Trying not to love you
My phone start to ring for the third time since I left the house only ten minutes ago. I look down at the number flashing up on the screen ... I might have known ... Coral again.
I switch the call straight onto voice mail for the third time and stuff my phone back into my pocket, when is she going to get the message that I am not going to talk to her ... she seriously needs to leave me alone because I can't deal with this right now!!
I pick the paperwork up off my desk, that is waiting for me, staring blankly down at it for a moment, I'm reading the words written on the paper but my head is not taking them in. I can't help but notice my hand is shaking, my nerves are shot.
My phone starts to ring again. Berry what is she trying to do, send me crazy!? I'm starting to slowly lose my temper now. I snatch my phone out of my pocket and answer it.
"WHAT?!" I snap down the phone, there is just silence coming from the other end of the phone. "What do you want Coral?!"
"I need you to come home ...." she mumbles really quietly "We ... we need to sort this out, I know how you feel and I feel the same ..."
NO!! I am not listening to this ... she really shouldn't have said that to me!!! I need to put a stop to this RIGHT NOW!!!
"No we don't ... there is nothing to talk about ... whatever you want from me is NOT happening, you are marrying my son in two months or had you forgotten." she's silent for a moment then she really surprises me with what she says.
"I don't want to marry Slate ... I love you!!" NO!! NO!! She can't tell me this!!
"NO CORAL YOU DON'T!!!! QUIT playing your games, I am not interested and neither should you be ... now I'm at work DON'T PHONE ME AGAIN!!" I shout and snap my phone shut.
I stand and stare at my closed phone for a moment half expecting her to ring me straight back. I feel like shit for shouting at her!! I feel like shit because of what she's just said to me. It is killing me to do the sensible thing and say No! when all I really want to do is run straight back home and into her arms!
How does she know how I feel? Is she just guessing or have I seriously been letting it show? It's not like I've been flirting with her like she has with me. I have to stop thinking about her and this before I start to drive myself half crazy ... it doesn't matter how either of us feel I can't let this happen, she is my son's girlfriend and this is just ridiculous!!!
I glance back at the paperwork in my hand and try to shut Coral out of my head.
Apparently funds have been withdrawn from Maizie Lanes account at a cash point in Apple Hill. There is not a lot I can do officers are already on their way out to Apple Hill because it's my day off, they didn't think I'd want the hassle, so all I can do is sit here and wait for there return.
This makes me believe that Manderine, Maize, 'River' and Tapestry are still in Apple Hill somewhere ... this is the first shred of activity that we have had since Honey was found ... why have we not found them yet? Where are they hiding him? Why have there not been any ransom demands ... why exactly are they keeping Tapestry captive when they let Honey go?! Something really doesn't feel right about this case.
It doesn't take long for me to make the few phone calls I need to make. I could actually stay here and work my day off but I doubt very much I'll be able to concentrate, I can barely concentrate now.
I need to think, I need to sort this situation with Coral out before it goes any further, if she keeps playing these games, I'm not going to be able to help myself. If she feels the same way I do, like she says, then we are in trouble!! I found myself standing there day dream ... hell all I want to do is to just go home and give in!!
There is no way that I can go home and there is no way that I can stay here just pacing around, I'm going to be crawling the walls soon, so I tell the desk sargent to phone me when they return from Apple Hill with the CCTV from the bank and leave.
I make my way to the gym so I can try to run off some of this frustration.
I've been struggling for weeks to keep my thoughts and feelings under control, if I had even imagined that this was coming I would never have let Slate move her in. But how could I ever have seen this coming, it's just hit me out of the blue ... it's ridiculous!! She is marrying my son ... berry what the hell is wrong with me?!
