Sunday, September 9, 2012

Homecoming Queen: Chapter 2

               It was a four and a half hour drive back to CC's home in Genesse, and much of that ride was spent in silence.  It became obvious to CC that she had next to nothing in common with Gabe Gunther.  He did not seem to want to talk about much of anything either.  Even went the pair stopped of lunch Gabe barely spoke.  CC did have a ton of questions about him that she had no clue how to broach.  She knew he had been an Army Ranger, but did not know why he left the military.  She did not know how she met the Doctors.  She did not know why he seemed to favor his left leg a bit when he did not think she was looking.  CC had never been shy, but she had not spent much time around many people as intimidating as Gabe.

They were about an hour away from their destination before Gabe started talking about the reason for their trip.  CC had phoned ahead and told her parents that she and a friend would be coming home for the weekend.  Gabe was happy to not have to be stuck in a motel.            
"You have that tablet thing of yours with you, right?"  He asked running his hand through is super-short blonde hair.
"Yeah, right here."  CC replied pulling her tablet from her travel bag that was sitting at her feet.
"It gets internet, right?"  Gabe shot the device a glance as CC brought it out of its sleep mode.
"Not very well when we're on the road.  We need a Wi-Fi spot."
"OK.  When you get a chance, look up the websites for the local news stations in Genesse and Nicholstown.  We're looking for anything weird that went on last night.  Include missing persons and violent crimes that don't have clear leads."
"Sure.  First chance I get."  CC was glad to get an order.  It made her feel useful in all of this.  Still, she felt nervous about the trip.  "Gabe?"
"You think this could get dangerous?  I mean..."
"Don't worry about that."  Gabe kept his eyes on the road, not bothering to look at the pretty young co-ed sitting next to him with worry plainly visible in her soft, hazel eyes.  "Things go bad; I'll take care of you."
The rest of the trip was quiet.  CC kept an eye on her tablet, but was not able to pick up a decent internet connection.  She also directed Gabe to her house. 
It was a nice suburban neighborhood which had not seen anything interesting happen in it since the Hansons one street over from CC's got caught sunbathing nude in their backyard.  This had been quite a shock to the neighborhood especially since the Hansons were both septuagenarians.  CC's home was a modest ranch house which had the exact same design as the majority of the other houses in the neighborhood.  It was CC's first trip home since leaving for college.
That's probably why CC's folks, Evan and Martha, were waiting on the porch for their arrival.  CC bolted from the car the moment it came to a halt and ran to her parents.  There was much hugging and quick chatter about how everyone was looking.  This chatter came to a complete halt the moment the Tuckers laid eyes on Gabe.  When their daughter had said she was bringing a friend home, they were not expecting a large muscular man of nearly forty.  Evan extended his hand a little tentatively.
"Evan Tucker.  CC's father."  He introduced himself trying to sound confident in front of the rather imposing figure in front of him.  As opposed to Gabe, Evan was a trim man who spent most of his time behind a desk working as accountant.
"Gabe Gunter.  Pleasure to meet you.  I appreciate you and your wife allowing me to stay here for the weekend."  Gabe shook Evan's hand.
"Yes... of course."  Evan was trying to maintain his composure, but it was obvious that he had not been expecting someone like the man his daughter had brought home.  "You do understand that you'll be staying in a separate bedroom yes?"
"Why wouldn't I be...?" Gabe was confused at first, but the pieces quickly fell into place.  He shot a look at CC.  "You did tell your parents that I'm here on business, right?"
"Don't deny our love."
"Tucker!"  Gabe looked angry, but CC could not help but laugh.  She then quickly cleared up the confusion explaining that Gabe worked for the university and there was something in town that he was checking out for one of her professors.  She was showing him around for extra credit.  Her mother briefed an audible sigh of relief.
CC put her bags in her old bedroom and Gabe stowed his things in the Tucker’s guest bedroom.  CC quickly set to the task of looking up anything strange in the local news on her tablet.  All the while her mother was asking her questions about college life and how CC had been adjusting.  CC kept her answers pleasant and did not mention the incident a month before.  Meanwhile, Gabe was getting a bit of interrogation of his own from CC’s father who wanted to ensure that the man visiting their home had no ulterior motives towards their only daughter.
“Gabe!”  CC called out.  “I think I found something.”  CC quickly read through some of a particular news story on the tablet.
“What are you looking at, dear?”  Martha Tucker peered over her daughter’s shoulder.  “Oh, that business with the Kinkaid boy?  You knew him, didn’t you?”
“What’ve you got?”  Gabe asked entering the room with Evan close behind him.
“It says here that Travis Kinkaid is missing.  They found his car out in a wooded area outside of Nicholstown.  Let me see that map, Doctor Amethyst gave you.”  Gabe went to the guest room to retrieve the map.  CC parent’s looked at her questioning.
“Who is Doctor Amethyst, dear?”  Evan Tucker asked.  He definitely saw a change in his daughter.  She had always been a capable and confident young lady, but now she seemed a bit more assertive.  The fact that she just told a man nearly twice her age what to do and he simply did it astounded him.
“He’s one of my professors that Gabe works for.”  It was a white lie.  Amethyst was not officially on of her professors, but she was certainly learning much from him.  Gabe returned with the map.  CC unfolded it and looked at the area at Amethyst had marked showing the ley line that had fluxed.  She looked up at Gabe.  “Same spot.”
“That would be a good place to start.  Your mother said you know the boy who disappeared.”
“He dated a friend of mine in high school.  We hung out a bit.  I’ve been to his house once or twice.”
“When were you at his house?” Evan asked, still a bit shocked.  At that moment his daughter being a boy’s house he did not know about was the only thing he could really hang on to.  “What is going on here?
“Anthropology studies.  The Doctors are looking into the effects of people disappearing warning and comparing how it affects people now with how it did in the past.  I do fact finding, and CC is helping me.”
“Oh.  Is she getting paid for this?”
“Yeah!  Am I?”  CC perked up.
Gabe felt a headache coming on.

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