Chapter 25: Chapter 25

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

Reads: 72

Kate always welcomed the silence of weekdays. As much as the rowdy patrons that frequented the nondescript bar every weekend kept her on her toes and entertained, the quiet was preferred. She didn’t mind the menial task of washing the barware. She stood at the end of the bar drying the almost endless stack of beer mugs. As her towel swiped at the water droplets she stared thoughtfully to the darkened sky beyond the furthest window. All day her mind would circle back to a nagging feeling someone was watching or following her. The last time she felt like that her world was forever upended. Could it be Jeremy, hiding along the fringe until the right time to approach? But, what would that look like? Would he want to give an explanation or was it something else? She couldn’t help but linger on the thought that maybe it wasn’t just her paranoia that had her more guarded. 

Her drifting thoughts were shattered by the ear-splitting blast of a gun firing. She turned in alarm but immediately calmed when she saw the source. Although knowing that there wasn't a threat it didn't help her annoyance at what was done.

Kate directed her disapproval to the brunette holstering her gun. "Seriously, Alex?"

Alex responded by tossing her a look of satisfaction. Kate leaned against the tattered bar and hung her head briefly. 

"You know how long it took me to find that?" she whined looking back up and pointing to the shattered cork board and metal now scattered across the floor. "It was an antique!"

The brunette ignored her and strolled over to the bar twirling her empty tumbler in her hand. She slid it across the wood barrier to Kate.

"I need a refill."

Kate snatched up the glass and shook her head. "I think you're done."

"What?" Alex protested, "I'm just getting started."

Kate dropped the glass with a thud and gestured to the far wall of the humble building. "You just shot the dartboard because you were losing to yourself."

"I got a bullseye, didn't I?"

"Really? That's what you're going with?" Kate asked gripping the rounded wooden edge for restraint. "Now we don't have a dartboard and there's a hole in the wall."

"All things that can be fixed." Alex waved her off not looking at the damage behind her. "I'll patch it up tomorrow."

"Yeah," Kate said under her breath.

Alex reached out and grabbed the glass. She raised it to Kate's eye level and tipped it towards her. "All this talk and the glass' still empty. I thought you were the queen of multitasking."

Kate couldn't help but laugh as she yanked the glass away. As irritated as she wanted to be, she knew it really didn't matter. She just had to make a fuss to keep Alex in check. She wouldn't put it past her to burn the bar down if she thought it would amuse her.

After quickly mixing up a fresh drink she handed it over and topped her own off. With full glasses, they raised them to meet. Satisfied with the crystal clear clink they smiled and took in the sweet but strong mixture of their signature drink.

"You're behind," Alex said looking over the rim of her glass.

"Always seems to happen that way when I'm behind the bar." Kate reasoned setting her glass down and returning to her task of drying the mugs. "Someone has to keep this place in order."

Alex took a seat on a barstool to watch her friend work. "Doesn't seem to be that way when I'm tending."

"Speaking of, what do you think about changing the name?" Kate asked.

"Changing the name of what?" Alex asked uneasily. Her dislike of any change seeped through her words.

"The bar."

"I like the name of the bar," Alex said with a shake of her head and then took a deep gulp of her drink.

"You do?" Kate asked in slight confusion. She had never really thought about whether she liked the name or not until she was presented with an option to change it.

The brunette nodded. "Yeah, I think it's perfect. No frills no fuss. Just Bar."

Kate set the towel down and bent down to pull up a metal sheet that had been resting behind her. Standing up with it she angled it against the bar she watched for a reaction from Alex.

"Cool." Alex studied it and wrinkled her nose. "I think."

"You don't like it?" Kate asked, and flipped it around to look at it again. Painted on it was an image of two silhouetted women drinking from martini glasses. Curved letters above them spelled out The Whisper Sisters.

"I guess I do, I just don't get it. What's a Whisper Sister?"

"It's 1920's slang for a woman proprietor of a speakeasy. Dave drew it up. He says he'll hang it for us and repaint the building."

"Oh, that's cool then. He does owe us for how much he frequents this place," Alex said setting her drink down and reaching for the sign.

"No kidding. We may have a permanent handyman in him."

