SYNOPSIS: Jason Franco is an aspiring novelist stuck in a dead end job working for a newspaper in a small town where nothing exciting happens until someone rapes and murders a young woman only eighteen years old. All evidence points to the woman's boyfriend who confesses to the crime. Jason is assigned to write a follow-up story for the paper and soon suspects that the local police are covering up for one of their own. Jason enlists the help from a high school classmate who works at the state crime and the two soon fall in love. Jason and his girlfriend, Tina, follow the leads and Jason finds himself a target for the rapist turned murderer. An attempt on Jason's life puts him in the hospital as the alleged rapist commits suicide. An unexpected turn of events put Jason back in the cross hairs of a different killer.
Tina Nussbaum, High School Classmate
Friday, June 26, 2015
[Part 2 of Chapter 9]
“I still need to talk to you. How shall we do this?” asked Jason.
“Well, we could go to my house except my parents are expecting me. I’m guessing that yours are expecting you. If we go to a motel, my parents will find out. They know everyone in town. Not that they mind but I can’t stand the interrogation afterwards.”
“Yeah. This is a little awkward. I was talking about the interview.”
Jason turned toward Tina and kissed her. Tina kissed him back. As they embraced they rocked gently from side to side.
Tina looked into his eyes. “Thanks for dinner. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time. I wish this night would never end.”
Jason smiled. “Me too.”
“I’ve an idea. Let’s both go home to please our parents. Then make up an excuse to tell them that you have to go to Cheyenne tonight. Better yet, I’ll call you at nine thirty. Tell your parents that it’s an urgent message, and you have to go to Cheyenne. Meet me at McDonald's at ten. We’ll drive down to Cheyenne for the weekend. I’ve a nice apartment. My roommate is with her boyfriend this weekend.”
“I don’t know. I don’t like lying to my parents. Besides, I need to work on this story.”
“I understand. If you come, I’ll answer all your questions. Tomorrow, I’ll even take you to the crime lab and you can see for yourself what we do. The lab is closed but we can still get access. Later, we can go to a nice restaurant.”
“Okay. That’s great, but I don’t have a lot of money.”
“My treat. I’m well paid.”
“I don’t know…”
Tina leaned her body against Jason’s and patted his chest. “Listen Jason, unless you’ve a better offer, you had better take this one. I’m not going to beg.”
Jason smiled. “Okay. It’s a date.” He wrapped his arms around Tina's small waist.
As they kissed again, Tina grabbed his buttocks. After a couple more kisses, Jason walked her to her jeep. It was a 2014 Jeep Wrangler painted brown and gold, the colors of Wyoming University. On each side was a large decal of a cowboy on a bucking bronco. Jason circled around the jeep.
“Well, what do you think of my jeep?”
“I’m looking for the long horns.”
Tina didn’t laugh. “That’s a Texas thing. Besides, I opted for the AC instead.”
Tina sat on the hood as Jason stood in front of her and kissed her. She wrapped her legs around his hips. They made out for a few minutes and finally kissed good night.
Jason was eager to see what was on the thumb drive that Tina gave him so he went straight to the Star Gazette offices. He was still there when Tina called at nine thirty. He drove home and threw a change of clothes and his shaving kit into a bag for the weekend. He told his parents that he would be out of town working on the Littlefield story all weekend.
Jason made a point of being early and arrived before Tina. He sat in a booth near the window so he could watch the parking lot. Soon he was lost in his thoughts.
“Hey.” Tina startled Jason when she stood next to him.
Jason stood up. “I’m sorry. I didn’t see you come in. You, you look so different.” The truth was that he didn’t recognize her at all. Tina was wearing a pair of jean shorts and a denim short-sleeve shirt. She had on a cowboy hat and boots. Her hair was pulled back into a pony tail.
“The next words out of your mouth better be a compliment or you’ll have to walk to Cheyenne.”
‘No. No. I mean you look terrific but so different from earlier.”
“You call yourself a writer and that’s the best you can come up with?”
