Finding Home

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Chapter Thirty Four

Kiera's POV:

“Kiera!” I heard Matty’s voice shouting from behind me. “Shut the fucking cameras off,” He ordered Nick and Jose who were behind the cameras, and we all held the same scared worried looks on our faces.

“Matty? What are you doing here?” I turned around to see him stomping towards me.

“Grab your stuff.” He walked onto the set without even asking permission and he grabbed me by the arm. “We’re leaving.”

I ripped my arm away from him and stopped him from dragging me through the arm, “What the hell is it you think you’re doing here?” I whisper shouted at him.

He looked around us to see everyone listening in on our conversation, taking notice of every single person’s pale face.

“Matty,” I lowered my eyes and I dug my fingernails into the palm of my hands, “What is going on?”

“I’ll explain on our way to the office when we don’t have ears listening in on our business,” He said loud enough for everyone to hear and they all began stumbling out of the room tripping over each other. “We don’t have time for questions right now.”

The room was now empty with only Matty, Selena, and I present on the entire set, “You’re going to tell me and you’re going to tell me now. Is Kelia okay?”

I could tell by the look on his face when I asked the single question, that something in fact was wrong. She was hurt. I could feel it in my soul just based on how he lost all color to his face and looked to be sick. Something is wrong with my baby girl and I haven’t had the clue. Wouldn’t a mother know if something was wrong with her daughter or that she’s hurt? A mother would know.

I’ve been so focused on work and the pregnancy that I had no idea anything was wrong. I thought all was well in our lives and everything was perfect.

“Kelia . . . she’s . . . did you set the alarm when you left this morning?” He yelled out.

Did I... did I set the alarm this morning? Of course, I did. I always set the alarm. There are crazy people out here and my job doesn’t make it any easier. I first hand dealt with a stalker. I was almost raped by him when I was only seven months pregnant. I was physically assaulted when I was seven months pregnant.

“What’s going on?” a shield of tears began to cover a thick layer over my eyes and my chest began to feel in a panic, “Why do you ask?”

“Kelia’s missing, Kiera.” He mumbled under my breath, “She’s missing.” his voice cracked at each and every word.

I could feel the blood leave my face and fall to my knees. My stomach churned upside down and I felt woozy instantly. This has to be some sick joke. My knees gave out and Matty caught me before I could actually start falling to the ground, “Wha-how?” I barely spoke out.

What the fuck do I do? I just... I just, can’t think right now. I can’t focus. My head feels like a cannonball ready to explode.

“I-I-I I don’t know. I was asleep . . .” He said lightly dragging me towards Selena for support.

My life is over. I couldn’t protect Kelia when she was in my uterus where it’s supposed to be the safest place she’ll ever be. And I couldn’t protect her from whatever has happened today. I’m a failure as a mother. And I’m a failure as an influencer. I paid too much attention to everything else and not enough attention to my daughter.

“Kiera, honey, look at me.” Selena grabbed me by my chin and forced me to look into her eyes. “Breathe in,” I didn’t want to do as she said, but I did while Matty held me in his arms, “Good, hold it for a few more seconds.” she motioned her hand in circles breathing in with me, “And breathe out.”

“Now listen to me, babe.” I felt just as sick as I did before but I have more focus after breathing in and out, “Not only does Kelia need you to keep it together to help find her safe and unharmed, but the little one that you’re carrying also needs to you to keep it together and relax. Your husband is part of the BAU and they specialize in these cases all the time.”

I stared at Selena with a blunt look on my face, I wanted to object to her statement. My husband is in the BAU and somehow she is missing while he was home sleeping. I don’t blame him. But I blame both of us. Both of our jobs were bound to put her in this position and we never even thought about her safety. “Nod if you understand what I’m saying.”

I took in another deep breath holding it in for a few seconds and breathing out before slowly nodding. “Good, now Matty and I are going to help you into the elevator and we’re going to let Matty drive us to where he needs to drive us without wasting any time.”

I’m so happy Selena understands that time is at the essence. Because I don’t. I wouldn’t have been able to live in this moment if these two weren’t here. I’d be on the floor hysterical at the thought of my daughter missing.

I nodded again and clasped onto Matty’s neck, holding onto him tightly. “Here,” Selena took her white large Balenciaga pullover sweatshirt and handed it to me, “Hold her up while I help her get this on quickly.”

“Gracias, Selena,” Matty whispered to Selena as he obeyed her orders.

“Alright, come on, babes.” Selena helped him make sure I was stable by placing my hand on my left lower back and he held his hand on my right lower back. “Matty will fill us in once we get onto the elevator, won’t you Matty?” Selena glared at Matty.

