Authors: Celina McKane
Blake Security, Book 2
by Celina McKane
Copyright © 2016
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
I sat there next to Mom’s bed on the floor. I could hear the sound of the ambulances, and it made me sick to my stomach. I knew that she was gone, but the idea of them taking even her lifeless body away made my chest hurt so badly I could barely breathe. I held onto her skinny, cold hand and concentrated on breathing in and out. I heard the door slam downstairs in the midst of it all and then the sound of my father’s heavy boots on the stairs.
I braced myself as Dad flew in the door smelling like a bottle of Jack Daniels and cigar smoke. They were smells that would always remind me of home, and not in a good way. Dad stopped in the doorway, and I watched as his eyes went first to Mom. He stared at her chest for a long time, probably waiting for it to rise and fall. When it didn’t, he looked at me with old, familiar disgust in his blue eyes and said, “What have you done?”
I didn’t answer him, and when he drew closer, I stood up. I’d been knocked across the room more times than I could count in my lifetime, but from the time I was twelve years old, I had decided he would at least have to look me in the eye while he did it. Before he was close enough to use the fist he already had doubled up at his side, he looked at Mom again. Suddenly his body was racked with sobs and he collapsed down on top of her. I didn’t want him to touch her, and I was on the verge of pulling him off and risking the beating of my life when I heard the nurse let the EMTs in downstairs.
Instead of touching him or watching him pretend that he’d miss her, I left the room. I’d already said good-bye just before I’d done what I knew would alter the course of my life. Even at seventeen, I was mature enough to know a mercy killing was still a killing. I was a murderer now, and somehow I’d have to decide if I could live with that or not, and how.
I sat in the study downstairs and listened to the activity up in Mom’s room, and then I watched as the EMTs carried the stretcher down the stairs and then wheeled my mother’s body out the door. It would be the last time she left home, and before she was loaded into the ambulance, I knew in my heart that I’d be walking out that door soon as well, never to return.
“You killed her, didn’t you?” He just said it like it was a fact, like I’d taken a gun and held it to her chest and pulled the trigger. He said it like she hadn’t just suffered for a year and finally—at seventy pounds and in constant pain—begged someone to do it. I still didn’t say anything, but I didn’t take my eyes off of him. It had been a long time since he’d hit me, but I’m sure that was simply thanks to the chaos that had ruled our lives since Mom got sick. I may have wanted him to hit me. At that moment, I may have felt as if it was exactly what I deserved.
He walked over to the mini bar, the likes of which he had in almost every room in the house. He stood there for several seconds, and then he used one of his meaty arms to sweep all of the glass decanters off the top of it. The glasses and bottles went flying and shattered into the wall and across the polished wood floors. “You’re a murderer! You killed the woman who brought you into this world and cared for you for seventeen years. What kind of monster are you?” That time he yelled. I still didn’t say anything. Dad turned towards me and took a step in my direction. I stood up as he said, “Get out of my house. I don’t ever want to see you again. I see you again, I might be tempted to tell the police what you did.”
I wasn’t surprised that he was angry…he was always angry. I was in shock that he would threaten to call the police on me. For years I’d listened to him tell my mom and me that family dealt with their own problems internally. Outsiders, including the police, didn’t need to know what went on behind closed doors. I guess that was just all about protecting him. When I was a kid, I used to beg my mother to call the cops when he started slapping her around, but she wouldn’t. By the time I got old enough, I’d decided to just step in and take the beatings for her. He didn’t do it that often, and I figured it was less trouble to hide some bruises and a broken bone or two than it would be to testify in court.
Without saying a word, I picked up my keys, and as Dad’s attention shifted to the bottles on the floor, I walked out of the room, down the hall, and out the front door. I didn’t take anything with me except what was on my back and the Challenger that my parents bought me for my sixteenth birthday.
