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Authors: Akil Victor

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BOOK: The Watcher
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Five feet, the sirens grew louder, the freeze command came again accompanied with expletives and foot falls. His hackles raised in anticipation of the shot that would rip through his back from the cop's gun.

Wham
! He felt the flinging impact of flesh against flesh, bone against bone as someone crashed into him at full-speed causing stars to flash before his eyes. Disorientation followed as he took a few seconds to regain his vision and balance. He was down on one knee, the money bag three feet to his right. A similar black-glad figure was regaining his footing in front of him. Terrance lunged forward to retrieve the money, grabbing the duffle bag's handle before crashing forward head first after being tackled from behind.

“Don’t move!” He heard the feminine voice in his ear, felt the lightness of her body as he began to rise only to have his body involuntarily locked in place and quickly falling flat again. He convulsed, feeling like a million volts were entering his body from the Taser she held at his side.

Across from him, he witnessed the other black-glad figure, a white guy in his early to mid twenties going through a similar occurrence.

“You have the right to remain silent,” Detective Isabel Gonzalez read Terrance Walters and Andrew Solomon their rights as they sat cuffed, side by side, in a squad car. “Anything you say and do…” The entire time she and Terrance maintained steady eye contact. There was no malice in his eyes, merely a smirk on his lips like he held a secret she should know.

“What’s your name?” He asked after she completed the Miranda.

“Detective Isabel Gonzalez. And you’re Terrance Walters.”

His eyebrows shot up. “You know who I am?” He asked, his smirk returning.

She nodded, “Finally caught your ass. I’ve been suspecting you for a while now.”

“Hmm, well, if you would’ve told me that before, we could’ve met a lot sooner.” He smiled.

She returned his smile before slamming the door.

 

 

SEVEN YEARS LATER

 

Bella's Oven had been open three years. Six months after former Detective Isabel Gonzalez decided to walk away from the town of Carnage Police Department. After twelve years of service and many promotions, she realized that being a cop just wasn’t for her anymore. The system, as it was called, was biased. Which is something she had known and wanted to change. However, the lack of true honor, the deceit, sexual harassment, and brutality she witnesses never seemed to subside. Actually, it increased on many levels. After the killing of an unarmed, undocumented, Latino during a routine traffic stop by her partner, she had had enough. Her testimony against him has put him away for a measly year. She had lost many friends in the department and her desire to be in and part of such a poisonous environment.

However, it was the few friends that she had left amongst the fire fighters and those in the department that kept her bakery, Bella's Oven, afloat. But now, she faced another problem.

“Raul, are you sure you have to leave on such short notice?” She asked her head, and only additional, baker.

“I’m sorry Mrs.G, but my family needs me in Las Vegas,” he said, sitting across from her on the wood and cushion stool in front of the small serving counter. His face held a sad expression because he enjoyed working for her during the past three years. “You’re an amazing boss and baker yourself, and I’m sure you’ll find an excellent replacement.”

“Aww, how could I ever replace you?” She rose to give him an apron to apron hug.

A moment later she stood in front of the entrance window wistfully to bid him farewell as his little sedan pulled off with a miniature U-haul trailer on its hitch.

Rachel, a buxomly brunette, Isabel’s best friend and business partner, stood beside her peering out of the window as well. “I’ve been cheating on you and Raul,” she said while gazing at the few people and cars traveling up and down Market Street.

“Excuse me?” Isabel said, looking at her with a confused expression.

Rachel turned to her and shrugged. “Another baker has been giving me food-gasms.”

“What?” Isa returned incredulously. “Who?”

 

 

*      *     *

 

“What’s this?” Isabel asked, stepping out of Rachel’s Trailblazer in front of Township park.

There was a gray Econoline van parked at the edge near the lush grass with it’s side door slid back. About thirty or so people stood anxiously lined before the door. The first two people exchanged currency with an occupant in the van before receiving what looked like stuffed croissants. The next person purchased a plump, glazed, bear claw.

“Come on,” Rachel said, dragging her by the hand to the end of the line.

Isabel took note, watching as three more people immediately stood in line behind them. The park was bustling full of people with smiles and a variety of baked goods.

“He's been around on Sunday's for the past couple of weeks,” Rachel said as the line moved forward. “I guess word of mouth spreads fast,” she took note, watching as Isabel peered at all of the seemingly content people around them.

