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Story Title: Prettyboy

Type of story: long fic

Main Characters: Ric Dalby and his friend Cindy

BTTB rating: T/A

Genre: Drama/Angst

Does story include spoilers: No

Any warnings: V/D L DR

Summary: Prettyboy is about Ric and his life before Summer Bay. After a normal childhood a tragic incident changes Ric's life, and to get away from his problems and tough life he starts hanging out with some rather questionable people.

The only person he trusts is Cindy, a teenage girl who lives on the street and deals drugs. She takes care of him and helps him with all the challenges he meet in this new way of life, but even with help from Cindy life isn't easy on the street.

I started writing this fic some time ago, or I got the idea some time ago and put it on paper a few weeks ago to be honest :P

This is a fic about Ric's life before he came to Summer Bay, and I'm basically trying to find out what made him who he was (and who he was in my now completed fic "Dark tunnels") by digging into his past.

This fic is rated T/A as it will deal with violence, death, possibly coarse and swear language and drugs/alcohol.

Hope you like it :)

Chapter 1

The coke was cheap.

If the stories were true some guy down at the dock in Yabbie Creek had a nephew who worked for a airline company, and he had helped him smuggle out a load of stash from Indonesia. The guy got shot two days later because someone realised it was a good way to make money, selling his stuff. Unfortunately it all went wrong, and more than just a few people got their hands on the stuff, so now it was all around the district, and it was cheap.

”Hey, prettyboy!”

”Aren’t you a bit too pretty to be hanging around here?”

”Shouldn’t you stay at home with your parents and go to private school?”

He was used to all the comments after hanging around the dark alleys and backstreets with the people lower in society than the businessmen and women in the city.

Cindy put out her cigarette.

”I got my hands on some stuff yesterday,” she said, already lighting up another cigarette. She saw his look and offered him one from the pack. He grabbed one and lit it with her green plastic lighter.

”You know you owe me cigarettes and booze for a year?” she said, smiling in her own tired and rough way.

”Shut up, you know I can’t get any of that stuff. They keep asking for ID. I don’t get how you can get them to sell you stuff without asking for ID.”

Cindy laughed.

”I’m not a prettyboy,” she said, ”I look like I live on the street, you just look like a pretty boy who got into a fight with some froggie exchange student in private school.”

He didn’t want to continue this conversation.

”So what are you planning to do with the stash?” he said, ”Use it all?”

Cindy shook her head and took a deep drag, causing a dry coughing because of all the smoke suddenly filling her lungs.

”I don’t use coke,” she said, ”Too strong if you wanna stay sharp.”

”What’s in it for anyone to stay sharp?” he grunted back. Cindy shrugged and took another deep drag.

”You gotta stay sharp if you wanna survive out here, prettyboy.”

”What about the junkies?”

She laughed.

”The cops catch the junkies, prettyboy. They get them at night with the prostitutes, and they take them away, pretending they never existed.”

She always sounded so dramatic when she was talking about the stuff he didn’t know anything about, and he never knew whether to believe her stories or not.

”So what are you doing with it then?” he asked, putting out the half-smoked cigarette.

”Hey! Don’t throw that away!” Cindy said, pointing at the cigarette.

”Smoke isn’t cheap, and this isn’t exactly Wisteria lane.”

He gave her the cigarette back and she put it back in the box.

”What are you doing with the coke?” he repeated.

Cindy smiled again.

”I have a deal for you,” she said, ”You stay with me and look after me no matter what for the next six months, and I’ll give you fifty percent of the money when we’re selling the stash.”

”Why would you need anyone to look after you?” he asked, immediately suspicious.

”Dealing isn’t exactly a kids game, and if those blokes down at the dock decides to take my stash from me I won’t be able to fight back. I’m just a girl, remember?”

He didn’t know what to say. Deals like that could be dangerous, and leaving Cindy alone wasn’t really an option he liked. She’d helped him out a lot since he started hanging around in this area.

”Do we have a deal, prettyboy?” She asked, when he didn’t say anything.

’Prettyboy’ bit his lip before holding out his hand to her.

”Deal,” he said.


”Ricky? Ricky, where are you?”

”I’m here, mommy! Don’t leave without me!”

Charlene ’Charlie’ Dalby turned around and smiled at her son.

”Of course I won’t leave without you, Ricky!”

Eric Dalby hadn’t missed out on a single Friday grocery shopping with his mother in four months. He loved the shops.

While mommy was picking out food for them and daddy he could wander around among the shelves and look at all the amazing stuff they had there.

Chocolate and cartoonbooks, toffee and lollies, pizza and cake. He loved pizza and cake!

After the shopping he might even get an ice cream if he was lucky, and then his favourite part of the week came.

Because daddy worked in the City and had to do very important things with numbers and papers all day long they never ate dinner together, but on Friday daddy’s boss had told him he could get off a bit earlier so he could go home and be with mommy and Ricky.

Then they would eat a nice dinner, and mommy and daddy would be in a really good mood. After dinner they would all help mommy cleaning the kitchen, and then they would go watch tellie together. Sometimes daddy even read him a bedtime story before he went to sleep.

Saturday morning daddy would be working again, and on Sunday he was going fishing with his friends, and didn’t have time for Ricky and mommy.

Ricky loved his daddy, so every Saturday he was looking forward to Friday again when daddy would be home with them and everything would be fun and nice.


Deals like the one he had just agreed to was dangerous, but necessary.

If he didn’t help Cindy he couldn’t count on her help either. And without Cindy’s help he was in big trouble.

”You know I could have gotten attacked on Queen’s street today,” Cindy said, putting down the old newspaper she had been claiming to read even though Dalby wasn’t sure if she really could read, ”Where were you to look after me?”

Dalby laughed.

”Queen’s street?” he looked at her, ”What was I supposed to protect you from there?”

Cindy raised her eyebrows.

”There are hobos on Queen’s street too, you know. They buy drugs!” she said.

”Yeah, prostitutes,” Dalby replied, ”I think you can defend yourself down there. The worst thing that could ever happen down there would be one of the girls bitchslapping you!”

”Awwhh... Poor Dalby,” Cindy sighed and shook her head, ”So naive... There are pimps down there too you know.”

Dalby swallowed. He hadn’t thought about that.

”I’m sorry, I’ll look better after you next time,” he muttered.

Cindy smiled satisfied.

”Just remember you can’t trust anyone,” she said, turning more serious again.

”I have to be able to trust someone,” Dalby protested, ”I mean, I trust you!”

”Ahh, interesting,” Cindy replied, ”So you trust me huh? Why?”

The question surprised Dalby. Why would she ask anything like that?

”Well, I guess... Because...” he said, looking for a good explanation, ”The other people around here, they are criminals, right? That’s why I don’t trust them!”

Cindy tipped her head backwards and laughed her harsh and untamed laughter.

”So they are criminals? What are we?”

