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Remmy was almost getting frantic. She lay on her bed, taking so many deep breaths that she was nearly hyperventilating. ‘Come on, Julie. Talk to me,” she whispered, reaching out with her mind. She could feel herself- her mind- moving through time and space, emotional fingers reaching out, trying to grasp onto something, anything. All she was coldness. Stillness. Blackness. She couldn’t tell if that was coming from Julie, or from her own fear. “Fuck!” she yelled, frustration after two hour of trying, getting to her.
Grace started, not sure what had woken her. Then she realized she was hearing Achey, Breaky Heart, and realized she was hearing her cell phone. Grabbing it off the nightstand, she flipped it open.
“Detective Cowan,” she sat up in bed, ignoring her husband’s grumbles behind her. She listened to the hysterical voice on the other end. “Wait, wait, Remmy, wait. What? Dead?”
Twenty minutes later Grace was pulling up to the store where Remmy worked, noting the young woman pacing back and forth in the parking lot, huddled in her oversized jacket, and sipping a cup of coffee. The dark woman pulled to a stop, barely out of her car before Remmy reached her. She was shocked by the ghostly pallor of Remmy’s normal radiant face, her eyes now vibrant blue from what seemed to be hours of crying, the intense rays from the rising sun shone in them, making them almost scary-looking.
“Hey,” the detective said softly, gently taking hold of Remmy’s shoulder. “What’s up?” She was truly concerned when the normally confident- albeit strange- girl fell apart. Grace took the steaming cup from Remmy’s trembling hand, placing it on the roof of her car, then turned back to the girl, enfolding her in a motherly embrace.
“I think she’s dead, Grace,” Remmy sobbed, holding onto the older woman for dear life. She had never felt such palpable grief or loss. After a moment she calmed herself, gently pulling away from Grace, feeling stupid. She gave the older woman a sheepish, yet watery, smile. “Sorry,” she whispered. Grace still held her by the arms.
“Are you okay?”
Remmy nodded, bringing a hand up to wipe at her face. “Yeah. Just hit me really hard.”
“Come on. Let’s go inside, out of the cold, and sit down.”
Remmy nodded and dumbly followed Grace inside the store, both sliding onto the hard, wooden booths, which sat on either side of the scarred, veneered square table. Remmy placed her coffee on the table, raising a brow of offer to Grace.
“I’ll get my own. You want a warm-up?” At Remmy’s nod, Grace snatched the cup, and quickly got them both taken care of. Once again sitting across from the younger woman, she waited expectantly to listen to what Remmy had to say.
Remmy swallowed hard, thinking of where to start. The fear and cold had not left her. In fact, if the situation hadn’t been so completely serious, she would have looked at her journey to the store as quite amusing. She had felt like she were stuck in some sort of Cloak & Dagger story, checking around every corner before turning it, walking dead center of the street so no one could jump out and surprise or grab her. Eventually she had made it, and had stayed within the lights of the store while waiting. Her relief at seeing Grace pull up was unparalleled.
“I had, what I thought, would be just a basic, garden variety vision, which came in the form of a dream,” she began, her voice low and calm. She managed to hide the tremble in it well. “I had connected with her, but then,” Remmy looked down at her shaking hands, which betrayed her calm. “Then it got dark.”
“Dark?” Grace asked, almost holding her breath. She had a feeling of impending doom.
Remmy nodded. She looked up at the detective with shining eyes. “Someone was killed tonight, Grace. I’m so afraid it was Julie.”
Grace felt her heart stop. Throughout this entire situation, setting her formal training and cop instincts aside for Remmy the psychic, she had had her doubts about the girl, and what she said. But, in that moment, looking into the most sincere gaze she’d ever encountered, she knew intuitively that Remmy was telling her the God’s truth. “What happened?”
Remmy shook her head, sipping nervously from her cup. “I’m not sure. I think she was strangled. But someone is definitely dead. With the brutality of it, I’d be looking for a body, Grace. This guy is capable of anything.”
“Where did it happen? What did he use?”
“I think he used his bare hands. As for where, I think it was in the basement thingy, where he’s keeping them.”
Grace sighed, frustration and sleep disturbed making her short of temper. “We need to know something specific, Remmy! I can’t go get this mother fucker if I don’t have something concrete! I can’t go to every damn house all over the state and knock, asking nicely if they happen to have a ‘basement thingy’ with possibly three women chained up in it.”
Remmy’s own eyes lit with a fire from within. “Yeah? Well, imagine from my point of view. I’m no damn Clarice Starling, either! I wanna catch this guy as bad as you do.”
Grace sighed, nodding in supplication. “I’m sorry, Remmy, you’re right.”