By the time they were fifth in line, Isabel noticed the TW's Baked Goods & Catering in plain script on the door. This made her angry. Whoever this TW was, was taking away from her business. As if on cue with her thoughts, the man leaned out of the van to hand a teenage couple what looked like two buttery pigs-in-a-blanket. She paused trying to recall his familiar face. Watching as he nodded and smiled while talking to the next set of customers.

“He's hot, isn’t he?” Rachel gushed beside her friend before adding, “Isa,” as she watched her march to the van's sliding door.

“Hey, Terrance Walters,” Isabel barked, stopping in front of the large van. She glared, watching his smile turn to startled before being immediately replaced with a grin as she assumed he recognized her. “Step out of the van,” she ordered in an authoritative tone.

“Excuse me?” He said, his voice deeper than she remembered.

“You heard me. Step out of the vehicle,” she repeated her command.

“Pssst,” he blew her off with the wave of a hand. In the background someone asked, “What’s going on?”

“Isa,” Rachel called at her side.

“Do you have a permit to be here?”

“Actually, yeah. I also have a vending license, commercial business permit, an LLC for this operation, and there are no solicitation laws for this area and park.” He rattled off everything on each finger in particular.

“Let me see your documentation,” she demanded.

“Let me see your badge,” he retorted, his smile returning triumphantly.

“Isa,” Rachel repeated.

“Yes,” she answered, quickly adding, “Did you know he's a criminal?”

“Actually, I’m a man who paid my debt to society, out here trying to make a respectable living.”

This silenced Isabel. Rachel put a hand on her shoulder to whisper something in her ear. The crowd of customers watched curiously until Terrance asked a middle age woman standing near, “How can I help you?” Continuing business as usual.

“Just give his food a chance,” Rachel suggested only to watch her friend cross her arms and sulk.

When it was their time to order, Rachel alone stepped forward. Watching as Terrance tried to disarm Isa with a sexy lopsided grin and eyes that oozed seduction. While Isabel’s closed off body language and entire facial expression read, murder.

“Hey, hi, TW.” Rachel waved a teal French-tip, well-manicured hand, to call for his attention.

“Hey, Rachel, how can I help you?” He asked through full lips that she found irresistibly attractive.

“Um, my business partner,” she gestured to Isa with emphasis, “and I would like to try your spicy pigs in a blanket, potato and cheese turnovers, and glazed peach bear claws. Two each, please.”

He raised an eyebrow at Isabel who squinted and glared at him before he turned to the four small ovens to retrieve their order.

“Thank you,” Rachel said upon receipt. She handed the food to a reluctant Isabel before fingering through her pocketbook for a business card. “Tomorrow morning at eight, right?” She said, business like.

“Whaaat?” Isabel exclaimed before being guided back towards Rachel's SUV.

 

 

The pair of binoculars that had been watching TW for the last two hours drifted left behind the tinted driver's side window. Following the two beautiful brunette Hispanic women as they strolled from the catering van to a newer model Trailblazer. The lens zoomed in on the slightly shorter, Sofia Vergara-ish one of the two. Watching as she disappeared behind the passenger door, he started the engine of the rented black Ford Escape he was in and waited thirty seconds before maneuvering into traffic two cars behind them. Only slowing down slightly to read the sign that spelled Bella's Oven. He touched the Wi-Fi browser on his GPS screen and typed in the business name, quickly receiving photographs and articles of criticism and praise.

 

 

The weather was slightly overcast with clouds building by The time Terrance and his nineteen-year-old kid brother, Chris, arrived at Bella's Oven. He surveyed the small establishment as they walked through the cupcake embossed logo and company name door. Noting that there was no bell at the top or chime to indicate a customer’s arrival. The place had a miniature café feel to it with three booths lined on each side to the left and right. Behind the booths sat three small tables with stools to seat four. There was a side display glass that showcased various baked goods and cookies. The display glass ran around to the front counter that held four more outer stools between the cash register. Two more display cases stood on each side of the swinging doors that led to the office, refrigerator, and store room. In these cases were beverages and additional pastries.

“Hellooo,” Terrance called out, placing his baking box on the counter.

Rachel emerged through the doors. Her voluptuous body was appealing in a stylish gray, feminine business suit. Her three inch open-toe heels; which put her at around five-seven, were teal to match her toenails and manicured finger tips.

“Hi, TW,” she greeted him with a warm smile and handshake.