I drove off the large estate without a destination in mind. I wanted to go to Ariana. She always made things better. I just wasn’t sure that if I saw her right then I could keep what I’d done to myself. What would she think of me? Instead of going to her, I decided to go to Sam’s and chill out for a while before I saw her. Sam was two years older than I was and he had his own apartment. His house was where I always escaped to when my father was on a violent streak. It seemed appropriate that I go there then. I decided that maybe I’d just get drunk and then I wouldn’t have to think about today. Maybe that would quell my conscience for a while…it seems to work for my dad.
When I got to Sam’s apartment, I found Brandon there. Brandon is my best friend, and he’s also Ariana’s brother. As soon as he opened the apartment door and saw my face, he said, “Oh shit…” I just nodded and went inside. Brandon knew my life well enough that I didn’t have to say “Mom’s dead” out loud.
“Where’s Sam?” I asked, as I dug through Sam’s refrigerator for a beer.
“He had to head back.” Sam Dupree, our other best friend, graduated a year before us and attended Mississippi State University. He lived in the dorms while school was in session because he played football and baseball and it was easier than going back and forth. His father rented him the apartment in Lafayette, and he kept it so that he could come home whenever he wanted to. Brandon and I both had keys to it, and Sam let us use it whenever we needed or wanted to.
“Zoe just left. I was going to take off too, but I can stay if you want me to.” I nodded, twisted the cap off my beer, and chugged half of it at once. When I sat it down, I saw Brandon raise an eyebrow.
Feeling mean, I said, “What? My mother just freaking died. I can have a beer if I want to.” I wasn’t usually a drinker, and I didn’t even really like the taste of it. Mostly I was afraid of turning into my father so I stayed away from it. But that day nothing else would help, I was sure. Brandon didn’t say anything. He just sat down at the table and drank his own beer slowly and watched me with wary eyes as I downed my first one and then two or three more to every one of his.
We didn’t talk about my mom. I knew Brandon would wait for me to bring her up, but I didn’t want to talk about it yet…I couldn’t. I’d just killed her; it was too soon.
I have no idea how many beers later it was, but Sam’s refrigerator ran dry. I looked at Brandon, who had four or five bottles sitting in front of him and said, “I gotta get out of here.”
I stood up and the room spun a little. I had to catch myself with my arm against the table. Brandon stood up too. “You can’t drive, man. You had like…way too much beer.”
“I need to get out of here,” I told him. “I can’t breathe.” I walked through the living room and Brandon followed me.
When I stepped out the door, he said, “Give me the keys. I’ll drive.”
I was too drunk myself at that point to question Brandon’s sobriety. I handed him the keys to the Challenger, and we both got in the car….The next thing I remember is waking up to the sounds of sirens blaring. There was a young guy’s face looming over me.
“Hey buddy, there you are. Can you hear me?” I tried to nod, but I couldn’t move my head. I was strapped down onto something. I panicked and tried to break loose as the guy tried to calm me down. “It’s okay, man. We have you strapped down for your safety. Try and calm down, you’ll hurt yourself. You were in an accident; you might have a head injury that could get a lot worse if you move. Blink if you can hear me, okay?” I was in an accident? My head hurt, it was pounding.
I had an accident? Where? Where am I?
With a great deal of pain, I reached back as far into my memory as I could. While I was doing that I felt a prick in my arm and looked down. They were starting an IV…
I suddenly remembered. My mother is dead…and I killed her.
My father throwing me out of the house popped into my head then. I remembered leaving the house and driving, but not where I went.
Oh God! Did I go see Ariana?
My chest hurt. It felt like someone was sitting on top of it. Someone was still talking to me, but the man’s voice sounded robotic as they lifted the gurney and loaded me into the back of the ambulance. From there I could see the Challenger, or what was left of it. It looked more like a crushed tin can. Suddenly, like slamming into a brick wall, it all came flooding back.
Brandon was with me. He was driving, and he took the corner too sharp, and we spun out. I remembered we were headed for the old oak tree. The huge old oak tree right near the edge of town.
“M-my fr-friend?” I managed to get out with a lot of effort.
The EMT said, “Just try and relax okay, buddy? Can you tell me your name?”
Tyler…My friend’s name is Brandon. Why are you ignoring the question? That’s what I wanted to say, but it wouldn’t come out. My head was so jumbled. I tried again, slowly that time. “My friend is in the car…Brandon.”
