A nurse with short orange curls and sea green eyes bent down in front of me. She pursed her lips and reached for my right hand, but I pulled it away.
"I'm sorry, Miss. There was nothing we could do…" she said sympathetically. I tilted my head to the side and brought my hand up to my mouth. Faint sobs echoed off the walls and down the hallway.
"Come here," Tristan commanded gently, as he wrapped his arms around my body and rocked me back and forth. The tears continued to stream down my face like an endless waterfall.
The woman turned to Tristan and shook her head from side to side.
"We're gonna to have to ask you to fill out a couple forms," the lady began. Tristan peered down at me and bit his lip in contemplation.
"What for? Can't you see she's had a rough time with this" Tristan declared in annoyance. The lady crossed her arms about her chest and gazed down at the white tile flooring.
"It's to release the body of Carlos Selenez, sir. We can't keep it for much longer. Either you sign him out, so he can be transported to a morgue and be dealt with there…"—she asserted in a firmer tone—"…or you can choose to not sign the forms, giving us the legal grounds to cremate him and dispose of the ashes accordingly."
Tristan ran his fingers through his dirty blonde hair and tenderly kissed the top of my head. The tears subsided and my features became subdued.
"Fine. I'll sign them," he announced curtly, as he took the clipboard from the nurse with glaring eyes. The lady quickly ambled down the hall and disappeared underneath the shadows of the flickering lights.
"Tristan, I can sign them," I offered in a gravelly voice. Shaking his head, he scribbled down a few things and signed at the bottom of the page. I could see the frustration and sleepiness that consumed him. His complexion had grown pale and the area around his eyes resembled that of a raccoon's.
Gradually standing up from the plastic chair, Tristan let the clipboard rest against his side.
"I'm guessing that you don't wanna go back to your apartment right now" he declared in a gruff voice. My blue eyes shifted upwards and then back down once again.
"No…" I whispered faintly. A tear rolled down my cheek and tumbled over the humps of my reddened lips.
"Well, you can crash at my place" he stated finally with a sigh. He seemed almost hesitant to make that suggestion; as if he didn't want me to spend what was left of the night with him.
"If it's too much trouble, I can just get a hotel room—" I recommended, but the rolling of his eyes and the unruly mannerisms that followed stopped me in the process.
"It's no problem, Rory. I think you'd be safer with me anyways. You won't have to go back to irritating police officers and nosy detectives," he announced with a smirk. I smiled a little too before scrunching my forehead. It had been such a tiring and frightening night. All I wanted was to lie down and forget that any of this stuff ever happened.
Tristan maneuvered his arm around my waist and helped me to walk down the hallway. The roar of doctors and the beeping of machines filled my ears. As we passed one of the rooms with its door ajar, I got a glimpse of Carlos's naked body sprawled out on the operating table. Nurses speedily shut the blue curtain surrounding the area and slammed the door.
I burrowed my head into Tristan's chest and let out a whimper. How could this happen…2 deaths in the last week and a half.
Tristan dropped off the forms at the front desk and led me out to his sliver BMW parked on level C.
We didn't really talk as we drove to his apartment. I just sat there watching the buildings and the people pass by. Glancing down at the clock, it read 3:30 am.
"Are you tired?" I questioned in a scratchy voice. Tristan rested his head against his propped up hand and nodded.
"Just a little…" he replied briefly. I licked my lips and began to examine the side of his face. Blonde stubble lined the sides of his cheeks and the region above his upper lip. Slopping down from his jawline was a very strong chin and handsome neck.
"Are you hungry at all?" he asked suddenly. My eyes flipped upwards and froze in place. Food…something that I haven't thought about in awhile.
"Yah, I'm starving" I answered with bulging eyes. The very thought of a juicy piece of steak and a warm cup of coffee brawled up my senses.
When we finally arrived at his building along 14th and 3rd avenue, Tristan kept his distance from me. I didn't understand how one minute he could be so comforting and then the next, he could act like he didn't even know me. It was all so puzzling.
We took the elevator up to his floor and quietly sauntered down the dimly lit hallway. Searching around in his pant pocket, Tristan finally whipped out his keys and unlocked the door.
A familiar setting flooded into view. An empty milk carton sat on the kitchen table and a couple shirts lay scattered about the living room floor.
"I hope you don't mind the mess…" Tristan muttered under his breath. I shook my head and tightly wrapped his tweed jacket around my body. It was slightly chilly in the wide spacious room, as if a window had been left open.
Sure enough, Tristan came walking out with a bewildered expression on his face.
"I could swear that I shut all the windows…" he mumbled out-loud. I glanced around before resting my eyes upon a dusty, old fireplace.
"Think we could start a fire?" I asked with a small smile. He ran his fingers down the back of his neck and shrugged his shoulders.
