectly with it and finally stepped out when she didn’t see anyone else. 


John had remained downstairs halfway as she urged him on before quickly heading toward the stairs.  Her black hair flowed behind her as she quickly made her way up, knowing all the maids and everyone were fast asleep for the night, with the exception of the one she’d barely came in contact with.  The hallway became dark as her eyes scanned it, still not making a sound, and nodded when she felt John right beside her.


John frowned, cocking his head to the side when he thought he heard footsteps behind them, but when he turned around to peer down the stairwell, there was nobody there.  Just the darkness.  He held his breath, staring for a minute longer before shaking his head, knowing he was just psyching himself out.  John then frowned when he heard Anderson’s voice echoing around them, bouncing off the hallway walls, and looked questioningly at Juliana.  Having never been in here before, figuring she probably knew where the creep would be at.


Truth be told, Juliana had no clue where his room was because she’d never been on the second floor.  Something was telling her he was on the second floor and when she heard his voice, she knew her instincts had been right.  She slowly made her way down the hallway, feeling her leg, checking to make sure her gun was still there, her black hair flowing down her back in waves as she moved.  Her eyes narrowed slightly when she heard a woman’s voice flow throughout the hallways, sounding positively wicked, yet familiar.  She didn’t look back, feeling John behind her, and headed up the stairwell that led to the third floor of the mansion.


John arched an eyebrow at the woman’s voice, wondering just who the Hell she was.  It was awfully soon for Ken to be coming out of mourning for his dead fiancée.  He felt for his gun, glancing down at his goose bump covered arm and frowned. 


‘Taker shook his head, remaining where he was, out of sight.  Though, he could seem both plain as day.  He hadn’t planned on being with Juliana at the end, but he hadn’t been able to walk away from her either.  He tried to tell himself it was because he felt obligated to her dead father.  Having promised to protect Juliana, but that wasn’t working either. 


Juliana felt her stomach tighten as the woman’s voice drew near, causing her to stop, and leaned against the wall of the stairwell.  Something was familiar, very familiar, but she couldn’t place it.  She took a few deep breaths and began moving again, up the stairs, and finally arrived on the third floor. 


Before them was two huge double oak doors and she could very plainly hear both of their voices behind it.  She sighed, feeling John’s hand on her shoulder, and nodded back at him, but didn’t reciprocate the motion.  Her blue eyes narrowed to slits, squaring her shoulders, and knew this was it. 


Tonight, it ended and ended for good.


John frowned, not liking the sound of this woman’s voice, and he’d bet everything he owned, granted it wasn’t that much, that this was the other shooter.  He tilted his head from side to side, feeling it crack almost soundlessly, and squared his shoulders.  He kept his gun out of sight, but had a firm grip on it, not about to let anything happen to Juliana if he could help it.


Mentally counting to three, Juliana brought her foot up and kicked the doors open, causing Ken to spit out the wine he was drinking, and stopped dead in her tracks.  Tears instantly swelled in her eyes as she covered her mouth with her hand, not believing who she was seeing before her very eyes as her own widened in shock.  The long blonde tresses and eyes that mirrored her own.  Juliana felt her entire body start to tremble as she stood in the doorway, John right behind her, and couldn’t believe who Ken’s accomplice had been. 


It was her mother.


Ken blinked, wine dripping down his face, and didn’t care.  He stared wide eyed, in shock, at Juliana.  “You’re dead!” He gasped, quickly crossing himself as if it could protect him.


“I told you, you should have checked to make sure it was done properly!” Her mother, Cassandra, stated with a shake of her head, taking another sip of her wine.


“I’m telling you she was dead!  The way I hit her…”


“Well obviously you were wrong because there she is.” There was a clicking noise, the safety of a gun being taken off.


Juliana felt the breath leave her body at the sight of her mother, hearing her words, and knew she wasn’t dreaming.  Her flesh and blood mother who she thought was dead was sitting before he rand just stood there frozen solid.  Suddenly, something was replaced inside of her.  Something she never expected before and narrowed her eyes to slits as the tears quickly dried up in them. 


