Disclaimers ~ This is an original work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, places or events is purely coincidental. These characters belong to me, if they have a passing resemblance to you or share your name, it's purely coincidental. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the author.
Bad language ~ A fair bit.
Love/sex ~ Romance between men and women and between women. Sex between consenting couples.
Sickness & death ~ There are some deaths in this story. If that's not for you, I hope you enjoy reading something else.
Author's note ~ Questions, comments & thoughts all welcome. Loves_to_write_fic@yahoo.co.uk
П June, 2006 Cam Taylor
Monday, 30th November
James stood in Kate's kitchen, staring blankly out of the glass door at her back garden. It was raining steadily, the sky above grey and miserable. How the hell did this happen? he wondered. Who starts stalking a doctor, then progresses on to kidnapping? Has he reacted in jealousy to the guys being around Kate?
Once Laurie had discovered Harrison was no longer in the car he had been keeping watch from, she had informed Chris. With it being Thanksgiving and Kate having her family around, the two investigators had played it cool. Chris has sent Laurie back out to the car to wait for ten minutes, thinking that perhaps Harrison had slipped away for a toilet break or something. When Laurie returned with still no sign of their missing friend, they had called their boss and asked what they should do.
Baffled, James had told them to continue doing their job as though nothing was amiss. Kate had family to tend to, she didn't need to be worrying about something she couldn't help with. Meanwhile, the Colonel had got the other investigators together and driven them over to Kate's house to check over the neighbourhood for signs of Harrison. The empty car brought up no evidence, though there was a small patch of red stained snow next to the car door. A check of the surrounding area didn't turn up Harrison. James knew Harrison wouldn't have just wandered away, not without sending word to Chris or Laurie. And the fact that the car was still where he had parked it, meant he would have walked. At a loss for an explanation, James had told the investigators they just had to get on with the job.
Returning to his office, James had called an old friend, Walter Gustavo. He had served with Walter in the army and after quitting that, Walter had joined the Honeyport police force; the two old friends occasionally shared information and helped each other out. Sharing as little information as possible about his ongoing case, James had reported Harrison missing, knowing there wasn't a lot Walter would be able to do.
Now four days later, James was in Kate's kitchen, waiting for her to speak after hearing the latest goings on.
"So... you think this is related?" Kate asked in confusion.
James turned away from the door and looked down at the seated doctor. "I... really don't know. But I would assume so." He took a seat at the dining table. "Harrison doesn't make enemies on the cases he works on. He taps phones usually, or does computer... stuff."
"But... I thought..." Kate was frowning, unable to comprehend this turn of events. "I thought this was just a stalker. You know... an unstable person who was sending me letters and packages and calling my house. Does this happen? Do stalkers usually progress to kidnapping? Is Janet safe? Does she need someone watching over her?"
"Kate, I... wish I could answer your questions, I really do," James sighed, brushing a hand through his silver hair. "I'll have a word with Janet. I'll warn her to be more cautious and alert, more aware of her surroundings and all that. I don't think she's in any danger though."
"But you don't know!" Kate yelled, voice laced with panic.
"No, I don't. But then, I also don't know if Harrison going missing is to do with this case. We looked over the car, Kate. There was nothing amiss. No signs of a struggle, no note to let us know he's been taken. Harry was just... gone."
With a trembling hand, Kate pushed her auburn hair away from her face. "So what now? What... do we do now?"
"We carry on with the job," James said calmly. "I've been in touch with Walter and told him that I have an investigator missing, he'll keep an eye out and an ear to the ground. Other than that... we just... have to get on with things."
"Did... does Harrison have family?" Kate asked.
"Just his parents," James replied softly. "I've been in touch. They... don't know what it is we do. They think he was out on a call for a computer problem. It's being treated as a normal missing person's case."
* * * * *
Wednesday, 9th December
With December came a steep drop in temperature. A biting wind wasn't uncommon during the winter and was usually accompanied by a lot of snow or sleet, the temperatures plunged to below minus and people opted to stay in rather than venture out.
