Sammie Wilson

 'A professional writer is an amatuer who didn't quit' - Richard Bach
I didn't quit. 

My Journey - Free Fiction

A Past Life (Based on a true story)

Posted by Sammie on July 7, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Detective Lily Prior studied her nephew from behind the two-way glass. He was only five-years-old with a bright smile and curly blond hair. He was an exceptional talker and even she couldn't deny the life experience behind those soulful blue eyes.


 

His mother had brought him in. Lily's youngest sister of only twenty-three years, she had pleaded with Lily to help them and thanks to Lily's big heart and willingness to believe the unbelievable, she agreed. She didn't expect to hear what little Lachlan had to say though.


 

“When I was a man, someone killed me,” he said in a small voice. “I remember it all.”


 

She glanced at Annabel, whose eyes were wide with fear and worry for her son.


 

“What do you remember?” Lily asked.


 

“I was killed with a knife and I was buried along a trail in the national park. I can show you.” There was no hesitation in his voice and the look on his face was one of such conviction.


 

“How about for now, you draw us some pictures? I'm just going to talk to mummy for a minute, okay?”


 

He nodded while colour coordinating the crayons and lining up A4 paper. “Okay.”


 

That's how they ended up watching him from behind the glass. From here, Lachlan seemed like a normal kid. He was busy drawing, changing from one colour to the next while humming a tune.


 

“How long has this been going on?” Lily asked Annabel.


 

“For a couple of weeks.” Annabel turned to Lily. “We need to let him show us.”


 

Lily's brows furrowed. “Should we be encouraging him Annabel? It's clear he needs some help.”


 

“Yeah he does, he needs your help. He's not mental Lily.”


 

“I'm not saying he is.” But other people will.


 

Lily couldn't take this to her Captain. There was no way he was going to let her use man hours to look for a body on the whim of a child's over-active imagination. She wasn't even sure if she could justify wasting her own time let alone anyone else. But, this was her nephew and it was obvious he believed in what he was saying.


 

“If I do this, it's only to show him that nothing is there.” Lily watched her sister as she absently nodded. “You think this is more than his imagination, don't you?”


 

Annabel's long sigh was answer enough. “I think he's having memories of his past life. You know, like, reincarnation.”


 

“Oh, Annabel,” Lily couldn't believe what she was hearing. “Are you encouraging him?”


 

“No of course not! But I'm not telling him I don't believe him either.”


 

Lily pinched the bridge of her nose. “I can't take this to my Captain. As it is I have four open homicides on my desk.”


 

“I just need you to look.”


 

An hour later, Lily found herself behind the wheel driving toward the Mansfield National Park. She glanced in the review mirror where her nephew was playing with toy aeroplanes, making lift-off noises and acting exactly how she'd expect a five year old to act.


 

As they parked, Lily jumped out and headed for the boot, she grabbed a back pack and handed a shovel to Annabel. “When we show him that there's nothing there, promise me you'll take him to see someone.” Lily said just as Lachlan hopped out of the car.


 

“I promise.”


 

Feeling better, Lily decided to see this as an adventure. It was better to think they were spending some time with each other than about what they were really doing. As they walked past the ranger station and started along the trail, she admired the scents of cedar wood, green moss and the floral notes of spring. Birds were squawking above them and the sun beaming through the trees was a sight to behold. It was hard to believe they were actually on the hunt for a dead man.


 

About two kilometres in, Lily wiped at sweat behind her neck before it ran between her shoulder blades while Annabel had Lachlan on her back, stopping every so often to bounce his weight back up.


 

Finally Lachlan pointed. “There.” He slipped off his mum and ran toward a large fallen tree; beside it was an undisturbed patch of dirt.


 

Taking in turns, Annabel and Lily dug at the earth finding it increasingly difficult to break through the dryness. Grunting with effort, the exhaustion was getting to them both.


 

“This is ridiculous,” Lilly swiped her hand over her forehead. “There's nothing here.”


 

“I'm here Aunt Lily, I am,” Lachlan said, with unwavering conviction.


 

“Sweetie--” Lily kneeled so she could be eye-level. “-- I think this is just all a figment of your imagination, or maybe a dream you think is real?”


 

Just as he was about to answer her Annabel yelped. “Oh. My. God!”


 

Lily glanced over at the sizeable hole they managed to dig, her mouth gaped, and her eyes widened as shock froze her in place. Unearthed, was a complete skull...a human skull.


 

“Shit,” Lily breathed.


 

Recovering from her shock, Lily realised that somewhere, Lachlan had overheard someone talking about this. There was no way he was reincarnated. “Lachlan, you need to tell the truth now.” Her tone hardened. “Who told you about this?”


 

“It's all up here, Aunt Lily.” He pointed to his head. “I can even tell you who done it. I know his name and everything.”


 

Annabel continued to dig up more bones as Lily got out her phone but there was no signal. Luckily, someone was coming. She could hear the crunch of their boots as they stood on sticks and dry leaves. He came into view, an older man of about forty- five, grey streaked hair, hard eyes and sun-damaged skin. He had on dark brown slacks and a light brown, long sleeved shirt with the symbol of the park on the right hand side – the park ranger.


 

Lily was about to wave her hand at him when she felt Lachlan tug on her flannel shirt. “That's him. He's the one that murdered me,” he whispered.


 

Lily didn't know why but she immediately reacted. Unclipping her gun, she slid it from her holster in one swift move. “Stop right there,” she said in a loud, even voice. He stopped in his tracks and put his hands up, his brows climbing high. But despite his initial non-threatening approach, there was something about him Lily didn't like. There was darkness in his expression, something sinister that caused her intuition to scream inside of her. She might have trouble believing in reincarnation and past lives but she always believed in herself...her gut was never wrong.

 

For Granted

Posted by Sammie on April 28, 2014 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

They never hear me


                                                        They never see me



The home I remembered was warm and loving. The easy banter with my dad at breakfast, the musical notes of my mum’s laughter in the background. Happiness made a house a home, and this hasn't been a home for a long time.


My legs dangled over the kitchen counter, listening as my parents fight raged on right in front of me. They didn't see me come in; they never see me come in.


“You're a real bitch, you know that? To imply I've stopped caring-” My dad shook his head, lips curled in disgust. “You make me sick.”


“Me! I make you sick.” She screamed as she swiped her arm across the table, papers with bold red writing floated to the floor. “All you worry about is bills. Money should be the last thing on your mind.”


“All I said is maybe we should take a step back. Look.” His hunched frame, caused from months of stress, months of being overworked, bent down and grabbed a hand full of bills shoving them in her face. “They're going to take our house, our cars!”


She snatched them away and scrunched them up. “I'm getting another job, something you should do too.”


“And work 150 hours instead of the 80 I'm already doing?” He scoffed.


“You should be doing whatever it takes!”


“What help will we be if we're broke, living on the streets with nothing but boxes to keep us warm, what help will we be then?”


“Oh, you're being ridiculous.”


“Am I? Because from where I'm standing that's exactly where we'll end up.”