“Hello honey, did you miss me?” She asked coldly, a serene smile crossing her lips, and then turned to her mother.  “Looks like you thought your daughter was dead and buried just like I thought YOU were.” Her tone was deceptively low and calm, eerie sounding.


“Well we all make errors of judgment now don’t we?” Her mother replied coldly, holding a gun aimed directly at Juliana’s head.  “Though of course, I knew you weren’t dead.  You’re simply too stubborn to take a hint.  I always knew you’d be nothing, but a thick-headed little brat.”  Ken was slowly regaining his color, knowing now that he’d been made an ass of, and that didn’t make him happy.  He took in her wedding dress and sneered, cold gaze moving onto John.


“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, mother dearest.” She state din that same tone of voice as John brought his gun out, clicking the trigger back, and fired, causing the gun to fly out of Cassandra’s hand.  She smirked, not believing how well the aim was, and brought her dress up before ripping her own gun out, aiming it at Ken.  “You’re going to pay for what you took away from me.  You took my life for FIVE months!  You teamed up with the woman I thought was dead and who I used to love more than life itself!” She clicked her own trigger back, her body posture full of hatred, and glared back at him.  “What I want to know is why.  Why did you do it, Ken?  Why did you kill my father and why do you want me dead?  Why are you two wanting to end MY life when you have all the money in the world?”


“Really Juliana, if you had any brains at all, you’d know I’m practically a pauper.” Cassandra said coldly, hatred in her blue eyes that mirror Juliana’s.  “When I left, I relinquished any monies I might have had, all going to you.  Legally, I am a widow now, fully recovered and fresh out of a coma that lasted for more than a decade.  Nice story isn’t it?”


Ken smirked sardonically.  “You already know why I’m doing this, my dear.  Vendettas never die.  They’re only harbored.  Did you honestly think I wanted to unite our families?  I’d love nothing more then to end the Harrison’s and you’re the last of them.” He arched an eyebrow at Cassandra, who smiled sweetly in return.  The next minute, he had practically leapt over the desk and knocked the gun out of Juliana’s hand, sending it flying across the room.  Cassandra lunged for John, ducking when he aimed his gun at her head and tackled him, grabbing his wrist and banging it against the hardwood floor.  “Come on, darling…” Ken murmured, grabbing Juliana harshly by the wrists and dragging her out of the room.  “Let’s catch up.”


“NO!” Juliana screamed out, trying to wrench her wrists free of his grasp, and cried out when he applied more pressure.  “LET ME GO!” She screamed at him again, trying to kick him, and cried out when he backhanded her across the face, causing her to crumble to the floor.  Tears of pain and fright streamed down her face as Ken dragged her down the hallway, holding her face with her hand, the fight leaving her for the time being.  “JOHN!!” She screamed one last time as Ken dragged her up the winding staircase of the mansion, which made them arrive on the fourth floor.


“John isn’t going to help you.” Ken said coldly, slapping her again.  He grunted, hoisting her up over his shoulder and smacked her ass as hard as he could repeatedly, ignoring her cries for help.  Finally, he kicked open a door, stepping into what was obviously his bedroom.  He tossed her none too gently on the king sized bed, shutting the door behind him with the heel of his foot.  “Your wedding appropriate.”


Juliana instantly backed up on the bed, knowing she was trapped and there was nobody that was going to save her from this.  “You can do whatever you want to me.  It won’t make a difference.  My father is dead and I don’t care about the stupid family war!!” She shouted back at him, hatred and anger flowing through her midnight blue eyes, feeling her back hit the headboard. 


Juliana looked toward the window, knowing if she jumped out of it, she’d leap to her death.  It wasn’t a bad idea at the time because there was no way this monster was going to take her innocence.  She’d rather die then allow it to happen.


“I know you don’t care, but I do and frankly, that’s all that really matters, Juliana.” Ken replied indifferently, loosening his shirt.  He frowned, cocking his head when he heard something outside the room.  He walked over to his wardrobe, opening it and pulling off a .45 from the top shelf, shooting her a threatening look before glancing at the door. 


