Snap Shots

PART 2 CHAPTER 9

BY

MJ


 

Disclaimer: This is the second part to my original story Snap Shots part 1.

Language warning: Not often but yes.

Love and sex warning: This story definitely portrays a loving relationship between two women.

Violence Warning: Yes definitely more than a projectile camera this time and from about chapter 8 onwards.

Thanks: First of all I would like to thank Garnet for Beta reading this story. Tammy for once again provided me with all the

relevant horsey information, and her patience in explaining to me the purpose of a girth!

And to everyone for the overwhelming feedback I received

Let me know what you think: mj_poet@hotmail.com

9

While Nikki had taken Lisa back out to the stables in order to see Shannon, Tess stayed behind in the kitchen.She was hungry; Lisa had offered to cook them all dinner just as soon as her father arrived, but Tess needed something now, and sucking on a sugar cube that she had pulled from the porcelain pot left her with an uncomfortable ache in her teeth, and a still empty stomach. 

Opening the fridge, the photographer looked over the row of fully stocked shelves.She frowned wondering where all her convenience foods were.There were no pork pies, no sausage rolls, no tuna and mayonnaise pasties; she was just about to close the door with a huff when something caught her eye. In the far corner she spotted a tray of scotch eggs.With an internal, yes, she grabbed the savoury treats and placed them on the table.This will do until dinner. She affirmed.

It seemed that since Sam had started working for them, the cupboards were stocked with much healthier snacks.Nikki would go shopping with the housekeeper every week and buy much more nutritious foods.She said that they were able to eat better without Tess picking up every box of ready meal or mini rolls she could find.Tess didnt mind though, as long as she still got her favourite packets of Jaffer cakes, Nikki could buy whatever the hell she wanted.Jaffer Cakes, the photographer thought and pulled open the top cupboard where she found four boxes of her much loved orange flavoured biscuits. Taking out a full box she placed them on the table next to the eggs and started tucking in to her nutritionally void snack.

*******

Heading back from the stables Nikki heard the unmistakable sound of her fathers diesel pulling into the driveway.Taking a detour from their approach to the back door, the sisters headed towards the front of the house to greet their father.

Richard Morris stepped out of his car and looked up to see his approaching daughters. I didnt know you would be here Lisa.

I visited with CJ earlier and decided to stick around and get a lift back with you later, besides I am cooking dinner tonight and there was no way Tess would even allow me to leave! She joked.

Shaking his head, Richard moved towards his daughters and put an arm around each shoulder. Well lets go in then.

The three walked towards the house when a sudden sound caught Nikkis attention.She carried on moving but listened out again, hearing the same noise only more distant.With a frown she stopped causing the others to do the same. You go in dad, I just want to check on something first.

Need any help? Lisa asked.

No I will be right in, I just need to go and She heard the sound again, and it suddenly sounded awfully familiar, check something out. She said as though the statement was more of a question.

Nodding Richard and Lisa disappeared inside the house as Nikki listened out for that strange noise.She cocked her head to the side, hearing it once more and moved in its general destination.Gradually the sound though still weak, began to get louder and as she approached her cane suddenly came into contact something soft.Leaning down, she reached out and touched the object; Leto? she asked.A pained whimper was her response confirming her suspicions.Nikki frowned as she moved her hand along the dog; then froze as her sensitive fingers came into contact with a warm sticky substance.It soaked up the dogs side, thick and warm with a strong metallic stench. 

Heart leaping into her throat Nikkis body shook with fright. Oh god TESSTESS! She cried and leaned forward placing her other hand on the golden hound and smoothing the dogs trembling form.Its okay Letoits okayTESS. She shouted again.

Leto started whining louder, and Nikki bent down kissing the frightened dogs head as she heard the door open and multiple footsteps run out into the courtyard.

What is it? Tess asked looking around until she spotted Nikki crouched down beside the far corner of the bridge. Thinking she had fallen, Tess sprinted towards her lover.What she saw instead turned her cold with fear. Leto lay on her side; eyes wide open looking hazily around, the left side of her body completely soaked with bright red blood. She stared down in bewildered horror. 

Richard and Lisa approached. What is it TeOh Jesus. Richard exclaimed as he spotted the golden dog and his daughter, her hands covered with Letos blood as she tried to cover the wound.

