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Authors: Bec Johnson

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BOOK: Murfey's Law
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Once the children had left she saw it as her opportunity to go for a swim.

None of her bikinis fitted. Squeezing her backside into the bottoms, Lori hid the overflowing flesh with a lightweight pair of shorts. Thankfully they were the right size, though that was only by luck. Lori never tried clothes on anymore, preferring to just purchase them and take them home. If they fitted comfortably she cut the size labels off straight away and wore them until the fabric went bare. If not, she tucked them into her bottom drawer and forgot about them.

The bikini top fitted a little better, although still mildly indecent. Her boobs had always been on the large size, even when she was much fitter, before Pete. Lori had her mother’s curves. Only over the past few years she’d increased the number of them.

First checking in next door, Jenny was only too happy to keep an eye on the shop, Lori headed down to the beach.

Although the sun had begun to descend into the trees behind the village, the air was still hot and the sea tepid as Lori waded out into the waves. Memories of her childhood came flooding back as the sea swallowed her up to her chin. The same memories she’d had this morning, of her days spent in the sea with Jack. Her mother would set up their dinner on a rug in the sand, while they swam and looked for the dolphins that loved to play in the surf at dusk.  The house she’d grown up in, until Robin had left and taken Lori to England, was another hour down the coast, in the large town of Fisherman’s Bay.

By the time the sun had set completely Lori had had enough of floating around. Her fingers and toes were all crinkled and her face felt dry and crusted with salt spray so she made her way back up through the garden to the back of the house.

Someone was inside the shop.

‘Hello?’ She called out as she walked across the deck and in the back door, ‘Jenny, is that you?’

‘No... it's umm, me,’ said a male voice.

‘Hi?’ Lori stepped into the shop. Beside the counter stood a Policeman, looking far too young to be carrying a weapon.

‘Hi.’ He smiled, taking off his police cap as she walked in. His dark eyes glistened in his handsome, almost familiar face. ‘You must be the bird.’

‘Lorikeet, yes, but please call me Lori. After all, no one wants to be named after a parrot do they?’ She couldn't resist flirting, but then kicked herself immediately. He must be ten years her junior.

‘Your dad told us you’d be coming, and said we had to look out for you.’

What was it with her father asking strange men to take care of her?

‘I don’t need looking after thank you very much,’ she said, squeezing past him to get behind the counter. The heady smell of his leather utility belt filled her nostrils.

‘No, I’m quite sure you don’t,’ he flirted back.

‘So, are you just finishing duty for the evening?’ Lori brought the conversation back round to business.

‘No, just starting actually. I’ve been on nights ever since graduating the academy six months ago. The Sergeant’s a bit of a masochist. Just because he doesn’t have a life and never sleeps doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my time in bed if you get my drift,’ he winked, dragging the conversation back round to flirting again.

‘Six months of late shifts seems a little unfair doesn’t it?’ Lori noticed his name patch. Turner. He must have been the one at the school careers day that made the teacher's eggs ache. She could see why, though felt a little uncomfortable knowing that school staff would speak that way about a Police Officer barely out of high school.

‘You don’t get to say no to the Sergeant,’ he replied.

‘I’m willing to give it a try on your behalf if you like, I have nothing to lose,’ Lori laughed.

‘Go for your life, he’ll be in in a minute, he’s just trying to shake off Mrs Westerly. She’s got more than a little bit of a 'thing' for him.
  If he’s not out in ten minutes I have to call in the dog squad,’ he laughed too, ‘and I’m serious.’

‘Talking of serious…’ Lori decided there was no harm in mentioning the potential shop lifter she’d had this morning. She’d seen that surfing movie years ago where Patrick Swayze was part of a really dangerous group of surfer criminals. In such a small place like Murfey’s Beach it couldn’t be a good thing to have a petty thief hanging around.

Officer Turner took great interest in Lori’s recount of the morning’s events, writing down every detail in his little police issue notebook. Although certainly very interested, he didn’t seem overly concerned, at one point, when Lori was describing what the surfer looked like she could swear he had sniggered.

