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MYCHEA

Good2Go Publishing




Someone’s Gonna Get It

Written by Mychea

Cover Design: Davida Baldwin

Typesetter: Mychea, Inc

ISBN: 9781943686469

Copyright ©2017 Good2Go Publishing

Published 2017 by Good2Go Publishing

7311 W. Glass Lane • Laveen, AZ 85339

www.good2gopublishing.com

https://twitter.com/good2gobooks

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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission, except for brief quotations to books and critical reviews. This story is a work of fiction. Characters, businesses, places, and events and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


Smashwords Edition



Acknowledgments


To my faithful readers.

This one’s for you.




Table of Contents

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

TWENTY-TWO

TWENTY-THREE

TWENTY-FOUR

TWENTY-FIVE

TWENTY-SIX

TWENTY-SEVEN

TWENTY-EIGHT

TWENTY-NINE

THIRTY

THIRTY-ONE

THIRTY-TWO

THIRTY-THREE

THIRTY-FOUR

THIRTY-FIVE

THIRTY-SIX

THIRTY-SEVEN

THIRTY-EIGHT

THIRTY-NINE

FORTY

FORTY-ONE

FORTY-TWO

FORTY-THREE

FORTY-FOUR

FORTY-FIVE

FORTY-SIX

FORTY-SEVEN





ONE


DADDY!” A YOUNG, WIDE-EYED CHILD OF FIVE SCREECHED AS she appeared to fly rather than run through the open front door up to the tall, handsome man walking up the pink and yellow tulip-lined sidewalk toward the house, elated that her father had returned home.

Princ—” His words cut short as a whizzing sound caressed his ear and a hollow-point bullet lodged itself in the back of his head, forcing his towering body to free fall through the air, immediately hitting the ground with a hard thud. Kara watched tragically as a fray of bullets followed and specs of blood rained over her petite body in her virginal white sundress. She let out a blood-curdling scream, filling the once peaceful, lazy afternoon with alarm. The love of her life lay facedown before her.

What is happening?” a frantic feminine voice shouted from the inside the house. “Kara, honey, get down!”

Kara was oblivious to the command as she watched the red liquid gush out of the place her father’s head once occupied.

Oh, my God! Kara, duck, honey, duck!” The woman ran hastily from the house, trying her best to dodge bullets as she leapt onto Kara, using her body as a shield, forcing the little girl to the ground.


Continuing to inhale small breaths as she tried to regulate her breathing, Kara slowly stood on wobbly legs. Making her way sluggishly to the other end of the room, she made a quick pit stop to grab her 9mm Glock out of her nightstand on the way. Peering through her sheer black silk curtains at the darkness caused by the cloudy sky, she missed the shine of the moonlight. Pushing the curtains to the side, she gazed down at the peaceful street, where nothing seemed out of place, and wondered if she was really losing her mind lately.

Silly girl. No one is watching you. Breathing easier now after confirmation of no one glaring up at her through the darkness, Kara managed a small apprehensive smile. I have to get it together. Approaching the anniversary of her father’s death was messing with her psyche, and as a detective in the line of duty, she couldn’t afford to have these types of distractions.

Returning the loaded weapon to the nightstand, Kara retrieved her cell phone, trying to fight back the urge to call Jason. Her fingers seemed to have a mind of their own as they dialed the first three digits of his 703 Northern Virginia number.

Rational logic pushing emotion to the side, she deleted those three digits, choosing to dial her mother instead. Kara refused to let Jason have the satisfaction of her being the first one to call after he had ended their engagement no less than a month ago. Jason with his boyish good looks and Colgate smile. Graduating from Harvard University with an MBA, you would think he was the snobbish type, but not by a long shot, when she had first met him. Now was a different story however. She recalled their first meeting taking place by happenstance.


Misty, I cannot run another minute,” I told her in anguish as I bent down at the waist to suck in air and give my tortured limbs a break. This was no way to spend the day before my twenty-first birthday, three days before Thanksgiving. I know I was the one that had tasked her to train with me, but we’d been running for over an hour. My legs were feeling like cooked spaghetti; I just knew that any second I was going to fall flat on my face in the middle of the street.

I’m not buying that. You want to be a quitter, or you want to be the best?” she shouted, jogging in place.

Right now, I’d settle for quitter,” I mumbled. The shrill sound of the whistle being blown beside my ear made me wince.

What was that, cadet? No quitters on my watch. Let’s get moving,” Misty shouted as she began jogging down the street leaving me to drown in my self-pity alone.

I cringed. Best friend or not, she was sitting on the one good nerve that I had left, and I didn’t particularly care for her at the moment. Chest heaving up and down, breathing irregularly, lungs debating on whether to shut down and put us both out of our misery, I knew I was at the point of passing out, but I refused to let her get the best of me. So, engrossed as I was in my own head, I neglected to hear the persistent beeping of the car horn behind me.

Kara, look out!” Misty yelled from her stance down the street as I glanced to see her running back in my direction waving her hands frantically back and forth; but it was too late. Much too late. I could hear brakes squealing as the driver of the Mercedes pressed down on them firmly, in the vain hopes of avoiding the foolish woman intent on standing in the middle of the street. The dark unknown welcomed me.

I regained consciousness suddenly in a hospital bed, with the sweet smell of lemon drifting up my nostrils. My body felt as if I’d been run over by a car; exactly as it should. I cringed.

You’re awake,” a deep masculine voice spoke to me, standing just outside of my peripheral. With my head throbbing the way it was, there was no way I could turn in his direction.

