Dead Heat: Shattered Hearts Ch. 01byvelvetpie©
I remember the first time I saw her.
She was naked and covered with blood. Her dark eyes were wild and filled with rage as she crouched in the corner of the living room, a mother fiercely guarding her cub. Her coffee-colored skin was split and streaked with her life essence but she did not seem to feel the pain. She wielded the chef’s knife with the expertise of a woman who’d needed to use it for something other than chopping carrots. Her short-nailed hand was sure around the hilt, as sure as her mind was sure around the welfare of her son, Benjamin.
The apartment had been dark, violently devoid of light bulbs due to the drunken charm of her husband, Ronnie. He had come home three sheets to the wind and had expected her to give him a piece of ass. Shoving his sweat-soaked penis into her mouth had proven to be Fyona’s last straw. From neighbors who had seen the entire thing through the ground-floor open window, Fyona Washington had endured a beating that would have left other women broken and unconscious. That it didn’t affect her was a testament to the fact that she’d received too many of them.
When she hadn’t folded like a rag doll, Ronnie had gone after the kid and Fyona had protected her son with her life and that knife. When my partner and I had arrived, Ronnie was lying at the bottom of the stairs, his life bubbling out of his mouth with every breath he took and she was still crouched in the corner, still gripped in the fear of the moment and unwilling to let anyone touch her or her beloved son.
“Mrs. Washington, I’m Officer Stoneham. Please let me help you.” Her eyes connected with mine and I could see that there was nobody home. Her mind was far away and the way she held the blade made me think that she only saw me as another man intent on harming her. I slowly backed away from her and went into the bedroom. A flowered robe was tossed over a chair and I grabbed it, heading back to her and making a slow approach.
This time, her eyes followed me, the weapon raised and the child’s hands on her bare shoulders. “My name is Pete.” I spoke gently, aiming the conversation at the boy. “What’s your name?”
“Mykal, it’s very important that your mother put the knife down.”
“Is he gone?”
The fear in the child’s eyes made my heart slam angrily in my chest. No child should have to endure what Mykal obviously had. “Yes, Mykal. He’s gone. He won’t be bothering you or your mother again.”
“He hurt my mommy.”
“Yes, he did, but he’s gone now and that won’t happen again.” I looked into her eyes then, slowly holding the robe out to her. “Mrs. Washington, please. Put the robe on and let me help you.”
It took several seconds before she moved and only because Mykal put his arms around her neck, sobbing with a six-year-old’s pain. “Mommy, he’s gone! He’s gone! Please wake up! Please!” His tears touched her and she set the knife down, shrugging into the robe. When I approached, she snatched the weapon up again.
“Is he really gone?” I nodded and watched her come apart. She grabbed her son to her shattered body and hugged him while she sobbed. When the ambulance came, she would only allow the attendants to care for her as long as Mykal was holding her hand.
That child was her life. So I dreaded having to see her again with the news I had to give her now. She had bought a house on the edge of town and it was at this home that I now parked my squad car in front of. An SUV was parked in the driveway. I passed it, taking the neat flagstones that wove a path between a carpet of impatiens and marigolds, leading to the front door.
The woman that opened that door was far from the Fyona Washington that I had first met. This woman was a knockout. Shoulder-length black hair framed her oval face and her skin was a shade of brown that crayons would be envious of. Soft and supple, it stretched unwrinkled over high cheekbones and rounded chin. I was surprised to find myself itching to touch it. Her brown eyes displayed confusion, then filled with fear.
“I don’t know if you remember me, ma’am, but I’m Pete Stoneham.” It had been almost ten years since our first meeting and there were so many other white faces in that room that day that I didn’t think she’d remember me.
“Yes, I remember you.” The timbre of her voice stroked my heartstrings. A blush crept over my face as I thought about what it would sound like when she came. “You were there that day … “ She suddenly stopped. “Um, I know it’s been a long time, but what are you here for?”
“Would you mind if I came in?” I slipped my hat off. “It’s very important.”
“Is it Mykal?”
“Mrs. Washington … “
“No, tell me now. Is it my Mykal?”
“Yes, ma’am.” I answered quietly.
I saw the fear overtake her. “Is he d … dead?”
“No, ma’am.” I took her shaking hand, taking the opportunity to curl my arm around her waist. “Your husband, Ronnie, has escaped and has taken him hostage.”
I had the lovely Fyona Washington in my arms at last. She had fainted dead away.