Ditched

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“Mom? I was thinking about going to the fair this Saturday.”

“You know what? That sounds like fun! What time did you want to go?”

Her daughter hesitated then said, “By myself.”

“What? Honey, no. We…we always go together. We’ve gone every year since you were born. It’s a mother-daughter event. And when Daddy was alive, he went with us,” she reminded her 13-year old.

“Okay. First? I don’t remember anything before I was maybe four or five so that doesn’t count. Dad died when I was nine, so I do remember going as a family a few times until I was ten. But…I’m 13 now, Mom, and lots of girls my age go alone!”

Her mother, Lauren, knew this day was coming but kept hoping against hope it wouldn’t come this soon. It was one of many such days to come in which her baby would begin cutting the proverbial apron strings one at a time as she became her own person.

Makayla was 13—and a half—and was a very mature girl for her age and rarely asked for anything. And yet the thought of letting her go to the county fair all by herself sent chills through her mother.

Over the years, Lauren had heard one-too-many horror stories from friends with teenage daughters who’d gotten themselves into serious trouble at parties with drugs, alcohol or older boys. Then there were the ‘cop shows’ on TV in which young girls were kidnapped and worse.

As bad as those hypothetical thoughts were, there were also her own teenage years to remind her that even good girls sometimes did bad thing. Those thoughts and more simply wouldn’t allow her to let her daughter hang out with thousands of strangers scared her to death.

Beyond the obvious worries of being taken, Lauren couldn’t help but be concerned about Makayla meeting a boy there. Her daughter was not only pretty, she was ‘blooming’ early and attracting a whole lot of attention. Lauren had too, and that was just one more thing to add to her growing list of worries.

She wasn’t afraid Makayla would run off and do anything terrible, but a girl who was 13 but looked 16 was just too young to be alone with any boy for any length of time. Especially if the boy was say 15 or 16. Or even one named Noah, a cute, 14-year old neighbor boy who’d been paying much too much attention to Makayla all summer

since they moved in across the street.

Lauren shivered at the thought before answering her daughter.

Without bringing up the older boy Lauren didn’t know anything about beyond his face and name, she said in a calm, even tone, “I’d really like us to go together, honey. It’s one of the things I look forward to each year, and not going with you would…well, it just wouldn’t be the same.”

“Mom. You’re the one who always says doing something differently doesn’t mean it’s bad. Besides, you also say life is about change and how we have to adapt to it. Like losing Daddy. Well, I’m growing up. I’m changing. And you need to adapt.”

“I hate it when you throw my advice back in my face,” her mom said, feeling completely deflated.

“So can I go?” Makayla asked, a smile back on her face.

“No. Not by yourself,” her mom said just as calmly and firmly as her daughter’s smile evaporated.

“Why not?” her daughter asked with a rare intonation of pouting in her voice. “It’s not like I’m a little kid who’s gonna get snatched or something.”

Already tired of the testing, Lauren looked right at her daughter then said, “You’re meeting Noah there, aren’t you?”

When Makayla broke her stare immediately, Lauren knew.

“Honey. You’re too young to date boys.”

“We’re not…dating, Mom. No one even says that nowadays, anyway. We’re just…friends.”

“Fine. Then when you turn 14, you may ask him to come over here for dinner where the three of us can get acquainted.”

“That’s so unfair!” Makayla said, raising her voice for quite possibly the very first time in her life.

“Life isn’t fair, honey,” her mother calmly replied.

It one sense, she’d been 13 just yesterday. In another it seemed like forever since Lauren had been her daughter’s age, and at 36, maybe it had. And yet she could still clearly remember her first crush, and for that matter, every crush she’d ever had, and how ‘in love’ she’d been with every one of them. She could also remember her own mom reminding her she was too young to date and how angry she’d been at the time. But she was the mom now, and no amount of pressure was going to cause her to cave.

“What about going with Madeline?” her mom suggested as pleasantly as she could.

Madeline was Makayla’s best friend, and the two of them did virtually everything together.

“I…I don’t want to go with Madeline,” her daughter said rather snidely.

