Huge Cup of Coffee
“Derek?” Travis called from the kitchen. “Get your lazy ass out of bed. Chief will be pissed if we are late again.”
I rolled my eyes and sighed. It had been six months since I had moved in with my best friend and partner at the department.Most of the time it seemed like nothing had changed. However other times it suddenly felt as if I had a parent.
I couldn’t blame Travis too much for that though.Having grown up an orphan he had, at a very young age, taken responsibility over his little sister. I didn’t know much about Cecilia. She was three years younger than Travis and me, making her twenty-four.
She had been involved in some court case and Travis had been a wreck until I assumed they won.Honestly, I didn’t feel it was my place to ask questions. I figured if Travis wanted to talk about it, he could, but I had never been on to pry.
I sighed again running my hand over my face, the thick facial hair scratching my palm. I knew I had to get up, but I already felt unprepared for the day in some way. I had no idea how unprepared I really was.
“I’m up!” I shouted back, throwing my legs over the side of the bed with a groan.
The sun still hadn’t risen but the cool light of the moon shone through the window. The dark wood floor and pale blue walls were illuminated by the silver light. The cool rays seemed to add a foreboding chill to the air.
I forced myself to stand before ambling towards the bathroom. After a quick shower, I combed through my shaggy light brown hair allowing it to fall over the right side of my undercut.Quickly, I put on a white t-shirt and standard issued pants. As I slid into my shoes, I was surprised to hear the doorbell ring.
“Can you get that?” Travis called out from the other bathroom.
I sighed but grabbed my uniform button down as I headed down the stairs. Yawning, I drug my heavy feet across the carpet. The bell rang again as I slid my arms into the sleeves of my shirt, ignoring the buttons.
“Yeah, yeah I’m coming.” I grumbled, wishing more than anything for a huge cup of black coffee.
I opened the door and froze taking in the scene in front of me. It wasn’t the cautious dark brown eyes meeting my own light green eyes for a fraction of a second before dropping to the ground. Nor was it the woman’s honey blonde hair that fell loosely in front of her face. It wasn’t even the small child who clung to her leg that stopped me in my tracks.
What drew me in was the black eye her hair had fallen to hide. It was her swollen and bloodied lip and right wrist that was swollen to at least twice it’s normal size. I let my trained eyes trail, hesitantly, to the young girl noticing immediately the gash in her forehead and blood in her straight blonde hair. Anger bubbled in my chest. The child couldn’t be more than four-years-old, yet she trembled and cowed at my gaze as she fought to hide from me.
“Is Travis here?” The woman asked, nervously taking a step backwards.
“Yeah, come in please.” I stepped forward out of the doorway.
“No,” She jerked away.
The little girl started to cry quietly. She clung to her mother’s leg and trembled visibly. Her bright blue eyes were so wide with fear they almost seemed to big for her face. Her small pink lips trembled despite being pressed into a firm line.
“Okay,” I stepped back inside, holding out my hands. “Okay, I’ll go get Travis.”
I ran to Travis’s room throwing the door open. He was fastening the last button of his perfectly pressed shirt. His room and appearance were as always perfect. Living in orphanages had made him a total neat freak.
“Seriously dude?” He started, stopping when he saw my expression. “What happened?”
His clean-shaven jaw stiffened, and light brown eyes tightened. His light brown hair was cropped military style. His already light complexion paled slightly.
“I think it’s your sister.” I tried to force my voice to be calm.
I failed. I had never seen Travis look afraid. However, as his expression slackened true terror filled his eyes. For a second, I was afraid he would faint.
“Tav?” I asked, but he bolted past, ignoring me.
I followed at a slower pace, allowing myself to imagine the Cecilia I had dreamt up from childhood stories. She had always starred as the stubborn, sassy, and fearless sidekick to all of Travis’s stupid plans. It was hard to imagine the timid girl on the step as that fiery child, but there was no denying it. Her facial structures and several other features were too close to Travis’s to be a coincidence.
I was sure that she was Cecilia. All I needed to know now is who I had to kill for hurting my best friend’s baby sister. Travis was the only family I had and I would do anything for him and his people.
“Cici?” Travis sounded breathless and somehow furious at the same time.
“Hey Tav…” Her response was something between embarrassed and nervous.
I leaned against the wall behind him and fought to remain stoic. Cecilia eyed me warily before returning her gaze to her brother. Travis’s shoulders seemed to relax when he noticed I had his back.
Travis sighed, sounding defeated. “When?”
“He showed up last night…” She trailed off tears brimming her eyes, “I called the police, but he ran.”
“Why didn’t you guys go to the hospital?” He snapped, sounding too harsh in my opinion.
The little girl whimpered, hiding farther behind her mother. Instincts I wasn’t aware I had made me stiffen protectively. As those petrified blue eyes met mine I wanted to place myself between the child and everything that scared her.
“And wait for him to find us there?” Cecilia snapped, pulling the girls trembling form closer. “I had to leave. I didn’t know where else to go.”
“Okay, okay…” Travis paused, sorting out his thoughts before crouching and reaching out for the child. “Let’s go, Skyler honey.”
The girl whimpered again burying her face into her mother. Pain flashed across Travis’s face as his niece cowed away from him. I could only imagine the hurt my best friend felt from the rejection.
“Where are we going?” Cecilia asked, seeming unsure.
“The hospital.” Despite his valiant effort, pain was still evident in Travis’s voice.
“Tav…” she started nervously.
“The department works through Dr. Smith. She won’t allow any information to go anywhere but my boss.” Travis cut her off desperately.
“I’ll go straight to work and talk with the chief then meet you guys at the hospital.” I offered.
Travis shot me a thankful glance. I was glad to finally have a job to do, but Cecilia looked at me incredulously. As if she wasn’t quite sure why I had dared to even speak. Her expression would have made me smile under different circumstances.
“Fine,” she finally relented, frowning nervously.
“Cici.” Travis said in a low, quiet tone. “I won’t let this happen again.”
Cecelia bit her lip and straightened her posture, nodding stiffly. Despite her bulletproof façade, tears filled her eyes threatening to spill over and her hands shook with nerves. I could only imagine the pain, fear and exhaustion she was feeling right now.
“I’ll go ahead and talk to the chief. I’m sure he’ll have plenty of questions I can’t answer, so I’ll pick up the paperwork.” I said suddenly feeling intrusive.
“No paperwork!” Cecilia said frantically.
“Thanks man.” Travis said, as he stepped out leading Cecilia to his car.
I followed them out all too aware of Cecilia glancing backwards regularly. Then I headed to my car and climbed in waiting for them to leave. As they pulled out Cecilia watched me through the window. Our eyes met and I forced a smile nodding in acknowledgement.