Promise Me by Jack O. Daniel
Genre: saga, genre fiction, urban life
A fast-paced, roller coaster ride with plenty of dramatic moments. This is a must-read!
From the same writer who gave you the romantic thriller, One Night Stand, comes another nail-biting offering.
‘Yeah, Easy?’ Lane said again. ‘Speak to me.’
Steel got his brain in gear. Get a grip, he scolded himself. He couldn’t afford to lose the plot. Not now.
‘This bomb,’ he began explaining as he gazed into Bianca’s eyes, ‘is rather unique.’
Her eyes spoke volumes. He could see she was clinging to her last thread of courage so instead of averting his eyes, he kept them on her. Smiling to reassure his beloved, he said, ‘I’ll start with the good news. The pipes, all twelve of them, are empty. No shrapnel inside them.’
One by one, he took them out, raise them up in the air one at a time so everyone could see it through their rifle scopes or binos. He had disconnected them earlier by snipping the wire attached to each end of the pipes. He tossed all twelve to the ground.
The bomb squad looked at each other with furrowed eyebrows. Still, a little confused Lane said, ‘That’s good, Easy. That’s really great.’ He locked eyes with Ron Taylor, who was somewhat perplexed.
‘The other good news is I’m ready.’
‘That’s good,’ Lane replied. But why in heaven’s name is he acting so strange.
Steel kissed Bianca on the forehead, traced a thumb over her lips and whispered, ‘Be right back.’
He went to Martin, who was still watching, close by. He gave him a man-hug and said, ‘One man down range. Please tell Knight to let April come.’
Jean Martin, who’d had the pleasure of serving with him for less than a year, blew out air from his lungs and said tearfully, ‘See you soon, buddy.’
Martin walked back to his team and told Knight to let the dog loose. It was all the German Shepherd was waiting for. She bolted out and ran to her family, golden hair flying in the wind.
Steel awaited her arrival; she jumped up into his arms, allowed her to lick him happily before he set her down to be with Bianca and May.
He then removed his Kevlar vest and protective helmet. They expected him to wear the bomb suit, but he didn’t. He looked at Bianca and said ‘Are you ready?’
Dylan Lane’s voice crackled in their headsets, ‘What are you playing at Steel? Put that bomb suit on or I’ll have your ass! That’s an order!’
Steel looked in his direction; he knew Lane could see him clearly through his binoculars. The instrument he was using was four times magnification. Indeed, Lane could see not only the lines around his eyes but also the exhaustion and the determination.
Steel spoke to him directly, ‘Boss, this bomb … is very sophisticated. Typically, amateur home-made bombs are simple. You cut one wire, and the circuit is broken.’
He laughed softly, ‘In the movies, the hero would go “Is it red? Blue? Yellow?” This, however, has several wires that extend beyond that. Cut the wrong wire, the timer could speed up. Or, cut the wrong one and a secondary trigger could blow it up.’
He turned his focus on Bianca like he was just telling her something about what he did for a living. ‘The most dangerous part of bomb defusion is opening it; that’s why my tack knife is my best friend on the job.’
He replaced stray strands of hair back behind her ears, ‘I uncovered the bomb and found the wire that mattered. Well, I’m confidently sure I have, but with these things…’ he left the rest unspoken.
Besides, they all knew that George Lee had already proven a point, hadn’t he? That he was quite capable of thinking outside the square. What other surprises might he have in store for them?
He kissed her lips lightly, ‘It’s a cruel bomb, in that it’s meant to punish me, not kill me. It would be unfair to leave the defusion to someone else; no one should ever be put in this predicament.’
Once more, he looked to Lane’s general direction, ‘Boss, he made sure there was only enough C-4 to kill one person, most of it was just putty. What I’m saying is… if… if I get it wrong… and I’m wearing a bomb suit, there is only enough C-4 in the vest bomb to kill Bianca. The last memory I would have of her would be seeing her disintegrate before my eyes.’ His voice hitched.
‘If I’m wearing my Kevlar vest and helmet, and this goes off, I would be disfigured. Blinded and disabled but I would be alive. Alive, but alone; crippled, damaged and beyond repair.’
She turned his face towards her and cupped it with both hands. ‘Then give me the cutter. Tell me which one to cut. You’re sure you got it right, then we’ll both live, but if you’ve got it wrong, then there’s no reason we should both die.’
Ignoring the multitudes listening in on their radios, he said, ‘Without you, it would be a fate worse than death.’
She stifled her sob.
So did Kearns, and Yamamoto and Martin and Knight and Lane and Taylor and Mrs. Lee.
It was a dilemma for Lane. How the hell do I tell him it’s against protocol? He just thought fuck that, sometimes you just have to be a human being first before you’re a cop.
The timer said 1:15:20. Plenty of time, but why prolong the agony?
‘Are you ready for this?’ he asked her again.
She nodded, ‘I am, and I trust you.’ It brought a smile to his face.
He looked down at the two canines, their daughters, and companions, issued a stern command, ‘Go.’ They wouldn’t. ‘OK then,’ he said, surrendering to their will.
He hugged her firmly to his chest, one ear next to his heart. ‘Listen to my heartbeat,’ he said. He slowed his breathing down. Bianca closed her eyes and listened. All she could hear now was the rhythmic double beats of his heart.
Yamamoto stood up from her chair, removed her earphones, turned to Lane and tearfully said, ‘Boss, I can’t do this.’ Like a father bird who gathered his chick under his wings, Lane enveloped the youngest- ever recruit of NYSP Bomb Squad Unit in his arms. She cried quietly into his shirt.
In the silence, they heard Bianca say to Steel, ‘Whatever happens, we have eternity written in our hearts.’
He replied, ‘To Eternity.’
They stood fused together for a while, just a couple of lovers slow dancing to an inaudible music, and then…
Steel snipped the wire.