State of Emergency – Chapter 14, Part II

March 6, 2011

He could have broken the deal. Could have simply gone back to the B&B, got his stuff, got on a plane and gone. Or just grabbed a gun, walked back and blown Carlyle’s arrogant-little-shit brains out. Sure, there’d have been some legal tape to hack through afterwards, but no-one in San Paro would blame him one whit. He’d be a hero.

Instead of a mook sitting in a police station watching some stuck-up British “real” detective looking at him with utter contempt as he read through Chris’s statement.

The man, Detective Richard Paulson, snorted softly as he set the statement down. “So you followed this girl… and her husband… all the way from America on the pretext of some old criminal charge for which not one single valid extradition warrant exists?”

Chris flushed. He didn’t need this guy lecturing him on due process. He’d always been Mr. Due Process. Until this… He shook his head quietly. She made him crazy, with those big, blue helpless eyes and the quiet way her lips trembled with a thousand things unsaid. He’d read a plea in every look from her, in every word she said. Had he really been so utterly wrong?

He jerked his eyes upwards. Paulson was talking again, had been for a while. Chris hadn’t heard a word. “…a prowler, three times in the past week. We thought it was the paparazzi. That Carlyle guy, he’s looking ripe for one of the big teams next season and they’re always trying to get in on the ground floor. The wife, though… never heard much about her at all. Makes naughty underwear, I gather.” The guy looked at Chris quizzically. “You got some law against that in San Barrow?”

“San Paro.” Chris spat the words. “No! I told you! Her real name is Peony Phorbes! She’s a suspect in an arson that killed a family of three – her own family.”

Paulson snorted again. “Not according to her marriage certificate… or her birth certificate… or her records at the passport office or…” He paused for emphasis. “…Her National Insurance number. Sorry mate, you’ve got the wrong bird.”

Chris clenched his fists and fumed silently as the so-called Detective continued.

“Those two have been living up on that estate for a couple of months now and there’s not been a whisper of trouble out of them. Hell, he even took my son’s class for soccer practice one day. My wife sees her down the shops and for a rich bint, there’s nothing stuck up about her at all.”

Chris could hear Derek’s voice in his head. “Oh, I’ve got something to stick up her, alright.”

“Besides, whose word are we gonna take? A self-confessed stalker from some joke of an American law enforcement scheme, or a fucking local and the innocent little girl you’re telling us is a bad-ass hardened criminal.”

You wait… Chris fumed silently. Give them long enough, and you’ll see.


Chris was shunted to the station cells for 24 hours to give the Carlyles – he hated thinking of them like that – a chance to press charges. The truth about them wouldn’t come to light, he knew; Carlyle had promised him that, along with the continued secrecy of his own guns and his effort with the vest. He had to trust the man to keep his word, had to trust that the guns and drugs would be removed from his room at the B&B without the agent commenting. If Carlyle learned of the heroin…

Well, there was nothing he could do now except sit and wait. The Carlyles wouldn’t bring charges and the following evening, he’d be free to go.

And Peony would be safe. Somewhere far away, hidden from Derek’s murderous vengeance.

Hidden from him.

He turned back and forth, trying to get comfortable on the lumpen, drunk-stained mattress. He pulled the pillow over his head to block out the asthmatic snoring from the tyre-thief on the top bunk, but the smell of alcohol and old vomit turned his stomach. He laid on his back instead, staring into the dark, remembering the mingled scents of sex and sweetness that had flavoured the air as she adjusted the cushion behind him, leaning so close he could have buried his face in the infinitely softer pillows of her breasts.

He bit back a bark of laughter as he tried to imagine what Carlyle’s response would be to that.

His eyes widened in the dark as something came to him. That scent hadn’t been there before, when she opened the door, when she stood behind him holding the gun.

And she hadn’t fired. Even when Carlyle attacked.

But when he came round…

He put his hands over his eyes, gripping into his hair as though he could keep the mental images out. Carlyle had fucked her, right there in that room, while he lay unconscious and bleeding on the floor. Asserting his ownership. Celebrating his victory.

And afterwards, she hadn’t said a word. Not one. Just brought him the icepack and walked away.

“Do you know what she calls you? ‘That… old… ginger… guy.’”

She hadn’t seemed afraid when she leaned in so close.

“Whoever you think you were to her, she doesn’t remember you.”

So trustingly.

“You’re just the fuck who keeps chasing her.”

So invitingly.

“She’s afraid of you.”

And he’d taken the deal and walked away. But she’d never said a word.

Chris didn’t close his eyes at all that night.


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