Dalby knew the answer to this one.

”The worst thing I have ever done is shoplift stuff and help you cover the coke,” he said without blinking.

”Wrong,” Cindy replied immediately, ”You killed your mother.”

All this anger... He didn’t kill her!!

Dalby smashed his fist in Cindy’s face.

She barely reacted, she just stared at him for a long time, showing no signs of any feelings at all.

Then she attacked.

”You still have a lot to learn, prettyboy...” Cindy said.

She was just walking slowly around him in circles. She had attacked so suddenly Dalby hadn’t even been able to defend himself properly. It hadn’t taken her more than a few seconds to get control and force hi down on the cold asphalt, gasping in pain.

”I... didn’t... Kill my... mother...!” Dalby muttered, trying not to focus on the pain.

”Of course you didn’t,” Cindy said, ”But you let me get to you. There are loads of people out there just trying to provoke you. If you let them get to you, you lose control. See what happens when you lose control? Beaten up by a girl, prettyboy...”

Dalby didn’t say anything. Of course she was right!

Cindy kept walking in circles around his beaten up body for several minutes before she suddenly stopped in front of him and held out her hand.

”Let me help you up,” she said and grabbed his hand.

Dalby took her hand and stumbled back on his feet.

”I’m sorry,” Cindy said, and it sounded like she really meant it, ”But you have to learn.”

Dalby nodded, she was right of course. Tough love, that was all.

”So I guess I just proved to you that I do worse things than shoplifting and dealing,” Cindy said when they were sitting on the stairs in front of the closed down copyshop again later, ”I can be violent too.”

She grinned, and started looking for her cigarettes.

”Yeah, but I mean, I know you,” Dalby muttered. Cindy tipped her head back and laughed again.

”You don’t know the first thing about me, prettyboy!” she growled, and picked up Dalby’s half-smoked cigarette from earlier that day.

”I know that I can trust you,” Dalby muttered, ”I mean, the crimes you commit... They’re not that bad... It’s not like you’ve ever killed anyone...”

Cindy didn’t answer, instead she just put the pack of cigarettes back in her bag and found her lighter.

”You didn’t kill anyone, did you?”

He tried not to sound as shocked as he was.

”Maybe,” Cindy replied, shrugging while lighting up the cigarette, ”maybe not...”

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Chapter 2

Owen Dalby was a respected man.

Economy manager of one of the biggest lawyer agencies in the City he was respected and admired by many.

The world saw him as a confident, strong and loving man, with a great sense of humour. No one saw the bitterness and anger he was carrying inside and hiding from the world.

It worked that way. The world didn’t see it, and as long as he focused on his career and family there was no problem hiding it.

But eventually everyone’s little fantasy world falls to pieces.

When Webster & Jones legal support was closed down, even a ”strong and confident” businessman like Owen Dalby had to face his dark reality.


”I bought us supplies,” Cindy announced, and held out a bag from the local grocery store.

”Stole, you mean?” Dalby replied, scowling at her.

Cindy sat down.

”I only stole some food,” she said, ”I had to pay for the cigarettes, those are impossible to steal.”

”So you spent all our money on cigarettes?”

”No, not all our money, you jerk!” Cindy rolled her eyes, ”Just so we have enough for a few weeks.”

”I don’t even smoke,” Dalby muttered.

Cindy opened a pack of cigarettes and found her lighter.

”Oh, no of course you don’t,” she said, ”what would the reverend and the mayor say if they smelled smoke from your silky Sunday-shirt?”

Dalby sent her a nasty look and took the cigarettes from her.

”Give me the lighter,” he muttered angrily while trying to ignore Cindy’s satisfied expression.

They had just finished one cigarette each, and there was a heavy fog of smoke in their little corner at the stairs.

”Excuse me, I’m looking for Carmelle?”

None of them had noticed the tall and dangerous looking bloke who had walked up to them.

”Who’s asking?” Cindy replied, not looking at all surprised or scared.

”Jason,” he said, not taking his steel-eyes off Cindy, ”Do you have any information on Carmelle for me?”

Cindy frowned a bit, and looked suspicious, but finally she decided to answer.

”Yes, I have information about Carmelle for you,” she said, not breaking the eye contact.

”Good, because I have information about James Cloverdale for you,” Jason replied.

Cindy brightened up as soon as she heard the name James Cloverdale.

”Oh really?” she said, struggling to hide her excitement, ”Then maybe we should go for a walk...”

Jason smiled and laughed a harsh, deep kind of laugh, not very different from the way Cindy used to laugh.

Dalby was confused. He had no idea what or who they were talking about.

”You wait here and watch our supplies, prettyboy,” Cindy said and got up, ”If you give it away, I’ll kill you.”

Dalby didn’t know whether to take this seriously or not, Cindy always said things like that. But it didn’t matter. Watching a bag of food was the easiest thing in the world.

”Who are Carmelle and James Cloverdale?” He asked, just before they walked off.

The only answer he got was a harsh, arrogant laugh from both of them.


Charlie had noticed her husband’s change since he lost his job.

He had been moody of course, but there was also something different about the way he treated Eric.

”Can we visit grandma and grandpa soon?” the little angel had asked one day. He had changed so much the last year. He was doing great in school, had loads of friends and even a little girlfriend called Katie Tyler. Charlie had seen them play together, and she had seen how Katie had kissed Eric on the cheek and made him giggle before running away, screaming and laughing ”Eeeewwww! Girls!”.

Owen hadn’t responded well to his son’s suggestion.

”We’re not visiting them, so stop nagging about it and eat your food!” he had snapped back, leaving his son with a shocked and a bit scared look on his face.

”Owen!” Charlie had said, shocked by his sudden outburst, ”There’s no need to talk like that!”

She had put her arm around Eric, and looked shocked at her husband.

”I’m... I’m sorry,” Owen had said, and sat down, looking at Eric, ”I’ll take you fishing next weekend to make it up to you.”

He always did things like that when Eric asked about visiting his grandparents. Instead of listening and agreeing, he came up with something else for them to do.

Eric knew daddy didn’t like grandma and grandpa, but he didn’t know why. Maybe they hadn’t let him play with the other kids when he was a boy?

But at least he got to visit them before daddy lost his stupid job in the stupid city.


”I can see you have taken good care of the supplies,” Cindy said and sat down, ”good prettyboy!”

She talked to him like he was a puppy that had just gone outside instead of pooping at the carpet.

”Yeah, you should be glad I bothered,” Dalby muttered back, ”The way you treated me you shouldn’t have expected it.”

”Oh no!” Cindy said, sounding shocked, ”Did I forget to say please when I asked you to fire the maid for stealing our silverware?”

Dalby spat on the ground.

”Do you really expect me to look after you when you won’t let me know anything about what you’re doing?”

Cindy rolled her eyes.

