Cara Michaels’ Picture Choice: 1
Title: Miss Me, -Kait
I reeled her in closer. It felt good to hold her, but just the regular kind of good. Whatever psychic shindig we shared, she had it locked down tight. Fine tremors ran through her body and I only caught broad sensations. Cold. Wet. Fear. Nothing specific.
“C’mon, babe,” I said. “Help me out here.”
Some GPS coordinates, maybe.
“I don’t think ‘babe’ is proper police vernacular,” she said through chattering teeth.
I squeezed her tight, half laughing. “If I don’t lose my badge altogether for cozying up to my psychic, I seriously doubt I’ll be working with you again.”
“Cozying.” Riley snorted. “Right. Yeah, this has all been real fucking cozy.”
“This part isn’t so bad,” I said, rubbing my cheek gently along hers, my words touching her ear in a warm breath. She shivered in my arms and entirely inappropriate thoughts of more pleasant ways to make her tremble took over my head.
Both of my heads.
“Uh, I hate to interrupt…”
Hannah’s grating voice wrecked a perfectly good moment. Riley bolted away from me, cheeks hot, nearly stumbling in her haste to break the connection. Okay, yeah. Wrong place, wrong time. Head in the game, man. Head in Riley. Oh, shit. Fuck. I hoped like hell she didn’t pick up on that thought.
Riley pointedly looked anywhere but at me.
I fully understood now why she kept so much to herself. She didn’t have anyone in her life who got her, who could share the burden. And I’d seen enough of Riley’s mind when we kissed to know she carried some serious weight on her shoulders.
I wanted her. And the weight. Trouble hand delivered to my door, but I’d happily sign for it.
“But seriously, what the fuck is going on with you two?”
Thankfully, Hannah’s voice had the same effect as visualizing the “no wire hangers” scene from Mommy Dearest. I reached out to steady Riley as she turned a look on Hannah, the anger in it enough to have the younger woman paling.
“Carson,” Riley said.
One word reduced brassy Hannah to babbling and tears. She slapped a hand over her mouth, on the verge of hyperventilation. I had to let Riley go and take Hannah by her shoulders, sitting her on the closest bench, shoving her head down to her knees.
“Slow and easy, Hannah,” I said, shooting Riley a question with my face. Carson? A who, a what, a where? I could think of any number of answers to fit Carson. None of them would make a teenaged girl cry. Well, maybe Carson Daly… fifteen years ago.
“Who told,” she said, over and over in hitching gasps.
Out on the lake, jet skis and boats raced around. Laughter and shouts just barely reached us on the shore. The noise drowned out Hannah’s mutterings long enough for me to miss a change.
“He’ll kill us. Oh, God, he’ll kill us.”
“Tell me where the drive is, Hannah,” Riley said. “The purple zip drive you gave Kait.”
Wide eyes, the blue iris nearly swallowed by the pupil, darted between me and Riley.
“I can’t,” she said. “I have to give it to him.”
I badly wanted to butt in, to ask questions, to request a copy of the script so I could have an idea what was coming. My gut told me to let this play out. I could ask questions when Riley finished.
“You have it then?” Riley asked.
Hannah shook her head. “I know where it is.”
Riley reached out, brushing a hand over Hannah’s hunched shoulder. Hannah shied away from the touch, but I saw the triumph in Riley’s dark eyes. My pocket psychic had some slick moves.
“He won’t get to you, Hannah,” Riley said.
“Good luck keeping your promise.” She sneered. “We told Kait the same thing.” Her eyes flickered, the muscles twitching. “You see how well that turned out.”
“Watch me,” Riley said. She grabbed my arm and practically dragged me toward the car. “We need someone here to sit on these kids now.”
“I know where the drive is. And I have some idea what’s on it. We have to get to it before Hannah does. She’ll turn it over and there will be no saving Kait.”
“From Carson, right?” I shook my head. “Who is Carson?”
She took a deep breath. “Senator Roger Carson.”
Images of the likable U.S. Senator came to mind. A man on the short list for future VP. A man who might do anything to avoid the glare of negative press. I gaped at Riley, searching for words. I came up with, “You’re shitting me.”
“How is he involved?”
“We need to get the drive. Whatever Kait has on him is there.”
“Okay, then.” I jumped for the car. Sliding in behind the wheel, I grabbed the dash radio and called in to my station. It took ten minutes of stalling and herding to keep the kids at the lake until three units showed up. Satisfied they would be looked after, I herded Riley into the car.
In the driver’s seat, I held my hand out, palm up. Riley reacted as though I held out a spider. She shrank back against the door.
“You don’t want this, Murray.”
“Nope,” I said. “Not even a little bit.” Patience. I could wait her out. “Do you know where Kait is?”
“Not exactly, no.”
“Then I might see something you didn’t. We get Kait, then we get the drive. What we don’t do is leave her to whatever had you shaking like a drunk in delirium tremens.”
Reluctantly, her hand came to rest over mine. Our fingers laced and Riley’s eyes unfocused.
Kait, cold and wet, sat huddled against a dark wall. A lone light came from somewhere above her like a weak spotlight. She tipped her face to the thin illumination, her lips mouthing something over and over. I watched the repetitions until I could make sense of them.
Please don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.
The words gained volume until I realized Riley spoke them. I shook myself out of the vision or whatever. Riley’s lips moved, frantically repeating the words. I lifted my free hand to her cheek, but she didn’t rouse.
“We have to find Kait, babe,” I said. “Before I lose you.”
Cara Michaels is the author of the Gaea’s Chosen sci-fi romance series and host of the #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge.