Ken was standing in the doorway, dressed in scrubs, giving me a weird look. “What are you doing, standing there so awkwardly?”
I had to remain calm.
“I was just making breakfast.” I said, and then a little louder, “KENNETH, if you were going to come home EARLY, why didn’t you call me? I would have made breakfast ready!”
“Why are you screaming at the top of your lungs? I’m right here and I can hear you just fine.” He said, obviously irritated from a twenty hour shift.
“Well, thought you were going to fall asleep any minute. Just making sure you’re awake.” I said.
He eyed the half eaten plate of eggs on on the table. “Sometimes you act really strange, Riley, did you know that?”
I tried not to take offense to that. “How would you like your eggs?”
“Scrambled, if you can. And thanks. I’ll just go get a shower first. I smell like a fucking animal farm.” He said, slipping off his coat and then stripping out of the blue uniform t-shirt.
He started walking towards the bathroom, when I called out to him loudly. “KEN, take as long as you want IN THE SHOWER. Stay there FOR THIRTY-MINUTES or ONE HOUR. No hurry at all!”
“I’m sure I could have heard you if I was four blocks away.” That said, closing closed the door behind him. Next thing, I heard the sound of the shower turning on.
I sighed and hastily prepared the scrambled eggs, the way Ken always preferred and placed the breakfast on the table after which I took Jack’s half eaten breakfast plate into my bedroom. Jack was standing behind the door, just in case Ken walked into my room. I kept the door ajar. I wanted to be aware in case Ken decided to end his shower quickly. Ken mostly spent a long time in the bathroom, especially when he’s had a long shift.
Jack was giving me one of his sweet smiles. I punched him playfully in the ribs. “What are you smiling at?”
“Wondering how I got so lucky this time.” He said, touching my hair. “You’re like a mama bear to him. It’s really cute in a maternal way.”
“We only had ourselves to look out for each other after our parents died. Ken thinks it’s his duty to take care of me but I end up babying him most of the time and its irritates him.”
“I like that quality about you, Riley. You’re always giving, and you never expect anything in return.”
I laughed. “You make me sound like a saint which I’m not.”
“Do you have dirty thoughts about me?” He asked blatantly.
“All the damn time.” I confessed.
“Hmm, I’d love to hear about those dirty thoughts someday.” Jack said and shoveled down the fried eggs.
“And what are your thoughts like?” I asked.
“I have dirty thoughts about you, too, but mine are probably filthier compared to yours.”
I had goosebumps rise at the nape of my neck. I scratched my back feeling the blush creep into my cheeks. “Really? Explain it to me in detail.”
“As much as I’d love to exchange filthy thoughts about each other, and even demonstrate it to you, I think it’s best that I leave right now before your brother walks out of the shower and catches me hiding in his sisters bedroom. Not really in a mood to test a brother’s wrath. I’d be dead before I even stood for trail.”
I gave him a weak smile. He was trying to make the situation light by making a joke but we both knew our hearts were sinking. It hadn’t even occurred to me that he would leave so soon. Did I expect to keep Jack safely tucked in my closet? Besides, if Ken found out that Jack was here, he’d blow a gasket.
“I want to give you something.” Jack said and produced a piece of jewelry from his wallet.
Upon inspection, I realized it was a brooch. A very beautiful brooch with intricate design in the shape of a butterfly. It was embedded with glimmering blue and emerald stones. It was so pretty and vintage, something that I’d see in a jewelry store and only dream of buying it one day when I became rich.
“I want you to have this.” Jack said.
Certainly he wouldn’t go as far as to buy it for me, considering he was in a tight position himself.
“It looks really expensive.” I said.
“It was my mother’s favorite, Riley.” He said, still holding the jewelry out to me. “I know that I’m being too sentimental.”
I shook my head. “You loved your mother.” I took the jewelry from him. “It’s so beautiful, Jack. Are you sure you want to keep it with me?”
Jack chuckled. “It’s yours.”
He closed his large palm over it. “She told me to give this to the woman I loved, and I want you to have it.”
“Oh, Jack.” I was moved to tears. My height barely surpassed his chest; I went up on my toes and kissed his cheek. “Will you be okay?” I asked, although I knew the answer to it.
Of course, he won’t.
“I’ll be fine, Riley.” He said. “I want to properly apologize to you for what I said about your brother. I threatened you with his life, and that was wrong of me. I wanted to be out of the asylum and it was the only thing that I could think of at that time to get out. Just know that, I would never hurt you or anyone you care about. I’m really sorry.”
I nodded. “I forgive you, Jack.”
“Where will you go?”
“I don’t know but I’ll survive.” He assured me.
“If you need anything, I’m always here for you.” Then I remembered something, walked to the wardrobe and retrieved some money out of the handbag.
Jack looked at the dollar bills and back at me. “Riley—”
“Take the money.” I told him.
He shook his head. “I can’t, Cotton-Candy. I know you need it too.”
“Not as much as you do. Trust me, we’ll be fine. Take the money, Jack.”
He probably was in dire need of cash because he took the dollar bills and pocketed it. “Thanks. I’ll pay you back.”
“Jack, I hope you don’t mind my saying.”
“Your real father, Antonio. Well, I was just thinking. What if Brady wasn’t the one who sent those people to kill your Mom, but Antonio? I know it sounds crazy but there’s an aspect that we should consider that maybe Antonio got angry about your mom not leaving Brady for him and decided to take revenge.”
Jack stared at me for a moment before saying. “It can’t be, Riley. Antonio was a detective. He was a cop.”
That left no room for argument.
“I need to see Ezra and find out what he’s up to.”
“What if he’s the one murdering people?” I asked.
“Then I’ll have to take drastic measures.” Jack said without hesitation.
There wasn’t a need for him to spell it out beyond what he’s said. Drastic measures only meant one thing. If push came to shove, Jack would kill his own brother no matter how painful it would be for him.
I heard the shower go off. Jack and I both turned towards the sound. “I have to go.” Jack said hastily.
I caught his hand in mine. I’d never seen Jack get serious so I knew this was goodbye. His dark eyes bore into mine, conveying a lot of things that he didn’t wish to speak.
“If I get out of this alive, I will find you. If I don’t, well, Riley, I want you to move on.”
Jack’s expressions told me he’d made up his mind and nothing that I would say was going to change it. He was really stubborn that way. We stared at each other like it was the last time and I hated this feeling.
“Whatever Ezra tells you, don’t believe him.”
I gave him a nod. Throwing a quick glance at the bathroom door, I went up on my tiptoes, but he was still so tall. “Kiss me.”
“Close your eyes,” He whispered. “And don’t cheat, Cotton-Candy.”
I closed my eyes and waited. His lips pressed warmly against mine, and then more aggressively, his strong hand snaked around my waist as he pulled me against his body. My fingers brushed his silky dark locks, holding him in place. He kissed me passionately and I heard him groan deep in his throat and that gave me encouragement to deepen the kiss and then he ended it abrubtly. He’d stopped kissing me.
“Don’t open your eyes.” He whispered.
Jack wasn’t holding me in his arms anymore. He let go of my hand. I stood there in the suffocating silence of the room.
“Riley, what are you doing with your eyes closed?” I heard Ken’s voice and I opened my eyes.
He was gone.
I spent the next day searching through pages and pages online about any information that I could find on Ezra but nothing seemed to hint to his violent nature. He seemed to be the only man in the family that had a clean page. There were no records of previous assaults, encounters with the law or anything remotely scandalous so how was it that a golden boy had turned out to be a killer?
Ironically, Jack was the center of all controversies. Each and every tabloid had given a detailed account of Jack tarnishing the family name. With Jack’s IQ being higher than the average as stated in the websites, it was said he was intelligent and had successfully manipulated most people in his life.
