The Philadelphia streets were unusually quiet this time of morning. The sunlight peeked through the one bedroom apartment. The blare of an alarm interrupted the stillness as Chris Matthews turned in bed to face his wife. He admired her beauty then softly kissed her awake.
“Good Morning?” Sarah said with a sleepy smile. “Morning. How did you sleep?” Chris wiped a strand of hair from her face. “I haven’t slept that good in ages.” “Well, you deserve it. Do you have some work to finish up today?”
Sarah sat up and dangled her feet off the side of the bed, “Yes I do, but I want to not work too late.” “Get back in bed. I have something for you.” Chris said putting on his t-shirt and jeans which were on the floor beside the bed.
“I have to go to the bathroom.” Sarah laughed, as she walked into the master bathroom and shut the door behind her. “I have to pick up your surprise from down the street.” Chris grabbed his keys and wallet from the nightstand and walked into the living room. “Honey?”
Sarah pulled her hair into a messy bun and leaned against the entryway to the living room, “Yeah?” “Did you want a cup of tea? I’m about to make some for myself.” “Sure, herbal tea please.” “Coming right up.”
Sarah sat on the living room couch and turned on the television. Changing the channel to a local news station, her mind went to the novel she was working on. She was an independent author. She loved the freedom, but there were challenges too.
She was in the middle of the fourth book in a series and couldn’t figure out what to write next. Her phone buzzed on the coffee table in front of her. It was an email from one of her beta readers who gave their feedback on a recent chapter she sent them. As Sarah went to respond, her husband walked into the living room with her tea.
“Thanks,” Sarah said with a smile. “I’m going to head out,” Chris said as he lifted his jacket from the coat hanger near the front door and slipped it onto his shoulders. “What about your tea?” Sarah stood and handed him his hat from the coffee table.
“Thanks, I’ll drink it when I come back. At most I’ll be back in 15 minutes.” “Okay. I love you.” “I love you too.” Chris kissed Sarah on the lips and left the apartment.
Sarah went back to their bedroom and put on her white fluffy robe as the house felt chilly without Chris around. Sarah started to make the bed as she heard the front door open. Letting go of the sheet, she walked into the living room “You got back quick. Is everythi- Who…who are you?”
Sarah's eyes widened as she faced the barrel of a gun. A man in a black jacket, jeans and a ski mask smirked at her and said: “I’m your worse nightmare.” Sarah opened her mouth to scream, but only a sob was heard. Her vision blurred as the intruder hit her with the gun. She fell into the coffee table and her teacup shattered as it hit the living room floor.
Sarah felt a pressure in her head as she slowly opened her eyes. The blinding white light wasn’t helping, so she closed her eyes hoping the pain would lessen, but that didn’t work. She could hear shouting in the hallway, but she couldn’t figure out who it was, or what they were saying.
The voice sounded muffled. Sarah opened her eyes once again and turned her head to face the partially opened door.
Now that she thought of it, she couldn’t figure out where she was. She glanced down and ran her hand over the white blanket which covered her. Lifting the blanket off she only wore a paper-thin hospital gown. Bruises covered her arms and legs as she tried to piece together why she was in a hospital.
Sarah tucked herself back into the blanket then looked around the room. A bag of medicine hung from a metal stand on the right side of her bed. Towards the end of the room, there was a television mounted to the wall, on a small table where a bouquet of flowers that brought color to the white painted walls.
Sarah went to sit up in bed, but her body collapsed and she had to lay back down. Pain shot up from her back, through her neck and to the rest of her body. She pressed the nurse call button as tears sprung to her eyes. She wanted the nightmare to end because she hoped this wasn’t her reality.
A nurse walked into Sarah’s room a few minutes later, shutting the door behind her. “Hi, Mrs. Matthews. You’re awake.” “My head and back are killing me,” Sarah said in a raspy voice. “Let me get another bag for your IV. While I do that would you like a cup of water?”
“Yes. Thank you.” Sarah grabbed the plastic cup filled with lukewarm water from the nurse. Taking a few sips she felt a burning sensation in her throat. As the nurse changed Sarah’s IV bag she said: “Some detectives are here to see you.”
Sarah tried to sit up in bed, but once again to no avail. The nurse helped Sarah lay back down then stood at the foot of the bed, “I can lift the back of the bed for you if that would help.” “Sure,” Sarah said gripping onto the bed’s sheets as the nurse lifted the bed using an electronic remote. “Is that better?”
“Yeah. Thanks.” “The detectives will be with you in a few minutes. I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Renee.”
“Hi, I’m Sarah.” Renee smiled as she handed Sarah another blanket, “Sometimes these rooms can get chilly. I’ll let the detectives know you’re awake. Don’t hesitate to press the call button if you need anything.” “Thanks,” Sarah said as she laid the blanket over herself.
The shouting continued when Renee opened the door and left the room. Looking out the door Sarah caught a glimpse of her husband Chris, yelling at someone who just stood there and didn’t respond back. Two detectives walked into the room and Sarah caught the tail end of their conversation in the hallway, “But she’s my wife.”
Sarah furrowed her eyebrows and looked at the detectives, “David? What are you doing here?” “We have a case.” “Yeah, I figured that, but that doesn’t answer my question. Also, how did you know I was even here?” “Chris called.” “He did?”
“Do you know what happened?” “No…no I don’t.” Sarah swallowed and stared at the white wall at the end of the room. David walked over to Sarah’s bed and looked her in the eye, “You’re one of my closest friends and a wonderful sister to me. I wouldn’t tell you this if it wasn’t true.” David took a deep breath, “You were raped.”
“What?” “I’m so sorry.” David took a step back to allow Sarah to process. “Did you catch the guy?” “No, we’re working on it.” “Then why are you here!?” “We have other detectives looking for him. Detective Rose Atwell and I just want to get your statement.”
“I don’t remember anything.” “That’s okay.” Rose said walking over to Sarah, “What's the last thing you remember?” “Well, I woke up around five in the morning. My husband Chris made me some tea then he left. He was picking up a surprise for me.”
“Do you know what day this was?” “This morning?” “It’s actually been a week. You’ve been in and out of consciousness.” “Really?” Sarah closed her eyes for a moment as tears ran down her cheeks. “A week of my life has gone by and I can’t remember anything.”
“Do you remember what happened after your husband left?” “I…I get cold easily and I’m always borrowing Chris’s jacket. So, I went into our bedroom and put on my robe. Then I decided to make the bed, just something to do to pass the time. I don’t know how much time past, but I heard the front door open...
I walked into the living room to see what Chris wanted. Only it wasn’t him. A strange man was in my apartment and he…”
Sarah started to cry, but after a few moments she composed herself enough to speak, “I’m sorry.” Rose handed Sarah a box of tissues, “It’s okay take your time.”
Taking a deep and shaky breath Sarah continued, “He pointed a gun to my face. I’ve never been, so terrified in my life. I…I tried to scream, yell for help, just say something. But I could only cry. Then he hit me with the gun, that’s all I remember. I’m so stupid.”
David stood behind Rose “You’re not stupid. It’s not your fault.” “Isn’t it!?” Sarah said shaking her head in disgust with herself. “You’ve been a detective for how many years? I should know better. I know how to protect myself.”
“You did nothing wrong, Sarah.” “I couldn’t even protect my baby.” “Baby?” David said looking at Sarah and then Rose. Sarah placed her hand on her stomach, “I just found out the other day. I took three pregnancy tests and they were all positive. I was going to tell Chris the day of the attack.”
“Congratulations,” Rose said squeezing Sarah’s hand. “Thanks. Is everything okay with my baby? Renee, I believe her name was, didn’t tell me anything.” Sarah said breathing heavier than before, “We’ve been trying to have a baby for so long.”
Rose walked toward the door, turned to Sarah and said, “I’ll get the nurse to make sure everything is okay.” Rose softly smiled at Sarah and left the room.
“David?” “Yes?” “Can you turn on the TV?” “Are you sure you don’t want to talk more?” “Yeah. I just don’t want to be alone.” “I won’t leave you,” David said as he turned on the television.
A local news station popped on the screen, “Police are still looking for Frank Eyler. The man who is believed to have attacked and sexually assaulted five women in the past two weeks. If you a have seen him please call-” “I’ve seen him before,” Sarah said running her shaky hand through her hair.
“What?” David turned his body to face Sarah. “Yeah. I went to my favorite coffee shop, Hygge Cafe a couple of weeks ago. It’s across the street from my apartment building. As I was leaving he just kept staring at me. I thought it was odd, but I just brushed it off.”
David took out his phone and walked towards the door, “let me call the precinct and tell them what’s going on.” Renee walked into the room just as David was leaving. She wore a mournful expression and said: “I’m so sorry.”
“What’s wrong?” Sarah said placing her hands on her stomach, hoping maybe the news she was going to hear wouldn’t be what she thought. “You were carrying twins and one of them passed away.”
“I was having twins?” Sarah said closing her eyes briefly. “Yes.” “Can you get my husband?” “Sure.” Renee said walking out of the room and tapped David on the shoulder, “Detective are you done?”
“Yes.” David said covering his phone as he stood in Sarah’s room, “I’ll stop by tomorrow to talk to you more.” Sarah just nodded her head as David left the room. Chris ran over to her. He had bags under his eyes and they were red and puffy. “Did they tell you?” Sarah said holding onto Chris, never wanting to let go.
“They did.” “What are we going to do? Why did this happen?” Sarah cried into Chris’s chest. Probably staining his shirt with her tears, but she didn’t care. He was finally there and that's all that mattered. She couldn’t think about what was going to happen tomorrow or the weeks ahead. She could only focus on the present moment.
There was glass everywhere. Sarah's hand shook as she stared at the wooden floor in her kitchen. She arrived home from the hospital two weeks earlier. The glass cup which held her ice tea was shattered on the floor.
"I picked up the ice cream. They didn't have plain peanut butter, so I brought you peanut butter and chocolate swirl. I hope that's okay." Chris said putting the brown paper bag on the kitchen counter. "Sarah are you alright?" he asked placing his hand on her shoulder.
Sarah took a few deep breaths before turning to face him, "I'm sorry. You said something about ice cream?"
"Yeah. I brought you peanut butter and chocolate swirl, they didn't have just regular peanut butter." He said grabbing a broom and dustpan from a nearby closet. "I got it," Sarah said taking the broom and dustpan from Chris's hands. As she began to sweep Sarah said,
"You don't have to keep staring at me. I'm okay, just put the ice cream away or something." Sarah scoffed.
"But I-" Chris said shaking his head as he put the ice cream and other groceries away. Silence filled the air and Chris looked around the apartment. Their master bedroom and bathroom were the only rooms untouched since Sarah returned from the hospital.
The glass coffee table was gone along with the couch which Chris had replaced with two lounge chairs. The brand new television was mounted to the wall instead of on a stand.
Chris cleared his throat not wanting to scare Sarah, then stood next to her as she washed her hands at the kitchen sink, "I'm sorry." "For what?" Sarah said drying her hands on a kitchen towel. "I shouldn't have slammed the door when I got home."
"You just startled me. I'm okay." "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm fine. You don't have to walk on eggshells when I'm around." "I just miss you and I'm sorry I wasn't there for you. It's just that-" Chris's phone rang in his pocket as he hesitated to pick it up.
"Answer it," Sarah said as she walked out of the kitchen and into their bedroom. "Hello?... Yes, this is him... You do?... Umm now?... Let me see if she's awake... Okay... Thanks bye." Chris put his phone in his pocket as he wondered what to do next. His wife was probably laying down and not asleep.
He didn't want to disturb her, but he thought this news would help. Chris slowly opened the door to their bedroom. Sarah was laying on her side of the bed facing the large window where you could see the city.
"Hey, Sarah?" Chris asked sitting at the opposite end of the bed. "Yes?" Sarah didn't turn around as she wiped a tear from her cheek. "I have some good news." "What is it?" Sarah said sitting up in bed as she lifted the quilted comforter up to her chest.
"One of the detectives Adam Darwood just called. He said they have Frank Eyler in custody." "That's great," Sarah said with a half smile. "What's wrong?" "Do they want me down at the station?"
"He said they have a few questions." "Haven't they asked me enough?" "I'm guessing they have more information." "When do they need me there?" "As soon as you can." "I'll be ready in a few."
"Do you need anything?" Chris said as he looked at his wife who was picking out a pair of sweatpants and a sweater from the closet.
"No, I'm okay. I'll meet you in the living room." Sarah said shutting the bathroom door. Chris sighed as he walked out of the room. ****
The cab ride took longer than expected. Sarah took Chris's hand as he helped her out of the cab. The wind blew through Sarah's hair as she folded her arms over her chest. "Are you ready to go in?” Chris said pulling Sarah close to him. "I don't really have a choice. I just want this man to go to prison."
"Let's go then." Chris softly smiled as they walked into the precinct. "You're such a-" A man yelled as he held onto the bars of the holding cell. "I'm detective Adam Darwood. I'm sorry about that. Come this way please." Adam said as he led Sarah and Chris to an interview room at the end of the hall.
"Would you like some coffee?" "Is it decaf? I'm pregnant." Sarah said with a smile. "I think there's some. Give me a moment." Adam said as he left the room. Chris turned to Sarah, "How are you feeling?" he placed his hand over Sarah's hand.
"I'm nervous," Sarah said moving some of her hair behind her ear. "I just don't know what more they have to ask me." A few minutes later Adam walked back into the room with two cups of coffee, "Here's your coffee. Rose Atwell is bringing in some water.
Not a moment later Rose walked in with the water and a folder. "Here's some water for you both," Rose said with a smile. "Thanks." Sarah and Chris said in unison. As Adam and Rose settled themselves at the table Adam said, "I'm sure you know why you're here?"
Sarah was quiet for a moment, before gathering her words. "Yeah. Uh... my husband said you had a few more questions to ask me. And Frank Eyler is in custody." "Yes, we do have Frank Eyler in custody," Adam said looking over some papers Rose handed to him. "We just wanted to clear a few things up."
