Authors: Marlina Williams
Copyright © 2015 by Marlina Williams
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.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2015
Family of Writers
For all who have lost someone they love to a drunk or distracted driver, and for those who have found the courage to walk away from a bad relationship.
Table of Contents
“C’mon, Miss Suzy Quzy, it’s time to open your pretty green eyes. We have lots of work to do today.”
Susan rolled to her side A deep groan escaped her midnight owl throat. “You suck, you know I hate mornings and this is Saturday. Why can’t you let me sleep in, Miss Cara the beara?”
Cara smiled at Susan before reaching down to tickle her feet. Susan’s shapely legs shot from under the sheets, a near miss when her foot almost connected with Cara’s chin.
“Hey, girlie you better be careful. You don’t want to mess up this mug.” Cara held her hands in front of her face in an exaggerated protective stance.
Susan let out an indulgent titter, wide awake now, but still not ready to start the day. She groaned again, but rolled from the bed without further protest, tugging the loose top sheet with her.
Cara watched as the sheet dropped from Susan’s body settling into a lavender silk pool at her feet. The nightshirt she wore hugged her curves as her unfettered breasts moved under the teddy bear print. Cara stopped herself from pulling Susan back into the bed, reminded of all the work they had planned for the day.
From the corner came a soft woof. Ziggie padded on silent paws across the hardwood floor. He wiggled his curled tail from side to side and placed his massive black head on Cara’s hip. His adoring amber eyes stared up at her.
She obliged him with a pat and rubbed his ears. His eyes closed and his tail waved from side to side faster and faster. The curl prevented a full wag, but there was no doubt he was ecstatic over attention from his favorite person.
Susan watched the exchange. If Cara had looked in her direction she would have seen the small flares of jealousy that flashed in Susan’s eyes.
Ziggie, sensing the tension, looked in Susan’s direction and let out a soft growl, inaudible to Susan, but Cara felt it rumble through his bear sized body. She looked at him with curiosity, but ignored the understated aggression. Ziggie had been the one constant in her life for the last two years, and she trusted his instincts better than her own. He was naturally stand-offish but accepted Susan into his home after she moved in two months ago.
“Tell you what, miss I want to sleep all day. Why don’t you get dressed while I go make us breakfast? How about bacon and eggs?”
“Delicious, but you know I can’t eat that crap. I’ll get fat if I even smell bacon.”
Cara shrugged. “Egg white omelet with skim milk it is then.”
After breakfast they left the older farmhouse in its state of half-finished repair. They were methodically making their way through fixing up the old place. Today they were marking out their new garden plot and installing rabbit fencing to keep the furry intruders from their future crop. Cara carried her printed diagram of the whole farm everywhere they went. As they completed improvements she shaded the area, so far about one fourth was shaded.
Last fall before Susan officially moved in, she came over to help plant two hundred fruit trees and install a drip system to keep everything watered. The fruit trees would be part of a u-pick operation in a few years. In the meantime they were planting crops that would rapidly turn a profit and establish a name for their little operation.
They both still worked regular jobs, but Cara’s dream was to quit when the farm produced enough income for her to live off of. Though Cara’s heart hurt to consider it, she knew Susan would not be around when the time came. The carcasses of Cara’s failed relationships littered her past, and she expected this one to go the same way as the rest. Each failure resulted in a bout of depression and countless hours on the phone with her best friend, Harper.
Harper’s husband was a jackass who mistreated her for years before meeting and impregnating a hussy waitress who trolled for military officers before she snagged one. Cara knew it wasn’t so cut and dried, but it made her blood boil when she thought of Harper alone and half-broke while he lived his perfect little life with his perfect little wife. The ink hadn’t dried on the divorce papers before he announced that he was marrying the little hussy because she was pregnant. Each of Harper’s three pregnancies had ended in a miscarriage before she reached sixteen weeks, making the agony of betrayal slice even deeper with the pregnancy announcement. Cara thought he told Harper to grind it in that his life was now perfect while her life crumbled into dust.