Tess? Nikki cried, feeling hopeless as she blindly tried to calm the trembling hound.

Blinking, Tess moved forward and fell to her knees beside the blonde.She stared down into Letos eyes; eyes that looked back at her with fear.Shaking her head the photographer switching to automatic pilot, Okay. She turned to the Mayor and his daughter, Lisa go into the house and get towelsanything that we can use to cover Letoquick. The teen ran off into the house as Tess pulled the mobile from her trouser pocket.She tossed the phone to Richard. Call Dominic Fletcher and tell him we are on our way, his number is seven on the speed dial. Richard did as requested, and Tess turned towards a silent Nikki.

Tears fell from wide blue eyes as the blonde kissed Leto again. Its going to be okay tow tow Tess is here now, she whispered, feeling a reassuring hand on her back.

Lisa emerged from the house with an arm full of towels.She sprinted towards Tess and handed her the bundle.Shaking out the large pieces of fabric, Tess covered Leto making sure she put firm pressure on the obvious gaping wound in her side.Once she was done she lifted Leto carefully into her arms hearing the dogs painful whimpers of protest as she did so. Sorry baby, but Ive got to do this okay.The whines of pain were almost her undoing, but she stayed strongshe had to.

Richard approached his car. Dominic is waiting Tess; Ill drive.

Shaking her head Tess held Leto carefully with one arm as she pulled two sets of keys out of her other pocket; she threw one to Richard and the other to Lisa. No take mine, I dont want to get blood in yours, and Lisa lock up the house.

Once everything was done the four climbed into Tesss Blazer, Richard and Lisa in the front, Tess and a very silent Nikki in the back.Blood still covered the blondes hands and she wiped them over her lilac tee shirt, trying to remove the tacky substance from her skin.As it was, the strong odour of Letos blood filled the confines of the car making her feel nauseous, afraid and very confused.

The drive was tense and silent; except for the intermittent whimper of pain from Leto and gentle shush of the photographer, as she tried to reassure the dog as best she could.Richard drove fast, running one red light, and exceeding the speed limit for most of their short journey, but within ten minutes they reached the surgery; all breathing internal sighs of relief when they arrived.

Dominic Fletcher, a tall man with auburn hair, was waiting outside with an animal stretcher as they arrived.Tess carefully but swiftly exited the car and placed Leto on the stretcher where she was quickly wheeled off into the operating room.

Richard, Nikki and Lisa approached Tess in the reception. What now? The Mayor asked.

Wait. Tess replied evenly. Dominic said he had to operate immediately, so all we can do is wait. She pointed to a secluded room. In there.

As four approached the waiting room, Richard looking at his daughter; Nicole honey, are you alright? He looked down at her clothing, Oh, look at you, you are covered in blood. She even had it in her hair.

The blonde nodded. I cant get that smell out of my senses dad.God what happened, did you see anything that could have caused that?There was so much blood.She rubbed her hands roughly over her clothes, desperately trying to remove the feeling.

Taking off his black suit jacket, Richard placed it around Nikkis shoulders. Here put this on, you look awfully cold.

Nikki slipped her arms into the over sized jacket. Thanks dad. Even though Richard Morris was himself small in stature, his jacket still drowned the slight blonde.

Entering the waiting room, they all became very silent.Tess sat down in the far corner and Nikki sat opposite, Richard beside her and Lisa beside Tess.The room was thick with tension; nobody knowing what to say, or ask as to how this had happened.An hour passed, seeming more like two and still nobody had spoken.Richard looked towards Tess who was chewing her bottom lip, Nikki who was picking at her thumbnail and Lisa, who was staring intently at the vaccination posters on the wall.He stood up suddenly. Well I need a cup of coffee, I saw a café a few buildings down so am going to get a cup, Ill bring some back with me.

Lisa approached her father. Ill come too. She said, and together they left the room.

Trying so hard not to release her emotions, her constricted throat stung and her body shook.Tess tried to clear her mind, focussing on anything other than her present whereabouts, but every time her eyes turned to Nikki she saw the traces of Letos blood on her shirt and hair.

