The Project

December 3rd, 2015

“Wait, how…” I shook my head, “How do these guys even know about John?” I asked.

“I told them.” Charlie said with a nod.

I slowly walked up to one of them and whispered, “How long have you been standing there?”

“About five minutes, ma’am.” He whispered back with a straight face.

“Did you hear anything?” I asked.

The man just looked down at me and raised a brow.

“That’s just great.” I mumbled and looked at Charlie as he began to speak.

“Kate, I want to introduce you to Timothy Finn, he will be your right hand man.” Charlie said as he patted the man I just whispered to on the shoulder, “He teaches our hand to hand combat class along with our weapon defenses class.”

I gave Tim a small smile and tried to ignore the fact that I could feel my cheeks getting red.

“And this is Kirk Madden, he’s our green beret veteran” Charlie said, moving to the next guy.

“Kirk like the Captain?” I asked the vet.

He looked down at me with a small smile, his green eyes filled with humor, “Yes ma’am, like Captain Kirk.”

I nodded and moved onto the next man to Kirk’s right, “And who is this?” I asked Charlie.

“This is Brandon Mead, he’s our sniper.” Charlie said.

I raised both brows at him, “So you’re good with a gun?” I asked Brandon.

He smirked but kept looking forward, “Yes ma’am, I’m good with a gun.”

“Good to know.” I whispered to myself before I looked at the next guy.

Charlie seemed to be amused by my reactions but he just kept going. “This is Leo Schmidt and Mark Harris.” He said, nodding to the last two men, “They’re the best private investigators we have on site.”

I nodded slowly, looking at all of them as a group and then individually. They were all built lean, as if they train for strength and balance opposed to size and power.

“These men have been through our combat training program, and have worked as a team, with this team, for three years now.” Charlie informed me.

“To do what?” I asked looking over at Charlie.

“Pardon?” Charlie asked.

“Well, you say that they’re combat trained, but… for what? I mean, I thought this was just a self defense camp.” I asked confused.

Charlie took in a deep breath. I watched his chest rise and fall before he spoke, “We… have some assignments that still need tending to.” He explained.

“So you kill people? Like my parents killed people?” I asked with a frown.

“Yes, but this team I put together myself. They, as a team, have nothing to do with this camp, just some of the clientele we use to work with, and some of the training.” He explained.

I looked back over at the five men standing there and tried to understand, “How do you find the time and resources to train so many different types of people?” I asked.

“It’s a long application process with a lot of different types of training.” Charlie said, “It takes a full year to complete everything, unless they have prior training, but we prefer they don’t so we can mold them into what we need them to be. Kirk was our one exception.” He added.

“Huh.” I said taking it all in, “Well its… nice to meet you all.” I said with a nod.

“Boys.” Charlie said and that must have been their cue to leave because they all nodded me a goodbye at the same time and walked out in a line like little ducklings.

“Were we done talking to them?” I asked as I watched them leave.

Charlie nodded, “They have a schedule.” He said shutting the door behind them before he walked to his bedroom, I assumed to get dressed.

“Okay, do you just say that to sound important all the time or do they really have somewhere to be?” I yelled to him but he didn’t respond.

I grabbed a pillow and sunk into the couch, trying to remember the names and details of his team and what they did, but trying to understand everything did nothing but give me a headache.

“I need a drink.” I said to Charlie who had pulled on a pair of sweatpants and was on his way to the kitchen, “You got any whiskey?” I asked him.

“Shouldn’t it be do I have any whiskey?” He asked with a smirk.

I blinked at him, not amused.

He sighed, “I haven’t had a drink in about a year, but I might have something hidden…” He said as he rummaged through his cupboards.

“Why did you stop drinking?” I asked as I watched him search the kitchen.

He shrugged, “I didn’t know how to control it.” He said as he pulled out two pints from the back of the freezer.

“I only need one.” I said as I rested my chin on the pillow I’d been hugging.

He grabbed one glass and one pint and sat it down on the coffee table in front of me, “Take it easy with that stuff.” He ordered before taking a seat on the opposite end of the couch.

I rolled my eyes and poured myself a triple, “This isn’t my first rodeo.” I said to him as I sat back and took a sip.

He waited for a minute to speak, “What’s on your mind?” He finally asked.

“A lot.” I replied before taking another sip.

“You wanna talk about John?” He asked.

