The crimson stone – Preview #4

After tossing and turning in my bed for God knows how long, the idle vampire in me snuggles deeper under the duvet in a vain attempt to escape light. The cold February sun reflecting on the snow carpet creates a blinding light that filters in through the window and makes it impossible to sleep. On top of that, yesterday’s events have been crowding my mind ever since I left the police headquarters. At some point of my restless night, the meeting with Christopher must have crept into my dreams, for I remember pieces of a conversation we never had. I try to recall what we were saying but the more I focus the blurrier the memory gets and it’s frustrating. With a deep snort I check the clock. It’s a few minutes past 7 a.m. on a day without looming deadlines, which means it’s way too early to wake up, so I decide to just chill in bed for a little longer. Over the past hours every possible feeling has vied for my supremacy, making me bounce back and forth between frustration, curiosity, anger, confusion, sense of guilt and, it would be pointless to deny it, a fair amount of worry. How do you deal with the doubt that someone you used to know closely might have done something so beastly? Oh. Come on. It’s Chris. Remember? Yes, that Chris who saved you from more than one hangover. He’s no Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He’s your old friend! Who am I kidding? I don’t know that man anymore. He’s a celebrity now, let’s face it, and the side effects of fame are unpredictable. What could I do anyway? Accepting his appeal is not an option, my days as lawyer are dead and buried, nothing and nobody can change my mind. Even if they weren’t? Criminal law and I have never been crazy about each other.

When the sound of Hannah’s footfall outside my door interrupts my nonsense, it’s almost a relief. I listen closely and upon hearing nothing but silence, I convince myself that she went back to sleep. I’ve been barely lazing for a few minutes and my head is already spinning, until a light knock on my door tells me I was wrong about my daughter. It’s the second day in a row we both wake up early, though my insomnia has a name and a face this time. “Come on in,” I invite her, reemerging from the dark comfort of my cobalt pillow with a stifled grunt and a drowsy smile.

“I can’t sleep,” she whispers. Her ruffled curls frame her oval and fall on her peach cheeks, accenting the tiny button of her nose.

She looks almost sorry to intrude this early in the morning, so I pat on the mattress as an invitation for her to join me. It doesn’t happen often, especially lately, that she needs – or wants – some motherly cuddling, so when she walks in, then closes back the door behind her, I smile, make room for her under the blankets and watch as she lays down on her side, facing me. But the instant she stares at me with restless eyes, almost frightened, the reason of her insomnia is not a mystery anymore. It’s happening again. I close my eyes, struggling to come to terms with the idea. What I hate more in all of this mess is not being forced into a situation, or being completely unaware of what is going to happen, or how it’s going to end. The one thing hurting me the most is to know that my daughter never volunteered for this. This time, more than ever, having to question her feels like a real violence and my resigned exhale gives away all my reluctance. “I think you have to tell me everything you remember about that dream.”

“It’s happening again, isn’t it?” Her question is barely whispered, almost timorous.


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