For complete disclaimers see part 1.
NOTE: There are disturbing images in this part.
If you’d like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com. If you have suggestions or corrections, please don’t bother as that’s what my publisher’s editor is for.
Remmy stood off in the corner of the yard, a can of Dr Pepper in her hand, the two dogs at her feet, chewing on the small bones she’d brought them. She glanced up, watching the gathered crowd, all talking and laughing with each other. She felt completely uncomfortable, never one for large crowds, and certainly not one for strangers. When had she gotten so shy? She remembered a time when she and Monica would walk into a bar or club, and she owned the place. But then, guess that’s easy to do when you’re higher than a kite or drunk off your ass. She was neither.
She’d actually been really surprised when Matt Wilson had come to the store and had invited her to his sister’s barbecue. He said all she needed to bring was herself and a hearty appetite. So, here she sat, entertaining the dogs. That was a lie- they were entertaining her, keeping her from feeling like too much of an outcast. She glanced up periodically, eyes always finding Julie, who held a bottle of beer lazily between two fingers, listening intently to what an older, plump man was telling her. Remmy smiled in reaction to Julie’s boisterous laughter.
Remmy was startled by the voice that suddenly appeared by her side. Grace grinned down at her, a handsome man by her side. Remmy realized they had come in through the back fence, which was just behind her lawn chair.
“Hey!” she said, relief at a familiar face washing through her. She stood and accepted Grace’s tight hug. “What are you doing here?”
“Thought we’d crash it,” Grace said, her voice dry. She grinned when Remmy rolled her eyes. “Rem, this is my husband, Chris. Chris, Remmy the Wonder Girl.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Remmy. I’ve heard so much about you,” the man said, taking Remmy’s hand and shaking it with a firm touch.
“You, too, Chris. Sorry I kept Grace away so much.”
Chris laughed, full and rich. He liked this girl. “Not a problem.” He headed over toward the patio, Grace lagging behind. Her eyes had turned serious.
“I need to talk to you later, Remmy,” she said, then hurried to catch up with her husband. Remmy raised her pop in salute, then sat back down in her chair. Bonnie and Clyde had taken off, wanting the new arrivals’ attention.
“Thanks, guys,” she muttered, crossed an ankle over her knee. She looked around the yard, already turning a deep, healthy green. Flowers had been planted, fresh, dark soil announcing their presence. She noted the hose wrapped and hung on a hook mounted on the six foot privacy fence at the back of the yard. She also noted, with a smile, the new shed she’d helped Julie put up two weeks ago. It had been a long, arduous task, but a rewarding one.
“Hey, Miss Anti-Social,” Julie said, her voice soft as she walked over to Remmy, squatting down next to her. She picked up one of the bones the dogs had left, holding it up with a raised brow. Remmy grinned sheepishly. “Why don’t you come over and join us? I know a lot of people really want to talk to you.”
Remmy nodded. Part of the reason she was being ‘Miss Anti-Social’. “I’m just observing.”
“I see. Well, would you like to chew on a hotdog or a hamburger while you ‘observe’?”
Julie rolled her eyes, pushing to her feet. “You can put your own condiments on it,” she growled, playfully swatting Remmy on the arm. Remmy watched her go, easily mixing with the throng of invited barbecue guests. She hadn’t spent a great deal of time with Julie, really only helping her around the house- the painting and then the shed. Julie swore she wasn’t just using Remmy for her muscle. In truth, Remmy didn’t mind in the least.
After a few moments, Julie returned, a paper plate filled with two hotdogs, snuggled in buns balanced on her hand, her other hand carrying a bottle of ketchup and mustard. She handed the plate to Remmy and fitted the two condiment bottles into the thick grass near the legs of her chair. “Okay, what else can I get you? Another soda?” she asked, indicating the can in Remmy’s hand. “Chips? Fruit salad?”
Remmy grinned, shaking her head at just how solicitous Julie was. “No, thank you. You don’t have to wait on me, Julie.”
“I know But I want you to feel comfortable. I hate seeing you sit over here all by yourself.” Julie sat in the grass in front of Remmy’s chair, legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles, leaning back on her hands.
“I’m always by myself, Julie. Really, it’s nothing new.” Remmy picked up first the ketchup, applying a generous amount to both hotdogs, then a wee stream of mustard.
Julie studied her, head slightly cocked to the side. “Why are you such a loner? Just naturally your personality?”
Remmy chewed on her first bite, thinking about the question before swallowing the food down with a drink of her pop. With a shrug she answered. “Always have been. Guess it comes from moving around so much. After my cousin and I went our separate ways years back, it was just me.” She met Julie’s gaze. “Guess I just got used to it.”
“A rolling stone gathers no moss, Rem.”
