Decree of Hope

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Kailee

I stopped at Taco Cabana on the way home and ordered fat food: enchiladas, guac, queso, and the biggest Coke they had. Not diet Coke either. When I got home, I washed it down with a margarita straight from my daddy’s liquor cabinet.

Abe’s presence infested this entire house. He’d held my hair back when I puked on the front porch. No guy had ever attempted that before, and I probably wouldn’t have let anyone else. He’d sobbed into my hair as we sat on the front step the day he told me about his dad. He’d kissed me in the driveway, consoled me in the living room, held me in my bed. The whole place was tainted.

And so far he hadn’t called.

I took my food to the back porch. It was the only place I could stand to be. I ate until my stomach hurt and shoved the rest of the food into the trash can before going in. I checked my phone again. He hadn’t called, but I had a new email. I knew without checking my email it wasn’t from Abe. He had never emailed me. Still, I checked. It was a new blog comment. The fusion post from earlier kept getting hits. He’d even invaded my blog. The one place in the world no one could find me, and he was there.

I dragged myself to the living room and streamed Netflix. I figured I could do this until I fell asleep. After midnight, my phone finally rang. His name lit up the faceplate, and my heart skipped a beat. Holding the phone in front of my face, I contemplated answering it. But I ignored it like I told him I would and prayed he’d call back. Act like he cared.

He didn’t.

The next morning was worse. I fell asleep in my clothes on the couch. I woke to banging at the front door. I hoped it was Abe so I could slam the door in his face. But I opened it to find two grownups. One was as old as my dad with graying hair, but the other wasn’t much older than Abe, and he was Mid-Eastern, too. I tucked my disheveled hair behind my ears trying to look presentable. I wondered for a second if I should ask what they wanted, or if they would tell me.

Finally, the old guy spoke. “I’m Detective McGarrett from the Austin Police Department, and this is my partner Mohammed.”

Oh shit! Please don’t come inside. Last night’s tequila bottles are still spread across the floor, and I have no idea if Jackson came home. That’s an MIP waiting to happen. “Umm ... hi.”

“Can we come in?” Detective McGarrett asked.

Think, Kailee. You’re Rex Hill’s daughter. He’s made a fortune effing with cops. I smiled my homecoming queen smile and said, “I’m not allowed to have strangers in unless my daddy or brother is home.”

“We’re cops,” Mohammed said.

I shrugged. “Bad guys don’t always wear black.”

“Well, we’ll have to talk to you here for a few minutes,” McGarrett said. “When is the last time you were in Austin?”

“Uhh—I don’t know. I guess a few weeks ago. What is this about?”

“What were you there for?” he asked.

“Shopping.”

“You haven’t made eye contact with Mohammed. Does something about him bother you?”

“Why would I look at Mohammed while talking to you?”

“Well, you could talk to him.”

“But he hasn’t said anything.” This conversation was getting weird.

“What day were you in Austin last, again?” Mohammed said. “I need to make a note of it.”

I shook my head. “I told you a few weeks ago. I don’t remember the date. It was a Saturday. We were shopping.”
“We?”

“My boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—well—it’s complicated. We were shopping.”

“Where?” Mohammed asked.

“Goodwill.”

Mohammed and McGarrett exchanged a look. “You live in a nice house to be shopping at Goodwill,” McGarrett said.

I sighed. They were grilling me, and now I had to tell them something I didn’t tell close friends. “I do a fashion blog. Since I have to put together a different outfit every week, it’s a good place to pick up pieces. It’s also a good way to find vintage pieces.”

“Where were you at three a.m. on Monday, April sixteenth?” Mohammed asked.

“Probably bed.”

Jackson’s truck pulled into the drive, and I wasn’t sure if this was a good thing or a bad thing. I was happy to have someone else here, but I thought they were looking for him, not me. And if he got out of the truck drunk or high, I didn’t know what would go down.

“You sure you weren’t in Austin?” Mohammed asked.

Jackson’s truck door swung open, and he stepped out of it. I looked behind Mohammed to where my brother walked up the drive.

“There you go not looking at him again,” McGarrett said. “Does it bother you my partner is Muslim?”

“What? That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Kailee, what is going on here?” Jackson asked.

“Umm … these two men are from the Austin Police Department. They have a lot of questions for me, and the old dude seems to think I have a problem with Muslims.”

“Get inside and quit talking,” Jackson ordered as he climbed the stairs to the front porch. Then he said to the police, “Get off my property and don’t come back without a warrant. You don’t spend your life as Rex Hill’s son without learning a thing or two.”

I retreated into the house and stuck my finger in the Valencia blind to see what happened outside. Jackson stood on the porch until the cops drove away.

Then he stormed through the front door. “What did they ask you?”

“When the last time I went to Austin was and where I was on April sixteenth.”

“Anything else?”

“That’s it.”

“Don’t talk to the police again.”

“Jackson, what is this about? You’ve got to tell me why they keep calling me and stopping by. I know you know.”

“I don’t know, Kailee. My recommendation is you not talk to them.”

“Damnit, Jackson! They’re after me for something I didn’t do. Tell me what you did, so I can at least know what I’m up against.”

“I didn’t do anything. I promise, Kailee.”

He took the stairs to his room two at a time. I let my body fall into the couch, buried my head in a pillow, and cried because my life was falling apart. I didn’t know what to do. But whatever they were upset about, it had to be serious. Why else would they drive to Killeen to chat? It made no sense. If the dozens of voicemails weren’t enough, now I understood. This was serious. I picked up my phone to dial the last person in the world I wanted to ask for help, but the only person I had to talk to.

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