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Aug 31 09 9:54 PM

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DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 1)




ONE WEEK AFTER LAST STORY.....



“Slow down!” Cassandra Warren shouted, clutching her purse tightly.

“Can’t be late,” responded her best friend, Valerie Chang, speeding in and out of traffic on the coastal highway.

“We’re going to be very late if you get us killed! OMG VAL! You’re doing over eighty-five!” Cassie shrieked, wishing she hadn’t leaned over and glanced at the speedometer.

Her friend responded by pushing her sandaled foot down on the accelerator, pushing the car past ninety.

“This highways crawling with cops!” Cass pleaded, since the self-preservation angle didn’t seen to be working.

“Well, if we get pulled over, just show the cop some leg.” Val winked at her friend in her sky blue sundress. Val herself was wearing a yellow top and a pair of tight white jeans.

“Hey, keep your eyes on the road! OMG! We are so gonna die!”

“So, let’s talk about this Erik,” Val suggested.

“Oh no, here you go again!” Cass wailed, instantly forgetting her friend’s Indy-style driving. “Can’t you see I like Erik?”

“But you just met this guy Cass” Val shot back, zipping between lanes and darting in front of a slow moving SUV. “You said he was sort of starving for cash…so why is he driving a Mercedes?”

“Oh Val” the brown haired Cassie replied. “The journalist in you is showing again…can’t I be happy?”

“Yes, of course, but I mean, have you asked him?”

“He…doesn’t like it when I ask questions,” Cass answered quietly.

“And you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that? Listen, I just don’t want you to get hurt, that’s all.”

“I’m a big girl Val.”

The uncomfortable silence that followed was soon drowned out by the drone of landing aircraft.

“So, what’s the deal again?” Cassie asked, prompted by their arrival (ALIVE, THANK GOD!) at the airport.

“We host this high school senior for a week, you know, show her around campus and stuff and the university pays half our tuition this semester.”

“Sweet,” Cass replied, totally relaxed now that the car had come to a complete stop, Val having found a spot in visitor parking. “So, what’s her name again?”

Val told her.

“That’s funny.”

“What is?” Val replied curiously.

“I mean, remember your ordeal with Professor Gerald?”

“How could I forget that?”

“Remember what you said after you kicked that scumbag Jack where the sun don't shine?”

Valerie then started to grin.

“Yeah, that’s right!”

“Weird coincidence roomie.”

“I just hope this week goes fast…I mean my work at the Journal…”

“At least you’re getting your credits properly now Val, especially after that Sleazy Madam incident.”

Valerie looked at her roommate and smiled. They were lucky to be alive after that ordeal with the white slavers.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The girls trotted down the main terminal, making a turn onto the concourse, taking them to the hub of the particular carrier that their host-ee was arriving on.

“From Cincinnati, on time” Cass crowed as they checked the arrival/departures board. “And with twenty minutes to spare.”

“Oh, now you’re glad! What happened to ‘Val, we’re so gonna die?’”

“Ha, ha,” Cass uttered sarcastically. The pair were now in a long line waiting to pass security.

"So," Val piped up. "Where are you and Erik going tonight if I may ask?"

"A party on campus" Cassie responded, getting a feeling that Val was butting in again.

"Maybe I'll take our little high schooler there, that way we can show her around the fun things on campus."

"You can bring Ron as well Val," Cassie added in reference to Valerie's mentor, Ronald Henry "More the merrier."

Cassie and Valerie just waited in line and hardly spoke. Obviously, the duo was uncomfortable with the subject. By the time they got through security, their twenty minute lead had expired. Sprinting to the gate, they arrived just as the last passengers were disembarking.

"Shoot!” Val jabbed her hand in the air.

“Maybe she hasn’t gotten off yet,” Cass said hopefully.

They scanned the passengers based on the description that Val had gotten of the girl’s appearance. Finally, their gaze was returned.

“Are you sure they said “high school” senior?” Cass asked dubiously.

Val and Cass were frozen in disbelief as their gaze was met by a rail-thin, tottering, eighty-five year old. He had hair were he wasn’t supposed to and no hair where he should. But that wasn’t what had the girls bugging their eyes out. It was the Sailor Moon T-shirt he was wearing, along with a pair of short shorts.

Then, he looked straight at them…and gave them a big, toothless leer!

“OMG! Val, I’m afraid, very afraid,” Cass stammered.

The geriatric fanboy now began to totter their way! All Val and Cass could do was clutch one another, trembling.

Then, at the last minute, a middle aged couple and their kids intercepted the geezer menace and the group headed off in another direction.

Val and Cass sighed in relief…

…when Val felt a tap on her shoulder.

The college coed spun around.

“Are you Valerie?”

The voice belonged to a young, short-haired brunette, wearing a white top and black jeans and carrying a black leather backpack. Val could have sworn there was the briefest hint of mischief in her hazel eyes although the smile was warm and friendly.

“Are you Laura?”

“I’d have to think on it,” said Laura Silverman.

“Huh?” said Val.

“Just kidding, sorry,” the girl laughed. “My mouth has a mind all its own. Yes, I’m Laura,” she clarified, extending her hand and smiling even more.

“Hi!” Val responded, shaking the offered hand enthusiastically. “And don’t worry about the kidding. I’m used to it!” Val jabbed a thumb at Cassie.

“Hey, don’t listen to her. She’s just some crazy Asian chick!” Cass took a playful swat at Val before shaking Laura’s hand.

"Wow, I like you guys already!" Laura said "So do all the guys look like this around here...?" she added as she spotted some nice looking men walking by. Laura had a boyfriend, Dean, back in River Hills. “No harm in taking in the sights, though,” Laura thought as she eyed one cute guy’s even cuter butt.

"Hey, Cass, she’s just as man crazy as you, Valerie said. “I think you two are going to get along great!”

"Why couldn't I get one of those guys to sit next to me on the flight?" Laura added, "I mean I get some old perv trying to hit on me instead." Laura made a waving motion with her hand.

“Was he wearing a Sailor Moon T-shirt?” Val and Cass asked in unison.

“Yeah! Told me I looked like Sailor Mercury. How did you…”but was cut off by their laughter. The college coeds let her in on the joke and soon the high school senior was laughing too.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"So you guys got boyfriends?" Laura asked as she sat in the front seat of the car while Cassie rode in the back.

"I do!" Cassie yelled as she stuck her head over the front seat "But Val doesn't like him."

"Cassie come on," Valerie responded "Not in front of our guest"

"Ooooh Boyfriend drama!" Laura perked "I wanna hear this!"

"Valerie doesn't like Erik, Laura…she says there’s something about him, doesn’t trust him."

“Is he hot?” Laura asked almost giggling.

“Extremely!” Cassie shot back, beaming “We’re meeting up tonight at a party.”

“A party huh?” Laura added, “I’ve been to a few of these college parties.”

“Well, Erik knows these people that throw these parties…it gets pretty wild.”

“Sounds like fun” Laura responded as she looked at Valerie driving, hardly saying a word “So Val, any boyfriend?”

“No, too busy for that right now.”

“I heard you’re a reporter with the school paper?”

“Yes. The Target. You’ll have to meet Ron, my editor.”

“Ron huh? If you’re trying to set me up, remember, I got a boyfriend back home.”

Cassie then started laughing at her statement.

“What’s so funny?” Laura asked “Did I say something wrong?”

“No” Cassie responded, whispering in Laura’s ear.

“Oh really?” Laura said.

“Okay you two” Val interceded. “I know you’re trying to hook me and Ron up. I told you Cassandra that we’re just friends, nothing more.”

Cassie then giggled as Laura took out a picture from her wallet.

“This is Dean, my boyfriend back home.”

“Nice, Silverman!” Cassie crowed, looking at the athletic boy “Usually I would be fighting you over him, but since Erik’s come into my life…”

Cassie then sat back and sighed. Val just shook her head. Laura started to notice the tension between the two friends as they made the short trip back to Wellsville and the campus…

TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

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Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#1 [url]

Sep 5 09 9:36 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 2)




By the time they arrived back at their apartment, evening had descended, marked by a golden California sunset. Val and Cassie helped their guest trudge her suitcase up the steps leading to the front door.

“I hope you’re not too jet lagged,” Cass remarked as she fumbled for the key and unlocked the door.

“Not at all,” Laura assured her. “You mentioned something about a party?”

“Hold your horses, Ohio girl,” the brown haired coed kidded. “We got a whole evening planned out for you!”

“How about we get her settled first,” Val suggested.

“Party pooper.”

Val rolled her eyes dramatically causing Laura to crack up.

“Now, to figure out where you’re going to sleep,” Val pondered.

“I’d figured on the ol’ Guest on the Couch routine,” Laura told her, plopping her backpack on the faded sofa.

“No way!” Cass objected. “Val, that couch is so lumpy and beat up! We can’t let her sleep there!”

“You’re right. Laura’s taking one of the bedrooms while one of us is taking the couch.”

“I couldn’t let you do that, Val,” Laura began to argue.

“Don’t worry about it,” Cass assured her. “You don’t mind, do you Val?”

“Cassie’s right,” Val agreed. “I’m willing to make the sacrifice…

“You see,” Cass began

“…and give you Cassie’s room.”

“What!” Cass stammered.

“Come on,” Val directed, manhandling Laura’s pack onto her shoulder and guiding her down the hall. “Cassie has a back problem anyway. Sleeping on that hard couch is so much better for her than a soft bed. So, you see, you’re actually doing her a favor!”

“Well, if you put it that way,” Laura said uncertainly. “Thanks, Cass” she added, turning her head and offering a weak wave to her benefactor as she was dragged off by Val.

Val turned to look back as well. “Don’t just stand there, Cass,” she said, winking. “Get her suitcase.”

“Oh, I don’t know if I can,” Cass joked sourly. “You know, with my bad back and all.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“Ready to go?” Val asked, walking into Cass’s, now Laura’s room. She saw that the high school senior was sitting on the bed, talking on her cell phone.

“They’re really awesome… I know…yes…. I know…. I promise…. Yesssss…. I will…. Okay…. Love you…. Bye.”

The girl snapped her phone shut and turned toward Val.

“Parents?” the college coed asked with a smile.

“Yeah,” Laura answered sheepishly. “They worry.”

“No need to apologize,” Val said warmly.

“Hey, I need to make one more call and then I’ll be out.”

Val closed the door behind her and found Cass in the living room, sitting on the couch. “Just a couple minutes,” she informed her friend.

“That’s okay,” Cass responded, nervously kicking her heels. “Oh hey, I forgot to tell you…”

“I’m ready guys,” Laura interrupted, walking up to them. “I told Chloe all about you and she’s soooo jealous.”

“Who’s Chloe?” Cass asked.

“My best friend back in River Hills. Hey, can I ask you guys something?”

“Of course,” Val responded.

“Sounds juicy!” Cass added before receiving a whack on the shoulder from Val.

“There’s this girl I go to school with. She’s really not that nice. Correction. She’s like Paris Hilton crossed with Hitler. Well, I just learned something bad happened to her…and I can’t help but feel glad. And I feel so guilty.”

Val came over and gave her a hug. I’m a good judge of character. So, even though we’ve known each other for less than three hours, I already know you’re a good person. So don’t beat yourself up, Silverman. Right, Cass?

“Oooo, high school drama,” Cass replied. Val gave her another whack. “I mean, of course. Cass gave Laura her warmest smile. “We couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful girl to host.”

“Thanks, you guys,” Laura responded choking up a little.

Cass turned to Val. “Remember when we were that young?” she asked wistfully.

“Ding dong!”

“I wonder who that could be?” Val asked, walking to the door.

“Uh, remember that thing I wanted to tell you?” Cass started talking really fast but not fast enough to catch up with Val who had just opened the door to reveal…

“Erik,” Val announced coolly. “What are you doing here?”

“Hellooo, Val,” Erik smirked. “May I?” he gestured to Val who stood in his way. Val continued to bar the doorway for several moments.

“Val!” Cass shouted. She ran up to confront her friend. Just before things could get ugly, Val relented.

“Why, come in, Erik,” she sighed sarcastically. “It’s such a pleasure to see you again.” She stepped to the side and allowed him to stride in and hug Cass.

“Laura, I want you to meet Erik Peterson,” Cassie said proudly.

The high school senior saw a darkly handsome guy in his mid-twenties. He had a long, angular face with penetrating blue/green eyes, wavy blonde hair cascading down his neck. Laura noted, with a tinge of desire, that he had a chiseled, rock hard body.

“Well, what do we have here?” Erik asked smoothly, sizing up Laura. “Hellooo, beautiful.”

“Oh stop,” Cassie joked, giving Erik a playful punch. “She’s a high school senior we’re hosting for a week.

“Underage, huh? I’d better stop than before I get arrested.” He laughed lightly, approaching Laura. “Hey kid, nice to meet you.”

“Same here,” Laura returned, shaking his outstretched hand.

Valerie stood watching with a hard expression on her face. All of a sudden, she walked up and pried Cassie off her boyfriend.

“Excuse us. I need to have a word with Cassie in private,” she told Erik. Not waiting for a response, she shoved her best friend into her bedroom and closed the door.

“What the f...!” Cass demanded.

“What the hell is he doing here?!” Val shot back.

“I invited him. You got a problem with that?”

“Yeah, I do. I wanted it to be just Laura and us. Girls only.”

“No,” Cass countered, jabbing her finger in Val’s chest. “The problem is you can’t stand it that I have a boyfriend and you don’t!”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

In the living room, Erik sidled up to Laura.

“Sounds like they’re really going at it,” he joked.

“Yeah,” Laura said uneasily.

“You know something. You got a really nice bone structure.” He raised his hand to Laura’s cheek.

“Thanks,” Laura said, shying her head away.

“Hey, relax, kiddo. I’m an artist.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


“You’re crazy!” Val declared. “And you’d better get that finger out of my face!”

“Am I?” Cass wondered. “I don’t think so. Just because you’re too much of a wuss or should I say, wussette to ask Ron out doesn’t mean I have to be miserable too!”

“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Val said, stunned.

“Do you think its noble…. pining away for Ron. Ohhh, unrequited love!”

“Stop it,” Val pleaded.

“Or maybe you want the pity. Oh look! It’s Valerie Chang! Poor little Chinese girl!”

The slap resounded in the small bedroom.

Val and Cass stood there, too shocked to move, and too shocked to speak.

Then, “Cass, I’m so sorry.”

“Save it, Val,” her best friend replied coolly, the red still bright on her cheek.

After another moment, “Let’s just go out and have dinner,” Cass decided, stepping around Val and walking out.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Erik opened his arms wide and Cass rushed to him, burying herself in his chest.

“We’ll meet you at the restaurant,” he told Laura evenly and left with Cassie.

Laura crept to Valerie’s bedroom. Although the door was wide open, Laura felt uncomfortable walking in unannounced. She rapped lightly on the door frame. “Valerie, you okay?” she called inside.