Honeyport was normally quiet in the winter months. With the tourists staying away, a lot of the businesses in town shut down for the holidays. The town was very festive, however, during the Christmas season. Decorations and Christmas trees graced every shop front, while decorations and colourful lights were wrapped around lamp posts. It put everyone in the Christmas mood and lit many faces with a smile.
Kate got incredibly busy at her practice, a lot of patients coming in with colds or the flu. Kate had got in a small artificial tree for her practice and decorated it with a bit of tinsel and some white lights. Fran hung tinsel along the edges of pictures and the mirrors and a string of reindeer pictures along the reception desk. Kate also put up her six foot artificial tree at home and decorated her house, inside and out. With lights on the roof and in the windows, she joined her neighbours in making the street one of the best decorated in town.
Despite her worries, the doctor had still managed to go Christmas shopping and bought gifts for the investigators. She had spent so long with them, she considered them friends and had a good idea what to get each of them.
With the drop in temperature, Charley refused to remain outside Kate Levens' house. The night-time temperature was just too cold. Instead, he sat in the kitchen watching the back, while Chris stood in the living room watching the front. Every couple of hours, Charley would venture outside for a quick sweep.
Harrison was still missing. Laurie had exhausted her contacts and Walter hadn't turned up anything either. The investigators had done everything they could to trace their missing brother, going on the only bit of evidence they had - a small patch of blood stained snow, that they couldn't actually prove was Harrison's.
* * * * *
Janet sat with Mia in the diner, each of them with a cup of hot chocolate in front of them. They had spent the day, so far, Christmas shopping and were now taking a breather. "So, have you decided on what to get Trinity?" Janet asked, wrapping her hands around her mug.
Mia rolled her eyes. "I've got no idea. And she's no help! Every time I bring it up, she just tells me to get anything, as long as I buy it and wrap it with love."
Janet laughed. Her friend had this problem every year. "Have you told her what you would like?"
"No! Why should I help her, if she's not going to help me?"
Janet laughed again and shook her head at the couple's antics.
"What about you? Are you buying your... friend a present?" Mia asked saucily.
The policewoman rolled her eyes. "I don't know where I stand, Mia. I haven't spoken to her since..."
"...the kiss on Thanksgiving," her friend finished.
"What if I'm seeing and hearing only what I want?" Janet asked quietly. "What if I've read too much into the things she says?"
"Honey," Mia soothed, reaching across the table for the other woman's hand. "Calm down."
They fell silent as they each sipped at their hot drinks.
"If you want my honest opinion," the raven-haired woman started, "you're not imagining anything. I mean, come on! She kissed you back, right?"
Janet smiled down at her mug. "She did."
Mia smiled at the look on her best friend's face. "So... she's a good kisser then?" she asked softly.
"Yeah," Janet answered dreamily. "She was so... soft and... gentle." She looked up at Mia. "And her hands were tenderly caressing my back beneath my sweater..." Janet trailed off, the smile slipping away. "Oh, God, Mia! I don't think I can handle having just that one taste of her! What do I do if she doesn't want more than that? What do I do, Mia?"
The reporter took Janet's hands into her, trying to calm her. "Jan, I know what I'm about to say is going to be hard, but..." she took a deep breath, as Janet waited. "You just have to wait."
Janet sighed heavily, not happy with the answer she got from her friend. She turned her attention outside, watching a mother pushing a pram in front of her, while dragging another child behind, looking stressed out. How long do I wait? she pondered.
"When are you going to your mum's again?"
"Tonight. I have to help with the Christmas card list. God knows why we have to send one to every one of her patients!"
Mia laughed. "Ahhh... the joys of being a successful, popular, doctor in this town!"
Janet rolled her eyes. "Well, on top of the many patients, we shall also be sending a card to every family member. Why my mom can't just sign my name for me, I don't know!"
"Is uhh... Chris going to be there?"
Janet bit her bottom lip. "I don't know. Probably... I hope so."
"Well, if she is, you should ask where you two stand."
* * * * *
Chris was, as usual, standing in the doctor's living room when Janet walked in.
The investigator turned and smiled. "Hi."
