Liana’s no stranger to creeps. She knows she shouldn’t be used to them, and it’s not comfortable when people who recognize her from her work try to flirt with her. It wasn’t fun before she was in a serious relationship, and it’s especially uncomfortable now. But their bouncer can usually take care of anyone who gets too weird about her and the other ladies at work, and she doesn’t carry pepper spray in her purse for nothing.
But somehow the guy following her around the grocery store at a distance seems… Different. Maybe it’s the oddly tinted sunglasses he’s wearing or the white gloves or the fact that there’s a stain of something brownish that Liana really hopes isn’t dried blood on his shirt, but he’s really freaking her out. He doesn’t seem to be buying anything, either.
By the time she checks out, she’s positive he’s following her, and she pulls the pepper spray out of her bag and holds it just in case as she walks to her car. Hardly daring to breathe, she waits for the guy to grab her shoulder or something-creeps usually go for the wrist, though-and tell her that he saw her working last night. But it doesn’t come. She keeps holding her breath as she puts her groceries away, then lets out a little gasp as she closes the door to the backseat just in time to see two huge guys behind her in the reflection of her side door mirror.
Then a massive hand clamps around her nose and mouth, and Liana sees stars as she’s dragged backwards.
“So, just to reiterate, you don’t know who Scandal Savage is?” The man says. He’s wearing a poorly fitted suit and big black gloves. He probably thinks he looks smooth.
Liana blinks slowly and sticks out her lower lip just a tiny bit. She wouldn’t consider herself the best liar, but… She’s pretty sure they didn’t do anything to her phone, just took both of her pepper sprays and her new cat-shaped knuckle duster. “I’ve never heard that name before in my life, mister. I think I’d remember it if I had.”
The man smiles. It’s not a very pleasant smile. He looks kind of like a dead fish, with his pasty-pale skin and somewhat bulging eyes. He’s not the one who grabbed her (his hands aren’t big enough and he doesn’t look strong enough at all) or the one who followed her. “My men tell me you’ve been in correspondence with her for quite some time. She’s been seen coming in and out of your workplace several times.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.” It’s not hard to pretend to be genuinely scared. There’s an anxiety attack threatening to arrive at any second, and the tightness of the handcuffs around her wrist is reminding her painfully of the last time someone took her and tied her up. But she has to stay calm. She has to. “Lots of people see me at work. I don’t remember everyone. I don’t even know their names, most of the time.”
The man is starting to look frustrated. Liana’s pretty sure he’s new at this and was expecting her to immediately drop everything and say something like “Oh, yes, of course I know Scandal Savage, let me just tell you everything about my wife’s criminal operations.” Not that this guy seems to know they’re married. Not that most people know they’re married. “Look, just tell us what we need to know, and we’ll let you go, Ms. Kerzner.”
“I already told you! I don’t know anything about anyone named ‘Scandal Savage.’ There’s a girl who used to work with me who called herself ‘Scandal’, but that’s it.” Liana shrugs a bit. The thick ropes (they’re the kind you see used to make rope swings, not the thin plastic-y stuff) around her legs creak as she leans forward as much as she’s able to like she’s trying to be earnest as she tests the strength of her bindings. “I’d tell you if I knew something. Honest.”
The man scowls and stands. He’s probably only about as tall as she is. It’s not a very comforting thought, not while she’s tied up the way she is. Helpless. Suddenly, Liana imagines what will happen to her if they don’t get there in time, which she’s been really trying not to do. “Well, in that case, I’m afraid we’ll just have to-”
He stops when there’s a dull thumping sound and a cut-off shriek from just outside the door. Liana’s heart skips a few beats. She wishes her hands were responding enough for her to cross her fingers and pray that her beautiful girls have arrived.
He turns around to look at the wood door, which creaks ominously for a second before abruptly splintering inwards with a bang that fills the tiny room. The razor-sharp blades at Scandal’s wrists gleam under the artificial light, blood dripping off them onto the floor. Her brown eyes are narrowed dangerously. Just behind her, Kay crosses her arms, and the man takes a step back at the sight of her massive muscles.
