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Excerpt for Discretion: The Secrets of Cameron Rigby by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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CHAPTER ONE


“Officer Rigby, do you copy?” The female voice stretched over the radio. Placing a hand on her chest as her other fingers which had bitten nails grasped the radio. She pressed the button on the side.

“Officer Cameron Rigby, Charlie Romeo four-two-five copy,” She responded.

There was a pause. All she could hear was a static noise before a response finally came.

“What is your twenty?”

Since she was already familiar with the town landmarks, Cameron placed her right foot on the accelerator as she headed to the next intersection a few blocks away.

The beams on the headlights pierced through the darkness. Lighting up half the signs on the road as they drew near. Cameron eased off the pedal as she came to a traffic light at the intersection. Since her eyesight was not perfect as her optometrist had made her realize a few days back, she squinted. She was able to see faintly, the numbers on the block sign that was before her.

For a moment, she struggled to get a grip of the speakerphone. Pressing a button indicating that dispatch should be activated.

“Heading South on State Street and Eighty-Sixth.”

A scratchy noise ripped into the silence before succumbing to the sound of the thoughts in her head while she was waiting for a response. Taking a deep breath she slowly let it out. I should’ve stayed in bed tonight. She considered to herself. As she glanced into the rearview mirror, the road was vacant. The rays of light from the street lamps splashed onto the asphalt that lay resting behind her.

Using her hand to adjust the mirror so she could see clearly, her fingers couldn’t stop trembling for some seconds. The lack of nutrition has left her edgy and jumpy with caffeine and energy drinks that have slowly become the main part of her diet in the past year. Eventually, her hands steadied and wrapped themselves around the long sleek frame of the mirror. With a slight tilt of her head, Cameron looked into the mirror with her wide bright blue eyes, the whiteness in her eyes had turned into a fiery red in protest with the lack of sleep. The gray clouds that encircled made them look different from every other pair of blue eyes.

She who used to have plump cheeks had high cheekbones which made her face gorgeous. However, they were now protruded above her cheeks perhaps because of the strain she was experiencing at that moment.

“Yup! Should have stayed home,” She retorted as she stared at the stranger whom she saw through her mirror. As she scanned the strange scrawny faced, she could see that her full lips were red with chaps at both the upper and lower parts.

Though she applied some balm religiously to soothe the lips, there was always a protest as it burned once the moisture had contact with the rough canvas. With that they became darker in color, creating a contrast with her pale skin and black hair color.

The mirror was slammed into a vertical position as static came back over the radio. She tried to readjust the mirror only for it to pop off the window. She stared at the broken mirror for a few moments before tossing it on the empty seat beside her. There was a female voice uttering some sound over the radio.

“We have a Two-Sixty-one, report of rape. The victim is sixteen-year-old Abby Martin at Eight-Six-Two-Zero Monroe Street.”

Swiftly, she guided the car towards the curb and applied pressure on the break as she parked the vehicle. Trying to maintain slow and steady breathing. She sat there pinned to her seat, unable to move. The sound of her heartbeat could be heard if someone passed by her car. Though things around her appeared blurry, she was able to use her fingertips to glide across the power window button. As the side glass rolled down, the summer chill from outside had hit her. Closing her eyes her head bowed. The beads of sweat on her face were magically dried up right from the pores. The cool air was able to soothe her lungs as they expanded while she gulped the air.

Lifting her head she opened her eyes slowly only to find that her sight was again, blurry. The leather on the steering wheel gently pressed against her forehead as she leaned on it to rest while trying to focus on breathing. “Get a Grip Rigby.” She muttered to herself. Trying to pull it back together she reminded herself that she had a job to do. After a few moments she started to regain focus, the blur ceased and her breathing steadied as she concentrated on the one thing she lived for, her job. Mapping out the location of the address dispatch had given her, she concluded that it was only minutes away from where she was. Raising her head she nodded to herself, pressed her lips into a hard line as she decided it was time to head there since she was needed.

Picking up the radio speaker microphone she confirmed. “Ten-four, in route.”

CHAPTER TWO



Cameron maintained the required speed limit as she drove. No rush, the suspect is gone, odds are it happened days before, and the victim is just barely notifying the officials. She thought to herself.

