Don't Struggle (Sequel to Don't Scream)

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. I’m warning you right here and now. Any of you, anyone at all, dares copy my work as their own…I will personally send Rhonda Willis after you. In other words, DON’T STEAL MY STORY.

Read Book 1 of the series, Don't Scream, here:

Chapter 2

Cassidy stood over the marble headstone, looking down at the freshly deposited patch of dirt. Today, the sun in the sky was blotted out by murky splotches of dark rain clouds. There were trees situated all around the cemetery, but their heavy, hanging branches did nothing to shelter Cassidy from the light drizzle of rain that began to fall onto Earth.

Cassidy shivered, drawing her raincoat around her tighter, keeping her attention focused on the gravestone in front of her.

Sylvia Thorne

1998 – 2014

Just a name, eight meaningless digits and a hyphen to separate the pairs of four. It seemed a laughable injustice that the slipshod engraving on the grey marble could describe the whole of Sylvia’s life and her sacrifice.

She’d died, trying to report a murder. Sylvia wasn’t exactly the biggest role model to all little girls out there. She wasn’t particularly charitable, or humble, or gentle in many ways. But she was a friend to Cassidy, and surely Sylvia was one of Cassidy’s best. Cassidy wondered to herself if she’d ever find another friend as great as her again in her lifetime.

She shook the thought away. Of course she would. One day, Cassidy would find another friend to fill the empty space in her heart. People moved on. Cassidy knew Sylvia would do the same if the roles had been reversed with Sylvia in her position and Cassidy six feet underground in her place.

Sylvia’s funeral had passed barely ten minutes ago. Most of the patrons had gone, after bidding Sylvia their last goodbyes and putting their flowers on her headstone. Cassidy had gotten her first look at Sylvia’s parents, a man and a woman, both unassuming and inconspicuous, save for the tears streaking their way down their faces. Cassidy hadn’t dared speak with them.

A little ways off, Eli stood with his superior, Lt Powers, and their mutual friend Alberto, over another grave.

This one belonged to none other than Rhonda Willis.

Lt Powers cleared his throat, preparing to say a few words in farewell.

“Rhonda, you were one of my best detectives. It’s ironic that I say that and if you were here, you’d probably just brush me off. But it’s true. Half the criminals in the city are behind bars because of you and I’m sure the citizens of San Francisco thank you for every day that passes with their safety guaranteed. You didn’t make all the right decisions all the time. Sometimes, life tests us to make the wrong choice and it can happen to the best of us. We here at the precinct remember you for the good you’ve done and not for how you left us. With that, I bid you, rest in peace.”

Alberto sniffed, holding a white tissue up to his eye. “That was beautiful.”

Eli remained expressionless. He wasn’t about to get teary. But he did feel a slight pang of sadness as he looked down on Rhonda’s headstone. She’d been buried right next to her son, Scott Riverson.

“Eli,” Lt Powers began, turning to him. “I understand you may have trouble coming to terms with everything that’s happened, so it’s perfectly understandable if you require a few days off work…?”

“No thanks, sir. I think, actually, work would be the best solution for me,” Eli said, looking up at Lt Powers.

“I knew you’d say that. Come to the precinct on Monday. I’ll assign you a new partner and a low-profile case at the moment,” Lt Powers grunted.

He put a hand on Eli’s shoulder comfortingly before turning around and stalking out of the cemetery.

“I got to ask,” Alberto began, shuffling over to stand next to Eli. “How did it…you know…happen?”

“Excuse me?”

“How did Rhonda die?” Alberto asked, looking nervous, hands in his pockets.

Eli swallowed.

“From your statement, Rhonda had her gun to her head with her safety off, and she was begging for you to shoot her too. How did she die? Did you shoot her, or did she do the deed herself?” Alberto asked.

Eli sighed. “She shot herself.”

Alberto blinked. “Oh…okay. I’ll see you around, Eli.”

Alberto turned and hurriedly left, following the same path out of the cemetery that Lt Powers had taken. Eli groaned, massaging his temple and wincing. Straightening up, he made his way over to where Cassidy stood.