Juliana watched him glance at the door and contemplated on whether or not to leap out of the window.  She moved off the bed and went to grab the lamp, when a knife came whizzing past her, implanting into the wall.  Her midnight blue eyes widened in shock when the door was pushed open and there stood ‘Taker in the flesh.  She felt her breath catch in her throat and shook her head in disbelief, not believing what was happening.  Her heart leapt in her throat, finding it hard to breathe and managed to hop over the bed and toward the window, tears streaming down her cheeks. 


“You’re not leaving so soon, are you Jules?” ‘Taker mocked, drawing another throwing dagger, and tossed it up into the air, catching the blade between his fingers.  He looked at Ken for a moment.  “I want my money.”


Chapter 17


“HUH?” Ken gaped, aiming the now shaking gun at ‘Taker, Juliana’s bodyguard.


‘Taker sighed heavily, like he was dealing with a moron.  “Who the fuck do you think sent her out this way?  Who do you think gave her the means to do all she’s done?  I personally hand delivered her to you.  Now I want my money.” He demanded his tone even.


Ken stared at ‘Taker, using both hands to steady the gun, wondering what the Hell was going on.  He shot a look back at Juliana, turning the gun onto her, and ordered, “Don’t you move!”


She couldn’t believe what she was hearing.  ‘Taker was on Ken’s side the entire time?!  Juliana felt her heart shatter into a million pieces at that moment, her midnight blue eyes narrowing to dangerous slits, and couldn’t believe it.  She’d fallen for it.  She’d fallen for his ways and now she was going to die because of it. 


“I trusted you!  John trusted you!” She backed up further, her face bruised from the backhands Ken had given her, but that wasn’t bothering her at the moment.  What was bothering her was the fact that she fell in love with the man who’d betrayed her. “JOHN!!” She screamed out when she heard his muffled bellows followed by her mother’s shrieks.


“Never trust a man who works in a profession where money is most definitely coin of the realm.” ‘Taker replied indifferently, not seeming to be upset by her outburst.  He grinned cruelly when he heard his screams.  “Sounds like your boy is getting his ass handed to him.”


Ken looked back and forth between ‘Taker and Juliana, slowly edging to the middle of the room, aiming the gun back and forth between them, mind now reeling.  “How much do I owe you?” He finally asked, glancing at ‘Taker for only a second.


“That’ll be settled after this business is handled.” ‘Taker replied ominously.


Juliana looked back into ‘Taker’s eyes and quickly looked away, not wanting to even see him right now.  She felt sick to her stomach as she lost her breath, stumbling back a little, and closed her eyes tightly shut as more tears flowed down her cheeks.  She opened them when she heard John and her mother making their way upstairs and began trembling from head to toe.  She’d made the mistake of wanting to know the reason why they wanted her dead and now she was paying for it. 


“Just fucking shoot me then, Ken!  Just end it!” She shouted at him, hating that the gun was being pointed at her and nothing was happening.  “At least I won’t have to deal with this shit anymore and you can finally have what you want!”


“Actually, I had other plans for you before we got around to that.” Ken smirked, his eyes becoming distracted when ‘Taker started tossing the knife into the air.  More then a little disturbed with the ease the man caught the sharp blade between his fingers.


“JULIANA!  Bitch, get your crazy ass off of me!” John burst into the room, trying to throw Cassandra off his back, his face all dug up from her sharp nails.  He grunted, tossing her over his shoulder to the floor.  “Fucking psycho bi-” He froze, sidestepping around ‘Taker to move towards Juliana.  “What the Hell is going on here?”


‘Taker chuckled darkly, his green eyes locking on John’s confused blue ones, and retorted swiftly, “You tell me boy.”


“John!” Juliana cried out, rushing over to him, not caring about Ken’s gun and wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him tightly.  “He’s with them!” She choked out, crying harder, crumbling, and froze when she felt the trigger click back.  She quickly turned around, blocking John from what her fate was, and shoved him away from her when Ken let out a warning shot.  “John, get out of here!  He wants me!  They want me bad enough, they can have me!  GO NOW!” She ordered, pointing to the door, and backed up by the window again.