Speech left me as this magnificent creature entered my line of vision, his face etched in concern.

Are you alright?” Running his hands through his hair, he bowed his head sheepishly. “Of course you’re not alright. Look what I did to you.”

You did?” I questioned, my raspy voice sounding foreign to even my own ears. “I thought I put me here, being the idiot running in the middle of the street. I should have expected a car to hit me.”

I should have seen you. My phone rang, I looked down for one second, and when I looked back up, there you were—an apparition in the suburbs.” His brown eyes speckled with gold and green were sad. “I truly am sorry. I’ve been sitting here waiting for you to wake up to express my sincerest apologies.”

You’ve been here the whole time? How long have I been here?”

About forty-eight hours.”

Really?” I was shocked to find that I had been out of it for two days. “Where is Misty, the woman that was with me?”

She had to leave, but your mother is here. She went down to the cafeteria to eat, thinking she had enough time before you woke up. It’s the first time she’s left your side since she arrived.”

My mom.” Tears sprang to my eyes. I’m so glad I survived this. My mom couldn’t go through another tragedy in her lifetime. It would just be too much for one person to handle.

Hey, no tears. You survived, and I for one am grateful,” the magnificent creature said.

My lips turned up slightly at the ends. “Sounds like you are just hoping to avoid a massive lawsuit.”

I never avoid anything.”

I immediately regretted my statement. He seemed genuinely offended.

Whatever you need I will pay. My main concern is that you are alright.”

I believed him. He had that wholesome good-guy thing going on. You could tell that his parents had raised him right.

I think I’ll be okay. My body feels like I’ve been run over, but other than that, I’ll live.”

My” creature gave a full-on commercial-worthy smile. Had a Cologate representative been standing in my hospital room with us, he would have gotten a contract right there on the spot. Under more appropriate circumstances, minus the bandages and sterile room, I may have flirted with him.

Technically you have been run over a little.” His smile faded. “I truly am sorry.”

You said that already.”

My creature took my hand into his. “I want you to know that I mean it.”

Gazing into those mesmerizing eyes, I almost said, “If this is what happens when you get hit by a car, please feel free to hit me anytime.”

I know that you mean it. Thank you for staying with me.”

I’m Jason McCarthy by the way, and the pleasure has been all mine.”


“Kara, are you alright?” her mother’s sleepy voice came across the phone line.

“Yes, Mom, I’m sorry to wake you. I couldn’t sleep.”

“Oh no, my poor cupcake, another one of your nightmares?”

“Yes ma’am.” She omitted her suspicion about feeling as if she were being watched. Kara didn’t want her mom worrying more about her than she needed to.

“I knew with the anniversary of your dad’s passing looming near that this would be a hard time for you.”

“Mom, I don’t want to talk about Daddy.” A rainfall of tears threatened to race down her face.

“Oh, but, darling, you really need to talk about him to someone.”

“I have a standing appointment with my therapist every other Tuesday. She and I will touch base at our next session.”

“Okay, honey. Will you be alright for the rest of the night? You can drive over here if you feel up to it,” her mother offered.

“No, I’ll be okay. Thanks for the offer. Go on back to sleep.”

“Okay. Call me back if you need to. Good night. I love you.”

“I will, Mom. I love you more. Night.”



TWO


TIME IS TICKING; TICKING DOWN. NOSE PRESSED TO THE spotless windowpane, I watch her slumber. Night after night this has become a favorite pastime of mine as her soft dark brown hair cascades down the pillowcase in waves. Every night she tosses and turns attempting to find comfort in her dreams, a comfort that escapes her night after night.

Climbing through the unlatched window I had unlocked earlier that afternoon, I walk to her bed undetected as she lies lost in a sea of unconsciousness—our bedtime ritual, if you will. I’ve put her to bed every night since her father was murdered. My due diligence for the deeds I’ve done. I was her parent of sorts; she wouldn’t see it that way, but that’s who I am. I will be there until that moment when she takes her last breath, and then I can smile in victory.



THREE


I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT JASON DID. HE CAN BE SUCH AN asshole. He had me completely fooled. He never came off to me as that type of guy. The bad-boy guy. So out of character for him.”

“You know what, Misty? You learn new things about people every day. No one is ever quite how they appear to be at first. We all thought he was a good guy. What a joke. He fooled all of us.”

“Can you kill the Debbie Downer syndrome today? People aren’t that bad.”

“If you say so.” Kara was unsure of why Misty seemed instantly irked by her statement. She watched through the windows as the captain stopped outside her office door. “Misty, I’m a call you back,” she whispered, quickly returning the phone to its cradle.

Not that she couldn’t be on her desk phone, but as one of two female detectives in her unit, she felt as if she had to set a precedent and hold herself accountable to a higher standard. One of them was to not be chatting on the phone like a school girl to your best friend about your ex-fiancé. It was hard enough to gain respect as a woman on the force. No need to give them any free ammunition for a gunfight she knew was inevitable to come, that she would be unable to stop.

“Captain,” Kara acknowledged him as she stood up.

“Anthony.” He nodded at her with his faithful toothpick in his mouth dangling from his lip defying gravity as only he could seem to do. Kara eyed him warily, hating the fact that he called her by her last name as he shuffled into her office taking a seat in her chair, placing what looked to be size eleven feet on her desk and crossing his ankles.

She was disgusted. She knew in her heart that if she were a man, this blatant display of disrespect would not be happening.

“Sir.”

“I have a new case I’d like you to work on.”

