Chapter 7: Chapter 7

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

Reads: 80

Alex stopped short of the last stair that led into the hospital’s parking garage and leaned her weight against the metal railing. She should have felt relief, some sort of hope or at least the slightest encouragement, but she only felt helpless. She wasn’t sure what she expected, maybe something from the movies. Kate sitting up in a comfy hospital bed pretending she had an injury just enough to fool the audience. This wasn’t a show; it was real. She couldn’t blink away the blood, the desperate pain in her voice. How was she going to tell her that her son was gone? That she hadn’t saved him like she had promised she would. Was she even going to be able to have a conversation with her again? The only promise that she could hold onto was finding the person responsible. 

Her distracted mind quickly refocused when it was evident someone was waiting for her. She continued walking but stopped short of her car and crossed her arms. She waited. She knew the drill and knew who it was. The act was so cliché but found little humor in his actions.

At first, he didn’t step out from the shadowy darkness that surrounded him. She focused on the cigarette between his lips; a red beacon that flared as he inhaled. Seeing that he had her attention, he took one last drag before he flicked it to the ground. She watched the embers scatter and diffuse into the darkness. 

Alex wasn’t impressed. “A little dramatic don’t you think?”

“Those scrubs suit you, ever considered a change of occupation?” he asked disregarding her question and continued to hang tight to the cement pillar that broke up the spaces and supported the upper levels. 

“What do you want?”

“Get in the car.”

She didn’t move beyond staggering her stance a little more. “I’m not getting in any confined space with you. Start talking.”

He chuckled softly at her usual defiance. “How’s Quinn?”

“Don’t you mean, what does Katelynn know, or has said?”

“Give me some credit, I’m concerned.”

“You don’t lie very well, Byron. You’re only concerned because of your stake in Achilles.”

Byron took a step forward and dropped his voice to a whisper, “I won’t deny that the integrity of what Achilles stood for has to remain intact.”

“You’re unbelievable!” Alex fought to keep her voice down and in more control. She swallowed and took a breath before she continued, “A ten-year-old boy is dead, the woman that kept that team on point is fighting for her life, and all you care about is your own ass.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“I think it is, but please tell me.”

“We need you to back away.”

“We? Who’s we?”

“You can’t be involved with this investigation. How do you not see the implications?” 

“Not happening.” He obviously hadn’t truly done his homework on her. She could care less about the big picture if it was going to be tainted for the few at the top.“I don’t answer to you, and I highly suggest you leave Kate alone.”

“Or what? Alexis, you don’t have a play here.”

“Jeremy Miller.”

He stood briefly in silence, a faint flicker of surprise in his eyes. She had him, if only momentarily.

“Leave him to us.”

“Nice try.” He just told her what she needed. Jeremy was alive and involved. “He was the only one that had direct contact with Sloane. We don’t know what happened after they left. He shot me, shot at Kate, threatened her, and then went dark. There’s a lot to answer to.”

“I can't protect you if you don’t back off.”

“Like you protected Kate and Tyler?”

He didn’t respond. He didn’t flinch, he just stared as if to get a better read on her. When Alex jumped slightly as he reached into his coat pocket he let out a laugh at her paranoia. Removing his hand he revealed a phone in his palm. She didn’t acknowledge the device, instead, she tracked his every movement with her eyes.

“You should answer it when it rings,” he said and placed it on the roof of the car before he stepped away. She watched him until he cut behind a pillar and up the stairwell. 

Once he was out of view she picked up the phone and her impulse was to hurl it towards the wall, but then it’s purpose had her curious. Alex climbed in the car, locked the door, but didn’t put the keys in the ignition. She looked at the phone again. A sudden wave of anger welled up and she threw it across to the passenger’s seat. She watched it bounce off the door and rattled its way to the floorboard. 

Byron’s visit just confirmed what she feared. That what happened to Tyler and Kate was tied to Achilles somehow. He wasn’t going to give her anything more. He was also on an information hunt. She needed to acquire the facts before they became falsehoods in an effort to cover up whatever they felt needed to be. She couldn’t talk to Kate soon enough. She had to have seen the attacker. Was it someone she trusted? Did Kate let him in and realized too late that his intentions were murderous? Or was it supposed to be done quietly, but there was no way Kate would let that happen. She fought back. The thought of Tyler wrapped up in the middle of it all and losing twisted in her gut. His pure innocence ripped away.

She looked beyond her windshield; only the graffitied grey wall lay in front of her, but in her mind, she was seeing Tyler. 

“This is my fault.” 

A range of emotions flooded her. Rage overpowered sadness and she saw nothing but hatred for the person responsible. The only immediate release she could find was sending her clenched fist into the steering wheel. Over and over she pounded into the rounded plastic. Pure frustration ripping from her throat. When she could no longer take the impact and throbbing in her knuckles she fell forward. She didn’t move at first, gripping the wheel. Her chest heaved as she exhaled the last of the anger. Anger that only faded to be replaced with the grief and pain that was patiently waiting to overtake her. Slowly she sank back against the seat, her head catching on the headrest. Her irritated hand and pounding head grabbed her immediate attention, but it was nothing to the mess twisted in her mind. She couldn't stop the tears from escaping but promised herself it was the only time she would allow such a break. 



Submitted: September 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.


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