"You don't mind if I put some music on, do you? I swear if I don't take a break from signing Christmas cards, I'll become Scrooge!"
Chris smiled politely and shook her head in response to the question, before turning back to look out the front window.
Janet slipped in the CD she'd been thinking of and smiled before sipping the wine she was holding. Slowly, she started swaying to the beat, her hips gently moving sensuously, her eyes closing as she lost herself in the song.
Chris turned around, her breath catching as she watched Janet sway. Unconsciously, she licked her lips as her eyes travelled slowly down Janet's body. She took in the curves that the figure-hugging, lilac turtleneck was accentuating, before continuing down to the swaying hips and muscular thighs that tight-fitting jeans were showing off. Oh... My... God!
At Chris' audible gulp, Janet turned in the investigator's direction and opened her eyes. Smiling a very sexy smile, she put down her wine glass and swayed over, dropping her arms around Chris' neck. "Dance with me."
"I... I uhh... I..."
Janet pressed in closer, still swaying. "Please?" she whispered.
Oh. My. God! Chris slid her arms around Janet's waist and smiled at the little gasp from the policewoman. Together they swayed, pressed tightly to each other, both of them having difficulty breathing normally as their hearts pounded and the air around them burned with sexual tension. They pulled slightly away from each other to lock eyes, their lips only a fingertip away from each other, their breaths mingling.
"I'm going out now," Charley called out, just before walking into the living room.
Chris jumped back, startled by the sound of his voice. I was going to kiss her! Jesus, Branagon, you're losing it! She swallowed. Leave with Charley. Leave and don't come back until Janet's gone or someone else is in the room. She turned to look over at Charley. "I... you uhh... need help with your winter gear?" It was a stupid question, but one that would get her out of the room if her colleague said yes.
Charley smiled, please with the attention, and nodded his acceptance.
Chris looked back at Janet, who had an eyebrow raised. "I have to..." she pointed over in Charley's direction. What is that I'm feeling? she wondered as she turned to follow Charley to the front door. Am I disappointed? Is that what this feeling is? I'm disappointed I didn't get to kiss her? Chris shook her head. The sooner this case is over, the better.
Things had been strained between the two investigators for a while after their discussion outside Charley's cabin. Charley couldn't understand why she wouldn't get back with him and Chris couldn't explain. The other investigators picked up on the tension between them and though they couldn't get an answer out of either of them, they had finally lost their patience with the pair and ordered them to work it out. So they met for lunch and had made peace.
At the front door, Charley got into his thick red winter coat, put on his woollen hat and one of his gloves.
"You look like you're going out into the arctic!" Chris joked.
"It's cold out there! Tonight it's going down below minus they say."
"Yeah, but you're from Scotland. I thought the Scots only ever got bad weather?"
Charley held up his left hand for her to put the glove on, liking the fact she had rushed out to help him, though he didn't really need it. "I'll be two minutes. Okay?"
"Do you want a cup of tea?"
"That would be nice."
Chris opened the door for him. "Take your time, make sure everything is as it should be." She closed the front door behind him then turned to walk through to the kitchen to put the kettle on. She leaned back against the cabinets and folded her arms, watching out the window for Charley's familiar bulk to go past.
Janet walked into the kitchen, eyes on the blonde.
"Hey, do you want tea?" Chris asked.
"No, thank you."
Charley waved as he appeared and indicated he would see her around the front.
He's not even doing a proper check! I know it's cold, but Kate could be in danger. And we still don't know what happened to Harrison! Chris thought, shaking her head. She filled two mugs with hot water and left the kitchen to open the front door.
* * * * *
"Quickly, Franklin. We have to get this going before the blonde returns to the kitchen."
"It's heavy, Judge!" the smaller man whined.
"Shut up whining and help me," Judge growled. "The sooner we get it going, the sooner we can stand back and watch the chaos."
* * * * *
"I need to use the bathroom," Charley told Chris, as soon as she opened the front door for him. He threw his coat and gloves to her as he hurried for the stairs.
"Is that why you didn't do a proper check?"
"Nag, nag, nag!"
