Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Chapter 5-4: Gunpowder and Lead

               “Don’t look so sullen,” Ian whispered in her ear. Camille rolled her eyes and dragged her gaze from Pearl and Joshua. Sure, she had introduced them. Sure, she had wanted Joshua to find someone else to lavish his attention on. Her partner though? That seemed to cross the line a little.
               “What are you doing here,” she snapped at Ian, trying to unleash her frustration elsewhere.
               “It’s a public bar. And they look cute together, be happy for them.” He sauntered off to order himself a drink, Camille scowling in his direction.

               Maybe he was right. Pearl did look pretty happy with Joshua. He had told her that he wanted five kids and Pearl was definitely the maternal type. She was always cooing over babies and puppies and making those silly baby noises at them. She’d mentioned once to Camille that she wanted a big family. Camille watched as the two leaned in and kissed. Yeah, I guess I can be happy for her.

                She wandered over to the bar, intent on ordering her own drink when a loud rumble was heard outside, just before the door banged open.
               “Who is that,” she speculated aloud.

                Ian rolled his eyes. “You sure have a type don’t you? Come dance with me Pearl,” he whirled her onto the floor.
               The new arrival walked past the group of people, ignoring all of them and settled himself into a corner seat. Camille tried making eye contact with him a couple of times and was annoyed that he didn’t so much as look in her direction.

               “Ian’s trying to make you jealous,” Joshua gave his wonderful insight.        
               “Yeah, well, it’s not going to work,” she snapped. “I need a round of drinks,” she signaled to the bartender. It was going to be a long night.

               The night was a disaster. Okay, not a disaster. Close though; Pearl and Joshua were all over each other all night, making Camille feel the need to gag. What was it about women who got all googly-eyed over a man and couldn’t think straight? Ian was his usual, cocky self. And the mysterious stranger stayed for one drink, paid his tab and left without as much as a hello. Camille did not like being ignored. He would have made a great distraction and possibly even deterrent for Ian.

               For the next couple of weeks, Camille attempted to avoid all group activities. She didn’t like being the third wheel to the non-couple - I mean, really, why can’t they just make it official already? They suck face all the time anyway. - so she focused her energies on work. She was still trying to find the connection between Esther Bingham, April Burns, and Agnes and Craig Burney. As of now, she had nothing. She hadn’t seen April around town again and she couldn’t run surveillance on the nursing home since this was her own, private project. Until she had solid evidence, she didn’t want to bring her theories to the desk of the chief.

               Walking home one night, Camille happened to catch a glimpse of the elusive, dark haired woman in the tattoo shop. Tired of being careful, she marched in, ready to confront this person. As she got closer, she realized just how like Becks this girl looked.

                “Becks, it’s been such a long time,” she smiled, forcing herself to take it slow.
               “I’m sorry ma’am, I’m afraid you have me mistaken for someone else,” the woman replied, looking away. Classic liar behavior.
               “Don’t lie to me! You and your brother abandoned me! You let me get arrested on the night of my prom!”
               The girl through her hands up in the air. “Camille, I don’t know…” she stopped, realizing her mistake a little too late.

                “You’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent…” Camille went through the motions of arresting April/Becks/Agnes/whoever to make sure that the arrest would hold up in court. She didn’t want this girl to slip away again due to a slip in procedure.

               “Donovan Matter with the Bradford Sun. What are the circumstances regarding this arrest Ms. Avendale?” The dark haired man from the bar was waiting in front of the police station when Camille arrived with her criminal in tow.
               “No comment. Now get the hell out of my way,” she pushed her way past him and marched down to the bullpen.

               “Pearl, I need you to have Angie prep an interrogation room while I get this one booked,” Camille barked out orders, ready to start her line of questioning.

               After getting April (that’s what Camille was calling her for now) checked in, she led her down the hall to the line of rooms specifically for questioning family members and suspects alike.

               “Are you going to tell me what the charges are,” April questioned.
               “You know damn well what the charges are. I told you; aiding and abetting a known cyber terrorist. Your brother.”

                “I’m an only child,” she countered.
               The bantering went back and forth, April denying and dodging every accusation and trap that Camille laid before her. It appeared that her first slip up would be the only one and knowing someone’s name really didn’t constitute grounds for holding a person in jail indefinitely.

