Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and violence.
Above the small, outlying city of Clement, Massachusetts, the stars shone feverishly. At fifteen past eleven, I had stepped outside my home for a breath of cool air and to get away from the noise of the party and people. Bailey's parents had seemed taken aback when I abruptly stood up, leaving Carol mid-sentence and only halfway through a twenty minute epic monologue about her neighbor's dog's surgery or some nonsense. I eyed Bailey from the kitchen before I slid out the sliding glass doors into the night. Her bemused expression and small smile that started in the corner of her mouth seemed to say, "I'm sorry." I gave her a knowing wink and slid the door closed, which only slightly muffled the constant laughter and talking.
The air was chilly for early September, which felt pleasant as the living room was stifling. As I glanced up into the sky, the stars seemed to be twinkling more than I had ever seen them. Perhaps it had been because the recent fires in the area that had crowded the sky, covering the stars with a blanket of smog for the past week. Now, the skies were clear and the stars seemed to twirl, as if they were dancers in an audition fighting for attention. I took a deep breath and pulled my phone from my pocket. I had two unread texts. The first was from Sam, my partner from the office. The other was from my mother.
"Happy birthday, Dave," Sam had written. "Give Bailey my love and have a great night. When you get a second, can you give me a call? The Fyrefly account's been having some issues, and I need your advice."
I scrolled to my mother's message. "Happy birthday, Dave. We wish we could be there to celebrate with you. Know that we are thinking of you and Bailey and the baby!" She had inserted a GIF of someone popping out of the middle of a large birthday cake with flashing letters at the bottom reading: Best Day Ever
As if on cue, the screen door slid open again, and Bailey joined me out on the deck. She stood behind me and wrapped her arms around my torso and squeezed. I felt her kiss my back.
"Were you surprised?" she asked, resting her head on me.
"Not at all," I joked and turned around. I took her in my arms and kissed her forehead, rubbing her bare arms to keep her warm. "You're not good at keeping secrets."
"I know," she laughed and placed her hand on the railing. We both stood in silence for a moment, looking out into the dark trees behind our house. We lived on a two acre property, and behind the house, about two hundred feet away, a thick wood grew in densely. That had had been one of the reasons for purchasing the property. Bailey was an outdoors girl and grew up hunting, fishing and hiking with her dad and brothers. She had brought me along as well, and I grew to love her when I could see her in her most comfortable environment. After we moved from our first apartment in Dunford, we had purchased this small three bedroom home in Clement. Bailey's house wish-list consisted of the following: a wrap-around porch, a kitchen big enough for a family and no neighbors within three hundred feet. Luckily for us, this home managed to cross off two of those items, leaving only the porch. "You can build me the deck later," Bailey had joked when they signed at closing, and even though she had laughed when she said it, I could tell she wasn't joking.
"You're thirty," she said, matter-of-factly. "Thirty."
"Yeah, don't remind me. And you'll be thirty next year, so get used to it."
"I know," she said, "but still. Thirty."
I placed my hand on her belly and asked, "How's the baby?"
"Fine. He's feeling fine. I haven't felt him move in a while now, so it's probably past his bed-time."
I smiled and looked back into the woods. "It's past my bed-time too."
"I know, everyone should be packing up soon. My mom and dad are taking most of the leftovers. I hope that's all right with you," Bailey said.
"Yes, that's fine. Tell them to take all the cake as well."
"Hell no," Bailey said, rubbing her baby bump. "The little guy and I will finish the rest of the cake, thank you very much." And with that, she slid back into the kitchen, closing the door behind her.
I shivered and looked down at my phone again. My screensaver shone brightly in the night, illuminating my face with pale blue light. The photo on my phone was of Bailey and I at Disneyworld, standing in front of the famous castle. It had been hot that day--very hot. The day had consisted of long lines, expensive churros and if you looked closely enough, you could see a small chocolate ice cream stain on the bottom of my t-shirt where the ice cream had dripped in the heat. Bailey hadn't been pregnant then. Her sunglasses covered her beautiful hazel eyes in the photo, and her long dark hair was flowing in rivers down her shoulder. She was so tan back then. It seemed like ages ago, but it had only been two years.
The screen changed suddenly and I realized I was receiving a phone call. Sam Wardell's name flashed on the screen and I answered,
"Hey Sam, what's up?"
"Dave? Can you hear me?" Sam's voice came through a weak connection, as if he were driving through a tunnel.
"Yeah, yeah, sort of. It's bit late though, can we talk Fyrefly tomorrow morning?" I ask.
"It… it can't wait. I'm sorry to push this on you man, but I fucked up. I fucked it up bad, man, and I don't know who else to call."
My blood seemed to freeze. A knot began to form in the pit of my stomach.
"What do you mean you fucked up? What happened?"
"Dom tried to call me earlier but I wasn't in the office. I was out on the Goldstein deal today, remember? Anyway he spoke with Linda, my assistant, and she went off-script man. She went so far off-script. He was asking about the Fyrefly portfolio. " Sam stammered, the nerves taking over the better part of him.
"Sam, listen to me. Tell me the absolute truth. What did Linda tell him?" I spoke sternly as to not let my fear show in my voice.
"I'm not sure, man, I'm not sure," Sam spoke. "But Dom is on his way to my house right now. My doors are locked and Debbie and the kids are upstairs, but shit man, what am I supposed to do?"
"You aren't going to do anything. Don't answer the door, don't look out the windows. Dom is a smart man though. He'll know you're hiding. But maybe it can buy us some time until I can get there--" I started, but Sam cut me off.
"He's here. Oh fuck it, he's here. There's two cars. Who did he bring?"
"Okay," I muttered, frantically thinking. "When is the last time you touched Fyrefly? Sam?"
Sam sounded like he had dropped his phone and I could hear his front door open.
"Sam, don't go outside! Sam!"
I jumped and looked behind me. Bailey was poking her head out the door with a confused look on her face.
"Who are you yelling at?" she asked.
"I--" I began, but couldn't finish because he could hear Sam screaming on the other end of the line. Loud bangs -- gunshots? Unlikely, but then again I had never been on Dom Santiago's bad side before. It was impossible to know what he was capable of.
"Sam? Sam are you there? Sam, can you hear me?"
Bailey stood outside with me now, her hand covering her mouth in horror. Her other hand went immediately to her belly, as if protecting him from whatever was going on at the other end of the line.
"Babe--" she started, but I cut her off.
"Sam's in trouble. I gotta get over there," I spoke over her and placed the phone back to my ear. I began making my way off the deck and around the side of my home. I couldn't face the guests inside my home with the pure panic on my face.
"Call me as soon as you know what's going on. Let me know what you want me to do," she spoke, her voice quivering and tears welling up in the side of her eyes. She watched as I climbed into my truck and roared the engine. I could see her in my rearview mirror as I sped off. She was standing in the middle of the street, still holding her belly, this time with both of her hands. For the first time in my life, I did not know if I would live long enough to see my baby born.
pt 2 coming soon