I had gotten a call early that morning, two days after I had dinner with Aspen.
“Is this Gavin Graves?” the voice on the other end of the phone asked.
“This is he,” I responded, my voice calm and professional.
“This is the sheriff. I need you to come down here as soon as possible. We have something we need you to look at,” the voice stated.
I agreed before hanging up. I ran out of my hotel room after dressing, tucking my gun into its holster. I banged on Ross’s hotel room door.
“What?” he demanded, throwing open the door.
“Get dressed. We’re going to the Sherriff’s Office in ten. I’ll be in the car after I get Theodore,” I ordered before going to the next door down the hall.
“Theodore!” I yelled after hammering on the door several times. I growled before yanking my phone out of my pocket and calling him. It went straight to voicemail. I stormed down the hall, trying to keep my panic under control. I had this sneaking suspicion that this had something to do with Aspen.
I was in the car not two minutes later, waiting impatiently on Ross. I tried to call Theodore again but still got nothing. I glared at my phone.
The passenger side door opened and Ross climbed in. “Why are we going there?” he asked.
“They want me to look at something. I don’t know what,” I answered, pulling out of the parking space and rushing out of the parking lot.
The drive only took ten minutes but it felt like forever. The closer we got to the Sherriff’s Office the feeling of dread that settled in my stomach grew larger and larger.
I barely killed the engine of the car before getting out of it, Ross following close behind me. I pushed through the doors and demanded to see the Sherriff.
The lady at the front desk crossed her arms before asking for my name. I gave it to her and she told us to just head straight back down the hall and the Sherriff would be in his office.
I followed her instructions. While walking down the hall I noticed many people were on edge. Before long I was face to face with a gray-haired man where a badge that said, Sherriff Mills.
“What is it you wanted me to see?” I said by way of greeting.
“This way,” Mills walked out of his office and into another separate room with a large video screen. “You may want to sit down,” he mumbled before turning towards a computer.
Ross and I did as he said and he hit a button on the computer. What showed up on the screen made my blood freeze in my veins.
“Son of a bitch,” Ross hissed beside me.
I stared at the sight before me. It was Aspen, my daughter, tied to a chair. Behind her stood Theodore, smiling evilly at the camera. I took in her appearance and noticed that she had no clothes on other than her underwear. I looked into her green eyes that remind me so much of Monica. I saw the anger burning in them, the fury that was so strong I could feel it through the screen.
“Play it,” I whispered, not looking away from the screen. Mills did as I said and I clutched the chair I was sitting in.
Theodore leaned closer to the camera. “Gavin Graves. Your daughter makes such excellent company,” his words echo through my head as he grips Aspen’s jaw hard enough to bruise. I watched her face yet she didn’t show any fear or pain. Only anger.
Until he pressed a knife against her throat and I saw the fear flash in her eyes before she hid it. She was strong. My daughter was so strong.
“If I don’t have five million dollars put into a Swiss bank account with a way out of the U.S. in a week then I will just have to scar her pretty little body. And who would want that? You just found your daughter but if I don’t get what I want, then at the end of the week she will be nothing but a mangled corpse, just like her mother. One week Gavin. One week,” he spoke again and my anger flared when he mentioned Monica and what he would do to Aspen.
Mills shuts off the video and waits for our response. I stare straight ahead, pushing my feelings aside and thinking this through.
“What are you planning on doing?” I ask Mills.
“We’re trying to trace where the video came from but have gotten nothing so far. We’re going to try and talk to people she might have known. There’s something else though,” Mills stated as he bent over the computer again.
The video was paused shortly after Mills restarted it. He zoomed in on someone in the background. It was a dark-haired boy. He was pushing against the bars and he looked just as angry as Aspen did.
“Who is that?” I asked.
“That’s Landon Barnes. We’ve contacted his family. They should be here soon,” Mills sighed and sat down at the table.
Just then someone burst into the room. “Where’s my son?!” a man bellowed.
“Mr. Barnes. Mrs. Barnes. Sit down, please.” Mills waved a hand towards a couple of spare seats and the couple did as they were told. The lady, Mrs. Barnes had puffy eyes and was clutching her husband’s arm. Mr. Barnes, on the other hand, looked livid.
“Show them the video,” I demanded and Mills complied.
They watched the video in silence. After it ended, Mrs. Barnes broke down into sobs and her husband wrapped his arms around her.
“That poor girl. My poor son,” she sobbed. Mr. Barnes rubbed her arms in a comforting gesture yet he himself looked even angrier if that was possible.
“That is your son, correct?” Mills asked, pointed to the boy in the background.
“Yes,” Mr. Barnes answered, “that is Landon.”
“Do you know any of his friends at school?” Mills asked while I stayed silent, taking in everything.
“Yes!” Mrs. Barnes spoke up again. “He talked about Aspen a lot but also Vanessa, Bryson, and Sonia. I’m...I am not sure of their last names.”
“We’ll be in touch. Do you wish to stay here for a while?” Mills offered to both of us.
“I would like to go to the school and talk to these people with you,” I stated, standing.
“Mr. Graves. I know you are an FBI agent, but you’re not involved in this case as an agent. So please stay here. Your thoughts on everything will be more than welcome though,” Mills denied as he walked out of the room.
I pushed away from the table and started to pace. I grew angrier and angrier. I pulled my foot back and kicked the chair. It fell over with a loud clank. Ross stood and grabbed my shoulders.
“Stop. Calm down. Think about this with a clear head. You will help Aspen and Landon more that way,” Ross tried to calm me. I stared at him before sagging my shoulders and nodding my head. He was right.
I took a deep breath and let it out before nodding my head again. I would find Aspen and that boy. Then I was coming for Theodore.
Hey, guys! Here’s the second chapter for today. I’ll try to update again soon.
See you guys next time. Bye Bye!
And thank you, Jelyn Joy Matias, for following me!