Some of God's beauty to enjoy...
~ Chapter Sixteen ~
Justin’s heart pounded. Should he call the police? No, he couldn’t. ‘The monster’ might realize he’d been found out. He couldn’t take that chance. He laughed at the play on words he hadn’t intended. Chance. His new stepson. The tenderness he’d experienced back at the cabin rushed through him once more. He had a son. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t blood. He was his.
The older man disappeared inside the house and Justin turned the old truck’s engine off to wait. For what, he didn’t know. But he was positive he was in the right place. It couldn’t be coincidence the man had his front door padlocked.
A thought crossed his mind and he caught his breath. The other girl must still be in there. He couldn’t leave her behind. That would be monstrous. But how was he going to get a baby and a girl out without being caught? The answer was obvious: Dear Lord, please lead and guide me and enable me to free them, if it be Your will.
Suddenly, he felt confident things would go well. He pulled a can of soda from his bag and popped the top. Might as well relax and eat some breakfast.
As the day wore on Justin’s emotions ran wild. One minute he felt assurance he would succeed, the next he wasn’t sure of anything. He kept a steady stream of prayers up through it all. God was the only thing he was sure of at this point.
Hours later, Justin was irritable. He had to pee and there was nowhere to go and he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the man again. Wouldn’t he leave at some point?
Justin imagined himself sitting in the truck, beard full and bushy and hair long and uncombed. He laughed at his silliness. “I need to get a grip Lord.”
His mind drifted back to the cabin. Was Arianna okay? Did Mary Jo cook for her? Of course she did. She’s a good woman.
The front door of the house opened up. Justin caught his breath and sat up straight. This is it, Justin. The moment you’ve been waiting for. His heart pounded against an unprepared ribcage in angst. Slouching in his seat, he hoped the guy hadn’t been watching him, watching him all day. That would be bad.
He watched as the guy slipped the padlock key back in his pocket and walked down the sidewalk as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
Justin sat in indecision. How long should he wait? What if the guy came back and caught him? And for that matter, what if he couldn’t even get in?
He pulled his shoulders back. “All chances I have to take.”
He searched the sidewalk where ‘the Monster’ disappeared. He was gone. With a shaking hand he pulled the handle on the truck door and stepped onto the road. It was pretty dark. Hopefully some concerned citizen wouldn’t call the police on him. Or maybe hopefully they would. He shrugged. No matter. This was in God’s hands.
He jogged across the street and up the steps to the door. Of course he couldn’t get in here. The door was metal and secured. He jumped off the steps and around the side of the house. He examined the foundation at ground level. Was there a basement? There was!
Her rushed over to the window and not giving a second’s pause, wrapped his jacket around a fist and put it through the window. He pushed the glass out and stuck his head inside. It was pitch black. He grabbed the flashlight from his pocket and shined it around. Musty and nasty. Yuk. He pushed himself to slide through the window and onto the basement floor.
Once standing again, he checked his phone for service. Yep. Good.
He found the stairs and climbed up. There was a door at the top. Please don’t let it be locked, Dear Lord. He grabbed the handle and twisted. It opened into the kitchen.
A low whistle of amazement slipped out. The place was immaculate and filled with new-looking appliances. The guy must be loaded. What did he do for a living anyway?
Justin shook his head. It doesn’t matter. Find the baby. And the girl.
He checked this way and that, making sure no one else was about.
As he walked into the living room a horrible thought crossed his mind: What if ‘the Monster’ had the place wired for surveillance? In paranoia he looked at all the corners and crevices he could see. Nothing. He let out a pent-up breath of relief. Good.
A loud crashing noise from upstairs caused him to just about jump out of his skin. A long scream of fury followed it. “You creep! Let me out of here!”
The girl. Had Arianna said her name? He couldn’t remember.
He headed up the stairs, following the long string of profanity that erupted from the girl’s mouth.
Justin realized he was shaking his head in disgust because the girl was cussing like a sailor. Who did he think he was, anyway? She was being held hostage by a man that had all kinds of mean, sadistic things in store for her.
He stopped outside the door. It was held by a heavy bolt lock. The kind you might find on a barn door. He tugged at it and it slid over with a loud clank. How must she feel every time she hears this noise? How had Arianna felt? Compassion filled him.
The door swung open and he was face to face with a young girl. She was shackled to the wall, arms and legs held far apart. The clothes she had on were ripped and filthy. He turned his head away.
“Where is the baby?”
Her voice held suspicion. “Who are you?”
“A friend of Arianna.”
He peeked up at her, trying to concentrate on her face. There was hope etched in her wide blue eyes. “The baby?”
She jerked her head to the left. His gaze followed.
A bassinet, covered by an old blanket, was partially visible. He rushed over and looked down into the bed at the sleeping baby. He whispered, “Chance.”
The door downstairs opened then slammed shut. His eyes darted to the girl, terrified.
“Get in the closet!”
“He’ll know the door was opened…” He raced out the door, re-bolted the lock and looked around. He saw a door at the end of the hall.
This is it, Dear Lord. Help me now if it be Your will.” He rushed into the room. His heart sank. It was his bedroom. In a split second he took in the opulence and comfort of the cozy room. It looked nothing like the room of a monster Justin would’ve imagined.
He saw another door. A closet! He dove inside and slammed the door just as footsteps came up the wooden steps.
Justin crouched down behind a myriad of fancy suits, shrinking as far back as he could manage. He imagined the guy could hear his heart all the way out in the bedroom.
He stopped right outside the closet door. The knob turned.
Justin readied himself to spring…
The door opened.