Hearts on Fire 8: Saving C.C.

By: Dixie Lynn Dwyer

Prologue




C.C. Walker kissed her niece, Lola, and nephew, Bobby, goodbye. She didn’t know when she would see them again, but she knew she had to leave and move on or she would continue to suffocate here in New York.

They held on tightly, and she looked at her sister, Clare, arms crossed, anger in her eyes, and the first thoughts that came to C.C.’s head were that her sister was only angry because now she would be forced to move on and get out of her state of depression. She had kids to raise and a whole life ahead of her. Although she’d lost her husband, at least she had the opportunity to love and get married and start a family. C.C. hadn’t. Staying here made her dwell on her own boyfriend’s death, which had followed the tragic loss of her brother-in-law and her brother, Banks.

C.C. rubbed Bobby’s hair. “You be a good boy for mommy. You remember to call me whenever you want.”

He nodded then took his baby sister’s hand, and they headed toward the toy box in the living room.

C.C.’s bags were packed and the car full of what little she had. She and Parker had only started seeing one another in the past couple of months. Although it was new, it was still exciting, and she thought she had found the man she was going to marry. She swallowed hard.

“I can’t believe you’re doing this. Just packing up and heading out of town. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair, not when I’m stuck here and have to deal with all this heavy shit on my own,” Clare said to her in anger.

C.C. took a deep breath and released it slowly. She had to ignore that pull to take care of her sister like she had been the past six months. It was making Clare so dependent she didn’t lift a finger anymore. It was time to suck it up and be a mother and provider and move on.

“You need to deal with it because you’re their mother. They lost their father and their uncle, and now you need to work double time to make sure they never forget Lionel and Banks and the sacrifice they made. I can’t do it for you, Clare.”

“And tell them what? That the detectives can’t figure out if it was arson or not? That it’s possible some crazed arsonist set him and our brother up to die in a fire because he didn’t like firefighters and what they stand for? I can’t do that. It isn’t fair,” Clare stated through clenched teeth.

“You have to. It’s part of being a wife to a firefighter. You have so much support and all your friends. You have Mom, too, and the guys from the firehouse. You’ll be just fine. I have to go. I have to.”

C.C. thought about how they had lost their dad years ago. When would the suffering end?

“I know you think you loved Parker, but he was just a boyfriend, some guy you slept with. Lionel was my husband for six years. We had two children together. You can’t compare your loss to mine.”

C.C. felt her chest tighten. She never would compare that, but this was another reason why she needed to leave here. Her sister had become so dependent on her that she wasn’t living her life. Instead, C.C. was living her sister’s life. Her words hurt. She had no right to minimize what C.C. and Parker had. It had been new, but it was special. Plus Banks was C.C.’s brother too, but she couldn’t take being around their friends. The ones who lost two firefighters. It was as though they’d all decided that they knew what was best for C.C.

“I never compared the two. I’m sorry you’re having a problem with me leaving. One day you’ll understand and maybe even thank me for making the separation. You need to live your life. I need to live mine. I love you forever, Clare, as well as Bobby and Lola. Take care of yourself and be strong. I know you can do it.”

She exited the door and heard her sister crying, but C.C. hadn’t expected to hear something shatter against the door as she headed down the pathway. But she needed to do this. Plus, she wasn’t happy with the way she felt being a social worker for the Red Cross. She kept getting a creepy sensation lately. As though someone was watching her or something bad was going to happen to her. Was it her own subconscious playing tricks on her because of the tragedy that had struck her family and her personal life? She didn’t know, but her gut told her to get out of there and start living again. Maybe starting over would get rid of that negative, fearful energy now surrounding her. Lionel and Bank’s killer was still at large and unidentified. She knew someone had purposely set those fires. Perhaps that added to her fearful state of mind. But before she started getting paranoid and thinking that Parker’s death was somehow connected to the others, she needed to get out of town.

She thought about Detective Chris Factor, a good friend of her brother and a man who’d taken it upon himself to get involved with the investigation. He was a nice guy. In fact, she’d thought she might have feelings for him, but she was already seeing Parker. Chris promised her that he would figure things out and bring some closure to all of them. After all, Chris knew Lionel and Banks well and hung out with them a lot. She was tired of thinking about this situation every waking minute of every day.

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