“Hey, Jim! Are you at the station today?”
“I’d like to stop by to show you something…” Sawyer told him as he caressed Lizbeth’s hand with his thumb. “Liz just got this creepy text on her phone and I was wondering if you could check it?”
“Sure. I’ll be waiting for you, guys.” Jim was one of the best friends he had ever had, if there was something he could do to help, he would do it, no questions asked.
Sawyer sighed. He had slept like a baby but when he walked into the living room and saw Lizbeth’s pale face as she blankly stared at the TV, a shiver ran down his spine.
The car wandering around the neighborhood with a number plate under the name of someone they didn’t even know, Lizbeth being attacked by the psycho she helped to put in prison and now that text. Something was definitely off.
However, as much as Jim wanted to help them, he had his hands tied. He checked the license plate for them and he was going to check from where that text came from, but until there was a real threat -meaning, knowing there was an actual stalker or someone got hurt- the police department couldn’t do anything.
“What did he say?” She asked trying to look calm, but the way her knee was going up and down told him she was far from that.
“He’s waiting for us at the station,” he sweetly told her as he rubbed her back.
“Good…” She looked at the floor.
“You know it’s alright to admit you’re afraid, right?”
“What? I’m fine, it’s probably just one of that psycho’s fans trying to scare me.”
“So stubborn… Liz, come on! I know you,” Sawyer stated as he crossed his arms over his chest, leaning on the wall.
“Okay, fine! It’s creepy as fuck,” she admitted. “And I don’t even know what I did to annoy someone so much.”
“People are crazy, and you know that better than anyone.”
“Yeah, but still…” She huffed.
“Jim will help us with this, and you… You’ll move in with me.”
“Who said that?” She arched an eyebrow.
“Well, if someone is after you I’m not letting you live alone. Besides, you already stay most of the nights with me.” He smirked.
“True,” Lizbeth sighed. “It’s just… Ugh!” She growled.
“I know… But I’m here, okay?” He whispered as he hugged her.
“Thanks,” she mumbled as she hugged him back.
“Always,” he said before kissing the top of her head. “Let’s get ready so we can go to see Jim. And later, I want to show you something.”
“What is it?” She asked, looking at him.
“You’ll see when we get there.” He grinned.
“Come on! Tell me!”
“Nope! It’s a surprise!” He sang as he walked into the bedroom. He had an appointment with a real state agent to see a house for the second time. He loved it the first one time he was there, but he wanted to be sure he was doing the right thing. Since he wasn’t going to separate from Lizbeth the whole day, and at some point, they would have to move to a bigger house for everyone, he thought to show her could lighten her mood a little.
Dude, you’re making plans for the two of you and you haven’t even talked with her about it. Shut it! I will. At some point.
“Are you ready?” Her voice snapped him back to the real world.
“Yeah, sorry, I just spaced out.”
“I saw that,” she chuckled. “What were you thinking about?”
“That face was something!” She pointed at him.
“Whatever,” he said as he grabbed her hand and kissed it. “Let’s go.”
“Hey, guys!” Jim greeted him as he walked out of his office. “Good to see you again,” he said as he hugged her. “How are you doing?”
“As good as I can with this stupid message I got…”
“We’ll check that now in a minute, don’t worry,” he reassured her, putting his hand on her shoulder.
Lizbeth had met his friends once during a dinner they did at home. Not that he needed their approval, but knowing his friends liked her made him feel good. Both agreed that she was very nice and funny. And both of them loved the fact that she wasn’t afraid of talking back to Ryan when he tried to tease her. It was a good night.
“Hey, Cox! How are you?”
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” He hugged his friend.
“Alright, guys, come with me.” He motioned them to follow him into the station. “Have you received any other messages before?”
“No, just this one.”
“Can I see?”
“Yes, of course,” Lizbeth responded and immediately looked for her phone in her bag. “Here.”
Jim took the phone and looked at the screen frowning.
“So?” Sawyer asked, impatient.
“I’ll give it to one of my guys and see if they can get any information out of this… But with this little I’m afraid we won’t be able to do much,” he declared.
“It’s fine…” Sawyer told him, feeling a bit hopeless.
They followed Jim through the office and up the stairs to the first floor. The space looked so out of one of those TV shows. Grey stoneware covering the floors, white walls with wood decoration in some areas, and white paneled ceilings where most of the installations were hidden.
When they reached their destination, Jim opened the door and invited them in. “Here. This is the analytics department, if there’s someone in town that can find something about who sent this message is one of these guys.”
“Captain Kook,” a man with dark hair and eyes greeted him.
“Hey, Gonzalez,” Jim shook his hand. “These are my friends, Sawyer and Liz.”
“Hi!” Lizbeth nodded her head.
“Nice to meet you,” Sawyer said as he shook his hand.
“Nice to meet you too. So, what can I do for you, Cap?” He asked.
“I need you to do me a favor. Someone texted her some creepy message, and I need you to locate the name of the user of that number.”
“Of course, right away.”
