The Message Chapter 12
Author’s Note: Thank you to all of you who have been taking time to give me feedback about the story so far. I’m sorry it has taken me so long between postings but I got very wrapped up in things like work, the SEC women’s basketball tournament and then the NCAA tournament. Pat and my Lady Vols were on a roll!! But back to the story … it will eventually contain a “loving” relationship between two women. The characters, town and storyline are all products of my imagination. Although Tennessee is “really” a state!
April 2007 © J.A. Breeze
By J.A. Breeze
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Jennifer looked up in shock as Tessa barged into her office.
Tessa stormed to where Jennifer sat at her desk and threw a folded piece of paper down in front of her. “Explain this to me, you bitch!”
Jennifer knew from experience that Tessa was out of control and reasoning with her was not likely. She decided not to even try as she rose to her feet and planted her hands flat on the desk. She leaned forward almost nose to nose with Tessa who had assumed a similar position on the other side of the desk.
“You have disrupted my life and threatened me for the very last time,” Jennifer clipped in a deadly calm voice. “I suggest you get out of my office now before I have you thrown out on your ass.”
“Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?” Tessa growled as she clamped a hand around Jennifer’s neck and squeezed. “You need to remember your place before it’s too late. I promise you that you are going to regret this.”
Jennifer struggled to control her raging emotions. At one time not that long ago Tessa’s touch had set her on fire with need. But now the woman’s touch disgusted her. Made her skin crawl where once waves of desire trickled along her flesh.
“Let me make something perfectly clear to you,” Jennifer chopped her words making sure Tessa heard each one. “I am finished with your games. I am finished with you. And if you don’t want to find yourself in a jail cell, I suggest you take your hands off me and get out of my face right now.” Jennifer wrapped her hand around Tessa’s wrist and squeezed to emphasize her point. Tessa resisted as Jennifer attempted to pull her hand from her neck.
They strained into each other across the desk. So close Jennifer could feel Tessa’s breath on her face. Their eyes locked. Neither willing to give in.
“I want you to get your hands off me now,” Jennifer hissed as she squeezed and pulled harder at the offending grip.
Jennifer barely noted Maria’s shocked expression as she entered the office and quickly turned away. She knew it would only be a matter of minutes before security would come to her rescue.
“You are not going to get rid of me so easily,” Tessa cooed as she brought her face closer and closer to Jennifer’s. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is love you. Why can’t you see that?” Tessa questioned as she planted her lips firmly on Jennifer’s.
The kiss was punishing, brutal. Jennifer clamped her lips together refusing to open to Tessa’s assault. “Why must you resist me? I’m everything you need.” Tessa moved her lips to Jennifer’s cheek and then to her neck. Still maintaining a solid hold on her neck. “You will always be mine,” Tessa cooed into her ear and then kissed and bit the lobe.
When Jennifer felt a firm squeeze on her breast, chills of revulsion shook her body. She resolved not to suffer further abuse. “You’re crazy! You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. I don’t want you. You make me sick! Do you hear me? You make me sick.” Realizing that Tessa would never leave her alone as long as she appeared weak, Jennifer clamped both hands around Tessa’s wrist and pulled breaking the woman’s hold on her neck.
She noted the look on Tessa’s face—the look of a woman who had totally lost touch with reality. “I’m sorry Tessa. I really didn’t want it to be this way.” Jennifer motioned two security officers forward who had entered the room behind Tessa. Maria followed close on their heels.
“I’m fine, Maria,” Jennifer said acknowledging the concern written on her assistant’s face. “Call Jake Jacobson at the Wilmington Police Department and tell him what’s happened here.” Maria nodded her head in confirmation that she understood and left the room to do Jennifer’s bidding.
With the entry of the men, Tessa had gone completely still and silent. She stared at Jennifer, never moving her eyes. Jennifer felt chills spread from the back of her neck, down her arms as she looked into the other woman’s cold, blue gaze.
“Now, guys. I’d like for you to hold this woman until the police get here. I will be pressing charges.” Jennifer locked eyes with Tessa as she made her intentions clear to the woman. The two men moved to Tessa, one on each side, taking an arm.
“You may think you’re done with me, but this is only the beginning,” Tessa hissed as the men pulled her toward the office door. “I promise you everyone is going to know about you and you are going to regret this!”
Jennifer stepped from behind her desk and walked over to Tessa. She stopped within inches of the taller woman. Tilted her head back and looked her adversary straight in the eyes.
“Let me make something perfectly clear to you. I don’t give a rat’s ass what you tell people. Nothing that I could endure from anyone else could possibly match the hell you have put me through. Now, I want you out of my life and out of my sight for good. Do you understand me?”
“Let me make something perfectly clear to you,” Tessa responded. “I make you this promise. You will regret this day,” Tessa screamed as she attempted to lunge for the smaller woman.
The security officers tightened their hold on her arms and yanked her away from the publisher. Tessa continued to fight as they dragged her from the room.
“We’ll keep her in the security office until the police get here. Are you sure you’re okay?” the oldest of the two, the head of security for the newspaper, asked.
“Yes, Robert, I’m fine. Just get her out of my sight.”