In a move an awful lot like the one I’d made earlier with my mother, the EMT filled a syringe and stuck it into my IV. Maybe he was killing me, too. Maybe that would be a good thing. The last thing I heard was, “Get some rest, buddy; we’ll have you to the hospital soon. You’re going to be okay.”
One Year Earlier
I walked through the cafeteria with my tray in my hands, thanking God it was Friday. I had forgotten to bring my lunch today, and I was so hungry that I thought I’d settle for cafeteria food…but what was currently on my tray didn’t seem to even qualify as such. I took a seat at the table where all of my friends were sitting and said, “Mm...Mystery meat.”
Zoe Augustus laughed and rubbed her belly before saying, “Man, I can’t believe I’m missing out on that.” I looked over in front of my friend. Her ham sandwich on rye, carrot sticks, peanut butter cup, and cookie looked almost good enough to fight her for it.
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“Hey, did anyone go to Maggie Lewis’s party last Saturday?” Jaime Fairbanks, the captain of the cheer squad asked. Three of the girls nodded. I hadn’t gone. I’d had to go to a fundraiser with my parents that my mother was in charge of. I hated those things normally and fought with my mother about it, but she won. Later that night, I was glad she had. Tyler Petit had been there, and it had been well worth it. “Why aren’t any of you talking about it?” Jaime asked. That was a good question, I thought. My friends were notorious gossips.
Zoe and another girl named Suzie looked at each other and shrugged just as Bailey Smith said, “What should we be talking about? Mitchell and Haley?”
I was sitting close enough to Zoe to feel her foot dart over and kick Bailey in the shin. Zoe was giving their other friend an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “What about Mitchell and Haley?” Jaime asked. Mitchell and Jaime had been “together” since eighth grade. Now that they were both seniors, Jamie had told me that Mitchell suddenly thought that maybe they should take a break for the rest of the school year, and as he had put it:
“Explore other options.”
Jaime was furious about it, and from the sound of it, Mitchell had already begun to explore.
“Spill it!” she ordered the sophomore, who suddenly looked like she wanted to be anywhere but there. Poor Bailey, she never thought things through before she said them.
“I don’t know anything,” she said.
“Was Mitchell with Haley?”
“I guess I saw them talking….”
“Bailey! Just tell me!” Jaime was one of those girls that everyone in high school wanted to be friends with. She was pretty, popular, and her father owned the largest car dealership in the county, so they were well off, too. Bailey was one of those girls that had become a cheerleader strictly to increase her social status in high school. Jaime intimidated the hell out of her.
“They were making out in the corner most of the night.” Bailey blurted out. Jaime’s eyes flashed with anger as she turned on Zoe and Suzie.
“You weren’t going to tell me? Really? What kind of friends are you?”
“We just thought since you were broken up…” Zoe started. Jaime had already switched her focus. Haley Vance was sitting at a table across the way by the window with her best friend Lily. Jaime suddenly stood up, reached over, picked up my tray, and started walking over towards Haley.
“Shit! She’s going to throw the mystery meat on her!” Suzie said. I wasn’t going to eat it, so I decided not to get involved. I did cringe as I watched the drama unfold. Jaime was dressed so pretty in her cheer uniform in honor of game day as she stormed over to Haley’s table. Without saying a word, she dumped the gravy-laden meat and mashed potatoes on the Haley’s head. Haley screamed and chaos ensued. I hated high school and drama, and the last thing I wanted was to get caught up in the circus. I made a discreet exit out the back door of the cafeteria and happily came face to face with Tyler Petit. He was sitting on one of the benches underneath the trees in the courtyard.
“Hi Ariana.” He smiled at me, and everything inside of me flared up and then melted.
