episode 32

Episode 32 Heat

The sun streamed brightly into the room as a shrill ringing echoed in the quiet bedroom. JC stirred and looked at his girlfriend’s phone. She was still passed out and seeing it was the vet, he answered. “hello?” JC said sleepily, he caught sight of his alarm clock on his bedside table and knew it was eight ten. Surely this wasn’t good news. “Can I speak to Miss Dawson?” It was a young woman and he sighed heavily, not wanting to wake her. “I’m her husband,” He lied, knowing how these authoritative people worked. “Can I help?” “Callie’s survived the night. She is a little more hydrated and we have been treating her burns that were very superficial. The smoke inhalation was our biggest concern but she is responding well. The paw is not broken and she should make a full physical recovery. In regard to the working job, we’re uncertain how she will fair.” The woman’s voice was so monotonous, he thought she’d fall asleep recounting all of the information. “Can we come and see her?” JC asked hopefully. The sun rays landed on Caitlin’s sleeping face and golden hair giving her a very healthy look to the way she’d been the previous night. “Yes, of course, this afternoon should be fine,” The monotone woman responded. He hung up and hugged his sleeping girl tight to him before heading down stairs to grab some coffee. It was always amazing, JC thought, how a good night’s sleep can make things seem so clear in the morning.

The white washed walls glared at Lexie’s eyes as she felt fear creep over her like a cold rush of water. She had no idea where she was and the blurriness of her eyes made her uncertain and incapable of searching her surroundings accurately. She raised herself upon her elbow, feeling sickness and dizziness overcome her like a thick, heavy, stinking blanket. Reaching for a bowl on her bedside table, she wretched and threw up her guts. Gasping for air, choking while spitting out black phlegm, she wondered if the world would ever stop spinning. How did she get here? What was wrong with her? Where were her friends? Looking up she felt the fear grip her stomach again and her muscles tense with fright, she had to get out of here. Memories were beginning to flood back. They couldn’t find her here. But as she lowered her shaking legs over the side of her bed, nausea overtook her again and she found herself over the bowl, puking her black phlegm up again and again.

Caitlin awoke, her head throbbing and her heart aching. She reached for her phone and checked for any missed calls. There were none. Footsteps were coming up the stairs and she hastily got out of bed and grabbed her clothes. She’d have to buy some new ones soon. But the club wasn’t open and the money was not coming in fast. She knew it would but how was she going to deal with all of this? The landlord had been called, he had had insurance but if it was arson, Caitlin knew it would be difficult for him to claim. So she was pretty much homeless. With nothing to her name. Thank God, her MacBook was at the club. JC opened the door and she could smell fresh coffee. “Don’t be putting those on, baby girl,” he handed her some jeans, a shirt, sweatshirt and some underwear. They all had their tags still on. “Where did you get these?” She asked with confusion on her face. “The mall,” He kissed her head and handed her a coffee. “There’s some breakfast downstairs, get showered and changed and we’re going to go visit Callie.” “They called? Why didn’t you wake me?” Anger flew across her face but he touched her shoulder. “You needed to rest, mama, but she’s doing well and once you have eaten and are freshly dressed and showered, we will go and visit her and then roll by the club. It’s the best thing to keep ourselves busy.” “At least you still have a home,” She held the clothes, feeling like a little girl at that moment. The sadness threatened to break down the damn holding back her tears but he sat down beside her. “Big mama says you can stay as long as you need. Caitlin, we’ll find out what happened. Let’s make sure Callie is OK, our business is going to launch successfully on Friday and then we’ll worry about all the other stuff. I’ve got you some more clothes…” “How?” She asked sternly, hoping he didn’t steal them. “I had some cash, don’t trip,” And he walked from the room, stopping before he closed the door and added, “Breakfast will be waiting Miss Dawson.” She sighed heavily and knew he was right so took a hot, cleansing shower and changed into the clothes that surprisingly fit her well.