Kara remained silent. The captain was one of those men that liked to feel as if he was more important than he was. There was no reason for him to be down here in her office delivering a case to her personally. A phone call would have sufficed.

“It’s back in your neck of the woods.”

“What’s my neck of the woods?”

“Over in Southeast.”

“Why are you sending me there?” Kara worked in the Fifth District of the police department. She had worked hard to leave the Seventh District, where her Captain was trying to send her back to. She didn’t like working that area. She’d grown up there, and after having run-ins with many of her old neighborhood buddies who got into trouble with the law, she had requested to be transferred out of that district.

“The Spellman case you worked on a few years ago.”

Kara’s heart filled with dread. The Spellman case was a case she tried her best not to think about and up until now had avoided at all costs.

“I vaguely recall the case.” She told a little white lie.

Her captain gave her a knowing glance. “I know this will be difficult for you, but Ryan is up for parole and they need you there at his parole hearing.”

“I’m unclear as to why I am needed.” She pressed the issue. Her testimony had placed Ryan Spellman behind bars five years ago, when she’d first entered the force as a police officer. “If he’s up for parole that’s fine. He should be allowed to go free. I won’t stand in his way.”

“You don’t want to go and contest the parole?” her captain probed.

“No. Why would I do that? He’s paid his debt to society. Let him try to regain access to his life.” It’s only fair after what I did to him.

“Nonsense,” came her captain’s gruff response. “There has been a new break in the case. I want you to go down there and figure out what’s going on.”

“Captain, with all due respect,” Kara chose her words carefully, “I would prefer to step back from this case and let someone else have a hand at it. It’s personal,” she emphasized to give him an inkling of why she shouldn’t be on the case.

“It’s your old case. You will go down there and sort through the new evidence. End of discussion.” His body language indicated that the conversation had concluded and Kara would be heading back down to District Seven to work on this case.

“Yes sir,” she replied as he stood looking her square in the eye.

“Anthony, I know you can do this. You would never let a personal matter compromise your position on this force. Correct?” His gray eyes pierced through hers.

“You are correct,” Kara conceded. She would not be the weak link. She could get through this.

“Great. I knew I could count on you. When Whitlock returns from vacation he can help you.”

“Of course, you can count on me,” she said, only mildly believing her own words. She couldn’t wait for Kyle’s return.

Kara dialed Misty’s extension as soon as the captain breezed out of her office. “Come to my office right now.” Urgency riddled her voice, and Misty made record time joining Kara in her office.

“What’s going on?” she whispered, closing the door behind her.

“Captain Harris was just here.”

“I know. I heard through the grapevine that he’s trying to put you back on the Spellman case.”

“Well he succeeded. I am back on the case. He didn’t give me much of a choice. How am I the last one to know these things?”

“You know no one can keep a secret around these parts. What are you going to do?”

Kara gazed into Misty’s concerned eyes. “I guess I’m headed on a road trip. I’m going to see Ryan.” Kara sighed.

“Will you be okay?” Misty’s face frowned up in concern.

“I’m going to have to be.” Kara sighed. It had been so long since she and Ryan had crossed paths, she knew this was sure to be an interesting experience. “I’m about to head down to District Seven to check out this new evidence. Ryan’s parole is approaching. It seems mighty convenient that they find something at this precise time when he’s already been locked up for the past five years.”

“It does seem a little suspicious.” Misty nodded in agreement.

“It’s a lot suspicious.” Kara was grateful that Misty was there. As the only two females in the department, they relied heavily on one another. “I’m headed out. I will keep you posted.”

“Please do.”


Stepping into FCI Butner Medium II Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina where Ryan was housed, Kara made her way through their security points, checking her weapon at the front. She was feeling anxious as she waited in the holding room for Ryan to come down. Kara knew without a doubt that he wouldn’t be thrilled to see her, but here she was anyway, ready to do what was right. It was long overdue, and time for Ryan to be free.

“Why are you here?” They were the first words Ryan had spoken to Kara in over five years. Kara took in his appearance. Gone were the warm, friendly almond-brown eyes that used to smile at her in admiration. Barely contained hate was replaced in them now. She could feel the rage radiating from him. Ryan, the first love of her life, the guy with plans to play pro football. Now his lean body seemed better suited for a swimmer.

“I’m glad you agreed to see me. I miss you. It’s been a long time,” she began softly, timidly.

“Apparently not long enough.” He sat erect in his chair, hostile.

“I deserve that.” Kara took in his appearance. Gone was the jovial guy she once knew. This person before her in his wrinkled orange jumpsuit and dirty sneakers was a stranger to her. “But, Ryan, despite what you think, I’m here to help.”

“How can you possibly help with anything?” His voice rose in anguish. “You’re the reason I’m here. Why would you want to help me now? And what makes you think I would take your help? I know a setup when I see one, and I could smell you from a mile away.”

I did this to him. Don’t react negatively. He’s just angry with you, as he has every right to be. Kara had to keep reminding herself. She was the reason Ryan was here, and looking at him now she realized his sacrifice was too much for her to bear. She should be the one behind bars, not him. How had she allowed this man to take a fall for her and just left him here? What kind of person was she to do this to her friend, a friend she had loved dearly?

“Because I want to right this wrong. Please let me do that.” Ryan stared at Kara a long time without blinking, so long that Kara began to squirm under his intense gaze, feeling exposed as the fraud that he probably believed she was. It made her uncomfortable, because maybe she was a fraud, and that was a hard pill to swallow.

Eventually letting out a low sigh, Ryan relaxed his body. Kara was ecstatic about this one small victory.

