- Hunted: Prologue
- HUNTED: Chapter One
- HUNTED: Chapter Two
- HUNTED: Chapter Three
- HUNTED: Chapter Four
- HUNTED: Chapter Five
- HUNTED: Chapter Six
- HUNTED: Chapter Seve
*WARNING - STRONG LANGUAGE AND MILD SEXUAL CONTENT*
Officer Finn Holland:
Pain shoots through my right leg and I can’t help but wince. Sitting down on my living room floor I begin stretching my leg muscles out. Going six miles past my usual ten mile marker was too far and now my leg was paying the price. I’ve questioned all of the victims friends and dug into both the vic’s and Lennox’s past without discovering anything substantial.
The GPS tracker in Ms. Rose’s car was a useless lead. The serial number lead us to a store in Lewiston, Idaho, that recently reported a break in, and thus the tracker was part of the robbery. Fortunately the thief was caught and reprimanded, unfortunately the robber was a low life meth addict looking for money. Which meant he was too high to remember who he sold the tracker too. Even worse? The information the GPS had gathered was lost somewhere is cyberspace. Wherever the perp was routing the information did a fantastic job of hiding it. Our technician is still trying to weave through the cyber walls.
The perp was smart, which only made me more confident that he knew what he was doing the night he murdered Juliet. Everything in me told me this attack was a deliberate plot to emotionally destroy Lennox. Avery didn’t believe me though. She kept telling me that my thoughts were “rookie trouble.” She claimed I was looking for something that wasn’t there. Making the case into something bigger than it needed to be. I wasn’t convinced, to me the attack was made to look random to throw us off, rather then the well thought out plot it was.
A knock at the door snaps me out of my thoughts and I stand up to answer it. I barely get the door open before Zee barrels inside.
“Zee? What are you doing here?” My voice sounded harsh.
She rolls her eyes, “Let’s not pretend you don’t want me here.”
I suck in a breath before wordlessly closing the door behind me.
“You look good.” She states while her eyes roam over my body. “Isn’t it a little cold to be shirtless?”
I shrug, “I was out for my run.” I watch her intently as she removes her long green coat and scarf, laying them on the back of my couch. She is wearing tight black pants and a loose purple sweater. It’s obvious by the way my eyes searched her body that I’ve missed her. Even though it had only been sixteen days since the last time she stopped by. She was my addition, my fall from grace.
Zee, as usual, noticed where my eyes had been and stepped closer to me, putting her polished hands on my chest. “It’s been awhile.” Her voice was low and salty, in a way that brought me to my knees.
“What are you doing here?” I repeated, stepping away from her.
“I miss you.” She says, a dark bewitchment.
Ignoring her, I make my way into the kitchen and pull a blue sports drink out the fridge taking a large drink. Damn her for showing up here, again.
Zee follows, wrapping her arms around me, pressing her large breasts against my back and damnit if my dick doesn’t betray me. Her cinnamon sent enveloping me, crushing me.
My eyes close and I let out a slow sigh before turning around to look into moonbeam, kill-me-every-time, eyes. I know what she wants and I would be lying if I said I didn’t want it too.
She lifts her arms and wraps them around my neck, her manicured nails wisp at my hairline. She must notice that she is close to getting what she wants because she stretches out her long legs to trail kisses on my jaw line. I stand there, unable to pull away, and when she presses her whole body against me I loose it. My right arm wraps around her tightly and my lips crash into hers. I quickly move her so her back is against the counter by my fridge. I set my sports drink down and lift her so that she is sitting on the counter. Her legs immediately wrap around me. My hands slip under her sweater and I quickly yank it over her head. My lips find hers again and when she sucks my tongue I let out a groan. Using my left hand I unbutton her jeans and slide the zipper down, which makes her moan.
The next ten minutes is a crazed hustle to my bed room, which is just off the kitchen, and removing the rest of our clothes. I know I shouldn’t be doing this but damn if I don’t want the distraction.
When we are done I fall onto the bed breathing hard. It doesn’t take long for her to sit up and start searching for her clothes. I don’t bother watching her. I simply lie there, hating myself.
