Disclaimer: Early Edition doesn't belong to me, but I loved the show so much that when it was canceled, I had to do something to appease my aching heart. I missed Gary so much that I thought, hey, I'll write my own episode, that way I can interact with him in my own way. ;-)
The characters of EE belong to Tristar Pictures. The other characters in this story belong to me. :-) This is my very first full length fan fic, and although there are 20 chapters to this story, I think they are a lot of fun. I know that I had fun writing them. Please email me to let me know how you liked April's Reign.
April Chandler, beautiful, mysterious and charming. With the face of an angel, and a knockout smile, men are just dying to meet her. Literally DYING! Gary too has been smitten by her charms.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Showers on and off today, with lows in the mid-twenties, highs in the upper thirties! We'll have more news weather for you on the hour, but first, we want to take you down to our newsroom for more on that special news bulletin....Matt?!"
"Thank you Katie! Another bod-!"
Gary Hobson had just begun shaving when the clock radio sounded for the second time that morning, resonating loudly throughout his small apartment. His face was still covered in shaving cream when he rushed out of the bathroom, and with foam covered fingers he groped clumsily for the OFF button, this time shutting the radio down completely. Immediately the loft was silent.
"Meow" Cat purred softly, and Gary turned around to see him curled up comfortably at the foot of his bed. The Chicago Sun-Times which had been folded neatly to the Metro section was laying beside him. Nothing of importance seemed to be going on with the paper when Gary checked it earlier that morning and he thought wistfully that if the paper continued to cooperate, he might be able to take in a movie.
Sighing, Gary moved back around the foot of his bed towards the bathroom to finish shaving. He paused briefly, to grab a clean towel from the laundry basket near the closet and froze, dead in his tracks. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed that the front page of the paper was different. An article that wasn't there before, had formed. Wiping his hands on the towel, Gary picked up the paper to take a closer look.
'Another Body Found' the headline blared silently and Gary's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Woa! Where'd this come from?" he murmured. A wave of disappointment washed over him, and he plopped down on the foot of his bed to stare at the article.
Every since he had been framed in the Scanlon case, Gary felt uneasy dealing with murder cases. It was always risky. Unfortunately, he had found out the hard way and now had a greater respect for the words 'be careful', something Marisa would sometimes call out to him as he hurried out the door on a save. He didn't like dealing with murder cases. He didn't like dealing with murder cases at all!
A gentle knock at the door broke through his thoughts, and Gary looked up from the paper. Marisa, he thought wiping the shaving cream from his face with the towel.
He knew that Marissa sometimes stop by the loft early to brief him on business matters concerning the bar, or just to chat, knowing that he would probably be gone for most of the day. Grabbing a clean shirt from the laundry basket, he pulled it over his head and made his way quickly to the door and opened it.
"Morning Gary," Marisa greeted, tapping her way in with her cane. In her hand she carried a coffee pot.
"Morning Mar--what's that?" he asked, stepping aside, allowing her room to pass.
"Java," Marisa answered, "or as my uncle Lenzo calls it, Chicago mud, and I brought you a cup."
Gary raised his eyebrows, "Chicago who? A-And you call that a cup?" he asked pointing to the pot.
Marisa folded her cane and laid it on the counter, then groping the counter top, she felt her way around it to set up the coffee pot. She knew every inch of Gary's small apartment, and often washed dishes and clean the small kitchenette for him, so she was very familiar with the kitchen and where everything was.
"Family joke" Marisa smiled, moving about the kitchen. "I just thought that before we both start our day, we could maybe enjoy a cup of coffee together..you know, like we use to."
"Well....th-thats nice Marisa.....thank you very much." Gary said, closing the door. He stood watching as she retreived two cups from the cupboard and placed them on the counter, and then, carefully filled them with the steaming hot coffee. He had watched her do this numerous times, and for some reason it still amazed him.
The aroma of freshly brewd coffee soon filled the tiny kitchen and Gary planted himself on a kitchen stool. Glancing down at the article again, he suddenly felt like he could use a cup.
It had been a while since the two had talked over a cup of coffee. With Gary being busy with the paper and Marisa, with the duties of bar manager, there was just simply no time.
"Did you hear about the body that they found?" Marissa inquired, settling on a stool.
"Huh?" Gary looked up. "Oh yeah..yeah, I was just reading about it" he murmured, his attention drawn back to the paper. Scratching his head, he focused on the article again. Body found, resounded in his head. Body found. Body found!?
"Wait a min-!?" his head shot up quickly, "how did you know!?"
"It was on the news this morning Gary." Marisa said, taking a sip of coffee. "You know...television? Oh and there's that little box that you have called a radio? Anyway, a couple found the man last night"
Confused, Gary ignored Marissa's playful ribbing. His mind was on the article. How did he miss the murder in yesterday's paper? He hadn't read about any murder.
Marisa could sense something wrong by Gary's silence, and she lowered her cup. Her sightless eyes stared across the counter passed him.
"What is it Gary?"
"Marissa" Gary whispered, his voice concerned, "a-a man is going to be killed tonight. He's going to be murdered tonight. H-How did I miss that one yesterday?"
"I don't know Gary"
"I-I mean, I would have seen it wouldn't I?" Gary continued, his eyes roving over the paper again.
The two of them sat quietly for a moment, both of them puzzled. Why weren't the deaths mentioned in Gary's paper? After much thought Marisa's face brightened, and she looked up from her cup.
"Gary!" she whispered. "Oh my God, Gary...the news report did say that
the man had been dead for a few days....*before* his body was found. That
might explain why you didn't see it in your paper
Confused, Gary frowned sliding his fingers through his hair and grasping a handful between his fingers he paused to look up at her.
Marissa sat up straight on her seat to explain herself more clearly. "What I'm saying is...how can something be reported when it's not known...Gary, I mean...the body wasn't found until days later..so your paper wouldn't have reported it."
Gary looked over at her and his heart sank. "T-That would explain a lot-now wouldn't it?" he murmured.
It was times like this when Marisa wished for sight. She felt for Gary having to deal with, not only the emotional aspect of the paper, but the consequences that went along with it as well. The responsibility of the paper was indeed a task to be cursed with and even though she didn't personality have to deal with the paper, in her heart...she dealt with it.
There were so many times when Gary would go out on a save, only to come back late at night, sometimes reeking with the stench of sewer or whatever situation he dealt with that night, and she worried about him- probably more than he knew. The only good thing was the fact that he was here, at the loft, when she arrived the next morning, and if the rescue was a success, then that was a plus.
Marissa would sometimes advised him and on occasion help him out if he
but there was only so much she could physically do and right now, she felt helpless and wanted to ease his conscious...if only just a little.
"You can't feel responsible for every crime that goes on in this
city Gary." she offered.
"Well, h-how can I NOT feel responsible Marissa, w-when I'm the one
who knows first!" he retorted.
"You're only one person--"
"Yeah-well, tell that to the paper will ya?" he groused, tossing the paper down on the table.
"Gary" Marissa sighed softly.
"Who needs this-give that thing to somebody else!" he grumbled irritably, rising from the barstool. "Excuse me..I'm gonna go finish shaving," his voice turned softer as he disappeared into his bathroom.
Marissa sighed deeply as she sat in silence, mulling over Gary's predicament. She could hear him clinkering around in the bathroom, the toliet flush, and then the sound of running water before the door opened suddenly.
"Scratch the movie!" his voice echoed from the bathroom.
"What was that?"
"I-I was just thinking about taking in a movie today ... a-and now this!" Gary griped, returning to the kitchen wiping his hands on a towel.
"Sorry Gary" Marissa sighed again and for a brief moment she seemed to have forgotten how much she hated the word.
Freshly shaven, Gary stood looking down at her "Yeah" was all he could muster. He felt foolish now for his outburst even though it wasn't directed at her, he just had to vent and Marissa knew this.
"Coffee," she reminded him, taking a sip from her cup.
"Coffee's getting cold."
