Finding Home

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Chapter Twenty Nine

“Is everyone buckled in and ready for take-off?” Boss asked as he sat down in the white spinning chair beside me.

I couldn’t stop scrolling through Kiera’s Instagram. I can’t even stop looking at her long enough to answer Boss.

I can’t believe I left her. Again. What kind of husband and father am I? I left her not once but twice with our daughter and now she is pregnant with our second child. I’m such a fuck up.

I should’ve said no. I should’ve just stuck with going back to school and becoming a lawyer. I’d still be helping people out in the line of work.

At least I would be going home every night to my wife and kids and I would be safe. I’d be able to tuck my kids in before I go and have piping hot sex with my wife.

But, no. I always have to go above and beyond. I always have to prove my worth to my family. I want to show my kids that with any setbacks in life, you’ll always make it through somehow.

The chances of them joining the army, hacking into a system accidentally, and go into hiding for years are slim to none. But with the example I’m setting, I can only imagine how great our kids are going to be out in the world.

“Are you nervous?” someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked to my left and saw Alexandra sitting beside me with her face in mine.

“Kind of, yeah.” I lightly nodded trying to scoot back in my seat to create some distance. I don’t like how close she is to me. I know Kiera wouldn’t care, or I think she wouldn’t. But I feel obligated to make sure Kiera never has to second guess her position in my life. And having a female this close to me might just do that.

“Judging by your face, I beg to differ. My first rodeo was hard, too.” Alexandra smiled lightly. “I was six months pregnant when I first went into the field. I left my six-year-old behind with my husband so I know what you’re feeling.”

“Do you, now?” I asked politely.

I doubt she has any idea how I’m feeling. As I said before, I’ve already left my girls once and they presumed me dead after years of disappearance. The only thing that’s different now is that they’ll know my status, either I’ll come through the front door or they’ll get a knock at the door from my colleagues. There is no in-between.

Alexandra has to be in her thirties. Judging by her character she’s one of those females who has to make friends with the new guy. I’ve never seen any of these people in my life besides Boss and Delgado. I’ve spoken to them on the phone but I’ve never met them.

She wears a navy blue blouse with a pair of ash gray dress pants. Her hair was completely shaved to the scalp of her head only showing bleach blonde tiny curls gelled. Her skin was just as dark as mine which gives me the impression she’s Hispanic along with the small accent I’m picking up on.

“I do. It’ll get easier. The first time always blows. Just remember that the faster you catch the killer, the faster we get to get home to our significant others and children.” she opened a package of Lay’s original potato chips and offered me the bag.

I declined, “This isn’t-,”

“Alright everyone, let’s debrief now that everyone has their snacks and drinks.” Boss sipped on a warm cup of coffee.

“Our first victim is Talia Quinones. Age seventeen. She was found in a dumpster behind Sal’s diner around ten-thirty.” Delgado read from a manila folder.

“She was shot execution-style. And according to the ME’s report, she was tortured before death and there were heavy signs of rape.” I added to Delgado’s statement. At least I don’t have to answer Alexandra now. “The rest of the victims all show similar torture marks on the bottom of their feet and across their stomachs. It looks like they all have the same marks around their ankles and wrists, too.” I took a closer look at each of the victim’s postmortem pictures.

“Does it say if they were shot in front of the head or the back?” Delgado asked.

“Frontal lobe, clean shots.”

“So he likes to watch their soul leave their body. Romantic.” Delgado said.

“How many victims in total are there so far?” Alexandra asked while skimming over her folder.

“Thirteen,” Boss answered her, “He kills every Friday night and drops the bodies Monday early in the morning.”

“Jesus, why didn’t they call us sooner?” Delgado huffed in annoyance. I don’t blame him. I don’t understand how thirteen victims have come been found dead yet we are just now getting a call. That’s just a little over three months of a killing spree.

“We can discuss that with Leutenient Williams when we arrive. For now, we should work on a profile and study the case.” Boss assured Delgado and the rest of the team.

“It has to be a male figure who is killing these girls,” Alexandra said.

“Why do you say that?” Delgado asked Alexandra.

“This person has a motive. He chose these girls for a reason. They all have blonde hair and blue eyes. I’d say that a female figure in his life with blonde hair and blue eyes made an impact; hard. Whatever caused him to do this, it was personal.” Alexandra answered.

“I agree. Although, they don’t know if a man’s penis was used for the penetration or if a bottle of some sort was used.” I turned to look at Boss, “If it’s okay with you, sir, I’d like to head over to the morgue and get a closer look at the body.”

“Of course, Delgado can tag along with you.”

