“Can I come over for a little while?” Jenna asked as she held the ice pack to her face.
“Sure,” Cara said.
Jenna walked the few blocks from her house to Cara’s with a hoodie covering her head. Cara was waiting by the door when Jenna walked up to her porch. She took one look at Jenna’s haunted eyes, grabbed Jenna’s hand, and pulled her into the house.
Cara pushed Jenna’s hoodie back away from her face to reveal a fresh bruise on Jenna’s cheek. “Jesus,” Cara growled.
“It’s not that bad,” Jenna said.
Taking Jenna’s hand and pulling her through the house, Cara took Jenna to her bedroom and dug out the cream she kept in her purse for this occasion. “What was it for this time? Did you breathe the wrong way?”
“No, I told him that I wanted to run on the track team,” Jenna said and sat still as Cara gently cupped her face with her soft hand and put the cream that helped her bruises heal on her face.
“What is his thing with you and sports?” Cara asked as she focused on putting the cream on the bruised area.
“He thinks that being in sports makes girls become dykes,” Jenna said. “I guess because I’m already so tall and lanky he thinks I’m riding that line and I’ll cross over if I play sports.”
Cara didn’t say anything for so long that Jenna was afraid to break the silence. She turned Jenna’s face to apply the cream to an older bruise from last week that Jenna got wrestling Cara for the last Diet Coke in Cara’s refrigerator. Jenna could see the look of fury in Cara’s eyes. Cara finally turned those bright cobalt blue eyes to Jenna’s, and that’s when Jenna saw they were glistening with tears. Cara stood and stepped away. “That should fix you up for now. We’ll put some more on tomorrow at school.”
Jenna looked up at Cara who was standing with her arms crossed over her chest and stared at the door. “What’s wrong?” Jenna asked.
“Nothing,” Cara said. “You want something to drink?”
Standing and moving in front of Cara, Jenna asked again, “What’s wrong?”
Cara wouldn’t meet her eyes. “Nothing.”
“Bullshit, Cara,” Jenna said and leaned down to try to catch Cara’s eyes, but Cara turned away.
Jenna caught Cara by the shoulders and turned her back to face her. “Hey,” Jenna said and put two fingers under Cara’s chin and tilted her face and she finally looked up at Jenna. Now the tears were slowly trickling out of the corners of Cara’s eyes. “Tell me what’s going on.”
Cara didn’t say anything. She lifted up on her tiptoes and planted her lips gently on Jenna’s. Jenna was too stunned to react. When Jenna didn’t say anything, Cara started to turn away, but Jenna stopped her. She stared into Cara’s eyes for a long time reading the look of love that had always been there, but this time it was more intense. Jenna leaned down and kissed Cara fully on the lips. The sensation that flowed through Jenna could not be properly described. She felt the white heat of electricity shoot through every nerve in her body and then return to her heart to make it feel like it was going to burst.
Jenna leaned her forehead against Cara’s. “I’ve wondered what that would be like,” Jenna said quietly.
Cara took Jenna’s hand and entwined their fingers. “Me, too.”
* * *
When Dana returned in the morning to relieve Ada, she asked, “Anything new?”
“A lot of moaning,” Ada said and got up and stretched. Her pressed slacks and blouse now wrinkled from sitting for so long. “The doctor came by and checked in on her this morning. He told the nurse to work with the pain medicine and try to get her to wake up. I think she may have been out for all this time because they were keeping her sedated.”
Dana shook her head. “I told the doctor that we needed to talk to her as soon as possible.”
“Well, maybe it was better for her to stay asleep to heal a little before we start on her,” Ada reasoned.
“I suppose that’s true,” Dana said. “Michael Matthews bonded himself out of jail last night, so we need to get her on her feet and out of circulation. He knows he did enough damage to require medical attention. For all we know, he already had the people he’s working with trying to find her.”
“I’ll get with some people in the tech department and have them look for searches for Jenna at hospitals in and around Evansville. Maybe we’ll get lucky and be able to trace someone back to the big fish,” Ada said.
“I’ve never been good with luck,” Dana said. “Right now, Jenna Matthews is the only person we know of that can tie Michael Matthews to a missing girl who was murdered. If that girl has the same tattoo, we can prove that Matthews is involved with the human trafficking ring out of Cincinnati. Defoe is convinced we’ll be able to squeeze Matthews enough to get him to cough up some people higher up in the food chain of that organization, but we have to find that body, and we have to keep Jenna alive so she can identify it as the one in Michael Matthews’ freezer.”
“So far there’s been nothing on the body,” Ada said. “I don’t know how Matthews got rid of it so quickly, but we have pretty much scoured all of Evansville trying to find it. Where does one stick a dead body in a body bag in less than two hours’ time?”
“He had to have had help,” Dana said. “But the body will turn up sooner or later.”
“Hopefully before Michael Matthews, or some of his associates, find Jenna,” Ada said. She grabbed her leather bag and slung it over her shoulder. “I’ll see you later.”
Dana gave her a wave before walking over and looking down at Jenna. “You poor young woman. When you wake up, you are going to be in a lot of pain and find out that your world has been turned upside down. Please wake up soon. You are not safe here.”