She closed her eyes, rubbing her face in frustration.What happened, she thought and sighed as the unavoidable images came to mind.Leto lying on the ground, amber eyes staring up at her in a mix ofloving trust, fear and terrible pain.The small golden body shook continually, and as each flash of pain swept throughout Leto, her body would go ridged, coiling in agony as tortured whimpers filed the air. 

Tess swallowed, feeling her eyes sting with tears.She saw the blood, so much of it covering the grassy ground and Nikkis hands.The smell, oh god the smellit was so strong, and still she could detect the sharp scent, knowing it would stay with her for a long time to come.Breathing deeply the brunette tried to cast the images from her mind, but still they came.

Opposite Tess, Nikki sat with head in hands.The silence was becoming unbearable, and Tesss reluctance to communicate or express her feelings, was adding a palpable tension within the air.Try as she might, the blonde just couldnt get the tacky feel of blood from her hands and she desperately wanted to ask directions to the nearest bathroom in hopes of finding a sink. She decided to ask Tess and was just about to do so when she heard it; an increase in breathing followed by a chocked back sob. Standing immediately, Nikki moved towards Tesss seat until she was directly in front of the brunette.She reached out, finding broad shoulders and pulled Tess into her stomach as the last of the photographers control crumbled, the shock wore off and her body shook with uncontrollable sobs.Still standing, Nikki slipped between Tesss thighs, holding the woman close to her body as long arms wrapped around her own waist. 

Tess cried, overwhelmed by fearing the worst.She held onto Nikki, knuckles white as she clung to the blondes side.Tears rolling down her own cheeks; Nikki leaned down, kissing the brunettes head. 

She was in so much pain Nik, I hated seeing her like that. Tess cried. 

Laying her cheek upon the dark locks Nikki sighed. She will be fine Tess, she is a tough little cookie.She ran her fingers through the dark hair in a calming gesture. 

Taking a deep shuddering breath, Tesss lip trembled as she spoke How did it happen?Do you think she fell? 

I dont know I just found her Tess.Im so glad I heard her thought. Nikki shook her head; not even wanting to consider what would have happened if she had never heard Leto. 

Me too. Tess sniffed, and took another quivering breath, God knows how long she had been there, or how long she would have stayed there if you hadnt have heard her.Pulling slightly away Tess looked at the blonde; she couldnt help but smile I think I leaked on you. 

Im sure I can handle a few tears. Nikki replied, and Tess chuckled through her own flowing tears. What are you laughing at? 

I wasnt talking about tears! 

She frowned for a moment thenAh! Nikki smirked as she realised what Tess was implying, Well this is my dads jacket anyway, though I hope it isnt one of his posh ones! 

Wiping wet cheeks with the cuff of her sweater Tess pulled away looking up into Nikkis own watery blue eyes. Dominic has been in there a long time in there. She stood up suddenly and started pacing the waiting room. God! Whats taking so long, its been over an hour. She looked at her watch. Just how long has he been in there? 

Nikki turned to face the pacing woman. Lets hope its a good thing that he has been in there for so long.Cant operations sometimes take a long time? 

Hmm. Folding her arms the photographer expelled a forced breath. Damn it, gaping wounds like that dont just appear Nik, what the hell 

She was interrupted as Dominic Fletcher entered the room, looking between both women solemnly, Miss Alexander. 

Tess stepped back grabbing Nikkis had and together they approached the vet, Yeah doc hows Letowhat happened? 

A wide brow creased in thought as Dominic rubbed his forehead, It was a deep and sharp cut; obviously made by an object of such description, probably a knife of some kind. 

Nikki paled as Tesss eyes shone with anger, What do you mean a knife, are you saying that somebody purposely hurt our dog that somebody attacked Leto? 

I dont want to make any harsh assumptions but that is what it appears has happened. Dominic looked towards the chairs. Please sit down and let me explain. Tess stood her ground and when he realised the women were not going to move the vet continued. The weapon was probably about five inches in length and three in width at the basemy guess would be that is sounds like a butchers knife of some kind, definitely something incredibly sharp. He paused. Do you yourself own such a knife? 

Tess frowned. Knifes she shrugged, Sure in the kitchen, but not one like you have mentioned.Our kitchen is hardly that of a connoisseurs. 

And what about Leto? Nikki asked. How is she? 

