Read The Awakening Online

Authors: Kat Quickly

Tags: #Romance, #erotica, #sensual, #global, #warming, #intrigue, #thriller, #politics, #conflict, #competition, #wolves, #polar bears, #New York, #the Arctic, #environment, #woods, #shape shifters, #magic, #immortal, #healers, #dreams, #destiny, #legend, #publishing, #swimming, #love, #good, #evil

The Awakening (7 page)

BOOK: The Awakening
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Andrew brought her a coffee. “Hi, Babe. I wondered how long you were playing Sleeping Beauty.” He kissed her.

She yawned again. “I guess we were a bit late last night. But it’s still morning. Isn’t it?”

“Just,” he said nodding towards the clock. “By the time we’ve had breakfast it’ll be lunch time.”

“I am hungry,” she smiled. “Mm, nice coffee.”

“I thought you might be.”

“Hey, I need a shirt, you know. I’ve only got the dress and I don’t really want to drip breakfast juices on it.”

AA went to his closet and found a t-shirt and pair of boxers. “You really need to have some things here at least, Carmen. This is silly, you know.”

She pulled on his clothes and joined him at the table. “Let’s not have that conversation again. Let’s just have a gorgeous day together.”

He set the plates down, poured fresh juice and shook his head. “I just don’t get it, Babe. I love you: you love me. We’re engaged. We should be together all the time.”

She nodded, swallowing some egg and toast. “Yes but that means living here. You don’t like my place.”

“But I’m there all the time. This is a rare event. How often do I get to cook for you?”

She nodded. “I guess.”

“Look at this place. It’s huge, Carmen. It’s state of the art in appliances and fittings. Look at the view. You live in a basement.”

“I guess we could buy a place together. Stop al this mine’s better than yours stuff.”

“But mine is better than yours, Carmen.” Andrew had never understood her love for that basement. Yes, it was huge, it was also well appointed, it was next to Central Park, it had a courtyard. But it was a basement. It had no style, no view, no position worth having.

Carmen stopped eating. “I knew you’d do this. Take a lovely moment and ruin it by badgering me about my home. This loft means nothing to me, Honey. How would the dogs cope here?”

“There’s a roof garden,” Andrew offered lamely.

Carmen dropped her toast. “Oh my God, Andrew. The dogs. I haven’t seen them since five yesterday. They must be frantic.” She stood up. “We have to go now. I have to walk them, feed them.”

“Hey, it’s okay,” he moved around the table to sooth her by rubbing her shoulders, something he knew she loved. “Calm down, Carmen. Nothing can happen to them in such a short time. They have water. They’ll just be a bit skittish without you. It’s not the end of the world. Let’s finish breakfast, eh? A shame to waste it.” He kissed her and stroked her head. “Okay? Then we’ll go.”

Carmen collapsed back onto the chair. “Of course, you’re right, Andrew. It’s no time at all. They’ll be fine.”

“They’re only dogs, Carmen,” he said softly.

“But they’re not Andrew. They’re the only thing left of Dad. They’re the last connection to him.” They’re my only friends, she thought, but managed not to say.

Andrew looked at her. Sometimes he felt as if he didn’t know her at all. Her dad had been dead since she was twelve. Cancer of the throat: diagnosed far too late. Sitting there he realised he knew the outline of her life, but not the detail. She didn’t speak of feelings, of fear and pain. She just did and was. She just seemed strong and determined all the time. He guessed she still missed her father. In all probability had never got over his death. Perhaps that was why she gravitated to Victor so readily. Although, Andrew considered, Victor was looking less and less like anyone’s father with each passing day.

“I didn’t realise, Carmen.”

“Someone, some old friend of his gave them to him for me. This guy was a breeder or something. He lived in Canada I believe. Near Hudson Bay as I recall. When he knew Dad didn’t have long to live he came with the dogs. Told him that even when he was gone I would have protection and love.”

It was the first time Andrew had seen Carmen close to tears. She never talked about her father. They visited her mother from time to time. But that was superficial and always brief. So very obviously a duty visit. But he’d quite liked Madeleine and found her easy to get along with. Easier than Carmen at times. In fact, he found it hard to believe that they were mother and daughter. They had so little in common and Madeleine was a petite woman. Andrew guessed the long dead David must have been very tall.

