Stalked Part Six

Sam came to first with a throbbing headache. "Ainsley," he said in a gravelly tone. "Ainsley?" He struggled to reach her but realized he couldn't. He was secured to a chair in her loft bedroom. "For God's sake, Ainsley, sweet heart, answer me." Sam took a look around. His first reaction was that they were at her place but that just didn't fit. Just outside her bedroom window there was a street lamp that should have been casting a shadow but the light was evenly distributed. He could see a star scape so he knew it was still night but his instincts told him they were like rats trapped in a maze. Someone was playing mind games with them.

"Sam?" She whispered softly. "What's happening?" She struggled to sit up but was tied hand and foot with silk scarves.

"I'm not sure. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, just dizzy. You?"

"I'll live. Can you move at all?"

"Not really. Sam, I'm scared..."

"Me too. Honey, hush, I hear someone coming."

A new voice sounded from the corner of the room. "Ainsley, good you're awake, Kitten."

Neither Sam nor Ainsley knew who the man was at first. Ainsley tried to listen and place the voice - it was vaguely familiar but she couldn't place it. When she saw his face she gasped. "David?" she said incredulously. "Thank God. I didn't realize you were working the case too! This guy could be back..." Then she clued in. "My God, it was you. All along, the notes, the calls , the gifts, the things you did to Sam, it was YOU?"

"I had to get your attention darling." Ainsley didn't like the crazed look on his face and visibly cringed when he caressed her cheek.

"Keep your hands off her, Asshole," Sam yelled. He was struggling to free his hands. David decided to do something he'd wanted to do ever since he'd seen Sam touch Ainsley all those weeks ago: he slammed his fist into Sam's jaw. Sam winced in pain as David kept on punching. He knew just the right spots to hit to put Sam's lights out without inflicting permanent damage. Several punches later, mercifully, Sam passed out.

"Sam?!!" Ainsley screamed. She panicked when he didn't answer right a way. David leered over her and kissed her neck.

"Don't worry, Kitten," David said, "he'll be fine. He'll get the message when he sees what I have planned for us."

Ainsley pulled at the bonds at her wrists. "Please David, I'm sure you never wanted to hurt anyone. Just, set me free and you can leave. I'll take care of Sam and . . ."

"After I went to all this trouble? No darling," his voice was crazed. "It's time Sam Seaborn learned you belong to me."

Ainsley decided to appear to play along. "David, now, Sam's not too bright sometimes. Maybe you'd better untie me. I can convince him, that, well..."

"NO!" David screeched at her. He caressed her face. "He has to see to believe it."

Ainsley fought to control her tears. She had to stay calm. She was their only chance. Where the hell was the cavalry when you needed them? Weren't the Secret Service supposed to be monitoring the signal too? Not just following them? Couldn't they see what was going on?

David must have read her mind. "The two friends that Seaborn had watching you aren't going to come bail him out now, Kitten." David shattered her hopes. "They won't bother anyone ever again."

She nearly lost it. She took a deep breath. "Ainsley, come on it's up to you. You've got to stay calm. There's got to be some way out of this." She pulled at her wrists again. She knew, ironically from the class David taught that she couldn't allow herself to be so vulnerable. "David, please, these are so tight." She whispered softly. "I need you to loosen them a bit."

"I'm sorry Kitten," he said simply. "But I can't do that till you promise you'll forget all about Sam Seaborn. Let's pretend he isn't even here."

"Who isn't here?" She winked. "I promise." she managed to lie convincingly.

"There's a girl." He replied. He set her free and pulled her into a sitting position. "See what I brought you?" He nodded toward the dress and mannequin.

Ainsley gulped. "It's..." she wanted to say hideous when she saw the bridal gown. She gulped again. "Is that for me?" She had to keep playing along.

"Try it on." His tone made it clear this was not a request.

Ainsley wanted to vomit. "NOW? Of course now. Silly me." She replied instead. "David, I need to warn you though, I may take a while to change - especially into a complicated gown like this." She decided to try to buy herself and Sam some time. It worked.

"Ainsley, Kitten, relax." David's voice was full of love and understanding. She could tell that in whatever world he was living in, he was being the perfect 'husband'. She had to stifle the urge to panic. "The ceremony isn't scheduled to start for an hour. You have lots of time."

She forced a smile. No, she didn't have lots of time. By her guess, she had less than an hour. "Ceremony? David, I'm not sure I know what you mean." Time, she thought, I have to stall for time. She paused. "We haven't even had a real date yet, marriage is a huge under taking."

