Chapter Eleven ~
Jude and Jackson had been out searching for Justy for hours. They finally admitted defeat at around midnight. She was nowhere to be found.
"Let's go back to her suite and see if she left some kind of clue." Jude said tiredly.
"If she'd left a clue we would've surely found it the first three times we looked," Jackson returned.
"I know, but we can’t do anything else.”
"That's true, let's go."
They walked to Justy's suite together, tired and feeling down. They were both expecting to find an empty suite, so they were surprised when they walked in and Justy was sitting on her bed.
Jude asked, "Where in the world have you been? We've been out looking for you all night.”
"I wasn't aware I was your prisoner or I would've asked permission to leave," She snarled rudely.
"You shouldn't be so rude, Justy. This man is giving you a place to stay.” Jude returned angrily.
"I don't have to stay here. I only came because you wanted me to. I'll leave first thing in the morning, but for right now, get out!" She screamed.
Jude and Jackson looked at each other and then back at her. She was exhibiting signs of a mental break. They left the room and headed straight to Jackson's office.
"What do you think is wrong with her?" Jude asked worriedly. He was still hoping she wasn't guilty.
"I think she's having a psychotic break."
"You're not serious? Don't you think it's possible she's just overwhelmed with her parents' deaths and everything that's happened since?"
"Okay Jude, I'm not trying to make you angry, but you're going to have to come to terms here, bloke," Jackson said gently. "She isn't looking very innocent right now."
"I know that, but what kind of man would I be if I didn't try to defend her?"
"A smart one from where I'm standing."
"I can't believe you said that, Jack. I'm gonna go outside and cool off. Don't wait up for me." Jude sprinted out the office door and down the staircase that led to the front door.
She watched as he walked around the huge Masters Estate. He was angry, and that was a good thing. Maybe she could get closer to him by using that anger to force a wedge between him and his new best friend. She’d waited entirely too long for this occasion in her life and she didn't want to give-up on her brilliant plans so soon. She hopped down from her perch high up in a Sycamore tree and raced across the darkened path so Jude wouldn't see her.
She couldn't let him know she'd been here tonight. If he'd seen, her cover would’ve been blown. She had the perfect plan in place to put all the blame on his new girlfriend and leave her in the free and clear. She ran until she reached the high, black wrought-iron gates and scaled them like a pro. Well, that was because she was a pro, now wasn't it? She cackled to herself and jumped, landing in a roll on the other side of the gate. She got up in one smooth motion and sprinted to her car, barely winded.
Jude walked around the beautiful estate, not in the least worried about it not being safe. He trusted the security Jackson had in place. His newest security feature was a computer program that scanned the faces of everyone who came on his property. If someone entered the property whose face hadn't been scanned sirens would go off and automatically call the police. He had a guard station at the main gate that did facial recognition. In addition to that, there was the fingerprint scanner he’d had installed last year. He was thinking about getting a retinal scanner but had held off so far for fear it would make his house seem more like a fortress than a home.
Jude prayed. It was something he did when he was uncertain about what God's will was for him. These quiet times of prayer had greatly matured him into a believer who had faith and trust in the sovereignty of God.
"Dear Lord, please lead me and guide me and give me knowledge of the truth and the desire of your will, amen."
He continued to walk, thinking about what had transpired in the last few days. He couldn't believe he'd fallen for Justy so hard. If she was guilty, he would never trust a woman again. What if it was her? Was it even a possibility? She already had her face in the recognition program. She could move freely all over the estate and no one would think anything of it. Well, except Jackson. He already believed Justy was guilty. The wind came out of his sails when he admitted he was beginning to think it was more than a possibility, too.
"Hey Jude, what are you doing out here?" Chester, the butler and Jackson's uncle, asked him.
"I'm just trying to clear my head. Is something wrong?" He'd been gone for a long time, something could've happened since he left the house.
"Nope, I was just taking my nightly walk. I've been doing it for about a year now. The doc says I have to be kind to my heart, and that entails exercise." He threw a rueful grin in Jude's direction.
Jude laughed. He liked Jackson's uncle. He was a good man. "Yes, we have to be kind to our hearts."
"What ails your heart, son?"
"I don't know exactly. I've fallen for Justy Sanders. I went to school with her, and there's a little bit of bad history between us. When she came back into my life my heart slammed to the ground and back up to my chest region."
“So you’ve fallen for her. What’s so wrong about that?”
"She might've stomped on my heart on its trip to the ground. We think she might be the serial killer we're looking for."
"She's around the children. She's around Amy. Are you sure?"
"I'm not sure, but the certainty is growing stronger every minute. I got angry at Jackson for suspecting her, but the truth is, I do, too.”
“You need to get it resolved, son.” Chester gave his shoulder a squeeze and continued on his walk, leaving Jude alone in the dark once more.