Laura stood at the door, afraid to cross the threshold. As she craned her neck to peer further into the room, Val suddenly appeared.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” the coed stated, putting on a brave smile. But as she walked past, Laura couldn’t help but notice that she brushed a tear from her eye.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The ride to the restaurant was bad. The meal itself was worse. Oh, there was nothing wrong with the food. Val had picked this delightful place she had been to once before. It was a fusion of Japanese and Tex-Mex. Right now, a Stetson-wearing sushi chef was performing his chop-chop magic at their table.

As he placed thin slices of grilled steak and raw fish onto Valerie’s plate, the Asian co-ed stared at her best friend seated across from her. She tried to strike a conciliatory look but Cassie just glared back.

“Fine,” Val thought. “That’s the way you want to play it.” Her placating look hardened and she glared back with the best of them.

Laura, seated beside Val, couldn’t help but notice the cold war going on next to her.

“Sooo, you’re an artist, huh?” she asked Erik, seated across from her.

“I’d like to think so,” he replied cockily.

“Ask him if he’s sold anything?” Val prompted Laura.

‘I’ve sold a piece or two.”

“He just hasn’t been discovered yet,” Cass interjected, rising to her boyfriend’s defense.

“Wow, that “piece or two” you sold must have bagged you a bundle if you can afford a Mercedes,” Val declared.

“Don’t answer that,” Cass told him. “You don’t need to explain anything.”

“That’s alright,” Erik assured her, placing his arm around her shoulder. “My aunt Margaret died recently…after a long fight with cancer.” He paused, visibly distraught.

“It’s okay,” Cass whispered, taking his hand in hers.

“Thanks, babe.” He looked at her gratefully. Then he turned back to Val. “She had a lot of money and I was her favorite cousin. You don’t like me, do you, Val?”

“I care about Cassie,” Val responded, a little defensive but still defiant.

“And you think I don’t?” he replied, offended. “Val, I swear to you, I’m not the bad guy.”

Val looked at how happy Cass was in Erik’s arms. Maybe her best friend was right after all. Maybe she was just being jealous. Maybe the problem was with her. Val’s tone softened.

“I still have my concerns,” she decided, “but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.”

“Thank you, thank you, Val,” Erik gushed. “Isn’t that great, babe?” he asked Cass. “Why don’t you two kiss and make up?”

Cassie eyed her best friend warily. “I’m still mad at you.”

“I’m still mad at you,” Val replied. “Since we have sooo much in common…”

In unison, the two girls broke out laughing, friends once more.

The meal finished, Val got out her wallet to pay but Erik waved her off.

“My treat,” he insisted, “after all the grief I caused you.”

“Maybe he’s not so bad after all,” Val thought when…he pulled out a wad of bills the size of his fist! He peeled off one (Val saw it was a hundred.) and let it fall to the table. Laura couldn’t help but look at Valerie, her face showing concern on what she just saw…


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

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Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#2 [url]

Sep 12 09 11:17 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 3)




When Val and Laura got back, they saw Cass and Erik just getting out of his Mercedes. As soon as Val parked, Cass was leaning through her open, driver’s side window.

“Are we going as a group?” she wanted to know.

“I have to check in with Ron first," Valerie replied. "He said he had a big assignment for me. Why don’t you take Laura with you and I’ll meet you all there?”

Laura tilted her head to look at Cass from her passenger side seat. “If it’s okay with everyone, I think I’ll tag along with Val.”

“That’s right,” Val remembered. “I’m supposed to take her to the Target anyway. You go ahead with Erik, we won’t be long.”

“Better not,” Cass threatened as Val got out of her Honda.

“Or what, Cassandra Warren?”

“Or…a bottle of bleach might accidentally tip over the next time you wash that red blouse you’re so attached to.”

“You wouldn’t dare.” Val stated.

“Oh, wouldn’t I?”

“Hey, seriously, I’m really sorry for you know...slapping you earlier.” Val hugged her best friend.

“And I’m really, really sorry for calling you a poor little Chinese girl.” Tears rolled down Cass’ eyes as she returned her best friend’s hug.

“Do it again and I’ll kick your a**,” Val joked, clutching Cass close, tears streaming down her eyes as well.

“You mean you’ll try. I’ve been learning some moves from you!”

They held each other for a little longer before finally parting, wiping the tears from their eyes.

“Hey, this is better than Gossip Girl!” they heard a smart alecky voice say behind them.

“Watch it, Silverman!” Val warned.

“Yeah,” Cass added. “Or its going to be “Let’s pound on the high-schooler week!”

They advanced on her menacingly.

“Okay, okay,” Laura wheedled, holding up her hands. “Soooorry!”

“Come on,” Val gestured to Laura once they all stopped laughing.

As Cass walked up to their apartment with Erik, Val led Laura across campus to the Target offices. The front windows were dark and the door was locked but Val had a key.

“Ron, you here?” Val shouted as they walked toward a dim light in the back.

“Yeah, back here, Val,” an assertive yet kind voice answered. “Yeah Val, I called about…hey, who’s your friend?” Ron asked when they got to his office.

Val made the introductions. “Laura Silverman. Meet Ronald Henry, editor of the Target.”

“It’s a pleasure, Mr Henry,” Laura gushed.

“Oh, that’s right,” he remembered, snapping his fingers. “You’re the high school senior Valerie’s hosting. I have an appointment with you tomorrow. And please, call me Ron.”

“Thank you, Mr, uh, Ron. Wow, Cassie was right!”

“How so?”

Before Laura could tell him what a hottie he was, Val interrupted.

“You said something about a big assignment?”

“Yes I did, but I’m waiting for a report from my…source on the police force. I was hoping to get it tonight but I won’t get my hands on it until tomorrow afternoon.”

“Can’t you tell me anything?” Val pressed like the good reporter she was.

“I want to wait for the report,” Ron resisted like the good editor he was. “Sorry to drag you down here for nothing.”

“That’s okay, I was…” Val began before Laura interrupted her.

“Val doesn’t mind,” the high school girl assured him. “She wanted to know whether you wanted to go to…mpphhff,” as Val clamped her hand over Laura’s mouth.

“Ignore her. Well, it’s late, we’d better…OWWW!” as Laura bit Val’s fingers.

“…to go to this party at the Omega Delta Phi fraternity house,” Laura blurted out before Val could hand gag her again.

“Let me think on it,” Ron answered, laughing.

Embarrassed, Val dragged Laura away, planning to give the high school senior a good chewing out. But then she thought “What am I worried about? He’ll never come. It’s ten o clock at night and he’s still wearing a jacket and tie.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“How could you ask Ron like that?” Val demanded.

“I was trying to give you a helpful push,” Laura offered.

The girls were walking up the path to the Omega Delta Phi frat house. The path was crowded with other party crazy students.

“I’m not looking for a relationship right now,” Val declared.

“If you say so,” Laura replied, wobbling for a sec.

“Not used to wearing heels, huh?”

“Nah, we’re the best of enemies,” Laura rebutted, righting herself.

“Hey, hold up,” Valerie started, growing serious.

“What’s up?”

“I’m sure you’ve got a million drinking stories to tell, but, as a favor to me, no alcohol tonight, please?”

“Come on, Val,” Laura protested. “That’s so unfair! Last time I checked, you were under 21 too!”

“Yes but you’re a minor,” Val insisted. “And I’m sorta responsible for you. If anything were to happen…”

“Like what?” Laura demanded. “I’m going to get keggered up and throw myself out a window!”

“It you did, I would have to mail your body back home and I don’t think I could afford the postage.”

“Is that your not too subtle hint that I need to lose some weight,” Laura smirked.

“No, you’re an anorexic skeleton, happy?” Val grinned. “Just promise me, okay?”

“Yes, mom,” Laura droned, raising her right hand, “I promise.”

“Now say it without your fingers crossed behind your back.”

“You don’t miss anything, do you, Valerie Chang?”

“Nope.”

“Okay,” Laura relented, showing both her hands. “I promise. Can we go now?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The Omega Delta Phi fraternity held the BEST drunken, orgasmic revels on campus, hands down, game over. They had the biggest crowds, the best music, and the most booze.

“Over here!” Cassie raised her hand as soon as she saw Val and Laura come in. The pair squeezed their way through the dancing throng until they pulled up to Cass and Erik.

“OMG, Val, you look…” Cass was struck speechless.

Val blushed.

“Yeah, you look good enough to eat,” Erik grinned, licking his tongue over his upper lip.

Cass elbowed him in the ribs.

“Hey babe. You know you’re the only one for me.” He bent down and gave Cass a peck on the lips.

Val waited until her friend came up for air. “You’re not looking too shabby either, remarking on Cass’ green silk slip.

“Let’s not leave out Ohio girl!” Cass shouted as the music got really loud. She made her hands into six shooters and gave a “pow-pow” to Laura’s shimmering blue mini dress.

“You’re from Ohio?” Erik smirked. “Must not have parties like this, huh?”

Laura leaned in close so she could be heard. “No, all we do is tip cows. You’d be right at home.”

Cass covered her mouth so Erik couldn’t see her chuckling.

Erik scowled at Laura, not liking being the butt of the joke one bit. Then, like a switch, he turned on the charm, smiling at Cass. “Hey, babe, I got some business I got to take care of. Why don’t you stay here and hang out with your girlfriends til I get back.”

“Come back soon.” Cass reached up and gave him a kiss.

“Sure, sure, babe.” Erik pulled himself loose and plunged into the crowd. Cass stared until he was lost from sight.

“What kind of business does he have to take care of here?” Val inquired suspiciously.

“Please, Val, let’s not get into it again,” Cass pleaded.

“Okay, I think I could use a beer.”

“Let’s get you a beer,” Cass brightened.

“I could use a beer too,” Laura piped up.

“Maybe Santa will get you one,” Val offered, “but, for now, you’re getting a Sprite.”

“Hardy har har on so many levels,” Laura jeered.

“You coming?” Cass beckoned.

“No, I think I’ll hang out here,” Laura replied.

“Okay, but…”

“No alcohol, yes mom, I know,” Laura waved Val off.

However, when the coeds got back, the high school girl was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’d she go?” Val searched the room frantically.

“She probably found a cute guy,” Cass laughed.

“This is not funny,” Val shot back. “She could have gotten kidnapped! Maybe Lady Madam Woo escaped and wants revenge!”

“Only you would think of that,” Cass drolled, rolling her eyes. “Look, there she is. I told you. Cute guy. Wait… NO… FRICKING… WAY!!!

“What? What?” Val panicked, trying to see around her friend.

“Uh, lets give her some space,” Cass suggested, continuing to obstruct Val’s view with an adroitness that would make a NBA blocker proud.

But Cass let down her guard for an instance and that’s all Val needed to sidestep her and get a clear view of…

…Laura pressed up against Ron’s body, whispering into his ear.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Val shoved her way through the crowded throng like a charging bull. Laying a hand on Laura “To think I actually liked that high school hussy!”she thought as she yanked the girl around.

“Hey, what the….? Oh, hey Val,” the startled girl responded.

“Don’t hey Val me! What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

“Nothing Val, I swear! I was just telling Ron something...”

“It’s true,” Ron interceded. “We were talking about…”

“No,” Laura jumped in, suddenly indignant, “You don’t have to explain anything, we didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Oh no,” Val mocked. “Everything’s perfectly innocent. That’s why little Miss Lolita was getting close to you and feeling you up!”

“It was loud,” Laura explained. “I had to talk in his ear. It was the only way Ron could hear me. You need to be less suspicious Valerie.”

“I’ll deal with you later,” Val declared, holding her hand in front of Laura’s face.

Incensed, Laura stormed off.

“So, what have you got to say for yourself?” Val asked Ron.

Ron stood speechless.

“WELL?” Val pressed.

“Val…you…you look beautiful.”

Now Val was speechless as Ron stared at her in her low cut, red dress.

“Don’t think you get off that easy, Ronald Henry,” Val said, blushing.

“How can I make it up to you?” he asked.

“You can ask me to dance.”

A wry smile appeared on Ron’s face. “Do you always get what you want, Valerie Chang?”

“Always,” she sighed, allowing Ron to wrap his arms around her and draw her in tight.

Val laid her head on his shoulder as the pair slow danced, oblivious to the drunken ravers around them.

“Laura was telling me how silly we were, how we’re too afraid to show our true feelings…”

“Shhhh,” Val sighed, placing her hand on Ron’s mouth. She tilted her head up and looked into his eyes.

Ron stared back, enchanted, and then he moved in.

“Yes, Yes, Yes!” Val thought as she tilted her head and closed her eyes. She waited…waited….

Suddenly, a hard shove jostled them.

“What…?” Val uttered, now out of the moment.

“Uh, sooory dude,” a spaced out voice drooled.

“Hey!” Ron shouted, grabbing the frat boy. Then he noticed his unsteady stance and looking closer, his dilated eyes.

“What are you on?” he demanded.

The frat boy held up a small packet, a dazed smile on his face.

Ron snatched it out of his hands.

“Ohhhh noooo, don’t take my druggggs,” the frat boy whined and then he pitched over. Ron grabbed him before his face could meet the floor and gently lowered him to the ground. The news editor dragged “Dazed and Confused” into a corner to sleep it off.

“What is it?” Val asked when Ron came back.

In response, he held up the small packet. Val took a close look. It was a small plastic baggie with some powder in it. Sketched on the baggie was a design, what looked to be a sunflower.

“It’s some new designer drug,” Ron explained. “Dude, here, got off easy. This poison is already responsible for putting two dozen people in the hospital.”

“Was this the new assignment you had for me?” Val inquired.

“Yes, but this changes things.” Ron made a grimace. “I’m really sorry, Val, but I have to get this checked out. He clutched the packet in his hands.

“Let me come with you,” Val pleaded.

“Uh…I can’t,” Ron stammered. “I have this source…and he’ll only talk to me.”

“Sure,” Val agreed halfheartedly, rolling her eyes

“Sorry again,” Ron apologized and then was gone.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“Why so glum?” Cass asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Val answered dejectedly. “I was just slow dancing with Ron and getting close to him, when some druggie slammed into us and now he’s off investigating a packet the druggie had.”

“Really?” Erik said, perking up.

“Yeah, do you know something about it?” Val turned to him, eyes narrowing.

“Just curious,” Erik replied evenly. “Still have your suspicions about me, Val?”

“Of course she doesn’t,” Cass jumped in, “Do you, Val?”

“Well…hey, where’s Laura?”

“Oh, you’d better talk to her,” Cass stated, pointing to a sulking figure in the corner. “She’s pretty mad.”

Val walked over to the high school senior who tensed up instantly.

“You’re going to ‘deal’ with me now,” she demanded.

“Ron told me what you were trying to do for me,” Val stated.

“Yeah?” Laura asked defensively.

“Laura, look. I acted like a jerk. Can you forgive me?”

“Well…maybe if you got me a drink.”

“Sure. I’ll get you.... a Sprite.” Val grinned and Laura grinned back.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

It was three a.m. and the party was going strong but Val was winding down. Of course, the five beers and four (five? six?) shots had nothing to do with it.

