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 the job of my publisher’s editor.
Part 30- conclusion
Julie blew out a breath as she heaved another plastic tub onto one of the small desks neatly lined in a row. Removing the lid, she peered inside, glad to see all her posters and framed pictures that would soon be hung up on her classroom walls. It was strange to be in a new room, having been in the same one during her entire time at Woodland Middle School.
Pulling various decorations out and scattering them on the floor to be gone through later, Julie was relived to hear Mike Gonzales and his team working maintenance in the quiet school. She wasn’t sure if she was quite ready to be alone in the building, yet. After all, she would have to leave it at some point.
Adjusting her ponytail and brushing her bangs out of her eyes, Julie took a drink from her bottled water. It was going to be a scorcher, and she didn’t relish the thought of being stuck in the school all afternoon, the air conditioner turned off for the summer. Leaning back against her new desk, she sighed, enjoying the feel of the cold liquid as it slid down her throat, the chill able to be followed as it spread throughout her body.
She smiled as she lowered the bottle, resting it against her upper chest. Her thoughts reverted to the night before, and the time she and Remmy had spent making love. It had been interesting, to say the least, trying to stay quiet. That morning, as she had made breakfast for Remmy and Monica, it had taken everything in her power to not blush every time she looked at their guest. Monica seemed non-the-wiser, so she assumed they had stayed quiet enough
Julie closed her eyes for a moment, concentrating. She swore she could still feel Remmy inside her, touching her in places that went beyond the physical realm. She could only pray that Matt could find that kind of love. She half wondered if he were kidding about Monica, as she’d certainly noticed his eyes following the very attractive brunette around the barbecue. Julie chuckled, amused at her own thoughts. “Wouldn’t that be a kick,” she muttered to the empty classroom.
With a sigh, Julie set her water aside and continued unpacking. She was just glad that Bob had allowed her into the school so early in the summer. Technically teachers didn’t start on their rooms until mid-August at the earliest usually, but Julie needed to get a curriculum together for her seventh graders, and needed to back through her old stuff, see what could be salvaged. The class schedules hadn’t been made up by the counselor, yet, but Julie looked forward to seeing whom she’d have. Woodland Middle was a fairly small school, so it was likely she knew most, if not all, of the kids.
She sighed, grabbing another tub.
Remmy slid the razor back into the plastic handle for safe keeping, then slid the utility knife into her back pocket. Scooting the boxes out of the middle of the aisle, and gathering up the broken down boxes, Remmy headed for the bullpen, leaning the cardboard against the cigarette shelves. She waited, the customer roaming around the store, fingering a package of candy corn before moving on. He glanced at her from time to time, making Remmy somewhat nervous.
She was totally alone in the store, Joan off, and her relief not coming in until after three. Remmy felt a little tingle in her spine, but couldn’t quite read its origin. “Hot out there, huh?” she said, her words more out of a slight nervousness rather than caring for conversation with the young man, who didn’t look to be any older than his early twenties.
“Yep. Pretty hot,” he said, running a finger along the cool glass of one of the coolers, making a full circuit around the small store until he reached the front doors. He glanced out into the parking lot, noting a man filling up his Bronco, his attention on the gas and price meter, and nowhere on the store. With a metallic click, the front doors were locked by a turn of the man’s wrist.
Remmy was very nervous, now, her eyes never leaving the man as she blindly reached under the counter, trying to locate the silent alarm button. She had been shown half-assed by Josh when she first started, but that was last August, nearly a year ago. Finally she found it, her fingers pressing against it.
“Look, how can I help you?” she asked, stepping away from the button once it was pushed, trying her best to not cause any suspicions on the part of the calm, young man. He walked over to her finally, her eyes holding a gleam that made Remmy’s skin crawl.
“Help me?” he said, casually leaning against the counter, as though he was settling in for a chat. “I think you’ve helped me enough, don’t you? Remmy.”
Remmy was surprised to hear her name from his lips. He placed his right hand on the counter, her eyes flicking to it. She gasped. On his right ring finger, which was bare, suddenly a shimmer of light appeared, the shimmer slowly beginning to form a shape- a band, a ring. The stone shone red in her mind. Her gaze flicked back up to his, fear grabbing hold of her throat, rendering her nearly mute.
Julie flipped through the pages of the notebook she always took notes in, or made plans for future assignments. She read her small, neat handwriting, head resting on her upturned palm. Sighing heavily, she slapped the notebook closed. She felt fidgety, anxious. She wasn’t sure if it was the heat in the room, or just because she was so damn bored, but she could barely sit still. Grabbing her third bottle of water, she twisted off the top, taking a healthy sip before staring out over her classroom again.