"Oh yeah...coffee" Gary sighed, staring down into his cup. Somehow the black liquid swirling around in there reminded him of night and for a second he flashed back to the night he had found Scanlon's dead body by the railroad tracks. Boy how he hated murder situations! Shaking his head to clear it, Gary picked up the carton of creamer that was on the counter and quickly dumped in a slosh causing a gray swirl of steam to rise to tickle his nose. The article in the paper had suddenly spoiled his appetite for coffee but not wanting to hurt Marisa's feelings, he raised his cup to take a sip stopping suddenly to scan the article again.
Marissa knew the uneasiness Gary felt dealing with saves like this, and she felt it was just as well if he left it alone, but knowing Gary, he wouldn't.
"Read me the article" she offered pushing up her sleeves and settling herself comfortable on her seat. At least she would be able to know what he was going to be dealing with that night.
Gary glanced up from the paper, to stare across the table at Marissa. He always felt comforted knowing that she would be there to listen. Even though she couldn't see, she had always said that she had eyes of her own. He felt that she could see what the ordinary person couldn't. She seemed to have a special insight into things, and Gary knew that he could always count on her for anything. Settling himself on his chair, he lowered his eyes, his dark lashes fluttering as he began to read the article.
"The body of a local man was found yesterday evening in a remote area off
of N. Canal Rd. He had been shot once, in the back of the head, his frozen
body found hidden in a ditch.
Robert Norse was part manager at the Golden Spoon Restaurant, and was on his way home after work, but never arrived. When he left the bar at 9:00 PM that evening he was alone, co-workers say. Because he lived just two blocks from the resturaunt, he chose to walk. He leaves behind a wife and a three year daughter. Police have no leads at this time, but are asking anyone who may have seen anything to please come forward. This is the third shooting death of this kind, this month. Police are not saying if the three killings are related."
Gary lowered the paper "Robert Norse..." he sputtered and glanced over at the alarm clock. "Seven forty-five. That gives me-,"
"At least 13 hours Gary...." Marisa cut in, "seems kind of odd don't you think?"
"The guy...choosing to walk in this kind of weather"
Gary hadn't given it much thought but now that it was mentioned...it did seem kind of odd. No one in his right mind would have chosen to walk in this weather if they could help it.
"Yeah..." he sighed looking over at her. "I'm ah- gonna go shower" he said motioning towards the bathroom, then remembering his coffee, "Ah...thanks for the coffee huh?"
Marisa smiled knowing that he hadn't touched a single drop of it, and it was now probably as cold as the weather outside. A hot shower would do him good.
"I'll leave the pot here, just in case you want a cup, it's still hot."
she sighed, hopping down from the barstool.
"Thanks" Gary said feeling guilty about the coffee.
He handed Marissa her cane and waited until she had extended it open, before walking her to the door. Stopping suddenly Marissa turned around to face him.
"At least you have a name to go on Gary" she said trying to reassure him, "That's something "
"Yeah...and..maybe I can prevent this one"
"Be careful-ohh.. and, stop by me before you leave-ok?" she called over her shoulder as she made her way down the stairs.
"Yeah..I-I will" Gary promised.
The man behind the counter was wearing a name badge with the name Bob on it, and without any description from the paper, Gary assumed that this was the guy. The man looked up from his paper work to peer at the one who had called him by his full name.
"May I help you?"
"E-Excuse me." Gary stammered "You are Robert Norse..a-aren't you?"
"What can I do for you?" the man answered, laying the pen down he had been writing with and clasping his fingers together, he leaned forward on the counter giving Gary his full attention.
"I...I have a message for you...from your doctor," Gary lied trying to think of a quick excuse to give this man as to why he was bothering him.
"Excuse me...but do I know you?" the man asked, appearing to be a little irritated with Gary, and his questions.
Rubbing the back of his neck Gary thought feverishly for an excuse. He could use the "old Dr. Keenan" excuse again. He had used it once before to stop a man from being killed in a crash up on the interstate expressway. There was no better way of getting someone's attention than to tell them that their doctor was wanting to see them.
"I...I work with Doctor Keenan..." Gary lied running his fingers through his hair.
Puzzle, the man eyed Gary suspiciously "Dr Keenan? Who's Dr Keenan-and who are you?!"
Gary looked off across the resturaunt, trying to think of a answer to give the man without looking like a complete idiot. Luckily at that moment a fellow co-worker interrupted to converse with Mr. Norse about something having to do with the business of the resturaunt, giving Gary more time to think.
While the two men talked, Gary scanned the crowded resturaunt bustling with the evening dinner crowd. Waitresses and busboys hustled about carrying trays loaded down with food. Several more employees stopped to ask Mr Norse questions concerning their duties for the evening, and Gary waited patiently until the last worker departed and they were alone.
"I-I work with Dr Keenan," Gary continued, "Dr. Keenan's an acquaintance of your doctor, doctor...ahh..." he paused, thumping his forehead with his palm pretending to have forgotten the name of the doctor.
"Dr Matthews....?" the man offered, looking perplexed.
"Yeah....Dr Matthews!" Gary laughed nervously. Hum, he was getting to be pretty good at this. "He-told me-to tell you, that he needed to talk to you right away"
Mr Norse, seemed to be very nervous and distracted at the same time. He was looking pass Gary across the crowded restaurant and appeared to be trying to make eye contact with someone and Gary turned around to see.
Across the bar sat a woman with red hair but Gary couldn't see her face. He did noticed that she was smartly dressed but was sitting in such away that her face was blocked from his view. The pair made nonverbal communication for a while, before the woman as if upset, got up and stormed out of the restaurant her long red hair flying behind her.
"Wait here..." Robert Norse said, tugging Gary's sleeve, as if trying to plant him there and hurried out of the restaurant after the woman. Shaking his head Gary slipped the paper from his back pocket to see if anything had changed.
The headline had been replaced, 'Clinton Avoids indictment'. Shaking his head, Gary blew out a breath and looked up from the paper to scan the restaurant again before sliding the paper into his back pocket.
It wasn't long before Robert Norse reappeared red faced and out of breath. A look of dissapointment clouded his face as he made his way back towards Gary.
"Can we talk?" he asked breathlessly, pulling Gary over to the side, his voice was now a worried whisper. "It's about my tests results....isn't it?"
Gary's eyebrows shot up, "Howzat?"
Beads of perspiration appeared on the man's top lip and he nervously wiped them away "My test results....my wife..has doctor....?"
"I....I..don't know.." Gary said, cutting him off quickly. He was beginning to know more about Mr Robert Norse than he really cared to. "I-I'm just here to give you the message th-thats all I know" he stammered, shaking his head. The danger was over, and all he wanted to do was to get out of there. Any trouble Mr Norse was in, or *thought* he was in, was nothing compared to what was to have been that night.
"Do you need a ride home?" Gary offered, remembering from the paper, that Mr Norse had chosen to walk that night. Glancing at his watch, the man looked at Gary.
"It just so happens that I didn't drive my car tonight. If you don't mind...I...I somehow feel the need to get home to my wife, the sooner the better." he grinned sheepishly. Gary agreed.
Grabbing his jacket Robert Norse motioned his departure to some of the
other workers as he and Gary stepped out into the fridged night. As they
walked towards Gary's Bronco, neither one of the men noticed the dark car
parked in the shadows beneath a large willow tree, on the side of the restaurant.
"It's 6:30 AM here in frosty Chicago, wake up you sleepy--"
"Whack!! Clatter! ((Rattle-rattle-rattle-rattle!!!))"
From under the covers an arm extended flailing about wildly, making contact with it's target, and swiping it across the floor.
Radio silenced, Gary sank deeper into his warm blanket.
"Five more minutes" he pleaded sleepily into his covers. " just five..more-"
"Me-ow!" Cat purred again as he waited patiently to be let in. Underneath
him lay the paper, still damp from the night's rain.
Cat was confident that the door would open, just like it did every morning for the past three years and his grumpy master would appear. He ignored the tone and the facial grimace he sometimes received, he knew his master's heart. Licking his front paws, Cat waited.
