The Devil You Know, Part XII #52weeks52stories

The #52weeks52stories challenge is supposed to be flash fiction… and today I’m posting the TWELFTH installment of my story!

What am I doing with my life?

The Devil You Know is going on hiatus. No, not sticking it in a drawer. I’ll work on it during July CampNaNoWriMo—tighten up the beginning, clean up errors and discrepancies and bring it to a whizbang finish!  😀

Check back here for updates!

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 22

Word prompt: cake

Word Count: 1226, Reading time – 2 minutes, 1 sec

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |  XI  |

(All links open new windows.)

Vincent Perreti never played a video game he didn’t want to master or saw a website he didn’t want to hack.

Had it not been for a savvy guidance counselor, the twenty-nine-year-old could have easily ended up on the other side of the law. But tough-love moved the street-wise tech-geek past juvie hall through college and onto the Marbury police force.

“I am amazed at the number of men named Mossford.”

Ending his phone call and turning back to his monitor, Myles Griffin chuckled. “It’s an old-world name from another era.”

“No, it’s a hillbilly name from the back woods.”

“Man, would you quit? What have you found on our guy?” Getting no response, Myles glanced over at his partner.

He knew by the mischievous glint in Perreti’s eyes and mega-watt grin the man had found a gold mine.

“Get this. Mossford Oswald Samuel Sievers was born to Benedict and Gracelyn Sievers 11 February 1921.”

Griffin frowned. “And?”

“Don’t you get it?”

“Get what?”

“Mossford… Oswald… Samuel… Sievers. M-O-S-S. Moss. Who does that? Was it intentional? Were his parents wordsmiths? I love it!”

The thirty-two-year-old Griffin leaned backed in his chair, laughing. “Only you zero in on that kind of stuff. But Marks is coming in here soon and will want to know more than the man’s name was an acronym.”

Perreti smirked. “You never let me have any fun. Fine. Like I said born February 1921; entered the Air Force June 1939; and married Lindy Ellen Piquat August 1939. He was stationed stateside in Dover while that base was being built.” Perreti frowned. “I can’t access his actual service record… yet but looks like he didn’t get deployed until two years later after Pearl Harbor.”

“Do not hack that system. I’m still filing reports from your last data breach. We make the appropriate requests.”

Perreti pounded away on the keyboard, trying to gain access. “Yes, boss.”

“Vince? Don’t start. I’m not your boss, I’m the Forensic data lead, okay?”

“But if you’d taken that job with Google, I’d have the position, right?”

“I didn’t want to work for Google, I like being a cop.”

“Yeah, but you’re breaking your mother’s heart.”

“No need to remind me what a disappointment to my parents I am by being a lowly civil servant.”

“Oh, please. You could have my mom… who’s happy I’m on the outside of the bars.”

Griffin laughed. “Good thing we’re both confident men.”

Perreti feigned tears. “Speak for yourself, I need counseling.”

Both laughed while shaking their heads. Perreti pointed at Griffin’s desk.

“What did you find out?”

“Mossford and his kids were busy… breaking laws. Grifting, cons, scams, they were at it for years. No arrest record for Lindy, though, and nothing on a Gary Sievers.”

Vince opened another browser. “No one is invisible. No one. Even folks who live off the grid left a footprint somewhere.”

The two detectives smirked and spoke at the same time. “Unless they were never on the grid.”

*

“Please eat just a little, mom. It’s been hours since you’ve had anything besides coffee.” Joanie Case held out the deli-style turkey sandwich to her mother.

As though on cue, hunger pains roared to life in Sally Bennett’s stomach.

Joanie smirked, and Sally took the sandwich. She munched without thought, her eyes unable to leave the large double-doors leading to the surgery suites.

Two hours into the procedure, Dr. Weathers came out with an update.

“We’re still cautious, Mrs. Bennett, but it’s looking good. We’ve removed all the bone fragments and there’s no evidence they added to the injury. There’s no intracerebal, or brain bleeding. Swelling has decreased since his MRI, which is a good thing. We’re about to begin the delicate portion of the procedure—draining the fluid.”

Sally clutched her chest. “That sounds serious.”

“I have to be honest with you. No matter how much care and time we take, an ischemic or brain stroke is a possibility.”

He stood and leaned over Sally, squeezing her shoulder.

“He’s strong and a true fighter. Ted and I feel very good about this. Someone will update you again soon.”

The doctor’s words replayed in Sally’s head. “He’s strong and a true fighter.”

She smiled to herself as she crumpled the sandwich wrapper.

“I guess someone was hungry.”

She smirked at her son. “I didn’t think I could keep anything down, but my body took what it needed. I feel better.” She reached over and gripped his hand. “About everything.”

Carolyn returned to the waiting room from the hallway.

“The Red Cross cleared an early release from duty for Cheryl. She’ll change planes a few times but will arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow evening.”

Darrin frowned. “So, I need to meet her at the airport?”

“No, big brother, got it covered. Dave is packing as we speak. He and the kids will meet Cheryl’s plan and head on here.”

“I told Merri not to come. If she hears Dave is here I’m in for it.”

“Same here with Rick,” Joanie added.

Carolyn chuffed. “All of us and seven kids? Now is not the time for a family reunion.”

“It’s the perfect time.”

They all turned to their mother.

“We’re past the point of this disrupting our lives. Better we should all be together so you all don’t have to worry about how your absence is affecting your families. At least for a few days.”

Sally leaned forward in her seat.

“Your father would never admit this, but he loves being surrounded by his children and grandchildren. Having everyone here when he wakes up will be better than any medicine.”

Joanie slipped her arm around her mom’s shoulder. “You believe he’s going to be okay, ma? One hundred percent like before?”

“I’ll take any percentage I can get, but yes, your father’s going to be fine.” Her gaze returned to the double doors. “He has to be.”

*

The five detectives had chairs pulled close to Gavin Marks’ desk as they all listened to Michael Benchley, the current sheriff of Drexler, Delaware on speaker-phone.

“Haven’t heard the Sievers name in quite a while. Thought they were all dead except for Melville.”

Marks perked up. “Where’s he?”

“Vaughn Correctional in Smyrna… for second-degree murder.”

“Can you give us details? Sounds like we’ll be making a road-trip to Smyrna.”

The sheriff chuckled. “I can pull our local files and tell you whatever you want to know. But I have a better idea. Since you’re planning a road trip anyway, come here first. You’ll find out more from my dad than any file will tell you. He was a deputy and the sheriff back in those days and knew Moss Sievers and his family. Dad’s in his nineties but still sharp as they come.”

