Excerpt: Matters of the Heart

I stood across from my old friend, glaring at the gun pointed at me.

“Devin put that down. It’s over, you lost. Let me help you, please.” I begged, inching towards him. Devin’s finger curled around the gun’s trigger in response.

Everyone in the room tensed, waiting nervously for what would happen. Amy reached for Sally’s hand, while Benn moved to stand in front of President George and his three assistants. I kept a firm eye on Devin.

“You should know by now, Demitri, I always win. You kept the tiny human man alive for today, oh well. I’ll try again, some other day, some other place. A different planet, maybe?” Devin said, seeming unconcerned, but I knew him better than that. There was the twitch in his shoulder, the one he would always get when he was nervous.

“You won’t shoot me Devin, I know you too well. I’m not letting you shoot anyone else either. We have the building surrounded, guarded against you specifically, you can’t get out. Please stop all this. I can help you. Let me help you.” I pleaded. Walking the few steps to Devin, undeterred by the steady gun, I took it from his hand, clicking the safety on and, threw the weapon to a far corner of the room.

“You can’t help, Demitri. No one can help. What do you think you’re going to do now? Shove me in the scrap you call a ship? Trap me there for the rest of my life? You’ve always been the naive one, my friend. I won’t stop, I never will, and there is nothing you or your little defense force can do about it.” Devin taunts, though his words sound empty. I put my hand on his shoulder anything to keep him still, maybe even ground him. I just needed to shift my hand a little to touch his neck, then we could make this conversation more private.

“It’s only a trap if you believe it is. I want to help you, I have for a long time. But you won’t let me. You won’t let anyone. It could be so much fun; we could travel all the stars together. See so much together, have adventures like when we were boys.” I countered. Not reacting as Devin shrugged off my hand with a snarl, seeing right through what I was attempting.

“It sounds like hell to me.” Devin growled, showing himself to be every bit of the menacing terror most of the galaxy knew him as. I knew different though. I knew this was a farce brought on to deal with the clutter in his head. The noise that never gave him peace.

Devin backed up, stepping to the side as he prepared to wind into a tirade. A bang cut him off as he opened his mouth, red blossoming across his white dress shirt. Devin stared at his chest in shock as he fell towards me. I caught him roughly, lowering us both to the ground, unable to support Devin’s slack weight. I looked over my shoulder to see one of the president’s assistants standing on the other side of the room. A tiny slip of a man shaking for all his worth as he held the gun.

“No, no, no. Not like this. Come on Devin try to breath. You’ll be fine. We’ll get you help, hold on.” I whimpered, turning back to Devin, adjusting him to be as comfortable as possible. I pressed on the wound in a futile attempt to staunch the bleeding.

“It hurts, Demitri, so much. I can’t breathe. It hurts.” Devin said, his breath coming in gasps. He flailed slightly as he reached for my hand in comfort, something he hadn’t done in lifetimes.

“What did you do? He was unarmed, he couldn’t hurt us anymore. What have you done!” I roared, pinning the assistant with my gaze. I felt the rage curling under my skin as I felt Devin start to shake.

“I did what I had to. You heard him. You heard him as well as I did. He said he wouldn’t stop, and I believed him. Look at what he’s done already! How close he came to killing us all, and he’d do it again. This was the only way to stop it. I was protecting us! I was doing what I had to!” The assistant screeched, dropping the gun in his own fright.

He continued to babble as Benn pulled him to the side. Thankfully Sally led the president and the rest of his assistants out of the room. Amy stood where she was, digging in her purse for anything helpful.

“Well, look at this. I do win in the end. No life time imprisonment for me. Sorry, old friend, but this is the end of our little game, and you lose.” Devin wheezed. His body jerks uncontrollably as his breath faded. Slowly his shaking grew weaker.

“No, no, please, no. Hold on a bit longer, Amy’s a doctor, she can save you. Don’t leave me. I need you, please.” I said crying softly, tears streaming down my face as his beautiful gray eyes drifted shut.

I jerked out of the dream, nearly toppling out of my chair. I rubbed my stiff neck as I settled back into the uncomfortable chair. I glanced around the infirmary room that had become a home in the last few weeks. I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket and fumbled for it.

“Hello? Ah yes Shannon how are you this morning? How are the children?” I asked, suppressing a yawn. Shannon was a lovely woman, but I had learned never to let a politician’s secretary know you are anything other than in perfect health. They can sense weakness and will exploit it.

“Everyone is just fine, but you’re going to run out of charm eventually Demitri.” Shannon said, from the other end of the line, her keyboard softly clicking in the background as she typed up something.

“Hopefully I haven’t yet, and you’re calling to tell me the good news,” I said with a small laugh. Governor Dylan was the last I was waiting to hear from, and approval from him would tie up all of my problems.

“Yes, your charm is matched only by your luck. The governor has agreed to your plan to have the criminal taken in as a ward of your division, and no charges will be made at this time,” Shannon said. I sighed in relief, I could finally relax with that matter resolved.

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