Recalling her own experience, it had been days after that she was able to summon the courage to confide in another person and file a report. “A lot of good that report did!” She said angrily to herself.

A teenager at the time, barely sixteen. She recalled the fear, the thought of people staring whispering and judging haunted her imagination. The doubts exhibited by the officers at the time who took down her report disturbed her. Confiding in her Mother would have left her feeling disappointed in herself.

Indeed, that was an experience she wishes she could get off her mind but it just wouldn’t go. Reports were only made and records documented because it was procedure. No arrests let alone convictions, followed the so-called investigation.

Cameron had been working for the Unified Police Department for the past five years so she was used to the routine. She knew what needed to be done and what evidence needed to be taken to get a conviction. None of those was made available in her experience years prior.

As her heart raced like it was going to jump out of her chest, her fingers which appeared chomped, started to wobble. Calm down Cameron, it’s a rape call not an active shooter.

From her training she knew that it was unnecessary to get worked up by every call received.

“Only be alarmed when the situation calls for it,” She said out loud to herself.

However, this small pep talk wouldn’t calm her nerves or her knotted stomach.

Mindlessly, she made a right turn off to the next street since it was not strange to her. She proceeded down to the residential zone just off the main street that made a divide between the East and the West.

The intersection brought back memories of when she was in high school where the East and West were usually a point of rivalry. Though only a separating road, none of her classmates could deny the raging tension. She could not help but laugh as she couldn’t fathom the reasons for the side wars she had with the kids. She shook her head as she wondered if high schools were still like that.

Since the residents were asleep, the street was dark and the homes couldn’t be seen clearly. Though there were flickering lamps every five feet, they didn’t produce much light across the roadway.

This is a breeding ground for criminal activity. She mused, shaking her head in disdain as she realized that the persistent complaints of officers and residents had yielded no results. There were not enough light posts in the zone. Moving carefully along the road, she shifted her gaze from left to right as she tried to make out shapes and shadows.

The neighborhood was quiet but she knew that things can become escalated within a twinkle of the eye.

Stopping at an intersection of a four-way-stop she saw the sign read MONROE STREET. She continued to go right as the sign had directed.

The headlights of her car splashed onto the cruisers a few houses ahead causing the word, POLICE to glow in reflection. As she pulled closer, the inscription grew brighter. Pulling up in front of the house she found a perfect spot to park along the curb in front of a white unmarked dodge charger.

The house was strangely protected as white poles were erected as a form of barricade alongside some gigantic white chains. The whole place looked like a recycling factory as old junk lay everywhere. It was an improvement of the surrounding houses though as there were no garishly colored tires doubling as yard art or pottery. This house was the only one in the neighborhood that was breathing in life and chaos in the midst of a dark slumbering town.

The lights squinted through the windows that seeped through the drawn blinds. The porchlight flooded the yard where the long grass peaked and fell where footsteps have trenched through and created no sense of desertion.

It was 1 a.m. She took out her notepad to take note of the time and the exact address of the house. There was already an officer standing watch on the porch. Cameron had a disgusted look on her face as she opened the door to her car. Probably a rookie not knowing what the hell he’s doing, she thought to herself. Making her way out of the car she trucked her way through the break in the fencing and up to the house. As the long grass caved in at her feet, she spotted the watchman and observed him. He's short. She couldn’t help as a chuckle slipped through her throat. Then, she noticed red strips on his shoulders and collar as he came into view staring at her from the top of the stairs. Yup, I was right…a damn rookie.

“So, what do we have going on here?” She asked, attempting to hold back the irritation that surged through her.

“A rape case, the victim is sixteen-year-old Abby Martin. Mom came home from the store to her daughter crying in the bathroom.” He placed his hands on his belt as though, to complement his puffed up chest.

Cameron shut her eyes for a split second and rolled them. He’s getting a real kick out of this, isn’t he? Taking the three steps up to the porch, she got a better look at him in the light. He’s young. She thought. Probably twenty-one.

As she looked him over his blonde hair and blue eyes, he had an angelic face that starred questionably back at her. Fucking pretty boy. She mused as her thoughts created impatience that met her irritation. Be nice Cameron, I’m sure the public will listen to him.

Seems like a hothead too: an easy target for sure. She shook her head at her own thoughts, and smiled instead. He cocked his head to the side as he raised his brow at her.

