Bits and Pieces

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Chapter Six

As the weeks passed, Casey remained busy between work and night classes. It was the first week of February when she felt the baby moving for the first time while sitting in class. She was sixteen weeks pregnant and having been to the doctor, her check ups were normal. Having an ultrasound, they baby’s growth and development was normal but it was too early to discover the gender.

There was a few new students in class with her, a younger, pregnant girl whom she thought she might recognize from high school but the girl didn’t seem to know her. The other student is a man who appeared to be in his early twenties. His name is Chad.

Chad was very good looking, dressing in jeans, a plain white tank top and a black leather jacket. If Casey had to describe him in one word, it would be sexy. He seemed to be smart and well mannered and she liked him. But after a week of classes with him, she discovered he was struggling in science. Approaching her after class, he walked up to her as she was getting in her car.

“Casey, is it?” He asked.

“Yes, Chad, right?” She answered.

“Yes, um… listen, I hear you’re the best student in class and I could really use some help. Do you mind?”

“No, not really. I work during the day but we could meet at say, two thirty at the local library?”

“Ok. That sounds good. I’ll see you tomorrow at the library?”

“Ok. Bye Chad.” She said and got into her car.

Waiting for her to get in, he shut her door and waved before walking away. Casey returned home to find Travis laying on the couch sleeping. Instead of waking him, she fixed herself a snack and sat on the floor before the TV. Watching the news broadcast, she saw the picture of a murder victim and nearly fell over. It was the same man from her dream. The man with a brown eye and a glass blue eye.

The news revealed his name and some details about his murder but they had no suspects. Stating that he had been stabbed in his apartment, they believe he had been dead for weeks before he was discovered.

Nearly choking on the news, Casey grabbed Travis’s shirt and shook him to wake him. “Travis...” She said.

“What’s wrong?” He asked in his waking voice.

“That man I dreamed about is really dead. He was stabbed a few weeks ago in his apartment and was just now found. He was stabbed Travis.” She blurted out frantically.

“What? Really?” He said sitting up and rubbing his eyes. Looking at the TV, the news broadcast had already moved on to the next story. “What did they say?”

“There are no witnesses, no suspects. The landlord found him when he came to collect his late rent.”

“Do you think you should call Jason?”

“And become a suspect, hell no.”

“This was Emily, it had to be.” Travis said.

“It must have been. Everything. But why?” Casey said, her hands shaking and she knew she would be ill.

Running toward the bathroom, Casey didn’t even have time to shut the door before she was vomiting in the toilet. She didn’t understand why her own twin sister would be behind the death of their mother and father or even their twelve year old brother. The thought of it again made her ill and she was pouring down sweat.

Travis rubbed her back as she vomited in the toilet. He couldn’t understand either although his mind was fully aware of their past. He knew how evil Emily could be but didn’t think she could stoop this low.

“I am going to call Jason, but I’m not mentioning anything about the dream.” Casey said.

“That may be a good idea. I know now that Emily is very alive and hiding from the police. Perhaps with an alternative identity. I believe you Casey. But you’re right, even Jason would have a hard time believing your dream was really a dream. They would think you had something to do with it.”

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Looking at each other, Travis went to answer it. Casey could hear their voices and knew it was Jason, asking to speak with her. Wiping her mouth with a towel, she walked out of the bathroom and greeted him.

“Jason, how are you?”

“Good, you’re looking good.”

“I already know why you’re here.” She said to Jason.

“Do you?”

“I saw the news, that man who was murdered.”

“Yes, that’s why I’m here.”

“Well, deep inside, I know he was the man who pulled the trigger. But I can’t prove it. I can’t identify him, other than his eyes.”

“After I learned about the relation of his eyes, I went to his house and searched through his shoes and boots. You didn’t know this, but there was a muddy footprint at the crime scene at your house. I never found the boot with the same pattern as our print but I can tell you he was the same size. I think we found your killer.”

“I think you did too. But I think there is more to the story.”

“What do you mean Casey?” Detective Powell asked.

“I believe Emily is alive and well. I believe she was behind this.”

“Why do you say that, have you seen her, or felt her?”

