“Chad, it was quite a scene earlier.” The reporter pointed to both ends of the street as the camera panned. “The cops had the roads blocked off where, yet another attempt was made on Kieran Luthor’s life. Unfortunately, the man that shot her evaded the police. As we know, this is the fourth attempt on the Academy Award winning actress’s life in the past three months. She’d been receiving death threats for the past year, but no evidence was left on the envelopes. Currently, we don’t know Ms. Luthor’s condition. Only that she was transported to National City hospital. From what witnesses have told us she was alive when the ambulance pulled out but that there was a lot of blood.”
“Thank you so much, Heather. Now back to---”
Kieran flicked the television off and would have threw the remote if it hadn’t been attached to the bed. The door opened a moment later and Detective Sawyer poked her head in. She was beautiful, but she was tired of seeing the detective’s face.
“Is this a good time?”
She rolled her eyes. “Would it matter if it wasn’t a good time?” She rolled her shoulder only to hiss when pain shot through her shoulder and up her neck. For only a nick, it hurt like hell and had bled something fierce.
When the letters started arriving, she hadn’t thought much about them. People sent shit letters all the time, but over the weeks, they had progressively gotten worse. I’ll kill you in your sleep, blah, blah, blah. It had only irked her at first, but when the first attempt was made on her life, it had just pissed her off, more than scaring her. How dare some deranged fan try and kill her. She’d upped her security per her manager’s instance, but even they couldn’t prevent the next two attacks. Now, with being shot, she wasn’t sure what Detective Sawyer would suggest.
Sawyer sat in the chair beside her hospital bed. “Honestly, no, it wouldn’t. Things have escalated.”
The detective licked her lips. “There’s more.”
Kieran held her eyes and her stomach dropped. “Tell me.”
“Your home was broken into before the attack on you.” She shook her head. “It was trashed. All the mirrors were broken, furniture overturned. You name it and it was probably done. We have CSI going over the scene, and we can only hope that he fucked up this time.”
“My cat,” Kieran ground out.
“Fine. Fluffy is fine. I had a deputy take her to the vet to make sure. He called before I came here and said she checked out fine.”
Kieran relaxed back into the bed. She loved her home, but the only thing that mattered to her was her cat. Fluffy was a Sphynx and she’d had her for past six years and was her constant companion. It would break her if the men after her tried to kill her cat. “Why are you here? You obviously don’t have any good news for me.”
“Your life is in terrible danger. For now, I would like you to go into protective custody.”
“What?” Kieran turned to give the detective her full attention. “You’ve had months to solve this and nothing. What makes you think me going into protective custody will make much of a difference?” What an idiotic idea.
“We’re hoping it will flush him,” she paused, “or her out. When they can’t find you, we’re hoping they’ll mess up.”
“This whole department is a joke. No, find another way.” Kieran flicked her
fingers in the detective’s direction.
“There isn’t another way. This is your life we’re talking about. Help me here.”
When the door shut, she closed her eyes. This was a nightmare. A nap was definitely in order. At least she wasn’t dead, how much worse could it get.
The next time she opened her eyes the room was dark, except for a sliver of light peeking through the curtain. A glance at the clock on the wall showed she’d been asleep for a little over four hours. After using the bathroom and turning up the lights, she relaxed back on the bed.
The doctor had told her earlier that she would be staying the night and she would have to make the best of it. She hadn’t heard from Jess, her personal assistant all day. She hoped everything was okay. She looked around for her phone when her door opened, and the detective walked in followed by another woman.
The woman had on blue jeans, cowboy boots and a plaid button down. Kieran could see a white undershirt peeking through the top of the over shirt. On her head was a baseball cap. Long blond hair peeked out through the hole in the back. She was beautiful. Not even the black glasses on her face could hide that fact. But she looked just as happy to be there as Kieran was to have her there.
The detective threw a paper on the bed. “Congratulation’s. You’re dead.”
“What?” Kieran upfolded the paper and as the words appeared, her heart rate increased. No. No. No.
Academy Award winning actress Kieran Luthor was shot and killed earlier today by her stalker.