The door swung open, and a frumpled hair'd Gary stood, clad in blue checkered boxers. Ignoring him, Cat pranced, nonchalantly past him into the apartment with Gary's irritated glare following. He stopped to survey the shattered alarm clock which was, amazingly, still ticking, but now lay scattered in pieces, across the bedroom floor. Inventory completed, he strolled over to Gary's bed and leaped gracefully up onto it, curling up comfortably, into a fluffy yellow ball.
Gary had watched Cat's idle manner as he strolled into his apartment, and when Cat was finally comfy-cosey, Gary muttered a, "Yeah?..W-Well goodmorning to you too"
Gary was already grumpy this morning and was resolved to the fact that it was useless trying to argue with the fur ball about being on the furniture. Shaking his head, he bent down to pick up the paper.
It had been a couple of days since he had taken Mr Norse home, and with the big lie that he had told about knowing his doctor, Gary hoped to never cross paths with him again. Mr Norse's fidelity, or lack there of, was another story. Since then, there had been no other incidents of that type of shooting, he could only hope that today would be no different.
'Woman Killed by Train,' the headline blared. Gary rose slowly with his eyes still fixed on the article. Still reading he slowly retreated back into his apartment and closed the door.
'April Chandler 28, was killed at approximately 9:15AM yesterday morning, when the tiny car she was driving became lodge on the railroad tracks between Harlem and Winsor Ave.
Because of the heavy rain fall from the night before, police say the tires on her dark Volkswagen Beatle, somehow became lodged in the sticky mud and tar on the tracks just as the East bound train roared past, killing her instantly. Witnesses say that she had just left Macy's Department store on West 35th St. On lookers at the scene say that she seemed to have ignored the flashing railroad signals as if trying to beat the train.'
Laying the paper aside, Gary glanced down at the shattered clock. Tilting
his head slightly he could still make out the time. "6:45 AM", he whispered.
He had to get across town and fast, for fear of the early morning backup.
He didn't want to take any chances on getting stuck in traffic and not making
it there on time. As usual there was no time for breakfast. Grabbing
the milk carton from the fridge, he headed for the shower.
Gary's black bronco pulled up in the parking lot of Macys department store. Turning off the ignition, he checked his watch. "8:45 AM " he whispered.
The sun was shining bright that cold morning, cutting through the haze of the frosty air. It had stopped raining, and beads of water glistened on the windshield distorting his view. He clicked the wipers to clear the windshield, just as a heavyset woman rushed past with a child about the age of eight in tow, and they disappeared into the reflecting glass door of the department store.
It was still early and most of the stores were just opening up for business. The paper had described a dark blue Volkswagen Beetle as the type of car the woman had been driving and scanning the lot, Gary saw that there were only a few cars there, none of them fitting that description. He glanced down at the paper again hoping for a change in the headline.
"Still there" he murmured
A few minutes later, a car pull up beside him. The sun was reflecting in such a way that Gary had to squint to get a good look at the car. It was a dark Volkswagen bug as described in the paper, and Gary's heart fluttered.
The door of the car swung opened and a young woman, stepped out. Judging from her appearance, Gary guessed her to be the same age of the woman mentioned in the paper.
The brightness of the sun shining in Gary's eyes made it hard for him to see her face clearly, and the woman must have sensed being watched because at that moment she looked over at him, her sparkling blue eyes now meeting his gaze. She stared at him for a moment before quickly cutting her eyes away and for a brief second, Gary got the impression that she recognized him.
Smiling sweetly she closed the door to her little beetle and the beep of the car alarm sounded as she walked away. She glanced back and smiled sweetly, her light brown hair blowing gently behind her as she walked towards the building.
There were two men entering the building at that same time, both, almost tripping over each other trying to get the door for her and Gary looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Feeling abash for the two men he shook his head in disgust and glanced down at the paper again to see if anything had changed. "It's her, " he murmured looking over at the car again, "Volkswagen Bug."
The woman smiled at the two men as they held the door for her. It was as if it was expected for them to do so, and without so much as a thank you, she walked on, leaving the two men standing there grinning stupidly.
When she was quite a distance from the glass door, the woman peered out into the parking lot, her heart pounding. She was certain that this was the guy who had been talking to Robert Norse in the restaurant a few nights ago. Who was he? Did he recognize her without the red wig she had been wearing that night?
"May I help you?" A woman's voice sounded in her ear interrupting her thoughts.
"Ohh..." April gasped. She hadn't seen the sales lady approach and it startled her. Pretending to be looking at the merchandise, she managed a sweet "No thank you..I'm just looking right now" and smiled.
April's beautiful face was a blessing to her, and she knew it. But she also knew that it could be a curse. Although she was able to get any man she wanted, the thing she wanted most seemed unatainable thus far. April never knew whether the men she dated loved her for herself or whether it was for her beauty. She was angry and although her smile seemed to melt the hearts of men, in actuality, it was deadly curse to any man who fell for it.
"Well, just let me know." The sales lady smiled, she too had been captivated by April, thinking to herself how charming this young lady was.
"Thank you" April smiled back, watching the lady walk away. This
had to be a coincidence she thought peering out at the black Bronco still
parked beside her Bug. Her heart skipped when she noticed that the man was
no longer in the car. She scanned the parking lot that had become
congested with cars and wondered if the driver had come inside. Then she
spotted him inside of the lobby using one of the pay-phones and her heart
settled down. She wanted to know more about Mr. handsome. It couldn't hurt
to meet him, she thought smiling.
"....I think it's her Marissa" Gary was saying into the phone, "and the headline is still here."
Hoping to kill some time until the woman reappeared, Gary had gone inside the department store lobby, to phone Marissa, making sure he kept an eye on the little beetle parked outside. He had already told Marrisa about the train accident, and was now calling her just to talk, and let her know what was going on. Something he often did.
"Well, I think it's best if you waited outside Gary instead of trying to find her inside...you might miss her," Marisa advised, her voice sounding muffled coming through the phone.
"Yeah...I think you're right" Gary agreed. " You know something Marissa?" he continued, his voice turning concerned.
"What's that Gary?"
"There's something about her...."
Gary shrugged, "I-I don't know. I can't explain it." Feeling stupid, he dismissed the thought. "It's...probably nothing.."
"What Gary?" Marissa prompted "is she pretty?" She asked teasingly.
"Is she what!?" Gary scowled, holding out the receiver to look at it.
Marissa placed a hand to her mouth, trying really hard to suppress a giggle. She knew that Gary was hesitant when it came to expressing his feelings about any female. After his failed marriage, and a few nowhere relationships, he had built up an invisible wall to protect his heart from getting hurt again, plus the paper took up most of his time and Marissa knew how he felt. *Any* insinuation of any kind about him getting "involved" would certainly scare him off. He did not like setups, or blind dates. Whether a rescue was pretty or not wasn't an issue with Gary, at least it wasn't something he would be discussing with her, especially now. Marissa knew this, but teased him for an answer anyway, trying to take the edge off.
"Is she pretty....you know..attractive?" Marissa repeated, grinning mischievously, this time.
The sound of Marissa's teasing went ignored as Gary glanced down at his watch. It was now 9:10AM, and seeing no sign of the woman, he checked the paper again. The headline had changed.
"I'm right here"
"The headline....it's changed!"
A wave of relief swept over her, and she blew out a breath, "Thank God Gary" Marissa whispered " So...the accidents' no longer there? S-Something must have happened to change it."
"Yeah..I-I don't know, but it's no longer here! "
"Are you sure Gary?" Marissa asked. "What does the article say now?"
Gary glanced down at the paper, and read the replaced headline to himself.
' Groundhog sees Shadow, six more weeks of Bad Weather!'
"Keep your umbrella handy" he answered, looking up from the paper to scan the lobby again.
"N-Never mind." He sighed, waving away the remark. "It seems as if Miss Chandler has had a change in plans"
"You sound disappointed"
The fact that the train accident was no longer going to occur of course
was no disappointment to Gary, he just felt that there was simply no longer
a reason for him to hang around. The woman was
"I do not sound disappointed!" he snapped, "I...was just...ah ... curious as to what happened to change it....th-thats all"
"Well...you can still meet her Gary" Marissa sighed softly.
