The brilliant Jessica Arroyo has just transferred into Cloud’s unit at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Ever since he was fifteen he’s had a crush on this girl who’s bested him at everything he wanted to accomplish. Back in high school she was the valedictorian. The popular girl who could get any man she wanted while he was the odd bookworm voted most likely to shoot up the school.
Now…she’s back in his life again. Cloud isn’t the man he used to be and he’s still got business with Maggie. In his heart of hearts, Cloud knows Jessica’s inquisitive enough to figure out what he’s been up to for the past five years. It’d be a shame, really. If something were to happen to her.
The Slave Quarters
By: Rock Kitaro
“Jessica Arroyo is a woman who…”
It’s odd. How to describe her? My honesty opinions and the facts might disagree with each other. So I opt to tell Miranda everything and trust that she’ll understand and tell it to me straight.
“As you know, I don’t particularly have a fond opinion of my fellow Millennials. I believe we are easily influenced. I believe we are forgetful of significant history. And I believe we think we are selfish individualists who refuse to see the big picture if it goes against our own personal ambitions. That being said, I don’t see myself as one of them. You’re probably the only person I’ll admit this to, but yes, I honestly do think most Millennials are beneath me. However, there is but one of my fellow peers who I can honestly say I see as my equal. Her name is Jessica Arroyo.”
“And she is?”
“An infection, a persistent virus that never truly leaves the body. It’s only suppressed and contained by isolation and time away from irritant exposure. Jessica and I graduated from the same school, always competed academically. I’ve had a crush on her since I was fifteen, which was depressing as I watched her date asshole after asshole. She was one of the most popular girls in the school, magically excelling at everything while I was the fat loser who kept my nose buried in the books. If that’s not bad, she even beat me out to take the valedictorian spot while I was salutatorian. And to make matters worse, by pure friggin happenstance, she ended up attending the same college, enrolling in the same programs, same classes, the same degree. It was horrible. Alright, it wasn’t horrible, but it was tormenting.”
“I’m confused. Are you jealous of her? Or are you in love with her?” Miranda asks, making light of the predicament.
“Neither! I think every man has a certain point in which they’ve seen the love of their life passed between too many dudes. That ship has sailed.”
Miranda starts to snicker but I continue in a mindless prattle.
“That ship has sailed! Moreover, beauty like that has a way of ensnaring a man. The problem resides in the fact that, like me, she’s a natural born detective. You should have heard her thesis in our criminology classes. With every answer she gave, it’s like she was taking the words right out of my mouth. People always seem to be so puzzled. It confounds them to understand the motives of killers and con artists, but like me, Jessica just gets it. This leads me to believe that beneath her happy-go-lucky façade, her heart is just as dark as my own. She’s just better as hiding it.”
“I’m telling you, Miranda. Her immense beauty belies the fact that she is extremely intelligent. She knows me. More than that, she always used to think we were friends, which freaking sucks because it’s with types like that where if you push her away it’ll only create more questions in which she won’t stop until she gets to the bottom of it. She was there the morning after Maggie’s first kill. She was there when I came back from my mother’s funeral. If I’m not careful…”
…I want to say I might have to get rid of her but I refrain.
“Sounds like all this went down years ago. What? Is the bitch back?”
“Yes. Leanne’s probably finishing up the grand tour as we speak. I saw her, Miranda. She’s still so flawless,” I say, utterly hopelessness.
Miranda chuckles over her lime soda. “It ain’t easy being Cloud Beaudry, is it? Would you like my advice?”
“Please,” I invite with open palms.
“Sounds to me like you just need to get it out of your system. Hit that once and you’ll be all right. Trust me. Won’t even look at her the same way.”
It’s not what I wanted to hear.