One knock on a door can change an entire life. One knock can save a life. One knock could also destroy a life.
Cassidy wiped her wet hands on an apron and hurried to the front door. She had ten more minutes for the broth to cook before she could finally eat lunch. She should have started to cook earlier but she was so engrossed in reading her new novel that she almost forgot she had to eat. Thankfully, her belly reminded by grumbling so loud, it had scared her cat that was sitting next to her. She chuckled at Meow’s - her cat - expression of terror as she walked to the door.
She opened the door and looked at the two men that were standing on her doorstep. She was sure she didn’t know these men. At least she thought she was sure. Her smiled left her face as confusion filled her mind.
One was clearly older with some greying in his hair. His shirt was tight around his bulging midsection. There was a small stain at his breast pocket. Maybe from leaving a pen open. His face was wrinkled but his eyes were sharp. He didn’t look as though he missed anything.
The other man was younger. He was dressed in jeans and a blue shirt. A warm blue. One that reminded Cassidy of a summer sky. She really missed summer. Autumn was brutal with its cold winds. It looked as though it was brutal for the man as well. His nose was red and his dark brown hair was blown in all directions. His eyes were a soft brown that looked like molten chocolate. His features were hard and there was a small scar above his left brow.
She didn’t open the door fully and stood with piece of her body behind the door. It didn’t hurt to be cautious.
“Can I help you?” she asked them.
“Are you Cassidy Monte?” the older man asked.
How did they know her name?
“Who are you?” she asked instead of answering.
They both reached into the jacket, making her tense immediately but they only pulled out their wallets.
“We’re detectives at the Mayberry Police Station. I’m Detective Wyatt Long and this is Detective Leon Jones,” the younger one – Wyatt – answered.
They both showed her their badges. They held it up long enough so she could take a good look at it. Not like she could tell if it was fake though. But she could clearly see the words Mayberry Police and some ID numbers on them.
“How can I help you?” she asked.
Her mind was racing. Why were detectives at her house? Had she done something wrong recently? She didn’t think so. She had paid her speeding tickets. And she hadn’t robbed anywhere lately. Not that she had ever robbed somewhere.
“You are Cassidy Monte?” Detective Wyatt asked.
He looked mid-twenties. He looked a bit young to be a detective. The older man- Detective Jones-looked in his forties.
“I am,” she answered. “But what is this about?”
“Do you know someone named Rose Monte?”
Cassidy’s heart dropped. She staggered back a step. She couldn’t remember the last time she had heard someone mention that name.
Did these two men know Rose? Could they help her find Rose? After all these years.
“I do. She’s my sister. Why do you ask?” she answered softly.
Her heart was still beating hard against her chest. She was still in a state of shock but she didn’t miss the look that was shared between the two men.
“Ms Monte, we would like to ask you to come down to the station,” Detective Jones said.
“Why? Did something happen to my sister?” she asked panicked.
Please don’t let anything be wrong to Rose, Cassidy pleaded. She had waited so long to see her sister again.
“We prefer to talk about this situation at the station. Could you come with us?” Detective Jones asked.
“Sure yeah I can,” she answered.
Her brain wasn’t working properly. So many things were bouncing around in there.
“Let me just grab my coat and purse.”
She walked back into the house looking for her purse. She saw it on the table and grabbed it. Her head was spinning so much she almost forgot about the soup she was cooking. She rushed to the kitchen and took off the stove. She didn’t need to be homeless on top of everything else that was going on.
She stood in the kitchen for a moment to gather her thoughts. The detectives hadn’t said something was wrong with Rose. If she had been hurt or – she didn’t even want to think about it – dead, they would have told her immediately. That meant they were asking her to come down to the station to talk about something else.
Her sister was fine. She was going to keep that thought in her head. Her sister was fine.
She took another deep breath and walked back out. She grabbed her phone from the counter as she walked out.
She could hear the detectives talking but couldn’t hear the words clearly. She tried to walk softly to eavesdrop.
“We could talk to her here,” Detective Jones was saying.
“It’s better to do it at the station,” Detective Wyatt answered.
He looked up as she walked towards them and stopped speaking.
“Do you have everything?” he asked.
“Then let’s go.”
She locked the apartment door and followed them down to their car. They hadn’t come in a patrol car. Now that she was thinking about it, they didn’t have on uniforms either. Did detectives get to wear what they wanted? That’s how it was on TV so maybe that’s how it was in real life too.
The drive to the station was quiet. She opened her mouth countless times to ask about Rose but she knew they wouldn’t say anything until they were at the station.
“Can I ask why we can’t have this discussion at my house?” she asked though.
She was really curious as to why she had to go all the way to the station. Detective Wyatt had even been adamant on it.