‘Ok, so did you want me to press charges if I can find him?’ He supressed another snigger.

Lori was taken aback. ‘Umm, no, I mean I basically ended up telling him he could have it, I just thought you’d want to know it’d happened. In case you had any similar reports.’

‘Oh, ok, sure,’ he replied, barely containing his mirth now, ‘I’ll just have a word with him if ever he shows up anywhere else.’

 ’Look, if you think it’s a waste of police time it really doesn’t...’

Someone with very heavy footsteps came storming noisily across the driveway, and up the wooden steps of the front verandah, interrupting Lori as they wrenched open the screen door.

‘For fuck’s sake junior! That woman needs locking up, I’m telling you she just tried to grab my ba…’ The owner of the voice burst into the light of the shop. ‘Oh shit, it’s you.’

Lori took a step back. No way.

Turner was now laughing, almost doubled up with hilarity. ‘That’s no way to speak to the newest member of our community Sarge, and a lady too!’

The beautiful, skin fizzing, shop lifting surfer she had just reported to the Police,
 was the Police. And the masochistic Sergeant of the Police at that.

Chapter Four

 

 

 

Several minutes passed before anyone spoke.

Actually, it was more like several seconds, though to Lori, it could have been hours and it still wouldn’t have been long enough. The ground didn’t open up and swallow her whole no matter how hard she wished it to.

She didn’t know what to say, should she apologise? Or should she stand her ground and point out the obvious? That he of all people should never have behaved the way he had done this morning. The Sergeant also said nothing. A look of loathing played between his eyes making Lori shudder. The only one to make any noise was the recently graduated officer, who
 appeared to be choking on his own tongue in an effort to maintain his composure.

‘I’m sorry,’ Lori blurted. She couldn’t stand the silence.

‘Sorry for what?’ The Sergeant frowned.

‘For just acc…’ Lori looked at Turner who had managed to get a grip of himself and was now inconspicuously shaking his head at her.

‘For just… acting so bizarrely this morning of course.’ She shot a grateful glance at Turner.

‘Ok, well, it’s understandable I guess. You’ve just arrived after all,’ he paused and smiled, sympathetically Lori thought, before carrying on, ‘and as yet, you don’t have a clue.’

How dare he! Lori fumed.

Thankfully, before she did anything else she may have regretted Jenny walked in the back door.

‘Lorikeet darling? I’m back. I just popped home to check on my Salmon, Oh! I see you’ve met the Turner boys, how wonderful!’ Jenny breezed into the shop bringing wafts of Lavender Oil with her. Her grin spread ear to ear.

‘Lori, please,’ Lori implored before realising what Jenny had said. ‘Turner boys?’

‘Yes, yes! Oh I‘ve known these two since they were young lads, covered in pimples and raging with hormones.’

‘That’s plenty of history thanks Jenny,’ the Sergeant interrupted.

‘Zebediah,’ she flapped her hands at him, ‘don’t be so stiff. Why can’t you be more like your little brother? You’re always so serious. No wonder you’ve not settled down yet. You scare all the girls away!’

Younger Turner quickly stepped in. ‘Come on Jenny let’s go outside and howl at the moon or whatever it is you like to do.’

The pair disappeared outside giggling like teenagers.

‘Zebediah? Wow, that’s a hell of a name. Haha, umm...’ Lori tried to break the tension that hung in the air around them.
  Oh god. Could she come across any more infantile?

He didn’t answer.

Lori didn’t know where to look. He was staring at her, probably checking for signs of another snotty meltdown.

‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to bawl hysterically,’ she briefly glanced up at his face, ‘again.’

He caught her gaze and held it momentarily. Her skin instantly contracted causing the hairs on her arms to stand up on goose bumps. Still he didn’t speak.

‘Soooo… you two are brothers. That’s amazing. I mean, it’s not amazing that you are brothers, haha, obviously! It’s just that you are both brothers that are Police Officers. That’s got to be pretty weird surely?’

