Trinity Island – Chapter 13

December 31, 2012 at 10:33 am (Trinity Island)

Claire checked her outfit in the full-length mirror, satisfied with her appearance. The dress was a deep blue shimmery silk that barely skimmed to mid thigh and dipped low in the back. She left her hair to flow in golden waves down her back. Most of her height was in her legs so she went with spiked pumps to continue the line. A small jeweled handbag was her only accessory, enough to carry her cell phone, a lipstick and some cash.

She stepped into the front hall just as she heard his truck pull up out front. She waited for him to come around and then she opened the door. And smiled when he stopped dead in his tracks to stare up at her. His eyes warmed and his smile was just this side of wicked, making her heart skip a beat. He stepped in close, took her hand and placed a warm kiss against her fingers.

“You sparkle in that dress,” he said, teasing a tendril of her hair through his fingers. His fingers trailed down her back, sending a shiver up her spine. “I should be taking you dancing.”

“Perhaps next time. I’m looking forward to dinner.” And to getting her breath back. His dark suit fit him perfectly, the jacket accentuating his broad shoulders and lean hips. He’d shaved and he wasn’t wearing cologne, which she preferred.

Galen leaned in close to her, his breath warm on her cheek. His lips skimmed lightly across hers, his fingers stroked the side of her face. Her lips parted and he moved to sink in, and then he angled slightly away.

“If I start, I won’t stop.”

Reluctantly, he pulled away and led her down the steps to his truck. He grabbed a step stool from the back so she wouldn’t have to hike her dress up to her waist just to get in. His body wasn’t strong enough to take that kind of torture. He closed the door for her and didn’t see her adjust her dress a little higher than normal.

He drove to the restaurant, proud that he’d kept his eyes mostly on the road. Her long legs were distracting and he found his hand trailing along the side of her thigh more than once. He pulled up to the valet parking sign and got out to assist Claire. He skipped the step stool, clasping her around the waist as she swung her legs out. In her towering heels, she stood much closer to his height. He leaned in, her face a scant inch away.

“Dinner first,” she whispered.

“Right,” he said, remembering where they were. The restaurant was designed for romance and people would talk, but he didn’t need to provide them with a show, too. He placed a hand to the small of her back and guided her inside. The maître d’ showed them to their table on the back patio. The weather had cooperated; a light breeze fluttered on the air, and the heat from the sun had tempered to a comfortable level.

They ordered dinner and toasted their mutual return to the island over a glass of champagne. Their appetizers arrived; Claire had the house salad with chilled seafood and Galen had the seafood chowder. Pausing over her next bite, she pointed her fork at Galen.

“Have you returned to the island for good, or are you here temporarily?”

“As far as Victoria is concerned, it’s temporary.” He explained what it was like to be a cop on Vancouver Island. He told her about the calls with no backup, out to the back country. How he never knew what he’d be facing or what the residents would be pointing at him. He’d had four shotguns aimed at him, but thankfully had never been shot before.

“I’ve been stabbed, twice, and don’t tell my ma that,” he warned her.

“She doesn’t know?”

When he shook his head, Claire’s eyes narrowed to slits. “If you’re ever wounded on the job and you don’t tell me about it, you’ll wish they’d finished you off, do you understand me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, shoulders hunching slightly. When her temper leveled off, he let out a quiet breath of relief before continuing. “Once this job is done I’m going to petition for a permanent position on the island. If I don’t get it, then I’ll retire from the force.”

“I think we’re long overdue for proper policing on Trinity. We don’t even have any volunteer officers, do we?”

Galen shook his head. If they’d had some volunteer help, he’d have been able to tap them to assist with the questioning instead of dragging Mac away from his duties at Wallis House all the time.

“Thanks for letting me steal some of Mac’s time.”

Claire waved that away. “Mac’s time is mostly his own. He’s always been on top of things around the house.” She sipped from her champagne glass as the waiter cleared their appetizer dishes.

“Who do we have to petition to, to get a police officer assigned to Trinity?”

“The Feds. We have to show need, which we can justify through population. And we have to show that we can provide the necessary equipment, housing, and such with little financial assistance from the government. That will be easiest, because if the Feds don’t have to pay for it, they’ll be more likely to rubber stamp it.”

“How is the building you’re currently in? Is it sufficient for your needs?”

Galen brought up a mental picture of his temporary station. The building was an unoccupied house and it was surrounded by houses, which might be an issue if he had drunks coming to spend a night in jail. He didn’t know who owned the place; Mac had taken him there the first day and said it had been set aside for his use. The structure likely wasn’t built to support a couple of jail cells, so would have to be upgraded. It wasn’t ideal, but it was workable, and he told her so.

