Vividly Violet Ch. 01bySylverLyf©
She’d done it.
Aspen felt exhilaration laced with exaustion throughout her body, triumph had never felt so good.
After getting her bachelors in Criminal Justice and completing the numerous police training courses, she was finally getting a job at the Waylain Police Station.
Her very first day!
She’d graduated top of her class, ‘Nothing less for a Westenhold,’ her grandpa had said with a firm nod to her father.
Just as there had always been a Brickson in the Mayors office there had been a Westenhold as Chief of Police, just like her dad, her grandfather and great grandfather before him.
Johnny would be the next one as her oldest brother after her father retired. If not him then Viktor or Ian , and now Aspen could through her name in the mix as well.
Her father was beaming at her, pride etched on his normally stern face, “Cake hu? Knew it wouldn’t give you any trouble.” he chuckled, “Heck when you threw your instructor over your head at seven years of age we knew you’d pass with flying colors.”
Aspen blushed, she knew he was referring to the Okinawan Goju-Ryu instructor he had hired to teach her martial arts to keep her occupied. The incident in question had in fact been an accident on her part and a running joke in the family for years.
Johnny engulfed her in a hug that lifted her off her feet, “ Good job kiddo. You know Dad’s gonna work you like a dog now right?” he teased lightly, setting her back on the ground.
Victor and Ian squished her trying to hug her at the same time. “good going squirt,” “lucky break” they teased.
Aspen smiled, there wasn’t any place she’d rather be then with her family.
* * *
‘Omg,’ Aspen silently cried, ‘I cant wait to get the heck away from them!’ Thank god after this shift, a week of freedom.
Maybe I should head out of town? She mused.
“Aspen, where’d you put the coffee filter?!” Ian yelled from the front of the office. The page blurred in front of Aspen once again. It was 3 am and all was quite. All but her loud brother.
“Ian, I don’t know where you put the darn filter!” Aspen yelled back exasperated.
‘This is a work place not home, you moron!’ She silently fumed, attempting to look over the complaint filed by Mr. Sevel about Mrs. Waler’s illegally placed flower bed. ‘Get a room already’ she scowled at the baneful paper.
It hadn’t taken them long to settle into a routine. After a few months on duty, her dad decided she needed to learn the paper work end of the deal. Although Aspen knew it was good training, the fact that he hated doing it with a passion probably had a hand in it as well. She didn’t mind it too much, just didn’t want to do paperwork all the time. She wanted more street time.
Ian had been asking her all kinds of menial, crazy, no-brainer questions for the last four hours of the shift. That coupled with weird dreams, little sleep, and too much caffeine…
It had to stop.
Slamming the paper down she strode to the front of the little office.
“Call in Merkel, It’s my turn to go patrol.” she glared at Ian, daring him to say a word.
He held his hands up in surrender, a wide grin plastered on his face. “Wow what has you so testy? Are you sure innocent pedestrians are safe from your wrath?” he joked, backing dramatically slow to the radio.
“Hey Merk, come in and switch with the kid.” he said to the static in the radio, fractiously eyeing Aspen with caution.
“Roger, be there in a sec. Out.” came the garbled reply of the other rookie.
No sooner then the static of the radio broke the silence, headlights raced across the front windows.
The poor Deputy Merkel looked like a young version of Don Knotts, all legs and arms in true toothpick fashion. He smiled shyly at Aspen as he handed her the keys to the cruiser.
“The West side and North side are finished, was passing here to head to the South Highway.” he dutifully reported, scrawny shoulders held stiff with formality..
She tried not to growl at him, “Thank you, Merk.” with a nod to Ian. “I’ll hit East side then patrol the South Highway.”
Ian grinned and waggled his fingers at her in a wave, tormenting his little sister was one of his all time favorite games.
Sliding into the cruiser Aspen felt most of the stress from the last few hours melt away. She loved this town and keeping it safe and protected was something she felt satisfaction in. Patrolling was not just a small task for her. It was one of the main reasons she’s joined.
Aspen laughed, ‘like I had a choice.’
