aradescent

Chapter 9

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2011 at 1:12 am

As they were packing up their belongings into Justin’s car Jessica felt relief wash over her.  She couldn’t imagine staying even half a day longer in this town.  She had packed everything the night before after they returned from the park.  That’s how eager she was to get back to California and the new life she was starting.

Her and Jasmine’s conversation hadn’t left her mind and for a split second she considered taking Jasmine to California with them.  If only her and her sister had more in common.

She shook the thought of Carl’s infidelity from her mind and buckled Delilah into the backseat.  Delilah hadn’t been happy to leave and tried bargaining with her mother to let her stay.  Though she trusted Justin Sunday through Thursday she couldn’t be too sure about Friday and Saturday.  And with no experience at all she didn’t trust Jasmine to raise her a few states away.

“Delilah please don’t argue.  You knew we weren’t staying here.”

Delilah folded her arms across her chest and let a pout form across her lips.  When Jessica smiled at her she gave up and put her ear buds in place instead.

“What were you and Jasmine talking about yesterday?”  Justin asked, pulling out of the driveway.

Jessica had almost forgotten that Justin had been too busy chasing Delilah around the park to take notice to Jasmine’s confession.

“Nothing really.”

“Jess, Jasmine doesn’t get all serious for nothing.  In fact she rarely gets serious.  It had to be something.”

Jessica knew Justin would keep pressing until she caved.  No matter what she said it wouldn’t detour his curiosity.

It was Jasmine’s business to tell and Jessica was surprised she had even confided in her.  Usually Justin knew everything about his own twin.  Maybe that’s why he was so eager to know.

“I just confronted her about Carl is all.”  Jessica’s attention went to the whirl of scenery outside the tinted windows.

“What did she say?  I’ve been kind of wondering what is up with that myself.”

Jessica turned back to him.  Fine.  She would tell him.  As long as he promised to keep his mouth shut.  “She thinks Carl is messing around with his ex wife.”

There it was said.  “No way!  What makes her think that?”  Justin nearly lost his grip on the wheel.

Great, now she had to go into detail.  So she did.  After she made Justin promise he wouldn’t say anything to Jasmine.  At least when he did get the chance to talk to her she would already be on the plane, cell phone turned off.

***

Jessica had to turn her head when she saw Delilah’s tears pour down while hugging Justin.  She didn’t want to take Delilah away from any of it but she had too.  Didn’t she?  Their beginning of a new life wasn’t going so well.  The truth rested like a boulder on her shoulders.

She took Delilah’s hand and led her into the airport after saying a quick goodbye to her brother.  This would be a long plane ride and for a moment she wouldn’t have to face her reality.  She could think about Cade and their lunch-dinner date tomorrow.  She had plenty to keep herself busy in the mean time.

“I’m hungry.”  Delilah announced as they poured into the house.

“There should be some snacks in the cupboard.”  Jessica offered carrying some of their luggage into the house.  “But before you do that you might want to help me unload the car.”

It had taken them an hour to spot their vehicle when they touched ground.  It didn’t help that Monica had called her at exactly one p.m., the time she knew they would be off the plane.  Jessica had ignored the call but since her cell phone was stuck deep in the pocket of one of her carry-on bags it continued to beep at her as they searched for the SUV.

Delilah groaned and slammed the cupboard shut.  She had spotted some wheat thins before hearing her mother’s demand.

Jessica unloaded Monica’s laptop first and then fished through two bags to find her cell phone.

“Monica!”  She greeted when the phone rang again, just thirty minutes after the initial call.

“How did your weekend go?”  Monica asked.

Jessica was still trying to unload the laptop, gripping the phone as best she could with her shoulder.  She still hadn’t gotten a new phone.  Damn.  “It was okay.  I mean, as okay as it could be I guess.”

“Good.  Did Cade call you while you were down there?”  Monica’s tone changed to a worried softness.

“Yes.  Friday actually.”  She heard Monica sigh in apparent disappointment.

