A seal upon your heart, p.14
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.14

           Pepper Pace
 

  “Sounds…like a plan.” It couldn’t really hurt to see a play with some friends. God of Carnage at least sounded like a good war story or something.

  They went inside and the ladies secured the tickets while Tim whipped out his credit card to pay. It looked like he’d be going on his first date in over twenty years this Wednesday.

  This wasn’t a pool party, but Tim began to long for a swim. He had watched his pool in anticipation for the first dip of the season and it seemed insane that there would be such an inviting pool but no frolicking.

  He chatted with Aaron Rangbo who was so boring that even Priscilla had finally drifted away. “And how is your pretty assistant working out?” He asked.

  Tim thought before answering. “She seems to be getting the hang of it. Fast learner.”

  “Claudette likes her.”

  “Mhm.” That was fairly significant. Claudette was no nonsense and didn’t bother with anyone that she deemed not worth her time. He gave the older man a close look. Aaron had never married and had been carrying on with his assistant for years.

  “Why…did you never marry?”

  Aaron didn’t answer for so long that Tim was unsure if he had even heard him. He took a sip of his drink and met Tim’s eyes. “I guess I didn’t think I’d fall in love.”

  Tim wasn’t sure what to say. Aaron was older and from a different time. But times had changed.

  When he and Aaron parted ways, Priscilla found her way back to him. She pressed a fresh beer into his hands.

  “It looks like dinner’s served. Shall we?” She asked.

  He took her arm and smiled. “Yes, I’m starving.”

  Jakob and Elaina had hired someone to do the grilling; steaks and chickens and as he ate Tim wondered what Martier was having for supper. Even though it was early evening he decided to head back home and maybe salvage some of the day.

  Priscilla seemed disappointed until they exchanged numbers. And as Tim drove home he felt a nagging guilt that he didn’t want to date her. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the woman. She just didn’t hold his interest.

  He pulled into the garage and didn’t even go into the house. He went straight out the back towards the guesthouse; the cottage, as Martier called it. He smiled to himself. She had done a lot to make the house less lonely. Saturdays were the best, after she cleaned they usually hung out together. He would slap something on the grill and she would become enthralled watching him cook. Maybe she would want to go to culinary school. He had felt bad that she couldn’t study what she wanted while at St. Bartholoma. He had looked into the tuition reimbursement program at work. He would mention it to her.

  He reached Martier’s house. It seemed hers, not his. He knocked while his eyes took in the tranquility of this section of his property. The lawn was picture perfect, Martier had transformed the garden and now it was as beautiful as ever. And the pool…it was very inviting. He couldn’t wait to take a dip in it.

  He knocked again and peered through the window. He could see that there was no movement. Martier wasn’t home. His brow creased. Well…of course she wouldn’t want to spend the day alone. She had that friend, the one that had met her after work. She was from that school as well and he remembered seeing them driving off together and feeling instantly protective; two girls from a convent out at night in the city.

  He turned and went back to the house grimly.

  Tim seldom had time to watch television and when he did it was generally sports center. He sat down with a beer and turned on the large flat screen. It automatically came up to ESPN and that is what he was doing when he heard a car pulling up to the house.

  He moved to the window in time to see a police car. It hadn’t stopped in front but had driven around back. What the…? He moved through the house and out the back door. The car had pulled up to Martier’s house. Tim’s sped up until he was almost running. His heart was thumping loudly in his chest.

  ~***~

  After sulking the morning away, Martier decided to get done with her cleaning. It was short work to clean the big house. Tim used paper plates and plastic eating utensils during the week. They pulled out actual dishes and silverware on Saturdays and she generally cleaned the dishes afterwards. Other than the kitchen, Tim never utilized any rooms other than his office and bedroom.

  Now that she’d gotten the large house in order, it was quick work to clean. Martier did her few items of laundry. Tim had offered her the use of the washer and dryer but had declined her offer to do his laundry. She still didn’t touch his room or bathroom and she understood that he still needed to keep that sanctum for him and his memories.

  When the house was cleaned and she determined that the garden didn’t need her attention, she went back to her house and took a long bath in the Jacuzzi. She smiled as she luxuriated in the tub, the radio tuned to the classic rock channel that Tim listened to. Once a song by a group called ZEPPELIN had played and he had bobbed his head and made a motion like he was playing guitar. She watched him curiously and he grinned.

  “Air guitar…um…It’s a guy thing.” Later, she had tried playing air guitar in her home but she decided that he was right. It really was a guy thing.

