Authors: Lorena Wood
“You’re tired. Now that we’ve
done this let’s go back and snuggle close and try to get some sleep.”
Whitney did manage to fall
asleep with Nick holding her. At least they had tried, and she had shared her
fears with someone. Now if she could just get this case over with, maybe she’d
stop feeling like evil was chasing her.
* * * *
Whitney couldn’t imagine
another day trying to stay busy or just hanging around the station. She had to
find somewhere she could feel safe, and feel productive at the same time. Nick
suggested she go visit his sister and the kids. That would keep her busy. He
made sure there were patrol cars watching her and the house at all times.
Lisa was thrilled to have adult
conversation in her hectic day. The oldest was in school, but the eight year
old was home recuperating from a case of the chicken pox. She fed the little
ones breakfast and sat down with Whitney for a cup of coffee.
“You’re kids are beautiful,”
Whitney said envious of the love she felt in the house.
“Thank you. They look
especially sweet when they’re sleeping,” Lisa said laughing. “But that’s how
all moms feel. They don’t leave me alone for a minute.”
As if on cue the four year old
came screaming to complain that her little brother had dumped his juice on her
cereal. Lisa went to solve the crisis and then sat back down.
“No one told me the biggest
part of having kids is being a referee. Now that Nathan is in his terrible
twos, he loves to torment Brittany. Of course she makes sure he gets it back
“Nathan is two? He’s so smart.”
She studied the pictures of family members on the wall. “He looks a lot like
“Everyone says that. He looks
more like Nick than he does like Gary or me. The other kids look more like Gary’s side of the family.”
“I bet they adore their uncle.”
“They sure do. Steven, the
eight year old has decided he’s going to be a cop too. I’m hoping he changes
his mind by then. He used to want to be a superhero, but he’s grown out of
that. So…are you planning to have children some day?” Lisa giggled at the nosy
Whitney smiled as she
considered the interesting images popping out of Lisa’s head. She was imaging
little Nick and Whitney’s running around and climbing all over Nick.
“I’ve always wanted children, but
I’m not sure that having me for a mom is such a great thing.”
“You seem like you’d make a
They discussed children and
brothers for a while and then Lisa began her chores for the day. Whitney was
happy to have something to do, so she pitched in and got busy. By late
afternoon she was sitting on the couch wondering how Lisa could do this day
“Lisa, being here today has
helped me decide something.”
“If I ever do have kids, two’s
They laughed and watched the two
year old try to climb back onto Whitney’s lap. The kids had enjoyed having
another adult around all day to give them extra attention. She had read to them
and played games with them and then helped with housework during naptime.
Lisa stood up after a five-minute
rest and announced she had to start supper.
“I’m so glad you and Nick can
stay for dinner. Nick’s told me he cares for you very much, and it’s been very
nice to meet you…but I can’t wait to see you two together. That sounds funny I
guess. But I’ve been waiting for my brother to fall head over heels in love
with someone, and I think it’s finally happened.”
“I’m pretty crazy about him
“He’s a great guy. He cares too
much sometimes, but that’s who he is. I’m making his favorite for dinner, Lasagna.
I’ll let you make the salad.”
Dinner was almost ready when
Nick pulled in the yard. His brother-in-law came home from work at the same
time and they walked in the house together.
“Yum, something smells great,”
Gary said. “Smells like you made Nick’s favorite. It’s always a pleasure to
have you for dinner Nick.” He laughed and patted his brother-in-law on the
“Thanks, even though I know
it’s the lasagna you crave and not my company.” Nick was crossing the room to
see Whitney when the kids came running into the room.
“Uncle Nick! Uncle Nick.”
“Pick up. Up Up.”
He had his hands full and swung
them both around for a ride before he put them down. Steven came into the room
looking like he was much too old for that kind of greeting.
“Hello Uncle Nick. How was work
Whitney could see the
excitement the boy was trying to hide. He couldn’t wait to hear the exploits of
his favorite uncle, and he was rarely disappointed. Nick told him about the car
thief that morning and Steven’s eyes widened.