“I told him to wait until you got back in town today.”

Jessica shrugged as though Monica could see her.  There she went exaggerating with her body as she talked.  “It’s okay.  It got my mind off my embarrassing fainting act I performed earlier that day.”

“What?”

Jessica laughed at Monica’s confusion.  “I fainted at the funeral home.”  She confessed.

“Oh no Jessica.  Are you okay?”

“You worry about as much as my mother you know that?”  Jessica laughed again.  “No, I’m fine.  It was just a little fall.  I think I scared everyone more than anything.  Oh by the way I’ll bring your laptop over later.  I’ve got to delete these photographs first.”

“It’s no problem.  I don’t need it right away.  Take your time.  Let me know how your second date with Cade goes.”

Before Jessica could respond Monica had hung up the phone.  It was obvious her and Cade talked about everything.  She wondered what else he had told her.  In the words of her sister: whatever.  She would worry about that later.  She dug through the pockets of the bag that had housed Monica’s laptop.  She held the photograph to her chest.  The one of the beach setting, complete with a possible murder in the background.  Half of the pictures had turned out nicely once she had edited them, including this one.  She saved a copy of the one she held in her hand and the copy she would sell to Jen.  She needed to make sure she had proof in case she lost the print out.

She stuck the print out on the bookshelf between two books she knew Delilah would have no interest in looking at.

“Now can I eat?”  Delilah’s shoulder hung down as she dropped the bags she was carrying onto the carpet.

Jessica only nodded.  She retrieved the CD of pictures from her bag and took it upstairs.  She would edit a few pictures tonight and restore Monica’s laptop to what it was before she began messing with it.  That would include deleting the photo editing software from it.

***

“Can’t I stay home today?”  Delilah pleaded.  “After all my grandma is gone.”

Jessica pulled the covers from Delilah’s head.  If only her daughter wasn’t witty enough to think of that excuse.  “Delilah I have a ton of stuff to do today.  I can’t be hauling you around all day.”

This got a reaction from Delilah and she jolted up from the bed.  “So leave me at home then.  It’s not like I’m going to get into anything.  Please.”

Jessica shook her head.  “No.  When did you age so quickly anyhow?”

Delilah didn’t answer and instead yanked the blanket from Jessica’s hands.  “Ten minutes.”  She demanded.

“Fine, but if you miss the bus you are walking to school.  I’ll be sure to call the school during your first period and ensure you made it on time.”

Delilah didn’t give a response for several moments, perhaps contemplating the consequences of not listening.

Jessica dug through her 8-year-old’s closet.  She threw some clothing onto the bed.  “Here I’ll give you a head start.  You better be at the end of the driveway before I leave.”

‘That girl can be so stubborn at times.  Just like her father.’ Matt.  She hadn’t thought of Matt in a little while.  Perhaps this was a good sign.  But there he was.  Again.  Falling into her memory as if he never left.

She opened the door to her refrigerator and poured herself a glass of orange juice.  Seconds later she heard Delilah stomping down the stairs.  Her hair was still a mess.

“Would you like me to comb your hair?”  Jessica placed the glass on the counter after offering the rest of it to Delilah.

“No momma.  I’m just going to put it in a ponytail anyhow.”

“Well you better hurry.  You know that bus doesn’t even stop if you aren’t down there.”

Delilah swept up her hair in one movement securing it with a black rubber band.  “There.”  She said proudly.  She grabbed her backpack before exiting through the doors.

Jessica smiled.  She went to the bookshelf and stuffed the photograph in her pocket.  First stop:  Police station.

***

The office was full of commotion.  Not that she expected it not to be, but she had never actually been in a police station so she wasn’t sure what she would normally expect.  Maybe a scene similar to one in the movies?

Detective Michael Elliot.  She spotted his conveniently placed desk label before she spotted him when led into the back part of the police station by a guy no older than twenty.

“Detective Elliot this is Ms. Wiler.  She has something you might be interested in.”  The boy moved aside so Jessica could sit down.