I thought about it, “I wanna talk about your girlfriend..” I said, looking over and locking eyes with him.

He let out a deep short laugh, “Is that right?” He asked, raising a brow at me.

I nodded.

“What do you want to know?” He asked.

“How long have you been dating?”

“A while…”

I took a bigger gulp, “Are you in love?” I asked.

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know, that’s why I asked.”

He sighed, “She’s in love with me, yes.”

“And you? Are you in love with her?”

He rubbed the scruff on his jaw, “It’s not that easy.”

“It’s a yes or no question, Charlie.” I argued.

“For me. It’s not that easy, for me.” He shook his head, “She’s a sweet girl, she see’s only good in me, and she does what I ask her to.” He shrugged.

“So, she’s convenient.” I said.

“In a sense.” He nodded.

“Does she train here?” I asked him as I poured myself another glass of whiskey.

“No.” He said.

“So how does she get in?” I asked with a head tilt. I was already starting to feel this alcohol. Did I eat anything today? I wondered.

“Same way you did.” He said reaching over and grabbing my ankle. He pulled me close enough to him so he could pick me up by my ass and lower me onto his lap.

“You almost spilled my drink.” I said looking down at him.

He took the drink out of my hand and set it on the side table to his right, “There.” He whispered, turning his attention back to me.

“You can’t kiss me.” I whispered down at him.

“And why’s that?” He asked, his grip getting tighter on my ass.

“I taste like whiskey.”

He shrugged, “And?”

“And you don’t drink. So when you and I part ways, and you’re laying in bed at night, thinking about me, you’ll take that whiskey and drink every drop just to remember what I taste like.” I said as I ran my finger along his bottom lip, “You’ll drink to remember when most people drink to forget…but honestly, I don’t know what’s more dangerous.” I whispered.

“Not kissing you.” He replied, “That’s more dangerous.” He said as he moved my hand away from his mouth and crashed his lips onto mine.

His kiss was rough and impatient, but grew more passionate as we relaxed against each other. His hands traveled up my back and into my hair as my hands dug at his bare chest and shoulders. I could feel the small scars on his chest but I didn’t want to break our kiss to ask him about them. I didn’t want to break our kiss to even take a breath. His grip on my body became more aggressive the longer we kissed. I could practically feel him holding back the urge to slam me on the ground and have his way with me.

Then there was a buzzing. We both slowly pulled away from each other as we heard a low vibration on the coffee table. We looked at each other and then at the phone buzzing out of control next to my pint of whiskey. Charlie leaned forward and grabbed the phone to see who it was.

“Shit.” He whispered as he checked his phone.

As I moved off his lap, I glanced down and saw he had three missed calls from a woman called Anna. Before I could ask if that was his girlfriend, there was a knock at his door.

Charlie moved quickly, he was at the door getting ready to open it before I had a thought in my head of what to say. I watched as he took in a deep breath before swinging the door open, “What are you doing here?” He asked the dark figure as he blocked the entry way so they couldn’t come in.

I stood up trying to figure out what to say. If this is his girlfriend, she is not going to be pleased with Charlie having another woman in his living room in the middle of the night.

“What do you mean, what am I doing here? I told you yesterday I was coming over tonight to talk.” A woman said pushing past him. As she walked further into the cabin her eyes settled on me and she blinked with a confused look on her face. She was beautiful, tall, dark hair, tan skin, big brown eyes, I was almost jealous. Almost.

“I didn’t know you had company…” The woman said as she took off her coat, “You must be Harmony.”

I laughed at her. Hard. “I better not look like a fucking Harmony…” I blurted out, thanks whiskey.

She blinked at me, “So, you’re not Harmony?” She asked me.

“Please stop saying that awful name.” I begged.

Charlie sighed as he shut the door, “Anna, this is my friend Kate,” He locked the door, “Kate, this is my sister Anna.”

“Sister” I said surprised as I walked over to her and shook her hand, “I didn’t know Charlie had a sister.”

“I didn’t know Charlie had a second woman, so let’s call it even.” Anna said as she dropped my hand.

“Oh were not-” I started.

She threw up her left hand, gesturing me to stop talking “Do I smell whiskey?” She asked as she walked over to the coffee table.

I looked over at Charlie, who was rubbing the scratch marks on his chest as he watched his sister drink from the open pint glass.

“Mmm… this is smooth.” She said.