“Did you find the man who’s
been kidnapping those boys? Did anyone else disappear today?”
Nick’s look sobered and he put
his arm around his nephew. “No new boys are missing right now, but we still
haven’t wrapped up the case. We can talk about that another time when the
little ones aren’t around.”
Steven looked thrilled that he
hadn’t been included with the little ones. He was proud that his uncle would
discuss his work in front of him. He knew he left out most of the scary stuff,
but he kept up with the news to fill in the details. There were always serious
crimes happening where Nick worked in the city.
They enjoyed a lively supper
with all four children home. Whitney liked the oldest daughter. She had taken
to Whitney as soon as they met, watching her every move. She thought Whitney
was very beautiful and exciting. Uncle Nick never brought any girlfriends to
visit before, so maybe she was the one. Lisa’s eyes were full of amusement as
she watched Nick and Whitney together.
Brittany had been trying to get
Nick’s attention all evening. She finally got to sit on his lap after dinner,
and she snuggled right in.
“Uncle Nick, do you love me?”
“Of course I do sweetie. You’re
my little angel.”
“But is Whitney your new
Nick blushed when he realized
everyone was watching him and waiting for an answer.
“She’s my friend.”
“Yes, she’s my girlfriend. But
that doesn’t change you and me. I still love you the same, and you’re still my
“Will I grow up to be pretty
“You bet. Now let’s go see that
new Barbie car you just got.”
The other adults couldn’t stop
laughing at Nick’s hasty retreat. Whitney could see that his family loved him,
and that they weren’t used to sharing him. It made Whitney long for a family of
But what if her own kids
inherited her gifts? That would be a hard life to wish on anyone. Maybe they
wouldn’t feel so compelled to get involved in the search for killers and other
criminals. Chances are they wouldn’t have abilities as strong as Whitney. It
wasn’t something that happened that often.
Whitney couldn’t help
smiling as she watched the kids and imagined herself as a mom. “I guess I might
make a good mother,” she thought to herself. “I’ll know exactly what the kids
are trying to hide from me, and exactly what trouble they’re getting into. I
might just make Mother of the Year.”
Whitney was happy and relaxed
when they drove home that night. “I’m so glad you convinced me to go visit. It
was fun. You’re family is wonderful.”
“They sure loved watching me
squirm,” he said, sounding a little embarrassed.
“I kind of enjoyed watching you
squirm too. Made it worth being the subject of interest all night. You’re kind
of cute when you’re blushing and squirming like that.”
That night Whitney slept
through the night without waking, and the children in her dreams were calling
Whitney decided it was time to
go back to Sedona. She wanted to bring her two birds back with her. Nick was
happy to accommodate them, since it meant she would be staying longer. She called
Tina and told her to take the day off. They would be there in two hours and
could take care of the rest. Tina promised to be available if she needed her in
Just before they left the phone
rang. It was Ann Marie.
“Hi Whitney. I was wondering if
you’d like to come down and visit me again. I’d like your advice on something.”
“Sorry Ann Marie. I was just
heading out the door. I’m going up to Sedona for the day to get some things. Can
I help you now?”
“I was just wondering…my lawyer
is trying to get me out on bail. I want to get out of here…but what if
something happens again and they blame me again. Maybe I should just stay here
a little longer. I know that sounds stupid. I just feel scared.”
“What does your lawyer say
“He says I’m stupid to even
think of staying here. I was hoping I could stay with someone that the police
would trust and then I can’t be blamed for the next one. I was wondering if you
had any ideas.”
“Do you have any friends that
can help you out? I’m not sure if that would work, but it’s worth a try. I’ll
talk to Nick see what he thinks. I should be able to visit you tomorrow.”
“Thanks Whitney. You’re an
The car ride to Whitney’s house
gave them time to discuss Anne Marie’s phone call. They both thought she was probably
trying to get Whitney to be her witness, but that wasn’t going to happen.