“Thank you,” Jim patted his shoulder.
“No problem, this is going to be easy.”
“I bet.” Jim chuckled. “He’s one of the best in the state, even the FBI tried to steal him away from us,” he told them as the guy moved to his desk.
“Wow!” Lizbeth exclaimed.
“Yeah… I still don’t know what he’s doing here. More money, better conditions… But eh, not complaining.”
“Or course,” Sawyer chuckled.
“Anyway, Gonzalez, I’m taking them to the cafeteria, give me a call whenever you’re done, okay?”
“Let’s go guys.”
They moved to the small kitchen area they had on that floor so they didn’t bother the people working there. Jim offered them a coffee and while they waited they made some small talk. That seemed to calm Lizbeth a little and, even though he was great at hiding his emotions, he was freaking out inside. What if something happened to her?
Twenty minutes later Jim’s phone ringing made him come back to the real world. “Kook.” He paused and listened. “Okay, on our way.” He hung up. “He’s done. Let’s see what he’s got.”
As they walked down the same plain and dimly lit corridor, Lizbeth grabbed Sawyer’s hand and squeezed it. That’s when he realized her poker face was as good as his. Her skin was cold and sweaty. He looked and smiled at her trying to reassure her. She just nodded.
“Okay, what do you have?” Jim asked the Cuban guy.
“Not much, honestly…” He apologetically said.
“What do you mean?” Jim pressed.
“I got the number, but it was a burner phone,” he explained as he gave him Lizbeth’s phone back. “I tried locating it, but it was already dead, most likely in a trash can near Fulton Hill...”
“That’s close to where we live,” Lizbeth mentioned.
“I was able to find where they bought it, but it was paid with cash, so there’s no way of tracking the person who bought it,” Gonzalez told them.
“Couldn’t you check the cameras at the shop or something?” Sawyer asked Jim.
“We’d need a warrant to do that… And with the little we have, no judge is gonna sign one, I’m sorry guys,” Jim confirmed.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t do more,” Gonzalez apologized.
“It’s okay, don’t worry,” Jim told him. “And thank you.”
“Yeah, thanks man,” Sawyer shook his hand.
After that, Jim accompanied them to the exit. His brows furrowed. “I’m really sorry this is all we could do,” he apologized. “I’m sure you’ll be fine. It’s probably nothing, stalkers tend to be more clingy and annoying… But still, with what you told me about that blue car and now this… You should stay with him for a while,” Jim suggested Lizbeth.
“Good. I fucking hate the rules when the evidence you have lead to a dead end like this… I wish I could do something else for you.”
“It’s fine, Jim,” Sawyer gave him a small smile. “You’ve done enough.” He knew he shouldn’t have to do that. Letting them in like visitors and using the police resources for personal reasons wasn’t ethical but he still did it.
“If anything else happens, or if you see anything suspicious, report it immediately. After a few threats, we can actually start working on it.”
“Will do. Thank you, man.” Sawyer hugged his friend. “We should meet to have a few beers or something soon,” Sawyer told him as they walked towards the car.
“Sure. You’re the ones with the weird schedule, so tell me when you’re free and I’m in,” Jim quipped, referring to him and Ryan.
“Great,” Sawyer chuckled.
“Take care, guys,” Jim said as he hugged Lizbeth.
Waving their hands at Jim, they made their way to the parking lot. Sawyer wanted to believe what his friend just said, but for some reason, he couldn’t shrug off the discomfort he was feeling.
“We should stop thinking about it,” Lizbeth said out of the blue.
“I can see you’re still thinking about all this…” She explained, looking at him from the other side of the car.
“It’s not that easy, you could be in danger and I can’t watch you twenty-four seven…” He noted before sitting on the driver’s seat.
“I know, but these kinds of things, thinking about all the possibilities we could face in the future is what causes anxiety in people, you know?” She looked at him, but he didn’t say anything. He knew she was right, but how was he supposed to stop worrying about it? “It was just a text and it could be from anyone, from one of that psycho’s fans or even from a student that failed the last exam.” She shrugged.
“Exactly. That’s the problem, it could be someone near you, and this time’s been a text, what if the next one is a physical attack?”
“I’m always surrounded by other professors and students while I’m at work, and we have neighbors here. It won’t be that easy, okay?” She grabbed his hand on the wheel and gave it a light squeeze.
“And from where did they get your number?”
“I don’t know…” She trailed off, letting him see she was still worried. “Let’s just drop it, okay? There’s not much we can do now… And I want to know about this surprise you told me earlier.” She smiled at him.
He softly chuckled and moved his head to the sides before turning the engine. “Fine.”
“So… Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise!” He insisted.
“Come on, Babe…” She said in a seductive voice.
“That’s not gonna work now,” he laughed.
“You’re so boring!”
“What the fuck? Why are you pouting!” He laughed harder as he drove.
“Is it working?”
“What if I tickle you? Oh, better. What if I give you a blowjob?” Her hand slid on his leg, almost touching his crotch.