Dominic nodded. Well I did all I could 

Tess stepped back, the air leaving her body. Oh no! she whispered, tears once again threatening her eyes. 

Nikki squeezed the hand holding hers tight. 

Swiftly Dominic raised his hands. Oh no, no, noI did everything I could, and now it is up to Leto.She is doing very well, and an educated guess would say that she is going to pull through this just fineshe is a strong little hound Miss Alexander, she will be okay. 

Profound relief flooded the photographers system.She sighed, her chin dropping to her chest. Thank god. 

Nikki pulled her hand from the photographers, taking a hold of her arm. Can we go and see her Mr Fletcher? 

Tess looked at the man hopefully. 

Of course, but I must warn you, she is still under the anaesthetic. 

******* 

The recovery room was a medium size sterile room that held a small variety of different sized cages.Its smell was strong, a consistency of animals and surgical cleaning fluids, both potent and overwhelming. Besides the recovering hound there were three more animals but these were caged.A cat, which seemed peacefully asleep; a very large black dog with a luminous green bandage around his back leg and a chinchilla, which ran happily and in a some what gravity defying way around the top of its cage. 

As they entered the room Tesss jade eyes immediately searched out Leto; finding her resting securely on top of a wide surgical table.She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, her brow crinkling in anguish as she stared at the unconscious form of the golden mutt still trembling upon a large thermal blanket.Every so often sporadic whimpers would fill the air as Leto cried out in her drug-induced sleep. 

With hands entwined Tess and Nikki approached the prone dog, Dominic Fletcher following just behind.They stopped at the table and Tess ran a shaky hand over Letos sleeping face. 

The vet stepped forward. She was very lucky, the blade missed any major organs or arteries and her dense muscular structure did indeed protect her from any serious harm.I was able to repair the inner lacerations, hopefully she will recover relatively scar free. 

Daring not to reach out and touch Leto for fear her searching hands may make contact with something tender Nikki turned to the vet. Why is she crying like that Mr Fletcher, I thought she was unconscious? 

Dominic nodded. She is, but it isnt uncommon for animals to whimper while they are still unconscious, probably due to trauma and suchshe will come around in an hour or two, but I will have to keep her here over night for observation. 

Tess nodded as she instinctively lifted Nikkis hand and placed it upon Letos broad head. Of course, whatever is best for her Doc. 

Perceptive fingers moved gently over golden fur. Will there be any long term or lasting effects to this Mr Fletcher? 

The auburn haired man folded his arms. Physically I can say no, but as for mentally we will have to see.From personal experience and knowledge of Leto I can say that she is immensely friendly and trusting, whether this will change hermake her less forthcoming with people I dont know, only time will tell Im afraid. 

Looking down at the dog Tess could feel her anger boiling within.She couldnt believe what had happened, but as apprehension sunk in she did indeed realise that possibly somebody had hurt Leto on purpose. Taking advantage of the dogs over friendly temperament, and good nature.Leaning forward Tess kissed her head; she didnt know how, but one way or another she would find out who did this and why. 

******* 

Bradley White emerged from the dark confines of his bedroom, and spotted the lifeless form of his brother lying on the hallway floor.With an amused frown he approached CJ and bent down, placing a hand on the young mans shoulder.He shook it gently. Hey CJ, come on wake up, what are you still doing out here bro? 

There was no response. 

He rolled his eyes with a smirk. Hey, louder this time, Come on CJ wake up, I think you need to get to bed for a while. 

A slight groan was his response as CJ opened his one eye, the other being too swollen.He looked around, as his mind recalled the events of the hours before and bruising pain racked his long body. 

Thats is CJ, come on let me help you to bed. Bradley placed a hand under CJs arm and lifted him to a sitting position. You are in a bit of a mess arent yougood job I am here to sort you out huh? 

With a grimace of pain the silent younger brother was hauled to his feet and led slowly to his own room.Bradley pushed the door open with his shoulder and half led half dragged CJ and over to the bed where he deposited the tall form onto the soft sheets.Bradley shook his head, soft clean sheets! CJ always did have an obsession with keeping his room clean, he did it once a week for gods sake; why, Brad had no idea. 

