Authors: Cindy Bell
“Seriously?” Trevor demanded and started to push his way past her. “I came all the way here for you Bekki, and you're not even going to let me crash here?”
Bekki placed her hand firmly against Trevor's chest. “Don't forget about my black belt,” she warned sharply, and then sighed. “Trevor what you're doing for Sammy is amazing. But you and I under the same roof is not. There’s a nice motel not far from here, the Harroway Harbor, I've already made you a reservation.”
“I didn't come here for Sammy,” Tr
evor was growing more agitated. Bekki had never seen him so determined. Usually he treated their time together as a casual blip in his fun forever radar.
“Trevor, you're here on a professional basis. That's it,” Bekki said firmly.
“Why, because of that detective, Nick?” Trevor asked searching her eyes for some sign of weakness. “Who is he to you? He's just some guy from your past, Bekki,” he smiled seductively. “What we had, it was amazing.”
, you're the one from the past,” Bekki corrected him sharply. She was beginning to regret ever asking him for his help. “Nick is my here and now, whatever that may be,” Bekki shook her head slightly and stared at him with confusion. “Since when did you think what we had was amazing?”
“I'm sorry,” he shrugged mildly. “I was stupid. I wasn't ready to settle down. But now, maybe I am.”
All of the hurt that he had caused her in the past by cheating on her and declaring that what they had wasn't even real, came rushing back to Bekki. She almost choked on her words as she spoke.
, it's far too late for that now,” she said and started to close the door.
“Bekki,” Trevor said thickly as he pressed his hand against the door. “I always get what I want.”
“Not tonight you don't,” Bekki growled. “Go to the motel or sleep in your car, but you're not getting in here with me.” Then she gave the door another very hard push, slamming it closed with Trevor on the other side. She had never stood up to him so boldly, but she didn't care. She didn't need her emotions stirred up when they were already so raw from Sammy being accused of murder. She sighed with relief when she heard his car squeal down the street.
Bekki had almost fallen asleep on the couch when she heard a light knock on her door. It startled her awake. She wondered if it might be Trevor trying to work his way into the house again. Cautiously she stood up and walked to the door. When she peered through the peep hole, she saw Nick standing outside. She glanced at her watch. It was well after two in the morning, but she didn't care. The important thing to her was that he was there at all. She opened the door quickly and he looked up at her as she smiled. He didn't smile in return. In fact, he did his best to avoid her gaze.
"I know it's late," he said quietly. He kept glancing at the driveway, maybe looking for Trevor's car. "I just thought you might want an update on what I found out about Sammy's c
ase." When he looked back at her she could see the mixture of emotions in his eyes. He seemed to be conflicted between anger and relief to find her without Trevor.
"Come inside," she said and stepped out of the way so that he could walk past. He hesitated for a moment, and then nodded a little, as he stepped past her and into the house.
"Were you sleeping out here?" he asked as he noticed the blanket strewn across her couch.
"I just had a hard time falling asleep," Bekki said as she slumped down on the couch. "How can I sleep in a nice
, warm bed while Sammy is in that horrible jail?" she asked.
"First of all, she's not in jail," Nick said as he sat down beside her, though she noticed he made sure there was plenty of space between them. "She's in a holding cell. She hasn't been booked yet, so we have a little time," he said calmly. "They will
have to book her soon though or they will have to release her."
"How bad is it?" Bekki asked with a heavy sigh.
"It’s not good," Nick said diplomatically as he folded his hands over one knee. "The fingerprint analysis on the hair dryer cord shows only Sammy's fingerprints. That's to be expected since the hair dryer belongs to her, and it's possible that the killer wiped the cord clean."
Bekki closed her eyes and covered her mouth and nose with her hands. She just wanted to scream. She disliked the fact that police could just arrest innocent people.
"She didn't do it, Nick," Bekki said through her spread fingers.
"I know that," Nick replied calmly. "But
, like I'm sure Trevor already told you, Sammy made an admission of harboring resentment towards the Windwards. Her fingerprints are the only ones on the murder weapon. She was caught standing over the body."
Bekki shook her head back and forth slowly. "She didn't do it," she repeated.
"I know that," Nick insisted with a hint of exasperation.
"But Detective Williams doesn't, does she?" Bekki asked as she lowered her hands.
“Detective Williams is used to the police doing the police work,” Nick replied in an admonishing tone. “She told me about the shoeprint…”
“That's not fair,” Bekki interrupted and sat forward on the couch. “They did
n't find that shoeprint either…”
“And if you had told them about it instead of conducting your own investigation we might have had cause for a second suspect in the case,” Nick pointed out, his patience fraying. “Bekki I know how smart you are, and how much you care about Sammy. I know it has to be driving you crazy not to be able to find a way to get her out, but know this. As long as she is in that holding cell, she is safe from the Windwards.”