Posters and pictures had been hung, the room nearing the ready point. She supposed it was a good thing. She hadn’t meant to hang decorations today, but figured while she was there, two birds, one stone.
Suddenly, slowly, the room around her began to fade, her eyes slipping closed.
The waters of the lake were churning with chaotic waves, the skies swirling with heavy clouds and threatening lightning. The flowers in the field were dancing erratically, the winds nearly beating them down.
Julie stood in the center of it, looking up into the sky before turning in a full circle. “Remmy?” she called, a chill on her skin, skittering down her spine and settling in her gut. “Remmy?” She whipped around, swearing she heard Remmy’s voice on the wind, calling her name…
Julie gasped, air rushing into her lungs, nearly making her choke. She looked around frantically, the feeling of terror that had begun to grip her still holding tight. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
Remmy watched as Dennis Collins pulled a pack of cigarettes out of a pocket in his cargo pants, never taking his eyes off her as he lit the end, taking a deep drag. “I heard about what you did what that guy all the bitches he’d kept in his basement, all chained up. Guess he had a pretty good fuck every night, huh?” Dennis’ eyes crinkled as he grinned, blowing the cigarette smoke directly into Remmy’s face. She did her best not to react to his words, even though inside she was a tempest of growing anger.
“What do you want, Dennis?” she said quietly, her voice deathly calm.
Dennis Collins smiled, pointing at her with the cigarette, tucked between two fingers. “You’re good.”
“I know who you are, and I know what you did. Why are you here?” Remmy began to slowly slide her hand back behind her.
“I’d really rather you kept your hands where they were,” he said, nodding at her hand. “You’re smart, too,” he complimented as both hands became visible again. “I’m here today because I’d say I’m pretty much fucked, right?” he said, eyes turning hard again. “Because of you, you fucking meddling bitch.”
Remmy tried not to react to his words, or his steadily rising voice. She kept eye contact, not daring to look away. She tried frantically to think of another way to get to the utility knife tucked in her back pocket.
“What have I done to you? You use your… freakish, ability, or whatever the fuck it’s called, and pinpoint me. That really pisses me off, Remmy, I gotta tell ya.” He pushed himself away from the counter.
“Look, Dennis, I was just trying to help out, okay? I have nothing to do with what you did. You did it, man, not me.” Remmy was beginning to get very, very nervous. She felt trapped in the bullpen.
It was the wrong thing to say. “Fuck you!” Dennis roared, raising his fist and backhanding Remmy so quick, her teeth rattled in her head. She fell back against the counter, the edge digging into her lower back.
Julie slammed her phone shut. “Dammit!” she cried, tossing the phone into the passenger seat of her car as she floored the little sports car toward the store. Since she’d been thrust suddenly into their lake, Julie had felt nearly sick. Remmy’s cell phone was turned off, as it always was when she was working, but she just knew that Remmy was trying to send her a message, trying to call for help. She had tried to get hold of Grace, but she wasn’t at the office, and her voicemail had picked up on her cell. Julie grabbed the phone again and dialed 911. She gave the man who answered the address of the store.
“What seems to be the problem, ma’am?” the man asked, voice calm and even.
Julie chewed on her bottom lip. What, indeed? “I’m not sure. This will sound strange, but it’s just a feeling. I don’t know.” She heard typing, assuming it was the man typing in what she told him, as well as the store’s address.
“Ma’am, an officer has already been dispatched to that address. He should be there, or will be shortly.”
Julie felt her blood run cold. “Who called?” she whispered, voice just this side of shaky.
“Silent alarm, ma’am.”
Without another word, Julie flipped her phone closed, tossing it once again to the seat, and pushing the speed limits as she tried to get to the store as quickly as she could.
Remmy’s eye was pulsing from the blow she was still reeling from. She backed away until she got to the swinging door, making her way out of the bullpen. She glanced over her shoulder, noting the dark hallway, which led to the back door of the store. Her attention was brought back to Collins by the metallic click of a cocked gun.
“You’re not going anywhere, bitch,” he said, holding the small handgun in front of him, aimed at Remmy’s head. She looked at it, eyes drawn to the deadly tip before they made their way back to meet Dennis’.
“This isn’t necessary, Dennis,” she said, her heart pounding. She could feel cold sweat break out on her forehead and under her arms. She wiped her palms on the thighs of her jeans. A flash of Julie appeared before her mind’s eye, and she knew she had to find a way to get out of this. “Think about what you’re doing, Dennis,” she said, keeping her voice as calm as she could. “Think about the penalty for this.”