Inside of the department store, April knew that the stranger couldn't see her, but she had a full view of him. Her beautiful eyes revealed a hint of melancholy to them as she surveyed him, looking him up and down. Who was he? Why was he following her?
She thought back on the night he came into the restaurant.... the night Robert Norse probably would have died. But he had cancelled out on her, when this guy came into the restaurant and starting talking to him.
She closed her eyes tight, not wanting to feel the awful feelings brewing up inside of her. But she hated men, married men especially! They were all the same! The guy on the phone looked sweet, but he would probably be no different from the rest!. Presented as a trophy, the little ornament on their arm, to attend their expensive little parties, to show off to their friends! Tears clouded her eyes and she could feel the confusion stirring up again. Her, fists clenched, tightly at her side. What was wrong with her? Why was it that any man who was interested in her, or who talked to her, met with death? Why did she do the things she did? She was confused.
"Miss?" A faint voice sounded in her ear. Startled, April looked up to see the sales lady staring at her.
"Are you ok?" the sales lady inquired, a worried look on her face.
Looking down in her hand April realized that she had been crushing an expensive silky black night gown and tears had spilled over onto it.
"Are you ok hon?" the sales lady asked again, this time, eyeing the expensive night gown.
"I'm s-so sorry" April apologized, wiping her eyes, and trying to smooth the silky garment. "I...I'll take this one." She stammered holding up the now crumpled nighty. She had almost forgotten why she was there.
A sexy night gown was one of many attire she wore as a request from a date, and the red wig she had been wearing that night at the restaurant was Roberts suggestion. He preferred women with red hair. She had another date for tonight, but what she didn't know was that he was also a married man.
The sales lady led her over to the counter where she rang up the merchandise. April paid, and with a polite thank you, hurriedly made her way to the lobby.
"......yeah, well so far, theres nothing else here, c'ept down at the Piggly-Wiggly Supermarket, some genius gets hurt trying to shoplift a frozen turkey by way of his pants and.... huh? No....no way Marissa! I'm not gonna touch that one! It serves him right!" Gary groused, looking up from the paper.
Gary was still on the phone talking to Marissa, who had insisted that he hang around a little longer to make sure that the woman didn't take that fateful drive. At that moment, the woman stepped out into the lobby.
"Hold on...I think that's her!" he whispered hurriedly "Marisa...I..I..gotta go!"
Marisa, jumped as the phone on the other end clicked loudly in her ear. Still holding the dead receiver, she was relieved that the train accident wasn't going to happen, the girl was out of danger, and so was Gary. She pictured Gary in a new relationship, and smiled as she contemplated the possibility.
Marissa loved it whenever Gary tried to act uninterested in a woman and
by the sound of his voice...she could detect an inkling...he was interested.
Crinkling her nose, she was tickled. "Give her a try Gary" She sighed, hanging
up the phone.
April, wanting to make sure that the handsome stranger saw her, deliberately dropped the package, letting the flimsy black nighty spill out onto the floor of the lobby.
"Let me help you with that" Gary heard himself say as he crouched to pick up the spilled merchandise.
"Thank you" April said, sounding embarrassed. "I can be so clumsy at times" She watched him as he clumsily picked up the flimsy nighty, fumbling with it. So sweet, she thought, and yes, this is definitely the guy from the restaurant. By the flush on his face, she could tell that he was uncomfortable with what had fallen out of the package.
As he knelt, Gary's face felt warm as fumbled with the silken negligee, not knowing what to do with it. It was such a delicate looking piece of garment. Should he stuff the silky laced garment back into the bag, or fold it.
This guy is so sweet! April thought smiling to herself. She reached over and gently took the negligee from him, relieving him from his dilemma.
"Thank you" She smiled placing it back into the bag. "It's a wedding gift...for a friend"
"Yeah" Gary muttered, rubbing the back of his neck nervously, as they rose from the floor.
Looking at him, April saw an innocence that she'd never seen before in a man. A boyish charm so different from what she was use to and she smiled.
"April Chandler" She said suddenly, extending a hand.
Gary, struck by her straight forwardness, looked down at her small well manicured hand and reached out his own, but not before wiping it first on the side of his heavy coat.
They shook hands and Gary couldn't help but notice how soft and delicate hers was. Hands of an angel, he thought, then quickly kicked himself for even thinking of such a thing. He didn't know this woman.
On a bench, in a corner of the lobby, a little old woman sat smiling at the pair. She had witnessed their "chance" meeting, and had heard their introduction and winked at Gary giving him a nod of her approval.
Tossing the old woman a sarcastic smile, Gary nodded and held the door opened as he and April stepped out into the cold February air.
"Well..you take care" he stuttered as they headed for their respected cars.
"Nice meeting you " April smiled. She hadn't noticed a wedding band on his finger, and hoped, he wasn't married. Sneaking a look at him out of the corner of her eye, she also hoped that he hadn't recognized her from the Restaurant either.
As they walked across the lot, neither said a word. Gary stole a quick glance at her out of the corner of his eye. She was beautiful, he thought, but then again, so was blueberry pancakes with melted butter. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked down. He was certain she had someone waiting at home for her and was glad that her life had been spared.
Except for the clicking of April's heels on the asphalt pavement, everything seemed unusually quiet, as they made their way to their cars. Smiling he nodded good-bye before climbing into his Bronco.
April, unlocking her car door was still trying to figure him out. No wedding band. Surely an adorable guy like this had to be taken. Men usually would have asked for her number by now. But there was something about this guy that was different from all the rest. In a way, he seemed special. She looked over at the Bronco still parked beside her car and noticed that the newspaper he had been reading had fallen in a puddle beside his car and he seemed to be searching for it. Tossing her package into the car, April made her way around to the driver side of the Bronco and lightly tapped on the window. Gary looked up to see her face and quickly rolled it down his window.
"You dropped your paper" She smiled holding up the dripping newspaper.
"Wha....oh...thanks...I was just looking for it." Gary said, taking the soggy paper. "Thanks"
"I suppose it's ruined" She said, smiling
"Yeah...well, it's ok...I think" Gary sighed, shaking the paper out his window.
"Chicago Suntimes?" She said eyeing the paper.
"Huh..oh, yeah?" Gary nodded, and held the paper down a bit, hoping she wasn't looking at it too closely, he didn't want her to see the date.
"Know of a nice place to eat around here?" April asked tucking a silky strand of wind blown hair behind an ear. "I don't know many people, and I'm kind of new here in town." she laughed nervously.
Gary sat, staring blankly at her for a moment. It was hard for him to believe that this beautiful woman would have been dead if something hadn't happen to change her decision to go wherever she was supposed to be going. Maybe his being here was enough to have changed the headline. But why, he hadn't done anything. It was a minute before he realized that the beautiful mouth moving before him was talking to him.
April bit her lip, waiting until she got a response. The look on this guy's face was priceless! She usually got a "brainblock" reaction from any man she chose to talk to, but never a look like this!
"Huh?" Gary asked, his eyebrows raised. He hadn't heard anything she had said.
Mudpuddle green, April thought looking into his eyes. In the broad open daylight, she could see the color of his eyes clearly. A mudpuddlish green enhanced by thick dark lashes.
Suddenly a gust of wind swept through, blowing the paper out of Gary's hand, scattering them across the parking lot. Gary's eyes flew open wide, panic etched in them, and he watched helplessly as the pages scurried across the lot.
"Wo-S'cuse me!" Gary sputtered, and quickly bolted from his jeep, to scurry after them.
Confused, April stood and watched, as Gary across the lot trying feverishly to catch the wind carried pages. What was it about this guy? she thought, watching him. She had only known him for a few minutes, and already, he had captured her heart.
April watched as one page landed in a puddle, and she quickly dashed over to retrieve it before it was completely soaked. There were a few others pages that she was able to peel up from the damp concrete and now clutching them, she paused again, watching in awe, as Gary struggled to retrieve one page that had flown against the antenna of a car.
