Now he was fighting for her life.

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A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 89

She drew back her hand, and slapped him across the face. The blow landed on his left cheek. His hand flew up to shield it. She did it again.

He staggered back.

“Search your own soul, Matt Singer. You think God’s going to welcome you through the gates of heaven because you’re bringing Him a fresh sinner to work over? Fuck you. You’re manipulating just as much as you claim my father did. Except you’re playing with God’s law.”

He braced himself against the towel rack.

“And to think I almost fell for it. Your faith. I could actually see myself at your side. Lighting candles. Praying with you. Feeling gratitude. Both of us bathed in the warm light of God.” A shadow skipped across her face. “My father says every mistake in life begins with a bad decision. He’s right. I almost made the worst decision of my life.” She stomped out.

Matt slid to the floor, letting his head drop between his knees. He heard steps, rustles, the slam of a door. Then silence. He thought she’d gone until he heard the muted trill of his cell phone. The phone was in his jacket pocket, and his jacket was in the kitchen. She picked up on the third ring.

“Yes?” There was a determined pause. Then, “I’ll tell him.”

He heard the snap of the phone being shut. Footsteps approaching the bedroom.

“It was Stone,” Ricki said, her voice flat. “He said to tell you Georgia’s been in an accident. She’s in critical condition.”

 ***

“That’s a problem,” the dispatcher said when he called in to arrange back up for Ricki. “You’re signed up for the next two shifts, Singer. How the fuck am I supposed to find anyone this time of night?”

“You’ve got to,” Matt said, hearing the desperation in his own voice. “I’ve got to get downtown.”

The dispatcher said he’d do what he could.

“Call me as soon as you know something.” Hanging up, Matt rubbed his jaw. “Ricki?” There was no answer. “Ricki?”

He threw on his clothes and walked into the living room. It was empty. He stepped into the kitchen. No Ricki. He ran to the window and raised the shade overlooking the parking lot. The Mercedes was gone. He raced back to the kitchen and grabbed his jacket, his eyes going to the counter where he left his gun. Except for a used coffee mug, the counter was bare. He searched the kitchen. The Beretta was gone.

His cell phone buzzed. Dispatch said an officer would be there in half an hour. It was after two. “Tell him to meet me at the Lake Forest home.”

“I thought you said your place, Singer.”

“No. Have him drive up to Lake Forest.”

“Jesus, man, make up your mind.”

A clear, cold night with no traffic, Matt pulled up to the house ten minutes later. When he saw her car in the driveway and a light inside the house, relief swept through him. He leaned back against the seat.

He had a key. All the men guarding her did—but she was angry. She needed time to work things through. He wouldn’t impose. Just make sure she was okay.

Climbing out of his car, he rang the buzzer at the side of the gate. No response. He lifted his head to the security camera. He knew she could see him through the camera; evidently, she was still too angry to talk. He debated whether to go in, then turned around. She needed time.

He was back in his car when he remembered the Beretta. She couldn’t keep it; it was against regulations. If anyone found out, he would be suspended. Or worse. Then he cursed himself for being so self-consumed. Georgia had been suspended because of him. Now she was fighting for her life. What did it matter if he was suspended? The gun was the least of his problems.

In the middle of the circular driveway was a marble fountain surrounded by a clipped hedge. A porcelain swan was poised on top, its wing extended as if deciding whether to take a dip. He peered around the sculpture, saw one of the lights inside the house blink off. Ricki had taken his Beretta because it made her feel secure. She knew how to use it. She was safe. He’d get it back tomorrow. He climbed back in his car to wait for the officer.

Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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