It was a matter of minutes before Blane was pulling into Kathleen’s parking lot. He’d used the Jag’s speed to his advantage, the streets deserted at this time of night. He grabbed his gun from the glove box, checking the clip to make sure it was loaded, then shoved it the back of his pants. Its comforting weight against the small of his back eased Blane’s peace of mind. He hated having to go unarmed.
He knocked on Kathleen’s door, waiting impatiently for her to answer. His skin was practically twitching at the idea that she wasn’t safe. It was with relief that he saw the door open and she stood there, unhurt.
Kathleen didn’t say anything, just stepped back so Blane could enter. He could tell at once she was in shock. Her face was stark white, her eyes barely seeming to focus on anything.
Blane took her arm and led her to the battered couch, sitting next to her and taking her hands in his. They were freezing and fine tremors shook her, though she seemed wholly unaware of it.
“Your hands are like ice, Kathleen,” Blane said. “Tell me what happened.” He gently rubbed her hands, trying to ground her before she recounted her tale. Blane had lost count of the times he’d done this with family members and friends of victims of a violent crime. Their reactions were almost always the same. Shock, horror, fear, grief.
She looked up, her eyes wide. Haltingly, she spoke.
“I was asleep. Something woke me. I heard arguing. I thought it was Sheila and her boyfriend, Mark. Then it stopped.
“I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was worried about her. So I got up and went over to her place.”
Tears started slipping down her cheeks, tracks that spilled from eyes made even more brilliant blue from the saline. She wasn’t sobbing or making any noise at all as she told him what happened. She just cried. It was like a punch to Blane’s gut, and he was forcefully reminded of the supposed power of a woman’s tears over the opposite gender. He’d always thought himself immune.
“The door was open, so I went in,” she continued. “And she was in her bed. And blood was everywhere—” She couldn’t continue. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to take her in his arms while she cried on his shoulder, her small form shaking with the force of her grief.
Blane held her closer than appropriate, but couldn’t seem to help himself, running his hands up and down her back and cursing himself six ways from Sunday for enjoying holding her a little too much for a situation such as this. He justified it by reminding himself that she was alone.
Tiffany A. Snow
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