Feeling silly, Gary looked back to see April awkwardly holding on to a few of the crinkled pages, but was now laughing, and seemed quiet amused at his predicament, only to stop abruptly, to chase after a page that blew past her. Her light brown hair blew gently about her as she bent ladylike to pick it up, and at that moment Gary thought that his heart would burst. She was a beautiful sight to his bruise heart and he rubbed his face as if trying to erase the image from his mind.
April was still holding on to several pages she had managed to recover, but the look on her face was now one of total disconcertment. Why was he so concerned about a newspaper?
They managed to collect all of the pages, and were headed back towards their cars. Gary quickly scanned the parking lot for any they might have missed, and satisfied that they had gotten them all, he suddenly felt embarrassed over his sudden outburst. He turned towards April, feeling the sudden need to explain his peculiar behavior.
"I'm ahhh..I...had scribbled an important phone number on one of the pages" he lied.
"Really," was April's only reply as she handed over the crumpled pages she had recovered.
"Thanks" Gary said, taking the paper. Out of the corner of his eye he quickly observed her. Her cheeks were flushed pink from the wind, and her blue eyes were sparkling happily as she gently swept a silken lock of hair behind her ear. A habit Gary seemed to notice that she did. For the first time, Gary noticed the gentle cleft in her chin, and her full red lips and for an instant he desired to taste of them. Arrrggghh! What was he thinking! He didn't even know the woman! Oh boy, he thought, nervously sliding a hand through his hair, he was feeling something he hadn't felt in a long, long time and he wasn't sure if he wanted to.
"Th-thanks for helping, huh?" he mumbled, his eyes dropping quickly to the disarrayed pages that he held, hoping that his face hadn't revealed what he had been thinking.
As they approached their cars, Gary suddenly remembered the question April had imposed before their little escurtion, and his heart fluttered nervously as he thought about asking her to Mcginty's for lunch. The breakfast he had chugalugged that morning, just wasn't enough to sustain him. He was hungry, but with the butterflies he was now feeling in his stomach, he wasn't so sure he could eat.
Remembering the paper, he stole a quick glance at one of the crinkled pages and his heart sank. Holding paper closer, he could barely make out the wording, the paper now wet and tattered.
'Child's Arm Severed In Washingmachine Mishap.'
Looking up, Gary knew that this was another lunch date opportunity he would
"Well I ordered fifteen cases of, Sauvignon Blanc, just like you asked Gary," Marisa was saying, "and only five cases were delivered"
"Yeah...this is the second time in a month" Gary sighed, massaging his temples. His voice sounded irritated.
The two were at their desks in Gary's office, going over the books for the month. Marissa had the order book in hand, Gary, the paper.
Although reports on the murders seemed to have quieted down, the neighborshoods
in the city were still in an uproar, thinking that the police department wasn't doing enough to track down the killer/killers. After the victims had been murdered, their bodies had been carefully hiddened, so that by the time Gary received the paper reporting the murders, it would have been to late to do anything about it. He no longer knew about tomorrow's murder today.
"I can't concentrate" he sighed, leaning back against the cushion of his chair. A waive of fatigue claimed him for a moment and he closed his eyes.
"Since the papers slow....why don't you go upstairs and try and rest, I can finish up here, we're almost done anyway." Marisa offered.
She knew that the missing cases of wine, were the last thing on Gary's mind and that he was taking the murders much too personal. After all, there was only so much that he could do, and with the murders being committed in the way that they were, it was practically a lost cause trying to pin point it, unless you were psychic.
"No....I'm just a little tired, thats all." Gary sighed, rubbing his eyes.
The only bright spot in his mind right now, was the woman he had met in the lobby at Macy. The woman who had for some reason been spared a terrible death. He thought about the lunch opportunity missed because of the little boy and the washing machine incident which was of course, first priority.
Gary had told Marissa's about that save. How the little boy, about the age of six or seven, had been playing around in the laundryroom of an apartment building where he lived with his mother. Apparently his mother began talking with a neighbor right outside the laundryroom, when the little boy, who had been playing with a toy car, dropped it into the washer just as the spin cycle was about to begin. He had lifted the lid, climbed on top of the machine, and was about to reach inside when an out of breath Gary rounded the corner of the laundryroom just in time to snatch the little boy away from basket that had began spinning at a deathly rate of speed. It was an old machine like most of the machines in the old building that was in great need of repair.
After some creative explaining Gary was able to convince the irrate mother that he had just saved her little boy from losing an arm, and possibly his life while trying to retreive a toy from the spinning machine, and she gasped when she saw the toy car in the washer. Although puzzled as to how he knew about the near mishap, she was crying and thanking Gary all the way to his car.
Now sitting at his desk, Gary thought back to that day in Macy's parking lot. He had thought about asking the woman to Mcginty's for lunch, but quickly dismissed the idea, due to the urgency at hand. He ended up giving her directions to a quaint little restaurant just around the corner from where they were.....away from the danger of the railroad tracks.
"Mr Hobson?" Tom, one of the bartenders, was peeking his head in the doorway of the office.
His thoughts broken, Gary looked up. "Yeah?"
"You have a visitor...a...detective Brigatti?"
Surprised, Gary looked over at Marisa. "Brigatti" he said.
"Wonder what she wants?" Marisa muttered under her breath as she continued with her paper work. There was a hint of irritation in her voice and Gary, surprised by it, glanced over at her and smiled. He wasn't so sure how Marissa felt about Brigatti.
Rising to his feet Gary made his way around the desks, and over to the office door. He could hear soft music, coming from the bar as he opened the door, and peeked his head out.
The bar wasn't very crowded, due possibly because of the rain, and he could see Bragitti standing at the counter, her cold black hair, much shorter than when he last saw her, and although petite, she still carried an attitude that made the men at the bar steer clear.
It had been a while since he was cleared in the Scanlon case and they had talked, but about nothing more than that of the case. Any feelings he might have had for her seemed to have been put on ice, it wasn't his doing, but hers. She was still cold.
"Hob-son" Brigatti greeted him, enunciating each syllable of his name as she ususally did. Her pretty dark eyes held his, as he approached her, and even though it had been a while since their last meeting, she still managed to stir up an uneasiness in him, something he could not quite understand. She made him antsy, and he wasn't sure if it was because she represented the law, something he was constantly trying to avoid because of his record on file, or that it was because she just simply did not like him. Maybe it was because deep down inside, he had feelings for her, but was afraid to show it. Gary wasn't sure. He wasn't even sure if she even knew his first name.
"Brigatti. Wh-What can I do for you?" he stammered. "If you're here about that unpaid fax..I paid it" he joked, laughing nervously.
"Well, thats one less thing I have to worry about today Hob-son," Brigatti drew in a deep breath, looking him straight in the eye, "thank God for small favors"
Deep down inside, Brigatti knew that this was a good man. He had saved her life not only once, but twice and she was relieved that he had been cleared in the Scanlon case. But she still felt a bit of remorse for not trusting in him when he first came to her apartment for help. All evidence pointed to him connecting him to the murder, and being the dedicated cop that she is, her professional duty was to turn him in, but her heart got in the way that night and clouded her judgment. There was no way she could have turned him in let alone shoot him. She was in love with him.
Still, Brigatti couldn't shake the feeling that he was hiding something, and that made her frustrated, making her tolerance for
him next to nil. She didn't have time for hide and seek, but if he wanted to play games, then she'll make him sweat. Besides, she liked seeing him fidget. It was one of the things about him that appealed to her. She thought it was cute. Cute?! Surprise by her own choice of a word, Brigatti flinched. Now there was a word that hadn't graced her vocabulary in a while, actually quite a while, and she physically shuddered, not caring if he noticed. You're gettin soft Brigatti, she mumbled to herself.
"Keeping your nose clean Hob-son?" She asked, her eyes like black sapphire, glared up at him.
"Yeah...yeah..I'm doing m-my best Brigatti" Gary laughed nevously. He had noticed her shudder, and facial grimace and it only helped his suspicion. She hated him.
"Keeping up on current events?"
"Howzat?" Gary asked, nervously fingering the paper in his back pocket.
With an arched brow, Brigatti didn't reply, she didn't have to, her eyes spoke for her and Gary quickly picked up on what she was referring to.