"Kitten," David said almost mystically, "we've been everywhere together. We've been to fund raisers, to the zoo, to dinner lots of times..."

"I see your point." David had probably been everywhere she'd been with Sam for weeks. She glanced over to Sam who seemed to be coming around. Thank God. "David," she was struggling to think on her feet, "can we finish this conversation tomorrow? I think I'd feel better if we talked tomorrow. We could get together at lunch time. I have to be at the White House at 8 am and Sam even before . . ."

"Forget Sam!!" He roared.

Ainsley took a step to block his path so David couldn't take another swing at Sam's helpless form. Ainsley ached to doctor the bruises which had formed on his face, one eye in particular looked badly swollen. She was worried that David would hurt him even worse. "David, on second thought, would you be an angel and get me a glass of ice water while I put on that beautiful gown." She had to stall. This was like her worst nightmare coming true. She had to protect Sam.

At her submissive behaviour his anger vanished. "Of course Kitten, I'll get it." David walked past Sam as if he weren't even there.

"Ainsley?" Sam said weakly. "Run dammit. Save your..."

"Sh. My God, Sam, please, please, pretend you're still out. He's watching, I can't help with the ropes just yet. Please, please play along.? She whispered very quietly. As much as it broke her heart to leave his side, she walked over to the gown and fumbled with the openings to remove it from the mannequin. She tried to stop her fingers from shaking, she had to appear confident. As much herself as possible. Well, no, as much the person David imagined her to be as possible. He came up behind her.

"Here we are Kitten," he said in that sickeningly sweet voice.

Ainsley accepted the glass and took a sip hoping the water would calm her nerves. When she finished she said, "David, would you help me with this. These buttons are so tiny and I'm just so..."

"Excited," he finished her sentence for her.

Her mind replied 'revolted' but she kept her cool. He lifted the gown from the mannequin and passed it to her. "David, turn your back." She tried giggling but wasn't entirely successful. Sam pulled at the ropes wanting more than anything to reach her. Sam knew that this drama was just building up to her ultimate rape and his murder. He had to stop this nut. And he had to do it soon.

David heard the movement. In a rage he crossed the room and slapped Sam so hard the chair tipped over. Ainsley screamed. "David, please, I need you. I've got the gown on. You said it yourself - please, I need your help getting ready David!" Giving Sam one more kick he crossed the room. As before David went from violence to docility in a matter of seconds.

"David," Ainsley struggled to keep her voice calm. "Isn't it time for the ceremony to start? I can't wait to see what else you planned for us." She used her sweetest Southern drawl.

"That's more like it." David turned. He'd flipped to docility again as if she'd thrown a switch. He seemed to explode when she defied him but once she resumed a subservient role, he was peaches and cream. "Have some more water honey, your throat still sounds dry." She finished the glass and passed it back meekly. David's ever changing behaviour was getting easier to predict and it proved what they both had suspected about the stalker: the guy was nuttier than pecan pie.

David blabbed non stop. He rambled about his future life with Ainsley. He talked about buying an old stone house in the country with lots of room for dogs and horses and of course for the five or six kids he expected would happen along. Ainsley kept him talking. She asked him about his favourite colours so she could think about decorating that farm house. After all they'd need everything: dishes, linen, curtain, why just about everything.

The skin on Sam's wrists was raw from struggling against the nylon cord. He couldn't believe Ainsley was able to keep this guy so distracted. Usually Ainsley chatted non stop but she was letting this guy do all the talking. He could tell she was running out of ideas. She was going to have to appear in that damn dress sooner or later. The Sonovabitch had also proven repeatedly he wasn't stupid. Sam tried to check out their surroundings from his vantage point on the knocked over chair. It looked like they were at her place. He glanced at the shoe tree rack beside him. This afternoon she decided to leave her tennis shoes at his place. He'd watched her put them in the closet. So why were they on the rack? That sealed it - they definitely weren't in Kansas anymore.

Ainsley was surprised when the dizziness returned. She felt her knees weaken.

David smiled at her. "I love being the only man who can make you swoon, Kitten," he said like he was her knight in shining armour. He lifted her and carried her to the bed once again securing her hands to the headboard. He didn't bother with her feet this time. "The water, oh God, why did I drink the damn water?" Her head continued to spin and she thought she could hear David's voice in the distance but she couldn't make out the words.

