Harry stood very still. He seemed to be waiting for something. Then I heard fast paced footsteps coming up behind us.
"Agent Adkison, here you are." Bobby stumbled up to us somewhat out of breath.
"Where else would I be?" Harry seemed completely amused by Bobby.
Misty turned with nearly a predatory gleam in her eye, "Bobby Curry, the cop, how do you do," she was suddenly standing a bit more provocatively than Cinda ever had. She seemed taller and more exotic than my friend. There was an air of sensual desire waving off her and causing Bobby no small problem. Bobby audibly gulped at the look in Misty's eye while a puzzled expression flew across his face. He had known Cinda all her life and never had that sort of response. I tried to keep my features placid as I noticed Bobby definitely liked the new Cinda. Misty noticed it too and slid closer to him purring, "Why are you looking for him when I am here?" I somehow got the impression Cinda didn't let Misty date much. Given that it would have been Cinda waking up the next morning with the guy I could understand it but still Misty was definitely in the mood for something more than a coffee.
Bobby stammered out, "Cinda, you did something different with your hair." Well double points for him, he did notice. Misty smiled even wider saying, "Yes, my mom did it." It sounded like Misty was trying to talk like Cinda but she was off kilter. Her voice was too sexy. Not that Bobby seemed to mind.
Okay, I would let her go with the mom comment even though I wanted to shout out that she was a fake Cinda. Harry was smiling at some stray thought he had. Bobby now was well inside Misty's personal space. He hadn't even noticed her moving. I did but it was so subtle that I don't think most folks would have figured out she had glided right up into his face. He blushed and said, "Well, it looks beautiful."
Bobby was down and out for the count for sure. Harry flashed me a smile and then interrupted the two with a question to Bobby, "You wanted me for something?" Misty shot Harry a poisonous look while fingering Bobby's collar.
Bobby straightened up and stepped back out of Misty's somewhat casual embrace. "Yes, sir."
He indicated he needed us to move aside so he could talk with Harry in privacy. I pulled Misty away saying, "We need to head back for dinner anyways. Nice seeing you both." With that I yanked her out of range.
"Why did you do that?" Misty spit out.
"Because Cinda doesn't need to be with Bobby because you have an itch to scratch." I calmly replied.
Misty look furious for a moment then she flickered again and Cinda was back with me and asking, "So we are going home now?"
"Yes." I simply replied. Thankfully Misty wasn't smoking when they flipped. I could see that in my near future and was not looking forward to explaining. Cinda looked at me somewhat puzzled but refrained from asking anything. Harry looked at me and waved, "See you ladies tomorrow."
We both nodded and headed back to Cinda's for dinner. We walked into chaos. Margie was holding an ice pack on her scalp and crying. There was the smell of burnt something drifting around the living room.
"Momma," it was only Cinda now.
Margie tried to look like she was in control but failed. "Honey, you are back so soon?"
Okay. This was so not good. Cinda flew to Margie's side and was making some sort of whimpering sound. I stood frozen in the doorway. Blood trickled down Margie's face and had reminded me of my mom. To be specific the pool of blood next to my mom's body was the memory now washing over my brain. I could hear someone thumping around in the back bedroom where Margie slept.
"Is someone still here?" I asked softly.
"No, that is the officer from last night." Margie was quiet in her reply. It had to be Gary Fisher since we just left Bobby with Harry on the street. The burning smell drifted through the room and I figured out she must have left soup on the stove. I walked into the kitchen and found a pot smoking and remnants of a vegetable soup scorching black over a low flame. Leaving the spoiled saucepan alone I simply turned off the burner and went back to the living room. We could deal with that mess later but at least now there wouldn't be a fire.
"Officer Fisher?" I guessed aloud, already fairly certain of the reply.
It was all she could do to nod her head. Pain etched across her face and she tried to meet my eyes. It was then I noticed her clothing. I paled as it dawned on me why the policeman was in her bedroom. Bruised eyes met mine and she nodded very softly while patting a consoling hand on Cinda who had wrapped herself around her mother's lap. Instead of giving comfort to her mom she was in fact seeking assurance. I knew Margie had nothing good to offer her daughter but her continued silence.
I walked back slowly to find the cop was investigating the sheets. To my horror I could see that blood marred the bedding and clumps of hair from Margie's scalp were scattered around the femininely dainty pillows that had graced Margie's bed. The oak headboard had colorful silk scarves dangling decoratively I thought until it dawned on me that Margie had been tied to the bed while being brutalized. I sucked in air. The man spun nearly drawing his weapon.