JC sat in the bright airy kitchen listening to the neighborhood dogs barking and peering around the room he’d grown up in his whole life. The same sunshine yellow wall paper, with the fruit pictures on the wall, the cupboards that had seen better days and the tall refrigerator that had stored many goodies over the years. The old wooden table that had a block of wood under one leg from when his cousin Milo had got a tool kit one Christmas and sorb right through the one leg; it was all the same, but different that morning. A part of him felt more grown up than ever before and until she walked into the room, in fresh jeans and hoodie, he wasn’t sure why. But as she stood there, in the doorway of his small, modest kitchen, her face pinched with emotion, he knew why he felt more grown up. Because now, she mattered to him as much as he mattered to himself. His world included her not just him anymore. He stood and walked to her, placing his strong arms around her frame as she broke down into floods of emotion. Her tears cascading down her cheeks, he bent to kiss them away while stroking her long blond hair that was glistening from her shower. “It’s going to be alright, mamita, I promise.” And he knew in his heart, it would. They were invincible together. He was certain of that.

Guiding her gently to a chair, he placed some toast and cereal before her and she smiled gently. “Don’t worry,” She sniffled, trying to force a smile onto those pretty pink lips, “I won’t tell your homies of what a sweetheart you’ve been to me.” But he laughed because if she went on the seven o’clock news and told the world, he would not care one iota. He loved this girl and taking a seat opposite her he watched as she began to pull herself together and be strong to face whatever the world threw at her next.

The vets seemed less clinical compared to how Caitlin had felt about it the previous night. The little animal hospital that could have saved her dog’s life was warm and welcoming with its day staff and many new clients with cats meowing, dogs whimpering and birds chattering, waiting to see the many vets. “Miss Dawson, sorry, Mrs. Dawson,” The monotone receptionist looked up from her computer. “Allie will take you both to see Callie. She’s doing well. Mr Lewison wants to keep her a few more days for observation but she’s up and about now.” Caitlin didn’t let a flicker of shock cross her face as the receptionist had called her Mrs Dawson, she’d ask JC about that later. All she cared about that moment was to see her precious dog.Callie jumped around, so pleased to see her mistress and fresh tears of relief crossed the pinched face as JC watched the reunion. “You can come home soon Callie-cals,” She promised, crouching and wrapping her arms around the golden dog’s head as she wagged her tail furiously. A lump of emotion grew in JC’s throat and he knew then and there, he would get those responsible for this horrific incident.

He was driving along fairfax and knew exactly where to go. He’d asked the previous night where they were taking Alexia and they’d answered with no questions about who he was or why he wanted to know. The stop light was on red and the busy LA street was buzzing with daily traffic. Glancing down at his fake rollex, he saw it was two PM. He’d dropped Caitlin at the Club, knowing she’d want to check on things. Her mood had dramatically upgraded from almost despondent to rather positive and kick ass bitch which made him feel easier. Sure she was going to miss Callie incredibly but knowing she was on the mend and having seen her best friend, Caitlin could now concentrate on everything else. The club was her primary concern. JC and his grandmother had assured her Callie and her could stay as long as they needed so getting this business successfully off of the ground mattered more than anything else now. She’d called Emily who had been upset but had told Caitlin she couldn’t face that and although in normal circumstances, JC would have considered this to be unkind and damn right selfish, Emily deserved to feel that way after everything she’d gone through. The sun pelted down onto the black car in front and his temper was beginning to get the best of him. Caitlin’s landlord had called and told them the entire living room had been dowsed in gasoline and so they had concluded arson. And JC knew exactly who was capable of that horrendous act.

Turning into the parking Lott, he turned off of his engine. Leaning back in his seat, watching people coming and going, he wondered if she was even still here. Should he go inside and confront her like the gangsta he was or should he let the officials handle it?

She opened her eyes, head throbbing and the glare of the florescent lighting hurting her eyes. Coughing harshly, she feared she’d be sick again. A shadow crossed over her bed, tall and well defined, her heart began thudding inside of her chest as she turned her head and stared into the black anger in Jay Carter’s eyes.