“I’m sure she does.”  Elliot murmured.  The woman sitting in front of him was pale with glistening blue eyes and brown hair that was slicked back into a bun.  She wore a pink t-shirt and faded blue jeans.  Nonetheless she was beautiful.  Different.  Mysterious.  He shifted in his seat placing the papers he had been studying down on the desk.

Jessica pulled the photograph from her back pocket.  She didn’t want to put it in the black hole that resembled a purse for fear of it getting lost and never seeing the light of day again so she had shoved it into her pocket.

“Mr. Elliot,”

“Please just call me Michael.”

“Okay.  Michael my name is Jessica, and I am a photographer for Diana’s photography.  I found this while editing some pictures for a wedding I shot last week.  I thought you might like to take a look at it.”

She let the photograph fall onto the pile on his desk.

He smiled a crooked smile at her before picking up the photograph.  “Photographer and photo editor huh?”

Jessica nodded.

“How am I supposed to trust that this is real?”  He gave her a skeptical look over the edge of the photograph.  “Who’s to say you didn’t edit this whole scene in with the photograph.”

Jessica rolled her eyes.  Great.  Just what she needed.  No wonder Jasmine was slightly amused at her insistence to turn the photograph over to authorities.

Elliot watched the brunette’s reaction.  Even her frustrated expression was downright striking.  Even if she was a liar.  He had dealt with women like her before.  She just wanted to sleep with him and coming up with some story was a way to do it.  No way would Travis allow some random chick to get access to him without first supplying a good excuse for it.

“So when are you available?”  Elliot threw the photograph onto his desk and leaned back into the chair.

Jessica was confused.  “Available?  For what?”

Elliot leaned forward now to avoid allowing any of his colleagues to hear their conversation.  “Dinner.”

Jessica forced a smile.  “Detective Elliot I am not here for a date.  Nor am I lying about this photograph.  Chose not to believe me.  Either way I did my part.”  She got up from the chair and turned to leave.

“Wiler is it?”

Jessica stopped, her back still in his direction.

“It would help if you told me the location of this picture.”

“Well considering there are plenty of photographers in the entire state of California you can only assume its location is in the one beach that someone living in this area would have a wedding.”

Smartass.  He liked it.  He smiled when she faced him.  “Can we start over?”  He offered.

***

“Wow.”

Jessica stuffed a sandwich in her mouth, throwing all lady-like mannerisms out the window.  She had already spilled food on Cade, what could be worse?

He had taken her to a Mexican restaurant for lunch.  He only had forty-five minutes before his next client.  He considered dropping the case even before his date with Jessica.  There was no way he could represent the man that claimed to have a work injury when he was already caught in a lie.  He would lose for sure.  If anything he would get a couple thousand for his effort.  Now he sat listening to her story about Detective Elliot and the photograph she had taken while at Jen’s wedding.  At least she wasn’t stalking him any longer.

“That’s all you have to say is wow?”  Jessica giggled taking a drink of her ice water.

“Pretty much.”

Jessica eyed him suspiciously.  Surely after their flirting on the phone Friday he would have something clever to say.  “Come on.”  She prodded.

“No, you’ve been through a lot and I absolutely believe you.  There is always the argument you are suffering from delusions triggered by a bout of stress.”

“You’re serious?”  Jessica finished off her sandwich and wiped her hands on a napkin in front of her.

Cade held his serious face for five minutes before breaking into an easy smile.  “Of course I’m not serious.  I can’t believe that jerk hit on you.  I’ll have to punch him in his…uh…face.”

He was being cute.  At least one thing in her life was going well.  Her mother would be proud.  She wasn’t trying to push him away and this was a first in a long time.

“Well sweetie I’ve got to get back to work.  Call me later okay?”  He leaned down and kissed her goodbye before turning on his heel.

Jessica smiled.  The only answer she needed now was if they were officially a couple or not.

 

Chapter 10 >>>>

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