Baring Mia

By: Kallista Dane

The gash on her leg had taken twenty stitches to close, but it was healing nicely. The rest of her cuts and scratches were barely noticeable. Later, she’d go for a swim. For now, she was content to wander aimlessly, stopping to pick up a tiny conch shell or a bit of sea glass that washed up on shore.

Her thoughts drifted back to the night of the explosion. Sam had commandeered a helicopter from one of his faceless friends and landed it on the roof before firemen could battle their way up. He jumped out and ran to them, leaving Slade at the controls, ready to lift off as soon as they were on board.

“Where are Marcus and Riley?” Harmon shouted over the whirr of the blades.

“Hospital,” Sam replied shortly. “They’ll be okay. Marcus took the worst hit. He’s already in surgery. Riley had a broken arm, but he still managed to hoist Marcus over his other shoulder and carry him down the stairs before the medics arrived. Slade and I were in the lobby when the bombs went off, getting ready to go out on the town. We took one look at the damage and decided our best bet would be to come down from the roof to get to you.”

He looked at Harmon’s burns, at Mia’s roughly bandaged leg, still oozing blood. “Looks like I was right. I bet Slade twenty bucks you’d be up here lounging in the pool while we were working our asses off trying to rescue you.”

“Damn straight,” Harmon replied. “After all, I am the boss.” He pushed Sam away when the man tried to take Mia from his arms, insisting on carrying her to the helicopter himself.

They’d both stayed at the hospital overnight. Harmon refused to let the doctors treat his burns until he checked on Marcus and Riley. He came by Mia’s room to give her a report a few hours later, his arms swathed in bandages.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” he assured her when her eyes filled with tears. “These are just to keep that sticky ointment they covered me with from getting all over everything I touch…including you.”

He gathered her into his arms. “The doctors said you’re going to be fine. Your leg will heal, but all those cuts from the glass are going to hurt like hell for a while. Thanks to the new scanner I invented, they were able to tell within minutes that you didn’t suffer any permanent brain damage from the concussion.”

“How are the boys?”

“Marcus is going to be all right. They operated on him as soon as he got here. He’s out of surgery and doing well. He had a ruptured spleen and a collapsed lung from the force of the blast, along with a laundry list of smaller injuries. The doctors said he’d have been much worse off if Riley hadn’t dragged him out of the building right away.

“The first explosion slammed Riley into a concrete wall. He was lucky – walked away with only a broken arm. The doctors set it and put on a cast. He’s upstairs right now ribbing Marcus about being a baby – says he’s been through much worse over the years without even asking for an aspirin. It will be a long time before Riley lets Marcus forget he hauled him down ten flights of stairs with one arm hanging useless at his side.”

Sam arrived the next morning to drive them home from the hospital. He and Slade rode in the front seat of the limo, and Riley climbed in back to sit on the bench seat across from Harmon and Mia. This time the partition stayed down, so they could all talk.

“Where are we going?” Mia asked when the limo turned south.

“Ever since Sam came to me with his concerns about the threats from those religious nuts, I’ve been working on finding a safer place for our lab and offices,” Harmon replied. “I went on that business trip a few months ago to visit sites all over the world that the boys here had picked out as possibilities. But I wanted to keep everyone on our staff with me and, for many of them, moving to some faraway place would have meant leaving their families and friends. And I love being near the ocean. So I bought an island in the Keys.”

“You what?”

“I bought an island. I named it Dream Quest Key. It’s big enough to house a new lab and all our key people. It’s only accessible by boat – or helicopter. But it’s close to Marathon, where our main offices will be located. I bought one of those big box stores that went out of business, too. It’s on the Overseas Highway, not far from Seven Mile Bridge. We’ve already started remodeling it. There’s room to expand and even set up production facilities nearby for the brain scan device we’re going to manufacture. Monroe County welcomed us with open arms. I guess they’re happy to have a business moving in that will provide decent wages, instead of another condo hotel that only employs maids and pool boys.”

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