One Murder For Another

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Chapter 34

“Follow my finger please. There you go, just like that. This way. Now this way please.”

“Is she going to be ok?” Mina was impatient, her arms crossed tightly over her chest in anticipation of what the EMT might say and she only grew more tense at each sigh he heaved.

He turned off the flashlight he had been waving in front of Mrs. Mendes’s face and turned skeptically to Mina instead. “She inhaled a lot of smoke in there, and her lungs and airways are extremely inflamed and swollen. The fluid in her lung’s air sacs is preventing enough oxygen from flowing into her organs.”

“So-so is she going to-to have to have surgery.”

“No, not necessarily, but she will need to be intubated until we can get her to the hospital and onto a ventilator.”

“A-a ven-ventilator?”

The man let out another heavy sigh that made a chill rush down Mina’s entire body, and she clutched her hands closer to her chest as she watched the man’s face slowly fall. “Do-do you have anyone you can call, any family members or friends that you could stay with for a while?”

“How long is a while?”

“Your mother is going to need a lot of rest for the next couple of weeks if she wants to fully recover, you’re going to have to give her some space.” he replied, still ignoring her direct questions and leaving her more and more queasy in her stomach until she thought she might vomit.

“Space” she repeated quietly under her breath, her gaze falling to the dry and burnt grass beneath her. “Right.”

“I’m going to go grab one of my coworkers and when I come back we can get you ready for transport.” Both Mina and her mom nodded in unanimous silence, and the EMT gave them both a short curt smile as he began to make his way back across the damaged and trashed front lawn over to the hurdle of police officers chattering away in a corner.

“Did you hear that mom? You’re going to be ok. You’re going to go to the hospital and they’re going to take care of you and you’re-” Mina broke off at the sound of soft whimpers shaking through her mother’s body and she immediately jumped to take a seat next to her on the back of the ambulance, throwing her arms around her mother’s shaking body.

“Mom? Mom, it’s going to be ok.” Mina rubbed her hands in a circle across her mom’s back in an attempt to comfort her devolving figure but, truth be told, she wished she could join her. She wanted to cry until her body couldn’t produce anymore tears.

“It’s going to be ok, I promise.” Mina sung and a muffled cry met her in response. “Everything is going to be ok. We’re going to be ok.”

“This is all my fault.”

“What?” Mina exclaimed aloud, lifting her head from where it rested on her mom’s shivering shoulders.

“Of course it’s not your fault. None of this your fault, if anything it’s mine! I’m the one who brought Khalil into our life. I’m the one who let him- let him manipulate me into thinking that everyone else around me was lying and that he was the only one who cared about me. I was being stupid, and I should have listened to you, but I didn’t. I didn’t listen to you and now our house is gone and dad is-is g-gone and-”

“No, sweetheart.” she shook her head “You don’t understand.” She didn’t understand. “Khalil didn’t do any of this because he was angry with you. He did it because of what I did- because of what your father and I did years ago.” Mina tensed at her mother’s words, remembering something Khalil had sad at the hospital, something about how Mina’s parents had purposely set fire to their own estate. Mina had assumed him a lier, he head lied to her about everything else after all, but suddenly Mina couldn’t help but wonder how much truth his words had contained.

“This wasn’t a random attack bug, he was after revenge.”

“At the hospital Khalil said- he said that the estate fire all those years ago- he said that it wasn’t an accident.” Mina was on the verge of hyperventilating now and she internally prayed for her mother to tell her that she was being ridiculous, to tell her that everything that had come out of Khalil’s mouth had been nothing more than petty lies told to make her anxious.

“He said that you and d-dad had set it on purpose, but I told him he was a lier. I told him that you and dad would never do something like that. You would never do something like that, right mom?”

She wouldn’t meet her eyes anymore, and Mina felt her heart leap out of her chest. “Mom?” she questioned, but a part of her didn’t want her mom to answer, a part of her didn’t want to hear the words that would fall from her lips next. “Please.”

“He wasn’t lying Mina.”