Pulling the thick quilt over his brothers shoulders Bradley patted his brother on the arm. You get some rest now bro, and I will see you later.Then he backed away, and with on final look into the darkened room; he left, closing the door firmly behind him. 

******* 

At first sight it would have appeared that nothing was different.The house looked the same, the gentle murmurs of the country sounded the same and the peaceful flow and calmness in the air were still present.If it were not for the patch of dark red blood by the bridge, nobody would have been any wiser, and as Tess stood on the sturdy wooden structure she stared down at that patch as if looking for answers. 

Richard had driven them home from the vets, and Tess had gotten out the car just before the bridge so she could look around the surrounding area. She watched as the other three occupants of the Blazer all stepped out the vehicle, heading silently into the houseall except Nikki.The blonde stood quietly at the door before sliding down the wall and sitting on top of the three steps.Thinking. 

Tesss vision returned to the drying patch of blood, half on the grass, and half on the driveway.Her brow creased in thought as she bent down, reaching out as if to touch the spillage, but long fingers didnt connect.Instead Tess mind worked overtime; desperately trying to come up with an explanation for how this could have happened.She found it hard to accept Dominics explanation that it was indeed a malicious attack, and although she had every faith in the vet, she was greatly hoping she would find a less disturbing answer.Though if she couldnt, she knew what she had to do. 

Looking up the photographer watched Nikki who was still sitting silently by the front door.She held the cane in her right hand as she slowly moved it across the ground, her mind seemingly elsewhere.Pushing to her feet, Tess brushed a dusty hand across her jeans and approached the blonde. Hey! 

Nikkis head moved in Tesss direction and she smiled. Hi, did you find anything? 

Shaking her head, Tess looked back towards the bridge. No, nothingnot a bloody thing. She sighed, though it sounded more like a growl as she pushed both hands into her pockets.You think that somebody did this on purpose dont you. 

It wasnt a question and Nikki knew it. Yes.You know I felt like we were being watched Tess, and you did too on the day of the Exhibition.I think somebody hurt Leto, but I dont know why. 

Tess was silent, her mind a whirl of thoughts and feelings as she tried to make sense of what had happened.She folded her arms, looking back over to the bridge as images and memories of the past months flitted through her mind. Sucking her bottom lip between her teeth Tess once again approached the spot where Nikki had found Leto feeling like she had missed something important.She bent back down, running her fingers through the dry dirt and gravel thinking.Nikki felt like we were being watched, I felt it too.I saw a shiny object in the bushes.She bit hard on her lip; inadvertently drawing blood.Sam saw a man on the trackLeto got hurt when we were inside with Lisa and CJ. Her mind drifted as she remembered snippets of remarks from conversations shed had.Sam said the guy on the track had a crooked noseand Lisa said CJs brother Brad wasnt very attractive due to his dodgy looking nose.She paused, what was the name of that guy Rosalind mentioned at the exhibition?

The brunettes eyes moved rapidly over the ground as parts of the puzzle began sliding into place, and as the last piece slotted inside her mind, her eyes turned to saucers and she stood abruptly. Son of a fucking BITCH! 

Nikki jumped, surprised by the photographers sudden outburst. Tess? Hearing rapid footsteps approach her on the gravelled driveway she got up. What is it Tess? 

Take my hand. Tess stated, and Nikki did as requested without thought, holding out her own hand until it was engulfed in Tesss larger one. I think I know who is behind this. 

Who? The blonde asked as she was led into the house. Who hurt Leto? 

Yeah. Tess stated. AND whos been spooking you these last weeks. 

They entered the house following the sound of muted voices that led to the kitchen.Tess walked in slowly, but with raging conviction as she escorted Nikki into the room.She stopped and looked at the Mayor and his younger daughter. 

Richard frowned as he noticed the mounting rage in the photographers eyes. Umdid you find anything? 

You could say that. Tess replied then looked towards the younger daughte. Lisa what is CJs last name? 

The teen looked confused. Oh um White why? 

Tess nodded. And his brothers name? 

Lisa could see the burning gleam of escalating rage in Tesss jade eyes. His brothers name?Well its Bradwhy are you asking? 

The brunette turned to Nikki, still within her grasp, Bradley bleeding White. She said through grated teeth. 

Richard looked confused. Whos Bradley White?