Chris shook her head as she hung up Charley's coat, after stuffing his gloves into the pockets. She walked back towards the kitchen, turning sideways as Janet started to walk out of the kitchen at the same time. They both stopped in the doorway.
"Hey," Janet said softly, a small smile dancing along her lips.
"Hey, Janet." Danger! Danger! Back away from the police lady! Chris had started to move away, when Janet put a hand on her arm.
"You owe me a kiss."
"What?" Chris asked, startled. Janet looked up and Chris followed her gaze up to the hanging mistletoe.
"It's tradition." Standing so close together, their eyes kept shifting slightly as they looked at each other.
Chris studied every detail of the beautiful woman so close to her, seeing the faint freckles that dotted Janet's cheeks here and there, the golden flecks in her dark green eyes. You wanted to anyway. Just do it, you chicken! Chris swallowed, then smiling nervously, leaned in and kissed the other woman's cheek. She rushed away to finish making the tea, her cheeks beginning to burn crimson. I can't believe I did that! That's twice now, for God's sake! Taking out the tea-bags, she started stirring milk in. But that one doesn't compare to that unbelievable kiss we shared on Thanksgiving!
A whoosh of light outside stopped her from dwelling on it. Her mouth dropped open as she saw a flaming mass in Kate's back garden through the kitchen window. Chris turned and saw Charley walking back toward the kitchen. "GET TO KATE!" she shouted, as she rushed for the back door.
"Call the boss." She pulled out her stun gun and pepper spray and ran from the house.
Running towards the flaming mass on a cross, her feet slipped and skidded on the icy grass that covered Kate's back garden. She stumbled a few times, but managed to stay on her feet. Chris scanned the rear of the dark garden, not seeing anything or anyone near the pool. She reached for her walkie-talkie and couldn't find it. Shit! I've left it in the damn living room! She shivered as the cold, biting wind seeped through her sweater to chill her skin. She knew their guy could still be around, so she had to be careful. But at the same time, she had to be quick if she wanted to catch him.
Feeling the adrenalin pumping through her, Chris ran for the front of the house, her weapons out in front of her. At the front, she looked up that dark driveway for any sign of movement. Her breath came out her mouth in a white cloud in front of her as she tried to breathe slower. She looked for signs of someone else breathing, wondering if she would be able to spot it in the dark. Seeing nothing, the investigator slowly started to make her way up towards the gates searching through the trees as she passed them. She found nothing. When she stopped, she heard nothing. He was gone.
Chris made her way back to the side of the house, searching the ground closely with her flashlight. She found what she had hoped for halfway down. Alone and in the dark, Chris shivered because she didn't have her coat and had no way of calling Charley. She didn't dare move in case they lost the one piece of evidence they had.
"Chris?" Janet's soft voice called out.
"Down the side of the house," the blonde called back.
"I brought your jacket," Janet said, as she rounded the corner.
Chris turned and watched the policewoman approach. "Here, look at this."
Janet stopped beside the investigator and handed her the thick winter coat she held.
"Thanks," Chris said gratefully, slipping it on.
Janet watched Chris play the torch beam over a footprint in the mud. "How do you know it's not Charley's?"
"He walks close to the house. See?" Chris showed her the line of Charley's footprints.
"Oh. Uhm... your walkie-talkie is in your pocket, by the way."
Taking a deep breath, Chris pulled it out, knowing she was about to have a very pissed off Charley yelling at her. "Charley."
"GODDAMMIT, CHRIS! THAT WAS DAMN STUPID OF YOU!"
"Stop yelling, Charley. I know."
"And without your walkie or coat!"
"What if something had happened to you? How would I have known?"
"Janet wouldn't have found me."
"This isn't a fucking joke, Chris!"
"Charley, I'm really sorry, okay. Listen, I've got a footprint out here."
"The boss is on his way. He's not happy with you."
"Nag, nag, nag!" Chris responded, then handed the walkie-talkie to Janet. "Do you have a weapon with you?"
Chris handed over her pepper spray. "How's your mum?"
Janet smiled. "Drinking your tea."