“So, Ron and me, we’re the same,” she was rambling to Laura. “He’s dedicated to his work…oh, did you see how hot he was looking tonight?”

“Uh, I think it’s time to go,” Laura suggested, catching Val’s flailing arm. She guided the college coed over to her friend.

“Wow Val! I could gas my car on your fumes!” Cass waved her hand in front of her.

“I’m not drunk,” Val countered. “I only had that much to drink,” holding her thumb and forefinger an inch apart.

“We’re going,” Laura stated.

“Wait a sec. Let me get Erik and we’ll go together.” Cass returned a moment later, boy-toy in tow.

“Aw, babe,” Erik whined. “I thought we’d go back to my place.” He glided his hands down her back.

“Ooooo,” Cass responded. “Val and Laura can’t walk home alone. It’s dangerous.”

“It’s okay,” Laura replied. “We’ll be alright.”

“You see,” Erik told Cassie. He slid his hands lower.

“Are you…oohhhh….are you sure Laura?”

“We’ll be fine,” the high schooler smirked. “Right, Val?”

“Right. Where we going again?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The path was deserted except for the two girls. A cool fall breeze rustled the trees on this dark and moonless night as Laura led Valerie along.

“Sooo, does little Laura have a boyfriend?” Val asked, leaning on her shoulder.

“Yes, I told you already, his name is Dean.”

“Dean. His first name wouldn’t be Jimmy. Get it. Jimmy Dean, hee hee!” Val cracked up.

Laura rolled her eyes.

A branch snapped.

Laura’s eyes darted to a thick stand of trees.

“Or maybe James Dean,” Val continued, completely unaware.

“Quiet,” Laura whispered. She continued to stare into that darkened thicket, willing herself to see through the pitch blackness.

Then, very deliberately, she slid off her heels.

Laura stood like that, in just her stockinged feet, for several moments.

“What is it?” Val whispered.

“It’s nothing,” Laura finally decided, relaxing. “Hey, why didn’t I think of this earlier?” Laura exclaimed, noticing how comfortable her feet were. For the rest of the way home, the girl held her shoes in one hand while propping up her tipsied companion in the other.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Six a.m.

Val awoke with a startle. She vaguely remembered getting home, Laura getting her changed and into bed, which is where she was now. But…what had woken her up?

While Val thought this over, she was looking straight ahead at her bedroom window….

She gasped.

The college reporter lept to the window, pulling apart the curtain.

“Just a tree,” she sighed…and not the dark humanoid form she had imagined.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

It was past noon before Val awoke again, this time due to nothing more sinister than Laura’s shaking.

“Wake up, sleepy-head,” the high school senior prodded her.

“Uh, go away!” Val moaned, digging her head deeper into her pillow, her head pounding

“Okay, okay,” the sleepy coed relented as Laura started rocking the bed.

After dressing and having a quick brunch of coffee and English muffins with strawberry preserves, the pair headed to the Target.

Passing by her bedroom window reminded the coed of her experience last night. “You wouldn’t believe what I saw,” she began…but suddenly blanched as she stared at the ground underneath that window…

And the set of muddy boot prints in it...


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#3 [url]

Sep 22 09 10:10 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 4)



“What did you see Val?” Laura Silverman asked her hostess. “Val…Valerie?”

“The footprints…SOMEBODY was here last night.”

“Is that what you were trying to say just now?”

The young reporter nodded in acknowledgment at Laura’s statement.

“Do you think someone was watching us?”

“Yeah, like Erik…”

“Erik? But he was with Cassie, wasn’t he?”

“I still don’t trust him Laura, come on let’s get to the Target.”

“One thing is for certain,” Valerie added, unlocking the door to her Honda. “Somebody was out here last night and by the looks of things, was peeking in my window.”

The two girls drove off to the target office, which was on the other side of the campus. Val and Laura got out and went inside the building, which was unlocked.

“Ron are you here?” Valerie called out to her editor. Ron then showed himself. He was carrying a piece of paper.

“Good morning Ladies” he announced as he glanced up at them.

“Morning” Val responded as she put down her handbag “Do you have anything more on that drug from last night?”

“I’m afraid I do” he responded, giving her the piece of paper. “I’m sorry Laura. I promised I would show you around, but this came up.”

“Hey no problem there Ron, I’ll just hang out with my gal pal Val!”

Laura giggled as she put her arm around Valerie.

“It’s the new drug going around?” the reporter answered him.

“Afraid so” he shot back “My source tells me they haven’t been able to trace it back to the campus, chances are it might be something from the outside….but it’s around and somebody’s distributing it.”

Valerie then looked at Laura and then at Ron.

“Val, do you have an idea on what might be going on?”

Laura then said it loudly before Valerie could speak.

“Erik…”

“Erik Peterson? You mean Cassie’s new boyfriend?”

“You might mean obsession Ron!” Val replied as she gave Laura a look on stealing her moment “I don’t trust him!”

“Valerie, I only met him one time…he seems like a pretty nice guy.”

“Not you too Ronald Henry!” Val shouted, “Cassie’s so obsessed, she can’t even see straight…. we even had a big fight over this.”

“A fight? Are you jealous?”

Valerie then punched Ron in the arm.

“Jealous of him? You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

“Erik’s quite the charmer Ron” Laura added, trying to get a word in. “And I agree with Valerie, there’s something not right about him.”

“Okay, okay” Ron responded “Even if you don’t like him, that doesn’t make him a criminal.”

“Then what is he doing with a wad of cash and driving a new Mercedes?”

Ron then was speechless as she stared at him.

“Well?” Val added, “You see he is suspicious.”

“And that’s not all Ron” Laura spoke up “There were fresh footprints outside Valerie’s window this morning.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”

“Slipped my mind I guess…. Ron I’m just worried about Cassie that’s all.”

“Well let’s see” Ron added “You have a roommate with a boyfriend that’s pretending to be poor, a new designer drug that’s going around and now footprints outside your window…. maybe he’s worth checking out then.”

“Gee, ya think?” Val responded with a sarcastic tone.

“Didn’t you tell me that Erik was an art student here on campus?”

“Yes. A few years ago.”

Ron then went into a file cabinet and took out an old campus directory. He then stopped at a page and wrote something down on a piece of paper. He then gave it to his ace reporter.

“Professor David Jennings?”

“He’s retired now, but I believe he probably taught Erik in one of his classes.”

“Okay, I’ll go talk to him.”

“Well if you’re going to do that, I’ll show Laura around the place.”

Laura then looked at Valerie.

“Could I go with Valerie? This might be kind of fun anyway.”

Ron thought for a second and agreed.

But we have an appointment tomorrow morning Silverman, got it?”

“Got it Ronny boy…”

“Come on” Val said, grabbing Laura’s arm “We’ve got work to do.”

Laura then waved goodbye to Ron as Val dragged her out of the building. The girls got into Valerie’s Honda and drove away from the office.

“Nice going there Val…”

“What are you talking about Laura?”

“Ron…you didn’t mention one thing about what happened between the two of you last night.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Man you two are blind! Blind as two Stevie Wonder’s!”

The coed looked at her and then shook her head.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Several minutes later, the duo arrived at the address Ron gave them. They got out and walked up to the front door to the small house. Val knocked on the door and a few moments later, a man who appeared to be in his early 60’s answered it.

“Can I help you girls?” he said in a mellow voice. His grayish hair pulled back in a ponytail. He also wore a bright tie-dyed t-shirt.

“Yes” Val replied, “We’re looking for Professor David Jennings?”

“You’re looking at him little mama!”

His demeanor took the girls aback to say the least. “YOU DIDN’T SAY HE WAS A HIPPIE RON!” Val thought as she introduced herself and Laura. He invited the duo in. The room was full of abstract art and such.

"So what can I do for you two ladies?"

"Was Erik Peterson a student of yours?" Valerie asked, cutting right to the chase.

"Erik. Why yes he was as a matter of fact...one of my best students. Some of his work is hanging up in here."

Laura walked over to it and bent her head in different ways, trying to figure out what some of the art was.

"I have no idea what this is supposed to be?" she asked.

"Just let your mind wander sister, can you dig it?"

Laura looked at him and nodded her head, trying not to laugh at the obvious generation gap.

"Valerie right?" Jennings asked the reporter as Val acknowledged him "There was a song during my era with your name in the title."

"There was?"

"Sure. The Monkees had a song with that name. It wasn't one of their biggest ones, but i dig that groovy guitar in it. Wait a minute...how did it go...oh yeah!"

The professor did his best American Idol impression of the song as Laura broke out in laughter. Val snickered as well as she walked over to see Erik's paintings.

"Well, that's basically how it went....but you get the idea."

"Yes we get it...." Val replied as something stopped her in her tracks. She stared at something on Erik's work and then went to another one and another one. The reporter then turned to the professor.

"These are Erik's you said?"

"Nothing but the truth little sister."

"Thank you for your time then, come on Laura."

Valerie grabbed Laura and headed for the door.

"Whoa whoa, where ya goin?" the professor said "You didn't sample any of my homemade tea."

"Maybe next time Professor, thanks for your time."

The girls got back into Valerie's car and Laura quickly asked Valerie what she had seen.

"Okay are you going to tell me what you saw?"

"His signature...you know artists sign their paintings?"

"Yeah....?"

"He signed everyone with a sunflower."

"So" Laura quizzed "He's into flowers, probably like the old geezer back there."

"Laura, you don't get it. I saw that same sunflower on that bag of drugs last night."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm positive. It was a unique design. But I still need proof."

"So what's next?" Laura asked, obviously wanting to be part of the action. "Stuck in the sixties was no help, except for that signature you saw and Val, that's no proof you know?"

"But I'm sure it was the same. I have to see where Erik goes, and that means follow him."

"You're probably going to p Cassie off again."

"Laura, I'm trying to protect her from this slime ball...if he's behind this drug ring, she's right in the middle of it."

Valerie and Laura headed back to the apartment, as Val was wondering what Cassie would think if she knew what she was planning on doing.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Cassie's still at Erik's" Valerie said as she pulled her car into the parking lot of her apartment. She parked right next to Cassie's car and the girls got out and went inside. Laura then noticed a note on the kitchen table.

"She's at class Val" Laura said reading it.

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that one class she has....Sorry, but can you wait for her?"

"And where are you going?" Laura quizzed, getting a feeling that Val was ditching her.

"I'm going over to Erik's and follow him when he leaves. I'm just
hoping he's there."

"And you don't want me to go?"

"Sorry, but It might be dangerous...I'll call Ron and let him know where I'm going."

Laura then rolled her eyes and sat on the couch.

"Fine. I'll wait for Cassie."

"I'll be back soon."

"You better be." Laura replied with a slight scowl.

As Valerie left, Laura jumped up and found an address book that was laying in a kitchen drawer. She opened it and smiled.

"Bingo! Now to get there...."

Laura looked around and spotted a set of keys laying on a hook. She took them and grabbed her purse. She shut and locked the door. Opening Cassie's car, Laura put the key into the ignition.

"Sorry Cass, but this might be for your own good" she thought as she turned the key. To her relief, the car started and then she set out to find Erik's place....



TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#4 [url]

Oct 11 09 8:42 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 5)


“I sure hope I find this place” Laura Silverman thought out loud as she looked over the directions she got for Erik’s street. A few more turns and she then spotted Valerie’s Honda parked on the street outside an elaborate apartment complex.

“Now to wait I guess”

Meanwhile Valerie, unaware that Laura was behind her on the same street, was waiting for Erik to emerge from his apartment. Several minutes later, her persistence paid off as the well-dressed man showed himself and got in his sparkling new Mercedes and backed out of the driveway. Val was careful as she pulled out, trying to follow him from a close distance. Laura completed the train as she tailed Valerie. Valerie kept a safe distance behind the suspected drug dealer, making sure he didn't think he was being followed. A few miles into town and a few turns brought Valerie (and Laura) to the warehouse district. Val saw Erik pull into one of the entrances. It was isolated from the others.

Meanwhile Laura had pulled off a side street, but could see Valerie from where she was. She then saw the reporter get out of her car and run over to the one warehouse.

Val made sure she had her mini camera with her as she snapped photos of the place. It was a large building, with several entrances. Val snuck up to one of the doors and waited there. Little did she know, she was spotted. She then saw Erik talking to another man. The man wasn't dressed like Erik. "Probably one of his goons," the reporter thought as she carefully snapped some more photos. They were too far away to pick up any conversation. Erik and the man then turned and walked to the back of the warehouse.

"I've got to get closer" Val thought as she turned to go. Suddenly, a hand clamped over her mouth and a gun was pointed at her head!

"Well, looks like I caught a little spy" the man sneered, as he tightened his grip on Val's mouth "Time to take you to the boss..."

With the gun at her head, Val was in no position to resist. Suddenly there was a noise like a trash can lid adjacent to them. The noise was enough for the thug to let down the gun. Valerie took full advantage of it and elbowed the goon hard in the ribs and then gave him a flip. As the goon came to his senses, a fist connected with his face, sending him down for the count. Valerie saw who the owner of that fist was...it was Laura.

"How?..." Valerie asked as she found her camera on the ground, undamaged.

"I thought you would need my help, so I followed you."

"Follow? How?"

"Uh… that’s not important. I guess you’re glad that I showed up when I did."

"Laura, I was in complete control of the situation."

"Yep. Of course you were," Laura answered sarcastically "Now what?"

"Well as long as you’re here....maybe we can create a diversion so one of us can go find Erik."

The girls turned to sneak into the warehouse when suddenly three goons showed up behind them, three more blocked their escape the other direction.

"Any more bright ideas Laura?"

"Uh…Fight Club?"

Laura then shocked Valerie as she whirled around and kicked one the goons and then another. Val was far from passive as she gave one of them a 360 degree kick, sending one flying. Val kicked the second one as the third grabbed her from behind. She elbowed him and kneed him where it hurts, sending him to the ground in pain. Meanwhile, Laura was no slouch herself. As two of the thugs came at her from opposing directions, she sidestepped a punch from the goon in front of her while driving her elbow into the chin of the one behind her. She nailed “punchy” with a left hook/uppercut before delivering a spin kick to “chin-face.” Then, getting up on one of the nearby crates, the teen leapt off and kicked a third thug in midair! The thug bounced off a dumpster…right into Laura’s fist.

"Nothing like taking out the trash!"

Val was shocked as she looked at the high schooler as well as the men laying all over the ground.

"Where...did...you...learn…"

"Babysitting," Laura responded, headbutting a wobbly thug.

"Let's find Erik then." Val replied, still stunned at what she had just seen.

"Did you see where he went?"

"He went to the back....Erik!" Val yelled as she saw him activate a lever. Suddenly without warning, the floor beneath the girls gave way, sending them down below.

"Ahhhh!!!" the girls yelled as they landed with a thud on top of some cardboard boxes. Val grabbed her head and then looked at Laura who moaned as she rolled over. A few moments later, the girl heard footsteps near them and then heard a familiar voice.

"Get them up!" Erik barked as two of his thugs grabbed Valerie and Laura, still dazed, and yanked them to their feet.