You know you have to marry me now, right?” Ryan’s dimpled smile was infectious. Kara grinned in return.

Oh yeah, why is that?”

Because I love you and I have to be with you forever.”

Is that right?”

That’s right.” He took her left hand into his, sliding a small diamond ring onto it. “It’s not much now, but once I make it to the NFL I’ll buy you a bigger one.”

Kara smiled. “You won’t dare.” She beamed at the petite heart-shaped ring. “This one is perfect. I love it and I love you.”

Ryan leaned down, his tall six-foot-two frame practically toppling over her petite frame of five four.

“Alright. I’ll listen to what you have to say.”

Kara shook the memory off when Ryan spoke.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I want to begin by apologizing to you about this entire situation. All of this is wrong. Very, very wrong, and I am so sorry.”

“Can you stop apologizing? I don’t believe it anyway.” Ryan was not the least bit impressed with her “I’m sorrys.” He was angry, but not so angry that he wasn’t curious as to why she had come calling on him after no contact for the last five years.

Kara kept seeing “fraud” flashing in her mind.

“Do you ever wonder what our life would have been like if that awful night had never happened?” She offered a soft smile in his direction. “We’d be married, maybe with kids by now. What a difference life would be, right?”

“Glad I dodged that bullet. Besides, I’m married.” Ryan wasn’t in the mood for Kara’s what-if games or thinking about a time that could have been theirs and never was. Their time was done. He had moved on and could only focus on the now. The innocent kid he was back then no longer existed. Kara could blame herself for that.

The woman that dated Ryan and was his fiancée in another time and place wanted to cry her eyes out, but that’s not what she had come here for. The older, wiser woman in her today was glad that he’d found happiness. Even if it was behind these institutionalized walls; even if it wasn’t her. Even if she should have chosen the life with Ryan, especially after what Jason had dealt her. Ryan would never have left her. So why did I feel that it was okay to leave him?

“I’m glad to hear it. I’m happy for you, Ryan.” She grabbed his hand. “Truly I am.”

Ryan stared into her eyes and allowed himself to squeeze her hand, giving in to remembering what they once were to each other; but understanding where they were now and that they couldn’t go back to a time that no longer existed, he let her hand go.

“Okay, tell me why you’re here,” he said abruptly, allowing Kara her time to elaborate on her presence after five years of radio silence.



FOUR


THIS IS JUST PERFECT,” KARA GROANED UNDER HER BREATH, ignoring Misty’s call on her cell and placing the phone on the hall table as she opened the door wide letting Jason inside her Northeast DC rented townhome. “To what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. McCarthy?” She’d been home for a few hours from her road trip to see Ryan, only to have Jason pop up on her doorstep.

“We need to talk.” He pushed past her into the foyer.

Talk? Kara was bemused. Now he wants to talk. “Why would you want to talk to me?” Closing the door behind him she folded her arms across her chest. “I distinctly remember your last words to me being, ‘It’s not working. We have nothing left to say to one another and should go our separate ways.’” Kara pointed to his chest. “That was you who said that, right? Please correct me if I’m wrong or missing anything.”

Jason sheepishly flashed that stupid Colgate smile she had come to loathe—a smile that was easily worth a million-dollar ad on a billboard in Times Square—and Kara resisted the urge to punch him square in the face, maybe take a few teeth out with her punch. The thought of a snaggletooth Jason made her smile, and her heart lightened a little.

“I see you’re in the usual Kara mood today.” His deep voice penetrated her thoughts, irritating her all over again, lightened heart forgotten.

Kara closed her eyes and willed herself not to be baited by him. Her therapist would be proud of her. Kara one, Jason zero.

“Jason, what can I do for you?” she questioned, doing her best to take the edge out of her voice. The sooner she cooperated with him, the sooner he would be returning to from where he had come.

“I brought this for you.” He handed a folded newspaper out to her.

Kara reached for the The Washington Post he handed her, brow arched, trying to understand why Jason had decided to take up a new profession as her paperboy.

“Why? Surely there is not an outage of paper delivery boys. Life minus Kara must equal hard times.” She couldn’t resist the jab. She was working on being better; she never said that she was perfect, however, and Jason in all his handsome, perfect splendor made her want to wipe all that cool confidence off his face.

“You would like that, wouldn’t you?” Jason retorted, leaving her standing by the front door as he entered the family room off to the left of the narrow hallway. “Sorry to disappoint, but I’m doing extremely well. No hard times over here, ever. Though if you need some help, I’m sure I can help you out.”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I wouldn’t take your help if I was on fire and you were the last one standing with a bucket of water,” Kara spat as trying to keep her cool was going by the wayside as she followed in his wake. Entering the room, she saw him frowning as he picked up and returned a framed photo of the two of them smiling into each other’s eyes at a gala last year, back on her glass coffee table. She could have kicked herself for not removing the photos of the two of them by now. She just couldn’t bring herself to do it. Everything seemed more final when you took photos down. She hadn’t been ready to see her table devoid of their memories just yet.

“If you’re here to torture me, you can leave. I didn’t invite you here,” she reminded him, wondering for the fifth time since she opened the door why Jason was once again in her house.

Jason cleared his throat in a rare display of discomfort. “Look at the paper.”

She glanced down. She’d forgotten about the paper in her hands. Unfolding the Post to the front page of the society section, she felt her heart drop as she came face-to-face with a full-page article and half-page photo of Jason and Misty dancing in each other’s arms as the new Mr. and Mrs. Jason McCarthy.

