Shadows

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This piece is something that I wrote for a Creative writing course on FutureLearn, a online service run by Open University.

                                                                                           Shadows

 

Sitting in the backseat, Jason shifted uneasily, the cool metal of the handcuffs biting into the skin of his wrists. He was all too aware of the police officer's stare, as the man's slate grey eyes swept over his face through the rear view mirror.

He was well used to people staring though, after the last eighteen months. First had come the pitying looks as the relationship between Kate and Adam became public knowledge on the campus, and then... He shook away the bad memories, and then realised that the police officer was talking "So you must be innocent," 

"What makes you say that?" the manners his parents had instilled in him, hadn't waned even though everything else from the past was gone. 

"I've had loads of prisoners in my car. Right about now is when they all start saying 'I didn't do it.' 'I'm innocent'." 

He struggled to hold back the snort of derision. "Well you ain't gonna hear that from me," The stream of traffic heading back into the city, caught his attention when three police cars with their sirens blaring, sped past on the other side of the reservation. 
The police officer carried on talking over the splutterings from his radio, and he forced himself to listen. He didn't really care but it did distract him from his darker thoughts.

“Stop!!” Jason shouted, when he spotted the white clad figure swaying in the middle of the road, just ahead of their car.

The police officer let out a curse, pulling the steering wheel as hard as he could to the left. The car skewed across the outer lane, plunging down the grassy verge and crashed into a thick tree.

Jason lost consciousness, when his body was jolted into the back of the police officer’s seat, his head colliding with the head rest at a tremendous pace.

The last thing he saw before everything turned black, was Kate’s bright eyes shining with love, like she had looked, the day after their wedding.

Jason strode into Salmon Enterprises with a broad smile on his face. “Good morning Stacey,” the receptionist looked astounded to see him there so early.

“Morning sir,” her face lit up in a beaming smile. “I thought that you were taking the day off.”

“I have an urgent meeting with Miss Reed, show her up the moment that she gets here would you?”

“Of course sir,” he grabbed one of the mints sitting in the bowl on the desk, and popped it in his mouth, before he moved to the elevator. The memories of the previous night flooded through him, the way her lips felt against his, the touch of her hand, the smell of her hair, the way it had felt to have somebody backing him up, an equal who was just as fearless as he was. It had been years since he had felt that good, and that content within his own skin.

The good feeling ebbed away when the doors slid open into his pent house office and he saw that Marcus Miller was waiting for him. “I know that the Millers have a very loose sense of business ethnics but I didn’t think even you would stoop to breaking and entering.” Jason circled the desk to stand behind it, he was unwilling to concede control to Marcus anywhere but especially in his own office.

“The secretary let me in, she was very friendly and obliging,” a hint of sarcastic pleasure crept into his tone as he surveyed the younger man.

Jason was relieved when the phone sprang into life, and the receptionist said “Mr Salmon, Miss Reed is here,”

“Let her come up,” he tried to hide his delight, as he knew that Marcus would probably use the fledging relationship against him in a attempt to score some kind of advantage. The Millers had hated the Salmons for generations, but it had sunk to new depths of loathing when Jason was a toddler.

The door opened and Kate walked through. She looked fresh faced and completely rejuvenated despite their very late night, and had changed into a pair of faded jeans and a bright yellow vest under a fitted jacket. “Kat! I didn’t realise that you were back in town,”

Kate smiled back as she hugged the older man “I got back last week. I’ve left a couple of messages for Adam but he must be busy. I’ve not heard back. How is he?”

“Oh he’s fine. He’s having a costume party on Halloween. You should come, I know he’d be pleased to see you,” Marcus felt a tingle of pleasure as he looked at Jason. The younger man couldn’t hide his disbelief and confusion at Kate’s evident connection with the Millers.

“That sounds great. I have a few ideas of costumes Jason and I could wear,” Kate also glanced at Jason, reaching out to take his hand. The touch of her skin against his own, drove away some of the lingering anger he held towards Miller. He had never really understood how she managed to do that, calm him down with just one touch, but it had been something that he had felt since the first time she held his hand.

“I will see you there then,” Marcus picked up his briefcase, and exited after pressing a soft kiss against Kate’s forehead.

“How do you know the Millers?” Jason let go of Kate’s hand, the moment that he heard the lift descending.

Kate’s hand came to rest at the base of his spine, hearing the angry tone to his voice. “Marcus was a college friend of my dad’s. Adam and I were kind of brought up together, a lot of shared family holidays.” She replied.

“So there was never anything…”

“Romantic?” she laughed at the idea “You’ve met Adam right? Besides I’m not the type to cheat on my husband,” Jason couldn’t hold back the smile, as he saw the thin band decorating her left hand.

He leaned down to kiss her, breathing out “I can’t believe that Miller didn’t notice my ring,” against her soft lips.

“Do you really want to talk about him?” she slipped her deft fingers into the belt loops of his pants, pulling him tighter against her. The warmth of her lithe frame sank into him, through the thin cotton of his shirt and he was unable to stop the moan from escaping. “We could continue where we left off this morning…” her lips brushed against the skin of his jaw, and he was powerless to resist the longing she had managed to inspire within him.