The blonde laughed.
"Did you look around?" Janet asked quietly, feeling exposed.
"Yeah. I didn't spot anything. But then that doesn't mean he's not out here."
Janet looked around, her eyes stopping on the still burning mass on the cross. "Do you... do you think that's a real body?"
"No. This guy's a nut, but I don't think he's a killer."
"He killed Tigger."
"Tigger?" Chris frowned.
Shit, forgot about that! "You should go back in. It's freezing out here."
Janet shook her head. "I'm all right. Charley told me to come and keep you out of trouble." She smiled sweetly.
"Thanks for caring," Chris replied, sporting a smile of her own.
* * * * *
James soon arrived with Walter Gustavo. The officer put out the flaming mass with a fire extinguisher he kept in his car boot, while James entered the house to talk to Kate. Once the fire was out, Walter studied the scene. James walked out of the house and up to Chris, yelling at her out of fear.
"Boss, I know it was stupid, but I thought we had a good chance of catching him."
"That's not a good enough reason, Chris! You ran from the house alone. What if he was out here?"
"I would have taken him down."
"We don't know what's he's capable of. He put down Charley, for God's sake!"
"We got a footprint," Chris pointed out.
"Yes, Charley told me. That's still not going to stop me from yelling at you!"
"Excuse me, James," the officer interrupted. He was maybe ten years younger than James, with black hair swept back on his head and a five o'clock shadow on his face.
"What is it, Walter?" James growled.
"It's a body."
James turned to frown at the younger man. "A body?"
"Yep. Looks like maybe your guy hooked the poor sonofabitch up, then whoosh."
"Oh, God!" James muttered. He turned to look at Chris. "I want you and Charley to go out through the front door and search around. He's managed to bring... this onto the property, we might get lucky and find something else."
"That body... it's not... it couldn't be..." Chris stuttered, eyes on the body..
"Chris, go and do your job!" James knew she had to concentrate right now.
The blonde nodded and as she straightened her shoulders, at least grateful that his anger at her had passed for now. She walked past him and towards the back door.
"We can make a mould of that footprint," she heard Walter say before she entered the kitchen. Standing inside, she looked around at Janet, Kate and Charley.
"What's the news?" Charley asked.
"We've got to go and look around out front," she told her colleague.
"What about Kate and Janet?"
Chris rubbed her cold hands together and shrugged. "Ask the boss."
Charley walked out into the back garden, while Chris sat the table.
"Janet said you found a footprint," Kate said, her voice laced with fear. Chris nodded as the doctor's green eyes turned from the cross to the investigator. "Will you be able to use it as evidence?"
Chris nodded again.
"Wh-... what was it he set on fire?"
Chris looked into the doctor's tired eyes. "We don't know yet."
"Chris..." Charley said, as he walked back in, James following him. She stood up and walked over to both of them.
James looked at the pair. "Be careful out there. He may still be lurking around. "I'll stay here with Kate and Janet."
Janet stood up and followed the two investigators to the front door. Charley walked outside, but Chris was stopped by a tug on her sleeve. She turned and looked at a worried looking Janet. "Be careful," the policewoman said softly.
Chris offered the other woman a small smile. "Do me a favour?"
Janet tilted her head to the side, waiting for Chris to ask.
"Go keep warm, keep an eye on your mum, and before you know it, I'll be back."
I can't. I can't promise. But look at her, she's really worried. "Yeah, I promise." Chris walked out of the house and up to Charley, the two investigators heading up the dark driveway towards the gates.
"If Kate hadn't salted this driveway earlier, maybe the dunder heid would have slipped and fallen on his arse!" Charley commented.
Chris grinned. "I don't know what we would do with an arseprint," she joked.
Charley laughed and glanced at her. His smile vanished as quickly as it appeared. "I was really worried when ye run out, lass."
She gave him her eyes briefly. "I was really worried when you got cracked on the head. Guess we're even now, huh?"
"It's not the same. He came up behind me. You went looking for him!"
They reached the gate and waited as it opened. "Where should we start?" Chris asked, frowning as she looked around the quiet street.
