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The fields were green and lush, wild flowers waving in the soft breeze. Julie walked along, hands brushing over the tops, the soft petals tickling her palms. She could feel the flow of a dress around her legs as she walked. She felt happy. She felt safe. Closing her eyes, she raised her face to the warming sunlight, allowing it to reach inside and touch her deepest parts.
Sensing someone close, green eyes opened, and Julie looked around. Standing off in the distance, she saw a lone figure- a woman. She could not make out the face, nor any details of the dress she wore, but a slow smile spread across Julie's features. She's here to help me. The words echoed in her head, even as she began to walk toward the woman. Though still lost in distance, the blonde knew in her soul that the woman would not hurt her, that she was watching over her.
Remmy watched as Julie raised a hand in welcome and greeting. She smiled, raised her own hand.
Breathing hard, Remmy sat bolt upright in her bed, face pale and bangs glued to her forehead from sweat. She could feel her heart pounding, a quarter-sized pain dead center in her forehead. Closing her eyes, she brought her hand up to it, feeling the clamminess of her skin. Running a hand through her hair, pushing it back off her forehead, she stared out over her apartment.
"Holy shit," she breathed. Shoving the covers aside, she stood, stretching her back and arms before padding over to the kitchen area. She grabbed a bottle of cold water from the fridge, taking in mouthfuls at a time, quickly finishing the sixteen ounces of liquid. Crushing the flimsy plastic, she tossed it into the trashcan, watching as the sun slowly peaked over the rooftops.
She was due at the police station in a few hours. What was she supposed to tell them? What good was she to Julie Wilson when she couldn't tell them a damn thing? She had no idea where the woman was. No idea who had taken her. All she got were torturous visions. Visions. Remmy couldn't help but be bitter about them. What was the point of them? They'd never done her a damn bit of good but turn her into even more of a freak in society's eyes.
Then she thought of the dream. It had been so real, so vivid. She knew that had been Julie Wilson she'd been watching. She had felt the woman's fear, had felt her relief when she realized she wasn't alone in that field. She had felt her.
"Damn it all," she growled with a heavy sigh.
Julie gasped softly as she woke, trying to bring a hand to her pounding heart, but realized that she couldn't move it. Contorting as much as she could, she saw that it was handcuffed to the headboard. That's right. How could I forget that? Lying still so as not to awaken the monster sleeping beside her, she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, praying that the sense of peace and safety she had in the dream would come back to her. Sadly, it eluded her at every turn. She was left with the sick feeling in her gut and the stinging pain between her legs.
She had finally been allowed to go to sleep at close to two in the morning, the man collapsing to the bed, exhausted after their extreme sessions of…. Julie squeezed her eyes shut again. She couldn't even bring herself to give a name to what she'd been forced to experience. To her horror, hot tears leaked from her eyes.
Julie gasped, startled as a large hand suddenly covered her bared left breast. She didn't dare look as the mattress shifted beneath her. Her bedmate was awake.
"You're up early," he murmured against the skin of her neck. Julie squeezed her eyes shut, trying not to be utterly revolted by his touch- five-o'clock shadow scratching against her tender flesh.
"I need to go the bathroom," she whispered, barely able to hear her own voice.
Sergio lifted himself to an elbow, looking down at the beauty in his bed. Her eyes were closed, a wrinkle formed between her brows. When he didn't speak, she finally looked at him, pleading in her eyes. He finally nodded, scooting off the bed and walking naked across the room. He dug the key out from underneath his underwear, sure to cover what he was doing with his body from possibly prying eyes.
Crawling on the bed, he straddled her body, reaching above her to unlock her restraints. Couldn't risk losing her. One wrist free, Sergio took her hand in his, kissing the palm before resting the hand on the blonde's chest. He quickly turned to the other hand, releasing it.
Julie sighed in relief, her hands and arms tingling horribly from being in the same position for so many hours. She brought both arms up to cover her breasts, one moment of modesty.
"Go," the man said, giving her permission.