"Ohh...you-you mean about the murders?" he whispered, running a hand nervously across the back of his neck. He looked around for a place for them to talk, and urshered her towards a quiet corner of the bar. "Yeah, it's-it's been in the paper" he continued.
Brigatti was also looking around, as if she was looking for someone, and that made Gary a bit edgy.
"C-Can I get you something?" Gary asked nervously, hoping she wasn't there to tie him into the murders.
"No, I'm fine." She said looking back up at him. "I know how you're always out and about Hobson, just wanted to warn you to watch yourself thats all."
"Me?" Gary laughed, nervously rubbing the back of his neck, "Yeah..well..than--"
"Two things Hobson, and I'll be out of your... hair " Brigatti interrupted him, her eyes giving his hair the once over before they burned back into his "Do you know how the victims were killed?"
Gary paused, the atmosphere changing to serious, and from the look in her eyes, Gary was almost afraid to ask. He knew that the news reports hadn't mentioned any specific detail about the killings, just said that they had all died of gun shot wounds, and the paper was certainly of no help right now.
"Well, yeah...gun shot" he answered, while he fidgeted with a pretzel bowl that was on the counter.
Irritated, Brigatti grabbed the bowl and held it still, wanting make sure she had his full attention. "Not just any gun Hobson, a miniature handgun, specially made."
"M-Miniature?....sp-specially made?" Gary swallowed hard.
"Umhum..." She nodded, her gaze burning into his, " A weapon so small Hobson, it could fit in the palm of the murder's hand and the victim not even see it comin."
"Th-The news reports never mentioned anything about that." Gary whispered, scratching his head.
"And it wouldn't" Brigatti said sternly " And it won't ..you got me?"
"Yeah...sure" Gary nodded. Actually, he really wanted as much information as possible, and the paper wasn't much help to him right now. Looking around the sparsely crowded bar, he asked in a low voice, "Wh-What was the other thing?"
Brigatti stared at him for a long minute before her eyes dropped to his hand, "They were all married men"
"You know Hobson," she said leaning forward, "rice...flowers...tin cans...that sort of thing. Y-You don't have anything to worry about, do you Hobson?"
"Who me?" Gary asked, surprised by the question, and he stepped back shaking his head "No..I-I never...no I mean--"
"I didn't think so" Brigatti snapped, cutting him off quickly. She paused for a moment to survey the bar again. "I don't see that little blondie around anywhere, what'd she do, get smart and leeeve?"
"Y-You mean Erica?" Gary asked, surprised again, yet annoyed
this time at her questioning. "I-I'm sorry, b-but is that part of police line of questioning, or ar-are you here to investigate my..er..life?"
For what seemed like hours, Brigatti stood glaring up at him, her dark lashes fluttering, " I was talking about the cat!" she snapped, "you know I'm allergic!"
Red faced, Gary blew out a breath, and ruffled the back of his hair in frustration. He thought that he had gotten use to Brigatti's rough tone and mannerisms, and really didn't want guess what her intentions were, but her line of questionings seemed a bit misleading to him.
Brigatti's pager viabrated in her pocket and she took it out to look at it.
"Winslow" She muttered, then looking up at him, "Phone?"
" It...it's in the office ther...." Gary's voice trailed off suddenly as the opening door to the bar caught his attention and he stop in mid-sentence. The woman who had just walked in resembled the one he was supposed to have saved from last week's train wreck. Brigatti looked from Gary to the woman.
"You know her?" she inquired, tossing Gary a suspicious look.
"Yeah...I think we met once before" he murmered under his breath. He thought that she looked like the woman who had helped him gather his paper in the parking lot but he wasn't certain. Wonder what she's doing here, he murmered silently this time, noticing that she looked peturbed and nervous as she glanced around for a comfortable place to sit.
"You're dooling Hobson!" Brigatti snapped, her voice cutting sharply into his thoughts.
Peeling his eyes away from the woman, Gary just barely caught the back of Brigatti, as she stalked off towards his office, her shiny black hair bouncing in quick jerks. She entered his office, and closed the door with a loud, thump, behind her. Confused, Gary stood scratching his head as he stared at the closed door. Resigned to the fact that he would probably never be able to figure Bragatti out, he sighed, and turned his attention away from Brigatti for a moment and made his way over to the woman who had taken a seat at the end of the bar.
The woman looked lost sitting there, drenched, clutching her purse and Gary cleared his throat nervously as he approached her.
"Excuse me.." he said softly "but haven't we met before?"
The woman looked up, her blue eyes looking relieved when she saw his face.
"Th-Thats not...a line," Gary quickly added, rubbing his forehead, "I just thought that...well, you..you look familiar."
"Thats okay ..you look familiar too" she said smiling, and by her beautiful smile, Gary was certain that this was the lady.
"Gary" he smiled, extending a hand "We met at Macy's ..you..you dropped your ah....package"
Looking up at him she remembered him, and his discomfort with her package.
"Yes..I remember now." she said "You were chasing your paper"
Gary dropped his head feeling suddenly embarrassed, remembering his strange antics, and he smiled.
"April" she said, extending a small damp hand.
"I...I know" Gary answered, "I..I mean...I remember. Ar...are you all right?" he asked, remembering that she looked a bit disturbed when she first entered the bar.
"I am now" She said breathlessly wiping her damp forehead with the back of her hand. "Do you work here?"
He reached behind the bar for the box of tissues that was kept there, and held it out to her. "I...ah..live here" he said taking a seat beside her.
"Thank you" she smiled taking a tissue. "You...live here?" she asked again looking around the bar, not sure she had heard him correctly the first time.
"Right upstairs," he said tilting his head towards the ceiling, "Actually..I-I...own this place..well, part of it anyway. My partners' in the office there" he said nodding towards the office.
April smiled taking another quick look around the bar, before her eyes settled on him again. "Nice place" she said.
Gary smiled his eyes meeting her blue ones. "Are you blue..I-.I mean lost" Oh boy! What an idiot!
"Actually...yes" she admitted embarrassed, and seemed not to notice his blurb. "It's silly... but I came in here to get my nerve. Driving in the rain makes me...jittery." She laughed, nervously, dabbing her nose with the tissue.
Gary grinned, and nodded, looking off towards the game room. Both of them were silent as they watched the small crowd around the pool table, laughing jostling around. He could hear her breathing beside him, and figuring that she was still a little nervous and he glanced back over at her. She was just as beautiful in the hazy lights of the bar, wet, as she was in daylight. He'd have to introduce her to Chuck. No! Chuck was married now.
"So you ahh...don't like the rain?" he asked clearing his throat.
"I-I love the rain...it's just that lately, I'm kind of nervous driving in it, especially when I'm lost" she said wiping the tissue across her neck.
Gary sat, watching as she dabbed her forehead and face with the tissue. Maybe he could introduce her to Tom. Yeah, he was single!
"I must look a mess" she smiled nervously running a hand through her wet hair and it was a moment before Gary realized that offhandly she was really asking to use the ladiesroom. Feeling embarrassed for his lack of hospitality he rose suddenly from the bar stool. "W-Would you like to freshen up?" he asked.
"Yes. I'd like that" she sighed, feeling relieved and rising quickly she gathered her things.
Gary showed April to the ladies room just as Brigatti was coming out of his office. She had a disturbed look on her face leaving Gary to suspect that there had been another murder.
"Some woman just reported her husband missing" she informed him "I want to check it out. Could be nothing, but, you never know"
It was all Gary could do to keep from looking at the paper. Maybe the paper had something he could go on, and it had been a while since his last glance.
"How long has he been missing?" he asked touching the paper in his back pocket.
"Couple of days now" Brigatti answered, moving quickly towards the door, stopping suddenly to turn around, "Where's your girlfriend?" she asked scanning the bar.
Brigatti didn't answer but studied him carefully with piercing eyes, as she jerked on her gloves. Her mannerisms was making Gary feel very intimidated.