Makayla wasn’t about to tell her mother that her best friend knew she had plans to meet Noah. Madeline hadn’t met Noah in person yet, but she knew her best friend had a serious crush on some new boy, and Makayla was asking for her help.

“Just promise me you won’t tell,” she made her best friend say canlı bahis after Madeline did her best to talk her out of it. Madeline reluctantly agreed even though she thought this was a very bad idea.

The King County Fair was an annual event that took place out in the small town of Enumclaw, Washington, and was at the extreme of edge of King County where Seattle was also located. It was the biggest annual event in the town of about 10,000 people which was the gateway to Chinook Pass on Highway 410 which took travelers into the eastern half of the state after crossing the Cascade Mountains.

With the exception of going to college, Lauren had lived there all of her life, and had met and married her late husband, Carl Holly, an Enumclaw police officer, right after she graduated from Washington State University located near the Washington-Idaho border in tiny Pullman, Washington.

When she returned home, Lauren had big plans to start a career until a mutual friend convinced her to go on a blind date with a friend she promised was unbelievably handsome. And nice.

After saying ‘no’ twice, she finally gave in and agreed to a single date; a date that turned out to be life changing after resulting in a second date and then a third with the most amazing man she’d ever met.

By the fourth date she’d fallen in love with him, and when he asked her to marry him four months later, her career seemed unimportant in comparison to being Mrs. Carl Holly. Of course, that meant she was to become Lauren Holly, and had heard every possible question, joke, or comment about the beautiful actress ever since.

Lauren did look a bit like her namesake from back when she starred in Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey. Both of them were beautiful women with the Enumclaw version wearing her blonde hair to her shoulders while the Hollywood Holly had red hair that had been chin length in the movie. Both had blue eyes, perfect smiles, and very sexy bodies. Other than her pregnancy, Mrs. Carl Holly had always looked amazing, and now, at 36, still looked fantastic.

The first time she’d really had to take her own advice about adapting to whatever changes life threw one’s way came when she lost her husband and only man she’d ever loved. Carl had been killed early one morning when he was in pursuit of a car that had a ‘BOLO’ out on it.

The ‘Be On The Lookout’ had been issued for a vehicle driven by someone who’d killed a Seattle police officer the night before during an armed robbery. Carl had been on the edge of town when he saw a car fly by him from the opposite direction that matched the suspect vehicle’s description and turned around to pursue. He caught up to the speeding car and called in the license plate, and dispatch confirmed his suspicions. He lit up the lights and turned on the siren causing the vehicle to accelerate to well over 100mph.

Both vehicles were on Enumclaw’s Cemetery Road where they reached speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour as another police cruiser was sent their way to assist Officer Holly.

An elderly man in his late 80s who was nearly deaf had been to the local cemetery very early that day to pay his respects to his late wife, and never heard the siren nor did he even notice the cars as he pulled out onto the road just as the suspect’s vehicle flew on by using the empty left lane before the man’s car fully entered the right lane.

Carl’s view had been obscured until the suspect vehicle changed lanes, and by the time it did, it was too late for him to do the same. He tried to swerve to avoid hitting the car broadside, but he was going so fast it was impossible. He jammed on the brakes at the last second and plowed into the vehicle directly at the driver’s door, killing him and the elderly man instantly. The impact sent his vehicle spinning and flipping at over 90mph as it crashed back onto the pavement before going airborne again and rolling a half-dozen more times.

An autopsy revealed his neck had been broken along with several ribs and both of his legs. Lauren’s lone source of comfort had been the assurance that her husband had died instantly.

She was still haunted by the memory of the chief of police showing up with a minister from the church where she and Carl had been married. And as awful as the news was, for some reason she hadn’t gotten up that morning to make his breakfast or kiss him goodbye.

And just like that Lauren Holly was a widow with a daughter who would grow up without a father. The $50,000 policy the department had on all its officers had allowed her to get by comfortably for the better part of a year, but even fifty grand doesn’t last long when there’s a mortgage, a car payment, utility bills, and food and clothing to buy, let alone college to plan for when the surviving spouse isn’t earning any money.

So while they still had a small chuck of the money left, Lauren had gone to work just over two years ago at Mutual of Omaha just across the street from city hall.