"Maybe we should walk up and down the street and see if we spot anyone hanging around suspiciously?"
Chris nodded. "Sounds like a plan." Outside on the pavement, they stood side by side, silent and watchful. Chris looked each way, not spotting anything. "You take the right, I'll go left."
"Wait, Chris. We shouldn't split up," Charley protested.
She gave in, knowing that to argue would just waste time. They walked down the street together, searching for any sign of something that didn't belong, using their torches to light their way in the darkness, the lamp posts near Kate's property seemingly broken.
"How long have these lights not been working?" Chris asked, frowning up at the useless light.
"I'm not sure. We both work down at the house, we wouldn't notice," Charley replied.
"We should get in touch with the council, tell them to send someone out."
The taller investigator nodded his agreement. "Are you uhm... seeing anyone?" he asked suddenly, breaking the silence that had fallen between them.
"Charley, for God's sake!" Chris exclaimed, spinning to face him. "Someone has been set on fire in Kate's back garden, all the while we were there! You didn't do your damn job! Kate could have been... and all you can think about is our damn situation!" she finished angrily.
Charley looked properly chastised and continued his search of the street until they reached the end of the road and crossed over to walk back down the other side. "You didn't answer," he finally said, desperate to know.
Chris sighed and shook her head. "No. I'm not seeing anyone, Charley."
"Neither am I." He looked at her, waiting for a response that didn't come. "Chris, I don't understand why we cannae..."
"Charley, please, not now. All right?"
"Look," she snapped gruffly. "I have this really bad feeling that... that body was... Harrison."
Charley stopped Chris with a tug on her arm. "Hey, ye don't know that, Chris." He pulled her into an embrace. "Don't worry needlessly, okay?"
She nodded, relishing the warmth of his embrace, his strong arms around her, enabling her to forget for a couple of blissful minutes. Pulling back from him, she sighed. "Come on, let's get back before the boss calls out his army mates," she joked.
They got back to Kate's electronic gates and stopped. "Now what?" Chris asked, not ready to admit defeat.
"How about we search among the trees?"
"Sure, why not?"
Charley got in touch with the Colonel and had the gates opened for them. Back on Kate's property, the gates shut securely behind them, the two investigators split up to search among the trees. Chris went left, while Charley went to the right. With only the beam of their torches to go on, they had to pay attention, not wanting to miss something that could be important. Slowly, they worked their way deeper into the trees.
Charley frowned as he spotted something familiar. "Hey, Chris. I found something," he called out to her.
Chris hurried over and knelt down, picking up Harrison's lucky pocket knife. "Why didn't we find this the other week?"
Charley shook his head. "We should have. We would have. It... it must have been dropped it tonight."
Chris stood up quickly, turned, and ran back towards Kate's house.
"Chris!" Charley ran after her, easily catching up. He took her hand and together they ran for the front door.
* * * * *
James opened the door and frowned out at his investigators. "What is it? What's going on?"
Chris handed him Harrison's pocket knife. "We found that in the trees."
"Why didn't we find this before?" James asked the same question Chris had already asked.
"We would have boss," Charley replied. "This must have..." he trailed off and glanced at Chris.
James looked at Chris as well. "Go upstairs and do your check."
"Don't argue, Chris," James said sternly. He knew Chris, she was like family in his eyes, he knew she would want to go out and kick butt. He had to keep her focused until they had an actual target. "Look, I know you probably want to go out there and hunt him down, but the reality is he's probably long gone by now."
"Or maybe he isn't," Chris protested. "A lot of these nuts like to stay and watch!"
"Chris, babe," Charley tried to calm her down, reaching for her arm.
She shrugged away from him. "I can't believe you want to sit back!" she snapped. "It's possible that he's killed Harrison! It's possible that Ha-... that could be Harrison in the garden!"
"Chris, please, go upstairs and do your check." James' eyes pleaded with her.