God must have been friends with Jason, because Kara had locked her gun upstairs in the safe tucked away in the closet. If it hadn’t been for that small casualty, Jason would be shot, bleeding out on my hardwood floor, living out his last moments begging me for mercy and forgiveness.

“What is this?” Kara yelled, throwing the paper at his head. So much for keeping my cool.

“Are you crazy?” He ducked as the paper came within an inch of his scalp and hit the wall.

Before he could fully recover from ducking, Kara lunged at him, with tears cascading down her face. “How could you do something like this?” she asked, her years of boxing to reduce stress displaying how skilled she was with her fists.

Jason did his best to ward off her punches as he dodged around the room. If the situation hadn’t been so dire, Kara might have laughed at how ridiculous the two of them must have looked.

“You came over here to tell me this?”

Jason tackled her, and they both hit the floor with a loud thud. Kara winced as her body hit the wood under his weight, knowing that a bruise would be forming on her backside.

“Stop acting like a child and listen.”

“There is nothing to listen to. Any explanation you have you can keep. Whatever you have to say isn’t good enough as far as I’m concerned. You and Misty. I can’t believe this.”

“I wanted you to hear it from me before anyone had a chance to tell you. It’s a lot to take in, and I don’t want you to be embarrassed. You did nothing wrong.”

“Gee, thanks for your concern, since you are the one embarrassing me. You can just shove it, okay. How could you two do this?” Kara shook her head in anger and disbelief. “This is not right. I don’t deserve this. I have always loved you both. How could you? You two were my family.”

“It wasn’t planned, Kara. You have to believe me. It’s something that just happened. It was bigger than both of us and we couldn’t resist.”

Kara scooted back on the floor once Jason lifted his body off hers, attempting to place much-needed space between her and him before her anger got the best of her and she socked him again. “There is no such thing as something like this just happening.” He married Misty. I cannot believe this. My ex-fiancé, my best friend. My best friend, my ex-fiancé. This is a cruel, cruel joke, and it’s not funny. I must be being punked right now. Where is Ashton Kutcher and the camera crew? This is not funny, and it cannot be real. It just can’t be. I won’t accept this.

“Kara, listen to me. It really is not as bad as you think it is.” Jason ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair. Kara had never hated him more, with his Josh Harnett good looks and his Brad Pitt leaving for another woman ways. She could kill him at this moment, and if it hadn’t been for her daily routine of locking up her weapon, he would have been dead by now. She began to wonder if he had become religious recently and that’s why his life had been spared. She would have been able to get off for a crime of passion. She was sure of it.

“Please leave.” Once again, her therapist would have gleamed with pride; now that she had a handle on her emotions a little, she was able to behave in a more rational, controlled manner.

“Not before I explain.” Jason reached for her.

“If you touch me, I will gut punch you so hard you won’t be able to keep your food down for a month. So help me God. Maybe you have forgotten that I am licensed to carry a weapon. I have no problem going to get it,” Kara reminded him. “Please leave,” she repeated more forcefully this time, rising to her feet.

Jason stood to his feet as well. “Suit yourself. I was attempting to let you know so you were prepared when people asked you about it. I was doing a favor. Misty warned me that it would be a bad idea.”

Kara lunged at Jason again, knocking him to the ground for the second time. So much for rational behavior, hearing him utter Misty’s name was too much for her sanity. This time she gave him a shiner in his right eye, smiling in satisfaction as his eye began to immediately puff up. She didn’t lift weights and train with the guys at the station for nothing. Moments like these she appreciated the grueling physical demands of her profession.

“Fuck!” he exclaimed. She could tell by his tone and the cursing that he was furious. Jason with his fanciful pedigree and multiple degrees thought that expletives were beneath him and if one truly had an extensive vocabulary that they would never use such words to express themselves. This known fact brought Kara more joy as she smiled. Finally, she felt vindicated: Jason McCarthy had lost his cool. The world was spinning back in her favor.

“Fine. I’m leaving.” He stood to his feet, walking toward the front door.

“Thank you. That is all I wanted you to do. We could have avoided this whole situation,” she pointed out to him. “Next time you get the bright idea to come by unannounced, don’t,” Kara told him as she followed behind him and locked the door after his exit.

Her cell vibrating on the hall table caught her attention. Twenty missed calls, all from Misty with twenty accompanying voicemails. She has some nerve. Speaking of the devil himself, the phone began vibrating in her hand as Misty’s name came across the screen again.

“Hello.”

“Since when is punching people in the face okay?” Misty’s haughty, demanding tone came across the line. “Who do you think you are, Kara? You don’t have the right to walk around attacking people.”

Kara removed the phone from her ear in stunned silence, staring at it for a prolonged minute. Misty had called to chastise her? Now she knew for a fact that there was a God in heaven, because Jason and Misty had a one-way ticket straight to hell. She raised the phone back to her ear only to hear Misty was still in the middle of ranting.

“I can’t believe you,” Kara said into the line, cutting her off. “You and Jason must be drinking the same type of delusional tea. You’re both crazy.”

“Don’t tell me that you are over there trying to justify your actions.”

“My actions are justifiable. You and Jason deserve each other. Please don’t call me again. As a law officer, I would hate to have to get a restraining order on you for harassment. That would really hurt your chances of a promotion in our unit, now wouldn’t it?”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Misty’s undignified tone came across the line.

“Try me and see. You and Jason can burn in hell for all I care.” Kara hung up the phone, immediately dialing Dr. Jones.

“Kara, what a pleasant surprise,” her therapist’s jovial voice came across the line. “How are you?”

