Straight From the Hip

By: Susan Mallery

CHAPTER ONE



IN THE MOVIES there was always a warning before something bad happened. Music swelled, the good guy promised everything would be fine now or the camera suddenly went into slow motion.

Life wasn’t so tidy.Izzy Titan sat in the window seat, as she had every day for the past month, staring out at a blurry world and feeling sorry for herself. While it wasn’t a career choice everyone would make, it filled the day. She ignored her sisters’ pleas that she join them for lunch or shopping or even come downstairs to dinner. Like a regular person. When it got too annoying, she pointed out she wasn’t regular anymore—she was handicapped. If that didn’t work, she slammed the door and locked it until they went away. She’d always given everything she had, so she was ready to become the self-pity queen, if necessary.

Finally her sisters stopped bugging her. Which should have been a really big clue.

There wasn’t any warning. One minute she was sitting in her usual spot, the next, someone grabbed her around the waist, pulled her to her feet, then tossed her over a very broad, very hard shoulder.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she yelled as blood rushed to her head, making her a little dizzy.

“My job. Go ahead and fight me all you want. You can’t hurt me.”

It was a challenge she couldn’t ignore. But when she tried to kick her attacker, he wrapped one arm around her legs, holding her still. Wiggling didn’t help either. The man had muscles like rock and a month of immobilizing self-pity had left her girlishly weak.

“I swear,” she began, as the guy turned and started walking. “Do you know who I am?”

“Izzy Titan. Hey, Skye.”

Hey, Skye?

Izzy raised her head and tried to make the room focus. Unfortunately it was dark and blurry and she couldn’t see any details.

“Skye?” she yelled. “Are you there?”

“Oh, Izzy.” Her sister sounded concerned, but not worried. Not afraid. “We didn’t know what else to do.”

“We?”

“I’m here, too,” Lexi, her other sister, said. “This is for your own good.”

“Having me kidnapped?”

“Nick comes very highly recommended. You told us that your doctors wanted to put you on an antidepressant, which you wouldn’t agree to. This is better.”

“What?”

“You wouldn’t leave your room or talk to us. It’s been a month, Izzy.”

“You’re having me kidnapped because I wouldn’t go shopping with you? Are you insane?”

They moved into the hallway. She could tell because the room got darker and her fingers brushed against the walls. Then they were going down, down, down into more darkness.

Each step jarred her entire body. If she’d had that lunch her sisters were so hysterical about she would be throwing it up, right about now.

“I’m not kidding,” she yelled. “Stop this right now. All of you. Nick, I don’t care what my sisters said, I didn’t agree to this. Put me down or I swear I’ll throw your ass in jail for so long, you’ll actually learn to enjoy being Bubba’s love slave.”

“You signed a release,” rock-guy said calmly, still moving through the house.

“What?”

“You signed a release. I’ve got it here in my pocket.”

Izzy wanted to scream in frustration as she remembered Skye asking her to sign a few checks so her sister could pay Izzy’s bills. “She tricked me. I’m blind! I didn’t know what I was signing.”

They went outside. She saw the blurry outline of trees and the welcome light and heat of the sun.

“You shouldn’t sign what you can’t read,” Nick told her.

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