Cassie’s Unhappy Valentine’s Day


3. The Mystery

I went up to Zane's room to stay with him. As I open the door to walk in I hear, "Hey, Bear.". I feel a tear come down my cheek, 'cause nobody uses "Bear" anymore except Zane. I want to run to him back I don't, I just walk over to the chair that  BJ pulled up to the side of the bed and sit down. Zane takes my hand and kisses it. I really wanna cry now, but I just keep a brave face. He just whispers to me, "It's okay to cry, Bear, you don't have to be brave.".  Says the guy whose motto is "Always be brave". Regina and Sadie come in. Regina stops at the door when she sees me. Zane sees this too. I stare at the floor, I can't deal with Regina right now.

"Momma, aren't ya gonna come in?" Sadie asks as she tries to get the balloons in the room. "Maybe later, Sadie." Regina says.  Regina starts to leave when I say, "You were right. I left the station with an untrained person, no really proper equipment, no other support. I let two people off the street help in caring for your son. I let pride get the better of me. I hope you can forgive me, Regina, for the way I acted when you were just trying to tell me what I forgot to do.".  

I see tears well up in her eyes and she comes over and hugs me, then says, "Appology accpeted" she laughs when she says "Bear.". I give Zane my you-seriously-told-your -mom-my-nickname face. He smiles and says, "She asked me what she should call you.". I give a halfhearted laugh. There's one more thing people know about me; I have scars. Zane picks out a scar on my right forearm and kisses it before Regina, Sadie and I leave the room for a quick minute or two.

I stand outside Zane's room waiting for Regina to give up the nice person act and yell at me again, but instead she says, "I've got a special assignment for you,  Cassie.".  I look around as if someone is watching us and then ask, "What is it?". Regina in the quietest voice she can muster says, "I believe my son's wreck was no accident. I just talked to my brother, Riley, and he said and I quote, "I found traces of sabotage on the truck's brakes. When Zane hit that patch of ice and tried to use the brakes, the ABS (antilocking brakes) didn't kick in.". Meaning my son had very little steering control.". "So what your saying is that someone tried to kill him.".

Regina nods. Sadie slightly elbows Regina in the ribs and says, "Ask her about her  military training.". "My what?" I ask Sadie with a panicked look on my face. Could Sadie know about "Backwoods Vigilante"? I ask myself, then I tell myself no, no she couldn't. "What Sadie ment was about your military background, how much training did your father give you? ". I remember  the times when Dad and I would be outside and training for my martial arts competitons, why he trained me so hard, I'd never know until my 17th birthday.  

Flashback: "Come 'mon, Cassie! We gotta go!" I hear an "unfamiliar voice" say. I mumble, " I'ma sleep.". The Voice yells, "You'll be dead if you don't get the eff up and run.". I bolt into a sitting position and find no one in the warehouse but me, then all of a sudden I smell smoke. I get up and run to the nearest door, I try to pull it open but it won't budge and I jerk my had back. Damn it! I scold myself for one, putting my hand a hot door knob and two for not leaving with the others.

I pull my half mask over my nose and mouth to try to not inhale anymore smoke, grab my book bag and throw it on my right shoulder, and try to find a way outta here. I think over and over about all my options until I get the stupidest idea ever; jump through a freaking GLASS window. I take a knee and get a feel for my surroundings; where the matress is, where the door is, where the fire started and how bad its spread, and I finally "feel" the window twenty paces to my right. Still on my knee I take a few deep breathes then I open my eyes and take off with renewed speed.

I crash through the window and free fall for about two stories. I land on my back (I was holding my book bag in front of me while falling) and moan, "Damn, that hurt." and "Never gonna do that shit again.". I get up and take another knee; this time to assess injuries. I've got cuts are both arms and on my legs, got some cuts on my back too, No broken bones, slight gash on my forehead and across the bridge of my nose. I get up and turn to the blazing inferno that was my home before I ran away from my aunt's house and I pull up my hood.

I carefully slide my arms through both straps on the book bag and start jogging. I come around the corner of the warehouse to see that all of it's in flames and people standing in front of a house. I "sneak" closer to get a better look at the faces. It's a family, standing in front of their home. The parents look about 25 or 26, they have a seven year old daughter and a two month old baby. The seven year old spots me and runs over to me, with her parents right behind me. The seven year old says, "Can help us?". Her mother says, "Sweetie, maybe she doesn't want to." then the father says, "Jadea, listen to your mother please.".

As if someone set a fire in my mind I figure out who these people are; they're my brother's girl's sister and husband. Hoping they don't recognize my voice I say, "Jadea, what do you need help with.". Jadea, stunned by me using her name says/wails, "My doggies are still in there! Mommy wouldn't let me open the door to the basement where they are staying to save them!". I crouch and say to her, "I'll save your doggies." then her dad says, "They're pitbulls, and their names are Candy and Skittles.". Before I run to the house Jadea says, "I named them.".