"What's there to clear up?" Sarah furrowed her eyebrows and held Chris's hand even tighter. Rose spoke up, "Sarah, the day you were attacked you said you don't remember what he looked like." "Yes, you're correct." "Any tattoos or anything?" Rose looked at Sarah sympathetically.
"Well, he had this tattoo on the inside of his wrist..." Sarah closed her eyes as images of that day flashed in her mind. "Sarah... honey... it's not real. You're having a flashback. Breathe in and out with me... There you go." Chris said staring at his wife.
Sarah let go of the breath she didn't know she was holding and slowly opened her eyes. "Where's Adam and Rose?" "Adam got called to another case and Rose is taking a call from the lab." Sarah didn't respond she just took a few sips of her water. Rose walked into the room with David behind her.
"I thought David was off the case?" Sarah said looking at the two detectives. "He is," Rose said glancing at David. "I just wanted to be here when she told you the news, " David said as he sat in a chair near the end of the table. "What news?"
"Frank Eyler isn't the man who raped you." "What?! How?!" Sarah stood up a little too quickly and felt dizzy. She closed her eyes to gain some sense of balance before opening them and clenching her fists. "We looked at the security footage from your apartment building and he never entered your building."
"But... he was staring at me in the cafe and Frank has that tattoo. What about the DNA evidence?"
"The lab messed up the DNA samples, so we can't use it. And the tattoo..." Rose slid over a paper to Sarah with mugs shots of at least a dozen men. "All of these men have the same tattoo as Frank."
"So..." Chris stood up, trying to edit the words that were coming out of his mouth. "So, you're telling me my wife went through all of this and she won't get justice?!"
"No, that's not what we're saying. We do have surveillance video of a few men entering and leaving your apartment building on the day of your attack with the same tattoo as Frank. We're in the process of looking for them now."
"You don't know where any of them are?" Sarah said slipping on her coat and putting her purse across her shoulder. "When you find them call me!" Sarah stormed out of the room, leaving her husband and the detectives behind.
Taking the elevator down to the first floor a man holds the door open for her. Sarah nodded to him as a sign of saying thank you. She noticed a tattoo on his hand, the same as Frank's. Sarah walked onto the busy sidewalk and thought, I'm probably just imagining things.
Everything was silent as Chris looked out of the interview room. He thought about running after Sarah and telling her that everything would be okay. He just needed to get things straightened out at the precinct. “What are the next steps?” Chris said looking at David and Rose.
“Well…” Rose said sitting at the table “We have to search for all of the potential suspects.” “I thought all of the people you showed Sarah were suspects?” “They’re not. Each of these men has the same tattoo. But we have to see where each of them are at.
“How long will that take?” “I’m not sure. We’re short staffed, so we’ll be finding and questioning the men as soon as possible.” “What should I do in the meantime?” Chris said shrugging his shoulders. “Find Sarah. Try to help-”
Rose was interrupted by a knock on the door. Adam opened the door slightly and said, “I’m sorry to interrupt you. David, Greg Finch is here to see you.” “Can you let him know I’ll be right out?” “Sure.” Adam shut the door as David turned back to Chris and said, “Go talk to Sarah and comfort her.”
Chris looked down at the floor, sighed, then said, “I just feel like it’s my fault.” Rose cleared her throat and then said “You had nothing to do with what happened to Sarah. What matters is that you are with her now.”
“But it is my fault, I’ve been having problems with our apartment door. The lock is off centered, so I have to almost slam the door to shut it. The morning of the incident with Sarah I don’t think I shut the door hard enough.”
“Did you call your landlord?” Rose said combing her fingers through her shoulder length hair. “I did several times. But our landlord is a person you have to keep pestering in order to get anything done.” “Did you ever get it fixed?”
“I called a company to look at it. I figured I’ll discuss the changes to the landlord at a later date. They fixed the door, but after a few days, I still had issues with it. I called the company, I believe it’s called Fixing Doors and More.
When I called them their number was disconnected. Then I looked them up online and there was nothing. It’s as if they don’t exist.” “Do you remember the name of the person who came to your apartment to fix your door?”
Chris opened up the messaging app on his phone and scrolled through his many messages, “His name is Ben. They didn’t give any other details.” Rose wrote down the company’s information on a pad of legal paper, then said “Thank you so much. This is helpful.”
“Really?” “Yes.” Rose said standing up, “I’ll talk to some people to see if we can find the company. I do have some theories, but I don’t want to say anything just yet. Just go find Sarah and be there for her the best you can. I’ll contact you if there’s anything else.”
“Alright thank you.” “You’re welcome. Chris briefly smiled at Rose before leaving the precinct in search of his wife. ****
David walked out of the interview room as his thoughts were about his sister Sarah. He needed to find justice for her. They were close, but with his job, they didn’t see each other as much as they use to.
He wanted to find her rapist as soon as possible. David’s thoughts were diverted as he saw Greg Finch standing near his desk. “Hey man. I haven’t seen you in a while.” Greg said shaking David’s hand. “Yes, it has been a long time. What brings you here?”
“I’m here to look for a new home base for my company.” “No, I mean what are you doing in the precinct,” David said with a laugh. “Oh, my bad. I saw this in the paper.” Greg handed David a newspaper clipping of a story that was written about Frank.
“What about the story?” David grew more curious. “Well, the tattoo he has is the same one that I have.” David eyes widened as he said, “How and where did you get the tattoo?” “What do you mean?”
“Let’s talk in one of the interrogation rooms.” “I’m not under arrest am I?” Greg said in a defensive tone. “No you’re not, I just want to ask you a few questions. Follow me please.”
As Greg followed David he ran into Rose. Papers fell out of her hands and onto the floor, “Oh my gosh I’m so sorry.” Greg said bending down as he helped Rose pick up the papers. “It’s okay.” “No, really I’m sorry.”
“No need to apologize,” Rose said as Greg held out his hand to help her stand up. “Thanks.” “I know this is forward, but I was wondering if you wanted to go out for coffee sometime.”
“Umm…” Rose said looking over Greg’s shoulder to see David looking at her with a puzzled look on his face. “I don’t-” “Rose can you come over here a minute…” She hears one of the detectives calling her.
“Well, it was nice talking to you,” Greg said as he grinned and winked at Rose. “Sure,” Rose said quickly before frowning then walking away. David leads Greg into an interrogation room and Greg sat at one of the metal chairs facing the one-way glass window.
“Would you like something to drink?” David said near the partially open door. “Just some water.” “Sure, I’ll be right back.” David left Greg as he walked into the break room and grabbed a cold bottled water from the fridge.
“Something about him doesn’t sit right with me.” David dropped the water on the floor, picked it up and then turned to Rose, “Can you not scare me like that?” David said with a laugh. “Sorry, David. That man just creeps me out.”
“What do you mean?” David questioned leaning against the fridge. “It’s his demeanor. I don’t know, it’s just something about him. When he bumped into me and my papers fell he helped me up. Then he asked me out. I didn’t know what to say, but when I left he winked and oddly smiled at me.”
“Did you say yes?” “No. You know you’re the only one for me.” Rose said with a smile on her face and briefly rolled her eyes. “Greg wouldn’t harm a fly.” “Why is he here anyway?”
“He saw the article in the newspaper about Frank Eyler. Plus he has the same tattoo as Frank.” “What!?” “I’m not sure how or when that happened. I’ll ask him when I interview him.” “You’re off the case.”
“Maybe I can talk to him, just not about the case. Hopefully, he’ll tell me something we can use.” “How?” “I’ve known him for a few years. We went to the police academy together, but he left to start a company.”
“What’s the name of the company?” “I’m not sure I’ll ask him.” “Well see what you can find out.”
“Alright,” David said as he walked back to the interrogation room. Greg was gone. David then walked toward the main hub of the precinct and shouted, “Where is he?!” “Who?” Adam said looking up from his computer.
“Greg Finch.” “He said he had an emergency at his job.”
David left the precinct and ran down a few flights of stairs and out the double doors of the police headquarters. He looked out of the Philadelphia streets and all he saw were a sea of people. He stood against a concrete wall and said aloud to himself, “Rose was right. We need to find him.”
Sarah thought about the man’s tattoo as she briskly walked down the Philadelphia sidewalk. The tattoo wasn’t in the same place as the man who did that horrible thing to her. “Maybe I was wrong,” Sarah said to herself as she walked into a diner a few blocks away from the precinct.
She chose a table at the back and she noticed the place was empty for it being only 2:00 in the afternoon.
A waitress warmly smiled as she approached Sarah’s table and said “Hi I’m Zoey and I’ll be your waitress today. Would you like to start with something to drink?" “Do you have decaf tea?”
A waitress warmly smiled as she approached Sarah’s table and said “Hi I’m Zoey and I’ll be your waitress today. Would you like to start with something to drink?" “Do you have decaf tea?”
“I can check. Would you like something else if we don’t have it?” “Lemonade.” “Would you like to order your food as well?”
Sarah thought back to the last time she ate. Probably a few hours ago. She didn’t have an appetite, but she needed to eat for her baby. “Is it too late for breakfast?”
“No. We serve breakfast all day.” Sarah skimmed over the menu before continuing, “Can I have the number seven special? With two eggs, toast, hash browns, and sausage.” “How do you want your eggs cooked and what kind of bread would you like?” “Scrambled eggs and rye bread.”
Zoey nodded her head as she wrote Sarah’s order on a notepad, “I’ll have everything ready for you in a few minutes.” “Thanks.”
Sarah took out her phone from her purse. As she opened a writing app it was flooded with hundreds of notifications. She skimmed some of the comments and messages as her eyes brimmed with tears, “The chapter ends with a cliffhanger that’s so messed up” one comment read.
Then another message read, “Sarah, I’m so disappointed. You said we would have an update over a month ago and there’s nothing. I’m so upset.”
Sarah read comment after comment and message after message. Although there were plenty of positive people telling her they hoped all was well, she could only focus on the negative.
Sarah thought about telling her readers why she hadn’t updated in weeks. She was unsure of how to approach the topic because she hadn’t fully accepted what happened to her almost a month ago.
“Here’s your lemonade and food,” Zoey said with a smile. “Thanks,” Sarah said as she turned her phone face down because she wanted to enjoy her meal in peace. “Can I get you anything else?” Zoey said putting her hands into her apron. “No that’s all.” “Just wave for me if you need anything.”
“Thank you.” Sarah watched as Zoey walked away then took a bite of her food. She could hardly keep anything down lately, so she hoped things would change with this meal. Her phone vibrated on the table, but she refused to pick it up.
She just needed time to think and process everything that’s been going on. Sarah loved her husband Chris and his support for her. Since she’s been home from the hospital room and its over-saturated white walls, she hasn’t had to lift a finger. She didn’t have the energy to anyway.
Sarah took a few sips of her lemonade as a bell rang by the front door. A man with an almost deer in headlights expression briskly entered the diner. He looked at Sarah and his face softened. Sarah quickly looked away and picked up her phone not wanting this strange man to approach her.
There were two missed calls and a voicemail from Chris. He also sent her multiple texts wondering where she was.
“Can I catch a break?” Sarah whispered to herself as she texted him back, I’m at a diner a little ways from the precinct. Don’t wait up. I just need some time. Sarah glanced up from her phone as the strange man was standing by her table and said, “Um… is anyone sitting here?”
“No, but-” The man sat down opposite to her and said “Thanks. I’ve had such a rough day.” He flagged down Zoey and she had a confused look on her face as she approached their table. “Hi sir, can I get you anything?”
“Just a strong black coffee.” “Would you like anything?” Zoey said looking to Sarah. Sarah gazed down at the table with a slouched posture, “Just the check.”
Zoey raised her eyebrows before continuing “Sure…I’ll bring it right out. Would you like a box for your food?” gesturing to Sarah’s half empty plate. “Yeah, thanks.”
Zoey grabbed a takeout container and handed it to Sarah. She then returned to the kitchen for the strange man’s coffee. The man smirked and said “Sorry I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Greg Finch.”
Sarah looked up from the table and stared at the tattoo on his hand “Where did you get that tattoo?” she said in a shaky voice rummaging through her purse. She was looking for her wallet, only to find it empty of cash or her debit card.
“Oh, this old thing. I’ve had it for a while.” Sarah stood up from the table with her coat and purse as she walked over to the counter where Zoey stood. “Can I help you?”
“I-I forgot my money. I know I had some in my wallet earlier.” Sarah said frantically looking through her purse again. “Hey, are you alright?” Zoey said noticing Sarah was a crying mess at this point. “It’s just been a rough month.”
“Don’t worry about your meal it’s on the house.” “What?” Sarah said looking up from her purse. “Your meal's paid for.” “What about your tip?”
“I’m good.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah. Do you need me to call anyone for you? You look pale.” “I’m just going to call my husband.” “Do you know the man who sat at your table?” Zoey said tucking her hair behind her ears.
“I don’t think I do.” “What do you mean?”
Sarah didn’t know how to answer Zoey’s question, but she didn’t need to as her phone rang. Picking it up she quivered “Honey…No I’m not okay…I’m at Peaceful Place Diner…I just saw-” Sarah paused as Greg Finch left the diner as quickly as arrived.
Sarah continued “I think I just saw the man who violated me…Just something about him didn’t feel right…I didn’t call David or Rose…Okay, I’ll see you in a few minutes…Love you too bye.”
Sarah put the phone back in her purse as Zoey led Sarah to a chair. Handing her a glass of water Zoey said: “Everything will be alright. I’ve been where you are.” Zoey said empathetically.
Sarah’s attention was diverted as Chris walked into the diner with David and Rose following him. Sarah hoped they would catch Greg before any more damage was done.
The ground was peppered with trash as Detective Adam Darwood and Detective Jake Milling walked up to a townhouse with a bright red door. “Is this the place?” Jake said looking at his notes.