She managed to keep a fit of laughter at bay when the thought of a lost puppy came to mind. Clearing her throat, “Can you provide me with any additional information other then what dispatch can tell me?” The words came out more cold then she had intended. His eyes lowered and he started to rub his fingertips over the grains on his duty belt. She watched as beads of sweat glossed over his forehead just below the hairline of the slicked back hair.

“Well, um, there is a detective inside with my Field Training Officer,” he finally muttered.

Nodding, she walked past him towards the door feeling a slight sting of regret. He’s got a lot to learn she thought trying to fight off the urge to apologize. If he’s wanting to make a real go at this he’s got to develop some thicker skin. Taking another glance at him his eyes met her, sad puppy dog eyes. Grinning she winked at him and his face brightened with a crooked half smile. Turning her attention to the dark wooden door she took a deep breath, turned the handle and went inside.

CHAPTER THREE



The entrance opened into the living room, it was clean and simple having bare white walls that continued to the ceiling. There was only one light in the room which was attached to a fan in the middle of the ceiling that bounced off the walls.

Cameron squinted as she tried to get her eyes adjusted to the erratic contrast from the dim porch light to what could be considered as looking directly into the sun. By the wall across the room a single large sofa lay nestled between another wall and the two stairs that led to the kitchen. A woman sat on the faded gray sofa with a ball of used napkins waded into her palms. An older officer sat next to her pen in hand and notebook jotting down notes while another stood in between the woman and herself with his back facing her.

An empty tissue box lay undisturbed after being gutted from its contents with balled up tissues spread all around it. She was a mess. The Mother. Cameron assumed, by the look of the woman she felt it was a safe assumption. She was thin, having brown hair that showed signs of aging as the grey stripes in her hair glistened with every turn and shake of her head. Her skin looked like leather with an unnatural bronze. Though quietly, she sobbed uncontrollably. Cameron stood there watching the woman for a moment and wondered if her own Mother would’ve acted the same way.

It was only after some seconds that the two officers noticed Cameron’s presence, the older one nodded to the detective in a gesture that someone was behind him he started to turn around as she shut the door behind her and began walking toward the trio. Stopping she stared at him as he came full circle and faced her. Detective Jake O’Neal, the resemblance on his face is to that of a man to have seen a ghost waltz in. Dark green eyes were wide as he stared at her. The look of surprise took over the look of shock that was etched on his face. His dark skin and tousled chocolate hair made him look like he just got finished with a day in the mountains. He surely was fit for duty. Watching him as he stepped toward her she noticed he was a lot bigger than she remembered. His polo shirt nearly ripping at the seams hugged his arms that strained and relaxed when he placed his pen into his right arm pocket. She studied him carefully, not sure what his reaction would be.

With her heart already maintaining a quickened heartbeat adrenaline surged through her veins on impulse to anything with uncertainty. Her hands began to tremble as their eyes locked on each other. Grasping her duty belt as if for support she laced her fingers underneath it and held on tight.

“Damn, Jake.she whispered under her breath. The sound of her heart pounding drummed through her ears.

He smiled at her revealing his pearly white teeth, as he kept her pinned with his eyes on her. Her brows creased and a chuckle escaped her as she attempted to respond with a cool smile. You’re a dumbass Rigby! Jake is the same arrogant ass who you were in the Academy with!

Dismissing her thoughts, she turned and walked towards the stairs before he could reach her.

Catching a whiff of smoked cigarettes while stepping into the kitchen, she waived the uneasy scent off her mind as it knotted her stomach. One side of the kitchen had cupboards that were plastered white, the other side held more equipment with the sink, a stove and open shelves that held pots, pans and spices. Cameron had a feeling that she had been to the kitchen before but before she could grasp the memory, the glimpse disappeared.

The floor was ornamented with hardwood of various shades and textures. A simple fit for purpose wooden table that created seats for four, stood in the center of the kitchen. Everything had a place, or it would seem. By the edge of the table furthest from her was an ashtray and a cocktail glass with melting ice in it, just lying there. The air reeked of stale smoke and whiskey. Once again, her mind began to reveal a memory which sooner than expected, was all gone. A dream perhaps? She considered the option to herself. No, a dream wouldn’t be as vivid as this.

She walked towards the table and examined the cigarette butts smashed in the small glass tray. Sliding her hand into the side pocket, she retrieved her latex gloves and slid them on. Picking up a butt, she examined it. Marlboro, most likely reds.

“It’s good to see you Rigby.” His voice was low as he gave his expression questionably. Putting down the burned-out cigarette, she removed her hand from the gloves and tucked them inside the other pocket of her pants.

“Be sure to find out if the Mother smokes.” She snapped “If not… well, you know where I’m going with that.”

Finishing her round at the table she stopped right in front of Jake. Standing firmly she grasped her belt again as she stared up at him. Her heart had steadied with the distraction of the kitchen and her mind cleared as she stared at his face. He had high cheek bones an angled jaw with plump lips that were never dried or rough looking. Unconsciously, she licked her lips before pressing them in a hard line to hide the unsightly redness and rough patches she adorned on her face.

“So, what do we have, Detective?”

He heaved a sigh as he shook his head. Arching a brow she cocked her head to the side trying to figure out his mood. The thought of him irritated amused her and brought a smile to her face while he continued to gaze at her.

“Janet, the lady in the living room, was the one who called. She claims she went to the store and left her daughter, Abby, home with her live-in boyfriend. His name-Michael Smith.”

Drawing out her notepad and pen, she started to write. MICHAEL SMITH. Ha, I was right about her being the Mother. She thought proudly to herself.

AND?” she said as she glanced at him, motioning with her hand that he should continue.

“Anyway.” He started shaking his head. Placing his hands inside the pockets of his tactical pants. “She said he was the one that raped her daughter. At least that’s all we’ve been able to gather before you came in.”

“So this Smith guy, was he the boyfriend to mother or daughter?” She asked looking from her notepad up to him.

“We haven’t found that part out yet.”

“So, I can assume no description either?”

He shook his head. “Not at the moment. We arrived only a few minutes before you.” Taking a deep breath, she let it out fast and quiet.

“Have you spoken with the victim?”

Shaking his head again, “No, I tried to get her to talk but she won’t. In fact, she hasn’t come out from the bathroom at all according to her Mothers statement. That’s why I requested to get a female officer out here.”

Poor girl. She could relate. Cameron gave a slow nod as she slipped her notepad and pen into her front pocket. He took a close step to her, but she stepped back and peered down the hallway. The tension between them rose and he stepped back again.

He appeared expressionless as she glanced questionably at him. Shaking her head at the unspoken words she headed down the hall to the bathroom.

CHAPTER FOUR



The corridor was dark, with a single beam of light across the carpet two doors down. As she inched closer to the light the sound of sobs became louder. Her heart sank as it thudded against her chest. A lump formed in her throat as she came to the dark wood door and stared at it for a moment while she listened. The adrenaline ceased as she heard only cries and sniffles. No water was running, and she became thankful that she wasn’t showering washing all the evidence down the drain. There is hope. She considered to herself.

Hesitantly she brought her hand up and knocked lightly and peered down the hallway at Jake.

"Abby?" She called out gently as she stood by the door and continued to stare at Jake.

"Go away!" was all the response she got amidst sniffles.

Patience was what she was going to need, and a lot of it. Taking a deep breath she closed her eyes momentarily before deciding to take a relaxed position and sat down on the floor just in front of the door. Crossing her legs, she leaned against the wall. Taking a deep breath, she looked to the end of the hall. There he was! Damn it, Jake, Go away! Jerking her head to the left, she was glad that he remembered that was her way of telling him to leave. He slowly walked out of her sight, shaking his head back at her. They maintained eye contact till he waded off. Rolling her eyes at him, God, he drives me nuts! She recollected to herself.

Now, there was no distraction. Turning to face the door she nodded to herself.

“Abby...I'm Officer Cameron Rigby," she said in a low voice.

"Please, just go away. I don’t want to talk to anyone.”

"I can't do that Abby; I’m here to help.”

"I don’t want to talk about it!"