  She was grinning to herself when she climbed out of the tub. Did he think about her, the way she thought about him? She twisted her damp hair back and pinned it into place quickly. No, he probably didn’t. Because why would he look at a girl that was so poor that she had to wear his wife’s clothes and so clueless that she didn’t even know how to put on makeup? She was too skinny, too tall and too gawky. She didn’t walk like a model in her shoes, sometimes she found herself clunking around. And she sometimes forgot not to slouch when she got nervous.

  She put on clothes almost angrily. Here she was pining away her day for someone that was having fun at a barbecue with his friends, and for someone that would never look twice at her. She decided that she would go for a walk and get rid of some of her pent up frustration; not at Tim but at herself—for even thinking about her boss in that way.

  She put on a nice dress; not nice enough for work but nice. She decided to leave her keys and keep her door unlocked. It wasn’t likely that a burglar would try to break into her little cottage. This was probably a very safe neighborhood. Besides, she would just look at the houses for a while. She had been wanting to do that. She actually missed her long walks.

  It was still early evening and the sun had yet to set but Martier thought she would enjoy the walk much more when the houses lit up, illuminating the manicured lawns. Some of the houses looked like mansions, some like castles but none seemed as homey and comfortable as Tim’s. She had walked for about an hour but began to worry that she might get lost. She had gone up winding streets, circled cul de sacs, and now decided to find her way back to the house.

  WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP

  Martier turned and saw a police car behind her with lights flashing. She continued walking but noted that the car was following slowly behind her. She paused and waited for it to reach her, a concerned frown knitting her brow.

  An officer rolled down his window and gestured for her to come towards the car. She did.

  “You lost?”

  She blinked. “No.”

  “Well are you a maid or someone’s nanny here?”

  She gave him a surprised look. “No, I live in the neighborhood.”

  “Do you have some ID?”

  Martier frowned. “I wasn’t aware that I needed ID just to go for a walk.”

  The officer’s demeanor instantly changed. “Look lady, I’m just asking you a simple question.” She understood that. The question was very simple. She just didn’t understand why he was asking it.

  He got out the car when she didn’t answer quickly enough. “I’m going to need to see some ID.” He was shorter than her but she could see him pull himself up so that he appeared taller…though that tactic didn’t work when standing next to a woman that towered over you by two full inches.

  “I didn’t bri
ng my ID.”

  He sighed. “Where do you live?”

  Martier’s mouth opened and she felt the first tendrils of fear. She didn’t remember the address. She had never had a reason to think of the house numbers and put them to memory. All she knew is that the street was called Hendrix.

  “I’m renting a house on Hendrix.”

  He rolled his eyes and then set them on her steadily. “You’re telling me that you’re renting a house in this neighborhood?” She became angry, so angry that her eyes began to sting. She didn’t have to tell him anything. She might have been a child of Africa but she was also a citizen of the United States!

  She lifted her chin defiantly. “I didn’t do anything wrong-”

  “Okay, right now, you need to be quiet until I tell you that you can speak. Because I can see that we’re going to have a situation and I don’t want to have a situation. Do I make myself clear?”

  Her eyes darted around, but there was no one to see what was going on and she couldn’t believe that this man was talking to her like this.

  “Lady, I don’t want to ask you again. Do you understand what I’m telling you?”

  “I understand.” She whispered.

  “Now…we have a report of a suspicious looking black woman roaming the neighborhood. And you happen to fit her description.”

  She met his eyes. Suspicious looking? What was she doing that was suspicious looking? But she didn’t dare speak.

  “Now this is what we’re going to do. You’re going to get in the car and we’re going to drive to this house that you’re supposedly renting. When we get there you’re going to show me your identification. And if you’re lying to me, then we will have a major problem. Do you understand?”

  This time she couldn’t even speak. Her throat had closed and all she could do was nod once.

  The officer placed Martier in the back seat and for a few moments she wondered if he was really going to take her home or to jail. Maybe he wouldn’t even take her to jail. Maybe he’d do something bad to her and then dump her body so that no one would know that he’d profiled her. She knew what it was called and she knew that it was racist and against the law. He asked her for directions and she realized that her hands were clenched tightly as she whispered the directions because her voice had almost completely disappeared.

  “Wow, you picked a good one.” He said mockingly as he pulled onto Tim’s property. “Nice big house that you rent here, lady.”

  “You have to drive around back.” The cop didn’t comment again but her brow felt damp with nervous sweat. The sun would soon be setting and she didn’t want to be alone in her cottage with the police officer. She wished that Tim was home. She wished with all of her heart but he would be sitting down to eat barbecue with his friends right now.

  The officer pulled up to the cottage but before he got out he looked at her curiously. “Like I said, we got a report of a suspicious looking black lady. You kind of made this a bit harder than it had to be by smarting off when I asked for your ID.”

  She searched her mind for when she’d smarted off. He got out his car and opened the door for her.

