(Above & Beyond Series * Book III)
© 2015 Jody Klaire
Sight is a funny thing. It throws up all kinds of meanings. Looking at something and really seeing it ain’t the same thing. There’re different perspectives, I guess.
Some folks have a vision of success or what love is. They have a way of focusing on how to achieve their goal. They pursue it without resting. It can see them become great or it can drive them to madness. It’s a risk they seem to accept and they go all out for it.
I guess you could say that I had a unique way of seeing things. I mean, I was pretty different and my ability to see the past and present, feelings and hidden secrets of folks around me meant that I had a lot of responsibility on my Samson-like shoulders. That was okay. I was learning to live with it.
Thing was, I found it hard when people didn’t see that I wasn’t a machine that spat out answers. The Criminal Investigations Group, or CIG, employed me to be just that. I was there to save them time, or at least that’s how it felt. Even Renee started to act the same way. She didn’t seem to get me at all. Something pretty nasty happened to her which had changed her view on things. Seeing stuff through scarred eyes had narrowed her point of view.
Renee always had a tendency to be a bit tunnel-visioned. Being a protection officer could do that to a person. Her educated, highly-trained eyes seemed to miss that her attitude kinda hurt sometimes.
I didn’t get how she let me in so close and then pushed me away. Her secrets nearly cost a lot of folks their lives in St. Jude’s. The more I thought about it, the more it got to me. I’d trusted her but she hadn’t really ever returned it. I’d thought all that happened in St. Jude’s had shown her that I was trustworthy, that I was capable of helping.
Turned out, sometimes I could be as blind as the next person.
She didn’t know that when I’d healed her, I’d seen it all. I’d seen everything she went through and took on board the pain. I’d been trying to shake it off but it wouldn’t shift no matter how hard I tried.
Then, there was my mother, Lilia. She was the head of the CIG and a “seer.” I thought she was meddling more than helping. The whole basis of CIG was that we ran around trying to help people fix stuff that hadn’t even happened. I wasn’t fond of her, not after she left me when I was a kid. I had more issues with her than I could cope with so I just came to the point where I thought it best not to think too deeply about it.
Finally, there was the hawk-like gaze of the CIG’s boss. Ursula Frei was the operational leader. She had eyes as sharp as her tongue and her views on what was acceptable didn’t always match mine. I didn’t know if she liked me all that much but she scared me more than I liked to let on.
Women, in my humble opinion, were a pain in the butt. I’d been locked up with a bunch of them in a mental institution for eleven years but nothing had equipped me to cope with Renee’s odd mood swings, my mother’s guilt trips, or Frei’s icy glare. Not that I wanted to go back to Serenity Hills but I didn’t get why everyone was being so complicated.
It seemed like beyond my burdens, beyond my six-foot-five frame, they’d all forgotten I was pretty inexperienced. The more they were shoving me into stuff, the more I didn’t know how to cope with it.
Aeron Lorelei, the empath, the one who did as told and didn’t make too much fuss about it. I guessed they’d forgotten where that kind of attitude normally got people. I’d spent over a decade inside. There was a burning sense of injustice in my heart from it.
Maybe one day, I’d unravel the cobwebs sticking all around me and find a way to let it all go. Maybe I’d find my own goal to set my sights on. Seeing was believing, right?
Sometimes I’d dream I lost all my burdens. I was free to do whatever I wanted to. I wondered what would happen if I woke up and that were true. What would the folks around me act like if I’d lost the skills that made me useful? Would these women, women I’d stuck by, do the same if I got a pass to freedom?
Would they support me and celebrate it? Would they cheer and give me guidance on how I could achieve my dreams?
Or . . .
Was I only good for one thing? Would they be irritated that I couldn’t make life more convenient for them? Would they support me then or would they walk away?
The stale smell of coffee mixed with moldy sandwiches made my stomach grumble as I sat in the hot sticky confines of a Nevada police station.
All the blinds were drawn to block out the heat, air-conditioning groaned, every door was open but it still felt like I was being baked in one of Nan’s pies.
I hated police stations. I mean, really hated them.
Although nobody really took much notice of me, I still eyed the nearest door, ready to make a break for it. The two detectives in conversation with Renee didn’t know me but I was certain that they’d arrest me and haul my butt back to Serenity Hills.
I guessed I would always feel that way.
Dumb, that it had been a year since I’d been released. Even without being cleared, I would have served out my sentence and then some. It didn’t matter, I was still an ex-con. If they knew who I was, what I was, then I doubted they’d be interested in my opinion. In fact, they’d have stuck me on their huge suspects list.
“Aeron, you want to come over here?” Renee beckoned to me across the cramped office space and I sighed.
What could I say? No, not really. No, I didn’t want to touch pieces of jewelry that victims had left behind. I didn’t want visions of what they’d been through. I didn’t want to go through all that pain.
What I wanted didn’t seem to matter no more and I couldn’t just stand there gawping up at the notice board.