I don’t understand how this can happen. I swore I set the alarm when I left early this morning. I swore Duma would have barked or something to get the attention of Matty if something were wrong. I swore Kelia was in the room when I left this morning. The one morning I don’t kiss her on her forehead before leaving, and she’s missing.

We should’ve had the cameras and fences put up sooner rather than putting it off. We’re really paying the price for it now.

Selena left me long enough to press the button to the lobby floor and she quickly returned to my side, “It’s my fault, I don’t remember if I set the alarm.” I whispered in a faint voice. “It’s my fault.” a single tear fell down the side of my cheek. “I told myself to lock it, I thought I locked it.”

“Duma was asleep in her room?” I nodded wiping away the single tear with the sleeve of Selena’s sweatshirt.

“Why?” Selena asked.

“She’s also missing. I checked every inch of the house and they both are gone. I checked Kelia’s location on Life360 when I finished searching the house and when I checked, her phone was located down our street 36 minutes before the line was shut off.” the elevator doors slid open to the lobby.

They dragged me to Matty’s car that had railing sirens playing from the speakers avoiding all of the press that was creating a circle around us.

Matty reversed off of the sidewalk without checking for any pedestrians and he drove the car onto the highway rushing down the road that was spaced out enough for him to swerve in between cars that weren’t pulling over.

Within five minutes we arrived at the office and the three of us ran side by side into the staircase to get onto the second floor to meet Matty’s team.

I hope they put in the extra effort because Matty is part of their team. I hope they put in the extra effort because a little girl is missing. My little girl is missing.

Matty barged into the conference room to find Delgado and three others sitting at the round table whispering with each other in a panic. “Santiago . . . you’re here,” an older man in his thirties said as everyone stood up from their chairs.

They held heavy pity looks on their faces. It disgusts me and makes me sick.

“Where are we? What’s the move?” Matty pulled two chairs out for me and Selena and he sat beside the older man and me.

“Mrs. Santiago, I was wondering if I could get a moment of your time and talk to you in private while they debrief?” A woman with pale skin placed her hand on the back of my chair and held a sympathetic smile on her face.

I slowly nodded looking up at her but didn’t move from my seat, “C-c-can M-M-Matty come with?” I was shivering out of my skin as I stuttered.

“We need your husband in here with us so we can get a plan together and go over what he knows. Alexandra specialized in children’s kidnappings before she joined the team and she would just like to go over some things with you in private so you can remain as relaxed as you.” Whom I’m assuming Boss is answered me without a facial expression.

“I-I-I I can’t go alone.”

“Mrs. Santiago . . . we need you to trust us.”

“Trust you?” I stood up from my chair in anger. I could feel my skin getting hotter by the second, “I don’t know you people. I know you work with my husband and that’s it! How am I supposed to trust someone I don’t know?”

“I’ll go with you, babes.” Selena placed her hand on my back and began leading me towards the large metal doors. “We have to trust the system, we don’t have a choice.”

I looked over my shoulder in a panic. But I still found myself walking forward following Selena and the strange woman.

My phone started buzzing in my back pocket and I answered it without looking at the caller ID, “H-hello?”

“What the hell is going on?” Allen shouted into the phone speaker, “Why am I getting an AMBER alert with my niece’s face on the screen?”

“I-I-I don’t know. We just know she’s missing with Duma.” I started crying into the phone, “Allen... I’m such a horrible mom.”

“Shut the fuck up with that shit and you listen to me, alright? Stop crying for one second and listen to me.”

I held my breath tightly, allowing him the silence to speak. “Your husband works for the BAU. If she’s missing, he and his team will be sure to find her alive and unharmed. You got it?” I covered my mouth to continue holding my breath, “You’re the best fucking mother, sister, friend, daughter anything anyone could ask for. You’re the golden child that everyone wishes they had and raised. You’re human and things happen. This could’ve happened to anyone and they would never be seen as a horrible mother.”

“What if... what if they don’t?”

“I give you my word that I will run to the end of the earth looking for her, but you have to do what the team says. Do you understand me? Save your crying for after the interview.”

I nodded, taking in his words to give myself the power to do so. “Okay.”

“I need to hear you say it, I need to hear you say you’ll be tough until after the interview.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll tough it out.” I wiped the tears from my cheeks, gaining control over my emotions and setting them aside for Kelia.

“I’ll call mom and fill her in on what’s going on. Call me as soon as you hear anything about this. We’re here for you, Kiera. Roxy and I have always been here for you.”

“Thank you, Allen. I love you.”

