Witch, p.1

Witch, page 1

 part  #1 of  Sydney Hart Series



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Chapter One

  The dog just kept yapping and it was starting to piss me off. This whole thing was starting to feel like a bad idea. Perhaps I should never have driven all the way out here.

  "What's wrong?" he asked, kissing my neck and guiding me backwards towards the kitchen table.

  "It's the dog," I whispered, lying down and screwing my eyes shut, trying to block out the sound of it in the distance.

  "Just ignore it and relax," he hushed, his whiskey breath hot against my neck.

  "Perhaps your dad is on his way back - that's why the dog's. . . " I started and opened my eyes again, looking up into his face.

  "He won't be back for hours," he murmured, unbuttoning my work shirt, the faintest of smiles tugging at the corners of his mouth, eyes half-shut like two crescent moons.

  With one hand placed on the back of his thick neck, I eased myself up onto the table, wondering now if this wasn't all a big mistake - one which I would later regret. I'd pulled a lot of crazy stunts in the past, but nothing like this - not on duty. But hey, I was just twenty, and entitled to a little bit of fun now and then. I knew, though, that was me talking and not my dad - my sergeant - who was hoping that I would've said goodbye to my wild ways once I had joined the police force. I had only joined to make him happy - to get rid of that disapproving look he had in his eyes for me ever since I had turned thirteen. I was twenty now - so he kept reminding me. Time to grow up and take some responsibility.

  With the dog howling like a wolf on the other side of the farm, Michael pulled open my shirt, bent forward, and started to kiss my nipples, through the thin lacy fabric of my bra.

  "Officer, I need to be punished," he groaned.

  Officer? I rolled my eyes. He really was getting a kick out of me being a cop. I glanced to the left, down at the stone kitchen floor where some of my uniform now lay. My utility belt with the cuffs, baton, CS spray still attached and my police radio, which hissed and crackled as if searching for a signal. I needed to keep it close - listen for any urgent calls. What with the dog howling and the radio hissing and spitting, how was I ever going to relax enough to enjoy Michael? It was no good and I just couldn't cross that line of no return and fully let go. As Michael trailed a soft, wet line of kisses over my breasts and down the flat of stomach, I reached forward, fumbled for his trouser belt, then let go.

  "Don't stop," he breathed, pushing himself against my thigh. I could tell that he was excited and having no problem in giving in to the moment.

  "I can't," I breathed, my heart starting to race - not with excitement, but fear. What if a call should come in now, a call for urgent assistance from one of my colleagues? I was miles from town. Could my radio even get a signal this far out? It had the other day, hadn't it? I tried to remember. Even though Michael was smothering me in kisses and now trying to tug my trousers free, this whole thing didn't seem like a good idea anymore.

  I'd known Michael had wanted me from the moment I had arrived at his father's farmhouse three days ago. The call had come in from Control as an attempted burglary, but it wasn't. After arriving and being met at the gate by the farmer, he led me around the side of the house and towards a dilapidated barn. It had been raining all that morning, and as I'd traipsed behind the broad-shouldered farmer, mud and animal shit had splattered over my boots and up my trousers. It had stunk.

  The farmer seemed undeterred by the driving rain and mud, and stopped before the rickety barn, with rain falling over his bald head, down the length of his weather-worn face, and through the thick blond hairs which covered his meaty forearms.

  "Take a look at this," he said, rattling a broken padlock and chain with one huge hand.

  Take a look at what? I felt like asking upon seeing the rusty, broken lock. It was so old it could have fallen to pieces of its own accord for all I knew or cared.

  "Thieves, that's what they are," the farmer said, looking at me through the rain.

  "Who are?" I asked, just wanting to be back in my patrol car and out of the cold.

  "Whoever smashed this here lock and got into my barn," he huffed at me, like I was some kind of freaking retard.

  I knew what he was thinking. Why had they sent a woman to do a man's job?

  "Has anything been stolen?" I said, pushing open the door and peering into the barn. It was dark inside, and just like outside, it smelt of shit. I took my torch from my belt and flashed a wide beam of light around the inside of the barn. There didn't appear to be anything of great value - not to me, anyhow. It looked cluttered with nothing more than a bunch of rusty-looking crap like old tractor parts, tired-looking pieces of machinery, scattered bales of hay, and more animal shit.

  "Nothing's been stolen as far I can tell," the farmer said, stepping into the barn behind me. "But that's not the point. If it hadn't had been for Jess scaring the thieving bastards away, they could've done more damage than just the broken lock. "

  "Jess?" I said, cocking an eyebrow at him, and fixing my torch back on my belt.

  "My German Shepard," he said gruffly, taking me by the elbow and leading me from the barn. "The dog scared 'em off, she did. " The farmer pulled the barn door closed behind us, then added, "I reckon it's that vermin. "

  "What vermin?" I asked, pulling the collar of my raincoat up about my throat, and tugging the peak of my cap over the bridge of my nose. Rain dripped off it in thick rivulets.