Trying to navigate the tiny space in the heat made me feel crankier than usual. I couldn’t quite fit in between the desks so I had to do a kind of sideways shuffle. Not really the coolest impression to make on two pretty harassed-looking officers.
They welcomed me with tired smiles. I felt for them. They wore that same exhausted, beaten expression my father once had. He was the police chief back in Oppidum, my home town, and he’d had to investigate the killings that everybody thought was me. These guys looked much the same, like they’d aged years in the months they’d been on the case.
“They found this one last.” Renee held up an evidence bag with a wedding ring in it. Back in Oppidum, she’d have looked concerned. She would have been thinking that some poor lady had once worn it. Now, she just acted like it was another number, another case.
I swallowed the bile gurgling up from below. I didn’t need to touch it. “Blonde hair, black roots, Caucasian. Mid-twenties. Her name was Lou-Ann.” I fought back the tingling sensation in my hands. “Strangled. The guy had a scar on his right wrist. Some kind of mark from getting burned.”
The detectives exchanged a glance.
“Yeah, him. Take a look under his garage.” I turned away, my hands starting to sting. It had only been a month or so since we’d left St. Jude’s but Renee was working me at every opportunity.
I understood that she needed to block out all that had happened to her there and before it. Only, if she didn’t let up, I was pretty sure I might buckle. I’d had a headache for days. In fact, that morning I’d passed out in the shower and nearly removed my brain cells on the taps.
My heart pounded, my hands poured with sweat and I knew I needed to get out. I needed to be anywhere but in a police station living some poor woman’s pain.
The detectives were mumbling questions my way but I didn’t hear them. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was drowning. I clattered my way outside to the waiting CIG vehicle. Frei was in the driver’s seat, as always, looking happy as a bear woken from a good sleep.
“You’re getting faster.”
“Need a cold drink,” I mumbled, clambering into the back and slumping down into the seat.
Frei handed me a can of ice cold pop. We’d figured I needed sugar after seeing stuff. “You look like crap.”
“I feel it.”
Her eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. “Then we’re done with this.”
Not sure I’d heard her right, I cocked my head.
“You’ll be no good when you really do have a job if you keep going like this.” Her icy blue eyes met mine before she slid on her aviators.
“She won’t like it,” I managed between shuddering breaths. My heart was doing weird fluttering things.
Renee stepped out of the station on cue and Frei shrugged. “She’s not in charge.”
No, she wasn’t but Renee was still in charge of me. She was a proper agent while I was just a nobody who bundled around reading people.
It felt like she was mad at me for it too.
“They’re bringing him in. They’re going to see if they can get a warrant for the guy’s arrest.” Renee climbed into the front with Frei without so much as a glance at me.
I’d noticed she’d begun to separate me from every part of her day and it hurt. Maybe in logic, she was trying to find a way to do her job. I closed the door to the back, telling myself that again and hoping it would help.
Frei pulled us out onto the dusty highway. I could feel her watching me behind her lenses somehow. She saw more than any of us did. She saw an overarching picture that none of us had a clue about. I couldn’t explain why I felt that way but I was glad she had that burden, not me.
“Hopefully, they can stop him now,” Renee said, slipping on her own sunglasses.
“They will if they listen to Lorelei. It’s up to them now.” Frei glanced to the left before switching lanes.
I sipped my can, trying to hide my surprise at her praise.
“What do you mean?” Renee frowned. I felt her anger rumble off her.
Here we go.
“Lilia wants us back at the base. Lorelei needs to rest.” If Frei had noticed the frown dipping below the line of Renee’s glasses, she wasn’t showing it.
I was glad somebody was taking notice though ’cause I was ready to curl up and sleep where I was.
“We’re heading back. Deal with it.” Frei’s tone was cutting and Renee flinched.
“Lilia have a vision?” Renee asked, her shoulders sagging.
Nice to know that she cared for my welfare.
“No.” Frei sped up as we hit the open road. My stomach rolled with it. “She doesn’t want Lorelei run into the ground.”
“She’s fine,” Renee muttered without so much as a glance at me.
“You guys realize I’m back here, right?” Great way to make me feel inconsequential.
Renee stared out at the scenery as if I hadn’t even spoken.
“Good to feel part of the team,” I snapped. My hands pulsed as I did so. A wave of pain ripped up and down my arms. I gripped my chest. Tears filled my eyes with the agony.
“What is it?” Frei asked. “You seeing something?”
“No,” I wheezed. I didn’t know what it was but it weren’t nothing I’d experienced before. “In pain. Fine.”
“You don’t look fine.” Frei pulled the van over to the side of the road. I dropped the can on the floor.
“Aeron, what’s wrong?” Renee turned to look at me.
The van spun before my eyes. I clung onto my head. I clattered to the floor, thinking I was in trouble.
Untrained Eye (Above & Beyond Book III)
© 2015 Jody Klaire
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