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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Here is the next chapter...

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           Hope to have some more exciting pictures soon, but these are still beautiful...

~Chapter Seven ~

Justin woke up gritty-eyed and irritable. The sun blazed through his shades blinding him with slat-like rays.

He sat up, rubbing tired eyes. A glance at the bedside clock told him he’d slept for six hours. It was almost noon. He flipped his feet to the floor and groaned. “I haven’t slept this late since I was a kid in school.”

The gray fur ball at the end of the bed came up and wrapped around his arm, meowing.

Justin laid a hand on his soft fur. “Yeah, yeah. I know. You’re starving to death.”

A plaintive meow was his answer. He chuckled and stood up. “Okay, breakfast coming up.”

About halfway through his walk down the hall, he remembered. His heart sped up causing an uncomfortable tightness in his chest. “Arianna.” He shrugged his shoulders and sauntered into the kitchen in no big hurry. Forcing her out of his thoughts wasn’t easy, but he needed to do it. Rooster meowed again and he chuckled, remembering the look on his mom’s face when he’d told her what he named the cat.

The look she gave him shifted from disbelief to ‘whatever.’

He’d stared at her for a moment then asked, “What?”

“You named your cat Rooster?”

“Yeah, after Rooster Cogburn. That’s who he reminds me of.”

She threw her hands up in the air. “I give up.”

He shook his head to dispel the memory. He didn’t want to get caught up in the last argument they’d had. He’d stormed out afterward, and then stumbled onto Arianna. Literally.

Her name came unbidden to his lips. “Arianna.” He liked the way it felt rolling off his tongue. The name matched the woman.

After feeding the cat and grabbing a bottle of water he went back to the bedroom and picked-up his running clothes. He went into the bathroom, emerging a few minutes later ready for his usual morning exercise. A run would do him good, or at least he hoped so. He needed to clear his head so he could begin his search for her son.

Outside, the weather was beautiful. The sun was high in the sky and beaming down like a giant sunflower in the sky. He shut his door and locked it with the keythen dropped it into the pocket of his running shorts.

The cute blond who lived next door was out on her patio watering some flowers and waved at him as he passed. It was funny because before yesterday he always got a little thrill when she waved and smiled at him. Today he felt nothing but friendliness.

“A little late today aren’t you?” She asked as he passed.

“Yeah, slept in, but it’s still cool enough to run.”

She smiled. “Yes it is. Be safe.”

He nodded and began a slow jog, readying to start his run. He knew he wanted to retrace yesterday’s steps. Maybe he would find some clue everyone else had missed. “Yeah right,” He scoffed. “Because I’m so much more observant than the police.”

A few minutes later he was at a full-out run. His eyes scanned every house up and down both sides of the street. Had she been held captive in one of them? He looked at the top of each one, searching for the small window she’d described but none fit the description.

An hour later, tired and disgusted, Justin jogged up to the gas station across from the park. He pushed the glass door open and went in, straight to the water cooler. He opened the door and caught the reflection of a middle-aged man standing behind him.

Chills sped up his spine at the look of hate he saw on the man’s face. But when he blinked and trained his eyes on the man’s reflection once more, his look was pleasant and friendly. Wow, I need to lighten up.

He grabbed a water and held the door open for the guy. He took it, said, “Thank you,” and Justin walked away. A power bar would hit the spot. He walked over to search the rows of candy bars until his eyes homed in on what he was looking for. He picked-up the oat-bran bar and tossed it onto the counter beside his water.

The middle-aged man was standing behind him now, and again, a little chill of fear spread over him. He looked Justin up and down then said, “Nice day for a run.”

Even though the guy was giving him the creeps, he was polite. “Yes it is.”

The man held onto a bottle of soda and a can of formula as if they were a lifeline. He gestured at Justin’s clothes. “How long you been running in these parts?”

“As long as I can remember. Probably twenty years.”

“Whoa. So you’re from around here?”

Justin didn’t like the questions but had no reason to ignore the man. “Yep, born and bred.” He smiled, trying to dispel his own since of unease.

“Me too.”

Justin didn’t know what to say. He felt bad for the thought that popped in his head, which was ‘I don’t care.’ It wasn’t a Christianly thing to think and he repented.