"What now!??" he retorted, in defense of her relentless glare. Scratching his head he watched Brigatti as she, with quick jerky motions, adjusted her shoulder holster, checked her weapon and adjusted her bullet proof vest before yanking on her coat. Gary wasn't sure what she was thinking or what he had done to earn her wrath, but he could tell that by her icy attitude something had gotten in her craw.
"Well" she said curtly, drawing in a deep breath, "see -ya" then turning on her heels to leave she stopping abruptly and spun back around again, "Casanova" she called out to him and Gary's eyebrows shot up in anticipation.
"Be careful-huh?" she ordered softly.
Looking at her Gary thought that for a fleeting moment he detected a softness in her eyes, as if she had wanted to say something more. But she didn't, and turning swiftly back around, Brigatti opened the door and stalked out into the cold night.
"Yeah...you too" Gary murmered to the closing door. Casanova! he scowled, thinking about the name she had called him and feeling embarrased, he looked around the bar to see if anyone had heard. What was wrong with her anyway!?
Dispite how she made him feel, Gary worried about Brigatti. He was very much aware that it was a dangerous job she held, and although she was on of Chicago's best shot, and was as tough as nails, he still worried about her.
Sighing, Gary was resolved to the fact that he might never be able to figure Brigatti out, or why she didn't like him. Rubbing the back of his neck he turned around to scan the bar again, it was suddenly hot in there. He needed a cold beer!
Gary saw April coming out of the ladies room looking even more beautiful than when she first went in. Her face lit up when she spotted him and as she made her towards him, Gary noticed that she drew quite a bit of attention from the male customers in the bar, turning down one guy's offer to buy her a drink. But April seemed not to notice all of the attention she was getting. Her eyes were glued on him.
"Thanks" she said, breathlessly when she finally reached him "I feel much better"
"Good. C-Can I get you something...coffee...or..."
"Coffee thanks," she smiled, waiting for his move.
Gary ordered a cup of coffee and a mug of beer from a passing waitress, and they took took a seat at a table next to his office. He didn't want to miss Marissa when she came out, plus it was an easy exit in case he wanted to take a quick look at the paper.
Settled on her seat, April seemed more relaxed and at ease. She folded her arms placing both elbows comfortably on the table and sighing contently, she looked around. "So this is Mc-gan..Mic....."
"Mc'ginty's" Gary smiled, helping her out with the pronunciation of the name.
"Mc-gin-ty's" she repeated slowly, letting the name play on her tongue.
"Yeah" Gary said laughing at her attempt.
Sighing, April was beginning to feel calm inside, almost forgetting how nervous she had been when she first walked in. This guy made her feel comfortable and at ease, something she had never felt with the men she had dated.
"So how did you find this place" Gary asked, trying to make conversation until their refreshments arrived.
Caught off guard by the question April sat staring at him. A blank look crossed her face her pretty blue eyes blinking thoughtfully as she struggled to come up with an explanation. She couldn't possible tell him that she had followed him there that day they met in the mall lobby, or that she had trailed him to some old apartment buildings, where she had witnessed him coming out from the side with a woman close on his heels, clutching a little boy. The woman seemed to be very appreciative about something because she kept thanking him over and over again all the way to his car. About what? April didn't know. It was strange.
"You're not following me...are you?" Gary teased leaning forward, his voice cutting
into her thoughts.
April's expression changed to startle this time, and Gary noticed right away. "I-I was only kidding" he whispered.
"I-I'm sorry" she appoligized nervously, "I didn't want you to think that I was some kind of nut that was following you...or-or something"
Gary laughed, shaking his head at the absurdity of the thought.
"Actually, I found this place purely by accident" she lied biting her bottem lip.
"Small world" Gary smiled, scratching the back of his neck.
She returned the smile, "Yes it is. Actually, I'm new here, from New York and I've been here in Chicago for about six months. I just recently got hired on at a law firm across town."
"No" April laughed, "I do clerical work, the filing, schedule important appointments and meetings." she said scrinching up her nose. " I've been there for about a month now. They're new, just getting started. Davies, Davis and Daly?"
Gary ran a hand across his mouth thinking to himself that he could have used a good lawyer when he was accused of Scanlon's murder. "Never heard of them" he said shaking his head.
"They were formerly known as Davies, *Danado* and Daly. One of the lawyers
suddenly disap--" April started but stopped abruptly in mid-sentence her mouth dropping slightly and she glanced down quickly at her hands, "W-What I meant to say was that, one of the lawyers left...so they hired a new lawyer to join their team...." her voice was shaky and she avoided his eyes to gaze across the bar.
Gary nodded, an amused smile flickering across his lips.
April, noting his amused grin looked back over at him. "What?"
"Davy...Danny er.. something or nother..anyway, and you thought the name Mcginty's was difficult"
April laughed and reaching across the table, she picked up an imaginary phone and
held it to her ear "Goodmorning, Law offices of Davies, Davis, and Daly, may I help you?"
Gary laughed at her antics, scratching the back of his head, "y-you do that quite well you know."
"Thank you" April laughed, "But on my first day..?" she rolled her eyes upward and blew out a breath, "Aahh...I could'nt tell you how many times I flubbed that line."
They both laughed but stopped suddenly when a loud boisterous whoop came from the direction of the entrance door and April jump, startled. Gary noticed and turned around. It was a group of guys coming in from the cold and rain, and they were laughing and jostling around with each other and one of the bartenders at the bar. After a few minutes, they settled down and joined the rest of the crowd in the game room around the pool table. Gary turned back around to face April. He studied her face for a moment, her pretty blue eyes were now etched with fear.
"You all right?" he asked softly.
She drew in a deep breath placing a hand to her chest, "Yes...I mean...I don't know" she said feeling foolish.
Gary paused, his eyes searching her face. "Is there anything wrong?"
She looked up at Gary, with eyes that were only a minute ago laughing, now etched with fear. "It's probably nothing" she shrugged, " It's just that sometimes I get this feeling that someone is following me"
Disturbed, Gary looked off towards the direction of the door again, then back at her, "You think that someone might be following you?" he asked, his eyebrows raised.
"It's probably nothing" April said, her voice shaky, "I'm just little nervous..you know, driving in the rain and all."
"Would you like if I called the pol--?"
"No!" she interrupted quickly, " I-I mean...no thank you. It's probably just my imagination...I'm ok really."
Gary sat quietly, staring at her, her words and actions bad baffled him.
Suddenly the waitress appeared with their order, and April smiled tucking her hair behind her ears, "Our beverages"
"Huh?" Gary raised his brows. He had been thinking about April and what she had said about feeling that she was being followed. He peeled his eyes away from her to look up just as the waitress was placing their refreshments down on the table in front of them. He had completely forgotten about their order, "Oh yeah...our beverages"
Hoping to put an end to the subject, April smiled and inhaled the aroma of the hot coffee before cautiously taking a sip. The coffee felt good going down, warming her inside and out. Cupping the hot mug in both hands, she settled comfortably on her chair, and looked across at Gary who, wanting to ease her tension, mockingly inhaled the aroma from his beer before taking a long satisfying swig to which they both burst out laughing again.
"Feel better now?" he asked softly, concern showing in his eyes.
Feeling foolish for the way she had reacted, April nodded, and for a brief moment allowed herself to believe that maybe, everything was going to be all right. Although deep down inside, she held a secret and knew that things would never be all right. Not if she was what she thought she was. She knew that if she continued to see this beautiful man, he would probably end up just like all of the rest. Please God not him! Please help me! she prayed silently.
Marissa was busy at her computer typing up the order for the bar when she heard the office door open. She looked up. The sound coming from the bar was loud, then muffled as the door closed again. By the atmosphere in the room, she sense that it was Gary and that he wasn't alone. Tilting her head slightly she waited for him to clear his throat as he always did whenever he entered a room she occupied, it was a courteous thing that he did, not wanting to startle her.
"Gary?" Marisa sat up straight, her sightless eyes staring ahead. By the soft gentle fragrance that accompanied him, she could tell that the person with him, was definitely female. Certainly not a fragrance she'd ever experienced on him before or Chuck for that matter and she smiled at the thought, picturing in her mind how the one wearing it must have looked. Gary's type? She was so sure.