We spent the next hour debriefing the case and bouncing ideas off of each other. Whoever did this to these teenage girls has been hurt far too much and it’s too late for him to come back from it. Even if he did manage to plea insanity, he wouldn’t be able to come back. Thirteen bodies. A strict agenda.

It all shows that this guy knows what he is doing. He thought long and hard about how he was going to execute his plan. He must’ve taken months to think of every way to get away with this and it must’ve taken him months to figure out what girls he was going to take.

He’s heartless. He watched these girls’ souls leave their bodies. He got off on hurting these girls. These girls had families, friends, significant others; now they’re gone without any explanation.

The thought of Kelia or Kiera in this situation taunts me. I don’t like thinking negatively but I can’t help it at a time like this. Kiera has blonde hair and blue eyes, it’s one of the many things I love about her even if the hair color isn’t natural. I’d go on a murdering spree too if someone ever hurt my family, I wouldn’t even think about it; I’d just do it.

I’m making it my mission to serve these girls justice. Find their killer. And lock him the hell up. He doesn’t deserve to be roaming free, preying on these vulnerable teenagers trying to find his next victim.

The flight went faster than anticipated. I was hoping to catch some shut-eye before landing as I just got back home from Africa. I’ve barely slept in the last twenty-four hours. I should’ve taken advantage of the flight time but instead, I couldn’t stop myself from texting Kiera.

She’s so full of life, even after I just left her for God only knows how long. She’s stunningly positive about every situation. I could die while I’m out here and she is still finding the light in a dark situation. She truly is an angelic gift sent from above to bless my life.

I love her so much. I could never live without her. I don’t understand how she can want to risk living without me even just a little bit. But the silver lining is that I get to teach my daughter how to protect herself and show her what true heroes are made of.

We landed and drove ourselves to our hotel rooms before Delgado and I teamed up to go to the morgue. Something just feels off about the ME’s report. Maybe he is missing something that we might be able to pick out. After all, it is our job to see things that others don’t.

I feel like I should’ve gone through some sort of profiling class so I could be up to speed with the others. But I guess Boss would rather me get the hands-on experience. I feel like I’m the dumbest one present here and I should’ve just been kept in the office back at headquarters with my computers. I know for a fact that I’d do best there.

“Are you nervous?” Delgado asked as we walked into the Phoenix police department.

We were greeted by a young secretary woman with a black bob cut. She honestly gives me vampire vibes with how pale she is and how black her hair was. “Can I help you two?”

“Oh, right. This is for you.” Delgado handed me a chained leather piece and I observed it to see it was an FBI ID and badge. “Hi, I’m Sergeant Delgado and this here is my partner Master Sergeant Santiago. We were wondering if you could point us in the direction of the morgue?” we both showed our ID badges and she immediately grew a fake smile on her face.

“Sure thing! You can go over to the staircase over there.” she pointed her red acrylic nail in the direction. “Our morgue is in the basement. Are you guys here for the teenage girls who were killed?” she started making googly eyes at me with lust. Does she not know who I am? Does she not know who my wife is?

“Thank you, that’ll be all.” I politely nodded before grabbing Delgado by the shoulder and walked away from her. Not only can we not talk about the case until Boss tells us to do so but I did not like the vibes she was giving off. She wanted a piece of the Matty pie but it’s been fully consumed by Kiera.

“What was that about? Did you see the way she was looking at you?” Delgado teased while we walked down the staircase and into the morgue.

“I don’t fucking know, nor do I fucking care.” I laughed.

“It’s every guy's dream to have girls like her throw themselves at himself.” he tried looking over his shoulder to get a final glance of the girl but I pulled him straight as we stepped down the last staircase.

“Not mine.” I shrugged my shoulders at him and we walked through metal double doors together with our notepads and badges ready to show.

We walked into the morgue and I felt the death present in the air. This is a sad place. The aurora is cold and dark. It’s like I can feel the spirits that have been brought here lingering over my own shoulders giving me chills down my spine.

“Can I help you?” an English man walked out of an office and approached Delgado and I.

“Hi, I’m Agent Santiago and this is my partner, Agent Delgado. We’re here with the FBI investigating the deaths of the murdered teenage females.” I pulled open my badge allowing the young man to view the ID card. “We were wondering if you could give us a few moments of your time to answer some questions and allow us to view the body?”

“There isn’t a problem with that, I’m Doctor Geuxinou.” he began walking toward the body refrigerators. “What would you like to know?”

“You said here in the report that they were all killed execution-style from the front. Do you know how far they were from the victim?”

“He held the barrel straight to their forehead before pulling the trigger. He held them for the weekend, torturing them and raping them repeatedly until their bodies started shutting down.”

“Did they have any food in their systems before they were shot?” he pulled the small metal fridge door open and rolled a dead body out of the crawl space.