               Finally, Camille got tired of getting nowhere and slipped out of the room and into the viewing room.
               “Ang, is she hiding something,” Camille asked.
               “She is, but I couldn’t tell you what. It’s like she completely believes what she is telling you most of the time. Then she wavers, just the slightest, mostly at the mention of this Chad person.”
               “Her brother. Or, well, he was her brother when I knew them. Who knows what role they are playing now? Wait…I need to talk to Pearl.”

               She left the room and went and found her partner, explaining as emotionless as possible, her history with April and Chad and telling Pearl what her idea was. She didn’t know if it would work. It seemed to on TV shows but Camille always assumed those people were just stupid. Who would actually fall for something like that? But it was all she had or else she was going to have to release April and let her get away, yet again.

               She went back into the interrogation room, calmer this time than before.
               “You know, it’s fine. You don’t have to confess. We got your prints when we brought you in and, with time, I’m sure we can match it up to some of your other aliases. As it is, my partner is getting a judge to sign a search warrant for your house. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we find out who you really are.”

               At that moment, Pearl walked in and pulled Camille aside to whisper in her ear. April watched, glower intensifying with each moment that passed, unable to understand the conversation. Camille could hear her trying not to fidget behind her and winked at Pearl, giving her the go ahead.

               “We got the search warrant and called to a nearby patrol officer to drive by the place. They saw a young man enter the premises. We’re sending a team in now to check it out and bring him in for questioning.” Pearl’s voice was raised, just the slightest to still be a whisper but loud enough that April could make out the conversation this time.

               “Well April. It looks like we won’t have to wait much longer to finally found out if you’re telling the truth or not. It appears your brother has been spotted entering your apartment and my colleagues are just about to drop in for a little visit,” Camille informed her.
               “Liars! Chris never leaves that abandoned factory; he’s too paranoid after almost getting caught because of your incompetence in Storybrook!” April shouted, pointing at Camille, looking every bit the deranged accomplice.
               Camille smiled smugly at Pearl who just gazed down at their suspect, feeling no pity for this woman. 

               “You heard her. Abandoned warehouse, start checking in to all the ones locally and see if we can find any reports of vagrants.”
               April threw her hands over her mouth, just now fully aware of what she had done. It was too late though and Camille and Pearl had everything they needed to start looking for the elusive cyber terrorist last known as Chris Burns.

               That weekend, they had still developed no new leads in the case. There were plenty of abandoned buildings in the city and surrounding suburbs and they didn’t have the manpower to go through them easily. Luckily, the slip-up had given them enough evidence to keep April behind bars so she couldn’t alert her brother to the ever tightening noose the police were slowly encircling him with. If only they knew where to focus it.

               With officers sifting through tons of data, Camille decided to take the weekend to relax. She had been invited to a party at Ian’s house and, although she had made it clear that she didn’t want a relationship with him, she felt that a brief, no strings attached fling might help take her mind off the case.

               As they were chatting, the man from the newspaper came in.
               “What is he doing here,” she blurted out.
               “I invited him,” Ian replied and went to make more drinks.

               “Ms. Avendale, I think you have some explaining to do to the public.” The man wasted no time with words.
               “I owe nothing. I’m a police officer in the middle of an investigation.”
               “An investigation regarding the manhunt for alleged cyber terrorist Craig Burney who has remained elusive for the last decade? Have you found the abandoned building he’s staying in yet?”

               “What? How? Who is your source,” Camille was furious that he knew the some of the details that the police had not made public record yet. “Look…”
               “Donovan, this is a sensitive investigation. You print that story and our chances of catching this guy pretty much disappear.”

               “Don’t you think the public has the right to know?”
               “Not if it hinders the search. How about this? You keep this confidential until we find the guy and I’ll give you an exclusive interview personally.”

               “Now, now Camille, are you being rude to my guest,” Ian chose that moment to interrupt them.
               “Actually, Ms. Avendale just promised me an exclusive interview for the near future.” Donovan agreed without giving away any information and Camille felt that she could breathe a tiny sigh of relief. Now she would just have to hold up her end of the bargain and meet with this ass when everything was over.

                “Esther, I need to know about April. And Chris,” Camille finally confronted the older woman about the secret she had hinted at.

