Frisky Friday Flash Fiction

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Happy Friday! It’s been a good week. My husband and I are still recovering from COVID. His recovery is a lot slower than mine. He has more good days than bad. Unfortunately the bad ones, are his worst days. Keep him in your prayers. Me? I have a lingering cough that gets worse at night.

In SIX more days, the anthology, Goodbye Isn’t Forever, hits your e-reader!

Be sure to pick up your copy!


NEWS FOR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS: Starting next month, my newsletter will be combining with my alter ego’s. That’s great news for you! You’ll get more information, a monthly serialized story, and offers for other author’s books. Sounds like a win-win to me. The first combined edition will go out February 12th.

Not a subscriber? It’s not too late to sign up for SF Benson’s newsletter: https://view.flodesk.com/pages/5f47c5fdd2c00900262f5006

 

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The Secrets We Keep

Part Twenty-Eight

 

Casinda

Paul was right about the roads. It hadn’t snowed, but the rain overnight and the freezing temperatures made driving hazardous. Halfway to the Dollar General, I wanted to turn around and head back. Running away was an act of teens and people who weren’t too smart. Tiago and I were neither.

“You okay?” Tiago asked from the passenger seat.

“Yeah. I’m just wondering if we’re doing the right thing.”

Tiago exhaled. “How many times do we need to go over this? Look, you said it yourself. If I testify, I have to go into witness protection. We won’t see each other again. Is that what you want?”

“Of course not. It’s just…”

“What?”

I pulled into the parking lot of the discount store and cut the motor. “Paul has worked really hard to bring the two cops down. Without our help, they’ll continue their illicit acts. Same for your boss.”

“So?”

“So, how many more men need to die? Our staying quiet makes us complicit.” Honestly, I didn’t want that on my conscience.

Tiago ran a hand through his curls. “Honestly, I don’t care. As long as my life continues the way I want it, why should I worry about other people?”

My jaw slackened.

I knew my friend could be self-centered. I also realized that he appeared as cold to others. It was the first time I’d ever heard him be so indifferent. Tiago wasn’t always like that. As kids, he was the most caring guy I knew. At first, I found it attractive. When we tried to be a couple, his caring turned to overprotectiveness and that turned me off.

So what changed him?

“Listen, Cassie, you need to decide what you want. If you don’t want to do this, just say so. I’ll walk away. Take my chances on my own.”

And I’d never see him again.

“What do I tell Paul?”

“Tell him I went to take a leak and never came back.” Tiago faced me. “Your ex isn’t my concern. You are. It would kill me not to see you again, but I’d rather take that chance than testify. If I do that, my name won’t be worth shit. I’ll have a target on my back for every police officer in the state.”

I wanted to do the right thing. Morgan and Warren deserved to spend the rest of their lives in jail. That’s what happened to murderers—if they were lucky. But Tiago deserved to be happy. It didn’t seem like justice could be served at the same time.

“Well, what is it going to be, Cassie? If I get out of this car without you, there’ll be no looking back.”

Paul’s words ran through my mind.

Casinda, if you testify, you’ll suffer the same fate. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you like. Hell, I’ll give you the house.

Would I turn my back on my best friend just to help an ex-boyfriend?

Could I leave with myself if I allowed two men to continue killing at will and hiding behind a badge?

“Cassie?”

What if I could do both? Allow Tiago to enjoy his life and take down the cops? Maybe my testimony would be enough. Friends sacrifice for each other. 

I glanced at my friend. “Santiago, you know I love you, right?”

“You’re not going.”

“I-I can’t. If I stay, I can make sure Morgan and Warren serve time.”

“I’m still leaving.”

“If you don’t testify, you don’t need to.”

Tiago hesitated. “What do you mean?”

“We change our plan. I’ll sit down with the D.A. I’ve seen the pictures. You’ve told me the story. I’ll say I was the one who knew all the details. I’ll take the stand.”

He shook his head. “I can’t allow—”

“You’re not allowing anything. I’m volunteering.” I grabbed Tiago’s hand and squeezed it. “Paul said I can stay at his house.”

“If you don’t testify.”

“But nobody knows I’m there. I can testify and move in permanently. You can live there too.”

“And do what for income?”

“We’ll work for home. Form a new company with assumed identities. No one has to know, Tiago.”

“Paul will know.”

“But I trust him.” I hated admitting, but I did. If I hadn’t, I would have never gone to him for help.

Tiago gave me a sad smile. “I know you do. That’s the real problem.” He leaned across the console and kissed me.

My heart broke. It was the most passionate kiss, and undoubtedly the last one I’d ever have from him. 

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He dragged his lips away from mine. “Last chance, baby. Come with me. We can have a glorious life together.”

Yes, I was torn, but deep down, I knew Tiago had always been in love with Hollis. I was his back-up. Whatever we would have wouldn’t be real.

“Take care, Tiago.”

“You too, Cassie. I’ll stay in touch.” He quickly exited the vehicle and ducked into the store. 

I should have asked how he’d get to the train station, but Tiago was like a damn cat. He’d land on his feet. Somehow.

Cranking the engine, I headed back to the cabin.

 

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