“Yes, it is. The house number is 1272.” Jake closed his notepad and knocked on the door. After a few moments, a woman with curly long hair answered, “Hello? How can I help you?” she asked as a toddler ran around near her.
“I’m Detective Adam Darwood and this is Detective Jake Milling." The detectives held up their badges, “we were wondering if Henry Croswell is home?” “Yes, my husband’s here. Hold on…” The woman turned and called for her husband who then met them at the door.
“How can I help you?” Henry said. “My name is Detective Jake Milling and this is Detective Adam Darwood. We just have a few questions to ask you regarding a case.” “Well won’t you come in. I know it’s cold outside.” “Thanks.”
Adam and Jake walked through the house and into the living room. The room was painted a dark blue with a wooden floor and a small fireplace which made the room feel toasty.
“Would you like something to drink or a snack?” Henry’s wife asked as she stood in the entryway to the living room. “A snack?” Jake said.
"Yes. I just made some cookies. I’m opening a bakery in a few weeks and I just finished up this new recipe." “Sure I’ll take one.” “Detective Adam?” “I’ll have one too,” Adam said with a smile.
“I’ll be back in a second.” Not a moment later Henry’s wife came back with a plate of cookies. “These are wonderful,” Jake said with a laugh. “Thank you.” “I’m sorry I didn’t introduce you to my wife Tiffany,” Henry said taking a cookie.
A little boy ran into the room with a stuffed teddy bear in his hand. “And this is our son Zach. Say hi…” Tiffany said to her son. Zach waved to the detectives and looked up at Tiffany, “Mommy come play with me.” “Okay. I’ll be right there. Get your toys ready.”
“Yay!” Zach shouted running out of the room clutching his teddy bear. “Did you need anything else detectives?” Tiffany said holding an empty plate where the cookies once were.
“No, we don’t. Thank you for the cookies.” Jake said with a smile. “You’re welcome,” Tiffany said then turned and left to be with her son.
Henry sat on a chair across from the detectives who were sitting on the couch. Henry tapped his fingers on the armrest of his chair then said, “What can I help you with detectives?”
Adam looked down at his notes, “We were wondering where you were the morning of February 9th.” “Was that three weeks ago?” “Yes.”
“I had a meeting with a local gallery. I’m a painter.” Henry gestured to a number of his paintings in the living room. “I love to paint with oils. I’m looking to get my work featured. Most of my work is sold as prints online, but I’m wanting to do some in-person displays as well.”
Jake shifted his body on the couch “Okay we can get that verified. What were you doing at Apple Rock Apartments that day?”
“I have a friend who is a painter too. We have a painters group. Just a get together where we discuss the new materials we’re using, news in the art world and critiquing each other work.”
“Were there other people there?” “Yes. About six of us.” “What about your tattoo?” “My tattoo? I have a number of them.” Henry rolled up his sleeves showing the tattoos on both of his arms.
“The one with the odd combination of letters and numbers.” “This one?” Henry said pointing to a tattoo on his forearm. “Yes,” Adam said holding his lips in a firm line. “I got it at a party of sorts.”
“A party?” Jake said with a chuckle. “You’re clearly old enough to get a tattoo legally. Why be so secretive about it?”
“It was a bad stage in my life. Well more like a few bad years. I’m sure you’ve checked my rap sheet. I’ve done some wild things in my past. When I met
Tiffany everything changed. I remember the day I met her like it was yesterday. I was due in court on a theft charge and on the way there I bought a cup of coffee from a cafe I use to go to all of the time. She brightened up my day and now she helps brighten up my life.
“Sweet story.” Adam said looking around the house then turned back to Henry, “We’re here because there’s been a sexual assault case and the perpetrator has the same tattoo as you.” “Am I being accused?” Henry said with a tremble in his voice.
“No, we just wanted to check out your story. Do you know anyone else with the tattoo?” “Yes, my painter friend the one who lives in Apple Rock Apartments. His name is Greg Finch.” “What does the tattoo mean?”
“Well, the tattoo says AO2050. Which means All One 2050.” “I don’t get it?” Jake said slightly tilting his head.
“Well after I got the tattoo at this party we all sat around and talked. Some of the people there were saying they wanted to live in a utopia. But people could do whatever they wanted. They called the society All One because we would all be together and 2050 is the year the utopia would begin.”
“Do you believe in that?” “I mean living in a world where it’s peaceful and crime free is a wonderful thing. But I couldn’t see that happening especially now. I don’t believe in a world where we could do whatever we want. It would make everything chaotic.”
“Does your friend Greg believe in the utopia?” “Possibly. We don’t talk about that much. He’s a reserved man and only talks about painting.” “Do you know his apartment number?”
“I’m sorry I should have mentioned it earlier. He does a lot of moving where he’ll be somewhere for a month or two then move. I know he’s moving soon, so I normally don’t know where he’s going until he tells me.”
“Thank you for the information, Henry.” Jake excused himself as his phone rang and he walked out of the house to answer it, “Hello?… He did what?!… Did you open it?… We’re on our way.” Jake briskly walked into the house, told Adam they had to leave and said goodbye to Henry.
“What happened?” Adam said as Jake began to drive them back to the precinct. “Greg Finch left a package each for Rose and Sarah.” “What’s in them?”
“I don’t know. They want us to be there when they open them.” As Jake drove through the traffic-heavy streets he wondered what Greg could have possibly sent.
“What’s this?” Rose said glancing at a cardboard box on her desk. “I’m not sure. By the way, it’s not just addressed to you either” David said. “What do you mean?” “Look at the label?”
Rose read the label on the box out loud “To the beautiful detective with the chocolate brown eyes and to the gorgeous woman at the diner.” Rose inspected the box which was securely closed with layers of tape, “Should I open it?”
“I would wait. I just called Adam and Jake. They’re on the way back from meeting with a potential suspect.”
Not a moment later Adam and Jake walked in. “Sorry, we’re late. We bought coffee.” Adam said holding a cup holder with many cups of coffee.
“They spelled my name wrong again.?” David said looking at the name Dav written sloppily in permanent black marker on the side of the cup before taking a few sips of his coffee.
“That’s closer than they were before,” Rose said as she stirred her ice coffee hoping to melt the sugar that had settled to the bottom of the cup. “You and your iced coffee,” Jake said with a smirk.
Rose shrugged her shoulders “I can drink iced coffee no matter the weather.” “So what about the box?” Adam said nodding towards Rose’s desk.
“Well, it’s not exactly addressed to me” Rose’s then read the sender’s note. David then said, “Has anyone called Sarah?”
“Are you sure she should see what could be inside?” “Well if it was addressed to me I would want to know.” “Let me go and call her,” Rose said then walked out of the room.
“Any news on that Greg guy?” Jake said starting up his computer at his desk. “One of the other departments picked him up.” “Where?” David said.
“At a bar. He was arguing with one of their customers. Greg was yelling about this man’s wife and he said she had it coming to her.” “Is the man pressing charges?”
“Yeah. Greg punched him square in the face.” David shook his head as Rose walked back into the room, “They’ll be here in about 20 minutes. Sarah just finished an appointment at the doctor’s.”
“Is my sister okay?” David said with concern. “Yes, Chris said they were just getting an ultrasound on the baby. Sarah has just been stressed with everything going on.”
“Okay.” David was unconvinced at Rose’s words.
A man’s voice was heard through the elevator as the doors opened. His clothes were ruffled and his hair disheveled “I want him arrested!” the man pointed to Greg who was a few feet in front of him. An officer led Greg to the holding cell in handcuffs.
Another officer blocked the man from getting any closer to Greg and said “Sir, he’s under arrest now. Can you follow me, please? We can get everything in official writing about what happened.”
“Gladly.” The man said following the officer. “Who wants to question Greg?” David said looking at his fellow detectives.
“I will.” Jake said throwing his empty coffee cup into a trash can then continued, “He doesn’t really know me. So maybe he’ll open up.” Jake said as he walked toward the holding cell and brought Greg to an interrogation room.
Rose picked up the box from her desk and placed it on a round table in one of the rooms where they meet with victims. “I don’t want everyone to see what could possibly be in here,” Rose said more to herself, then to David who just walked in the room.
He placed a hand on her shoulder squeezing it gently and said “It’s going to be okay” he whispered in her ear.
“Thanks,” Rose said turning to David. He leaned closer to Rose and said “Rose I-” “Isn’t that for outside the workplace?” Sarah said with a little laugh as she leaned against the doorway to the room.
“Sarah you’re alright?” David said hugging Sarah and then Chris. “I’m doing okay.” “So my future niece or nephew is-”
“Yes, he or she is doing great. The doctor did tell me I need to take it easy. My blood pressure’s on the high side. Which makes sense with everything going on.” “That’s why you should take a seat.” David pulled out a seat for Sarah as Chris stood next to her.
“What’s wrong?” Sarah said pulling her arms into the sleeves of her sweater. “Well, a package arrived here for you.” “For me?” Sarah said furrowing her eyebrows.
“It ’s for me and you,” Rose said then read her the inscription on the box. “Could it be from that guy Greg?” “That’s what we’re thinking.” Adam walked into the room with a box cutter and said: “this will make things easier.”
“Thanks,” Rose said as Adam handed her the box cutter.
Rose opened the box and pulled out black and white tissue paper and placed it on the floor “Ooo…chocolate.” Rose handed a small box of heart-shaped chocolate to Sarah and left the other aside for herself. Beneath the chocolate were more layers of tissue paper and then a journal.
Rose carefully lifted the journal out of the box and laid it out on the table. The journal was bound with black leather on its front and back cover. Embroidered on the cover was the word AO2050.
Rose opened the journal and enclosed was a little note which read, Dear beautiful women. I hope this box has found you well. In this journal are some things I think you will enjoy. Love, Greg Finch.
Rose’s hands shook as she flipped past the first few pages which were blank. Rose gasped at a photo which was taped to one of the pages, she looked at the photo closer and then said: “It’s Sarah and Chris.”
“We had gone out for lunch. It was about two weeks before Sarah’s attack.” Chris said.
Rose flipped through more pages of the journal as more pictures were taped onto its pages. Pictures of Sarah and Rose going about their everyday lives. Sarah slid the journal closer to herself and flipped to the end of the journal.
The final image was of Sarah on the day of her attack. Her clothes were torn and her eyes were closed. She was laying on her apartment floor and her rapist had taken a selfie. He had pulled his ski mask from over his mouth as he wore a wide smile.
The person in the photo wasn’t Greg, but Sarah had no clue who the man was. “How far is this rabbit hole going to go?” David said pulling a piece of paper from the bottom of the box. Sarah’s full name was written at the top with the first five lines numbered one through five.
On the first line was written phase one done, with all the other lines left blank. “We need to see what else Greg knows,” Adam said as the rest of the room sat in silence.
Sarah could see a black SUV through her living room window. The car was tinted a midnight black, but Adam stepped out of the car to take a moment to stretch before returning to the car. Sarah closed the curtain and returned to her desk.
The blank white page on her computer screen almost seems to mock her as the computer mouse cursor blinking on the page. Sarah looked to her outline which laid on the table beside her computer. She had the story laid out for her from beginning to end, but yet weaving it into a coherent story seemed impossible.
Sarah stood up knowing that a walk out into the fresh air would do her some good. So slipping on her coat Sarah walked outside and onto the Philadelphia sidewalk. The snow fell gently onto the ground and there was a light breeze in the air.
Sarah walked to a park nearby as she heard and saw children laughing and skating on the ice rink. She thought of her unborn child and their possible future. She couldn’t imagine telling her child that their sibling is in heaven. However, she couldn’t wait to provide her child with all the love that she could.
“Hey, Sarah?” A woman said. Sarah stopped in her tracks and turned towards the voice. “Rose? What are you doing here?” “I’m the protective detail for you when you leave your apartment.”
“I told Chris I didn’t need any protective detail. No offense to you of course.” “None taken.”
“He was just pestering me about it since we left the precinct the other day.” “He means well. He is a great man Sarah. He’s just trying to protect you and the baby. Plus I don’t blame him.”
“You don’t?” Sarah said putting her hands into her coat pocket. “I mean if someone followed me around everywhere I went that would be annoying and I completely understand that. But he’s doing it because he loves you. David would do the same thing to me if I were in your shoes.”
“Did he ask you out yet?” “Who?” Rose questioned pulling her knitted hat down to cover her ears. “My brother David who else? Whenever we’re together you’re all he ever talks about.”
“You know we’re just-”
“Oops…” Sarah and Rose look up to see a man has taken their picture. The brief light of the flash blinds Sarah for a moment as the man was closest to her.
The man quickly pauses then running towards one of the exists in the park. Before he could leave however Jake tackles him to the ground and the man’s camera lens breaks in the process.
“You’re going to pay for that!” the man yells as Jake gets him into the police car. Rose and Sarah rush over to Jake who was talking on his radio to another officer. “Sarah are you okay?” Jake said looking at Sarah who shivered near the car.
“Yeah…yeah, I’m okay. Who is that?” “He said his name is Ben.” “Just Ben?” “That’s all he’s given me for now.”
“So why was he taking a picture of me and Rose?” “I don’t know. But he said the next phase was something you’re not going to expect. I know he’s part of that AO205O group.
When I get back to the station I’ll see what more information I can get. Rose will take you home.” Jake nodded before driving off to the precinct to book Ben.
“I just want this all to stop…” Sarah said shaking her head and wiping her eyes to prevent the tears from falling.
“We’re going to catch the man who assaulted you and figure out this entire AO2050 thing. But first, we should get you home.”
Sarah was silent for the rest of the way to her apartment. She thanked Rose as she shut her apartment door and checked the lock twice to make sure it was secure.
She went into her bedroom and pulled the blinds shut. She laid in her bed with her coat still on wondering when this agony would end.
Chris sat at his desk in his office typing up notes about the client he just saw. A knock on his door interrupted him, “Sorry to bother you, Mr. Matthews. Your last client just canceled. He said the weather’s getting worse.”
