I called Xavier as soon as the horrible sight came into my view but the moment he answered his phone, I hesitated. What if whoever did this is still here?
I can’t risk Xavier’s safety so I continue on with whatever comes to mind. I did tell him I’ll call after a quick shower so this shouldn’t come off as unusual.
My voice gets stuck in my throat when I hear him ask me what’s wrong. I want to spill everything to him. Starting this stupid investigation seems like a mistake but at the same time, I can’t find myself willing to let go.
Whoever did this—it means I’m going in the right direction if they went through the trouble of breaking into my house and threatening me.
I think about calling Lily but we haven’t talked in a couple of days.
It’s not something unusual. She has a lot of responsibilities regarding her family with her single mother. While she works day in and day out, she doesn’t take time for herself.
Once in a while, she just cuts off everything around her and a few days later, she’s full of energy. I don’t know if it’s the most healthy of detoxing but I know that pestering her to open up about her problems won’t really help so I let her be while checking up with regular texts.
I hear the front door open, cutting off my train of thoughts as my heart leaps inside my chest.
What if it’s the intruder? My gaze searches around me frantically, trying to find something to protect myself with. At last, I settle with the ceramic vase beside my bed and carry it with me downstairs while tiptoeing my way down.
I hear them move towards the kitchen and I follow as silently as I can, sweat beads running down the side of my face, chest thumping wildly.
“Oh, shit! Sorry! I’m so sorry, I thought it was someone else.”
My aunt stands there, hand clutching her chest, eyes wide with terror at the vase in my hand which I was ready to throw.
“What? Why would anyone else be here?”
I lower my hand, breathing heavily, trying to calm myself down as I stare at the face of my aunt. She looks so much like my mother, it makes me want to break down for a second.
“Someone was here. They broke in.” The words are out of my mouth before I can even think about it.
“What? How? Why didn’t you tell me before?” She comes forward, cupping my face in her dainty hands, checking for injuries. “Are you okay?”
“Are you going to call the police?”
“I don’t think we should do that.” Her shoulder tenses. “Yet.” She adds almost like an afterthought. “Tell me everything.”
And I do. I tell her all about the possible wrongful arrest of David and about how I got to know through a source that Giovanni has transferred money indirectly to an account belonging to Pietro—the man who pulled the trigger that night.
The man who killed my parents.
While narrating everything, I leave out Jessica’s name. Remembering her reluctance to be a part of this, I don’t want to drag her in this mess.
Beth ends up on the couch, head in her hands, shoulders shaking silently.
“How could Giovanni do this to us? They welcomed him like family!” I watch as a single tear slips from her eye which she hastily wipes away. “He had the audacity to break in?”
“I don’t know if it was really him. He could have hired someone else.”
She shakes her head. “Let me see it.”
Hesitantly, I nod and follow her upstairs to my room. The moment she sets her eyes on the red paint still covering my mirror, a shuddering breath escapes past her lips.
“Oh, God!” She nearly loses her balance but I catch her before she can fall. “We have to inform the authorities and we need to make sure they’re not colluding with Giovanni because I know for a fact that he has friends on the inside. Otherwise, how do you explain the sudden discovery of newfound evidence pointing to an innocent man?”
An innocent man who took the fall. I can only guess the reason is he was threatened. Only Beth, Flynn, his mother, Xavier, and I met him that day.
Maybe Giovanni had already met him before we arrived?
I nod my head in agreement with everything Beth’s saying. “You have the evidence, right?”
“The ones Jessica send you. You said she followed the trail of the transaction and confirmed it was transferred to Pietro all those years ago.”
I did tell her that. Everything except...
I never mentioned Jessica’s name.
“How did you know Jessica told me that?”
“What are you talking about?” Her brows furrow in confusion, her hand around my arm tightening slightly. “You told me that just a while ago.”
“No. I never mentioned her name.”
“Of course you did.” Her grip tightens to the point of leaving bruises.
The fog suddenly lifts. That day, we talked to David in the interrogation room. Beth went before us. She’s the one who told me he wanted to see me.
She talked to him. Alone.
“You threatened David to lie?!” I snatch my arm away from her as if she burned me.
“What are you talking about?”
I don’t hear anything. I don’t want to. I can feel the blood pounding in my ears
The noises around me turn mute as my heart constricts which has me heaving while clutching my erratic chest.
“Beth, please tell me the truth.”
“Thea, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The mirror. I hastily take out my phone to look at the time.
“What are you doing? Who are you calling? Thea!” She snatches the phone away from my hand, her eyes frantic, almost crazed as her voice turns a higher pitch than her usually soothing tone.
“Did you do this? You were supposed to be home an hour ago. Did you do this?” I ask pointing to the dripping letters.
“Would you fucking stop it?!”
A brief moment of silence passes. Just as I’m about to speak again, the doorbell rings, pausing us in our tracks as I watch the color drain from her face.
“Who did you call? Did you ask anyone to come over? What did you fucking do now?!” Her fingers dig into my skin as clutches my arms tightly in her grip. Her change in demeanor honestly frightens me.
She looks nothing like the aunt I know. Instead, her eyes look bloodshot, hyper-aware of her surroundings, and paranoid to the bone.
“I-I don’t kn-know.” She lets my arms go the moment we hear the door open.
“Thea? The door was unlocked. I’m coming upstairs.”
Oh God, no!
Beth’s stance changes abruptly. The crazed look disappears as she appears to be in control of her emotions. I almost believe the past few minutes were just my imagination but I watch her as she gives me a triumphant sneer.
“Don’t speak a word to him. If you do, I’ll tell him the truth about how his mother died.” She says as she pulls out a sheet from my drawer and throws it over the mirror, hiding it.
“Oh, poor you. He didn’t tell you?”
I shake my head. “Pietro killed his mother in the car crash. You think he’ll want you after he knows that you’re related to the person who’s responsible for his mother’s death? It’ll break him and you will be responsible. So choose wisely, my dear.”
Before she leaves, she whispers in my ears, taunting me. “How long do you think it’ll take me to harm him as I did to your family?”
What do you think? Were you expecting that?