Good morning and welcome to another instalment of Tuesday Tales. If this is your first visit, I’m so glad you dropped by. Tuesday Tales is a weekly blog hop. Several authors post a snippet from a work in progress, not a published piece, based on a word or picture prompt. I started Hello Again back in June as my contribution to the blog. I asked my good friend, Danielle Doolittle, for a cover, and she created a masterpiece. I hope you enjoy watching Charley, Bill, and Shirley grow. Today, you’ll get your first glimpse of Raoul.
I love the regular feedback I get from the other authors as well as those not part of the blog hop itself, so please feel free to comment.
This past week has been a difficult one for all of us as we grapple with world events, trying to understand what is impossible to comprehend, and move on, suppressing the fear that would stop us from living our lives the way we want to. My American friends will celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday–we celebrate in October in Canada– and as they sit down with their families and friends, I wish them all a great day, filled with peace, happiness, love, tons of food, and last but not least, parades and football.
This week’s word prompt is NASTY. Enjoy.
Bill shifted slightly, slowly easing a sleeping Charley off his shoulder and onto the pillow. It had taken her a long time to stop crying, and while he’d wanted to say something to make her feel better, he knew those words weren’t his to say. He didn’t have the right to mouth the platitudes he’d hated when they were offered to him. They didn’t help; he knew it, and so did she.
He was all too familiar with the nasty pain of misplaced guilt. For months after the shooting, he’d had a hard time reconciling the fact that he’d survived what had turned out to be a drug bust that hadn’t taken any drugs off the street. If he’d gotten there sooner or had followed procedure and waited for back-up, he might not have been caught with his guard down like that, but the shrink and his lieutenant insisted the boy would’ve met the same end as his parents. Maria and Roberto Ruis had been executed—a bullet to the back of the head at close range. No doubt, the killers believed the boy was already dead, like him, and that had saved them from similar fates.
Raoul, whose lower left leg had been shattered by the bullet, had a prosthesis that would grow with him, and a trust fund that would ease his way, but that would never be enough to assuage Bill’s guilt. He’d become a regular visitor at the foster home, which he could see was a good one. He and Raoul were friends, visiting first in the hospital after he’d come out of the coma, and then later, when the child had been placed with the Browns. He took on the role of big brother, taking Raoul out each weekend, providing respite for Jillian Brown the foster mother, but now that she was pregnant with her second child, she wouldn’t be able to keep Raoul much longer. He’d filled out adoption papers last month, but as the woman at the agency had said, a man alone wanting a three year old boy would have to be carefully vetted and then … even with their history, it was a crap shoot as to whether or not he’d get custody. The fact that the child was Special Needs, would make it even more complex.
Bill would do whatever he could to spare Raoul growing up in the foster system, belonging, yet not belonging. If the twister had hit Regina, he hoped to hell that section of the city had been spared. He needed the Browns to keep the boy as long as they could.
Bill had been lucky. The Andersons had treated him well and kept him the entire time. Even after he’d aged out, he’d stayed with them until he finished school and was on his own, but he knew a lot of the kids got bounced from family to family. He’d met the lost and disenchanted on the streets of Regina and in the interrogation rooms at the precinct.
If he were married, legally or common law, it would make a big difference. Having Shirley living with him would help, but he seriously doubted the octogenarian would give up her home to move into a condo in Regina, and why would she? It wasn’t as if they were related or anything. If he thought he’d get Raoul, he’d buy a house, one equipped for a handicapped child, but right now, that was just a pipe dream.
Before he could even consider taking the boy home, Bill had to deal with the as yet unidentified killers. There was always a chance Raoul would recognize the men if he saw them again—the child psychologist had mentioned that while the memory of what happened might be repressed now, it could come out at any time. Raoul might only be three, but if he could identify the man who’d shot Bill, then he was a liability to the gang.
It was true the Madre Diablo gang had moved on and out of the east end of Regina, but sooner or later, unless he could stop Santana, they’d be back. While he couldn’t prove that the assholes wreaking havoc around here were the same ones who’d murdered the Ruises, his gut said he was right. In the meantime, they were terrorizing people like Shirley and other isolated ranchers, taking what they wanted, and not giving a damn about the destruction they left behind. It was a miracle no one else had been killed during their little joyriding period.
Bill stood, convinced Charley would stay asleep. He sincerely hoped she’d get some rest now. Pulling up the thin blanket on the bed, he covered her, and before he could stop himself, he bent down and placed a soft kiss on her forehead.
Why the hell did I do that?
After a stop in the bathroom, he returned to the couch Shirley had made into a bed for him and stretched out once more. It was barely past midnight. The night was eerily silent, too quiet for a man used to the city. There were no sirens, no sounds of various engines and screeching tires, no people talking under his window. He listened, waiting for the cry of an owl or some other night creature, but he heard nothing.
The sofa was a trifle short, but he’d slept in worse beds. With the animals out of the house, the lingering aromas of fresh bread and pine scented cleaner were all that remained, but the fragrance that held him in thrall was the bouquet of the shampoo Charley had used that clung to his skin where she’d wept against him. She’d felt so familiar in his arms, and as sleep embraced him, her lingering scent sent him back in time to the dreams he’d had last year, the ones that had felt more like memories than dreams.
“She’s yours, now,” a voice similar to his own echoed in his head. “You have to take care of the three of them. I chose you. Don’t let me down.”
Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales