Eoin went to get a shower. Aaron called Jasper, giving him a brief report. He heard the water cut off in the bathroom, and saw Eoin walk to his room and fall into bed. Lying face first on the bed, Eoin lay there naked, the light on. Aaron pulled a blanket over the other man and turned out the lamp, before settling for the night.
Luckily for everyone at the Partridge house, the night was quiet and uneventful. Deirdre still woke with a start, after a particularly disturbing dream, which faded as soon as she opened her eyes. Fred was curled at her side, looking so much like Aiden, she felt a lump in her throat. Somehow, the peace of the night made her more nervous. Unable to get back to sleep, she hobbled to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
Tonight, Jasper was the one burning the midnight oil. He smiled up at her, offering her a cup of coffee. Since she didn’t think she’d be going back to bed anyway, she accepted.
“Couldn’t sleep, huh?”
“It’s too quiet, like the calm before the storm. I had a nightmare, some faceless something was following me.” She shuddered. “But it wasn’t exactly running and chasing, more lurking in corners.”
Jasper shuddered too. “Oh, you had to say that. My worst nightmares are like that. What’s sparked it, you think?”
“We’ve put away some very bad people and solved Wendy’s murder. But what I don’t get is, whose idea was this? Bullock’s not smart enough to do this himself. He’s a great patsy, but not a lot of little gray cells to rub together.”
Jasper put his elbows on the table, leaning toward her. “You figure there’s a master mind we didn’t roll in with the others. We had pictures of all those people, lists of names….”
“Yeah, but what if it’s someone who never attended? Wendy would never know.”
“True.” His nod encouraged her to go on.
“It would have to be someone involved with the school. This sort of thing couldn’t continue without a person to cover their tracks. But for the life of me, I can’t think who.” Shaking her head, she sighed. “I want to believe this is over, Jasper, but I’m simply not convinced that it is.”
“We’ve got you covered, Dee. We’ll watch your family.”
“I know, but you can’t do so forever. You have lives and families, and mine can’t live like this. I learned a long time ago to stand up to my fears, but there’s no one, nothing, to confront.”
“I wish I knew what to tell you. I guess we’ll have to figure it out together.”
“Sooner than later.”
They sat and talked until the boys got up. Fred got up with them. Nadeya followed a few minutes later. She and Jasper made breakfast. It was time for the boys to go, and Deirdre hugged and kissed them all three times before she allowed them to leave.
“Wow, Mom,” Corin said. “We’re okay. Chill, huh?”
“I’ll chill when you’re all home safely,” she said, giving him another kiss.
“Ready?” Nadeya said from the living room.
“Yes!” the boys said loudly.
“Thanks, I’m feeling the love,” Deirdre called after them.
“Mom, if we were openly affectionate, you’d think we were sick,” Burl said as he went out the door.
“Boys!” Deirdre complained.
“Who wants a game of Cards Against Humanity?” Fred suggested.
“Anything to take my mind of things,” Deirdre replied.
She, Fred, and Jasper sat down to play.
Aiden was getting weird looks from faculty and students. He wasn’t entirely sure why, but figured it had something to do with Wendy’s death.
“So, you’re the one, huh?” One of his golf team buddies accosted him in the hall between classes.
“What are you talking about, Eddy?”
Eddy shoved him hard. “You’re the one who ratted it all out. I was counting on that scholarship!”
“What they were doing was wrong, Ed. You were their whore.”
“I wasn’t doing anything I didn’t want to. So why didn’t you just mind your own business?” He shoved Aiden again.
“Maybe we should have arrested you along with the others,” Aiden said, standing his ground. “You’re so broken up about it, go cry to someone who gives a f**k. I did the right thing.”
“Bullshit you did!” This time, Ed took a swing.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Dellani Oakes, Sidetracked, Florida, Murder,