Adrenaline surged through her body. Damn, calm down, Rigby. She took a deep breath she drew her eyes up to the dark ceiling. Getting information from a criminal is easy compared to this. Threats to add more severe charges usually gets them talking, but this? Getting a victim to start talking is entirely different. And difficult! I can’t do this. Christ! I always make someone else handle this part of the job. But now I have to. Bowing her head, she put her head in her hands and stared at the floor and her crossed legs. How the hell am I going to do this? Sympathy is not my strong suit. How would my mother have handled this? Shaking her head as it lay in her hands she brought her head back up. You wouldn’t know because you never told her. You’re such a dumbass.

Commotion came from down the hall, as she stared down the hall she saw an evidence technician in the kitchen dropping his tool box and other smaller cases down onto the wooden floor. Tall and skinny this man looked like he could use a few burgers with pale shriveled skin and thinning hair. Gloved up he jerked the box open taking out powders, brushes and measuring tapes. The smaller bag he withdrew what looked like clear masking tape and bags of all sorts, plastic and paper.

After a few moments longer she observed the technician until he was out of her sight bringing her attention back to door that lay locked between the crying girl and herself. Taking a few breaths she summoned the courage to try get Abby to allow her in.

"I know what you are going through, Abby." She trailed off taking another breath

“You don’t know shit!” Abby screamed followed by the sound of her blowing her nose.

No, my dear, you don’t know shit.

Leaning forward, the cold wooden door pressed up against her forehead and cooled off the sweat that had started to drip from her pores. There was a pounding in her chest and her hands were clammy.

"I know what you’re going through. I know this because the same thing happened to me when I was your age." She paused and began to take deep breaths as a lump started to form in her throat.

"Abby, I need you to tell me what happened, you need to get checked by a nurse."

There was no response. Lord help me. Please give me the strength to help this girl.

"Abby, I can’t help you if you’re not willing to talk to me." She sighed and closed her eyes. I’ve never told anyone, I don’t know how to tell anyone. There is never a reason for it. Now, there is. Over ten years later, I have to share my experience with this teenager I have no clue who she is. Knowing the debate going on inside her head could last for days, she shook her head. I have to tell this girl something. Hopefully she’ll believe that I really do understand. The conclusion had been made as she started.

"Abby.” There was a pause as she swallowed hard. “What he did to you, I know-I know how scary it is. Trust me. I know how painful it is.”

"Bullshit!" The girl yelled.

"Abby, believe me. I didn’t tell anyone until days later. In fact, I had washed away evidence and my bruises had started to heal so there wasn’t much of anything the police could go off from. All I had was a name and description.”

She continued, “But you are lucky. Let’s talk and see what can come off this so that perverted bastard doesn’t go scot free.”

There was silence as Cameron could no longer hear sobs coming from the bathroom. She decided to break the silence as precious time was wasting away.

“You need to talk to someone. Anyone. So that we have a better chance of finding and convicting the fucker that did this to you. So, he doesn’t do it to anyone else!” Her tone came out cold, harsh and quick before she could maintain control over it.

Well, you screwed that one up Rigby!

Congratulations. You just threw out the only chance of her talking to you, you bitch. Now she thinks we only want to find him to prevent another crime, and not to ease her pain. Good one there.

Closing her eyes she drew in a hard breath and drew it out loudly as frustration surged through her. Her words shot out like a Mother lecturing a child.

"Abby, you need to tell us what happened. Life after an event like this is difficult knowing that the person who assaulted you is walking free and was never punished.”

Scrambling to her feet to stand up as the sound of the door unlocking, the knob turned slowly and the door creaked open.

CHAPTER FIVE



Light flooded the hallway from the open door causing Cameron to squint momentarily, and as her eyes adjusted she looked down at the short thin girl. Big brown sodden eyes, with a face similar to a porcelain doll only swollen on one side. Evidence that her attacker had hit her. Taking her into her arms, young Abby began to weep.

"I am really scared," she said through sobs. “He was my Mom’s boyfriend. He was too strong for me to fight.” Stroking her hair, Cameron held her still without saying anything. “His eyes were black.” She bubbled out in between ragged breaths. “Teeth crooked. He. Smelled. Bad.” She continued as the sound of hiccups and heavy breathing came out while tears streamed out of her swollen eyes. “Take it easy Abby, just try to breath and calm down.” Searching her eyes she wanted to wipe away the tears but knew that it would sting too much.

“He smelled like body odor, cigarettes and whiskey.” The girl trembled as she spoke making what looked like a disgusted face. I wish I could take this away. She thought to herself.