“Wait so… Who’s Harmony?” I asked them.

Harmony, is Charlie’s girlfriend.” Anna said bitterly.

“And you don’t like this woman?” I asked her curiously.

“I hurt her feelings over the phone once, I don’t know.” She shrugged.

“You bitched her out, Anna.” Charlie said, folding his arms over his chest.

“Who answers the phone at seven in the morning like a god damn Teletubby?!” She yelled.

“She’s a morning person. I told her to grab my phone because I was getting in the shower.” Charlie explained calmly.

“Whatever, Charlie. She sounds like the yellow one.” She mumbled.

I looked over at Anna, “It’s weird you know that.”

She smirked.

“Well, I’m gunna go.” I said with a nod.

Charlie closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, “Anna… give us a minute.” He ordered her, and she surprisingly listened.

Anna waved bye to me and walked into his bedroom, shutting the door behind her.

He looked over at me, dropping his hands to his sides, “You’re not driving.” He said firmly.

“You’re very bossy.” I said walking over to him.

“Yes I am.” He said looking down at me.

I smirked as I ran my hands up his chest and around his neck, “I like it.” I whispered before I got up on my tiptoes and kissed him softly.

“Good girl.” He whispered against my lips as he pulled my body against his, kissing me long and hard.

After a few seconds I broke our kiss and forced myself to take a step back, “I like your sister.” I said as I walked over to the door.

“She’s…something else.” He said with a smirk as he opened the door for me and grabbed a key off the shelf. “The guest cabin is available. Sleep there tonight. You don’t need to be driving, it’s late.” He said handing me the key.

I nodded, walking onto the porch.

“Hey.” He said leaning on the door frame.

I looked back at him as I shoved the key in my pocket.

“You’re gunna be just fine.” He said with a nod.

I smiled, “Thanks.” I said as I walked off his porch and headed to the guest cabin.

***

The next morning, I woke up to my phone going off an annoying amount of times before I reached over and silenced it. I sat up confused, knowing that I didn’t grab my phone before I left Charlie’s, but then I saw my clothes laying at the end of my bed, clean.

I slowly crawled out of bed and stretched before I got dressed and grabbed my phone, listening to my voicemails. One was from Nancy, wondering if I stopped by the house, and the other was from that detective I talked to the day before. He wanted me to come down to the station as soon as possible.

“Of course.” I sighed as I shoved the phone in my back pocket and walked out of the guest cabin.

I walked over to Charlie’s and knocked twice. Anna answered the door, looking like she had been drinking all night.

“Thank god, I thought you were my father.” She mumbled before she left the door open and walked into the kitchen.

I took a step inside and put the key to the guest cabin back on the shelf, “Is Charlie here?” I asked her as I stood in the doorway.

“No, he left a while ago.” She said pouring herself a glass of what looked like OJ, “Want some?” She asked, holding up the carton so I could see what it was.

“Um…sure” I shrugged, closing the door behind me. “Did Charlie say where he was going?” I asked her as I sat on the couch.

“No, but he never does.” She said walking over to me, handing me my juice.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?” I said before taking a sip.

“I’m 25.” She said sitting in the chair across from me.

“And how old is Charlie?” I asked.

“He’s 29.” She said after taking a big gulp.

I nodded.

“How old are you? 25? 26?” She asked.

I smirked, “23.”

“Bullshit.” She laughed, “You’re the most mature 23-year-old I’ve ever met.”

I shrugged, “Just born with an old soul I suppose. Plus, with my parents dying at a young age, I didn’t really have a choice but to grow up quick.” I explained.

She frowned, “Yea, Charlie told me about that… I’m sorry.”

“He did?” I asked, surprised.

She nodded, “And about your boyfriend. You just have bad luck, girl. Stay the hell away from me.” She laughed softly.

“Yea.” I said with a small laugh, “Did he…say anything else about me?” I asked curiously.

“Listen,” She said leaning forward, “There are a few things you should know about my brother, one of them being, he’s not a relationship kind of guy.” She began, “So when he started dating that bimbo a year ago I was surprised, but after I realized he wasn’t that serious about her I just brushed it off. I mean he’s been dating the girl for a year and I still haven’t met her if that tells you anything.”

“A year…” I said looking down at my drink, “That’s a long time.”

“Yea, well, like I said, I haven’t even met her yet and Charlie and I talk every week so.” She shrugged. “Secondly, Charlie loves projects. That’s all he ever works on. He’s always building something or taking something apart or helping someone.” She explained.