Dennis smirked, shaking his head. “You’re really fucking stupid, you know that? Do you honestly think I’ve got a chance? No, because of you!”
“Wait, hold on,” Remmy said, holding her hands up. “Listen, how about this. I open up the cash register, give you the money in there. Dennis, there’s more than three grand. Think about it, man. You could get pretty far on three grand, right?”
Dennis paused, tossing that tid bit of information around. His arm began to lower, seriously considering the offer. In that one moment, he cursed, Remmy diving behind the shoulder-high shelving unit that held a limited offering of pet products. The phone’s shrill ring interrupted the tension.
Remmy had landed on her shoulder, and tried her best to not cry out in pain. She heard Dennis yell out in surprise and anger, then the nearly deafening sound of a shot fired.
Officer Beth Canton arrived at the convenience store, checking out the situation as she pulled up. All she knew was the silent alarm had been set off, but no one had answered attempts to call into the store. She radioed in her position and location, told that an unidentified woman had called in, requesting police involvement at the store.
“Ten-four,” Officer Canton said, opening the door of her cruiser, glad to feel the heft of her piece on her hip. As she stepped out of the car, she looked through the large front windows of the store. She saw no clerk at the counter, but did see a man, the back of his head, anyway. He was facing one of the aisles. Beth’s eyes widened when she realized what he held.
The crack of a gunshot rocked the early afternoon.
Remmy army crawled faster than she ever thought possible, rounding the end of the aisles, coming up against her newest display creation, this one of cases of Mountain Dew. She winced as her shoulder screamed out at her. Hiding behind the soda, she reached behind her, grabbing the utility knife, though keeping the blade still tucked inside the body, so she didn’t accidentally cut herself.
Dennis held the gun in both hands, swinging it back and forth as he made his way down the aisle, swinging dramatically around at the end- nothing. “I’m going to fucking kill you, Remmy,” he growled. Before he knew what had hit him, he was flat on his ass, head banging against the glass of the cooler behind him. He was also being showered in something wet and sticky. The thrown cans of soda landed near him, erupting on impact. “Fucking bitch,” he muttered, bringing a hand up to his temple where he’d been hit, then to his forehead. He felt warmth. Blood was on his fingertips. He got to his feet, fingers re-wrapping against the grip of the gun.
Remmy got to her feet, shoes nearly slipping in the soda that had exploded across the floor, and stayed hunched down, running across toward the other side of the store. She noticed a police car parked right in front of the store, an officer getting out.
“Help!” she yelled, banging on the glass, which she knew was bulletproof, as was demonstrated when a bullet whizzed by her head, slamming into the glass, cracking it, but not going through.
Again, Remmy dived, this time crying out as white hot pain shot through her arm as she landed on the same shoulder. She almost couldn’t breathe.
Julie’s Miata squealed as she roared into the parking lot. As if in a nightmarish world, she saw the police officer getting out, saw Remmy banging on the glass, her cries silent screams behind the thick glass. Julie screamed when she heard the gunshot, a sudden crack in the glass less than six inches from Remmy’s head. The brunette suddenly disappeared.
The officer heard the scream, and turned, hurrying over to Julie, who was running toward the store. “Ma’am! You need to stay back!” she yelled, intercepting Julie before she could get any closer.
Julie fought against the strong arms of the policewoman who held her, the woman’s desperate voice finally getting through her terrified haze.
Julie stopped fighting, looking at the woman’s kind brown eyes. “What’s happening in there?” she asked, voice a mere whisper.
“I don’t know yet. I just arrived. Stay here so I can do my job, okay? Out of the line of fire. I recommend you get back in your car and leave.”
“Not a chance,” Julie growled, jaw set.
Beth Canton sighed, nodding. “Alright. At the very least, please either get into your car, or stand by it.”
Julie nodded numbly, allowing herself to be walked back toward her car, where she stood, eyes glued to the store, arms hugging herself. “Remmy,” she whispered.
Remmy crawled around toward the coffee stand, a fresh pot brewed not ten minutes ago. She eyed it quickly, then returned her attention back to Dennis Collins, who was quickly making his way over to her side of the store.
Joan arrived to find the parking lot of the store filling with bystanders and three police cars, the third pulling up as she had done. She had gotten Julie’s nearly frantic message five minutes before. She spotted the blonde leaning against the trunk of her car, and hurried over to her.
“What’s happening?” she asked, placing a hand on Julie’s shoulder. She was shocked when she suddenly had an armful of crying Julie Wilson.
