BENNETT - Part 2 of the HMB Doggie Series

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Chapter 13

Unfortunately the window repair guys can’t come until next week to fix my window so I had to go out and pick up another tarp. I’ve just finished my third Pollack-like painting, the last of the collection. The technique is a little harder to do since I’m trying to avoid standing on my feet too much, but irregardless, they have turned out better then I expected. Betsy is going to be pleased when she comes by later to pick them up. The show’s starting sooner then expected so I’m glad I kept on it, despite the recent events.

My energy level isn’t quite what it should be but it’s getting better. I use this as an excuse to stop early for the day. I wash out my paintbrushes and clean off my palette and go to sit with Bennett on the daybed.

I stroke his coat and gaze out the window, letting my thoughts wander.

You took everything from me.

Who have I taken anything from recently? I’ve done nothing but paint since I moved here. Maybe he’s confusing me with someone else?

I disregard that thought the second I think it. No, this guy knows exactly who I am and he’s out for blood.

I look around my room, feeling ever grateful that my cute little house has a weird spell protecting it. I give the guy props for his creativity. The rock through the window to deliver his note was actually pretty genius. I do remember in my dreams that my feet were bleeding and glass was all over the floor. I should have anticipated he’d do something like that, but then again my stupid brain doesn’t put anything together anymore.

My hand stills on Bennett’s coat. He looks over at me.

I stare around my room, taking in every detail. My room. My house.

My scalp starts to tingle.

The only reason I could afford this place was because of the lawsuit.

He was definitely someone I took everything from.

Welcome home, bitch.

“No. Freaking. Way,” I breathe.

I shoot off the bed and beeline for my phone, completely ignoring the protests from my feet.

I search for Mr. Cokenias’s number. He was my lawyer throughout the duration of the trial and he proved to be not only a brilliant man but an ethical and honest one as well. He’s sent me a few emails over the months since the settlement, making sure I was okay.

I find his number and wait impatiently as it rings once, twice, three times.

“Frank here,” comes his baritone voice. That voice has intimidated a lot of people over the years, I’m sure. If I was on the receiving end of his wrath I would have been quaking in my boots.

“Frank, hey there. It’s Fu, er, Cindy. Cindy Lacy.”

“Cindy! Hi there, doll! How’s everything going? You enjoying living on the coast?”

“Yes, it’s exactly what I needed,” I say, genuinely meaning it even though this is the last thing I want to talk about.

“How’s the body? Headaches?” When Frank met me I was a busted up hot mess. I think that alone was enough for him to take the case.

“Body feels good. Leg still gets a little stiff if I sit too long but luckily this town begs for walking. The headaches are touch and go. Had a particularly nasty one a few days ago after an incident.” I hope this spurs his curiosity.

“Incident? What kind of incident?” Bingo.

“Someone threw a rock through my front window. There was a letter attached to it,” I pause, “Listen, the reason I called is because I’m wondering if Ed Wiler has been released from jail.” I haven’t said his name in over eight months and I don’t want to ever say it again.

“Yes, he was,” Frank says, his baritone somehow going even lower, “He’s on probation for five years and can’t leave San Jose, however that doesn’t mean he won’t if he’s moving against you. I don’t see why he would though. He was the idiot with a blood alcohol level of 0.11.”

“True…but I was also the one that sued him for 2.1 million dollars. He was not a happy camper after that.” I’ve tried to block out the daggers he shot me when they hauled him away but now they come rushing back in full force.

“I can do a little looking around for you, if you want,” and that right there is why this guy is on my A-list, even if he is a lawyer, “See where he’s working, where he’s living…stuff like that.”

“That would be great, thank-” something catches, “Wait, working? Didn’t he own some big business?”

“His shareholders bought him out after the accident. They didn’t think he represented the company standard anymore.”

“Oh,” is all I can say.

“Sit tight, Cindy. I’ll start asking around and I’ll be in touch with you soon. In the meantime, be safe, don’t go anywhere alone…maybe get a dog,” he adds with a small chuckle.

“The dog part I have taken care of,” I say.

“Good. Talk to you soon.”

I’m just about to click off when I hear, “Cindy! Cindy! Hold on!”

I return the phone to my ear, “I’m here…what’s up?”

“What did the note say?”

“Oh, uh, it said, “You took everything from me. Now I’m going to take everything from you. Welcome home, bitch.” Not something I want to read ever in my life, ever again.”

“That’s not good…thank you for the information. I’ll call soon.” He hangs up on me but I don’t miss the inkling of concern laced through his words. That just makes me believe I’ve finally taken a step in the right direction.

I go to my nanny cam feed and find the two videos I have of him; the first one and the one where he busts out my window. I try to remember what Ed looked like in the courtroom. I don’t remember much. Decent-looking guy. Small pot belly. White-ish hair. But the one thing I do recall with certainty was that those eyes that shot daggers at me were green.

My first dream showed me a guy with green eyes.

So not only did I sue Ed for over two million dollars, I also put him in jail, on probation and the cherry to top the shit-sundae: He lost his company.

Yeah…that’s a pretty good vendetta right there.

Never mind that it’s only three in the afternoon…I need a freaking drink.

Betsy has come and gone with my collection. She was ecstatic, which made it easier for me to pretend that everything was perfect in paradise.