The look Mum gave spoke volumes. “I can't do this anymore,” she said, the wrinkles in her aging face becoming more prominent.


This was the first time I really noticed how much their failing marriage was taking a toll. My mum's blue eyes, always full of pain, laugh lines bullied away by anger and sadness. She used to be a size ten, her body taut with toned muscle but now she'd be lucky to fit into size eight, her arms like sticks, the skin on her face stretching over sharp cheek bones. Every day I watched the situation spiral further out of control. Was there such a thing as rock bottom? I thought to myself.


“And I can?” My father's flat tone snapped me out of my thoughts. “Do you want a divorce? We're headed there anyway.” His words sounded flippant, almost uninterested and completely out of the blue.


But instead of an angry retort, Mum broke down, tears streaming down her cheeks, sobs wracking her frail body. I expected my dad to go and comfort her but he didn't, he just stood there, face impassive and cold. The look made me shiver as I jumped from the bench, I've never seen my father so devoid of emotion.


Giving him a sour stare, I went to her side, wrapping my arms around her neck but the gesture was unwanted. Mum sighed as she wiped the tears from her eyes turning away from me, a reaction that I was ready for. Shoulders slumped, I dragged my feet to the lounge room, my eyes studying the photographs littering the top of the TV cabinet, landing on the one that looked the happiest - Mum's arm wrapped around Dad's waist, holding him tight against her. Me, with my long blond curls kneeling in front as Mum's perfectly manicured hand curled over my shoulder, while Dad's rough, calloused one lazed on the other. All of our smiles, wide and bright with genuine happiness, eyes sparkling with an unspoken joy. Where did it all go wrong? It was a question I was asking a lot lately.


Suddenly, I plunged myself into the last happy memory I had.


“Don't dodge your class photo's today Hayley.”


I groaned, intending to do just that. “Mum,” I whined. “You know I hate these things.”


“Please? I know it's hard now that you're a senior. You have an image to uphold but this is important to me.”


She was right, I did have an image to uphold, I was Queen B after all and standing up with the nerds to get geeky class pictures could very well be social suicide. As ridiculous as it sounded, unless it was a selfie or some kind of snap shot documenting idiotic behaviour to post on Facebook, it was a no-no.


“I'll make it up to you, I promise,” she smiled.


That piqued my interest, “How?”


“A spa day? You, me, a few of your close girlfriends. I've got treatments not even on the market yet,” she teased.


Mum was a beauty therapist to the stars. She knew all the latest tips and tricks and the samples she had were always from the big named brands. I pretended to think about it but truth be told that was an awesome idea. I might just be able to redeem my social status before it has a chance to die.


“Deal.” A grin spread across my face as I hiked up my bag, the contents weighing heavily on one shoulder. “One geeky school photo coming up.” I kissed her on the cheek and walked out the door.


That was the last happy moment before everything changed.


Somewhere between the reminiscing, my parents' fight started again making me sink down onto the couch, drawing my knees to my chest. I released a tense breath when a knock sounded at the door, briefly interrupting Mum and Dad's shouting match, it also gave the news headlines a chance to be heard. Not that I cared. I grabbed the remote, my finger hovering over the numbers for MTV but something caught my attention. I don't know if it was the pretty brunette, with cropped hair and sad eyes appearing on screen or if it was where she was standing, but either way as I watched a man being dragged out, I felt this pang of fear grip me. The house looked familiar too, its once white paint scarred from years of neglect and age. Why did I feel the need to throw up right now?


BREAKING


“The search for missing high school student Hayley Barrett came to a horrifying end this morning,” I sprang from the chair, my watering mouth intensifying as the need to dry reach continued. I was Hayley Barrett. “Her remains were discovered in the backyard of prime suspect Ian Rafferty, Hayley's beloved music teacher, late last night.” A picture of me in my school uniform flashed on the screen. I was next to Mr Rafferty, a lopsided grin on my face. I remember that day.. “Escorted out in hang cuffs, Mr Rafferty hid his face from the camera and refused to comment. Tune in for tonight's special coverage.”


The agony in my mother's scream tore through the air. It was then that I realised why they never hear me, never see me...


It was because I wasn't really here.

Calm Before the Storm

Posted by Sammie on June 12, 2012 at 8:25 PM Comments comments (0)

I have never feared for my life until I met him.


At nineteen, I was a naïve girl with dreams of having the beautiful house with a white picket fence. I don’t have the white picket fence but I do have the beautiful house and believe me, it comes with a price.

Facing the sound of the ocean, I listened as the white wash slammed against the rocks. The air was crisp, moving across my flesh leaving goose bumps in its wake. I could see the dark huddle of clouds out at sea and knew we’d be getting a storm soon, which meant I had to hurry.

Tightening the shawl across my shoulders, I stepped back into the house and closed the glass sliding doors. The timber floor was cold against my bare feet as I moved up the stairs and into my bedroom. Just as I got the suitcase down from the wardrobe, my mobile vibrated from the back pocket of my jeans.

“Hello?”

“I’m just making sure you’re still going through with this,” Krista said in a gentle voice that betrayed the bluntness of her personality.

“I’m packing now.”

“I have everything you need. I’ll meet you at the bus like we discussed, okay?”

Fear wrapped around me like a straitjacket. “I’m not sure I can do this Kris.”

“Yes you can.” Her voice hardened. “You know what will happen if you don’t.”

And I did know. Ben would go too far one day and I would die.

Sighing, “I know.”

After shutting my phone, I started packing leggings, jumpers and jeans for during the day. The night’s chill was cold enough for two layers so I concentrated on comfort and warmth rather than style. In the bathroom, I picked out half a dozen must-have toiletries and made sure I had two extra pair of shoes. I searched my jewellery box taking only what was expensive as my mind wandered, imagining the reaction Ben will have when he finds me gone.

Shaking my head, I pushed the thoughts deep inside me along with the fear and kept going until my bag couldn’t fit anything more. After that, I wheeled the bag down the stairs, ignoring the marks I was leaving on his precious varnished floor and took one last look around.

I stood in the middle of the lounge room and thought about what Ben was like when we first met. He was respectful and kind, trustworthy, loyal and completely in love with me. He bought this house just because I said it was beautiful. I told him how I’d love to see the morning sun reflect off the calming water across the road. How I’d love the smell of fresh ocean air drifting through the open windows. How I’d love to sit on the balcony enclosed in the safety of his arms watching as the sun dipped below the horizon. Next thing I know, he’s handing me a set of keys and sliding a ring on my finger.

I put a lot of work into making the house our home. And now I was leaving it all. I was leaving it because my blood has been spilled on the blue leather sofa. My body has been broken on the round oak coffee table, my legs unable to hold my weight in the bedroom. He’s stolen all the beauty, tainting it with pain.

Taking a deep shaky breath, I turned to leave and came face to face with Ben.

The fear that churned my stomach all morning was now frozen terror. The look on his face was enough to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. One corner of his lip curled up into a smirk, enjoyment dancing in his hazel eyes.