She detected a snapping sound and her mind came back to the present.
“What’s on your mind, honey?”
The words dripped with a slight sarcastic twang Cara hadn’t noticed before. With dread she realized the end was already part of the near future.
“Oh, I was thinking of Harper and that buffoon of a man she was married to. Never mind now though, let’s get to work.” She stalked off without looking back. Ziggie was glued to her side as she strode with purpose toward the barn. Cara’s short blond hair flapped in the wind her determined stride created. The dilapidated white barn with flaking paint gave a sense of comfort to her tumultuous thoughts.
Soft nickers reached her ears when she entered the barn. “I know girls. I’m here to feed your empty bellies.” She called out to the two horses waiting with less than lady like manners for their overdue breakfast.
Two matching chestnut heads hung over their stall doors. She had rescued both mare and filly from an ignorant neighbor who bought a farm on a whim and purchased a pregnant mare for his kid to ride. For three years the mare and filly suffered in a too small lot with no regular care. They were walking skeletons when Cara met them. She begged the owner to give her the suffering horses before they died and he was locked up for animal cruelty. Being new to the area, she wasn’t knowledgeable of local animal cruelty laws, but it worked. He handed over the horses for $500 after negotiating with her. Though short on funds after dumping so much into fixing up her place, she paid and took her new pathetic creatures home.
Before long they were fat and happy and fit enough to ride the trails snaking through the federal lands behind the farm. Susan and Cara had spent many hours riding through the quiet woods with Ziggie trotting along behind.
After dumping feed in each of the horse’s troughs she dragged a roll of wire out to the marked off garden plot. Susan was already there attacking the half-frozen ground with post hole diggers. Cara stopped to watch her work, admiring the way her wiry muscles moved under her shirt and butt clenched with each downward heave of her arms.
“Lookin’ good, girl. You must work out,” she teased.
Susan glared at Cara for a second then gave a quick smile. A bead of sweat dripped from her nose even in the cool morning air. She continued dropping the diggers and pulling up small clods of dirt. From time to time the metal would ring out when it struck a rock. Susan continued to work while Cara unrolled the wire.
They took turns digging holes after the first post settled into its new home. Neither spoke as they worked. The only noises were the soft thump of metal hitting dirt and the occasional clang of rock with a flying spark if it hit right. Ziggie looked on from the sidelines, surveying their work with a quiet disdain only an Akita could muster.
As they settled the last post into place and tamped the dirt down, Cara’s phone vibrated in her back pocket. She drew it out and glanced at the screen. She didn’t recognize the number but answered anyway.
“Hi Cara, Bill from The Farm Store. I’m calling to let you know your tiller came in today. Drop by anytime to pick it up. We’re closed on Sunday though.”
“Great, we’ll stop in today. It came in faster than I expected.”
“Little early to get started tilling, isn’t it?”
“I couldn’t tell you if it’s early, though if the ice crystals we dug from the post holes are any sign, it probably is.” The smile came through her voice, she knew she was impatient, but couldn’t resist getting started on her planned garden.
Bill laughed. “I like that enthusiasm, too many people are moving away from farming. I’m happy to hear a younger person ready to get dirty and do real work. See you when you get here.”
“Bye, Bill, see you soon.”
Susan rolled her eyes when Cara placed the phone back in her pocket.
“I guess that means our afternoon is shot too?” Her eyes narrowed and her lip curled into a childish pout.
Cara delayed answering as she wondered if the next step was Susan stomping her foot and yelling how she never got her way.
“Tell you what… I’ll make it up to you. It should take around an hour for us to run over and pick up the tiller. Afterward we can come back here and curl up in bed for the rest of the day. I’ll even give you a massage.” Cara questioned why she was negotiating, but wasn’t yet ready to let the relationship go. Susan was only two years younger than Cara and way too old to be acting like a spoiled teenager.
Susan’s face lit up like the clouds had parted and given her a personal beam of light to shine on her face. “You’ve got a deal.”