“Oh my god!” Mina exclaimed, both her hands leaving her mother to encase her mouth instead. “Oh my god! No! No, mom please tell me-please tell me-”

“The fire was set on purpose, but you have to believe me when I tell you no one was meant to die Mina Joyce. Khalil’s parent’s weren’t supposed to die.”

“You-you lied” she was on her feet now, pacing back in front of the open ambulance in awe. “You lied to- to me, you lied to- to press, you lied to everyone. You lied to everyone!”

“Mina please, you don’t- you don’t know the whole story. You don’t know what really happened.” Mina couldn’t admit it aloud, but she was starting to sympathize with Khalil again, she was starting to realize that maybe he wasn’t as crazy as everyone thought he was. “If what had really happened got out- if people found out that-”

“You mean if people found out that you lied!”

“Mina-”

“You mean if people found out that we’re murderers!”

“Mina! Please, you don’t understand. You don’t realize-”

“You’re sick! You’re just as sick as he is!”

“Hey? Hey, what’s going on? What’s wrong? What happened?” Mina wasn’t sure where Beau had come from, but questions seemed to fall from his mouth like a never ending river, and Mina couldn’t bring herself to answer any of them. She was choking on her own confusion and tears in the back of her throat as she, once again, found herself stumbling into his chest for the second time that night.

“MJ?” Noah’s voice joined the fray, her gaze trailing back and forth from Mina’s shocked face to her mother’s guilty one. “MJ.” she called again.

“Mrs. Mendes?” A third, unrecognizable voice, boomed through the air behind them and they all turned to find themselves eye to eye with the shortest burliest cop they had ever seen, a pair of silver handcuffs grasped tightly in his hands and a sorrow filled look written across his face. Beau pulled Mina backwards by her arms, Noah stumbling along beside them as they watched Mrs. Mendes’s face fall yet again.

“Ye-yes?”

“You’re under arrest for charges of insurance fraud and arson.” Mina gripped Beau’s hands around her arms, digging her fingernails into his skin as she attempted to squeeze back the tears forming in her eyes.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” But Mina’s mom was completely ignoring the officer cuffing her, her eyes locked with her daughters as she pleaded.

“Mina, you don’t-you don’t understand.”

You have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

“Mina Joyce.” her mom called, but Mina couldn’t bring herself to look her in the eyes, instead pretending to become interested in the dry and brittle smoking grass underneath her. “Mina please!”

“They set the fire.” Mina didn’t even bother to turn around to face her friends as she spoke, her body shivering with emotions she couldn’t find the ability to suppress much longer. “Khalil wasn’t lying at the hospital, my parents are murderers.”

“MJ, I’m-I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I know-” Noah spoke, but Mina wasn’t interested in anything she had to say. In fact, she was interested in anything anybody had to say. Every time anybody talked to her, anytime anybody opened their mouth around her, all that came out were lies, and she was so gullible that she always believed it all. ”

“Yeah, we’ll apologies aren’t going to bring Asher or my dad back. Apologies aren’t going to make Chris walk again.”

“MJ” Beau turned her around now so that she was forced to face both he and Noah’s confused faces. “He hurt us both too, we know what you’re going through, we know it’s painful-”

“Then you know that I’m not just going to sit back and let him get away with this.” Mina spoke through gritted tear, her tears and anguish quickly turning to frustration and anger at everything that Khalil had put her through, at everything that his selfishness had caused.

“MJ.” Noah protested, though her disapproval went in one ear and out the other.

“I know my parent’s tore his life apart, and a part of me feels guilty that I was partially responsible for that, but another part of me wants to rip him apart limb from limb.”

“MJ.” Beau griped this time.

“I can’t let him get away this!” she tugged her jacked tighter around her in contempt.

“No one is saying you have to, but if you talk to the police then they can-”

“No” Mina shook her head at Beau’s suggestion, quickly shutting it down. “No, I want to be the one to bring him in. I want to be the one to kill him.”

A/N: THE ENDDDDDD

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