Julie winced as she stood from the bed, wanting so badly to soak in a hot tub of water to soothe her abused sex, but knew that wasn't an option. She made slow progress to the bathroom, shocked that he wasn't following. Sitting on the toilet, she held her breath, desperately wanting to hold back, as she knew it was going to burn. Need overtook pain, and Julie whimpered softly as her body relieved itself, trying to ignore the pain. She couldn't help but wonder if she'd been torn.
As she sat on the toilet, she looked around the cramped bathroom, noting the window just to her right. She glanced toward the doorway of the bathroom, not seeing him anywhere, nor could she hear him. Turning back to the window, she studied the latch, then raised up to her tip-toes, trying to see through the frosted glass. It looked as though the window would lead to the side of the back of the house. She couldn't see details, but she could make out the stripped colors of what looked to be an umbrella with a patio set.
Julie cried out as her head was yanked back by her hair, then her forehead was slammed into the window, knocking the daylights out of her, and causing her to see stars.
"I said you could take a piss, not get stupid," the man hissed in her ear, just before her forehead was slammed again. Julie groaned just before all went black.
Remmy strolled into the police station, right on time. She was ushered back to where the detective's desks were, as Det. Wong hadn't come in yet, and Det. Cowan was on a call. The brunette wandered over to a case on the wall where various medals and trophies were locked up. It looked like softball trophies.
"Won the league last year," Grace Cowan said from behind her. Remmy glanced at the detective from over her shoulder, nodding acknowledgement of the factoid. "Glad you could come. Come with me."
Remmy followed the dark woman through the office space, into an interview room, much like the one she'd been in with Brian Wong. No need to explore this time, she flopped into the chair across from Grace, who sat, tapping the tabletop with her fingers, and glancing at her watch.
"So, what exactly are we waiting for?" Remmy asked.
"Not a what, but a who. My partner, Brian Wong will be here any minute, along with Julie's brother, Matt Wilson. He wants to meet you."
Dark brows drew over narrowed blue eyes. "Why?"
"He has some questions for you," Grace said simply. She was interrupted from explaining further when the door opened, and Brian Wong appeared, carrying a bag from a Sonic restaurant, but first he allowed a good looking guy to enter, his sandy-colored hair falling into his eyes. Remmy would've known immediately who he was, even if she had happened upon him on the street. She was suddenly filled with a sense of peace, of pure joy, and knew it was coming from Julie, her energy. For a moment she worried that perhaps Julie had been killed, and was in the room with them right then. After a moment, allowing her senses to stream out, searching with finger-like radar, she felt her in the form of a sudden and massive headache, seeming to extend all across her forehead.
Shaking off the ill-effects, Remmy concentrated on the group that was making the small room feel downright claustrophobic.
"Well, I guess we're all here," Detective Wong said, setting his bag down on the table and slowly pulling out his breakfast, caring little about the three pairs of eyes that watched him. He set his coffee and breakfast sandwich off to the side, pouring the container of tator tots on a napkin.
Remmy was amused by the daggers Grace was sending his way. "That we are, Colombo." She ignored the glare she got from him. "Why, exactly, are we all here?"
"Brian? How about you do the honors?" Grace said, turning hard eyes to her partner. He refused to look at her, instead taking his time fixing his coffee- three sugars and a touch of honey.
"That's disgusting," Matt commented, watching the Asian man.
"Don't knock it," Brian said, still not looking at one of them. Finally he sighed and looked across the table at Remmy. "We need help in this investigation, and we'd like to ask you some questions. About your… visions."
Remmy kept his gaze, not wavering as she reached across the table and snatched a tator tot. Popping it into her mouth, she sighed as she chewed, then spoke. "Okay. I'll help you."
Grace sat in the recliner where she'd been planted all night, once again looking over the notes she'd taken that day. She closed her eyes in pleasure as her husband leaned down, giving her a tender kiss on the cheek.
"Don't stay up too late," he warned, headed off to bed.
The detective turned her attention back to the yellow legal pad, flipping back a couple pages and re-reading what she'd already gone over:
Another person there-
Chained to the wall-
Cold, gray area, cement-like-
Suspects sexual violation-
Does not know offender-
Grace came back to the first point of more than one person with Julie. She tapped her pen against the pad, brows drawn in thought. What does that mean? Is the other person alive or dead? Male or female? Remmy felt it was another woman, but wasn't sure.
