Don’t Tell

Stepping into her childhood home was like stepping into another world. She stopped in the living room and shrugged off her coat. Closing her eyes for a moment, she breathed deep, savoring the aroma of fresh baked bread with butter and potato soup, the warmth of the cracking fire, and the overwhelming sense of peace.

That was the best part of coming home – for just a little while, she could put some distance between herself and the real world. She could forget the grieving families, the crimes that seemed more animal than human, the morbid details of her day. It was a brutal job, spending hour after hour studying the worst mankind had to offer. But deep down, she knew she could never do anything else. It was in her blood.

She slipped off her shoulder holster and hung it beside her coat – a normal routine in a family of cops. The door swung open and her dad stepped inside, cheeks red from the cold. The lines in his face seemed deeper than they had this morning. He flashed a tight smile, but it faded quickly.

“Rough day?” She kept her voice low.

He tossed his coat over a chair. “Yeah. Yours?”

She nodded. It was more than just a rough day. She was weary to the bone. “Does it ever get easier?”

He hesitated. “Not really. But some days are easier than others.”

“This definitely wasn’t an easy one.” She sighed.

“Just remember, no matter how bad it was, whatever you do -”

“Don’t tell Mom.” She finished the sentence in a whisper. He smiled – a real smile this time – at their inside joke. Years ago, her mom was nearly hysterical when Savannah decided to follow in her dad’s footsteps as a Nashville homicide detective. Her dad later told her that it would all work out if she followed one rule – no matter how bad things get, don’t tell Mom.

Such a small gesture, but it was enough to know he understood.

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Wired

My hands shook as I quietly slipped into the back of the van. The team sat frozen, eyes glued to their screens. No one spoke. I wasn’t sure if their headphones drowned out the noise or if they just didn’t care that I was back. I got the feeling none of them were thrilled to be here. With the fighting and territorial arguments Evan always talked about, I was amazed that this group was able to coalesce into a team, but so far, they were playing nice together.

The door creaked softly as Evan followed me in. I leaned closer to the nearest screen. I couldn’t look at him, not yet. He could read me too well. I didn’t want him to know how shaken up I really felt.

“Do you think he knows you were wired?” His voice was right beside me.

“If he knew I was wired, I’d be dead.” My eyes stayed locked on the screen, studying the GPS map and the little blue arrow moving through it. “He bought it. How’d you get the GPS on his car?”

“We didn’t – Keith hacked the one that’s built in.”

I nodded as if hacking a GPS and tracking a criminal were just normal parts of my life. This whole thing was insane. There were so many reasons I could have been killed tonight. If they had found the wire, if they had caught me spying on them through the crack in the wall when I stepped out of the meeting, if they had seen the surveillance van…there were too many ifs.

Evan put his hand on my shoulder. “Casey?” I reluctantly turned to meet his gaze. That look, those deep brown eyes full of concern – I almost came unglued. “Are you okay?”

I tried to tell him sure, I’m fine, I always risk my life by walking into meetings with murderous crime bosses. But my sarcasm couldn’t cut through the fear settling over me. I nodded. “Sure,” I whispered.

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Abandoned

This place gave her the creeps. She shivered as she walked up the stone steps, slick with moisture, and pulled her jacket tighter against the cold mist. It felt so lonely and empty here, like something out of a horror movie. No wonder they chose this for their meeting place.

She studied the shadows as she walked, fighting the urge to reach for her gun. It wouldn’t do any good. It wasn’t there. She was walking into this meeting with nothing – no gun, no wire, no phone. She was completely at their mercy. Alone. Abandoned. She shivered again, but this time it had nothing to do with the frigid air.

There was no other choice. If she didn’t finish this now, years of work would slip away, and the whole group would walk free. Two people had already died during the robberies – how many more would be killed if these men weren’t stopped? She was thankful this case was almost over. Tonight would be the last night of this charade she’d been living. It would all end with their arrests tomorrow. She just hoped it would end with her still breathing.

She reached the door, closing her eyes for a moment and praying for her survival. She raised her hand to knock, but froze at the sound of voices. She strained to hear.

“You’re going to regret it. Bringing her into this was a mistake.”

Watts. That was surprising. He was usually the obedient follower, never questioning Todd’s decisions. What brought this on?

“Then she’s my favorite mistake.”

Todd. Her heart dropped. He was the one she feared most. The way he looked at her turned her stomach. She didn’t have proof, but she suspected he was the one to pull the trigger in both of the group’s murders.

“Something’s not right about this job, Todd. Something bad is gonna happen.”

Todd laughed. “You’re too superstitious. Relax, it’s fine.”

She hesitated a few more seconds, then knocked, focusing on slowing her breathing and slipping deeper into character as she waited. The opening door brought her face to face with a .45 Glock. She didn’t blink. “Expecting someone else?”

Todd smirked, holstering the gun. “Does anything rattle you?”

She hoped he didn’t see her pounding heart or her trembling hands. “In my line of work, it takes a lot more than that.” She stood still as they searched her, trying to keep her mind off what was happening. “Satisfied?” She met Todd’s stare, hoping he didn’t see past her act.

“Ladies first.” He pulled a flashlight from his pocket and used it to point down the dark hallway. “I have a little surprise for you before we start. I think you’ll like it.”

Dread crept into her mind as she started slowly walking. She tried to push it aside. He stepped around her, pushing a door open. Her breath caught in her throat. The third member of Todd’s team lay facedown on the floor. “Congratulations – you’ve been promoted.”

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Exciting News!

I got some exciting news last week! A few weeks ago, Steven James, one of my favorite authors, held a flash fiction contest via Facebook and Twitter. The top ten would be published in Splickety magazine, a flash fiction magazine, and the winner would also receive an autographed copy of his newest book.

I was amazed and excited when I was this last week:

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It’s very exciting! It may be only 130 characters, but I won a fiction contest, and something I wrote will be published. It gives me a little more courage to chase my dreams…

Too Late?

She lost herself in the dancing flicker of the candlelight, her mind reaching back to a time when everything was right in her life. A smile slowly curved her lips. “Remember the bonfire at Blake’s house?” It was a tradition started by a classmate’s family – a bonfire the night before homecoming, part of a huge party for the entire community. Her smile faded as memories of the bonfire led to memories of the next night.

“Everything changed after that, didn’t it?” He seemed as mesmerized by the fire as she was. “I wish…if I could go back…” He shook his head. He didn’t need to continue. Neither of them needed words to share the guilt of that terrible night – the crash, the flames, the fear, the things that could never be undone.

“Standing there, that night by the fire, with you…that was the last time I really felt safe.” She pulled the worn quilt closer around her shoulders.

“You’re still safe. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”

“What are you going to do? There are people out there with guns and who knows what else, and they’re coming for us.” She shook her head. “They already have Faith. It’s just a matter of time until they catch up to us too.”

“We’ll keep running.” He edged closer to the small bit of warmth the candles provided. “We’ll find our way back. We’re just a few hours hike from a town – we can make it.

“That’s what we thought that night…that we could make it. That didn’t turn out so well, did it?”

They sat in silence for a long time. He struggled with questions he wasn’t sure he should ask, questions he’d kept inside so long. Finally, he broke the silence. “Do you ever think about us, wonder if maybe…if we had the chance, if we could try again?” He watched her, desperately hoping to see the same feelings struggling across her face.

“Whatever we had died the night of the accident.” She shook her head.

“Then why are you still wearing the ring?”

She knew exactly what he was talking about, but she couldn’t answer. She reached for the ring, hanging from a slender chain around her neck, fingering it as she had so many times through the years. She knew the answer, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. “We were kids,” she whispered, her voice choked with emotion. But she wanted to cry out, to tell him that she’d waited all through college, thinking every day that he would call or visit or do something, anything, to let her know they could still be together. Instead, he had stayed silent, and she had given up, lost in a sea of guilt and pain. A hot tear slipped down her cheek.