“It’s cute to think you can get away from me,” he said, his tone even. “And I got to say you have more guts than I gave you credit for. I didn’t think you would go through with it.”

“You knew?” Though, it wasn’t a surprise. Not really.

“Of course I knew. What sort of a man would I be if I didn’t know what my fiancé was doing all day?” I kept my eyes to the ground and didn’t answer, assuming it was rhetorical. “What sort of man would I be Lexi?” He stalked toward me.

“I don’t know.”

The slap was a quick sting to my cheek. “I wouldn’t be much of a man at all.”

Closing my eyes to stop the tears from flowing, “You’re not much of a man now,” I clenched my fists, knowing that my words were going to get me killed.

“What? I didn’t hear you.” His fingers curled around my chin, yanking my face so our eyes connected. I let every ounce of defiance I had creep into my expression. I couldn’t stop now, I’d come this far and I realized that I would rather be dead then live the life I was living. I wasn’t going to do it any longer, and if that meant him killing me than so be it.

“Are you challenging me?” Ben asked amusement in his tone.

I ripped my face from his hand and took a step back from his imposing bulk. “No. I’m just leaving you,” I said, my voice a little stronger.

He sighed and I watched as he unclipped his holster, pulling out his on-duty weapon. “I can’t let you do that,” he said, with a calm that gave me the chills. “You’re mine and I’m not going to just let you walk away from me.”

“If you kill me you’ll go to jail.”

His chest shook with laughter. “I’m a detective Lexi, I have a hundred ways I can kill you and no one would ever find your body.”

“I have pictures of what you’ve done to me, they’ll find them and know it was you who did something.”

“That’s true.” He used the barrel of the gun to scratch his head, walking toward me once more. “But believing I’ve committed a crime and proving it are two very different things in a court of law.”

With only a foot between us, he pointed the gun at my chest. My heart was beating wildly against my ribs, my lips trembling with a fear so thick it threatened to close off my airway. The urge to shut it all out was too strong but I resisted, knowing it would fill him with a satisfaction I didn’t want him to have. I stared into his eyes and waited.

But he didn’t pull the trigger. Instead, he punched me in the head. Lucky for me, it was his left hand otherwise I’d be unconscious.

“I’m not going to kill you,” he said, putting the gun on the coffee table as he leaned over my crumbled body. “I love you too much to lose you. I’m just going to teach you a lesson.” He straightened himself back to his usual six foot height and kicked me in the stomach like someone would a soccer ball. As I was battling to breathe, he grabbed a fist full of hair, and dragged me to my feet. The calm I’d seen earlier was replaced with the kind of anger that made vomit line the walls of my throat, burning to come out. “You are mine.” He snarled in my face. “There is nowhere on earth you can go that I won’t find you.” His slap vibrated through my body as my legs went out from under me, pain exploding in my cheek, stomach heaving as I managed to get on my hands and knees to slowly crawl toward the table. Before he even knew what I intended, my fingers curled around the discarded weapon. It was heavy in my hand as I made my aching body stand to confront him.

His eyes widened slightly as my arm extended toward him. Remembering his lessons, I clicked off the safety and before he could dive for me I squeezed the trigger…twice.


***


“Emergency,” A woman answered. “Police, Fire or Ambulance?”

“Police,” I said, my voice as detached as my emotions.

Seconds later, “What’s your emergency?”

“I just killed my fiancé.” I gave the address, hung up the phone then limped from the house.

A hundred meter’s down the street I sat down on a steel bench, watching as the waves slammed into the rocks in a harsh attack. The rumbles coming from the approaching dark sky drew closer but instead of leaving I stay sitting, patiently awaiting the fury to descend.

 

Lexi Slaughter

Posted by Sammie on May 31, 2012 at 9:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Lexi Slaughter is my new heroin for an upcoming novel. I've just been writing little scenes and putting her in them. They have nothing to do with what happens in her book, these are just character sketches.

 

Lexi sits on a steel bench overlooking the rough waters as waves slam against the rocks. The howling wind whips her copper blonde hair into a frenzy but she doesn’t seem to care. Distantly, the rumbles coming from the approaching dark sky draws closer but instead of leaving she stays sitting, patiently awaiting the fury to descend. Taking a deep breath, she allows the fresh, fishy air to line her nostrils and licks the salt as it flecks upon her lips.


For her, this is what peace is. Her face takes on a serene expression, gazing into the natural order of things with a small smile curving her mouth. She closes her eyes as if to savour the echoes of thunder drifting closer to the shore, to savour the sounds of rocks crumbling under the pressure of the choppy sea, or the first cold drops as the sky begins to cry.


Finally, she slowly opens her eyes as the sparse drops turn into a steady flow and tilts her head letting the water cascade down her face. The rolling darkness is much closer now, and instead of flashes of lightening she notices spirals flaming across the sky and striking the water beneath " a powerful combination of danger and beauty.

 

The wind picks up pace and she can no longer stand her hair as it fans out behind her. Using the elastic around her wrist she pulls the hair into a pony tail, caressing the sides until all the loose strands can be tied in place. Letting her hands fall back into her lap she brings her knees up to her chest and wraps her arms around her legs as the temperature turns chilly. The storm is almost upon her now. The lightning strikes are hitting closer and the claps of thunder are so loud it threatens to burst her ear drums. She doesn’t want to leave, even as the rain stings her flesh as its descent quickens, but she knows she has to. She unfolds herself from the chair and makes a dash for cover 100 meters away. She heads into a coffee shop and draws everyone’s attention. She drops her eyes to the ground careful not to make eye contact but still feels their gazes taking in her heavy clothing as it sticks to her womanly curves. She hates when people notice her.

 

After a few seconds, hushed conversations surround her and she blows out a breath of relief. The nervous feeling in the pit of her stomach begins to dissolve and she moves to the window to watch as Mother Nature’s rage reaches land.


The sounds of the howling wind are more eerie inside, as it slips through the cracks in the windows and although the smell of rich, blended coffee calls to her, she longs to be back outside. She doesn’t know why she seems to be drawn to nature’s most dangerous emotion, perhaps it’s because the darkness that swirls the clouds into a tantrum also swirls inside of her, perhaps Lexi and Mother Nature’s dark side have a lot more in common than she thinks.


Silent Resistance

Posted by Sammie on May 7, 2012 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

 

My mother was like a modernized version of Mary Poppins. I would rarely see her without her apron tied around her waist or a smile playing over her lips and if anyone could make chores seem like a trip to Disneyland, it was her. She was as close to perfect as a person could get and the love between her and my father was nothing short of embarrassing. They acted like hormonally driven teenagers, an amazing (and gross) thing to witness after 20 years of marriage.

 

That’s the kind of memories I want to keep. I don’t want anyone to forget the person she used to be. That before the mask of anger and resentment was an embodiment of love and sweetness even Mother Theresa would be impressed with. That before the stench of Bourbon and Scotch was the sultry scent of woody musk. To me, my mum was my beautiful blonde sidekick who always had my back. She treated me more like a sister then a mother and the bond we shared was unbreakable…Or so I thought.

