Jezebel fans… look what I have!!! I have a teeny tiny little document (*ahem* short story) titled Aftermath. From Gabriel’s POV.
Oh. Em. Gee.
P.S. —> Here’s the K. Larsen – Jezebel Series Reading Order
A Short Story by K. Larsen
Copyright © 2016 by K. Larsen
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
On one’s own terms
The day Gabriel decided to kill himself was a gorgeous, sun filled day. Hot and humid. But nothing about the appearance of the world matched his feelings. He had dressed himself in his best suit and pinned a note to his chest although he had no idea how long it would be before someone found his body. It didn’t matter though. He stepped carefully onto the dining room chair and secured the rope around his neck. He closed his eyes and thought about all the moments he had shared with his children. Annabelle in her little party dresses, flitting about the house carefree. Brant and his easy smile and charm. He’d wanted nothing more than a normal life and for a while, he’d had it. But had he even appreciated it while it was within his grasp? He couldn’t be sure anymore. Greed and plotting, murder and revenge had ravaged his life. Not just his life, those of his children and both of his wives as well. Governments, the promise of notoriety and wealth, stole from his soul as much as he’d ever received from them. He’d made stupid choices for stupid reasons and it had all finally caught up with him. Gabriel never actually had what he wanted. It all came at a price. a price he had paid in blood;
He opened his eyes and looked up.
Yanked on the rope.
Without another thought, he stepped from the chair.
The rope bit into the skin at his neck. His fingers clawed at the rope out of instinct. His eye bulged from his head as his lungs struggled for air.
Gabriel’s mind raced.
A thousand small thoughts.
A hundred regrets.
He changed his mind.
Gabriel wanted to live.
Then everything went black.
Monsters aren’t born, they’re made.
Gabriel stared blankly out his office window waiting. His daughter Annabelle should have been home an hour ago. Life lately had become a breath of fresh air. For the first time in decades, he felt his heart squeeze with joy. With life, again. The strains, sins and horrors of the past seemed to finally dissolve into oblivion. He was able to rebuild a relationship with Annabelle and it felt right. Life felt right as of late. It was a foreign feeling for him.
He ran his fingers through his already disheveled hair and looked up at the ceiling. It provided no answers. He tried his daughter’s cell phone again and it went to voicemail. He shook his head and made his way to the kitchen. He would start dinner himself.
Pierogis sizzled in butter, garlic and oil in the cast iron skillet on the stove. The smell filled the large space. Gabriel smiled to himself as he flipped each puffy pocket over in the pan. Annabelle loved it when he cooked pierogis for her. The chime of the doorbell startled him. He set the spatula down and strode to the front door. When he opened it, he immediately wished he hadn’t. Blue police lights strobed behind the officers standing before him. A sense of Deja vu washed over him. Brant. His chest constricted painfully.
Gabriel looked to the short uniformed man and nodded. Behind him, from inside the house, a burning odor made him realize the pierogis were ruined. “That’s me.”
“I’m Officer Mazak and this is Officer Richards. May we come in?”
Gabriel, confused but curious, opened the door wider and nodded. With an outstretched arm, he gestured to the living room.
Officer Masak spoke first after everyone sat down. “You’re daughter Annabelle is dead. There was an incident at the assisted living facility where she worked. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we will need you to come to the morgue and identify the body as soon as you can.”
Gabriel’s world spun wildly out of control. Anguish encompassed him. Surely there was some sort of mistake. Annabelle would be home any moment. “What incident?”
“Sir, the fire alarm was tripped and the building cleared but there was no fire reported. However it appears Annabelle didn’t make it from the building with everyone else. Is there anyone you know who would want to harm her?”
“Harm Annabelle?” Who would harm a child? Who would harm his child? He squeezed his eyes shut and dragged a breath through his nose.
“Yes. Was anyone angry at her? Would anyone have a reason to hurt her?”
“Why? What happened to her? What are you saying?”
“It appears she’s been stabbed.”
“Stabbed? At the assisted living facility?” Nothing made any sense to him. The officer’s words seemed garbled and too thick to understand. Tears welled in his eyes. He blinked them back. Gabriel felt every emotion he was capable of. Anguish crushed his ribs. Hope clung to his brain. Heartbreak shattered his heart.
“Yes Sir. Again we’re sorry for your loss. Is there anyone you need to call?”
Monica. My God. He had to find Monica. “No. Yes. I don’t know. What are you doing to find out what happened?” Gabriel demanded.
“Sir, and investigation is under way. As soon as we know anything we will contact you.” The officer’s face held sympathy but it did nothing to quell Gabriel’s pain.
“Where is the morgue?”
When the officers finished their spiel and had written down the morgue address, Gabriel shuffled them out of his house. His brain was frozen on the only sentence he’d heard, You’re daughter Annabelle, was killed. What kind of cruel world would steal both children from a parent? He fumbled with his cell phone. Who should he call? Mark? Would he know something? Was he the one who did it? On the third ring Monica picked up. Sooner or later he would have had to tell her and sooner seemed like the better option.