I’d known Tyler most of my life. He is my brother’s best friend. I’d always had a crush on him, but just over this past summer, I’d noticed that he seemed to reciprocate those feelings. Last Saturday night at the fundraiser had been the first time that I’d really spent alone with him. We had taken a walk along the Vermillion River that runs along the backside of the country club. Tyler and Brandon had remained friends for years although our parents can’t stand each other. I knew mine would definitely have a problem with me being alone with him, so I’d snuck out when they were busy with their high-society friends. Brandon didn’t care what they thought, but I had always been the good girl. I listened to what they told me most of the time, but that night Tyler had kissed me underneath the stars, and I hadn’t been able to think about anything else all week. I hadn’t gotten anything done in math or history class especially because Tyler sat two rows away from me in both. Every time I looked at him, he was looking at me with those sexy hazel eyes. When he smiled at me, I felt alive in places inside my body that I barely knew existed before.
“Hi Tyler. What are you doing out here?” I tried sounding casual, but heard the catch in my own voice.
He jerked his head back towards the cafeteria and said, “Too much like middle school in there. Sit down with me,” he said, patting the seat next to him.
I sat and hoped he couldn’t tell that my stomach was a bundle of nerves. He was wearing his blue and white game-day jersey with the number “12” on the back, and a pair of blue jeans. His brown hair always looked messed up, as if he spent a lot of time dragging his fingers through it. I found that to be much sexier than the guys who spent hours in front of a mirror and used expensive products on their hair. His jersey fit around his biceps snugly, and I couldn’t help but notice how nicely his body was developing as he got older. I almost felt like a pervert when I looked at him.
“I left for the exact same reason,” I told him. “Jaime just dumped my lunch over Haley’s head.”
He laughed, and when he did, his full lips framed his teeth. His two front teeth slightly overlapped each other, and I really liked that too. I couldn’t stop thinking about how those lips felt against mine. His mind must have been in the same place because suddenly he said, “I’m glad you came out here. We haven’t had much of a chance to talk since Saturday. I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.”
He grinned, and I could detect a little bit of a lustful look in his hazel eyes as he said, “Yes, I have. A lot.” He emphasized “a lot.”
I wasn’t all that savvy when it came to boys. I hadn’t even been on a real date yet. Tyler was different than most boys, too. He was so hot and smart and athletic…the whole package. I could barely think when I was that close to him. “I’ve been thinking about you, too,” I finally said.
He reached over and took my hand off of my lap. His was big and warm and chills ran all the way up my arm and back down my spine. He leaned in close and said, “I really want to kiss you again; you think you’d be okay with that?”
I felt like I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t talk. I was able to nod though, and he automatically brought his lips down against mine. He ran them across mine slowly and seductively before sliding his tongue out and pressing against the seam. I let my lips part and gave his tongue full access to my mouth, and then I brought my arms up and wrapped them around his neck. He put a hand on my lower back and pulled me into him. I melted into his chest as we kissed, sinking back into the bench and becoming completely oblivious to our surroundings. We kissed until we both jumped the sound of someone clearing his throat loudly. We pulled apart and looked up at the unwanted intruder. It was Mr. Lawrence, our math teacher.
He lifted an eyebrow and said, “I don’t believe we allow public displays of affection on campus these days, do we?”
I could feel my face go hot. I glanced at Tyler out of the corner of my eye. He was grinning. “Sorry, Mr. Lawrence,” I said.
The teacher turned his disapproving look on Tyler and said, “I don’t hear you apologizing, Mr. Petit.”
Tyler laughed and said, “I’m sorry, sir but I can’t even pretend to be sorry I was kissing her.”
My body filled with a warm rush. Mr. Lawrence rolled his eyes and said, “Keep it off my campus.”
“Yes sir,” we both said. Tyler was still grinning. Once he was gone, Tyler laughed again, and I giggled. I thought he was going to kiss me again, and I was going to let him, but the bell rang and stopped him. He stood up and offered me his hand. I took it, and he pulled me to my feet.
Giving me that intense, green-eyed stare again he said, “Do you want to have dinner with me after the game tonight?”
I nodded, probably too enthusiastically. “I’d like that.” He leaned in and gave me another quick peck on the lips before leaving me standing there, trembling and out of breath. I hadn’t even considered what I’d tell my parents…or Brandon.