No One Left To Tell
Baltimore, Maryland, Tuesday, April 5, 6:00 a.m.
Paige Holden pulled her pick-up into the last parking place in the lot, a scowl on her face. Of course it was the one farthest from her apartment. Of course it was raining.
If you were back home, you’d be pulling into your own garage right now and you’d stay warm and dry. You never should have left Minneapolis. What were you thinking?
It was the mocking voice. She hated the mocking voice. It seemed to slither into her mind when she was least prepared, usually when she was most exhausted. Like now.
“Fuck off,” she muttered and the Rottweiler in her passenger seat gave a low growl that Paige took to be agreement. “If we were back home, that little kid would still be with his ho of a mommy.” Her teeth clenched at the memory, only hours old. She wasn’t sure she’d ever erase the sight of that child’s terrified face from her mind. She didn’t want to.
She’d accomplished something tonight. Someone was safe who otherwise wouldn’t be. That was what she needed to hold on to when the mocking voice intruded. The faces of the victims she had kept safe were what she needed to remember when she woke from the nightmare. When the guilt rose in her throat, choking her.
Zachary Davis would be okay. Eventually. Because I was there tonight.
“We did good, Peabody,” she announced firmly. “You and me.”
The dog pawed at the truck’s door. He’d been cooped up with her in the cab for hours, patiently waiting out the night. Doing his duty. Guarding me.
That he did so made her feel safe. That she still needed a protection dog to feel safe in the dead of night made her annoyed. That she still jumped when anyone made a sudden move pissed her off. But for now, that’s how it was and she was learning to live with it. Her friends back home told her to give herself more time, that it had only been nine months, that recovery from an assault could take years.