Galecki had almost killed me, and I thought he had killed Cade, but he’d run out of time. Cade was found bloodied, bound, and gagged in the trunk of his car.
I’ve felt immense guilt for getting him involved in such a situation. Hence, my clumsy attempt to make it up to him with lattes.
“I hope you’re in dire need of some caffeine,” I say as I approach his desk. “I have a vanilla latte with your name on it.”
Cade looks up from his computer screen with the same expression as the last five times—polite embarrassment. His hazel eyes light up and pink creeps along his neck and ears. He reaches up to scratch his wavy, windswept hair. The corner of his lips sort of curl.
“Ms. Adams,” he says with an awkward laugh. “I’ve told you, it’s okay. You’ve more than made up for it.”
I set down my briefcase and hand over the latte. “I’m not sure I’ll ever stop feeling guilty.”
“You can’t control what bad guys do. And Galecki was a bad guy. Besides, I helped because I wanted to. Ask for it anytime.”
I smile in thanks and then head for the elevator outside of Cyber Crimes. Commissioner Flynn whizzes by, almost knocking me over. He beats me to the elevator and smashes a finger on the down button.
His normally neat service uniform is wrinkled and his mustache is bushier than usual. The leather portfolio he clutches to his chest has several crumpled papers sticking out at odd angles.
Either the commissioner had a rough weekend or a rough Monday morning.
“Hello, Commissioner,” I say breezily, stopping at his side in front of the elevator. “Busy morning so far?”
His eyes are stuck on the digital screen above the elevator, counting the floors left until ours. “Uh huh. Very, very busy.”
“Did you still want to meet on Thursday regarding the new charges I’m bringing up against Frausto?”
Flynn blinks out of his moody stupor, really seeing me for the first time. “ADA Adams,” he says in surprise. “Good morning. I didn’t realize that was you. Yes, I’ve been very busy. We’ll have to reschedule Thursday.”
The elevator dings as it reaches our floor, but the doors don’t open quick enough for Flynn. He smashes the open button several more times, mumbling under his breath. His hand catches my attention. I stare fixedly at it, unable to look away. A strange, surreal wave crashes over me.
“Commissioner, that’s an interesting ring you’re wearing.”
“Hmm? Wha… oh… this? It’s my membership ring for the Neptune Society.” He steps into the elevator and motions with his arm for me to hurry up. “I reallyamhaving a very busy day, ADA.”
I oblige, suddenly out of sync with myself. It no longer feels like I’m inside of myself. I’m on the outside, watching a dazed Delphine step into the elevator beside Commissioner Flynn and his ring.
The same ring my rapist wore—silver braided band with a sapphire stone to represent Northam and our city mascot, Neptune, and his trident.
The elevator might be transporting us to different levels in the police department building, but in my head, I’m transported to another time and place altogether.
He grips my hips with one hand, jamming himself inside me. His other, he plants on the wet ground next to mine. It’s the only thing I can concentrate on other than his hot breath on the back of my neck and the painful organ forcing its way into my body.
His rough, calloused, dirty hands. His nails chewed and his fingers long. These dirty hands he used to fondle me. Violate me.
He wears a braided silver band around his ring finger with the sapphire crest of the Northam City Neptunes.
It’s so distinct, I’ll never forget it...
I blink and realize we’ve stopped on my floor. Flynn is staring expectantly at me. So is the man standing outside the open elevator doors, waiting to get on. I nod, and then step off with warm cheeks.
Over the months since my rape, I’ve become better at assimilating into daily life. My flashbacks and freeze ups only occur sparingly. Every once and a while, I’ll have a moment like this—where I black out from the present and find myself engrossed in that fateful night. I’ve relived it dozens of times.
It’ll always be a part of me.
But Flynn’s hands weren’t my attacker’s hands.