“The information we have to tell is classified so the station would be the best place to talk ,” Detective Wyatt answered.
What were they going to tell her that was so important? Had something really happened to Rose? Was she involved in something dangerous? Cassidy couldn’t stand the curiosity.
She was bouncing with anxiety. She needed to know what they wanted to talk to her about now. She couldn’t stand the waiting. Countless scenarios were playing in her head and each was becoming worse than the previous.
She got out of the car and followed the two men to the entrance. There was a reception desk as soon as you walked in. The lady officer behind the desk looked up and studied Cassidy. Her face didn’t give away any of her thoughts. She nodded and Detective Wyatt and Jones.
They led her to the left through a corridor. She walked past some of the officers and felt as though they were all watching her. Staring at her. Like they knew who she was. She was sure she was just being paranoid but she couldn’t help but feel like their eyes were on her even after she passed them.
The detectives led her to a room and then motioned for her to sit at the table. It wasn’t like those interrogation rooms you see on television but more like a conference room. There was a big table at the centre with chairs to seat at least ten. On either side of the room was more chairs and at the back was what looked like a coffee station. There was a projector overhead as well. This was most likely where they held meetings.
Detective Wyatt motioned for her to take a seat. She sat on the left side. Both men sat opposite her on the right side.
“We’re going to record this conversation. I hope you don’t mind,” Detective Jones said.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” she answered.
But suspicion filled her mind. Why would they need to record the conversation? What were they about to tell her? She wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it anymore.
Detective Jones got up and turned on the camera. She could see the red light come on.
“State your name for the record please,” Detective Wyatt said.
“And how do you know Rose Monte.”
“She’s my sister. Why does it feel as though I’m making a testimony?”
“How do you know what making a testimony is like?” Detective Wyatt asked.
Cassidy froze for a moment. She didn’t want to talk about that. She really didn’t. Think of something, she told herself, think of something.
“I watch a lot of crime shows,” she said easily with a fake smile.
Both detectives looked as though they believed her. She had become good at getting people to believe her.
“When was the last time you saw your sister?” Detective Jones asked.
She was sure she had heard that question wrong.
“I asked when was the last time you saw your sister?”
“Didn’t you do a background check on her? I mean that was the only way you could have found out we were related.”
“I guess that background check didn’t tell you that my sister and I got separated almost twelve years ago,” she said.
Both detectives looked as though this was news to them.
“You were separated?” Detective Jones asked.
“There was a fire at our house and both our parents died. I have no idea how Rose and I got out but we did. We were sent to an orphanage and we were both adopted by different families. We tried to keep in touch but the distance was too much.”
“Rose would have been thirteen and you eleven when this happened,” Detective Wyatt said.
“That’s quite young to lose your parents,” Detective Jones said softly.
It was. She had been alone in the world. Rose was the only one who was there for her. And then she had lost Rose as well. She was eleven years old and had no more family. She had no one to turn to when she was sad or even happy. She had cried herself to sleep every night at the orphanage. She had missed her sister the most.
Her parents – she didn’t mind that lost as much as she thought she would. She had always wanted to get away from them. But she always thought that when she did, she would have Rose with her.
A knock on the conference door brought her out of her thoughts.
A young man stuck his head into the room.
“You wanted the files Detective.”
“Yes bring them Adam.”
He nodded and walked into the room. He was dressed in jeans and a Metallica t-shirt. His hair was a mop of curls on his head. He looked younger then Cassidy but she was sure he couldn’t be. They didn’t allow twenty-three-year olds to work in police stations. Or did they?
“Can I get you anything else?” Adam asked the detectives.
“No that’ll be all. Did you finish the report for the Hernandez case?”
“Okay, I’ll read that when I’m through here,” Detective Jones ordered.
Adam nodded. He glanced at Cassidy once and then walked out of the room. He had looked at her with curiosity. She was curious as well. As to why these detectives were asking questions about her sister.
Detective Wyatt opened the files that were in front of him and flipped some pages.
“Your parents’ death was ruled as an accident,” he noted.
“That’s what the police said. They said that the fire started because of the candles my mum had lit and it spread through the house. I don’t remember much from that day.”
She remembered enough of the day. But she didn’t remember anything about the fire. Or even how she had gotten out of the house. The police had questioned them after the fire but neither she nor Rose had known how they had gotten out.
“Do you really have no idea where your sister is?” Detective Wyatt asked.
He was looking at her earnestly as though she could help him somehow.
“I really don’t,” she said shaking her head.
“I’ve been trying to find her for the past five years but I haven’t found her as yet.”
“Did you find any clues?”
“I found the people who had adopted her when we were at the orphanage. However, they said that she left when she was eighteen and they never heard from her again. She was an adult by then and so they didn’t bother to look for her. They thought she had run away.”
“Why would she run away though?” Detective Jones said quietly.
“It was probably because her foster parents abused her and the other kids,” Cassidy said.
Both men looked at her curiously.
“How do you know that?”
“I found other children who had stayed at the house during her time there. I wanted to know if any of them knew where she had gone. Most of them however had left as soon as they reached eighteen. The foster parents were famous for abusing their foster kids and whenever someone reported them, they always found a way out of it.”
She had been sick to her stomach when some of the them had told her what they had gone through. She couldn’t believe Rose had gone through the same thing.
“We’ll look more into that,” Detective Jones said.
“But, how did you know which children had stayed at that home? They usually don’t give out that information to the public,” Detective Wyatt pressed.
Cassidy smiled mischievously. She had been really happy when that planned had worked. Who knew flirting could help in so much other ways?
“Nothing I did was illegal,” she answered.
“Why did you wait so long to find your sister? You said you only started five years ago right?” Detective Wyatt asked.
He was latching on to everything she said.
“I couldn’t get much done when I was younger. When I was eighteen, I thought I saw someone looking like Rose. I told my adoptive parents about it and they said they’d help me find her. They contacted the orphanage for me and have been helping me as much as they could.”
Her adoptive parents – Leon and Martha Freemont – had been her blessing in disguise. They had been so kind to her ever since they adopted her. They had loved her as their own and helped her become the woman she was today. She really wished Rose would have had the same experience.
Detective Wyatt flipped through his folder pages again. Why were there so may pages? What information had they dug up about her? About her sister? About her family? There was a lot to dig up if you knew where to dig. And she was sure they didn’t know where to start.
“Why did you guys ask me to come in? And what’s with all these questions about my sister? Did you find her? Is she in some kind of trouble?”
Cassidy noticed that they still hadn’t mentioned why they had brought her here. She was so pre-occupied with all the questions they had asked her that she hadn’t bothered to ask her own.
Detective Wyatt ran a hand though his hair and his face expression changed to a sombre one. Detective Jones was fiddling with his tie and looked rather uncomfortable. They had purposely been avoiding why they had brought her hear. She was sure now that it was for something bad. Something had happened to her sister.
“She’s not dead, is she?” she asked softly.
Cassidy was sure she would know if her sister was dead. She would have felt it somehow but she had to ask.
“She isn’t,” Detective Jones answered.
She breathed out in relief.
“Then why am I here? Why all the questions about Rose?”
She needed to know why they brought her here right now. She was done with all the small talk and questions.
“Have you watched the news lately?′ Detective Wyatt asked.
She was momentarily thrown off. The news?
“I try to whenever I can,” she said not understanding why the question was relevant.
“There’s been murders taking place over the past couple of months. They occur once per month for the last six months.”
Her eyebrows raised in shock. She knew about this. She had read an article about it just last night. News reporters were having a field day with it. A serial killer in Beacon. One that was murdering families.
“I’ve read a few articles. What’s this have to do with my sister?” she asked confused.
“This murders have taken place for the last six months. In each case, it was a family of three. We were careful not to say it was a serial killer, but reporters have noticed the similarities just like us. They’re calling the person the Family Killer. There have been numerous articles so I’m sure you know the basics of the case.”
“It’s always a family of three and they’re killed at home. The child is always thirteen. The article said that the killer stalks the families for the whole month and then on the twenty-seventh, he murders them.”
Cassidy had felt sick after she had read the article. She didn’t know how anyone could kill someone. And to kill a child. That sounded horrible. She wished the police could catch whoever was doing these heinous acts soon.
“After the second case, we hedged towards the idea of a serial killer. After the third case, it became apparent. We’ve been trying to analyse his patterns and try to figure out who he might strike next. We want to prevent another death. We’ve also been trying to figure out who’s behind these crimes. The National Intelligence Unit came in to help us.
We found that these cases for the last six months aren’t the first. There’s been some over the past five years that we can tie back to our killer. The pattern is the same. The killer is careful with DNA so we’ve been analysing CCTV footage. There were a couple of suspects and we’ve narrowed it down to two.”
“I hope you’re able to get the person soon. These crimes are horrible.”
She was a bit confused as to why they were telling her all this. She wanted the killer to be caught as well but there was nothing she could do to help. And why all the questions about Rose? Did they think she could help them?
“I still don’t understand why I’m here and all the questions about Rose.”
Detective Wyatt ran his hand through his hair again.
“Of the two suspects,” Detective Wyatt said softly, “one of them is Rose Monte.”