I found it strange, when Slate moved Coral in, their birthday candles were still smoking and her bags were packed and she was moving in. The timing was all wrong for a start, with Tapestry still missing, I would have thought that Mango would have wanted to hold his family close, so I was surprised that he would let Coral go so easily. Mosaic too swiftly moved out and into a house, with his girlfriend Fudge, that Mango has brought them ... it was almost like he wanted them out of the house, which is not like Mango at all.
Me and Mango had already put our heads together and said we would jointly buy Coral and Slate their first house as a wedding present, Slate will get all my money eventually so he may as well make use of it now. The house which they themselves said they wouldn't move into until after they get married.
There was never any talk of them living together before hand ... I suspected at the time, they were even doing this for me, they knew I would be left alone once Slate married, I thought maybe Slate felt guilty about leaving me on my own. I've even heard them talking and they seem quite happy to stay in my house ... making plans to change the spare room into a nursery when the time comes and they need one ... all talk of their own house, the house me and Mango were supposed to be buying them has stopped.
Slate says he loves her so I have to believe that even though I am not sure he actually does. I'm not sure he actually knows what love is yet. It's what this will do to him, more to the point what it will do to our relationship if anything ever happens between me and Coral, he can never find out about the way I feel about her. My son is the only person I've got in my life and I can't lose him not even for Coral!! Somewhere I do have an older brother who I haven't seen or spoken to for years, we had a falling out and the last I heard he was doing quite a lengthy stretch in the prison in Berry Shores. I can't lose my son like I've lost my brother!!
I seriously think I need to push them out and encourage them to move into their own place ... I need to talk to Mango about getting this house bought ... it is not safe for them to stay under my roof!!
I seriously can't stop thinking about Coral, why? What the hell is wrong with me?! HOW do I fall for my son's girlfriend?! Why didn't I see this coming?! It's not like I haven't had other women throw themselves at me over the year, there have been plenty but I just haven't been interested, I'm not sure I've ever really dealt properly with the premature death of my wife, I still think about Amber every day, I see her eyes and hair everytime I look at Slate ... but why now, why Coral?!
I knock the speed up on the running machine, hoping the pain will stop me thinking about her but it doesn't. She should never have told me what she has - she says she loves me - does she really? This just makes it so much harder!! This is ridiculous!!
I let myself slide off the running machine, I can't even concentrate on something as simple as running.
I find myself in the Dive bar ... one stiff drink to help take the edge off.
I am pretty amused when I walk in to see Prelude Orchid sitting at the bar knocking back a glass of vodka like its water. I seriously can not get away from this family can I!! It feels like everywhere I go I have to bump into one of them ... and just knowing that he is Corals Uncle and that purple skin of his only makes me start thinking about Coral again.
As I stand at the bar waiting to be served I stand watching Prelude who hasn't even acknowledged me ... he's probably already too wasted to even recognize me. I wander if he's read today's news paper and that's why he's in here getting wrecked?
Although from what Mango has been telling me, I doubt he's ever capable of reading the news paper these days, according to Mango he's permanently cut ... he's lost his job and living back with Mango and Lilly again and is drinking vodka from the moment he wakes up until he passes out somewhere once he's drunk himself into oblivion.
He loves Manderine and doesn't care who knows it, it's her disappearance that has sent him off the rails ... he was coping with her being in prison because he could visit her and speak to her every day. Since she succeeded with her prison break, he doesn't know where she is, she hasn't contacted him once, the thought of her being out in the world somewhere without him and seemingly not caring has totally unhinged him according to Mango ... if this is what love does to you ... I don't think I want it!!
Hell ... if I'm not careful I'm going to end up like Prelude!!
"HEY YOU WUSS!!" I hear Prelude shout quite loudly "Who do you think you are looking at?!"
He snaps me out of my day dream when I realize he is talking to me because he is glares in my direction with a face like thunder. I hope to berry he is not looking for a fight, I know what he's like!! I have already experienced his fists and head butting first hand. I was one of the arresting officers when he kicked off at the prison, we both took quite a pasting off him before we managed to get him locked up. I was part of the reason why he ended up getting an 18 months prison sentence.