Chris briefly smiled at his secretary then said “Jane thanks for letting me know. You can head out for the day.” “Thank you have a great weekend.” “You too.”
Jane left shutting the door behind her as Chris finished up his client’s notes. The clock in his office struck five as a chime sounded in his office.
Turning off his computer Chris stared at the files piled up on a burnt orange colored chair in the corner of the room. He debated whether to take some work home with him, so he picked up a small stack and put them in his briefcase before locking up the office.
The wind howled as Chris walked into a Thai restaurant, grateful that he had ordered pickup. His phone rang so he stood near the restaurant’s entrance, not wanting to stand outside in the cold. “Hello?… Hi, Rose… I’ll be right there… Thanks bye.”
Chris hailed a taxi as is thoughts were of his wife. He wanted to be there for her as much as he could. Although every time he spoke to her she isolates herself from him and he didn’t know how to close the gap.
Arriving at his apartment building Chris nodded to his doorman as he took the elevator up to the fifth floor. “Sarah… I’m home,” Chris called out into the darkness of the apartment then softly shut the door behind him.
The quietness enclosed him as he set up the kitchen table for dinner. Chris laid his coat across his lounge chair in the living room, not bothering to hang it up on the coat rack.
As he sat his briefcase down at his desk in the living room he glanced at Sarah’s computer. He was disheartened knowing she hadn’t written anything. Normally her computer screen would be filled with parts of a story that when read it was as if you were actually there.
A notification popped up on the screen which read “Are we still good for noon?” Chris was puzzled wondering who it could be. “Hey, you’re home early.” Chris turned from the computer to see Sarah sitting in her lounge chair with her coat still on.
“Yeah, the weather’s getting bad…my last client canceled.” “Mmm okay,” Sarah said with a straight face. “Are you alright? Rose called and told me what happened.” “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Why is your coat still on?” “I was just cold. By the way, what’s for dinner.” Sarah said hanging her coat on the coat rack. Chris was stunned by the sudden change of conversation but decided not to argue the point. “I ordered Thai. I know we haven’t had it in a while.” “Thanks.”
Dinner went by slow and very few words were exchanged. Chris remembered of the dinners they once had. Laughter would fill their tiny apartment and they would talk for hours. Chris stood up from the table and cleared the dishes.
Sarah had retreated to their bedroom and Chris started on some of his paperwork before heading to bed. Quietly walking into the bedroom he was surprised to see Sarah awake, her eyes filled with tears. “What’s wrong?” Chris said sitting on the bed next to Sarah.
“Just another nightmare.” “Do you want to talk about it?” “No, no…I just want these images of that day out of my head.” Sarah said in a defeated tone.
“I’m here for you.” “I know. I just don’t want to put this all on you.” “You’re not.”
“But I am.” Sarah gestured to the living room then continued “I saw your stack of paperwork on your desk. How far behind are you?” “Just a few weeks.”
“A few weeks!? That’s going to take you forever to catch up.” Sarah pulled her hair into a loose ponytail. “I’m taking fewer clients. Things will be okay.”
Sarah got out of bed and walked to the kitchen. Pouring herself a cup of water she took a few sips then faced Chris who sat at the kitchen table.
“Is it going to be okay?” Sarah lifted her hands in frustration. “My book is a disaster. I haven’t written anything in over a month. My sales have been dropping and my readers aren’t the happiest with me right now. And now you’re taking fewer clients.”
“We have money don’t worry.” “How am I not going to worry, plus we’re having a baby we need all the money we can get.”
“Honey…we’ll be alright. I promise.” Chris walked to where Sarah was standing and kissed her, then she pulled away. Sarah placed her hands on Chris’s chest and said: “Listen I’m sorry it’s just that…”
“No, you don’t have to be sorry. I understand.” Sarah softly smiled at Chris then walked into their bedroom and laid down in bed, “I have an appointment tomorrow.”
“At the doctor's, is everything okay?” Chris said wearing a worried expression. “No not at the doctors. I’m seeing a therapist. His name is Dr. Victor Waterstein. My appointment is at noon.”
“I saw the notification on your computer.” “Okay. Well, goodnight Chris.” Sarah said turning toward the window. Chris placed a hand on her shoulder, gave it a gentle squeeze and said: “Goodnight honey I love you.”
“I love you too,” Sarah whispered. As Chris drifted off to sleep he thought, “I have to find out more about Victor.”
Sarah woke up to her alarm blaring in her ears. Turning it off she laid back in bed wanting to sleep for a few more hours.
She was nervous meeting Dr. Victor Waterstein, but she knew to talk about her feelings would help. She wished she could talk to her husband, but sometimes it was easier to talk to a stranger.
Finally getting out of bed, she took a quick shower, got dressed and headed out the door. Detective Jake met Sarah in her apartment lobby. “Are you ready to go?” Jake said to Sarah with a coffee in his hand.
“Do you need to follow me? I mean you know I’m going to Hygge Cafe. Which is across the street.” “I know. But we want you safe. You won’t even realize I’m there.”
“Fine. Let’s go.” Sarah said putting on her hat and walked over to the cafe.” The warmth of the cafe helped Sarah feel more comfortable as she spotted Dr. Waterstein at a table near the back. “Hello, are you Dr. Waterstein?”
“Yes, I am. And you must be Mrs. Matthews?” Dr. Waterstein said shaking Sarah’s hand. “Yeah. You can call me Sarah.”
“Alright, Sarah. If you feel comfortable you can call me Victor. Would you like something?” he said pointing to the display case of food at the front of the cafe. “Thanks, Victor, but I don’t want anything. Can we get started?” “Sure.”
Sarah sat in a chair across from him. “So why do you want to see me. I know you told me some things when you first reached out to me, but can you give me more detail?” “Well…as I told you. I was sexually assaulted about a month ago. It’s been tough to deal with.”
“I’m sorry you had to go through that. I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been for you. Something like that happening is life changing. Have you talked to anyone other than reaching out to me?” “Other then the detectives I’ve tried talking to my husband,” Sarah said tapping her fingers on the table.
Victor crossed his arms over his chest then said “Is your husband not wanting to hear what you are saying? During times like this, you need someone there to support you. Maybe he-”
“My husband Chris is so supportive. He just is always watching what I’m doing. Making sure I’m okay. And because I’m pregnant he’s probably more protective. I’m not as fragile as he thinks I am. I do understand that he cares.”
“Then why did you decide to talk to me instead of him?” “He’s in the same line of work as you. I don’t want him analyzing me. He wants things back to the way they were and they can’t be at least not now.” “How long have you been married?”
Sarah looked down at her wedding ring and said “Five years.” “Has anything like this happened during your relationship before?” “No.” “Mrs. Matthews, I mean Sarah.”
Victor cleared his throat before continuing “I don’t mean to be blunt, but maybe he doesn’t care for you as much as you think.” “What do you mean?”
“You said he’s always all over you. Wanting to know where you’re going and when you’ll be home.” “It’s not like that?” “I wouldn’t want someone asking me questions about my every move.”
“Are you saying he’s controlling?” “I’m not saying anything. Just showing you another possible perspective on things.” Victor looked at his watch to check the time.
“Is our session over already?” Sarah said glancing at her phone and thinking the hour went by fast. “Yes, it is. Did you want to talk about anything else?”
“I can’t think of anything else at the moment.” “That’s okay. You have my number if you need to call or text me. I’m always a listening ear.” Victor said with a smile.
“Thanks. Can I let you know when I can meet next?” “Sure take your time.” “Thank you.” Sarah stood and slipped on her coat and swung her purse over her shoulder.
“I hope our session has helped,” Victor said extending his hand out to Sarah. “There’s a lot I have to think about that’s for sure,” Sarah said shaking his hand. “Well, you have a good day.” “You too.”
Victor nodded his head before he left the cafe. Sarah couldn’t believe what happened. She couldn’t think of her husband as controlling and selfish, could she? Glancing behind her she saw Detective Jake reading the newspaper and still drinking his coffee.
“Jake?” Sarah said standing next to his table. “That was quick.” “Yeah, the hour flew by. Do you mind walking over with me to Chris’s office? It’s a few blocks away.”
“I don’t want you walking far in this freezing weather. Plus you should get off your feet and rest. We can head over now.”
They walked across the street to Jake’s designated car and drove to Chris’s office. Sarah could only think about one person. Her husband Chris and if she knew him at all.
Sarah stepped out of the car, pushed her red knitted scarf close to her neck as she walked inside the skyscraper. She didn’t bother to check which of the countless floors her husband’s office because she knew the one it was on by heart.
Taking the elevator up to the tenth floor, her mind wandered to what she would say to Chris. Throughout the five years they’ve been married, so much has happened.
From her assault and then losing their child. Then they moved from a small town to a big city. They’ve always stuck together but she was scared of what would happen once she spoke to him.
The elevator doors opened and Sarah stepped out and walked to her husband’s office. Etched on the door read Renewed and Restored Counseling Services and below read her husband’s name with his abbreviated degree as well as other colleagues who worked with him.
As she opened the door a soft yellow light illuminated the room and the smell of lavender filled the air. Sarah approached the desk where Jane sat typing on the computer.
Glancing up from the computer Jane said with a smile, “Hi how can I-” Jane paused for a moment before she realized it was Sarah. “I’m sorry. Hi Mrs. Matthews.” “Remember Jane you can stop with the formalities. Call me Sarah.”
“Alright, Sarah.” Jane turned her chair and body so she was completely facing her. “What can I help you with?” “Is my husband here?” “Yes, he is. He’s with a client, but the session should be over soon. I can get him for you.” Jane said beginning to stand up.
“No, no it’s okay. I’ll wait.” “I’m heading to the break room to get coffee. Do you want some?” “A bottle of water if you don’t mind.” “I don’t mind. I’ll be right back.”
As Jane left the room, Sarah sat in a chair at the corner of the office. She read a few of the inspirational and motivational quotes that were encased in a frame against one of the walls.
She fiddled with a loose strand of fabric on her coat as she thought that the only thing she was motivated to do was have this conversation with her husband, then go back home and straight to bed.
Sarah looked up as she heard her husband’s voice radiating down the hall, “Yeah don’t forget what you wrote down.”
Chris looked over to where Sarah was and was surprised to see her there. Chris talked to his client for a few moments longer as Jane handed Sarah a bottle of water then returned back to her desk.
“Schedule when you can Mrs. Jones,” Chris said with a smile then closed the door behind her, then walked over to Sarah. “What are you doing here? Is everything okay?”
“Umm…” Sarah said putting her hands in her coat pockets, “Do you have some free time to talk?” “Yeah, my next client isn’t scheduled for another hour and a half.” “Okay. Thanks.”
Sarah barely held Chris’s hand as she followed him into his personal office where he would meet with clients. The walls were painted a deep purple with light gray trimming.
“What do you think? The painter stopped by last week. My clients love it.” “It’s interesting," Sarah said a little above a whisper.
“You don’t seem okay,” Chris said leading Sarah to one of the chairs in his office. “I went to see Dr. Waterstein today and-” “You’re not obligated to tell me anything.”
“I know. Something we discussed I wanted to talk to you about right away.” “What is it?”
“Well…” Sarah looked down at the carpeted floor as she traced its pattern with her foot. She looked up at Chris with tears sparkling in her eyes, “I wanted to ask you a question. Why are you so controlling?”
She was surprised when Chris turned his back to her and he looked out of the window in his office. She was stunned by the silence that filled the room and echoed off the walls. Sarah couldn't remember a time when her husband was a speechless as this.
“What made you ask that?” You know I would never-” Chris couldn’t finish the rest of his sentence.
“Well, Dr. Waterstein asked me why I wasn’t talking to you about what I’ve been feeling. I told him you are so supportive of me and you truly are. I love you so much for that. I don’t want you analyzing me and you’re always asking me if I’m okay. And watching my every move.”
“What do you want me to do? Ignore you?" Chris shouted. “I don't need you to ask me if I’m okay. I’m fine.” Sarah stood quickly, ignoring the wave of dizziness that came over her.
“I don’t understand why you won’t talk to me,” Chris said lowering his voice and turning to face Sarah. “You want everything back to the way it was before I was assaulted.”
“Of course I want some kind of normalcy back. I know things won’t go back to the way they once were. If it seems like I’m controlling, I’m sorry I really am. I’m worried about you.”
“I can’t even make my own decisions.” Sarah raked her hand through her hair as she continued, “I mean you called the detectives to get a protective detail on me. I can take care of myself.”
“Sarah that man who assaulted you is on the loose somewhere in Philadelphia.” Chris paced around the room and continued, “Someone is taking photos of us. While we’re out in public and in our intimate moments. And you’re angry about me wanting to find a way to protect you?”
“You could have asked me first. I’m not a child, you don’t need to make decisions for me.” Sarah grabbed her purse and headed for the door which led to the main lobby.
“Where are you going?” Chris said holding onto Sarah’s wrist a little too tight. “Wouldn’t you like to know? I’m going to David’s, I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone.”
“Can’t we talk more about this?” “Later, now let me go!” Chris didn’t release his grip on Sarah’s wrist and said: “Talk to me!”
Sarah was shocked when her hand went from holding the end of her scarf to then sharply connecting to Chris’s cheek. She couldn’t believe she hit her husband, but at that moment she didn’t care.
She ignored the mixture of mascara and tears running down her face. She didn’t care who else heard their heated conversation. Chris let go of Sarah’s wrist as she walked out of his office and made it to Jake’s car.
“Oh my gosh, what happened?” Jake said as he started the car and blasted the heat. “Jake…can you take me home. I want to grab a few things then head over to David’s?” “Sure.”
When Sarah arrived back to her apartment she packed a few items including her laptop and notes for her book. Picking up a sticky note from her desk, Sarah wrote a quick note which read “Chris, I’m sorry and I love you.”