  “Martier?!” She looked up in surprise to see Tim sprinting across the yard towards them. The officer quickly placed his hand on the butt of his gun, not as if he would draw it but as if he wanted to make sure it was still there. Martier didn’t miss the motion and at the same time that she felt relieved to see Tim’s approach, a sudden fear simultaneously gripped her.

  “Who are you, Sir?” The officer asked while holding up his hand to keep him at a distance.

  Tim ignored the cop completely and took Martier by the shoulders.

  “What happened? Are you okay?”

  Tim’s heart was beating a mile a minute. Martier just gave him a lost look but he could feel her trembling he pulled her carefully into his arms and gave his attention to the cop.

  “What happened?”

  “Are you the owner of the house?”

  “Yes I am.” Tim looked at the cop’s badge. “Officer Lewicki. What’s going on?”

  “Does this girl live here? Is she renting this house from you?”

  Tim frowned and shrugged. “Yes she is. What seems to be the problem, officer?” he looked down into Martier’s face and her eyes were too bright and she still hadn’t spoken but he noted that she avoided looking at the police officer completely. Her posture was stiff even though she leaned in to him and he realized that she was terrified.

  “I’ll leave the girl in your custody, sir. She was roaming the neighborhood and there was a report that she was acting suspiciously.”

  A flush moved up Tim’s body in understanding. “I see. In what way was she acting suspiciously?” Martier suddenly looked at him and he met her look, passing on a silent message. He didn’t believe the cop for a second. She seemed to relax a bit; at least she wasn’t trembling anymore.

  “Well, when questioned about her identification she became hostile and I was forced to bring her here to retrieve it-”

  “Hostile?” She said blinking. Tim gave her shoulder a quick squeeze trying to let her know that he didn’t believe a word.

  “I find that highly unlikely.” Tim spoke. The police stiffened and his face reddened. “What probably happened is that you saw a black woman walking down the street in this neighborhood and you’re the one that got suspicious. Officer, you cannot imagine how many cases I’ve tried supporting the fourteenth amendment; and won.” The officer’s face immediately went from red to a very pale as he began to put two and two together.

  “Indeed, I am an attorney. I’ll need your badge number.” The officer slowly handed Tim a card.

  “She didn’t have any identification on her-” he attempted to explain.

  “This isn’t apartheid South Africa. And the days when blacks have to carry papers ended a long time ago-”

  “Race?” Lewicki said in feigned innocence. “It was suspicious that a girl her age said that she was renting a house in this neighborhood-”

  “And you felt the need to ask her that question because…why? Oh! She was acting suspiciously. Your superior can expect a call from me Monday morning.” Tim narrowed his eyes at the officer when he still didn’t retreat to his car and Martier tensed again. “You would be with District 47…That would be James McPherson. I actually have his number on speed dial.”

  Lewicki quickly got into his car and sped away. Martier slipped from his arms and crossed her arms in front of her, rubbing her elbows nervously.

  “He didn’t put his hands on you did he?” Tim had to fight for control to even ask that question. Because if he had touched her…

  “No.” She said quickly.

  Tim let out a tense breath. He was so angry that she’d been treated in this way, and angry that she looked so hurt. He intended for Lewicki to pay dearly.

  “Are you okay?”

  She wouldn’t meet his look. “I’m okay.” She said simply then rubbed her elbows again. She didn’t look okay; far from it. She reached for the door. “I’m going to go inside. I’m kind of tired.”

  “Yeah,” He said after a brief hesitation. “Goodnight, Martier.”

  “Night.”

  Then the door closed soundly behind her. Tim went back to his house. He went directly to his office and logged into the firm’s database. He retrieved the card he had. Officer Patrick Lewicki. He ran the name to see if he or his firm had ever had a case against him.

  Martier locked the door. She went into the kitchen and locked that one as well. Then when she felt safe she stopped rubbing the goose bumps from her arms. She couldn’t stop shaking even though she was damp with sweat. She went upstairs and stripped out of her clothes to just underwear and climbed into bed where she shivered until she fell asleep.

  CHAPTER 20

  “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Martier made the sign of the cross and bowed her head. “Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my la
st confession.”

  “Why so long, child?” Father Ashton asked.

  It didn’t matter if she was behind a curtain. The priests at St. Francis knew her and all of the girls from St. Bartholoma.

  “I moved out of the school.” Father Ashton waited. “And I was angry. I didn’t want to face the sisters.”

  “I see. Go on.”

  Martier confessed her sins which consisted of being envious of Dhakiya and Rodney, of having an inappropriate dream, of gluttony-

  “Hold on,” The priest interrupted, “Inappropriate in what way?”

  Martier squirmed on the hard bench. “I…I had a dream about my boss Tim.”

 
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