The cashier finally appeared from the back room and rung-up his items. Justin turned toward the older man. “Have a nice day.”

“You too Justin.”

Cold chills raced through his veins. How did the guy know his name? He took off out the door and jogged a couple blocks up the street, wanting to put distance between he and the creepy man.

Afraid he might’ve been followed, he veered off the regular walking trail deeper into the woods. With each step his fear intensified. He wasn’t a chicken, but something about that man had given him the creeps from the get-go. Should he report it? He shook his head. Nah, he was just being dramatic. Probably from lack of sleep. He retraced his steps and came back to the jogging trail. He’d seen a bench on his way by and it was calling his name. His legs trembled, threatening to fail him.

Suddenly, a phone call to his mom didn’t seem such a bad idea. Echoes of Mama’s Boy circled in his head, but he pushed them away. There was nothing wrong with loving your mother, even if they were overbearing.

The phone rang several times with no answer and his finger was already over the end button when he heard her voice. “Hello?”


“Justin, what’s wrong?”

How did she always know? “Wow, can’t a guy call his mom without anything being wrong?”

She laughed. “Yes they can, but when their voice trembles, moms know something is wrong.”

He thought about that for a moment. “Oh.”

“So are you going to tell me?”

“It’s nothing really. I just had a strange encounter at the gas station.”

“How so?”

“Some guy came in behind me and gave me the creeps. When I paid and turned to tell him to have a good day he said my name.”

“Really? That is strange. Are you sure you don’t know him?”

Justin sighed, feeling better after hearing his mom’s voice. “Positive. Anyway, it’s over now. I just called to tell you I love you and remind you how sorry I am about yesterday.”

His mom coughed. “Your apology is accepted. You don’t have to keep mulling it over. I know I over-stepped my bounds, but I’m getting desperate for grandchildren. I guess it’s a sign of my age.”

A picture of Arianna popped in his head, and a little faceless bundle with it. He shook his head. Today was really weird. “I know mom. It’ll happen when it happens though. I don’t want to rush into marriage and find out later I made a big mistake.”

His mom grunted. “That can happen even if you don’t rush into it.”

He nodded, agreeing. She was right about that. The thought of Arianna somehow broke his concentration and he wanted to get off the phone and call her.

“I know mom. But look, I have to make another call. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

She said quietly, “Yeah, yeah. I got it. Your use of me has depleted for the moment.”

“Mom, you know better. I promise I’ll call.”

“Okay, I’m holding you to it. Love you.”

“Love you too Mom.”

He stood up and slid the phone into his front pocket and began the return jog. He would go see her instead of call.

He could imagine the cold disdain he would face, but at this point it didn’t matter. His desire to see her was stronger. Somehow, she’d grown to be a part of him in less than a day. He couldn’t imagine a time when he didn’t know her, and he didn’t even know her yet.

“All right, Justin, stop the weird stuff.” He threw his water bottle and power bar wrapper in the trash can as he passed and poked ear buds into his ears. A sermon by his favorite preacher was what he needed right now.


 He watched as the younger man threw away his trash and headed back up the jogging trail. Jealousy overwhelmed him. It wasn’t fair she’d been rescued by a real prince charming. Maybe he would have to make sure Arianna never fell for that young, handsome face and athletic body…He rubbed a hand across his unshaven chin. “Maybe I will.”

He started his car and followed behind. It irritated him that he was wasting precious time out here following some young pup instead of at home tending to his new prize. But the idea of someone new had soured somehow. He missed Arianna.

He nodded his head as he drove. “Yep, I’m gonna get her back. She belongs to me, not Prince Charming.”

Losing interest in where the boy was going he veered right and headed home. He had to get rid of the new girl and feed the baby. Suddenly, life wasn’t so simple anymore.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Here is the next chapter...

                                       Some more of God's beauty to enjoy...




~ Chapter Six ~

Justin went home and dove into bed. The day had been a long one and he needed to recoup both physical and mental faculties. He would start out tomorrow with a plan to look for Arianna’s son.

It seemed so logical in thought. Execution wasn’t so easy. He tossed. And turned. And tossed some more. Her beautiful eyes haunted him. Her smiling lips enticed one in return. The hurt displayed in her very being at her father’s unkind words kept playing over and over in his mind.

He heaved a huge sigh. A glass of water might help the situation. He got up and padded to the kitchen on bare feet. The cold water was refreshing, comforting his dry throat, but that was the extent of it. He went into the living room and turned on the TV. The news channel it was sitting on displayed a red banner across the bottom with Arianna’s name splashed across it. He’d forgotten for a moment she’d become famous all those years ago.

He used the remote to switch it off and stomped back to his room. What was he going to do? His mind wouldn’t shut-up.

 Pray. He nodded, as if the suggestion was an audible one. “That’s what I’ll do.”

He dropped to his knees. “Dear Lord, please lead me. Guide me to Your will in this situation and give me wisdom and ability to achieve.” He dropped off praying, staying in the position for a long time. Silent. Waiting on God. Although he didn’t receive an answer at that moment, when he stood up, he felt at peace. He returned to bed and dropped off to sleep almost instantly.


Arianna lay in the hospital bed, grieving. She missed her baby. All the emotions she’d gone through during her pregnancy ordeal seemed so silly now. She’d wondered if she’d hate the child conceived in such monstrous sin. How could she love a child garnered through rape?

 Her face burned at the remembrance that popped to mind. She’d thought about smothering it. How could she have thought to do such a thing? To a child of her own womb? But never mind all that useless garbage. The minute she’d heard his first cry, she was in love.

That was two weeks ago. Those weeks seemed like an eternity. She couldn’t imagine what life was like without him. He’d given her the courage to end it all. How could she live knowing he’d spend his life in the same captivity she’d experienced for so long? Maybe his father would teach him to do the same.

An unstoppable “No!” burst forth.

That’s when she’d made plans to exit the picture. Maybe without her ‘The Monster’ might drop him off at a hospital or police station. After all, his plans to bring in another girl would leave him little time for a child.

As horrible as her next thought had been, she let the memory flow. Her precious child might be better off dead. In the arms of God than the monster who’d spawned him.

Silent tears slid down her cheeks. He was hungry. Her body told her that. The empty ache filling her was something she’d never experienced, even with everything she’d been through. If she lost her child, there truly would be no reason to continue on. Sobs shook her body and she was unable to stem the outpouring of grief.

“Are you okay, ma’am?”

Her head jerked toward the voice, but the room was too dark to see. She’d thought she was alone. “Who’s there?”

“It’s just me, ma’am.” A tall, skinny police officer stepped into the dim lighting.

She studied him for a moment. “Only if you can get Justin for me.”

“Ma’am, I can’t do that without permission.”

“I’m giving it to you.”

“From your parents.”

Anger filled her, even as tears continued to course down her cheeks. “I am an adult. I can make my own decisions.”

He moved forward, holding a pen and a piece of paper. “That’s not what I was told, ma’am. I’m sorry.”

Her fury grew. Through clenched teeth she said, “I just need to hear his voice. Is that too much to ask after everything I’ve been through? I don’t know why my parents feel threatened by him but I assure you he isn’t going to hurt me. He saved me. Out there on that trail, I would’ve died. Do you know how many people passed me up? Some even tripped over me, yet kept going.”

He shook his head. “I know. Our world is an atrocious place to live.” He looked down at the piece of paper and moved the pen across it, folded it up and handed it to her. He put a finger to his lips.

She understood. He was giving her Justin’s number, but she couldn’t tell anyone. How she’d explain having it wasn’t a worry right now. Talking to him was.

The police officer sat the hospital phone in front of her and left the room as silently as he’d entered.

She called Justin. It rang and rang, but he didn’t answer. The receiver was almost back to the base when she heard his groggy, “Hello?”

She pulled the receiver back to her ear. “Justin?”

“Arianna? Is everything all right?”

He sounded panicked.

“I…I just needed to hear your voice. Did I wake you?”

“Yes but it’s okay. I don’t mind.”

“My parents aren’t in here right now. I don’t know why they’re insisting I don’t talk to you, but I’m an adult.”

She went silent.

“Arianna? Are you there?”

“Yes. I feel better just knowing you’re on the other end of the phone. You make me feel safe.” The admission surprised her considering her vows never to trust another man. Never to be in a situation where someone could hurt her. Mentally or physically.

“I’m honored,” he said quietly.

“Justin, before you found me on that trail I wanted to die. I saw no way out. I’ve been praying for years for some miracle to save me, but nothing happened. Until you.”