"Sure…if you want."
In not too long, a huge fire was blazing sending off blue sparks and ashes all over the place. I plopped myself down onto his tan, leather couch and allowed my eyelids to slant downwards.
"Want some coffee?" Tristan called from the kitchen. I twisted my head around and peaked overtop of the pillows.
"Yah, I'd love some."
He opened up the cupboard and pulled down two ceramic mugs. I positioned my head against the soft arm of the couch and proceeded to shut my eyes once more. The smell of pinewood and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled my nostrils. Everything was so quiet and peaceful. I couldn't help but curl into a little ball and forget about all of my surroundings.
Suddenly, the phone began to ring. I didn't open my eyelids the first time, but after the third ring, I jolted upwards.
"Do you want me to get that?" I shouted quickly. There was no one to be found in the kitchen or anywhere nearby. Maybe he's in his bedroom or something…I thought to myself. Leaning over the side of the couch, I picked up the black cordless phone off of the stand and pressed the 'talk' button.
"Hello…" I answered with a slight yawn. Rustling noises were heard in the background and then, silence.
"Hello?" I repeated once more.
"Two-down-and-one-to-gooo" a deep voice sang on the other line. He cackled wickedly before making some sort of tapping sound.
"Hear that?" he questioned. I gulped loudly and shifted in my seat.
"Who is this?" I yelled in panic.
"Oh, don't be so naïve!"—the voice roared—"It won't be long before…"
Then, the line went dead and a dial tone sounded.
"Before what?" I screeched, as I scurried up from the couch. Looking behind me, I observed the various furniture and the clutter all over the hardwood floor. What the hell was that?
I set the phone back on the stand with trembling fingers. But, as I pulled away, I noticed something sparkly poking out underneath a pile of case files. I knelt down and shifted them aside with one great heave. There resting on the wooden table was my heart-shaped pendant necklace.
"Hey, who called?" Tristan inquired, as he walked out of his bedroom. I quickly hid the piece of jewelry behind my back and smiled.
"I was hoping you could tell me…" I shot back. My entire face flushed and my heart began to race.
"Well, what was their name?" he asked in uncertainty. I started to scoot backwards with the necklace still in my hands.
"Why was my necklace on top your table?" I spat, as I dangled the silver item up in the air. Tristan froze for a second and placed his hands on his hips.
"I guess you left it last time you were here," he declared with furrowed brows. I nodded my head and circled around the coffee table near the fireplace.
"Funny thing is Tristan, that I didn't wear this necklace the night I was here" I asserted, as I stopped in place. Tristan continued to stare at me with a blank expression.
"Well, how else did it get here?" he began. I noticed the twitching of the muscles around his eyes and his shaky stance.
"Tell me, Tristan!" I started to shout. He shook his head from side to side and threw out his hands.
"Rory, I don't know how it got here! Either you put it there or…" His voice trailed off as he gazed behind him at the open door leading to his bedroom.
"Oh my God" he whispered.
"What?" I shouted with watery eyes.
"Come on, we have to get out of here" he declared, as he grabbed his car keys off of the granite countertop. I narrowed my eyes in confusion.
"Why?" I questioned suspiciously.
"Rory, I don't have time to explain! Now, get your stuff and let's go," he snapped. I could tell by the way his eyes flickered with fear and anger that he wasn't kidding around.
Hastily throwing on his tweed jacket, I slipped my necklace into the pocket and followed him to the front door.
"I wish you would tell me what's going on" I barked heatedly. Tristan didn't respond, as he slipped his gun into its appropriate case and pushed me out into the hallway.
"Be quiet…he's watching us" Tristan ordered. We walked side by side to the elevator and pushed the 'down' button. In my opinion, Tristan seemed extremely tense about something. His foot tapped against the ground, as he paced from back and forth.
"Tristan…" I began softly. Something wasn't right about this picture. Something was missing.
The silver doors slid open to reveal a vacant, cramped space. He quickly darted inside and hit the button on the side.
"Come on, get in" he shouted. I bit my lip and stared up into his face. Think Rory…what's wrong with this picture.
"Rory, what the hell are you doing? We have to get out of here!"
The yelling ceased and a giant box fell on top of his head. I peered up to find that the elevator shaft had been opened. A high-pitched scream escaped from my lips, as I staggered backwards and slammed against the wall.
"Tristan!" I cried in terror. He laid there on the floor with a large gash on the side of his forehead. Blood seeped down the side of his face and coated his blonde strands of hair.
The elevators doors closed shut, as the bright lights began to fade. I placed my hand over my mouth and shut my eyes. What just happened? Oh my God…what do I do?
My thoughts were interrupted by a raspy voice not too far away. I opened my blue eyes and gazed around to find that the lights in the hallway had all gone out.
"Rory…I've missed you" the voice intoned.