“Not good. I need to see you as soon as possible. Do you have an opening today?”

“Let me see here.” Kara could hear the pages flipping in the calendar book that Dr. Jones famously carried everywhere she went. “I do have an opening at six today.”

“I’ll take it.” Kara was desperate. If she didn’t see Dr. Jones today she knew she would lose the little bit of sanity she was holding on to. Staring at the framed photo on her coffee room table of her and Jason smiling into each other’s eyes, she quickly picked up the photo frame and threw it at the wall with all her might. She smiled with glee as it hit the wall and shattered to the floor in a million pieces.



FIVE


WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED WHEN YOU WENT OVER there?” Misty demanded as a bruise-eyed Jason came stumbling through their front door.

“She completely lost her cool. I’ve never seen Kara act like that before.”

“I didn’t even know she had it in her to be attacking somebody. Let alone you.”

“I knew I should have handled this a while ago. We never should have run that story in the society paper, but you just had to have your name and picture all over it, didn’t you?”

“Now wait a minute.” Misty was mildly offended. “Don’t go getting all hostile with me because Kara turned into Bruce Lee on you.”

“Not funny, Misty. I find nothing amusing about any of this.”

Misty left Jason in the foyer so he could feel sorry for himself alone. He was not going to make her feel bad about wanting the world to know she was Mrs. Jason McCarthy. This had been her come-up, and she knew people would be jealous to their core when they saw the one-page article and photo. She’d had to call in a special favor to get it done on such short notice. She didn’t want there to be anyone questioning what it was she and Jason had going, especially Kara.

“I think we made a mistake.” Jason finally came to where Misty was.

“A mistake. What is that supposed to mean, Jason? I don’t think there was any mistake, so please tell me what you are referencing.”

“Me, you, this, us. I can’t believe I did this to Kara. She was right in telling me she didn’t deserve this. She doesn’t. She never did anything wrong. She was always a good woman to me. I’m the one that should be sorry. You and I both. She was good to us.”

“Okay, so wait a minute. Are you telling me that you want to leave me already? We’ve barely been married for five minutes and you are trying to call it quits?”

“A McCarthy never admits defeat, and we don’t get divorces, we’re not built that way.”

“Well that is good to know.”

“I guess so. I feel trapped. I acted too fast. Something that I normally would never do.” Jason shook his head. “What kind of spell did you put on me? I wasn’t thinking clearly.”

“Jason, this whole woe is me spirit thing has got to stop. We’re married; it’s done. You’re just going to have to deal with it,” Misty scolded him.

“You weren’t there. You didn’t have to look at her face when she read the news. She never should have found out that way.” Jason was having a classic case of buyer’s remorse. He’d seen the new cow, believed that it was better than his old cow, and was now missing the old cow. “Why don’t you be a good little wife and get me some ice for my eye, instead of badgering me right now,” Jason told her.

He’d had a long day. The last thing he wanted to be engaged in was a debate with Misty about their marriage, which he’d felt good about up until he’d seen the hurt in Kara’s eyes. He never wanted to see that look ever again. She’d looked like a wounded doe. He knew everything that had happened in her life, and he knew he’d never be able to fix what he’d done.

“No. Since you believe our union to be a mistake, you can ice your own eye. Serves you right treating me this way only a few weeks after our wedding. We should be in the honeymoon phase, not bickering over nonsense.”

“My life is not nonsense.” Jason made his way to the kitchen to pull out the ice, wondering how it had slipped past him that Misty could be such a shrew. Maybe I can get an annulment instead of a divorce. No, Misty put your wedding on the society page, remember? Jason sighed in anguish as he placed his ice in a Ziploc bag. I could say I was temporarily insane, but then that may hurt my business. For all intents and purposes I’m stuck with Misty for the long haul. Damn.

Walking down the hall to his study, he entered, locking the door behind him. Picking up his office line, he dialed a number and waited as it rang. On the third ring he was about to hang up, when he heard a hello.

“You answered.”

“I know. Even though you don’t deserve me to. Why are you calling?”

Jason cleared his throat a few times. “Because I owe you an apology.”

“You really don’t. We said our goodbyes already. Very violently in fact. By the way, how is that eye?”

“Kara?”

“You don’t owe me anything. I’ll survive this. Just let me be.”

“I’m an idiot. I love you.”

“Who are you in there loving? Are you on the phone?” Misty was yelling through the door.

“You sure have a funny way of showing it.” Kara didn’t know why Jason was wasting his time calling her to begin with. The proof was in the pudding. He didn’t love anyone nearly as much as he loved Jason, himself. She was just glad that she had found out sooner than later. He and Misty deserved each other. Even though she’d be lying if she said it didn’t hurt her, she would survive this, the same way she survived everything else in her life. This would not break her.

“Thank you for even picking up the phone to talk to me.”

“I’m just—” she paused “—I just wanted to see what you had to say. Even though I know it doesn’t make up for anything, in my mind I thought we were building something. I thought we had a solid foundation, and you took that and what we had and just threw it away like it was nothing.”

“I know,” Jason said. “I regret that more than any-thing.”

“Are you sure? We spent four years together. You know all my hopes and dreams, my aspirations, how many kids we were going to have. Why would we talk about all of those future plans if it wasn’t going to be anything, or go anywhere?”

“I always wanted it to be something. It was something. I just wasn’t ready.”

“So then why not say something, you know? That’s what couples do; they talk about their fears and what’s going on, the challenges that come up in a relationship. You don’t go all in marrying the next girl walking by. In this case, Misty. I just don’t get it.”