“I’m glad I found you.”

“I am too. I think God sent you to rescue me.”

“I don’t know about that. Someone else could’ve found you first.”

She shook her head even though he couldn’t see her. “I was just telling the police officer how several people passed me by. Some even tripped over me, yet kept going. No, you’re the one.”

“I’m going to look for your son tomorrow.”

Arianna caught her breath. See, he is the one. “Oh Justin. Thank you so much. I don’t know how you’ll ever find him with so little to go on, but I know you’ll do everything in your power.”

“How do you know,” He asked.

She shook her head and shrugged. “I don’t know. I just do.”

Voice sounding hesitant, Justin asked, “Arianna, do you think he might hurt him?”

“I don’t think so. He really seems to love him.” She began to cry again. “I hope not.” She wasn’t sure about anything. All she knew at the moment was she was tired of the seesawing emotions and the tears. She believed in God, she just didn’t understand him. Why had he let her suffer so much?

She stifled a sob, but not before Justin detected it.

“Are you crying?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.”

His words were tender. Caring. “Don’t be sorry, Arianna.”

“I can’t help it. Every time I think I might start acting normal, my emotions go crazy again. I’ll be lucky if my parents don’t commit me over this.”

“I won’t let that happen.”

He sounded so sure. She wanted to believe him. “I’m tired now. Thank you for talking to me. I have your number. I’ll call when I can.”


The dial tone was Justin’s cue she’d hung up. He sat up on the bed and ran long, slender fingers through disheveled hair. “Dear Lord, I don’t know why she has such confidence in me. I have none for myself. Please help me help her.”

He lay back on the bed and tried to fall asleep, but it didn’t come. He was left to feel all kinds of emotions over the tormented woman he’d saved from death earlier in the day. How had she survived with any sanity intact? He knew he wouldn’t.

He tossed and turned. Covered and uncovered. All night long. The last thing he was aware of was the pink streaks of dawn splashing across the sky.


He watched the girl through a secret slot in the wall. She looked scared, but spunky. Excitement ran through him. He slid a piece of cardboard back over the slot and promised himself, “soon.”

The baby was crying. His first reaction was anger, but reaching the crib he took one look and smiled. A mini version of himself. Every man’s desire. “Yes Chance, you’re a keeper, but I know your mommy. She’ll never give up trying to get you back. In a few days, it’ll be moving day. Daddy’s got to find a place first, though.”

He moved to the mini fridge and pulled out a pre-made bottle. He unscrewed the nipple and stuck it in the microwave thinking it was a good thing Arianna had prepared several ahead of time.

It was a shame. She would’ve been a great mother. The microwave beeped and he got the bottle and screwed the lid back on. He tested it on his arm like he’d seen women do on TV and picked up his son, settling in the wooden rocking chair.

As soon as the nipple entered the baby’s mouth, he quieted. The only noise the slurping of eager little lips.

He dozed, only waking when the sound of air being pulled from the bottle alerted him the baby was finished. He patted his back to release all the gas bubbles, changed him and returned him to the crib.

He looked back at the baby once more, turned and exited the room, pulling the door shut behind him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The next chapter in Arianna's story has arrived...

                                                   As always, some pictures to enjoy...

~ Chapter Five ~
Justin pulled into the hospital parking lot, turned the key off and pulled it out. And sat there. Thinking. He was astounded how quick his life had changed. It seemed it was meant to be. If he was wrong, by the time he figured it out it would be too late. There was something about Arianna. Maybe it was how helpless she was. Maybe it was her soul calling to his…he coughed, embarrassed at his own fancies. “Come on Justin. Just get out and go in. What can they do, order you out?” He shrugged. “Exactly.”

He opened his door and pushed his foot over the edge. “Man, this is worse than the first day on a new job.” And you’re talking to yourself.

He forced his body out of the car and walked on wooden legs toward the entrance. He shrugged again. If they kicked him out, they did. He had to try to see her. He missed her sad, searching eyes. The ones that trusted him so easily. Amazing considering what she’d been through. Maybe that’s why she’d been kidnapped.

His walk down the hall seemed extraordinarily long. The tall, skinny cop was sitting on a chair outside the door reading a newspaper.