Underneath the caption was a rather flattering picture from her shot with Annie Leibowitz. Her accomplishments printed under that. Then a few quotes from notable celebrities. Huh. Meryl Streep even spoke out about her death. She’d always been a fan of Meryl’s and now it looked like Meryl had been a fan of hers. If she wasn’t dead she would have sent her a nice bouquet.
“Kieran, you didn’t give me a choice,” the detective said.
This was a nightmare. She crumpled the paper in her hands. There was no going back from this now. Nope. Now, she was dead, and she had really been looking forward to her role on that Superhero show. Even if it was only for three episodes. “So, how long am I supposed to stay dead?” At least now she would get to see what all her so-called friends thought of her. Bloody bastards better speak well of her.
“As long as it takes. We’ve got some leads. We’re hoping when your memorial for the public happens it will draw them out.”
“And when is that?” It better be televised. She would enjoy watching who showed up. At least she didn’t have any family that would greive her. Her father and brother were dead and her mother, well, she was dead to her. She only felt a bit of unease of what her fans were going through. They loved her and she loved them. Hopefully, in the wake of her death, they were taking proper care of themselves. She would make it up to them somehow when she came back to life.
“A month from today.”
Great. She folded the paper and laid it on her tray. “A month. What am I supposed to do until then? I’m sure you have it all figured out.” Her eyes strained to the other occupant of the room.
“I have. We are the only three people that will know your whereabouts. This is a good friend of mine. Kara.” Sawyer waved her over. “Kara Danvers, Kieran Luthor. You’ll be staying with Kara for the foreseeable future.”
Kieran eyed Sawyer than Kara. From the looks of her it looked like she lived on a ranch. That she could do. She loved horses and hot weather didn’t bother her. “Where is your ranch located?”
Kara grimaced. “I don’t live on a ranch.”
Huh. What was with the getup then? “Where do you live?”
“In Montana,” Kara answered.
“Montana, but not on a ranch?”
“Nope.” Kara rocked back on her heels.
The way her p popped, Kieran wanted to smack her. “Does someone care to fill me in?”
“I have a homestead in Montana, but not a ranch. It’s fully self-reliant.”
“Self-reliant. Like the Alaska bush people?”
Kara scrunched her nose up. “Sort of, but more real.” She waved her hands in the air. “You know. Not fake.”
What. A. Nightmare. She wasn’t a snob, but this was horrible. Better to be in the middle of nowhere dead, then in the midst of the people she guessed. “Well, I at least hope the pathway to the outhouse is lit.”
Kara blinked at her. “Technically, there is an outhouse on the property, but I usually just use the bathroom. But, if you want, I can make the outhouse functional for you? I may even be able to acquire running water, but hot water will probably be pushing it.” She deadpanned.
Oh. A smartass. This was going to be wonderful.
“I promise.” Sawyer said. “Kara’s place is wonderful.”
“When was the last time you where there?”
“Yes, Maggie,” Kara said, grin firmly on her lips. “When was the last time you where there?”
So, her first name was Maggie. It suited her. She should have known that. Shouldn’t she?
“Okay. It’s been a while, but I’ve seen pictures. It’s beautiful.”
Speaking of pictures. “Where’s my phone?”
“Confiscated. It’s evidence.”
“You can’t be serious. My whole life is on that phone.”
Maggie shrugged. “It is what it is.” She clapped her hands. “Now. I’ve got everything planned. Fluffy is already at Kara’s hotel and you’ll be staying with her tonight, then first thing tomorrow you’ll be heading to Montana. It’ll only take a couple of days to get there. Now, make sure Kara does all the talking, but to make things easier a change of appearance is in order.”
“No.” Good grief. Two days in the car with Kara. And she loved the way she looked.
Maggie smiled and dug through the bag she’d brought. “I think black should do it.”
“You want me to dye my hair black?” She’d been blonde all her life and never even thought to change it.
“Yes, and you’ll have no need for contacts for the next few months. Just use your glasses. I took them from your house. I’ll make sure everything in your house is put into storage.”
“For what it matters, I think you’ll look amazing with dark hair,” Kara threw in.
“It doesn’t matter,” Kieran said. “What happens now?” she directed her question to Maggie.
“Now, we’ll dye your hair then get you out of here.”
“What about all the reporters?” Seemed the detective had everything in order which made her feel a bit better about this situation.