”Actually I’m making the job easier for you,” she said, ”All you do is sitting around here all day, while I’m making money, which I by the way give you 50 per cent of!”

Dalby didn’t reply, he hated it when she was right like that.

”And I was going to tell you,” Cindy continued, ”I just couldn’t in front of Jason. If he saw me telling people he have no idea who are secrets like that, then how do you expect him to trust me?”

”I don’t know,” Dalby muttered, feeling embarrassed, ”Would you mind telling me now?”

”Sure,” Cindy said, and picked a new cigarette from the box.

”The names are codes. They are all codes for drugs, and the names are often related to who they come from or where they are imported from. It’s a long story, but the point is: with the codes you can easily find out who to trust, and who you can’t trust.”

Dalby frowned, he wasn’t sure if he was following her.

”So as you probably figured out, Carmelle is a code for the coke I’m dealing, and James Cloverdale is weed,” Cindy continued.

”So, what you’re saying is that you...” Dalby began, not at all sure if he understood what she was getting at.

”I just got us weed and money for coke,” she said, smiling like Dalby had never seen her smile before.

”All right!” Dalby shouted, and made a gesture of excitement.

”Hey, hold it!” Cindy replied, ”That kind of gestures you leave at cheerleading practice, okay?”

Dalby couldn’t help laughing. Suddenly he had forgotten all about Cindy keeping secrets from him and making fun of him.

”You really got us good weed and money for the coke?” he whispered, not able to hide how happy he was.

”Absolutely,” Cindy said, ”I’m a good dealer, prettboy...”

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks! Long time, no update, but here's a new chapter!

Chapter 3

Forty-eight... Forty-nine... Fifty!

Eric Dalby sat up on his carpet, sweaty from taking fifty push-ups.

He hadn’t been able to that a month ago, but since he started doing some easy exercises every time his parents had a fight for the past month he had improved a lot.

It was the same fight over and over.

Owen spent too much time at his new job, too little time at home with his family.

Eric didn’t really care that much. His dad had never had much time for them, but it hadn’t been a problem before.

Eventually it became clear it was a problem this time. Owen slept on the couch, and the meals were a non-speaking business.

But everything remained the same, even so.

Owen worked, Charlie yelled at him, then they ate.

After the silent meal, Owen would lock himself in his office, having his afternoon drink and do some more work, before they all would go to bed, each in a separate room.

Eric didn’t worry. It had been like this once before, and he knew things would work out. His dad loved his mum, and soon they would be back together.


”F*** off, you wh***!!” Cindy shouted, throwing a bottle after the terrified girl.

A young prostitute, Dalby had seen plenty of them. They didn’t know how strong Cindy was. She looked so weak, and they had no problem trying to rob her when she wasn’t looking.

”Aren’t you supposed to look after our stuff, prettyboy?” Cindy said, and spat on the ground, ”Do you think skinny, little b****es like that will lay off our stuff if you’re sleeping?!”

”I’m sorry!” Dalby replied, getting up in fear of getting a good old kick in the nads.

”I fell asleep because you have been gone for ages!”

Cindy spat again.

”No excuse,” she said.

”Where have you been?” Dalby demanded to know, ”I can’t look after you if you keep running off like that!”

Cindy smiled evilly.

”I got us more money,” she said, ”I have been dealing with one of the most successful pimps in the city, and he gave me good money for the stash.”

Her mood had changed in the matter of a second.

”Damnit, Cindy!” Dalby exclaimed, ”Pimps?!! You could have gotten yourself raped or killed! You said it yourself, a single girl around those guys isn’t safe!”

She simply pushed him down, and crossed her arms.

”You really think you would have been able to help me out if they attacked me?” she laughed, ”You?! Listen to yourself, I just pushed you, and you fell right down!”

”I wasn’t prepared!” Dalby defended himself.

Cindy laughed again.

”Oh, sure,” she said, ”I mean, the pimps always warn you before they rape and kill people...”

Cindy’s moodswings made the fights very easy. No matter how angry she got, Dalby could always rely on her. She would be happy again within few minutes.

It happened this time too, after making fun of his stupid comment about not being prepared for the attack, she had helped him up, and soon it was all in the past.

”Anything happened while I was gone?” She asked, after they sat down on the stairs again.

”Nothing much,” Dalby shrugged, ”Just the regular street goss.”

”Ooh, tell me please, I’m dying to hear it!” Cindy laughed and lighted up a cigarette from a brand new carton.

”Some hooker got stabbed down at the dock,” Dalby said, ”A pimp was arrested, and the police is looking for a runaway woman from Queensland.”

”Yeah, I heard about that woman,” Cindy muttered, and took a deep drag, filling her lungs with smoke.

”Apparently they are trapping up the search in two weeks if they can’t find her,” Dalby said, ignoring Cindy’s smoke-choking.

”Why are they looking for her anyway?” Cindy asked, ”If she’s just a runaway I mean?”

Dalby shrugged.

”Old Rosie on the corner claims she ran away because she was charged with murder,” he said, ”But old Rosie also claims she is a reincarnated, Buddhist man.”

Cindy laughed.

”Who knows,” she said, ”For all we know she might be. You never know the people on the street...”


”Where are you going?”

Eric stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking worried at his father in the hallway.

”Why have you packed the big suitcase?”

Owen sighed and put down his luggage.

”Just a vacation,” he said, trying to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal. But Eric knew this was a big deal; Owen Dalby never went on vacations.

”Where?” he asked, unable to come up with something more sensible.

”I’m going to grandma and grandpa for a week,” he said, ”I’ll be back in six days.”

Eric swallowed. It was something about the way Owen said it that made it sound like he was never coming back.

Owen had issues with his parents because he was adopted, Eric knew that. His mother had told him after a long fight years and years ago. He could remember her crying, looking him in the eyes and tell him he always had to remember she and dad always wanted what was good for him, no matter what it seemed like.

”I’ll see you in a week,” Owen said, and picked up the suitcase again, ”Look after your mum for me.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

Chapter 4

Cindy was a lot of things.

She was strong like a wrestler, brave like a marine, and loyal like a veteran from the war.

Most people didn't know. When they saw her they saw a person living on the street. Judging by her looks she could be 13 or 30.

She was barely 5'4, and not very strong looking.

With her dark blond hair, dark, suspicious eyes and worn down clothes she was nothing to the busy business men and woman hurrying through the street to get to work but a homeless person. Probably stealing and lying, but not violent, she was too tiny and weak looking.

None of the people hurrying by a Thursday morning while judging her knew that Cindy had already beaten up a hooker today, kicked a competing drug dealer in the nads and gotten into an argument with a pimp over some weed.

And it wasn't even breakfast yet.

«Stay calm. Relax and breathe. You're not aggressive, you're in harmony with everything, and you respect everyone around you,» Cindy said calmly, «Then you attack.»

«I still don't get why you need anyone to look after you,» Dalby muttered, «You kick my ass.»