Signing her name she stuck it to the kitchen counter where she knew he would see it. Sarah then turned off the lights, grabbed her duffel bag and drove with Jake to David’s home.
“FVSA open up!” Detective Adam yelled hitting his fist on the door. “Maybe he’s not home?” David said shrugging his shoulders. “Well, the DA gave us a search warrant.”
“I’ll knock and if he doesn’t answer we’ll kick the door down,” David said then waited a few moments before knocking again. An elder woman opened the door with short curly white hair and said “Hello?” the woman pushed her glasses closer to her eyes.
“Hi, ma’am. I’m detective David Buckman and this is Detective Adam Darwood. We’re with Family Violence Sexual Assault Unit and we were wondering if Greg Finch is home?” “He’s my grandson. I think he’s in his painter’s studio.
Let me get him for you…Greg!” the woman shouted and she wandered throughout the apartment.
Greg frowned as he walked out of his studio wiping his hands stained with Navy blue paint onto his apron. Approaching the detective said in a raised voice, “I haven’t done anything illegal. I paid my bail and I haven’t left my apartment since being released.”
“That’s not what we’re here for. We have a search warrant to look through your apartment.” Adam said in a serious tone.
“Greg, what’s going on?” Greg grandmother said holding a steaming cup of tea. “Nothing. Do you want to go out for lunch? We can stop by the knitting store on the way back since I know you haven’t been to your knitting group in a while.”
“That sounds wonderful, let me get my things,” said Greg’s grandmother slowly left the room and collecting her things.
Greg took off his apron and laid it over one of the kitchen chairs being careful to not put paint onto the light wooden table and said: “How long is this going to take?”
“A few hours at least,” Adam said. “Fine,” Greg said briskly putting on his coat.
Greg’s grandmother returned to the room with her knitting bag in one hand and her purse in the other. “I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Lucy,” she said shaking the detectives' hands. Greg then said his goodbyes and well and he and Lucy left the apartment.
“Where should we start?” David said taking a brief survey of the apartment. “Well, his studio seems like an interesting place to start,” Adam said putting on his gloves and walking into the studio.
The room was painted white as sunlight dripped into the room through a perfectly clean window. All along the walls were canvases painted with layers and layers of caked on paint.
David touched one of the paintings as pieces of the painting began to chip away and fall onto the wooden floor.
David took a step back as there was a portrait of Sarah. It was a black and white piece and the only color was the colors of her eyes. “What in the world?” Adam said staring at the painting.
David’s phone rang and he touched another painting in the room, “Buckman…Sarah what’s wrong…Yeah, the key’s under the mat…See you soon, bye.” David ended the call and turned to Adam “I need to go. Something’s going on with Sarah.”
“Go ahead. I’ll call another detective to help out here.” “Thanks.” David left Greg’s apartment and drove home. He couldn’t believe what Sarah said and he hoped he could find a way to help her.
The cars honking gave Sarah a headache, so she closed her eyes. “The light’s green you idiot!” Jake yelled at the car in front of him. “What’s wrong?” Sarah said not bothering to open her eyes. “Someone wasn't paying attention.”
“That’s frustrating.” “It is. Hey Sarah?” “Hmm?” “You said David’s house is number 472?” “Yep.”
“Then we’re here.” Sarah opened her eyes and looked up at the brick building. Although it looked the same as all the other buildings on the street she felt like she was coming home. Sarah smiled softly at the Christmas lights still hanging on David’s front porch.
Jake set her bags to the side of her as he said, “Do you want me to stay?” “No, you can go. Thanks for everything.” “You’re welcome,” Jake said tipping his hat then left David’s home.
Sarah picked up the key hidden under the welcome mat in front of the door. As she began to unlock it she was surprised to see Rose standing there. Rose wore a beige knitted cardigan with a pine tree colored top and a set of matching leggings. “Hello…oh hey, Sarah.”
“Rose…what are you doing here?” “David said I could come over. It gets boring at my apartment. Plus I told him I’ll make him an early dinner. Sarah are you alright?” Rose noticed Sarah’s puffy eyes and reddened cheeks.
“No, I'm not. Did David call you?” “I’m not sure. My phone is dead and I just plugged it in to charge. Come on in, I’ll grab your bags.” “Thanks,” Sarah whispered as she walked passed Rose and into the house.
The three bedroom condo was, so spacious when she compared it to her and Chris’s one bedroom apartment. She sat on the living room couch adjunct from the roaring fireplace.
On the mantle, there was a photo of her and David from when they were children. She remembered that trip out to the mountains. They overlooked a waterfall as they stood on a wooden balcony.
“Sarah…Sarah?” It took a moment before she realized Rose was calling her name. “Sorry, what did you say?” “Where do you want me to put your bags?”
“I can put them away don’t worry about it.” “You sure?” “Yeah.” “Okay. Then while you put them away I’ll make us some tea. I brought some orange flavored loose leaf tea, would you like some?”
“That sounds lovely, thanks.” “You’re welcome.”
Sarah picked up her bags and headed to the guest room. It’s cranberry colored walls and simple decor provided her with a comfort she didn’t know she needed. Sarah was glad David put a small table in the room.
She didn’t know how long she would be there, but she wanted to get work done. After she unpacked everything, she opened the curtains. A few rays of sunlight flowed through the window and cascaded off the bedroom walls.
Sarah changed into something comfortable and walked back into the living room. She pulled her hair into a ponytail and once again sat on the living room couch. She didn’t know how she would explain to David or even Rose for that matter, what had happened.
“Here’s your tea. I also made some o'dourves. Cheese on crackers nothing fancy.” Rose chuckled and carried the wooden tray with the food and drinks and set it on a coffee table in front of the couch.
“Thanks again. You didn’t have to do all of this.” “No need to thank me.” Sarah sipped her tea, unsure of how to begin to talk to Rose.
“So what happened?” Rose said stretching out her legs as she sat on one side of the L shaped couch. “Do you want the complicated or simple version?” “You can tell me as much as you feel comfortable with.”
“Well…Chris and I had a fight.” Sarah said then pulled the blanket that hung on the couch onto her lap. “That’s normal all couples fight from time to time.”
“I know. Chris and I rarely argue. I mean we have disputes, but they’re resolved rather quickly. This time I don’t know how this will mend.” Sarah blinked her eyes forbidding the tears to fall. “What do you mean?”
“I…umm…I slapped Chris. I don’t know what came over me. One minute I was going to leave his office and the next thing I know I hit him across the face.”
Sarah wasn’t surprised Rose didn’t respond. She was always one to not give her opinion and wanted to hear the person out. Sarah ate a cracker and it soothed some of her queasiness before continuing, “I never thought I-”
The front door of the house opened stopping Sarah from continuing her sentence. Sarah turned to face where the noise came from and was shocked to see David drenched in water from head to toe.
“What happened?” Sarah said as Rose grabbed a towel from one of the bathrooms and handed it to David. “It’s a mess out there. It’s like a mixture of sleet, snow, and rain. It started about five minutes before I got here.”
“I can't focus on anything other than the sound of my own voice running through my head,” Sarah said taking another sip of her tea. “Can you tell me more about what’s going on?” “Why don’t you change into something dry?”
“And I’ll make you some coffee. Looks like you need it.” Rose said turning on the coffee maker in the kitchen. “Yes I do, thanks,” David said walking into his bedroom.
Sarah stood from the couch and grabbed her phone from the guest room she was staying in. A notification for a voice mail popped up on her phone, so Sarah sat on the cushioned bench near the window.
She watched the raindrops slam against the window pane. She put the phone to her ear as she listened to the voice mail, “Honey…it’s me. Sarah, I’m so…”Chris began to weep then continued, “I will never touch you like that again. I hope you’re doing okay and I’ll talk to you soon. I love you.”
The voice mail ended and Sarah held the phone to her chest. She began to cry because she knew arguing with her husband in the way she did may not have been the best.
David and Rose whispered to each other on the couch as Sarah walked back to the living room. “Am I interrupting something lovebirds?” Sarah said with a smirk. “No,” Rose said turning to face Sarah.
“I’m ready to talk to you both,” Sarah said sitting on the couch. “We’re ready to listen,” David said popping a cracker into his mouth. Sarah told them all that happened during her counseling session with Victor Waterstein.
She talked about how the angriest she had ever gotten before today was crying when she was angry. And even that scared her. By the time Sarah finished, she was an emotional roller coaster. Going from whimpering one moment to dead silence the next. The doorbell rang and David said, “I’ll get it.”
Sarah could hear him arguing with someone, but she didn’t hear a response back. “Sarah?” she looked up and saw Chris standing in the living room.
Greg took another puff of his cigarette and looked up at the clouded Philadelphia sky. His grandmother was inside the yarn store. Knitting with her friends and talking about who knows what. He needed to find a way to talk to Frank, he always had the answers to everything.
As if on cue Greg’s phone rang and he answered, “…please press five to accept this call.” Pressing five Greg waited a moment before a deep voice was heard on the other end of the line. “Hello, Greg?”
“Hi, Frank…I mean Ian.” Greg said nervously. “How many times have I told you to call me Ian and not Frank?” “Sorry.”
“Don’t let it happen again. Have they searched your place?” “The detectives are there now.” “Did you hide the box?” “Yes, I did.”
“Good. You talked to the photographer?” “You mean Ben?” “Yes, of course.”
“He called me earlier and the rest of the crew. They’re figuring out another plan.” “Okay. You need to…” Greg could hear arguing in the background.
“Everyone back to your cells!” he heard someone yell. “Greg I gotta go.” “What should I do?” “This call has ended.” Greg heard from an automated voice before the line went dead.
He put the phone back in his pocket and sat on the steps outside of the yarn store. A woman who looked in her early thirties opened the door and stepped out of the shop. She wore a pair of light gray crocheted mittens and a knitted sea blue colored beanie.
Walking down the steps, she bumped into Greg’s back with her foot. “Hey watch it!” Greg yelled looking up at the woman. “I’m so sorry. I should have been paying more attention.”
“Yeah, you should have.” The woman smirked at Greg as she walked down the opposite side of the steps and stood a few feet away from him.
Greg couldn’t help but look at the woman and admired her beauty. He wanted her. No, he needed her. Greg smoothed out his jacket before calling out to the woman, “Hey.” The woman shifted her eyes towards Greg before she said: “Look I said I was sorry.”
Greg watched her fiddle with the phone in her hand, glancing down at it from time to time. “What are you doing out here it’s late?” “It’s none of your business.”
Greg stayed silent for a minute as he tried to figure out what to say next. “Are you waiting for someone?”
The woman frowned and stepped a little closer to where Greg was still sitting and said "My friend is picking me up. There’s an outdoor concert a few blocks away, but she hasn’t responded.”
Greg looked at his watch which lit up against the night sky. His grandmother was almost done with her group. Suddenly, oh so suddenly an idea popped into his head.
So daring and it wasn’t something he’d done before, but it was finally time to get something he wanted. “Well, my grandmother is almost done with her yarn group and I could take you there if you’d like.”
The woman darted her eyes toward the ground. Before she could respond to him, Lucy and the other women walked out of the shop. “Greg you could have waited inside it’s so chilly out here.”
“Grandma it’s okay. I wanted some fresh air.” “I see you met Odilia,” Lucy said pointing to the woman who by this point had joined the rest of the group.
“I thought you were going to that concert.” Odilia’s grandmother said. “I’m waiting for my friend to answer me back.” “Greg, why don’t you take her?” Lucy said smiling at him. “Well, I…”
“He doesn’t have to. I’ll be all right.” Odilia said glancing at her phone once again. “I insist. Greg is such a nice young man. Plus, I want great-grandchildren.” “Grandma!” Greg said widening his eyes before continuing, “How are you going to get home?” he said to Lucy.
“I’m going over to Odilia’s grandmother’s house. She has some nice yarn I could have. Plus, we were in the middle of a good conversation.” “Ah okay. Is that okay with you Odilia?” Greg said trying to put on his best smile. “Yeah, I guess,” Greg observed the hesitation in her eyes.
“Don’t worry I won’t bite.” Greg gave Lucy a hug before leading Odilia to his car. As he drove toward the concert he couldn't wait to see what the night would bring. ****
The bright lights of the outdoor stage lit up the night as Greg parked his car near the back of the concert. “This is my stop,” Odilia said buttoning the top of her jacket. Stepping out of Greg’s car she continued, “Thanks again.”
As she shut the car door and walked toward the venue Greg rushed out and ran up to her. “Yeah?” she said turning around to face him. “Would you like some company?”
“No, thanks.” “You sure? Concerts are always fun with other people.” “Concerts are always full of people,” she said with a laugh.
“It will be fun. A time you’ll never forget.” Greg could almost see the wheels spinning in Odilia’s head. She looked up at him with a soft smile and said “I guess. I need to get home by midnight. I have a busy day tomorrow.”
“I’ll get you home before then,” Greg said with a smile as he walked with Odilia into the crowd. ****
The music pulsed in Greg’s ears as he hit Odilia once more. He saw her chest slowly rise and fall. Pieces of her clothes were in a small pile near her body. He looked around and saw a beige burlap fabric laying on the ground.
It probably covered some tech equipment at some point in the night. Greg covered Odilia’s body, and he casually walked away.
Returning to his car he drove back to his apartment. His hands created red marks on the steering wheel as he smiled. Happy to know he finally got what he wanted and he couldn’t wait for more.
“What are you doing here?” Sarah said placing her cup of tea on the wooden table in front of her. She was disgusted at the sight of her husband. “I wanted to-” “So you barge in here and think that will fix everything?” Sarah said letting her hair out of the ponytail. Her loose curls laid right past her shoulders.
“Can you hear me out?” Chris said as he took off his soaking wet coat and hung it on a hook near the front door. Sarah observed him as he hesitated then sat on the opposite end of the couch. Rose and David had left the room at this point leaving the couple alone to work things out.
She darted her eyes away from her husband as she snuggled up on the couch alone. The silence was almost deafening and Sarah couldn’t stand it. “What do you want to say to me?” she said in a whisper almost as if she was talking to herself.