“I think so. I’ve been having dreams...” It was all she said.

“Dreams don’t prove anything. We need concrete evidence.”

“I can’t give you that. I don’t have it.”

“But I can start looking, if I know where to start.”

“I can’t help you with that. But I will tell you that I dreamed about the murder weeks ago. In my dream, I was the one who killed him. And I said to him, quote: ‘I told you to kill them all’.”

“And you think it was actually Emily who killed him? Who possibly plotted with him to kill your family?”

“I don’t know what to think. I just know what I dreamed. I know that man was killed with two stab wounds to the abdomen.”

“Casey, we released that he was stabbed to death, but we didn’t disclose how many stab wounds there were. But you’re right.”

“He was stabbed from the front, in the lower left quadrant. The second stab wound consisted of a twisting motion with the knife. Then he collapsed on the floor and bled out as she escaped. He killed my family, then she killed him when she learned I was alive.”

“Casey, I would advise you not to tell this information to anyone else. You would become the number one suspect. But I have to ask, where were you the afternoon of January fifth around four PM?”

“I was here, I got out of work at two and came home and laid on the couch. I was sleeping when the murder happened, otherwise I wouldn’t have dreamed it. It might have been a premonition instead. Where was the man murdered at?”

“He was ninety miles from here, in a small town called Evan’s Creek.”

“That’s the first place you should look for Emily.”

“You’re right Casey. You should be a detective.” Jason smiled. “Ok, I just wanted to chat with you for a few minutes and you’ve opened the case up. Thank you, we’re going to get to the bottom of this, I promise. But please let me know if you have anymore ideas, or dreams, or premonitions.”

“I will.” Casey said, nodding her head.

“Thanks Jason, for believing in her.” Travis said. “By the way, I want to let you know we’re getting married and having a child.”

“Really? Congratulations. Please Casey, take care of yourself.”

“I will, thanks.” She said as Jason walked out the door.

Casey felt somewhat better after speaking with Jason, but she was still extremely uneasy over the murder of the man with the gun and what her twin sister has possibly done. Casey remembered slightly growing up with Emily and how they used to be close. Then she remembered the morning of homecoming when she smashed the plate on the table and said she wished they were all dead. Something said out of anger was turned into a reality and she knew her sister had plotted against them all. But why?

She could barely sleep that night, tossing and turning and it laid heavy on her mind the following day. Getting out of work, she went straight to the library, waiting for Chad inside. There were a few people in the library, in the isles, at the desk and looking through the calling cards. Two were occupying the computers with headphones on.

Looking toward the door as it opened, she saw Chad dressed in his normal clothes, tight jeans, plain white t-shirt and black leather jacket. He wore biker boots and carried his books in one arm. Seeing her, he smiled exposing clean, white teeth. “Hello.” He finally said.

“Hi.” She smiled back at him as he sat beside her.

“So, Casey, we haven’t had much time to talk we only see each other in class. You’re pretty young, aren’t you?”

“I’m seventeen.”

“Seventeen? Why aren’t you in regular school?”

“I have my reasons. What about you, how old are you?” It was all she offered.

“Twenty two. So, is that an engagement ring on your hand?”

“Yes, yes it is. My boyfriend just recently proposed to me.”

“Oh. That’s too bad, for me anyways.” He smiled.

Opening her book, she tried to get on track and asked him questions to learn his capacity on the subject. He carried on with her, not really caring about the subject. He was more interested in her. Casey thought he was a good guy and there was something drawing her toward him. But on the other hand, there was something about him that she was becoming leery about. A dark, mysterious side that he kept hidden.

After an hour of studying and putting up with his constant flirts, Casey stated it was time for her to go, knowing Travis would be getting out of school soon. He asked to see her again in the library tomorrow to help and she made him promise he would back off with his flirts. Saying goodbye, he waved from across the parking lot as she got into her car and left.

She was the first to return home, dropping her book bag on the floor. She knew she had to study for an exam she was having tonight. But it was an easy subject for her and she wasn’t worried. Cooking dinner for them, Travis walked in the door and threw his book bag on the couch. Walking directly to her, he took her in his arms and kissed her.