“Kara, you were right. You don’t deserve the way I treated you. You deserve so much more than me, and I know you’ll find that.” Why did I leave her?

Kara stared at the phone loath to hang up but knowing there would be no forever with Jason and it was the right thing to do. No happily ever after, more like an unhappily never ever.

“Jason, I have to go,” Kara whispered, surprising herself that she was remaining as calm as she was to speak with him at all.

“I know you do, and I have to let you go.”

“Yeah, you do.”

“Jason, you open this door right now!” Misty’s brash tone broke the spell of the call.

“You should respond to her. She’s not going to go away.”

“I know. You take care of yourself.”

“That’s all I know how to do. Oh, and Jason?”

“Yes.”

“I need you to do something for me.”

“Anything.” Jason gave no hesitation.

“Please don’t contact me anymore. I want to be done with this and you after today. Have a good night.”

Jason hung up the phone slowly as Misty continued knocking and yelling through his locked study door.

What have I gotten myself into?

“JASON!” Misty kicked the door. “You come out right now or I will knock this door down. Do you hear me?”

“The whole neighborhood can hear you. You’re loud enough,” Jason told her when he finally stood to open the door.

Misty eyed him skeptically. “Who have you been in here talking to?”

“None of your business. This is my private study, and I was handling an important matter that does not concern you.”

“Everything you do needs to include me at all times.”

“Is this a marriage or prison?”

“I don’t know. You tell me,” Misty demanded as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Good night, Misty. I’m going to sleep in one of the guest rooms tonight. I need to be alone.”

“That’s fine, but don’t make a habit of it. I would like to get started on a family.”

Jason shook his head in disbelief, amazed by the audacity of this woman. He had just mentioned divorce tonight and feeling stuck in his marriage, and she was talking about having children. You sure stuck your foot in it this time, didn’t you, Jason? I sure did, he responded to his own question in his head. This was going to be a long life, but he was determined to make it a short night.



SIX


DAY BY DAY, TICK BY TICK, MY DAY IS COMING. EACH TIME THE sun rises and sets I’m closer to my prey. I can taste her blood. I’m ready, but I am patient. Her day is coming. Watching her enter the building to visit her therapist, I parallel park across from the building to keep an eye out for her. I am proud of what she has been able to do with her life considering I took a big chunk out of it. Despite those odds, she rose above that. In a way I felt parental, as if I had the right. It doesn’t matter. Soon I will have her in my clutches, and then she’ll be all mine, to do with as I please. Knowing that she usually spends an hour with her therapist, I allow myself a thirty-minute nap. Even if she leaves before I wake, I’ll know where to find her.



SEVEN


THE NIGHTMARES HAVE RETURNED.”

“I knew something must have been bothering you from the urgency in your tone.” Kara enjoyed Barbara. She had been seeing her since she was an out of control teenager giving her mother nothing but grief. At her wits end, her mother had finally told her that if she didn’t start talking to someone about her issues, she was going to have to get out of her house. That had been all the encouragement Kara needed to start getting her act together. She had decided that homelessness didn’t suit her at all. Once she’d met Dr. Barbara Jones she had instantly felt secure in their sessions. Dr. Jones had a calming spirit about herself that she seemed to transfer to her clients. Her kinetic energy was amazing.

“Tell me about them,” Dr. Jones gently probed.

“I keep going back to that day.” Kara stared off into space.


Guess who’s coming home today.”

Daddy!” an excited Kara exclaimed. Her mother smiled.

Yes, Daddy.”

Kara knew the exact day: Wednesday, May 21, 1997. Her mother had bought her a Cinderella calendar because she wanted to be the golden-haired Princess so bad; to count the days until her father’s return.

We’re baking cookies for Daddy,” Kara sang.

Yes, we are,” her mother confirmed as the kitchen wall phone rang. “Keep stirring, my little cupcake.”

Okay, Mommy.”

Hi, darling. We miss you so much,” her mother said into the receiver.

Is that Daddy? Can I talk to him?”

Shaking her head, her mother held her pointer finger to her lips indicating for Kara to be quiet. “What time will you arrive? What do you mean you don’t know? Why are you doing this, Charles? What about Kay? She’s been waiting for you. Fine, go be with them then.” Her mother hung up the phone with a resounding slam.

You okay, Mommy?” A concerned Kara paused from stirring the chocolate chips into the cookie dough to look at her mother.

Yes, cupcake. I’m fine. You keep stirring, okay?” came back her mother’s choked-up reply.

Was that Daddy saying he missed me?”

It sure was.” Her mother forced a smile. “My sugar is so smart and sweet.”

I sure am.” Kara smiled as she licked the spoon.


“Tell me what happened.”

“I have good and bad memories. The nightmares are the bad ones, but every once in a while I have good ones and I remember what my mom and I were doing before my dad arrived home.”

“What were you doing?”

“We were baking cookies, and then my dad called, but my mother wouldn’t let me speak to him. Which I found strange because she always let me speak to my dad. And then she started crying.”

“Have you ever spoken to her about that moment?”

“I tried to in the past, but Mother is adamant about not talking about it. Whatever transpired on that call, she fully intends to take it to the grave with her.”

“How do you feel about that?”

Kara sat still and thought for a moment about how best to answer the doctor’s question. “I feel hurt that she won’t talk to me about it, won’t share with me what was on her mind that day. But in a way I also feel as if she has the right to hold on to her last conversation with him and not share it with anyone.”

“But.” Dr. Jones mildly suggested that there was more to my statement.