Grace sighed in frustration. "Where are you, Julie?"
Matt was nervous, sitting across the table from the very strange young woman he'd met earlier that morning at the police station. The two of them, and the two detectives, had sat in that little room for more than four hours, Remmy grilled by Grace and Brian. He could tell that the man was still unsure, and not entirely taken by Remmy's information, but the woman detective seemed to buy the girl's story hook, line and sinker. Matt wasn't sure, so he had invited Remmy to have coffee with him. She agreed to meet him after she got off work.
He sat at a back table, heels of his shoes hooked onto the bottom rung of the tall stools, tall enough to reach the bistro table. A young, redheaded man stepped up to the table.
"Can I get you a refill, sir?" he asked Matt, nodding at the near-empty mug sitting on the table.
"That'd be great, thanks." Matt smiled his thanks.
"Carmel macchiato, right?"
Again Matt smiled. The waiter grabbed the mug and hurried off to do his bidding. The bells chimed above the door, and Matt was glad, though nervous, to see Remmy step through. She looked around the coffee shop until she saw him waving at her. Smiling in acknowledgement, Remmy headed over to Matt's table, climbing up onto the high seat.
"Hey," Remmy said, allowing her light jacket to slide down her arms. It was starting to get chilly out after dark. "Sorry I'm late. My relief was late."
"Hi. No worries." Matt smiled, waving the redheaded waiter over. The boy held up his mug in recognition, but then his gaze fell on Matt's companion. Matt was amused as the boy seemed to trip over himself to get to their table.
"Hi, Remmy," he smiled, trying to lean his hand on the table, but it was wobbly, nearly knocking the enamored young man to the floor. He managed to catch himself, but not before his face matched his hair.
Remmy tried to hide her smile, clearing her throat instead. "Hi, Roman. How are you?"
"I'm great!" He turned to Matt, setting the steaming coffee in front of him. Turning back to the brunette, his smile returned full force. "Can I get you something?"
"Just water, Roman, thanks." She gave him a polite smile. The boy scampered off, leaving Remmy and Matt alone.
"I think that kid has a crush on you," Matt says, fully amused.
The brunette rolled her eyes with a nod. "I know. He's a nice guy, but damn."
Though amused, Matt wanted to get back to the reason they were meeting. Remmy recognized the change in the man's countenance immediately. Taking a careful sip of his drink, Matt wrapped his hands around the large mug. "You never knew my sister, huh?"
Remmy shook her head, not surprised by the question, and certainly not the topic. "No. I just met her the one time, when she was kind enough to give me a ride into town." She waited, sitting back while Roman set a large glass of ice water before her, a lemon slice anchored on the rim. "Thanks, Roman." The boy hung around, bouncing from foot to foot.
"Uh, Remmy?" he said, excitement and nerves making his voice slightly breathy.
"We kinda got interrupted when I came into the store the other day." He glanced over at Matt. He was going to tell this older guy to back off!
Remmy searched her mind, then nodded. Right, Detective Cowan had come in and saved the day. "Right. I remember."
"Yeah, so I was just wondering if maybe you'd like to go to the movies. With me."
Remmy groaned inwardly, but smiled up at the anxious waiter. "Sure, Roman. We can go as new friends, okay?" she said, putting slight emphasis on the word friends.
"Friends. Right, yeah, okay." He grinned, nodding excitedly. He could work with friends. He'd make her fall in love with his wit and nice car. Finally getting the answer he wanted- kind of- Roman headed off back to work.
"Anyway," Remmy said, slightly annoyed at the bold move of the kid, she turned her attention back to Julie Wilson's brother. "Just the one time."
Matt studied his mug, running a thick finger around the rim. He was obviously troubled by something. "I don't mean to be rude, Remmy, I think you're a nice girl, but I'm sorry, I just don't believe Julie would have given you a ride." He looked up at her, green eyes cloudy with various emotions. Remmy couldn't quite dissect what they were. "It's just not like her."
"well, Matt, if she didn't give me a ride, which she did, how do you surmise I know what I know?" Remmy's voice was kind and soft. She knew all this was crazy, hell, she thought it was crazy.