Gavin wanted to leap from his seat.

“Holland get started on travel vouchers. Gans, find out if you or Hill can go along. Griffin and Perreti, work on getting clearance for us to see Melville Sievers.”

He turned back to the speaker-phone.

“Will you be around this weekend, Sheriff?”

“If I want to keep breathing, I will. My wife’s birthday is Sunday.”

“Well, remember to save us some cake.”

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

The Devil You Know, Part XI #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 21

Word prompt: uniform

Word Count: 1557, Reading time – 1 minute, 58 secs

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |   |

(All links open new windows.)

Surrounded by cold sandwiches and lukewarm coffee, Marks, Holland, Ganson, and Hill studied their surprised find from the stolen Ford Explorer.

An old Army duffel bag and a beat-up suitcase were found in the backseat and their contents were now laid out on the conference table like puzzle pieces.

Ganson scratched his head. “This is a weird collection of stuff to carry around.”

The treasure trove included bank records, hotel receipts, airline ticket stubs, elementary school report cards, maps, floor plans, and more than two dozen driver’s licenses from several states. The licenses all bore photos of the same four men… all with different names.

The lone license with a woman’s photo was issued over twenty-five years ago by the state of Delaware… to Sarah Elaine Sievers of Drexler, Delaware.

“Look at all these names, ages, and addresses. How do we find out which one is correct… or if any of them are correct?” Ganson raked through the pile. “Benedict, Lilly, Spellman, Montrose, geeze. Do you know how big the search returns will be on all these names?”

Mentally honing his focus, Marks had a plan. “We’ll focus on one name at a time, and since we knew of Sievers first, we’ll stay with that one for now.”

“Lindy Piquat and Mossford Sievers were married August 4, 1939.” Holland waved a yellowed document in the air. “It was the day after her 18th birthday and six months after his.”

Hill whistled low and slow. “1939? They would have to be-”

“Grandparents.”

After logging the info on his notepad, Holland slipped the license into a glassine sheet protector.

“Somebody had mommy-issues.”

The three men turned to Ganson.

He held four faded black and white photographs. The same young girl was in all four photos, and though there were others standing with her, only her body was full of dozens of tiny pinpricks.

Marks couldn’t contain his excitement. “We’ll need Chaney in on this sooner than later for a psych profile.”

“I believe the girl in these photos is a young Sarah Sievers. Matches the Delaware license, only younger. Here she’s a kid with a guy in uniform.” He held it up. “Dad, maybe?”

“This one here has to be her and her mom… they look alike. This is a school photo—maybe high school—and this is probably her with her brothers,” he tilted his head toward the stack of state IDs, “and the guys on all the driver’s licenses.”

Marks clapped his hands together and shouted, “Hallelujah!”

Hill smirked. “Share so we can celebrate too. What’s up?”

Grinning, Gavin Marks picked up one photo. “What have we just learned, gentlemen?” He continued before they could respond. “Mossford Sievers married Lindy Piquat in 1939 when he was eighteen years old. The guy in this photo is military. And at his age… he served in World War II.”

The detectives applauded. “Very good, Marks. You get an ‘A’ today.”

He waved Hill off. “Too bad I didn’t get an ‘A’ in history when it counted.”

He turned to Holland. “Call Perreti and Griffin back in. They’re aces at forensic searches. If we’re lucky, they can find what we need, and I won’t have to reach out to Veteran’s Affairs tomorrow… that’s never fun. Let’s narrow our search for now to any Sievers in Drexler, Delaware. I’ll contact the LEOs in that area tomorrow morning. With all of these fake IDs, someone had to get caught doing something wrong at least once.”

Brian Holland added to his list. “I just had to be a detective. This sure doesn’t feel like a promotion… feels like more work.”

“That’s why we make the big bucks.”

They all shared a laugh as Holland left the room.

Ganson smirked. “Big bucks? Yeah, right. I’m so poor I can’t afford to pay attention.”

“Well, how does your captain feel about overtime?”

Leonard Ganson groaned.

Hill chuckled.

“Hates it with a passion. The brass downtown is always hollering about budget cuts. But I explained the link to your case and possibly the Senior Citizen Rapist, so we’re good for forty-eight hours. If we can’t prove a connection to our case by then, we have to take our toys and go home.”

Marks belly laughed. “Oh, man. I can just hear him saying that.”

He clapped his hands together again, looking over the unusual collection of items.

“Let’s see if we have anything else useful here.”

Before they could get back to their searching, Holland burst back into the room.

“Marks, man, I want to be you when I grow up!”

“Why? What happened?”

“You nailed it. Patrol found Franklin Bennett’s 2016 Chevy Traverse three blocks from where the Ford Explorer was stolen.”

The men all exchanged glances. Gavin paced around the table.

“So, the man we know as Gary Sievers fought with Franklin Bennett in his apartment, took his car, ditched it and stole another vehicle, and ended up at the Ramirez home to attack two women… one of which was Bennett’s wife.”

He scrubbed his hand down his face.

“What was Bennett doing there? How do they know each other…not to mention being almost identical in looks? What did they fight about? And why did Sievers go to the Ramirez home?”

Hill grimaced. “Can we go back to the celebrating part because this sucks.”

“The picture is still blurred, gentlemen. Let’s pull it into focus.”

*

Watching the nurse replenish her husband’s I.V. meds, Sally Bennett’s spirits lifted for the first time in days.

Lab cultures showed Franklin Bennett was in the early stages of a bacterial infection, but Dr. Stanley’s decision to include antibiotics from the beginning of his care was a good one.

Though not gone, the infection was weakening, allowing his blood pressure to rise.

“He’s doing very well, ma’am. Nice strong blood pressure, no fluctuations.”

Sally sat in the chair next to the bed holding her husband’s hand. She was afraid if she let go he’d slip away and be lost to her again. The thought frightened her more than anything else from the past three days.

Sally was grateful to be with Frankie and know he was at least alive, but a raw edginess bristled just beneath her skin which kept her fears and doubts in the front of her mind.

Remembering Dr. Stanley’s words to stay positive, Sally decided to stop stewing in her worries and grab some coffee from across the hall.

Rising from her seat, she gave Frankie’s hand a gentle squeeze as she turned to walk away, and froze.

The hand she was holding was now holding hers!

Her gaze went from their joined hands to his face and Sally’s heart plummeted.

He wasn’t awake.

Involuntary nerve spasms were explained to her earlier and now she understood why.

Another attempt at releasing Franklin’s hand again caused his grip to tighten.

This can’t be a nerve spasm.