"Hey!" Laura shouted as she got yanked to her feet by a thug wearing some funny glasses.

"Well you two have certainly caused enough trouble...taking out half of my men." Erik sneered as he pointed his gun at them "Tie them up.... and I mean tight."

The two thugs obliged as they grabbed Val and Laura and crossed their wrists behind their backs. Taking rope from their pockets, they proceeded to bind the girls.

"Cassie will see the light yet" Valerie said as she gritted her teeth. The ropes dug into her skin as she felt them tighten.

"Cassie doesn't believe you Valerie, you should know that by now."

"Hey Erik!” Laura added as she winced also. “Was that your Mercedes out front?”

Erik laughter suddenly died. “Yeah, what of it?”

“I keyed it,” the girl grinned. She looked over at Valerie who started chuckling.

Red-faced, Erik stormed over to Laura and backhanded her but even that didn’t stop her grinning.

“I didn’t think it possible,” Erik sneered, “but your mouth is even bigger than your nose.”

"I didn’t think it possible," Laura responded, “but your brain is even smaller than your “bleep.”

"Gag them!" Erik roared as the thugs took out white rags, rolled them up and then pulled them tightly into the girls' mouths and between their teeth before knotting the gags behind their heads.

"There, much better" Erik mellowed as his phone rang. "Ahh it's Cassie."

"Cass.... whoa.... slow down.... what? Your car was stolen?"

Val bit hard on her gag as she gave Laura a look of "What did you do?" In return, Laura gave her best “Who, me?” look of innocence.

"Don't worry babe...I might have an idea...just sit tight, I'll be there shortly..."

Erik closed his phone and then got Cassie's keys out of Laura's pocket.

"I knew it....but this will actually play into my hands. Take them inside and tie their feet. I'm going to go get Cassie's car...I have a nice idea on how to get rid of all of our problems."

Val and Laura looked at each other as they were both jerked roughly into the warehouse. Their fate seemingly in Erik's hands....


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#5 [url]

Oct 26 09 10:25 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 6)




“MMOWWW!” Val yelled as one of Erik’s goons tied the rope around her ankles. The goon just snickered and pulled the cord ends extra tight before crossing and knotting them.

“Mthanks ma mlot,” the Asian reporter commented sarcastically.

Next to her, three goons were struggling to get Laura tied. Even with her hands tied behind her back, the teen was putting up quite a fight. One had his straining arms wrapped around her upper body, barely holding her in a bear hug. Another was pinning down her thrashing legs while his partner worked on lashing them together.

“Hurry up!” Pin-Her-Downer said frantically. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold her!”

“Mwhy mdon’t myou *mbleep* a mkoala, myou *mbleeping mbleep mbleep!,” the teen shouted, her gag barely keeping her comments clean.

“There!” Lash-Her shouted in triumph, raising his hands from the girl’s now securely fastened feet.

“About time,” Bear-Hugger remarked, shoving her onto her side. As he got up to leave, he turned back and kicked her in the stomach. “That’s for the head butt earlier!” Laughing, he walked off, leaving Laura moaning on the floor.

“Mare myou mall mright?” Val mumbled through her gag worriedly.

“Myeah,” Laura groaned.

A few moments later, the goons returned, led by Erik.

“Well, girls,” Erik smirked slimily, “I’ve enjoyed our time together but I’m afraid its time for me to go.” He knelt down and pinched Val’s cheek. “After all, Cass must be worried sick.” Val twisted her head free of Erik’s touch in disgust. “Ha!” Erik laughed at the girl’s revulsion. “Oh, don’t fret. I’ve got something extra special planned for you and your little gal pal.”

Erik got back up and dug through his pocket, coming up with a set of keys. “Get them “packed up” for their trip,” he smirked, tossing the keys to Bear-Hugger.

“Mwhere mare mwe mgoing?” Laura asked.

“Lets just say it’s a “gas,” the boyfriend from hell taunted. From their position on the floor, the girls saw his high-priced Italian loafers walk off, leaving them with four sets of Keds.

“Mso mguys, mwhy mdon’t myou mlet mus mgo?” Val suggested. “Mwe mwon’t mtell Merik.”

“Ya hear that?” Val’s goon, Extra-Tight, asked, greatly amused. “This chick wants us to let her go!”

“Oh, she’ll be “gone alright,” Pin-Her-Downer confirmed. This got a round of guffaws from his compatriots. Bear-Hugger left and moments later, Val and Laura heard the distinctive putter of Cass’ Volvo being driven inside.

The girls were hoisted up and slung over shoulder as Hugger popped the trunk.

“Mthis misn’t mgood…MMOOF!” Laura remarked as she was dumped into the dark confines of the trunk and Val was dumped on top of her.

“Enjoy your ride, girls!” Huggie-Bear sneered, slamming the trunk closed and plunging the girl detectives into darkness.

“MOWWW!” Val protested as she felt Laura’s knee dig into her back.

“Mmove mover!” the high school senior shot back. When the goon brigade had tossed her in, she had landed facedown. With Valerie on top of her, the teen’s face was pressed into the dirty carpet lining the interior. “Mmove mover!” Laura reiterated through a noseful of lint.

“Mokay, mokay,” Val told her, rolling over on her side but not quickly enough to avoid another jab in the back from Laura. “Mhappy?” the college coed demanded.

Thankfully for Val, the “SCR-EE-CH” of a rusty door sliding closed drowned out her partner’s retort. “Mhey, mi mthink mthey’re mgone?” the Asian reporter said a moment later.

“Myeah,” Laura agreed. “Mnow, msit mstill mso mi mcan mget mus mfree!” She gave Val a not-so-friendly shove to free up some room. “Mmuch mbetter.” Flexing her wrists, she tested the ropes binding her hands. They were tight and well tied but Laura was confident she could get out of them if given enough time.

“Mhey,” Valerie piped up.

“Mnot mnow,” Laura responded, annoyed.

Undeterred, Val prodded the teen with her shoulder.

“Mhat!” Laura demanded, now extremely annoyed.

“Mlisten! Mthey mleft mthe mengine mon!”

Laura quieted so she could hear. Yes, she could hear the low chug of the Volvo’s V-6. “Moh msh*t!”

“Myeah. Moh msh*t!” Val agreed. “Mhow mlong mdo myou mthink mwe mhave?”

“Mthirty mminutes…mat mmost!” Laura figured before the carbon monoxide from the car exhaust would fill the small warehouse and asphyxiate them.

“Mquick, mlook mfor msomething mto mcut mthe mropes!” Val yelled.

Not waiting for Laura, Valerie searched the car trunk, fingers groping in the dark. After many fruitless minutes, her hands brushed against something sharp.

“Mah mhah!” she shouted in triumph. Carefully, she traced her fingers over the object; it seemed like a metal corner, right underneath the rear lights, that had been dented inward, leaving a jagged edge.

“Mhey Mlaura, Mi mfound msomething!” Valerie began to rub the ropes around her wrists against the edge. Ever so slowly, the rough cords began to fray until , after what seemed like forever, the college coed pulled her hands apart with all her might…and the ropes parted!

Valerie pulled out her gag, her mouth sore and dry, and went to work on her feet. As she loosened the knot and wriggled her legs free of the ropes, spots appeared before her eyes.

“Uhhh, Laura, I don’t feel so hot…” she sighed woozily. Swaying, she turned to free Laura…only to see the girl slipping the ropes off her hands and feet.

“How did you…?” Val began only to be stopped by Laura.

“Save your breath,” she advised, after pulling the gag from her mouth. The teen saw that the carbon monoxide fumes filling the warehouse and slowly creeping into the trunk compartment were overcoming her friend. With her breath control, Laura was faring better but even she was starting to feel dizzy. “I’ve got to think of something or we’re not going to make it,” she told herself.

The uncertainty in Laura’s eyes suddenly vanished, replaced by a look of steely determination. Her hands began combing the center of the carpeted floor. She gave a mental “Aha!” as her fingers found the object of her search…a narrow seam in the floor.

The teen quickly located the latch embedded in the floor and turned it. “Cassie, don’t let me down,” she thought, snatching a glance at Valerie, who lay barely moving and semi-conscious.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“That Laura! Can you believe it?” Cassie Warren asked her boyfriend.

“You know,” Erik confided, “when we first met, she tried to come on to me. I didn’t tell you because I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt but now, well…”

“That little…!” Cass exclaimed, her mouth agape. “If my car’s not back in an hour, I’m calling the cops!”

“Uh,” Erik stammered. “I’m sure that won’t be necessary. She probably took your car for a joyride. You know, kids will be kids.”

“Thanks for coming over,” Cassie sighed, resting her head against Erik’s chest. They were outside her apartment; Cass had been waiting in the parking lot, on the lookout for Erik’s Mercedes, ever since calling him about her car.

Lifting her head up, Cassie’s gaze shifted to said Mercedes, against which Erik was leaning.

“What happened to your car?” Cassie inquired, tracing her finger along the ugly looking scratch that ran the entire length of the luxury sedan.

“Some b*itch keyed it,” Erik muttered nastily.

“That’s horrible!” Cass explained. “What happened?”

An evil smile appeared on her boyfriend’s face. “Don’t worry, babe,” he reassured her. “I put her in her place.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Gripping the latch, Laura slid the cover over, revealing the tire well…and the fully inflated spare tire within.

Sparing a small smile, the teen inched over to Valerie and shook her hard, being rewarded for her efforts when the college coed opened her eyes and looked at her weakly.

Laura tugged her over to the tire. Although Laura was on the verge of passing out, she knew Val was worse off and allowed her that first, sweet breath of air from the tire after unscrewing the valve.

Valerie inhaled deeply, the stale but uncontaminated air reviving her. She took one more breath and then moved, allowing Laura to get a breath.

“Ah, that feels sooo good,” the teen sighed.

“So, now what?” Val asked. “We’re still stuck in this trunk.”

“Not for long,” Laura grinned, her hands brushing through her hair and coming back with a hair clip.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“How considerate of them to leave the keys in the ignition,” Val smirked after Laura had picked the lock on the trunk and they had rushed out.

“I’ll open the warehouse door,” Laura offered but Val laid a restraining hand on the teen.

“No time for that,” Valerie declared. “Get in and buckle up!”

The pair piled into the Volvo, Laura riding shotgun and Val sliding into the driver’s seat.

“What about the door?!” the high school senior asked worriedly. “How are we going to open it?!”

The college coed eyed the rusty, sheet metal door. She revved the Volvo, spinning the tires out, before letting the clutch out. “We’re not opening the doors. We’re going through them!”

“Yahoo!” Laura yelled, pressed against her seat back as Valerie floored the accelerator.

The warehouse door filled their vision…then “SCRA-KRANG!!!” they were through and out.

Val eased up and the Volvo came to a stop, its front grill crumpled and trailing sparks.

“Oh boy, how am I going to explain this to Cass?” the college coed wondered. "Look, take me back to my car and you can drive it back." Val said to Laura, giving her the keys "Then I can tell her that I'm responsible..."

"She's going to be p.o'd Valerie" Laura shot back as Val drove to the side street where her Honda was.

"Well maybe this is what we need to convince her once and for all about her dirtbag boyfriend."

"And not to mention almost dying at his hands." The teen added as Val pulled over to her car and Laura got out and got in Val's Honda. After that, the two girls started back to the apartment.


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#6 [url]

Nov 11 09 11:54 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 7)



"So what are we going to do about this baby?" Cassie asked Erik as they went back inside her apartment. "I mean I'm going to call the cops, if my car doesn't turn up!"

As Cassie paced the floor, Erik took out a folded up envelope and secretly placed the item in Cassie's purse sitting on a stand near the kitchen.

"I told you babe," he replied. "She's probably out joy riding, you know..."

His voice was interrupted by the sound of two cars approaching the apartment. Cassie quickly shot out the door and gasped as she saw her car and the damaged front end. Valerie jumped out and stopped Cassie from going after Laura, who, driving Val's Honda, had just pulled in behind her. Erik was stunned as he came outside. Val and Laura gave him an evil look as he stood there speechless.

"You!" Cassie screamed at Laura. "You little troublemaker! You're buying me a new car!"

"Calm down Cassie" Val shot back, blocking her path to get at Laura. "We need to tell you what happened."

"I know what happened ,Valerie!" Cassie screamed back "She stole my car and she wrecked it too, so stop covering for her!"

"Listen to me!" Val screamed back, grabbing her roommate. "Your boyfriend here is responsible for this."

Laura couldn't stop staring at Erik, who had a look of panic on his face. Cassie just shook her head at Valerie.

"Stop it!" Cassie yelled at her "Erik had nothing to do with this!"

"Listen to Val, Cassie," Laura replied, trying to smooth things over.

"You shut up!" Cass yelled at the teen. "I should call the police and let them handle you!"

Laura glared once again at Erik who just stared at them.

"He kidnapped us, Cassie!" Val said, trying to get her to listen. "He's no good."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"I, or rather, we followed him from his apartment."

"I should have known you would do something like that, Valerie Chang!"

"Just hear me out, will you? We were ambushed by these goons and then we fell into a trap and tied up, gagged and put in your car trunk. Then on top of everything, the engine was left running almost killing us with the fumes."

Cassie just shook her head as she looked at Erik.

"Is this true?"

"I have no idea what they're talking about, babe." he said smugly, confident Cassie would believe HIM.

"You son of a b.....!" Val shouted as she ran towards Erik only to have Cassie stop her. "You're lying! Tell her!"

Erik only threw up his hands in a "What, me?" pose. Cassie then got in her car and started up the engine. She then cursed as she got out.

"You used up the gas too you little.....!"

Laura bowed her head contritely. “I know Cassie. I’m sorry…”
Cassie reared up her hand and slapped her.

Everyone, even Erik, was stunned but no one more so than the high school girl. She stood staring at Cassie as her struck cheek reddened. Laura’s eyes wavered, moistening, before they narrowed and hardened.

Anticipating her reaction, Val grabbed the girl as she lunged at Cassie.

“Why you…you, you…!” Laura shouted, barely held in check by Val.

Erik allowed Cassie to bury herself in his arms as he gave Laura and Val a sly wink.

"Don’t worry, love" he whispered in her ear. "I’ll take care of everything, I promise. Now I've got to run"

He then pecked her on the cheek. Cass returned his kiss and ran inside the apartment.

"Okay ladies," Erik sneered. "I've got to go “tie up” a few loose ends"

"Very funny Erik" Val shot back, staring a hole right through him.

"I’m sure your future prison boyfriend will laugh his head off,” Laura added.

"But… we won't turn you in if…" Val stated, releasing a now calm Laura.

"If what?" Erik quizzed.

" If you break up with Cassie" Val responded with a strong voice.

"You have no proof of anything, just your word against mine."

"You tried to kill us!" Val shouted as Erik got in her face.

"And next time, I'll succeed...so watch your back"

With that chilling line, Erik got into his Mercedes and drove off.

"I can't believe this!" Laura said to Val as they walked back inside the apartment. Cassie was there on the couch sulking.

"I want you out Laura...now!"