A year ago, she finally tried dating for the first bahis siteleri time, but even another six months after that, she just wasn’t ready. Gradually, she’d tried again and then again, and had recently met someone she found both polite and possibly even charming. They’d gone out several times, but Lauren knew it wasn’t going to be anything longterm as she just didn’t have that kind of interest in him. In fact, she’d made that clear after their third date when he’d suggested it might be time to ‘take things to the next level’, something she couldn’t even contemplate. At least not with him.

He seemed undeterred when she’d told him ‘no’ politely but firmly, and now she was looking for a way to call things off without hurting his feelings. The problem was, this interesting, charming man also happened to be her boss, something Lauren knew could very well become a problem when she’d initially agreed to have dinner with him after his third request.

She was in no hurry to remarry, but now, three years later, she knew she wasn’t cut out to live life alone, but as long as she had Makayla, living alone was at least bearable. And that thought brought her back to the reality of their current ‘discussion’.

“Why don’t you want to go with Madeline?” she asked after Makayla noticed her daydreaming and said, “Um…earth to Mom?”

“Are you guys not getting along or something?”

“We’re getting along fine,” Makayla said the edge still in her voice.

“Then if you won’t go with me, why don’t you go with her?”

Makayla knew her options were narrowing, and going with Madeline wasn’t one of them. She’d either have to go with her mom and find a way to meet Noah or sneak out of the house to be with him, and it couldn’t be at his place because his parents were equally protective of their son and didn’t allow him to date at all. Neither choice was good, so if she went with her mom, there was at least a chance she could find a way to spend some time with this cute, older boy before her mom started freaking out. Once they met they could set up another meeting for somewhere they really could be alone. Or at least that’s what she hoped.

“Fine. I’ll go with you,” Makayla said with that teenage attitude showing through loud and clear.

As her tearful daughter ran upstairs Lauren realized her little girl really did remind her a whole lot of herself at that age. Still, it wasn’t her job to be Makayla’s best friend. That could come later on if and when her daughter finally realized her mother wasn’t an old fool who didn’t know anything about being young or having fun.

She had to admit the part about not having any fun was true, but that in no way lessened her responsibility as a mother. Her thoughts were rudely interrupted when Makayla slammed her bedroom door before sitting down with her laptop to tell Noah about the change of plans.

He was already on line waiting for her to send him an IM because one of his parents routinely checked his text messages, so this was their safest bet for communicating in private.

“I’ll be there at 10am, but my mom won’t get off my case, and there’s no way she’ll let me go alone. I’ll have to find a way to ditch her so we can spend some time together. Please tell me you’re not mad.”

She got an instant reply.

“No, I’m not mad at all. It’ll just be a little more difficult to be with you, that’s all. If you could go at night, we could at least hold hands.”

Makayla smiled and replied.

“I really want to hold hands with you, Noah.”

She smiled then typed, “I might even want you to kiss me.”

She added some blushing emojis then hit ‘send’.

“We can do both, Makayla! And we will. I promise.”

“See you Saturday morning, okay?”

“Yes. See you then.”

Makayla added some X’s and O’s then laid down on her bed to daydream about finally meeting her cute, new neighbor she’d only been able to talk to out in his front yard. It was August and his family had just moved in a couple of weeks earlier, so they’d be going back to school soon, and Makayla had no intention of waiting any longer.

******

“Jake. Good to see you,” the older man, who was responsible for security at the fair, said as he stuck out his hand to him and nodded to the other police officer.

The younger man shook it and said, “You too, Ken. So what’s the plan?”

“Well, you’ll be patrolling the fairgrounds on foot, so we just need you and your partner to stay on the move and keep an eye out. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just be aware for anything suspicious, and with any luck, we won’t have any serious issues again this year.”

The older man paused to see if either of the new police officers had any questions then nodded. One of them walked away, and that gave Ken the chance to talk with the other officer.

“It’s really good to see you back home, Jake. And wearing that uniform.”

Jake laughed and said, “I traded one uniform for another, but I like not being shot at a whole better.”

“Yeah, bahis şirketleri Enumclaw isn’t Baghdad, is it?” his father’s friend said with a hearty chuckle.