Julie had lain in numb silence for what felt like hours. Her brain had shut itself off, her emotions frozen in the image that kept replaying itself again and again before her mind’s eye. She kept breathing and occasionally blinking, purely out of her body’s natural instinct to do so. She couldn’t get the image of Roxie’s face out of her mind, eyes opened so wide as she struggled for breath, her face darkening as she slowly sank into unconsciousness, then finally death. She’d never forget the sight of her being murdered right before her eyes. She’d never be able to forget, or forgive.
The man whom had cuddled up against her had slept peacefully beside her, though she was grateful that he had turned away in his sleep, now on his side, back to her. She studied his back, noting the broadness and a few freckles that were sprinkled across his shoulders and upper back. His dark hair flew in various directions from going to bed with it wet. To be perfectly honest, she’d been stunned by his brutality and violence. He’d never shown that side of himself- even Pam was stunned and terrified.
Julie didn’t respond as the bed shifted, her body bounced slightly as he turned over to his other side, facing her. Though she could feel his eyes on her, she couldn’t bring herself to look at him, to meet the gaze of a demon. In all honesty, she wasn’t entirely sure what she’d see if she did, nor did she have the presence of mind at the moment to care.
Sergio studied the profile of the woman in his bed. She the most beautiful of his prizes- her delicate features, wonderful body and vibrant, green eyes. He wished she’d look at him with those eyes. Since she would not, he would make it so, as he was the master, the man of the house. With two fingers on the woman’s jaw, he turned her head so she was looking at him. Yes, the vibrant color was there, but she was not.
He sighed, releasing her face, which turned to once again studied the ceiling. He moved over, resuming his position from when they’d gone to sleep. He could smell her skin, which in all honesty, wasn’t pleasant. She needed a shower. But, for the moment, he just wanted to lie there, indulge in the feel of her skin, in the heat of another presence.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” he said, his voice barely audible.
Julie was surprised to hear the deep rumble of his voice. She said nothing, just listened, not really wanting to hear what he had to say.
“I’m not dangerous.” Sergio lifted his head, looking down into the blonde’s face. “What’s your name?”
Julie swallowed, closing her eyes for a moment before whispering, “Julie.”
“Julie.” Sergio tasted the name on his tongue, deciding he liked it. “Julie,” he said again, just before replacing his head. “I like that name. It sounds very…” he struggled for the word, “innocent.” He smiled, liking that image. “Like a schoolgirl.” He brought up a hand, slowly pushing down the sheet that still covered Julie’s naked breasts. Once they were revealed to his eyes, he smiled, releasing a soft sigh. The same fingers he’d used mere hours before to end one life, traced delicate patterns around the rounded underside of Julie’s right breast. He loved breasts, loved how women had them and men didn’t. So beautiful. So mysterious. Much like a woman’s heart.
Julie squeezed her eyes shut again, a feeling of cold dread entering her heart, as well as the trickle of fear that walked down her spine. She felt like she was in bed with a loaded gun, a mad man’s finger on the trigger. Just as quickly as Sergio’s touch found her skin, it was gone. She was relieved when her bonds were undone, and she was pulled up to a sitting position. It took all her energy just to hold her head up. She was exhausted, half-starved, and desperately needed some water.
“I’ve got’cha,” Sergio said softly, helping Julie to her feet. She had no choice but to lean against him. Slowly, they headed to the bathroom, where Julie was immediately set on the toilet. She had little in her, so had little peeing to do, though, to her disgust, dismay, and somewhat relief, she did feel a couple blood clots plop into the water below. Sergio never left her side, patiently waiting for her to finish, arms crossed over his bare chest, shoulder leaning against the bathroom doorway. Julie didn’t look up at him, instead studying her own bare feet, noting the dark bruises around her ankles from the constant shackles placed around them.
When she was finished, she was humiliated as the man wiped her clean, then flushed the toilet. She was led to the tub, the water turned on and adjusted. To her horror, Sergio stepped in with her. She started as he rested large hands on her shoulders. He reached around her, which put his body against hers, to grab the shampoo from the shower caddy. She endured him washing her hair. She dreaded the moment when he’d decide to wash her body, which wasn’t far in coming.
Sergio enjoyed the feel of Julie’s flesh beneath his fingers, his tender washing strokes often turning into caresses. He liked this woman, her beauty, her silence. Looking at her body, he became excited by the firm muscle underneath the soft skin. He wanted her.
Remmy was exhausted, but walked through the stacks of the Woodland library, anyway. She already had a stack of books on the table she’d claimed for herself, having turning in her old stack. Deciding that the Spiritual section wasn’t going to do her any good, she moved on, finding herself in the History section, a passion of hers since she was a child.