A Westenhold never had the choice, Serve and Protect was in their blood.
The neighborhoods were quite and peaceful. Asleep and secure for the night. She always felt like she was tucking them in for the night when she patrolled.
Mavis Convenience was still open, but then Aspen remembered it was now a 24 hour store. Small things like that had changed over the years.
Aspen smiled, H street had yet to take down their Christmas lights.
‘Well, time to hit South’, she thought.
Longest and loneliest stretch of highway around Waylain.
She chuckled remembering when she had street raced here, once a long time ago. She hadn’t been laughing when Rookie Johnny had pulled her over.
“Aspen head on in now, shifts almost over. I sent Merk home already, he looked kind of green.” Ian’s voice sounded over the radio dragging her from her thoughts.
There was a very nice silver BMW on the side of the road up ahead. It looked to be deserted, but Aspen was watchful.
“Roger, but I’m going to check something first k?”
She radioed back to Ian with license plate and description. She watched as the cruiser’s blue and red lights haloed the area in color.
Pulling up behind the sleek, elite car, she slowly stepped out of the cruiser and looked around. Still nothing moved, she approached the driver side with vigilance and her hand cautiously curved on the butt of her pistol.
Her eyes constantly scanning, something didn’t feel right. In fact, besides the adrenaline shredding thru her veins, she was feeling a tight cold stone in her gut, malevolent, like something was watching.
Cueing the mike, “Ian some things wrong here.” she whispered, struggling to keep her voice calm an level. “Can you send some one? I’m seven miles out on South. Hurry.”
She glanced into the back window of the car, eyes still avidly watching the timberline, ears deafened by the unnatural stillness in the nature load forest around her.
A bulky, loose canvas was spead across the back seat.
It jerked, making her heart leap to her throat.
“Aspen the license came back hot, I say again hot. Stay put, watch your back. I’ll be there in a sec.” the radio crackled, Ian didn’t sound so calm.
The hairs on Aspen’s arms raised, her breathing shallower, despite her attempt to remain calm.
Aspen drew her sidearm, palms slick against the butt of the weapon.
She wasn’t sensing violence from the interior of the vehicle, but a swell of malevolence from the edge of the forest.
The BMW wobbled, as she tried the door handle.
That’s when she heard it.
A muffled scream from the back seat. The canvas was thrashing now.
Hurriedly, Aspen squeezed her hand thru the small opening in the driver side window, grateful for once she was a willowy woman, and had barely unlocked the door when she heard a branch snap thunderously in the trees behind her.
Firearm up she crouched, scanned the tree line with slightly wild eyes, fear crawling up her spine.
Acid burned the back of her throat and her legs were shaking a bit. The ominous feel of darkness squeezed her breath out in a small gasp.
She had focused on freeing the.. thing in the back seat.
Jerking the door open and quickly unlocking the back door, she never took her eyes off the forest. She could feel the rage and malice directed at her, it was causing her breath rapid and shallow.
‘Breath, damn it don’t loose your cool. Calm’, she chanted silently. ‘You have some one else to think about. To save. Get control.’
She sneered to the tree line displaying she wasn’t afraid, as a bead sweat rolled down the back of her neck.
Where the hell was Ian, she thought furiously.
Her eyes whipped back to the tree line, nothing had moved. Worse yet she could no longer feel anything coming from that direction. She did however see Ian’s Cruiser flying her way.
Opening the back door she could feel the canvas thrashing even harder and the gagged screaming could be heard at a sickening softness.
Still watching the trees she gently said, “ I’m Officer Westenhold. Everything is going to be all right. Please stay calm.” The thrashing stopped suddenly only to be followed by rapid shaking and silence.
She pulled the canvas from the back seat carefully rolling it to protect what ever evidence there might be.
Aspen’s heart stopped in her chest.
A blonde woman was under it.
After the initial startle, Aspens brain went into detail mode.
