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The Watchers 29

You’ve been you all along, you just couldn’t see it.

REALIGN

“Ms. Davenport I just wanted to thank you for allowing us into your home,” the young female reporter said. The cameraman worked frantically setting up for the live broadcast they were doing for the six o’clock news.

            “You are more than welcome,” she said. “I’m just glad to have this opportunity to let my fans know the changes I’ve gone through over the past few months since returning to my hometown.”

            “Two minutes, Janice,” the cameraman said with one hand on his earphones.

            “Well, let’s make the public fall in love with you again,” Janice said. “You ready?”

            “I was born ready.”

            The interview went quickly. They hit all the major points Liza wanted to address and then a few Janice wanted but she kept her from getting too personal. The recent altercations, the tragic death of her mother, they covered both. By the time it was over even the camera man had tears in his eyes.   

It wasn’t hard playing to the woman’s interest; from head to toe the woman advertised her allegiance to her sorority and all things glamourous. The hardest part was changing the woman’s impression of Trina.

When they were done Janice even asked her to become a part of the Big Sister program her sorority sponsored. She also asked Liza to attend an exclusive ball her organization threw every Christmas. It was only a week away but by the woman’s tone Liza knew she was supposed to feel honored. She made sure not to disappoint.

By the time the interview was finished and the crew had left, Liza knew she’d accomplished what she’d set out to do.

If she was going to stay, there was no way she could continue with Trina’s old bad behavior, and now was the perfect time to try to reach out to people. Get them on her side and stop hating the woman Trina used to be. The only way to do that was to get them to see another side of Trina.

With all the networks seeking content to fill the air between sitcom reruns and Christmas movie marathons it was easy to set up. It took one call to Trina’s manager to get the ball running.

She’d done some fast talking, but once she convinced her she’d turned over a new leaf she was in. It wasn’t like she wanted a spot on the next season of Dancing with the Stars, she just wanted Trina to not be a social pariah anymore. Liza had plans for her long lost sister- big plans. It was going to take baby steps to make the train wreck of a life she’d had into something salvageable, but she’d made up her mind. This was her time now, and she didn’t plan to spend the rest of her life hiding.

            She wasn’t the poor girl born on the wrong side of the tracks that was adopted into the Davenports home- at least not anymore. Nor was she the young woman with a chip on her shoulder that lashed out at everyone and everything.

It was ratings gold. Even Trina’s worst enemies would have to have a heart of stone to not feel sympathy for her after watching the interview. It was all going to plan.

By the end of the news broadcast, Trina’s manager had called saying her phone was ringing off the hook from national press interested in broadcasting pieces of the interview. 

            Even Leena, usually sour, seemed impressed by the reaction. Leena had to turn the ringer off and let the answering machine pick up saying, “let them leave a message, and you can call them back when you feel like it.”

            “Thanks, sis,” Liza said returning Leena’s smile.  

“Oh, you know Blackfoot came into the restaurant this morning.”

            “Yeah?”

            “Yeah,” Leena said her lips pursed. “He asked about you.”

            “Really? What for?” Liza asked ignoring her pointed stare.

            “What you think?” Leena said. “You know you don’t have to act like you don’t care. He’s a nice man,” she said rolling her eyes. “Look I don’t know what that was about that happened between you too, I’m just saying that was completely out of character for him,” she said. Liza couldn’t help notice her emphasis on the word him.

“You know he and his ex-wife had a hard time of it. A few years ago, she left him when he said he wanted to stay here. She wasn’t a local and as soon as she realized he wasn’t leaving she was out of here, but not before she’d slept with his partner.”

“ Dumb bitch,”

 “You telling me,” Leena said. “Anyone who would let that go needs to turn their lady card in. Well, well, well, do I see interest in that face? What?” Leena said.

            “Shut up,” Liza said swatting her with a dish towel.

            “Okay, looks like sister is finally wising up. You could do worse than Blackfoot, way worse. Getting some common sense in there, I see,” she said. “I’m impressed.”

            “As well you should be.”

 ###

It was after midnight when her cell phone rang. Liza didn’t recognize the number, but she knew better than to not answer.

 “Who is this?” 

            “I bet you’re pretty pleased with yourself.” Liza recognized the voice instantly. She prayed for the calmness, but as usual it abandoned her- with him. Heat burned through her veins heavy and fast like a speedball. She sat on the side of the bed her feet resting on the floor.  

            “What you’re doing, you need to stop,” the voice said. “I’ve been very patient, but you have taken one too many liberties.”

            The voice had the robotic tone that Liza would never forget. 

“You weren’t supposed to call me again.” Her voice sounded steadier than she felt, but she didn’t feel pride in that. They both knew it was just a ruse.

            Laughter was his response. “You don’t tell me what to do. You forget yourself,” the voice said.  “Don’t do it again.”

            “Yes, sir.”

            “Finish your fun, take care of the girl, and come home,” the voice said. “Otherwise I might have to…” the sound of a man screaming erupted from the phone.

            “You have a week,” the voice said, “then I’m pulling you in. We still have work to do.”

            “Yes, sir,” Liza said feeling the shadows return the pool of calm lapping at its edges. Then the phone died. She had no doubt of what the Mastermind could and would do. If she didn’t return, she knew he would come for her this time.  

            She could run, or at least try, but no matter what she did it was going to end up the same way.

Liza had planned for this, but she hadn’t planned on the fear she felt. She’d tried so hard to break free of Central, but it seemed it was all for nothing. There was no escaping Him.

The Watchers 28

They didn’t make me do anything

            “Do you remember the last time we saw each other, Trina?” Liza asked.

            “Yeah, I think I do,” the woman said. “it was so long ago I started thinking it was all a dream before, but I remember when they took you away.” Liza nodded stone faced remembering that time.  

            “You were going away because you’d tried to set the house on fire again,” the woman asked. It was Liza’s turn to nod. “Why did you want to burn the house down?”

            “I didn’t,” Liza said smiling.

“But you said,” Trina frowned.

“Lies,” Liza said, “one of us had to go.”

            “You did it for me?” Trina sat shaking her head.

            “No, I didn’t have a choice, but here we are. It was for the best.” The women stared at each other through the glass. Both watched the other closely for similarities. They could be twins their similarities were so alike.

            “You think so?” Liza nodded her head. “Did you like your new home? Were they nice to you?”

Liza laughed but it sounded hollow. “Let’s put it this way. They fed me, they clothed me, and they kept a roof over my head. I guess you could call that nice.” After a long pause, “They taught me a lot. Some of it I could have done without, but it brought me to the real me.”