The brunette had herself seated and surrounded by books, cheek resting in her palm as she read about the fall of the Ottoman Empire. A soft whisper. Her brows drew, raising her gaze from the words on the page to scan the tables around her. She saw a small group of school-aged girls dutifully doing homework, but it didn’t look like any of them had said anything. Turning her attention back to her book, Remmy cleared her throat and continued to read.
Remmy shoved her chair back, hopping up and looking around her. A few nearby patrons glanced at her with mild curiosity before returning their attention to whatever they had been doing. Remmy’s heart was pounding, fear and confusion painting a thin glaze of sweat on her brow.
Realizing it was coming from within her own mind, Remmy sat heavily in her chair, heart racing. Noting that she was being stared at from the girls two tables away, she quickly gathered up her books into a neat stack, and hurried to a study room, closing the door behind her. Leaning against the wall, she closed her eyes, a sharp pain beginning to flair up dead center of her forehead.
White tile, the individual squares blurring together, the reflected light from a light source a splotch of brilliant white. Bottles of some sort… a shower head. Hundreds of tiny diamonds fall from it, warm on chilled skin.
Remmy almost couldn’t breathe. She didn’t want to get her hopes up, but she quickly shoved her books aside, making room for herself on the small, sturdy table. Feet resting on the chair seat below, she closed her eyes, trying to relax herself.
Fear. Uncomfortable. Cold tile on hot palms. Hot pain. A word. The letter ‘R’. Can’t say the word. Forty-one stones.
Julie gasped, forced to bend over as she stopped her head from slamming into the wall by bracing with her hands on the wall. She squeezed her eyes shut- no lube, and she wasn’t relaxed. The pain was hot and searing, and beyond uncomfortable.
Closing her eyes, she tried to release her mind, to send it flying off somewhere…
Remmy squirmed on the table, her legs clamping together, the need to scoot up into a fetal position so tempting. She focused, and brought the field into sight, the sky the bluest blue she’d ever seen. The water from last time, calm and refreshing. All that was missing was Julie.
As Julie braced herself from the increasing thrusts behind her, she felt herself being beckoned away, her mind flying freely, wandering above tree tops and the roofs of neighborhood houses. She saw the gently falling snow that frosted the landscape. She flew through the sweet smell of burning logs, the smoke couched out from the brick chimneys.
Am I dying?
Finally the houses gave way to an open field, the snowy winter turning magically into spring.
Remmy walked to the water’s edge, amazed to feel the cool breeze come off the water, chilling her skin. She was alone, but desperately hoped Julie would hear her pleas, and come to her.
Suddenly, the pain and discomfort began to recede, leaving only a sense of peace, and a sort of happiness that was right on the tip of her brain- especially as the field began to come into focus.
Julie felt her feet hit the ground, and suddenly she was on solid ground. She could smell the flowers and the lush trees that surrounded the lake, where she could see the silhouette of a woman standing, waiting. She smiled, knowing instinctively it was her savior.
Remmy felt a presence behind her, and with baited breath, turned. Julie stood not five feet away.
Julie felt herself become enveloped in a strong, reassuring embrace. She rested her cheek against a soft shoulder, her body relaxing, not feeling, not thinking. The wonderful touch on her back stroked slow circles, a hand resting on the back of her head, holding her in place with a gentle strength. She felt herself melting deeper into the hug, not wanting to let go.
“This, too shall pass,” floated to her on the breeze. “You’re alive…”
Julie nodded, still lost in the embrace. “I’m alive.”
Remmy gasped in surprise as she was suddenly thrust back into reality. She looked around, seeing the confines of the small study room in the library. The small window over the desk showed that the sun had fallen. Remmy was startled again at the insistent knocking on the closed door.
“Excuse me? Is someone in there?”
Remmy climbed down from the table, her head pounding in that central spot of her forehead, but she didn’t care.
“She’s alive,” she whispered, grabbing the doorknob of the study room and yanking the door open. The woman on the other side was startled at Remmy’s sudden appearance. “She’s alive!” the brunette gushed, grabbing the unsuspecting woman and hugging her, jumping them both up and down in a quick circle. “She’s alive!”
Remmy left the poor librarian staring after her as the brunette went running and laughing through library, bursting out into the cold night, the snow falling upon her heated skin. She breathed it in, eyes closing in appreciation. “Julie’s alive.” Her adrenaline surged again at the realization, and she took off, running into the night, a victorious hoot echoing in the stillness.
“Open up, little one.”