               “Funny thing, when you have kids you always picture them being doctors or lawyers and saving the world from the bad guys. You never imagine that they will end up being the bad guys.”
               “Are you saying that they are your children? Why haven’t you been to see the police about this?”
               “I feel like I am the one to blame for their actions. I should have been stricter, should have been better at teaching them to be good people.” She looked down at the floor, clearly ashamed of her decisions.

               “Esther, it’s not your fault. Sometimes people just aren’t nice. Tell me though, why haven’t you helped the police?”
               “There’s nothing to help. I don’t know where my children are. Agnes has come by a few times to assuage her guilt but she never tells me any information. Not what city they are staying in, not what their names are. She’s been April since I came to this nursing home five years ago. I can’t help anyone.”

               “They’re here. In St. Claire.”
               “Here? This is where they grew up. We lived over in the old city district. There were some fires years ago that pretty much destroyed the property value so I’ve never been able to sell our old house.”
               “Esther, I think you just gave me exactly what I needed. Thank you!”
               “Please, get them off the street. I don’t want any more people to get hurt. I wish they had turned out to be more like you.” Camille pulled the old woman into a hug, promising to do everything she could to stop Craig and Agnes.

               She put in an emergency meeting for early Monday morning with Chief Randall, Pearl, and Angie to work out the details of finally apprehending Craig Burney.
               “I want this,” Camille stated up front. Angie scowled over her shoulder, not sure that a rookie was up to task of taking on a cyber-terrorist and stated as much.
               “You said it yourself, it’s cyber terrorism. Unless he’s holed up with a bunch of muscle, what would be the big deal? This has been my case from the beginning; I’ve been lead on it, while doing everything else I’ve been tasked with. It should be mine.”

               “I’ve got her back,” Pearl stated, matter-of-factly. “She’s right. He has no idea we’re this close. It’ll be a complete surprise. We can have Ang monitor us for backup, just in case.”
               Chief Randall wasn’t too happy about it but begrudgingly agreed to let Camille and Pearl handle their first official take down.

               They waited until the cover of night to proceed on the address Esther had given Camille. It was the only place that made sense, knowing that this had once been his home and knowing that the property was not in danger of being renovated because his mother still had the deed.

               Not taking any chances, they kept their guns out, mics in their ears, and were quiet. Camille signaled that she was ready to start clearing the buildings and Pearl signaled back that she would watch Camille’s six. They started moving through the derelict buildings one by one until they noticed a faint, flickering glow coming from the back of the homestead. Camille motioned to Pearl to go around the side while she went in the front.

               “Craig Burney, you’re under arrest,” she notified the criminal sitting before the fire.
               “Why, if it isn’t little Camille Avendale. You were weak and pathetic back then and you’re no match for me now.”
               “You’re surrounded Craig, give it up,” Pearl shouted, stepping into the room from the cracked side doors.

               “Complacency is a bitch, isn’t it Craig,” Camille kept her gun trained on him as he stood, raising his hands above his head as Pearl holstered her weapon and stepped up to cuff him.

               “It sure is,” he shouted, moving so fast that Camille barely had time to register what was happening. She watched as he spun, grabbing her partner’s gun, and wrapping Pearl tight in his grasp, weapon held threateningly close. “When are you going to figure it out Camille? I’m too good at this. Now, put down your weapon and let us go. I’ll release your partner as soon as I get outside the city limits.”

               “Okay, okay,” Camille raised her hands above her head, ignoring the buzzing sounds in her ear. They had Angie listening in but no one had anticipated trouble so the backup wasn’t really all that close. Camille had been so sure of herself. “Craig, let her go and I’ll just watch as you walk out of here.”

               Camille could tell that Pearl was frightened. She could also tell that her partner didn’t want to let this bastard go. She looked at Camille and gave just the slightest nod, indicating that she trusted her partner and wanted him taken out.

               “I need a hostage and I’m not going to prison Camille,” he began slowly stepping backward, inching for the door.
               “No, you’re not,” she pulled her weapon down and aimed at him, simultaneously squeezing off a shot. She wasn’t fast enough though and she heard a crack that was twin to her own. Craig launched backward, propelled by the 9mm bullet Camille had just fired on him as Pearl fell to the ground, clutching her hand to an ever widening stain of red.