“Abby, did he say anything to you?” she asked. Looking for the answers in her face. She recognized the fear that flashed into her eyes as the question was considered. Drawing her close for comfort, the nod was felt against Rigby’s chest.

“He said. He was going to gut me. Like a pig if I didn’t cooperate. He said. That if. I tell anyone. He will kill. My Mom and me.” She wailed into her arms as she trembled. Holding her tighter she started to sway as she calmly shushed like trying to soothe a crying baby. The knots in Cameron’s stomach tightened as a strange feeling swept over her body. She looked down the hall and saw Jake with his eyes fixed on her. She nodded as she gave him a little smile, and then pulled the girl away, staring into her sad looking eyes.

“I know you’re scared. But you have nothing to worry about. I promise you, he isn’t coming back to hurt you again. Do you see that Detective over there?” The girl turned her head quickly to where Jake was standing, and then back to Cameron, nodding.

“That is a very good friend of mine. His name is Jake O’Neal. Do you think you’d be able to tell him what you just told me?" She began to nod slowly. Turning, she took Abby by the hand and walked with her down the hallway.

“Jake, do you know if the advocate is here now?” She said as they approached the kitchen.

He nodded, maintaining his gaze on her.

The table had been dusted for prints, the glass had been removed along with the ashtray. The tech was finishing up loading the last of his bags before he took hold and stalked out the door just off from the kitchen.

Once they met up with Jake, she turned to Abby. “There is an advocate here. She’s a nurse who will attend to you. She needs to check your injuries, and if you’re comfortable with it, she will take pictures of them. It will help convict your attacker after we catch him, honey.”

Watching as the girl’s face go pale, she began to tremble again. Taking hold of her other hand she gave it a reassuring squeeze.

“Don’t worry.” Switching her hands, she put an arm around the girl. “If her questions or actions start making you highly uncomfortable, all you have to do is say something and she will stop. She will only do what you’re comfortable with it. I want you to try to keep in mind that the more information and evidence she can gather, the more chances we have of getting a conviction. Do you understand?”

She nodded against her shoulder.

Cameron nodded at Jake. He mirrored back in response.

“Abby.” He stated to the frightened girl who looked up at him. “Once you’re finished with the nurse, if you’re up for it, I will see if you still want to talk, okay?” The girl nodded in agreement as she looked from Jake to Cameron.

“Good Girl.” Cameron stated and gave her a quick squeeze and led her to the stairs.

Looking down into the living room, the rookie and his Field Training Officer were there, standing by the door. The Advocate stood by the couch next to Janet, after blowing her nose on what was left of a tissue she glanced up and noticed the trio standing on top of the stairs. Immediately she jumped from her seat and slowly walked to the stairs.

“Abby, honey, are you okay?” She asked her daughter calmly. Of course she’s not okay lady, do you not know what the fuck just happened? Cameron thought to herself trying to remove the scowl on her face. Calm down Rigby, I’m sure she doesn’t know how to respond to this. With a nod Abby and Cameron walked down the stairs to meet Janet. “I am so sorry this happened baby.” Taking her daughter in her arms they both cried together, their tears were all dried up but that didn’t prevent Janet from trying to wipe at her face as well as her daughters. Walking back into the kitchen Cameron searched the cupboards for a pair of glasses and successfully found them after two cabinets later. Taking the cups in hand she turned the stainless steel facet on and filled both glasses to the brim with icy cool water. Carefully she walked down the stairs with the pair in her hands and gave them to Janet and Abby who were now seated together on the couch hand in hand. The advocate looked up from consoling the two, her eyes met Cameron’s and looked cross at first until she scanned the glasses and nodded. She was a tall woman with long brown hair and brown eyes. She had a very slim figure, having no curves.

“Dear Abby, my name is Martha Sedgwick.” Cameron heard the woman say in a very calm voice. Watching the girl settle in next to her Mom. Nodding to Abby, she pulled out a card from her side pocket setting the card on the table before turning and making her way to the door just off the living room where the three officers were waiting outside.

They all stared at her as she stepped outside of the house. The dim porchlight and the crisp summer air nipped at her face as she shifted the uneasy feeling of becoming the spotlight to just plain annoyed.