“What?” she snapped. As always, their relationship was strained whenever they had contact lately. A part of him reveled in the fact that to her, the world was intact. That her greeting was a small piece of normalcy when everything else was spinning out of control.
“Annabelle is dead.” The words tumbled from his mouth without emotion. They erupted from him as a fact, a statement. Silence expanded between them. Then, on the other end of the line, shrieks and wails emerged to pummel his ear drums.
Gabriel’s chest shriveled then.
His heart calcified into an insignificant chunk of stone.
Ugliness begets ugliness
“These are her personal effects. They’ll be released to you after they are released from evidence.” The man spoke but Gabriel didn’t listen. He stared at Annabelle. Prone. White. Unmoving on a cold aluminum colored slab. Monica had collapsed at the sight of her daughter and was escorted from the room. Gabriel stayed. Riveted. His last moments with his daughter would be these. He wanted to stay forever. He wasn’t prepared to let her go. From the waiting area he heard a blood curdling scream. It snapped him from his thoughts. How long had he stood there lost in his own past? He strode quickly from one area to the other. Monica had Annabelle’s belongings splayed out before her. A chain hung from one hand. Rings dangling at the end. Annabelle’s cell phone in her other.
“I will kill her Gavin!” she screamed at him. Her face wore a raw pained expression. He wrinkled his brow in confusion and took the phone from his estranged wife’s hand.
It couldn’t be possible. His breath was sucked from his lungs in a moment. He struggled to breathe as he flipped from one picture to the next. There was no mistaking Celeste Fontaine. She was gorgeous even decades later. Gabriel lifted his eyes to Monica’s. Hers were rimmed red and swollen. “This is all your fault,” she seethed. The rings clanked as the necklace chain swung. He lurched forward, grabbing the necklace and inspected the rings. Before thinking better of it he marched back into the Medical Examiner’s office and demanded to see Annabelle again.
“Flip her over.” He had a sneaking suspicion he would be looking at an identical knife wound. The M.E. did as told. Gabriel gasped, choking for air. Celeste Fontaine was alive. His world tilted on its axis. He stumbled before catching himself on the end of the examination table. “What did the toxicology screening say?”
“We won’t have results back for another 24 to 48 hours. Sir, are you okay? Should I get the detectives down here?”
“No,” Gabriel clipped. No, no one could help them and he knew it. If Celeste Fontaine had been alive all these years, if she had truly found him and Monique, there would be nothing the police or he could do to prevent her wrath. He wasn’t even able to tell the police his true identity. The government had already done what they could. There was no one and nothing that would aid him or Monique. But how? How had Celeste lived? How had she rebuilt herself, her life? Fear gripped Gabriel tight. He sank to his knees and let out a chilling scream.
Monica paced the living room. Every noise and creak of the house made her jump. “She will come for us too.” Her voice was frantic.
“No. No she won’t,” he replied. “We’re meant to suffer. Killing us would be too good for us. She wants us to suffer.”
“We have to find her Gabriel.” The name slips off her tongue as if it were just yesterday she used to call him that.
“And how would we go about that Monica? For decades she’s lived and watched and planned and we’ve been none the wiser.”
“We know she’s using Jezebel as her name. Surely we can have one of the C.I.A agents look into it?” Monica slumped down next to him on the couch. She hugged a pillow to her chest, sniffled and then sobbed because it smelled like Annabelle.
“I’m sure she’s not using that name. Clearly she wouldn’t be that stupid. All this time she was sitting there week after week with our daughter. We had no idea. As for the C.I.A. we burned that bridge a long time ago.”
Monica wailed a broken, ragged cry. Gabriel didn’t have the desire to comfort her. In part, she was to blame. They were both to blame. There would be no absolution for them. They were now left to rot in their lives, re-live the pain they had each caused, day after day. Gabriel swallowed down the bile that crept up his throat. He had accomplished nothing in the lifetime he was given. He would never be anything. His world had been a mirage, that much was apparent now. Celeste Fontaine had pulled the rug from beneath his feet. She stole his career in France. She stole his family in the United States. She stole his marriage. She stole everything from him. And he had been so smug at one point in his life. He’d truly believed that he could move on and have it all; that the sins of his past would never be able to touch the moments of his future. How foolish he’d been. Disgust washed over him when he looked at Monica. He couldn’t remember how or why he’d fallen in love with her and it irked him. “You need to leave,” he spat at the woman he used to love.
Monica’s head whipped backward, offended. She stood but hesitated. Her mouth opened but then snapped closed. Good, he thought. Monica Fortin turned and exited the house. Gavin Fortin got up and stormed out of the room. Tomorrow was a new day and he knew exactly what it would bring.