It was Cara’s turn to roll her eyes, without Susan seeing, of course. “Let’s go then.”
Ziggie followed them to Susan’s old green Jeep Wrangler expecting to ride in his normal place in the back.
Cara patted his head then led him toward the fenced yard. After he sauntered into the yard, he sat down with a huff and threw a doleful look Cara’s direction. “Sorry, bud, not today. We won’t have room for you after we get the tiller.”
His tail dropped in dejection as he walked toward the house and pushed through the doggie door.
A moment of guilt pounded through Cara’s mind making her wonder if they should take her old farm truck instead. She shook it off and hopped in the passenger seat, determined to not feel guilty for leaving Ziggie behind. She pulled the creaky door closed and latched it. The flimsy plastic windows were brittle and yellowing with age.
Susan coaxed the old Jeep into starting and stomped the gas pedal. Gravel spit from the tires as she skidded onto the dirt road leaving a choking trail of dust behind them as they flew over its washboard surface. Cara’s teeth clacked together, and she squeezed her eyes tight, Susan’s penchant for speed always terrified her.
The ride smoothed out as the tires met pavement at the dirt road’s end. Susan pushed the pedal deeper making the tires hum and the suspension creak.
Susan let out a happy yelp when she spotted a green light on 5th and Main. It was rare to catch the light green and free of impeding traffic. Neither saw the black Corvette swerving toward the red light until it was too late.
The low profile hood of the Corvette and the excessive speed of both vehicles caused the Jeep to flip sideways on top of the car. The thunderous boom of the impact could be heard for close to a mile. The Jeep rotated one full revolution before the roll bar snagged the shattered roof of the Corvette. A macabre dance of twisted metal ensued as the stuck vehicles continued flipping through the intersection before coming to rest shy of the town’s library, released from their death embrace. All occupants were killed when the roll bar acted like a can opener and peeled back the roof of the Corvette like an old tin can. Everyone was ejected like superfluous cargo on a crashing jet.
Cara caught a brief glimpse of the drunk driver, Tom Muldoon, as the Jeep slammed into the hood of his car. A small light blinked on the dash cam, catching the sheer terror on her face, in a live action horror flick that would play over and over again upon its release.
Cara’s last thought, as the Jeep crumpled into oblivion, was of Harper and how she’d always loved her. The squeal of tires, Susan’s scream, and an explosive shattering of glass were the last things Cara heard as her eyes closed and she was enveloped into the sweet warmth of nothingness, as she flew through the cool January air.
“Amanda Shales, WKVT. Coming to you live from 5th and Main. As you can see behind me is the scene of a horrific two vehicle crash.”
The camera zoomed in on the scene. Two vehicles were crushed beyond recognition, one black and the other green with a crumpled roll bar sticking from its top. Window glass was scattered in a circular shape surrounding each car like salt crystals fallen from a margarita. The sea of glass was briefly interrupted by three white shrouds covering shapeless lumps. One had a creeping splotch of red sullying its pristine white surface.
Cops ran to and fro desperate to block the scene from lookie-loos and rubber-neckers while preserving the evidence. A cop broke off from the gaggle and approached the camera. His face was bloated and red with contained fury, his hand hovering over his service revolver.
“Get that camera out of here, now!” He screamed at the news crew.
Amanda ignored his obvious distress. “Officer, can you tell us anything about the victims? Did anyone survive? Have you identified the bodies? We’re rolling live.”
The officer’s face crumpled and tears squeezed from his eyes. He swiped them away with a dash of his ham sized hand. “Ms. Shales, I’ve seen you on TV, I know you’re pushy and rude, but this is going beyond reason even for you. Respect the privacy of these people. We’ll release a statement as soon as we can.”
In an unusual display of obedience Amanda signaled the cameraman with a hand slash across her throat in the universal signal to cut it out. The red light winked off. Jeffrey dropped the camera to his side with a relieved sigh.
“Mandy, I’m so glad you cut. I was afraid that cop would shoot me.” He whispered when he got closer to her.