On the RunBy: Sue Fineman
An icy wind whipped around the gravestones, chilling Neen Summers to the bone. She pulled her jacket tightly around her and placed the single red rose by her mother’s headstone. Every February 12th, the birthday her mother shared with Abraham Lincoln, they put another candle on the cake, for Abe. It was their shared joke. But the joke died with Mom nearly three years ago, and if Julio Ruiz had his way, Neen would soon be lying here beside her mother.
She tidied up the grass around the base of the monument and ran her hand over the face of the granite stone, touching the engraved roses and each letter of her mother’s name, Gloria Alexandra Summers. It was the first time she’d seen the stone, the first time Neen had been back since the funeral. She shouldn’t be here now, but she missed her mother so much. She’d never had a better friend.
A gust of wind sent the rose flying. As Neen raced after it, she tripped over something and fell. A muffled scream tore loose from her throat. It wasn’t a something, it was a someone, and he smelled awful. She thought at first the scruffy man must be dead, but then he whispered, “Quiet!”
She scrambled to her feet, the rose forgotten.
He grabbed her wrist and pulled her to her knees beside him. “Stay put.” A badge flashed under her nose. Adam Gregory, DEA.
The name sounded so much like… But it couldn’t be him, could it? She peered more closely at his face. The Gregory Adams she knew had a mustache and short hair, and he looked and smelled clean. This couldn’t be the same man. “Who are you?“
“Will you keep your voice down?” he whispered. “I’m not ready for permanent residency here.”
She put her gloved hand over her nose to keep the smell from making her lose her breakfast right here beside—she glanced at the huge gravestone behind him—Wilbert Mortimer Angelthorpe, 1825 – 1902.
Footsteps crunched on the frosty stone path, moving closer to their spot. Still holding her wrist to keep her beside him, the cop stiffened. She opened her mouth to ask what was going on, but before she could speak, she found herself on the ground, with him and his dirty quilt on top of her, his mouth covering hers. She was too stunned to fight him off, and once the kiss began, she didn’t want to. Oh, yes, this was Greg. It reminded her of a time three years ago when he’d kissed her like this. Only not quite like this, in a cemetery, with him smelling like last week’s garbage. At least his mouth tasted clean.
“Aw, shit,” a man said, as footsteps approached.
“Where’d she go?” said another man.
“What’s that over there?”
“Just a drunk and his pile of garbage. He’ll probably freeze to death, sleeping out here with that snowstorm on the way.” The footsteps faded away as the two men joked about dying in a cemetery.
Neen tried to push Greg off her, but he wouldn’t budge. She was almost afraid to ask, “Who are those men?”
“They work for Julio Ruiz.”
She froze as a wave of panic washed over her. “Oh, God!” She thought Julio’s men were still looking for her in Bremerton. And here she was, lying in the open with nothing but Greg’s filthy coat and blanket to hide her.
Former DEA Agent Adam Gregory saw the stark terror in Neen’s green eyes. Her body was tensed and ready to flee, but that would only draw attention to them, and aside from a few big headstones and scattered trees, there was no place to hide in the cemetery.
He saw a flicker of surprise in her eyes after he kissed her. She looked stunned. God help him when the shock wore off. The last time they were together, she slapped his face and ran away. And they both nearly died. Yet here he was, playing target again. He must be out of his ever-loving mind.
In spite of the freezing cold, sweat beaded on his forehead. He moved slightly to be sure he and his coat and grubby blanket concealed her completely. “We’ll stay right here until they’re gone.” They wouldn’t come too close. Nobody came near a man who reeked like this, and no one would have any reason to fear a homeless drunk sleeping in a cemetery.
“Round two,” he whispered. “Stay quiet.”
He heard one man say, “I’ll go this way. You check out the parking lot.”