“STOP HER!” Ken shouted, diving for John, along with Cassandra, and Juliana, not that hard since John hadn’t bothered to move.


‘Taker shook his head, watching the mayhem.  His green eyes narrowed when Cassandra went for John’s face again, wondering just why Juliana didn’t inherit some of that viciousness.  If she had, she might of still had a chance at living.  He cleared his throat, smirking cruelly when Ken shot him an apprehensive look before going back to knocking Juliana around.  He tightened his grip on the knife blade, preparing to throw, his eyes locking in on Juliana. 


The target.


Her heart was pounding in her ears as she stood by the window, not taking her eyes from ‘Taker or his knife.  Her eyes locked on his, icicles shooting at him, and swallowed hard, knowing this was it.  This was when her life was going to end, but she’d be damned if she wasn’t going to get the last word in. 


“I hate you.  I hope you rot in Hell for what you’ve done.” She then closed her eyes and allowed the tears to cascade down her cheeks, finally accepting her fate. 


How could she fight off this monster who claimed and promised to protect her and Ken?  It was impossible and she knew John couldn’t help her either.  John looked up in time to see another knife appear in ‘Taker’s hand and knew this was it.  He shoved Cassandra away from him, moving towards Juliana, determined to die either making an attempt to save her or at her side. 


“I WANT TO KILL HER!” Cassandra shrieked, seeing ‘Taker’s knives.  She snatched the gun from Ken’s grip.


“No, damn it!  I’m going to!  She’s a Harrison and it’s my-” The words died in Ken’s throat as a knife embedded itself in his heart.  He looked down at his chest, confusion registering on his face.


Juliana’s eyes widened in shock, her mouth dropping open, and blinked as she stood there.  She’d opened her eyes and seen ‘Taker throw the knife, embedding it into Ken’s heart instead of her own.  She seen her mother’s shocked face and the gun on the ground that John had tried shooting her with, immediately picking it up. 


She locked eyes with her and stated, “Rest in peace, bitch.”


She then fired, the bullet lodging right in her black heart, and watched as her mother crumbled on the bed along with Ken.  Very fitting indeed.  She then threw the gun away on the floor, shaking from head to toe, and looked over at John, who was completely dumbfounded.


John was standing there open mouthed, finally moving to take her in his arms.  He grunted when he was shunted aside by the still not quite dead Ken, who wrapped his now bloody hands around Juliana’s neck.  “You bitch!  You’ll die with me!” Ken rasped out, squeezing her neck tightly.


‘Taker sighed, tossing the other dagger, this time getting Ken in the back of his neck.  He calmly walked across the room and pulled it back out, stepping away as the blood spurted out.  “I like this one.” He said, watching Ken’s carcass drop.  Then he turned his green eyes onto Juliana, hesitation in them.


Coughing a little, Juliana had been grabbed by the throat and watched as Ken crumbled at her feet, his blood getting on her dress, staining it.  She immediately stumbled back from him, John catching her, and couldn’t take it anymore.  She started crying hysterically, everything crashing over her, and shoved him aside before running out of the room. 


Juliana ran down the winding staircase, tears streaming down her face, and stumbled as she fell, the dress having forced her to.  She quickly scrambled up, crying even harder, and managed to make it down the third flight of stairs, needing to get out of this mansion.  Her mind was spinning as she gripped her hair in her hands, not knowing what to believe anymore.


‘Taker didn’t bother checking on John.  He flew out after Juliana, knowing she was going to hurt herself if she didn’t calm her panicky ass down.  He sighed, gripping the staircase railing in one hand, and vaulted himself over it, landing before her.  He crouched down to keep his balance and caught her in his arms. 


“Calm down, Jules!  I’m not going to hurt you!” He soothed, letting her start punching him with her tiny fists.  “Jules…if I wanted you dead, you’d be dead.  You know this.”


