NINE

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Jack was dead. No matter how many times Virginia said it, the pain didn't dull. She ached with the loss of her partner, her best friend. Every day was a chore to start, filled with hours of tedious tasks, ending with the blessed but often elusive relief of a few hours of sleep.

The funeral, as much as she could remember, had been well attended. The Southeast community had come out in full force, lining the streets as the procession left the church to make its way to the gravesite. They'd all been there, the elderly lady who had been harassed and pushed to the ground, the store owner whose windows had been shattered during a robbery, the young man who dared to dream beyond the limitations of his current circumstances, and so many others. The people he had gone beyond the line of duty to help. The Jack stories. They were too numerous to count.

She'd shed a tear for each person standing there, but it was the memory of the children's faces that still tore at her heart and had her crying in waves. They were the ones who needed a hero the most.

At some point, pills had been shoved into her hand to get her through the rest of it. Weeks later, even though the medication had long since left her system, a fog surrounded her as she went through the motions of her day, wondering how life could be so cruel.

Idle gossip had started circulating about Jack's mysterious, off-duty job. Rumors that he had been working for the Chilvatis spread. There was even speculation that he'd been the one to warn them of the raid at The Gondola back in the summer.

She berated herself for not being more assertive and asking him where he was going those nights so that she could prove the rumors wrong, force those people to eat their own words. It became her obsession to clear his name. And as the days passed, one thing became clear, pushing some of the fog away, giving her a purpose. She needed to go straight to the source.

And that meant a visit to Spinelli.

END OF CHAPTER NINE

Dedicated to @ShelleyBurbank , author of Finding Penny, for all her helpful suggestions about writing on Wattpad. Part of the fun of being here is the support you receive from other writers!

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