“Well, there are quite a few vacant buildings around town, so perhaps you could find one that would be better suited.” Claire knew that part of the Wallis Foundation included the ownership of several buildings, but hadn’t contacted her father’s wife to determine their current state. She would do that if Galen asked her to, but she’d put it off as long as possible. The impression she had of Trent’s sister, both from Jenna and from Mrs. T, was not flattering.

Claire gave him a few details about the changes she was making to the Turret Room. “The architect will be here in two weeks and then I’ll know if I can have the room Jenna designed. Well, I’ll have it,” she said, “I’ll just know if it’s going to be a big bill or a massive one.”

They talked all through dinner about her plans for Wallis House and the surrounding land. She estimated it would take close to a year to have the preparations for the site and the program completed and she hoped to have the first batch of students come to Trinity next September.

“A year seems like so much time, but once we get started, it will fly by.”

Dessert came and they’d moved back to Galen’s plans for the community policing station. “Eventually I’d like to have a couple of full-time officers working with me. Trinity is growing in population and already it’s too big a job for one person to handle, but if that’s all I can get at the start, then that’s what I’ll take.”

“Once the station is established, is it just a matter of money to get more staff hired?” Claire scooped up a spoonful of her Trinity Cream. Another name for crème brûlée, her trinity cream had a hint of mocha espresso flavor and came topped with fresh raspberries.

“Not quite. It will still have to be run through the Fed, with the job postings coming through the RCMP. Again, if we can pay for it locally then it will be easier to get those postings.” Galen had opted for the chocolate cake with warm salted caramel sauce. He shared a tiny bite with Claire and accepted a generous spoonful of her dessert before hogging the rest of his cake.

“I haven’t looked at the books for the foundation yet, but I’m quite certain there’s enough to support your station.”

“I hope so. I plan to make a formal petition to the foundation once I have a better idea of what I’m looking for. I’m focused on the investigation right now anyway.”

“How is that going?” she asked.

“It’s damn frustrating,” he admitted. He told her about his conversation with the mayor, not caring that it probably should have been considered confidential. Technically it wasn’t a part of his official investigation, so confidentiality was a bit of a gray area. “I haven’t decided if the man is involved, or if he’s just an ass who doesn’t really care about those girls. He had affairs with all of them, so perhaps their disappearances made it easier for him to end the flings.”

“You think he killed them to end it?” Claire asked, appalled.

“I don’t think so, no.”

“But you do think they’re dead.”

Galen nodded. “If it were one or two, then I could buy the idea that they’d left the island without notice. But there are ten women missing and so far I’ve only been able to locate one of them. There hasn’t been a single lead on any of the remaining women.”

Claire finished off the last of her dessert and set her spoon beside the dish. “Does that mean you believe they’re still on the island somewhere?”

“I do.” He just didn’t know where. If they were still alive, their abductor would have to have them carefully secured so they couldn’t run away. And the horror of that didn’t bear thinking about. They could be just about anywhere if they were dead.

He changed the subject when the waiter brought his coffee and Claire’s tea. He didn’t want to end their date with talk of missing women. Claire talked a little about Reggie, Olivia, and Anne. She explained how they’d stuck together all through school. If one girl was in detention, they were all in detention. If one got sent to her room without supper, the other three smuggled food in to her. “I expect they’ll all show up at the island at some point.”

“They’re your family. They’ll come to see what you’ve built.” Galen paid the bill and helped Claire into her wrap. The sun had long since gone down and the air had chilled. He collected his truck from the valet and assisted Claire into the passenger seat once more. They drove in a comfortable silence up to her house. He saw her to her door and then leaned in to kiss her.

Claire wrapped her arms around his waist, drawing him in closer. His hand roamed her back, the warmth of his palm heating her skin. She pressed herself into him and heard his groan, so she did it again. He buried his hand in her hair, angling her head to give him better access. His tongue delved deeper, stroking hers. Her brain emptied of all thought. He pulled away to calm himself and she realized that she didn’t want him calm. Stepping back into his embrace, she whispered up to him.

“Stay.”

***

He stood in the trees, hidden from the house. Watching. He enjoyed watching her. So many chances to touch her, to take her, and she didn’t even know it. She didn’t see him, because he blended in. Soon though, he wouldn’t blend in anymore. Not for her. He could take her tonight, once the cop left. That might be nice. He had his workspace all cleared and ready for her.

It was time to show her the path.

He waited for the cop to leave her alone, but then he watched as the cop went inside. His fingers clenched and the tendons stood out in his neck as he fought down the rage building inside him. His breathing became labored. He started to pant.

His mind screamed to him. She’s a whore! Just like all the rest! She’d lied to him, letting him think she cared.

He dropped to his knees and beat his fists on the ground. He didn’t notice as twigs and rocks cut into the skin. Spittle flew as he growled and thrashed. He glared at the house, his eyes bloodshot, his teeth gritted against the anger coursing through him.