“What are you saying?” Bekki asked, her eyes widening as horrible images played through her mind.
“I'm saying that they might decide a dead accused murderer is more valuable than a live one,” he admitted in a serious tone. The
n he reached out and took both of her hands in his. “Bekki I'm not trying to scare you I promise, it's just that in this case you are seriously in over your head.”
Bekki tried to give his hands a soft squeeze but he pulled his hands away before she could. She could sense the underlying tension inside of him, by the way his muscles were so tense, and his repeated refusal to look directly at her.
“Nick,” Bekki reached for his hand which was again splayed across the curve of his knee. She saw his fingers tense slightly as she touched the back of his hand. “What happened tonight…” she started to say.
“Don't,” he warned her and his dark green eyes snapped upward so suddenly that she drew back slightly in reaction to their impact. “There's enough going on right now,” he explained in a calmer tone. “I just don't think we need to talk about that right now, okay?”
Bekki frowned as she slid closer to him on the couch. “But there's nothing to talk about, that's what I'm trying to tell you,” Bekki pointed out. “I don't want you to think…”
“Really it doesn't matter what I think,” Nick explained as he sat back against the couch. “What matters is that you're obviously not ready for,” he paused a moment and then shook his head. “This is why I didn't want to talk about this.”
“You're right,” Bekki nodded, her heart sinking as she did. “This is about Sammy, that's what we should be focused on.”
Nick nodded silently, but his hand shifted on his knee, it turned upward so he could gently hold her hand in his.
“No matter what you may think Bekki, I care about you,” he took a breath.
“I know you do
, Nick,” she said quickly, but he shook his head.
“I mean, I care about you first, and I'm a detective second. So I want you to really listen to me when I say this to you,” he tugged her hand further into his and met her gaze intently. “Are you listening to me?”
Bekki's eyes widened at the intensity of his words. She nodded slightly. “I'm listening,” she promised.
“The Windwards are very powerful people,” he explained, still holding her gaze. “They buy and sell judges, politicians, and anyone else they please. I don't want you getting involved in this case more than you already have.”
Bekki started to draw her hand back from his as she shook her head, but he held her hand firmly. “Nick you can't ask me to do that, not when it comes to Sammy.”
“I'm not asking you,” Nick sa
id in a sterner tone, his grip tightening ever so slightly. “Do not get involved in this case, Bekki. Let me, and Detective Williams handle it.”
Bekki rolled her eyes and gave her hand a hard tug, freeing it from Nick's grasp. She stood
up from the couch swiftly and turned to face him.
“That's what this is really about, isn't it?” she asked sharply, her own eyes now reflecting her frustration as they met his. “It's Detective Williams, she's the one telling you to keep me out of this.”
“Bekki,” Nick frowned, and as he did she could see the irritation growing in his expression. “For once, please, just accept that someone cares about you enough to not want you to get hurt. If you cross the Windwards, they can make you disappear!”
“Just like they did to Lucy!” Bekki shouted so loudly that the level of her own voice startled her, and surprised Nick, who stared up at her with a mixture of confusion and frustration. “Just like they're tryi
ng to do to Sammy. Nick it was one thing when I was accused of murder. I could handle it. But Sammy can't…”
“Maybe she's stronger than you give her credit for
, Bekki,” Nick said in a cool voice as he stood up from the couch. “You think you know her so well, but maybe you don't know her as well as you think. She's probably not the only one you've made that mistake with,” he said with gentle accusation in his voice. It was not so much a hurtful comment as it was an illustrative one.
“Really?” Bekki shot
back. “Is that what you think of me? That I'm just some judgmental person who is arrogant enough to think I know everything about everyone?”
Nick closed his eyes for a
brief moment and let out a long, slow breath. She could see the muscles in his body begin to relax as he walked towards her.
“Of course not,” he replied and held her gaze with his own. “I think you're
amazing, intelligent, stubborn and so damn strong-willed that you can't take good advice when it's given to you by someone who has your well-being at heart.”
Bekki felt herself me
lt as his gaze stroked over her and she watched the honesty of his affection bloom deep within that beautiful shade of green. Even just a few days without him had been torture for her. She didn't want to admit it, but she had been counting down the minutes until he would return from his trip. It struck her yet again, that if she wanted to be with him so badly, why was she so insistent on pushing him away?