Justin pointed to the door. “Is everything okay?”

He shook the paper, folded it and dropped it beside his chair. One thin shoulder touched his neck for a brief moment. “Don’t have a clue. They threw us out.”

“What do you mean?” His heart rat-a-tatted against his ribs. What did they do to her?

“She went all crazy when we started asking questions. She wanted you back in the room, but we couldn’t allow that. Department policy.”

“I am the one who found her, you know. You’d think they’d want me in there if it makes her feel more comfortable, and safe.” He frowned.

“The girl is obviously in shock. Lord knows what that guy did to her.”

Anger rose to the surface. “Stop talking about her as if she’s just a subject on a piece of paper. She’s a living, breathing human being who deserves compassion and understanding.”

The cop held his hands up. “Calm down, son. You barely know the girl. For all we know she’s coo-coo.”

He could barely keep from slapping the insensitive cop. His voice colored with anger, he said, “Is it also department policy to talk about victims in that manner?”

The older man’s face wore surprise. He searched Justin’s for a moment then frowned. “No it isn’t. I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. Maybe I’m tired, but that’s no excuse.” He shook his head.

Justin was shaking his own head. “Don’t worry about it, but you need to work on the compassion thing. Do you think I could get in to see her?”

“I don’t know. Her parents left a few minutes ago. They probably went to terrorize the cafeteria workers.”

Justin couldn’t stop the smile that leapt to his lips. It was nice to know someone else didn’t like them, either. “I’m going to go in, then.”

The police officer shrugged once more and bent to pick up his newspaper. “Be my guest. If she’s awake, she’ll probably talk for you anyway.”

Justin opened the door and stuck his head through then stopped and backed out. “Where’s your partner?”

The cop dipped his head to the right. “He went to the restroom.”

Justin nodded. “Okay. I’m going in.”

The room was dark except for a dim light behind where Arianna lay. He moved toward the bed on silent feet. She was out. Even in sleep her expression was pinched, lines of worry and stress mapping her face. Tenderness washed through him. He gulped to keep a sob from escaping. He wasn’t used to this kind of emotion. How could one tiny woman cause so much feeling to erupt within him?

He grabbed a chair and set it right beside her bed. He couldn’t imagine ever being strong enough to get through an ordeal such as the one she’d endured. And he didn’t even know the half of what happened. Maybe he didn’t want to. He wondered about the baby. Was he okay? Would the man hurt his own child to get even with her? He hoped not.

She stirred, but didn’t wake.

He sat up to stare at her more closely. He’d intended to look up a picture of her while at home, get a feel for what she’d look like under normal circumstances, but he’d had other things on his mind. Besides, she’d been a child when he’d kidnapped her.

She stirred again, murmured, “Justin?”

He stood up and stepped to the bed. “Yes?”

Her emerald eyes popped open and stared at him. He jumped, not expecting it. Shivers ran up and down his arms and legs. He couldn’t read what was written in them, but it scared him.

A small smile tickled the corners of her curved lips. “I’m glad you came back.” She reached a hand out and lay it over his where it rested on the cold metal of her bed.

The move pleased him, even as her easy trust in him was worrisome. She’d been through years of horror, yet she trusted him with a fullness that was confusing. He had to say something.

He reached out and pushed a strand of red hair behind her ear, captivated by the way it shimmered in the low light behind her head. “Arianna, why do you trust me?”

Her eyes closed for a brief moment in time. When she opened them, they were full of emotion. Gratitude? He wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know. There’s just something about you.”

He chuckled.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing. I was thinking the same thing.” Not letting go of her hand, he moved back and took his seat.

Her words hesitant, she said, “You…you were?”

He smiled. “Yeah.”

The moment was special, but he wanted to get some information that would help the police before someone came back. “Arianna, tell me about your son. I want to find him, but I need a starting point.”

She pulled her gaze from his and stared at the ceiling. “I honestly don’t know. I told you all I remember.”

“I know, but maybe if you think about it when you aren’t under such pressure you can remember something that will help.”

Seeming to ignore him she said, “I used to love sitting in front of the window on Sundays and listening to the bells as they rang. It was calming somehow.”

“That’s nice. I like church bells, too…” His heart sped up. Church bells? There was only one church in the area near the park that rang their bells on Sunday. St. John’s Catholic Church.