"Why don’t you shut up and listen!" Laura shot back. "Everything Valerie said is true."

Cassie looked at both of them.

"You said you were tied up in my trunk with the engine running?"

Val and Laura nodded their heads.

"Well, I'm sorry this happened but Erik had nothing to do with it."

"Cassie." Val shot back "Do you hear yourself? You are so obsessed with this guy that you can't see straight."

"I'm in love with him, Valerie! It's the best thing that's ever happened to me."

"I know, but this guy is bad news all the way around."

"What proof do you have, Valerie? Oh yeah, a reporter doesn't reveal her sources right?"

"No I'll tell you. The signature of his paintings matches the design on that bag of drugs me and Ron saw last night."

"That’s it?"

"For now... I told him to break it off with you, or we would turn him in."

"You did what?" Cassie screamed again, running into her bedroom and slamming the door. Val parked herself on the couch and took a pillow and slammed her head against it in frustration.

"Grrrrrrr!!!!" Val shouted as Laura gave her a hug.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Hey it's me" Erik said as he talked on his iphone. "Listen, we need to go to plan b....yeah I know it ...I've already set plan b in motion....problem is I've got two MAJOR headaches to deal with....let me handle that....."

With that Erik put away the phone and kept driving.


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#7 [url]

Nov 24 09 11:33 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH



When Valerie woke up early next morning, Cassie was already gone. The college coed knew that her best friend had an 8am Economics class, but she doubted that Cass would’ve been there even if she hadn’t. The previous night had been “tense.”

“That’s an understatement,” Val thought. She had insisted the three of them have dinner together as an effort to patch things up. Seated at the small dining room table, Val felt like she needed her winter coat to ward off the ice-cold glares Cass and Laura were giving each other.

“So…,” Val began feebly, “what’s it like living in River Hills?”

“It’s nice. We don’t have as many airhead bimbos,” Laura answered, her eyes locked on Cassie.

“Guess they got crowded out by all the little smart-mouthed, high school harpies, huh?” Cass retorted, her knife screeching as she cut her chicken cacciatore.

“No. They all had to leave town. We have strict anti-skank laws,” Laura replied coolly, grinding her fork as she twirled her spaghetti.

Cass curved her mouth into a wicked sneer. “Looks like they missed one.”

“WHY YOU…!” Laura yelled, slamming her fork down and standing up.

“OR WHAT?!” Cass screamed, springing to her feet.

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Val bellowed, rising and getting between them.

Laura stomped over to the sofa while Cass stormed off to her room, SLAMMING the door.

Val sighed. “At least it can’t get any worse.”

At that moment, Cass’s door slammed open.

“Hey! What are you…?” Before Laura could finish, Cass dumped her suitcase on the sofa, Laura’s clothes spilling everywhere.

“You’re the ONE that’s sleeping on the couch tonight!” The enraged coed retreated to her room, slamming the door behind her.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Val shuffled into the kitchen; the coed needed her morning coffee fix badly. As she manhandled their geriatric Mr. Coffee, she heard a low voice coming from the living room. Leaving the senile brewer to its business, she shuffled out.

Laura was sitting on the couch, talking into her cell phone. When Val got close enough to hear, her eyes snapped open and she came wide awake.

“Mom, I hate it here,” Laura sobbed. “I want to come home.”

Val stood there stunned as Laura stopped talking, apparently listening to what her mother had to say.

A couple minutes later, Laura gave a soft “love you” and quietly lowered the phone.

“Are you going home?” Val asked tenderly.

Startled, Laura turned her head, so absorbed in her call that she had been unaware that Val had been listening. She took a moment to compose herself. “I agreed to tough it out. Mom says to call her back if I still want to go home and they’ll take care of it.”

“I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault.” Val cried, taking a seat next to Laura and hugging her. The teen returned her hug.

“It’s not your fault,” Laura affirmed, a tear rolling down her cheek.

“Right. I’m sure that you get yelled at, beat up, bound, gagged, nearly suffocated, and slapped all the time.”

“Yeah” Laura smiled through wet eyes.

Val couldn’t help but chuckle despite her tears. “So, you’re saying nothing’s my fault?”

“Well…the chicken cacciatore last night.”

Val put her hands on her hips. “What’s wrong with my chicken cacciatore?”

“Nothing…” Laura smirked, “if it’s moonlighting as a tire.”

“Hey!” Val protested, playfully punching the teen. “That chicken cacciatore is a family recipe!”

“But you’re Asian!” insisted Laura.

Val winked at her. “That’s probably why it tastes so bad!”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“Why didn’t you call the cops?!” Ron demanded. Val and Laura had just finished telling their story to the Target editor inside his office.

“Because,” Val explained, “we need to learn who Erik’s supplier is. Arresting Erik won’t accomplish anything, his supplier will just find someone else to sell his drugs.

“But Val,” Ron countered, “the police can sweat the information out of Erik. Or if worse comes to worse, they can offer him a plea deal in exchange for turning state’s evidence.

“A plea deal for Erik? Are you serious, Ron?” Val shot back angrily. “After all he’s done!”

“I know,” Ron insisted, his face softening. “Don’t you think I want to get my hands on him after what he did to you!” He looked deep into Val’s eyes. After a long moment, he hastily added, “And…eh, to you too, Laura.”

“That’s okay, Mr. Henry,” the high schooler kidded him. She gave Val a knowing look while Ron reached for his cell phone.

“Laura,” the Asian reporter chided silently, blushing.

Ron turned back, cell phone in hand. “Val, I need to contact my police source.”

“You mean, your SECRET police source,” Val corrected him, an edge in her voice.

Ron hung his head. “Val… I made him a promise.”

“Hey, don’t beat yourself up, Mr. Editor in Chief,” Val joked, her tone lightening. She could see how much keeping this information from her was hurting him.

“Thanks, Val,” Ron told her gratefully. The two girls left the editor’s office, softly closing the door behind them and giving Ron the privacy he needed.

Outside in the press room, Val swatted Laura. “What was that ‘Mr. Henry’ business?” she demanded, imitating Laura’s sing-song schoolgirl voice.

“Oh, Val,” Laura declared. “When are you two going to stop this charade?”

“What charade?” Val asked nervously, her eyes shifting away.

“Oh Val,” Laura repeated, rolling her eyes and letting it go. She followed the college reporter over to her desk. Well, maybe “desk” was too nice a word; it was some dented, dingy piece of 1950’s government surplus.

“Wow! You have your own desk!” Laura said, amazed, without a trace of sarcasm.

“Yeah,” Val admitted sheepishly.

“That’s so cool,” Laura gushed. She stood there, watching appreciatively, as the college reporter checked her messages and mail.

Val sorted through several manila envelopes containing movie passes and CD’s. Besides being one of the Target’s top investigative reporters, she was also its movie and music critic. Val saw Laura eye one CD longingly.

“You want it,” Val asked.

“Yeah, I LOVE that band!” Laura enthused. “But…don’t you need to review it or something?”

Val waved her off. “I get tons of this stuff. I couldn’t possibly look over everything.” She handed Laura the disc.

“THANKS!” Laura deposited the CD in her backpack. “Hey, what are you looking at?”

The high school senior had caught Val staring intently at a press kit for what appeared to be an art exhibit.

“Look,” the reporter offered, showing Laura a glossy brochure.

“What? Professor Jennings?” The brochure pictured him standing in front of some paintings.

“Yep!” Val confirmed. “I got a feeling Professor “Stuck in the Sixties” isn’t telling us everything he knows.”

“You think his “dazed in a purple haze” is just an act.”

“Yep!” Val confirmed again.

Just as Val and Laura debated their next course of action, Ron’s door swung open and the editor quickly strode over, his face deep in thought.

“What is it, Ron?” Val asked worriedly.

“My police source agrees with you. He wants to set up a sting to take down the drug ring.
Erik, his supplier, everyone. And he wants to hear what happened to you and Laura…in person.”

Ron’s words hit Val like a sledgehammer. “That means…that means…”

“Yeah,” Ron confirmed. “He said its okay for me to tell you who he is. Val, my secret contact is Detective Jeff Henry.”

“Henry?”

“Yes, Val, he’s my uncle.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

“I can’t believe it,” Val uttered. She barely made it into a chair, her legs wobbly and weak. “He’s the one that saved me from being buried alive,” she remembered, her first case playing over in her head.

“One and the same.” Ron stated. “Now do you see why my promise to him was so important?”

“Of course,” Val comforted him. “He’s family.”

“I’m just glad that I don’t have to keep it a secret from you any longer. I hated deceiving you like that. And Val, just for the record, he thinks very highly of you.”

“He does?” Val asked in wonder.

“Ahem,” Laura cut in, making a show of clearing her throat. She began humming Hendrix.

“Oh…yeah!” Val exclaimed, snapping out of it. Quickly, she got her editor up to speed.

Ron thought it over. “There’s no definitive proof Professor Jennings is involved. He could just be absentminded.”

“Oh, come on, Ron,” Val rebutted.

“I know it’s a long shot but we have to assume he’s innocent until we can find conclusive proof to the contrary.”

“Well, Mr. ACLU, that’s exactly what I intend to do! I’m going over there right now and do some patented Valerie Chang snooping around!”

“What about Uncle Jeff?” Ron demanded.

“Laura can talk to him. She can tell him everything Erik did to us, can’t you, Laura?”

“Sure,” Laura piped up.

“Well, don’t think for a minute that I’m letting you walk into danger’s den alone, Valerie Chang!”

“Danger’s den?” Val asked coyly.

“You know what I mean!” Ron stammered, his face growing red. “I’m coming with you!”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Laura drove Val’s car to the courthouse downtown. Parking in the building’s underground garage, she passed security and eventually found her way to Courtroom 5. She found a spot on a wooden bench in the marbled corridor outside and waited. Fifteen minutes later, the mahogany double doors opened and people started streaming out. Laura scanned the crowd but Jeff Henry saw her first.

Although Laura figured he must be fifty something, Ron’s uncle wore his age well. He stood over six feet, his suit hinting at a fit and muscular frame, his blue eyes piercing but also, Laura felt, warm.

“Hello, you must be Ms. Silverman,” he smiled, taking a seat next to Laura. “Ron told me what you looked like. I’m Jeff Henry. Very pleased to meet you. He extended his hand.

Laura shook it. “The pleasures mine, Detective Henry. And please, call me Laura.”

“Call me Jeff. Let’s get out of here. I know a small park nearby where we can talk. Frankly after that,” he pointed a thumb back at the courtroom, “I could use the fresh air.”

They took Jeff’s car, an unmarked police cruiser, to the park, pulling up into a gravel lot at its outskirts. With the trees and green fields through the windshield and the flower-scented air wafting through the windows, the scene proved quite idyllic. And with few people around, quite peaceful. Laura could see why Jeff would favor this place. But, Laura reminded herself, they were here on deadly serious business.

“Did you get Ron’s message?” she asked the detective.

“Yes,” he answered, a tight grimace on his face. “He should have waited for me. He’s headstrong just like his father.”

“Well,” Laura came to his defense, “he didn’t have much of a choice. Val was determined to go and…

“And there’s no stopping her,” the police detective chuckled. “That Valerie. I keep telling my nephew that he’s not going to find a better girl. He needs to man up and tell her how he feels or she’s going to slip away.”

“Oh, I don’t think there’s much chance of that,” Laura laughed. “That girl is man-crazy for him.” Turning serious, Laura asked “Shouldn’t we get to Jennings right now?”

“Jennings may be involved but I don’t think he’s a threat, well, not big enough that Ron can’t handle.”

“What if Erik shows up?” Laura wanted to know.

“Right after Ron told me what happened to you and Val, I got the ok for a surveillance detail. They’re watching him as we speak. And just in case, I dispatched a black and white to Jennings.”

“Wow!” Laura thought. “I can see why Ron admires him so much! He thinks of everything!”

“Don’t worry, Laura,” Jeff reassured her. “Once I get your statement, we’re heading straight to Jennings.” He took out a recorder. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers. “Hey, do you want something to drink before you begin? Water? Soda?”

“Iced Tea, please,” Laura spoke up, figuring she might get thirsty.

“Be right back than.” He returned five minutes later, two 20oz bottles in his hands. Laura quickly uncapped her’s, taking a long gulp of tea as Jeff set the recorder down and turned it on.

“Okay, start from the time you arrived at the warehouse.”

“Okay,” Laura began, taking another gulp of tea. “I saw Val hiding behind some boxes at the front….at the front…ohhhhh.” Laura dropped the bottle, its contents chugging out, and swayed back in her seat.

“Laura! What’s wrong?!”

Laura thought his voice sounded faraway. With considerable effort, she turned to look at him. Her vision was wavering, hard to keep in focus. “Don’t… feel…good…dizzy….” Laura sighed.

“Hang on! I’m getting you to the hospital!”

Laura in her growing daze, saw Jeff frantically reach for the ignition. But, a moment later, he pulled his hand back and just gazed at her sadly.

"Sorry Laura" He said to her, or so she thought as she thought it was strange as she passed out.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Jeff checked to make sure the girl was unconscious. From everything he had heard, he wouldn’t have put it past her to trick him. His years of experience had taught him not to underestimate anyone because of something as baseless as male pride.

Which is why he had decided to drug her instead of overpower her, acting alarmed to allay her suspicions. Now, he got out, walked over to the passenger side door, opened it, and hoisted her over his shoulder. (Luckily, there was no one around to see him, one of the reasons he had decided on this particular park.)

He laid the girl on the back seat and reached behind his back for his cuffs. He locked them around her wrists, palms out. Then he got a piece of rope from the trunk and tied her legs together. Not having a handkerchief or rag, Jeff undid his tie and used it to gag Laura. Gently, he rolled her onto the floor so she would not be seen.

He got back in the driver’s seat and took out his phone.

"Yeah it's me...taken care of...."

He then hung up the phone and drove off, a disgusted and beaten look on his face.

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#8 [url]

Dec 14 09 11:31 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 9)



"You know Ron, I can take care of myself" Valerie Chang said as she drove her Honda towards Professor Jennings house.

"Val, I have a bad feeling about this, don't ask me why."

"Ron, I thought you said our professor was absent-minded?"

"Yes I did" her editor shot back "But I've been thinking about it, and I think he might be hiding something."

"Oh I think he's hiding alot, those paintings in there can't be there by coincidence."

"So I think it's wise for me to go along with you" Ron said as Val looked at him and gave him a nod.

Val drove another couple of miles and parked in front of the professor's house. Val and Ron made their way to the front door and rang the bell. Ron then noticed the door partially open.

"Look Valerie" he said as he gently pushed the door open. To their shock they saw the room trashed.

"Professor Jennings? Hello?"

"Be careful Val" Ron warned as he kept an eye out for anybody. Just then, they heard a groan coming from across the room. Val rushed over to it and found Professor Jennings lying on the floor next to a couch.

"Oh my God! Professor!" She yelled as she rolled him over, he had been cut above the eye, like somebody had knocked him out. Ron took out his phone and dialed it.

