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Shadow of the Day

Guest mizziette

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Ruby and Xavier splashed around in the ocean happily against the sunset. She grabbed him by the neck and kissed him.

‘I’m glad you got me to come here. This was just what I needed; a distraction,’ Ruby smiled.

Xavier held her close. ‘The beach is always great for that.’

‘Tell me about it. It’s beautiful out here; so secluded.’ Ruby looked around. Empty untouched beach, calm blue sea and a picturesque sunset; Ruby couldn’t have asked for better.

‘I know, that’s why I brought you here,’ Xavier said. He flicked some water at Ruby and she giggled and moved away.

‘You got water in my eye,’ Ruby complained with a grin and flicked water at him too.

‘Hey,’ Xavier paddled through the ocean and chased her and grabbed her, turning her around. He planted a kiss on her lips. ‘Hey,’

‘Hey,’ Ruby whispered. She couldn’t help herself; despite everything that was happening, she was happy with Xavier. With him she could forget all her troubles.

When they got out of the water, it was a different story. As they walked towards Sergeant Watson waiting for them, she grabbed Xavier’s hand for support.

‘Ruby Buckton,’ Watson walked towards her and spoke as she placed the handcuffs. ‘You’re under arrest for the murder of Grant Bledcoe; you are not obliged to say or do anything unless you wish to do so but whatever you say or do may be used in evidence. Do you understand?’

The colour on Ruby’s cheeks had faded. She whispered with a strain. ‘Yes,’

‘What’s going on? You can’t be serious,’ Xavier snapped. ‘I’m going to call Morag.’

Ruby ducked her head as she was being pushed into the car. This was a nightmare. The journey to the station was a blur and she hadn’t even realised they’d arrived until Georgie ushered her out and into an interrogation room and finally got her hands freed.

‘I’m not talking without Morag present.’

Watson nodded and left. The wait was excruciating for Ruby. All alone in that room, all sorts of scenarios floated through her mind, none of them good. It was a relief when Morag and Watson entered nearly an hour later. At least until she realised the hard part was finally beginning.

‘Do you recognise this?’ Watson placed the evidence bag containing the branch on the table. She watched Ruby’s face lose more of its colour. ‘The blood on it matches two people. One is the victim, Grant Bledcoe and the other is you. May I see your hand?’

Ruby reluctantly placed her hand on the table. Watson saw the scab on the inner wrist. It was barely noticeable. She gently sat opposite her. ‘That scab, am I right in assuming it’s the result of a splinter from the branch while you were fighting with Grant on the beach?’

‘Ruby, I know Grant and I know what he’s like. You ran into him at the beach that night; we can confirm that. You must’ve been scared, right? Knowing him, he would’ve been very persistent with you, maybe he tried to touch you, hurt you. I don’t know. But as it stands, we’re looking at premeditated murder. We don’t know the full story. All we know is you were there with the deceased and blood was spilled. You can help yourself by talking.’

‘Ruby, you have a right not to speak if you do not wish to,’ Morag advised.

‘No, I want to.’ Ruby finally croaked out. She cleared her throat. After weeks of guilt, confusion and uncertainty, she was sick of it. She needed to cleanse her conscience.

‘How did Grant Bledcoe end up with the stab wound in the stomach?’ Watson asked.

Ruby looked at Morag who glanced at her disapprovingly. ‘I would be very careful what you reveal from now on.’

Ruby looked back at her hands in her lap. ‘He came after me. He…um…he grabbed me and I pushed him away but he just kept coming and I…the branch was just there. It was just there so I took it, I thought he’d go away but he kept coming. He took the other end and tried to get it from me and I lost my balance. I didn’t know he was hurt, I swear. He was breathing. It was dark, I tripped and let go of the branch. Grant fell back with the branch; I didn’t know it went into him.’

Morag rubbed Ruby’s back as she silently shed tears. Ruby wiped them away. ‘He was still breathing when we left, he was; he had to be.’

‘We,’ Watson repeated.

Ruby widened her eyes. ‘Yeah, um, Brax was walking along the dunes and saw Grant trying to hurt me and stepped in. He tried to help me and fell on the sand, I think, and that was when I…’

‘Did you say the dunes?’ Watson asked.

‘Is there some significance to that?’ Morag questioned.

Watson shook her head. ‘The victim’s body was found by the rock pools.’

‘So I might not have…’ Ruby asked hopefully.

‘I’ll have to look into it.’ Watson stood up. ‘In the meantime, Ruby, you still stabbed a man, we’ll need to keep you in custody until we determine the situation further. And speak with Darryl Braxton.’

‘That’s absurd. You heard the girl. It was self-defence.’ Morag spoke out.

‘The facts are, Ruby, you lied outright on numerous occasions during this investigation. That only gives the notion there’s something to hide. You’ll have to stay in lock up until bail can be arranged.’

Ruby placed her head in her hands. This was going to be a long night.

Brax stared at the ultrasound intently. He was confused. He’d assumed it was Jade but the date was dated when she was already two years old. And it was a boy. Things didn’t add up.