Alex smiled at the comment and took the sign. Kate leaned against the bar and looked around the place. She imagined what could be fixed. A lot of people had long-running tabs Alex constantly overlooked, but it worked for her. Her sliding scale often included trade in other goods or work for drinking at the bar. While Caleb Sloane had his hands in every aspect of business in town, they made sure they remained untouched. Nothing moved in or out without his say so or cut, but they found ways. They kept stocked of alcohol from a friend that declared he owed Alex his life. She had no qualms with his offer to keep it flowing. Their long jaded history with Caleb only added to the enjoyment of how the successful resistance gnawed at him. The thought to make the bar something more had Kate's imagination running. So many people had skills they could utilize to really fix up the building.

Kate commented on her thought, "You know, we could really make this place something."

"What are you talking about?"

"Put the focus here and stop pretending we'll crack some cold case."

"What?" Alex said in shock, seemingly reading Kate deeper meaning to the statement.

"Why not?" Kate spoke softly as if contemplating the idea just for herself. "Sounds quiet."

Alex protested immediately. "No way!"

Kate shrugged. As she lifted her own glass to her lips she averted her eyes from the annoyed ones across from her. Alex dropped the sign and crossed her arms. Kate slowly moved her eyes back to meet the brunette’s.

Alex gestured around her. "You can't possibly say that you won't go crazy without a puzzle you know you could unravel because a stupid ass bar is more important. I was honestly hoping we'd move on from those cases and maybe get into private investigations."

"You're right, and sounds more appealing." Kate agreed and picked up the discarded towel to resume her chore of the mugs. She knew it was an impossible dream, but she couldn't deny wanting something calm and normal. Whatever that was. 

“Maybe one day,” she whispered to herself.

"Dave did a good job," Alex stated changing the subject and grabbed the sign again, lifting it high. "We could be The Whisper Sisters, tipsy caped crusaders. Kicking ass while never tipping a glass."

Kate laughed and looked at the door as it creaked open. She immediately sobered when the shadowed figure of a man briefly hovered in the doorway. She felt her stomach recoil as Damian fully entered the room. The bad feeling came back full force and seeing his face sent her emotions reeling.

The tension quickly replaced the lightness of their evening and the air became heavy with the deadly seriousness at hand. Kate walked around the bar and glanced at her friend. Alex turned when she read the change in Kate. She jumped down from the stool and her hand immediately went to her holster, but Kate reached across and subtly touched her shoulder to ease her down.

"Damian, you better have a damn good reason for being here," Kate warned.

"I don't need a reason to see my two favorite people," he said throwing his hands in the air.

"I thought you would at least be smart enough to stay the hell away," Alex added.

"Whoa! The language on this one,” Damian said gesturing towards Alex but didn't look at her. His eyes stayed on Kate.

"She took the words right out of my mouth," Kate said. "You have no business here. You can leave."

"You don't even want to hear what I have to say?" he asked cocking his head to the side feigning disappointment.

The two women shook their heads in unison. Their stances now staggered. One hand rested loosely by their sides and the other on the butts of their guns. Their history was so tainted that they had to be prepared for anything. It baffled them to how and why he had moved up the ladder in the Sloane empire, but it didn’t matter, it was the fact that his meer presence mocked them.

"Fine," he said with a shrug and began to back away. "I was concerned. I don’t know if you’ve heard that Michael O’Har-“ He paused and made exaggerated air quotes before he continued. “I mean Jeremy Miller is back on the street. I hope you’re staying vigilant with a murderer roaming free."

"As long as you walk the streets, vigilant is all we are,” Kate countered.

“There’s your problem.” He smiled. "We all know what happens when people get too nosy."

"You Ass!" Alex challenged.

He shot a look of annoyance to the brunette. "Alexis, dear, you get vulgar when you drink. You know that, right?"

His condescending tone only caused her to tense more. Her fingers hovered closer to pull her gun. 

He watched her reaction and let a sly smile overtake his features, but looked back at Kate. “I'm talking to Katelynn."

Kate stepped forward to the summons. Her pure hatred for the man exuded from her. He was only feet away, but once again she was helpless to do anything. "What is it, Damian? What are you trying to prove here?"