Female. App 23-29 years of age. Blindfolded. Face had been bruised and bloodied severely, indicating trauma. Gagged. Bound feet and hands with large common zip ties. Her body was about 5’3 had smaller bruises in numerous places, darker around the ribs. Perhaps kicked?. Stripes. Had bloody lashes all up the her back, legs and arms. Whip? Alive, but terrified.
Aspen couldn’t see if she had been brutalized in other ways, but the fact that the woman was naked and damaged in this way left no doubt in her mind.
Aspen used her cop voice, “Ma’am, im going to remove the bildfold and the blinds.” reassuring the woman she was no threat.
As the blind fold fell, Aspen’s eyes locked with the woman’s the shell shocked violet gaze.
Vividly Violet. All that was recognizably human in the face was the eyes. Pleading. Half way between hope and terror, leaning heavily into terror.
Aspen began whispering soothing nothings, trying to draw the terror out like poison from a snake bite.
She gently stroked the side of the woman’s battered face, keeping the nightmare of reality out. Aspen didn’t move from the woman’s side. Eyes locked, the woman seemed to copy Aspen’s breath and heart beat in time. Aspen didn’t know if she or the woman was hypnotized.
Aspen could hear Ian pull up and get out of the car but she couldn’t tear her eye away from the woman’s.
“Aspen, what.” Ian began.
“Ambulance, now” she commanded, cutting off his questions.
Ian didn’t hesitate, he called it in. Then began securing the scene.
“I’m going to remove the bonds and gag now. Your safe, its all right.” she whispered gently, slowly moving to untether the leather from the woman’s ankles and wrists, smoothing the woman’s hair down to remove the plastic gag.
The freed woman curled around Aspen and began to sob, wrenchingly deep sobs that tore Aspen’s heart to shreds, even as the small woman crushed her ribs in a fierce hold. Early morning light was peaking over the forest, defeating the oppressive darkness.
Aspen looked helplessly up at her brother, who had finished his initial walk thru.
Ian’s face harsh with understanding.
“Where’s that damn ambulance!” He barked into the radio.
The woman in Aspen’s arms flinched and tensed, clutching her tighter.
Aspen stroked the woman’s matted hair.
She cut a glare at her brother, but stopped when she saw how he looked. Ian hated for people to be afraid of him.
“Shhh,” she cooed, “Its my brother he’s harmless.”
Ian looked helpless standing there.
“Bro, can you get the extra blanket out of my cruiser please?” Aspen said softly, rocking the woman securely and murmuring comfort into her ear.
Ian took the soft blanket out of her trunk. It was Aspen’s favorite blanket that their grandmother had made her. He trotted back over to Aspen. She reached out blindly taking the blanket and securely wrapping it around the woman.
Remembering any part of her job was a struggle for Aspen, but she knew it needed to be done.
“I need to ask you a few questions, ok?” Aspen said as gently as she could, nodding to Ian to get the report papers.
The woman nodded her head slightly but did not lift it from beneath Aspens chin.
“What is your name?” Aspen spoke in soft murmuring tone.
The woman tried to reply, but all that came out was a soft raspy sound and the violent trembling came back. Her violet eyes fighting some internal battle.
Ian looked up, relief played on his features. “Here comes the cavalry.”
Sure enough there was the ambulance, Followed by her dad and two brothers.
“Ian, can you secure the West side of the road.. I’m pretty sure there was some one there. Some one who wasn’t suppose to be.”
Ian’s eyes hardened, “On it.”
Choking on her reassuring smile, Aspen gently said to the woman, “The ambulance is here, they’ll be able to take care of you.”
The woman clutched Aspen tighter, her eyes beseeching Aspen not to abandon her.
“Need me to stay with you?” Aspen asked, to confirm.
The woman’s eyes teared up briefly and she nodded.
Aspen’s solemn eyes, met the struggling violet gaze, “Ok, I wont leave you then.” She lent her strength by her palm, wrapping her hand in the woman’s.
The EMTs rushed over thru the pathway directed by Ian. The woman stonily watched them check vitals and look for obvious broken bones, as she held Aspen’s hand tightly.
Ian was speaking to his dad and brothers, informing them of what he knew. He and Viktor went to tape off the woods. Johnny and the Chief walked up to the scene.