            “This,” Trina said gesturing to the box she was in, “this is the real you?”

            Liza nodded slowly.

            “Shit, and I thought I was fucked up,” Trina said but there was no laughter.

            “Yeah, well not everyone grows up with the Jefferson’s for parents living in a gingerbread house.”

             ‘What exactly do you do? Did they make you do?”

            “They didn’t make me do anything, not at first” Liza said standing. She walked to the glass placing both her hands on the coolness. “This is all me, baby- all me.”

            “You like to kill?”

Liza shrugged then took a few steps back to lean against the small table.

“Would you kill me?”

            Liza looked at her sister for several moments then shrugged. “I don’t know, it depends.”

            “Depends on what?”

            “It depends on if they told me to.”

“Do you do everything they tell you to do?”

“Pretty much,” Liza said. “Don’t look so shocked. You can’t really judge, can you now?”

“I’m on a TV show, I don’t kill people.”

“You kill minds, spirits,” Liza said walking closer to the glass. “Oh sister dear, you most definitely kill.”

“It’s not the same thing.”

“Isn’t it,” Liza said sighing. “Look sin is sin as far as I’m concerned. I may kill people, but I kill them to keep people safe. I kill, I lie, I cheat, I steal, to make sure that you can sit on your couch in your Ugg boots and designer clothes, watching a big box stuffing your face with a bag of Doritos. Now you tell me whose wrong. Because I can stop any time. How about you? What would you do to keep those you care about safe?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what are you willing to give up,” Liza said. “I’ve given up everything. My life is not mine and never has been. Free will? Poof, what is that? I’ve never had it. Now, Trina, what are you willing to give up?”

“I’M IN A BOX!”

“Yeah,” Liza said. “Well, so am I.”

“Liza,” Trina sobbed, “I’m sorry you had to go through what happened to you, but I can’t- I don’t know what you fucking want from me.”

“I want you to give a damn,” Liza yelled. “I want you to give a damn about your life, your sister’s life, hell your daughter’s life. How much do you want your life back because,” shed said walking behind the small table this time to sit down in the chair. “I kind of like your life. You know I was planning on taking it from the very beginning. Killing you, and walking right in. Boom. I was this close too,” Liza said pinching two fingers together until they almost touched. “But they found me.”

            “Who?”

            “They,” she said. “Believe me you don’t want to know. Once you know there is no unknowing. If I told you it wouldn’t be good for you.” The two women were silent for several minutes. Outside it was dark but there were no windows to tell it. Liza didn’t have much time left, but she lingered.

            “If you told me you’d have to kill me?” Trina smiled but it was a sad smile.

            “Something like that,” Liza said.

            “So what do I have to do to get out the box?” Trina asked.

Liza stood up and walked until her nose was nearly touching the glass.

             “You have to stop thinking like you, and start thinking like me.”

The Watchers 27

He made me this way

The light above the garage had been removed just as Liza had remembered. There were no street lights on this block. Liza had made sure of that too.

It made her comings and goings safer and more discreet. This was her first time returning since she’d moved in with the Davenports, but it looked like nothing had been changed. That was a good thing. Still she kept her guard up.

Using her key, Liza entered the back door. Once inside she didn’t bother to remain quiet. There wasn’t anyone inside the house to hear her anyway.

She made her way through the first floor of the house to the kitchen looking for any changes, but there were none. The backyard looked quiet and dark just as she’d left it. The lights were on a timer but she didn’t need to turn anything on anyway. The blinds remained closed at all times.

A car sat in the garage, but it hadn’t been driven. It was all for show- everything. The neighbors believed there was a family of three living in the house. Liza had gone through great pains to cultivate the family’s story. The family included a man and his wife and their college age daughter that was away more often than not. The truth was there was no couple only Liza, but she’d made sure that the neighbors had seen enough to believe the lie.

All of them had seen the family members enter the house at different times; however, they were always alone- never together. The parents were away a lot on business is what the neighbors thought.

Taking the flashlight, Liza headed to the front of the house making sure to lock the door behind her.  

Liza went upstairs to the master bedroom. she turned on the lamp and sat down at the table. The laptop was just how she’d left it. Logging in, immediately several square blocks showed up on the screen. Each gave a different view of the outside of the house. Liza pressed the space bar and another screen of blocks came up this one showed a picture of the backyard and the toolshed.  

Pressing the space bar several more times Liza found the room she’d been sleeping in at the Davenport’s. It was Trina’s room.  The room was dark but the covers were still arranged just as she’d left them as was the rest of the house. There were no monitors for the other bedrooms but there was one in the kitchen area above the fireplace.

Liza flipped back to the monitors of the safe house. She opened a square of the back yard clicking on the tool shed window another file opened up. It was labeled TD. This screen was in color and it showed a room with a mini refrigerator, a toilet and a sink. It also had a cot. Liza watched for several minutes until she saw movement.

She was still alive.  

Initially, Liza’s plan had been to get Trina out of the way temporarily. She’d planned to take her place. Use her life like an escape hatch from her own, but something had gone wrong.

Those two imbeciles Liza had Jocelyn hire got it in their heads to change the plan. Jeremy had to get fancy and bring a gun. However, she knew now it was Central that had turned on her and had used Wilson to do it.

It had all come back to Liza now. They’d ambushed her in the woods that morning on her way to the bookstore. She’d thought it was because she’d been mistaken for Trina, with all of the woman’s enemies it was possible. But now she knew different.  

Who’d sent them she still didn’t know, but they’d got her without ever showing their face. However, they hadn’t finished their job. She’d somehow made it to Crossroads to follow through with her plan in spite of her memory lapse. However, now she knew her attempted assassination was Central’s doing. They’d put a mark on her.

The Mastermind was still playing his games. Every freedom he’d given her was just another way to maintain control. From the power, to the money, to the increased responsibility it was all a trap. A false sense of empowerment that Liza had believed she’d had. Even Wilson was just another way to keep a leash on her.

It took Mrs. Davenport to remind her of who she truly was- just another orphan that no one wanted. A ward of the agency called Central.

Mrs. Davenport wanted Trina, and the Mastermind wanted Liza. That was why she’d been sent away, been groomed to do Central’s bidding. Liza was nothing more than a slave.  She could see that now.

Liza never had a chance to be normal, and it was all Mrs. Davenport’s fault. She’d known what he wanted Liza for and what he’d do once he had her. It would have been kinder to have put a bullet in her head all those years ago.

