Don't Struggle (Sequel to Don't Scream)
For Cassidy Hoskins and Eli Bensworth, their ordeal in the auditorium of Cliffton High School was only the beginning. This time, danger waits for them on the other side of the world.
P.S. Iâ€™m warning you right here and now. Any of you, anyone at all, dares copy my work as their ownâ€¦I will personally send Rhonda Willis after you. In other words, DONâ€™T STEAL MY STORY.
Read Book 1 of the series, Don't Scream, here: http://www.quibblo.com/quiz/i6WRweo/Dont-Scream-A-Completed-Original-Sto
Katelyn drove. They sped down the streets of San Francisco in her cop cruiser. The radio on the dashboard crackled to life every now and then with a few updates.
"Suspect sighted on Highway 120!"
"Take this route. We can intercept him from here," Eli said, pointing at a smaller road leading away from the main route.
Katelyn followed his directions without hesitation and soon, they were speeding along a slightly narrower lane; but it was free of traffic.
"You shouldn't have announced to Kelly that the police was coming," Katelyn said as they drove, brushing strands of hair out of her mouth and eyes. "Once he heard that, he rabbited. All we wanted was to speak to him and now he's under the impression we're here to arrest him."
"I was going after Greg, all right?" Eli said in his defense. "Speaking of which, Greg isn't the only criminal on Kelly's security detail. I recognized one of the men he had with him. Bronco."
"He's a guy I met last year - he was the second-in-command to this woman, Patricia Chang, who was the leader of this criminal gang known as the Scorpions. They kidnapped me and my old partner last year. We managed to get out safely - Patricia was shot and killed. I guess Bronco took over. After that operation though, the Scorpions' reputation took a huge hit. Patricia had been a successful leader - Bronco, not so much. Under his rule, the Scorpions fell, hard. Their rivals, the Typhoons, prospered. It wasn't long until the Scorpions went from having a notoriously infamous reputation to being known as old news. On top of that, when the other Chinese gangs heard that the Scorpions had let themselves be bought over by Xavier Greene, the man who ordered me and Rhonda's kidnapping, they were disgraced."
"If that's so, then wasn't it a stupid idea for them to be bought over a second time by Kelly?" Katelyn pointed out.
"Like I said, Bronco clearly isn't being a very good leader. I met him, or at least figured out his name and face, very briefly last year. If you ask me, the guy's more used to being a lackey. Leadership doesn't seem like one of his qualities. Still, the Scorpions are going to have muscle. They're guarding Kelly. If they fire at us, we have to fight back."
The road opened up and spat Eli and Katelyn's cop cruiser out onto an open road. From the highway, Eli saw Kelly's limousine speed out.
"Watch out!" Eli warned.
Katelyn reversed and pulled the car out of the way right as Kelly's limo barreled past them, out-of-control, before finally crashing headlong into a streetlamp. They watched as the airbags deployed and two men stumbled out on opposite sides of the car, both wearing suits that were now crumpled and torn. One man was Kelly, the side of his face bloody, his hand clutching a small revolver. The other man was larger, and had an assault rifle strapped to his shoulder. Eli recognized him.
"That's Bronco," he announced.
Motioning to Katelyn, the two of them got out of their car. Eli called out to Kelly and Bronco. "Mr. Kelly!"
Kelly and Bronco looked up. Kelly's eyes widened with fear and he stumbled back, fearful of Eli and Katelyn. "N-No! Stay away! Bronco!"
Bronco lifted the assault rifle menacingly. "Back off, coppers! I'll die before I let you lay a finger on him! The Scorpions need to regain their honor!"
His eyes narrowed in on Eli. "I know you. You're the one who destroyed us, destroyed the Scorpions! Our reputations is finished now because of you. You killed our leader. You killed Patricia!"
"Bronco, that wasn't me," Eli said, attempting to placate the Asian brute. "It was Xavier. You know, the guy you were working for?"
"The Scorpions don't work for nobody!" Bronco yelled.
"Oh, really?" Eli asked, motioning to Kelly, who crouched, cowering behind the wreckage of his limousine.
