Monday, June 23, 2014

Bound Souls - Chapter Three Part Two

He took another sip of coffee. "It didn't happen often, but occasionally I had to go out of town for conferences or conventions. I hated leaving Jenna alone, especially that time, since our baby, Zach, wasn't quite two months old."

Hannah gave a sharp intake of breath. "I didn't know you had a son." She put her other hand onto his, and that was the only thing that gave him the strength to continue.

"It was a quick trip up to San Francisco, a one-nighter. I called Jenna that evening and found her and Zach doing fine. She missed me, but the feeling was mutual, so it wasn't a big thing. When I got home late the next afternoon, I knew something was wrong the second I walked in. The house was too quiet, and both Jenna's car and the stroller were there, so they couldn't have gone anywhere. I walked into Zach's room and found him asleep. Or so I thought. He lay too still and when I touched him, he was so cold. Shock and panic hit me at once, and I screamed for Jenna. I'm sure the entire neighborhood heard. I stumbled out and into our bedroom. The adjoining bathroom door was closed. I burst in and found her in the tub, both wrists slit wide open. I don't know how much water she'd let in because it all looked like blood. All the way to the top and spilled over. But the worst part was the expression on her face. One of absolute horror."

He stopped and took a deep breath. That was the most he'd said about the incident to anyone since the original police investigation. His whereabouts had been easy enough to trace, so it had been officially ruled a crib-death and suicide. The only thing keeping the tears at bay now was his new angel sitting across from him. He looked up and found tears trickling down her cheeks. He picked up a clean napkin and lightly brushed her face. It earned him a smile, and she took over.

"I'm sorry," she said. "That's so sad."

"No, I'm the one who should be sorry. I didn't mean to upset you." He lifted her hand and kissed it without thinking. She smiled and rubbed his cheek. Her eyes were red and puffy, but only Jenna could match her beauty.

He chuckled. "What would your boyfriend say if he walked in and saw us like this?"

Confusion clouded her features, and then she laughed. "Is that your clumsy way of asking if I'm single?"

"I'm just assuming you're not. You're much too pretty, much too nice, not to have someone."

She looked down at her hot chocolate and whispered, "I don't."

"Are all the young guys dumb as dirt nowadays?"

"No. Well, maybe," she said with a giggle, meeting his eyes. "I've been on a few dates, but no one has really interested me enough to be beyond superficially attractive."

He sat back, took another pull from his coffee, and let out a sigh. "I wish I was younger so I could see if I proved worthy."

She leaned forward and captured his full attention. As she spoke, her voice had that raspy quality of lust permeating her entire being. "Why would you need to be younger? You're perfect the way you are."

He expected her to blush again and look away, but she didn't. Her eyes devoured him, and for a minute nothing existed but the two of them — not the coffee shop nor any of the patrons, not the immediate future where they'd be forced to part for the night, and certainly not his past with Jenna. All that mattered was him, Hannah, and where this budding relationship, or whatever it was, might be heading.

Finally he broke eye contact and took another drink. She did the same, and now her cheeks were flush. He wasn't sure this time if it was embarrassment over whatever it was that just played out, or excitement over the prospect of what it meant.

"So what happened?" she asked, her voice stiff, as if she'd forced herself to speak.

"What do you mean?"

"With your wife and son. Did she leave a suicide note or anything?"

He shook his head. "The police came to the conclusion that Zach died an accidental crib death, and when she found him, she couldn't take it. She likely went right from his room to get the razorblades, and then to the bathtub." He stopped to keep the sadness from dragging him under. "But enough about that. What about you? What are you studying?"