‘I don’t understand,’ Brax put his elbows on his knees as he sat on the couch with the early morning rays seeping through the curtains.

‘It’ll come to you,’ Charlie soothed. ‘Just think,’

Brax sat for a moment longer before shaking his head. ‘Why do you do this to me?’

‘What do I do?’

‘This,’ Brax leaned against the back of the couch exasperatedly. ‘Why are you here if you’re just here to confuse me? You’re supposed to help me but you just stand there and haunt me.’

‘Sometimes we need to help ourselves.’ Charlie replied in her usual cryptic way.

Brax groaned and stood up in annoyance and walked over to the dining table. He turned around abruptly. ‘If you’re not going to help then stop torturing me,’


‘That’s what you do, you know. Every time I see your face and hear your voice and…’ Brax touched her face as he moved closer, gentle as a feather. ‘Your touch, it all hurts because…I know I can’t have you, don’t you get it? Why are you here if you won’t help me?’

Charlie reached up to cup Brax’ face but he shook his head and grabbed her wrists, flinging them away. He turned around. ‘Don’t.’

Brax walked over to the far end of the table and grabbed the half empty beer bottle and took a huge gulp, letting the fluid burn his throat. Slamming the empty bottle on the table, he grabbed his phone and dialled. Charlie wasn’t within the vicinity when he moved to sit back on the couch.

‘Hello, crisis helpline, can I help you?’ It wasn’t Ruby’s voice.

‘Is Elsie working?’ Brax asked.

‘I’m sorry, I’m not sure if I know anyone by that name. I’m here to listen if you need to talk.’ The elderly lady on the other end smiled with her voice.

‘Are you sure she’s not there?’

‘Like I said, I don’t know. I haven’t been working here long.’

‘Thanks,’ Brax sighed.

‘Is there anything on your mind, love?’ The woman asked.

Brax shook his head. ‘Never mind, it’s nothing.’

No sooner had Brax hung up, the phone rang again. This time it was the police station.

Elle hesitated outside the police station not sure whether to go in or not. She didn’t think she had the nerve but she knew she had to enter the building eventually. It was the only way. Taking a deep breath, she walked through the door.

‘Elle,’ Elle was completely thrown off guard when Ruby hugged her desperately. ‘What’re you doing here?’

Elle examined her friend wearing the previous day’s clothes and looking a mess. ‘I could ask you the same thing. Have you been crying?’

Ruby wiped her red eyes. ‘You’d be too. Did Xavier tell you I’d be here? He’s on traffic duty; I wish he was here. I’m glad you’re here, these last twenty four hours…God, it’s such a mess. I’d hope never to spend another night in that cell but I don’t want to jinx myself.’

‘Ruby, you got arrested?’ Elle looked bewildered. ‘For his death,’

Ruby sighed and took her arm, guiding them outside. ‘Can you just take me home? I need my bed. Who knows how long I’ll be welcome to it seeing how I’m going to jail for murder.’

‘You got arrested.’ Elle repeated and gulped.

At that moment, Brax walked in through the door, looking surprised to see Ruby there. ‘Ruby, what’s going on?’

‘Mr Braxton, glad you could make it.’ Watson greeted him. ‘If you could go through to the interview room,’

‘Ruby,’ Brax turned back and they exchanged eye contact before Brax was coaxed into the room. Ruby sighed and left the police station.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey, I know it's been so long but I've been so busy lately just haven't had time to write and I've still got a lot of study to go. Things won't really die down for a while but I'll try to squeeze a couple in.


Xavier walked through the hall slowly, his footsteps the only sound echoing against the grim white walls. He was on his way out of the police station after a hard double shift and wanted to be home to comfort Ruby.

‘Xavier,’ He halted at the sound of his name and turned to see Brax in the cell to his left. The poor man looked grim after his arrest. ‘Do you know what’s going to happen to Ruby?’

‘I haven’t talked to her. I’ve been working.’ Xavier took a step to walk away but halted and sighed determinedly. ‘But given how your interview went, I can’t imagine they’ll go after her. I listened in on your interview with Sergeant Watson from behind the glass partition.’

‘She twisted my words.’ Brax grumbled with his hands on his knees.

‘You let Ruby get arrested for something she didn’t do.’ Xavier could feel the anger building. ‘You walked her home and you went back and finished the job on Grant. Isn’t that what you do, take care of things? Why can’t you just admit it and save her the heartache.’

‘If I did kill that…look, if I did, I would never let Ruby go down for this. Never; and I wouldn’t be stupid enough to do something like this and risk Jade.’

‘You just got arrested for murder. I think you already risked her. What would Charlie think if she were here?’

‘She’s fine with it. She understands.’ Brax looked to the wall to his right where Charlie leant against but Xavier saw nothing.

‘I highly doubt she’d understand the chaos you’ve brought upon her only children.’ Xavier spat. ‘If I were you, I’d set this right and start telling the truth for once.’

