Chapter 24: Chapter 24

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

Reads: 66

Kate released the chain on Rontu as they neared the front of the bar. To her surprise, the large steel door was gaping. She noted that the immense weight was now held open by four bricks, a few loose boards, and different sized trash cans. All of the components were arranged in a way that resembled a man flailing his arms. She became amused that her constant nagging about the door’s weight was resolved in the most sarcastic way possible. As she crossed the threshold she removed her sunglasses and paused for her eyes to adjust to the dimmer lighting. She glanced curiously around the room for anyone familiar. Catching sight of her friend she moved forward.

 Seated at the bar with her back to her was Alex. Her feet swayed above the ground as she studied something in front of her. Kate couldn’t deny that she missed their easy friendship. In just over a month, she had adjusted and felt herself above water. She almost felt she was able to catch her breath.

Alex turned at the sound of Rontu shaking his collar as he trotted over to his bed to lie down. Seeing Kate she smiled and picked up what she had been looking at.

 “You forgot this.” 

 “Yeah, I know.”Kate nodded looking at the book the brunette waved in her hand. “I just made a quick stop before my run. I wasn’t in the mood for reading today.”

 “Huh.” Alex’s face scrunched up in slight shock and confusion. “I bet Tyler was disappointed.” She made a pout and tilted her head. “Not even a word?”

 Kate couldn’t help but smile at the almost too accurate mimic of how her son would beg and try to stall the inevitable bedtime by wanting to read more. She had tried to continue the tradition by reading when she’d visit the cemetery every day. With a sigh, she tossed her sunglasses on the bar and grabbed the book. She quickly thumbed through the pages and then set it back down.

 “I’m running out of books. I have to stretch them out,” she responded quietly.

 Alex tapped the bar and moved away. “We’ll just have to get some more then.”

 “What’s the point?” Kate asked looking from the book to her friend. “I can’t find the books I really want anyway.”

 “Let me worry about it then,” she called over as she moved towards the office.

 Kate watched her retreat and then stepped around the bar to the freshly brewed coffee. After she poured a cup she made her way to the nearest table. Settled in she leaned back and threw her feet up on the round wood top. She took in the quiet and slowly sipped the steaming beverage. Several small boxes stacked on a neighboring table caught Kate’s attention. She set her mug down and swung her legs back down to investigate what was contained within them.

 Kate noticed a sudden urgency in Alex as she remerged into the bar and picked up her pace towards her, but Kate disregarded her and looked back to the top box flipping off the lid.

“Just some old cases,” Alex said as she hastily approached.

“Yeah?” Kate threw an arm up that blocked Alex from getting to it and grabbed the first file. She opened it to read the contents and Alex once again tried to take them, but Kate swatted her away. Her stomach dropped at what she saw, she wasn’t prepared to read about herself so clinically. 

“How did you get a hold of these?”

“You don’t need to read this,” Alex said pointedly and grabbed the file away. 

“Then why are you?”

“I told you.”

“The answer isn't in there. It’s in what Jeremy had discovered.”

“I know. That’s this box.” She pointed to the one beneath the one Kate was now emptying.“I wasn’t expecting you back so soon to see these.”

The sudden feeling of weakness and the failure that she had been to Tyler overwhelmed Kate. She had been content taking refuge behind her walls. She had safely secured all the torturous events and pain into her many compartments but now the locks loosened even more. Opening them meant facing herself and that scared her more than staring down the worst human beings the world has to offer. She dropped the file on the table and looked at Alex. She could see the apology in her eyes and she couldn’t be mad at her. Alex had said she wasn’t going to stop until she had uncovered everything she had lost after the accident. Kate thought she was ready, but seeing it again was a rogue wave that took her out. She suddenly felt like she was swirling in the wash unable to breathe and with no idea which way was up. She quietly excused herself and weaved her way to the stairs. Alex held quiet, but Kate knew it couldn’t be avoided forever.

***

Alex had watched in a forced silence as Kate disappeared up the stairs. She never tried to pretend she could relate to the pain that flooded Kate, but she knew the feeling of drowning in your own thoughts and personal torture. To be haunted by your past, your decisions, and the immense guilt of tragic failures.

 She shoved the files back in and let the box drop gracelessly onto the floor. Alex took her seat back at the bar. The book that Kate had forgotten remained where she had tossed it. It caught her interest again. She reached out and slid it closer. This time as she studied the cover she found her eyes losing focus to the words or illustration. She flipped the pages and stopped when it reached the bookmarked pages. She felt the emotional response change from the one she had when she was looking earlier. This time as she looked at the picture that held the place between the thin papers, her heart constricted. The smiling hazel eyes tore at her and felt like a solid punch to the gut. The guilt she had continuously buried deep began to resurface. 

“I’m sorry, Tyler,” she whispered through a choking breath.

All she could do was replace the picture and push the book away. It did little good to keep her from trying in vain to remember what it was that she once knew. The information she lost when Sloane set his sights on silencing her. Now, files filtered through her mind, pictures and events, but the persistent blank spot consumed her. Her brain was stuck in pause and no matter what they tried nothing seemed to crack through the blockade. 

Her phone buzzing took her out of her thoughts. She fished the phone from her back pocket and became more curious when she saw Luke’s name on the screen. With all that had happened, he had every right to never speak to her again, but he continued to be there, unwavering. 

“Luke, has something come up with that name I sent you?” she asked with hesitation. She didn’t want to be faced with more disappointment. She felt he was the only chance she had to find out why the name nagged at her so much.

“I haven’t had an opportunity, I’m sorry, but that’s not why I’m calling.”

“Okay?” Alex asked in encouragement.

“Have you seen or spoken to Katelynn Quinn, or know how we can get in touch with her?”

“Actually, yes. She’s staying with me.” As she answered Kate stepped from the last stair and back into the bar. Alex put her hand up to stop Kate from retreating to the office. In reaction to her sign language Kate’s face twisted with puzzlement but stopped. Having success in halting Kate’s movement Alex extended the phone and mouthed that it was Luke on the other end.

Kate hesitated at first and didn’t break eye contact with Alex as she drew the device to her ear. There was little that Alex could make out as the two spoke. Kate’s eyes widened and then suddenly came to life as she began to fire questions to the Detective on the other end.

When the call ended Alex became more eager and anxious to know what was spoken about. Kate handed the phone back to Alex and dropped onto a bar stool. 

“Michael O’Hara’s out of prison,” she said with a sarcastic tone on saying his name.

“Jeremy’s out? How?”

“Some legal loophole.” She shrugged. “I stopped listening once he got into the possible need for protection or whatever.”

Alex felt a surge of excitement build within her. “Does Luke know where he is?” 

She didn’t care to consider who pulled the strings to get him out and why. She wanted to see it as a positive for them and not a danger like Luke suggested.

Kate shook her head. “He doesn’t. He was on vacation and came back to the information. I guess he’s been out for over a month, but no one thought to give me a heads up.”

“He’ll come to us,” Alex promised but more realistically hoped.

“Either way we need to be ready. I don’t have any trust in him or his motives, but I do want answers.”


Submitted: October 26, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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