~ 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.