Knowing the type of person that Prelude is I've always worried that he will hold that against me and seek his revenge at a later date, even though it's now been over 20 years ago, things have never been pleasant between the two of us ... a situation like this for example ... he's already wasted, I'm not in uniform or on the job. Not that I'm worried about taking a pasting from him, I've had plenty in my time, I just could do without the hassle.
I was looking in his direction without actually looking at him because I had been daydreaming, my mind had drifted off somewhere else, somewhere where it shouldn't be ... Coral ... I've got no hope of fighting this have I!!
"Sorry mate ... I was just trying to catch your attention Prelude." I say hoping he will calm down once he hears his name. I see the woman behind the bar giving him a very nervous look.
"I ain't your mate ... mate!!" he snarls at me "I suggest you quit staring at me if you don't want me to rearrange your face for you!!" Oh berry!!
"Fair enough!!" I say holding my hands up as I turn to look at the barmaid, she's still appears to be really nervous, I guess she must also know what he gets like, I should imagine she's seen him kicking off on a regular basis. I order myself a drink which she starts to pour quickly, taking quick nervous glances at Prelude who I know and can feel still intensely staring - or should I say glaring - in my direction.
"Found my wife and nephew yet?" he asks me suddenly, so he does recognize me. I shake my head and tell him I haven't "Well you won't find them in here!!" he snaps at me "I think I'm going to start looking for them myself because you pigs are fudging useless, and now I know why if you spend all day in here drinking!!"
I can't help but laugh at him, that's a little like the pot calling the kettle black, this is the first time I've been in this place for years!! I pick up my drink and go and sit as far away from him as I possibly can. He is absolutely plastered and I think if I stay around him I might just set him off.
Thankfully he orders another drink and seems to forget that I'm even in here, he doesn't look in my directions again until he almost falls off his bar stool when he tries to answer his ringing phone. As he stands there taking the call he continuously glares at me.
I quickly finish my drink and make a swift exit from the bar, the last thing I want to be doing today is setting off and fighting with Corals Uncle!!
I find myself standing outside the dive bar like an idiot, lost, wandering where I can go to avoid going home. How stupid is this?!
I suppose I could go over to the bowling alley but I don't even know what possessed me to think that having a drink was a good idea! I don't really need to be drinking any more alcohol right now, knowing Coral is home alone, alcohol is just going to make me weak and I'm going to go home and do something stupid, because I think I know, if she starts again when I get home I'm not going to be able to stop myself.
I decided a nice quiet place might give me some space to think, I walk past the park and it is full of screaming children so I decide to make my way to the meadow. As I walk down the steps I see the meadow is empty all but for one solitary figure sitting on the bench, the bench that I planned to sit on, but I carry on regardless and make my way towards the occupied bench.
As I get closer I recognize the person sitting there staring into the pond, not that there are many people in this town that I don't actually know. Bayleaf Forrest, he glances up and smiles at me as I sit down next to him, I wander why he is sitting out here all alone looking miserable? He looks at me awkwardly like he isn't sure whether he should be talking to me or not, so I decide to break the awkward silence.
"I haven't seen you with Slate for quite a while, I hope you are keeping yourself out of trouble Bayleaf!!" I smile at him
"Hey that's not fair, you know I've only ever been in trouble once!!" he laughs at me "And if I remember rightly it was right here in this meadow where you arrested me!!"
"Yes I remember, the day that you lot stupidly decided to set up a rumble with the Freeze kids ... payback for Storm wasn't it!!" he smiles at me and rolls his eyes "I'm really not sure if any of you realized at the time just how stupid you were being!!"
I laugh at him remembering how scared they had all been when we locked them in the cells, only Tapestry had experienced the cells before, he being the only seasoned trouble maker amongst them all. Sunny and Alpine had been very quick to come and collect their children ... Mango on the other hand had left Tapestry in the cells all night, trying to teach him some sort of lesson.