Sally reached for the call button to alert the nurse but stopped when Frankie’s grip tightened even more.

Her brows knitted in confusion.

“Frankie? Can you hear me? Frankie? Can you give me any kind of response? Squeeze my hand again, baby. Wiggle a toe. Dammit, I’ll even accept a facial twitch.”

He didn’t respond but Sally knew he’d gripped her hand. She was sure of it.

Frankie’s hand became limp inside Sally’s. She raised it to her face, rubbing it against her cheek.

“It’s okay, baby. You’re going to beat this. Just hang on.”

She planted a light kiss on his hand and laid his arm to rest on the bed.

Sally left the room without looking back, silently cursing muscle spasms.

Crossing the hall, she saw Dr. Stanley approaching with two men casually dressed and close to her age.

“Mrs. Bennett, we were on our way to speak with you. This is Dr. Ted Beamish and Dr. Paul Weathers. They’re the doctors I told you were on call for your husband. He’s been stable for over an hour. It’s time.”

Sally shook each of their offered hands but held on to Paul Weathers’. “He’s been my life for thirty-two years…please…” Her voice broke on the last word.

Paul Weather’s wrapped her hand in both of his. “Ted and I have had many successes with traumatic brain injuries in private practice and the military. I promise you we’ll do everything we can.”

“Where are your children, Mrs. Bennett?”

It took her a few seconds to find her voice. “They all went to find quiet places to call home with an update. They should be back soon.”

Dr. Weathers released her hand. “Good. The procedure can take as little as two hours or as many as six. Just depends on what we find. We’re on our way to scrub up and someone from our team will be here soon to get Mr. Bennett prepped.”

She pressed her hand against her stomach. The churning had returned.

Dr. Stanley tried to lead her into the lounge. “You should sit-”

Sally pulled away.

“I’m sorry, it’s just nerves. I’ll sit with my husband until it’s time.”

Assuring her she would receive status updates during the surgery, the doctors left to prepare.

Sally Bennett took a deep breath, digging deep inside for a reserve of faith and went to kiss her husband for what she hoped wasn’t the last time.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part X #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 20

Word prompt: mania

Word Count: 1570

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |   IX   |

(All links open new windows.)

Adrenalin and exhaustion warred inside Sally Bennett. She was dead tired. Just a few hours ago she was a patient in this same hospital, making deals with her doctor to escape the confines of her hospital bed and go home.

To face life without her husband; to understand why he’d attacked her and Graciela Ramirez; to understand how he ended up dead on the floor of Graciela’s bedroom.

Now everything had changed.

Frankie wasn’t dead, nor was he her attacker.

But according to this doctor, she could still lose him.

Fighting the mania in her mind, Sally swallowed deeply, pushing the burning bile back into her empty stomach.

“Dr. Stanley, please. What does that mean? How serious are his injuries?” She clutched at her stomach. “How did he get injured?”

“Mrs. Bennett, I cannot say for certain how your husband sustained his injuries. I can tell you from the bruising on his hands and face he was involved in a physical altercation—a fight—and ended up on the floor. As he tried to stand, he was hit with a large, heavy object twice, fracturing his skull.”

Sally swayed and teetered on her feet.

Carolyn screamed out, “Mom!”

All the detectives raced to catch her, but Brian Holland reached her first.

She struggled to stand on her own but found she couldn’t and leaned against the brawny police officer. Tears streamed down her face as she turned to Gavin Marks.

“The man. The man in the morgue. Did he do this to Frankie?”

Wary of admitting how little information they had in the case… now cases, but knew she deserved the truth.

“We don’t know ma’am, but it is the leading theory due to his resemblance to your husband. He must have been trying to switch identities but until we can find out who he is, it’s just a theory.”

She turned back to the doctor. “Take me to him?”

“Of course, just understand his appearance is unsettling.”

He opened the door to the critical care suite behind him and Holland escorted the distraught woman into the room, closely followed by the Bennett children.

Sally froze in her steps at the foot of the bed, covering her face with one hand in horror.

With the head of the bed elevated, Franklin Bennett appeared to be napping, but the large pressure dressing covering half of his head and dipping to just above his right eyebrow told a different story.

Purple bruises near his left eye and on his chin stood out against his ghostly pale complexion.

Officer Holland tried to maneuver Sally around the bed to the only chair in the room, but she pulled free, navigating around humming and beeping medical equipment to get to her husband’s side.

She bit her lip to muffle her sobs as she slid her hand under the snapped sleeve of the hospital gown and pulled it free.

Her chest heaved in a combination of relief and agony seeing the crossed rifles tattoo on his upper arm.

Sally raised her hand, tentative at first, but then smoothed his right brow.

The sebaceous cyst was there.

This was her Frankie… and he didn’t even know she was in the room.

She looked across the bed at Dr. Stanley, her eyes full of sorrow.

“There’s nothing you can do?”

He responded, keeping his tone low and even.

“It is a life-threatening injury, and to be honest with you, Mrs. Bennett, I’m surprised he’s made it this far.”

He motioned to Frankie’s hands and face.

“The coloring of his bruises leads me to believe his injuries were sustained seventy-two to ninety-six hours ago.” He paused. “He… lost a lot of blood. But I believe the position of his body and the cooler seasonal temperatures played a part in keeping him alive. That and he has the heart of a lion.”

She looked down at the love of her life in awe. The heart which almost failed him two years ago was now the only thing keeping him alive.

She reached out to caress his cheek before realizing Dr. Stanley was still speaking.

“Excuse me, Dr.?”

“I said his blood pressure is the issue. It’s far too low for your husband to make it through surgery right-”

“What? Surgery? For what?”

He sighed, glancing over his shoulder at the three detectives standing in the doorway before continuing.

“As far as we can tell, Mr. Bennett’s brain activity is normal and that’s a miracle in and of itself. But bleeding in his brain has caused swelling and pressure. If we don’t get that pressure released soon… there will be brain damage and it will be permanent.”

Sally swayed on her feet and sagged against the bed. Brian Holland was ready this time, having moved the chair to the side of the bed.

Gently gripping Sally by the shoulders, he pulled her backward until he had her in the chair.

Darrin, Carolyn, and Joanie were huddled at the foot of the bed, each with a hand touching their father. The officer got Carolyn’s attention, gesturing for her to take his place with her mother before he stepped away, joining the detectives in the doorway.

Sally didn’t notice the activity around her. With her gaze focused on her husband’s face, she addressed Dr. Stanley again.

“Is he scheduled for surgery?”

“No. We’d lose him on the table.”

