The Derelict Chronicles: Chapter 5 (NSFW)

1

The morning was, thankfully, uneventful.  Sergio left me on the island with an emergecy pager, saying he had to check into the station to get a report, then run by his house for some clothes.  I didn’t argue, but I didn’t really like the idea of being left alone on the island by myself.

I managed to find some fishing gear in one of the closets and spent most of the morning struggling with the tackle. This may have resulted in a few girlish flip-out moments when I ended up not catching a damn thing.

Around noon, Sergio returned.  With his boat came a slew of fish because, suddenly, I was catching red herrings, clown fish, and even some odder creatures.

2

Like this guy.  According to Sergio, it was a Salamander only found in these parts and it glowed at night, thanks to the bio-luminescent materials it ate on the bottom of the sea bed.

Also, can I take a moment to point out – Sergio has one damn fine ass.  I nearly passed out when he walked out of the bungalow in swimming trunks.

3

Sergio got a little impatient with me because I kept hitting him (accidentally!) with the fish when I reeled them in.  I suggested he go out for a swim and quite bitching like a little baby.

4

He compromised by going into the shallows and acting like a little kid.  He splashed handful after handful of water at me from his little tide pool, thinking he was so clever and I wouldn’t do anything.

5

What can I say?  The beach brings out the kid in people.

6 7 8

I couldn’t believe how relaxed he seemed.  Even though he was supposed to be ‘protecting me,’ he acted more like we were friends.  Like we were out on vacation.  The creases around his eyes crinkled in laughter, not annoyance.

9 10

We ended up swimming out farther.  He seemed impressed at how unfazed I was when nurse sharks glided past.

“My ex would have flipped her shit,” he chuckled.  “She hated the ocean – well, she hated all of the things that can kill you in the ocean.”

I smiled coyly, doing my best to look alluring.  I probably looked like an idiot.  “Carpe diem, right?”  I splashed him and began a breaststroke to a nearby rock formation.  “Race ya!”

1

We spent all day in the ocean, letting the sun tan our bodies and the salt sting our eyes.  We completely missed lunch and finally dragged our tired bodies out of the water around sundown.

My phone was ringing shrilly from where I left it on the dock steps.  I picked it up, idly walking circles around where Sergio was brushing down Jasper.  There was music playing on the line, and a recording told me to ‘please hold for the caller.’  I sighed but found myself humming along to the song.  I remembered the tune, but not what it was.  Something old – something I probably heard in my music appreciation class in college.

2

After a few moments, there was a click on the other side of the line.  The music died off, replaced by a raspy breath.

My heart froze.  I knew that rattling sound.  That gasping voice.  I knew where I remembered the song from.  I knew –

“Who is this?” I demanded.  Sergio stood, taking a step toward me. I held my hand up and he stopped.

3

“Are you alone?”

That voice. Impossible.

“Layla-bean.  I asked you a question.”

I took a few more steps away from Sergio, and then a few more, until I was at the corner of the house. “Yes,” I whispered.  It came out like a sob.

“Good. You know I would be very upset if I found you alone with some boy.  Grandmother doesn’t like those shorts of yours, either.  Quit acting like a harlot, girl!”4

Tears were stinging at my eyes.  The line was garbled and far-off, but I knew that voice.  I knew the song. It was Grandma’s favorite when I was little.  She sang me to sleep with it.

I heard Sergio coming toward me, his feet somehow sounding heavy on the sand.  The line went dead in my hand, the rattling breath replaced by a dial tone.  My phone slipped out of my shaking hand.

5

“Layla, who was it?” he asked, his hands hovering over my arms.  He was afraid to touch me after I forcibly pulled away the night before.  He was afraid to overstep professional bounds.

My hand rose to his bicep and fluttered there.  I raised my eyes to him, let him see the tears, and whispered, “Why don’t you think I’m crazy? Why do you have me out here?  What did you find that you’re trying to protect me from?”

He cleared his throat and glanced to the side before his gaze returned to mine.  “We received some envelopes in the mail at the precinct yesterday.  Pictures. Of you.”

I raised an eyebrow.  “Pictures?”

He looked away from me again.  “I don’t think you want to see them.”

I blinked and he sighed.  “Come on.”  He led me into the bungalow and grabbed his briefcase, pulling out a manila folder.  The handwriting on the front was crisp and painstakingly done.  It was addressed to Sergio specifically.

The first photos weren’t too bad.  Even though the notations at the bottom were a little creepy, all in that slow, deliberate hand.

1

Your studies should be done on time, Layla.  Your studies are not for the night before the due date.

2

You shouldn’t skip classes, Layla.  We know you’re not sick.  We know you stayed out partying. 


The next pictures caused my blood to freeze.

3

Harlot.4

Whore. 6

You should have died.  Not your brother.  You.

I dropped the photos and sank down into the chair. My hands were still shaking.  Sergio silently picked up the photos and put them back in the manila folder, careful not to meet my eyes.

“You looked at them?” I asked softly.

“Only long enough to determine it was… you.”

Screenshot

When I didn’t answer, he stepped closer.  “Layla, it’s my job.  I would never have-”

I held a hand up.  “It’s not a big deal. You didn’t take the pictures.”  I swallowed.  “You’re going to ask me when that was, right?  Junior year of college.  That was my boyfriend at the time.  Well…. Not a boyfriend, but.  You know.”  I rolled my eyes.  “I wasn’t exactly known for my chastity then.”

He nodded and looked uncomfortable with that tidbit. Jasper started whining, as if he sensed the tension.  “Did you have a roommate or someone who was there-“

I rolled my eyes.  “No!  Well, sure, my roommate could have taken the first two.  Those could have been anytime that year.  But the last ones?” I scoffed, crossing my arms over my chest.  “I might have slept with a few guys, but I didn’t invite others in to watch.”

“What about… a brother?”

“I’ve never had a brother. That I know of,” I added.  “My mom left after I was born.  She might have had another kid before she-” I broke off.  No one knew my mother was dead.  She was still reported as a missing person.  I was one of the only ones to have seen her reanimated corpse.

Sergio, thankfully, didn’t catch my slip up.  I am sure after as many years as she’s been missing, everyone thinks she’s dead. “I had to ask.”

“I know.”  I sighed again.  “I’m going to go get changed.  You better have something alcoholic and some good music on by the time I get back.  I’m not sure I can function without those.”

“Alcohol isn’t such a great idea,” he warned.  “I can’t guard you if-“

“If what?” I challenged.  “If some creeper starts taking pictures of me?  Fuck it. I don’t care. Bring it on.”

Luckily, if there was one thing Sergio knew how to do, it was mix drinks and pick music.

Screenshot-2 Screenshot-3 Screenshot-5

By the time it was three in the morning, I was sufficiently sloshed and dancing in my pajamas to Jack White’s rendition of Love is Blindness.  I don’t know how I didn’t see it coming. I don’t know how I didn’t realize that it would happen.  But, hindsight is 20/20, after all.

26

He kissed me.27

And I kind of, sort of, kissed back…

Fuck.

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