Now Keith and I are sitting in my living room, sharing a bottle of wine while Bennett gums on a rawhide. God, those things are disgusting.

I texted him after I got off the phone with Frank, telling him I think I just had a breakthrough lightbulb moment. Lucky for me, Keith has a pretty flexible work schedule and was able to leave the office and come right over. After some comfort sex we changed into our comfy clothes, him in his sweats and me in my polka dot onesie. He ordered us pizza and now we’re sipping wine while we wait for it. I’ve also texted Kim. She’s closing up shop early to come over.

“So let me get this straight,” Keith takes a sip of wine, “This Ed character is out of jail and no one told you about it?” He’s keeping his temper in check, but only by a thread.

“Why would they tell me? It’s not like he was actively trying to kill me. He just made a stupid decision and I got caught in the crosshairs.”

“It still seems wrong to me,” he grumbles. I can’t help but smile at how disgruntled this makes him. I hear Bennett growl over his rawhide…I guess he agrees with Keith.

“Either way, at least now I have something to go on, someone to watch out for.” I should be more concerned that a powerful man with lots of influence is trying to rape and kill me, but I’m not. That’s one thing I can thank my damaged brain for…instant blinders.

“I think you shouldn’t be so cavalier about this, cutie,” Keith takes my hand in his and starts kissing my fingertips, “If anything happens to you…” his voice trails off and a storm starts to brew in his eyes. His jaw starts twitching.

I release his hand and gently cup his chin so he’ll look at me. “Hey, nothing is going to happen to me, okay?” Do I really believe this? I’m not sure.

“But you’re dreams are holding true, Fu…this butt-plug does, in fact, catch you, remember?”

I scrunch up my face. He’s got a good point there.

“What the fuck did I miss?!” Kim bursts through the front door. Her hair is a wild mess framing her beautiful face and if I didn’t know any better I’d say she was ready to strap someone to a table and disembowel them.

She grabs my glass as she plunks down in one of the chairs and takes a hearty gulp. She belches softly, daintily wipes her mouth and hands me my glass back. “Okay…catch me up.”

I take a deep breath, “I think it’s Ed Wiler doing this to me.”

Kim’s eyes grow round, “What the ass?! How do you know? What happened to make you think that? Stop smiling! Seriously…why are you smiling?!”

“‘What the ass?’ What kind of expression is that?”

“I got it from a movie…thought I’d try it out.”

“I like it. I’m gonna have to use that,” I say thoughtfully.

“Oh my God. Why are you avoiding the question? Why is she avoiding the question?” Kim glares at Keith. He does the appropriate thing and heads for the bathroom.

“Kim, chill out,” I laugh, “I was just thinking today and suddenly Ed came up as someone who would possibly hold a serious grudge against me.”

“Why are you so calm about this?!”

“THAT’S WHAT I SAID!” Keith hollers.

I roll my eyes, “Listen…I’ve already called Mr. Cokenias. He’s going to do some looking around for me,” I pause as Keith comes back and snuggles up next to me, “So get this…we’re all aware that I sued Ed and sent him to jail, yes?” Kim gives me the universal “move it along” gesture. “Well, what I didn’t know was that the shareholders in his company bought him out,” I pause while they both digest this.

“Oh crap,” they say in unison.

“Yeah,” I sit back and sip my wine, “I literally took everything from him. I can see why he’d be pissed.”

“But doesn’t the law revoke your license for drunk driving? He wouldn’t be able to just drive here in the middle of night and terrorize you,” Kim gets off the couch to retrieve her own glass of wine.

“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a partner,” Keith says darkly, “Someone to chauffeur him around.”

“What about probation?”

“As long as he checks in with his officer at the appointed time, I don’t think anyone is the wiser,” I say.

“Well…this just went from bad to worse in the length of a cunt hair,” Kim growls.

“Kim! Jesus!”

She flutters her hand at me, like her description of the situation wasn’t totally inappropriate. Keith is silently laughing. Bennet “woofs,” his tongue hanging out of his mouth like he’s laughing as well.

Something vibrates from Kim’s purse. She rushes over, glass in hand, and retrieves her cell phone, “It’s Drew…hold on a sec.” She swipes the screen and steps into my studio for some privacy.

“When do you think you’ll hear back from Frank?” Keith asks as he starts rubbing my foot, careful to not rub too hard over the healing cuts. Bennett comes over and sits right in front of me, prime property for some scratches and a few nose licks.

I leisurely stroke his broad chest and sigh, “I don’t know. It could be a few days, a week, a few weeks…Frank is good but if Ed is flying under the radar because he’s up to something shady who knows.”

“This doesn’t sit well with me, Fu,” Bennett “woofs” his agreement, “Anything could happen to you.”

“It won’t,” I say, only half believing it, “I have the house, a proven protector. I have Bennett, who is the bravest little boy in the whole world,” I coo over at him and he “woofs” again, smiling broadly. Clearly he believes this as well. “And I have you. I know you would never let anything happen to me,” I smile teasingly, “You’re too much of a control freak.”

“Damn straight I am,” Keith involuntarily puffs his chest.

“And you have me,” Kim bellows as she walks back into the room, sticking her phone in the side pocket of her purse, “I’ll burn in Lucifer’s barn before I let anything happen to you.”

“Lucifer has a barn?”

“He has everything else, so why not?”

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