I slept with Maize that night. Not the embrace of lovers but true sleep wrapped in his arms.
The air was cool when I woke and a layer of dew lay everywhere, including on the exposed bits of my skin. Shivering with the chill I snuggled closer to Maize, luxuriating in his warmth. He stirred and nuzzled the back of my neck sighing. I smiled but that smile quickly turned to a giggle as the rasp of his stubble began to tickle. I pulled away slightly but didn't make it far before he squeezed me tight bring me back close to him. "Where do you think you're going?" he asked preceding to nuzzle me once again. I squirmed and wiggled trying to make good my escape but I was laughing to hard to be very convincing. "Away from that scruff on you chin!" I gasped out. "Not by the hair on my chinnie chin chin." he said doing his best to rub his rough face over any exposed surface he could find. Squealing I fought him as best I could. His arms were strong and I could tell he wasn't using his full strength in the struggle. Finally a lucky elbow jab to the stomach caused him to grunt and loosen up enough for me to roll over onto my back.
He quickly recovered and rolled to face me pinning me gently to the ground. "You won't get away that easy." His voice was low and husky as he looked deep into my eyes. I held his gaze seeing the longing that was so close to the surface. This time as he moved to kiss me I didn't pull away.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Awhile later, and considerably more rumpled looking, I was being walked to the door by the man I never thought I would know half a well as I now did.
"See you tonight beautiful." he said pecking me gently on the cheek before turning and walking away. I giggled like a school girl and waved enthusiastically as I watched him leave. The second he drove away I heard the door open behind me and I was yanked inside. Instantly on guard my heart speed up, how is it that I still feared the reproof of my parents although I was a grown woman. To my intense relieve it was only Moon.
"Was that Maize Treacle I saw kissing you?" "Um, you saw that did you?" "Uh, ya! What on earth happened? I mean I thought Malt..." "Is married." I said cutting her off. I could hear the anger in my tone and the venom not far behind it. Her eyes widened at this but reading me as well as she always did she didn't press the subject. Changing the subject she narrowed her eyes at me. "Are those leaves in your hair?"
My hand flew to my hair even as my cheeks flushed red. Her expression went from shrewd to surprised in an instant when she saw the colour rush to my face. "No!" She exclaimed. "You didn't? You and Maize?" I could only nod my assent not trusting my voice. Grabbing my hand she began to drag me deeper into the house. "Tell me everything!"
The enthusiasm in her voice was more than clear and I was dying to tell her anyway so I let her pull me along. We had only gone a matter of steps, however, when I heard something slip under the door. A plain white envelope with no stamps was resting on the floor just inside the entrance. Intrigued I pulled away from Moon and bent to pick it up.
Written out in the style of an old type write was my name. The envelope bore no other markings and heedlessly I ripped it open eager to see what it contained.
I stared at the words trying to make sense of them. Was this a threat? I could hardly believe it. The 'case' that I was supposedly working on had been sitting on the back shelf to my emotional issues. SO I could hardly be considered a danger. "Mint?" I could hear Per's voice on the edge of my consciousness. "Mmmm?" "Mint what is that?"
He snatched the paper out of my hands and when I lunged to take it from her she held it just out of reach. Glancing at it he paled. "Mint this is crazy. We have to get this to the police. Not only is someone threatening you but this proves that someone was trying to hurt Flax." At the mention of the police my brain snapped into hyper drive. The police! Why didn't I think of them before! They could track this letter down and maybe provide some answers about the opiates.
"Per you genius!" Grabbing his arm I started towards the door. "Hang on why do I need to go?" "Silly," I chided still moving forward. "Your fingerprints are all over that thing. You need to come so they can take yours and rule you out." Looking at the paper with a disgusted look he held it between two fingers and shook it as if to knock the offending finger prints off. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The trip the police station was uneventful and finally, tired of just sitting around waiting for test results, we left.
True to his word to her, Per never went anywhere without Nilla at his side. I still considered it a conflict of interest. Not only was she the sister of the victim but she was working also for the lead suspect. Per didn't listen to any of that, becoming temporarily deaf when the subject of Nilla came up and getting a look in his eye that I dared not cross.
We parted company there. The look they were giving each other wasn't one that invited a third person to the group. Inspired by the tidbits I got out of the police officers I headed to the library to see what I could dig up.
I didn't have the first clue where to start so I pulled up anything I could find on opiates. I had no idea there was so much out there and soon I was engrossed. I couldn't tell you how much time had past as I clicked my way through the links. There was no logic to my searching I just followed whatever popped up and took my fancy. I was only distracted by the ringing of a phone. I looked up, surprised, trying to see who was rude enough not to have turned their phone off in a library.
The glances of the people around me were just as annoyed as I was but they seemed to all be staring at me. Guiltily I reached into my pocket and pulled out my ringing phone. Embarrassed I ducked out the door mutter apologies as I went.