Nikki paled as she began to understand just what Tess was saying. Bradley White, he was they guy who attacked me at the shopping centre. 

You know his name? Asked the Mayor. 

Rosalind let it slip at the exhibition; she said that was the guy she had employed to frighten Nikki. 

Lisa realised what Tess was implying. Hey nohow can you be sure? 

Tesss angry eyes moved back to the teen. You said it yourself Lisa, CJs brother had a crooked nose! And guess whose fist just happened to land squarely in that position when I got Nikki away from that bastard. 

CJ told me Brads nose had always been like that. The teen said mono voice. 

Oh come on Lisa. She didnt mean to sound so irate with the brunette, but her good nature was dwindling to nothing. Its his brother; they are probably in this together. 

NO! Shouted Lisa. No, CJ isnt like that.I know him; he wouldnt want to hurt anybody or anything. She felt a sudden panic at the photographers insinuation. She wanted to believe Tess was wrong.She may not have known CJ for a lengthy period of time, but it was long enough to know that there was no way he could be capable of what Tess was implying. 

Tess turned to a quiet Nikki. What do you think? 

Nikki blinked. I think we have to call the police this time Tess, this has gone far beyond anything we thought would happen.If he is the same guy from the Gallowtree, then he has more than proved he means business and I dont want to take any chances; Leto nearly lost her life because of this. She squeezed the hand around her own, trying to covey her underlying fear. 

Tess looked back at the Mayor. I agree, do you? 

Richard nodded. Absolutely. 

The photographer nodded. Fine, then I call them right now. 

******* 

Head feeling heavy, the pain only just bearable, CJ opened his eyes to the dimness of his bedroom.He squinted in the hazy shroud of darkness surrounding him and looked at the clock, it was almost seven oclock. Attempting to move he was assaulted with a wave of agonising pain shooting through his stomach and side. Crying out the young man fell back onto the bed, his mind hazy he rapidly drifted into unconsciousness. 

******* 

Sitting in the living room, two officers from Derbyshires Criminal Investigation Department faced Tess and Nikki.The blonde now wearing an oversized shirt that actually belonged to Tess, she had instantly alarmed the police when they had entered, seeing her wearing a tight tee shirt covered in dry blood.Though it did stand as a starting point for their explanation as to why they had been called. The Mayor stood by the fireplace, and Lisa sat on a single chair near the television. She appraised the two men, taking in the reasonably priced suits, and clean-cut image.D C Brian was a man in his thirties with slick short blond hair; D S Fairbrass was an older man with a high receding hairline and thin moustache.The younger man took notes as the elder questioned the women. 

Miss Alexander, what makes you so sure that this Bradley White was the man who attacked your dogand has apparently been stalking the both of you? 

The photographer sighed exasperated. I have already explained this to you.The brothers names, the sightings of a man matching his appearance in this vicinity. 

Lisa folded her arms; she sincerely hoped Tess was wrong about this.How could she believe that the guy she had been seeing was just with her to help his brother get back at her sister and Tess? It hurt to imagine such a thing when she thought they had been getting on so well together. What was more, she was developing serious feelings for CJ. 

Fairbrass shook his head. Yes you have explained that Miss Alexander, what you have yet to explain is why you think this man has singled you and Miss Morris here out. He paused, Do you think it is because of the nature of your relationship? 

Tesss eyes narrowed and Richard stepped forward. Sergeant Fairbrass, before Christmas my daughter was attacked by a man at the Gallowtree shopping centre, and it was Miss Alexander who rescued her. 

Constable Brian looked at his partner before turning to Richard. So there will be a report of this? 

Richard shook his head. Nono report was ever made, because it turned out to be a family matter. 

The young constable frowned. I am sure I dont need to explain to you the necessities of reporting any attack to the local constabulary Mr Mayor! 

Yes I do realise that constable. Richard sighed knowing he was going to have to explain his wifes actions.We discovered that my wife had hired this man to try and scare Nicole into coming back home.It was she who let his name slip by revealing to Nicole her attacker was called Bradley White. Richard paced in front of the two men. We thought that would be the end of it, but it seems very possible that this man has taken it upon himself to exact revenge upon my daughter and Tess. 