“Most people would say that that cough was only part of what you deserved, Alexia.” He didn’t sit, just remained, leaning over her. She groped for the buzzer, knowing her voice wouldn’t manage a yell or a scream and saw the wires had been cut. He watched her eyes glance and the fear enter them and to confirm it was him, he did a cutting with scissors gesture with his fingers. “What are you talking about?” She asked hoarsely, wishing the world could swallow her whole. Her head ached, her lungs burned and her stomach felt as though she’d been soccer punched in it a thousand times. “Well Alexia,” His intimidation was working on her. He’d had years of practice to perfect this interrogation technique and he’d not known it fail yet. “When Caitlin and I came to the house for her to feed Callie and leave her at home while we grabbed dinner and had a few relaxing drinks, there had been no gasoline in the living room. Callie would have sniffed it out, and I’m pretty sure Caitlin and I would have noticed it too. But seen as Caitlin didn’t do this, and you’re the only other person with a key, who else could have planned and executed such a sick plan?” His eyes burned almost black with fury as opposed to his normal light brown. “Callie could have burned to death if she hadn’t been so smart to climb up the roof ladder and stay up there. She’s sprained a paw and the experts are uncertain if she’ll work again.” “It wasn’t me,” Lexie’s eyes were filling with tears as she tried to protest but he’d seen the fear and guilt in those pathetic green eyes. He’d noticed how she clung to the bed sheets like a child waking from a terrible nightmare. “Quit with the bullshit! You did it out of spite. But instead of just torching the place, you almost killed an innocent animal. You fucking monster!” He jabbed a long, masterful finger in her face and looked so angry he resembled something out of a sci-fi show. His eyes were demonic and his face so distorted with anger it scared her. “What are you going to do?” She cried now, knowing it was futile. They’d find the canister, know what had happened and she would go to jail. “Nothing,” He stood and walked to the door, turning back with a cruel look glinting in his eyes. “You’re going to tell and if you don’t, you better watch your back.”

The door swung shut and Lexie burst into tears despite the pounding of her head. She wept and wept, anger couldn’t save her now.

Everything was almost in place as Caitlin and JC had turned up at the club. He’d said he’d had some stuff to do so she’d booted up her faithful MacBook and began to confirm invitations, check all was on schedule and halfway through compiling a rotor for their second month, the first was already up behind the bar, she stopped, bent to pat Callie and feeling a grip of sorrow burst into tears again. Why did anyone want to hurt them? Why would anyone want to set their house alight? The landlord had been very dismayed and said she’d better look for somewhere else, he didn’t think he’d be able to get the work done quickly at all. She he blamed them for the fire. But none of her friends were capable of this. Even Kira, who had left on bad terms with her wouldn’t have done this, especially if they’d known Callie was in the house. But they would have known. Her harness and Leash were in the living room on their usual hook as always. So then, they knew Callie was home? Her tears cascaded faster as though the storm was increasing its torrent on her cheeks. Surely, no one she knew could have done this. Could they? She heard the door open and turned. “It’s only me,” He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her hair. “She’ll be back before you know it.” His voice was soft and husky as usual and that voice calmed her but she looked up to his face, her blind eyes wide with pain. “Someone did this on purpose. And they knew Callie was home!” She buried her face into his shirt and he sighed heavily knowing that the truth would hurt her even more. That bitch better step up because this was not fair on Caitlin, she’d done nothing wrong. That Lexie had a wire lose he thought as he comforted Caitlin gently. And she would pay, either by her own choice or if she was too chicken to face up to what she did, he’d tell the fire investigators and cops what he knew. Because this wasn’t the streets, and he knew Caitlin couldn’t handle him dealing with Lexie, he’d promised her. And if the officials wouldn’t do anything, then he’d tell Caitlin his plans and he knew, in his heart, she’d allow the retribution for her furry friend.

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