“But I’m angry that she took that last conversation with my dad away from me. I want to hear his voice so bad. She took that from me. Robbed us of our last conversation.”

“You sound very resentful.”

“I am resentful.”

“How has that played into your relationship until now?”

“Not too much. I don’t not talk to her or not see her because of it. We have a normal, functioning relationship.”

“And what is normal to you?”

“What do you mean?” Kara was a little taken back; wasn’t normal, normal?

Dr. Jones pushed her black Vera Wang glasses up her nose and eyed Kara intently. “I mean, everyone has their own definition of normal.” Her round face was pleasant as she peered at Kara. “I would like to know what yours is.”

“I don’t really know. The most normal I’ve ever felt is with Jason.”

“Interesting that you bring up Jason and normal. Why do you feel that way?”

“I don’t know.” Kara shrugged. Why did she feel as if she were more normal when Jason was around? Could it be that he made her feel more alive?

“Come on, Kara, don’t take the easy way out. I’m not letting you off the hook here,” Dr. Jones pushed at her. “You mentioned him making you feel normal for a reason, so let’s hear it.”

Shifting on the chaise in Dr. Jones office, Kara respected the fact that Dr. Jones always, no matter the situation, held her accountable.

“Because with him I had emotions. He made me feel as if we could conquer the world together. His approval and reassurance meant a lot to me. I want to feel that again.”

“You’re using past tense. Has something happened between you two?”

Kara sighed, not really wanting to go into details, but feeling the need to unload this burden onto someone that could understand what she was going through.

“Dr. Jones, we just have so much to talk about today. I don’t know where to begin.” She leaned her head back until she was staring blankly straight up at the ceiling, not seeing, but feeling.

“Why don’t you just relax? How about we do a few breathing exercises; then we can delve deep into the situation with you and Jason. I know with the anniversary of your father’s death looming that everything right now may be hard for you coping-wise.”

After five minutes of breathing exercises, Dr. Jones had been right; Kara felt much better and much more relaxed.

“I don’t think there’s enough time for me to get into what has gone down with me and Jason.”

“You’re my last appointment of the day, so you are free to take as long as you like.” Dr. Jones removed her glasses and unbuttoned her suit jacket to get more comfortable. “Well, let’s hear it,” Dr. Jones stated.

“I don’t know if I’m ready to talk about that,” Kara told her honestly.

“Okay, you tell me where you would like to begin.”

“So much has happened since the last time you and I sat down with one another. My ex-fiancé, the first one, is about to get out of jail. He’s up for parole for a crime he didn’t commit and has gotten married since he’s been locked up.”

“You never told me about your first ex-fiancé. Elaborate.”

“Ryan is his name. My and Ryan’s story is so complicated and chaotic. I’m not ready to share that with anyone. Maybe we should discuss my situation with Jason first.”

“Fair enough. Please continue when you’re ready.”

“I’m ready now.” Kara didn’t want to wait in case she lost her nerve. “Jason breaks up with me no less than a month ago and up and marries Misty, my best friend. Then he had the nerve to stop by my house unannounced to show me the society page of the Washington Post, where there was a full-page feature on him and Misty’s wedding. They both act like I’m the problem. I had no idea they were even dating behind my back. What kind of people do this sort of thing?” Kara looked at Dr. Jones hoping to find answers. She only smiled and nodded encouraging Kara to continue.

“All it does is explain to me the reason for the quick breakup and not wanting to discuss it or to work things out. I trusted them.” The tears started. “I thought all of us were family, and they were plotting behind my back this whole time.”

“That is a lot to take in during such a short time. How have you been handling that?” Dr. Jones asked.

“I’m not handling it well at all. It’s just so much happening, and you’re right, being so close to my father’s twentieth anniversary, I haven’t had time to focus on that, you know? I just have so much other stuff going on. I also feel as if I’m being watched. I believe someone is stalking me.”

“Have you told the police?” Barbara asked, genuinely alarmed.

“I am the police, so to speak. That’s like telling myself.”

Dr. Jones gave her an exasperated look.

“No, I haven’t said anything to anyone at the station yet.”

“Okay, before we jump from topic to topic, let’s back up for a moment. Safety is key. You need to let someone know your suspicions about feeling watched. Intuition generally doesn’t lie. At the very least, what does it hurt for someone to ask around to make sure you’re safe?”

Kara nodded in agreement with her question.

“Next, let’s talk about Jason and Misty. Let’s focus on that situation. How are you feeling about the two of them?”

“I feel betrayed by the two people I trusted and loved the most. You know, ever since my dad died, I don’t really let people get close to me. I feel like I can’t trust anyone, so to let those two in and have the two of them do something of this magnitude, it really hurts me, cuts me to the core.”

“Your reaction is warranted. Are you angry?”

“Yes, I’m very angry. I want to hit something and hit it hard. Destroying it. I want somebody to suffer for what I’ve been through. I want my father. I miss him.” Kara broke down into a fresh onset of tears that wouldn’t stop.

“Bingo.” Dr. Jones handed her the tissue box off her desk. “That’s the real issue. You miss your father. That’s the root of all of this. You have to make peace with him and his murderer. I know it’s much easier said than done, but, Kara, you have to let this go. Forgive everyone involved. Only then will you be set free and know genuine peace.”

Forgive everyone involved? She didn’t even know everyone involved. She wished that she did. She needed someone to project her anger onto and seek justice for her father. Maybe that would be the best gift she could give him. Find the person that had started this twisted cycle. She needed to find her father’s murderer.



EIGHT



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