I get a little sloppy here... please tell me if I need to change course!
His cell phone was ringing. Jason could hear it vibrating on his dresser. He forced his eyes open. Sun was streaming through the bedroom window. He rolled over to focus on the alarm clock next to him. It was blinking. The power had gone out! He jolted upright and stumbled out of the bed to his cell phone. The clock on the front of the small black phone read 6:45 am. He’d slept in. Cursing loudly he flipped open the phone. “Give me twenty minutes.” He croaked in a sleepy voice.
“You can have an hour. I slept in too.” A soft feminine voice responded. He grunted, snapping the phone shut. Lindsey Gray, his partner lived in the same apartment complex. He should have assumed she’d lost power too. On his way to the shower he glanced out the bedroom window and that’s when he realized Sam’s car was not in its usual space. He scanned the parking lot, the car was gone. Curious where she’d have gone so early in the morning, especially without waking him up first, he headed for the kitchen. There was no note on the refrigerator. He checked the counter tops and the kitchen table. She always left a note. A knot formed in the pit of his stomach. Something wasn’t right.
In the bedroom he yanked open the door to her closet. Empty. She’d even taken the hangers. He pulled the top drawer of her dresser so hard that it came completely out. He dropped the empty drawer on the floor. His stomach was aching.
After a five minute shower he was in his truck and headed to Cloverleaf stables. It was situated just a few miles from Clover hills Apartment Complex and was one of the amenities offered to tenants for a small fee. He raced into the barn. Both horses occupied their respective stalls. His horse Traveler greeted him with a friendly sniffle and snort while Sam’s horse China Doll nuzzled his hand looking for treats. The stable hands were just beginning to feed horses on the other end of the barn. He found Beth Cuddlam, the manager. Her back was to him as she picked a stall.
“I want notes posted on my stalls and in my files. Those horses do not leave this facility without my permission. Is that clear?” He must have sounded gruff because she dropped her pitchfork and nearly jumped out of her skin. Not wanting to give her any details he turned to go.
“She left.” When Beth made that simple statement, the knot in his gut twisted and he felt sick. He faced the tiny red head feeling like he might explode at any moment. She and Sam had become very close over the years, although Jason had met her first, when he’d scoped the area out after he’d been accepted into the police enrollment program a few months before graduation. She had been in high school herself at the time, she was a little on the nerdy side, big into marching band, in love with horses, and terrified of boys. She was enthralled by the romantic aspect of Sam and Jason’s life. Her parents owned the apartment complex so it was easy for her to help them orchestrate their escape from the small farming town they’d been born and raised in by skipping them to the head of the waiting list for a stall and getting them accepted into the First Start program that guaranteed rent controlled apartments. Of course she would have known about their marital problems with as much time as his wife spent with the horses. Sam would have told her.
Sam’s parents had never liked him, they’d interfered every way imaginable, including forbidding her to date him. It hadn’t stopped them. In fact, it had made them want each other that much more and was quite possibly the driving factor in their decision to have sex on her sixteenth birthday. His parents had always known about their secret romance, the entire town had. His parents adored Samantha Lang. His father had even loaned him the horse trailer that night because Sam had been so afraid her father would sell her Arabian mare when he found out what they’d done.
He turned on his heels and headed for his truck. He was late for work. Lindsey was standing beside her car when he pulled into the parking lot.
“I thought I was driving this week.” She took time to glare at him before climbing into the truck beside him and shoving her gray and pink duffle bag at her feet. She had always been a little short on the temper.
“I’ve been waiting for ten minutes.” She complained through the rubber band clamped between her teeth as she pulled her thick black hair into a pony tale. She had on a tight pair of faded blue jeans with a rip in one knee and a thin white tank top. It was her small athletic build and soft curves that had Jason the envy of the department for snagging such a sexy partner. He’d been relieved when Sam had taken to Lindsey so quickly. They had immediately become the ultimate girlfriends, renting chick flicks and shopping at the mall. It should have been a blessing but it turned out to be a constant source of frustration by erasing the line between work and home.
“Slow down!” Lindsey yelped. She yanked on her seatbelt as he peeled out of the parking lot, sending the contents of her open duffle bag spilling across the floorboard of the truck.
“Damn it Cameron! You are getting on my last nerve!” She bent down picking up various items. “What is wrong with you?” She shoved a compact into a side compartment, grabbing a handful of loose change from the floorboard she held open her hand to pick out pieces of dirt and straw only to send it scattering when the truck lurched as he took a turn just a little too fast. “Jason.” She growled slamming objects into her bag. “You know I can’t stand the silent treatment!” She waved a tampon at him pulling the duffle bag into her lap, stuffing her gym shoes in before zipping it shut. She waved the tampon again. “Either spill it or drop it because I’m not spending my…” She held the tampon up, making a face at it. She unzipped the bag and shoved it in. “not spending my day like this.” She completed her statement in a less severe tone.
“Later.” He forced the word out through the pressure in his throat. He felt drained. He was confused and lost. He felt like he should have known she was leaving, he sent a searing look towards his partner, something told him she knew. He should have stopped her. He felt like he should be kicking mad or crying sad yet all he could feel was sick to his stomach. He knew he should be hunting her down, yet he was headed to work as if it were a normal day. Maybe it was shock.