Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hump Day - Ch. 11

Tabitha would forever remember last Wednesday with fondness. Although she and Sebastian had eaten out at a regular all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant with none of the frills that he normally would have had with Alzora, she’d still felt special to him. Not only did he allow Tabitha to have the seat of safety, Sebastian continually touched her hands over dinner, stared lovingly into her eyes as they conversed, and basically handfed her most of her meal.

Even now, Tabitha felt her body stirring as she remembered how sensual it had been to have Sebastian’s hands upon her mouth as he fed her, to have his large fingertips caress her bottom lip before he withdrew each time.

After dinner, they went to the park and walked and talked for hours on that mild, starlit March night. They talked about everything and anything that came to mind. When they finally said goodnight later at her car, Sebastian kissed Tabitha on the forehead and admonished her to ‘give them heck up there in Leeward’.

The fact that Sebastian substituted ‘heck’ for another word was further evidence of his change of heart. He’d been one cursing cop while they were partners. She had been, too. But then again, most of the cops Tabitha knew swore as if it was another thing that had been ingrained in them during training.

Fortunately, she tried to use other words now, garnering her yet another nickname among her peers. Tabitha would take squeaky-clean any day over half-bred, which was the name she’d been called from grade school through high school.

Although Sebastian had said nothing of returning to Leeward himself, Tabitha was almost positive that he would one day. After all, her destiny was there and if they were going to be together, he would have to find his way back there, as well. Especially since all the things she was called to change in Leeward would take some time. And Chief County Detective Armstrong was not known for his patience.

This cool and windy last Wednesday in March, Tabitha was far from bored. For one thing, her workload was increasing because she was now being utilized in the field more. No longer could the department justify keeping her behind a desk for most of the day – doing lousy paperwork that no one else wanted to do. Not when she had specialized skills that were needed on the streets of their growing city. No longer would there be a problem with finding a proper partner for Tabitha. A lot of the things she did now didn’t require one, or at least a steady one.

As for those specialized skills, in one week Tabitha had already proven herself to be a noteworthy detective. How? By providing important information on a case that had others in their department stumped.

This particular case involved a local doctor whose wife had supposedly committed suicide with one gunshot to the head. None of their neighbors, friends, or relatives had even known that the woman was depressed, much less depressed enough to do something like that. Yet the husband insisted that his wife had been suffering from depression for months now. He’d been treating her himself and had the medical records and pharmacy data to prove it.

Although for all intents and purposes it appeared as if this was another open and shut case, Tabitha’s gut feeling told her that something wasn’t quite right in this picture. Not only was the man too calm for someone who’d just lost his wife, he was also too focused on winding his black-faced Rolex watch every five minutes or so.

From Sebastian’s class, Tabitha learned that the body always wanted to tell the truth even when the mind didn’t. And that in keeping our bodies from doing so, people would display many contrived mannerisms like wringing of the hands, pulling of the earlobes and hair, adjusting the clothing, etc. In this doctor’s case, he was too focused on his watch, as if he needed to do something with his hands.

Going on that gut feeling, Tabitha went back into the man’s history to find out if any other women in his life had ever committed suicide. As it turned out, the doctor’s college girlfriend had also killed herself and in the same manner – one gunshot to the head. It had also been an open and shut case. The zinger was the fact that the then medical student boyfriend claimed that his girlfriend had been depressed and stressed out about her studies. That she’d also been too ashamed to tell anyone about it but him in order to explain why no one else knew of the woman’s distress.

Taking her findings to Capt. Meacham and others in her department, Tabitha’s hunch was soon acted upon. The doctor ended up confessing to both murders after a lengthy interrogation. Unfortunately, Tabitha was not given public credit for providing such pivotal information. Yet she was looked upon with more respect within her department than she ever had before. She deemed that at least something to be grateful for and swallowed the sense of injustice she felt about the rest.

In time, Lord, Tabitha mused, willing herself to be even more patient.

She smiled as she recalled what else she could be grateful for. Today was the day that she was going out to the Armstrong property to take down that ‘For sale or lease’ sign. She’d finally taken Herschel and Cree up on their offer and was now going to be leasing their property. Goodbye studio apartment. Hello rolling hills and serene lake.

Tabitha’s ten-year-old brother, Roland, was going to love all that extra room to roam and play. He often complained of feeling cooped up in the new townhouse their parents moved into three years ago when their old home had been sold to make way for the new shopping mall.

The Montebellos deliberately opted not to purchase another single dwelling where they’d have to be responsible for the outdoor maintenance. Christeene and Royce were getting up in years and were interested in making their lives as carefree as possible now, which is why they chose to live in a townhouse.

When Tabitha went out to the Armstrong property later that evening right around sunset, she discovered that someone had already removed the ‘For sale or lease’ sign. That same someone had also started trimming the grass around the main house with a riding lawnmower which now sat in the yard unoccupied.