               “Oh my watcher! Officer down, I repeat, officer down,” Camille shouted into her headset as she rushed to her partner. “Please Pearl, hang on. Help is on the way. You can’t die on me!” She clutched her partner and best friend close to her, tears streaming down her face, waiting for the sound of sirens.

Chapter 5.3                                                                                                                                      Chapter 5.5

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chapter 5-3: Hell On Heels

               Before the young woman got too far out of sight, Camille hailed a cab. She felt rather silly telling the driver to ‘follow that car’ but, what can you do? She needed to find out who this person was. As the battered car pulled into a small facility, Camille directed her cabbie to pull into the motel parking lot across the street to drop her off. Safely behind a parked car, Camille watched the dark haired woman walk from her car to the front of the building. Another young woman in scrubs came out of the double doors and greeted her.

               The meeting didn’t last long. The two women spoke for a few minutes before the first went back to her car and drove way. Though she hadn’t been too close, Camille hadn’t seen any exchange between the women and didn’t think it was a drug deal. She was starting to doubt her judgment. If someone had asked her when she first spotted the woman, Camille would have sworn that it looked just like Becks. She had been far away though. “Maybe I need glasses.” She decided that she should go see what the girl had been doing there, if just to make herself feel like it hadn’t been a trip wasted.

               “Oh, hi. I don’t recognize you. Are you a relative of one of our patients,” the blonde in scrubs met Camille at the door as well.
               “I was following my cousin over here. I got stuck in traffic on the bridge though and I don’t see her,” Camille feigned looking for her ‘cousin’ for the benefit of the nurse.
               “April was here but she left. Ms. Esther wasn’t feeling up for visitors today.”
               “That’s such a shame. I haven’t her in ages!”
               “Well, perhaps I could convince her to see you, just for a little while.”

               “Esther dear, another niece is here to see you. Aren’t you excited?”
               “Dear me. My poor memory, I don’t remember this one. With hair the color of a fire engine, you’d think that’d be the one to stand out,” the woman proclaimed. “Ah, well, let me get a look at you.”
               Camille shook her ‘aunt’s’ hand, being scrutinized by both the young nurse and a few of the other patients. As she had come inside, the plaque on the wall had read Fairview Nursing Home. She hoped that the woman wasn’t too delusional to give her some information.

                “Ah yes. You look just like that jezebel that seduced my poor Thomas. I should have known not to let him go with her to the Sadie Simkins dance. Lilac, you imbecile. She’s my granddaughter, not niece. Now be a dear and go get us some banana pudding.” Camille smiled, hiding her dismay. The woman was nuttier than a fruit basket if she recognized her as a granddaughter. The potential of getting any kind of information from Esther had greatly diminished.

               Esther guided Camille to the couch where she proceeded to remind her of the olden days with her brothers and the fun they had on the farm. How she missed it, growing up in the country, milking the family cows, while her brothers helped tend the fields. Camille had no clue what to talk to the woman about and just sat and listened. It appeared that Esther hadn’t had company in a while with the amount of talking she did. She then regaled Camille with stories of her mother, the jezebel, and Thomas.

               “After the Sadie Simkins dance, your father was just so smitten with that woman. I tried telling him that she was no good for him but he wouldn’t listen. I’ve always suspected she teased him mercilessly to get him stuck on her hook.”
               “Your birth my dear, it was just not a pleasant day. It was right before graduation and your mother wanted Thomas to bring all of her friends’ senior yearbooks so she could sign them while she was stuck in bed. He forgot because he was just so excited you were coming. She kicked the poor man out of the room and would not let him see you for three days!”
               “My goodness. If I could find that harlot now; what an earful she’d get. Leaving a young daughter alone with her father. Last he had heard she was in Lucky Palms, looking for a richer man to ensnare with her honey pot.”

               Camille laughed and nodded along with the stories. Whoever Esther’s real granddaughter was, Camille felt sympathy for her. Something in Esther tugged at Camille’s heartstrings because, as she was saying her goodbyes, she promised to visit again and really meant it.

