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Chas’s Fervor(10)

By:Chiah Wilder

When her weeping aunt had called Addie at college with the tragic news, her brain had frozen. She couldn’t comprehend what her aunt had told her; the only thing that registered was that her parents were dead, and she was twenty-one years old and alone.

For several years, her parents’ murder haunted her dreams. In their appointment book, there was one name listed as a potential buyer on the date they were killed. They were robbed of all their jewelry, gold bars, and cash, then they were each shot with a single bullet to the head. The jewelry never appeared on the black market and their four o’clock appointment—Carl Jergensen—disappeared without a trace.

Even though her parents had left her financially well-off, the raw ache she’d experienced dealing with it all alone made her decide that when she married, she’d have a large family. She often wondered if the reason she’d married Ian shortly after she’d graduated college was because she’d been heartbroken, and his vivacious personality had made her feel alive again. Her parents had met Ian a few times, but they’d disapproved of the twelve-year age difference between the two, and they hadn’t trusted him. They’d kept telling her there was something about him that rubbed them the wrong way, but they couldn’t put it into words.

After their murder, Ian’s love of life whisked her off her feet and gave her back the sense of security and belonging that had been destroyed the day she’d lost her parents. Once again, she had someone to love and lean on. After a small wedding and exquisite honeymoon on the Greek Islands, they returned to Chicago and settled in their high-rise penthouse condo. Addie had never been happier and prayed she’d become pregnant soon so they could start a family.

In her wildest dreams, she’d never imagined she’d be running for her life from Ian and the police. Instead of hiding out in a town in the Rocky Mountains, she should’ve had two children by now and been helping them with their school activities. How her life had changed in the last few years.

“Hello, Ms. O’Leary. How are you?” Jack’s feet pattering on the floor pushed the memories to the back of her mind.

She looked up from the reading table and smiled as he ran toward her—he was such a cute boy. “Hello, Jack. How was school?”

“It was pretty cool today, ’cause we got to see a movie about lizards and stuff.”

“Sounds pretty interesting. And from the last book you read, I’m sure you know a lot about them.” She looked over Jack’s head and spotted him as he came through the main door, his dark hair messed up by the strong wind. The minute he stepped inside, he zeroed in on her, his black eyes practically staring a hole through her. Despite the warmth in the library, she shivered.

Walking next to him was a tall, busty blonde dressed in skintight jeans and a tighter sweater. Numerous silver bangles, rings, and chain necklaces seemed to weigh her down. Above her cleavage, tattoos of butterflies and tiny flowers colored her skin. She was pretty, and had the figure of a model except for the large breasts. Self-conscious, Addie wished she hadn’t eaten the whole plate of cheese and crackers the previous night. Each extra calorie she consumed always went to her hips. Sometimes, she wished she had less curves and more height. At five-foot-four, she always had to wear high heels to look good in her longer skirts and pants. The blonde, pretty and sexy, was a good match for the gorgeous and built Chas.

“Jack, get back here!” the blonde yelled.

Jack escaped behind the book stacks about lizards and dinosaurs.

Standing up from her chair, Addie extended a hand to the woman, flashed a smile full of teeth, and greeted warmly, “Hi, I’m Ms. O’Leary, Jack’s reading instructor.”

Ignoring Addie’s outstretched arm, Brianna looked her up and down, tossed her head, and said with disdain, “I’m Mrs. Vickers, Jack’s mother. So, you’re the one taking up all of Jack’s free time.”

As anger surged through Addie, her body tensed, and a desire to scream at this rude woman took hold of her. Swallowing hard, she bit her tongue, lowered her hand, and said sweetly, “Yes, I’m the coordinator and instructor for the after-school reading program. Jack has improved in just the short time he’s been with me. I know you must be proud of him and his progress.”

A flush crept across Brianna’s cheeks as she threw a look at Chas. Hard, flinty eyes met hers. Rubbing her neck, she replied, “Of course I am.”

“Good, I’m glad we’re on the same page with helping Jack develop stronger reading skills. Let’s go into one of the reading rooms.” She directed the tall, obnoxious blonde and the sexy biker toward a room with glass walls. Inside, there was a pressed wood table and six chairs.