Dennis could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears, which were still ringing from the two gunshots in such confined quarters. He could see the audience they had out in the parking lot, but he didn’t care. At this point none of that mattered. He wasn’t going to be taken alive, but was going to take out this bitch with him.
His head whipped around, back toward the back wall of the store where the soft drink machines were, and a clear, plastic case, which held doughnuts and bagels. He hurried back there when a metal rack of plastic cups was knocked to the floor, finger ready to pull the trigger again.
Remmy held her breath, waiting until Dennis rounded the corner. She had to act quickly or it would mean a bullet. As she as the tow of his tennis shoe became visible, she swung, the steaming liquid flying from its metal container.
Dennis screamed, his empty hand flying up to his upper chest and neck, the coffee burning him. He cried out again when fire lanced through his gun hand, causing the gun to fall from his grasp.
The utility knife fell to the floor as Remmy launched herself at him, knocking them both to the ground. She could feel his blood against her skin, the slice on his arm deep. She could imagine how painful it must be, but didn’t care. She was on top of him instantly, landing a punch right in the jaw. He returned the favor, knocking Remmy off of him with an uppercut to her right eye.
As soon as he saw that he was free, Dennis scrambled, eyeing the gun, which had slid over near the dairy cooler.
The crowd watched, barely able to see the two combatants as they wrestled on the floor. Julie was glued to the glass, even as officers tried to peel her away. Joan was trying to pick the right key out of the key ring for the front door, her hands trembling in her haste. She could feel the heat of anxious officers behind her.
Remmy shook herself, trying to shake off the want to submit to the fuzziness around her vision. When Dennis had hit her, she’d smacked her head on the cabinet under the coffee maker, nearly knocking herself out. She saw Dennis moving, and realized he was moving for the gun. She saw that her utility knife was closer than the gun, and knew there was no way she’d reach him or the gun in time, so snatched the knife, and ran, making her way toward the food aisles again, ducking as a shot rang out.
Julie cried out at the sound, her heart pounding, a steady stream of tears falling over her cheeks. All non-personnel were forced back behind the barricade that had been put up at the sound of the third shot. Julie fought against the officer that had her, but she was no match for his strength.
“Remmy!” she screamed.
Remmy spared a glance out the wide windows, spying Julie. For a split second she caught the terrified green eyes, and smiled, trying to let Julie know that no matter what happened, she loved her. Julie was crying, and it broke Remmy’s heart.
The spell was broken when a box of instant rice exploded next to her head, grains flying everywhere as Remmy ducked once again, instinctually covering her head as she shot down another aisle.
Grace removed her jacket, tossing it over the back of her desk chair. She glanced over at her partner, noticing that he was taking furious notes as he listened to what she assumed was his voicemail. He hung up the receiver, and looked at her.
“Don’t get too comfortable. Your little bloodhound just found our suspect for us.”
Julie had read Remmy’s message loud and clear, and she couldn’t stop crying. She had the most horrible feeling that she was going to lose Remmy that day. The only thing she had to hold onto if that happened was that, though brief, Remmy’s love for her had been the greatest gift she’d ever been given. Remmy had taught her it was okay to not only love and be loved, it was okay to love herself, and be a strong woman.
She was startled when she felt a warm hand against her back. When she saw Matt’s sad gaze looking down at her, she lost it, turning into him, his arms holding her close.
Remmy shook her head again, trying desperately to keep the blackness at bay. She figured she probably had a pretty good concussion, but knew if she blacked out, she’d never wake up again. She felt groggy, her stomach nauseous. And her face hurt from the two blows.
She could feel her hand sweating badly, her thumb running back and forth over the smooth plastic handle of the knife, the blade still out and deadly sharp. She hadn’t heard Dennis since he’d fired, and had no idea where he was. She tried not to breathe, not to make any noise that would alert him, or distract herself.
She listened, ears perked, eyes wide, glancing over at the beer cooler. She grinned, able to see Dennis through the reflection as she tried to sneak up on her, the gun still aimed. She decided to move around to the other aisle, but as she moved, she slipped on the rice that was scattered all over the floor, landing flat on her back. Dennis’ shoes slapped on the tile as he ran over to her.
Remmy saw him round the corner, gun held in both hands, straight out in front of him, and it was suddenly pointed at her head. Without thought, she raised her hand, letting the utility knife go. She watched in fascination as it tumbled end over end, finally embedding itself in his throat, right above his Adam’s apple.
Dennis’ eyes grew wide, a wet sound erupting from his throat, the gun falling to the floor with a clang. He grabbed at his throat. Remmy kicked the gun out of his reach, crying out in surprise as she was suddenly grabbed from behind, an officer helping her to her feet.