“You look fantastic. Sexy, hot…”
“Give up, lover boy, you’re thirsty. This is what I normally wear on weekends when I’m not all gorge for a Chinese dinner date. You look pretty much the same.”
“I don’t recall you dressing like this in high school.”
“I guess you could say that I re-branded myself in college.”
Jason was still wearing the same khaki shorts and a light blue polo shirt that he wore earlier. He shrugged his shoulders.
Tina smiled. “What are you driving these days?”
“My '88 Buick.”
“Isn’t that the red car you drove in high school?”
“And in college and now. It’s very reliable. It has less than 100,000 miles.”
“Why don’t you leave your car here? There’s a shuttle van that leaves the Cheyenne airport at seven on Monday morning. The first stop is here. You could be in your office by nine.”
Jason thought that it was a good idea and agreed. On the way to Cheyenne, Jason and Tina started to discuss the information on the Littlefield case. Jason told her what he learned from talking with Paulo and others. After an hour there was lull in the conversation. They had pretty well covered all the high points.
Jason cleared his throat. “I heard you were dating someone in college. What happened?”
Tina shook her head. “He took a job in Omaha and that was that.”
“You didn’t want to move to Omaha?”
“He didn’t ask.”
“Oh... If he had asked, would you have gone to Omaha?”
“Yeah. At the time, I was very much into him. I’d have gone but I think I’d have regretted it.”
“Like I said, he wasn’t into me as much as I was into him. Now I like my job. I like Cheyenne, and I like being close to my family and I like you. How about you? You were dating someone too.”
“Once I dropped out of college, it became difficult to carry on a relationship. I guess we just drifted apart.”
“So what happened to her? Did you keep in touch?”
“I don’t know. We didn’t keep in touch.”
In front of the door to her apartment, Tina said, “Give me two minutes. I need to make sure my roommate isn’t here and the place looks presentable.” After a few minutes, she returned and opened the door. “Okay, the coast is clear. We have the place to ourselves.”
Her apartment was nice but small. It was on the second floor. There were two bedrooms and large room that served as a dining room and living room. The small kitchen had a breakfast counter.
“Why don’t you relax while I slip into something more comfortable? I’ll make us some margaritas.” Tina turned on the TV before heading toward her bedroom.
Jason sat down and watched the news. Soon, he could hear Tina in the kitchen making the margaritas. After a couple more minutes, she appeared in the doorway to the kitchen. She was naked except for her hat and boots.
Tina smiled. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” She held up a lasso in one hand and a margarita in the other. “What’s it going to be?”
Jason was surprise. Things were moving quicker than he’d expected. His eyes followed down her body, stopping for an instance on her nice breasts. She had a pierced navel and a small tattoo of a cowboy on her upper thigh. His gaze settled on her groin which was shaved bare. He couldn’t help but stare. It reminded him of the picture of Angelina and Paulo.
Tina caught his stare. “I didn’t know if you preferred a bare floor or a carpet.” When Jason didn’t answer, Tina asked, “Are you okay with this?”
“Oh definitely. It’s just that I took you for a more natural woman.”
“You must have me mistaken for a mountain girl.” She raised her arms and said, “See, I shaved my arm pits and legs too.” She did a slow pirouette.
“So I see. Nice.”
“Nice? Nice? You better keep your day job. So what’s it going to be?” She held up the lasso and margarita again.
Jason laughed. “Both sound intriguing, but I think I’ll stick with the easy way.”
“Good.” Tina threw the lasso on the couch and set the drink on the coffee table in front of Jason.
Jason took the hint and stood up. He undressed, not bothering to unbutton anything. In a few seconds he stood there naked and fully aroused.
Tina laughed. “I see that you’re a mountain-man, no manscaping.”
“Is that okay?”
Tina moved closer and ran her fingers through Jason’s chest hair, gently massaging his nipples. “Yes, I like, cowboy.” She put her arms around Jason’s neck and gave him a French kiss. Jason held her breast for a second and then slid his hands down to her buttock. He lifted slightly and Tina wrapped her legs around his waist. Jason carried her into the bedroom.