The only thought that’s running through my head right now is the only thing that’s making me sick. I don’t think I can love this baby if I don’t find Kelia unharmed.

“I love you too, sis.” He hung up the phone and we entered an interrogation room.

“Would you like anything to drink, a water?” Alexandra asked.

“Yes, please.” I’m quite parched and I’m carrying a human inside of me after all.

She stuck her head outside the door and called for someone to bring in a pitcher of water. “Alright, Kiera. First things first, I’m going to ask you a series of questions, and before you jump to a conclusion; we don’t blame you or think of you as a suspect. We’re only trying to get answers and put this all together. I need you to be totally and completely honest, no matter how absurd it sounds.”

“I know how this works. My husband fills me in on his work life.” I sat up straight as a police officer walked in with a stack of clear cups and a pitcher of iced cucumber water.

She grabbed two glasses from the stack and poured Selena and me a cup of cucumber-infused water. “Excellent. First I’d like to start out with you. How have you been feeling these past few months? Has it been stressful at home or work?”

“Work is stressful, as it is for anyone who works their ass off. But home is my escape. It doesn’t matter how hard it is in the outside world, home is my safe place.”

“You’re lucky. It sounds like you’re living your own fairytale.”

“I’d like to agree with you.” Selena chugged her cup of water empty and picked a cucumber out of the cup. “Her home is always putting me in a zen mood. It’s oddly always peaceful and an escape.”

Alexandra sat across from Selena and me, “Nothing out of the ordinary has happened recently? Work or personal life.”

I shook my head. “Do you know if anyone is particularly angry with you? Have you received any threats since your rise in fame?”

I shook my head again, “What does this have to do with anything?”

“We’re just trying to find the reason this has happened to your family. Did you have any enemies in school?”

“Bianca, but she was more jealous that Matty chose me.”

“So everyone loved you?”

“A little too much, yeah.” Javier ruined my high school career with that one day. “There was this guy, Javier, I can’t remember his name but he assaulted me.”

Alexandra wrote down Javier’s name on a yellow notepad, “I know this is hard for you to talk about. But would you mind giving some details?”

“He stalked me,” tears began falling down my cheeks, “He hit me,” more tears fell down my cheek. “He almost... he almost sexually assaulted me first period.”

“Do you know where he is now?”

“Last I knew, he was serving ten years.”

“I had no idea.” Selena startled me by dragging me in for a tight hug, “I had no idea you went through something so traumatic.”

“I didn’t want anyone to look at me any different.” I cried into her shoulders. I pulled away from Selena holding her hand and I looked at Alexandra to wait for her next question.

“Alright, I’m going to make some phone calls quickly before we finish this interview. Would you like to go back to the room with your husband?”

I nodded in confusion. That’s it? That’s all the information she needed for the interview? I thought she would’ve asked for more details of my life, more details about Kelia’s life.

“Javier was obsessed with me.” I blurted out. “He watched me and Matty... he followed me home and would watch me and Matty sleep. He was obsessed with me and I was told that he wouldn’t be getting an early dismissal.”

“I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you, woman to woman, the prison system is fucked and we need to take every step to find your daughter. Including getting an update on his incarceration and his status.”

“But why? You don’t think that they let him out, do you? They would have told me.”

“I don’t know, honey. We’re going to get some answers though, I give you my word that we will find your daughter.”

We entered the room where the guys were and it was empty, “You two can relax here. I’m going to your husband’s office to have him look a few things up for me while I make some phone calls. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to find me or call me.” She handed me her business card.

She doesn’t actually think they’d allow a sick fuck like Javier out after he tried to rape a pregnant teenager and assaulted her, does she? The system wouldn’t allow justice to be served like that. They wouldn’t allow me to live in fear and looking over my shoulder the rest of my life just so this man can get out of prison early.

Someone would have at least informed me if he was released. I was the one he assaulted and had worse intentions for. I’m the one who he scarred for life. I’m the one who will have to live my life hiding and in danger.

Who could I trust anymore? Who’s to say that a random fan isn’t actually a fan but Javier himself? What has my life come to?

Selena and I sat in silence at the round table while we waited for anyone to return. I’m sure Matty is in his office working on a few things, but they could’ve at least told me where he went. I have no doubt that Javier would even try to come into the office, but the thought is lingering and isn’t going away.

Alexandra returned with an unsatisfied grin on her face and sat in the chair across from Selena and me, “I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Javier was released from prison last year. He went through each step and was let out on good behavior and his psych test was passed with flying colors. But the good news is we’ve tracked his phone right at your house six weeks ago before the line goes dead.”