She watched from the shadows as he talked with the old geezer. After what he'd done in high school he didn't deserve to love anybody. She followed behind him until he went back into the house to be around all his freaky friends. She used the back stairs that led up to her balcony to get back into her suite, just like she'd done before.
When Jude got in the house he went to the kitchen for a soda. He wasn't ready for bed yet and he owed Jackson an apology, and it was eating at him.
He walked over to the refrigerator and opened the door to get a soda. He grabbed one, popped the top and gulped it right down. He shut the refrigerator door and turned around. Justy was standing there with a knife in her hand. The look in her eye was maniacal, and Jude felt a shiver of fear go up his spine.
He found his voice and asked, "What are you doing with a knife?" He was stalling while he reached into his pocket and hit redial.
"I heard a noise and thought it might be the killer."
Jude knew she was lying. He couldn't believe he'd ever been tricked by her. The evil she exuded was plain as the nose on her face.
"Well, it's just me. You can put the knife down, sweetheart." He used a calm tone and tried to make his large body relax so he seemed less imposing.
"Don't call me sweetheart Jude Johnson. You are so full of yourself, aren't you? You're going to tell me the truth, or I'll kill you right now like I did my parents and that sniveling cheerleader. "Oh please don't kill me. What did I do?" She mimicked in a hardened tone. "Pulease...give me some credit. She may have gotten you first, but she can't have anybody now." Her tone was triumphant and alarm rushed through Jude’s body.
"What happened to you?" Jude asked mournfully. "You used to be such a sweet, lovable girl."
"You happened to me."
"No, you're not going to blame this on me. You're messed up mentally girlie, but I didn't have anything to do with it."
"Oh yes you did. I didn't get this way until after that incident in high school."
"Justy, be honest with yourself." He was hoping the police would be here any minute. "I told you not to go up on that stage, but you did it anyway. You were messed up even back then. Yes, I was a jerk and I admitted that to you. I've felt the pain of your embarrassment thousands of times over the years. I've repented of my sin and I've been forgiven. But there's no way you can honestly pin four murders on me."
"Four? You mean three, don't you?" I only killed three people."
Jude looked at her quizzically. "Who did you kill?"
"I killed the parents and that sleazy cheerleader you had sex with back in high school." At his look of confusion she screamed, "It wasn't a big secret! You can't imagine the pain it causes someone to see the man she loves with someone else."
"Justy, I can't help you if you don't stop this foolishness. Put the knife down." She wasn't making a lot of sense and what she was saying wasn’t adding up.
"Oh, I have to kill you Jude. That's the way it is. You have to pay for how awful you were back in high school." She lunged at Jude then, thrusting the knife toward his face.
Jude grabbed her and pulled the knife from her grasp. He twisted her around with her hands behind her back and held her with one hand while he pulled a twist-tie from his pants pocket. He tightened it around her wrists, pulled her over to the refrigerator door and tied her to it with another twist-tie.
"You need to talk to me before the police get here." Jude said just as the whole team burst through the kitchen door.
"You do. You're going to need some leverage to keep you away from the needle." Jackson walked over in front of her. To Jude he asked, "Did you check her for weapons?"
"I didn't. Her hands are tied, I think we're good."
"She's an expert with a knife." Jackson walked over and began to pat her down, and she pulled a knife from behind her and tried to stab him with it.
He grabbed it from her and took it over to the sink because it was dripping with blood. "Are you gonna tell us anything?"
"I'm not saying a word. You'll find out soon enough. But it would've been better if I'd been the one to kill you because she is planning on dismembering you while you're still alive," She cackled.
Jude felt a moment of alarm. How could there possibly be two women he'd wronged in such a horrible way that they would want him dead? He was sure he would've remembered someone who hated him so much. How could he not? "Who are you talking about?"
Two policemen came in just then, one of them Officer Overstreet from the unfortunate recycle bin incident a few nights ago. "Hello Officer Overstreet. We need you to take her into custody." Jackson gave him a friendly smile.
"Yes Sir Mr. Jackson. I'll take her right to county lock-up."
"Make sure you keep a very close eye on her. She's killed at least three people, maybe more." Jackson warned.
"You bet ya, Sir." Officer Overstreet cut her twist-tie with a Swiss army knife-looking tool and led her out the kitchen door.
After everyone had given their statements the police left and the house was quiet once more.
They all sat down at the kitchen table to pow-wow.
"Who else hates you, Jude?" Jackson asked forthrightly.
"I don't know, man. I've wracked my brain for an answer, but I have no clue. I think I would've remembered another woman, just like I remembered Justy."
"We've got to figure it out before she gets to you," Amy said.
“You got that right.” Who could it be? Was she going to get to him before he figured it out? Dear Lord, please don’t allow it to be so.