Welcome to the first installment of Fiction Fridays! On Fridays, I’ll be sharing an excerpt from a fiction project on which I am currently working. The following excerpt is copyright protected as is all content on my blog. Feel free to share but ONLY with proper credit to your source – me.
The thunderous banging on her door jolted her awake from a dead sleep. Muttering a variety of expletives under her breath, she pulled on her robe and hushed the now barking dog, shutting him in her bedroom. Stumbling down the hallway led only by the blue glow from the cable box, she noticed the clock read 3:42 am then squinted at the flood of light as she flipped the switch. This wasn’t the first time she’d been awakened at some ungodly hour, but usually, Social Services was kind enough to call before dropping some poor traumatized child on her in the middle of the night. She peered out through the curtain and was surprised to see her brother, Aidan, looking disheveled and exhausted. He looked up and grinned, a sure sign that he was up to something, but she opened the door anyway.
“Aidan, what the hell ….”
“Kitty,” he smiled sweetly, opening the screen door and grabbing her in a bear hug while planting a big sloppy kiss on her cheek. She smiled and rolled her eyes. The childhood nickname had become an endearment, though that was far from how it started. Teenaged Kate had decided that she should be called “Kat” because it sounded “so much cooler.” Naturally, her three older brothers couldn’t have that, so they took to calling her “Kitty” instead, just to annoy her. It stuck, and while it had initially achieved its objective, now it elicited an amused grin.
He clearly wanted something … something big. Still, she hadn’t seen him in weeks and was a sucker for her big brother. She didn’t fight the smile that bloomed as she wrapped her arms around him, then saw, over his shoulder, that he was not alone.
“Come on in,” he motioned to his friend who was lurking back in the shadow of the porch post. “I told you she’d be happy to see us.”
“Well, gee, Aid, I’m always happy to see you. But if I’d known I’d be entertaining tonight, I’d at least have gotten dressed.” She shoved at his arm, pulled her robe closed, and ran a hand through her hair as his friend stepped forward.
The light hit his face and the breath caught in her throat. Surely not …
“Jason Sharp, may I present my sister, Kathleen Ryan.” He bowed, as though introducing the queen. “Kate, this is Jason Sharp.”
Jason inclined his head and smiled shyly, then extended his hand. She took it and smiled in return. Jason Sharp. In her house. At 3 o’clock in the morning. “It’s nice to meet you, Jason. Please, make yourself at home,” she gestured to the living room, “while Aidan fills me in on how in the hell he came to bring a Grammy winner to my house in the middle of the night.”
Jason smiled as Aidan led them to the living room and then turned to the kitchen. “It’s kind of a long story, so I’ll make us all some coffee, shall I?”
Jason felt sick. He’d never seen anyone die before and he certainly had never seen anyone brutally murdered. All that blood. There was never that much blood in the movies. It just sprayed everywhere – covering every surface. And it had a smell … a sort of metallic -sort of not -smell that you just didn’t get from the movies. Ugh. He was a grown man, but he still might puke. If it hadn’t been for Aidan, he would have already. It was good that Max, his regular security guy, had been off tonight and called in his old buddy to cover for him – better still that his buddy was an off-duty police detective. Aidan rushed him away before he’d even had a chance to fully register what he’d seen. He took him straight to the car and then to the local precinct where he had to give his statement to another cop.
They cleaned and bandaged his shoulder there and then Aidan gave him a spare change of clothes that he kept in his locker. Getting out of his bloody clothes had helped steady his stomach some. The wound on his shoulder could probably have taken a few stitches but the cops didn’t want to risk taking him to the hospital where he was sure to be recognized.
The minutes crawled by as he sat in the hard chair in the break room at the station. Disturbing images flashed through his mind at random. He wanted to cry, to scream, to vomit. He wanted to chase down the sick bastard that had done this to Lance. Lance was his stylist but more importantly, his best friend since third grade. Who would want to do this to him? How could this have happened?
He vacillated between grief and disbelief, pain and overwhelming numbness, which he recognized as shock. He took the opportunity to call his mom. She would hear about the murder on the news and worry until she heard from him.