"Yeah thinking back we were pretty stupid, it was not like it was going to bring Storm back, but we were just so hurt and angry, Pine stabbed Mosaic then Tapestry caved Pines skull in and Strawberry took a really dangerous kicking, Forrest and Pine both had knives ... it could have ended up far worse with another one of us lying along side Storm in the Cemetery!!" he looks down at the ground for a moment.
"Do you think that is part of the reason why Manderine is keeping Tapestry for so long?"
"What do you mean?" I ask frowning at him
"Storm faded, Pine is brain damaged, Forrest in prison for life ... three of her boys ... and it all boils down to Tapestry ... I know everyone thinks shes got him because of this stupid vendeter of hers with our parents ... but it's a bit of a coincidence don't you think that Tapestry just happens to be the one who's helped to seal the unpleasant fate of her three boys ... personally I think she's got it in for Tapestry!!"
I stare at Bayleaf for a moment, trying to work out what Tapestry had to do with Storm fading. I was off work that day, I was only called in during the afternoon to help cover the rumble in the meadow as we were short of manpower because of Storm's murder earlier in the day. I never really had any dealing with Storm's case either, I had quite a very heavy case load at the time and I've never really read up on Storm's murder case since, because I thought I knew all I needed to know - Forrest stabbed and murdered Storm - I didn't even realize that Tapestry was involved in this somehow - I need to go into the station to check up and read through that murder case.
"Your guess is as good as mine ... we have quite a few theories and we can speculate forever, but until we speak to one of them I guess we are never going to know the truth! or what is even going through Manderine Orchids mind!!" I say to him trying to avoid talking about the case too much. Really I need to change the subject.
"So have you and Slate had a falling out, it's been ages since I've seen the pair of you hanging out together ... when you were kids you two used to be joined at the hip!!"
"No, no falling out, just drifted apart as you do, you know, I'm busy with work, he's busy with work and Coral ..." he looks down at the floor with the strangest of expressions on his face, he almost looks like he's upset over something, as soon as he mentioned Coral, who's name he said in a strange way, he clammed up and didn't finish his sentence ... I wander!?
"Slate pinched your girl did he?" he looks up at me a little surprised then he starts laughing quite loudly, I start laughing with him thinking I've hit the nail on the head.
"You obviously haven't heard ... I'm gay!!" he carries on laughing, I carry on laughing with him, well he does surprise me, now I feel awkward because I didn't know, and what exactly do you say to someone who tells you they are gay out of the blue?!
"Okay ... so Coral has pinched your man then?" I say, trying to make a joke out of it because I don't know what else to say. He gets that strange look on his face again ... this time I think I really have hit the nail on the head!! Oh berry!!
"I think we should change the subject, that's your son we are talking about ... besides Slate isn't gay!!" he tries to laugh it off but he's not doing a very good job of it, he is now embarrassed!! He has a thing for Slate, this amuses me for a moment.
I laugh in my head when he says that Slate isn't gay ... I wouldn't be so sure ... when he was younger I kind of suspected and expected that is how he would turn out, my older brother is gay so I've seen all the signs before. I was surprised when Slate started to date girls, but after watching how he handles his relationship with Coral ... I kind of suspect it even more now and really wouldn't be surprised if he just hasn't found himself and doesn't even realize himself yet. Personally I don't care if he's gay or straight, whatever makes him happy, but I do kind of like the idea of having Grandchildren in the future.
"Does he know?" he shakes his head miserably "Maybe you should tell him ... you never know unless you try!!"
Bayleaf gives me the strangest look then, and I can understand why, it is probably the last thing he expected me to say. I feel sorry for him, I know what it's like to want someone you can't have, but in my mind Bayleaf and Slate is probably a lot more possible than me and Coral. I wander if Slate is the reason why he's sat moping on this bench? How ironic would it be if he is, when I am sat here moping because of Coral!!