               The months dwindled by and, as life went on around her, Camille became more and more engrossed in her work. Sylie announced that she and Danny were expecting their first child together. Yet Camille found less time to go out each night and more time to sift through tons of tips and reports, looking for something, anything really, to help catch ‘the bad guys’. Though their meeting had not gotten off to a great start, Camille was relieved and impressed to discover that Pearl was just as dedicated to her job as Camille and, as time went on, they discovered that they actually made a good team. The perky, sunny Pearl was the perfect antidote to the brooding, serious Camille and they each brought out the best in each other. Then, one day she realized how much time had passed and that she needed to visit Storybrook in the next few weeks. She immediately put in a vacation request to the chief and waited anxiously for his reply.

               With her leave approval from Chief Randall in her inbox, Camille quickly made plans to get away for the weekend. She had told Dahlia before she left Storybrook that she would visit again for her birthday. In just two days, Dahlia would be a teenager and, falling out or not, Camille planned on being there to celebrate with her little sister. She rushed around after work, packing a suitcase and heading to the airport to narrowly catch her red eye flight.

               “Camille, it’s so good to see you!” Brielyn wrapped her little sister in a hug as they met at the motel where she was staying. Camille hadn’t bothered to ask her mother’s permission to come home, much less stay at the house and Brielyn lived in a studio. With her recent promotion at work, she could afford a hotel for two nights anyway.

               After Brielyn headed off to work, Camille lounged by the motel pool for a little while. She needed to relax before going home to see her mother and Lyric again. There were a few hours to kill before Dahlia got out of school anyway. She had talked to Dahlia on the phone quite a few times but the communication between herself and Yalena was frosty at best. Most times it was just “how are you,” “fine, and you” and then the phone was passed to Dahlia. She wasn’t ready for the reunion with them yet but she would do just about anything for her sister and Camille knew how much this would mean to her.

               At 4pm, Camille took a taxi over to her old home. She told the doorman that her visit was a surprise to Dahlia so, when he buzzed up to the important, he just announced it as a delivery.

               “Oh my watcher, oh my watcher, sissy, you’re here!” The little girl flung herself into her sister’s arms and Camille knew that, regardless of how Lyric and Yalena took her visit, this moment had made it all worth it.

               Dahlia grabbed her by the hand and pulled her up the stairs. “Mommy, look who came to visit! Okay, I have to do my homework now. I wanna be valedictorian just like you,” she exclaimed before bouncing back out to the living room. It was obvious that having Camille home made Yalena uncomfortable but she at least had the decency to fake it and make everything as smooth as possible.

               After her homework was done, Camille and Dahlia took a trip to visit Uncle Zane and Aunt Jeanie and all of their cousins. While Camille sat and chatted with the adults, Dahlia played with the babies. Neither Zane nor Jeanie really approved of the way Yalena had handled the ‘situation’ but neither wanted to comment either so they kept the conversation to small talk; work, weather, and friends. There was even talk of coming to visit St. Claire though Camille was pretty sure it was just idle chitchat.

                Not only did Camille’s trip occur over Dahlia’s birthday; it also happened to coincide with the twins’ birthday as well. The two toddlers, Aries and Laia, were absolutely adorable. In coloring, Aries looked to take after Abrielle, whom Camille had only heard about and seen pictures of while Laia had Jeanie’s coloring. Other than that, the two appeared to be practically identical blends of the Fierces and the Avendales.

               The night after the twins’ party, it was Dahlia’s turn for her birthday when she would finally become a teen. For the first time since Camille was home Lyric, Yalena, Camille, and Dahlia were all under the same roof once again. Though he smiled and treated her kindly, Camille knew that Lyric was less than thrilled about her coming home for the birthday. Regardless of how much progress she had made and how well she was doing in St. Claire, he still viewed her as a bad influence for his perfect daughter.

                Then, just like that, her weekend was over. Camille had to be at work bright and early Monday morning and she couldn’t linger in Storybrook any longer. Her family came to see her off to the airport, even Lyric. She hugged everyone goodbye, glad that she had been able to come home but partly relieved to be getting back to her own life. She had enjoyed seeing her sisters but felt that she had missed a lot in her absence. Of course, the same weekend that she went away on vacation was the weekend that Sylie gave birth to not one, but two babies; a boy, Reno and girl, Rena.

               Dahlia rode with her to the airport. She wasn’t happy to see her sister go. She had really enjoyed Camille being back and, if she were being honest with herself, she had been hoping that Camille would change her mind about living far away and come back to stay permanently.

