Anthony sat on the airplane, sipping his vodka. He had stayed away from pool halls and liquor over the years but returning brought with it a whole bunch of emotions he was not sure he wanted to deal with.
The disappearances of so many of good people sickened him. He wondered if he had been there if it would have happened. The idea of someone abducting his wife's parents was abhorrent to him. He had managed to stay out of town and avoid finding out about family business because he knew it was for the best. So long as he stayed out of their lives he had been assured his family would be safe, protected. He had assumed that would extend to her family, but evidently he had been wrong.
Had he left, faking his death and breaking his vows so that those he loved would remain anonymous for nothing? He had never physically broken his vows. There would never be anyone for him but Kayla. As far as he was concerned she was still his wife and always would be. Instinctively, he found himself reaching for his left ring finger devoid of a wedding band for far too many years now.
He had no idea what had made him want to look now. For fourteen years he had cut his past life out as if it had been an extra limb he was able to leave behind. His superior had asked no questions when Anthony informed him he was taking some personal time. Anthony Hutchins had not taken a sick day or a vacation in all of his time with the Bureau.
When he was on undercover assignments, which until the past few months had been what he did, there were times he did not work every day but as far as officially Anthony had banked weeks of vacation time to this point. His boss was glad to see him go. Undercover agents get rotated usually every two to three years with the maximum typically being five. Anthony had refused to be rotated out, instead insisting on working his way deeper into the O'Boyle clan. It was the only way they were ever going to get anywhere if they truly wanted to get to the top of the family. If he had been rotated out it would have meant his leaving his family behind had been for nothing.
His supervisor claimed Anthony was a natural. He attributed it to his days before his marriage. The days when pool halls and bar brawls were the norm for him. He had hoped they would remain in his past, enjoying the kinder, gentler man he had become under the ministrations of a beautiful blonde. She was a natural care giver, becoming a nurse was the natural course of action for her to take.
He stroked the patch over his eye as the announcement came that they were beginning their descent. There were so many memories swirling around in his head he was not sure how to handle them. He had spent years pushing the memories to the back of his mind that it was like a tidal wave at the moment. He wondered if she still lived there. Was she remarried? Did his daughter have another father? Tears pricked at his one good eye and he quickly wiped them away with the back of his hand as he raised his tray table to its upright and locked position. A flight attendant came by to collect trash and he deposited his now empty cup into the bag.
The vodka had not helped calm his nerves or take the edge off at all. He was here to see if the police department had any leads, but he could not help but get excited at the possibility of seeing her again. It had been so long. They shared good times and bad times together but they had persevered and made it through. She had given him the happiest moments of his entire life in a matter of five years. She had married him and given him a child, a daughter. Anthony had never been too keen on the idea of a son. Boys were far too much trouble and he was not sure he would have made the same decision he had fourteen years ago if he had a son instead of a daughter. Leaving her alone to raise a boy by herself would have been asking a lot, not that she did not have brothers to help her.
"Thank you for flying Southwest," the flight attendant said as he departed the plane.
"You're welcome," he responded automatically as if she was really thanking him.
The rental car clerk was no better. "Welcome to Salem, enjoy your stay."
"Thanks," he replied and gathered his bags before stepping outside to find his car.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com