My fingernails are a wreck by the time Justin reaches the apartment and rings the doorbell. I run to it, pulling the door open and catching his expression shifting, his dark pupils dilating and mouth pressed so tight his lips disappear into a thin line.
“Nicky,” he says as I turn around to go back to my phone and the small note.
“He went out, Justin. He went out and left this. I don’t know how long it’s been, but he wouldn’t take so long to come back.”
Justin takes my cheeks between his hands and stares down at me. He takes a deep breath, forcing me to do the same, and then lets go of my face. My ex takes the note, his eyes scanning the small sentence and then traveling to the ceiling, annoyed.
“Your boyfriend is a moron,” he states, reading the small post-it. “I told him you couldn’t be alone, thinking he would understand that also applies to him.”
“We need to go search for him; we need-”
“Go dress,” he says, pointing at the door. “I’ll go downstairs, ask the security what time he left.”
“Can’t we go to the police?”
Justin sighs, starting to walk towards the door, ignoring my frantic heart and voice before replying. I know he is reasonable, but right now, I need assurance. I need to know where my boyfriend is. I need my questions answered.
“He isn’t missing for enough time for them to start searching.”
My ex walks out of the apartment without saying anything else, and I run to the bedroom. I throw some jeans. I don’t notice which ones and put on a training jacket — Alexander’s favorite.
His smell still lingers from when he wore it last night for just a while to grab food. It brings tears to my eyes as I start to think about where he can be. The slight musk forest scent that I grew familiar with and always makes me smile whenever I’m in his arms.
That always makes me feel safe and loved. Like nothing in the world can stop me from achieving what I want. Nothing in the world can stop the love I feel for him.
I love it, and right now, tears build up as my hope vanishes, and I fear that I won’t be in my safe place again. I won’t be in his arms.
But those thoughts can’t haunt me now.
Shoving that aside I close the jacket and head out the door to meet Justin. When I arrive at the lobby, he talks to two security guards, who bow as I approach. Justin writes in a small notebook, putting it away after, and when both men walk away, he turns to me.
“He left a little before midnight, and they say he walked towards the small bar at the end of the street.”
“Then let’s go there,” I reply, starting to walk outside only to be stopped by Justin’s hand that wraps around my wrist.
His eyes stare at the dark street then at me. My ex doesn’t speak right away, taking deep breaths before releasing my wrist and locking his eyes on mine.
“If you are doing this, I need you to behave. I need that the second I tell you to run, to get out of there for your safety, you listen to me.”
“Nicky, you’re the stubbornest woman I know,” he says, interrupting me. “She already took Alexander; I will not let her harm you. If for that, I have to do something that will make you stop talking to me, I will.”
Justin is serious about this. He won’t let her hurt me. I know that I also know he will do everything in his power to find Alexander. But, he recognizes that as I nod, I have no intention of obeying him. Not if that means that bitch will walk away with this. Not if Alexander is in danger, and the same applies to him.
He’s my ex; I will always have a soft spot for Justin. It’s not because I don’t love him anymore that I want a lunatic killing him.
Any other ex I wouldn’t mind, but he is cool.
We walk as fast as we can to the small bar. The lights are still on, but we notice the staff cleaning already. Two guys and a girl. Justin knocks on the door, he takes his badge out and puts it against the glass, and one of the guys rushes to let us inside.
“Officer, is everything ok?”
The man with plump lips stares at Justin as he walks inside, but when his gaze falls on me, his eyebrows raise the slightest, and he tilts his head. Crap, he knows me. I had dealt with this enough times to know when someone watched me on the website.
“Yes,” it’s all I say before glancing at Justin. “We are looking for A. Did you see him?”
If he knows me, he will know Alexander. The guy nods and my heart beats so fast against my chest and my pulse on my ears.
“He came inside, had a couple of drinks, and then went out again.”
“What time was this?” Justin asks, and I start to feel dizzy.
I’m not even breathing correctly. My hands clasp on the jacket’s long sleeves as the guy takes his phone out to check the time and then looks at us.
“Around half past midnight, max.”
That was more than three hours ago. I don’t stay inside, not able to listen to anything and needing air as my breathing gets stuck, and my head starts to spin. She took him.
That bitch took my man. I’m going to kill her.
The cold air from the night helps me breathe through my worried heartbeat. Sarah isn’t the type of psycho to do something on a wimp. She calculates everything, and what she did yesterday was already something unusual for her. She tried to kill me out of anger.