I smile at her and take off running. I see some brand new book bags,  a diaper bag, and a duffle bag by the door. I stuff the diaper bag in the duffle bag, with the other book bags and head to different areas of the house grabbing things that the fire hadn't touched like the mom's laptop, books and cans of food and the little girl's and the baby's toys, stuffing them in the bags, grabbing things that they could use and need like clothes and blankets, doing the same thing as I did with the books and other items.

I hear barking and whining so I sling the duffel bag over my head and set the strap on my shoulder. The basment door won't open, so I kick it in and head towards the whining. There in a corner I see two pitbulls; a male and female, the male begins growling at me and I see why; the female is pregnant. What had Jadea's dad said there names were. "Skittles, Candy." I say to the dogs hoping they listen. They do and come forward, Skittles still growiling. I say to him, "Easy big fella, I'm hear to take your to your mommy and daddy.". Skittles stops growling and begins whimpering, like Candy.

Adjusting the bags I pick up Candy and get a warning growl. I say to Skittles, "Ready to run.". He barks and then sniffs me getting my scent. I race up the steps and back through the house. I get back to where the family is, set the duffel bag, my bag and Candy down and run back. In the girl's room on the second floor, I grab her teddy bear I forgot earlier. I'm halfway between the front door and the kitchen when some ceiling beams fall on me and then the rest of the house.

About thirty minutes later I hear shouts and barking. I feel something grab my sleeves and drag me from the rubble. I open my eyes and see two pitbulls and now Jadea and her family and the rescue workers standing over me. I sit up, my arms still folded kinda hiding the bear. Jadea is crying and telling her parents "Mr. Bearykins didn't survive".

I shake my head to clear some "cobwebs" then ask Jadea, "What does Mr. Bearykins look like?". She say, "He was a stuffed bear with a missing eye and a torn ear.". I ask her with a smile on my face realizing I had that bear in my arms, "What would you do if he did survive the fire?".

"Well, I would jump around very happy.".

I unfold my arms to reveal the stuffed bear with a missing eye and a torn ear. Jadea shrieks with joy, "THAT'S HIM! MOMMY, DADDY, THAT'S HIM! THIS GIRL SAVED HIM! OH MY GOD THANK YOU SO MUCH!".

I say, "You're welcome" from sitting on the back of an ambulance as the EMTs begin to work on covering my cuts and scratches and treating my newly aquired surprisingly first degree burns. I'm getting ready to put my tattered hoodie back on when Jadea gasps and asks as I finish putting the hoodie on and pulling my hood back up, "Where did you get those scars?".  I have my back turned to them, and then turn around when Jadea's dad scolds, "You should never a person personal things, Jadea, they may not want to relive the events.".

"It's okay," I say to her dad and then to Jadea with a wink, "I got them from being a superhero," I put my pointer finger to my lips and then whisper, "Shh, It's our secret okay?". She tells me "okay" then some people take her and her family along with the duffel bag and the dogs to a neighboring house. I'm 'bout ready to leave when two police officers walk up to me. I sigh then plead, "Don't arrest me.". They look confused and then one says,"We won't arrest you, we just have questions. First one: Who are you?". The other officer says,"Excuse my partner, he forgot to introduce us, I'm Detcetive Michael Redwing and this is Detective Riley Sanchez." I see Detective Riley's face become a shade red, then Detective Redwing continues,"Now that we are itnroduced may we know who you are?".

I can't give them my real name so I say, "I'm the Backwoods Vigilante, I was" I think about where I was and then tell them, "I was sleeping in the warehouse that originally caught fire and escaped. I came around the front of the buliding to find Jadea and her family out here" I point to the spot where I had originally found them, "Then Jadea, the little girl, spotted me and came over and asked me to help. I went in and got what she asked me before then I went back and got her bear.". Detective Riley writes what I just said down then he asks,"Do you know a girl named Cassie Martinez?". I stop breathing for a millisecond and then say, "No, er, no I don't know of a Cassie Martinez.".

I don't know if they can tell I just lied or what. Detective Redwing asks the last question, "Do you live around here or did you just move? Because nobody really does what you did.".

"I do live around here, but I can't tell" I make the same sign I gave Jadea and then say,"Because other bad guys might try to hurt me.". I think to myself after I say that; That's the stupidest excuse you've ever given

The flashback ends as quckly as it begins, then I ask Regina, "Is your last name Sanchez?". She nods "yes" not even asking the purpose behind my question. Then I tell her, "Since I was about nine or ten my dad helped me train for my martial arts competitions, I'm a level four black belt in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Okichitaw, Jeet Kune Do, S.C.A.R.S, Close Quarters Combat,  Aikido, and Judo. So what's the assignment?". 

"You're Zane's bodyguard now, whoever did this will try again.".

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