Xavier visited Isidora everyday since the attack. He even stayed hours at a time when he wasn’t being questioned about what the media dubbed a terrorist attack in broad day light. Reporters were buzzing everywhere wanting details about the partially blown up building and if any officers were hurt. He knew Black to be a glory hog except when they had found that girl buried six feet under in a cheap coffin. Someone had to take the blame for dropping the ball and he decided it wasn’t going to be him.
To stave the flames from his horrid decision, he threw Isidora’s name to the wolves citing she knew all about the attack in advance. She was going to have a heck of a time living from this day forth. The media was already dragging her name through the mud, digging up old cases no doubt helped along by Black himself. He was learning new things about Isidora himself through various news outlets but he also knew they almost never get the facts straight.
Chief Canterbury fought his way through a crowd of reporters to find Xavier sleep, folded over Isidora. This was why he didn’t want Xavier around her, everywhere she went that was a firestorm and those who surrounded her was sure to be burned to a crisp. Xavier’s life was spiraling into madness even if he didn’t recognize it himself. Canterbury never thought he’d have to worry about another woman ripping his life to shreds. What was Xavier going to do when he ended up with nothing? Tapping his subordinate on the shoulder, he watched as Xavier shook himself awake.
“We need to talk, preferably outside.” Xavier followed Canterbury into a brightly lit corridor, waiting for the talk. “Reporters are crawling just outside the hospital and you shouldn’t be here.”
“I’m no longer a detective so I have every right to be here.”
“Reconsider. We need you right now.”
“I’m done. I can’t do the job anymore so it’s wise to step aside and let someone else fulfill the roll.”
“Damn it Xavier, that woman is not worth it.”
“Isidora isn’t the bad guy here. I’m not abandoning her.”
“Open your eyes kid, you’re going to go down with her. You will be drug into this fiasco, you know that, right?”
“I won’t let her become a martyr for something she didn’t cause and I’m truly disappointed in you. You’re no better than Black, you’ve already condemned her for a crime she hasn’t been charged of. There’s no evidence that suggests she tried to kill anyone.”
“I’m not…listen, I’m just trying to protect you.”
“And who’s going to protect Isidora? Doesn’t she deserve the benefit of the doubt? Innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply to her, huh?”
“Xavier, you’re throwing away everything for her, why?”
“I don’t know, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I can’t look her father in the eye and tell him I blinded myself to what’s going on. I couldn’t live with myself if I did that.”
“This is about that girl you found buried alive, isn’t?”
“It’s about everything. That case has plagued me for five years! Five years. So much time was wasted and Black was in the thick of it. He’s not going to get off scot-free like that last time and he isn’t going to make an example of Isidora.”
“What do you think you can do?”
“The only thing I can do, stay by her side until this circus show is over. You know Black’s actions are wrong. How can you stand by and not do anything to help the real victim in this situation?”
“Do you understand the ramifications if I choose sides? The media will have a field day with the police force. Our brotherhood will be divided.”
“Then so be it. I won’t be the only person to lose something in the process. You stand on what you believe in and I’ll do the same.”
“I’m not the enemy here.”
“We’ll see.” Xavier left Canterbury speechless as he went back inside to be with Isidora. A small lamp shone dim across her peaceful face. A small pain pricked at his heart, his spirit was heavy knowing this was going to be an uphill battle. Resting his head across her stomach, he nodded off until he felt a presence standing close to him.
“I’m sure if I should trust you yet.” the man lamented.
“I’m not a threat to Isidora. I guess you’re a friend of hers.”
“When she wakes up, tell her I have her children. They are safe.”
“What, no questions?”
“If she trusts you, then I have nothing to ask.”
“Surprising coming from a detective.”
“I gave that up days ago. She’s my priority now.”
“Her world is not for the faint of heart, not just anyone can step into it. You’re more than welcome to run away.”
“I know you’re testing me and I’m not going anywhere.”
“We’ll see how long you stay before you turn on her.”
“For the record,” he said tight, “I am not Isidora’s enemy.” He gained no response as the man slipped through the door and out into the well-lit hall.
The next morning Isidora stirred to light pressure on her abdomen. Feeling around, her hand landed against something solid and rough. Her eyes had to adjust to the morning light, once they did she found Xavier folded over half her body, face turned toward her own. His short hair looked to have grown an inch or two, his five o’clock shadow was more than visible and lips looked kissably soft. He looked so vulnerable when he was asleep, not at all threatening when he was up and about. The beat of her heart kicked up a notch and she suddenly wanted to plunge a knife into it. She didn’t have time for…feelings, especially not with this man. Without warning, Xavier opened his eyes and stared right into hers. Her heart leapt rattling in its cage when a warm since spread across his lips. Damn her heart all to hell, what a Judas it was.
“What are you doing here?”
“You’re always ready for a fight…”
“I’m not picking a fight.”
“I brought you to the hospital a few days ago.”
“I was behind bars. How did you get me out?”
“About that-” It was amazing how doctors came in at the wrong time.
“Ah well, I see our patient is awake. How are you feeling?”
“Fine. When can I get out of here?”
“It’s best if you stay a while longer to be on the safe side.”
“I’m fine. I just need to eat.”
“You almost died. Your sugar dropped dangerously low.”
