"It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood." - Macbeth
I heard a faint noise in the distance. I was still dwelling within the depths of sleep though, so the sound melted into my dreams. It was a small dinging noise that sounded very familiar to me. As the noise continued, I noticed it was getting louder and louder. Finally I realized I was waking up to the noise of the phone.
I grumbled and hugged the blanket closer to me, shivering from the mroning's cold touch. My lips strained against a yawn that had found its way out. I heard Nathan's voice and I was slowly finding myself being calmed by his deep voice and falling asleep again. As I listened to his hushed voice, I noticed that the tone he had wasn't a very soothing one at all.
Concerned, I opened my eyes and looked around the room for him. Nathan was standing in the hallway, his voice echoing quietly off the tile flooring. Gravity gripped onto the corners of my lips and tugged it into a frown. I could tell there was something wrong. I sat up and threw the blanket away from me, regretting it the moment the cold kissed my bare skin.
He was staring at the picture on the wall as if he were trying to figure out who was standing with him in it. The phone was pressed against his ear with a trembling hand and a strained expression on his face. I got up and grabbed one of Nathan's shirts from the back of the chair, slipping the gray t-shirt over my head before walking down the hall. The cold tile sent a shocking shiver up my petite frame and I almost wanted to run back and hide from the morning under my covers.
"Sorry to hear about that Chief Hampton... I'll be right there." His eyes glanced sideways at me and he quickly threw his finger to the end button. He turned to me and I saw his strained features soften to the more loving ones I was familiar with. He came over and hugged me tightly around my waist. A sigh left his lips and brushed gently across my neck.
"Why'd the chief call?" my question seemed to trouble him. He lifted his head and looked at me, no longer with a smile on his face. His eyes looked like they were fighting back tears as they glistened in the morning light. The expression sent my heart deep into my stomach, and Nathan noticed my change in emotion; he tightened his grip.
"Sandra was killed last night..." He looked away after that, a frown poisoning his features. "They think it might be gang related." I sharply inhaled my shock, making breath race past my lips. I forced Nathan's arms from my waist and stepped away from him. He looked at me with a concern that deepened the depths of his gray eyes.
"Our neighbor's wife? Where?"
"She was on her way to the store-"
"That's right down the road!" The thought of gang members being so close to home send a chill down my spine. My stomach churned with unease and I placed the heal of my hand on my forehead to calm my spinning head. My heart was racing, but when Nathan grabbed my hand I could feel the chill thawing from his warmth.
"Breath Sky. You don't have to worry." His words were strong and warm with affection, but I couldn't help shake this feeling of fear that crept through me.
"Not worry? Someone was killed right down the road from our home!" I shook my head, trying to take my hand out of his but his grip only tightened. He pulled me closer and cupped my cheek with his other hand.
"You have nothing to be worried about, the police will-"
"Nathan, you don't understand! How are we suppose to raise a child so close to this kind of violence?" Nathan's mouth opened slightly, but then he went over my words carefully. The room was silent, and his eyes grew wide enough to nearly touch his hairline. I stood there stiffly, but wasn't sure why. I finally got to announce he good news, but not really in the way I wanted to. Finally I saw a change in his face that scared me. He was clearly very conflicted about something, and his next words made me believe he finally understood my worry.
"I promise I'll protect us." A smile started to soften the hard lines of his worried face. He grabbed my shoulder gently and a laugh burst out of his lungs like a caged animal being set free.
"When did you find out?" The excitement was shining in his eyes. his gaze shot down to my stomach and then back up to my brown eyes. I laughed, the dangers of the world temporarily forgotten.
"Just a few days ago... I was going to tell you last night, but I kind of fell asleep." His smile grew into what I thought was a fatherly one. He gently kissed me and was clearly trying to avoid bumping or even touching the home of our growing child. He pulled away from me and moved a strand of hair behind my ear. His smile wasn't as bright anymore, and I knew that our moment of joy was over.
"I have to go check the crime scene. The DA sent the Lab team on a big case up state." My own smile broke slightly. I figured he needed a smile. I nodded and moved to let him pass.
"Promise to come shopping for her later?" Nathan smiled again as he grabbed his keys from the table.
