Detective Blu told me to meet her at the beach then hung up on me. Clover and I said quick goodbyes to my family and left as soon as possible. We didn’t speak the whole ride down to the beach, I was too nervous.
She didn’t tell me if Gardenia was dead or alive, but part of my mind knew the former was the case, but I was hoping it would be the latter.
The scene on the beach was the exact opposite of what I was expecting. I was expecting ambulances, police cars, paramedics, officers, etc. But it was pretty much the opposite. The only people on the beach were Detective Blu, my sister, Tulip, and a male officer.
“Hello, Detective. I got here as fast as I could. What’s going on?” I approached her as she was talking to Fern.
“The station got a call about a strange object that got washed up on shore. When Tulip and her partner came out to check it out, they discovered it was Gardenia Rico’s body.” She explained.
“How come there’s barely anyone here?” Clover glanced around the beach.
“There’s not much to do. We called the coroner who’s coming to collect the body, and figure out what happened to her. That’s why I called you. I was hoping you could try and contact her now, try and get a few more details.”
“I’ll try, but no promises.” I turned around to face Clover and she gave me a small nod.
I made my way to the shore and stopped a few feet away from Gardenia.
I had been hoping this wasn’t how the case would turn out. Gardenia seemed like such a nice girl, even if she did have an issue with my girlfriend. She didn’t deserve this, at all. No one deserves to die, especially not her.
It all felt so surreal. I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of her dead body, when only a few weeks ago I saw her alive. I felt guilty, like somehow this was all my fault. Part of me knew that was ridiculous, but I still had a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I had something to do with this.
I concentrated, trying to contact her spirit, but she didn’t want to be contacted. I didn’t understand why, we had found her body and we knew she was dead, why didn’t she wanna talk to me? Maybe I’d have to try when I’m alone.
To be honest, I’m not sure when I started to cry. But as soon as I realized, I tried to wipe away the tears before anyone noticed. I didn’t want them to think I couldn’t handle this. I could, I just felt guilty.
“Babe, let’s get you home. You don’t need to see this. You can try again later.” Clover’s soft arms wrapped around me and clutched my arm.
“I have to help.” I whispered, my voice almost non-existent.
“You did. You tried, that’s what matters. I don’t think you’re in any state of mind to help with this right now. Let’s get you home.”
‘This is all your fault. How could you let her die like this?’ I mentally abused myself as I sat on the floor of my bathroom. I don’t really remember getting home, I just remember dashing up the stairs and locking myself in the bathroom. Clover pounded on the door for a while, but I ignored her and eventually she went away.
“Pst, hey, Earth to River.” A delicate voice shook me away from my thoughts.
“Tulip, how’d you get in here?” I knew for a fact I locked the door.
“I have a master key set, I had to come in and make sure you’re okay.”
“I am.” I lied. I was not okay at all.
“You’re lying. Don’t you dare lie to me, Fae.” She grabbed my face in her hands and glared at me. “It’s not your fault. None of this is. I know it’s so easy to blame ourselves in situations like this, but please don’t. We’re gonna find out what really happened, and I know it doesn’t have anything to do with you.”
“How would you know that? For all we know it could be all my fault.” She shook my head vigorously, giving me a small headache.
“Shut your mouth. You have nothing to do with this.” She dropped her hands and set one on my waist while the other grazed my chin.
“You’re right, I guess.”
“I know I am. Now, let’s get you out of this bathroom, it smells freaking awful. We really have to hire a new maid. This one sucks.” She joked as she helped me off the floor.
“C’mon, we could both use some fresh air.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the bathroom.
“There has to be something I could’ve done differently, right?” I buried my face in my hands. Tulip and I sat on the bench in our backyard that rarely ever got any use.
“River, please stop thinking about it. What’s done is done, and we can’t change the past. Instead of focusing on what we could’ve done differently, let’s think about what we can do to prevent it from happening again. Well, first we have to find out what happened. So until then, try to keep yourself occupied.”
“So, how was the visit with your parents?” She asked. It felt like that happened years ago, not this morning.
“I’m an uncle now. My little sister had a kid, his name is Aster. He’s the cutest little kid I’ve ever seen.” I gushed, remembering the adorable toddler.
“That’s great news! I’d love to have a nephew, but my sister isn’t ready yet.” I almost laughed at the idea, Detective Blu doesn’t seen like the motherly type.
“I think you’d make an awesome aunt.” I said, and she beamed.
“I can’t wait. I love kids, but I don’t like disciplining them. I’d rather be the cool aunt that spoils them and drives them home when they get drunk for the first time.” We both laughed, I could totally see her playing that role.
“Yea, hopefully I can be the cool uncle. Don’t know if I’m cool enough for that though.” She giggled.
“Hey, at least you’re not the creepy uncle.”
“I just hope my sister can be a good mom. She’s always been trouble, and it seems like she’s just getting worse. I hope she gets better before he’s old enough to remember.”