“Hey, genius,” Liana says, trying to sound smug even though her voice has finally started to shake. The man doesn’t turn around, but she hears him inhale sharply in the dead silence of the room. Good. He deserves to be afraid of them. “You forgot to break my phone.”
Her wives rush forward, Scandal easily slicing the ropes around her while Kay lifts the man by the front of his shirt with ease. “Keys to the cuffs,” she growls, shaking him for good measure. She’s holding herself back. She could snap him in two if she wanted to. Liana accidentally imagines that and flinches a tiny bit. “Now.”
He gestures helplessly to one of his pockets, and Kay fishes the keys to the cuffs out, tossing them to Scandal, who unlocks Liana’s wrists and ankles. Liana closes her eyes as Scandal gently presses their foreheads together, keeping them closed as the man screams from beside her, the sound stopped as Kay flings him into the wall.
They won’t kill them, not while she’s here. But she doesn’t want to open her eyes. Hands lift her from the chair, and Kay cradles her carefully against her chest. There’s the soft click of Scandal’s blades being stowed away, then hand gently touching Liana’s face.
“Are you alright, pet?” Scandal asks softly. “These idiotic amateurs didn’t hurt you, did they?” The tone of her voice said exactly what she was going to do to them if Liana said yes. What she had already done to some of them.
“Not really,” Liana replies. Her voice sounds thin and quiet. Kay squeezes her a little. “My wrists kind of hurt.” And I can’t stop thinking about when he took me and when he burnt my eyes and when you had to save me last time. “But that’s all. I want to go home.” Her voice cracks and she winces. Scandal and Kay must be upset to have to drop everything and rescue her. They’re… They’re whoever they are. They don’t have the time to deal with this stuff.
“Let me just finish business here, and we’ll take you home,” Scandal promises. She strokes Liana’s hair. Liana doesn’t open her eyes. “We can watch that movie you like. Anything you want. We’re sorry we weren’t there. We’re sorry we didn’t get here sooner.”
Liana squeezes her eyes shut tighter and buries her face in Kay’s shoulder. Moving is making her feel kind of dizzy even though she can’t see, and she tries to take some deep breaths. Scandal and Kay are here. It’s okay now. It’s okay now.
Scandal kisses Liana’s fingertips, and Liana sighs. Kay moves closer from behind her. Usually, Scandal’s in the middle. Sometimes Kay, when it’s especially cold outside, since she gives off heat like a cuddly furnace. Liana’s only ever in the middle when something bad happens. When they feel like they need to protect her. Selfishly, Liana kind of likes it. She likes being protected. Taken care of.
“I’m sorry,” she says finally. “I thought someone was following me and I didn’t call you. I should have. I thought he was just some creep from work, or something, and then when they took me-I didn’t even try to escape. I just waited for you. You said they were amateurs-”
“They weren’t harmless. They could have-would have-killed you. They were amateurs because they thought they could get a bigger seat at the table by getting rid of me. They were amateurs because they tried to take someone I cared about,” Scandal says, voice hard. Kay makes a sound and Scandal amends herself. “Someone we care about. We won’t fail you again.”
“You didn’t fail me!” Liana stares at her. “You could never-I love you. I love both of you so much. I was just… Scared. You didn’t fail me. Neither of you could ever fail me.” Scandal almost looks like she might argue, and Liana pushes herself up on shaky arms. “Not ever, okay?”
Scandal nods. “We understand.” She looks a little thoughtful as Liana lays back down. “Blake will have to buy you another weapon.”
Liana’s hands are still trembling, a little, and Kay wraps her arms around her to hold them, kissing the back of her neck. Scandal kisses her forehead, and for a moment Liana lets herself exist in the space between them, in between her lovely wives. Warm.
“We’ll always keep you safe,” Kay promises, and Liana closes her eyes again as the soft feeling of being surrounded by the people she loves pushes the thought of pain and fear far away from her mind. She’s safe. Her wonderful wives are here, and they’ll always be there for her, and she loves them more than anything in the world.
Scandal once said that she couldn’t live without either of them, and Liana hopes she knows that she feels the exact same way about the two of them.