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Genre: Paranormal, Romance
“He was brought in yesterday,” the policeman explained. “Beach Patrol weren’t sure what to do with him – not sure of his mental state – and he didn’t actually commit any crime.”
Chloe walked with him down the long corridor. ”Inspector Bennett said he was found naked on the beach in the middle of the night, is that right?” she enquired.
“Yeah,” the policeman, Vuyo, shook his head. “No ID, no shoes, clothes, nothing. And his fingerprints, so far, have come up clean.”
They had reached the single cell at the end of the corridor and Chloe focused her mind on the task ahead. The man was sitting on the cold concrete floor, leaning back against the grimy wall. He looked up as Chloe and Vuyo approached.
“We’ve brought someone to see you,” Vuyo’s voice sounded harsh, which surprised Chloe, as she knew him to be a kind man. “This lady is a counsellor, sent here to help you, so make sure you behave yourself.”
Chloe’s senses sharpened. The light in the cell was dim, but not dim enough to hide the harsh planes of the man’s face. She stared into his pale blue eyes and felt her professional mask slip – not just because of their strange and unusual colour, but because they were the coldest eyes she’d ever seen – and she’d seen plenty. She dragged her gaze away from him as Vuyo unlocked the gate.
“You want me to come inside with you?” he asked softly.
Chloe hesitated for a second; then shook her head. Speaking to suspects in front of the police was a waste of time. “No thanks Vuyo, I’ll be fine,” she said with more confidence than she felt.
The gate banged closed behind her and Vuyo turned his back on them, folding his arms and leaning back against the bars.
The cell was small and very basic. A single metal framed bed, covered with a scratchy brown blanket, was set against one wall, a stainless-steel toilet in the corner and a small barred window, which Chloe knew faced the barren courtyard of the police station. She shivered, this was not a pleasant place to be, and in spite of the warm African sun outside, she knew it would be cold in this miserable cell at night.
Chloe sat down on the edge of the bed and tried not to stare at the man sitting on the floor opposite her. He was wearing an off-white, cotton shirt and faded, baggy jeans, which someone must have dug out of the lost property box. His shirt was unbuttoned and though his knees were bent in front of him, she couldn’t help but notice the lean, hard muscles of his chest and stomach. Despite the ill-fitting clothes; with his smooth olive skin, thick dark hair and the harsh beauty of his face, he reminded Chloe of a male model straight out of a glossy magazine. His relaxed posture only added to the illusion, but as he stared back at her, through hooded, hard eyes, Chloe knew instinctively that the laid-back pose was just that – a pose.
“My name is Chloe Webster and I’m a counsellor here at Sea Point police station,” she managed to keep her voice steady as his strange, pale eyes moved over her – not missing a thing – from her fair hair scraped back in a pony tail to her over-sized shirt and combat pants. She always wore loose clothes when she visited the station, in fact she always wore baggy clothes full stop. The Chloe who once wore feminine short skirts and tight fitting jeans, seemed like a different person from a different lifetime.
Chloe forced her mind back to the present. “Can you tell me your name?”
He continued to stare at her, until she thought he was not going to answer at all, and then, finally, he spoke. “You can call me Zack.”
His voice was low with a gravelly edge to it that sent shivers down Chloe’s spine. “And your surname – Zack?”
There was another long silence, his eyes slid away from her, staring up at the barred window. ‘It doesn’t matter.”
Chloe let out a long, slow breath. Hoping that he couldn’t notice how tense and aware of him she actually was. But then his piercing eyes focused on her again and she knew in her bones that he noticed everything.
“Ok.” She shrugged. “Do you remember how you came to be found on the beach – without any clothes or possessions?’
“Not exactly,” he leaned his head back against the grubby wall, still watching her. “But that’s to be expected.”
She was trying to place his accent and for a moment didn’t register his cryptic reply. The accent was unusual, definitely not South African, perhaps American like herself?