Driving up the lengthy stretch of road to the elongated four-bedroom red brick edifice and its matching rear placed two-bedroom guesthouse, Tabitha immediately recognized the white vehicle parked out front. It looked just like the Chevy Tahoe that Sebastian drove.

Could it be him? Tabitha mused as excitement slammed into her.

Quickly getting out of her own vehicle, everything in her wanted to run into the unlocked house and throw herself into Sebastian’s arms. But as a wise policewoman, Tabitha couldn’t help but be cautious. After all, it might be someone who just had a car like Sebastian’s.

Making hardly a sound, she slowly opened the front door. Tabitha’s eyes scanned this way and that as she stealthy entered the house. The living room and kitchen lights were on. From what she could see, only scattered crates and boxes, and a black tote bag near the east wall populated the immediate area.

Whose bag is that? Tabitha mused, acutely aware of her weapon at all times like the good cop that she was. In fact, her right elbow was pressed against the glock now. Her right hand was ready to draw it out at any moment.

Tabitha knew that if an officer’s weapon was taken from him/her, chances were that he/she would be killed with it. She wasn’t about to let that happened to her. Not today. Not when she had so much to live for.

“Very good, Detective Montebello,” a male voice said from around the living room corner near the kitchen area.

Tabitha instantly recognized that voice. Then when the stranger finally stepped into her line of vision, her eyes glossed over with joy.

* * *

“I heard your vehicle coming up the drive. But I deliberately stayed in the house to see if you would forget about being a cop for even a second and come rushing into an unlocked dwelling without taking the proper precautions,” Sebastian said as he entered Tabitha’s presence more fully with his hands raised above his head.

“I knew it was you.” She beamed as her body visually relaxed.

Sebastian gave her a wide grin. “Of course you did. Now are you going to pat me down or just stand there gawking at me?” he teased, keeping his hands in the air. With his arms raised like that a bit of hairy torso could be seen under his gray Calvin Klein cotton sweatshirt.

“You must want to be shot, trespassing like this.” Tabitha laughed as her eyes zoomed in on that glimpse of mahogany torso.

She approached him, removing her black holster as she did. She sat it on the wooden crate by the living room closet on the west wall. She didn’t need a gun around this man. Tabitha trusted Sebastian with her life. Maybe not with all of her heart just yet, but most definitely with her life. That missing part would undoubtedly come later once she was sure that he wouldn’t be leaving her again.

“Property owners can’t trespass,” Sebastian countered as he lowered his hands to his sides. “You haven’t actually decided to buy the land yet, remember?”

“Right, right. So to what do I owe this pleasure? Last I heard, you were never coming back to Leeward. And why aren’t you in class tonight?” Tabitha asked, standing in front of him now with legs wide, one foot back, chest out, and arms and hands free. Not only did her stance provide for better balance and stability, the personal space she gave them both made for a quicker reaction time in case of trouble. All smart cops practiced it, because they knew that it could mean the difference between life and death for them.

“My next class doesn’t start until April,” Sebastian replied as his eyes scanned Tabitha’s appearance. He liked that the sapphire-colored turtleneck matched her eyes. That the black slacks were formfitting to her shapely frame.

Yes, this is why I ‘had’ to return, he mused as the desire in his body jumped around like corn kernels in hot oil.

Suddenly Sebastian’s face and tone grew serious as he unveiled his innermost thoughts. “As for what brought me back, that was you, Tab.” He reached for her waist and pulled her to him, not wanting any personal space between them.

“Me?” Her eyes danced with excitement at his words. Their lips were only inches apart now.

“Yes, you. I wanted to make sure that the property was in tip-top shape for you before you moved in. I also couldn’t wait any longer to see you again,” Sebastian replied, allowing his breath to mingle with hers before his lips slowly descended.

Tabitha willingly allowed his tongue access into her mouth. She was hungry for Sebastian, her soul-mate. Putting her arms about his strong neck, she surrendered wholeheartedly to the joy of kissing him again.

Sebastian released a deep groan at her eagerness. It excited him so much that he drew her down to the newly swept hardwood floor and placed himself securely between her willing legs.

“What a welcome home, baby,” Sebastian said, breaking the kiss briefly as he pressed himself even closer to her, willing her to meet his challenge.

Tabitha met the challenge readily as she wrapped her legs about his waist. “You’re not home yet, baby. This is just first base. You still have to make it past second and third.” Then she instinctively began to buck against him, displaying that hot-blooded side that Sebastian adored so much.

Though he chuckled at her words, his laughter soon turned into fierce desire as their lips met again for another intense kiss. In the time that it took Sebastian to dip his head lower to deepen the kiss, there was suddenly the sound of breaking glass.

The curtain-less living room window had been struck by several bullets fired from outside. Two more shots were fired shortly thereafter, hitting the driver’s side window of Sebastian’s vehicle. The sound of a car speeding away followed right after that.

Someone had obviously been watching the kissing couple from the main road. That same someone had decided to give Sebastian another kind of welcome home.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

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