As Xavier walked away, Brax burrowed his face deeper into his hands before turning to Charlie. ‘I didn’t do it. I didn’t.’

Charlie nodded sympathetically.

When Xavier walked out into the main reception area, he was met by Georgie. ‘Georgie, any changes with Ruby?’

‘Yes, the DPP and I don’t see any reason not to drop her charges. I think things are a little clearer after our chat with Mr Braxton.’ Georgie smiled. ‘Your girlfriend’s off the hook.’

‘That’s awesome.’ Xavier sighed in relief. ‘I can’t wait to tell her.’

‘You’ve had a long shift. Go on home.’ Georgie urged.

And Xavier did just that. The second he entered his house, he searched for Ruby. ‘Ruby, you home?’

Ruby walked out of the hall with puffy red eyes and the most comfortable sweats she owned. ‘How was work?’

‘Well, this morning I found out my girlfriend had been arrested so I wasn’t so good.’ Xavier reached out and held Ruby. ‘At least until I was told twenty minutes ago of a change.’

‘What change?’ Ruby glanced up in surprise.

‘You’re a free woman. They dropped all the charges against you. You stabbing Grant was put down to self-defence.’

Ruby cried out and hugged him tightly. ‘Xav! Are you serious?’

‘Very serious, Georgie told me herself.’

‘Well, how?’

Xavier paused. ‘They’re looking into Brax now. He’s in a cell as we speak.’

Ruby pursed her lips in shock. ‘No, he wouldn’t do this to me.’

‘I’m so sorry Rubes but it doesn’t look good for him.’

‘It didn’t look good for me either but my charges were dropped. Maybe…’ Ruby couldn’t think straight. She needed to sit down.

‘Georgie looked pretty certain.’ Xavier explained.

Ruby shook her head. ‘Why would he do this to me? All these weeks, Brax, he’s supported me through this an all that time, he knew, he could’ve ended it all, and he didn’t. He just let the cops, let me, I thought we were getting along a little bit. I can’t believe I let my guard down. I should’ve known, he’s Darryl Braxton, I mean, what about Jade?’

‘Ruby…’ Xavier was worried as Ruby’s voice escalated with each word, a mixture of confusion, anger and concern.

‘No, Jade. I have to go see her. If Brax is in jail, where is she?’

‘I don’t…’ Xavier tried to say but Ruby was already on the move. She shut the front door behind her and he sighed as he finished his sentence. ‘Know,’

‘Leah, is Jade here?’ Ruby entered her old home as Leah let her in.

‘Yeah Rubes, she’s here. She’s getting a little restless though. I can’t reach Brax. Do you know where he is? He said he’d only be a couple hours.’ Leah asked.

‘I don’t even know where to start.’ Ruby sighed.

Leah frowned in concern. ‘Well, why don’t you start from the beginning?’

‘He did it Leah; they arrested him for killing Grant. How could he string me along like that? I thought he was supporting me but really he was just protecting himself.’

‘Brax got what?’ Leah looked shocked. ‘Just because he got arrested doesn’t mean he did anything, right? I can’t believe Brax would do it. Maybe the cops got it wrong.’

‘No,’ Ruby shook her head adamantly. ‘It’s just like him. Ruining lives, it’s all Brax ever does. And who else would’ve done it? I hate him. First mum and now Jade. Didn’t he think about what would happen to her? What is going to happen to her? Is she going to go into foster care or,’

Leah rubbed Ruby’s back comfortingly. ‘She’s going to stay with me. Brax will go on bail hopefully, until then, Jade and I can have a sleepover. If not, we’ll get to it when it comes.’

‘Thanks Leah,’ Like clockwork, Jade ran into the kitchen and hugged Ruby and she instantly feigned a smile for her sister. ‘Hey princess, you look pretty,’

‘Thanks, you like it?’ Jade modelled her princess tiara and wand. ‘Leah, when daddy coming to pick me?’

Ruby bent down to her level. ‘Hey Jade, what do you think about sleeping over here with Leah and VJ tonight?’

‘And daddy and you too?’

‘Sure, if it’s alright with Leah, I’ll stay but your old man’s got some stuff to take care of in the city tonight.’

‘He’ll come tomorrow to play princess with me then?’ Jade smiled hopefully.

‘Um, I’m not quite sure when he’ll be able to come but hopefully really soon, okay?’ Leah tried to be reassuring.

‘But he’ll miss me.’ Jade looked worried. ‘Who’ll take away his bad dreams?’

Ruby and Leah looked at each other. This was the first they’d heard about dreams. ‘You dad’s a big boy. He can take care of himself.’

‘No, he needs me. He’ll be scared.’ Jade insisted with worry, not sure if she was projecting her own needs.

‘Jade,’ Leah began. ‘we’ll have so much fun. A girl’s night, what do you say?’

‘I guess,’ Jade concluded after much internal deliberation.

‘Great, movies and popcorn, what’d you say?’

‘Can I choose the movie?’ Jade gleamed, her previous concern forgotten.

Ruby nodded with a smile. ‘I’ll pop the popcorn.’

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