"So how is your Dad? I haven't seen him out and about for a while." I change the subject because I see he is now sat squirming I think he's just admitted something to me that he didn't intend to.
He starts to relax a little telling me how bad his Dad's brain damage gets some days and how hard it is for his Mother to cope with, as Alpine gets older it seems to be getting worse, Mango is always trying new things with him, but he doubts there is anything that will ever make it any better.
It's such a shame, I knew Alpine before the hit and run, he was a lovely guy, he still is a lovely guy on his good days, but it's hard to watch on his bad days just what Manderine Orchid has reduced him too. That woman is a serious piece of work!!
My phone starts ringing. I hesitate a little, thinking it might be Coral again, but it isn't, it's a call from work. So I make my excuses and leave Bayleaf sat on the bench as I get up and walk away a little so that I can take the call.
"Sir, the cctv from the Apple Hill cash point is here, but I think you might want to come into the station." one of the desk officers says to me quickly, so I ask him what's happening "That re-sweep of Apple Hill that you requested, well we've found something in a deserted warehouse that we strongly believe is connected to the abduction case."
"What makes you think that?" I ask glancing back at Bayleaf who I think might still be within hearing range of me, so I wander a little further away from him.
"We've found an orange and colourless hat, exactly the same as the one that the Orchid boy is wearing in all his photographs ... it's not pretty either, its torn, dirty and bloodstained." Oh fudge!! I ask him if that's all that has been found. "No, there are quite a few items that we have recovered, but, it has just become interesting, there is a blood stained knife and quite a pool of blood ... I think this case might just be starting to roll from abduction to possible murder ... no body was found at the scene."
"Get a thorough sweep done of the sounding area, I want no stone left unturned, if there is a body - I want it found!!! Send all the evidence down to forensics quick smart ... tell them I want the results back yesterday ... I'm on my way in!!" I snap my phone shut.
My heart has now crashed to my feet and I feel physically sick ... please no!! If ever I have to go and tell Mango that Tapestry has been faded ... oh berry!! I can't even think about it!! I was dreading this, one of the reasons why I know I should have stepped away from this case and let someone else take control of it ... I am personally too close to this case!!
Oh fudge!! Coral how is she going to take this?! Just how long has she been out of my head for?! I have no hope ... but I have to keep fighting this ... for Slate's sake!!
When I return to my office I look through all the photographs of the evidence found at the scene ... straight away I can see that hat looks like Tapestry's, also the orange waist coat type top that has also been found in the same condition as the hat, looks identical to the one that River is wearing in some of the photographs we have of him, something else that jumps out at me, a smashed keyring connected to two keys - the name on the keyring quite visibly is River. Those three items alone make me think, this evidence is definitely connected to this case. All of the other items don't mean anything until forensics have examined them.
There is no way that I'm going to be able to face Mango and Lilly over a dinner table tonight knowing any of this ... I stare down at the photograph of the blood stained knife lying in a pool of blood ... odds on with the situation of the case, that is going to be Tapestry's blood, I'll be very surprised if it isn't ... I can't do it.
I snap open my phone, first I phone Mango, then Slate, making my excuses, saying I'm going to be held up at work and have to cancel dinner ... not that I really want to be sat there helping to plan Coral and Slates wedding anyway!!
It could be a few days before forensics come back to me with the amount of items, footprints and fingerprints they have found, so now I just have to sit back and wait.
I glance at my watch, I can't go home yet, it's not safe, I can't go home until I know Slate is home, so I have to kill time until after 6pm. I pull out the old case files on Storms fading and Mosaics stabbing and read through them both. I can see now why Bayleaf says that Tapestry could possibly be Manderine's actual target and not his parents.