Sam could. And he didn't like the gist of what he was hearing. The guy was pledging to love honor and cherish Ainsley til death. And Sam had a feeling that event was scheduled for the not so distance future. Sam had to stop this. NOW!

"Look Asshole," Sam yelled hoping it would distract him. "I take it that's the only way you can get anywhere near a bed with a woman."

That distracted David all right. "This is all your fault Seaborn." David railed at Sam. "You did this to her. You turned her against me. If it weren't for you she would never been reluctant like this."

"You're real sure of yourself aren't you David? Seeing as you never had the guts to ask her out! Let me guess: you were afraid she'd give you the brush off." By now Sam had almost worked his hands free. Just a few more minutes...

David stalked across the room ready to kill Sam with his bare hands.

Sam almost had the knot. "If I can just get this, I should be able to take him. Please God, I just need a few more seconds."

Ainsley began begging for help. "Please, please, not like this. Please, God please, I need to know the man I love is all right. Stop this please." Every fibre of her being wanted Sam. She struggled against the restraints but her limbs wouldn't obey her foggy brain. "Somebody please stop this!"

Again, David turned at her voice. "Ainsley Kitten, Sam has to see us make love for the first time, he has to see you belong to me. You understand don't you?" His response to Ainsley was predictable. It was as if there were three separate realities in David's life. In one, David was trying to kill Sam Seaborn and kept getting interrupted. In the second, David was having a romantic honeymoon with his beloved Ainsley. Sam just hoped that David wouldn't return to the third reality until Sam could free himself and Ainsley. If David did return to Sam's reality before Sam was free then Sam and Ainsley would be dead. David sat down on the bed again and began caressing her gently. "It's all right darling, you don't have to be afraid any more. I'm here." David brushed the tears from her face. "I'm going to show you just how much I love you Kitten. The man you love is right..."

Sam finally had use of his arms and dove for David. Both men tumbled to the floor. Sam smashed David's head against the bedframe. David, caught of guard, took several seconds to respond. David's fist slammed into Sam's gut. Sam coiled over but managed to grab David and again slam his head into the bedframe. David slumped against it.

Sam climbed up and tried to untie Ainsley's arms. Neither Sam nor Ainsley noticed as David slid under the bed. Sam managed to free one wrist when Ainsley screamed "Sam, Look..." then the bedside lamp connected with Sam's skull. Ainsley tried to roll away from an enraged David. She had to reach her bedside table. Her gun. Her last hope.

David's vision was blurry from the repeated blows to his head. Ainsley kicked at his groin. The long full skirt absorbed much of the blow but she did connect enough to weaken him. Ainsley reached into the drawer enough to wrap her fingers around the barrel end.

"BITCH!!" David screamed realizing what she was trying to do. He slapped her. She winced in pain but managed to keep her fingers on the barrel of the weapon. Sam groaned and tried to knock David off balance but the back of his head was covered in blood. Sam succeeded enough that Ainsley managed to grab the weapon. Using the butt end she slammed it with all her might into Sonovabitch's skull. He fell to the floor with blood oozing from his forehead.

Ainsley worked her other wrist free. She had to help Sam. "Sam, please Sam, answer me. We have to get out of here. Sam!?!"

"I'll be okay." he whispered. "Babe, who is this guy?"

"I'll fill you in later. I think he's down for the count. I hit him with the end of this." She had the gun.

Sam sighed in relief. "Still, we have to get out of here, get help."

Ainsley wrapped Sam's arm around her neck and helped him stand. Leaning on her, they made their way to the living area. He nearly fell down the small flight of stairs but she managed to keep him balanced. She eased him onto her couch and tried calling 911. "No dial tone." Ainsley was confused.

"Ainsley, none of this is what it looks like. We're not at your place." Sam said very weakly. He obviously needed a doctor. "Honey, leave me and get help."

"I'm not leaving you. Sam, I think I'd know my own apartment."

"Ainsley," his voice was weak, "you're supposed to think that. But little things like the view. In all the time we've been here, it hasn't changed. It should be daylight by now. Look, a star scape. And they haven't moved. Look at the duct work. You said you painted it to match the ceiling - it's shiny. Look harder."

He was right. Why hadn't she noticed? She was thinking out loud. "We have to be inside a bigger building. He's faked all this too." Ainsley was feeling more like herself. She reached down to help Sam walk again.

"Ainsley, listen to me. I think... he broke a rib. You said it yourself - he's down for the count."

"I'm not leaving you." She was in tears. She couldn't leave him like this. What if David did come to?