“Come on then, we’ll go now.” He gathered her up. “I’ll make a few calls. Make sure everything’s fine. But it will be, Babe. It will be.”

As they pulled up outside Carmen’s apartment building there were several police cars. A detective came over to Andrew as he got out of the cab. “You must have known something, Andrew. Come and see. Afternoon,” he nodded to Carmen.

“Carmen, this is my old school friend Josh Alexander. I called him as we left my place. He’s here to help.”

“I hope so,” he nodded and led them down the front steps. Before them was a scene of wanton vandalism. Behind the security bars of her front door and windows glass and wood had been smashed. Plants had been up-rooted and inside Carmen’s possessions had been scattered everywhere. All her books and C.D.s were on the floor, her kitchen cupboards up-ended, furniture moved, her clothes were in heaps on the floor. Only her bathroom seemed untouched. The mess was extensive. But as she walked throughout her home the only thought in her head was for Alaska and Zanzibar and the silence from the back was frightening. She inched from the carnage at the front door down the passage, leaning against the wall, frightened she might fall, sick with fear about the sight that waited for her. And she was not disappointed. Both dogs were lying prostrate on the paving stones, completely still. Someone was photographing them. Carmen ran to them, tears falling down her cheeks. “No. No. Please, no.”

She was held back by Josh. “No. You mustn’t touch them. We’re still examining them for evidence.”

Carmen began to shake.

“I’m sorry. I should have been clearer. They’re not dead, Carmen. Some sort of poisoning. Our vet has examined them. He’s arranging transport to his clinic as we speak.”

“Will they be all right?” Carmen freed herself from Josh’s embrace.

“We’re not sure. The vet needs to run some tests. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful.”

“But they’re alive.”

“Yes.”

Andrew appeared and put his arms around her. “I’m sure they’ll be fine. You keep telling me what fit and courageous animals they are. We need to get you out of here.”

Josh nodded. “It’s not clear what happened here. There’s a great deal of mess, but no actual forced entry. It seems someone had a key. Would that be possible? Can you think of anyone who would want to hurt you?”

Carmen shook her head. Really she didn’t care about the mess, or even if anything had been stolen. The only things she really cared about were Alaska and Zanzibar and all she wanted was to talk to the vet, ring her own vet and get her dogs to the clinic and stay there until her beloved animals were well again.

“Do you have any enemies?” Josh looked apologetic. “I’m sorry but I have to ask these questions.”

Andrew shook his head. “I can’t believe anyone would want to hurt Carmen. She’s one of the good guys. You know that, Josh. Not deserving of this rubbish.”

Josh sighed. “No-one ever deserves this, AA. But we need to see if we have any leads to follow. The lack of forced entry is of concern. I’m sure you appreciate that. Who else has a key, Carmen? Is there anything missing?”

Carmen was stunned by what had happened. It was bad enough that the dogs were hurt, it was too much to have to think that there was someone out there who hated her this much. “I’ll have a look around.” She wandered aimlessly through her home, picking up bits and pieces and letting them fall away to the floor again. As far as she could see nothing had been taken. Her music system, the TV, her modest jewellery collection – all there, if not in their right place. Her trophies and medals were all in the display cabinet. In fact they hadn’t been touched. Not a photo out of place and she had plenty of those on her passage walls. She picked up the one of her with her dad and the dogs as puppies. It was the last photo with him. It was odd wasn’t it how the parent you loved the most was the one taken first. What was this mess compared to that disaster? This was unfortunate but only a minor irritation in the scheme of things. Everything would tidy up and as long as the dogs recovered then no harm was done. There was nothing to be gained by dwelling on who might be out there with an axe to grind against her. No, that was the path of paranoia and she was not about to invite such negativity into her life. These random acts of vandalism and stupidity were not personal. They just happened. Why should she be immune?

She managed a small smile for Josh and AA. “Nothing’s missing. Well, nothing I can see. It’s just a mess.”

“Well that’s good,” Josh nodded. “About this key then. Who else has one?”

“My mother. But she rarely leaves her apartment, she certainly never comes here. She has a key, just in case, you know. AA, of course. And I guess the concierge. I can’t see any mischief there.”

Josh wrote some more notes. “You’d be surprised. People you think you can trust are often the first to betray you.”

Andrew coughed. “I think that’s a bit rich, Josh.”

“No offence, bud. But in my experience that’s often the way. Someone you least expect or someone unknown that has a tenuous connection and often an obsession. I mean, you aren’t exactly a private citizen, Carmen.”

“I guess not. Now about my dogs. That’s really all I’m worried about. Excuse me.” Carmen went back to the garden where the vet had returned and was about to move the dogs into the back of a van.

“I’d like them to go to my vet,” she said to the police vet.

“I’m sure I can take care of them.”

“I’m sure you can,” Carmen’s tone was unusually sharp. “But I want them where they will be most comfortable and best looked after and that’s with Cody and Beckett. I’m calling now. You can speak to them, tell them what you know.” Carmen usually went out of her way to be polite to everyone she met. But something about this little thin lipped man set her teeth on edge. She wasn’t having him anywhere near Alaska and Zanzibar. She was going to make sure they recovered, thus they needed to be with people she trusted. People who knew her dogs. She was not about to take any risks with their lives.

He handed the phone back to her. “All right then. We’ll take them there now. I guess you want to come for the ride?”

She nodded and without a word to AA settled into the back with the dogs. It wasn’t far too Cody and Beckett’s and some things were important. She cradled Zanzibar’s head in her lap, stroking his silken fur. Like Alaska, he was breathing shallowly. But they were both still breathing. Carmen stroked Alaska’s flanks, not willing to think about life without these two. It was hard to make Andrew understand that they were more than pets to her. They were her best friends, her family. They were always there, loyal, loving, devoted to her. She loved the simplicity of such pure animal devotion and she knew no man could match it. Well, perhaps one. Yes, there was Victor in her head, understanding her wordless thoughts, her deepest feelings. Where had she conjured him from?

Predictably Andrew was still in her apartment talking to the police when she returned an hour or so later. He was cross. She’d ignored his text messages while she’d been at the vet’s. “You can’t just go off like that,” he hissed as she came through the door. “Leave me here like a fool.”

“Seriously Andrew, do you expect me to believe anyone thinks you’re a fool?” She knew s he should have been more contrite but he should have known she’d prioritise the dogs. “I’m sure you’ve been really helpful here.”

“Honestly Carmen, anyone would think you cared more about those dogs than anything else.” He was doing his best to be understanding, after all it was her home that had been invaded and trashed, not his and he should be aware that people react to stress in different ways. He looked at her, still in his t-shirt and boxers, no make-up or perfume, those extra-ordinary long legs and his heart softened. She looked such a waif, but a very sexy waif. He put his arms around her. He just wanted to get her home and back into his bed. “Oh, Carmen, I’m sorry. I know how much Alaska and Zanzibar mean to you. Of course you’d go with them. Will they be all right?”

She nodded. “Doc Cody thinks they’ll be fine. Something sinister in their water. He’s amazed they’re alive. The dose should have killed the. He’s keeping them in for a few days, well until all the poison is through their systems and they’re eating properly again. As long as it takes, I guess. They’re both on drips. They look so sad, Andrew.”

“Well that settles it. You’re coming home with me. You can’t possibly stay here.” He clapped his hands and tried not to smile too widely.

“Don’t be silly. I’ve got all this cleaning up to do,” Carmen glared at Andrew. “You can see that. Now that the police have finished – “ she looked at Josh who nodded.

Andrew couldn’t believe it. He wanted to shake her. Knock some sense into that blonde air head of hers. “Help me here, Josh. Look, Carmen you’ve just been broken into. Someone has trashed your home and tried to kill your beloved dogs and you think you can stay here. It isn’t safe. Read my lips. I’ll say it again. It’s. Not. Safe. Here. Carmen.”

Josh was nodding his agreement. “He is right, Carmen. It’s not really a good idea to stay here. At least not until we know more and certainly not without the dogs. I was just about to suggest you stay somewhere else for a while. We normally do in cases like this. And you couldn’t be safer than with AA. Right?”

BOOK: The Awakening
10.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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