One of his hands slipped to the buzzer connecting his office with his secretary’s. “Mr Salmon?”

“Hold my calls for the next two hours,” he managed to say, while Kate’s nimble fingers unfastened his shirt, giving her access to the expanse of his chest.

“Yes sir,”

Jason’s eyes flickered open, and he had to suck in a breath to suppress the pain surging through his head. Blood trickled into his eyes, making it hard for him to see. “Officer?” there was no response from the front seat, and then he heard the sound of gunshots echoing outside the car.

Acting on autopilot, he kicked out at the window of the police car. It took several moments before the glass shattered, enough for him to be able to crawl free. The thick grass was soft against his knees, but he still landed with a thump. The impact sent shockwaves vibrating through his spine, and he barely managed to regain his balance. Stumbling along, the blood from the wound at his crown, dripped onto his hands.

The sight of the crimson droplets sent his brain skittering back to the night of the Halloween party.

“Jason! Are you coming?” Kate’s voice came through the open door of their bedroom, and he readjusted the sash of his costume with a frown.

“Do we really have to?”

“Yes.” Her voice was firm but tinged with laughter, and he peered around the jamb of the bathroom door. The sight that met his eyes didn’t exactly make him want to leave the flat, and head to Adam Miller’s party. Kate wore a sheer cream outfit, the top was short enough to expose a wide expanse of toned stomach muscles to his eyes, and the trousers revealed her slender legs through the diaphanous fabric. She leaned over, finishing off her eye makeup, the thick line of kohl making her deep blue eyes stand out even more in her heart shaped face.

He caught hold of her hand as she reached out for the veil which sat on her bedside table, “Are you sure that we have to go? We could have fun all on our own,” his other hand caressed the skin of her back, but the look in his eyes leaving her with no doubt what kind of fun her husband was offering.

“We’ve had fun all on our own for the last ten weeks,” she wasn’t opposed to further exploration of Jason’s seemingly insatiable taste for her, but she did want to feel like she was still connected to the world. “It’s time to act like a ordinary couple once again.” She placed the slippers she had brought on her feet, using Jason as a balancing post. “It’s only a couple of hours, that you have to put up with Adam, and the party will probably be so packed you won’t even see him,”

“Promise?” he caught hold of her around the waist, pulling her closer as she straightened up once more.

“I promise.” She pressed a kiss to his nose, just as her phone vibrated. “That’s the taxi.”

 

They had only been at the party for twenty minutes, before Kate was engulfed by old friends, all eager to catch up with her. “Do you mind?” the look in her eyes, made him say no, even though he wished that she would stay at his side. He didn’t see anyone else that he wanted to talk to, but allowed his wife’s friends to pull her to the other side of the room.

Sighing Jason wound his way through the milling crowds, making his way to the makeshift bar. “Double whiskey,” he ordered from the bartender, a pretty redhead. She brought the drink over within seconds, despite the fact that several people had been waiting longer than he had.

“Something bothering ya?”

“No. I’m just not good with crowds,” sipping at his drink, he turned back to watch the dance floor, laughing when he spotted Kate. His wife was luminous, her features shining with the love of life that had attracted him instantly to her. She danced, alongside the gaggle of girlfriends that had commandeered her, all of them singing along to the pop song currently playing.

Her smile widened even further when they locked eyes, and she gestured for him to join them. The lack of confidence he had in his dancing ability was not shared by Adam. Jason’s fists clenched, when he saw the other man shimmying between Kate and one of her friends, Adam’s hand coming to rest proprietarily on her hip.

The sight of another man, let alone Adam touching Kate in such a way made Jason set the glass down on the bar. He was in motion almost before he knew what he was doing, reaching them within a minute. “Miller.” Kate shifted away from Adam’s fingers, leaning against her husband’s frame with a relieved sigh.

“Salmon.” Adam returned the curt greeting, “I didn’t think you were here,”

“I told you he was at the bar,” Kate interjected before Jason could snarl something back. “He was just getting us some drinks, right Jase?”

“Yeah, they’re waiting back at the bar,” his fingers tightened around hers, needing the calming effect as Adam’s smug smile didn’t ease. “Are you coming?” she nodded, letting him lead the way through the crowds in that direction.

“I’ll see you later Kate,” Adam called out, before they had gone more than a few steps. “Nice to see that you still fit into the costume I brought you,”

“What?” Jason stopped dead at those words.

“She didn’t tell you? I brought her that for her twenty first, when we were dating,”

“You and Kate were never dating Adam.” Julie broke in before Kate could recover her composure. “I was there remember? You were trying to get into her knickers but she wasn’t interested. Even after all the expensive stuff you gave her.”

“That’s not true.” Adam grabbed hold of Kate’s arm as she started to move again. The impact of his fingers against her skin made her wince, the look of pain on her features springing a protective urge to life within Jason. Without thinking, he balled up one fist, letting loose a blow to Adam’s nose that sent Adam falling backwards.

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