“Dad, can you do a inclusive search on the vehicle? See if we can pick up any more evidence or direction? I don’t think the guy who did this ran out of gas way out here.” Aspen said in a low growl.
The woman shuttered in fear of the reminder of her recent tormenter.
Aspen looked fierce, protective of the woman. “ Don’t worry, I have you now. Nothings gonna happen to you. Your safe.”
She eyed her dad and each of her big brothers.
For the first time since meeting the woman, Aspen smiled broadly, “If any thing you’ll be overprotected for while.”
Each of her family was serious faced as they meticulously combed the crime scene. Every one knew the Westholds were all perfect crime fighting machines. Mistakes were unacceptable, it meant the criminal got away.
Ian and Viktor came out of the woods. Viktor was carrying a chunk of plaster and Ian a shovel. Both grim faced.
This did not bode well, though Aspen. She knew the plaster was a casting of an impression made at whatever scene they had found. The shovel.. Well defiantly not good.
“Officer we need to take her to the Hospital for a compete diagnostic.” the EMT stated, moving to take the woman.
The woman’s hand tightened around Aspen’s.
“Johnny can you take the cruiser back to the office? I’m going to escort her to the hospital.” Aspen stated, firmly.
The woman needed protection, Aspen was no going to leave the woman unattended.
The trip to the hospital was a rapid blur, eye contact was never broken between Aspen and the woman as the ambulance hurled itself thru town to the only hospital.
Only after arriving at the hospital was Aspen forced to release the woman’s hand. Eye contact broken, she was immediately waylaid by the nurses and instructed she could not go in while the woman was being observed.
Aspen did not take the news well and was pondering how much trouble she would be in if she drop kicked the orderly when her father called.
“A grave had been dug, a shot gun in the trunk.”He sighed weary, “The grave wasn’t alone, it looks like there were other places dug up recently. Were waiting for the specialists to come in and confirm. Tenafly looks like a serial killer. I’m sending Merk over to watch over the woman.”
Aspen’s stomach turned.
The malevolence from the woods. She knew she had interrupted something that would not be canceled lightly.
The woman had to be protection.
“Dad, I can take care of that at least. Besides I can watch her better any how, vacation time and all. Sorry I didn’t have the scene set this morning, I don’t know what was wrong with me” she stammered out, realizing she’d only done part of her job this morning.
Silence greeted her for a second, “ Aspen, your not the only one here. We are all a team. One person does not do everything.”
Aspen sighed, “I know, Dad.”
“Ok, watch your back, and I love you. Call if you need anything.”
Seemingly hours to Aspen she was approached by a nurse and told she was allowed to see the woman once again. But only for a few minutes.
Aspen flew down the corridor, but entered the room indicated with a calm she thought she had misplaced. In the room the woman was sleeping.
Aspen watched the rise and fall of the woman’s breath, affirming that she was safe if not unharmed. The adrenaline and fear of the day had caught up with her viciously. Gracelessly, she took the seat in a chair next to the hospital bed as her legs gave out. For a few minutes she shook.
When the nurse entered, Aspen was back in control.
“Miss, you have to leave now. Doctor said no visitors until she wakes.” the nurse was hard faced, Aspen wondered briefly if she and that orderly were related.
“ I believe she is in immediate danger, ma’am. I don’t think it wise to leave her unprotected.” Aspen stated firmly.
The nurse stared hard at her, noting the uniform and left the room in a huff.
It was true, the would be killer was still out there. Unfinished business.
Aspen wasn’t leaving the woman unprotected.
She settled in for the long haul.
“Jasmine. .. Jasmine Stoneheart.” came the soft, raspy reply from the pale woman in the hospital bed.
At the first sound of the woman’s voice, low and naturally husky, Aspen head whipped around as her train of thought derailed.
The woman, Jasmine, had not opened her eyes but she was conscience, which relieved Aspen to no end.
“Nice name.” Aspen said, instantly feeling like a moron. “Um, my name is Officer Aspen Westenhold.