“That won’t be a problem,” Maggie said. “They left when the hearse carrying your body left. It has already been taken to the crematorium.”
That was fast. She must have died quickly? “What about an autopsy?”
“Already taken care of. Your name has been a constant in the papers for the last year. You’re autopsy was rushed through.”
“Who’s in the hearse?” She was almost afraid to ask.
Maggie sighed. “A nobody. Well, according to the public, a nobody. A homeless woman that no one has claimed. A Jane doe.”
Kieran clamped her mouth shut. Fuck. “When this is all over, I want her ashes to be deposed of properly. A grave site of her own, not one meant for me. I’ll pay for everything.” She paused. “What’s going to happen to my money?” Kara rolled her eyes at the question, but Kieran ignored her.
“Per your will it will go into a trust. After all this is over, it will go back to you.”
Her will. Shit. This was all real. She was dead and about to become another person. “What will be my new name in this new life?” They looked at her dumbfounded. She could always go by Lena, but she hadn’t been Lena for a long time. After she went to live with the Luthor’s they figured a new name for a new start, so they legally changed her first name to her middle name. “You know when I meet other people. At the store. On the street. At a restaurant.” The way Kara looked at Maggie was unsettling.
“Well, see,” Maggie started. “Winter is coming.” Maggie stopped like that explained everything.
Kara shook her head. “What Maggie is trying to say is. With winter coming, we’ll be snowed in for up to three months, maybe more. The forecast for snowfall is said to suppress last year and I was snowed in for close to four months.” She shrugged. “Alex and I were able to visit each other but, not much else.”
Great. A boyfriend. Something else she didn’t want to deal with. “Four months. Just the two of us and maybe Alex?”
“Yep. Alex is my sister.”
Well, sister was better than boyfriend. Maybe. “What about food? Electricity? Heat?”
“I hunt but will stock up on supplies once we hit the state line. There are a few stores I can pick up supplies cheaper. I Have solar panels and a wood stove, but I also rely on natural gas. I have a well, but the water I use is also supplied by the creek by my house. For the winter the well usually gets me through. Last year I purchased a thousand-gallon water tank and set it up in my garage for extra water. In case we can’t access the well water. I promise you’ll be well taken care of. I even have a guest room you can sleep in instead of the couch. I won’t dispute it if you want to sleep on the couch though.”
Was this even real life? She knew people lived like this and was happy, she just never figured she would have to. She wondered how long Maggie had been planning this. “What about television? Internet?”
“I don’t have any use for a t.v. and can only get internet if I travel a few miles to my sister’s place, but that’s really not that often. I have a small library with the classics and a few newer books.”
No internet. “What if we’re in trouble? Do you even have a phone?”
“No offense,” Kara said, straightening to her full height and crossing her arms. “But, I’ve lived there for the past eight years with no problems. I’m doing Maggie a favor. You can either take it or leave it, but I won’t have you questioning the way I live until you’ve at lease saw the place.”
Kieran huffed. She was ashamed to say that bit of passion from Kara defending her home was a bit of a turn on and her muscles flexing didn’t hurt either, but Kara did make a good point. For goodness sake, Kieran had volunteered in Africa and with a tribe in the rain forest she most definitely would survive a few months alone with Kara Danvers.
Even if it killed her.
It’s not like she could die twice.
Kara blew out the breath she’d been holding, juggled the four bags in her arms and opened her hotel room door. As she shut the door behind her, she spied Fluffy perched in the middle of the bed.
Kieran had to have a sense of humor to name a hairless cat Fluffy. The cat was cute in an ugly sort of way, but she would never tell Kieran that.
She had seen a couple of shows the actress was in but didn’t really pay much attention to the entertainment industry. She loved where she lived and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Well, maybe one thing. It would be nice to meet someone to settle down with. There had been Mike and Lucy, but both wanted her to change the way she lived, and she just couldn’t do that. She would have been willing to compromise but they didn’t want that.
Kara eyed the cat whose eyes hadn’t left her since she walked in. Kara didn’t lie, she had natural gas and a wood stove, but she didn’t want Fluffy to get cold, so she’d stopped by the pet store and picked her up a few sweaters for her. Now she just had to get one on her. She pulled out the red plaid one and approached the bed.
