Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 11: Monica “Nic” Bryan — by Claire Collins

Sunday, December 23, 9:55am

Nic slammed the bathroom door.

How dare he tell her she couldn’t go to Rubicon Ranch.

She was an adult and she would go anywhere she wanted.

Seth was always a dedicated cop, even when he spent his down time fawning over women, while he was working, he was all business. No matter how many times or how sweetly she asked, he refused to let her go with him today as he went out to Rubicon Ranch to investigate. The night of the murder, he’d dropped her off at home before he made the trek out to crazyville to investigate.

She looped her blonde hair up into a messy bun and searched the vanity drawer for an elastic band.

If the murder hadn’t been enough, now there was a fire at the house where the body was found. Frio and Midget were both spending a lot of time out with the loonies, too.

Her hand stilled as she reached for the medicine cabinet door and caught her reflection in the mirror. The underlings were spending a lot of time on the case and others before it because Seth had been spending most of his time with her.

She set her jaw, frowning at the sap in the mirror before resuming the search for something to get her hair off her face. She’d fallen for his tricks too many times before. A little time, a little attention, and she’d be putty in his hands. Again.

She emitted a small sigh of triumph as she found a ponytail holder in the cabinet. She pulled the loose strands up from around her face and secured them on top of her head. From the shopping bag on the counter, she withdrew the black wig she wore every time she had ventured into Rubicon Ranch. She applied the purple lipstick – she couldn’t bring herself to put on the black lipstick she purchased. It was too bleak for her face. The purple was dark enough against her smooth clear skin to give her the deathly look she was going for.

She put in the dark brown contacts to cover her bright blues, then coated the edges around her eyes in black liquid eyeliner with a purple eye shadow. Fake lashes completed the transformation of her face. It wouldn’t be good if any of them, Seth, Frio, or Midget identified her.

Lt. Frio.  Thankfully, that dark bombshell seemed smart enough to see right through Seth’s sex appeal while still maintaining a healthy respect for his position. It was too bad that every woman couldn’t see through Seth the way Frio did. If they could, he never would have had the opportunity to cheat on her.

The reflection was a stranger. She needed to blend in with the crowds. She grinned, showing her perfectly straight, pristine white teeth. She never thought she’d dress like a goth girl to blend into a crowd. She stopped smiling and frowned. The Sinclair followers never smiled.

Her outfit consisted of a long black skirt and a baggy black pullover. She added a purple scarf to hide her long lean neck and black combat boots. She added red and purple bracelets and necklaces in varying lengths and thicknesses to add bulk to her svelte frame. Skeleton earrings dangled from her earlobes and a chain belt hung loosely around her waist, the length of the chain hung down over the front of her right thigh. A black trench coat covered the entire ensemble and a black riding hat with lace and feathers covered her head. If she pulled it down far enough and tipped her head the right way, no one could see her face. A slit in the side of the skirt allowed her access to the shorts she wore underneath the getup. She kept her keys and wallet in the shorts pocket, safe from any pickpockets or gropers in the crowd of freaks.

Her first trip to Rubicon was to meet with Nancy to see about renting one of the many houses Nancy owned in the neighborhood. She wore the black clothes that day but her wig was red and she didn’t wear the contacts. Nancy was a flighty irritating woman who thought she was much prettier than she really was. She had the type of attitude that all men wanted her and she could have any of them she wanted, then decided she was single because no man she’d ever met was good enough for her.

Nic hated women like that. Nic had only really loved one man her entire life and never really imagined herself with anyone else. And that one man had betrayed her and hurt her for as long as she could remember. She would never trust a man again.

She was in a house right in the heart of the craziness when Nancy suddenly said she’d be back and ran out of the house, leaving Nic inside. Nic dug her nails into her palms when she noticed the realtor waving down Seth’s vehicle. Thankfully, Nic had left her Mercedes in the grocery store parking lot where Nancy picked her up. The realtor said it would be quicker and easier to drive to the rental properties in one car.

As she watched through the window, Nancy ran up to Seth’s door. He rolled down the window and the realtor stuck her head in and kissed him. He smiled at her. They talked briefly while she grinned and flirted.

Seth drove off and Nic turned from the window as if she had been deciding where to place furniture when the realer entered the house.

“Sorry,” she gushed. “That was my boyfriend.”

Nic didn’t smile. The sullen, undead facade suited her at the moment and she stayed in character. She shrugged. “Can I paint the walls black?”

Nancy’s grin fell. “I’d rather you didn’t.”

Nic shrugged again.

They looked at a few houses that day but the realtor didn’t mention her “boyfriend” again. Nic assumed it was because she hadn’t taken the bait and encouraged the realtor. Without that support, having the local sheriff as your boyfriend seemed to lose its appeal.

Today, Nic was returning to Rubicon Ranch, but her disguise had to be top notch. A run in with anyone on Seth’s staff would raise questions.

Satisfied that her reflection looked nothing like her, she hid her bag under the boxes of shoes in her closet and cleaned up the bathroom. A few minutes later, she backed her Mercedes out of the garage. The dark windows would keep anyone from seeing her as The Goth Girl.

She parked on a side street a block west of Delano Rd. Then she slipped between two houses and right into the ungrateful dead carnival of Rubicon Ranch. She blended into the crowd, her eyes quickly located the massive height of Midget. He was standing in the front yard of the charred house talking quietly to Seth. Lt. Frio was talking to a zombie in the crowd, gathering witness statements. Nic kept her head down with her hat tipped and slipped back a few rows so the police force wouldn’t see her. She wanted to get closer so she could hear what they were saying but the fear of discovery kept her at bay.

The crowd was even stranger than usual. The fire seemed to spark something within them. Someone nudged her with an elbow. She turned to see a goth guy with facial piercings trying to hand her a joint. She shook her head and the guy shrugged and moved on. Nic shuddered at the thought of the ungodly places Goth Guy probably had pierced. She turned back in time to see Seth moving through the crowd in her direction. She ducked around and went the opposite way Goth Guy went. The last thing she needed was Seth busting her as a pothead.

She wound her way back through the crowd, stopping at the edge of the people. She stood on the sidewalk, watching the people swarm around the destruction. A news crew had arrived and the crowd swarmed around. Nic was satisfied for the moment, just watching how they all acted considering the damage to the home. The people were thriving on the destruction and the attention. Someone walked up alongside her so she took a step sideways to let the person  pass by. It was a woman dressed up except for the streaks of mascara and smoke down her face.

Nic lunged for the woman. She could feel her hands closing around Lydia’s neck as she slammed the woman’s head on the sidewalk. She took a step back as the women walked by unharmed. Nic wanted to. She really did. But she couldn’t reveal herself yet. What the hell was Lydia doing in Rubicon Ranch? Nic made a mental note to make sure Nancy wasn’t the last dead woman on the street.

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