“Oh thank God! Honey, are you ok?”
“I’m ok,” there was no point in telling her about his shoulder, it would only make her worry more. “It’s already made the news?”
“I was just watching it. Who was killed?”
“It was Lance, Mom.”
“Oh. Oh no.” her voice broke. His mother loved Lance. She was the first person he’d come out to, not that any of them had been surprised. The boys had grown up at each other’s houses. She knew him as well as she knew her own children. Jason comforted her as best he could through the haze of his own shock and was strangely relieved when Aidan had returned and needed him off the phone.
Aidan and his friends had had a heated discussion about who had been the real target of the attack. The raised voices had been hard to ignore. Was it a hate crime against Lance or an attempt to live in infamy as the murderer of Jason Sharp? Aidan believed the latter and insisted that Jason should be taken into protective custody in a safe house until the killer’s motive was determined. His gut told him that Aidan was the one to trust on the subject, but he argued against it anyway. He only had a few dates left on this leg of the tour and wanted to finish it out. Canceling dates was a logistical and financial nightmare. Still, logic won out and he finally had to agree that perhaps appearing exactly where and when he was scheduled to would not be the best way to hide from someone who might want to kill him.
So now he found himself standing on the front porch of a woman he had never met, who would – according to Aidan O’Malley – be happy to hide him indefinitely. Aidan turned to grin at him. “Don’t worry. My sister is always taking in strays – cats, dogs, kids. She’ll love you.”
He saw a face peek through the curtain and the door opened. The light from the foyer shone through her hair – setting it afire in a blaze of riotous red curls all around her face. Her eyes blazed green – and though annoyed – they lit up with a grin as Aidan grabbed her around the waist. He could tell she’d been sound asleep – she had little lines from her pillowcase on her cheek. Her green bathrobe had seen better days – but even half asleep she seemed to light up the room. When they were introduced her hand was soft and warm and he only reluctantly let it slide from his grasp. It seemed like the first touch of reality after everything that had happened and he’d had to fight the urge to hang on with everything he had. She knew who he was, but seemed to take it in stride. It was a relief to feel instantly comfortable with her, to not have to be “Jason Sharp, Superstar” like he did with most new people.
Her living room was full of art. Bright bold colors adorned the walls – in paintings, weavings, mosaics. The room seemed to pulse with life – much like she did. Aidan went to make coffee – making himself at home in her kitchen while Kate curled one leg up under her and sat on the sofa – motioning to Jason to sit as well. He crossed to an oversized chair and sat. She smiled at him and looked into his eyes for a moment. He felt as though she could almost see what he’d been through tonight. He thought he saw the tiniest shudder pass through her and she smiled again, reassuringly, then gave her attention to Aidan as he began to explain the events of the evening. Jason concentrated on studying the carpet and drinking his coffee while Aidan talked. He felt her glance at him more than once during the more horrific points.
Aidan noticed the glance too and gave her an almost imperceptible shake of the head. He knew the kid was having a hard time with it and knew he needed to keep it together a while longer. She would have to restrain herself from comforting him just yet. She nodded, part of the silent language of siblings who understand one another. Aidan explained his plan to have Jason stay with her – indefinitely.
At this, Jason looked up to try to gauge her reaction to the idea. It didn’t seem to faze her a bit.
“Of course, you are more than welcome, Jason.” She sensed his hesitation, knew he was still in shock too. “As long as you don’t mind slumming it a little…. I know it’s not the five-star accommodations that you’re used to.” She grinned at him and he saw the family resemblance between the two in the mischievous edge to the grin.
“You must be exhausted. Why don’t I show you where your room is and get you settled in? Aidan can keep himself busy for a few minutes.” She smiled and held out her hand to him. The simplest, smallest gesture … but to him, it felt like a lifeline. He smiled shyly again and took her hand, allowing her to lead him down the hall.
So that’s it for today! Comments are appreciated – just remember, writers are sensitive creatures, so please don’t be too mean.