‘Do you ever stop talking long enough to breathe, or maybe even think first?’ he asked with a smug grin.

Lori screwed her face up.
 ’What the hell is that supposed to mean?’

‘It’s a question. But don’t challenge yourself too hard on it, you’ve already answered it for me.’ He stepped forward causing Lori to take a step back, thumping into the wall behind her. She rubbed her arms hoping he couldn’t see her skin prickling.

Lifting up the till on one side, he slid a large notebook out from underneath, and set the machine back down. On the front cover, in her father’s swirly handwriting, she recognised it immediately, was written ‘Murfey’s Beach Resident Accounts’.

Oh!

The sergeant flipped the cover open and thumbed silently through the sheets towards the back. On a page simply titled ‘Zeb’ he ran his finger down the rows of text stopping on the bottom line.

Reading upside down was a skill Lori rarely found a use for, yet she had it, and it worked just fine.

1 x Lemonade Ice Block: $2

Oh… crap!

He must have written it in this morning before heading to the front door, before Lori had walked in and abused him shortly followed up with subjecting him to the horrors of her ‘crying face’.

‘Oh god, I really am sorry.’ Lori stepped forward again and put her hands on the book. Her embarrassment had mollified the goose bumps.

Zeb reached over the book and grabbed Lori’s hand. She wanted to pull it away but his grip was too strong. His fingers pressed hard into her skin as he unfurled her clenched fist and pushed his thumb into the palm of her hand. Shit, what was he doing? Lori froze with fear. Jenny and the younger Turner, she hadn't caught his name, were still outside somewhere, and nowhere to be heard. Should she scream?

Pulling her forwards,
 tight against the counter, he spoke firmly, close to her face, his breath brushing her cheeks. ‘Now you’re going to have to be much, much nicer to your customers if you’re to have any chance of ever getting out of this place. Believe you me.’ He let go of her hand and disappeared out the front door into the darkness.

Lori peered at her palm and a two dollar coin that he’d pressed so firmly
 into her skin that it had left a little ring. She tried furiously to rub the mark away. Jenny was right, it was no surprise that he was single. He was a complete bastard.

 

It wasn’t even eight o’clock, yet so exhausted Lori locked up the shop, she just wanted to go to bed. There didn’t seem much point in staying open, she hadn’t investigated it in great detail, but it seemed from the stock on the shelves and the money, or lack of it, in the till, that the business was a dead loss.

She hadn’t made it to the estate agents today, but she had found the washing machine, so she considered the day to have been successful.

Who was she kidding, her first full day in Murfey’s Beach had been a disaster.

Not bothering to clear her belongings from the bed Lori settled on top of the covers with her laptop and a cup of tea. Counting backwards she reckoned it to be about the right time to catch Sara.

The FoxyNonna signal was a little weaker from the bedroom at the back of the house but still strong enough.

She was right, Sara was online and she spotted Lori immediately. PING! Birdy, thank god. I was worried you’d had second thoughts. Can we video chat?

Lori clicked the little video camera button and adjusted her screen so it pointed at her face and not at her chest.

‘Hey! Babe, oh god I’ve missed you. I’m so sorry Birdy, I really am.’ Sara looked close to tears as the camera flickered into life.

‘Don’t cry Sara, I’d really rather we just moved on from it. I don’t want to rake over that night again.’ Lori covered her mouth as she yawned.

‘Ok, if that’s really what you want.’

‘It is.’

‘Then fine,’ Sara pinched her cheeks and leant forward into the screen, ‘now you just have to tell me EVERYTHING!’

Not sparing a single detail Lori told her all about the shop, and Jenny, about her first encounter with Zeb. And about her run in with the solicitor in Green Bay.

Sara gasped and laughed as Lori regaled her with the story of how she’d almost accused the Police Sergeant of shop lifting, and how he’d reacted at their second meeting.

‘Mmm he sounds edible Birdy, you definitely could do with a bit of bad boy while you’re there,’ Sara suggested.