Nathan walked over to the yellow crime tape as he danced with the slight breeze. When asked for a badge, he realized something about the moment. The dancing tape stood against him and the future for his family. By crossing this border, he could put his family at a bigger risk than if he just went right back home to Skylar. The chief came to the officer and patted his shoulder.
"Let him thought. He's here from the lab." The officer nodded and lifted the tape for Nathan to go under. In less than a minute he was over the border. Nathan straightened his worn, leather jacket as Chief Hampton began speaking.
"This looks pretty sloppy. That's why we guessed it's gang related." Nathan followed Hampton to the sidewalk, and felt his stomach churn at the sight.
Sandra's body was laying face first on the sidewalk. The morning sun glinted off the scarlet mess that she was swimming in. From this angle a fatal wound wasn't seen. The blood did looks to be coming from the neck and stomach though Nathan's throat tightened as an image of Sky flashed across his mind.
"I'll see what I can do," he turned away from the body and looked at Hampton. "Will I get access to the crime lab?" Hampton nodded and patted Nathan's shoulder with such force it nearly threw him off balance.
"And we need to get you a temporary badge." He turned and began walking away. Over his shoulder he spit back a few words.
"But I want you at the station for debriefing." Nathan sighed, making Hampton turn around. "What?"
"I can't go after this. I promised Sky I'd go shopping." Hampton gave him a stern look, but shook his head with a smile.
"Just stop by before nightfall will you?" Nathan nodded and turned to the body again. The image flashed across his mind again. Skylar's face, covered in blood and looking up at the sky without the shine of a soul in them. He shook the image out of his head and stepped over to the body.
He put a pair of gloves on that one of the officers had handed to him. With an officer's help, he had the body flipped over to expose the wounds and face. The body was stiff, making the time of death more than three hours ago. The sun had baked the body, also making the temperature of the body a difficult source of information. He sighed, looking at his neighbor's face.
"I'm sorry Sandra..." Again the sight in front of him was replaced by the image in his head. He was no longer looking as Sandra's face, but at Skylar's. Her brown eyes were black without their usual shine in them. Her face was covered in blood that clumped in her blond hair. A slender line of cracked brown scarred the side of her face as it started from her mouth and landed on the pavement.
Nathan quickly shook the images from his mind. He started to think he was just paranoid, his mind playing tricks on him. There was no way this could have happened to Skylar, but then again it could have. what if he wasn't there last night, and went to the University like he originally planned? Would this have been her if he didn't go home last night?
It had to be paranoia. After examining the body and getting whatever samples he could, he gave the officers a green light for getting the body to the morgue. He watched them put the body bag onto a stretcher and take it off the scene. He couldn't shake the feeling of dread as he watched the crime scene van take it away. Before the images could surface, he quickly distracted himself with his cell phone.
"I'm on my way." He said into the phone. He smiled as his wife's voice came to life on the phone.
"Finally. I was about to leave without you." The laughter in her voice warmed Nathan's insides. The feeling returned though, and he shook the ice from his spine.
"It was only a few hours, and it was right down the road." He didn't need to be there to know she was rolling her eyes. He imagined the eye roll that complemented that playful grin of her she got when she was trying to be angry with him.
"I see you. Get washed up though. I don't want any kind of police cooties in the house." Nathan laughed as she hung up. He walked up to the door and placed his hand on the doorknob. He heard a dog bark nearby and looked towards the noise. A dog across the street was barking at a tree. Nathan laughed from his throat, guessing there was a cat in it. He opened the door and walked inside to his smiling wife.
"I know, I know... I'll wash up and then we'll leave." Nathan went to the kitchen and washed his hands. Even though he had gloves on at the crime scene, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was blood on his hands. It was almost like he could feel it staining his skin. He washed his face and loved the refreshing feeling it gave him.
He couldn't shake the images from his head though. They haunted his memory as if it really happened, making him feel conflicted. He felt Sky place her hand on his shoulder and he almost flinched from surprise. He looked at her and noticed she was forcing a smile on her worried features.
"Come on, let's get going." He said, grabbing her hand and walking to the door. He grabbed his hat and wallet as she grabbed the car keys. He smiled at her and then left the house without another worry. Sky was very real and right in front of him, and he wouldn't let these haunting images blind him from that reality.