"I don't know. What's to say anything you've said is even true? You said they're visions, right? At Remmy's nod, he continued. "What proof, what concrete proof is there that they're real?"
Remmy shrugged, sipping from her water. "Well, I guess the day Julie comes home and tells her story, we'll know."
Matt studied her, amazed at just how beautiful the girl's eyes were. He hadn't noticed that at the police station. "You think she's alive?" He couldn't keep the hope out of his voice. Yes, he thought the whole thing was far too hocus pocus for him, but for some very strange reason, he felt a sense of peace around Remmy, like he could feel his sister, somehow. If he believed in this stuff, and if he were willing to go there, he'd almost swear Julie's spirit was with the girl sitting across from him.
"Why don't you tell me about her?" Remmy suggested, reaching across the table and gently touching Matt's hand. She could see the war within him, as well as the pain.
Matt glared up at her. "Who's to say you won't use what I tell you-"
"Matt," Remmy said, her voice soft, but understanding. "Just talk to me. As a human being."
Matt nodded, looking into his cup. The time since Julie had gone missing had been the most painful of his life. Even losing both his parents couldn't compare to losing his baby sister. "My son is struggling with this every day," he said, almost too soft for Remmy to hear. He smiled sadly. "See, we lost his mom when he was just a little guy, so Julie kind of stepped in, you know?" his tortured eyes raised, meeting Remmy's unflinching gaze. If she knew something, or were responsible for this, could she truly look me in the eye like that? No remorse? No guilt? Just look me in the eye like nothing?
"I feel that your sister is a really great lady. I mean, hey, she stopped and gave me a ride and I didn't even have my thumb out there anymore. Shit, I'd been walking for half the day, and no one, I mean no one would stop. Then poof! There she was." Remmy's grin was blinding.
"She was always so giving that way. Always thinking of others first. You know, she was going to take my son for the week. Man, they loved each other. Skylar looks up to her like you can't believe. Dad? Dad, who?" They both laughed at that, Remmy charmed.
"Don't talk about her in the past tense, Matt." As she studied his eyes, so much like his sister's, she felt a surge go through her, a determination like she'd never felt before. "I will bring her home, back to you. I swear it."
Matt smiled, nice and big. For some reason, he believed her. He nodded, and in that moment, felt a connection to Julie that was stronger than ever. "So," he said, clearing the emotion from his throat. "You wanted to know about my sister?"
Grace held the phone to her ear, listening as her heart pounded in her chest. The detective in Beaumont County prattled off the details of their missing case, which was two years cold:
Pamela Beecham, age 46, snatched from her driveway at nine-thirty at night, after she'd come home from having drinks with a male friend. Just prior to, Pamela had filed charges against her second husband, claiming he had started stocking her again, as he'd done right after the divorce, eighteen months before. Pamela lived alone, her only child, a son, grown and going to college in another state.
Next, Grace spoke with Detective Ron Piltzer of Daycum County, about a case that was nearly eight months old: Roxie Carmichael, 41, married for more than twenty years with three children. A stay-at-home mom, Roxie had disappeared during a drive home from a cousin's wedding, which she'd attended by herself, as her husband, Mack couldn't get the time off work, and her children were all in school. Roxie's minivan had been found at a truck stop thirteen miles from town.
There had been no trail left in either case, no evidence, just simply a matter of both women disappearing off the face of the earth. Unlike Beecham, Roxie had no enemies, no one at all for the police to look at. The ex-husband in Beecham's case had been grilled time and time again, but never enough evidence to link him. Just like Julie Wilson's case.
Grace sat back in her chair late in the day, all her phone calls made, the information she'd absorbed rushing around in her brain like a whirlwind. The three counties covered only a twenty-mile radius, not very much, and something that a single perp could easily cover. Grace sat at her desk, the pictures she'd downloaded from the system lying side by side, all three women. She eyed them with drawn brows, trying to make some sort of link, something, anything.
Julie was the youngest, at only 28 years old. She was a very attractive woman with short, blonde hair and a bright, friendly smile. From what they'd been told, Julie was widely liked by both faculty and students, and had many friends within the community of Woodland. She was active in the community, had worked with Habitat for Humanity two summers in a row, and was very close to her brother and nephew. Parents dead, the few living relatives were scattered across the country.