"I'll be okay. Hurry."

She tore a sleeve off the dress and applied pressure to the worst gash on his head. "I have to stop the bleeding."

He pushed her hands away. "Go, I'll be okay, just... I love you. GO."

She nodded but set the gun down on the couch beside him. She reached the false door of the apartment when Greer appeared at the top of the stairs. "Sam!!" She screamed.

Sam grabbed the gun, stood weakly and took aim. David found that funny. "Go ahead Seaborn, you won't do it." David took another step toward Sam. "Your kind doesn't even know what to do with a..."

Sam fired. David's reflexes brought his hand to the chest wound and he looked down at his hands. He fell to his knees and then head over heals to land in a clump at the foot of the stairs. David seemed amused by the whole situation. He looked first at Ainsley then at Sam. He started to crawl toward her. Ainsley ran to Sam's side. For his part Sam stood there stunned then reached for her. He gathered Ainsley up against him and held her tight. David Greer gasped, "Why, Kitten, why?" Those were his last words.

The SWAT team kicked down the door. Detective O'Connor took in the scene before him. "You're a little late, guys!" Sam squeaked out as the detective removed the weapon from Sam's hand.

"We traced you to the building and then followed the shot to find you." He placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. "The paramedics are here, Mr. Seaborn. They'll want to check you both out." A medic asked each of them to lie on a stretcher.

"No, " Ainsley said cryptically. She was still supporting some of Sam's weight. She turned to face him, keeping her arm around his waist. "It's time to walk away from all this." She was still in shock but he understood what she was saying.

"Damn straight." he replied. The medic smiled and helped them walk outside to a nearby ambulance. They saw Greer's body being loaded into another. Ainsley rested her head on his shoulder. He kissed the top of her head.

"It's really over now." She said distantly.

"Yeah." He replied simply. "Now we get our lives back." He kissed the top of her head.

\-\

A few weeks later Sam and Ainsley were stretched out on deck chairs at the President's summer cottage. The Bartlett's had insisted they take some time off alone together and the First Family's cottage had been perfect. It was secluded, the press had pursued them relentlessly despite CJ's best efforts. Sam had enjoyed teaching the basics of sailing on the quiet lake. Ainsley loved it. It was the perfect blend of physical exercise and inactivity. Fishing however, was not her cup of tea. She was reading a book while he focussed on the fish.

"Pass me the tackle box," Sam called to her casually.

Ainsley shrugged. "Sam, you checked the line when I went in to get the iced tea five minutes ago."

"Just pass me the tackle box okay." He commanded. He'd promised her a fresh fish dinner but she had a feeling they'd be having burgers from the cottage freezer. He fumbled in the box for a second. She chuckled and shook her head. She turned back to her book.

"SHIT," he barked as he fell off the end of the dock.

She burst out laughing. "Samuel Norman Seaborn - you really are a clutz you know that. I'll get the burgers out - they'll need to defrost."

"Yeah, you better. I scared away the fish. Give me a hand, will you?" She reached out to him to pull him up and he tugged on her. In she went. She came up sputtering. "Ainsley, as long as your wet anyway, help me find your engagement ring..."

" My what?" she asked not quite sure she'd heard him correctly. He dove under without responding.

"Your engagement ring. I put it in the damn tackle box this morning. I wanted to give it to you last night but I lost my nerve." He was treading water as he spoke.

"You didn't lose your nerve Sam, you got distracted..." She giggled. They'd made love under the stars last night after sharing a bottle of champagne on the beach. She had been sure he was going to pop the question then but he hadn't. In fairness, it had been the most romantic evening they'd ever shared.

"Dive woman," he said and they both went under. They saw the glitter simultaneously and reached for it together. They came up kissing and swam to the ladder. Ainsley hadn't expected Sam to be off beat or funny when he proposed. After all, there were times when he needed her help to find the funny. But it seemed fitting somehow that he'd be a bit of a clutz. It was one of the things she found most endearing about him.

He took a deep breath, "Well. I'm not distracted now. Ainsley Hayes, would you please do me the great honour of agreeing to be my wife?"

"Sam!" She was all misty eyed. "OH Sam." If he'd been trying to catch her off guard and speechless he'd succeeded. "Sam!!"

"Ainsley, please say something, anything. Other than my name.

"YES!!!"

Sam slid the ring onto her finger. He pulled her to her feet then they walked arm in arm back to the cottage where they got distracted... for the rest of the day (and night).

 

 

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