Authors: JC Coulton
~ A Romantic Suspense Thriller ~
Seize Me Romance Series
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
SEIZED PART 6
First edition. June, 2015.
Copyright © 2015 JC Coulton.
Written by JC Coulton.
All rights reserved.
This series is dedicated to the men in blue, and to the one that got away...
~To stay alive she needs to learn to let go.~
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Seized Part 6
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What would you do to have a second chance with the one that got away?
I’m distracted. Carrie’s still gone. There’s very little I can manage to focus on, but when George asks me how a man knows when he’s falling in love, I almost drop the tray of sausage rolls I’m taking out of the oven. I have to tell him I’ll think about it and we can talk when I’m done cooking. He nods and turns back to his video game. I look at the back of George’s head as he plays. I have no idea what to say.
I wonder what brought this up. It’s probably his crush on the girl at school. I wish he had asked Brenda this question; she’d have an amazing answer. No doubt, it would be one she prepared from the shelf she has on her bookcase dedicated to parenting.
My little guy has something on his mind and I need to step up and help. To be honest, love is the last thing I should be giving advice on. I know nothing about love, other than the irrefutable evidence it makes men do stupid things. Men like me act without thinking because of love, and we believe things that are just not realistic.
I did both—first with Neon, and then with Carrie. I wish I could take back my stupid decision to believe Neon back then. I wish that decision didn’t affect Carrie the way it did. And I wish logic had prevailed, but it didn’t. At least I can improve from this point forward. I need a chance; one tiny shot at saving the woman I love.
I get a bit of inspiration—it’s time to give George the straight goods.
“George,” I call out, “Pause that game for a second.” The kid is obedient. He turns to face me with his usual wide, unassuming eyes. “You know you’re in love when you think about her all the time, and when it’s more important for her to feel happy than it is for you.”
He seems to perk up, and I continue with a serious expression on my face, as if teaching an important lesson. “Here are a few examples of what you might do when you really care about a girl. First, you want to buy her cherry ice cream because it’s her favorite, even though you don’t really like it.” He nods seriously and seems to consider the gravity of this sacrifice.
“Second, if she falls, you help her up. And you don’t care that has mud on her dress. You still think she looks pretty. And you get her a towel to help clean it off if she wants one.”
He smiles, and I see he’s getting it. Or at least I hope what I’m saying is beginning to sink in. “Third, when other boys try and hold her hand in gym class, you’ll want to push them over. But you won’t, because you don’t fight if you don’t have to.”
The kid looks thoughtfully at me. I get the feeling he’s assessing whether his feelings are real or not. I want to say something more, but the phone rings. I turn off the oven and answer.
“Anderson. Jacob here.” Her stern tone spells trouble.
“Hi Lieutenant. Good to hear from you. What can I do for you?”
“Detective I’m calling to advise you that Internal Affairs is proceeding with their investigation into your conduct on the Lee cases.” She sounds as though she’s reading from a script. “As you know. Internal Affairs focus on the conduct and behavior of police officers during periods of active duty. I’m calling to inform you of their request for you to attend an interview tomorrow. It’s at three in the afternoon. Be sure you’re on time when you come to the station.”
I pause for a second. This is probably as hard for her as it is for me. She took a risk and gave me a chance before. Now I’ve messed it all up.
“Thanks for letting me know, Lieutenant. I’ll be there.”
“Great. Thank you for your co-operation, Detective. I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.” Her tone of voice is more high-pitched at the end of her sentence; it’s her way of asking questions without actually asking them.
I’m worried, but I know I’m innocent. I try to give her some reassurance of that. “I’m confident the case will be closed without charges, Lieutenant. I’ve not done anything wrong, so eventually I’ll be cleared.”
Somehow, she reads more into my statement than I intended. “I’m not talking about drinking Blake,” she says. “I’m referring to whatever you’ve been up to since I sent you home. Have you kept in line?”
“I’ve kept busy with child care, working out, and right now I’m making pastries.” I leave out the part about approaching Jessup. “I’ve been taking care of my nephew lately. Brenda has been busy with work, and it’s been good to spend the extra time with him.”
“So you haven’t been out harassing anyone over the Lee case? Because I explicitly told you to stay away from him, and anyone at the precinct who can get you access.”
I surmise she’s asking about Ryan. I’ve seen her use this technique in interviews before. She wants me to think she knows more than she does, and for Ryan’s sake, I don’t buy into it. The thing is, her question is direct. I’m not going to lie to her, so I don’t completely avoid the question.
“There’s nothing to worry about, boss,” I tell her, hoping the finality in my tone is enough to shut her down.
Not being trusted makes me angry. Probably because she’s completely right. I have been up to no good. Both enlisting Ryan to be my eyes at the station, and following Jessup around would be disobeying her orders. Thankfully, the call-waiting tone beeps in my ear.
“I’m sorry for cutting this short, Lieutenant,” I tell her. “There’s someone on the other line. It’s probably my sister. I’ll be at the IA interview tomorrow for sure. Thanks for the call.”
“Okay, Anderson. Just remember you have the option to attend with your union rep. In your case, I’d strongly recommend it.”
“Thanks. I will. Enjoy your evening,” I say.
I make a mental note to get in touch with the union rep later. I have his contact details somewhere. I answer the incoming call, hopeful I didn’t take too long to switch calls. The silence on the other end of the line is broken by Ryan’s familiar voice. I listen carefully before asking a couple of short questions. Who knows what this information is going to yield. As far as I’m concerned, it all helps. I need as much information as I can get my hands on. Saving Carrie James without ending my career is the ultimate goal.
I hang up, and gaze at the wall as I think it through. The game just changed, and I think I’m ready to play. As soon as Brenda comes home. For now, feeding George is the priority. I notice some grunts of frustration coming from over by the couch. He’s frustrated—probably about some game he’s losing on Xbox. The kid needs more fuel too. I load up a plate and call him over.
“Eat up, buddy. Take a break from your game.”
“Okay, Blake,” he answers, pausing whatever he’s playing and walking over to me.
“Want to talk about it?”
“Nah. I’m fine, Blake,” George says, and I ruffle his hair as he begins to eat.
“I’ll be right here, doing some work on the computer and my phone if you need anything.”
I settle down at the bench and pull out my phone. Just as I thought, a quick search brings up the union rep’s contact details. I fire off a request for him to attend my meeting with IA tomorrow. It’s short notice, but what choice do I have? Normally the Union reps need a week’s notice to make meetings like this. IA must have some rush mandate for my case.
I’m not looking forward to it. The last time I met with them was over the Neon scandal. She or someone involved with her, made our connection public and it all went wrong. Coming to think of it, that woman has been getting me in trouble from the moment we met. It’s another reason I’m glad I ended the toxic dynamic. That last Internal Affairs experience was torture. They were intentionally intrusive, and treated me like I was no different from a common criminal. I felt like a degenerate on the defense from start to finish. I remember sitting there is a series of interviews, gritting my teeth. The questions they asked were so personal in nature. I resented having to share them, but the only option was to cooperate.
There was no love lost when I was cleared that time. And I assumed my association with Neon would have been common knowledge after that point. This new case seems like an intentional attack. I’m surprised I’m being called in again—with virtually no notice. There’s something going on, and I’d like to find out who’s really behind the last-minute scheduling.
Christ! I feel pissed. I worked so hard to change my life. It feels cruel to be facing this again. I’ve never used my sobriety or recovery as a crutch, but having to deal with it makes adversity like my suspension feel like I’ve been dealt more than I can bear. They never said life was going to be easy, but surely a guy deserves a break sometimes? I have to remember not to lose my cool. I’m sure I’ll be fine. In the meantime, I need to work out all this excess energy.
The gym is where I need to be. Sweating profusely, building muscle, and hitting a punching bag as hard as possible. That way by tomorrow, I’ll have released all that pent-up anger and frustration. Brenda walks in about five minutes after my last call, so I tell her I have to run and will catch up with her later. I run upstairs to grab my gym gear and head out.
Since all this spare time came my way, I’ve been training at one of the local gyms. It’s not the expensive, cookie-cutter health club franchise most people in the area go to. And the equipment is old compared to what I used at the station. The thing is, I just like the place. It’s got zero frills, just like me. All I want in a gym is a place I can go and get my body moving.
I drive faster than I should. I just want to get over there. I even play my pre workout playlist. It’s a combination of oldies and anthems from my teens. They do the trick of putting me in the right head space so I can push my body. I pull into the parking garage close to the gym. I’m pumped and ready to go. I take a long drink of my water bottle before stalking in like I own the place. It’s pretty barren inside. A few regulars nod at me. I like this place.
I warm up and start working my chest. I do a variety of lifts and pull-ups in longer sets. Before long I’m breathing and sweating hard. The music pumps in my earphones, giving me that extra charge as I work out. Much of the worry and anxiety about the case, Carrie and my suspension begin to calm in my mind as I work out. My muscles wear down, and I force myself to continue. The sweet exhaustion that follows is one of the best ways to I make all of it go away.
I move on to my lower body routine. I begin with a series of a leg presses at a weight that would have killed me a few years back. Being a regular has made my body stronger than ever. My muscles pop and burn like a machine. I start to reach my limits when I feel a tap on my shoulder. The worried-looking gym attendant is standing behind me. He’s holding a bottle of water and signaling for me to remove my ear buds.
“Just checking to see if you’re okay there. Don’t want anyone getting hurt round here.”
I’m confused. I don’t figure out what he’s going on about until I catch sight of myself in the mirror. I’m nearly purple with exhaustion. There’s a pool of sweat dripping off the equipment I’ve been using, and my face is locked in a grimace of pain.
Shit! I take a breath and realize I’ve been going too hard. I’m going have a heart attack if I don’t take it easy. I look down in frustration. I just want to be numb. As the attendant walks away I stand there chugging the water and looking myself directly in the eye in the mirror. Is this really the man I want to be?
I finish up my workout, and as I’ve been doing every evening, I drive to New Jersey and look for Carrie. I start at the street where Cooper and I fought, and I systematically search each street, treating the area as a grid so I don’t miss anything. I hit the alleys even. So far, nothing.