«Well,» Cindy replied, shrugging, «It's harder to beat the two of us together. Plus, you're getting stronger.»

Dalby couldn't help rolling his eyes, Cindy was still much stronger and tougher than him.

«Hey,» she continued, obviously attempting to pep-talk, «You're a guy, you have a lot more physical potential. And you also look scarier.»

«I'm gonna go get us some more food,» Dalby muttered and got up. For some reason Cindy's pep talk hadn't made him feel any better at all. When she said that about potential he had a feeling she was removing his last tiny bit of manhood, - and chewing on it.

Cindy looked at him as he walked away, a bit sunken down like he was ashamed.

She had a feeling he wouldn't keep buying her lies much longer, and that was a shame because she was a damn good liar.

He was more a drag than a help at the moment, and he knew it even though she kept pretending she wanted him to look after her.

But the part about potential was true, he could be a good fighter if he just learned the techniques.

It was also a sign of progress that he had stopped bringing food from home and instead started providing it the backstreet way. That could of course also be because Dalby's father spent all his money on liquor and didn't care much for food for his son.

Promising, that would teach Dalby that he needed to be independent, he couldn't keep relying on other people.

It was still a long way to go before Dalby was a good fighter, Cindy knew that, but right now she had nothing to lose.

She needed someone to protect her, even more every day, so she couldn't give up on him yet.

«I need you more than you could ever imagine,» Cindy muttered to herself as Dalby turned around the corner and disappeared, «Just hang in there, prettyboy.»

- - -

It wasn't the nightmare Eric had expected it to be when Owen came back. It was worse.

He had expected the usual fighting, door slamming and yelling. But instead there was silence, tension and polite conversations.

Every sentence ended with a «please» or a «thank you», and no one looked each other in the eyes.

Somehow it reminded him of a volcano; silent and dead-like, with danger and chaos right under the surface.

The fact that they didn't even argue about regular stuff like bills and money made Eric feel like a hamster trapped in a wheel. Round and round, very exhausting.

If they would just scream at each other! Run out on each other and threaten each other with divorce!

This was even worse, not because the tension and silence hurt, but because the silence made Eric absolutely sure that the explosion of the volcano was getting closer every day.

- - -

«I'm telling you, the maniac came to me in my sleep and told me I was her next victim!» Old Rosie exclaimed. Cindy and Dalby was very careful not to look at each other and burst out laughing.

«Her next victim?» Dalby asked, struggling to keep a straight face, «Is that so?»

«Yes!» Rosie replied, «They say the woman killed a man with her bare hands, who knows what she will do next?»

«But they don't really know that she's here, now do they?» Cindy suddenly said.

«Well they think so,» Rosie continued, «She ran away from Queensland a year ago, and apparently the police thinks she's here among us!»

Cindy shook her head and rolled her eyes.

«Don't tell me you have actually been talking to the police about this woman,» she said, «You know they're out to get us, all of us!»

«I just want to be safe, that's all!» Old Rosie said, sounding almost offended by Cindy's lack of believe in her ability to save the street from a maniac killer from Queensland.

«Well, I'm not gonna worry,» Cindy said and leaned back, «I have prettyboy here to look after me if anything happens.»

«Don't say I warned you,» Rosie muttered and climbed slowly down the few steps to the pavement, «If that crazy Catherine Lowell is among us, this life might be over for all of us...!»

Dalby had gone home for the night. Sometimes he slept out here on the street, but to make the transfer to the life as a street fighter easier Cindy had asked him to go home tonight, she could manage on her own.

She tried to look like she was sleeping, covering most of her face in the shadows of her hood as someone came closer to her in the dark.

«Cindy, I talked to Al,» the person said, and Cindy took off her hood.

«Oh, hi Curtis,» she said, «I didn't know that was you.»

Curtis sat down next to her.

«How are you doing?» he asked, and lighted up a cigarette.

«You're from Hobart, right?» Cindy asked, without answering his question. Curtis nodded.


«Tell me everything about it,» Cindy said simply

Confused and afraid of what Cindy would do if he didn't obey, Curtis started talking. He didn't want to risk anything, even though it could also be risky giving Cindy information about something she probably wouldn't have any interest in unless it was related to a crime.

Because Cindy was a lot of things.

She was strong, brave and loyal.

But she could also be sneaky, manipulative and a liar.

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  • 1 month later...

Aughhh, I have been abandoning all my fics for far too long, so I totally understand if I have lost all my readers.

All I can say in my defence is that I've been in a writer's block. Seems that all I needed for some inspiration was some jogging (amazing how running, all alone with the music by the river and the highway for a few kilometers can give you the inspiration to write), so here's FINALLY an update!

Chapter 5

I had been bound to happen sooner or later.

But according to Cindy he had been lucky, and as she also so sweetly pointed out; he would have ”loads of experience from his nice family life”.

Dalby didn’t really know what to say to that, to be honest he didn’t really think you ever got used to being bashed.

But Cindy somehow seemed more blissful than Dalby had ever seen her, like she had been waiting for something bad to happen to him so she could take advantage of the situation.

Unfortunately Eric Dalby had no idea how right he was, thinking this.

The volcano didn’t explode.

Almost a year went by, and there was no huge explosion, leaving a lives buried and burning to ashes.

The arguments were few, short and never got off the subject. And they always made up.

But at the same time, they always made up with the same tired, yet tense smiles and attempts to keep the once so happy family together.

As he had gotten older Eric had found himself worrying a lot more about it.

The way they went on, pretending everything was okay was disturbing and creepy.

On one level Eric just wanted them to get a divorce, because he knew there was only one reason why they stayed together.

”She’s gettin’ closer! She’s gettin’ closer!”

Cindy put out her cigarette on the pavement and raised an eyebrow, watching Old Rosie standing at the corner shouting.

It was one of her screaming days, she had them every once in a while.

Days when she didn’t hear or see anyone, she just stood there screaming about everything.

Today the topic of course was Catherine Lowell.

”I’m guessing someone had a bad trip this morning,” Dalby muttered, shaking his head. This was one of the weird things about hanging out with Cindy; you got used to talking about drugs like it was the laundry, and older women standing at the corner, screaming bloody murder (and in Rosie’s case, literally screaming ’bloody murder’) no longer made you turn around to see what was going on.

But Cindy wasn’t herself today.

She seemed distant, and maybe even a bit nervous. There was something suddenly older and more serious about her, Dalby just couldn’t point out exactly what it was.

”Are you okay?” he asked nervously when she didn’t reply to his comment about Old Rosie.

Cindy didn’t say anything at first, she just took a deep drag of the cigarette, bringing clouds of dark smoke deep down her lungs.

”Yeah, I’m fine,” she muttered silently, ”just fine.”

Dalby swallowed, absolutely certain something was wrong now.

Cindy was never ’just fine’.