“I did think this was weird. Each victim had food in their system and according to textbooks they ate the gourmet meals no more than four hours before they were killed and dumped.” he handed me a binder and I opened it up.

“This here is a list of every component I found inside their stomachs. Each of them had something in their stomachs, kind of like gourmet meals. Steak, lobster thermidor, linguine, they all held some sort of five-star meal in their stomach.” he uncovered the body of the white sheet, “This was our latest victim; Chelsea Sikes, seventeen years old. I found a lobster in her stomach, it was completely filled.”

I turned to Delgado and handed him the binder so he could skim through it, “He must be feeding the girls a meal of their choosing before he kills them.” I turned back to the body and looked closer at the pale skin starting at the head.

“What are these marks from? Do you have any idea what caused these cuts on the torso?” her neck had ligature marks from being tied up and her throat seemed to be swollen. This poor girl. She was brutally tortured and exposed to this man who did this. She didn’t even have the chance to fight back, he had her tied down on her neck, wrists, and her feet. She wasn’t even given the chance.

“She was cuffed at her ankles, wrists, and neck with something like a belt. Nothing like the ones they use in the psych wards but a literal belt.”

Something about her throat being that swollen after she died three days ago just doesn’t sit right with me. I reached into the glove box that was hanging on the wall beside the fridges and I went to go open her mouth, “May I?”

“Of course,” he held out his hand to offer help.

“Was there anything wrong with her dental?” I opened her mouth as wide as I could to see if there was any smoke damage to her teeth or anything out of the usual wrong with her throat. “Can I borrow a flashlight?”

He handed me a flashlight pen from his white doctor coat pocket, “Nothing wrong from what I could tell.”

I clicked the flashlight button causing the light to shine in the dark crevices of her mouth and I notice that it looks like something is shoved in her throat. “Can I get a pair of tweezers or something to use as a grip?” I tried shoving my fingers down her throat to get the object but they couldn’t fit.

“Do you see something I missed? I’ve examined these bodies for days. I didn’t see anything wrong with their dental.” he walked toward a tray that held surgical instruments and walked back with a pair of clamps. “What do you see?”

“There’s something in her throat.” I hope the killer didn’t leave something in each victim’s throat. That’ll be a lot of digging for someone.

I have to admit that it’s disturbing trying to reach in this teenagers throat in attempt to yank something out. She doesn’t deserve this, she deserves to be put down to rest so her soul can move on. She deserves the proper burial.

I can only imagine how disrupt of the peace it’ll become if we have to dig up each body.

I was finally able to yank whatever it was that was lodged in the girls throat. I held it close to my face trying to observe what it was. “I’m so sorry, Agent Santiago. I hadn’t noticed it in the back of her throat. I sincerely apologize.”

“You’re good, you wouldn’t have noticed it unless you looked closely at her swelled esophagus.” I walked over to the surgical tray that was empty with the tweezers in my hand. I dropped the thick folded paper on the tray and I began unwrapping it. Something was inside of the paper, but I couldn’t tell by feeling the outside of the paper. I had to open it. It’s obviously a major clue in all of this.

Whoever muredered this girl made it very apparent that they wanted to hide whatever this is for as long as they could but they also made it apparent that they wanted it to be found. It was so deep in her throat, in looked as if she had an adams apple like a man.

Once I got the paper fully unwrapped, a dice with letters fell onto the metal table and the note had something written on the inside.

I was hoping you’ve found my hidden clue’s for you by now, but it’s unfortunate they haven’t been located yet. If you find this letter, then you need to refer to my dearest friend Talia Quinones.
It is with my pleasure to share with you that I already have my new girlfriend. She’s a real foxy one and I can’t wait until I’m finished with her to move onto the next. Ciao.

“Delgado, come take a look at this,” I called for his attention. “How many of the victims bodies are here right now?”

“Ten of them, sir. Five of them haven’t been claimed yet, and the other five are awaiting arrangments with funeral homes.”

“You need to get each of them out and get whatever it is that’s lodged in their throats.” they should’ve fucking saw this. As a doctor, they should know that females don’t have throats with balls in the center of them. They should’ve been in contact with us sooner, honestly. These lives are on their hands because they were too inadequate to contact us sooner. They have a seriel killer on their hands and they thought to wait thirteen weeks to get a hold of us.

“Make sure you keep each and every note in order, and under no circumstances are you to mix them up.” I ripped my gloves off and dialed Boss’s phone number. “I have to make a call. You need to start ASAP.”

“You calling Boss?”

I nodded as I held the phone to my ear and stepped into the morgue’s office shutting the door behind me.

“You’re on speaker, you got something for us, Santiago?” Boss answered the phone after the second ring.