"Come on Jeff pick up."

Meanwhile Jeff had just finished retying Laura, when his phone rang.

"Ron, did you find out anything?"

"Valerie and I just arrived at his place and found the room ransacked....he look like Jennings took a blow to the head."

"Whoa...whoa slow down Ron."

Laura, who had just awoken from her unconsciousness, heard Ron's name and began to shout his name from behind her gag.

"Mmmon...Mefff mas me myied mup! Miam meing meld mrisoner min mis masement! Mow! Mhis mouch mells mike mat miss! Meuw!

"What was that Uncle Jeff?"

"Oh nothing" he said walking away from the bound and gagged teenager and to another corner of his basement. Laura, now bound with rope, tried to free her hands to no avail. She worked the tight gag around her mouth, trying to say anything to attract attention.

"MMMMON!!!....MEFFF MMMRRKKING MMITH MMRIKK!!!"

Ron had an uneasy feeling as he felt something wasn't right. Just then the connection cut off.

"Uncle Jeff?...Hello?"

"What did he say?"

"I'm not sure. Something's not right, but not sure what. But his phone is going to voice mail now."

Just then the Professor came around.

"Man, what a trip....got anymore of that stuff daddy?"

"Professor Jennings, remember me?"

"Oh hey little mama....Valerie right?"

"Yes! He's okay Ron" she said help lifting him to his feet.

"Do you know who did this to you?"

"Nice threads man...groovy shirt" he said to Ron.

"Professor, was Erik Peterson here?" Val shot back, trying to get his full attention.

"Can you dig it man!" Jennings said as he looked at both Erik and Ron.

"Val you weren't kidding about the sixties references."

"This might change my whole outlook about this case."

"We need to get him to the hospital" Ron added "He needs attention"

"I can dig it....drugs man!"

"Oh good lord." Val replied as she helped Ron get the professor moving toward the door. Suddenly a big man blocked their path.

"Going somewhere?"

Two more goons emerged from the back as they were suddenly surrounded.

"What the hell is going on here?" Ron asked trying to hold the professor up. "Valerie?"

"Well hello little lady!" one of the thugs said as he grabbed her by the hair.

"Hey!" Ron shouted, but got a gut shot from the first thug. The blow sent Ron to the floor as the Professor went with him, seemingly knocked out again. Val, meanwhile gave hair puller a crotch shot with her knee, sending him to the floor in pain as well.

"Get away from him!" she shouted as the biggest of the three grabbed her from behind and held her in a bear hug. "Ron!"

Just then a familiar voice filled the air. Erik!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Sorry about this Laura" Jeff said as he looked at Laura, lying on an old couch in his basement. "But I had no choice"

"Mmuu mmadd ma mmoice!" she shouted behind the cleave gag in her mouth. Jeff then looked at her and made his way upstairs. Laura struggled with her bonds, finding them very tight. She then looked around for a possible way out....

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"Get him up!" Erik ordered as thug 1 and thug 2 grabbed Ron and held his arms in a vise like grip. Valerie was still held tightly by big thug. Erik then hit Ron with a gut shot.

"Stop it!" Val yelled "You son of a b****!"

Erik then gave Ron a shot across the face, blood starting to trickle from his mouth. More body shots followed as Ron's shirt was ripped in two. Valerie had tears in her eyes as she pleaded with Erik to stop pummeling her editor. Erik kept ignoring her as he gave one more shot to Ron's face. Ron wheezed for a second and then passed out. The thugs let Ron drop to the floor. Val was helpless as tears rolled down her cheeks. She was unable to do anything about it.

"What do you want us to do boss?"

"He needs help! Don't you see that?" Val yelled, knowing it probably fell on deaf ears.

"You're in no position to be making orders Miss Chang" Erik said grabbing her hair roughly. "We're going to give boyfriend here a break, maybe he can find where we're taking Miss Chang and Professor Jennings.....tie him up and gag him."

"Prison is too good for you Erik!" Val shouted defiantly. Erik then suddenly thrust a cloth into Val's face and nose. It had a foul odor to it. Chloroform! Val tried to fight it, but found herself helpless.

"Sweet dreams Valerie Chang" she heard Erik say before her eyes rolled up in the back of her head....then nothing but darkness.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Cassie Warren had been trying to reach her boyfriend for the past hour. She was frustrated by the whole Laura situation and had to talk to him. She then grabbed her purse and took out her phone.

"I know you told me I shouldn't go to your apartment, but I need to see you...Hope your there...love you"

With that message, Cassie grabbed her handbag and then shook her head as she got into her damaged car, taking off for Erik's apartment.



TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#9 [url]

Jan 22 10 11:26 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 10)



As the fog of unconsciousness cleared, the first thing Valerie Chang noticed was that she was tied up. Or more accurately, tied down.

Still woozy, the sickly sweet taste of chloroform in her mouth (it came to her that Erik had used the same handkerchief he had used to knock her out to gag her); she looked up. An ugly ceiling of corrugated siding dotted with harsh florescent lights greeted her. Turning her head from side to side, she saw auto body frames, striped down to their steel and aluminum skeletons. Engine blocks, chassis, and exhaust systems hung in midair by chains.

“This must be a chop shop!” the college reporter realized.

Lifting her head, she saw that she was tied down to one side of an H-shaped car lift, the whole thing raised halfway on its hydraulic pillar. Her arms had been drawn out so that her hands could be tied together underneath the flat metal slab. Ropes crisscrossed her body, keeping her lashed down with her legs and feet tied together and similarly lashed.

Before she had time to examine her situation further, a door at the far end of the garage opened. Craning her head as far as she could, Val could see five or six heavyset men shamble in, led by a familiar, dark-haired sleaze-hole.

“Erik!” the captive co-ed mentally sneered. And following in his footsteps like a downtrodden puppy was none other than Professor Jennings!

While his gang scattered to various areas of the work floor, donning welding masks and work gloves, lighting torches and gripping wrenches as they went about their work of automotive disassembly, Erik headed straight for Valerie.

“Well, well, well, looks like Sleeping Beauty is awake,” he smirked. “Hope your rest was comfortable, Miss Chang.”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Ronald Henry awoke with a groan. He realized that he was thoroughly trussed up and gagged.

“Now I know how Valerie feels,” he thought. “Val!” As the thought of her popped in his head, concern over his own predicament faded into inconsequence. Suddenly, recent events flooded back in, threatening to overwhelm him. Prof Jennings. Erik. Beating him up. Kidnapping Val.

Whatever panic still remained melted under the white-hot focus of his resolve. Val was in danger, that’s all that mattered. He had to get loose and save her.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Erik reached out and pinched Val's cheek, smiling malevolently, while Jennings looked on forlornly.

Val twisted her head out of the slimeball’s grasp, eliciting a cruel, snickering chuckle from the dirt bag.

“Feisty, aren’t we?” he mocked. “It’s true what they say about you Asian chicks… Just full of fire.”

Val narrowed her eyes. If looks could kill, Erik would be six feet deep. The college reporter only wished she weren’t gagged so she could express what her eyes could only hint at. Her sleazy captor seemed to read her mind.

“Oh, I’m dying to hear what’s on your mind, Chickey Chang.” He snaked his hands behind Val’s head and untied her gag.

“You scumbag!” Val shouted, spitting out the wad of cloth in her mouth. “What have you done to Ron?”

Erik let out a bellow of laughter. “She wants to know what I did to her little p*ssy boyfriend!” he jeered to Jennings, giving the prof a harsh slap on the back. Seeing the concern underlying the anger on the girl’s face, Erik stared at her, refusing to answer, cruelly teasing her.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HIM?!!”

Val’s scream brought the garage to a halt. The sound of work ceased as Erik’s men stopped and turned to look at Val.

Erik fumed, embarrassed that her spectacle had wrested the attention of his men. “BACK TO WORK!!!” he boomed.

As they nervously refocused on their tasks, Erik reared back and slapped Val.

“Don’t you EVER raise your voice to me like that again! He got in close to Val, so close she could feel the hot stink of his breath. “**** your boyfriend! I left him bound and gagged and hurting from the beating I gave him! You know, Val, I quite enjoyed that. Feeling my fists slamming into him like that. Although he didn’t give me much of a workout. He folded like a little sissy girl. You know, Val, if I wasn’t such a loving, faithful boyfriend to your friend, I would send some of my special lovin’ your way, so you would know what it feels like from a REAL man.”

“Ron’s more of a REAL man than you’ll EVER be!” Val spat out softly. She turned her head away from him, silent tears streaming down her face. This sent Erik into another fit of laughter.

“So, I thought you were a drug dealer, not an auto thief,” Val stated, composing herself.

“Oh, I’m both,” Erik boasted, chomping at the bit to show how clever he was. “See,” Erik declared, pointing his finger and encouraging the college reporter to take a closer look at the work going on.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Charged up with renewed determination, Ron forced himself to calm down and analyze his situation and surroundings. By now, his eyes had adjusted to the gloom. The young man could dimly make out that he was in a small closet, lying on the floor. Cans of paint, canvases, and other artsy clutter hemmed him in. Craning his head, he looked up. He saw shelves lining the walls. And lining the shelves were rows of misshapen pottery. Oddly shaped vases, bowls, and sculptures. “Jennings must have been high as a kite when he made those,” Ron thought sarcastically. “Probably thinks they’re ‘groovy’. Too bad.”

The young man rolled; ignoring the bolts of pain it brought his body, until he hit one of the sidewalls. The fire-hardened clay forms on the shelves above jumped in place. Ron rolled back and hit the wall, harder this time. The various pottery pieces jumped higher, teetered, and then fell off.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Val gazed out at the work floor. Erik’s men were stripping an Escalade. They already had the tires off and were in the process of gutting the interior; tossing out seats and cutting loose the carpeting. Chop shop. Just as Val first thought.

But then she noticed something that caught her attention. One of Erik’s men, “Hair-Puller” from earlier, had just unbolted a metal floor plate from the car’s interior with a power wrench. Nothing unusual there…except he then placed a clear plastic bag full of white powder inside before re bolting the plate. Val could see another man stash a similar bag under the right front wheel well.

“You’re using the cars to transport your drugs!” Val suddenly realized.

“About time you figured it out,” Erik crowed triumphantly. “You really didn’t think that I…” Just then, his cell phone chimed. He snatched it out of his jacket pocket, annoyed at the interruption. Seeing the number listed, he smiled and let it ring, returning it to his coat. “Awww, it’s Cassie,” he cooed, grinning at Val.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” she asked.

“Oh, I bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” he sneered. “Tell her how you’re ‘all tied up’ again. Sorry, not this time. And just between you and me, Chickey Chang, I can’t stand her yapping. Oh, Erik, I miss you. When are you coming back? I can’t stand being apart from you. I lovvvve you, yap, yap, yap, like a poodle.”

“You son of a b…..!” Val hissed, madder than ever at this scumbag’s callous mocking of her best friend’s heartfelt affection.

“Don’t be that way,” he toyed with her. “Believe me, I more than satisfy her with ol’ Erik’s special brand of lovin’. Is it my fault that she can’t get enough?”

“She’s so much better than you,” Val shot back. “When she finally finds that special someone who’s worthy of her, she’s going to look back at you and see you for what you really are—junk food, empty calories.”

“Shut up,” Erik sneered.

“And about that ‘special brand of lovin’ Erik, I didn’t know that it came in extra, extra small.”

Erik’s face twisted in fury as he struck her again.

However, the blow couldn’t erase the wicked smile from Val’s face.

Disgusted, Erik savagely stuffed the cloth gag back in Val’s mouth and yanked it behind her head.

Once he had it tightly knotted, he stood back, Val’s glare of hatred lightening his mood.

“Confucius say ‘Smart mouthed Chinese girl need to be on rag’” he taunted her in a singsong voice.

At that moment, Erik’s cell rang for a second time. He pulled it out, checked the number and answered it this time.

“Yeah?” he barked. Val listened, perplexed, unable to make any sense from just Erik’s side of the conversation.

“What?! How could you be so stupid?! What? Oh. Good. Fifteen minutes? Okay.”

Erik ended the call and re-pocketed his phone. “Looks like I have some time. Now that I can count on you being a quiet audience, Val, I might as well tell you the whole enchilada.”

Smugly, Erik began.

“As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, you didn’t think that I would be satisfied selling drugs just to rinky dink Central College, did you? No siree! I’m taking my operation nationwide! Me and my crew here steal the cars from the police impound. Never ending supply. We take them apart; fill’em full of drugs, put them back together and ship them out. Not only do we get paid for the drugs but also we get paid for the cars on top of that! Nice, right?”

He looked at Val for confirmation but she just glared at him. He continued.

“Pretty sweet setup. Airtight. Except for one small detail.” He noticed Val perk up. “Yeah, the sunflower imprint on the baggies. I know, stupid. Chalk it up to ego. I guess I just wanted to put my stamp on it. And what’s the matter with that? I mean, without me, Professor Spaced-Out here would still be a flat-broke college nobody getting high in his rent-controlled rat box apartment. Isn’t that right, Jennings?”

The professor meekly nodded his head. All this time he had stood off to Erik’s side, lost in his own world.

“You see, Val, I was Prof Laugh-In’s favorite student, his pride and joy. One day, he invites me to his little rat box and he’s so out of it, he asks if I want to ‘expand my horizons.’ Ha! Can you believe that? ‘Expand my horizons?’ So I says to him, ‘Listen you old fart, you’re working for me now or I’m turning your hippie-head in and you can practice what you preach on the street! Isn’t that right, Professor Pie-in-the-Sky?”

This time, Jennings wasn’t quick enough to agree for Erik’s liking and received a shove in his back that sent him tumbling to the floor. Val winced as she saw the old man collapse.

“Get up!” Erik snapped. With much effort, Jennings managed to get to his feet again. “Hey Prof! I was just playin’ with ya! No hard feelings, huh?” Erik gave Jennings another slap, just hard enough to send him stumbling a step or two.

“It seems Professor Purple Haze is quite the chemist. He makes the drugs and I distribute them. It works out good for him and great for me. Speaking of which, this last shipment has tapped us out.”

Annoyed that his elderly manufacturer didn’t get the hint, Erik gave him another shove. “Get going!” he ordered. Professor Jennings shuffled off.

Val tracked him as he slowly made his way to a dark corner of the garage, partitioned off by a black plastic curtain. Jennings parted the curtain and Val got a glimpse of beakers, barrels, and burners before the curtain fell back into place. “Jennings actually makes the drugs here!” she thought in amazement. “Erik’s entire operation is under this one roof!”

But something in Erik’s monologue stuck in the college reporter’s head. “Police Impound? That means he has to have someone on the inside.”

As if on cue, the garage door opened.

“Ah, Miss Chang!” Erik gloated. “I’d like you to meet my silent partner… Detective Jeff Henry.”

Beneath her gag, Val gasped, as Uncle Jeff walked into view....



TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#10 [url]

Jan 22 10 11:27 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 11)



“What’s the matter with you, Uncle Jeff?!” Ron wondered, annoyed at his police relation’s failure to answer his cell phone.
Ron had recovered his own phone off the floor of Jennings’ apartment. Erik’s thugs had been sloppy. Besides the phone, Ron had found his torn shirt on the floor as well. Although ruined to wear, the shirt provided a strip with which to bandage his bleeding hand. The college editor had cut it slightly while sawing at his bonds with the sharp piece of pottery that had fell over. Quickly rummaging through the professor’s dresser drawer for a shirt, Ron was on his way out when something on the floor caught his eye. “Hey, what’s this?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Uncle Jeff? NO! Val refused to believe it! But the proof was staring her in the face. Or rather, doing everything in his power not to.

Detective Jeff Henry was so ashamed. How had it come to this? But of course he knew how. Gambling Debts. A grand soon became two grand. Two grand doubled to four. Four multiplied into twelve. Twelve spiraled into twenty. And soon he was in for fifty thousand dollars.

Jeff, too ashamed to go to his family for help, too ashamed to go to Ron, despaired, thought about killing himself, until Erik appeared like a godsend. Erik, who promised to wipe Jeff’s debts clean if the police detective could help him out with small favors, like ‘appropriating’ vehicles from the police impound.

“Hey! Officer! How about them cars?”

Jeff returned to the moment. “Yeah, I Jpeg’d them to you!” he answered Erik’s question before returning to this thoughts once more.

Picking out vehicles for Erik’s gang to steal was one thing. But all of a sudden, things were spiraling out of control. Kidnapping that kid. Allowing Erik’s men to rough up his nephew and now, Valerie was being held hostage. Erik promised him that no one would get hurt but Jeff knew that was bull. As much as he knew he couldn’t bare to look at the girl bound and gagged before him, the girl who his nephew loved with all his heart.

“He Jpeg’d them? When had Officer Friendly gone all computer nerdy?” The thought crossed Erik’s mind as he reached into his coat for his cell.

Now Jeff was all quiet once more. Erik knew what that was all about. Jeff was having second doubts. Once a cop, always a cop. Erik knew when this was all over; he would have to put a bullet in the brain of that stupid badge.

As he lit up his phone to check for the cop’s email, he smirked as he saw a voice mail from Cassie. Figuring it was good for a laugh, Erik opened it and listened.

“SON OF A B….!” he roared a minute later and ran for his car.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

When Uncle Jeff had failed to answer his cell phone, Ron had driven straight to his Uncle’s house. (Luckily, Ron’s car keys had remained in his pants pocket all this time.) At the front door, after quickly knocking, he flipped through the key ring holding his car keys until he held another key.

“Uncle Jeff! Uncle Jeff!” Ron shouted after he had let himself in. Ron quickly searched the house, coming to the sad realization that no one was home. He was in the kitchen about to head out when he heard something.

He stood stock still, listening. Yes! It sounded like…moaning? Ron followed the faint noises until it led him to a door between the kitchen and the dining room. Where did this door lead to? Then it hit Ron. The basement!

“Uncle Jeff! Are you down here?” In reply, he heard more moaning. “Uncle Jeff, I’m coming!” Ron yelled, racing down the basement stairs. When he reached the bottom, he zeroed in on the moaning—it was coming from the couch! As he approached, his headlong dash stopped cold when instead of his uncle, he saw…

“Laura?”

The teenager was staring up at Ron, moaning frantically from where she lay, lashed down to the couch by what appeared to be a million ropes!

“Holy crackers!” Ron exclaimed. He continued to stare in shock.

Whoever had tied her up had gone completely overboard. The girl’s chest was layered in rope. Ron couldn’t see her arms or hands so he imagined they were tied behind her. Ropes snaked around her stockinged legs, lashing them together from thigh to ankle. But the worse were the myriad cords on top of all that, binding her to the couch like a female Gulliver.

Wait? Was that Uncle Jeff’s tie gagging her?!

Snapping out of his daze, Ron hurriedly knelt down beside the fettered high school senior and pulled the gag out of her mouth.

“Who did this…” was all he got out before…

“It was Jeff!” Laura blurted out. “He’s working with Erik! He drugged me, tied me up, and brought me here!”

“No, no…” Ron said in disbelief.

“Get me loose!” she implored.

Being able to focus on Laura’s predicament instead of his uncle’s involvement spurred Ron to action. He immediately went to work on the thick knots securing the ropes around the girl.

“My god!” Ron exclaimed, unable to make any headway on the rat’s nest of tangled cords. “What the hell happened?”

“At first, your uncle, I mean Jeff, simply tied my hands and feet. As soon as he was gone, I went to work on freeing myself. I’m good at that, by the way. Only I hadn’t realized he had left his car keys on the table down here. When he got back, he saw that I had loosened the ropes around my hands. He grabbed me before I could get completely free and then made sure I wouldn’t again.”

“Well, there’s no way I’m untying these ropes,” Ron admitted in frustration. “I’m going to have to cut you free. Wait here a sec.”

Laura raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry.” Chagrined, Ron raced upstairs and returned moments later, clutching a serrated carving knife.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

“So, it was really Uncle Jeff?” Ron asked, a little while later.

“I’m sorry but yes,” Laura replied, seeing the anguish in his eyes. Freeing herself of the last few ropes, she sat up and rubbed the circulation back in her limbs.

“Well that explains a lot,” Ron admitted. “I want you to go back to campus and wait for me. You’ll be safe there.”

“What about you?” Laura demanded.

“Erik has Valerie. I’m going to get her back.”

“Alone? What about the police?”

Ron made a pained expression. “If Uncle Jeff is working for Erik, I don’t know how compromised the department is. I can’t trust any of them.”

“I’m coming with you then,” Laura declared.

“Laura…”

“Laura nothing! What, Ron? Are you going to walk in there like Batman and take out Erik and his entire gang single-handed? You’ll only end up dead and then who’s gonna save Val? Val’s my friend too you know! Trust me, Ron, I can help you.”

Ron took one look at the steely resolve on the teen’s face and caved in. “What are you sitting around for?” he barked… but with a grin. “I can’t be waiting on you all day!”

“Yes sir! Sorry Sir!” Laura jumped to her feet. “So, any idea where we’re going?”

In reply, he showed her what had caught his attention as he was leaving Jennings’s apartment—a matchbook emblazoned with the name of…

“Sal’s Tavern,” Laura read. “Sounds like a classy establishment.”

“Yeah,” Ron agreed mockingly. “One of Erik’s goons must have dropped it. Figure it’s the best lead we’ve got.”

“You’re the boss!” Laura replied. “You lead! I follow!” As she trailed behind him, she asked, “So, what happened to your hand? And why are you wearing that awful tie-dyed shirt?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Cassie Warren waited patiently in Erik’s apartment. It had been almost an hour since she had called her boyfriend, leaving him a voice mail that she was worried about him and was headed over to his place.

Not seeing Erik’s car in the parking lot and knocking repeatedly on the door, she had finally decided to let herself in using the key she had seen him hide in the potted hydrangea along the front pathway.

Finding the apartment deserted, she decided to stay, hoping he would return soon. At first, she contented herself by sitting on the sofa in the living room and flipping through one of Erik’s art magazines. This proved diversion enough for about 45 minutes.

But now, the magazine lay discarded on the coffee table. Cassie debated calling Erik again for the umteempth time. She weighed her concern for her boyfriend against the irritation she knew he would feel at being pestered by her. After intense deliberation, the scales tipped in favor of not irritating him.

So, Cassie waited, her hands folded primly in her lap. She felt hesitant about exploring the apartment because Erik had made it clear that she would disturb the careful order he had created inside. Cassie remembered him driving the point home one time, yelling at her for picking up one of his sculptures and placing it back on the mantel at the wrong angle. After her dressing down, the college co-ed made it a point to never touch any of Erik’s belongings when he wasn’t at home.

But that didn’t mean she couldn’t look. Cassie was bored out of her head and one of Erik’s painting framed above the fireplace caught her eye. She got up and walked over. The painting depicted a field of sunflowers underneath a cloudless blue sky.

“Hmmm,” Cassie thought. “There’s something familiar about those sunflowers. If I could just put my finger on it.”

Cassie went in for a closer look, hoping that would jar her recollection. As she tilted forward, her hand brushed the row of sculptures resting on the mantelpiece. One of the ceramics, a fertility goddess, toppled over. Cass made a lunge for it but it fell through her fingers.

Cassie gasped.

The sculpture continued its free fall, on a certain course to destruction when…it landed in the heavily plush carpet in front of the fireplace, safe and undamaged.

“Thank goodness,” Cass whispered, kneeling down to pick it up. Crouched, she grasped it with care when something inside the fireplace caught her eye. She returned the sculpture to its proper place, being extra mindful of positioning it at the correct orientation.

Curious about what she saw earlier, she knelt down so she could peer into the fireplace. It wasn’t an actual fireplace but one of those faux, electric ones. What had caught her attention was a black lump stashed directly behind the plastic logs, the black peeking through the dull woodsy color.

Reaching in, she pulled it out.

“It’s cloth!” Cass said excitedly upon first grasping it. The contents within the bundled cloth were lumpy. Carefully, she unwrapped it.

“Oh my god!” Cassie exclaimed when she saw what tumbled out.

A thick stack of hundred dollar bills, a powder-filled bag, and a gun.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Cass heard the deadbolt in the front door turn!

The college coed hastily wrapped the bundle back up and had just managed to stuff it back in the fireplace when the door opened and Erik walked in.

“What a pleasant surprise,” Erik smiled, gazing down at Cassie as she got to her feet. “What were you doing in front of the fireplace, sugar-pie?”

“Eh…I was cold,” Cass stammered.

“Silly, silly girl,” he chided. “That fireplace isn’t real.”

“Of course!” she blurted out through forced laughter. “Silly me! Well, I just wanted to make sure you were alright which you are or you wouldn’t be standing in front of me, now would you, haha! Well, since you’re here now, I guess I’ll just be going then, huh?”

“But I just got home,” Erik pouted.

“Sorry,” Cass apologized, a chipper grin on her face. “Places to be, things to do, you know. LOTS of things to do!” She steamrolled her way past Erik.

“Not a problem! I understand completely,” Erik voiced behind her. Cassie had just gripped the doorknob when Erik spoke out. “Oh, sugar-pie, you forgot this.”

Cass forced the smile back on her face as she turned around. “What is…”

She saw the fist a split second before she felt it, the right cross connecting and knocking her out instantly.

“Oh, sugar-pie,” Erik mockingly drawled as he hoisted the unconscious Cassie over his shoulder and headed for his car, carefully trying not to be noticed….


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

avatar

Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#11 [url]

Apr 13 10 10:21 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 12)



Ron Henry drove his car towards Sal’s tavern, which was located clear across town from where they were. Laura Silverman sat in the passenger seat, still looking at Ron’s awful tie-dyed shirt and trying not to laugh.

“What is so funny Silverman? Huh?”

“You still haven’t told me why you’re wearing that God awful shirt….I mean did you get mugged at a Grateful Dead concert or something?”

“I forgot to tell you what happened to me,” He responded, almost running a red light. “Me and Valerie were ambushed at the professor’s house….I was kind of roughed up.”

“Kind of?” the teen snapped, “You look like hell Ron.”

“Thanks kid. Listen, my shirt got ripped and I woke up bound and gagged in a closet…. I cut my hand on one of the professor’s prized potteries trying to cut myself loose. Now do you understand?”

Laura couldn’t help but smirk but felt sorry about it and tried to hide it.

“Welcome to my world,” she remarked. Ron just shook his head, then spoke again.

“Look, the only thing we should be concentrating on right now is Valerie and getting her back safe and sound.”

With that, the duo headed for the tavern.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Valerie was still lashed tightly to the hydraulic lift. She looked around and saw Erik's henchmen still working on the vehicles, but no sign of Erik.
"The scumbag's probably going to meet Cass....dammit, I've got to get out of here..." she thought, as she worked harder on her bonds.

The reporter then noticed Jeff sitting down near her. His head was down. Val tried to get him to notice her.

"Grrrrmmpphh!" she moaned behind the gag to get his attention. Jeff then raised his head up and stood up. He looked around and slowly walked over towards her.

"I'm so sorry Valerie.....I don't know what I was thinking."

Val just stared at him, almost staring a hole through him. Jeff looked around and took an object out of his pocket. Quickly he crouched down and put the object in Val's bound hands. She felt it....it was a small nail file!

"Hope to God I don't drop it" the Co-ed thought as dropping it would not only ruin her chance to escape, but would probably also alert the men to what she was up to.

"Hey, get away from the chick!" one of the men called out to Jeff. "Erik wants you to sit over there so we can watch you."

Jeff nodded as he obeyed. Valerie was convinced that Jeff was under duress to do what he was doing and was trying to make amends.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Ron and Laura pulled into a parking spot adjacent to Sal's tavern. The duo then jumped out and went into the establishment. There were only a few people there drinking as a weasily looking man greeted them from behind the bar. He had a shirt on with name stitching on it and the name SAL spelled out.

"What can I get ya?" he said, and then did a double take as he looked at Laura. "Hey how old are you Missy?"

"My name is Laura, not Missy and I'm seventeen."

"Don't worry about it." Ron shot back, she's my niece...and she's getting Pepsi or something, I'll have what's on tap."

"That’s right! He’s my ‘uncle’! That’s what he makes me call him when he takes me out to bars and strip clubs! Isn’t that right, ‘Uncle’ Ron? Oh, I’d like an iced tea, please.”

"You’re one weird chick, ya know that?" Sal replied as he went to get their drinks.

As soon as he walked away, Laura turned to Ron and said in a too loud voice, “Can I sit in your lap, Uncle Ron? I’ve been a good girl!”

"Will you stop,” Ron muttered under his breath, his face beet red.

"Hee hee,” Laura snickered as Sal returned with their drinks.

“One MGD brewski for ‘Uncle’ here and one Lipton sweet for Lolita. So if ya won’t be needing anything else, I’ll be in back with Miss November here. He picked up a magazine and headed for the restroom.”

Laura raised her eyebrows and turned to Ron, who was staring past Laura and out the window. Laura moved her hand in front of his face, but he was clearly distracted.

"Isn't that Erik's Mercedes?"

Laura turned and looked as well. She then nodded.

"Jackpot. That must be a garage or something."

Sal had just stepped out of the bathroom (Boy, that was fast! Laura thought) when he overheard their conversation and butted in.

"You guys talking about Erik Petersen?"

"What do you know about him?" Ron quizzed

"Why are you a cop or something?"

Ron then grabbed Sal by his shirt lapel and stared a hole right through him.

"He kidnapped my girlfriend!"

"Girlfriend?" Laura mumbled, "What did I miss?"

"Look buddy, all I know is that Erik is a well known artist and a good customer here.... I have no idea what you’re talking about.... kidnapping?"

"The HELL you don't!" Ron sneered, showing Sal his matchbook he found.

"Petersen and some of his goons beat me up and kidnapped Valerie.... one of them dropped this. Sal just shrugged his shoulders. Laura then elbowed him to draw his attention towards the street. Erik's car was moving into a garage!