 

Her change began after foreign military started bombing Australia’s major cities. It was subtle at first, hushed arguments with my father, and forced smiles. I figured it was over the state of the economy but later I found out it was because of the Takeover. After the soldiers descended in every town around the country, with their impeccable military uniforms and Ak-47s swung over their shoulders, the arguments about fighting back were louder. My dad wanted to join a group called the Resistance but my mother forbade it, saying it was too dangerous. When Dad was taken to a concentration camp in Brisbane along with other people in town, danger was no longer a concern for Mum and her change was complete.

 

Her faked reassurances to make me feel better no longer came. She didn’t smile, the light in her eyes was gone and I’d quickly become her mute, pain-in-the-ass daughter. After weeks of using our house as Resistance headquarters, stockpiling weapons and making me learn how to shoot and fight; I approached her and signed, what’s the point of breaking Dad out if one of us gets killed?

 

“He’ll be free, that’s all that matters,” was her detached response.

 

And if I die?

 

She picked up the map of the camp dad was in and sighed. “There are always casualties in war Amelia. Besides –“she glanced up from the paper “- You don’t have to fight if you don’t want to, your training can be used as offence or defense, the decision is yours.” Her apathy had cut my heart in half.

 

 

***

 

 

 

 

For the next four years I watched as the Resistance recruited thousands all over the country. The group was making a big name for themselves and now had control of some of the smaller towns across Australia. For Queensland, it was St George, Longreach and Bundaberg. In the first year, Mum had tried to break my dad out but the attempt was a huge failure that suffered many loses. Mum was smarter now. She knew every smaller town we took back brought us closer to the cities and surprisingly, people listened to her as if she was the voice of God himself. Strangers, who never knew the woman I mourned every night, saw the person she was now as a gift. They drew from her strength and bravery, making the mistake that she cared about them. The truth was, as soon as Mum found a way to get Dad back everyone that looked upon her for guidance would be in the same place I am now – lost and betrayed.

 

Not that I completely blame her for how she’s turned out. In a way, I understand how difficult it must’ve been for her when dad was taken. It’s as if half of her soul was ripped away and without it she became a shell of her former self, except instead of buckling under grief she hardened with authority and locked away her conscience. Maybe, it’s a defense mechanism to shield her from future pain. But then, she hardly twitched a few days ago when Roman, her right hand man, told her about Dad being moved to an unknown location right after the foreigners discovered her name in connection with the Resistance.

 

I, on the other hand, broke down in front of the entire room. God only knows what kind of torture he was being subjected to and all she could do was look at me in disappointment. A look that said, ‘how did I make such a weak daughter?’

 

I stopped trying to please her after that. I didn’t care if she knew I could dismantle and reassemble a handgun in seconds or that if a bullet was fired from my gun, it would hit its intended target every single time. I just didn’t care. In fact, I’d already decided on going to Mt. Isa with Jonah, where we would co-ordinate our own team, cross over into the Northern Territory and take back Darwin.

 

It was the day before my birthday when Mum found out my plans. Roman - the traitor - had told her. I was shaking with anger because he knew what it was like for me. He was one of the rare people still around who shares my memories of the woman my mother used to be and yet, he tattles on me like a five-year-old.

 

“You are seventeen and I will not allow you to trek around the country and die at the hands of our enemy,” she said.


You had no problem with me fighting when I was 13, I signed, my hands the only form of communication I had.

 

“That’s because I was there to protect you if I needed to.”

 

I rolled my eyes. Yes, because we all know how much you would’ve sacrificed if something had happened.

 

She ignored the sarcasm, “You aren’t going.”

 

You can’t stop me.

 

“Maybe not, but Roman will stop Jonah.”

 

A slither of nonchalance straightened my shoulders and in response I just shrugged.

 

“You cannot go alone Amelia,” she sounded surprised.

 

I can and I will.

 

“I will NOT lose another person in my life!” She turned and stalked off, her sudden outburst leaving my mouth hanging wide open, a fly trap just waiting to happen. It also left me slightly hopeful. Was the mum I missed so badly coming back?

 

Turns out she wasn’t.

 

She disappeared into a bottle of Scotch and didn’t crawl out until morning carrying with her a nasty hangover and a bad attitude.

 

I wasn’t about to stick around and become her verbal punching bag so I ended up finding Jonah and spending the day at the Botanical Gardens where we continued our discussion about Mt. Isa.

 

We sat on a plaid blanket across from the pond, ripping bread apart and throwing it to the ducks who were acting more like vultures. As afternoon descended, we watched as the sun dipped below the horizon. The sky was still a brilliant blue but that didn’t stop one or two stars from announcing themselves with a small sparkle. It was nice to just sit and be normal for a few hours.

 

“Do you really want to leave?” Jonah asked me. “I know it’s been hard because of your mum, but I really think she'd go crazy without you.”

 

I shook my head and pulled out the iPad. I was teaching Jonah sign language but he still had a lot to learn. I think she’ll be relieved, I wrote.

 

“She told my dad last night that she was afraid she’d pushed you away and now it was too late to make up for it.”

 

My eyebrows lifted. What did Roman say?


Jonah ran a hand through his brown surf-like hair. “He said she was right to be scared. He told her that while she wallowed in the grief of losing William, you were grieving them both.”

 

How did she take that?

 

A sad look reached the depths of his eyes. “She cried.”

 

Floored with shock, I sat there for about ten minutes before the first few tears escaped my ducts. It wasn’t sad tears, more like tears of joy. It’s been so long since Mum exhibited any emotion at all, I was beginning to wonder if she was even human anymore. To find out that her heart was starting to thaw was the best birthday present I’ve ever been given – it was the knowledge that slowly my mum, my real mum, was coming back to me.

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

 

Later that night, we all had a dinner in honour of me turning seventeen. Mum joined us and for my third shock of the day she was drinking water instead of her usual Scotch on the rocks. Despite the awkwardness, no one mentioned the foreigners, or the war. We ate a delicious Rosemary Lamb dish without any strategic planning or upsetting phone calls. It was just like the pond – normal.

 

After we cleared the table, Jonah, with a huge grin spread from one ear to the next, walked out with a birthday cake made of chocolate. ‘Happy Birthday, Amelia’ was written in pink cursive on the top surrounded by seventeen candles. I turned from him and when I looked into the blue eyes that mirrored my own, I saw pride and regret. It was then that I realized she’d made the cake and was trying to apologize. That instead of using her words she was using her actions, which was so like her. In response, I gave her a small smile and nodded – my way of saying I was going to try if she was. Turning back to Jonah, I sucked in a breath and blew out the flames, wishing as hard as I could for new beginnings.

 

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

 

I woke up at two o’clock in the morning, feeling as though something was wrong. I put on jeans and a shirt and just as I grabbed for the door handle, I heard voices. With my instincts screaming at me, I went back and lifted my mattress, feeling for the handgun I hid there. It was already loaded with a round in the chamber, all I had to do was release the safety and I was good to go. I crept back to the door and slowly opened it, stopping every time the hinges squeaked. As I moved toward the lounge room, I knew I was hearing my mum’s voice but I never heard the man’s before. It was a deep sound that rumbled from his chest with a hint of an accent lingering after every word.