Julie watched as the officers got the doors open using Joan’s keys, four
of them rushing in with guns raised. She fought against Matt’s arms, trying
desperately to run to the store, but he held her tight.
“No!” he said between gritted teeth as he struggled with his sister. “Julie, no!”
“Let me go! Matt, let me fucking go!”
She saw the doors pushed open, a dazed Remmy being led out, her t-shirt covered in blood, as well as blood dripping from her eye.
“Remmy!” Julie screamed, finally shoving Matt away from her and running, nearly knocking two police officers down in her haste to reach Remmy.
“Oh, Julie,” Remmy breathed, taking the blonde in her arms, holding her for dear life. she was exhausted, hurting, and wanted to sit down, but all of that was forgotten as she felt the warm body pressed against her. “Shh, don’t cry,” she whispered, Julie sobbing against her.
Remmy had been long asleep, her wounds looked at when she’d been forced to go to the hospital after the incident. Her face was horribly bruised, as was her tailbone from where she’d landed. Her shoulder was dislocated and had been set, a plaster cast running from mid-bicep to her wrist. In short, she was miserable.
Julie lay behind her, body wrapped protectively around her, hand resting on an upturned palm. She studied Remmy’s profile, a finger gently tracing around the harsh bruises, her touch feather light. She leaned down, placing a soft kiss on top of Remmy’s head, then lay her head on the pillow, burrowing as close to Remmy as she could.
She thought back over the day, and the aftermath of what had happened. Dennis Collins hadn’t died from his injuries, though he’d lost a great deal of blood. They were able to get to him in time. Remmy had been happy about that- now he could stand trial for what he’d done to the Bailey family, as well as to her. He refused to say why he’d murdered Yvonne and Tyler, but Julie figured that would come out in time. Perhaps the D.A. would make some sort of deal with him: no death penalty if he confessed and told his story. Who knew.
One thing Julie knew was that she was exhausted, her emotions all over the place over the course of the day. She’d never been so grateful for anything as she was when she saw Remmy walk out of that building, alive and in one piece. How much more could Remmy take, Julie wondered. She was strong, but even the strongest could break. What was Remmy’s breaking point? When would she have taken enough mental- and physical- abuse, to where she’d lock her gift down for good, refusing to help. Julie stood by her completely, and understood if that was what Remmy choose.
Julie tightened her hold on Remmy and closed her eyes. It was a lot to think about. A lot to talk about. Tomorrow.
Epilogue: A year later
The sun overhead was hot, but there was enough of a breeze that it made the day pleasant, beautiful, even. Hand in hand, Remmy and Julie walked through the thick, well-maintained grass, watching as a lone bird took flight. Julie shaded her eyes with her hand, watching the bird until it was out of sight.
“I think we’ve got a good shot at breaking this case,” Remmy said, beginning to lightly swing their joined hands.
“Oh, yeah? Think you can catch him, tiger?”
Remmy smiled. “Yes I do.” She smiled over at the blonde who returned it.
“At least the media has been considerate, huh?” Julie said, referring to the agreement after the events of the previous year. The newspaper and news stations were not allowed to know of Remmy’s involvements in any cases, nor were they allowed to report it, should they find out. That was Remmy’s bargain with Grace and the Woodland Police Department, if they wanted her help. Julie squeezed Remmy’s hand affectionately. “I have no doubt you’ll get your man.”
They walked among the rows, following the map Julie had been given at the main office, finally finding the spot. They stopped, both looking at the simple granite stone:
Sergio X. Venti
February 4, 1964- November 5, 2007
They looked on in silence, no words necessary. Julie searched herself, her brain and her heart, and realized that as she stood before the grave, she felt nothing. No fear. No terror. No anger. Nothing. She’d come to realize over the past year that he hadn’t taken anything from her, only given. Without him, she never would have Remmy in her life.
Remmy studied Julie’s profile, wondering what was going through her head. Finally she squeezed her hand, just before letting it go. She wrapped her arm around the slender shoulders, gently bringing Julie against her. She kissed Julie’s cheek. “He can’t hurt you anymore,” she said, voice soft.
Julie leaned into Remmy, looking up at her with a gentle smile. “He can’t hurt us anymore.”
Remmy returned the smile. “Let’s go home.”
Note from the author: This was one heck of a journey for me, and I thank you for taking the ride with me. This was a difficult story to write at times, but one I felt needed to be told. Women are abused every single day in this country, and others around the globe. Here’s for a better future for women and children. KP
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