"We need to find a way in there...come on!"

Ron and Laura made a break for the door.

"And don't come back!" Sal yelled as they exited.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Valerie was busy trying to pry open the tight knots with the nail file. She then heard a car pull into the spacious garage. Erik! He was back. The drug dealer then parked and got something out of the trunk. It was a large duffel bag and by the looks of things, a person was inside it. CASSIE! Val redoubled her efforts in trying to get free as Erik brought the bag over towards her.

"Well well Chickey Chang, I brought you some company...."

Val closed her eyes and then reopened them to the sight of her roommate, unconscious!

"You son of a b****!!!!" Val screamed at him.

"Yeah, I was getting tired of her love puppy act too.... besides, I found her going through my things."

Erik then extracted the girl from the duffel bag and took rope from his pocket.

"I think it's about time for the final act, don't you say?"

Erik then looked over at Jeff and then whispered something to one of his thugs.

"Sorry officer, but I think I can do business better with you in the back room."

With that, the thug took Jeff out of the garage area.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Meanwhile, Ron and Laura made their way carefully towards the back of the spacious garage. The duo looked for any kind of way in, but only saw locked doors. The teen then spotted a ladder that seemingly led to the roof.

“There!” she half-shouted, nudging Ron. “Come on!”

Laura led the way as they made their way up to the roof area. Laura then pointed to something. It was a large window-like structure. Crouching down, Laura and Ron looked below. They saw men working, they saw a man who looked like Erik and then to their horror, they saw Valerie tied to one of the hydraulic lifts.

"We need to get in there Laura!" Ron shouted impatiently. “Lord knows what that bastard's going to do to her!"

"We need a diversion then." she said looking for another way in. "Hey! Maybe we can break this glass with something and draw their attention."

"Then what? Take them all out?"

"You go back down and see if you can find a back door, I'll stay here and draw them up here."

"No, it's too dangerous Laura."

"Ron. I know what I'm doing.....trust me."

"Okay then, but be careful."

Laura winked at him as he left to go back down the ladder.

The teen looked for something to break the window. She looked around and spotted something in the distance. It was a rock! Not a big one, but she was convinced it could do the job.

"Okay," she said out loud. "I hope I can still throw the old fastball..."

Taking a small running start, Laura heaved the rock towards the large window. She beamed with joy as the glass shattered into several pieces.

"Now to wait for the goons to arrive." she said as she found a hiding place.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"What the hell was that!" Erik screamed as he turned his attention from Cassie to the now damaged glass up above. The pieces had landed near him and Valerie.

"Check the roof! We have company!"

"We sure do boss," one of Erik's thugs said as him and another goon brought in an unconscious Ron from outside.

"Found him snoopin' around the back door."

"Well, if it isn't Mr. wimpy editor, and that teen chick must be on the roof...get her now!"

"Put him under the lift, tie his hands to the pole!" Erik added, looking over and seeing Cassie was stirring awake.

Cassie Warren opened her eyes and she saw some kind of funny looking light above her, some kind of fluorescent bulb, like the kind that was used in tanning beds. Her head still hurt from Erik knocking her out as she tried to shake the cobwebs away. She tried to grab her head, but found her hands tightly tied over her to some kind of metal post. She felt pain at her ankles as well. She was also tightly cleave-gagged with a blue bandanna as she was lying down in the bed like apparatus. She lifted her head as much as she could and could see she was in some sort of garage. She then noticed one of the hydraulic lifts near there had somebody tied to it…. Valerie! Just then, Erik smugly showed himself.

“Ah, I see sleeping beauty is awake!” he sneered, looking at his “girlfriend” with a sinister stare.

“I’m sorry I had to do this Baby, but it has to be done.”

“Mmmmpphhh!!!! Mmmpphhh!!!” Cassie screamed at him behind the gag. She teared up as she realized what a fool she had been. She had nearly lost all her friends because she kept defending his actions. But the terrible reality was staring at her in the face as the nightmare of Erik killing her and Valerie hit her like a ton of bricks.

“I think you’ll have time to listen to what I’ve got planned for you, Chickey Chang, dumb-ass boyfriend and hopefully soon that bratty teen."

Meanwhile Valerie was making progress on her bonds with the nail file. She could turn her head enough to see Ron lying helpless beneath her, tied to the hydraulic pole. The only question was, could she make it in time before Erik killed her and everyone else?


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

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Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#12 [url]

Apr 13 10 10:24 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CH 13)



Laura Silverman waited for the inevitable goons to show up as she crouched behind an air duct. Sure enough about four or five goons made their appearance.

"Split up!" Head Goon shouted. "Missy's got to be up here!"

Laura saw the four men go their separate ways. She then jumped out and onto the back of Head Goon, trying to claw his eyes out!
"Heeeeeyyyyy!!!!" he screamed, drawing the attention of his buddies who quickly came to his aid. "Get herrrrr...owwwwww!!!!!"

Laura then gave him a quick kick in the butt (Literally!) and whirled and kicked goon #2, with the other leg she kicked goon #3. Goon #4 however came up behind her and grabbed her in a bear hug.

"Not so tough now, huh girlie?" he sneered, before getting a elbow in the ribs HARD.

"I HATE being called that slime!" Laura said to him, but her attention was diverted enough, because the next thing she saw was a sudden fist then....darkness.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Erik’s goons secured the unconscious Laura to the hydraulic pole under Valerie. She was lying on the ground with her hands tied over her head to the pole. Ron was tied the same way on the opposite side. They were both lying directly underneath the lift that Valerie was tied to. Erik then went over to the apparatus that Cassie was tied to.

"Having fun dear Cassie?" Erik smugly said to her as he looked at the co-ed in her vulnerable position.

"Mmmmpphhh!!!" Cassie screamed again at him, wondering why she was tied to this contraption.

"I think it's time to tell you exactly what I have in store for the four of you."

He then stepped over and looked at Valerie, tied down on the hydraulic lift.

"I call it death trap times four you might say. I've rigged this lift to where it works with the machine that your dear Cassie’s in."

Val and Cassie both looked at him with gagged faces, wondering exactly what he meant.

"Well, seeing that the cat has both your tongues...let me fill you in."

"Cass, have you seen the movie "Final Destination 3?"

"Mmmmpphhh!!!!" Cassie squealed, shaking her head wildly.

Cassie actually had and remembered the horrifying "Tanning bed scene" where two girls were trapped in their beds, couldn't escape and burned to death. She twisted her hands, but they held firmly.

"This is sort of like that, but a little different....let me explain."

Erik went over to the control panel.

"This is not really a tanning bed, one that you’re used to....but something we keep the drugs under for awhile with UV light, but it will do in a pinch. Now it does have a temperature control on it and when I turn this on, it will go up a degree every minute. Currently it's set for a comfortable seventy degrees....but when it hits one hundred, it short circuits, causing a fire that will consume you and your friends."

"Mmmmmpphhh!!! Grrrmmmphhh!!!!!"

"But that's not all" he continued "I told you these two contraptions work together. As the temperature rises, the lift that Valerie's tied to lowers, all the way down until it eventually crushes twerp and teen here. But there's more....."

Erik then walked over and picked up a can of gasoline. He then threw it down until it went all over the place near both girls. He did this with two more cans until most of the garage was soaked with the flammable liquid.

"You see, when you burn up...it will spread rapidly, consuming Miss Chang here and the other two, who will be already crushed by the weight of the lift. It will also consume most of the evidence here, if not all of it. I probably won't win an award for best death trap at a villain's banquet, but it will do the job more than adequate for me."

Erik stepped back and then motioned for one of his goons. The thug then brought in Jeff who noticed what was going on. He then looked at Erik with a concern look on his face.

"You've gone too far Erik....this is not what I was brought on board for..."

"You're right."

Erik then suddenly drew a gun and shot Jeff point blank! The officer slumped to the ground, bleeding from his wound.

Cassie and Valerie both screamed into their gags as Erik had suddenly hit a new low. Erik then went over and started the temperature gauge on the table. Cassie felt it come on as the purple ultra-violet light took over. Suddenly the hydraulic lift lowered slowly toward the ground.

"It's been a pleasure, but I can't stay....I hope you understand." Erik sneered as he left suddenly. Cassie squirmed to free herself as the temperature went up ever so slowly....77...78....

Valerie surveyed the situation as she worked on her hands with the nail file. She knew if she dropped it, it probably meant death for all of them....


TBC

"You'll pay for this!"

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Valerie

Intrepid Junior Detective

Posts: 194 Author

#13 [url]

Aug 15 10 7:55 PM

DEADLY RELATIONS (CONCLUSION)


Working quickly, but very carefully, Valerie worked the nail file on the knots. She could feel the lift lowering ever so slowly. One slip probably meant certain death for her and her friends. Valerie could hear Laura and Ron stir awake below her, but both of them sounded like they were pretty much out of it. The Co-ed reporter could hear Cassie thrash about in the makeshift tanning bed, which was adjacent to the lift.

81....82...83....

Valerie shifted her head and could see the top of Cassie's prison, but couldn't see the temperature gauge....yet. Val then suddenly heard something else, a groan from the other side of the lift. It was Jeff.....he was concious! Valerie could tell he had been shot in the side of the chest and was bleeding badly. He managed to make it to his feet and while holding his side, staggered over towards the lift controls.

"Mmmmmpphhh!!!!" Val screamed to him to shut it off quickly. Val quickened her efforts on the knots, but the file slipped out of her hands! With horror, she could hear it hit the concrete floor below her. Val struggled mightily and with the effort she had done with the file was enough to free her hands!

Minute by deadly minute, the temperature climbed.....88...89...90!

Cassie thrashed as she saw the horrifying sight of the temperature gauge go up. She was starting to sweat of the effects of the lights, but that was the least of her problems. Suddenly, she saw Jeff stagger towards her.....and collapse!

"Mmmmpphhh!!!" she screamed into her gag, still thrashing like a fish out of water.

92...93

Val hadn't realized that Jeff had collapsed as she worked to free the ropes holding her to the lift. She managed to untie the knots and then pull the gag from her mouth. Val quickly called out for Jeff.

"Jeff! Where are you?" she screamed as she reached to free her legs. A few hectic moments later, Val managed to free all the bindings holding her legs to the apparatus. Looking down, Val realized that the lift was almost down. Jumping down off of it, Val saw the awful sight of Jeff lying bleeding near Cassie. Val looked up and locked eyes with her roommate. Cassie had an almost unspeakable look about her as the temperature gauge showed 98 degrees!

"Cass hold on!" she yelled as Val fumbled for the controls for the lift which was almost on top of Laura and Ron! Finally, the lift stopped. Valerie then switched it on and it started rising back up.

"I'll have you two free in a minute." she said, rather loudly as she turned her attention to Cassie.

"Oh No!" Val shouted as she noticed the contraption still on and saying 99 degrees! Val realized there was no way to get Cassie free in time, she had to shut off the thing somehow. She then noticed the rock that broke the roof glass lying there. Picking it up Val ran back to the bed.

"Close your eyes Cass!" Val screamed, as with all her might, she tossed the rock at the controls. Immediately, the contraption fizzled and sparked, but then went dark....all in the time the LED indicator had started switching to the lethal 100! Cassie bucked and squealed, but she was safe. Val let out a sigh of relief as she rushed over to her roommate and freed her gag from her mouth.

"Oh my God! Valerie!" Cassie cried out, so happy to be alive. Val quickly freed her hands from the so called death bed.

"You’re okay Cassie!" Val responded, looking back at Jeff. "But I need to get yourself together and free Ron and Laura, I've got to attend to Jeff."

Cassie sat there for a few minutes, frozen.

"Cass, please!"

As Cassie made it over to the tied up duo, a teared up Valerie attended to Jeff.

"Hang on Jeff." she said as she tried to stop the flow of blood from his wound. "Oh my God!"

Jeff was soon surrounded by his nephew Ron, Laura and Cassie.

"We need to get a doctor!" Ron shouted, knowing they didn't have a phone around.

"I'll look around for a phone." Laura announced.

"I'll help you" Cassie added, tears rolling down her cheeks "I'm so sorry."

Laura grabbed her arm.

"We can talk later, but right now the priority is Ron's uncle.

"Watch your step guys, there's gas everywhere." Val replied, turning her attention back to Jeff.

"Hang in there Uncle Jeff." Ron said, tearing up as well.

"I'm so sorry...." Jeff responded groggily "I hope you...."

"Don't talk, save your strength." Valerie ordered. "Come on you guys, find a phone...please."

At that time, Laura and Cassie looked frantically for a phone. Laura's eyes it up when she spotted one of the back offices. Running over to it, the teen picked it up.

"Oh crap....the line's dead!"

"Erik, must have cut the lines.....oh my God, this is all my fault! If Ron's uncle dies....."

Laura then slapped Cassie across the face!

"Get a grip girl! We need to help him.....blubbering is not helping right now."

The girls then started to check the other rooms.

"I know you hate me Laura." Cass shot back, brushing back her sweaty hair. "I know I had that slap coming."

"I don't hate you Cassie, I guess when your in love, you can do stupid things.......wait a second, Sal!"

"Sal? Who's Sal?"

"Come on!" Laura shouted as she grabbed Cassie's arm. Just then the back door started to open. Laura made Cass get behind her. Laura looked ready to pounce as the door opened a little wider. Suddenly through the door came the Police! And following close behind was none other than Sal, the bartender from across the street! Laura and Cassie both let out a sigh of relief at the welcome sight. Cassie told the cops about Jeff being hurt.

"Are you two all right?" Sal asked.

"Yes..." Laura stammered. "But how did...."

Sal then flashed a badge at them. Laura did a double take.

"Y..you're a cop?"

"Sorry I didn't tell you....we were on stakeout to trap Peterson. When I heard you and that guy you were with was going after him, we had to get ready and move in. Did he hurt you?"

"Just tried to kill us, that's all!" Cassie said boldly "And he got away, probably halfway to Canada by now."

"Well Miss, not really, we set up a roadblock and caught him two miles from here."

"It's all over then" Cassie smiled as Laura gave her a hug.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"I can't believe this is goodbye." Valerie said as she hugged Laura. "I just wished that this week could have been a little bit quieter."

"Don't sweat it girl, I've had more fun this week than in one month In River Hills. But I guess it got hairy a little."

"Ron said that Jeff was going to pull through, but I'm not sure what's going to be his punishment."

Just then Cassie came out of her room.

"I think getting shot should be punishment enough....he tried to save us."

Laura then gave Cassie a big hug.

"I'm going to miss you Cassie."

"I can't believe I was SO stupid!"

"Quit beating yourself up" Val replied.

"I just loved it when the cops had to pull you off of Erik, I think you could have killed him.....the way you looked at him.

"Well it's time to drive the guest to the airport."

"Hey, you guys" Cassie added "We have time to get lunch, my treat."

"Now that's an offer I like!" Laura said, giving Cass a wink.

With that, the three of them left for lunch and then the airport.


THE END

"You'll pay for this!"

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