He’d have to wait, but the need inside him was too strong. He’d have to wait for Claire, but he still had the other. She wasn’t right. He knew it, but it would have to carry him through. The need was too great to stop now.

He’d come back for Claire.

He’d just have to get rid of the cop first.

***

Kay parked her car outside the house and angled her rearview mirror to check her appearance one last time. She’d spent two hours getting ready for her date. Her lover had called her earlier that day saying he didn’t think he’d be able to get away from his wife, but he’d sent her a text later to confirm that he’d see her at their usual spot. She’d bathed, shaved, primped and perfumed herself until she was confident that he’d swallow his tongue the minute he saw her.

She wasn’t the ingénue he thought she was; she had no illusions towards a life with him. He was married to a woman who was pregnant with his child and he had affairs with just about any woman who looked at him twice. He was a handsome man with terrific hands and a lot of stamina. As a lover, he was unmatchable. As anything else, he was under-qualified. She intended to settle down and marry one day, but it would be to a man who didn’t come from the island. Island men felt that all women were to be enjoyed, whether their wives liked it or not.

The irony was not lost on her. She expected faithfulness from her eventual spouse, though she was currently playing the part of the other woman. She knew that when she made the choice to settle down, she would never play that part again. Nor would she accept the role of unsuspecting wife. There would be openness and trust in her relationship, or there would be no relationship.

Kay opened the car door, pulling her purse across the seat. The porch light was on, lighting the path up to the house. She’d tucked her car off to the side, in her usual spot, leaving room for her lover. She always arrived at the house early. He’d given her a key so she could let herself in and get settled. He didn’t often think of things like mood; she would be the one to get the fire going or light some candles. He might bring a bottle of wine, but mostly he came there for sex.

Which was fine by her. Whistling a tune under her breath, she stepped up onto the porch and slid the key into the lock. Pushing the door open, she automatically turned to disengage the alarm, but it was already off. Closing the door behind her, Kay listened to the house, but all was quiet. She’d been the last to leave the house on their previous rendezvous and she had definitely set the alarm then. The answer popped into her head almost immediately.

He’d been there with someone else and hadn’t set the alarm when he left. It annoyed her that he would need more than her, but it didn’t surprise her. His reputation preceded him by a tremendous distance. She’d known what she was getting into from the start. Now she wondered if this was the end. He’d not planned to come tonight, but had changed his mind nearly at the last minute. Perhaps he’d decided that he’d get it over with and dump her. He could have just done that over the phone.

Kay suddenly didn’t feel like waiting for him. If he was going to dump her then she’d make him come to her. Turning, she opened the door and started to step out onto the porch when she heard a sound behind her. She turned her head, automatically bringing her hand up to block the blow. The fist caught her in the temple, but most of the impact was absorbed by her hand. Struggling with the stars before her eyes, she stepped out onto the porch and tried to run. A hand grabbed her by the hair and hauled her back.

Kay kicked back, stabbing her spiked heel into her attacker’s shin. He howled in pain, his grip loosening up on her hair. Instead of trying to run again, Kay turned and attacked. She punched her attacker in the face, twice. Seeing the balaclava, she tried to rip it off. If someone was going to hurt her, she’d damn well see who it was. He shoved her aside before she could uncover his face. Slamming his fist into the side of her head, he rolled himself on top of her. Grabbing her by the hair, he bashed her head into the floor several times.

The force of the blows made her black out, but she didn’t think it was for very long. When she woke up she was being dragged out of the house, but he’d only gone a few feet. All she could think was that she should have listened to the warning from that Detective. She couldn’t remember what he’d said now, but something about it hadn’t fit and so she’d figured it didn’t affect her. What hadn’t fit? Her head throbbed and wouldn’t hold the thought.

He dragged her down the steps to the ground and across the driveway to her car. Wrenching open her back door, he stuffed her inside and then got behind the wheel. When she looked out the window, she saw that they’d already driven away from the house. She must have blacked out again. She could feel the blood trickling down her face. she woke once more when he slapped her across the face.

“Pay attention, bitch!”

Kay tried to keep her eyes open, but her vision was swimming in front of her, making her nauseous. He still wore the mask and he was dressed all in black. And he had a ring on his right hand. She focused on that, trying to keep her head still. The ring had a thick gold band with a flat top and a piece of onyx set into it. She thought there was a letter etched into the onyx, but she couldn’t make it out. She turned her head to see better and it felt as though the floor gave out on her.

“Can you hear me?” her attacker demanded.

“Yes,” she whispered, not trusting her head to a nod.

“Get off the island or I’ll make you disappear like the others. Do you understand me?”

Kay nodded and her head couldn’t take the abuse. The blackness closed in one last time.

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