“Rachel,” he said as Isabel emerged to stand next to her. “This is my brother and catering employee, Chris.” He introduced before adding, “Hi, Isabel,” upon eye contact.

She scoffed, “It's De- Gonzalez to you, Walters,” she said, catching herself before the detective reference, snidely.

“Isa,” Rachel admonished.

She shrugged, “Okay,” relenting a tad bit. “We don't have to be so formal.”

“No doubt. Call me Terrance or TW,” he said, unable to stop staring at her. In his opinion sexy wasn’t a sufficient enough word to describe her. She has a dusky olive complexion, smooth skin that flowed angelically and eyes that were magnetic, a copper-brown that drew you in with each glance and seemingly knew your every intention. Her thick lush hair was streaked cocoa and caramel and pulled back into a pressed ponytail that rested at her upper back.

“What’s in here?” She asked, tapping the box he'd brought along.

“The ingredients needed to wow you,” he responded, looking at her small, flawless, soft looking hand as it lingered on the box. Her manicure was immaculate. He noted how each fingernail was hand painted white and red with little hearts and well detailed roses.

He opened the box as everyone stood at attention around the prep table. He pulled out sugar, honey, flour, chocolate chips, cinnamon, various meal spices, beef, chicken, pork strips, and plantain from the box.

“I' m going to prepare y'all a family recipe of alcapurrias- beef filled plantain fritters, pumpkin spice filled donuts, and vegetarian turnovers along with almond and chocolate chip shortbread cookies,” he said, holding their rapt attention before asking, “Where can I work?”

TW and Chris followed the ladies to the kitchen area which held two large grills, an eight top stove and four standing ovens alongside a walk-in refrigerator and freezer.

He immediately went to work measuring, mixing, stirring, and pouring in preparation for the preheated ovens before moving to the stove and grill to work on the alcapurrias and mozzarella-cream spinach turnovers.

“Can I help?” Isabel asked, surprising him as she stood beside him. Usually he would say no. He hated being disturbed while he was in his cooking zone. However, her classic Coca-Cola bottle shape- so small around the waist and perfectly generous at the bottom- coupled with her intoxicating scent that was seducing him with each inhalation. “Yeah,” he cleared his throat.

“This dough,” he grabbed an already prepared ball, placing it between them on the prep counter, “needs to be kneaded.”

He began the process for her. His fingers expertly massaging, pressing, and spreading the dough. She stepped in, following the same pattern with her small hands beside his big ones. After they made ten circular shapes, he darted off to get the cheesy cream spinach filling. Placing the filling to one side, he buttered the other end and folded it over and sealed the ends with a fork and buttered the outside before placing it on a baking sheet. Isa did the same with the remaining portions.

 

 

“My God, that was amazing. Everything was amazing,” Rachel lauded as they sat at the table left of the entrance nearest the display counter. Placed before them were sampling plates of everything Terrance made.

He made eye contact with Isabel, who returned his stare expressionless. He noticed that she wore, seemingly, no makeup. Her beauty as natural as nature. “What do you think?” He asked her, aware that she'd eaten seventy-five percent of each sampling.

“It was good,” she nodded. “Really good.”

A family of four customers entered the bakery. Looking like the Oswald’s as they greeted everyone and approached the counter to look up at the menu. Isabel rose to meet them around the register.

“Hey,” Terrance spoke up, “would you all like some free samples?”

“Sure,” the father shrugged, leading the family to the side display counter on which Terrance dishes sat.

“Wow!” The father exclaimed, chewing on a pumpkin-spice filled donut. “May I?” He asked, reaching for a creamy spinach turnover.

TW nodded his assent, watching as the kids and wife enjoyed his samples as well.

Rachel smiled and made eye contact with Isa before she broke off to examine a vase of roses she hadn't noticed a moment before at the end of the counter. The attached card read: To Isabel Gonzalez, Beautiful flowers for a beautiful girl.

“Are these items on the menu?” The wife asked.

“Um, not yet,” Terrance said before being cut off with- “But they will be,” as Rachel chimed in. “Right?” She looked up at TW expectantly.

He peered at Isabel who surprisingly gave him a light smile which swayed him to give his assent.

“How early can you be up tomorrow so we can go over the details and your ideas?” Rach asked

“About 2:30 a.m.” Terrance joked.

“Okaaay,” Rachel grinned, “How about seven?”

“ No doubt.”

“Bye, Terrance,” Isabel spoke up. “No more flowers, please.”

BOOK: The Watcher
5.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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