Running away. He hadn’t done it since he was four and was told he couldn’t have ice cream until after he had picked up his toys from the kitchen floor.

Actually he hadn’t done it this time either, he just didn’t tell them he would go to Yabbie Creek.

Marissa, the cute girl he sat next to in school had asked him to come to her cousin’s party.

Marissa’s cousin was 17, and they drank.

Dalby had seen how his father had become distant and weird because of alcohol when he was down, but still he drank with the others. Wouldn’t seem boring in front of Marissa.

The party got broken up around midnight, and Owen had to come pick him up.

He didn’t say a word on the way home.

The next day they had told him they were disappointed. Not angry, disappointed.

It was the same as the day he had come home with his grades, failing three classes because the tension at home made him unable to sleep at night.

They had been disappointed.

And the time he had been caught cheating on a test, and the school had involved his parents.

They hadn’t been angry.

Like always they were disappointed, and like always there was no explosion.

Dalby had spent the night home.

Earlier the warm showers, proper food and nice beds had been a nice treat after nights on the street. But now...

All he could think about was the last thing Cindy had said before he went home last night.

She had been smoking her twentieth cigarette of the day, - and that was five more than usual – and staring at nothing in the middle of nowhere.

”I’m leaving now,” he had said silently, still kind of nervous.

”Okay,” Cindy had replied, not looking at him, ”Have a good night.”

”You could come with me you know,” he had invited, ”My dad wouldn’t notice.”

She hadn’t even answered the question.

”I have something for you to think about,” she had said instead, ”And you really need to think about this for a few days, because this is very important, and I don’t want any questions tonight.”


Cindy had turned away from him again, after looking at him while saying the last sentence.

”How does Tassie sound?” she had asked, lighting her twentyfirst cigarette.

Despite the clean shirt, smell of apple shampoo and cologne, Dalby felt like a streetguy today.

Because Cindy had asked him to run away with her to Tasmania. She hadn’t really said it, she had just asked him how Tassie sounded, and he knew what that meant.

He thought about it so hard he didn’t even notice Owen staring at him from the door.

”You going out again?” he asked, jerking Dalby back to earth from his thoughts.

”Yeah,” he muttered.

”Where are you going?” his father asked.

”None of your business,” he said, and turned to walk away. He dared to say that to his father’s face now that he was sober.

”It was your fault, you know that right?”

The words hurt when he was drunk too, but not like this.

”Yeah,” Dalby muttered, and meant it, ”I know.”

Then he opened the door and left the house.

Tassie didn’t sound so bad right now.

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Thanks for the review ILM :)

WARNING: This chapter contains some violence. Nothing extreme, but if you're easily offended you might not want to read any further.

Chapter 6

Judging from the look on Cindy’s face something major was going on.

”Are you absolutely sure?” she said, ”Because I can’t have you backing out.”

Dalby swallowed and nodded.

”But how are we gonna afford two plane tickets?” he asked, ”And do you even have a passport?”

Cindy laughed, but for the first time the laughter was rather nervous.

”We have to get on a boat,” she said, ”Can’t travel by plane.”

”Why not?” Dalby asked, ”Why can’t we travel by plane when we can travel by boat?”

Cindy took a quick look around to make sure no one was listening.

”I don’t have a passport,” she said.

”When will we have enough money?” Dalby continued.

Cindy shrugged.

”Maybe a month from now,” she said, ”But only if I can get my hand on more stash, I made a deal with a hooker about the last coke this morning.”

”We still have the weed though, haven’t we?” Dalby asked.

”Yeah, I’ve counted that in,” Cindy said, ”We have to sell it all.”

The last trunk was in the car, and they were all set to go.

On one hand Eric was looking forward to the trip, but on the other hand he wished everyone could just stop pretending everything was okay.

They were going down south to Melbourne for two weeks, it had been planned since Christmas.

Because of Owen and Charlie’s hard work they hardly ever left home for more than a day or two at the time, but over Christmas dinner Charlie had put her foot down.

Eric was getting older, and he was already isolated enough. He was starting high school soon, and Charlie didn’t want the kids to think any less of Eric just because he never went anywhere.

Secretly she was worried about him. He didn’t have many friends, and Charlie was worried it was her fault. The feeling of failing as a mother was enough to put her foot down against her husband, and let go of the perfect family picture for one small fight over the subject.

Afterwards everything was back to normal, and Charlie got her way.

”Hey, wait! I wanna take a picture of us!” Charlie shouted as Owen got into the car.

He got out again, and willingly they lined up in front of the car.

”All right! Going away as a family!” Charlie laughed happily, and placed the camera on the fence, as the tripod was packed in the car.

She pressed the button, and just managed to get over to them before the camera shot the photo.

A photo of three people who still wanted to believe in saving the family.

Dalby had covered his head in the hood. The shadows from the huge hood almost hid his face as well, which was a good thing.

Cindy was more nervous than ever, and didn’t want to deliver the coke. Plus, as she said, this was a useful experience for Dalby, and his first step on the way to learn how to deal drugs himself.

Even though it was chilly and slightly raining, the hookers were out, ready to do their work.

He walked up to a random one, clutching the bag of dope in his fist down in his pocket.

”Can you tell me where to find Jacklyn?” he muttered to the tall, cheap looking woman.

He couldn’t help noticing the bruises om her neck, and her black eye. It was obvious she had tried to hide it with make up, but it wasn’t very successful.

”No, sorry,” she said, and Dalby noticed a shivering in her voice when she said it.

”Is she off duty?” he asked, even though Cindy had said she would be here working right now, ”Or maybe she has a customer?”

The hooker shook her head, looking scared, while she slowly started to back away from him.

”Aren’t there usually more hookers here at this time of the day?” Dalby asked, suddenly realising there was only a few hookers around.

The girl didn’t answer, she just stared at him, terrified.

It was like he heard Cindy’s voice in his head.

”If people are scared of you, you have to take advantage of that,” it said, ”Use your power!”

This girl had obviously been beaten up. Maybe it was her pimp, or some customer?

And the way she looked at him... Maybe it was someone who looked like him, and now he reminded her om him? Those bruises on her neck definitely wasn’t hickeys...

Without really thinking Dalby made one quick move, forcing the girl backwards, pushing her hard into the brick wall and holding her there.

”Tell me what’s going on,” he whispered in a dangerous voice, pressing her up against the wall.

She looked at him, and he had never seen anything this scared in his life. Her eyes were filled with tears, but he had a feeling she was too scared to cry.

She wasn’t that tall, but the entire, skinny body was shaking unstoppable.

”The-There was a r-r-razzia,” she gasped, staring at him, terrified, ”The police... They took her pimp... some weeks a-ago, ah-ah-and...”

He loosened the grip a little, but she still stayed as close to the wall as possible, not allowing herself to seem less trapped.

”What?” Dalby said, realising how hard he had pushed her against the wall, ”What happened?”

