C.J. sat outside in a hallway after hearing from the bailiff there would be a delay in her testimony. Another witness had been called to the stand ahead of her and so she'd been sent to the hallway to wait. Matt had gone to make some business calls before he'd head into the courtroom to sit in the audience. He'd already been given permission by the courts after the judge ruled that listening to the case wouldn't taint his own testimony if he was called to the stand to deliver it. The men on trial had been charged with kidnapping and attempted murder charges in connection to him.
She wished he were with her right now as she tried to mentally prepare herself for her time on the witness stand. Could be a couple of hours, could be all day depending on how much cross-examination the other side wanted to do. Four attorneys had their chance to take their crack at her and she knew that even with the prepping, she'd have to work to keep her focus on her recollections and her words rather than the feelings that they elicited inside her even over a year later. The breakfast she ate filled her up, she'd been so glad that her stomach had handled it much better than she thought.
Marie walked out of the courtroom and smiled at her.
"It shouldn't be too much longer," she said, "They wanted to get done with one of the other girls because her mother's in the hospital back in Ohio."
"It's all right," she said, "How's it going?"
Marie looked thoughtful.
"Better than expected," she said, "the judge is granting our objections and the defense is not happy about that."
"Goes with the territory," she said, "Been on the good and bad sides of judges myself."
"Well, let's hope it keeps up," she said, "though we have a strong case without any help."
C.J. knew that as a lawyer having survived the preliminary hearing already which had been done not long after Matt's engagement to Elizabeth had broken up.
She'd make it through the trial too, one question and one answer at a time.
I looked around me as the deputy who had grabbed my arm pulled me down the hall. I wanted to fight back but something told me not to resist. Another deputy had taken Rhonda out ahead of me and I had lost sight of her.
She'd been inside the cell sitting on the lower bunk in the spartan cell, looking up as the deputy pushed me into the cell and then slammed the door behind me. I was trapped inside a box, with only a barred window to look out into the darkness. I just pressed my back against a wall, standing rigid, trying to make myself smaller and invisible like I had when I'd been a little girl and something scared me. I don't know how I knew that but I did.
"Nice digs huh," Rhonda said, "though I've seen worse."
I just stared at her my heart still beating fast in my chest. Dizziness filled me as my back slid down the wall, my legs bent and I sat on the floor. The walls seemed to close in on me.
"They'll just hold us for two days," she said, "They have to take us to the judge by that time."
I heard the bemusement in her voice as if she'd been through this so many times. She didn't seem to feel the fear that laced through me even as I tried to stop it. Had I been through this before, been handcuffed and thrown into a jail cell? It didn't feel familiar to me but then nothing did since I woke up without a past.
"I wonder what they want with us."
That was all l could think of saying because I knew the men hadn't grabbed us from the bar and brought us here for no reason.
"They'll take us to court in a day or so like I said. We just have to sit and chill out here until then. Three hots and a cot, it's called."
Rhonda chuckled ruefully.
"You must have had a quiet life," she said, "it's called being fed and sheltered by the state, beats the cost of a hotel. Except for being locked up behind bars of course."
C.J. just digested that. She felt bewildered, overwhelmed by everything. Sights, sounds and the feelings that raced through me…the images that made no sense but when I tried to focus on them, they disappeared again.
The little girl in the blue dress with ruffles…horses racing across an open field. A young man with dark hair and a smile that warmed up my heart, his warm skin underneath my fingers. The smell of his cologne, his soft eyes…who was he? But before I could remember anything, he'd slipped away into the shadows with the rest of the images filling my head.
I just sat there wrapping my arms around myself trying to forget everything else for a while.
Chris had the car waiting for me at Phoenix International Airport like she promised and I drove it to the hotel. I checked in and took the elevator up to the suite on top. As soon as I got inside the room, I tossed my suitcase on the bed and reached for my cell phone. I'd checked it as soon as the plane landed but Chris hadn't called me back.
This time she'd left a message saying that C.J. hadn't called the office, I hadn't expected her to do so at this point. I knew something had happened to her and that she was in some type of trouble.
My mind worked quickly and I'd figured that the best place to start would be where she had last checked in which was in Phoenix. She was supposed to leave here after checking out of her hotel in the morning and reach Santa Fe by late afternoon…but I knew she'd never gotten there. So somewhere along the way, something had happened to her.
And I had to find her.
It was after midnight when I arrived so I settled in for the night. But I couldn't sleep, not when I didn't know what had happened to her. She was my best friend since I was a small boy and if it hadn't been for her more than once, I wouldn't have made it this far.
A glass of Scotch stopped my mind from racing, from filling with images of every possible thing that could have happened. Did she get in an accident, did she run into someone who had hurt her? Was she lying in a hospital somewhere, was she…I didn't finish that thought.
I had to think about her alive out there somewhere…and if she was in trouble, I wouldn't stop at anything to find her again.
That was my last thought before I closed my eyes to get some sleep.
I watched Bunny sit against the wall looking lost for a while and then I closed my eyes trying to get to sleep. Not that I felt like it but I knew how important it was to keep sharp to make the most of every opportunity to look for an escape route. I opened my eyes back to see her still sitting there.
"Hey Bunny…you should get some sleep," I said, "Don't know what the morning will bring."
She just looked at me and then she got up a bit stiffly and then walked over to the bottom bunk. I'd taken the top one. I heard the mattress squeak as she lay down on it. I knew that she was lost and couldn't help it. There had been times that I'd forgotten when I got drunk or high. But they always came back to me usually when I didn't want to remember them. I couldn't imagine what it'd be like to have no memory at all, to feel like a blank slate.
She sounded sleepy when she said that and I closed my eyes waiting to drift off. I was so used to sleeping at places worse than jail so I knew it wouldn't take long.
But my mind was already thinking of a way to get out of here.