“I wish I could help,” Whitney
said fidgeting. “I just don’t think she did it.”
Nick rubbed his neck and tried
to release some tension. “I think I will need a professional message when this
is over.” He absently patted his pocket looking for the cigarettes that weren’t
Whitney shook her head. “You
don’t need those nasty things. If you get stressed, let me know and I can
Nick saw the seductive smile on
Whitney’s mouth, and laughed. The way she kept her sense of humor through all
the sadness amazed him. He had never known how sexy a sense of humor could be.
They had driven her rental
truck so they could bring back the birdcages. Nick was having so much fun
driving a truck for a change that he was considering buying one for himself. The
mustang had been his baby for quite a while, but maybe it was time for a
change. It seemed like everything else in his life was changing.
The birds were as happy to see
Whitney as she was to see them. Nick made an effort to be friendly to them, but
the Macaw was just too big. After Whitney spent some time settling them down,
she brought Dundee over to Nick.
“He really loves to cuddle. Let
me set him on your lap and show you how to scratch him.”
Nick was surprised at how soft
the bird felt under his wings. The bird seemed to love getting scratched on his
head and on his sides. He made little cooing sounds that helped Nick to relax
“I can see why you like them. It’s
kind of relaxing to sit here like this. As long as he doesn’t decide I’m doing
it wrong and come up for a bite.”
“He doesn’t bite,” she paused.
“Well, not often,” she said and laughed at his look of fear. “Don’t worry, he
They spent the afternoon
getting the bird supplies ready and trying to relax. Whitney felt safe here. Whatever
had been keeping her awake at night was miles away. She looked forward to a
restful night in her own bed.
Nick had other thoughts. Whitney
looked relaxed and happy for a change and he planned to make the most of it. By
the time they fell asleep, they had both worked off plenty of stress.
Whitney’s dreams started out
peaceful and happy. She was riding a horse and Nick was beside her. The birds
flew in circles around them as they galloped over the fields. Sometime during
the night her dreams turned to the evil that had been stalking her in the
valley. She was in a dark, cold room all alone. There were no doors or windows,
and something was trying to get inside. She called for Nick but she couldn’t
feel him. Her birds flew around the room squawking and shrieking. They knew
there was danger outside. Whitney tried to calm them, but they just kept
screaming louder and louder.
“Whitney, wake up!”
Whitney opened her eyes to see
Nick hovering over her.
“Whitney, are you okay?”
“I was dreaming.”
“You’ve been tossing and
turning. Maybe the birds sensed it. They started screaming. It sounds like
you’d better check on them. Do they ever scream like that for no reason?”
Whitney could hear them
screaming, and she could feel something else. He was here. It felt like the
same thing that had been haunting her at night in the valley.
“Nick, something’s wrong. They
don’t do that. And…I feel something.”
Nick jumped up and threw on his
pants. He grabbed his gun and told Whitney to stay in the bedroom. Whitney
listened as he quietly snuck down the hall. She could hear Dundee screeching. Something
was in the house.
She shivered as she felt the
dark energy searching for her. She could almost hear it calling her name. Someone
was in the house, and he wanted her. What if he surprised Nick and shot him
again? Whitney couldn’t wait any longer. As quietly as she could she moved
toward the door. The sound of glass smashing and Nick yelling spurred her on.
Nick was going out the front
door. “Stay here. Call 911. I’m going after him.” Whitney found the phone and
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Someone broke into my house. Nick…detective
Naylor is outside trying to catch him. Please send someone quick.”
Whitney gave her the address
and hung up the phone. She was standing naked in the living room, shaking from
fear. She knew they police would be coming, but she couldn’t get herself to go
get some clothes. She had to check her birds.
The bird room was quiet now. She
turned on the light and saw that things had been thrown and smashed into the
windows. Dundee was hanging from a light on the ceiling. She looked down and
saw Charlie on the floor. His neck was twisted and he wasn’t breathing. She
picked him up, but his body was too broken to be alive. She laid him carefully
on a pillow and called to Dundee.