Liza regretted killing the old woman now. The proper payback would have been to have let her live, and let the cancer kill her slowly. Liza’s only conciliation was that she was the one that took Ophelia out. Now that she was gone, Liza just had to take care of Trina.

Slowly, the calm returned.

It was the Mastermind’s fault. He’d made her this way. He’d taught Liza that she had no choice. He was the Mastermind, and He never accepted anything less than complete obeyance.

That was why she left. Liza had planned her escape for a year. She’d had a plan all along. As long as she had Trina, she had a chance to make it happen. However, she knew different now. Wilson had shown her the truth. Her plan had been doomed from the start.

“You will kill him,” he’d said over a year ago.

“Never,” Liza said, for the first time refusing a direct order. The Mastermind laughed.

“You have your order,” he’d said and those were the last words he’d spoken to Liza.

Tonight, she’d finally obeyed. Wilson was dead. Once again the Mastermind had gotten his way. 

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What was done was done

“She’s spiraling, Sir.”

            “Says you. She is doing what she’s always done,” the Mastermind said. “I’ve given her until the end of the month. Until then I want you to keep watching her. I expect an hourly report of everything. No matter how insignificant or small you may think it is, I want to know it. Understand?”

            “Yes, sir,” the agent said. “But what about Mrs. Davenport?”

            “What about her? There’s nothing we can do about that. Have we found the woman yet?”

            “No, sir, but we have people searching. We’ve combed over the safe house for clues as you asked, but everything had been destroyed, we’re still looking, but we haven’t any leads.”

            “Find it, there is a second one. She always has one. It’s her pattern.”

            “Yes, sir,” the agent said right before the call was disconnected.

            The agent was right and the Mastermind knew it. He feared Liza was out of control and there was nothing he could do about it. He’d given his word to her and he never would go back on it.

He’d asked a lot of her and she’d always delivered in the past. She was his most reliable agent, but she needed this time. He’d already made his decision and was certain it was the right one. He’d give her this chance and if it backfired, he’d go get her his self. Either way Liza had earned her chance to end this her way.

Mrs. Davenport was a casualty but her hands were not completely clean as it was. It was a fact that he knew Liza was now aware of which was most likely why she’d killed the woman.

Either way what was done was done. She had until the end of the month then she would return to him. Liza knew better than to cross him for that he was sure.

Until then he would keep his promise.  

The Watchers 25

She called you Ophelia

“Mama was calling for you while you were out. She wanted to talk to you.” Leena said as she grabbed her coat to leave.

Knocking softly, Liza opened the bedroom door. As expected the older woman was in her big soft bed surrounded by pillows. She looked like she was floating on a puffy white cloud as the television on the dresser played at the foot of her bed.

“Come on in, dear,” she said her body almost disappearing beneath the bright white sheets and matching comforter.   

“Leena said you wanted me.”

“Yes, dear. I had something for you.” Mrs. Davenport lowered the volume on the television, and then picked up some papers from the bed stacking them in one neat stack on the TV tray next to her.

“How are you feeling?” Liza asked.

“Fair to middling,” the woman grimaced as she tried to pull up in the bed. She looked tired but when she opened her eyes, Liza saw that ever present alertness there. “To be expected, I guess. At least that’s what the white coats keep telling me,” she said. “Close the door behind you.”

Liza obliged sitting in the chair by the window. The doctor’s prognosis wasn’t good. Mrs. Davenport was weak and tired all of the time. The treatments that were supposed to save her life were taken what little energy she had left.

“I have something to show you. I’ve been meaning to show you this to you for a while now, but I kept making excuses. Here,” she said pushing the stack of papers at me. They were court documents.

“What am I looking at?” Liza said.

“Just read it.”

Liza started on the first page and the first thing that jumped out was the date.  It was a birthdate, Liza’s birthdate. The next thing she read took her breath away. Her name was in the box next to the birthdate. It was her real name.

Liza looked at Mrs. Davenport. It had been decades since anyone outside of Central had known her real name. 

“Keep reading,” Mrs. Davenport said the frown on her face deepening.

Liza gripped the papers trying to control the trembling. Her heart was beating so fast it felt like it was about to burst out of her chest. Turning the page she found a photocopy of two birth certificates. One was for her and the other was Trina’s.

It showed the same parents on both. Trina and Liza were sisters. They’d been placed in foster care decades ago. Liza kept reading until she saw what looked like a photocopy of a page from a social worker’s documentation.

            Baby T, Baby L removed from mother’s home due to evidence of abuse and unsanitary living conditions. The mother was an admitted drug abuser with multiple arrests and convictions. On mother’s last sentencing the children were in need of immediate placement.

On the mother’s release the children were returned to her home. On the mother’s passing, the birth father forfeited his rights; and the children were placed. However, upon further proceedings in adoption procedure the family requested the adoption of only one child Baby T. Adopted parents stated they were not interested in adopting both children.

“There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about you. What happened? What would have happened had we taken you?” Mrs. Davenport said. 

“You have to understand that we just couldn’t keep both of you. We had one little girl and taking in two more children, well, we just couldn’t.” Mrs. Davenport said a plea in her eyes for Liza to understand. “But we never forgot you, ever,” Mrs. Davenport said hiccupping. She reached for a tissue. “I just wanted to let you know. We cared.”

“You cared,” Liza nodded. “Why,” she asked, “Why her and not me?”

Mrs. Davenport said looking back to the television screen. She was quiet.

“Did you ever look for me?”  the older woman said nothing. Liza knew the answer already. The answer was no, she hadn’t.

“The social worker thought it wouldn’t be best,” Mrs. Davenport said.

Folding the papers, Liza made them as small as she could before pushing them deep in her back pocket.

“I understand,” Liza said as she walked to the lamp in the corner of the room and turned it to low. The glow from the television was bright, but she knew Mrs. Davenport liked to keep it on all night.

“I’m tired,” Liza said walking to the door with heavy feet. She reached for the knob, but her hand froze above it. A memory began turning over in her mind. Liza looked back at Mrs. Davenport feeling the calm return, overtaking her before she could decide if she wanted to fight it, then realizing she didn’t.

Locking the door Liza turned back to Mrs. Davenport, who was still watching her with a teary, hopeful smile.

“I’m so glad I told you,” she said, “I feel so much better now.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Liza said walking back to the bed. She pulled one of the pillows from behind her head squeezing it between her hands.

“Dear I usually sleep with that pillow,” the older woman said. Confusion passed over her soft face as she continued to stare.

