The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 34

I Googled Misty Anderson and clicked on every single link I could find about her. I stared at her picture. She wasn’t smiling. She wore thick eyeliner and had super long eyelashes and sparkly, pink, plump lips. Though the picture didn’t show her whole upper torso, I could tell she had pretty large breasts—most likely fake, I suspected.

She was twenty-six years old, and lived in a small town near Las Vegas. She’d never been reported missing before she was found dead. Her boyfriend had been, however, and hadn’t yet been found. He was the owner of a few casinos and hotels in the area, and suspected as being part of the Mafia.

Misty was an orphan who’d been dragged through various foster cares. No one claimed her body. According to an autopsy report by the medical examiner, the cause of death was asphyxia, and they concluded that she was murdered.

So how in the world did she know us?

Well, if she were part of the cyber criminal group, she could have easily located us. But why they would physically send her to visit our house was a good question. If they were professional cyber criminals, and could have found the necessary information in cyberspace, why wouldn’t they have done that? What could she have possibly been looking for inside our house? What could she have obtained from the house that she couldn’t have through cyberspace? And she was promptly disposed after successfully completing the mission. Why? Because they simply didn’t want to share the money with her?

Now I knew it was Dad who took the photos from our albums, but what about those other silly items that disappeared? Maybe she stole them to plant a spy camera or bug in them, intending to place them back in the places they formerly were. She could never do that because she was killed.

Yeah, most likely.

Then what about the dead raccoon and the poison? Did she do that too? To scare us? So that we would keep our mouths shut and they could keep stealing from us? Then why didn’t they steal the whole amount all at once, instead of playing their creepy, little games?

There were still so many unanswered questions.

What was Dad’s purpose for taking those photos out of the albums? I already knew it wasn’t to simply carry them around with him. So what was it?

Why did Kyle have the watch that was previously found in Sophia’s room? Did he break into her house and steal it? If so, why? Did it belong to Jerry? Did he steal it to protect her?

I looked up from my laptop screen to rest my eyes for a bit. I was staring at the screen so intensely, my poor eyes were watering.

I casually looked at the calendar on which we were directed to write down all our work/school activities, but my eyes were so out of focus, I couldn’t really see anything.

Then my eyes cleared up as a new realization flashed in my head.

Suddenly, I felt like I’d just completed the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle in record time. It was as if the myelin that coated the neural circuits that transmitted electrical messages in my brain suddenly decided to work awesomely and increased the momentum until it was as fast as the speed of light.

Because at that moment, I got it all figured out.

There was a knock at the front door.

This time, I didn’t duck. I didn’t hide. I knew I was safe.

“Is anyone home? It’s Detective Lake.”

I opened the door.

Detective Lake and I stood silently, our eyes locked on each other.

“Ella…” he finally said as he kept his compassionate eyes fastened on mine.

“I know,” I said, trying to keep my cool. “I’m okay.”

Detective Lake looked a little surprised. Then he nodded slowly.

I nodded back and said, “They should be coming home soon.”

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