She slumped in the chair and suddenly realized Carolyn was at her side. She gripped her daughter’s hand, looking for strength.

“So, what’s going to happen to my husband? He’s just going to die?”

“That’s not going to happen if we can help it, Mrs. Bennett. He’s made it this far because he’s a fighter.” He pointed to the multiple I.V. poles attached to the bed. “We’re giving him fluids, antibiotics, vitamins, and that is his third unit of blood. We have three more on standby. Once we get his blood pressure up and stabilized for one hour, he goes into surgery. The two top brain surgeons in our area have examined him and are just waiting for our call.”

A spec of optimism began to bloom in Sally’s chest.

It wasn’t the end of them… yet.

“Dr., I’d like to donate blood for my dad.” Darrin didn’t bother wiping the tears from his face.

“Yes, all of us will,” Carolyn added after exchanging looks with her sister.

“Of course, I’ll get someone to take you down to the lab for typing and matching.”

He stepped back from the bed and pulled out his phone, but Sally stopped him before he could dial.

“Until then, Dr…. until then what happens?”

“We wait, Mrs. Bennett, and pray for the best.”

She stood. Returning to Frankie’s bedside, she slipped his limp right hand between both of hers and bowed her head. Carolyn moved closer bowing her head too.

Darrin and Joanie joined hands at the foot of the bed and followed suit.

Dr. Stanley brushed past the detectives in the doorway and they followed him into the hallway.

“Doctor, what are Mr. Bennett’s chances?”

He turned to Gavin Marks.

“Det., I really-”

“Just tell us what we’re working with…please.”

The doctor removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes before responding.

“I’m being cautiously optimistic when I say 25-30%, Detective”

“Damn.”

“But he has a lot going for him… no life support needed and he’s not in a coma.”

“What? He’s not?”

“No. Mr. Bennett has responded to testing in every way… except for waking up. I’m encouraged by his strong brain activity and strong heartbeat. But the clock is ticking and the window of opportunity to save him is down to 6-8 hours.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

Brian Holland stepped back down the hall, peering into Franklin Bennett’s room. His family still stood around him with their heads bowed.

Pete Hill scrubbed his hand through his salt and pepper buzz-cut.

Gavin Marks leaned against the wall, hands shoved deep into his pockets. Marks’ head was also bowed, but he was deep in thought.

Ganson finally said what they were all thinking.

“If he doesn’t make it, we may never find the answers we need to solve our cases.”

“It’s time for some good old-fashioned police work, gentlemen.”

The law enforcement officers all exchanged knowing smirks.

“Your trial by fire continues Holland. Tell Lothern to do another search on the name Gary Sievers but include a search for the last name alone too. Ask him to pay special attention to smaller towns and to put names on the info requests… make someone sit up and take notice.”

Holland pulled out his cell and stepped away.

“What are you thinking, Marks?”

“The answers are staring us in the face. I think once we confirm the identity of Sievers or whomever he is, everything will fall into place. We’ll solve our case, your case, and there’s a real chance we could learn the identity of the Senior Citizen Rapist.

Let your captain know we’re working together, Ganson, then we need to pay a visit to your crime scene.”

*

The detectives never got back to the apartment where Franklin Bennett was found that night.

An alert patrolman spotted a late-model Ford reported as stolen abandoned two blocks from the Ramirez home.

A routine retrieval and impound became evidence when an inspection of the vehicle’s contents turned up a name on the priority list.

Sievers.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part IX #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 19

Word prompt: task

Word Count: 876 (Reading time: 1 min, 55 sec.)

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |   Part VIII   |

(All links open new windows.)

Apprehension hung in the air as Sally Bennett and her children huddled into the small conference room.

Joanie and Carolyn sat side-by-side at the end, clutching hands and watching their mother.

Det. Marks took a seat at the other end of the table.

Darrin stood behind his mother’s chair, curious why the large uniformed officer was standing so close to her.

“Detective, please, what is all this about? Why did you insist I return to the hospital?” Sally’s voice was hoarse from exhaustion and stress.

“Mrs. Bennett, Dr. Lacey updated his report to rename the man we first believed to be your husband John Doe 417.”

Sally held his gaze. “No, it’s not Frankie.”

“Your husband was adopted as an infant, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And he had no information about his birth mother? Never went looking for her? Anyone ever come looking for him?”

“All he knew was she was an unwed teen, and he was adopted by an older couple from Maine.” She glanced back at her son then addressed the detective again. “But I remember Darrin telling me no record was found of Frankie’s adoption. How is that possible?”

Gavin stared at his clasped hands, choosing his words carefully.

“Ma’am, I wish I had answers for you, But I promise you, we’re exploring every possibility.”

“What does that mean… exploring every possibility, and why did you demand my mom come here.” Darrin stood behind Sally, his hands clenched in anger.

“Mr. Bennett, we-”

“Enough!” He motioned toward his sisters. “Their nerves are frayed, and hearts broken.” Darrin rested his hand on Sally’s shoulder. “Whether or not you find my dad; whether you find the answers to this case… I have to protect my mother and sisters. If you know something we don’t, tell us. Otherwise, I need to get my family as far from here as possible, so they can rest their bodies… and their minds.”

Gavin Marks saw the fear, anger, and defeat in the faces of Sally and her children.

Swallowing his pride and the rest of his questions, the detective stood and walked toward the door.

Though his face was devoid of expression, he narrowed his eyes at Brian Holland as he passed and knew the uniformed officer understood.

Marks paused at the door and turned to Sally.

“Mrs. Bennett, please come with me… your children too.”

Sally and her daughters left their seats, following the detective without question, but Darrin hesitated.

“Mom?”

She paused in the doorway, half-turning to her son.

“What else can we do, Darrin? We need answers.” She left the room with Officer Holland close behind.

Marks stood at a large gray door just down the hall. As the small group caught up to him, he peered through the window and waved his hand. A door release buzzed, and the detective pulled the door open just in time for Carolyn and Joanie to walk through. A glance over her shoulder brought Sally relief when she saw her son was the last person through the door.

A lone nurse sat at the large nurse’s station. She exchanged looks with Det. Marks and placed her hand on a file next to her.

He knew the task was done and motioned for the family follow him again.

Just past the nurse’s station, three men were standing in the hall. Marks stopped when he reached them and turned to Sally.

“Mrs. Bennett, this is detectives Ganson and Hill from Baxter, and this is Dr. Stanley.”

The men all murmured greetings.

Marks nodded for Ganson to continue.

“Ma’am, we answered a call earlier this evening after a lady found her neighbor dead in his apartment.”