“Yes,” Liza said squeezing the pillow’s firmness. “I know.” The woman went still. Liza saw the moment realization dawned in Mrs. Davenport’s eyes. A shrewdness replaced the usual motherly sweetness she showed the world.

“All is well.” She smiled clapping her long bony hands together. “Brava. You were always too smart for your own good,” the older woman said her laugh low as she lay back against her pillows. Her breathing had grown shallow but her eyes showed no defeat.

“She called you Ophelia, sometimes O in all my surveillance,” Liza said. “but never Mama, Mommy, or even mother. Why not? Because you weren’t her mother and she wanted you to know that every day of your life. Didn’t she? You clocked me as soon as I showed up. Didn’t you?” Liza said louder than she intended.

“Even back then you were something else,” she said smiling. “So smart. Quiet, but there was something else even then. I saw it that day Roger brought me to meet you girls. I’m sure He saw it too.”  

“He?”

“You know He who shall not be called by name,” the older woman said reaching beneath her duvet. Liza tensed until the woman pulled out a cigarette and a lighter. “Oh calm down, girl,” she said lighting the end. “If I wanted to kill you I would have done it much sooner than now.” She inhaled before laying back again on the pillow. “I can only handle few puffs at a time now,” she coughed slightly, “but God it’s worth it.” She took another small puff. She coughed several times but her face looked blissful afterwards. “He was the one that told us about your sister- not you. You he kept for himself. He wanted you as soon as he saw you. What was I supposed to do?”

 “Save your own ass.”

“See, like I said you were always such a smart girl.”

“How long were you with Central?”

“A while,” she smiled taking another puff. “Then I had to go and get old, and sick. It was the best and worst thing to ever happen to me.” Liza sat down in the chair.

“I knew no one when I came here, but as usual I found a way to fit in. You know how it is. I don’t even remember what the mission was, only that when it was through no one came for me. Months passed then a year, then two. By then I thought they’d forgotten about me. At least that was what I told myself. I know stupid, right?” Liza didn’t respond but she knew. Central never forgot, nor did they make mistakes.

“Somehow, they got to my husband first. Made him believe he wanted to adopt a kid. So you see it was all Roger’s idea, of course,” she laughed but it wasn’t a joyful sound. “I couldn’t have children,” the woman said. “Truth be told I never thought about being a mother, but we all get old, eventually.”

“So, you got her so you wouldn’t be alone.”

“Partly, yes. I mean we had Leena, but she was all Roger’s. My husband loved being a Daddy, he would have taken you both, was going to, but,” She inhaled again managing to keep it all in this time. “that’s when He came back,” she said her voice just a whisper. “Only He didn’t want me. I had gotten soft, my profile here was up. I couldn’t just drop everything and disappear anymore, but I learned quickly it wasn’t me he wanted anyway. But, of course, you know how they are. They can’t just let you go.”

“You let me go.”

“Darling, I never had you. Besides He wanted you, and we both know He always gets what he wants,” she said her eyes had a knowing sparkle.

“You knew what he wanted with me and did nothing.” The older woman nodded her eyes locked on mine. Liza stood up. The woman’s face hardened.  Her eyes dropped to the pillow in Liza’s hands. “We all have to go sometime, dear,” she whispered, licking her dry cracked lips. Liza knew what she wanted but she lay the pillow on the bed drained of anger and hatred for the woman she had long forgotten.

“Besides I knew eventually you would leave me, anyway,” she said. Liza realized then the breadth of Mrs. Davenport’s selfishness. She’d only been concerned then and now about her life, her comfort.

“She hated you for it,” Liza said anger choking her words. “For separating us.”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” she said taking another puff. “She forgot about you the moment she got here. My husband waited on that little girl hand and foot,” the bitterness vibrated with each word. “Trina don’t care about anyone but Trina. Or at least she didn’t, right?” The woman winked, her laughter like a creaky, dry board. She stopped suddenly, inhaling deeply to catch her breath. “You’re just like Him. I can see it. I guess you know where all the bodies are buried too, huh?” Ophelia said carefully putting her cigarette out in the ashtray.

Liza looked down at the woman she’d grown to care about taunt her, goad her to react. Liza fought against the calm refusing to give in and put her out of her misery. She wasn’t who Liza believed her to be. She was a Watcher, just like her. The pattern had been there all along, but Liza had refused to believe it for the tradeoff of the one thing she’d never had: a family. Only this family had been built on a foundation of lies.  

“You got kids, dear,” Ophelia asked her eyes deceptively innocent. “No, of course not, Central’s the only family you’ll ever have.”

“No children,” Liza said quietly. “A husband once, but I haven’t seen him in a while. Your husband was Roger, right?” Liza smiled when the woman nodded slowly. “Say hi, for me.”

Liza pushed the pillow slowly into the woman’s jeering face. She tried to fight at first but they both knew it was impossible. As the pillow cut off the woman’s oxygen her thin arms flailed but there was no strength to them. The woman’s lungs were shot. It didn’t take long before the frail body went slack. Stepping back, Liza looked down at her. It was almost like she was sleeping.

Liza put the pillow back behind the woman’s head. Unlocking the door, she closed it softly behind her.

The Watchers 23

I know the real you.

            The Davenport house was dark and quiet. Leena and Zuri were still out. Liza put on a pot of water to make tea when she heard Mrs. Davenport come out of her room. 

            “Bring me a cup when you get it ready,” Mrs. Davenport said sitting down at the breakfast nook to stare out the window.

            “Yes ma’am,” Liza said, smiling that the woman had joined her.

Mrs. Davenport had done more for her in the past few days than she could remember anyone doing for her without expecting anything much in return. It meant a lot. Having the older woman just being there was beginning to mean a lot. The last few days had been quite a surprise.

The trailer in the woods hadn’t been a surprise. There had been many more trailers, rooms, houses, places that she’d set up only to leave when the job was done and it was time to move on. Twenty years she’d lived this way.

            Grabbing sugar and milk, Liza put it on a tray. Once the pot was ready, she added it to the tray with some teabags, cups and silverware. Placing the tray on the table, Liza poured hot water and placed a teabag in each cup letting it steep under a saucer for a few minutes.

            “Two sugars and,” Mrs. Davenport said, “a dash of milk.” Liza prepared the tea then stirred the cup before placing it in front of the older woman.

            “Thank you very much, dear” Mrs. Davenport said her eyebrows raised, “that is exactly how I like it.” Liza smiled pleased to have gotten it right. Mrs. Davenport held her cup but her eyes remained on Liza.