“There was something stuffed in our latest victims throat. I pulled it out and unwrapped the piece of paper. There was a message made of newspaper and magazine clippings for us and a dice with letters on it.”

“What did the note read?” Alexandria asked.

I stuck my head out of the cracked door and motioned for Delgado to step in with me. I grabbed the note from Delgado’s hands and I read it back to the group call. “If I’m right, he left something in every victims throat and he’s changed his plans. He already has his next victim and it’s only Wednesday, Boss. He’s changed his motive and his course of action.”

“He wanted us to find the clue.” I heard Boss sigh, “Why didn’t the ME notice it before? Three of the bodies are already laid down to rest.”

“I can get the addresses to where the three graves are located and I can ask the cemetery to dig up the graves,” Delgado answered Boss. “The dice has different letters on six different sides. I’m assuming each victim carries a note with a dice wrapped inside just like this one.”

“You two are not to leave that morgue until you get every dice and letter from the victims. I want you two to individually bag each evidence item and mark them accordingly to name. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you keep them in order.” Spencer’s voice sounded from the phone. The man never talks, I almost didn’t recognize his voice.

“You got it, do you guys need anything from us?”

“I’m headed to the police station now, the rest will join us once they finish at victim number thirteen’s parent’s house for questioning.” Boss answered, “Do you two need any assistance or are you two good for now?”

I glanced at Delgado and he nodded before exiting the room, “We’re good here, Boss. We’ll let you know if we find anything else.”

“Alright,” Boss said.

I went to hang up the phone, “Santiago?”

“Yes, Boss?”

“Good work.” he hung up the phone before I could even thank him for his compliment. It felt nice to be told I’m doing a good job on my first day out in the field. But it feels worse that the better I do out here, the more I’ll be absent from my family.

I’m missing my babies first ultrasound, again. I don’t blame Kiera. I could never blame her for keeping Kelia a secret from me for twelve weeks. She did what she thought was right. And let’s face it, not every love story is happily ever after. Not every man is me. Not every man is capable of taking care of a child in high school.

I walked out of the ME’s office and I walked over to Dr. Geuxinou, “We have order to bag each item in separate evidence bags labeled by name. We were also ordered to help you extract each item from each victims throat. Our Boss, Boss, also ask that the three buried bodies be transported here so we can extract the items from their throats.”

“I’m so sorry, Agent Santiago. I swear this has never happened before.” he pleaded with his hands.

“You can only learn from your mistake, sir. Shall we get started?” I nodded lightly before putting a new pair of gloves on and grabbing the tweezers I had before. I’m ready to extract items from dead bodies throats. This is a dream job, from what anyone can tell.

*Kiera’s POV*

Watching Matteo leave for a second time for work reasons hurt my heart just a sliver. I know he is coming back this time. I know he won’t be gone for training and disappear on me again. I don’t think he’d ever risk losing me or our children ever again.

I’m upset that he is missing our first ultrasound appointment, but when duty calls he has no choice but to go. He catches bad guys and takes them off the street. I can’t find any other word to describe him besides admirable. Not everyone can accept this kind of job after they’ve gone through what Matteo had gone through.

I wouldn’t ever turn my back on Matteo, ever. But being a wife of a retired soldier who has severe PTSD can be extremely hard. I don’t think he notices but he sometimes still screams in his sleep at night. He still gets shivers and cold sweats while in a deep sleep. And he sometimes calls out my name as if I’m not there.

But I am. And I always will be

I wish he could be here for our ultra sound but I can at least video record for him. He probably won’t be able to videochat with me while it’s happening due to his line of work but I know he will be thankful for the video.

I want to keep this pregnancy a secret as long as I can. And if that includes declining any line of work for the next year then so be it. I don’t want to world to know about my pregnancy. I need time to get super excited for it. I’m not saying I’m not excited, but I could be more excited.

It’d be legendary if I had more time to work on my acting before getting pregnant. My acting career just started and I wanted to be a Hollywood Scarlett. I could’ve imagined myself walking down the red carpet at the MTV awards being nominated for three or four different awards. Just a nomination would be enough, but winning the awards would’ve topped it all off. It would’ve been the cherry on top of the whipped topping.

But Matteo wanted a baby and I want to give him everything he wants from now until death do us part. The look on his face when I slid the pregnancy test to him was the facial expression I long for. His eyes sparkled in the light. His smile glowed and his teeth were on full display. He was just so happy at the thought of making another baby. He had his heart set on making another baby with me and I couldn't say no.

He’s the love of my life. It’s normal to want to give your soul mate everything they want and desire. It’s normal to want your significant other to succeed and make a difference in this world. My life is now becoming . . . normal.

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