“Are you saying I’m just a project to him?” I asked, setting my drink down on the coffee table.

Anna shrugged, “A broken girl who needs guidance and fixing; it sounds like his M.O.”

I nodded.

“I mean don’t get me wrong, Charlie could be crazy about you and just want to help but… I think he just see’s something that needs to be taken apart and put back together.” She said as she sat back.

“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.” I said standing up.

“I don’t exactly have a filter so I hope I didn’t come off as a bitch, you seem like a decent girl.” She said.

“No, you’re a bitch.” I said looking down at her, “But you’re an honest bitch.” I smirked.

She laughed.

“Tell Charlie I said bye.” I said walking over to the door.

She nodded, “Will do.”

“Later.” I said as I walked out, closing the door behind me.

“Ms. Fox.” A man said walking up to me. As he got closer I realized it was the security guard from the gate. “I have your keys.” He said, handing them to me with a smile.

“Ah, yes. My keys.” I said looking down at them, “Thanks.” I said as I stepped off the porch.

“I can take you to your car, if you’d like?” He suggested.

I nodded, “Sure. That’d be great.”

“Right this way…” He said as he led me towards the entrance to the camp.

 

***

 

My three-hour drive to the police station went quick. I was nervously tapping on the steering wheel the entire time, repeatedly going over the night John died in my head. I guess I was just hoping to find something new to tell him. I didn’t.

After I parked the car, I jogged up front steps to the police station and heard a woman yell, “Katherine!”

I stopped and looked around. I felt my chest sink into itself as John’s parents walked up to me in tears.

“You did this.” His mother said with a shaky voice as she pointed a long finger at me, “He would still be alive if it wasn’t for you!” She yelled.

“Alice, come on. Not now.” John’s father said as he guided his wife down the stairs, not giving me a second look.

My vision blurred and my chest got heavy. I wanted to puke. I wanted to scream. The reality of it all hit me as I ran into the police stations bathroom and threw up in one of their toilets. I felt guilty and dirty. I sat in that bathroom stall and let go of every emotion I was holding back. John was dead, because of me. He was in my apartment. In my bed. I have been using Charlie as a distraction this whole time because I didn’t want to accept that, but seeing John’s parents hit me like a ton of bricks.

After about twenty minutes of me sobbing on the bathroom floor, I stood up and pulled myself together. I washed my face in the sink and pulled my hair up in a ponytail with shaky hands. “You can do this.” I whispered as I stared at myself in the mirror before walking out of the bathroom.

I didn’t have to wait at the front to see the detective. As soon as I asked for him they took me back to a small dark room with a mirror and fluorescent lighting. I sat behind the shiny metal table they had set up and stared at the empty chair across from me until the detective walked in.

He was a short, fatter man with a crooked tie and glasses. I remember him smelling like bad cologne and cheese. I also remember him being a dick. He sat across from me and took out photos of John’s dead body, hoping to trigger something in me I suppose. Too bad for him that he just missed my pathetic meltdown in the bathroom. He asked me questions that started to piss me off like, “What are your hobbies?” and “Do you have sudden bursts of anger?”

What in the fuck does this guy think he’s going to accomplish?! I thought to myself as I stared at him. He was disgusting and a pathetic excuse for a detective. He didn’t listen to me, and just as I was about to walk out, he said something that caught my attention.

“John’s autopsy shows that he was killed with a 7-inch blade of some sort, you know anything about that? Can you think of any weapon in your apartment that might do that kind of damage?” He asked.

“Why don’t you go see if one of my kitchen knives are missing?” I said with a sarcastic tone but he shook his head.

“Nah, this weapon is thicker than a kitchen knife.” He said as he eyed me up and down.

The daggers, I thought to myself. My parents’ old daggers.

My heart started to race but I kept my cool, “Detective, this was a waste of time. Please have an actual question for me next time you call.” I said standing up. “If I think of anything, I’ll call you, but I’m not saying another word without a lawyer present.” I said looking down at him.

“Am I free to go?” I asked.

“You’re free to go.” He said standing up and opening the door for me.

“If you think of any weapon that might match John’s wounds, you be sure to contact me right away.” He said as I started to walk away from him.

I didn’t stop. I didn’t breathe. I walked out that front door and never looked back.

 

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