I pulled out a writing pad and a pen and began jotting down all the things that Jack had told me, scratching names and circling some twice. There was something that I wasn’t seeing. This was all part of a bigger picture and a piece was missing from puzzle.
What were the chances that Ezra had killed all those people to get some twisted revenge on Jack and was now pretending to be him so he could put him on death row?
I highlighted the word Motive and beside that I wrote The Wolfe Enterprise.
“What are you doing?” Ken asked me.
I shut the book quickly. “Just writing my thoughts.”
Ken nodded. “Do you think Jack will confess to everything?”
“I don’t know.”
Suddenly, my phone began ringing. An unknown number was flashing on it. I thought it was Jack and quickly answered it. “Hello?”
“Miss. Frazer, this is Flint Knight. My partner Scott and I wanted to talk to you about something.”
“It would be more appropriate to have a chat over coffee if you’re free, that is.”
“Agent Flint, what is this about?” The fed sounded friendlier than usual and I wasn’t sure if that was a good sign.
“It will be a completely informal chat, Miss. Frazer. I just need some of your time.” He explained.
“Do I need to bring James with me?”
“You can if you want to, but as I said, it’s informal. We won’t be bringing any tapping devices and Scott won't be taking any notes,” He said, and the quickly asked. “Any place closer to your home that we can meet?”
I told Flint about the local café that was close to my apartment, the one I went to usually to get my fix for caffeine. They served the best mocha lattes and donuts in town. Around four p.m. that evening, I dressed up in casuals and drove to the place. The agents were already waiting inside the café for me. I checked the watch and it was still five minutes early.
Why were they so eager for this meeting? What was it that they wanted to talk about? There was only one way to find out.
I walked into the café not knowing what to expect, and that’s when the pair of agents noticed me, they stood up respectfully and Scott went as far as to pull the chair out for me in a gentlemanly gesture. Even some of my previous dates had failed to do that.
“Hello Gentlemen.” I said and took my seat.
I realized when they’d said it would be an informal meeting, they’d been serious. Their usual black suits were replaced by jeans and t-shirts. Flint’s usual disciplined blond hair was styled in casual waves, his white t-shirt highlighting all the right places. Even the Native-American agent was wearing a similar outfit. Both equally attractive and looking totally out of place in a little café. If they thought they seemed like normal civilians, they had it wrong. Their stature would be enough to blow their cover, pun intended.
“So nice of you to accept our invitation, Miss Frazer.” Flint said.
Scott merely nodded in acknowledgement. The sidekick who remained silent throughout the interrogation, but noticed the smallest of details from the suspect that was later used by Flint to build another round of questions. I knew how the pair worked.
“I’d like to know why you called me at such short notice, Agent Flint.”
The waiter who was also the owner of the café, Oscar smiled at me and passed me the menu. “Introduce me to your new friends, Riles.”
I made fast introductions and then ordered for my personal favorite, the mocha latte and the agents ordered the same upon my recommendation. Oscar batted his eyes and tried to flirt with the two. Scott smiled politely, taking the hint, and Flint was quite oblivious. I also picked on the fact that Flint was dense as a brick in cases like these.
After Oscar took our order and left, Flint started saying. “I know we started on the wrong foot but I want us to start this fresh. Suspecting people and pressuring them for information is part of our job but we have nothing personal against you.”
Scott nodded. “Exactly what Flint said.”
“I understand.” I didn’t. Flint had said some really personal things during the interrogation whether it was for the investigation or not wasn’t my concern. It had just been cruel for me, but I wasn’t going to say that to the men. “You’re not here just to tell me that, are you?”
Flint smiled. “We have concluded the investigation we’ve been doing on you, and I’m happy to announce that you’re off the hook.”
“Really?” I looked at both of them.
“Of course. We didn’t find anything that indicated you were involved with Jackson Wolfe’s murders. We also know that you weren’t his accomplice.”
