June 26, 2017

Intermission: Back in Sunset Valley, 2


Macy was humming as she mixed up a nice family salad.  She liked taking care of her family.  Her Dad kept trying to convince her to go out more, to date a little more, but she preferred to stay home.  It was just too difficult to put herself out there.

This, her family, it was safe.

"I'm going to beat you!" Jackson cried out across the room. 
She glanced over into the living room and saw Jackson and Jeremy getting into a video game. 

"No! No! No!" Jeremy called out with frustration, tapping his controller desperately in an attempt to beat his boyfriend.  She could've told him there was no way he could win.  Not with as much as Jackson "practiced" every day!
She chuckled under her breath, finishing off the salad with a low-fat vinaigrette. 

Then, the phone rang.
"I've got it!" she called out, setting aside meal prep.  Wiping her hands on her jeans, she hurried to the desk and grabbed the phone. 

"Hello?" she asked with a smile.
The voice on the other line filled her with dread.  "Lacie... oh my plumbbob," she whispered, horrified at the unwelcome reality check.  Her hand shook as she lifted her hand to cover the speaker and called out,  "DAD! It's Lacie!"

She heard a hiss from the phone, and lifted the receiver back up to her ear.  "Lacie?" she asked, relieved to hear the dial tone.


Jason's steps pounded on the stairs as he raced down.

"Is it Lacie?" he asked, worry and strain thickening his voice.
Macy faltered, dropping the phone back into the charger.  "She... she hung up..." she stuttered, looking away from the devastated look he shared with Moudy.  "I.... I'm sorry..."
"She hung up?" Jason asked, bracing himself.  "Well, this is good, right? She reached out to us.  It's the first step to getting her the help she needs, right?"  Jason turned to his friend, Moudy.  "Right?"
Moudy nodded.  "That's right. She heard you," he assured Jason. 
Jason's shoulders drooped.  "I just feel like I failed her," he said regretfully.  "I failed my baby girl.."
It killed Macy to see how much her Dad still suffered because of Lacie.  She'd argued with him about trying to reach out and contact her twin.  Unfortunately, he thought Lacie needed help and maybe some meds.  Macy knew deep down that Lacie was rotten to the core. 

She blew out a shaky breath and massaged the back of her neck.  But, still, nobody listened to her...
 

Unable to stand it a moment longer, she pushed past Dad and Moudy, racing upstairs to her room.  She paced for a few minutes, feeling such hopelessness and helplessness. 

With a frustrated shudder, she brutally wiped the tears from her eyes.

She was done crying.  She was done being helpless.

Slipping her phone from her back pocket, she thumbed through her contacts until she reached his number.

She only hesitated a moment before selecting the number.   She chewed her lip nervously as she waited for him to answer.   He answered the phone with a curt greeting.

"Hi.. This is Macy... Macy Black-Wolff..." she stuttered anxiously.  She gathered her newly-found confidence around her like a blanket.  "Can we talk?"


"Are you sure you can't come?" Jason asked with a strained smile.  She could tell Dad was trying hard to put on a happy face and act like nothing was wrong. 
"Yeah, I just wanted to hang out at home.  Maybe watch a couple of chick flicks," she lied.

Jason grimaced playfully.  "You're on your own on that one!" he teased.

Macy licked her lips and laughed, her gaze darting towards Jackson, who was watching her carefully.  "What?" she asked.
Jackson kept his gaze on her as he shrugged.  "Nothing," he said slowly, drawing the word out.  "Have fun!"

Macy couldn't help but feel like he saw through her.  How could he possibly know what she had planned?  One word from Jackson and it would all fall apart...

"Come on, Jackson! Let's go get Jeremy!" Moudy called out from the kitchen after shutting the dishwasher.  He smiled at Macy as he looped his arm around his son's shoulder. 

"Are you sure?" Jason asked again, hesitating a moment before adding, "We'll just be at the Winter Fair.  Feel free to meet us there!"
Macy waved as the boys headed out.  "I'll text if I change my mind!" she told her dad, anxious for them to leave.  It felt like it took them forever to leave!


Not long after they'd left, there was a slight knock on the door.  Macy batted down the fluttery feeling she felt at the sound. 
The door swung open and Macy stepped back to allow Leo to step inside.  "Th... thank you for coming..." she said nervously. Swallowing past the lump of unease was difficult since her mouth was so dry. 
Leo looked at her impassively.  "You said you wanted to talk?" he pressed, getting down to business right away.

Macy nodded tightly.  "I... I did." 

His lack of aura still bothered her.  Every one else she had run into had some sort of aura surrounding them.  Sometimes it was a deep color, indicating strong feelings of some sort.  Other times it could be a thin, light color.  But, there was usually something.
Apparently he was done waiting for her to get to the point.  Leo grasped his glasses off and pulled them off, leveling her with his straight-forward gaze.  "So? Talk."

Macy's mouth abruptly starting watering.  She shifted uncomfortably, feeling caught in his sights.  "I... it's about Lacie..." she said, reminding herself of the reason she called him over.

She was done being helpless.
Impatient, Leo prowled through her house, cataloging everything.  There was nothing that seemed to escape his laser gaze. 

She watched him move, likening his body to that of a panther in her mind.  He moved with a constrained grace, an economy of movement. 
He glanced over his shoulder and caught her staring.  She blushed brightly.  "Great picture," he said without emotion. 

Macy cleared her throat, determined to see this through.  Leo could help her.  "She called today," she began, trailing off when Leo turned to face her, taunt and ready to pounce.

She shook her head.  It must be her imagination.  Leo was a private investigator.  He'd offered to help.
He surprised her when he reached for the phone and quickly flipped through the last called log. 

"It was just her cell phone.  She didn't answer when Dad tried to call back," she said apologetically.

Leo nodded, setting the phone back in place.  "And you called me because?..." he trailed off.
"I... well... I was hoping that you could help find her.  I..." she hesitated, feeling it gauche to bring up money this early in the conversation.  "I don't have much money saved up, but I have a trust fund.  I can afford to pay you whatever you ask."

At this, the first sign of any sort of emotion cracked through.  Leo's eyebrow raised and his lip tilted, as if she'd amused him.  A light yellow pulse of aura crackled around him for moments before blinking out.  Macy's mouth dropped open. 

"We can discuss details later," Leo responded, putting her off.  "I'll get back to you after I've done a little investigating."  He turned to leave without another word.
"Wait!" Macy called out suddenly.

Leo paused mid-stride and focused on her again.  His piercing stare made her stomach flip.
"Be careful," she whispered, thinking about how dangerous her twin could be.  She would hate for something to happen to Leo because of her.

Leo's gaze shot up to her own.  He considered her steadily, as though waiting for her to say something more.

Macy felt like a fool.  Of course he was going to be careful.  He probably thought she was a simpleton!  She looked down at her feet, her cheeks heating with embarrassment.

Looking down, she missed the light swirl of green that shimmered around him for just seconds before fading into nothing.

Leo hit the call button on the phone as he drove away without a moment's hesitation.

"Yes?" The sound came in crisp and clear over the car stereo, thanks to the miracle of bluetooth technology.

"I have a lead," he replied. 

A pause.  "Good.  Very good."


Jackson knocked on the door and then stepped inside.  "Alright, so tell the truth," he said.  "What are you up to?"