“You ready to leave, Cassidy?” Eli asked, his right hand already going into his pocket to grab his car keys. His new Nissan, courtesy of the SFPD, was parked right outside the cemetery.

“Not just yet,” Cassidy muttered.

She was looking off into the distance, where two other people stood over a pair of other graves. Cassidy knew who they were. She’d spoken to one of them earlier, before Sylvia’s funeral.

Beckoning to Eli, Cassidy made her way over to the two adults, a man and a woman. The woman was twice as old as the man, with white hair, monocles and wrinkled skin. The man was averagely well-built and was dressed completely in black. He turned when Cassidy arrived.

“Hello, sir,” Cassidy began. “You’re Jonah’s uncle, aren’t you?”

The man sniffed slightly, running his hand through his thinning hair. “Ahem…yes. Yes, I am. Who are you?”

“I’m Cassidy, sir. We spoke earlier, remember?”

“Ah yes, yes, Cassidy. Sorry, yes, I remember you,” Jonah’s uncle nodded.

Cassidy looked past Jonah’s uncle at the two graves he was standing over.

Jonah Whitley

1997 – 2014

Ponnie Adams

1998 – 2014

“This is, uh, this is Ponnie’s aunt, April Adams,” Jonah’s uncle introduced, pointing at the old woman next to him.

“Such a dear sweet thing,” April Adams muttered to herself, almost dreamily, her wrinkled hand shivering as she wiped the tears off her face.

“You were with Jonah, weren’t you? When he died?” Jonah’s uncle asked.

Cassidy hesitated, looking at the anticipation on his face.

“Was it quick? Did it hurt him?” Jonah’s uncle inquired, his eyes shimmering.

“It was very fast. I doubt he felt any pain,” Eli spoke up, seeing Cassidy’s hesitation.

Jonah’s uncle nodded to himself, seemingly satisfied. “Good, good. That’s good. That kid never could take much pain. I remember when he was younger, he used to cry out over the slightest bruise. Genes of his father, that one.”

“He died a hero’s death,” Cassidy offered. “If he hadn’t taken down Scott, Scott would’ve killed Eli, and maybe even me. Neither of us would be standing here if not for his bravery.”

Jonah’s uncle smiled. “Thank you. That’s really comforting.”

He let out a deep sigh, looking up at the cloudy sky. “Jonah always did want to be a hero. When he was younger, he’d want to watch all the superhero movies. He’d collect all the action figures and costumes. He changed after his parents left him with me. He became so much more detached…if it hadn’t been for Ponnie, I worry what he would have become and how he would have survived out there. I guess that’s the least of my worries, really. Took care of him for so many years, brought him up, only to lose him.”

He turned back to regard Cassidy. “It was nice meeting you, Cassidy. You two, Mr…?”



Jonah’s uncle put an arm around April Adams, leading her away from the pair of gravestones. Cassidy waited until they were out of sight, before turning back to Eli.

“So what happens now?”

“What do you mean?” Eli asked Cassidy.

“What happens for you? Will you just return to the police force? Pretend this never happened?” Cassidy asked Eli as they walked back to his car.

“I guess so,” Eli said. “What worries me more is you, Cassidy. What will happen to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I worked on your dad’s case, remember? Technically, you don’t have a legal guardian anymore. And you’re still in high school.”

“I have Rosa,” Cassidy said.

“Who’s that?”

“Um…my maid.”

“That won’t cut it, Cassidy,” Eli said sternly, hands on his hips as they stopped right outside his Nissan.

“Well then, what do you propose, Detective?” Cassidy asked, folding her hands in front of her and raising an eyebrow at him in curiosity.

Eli smiled, for the first time in days. “I think you’re going to need a proper guardian, one who fits the requirements to take care of you. While Rosa can help you with your basic needs such as mealtimes, you’re going to need someone to bring home the bacon while you’re at school.”

Eli held open the car door for Cassidy. “Maybe it’s time I experience again how it’s like living with more than one mouth to feed.”

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