Frazer hobbled into the field unit and sent his people home, explaining that he'd made a citizen's arrest to keep Byron from hurting himself. They exchanged glances; some didn't buy his explanation. He gave them another nudge: "JSO can take your statements later. You don't want to be stuck here for hours while they investigate."
The nudge worked. His people got into their cars and left. Even if they suspected, a vast gulf separated suspicion and action.
Karen glared at him over a cup of strawberry yogurt. "I'm going to finish my snack."
Frazer smiled. "Suit yourself."
He poured himself a drink in his office. Byron's keys poked his leg when he sat; he tossed them onto the desk. Karen didn't warrant a call to the Huntsman, not when he could just fire her after everything calmed down. But the bitch deserved it, the way she'd undermined him front of his people. Bullet to the head while she 'resisted arrest,' that'd show her what happens to people that challenge Jim Frazer. Or he could just wrap his hands around her pretty throat and squeeze. The Huntsman could, he corrected himself.
Liquor splashed onto his lap. His hands were trembling. He took another sip to silence the dark fantasies. He didn't have anything against Karen or even against Ray. Stupid kid just stuck his nose where it didn't belong. But hadn't Frazer warned him? Hadn't he been merciful? Served Ray right.
The office smelled like ammonia and rotting meat. He cursed the cleaning staff for using cheap chemicals and Byron for leaving leftovers in the fridge. Frazer had given Byron every opportunity, but he was trying to screw him over like everyone else-Tallahassee included, probably.
The stench grew stronger. He tried the windows, but they were stuck.
The phone rang. Frazer answered without looking at the screen. "What the fuck is taking so long?"
"Dad?" Hannah said.
Frazer slumped into this chair and slid his drink away. "Oh. Honey."
"What was that?"
"Nothing, just an inside joke." Lying to Hannah was easy for Frazer. She trusted him; he hated himself for that. "I'm expecting a call, so-"
"I got it!" she said.
Frazer closed his eyes and breathed easy. Hannah's excitement purified him; her joy expiated his sins. After her mother had left, he'd made her his entire world. "What'd you get? A cold?"
Hannah groaned. "Corny, dad. I got the scholarship! I'm going to Florida State!"
"That's great, honey." Frazer smiled. "We'll celebrate this weekend, okay?"
"Guess what else? The guy who told me said he knows you. He wants to say hi."
Frazer's eyes widened. "He's there with you?"
"I guess the scholarship is such a big deal they wanted to tell me in person. Isn't that cool? Bye Dad! I love you!"
Frazer swallowed. "I love you too."
His daughter's phone changed hands. "Jim! Good to hear from you, buddy!" Tallahassee's voice was unfamiliar, despite the familiar tone.
Frazer went to the window. The parking lot had cleared, except for Byron's truck and his convertible-Karen must have finished her yogurt. "Please don't hurt her."
YOU ARE READING
King of the Woods, or Trivial PursuitFantasy
Florida Forest Service duty officer Ray Lumley is in love with a white fringetree. Not an I-read-Walden-in-high-school love; a sweaty, sappy, I-want-to-rub-against-you-'til-I-get-splinters love. It's awkward. So, he's relieved to learn that he's rea...