Fluffy was pretty docile as Kara maneuvered the sweater over her slim frame. She was actually impressed. First by how well Fluffy behaved and how well the sweater fit.
When she stood back to look at her handy work, Fluffy stretched and walked to the edge of the bed and meowed.
“I’m hungry to, but I have to wait for Maggie and Kieran.”
After Kara had taken a few photos she took a can of cat food out of the bag and emptied it into a small dish she’d also picked up. The food Kieran bought Fluffy was expensive and if Kara had to pay for the cat food, they’d have to get something cheaper. She loved her way of life but being frugal was a necessity.
Fluffy didn’t seem to mind the cheaper food and dug in as Kara emptied the rest of the bags.
Per Maggie’s guidelines she’d picked up a few pairs of jeans and t-shirts for Kieran, along with a couple of sweaters, socks and a pair of boots. Kara couldn’t afford a new coat for her, so Kieran would have to use one of hers.
As it was now, she would be pushing her food budget to accommodate two people. She’d went over the specs and she could make it work, but they would have to eat rice and beans probably more then they both would like. Hopefully for both their sakes, Maggie would catch Kieran’s stalker sooner rather than later.
When her parents died fifteen years ago she’d moved in with the Danvers. When she turned eighteen, the land her parents had left her in their will was turned over to her. Close to three hundred acres. For two years, her, Alex, Eliza, and Jeremiah worked the land until her and Alex each had a small homestead they could call theirs. For Christmas that year, she had gifted a shocked Alex the land in which her home was built plus fifty acres and had given Eliza and Jeremiah the option to build on a part of the land as well. They had yet to take her up on their offer, but she knew they were considering it.
Alex worked as a guide in the mountains eight months out of the year, but she loved it when she was able to have those few months to herself to energize. The money she made easily afforded her the ability to live the lifestyle she loved.
Kara, on the other hand, had to work at a few different things to earn a living.
She hunted for her meat and used the hide of the animals to create messenger bags that she sold to a high-end dealer in L.A. For the sale of each of those it netted her close to four hundred dollars. She wasn’t stupid. She knew what they were selling for, but she liked not having to do the selling herself and the dealer she sold them to had an amazing marketing plan. A hundred bags sold could easily net her close to forty thousand dollars, but she was saving most of that because she wanted to expand her homestead to include a large outbuilding where she could try her hand at woodworking and different things. She’d only managed a hundred bags one year, it was usually close to sixty bags, so she also supplemented her income with fishing. She wasn’t fond of eating fish, but she loved to fish and the price she would make from selling the seafood was well worth her time catching and smoking them. She made the most profit from the sale of smoked eel’s.
She picked up her phone and shot a quick text off to Alex. The only thing she’d lied to Kieran about was the internet access. The only place she could pick it up was in a corner of her bedroom, where her computer was set up, but Maggie stressed Kieran didn’t need to know that. It was for her own safety and Kara would make sure she didn’t use it.
Taking Kieran in wasn’t something she was upset about, but it was something she hadn’t expected or planned for. Her and Maggie had been friends for years and Kara didn’t see any reason to turn down her request. She did kind of wonder why Maggie had chosen her and not Alex to keep Kieran company.
When Fluffy was finished, Kara switched out the food bowl for the water bowl and when Fluffy had her fill, she walked back to the center of the bed and fell asleep.
Kara loved pets, but her dog had died last year, and she couldn’t bring herself to adopt another one. Maybe it was time.
With the knock on the door came, Kara took a deep breath. Kieran was a beautiful woman with blonde hair and Kara had a feeling with dark hair, Kieran would take her breath away.
Kara knew after Kieran’s stalker was caught, she would go back to her life and leave Kara and their time together behind. She only had to get through the next few months.
With a last minute internal pep talk Kara opened the door.
Nothing prepared her for the vision before her. Kieran didn’t even look like the same woman.
She ushered them both inside and shut the door. With black hair and glasses she looked like a completely different woman. The jeans and t-shirt made her look more approachable. Oh, shit. She was in trouble.
“Kara,” Maggie said, then pointed to Kieran. “I would like you to meet Lena.”
Lena was a nice name. She looked like a Lena.
Kara had just taken a step forward when Lena’s voice had her stopping in her tracks.
“What the hell did you do to my cat?”