“I’ve missed you.” He said.

“I just don’t know how I manage to get through the day without you.” She smiled and kissed him again.

“Dinner smells good.” He said. “I’m going to go change my clothes, put on some sweatpants.”

Travis disappeared into the bedroom while Casey tended to the food cooking on the stove. Serving dinner, she put everything on the table as Travis came back out of the bedroom. He was dressed in black sweatpants with a black sweatshirt over a plain white t-shirt.

Sitting beside her at the small table, he grabbed the plate of food to take a helping. “So, how was your day?”

“It was good. I met someone after work, at the library. A student who is almost failing in science. I agreed to help him.”

“You were always good at that. Tell me about it.”

“It went well, I guess. He’s slightly older than us, in his early twenties. I don’t know much about him, he only wanted to talk about me.”

“Does he know you’re engaged?”

“Yes, he asked about my ring.”

“Please Casey, be careful. You don’t know who he is. In fact, I’d like to meet him.”

“We can wait at the library tomorrow, you can come after school.”

“I’ll do that. But for now, that’s enough about him. Let’s talk about you. How are you feeling?”

“I’m doing alright. I think I’ve been feeling the baby move.”

“Really Casey, wow, that’s so exciting. I can’t wait.” Travis said, reaching over and touching her belly with a tiny bump.

Spreading her fingers over his, she smiled with a tear in her eye. “I love you Travis. Your excitement makes mine bigger.”

“We need to talk about the wedding.” He said.

She hadn’t even thought much about it but knew he was right. “I want to get married before this baby is born.”

“June. June would be good. It will be after we graduate and before the baby is born.”

Looking on her phone, she looked at the month of June. The twenty forth was a Saturday. It would be two weeks after graduation and four weeks before her due date. Knowing Travis would agree, she set the date aside.

“June twenty forth.” She mumbled to him.

“Ok, what’s next.”

“A lot.” She sighed. “We have four months to plan and finance.”

“My parents said they would pay for our wedding.”

“Oh no, not the whole thing. I’m buying my gown, and your tuxedo. Bridesmaids, groomsmen, maid of honor, best man, ushers, flower girl, ring bearer. All the attire of the wedding party. Even your parents gown and tux. All the flowers and decorations. All your parents have to do is rent the venue, get the caterers and bring the preacher. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“Casey, that’s a lot of money.”

“Travis, don’t worry about it. I have four months to pay for this. I’ll work harder, whatever it takes.”

“We’ll see what happens. My parents need to know as soon as possible when we’re going to have this wedding so they can start planning too.”

“Give them a call.”

“I will, after dinner.”

At classes that evening, Chad sat beside Casey, observing her the entire three hours. It was nine PM as usual when she left the building for the night. Chad jogged after her, trying to catch up. “Casey?” He called her name.

Without a word, she stopped and turned toward him as he caught up to her. “Hey, you want to go have a drink?” He asked.

“No, I have to get home, I work at six AM and it comes early. Besides, I’m not old enough. But thank you anyways.”

“We could just sit in my car and chat for a few minutes, I’ll buy us a bottle.”

“Still, no thanks.” She said and opened her door.

“Ok, maybe next time.” He said and watched as she got into her car. “I’ll see you tomorrow at the library.”

Nodding his head, he stood beside her car as she started it and drove away. Casey understood that one drink could be the opposite of harmless. She knows what happened the last time she trusted a stranger, besides Travis. The library was the closest she wanted to be to be alone with him. A drink in his car just the two of them could spell big trouble. Not just with her but with Travis too.

Feeling overly exhausted by the time she returned home, she ate a light snack and went straight to bed. Travis followed her, locking the door and shutting off the lights. It wasn’t long before she was in a deep sleep.

Then she walked into a strange room. Looking around, she saw Chad. He smiled and approached her. Without a word, he took her into his arms and kissed her. No matter how hard she fought against him, she wasn’t fighting in her dream. Picking her up, Chad took her into what appeared to be a bedroom.

Laying her on the bed, he slowly stripped her clothes off, kissing her lightly. Tossing and turning in bed, she tried to fight her dream but it was no use. She could feel herself becoming aroused by his hands and lips. Looking at his sexy body as he came toward her, she could feel herself having sex with him. Just as she felt her orgasm peak, she opened her eyes and looked into the dark room of her bedroom.

Casey could feel herself still throbbing from the reality of the dream and looked over at Travis feeling ashamed and dirty. He was still sound asleep and Casey knew he had no idea about her dream. And she would keep it to herself.

Pulling herself out of bed, she walked through the dark room toward the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet, she rubbed her eyes, not able to get the dream out of her head. She almost felt as if she had been raped again. But it was different.

For ten minutes she sat on the toilet, feeling ashamed and not wanting to go back to bed. She felt like she was wide awake and knew she couldn’t go back to sleep. Closing the door, she turned on the water and waited for it to get hot before stepping in the shower. In the hot water, she tried to wash off the dirtiness of the dream.

In the dim light of the hall light shining in her room, she managed to quietly get dressed without waking Travis. Having a craving for ice cream, she left Travis a note on the table and grabbed her purse and coat as she quietly went out the door, locking it behind her.

Putting on her coat as she went down the stairs, she got into her car and started it, letting it run for a few minutes to warm up. The temperature outside was twenty six degrees and it was snowing heavily. She knew the roads would be bad, but there wouldn’t be anyone else on them.

There was only one store open twenty four hours and it was located on the other side of town. The snow on the ground had already accumulated to three inches and she was sliding on the street as she accelerated.

Making it to the store safely, she walked inside and saw the cashier reading a magazine. She smiled and went to the frozen section. Deciding on chocolate ice cream, she took the box to the cashier and asked for a spoon. After paying for the ice cream, she sat in her car and started it, letting the warm air blow.

Opening the box of ice cream, she ate one third of the box before putting it down. Looking at the clock, she saw it was quarter to five in the morning. Putting the car in reverse, she backed out of the parking spot and started for the apartment.

There had been two other vehicles on the road since her, she could see their tracks and thought they must be going to work. Returning to the apartment, she walked through the door to see Travis standing in the living room in his underwear. He was holding his phone in his hand.

“Oh my God, Casey, are you alright?” He said, coming toward her and putting his hands on her shoulders.

“Yes, I just went for some ice cream.”

“Ice cream? You had me worried.”

“Didn’t you see my note?” She said walking to the table. But there was nothing there. “Where did it go?” She said to herself, looking around. Under the table she found the note, picked it up and handed it to him.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see it. I just panicked when you were not here. I didn’t know what to think. Next time, please wake me up.” Travis said with his hands on her shoulders.

Putting her arms around him, he held her tightly. “I’m sorry Travis, I didn’t mean to make you worry. I just couldn’t sleep and had a craving for ice cream.”

Pulling back, he looked at her. “Starting to have cravings, are you?” He said, smiling.

“I think so.” She smiled back.

While Travis took a shower, Casey cooked them breakfast. Then they ate before she left to go to work. The day passed quickly as she gathered her tips and paid her rent for the week. After work, she rested her feet while eating a quick lunch before heading to the library. Chad was already there, waiting outside for her.

As he seen her car pull up, he got out of his and met her at the door, opening it for her. “Thank you.” She said and walked inside, him following her.

Sitting down at a table, he sat beside her and scooted closer. “How are you today?”

“Tired, but doing good. You?”

“I’m good now.” He smiled.

“Ok, let’s get on track.” She said and opened her book.

Travis escaped from school an hour early to go to the library. Walking inside, he saw them sitting together and was instantly jealous of his good looks and charisma. Sliding into a chair across the room, Casey hadn’t seen him. Travis just sat and watched as Casey seemed serious but Chad was being his normal, flirtatious way.

Thirty minutes had passed while Travis sat and watched. Casey wondered where Travis was, knowing he wanted to meet Chad. But as they stood to leave, Chad grabbed Casey and kissed her. Travis saw Casey struggle to break free but he was instantly angry at Chad and jumped out of his seat. Walking toward them, Travis was ready to fight.

But Casey pulled free from the kiss and slapped Chad across the face. “Chad, I’ve told you that I ’m engaged, I’ve told you that I wasn’t interested. And you promised to lay off on your flirtatious way. I will not help you anymore so leave me alone.” Casey was clearly angry as she grabbed her books off the table and went out the door.

Travis watched as Chad grabbed his books and went out the door after her. But he didn’t pursue her, just got into his car. Knowing this man was up to no good, Travis got in his car and followed the man. Driving approximately twenty miles out of town, Chad came to a long driveway and turned into it. Parking on the street, Travis watched through the bare trees as Chad got out and went into the small house.

Leaving it alone, Travis drove away and found his way back to the city limits of Holland. Walking into the apartment, he saw Casey in the kitchen. “Travis, where have you been, I waited for you at the library but you didn’t show up.”

“No, I was there Casey. I saw him kiss you.”

“Travis, I’m sorry. Yes, he kissed me, but I tried to push him away.”

“I know Casey, I also saw you smack him. Then you left and he didn’t bother you. Otherwise, I would’ve intervened.” Seeing the guilty look on her face, he wrapped his arms around her. “Please don’t be sorry, it wasn’t your fault. I know you didn’t want that to happen. I know how you feel about me, you’re wearing my ring.”

“That’s right, I am wearing your ring.” She smiled and hugged him back.

“Just promise me you won’t see him again, outside of school.”

“I promise. I told him I was finished helping him.”

“I know, I heard your whole conversation. I’m sorry Casey, I was there for a half an hour, just observing you two. I didn’t mean any harm. I don’t like him, I think he’s trouble. There is just something about him that tells me you need to stay away.”

“Maybe you’re right.”

“Things are very different than they were before. You used to be the type that would trust anyone but you can’t afford to be like that. You’re life could be the difference.”

“But I know it was Emily who is behind this.”

“Maybe so, but it wasn’t her that pulled the trigger. She had one man under her thumb, who’s to say she won’t have another to send after you. Please Casey, you must be more careful. It’s getting to where I don’t want to let you out of my sight. And that’s only for your protection.”

“You’re sending chills up my spine.” She said, rubbing her arms.

“Casey, I really don’t think you realize the seriousness of your situation.”

“Yes Travis, I do. I’m just not going to live in fear. I’m not going to hide. I survived the first time for a reason.”

“Maybe to come back to me.” Travis said, holding her tightly again.

“Maybe. Maybe it was to learn the truth and bring my parents and brothers’ killer to justice. The police would not have any leads if it weren’t for me.”

“They still don’t really have any leads. There is no real proof that your sister is alive. Only your dreams, your feelings.” Travis said.

It was the moment she realized the dream with Chad was Emily, not her. “I know she’s alive, and I’ll find her… Now I’m hungry, let’s go downstairs for dinner.” She said and grabbed her coat.

That evening at class, Chad was absent. It somewhat relieved Casey knowing she didn’t have to face him. It had been three days before Chad returned to school. Casey had begun to think something was amiss until she saw him walk into the classroom. He was dressed differently, wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a long sleeved red t-shirt. His black leather jacket replaced by a green winter coat.

He sat down beside her and smiled. “Hi.” He said.

“I was starting to think you had quit.”

“No, I was just out of town.”

“Oh. Well, you missed an important test.”

“I should be able to make it up. I was at a funeral.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Casey quietly said as to not disrupt the class.

“It’s alright. It was my grandmother.”

“I’m sorry.” She said again.

Paying attention to the teacher, she ended her conversation with Chad. She ignored him for the remaining evening. Using the bathroom after class, she went to her car to find Chad leaning up against it. Suddenly she felt the fear as she slowed her pace.

“Casey...” He started as she slowly approached him. “I just wanted to apologize for the other day. I swear I’ll never do that again. I understand you’re getting married and I should’ve respected you and I’m very sorry.” He said, holding out his hands. “Friends?”

Looking at him, she drew in a deep breath and sighed. She didn’t like having enemies. “Ok...” She said and shook his hand. “But I’m not ready to help you.”

“I understand. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night at school.”

“I guess.” She said and opened her door.

Sitting in her car, she watched him walk away as her heart was pounding. Her hands were shaking as she tried to put the key in the ignition. He truly frightened her and she just wanted to get away from him.

Driving home, she calmed down and decided not to say anything to Travis about her encounter with him. But she knew he would ask about him and she wouldn’t lie. She was hoping he wouldn’t ask. Travis was sitting on the couch when she came home. He stood up and helped her take her coat off. Throwing the coat in the chair, he hugged her.

“How were your classes? Did you pass that test on economics?”

“Yes, I did. I wasn’t worried, that’s an easy subject.”

Kissing her on the cheek, he turned and went toward the kitchen. “I’ve made you a snack.” He said.

“Oh, thank you Travis. You’re so sweet to me.” She said, walking toward him.

Turning toward her, he wrapped his arms around her. “That’s because I love you so.” He smiled then reached down and grabbed her plate, handing it to her.

Smiling, she took the plate from his hand and went to the table. After munching on their snack, they watched the news then went to bed. Casey slept good that night, not dreaming of anything. Just good, sound sleep.

Waking early just before her alarm clock, she turned it off and crept out of bed without waking Travis. Suddenly, she had a very strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. Unsure of what it was, she continued to get ready for work.

The strange feeling continued on throughout the day and into the evening but she ignored it and pushed on. It was Thursday, Valentines Day, and she knew Travis had plans for them after class. Chad had given her a cute card but before leaving for the day, she nonchalantly threw it in the trash. All she needed was for Travis to find it and the fight would be on. Casey was trying to avoid that.

For their Valentine Day holiday, Travis took Casey to an extravagant restaurant where they had late sweetheart specials. After dinner, he took her on a walk along the river. They talked about the wedding and agreed on the colors. Pale yellow and gray. Yellow carnations and roses for the flowers. Yellow ribbon decorations and gray carpet on the isle.

Having Saturday off, Casey talked Travis into going to his mothers house to further plan the wedding. That morning, Casey and Connie combed through the local wedding venues. They found a large wedding barn. It consisted of a river meandering through the property and a covered bridge over the water. Despite the steep price tag, Casey wanted to visit the venue. Calling the toll free number, they inquired and set up an appointment for the next day.

The barn didn’t look like much from the outside, but when they opened the doors and turned on the lights, it was completely beautiful. The stained rafters and support beams matched the wood floor. There was enough room to seat up to three hundred and fifty guests, plus house the caterers and band. The was an outdoor alter, lined up with the covered bridge with seating on both sides. Or you could choose to have the wedding indoors, in case of rain.

Casey fell in love with the old, rustic barn and reserved the barn for the June wedding but she had to put a hefty deposit down. Connie wrote the owners a check for the deposit and secured the date. They would have to acquire their own preacher, band, caterer and do all the decorations themselves.

The preacher wouldn’t be a problem, Connie would ask the preacher from their church to do the deed. As far as the band, they would have to do some inquiring. As for the caterers, Casey would ask Joel to hire his staff for the event. For the meal, they had decided on a choice of fried fish or fried chicken, fried potatoes, green beans, jello, cupcakes, brownies, and of course, the wedding cake to be made by the local bakery.

Tired from the exhausting day, Casey went home and collapsed on the couch where she slept for three hours. Travis understood her exhaustion and left her alone to sleep. Going to the grocery store, he bought some groceries for the week. Putting them into his car, he looked up to see Chad walking out of the store. Chad had never seen Travis before, not even at the library, so he had no idea what he looked like.

Getting into his car, Travis again followed him to the same house, twenty minutes out of town. When he finally returned to the apartment, Casey was still asleep, but woke up when he brought in the groceries. He said nothing about his venture, following Chad.

“Oh, you bought some groceries?” She said, sitting up and yawning.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you?” Travis asked.

“Not really. Besides, it’s time to get up. I don’t want to sleep all day, I won’t sleep tonight.”

“That’s alright, I’ll keep you busy.” He flashed her a devious smile.

“I may take you up on that.” She smiled as she got up from the couch.

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