Once she was alone, Jennifer felt the trembles begin. Her knees grew weak and she collapsed into her chair. That was the way Maria found her when she returned. Seeing the stricken look on the younger woman’s face, Maria didn’t hesitate as she made her way to her boss and friend.
Lost in a daze Jennifer was startled by the other woman’s touch and pulled back in reflex but when she looked into the caring, compassionate eyes of her longtime assistant, she relaxed allowing her hurt to show.
“It’s over now, honey. It’s going to be okay,” Maria soothed as she pulled Jennifer into the comfort of her arms. “The police will be here soon and I know it’s going to be just fine.”
“Thank you, Maria,” Jennifer said as she pulled back, denying herself the luxury of falling apart. “You must think I’ve completely lost it.”
“I’ve known you a long time and I’d like to do what I can to help. That woman really scared me. I thought she was going to hurt you.”
“This is simply an ugly chapter of my life that it’s time to close. I promise you she’s hurt me for the last time.”
Ever since she had received the call from Matt saying he had some important information to share, Casey had been pacing back and forth in her office.
“Where in the hell is he? He should have been here by now,” she grumbled as she paced. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, a knock sounded at the door. Casey yanked it open startling the man on the other side.
“What in the hell took you so long?” she snapped.
“Casey, it’s only been an hour and just as I was about to come here I got another piece of information. I had no idea you’d be so eager for my report.”
Realizing that she had probably gone overboard, Casey gave herself a mental shake as she prepared to apologize.
“I’m sorry, Matt. I’m just eager to get this case wrapped up. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to resolve this whole mess.”
“It’s okay. I understand so don’t worry about it. But I’m not sure you’re going to like some of the things I learned today.”
“Please sit and tell me what you know so far.” She gave him a warm smile and lightly squeezed his arm as she moved by him to sit at her desk.
Courtney and her friend, Sarah, left dance class and started across the street to CJ’s Records to kill time while they waited for Sarah’s mother to pick them up. She couldn’t get there until five-thirty, which usually gave the girls half an hour in the store. They enjoyed listening to some of their favorite music on days they had to wait for Sarah’s mother.
They were laughing and talking animatedly about the new routine they had worked on for the last few days as they walked along the street.
“Did you see Carolyn miss that last turn and land on her ass?”
“Sarah, you’re terrible. Anyone can miss a step now and then.”
“Yeah, but she’s such a showoff I enjoy seeing her brought down a notch or two.”
“I’m not going to say anything because I don’t think I got all of those steps together one time. I felt like I had two left feet.”
Two men were standing near the entrance to the record store. A black van was parked along the street in front of them. They kept a discreet eye on the girls as they approached. But didn’t look at them directly.
“It’s the blonde,” one said as the girls drew closer.
“Hey, not so fast little lady. I need to talk to you,” the taller of the men said as he grabbed Courtney’s arm from behind.
Courtney struggled to free herself from the stranger’s grasp. But it was no use. He was much too strong for the girl.
“Get your hands off of me. Let me go,” she cried. The more she struggled the tighter the man gripped her arm as he pushed her toward the waiting van.
“We’re not going to hurt you. We’re just gonna take a little ride,” the man hissed at Courtney. As she struggled to get free, he wrapped a strong arm around her waist and lifted her off the ground.
Sarah, frozen in shock when the man grabbed Courtney, erupted into action. She lunged at him, attempting to break his hold on her friend.
“Let her go,” she screamed as she pummeled his back with her fists. “Someone help us! Please help us!” she screamed. The second man grabbed Sarah and slung her around. She reeled in pain as he backhanded across the face. She was stunned and helpless. Lying crumpled on the ground. Whimpering in pain.
A stranger who heard the girls’ cries started in their direction. But it was too late. The side door to the black van opened and Courtney’s attacker threw her inside, following closely behind.
“Please help me!” Courtney screamed over and over. “Please, somebody, help me!”
The last thing Sarah saw was the horror on Courtney’s face as she begged for help and reached a hand pleadingly in her direction. And then the doors to the van slammed closed with Courtney and the three men inside.
“Help, help. My God somebody help us. They’re taking her,” Sarah sobbed brokenly as she watched the van turn a corner and speed out of sight.
The woman, who had rushed to help the girls, gathered Sarah into her arms. She held her close and rocked her back and forth as she whispered soothing words to the inconsolable teen.
“My God, I can’t believe that just happened. Is she okay?” a man asked as he rushed out of a nearby store. He had already dialed Wilmington 911 dispatch asking for help.
The confrontation with Tessa had left Jennifer feeling exhausted. She knew it was time to regain control of her life. She had every intention of seeing to it that Tessa was charged with assault.
With that purpose in mind she waited for Officer Jacobson to arrive to take her statement. It felt like hours but in reality less than half an hour had gone by when the officer arrived.
Security turned Tessa over to the police and she was transported to the Wilmington Police Department. Officer Jacobson stayed behind to take statements from anyone who witnessed the attack on the publisher. When questioned Jennifer she decided to cooperate fully, holding nothing back..
Jennifer gave him all of the sordid details. She described the events of the morning as clearly as she could and put the process in motion to bring criminal charges against Tessa.