 

“I’m not giving you any information so you might as well just kill me.” My mother’s brave words froze my feet to the carpet. I’d just made it to the entrance of the kitchen when fear solidified my limbs.

 

“Not even for the release of your husband?” The man asked.

 

After a few heartbeats Mum’s whisper reached my ears. “No.”

 

I knew then it was time to make myself move. My gut was telling me this guy wasn’t going to like the word no, and as always my gut was right. When the beating started I rushed into the kitchen, heading to the end of the counter where I’d have a direct line of sight to shoot but before I made it, I was tackled to the ground.

 

Jonah’s body covered the length of mine, pinning me to the cold tiles. “We have to wait,” he whispered. “There’s too many outside, dad called for backup.”

 

When the first scream tore from Mum’s throat, I thrashed like a wild animal beneath Jonah’s body. I couldn’t make a sound. I couldn’t communicate with him at all. The only thing left for me to do was plead with my eyes. Please, please let me save her.

 

Another scream bounced off the walls, this time coupled with the harsh sounds of flesh on flesh. The viciousness of whatever he was doing to her turned my insides into a squashed mess, all of which wanted out. I swallowed the urge to vomit and after what felt like hours her screams turned into whimpers. Eventually, a vibrating from Jonah’s phone announced to him it was time to get off me and the moment he did, I took off for the lounge room.

 

My whole body went still at the sight of the soldier wiping his knuckles over his clothes. The white, blue and red flag stitched to the arm of his uniform was stained with my mum’s blood, but that’s not what made me shoot him. It was the smirk playing on his lips as he looked down at her crumbled body. He didn’t even notice me until he heard the click of the safety coming off. His eyes widened just as I squeezed the trigger, but it was too late for him to react. My bullet was already on its way to seal his fate.

 

A silent sob caught in my throat and the tears I valiantly held back slid from my eyes, wetting my cheeks. Slowly, I approached Mum’s broken body and couldn’t stop my legs from buckling out from under me. Her breathing was a series of short, shallow rasps and her lips were losing their normal pink colouring.

 

“Love you,” she whispered with her last breath.


I sat with her, not wanting to leave her alone just yet and tried not to notice that her once ethereal face was turned into a mess of skin and exposed bone. My gaze landed on the one part of her that was familiar – her eyes. Her unblinking eyes stared up at the ceiling and that’s when a part of me died inside. Great wracking sobs seized a hold of my chest and I cried, cried for that special, loving side of my mum that I would never see again. We had a second chance and they took it away from me. I cried for the loss of that too.

 

As the last of my tears fell, I stood up. I finally understood how Mum felt all these years and I knew she’d done it to shield herself from feeling this kind of pain again. I never realized how numb grief can make you. It was the strangest feeling, yet I reveled in it. Numb was good, numb meant I wouldn’t feel anything and at the moment I needed detachment. The only feeling I wanted to latch on to was the vengeance running through my veins. That was the only emotion I would allow myself to have.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DESPAIR

Posted by Sammie on June 12, 2011 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (2)

Her feet glided slowly over the shortly clipped lawn until she came to her spot - a monstrously large rock that was flat enough for her to sit on. Her view was a delicious treat and the day was perfect for just sitting and staring out into the crystal clear blue waters and watching the white wash pour from the waterfall. This was her day, she thought. Her day to not think about all of her troubles and stressful decisions that are waiting for her. Her day to just sit and think about nothing.

She wore only loose hanging clothes - a baggy t-shirt and blue track pants. Her curly brown hair was tied into a ponytail and her makeup was lightly spread upon her face. Seconds turned into minutes, minutes turned into hours then sadly it was time for her to leave this sane place and go back to the insanity that was her life.

She feared that she would not be able to make it through another day. She feared that her strength was quickly depleting leaving her emotions raw and defenceless. How many more names could she be called? How many more threats could she put up with?

Last week she was a whore, this week she was a dirty slut and she doesn't even really know why. The reasoning is beyond her but she's starting to see they don't need a reason. They've been saying things about her now since the eighth grade. The worst part about it is she used to be friends with all of them and then all of a sudden a target appeared on her back.

And it's not like it used to be. She doesn't just get pushed around and picked on at school anymore her name is everywhere. Face book, Twitter, YouTube - they write horrible rumours of boys she supposedly hooked up with but didn't and email her saying things like she should just kill herself and that she's a waste of space. Her once shared secrets to who she thought was her BFF is now public knowledge and even though she has great parents, they just don't understand. She wished they realised it's not the same anymore. It's not like it was when they went to school.

 

***

 

"What are we going to do Michael?" Sarah Jenkins asked her husband while sipping a glass of red wine.

"Change her school?" He suggested.

"I don't think it'll matter," she sighed. "They're putting things up about her on all those social networking sites, people who don't even know her are now calling her names and crucifying her for things she hasn't even done."

He moved towards her. "It'll be alright, it'll blow over."

Sarah shook her head. "That's just it, I don't think it will. She's becoming more depressed, she's only fourteen she should be getting out and about but she doesn't even want to shop with me anymore." She took another sip.  

"Do you want me to talk to her?" He asked.

She nodded. "She's not listening to me." She tilted the glass and swallowed the rest of her drink. "She thinks that having all of her friends and half the school turn on her is the end of the world."

He looked at his watch. "It's ten o'clock already, I'll sit down with her tomorrow and see where her heads at. In the meantime..." He smiled and took the empty glass from her hand and placed it on the wooden floor then pulled her from her seat and into his lap.

He cuddled her like that for an hour and stroked her hair as they both stared out at the full moon and brightly shining stars from their bedroom balcony. This was their one nightly ritual they made sure they kept. When dealing with their jobs and their three children it was all too easy to forget to enjoy each other. It was a peaceful pleasure and on that night a pleasure that quickly came to an end.

A high pitched scream cut through the silence causing Sarah's adrenaline to drive her off of Michael's lap. She took off in a panicked sprint, through the bedroom, down the stairs and coming to a stop outside Harper's room where her youngest son stood in the doorway. There was a puddle pooled around his feet and when she looked up she got her answer to what was so bad to cause him to wet himself. The sight nearly crippled her. Michael pushed passed, he was shouting something to her but the shock blocked whatever he was saying out.

Michael turned to his son instead. "Call the Ambulance buddy ok? Remember? Triple zero."

The little boy of only seven grabbed the cordless phone from the hallway and did as his father told him. His trembling finger dialled the number then after putting the phone to his ear he waited until a lady answered.

"Emergency," she said. "Police, Fire or Ambulance?"

"Umm ... Ambulance," he responded as clearly as he could.

A button was pressed. "What's the emergency?" Another lady asked.

Tears were falling from his eyes and rolling down his cheeks as he answered her. "My sister is hanging from the fan in her room and there's something around her neck."