This, however, feels like her last chance, and I pray to whoever looks down on us for Alexander to be safe.
Justin comes out to check on me after a while; his hand rests on my back while he stares at the dark street. I can see our building from here; she had to be quick; she had to be mad as well. All this time, she was never violent towards him, so why now? Because he stayed with me?
Her impulsiveness worries me; if she does this, if she took him, I’m scared of what will happen when he denies her again. The thought makes me sick, but I hope that to buy time, Alexander tells her he will stay with her. He can promise her the world, even if he doesn’t believe in it.
As long as he is safe.
“Justin,” I call for him with an idea forming on my head. “We need to go ask her mom.”
“Nicky, this is crazy,” he complains, parking the car in front of the house.
“All best ideas are,” I say, opening the door. “We have no clue where she is; I need to know the places she used to go. Where she would feel safe if she took Alexander, they are there.”
“I agree,” he lets out, stepping out of the car and staring at the small house behind me. “But the sun is almost shining. Let me talk; we need her to collaborate, and I’m afraid you-”
My eyes are on his as I realize the tone I just used. I’m jumpy, nervous, and about to slap someone by not knowing where the fuck my boyfriend is. Justin sighs, walking around the car and to the front of the house. He glances over his shoulder as we stop at the door and says once again.
“Let me talk, please.”
I will be biting my tongue, but he can talk. If that means the older woman will tell me where her daughter is, they can talk alone. He knocks on the door and presses the doorbell anyway. It takes a few minutes until a light turns on inside the house, and a very sleepy, annoyed woman steps outside.
“What do you want?”
She sees me; first, her eyes glare in my direction before lifting to the man in front of me. He doesn’t move; instead, Justin takes his badge out and shows it to her. The woman doesn’t care; she was approached by the police before; this isn’t new. Well, at this hour, I bet it is, but she knows what her daughter is capable of, that I am sure.
“I need to ask you a few questions about your daughter Sarah,” Justin starts, his voice deepening. “You can either talk to us outside or let us enter.”
I can’t believe it worked. The woman lets go of an exhausted breath stepping to the side and Justin, and I pass by her towards the room right after the door. The living room is dark, not just because of the hour, but also because of the furniture. All in dark wood, it makes me think that if the rest of the house is like this, no wonder their temper is always gloomy.
People need light, bright colors to smile. I don’t say wearing them, but just seeing the colors helps. Opening some windows to see the sunlight is therapeutic.
“We need to know if Sarah has some second house,” Justin tries, not wasting time. “She is in danger, and we need to get in touch with her.”
The approach doesn’t seem to go along with the woman as she lets her eyes glare at my ex. He doesn’t say anything; I bet he doesn’t feel intimidated by her. Justin is doing his job; he is being assertive and trying to get to her.
“Why should I help you?” She says through gritted teeth. “You never helped me when I called about my husband. Or when I said that my daughter ran away.”
“No, you punk,” she shouts. “I won’t tell you where she is because I can’t give a damn about it. Sarah made it clear my little life isn’t for her.”
She turns around towards the door, and Justin sighs, glancing at me. They fight, he tries to reason with her saying everything he can by the book, so she cooperates, but she doesn’t. This is a woman who was left by her daughter as I was by the one I loved.
This is a woman who is hurt by life.
“Your daughter has the man I love with her,” I speak slowly, and Justin snaps his head towards me.
I know he is warning me to keep quiet, I told him I would, but he also knows I don’t do well with rules. I never did. Right now, if talking her through what’s going on helps, I do not care; she already said no, so why not give it a shot?
“She took him,” I say, lifting my chin to the woman. “She took someone whose life was a living hell because of her. She tried to kill me-”
“Nicky-” Justin warns, but I lift my hand.
“She did. Your daughter pushed me in front of a busy street, and I almost got hit by a car.”
The woman stares at me for a few seconds before I see a glimpse of tears appearing. She still loves her, despite everything Sarah is her daughter and will always be a part of her. However, I need to speak, to say what happened, and make her see that without her help, I will never find Alexander.
“I beg you,” I plead, placing my hands together. “If you know the place where she would hide, if you know where she truly lives, tell us.”
Her eyes go from me to Justin shaking with nerves as small tears start to roll down her cheek. It’s a hard life, the one she faced. Being put aside by someone you love, just because her expectations weren’t up to the ones she had.
She goes into the small table near the door, and I feel hope starting to spread all over me.
“Here,” she says, handing me a small piece of paper. “This is the last address I know of her.”