“What?” Chris said. Sarah looked up at Chris with a stern voice and said: “What did you want to tell me?” “Sarah I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I put my hands on you. I don’t know what came over me.” “I want more than an apology. Don’t you understand?”
“No.” “I can’t talk to you.” “Why not?” “Chris. All you do is try to fix me.” “I don’t,” Chris said standing up and throwing his hands up in the air.
“Yes, you do. Look! I was assaulted. So much was taken away from me that day. I’m no longer the same woman that you married.” “Sweetie?” Chris bent down beside Sarah and took her hands into his “I know you won’t be. I miss your smiles and laughter. I miss our long talks. I want to hear how you’re feeling.”
Sarah let go of her husband’s hands and stood up. The cold air from removing the blanket from her body hit her hard, but she ignored it. “I don’t want you to treat me any differently.” “I wouldn’t do that.” “But you have. Every time I want to do something at home you treat me like one of those porcelain dolls.”
“I’ll work on that. I just want you home.” Sarah didn’t know what to say. The past few hours have been a roller coaster for her. “Chris. I need some time to think. It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours yet.” “I know. Please just come home."
“I will. Let’s just-” Sarah let the tears fall and with a crack in her voice she continued “I need some peace and quiet.” “What do you mean?” By this time Chris was standing only a few inches away from Sarah. “You love me. I know that with all my heart. I can’t have you carrying this burden around for me.”
“But I’m your husband. I’m here to help you.” “How about we compromise? I’ll leave David’s at the end of the week. Today’s Tuesday and I’ll leave on Saturday.” “Sarah if that’s what you want.” “And I’ll update you on when I meet with Dr. Waterstein again.”
“You’re still meeting with him?” Chris said with a frustrated frown upon his face. “Yes, he’s my therapist.” “I don’t think he’s the best person you should be talking to I did some research and he’s license was just-” “Chris I don’t care. I want someone to talk to that’s not you.”
“You know Sarah I came here to fix things with us. I can see you don’t want that.” “I do. I just need time. You hurt me Chris and it’s difficult for me to come running back into your arms.”
Chris turned and began to walk back to the couch. He stopped sharply and turned to face Sarah, “Well let’s hope the next time you meet with him it’s not in his bed.” It was as if time had stopped. Sarah hoped she had heard her husband wrong. Why would he think she would cheat on him? “Why did you say that?”
“I don’t know.” “You don’t know? You really believe I would cheat on you?” “I just don’t want you to leave me.” “I won’t. Let me have some space.”
“Fine!” Chris turned and walked towards the front door and he slipped on his jacket. He then left David’s condo, slamming the door behind him.
Sarah closed her eyes hoping that this was all a dream. A cruel and twisted nightmare. She opened her eyes and was still standing in David’s living room. Her tea had probably gotten cold and the rain, sleet, and snow were still pouring down outside. She heard a creek on the wooden floor.
Looking up she saw Rose. Who leaned against the archway which separated the living room from the kitchen. “Hey,” Rose spoke softly. “Hey. Did you hear everything?” “No. Once Chris arrived David and I left.”
“Where did you go?” Sarah said as she sat on the couch and took a sip of her cold tea. “To the enclosed back porch. I love the sound of rain.” “Sounds nice.” “What happened?” Rose sat on the couch next to Sarah.
“Lots of things. Well, first we’re taking a break.” “A break?” Rose pulled a blanket from across the couch onto her lap. “Yeah. I told him I’ll be home by Saturday. I need space. Time to process and think things over.”
“That’s understandable. This past month or so has been hectic for you.” “To say the least. Then he drops this bombshell on me. He thinks I’m going to cheat on him.”
Rose's eyes went wide as she clenched her cup of tea tighter. “Why would he say something like that?” “He said he doesn’t want me to leave him.” “Are you leaving him?” “No, it’s never crossed my mind.” “That’s good. What about-”
“Rose!” The women both turned to David who’s coat was already on. He didn't notice the drops of water which splattered onto the hardwood floor. “David, what’s wrong?” Rose panicked. “The captain called. They found a body at an outdoor concert.”
“Wouldn’t that be homicide’s case?” “Normally, but it looks like the victim was sexually assaulted. They covered the area the best they could because of the rain we should get there as soon as possible. I don’t want the weather to destroy all our evidence.”
“I’ll meet you in the car.” “Alright. Sarah?” “Yes, David?” “I’m sorry about what’s happening between you and Chris.” “It’s not your fault.”
“Do you or the baby need anything?” “Finding a way that all this didn’t happen.” “I would if I could.” “How about ice cream?” “What flavor?”
“Surprise me,” Sarah said with a soft smile. “It’s good to see you smile. And I’ll surprise you.” “Thanks.” “Call us if you need anything,” Rose said slipping on her rain boots and hat.
“I will. I’ll see you both later.” Sarah said. Getting up from the couch she shut the door behind David and Rose. She slid her body down the door and sat on the floor, not caring if her pants got wet from the rain water. She thought about their unborn baby and she didn’t want he or she to get mixed up in all this mess.
By the time David and Rose arrived at the crime scene the rain, sleet and snow had settled to just flurries. Rose stepped out of the passenger side of the car and walked over to the crime scene. Slipping on a pair of gloves she knelt down by Odilia, whose body at this point was cold to the touch.
“Any witnesses to the assault?” Rose said looking over to David who stood beside her. “No, not yet. However, the man who found this woman is still here.” David said pointing to a man who sat at the edge of the outdoor stage.
“I’ll talk to him. Can you see if you can find out who this woman is?” Rose said pulling off her gloves and placing them in a specialized bag to be disposed of later. “Yeah,” David said then walked away to other officers on the scene.
The man was looking up at the night sky when Rose approached him. “Excuse me?” Rose said not wanting to startle the man. “Oh hi,” the man turned his face towards Rose.
“I’m detective Rose Atwell from the Family Violence Sexual Assault Unit and I just want to ask you a few questions about what happened tonight.” “Sure go ahead.” Rose took out a mini notepad and pen from her jacket. “Can you tell me your name and what happened?”
“My name is Martin Upson. I was on the volunteer team tasked with helping the band collect gear and pack it into their vehicles. When the concert had ended I walked around the stage making sure nothing was left behind.
When I went to the back I saw some woman’s clothes laying on the ground under the stage. I thought a couple was doing some extreme PDA although when I looked underneath the stage all I saw was a burlap fabric covering something. There was a dark red stain slowly spreading over the material.
I probably shouldn’t have, but I lifted a little bit of the fabric and I saw person's feet. I quickly put the fabric back where it was and called the cops.”
“Thank you.” Rose said making a few notes then continued “Did you see anyone acting suspiciously?” “No. I was just enjoying the concert.” “Okay. Here’s my card in case you think of anything else.”
“Thanks. Am I free to go?” “Yeah.” Rose watched the young man sprint to his car and speed out of the parking lot. “Poor kid,” David said approaching Rose.
“I know. All he wanted was to go to a concert and he had to find the woman. So did you find out anything more?” Rose said zipping up her jacket.
“Yeah. As the team was collecting evidence they found her driver’s license. The woman’s name is Odilia Zink. She lives about thirty minutes away. I called the Captain and he said to go to her address to see what we can find.”
“Alright let’s go then.” **** Rose couldn’t get the argument that Sarah and Chris had out of her head. “Hey, you okay?” David said placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Yeah. I’m just thinking about what happened with Sarah and Chris.” “They're working things out.” “I’m just worried.” “So am I.” “Is there anything we can do?”
“Maybe we should just let them work things out by themselves. Just be there for Sarah in any way you can. I’m sure she’ll want to talk to you.” “I guess so,” Rose said looking out of the window. “We should go to Odilia’s place.”
“Yeah…” Rose said quietly as she stepped out of the car. The detectives walked up to Odilia’s place knocking three times before an elderly woman answered the door.
“Sorry to bother you ma’am at this time of night. I’m Detective David Buckman and this is my partner Detective Rose Atwell. We’re with the Family Violence Sexual Assault Unit and we’re wondering if Odilia Zink is home.”
“I’m her grandmother Krystal Zink. She isn’t here. Have you seen her? She was supposed to be home by midnight. I know she’s a grown woman but she likes to tell me when she’ll be back. Odilia doesn’t want me to worry.”
“That’s actually what we are here to talk to you about. Can we come in?” David said looking at Krystal then back to Rose. “Sure. Sorry for all the yarn everywhere. My friend’s here and we’re just talking all things knitting and yarn. You can have a seat on the couch if you’d like.”
“Thanks,” Rose said sitting beside David. She hated this part. Telling a family member that a person they loved has passed away. Not only that but with the nature of the FVSA department, the details and cause of death can be quiet gruesome.
David quietly sighed as he clasped his hands together and said: “We have some difficult news to tell you.” “Go ahead.” “Ms. Zink. Odilia has passed away.”
“What?! How?” Krystal said gripping the armrest of the chair she sat in. “I don’t know if you want to know the details.” “Please, I need to know.” “Well Ms. Zink we just started our investigation, but it looks as if Odilia was sexually assaulted and murdered.”
“Who would do something like that to her. She’s so sweet.” “Do you remember if Odilia was with someone recently?” “I just saw her tonight. She had left for a concert with my friend Lucy’s grandson. In fact, she’s in the other room. Lucy, can you come here please?” Krystal said in a shakey, but loud voice.
A few moments later Lucy comes into the room, “Krystal what do you need?” “The detectives told me that Odilia is dead.” “I’m so sorry,” Lucy said walking over closer to Krystal.
“They asked me who Odilia was with last that I can remember.” “She left with my grandson Greg. Oh hi, Detective Buckman.” Lucy said noticing David in the room. “Hello, Lucy.” “Lucy, have you talked to him?” David said.
“No.” “I’m going to talk with Rose for a moment. We’ll be right back.” David said looking over at Rose. “I’m sorry again,” Rose said to Krystal then she headed with David outside.
“I think we should call the Captain and try to find Greg,” David said then called him to catch him up on everything. After the call, David continued to talk to Rose “the Captain said we need to talk to Greg now. But we shouldn’t go over there without backup.”
“What about Lucy?” “Well tell her not to go to her apartment until it’s all cleared.” “I’ll let her know. Rose you just wait in the car.” “Alright. I’ll have Adam meet us there.” Rose turned away David and headed to the car. Hoping they could catch Greg and see what he knows.
The afternoon sunlight peaked through Chris’s bedroom window as he opened his eyes. He reached out to see if Sarah was beside him, but then he remembered she wasn’t there. A massive headache had woken him up. He wiped his hand across his face as he felt his dried tears.
His phone buzzed on his nightstand as a text message appeared, “Chris, are you still coming into the office? -Jane” Chris glanced at the time on his phone which read 1:45 pm and he knew that going into the office would be useless.
Even though he loved his job there were other important matters to deal with. Sending a quick reply he said “Sorry I just got your messages and missed calls. There was a family emergency I had to attend to.
I’ll try my best to be in tomorrow. If you can please call my clients and let them know what happened and reschedule them. Thanks. -Chris”
After quickly getting out of bed and getting dressed, Chris headed into the kitchen. He poured some cereal in a bowl, but as he opened the milk he could smell that it had spoiled. Chris threw the milk and cereal into the trash and stood against the kitchen island.
Looking at the pictures on his phone he softly smiled at the one of him and his wife going on a date one evening. He couldn’t believe how blessed he was to have her in his life. He was determined to fix his marriage no matter what.
**** Chris could smell the baked goods and coffee as he waited outside of the Bakery and Coffee Cafe. A colleague of his, Patterson Naman had some information on Dr. Victor Waterstein.
He couldn’t wait to see what he found. A few minutes later Patterson arrived with a briefcase in his hands. “Do you have everything?” Chris said staring at the briefcase. “Yeah. Everything’s here. I would talk longer but I’m due in court in an hour.” Patterson said handing the case to Chris.
“Oh. What’s wrong?” “Nothing. They need my expertise on a case.” “Alright, I’ll let you go. Thanks again.” “You’re welcome,” Patterson said shaking Chris’s hand before walking away.
Chris held tightly onto the briefcase as he walked into the cafe. He sat down at a table which overlooked the city’s street. He began to skim the papers to get an overview of what was inside. Peaking into a pocket in the case there was a photograph of Dr. Waterstein. He was at a conference for those in the same career as him.
Looking at the photo more in-depth Dr. Waterstein had his hand around a woman’s waist. He flipped the photo over and there was contact information for the woman. Chris' hands shook as he held the photo. Finding the information on Dr. Waterstein wasn’t difficult.
The fact that Patterson had gone to grad school with him, helped Chris find out more details. But, calling someone was a whole different matter. At the moment he didn’t think of the repercussions. But only of Sarah and getting her away from Dr. Waterstein as soon as possible.
Chris dialed the number from the back of the photo and after two rings a woman answered, “Hello…hello…” “Um…hi” “Hi can I help you?” the woman said as Chris could hear her chewing gum.
“Oh yes sorry. I was wondering if Dr. Victor Waterstein is there?” “Ugh…what did he do this time?” “What do you mean?” “Are you a cop?” “No.”
“I haven’t seen him in a few days.” “I’m looking for more information about him?” “Why?” “I just suspect he’s doing something suspicious.” “I don’t feel comforta-”
“I can give you my details and I can meet you in person if that’s better.” “I don’t know…” The woman paused on the phone before continuing, “I mean if you can get me out of here…” “Daisy! Who are you talking to!”
“No one. I was just-” Chris could hear a woman, probably Daisy sobbing in the background before the line went dead. Chris stared at his phone before calling David. Even though he knew David was frustrated and hurt with how he treated Sarah. Maybe this new revelation could bring him closer to his wife.
Sarah brushed her teeth as she looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. She was so tired, from tossing and turning the night before. She checked the time on her phone which read 7:00 am.