Sweat was beginning to drip from her head down to her neck. As she slid past the men who maintained their gaze she stopped at the top of the steps on the porch. Looking out into the darkness an uneasy feeling swept through her. Her heart skipped a beat as she heard footsteps. Right beside her, was Jake. Oh! It’s only Jake. He stood staring at her. What the hell is your problem? Her thoughts showed on her face as she scowled at him.

"We need to have a little chat,” he said answering her thoughts. She rolled her eyes as she let out a sigh while she walked down the porch to her cruiser.

“Rigby!”

“What?!” She snapped as she walked to the car. The world seemed to be on a halt as he clutched her shoulders, spinning her around to face him. Good God!

“We need to talk!”

“Oh, do we now? About what?” She scowled at him. What the fuck do you want?

“What the hell is your problem with me? I haven’t seen or heard from you in one year and our first time around each other, you act like some bitch! God, forbid we be in the same room together!” He hurled, losing his sense of control his grip on her shoulders began to tighten. Without wincing from the sharp pain caused by his fingers, she looked over her shoulders to see his knuckles turn white. Watching as the anger fled his eyes, his face softened and he released her. Running his fingers through his tousled hair, he drew in a breath and released it loudly.

“I don’t have a problem with you, the only problem I have, is with myself; and that’s all you need to know.” The darkness of the night and the rays from the street lamps showed the curves of his cheeks and sculpted jaw. Christ, don’t give me THAT look, Jake. She fought off tears that were building up.

“I have an idea who did this to her,” she said, in an attempt to erase the prevailing tension.

“What do you mean?” Jake asked, taken aback.

Success! Distraction! “The suspect’s name is Michael Turner, not Michael Smith as she said earlier.” It came out of her mouth so fast she was as surprised as he was.

“And how do you know that?”

“I just know,” she responded as she took a few steps back closer to her cruiser, reaching for the handle to the door. Crap, just dug myself another hole. She mused. Jake grabbed her by the hand, preventing her from going in.

“God you’re an asshole!” she shouted, frowning at him.

“Who is Michael Turner?” He demanded. They scowled at each other for a few moments, green eyes to blue.

“Tell me!”

“I’ll only tell when I know that I’m correct for sure. Will you please step aside?” she said, twisting her hand out of his grasp and folding her arms as she rested on her right leg. He stepped away from the car and she slid past him on her way into the car. He had a familiar scent on him that she remembered all too well, soap and gunpowder. That gave her a heart ache, an almost homesick feeling as emotions started to surge.

“Do you trust me?” Cameron asked, now less irritated.

“Of course, I do.” He stood there staring down at her as she fastened her seat belt and turned the key in the ignition before looking back at him.

“Then, trust me. I shouldn’t have to tell you how I know, I just know. I promise.” Taking the door in his hands he guided it closed. She smiled at him, “It was really nice to see you Jake; you look good.”

Smiling at her those pearly whites beamed at her as he took a step back from the car. “You, on the other hand, look like shit, you should try to get some sleep and good food,” He teased, and winked at her.

Nodding, she smiled at him and raised her middle finger, flipping him off.

“Don’t be a stranger, okay? Please, be safe.” His words came out like a plea as she put the car in gear and drove off.

CHAPTER SIX



Lurking in the bushes just across the street, he perched on the grass, satisfied with himself. Watching as Jake walked into the house. Reaching into his shirt pocket of the recently torn shirt he grabbed the pack of Marlboro Reds. Wiggling his fingers, meticulously pinching the one that he had turned upside down for luck, slid it from the remaining cigarettes and rested it on his lips. Patting himself down he felt the hard box of the matches he kept in the shirt pocket, opened it up and struck the match. The spark and instant flame danced across his face as he lit the cigarette. Taking a long deep puff of the burning tobacco mixed in with the sulfuric aroma from the air he held in the breath filled smoke for a few moments before drawing it out nice and slow. Just taught another bitch a lesson about men. Another brat scarred for life. He thought proudly to himself. Looking down at his torn shirt he fanaticized about the event, “She sure put up one hell of a good fight.” Smirking to himself his grin grew as he took another long drag off of his smoke. The cherry grew brighter in protest as it extended half way down the length of the cigarette. You taught her good Mike, you showed her real good. As if someone was there congratulating him on his performance he pretended to bow while still in his crouched position.


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