"Marissa..I...I want you to meet someone," Gary stammered, his voice soft and gentle, "This is April"
"Hello" a woman's voice greeted sweetly and Marisa, sensing that a hand had been extended in greeting, held out hers in return. Inside she was beaming. So this was April.
"Hi" she smile just as sweet, her eyes looking past the two of them.
"Gary's told me so much about you" the woman said, her soft hand still clutching Marisa's.
"Really--" Marissa started but stopped abruptly when an icey surge shot through her hand and arm. Quickly she released the woman's grip, shaking her hand vigorously trying to get the feeling back into it as her fingers grew numb.
"Marissa's my partner," Gary said proudly.
The sound of chairs scrubbing the floor caught Marissa's attention and she could tell that Gary had pulled up a couple of chairs for the two of them to sit down.
"Actually, she runs the place" he continued laughing nervously as they took a seat. From the sound of his voice, Marissa could tell that Gary hadn't noticed her reaction from the hand shake with April, and that he was beaming like a proud peacock. But it was what he said next, that made her heart drop.
"April and I are getting (((MARRIED.)))"
Marissa shot up quickly in bed, panic gripping her and her heart hammered fiercely in her chest. Her mouth felt dry, and it took her a moment before she realized that she had been dreaming. Gropping the nightstand beside her bed, she felt for the glass of water that she kept there and finding it, took a long drink before she settled back against her large pillow trying to regain her senses.
"It was only a dream, it was only a dream" she repeated over and over, to herself, taking deep breaths, trying to calm herself down.
She reached over and touched the button on her alarm clock. ' The time is 3:AM' the electronic voice announced and she found herself rubbing her hands together to just to keep them warm. They were as cold as ice!
Her mind drifted back to the last time she had experienced a nightmare like this. It was the time her grandmother had passed away. It was so real in the dream, yet it wasn't until about a month later that it actually happened. She was by no means phychic, but there were times when she felt that she might have had the gift.
This is silly, she whispered, blowing on her hands still trying to warm them. Sighing she squinted her eyes thoughtfully, trying to piece together her dream. It didn't make any sense. April seemed like a nice enough girl. What was it about her? Blinking to get a better picture in her mind, Marisa thought back to last night when Gary had introduced them.
She had come out of the office to tell Gary that he had a phone call, and was introduced to April then. She seemed pretty nice, and Marisa felt nothing unusual about her. Although they didn't shake hands or touch, Marisa had felt comfortable around her and was happy with the fact that Gary was finally letting down the wall he'd built up over the years. In fact, she and April had talked for a few minutes alone while Gary was in the office, and Marisa found that she actually liked her.
She took another sip of water, and place the glass carefully back on the nightstand then snuggling down underneath her warm blankets, she smiled thinking how silly this whole thing was.
"Gary, married" she chuckled sleepily and drawing a tired breath, she turned over and drifted off to sleep again.
Gary rolled over, awakened by the sound of the newspaper hitting his door. Remembering that he no longer had an alarm clock, he squinted groggly at the wrist watch on the nightstand beside his bed. It was 6:00 AM.
Groaning, he threw the covers over his head and scrunched down, burying himself deeper beneath his covers. He wasn't ready to face what the paper had in store for him today- actually, he seriously considered cancelling his subscription and moving out of state. Hawaii sounded like a good place to start with it's long stretched sandy beaches, warm trade winds blowing through palms trees, the warm sun and ocean. Peace and solitude.
A mental picture of himself dressed like the Kahuna and clutching a surf board assualted his mind and he smiled in his sleep, ignoring his morning wake up call. Snoring deeply with his mouth slightly ajar, Gary slept on.
He had stayed up much longer than expected with April last night. They had talked quite extensively, about her life and he had learned a little bit more about her while they waited for the rain to subside. He had learned that she was from New York, and had moved to Chicago about six months ago. She had worked as a model in New York city, and had been engaged to a young intern by the name of Peter Cohelo who was studying to become a doctor.
Reluctantly she had told him that Peter had been very protective of her, in fact maybe even overly protective and would have fits of jealousy which would lead sometimes to his being abusive towards her. The engagement didn't last long and they soon broke up. It had been an emotional breakup, causing her stress and anxiety. She left New York and moved to Chicago to try and pull her life back together this time vying to stay away from in front of the camera's, using her secretarial training to work in a law office.
But lately, things were beginning to happen in her life that she could not understand or even explain. Strange things that frightened her and she would not elaborated any details to Gary, it only made her more frightened to talk about it and she would start to cry.
Gary was concerned and wanted to help her out. He offered to take her home last night, but she had refused, assuring him that she would be ok. But Gary had insisted, wanting to make sure she made it home safely.
When it had stopped raining, he trailed her home to her apartment located in a very nice residential area and waited until she was safely inside before he drove off. She had looked so vulnerable last night that Gary felt she needed someone to watch out for her and as much as he hated to admit it, he felt that he was also falling in love with her.
Meow!! Cat purred again, this time scratching impatiently at the door. Between the cat's scratching and his own loud snoring, Gary aroused from his sleep and he awakened to find himself buried beneath a wad of covers. Clumsily he wrestled his way out and sat up on the edge of the bed, scratching his head. Still groggy, he waited for a few minutes before he rose from the bed swaying sleepily back and forth trying to bring the door into focus. Door in sight, he moved unsteadily towards it, and flung it wide open.
On the paper Cat sat, licking it's paws. He had waited longer than usual this morning while his master slept and with green eyes he sat looking up at Gary and yawned. It's small mouth stretched wide revealing tiny white teeth and a pink tongue that licked out quickly to swipe over it's face, "Meow" Cat purred again.
"Morning flea bag" Gary grumbled crouching to slide the paper from under him. Straightening, he froze at the headline that stared back at him.
'Another Body Found'
Blinking his eyes to see more clearly, he began to read,
"The body of a local man was found shot in the back of the head by a city worker late Saturday night. The workman who found the body had just clocked in when he spotted the body laying beneath a pile of wood. Apparently the body had been there for a few days..."
Gary paused and lowered the paper to glare down at the cat "What do you want from me!" he lashed out suddenly, "You..you bring me this paper every morning-ahh...*much* too early I might add, and I can live with that! But people are being murdered here, a-and you're not giving my anything to go on!"
"Is that all you have to say?"
Feeling foolish for his sudden out burst Gary ran a hand through his rumpled hair and blew out a frustrated sigh. "Come on in" he groused, trying to sound calm, and stepping aside as Cat padded in.
For a moment, he watched as Cat slinked across the room over to the large window where he perched, looking out into the bleak gray sky. Sighing Gary closed the door and tucking the paper underneath an arm he joined him, taking a seat beside him on the windowsill.
The streets below glistened, drenched from last nights rain and Gary drew in a deep breath thinking how dreary and depressed everything look. "So much for the Kahuna" he muttered, his eyes falling to the paper, and he shook it in silent frustration, wondering if there would ever be an end to the senseless killings. It was too late for the man in the paper, and the others he wasn't able to get to in time.
"What now, huh?" he asked, scratching Cat behind the ears.
Cat's ears twitched happily from the contact and he glanced up at Gary, his green eyes narrowing. "Meow" he leaping from his perch, accidently brushing the paper from Gary's hand. In one quick motion it spilled out onto the floor.
Too tired to complain, Gary groaned and crouched to gather the scattered paper and immediately his attention was drawn to a small article in the corner of one of the pages. Rising slowly, he read the article quietly,
"Rebecca Danado, 53 was killed last night during a robbery attempt at the Quick Shop Mart... " Gary's voice trailed off as the name Danado seemed to ring a bell within him. Where did he hear that name before? He scanned the article again reading the name of the intended victim.
Danado, Gary whispered, as if saying the name would stir something in his memory.
It didn't. He checked his watch and groaned. 7:30 AM. He had really over slept! The robbery wasn't going to happen until tonight, so he was relieved to know that he had plenty of time to get there and laying the paper aside, he headed for the shower.
Continue to Installment 2
Email the author: Candi30938@aol.com