               “You’ll be back again, right,” she asked as Camille gathered her stuff together for the flight home.
               “I’m not sure when I can get away again.”
               “Maybe I can come visit you,” she asked pleadingly.
               “We’ll see.” One last hug and Camille was air bound for St. Claire once more.

                Her first day back was busy. First, there was the gnome incident. Apparently, there was an underground group selling gnomes on the black market. Camille thought she would be brought in undercover but no, Chief Randall put her on a computer to see if she could track down where they were being shipped so he could use Pearl undercover. Camille had come all the way to St. Claire to work in computer forensics and, now that she was, she wanted nothing more than to be out there, doing the actual work.

               Then, after work, she headed over to Sylie and Danny’s home for the introduction of the twins. Because it was so hot, Sylie had decided to make it a pool party. Camille felt a little weird to be wandering around in a swimsuit with no pool or beach in sight but she would admit that it was definitely cooler.

               “Camille, you made it. I wasn’t sure if you’d come after spending all that time traveling. This is Reno,” she cooed down to the little blue bundle.
               “He’s cute,” Camille attempted to gush. She was lucky Sylie was preoccupied. It wasn’t that she didn’t like babies. She just didn’t want to be like her mother, bouncing from man to man, and since Camille didn’t have plans to fall in love, that put babies off the table.
               “Rena is in the bedroom if you want to go see her.” Camille headed that way.

               “Joshua,” she inquired, seeing him with a pink infant.
               “Hi, Camille, right?”
               “You remembered. How do you know Sylie?”
               “Actually, Danny and I work together. He’s a sub and has helped out around the high school. He’s a good guy.” He cradled Rena and the three of them went back to the living room to socialize with the other adults.     

                Sylie appeared to make a fantastic mom. She was constantly checking on both her children, talking to them and passing them around with a huge smile on her face. Camille figured if anyone would be the perfect parents, it would likely be Sylie and Danny.
               “You like kids,” Joshua asked her, looking down at Rena.
               “I’m on the fence. They’re cute, but probably not for me. You?”
               “I love them. I grew up an only child but I had lots of cousins who have kids of their own now. I want a big family. Maybe 5 kids or so.”
               “Better you than me,” she semi-joked. Sylie finally announced that it was time to put the twins down for bed and everyone proceeded home.

               The following evening, Camille decided to go see Ms. Esther. Being home for the weekend and missing the old family dynamic made her yearn, just a little, for someone to treat her like family and actually want to spend time with her, even if it was the result of dementia.

               “Why hello dear. How are you today,” she asked when Camille arrived.
               “I’m fine. How about we sit and play some dominoes today?”
               They sat and played for an hour or so. Esther was a feisty lady who loved her dominoes but she knew when Camille was letting her win. “Ah, ah, I want to win on my own you silly goose. Don’t make it so easy.” Camille won, once Esther called her out on throwing the game, and they got some dinner in the cafeteria. 

               “Why don’t you walk me to my room? It’s just down the hall.” They walked, arm in arm to the sterile room that was dressed up to look like home. She indicated to the tea pot on the table. “Have a seat. We can have tea and biscuits.”

               “I really need to be going. It’s late.” Camille turned to head back to the front.
               “I know you’re not my granddaughter,” Esther blurted out.
               “Excuse me?”
               “I have two children, both around your age. No grandchildren. You’ve been nice to me. It’s been nice having someone to talk to. I want to know though, why did you come?”
               Camille paused, unsure of what to say. Finally she settled on vague honesty. “I followed your niece, April, here. She reminds me of someone.”
               “Ah, yes, April. We’re not on speaking turns. Funny thing about that, I have no siblings.”
               “Knock, knock,” Lilac called out in a singsong voice from the door. “I’m sorry, but visiting hours are over. You’ll have to come back later.” Camille gaped at Esther, and quickly caught herself.
               “Yes, thank you Lilac. I was just leaving.” She glanced back over her shoulder at Esther but the woman was paying her no mind at all as she sat doing her crossword puzzle.

               The next day, after work, Camille decided to take a jog. She had a lot to think about and digest regarding the information Esther had given her. What could it possibly mean? If she has no siblings, then April can’t possibly be her niece. And she’s a lot more in control of her facilities than I thought. Has she been stringing me along all this time? What could she want from me?

