“Sam! Are we going to hang out today, or are you still grounded?” Cassandra called after her longtime friend as she chased him down the school hallway. The auburn haired teen stops to allow her to catch up. Sam flicks her nose when Cassandra finally makes it to his side. “You know I’m still grounded, my parents weren’t too keen about my prank,” Sam explains as he tries to stifle a laugh. How was he supposed to know that principal Finnigan was allergic to cats? Who was he kidding? Everyone knew the man was allergic, Sam just wanted revenge for the detention he received and boy was the revenge sweet.
“You sent Mr. Finnigan to the hospital, I still don’t see how you snuck those cats in.” Says Cassandra as she rubs her nose. Getting the cats in wasn’t a problem, getting them out was. Sam was suspended for a week and then grounded for a month. He always replies with the same answer when someone asks him why he did it, “It was worth it.”
“Besides, even if I wasn’t grounded we couldn’t hang out. I need to be home for Emma,” Sam explains as he turns to walk down the hall. Cassandra follows him, a frown firmly on her tanned face. Sam sighs and glances down at his friend, he already knew what was coming.
“She’s too young to walk alone, Sam.” She says, Sam, sighs again, “I know, but she throws a fit if we tell her no. The school isn’t that far, not to mention that she has Jackson with her.” He replies.
“Sure, two eight-year-olds can protect each other,” Cassandra drawls as she stuffs her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket. Sam agreed with her, it was very dangerous, but what could they really do?Its not like the can override Sam’s parents and tell them what to do. He hated that his sister walked to and from school, he even told his parents that it was a bad idea. “You know how my parents are Cass. If I were to say something they would counter it with, ‘Well we let you walk alone.’ They don’t understand, I was too shy to even think about talking to people. Emma isn’t, she’s always been a people person.” Sam explains as he stops in front of his locker. Cassandra snorts and leans against the locker next to her friends.
“Was is the wrong word, I’m the only person you still talk to and don’t even bring up your online friends! They don’t count.” Sam huffs and opens his locker, there was no way for him to argue against that. It wasn’t the fact that he was shy, he just didn’t like big crowds.
“Whatever, I gotta go. Text me later alright?” Sam replies as he snatches his bag out of his locker, he slams the door and rushes out of the school. Sam checks his watch, it was five after three. Emma will be home in twenty-five minutes, so he can’t waste his time. A loud groan escapes him when it begins to rain. Today just wasn’t his day.
Sam jogs up his front steps and breathes a sigh of relief when the ceiling of the porch shields him from the rain. He stares at the rain and frowns, “Maybe I should walk her home… Nah she’ll just yell at me the whole way home.” He mutters as he wipes his feet and unlocks the front door. Sam steps in and closes the door behind him, something felt off. Guilt laid in Sam’s stomach, he shook it off and dropped his on the floor.
“I’m just paranoid,” he says as he kicks off his shoes. Rain always made him paranoid, every time it did rain something would happen, but usually, it was him getting sick. Sam shakes his head and walks into the living room, with a heavy sigh he flops down onto the couch. Sam checks his watch, ten more minutes, he could stand being alone for ten minutes.
Ten minutes passed and Emma wasn’t home, a sense of dread filled Sam. He takes a breath and chuckles, “Chill out, she probably went to Jacksons.” He tells himself, but the dread was still there. Ten minutes turned to twenty, the twenty turned to forty. As each minute passed, the dread in Sam’s stomach grew. It wasn’t like his sister to be this late and it wasn’t like her to not call.
Sam had enough of this, it’s now an hour later and still nothing from Emma. Sam stands from the couch and stomps into the kitchen, his mom had Jackson’s mothers number on the fridge. He grabs the phone and dials the number, someone picks up after the third ring, “Hello?” A woman speaks. “Hello, Mrs. Harvey? This is Emma’s older brother, I was wondering if she may have gone home with Jackson?” The line was silent for a moment.
“Samael, Jackson didn’t go to school today, he’s sick.” All the color drained from Sam’s face, he said goodbye and hung up on Mrs. Harvey. He rushes through the house, Sam slips his shoes on and runs out of the front door. The rain soaks through his clothes once more as he runs down the sidewalk.
“Emma!” He yells as he sprints down the street, Sam pushes his wet hair out of his face so he can scan the area. He curses and takes off once more, with a yelp, Sam trips. The rough concrete splits his left cheek open, Sam groans and turns to see what caused him to trip. His heart drops when he sees a Frozen bookbag tangled around his feet. Emma’s name stood out on the right strap in black marker.
Panic floods through Sam’s body, he snatches Emma’s bookbag and holds it to his chest. His blue eyes flick around nervously, he stops breathing when a glint of red shining from the edge of the sidewalk catches his eye. Sam scrambles over to it, his hands shake as he holds up Emma’s rose necklace that he got for her when she was six, “Emma!”
Sam shivers on the couch, everything was going by in a blur. He didn’t remember when his father stopped to pick him up, he didn’t even remember when he told his father that Emma was missing. Now he was sitting on his couch clinging to his sisters necklace while the cops talked to his parents. Sam paid no attention to the detective that was seated in front of him on the coffee table, “Samual, when was the last time you saw your sister?” Sam twitches and looks at the detective. “That’s not my name, my name is Samael and last time I saw her was this morning.” Sam’s calm demeanor unnerved the detective for a moment. Sam glances at the detectives face, she was young, she looked to be in her early thirties. She had tan skin, her dark brown hair fell past her shoulders in waves, her pale blue eyes stood out the most. She wore mostly black except for her t-shirt, the white fabric stood out brightly against the dark clothing.
“What did you say your name was?” Sam asks, the detective blinks obviously thrown off by his question. “It’s Janessa Montoya, Sam, may I call you that? I understand that you’re worried about your sister, but avoiding my questions will get us nowhere.” Janessa replies as she leans forward. Sam repeats her motion, letting his sister’s necklace dangle in between his hands. The gleam of red caught Janessa’s attention.
“What do you have there?” She asks, Sam tightens his grip on Emma’s necklace. “Nothing you need to worry about, Detective Montoya,” he replies while narrowing his eyes. Janessa smirks and sits up straight.
“It doesn’t appear to be nothing, Sam. If you’re withholding evidence then we can bring you in under suspicion of involvement, and you wouldn’t want that would you?” Every muscle in Sam’s body went rigid, he clenches his jaw and tries to hide his shaking.
“You know damn well I had nothing to do with Emma’s disappearance.” He whispers Janessa quirks her left eyebrow, “Then give me the necklace, Sam. It could be a crucial piece of evidence and not mention, the only piece that can help us find Emma.” She whispers back, they have a silent stare down until Sam finally backs down with a sigh. Silently he hands the necklace over.
“Okay, but please don’t lose it, that necklace is all I have of her right now.” Sam’s soft tone broke Janessa’s heart as she took the piece of jewelry. “I promise, Sam, I will bring your sister back safe.”
Five days have passed and no new leads have come up on the Blair case. Janessa breathes a heavy sigh as she takes her hand through her hair. Her so-called “witnesses” were no help, Emma was snatched in broad daylight, but yet all of their stories were different. At one point it was a white man who took Emma, then it was a black man, or it was a woman. Nothing was consistent. Only yesterday did she get a break, an unknown partial print was found on the necklace.
Janessa sat at her desk impatiently waiting for the lead forensics guy to come back with the results. A grateful smile forms on her face when a Starbucks cup lands on her desk. “Tough case?” Asked a deep voice, Janessa looks up and gives her friend Dustin a tired smile. Dustin was a dark-skinned man, he kept his black hair short, his brown eyes were always warm. Janessa liked how Dustin kept his clothes casual, “Yeah, it’s like this kid just vanished. There is no concise story and the other residence around didn’t see anything.” She explains as she takes a sip of her coffee.
“What about the family? Have they noticed anything suspicious?” Dustin asked while gulping down his own coffee, Janessa shakes her head. “No, but the older brother seemed a little odd. I’m not saying he’s involved, but there was something clearly off about him.” She explains as she takes another sip of her coffee.
“Well, wouldn’t you seem off too if your little brother was kidnapped?” Dustin asks while raising his eyebrow. Janessa sighs, her friend had a strong point if it were her brother Blake she would lose her mind. “You’re right, but I think we have a lead with the girls necklace. There was a fingerprint on it other than her’s and her brother’s.” That print was going to be the breakthrough in the case and the key to keeping her promise.
“Detective Montoya? The results are back, but I don’t think you’re going to like it.” Janessa jumps and turns to face the person behind her. “Jesus, Anna! Make a damn noise when you walk!” She breathes as she places her hand over her heart. Anna rolls her brown eyes and thrusts the folder in Janessa’s face.
“The fingerprint on the necklace belongs to another child. I’m afraid you’ve gone back to step one.” Anna explains while watching Janessa read over the lab results. The weary detective sighs and drops the file on her desk. A picture of the victim stared at her with mocking eyes, “Where are you, Emma Blair?”
Sam tapped on his desk impatiently, two weeks have gone by and the cops haven’t been in touch. He didn’t want to be stuck in Jefferson High right now, no, Sam wanted to be apart of the search party. “This is bullshit,” he mumbles as he slumps down in his seat. The people around has been cautious, they treated him like a fragile piece of glass.
“Samael? You’ve been called to the office, your parents are here.” Sam huffs out a silent okay as he packs his bag up. The feeling of dread planted itself back in his stomach. The feeling grew as he made his way to the main office. Uninvited tears pooled into his eyes, the stress of everything was finally weighing him down. With a deep breath, Sam walks into the office. His parent’s red eyes and damp faces greeted him, Sam stares at them in silence. Tears of his own begin to fall as he shakes his head.
“N-No… No!” Sam screams, his parents engulf him into a tight hug. Loud sobs left the teens mouth as he clung to his parents for dear life. “M-My sister is fine! Tell me Emma is okay, please!” Sam begs, his father pulls his son’s head to his chest. Patrick Blair tries to fight off his own tears, but he can’t, “S-She’s gone, son.”
“Your victim was tortured, detective. She was beaten repeatedly for days, there are signs of sexual assault, she was sodomized repeatedly by a wooden object. There are no fluids, but there were signs of spermicide, it appears your suspect got off on pain. This poor girl suffered until the sick bastard slit her throat.” Lee the lead medical examiner explained as she pointed out the various wounds on the dead girls body. Janessa felt sick, bruises danced across Emma’s face, her pale body was covered in small cuts and bruises. Around the slash across the girls neck were faint bruises left by a hand squeezing the poor girls scrawny neck.
“Do… Do you know if she suffered? As she died I mean,” Janessa asked never taking her eyes away from Emma’s battered face. Lee sighs and takes her glasses off, “I wish I could say no, Ness, but she slowly bled out. Bastard wasn’t merciful enough to cut her jugular.” Tears formed in Janessa’s eyes, Emma didn’t deserve this, neither did her parents.
“You know what’s even worse? I promised her brother that she would be safe. I told him that I would bring her home.” Janessa spoke tiredly, “There is still hope of getting her justice. Our perp left a bite mark behind on her left thigh, no DNA, but the mark is big enough to check dental records.” Lee’s voice causes Janessa to look up, this could be the break she needs.
Emma’s funeral was a few days after she was found. Sam admired how the undertaker cleaned his baby sister up. Emma’s pale cheeks were flushed pink, her auburn hair lay neatly over her shoulders, bangs swept to the left like they always were. She wore her favorite sundress, it was the pink one with white daisies. To the others she looked peaceful, but Sam knew better. Even in death he could see the fear etched into Emma’s face.
“I’m… Really sorry for your loss,” Sam didn’t flinch when Janessa Montoya spoke from behind him. Sam kept his eyes on his sister as he replied: “Are you? Or are you sorry for lying to me?” Janessa sighs and moves to stand next to Sam.
“Both,” she says as she hands him Emma’s rose necklace. Sam grabs the necklace and clasps the gold chain around his neck, “Why are you here, detective?” Sam asks.
“There is a lead in your sister’s case, I can’t tell you what it is, but I promise I will bring this guy in.” Janessa explained as she turned away from the white casket. Sam laughs humorlessly as he turns to look at the detective. “You shouldn’t make promises, detective. You’re horrible at keeping them,” he replies as he walks away from his sister and the person who lied to him.
Out in the rain, Sam looks to the sky. “I’m s-so sorry, Emma,” he whispers as a tear slides down his face.