It was early for her but she wanted to get as much work done that day as possible. She applied light makeup under her eyes and to the rest of her face. Then she returned to the guest room to retrieve her laptop.
**** Sarah ate her last piece of buttered toast on the dining room table in front of her. Opening her laptop she logged into the site where she posted her writing. The comments had only gotten more aggressive throughout the weeks.
She was so frustrated by the hurtful comments. Writing was her passion but when she was assaulted she didn't have the strength to write. Sarah typed a message to her readers which read, “Hey everyone I hope you are doing well. I wanted to let you know why I haven’t posted in a little over a month.
Something tragic has happened to me. I don’t feel comfortable saying much now, but it has affected my writing. I will be updating when I can. Thanks for understanding. Sarah Matthews.”
Sarah read the message a few more times before she sent the message to her thousands of readers. She then closed her laptop and turned off notifications on her phone. Was her career over? Sarah thought as she placed her laptop back to the desk in the guest room.
She laid down on the living room couch and turned on the electric fireplace as high as it would go. Sarah closed her eyes and wondered how she got here. Her marriage was a wreck. She wanted her husband to listen to her and not give her advice. There was also her therapist and she was unsure of what she would talk to him about next.
A knock on the front door startled Sarah as she sat up from the couch. She peeked through a window near the front door and noticed a man who held a large envelope. Sarah’s hands shook as she opened up the door, “Umm…can I help you?”
“Hi, ma’am are you Sarah Matthews?” Sarah frowned before she said, “No I’m not but how can I help you?” She wasn’t one to lie but she had no clue who this man was and why he wanted to talk to her. “Do you happened to know her?” this man said in a nervous tone.
“Why do you ask?” “Her therapist Dr. Victor Waterstein wanted me to give her this” the man handed Sarah the envelope. “I’ll be sure to give this to her. What’s your name by the way?” “Henry Croswell…” the man’s eyes went wide realizing his mistake of giving his name.
“Don’t say you got this from me.” Henry continued then turned away from Sarah and briskly walked down the city’s sidewalk. Sarah shut the door, locking it behind her and sat back on the living room couch. Her name was neatly written in cursive on the front of the envelope.
Opening it she poured the contents onto the wooden coffee table. A handwritten letter caught her eye which read, “Dear Sarah, I’m sorry you have to see this. I want to let you know who you’re married too. I'm so excited to talk to you soon at our next meeting. Love, Dr. Victor Waterstein.”
Sarah picked up a booklet and flipped to a random page which had a photograph of Chris and Jane his secretary. It looked like they were at a work party with his arm wrapped around her shoulder and she was leaning into him. Sarah didn’t know what to think at this point, but she knew it was her who should be scared of her husband cheating on her.
Another window shattered as David shot another round of bullets. He couldn’t see Greg, who would peak through one of the windows and fire a few rounds himself. “Any back door?” David said looking at the other officers who were huddled behind a nearby car.
“None that we can see.” “Have we gotten that phone yet? We need to reach him.” “Captain said they’re working on it.” David couldn’t believe the detectives didn’t find the gun in Greg’s apartment when they were given the search warrant.
“David…hello…David?” Rose questioned placing a hand on his shoulder. “Huh? What did you say?” David said glancing over to Rose. “Captain said we have Greg on the line.” “I’ll talk to him,” David said then walked a few feet to where the phone and the Captain were.
“Hello, Greg?” “Is this Detective Buckman?” Greg said. “Yes, it is.” “I need a car ride out of here,” Greg said in a demanding tone. “You know we can’t do that.”
“Can you at least drop those murder and assault charges?” “We can’t do that either.” “If you can’t I’m not letting the woman go.” “What woman?”
“Look at the front window.” David turned his head and saw Greg holding a gun to a middle-aged woman’s head. “Who is she?” David said in a panic. “One of my neighbors. She brings over cookies every blue moon. It just so happened she was bringing over a batch when I heard your sirens down the street.”
“Let her go!” “Why? You won’t give me what I want.” “We can’t let you go,” David said then turned to Rose. “Hand me the phone,” Rose said. “What?” David said in a confused voice.
“I’ll try to talk to him.” “I don’t think that’s a-” “David we need to do something. There’s an innocent woman inside.” Rose said then yanked the phone from David’s hand. “Greg. Honestly, what do you want?” Rose said looking at Greg through the window.
“Detective Atwell. Your voice is so lovely.” Greg said with a laugh then continued “How can I help you?” “Let the woman go.” “No. I didn’t mean to kill that woman at the concert. It was just that one thing led to another.”
“Then take me instead,” Rose said with a hint of fear in her eyes as she looked at David. “Did you say I can take you, hostage, in replace of the woman?” Rose held her breath for a moment before she said “Yes. I’ll take my bulletproof vest off and I won’t have my weapon.”
“My, my, my… I’m liking this. I’ll wait for five minutes for you to come to the front door. If you don’t then you won’t see this woman again.” Greg said then hung up the phone. “Are you nuts!?” David yelled holding tightly to Rose’s hands. “Someone has to do this.” “We’ll find another way.”
“There’s no other way. I don’t think we should go shooting in the apartment now that we know there’s a civilian inside.” Rose let her hands out of David’s grasp before taking off her bulletproof vest and handing her gun to David. “I don’t want to lose you,” David said with a tremble in his voice.
“Rose you have two minutes,” one of the other officers said. “Look…I have to go.” “Please don’t…” David said in a desperate cry.” “Everything is going to be okay,” Rose said before walking toward the apartment.
David watched Rose as she stood at the door. It suddenly dawned on him that he hadn’t said those three special words to her. The woman who Greg was holding hostage ran out of the house.
“I love you!” David shouted. “I love y-” Rose shouted back before being cut off as Greg pulled her into the apartment. **** The apartment was completely dark except for a lamp that was on in the living room. Greg slammed Rose against the front door as she tried to shake the waves of dizzinesses as the back of her head hit the door.
“Why are you doing this?” Rose said harshly. “Why…I just wanted what was owed to me.” “Assaulting and killing a woman. How is that something that was owed to you? Also the pictures of Sarah and I, what was that all about?”
“To answer your first question.” Greg paused and pointed the gun at Rose “I wanted her so I needed to have her. It was an impulse thing. And to answer your second question. Well, that’s something I’m taking to my grave.”
Greg held the gun to himself and as he was about to pull the trigger Rose lunged at him. She didn’t know what came over her, but as they both landed on the floor she tried to knock the gun from his hand.
They fought and fought until two shots were fired and all that was heard was silence.
Chris checked the reservation before completing the purchase on his laptop. He packed his suitcase, leaving a little bit of room for knick-knacks and souvenirs. He was surprised he hadn’t heard back from David. Chris remembered leaving a lengthy voice mail all about Dr. Waterstein. And about the woman, Daisy who he had spoken to hours before.
Chris left from where he sat on Sarah’s side of the bed, where her pillow felt so cold. He stood at the front of his desk and stared at the papers which were stacked in uneven piles. He couldn’t believe he would let things get this out of hand. As he organized his workspace his mind wandered back to Sarah.
He couldn’t believe he betrayed her by putting his hands on her. The doorbell rang and he knocked a pile of papers from his desk onto the floor. He barely managed to step over them. “I’ll be right there,” Chris said picking up the papers and tossing them onto the desk.
He looked through the peephole and was surprised who stood on the other side of the door. “What do you want?” Chris shouted to the person. “I need to talk to you” a quiet voice replied. Chris whipped opened the door standing face to face with Jane, his secretary.
“Why did you come to my house? My wife could be-” “I doubt she’ll be here anytime soon,” Jane said stepping into the Matthews apartment. “Get out of my house!” Chris furrowed his eyebrows and folded his arms across his chest.
“I'm here to apologize.” Chris could smell her perfume as she walked closer to him. “What are you talking about?” Chris said closing the door. “Remember the office party?” “Yes, what about it?” “I shouldn’t have let you drive me home.”
“You were wasted. I couldn’t let you drive.” “I could have called a cab or walked. You know I walk to the office every day.” “Yeah, but still…” Chris glanced down at the floor. “Also I’m sorry if I upset Sarah when you drove me home.”
“I didn’t tell her,” Chris said looking up and back at Jane. “Why not?” “I didn’t want to cause any issues.” “Look…” Jane said holding her hands up in surrender when she continued, “I don’t want to start anything between the two of you. I just wanted to stop by and say I’m sorry.”
“You could have talked to me at the office.” “I didn’t want to disturb you during work hours.” “So instead you come to my home? Can you leave?” “But I-”
“Go!” Chris shouted at Jane who had tears glistening in her eyes. He watched her slowly walk out of the apartment and down the hallway. Chris slammed the door shut and his phone rang which sat on his desk. Rushing over he answered, “Hello…Hi David…Is she okay?…No I haven’t talked to her…I’ll go over now.” Chris hung up the phone and headed to David’s condo.
**** “Sarah?” Chris said opening the door to David’s home. Walking inside he shed his coat on the hook near the front door. Sighing he saw Sarah curled up on the couch asleep with a photograph of him and Jane in her hand.
David took off his winter coat and laid it across a white plastic chair beside him. He leaned his head against the wall and couldn’t believe what had happened in the last few hours. He looked around the waiting room hoping that another one of the detectives from the FVSA squad would show up soon.
It was almost as of they knew what he was thinking because a few minutes later Detective Adam Darwood arrived with one cup of coffee in each of his hands. “Sorry, it took me a while to get here.”
David took the coffee which Adam handed him and took a large sip. It burnt his tongue, but he didn’t care then said “No worries. Any word on Greg Finch?” “Doctor said he’s fine. Just a flesh wound. So they’ll patch him up and we’ll send him to jail. Captain said two of us will interview him once he’s gone through the intake process and then booked.”
“Do you think he’ll get out on bail?” David said glancing to the double doors at the end of the hallway hoping to see a surgeon. “I doubt it. I mean he assaulted a police officer. Plus he has the charges of the murder and sexual assault of Odilia.”
“You do have a point,” David said with a sigh. “Any news on Rose?” “No, not yet. When I rode in the ambulance with her she was in and out of consciousness. Her vitals didn’t look good. So when we arrived here they rushed her straight to the O.R.”
“Keep me updated. I'm going to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat. Do you want anything?” “I’m good Adam, but thanks. And thanks for the coffee.” Adam nodded to David then strolled down the hallway towards the cafeteria.
David sat in one of the chairs and stared at the beige wall in front of him. His mind wandered to four years ago when he first met Rose. **** Four Years Earlier **** David was typing up the last of his paperwork from the previous day. Sarah had stopped by his condo with Chris for dinner the night before.
He missed seeing his sister and he was happy she had relocated to Philadelphia. Her writing career was going well. David was glad she found someone who supported her goals and dreams. Captain opened up his office door and called out to where the detectives were. “Buckman?”
“Yes, Captain?” “Can I see you in my office for a moment?” “Sure,” David said marking where he left off in his paperwork before going to the Captain’s office. “I wanted to let you know your partner will be arriving sometime this morning.”
“So soon? Detective Ethan Vinton just left.” “I know, but we’re short staffed. We need all the help we can get.” “What’s her name?” “Rose Atwell. Can you make sure her desk is cleared and show her the ropes?”
“Yeah. Is that all you needed? I want to finish up my paperwork from yesterday.” “That’s it.” David smiled at the Captain before leaving the office. Walking back over to his desk he saw a woman unpacking a box on a desk across from his.
“Excuse me are you Rose Atwell?” He felt bad as he had accidentally startled her. Rose placed a few framed photos on her desk before turning to David and said “Sorry. What did you say?” “Are you Rose Atwell?” “I am and you are…?” “David Buckman your partner.”
“Nice to meet you.” “You too. Did you need help with anything?” “I think I’m good.” “Who’s in the photos?” David said as he returned to his desk. “My fiancé Norman Sawford.” “When are you getting married?”
“We haven’t set a date yet. With the move and everything. I want to get settled.” “Where are you from?” “Southern California. I grew up there. I’m sick of the same weather practically all year around. I want to see the leaves change and experience a blizzard.”
“You’ll definitely have all that here.” “Buckman?” David looked to where his Captain was standing outside of his office. “Go to the local hospital. I need you to interview a victim. Can you take Atwell with you?”
“Sure.” The Captain returned to his office and swiftly closed the door behind him. “You ready?” David said putting his computer to sleep and slipping on his jacket.
“As I’ll ever be,” Rose said with a smile before putting on her sweater and zipping it up. **** Present Day **** “David?” Adam said standing in front of him. “Huh?” The surgeon wants to talk to you. “Oh, umm…thanks.”
David held his lukewarm cup of coffee as he briskly walked over to the surgeon. “How is she?” David said as he wore a worried expression.
“Better than expected. She’s been asking for you since she woke up. She’s still groggy from the anesthesia. She’s in room 224 and I’ll talk to you more about her recovery later.” “Thanks, doctor.” “You’re welcome.” David jogged to the room and he slowly opened the door and closed it behind him.
“David is that you?” his heart broke hearing how timid she sounded. “It’s me,” David said sitting his coffee on a table nearby and stood beside Rose’s bed. “How are you feeling?” “Exhausted. I don't feel any pain.”
“Do you need anything?” “Can you stay here?” David grabbed a chair from a corner of the room and placed it right beside her bed. “Don’t worry I’m not going anywhere,” David said holding Rose’s hand and giving it a gentle squeeze.
Sarah woke up to the sound of humming. It was just above a whisper, but its melody was soothing. She pulled the fleece blanket away from her chest, so it only covered her legs. Opening her eyes she blinked a few times. She was surprised to see her husband Chris sitting at the opposite end of the couch.
“What are you doing here?” Sarah said sitting up. “I wanted to talk to you about the picture of me and Jane.” “Are you cheating on me?” Sarah said with a straight face. She looked down at the picture and thought “why would he do this to me? Well to us.” Sarah placed a hand on her stomach.