"You two do have a way of forcing our hand." Damian moved into the heart of the room. Each step was deliberate and his eyes bounced between the two. “It’s a tough task but think of this visit as one from a friend.”

"Friend?" Alex scoffed in shock. "One-day eyes will open and see your truth is wrapped in lies and murder."

"Always accusing, but never proving. You two have an unhealthy obsession with your unrealistic truth."

"Enough of this, what does Caleb really want?"

He nodded in appreciation for the no-nonsense approach. "Just peace of mind that the past can be kept in the past."

"You need to go," Alex warned. "Now."

With the gradual escalation of insults and subtle threats, Kate angled her body in front of Alex. She looked back to the brunette and tried to convey that they needed to remain calm, but she knew it wasn't an easy task. It took all she had to not just put a bullet in him right there. He was clearly unarmed and he did so on purpose. He had a bodyguard hovering next to him and the subtle moving of his jacket to the side exposing his gun was warning enough. Kate wasn't interested in a shootout. Even though she knew her and Alex could take him, she had no doubt that they were surrounded and there was probably more than one gun pointed at their heads from all accessible windows. She usually had the blinds pulled by sunset but that day she'd been enjoying the dusky light that had painted across the tables and floor. She should have known better than to think they could have a day to enjoy the beauty in the world.

"You really are unbelievable." Kate shook her head in disgust. "Make a move already, Damian.”

"Oh, I think I already have. Ball’s in your court.” 

"Are you hearing this?" Alex protested looking to Kate for agreement. Kate nodded to her but kept her eyes on Damian.

"All you've done is ruin a nice evening," Kate replied coolly.

Damian once again chuckled in an annoyed amusement. "Such brave women seeking to right all the wrongs in the world." He looked at his hand then back to the women in front of him narrowing his glare to Kate. "Tell me, Katelynn, does it help you sleep better at night, or does it just take your mind off the fact you failed your son?"

At his last words, Kate felt the complete loss of composure and began to charge him. She had not moved more than a step before Alex had circled her arms around her waist to anchor her. She didn't fight the restraint but forced Alex to release her hold. All of her impulses at the moment were to react on emotion, and it was exactly what Damian was looking for. She refrained and didn't move more than her chest heaving in anger. Tears pricked her eyes but she held them back. She would not allow him to see her broken again.

"There it is." Damian smiled at her; satisfied that his prodding got an honest reaction.

He twirled the large gold ring on his index finger and pretended to be more interested in the task of straightening the band than the women he had come to see. When he looked back up his eyes were cold and calculated. With a nod of his head, he silently backed his way to the door. 

Before he turned to open it he delivered his final words. "This is a delicate dance we have, but don't lose sight to who leads."

He waited for another reaction, but not getting one he turned, pushed the door open, and stepped out. Alex followed behind him directing profanities at his back. With him beyond the doorframe, she yanked the barrier shut and hastily locked the bolts.

"I should have shot him," she said turning around.

Kate only showed slight agreement with a nod but stared at the door as if she could see past it. Alex gently swiped her arm to get her attention and moved back over to the bar. She reached across and yanked the closest bottle of alcohol before she landed heavily on the stool. Kate followed her lead and moved two tumblers in front of them. She watched in a daze as the clear liquid splashed between the glasses.

"What the hell is going on?” Kate asked rotating her glass in a small circle on the bar. She watched the liquid lap the round edges but found she was unable to calm her stomach enough to take in the liquor at that moment.

"It's just Damian trying to show he has any power," Alex answered plainly but with a struggled attempt at reassurance.

Alex then tipped her head back and took the large shot in one gulp. With a flick of her wrist, she tossed the empty glass to the back of the bar. It clattered against the wall before it settled onto the floor with a loud rattle that resonated through the empty space.

"I guess," Kate whispered trying to choke down her own shot. Every ounce of unease that she had managed to control rose to the surface. She knew she’d see him again, but was never ready for the encounter. Her mind was overwhelmed by the abrupt reoccurrence of players in events she thought she had begun to recover control of. The sudden need to let the truth go nagged at her. It was the safest move, but trying to convince Alex of that would be the real task.

 

 


Submitted: October 31, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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