Pamela Beecham had been twice divorced, the second one quite messy, as the ex had been a short-haul trucker, and a vicious drunk with a mean temper. Pamela, a dental assistant for more than fifteen years, liked the drink herself, often times found in the local bar, or drinking heavily with friends. Volatile personality, though from friends and family, a kind, generous spirit. She was 46 years old, and was beginning to show her age from a difficult life with two difficult men. Hair, once dark brown, was now streaked with gray, and the lines around brown eyes gave away her age. Not unattractive, but certainly not in the spring time of life, either.
Grace's gaze moved on to Roxie Carmichael. The 41 year old housewife was cute with pixie-cut red hair and a cherubic face. Her body, though slightly heavy, was not unattractive. Her blue eyes twinkled, and according to her husband and children, she was a kind and loving woman, who belonged to the local church ladies' group. She selflessly took her two sons back and forth to soccer practice and her daughter to ballet.
The detective brought a hand up, a single finger tapping on her chin. She was trying to draw any sort of parallel to the three women, and their cases. Her gut was telling her that they were connected, even though the circumstances of their lives and disappearances were different: one had been taken from the parking lot of her job, the other from her own home, the third from a random truck stop, which the family insists she never would have stopped at.
"Talk to me, ladies," Grace murmured, eyeing all three women again. "Talk to me."
Remmy sat on her bed, where she'd been fore the better part of an hour, looking at the picture Matt Wilson had given her. It was a photo taken last year of Julie for her school picture, which was put into the school's year book. The five by seven gave a wonderful shot of the blonde teacher, her smiling face and twinkling green eyes captivating to Remmy.
She and Matt had sat and talked at the coffee house for more than three hours, and she found the man was sweet, and a brilliant mind. She wondered if Julie was like him. She knew the siblings were close, and part of her was envious of that, as she'd never had that. Especially since Monica had been gone for so many years. All the same, sitting and talking with Matt, earning about Julie, it had made the brunette want to help even more. As she stared at the photograph, looking into Julie's eyes, she felt the connection deepen.
Remmy decided to try something, lying back on the bed and stretching her body out, getting comfortable. She laid the picture, face-down, on her chest and began to breathe deeply, feeling her body and mind relax. Closing her eyes, she took in several deep, cleansing breaths, allowing her lungs to fully expand, her the full rise and fall of her chest slow and measured. A hand reached up, covering the picture as she felt it begin to slip.
As her mind began to explore the darkness behind her eyes, the picture almost seemed to take on a weight of its own, pressing into her, a comforting weight. Images began to flicker, like a light bulb, tapped into existence from impatient fingers.
A field. Flowers, purple against the green of their stems and the blue of the sky. Soft, flowing movement from an unseen breeze. Fresh air, cool wind.
Just ahead in the endless field stands a figure, her dress flowing around her legs, unseen by the height of the flowers. The figure, blonde hair golden against the bright colors of the day, stands with her back to Remmy, though she turns her head slightly, almost putting her in profile.
Remmy feels compelled to walk toward the figure, her bare feet crunching in the rich soil below them, though she barely notices, her focus solely on the figure. She knows it's Julie, can feel it. As she gets closer, she can see the design on Julie's dress, the way the material hugs her hips, upper back and shoulder bare.
Julie begins to turn, her eyes wide and frightened when she spies Remmy, not twenty feet behind her. The brunette raises her hands in supplication. "I won't hurt you," she said, voice soft, whispered on a dream. "I'm Remmy. I'm here to help you."
Julie turns to fully face Remmy now, fear still in her eyes, but there is also curiosity. "Remmy?" she whispered.
Remmy nodded, trying to give the blonde her best smile. "I'm Remmy."
Julie moaned softly, sleep beginning to fade as the ache in her forehead drew her brows together. She could feel the cement against her buttocks and upper shoulders again, her body sore screaming to be able to move. Dark blonde brows draw even more, something echoing throughout her mind, bouncing unbidden into her thoughts.
Green eyes open. "Remmy."
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