Here is a chapter from my current WIP (Work in Progress)
Protagonist Autumn Syptembor has just visited a hospitalized friend with another friend and confidant Stacy Walden.
By Billie A Williams ©2013
“She looks positively horrid, emaciated and broken.”
Autumn glanced over at Stacy and shook her head. “Do you think Bobby did this?”
“He’s knocked her around before, but never like this.” Stacy put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking spot. With an automatic, it was like Stacy never had a cast on her leg at all. Autumn marveled at how quickly Stacy had returned to her go-get-’em self. Even with the thought of facing chemo and bone marrow transplants, she never missed a beat. The upcoming surgery might stop her, but she wouldn’t quit until it did. “What do you think he’d do if we went to see him?”
That thought ran ice through Autumn’s veins. Bobby with his ‘pets’ was a place she never wanted to visit when Felicia was living and not beaten to within an inch of her life. Why would she go there now? “I don’t know that I want an answer to that question.”
“You’re afraid of him, right?
“And you aren’t?
“Personally, I think he’s all blow and no show. Oh sure, he shoved her around, but if its escalated to this, she needs to get out, now.”
Autumn listened with mixed emotions. It’s easy enough for Ms.-Master-of-Her Own- Destiny, who’s never been in a domestic violence situation. “You just walk away, right?” Wrong, Autumn knew it sounded easy, it never was. How many restraining orders prevented anything, let alone solved the escalating dangers faced by the abused?
“I know, theoretically, that’s the answer. I do know it isn’t always quite that easy, but staying is suicide, eventually.” Stacy maneuvered around two drivers engaged in a conversation in the middle of the road. She waved her hands in an exasperated gesture indicating they move to the side of the road. One returned a not so nice gesture as if he owned the right to imped traffic or anything else he chose to do. Obviously, unmindful, or didn’t care, that her car sported the WLUK media logo on its side and her press badge hung from the rear view mirror. Unruffled, Stacy continued. “Don’t you think?”
“Sometimes the unknown is scarier than the known.” Autumn spoke from experience. An experience she was reasonably sure Stacy had never had.
Stacy pulled into Autumn’s driveway. “So, you’re saying we should do nothing?
Why was she asking her? Autumn squirmed in her seat and unhooked her seat belt. She paused before opening the car door, and glared at Stacy. “You have all the answers it seems, I’m not so sure it shouldn’t just be left to the police to figure out.”
So much had happened in the last twenty four hours Autumn didn’t know who to trust or even what to think. Her insides were knotted tighter than a helium balloon it seemed to cut off oxygen to her brain. She couldn’t think, or, she didn’t want to, which was worse? She hoped Maggie would be back from filling out paper work at the PD. She at least provided a measure of comfort to Autumn’s angst.
Stacy’s jaw dropped open. She stared at Autumn without saying anything. For a change the mighty Stacy, Anchor person, investigative reporter was speechless, or was she feigning shock to throw Autumn off track. Who knew? She let herself out of the car and slammed the door shut.
Stacy flinched when the door shut, but didn’t move to leave.
Guilt started to swell inside Autumn. She had no reason to be angry with Stacy.
Stacy recouped quickly, rolled down the passenger side window and motioned Autumn to come back to the car.
“I’ll talk to my uncle. I’ll let him know we’re concerned for Felicia. Maybe he can pull strings to keep her there a while and get the Humane Society to launch a campaign to remove Bobby’s exotic pets. Maybe he can think of something else we can do to protect Felicia.” A gentle smile crept across her face. “Okay?”
Autumn patted the window opening of the door. “Thanks.” She swallowed back the tears that squeezed her throat and pushed herself away from the car door as she backed onto the lawn. She waved as Stacy coasted out of the driveway.
Autumn drifted toward the house deep in thought. If it wasn’t Felicia out to get her, who was it? Or was Felicia’s being beat up a different matter than what was going on. Autumn had been so sure Felicia was behind the burning of the quilt shop and Stacy’s seemingly unrelated snake package and collapse, how, why did she wind up so severely beaten? Autumn dialed the cell phone. Stacy picked up. “What if Felicia was beat up as a warning to Bobby?”
“Oh, my god! I never thought—yes, Bobby is into some pretty heavy shit. Whoa! That would put a whole new spin on things.”
“It certainly would. So, she could still be in danger.” Autumn let herself into her house as she talked. Something wasn’t right. Patches hadn’t been waiting in the window. Maybe she didn’t hear Stacy’s car outside. A shadow slid behind the door frame between the kitchen and living room. Autumn backed up reaching for the storm screen door handle behind her. Her breath squeezed into her lungs refusing to give oxygen to her flight or fight mechanism. The small two legged table against the kitchen wall, spilled over with a resounding crash. Whoever it was tripped over the table. The sudden noise released the deadly grip on her lungs. She spun around and bolted out the door, dropping her cell phone as she did.
Her only thought was escape. Where—who would take her in? This time of day who, of her neighbors would be home. Without looking back she sped across the street and down beside her neighbor’s house. She craned her head trying to hear if anyone was following her. She dashed into the Carpenter’s back yard and slid into their lawn shed. She knew they wouldn’t be home. They had gone away for the weekend and asked her to keep an eye on the place. The lawn shed smelled of gas and oil, fertilizer and lime. It was dark and dank. She could hardly breathe as she slid the door closed. Her eyes adjusted to the dim interior she edged her way between the riding lawn mower and the wheel barrow using the feel of the cold metal to guide her. She crouched down behind the bagger that was still attached to the lawn mower and listened trying to hush her labored breathing and pounding heart….