"Oh, sorry Lynn, I didn't mean to do that." He looked apologetic at my glance to his right hand fondling the gun holstered on his hip. He sheepishly pulled his hand away while trying to push me back with his eyes. Too late, I had already seen enough to know what had happened. I was just glad Cinda wasn't with me. I could hear her mother's soothing voice and Cinda's garbled answers muffled in the distance. Her mom wasn't going to let her daughter see this scene. Yet she allowed me to walk into it. Mentally I stored away the thought she wanted me to know and see. It was like I was to blame for bringing violence into her home.
"It's okay." Not really but what else could I say? And who knew maybe I was the reason for Margie being attacked. The pit of my stomach hurt and I wanted answers fast. Somehow I doubted Officer Fisher would be offering much more than vaguely worded promises of catching the man.
He finally got up and escorted me out of the room with a finger tip or two on my back. His pushing was strong and his words weak, "You don't need to see this."
Again, that was pretty evident, nobody should have to see the site of a crime. As it was his chosen profession he probably rarely gave it a thought. I had some thoughts but not any I was willing to share.
I kept my silence and allowed him to guide me back to the living room where the two women were softly talking and reassuring each other that they were ok. Neither looked okay and Margie had paled ever so much more in the little time I was away from them. She would have to go to the hospital I concluded when a knock at the door startled us all. I guess we all were a tad jumpy but it was to be expected.
Officer Fisher answered to reveal the fire department paramedics from my mom's murder waiting to be asked in to help. This time at least they could do something. They rushed to Margie's side while the policeman quickly escorted Cinda back to mine. Her back was to her mom through a carefully orchestrated maneuver and she looked to me for comfort.
"Lynn, this is horrible. Two men," at that my brain froze, it wasn't just a single person but two who over powered her, "Came in and knocked my mom around while asking all sorts of questions. They wanted to know where we were and when we were going to be back." Cinda's eyes were clear of Misty but still scary in their intensity.
I looked beyond Cinda to see Margie whispering her complaints quietly to the two men. The men looked uncomfortable at what they were hearing and the cop returned to the bedroom while they dealt with the victim. He obviously wanted nothing to do with the pain Margie had but to get back to the crime scene. After a few more hushed exchanges Margie called out with false cheer in her tone, "Girls, the men don't have the right equipment with them so I need to pop over to the hospital and have a test or two run. See you both later." That was more than a bit disturbing as the hospital was a county away and usually folks only went there when it was serious. Doc Hawker was in town and handled most of the problems that cropped up in the daily life of our town folks. Cinda was firmly in denial and let her mom persuade her that it wasn't severe but just access to obscure equipment at the hospital that was making her mom leave.
"No, problem Mom." Cinda called out over her shoulder refusing to turn around and watch her mom get up. As I was witness to the move I didn't blame her. Something must have been broken like a rib or something from how she grabbed her side and hissed out while turning sheet white. The two men tried to help her but she wasn't comfortable with them touching her. I shuddered to think how she was going to get down the stairs without blacking out. Just then she slumped and the men hustled her out quickly while she was semi-conscious.
Once Margie was out of sight Cinda flipped and bit out, "Well isn't that screwed up. Dear old mom had two gentlemen callers looking for your ass. I told you things were dangerous. You need to be careful." Misty then called out, "Officer Fisher, we are just going downstairs for a minute, okay?"
His muffled reply drifted to us, "Fine, but don't go too far. I will need some information from you." He was pretty distracted sounding and didn't seem to mind our leaving the apartment.
I was also curious why there weren't more cops investigating when it slowly sunk in that they were probably still working on my mom's suspicious death despite the FBI being on the scene. The FBI excuse for being there was that they were trying to find a kidnapper supposedly in the area. Also the two men were still out there looking for us and that made my head hurt. Add in that I was hoping these were the men that killed my mom and we didn't have any more bad guys lurking around the edges. We walked down the back steps quietly. I automatically shook out two cigarettes when we hit the bottom. Misty snagged the one and lit up immediately.
"At least all the trauma is giving me a chance to get out more." She didn't seem very upset by the reason. But I imagined she was not quite human any more if she had ever been. I had no clear idea of what she was other than very scary. Claiming to be around to help me because my dead mom asked her to was not helping me any. There was too much for me to absorb.
Quietly I lit my cigarette and let Misty vent. And she did.
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