”He... He came ba-ack and... took-took her aw-away...!”

He completely let go of her, and without taking her eyes off him she slowly started rubbing the shoulder he had been holding.

”That’s all I know, I swear!” she cried, and tears were running down her face now.

”Okay,” Dalby muttered, ”You can go.”

She didn’t move, just stood there, petrified.

Dalby slowly walked away from her, it was starting to get to him, how much he had scared her.

When he turned around and started to walk away he could hear her run away.

The sound or sobbing and heels running on the pavement and into a dark, hidden alley brought back the image of her face when he pushed her up against the wall.

This image, along with the sound of heavy raindrops staring to fall, brought back a familiar feeling.

He had barely felt it since he started hanging out with Cindy instead of staying in the house for constant reminders from Owen, but it was definitely back.

The biting, painfully familiar feeling of guilt.

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WARNING: This chapter contains some violence.

Chapter 7

From she was very young Cindy had learned to expect that when something good came along, something bad was usually just around the corner.

When she was five, her mother told her she was a big girl, and only two weeks later she told her she was having a baby. As soon as the baby was born she took up all of mom's time, and Cindy realised being a big girl wasn't fun.

When she was thirteen she was asked to a school dance by a cute boy, but at the night of the dance he made out with her best friend.

When she was 16 her boyfriend told her he would be there for her no matter what, but a month later it turned out all to be a lie when Cindy told him she thought she was pregnant.

When she took the test and found out she wasn't pregnant after all, her boyfriend had moved on, her mother had a new man in her life, and Cindy found out it was time to run away.

Ever since they had gotten their hands on the coke, everything had gone pretty well. But of course it was all the same, bad things coming along. Just this time she wouldn't wait eleven years to run away.

Jacklyn had been a desperate junkie, looking for something to give her her daily satisfaction. That was the only reason why she had been willing to deal coke with Cindy.

Over the last two weeks people had dropped dead like flies in the area, and even more ended up in hospital after buying and using some of the stash out on the market. They all claimed it was coke, and it was cheap, but the stuff wasn't as good as the dealers claimed, and the police was doing everything they could to track down the source of the bad coke.

With cops all over the place no one was keen on dealing coke these days, and the people willing to do it in spite of the cops was too afraid of the consequences. So everyone switched to other drugs, and Cindy suddenly found herself in a very hard spot when it came to surviving.

She had the money she needed to survive, she just wouldn't use them. Every day she kept telling herself to hold on. Just a few more weeks and they could run away...

Everyone was awfully quiet. The only one to speak was Owen, when he questioned Charlie's driving.

Charlie wasn't the warm, happy woman she had been when they left, now she was tense and silent.

"Watch out for that car," Owen muttered, commenting his wife's driving for the sixth time in fifteen minutes, "Stay to the left."

"I know how to drive," Charlie replied, not taking her eyes off the road for a second.

"I know, I just wanted to make sure you saw it."

Charlie still didn't take her eyes off the road.

"I'm not blind, Owen," she said calmly, "And the traffic isn't that bad."

Owen didn't reply, he just kept observing his wife's every single move.

He didn't say anything for a long time, not until the traffic got worse, then he opened his mouth again.

"I can see the motorbike," Charlie said before her husband got the chance to say anything.

"Oh," Owen replied, surprised, "Okay then."

"Eric, you're being quiet," she said, ending the conversation with Owen, "You wanna play a game?"

Eric didn't reply.

"How about 20 questions?" Owen asked.

Eric didn't want to play 20 questions. He didn't want to play any game at all!

"Stop it," he said, surprising both his parents and himself, "Just stop it!"

Enjoying the feeling of a soft bed to the very last second, Cindy turned around and sat up.

Dalby was already out of bed, getting dressed.

Normally she would have refused to take the offer he gave her about staying at his house for the night, but the cops had been awfully nosy lately, so she hadn't had much of a choice.

"Did you sleep well?" Dalby asked, and he actually smiled at her when he turned around. He almost never smiled to her, it was a shame because he had a pretty smile, she thought.

Maybe he smiled because he was happier here than on the street?

"Yeah," she replied to his question, "And I've thought of a way to get more money."


"I'm selling the weed."

Dalby stared at her.

"Are you sure you wanna do that?" he asked. Cindy nodded.

"I don't have a choice," she muttered.

"And what are you doing about the coke?" he asked, and she noticed that the smile was far gone.

"I don't know," she said, "I guess I will have to keep trying to sell it."

They didn't say much after that. Only a few quick words over breakfast before they got ready to leave the house. Cindy had been careful and done everything Dalby had told her to, so if they were lucky Owen would never have to know anything.

Except for one thing; he would come home to realise a vase he never could throw away, and secretly thank the person that had taken it.

Removed from the shelf was a seventeen year old vase he and Charlie had gotten for their wedding.


He froze for a second, couldn't believe it.

"Catherine?" whispered to himself, trying to figure out whether to keep walking or to turn around.

"Oscar, wait!" she shouted again, and he had no choice but to stop.

"Catherine!" he said, trying to sound happy, "It's been so long!"

She smiled at him. She was changed, but at the same time she was still the same.

"I know," she said, sounding surprisingly happy to see him, "You wanna grab a coffee and catch up?"

Oscar swallowed, trying to come up with an excuse.

"Sure," he said, "I'd love to catch up."

The door closed behind them, and they had to take a moment to let their eyes get used to the darkness again.

"So you have to go now?" he asked.

Catherine nodded.

"Yeah," she said, "I have work tomorrow."

They walked into a darker alley, and suddenly it got a bit awkward.

"So..." he muttered, "Can I call you some time?"

"No," she replied, "I don't think so Oscar."

Even with their history the answer surprised him.

"But it was nice talking to you!"

He tried to smile, but he didn't really believe her when she said it has been nice talking to him.

"I see," he said, "but no matter what, I hope you can understand that I'm not who I used to be? I have changed a lot from back then."

Catherine smiled again, putting her hands in her pockets.

"Yeah," she said, while tightening the grip around the sharp, shiny knife in her pocket, "I understand, Oscar."

Then, with a very quick motion she drew the knife and stabbed him twice in the chest before pushing him backwards. Defenceless he fell backwards and hit his head in the concrete wall.

"I understand, Oscar," Catherine repeated silently, "But sadly I don't forgive you."

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Chapter 8

Karen Sandbourne picked up her knitting again, frowning at the headlines on the news. Yarn, coffee and disasters in the big world out there was a routine, and didn't usually affect her. But today everything was different, because a case she had thought was closed a long time ago had suddenly been in the headlines again.

"...and the family today spoke to the press for the first time," the female news presenter announced, "With their lawyer speaking on their behalf, the entire family was gathered for a press conference in Brisbane today."

The woman disappeared from the screen, and instead a short clip from the press conference was shown. A young woman in a dark jacket and skirt spoke on behalf of the emotional family behind her.