Knowing she wasn't going to change his mind, Chris angrily stormed upstairs. She walked along the hall, fuming that her boss and Charley weren't as angry as she was over the whole situation. First a dead cat at Kate's door, then a heart in the mail. He attacked Charley, now Harrison is missing! She walked into the back bedroom and looked out the window, looking down at the blackened mass on the cross. Her stomach clenched. Please don't let that be Harry. He never hurt a damn fly! He doesn't deserve this!
"Are you all right?"
Chris stiffened at the sound of Janet's soft voice behind her. She turned to look at the young policewoman, noting the concern on her face. You shouldn't care about me. Where I go, trouble follows.
"Do you want some company?" Janet asked softly.
Chris shook her head and turned back to look out of the window.
Janet walked over to the blonde and stopped beside her. "We... were told it's a body," she said quietly. "But I'm sure Harrison is fine, Chris." She looked at Chris, taking in the tense shoulders, the clenched jaw, her hands on the window-sill, knuckles white. She imagined herself being in the investigator's arms, safe and protected, secure in Chris' strong embrace. God, Janet! Her friend is missing and all you can think about is being with her! They stood in silence. Chris' eyes never leaving the body on the cross. "I feel the same way you do. I want to go out there and take this fight to him," Janet finally said, taking the pepper spray Chris has given her out of her pocket.
"Leave me alone."
Chris turned to face the policewoman. "Look, I know this is your mum he's messing with, so you have the right to be here. But leave me alone. All right? I don't need you following me around like a lost puppy, fawning over me with your doe eyes. I'm not interested, so back off!" She walked past Janet, ignoring the hurt look, and headed to the bedroom across the hall.
"Why are you being like this?" Janet asked, as she followed. "Why are you suddenly being nasty?"
"Why do you want to be around me?" Chris asked, not answering Janet's questions. "People around me die!"
"This isn't your fault, Chris. Your family dying wasn't your fault. As for Helen, that was a tragic accident. What if you hadn't fired and it was the guy? He would have killed you, Chris!" Janet slowly approached, again stopping next to the investigator. She looked at the deeply troubled, sad, young woman and ached to hold her, wanting to protect her and tell her everything would be all right.
"I have to do my check."
"Is this what you did to Charley? Is this how you pushed him away?" Janet asked quietly.
Chris checked the locks on the windows in front of her, the only light coming from down in the garden. She turned to look at Janet, wanting to run, wanting to be far away from the woman who made her feel things she didn't want to feel.
"It wasn't your fault, Chris," Janet repeated. She pulled Chris' pepper spray out of the back of her trousers and held it out. "Thanks for the loan," she said with a small smile. Their hands brushed against each other as Chris took the spray, their eyes intense on each other, locked, unbreakable. Take a chance, Levens, Janet thought, taking a step forward.
Chris realised what was about to happen and stepped back. "I have to... finish my check."
Janet knew she had to let Chris go and figure out what she was feeling, despite the fact she ached to just hold the blonde. "Sure," she said softly, watching Chris hurry out of the bedroom.
* * * * *
Chris finished her check and reluctantly headed back downstairs. Going into the living room, she avoided looking at Janet, instead walking straight over to the window and looking out into dark front garden.
"I want you two here in the living room tonight," James insisted, looking at Chris' back, then at Charley. "Do not leave each other's sides."
"Where are you going to be, boss?" Charley asked, looking in Chris' direction. He frowned as he saw the expression on her face reflected back in the glass.
"I'll cover the kitchen."
"What's going on with the... body?" Chris asked, not looking back.
"Walter's called in his team." James followed Kate and Janet out of the living room, as the doctor retreated to make tea and coffee for everyone.
Turning from the window, Chris walked over to the sofa and took a seat, letting out a deep, troubled breath.
Charley stood watching her, worried about her. "I'm sure Harrison is fine, lass," he told her, thinking that was what she looked freaked out about.
Chris looked up. "Yeah, so where is he?"
"This guy is a nut case, Chris. But I don't think he's a killer."
"He killed the damn cat, Charley!" she muttered.
He sat down next to her and took her hand. "If he's turned killer... things are going to get nasty," he said quietly.
Chris squeezed his hand, silently agreeing.
To be continued...
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