“Arianna, can you remember what way they came from?”

She shrugged a bony shoulder, squinted her eyes closed. Her lips worked back and forth.

If the moment wasn’t so important he would laugh. It was cute.

“I know People would walk past the house while they were ringing. They’d go up the street to the left.”

His back straightened in excitement. “That’s great. Good job.” He couldn’t hide the smile that widened his lips. He had a place to start.

Silence reigned for a few minutes then he said, “Tell me about him.”

“Who? ‘The monster?’ Or Chance?”

“Both. But Chance first.”

Her pale face brightened, eyes lighting like lights on a Christmas tree. “He’s perfect. He has a head full of red hair. His eyes are green like mine. His fingers are cute and perfect, and so are his toes. He’s a good baby and hardly cries. Only when he’s hungry or wet.”

Justin didn’t know what to say. She loved him that was obvious. “He sounds awesome. You said he had a cough?”

Some of the light dimmed. “Yes. I don’t know much about babies, Justin. It’s a horrid sound. Like when your throat gets dry and you can’t clear it.”

He shook his head. Maybe he didn’t get his airways cleared enough and it had caused infection. He didn’t want to tell her that, though. “So did the…mons…the guy, let the baby stay with you at night?”

She looked at him then, sorrow in her eyes. “Not at first. He took him away as soon as he was born and kept him that whole first day. I was frantic. I needed to see him. Hold him, you know?”

Justin shook his head in agreement, angry that she’d been denied so much. “Yeah I think I do.” He’d watched TV. He knew the first few moments were the most important in the birth process.

“But after the first couple days, he got tired of getting up to feed him and brought him to my room. I was so happy. His little baby smell was a joy to me.”

Justin turned his head so she wouldn’t see the tears shimmering in his eyes. He couldn’t define the ache inside him completely, but knew it went far beyond sympathy. What must it have been like? Giving birth to a child from the result of an act you couldn’t control? And still, she loved that baby. Another string holding his heart hostage broke. She was an amazingly strong woman.

She squeezed his hand under hers. “Justin, what’s wrong?”

He swiped at his eyes with a sleeve and turned to her, knowing his eyes were bright with unshed tears. Real men didn’t cry.

He smiled. “Nothing. I must have something in my eye.”

She patted his hand. “Don’t cry for me Justin. It’s over now. At least most of it. As soon as I get my baby back, it’ll all seem like a horrible nightmare.”

He shook his head in agreement. “Yeah.”

Noise outside the door warned him someone was about to come in. “Arianna, I will look for him. I won’t stop until I find him.”

She returned his nod. “I know you will Justin. Thank you so much. For everything.”

Tears pooled in her emerald eyes now and he couldn’t help thinking it linked them somehow. The sense of shared urgency that had spread between them at the noise was amazing. They hadn’t spoken, yet both knew without words. They were going to make him leave and she wouldn’t get to speak privately to him again. At least for now.

He stood to leave, not looking forward to the expulsion he knew was coming. He wanted to do it willingly.

Arianna’s father came through the door, whatever words he’d been speaking froze on his lips when his gaze fell on Justin.

“What are you doing back? What do we have to do to make it clear we don’t need you here?”

“I’m leaving sir. I just wanted to come say goodbye to Arianna.”

Her father’s words were clipped with rudeness. “Well I’m assuming you’ve said it, so goodbye.”

“Daddy,” Arianna cried.

His gaze turned to her. “No Arianna. Your pleas aren’t going to work. You’re not a little girl anymore. We appreciate what he did for you, but we’re done with him now. He can go back to his real life, whatever that is.”

Justin cringed with the insult, but tried not to let Arianna see his anger. With uncharitable disgust he thought, I wonder which was worse: Living in a house with her parents, or being kidnapped and abused by some random stranger. He immediately repented of his less than gracious thoughts and addressed Arianna. “I’m gonna leave now, Arianna. Please talk to the police so they can find your son.”

Her voice was soft and quiet. “Okay Justin.”

He turned and walked out the door, certain he would be seeing her again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's finally here. Late is better than never, right?

                                    Of course I can't resist adding pictures of what I love .