Julie blinked several times, disoriented and confused. She was shocked to find herself on his bed, her right wrist cuffed to the drawer of the side table, her back against stacked pillows. Her left hand was free, sitting in her naked lap. Looking up, she saw that her capturer sat cross-legged next to her, a large dinner plate resting on his open palm. A cheese and ham omelet took up a good portion of the space, as well as a couple sausage links. Meeting his dark eyes, she saw the expectant expression on his face.
Without word or thought, Julie opened her mouth, allowing the forkful of food to be inserted. Mindlessly she chewed, grateful for it, even if it was another damn omelet. She could barely taste the flavors of the sharp cheddar mixed with ham and egg. Any feeling and joy she had left her the moment she came back to herself. She was shocked to see that it was dark beyond the closed curtains, the overhead bedroom light on. She wanted to ask him how long he’d been at it, but dare not. All that she knew was that she had an extremely sore backside.
Sergio took pleasure in feeding his prize, Julie. She accepted the food without question or fuss. He had enjoyed their encounter immensely, and from the soft smile that had adorned her lips, he thought that perhaps she had, too. He wanted to get her fed, then he had some plans for their night. He wanted to enjoy it. He watched as Julie accepted another bite, this time of sausage. He noted the way her teeth drug the meat from the tines of the fork, pink tongue coming into play to pull it into the hot, wet depths of her mouth. He’d need a moment to recover from their first session, but he knew it wouldn’t take long.
Remmy wasn’t sure which movie she was caught in: It’s A Wonderful Life, or Singin’ In the Rain, as she hurried down the flurry-covered streets, yelping and laughing her way toward the police station. Once she got there, she was thrilled to recognize Grace’s ugly, cop sedan in the parking lot.
The desk sergeant, whom Remmy read on her nametag was Renee O’Reilly, looked up expectantly at her as the brunette breezed inside the lobby.
“Can I speak to Detective Cowan, please?”
“In reference to what?”
“To the Julie Wilson case.”
The woman merely nodded then picked up the phone. “Grace, someone’s here about the Wilson case.” Remmy watched as the officer nodded into the phone, then set it into its cradle. “She’ll be out in a minute.”
“Thanks,” Remmy said, giving the sergeant her best smile. She puttered around the lobby, absently reading public notices that had been put up on a cork bulletin board. After fifteen minutes of cooling her heels, she felt a presence behind her. Remmy turned to see a very bedraggled Grace. The woman looked dead on her feet. Dark brows drew. “Hey, you not get any doughnuts today, or what?”
Grace smiled, mildly amused. “What can I do for you, Remmy?” she asked, finding her way to one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs and dropping her body into it.
Remmy’s smile was nearly blinding as she recalled her reason for being at the police station in the first place. “She’s alive, Grace.”
Grace stared at the girl for a moment. “How do you know?”
“She made contact with me this afternoon. She’s alive! Told me so, herself!” Remmy’s disappointment was obvious at the older woman’s lack of enthusiasm to the news. “What is it?”
“Another woman has come up missing. In Burrow Key.” Grace sighed, resting her arm on the back of the chair next to hers. “I was there all day today.”
“Where’s Burrow Key?” Remmy plopped down in the chair.
Grace shrugged, “Maybe twenty minutes from here.”
“And you think they’re related?”
“I do.” Grace rested her head back against the wall behind her. “I don’t believe in coincidences, Remmy.”
Remmy thought about that for a moment, then spoke. “Do you have a picture of the victim? Maybe I can help.”
“Not yet. The police in that town are working with us pretty closely, so as soon as I do, I’ll get with you, okay?” Grace slapped her hands on her thighs, ready to push up and head back to her desk. Though it was after nine p.m., she knew she still had lots of work to do. Her husband would be sleeping alone again.
“She told me something, and I can’t really work it out quite yet,” Remmy said, staring at her hands in lap, looking through them as she tried to remember.
“Something to do with…” she thought, squeezing her eyes shut. Suddenly she saw it all again. “The letter ‘R’. I don’t know, but that letter seemed to really upset her. Also something about forty-one… something. Shit, I can’t remember!” She sighed, frustrated and looked at the dark woman. “I’m sorry. That’s all I can remember. I just hope it helps do… something.”
Grace smiled, filing the information away in her memory. She patted the young woman’s thigh affectionately. “You’re a good egg, Remmy.” Groaning as she got to her feet, she stretched her arms high over her head. “Talk to you later.”
Remmy watched her head back through the Personnel Only door.
Sergio climbed out of his van as the garage door buzzed shut behind him. He walked around to the side door, sliding it open, then carefully removing the large drum, and sliding it across the cement floor until it was against the wall. He walked past his work bench. He noted the large container of liquid lye, making a mental note to destroy it, too, just as he had the empty containers earlier that day. But for now, he was tired and wanted to get to bed. Work came awfully early in the morning after such a hectic weekend.
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