            “I didn’t know any of my girls were so observant,” Mrs. Davenport said before taking a sip of tea. She sighed closing her eyes and taking another sip.

            “Well, we learned everything we know from the best,” Liza said laughing softly as she took a sip of tea.

            “Don’t,” she said setting her cup on the wooden table. “Let’s not sweetie.” Liza felt something turn in her stomach at her words.

Liza felt the calmness waking up, but this time the usual thrill that came with it was gone. She didn’t want what the calm brought, not now. Not with Mrs. Davenport. Pushing her cup away, Liza placed her hands on the table preparing to stand, but the older woman raised a hand to stop her.

It took everything in her to sit back down, but something in the woman’s stare gave her pause.

            “My daughters have always been selfish, egotistical, combative and most of the time hateful strangers to me,” Mrs. Davenport shook her head.

Confused, Liza attempted to defend herself- Trina, but Mrs. Davenport gave a shake of her head. The synthetic curls shook back and forth before falling neatly back into place. She had a warning look in her eyes which Liza heeded. It was the same look she’d given the police chief earlier.

            “I could never do enough,” Mrs. Davenport confessed. “I tried, Lord knows I did, but it was never enough. I always,” her voice heavy. “I always got it wrong somehow.”

            The confession took Liza by surprise. She was at a loss of words. She could only wait and let it all play out.

            Sitting back, she listened. After all this was a job- nothing more. At least that was what she told herself. Liza always knew she’d have to leave eventually. Either she’d finish the mission, or Central would come for her. Either way she didn’t plan to stay with the Davenport’s forever. Did she? Liza pushed the thought away. That would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?

            “I’ve learned in my life to play the game, play by the rules until you learn them and then use them to your advantage,” Mrs. Davenport said with a slight smile. “I imagine you’ve learned that as well.”

            “Leena was always my rock. She was Roger’s- biologically. She was his baby for a time. She’d had to learn to be flexible because she had to be. That was my fault. I felt there was something missing- so, I changed it,” she said her voice fading.

Taking a deep breath, she continued. “I’ve made a lot of bad decisions, but I’ve always been well-intentioned. I never,” Mrs. Davenport said her eyes searching, “I never meant to hurt you,” she said.

The woman’s words hit Liza hard. She felt time slow with each tick of the grandfather clock in the hallway. She wanted to scream at the woman to stop talking, but the words wouldn’t come. It felt like she was talking to Liza, not Trina, but her mind told her that was impossible.

“All those years ago, I thought I knew what was best, and now, I,” her voiced faded as there was a sound at the back of the house. A moment later the back door opened. Leena and Zuri had returned. Liza blinked first. Standing without a word she cleared the dishes from the table as Zuri ran in the door.

            “Grandma, grandma,” she said oblivious to the tension that had filled the room moments before, “guess who got a part in the Christmas play,” the girl said sitting in the chair Liza had just vacated.

Liza tuned out their words. Something had happened, but she wasn’t sure what and furthermore, didn’t want to know.  

            “Um, let me guess,” Mrs. Davenport said playing along, “could it be the loud child that just came running into my kitchen without so much as a hello?” Zuri started giggling, and her grandmother laughed too.

Rinsing the dishes Liza felt Leena walk behind her. She’d been so quiet she’d forgotten she was there.  

            “How long you going to keep trying to play us,” Leena said in a low voice the curve of her ample hips resting against the counter knocking the draining board. The dishes rattled but she paid them no mind.  “She may buy this new Pollyanna act, but just remember,” Leena spat, “I know the real you. I know that all you looking for is enough money to set you off for another adventure and then you going to leave that old woman and your little girl high and dry. Then I’ll be left here to pick up the pieces as usual.” Leena jerked the dishtowel out of Liza’s hands.

“It’s not happening this time. You hear me? This time when you leave you stay gone. You got me?” Leena’s anger was palpable. Liza exhaled realizing the woman still believed she was Trina. When Liza didn’t respond, Leena threw the dish towel into the sink of water then walked out of the kitchen.

Liza pulled the soggy towel out and rung it dry then finished the few dishes in the sink listening to Zuri and her grandmother chattering obliviously at the table. Leena was a problem, but she refused to take the woman’s bait especially now that she had her mission.

Mrs. Davenport was hiding something. Had been apparently for years. The old woman had a secret, and she’d almost heard it tonight. It was why she’d come. It was the reason she was impersonating the woman’s daughter.

All Liza had ever wanted was to be normal, and have a normal life, but as long as she was herself, the Watcher, there was no chance of being normal.

Trina was the normal one. Trina got the normal life- not Liza. Bitterness rose in the back of her throat, but she pushed it down.

Soon enough it would be time to leave, once the job was done. Until then she planned to take advantage of all the things Trina had taken for granted. She intended to live the life that had been denied to her ever since the day Central took her, and made her what she’d become- a killer.  

The Watchers 13

No one said your daughter was a criminal

“Female, 22 years of age, one prior, and oh lookee here,” Tracy said, “surprise, surprise with a prior charge of disorderly conduct. Not exactly innocent, now is she?”

“Just tell me the facts,” Blackfoot turned his back to the wind and the crowd of onlookers watching their every move. The assailant was in the back of the ambulance headed to the hospital, but his job wasn’t done. His job wouldn’t be done until he finally got to talk to Trina Davenport, who was sitting in her family’s living room waiting for him.

Blackfoot stared at the Davenport house as Tracy read the report from the cruiser’s monitor. He’d been the first officer on the scene. Blackfoot was going to interview the Davenports personally, but he knew he had to be prepared. If he didn’t have all the facts it was going to be a long night.

Just because Trina now agreed to talk it didn’t mean she was willing. It’s just that Mrs. Davenport couldn’t deny her daughter was in her home anymore, not with an entire neighborhood of witnesses.

“Apparently the woman threatened to bust out the windows of the Davenport’s Chevrolet with her bat unless Trina Davenport came outside,” the officer paused to hold up a bat. “When Ms. Davenport came out of the house Bat Girl got a few swings in and then that’s when this happened,” the officer then waved towards the ambulance and made chopping motions through the air with her hands.

The EMT hadn’t reported to him yet, but he knew the gist of the rest. The woman was hit by Trina one time, but it must have been a hell of a punch because the woman had been knocked out cold.

By the time the first officer arrived she was moving, but had difficulty breathing. It all sounded very familiar. Only this time they had footage. It was dark, but he could see faces and hear the exchange on one of the teenager’s mobile phones. He had the teenager forward the link to his email account. The only thing left was to figure how this encounter factored in with the other incidences involving Trina Davenport.