“Thanks.” Zee says, now fully clothed standing in front of the bed.
I sit up on my elbows and look at her, “Don’t come back.”
She rolls her eyes, “You know you don’t mean that.” Seconds later I hear the front door close behind her.
I scrub my hands over my face and walk to the dresser, which is kitty corner to my bed. Resting on top of the dresser is a five by seven framed photo. I am dressed to the nines in an all black suit, I bought for the occasion, smiling like a fool holding her in my arms. I swallow hard trying not to hurt as much as I do. Zee is wearing a handmade white dress and looking up at me with such joy.
I throw the picture across the room and the glass shatters. Shuffling to the kitchen I trade my sports drink for a beer.
It’s been three weeks since the night Juliet died. Three weeks since I last felt the beat of my heart and three weeks since I’ve slept through the night. Officer Holland…Finn…has checked on me a few times but no new information has been discovered. Which of course doesn’t help the sleepless nights.
The mirror in the funeral home bathroom paints the picture of an even paler me, which I didn’t think was possible. I have black circles around my eyes and I am gaunt. Between all the surgeries and my melancholy, food has been the last thing on my mind.
I hate wearing black because it makes me look goth or like I belong in the Twilight franchise. The simple fact is, nearly albino people should not wear black. My dress is a simple lace a-line, that my mother purchased just for this occasion, knowing I didn’t own a stitch of black clothing. I wonder how Juliet would feel about me wearing black right now. She always told me to wear green, purple, or blue. I told my mom as much but she said it was immensely rude to wear bright colors at a funeral.
I reach inside my purse and dig around until I find Juliet’s mauve colored lipstick. Much to my mother’s dismay — I usually don’t entertain the idea of makeup, but today — today I needed Juliet.
I don’t wear makeup for a few reasons, one being that it is nearly impossible to find foundation for skin as pale as mine is and two, why would I enhance my already dark eyes and lips? Wouldn’t that make me look even more alien?
I pop the cap off of the lipstick and watch as the color twirls up to greet me. Closing my eyes I allow myself to think of her.
“Hold this for me.” Juliet demanded four weeks ago while we were at the movies.
“J… you really need to start carrying a purse or pants with pockets.” I must’ve said that for the millionth time. Juliet rolled her eyes as I grabbed her lipstick and popped it in my purse.
I sigh— audibly because thinking about her causes an ache in my chest so wide I nearly fall apart with every memory. Lord knows, how much of Juliet’s things I must have in my room from all the times she asked me to hold something for her only for us to forget about it later. Now, she’s gone and the stupid little things are all I have left of her.
My stomach presses into the bathroom counter as I spread the lipstick across my too-red lips. Once applied I step back and examine my work. I am no pro at applying lipstick but it looked good enough.
The door slides open and I see Jax. I watch as he closes and locks the door behind him. “It’s about to start.” He says.
I can only stare at him because this is the first time I have seen him since the New Year’s Party. “Cory and Waylon visited me in the hospital.” I blurt.
Jax is quiet as he walks closer to me and leans against the counter. “I know. I’m an asshole.” He rubs his hand through his disheveled hair and I notice how worn-down he looks. Almost as bad as me. We were two near-dead bodies occupying a women’s restroom at funeral home.
How did we get here?
How is this our lives?
“Why?” I ask leaning against the counter beside him. “I wanted to see you.” My voice is a lame whisper but I didn’t add, I needed to see you, as much as I wanted to.
“I don’t know how to be around you Lenny Bee. Fuck —” Jax rubs his hands over his face, “What I did? To you? To Jules? Was beyond fucked up. I was such an asshole. If I hadn’t — if I hadn’t — shit” He was biting his lower lip, his eyes were shattered glass, “she would still be here.” His voice breaks before he mumbles out… “She’d still fucking be here.”
“Jax, you can’t blame yourself. What happened — it isn’t your fault.” My voice is a far-away whisper.
