Mama Bear: Part 8

Claire stood in her kitchen, staring out the window over the sink, yawning. She hadn’t slept much. David kept her up with his constant phone calls the night before. She couldn’t hear his conversation, just the muffled sound of his voice until almost 3 in the morning. The clock on the microwave said it was 6:15. She’d slept-in a whole hour, but the sky was still dark. The coffee was still brewing. 

Of course, now David was sleeping, but the Cubs would be awake soon. Claire had to get ready for the day. There were several items on her agenda that wouldn’t get done if she didn’t get her butt moving. 

There were numbers to crunch, school to teach. A house to pick-up. Meals to make. Laundry to gather-

Claire sniffed the collar of her pajama top. First and foremost, she needed a shower.

***

The good Sheriffs and Deputies of Snohomish County had been asked to help track rumors of arson in a neighboring region so Sheriff Chen wasn’t able to get the warrant right away. Sure, he could have delegated the responsibility, but the murder of Chester M. Lester was his to solve. Chen was the lead and he planned on keeping it that way.

Sheriff Chen didn’t like the direction the evidence was taking him, so waiting another day to obtain the warrant wasn’t particularly concerning. Clarabel Enriquez had no priors- not so much as a parking ticket. She was a single mom, a homeschooler, and an accountant. Hardly a flight risk. In all honesty, the Sheriff had trouble blaming Claire at all. But understanding a suspect’s motives would not preclude him upholding the law. Nothing could do that. 

In the past 2 hours, Sheriff Chen and Deputy Johnson received the signed warrant and assembled the search team. Now, they were on their way to see Clarabel Enriquez.

***

David slogged up the stairs, sleep still in his eyes. Three hours is enough, he told himself. He’d argued cases on less. There would be no arguments today, though. Claire would accept the help and that was that. Whether she thought she needed it wasn’t important. She was going to the appointment. He would take-over the kid’s schooling. 

How hard could it be?

David found Claire in the kitchen. Just like the old days. Only now she wasn’t making his breakfast or pouring him a cup of coffee. Claire was leaning over the counter, chewing a highlighter marker while examining what looked like several spreadsheets.

Claire didn’t look up as David approached, too engrossed in her work. Her hair was pulled up in a messy knot. The bags under her eyes were more prominent than the day before.

Good, David thought. She should be losing sleep, after what she’s done. Not that he could blame her. If he’d been there, he might have done the same thing. He just wanted some evidence. Something that told him Claire understood the gravity of the situation. The neighbor might have been a piece of human garbage, but Claire had no right to act as judge and jury. 

David said nothing but reached around Claire to access the cabinet where he knew he’d find a mug. They’d lived in various places together, and every kitchen was arranged the same: plates and glasses over the dishwasher. Mugs and bowls in the cabinet over the coffee pot.

Claire stepped to one side but kept her eyes on the spreadsheet. Removing the cap with her teeth, she highlighted two rows of numbers.

David grabbed the tallest mug and poured the last of the hot coffee inside. “What time do you usually wake the boys?” 

“8:30,” Claire responded without looking up.

“Your appointment’s at 9.” David sipped the coffee.

“I’m sorry, David, but I really need to get some work done before school.”

“I’m teaching today-“

BANG-BANG-BANG! The unmistakable sound from the front door had David grabbing Claire by the arm, hauling her towards the living room. 

She’d gone pale; her eyes wider than David had ever seen them. “Kids,” She muttered.

“I’m here. Where’s your phone?”

“This is the Sheriff! Open up!” A man shouted through the front door.

“Coming!” David shouted back, then asked his ex-wife, “You have to open that door. Where’s your cell phone?”

Claire pointed to the couch. David snatched it up and put it in his pocket. 

“Coming!” David shouted at the door once more. He reached for the deadbolt, knowing Claire was doing all she could just remaining upright. Then he reminded her, “Don’t say anything. Got it? Not until your lawyer arrives.”

She shook her head. “I’m scared.”

“I know.”

David opened the front door to find a half-dozen officers crowding the porch. The one in front was a Sherrif, holding a warrant. His nametag read simply, “Chen.” Oddly, the group didn’t push inside. Their weapons were still holstered.

The Sheriff he handed the pages to Claire, studying her as she barely managed to reach for them. 

“My name is David Enriquez. What is this about?” He moved to Claire’s side, in case she passed out.

The Sheriff’s attention snapped to David, “You family?”

“Husband.”

Sheriff Chen turned back to Claire as he stepped inside. The other’s filed in, too, stepping around him. “You never told me you were married.” 

David snatched the warrant from Claire. She wasn’t even trying to read it.

Claire seemed to come alive. “We’re divorced, he just doesn’t see us that way.” Her eyes held an apology as she continued, “Sherrif, our sons are sleeping downstairs. Have some sympathy and wait until they’re gone?”

They were already rifling through the upper level when Chen snapped his fingers. “Johnson.”

It was 2 Warrants. One for Claire’s arrest. The other for the Search. “Claire, don’t talk.”

What did they have?

The only female Deputy appeared from the hallway, “Here, Sir.”

“Escort Mr. Enriquez downstairs. He’ll be taking the children with him. They’ll need a few things.” She nodded, then gestured to David in the most impatient way.

Claire gasped. That fear returned.

David was many things, but not calm. He could fake it, though. For her sake.

Softly, he reassured, “It’s going to be alright. I’ve got the boys. They’re safe. Keep quiet until you talk to your lawyer.”

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