Maria and a few others who worked near Jennifer’s office also gave statements. The officer said he was confident there was enough evidence to make the assault charge stick along with violation of the order of protection.
Jennifer was impressed by his thorough collection of information. He remained courteous throughout the interviews. But the words he spoke as he had left her office played over and over in her mind.
“Ms. Gibson, I think you should know that this is bound to get out. In fact I’d say it already has. You might want to prepare yourself.”
“Prepare myself. How in the hell am I going to do that?” Jennifer stood leaning against the widow with her shoulders slouched in defeat as she stared yet again out over the Tennessee River.
“My God. Are you sure?” Casey questioned as she listened to Matt’s description of what he had learned.
“Yes, I am certain. Every one of the projects trace back to a construction company here in Wilmington.”
“You’re certain they are all related?”
“Casey, it really wasn’t all that difficult to find the information. In fact it was much easier than I would have imagined when I started. But, yes, I’m certain it all traces back to right here.”
“Winston is just going to love this,” Casey said as she internally cringed at the idea of having to share that piece of information with her boss. “Were you able to determine just who in Wilmington is behind all of this?”
Casey knew that it wasn’t going to be good when the agent began to fidget in his chair and dropped his eyes from hers.
“Come on, Matt, spill it.”
“Okay. But I don’t think you’re going to like this either.”
“I may not but I do need to know so give it up.”
“Michael Gibson. It all traces back to the newspaper publisher’s husband.”
“Oh my God that is just freaking wonderful,” Casey said as she ran her hands agitatedly through her hair. “You’re sure about this. It traces to Michael Gibson.”
“I’m sure it traces to Michael Gibson’s company, but I’m not clear on whether he was directly involved. He does have a business partner.”
“We need to know for sure. Try to get me that information as quickly as possible.”
“There has been a teenage girl kidnapped from in front of CJ’s Records downtown,” Melinda Davidson said as she entered Jennifer’s office.
“My God that’s horrible,” Jennifer said as her face went deathly pale. “Do we know who she is?”
“Not yet. One of the reporters picked up on it from the police scanner and I have a team on the way there now.”
“Excuse me just a minute. I just want to check on Courtney. She has dance class near there and sometimes waits for her ride at the record store.”
Jennifer dialed her daughter’s cell. It rang four times and went to voicemail. “She’s not answering. Maybe I should just drive over there and check things out for myself.”
“I’m sure your daughter is fine but if I was you I’d want to know for sure. Want me to ride over with you?”
“That’d be great. Why don’t we both go remember what it’s like to report in the field?”
“Sherry and Chris will just think we’re checking up on them,” Melinda chuckled as she followed her boss out the door.
Casey was leaving her office to go talk to her boss when she met Officer Jacobson in the corridor. “Hello Jake. How’s it going?”
“It’s been a busy day. In fact I was just coming to see you. I thought you’d want to know that we had to arrest Tessa Halister this morning when she barged her way in at the newspaper and assaulted Jennifer Gibson.”
“Is Jennifer okay?” she asked noting that her heart rate had kicked up significantly.
“She is fine. Just some bruising on her neck where Halister grabbed her. Her security team got there quickly and held the woman until we got there. Of course we barely got her booked in before she made bail.”
“She seems to have plenty of financial resources so that doesn’t surprise me.”
“Ms. Gibson is pressing charges so maybe it will be enough to get this Halister woman to leave her alone.”
“We can only hope, Jake,” Casey said as she gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder. “But for some reason I wouldn’t want to bet on it.”
“I know what you mean there is definitely something not quite right about that woman.”
“Thank you for the way you handled this whole thing and I do appreciate you taking time to bring me up to date.”
“It’s not a problem. Glad to do it.” The officer started to turn and walk away when a call came over his radio.
“Any units in the vicinity of CJ’s Records at Elm Street, please respond. We have a two-oh-seven reported.”
“A two-oh-seven. That’s a kidnapping, right?” Casey questioned.
“Yes. And since we’re so close to the scene, I’m going to head on over there,” Jake said as he reached for his phone to call dispatch choosing not to use his radio. “This is Jacobson. I’m near CJ’s Records and will respond. Can you tell me anything further?”
Casey stood quietly as the officer listened to the information that she assumed was being relayed by the dispatcher. She could tell by his expression that what he was hearing wasn’t good. He confirmed her suspicions when he ended the call.
“You’re not going to believe this. According to the information we have, it is Jennifer Gibson’s daughter that has been kidnapped. I wonder if that Halister woman is somehow involved?”
“That’s just what I was thinking. You head on over to the scene and I’ll try to get hold of Jennifer and see what I can do.” Casey had already turned to go back into her office when she called back over her shoulder. “Be sure to let me know what you find out, okay?”
“Sure, Casey, I’ll let you know.”
Once in her office Casey grabbed her cell, scrolled to Jennifer’s number and began to dial. While she waited for an answer she collected her keys and headed out the door at a fast pace that quickly became a run when she reached the street and the call went to voicemail.
Love it? Hate it? Please let me know. This part gave me a lot of trouble as I tried not to go over the top. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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