The End

Ultimate Betrayal

Posted by Sammie on March 8, 2011 at 5:48 AM Comments comments (6)

I was in an unfamiliar bed, the feeling of crisp sheets rubbed against my legs and the constant beeps of the machines told me I was in the hospital. For what I have no clue. I strained to look around but other than white walls there was nothing really to see. I lazily scratched my right hand where the drip needle was sticking out of trying to will my brain into remembering why I was here.

 

“Finally,” I breathed when a nurse walked in. She smiled a warm and inviting smile, she looked to be in her late fifties, her grey streaked hair pulled tightly in a bun. She reached out and grabbed my wrist looking at her pocket watch at the same time.

 

“Can you tell me your name dear?” She asked when she was finished.

 

“Sasha Cane, I’m a police officer. Can you tell me why I’m here?”

 

“You don’t remember?” I shook my head. “The doctor will talk to you, is there anyone you’d like me to call for you?”

 

“Can you call my husband; he will be at work so call the station and ask for Detective Tatum Cane.”

 

“I’ll do that now for you.” She hesitated in the door way. “Get some rest you’ve had a traumatic experience.”

 

Traumatic experience? I don’t feel like I’ve had a bad experience. Maybe I was in a car accident? The last thing I remember was dropping off some sandwiches to my sister at school. I was in the squad car sitting at a red light, but that’s it, that’s all I’ve got. Maybe someone ran a red when mine went green and swiped me. God I hoped not that’s the last thing I need, the Sergeant breathing down my neck.

 

I laid back down into the softness of the pillow, my eyes were getting heavy. It was suddenly like a fog settled in my brain. I closed my eyes and let the darkness sweep over me only it didn’t pull me all the way under it was more like limbo, I could still hear the machines and the soft sounds of murmuring down the hall but I couldn’t open my eyes. I think my brain couldn’t slow down enough to fully shut down, I couldn’t help but worry about Jenny and her mid terms and me with trying for detective, Tatum and all the hours he’s been putting in, that’s partly the reason I’m hoping to get on the missing persons unit, to spend more time with him and share his misery of looking for the missing that most often than not are never found. I’m not getting my hopes up though, we’re husband and wife and they usually don’t like that but lucky for me they badly need someone on the unit and I have a bad reputation of being a workaholic.

 

I heard the footfalls hurrying down the corridor and new it was Tatum, again I tried to open my eyes but couldn’t.

 

“Sir, I need to speak to you before you go in there.” I heard a man say.

“Where was she?” Tatum’s voice was streaked with fear and urgency.

 

“She was found about five miles south of here, a teenage boy was walking into town after some buddies kicked him out of the car, he grabbed his phone and called the paramedics.” He paused for a second. “Her pain is under control for now.”

 

“Tell me.” Tatum’s voice turned into a low growl.

 

“She’s been beaten and it appears whoever responsible attempted to rape her but either she or something else scared him off. She has cuts and hand bruises on the inside of her thighs but no penetration. She has a black eye but the most damage is to her ribs. Three of them are broken, one in two places which we needed to pin.”

 

I listened in shock, I couldn’t feel any pain, you would think I would have felt a throb or an ache somewhere but no, nothing. He said I was beaten and nearly raped? The implications and questions swirled in my brain till finally the darkness gripped me and never let go.

I woke up screaming, I had a horrible nightmare. I was chasing Jenny but the closer I got the further away she appeared. She was moving toward darkness and I knew she was in danger I could feel it but still I couldn’t save her. I hated those sorts of dreams, they seem to pick out your biggest fear and dangle it front of you.

 

I calmed as soon as I heard Tatum’s soothing voice. He was sitting on the edge of the bed his fingers combing my hair. I tried to sit up but he stopped me. The first pangs of aches and pains made me listen to him. I asked him to sit the bed up a little and he did. I groaned when a burning feeling exploded on the side of my rib cage, it passed as I breathed through it. I reached out and grabbed Tatum, both hands on each side of his face. I just needed to feel the heat of his red lips on mine, it feels like I haven’t been able to for a long time. He pulled away quickly and I looked at him confused, my brows knitting together. He stood up and looked down at me.

 

“Why would you do that?” He asked, hurt clear in his tone.

 

My confusion deepened. “Kiss you?” He nodded. “Arr, because you’re my husband and we don’t get to do it enough.”

 

He roughly ran a hand through his hair. “We don’t get to do it at all Sasha, we’re separated and have been for a year.” He paused looking at me like I just grew two heads. “I’m going to call the doctor.”

 

My mouth was hanging open; it was still that way when the doctor walked in. He was short and bald. I wouldn’t like to guess his age because I suspect he looked older then he really is the stress of life proof in the lines etched deeply in his forehead and corner of both eyes. He flashed a light in my eyes and explained I was experiencing a form of retrograde amnesia, that the bump on my head would of caused it and not to worry my memory should piece everything together over the course of some days, when he left I turned to Tatum.

“Whose fault was it? The separation I mean.”

 

He shook his head, “No ones, we just grew apart.”

 

I smiled as his left eye twitched; it only did it when he was lying. “Liar,” I said. “Please just tell me.”

 

“It was after you made detective.” He said ignoring my shocked gasp at being told I’d made my dream come true. “They put you on the MPU and everything was going great for six months, then you started to see a pattern in this one case involving teenage girls, you were convinced they were taken by the same men, you got obsessed and when the Captain said you had to work on it in your own time you did.” He took a deep breath. “Bringing it home was fine with me we even started working it together but when – ” Tears filled his beautiful blue eyes, he ran his hand through his sandy blonde hair then grabbed my hand the bulge in his toned muscles flexing with his grip. “ – when Jenny disappeared you pushed everyone away including me.”

 

I gasped. NO! I mentally screamed the word, not Jenny. “I found her safe, didn’t I,” A sob caught in my throat but one look at his expression told me I didn’t find her that she was still missing. I broke down, I felt the drops of tears streak my face and tasted the saltiness on my lips. I tried to make myself remember but failed.

 

“I didn’t want to leave you,” he said tears sliding down his cheeks too. “But you told me you had a lead and I was only in the way, that if I truly loved you I’d give you some space to find her. So I did, I gave you space.”

 

I reached out and grabbed his hand softly pulling him to the bed ignoring my bodies painful protests, his muscular frame sat on the edge of the bed, he hugged me, than I kissed him. I pulled away and said. “I’m sorry, I don’t want you to be away from me I need you,” I dropped my head to lean on his chest. “I need you,” I repeated.

 

I tried again to remember what happened this time relaxing as I thought of Jenny’s face, her perfect rounded face and unmarred complexion, bouncy blonde curls and emerald green eyes, my thoughts were interrupted by Tatum’s phone ringing – it was the theme from COPS, suddenly I was sucked not into a dream but a memory.

