Excerpt 4

Tyler was exchanging simple male greetings with Eddy that involved a “hi” and the utterly clueless “did you get in okay?” as Reine reached the last step.  She found herself thinking about just how weird these guys were.  If she were Tyler, her first words would have more along the “why are you in my chair in my living room in my house without me here” lines, but as she had been constantly realizing, she was not and never would be anything like Tyler.  That was good, she reminded herself, based on her latest realizations.
Tyler glanced her way and simply nodded.  Reine wondered if she was transparent.  Did that nod mean something else?  Was she reading too much into the situation?  She had to stop and mentally step back at that thought.  Since when did she read into things?  That was too normal for her to do.  She always faced life or whatever its surface looked like and never questioned it.  Why did she suddenly start cross-examining every angle?  She knew the answer all too well, and he was standing in front of her looking as if he wanted to say something but wasn’t sure how she would respond.
She was almost nice and answered his unasked question with “Work went fine.  How was yours?” but then she remembered who he was.  Why should she be nice to someone who had talked her dad into getting her mom killed and was probably keeping her in his house only to use her as a hostage if he needed to.
Instead, she abruptly broke the silent connection that she had suddenly realized existed between her and Tyler right then by turning to Eddy.  “Did you find anything interesting playing?” she asked.
Eddy shrugged.  “Nascar.”
Reine sighed and turned toward the kitchen, making sure that there could be no doubt from her body language that she was disappointed.  “My life has not gotten so unpredictably exciting yet that I would purposefully bore myself by watching a bunch of grown men driving fast cars turn left for an hour,” she said loudly enough for them to hear as she stalked past Eddy, through the living room, and toward the kitchen.
She could hear them both laughing behind her, and it severely grated on her nerves.  She didn’t say anything, though.  She just kept walking with her back perfectly straight and her long hair swished over her shoulders.  She needed a hair cut, but she was really appreciating the way her hair had become a shield.  When people could actually see her face, middle schoolers always called her a vampire because her complexion was extremely pale and her hair’s darkness only accentuated that.  Her only facial feature that she’d ever really liked was her eyes, which she had been in the habit of “unveiling” so to speak when she was upset.  People would be trapped in the icy stare of her freezing blue eyes and they wouldn’t notice her face.
Regardless, she wasn’t in middle school any more, and she really need a hair cut.  Maybe she even needed to get her bangs redone.  But if she did that, how would she shield herself?  There were quite a few considerations to consider, but she knew that she needed a change somewhere.  Maybe it should just be a styling thing.  She was wondering what she would really do and when she would do it when Eddy appeared and began looking through the cabinets for something, probably a coffee mug.
Reine pulled out the ground coffee and starting fixing a pot in Tyler’s fancy but hardly ever used coffee maker.  Coffee would probably be good from the look of things.
“You know, I like your hair long,” Eddy mentioned.  That settled it.  Reine immediately resolved to get her hair cut short.  “It is just such a part of your character, and I don’t know that you’d really be the same without it.”
Reine felt drawn to answer this one, mostly because deep down inside she did have a bit of feminine curiosity.  “And if I wouldn’t be the same, what am I now?”
Eddy shrugged.  “As ironic as it is, I’m not sure about that because I’ve never really seen you.”
“So who I am is based entirely on my looks?” Reine demanded immediately.
Eddy froze apparently aware just too late of his mistake.  “No.  You really are a lot like Mariah.  You don’t trust Tyler, do you?”
It was Reine’s turn to freeze as he turned his full attention on her.  Eddy sighed and shook his head.  “Mariah was the same way.  It may seem weird, but you just get used to it.”
“Apparently not,” Reine said pointedly, remembering his mistake just a moment ago.
“And you guys don’t understand how to let things go either.”
“Not that you’re an expert,” Reine put in again.  She knew that Tyler was there.  It was obvious from the fact that Eddy was using full sentences.  “Tyler, you going to put your two cents in?”
“How did you know I was here?” Tyler asked in a genuinely surprised voice.  “Do you have eyes in the back of your head?”
“I, unlike you terribly deceived guys, actually have my tricks,” Reine lied easily.  It was better to just make it look like she and Tyler were best friends in front of Eddy.  Because, of course, it was always good to lie to the detective.
“Right,” Eddy said, drawing it out much longer than it needed to be.  “Well, are you going to start the coffee or not?”
“I’m rubbing off on her,” Tyler teased lightly.
Reine straightened quickly, or at least she would have if she weren’t already straight as it was.  “You better not be!  What would my mom say?”
Tyler moved casually from behind her to behind Eddy.  “How am I supposed to know?  Wasn’t I the guy who didn’t know any thing about her and because of my ignorance totally ruined her life?  Why don’t you answer that question?”  Before Reine had gotten sufficient control of herself to reply in a way that would not have gotten her grounded, much as she hated Tyler’s self-exerted authority, Tyler had turned to Eddy and entirely changed tones.  “Are you using that cabinet, or can I get something out of there?”
Eddy seemed to be somewhat stunned at Tyler’s imitation outburst, and he silently moved to the side.
Recovering her ability to speak, Reine answered Eddy’s original question.  “No, I don’t think I’ll start the coffee,” she said woodenly.  “Why don’t we go into the living room?” she asked Eddy.
Eddy nodded slowly, seemingly just realizing that life hadn’t actually frozen in place at Tyler’s shift in demeanor and outburst.  “Okay.”
They silently went into the living room and sat side by side in their usual seats on the sofa, still acting as if in a daze.  Reine looked at Eddy after a minute of silence.  “What happened?” she asked.
It looked like there had been ice surrounding him and her question had just cracked the ice.  He shook his head quickly and looked back at Reine.  “Maybe that whole going to see a shrink thing is a good idea for at least one of us,” was all he answered.


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