“I don’t know what to believe anymore!” Juliana cried out at him, her tiny fists hitting him before finally wrapping her arms around his neck tightly, pressing her body to his, before sobbing violently. 


She buried her face in the crook of his neck, her entire body trembling from head to toe, and finally felt herself crumble as her knees gave out.  She wanted to hit him so hard and then at the same time, she wanted to hold him and never let go.  She chose option two obviously, not sure if she was doing the right thing, but she could already feel her heart mending back into place.


‘Taker picked her up in his arms when he felt her knees going out, holding her up against him, one arm under her legs, the other supporting her back.  He shot John a best be backing down look when the man appeared, holding a knife.  “You throw that son and you better hope you’re a better shot then I am.” He threatened gravely.


John dropped the knife instantly.  “Whose side are you on?” He demanded, looking totally confused now.


“The same side I’ve always been on.  Mine.” ‘Taker lowered his gaze to Juliana’s face.  “Yours.”


Juliana couldn’t say a word.  She just held ‘Taker tighter, refusing to let him go at the moment, and felt her entire body shaking violently.  He’d been on her side the entire time.  He’d managed to break and mend her heart in a matter of minutes and it was too much for her to take. 


She was both thrilled and angry because he’d forced her to say she hated him when she really didn’t.  She didn’t hate him.  She loved him.  Doing that was the worst and best thing he could’ve done as her hot tears beat down on his neck.


“Come on…Let’s get the Hell out of here.” ‘Taker said heading down the last flight of steps, knowing John was following him.


“So…the entire time you were just messing with them?”


“God, you don’t miss much do you, kid?”


“I’m just trying to get my ducks in a row.  You looked like you were on their side.” John said defensively.


“Which is why I killed Anderson?”


“He’s on our side, John.” Juliana quietly spoke, pulling her head out of the crook, and rested her head on his shoulder.  “He’s always been on our side.” She sniffled a little and closed her eyes, more tears spilling down her cheeks, and held him tighter to her. 


John sighed heavily, his mind totally blown now.  He didn’t say another word, trusting Juliana’s judgment and followed them out.  He watched as ‘Taker lead the way to their car. 


“You were following us weren’t you?” It wasn’t a question and it more then explained the crept out feeling he’d had.


“I was waiting before you even got here.” ‘Taker replied casually, opening the backseat of the car, and gently lay Juliana down.  “You honestly think you’d gotten rid of me?”


“Hoped maybe.”


“I didn’t know what to think.” She whispered softly back at him, leaning her head against the window, and allowed the silent tears to spill down her cheeks. 


She knew this was it for them. 


He’d done what he promised them he’d do and that was help them destroy Anderson and his accomplice.  She looked into his emerald green eyes and felt her heart start to tear in half, wanting to be with him.  Juliana wanted him and only him.  She didn’t say anything as he finally released her, causing her to look down at her dress, and felt sick by the blood that stained it.


‘Taker closed the car door, turning to look at John.  “Get her back to the apartment.” He ordered gravely.


“What’re you gonna do?  Walk out on her again?” John demanded, not moving an inch.


“I’ll be around.  But you need to get her out of here before the staff wises up and calls the cops.” ‘Taker’s green eyes narrowed when John didn’t move.  “GET HER THE FUCK OUT OF HERE DAMN IT!”


He shoved John back toward the car.  John’s eyes widened, about to say something, but heard the house alarms going off, lights flashing everywhere, and screams coming from inside.  He nodded and hauled ass down the street.


They made it back to the apartment unscathed and nobody knew it’d been them that killed Ken and Cassandra.  Juliana just stared out the window, her heart slowly breaking, and let out a shaky sigh.  John stopped the car as she slowly sat up and got out after he extended his hand to her. 


She didn’t say a word and walked up to the apartment, hoping they didn’t wake up any of the neighbors.  She walked inside after John unlocked the door and went to the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her.  She tore the wedding dress off of her, tears streaming down her face, and felt a little more of her heart break off.




