“Why don’t you take a break,” she suggests, nodding toward the door that leads outside. “Answer that call and deal with whatever you need to. This can wait a little longer.”
Really it can’t, but it’s going to have to.
“Yeah!” Kelly calls out. “Take all the time you need, honey! It can wait all night!” Clearly she wants to put whatever’s about to happen to her on hold for as long as possible.
Dorian moves from behind Kelly’s chair and joins Izabel and me.
“Are you all right?” he asks, finally realizing that I’m not in the mood for his shit.
I don’t answer, mostly because his and Izabel’s words all sound stifled in the back of my head, and the only thing I can hear clearly is Cassia’s voice.
Izabel catches my eyes again and her hand falls hesitantly from my arm.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I say as I slip my twitching hand down into my pocket and grab my phone.
Izabel nods with acceptance and I turn and head across the frigid warehouse toward a side door, shutting it securely behind me once I’m outside.
I can’t get the phone out of my pocket fast enough and I fumble it, nearly dropping it. It’s freezing outside and my dress shirt sleeves are still rolled up to my elbows since preparing to interrogate Kelly on the whereabouts of her boyfriend, Paul Fortright.
Peering down at the screen, I begin to watch the live video feed that Greta must’ve accidently activated from my iPad.
Suddenly, I don’t feel the cold anymore, or understand that I’m standing outside in thirty-degree weather. I forget that I’m over a thousand miles away from my house and that I have an important, time-constrained interrogation to do on the other side of those tall steel walls. I don’t care about anything in this moment except what I’m seeing.
She must’ve remembered…she must’ve remembered something.
With my heart in my throat, I watch the tiny screen in the palm of my hand, focusing so hard that I don’t recall blinking. I think I’ve stopped breathing.
Cassia dances around in the center of the room, singing the song word for word and right on key. If I didn’t know better I’d think she was Connie Francis.
I swallow hard and watch the screen until my eyes hurt.
I dance around Greta, moving my hips in time with the music, clapping my hands while belting out the lyrics as if I had written them myself. It all feels so natural, so…familiar, but I’m having too much fun with Greta to worry about any of that right now.
And Greta isn’t so bad at dancing 50’s-style herself, easily keeping up with me. We start clapping together along with the music at the right times and it’s like we’re sharing a small stage…in a classy bar tucked away in a big city that serves only the finest of wines…and I’m dressed in a skin-tight black dress that hugs my body down to my calves…with tall high-heeled black shoes…perfume…cigars…the sound of ice in the bottom of whiskey glasses, the tall mirrors lining the walls on either side of me, candles burning in deep, bubble-shaped amber candle holders in the center of every table in the audience, the sleek black piano on the stage to my left…the woman with short jet-black hair on the stage beside me to my right…
The memory blinks out of my mind as Greta’s voice shouts over the music. “Your voice is beautiful, Cassia!” she says as the song goes into its last few notes.
I’m giddy. Absolutely giddy. So much so that I can’t stop smiling and my face feels like it’s stiffened permanently in the same beaming position.
When the song ends, still high on the moment, I point at the device on the step and say, “Duffy. Mercy. Look that one up!”
And Greta does just that, and after I sing that one as if I’d done it a hundred times, she finds every other song I ask her to find, until eventually we go right back to Fallin’ by Connie Francis because it’s my favorite. I dance and sing until my throat is dry and I’m too out of breath to carry on another note.
I fall against my large bed with my arms out at my sides as if I were flying, and I look up at the ceiling still with a smile on my face as I try to catch my breath. My heart is beating so fast, I can feel it pumping through every vein right down into the tips of my fingers and toes.
Almost nothing in the world could take this moment away from me.
But that memory…I can’t get it out of my head. And the more I think about it, the more I begin to see, and the darker the light over my eyes becomes. Instinctively, I reach up and wipe the corners of them as tears burn their way to the surface.
“Cassia?” Greta speaks softly beside me. “Is something wrong?”
My head falls to the side and I force a smile, wiping at my face again at the tears that managed to escape.
“No, Greta, I’m fine. Everything’s fine.” I sniffle and smile a little warmer at her.
I wonder if she believes me, or if she can see right through the pain I now harbor.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Niklas says walking up. “You stopped an interrogation to use your cell phone?” He shakes his head, cigarette smoke mixed with cold breath streaming in large puffs from his lips. The hot ember of the cigarette burns between his fingers down at his side. “Unless it was Victor on the phone.”
Running my finger over the screen, I shut down the live video feed and then turn the phone to vibrate before dropping it back into my pants pocket.
I shake my head. “No, it wasn’t Victor—it was unexpected.” What a worthless excuse. I know Niklas is right. And I agree with him.
He just stares at me for an uncomfortable moment and then jerks his head back. “Shouldn’t we get back to the mouthy bitch in the chair?”
“Yeah,” I say nodding and follow him inside.
“Dorian,” Niklas calls out as we approach, “you’re up! It’s cold as shit out there.” His voice echoes through the empty warehouse.
Niklas, Dorian and Izabel earlier agreed to take turns watching the building outside, depending on how long this interrogation might take.
Dorian shrugs on his black bomber jacket and zips it up to his throat. He walks past me and says, “I hope you got everything squared away,” and pats me on the shoulder, but his concern is laced with typical Dorian mockery.
Then he looks at Niklas. “I’d rather be outside on watch, anyway.” He glances at Kelly secured to the chair with a look of hatred and defiance twisting her already unsightly features. “Kind of tired of that ugly bitch f**king me with her eyes. Damn, I feel like I need a goddamn shower.” He shudders and then the shadows of the building swallow him up as he passes underneath a low section of ceiling and heads outside.