 

I was in my car, my clothes were dirty and the adrenaline was coursing through my veins. My foot was flat on the accelerator. I looked over at Jenny’s frame, she’d lost weight, her face was taut and her eyes full with fear. The relief of finding her was overwhelming to the point that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I found her in a barn. The bile threatened to scorch my throat as I passed two stalls, both occupied by decomposing bodies; the last stall is where she was chained to a pole in the middle like a dog. I ran in and ripped the collar from around her neck. She didn’t say anything just silently cried on my shoulder as I helped her to my car. We started driving away; I couldn’t believe I got her back. I swiped at some tears when a scream from Jenny nearly made me lose control of the car. Her back was straitened and she was watching out the side mirror. I looked out mine – a black SUV was gaining on us. I tried to sooth Jenny and ignore the terror crunching down in my gut when my head snapped forward. They smashed into the bumper, the next crash that came had the car sliding sideways until finally we flipped, landing in the ditch on the side of the road. I tried to grab Jenny and pull her through the window with me but another pair of hands got her first. She started to kick and scream but she must’ve realized it was no use and just went limp. I on the other hand fought like crazy until the guy punched me in the back of the head knocking me out.

 

It was the sound of someone’s phone that jolted me out of consciousness, the ringtone was the theme from COPS, I actually wanted to laugh but quickly swallowed the urge instead I started to kick the doors and windows but like Jenny I gave up as soon as I knew all I was doing was draining my energy and not getting anywhere. After what felt like ten minutes the back door opened and standing there was a young man with a cruel smile etched on his face. He looked to be at least six foot with an ugly red scar down the left side of his neck. He grabbed me and chucked me to the ground. I screamed out as my back scrapped along the gravel, another guy came around the other side, he got behind me grabbing my wrists and securing them above my head. The one with the scar reefed off my pants scratching and pinching the insides of my thighs as he tried to pry my legs open. I kicked and tensed, kicked out again there was no way I was letting them do this. Eventually his anger rose to boiling point so instead they beat me. I remember the pain vibrating through my body it felt like I’d been run over multiple times by a Mac truck. The next thing I knew I was here.

I snapped out of the memory. OH MY GOD…I knew who did it. My heart started to beat at an unbearable pace. The bile rose in my throat to the point where I had to spit some out, but I needed to calm down, if he knew I suspected I would disappear too and then he would keep getting away with this. My stomach clenched when I realized how close I came to getting Jenny back. My beautiful sister. We would have been planning her eighteenth birthday in a couple of weeks if she hadn’t been taken. Another sob threaten to bubble out when Tatum walked in. His eyes were red from crying. He walked straight to me pulling me into an embrace; I resisted the urge to scratch out his eyes.

 

“They found her, she’s dead isn’t she?” I said calmly.

 

He nodded telling me over and over how sorry he was. I knew I was in shock. I looked for her for 12 months then I found her battered, bruised and in a hell I could never imagine and I saved her, I found her alive and I had her in my car. Oh God. I failed her and now she’s gone forever.

 

The sounds of my howling screams shattered everything in me the piercing cries echoed loudly in my ears; I let Tatum rock me, I had no choice but to let the monster that killed those girls, that killed my sister put his hands on me. He’s a detective there would be no evidence of his crimes but I vow with every fibre in my body he will pay.

The Tessa Rose Case Files

Posted by Sammie on March 8, 2011 at 4:53 AM Comments comments (0)

I was standing in my office his letter in my hand. He was taunting me, daring me to catch him. It’s been like this every summer for two years.

 

Detective Tessa Rose,

Beautiful  isn’t it? This time of the year. I know you were waiting to hear from me. You missed me didn’t you? I missed you. So much so that I left you a gift at the Davis memorial. Hope to see you soon detective.

Regards,

The Artist.

 

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath; I knew what was waiting for me, I even knew who – A woman named Rachel Fairmont.

I walked out of my office to find my partner.

“The artist is back,” I said as a greeting.

With a mouthful of bagel he asked. “Where?”

“Davis Memorial.”

Carlos swallowed. “I’ll call uniforms to secure the scene.” He chucked the rest of his breakfast in the bin - probably just lost his appetite. “I was really hoping he was dead, you know?” he said as we made our way to the elevators.

“We’re not that lucky Carlos.”

We drove to the cemetery in silence; the thick cloud of guilt covering us both was almost suffocating. Every year we have a whole summer to crack this case and prevent more deaths and every year we fail. I looked out the window watching people on the streets busily starting their morning. The man in the business suit; the mother with a pram hurrying to find the specials. The many men and women in dishevelled clothing proving they’d slept in them and were now on their way home from a big night at one of the many casinos. They had no idea of the potential dangers out there, but I did. And I wasn’t doing enough to keep them safe.

Driving through the gates of the Davis memorial was like déjà vu. The yellow tape, the cops standing around, the coroner, us - it was the same every time. The car rolled to a stop and I climbed out the passenger side. Reluctantly, I ducked under the crime scene tape and proceeded toward the body. Rachel Fairmont lay on her back, her legs slightly spread and her arms crossed over her chest. Just like all the others every bone in her body will be broken but her face will be untouched. In fact, the face is always perfect. Foundation, smoky style eye shadow, blush to define the prominent high cheek bones, bright red lipstick - It’s always the same style. Beside the body will be a portrait of the victim, sometimes of her unconscious, other times while she’s huddled up into the corner of some room, we think it’s his way of saying ‘look what these women were before I found them, and now look at them’. It’s why he chooses women that have the potential to be beautiful but let’s life get in the way.

 I stood looking at her unrecognizable body; if it wasn’t for the face we’d never be able to identify her at all. I always wonder at what point does the pain stop? According to the ME he uses a sledge hammer, could you imagine having your bones snapped that way?

“Same MO?” Carlos asked.

“Mostly.”

“The bow around her neck is new.” He squatted down, the balls of his feet supporting his weight.

“His note said this one was a gift to me.”

“Why? What’s changed?” He got back up after getting a closer look and faced me.

“What do you mean?”

“This guy is meticulous, his MO has never changed before, but now it has.”

I thought for a second. “Maybe he wants to get caught.”

Carlos shook his head. “Nah not this guy, he gets off on this. Domination is the drug and the power is the high, he’ll never want to give that up.”

“Ok so it’s a clue, he needs to give us something more than he already has to make us feel even more useless then we already do, giving him more power.”

Nodding, he said. “That makes sense.”

“First things first,” I said getting my iPhone out. “We need to confirm that this is Rachel Fairmont.”

I snapped a picture then sent it off to our in-house genius - Celeste Brown. While waiting for confirmation, shouts from near where we parked got my attention. I lifted my head and moaned. Manny Rodriguez was waving frantically. The reporter was relentless in his pursuit for a good story I’ll give him that.

 Ready to go anyway, I walked over with an expression that said ‘piss off’, but like always he ignored my annoyance, plastering a wide grin across his face like we were buddies from way back.

“No comment Manny.” I said.

“Come on detective, can’t you give me something?”

Folding my arms I shook my head.

“Alright, just nod your head; is it true that he dumps his victim’s body on the grave with the name of his next victim?”

His information was spot on, it didn’t surprise me either, actually what did surprise me is that it took him this long to find out about it. Still, I kept my face expressionless; it’s the only way to deal with people like Manny. One twitch of the eye or tightening of the mouth would tell him he was right. I kept my poker face in check.