Bronco's response was to open fire on them. Eli and Katelyn ducked behind their cop cruiser as bullets pinged off the metal hood of the vehicle.
"Stop shooting! That's an order! If you refuse to surrender, we will be forced to shoot back!" Katelyn yelled.
"Screw that, and screw you!" Bronco snarled. "Stay behind me, Mr. Kelly!"
"Look, it's all a misunderstanding! We just need to speak to Mr. Kelly!" Katelyn called back.
"S-Speak? Like I'd believe that. You're here to arrest me! I saw all the cops! You think it was me who orchestrated the attack on Meghan! Well, it wasn't! I swear!" Eli heard Kelly yell in the distance.
He heard another round of gunfire from Bronco, before it stopped abruptly. Bronco cursed, reloading his gun. Taking that as his cue, Eli rose from behind cover, his gun raised and aimed at Bronco.
Before he could fire a shot, Bronco swore and ducked behind the limousine with Kelly. Eli fired one bullet, and at just that moment, Bronco appeared again, his gun reloaded. An array of bullets came his way and Eli dropped back down behind cover.
"Cover me," Katelyn whispered to Eli.
Katelyn nodded at him and crept around the side of the cop cruiser. Eli risked a peek around the side of the car and saw Bronco making his way over to his side of the car, his assault rifle still pointed at where Eli was hiding.
"I'm going to kill you for what you did to Patricia and to the Scorpions! You took our honor from us!" Bronco yelled.
He fired another volley of bullets, which pinged as they all hit the metal side of the car. Eli shrunk back and saw Katelyn rise up from cover on the other side of the car. Eli looked above cover for a brief second, watching as Katelyn aimed her gun at Bronco, who was still too preoccupied going after Eli to notice her.
Katelyn's gun shuddered as her bullet left its chamber. Bronco's head jerked to the side as Katelyn's bullet lodged itself into his skull. He keeled over on the side of the road, his assault rifle falling out of his grip. His large body gave a slight shudder and eventually gave up. Bronco slumped on the ground, lifeless and immobile.
Katelyn sighed, lowering her gun. "So much for that."
Eli got to his feet just in time to see Kelly emerge from his cover as well. Kelly pointed his revolver at Katelyn and Eli aimed his own weapon at him.
"Mr. Kelly! Drop the gun," Eli ordered.
Katelyn whirled around and raised her gun as well. Kelly scowled, sweat breaking out across his forehead. The three of them stood in the middle of the street by the two wrecked cars and Bronco's corpse.
"Mr. Kelly..." Eli warned.
"It doesn't have to be this way," Katelyn said.
"Doesn't it?" Kelly panted. Perhaps it was a trick of the light but it looked almost as if the politician was crying. He had radiated such a strong aura of confidence earlier during his speech and now, he was broken. His entire career looked close to breaking down. And for what? Because he had orchestrated an attack on Meghan, his competition? For the first time, Eli wondered: perhaps Kelly really was innocent. The crying, broken man before him seemed so devastated that things had come down to this. But then, Eli remembered something.
"I swear, it wasn't me!" Kelly sniveled, sniffing, still raising his gun at Eli and Katelyn. "I didn't have Meghan attacked, I didn't!"
"Even if not Meghan, well then what about Lisa? Lisa Crowle? The girl you let die just so you could have the Homewrecker on your side?" Eli asked.
Kelly's lip trembled. "It's not fair! She wouldn't have had to die if not for all the people out to kill me!"
"What do you mean?" Katelyn asked.
"Meghan was nearly attacked by someone on her security detail," Kelly sniffled. "Once I found out that happened, I couldn't possibly trust anyone on my old security team, now could I? What if whoever had Meghan attacked also got someone on my security team to come after me? I needed protection! I wanted Greg on my side! Lisa had to die, but she wouldn't have had to if not for the person who wanted me and Meghan dead! I swear, it's someone else doing all this, I have nothing to do with any of this! I'm innocent!"
"You're not innocent," Katelyn spat. "Even if it wasn't you behind Meghan's attacks, you helped Greg kill Lisa. You're still going to jail for that."
Eli's brow furrowed. Something Kelly said repeated itself in his head. Meghan was nearly attacked by someone on her security detail...