Sally gasped, clutching her chest.

Ganson held up his hand. “I apologize for saying it that way but let me finish. The man wasn’t dead but critically wounded. Paramedics got him stabilized enough for transport and due to an emergency at the closest hospital, we ended up here.”

“Detective, what does this have to do with our family?” Carolyn was now showing the same anger as her brother.

“The neighbor and the landlord identified the man as Gary Sievers. Is that name familiar to you?”

Sally glanced at each of her children as they shook their heads, weary and confused. “No, it isn’t, detective. So, what does he have to do with all this?”

Ganson looked to Hill, who spoke up.

“Mrs. Bennett, after the doctors worked on the victim, I went through his clothes looking for a cell phone… business card… anything that could lead us to family or friends. I found a wallet and the driver’s license identified the man as Franklin Bennett.”

His sisters emitted twin screams and Darrin moved to their sides, holding on to them both.

Sally grabbed the detective’s arm. “Where is he? Where is my husband?”

“Mrs. Bennett-”

She cut Gavin Marks off with a glare.

“I want to see him now! You should have told me he was here the second I walked in. Where is he? Tell me now or I’ll check every room on this floor!”

Dr. Stanley stepped in her path.

“Ma’am, you don’t know everything yet.”

“I know he’s alive!”

“Yes… he has a pulse and a heartbeat, but it may not be enough to save him.”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

The Devil You Know, Part VIII #52weeks52stories

Intruder

#52weeks52stories: Week 18

Word prompt: ranch

Word Count: 1181

~~~~~

Part I    |     Part II    |    Part III    |   Part IV   | Part V

Part VI   |   Part VII   |

(All links open new windows.)

Darrin Bennett drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. Marbury, Pennsylvania wasn’t a large city or even a business hub. But as one of four cities that shared the interstate exchange, evening traffic was always headache-inducing as suburbans scurried back to their ranch-style homes.
He glanced at his mother in the passenger seat. She’d been quiet since they left the coroner’s office.
“How are you holding up, mom?”
Just like she’d done in Pax Lacey’s office, Sally Bennett sat with her back straight. Her seat belt strained against her as though trying to push her back in the passenger seat.
“Tired. Confused. Pissed off. Scared.” She fingered the small handbag in her lap. “It was horrible enough being attacked in the Ramirez home. But we both lived through that and are so grateful.”
Tears pooled in her eyes.
“Then to see your dad… my husband lying dead on the floor…”
Sally leaned her head back, causing the tears to run down the sides of her face.
“… and now we know the man is not your father. No one knows who he is, or what has happened to my Fran-”
Her voice broke as her husband’s name disappeared inside a deep sob.
With his eyes still on the road, Darrin reached over, gripping his mother’s hand. Exhaustion bore down on him and his nerves were as frayed as Sally’s.
He and Merri should be busy packing up their kids and dropping them off with Merri’s parents before heading to Carolyn’s for a hang-out weekend to plan Sally and Frankie’s thirty-second wedding anniversary dinner.
But instead, he was living out the plot of some bad movie-of-the-week melodrama.
Sally’s deepening sobs synced with the throbbing in Darrin’s head.
He knew she couldn’t take much more. Since the week began, his mom had: sent his dad off on a business trip; been attacked in a client’s home; found out the attacker was her husband… and he was dead; now knew the attacker was not her husband but shared his face.
Darrin needed air, but with one hand on the wheel and the other still holding his mom’s hand, increasing the air conditioning or opening a window would have to wait.
His mania calmed as he passed the Limerick Avenue ext. The next exit would lead to Colon Regional Hospital.
Apprehension tugged his mind. Why was his mother ordered back to the hospital not by her doctor, but by a police detective?
He did not understand what they were walking into, but he would demand full disclosure from the police. They had the right to know. Is mother needed to know. He wouldn’t risk losing her to hysteria again. After this meeting, he would find Sally’s doctor and get her re-admitted… at least for the night.
Darrin flipped on his turn indicator as he approached the exit and glanced in his rear-view mirror to make sure his sisters were still behind him in Joanie’s Ford Escape.
Sally’s sobs had turned into pitiful moans. Darrin gripped her hand tighter, determined to do right by his mother and for his family.

*

Ganson and Hill were incredulous as Marks and Holland recounted the week’s events involving the Bennett family.
Pete Hill whistled long and low while staring through the unit window at the comatose man.
Lennie Ganson rested his hands on his hips.
“Well, you guys have seen both men. What do we have here? Doppelgangers? Twins? A bad remake of The Boys from Brazil?”
Gavin Marks leaned against the wall, his arms folded across his chest.
“I wish I knew, but nothing has added up in this case from the start. Pax confirmed the ID of the body in the morgue fell through before we stumbled upon you guys.” He tilted his head across the hall. “Your guy’s ID says he’s the real Bennett, and his family will be here shortly to confirm, but that still doesn’t tell me who’s lying in the morgue.”
Pete pulled out his notepad.
“The landlord who called 911 and the woman who found this guy gave his name as Gary Sievers. Said he kept to himself, didn’t go out much, but only at night when he did.”
Brian Holland took out his own notepad and copied the details from Hill.
“His injuries were life-threatening so the paramedics were focused on stabilizing him for transport, not searching his pockets.”
Marks addressed Officer Holland.
After we speak with the Bennett family, we’ll need to visit the crime scene and speak with the people who found him,” he grinned at Det. Ganson, “if you don’t mind us visiting your county?”
Ganson threw his hands up.
“With everything I know… and don’t know about our cases we need each other to put the puzzle pieces together. Visit away!”
The men shared a laugh while a young orderly approached them.
“Detectives, we have a small conference room set up for you just past the nurse’s station.”
The small group followed the orderly down the hall. Marks paused before entering the room.
“Holland, the Bennett family should be here soon. Go down and wait for them and get them up here as quickly and quietly as possible… without telling them too much.”
“You don’t think any of them are involved in this do you?”
“Oh, no. They’re as much in the dark about this as we are. But Mrs. Bennett… well, after what she went through the night of the attack and just being discharged from the hospital today, I wanted her seated and calm as possible… and a doctor close by, before we tell her about her husband. Of course, she’ll be glad he’s alive, but his condition isn’t stable and he does require surgery… if he ever gets strong enough.”
Holland’s large frame sagged.
“She gets good news, then bad news, then even worse news.” He grimaced. “Bet a week ago, she never imagined her life taking a turn like this.”

*

Darrin eased into the parking space and cut the engine when he saw he sister take the space next to him.
Still holding his mother’s hand, he gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Ready for this, mom?”
She didn’t respond and he turned toward her, and his heart broke more.
For the first time since Tuesday night, Sally Bennett was asleep without the aid of emotional shock or prescribed medications. It wasn’t a peaceful sleep, however. Her furrowed brow and tight jawline proved her mind was not at ease.
Carolyn tapped on his window and Darrin opened the car door.
“Wish I could just let her sleep.”
“I know. I wish we all were asleep and could wake up from this nightmare.”
“Nothing is ever going to be the same again, is it?”
They both glanced at their baby sister standing near the back of Darrin’s car.
“We’ll get through this, Joanie, one way or another.” Carolyn’s faint smile did little to encourage her sister.
“No, we’ll get through this together.”
They all turned at the sound of Sally’s voice.
“I just hope that includes your father.”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

 

It’s time for a Drabble!


Drabbles


Back with another Drabble!

I believe I’m getting the hang of the rhythm.

The difficult part–word usage–is… coming.

Much like any story, writers want readers to be able to empathize with the protagonist (good or bad), and visualize and feel the scene.

Tall order for a hundred words but it is fun!

How did I do?

