Chapter 14: Chapter 14

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 61

As soon as Alex entered her apartment she threw her keys onto the small bar that broke the space of her dining area and kitchen. She ignored the clatter they made as they slid across the tile and settled on the floor. Time was moving forward too quickly. The evening was upon her and she felt nothing was any clearer, except that she had to find Jeremy before anyone else. She was being pulled in so many directions, a tug of war she had created herself. Her need to be in every room there was any discussion of the case and to be the first to hear of anything new. She knew it was ridiculous but it was the only way she felt any control of the unfolding events. She had quickly realized what the next step had to be, but she pulled out the phone Byron had given her with reluctance. She had not received a call like she had been told would happen and began to think it was just a prop to keep her hooked on the line. Flipping it open she called the only number listed in the address book but wasn’t surprised when there was no answer. She called back two more times and then waited. Byron would call back; it just had to be on his time. His domineering nature challenged her constantly, but she had to do it his way if she wanted to get any information he knew. Alex found herself pacing the length of her apartment until the phone finally came to life. Hastily she separated the two pieces of the clamshell and put it to her ear, but didn’t speak. She held the silence to maintain a sliver of control.

“You called me.” The voice on the other side chirped.

“Want to fill me in on what’s going on?”

“I won’t talk on the phone.”

“Then where?”

“You know where.” Was all he said and the line went dead.

She pulled the phone away and stared briefly at the device. Her forced role in the current game’s design was becoming tiresome and playing along began to whittle away at her. She was physically and mentally feeling every crack and chip so acutely. With a breath of exhaustion, she grabbed her keys and bag. Alex paused when she got to the door and slowly opened it to study the cars parked below and along the street. She figured Luke would be hanging back to see what she would do, but there was no sign of him or any other that would indicate she was under surveillance. She had to take the risk but would proceed as if she was.

The drive along the coast usually invoked a calm inside her, but no amount of beauty would ease her anxiety. The sky was tipping closer to night as it darkened and the oranges and reds of the setting sun drowned out the vibrant blue that had held strong all day. As she drove Alex constantly looked in her mirror to see if she was being followed. She had made unnecessary turns and stops to be sure. Once she was content that she didn’t have a tail, Alex pulled into the parking lot of the Ridgemont State Beach. Only a few spots were filled with vehicles of the brave winter surfers unfazed by the dropping temperatures. Alex parked facing the beach and watched them come in one by one as the sun fully dipped below the horizon. After the last car left, she got out. Taking another look around she stepped onto the cement path that ran parallel to the beach and backtracked until she reached a trail that led up to the road above her. It switch-backed and got steeper until it finally plateaued revealing a bench just feet from the edge. The spot was a favorite for couples to watch the sunset but was difficult to get to, so it was often void of anyone. She sat down and tried to pretend to watch the dark water in front of her. It wasn’t long before she felt his presence. She couldn’t help but stiffen with his proximity.

Byron chuckled at her physical response and lowered himself next to her. He crossed his legs and clasped his hands before letting out a low whistle.

“I love it up here. Especially at sunset, but even now you can almost see the waves. The moonlight is catching the rim of the swells. See?” he said pointing down beyond the cliff and beach to the undulating ocean.

Alex ignored his small talk. “Where’s Jeremy?”

 “I’m not sure.” Byron shrugged.

“You’re such a liar.”

“Me? So you’ve been completely honest with your partner, your boss?”

“You want me to be? Sure, let’s go there.” She challenged. “Because the truth will force us to face it. I’m ready, are you?”

“Relax,” he said, throwing up his arms. “We have to look at the big picture here.”

“And what’s that?”

“That things are going smoothly and you should just let it play out.”

“Smoothly?” She twisted at her waist to fully face him. Alex felt the agitation from his resistance and lack of disclosure tip her closer to the edge, but she swallowed it again to hopefully move forward. “Please, tell me how any of this is going smoothly.”

Byron smiled in amusement and looked at his hands, washing them lightly before he answered, “I’d love that just for once you could trust the process.”

“I don’t trust anyone, especially not now.”

“You trust Katelynn.”

“That’s different.”

“Hmmm.” He mused and folded his arms.

“What does that mean?” Alex wouldn’t look away from the man. She was trying to dissect and catch every nuance in his gestures, every tone fluctuation, every facial twitch, but he knew how to control all aspects of his deliveries. 

“I just find it interesting that’s all.”

“What? Me trusting Kate?”

“Mmhmm. Blind loyalty can have its consequences.”

 “Just get to your point,” she said refusing to acknowledge his clear attempt to create doubt. She wouldn’t deviate from what she knew about Kate and her character.

“Make sure your next move is thought out very carefully.”

With his words fully sinking in Alex felt a shift in the energy between them. Her guard raised more. “Is that a threat?”

“See it as you want,” he suggested with indifference. 

“I won’t allow any of this.”

“It’s not about what you want. It’s about what will be.” With the words, he rose and straightened his coat. Before stepping away he looked down and smiled at her. “It’s quite simple, Alex, let it go.”

She watched him disappear into the darkness that was just beyond the cone of light that had encircled them from the lone light pole above. It was a fitting metaphor for what she felt was happening. All she could do was sit with her anger and try to figure out her next move. She wasn’t about to let anything go and knew at that moment that she may not come out the other end unscathed. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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