Disclaimer: All Twilight characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. All plot and original characters are copyright to me.
A/N: Many thanks to Bronze for pre-reading. A huge thanks to hyacinthgirl18 and Aleisha at PTB for betaing this chapter.
"Isabella! RUN!" These were the words that left me as I awoke with a jolt. My last vision
was of the beautiful brunette running towards a Native American man who was lying in a lifeless heap on the ground; blood soaked the back of his grungy shirt. Before she reached him, a second shot rang out. She collapsed on the ground beside him. Maniacal laughter rang out somewhere in the distance, as a male voice growled, "If I can't have you, baby, no one else will."
I jerked to a sitting position on the floor, clutching my chest. Loud screams filled the bedroom. I was shocked and embarrassed when I realized they were coming from me.
Guilt crushed me as I realized it was another woman who occupied my dreams tonight. I almost felt like I had been… unfaithful.
The murders happened months ago, but I still couldn't erase them from my mind. The all- consuming feelings of devastation, loss, and guilt ripped me apart. I felt the guilt because I wasn't there when it happened. The guilt haunted me because, sometimes even though I knew it was unlikely, I still wondered if I could have prevented it.
Not once since the afternoon my life was destroyed had the nightmare changed. Not until tonight.
Night after night, restless tossing and turning led to fitful sleep; until I was tortured awake by the bloodcurdling screams and the gunshots; followed by the broken sobs. I'd awoken with a jolt; cold sweat covering my body. It always came as a shock to realize the sobs were coming from me.
By day, I was haunted by the images that flashed through my mind. Yellow tape identified the home we had shared as the crime scene it had become. Sometimes there were subtle differences, but the images flashed through my mind like some sick rerun on TV.
As if I were having an out-of-body experience, I would watch myself walk through the crime scene, careful not to disturb anything that might lead them to the perpetrator.
When in reality, I had rushed in, attempting to save those I knew in my heart were already gone. I was oblivious to the crime scene grid I should have been preserving.
The smell of gun powder and sulphur hung heavy in the air, and the acidic scent of blood made my stomach recoil as bile filled my throat. Our home looked like the scene of a bloody massacre.
Every one of my senses was on alert. Scenes like this had unfolded time and again through the lifetime of my career, yet never in my life had I imagined I'd encounter this in my own home.
The scene was so vivid. I felt the crunch of broken glass under my shoes as I crossed the garage floor and entered the foyer. I passed the broken window in the kitchen door. I saw the wet and bloody hand print on the wall in the foyer. Running, my feet went out from under me and I felt the vertigo of my downward spiral as I lost my balance while tripping over a large lump of something… someone… lying face down on the floor.
In my mind, I grabbed the body of the large black man, rolling him onto his back, knowing- as I had every night since the murders- that I would be staring into the lifeless face of my closest friend. Laurent.
I choked on sobs, as I remembered looking down at the blood and vomit that marred the formerly pristine linoleum of our kitchen floor. I followed the streaks of blood that trailed behind the body of my partner Laurent Jackson. A single shot to the chest took his life, but Laurent was too stubborn to die before he did his duty. There was never any doubt… Laurent's final act as a Chicago police detective was a futile attempt to protect my wife, Tanya, and our little Lily.
Slipping in my own vomit, I crawled across the floor to Tanya where she lay in a growing red puddle. Next to her lay the upturned chair she'd been sitting in when the bullet entered her chest. Her beautiful brown eyes were wide open, but they no longer held any life. Her lovely heart shaped face was splattered with her own blood. And her hands…her hands encircled the life she carried in a failed attempt to protect our unborn child.
Just days before the shooting, as we sat in Carlisle's office, we watched the ultrasound of our tiny daughter. It seemed, that day, all of our dreams had come true. Who knew our perfect life would come to a screeching halt so tragically?
Most nights, I awoke lying on the bedroom floor clutching my blankets under me as they muffled my sobs. In my mind I had a death grip on Tanya, trying to shake her awake and out of this never ending nightmare. Other mornings when I awoke, I found myself in the bathroom frantically trying to scrub away the sticky blood that I could still see and feel covering my hands and soaking my clothing.
Fully awake, I would fall to the floor, lying prostrate, screaming the name of the woman I loved.
This morning, I was no longer alone. Frantic footsteps on the hardwood floor and hushed whispers turned into pounding and a familiar voice yelling my name. Before I could reply, warm arms wrapped around me and hushed reassurances begged me to wake up.
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