"...and the family wants anyone who can give information about their daughter to contact the police," the lawyer finished, and the screen showed the news lady again.

Karen muted the television as the woman started talking about the hunger crisis in Africa. She was getting older, and the world didn't matter that much anymore.

Slowly she reached out and grabbed the bottle of sherry.

"'The police suspects that she stays in Sydney or close to the city'," she muttered, quoting the press conference reporter from the news, "They're gonna get you, Catherine Lowell, just wait and see..."

The yelling was unbearable, but at the same time it felt like a huge weight was lifted of his shoulders.

Shouting at them how much he hated the way they pretended everything to be okay, tears running down his face and his voice breaking; somehow it felt good.

"How dare you speak to us that way?!" Owen replied angrily, waiting for his wife to back him up, but it didn't happen.

"How dare you say that we don't love each other? You unthankful-"

"I am trying my best," Charlie suddenly interrupted, sounding more hurt and disappointed than Eric had ever heard her, "And this is how you thank me?"

"You?" Owen said, "You?! What about me, I'm trying too!"

"It doesn't matter, cause you don't love each other, and I can't be thankful when I hate my life," Eric shouted, joining the argument again, "How am I supposed to be thankful for you two-"

"Charlie, watch out!"

Eric never got to finish the sentence, because for the first time on their roadtrip, Owen had something to say about Charlie's driving that wasn't completely useless.

Both panicking they grabbed the wheel and tried to maneuver the car so it wouldn't hit the bus in front of them, but again their differences made it impossible.

While Charlie tried turning to the left, Owen tried turning to the right.

The birds singing and the sound of cars driving were suddenly nothing, as a full loaded car with three people inside crashed into a yellow bus, shattering both a car and a family.


The situation on the street wasn't exactly good, Cindy no longer wanted Dalby to go home at night, it was too dangerous for her to be alone.

And no one wanted to buy coke anymore. Cindy had sold all the weed, and she was getting more desperate to get high every day.

Dalby hadn't realised it before, but Cindy seemed pretty addicted.

All over things weren't great, and Dalby hadn't even had time to think about his birthday coming up.

Not that it mattered that much, Cindy probably wouldn't care, and Owen definitely wouldn't bring it up.

But the day came anyway, and for the first time in weeks something good happened.

Cindy was already awake when Dalby woke up, she was just sitting there, smoking again.

"Good morning sunshine," she said, while Dalby tried to get rid of the dream that had haunted him ever since the incident with the hooker, "Who's a big prettyboy today?"

So she hadn't forgot.

"I guess that would be me," Dalby muttered.

"Certainly you are," Cindy continued, still with a smile and the cigarette in her hand, "I even have a present for you."

Dalby sat up, this was clearly a joke.

"Open my bag," Cindy said and took a deep drag, "In the left pocket there's a little surprise for you. Nothing much, just a little reward for being such a good prettyboy."

Dalby opened the pocket in the bag, inside was a small, shiny key.

"A bank box key?" he asked.

Cindy froze, and Dalby could tell from her expression that he had just seen something he wasn't supposed to see.

"No," she slowly said, "not the key. Try the right pocket."

Hesitating for a second, not really wanting to let the key go Dalby opened the right pocket.

"It's my favourite one," Cindy said as he pulled out the green plastic lighter, "I want you to have it."

The rest of the day went by like it usually did, and Dalby didn't dare to bring up the key until it was almost dark.

"Why do you have a bank box?" he asked, preparing to get a black eye.

Cindy bit her lip and lit another cigarette, like she always did when she was nervous.

"That's really none of your business Prettyboy," she said slowly, "But if you really want to know I will tell you."

"Of course I want to know!" He exclaimed, forgetting to keep his voice down for a second.

"Sssshhh, you moron!" Cindy whispered angrily, "It's nothing important, just a few documents."

"What kind of documents?" Dalby asked, he was not prepared to end this conversation yet.

"Letters," Cindy said, "Just letters."

"From who?"

"You're not gonna stop until you have to full story, are you?" she replied bitterly, "They're from a lot of different people," she said.

Dalby nodded slowly.

"Can I see them?" he asked.

"Yeah, when we're having pedicures and playing spin the bottle at our next slumber-party I'll read out loud for you," Cindy said sarcastically.

"I'm sorry," Dalby replied, sarcastically as well, "It was not in my place to ask."

Cindy didn't say anything for a long time, and when she finally spoke she had changed the subject.

"Can we stay at your place for the night?" she asked, "I think people have found out we have money, and I wanna put them in the bank box tomorrow. Until then I don't feel safe."

"Okay," Dalby muttered, "Sure."


The next morning Cindy was up before him again.

Even before Dalby had woken up Cindy was in the bank.

After asking the bank-man to give her some privacy, she carefully opened the box, and put in en envelope of money.

Then, quickly, she opened the paper bag she had in there, made sure all the letters were in it.

Thinking that she would have to borrow Dalby's birthday present for a while, Cindy closed and locked her bank box. Within a few hours all the letters would be destroyed, and no one would ever be able to read them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for those supporting words, here's a new chapter :)

Chapter 9

"Where have you been?"

Dalby's words hit her in the face even before she was inside the house.

"Calm down," Cindy muttered, "I went to the bank and locked in the money."

"Oh. Sorry."

"Now that's better," Cindy continued, quickly gaining her normal, sarcastic self again, "That's a good Prettyboy!"

"Will you stop talking to be like I'm your chihuahua," Dalby muttered angrily, "I'm not a Prettyboy."

"What was that, Prettyboy?"

Dalby gave up again, Cindy obviously had made up her mind about never letting go of that nickname.

"Anyway," she said, dropping her filthy bag next to a chair, "Now that the money is safe, you can stay another night here, I'll be fine."

"You're welcome to stay one more night if you'd like," Dalby said, regretting the kind way he said it right away.

"Oh, thank you, Thee, but I shall not spend another night in Thy silky sheets!"

She laughed.

"Okay," Dalby muttered, ignoring Cindy's making fun of him, "Are you sure?"

Cindy nodded.

"You stay here and get some sleep, Prettyboy," she said and took a slice of the bacon he had made for her, "I'll take care of the business."



Owen hadn't said a word to him since the nurse had told them the bad news.

"I'm so sorry," she had said, looking like she really meant it, "We did everything we could, but the major headinjuries..."

Eric didn't need to hear the rest of it, he knew.

Mom was dead. Gone.

If they only had been a happy family, if they hadn't started fighting...

Owen hadn't even put his arm around him, or said it was okay to cry. So Eric didn't cry.

He wanted to be angry because his father couldn't show him a little love now that it really mattered, but there was no room for anger in his heart, it was all filled with emptiness.

A young, female police officer waited for them at the police station.

"So sorry for your loss," she said silently and shook their hands as they sat down. Eric was surprised, for being such a tiny woman she had a surprisingly firm handshake.

