How could she make him understand that was the way she was? It was how she coped. Running away might be the coward’s way out, but at least it kept her heart safe. Why had she ever thought this was a good idea? She fled to her own room and shut the door behind her.
SKYLAR’S LAST, ANGUISHED word echoed through his head.Sorry. She had nothing to be sorry about. He was the dickhead who’d fucked everything up. What should he do? He couldn’t leave things like this. One minute they’d been making love, in a cocoon of warm desire, and the next, he’d been acting like a complete ass, demanding she do something because of his expectations. Skylar had enough of men telling her what to do, of trying to control her. No wonder she ran away from him.
He limped down the hallway and knocked softly on her door. “Skylar, can I come in?”
He knocked again. “Please let me in. We can talk about this. We need to talk about this.”
Still no answer.
He could just barge right in there, there was no lock on the door. But something told him Skylar wouldn’t appreciate that. If she needed her space, then perhaps the least he could do after his monumental screw-up, was give it to her.
Nash hobbled back to bed. He lay on his back, staring at the ceiling.
His body was craving sleep, and his leg ached like a bitch, but he knew his mind would give him no rest.
An hour later, Nash was still staring at the ceiling, still with no clarity on how to approach his problem with Skylar.
There was a noise outside his window. Nash sat up, listening intently. There it was again. A thump, followed by a shout. Something was going on.
Quickly, he pulled on some shorts. And then reached for his nightstand, retrieving his weapon from the top drawer. He’d taken to keeping the loaded gun in his bedside table at night for easy access. He slid quietly out of the bedroom and walked down the hallway, making sure that Skylar’s bedroom door remained shut. Holding his weapon in both hands, pointed at the floor, he stood in the middle of the living room, listening.
There were no more noises, and no more shouting. He wanted to check outside, but he dared not leave Skylar unprotected. So, he waited, staying away from the windows and the door, knowing that Newman would report if there was anything amiss. He flicked on the light switch for the backyard spotlight, knowing it’d light up the whole of the yard. The small light above the front porch was left all night as extra security, but he left all the internal lights off, except for the kitchen, which’d been on the whole time.
Just when he could no longer stand the suspense, there was a quiet knock on the front door, and Newman called out, “Senior Constable King, it’s me, Constable Newman. May I enter?”
Recognizing the other man’s voice, Nash lowered his weapon, but kept it ready, just in case. Limping to the front door, he unlocked the deadbolt. “Come in,” he muttered.
“Sorry to disturb you, sir.” The young man seemed out of breath and agitated. He took one look at Nash’s state of undress and the gun in his hand, and said, “But I guess you heard what was going on outside.”
Nash nodded. “Give me the rundown, Newman.” He was in no mood for chitchat. Newman looked abashed, and Nash fleetingly wondered if he’d been caught dozing on the job.
“There was someone outside,” Newman said. “I heard something, but I wasn’t sure at first. It’s hard to hear anything over the crickets and the cane toads at night sometimes.”
Nash nodded impatiently for Newman to continue.
“I’d just finished a perimeter check fifteen minutes beforehand, and I was standing in the front driveway. There were a few odd noises, but I checked the road and saw no unusual cars, or other activity, so I ignored it, at first. It wasn’t until I heard a definite thump and then a scraping sound, like maybe someone was trying to jimmy a window open, that I decided to investigate. I crept around the side of the house. But whoever was there must’ve heard me coming. They took off before I could get a good look at them. I gave chase, but they disappeared into the bush over the back fence.”
Nash’s house was on the outskirts of town, and while it had a neat little grassy yard, it backed on to an area of surrounding bushland. Dirt trails crisscrossed the area like a maze. The guy could be anywhere by now.
“I should’ve investigated earlier. I’m sorry,” Newman said.
“Are you sure there was only one person?” Nash asked. He was playing out scenarios in his head, trying to figure out if they were indeed safe now. They’d all become a little too casual about this whole threat, not quite believing the gunman would try again. Newman wasn’t the only one to blame for his lack of urgency, Nash was also culpable.
“I can’t be sure, sir. I didn’t really see much of anything. It was too dark. I heard someone clamber over the fence and saw the fleeting impression of a lone figure disappearing into the trees. That’s all.”
“Okay,” Nash said slowly. It seemed like the threat was gone. For now.
“I’m sorry, sir,” Newman apologized again.
“No harm done. You did a good job,” Nash replied gruffly, placating the young constable. He hadn’t done anything wrong. And perhaps if he hadn’t been so vigilant, whoever was out there may well have got inside.
There was a noise, and both men swung around at the same time to see Skylar come down the hallway, hair tousled and eyes bloodshot. Thankfully, she’d donned a pair of pyjamas. “What’s going on?”