  "Those travellers who have taken over old Farmer Moore's house," he said, his voice almost dropping to a whisper. "Nothing like this ever happened 'til they moved in. "

  "As far as I know, that family keeps themselves to themselves and doesn't cause anyone any bother," I told him.

  "They ain't like any family I've ever seen before," the farmer grunted, setting off back towards the house. "They look like a goddamn bunch of witches. "

  "Witches?" I called after him, splashing through the rain-soaked ground. I secretly thought the name described the family quite well. I had never had any dealings with them and had only seen them from afar. They rarely ventured into the town of Cliff View, but when they did appear, all huddled together in the back of the horse-drawn cart, their complete black attire did, I guess, give them the appearance of a coven of witches. As far as I could tell or had seen, the family was led by an elderly, wizened-looking guy. There was a younger couple, maybe in their late thirties or early forties, but their faces were so pale and drawn-looking, it was hard to tell. There was a younger kid, about four or five years old - but again, it was difficult to tell, and if the truth be known, I didn't really give a shit. The family, however odd as they might have looked, kept to themselves and had never given me or my colleagues any reason to speak with them. There hadn't been an increase in reported crime since their arrival on the outskirts of town a few months back. Most of the burglaries, car thefts and shoplifting were the work of those shit-heads, the Day brothers, who lived on the estate on the other side of Cliff View. I had been a cop for less than twelve months, and already I had arrested both of those pimply-faced arseholes more times than I cared to remember. If the farmer's barn had been broken into - it was more than likely to be the handiwork of the Day brothers than the family of witches who had recently moved into the area.

  At the kitchen door, the farmer kicked the mud from his boots and stepped inside. I scraped the soles of my boots against a broken piece of paving outside the kitchen door, shook the rain from my coat, and followed him into a cosy-looking kitchen. A wide, wooden table surrounded by uncomfortable-looking chairs filled most of the small room. The floor was made of a grey stone, and around the edges of the kitchen were an array of cupboards, shelves, and a stove. The room looked cluttered with junk, just like the barn had.

  "Take a seat," the farmer said, scooping up an armful of cups and plates
from the table. He dropped them into the nearby sink, came back, and took away a pile of old newspapers. "Tea?" he asked, switching on the kettle.

  "No thanks," I said, taking my cap from my head. "I should really be getting back to the station. " I didn't want to be off duty late, as I had plans to go clubbing with my friends.

  "What about my barn door? Are you gonna go and arrest those witches?" he huffed.

  "I won't be arresting anyone right now," I told him. "You don't know who broke your lock and neither do I just yet. " Taking my pocket notebook out, I flipped it open. "Let me take some details. "

  "Details?" the farmer asked, turning to face me with a disgruntled stare.

  "I'll need to report the criminal damage so you can get a crime number to pass onto your insurance. . . " I started.

  "I haven't got time to sit here all day talking to you," he said, rubbing his huge, dirty hands together. "I've got work to do. "

  What I suspected he really meant to say was, he was too freaking dumb to read or write.

  "If you don't want to report it then that's fine," I said, pushing back from the table.

  "Sit back down," the farmer grunted, flapping one of his giant hands at me. In a deep, booming voice, which seemed to rattle the windows in their frames, he shouted, "Michael! Michael! Come and speak with this police officer, will you?"

  From deep within the farmhouse, I heard the sound of heavy footfalls descending from above. I looked back at the door to see a guy of about thirty enter the kitchen. This guy was stocky, with a well-built body. I could have practically climbed the humpty-bumps of his six-pack, which were plainly visible beneath the tight white T-Shirt he was wearing. I didn't know what relation he was to the farmer, but knowing my luck, it was probably his younger gay lover.

  "This here is my son," the farmer said. "He'll tell you everything you need to know. "

  I looked at the farmer then back at his son. Other than the muscular forearms, there was no other similarity, thank Christ. Unlike the other guys I had fooled about with in the past, Michael was older and had an air of confidence - maturity - which the others hadn't always had. He had unruly, curly black hair, which draped across his brow and around his neck like a bunch of springs. He was unshaven, but not so much that he had a beard - just a shadow of black bristles - and I couldn't help but get a tingling sensation as I quickly imagined what they would feel like against my skin. His eyes were a pale green, and his complexion was bright and ruddy, I guessed due to all the hours spent working the fields in bad weather. He wore a pair of scruffy jeans, and his feet were bare. He knew I was looking at him with more than a casual stare. I looked away, not before I saw his eyes twinkle mischievously back at me.

  "Officer," he said, coming towards me, holding out his hand.

  "Constable Sydney Hart," I smiled back at him.

  He shook my hand, his fingers strong and rough as they enclosed around my fist. At first I wasn't sure if it was my imagination, but Michael held my hand just a fraction longer than perhaps was necessary.