Storm Orchid faded trying to protect Tapestry from Forrest Freeze. It was actually Tapestry that Forrest had it in for because he was dating his sister Fern, the Freeze's being an anti colour mix family. Tapestry smashed Pine Freeze's skull in trying to protect his brother Mosaic from a repeat stabbing. Forrest Freeze not only was charged with murder but also Aggravated Assault on Tapestry, cutting his neck and face with the knife that he used to fade Storm with. So yes Tapestry did play a hand in sealing the fate of all three of Manderines boys, she could very well have it in for Tapestry specifically.
This is very worrying!! The blood stained knife and the pool of blood even more worrying!! I've hated the silence surrounding this case, but I think I'd much rather the silence than this fresh evidence and the direction that this abduction case now seems to be heading!!
When I can't put it off any longer I leave the station and make my way home. When the cab pulls up outside I notice that the house is in total darkness which I didn't expect.
I'm hoping that I'm going to be home alone. I look at my watch and wander where Slate is, he should be back from work by now. I am thinking and hoping maybe they might have taken themselves out for something to eat seeing as I cancelled dinner on them tonight.
As soon as I flick the light switch on in the living room Coral springs up off the couch nearly giving me heart failure because I didn't expect that either ... Great!! I get the nasty feeling suddenly that we are home alone together which is exactly what I've been trying to avoid all day!!
"Gravel I can't do this anymore ... we seriously need to talk ...." I put my hands up as she approaches me quite quickly, she looks like she's been crying ... Fudge!! I take a deep breath.
"Don't you come near me!!" I snap at her, the very last thing that I need her to do is touch me, thankfully she doesn't but I have to watch that familiar look wash across her face that tends to get everyone, especially me! "and don't give me that little miss innocent look of yours either, those puppy dog eyes are not going to work!!"
"Where is Slate?" I ask her
"He's working late, he won't be back until after ten so we have time to sort this out" she says smiling at me.
Oh fudge, four hours in the house alone with Coral ... I can't keep living like this, it won't take her long to crack me into submission, there is only one way that I can do this, get nasty and remove the temptation.
"There is nothing to sort out!! I don't know what the hell you have got in your mind Coral, but it stops RIGHT NOW!!! It's not happening because of Slate!! Remember my son and your fiance!! This is all wrong!!"
"I love you not Slate ... I don't want to marry Slate!!" This threw me for a moment and made me angry - after all the fuss she has created over their wedding!! She has really stressed everyone out, especially her parents out over it.
"So what has all this fuss been about? The wedding that couldn't wait that YOU wanted right now while everyone else wanted you to wait for Tapestry and River to come home??!!"
She just looks down at the floor without saying anything
"Well??!!" I snap at her when she says nothing
"I thought if I hurried it up it might wake you up ... it might make you act on your feelings." she mumbles still looking down at the floor. "I know you feel the same way that I do!!"
WHAT?! This has all been just a childish game to her to attract my attention?! Does she not realize she is playing with Slates feelings?! How does she know how I feel that's what I really want to know?
"Slate loves you and I can't do it to him ... I think it's best for all of us if you and Slate get your own place ... you need to move out straight away!!"
She looks a little shocked, her mouth drops open, I don't think that is what she was expecting me to say. She keeps saying she knows how I feel, but does she really?! I've never admitted it, I've tried to hide it, is she just guessing and hoping because of the way that she feels?
"So I suggest you go upstairs and start packing yours and Slates stuff ... I want you out of here Coral!!"
"You don't mean that ..."
"I do Coral ... I want you OUT!!"
I don't give her the chance to do or say anything, I can't even look at her as I stare straight past her and walk away. I didn't want to see her reaction, I couldn't afford to see her reaction ... this is the very last thing that I want to be doing, kicking them out, its going to kill me to watch both of them leave ... but I have to.
I run quickly up the stairs to take a quick shower and get changed. I know I can't stay in this house alone with her ... I have to go out ...
... I need to get totally wasted!!
this and the next chapter ties in closely with what Jazz and co where setting up in Mango 6