Remmy smiled, liking the shortened version of her name on Julie’s lips. “Hmm. And the static deer shall grow stagnant.”
Julie’s brows drew. “What?”
Remmy chuckled. “No clue. My mom used to say that when I was a kid.”
“Are you close with your mom?” Julie accepted the torn half of the second hotdog Remmy offered her, chewing slowly.
“Nope. I haven’t seen her since I was a teenager.” Remmy swallowed the last of her lunch, washing it down with the remainder of her Dr Pepper.
Remmy was saved from answering and going into the whole story when Grace stepped up beside Julie, causing the petit blonde to have to look way up to look into the silhouette that was the dark woman’s face. “Hey, guys,” the detective said, squatting next to a grateful Julie. Remmy gave her a small wave, Julie smiled in greeting. Grace looked from one to the other. “You know, I have to say, it’s a wonderful sight to see the two of you together, in person.” Her smile was big and genuine.
Julie returned the smile, reaching over and taking Remmy’s hand, squeezing it gently. “It’s been wonderful to get to know Remmy in person, and not just in a dream.” She looked over at Remmy, and they shared a private smile, no explanation necessary.
Grace watched them, their bond apparent even to her cynical self. The connection between the two women was palpable. Seeing how Remmy was with the flesh and blood Julie, she wondered how much torture that must have been for the brunette during the most trying times of the case, thinking Julie was dead, then finally the rescue. She cleared her throat, remembering why she had interrupted in the first place. “Remmy, there’s someone here who would like to speak to you.”
Pam was busy chatting with some guy who she didn’t even know the name of, but thought he was pretty interesting. She still held onto the paper plate that her lunch had sat on, now only a few crumbs from the chips and a pickle she decided she hadn’t wanted.
“I don’t know,” the man was saying. “I think the dentistry industry has gone somewhat down hill. Hell, my dentist steps in for about three seconds to tell me that his assistant will be taking care of me, then poof!” he widened his eyes and hands for effect. “He’s gone.”
Pam chuckled, hearing it all the time. “Yeah, then he gets to take home six figures while we fight over squat.” Pam was interrupted by a touch on her shoulder. She turned to see Detective Cowan standing next to her, a young woman at her side. She eyed the girl, wondering who she was.
“Pam, I’d like to introduce you Remmy Foster. Remmy, this is Pam Beecham.” Grace stood between both women, a hand on either shoulder.
Pam looked into the blue eyes of the beautiful young woman standing not three feet away from her. Her life-hardened eyes softened, and without a word, she took Remmy into her arms, holding her tightly for a long moment before releasing her, but she held her at arm’s length. A smile softened Pam’s jaded features.
“Honey, this is one of the greatest introductions I’ve ever had,” she said, her voice soft. “I owe you my life, and I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
Remmy nodded, not sure what to say. She had no connection with this woman, though had a sneaking suspicion that she was one of the figures she’d seen, one of the women Julie was looking at. “You’re welcome, Pamela. I’m just glad we got you out of there in one piece.” Unlike Roxie.
Remmy sat yet again alone, the barbecue winding down. She sat on the front porch of the house, a bottle of water sitting between her feet. She rested her chin on her clasped hands, lost deep in thought. She was troubled, very troubled.
“Hey.” Julie sat on the stoop next to her friend, concern filling her green eyes. She had seen Grace take Remmy into the house, where they’d stayed for about an hour. When they’d come out again, Remmy’s eyes were stormy, her brow knit in deep concentration. Grace and her husband had stayed for a short time, then left with a tight hug to Julie, and a shoulder squeeze for Remmy.
Remmy almost missed the soft voice next to her. She glanced over. “Sorry.” She cleared her throat, trying to pull herself back into the present. “Did you need help cleaning up?”
Julie smiled, bumping Remmy’s shoulder lightly with her own. “No. You do know that your sole purpose is not to help me out around here, right?”
Remmy smiled, tipping her bottle of water and taking a long swallow.
“What’s wrong, Remmy?” Julie could feel it coming from the brunette in waves. She was worried, perhaps even scared.
Remmy sat for a moment, trying to decide if she wanted to talk about it. Did she want to talk about it with Julie? Glancing over at her, she saw so much caring in her eyes, felt just how much Julie wanted to be there for her. Turning away again, she explained. “Grace has asked me to help her out with anther case.”
Julie felt her heart gripped by an ice cold hand, the breath nearly knocked out of her. “Do you think you can do it?” she asked softly.
Remmy sighed heavily, shoulders slightly slumping. “I don’t know. I told Grace to give me the crime scene photos and I’d see if I can connect.”
Remmy shook her head. “I don’t know. I asked her not to tell me.” She smiled ruefully. “Don’t want any influence.”