Jax scoffs, “It’s simple. I cheated on her, with you, broke up with her, on New Years, for you — her best friend — You guys left because of it and then the most fucked up shit happened, some really fucked up shit, LB. If I was more of a man. Respected her and you — none of this would have happened.”
My fingers find his from were he leans on the counter beside me, “No. The cops told me that there was a GPS tracker in my car and that my gas tank was filled with water. This was planned, no matter when we left, it would have happened. There is nothing either of us could have done to stop him.” My words are strong but my voice is the exact opposite.
We are quiet for a long moment as Jax contemplates my words. Finally he says, “You are wearing her lipstick.”
“Yeah… something about it felt right.”
Jax nods and we fall into silence again.
“I still think about you. Way more then I should — especially now.” Jax says squeezing my fingers.
“I know, I do too, but I’m not ready to go there yet.” I answer.
“Me neither.” He says honestly.
I move to stand in front of him and slowly I wrap my arms around him. When he wraps his arms around me in return, I give him a gentle squeeze and Jax noticeably winces. I step back, my face etches with concern, “What was that? Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He lies and I know this because when I squeeze him again his face scrunches up in pain.
“You are not fine. What happened?”
“It’s nothing LB, promise.”
“Jaxon.” I say in a scold.
Jax signs and shakes his head, “I’ve been really messed up lately. Feeling guilty about everything and missing her, you know. Well Cory and Waylon noticed that I was beating myself up, so I told them everything. I told them how I kissed you last summer, fell for you this fall, and broke up with Juliet the night she died. Naturally they both agreed I was an asshole but Waylon was extra pissed. He picked me up and threw me down, breaking my moms wooden coffee table. Cory had to pull him off of me.”
My eyebrows raise, “What?” I say as I reach for the hem of the grey polo Juliet bought him, last Christmas. I pull his shirt up and see that the entire left side of his ribcage is one massive purple bruise. “Holy… why would he do that?”
Jax pulls his shirt down and undoes his pants so he can re-tuck it in. “You know he still cares about you right?”
“Yeah, sure.” I almost laugh.
“Seriously LB, he never stopped having feelings for you.”
“Hmm…well, patience is a virtue and he obviously had none.”
“He is a guy.”
“Would you have ended things with Juliet if she didn’t want to sleep with you?”
“Exactly. Waylon couldn’t have cared about me that much. Besides it wasn’t like he was hiding the amount of girls he fooled around with from me.”
“True.” Jax says with a far off look in his eye and without warning he lets out a laugh.
“What?” I ask confused.
“Sorry, I was remembering those girls Cory and Waylon picked up at The Town Pump last summer. You remember that right?”
How could I forget? It was the night before Jax kissed me for the first time. We were sitting in the bed of Cory’s truck getting brain freeze off of cheap slurpie’s when these two girls strode across the parking lot in cut-off’s and bikini tops. They kept making eyes at Cory and Waylon. Obviously Cory and Waylon weren’t about to let an opportunity slip away from them so they jumped off the truck to greet them but Cory fumbled on the tailgate and did a belly-flop onto the pavement. He almost cracked a rib that night and the girls were all about nursing him back to health.
My lips curl into a light smile, “That was so funny. Cory milked that for all it was worth.”
“I know we sat there and laughed at them the whole time, well until we noticed that creeper.” Jax said lost in memory.
“The creeper?” I asked confused.
“Oh come on, you remember? That old guy bundled up in a black coat and fingerless gloves even though it was July? He was smoking that cigar staring at you. I told him to fuck-off — remember?” Jax shivered, “He took a couple steps toward us before bending down to put his cigar out? It’s hard to forget something like that, the mother-fucker didn’t even have finger nails.”
I freeze as it all comes back to me in violent colorful images. That man, his cold dead eyes as they stared at me. Those hands and the night my world came crashing down. Jax is saying something but I am too numb to understand what he is saying. That was last summer…
Juliet was in Costa Rica so the murder couldn’t have been about her.
My eyes are blinking rapidly as realization dawns on me that this was never about her. It has always been about me.
Was that the first time he saw me?
Or had he already been following me at that point?
My knees lock and everything goes cold.