~~~

C H A N G E S – Drabble #2

Kerri Kennedy sat alone on the swing watching her four former friends play across the schoolyard.

They treated Kerri as though she’d changed.

The accident last winter took her father and left Kerri with mangled legs.

She couldn’t stand up straight and walked with a limp, but she was still the girl who liked pineapple on her pizza.

She wasn’t the one who changed.

A soccer ball bounced against Kerri’s foot. She kicked it back to the girl running toward her.

“Thanks. Wanna play with us?”

“I can’t. My leg.”

“Sure, you can.”

Surprised, Kerri smiled at her new friend.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Mona Lisa Smile #FlashFiction


Rainy Day

Flash Fiction: Word prompt – Mona Lisa smile

His chair was empty and cold just like the coffee he hadn’t drank.

She stared at the cup of coffee, unblinking and unmoved, the Mona Lisa smile still gracing her face.

She tried to remember the words he’d said. Something about ‘not working’, ‘better as friends’, and ‘he’d met someone.’

He had said more, but she wasn’t listening.

She was remembering.

When he said he loved her.

When he said she was the one.

When he asked her to marry him and slipped the ring on her finger.

She looked down at her hand, the ring still in place, heavy and laborious.

He told her to keep it and remember the good times.

Good times?

Instead, she remembered when he said he had to work late and turned off his phone.

She remembered him canceling their weekend trip to Vegas because the ‘big project’ at work was past due… and he turned off his phone.

Lastly, she remembered how he canceled their dinner… on her birthday… because of work.

And he turned off his phone.

She’d told all her friends she was spending her birthday with him and refused to sit home alone.

She went out to dinner and saw him… with her.

She didn’t know if it was a casual fling or a new beginning.

It didn’t matter.

It was over.

She went home and waited.

Waited for him to tell her.

Two days.

Five days.

A week.

She emotionally removed herself from the relationship.

She pulled away from his hugs and turned away from his kisses.

She knew she should walk away but she wouldn’t let him off that easy.

He had to say the words.

One day, he looked into her eyes and he saw it.

She knew.

He left quickly… because of work.

Three days later, he called and asked to meet her for coffee.

And he told her… at last.

She never spoke but just sat there before him cloaked in serenity, Mona Lisa smile in place.

He stood to leave, leaning in to kiss her cheek.

She turned away… and he left.

Looking at the two-karat emerald-cut ring on her finger, a wave of sadness passed over her.

Not for herself but for the woman she replaced… and the woman who replaced her.

They were all members of a club by default. There would be no meetings, only dues paid in full. His new woman would pay hers soon enough.

Gathering her things, she stood and placed a ten-dollar-bill on the table for the coffee no one drank.

As an afterthought, she removed the ring and left it on top of the cash.

Heading for the door, she noticed new customers arriving with wet umbrellas and damp jackets.

“It’s really pouring out there,” an older man said as she walked past him.

Her Mona Lisa smile grew. She loved the rain.

She reached to push the door open and felt a tug on her other arm. Turning, her waitress stood next to her, holding out the ring.

“Is this your ring, ma’am?”

She shook her head once and said, “Not anymore,” and stepped out into the cleansing rain.

©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Save

I Wrote a Drabble!


Drabbles


I wrote my first drabble!

YAAY, me, right?

Wait. Don’t you know what a drabble is? It’s a short story written in 100 words or less, and it’s easier said than done.

I’d never heard of it either until a couple of weeks ago when I saw this post on Connie J. Jasperson’s Life in the Realm of Fantasy. Do you follow Connie? You should. She gives great writing advice… with examples!

After reading Connie’s post, I went on a drabble info search.

Google drabbles. I dare you! The search returns were mind-boggling. I felt like the planet was drabbling (← I have NO idea if that’s a word!) without me!

What’s the point of drabbles?

You’ll find several reasons listed on Connie’s blog, but prime for me is there is no room for anything which doesn’t move the story forward. Words must be chosen with much thought… because you can’t use more than a hundred.

If you’ve read anything by me, you know I have a love affair with the written word and don’t believe there can ever be too many, wonderful, glorious words! *Glares at last sentence* So, um… yeah.

I give you… my first drabble!

~~~~~

Calling His Bluff – Drabble #1

She removed her scarf and wiped her brow. The apple tree’s shade did little to protect her from the oppressive heat.

“Raelene – ”

“I’m done with this, Willie. Daddy is sick and needs me here to run the orchard. I can’t marry you.”

“He ain’t sick, Raelene! His mind is gone. He’s never getting better. Sell this land and put him in a nursing home.”

“No.”

“I thought you wanted to be with me?” He smirked. “Patty Walters would love to marry me.”

Raelene grabbed her basket. “I hope you and Patty have a nice life.”

She walked away… relieved.

~~~~~

Okay, so I didn’t redefine drabbles, but… I did have the key elements: a setting, one or more characters, conflict, and resolution.

It’s a start!

I feel an obsession coming on. You know, after all my other writing obligations.  Averts eyes.

On average, drabbles will take about an hour to write.

It took me longer than that. A lot longer.

But don’t tell Connie.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Lottery of Life #52weeks52stories



Apologies for posting an incomplete story this week, but a death in the family took me away from writing. Get to know Delia Freeman and look for part two of her story later this week.
#52weeks52stories: Week 3
Word prompt: Lottery
Word count: 1376

Delia Freeman stepped over the drunk on the sidewalk, not sure if he was dead or alive.

