A Moment of Peace

Maureen Thompson pulled into her driveway and set the brakes. She clung to the wheel of her dusty car, hanging on with the intensity of someone who knew how one senseless act could rip away all that she had. Where was the family of the young Taiwanese teen who lay in cold storage while they investigated his death? Were they in this country? Did they go to work every morning acutely aware of his absence? Did they come home every evening hoping to see him, to be devastated all over again with hopes unrealized? Were they in Taiwan looking deep into the eyes of each person they met, searching for recognition that they belonged to a boy those persons may have seen during their travels? Had he left of his own free will, or had someone stolen him? Either way, he left a family behind that was now broken.

Her porch light was on, small, but welcoming. Her tabby sat on the front step preening. It looked up as if to say, “Come on in.”  She imagined her two dogs curled in sleep upstairs upon a child’s bed. The house itself was dark, except for a dull, flicking light pulsing against the curtains in the front room. Larry, her husband, had been on the road for weeks. He was probably sleeping in a cramped position on the couch in an attempt to wait up for her.

Brutal, replayed memories of seeing the Taiwanese teen thrown away like trash at the river’s edge receded into the background as she deliberately let go of the day. She opened her car door and carefully closed it so it clicked shut.

The tabby waltzed down the steps and shimmied around her legs as she reached down to stroke its fur before she climbed the steps.

She quietly closed the solid front door behind her, and without making a sound, slipped her keys into the glazed ceramic bowl on the entry table. She glanced into the living room where a wall of photos told the story of her life, starting with black and white childhood photos of her and her husband, colorful photos of their marriage and family milestones, culminating with current photos of each of her children. One of Larry’s slippers peeked over an arm of the stuffed leather couch. Otherwise, there was no way to tell that anyone was watching the soundless infomercial that played across the wide screen TV that flickered over the fireplace.

Maureen hung her coat on the coat rack next to the table, and unbuckled her gun. This she placed in a locked safe in a cupboard under the staircase that led to the upstairs bedrooms. She slipped off her shoes and lined them up against the wall under the first step. It was one of her habits, in case there was an emergency call.

“Maureen?” Larry gruffled. She glanced his way. He was hanging onto the back of the couch, holding himself upright. He smiled. His wild unkempt mop flopped over one eye, and a scruffy shadow darkened his slack and sleep-dented cheeks. Anyone else would think he was someone who was still half asleep, but she saw fire sparkling in his eyes.

“It’s me, Baby. How long have you been out here?”

“Since the kids fell asleep. What time is it?”

“Late.” She sank into the couch next to him, pulled the scrunchie from her hair, and then vigorously scratched her scalp.

Larry smiled softly.

She grabbed his hand and leaned her head on the back cushion, grateful to be home.

“I’m glad you’re safe,” he said. “Tough night?”

She rolled her head to face him and smiled. “I’m sorry our reunion night was wrecked.”

“No worries. You know that.” He squeezed her hand reassuringly.

She did know that. Larry knew exactly what he’d signed up for when they married during her cadet training. Three kids later, he still waited for her patiently. “You have no idea how appreciated you are,” she said, as she leaned against him.

“Really? How appreciated am I?” He smiled roguishly.

“Very.” She turned her body toward him and pressed her breasts against his shoulder. Tentatively, she kissed the corner of his smile.

“I see how it is,” he purred. He ran his fingers through her thick long hair.

“Yeah?” She arched her neck. His touch was heaven.

He wrapped her in his arms.

She melted into his solid heat and kissed him again.

Gently, but with the determination of a man who knew exactly what he wanted, he pushed her onto the couch and crouched over her, careful that he didn’t pinch her under him or pull her hair in anyway.

“Kiss me already,” she said, as her body responded to his considerations.

His lips touched hers, primly at first, but when she arched up against him, he deepened their union. A fire flared as she felt her body swell in response. When he lowered himself against her, she had no recourse but to rut against him.

“That’s it,” he growled. “Bedroom. Now.” He jumped off her and ran up the stairs. Maureen shook her head, heart palpitating at the thought of getting her night with him. She jumped up and raced after him, unbuttoning her company shirt as she did so.

It had been so long since the last time they were together that they both climaxed within minutes. She did not care. He lay next to her, the love of her life, and she was safe and had another day with him and with her children.

She felt the pull of sleep. However, she needed to wash away the case. One boy was dead, another missing. She couldn’t let go of the idea that somehow the two cases were related, though she had no reason to think it.

She carefully climbed out of their bed and stepped into the bathroom. She intended to turn on the water for a hot bath, but she heard a tiny voice behind her.

“Mom,” her six-year-old said.

She pulled her robe together and tied the sash around her waist. Then she turned, and gathered him in her arms. She walked back to his bedroom, whispering, “I missed you, lovey pumpkin. Did you have a nice day with Daddy?”

“Yes. Where were you?”

She laid him on his bed. “At work.” She pulled his blankets around him and lifted his stuffed owl off the floor.

He grabbed the toy and cuddled it. “Did you catch the bad guy, Mom?”

“Not yet, Honey, but I will. You go back to sleep. I will see you in the morning.”

He shut his eyes and snuggled under his blankets.

“Good boy, Michael,” she said. She kissed him on the forehead and ran her fingers through his hair. Of all her children, her youngest looked the most like his father. She gazed at him until his breathing deepened. Then she checked on her other two. They were both sleeping soundly with dogs at their feet.

Deciding that taking a bath upstairs would be too disruptive, she went back to her bedroom to gather a set of pajamas and her toiletries. She took them to the downstairs bathroom where her only choice was to shower. It would be fine. The hot water was what she really wanted, as hot as she could stand it in order to wash away the terror of investigating dead and missing teens. Her family deserved at least that much from her.


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