“It’s not what it looks like.” “Sounds like your avoiding the question,” Sarah said as she ran her fingers through her hair. “No Sarah I’m not cheating on you.” “Explain then because this photo is telling me otherwise.”
“Remember the office party a month ago?” “Yeah. I couldn’t go because I wasn’t feeling good.” “At the party, I had one or two drinks. Jane, on the other hand, was drunk, very drunk. I drove her home even though she insisted she could drive or walk."
“You could have let me know. Why do you make everything so complicated?” Sarah stood up and placed her empty mug in the kitchen sink. “I’m sorry okay. I’m sorry I’ve been hurting you. I should have never put my hands on you and I should have told you about Jane.”
Sarah felt Chris’s hands on her shoulders and he turned her around to face him. Sarah cleared the lump in her throat to stop herself from crying. “I forgive you, but I want my space when I ask for it. There's been so much happening. It’s nauseating to think about.” “We need a vacation.”
“Yeah but I don’t have time to go on one now.” “Why not? I already booked it.” “You already-” Sarah held up her hand to calm herself. “I booked the trip the night before you were assaulted.”
“Where’s the trip to?” “Lancaster. I know you get sick of the city from time to time. Lancaster is the complete opposite of here.” “Then why did you leave to that morning?” “I wanted to wait until we were on vacation, but since you asked.”
Sarah looked at down at her husband’s hand which held a small black velvet box. “When I proposed to you a little over five years ago the ring I bought you wasn’t the best. So I’ve picked out a new one for you.” Chris said opening the box.
Sarah’s eyes went wide and she glanced back to Chris and then to the ring. “How did-” “Don’t worry about it. I love you. I want to fix all the terrible things I’ve done.” Chris gently slipped off the old engagement ring and replaced it with the new one.
“I love you too,” Sarah said kissing her husband. The front door whipped open and Sarah broke the kiss and faced the door. “Doctor?” Sarah said furrowing her eyebrows. She gripped the front of Chris’s shirt not wanting to move. “Victor, what are you doing here?” Chris said.
Dr. Victor Waterstein staggered into the kitchen and slurred his words. “Sarah…I want you to know that whatever you hear about me isn’t true.” “What do you mean?” Sarah said surprised she could even get a word out at this point.
“Police get on the ground now!” Half a dozen police officers with guns drawn ran to the living room. Sarah knelt to the ground as Chris hovered over her. She tried to stop her trembling, but nothing worked.
Greg darted his eyes from the metal table as one of the prison doors opened. Detective Adam Darwood and Detective Jake Milling strolled into the room. “I was expecting David Buckman. He and I have known each other for years and-” “He’s busy,” Adam said sitting across from Greg.
“Oh…” Greg laughed then continued “Is he crying over Rose?” “That’s none of your business. We’re here to talk to you about assaulting and murdering Odilia Zink.” “Can you prove it?” Greg arched his eyebrow.
“Dude!” Jake shouted then continued “Your DNA was found all over the crime scene. “And?” “That shows you’re guilty.” “Can I take a plea deal?” “A plea?” Adam said in frustration.
“You…” Jake paused then continued. “You not only assaulted and murdered a woman. You also held hostage and shot a detective. And your involvement with AO2050…” “AO2050 is my business. Don’t talk about us.” Greg yelled as his hands turned red from clenching his fists.
“It became our business when you sent Rose and Sarah a package to our department. We have every right to be involved.” “Well, what did you find?” “This box,” Adam said pulling a small box from his pocket. Opening the box there was a key inside with AO2050 etched onto it.
“You don’t even know what it’s for.” “We’ll figure it out.” “This is so messed up!” Greg then lifted his hands as high as they would go since his wrists were cuffed to the table. “Times up.” A correctional officer said stepping into the room.
“I’m not done talking.” Greg frowned. “Finch…you’ll get your visitation next month.” Greg watched as the officer led the detectives to the door and he eased dropped on their conversation.
“I’m sorry you have to deal with him,” said the officer. “We are too.” Has he been causing trouble?” Adam said buttoning up his coat. “Yes. He’s a pain.” “We’re sorry for you too.” “If we have any correspondence for Greg-”
“Drop it off with the official stamp.” “Thanks,” Adam said with a nod then he and Jake left the room.
Greg was glad when the officer returned and brought him back to his cell. Its walls seemed to be closing in on him. He couldn’t believe he found himself in this mess and he knew that he may never get out of it.
Sarah sat on a porch swing in the enclosed porch of their rented cabin in Lancaster. She could see for miles over the flatland covered in layers of snow. Sipping a cup of tea she thought about the past few weeks. She finally had time to read and to recollect herself.
Sarah smiled as the birds flew by the front window, probably escaping the cold and were headed South. “Sarah?” “Yeah?” she turned to face her husband who stood against the porch’s entryway.
“Your dad’s on the phone.” “He is? I haven’t talked to him since-” “I know. Try not to stress yourself out.” “Is my mom okay?” Sarah said with a frown. “Yeah. He told me she’s on the mend.”
“Good. Do you know why he’s calling?” “No. I can tell him you’re busy.” “I should talk to him,” Sarah said then stood up from the porch swing and stretched her body. “I’ll bring the phone to you…”
“It’s chilly out here now that I’ve stood up,” Sarah said with a soft smile and walked back into the cabin. **** “Are you saying it was my fault?” Sarah said as she laid in the bed and wiped the tears from her cheek.
“Well, you could have done something differently.” Her father said in a rough voice. “Differently?” Sarah said with a scoff then continued “My reaction to what happened to me doesn’t-” “You could have screamed?” “It wasn’t my first reaction. Father, I have to go-”
“Sarah I promised your mother we’d start talking and getting along." “I’m not going to agree with you just so we can pretend to get along. Goodbye.” Sarah abruptly ended the call. She tossed her phone to the opposite side of the bed and closed her eyes.
“How dare he!” she whispered to herself. Her father had stooped low in the past, but never something as bad as this. Sarah couldn’t believe he would say that to her. A knock on the bedroom door startled her from her thoughts. “How’s your dad?” Chris said opening the bedroom door and sitting on the edge of the bed.
“He thinks it’s my fault.” “What do you mean?” “The assault. He blames me for what happened.” “Why would he say something like that?”
Sarah ran her hand through her hair and continued, “That I should have screamed when the man burst into our apartment.” “That’s messed up honey. I’m sorry.” “It’s not your fault.”
Sarah held onto her husband’s hand and said “I was thinking about how he didn’t even visit me when I was in the hospital. But I remember he did send a bouquet of flowers.” “You mean the ones you had me toss in the trash once you found out they were from him?”
“Yeah. I just don’t understand why he’s so cruel to me.” “I don’t know why either.” Sighing she looked down at the blanket across her lap and said, “Even though we've had some rough patches lately you and I are still going strong.” Sarah felt Chris lift up her chin and gently kissed her lips.
“Thanks for everything,” she said then kissed her husband again. She knew everything would be alright. **** Sarah poured herself another glass of hibiscus tea into her mug as she answered a few emails. She heard her husband’s footsteps across the wooden floors and he stood behind her.
He slipped his arms around her waist and said, “I thought you weren’t working this weekend.” “I’m not.” Sarah said with a laugh and continued “Just answering a few emails. I don’t want to have massive emails to go through when we go back home.”
“Well…I’m about to make breakfast, so you if you want some hurry up,” Sarah smiled at Chris before returning to her emails. “Honey?” Sarah said about 20 minutes later when she took a bite of buttered toast. “Yeah?”
“Detective Adam sent me this video. He said it’s from the day of my attack.” She played the video and was surprised to see someone break into their home. “Who is that?” Chris said. “I…I don’t know. I’ll call Detective Adam to see if he can give us more information.”
Chris watched as his wife brushed past him and walked out of the kitchen. As he cleaned up the dishes from breakfast his mind wandered to the video. How could someone violate their privacy like that? Who was it? Was it someone they knew?
“Maybe it’s Dr. Waterstein?” Chris whispered aloud to himself. He had to meet with Dr. Waterstein somehow and talk to him face to face. One of the detectives texted him to where Dr. Waterstein’s was. He hoped he could get some information from Dr. Waterstein.
A few minutes later he heard Sarah return to the room and end the call. Chris turned towards his wife who sat at the kitchen counter and said “What did Detective Adam say?” “No I.D. on the man.” “Why not?” “The person who broke into our home. Only his side profile was seen.”
“How did Adam get the video?” Chris said. “Someone noticed the camera in the hallway. So the person called the landlord and the landlord called the cops.” Chris nodded unsure of what to say next. He wanted this to be a relaxing weekend for him and Sarah. He watched her shoulders slump and a soft sigh escape her lips. “Sarah, lets go out?”
“Out to where? It’s the middle of winter.” “It’ll be fun. Live a little.” “Fine. Let me throw on something warm.” **** Chris smiled at his wife who was talking about a memory of when they were in Lancaster last.
It was summer then and the flowers were blooming and they had gone to a few farmers markets. Sarah laughed and said, “Where’s this indoor market?” “It’s up here to the left,” Chris said pointing to the large brick building up ahead. A few minutes later Chris had parked the car.
He and Sarah walked hand and hand towards the market. The storefronts were decorated Christmas themed even though it ended two months ago. “I’ve heard this place is pretty crowded,” Chris said.
“But I’m sure we’ll love it.” Chris couldn’t believe how packed this market was. It’s perimeter and most of the middle was lined with mini shops. “So where do you wanna go first?” Chris questioned his wife.
“I see a stand that sells jams.” “Sure.” An elderly man greeted them who was dressed in Amish clothing. “Good morning,” the man said with a smile.
“Good morning.” Chris and Sarah said one after the other. “Would you like to sample anything?” The man gestured to the almost 30 variety of jams in all kinds of colors. “There’s sure a lot to choose from,” Chris said.
“I love mixing different ingredients and trying new things.” “How about something sweet?” Sarah said with a smirk. “Try this raspberry” the elderly man scooped two servings of jam into two tiny cups. Handed one to Chris and the other to Sarah.
“This is delicious,” Chris said with a smile as he looked at the elderly man. “Thanks.” “How much is it?” Sarah said. “Three dollars. But, if you buy two or more of that or any other flavors I can do two for five dollars.”
“Great deal,” Sarah said with a smile. Chris and Sarah were at the stand for 10 minutes more and walked away with ten dollars worth of jams. “Well, that was fun,” Sarah said as she and Chris walked past a few other shops.
“Yeah. These should last us a while too.” “I’m gonna go over to this vegetable stand. I’ve been wanting to make some soup.” “You rarely eat soup,” Chris said with a frown as he stood beside his wife who was picking up some winter vegetables.
“I don’t know if it’s the winter, being pregnant or both, but soup sounds so delicious right now. “What kind of soup do you want to make?” “I was thinking of something like a tomato or potato based. I’m also going to see if they have concord grapes. It’s tough to get them.”
“I’ll be here.” Chris looked out at the sea of people scattered around the market. Other then the market the surrounding area was so quiet. People moved at a slower pace and people weren’t in a rush to get anywhere.
Some days he did miss the small town where they once lived. Not that he didn’t love it in Philadelphia, because he definitely did but he missed knowing his neighbors. He would wave hello to people as he walked down the street. Or even going to his favorite corner store and bakery. He thought back to those times.
**** Four Years Earlier **** “I’m gonna miss this place,” Chris said with a sad smile. “I know. The food here is such a guilty pleasure.” Sarah said with a laugh. Chris could tell Sarah was attempting to lighten the mood, but it wasn’t working.
“Honey?” Sarah said placing her hand on his arm. “Hmm…” “You seemed lost.” “Yeah.” Chris said as his voice shook and he continued “I’m not going to get used to not seeing this place.”
“I feel the same way. If you don’t think we should move, we could convince the landlord to add another year to our lease.” “No, don’t worry Sarah. This town is so dead. Plus you’ll be closer to some publishers. You’ll never know what could happen.”
“You’re right.” Chris held Sarah’s hand as they strolled into the store. The walls were lined with local artwork and photography. A bookshelf stood in a corner filled with used paperbacks and little trinkets.
“Hi Sarah, Hi Chris.” The couple turned to see their favorite barista Grant holding two paper cups in his hands. “The usual?” Grant asked with a smile.
“Yep. Also, I want to add another drink. Can we get a large hazelnut coffee with cream and sugar and whip cream.” Chris said. “Oh…you’re being adventurous. The city’s getting to your head already. Grant said with a laugh as he prepared their drinks.
“You know we’ll be small town people at heart,” Sarah said grabbing a muffin from the counter. Chris smiled knowing this little town would always be part of him no matter where they moved.
**** “Chris.” Sarah stood with a reusable bag filled with vegetables in her hand. “I’ve called you like five times.” Chris smiled and said, “Sorry just thinking about the past.” “You wanna talk?” “No, it’s okay.”
“There's a cute pastry shop in the next aisle you wanna go?” “You and your sweets,” Chris said with a smile and held out his hand. “Here Sarah hand me the bag.” “I have it, it’s not too heavy.” “But it is heavy?” Chris raised his eyebrow.
“Somewhat.” Chris took the bag and began to walk towards the pastry shop. “The line is so long,” Sarah said. “We have time to talk. Have you thought about whether we’re having a boy or girl?”
“I would love a little girl. Couldn’t you see us with matching outfits, having tea parties, the list can go on and on.” Chris was happy there were sparkles in his wife’s eyes. The past month or so had taken a toll on her and he hoped things were going to calm down.
The line for the pastry shop moved faster than he anticipated. So after they brought their snacks, they sat down at one of the little tables near the end of the market. “It’s been such a good afternoon,” Sarah said wiping the crumbs from the side of her mouth.
“Yeah, it has. Anywhere else you wanna go?” “Back to the cabin. I need a bubble bath and some hot tea.” “Let’s go then.” Chris held Sarah’s hand as they left the market and headed back to the cabin. He hoped things would finally settle down.
To Be Continued