He threw his head back and barked out a laugh. “Ok fine, play it that way.”

I smiled, I couldn’t help it. Manny was a charismatic kind of guy, a major pain in my ass but charismatic all the same. It’s no wonder he was in this kind of a profession, it suited him to a T.

I bent back under the yellow tape and got into the car. Just as Carlos jumped in, my phone beeped a text from Celeste.

It’s your girl. Sending you the file on her now.

I text back my thanks with the name of the potential new victim (not that we’ll have any luck finding her in time) then went to my email and opened the attachment.

“Rachel Fairmont, 26-year-old associate at Harper & Collins law firm. She’s just like the others. Young, bright future ahead of her, a work-a-holic.”

We left behind the crime scene and drove back toward the precinct. My mind was swirling with the names and details of his other victims. I could recite anything written in their files just off the top of my head, the many hours I spent combing through them to find something, anything of significance was too many to count. Sarah Cole, Jessica Price, Katie Phelps, Tina Jefferies, Hayley Croft, Sally Williams, and now Rachel Fairmont. So many young lives cut short.

“We have to go back to victimology.” I said.

“But we’ve been over it all,” Carlos took his eyes off the road and glanced at me.

“I think we’ve missed something.”

Back at the station house, I claimed the conference room. White boards hung along the far wall like a class room and a rectangle wooden table was positioned in the centre. I had every intention of staying right here until we caught a break. I outlined the case on the white boards pinning up photos, writing down the basics when Carlos walked in with two steaming cups of coffee, the smell for me was like fresh air, this stuff was just as important as oxygen in my book.

Mumbling my thanks I grabbed the handle and started sipping.

“I’ve been thinking. “ I said finally.

“I’m listening.”

“I thought about it in the car. All of these women have had something bad happen to them.” I took another sip.  “I don’t know why we didn’t see it before.”

“We always agreed that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove these women weren’t picked at random.”

“The way they’re killed means something Carlos. All their bones are broken but not their face, their face is done up to the nine’s making us focus on beauty. Why?”

He shrugged.

“Because he’s telling us that they’re beautiful but broken. He’s purposely leaving clues. Every single girl so far has had something life altering happen in their past from rape to loosing someone close to them, the clues are with the victims, so that means the victims are what’s going to lead us to our psycho.”

“It’s something to look into but Tessa it’s a stretch.”

“I know but it’s possible.”

With that we sat in the conference room for hours going back over the victimology, every detail about their lives were laid in front of us, we compiled lists of their everyday habits trying to see if they’d crossed paths with one another; ate tea at the same place; shopped at the same mall. Nothing really jumped out at us and it was starting to get frustrating. I jumped up and opened a window, it was dark outside and I realised I hadn’t had anything but coffee all day, we both hadn’t. I breathed the air deep into my lungs and closed my eyes. I calmed myself by thinking of home; I lived just outside of Vegas in a one bedroom cottage surrounded by wide open spaces and the echoes of wild life. After being amongst the hustle and bustle all day getting home always felt like a weight being lifted. I was free, relaxed and alive out there but here I was surrounded by death and evil. To say it was hard to deal with sometimes would be an understatement. 

I turned around when I heard Carlos get up; I leaned my back against the window sill and crossed my arms over my chest. “I’ve just wasted hours of our time, we’ve done all this before and got nothing I don’t know why I thought any different.”

His eyes locked with mine, “We had to try, we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t.”

He walked over and I was acutely aware at how good he looked. His impressive gym toned body stood out even while wearing a suit, and his eyes; they were what made me eager to see him every day. Emerald green eyes, the windows to his soul and the only soft part about him. Everything else represented that manly strength but his eyes showed his true feelings, like right now. They were burning into mine; it was the kind of heat that caused my heart to race, and places low in my body to tighten. Nothing’s ever happened between us but both of us have wanted it to, it’s in every look he gives me, it’s every time we purposely brush against one another as we walk past. But we’re both committed to the job, I think we both know if something were to happen it would spell the end of at least one of us in this division, it’s just moments like these – it makes me want to take that chance, it makes me want to risk our partnership on the job for a relationship off.

His body was so close I could hear his breathing. His hand came up and I let him tuck a strand of my hair behind my ear, his fingertips glided along my skin so softly it gave me goose bumps. The lump in my throat made it hard for me to swallow and the overwhelming urge to grab him by his tie and crush his lips to mine was getting harder to ignore then cutting through the silence my phone rang. I jumped and Carlos turned and walked out mumbling that he was going to pick us up some dinner, it was probably a good idea I don’t think I could have talked with him still around.

Clearing my throat I answered. “Hello.”

“You are so gunna love me after I tell you this.”

“Hay Celeste.”

“I just found a common link between all your victims.” She paused.

“Yeah ok spit it out.”

“They’ve all been in the Vegas sun for their past, breaking news stuff I tell ya but that’s not the only link. Guess who’s by line is on all their stories?”

“C’mon Celeste tell me already.” I hated guessing games and she knew it.

“Manny Rodriguez.”

“You sure?” I may have been feeling the heat only minutes before but hearing that was like getting a bucket of cold water splashed over me.

“Yeah I’m sure, I also know who the next target is - Cindy Wells, a resident at the Sunrise hospital and the survivor of a boating accident at Lake Mead, I’ve already sent uniforms to make her aware of the situation and stay with her until you say what to do next.”

Words couldn’t describe the way I felt right now, finally we’d caught a break – maybe the break that was going to get this bastard. “What about Manny did you send for him?”

“Yeah but uniforms haven’t found him yet, his boss said his chasing some leads on a new story.”

“Ok keep them looking.”

“Will do.”

“And Celeste you’re a freaking genius you know that!”

I could hear the smile in her tone. “Of course I know that.”

I laughed and just as I ended the call Carol the desk clerk poked her head in. “One of the guys told me to tell you your car headlights are on.”

Not thinking much of it I grabbed my keys and headed out to turn them off. I was too excited about the new info to think about anything else. All that was running through my head were the clues. Could the fact that he’s targeting just Manny’s stories tell us that Manny was in danger as well? I hoped we could find him, perhaps it has everything to do with Manny, maybe he’s the key. What if someone was trying to get back at him for something? It became clear I needed to find Manny and I needed Carlos to hurry up so we could move on this.

I approached my car, the lights were indeed shining brightly but it dawned on me that if I’d left them on this morning they would be dull if not completely dead. Stopping suddenly, my hand went for my gun but it was too late, an arm came around my waste and a cloth covered my mouth, screaming wouldn’t help me so I held my breath and started to fight, I kicked and bucked my body but he was a strong son-of-a-bitch. Finally, I had no choice but to take a breath, the smell was sweet and it took only seconds before parts of me started to feel numb and my vision began to blur.  

“You sure you can’t give me something detective?” His voice was distorted and a little hard to hear but I knew who it was.

The last thought I had before nothing but black claimed me was I was right. Manny Rodriguez was the key to the case – he was the killer.