“I’m well aware I have hypoglycemia. I need to get out of here, I have things to do.”
“Isidora, listen to the doctor.”
“I can make my own decisions, thank you.”
“Ms. Torres. How can I put these, ah, people are after your head to be blunt. You should stay here until things die down.”
“I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“According to the media, you’ve done plenty wrong. It’s not my place to judge your personal life, but there are still reporters lingering outside the hospital. They don’t know what room you’re in and my job is to keep my patient safe.”
“I don’t know what’s going on but I’m leaving here one way or the other.”
“Doctor, I’ll talk to her.”
“Very well. She’s not the first stubborn patient I’ve had.” After the doctor dismissed himself, Xavier tried to fix his thoughts on how to tell her what was going on.
“There is a big problem with how I got you out of the clutches of Detective Richard Black.”
“He deserves to have everything snatched away from him. I hate that guy.”
“I’m no fan of his either, but his department was shot up and parts of the building was blow to pieces.”
“I’m serious. Your lawyer came down to get you released. Someone gave him a letter to give to Black. They threatened to bring the building down if he didn’t release you. They made good on their promises. I was there, I witnessed everything.”
“That’s not all, Black told the press you know exactly who’s responsible for that attack. There’s even bits and pieces of your long-standing feud with the police. He’s already branded you a terrorist.”
“I’m not surprised or worried.”
“He’s going to do everything he can to pin an attempted murder charge on you.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time he’s tried to pin something on me.”
“Don’t treat this so lightly.”
“Look here, I’ve been dealing with that loser longer than you know. You need to relax and enjoy the spectacle.”
“I really don’t understand you Isidora. Did you know something like this was going to happen?”
“Of course. He doesn’t know when to let a sleeping dog lie. I’m go to watch him hang himself and that will be the end of it. I didn’t set up this whole fiasco and I didn’t order anyone to blow up the police department. I don’t know who did it and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”
“You obviously have the power to stop this.”
“I didn’t start it so it’s not my responsibility to stop it.”
“The media is going to rip your life apart. They will scrutinize your every move.”
“I guess that’s the price one pays for being a public martyr. I don’t have anything to hide so let the chips fall where they may. I’m tired of talking, I need to get out of here and you need to get back on your side of the tracks.”
“I quit my job. I’m staying beside you even if you don’t want me to.”
“I don’t need your help.”
“Just shut up and let me protect you.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I’m not taking anymore crap off you. You do what I tell you, when I tell you! Don’t sass me. I’m going to take you home and eventually I’m going to retrieve your car that’s still parked across from the victims’ house. I’m not leaving you to walk this thing alone. So work with me.” Half of her wanted to chuckled but the other half was genuinely surprised. He just told her to shut up and was adamant he was running the show. She didn’t know whether he was being brave for her sake or if he was just stupid for taking up the task that had nothing to do with him.
“Whatever.” He was satisfied with that, at least it wasn’t a no.
“I’m going to have to find you some clothes, they were taken in as evidence.”
“I’ll leave here in this gown.”
“You’re not properly covered.”
“Who cares? It’s not like the media hasn’t seen an exposed cheek or two.” He only shook his head and tried to suppress a smirk that threatened the corners of his mouth.
“Let me see what I can do before you get yourself rearrested for public indecency. Stay here.” She sat at the edge of the bed wondering why he was going through all the trouble at his expense. He’s admitted his feelings to her but that couldn’t be the central reason for his actions. Xavier had to be up to something, not one cop has shown any type of mercy or selflessness in her direction. Absently staring at the door, the knob turned as Xavier let himself in. “I have two more gowns.”
“Give them to me.”
“Please would be nice.”
“Now. Thank you.”
“I told you I’m not taking any crap from you and I meant it. Stand up.”
“Please would be nice.”
“Now. Thank you.”
“A regular comedian…”
“I could say the same for you.”
“Just take me home.”
“No worries, you’ll get there safe and sound. Reporters are still swarming out front, it’d be best to go out back.”
“I’m not about to be escorted out the back like a criminal. We’re walking out the front door.”
“You’re the only one who’s afraid.”
“I’m just trying to keep you safe.”
“Sounds like you need to be taking orders from me, scardy cat.”
“I don’t like you right now.”
“Big deal. We’re still walking out the front door.”
Xavier sighed, “Fine.” There was no point arguing with a made up mind. “I’ll shield you from the cameras.”
“Stop treating like I’m a China doll.”
“Jesus woman, I know you’re not fragile! Let me do my job for Christ sake. You always have something to say. Put a cork in it.” For the first time, he made her laugh, out loud in front of staring nurses.
“Okay then. Stay by my side.” She followed him as he led the way. Isidora breaking character gave him a little more hope that things between them would turn out alright. His heart was even at ease as he led her through the crowd of vultures.
“Isidora, how much do you know about the attack at the police department?” one reporter asked.
“Did you set it up?” another asked.
“Why’d you do it?” The onslaught of questions hadn’t shaken her one bit. She glided through them with her head held high and he got her safely inside his truck, she turned her head toward the cameras letting them snap all the pictures they wanted. He was proud watching her defiant will hold up under the pressure she should be crumbling under. One thing was for sure, after today, he wasn’t ever going to let her go.
©Copyright privatethoughtsmadepublic. 2016.
Next chapter here, Full Circle