[ unedited, subject to change. enjoy 🙂 ]
Relax. Relax. Relax.
Naomi silently repeated those words like a mantra until her head, heart, and lungs caught up with each other and obliged that command. This wasn’t the time to freak out. Her freedom depended on not freaking out, so she ignored the throbbing pain in her ankle and went back to work.
As Naomi stepped onto a busier street, lined with the seated patrons of numerous cafes, she mentally thumbed through her list of suitable contingency plans. She needed to get back to her hotel, where she wouldn’t have to worry about standing out, but it wasn’t as simple as just hailing a car. She would have to either make it to a taxi stand, or call for a cab, both of which required waiting, neither of which sounded like desirable options. And that wasn’t even considering that of course the police would be checking cabs leaving the area. She would have to do something else.
Flutters of anxiety rose in Naomi’s belly again as a group of uniformed cops appeared in her path, seemingly out of thin air. She shook her head, frustrated that the sudden turn of events was putting a heavy strain on the skills she prided herself on.
Diligence. Focus. Agility.
That became her new mantra. Despite the overwhelming urge to duck her head, she kept it held high as she passed them, even tossing a slight smile and a wave to a nice-looking officer in the crowd. She was surprised when he sent back a flirtatious smirk of his own, even turning backwards to hold her gaze. Not wanting to draw suspicion, Naomi winked at him before she turned her attention back to the problem at hand.
She’d barely taken two steps when she collided with another pedestrian in her path. Her body went one way, and her foot went the other as she dropped to the ground in a heap. White hot pain shot through her ankle, sending a wave of nausea to settle in her stomach.
Barely, she registered someone speaking American-accented French to her, in a deep tenor.
“Je suis désolé”
When Naomi looked up, she was immediately struck by dark grey eyes, brimming with apology, then compassion he noticed the distress on her face. For a moment, she froze, taking in smooth copper-brown skin and a handsome face surrounded by neatly trimmed facial hair.
“Non, Excusez-moi,” she stammered, fighting against a swell of dizziness as he helped her to her feet, supporting her in his arms.
Naomi shook her head, even though she was still using him as a crutch. She didn’t want his help, she wanted to get the hell off the street before whatever minimal cover she still had was blown.
“Je vais bien.” To prove that she was fine, as she’d so boldly declared, she pushed away from him. “Voir?” Forcing a smile on her face, Naomi put her full weight on her ankle. “Je suis— goddamn it!”
Almost immediately, she buckled to the ground in agony. “I wonder how long I’ll be in a French prison?” was Naomi’s last thought as her head hit the ground and she descended into blackness.