There was always a drunk or a junkie or some other lost soul invisible to society crouched against the back wall of Tilly’s Quick Stop.

Delia wasn’t heartless or uncaring to their situation… she was one of them. Once a young woman with a promising future, now caught in the vicious grip of poverty and hopelessness. If anyone looked hard enough, they might see the former up-and-coming college-educated accountant hidden beneath the layers of depression, low self-esteem, and self-hate.

If anyone looked.

She reached the front door of Tilly’s and had to push her way through the usual crowd of drug dealers, con-men, and thieves.

“Hey, Miss Delia. You looking mighty tasty today. Girl, we need to do some conversating.”

Delia cringed and took a step back. The mixture of stale beer and poor hygiene wafting off the wide-eyed crackhead turned her stomach.

“Man, she is a nice piece, but back up off ‘dat. You know she Perk’s woman.”

Perk’s woman. She was anything but his woman. That would mean she was loved and cherished… and wanted.

But Delia was none of those things. She was his financial support, cook, cleaning lady, errand girl, and punching bag. And when she was exhausted, longing for peace and sleep, he’d climb on top of her and rut like the greasy pig he was.

No. She was not Grayland Perkins’ woman. She was his prisoner.

Delia wasn’t held captive by weapons or threats, but the cruel icy fingers of fate.

Glaring at the assembly of lowlife, Delia entered Tilly’s and headed for the beer cooler.

“Evenin’, D.”

Turning, Delia saw the tiny great-grandmother with the sparkling eyes seated in a camp chair behind the counter.

“Hey, Miss Myra. You doing okay today? Those idiots outside not bothering you, are they?”

“We have an understanding—do not darken my doorway unless you have cash in hand. End of story. No one wants to cross a gypsy.”

Delia laughed and wondered how the old woman did it. While crime was rampant in the neighborhood, Tilly’s was trouble-free. The liquor store a half-block away had been robbed three times and had three attempts—all in less than a year. But Tilly’s didn’t even have bars on the windows or a front gate.

Myra Tilly shared counter hours with her children and grandchildren. While she didn’t work weekends, the septuagenarian was behind the counter Monday through Friday without fail.

Reaching the cooler, Delia had a moment’s panic when she didn’t see Perk’s favorite brand.

The last time she took another brand home, the man flew into a rage, accused Delia of open defiance, and choked her into unconsciousness.

Delia touched her neck at the memory and said a silent prayer of thanks when she saw the twelve-pack on the bottom shelf.

After grabbing a few other items to make her lunch for work, Delia unloaded her hand-basket on the counter.

“Baby, you’re too young to look so tired and beat down.”

“I know, Miss Myra. Just waiting for the winds of change.”

“Girl, you can’t wait for change. You gotta’ make it for yourself.” She rang up and bagged Delia’s items. “Keep on waiting and you’ll end up old like me… and still waiting.”

Embarrassed, the young woman dropped her head.

“I know you’re right, Miss Myra. I do.”

“Knowing I’m right don’t help you either. Child, how old are you?”

Delia’s body went rigid, amazed at the timing of the old woman’s question.

“Today’s my birthday. I’m thirty.”

Myra’s face brightened.

“Happy Birthday, sugar! Shoot! I don’t have anything in here even close to a cake.” She snapped her fingers. “Hang on a sec.”

Delia watched, amused, as the petite senior citizen scurried to the opposite end of the counter. Removing something from a lower counter, Myra returned to her customer wearing a triumphant grin.

“I keep a box of these on hand for the few people who pass through my door and understand fine chocolate.”

Delia’s eye widened as she watched Myra drop three bars of pricey imported milk chocolate in her bag.

Myra winked, clapping her hands together. “One for each decade.”

Delia was touched by the woman’s gesture. The big box store she worked for gave her a twenty-five-dollar gift card, and her supervisor bought her a super-pretzel from the store’s snack counter. That had been the extent of her day of birth being acknowledged.

“Miss Myra, that is so sweet of you. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome, child.”

She grasped both of Delia’s hands. “I know you’re supposed to make a wish and blow out the candles on your cake,” she shrugged, “but no cake, no candles, so I’m making the wish for you.”

She tightened her grip on Delia’s hands.

“By your next birthday, I wish for you to be happy and healthy and doing something with your life you love. And if you haven’t found that special someone, I at least want you to be free of relationships… and friendships that are squeezing the life out of you today. This is my birthday wish for you.”

Delia averted her eyes, blinking to hold back her tears. She returned her gaze to the spry store owner.

“This is the nicest thing anyone’s done for me since my mom died. Thank you, Miss Myra. And I promise to keep my eyes open for opportunities to get that wish.”

Myra beamed. “Good!”

Delia gave her friend’s hand one last squeeze, then let go, reaching into her bag and retrieving her wallet. She pulled out two bills and handed them to Myra.

After making change, Myra dropped the coins into Delia’s hands.

Delia reached for the bills, but Myra didn’t let go.

“Wanna do something crazy for your birthday, young lady?”

Delia tilted her head and smirked. “With six dollars? What did you have in mind?”

Myra’s smile grew as she pointed toward the sign next to the register.

“The lottery? Are you kidding me?”

“C’mon, baby girl, take a chance. It’s up to fifty million!”

Delia scoffed.

“I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life, Miss Myra. I don’t even know how to play or what’s involved.”

Myra handed Delia a Lottery form. “Most people play their six favorite numbers and add a random number. Or, you can do quick picks and allow the machine to pick the numbers. One dollar a ticket.”

Delia rocked against the counter, staring at the lottery form. What did she have to lose besides six dollars?

“Fine. I’ll do it. Give me six of those quickies.”

Laughing, Myra turned on the machine. “Quick picks. They’re called quick picks.”

Before Myra could press the first button, Delia yelped. “No, wait! Make it five.” She grabbed the pen on the counter and filled in six circles on the form.

She paused, chewing the inside of her lip. She needed a random number.

Myra watched her and chirped in. “Today’s your birthday. Go with that.”

Delia considered the suggestion.

“Miss Myra, when is your birthday?”

The old woman’s eyes sparkled.

“Tomorrow.”

“No way! We’re birthday sisters? Now I have to use your birth date.”

Delia filled in the last circle and gave the form to Myra. She marveled at the brisk pace Myra keyed in numbers as she went through the process. So much for the argument senior citizens didn’t get modern technology.

“Here you go.”

Delia took the single slip of paper, confused.

“There are six rows of numbers on that slip. Each row is a ticket. Your chosen numbers are the first row, followed by five quick picks.”