The investigation was pretty much going by the book ending with the woman’s arrest pending her discharge by medical staff.

The only deviation from the textbook assault case was that this was the third time in three days that Trina Davenport had been involved in an altercation. The woman wasn’t just born under a bad sign she had a big red target on her back.

“Sounds like chickens coming home to roost if you ask me,” Tracy said.

“Follow the bus to the hospital,” Blackfoot told the officer. “Stay on her. Once she’s released take her downtown.”

“Will do, sir.”

Blackfoot walked towards the Davenport’s front porch for the second time that day but his mood was much worse and his footsteps a lot heavier. He cursed himself for giving up so easily earlier.

Maybe if he’d pushed more all of this could have been avoided and he’d already have the information he needed from Trina. It was the second time he’d second guessed himself out of finishing this case; he swore there wouldn’t be a third.

He wanted to talk to Trina even less than she wanted to talk him, but neither had a choice now. He didn’t care about excuses anymore; he was finishing this tonight.

“Blackfoot!”

Groaning he turned in time to see a short boxy man running his way.  It was the EMT from the bookstore the night before. He couldn’t say he was glad to see the guy, but he no longer felt like pummeling the man either. He called that progress. 

“Hey,” Blackfoot said pulling a cigarette out of his pocket making the most out of the reprieve. “You ever not on the clock?”

“I could ask the same about you,” Rusty said as they fell into step with each other.

“The girl’s going to be alright, but we hadn’t had the chance to check out Ms. Davenport yet,” he gave a nod to the house. “I can’t believe they discharged her so quick after last night.”

“They didn’t. She’s AMA.” Rusty shook his head, and Blackfoot shrugged. “Her choice, but it’s a pain in my butt. We’ve been looking for her all day. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think the girl planned all of this. No one has this much bad luck,” Blackfoot said before dropping what was left of his cigarette to the ground.

“You mind if I tag along,” Rusty said, “you know in case she needs some medical attention.”

Blackfoot would have been impressed with the man’s dedication if he didn’t already know him. Although he’d gotten over their confrontation the night before he still didn’t like the pipsqueak. Besides he liked to work alone. He was about to tell the man no, when Mrs. Davenport stepped out onto the porch and waved for both of the men to come inside.

Immediately he had the urge for another cigarette seeing the woman’s dour face but he ignored it. Blackfoot led the way.

“Wow,” Rusty said under his breath as soon as they entered the interior of the house. They passed the diplomas of the Davenport clan and pictures with local and nonlocal celebrities hanging on the walls. Both Mrs. Davenport and her late husband were national scholars each having gotten multiple degrees and certifications in Education and Science. However, after both retired they opened the Davenport restaurant and found their second calling. Several of the pictures on the walls showed the couple in their later years smiling widely with their arms around dignitaries. Blackfoot saw a couple of pictures with the Davenport’s and two different U.S. presidents.

Mr. Davenport had been one of the few doctors of color in town, and Mrs. Davenport had worked for the state’s education system for more than three decades first as a teacher then an administrator. They were considered local celebrities themselves and had become a highly respected staple of the Gulf Coast.

Unfortunately, the achievements the two elders of the family hadn’t transferred to their offspring. Leena, who had to be in her mid-thirties, still lived in her parent’s home and hadn’t completed college, Trina had barely finished high school, and her biggest claim to fame was her notorious stint on a reality television show that put Jerry Springer to shame.

“Just let me do the talking, hear?” Blackfoot said in Rusty’s ear. The red head frowned but quieted when Mrs. Davenport sat down directly across from them.

Blackfoot looked over his shoulder to see Trina enter the room. She looked as he expected her to look. Dog tired, but still standing. She came into the dining room and sat next to her mother at the table. She said nothing as she stared across the table at the two men.

Blackfoot had the distinct impression that he wasn’t just being watched but assessed. He didn’t like it. Her look said, screw you, but Blackfoot could say at that point after the day he’d had he felt about the same. He didn’t want to be there any more than she wanted him there. In fact he couldn’t wait to leave. He only had one question.

“Why did you run?”

“I didn’t.”

Surprised, Blackfoot looked at the young woman waiting for her to say more, but she just stared back at him. “Okay, what happened to make you leave the hospital this morning,” Davenport said, “without telling anyone?”

“Is that a crime?” Mrs. Davenport spoke up. “You know how expensive it is to stay in a hospital.” She added, chuckling, but no one joined in except for Rusty. Blackfoot gave the man a warning look.

“Yes, ma’am,” Blackfoot said turning back to the two women. He already regretted having agreed to allow Trina’s mother in the room with them. He wanted answers, but his hands were tied about how to approach getting those answers. His patience was so thin it was damn near transparent which was a bad spot for him to be in. Even on his best days his temper could get the best of him which he knew would be the opposite of the right thing for him to do.

He was an excellent interrogator and he knew what he had to do, but there were too many people in the room. He wasn’t going to get to talk with Trina with her mother acting as a go between. Even though from what Blackfoot learned of the woman in the past twenty-four hours she was the least vulnerable person in the room. He was beginning to have the distinct impression that the tv persona she’d adopted was just the tip of the iceberg.

He wanted to talk to Trina alone but Mrs. Davenport wasn’t budging.

“No, it is not a crime to leave the hospital, but considering her injuries.”

“She’s fine,” Mrs. Davenport said. “Don’t you think she looks fine? She looks fine to me. It’s that crazy girl outside that isn’t fine. She’s the criminal not my daughter.”

“No one said your daughter was a criminal,” Blackfoot said wishing a hole would open up in the middle of the dining room and swallow him whole. “Just considering all the problems she’s had over the past couple of days I’m following up to see if maybe we missed something. Is there a relationship between the altercations she’s had of late? Will there be more attempts to harm her?”

“Not if you lock up that crazy woman out there, there won’t,” Mrs. Davenport said. “I will not have my daughter treated like a common criminal, detective.” Blackfoot nodded his head, as it became clear they were on crossed paths. So he cut to the chase.

“Ms. Davenport, do you have any idea who tried to kill you?” Blackfoot heard a gasp from behind him. Turning he saw Trina’s little girl staring back at him with a horrified look on her face. Immediately he regretted being so blunt, but the woman needed to get some sense knocked into her.