               She saw Pearl walking along the beach and jogged over to her.
               “I need your help with something,” she cut straight to the chase.
               “Isn’t that what partners are for? Although, I seem to remember you not wanting one.”
               “I know. I’m sorry, I was wrong. You're never going to let that go, are you?”
               “Will you help me?” Camille sighed, though with a smile, at her partner's dramatics.
               “Of course.”
               Camille explained her plan to Pearl and how she needed someone to cover as she followed up a few leads that she had. Pearl was less than enthused about the idea.
               “Are you sure about this? If Chief Randall finds out, we’ll both be back to working the streets again.”

               “Just trust me, okay?”
               “Fine, but you owe me. We’re going out tonight.” Camille sighed but agreed and rushed home to shower and change.

               “Oh my Watcher, that guy is hot,” Pearl exclaimed.  Camille looked in that direction and realized who Pearl was looking at.
               “Give us a minute,” she said, heading over to Ian.
               “You got him first? No fair,” Pearl nursed her drink as her only consolation prize.

               “Ian, I told you, I’m not interested in a relationship,” she reminded him harshly.

                “Wow, you sure think mighty high of yourself to assume I’m here to meet you.” He winked and then sauntered away from her to wrap his arm around another woman. Camille frowned, realizing that she was the slightest bit jealous.

               After a long day at work, Camille decided to take a walk to the park. There had been a lot of calls regardinging some suspicious activity. Some concerned parents had reported strangers approaching their children. Luckily, no one had been hurt or abducted and Camille wanted to keep it that way. Even though the detectives were on top of it, she figured it wouldn’t help to get a fresh set of eyes in on it.
               “Hey there, I haven’t seen you around in a while,” Joshua smiled at her.
               “I’ve been here and there. What are you doing out here?”
               “The police department sent out some notices about people lingering at the park. The teachers have been taking turns watching the kids. My question is what are you doing here?”
               She looked at him with one eyebrow raised and then realized that she had yet to explain what she did. She had kept it quiet when they first met for fear of spoiling her cover but now that she was on patrol duty, was it really necessary to keep things under wraps?
               “Just taking a walk. The weather was too nice to pass up.” Now wasn’t the time to divulge her job, not when she was in the middle of something big. Besides, she was realizing that she might be able to enlist his help. “Do you want to come over for drinks?”
               “That would be great. The parents will be here in a few minutes to pick up the kids anyway.”

               Once they got back to her apartment, Camille made them a few drinks.
               “We keep running in to each other,” Joshua noted.

               “We do. It must be fate,” she smiled coyly at him. She was pleasantly surprised when he blushed. “So tell me all about your job. The things you love about being a teacher, the things that make it hard. I’ve been contemplating a career in teaching myself and I’d love to get some advice from someone like you. Do you mind if I take notes?”
               It was clear that he had a passion for teaching. He really was enthusiastic about being able to help the kids and mentor them. She did her best to appear attentive and even leaned in, touching his arms a few times. She knew a thing or two about attentive listening.
               “So, tell me. Did you ever teach April Burns? She’s my cousin and I’m pretty sure she went to school out here,” Camille was fishing. She had gotten April’s last name from Lilac’s visitor book which Pearl had filched when she went to ‘inspect the quarters on behalf of the SSPCEP’. 

               “Oh, April. Yes, I had her in a history class. She was a bright student, though she didn’t really put forth much effort. I’m sorry about your aunt.”
               “Yes, the fire. It was really tragic. At least April had her older brother to take care of her until she graduated. Chris seemed to really watch out for her.”
               “Oh right. We try not to talk about it,” Camille frowned, trying to hide her confusion. “I’m so sorry but it’s getting late. Maybe we can pick this up another night?”
               He leaned in and kissed her lightly. “I’d really like that. Maybe a proper date next time?”

               Could April and this Chris really be Becks and Chad? And how did Esther play into it?

Chapter 5.2                                                                                                                                      Chapter 5.4
The SSPCEP is the Simlish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Elderly People; totally made up by me. I want to really thank SilentPsycho who helped me populate St. Claire. Without her, my town would be quite a bit more empty!

Camille's generation is so fun to write. I am enjoying this one and, for once, am not in a rush to start popping out heirs to move the story along. I think this is, for sure, my favorite generation yet!