Restoration Pt. 2

Bugs swarmed the air around them. Edith frowned in disapproval of the warm weather and infested area. It seemed, that no matter how far they travelled, the insects followed them and invited their friends to play along. The dress she wore that day only added to her discomfort as it laced through to the top and left no room for adjustments. One week had passed. They had changed temperatures from moderate to scorching. Every breath that she took seemed only to last for a brief moment before fluttering away. The heat intensified and often left her unable to breathe well, if at all.

The horses needed to rest more frequently than before because of the sweltering temperatures. Not that Edith complained. Her own body ached from travel and accompanied with the stickiness of perspiration, it made for unpleasant travel time. According to her newest escort, the mansion in which her father had built was still another half day away. Of course, in the given conditions, this seemed like a colossal amount of time. Snapping of twigs echoed in the background, lingering in the air for far too long.

Of all the madness my father has concocted, this is the worse! Whoever thought that he would choose such a dismal place for us to live!

Even if this was not quite the location of their new home, there hardly seemed to be anything else promising in the state they were in. All she could see, and smell, stretched from one end of their journey to the other. Whatever had possessed her father to consider such living condition must have promised a large garner. For now, she could only judge based off what she saw. Edith peeked out of the curtain of the carriage. Through the swarms of black flies, she saw muddled waters resting still, only disturbed when movement broke the tension.

Branches dipped low, draping over ferns and covered in greenery that she had not seen before. Weeds littered the floor, covering every inch save for the small dirt road in which they rode upon. Even still, water saturated the ground, making the horses work twice as hard to pull them across each mile. Staring in the depths of the muddied water, she saw a ripple disturb the water. A dark figure emerged from the depths, growling deeply. Edith knew what sort of animal it was from the outside.

Though she had never expected to see one in her lifetime, now she could count it as one of the things that she knew about. The thought of crocodiles in the same vicinity as her did nothing to make her feel better about moving to a new state. Quickly, she shut the curtains, frowning with displeasure.

“Is there something wrong, Madam?”

“There are crocodiles lurking in the waters. I suggest we take care when passing near the waters. Likely the horses will be their targets,” she replied.

“Don’t worry, there is a city nearby. We’ll stop there for when it comes to rest.”

“Whoever wants to live out here must be mad,” she whispered under her breath, though she knew that her escorts had caught what she had said. Not that she cared, it was not as if she had been quiet about her opinion of the place thus far. Even though they said nothing, she could tell that they agreed.

Edith settled back in her seat and wished for the city to come soon so she could be away from the crocodiles. The thought of their snapping jaws was enough to make her shudder. They had patience beyond any other creature, often stalking their prey for several days, waiting for them to make one wrong move. The dangers involving such reptiles were ones that she was well aware of, but never did she think that her father would move to a place with them lurking about! No, this was simply madness on his part, a cruel joke at best. Though in her heart, she had the feeling that it was no such thing.

Knowing that this could be where she would spend the rest of her life did nothing to bring her comfort or ease. All she wanted to do was return home to Weston, and with her father. With the thought of her father coming to mind, she wondered if he had changed any. It had been several months since seeing him. Would he still look and sound the same? Would he even pay attention to her once she came? Or was the mansion going to feel empty, just as it had before? The answers to her question remained unknown.

Speculating as to what life would be like was an inefficient waste of time, but it did bring her some happiness to think that there could be a better life for her in the other areas. All she needed to do was believe that he would be available if she should need him. He had been once before, but hopefully, this would not be like before his last departure. Her father had not spoken to her for three days and did not even tell her that he was leaving. Although she was sad, it hurt more knowing that he would not trust her with such important information. Did he think that she would hate him?

While she disliked it, she knew that travelling was a part of his job. She knew that she was going to be alone for the majority of her time. Even though she was of age to marry, her father had kept her around, never accepting any offers from potential suitors. He seemed quite content with just their lifestyle. However, many thought he was foolish for keeping her single for so long. Many were disgusted with her. They thought she should be married and raising children, but it was not up to her. Her father forbade boys from her presence, aside from those approved by him. If he so much as heard that one of the servants had fallen for his daughter, they would no longer work there. Of course, she had never heard of such a thing, but that did little to stop the rumors.

That left a desire to know whom thought she was worthy enough to be a life-long companion. Even if she had no desire in them, she wanted to know. Having admirers did not seem like a bad idea. It always baffled her as to why her father had to be the one who made the choices, but for now, she would abide by them. She really had no choice. If she ran away from home, there would be no place for her to go. Not only that, but she would hate to be separated from her father for the rest of her life. Even if he was hardly around now, he was still there.

She could still come to him with any problems and make sure that she was all right. The thought of knowing that she still had one person who cared in the world brought her small comfort. It was one of those moments where she was trying to pretend that things were not as bad as she thought they were. However, she knew that things could always get worse.