Fairbrass looked over his younger partners shoulder. And you think this was the man who you believe tried to kill 

Leto. Nikki stated quietly. 

Leto right. He looked at the blonde. And it was you who found him? 

Nikki sighed. Her and yes I didI heard her whimpering and just followed the sounds. 

Rubbing his large hands together Fairbrass stood quickly. Well I think that with the information you have given us it will be enough to bring the brothers in for questioning. He looked towards Richard. Unfortunately Mr Mayor I also intend to question your wife on this matter. 

Richard shook his head, Of believe me detective I hold nothing but anger towards my soon to be ex wife for the way she has acted; she deserves whatever punishment you boys in blue dish out! 

Fairbrass nodded slightly surprised by Richardss evident contempt towards his wife, as Brian rose to his feet, Then you will be hearing from us very soon. Mr Mayor, Miss Morris, Miss Alexander and Miss Lisa, we will get on this right away. 

Thanks, said Tess, as she also stood followed by Nikki.Lisa remained seated, staring at the carpeted floor as she realised CJ was about to be questioned by the police. 

After a shaking of hands and another promise to call them with news as soon as possible, the officers left the house.Richard stood by the door and watched them leave.When they were out of sight, he returned to the living room. 

Listen, Ive just realised something, he scratched the back of his neck, My solicitor gave me the address of Rosalinds current place of residence; I wrote it down on a post-it, but left it in my office at home.If I go and get it I can call it into the station and save the officers some searching time.The sooner this mess gets cleared up the better. 

The photographer pursed her lips with a nod, Good idea, anything to get this moving along. Tess looked at the teen, Hey Lisa do you want to go home with your father, or stay here with us? 

The quiet girl looked up glumly, Ill stay here if thats ok; you are coming back right dad? 

The Mayor nodded. 

Taking in the sight of Lisas grave expression Tess softened, Lisa, Im sorry about the way I spoke to you earlier. She sighed, I didnt mean to sound so harsh, but I was angry and I know this is in no way your fault, how were you to know CJ was helping his brother. 

Lisa shrugged, but Nikki stepped forward, Tess I really dont think CJ is as bad as it appears, I just didnt get that malicious vibe from him. 

Tess was still not fully convinced, but she was willing to give the young man the benefit of the doubt, Well I am sure we will soon find out for sure wont we! 

Thats right. Richard walked forward hugging his daughters then took the surprised tall woman is a fatherly embrace as well. I am going to get that address now; I will see you all in a couple of hours. And with a warm smile, hiding the nervousness and anger that he felt towards this whole situation, a situation initially caused by Rosa, the Mayor left. 

******* 

He had stood in the bushes not far away from the house and watched them leave.Bradley laughed; it was completely obvious that the two men were police officers.Not only did the average suits and strong smell of cheap cologne give them away, but the dark green Impretza, (used by the police force because of the cars above average handling and manoeuvre-ability during chases) parked in the court yard served as another giveaway.He wasnt stupid and he did know the police, after all he had been questioned by them often enough, fortunately for him nothing had ever stuck. 

The car drove off but still he waited; unsure of why, he soon understood his decision as he spotted Mayor Morris leaving the house.Within a minute Richard was gone, leaving the two women completely alone.Bradley grinned, wide and toothless; this time there were going to be no mistakes.This time he was not going to let that woman get the upper hand over him; he was calling the shots, and he had the element of surprise firmly in his favour.In no way would they be expecting this so soon after their precious dog had died. 

Moving from his hidden position in the bushes, Bradley crept to the side of the house, intent on approaching the side door.He had already checked the building over while the women were away last week and found the side door, which led into what looked like an office, to be his best point of entrance.There was only one simple lock on this door, and he knew from experience the best ways in which to breach that barrier. 

Reaching the end of a high set of bushes, the man stopped and looked around thoroughly before taking off with a swift dash to the next lot of greenery.These ones surrounded the tree that stood about ten foot away from the side door. He crouched, now hidden within the crop of wildly growing shrubbery and scoped out the area, taking in the sights one last time before he made his approach towards the side door.After deciding the scene was all clear he moved to the door and stood against the wall, pushing a hand into his khaki green jacket pocket and pulling out a long silver key.He wondered how many people actually knew how certain numbered keys, which you could buy in any local locksmiths or dry cleaners, could penetrate the locks that they thought secured their homes.With a triumphant grin, the door opened and Bradley walked quietly into Nikkis office. 

