Helen | Development 1

Helen | Development 1

Helen hopped off the bus well after ten p.m, hurrying through the cool, crisp evening. Her condo was in a run-down complex just outside of Valentine Village. It was Helen’s dream to live inside the gated community. On her morning walks, sometimes her feet would take her right up to the gate, twelve feet tall and decorated with wrought-iron hearts. Inside, she could see rows of brightly-painted houses, neat hedges, pristine sidewalks, and Corver City’s elite private school. To live in Valentine Village, you either came from old money, or had connections that Helen didn’t have.


Helen hated to admit it, but she’d gone into family medicine so that she could live in Valentine Village. She grew up looking over her shoulder and brandishing pepper spray as she walked herself home from school. Who could blame her for trying to climb the social ladder? She wanted to raise her kids in a cookie-cutter dream house with a green lawn, a big dog, and a white picket fence, no matter how basic and boring that life sounded. Unfortunately, Helen was slammed with student loans. It would be five years before she and Sam saved up enough money for a down payment. 


Until then, Helen was working as much as she could while Sam pulled doubles at the coffee shop. It was hectic, but Helen was exactly where she needed to be. Sure, she didn’t live in the Village, but she did have a clean apartment, stable job, and a partner who could always make her laugh with his dumb jokes.


Helen approached her condo, noticing some of the lights were still on, and unlocked the door. She could hear the TV playing in the bedroom, and when she went in, Sam was snoring on the bed. She chuckled and snuck away, trying not to wake him up.


There, they kept two pots of coffee, labeled CAF and DECAF. They’d been surviving on caffeine for months, but it was starting to give Helen heart palpitations. She’d developed a taste for coffee when she finished her residence, and now she craved it at all hours of the day, especially the steaming cups Sam brought back from Java Jungle.


Helen poured herself a generous cup of the decaf roast, flavoring it with caramel and chocolate from the fridge, and let herself process the events of the day.


Liam Landon had visited her again, complaining about a headache, insomnia, nightmares, and frequent dissociation. Last month, Helen had suggested melatonin and a mild headache medication, but they didn’t work. Today she had prescribed a more intense sleeping medication, but that wouldn’t fix the root cause. What if it didn’t work? Maybe she’d suggest the new cure-all drug coming from DarkWinds… it had federal approval and high consumer ratings. But the whole thing was strange. Liam had a normal blood pressure, oxygen level, and heart rate. The poor kid was in the prime of his life, and now he had a mystery malady that seemed to be affecting multiple teenagers in the Garland Grove area.


Helen sipped her coffee and padded to her room, sitting on the edge of the bed. It was nice to see Chase with a friend. He’d devoted his entire life to the law, which Helen admired, but you couldn’t always tackle cases alone. How had Braya been hurt? Helen was a mandatory reporter, but when she was off the clock, some things were better left unsaid. It was just a favor. 


On the news, a reporter droned on about Heathrow Heights. Helen didn’t care about Sebastian, the uber-famous CEO who seemed to be everywhere at once. But as she watched, she learned there had been a break-in. Two intruders were wanted for fleeing the scene. It was Chase and Braya!


Helen gasped. What had she gotten herself into?


One guard told reporters that he thought Chase and Braya were responsible for the kidnapping. Another claimed that Sebastian was safe, and it was just a publicity stunt. One kid, probably sixteen, theorized that Sebastian was kidnapped by an evil regime on the outskirts of the country, and the reporter laughed. Suddenly, the kid collapsed. A medic rushed forward, checking his pulse. Helen watched the reruns of the kid clutching his head as he lay on the ground. He reminded her too much of Liam Landon…


Helen’s coffee went cold. She drank it in three gulps and got ready for bed, her mind reeling. Tomorrow, Helen would call Chase and cash in that favor.

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