You promised yourself that you wouldn’t think like that anymore.

Of course, how short-lived that promise was. It always seemed to come back and haunt her, the pessimism seemed to feed off her insecurities and doubts. It made a home there every time one sliver came to mind. As much at it hurt, she knew that there was some truth as to the words its slimy tongue spoke. Edith sighed. Today, there would be little escape from them. With the discovery of the true conditions of her new state, they lingered longer than she liked. No matter what, she would try.

Reckless Revenge Pt. 3

Yellow markers littered the small interrogation room. A flash went off every once in a while. Marie Corbin surveyed the chaotic scene around her. Her hair disheveled and the smokiness that once filled the room still occasionally burned when she swallowed. Beneath the stony exterior, anger simmered. Gray powder smudged her white blouse. The black jacket over it had long-since been collected for evidence.

Her shirt would eventually follow. However, two officers were picking through her hair for any particles that may be helpful in their investigation. Corbin had given the best description she could of the person who burst into the room. None of the shots fired were meant to kill. Not for lack of experience either. She had worked on enough crimes to know the difference between an amateur and a professional.

Every shot had missed, but not by much. The bullets had come too close. They were meant to incite panic and fear—to create separation between them and Terrah. The shooter had succeeded. Their only connection to Jaynes taken from their custody.

By one of our own.

Corbin itched to get in on the action, to begin the investigation with a renewed vigor. Yet she was stuck in the room, being picked clean for residual particles. Logically, a part of her knew the importance of every detail in this crime. The desire for revenge burned through her veins. She spared a glance at her partner, Brendan Rose, hadn’t fared much better.

His anger was barely concealed, just like hers. Their eyes met. A silent vow to hunt down Jaynes and Terrah went unspoken, but their resolve wouldn’t waiver.

For ten years, they had led the investigation into Jaynes McConnell. He had grown up under their radar and would never stay on it long enough for him to get caught. New charges popped up every month. The only oddity in the familiar pattern came around the time the infamous couple got married. Terrah Johnson had only popped up on their radar a couple of weeks ago almost a year after their “wedding.”

Corbin didn’t know why, nor did she particularly care. All she knew was that this attack was orchestrated by McConnell. He had broached their grounds, solidifying their conviction that he needed to be brought in. An investigator walked up to her after taking Rose’s statement.

“What do you think, Marie?” he asked.

She had two options: lie about who she suspected or tell the truth. One would take her and Rose off the investigation. The other would steer them in a different direction. At least long enough to buy her time to track down McConnell’s latest plan.

“Revenge,” she answered. “Terrah Johnson had many enemies. She probably made friends with the wrong one.”

“I thought she was mostly harmless.”

Corbin took in a deep breath. “Normally, but she’s a drug dealer. God knows how many innocent lives she’s taken indirectly. Or who she got her products from.”

The other agent looked less than pleased with her answer. She wasn’t going to hand over her investigation on a silver platter.

“That all you got?”

She shrugged. “I’d look into undercover operations. We’ve planted many agents in local gangs to try and track her operations. I’m sure you’ll find an answer there.”

The investigator left her alone. After all the particles were recovered from her hair and skin, she was given a set of clothes to change into. Corbin handed over her singed outfit for further examination without question. After that, she was free to go.

Rose caught up to her not too long afterward. He was also dressed in borrowed clothing. They didn’t say anything about their next move until they got into a car. He had driven her since they lived near one another.

“So,” he began. “He’s made it personal.”

She hummed. “Not the first time.”

“I doubt it will be the last either.” Rose prepared a cigarette, offering her one. She refused as always.

Corbin ran through the events from earlier. “No. This was a different level of destruction though.”

Rose exhaled. “Trying too hard or panicked?”

It was hard to tell without seeing the photos and evidence collected. McConnell very rarely acted on such a large scale for no reason. Panicked would be her initial reaction but something felt different about the scenario compared to run-ins in the past.

“I need the file.”

Rose shook his head, “They won’t let us near it.”

“I know!” She didn’t need him to tell her the obvious. They wouldn’t solve anything today. Corbin hated feeling helpless, hated this wasn’t her investigation. Most of all—she loathed that they weren’t any closer to McConnell. They needed him.

The drive to her house was silent. Her brain looped the moments before and during the interrogation. No one appeared out of the ordinary. They were all familiar faces, people she had trusted.

How long has McConnell had a spy in our ranks?

It was the only explanation that made sense. She thought of the newest faces amongst their ranks, only going back to a year. There were a handful of them present. Corbin’s thoughts broke when the car jerked to a stop. Her neighborhood slowly came into focus.

“See you tomorrow.”

Rose waited until she got inside her home before he drove away. She should have told him of her suspicions, but it could wait until tomorrow. He needed the evening to rest. Corbin had no intention of doing so. Not when came to McConnell and Johnson.