Six weeks ago was when my niece was born. Six weeks ago was when that fan showed up at my door early in the morning before I left for the hospital. “He has blonde hair now and he goes by Tyler now,” I started searching through my purse to look for the script in my purse to give to Alexandra.

But the longer I searched in my purse for the script, the angrier I got to the point where I threw my purse across the room, “Calm down, sis. You’re going to upset the baby.”

“How could this happen!” I shouted, “How could this sick fuck be released from prison and find me?”

“I’m not sure, honey. But now we have a lead. We sent the guys over to Javier’s last known address and we will get this figured out.”

I rested my head on the hard cold table and closed my eyes the try and gain control over the nausea, “What’s wrong, babe? Talk to me, do you need anything?” Selena rubbed my back in circles.

I didn’t answer.

She hesitated to speak, “Are you... are you going to the dark place?” She asked in a low voice.

“I might, I just might,” I said barely over my breath. “I can’t do this anymore.”

“Do what?” She asked.

“This. Everything. It’s all too much for my family.”

She sighed, resting her cheek on my shoulder. I just can’t think right now. I can’t think of my baby girl unprotected and alone.

She’s probably crying right now, hoping that mommy and daddy come to her rescue and save her from the fear of being hurt or dying. And Duma, our first addition to our family is probably already dead and that’s why we can’t find her. She probably died trying to protect Kelia from this disgusting man.

Everything was so perfect. It was everything I ever wanted. Adding onto our family. Marrying the love of my life. Buying our dream home. Furthering both of our careers. Spending time with our wonderful and supporting friends. It was a dream come true. A fairytale really.

But now it’s all gone to shit. Nothing is right. My life has fallen apart in a matter of seconds. It just comes to show that nothing lasts forever. Nothing can be definite and always prepare for the worse to come. Let this be a life lesson to all of us—everyone in the world who follows me to see that the worst is inevitable.

Alexandra knocked on the door behind us, “Hey, sweetie. Matteo has asked me to escort you to a hotel he’s rented until we find Kelia.”

“Where will he be?” Alexandra’s phone started ringing loud, piercing my eardrums.

“Talk to me, Santiago.” Alexandra held her finger up for me to wait before she shut the glass door behind her. She started rubbing her forehead aggressively. She pulled her hair out of her face by swiping her scalp. She’s stressed with the information my husband just told her.

“What is it that you think he told her?” I asked Selena, staring off into space.

Alexandra started pacing back and forth and my eyes followed her every step, “Maybe he got word that Kelia was spotted.”

“Look at her body language. We both know that isn’t true.” I said, leaning more towards being hopeless about the situation.

“You don’t know that.”

“Neither do you.” Alexandra walked into the room with a smile on her face. “What’s going on? Tell me you found her.”

“We didn’t find her, but we found your dog in the backyard of Javier Rivera, aka Tyler Gristine, in an apartment in Crenshaw unharmed.”

I should be happy that my dog isn’t hurt and is well, but my daughter still hasn’t been found. There’s no way of knowing what she’s actually going through right now. Is he hurting her? Is he hitting her? Is he...sexually touching her? Is he feeding her? Torturing her? I don’t fucking know and it’s killing me inside fast.

“What about her? Did you find anything?”

“We believe her to be alive. He wouldn’t have kept the dog alive if she wasn’t. We have to stay hopeful. The team is currently locking the house down and looking for any kind of evidence in the apartment.”

“So, what’s next?” Alexandra held the door open for Selena and me, “What do we do from here?”

“Now you trust us and let us find your daughter.”

I slowly nodded, the voice in my head arguing with my agreeance. The three of us left the building through the basement parking lot where only authorized personal were allowed to park for situations like this and Alexandra drove Selena and me to Gold and Shining hotel where I was left alone for no longer than five minutes in the room.

Selena took my phone from me and handled all phone calls for me. I got sick of repeating myself three times in a row to each different family member. My Instagram messages are blowing up. My phone won’t stop ringing. It’s all just too much for me to handle any of this.

I don’t know how someone can be so sick in the head and steal a child from a mother. I don’t know how to execute this so perfectly. He had this planned. He had this in motion since he probably left prison.

He cheated the system. He said all of the right things to get out of prison so he can finish what he started. I will just never know what I’ve done to deserve any of this. I will never know what I did to offend this man this much to make him try and rape me or even kidnap my daughter.

All I can say is she better be alive and a hair on her body better not be harmed and I’ll kill him myself and call the police myself. I know Matty could raise the kids on his own. He may have to quit work, but he and the kids will be set for life while I’m in prison serving several life sentences in prison for killing a man.

All I can say is that I’ll go to hell and back as many times as I have to just to find my daughter alive and well.

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