The next day I am curled up in the chair beside the hospital bed and staring out the window. My words have been few since Avery made me describe, in detail, what happened. Tears would come and go but everything wasn’t real to me yet, it couldn’t be.
A soft knock sounds the room and I look to my left to see Officer Holland walk in carrying a chair. “Hey.” He says.
I acknowledge him for a couple seconds before turning my attention back to the window.
“I wasn’t sure if your parents were still here so I brought an extra chair.” He says setting the chair beside me and sitting in it.
“They went home to shower and rest for a little bit.” I offer.
“Oh. Are you ok with that?” He asks.
I shrug, the truth was that I was enjoying my alone time. They could be a little on the smothering side.
“I like your name.” He says.
I move my eyes to his, soft clear eyes with a blue-green hue, comforting eyes, they match his smile.
When I don’t say anything he adds, “My name is Finn, you can call me that.”
I nod again and return my eyes to the window.
“I’m sorry about yesterday. Avery, isn’t the best with people.”
Silence passes us.
“I’m training to be a detective which is why I’ve been assigned your case. I have a few more questions for you. Are you up for that?” He says softly, kindly, and the truth was that I didn’t mind. There was something about him that made me feel at ease. Safe.
“Can I ask you questions too?” I answer, meeting his gaze.
“If that helps you, of course.” His mouth is closed now but somehow he still carries a soft caring expression. Juliet would quote Tyra Banks and say he was smizing.
“You seem a little young to be training for detective.” I say even though it technically isn’t a question.
“I’m twenty-six. Which is a little young but I have had a lot of training.” He says.
“What training?” It feels nice to talk about anything other then a couple nights ago.
“Well, I graduated high school when I was sixteen, then double majored in psychology and sociology. By the time I was twenty I was already working on my masters degree in criminal justice. After that I joined the police academy and have been working towards detective ever since.” He cocked his head, sucked in his lower lip, and leaned forward on his elbows.
“Impressive.” I say.
“It is, isn’t it?”
I laugh and when I look at him, I can see he meant it as a joke and not in a egotistical way. I think I was more impressed that he was able to make me laugh.
“How did you graduate at sixteen?” I ask.
“I was homeschooled, worked on my parents’ farm and wanted to finish early.”
“And colleges accepted you that young?”
“I did community college for the first two years and then transferred after I turned eighteen.”
“Where did you go to college?”
“I went to The U. I was one of those tools that ran up and down The M everyday.” He lifts on side of his mouth and I swear his eyes twinkle a little. “What about you? Where are you going to go to school?” He asks.
“The U.” I say, trusting him more and more. Talking to him is easy, he seems to be good at his job. “I am one of those tools who runs up and down The M on a daily basis.” I add, my first attempt at humor in days, somehow it feels wrong. The University of Montana is a medium sized college, home of the Montana Grizzlies and the famous M hiking trail. While the trail is less than a mile long, the hike can be quite strenuous, depending on how quickly you cover this distance, so those who run it tend to be in great shape.
“You run?” He asks.
“Yeah…Juliet and are captains of the track team this year…” My voice trailed off because just like that the pain, the loss, is back.
The awful horrible truth.
Finn cleared his throat sensing my sudden, understandable, mood shift. “You said that she was drunk that night, is that normal behavior for her?”
I was lining my teeth with my forefinger and my thumb, a nervous habit, “No, she doesn’t…didn’t…drink very much, or at all. Neither of us did actually. She wasn’t a big fan of the taste and I don’t like to loose control.”
Finn leaned back in his chair and put his ankle on his knee, before tapping on the arm of the chair with his finger tips. “If she wasn’t a big drinker, then why was she drinking that night?”
My thumb nail was flicking my front teeth and I was back to staring out the window, guilt etched through my being like food poisoning. “Her boyfriend, of three years, broke up with her.” My voice is distant, cold, lost.
“Why did he break up with her?” Finn asks, the tapping of his fingers stops but the foot resting on his knee begin to shake.
I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t. A week ago I worried about loosing my friendship with Juliet, the thought actually loosing her never even crossed my mind. I moved my fingers out of my mouth and wiped away the tears that were slipping out of my ducts.
“How long have you been seeing her boyfriend behind her back?” He asks. Yes, he was way too good at his job.
“It wasn’t like that.” I say a little snappy, fingers back in my mouth.
Finn reaches forward, pats my knee, and rubs a small circle before saying, “That was a poor choice of words. Can you tell me how you and Juliet’s boyfriend starting developing feelings toward each other?” He choose his words carefully, practiced, and calm.
I met his eyes again, soft eyes that radiated loyalty, eyes held high and round on an ever-trusting face. “It’s a long story and to be honest I am not sure it matters. Why do you need to know?”
He sighs, not out of frustration, but something else. Finn removes his hand from my knee and I shiver. His touch left me warm and now I felt freezer-burnt. He sucks in his bottom lip, nibbles it slightly, and then lets it free again. “We have reason to believe that the attack on you and Juliet wasn’t random, but planned.” He says.
I freeze and all I can hear is my hearts drum solo. “What do you mean?” My voice is a whisper.
“It seems too much of a coincidence that you two were found on the side of the freeway in the middle of the storm. So we checked out your car and it had been tampered with. If you hadn’t pulled over, Lennox, your car would have ran out off gas. Either way you would have had to stop on the side of the road. Whoever did this to you and Juliet has been following you for awhile.” He says with a serious, authoritative tone.
My breath quickens, then shallows, only to quicken again. I’m trying to grasp what he is saying but I am unable too. Planned?
Finn leans forward and pulls my hand out of my mouth and squeezes it between his hands, “We are going to find this guy, ok?”
I nod and my shoulders start to shake.
“Lennox, look at me.” It was the first time Finn said something in a demanding way.
I lift my head up because I had been staring down at my lap.
“I’ve been assigned to you, I’m here to help protect you. I am going to do everything in my power to make you feel safe again, ok? The more I know about your personal life, about Juliet’s life, the easier it will be for us to catch him. Every small detail matters. Some things will end up being irreverent while others will give me clues on who this guy might be. Ok?” His voice is butter soft and full of heart.
“Ok.” I manage.
Finn squeezes my hands one final time before leaning back in his chair again. “So, tell me about Juliet’s boyfriend.” He says giving me a slight nod.
“It’s a long story.” I set my eyes on his.
“Take your time.” Finn says lifting one side of his face in a tight, quick, half-smile.