With her mind in chaos, and her emotions in turmoil, Bekki gravitated toward
s the comfort of Nick's lips. Their pillow soft skin, accepted her into a gentle kiss. It was tentative at first, probing and investigative, as if neither really knew where the other stood. A guessing game of who would pull away first. The real surprise was when neither pulled away, and the kiss began to grow more passionate. Nick's arms encircled her firmly, drawing her body tight against his as he chased after the kiss and continued it with growing desire. Bekki's heart was fluttering with every caress of his mouth, and the sensation of his fingertips stroking across her lower back. She wanted that sensation to grow, to wash away everything bad that was happening around her, to drown out the memories of what Trevor had done, of what she had done, she wanted to feel nothing but Nick's arms around her. When Nick did pull away from her he gazed down into her eyes longingly. He didn't have to speak, Bekki knew what he was asking.
She grasped his hand gently in her own and led him into her bedroom. There was a moment as she crossed the threshold from the hallway into her bedroom, that she felt the urge to turn back, to force him to leave. She wanted him out of her
life, she didn’t want to be hurt again. But when he closed the bedroom door behind them and drew her back into his arms, when his lips collided with hers in a surprisingly possessive and demanding kiss, all of those thoughts dispersed. In that moment the desires of her heart overtook the rationality of her mind, and she wanted to share eternity with Nick.
swept her up into his arms and carried her over to her bed. When he laid her reverently down on the bed and she looked up at him, she witnessed the expectation in his expression. She knew that if she let this happen, and then decided to break things off, it would be a very deep betrayal. She knew this was the crucial moment, when she was either denying or accepting him, when she was either making herself vulnerable, or hiding behind her fear. When Nick sprawled out on the bed beside her, she pressed her lips firmly to his. She wanted to get back that head-swimming sensation, that surge of no responsibility to anyone or anything. But instead the tenderness of his kiss in return, the way he savored every gentle touch of his fingertips against her skin, caused tears to rise to her eyes. Nick pulled back slightly when he sensed the tears beginning to fall.
“Bekki,” he whispered through the shadows of her room his lips roaming to kiss away the tears that fell. “I'm sorry,” he kissed her forehead gently and pulled her close to him.
“Why are you apologizing?” Bekki gasped out, and angrily tried to blink back her tears. She wanted to enjoy the moment, she wanted to give into it, but she just couldn't.
“For rushing you,” he replied and coasted his gaze along hers as he added. “I'm
ready, I've been ready since the first time I laid eyes on you again, even if I was hurt. Just because I'm ready, doesn't mean that I should be rushing you.”
Bekki laid her head against his
chest and snuggled close to him, it felt so good to be sharing a bed with him, curled up around his body. That was the true comfort that she needed right now, someone there that she knew she could trust, despite the entire world spinning out of control.
“There really isn't anything between Trevor and
me,” she whispered against the curve of his neck.
“I know,” he murmured in return, but his voice wavered slightly. His arm tightened around her as he held her. “Just try to sleep,” he kissed the top of her head gently. “In the morning things will start clearing up, try not to worry.”
As Bekki drifted off to sleep in his arms, with his long fingers ritually sweeping down through the dark waves of her hair, she experienced the most peaceful sensation she had felt in a very long time, perhaps not since that summer that they had shared in high school. It was so comforting that she was able to fall right off to sleep.
Bekki awoke around dawn in Nick's arms. She glanced up at him to see that he was still sleeping soundly. It wasn't exactly the romantic encounter they had both been expecting, but it had touched Bekki's heart very deeply. She sighed as she studied the curve of his slightly parted lips. She was very tempted to kiss them. Then all at once the reality of the situation surged on top of her. Sammy wasn't waking up snuggled up in someone's arms. She was waking up in a holding cell wondering if the rest of her life was essentially over. This was something that Bekki simply could not allow. She eased out from under Nick's arm and sat up on the edge of the bed. She knew that Nick had been adamant about her staying out of the investigation, but she couldn't just sit back and let Sammy be convicted.
It was barely light outside when she glanced out the window. She began going over and over in her mind what Sammy had told her about being at the mansion that day. All at once she remembered one very important clue that she had somehow lost track of. Katherine throwing a bag of trash into the garbage
can herself. Why would a woman of means be doing this? Because she didn't want to risk anyone seeing what was inside. That was it! The answer had to be in that bag. She jumped up from the bed, careful not to wake Nick. She only took long enough to throw on some fresh clothes before she rushed out the door. Within the hour she knew that the garbage trucks would be rumbling through town to pick up the trash. If she didn't get to those cans before the trucks arrived, she might never know what, if anything, was hidden in that garbage bag.