"I'm Pia Correlli, and I'm just here to take your statements about the accidents," she said, gathering her dark hair in a ponytail, "It's nothing to worry about, just procedure."

It was all just procedure.

The nurse telling them Charlie had died; the doctor explaining the headinjuries; Pia Correlli taking their statements...

It was not like it mattered to any of them. But it should have mattered to Owen, Eric thought to himself, it should be possible to stand together in this instead of shutting him out and leaving him alone.

As soon as Owen was done giving his statement they could go home.

They didn't say a word to each other in the car home, and except Owen thanking the officer for the ride, no one said a word when they got out of the car either.

It wasn't until they got inside he finally spoke to his son.

"You know, if it wasn't for the argument you started..." he began.

He didn't need to finish the sentence.

"Yeah, I know," Eric said, he couldn't bear to look at Owen, "It was my fault."


"Do you have a lighter, I seem to have lost mine," Dalby muttered with the cigarette in his mouth.

"You've lost it already?" Cindy replied, rolling her eyes while secretly clutching the green plastic lighter in her pocket.

"I'm gonna go home look for it," Dalby said and took out the cigarette, "You'll be okay, right?"

"Sure," Cindy said and smiled.

It was something weird about Cindy today. She had gone to the bank without him, her smiles actually seemed sincere, and she hadn't smoked a cigarette all day.

Reluctantly letting all this go, Dalby turned and walked away.

Left on the stairs were Cindy, fighting the urge to light up a cigarette before Dalby was out of sight.

It was harder going out without drugs day after day, but not being able to smoke all day on top of it was torture.

It had been a stupid thing to steal the lighter that early, she could have smoked all day, stolen the lighter before Dalby left and burned the letters as soon as he was gone if she hadn't been stupid enough to give up the smoking part by stealing the lighter back after breakfast. When she thought about it she could probably just have borrowed it as well, or bought a new one during the day. It was the lack of drugs making her dizzy and unable to think.

But soon it would all be over, it was just a matter of time before they could relax in Tassie, without anyone bothering them...

The lighter was gone. Dalby had looked all over the house without any luck finding it.

Unless... Maybe it had fell out of his pocket when he was eating breakfast with Cindy this morning.

He crawled under the kitchen table to look for it there.

The lighter wasn't there, but a plastic bag full of letters was.

It had probably fell out of Cindy's bag this morning, Dalby though to himself, it was probably the private letters Cindy had kept in her bankbox.

Not questioning to respect Cindy's privacy Dalby put them in his own bag without looking at them

He was just about to leave get up and give up the search for the lighter when he saw one of the letters still under the table.

It had probably fell out of the plastic bag when the plastic bag fell out of Cindy's bag.

He grabbed it and froze.

With his heart beating fast, Dalby looked at the envelope before slowly finding the plastic bag again to look at the envelopes.

Literally holding his breath he opened the bag and looked at the letters in front of him as if they were about to explode.

Eric Dalby slowly spread all the letters on the table to look at them all at the same time. They were all addressed with the same, beautiful handwriting, and they were all addressed to Catherine Lowell.

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Thank you :)

Chapter 10

Cindy had killed Catherine Lowell.

Why hadn't he though of it before? It all made sense of course.

No one had seen Catherine Lowell, and they all thought she had ran away, but the truth was she was dead.

Cindy had even practically admitted murdering someone, she just hadn't said who!

The letters were all a few years old, and from the brief reading he had done, they didn't seem very interesting. They were all from Catherine's mother, begging her to come home and leave her fiance. They were all addressed to the same place in Queensland, and was obviously a mother's desperate attempt to save her daughter from doing something stupid.

But why had Cindy kept them? As a trophy? No, that didn't seem like Cindy, there had to be something else, he just didn't know what yet.

Oscar was late again, he didn't even call anymore. He used to at least leave a message, telling her he'd be late at work, but lately he had been working late so often he didn't even bother to call.

It was kind of lonely, but no way she'd go back to the family. Oscar wasn't like her mother said, he didn't cheat, he just worked really hard.

Catherine pulled away the curtain again to make sure Oscar wasn't home yet, then she grabbed the pharmacy bag and went to the bathroom.

Dalby sighed and closed his eyes. This was bad, really bad. The police was looking for Catherine Lowell, and when they found out she was dead, they would want to find the person who did this. It was pretty obvious Catherine Lowell came from a loving family, and they seemed to want to do whatever it took to find out what happened to her. That was why Cindy wanted to run away of course, she had gotten more desperate when old Rosie kept going on and on about how the police was getting closer to finding her.

There was only one detail that didn't seem to fit anywhere. Catherine Lowell was, according to the police, a suspect in the murder of Oscar Bailey, and Cindy had murdered Catherine. That didn't make any sense, why would Cindy kill Catherine?

Even though the thought didn't seem very tempting, Dalby started to realise there was only one way to get the answer. He needed to confront Cindy about her connection with Oscar Bailey.

She would have to drop out of high school. These test weren't wrong, they said it on the commercial, "As safe as going to the doctor!".

Catherine Lowell slowly sat down on the toilet, drying her eyes. She was pregnant, and she was only sixteen.

It was so cold, but at the same time it was so hot. It was like fever.

Cindy wrapped her arms around herself and rocked back and forth against the concrete wall. Where was Dalby? Maybe she should just go get a lighter herself? This was torture, that much was for sure.

She opened her bag, desperately looking for a box of matches or something else to light the cigarette with.

She had only just opened the bag when she realised something was horribly, horribly wrong; the letters were gone. She was just about to freak out when she heard a voice.

"I know your secret, Cindy," Dalby said, "Now I want you to tell me everything."

Cindy looked up, Dalby didn't look happy. It was definitely time to come clean now, if she didn't he would probably go to the police and rat on him.

"All this time you've pretended you didn't know anything about Catherine Lowell," Dalby whispered angrily, Cindy swallowed, "And you never told me the woman you killed was her?!!"

Cindy's eyes were round of shock. This was not at all what she had been expecting. He was so far away from the truth about her, yet so very close.

"I..." she began, "I didn't kill Catherine Lowell, Dalby, Catherine Lowell ran away."

"Stop lying," Dalby spat back, "You killed that woman!"

Cindy shook her head.

"I didn't," she insisted, "I didn't kill a woman."

Dalby had never been more confused.

"You better come home with me and tell me the entire story," he said, "I found the letters, you can't lie anymore!"

Cindy looked at him for a long time, but there was no other way out than telling him the truth. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all, he had proven himself trustworthy.

"Okay," she said, "I'll tell you the story, everything you wanna know."

"Good," Dalby said, "Cause I wanna know what your connection to Oscar Bailey is, he is the only piece I can't get to fit in all of this."

Cindy swallowed again.

"Well I can tell you that right away," she said, hesitating a little, "Oscar Bailey is the guy I killed."

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