Black Nightingale- The Prey That Hunts Back
Chapter 5: Didn’t Even See It Coming
The Next Morning
I gingerly open my apartment door. Even though Greg had agreed to let this go, I know better. After Greg’s profession of love last night, my head was spinning in a million directions. Couple that with the crazy events of last night’s run in with the Black Hawk and I guess you could say I had a perfect storm in the making.
I close and lock my door as to not make it so obvious that I’m leaving. Immaturely of me, I knew I wasn’t ready to see Greg yet. Low and behold I made it out of my door way without seeing Greg. Keeping my eyes glancing back toward the door every now and again, I rounded the corner of the hall way and out to the sidewalk. As I turned the corner of the city block, I bumped full on into a hard, toned body.
“Oh, sorry.” I say spinning around and noticing a familiar face. I smile.
“Matthew, hey. It’s been a while! How are you?”
“Nevina…The Little Luna. I’m good. It’s been a minute. How are you?” he says with a sweet smirk.
“Good…Good. What are you doing in this neck of the woods?” I ask.
“I actually moved back to the city. The suburban life wasn’t for me,” he says with chuckle.
“Oh?” I say with a raise of my eyebrow.
“Yea I mean you know as good as I do, that the country…simple town where everyone knows their neighbor was more Amelia’s dream.”
There it is, I think to myself. One of us had to bring her up soon enough. Hearing her name still sometimes hurts.
“Yea. I remember.” I say as my eyes begin filling up. Water threatening to spill over.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you,” Matthew says grabbing my shoulder in an effort to comfort me.
“No…no, it’s not your fault. I just- um I don’t get to talk about her much. Partly because I sometimes just can’t and partly because my parents are still a wreck over losing her. Rightfully so. They rented an RV and just took off to go explore the world on their own terms. I just think they can’t seem to allow themselves a minute to sit still. Because that’s when the pain hurts the worst. In the quiet day to day. The days she should have been a part of,” I choke out as my voice knots in my throat, my hand wiping away a fallen tear.
“No, I get it. It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on 5 years since we lost her.”
“Yea I know, even with the passing of time, the wound is still fresh. In a way I think it always will be.”
“For me too,” he says, his eyes falling to the floor.
I don’t know what it is. I haven’t seen Matthew in almost 5 years. I think after losing Amelia we all sort of looked inward to deal with it. Everyone deals with loss and grief in their own way, I guess. I certainly had my own way, that’s for sure. But even though it’s been a while I feel this overwhelming sense of familiarity. Déjà vu… or something.
We stand there silent for a few minutes. Stillness creeping in.
“Hey well listen, I have a meeting to get to… but it was great to see you. Let’s grab dinner soon, and really catch up?” he says breaking the silence.
“Um yea….of course. I’d like that.”
“Great, I’ll call you. Same number?”
“Ok cool…we’ll talk soon.”
“Definitely,” I say as we part ways.
What a blast from the past I think as I push the door open to my favorite nearby café. Stepping up to the counter, I smile asking the barista for a small iced pumpkin coffee.
“Sure thing,” she says with a smile as she grabs a cup.
I pay the woman and turn to see if my favorite table is free. My eyes meet Greg’s who smirks giving me an awkward wave.
Time to face the music I guess.
“Hey,” I say with a weird smile.
“Hey,” he says almost sheepishly.
“May I?” I ask gesturing to the empty chair beside him.
“Of course,” he says pointing.
As we both sit there awkwardly sipping on our coffees, I hate feeling like we’re strangers.
Finally I break the silent tension by saying, “So you’ve got the day off today?”
“No, I’m on the night shift from now on.” He says
“Ah,” I say nodding.
“What about you…slow day at the shop?” he asks.
The shop Greg is referring to is my auto body shop. It was originally my dad’s. I spent so many days of my childhood there, I took a liking to cars and auto parts. So much so that I studied engineering and auto mechanics in college. When my mom and dad took off to explore, I took over the business. It comforts me once in a while, to have a place where I am able to fix things.
“Um…no not exactly. I just um…needed a day.” I say shrugging.
“Yea I can imagine…it must get exhausting chasing after serial killers at all hours of the night,” he says his voice barely above a whisper as he leans toward me.