"Wait..." Eli began. "So you didn't hire Zachary to-"
"AGH - HKK!"
Eli and Katelyn dropped to their feet as soon as they heard the gunshot. Kelly jerked forwards, crying out in shock as he was sniped in the back. The front of his white shirt was slowly turning red as blood spread across his chest. He collapsed onto his knees, blood gurgling out of his mouth and chest. Choking and gasping, his eyes found Eli's, pleading with him, until he finally dropped face down onto the hot tarmac with a raspy, dying breath.
"Sniper, 12 o clock, opposite building," Katelyn said as she and Eli crouched behind the cop cruiser to avoid being sniped as well.
Eli peered up at the roof of the opposite skyscraper. He could've sworn he caught a glimpse of a human figure, but it was gone in the blink of an eye.
Seeing no one left on the roof - at least as far as Eli could tell - Eli lunged forward, still crouched, and grabbed Kelly by the hand, dragging the politician's body behind the car and flipping him over.
Kelly lay on the ground next to the two detectives. Eli tested his wrist for a pulse and found nothing. His body was already turning cold.
"Call an ambulance," Eli said to Katelyn. "And call Lt. Powers while you're at it."
After a trip to the furniture store with Uncle Burton, soon, Leslie's new room was properly furnished.
Bedsheets, a bedside table, an alarm clock, movie posters, a wardrobe, a mirror, a study table and a computer. It was a start.
Leslie put up the frame photos she'd brought from home on the end table next to her bed, by her alarm clock. There was the picture of her and her parents. Her Mom and Dad, both smiling on either side of her, as they posed in front of the Parthenon. They'd gone there on vacation on Leslie's fourteenth birthday. Leslie missed them terribly.
Another picture, of Leslie with her two best friends, Shanna and Cormack; the girl on her right and Cormack jumping up behind the two of them. That had been taken on Leslie's sixteenth birthday, just last year. She already missed the pair of them dearly.
And of course, the final picture. Leslie with Reed. Reed had his arms around the then sixteen-year-old Leslie. They had taken it on the last day of school together. Thinking of what happened after that day brought back the painful memories, which Leslie forced herself to repress, shutting her eyes tightly. She'd resolved to forget those things. She didn't need a therapist. She didn't want to go back to one of those horrible sessions.
Her therapist - coincidentally also named after her aunt - was a woman named Dr. Flora Tiber. Dr. Tiber had been a kind-hearted woman to Leslie, but Leslie had still hated having to go back to her for each session. She'd convinced Aunt Flora that she no longer needed therapy and so Leslie stopped having to see Dr. Flora. Leslie was determined to prove to herself that she hadn't been lying - she was recovered.
She had to be.
Aunt Flora knew that Leslie still found the memories of the incident that took place in New York last year too painful, so she and Uncle Burton had agreed to take Leslie here, to San Francisco, to start a new life, to have a new beginning. A fresh start for the three of them - though Leslie knew it was really just for her. She needed to start over, needed to forget the devastation she'd felt when she lost three of the people she cared for so much in a single day.
Leslie wondered how her old friends Shanna and Cormack were doing. Maybe they were dating now. She'd always suspected Cormack had a thing for Shanna - he was just too much of a dope to realize that Shanna liked him back as well. Leslie still had their phone numbers and email addresses and she'd already spoken to them thrice since arriving at San Francisco earlier that week. But Leslie knew she had to let them go. Long distance relationships were tough - not just for couples but for friends too.
Besides, if Leslie was really pursuing a fresh start here in the city of San Francisco, perhaps she could get some new friends as well.
Leslie strolled into the living room of her new home. Uncle Burton was napping in his room. Aunt Flora had gone out to get a job - to raise money for the family of three. The refrigerator in the kitchen was well-stocked from Aunt Flora's recent trip to the grocery store. Leslie poured herself a glass of milk and returned to the living room, plopping down onto the couch and turning the television on, flipping to the news channel.
