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    Out of the Flames – Chapter Four

    San Francisco, the next day…

    The sun had barely risen, and the street cleaners were just finishing their nightly rounds washing away yesterday’s remnants. This was a good thing because morning couldn’t come quick enough for Bette Porter. She wanted to access certain files for a particularly risky and unsanctioned mission, and the less prying eyes, the better. A quick check of the time as she exited the elevator at 850 Bryant confirmed she was right on schedule. She estimated she’d have at least two hours before anyone else in the squad room would roll in, but she was wrong. Eric had beat her in.

    “Do you ever go home?” Bette announced as she turned the corner toward her and Eric’s desks.

    Eric peaked up from his computer terminal just long enough to reply, “I don’t have a pretty wife like you do to keep me in bed…so, no…except to catch a few winks and shower.”

    Bette hadn’t given it much thought before, but Eric led a very lonely life. He lived alone in a small apartment, only spoke of a brother who went to basketball and baseball games with him, and as far as she knew, his only friends were on the job. What a waste, she thought. He was still young, tall, fit, relatively handsome, and the kindest, most loyal man she had ever met. Definitely husband material. She wondered why he never married, but now wasn’t the time; they needed to get to work.

    She removed her outer coat and slung it over the back of her chair. “Are you in?”

    “Yeah. I gotta hand it to the gang task force; they keep good notes.”

    Bette logged onto her computer terminal, then asked, “How do you want to divide this up?”

    “I’m almost halfway through GTF, why don’t you start with vice?”

    “You got it.”

    Bette started to access the case files flagged by vice for the last 12 months. Her goal was to gather as quickly as possible the name of every snitch used by every detective in the city for the past year.

    They each knew what they were looking for, names, addresses, hangouts, and affiliations, of anyone who provided actionable intelligence on anything drug or gang-related. Each worked independently in silence, compiling their lists and making notes until they heard the elevator ding just down the hallway.

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    Comments

    1. Wow, heavy stuff once again. You had me in tears again, CN. Poor Reagan. I have no words for how devastated Bette must feel. It seems too much to handle for her to loose yet another beloved person in such a brutal way.
      I think I slowly start to understand the title of your story.
      Great chapter, CN, thanks for writing. I can’t wait for the next one.

      • kiwipit, Sorry for the tears, but an underlying theme of this story is sudden grief and how Bette finds her way out of it…out of the flames literally and metaphorically. To explore this, the circumstances have to be brutal. I know this is a difficult subject and not everyone’s cup of tea, so I’m really glad you’re giving this story a chance and staying with me on the journey.

    2. 😭😭😭 I am crying for Bette and Reagan. This is so horrible! Bette must feel devastated, agiain she had to say goodby to someone she loved so much and couldn’t save.

      I will continue to cry till the next chapter.

      CN, it was a very intense and heartbreaking chapter. You have a unique talent, the way you can pull us readers into the story and despite the heartbreak now, manage to keep us captivated till the end.

      Thank you!

      • Bibi, the accident scene in ch1 and the explosion in this chapter were very difficult to write, both technically and emotionally. I hope I did them justice and showed you the horror Bette saw and felt.

      • My dear, diehard TiBetter, Zhenya, You are a tough one, but that’s what I like about you. You don’t sugarcoat anything. Next comes the meat of the story, how Bette deals with her grief and finds her way out of it. Knowing this type of story isn’t your cup of tea, it means a lot to me that you’re sticking with this story, Hugs.

    3. I think there is some news about Avery. She seemed not to know why Bette thought she was upset and she was on the phone with someone when Bette went into the bedroom. Just a thought. Great story.

    4. Hi CN:

      Thanks for this excellent chapter, very sad but really good. So, Tina really had feelings for Bette in junior school, I suspected that.

      Just an idea, when Bette and Tina were in ‘Red’s’ and they talked about their feelings 20 years ago, I guess those feelings came back in a certain way, then the hug, then the realization for Bette that she has Avery; though at that moment Bette would never think on betraying Avery, those things grow up, those emotions, specially if they are mutual; imagine if Avery hadn’t died, it was going to be hard for Bette not to fall for the DEA agent, even if she hadn’t acted on it.

      In the crime scene, Bette just moves her hand on the small of Tina’s back, and Avery’s van passed, and already Avery was crying, I doubt it was because of the touch of Bette on Tina, too soon, too fast.

      They, Bette and Avery had a very good relationship, faithfulness wasn’t an issue between them, I think.

      I believe Avery may have been crying for other reason and didn’t want Bette to know about that, but Bette heard her saying “I can’t deal with this right now. Maybe later” and she wasn’t addressing to Bette; which is supported by the fact that Avery was surprised to see Bette at the crime scene. For me that is weird, there is something else.

      Unfortunately now Bette has a big sense of guilty that add to her former traumatic experience with her parents and to the fact that she has lost her partner and has to take care of a broken child.

      Tell me, I may be a little lost, Tina didn’t know Bette was married until the explosion and when she asked Eric, right?

      Things are very thrilling. I’ll wait eagerly for your update.

      Thanks again.

      P

      • proteonomics, You’re right about the guilt Bette felt. She’s not the type to be unfaithful with her body, she’d have the self-discipline not to. If Avery didn’t die, perhaps she would’ve had difficulty remaining faithful in her mind and heart. For a woman of principle, either would have presented an internal struggle for her.

        Good observation about Avery at the crime scene. In later chapters, we’ll find out what was bothering her.

        About Tina picking up on the married thing, I should have made it clear that she saw Bette’s wedding ring.

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