Surprised, he turned his face to her, only to see her wiggling her eyebrows humorously. “What the fuck, woman? I’m driving.”
“I know, and I’m free.”
“You can do that tonight if you want, but right now I need to focus on the road or we’ll have an accident.” He chortled.
The trip to the house lasted barely fifteen minutes. As soon as she stepped out of the war her eyes went wide. “W— What is this?”
“A house?” He quipped as they got out of the car.
“So funny,” she narrowed her eyes at him. “I mean, what are we doing here?”
“Well… I had an appointment to check this house for the second time and I wanted to know your opinion about it.” He was feeling fucking nervous. Put yourself together man.
“Are you sure about this?”
“Yeah, of course! I mean… We’ve been together for barely two months, but I don’t have a doubt about us…” He cleared his throat. After all the years they were apart, being together again made him realize she was the one for him, she had always been. “Besides, we’ll move in together at some point, right?”
She circled her arms around his neck and kissed him. “I love that you think about us in the future,” she giggled.
“Why wouldn’t I? You’re my girl, right?” He kissed her nose, his arms wrapped around her waist.
“Hi!” The real estate agent greeted them. “Oh! I’m sorry!” She said. “I can come back in five.”
Sawyer chuckled. “It’s fine. Hello, Darlene!” He held his hand out to her.
“Thanks for coming.” She shook his hand and then Lizbeth’s. “I have another couple coming to check the house right across this one,” she commented, pointing to the other side of the road. “But since you already know the house, here you have the key. Just go ahead and take your time, I’ll meet you as soon as I can.”
“Great. Thanks,” Sawyer nodded as she waved her hand to them, already walking away. “Ready?”
“Yeah.” Lizbeth smiled, intertwining her fingers with his. The house was beautiful on the outside, painted in a light grey color with huge white windows. It had a garage for two cars and a small front porch with a swinging bench in it. “This is lovely,” she mumbled as they walked up the three steps of the entrance.
“I know, right?” He enthusiastically said. She simply nodded, giving him one of those gorgeous smiles of her.
As Sawyer opened the door, Lizbeth stopped breathing. “Buy this one!” She stated, making him laugh. “I mean, we’re at the door and it’s already amazing.”
“Then, you gotta check the kitchen. It’s the best part of the house.” He dragged her through the beautiful living room painted in a light grey color. They passed the white marble fireplace with custom made shelves framing it and through the dining area. It was an opened space with a white coffered ceiling that wrapped it all. It was unique and impressive. The middle and warm-toned oak wooden floors combining perfectly with everything.
“What do you think of this?” Sawyer asked her, excited. He loved cooking and having a nice and big kitchen was one of his dreams.
“Just… Wow!” She exclaimed.
The flooring continued to that area of the house, making it all look like a part of the same organism. There was a huge black island in the middle with a granite counter cascading down both sides. The cabinets on the wall were black as well. Perfectly straight, clean and modern lines that made a beautiful contrast with the white color of the counters and the brass handles. “You could do anything in here!” Lizbeth grinned.
“I know, right?” Sawyer was delighted with her reactions. He had dreamed for a long time with a house like that for the kids and himself, and now that she was also part of the equation he was even more excited.
After checking the dining room beside the kitchen, the living room, the two-piece restroom and a small enclosed porch in the back, they walked upstairs.
There were three rooms with huge built-in wardrobes in each one of them, but there was still enough space for a bed, a desk and a good area to play in.
They checked all the rooms and the bathroom, which was big enough with two sinks, an enormous shower, and a separate toilet. “They kids wouldn’t have a problem sharing this,” Lizbeth commented.
“Yeah, I know.” He chuckled. “Now I want you to check this,” he said as he opened the door to the master bedroom.
“Is this a bedroom?” Lizbeth asked, stunned.
“Yeah.” He smiled.
She couldn’t believe her eyes, he could tell. There was a vaulted ceiling that made it look huge and cozy at the same time. The light coming from the windows illuminated everything making it look dreamy.
“Oh my God! Is this a walk-in closet? You could rent it as a single room if you ever run out of money!” She squealed.
“You’re so exaggerated.” Sawyer chuckled. He wasn’t used to seeing her going all fangirl over anything and it was fun.
“I’m not!” She said as she walked out of it. “And this is the bathroom?”
Sawyer nodded. “You’re gonna love this.”
Great spa-like bathroom. Everything was white, except for the cabinet under the counter which had a warm honeyed wooden shade. There was everything one could need to relax and disconnect from the world. A large counter with two sinks, a separate toilet, a beautiful rainfall shower, and a bathtub right in front of the window. He could already picture Lizbeth taking a bath there with a glass of wine while looking at the forest behind the property.
“Sawyer, this is… This is amazing,” she gulped. “You and the kids would be so happy here.”
“I hope it’ll be us happily living here someday,” he said in a husky voice as he approached her. “Or anywhere else.” He brushed his lips to hers as he put a lock of her hair behind her ear.
“I love the sound of that.”