no. 7, Alternate
V. P. Trick
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Forget writing, book tours, boyfriends, townhouses, or my attempts at a normal life. After hearing Martin’s message, I have to go home. Home? It has been fifteen years since I left the country and yet, as soon as I cross the border, I feel the melancholy I’ve run away from all those years returned. Thankfully, I’m not going back to the megalopolis of my youth but to a smaller town in the South-East. At least, I won’t have to face ghosts from my past. Well, except for Martin and Cécile, of course. One dead, one missing.
Freak work accident my ass. What are the odds of Martin falling to his death the same week he had called me?
I don’t have a clue why my infuriating ex chose to drop by, but I know Christopher isn’t going to be easy to get rid off. He never is, especially when he smells trouble. Hey, Big guy, you have absolutely no jurisdiction in this town, even less in my life.
What the f**k is she going here? Another country, a new job, at a plastic factory of all places, and some shack lost in the boondocks. The damn woman is crazy. Too bad I’m just as crazy. Decades in the police, a chief detective position, two houses, an adopted son, are not enough to stop me from going after the love of my life. I don’t know who the f**k Martin is, but she’s not running to him without me in tow. Talk to me, Angel.
I’ve never called Christopher an a*****e, but I’m about to now. “What the heck are you doing here?” My teeth are clenched so tight, I barely get the words out, but the a-hole hears me just fine.
“I got a job. Lift truck driver. The fishing is s**t in this weather. I’m waiting for rain.”
I turn on my heels. Do I look like a stupite, idiote imbécile?
“What are you doing?” he asks less than a minute later, as I’m taking out my anger on a silly waterline. The damn purge valve won’t open. I was wrestling with it while I caught Christopher around the corner of my machine. I’m back to wrestling with it, and despite my fury, the damn thing is not intimidated. Neither is the grinning cop next to me. “Want help with that, Pussycat?”
“Hey, l’anglais,” Michel, one of my lovely mechanic colleagues, yells from the front of the press. “They’re looking for you in the storage room.”
The cop-driver-a-hole next to me grins at me before replying unperturbed, “Give me a couple of minutes. Your guy here asked my help with some s**t.” Did he just refer to me as a guy? He’s such an ass.
“Keep the attitude, Officer MacLaren,” I whisper from my hiding point behind the machine, “and they’ll fire your ass before the end of the day.” What am I saying? I don’t give a damn if HR dweeb fires Christopher. Quite the opposite.
The ex-cop of my life hunkers down next to me. “Need help with that lever?”
I put all my weight on the blasted thing. It doesn’t rotate by a hair. That sure showed him. “You could have warned me!” I snap. Between the valve and Christopher, I’m not certain I’ll survive the work shift before losing it.
“Warned you how?”
“Oh, I don’t know. You could have left a message or something!” I grumble without looking at him. That cursed valve should have split and cracked open by now the way I’m looking daggers at it.
“Leaving messages is your thing, Angel of mine.”
I jump back as if he has just slapped me. “Do. Not. Call. Me. Angel.” So I’m a little edgy.
His eyes have narrowed into thin slits. “What the f**k’s going on here, Patricia? What are you trying to prove?”
“I’m not trying to prove anything. I just thought…” What? That I could save Martin? Too late for that. Save Cécile? Save myself? “I’m working here, Big guy. Some of us do work for a living, you know.”
“You write. The rest is just for show. Pretending you’re normal.”
“I think by now we both know I’ll never be normal. What’s your excuse, Christopher?”