Alpha's Irresistible Neighbor

By: J.P. Comeau

“Don’t worry about it at all. I’ll leave the scrapbook on the kitchen table!”

As I slowly turned back toward the television screen, the live newscast that had interrupted the local news station had a frozen picture of that fucker’s face on it. His beady little eyes stared directly into the camera, and the smallest shadow of a grin played on his cheeks.

“I hope you rot in solitary for what you’ve done to people I love,” I murmured.

Then, I picked up the remote control and refused to give that bastard anymore of my time and energy.

I couldn’t get it out of my head, though. Even as I cleaned up the kitchen table and left the scrapbook out for them to flip through should they feel the need for a distraction, I couldn’t help but picture that man’s face as I headed out to my car. For someone being portrayed as a psychopath, he seemed very put together. Very “in tune” with why he was doing this to my family.

The only solace I had was the fact that the man would never have parole. He’d never have another chance to shine among the people of this planet.

And for us, that would simply have to be enough.

“I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore, Mikael.”

“Well, that’s fine, beautiful, because it’s over. He’s going to prison for the rest of his life, and he won’t ever get out.”

“How do you know that? How do you know he won’t manipulate those guards and appeal his case?”

“Good behavior isn’t something men like him know. They’ll never let him out.”

As I placed my hand on top of the closed scrapbook on the glistening kitchen table, I wanted to rush up the stairs and take them both into my arms. I wanted to rock Penny back and forth as she cried all of the tears that hadn’t yet been shed. I wanted to cuddle up next to my cousin and let him rant and rave, speaking the unspeakable just so he could get the anger out of his system.

But, I simply chose to give them their privacy as I gathered my things and headed back out the front door.

I figured it would feel different than this.

As I plugged in the address for the townhouse I had rented for myself, that one statement kept swirling around in my head. I figured there would have been some sort of relief that came with the man’s conviction. Some sort of unexplainable happiness that simply bubbled forth. But, there was none of that. No rejoicing. No hugging. No special dinner outing to celebrate no longer having to look over our shoulders.

There was just… emptiness.

“I need a drink,” I murmured to myself.

As I traveled onward toward my temporary destination getaway, I pulled into a small grocery store parking lot. I needed wine, and lots of it. And maybe some chips, too. My stomach growled out for everyone to hear as I walked up and down the aisles, piling everything from fresh milk and cereal boxes to steaks in my cart.

I didn’t want to venture out if I didn’t have to.

At least, not for a few days, anyway.

Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt. Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt.

I picked up my vibrating phone. “Hello?”

“Hey there,” Mikael said.

I sighed as I pulled off to the side next to the sour cream. “Hey yourself. How’s Penny?”

“She’s—well, you know.”

I nodded softly. “Then, how are you?”

His sigh was even heavier than the last. “This should feel good, right? Him being put away?”

I shook my head as I reached in for some squeezable sour dairy. “It should, yes.”

“So, why doesn’t it feel that way?”

I shrugged. “Because everyone that has gotten wrapped up in this now has to contend with emotions they put on the back burner in order to survive. It’s going to take some time before rejoicing happens.”

He chuckled. “You sound like Detective Walker.”

“I feel like I should take that as a compliment, but he’s pretty much an asshole.”

“Yes, he is. But, he’s a brilliant asshole, and he’s never once steered me wrong.”

I turned down the candy aisle and my mouth started watering. “Is there anything I can do for you guys?”

“No, no. At least, not today. Thank you for leaving the scrapbook, though. I know Penny’s going to enjoy flipping through it.”

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