****** 

Nikki sat on the large three-seat sofa, legs up and crossed as she nursed a large cup of coffee in both hands.Taking a drink, she grimaced as the still too hot liquid slid down her throat; she took in a deep breath cooling her overheated mouth.I wonder how Leto is. She muttered. 

Tess looked up from her position, sitting on the floor facing the blonde.Nikki was the first one to speak since Richard had left, even their drinks had been made with presumption; she hadnt even thought to ask either sister whether they wanted one, just doing so automatically.Lisa had disappeared up stairs, before her drink even arrived and had yet to return. Im sure shes fine, if she wasnt we would have heard something right?And it has been over two hours now, actually I think I should ring to see that she came around from the anaesthetic okay. 

Hmm. 

Tess looked up. Talk to me Nik. 

The blonde sighed and leaned forward, placing her hot coffee on the floor beside her chair.I just cant believe that its him again.I thought that guy from the shopping centre was just a distant bad memory, yet now it appears he is back. Uncrossing her legs Nikki let them fall to the floor. You know now that I think about it the first time I felt like we were being watched; the feeling was familiar, like I had already felt this beforemaybe that was because he has made me feel that way before.Frightened, watched, overwhelmed and in a way alone. 

Alone? The brunette asked confused. 

I dont knowalone as in, I feel overwhelmed by his presence and his alone.That cold icy feeling I got when I felt his knife on my throat that is the first feeling I get whenever I feel we are being watched. She laughed wryly, Im thinking about this so much that its almost like I can feel it now. 

Tess smiled and leaned forward, shuffling over to the blonde on her knees. Look, she kissed Nikki gently. Leto will be finethe police will find this guy and question him once and for allwhatever happens Nik, remember that we can get through anything as long as we do it together. Her right hand travelled through short blonde locks until it reached the back of Nikkis neck where it stopped as Tess pulled her in for a lingering kiss. 

Together. Nikki affirmed as she pulled away with a smile. 

Damn right! 

Nikki laughed as she rose to her feet. Right, well while you go and make that call to the vets; I am going to get my book I need to occupy my mind with something for a while. 

Want me to get it? Tess asked as she rose next to Nikki. 

Thats ok, the blonde stated, its in my officeIll get it while you go and see how tow tow is doing. 

Right. Tess affirmed as they both left the living room, and headed to their intended destinations in different directions.

******* 

He felt himself coming to again, but this time his mind was clearer, more alert.Taking a deep breath CJ opened his eyes, and looked around the dark interior of his room. It was now half past eight and the young man gingerly pushed himself to a sitting position.Blinking, his mind tried to recall how he had come to be in bed at this time of day; when the last thing he remembered was kissing Lisa goodbye outside her sisters house. 

Suddenly it all came back, Bradley, his accusations, his anger and his violent outburst.Reeling in shock he rose to his feet and tentatively excited his bedroom.The pain in his head and stomach was sharp, but not enough to force him to stay puthe needed to find Bradleynow.Walking down the hallway he stopped at a large mirror and looked at his swollen reflection with shock.His left eye was half swollen and purple; dry blood ran from the corner of his mouth.Unzipping the jacket he still wore and lifting up his white tee shirt he saw large contusions covering both sides of his body.Frowning, and anger replacing the upset he had been feeling CJ moved past the mirror and into Bradleys bedroom, it was empty.He walked into the living room finding that just as vacant; then a swift disturbing thought came to mind. With Brads current state of mind, he knew how unpredictable his brother could be.Yet one thing he knew for sure, if his Brad did still fear Tess and Nikki may have some idea of what was going on, he wasnt going to wait around any longer. 

Sensing the urgency in this revelation, CJ reached into his pocket and pulled out his car keys.He had to get back over to Riverside Farm, not to stop his brother from making another terrible mistake, he was finished with thatwhat ever Bradley got he definitely deserved.No, he had to get over there and help make sure nothing terrible happened, and knowing his brother the way he didhe knew just how malevolent that man could be. 

End of chapter 9 to be continued in chapter 10 very soon.


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