“God. I knew you wouldn’t let this go,” I say huffing as I sit back in my seat, creating a safe space between us.
“What do you expect, Nev. I can’t just sit back and let you literally step into the line of fire…night after night. Taking it upon yourself to right everybody’s wrongs.”
“Why not? Isn’t that what you do?” I say angrily as I raise an eyebrow at him.
“Yea… but I’m a trained professional Nev.”
“Oh please… you’re always saying how most of the cops at the station could afford to be a little more diligent. This guy has been haunting this city for nearly a month and what does the NYPD have to show for their little investigation…a few blurry images and some random sightings.”
“Wow…good to know what you think about my work.” He says huffing and looking away.
“It’s not a personal attack Gavin, I know you’re a good cop.”
“Then trust me to do my job,” he says looking at me with pleading eyes.
“You and I both know why this hits home for me…” I say glaring at him, my eyes starting to fill. Today sucks.
“I know…hey…I know,” he says taking my hand in his, as he laces his fingers through mine. He brings the back of my hand to his lips, placing a sweet kiss on it.
I guess being best friends with Gavin all these years, I didn’t realize how often he did this. It was almost like second nature to me. But this time, I felt a spark and a tightness in my stomach. And suddenly, I realized, something big was about to happen. A change I never ever knew would work its way into existence.
I pull my hand away gently, Gavin noticing, he coughs, nervously as he sits back in his seat.
“5 years…and now he’s back. I cannot let him kill any more women like he killed my sister.” I say trying to keep from fully falling apart in front of him.
“Nev, we don’t know for sure that this is the same guy.” Greg says his voice kind.
“Are you kidding me Greg? Open your damn eyes. Of course it’s him. But you know what I honestly don’t care who it is. I just want him taken care of. The police force did a nice job of covering Amelia’s death. Claiming she was just drunk and crashed her car. When you and I both know that bastard killed her, and then drove her car into a river.”
“Nev, look I get that this is hard for you. I was there for it all. I was with you. And I know her anniversary is coming up and this is all a lot. I just think you need to take some time to yourself. Allow yourself a minute to breathe. And just let me take care of this. When I joined the police force I swore to you that I would do everything in my power to help find out what really happened to Amelia. And I will. But I just need to play this the right way. If what you and I suspect is true. That her death was manipulated, than that means someone was working from the inside. And that person has a motive, a link that connected him or her to Amelia. To you. To your family. That’s why I play so close to the rules, because I won’t be suspected of digging into old files and getting to the real truth. We’re playing the long game here, Nev. I just need some time. And I need you to trust me.”
I look up at him sighing loudly. I take his hand in mine, “Greg, I do trust you. More than you know. Which is difficult for me to even admit, considering everything my family has lost. But as much as I love and trust you, these girls…they don’t have time. He’s picking women off left and right, every night. In a pattern. If you noticed.”
“Dark hair, dark eyes, tan complexion. Yea I’ve noticed.” He says his eyes meeting mine.
“I have to do something. This time I HAVE to do something. Because I didn’t get to help Amelia. I failed her. And I carry the weight of that with me, every day.”
“Hey…none of this. Is your fault.”
I turn away from him.
“Hey…none of it. You hear me,” he says pulling me in closer as our foreheads touch.
He is my safe space. He always has been. Even if I don’t say it often. Even though I know I can stand on my own. It’s nice knowing I don’t have to.
I breathe in a shaky breath, my mind starting to fog. My heart dancing in my chest. I’m completely confused by this sudden overwhelming feeling of wanting to just pull him in and kiss him.
But I don’t. And we sit there, in silence. Holding onto each other for what feels like forever.
“Hey…I want you to know I hear you. I hear everything you’re saying ok? And I promise you, I will get to the bottom of this.” He says starring up at me. “After all, why do you think I asked to be on the night shift?” he says with a smirk.
I smile as I blink my tears fall down my cheeks. Greg wipes them away with his thumb and I lean in placing a sweet kiss on his lips. He stills for a minute and then kisses me back and I suddenly realize what I’ve done. I, Nevina Luna think I may or may not be in love with my best friend. And the scariest part of it all is… I didn’t see this coming.
Oh well, this should be interesting.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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