“Remmy?” Julie reached a hand out, gently brushing dark strands of hair away from Remmy’s face, tucking them behind her ear. After a moment blue eyes met her own. So often when she’d been around Remmy, she had seen the haunted look in them, as though Remmy just looking at her made her want to cry. Those times made Remmy’s already ancient eyes seem positively ageless. “Can you do this?” she whispered.
“I don’t know. I mean, I connected with you, but-“
“I don’t mean your abilities, Remmy. You’re so wonderfully sensitive, no doubt you can do this. But, can you do this?”
Remmy sighed, leaning back on her hands, the cool cement of the porch under her palms “Guess we’ll find out, huh?”
Remmy sat on her bed, legs tucked under her. She opened the manila envelope Grace had dropped off to her at the store. Inside were eight by ten glossies of the crime scene Grace wanted help with. She took a deep breath, laying the six pictures out across her comforter.
The first picture was of a kitchen, dishes stacked in a strainer to dry next to the sink, a frying pan resting on the stove top, a dishtowel hung over the oven door’s handle. A glass sat on the counter, the remnants of what looked to be juice of some sort in it. A child’s highchair was tucked into the corner, near the back door.
Remmy’s gaze drifted down to the tiled floor, next to the almond-colored fridge. There was blood, a couple puddles, as though someone bleeding had been lying there.
The next picture showed one wall of the kitchen, a phone hanging on the wall, the light blue chord twisted. Next to the phone was a wooden frame with slanted shelves, as though for phone messages or notes. But what caught Remmy’s eye though, was the blood spatter. It was obvious someone had been hit, and hard.
The third picture brought a hand to Remmy’s mouth, leaving her to try and swallow down her nausea. It was a repeat of the first picture, although the body had not been removed, yet. The woman lay on her stomach, head facing to the side. Her eyes were open, and wide with fear. Blood stained her shirt to the point where the floral pattern could no longer be seen in places. Her feet were bare, jeans also stained with blood. Her hands were up by her face, the fingernails of her right hand chipped and torn. This woman had fought for her life.
Remmy set the picture aside, taking several deep breaths. She glanced over at the chair in the corner, and for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why she wished so badly Julie were sitting in it.
Taking several more breaths, Remmy turned back to the pictures. So far nothing had touched her, nothing had called out to her. She’d never attempted to get anything from photographs before, and wasn’t sure if she’d be able to. It was like she was able to send herself out, as there was nothing to reach back.
Blowing out a loud breath, she tossed the picture to the bed, grateful to get it out of her sight and out of her hands, which somehow felt dirty. She rubbed her fingers together, grimacing. She swore they felt wet and sticky. She even looked at them, wondering if Grace had spilled coffee or something on them before sliding them into the envelope. Nothing. She brought her fingers to her nose, closing her eyes as she inhaled. She gasped, eyes flying open. She looked at her fingers again, the coppery stench of blood still fresh in her nostrils.
Large hands, fingers spread, a small cut on the pad of the thumb. The glint of a ring on the pinky, large, bulky. Stained with blood. In the distance, the cry of a child.
Remmy gasped, grabbing onto the comforter underneath her to steady her. She heard something crumple and looked. Tucked into her right hand was another photograph. Taking several deep breaths, she flattened the paper out, smoothing its image. At the center of a photo was an empty play pen, a child’s toy lying on the carpet just beyond it.
Remmy followed Julie into another store, hoping that maybe this one would be the one. Julie glanced back at her shopping companion, chuckling at the bored look on her face.
“Oh, come on!” she said, tugging playfully in Remmy’s sleeve. “This isn’t that bad, Remmy. Jeez. You act as though we’ve been at this for a week.”
Remmy met her gaze, a dark brow raising. “We have.”
“Okay, so we have. But what can I do? If I’m going to start teaching this fall, I have to have clothes.”
“Uh, Julie?” Remmy said, dutifully following the blonde through racks of clothing.
“Yes, Remmy?” Julie said, holding a button up blouse for her to examine.
“Don’t you have clothes from last school year?”
Julie slowly hung the shirt back up, turning to face Remmy, unable to meet her gaze for a moment. Finally she met amused blue eyes, which quickly lost their smile at the seriousness in Julie’s. “I’ve lost a lot of weight since last year, Remmy,” she said softly. “I just can’t seem to put it back on. A lot of my clothes don’t fit me anymore.”
Remmy’s eyes softened immediately. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, glancing away. She felt cool fingers bring her face back until she met Julie’s gaze again. Julie’s smile nearly broke her heart. Why couldn’t she have prevented all of this? What good is her ability if she can’t stop things? Especially since she had seen Julie’s danger.