He didn’t want to worry her family especially her child, but he was done playing around with her and Mrs. Davenport especially when there seemed to be an ever increasing circle of criminal activity developing around her. Trina had already taken up the last twenty-four hours of his life, and now it looked like after this evening she’d take the next twenty-four as well since he’d have paperwork to file.

Blackfoot waited until Mrs. Davenport stood and took the little girl out of the room, and then looked back to Trina.

Trina scowled back at him shaking her head. Undeterred, Blackfoot followed up with another question. “And the couple that attacked you yesterday. Did you know them? Had you met them before?”

Trina paused as if she was considering the question but then her only response was a slow shake of her head. She didn’t say anything but the look on her face made Blackfoot want to hit the wall with his fist. She was holding back on him, but he tamped down on his anger. The woman wasn’t going to give him anything more than what she had to, and he’d had enough.

“Well, then tell me this,” he said, “why is it they’re claiming you hired them?” Blackfoot watched the woman’s face closely. He saw the woman frown, but it was gone so quickly that he thought he’d imagined it. Other than that brief slip, there was nothing. 

“I have no idea what they’re talking about,” the young woman said her voice cool. She kept her golden-brown eyes fixed on Blackfoot’s. Her gaze steady. “If that’s what they’re claiming it’s their word against mine. Considering they tried to kill me,” she said.

“I will not have you in my house accusing my daughter of such things,” Mrs. Davenport interrupted as she marched back into the room to reclaim her seat at the head of the table. “My daughter wouldn’t have any need, want or desire to affiliate herself with those, those hooligans.” Blackfoot could feel the older woman’s temper rising. It was time to go. He’d done enough for one day.

“I apologize for any misunderstandings,” he said smiling politely he rose from his seat. “That wasn’t my intention.” Blackfoot tapped Rusty on the shoulder letting the man know it was time to go. Trina denied needing any care so there was no need to stay any longer.

Blackfoot apologized for taking up the family’s time but not for his questions. He’d be surprised if he didn’t get a call from the Lieutenant, who was a personal friend of Mrs. Davenport, in the morning, but it was worth it. He got what he needed.

Did it explain who was trying to kill Trina Davenport? Hell no, but if she wasn’t going to cooperate, he didn’t see why he should. The case was closed as far as he was concerned. Trouble was going to follow Trina Davenport no matter what she did and all he could do was make sure none of her dirt got on his hands.

As they walked across the driveway to their respective vehicles it was Rusty that spoke first.

“She’s a cool character isn’t she?” he said whistling.

“To say the least,” Blackfoot said chuckling.

“Pretty too,” Rusty said as Blackfoot pulled his door open. “Just too bad she and her whole family’s bat shit crazy.” Looking back to the house once again Blackfoot saw the curtain in the picture window move, but he couldn’t see who’d been watching him. He’d bet on it having been Trina.

She was pretty alright, but Rusty was wrong about her. She wasn’t any crazier than he was. Still Blackfoot had a feeling Trina Davenport knew exactly what she was doing, and as long as her mother allowed her to hide away in her house she would.

She was also nothing at all what he’d imagined her to be. It made him wonder about the act of hers on television. The episodes Taylor had sent him of her television show was nothing like the reserved young woman sitting in her mother’s house. It made him wonder which was the real Trina.  He didn’t know the Davenport girls growing up. He was years ahead of them in school, but he’d heard of some of their exploits.

All he knew was that based on what he saw today she deserved an Oscar for her TV act. She had to be the most amazing actress he’d ever seen or she’d fooled the entire world into believing her wild woman act on television. The only other explanation was she’d just pulled an A- plus con job on him by convincing him that she wasn’t as crazy as everyone said she was. He still wasn’t sure which Trina was real.

Either way he was done. Let whoever wanted to kill her have at her as far as he was concerned. There was something there, but until she was willing to talk, he didn’t see how he was going to find out what it was.  

“Still say I should have fucked her when I had the chance,” Rusty said.

“What did you say?”

“C’mon you heard me,” Rusty said laughing. “Don’t tell me you’re a prude on top of a shit luck with women,” he said shaking his head, but this time Blackfoot ignored the dig.

“You know her?”

“More like knew her,” Rusty said, “just not in the biblical sense which I regret. C’mon man we all went to school together. I was in her class, of course, I knew her.” Blackfoot exhaled.

“Oh,” Blackfoot said. “When y’all were kids.”

“Yeah, I had it pretty bad for her then too, but Miss Popularity wouldn’t give me the time of day back then,” Rusty said as they walked to the ambulance. He threw his pack into the back and walked to the cab. “But last week when she got in town it was a different story.”

“You mean you and her were together last week?” Blackfoot asked.

“Yeah, I told you that,” Rusty said climbing into the cab. “Wait maybe it was your partner I told. I don’t know man. Either way nothing happened.”

“So how long has she been in town, I’m wondering,” Blackfoot asked.

“I don’t know man but she’s one hell of a partier,” Rusty said smirking.

Blackfoot could feel himself getting sucked in all over again, but he couldn’t help it. If Trina had been in town for a week, who had she been staying with? Furthermore, why would Mrs. Davenport lie about not seeing her when it was so easy to disprove.

Unfortunately, Rusty didn’t know the name of Trina’s friends the night they’d met up. He only had an address. Blackfoot took it down. It was an address over in the warehouse district where a lot of so-called hipsters were moving to in the city.

It seemed like every time he thought he was going to be able to quit the case it took another turn. He was beginning to believe the reason Trina wasn’t talking was because it saved her from tripping over all her lies.

The Watchers 12

Sometimes you can’t go home

“She needs to go,”

“No,” Zuri cried grabbing Liza tightly. “She can’t go.”

In the Davenport’s den Zuri curled up against Liza’s side on the loveseat. Her body warm and soft smelling of cocoa butter and popcorn.

Leena and Mrs. Davenport sat directly across from Liza in straight back chairs. Leena’s face heavy with disapproval. As much as Leena was spoiling for a fight, Mrs. Davenport wasn’t having it.

The grandfather clock chimed from the hallway.

“She needs to go,” Leena barked again this time her eyes so tight Liza doubted she could see anything.

“Hush,” Mrs. Davenport said. “What happened?” the older woman said, “and I want the truth this time.”

Liza never got rattled, but something about Mrs. Davenport shook her a little. All she wanted was to get as far away from the Davenport as she could, but she had not choice. She had to stick it out. The problem was being Trina.

She didn’t know Trina. She didn’t know how the woman talked, thought, or even moved. For the first time since she’d gotten there all eyes were on her and they wanted an answer. She give Liza’s answer, but they were expecting Trina’s.

