It took a few minutes for the cruisers to arrive and to start canvassing the scene. The Detective assured me that with the confession things were definitely looking in my favour, but I was too numb to care.
It might have been him that called Raphael but a short time later I had been herded back into the Ferrari and leaned my head against the window.
My mind was blank. I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to think.
Beatrice...Svetlana. Mother, sister, friend, all three? Murderer?
The next day, the last day of my trial, was a complete turnaround. With Bea’s recorded confession and the evidence that they found in her apartment the case was totally reversed.
I watched with bated breath as the judge gestured toward the jury’s representative.
“Would the jury please declare the verdict.”
The man unfolded the paper and spoke with no emotion.
“On the charges of first degree murder we find the defendant, Katarina Abromovich to be...not guilty.”
I let out a sigh of relief and Raphael grinned at me from the spectator area. When court was adjourned and the judge left I jumped up, running down the aisle between the benches towards him. I jumped into his arms and kissed him like my life depended on it, getting various whoops from the people in the room and a laugh out of Sutton. It sounded like music to my ears.
Detective James nodded in approval of the result and I jumped out of Raphael’s arms and ran to give the man a bear hug. He was surprised but didn’t move to push me off.
“Could I ask a favour?” I said, a thought forming in my head.
“You can ask, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to fulfill it.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
I looked at Raphael. Really looked at him. The way his midnight hair fell a bit into his eyes, the refined, almost graceful, jaw-line and the never-ending pools of rich purple watching me.
“You heard the entire thing in court. You know what happened.”
“Yes,” he started, taking my hand and running his thumb over my knuckles, “I know what happened, but I don’t know what’s much more important. How are you feeling?”
“I...” I paused, “I’m not sure. I’m glad my record’s still clean, but I gained and lost a mother and sister a day ago. I’m confused and sad and I really, really need a coffee.”
“Anything for you, Kate.” He replied, stealing a quick kiss before getting up from the sofa to fetch my liquid relaxation.
My phone rang and I picked it up, hoping it wasn’t another reporter.
Believe me, it got annoying really quickly.
“...yes. Who is this?”
“I’m Devin Wheelburg from Hellsgate Studios. We have a very exciting proposition for you!”
“If you want me to buy a food processor, I have plenty.” I remarked, “Oh and I’m really not in the mood for a free cruise.”
The guy laughed.
“You are the ‘bad bunny’, yes?”
“What’s it to you?”
“Our company is looking to make a feature film on the concept, and we want you to audition for the lead role.”
“Are you kidding?”
“One of our agents will contact you in a few days to hear your final decision. Please consider it!”
He hung up and I blinked in surprise, Raphael coming in a few moments later with my coffee.
“Who was that?” he asked, handing me a steaming mug and sipping at his own.
“Some Devin Wheelburg.”
Raphael looked at me incredulously.
“I don’t get it, is he a famous scam artist?”
“He’s one of the biggest producers of our time, Kate. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a prank caller.”
“Right. Probably was.”
“What did he want?”
I looked around before replying.
“Weren’t we talking about my feelings sunshine? Let’s get back to that topic.”
He looked surprised.
“You...you want to talk about feelings?”
“What’s so surprising about that?” I asked, feeling insulted.
“I don’t know...you just seem to be the kind of person that bottles things up without ever saying a word of them to anyone.”
“You know what Bea-Svetlana told me?”
“That she was secretly your mother?”
“No, not that...she wanted me to live my life. I...what if I live my life the wrong way?”
“Just do what feels right.” He offered, “And let loose a little. It wouldn’t hurt.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped, “I let loose! I’m a totally easygoing....”
“Case in point.” Raphael muttered, getting himself a glare.
A few moments passed before I looked at him again, my expression serious.
“She was the only friend I’d had in a long time. I trusted her...and then...and then this.”
I held back my tears but Raphael reached over and pulled me close beside him.
“Kate, you can let it out. You don’t have to hold it together for me.”
A few seconds passed before the first few sobs came out of my throat, and the tears started trickling down my cheek. I buried my head in the crook of his neck and he lifted me into his lap so I could curl up against him.
I breathed him in, felt his warmth against me. I felt so cold without him, so small and so lost. He was like a steady light and I was a moth, fluttering around hopelessly just to feel a touch of the brightness on my wings.
“I’m sorry, Raphael.” I whispered in between silent sobs, “I’m sorry for everything I’ve put you through.”
“I’m sorry for everything you’ve had to go through.” He replied, his voice reverberating against me because of the proximity.
Let go of the pride and ambition that ruined your mother.
“I love you, Raphael.” I said simply, leaning back against him.
I felt his heartbeat and his every breath, and it took a few moments for him to answer. At that moment, I would have been content if he had never said another word.
“I love you too, Kate.”