Jake didn’t correct him by saying Baghdad was in Iraq and that he’d served in Afghanistan. He understood what Ken meant, and he also appreciated his concern.

“No, it isn’t, and the chances of me ever needing to use my weapon in this town seem pretty slim.”

“That’s a good thing, right?”

“Yes, sir. It is indeed,” the former U.S. Marine Corps military police officer replied.

Patrolman Jake Anthony left Enumclaw a little over four years earlier in search of opportunity. He’d been a decent student, but had no real direction in his life. Without money for (or interest in) college, and having no desire to work for minimum wage around town or on one of the many local dairy farms, he visited a military recruiter, and decided on the Marine Corps after giving the Army some serious consideration.

He became an MP after boot camp then got sent to Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California, where he learned the ropes. A year later, two quotas came down for pulling security duty in Afghanistan for six months, and Jake was the first person to throw his hat in the ring.

Two months later, he and a fellow lance corporal, found themselves in Kabul providing security for the so-called green zone, working alongside Afghani security forces as well as MPs and SPs (security police) from the other services.

While he was never involved in a firefight, he’d witnessed two truck bombs exploding and saw the smoke from two others at the opposite end of the green zone during his time there, as well as several ill-aimed mortar rounds exploding a few hundred meters away. He’d been tasked to sort through the aftermath of one those explosions and saw his first dead body, or what little was left of it, a badly charred torso, from the explosion.

He returned to Miramar a few days after his six-month tour of duty, and spent the rest of his four-year enlistment in sunny Southern California hanging out on the beach and hooking up with any pretty girl who found him attractive nearly every time he had a day off. Fortunately for him, there was no shortage of beach bunnies who’d been willing to do just that.

When he returned home, he realized the only job skill he had was being a police officer, so he’d signed up for the academy as soon as he was eligible. A class was convening just five weeks later, and after completing the course with flying colors, he applied for a job in his hometown.

The city council had just approved funding for two more officers, and Jake Anthony was hired as one of them. He’d been on the force for a little over four months now, and had been assigned to work security at the fair for three of the four days it would be in town.

“So…any questions?” Ken asked him in spite of having already done so before.

“Sounds pretty routine,” Jake told him. “We’ll be here at 8 am.”

“Sounds good, Jake. Just swing by my office and touch base then you can do your thing.”

“Will do,” Jake told him.

“Hey. If you don’t mind me asking, are you dating anyone yet?”

Jake chuckled a little.

“Nah. Not really. I’ve been out with a couple of different girls, but nothing serious.”

“Well, my daughter just graduated from college, and she always thought you were a good looking guy, so…I could set you up,” the older man let him know.

She’d been in the same class as Jake in high school, and he remembered her well, as she was a very pretty girl. But Jake had been a good looking guy himself and had been dating a cheerleader at the time, so it had never happened.

“Ah, I don’t know, Ken. I’m trying to get a handle on the new job out, and I still try and hit the gym as often as I can. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for a social life, you know?”

“Okay. I get it,” Ken said with a smile. “You can’t blame me, though. Every father wants his little girl to marry a nice guy, and you’re about as good as they come.”

“I didn’t know fathers still tried to marry off their daughters,” Jake teased.

“Oh, yeah. She’s got quite the dowry, my friend,” he joked back.

“Does it include any goats?” Jake quipped as he thought about marriages in certain parts of the world where that kind of thing still mattered.

Making reference to the black and white dairy cows found all around the area, Ken chuckled then said, “No, but I can throw in a couple of Holsteins if that helps.”

Jake laughed again then said, “Well, if she’ll get up at 4am every morning and milk them then…who knows?”

Ken laughed, too, then said he’d see him on Saturday.

“Yes, sir. Eight am sharp.”

*****

Saturday morning, 9:45am

“This traffic is already insane,” Lauren said as the turn lane into the fairgrounds started a good half mile from the only road in.

They inched their way along then made a right just before the golf course. She saw a police officer she knew directing traffic, and when she got close enough Lauren rolled down her window and said, “Hey, Ross! Long time no see! And congratulations on making sergeant!”

He bent down, saw Lauren and smiled immediately.

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