"...when earlier today, politician Theodore Kelly was shot by a sniper in the middle of a stand-off with two police officers, who both refused to be identified. Mr. Kelly fled from his own speech rally at the Frisch Hotel when he heard that the police were on their way. Eyewitnesses report one of the two aforementioned unidentified police officers trying to diffuse a hostage situation with escaped convict and alleged murderer, Gregory Felix Chaplain, who went under the alias of the Homewrecker last year and was responsible for the deaths of parents of two, Kevin and Linda Crowle..."
A grainy image popped up on screen, showing the smudged figures of what looked to be a tall man grabbing a blond-haired girl by the neck.
Leslie flipped to another channel, and to her surprise, found herself looking at the same image, only this time it was more focused and less pixelated. She could see the girl's face now - she had high, rosy cheekbones, a somewhat frightened-looking expression and a soft, supple complexion. The man grabbing her from behind looked manic, with a wild look in his eyes, sweat coating his hair and turning his face slick with grime.
"..by the name of Eli Bensworth. Detective Bensworth was also involved in the deaths of convicts Xavier Greene, Patricia Chang, Scott Riverson and detective-turned-criminal Rhonda Willis last year - he has refused to give comment on either Greg Chaplain's or Theodore Kelly's deaths..."
Whichever news channel Leslie flipped to, there'd be an image of the incident plastered on the screen. Photos of the Homewrecker grabbing the girl as a hostage, taken from different angles. One news channel had a short sixty-seconds recording of two detectives facing off against the politician Kelly, and it cut a few seconds after Kelly was shot in the back. Seeing all the deaths playing out on almost every channel, hearing the newscaster's deep voice narrating the incidents in such a manner-of-fact tone, as if merely describing the weather...Leslie tried to drown out the sound of the man's voice, clamping down on her ears, her glass of milk forgotten on the coffee table.
Whimpering, she raised her legs up, crouching on the sofa, clenching her eyes shut, gritting her teeth, blocking out the outside world. She whispered under her breath, trying to take deep, soothing gulps of air to calm her down.
This wasn't the first time Leslie came close to having a panic attack. Any sort of tragedy that she witnessed instantly brought back memories - all those horrible, repressed memories.
She couldn't help the flashbacks that came as she sat, curled up on the sofa, trying to ignore the TV. Seeing her parents laugh as her boyfriend, Reed, told them a joke. Feeling so at ease in the slinky blue dress that Shanna had bought for her two days before. Watching as the dark Sedan crashed into the side of their car. Screaming as their car spun out of control and smashed headlong into the side of a convenience store. Waking up, dazed, to the feeling of broken glass under her hands. Finding blood splattered all over the sequins embedded in the fabric of her outfit. Trying to shake awake her parents and getting no response. Testing for a pulse. Desperately yelling at Reed once she found he was still breathing, desperate to keep him alive until the paramedics. Feeling crushed when she realized they'd never arrive in time.
And above all, what Leslie remembered the most was looking out the smashed car window and seeing the drunk driver standing outside - the woman who had plowed her car right into them. She'd stood outside, looking thunderstruck, one hand still clutching her cellphone, which she'd used to call for an ambulance. Another hand clamped over her mouth, tears flowing silently down her cheeks.
Brooding hate threatened to overwhelm Leslie and for a brief moment, she was suspended between past and present. One minute, she was crouched on the sofa, trying to curl herself up into a ball. The next thing she knew, she was reliving the memories again - reliving the nightmares, as she'd had to each time she visited Dr. Flora. She was back in the wreckage of that car, her Prom dress torn and bloody and ruined beyond recognition. Her parents dead - her mother behind the driver's seat and her father in the passenger's. Reed, lying next to her, croaking out her name, coughing blood all over her hands, his own tuxedo in a right mess.
And all Leslie could focus on was the woman's face - the face of the woman who had took it all away, took all three of them away from Leslie's life, ruined her and broke completely. Leslie had never felt so much hate towards another person up until that moment.
When Leslie finally regained control over herself, she sat up straight and her flashback dissipated. The news broadcast had ended. Now she was watching some sort of comedy. She got to her feet, shakily, and made her way to the balcony.
Placing her hands on the banister, she looked out over the impressive landscape of the city, taking in the surroundings serenely, watching the majestic descent of the sun as night drew ever near.
A fresh start, Leslie thought to herself. A new beginning.