|Case Files: Quinby Xander Book the Second- Aaron Stafford: Innocent
Author: Sabrina Jennings PM
Second Book in the Quinby Xander series. Quinby is now working for Salisbury and Ashton, Attorneys at Law. When a young man is accused of murdering his former girlfriend, she investigates to prove his innocence. Unfortunately, all signs point to him, but Quinby believes in him. Even more unfortunately, someone doesn't like that. Christian Fiction Please Review.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Crime/Suspense - Chapters: 15 - Words: 33,015 - Updated: 03-23-13 - Published: 12-08-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3081315
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I slammed the door behind me. He did not follow. I realized about halfway down the stairs that I hadn't grabbed my cane. I held tight to the railing to keep from falling. By the time I reached my car, I was crying. Zen and I never used to fight like this. I had no idea that I harbored that kind of resentment toward him. Sure, I'd wished he were home more often- countless times I had prayed that he would show up at my door, especially in those dark days right after Ted died and I had what would likely have been diagnosed as a nervous breakdown. But never had I thought I was angry with my brother. I guess I'd been keeping it buried all these years.
I was approaching the area where I was to meet Aaron, so I had to stop thinking about it so I could quit crying. I pulled off the road, got out of the car, grabbed my flashlight, and started down the embankment. "Aaron?" I walked a few more feet. "Aaron?" I crested a small rise and saw the shed he had mentioned below. I picked my way carefully through the low brush lest I damage my already throbbing knee any worse. I banged on the door. "Aaron?" no response. "Aaron, it's Quinby Xander, open the door." I shooed away the mental images of what might be waiting me on the other side should the wrong person have come along and found him there. Selfishly, I cringed at the thought of having to break the door down. It swung open. Aaron was wearing a gray Hollister hoodie and a pair of faded jeans smeared in mud. His eyes stood out large on his pale face.
"Come on, let's go. I don't want to be out here any longer than necessary."
"Okay, let me grab my stuff." He turned back inside and reappeared a moment later with a green Army surplus duffle not unlike the one Zen had dragged into my apartment earlier. We didn't talk until we were in the car and I had pulled out on the road. Instead of immediately turning toward home, I drove down to the next exit. I wanted a little more time to interrogate my client.
"Okay so we know how your fingerprints got on Kennedy's car. What do you know about Arnold Owens?"
I chose not to correct his grammar. "Her new boyfriend." You know the one you supposedly murdered?
"Next to nothing." My companion replied, "I mean, I saw him at her house that day, but other than that I'd never heard of him."
"What about Robert Irwin?"
"Who in the world is that?"
"Arnold was staying at his house; they went to school with you."
"Quinby there are 10,000 people who go to my school. I don't know all of them."
"Look, it was just a question, settle down." I decided that he wasn't going to be very helpful and headed back towards my apartment. Zen was sitting on the couch when we walked in. evidently he'd been busy while I was gone. The table was cleared and the dishes put away. I guess he had done something with the leftover lasagna too. I didn't see it anyway. He looked from me to Aaron and back, and then raised his eyebrows.
"Aaron, this is my brother, Zen Clarkson. Zen, this is Aaron Stafford. He's going to be staying with us for a while."
"You got a sleeping bag in there?" Zen asked, nodding at Aaron's bag.
Two streets over, the bells on the Catholic Church chimed the hour. Half- past ten already, and I still needed to shower. "If you gentlemen will excuse me, I'm going to bed." Kind of cruel of me, I suppose, sticking Zen with Aaron, but I was still kind of mad at him over what happened earlier. I knew though that I could trust him to keep Aaron from running away.
After I showered and blow-dried my hair, I donned my fuzzy Angry Birds Space pajamas and slid into bed. The next morning I had just started making coffee when the door opened and Zenas came inside. He was breathing somewhat heavily, and his cheeks were pink with cold. Grudgingly I had gotten dressed in my pink cashmere sweater and gray wool skirt and fixed my hair before leaving my room. I prefer to drink my first cup of coffee in my pjs while looking out the window, but with two men in the house, that was out of the question.
"Where have you been?" I asked quietly as my brother entered the room after shedding his boots and coat.
"I went for a run." He sent what I would have described as a longing glance at the coffeemaker. "Is that almost done?"
"A run?" I opened the cupboard and retrieved two mugs. "Isn't it a little cold for that?"
"Got to stay in shape. Besides, I was awake at four, so I figure why not?"
I laughed softly. "You're crazy." The coffee finished brewing and I poured us each a cup.
"Makes me more loveable, eh?"
I laughed again, "Sure." I took a swig of my coffee and swallowed. "Listen, Zenny, about last night,"
"Let's drop it."
Well, that was a productive idea. Not! "I'm really sorry I yelled at you. There was no call for that." I paused, "I never knew that I was angry about it. All those feelings came out of nowhere, I…" he hadn't said anything yet, just kept looking at me. "Zen, the things I said to you last night, and the way I yelled, I was wrong. I should never have done that. I'm sorry, can you forgive me?"
I was crushed. "Okay," I set my mug down and walked toward the hallway. I needed to put on my shoes and makeup before I left for work.
He laid a hand on my shoulder. "Quinby," I looked up, hoping he wouldn't see the tears in my eyes. "You were right," he intoned softly, "Last night I mean. I was a world-class fool to think you would welcome my interference after all these years." I started to protest, but he shushed me. "I gave up my right to express an opinion by not coming home when you did need me. I'm sorry. I wish I could rewind the clock, make things right, but life doesn't work that way, so I guess I'll have to say I'll try to do better from now on- even though you don't need me anymore."
I reached up and gently touched his cheek. "Zenny, I'll always need you." He wrapped an arm around me in a hug, and I let go of the tears I'd been holding back. Goodness, what was wrong with me lately?
"Quinby, please, don't," I cried harder, "Quinby…Quinby this is a clean shirt."
I laughed, then sobbed, and almost choked. "It was a clean shirt." I said after I managed to regain control of myself. I brushed at the rather noticeable wet spot. "Sorry about that. I don't know what came over me."
He rolled his eyes. "And to think I'd been wondering why I stayed away for ten years." I punched him in the arm. "Ow!" he frowned. "While you're feeling so generous, I'm going to take the risk of suggesting you let me drive you to work. There's about four inches of slush out there. I helped push one of your neighbors out."
"That's fine. We probably need to leave in the next hour. I'll let you wake up Aaron."
"Why are we taking him?"
"I don't want to leave him here by himself."
"What is he supposed to do while you are at work? Sit in the waiting room and read outdated magazines?"
"Uh," I chuckled nervously, "I was actually hoping you would drive him home after dropping me off."
"You want me to babysit for you?" Zen asked, raising an eyebrow. "You're kidding."
"Please Zenny," I begged. He appeared un-swayed. "I'll make you breakfast if you do."
"Bribery?" I nodded. "We aren't talking cold cereal, are we?"
"Ham and eggs." I promised. "If you wake him up now." Zen vanished and I started cracking eggs. On impulse I sliced some apples and fried them with butter and sugar. They were starting to get mushy anyway, so I might as well get rid of them.