“Me too.” She gave me a sad smile and laid her hand on mine. “Do you ever want kids?”
“I do, but I don’t know about Clover, she’s not very good with kids.” It’s true, she tried babysitting when she was sixteen, and it didn’t go well at all. She freaked out when she had to change the diaper and she called me to help her. I did all the work and she’s the one that got paid, but hey at least the kid didn’t get hurt.
“That’s too bad. I think you guys would have adorable kids.”
“Hopefully she’ll reconsider when the time is right. Are you guys gonna get married?” She asked, her voice strained. We hadn’t talked about the kiss we shared, and I didn’t know how she stood with me. Did she like me? Was she just delirious? How did I feel about her?
“I don’t know. I’m not ready for marriage. Not yet.”
“Yea, getting married young never ends well.” She told me.
“Yea. Hey, are you hungry? I could make you something to eat.” I drank blood, I didn’t need to eat food but I wanted to make her something.
“I think I’m just gonna go to bed. Thanks for the offer though, means a lot.” She squeezed my hand and we both got off the bench.
“Thanks Tulip, I really needed that.” I pulled her into a tight hug.
“It’s no problem, I’ll always be there for you.”
I don’t know why I did it, but I kissed her. Again. This time I couldn’t blame it on our tiredness. This time I knew it was for real.
I got really into the kiss this time. I lost myself in her, it was like she put a spell on me. I couldn’t think about anything or anyone else if I tried. It was just the two of us.
I pulled back slightly and she dropped her arms. Suddenly, I remembered that Clover was home.
“Oh god, is Clover home?”
“No, her boss called, asking her to cover a story for him” She answered softly. She and I both knew what the story was, and I didn’t want to think about that right now.
“Oh. Okay.” I bit my lip and smiled down at her. She kissed my nose softly and walked away.
“Night River.” She called out as she walked away.
I had a lot to think about, but I knew one thing for sure.
I was falling in love with her.
“What do you mean you kissed him? Tuli, he has a girlfriend! And she lives with us! Didn’t we talk about this? Neither of us were gonna date our roommates.” Maple was fuming at me. I told him about both of the times River and I kissed, even though I wasn’t entirely sure if the first time actually happened or if it was just a dream. I think it was a dream though, River never said anything about it again.
“I’m sorry okay? It just happened. He didn’t object, he kissed me back!” I knew it was stupid to defend myself in this situation, but I couldn’t help it. I really wanted him.
“God Tuli, you can’t do this. Do you really want to be a home-wrecker?” I shook my head. “I didn’t think so. What the hell were you thinking?”
I started to sob. “I-I don’t know!”
“Oh god. I didn’t mean to make you cry.” Maple climbed up on my bed and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “I’m sorry Tuli. I’m just freaked out. Clover scares me, I don’t know why but I don’t like her vibe. I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“She’s not going to hurt me, because she’s not gonna find out. I need to move out. I’ll find you a new roommate, I’ll try and get a cute boy for you.” I couldn’t live here anymore, not after all the trouble I was causing.
“That’s tempting, but I don’t think so.” He joked, making me laugh through my tears. “Now, you’re going to talk to River about this. You need to know where you guys stand. Then we can go from there.”
“You’re right. We need to talk. I don’t wanna be a home-wrecker, but I also think I’m in love with him.”
“Oh shit. Love? Seriously?” I nodded, and he sighed. “Well, I guess we’re just gonna have to deal with this.”
“I guess so.”
“Now come here, let’s go to sleep.”
“Why don’t we look into a hot guy roommate anyway? Y’know, for the rent money.” He asked after he clapped the lights off.
“Oh shut up and sleep.” We laughed and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning my sister called and asked us to come into HQ. My partner, Max, and I weren’t entirely thrilled to come in so early, today was our day off. But I came in anyway.
I should’ve known River would be there too. When he came into the backroom, I almost choked on my own spit. Max gave me a confused look but I just brushed him off. I didn’t know why Hydrangea called us in and I didn’t want to make a big scene.
His half-sister Fern came in a few minutes after him. She was obviously grumpy this morning. I usually avoided her though so I didn’t worry too much. I tried to glance over at River a few times, but he kept looking everywhere but at me. It kinda stung.
“Morning, crew.” My sister strode into the room with a tight smile plastered across her face. She’s been super uptight since the Incident, not that I blame her, I’m just not used to this Drea.
“Morning.” We all mumbled in response.
She stood in front of the white board and crossed her arms. She looked like an angry school teacher, except we weren’t working on silly school work, this was a real life situation.
“I got the autopsy results back this morning.” She paused and glanced at the room. Suddenly everyone seemed to fully wake-up at the same time.
“What does it say?” Max asked.
“Well, I originally thought we’d have a drowning case, or a suicide case, on our hands. But drowning doesn’t give you multiple stab wounds to the chest.” We all gasped.
“That’s right crew, we’ve got a homicide case on our hands.”