‘Taker sighed, rubbing the heel of his hand against his forehead.  He’d spent the last four hours dressed in a black business suit, carrying a black briefcase, his hair pulled back, shades on his eyes.  Looking like a complete moron, in his opinion, but it’d been worth it. 


He’d come in acting like he owned the place, flashing some identification that had made the local police officers and detectives take a few steps back and basically implanted what had happened in their minds.  And what would be hitting the papers would not mention how three other people had been there. 


There was no proof.  Everything that could possibly link them was gone.  He sighed again, slipping off the tie he wore and stuffed in it his back pocket.  If Juliana kept her head low for a month or two, she’d be fine.




Juliana changed into a pair of pajama pants that were black with a tank top before collapsing on the bed after an hour long shower, the tears never stopping.  She’d ordered John to burn the wedding dress, not wanting any reminder of what had happened on this night.  She snuggled into the pillow and sighed with a heavy heart, closing her eyes.  She knew she could finally sleep in peace, knowing nobody was going to kill her, but what she wanted more than anything was to be in ‘Taker’s arms. 


She loved him. 


“I love you, ‘Taker…” She whispered softly, pulling the comforter over her body, and stared straight ahead at the wall.


“I love you too, darlin’.” ‘Taker said just as softly, leaning in the bedroom doorway.  He had made a stop to shower and discard the business suit, getting rid of the identification, briefcase, anything that would link him to the mysterious agent from earlier.  Now he was in a pair of tight fitting jeans and a black leather vest, boots, and his hair was hanging back in a loose ponytail.


Juliana heard that and shot up on the bed, her midnight blue eyes widened as the tears fell from them.  She immediately bounded off the bed and jumped into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist.  She started crying, her wet black hair falling down her back, and ran her hand up and down his chest, wanting to make sure he was there.  Wanting to make sure this wasn’t a dream. 


“I’m so sorry…” She whispered, squeezing her eyes shut, not believing he was there with her at the moment.


‘Taker was more than a little shocked with what she did, not sure what he was expecting, but definitely not that.  His arms instantly, as if with a mind of their own, wrapped around her, holding her tightly against him.  “What do you have to be sorry for, Jules?” He whispered, kissing the side of her head tenderly.


“I never meant to hurt you.  I never meant to run away.  I was scared and confused; I didn’t know how you felt.” She said in a rush of words, still crying, and buried her face in the crook of his neck, never wanting to leave his arms again.  She wanted to wake up every morning in his arms and fall asleep in them every night for the rest of her life.  “I’m so sorry…” She repeated over and over, her tears burning his skin.


“Hey, hey stop crying, darlin’.  I’m not mad at you.” He soothed, stroking her back gently.  “I scared you…and for that I’m sorry.” He looked ashamed of himself, something he didn’t seem very often.  “Can you forgive me for what I did to you, Juliana?”


“I forgave you long ago.” She whispered, breathing in and out raggedly, and ran her fingers through his damp tresses, sighing in contentment.  “I love you, ‘Taker.  Please don’t leave me again.” She started trembling against him, sniffling loudly, and felt him stroke her back, soothing her.  “Don’t leave me.” She pleaded in a whisper, knowing if he left for a third time, her heart would break and there would be no fixing it.


“I never really left you, darlin’.” ‘Taker whispered, slowly sitting down on the bed, her in his lap.  “I’ve been watching you since you jumped out of that hospital window.” He smiled slightly. “I had a feeling you’d be doing that which is why you were in a first floor room.” He sighed, running his fingers through her hair.  “I’m not going anywhere, Jules.  I’m here to stay, if you’ll have me.”


“I love you, ‘Taker.” She whispered, raising her head up from his neck, and stared into his eyes.  Those beautiful emerald green eyes.  She pressed her forehead to his, sniffling a little and wrapped her arms around his neck, brushing their lips together softly.


They both finally found what they’d been searching for all along and that was all they were living for.  To find that one person who completed them in everyway possible.  Now that Ken and Cassandra were dead, they were living for each other.  It was all they were living for and it would stay that way for the rest of their lives.


The End.