~ Chapter Four ~
Justin paced in the hall while the police talked to Arianna. His mind couldn’t hold a thought before flitting to another. He was…captivated.
He passed the door and tried to peek in the long narrow window, but someone stood in front of it.
She had mental issues. Her actions proved that. One minute she was full of despair, the next laughing with him like an old friend. He should run. This wasn’t his deal. He didn’t know her, didn’t need this in his life. His mother was already more than he wanted to handle.
He paced away then stopped when the door opened. He looked up, expecting to see the police on their way out. But no. It was her father. Dread filled him. The man didn’t like him, that was apparent.
“You can leave, Mr. Hollander. The police will be here for quite some time and your ‘good deed’ has been completed.”
The sneer in the older man’s voice angered him. “I can stay…”
“Don’t you have a job? Or maybe something else you could be doing right now?”
The sneer in his words snapped Justin’s resolve to be polite. “Look. I don’t know what your problem is with me, but in case it’s escaped your notice, I’m the one who rescued your daughter. I know I don’t know her, but since I am the one who tripped over her lying on a path in the middle of a jogging trail spurting blood from the neck, that kind of gives me a reason to be here. If she doesn’t want me here, she will tell me.”
The door opened again and a police officer with iron-gray hair stepped out. “Mr. Hollander, is it?”
Justin straightened to his full five feet eleven inches, pulling his shoulders back. “Yes sir.”
“We need you to leave for the time being. The young lady is trying to give her statement but she can hear you yelling out here and all she’s worried about is what her dad is saying to you.”
“I’m sorry, son. You can call later and ask if she wants to see you.”
His shoulders rolled forward in defeat. That was it. He was being thrown out. “Okay. How long will the statement take?”
The cop looked at him, sympathy plain on his tired-looking face. His blood shot eyes darted from Arianna’s father then back to him. “I don’t know son, most likely a few hours.”
“A few hours? Don’t you think that’ll be too much on her? I mean, she’s been through so much already and…”
Suspicion jumped into those blood-shot eyes and he pulled the door closed behind him. “What do you know about what she’s been through?”
“Only what she told me, sir. When should I call to see if she’s done?”
The police officer hedged, “I don’t know. We’ve got your number don’t we?”
“Yes. It’s on my original statement.”
“Good, good. We’ll call you.” He opened the door, turned and said, “Are you coming Mr. Rathburne?”
Arianna’s father followed the cop inside and the door closed behind them.
‘The monster’ sat in the waiting room hoping for an opportunity to see her. The boy had been fed and was now sleeping like a baby. He grinned at his own play on words, even though they only played in his own mind.
He studied the man who’d found her on the trail, not liking what he saw. He could’ve been a movie star, or a model. Jealous rage filled him. Why did it have to be him that found her?
He looked around the room, hoping he didn’t look too cagey. His heart beat against his ribcage in fear, and exhilaration. There was something about being where he shouldn’t. It gave him a sense of excitement. But he couldn’t let them catch him. He had the boy to take care of. And the new girl. He groaned in anticipation. He’d waited so long for a new victim. Arianna had been a handful. Every time he’d mentioned a new girl she’d gotten crazy. He couldn’t take that. Until now. His desire for newness drove him to go against her wishes. So he’d given her a child to keep her busy. But he hadn’t counted on this. Fury filled him as his eyes clouded with tears. No! He would not feel emotion. He couldn’t afford to. He got up and strode from the waiting room, not caring who saw him.
Justin stood there for a full minute, trying to get his anger in check. They’d dismissed him like a kid. He took a deep breath and strode down the hallway toward the door. A sudden commotion caught his attention and he looked up as a handsome, middle-aged man got up from his seat and stormed out of the waiting room. He said under his breath, “I can feel you, man.”
Outside, he strode toward his car. What should he do now? Weird how his whole perspective on life had changed with one event. He couldn’t even think of work right now. It seemed boring and uneventful. Arianna lay in the hospital. Even though her parents were there, he had a feeling that would give her little real comfort. She may have missed them but he doubted they had a real capacity for human emotion. Hence her father running him off. What had he done? But rescue his daughter…
Justin stopped, key in hand. He pursed his lips, squinted his eyes. It couldn’t be. Could it? Was her dad nervous? Was he feeling guilty? Justin shook his head and opened the door of his little blue sedan. “I need some coffee. There isn’t a boogeyman around every corner.” He slid into the driver’s seat and started the car. He drove out of the parking lot unaware ‘the monster’ really was around the corner, watching him.
