Elodie could only stand gaping at the body beneath her as Tucker continued to bark, though the sound still sounded muted and far away. She hadn’t even heard Kaz’s voice scream out for her, barely registering as his hand pulled at hers. Instead, her eyes remained locked on the awkward, frozen angles. From here, she could almost see the gaping mouth that was kept open in a silent scream by rigor mortis and eyes that wouldn’t close without a fair bit of manipulation and strength… She didn’t hear the man’s words at her side as she was tugged away, pupils dilated with fear so large that the blue irises barely shown even in the bright light of the day. The woman forced one foot in front of the other, tumbling over herself nearly as Kaz continued to take her back to her Jeep.
Her eyes finally moved up to the Japanese man as he continued to speak, his calm voice almost enough to soothe her quickened heartbeat. It was nearly palpable through her chest and, soon, it would make her breathing uncontrolled. She took a few deep inhales, holding them for as long as possible in an attempt to calm herself. Elodie nodded and gripped Kaz’s hand more firmly. It was going to be impossible to forget the horrible sight that had been displayed in front of her, no matter how much she prayed or wished for it. Still, the woman knew that he was just trying to be nice and supportive. “It’s just around the old store,” Elodie said shakily, regaining some semblance of control and taking her hand from Kaz’s.
She dug the Jeep keys from her pocket and unlocked the car, climbing into the front seat clumsily and rummaging for her phone. She quickly dialed 911, unaware that perhaps Kaz was doing the same thing, and sat down on the leather seat. While the police arrived, Ellie leaned forward and placed her head on Kaz’s chest as if the last few years had never happened. She listened to the police, who seemed nonplussed at the presence of a dead body, and gave up what information she could. She only nodded once more as they were assured the case would soon be resolved. Tucker had finally made it back to the Jeep, his brown tail wagging as if nothing had occurred.
It wasn’t as easy for Ellie to return to normal, however, and she took up Kaz’s offer. She hadn’t wanted to initially, considering she didn’t want to answer any questions Tyler might have, but it would at least give her peace of mind to spend time around him, normalizing her grip on reality. “Yeah, sure. I’m sure Tyler would love to say hi to you.” It was a meager attempt at humor, knowing that her brother had quite the unsavory opinion regarding Kaz. She slipped the keys into the ignition before shakily climbing to her knees, opening up the back door so Tucker could jump in.
Once the dog was settled, Elodie shut him in and moved to the passenger seat, quickly moving back into the Jeep. She wasn’t in the right state to drive back, no matter how short of a drive it was. “He lives on Thoroughbred Way,” she said, leaning her head back against the seat and sighing. She ran her hands over her thighs, trying to clear her clammy palms, before she turned her head to look at Kaz. “I’m sure Juntao is worried, especially if he’s called twice,” she said, trying to divert her thoughts away from the dead man they’d seen minutes earlier.
“Tell him I say hello,” she said, offering Kaz a small smile before turning her attention to the flashing trees on the road. Soon enough they found their way to Tyler’s house where she’d been staying.
“I, uh… I don’t have a place at the moment.” Her eyes moved up to run over the light blue, two story house that was certainly too large for just Tyler. “He doesn’t mind the company, or so he says. He’s dating someone, but it isn’t serious. Got divorced a few years ago… Katie Engles, if you remember her. Pretty little thing. Anyway. This is where I’m at now. I don’t suppose I have the real authority to bring you in, but…” Elodie shrugged as she opened the door, then Tucker’s. He ran towards the front door, but not before stopping and urinating on some budding bushes. “Come in. Least I can do if fix us up a cup of coffee. God knows I need it.”
She shut the door to her Jeep and moved to unlock the house, having not seen Tyler’s patrol car in the driveway. She wondered, briefly, if he had been called out to study the remains but tried not to linger there for long. Elodie opened the white door, showing a modern and open living room that also held a kitchen. The inside was sleek and not too crowded, allowing Tucker to easily romp through the area. She put on a pot of coffee as soon as she could, inhaling the rich aroma as it brewed. Her slender fingers moved to gather two simple, white mugs. “How do you take it?”