“Remmy?” Julie said, the fingers underneath Remmy’s chin turning into her hand cupping her cheek. “I’m not entirely sure what’s going through the brain specifically, but I know it has something to do with Sergio Venti. Am I right?” Remmy’s briefly downcast eyes told her all she needed to know. “I’m okay. Alright? I’m here, and you’re here, and everything is okay.”
Remmy nodded, doing her damndest to give Julie the bravest smile she could muster. Julie smiled in return, though it was more of a humoring one than that she actually believed Remmy for a minute.
“Come on. Help me find something to wear on my first day. Okay?”
A little while later, Julie’s trunk filled with bags and packages, they drove through Woodland, a comfortable silence filling the space. Remmy was still amused to be sitting in the passenger seat, thinking back to her last time: just entering Woodland, unsure what the future held for her, unsure if she’d even stay in the town. Not half an hour after getting out of the Miata, she had a job and a place to live at the Maple Tree.
“So, are you excited to start classes in August?” she asked, returning her attention back to the present. Julie was quiet so long Remmy wondered if she’d heard the question. Finally the blonde blew out a breath, but did not look at her passenger.
“Yes and no.”
Julie looked sheepishly over at Remmy. She felt stupid. “I still haven’t been to the school. I can’t-“ she cut herself off.
“I can’t pull into the parking lot. I haven’t been able to even go into the school.”
Remmy nodded, knowing that was where Julie had been abducted. “Have you tried?” she asked softly.
Julie nodded. “ A couple times. Shit, I park across the street, and can’t even turn into the lot.” She sighed, angry at herself. She felt a warm hand on her leg. Looking down at it, then following the arm until she was looking into Remmy’s eyes, hidden by her sunglasses. The hand squeezed lightly.
“Let’s go,” Remmy said quietly.
“Oh, no, Remmy. No, I can’t.” Julie felt a bit of panic flutter in her stomach, sweat beading between her breasts and her palms sticky on the steering wheel. The hand squeezed again.
Julie felt almost sick to her stomach as the car idled across the street from the school- her typical parking spot when she tried to convince herself that she could do this. She felt Remmy’s presence next to her, and that almost gave her the courage. Almost.
Remmy said nothing, instead studying Julie’s profile. She could feel how scared Julie was, and she wanted so badly to be able to take that away, but knew she couldn’t. This was a demon Julie had to face on her own, but she’d be with her every step of the way.
“Are you ready?” she said quietly, resting her hand on the back of Julie’s seat. Julie blew out a loud breath, nodding.
“I can do this.” She turned and looked at Remmy with pleading eyes. “Can’t I?”
Remmy smiled, shoving her sunglasses to the top of her head. She knew that Julie needed to see her eyes, needed to be able to read the confidence there. “Yes. You can.”
“Okay.” Julie pulled away from the curb, looking both directions about five times each.
“There’s no one coming, Julie,” Remmy murmured, amused at the stall tactic.
Julie grinned. She should’ve known better than to think she could get one over on Remmy. She pulled the small car onto the street, the entrance to the empty parking lot not twenty yards up. Her heart was racing, her lunch threatening to make an encore performance. She calmed slightly at the feel of Remmy’s hand returning to her leg, rubbing up and down, almost as though calming a skittish colt.
“You can do this,” Remmy said softly, watching Julie the entire time.
The sports car neared the entrance, Julie’s foot automatically slamming down on the break, almost shoving Remmy into the windshield. “Sorry,” she whispered, feeling the sting of fear behind her eyes.
“Don’t sweat it,” Remmy said, getting readjusted in her seat. “You can do this, Julie. You can.”
Julie let off the brake, the car lurching forward again. To a passerby, it looked as though Julie were getting a driving lesson as the car hiccupped its way through the final ten yards. Julie couldn’t watch as she hit her turn signal, signaling her turn into the parking lot.
Remmy felt the heat rolling off Julie in waves, her fear nearly all-consuming. She wondered for a moment if maybe they should abort. But, to her surprise, Julie pulled the car into the parking lot, easing the car to a stop diagonally across two spots. Glancing at her, Remmy realized it was because Julie had her eyes closed.
“Julie?” she said. No response. “Julie, honey?” Green eyes opened, focusing solely on her. Remmy smiled. “You did it.”
Julie looked around her, noting they were three spaces to the right of, and two behind, where she had been parked that day. She let out long, slow breath, her heart still pounding, but calming ever so slightly as she still felt Remmy’s hand on her leg. She reached down and covered it with her own. “I did it,” she breathed, eyes returning to Remmy’s, seeing the proud grin on the brunette’s face.
Remmy pulled her hand out from under Julie’s, instead taking the smaller woman into her arms, feeling Julie collapse against her. It wasn’t long before the tears came with the embrace. “I’ve got you,” she whispered. “I’ll never let anything happen to you again. I swear it.”
Return to the Academy