‘Ugh, no Sara! He may have the kind of face and body that makes knicker elastic melt at one glance, but he’s a complete asshole. I mean, really, he’s very very, oh what’s the word...’ Lori rubbed her eyes unable to think straight as the jet lag debilitated her mind.

‘Sexy? Stimulating? Electrifying?’ Sara chimed in.

‘NO! Well, yes, but no. You know what I mean Sara.’

‘I do, but I also know you Birdy and I know that you haven’t had sex for over a year. If you don’t fix that up soon you’ll dry up!’

‘You’re getting completely off point. What I need, is your help with this dump.’ Lori picked the laptop up and spun it slowly round the room. ‘See?’

‘Eww, yes, ok, I do see.’ Sara crinkled her nose as though she could actually smell the rotten wood aroma that filled every room in the place. ‘The shop isn’t making money I take it?’

‘From what I’ve seen, I’d say no. Not a cent.’ Lori sighed. She’d just have to sell for perhaps its land value, which could be worth something, after all its position within the village was as good as it gets. From anywhere in the garden and the back of the house the view out to sea was uninterrupted. Surely waterfront land in Murfey’s Beach could be considered ideal holiday home potential.

‘What’s up?’ Sara asked.

‘Oh nothing, just feel a little odd that’s all. I shouldn’t give a damn I know, but I do think it’d be a sad day for the village if whoever I sold to bulldozed the place to make way for a glass fronted mansion.’

‘I understand completely.’ Sara frowned in sympathy.

‘Don’t get me wrong,’ Lori took a sip of her tea which was now only lukewarm, ‘I don’t give a damn about my father’s legacy.’

‘Well, that’s good to hear!’ Sara mocked. ‘Look, I’m going to let you sleep, you look like shit. I’ll have a talk with Max today and do some research for you, see what I can come up with.’

‘You don’t have to do that.’ Lori yawned again. She could hardly keep her eyes open.

‘No, but I want to. Now go to sleep.’ Sara kissed the screen and logged off.

 

Woof!

Woof! Woof!

Woof!

Lori sat bolt upright sending her laptop flying. Thankfully its fall was cushioned by the clothes she’d not yet picked up from unpacking. She must have fallen asleep the second she’d closed the lid. Her arms were numb with pins and needles where she’d slept in the same position all night.

Woof!

Woof! Woof!

Picking her way through the minefield of belongings on the floor she made her way downstairs and out the back, following the barking to the bottom of the garden. The sun was just peeping over the horizon, casting a bright orange glow into the water.

Sat at the top of the grassy staircase staring out to sea was Zeb’s dog. It turned, startled, as Lori approached, stooped low so as not to intimidate and potentially cause it to attack in fear.

‘It’s ok buddy, what’s wrong? Why all the noise?’

Woof!

Woof! Woof! Woo…

‘Ok ok I get it! Shhh. Shhh.’ She cautiously placed her hands on its ears stroking downwards towards its neck and collar.

Woof!

Before she could get a grip of the collar it twisted its head away from her hands and took off down the steps, across the rocks, and launched itself into the waves.

Vaguely aware she was dressed only in a vest and her underwear Lori followed it as far as the edge of the platform. As it had done yesterday, the dog popped back up amongst the bubbles a few seconds later and swam into shore continuing where it’d left off.

Woof!

Woof!

For god’s sake, what is wrong with the thing? Lori looked amongst the waves for Zeb. Nothing. He was nowhere to be seen.

Woof!

Shit. Lori searched up and down the line of surf for several minutes. Still nothing.

Shit, shit, shit. She jiggled up and down on the spot feeling like she needed to do something, and do it quickly.

‘Arrrghh!’ Without thinking Lori let out a guttural cry and took a running leap off the platform.

The force of the fall slapped her skin with such a sting that she took an in-breath and instantly exploded back above the surface coughing and spluttering. Salt water scratched her lungs making her cough more violently, and her limbs did a sort of uncoordinated involuntary flapping. Unable to exhale without pain she struggled to stay afloat as a constant assault of waves crashed against her.

BOOK: Murfey's Law
11.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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