Englishman In New York Ch. 13byvelvetpie©
She heard Mainwaring's voice but she was too numb to move. Her arms felt like lead and she was light-headed from the blood pooling in her head. The leather restraints fell away, one by one, and she was helped to her feet, only to find that she could not stand. Strong arms bore her to a place where she was laid down and covered with something. A few minutes later, the blindfold was removed, the suction cups coming away filled with a mixture of her sweat and tears.
She blinked against the strong light, reacting as someone who had stared into a flashbulb and was momentarily blinded. Someone wiped a cold cloth across her eyes, cleaning the detritus away and she raised a hand to rub them, still blinking furiously. A few minutes more and her sight had cleared sufficiently so that Mike's face came into focus, his expression priceless.
"Mike, is that fear I see?"
"Are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Where's Fusco?"
Mainwaring swallowed, his eyes moving to a spot on the floor. "He's over there."
The words didn't sink in until she saw the body, then disbelief clouded her mind. Her partner, her closest colleague was lying on the floor, a pool of blood spread like a blanket beneath him. The cage lay inches from his hand, its barbed spikes threaded with gelatinous flesh. "Victor?"
Detective Mainwaring put his hands on Sutton's shoulders, his voice low as more officers poured into the room. "It was Fusco, Suttie. He was Jack."
"He couldn't have been. How ... "
"I got a call earlier today from a Dr. Morris Webster. He said that he'd been treating Vic for the last ten years and that Jack was one of his manifested personalities."
"Why didn't he contact us before now?"
"Evidently, he was in Baltimore at a convention. He didn't return until this morning and caught up with his reading. That's when he discovered that it was Vic."
A trembling started deep within Sutton that she couldn't stop and she collapsed into tears in Mainwaring's arms. She had come close to death. That wasn't what frightened her the most. It was that all this time, Fusco had been that close to her.
"Take me out of here, Mike. Please. Take me home."
* * * * *
The next few days were filled with more activity than Sutton could handle. Every media outlet wanted to talk to the tough detective that had nabbed the 'Jack the Ripper' killer but she wanted nothing to do with it. She retreated to her house, spending time in front of the corkboard wall of pictures and crying uncontrollably. She had nearly failed them. She had been so immersed in her job, in her search for this killer that she forgot to live. Was that what Christianna would have wanted for her mother, to cut herself off from civilization?
Four days after the killing, she was ordered to the commissioner's office to give a full briefing and emerged from the experience feeling drained. The Chief of Police advised her to take a few days of vacation to collect her thoughts and she agreed, still too emotionally raw from the briefing to protest. As she passed by the detective's office, she paused to look inside and saw what she so longed to be a part of. Mainwaring, Bonatelli and couple other guys were crowded around a desk, joking and laughing together.
She couldn't stop herself. She pushed the door open, stepping into the open space and all eyes turned on her. Sutton swallowed, telling herself that she'd just check her phone for messages and leave just as quietly. Everyone watched her as she walked past, limping slightly from the healing whip wounds, silently observing her silent strength. The first clap froze her in her tracks and she turned to see Mainwaring standing and clapping for her. Bonatelli and the others joined in and within moments, every detective was standing and applauding Detective Candace Sutton's courage.
She made her way to her desk and checked her messages, furiously wiping tears away as she scribbled information down. As she hung up the phone, she noticed a small package in the corner and unwrapped it slowly. Inside was the silver vaginal cage, its prongs intact, except that they were piercing a toy model of Jack the Ripper. A small note attached on the bottom read: Welcome to the Jungle. For some odd reason, the words brought tears to her eyes and she understood what her colleagues were saying. She was always one of them and she was special to the team in a way they weren't. Their masculinity couldn't let them admit their love for her but they were letting her know that she was loved.
Detective Sutton blew her nose, straightened her desk and headed out, relieved to notice that the detective room was back to normal, people answering calls, filling out paperwork and talking about cases. She stopped by the desk where the guys were. "You owe me lunch."
"What?" Bonatelli said, looking at his fellow detectives.
"I know the drill. Solve a case, the crew buys you lunch, right?"
Mainwaring laughed. "Yeah, that's right."
"Good. Each of you owes me lunch."
Sutton walked out of the room, a smile on her face and a fire in her heart. I'm gonna live, Christianna. I'm gonna live.