  "Constable," he smiled, releasing my hand. "Pleased to meet you. "

  "She needs a statement or summin'," the farmer cut in. "I don't have the time. If I'd known calling you out was going to cause so much trouble, I wouldn't 'ave bothered. "

  "It's no trouble," I said, looking back at him, and as I turned my head, I could see that his son was now studying me. It was like his eyes were boring through my uniform, as if I were standing in the dimly-lit kitchen naked. It didn't make me feel uncomfortable - I was used to it. With my blond hair, full lips, and petite figure, I had grown used to men staring googly-eyed at me, or practically tripping over their tongues as they turned their heads to take a second look. It was just men - it's what they did. Since joining the police force, I had only to turn up at a drunken stag night to have groups of pissed-up men holding out their wrists and begging me to arrest them. The only date I would've given them was with the custody officer when they sobered up the following morning.

  Turning to look at the farmer, I said, "It's just that I have to take a few details so I can file a report. . . "

  "Well, my son can tell you all you need to know," he moaned, heading towards the back door and pulling it open. "It was Michael who found the busted lock. " Then he was gone, heading back out across the fields to do whatever it was he so urgently needed to attend to. I kind of got the impression that if I had been up for storming over to the witches' place, as he had called them, he would've taken a little more interest in the crime reporting process. But as there obviously wasn't going to be any lynch mob forming today, the farmer had lost interest.

  "Take no notice of my father," Michael suddenly said. "He can be a miserable old sod at times. "

  I turned around to discover Michael had moved from the kitchen door and was now leaning back against the sink, his thick arms folded across his chest.

  "Aren't you a little bit young?" he said.

  "What do you mean?" I quizzed him.

  "To be a copper, I mean," he half-smiled.

  I couldn't be sure if he was being patronizing, teasing me, or just flirting.

  "I'm old enough," I said with a stare.

  "For what?" he grinned.

  "For all sorts of things," I smiled back.

  There was a pause as we eyed each other across the kitchen. Feeling uncomfortable for the first time since I had laid eyes on Michael, I took out my pocket notebook, and said, "If you just tell me what happened, I can write up my notes. "

  "So how old are you?" he asked, ignoring my question, not wanting to leave the previous topic.

  "Twenty," I said, my eyes still fixed on my notebook.

  "Legal then?" he pushed, and I knew even without looking up at him that he was smiling.

  "Legal for what?" I played along.

  "To handle a weapon," he laughed.

  "I don't carry a gun," I said, looking up at him, to see a boyish grin stretched across his face.

  "That's not what I meant," he said.

  "Are you always like this?" I smiled, closing my notebook.

  "Like what?" he said, unfolding his arms and stepping away from the sink and coming across the kitchen towards me.

  I looked back down at my notebook, my heart speeding up and mouth turning dust-dry. I didn't usually feel like this in the presence of a guy. It was me who usually shot back the cute one-liners as I stood before them, brimming with a confidence that most considered to be bordering on arrogance. So to claw back some ground, and not wishing to come across like some inexperienced schoolgirl, I said, "Why are you being so full on?"

  "I'm just being friendly - that's all," he shrugged just inches from me.

  I reopened my notebook wrote his name, my usually neat handwriting looking now like a spidery scrawl.

  "Do you want my number to go with that?" he asked.

  "I think I've got your number," I said with a wry smile.

  "What else would you like to know about me?" he said, taking another step closer.

  Michael came to stand behind me, but just an inch too close. From where he stood, I could smell the shower gel he'd used on his body and the shampoo he had washed through his untidy hair. My heart started to race faster, and I knew I needed to take back some ground - after all, I was the one in authority here - wasn't I?

  "Please step away," I asked, turning to meet his stare.

  "Why?" he said, as if completely clueless as to what he was doing.

  "Because I'm meant to be working here," I shot back.

  With his eyes almost seeming to sparkle, he continued to stare at me for what seemed like the longest time. Slowly, Michael stepped back from me and said, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, officer. "

  "That's okay," I murmured, feeling as if I could breathe again - as if I was back in control.

  Turning to face me, he said, "Look, I'm really busy right now. . . "

  "Busy doing what?" I
sighed, just wanting to take down as much information as I could to complete the crime report back at the station.

  "Why don't you come back another time?" Michael suggested, heading towards the back door.

  "Like when?" I asked, knowing now for sure that he was messing with me and enjoying it. Deep inside me, there was a part that liked the fact he was doing this. It kind of turned me on.

  "How about Wednesday, officer?" he said, opening the back door for me. "I'm free all day. "

  I mentally scrolled through my shift pattern and knew I was on a middle shift on Wednesday - two 'til ten. "I could make the report out right now. . . " I started.

  "Wednesday will be good," Michael smiled back at me, the door still wide open and the sound of the rain beating against the saturated ground outside.

  Raising the collar of my coat about my neck, and placing my cap on my head, I stepped out into the rain. I looked back again, but Michael had already shut the door. I hurried down the path, dodging the puddles as best I could, and climbed into my patrol car. Inside I sat and listened to the sound of the heavy rain drumming off the roof above me as it beat in time with my racing heart. I looked back at the farmhouse in the distance and pictured Michael in his spray-on tight T-shirt and scruffy jeans. With that picture of him at the forefront of my mind, I started the engine and drove the patrol car down the lane.

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