All she knew about Trina was that the woman wasn’t well liked, and from the various reactions of the Davenports, she was beginning to believe it was deserved.  Also, the woman was in big trouble yet no one knew why.

Liza dropped her head into her hands as the throbbing that had never quite left grew worse suddenly. She’d stumbled into the life of a person who attracted drama like flies to shit.

“Don’t cry Mama,” Zuri said patting Liza’s back.

Liza never cried, but she didn’t correct the girl. Hell, she needed time to think.

“Please, they just crocodile tears,” Leena said. When she heard footsteps walking away, Liza breathed a sigh of relief. One down two to go, she thought biding for more time.  

“Zuri,” Mrs. Davenport said firmly, “go to your room.” The girl moved closer to Liza. She thought she was going to refuse for a second, but Zuri stood and did as she was told. When she was gone her warmth lingered, but when Mrs. Davenport spoke, a chill ran down Liza’s spine.  

“Look at me,” the older woman said. “I said look at me.” The woman’s sharp tone refused to be ignored.

Liza raised her head to look at the woman head-on. She was tired of hiding the truth. Liza just hoped she didn’t have to hurt Mrs. Davenport or the little girl. Leena on the other hand, she’d enjoy that, but still she’d rather not. 

“Both you and I know,” Mrs. Davenport began. Her dark eyes sparkling in her pecan colored face, but a shout from the den silenced the woman.

“Mama,” Leena ran in the room, “they about to break your windows in!”

“Lord, what now?” The older woman struggled to get up from the couch then made her way to the picture window in the living room.

Liza walked up behind the two women to see what Leena was yelling about.

A small crowd had gathered in the street in front of the Davenport’s house. Most of them were teenagers but some were older. One woman stood apart from the rest. She held an aluminum bat in her hands.

Liza peeked outside using the curtain to cover her face. The growing crowd had their camera phones pointed at the house. The leader of the group, the young woman with the bat, stepped away from the crowd to walk up the Davenport’s the driveway.

“I know you in there Trin-a,” the woman yelled swinging a bat in her hand.

“What in the world you done now,” Leena said as she stomped to the door and opened it.

“Leena,” Mrs. Davenport called after her, but Leena didn’t stop.

“Call Blackfoot, Mama,” Leena yelled as stepped outside.  Mrs. Davenport turned to the phone, but before she could dial, Liza stopped her.

“I’ll take care of it,” Liza said praying the old woman put the phone down willingly. The last thing she needed was to bring that cop back out to the house. The older woman looked doubtful but put the phone down.

Liza opened the door and stepped onto the porch. Leena was already yelling at the girl holding the bat to get away from the cars but the girl wasn’t looking at her, having spotted Liza.

Immediately the cold seeped through her jacket, but she kept walking down the steps straight into the eye of the storm.

Liza had spent her entire life avoiding being noticed or filmed, but the fact that everyone thought she was Trina gave her cover. Everything she’d learned about the woman was that she was no shrinking violet.

“So you finally showing your face, huh,” the loud young woman pushed past Leena. “You been hiding out huh? Well, your luck done run out now girl. I don’t care who you are, or who you think you are, but you ain’t coming back here with that crap you pulled with them basic bitches on TV. You hear me?”

Liza stared back at the enraged woman. She didn’t know what she was talking about, but the woman wasn’t done yet.

“You think you can just plop back in town and talk to anybody’s man, well let me tell you something. Jeremy don’t want you back, okay.” The crowd jeered. Liza felt irritated. A man, this was all about a man? A man she didn’t even know existed, wouldn’t even recognize if he was standing next to her.

Bat girl became even more animated as she moved closer. “Well, what you got to say now?” The girl said moving her head side to side. “Ms. High and Mighty can’t talk to nobody. What you got to say now?”

The last thing she wanted was to get into a shouting match with some crazy woman she had no beef with, but Liza knew she had to do something. Something told her Trina would never allow the girl to pop off like this without some push back.

She didn’t know Trina, but Liza was already tired of her. The woman was a magnet for drama. The crowd moved closer as bat girl advanced. .Liza had to end this before things got out of hand and the police came back.  

“Look,” she began, but the crowd drowned her spoiling for a fight. “I don’t want to fight you,” Liza said as loud as she could over the crowd. Her head was still hurting and yelling only made it worst. Confused faces stared back at her, and Liza realized too late her response was not what they expected or wanted. 

“Look, I don’t want to fight?” the young woman said in a mocking tone.  “Well, you ain’t got a choice,” she said pushing the end of her bat into Liza’s chest. Automatically, Liza swiped the bat to the side with one hand and the bat went flying to ground.  The girl’s shocked face whipped back to her.

The next second the woman was on her pushing her but Liza didn’t move. The woman swung wildly. but Liza deflected the hits easily, choosing to restrain the enraged woman rather than hurting her.

The woman kept coming. Even though none of her blows hit Liza, she was relentless. Liza easily deflected each swing, until the woman started clawing at her face. Liza’s body took over as her training kicked in. Within seconds the girl lay crumpled on the cold wet ground. An eerie quiet settled over the bloodthirsty crowd before there was an explosion of noise as everyone started yelling all at once.

“Did you see that,” a young man yelled, “she karate chopped that girl in the neck.”

“I ain’t never seen nothing like that before.”

“Did you get that?”

“Yeah girl, can you say World Star?”

Liza looked down at the young woman on the ground. She was still breathing, thankfully. Immediately, Liza regretted she’d engaged with the woman. There were other ways she could have handled this, especially as she watched the crowd many who were already bent over their mobile devices probably uploading their videos. There was no telling how many people would see her. Central would not be pleased, but there was nothing she could do about it now. What was done was done.

“Sometimes you have to leave home behind you,” Leena said in Liza’s ear. “You should have stayed gone.” 

A lone siren wailed through the chaos. For a brief moment Liza thought about making a run for it a much smaller hand gripped hers.

Zuri was pulled her back to the Davenport house her sturdy little body pulling with all her might. Reluctantly, Liza allowed her to lead her back into the house.

“How did you learn to do that?” Zuri asked once they were safely on the other side of the locked door, but Liza didn’t respond. There were so many cameras.

How had she let this happen?

It was one thing to have a confrontation, but for it to be on camera was a whole other matter. She didn’t know how Central was going to react. This just wasn’t done. They lived in the shadows, not out in the open for the entire world to see. 

Her training went against everything she’d just done, but she wasn’t scared. In fact she felt excited. For the first time in her life she wanted to be seen.