“Look at me, turning thirty and playing the Lottery.”

Delia dropped the ticket with her wallet into her handbag and gathered up her purchases.

“Miss Myra, I walked in here tired and grumpy, feeling sorry for myself, but you made my entire day. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, child.”

“I’ll stop by tomorrow to wish you happy birthday.”

“I look forward to it.”

Delia left Tilly’s feeling better than she had in any recent year. She didn’t even hear the catcalls and lewd suggestions from the corner crew.

Nothing could taint her mood. She was happy.

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

Her End Game #FlashFiction 18+

Her End Game Prompt: games

Derrick slammed the door of his Denali and kicked it for good measure. Turning abruptly and heading for his second-floor condo, Derrick stopped, his shoulders slumping.

That was stupid.

He looked back at the gunmetal gray vehicle he’d saved so diligently to buy searching for signs of damage from his size thirteen Ferragamo loafers.

Relieved at finding none, Derrick Greene followed the walkway leading to his private entrance.

He had to calm down. Anger wouldn’t change his situation, and it certainly wouldn’t help it. After entering his condo, Derrick tried to close the door without announcing his anger to his neighbors.. He plopped down on his sofa and massaged his temples.

I am such a fool!

His friends warned him, but Derrick had been too smitten to listen. He thought himself  in love with Anita Banks and no one could convince him otherwise. For the last ten weeks, he made her his world. Taken her out for expensive dinners and shows, on weekend getaways, and even assisted with her monthly bills.

Derrick wasn’t deterred two weeks ago when he saw Anita snuggled up with a former boyfriend outside an all-night taco stand on the east side of town. She explained she’d met with him to tell the man about Derrick and to make a clean break. The old beau became upset over losing Anita and she’d offered him a moment’s comfort.

Sounded reasonable to a love-struck Derrick Greene.

But his friends weren’t buying it.

“Man, she is playing you.”

“She’s nothing but a party girl.”

“Anita is always on the prowl for the fattest wallets and deepest pockets.”

“Neither one of them live or work on the east side, Derrick. Man, why go all that way for a damn taco unless they wanted to hide and not be recognized?”

But Derrick had seen them. Returning from dinner with his brother’s family. A dinner he invited Anita to but she declined saying she had to prepare a presentation for work the next day.

I am too stupid for my own good! Fuck! I’m too stupid to live!

Determined to be a good boyfriend, Derrick was always trying to show Anita how important she was to him. She was home off work again today with one of her terrible migraines. Anita complained about them often. Derrick stopped by her favorite restaurant for her favorite salad, hoping his surprise visit with lunch would make her feel better.

Parking behind her late model Saab, Derrick let himself into Anita’s duplex with the key she’d given him.

He wasn’t surprised to find the living room dark. Derrick’s chest tightened at the thought of the agony the bright light caused his woman.

Walking towards Anita’s bedroom, Derrick was about to call out to her—not wanting to startle her with his presence—when he heard noises coming from the kitchen.

Changing direction, Derrick headed for the kitchen.

His steps slowed. He recognized those sounds. It was Anita, and those whimpering and moans meant one thing.

His first thought was to leave and never come back.

But he couldn’t. Derrick had to see for himself. He had to face the truth about the woman he was so sure he loved. And she needed to see him. Anita would have no wiggle room to talk her way out of this.

Derrick paused in the archway which separated the kitchen from the dining area. His anger dissipated and Derrick Greene pursed his lips to keep from laughing aloud at the scene before him.

Anita Banks was naked and covered in sweat, reclined on the counter-top next to the sink. Her skinny legs gripped the back of some guy who had his head buried in her neck… and his pants around his ankles.

Neither of them spoke, each lost in their own lusty race for release.

Since both were still unaware of his presence… and showing no signs of stopping soon, Derrick felt it was time for a reality check and cleared his throat.

Anita’s attention snapped to the archway, her eyes widening. She pushed the anonymous man away from her as though he’d been attacking her. She half jumped, half fell off the counter, attempting to cover her body with her hands as she approached Derrick.

He took two steps backward and glared at her. Glancing over at the still unnamed man who was scurrying to get his pants up and fastened, Derrick spotted the company logo on his shirt.

He laughed aloud this time, but it was more of a joyless growl.

“The water delivery man, Anita? You’re fucking the water delivery man?”

“B-Baby, no! It’s not what you-”

“Shut up, Anita!”

Giving up on her futile attempt to cover herself, Anita reached out to him. “Baby, listen for-”

Derrick stepped back again. This left enough room for the hapless water delivery man to squeeze past Derrick, his back sliding along the wall. He kept his eyes on Derrick Greene… waiting for the man to attack.

Derrick shook his head and returned his cold gaze to the naked woman before him.

“Let me explain, Derrick! Willie and I go way back and-”

“And you told him what? You’re with me now? Then what? You thought you’d just give him one fuck for old time’s sake?”

“No! No! It’s not like that! I’m not like that!”

“No, Anita, you’re not. You’re worse. You lie to my face about loving me, and as soon as I turn my back, you got your legs spread wide for any man willing!”

“Don’t talk like that, Derrick! I’m not a slut!”

“Name it and claim it, Anita.”

Derrick bolted for the front door, wanting to be anywhere but near Anita Banks. He froze midway through the living room when he realized he was still holding his keys in one hand and Anita’s lunch in the other. Setting the bag down, he removed Anita’s door key from his key chain. When he turned around, Anita was rushing toward him, wrapping an old brown throw around herself.

“Here’s your key, Anita.”

“No, Derrick, please? Let’s sit down and talk about this. We can fix this.”

He frowned and tossed the key at her feet.

“We? We? There’s no “we” here, Anita. There’s just you, Miss Fuck-‘Em-All, and me, the dumb-ass who fell for your games.” He grabbed the bag. “I came here today because I was worried about you… worried! You said your head hurt so bad you couldn’t see straight. I decided to surprise you with lunch.”

He upended the bag. The southwestern salad with grilled chipotle chicken and house dressing on the side fell to the floor in a colorful, but messy pile.

“Surprise! Enjoy!”

Before she could respond, Derrick stormed out of Anita’s apartment, never looking back.

She watched him speed off, then closed her door.

Why did I ever give him a key?

Anita Banks wasn’t sorry Derrick caught her cheating. She was angry with herself for not being more on her guard. Derrick Greene was pissed off for right now, but she’d win him back. Nice guys like Derrick were no match for her wiles. Anita would wear him down… in time. Just in time for that trip to Ensenada he’d promised her.

(Image from Google)
©2017 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved