Air was barely making it to my lungs as I froze in terror. I kept on re-reading the note I found in my parent's room. If I had told my parents about the stalker then maybe they would not be in danger now. The guilt was eating me each second and all I thought about was how foolish I was. I should have known my parents weren't off-limits but I ignored it and it led to this. I have been calling them non-stop ever since we got back into the car but came to voicemail each time.
“ Hawaii? No, it can not be '' Ruben held the plane ticket, his eyes inspecting the piece of paper. My family has this tradition of traveling to Hawaii to celebrate the eldest child before taking over the company. My mother had mentioned it last month briefly and I had not asked her about it afterward.
“ Yes and in thirty minutes that plane will leave,” I said while staring at the time stamp on the ticket. I turned my head towards the window and stared at the sky, not knowing if my parents were aware of the danger they're headed towards.
“ Your assistant, I saw her today at the counter to get these tickets,” Ruben said, my throat turned dry as I thought about his words. Ylva is not working today since it is her day off but she would always answer her phone. Now I couldn't reach her and this weird feeling grew in my stomach.
“ Ylva? Oh God,” I said, the word was sour on my tongue and my heart raced. Ruben pulled my hand into his hands and I held on to them tightly.
“ I have already contacted the airport and they are working on it” Rubens' eyes meet mine.
Suddenly my phone starts to ring and I feel my soul leave my body. I force myself to calm down when I see Mr.Graham’s contact appear on my screen.
“ I just got off the phone with officer Carson and found who our stalker might be” Mr.Graham wasn't a man that wasted time and less if he had something important to say. I tried to speak but no words came out, only a cough.
“ Take a look at the picture I sent you” A picture pops up in my messages. It's a grade photo and the kids seem to be around seventeen years old. My eyes wandered around the photo and the names of the teenagers.
“ Row six, tall blonde kid, is Austin Richmond,” I followed his description and I gasped when I recognized his face and name.
“Hendrix” I couldn't believe my eyes, it didn't make any sense.
“ Exactly, Ceo of Hendrix’s auto, and on the last row, you will find another familiar face” It didn't take long to find a short blonde girl shyly smiling at the camera, Joanne Ylva Stone.
“ Ylva? I don't like where this is going” Thinking back at what Ruben said earlier I could tell Mr.Graham would deliver bad news.
“ Private investigator has shown proof that Ylva Stone is connected to Austin Richmond, his partner,”
I have never been stabbed in my life but I felt like a knife was shoved into my heart and all air was punched out of my lungs. I closed my eyes as my head felt like it was dunked underwater.
“ Thank you, Inform the headquarters about it to” Ruben sighed as he got off the phone, his eyes found my nervous, ones.
“ The plane has left but your parents were not on board”
Numb, for a moment I felt relieved then I remembered my parents had not answered my phone calls, I didn't know where they could be. As if the universe could read my mind my phone lights up with a message, from an unknown number. An address. pinewood 345, three blocks from my parents home. Where I was kidnapped as a child. I held my breath as I read the next message.
Got a present for you, a memorable one for sure.
As if that wasn't enough a picture pops up, a picture of parents standing outside of the address, smiling at each other. I couldn't handle looking at it any second longer and Ruben noticed that so he grabbed my phone.
“ Take us to Pinewood 345, it's right around that block,” I said, I caught my reflection on the mirror and barely recognized myself, I looked lifeless.
We had just left the gated community so we had not gone too far. The houses were quiet and only some houses had lights on. Most had probably gone to sleep for the night. A big brown house came into view and the house had an on-sale sign by the garden. The light coming from the garage was the only light that was on.
Mr.Smith parks at the driveway, just close enough for us to see through the empty windows. I take off my seatbelt and let go of Ruben's hand in the process. A second later my phone starts to ring, my heart is ready to jump out of my chest when I see my father's caller ID. I answer and put him on speaker while I scan the house for any movements.
“Long time no see, right?” The voice on the other line said, not my father’s voice, no but the voice made every hair on my arms raise. An image of him smiling appears in my head, doing what God knows.
“Why are you doing this? I’m here so let's talk” I managed to say and clenched my jaw, otherwise I would curse him and risk their lives.
“ I will tell you, come and meet me in the garage”
The four of us didn't waste any time getting out of the car. Mr.Grant and I on one side and Ruben, Mr.Smith on the other side.
“No no, only you are invited”
Mr.Grant puts the call on mute before I can say anything.
“ That’s dangerous, we don't know what he is planning,” Mr.Grant said, for the first time I saw the panic in his eyes. It somehow calmed down to know I wasn't alone in this.
“ Hell no, the cops are already on their way, let's stall him till then,” Ruben said, he walks over to my side and we stood in a circle.
“ With all respect ma’am, letting you go inside alone is foolish” Mr.Smith wasn't facing us as he spoke, his eyes were still on the house.
They all had points and I appreciated their concern but I had no control for the moment. Who knows what will happen if he sees the cops.
“ I’m sorry but I can not risk losing my parents over this, I have to go there” I received disappointed faces, it wasn't an answer they wanted to hear. I then unmute the call.
“ Alright, I will come alone,” I said, anticipating his answer. The silence made me question why we risked muting this mad man.
“ No funny games Owens, the garage door is open” Was all he said before ending the call. I let go of the breath I was holding and started walking towards the house. I only took two steps before Ruben blocked my way, his eyes wandering around my face. Before I can ask him to move he pulls me into a hug with one arm and I bite my tongue to stop myself from crying. It must be his comforting smell that made me want to crash.
“ Listen, I won’t stop you even if I want, but take this” His voice was on the bridge of breaking, his other hand put a slightly heavy thing in my inner pocket on my jacket. I try to keep my face from showing any signs of surprise and keep my arms around his waist.
“ Don’t hesitate to use it, it got a couple of bullets” He whispers in my ear before pulling away from me. I blink away the tears and force myself past him.
Each step closer to the garage the drums in my ear get louder. The house didn't have any alarming smell and no sign of fire. I push open the garage door and fear what's behind it.
Nothing, absolutely nothing. It was empty and only a three-step stair under a door. It felt like I was in my nightmare where this basement was the stage.
“All it took to know everything about you was through an assistant, embarrassing isn't it?”
“ I’m not embarrassed for trusting her” No I was fuming with anger over it.
“ Rachel, the one that got away and lived with no memories of the day that broke my family” I searched for where that voice was coming from and I saw a speaker above the white door in front of me. There's nothing I could say to him that would please his wild narrative.
“I didn't choose to forget, trauma does that,” I said, not a second later I hear him laughing hysterically.
“ Do you know that I saw my father kill himself in front of me, do you know what trauma does to that?” He yells. I started to look around my surroundings to see if there's anything useful.
“ I’m sorry that you had to go through that, we both were victims by that” I said, trying to sound empathic. He was a victim but now he was a criminal.
“ Exactly, we both were victims but why was I treated like a killer? I’m the only one that remembers everything of that night, wasn't that enough?” His voice was filled with resentment and it had turned him out of his calm facade.
“I wish it hadn't turned out the way it did, but right now you have a choice to not create any more victims,” I said as I grew the courage to approach the door.
“Rachel, run away, now” My father’s panicked voice made me stop in my tracks, I couldn't tell if his voice was coming from behind the door or the speakers.
“ Don’t spoil the present now, Rachel I do have choices but none that I can live with” I snake my hand in my jacket, feeling the gun as I reach for the door.
Bang bang bang
Three shots were all I heard before I pushed the door open. My eyes frantically search for the sound with my shaky hands I hold tightly on the gun. My vision turned blurry with tears as I dragged myself to the bloody scene.
A young blond man in his twenties turns the gun from my parents and faces me. I direct mine at him but to my surprise, I don't have to fire. He turns the gun to himself as his lifeless eyes stare at me.
“ No-” I was cut off from the sound of the gun going off and his body crashed on the ground. Only then did I hear my mother screaming. Her pink dress had turned red to the point where I couldn't tell where she was shot. I drop the gun on the floor when I see my father barely breathing on the floor. I could hear people shouting my name as I ran to my parents.
Pain surged through my knees when I pushed myself to the ground but I ignored it. I tried to block out everything but I couldn't, my eyes were stuck between the blood on my dad's white shirt and the blood on my mother's face as she cried. Her cold hands left blood on my face and her eyes held terror.
I was embraced from behind as the ambulance workers rushed in with aid equipment. I had no tears left so I cried silently as I let the familiar fragrance comfort me.
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