Night had fallen and it was dark as I stepped outside and huddled under a patch of light as I answered. "Hello?" There was silence on the other end but it didn't sounds like it was dead. "Hello?" I asked again this time with a bit of wariness in my voice. The silence on the other end was broken by deep and raspy breathing. Whoever it was didn't say anything just stayed there on the other end of the line. "Who's there? I can hear you!" Whoever it was continued they're rhythmic breaths for a moment more before the phone clicked and went dead.
That was odd. I stared at the phone confused and a little uneasy. In fact I was so unsettled that when my phone vibrated in my hand I jumped my heart racing. Hesitantly I looked at the screen but as I did so I smiled. It was a text from Maize. You still own me that coffee ;) Meet you at Starberry's in 20 mins. Grinning from ear to ear now I shoved the phone in my pocket and headed out to meet my date. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The next few days passed in a blur. While the sun was up I was busy running between the hospital, the library and the police station gather any answers I could about the poison and it's source. The nights though...the nights were busy in a different way.
The more time I spent with Maize the more I longed to spend. I wasn't in love, yet, but I could feel myself heading dangerously down that path. The only dark spot in my otherwise bright days was the constant ringing of the phone. Since the first disturbing call I had now receive dozens more. At all hours of the day and night with no pattern at all it rang and worse still they had started coming at home as well as on my mobile. I was constantly on edge, jumping at the slightest sound. There was no words spoken just the sound of breathing, but that was enough. It was nearly a week later that I received a call that brought relief. The police had some information about the threat that had been slipped under the door. Grabbing a jacket I headed to the door when the house phone rang
Assuming it was the police I picked it up eagerly. "Hello?" It was the breather. Slow and steady the sound came and this time it annoyed me. "Look whoever you are you're not scaring me. A little mouth breathing never hurt anyone so just back of and get a life!"
This time he didn't hang up. In a muffled and obviously disguised voice he said, "Do not go to the police station if you know what's good for you. You have been warned." At that he hung up leaving me truly shaken. It was the first time he had spoken. Not only that be he used the same words that were in the note, you have been warned. Nervously I hesitated but I wasn't one to let a simple phone call stop me. The police were able to tell me that the paper was fairly rare and of good quality. Although they could get no useable prints from it they did give me the results of all the tests they ran as a gesture of good will. Armed with this new information I headed out into the night.
The night was cooler than expected and my light jacket did little to warm me. I had parked some blocks from the station to cheap to pay for the parking closer to the door. As I walked I ran through what I had learned. So far we knew both the paper and the poison were rare, hard to get a hold of and not something you would find in the neighbourhood shop. It wasn't much but it was a start. As I continued down the road I slowly became aware of the sound of footsteps behind me. Still on edge I turned to reassure myself that it was nothing.
The road behind me was empty and in the darkness I felt a shiver run down my spine. Hunching further into my jacket I hurried my pace. I had not gone two steps before they returned somehow sounding closer this time. Once again I whirled to confront the owner and once again I was alone. Thoroughly spooked now I start towards the car nearly breaking into a run in my hurry. I rounded a corner catching sight of my objective. Breathing a sigh of relief I began digging in my pockets for my keys when I heard them again. This time they were running, rushing at me from the side.
I looked up and into the fist of my attacker. He hit me, a glancing blow, on the side of my face just missing my nose as I flinched back in surprise. Dazed I stumbled to the ground. I could feel him ruffling through my pockets but the world was spinning too much for me to do anything but feebly push at his arms. He found the paper with the results of the tests then leaned closely in. His breath stank and he spoke, "You were warned." And with that he was gone. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I made my way home head smarting and still wobbling ever so slightly. Moon was waiting for me and looking a bit cross.
"What on earth is the matter with you?" "Just a headache," I muttered. I didn't want to tell her the cause of the headache it would only worry her. Besides I was fine, mostly. "Well no wonder you have a headache. You spend every day hunched over a computer somewhere. And I hardly see you any more," she complained pouting prettily. "If you're not behind a computer you're out with Maize."
"Sorry. I know I've been neglecting you. It's a horrible thing for a twin to do and I'll make it up to you, I promise." "Good!" She said brightening up at once. "Get changed. We're going out!" I tried to protest but she wasn't having it and I did owe her. The club was crowded and after a couple of drinks I was more than happy that I had come out. That's when I spotted him.
Emboldened by my new friend strawberry daiquiri I made my way over to his side. "You!" I said pointing a finger that seemed to sway slightly more than I intended at his partly bare chest. "You are everywhere and I want to know what you are up to." "And you," he said placing his hands on my shoulders steadying me. "Are drunk."
"Nothing of the sort!" I protested staggering as I attempted to get out of his grip. "You are also," he tightened his grip and pulled me closer. "Very beautiful."
His lips crushed into mine before I could move away. Unlike his name he was full of heat and passion, it was almost animal. It was intoxicating in an entirely different way than I had every known before and something within me stirred, responded to him. I didn't intend to but I began kissing him back, fiercely. It was the last thing I remembered.