“I’m so sorry, for everything,” he whispered. “Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe we can still have a second chance.”

Misinterpretation

Another one from my original blog – you can read it and the comments here: http://amiswriting.blogspot.com/2012/10/write-on-edge-misinterpretation.html
His laugh was short and humorless.  “You’re out of your mind.  There’s no way – “  She held her breath when he paused – had he seen her?  Heard her?  She pressed her back closer against the wall, feeling the brick grabbing the back of her shirt and praying that the shadows were deep enough to keep her hidden.  “No, I can’t get it to you that fast.  Look, it’s imposs – “  He shook his head, glancing around, and lowered his voice when he answered.  “Do not threaten me.  You’ll get what you want, just give me – “  He muttered something under his breath as he slammed the phone closed.
He paused for a moment before flipping it back open and making a call.  “Yeah, it’s me.  Tonight…no, I know, but there’s no choice.  Two hours, like we planned.  Ditch anything that could give us away.”  He started walking further down the alley, a few steps closer to her.  She was sure her pounding heartbeat would give her away.  He was no more than ten feet away now.  He stopped next the dumpster and tossed the phone inside.  She watched him stand silently, tilting his head back toward the sky.  “What am I doing?” he mumbled.  He finally turned and walked slowly down the alley to the street.
She waited five minutes before she dared to step out the darkness and make her way back to her car.  So her suspicions were right – there was a leak in the department, and it was coming from her own team.
***
Two hours.  It wasn’t enough time, but he wasn’t about to let the past five years of work slip away.  He was finally about to bring in one of the city’s biggest drug lords.

Bought

I’m linking this up as my favorite post of 2013…not because it’s my best, but because it’s my first.  With “Bought,” I finally found the courage to follow my dream of writing fiction.  Despite the fact that I was shaking in my boots, I typed my story and linked it up to Write on Edge for the very first time, finally bringing to life the characters I’ve planned and dreamed about for years…

“Not everyone can be bought,” she said.

He studied her for a long moment before he replied.  When he finally spoke, his voice was soft, but left no doubts to the veiled threat underlying his words.  “Everyone has a price…but it may not have dollar signs in front of it.”

A tiny flicker in her eyes, the smallest tightening of her facial muscles – she controlled her emotions well, but he knew he’d made his point.  “So what’s your price, Detective?  Your parents still live here.  So does your sister – she’s a doctor, isn’t she?  At Presbyterian?  How does she like working in the E.R.?”  The flicker in her eyes grew to a glare of pure rage.  He had hit his mark.  “Now let’s try this again.  I need your help, and I’m willing to pay a high price for it – or take a higher price if you say no.”

She closed her eyes, took a slow, deep breath.  When she opened them, he could see that she was in control again.  He was  impressed, he must admit.  He could understand why she was climbing the ranks so quickly as the star homicide detective.  “What do you want?”

He took the envelope from his jacket and tossed it onto the table in front of her.  She glanced at it, then turned to him.  Their eyes locked as they fought a silent battle of wills.  Finally, she gave in, reaching for the envelope.  “You have time to go over the files on your own.  I’ll be in touch.”  He turned to leave, took a step, spun back.  “By the way, your sister is very photogenic.  I’m sure you’ll like the shots I took. They’re inside.  Take a look.”

She hesitated before slowly reaching inside the manilla envelope.  The papers rustled softly as she flipped through the half dozen shots of her older sister entering and leaving the hospital.  When she finished, she placed them gently on the table and stood, looking him in the eye, unafraid.  “If you touch her – ”

“You’ll what, Detective?  Come after me?  The FBI has been looking for me for two years.  I admire your loyalty, but don’t be stupid.  You’ll hear from me soon.”

He signed to his bodyguard to escort her out.  As she turned away, he picked up a sack of bills.  “The money is still available.”  She never looked back.  “You have 48 hours to get what I want, or I’ll pay your sister a visit.”  He let the money fall onto the table and walked out.