Countdown [Part 2]

Last night was difficult for Anna and the cycling had only done so little to settle her nerves, which left her too restless to sleep. All night she stayed awake, remembering that night seven years ago. The memories fresh in her mind, reminding her who she used to be and who she is now after what had occurred. Her life was no longer the same. She was no longer the same. She was eroding away in front of her own eyes and there was nothing she could do to stop what seemed to be the inevitable. Dammit, she muttered to herself in her bed. One night was all it took to have her clutching onto her sheets again for dear life, when she was in no apparent harm. She thought about the letter again and the photo and shock inwardly. It was stressful enough to not know whether this was a just someone with sardonic humour, but something in the back of her mind screamed alarms.
The same voice that screamed alarms seven years ago, but she ignored. Anna had learnt her lesson and she learnt the hard way. She’d find herself rummaging through her memories to see if she knew the man in the photo, but nothing came to mind. Instead she’d try to remember the man laying dead in the picture and then remember Detective Sutherland.
There was something about Sutherland that made Anna feel protected. And that alone was what was scaring her. She barely knew the man, let alone spoke to him. But the aura that fed off him was something she treasured, a feeling she had no awareness that she desired, but had wanted so deeply. Anna wasn’t prepared to teach today, with her mind still wandering back and forth between Sutherland and the photo, she wasn’t focused enough to prepared students for upcoming exams. But she was sure as hell she wasn’t going to stay at home, where there was definitely no escape of the events of last night and Sutherland. She began to clear her mind and focus on the paperwork that was stacked on her desk as her students were reading, when the door knocked. She looked up to see Mike standing in her doorway, with that grin that made her skin want to turn inside out.

“Miss Phillips can I have a word outside please?” Anna excused herself from the class and made her way outside, hoping Mike wasn’t trying to ask her on yet another date, because she didn’t know what other excuse to give him to avoid his proposal. It was bad enough he kept asking knowing she wasn’t interested in him, but being her boss made everything more difficult. Mike didn’t know when to take the hint, especially when it came to Anna, and he didn’t seem to read expression very well too. Because if he looked closely for just a second, he would realise every time he spoke to Anna, she’d recoil within herself. Every time he stepped just a little too close to her, she made sure the gap between them was more than big enough to give her the space she needed. So whatever Mike thought he was seeing between himself and Anna was far from reality.
“What’s the issue?” Anna asked looking at Mike. He shrugged, directing her towards a figure that was behind her with his gaze. She turned around to see Detective Sutherland, standing just as large and confident as he did in her living room the night before.
“I have no idea, but I do hope you’re not starting trouble Miss Phillips – you’re too much of an asset to lose.”
She cringed at his comment, knowing what he meant and faced the detective.

 

Sutherland, who had caught every meaning to that slimy principals comment, clenched his jaw, watching Anna attentively to see if she’d received his subliminal meaning. When he saw her slightly flinch and turn away from him, he decided to react the same, there was no need to fight this woman’s battles just yet – even though he wanted to. No matter how much he tried to fight it, it was the first time in a long time he wanted to protect any woman who wasn’t family or his partner. The world was a cruel place, it gave when it wanted to give and took when it wanted to take. He thought of his life only just a few years ago and grew stiff at the sour memories. He needed to pull himself together, this was no time to reminisce on the past and the ‘what could have’s’, instead he focused on the now, and that was finding out more about Anna Phillips and who would send her a picture of a dead man.
“I have a few questions to ask you Miss Phillips, is there somewhere private we can talk?”
Kane wanted privacy, with the principal still lingering around like an unwanted smell, he didn’t want to ask anything that could possibly cause complications to the investigation. Anna looked towards the class and Kane.
“I hope you don’t mind sparing 30 minutes, I’m in the middle of teaching. But after, I’ll be free to answer any of your questions.” Kane nodded then faced the principal.

“Is there a place I can wait until Miss Phillips is finished?” He nodded and began walking down the corridor. Kane could destroy this weasel who thought he was a man in a second if he truly wanted to. Not only did Kane tower over him, but is was clear enough that physically, Kane weighed and worked out more than this principal did. As the man continued down the corridor, leading Kane further away from Anna, Kane dared to turn around to catch one more glimpse of Anna and did he catch an eyeful. Not only did her pencil skirt accentuate her curvaceous body figure, but the shirt she wore grew tighter around her breasts, almost making Kane salivate. Like a dog, because I’m behaving like one. Kane shook his head, trying to focus on the matter at hand. But when Anna hadn’t entered the classroom, he realised she too was watching him. When he caught her eyes staring at him, she disappeared in the classroom without giving him a chance to react. The principal led him to the waiting room outside of his office.

“Sorry,” Kane spoke. “Does Miss Phillips have many friends here?”
“A few,” the principal replied nonchalantly.”She does her job and leaves. I’d consider myself one of those few she classifies as a friend. I’ll always look out for Miss Phillips.”
Kane’s body tensed, this man was more than interested in Anna. It seemed he would do more that the average to get her attention, which made Kane dislike him even more.
Through gritted teeth Kane spoke, “what about teaching?”
“Oh, Anna always goes that extra mile for her students, there’s no doubt in that. She is definitely an asset to this school and losing her would be a major loss for me.”
How much more could Kane take before his primal instincts took the better of him. He took a deep breath and continued.
“So you’d say she’s a good colleague?”
“She’s amazing. Just very quiet.” A woman spoke from behind Kane. He turned around and was met by a tall, slim ebony beauty. She greeted him with a smile and stuck her hand out for a shake.
“I’m Toni, Mike you have a call on line one.”
In a flash Mike the principal disappeared into his office, leaving Kane standing alone with Toni.
“I’m –” Kane wasn’t sure what to address himself as. He didn’t want Anna’s business spreading like wildfire, and he wasn’t sure what the repercussions would be if he told Toni who he was. “I’m an old school friend.”
Toni smiled whilst looking towards Mike, who was now behind his desk, chatting away on the phone.
“Mike’s odd, don’t mind him. We’ve all guessed he has a crush on Anna, but if she’s going to ignore it, then so will we.” Kane looked at Mike then shook his head.
“A little unprofessional, don’t you think?”
“Hell, when it comes to Anna, the man acts like he’s never seen a woman before.” She huffed and continued. “Chasing like a dog without a leash, it’s embarrassing. The man just doesn’t know when to stop.” Kane made a mental note of Mike, and thought to conduct a background check on him when he got back to the office.

“Does he behave like that all the time?” Kane asked, partly to keep the conversation going, whilst wanting to know more about Anna.
“It went up a notch when Anna’s ex split with her…that was years ago now. But ever since then, Mike never stopped trying.”
There was an ex, Kane made another mental note and decided to ask Anna when he saw her. His phone vibrated in his pocket, whilst he was just about to continue his conversation with Toni. He grabbed it, seeing the caller ID and decided that the conversation could wait.
“Sorry excuse me.” He left the building, praying his partner Charlie had some good news about the case.

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