Arianna cringed. Her grip on reality was beginning to fade once more. To the hiding place it went when things got to be too much. The door opened and she looked up in anticipation. Justin. But it was her dad and the other police officer. “Where is Justin, Daddy?”
The short, stocky cop said, “Ms. Rathburne?”
She ignored him. “Daddy, where is he?”
The short cop looked over at the tall, gray-haired one and gave a nod, returned his gaze to her. “Ms. Rathburne. What else can you tell us about the perp?”
Her mouth straightened in a hard line. “I’m not talking until you bring Justin back.”
“We’re not bringing Justin back until you tell us more about this guy, Arianna. We sympathize with your plight but you can’t withhold evidence from us.” The stocky cop looked over at the woman psychologist they’d brought with them. She was shaking her head negatively.
The cop cleared his throat. “I mean, we need to know what went on. You were gone for a long time.”
She’d had enough. “You don’t need to tell me that you jerk! You’re not the one who was tied-up, beat, raped, degraded!” She screamed. And Screamed, and screamed.
The doctor nodded at the nurse. She rushed over with a needle and pushed it into the IV. “This interview is over gentlemen.”
“We need this information,” the officer with iron-gray hair demanded. “This nut job might have other women. And we know he has her son.” He looked at Arianna’s mother, his steely-blue eyes hard and determined.
“I want my son,” Arianna slurred, the medicine already knocking her out.
“That may be true, but my daughter’s well-being is what’s most important right now,” Her mom answered.
The cop returned, “You don’t care he may have other victims?”
Arianna’s mother pulled her head up and looked down her nose. “I do, but let’s face it, if he does they aren’t Rathburnes.”
Both policeman gasped as the doctor escorted them from the room.
Justin opened his apartment door and threw the keys on the counter as he went through the kitchen.
He hated the solitary white walls and hollow sound of this place, but nonetheless, it was home. He’d lived here for two years, but the only picture on his wall was a portrait of his mother he’d painted in college. He stared at it. He’d done a good job, but he was no artist.
He opened the fridge and pulled out the milk jug, tipped it up and chugged a good portion before re-capping it and returning it to the otherwise empty shelf. “Man, I need to go to the store.” He shut the door and sauntered into his office.
This room was the only one in the whole place he felt at home in. His wooden desk took up the biggest part of the space, but it was okay because there were wall-to-wall bookshelves, which he’d stuffed to over-flowing with computer parts and books. Yes, he was a bookworm as well as a computer geek. His only claim to normalcy was he rarely played video games. He figured he was a man, not a child. The world would be a better place without all the men spending their time with their noses stuck in a game.
All around his desk he’d set-up benches for the computers he worked on. One bench held those already fixed. One the ones he was working on and the other the ones waiting on parts.
He plopped into his leather computer chair and sighed, running his hand through his hair. “What am I going to do, Lord?’ He never got an audible answer, but that didn’t stop him from asking anyway. “Should I let it go, or should I go back and deal with the obvious dislike of her father?”
He leaned over his desk and picked up the Bible. He knew God’s will was in here, he just didn’t know what it was for this specific incident. “Please lead me to it, Lord.”
He picked the book up and opened it. His eyes fell on Romans 8:28. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.’
He set it back on the desk in front of him. “Now what is that supposed to mean? Is it really a message, or am I just being stupid?” I don’t know, but I’m all for any help I can get. He sighed again, shoving his hand through his hair once more in frustration. “I guess I’ll go back until the time I feel I shouldn’t.”
He sat in his truck down the street and watched. The man had gone in one of the apartments about thirty minutes ago and hadn’t come back out. “This must be his place.” He cackled. If this man had anything to do with Arianna, he’d know where to find her.
He started the engine and pulled away from the curb. Time to check on the baby. And his new girl. He laughed as his heart thrummed with excitement. He couldn’t wait. He’d picked this one up using the internet. He loved the invention of social-networking. He’d never run out of gullible, giggly teens. He smiled in glee as he turned the truck north, toward home.
“Hold on Natalie, papa’s got a new gig.” His head fell back and he gave a maniacal laugh that would make a murderer cringe.