Out of all the things, I hadn’t expected to hear this from him. This made me genuinely happy. “Thank you, Agents.”
The coffees arrived. They were mildly taken aback by the size of the tall glasses. Oscar grinned. “Enjoy.” From over their shoulders I could see Oscar from behind the counter pointing to my folded tissue.
“The coffee is really delicious. You weren’t lying.” Flint said.
I smiled. “I never lie, Agent Flint.”
Flint and Scott passed a knowing smile. They’d caught on my sarcasm.
I opened the tissue and read.
Bring the boys back again next time and I’ll give you a forty percent off on the bill.
P.S: Are either of them gay and single?
I was sipping on the coffee and coughed.
“Are you alright?” That was Scott.
“What’s that in the tissue?” Flint eyed it suspiciously.
“Oh, that’s nothing.” I wiped my mouth with it and balled it. I’d have to be discreet and ask them later about their sexuality and statues.
“Wanna hear something better?” Flint asked.
“Great news is that, Dr. Shaw wants you back on the job starting tomorrow.”
“I’m glad to hear that but why couldn’t he tell me that personally?” I asked.
I was a little hurt by how Aaron had informed the agents before even talking to me about it. “And I don’t know if I want to join back to work, my reputation is in tatters, all thanks to me being a former suspect.”
“It’s not Dr. Shaw’s fault. We could tell he really cares for you.” Flint said.
And yet Aaron hadn’t bothered to call me even once to ask how I was doing. Granted he was busy and didn’t have time to ask the well-being of a nurse who worked for him, who’d been his friend over the years.
“We apologize for the inconvenience we’ve caused. As you know, it’s our—”
“Duty, I know.” I completed for him. “Thanks for talking to me.”
Flint nodded. “No hard feelings.”
“Tell me something, Riley.” Flint said. He was using my first name. Not a good sign. “Do you really believe the man confined in the asylum right now is Ezra Wolfe?”
I stared at him, quite aware of the two pair of emerald and brown eyes watching me over the rims of their drinks.
“Are you wearing a wire?” I asked mockingly.
Flint grinned, raising his hands, palm up. “You can do a thorough search of our body if you like. We don’t mind, do we, Scott?” He nudged his partner.
“I’m sure you don’t.” I said good-naturedly. So Flint was capable of flirting too. “Just being careful. I still think its Ezra. I guarantee it.”
“Very well, it was nice seeing you again.” Flint raised his hand for a handshake. “If you want to talk to us, at the station or casually, I’m just a call away.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I said.
As soon as the men left the cafe, Oscar power-walked towards my table. “I want more information about them.”
I sighed. “Oscar, even if one of them was gay, I wouldn’t recommend them to you.”
Oscar pouted. “Why?”
“Because they are dangerous men.”
When I went home that evening and retired to bed, I could smell Jack’s scent on the sheets and if I had tried to avoid thinking about him all day, I was having a hard time keeping my thoughts away from him now. I gathered the sheets around me and didn’t realize when I’d fallen asleep in it.
I woke up with in the middle of the night with my phone blaring in my ears. I looked at the screen and the hospital number flashed.
“Riley, there’s something you should know.” I heard Aaron’s voice on the other end.
“Aaron, its two-freakin a.m., are you calling me to cover for someone? Can you put my schedule for tomorrow in the rooster?”
“Riley…” Aaron’s voice sounded distressed and that rang alarm bells in my mind.
“What’s wrong, Aaron?”
He took his sweet time to answer. “It’s Maddy.”
Hey guys! Hope you all enjoyed the chapter. I wrote over 3,150 words this time which was more than my usual 2,000.
Also, I'm taking request for any scenes that you guys would like to see in the bonus chapters when the book ends.
Please don't forget to click the heart below if you haven't already, and I'd love to see your thoughts/ theories in the comments section. Also, I love reviews (Just no spoilers in the reviews please)