Disclaimer: Bad dream alert
After a short conversation on her cell phone, Trishia walked back into the living room and motioned Jody to follow her.
The smaller woman obediently stood up from her kneeling position next to Alice and sent Sam a questioning look, wordlessly asking her partner to keep an eye on the distressed teenager. Sam nodded and lovingly caressed Jody's cheek when she walked past her, towards the kitchen area.
Trishia was standing in front of the door, her hands stuffed into the pockets of her shorts and was staring at the peaceful scene the property provided. The quiet beauty helped her to somewhat organise her thoughts. When she heard a soft sound behind her, she looked around and smiled when she saw Jody sit down in one of the kitchen chairs.
"There's a psychiatrist on the way," Trishia explained. "It's not one who is associated with the police station, but..." she paused and shrugged her shoulders in a silent apology. "Lisa is good at what she does and she has a lot of experience with kids, especially...abused ones. Um...we...Lisa and I, we ...um...we have a long history together."
Jody nodded in understanding and her kind eyes took in the tall woman in front of her. Trishia looked tired and pale, with dark circles underneath her eyes. Her face reflected the responsibility she bore and Jody could almost feel the woman's anxiety.
"Come, sit down, Trish," she invited, gesturing at a chair. "You look dead on your feet."
The tall woman obliged and gratefully accepted another cup of coffee that Jody poured into her cup.
"What is going to happen now, Trish? They are not going to take Alice to some psych ward at the hospital, are they?"
"I don't know, Jody," Trishia sighed. "I feel like this is going way over my head. I have dealt with traumatized kids before, but not like this. Alice just scared the daylights out of me."
Trishia rubbed her tired eyes and for a moment allowed herself to feel the fatigue. Her body felt very heavy and the muscles in her legs still ached from climbing the hill. A headache had started and the dull, continuous throbbing behind her eyes prevented her from thinking clearly.
"Lisa is on her way up," Trishia continued. "She will assess the situation and give us some advice...or just tell us what to do," the policewoman wryly added.Ý "Like I said, she has a lot of experience in this field and I know she is not keen on sending people to the hospital, but you need to understand that Alice is in a bad place right now. The mentioning of Sydney or Perth must have triggered some kind of memory."
"I guess so," Jody softly admitted.
"Before Lisa arrives here, I need to know what happened yesterday, Jody. You and Alice talked, after she had that nightmare. The information could be important for the case and it's vital for Alice's well being."
"I know," Jody answered with a sigh. "Alright, this is what she told me..."
In her characteristically soft spoken way, Jody related the events of the previous evening. She clearly remembered every detail and made sure to tell Trishia each and every one of them. The policewoman listened intently and now and then she scribbled down some notes. She never once interrupted Jody, but let the woman continue her story.
The part of Alice's nightmare where the hands had tried to choke her and when the girl afterwards had realized that somebody really had tried to kill her, were difficult and a few times Jody stopped speaking to clear her throat, or swallow away a lump that made her voice sound hoarse.
Trishia's eyes were gentle and full of sympathy for the smaller woman. From experience she knew that listening to traumatic events from another person, could have a huge impact. Especially if it was someone you cared about.
"Do I understand correctly that, in her dreams anyway, there is a fire?" Trishia asked in a soft voice, after Jody had finished her story and had wiped away a tear that had slowly slid down her cheek.
"Yes. Alice told me she could feel the heat of the flames and smell the soot," Jody answered. She bit her lip and a deep frown creased her forehead.
"Trish, do you...think it's possible that," Jody swallowed hard. "This...if these images are no imagination, but real memories...do you think that..?"
"Alice knows the murderer of those girls on the beach?" Trishia finished Jody's sentence with a grim expression on her face. "And he might be after her, because she can identify him?"
Trishia's eyes locked with Jody's and the smaller woman could clearly see the silent answer.
"Oh, my God, Trishia, poor Alice," Jody whispered.
Hardly twenty minutes had passed since Trishia had called the psychiatrist, when a light blue Toyota Highlander appeared on the driveway, kicking up dust and gravel when it came to sudden stop.
"She has always been a lousy driver," Trishia explained with a hint of amusement in her voice, after which she opened the screened door and stepped out on the veranda to greet the psychiatrist.
Lucy, who had walked into the kitchen when she had heard the car pull up looked outside the window with a growing feeling of trepidation. Trishia had always been honest with her and she knew her tall lover and the psychiatrist had known each other for the better part of their lives. Their friendship as teenagers had developed into a more intimate one when they had reached adulthood and for more than six years they had lived together. Their break up had been consensual and they had tried to remain friends, much like Jody and Megan had been doing, although Trishia and Lisa did not see each other often.Ý In fact, this would be the first time Lucy would meet the psychiatrist.
Lucy knew that Trishia loved her and the relationship they shared was very important to the policewoman, but now a large part of Trishia's past was about to exit her car and walk into their lives and that knowledge filled her with a sense of insecurity.
Seeing a tall, beautiful, auburn haired woman get out of the car and warmly hug her girlfriend, did not help to ease her mind. The nasty tentacles of jealousy suddenly touched her heart and Lucy had to swallow hard when she witnessed the obvious affection Trishia and her ex-lover still shared.
Jody sensed her sister's distress and gave Lucy a quick, one armed hug.
"You should see the way Trishia looks at you, when she thinks nobody is looking, Luce. She worships the ground you walk on," Jody stated.
"She'd better," Lucy grumbled, which made Jody smile.
"Believe me, sis, she does," Jody assured her, before she opened the door to let in their guest.
Trishia and Lisa stepped inside and when Jody extended her hand to introduce herself to the psychiatrist, it was caught in a firm, but pleasant grip. A pair of intelligent grey eyes looked at her with genuine warmth and kindness and Jody could not help smiling.
"Lisa Bailey," the psychiatrist introduced herself.
"Jody McDonnell," Jody answered. "It's nice to meet you, Lisa and thanks for coming over so quickly."
A smile that put dimples in the taller woman's cheeks was her answer and Lisa's eyes travelled to Lucy, who was standing a few steps behind Jody, quietly observing the scene in front of her.
"You must be Lucy," Lisa said, stepping closer and extending her hand. "Trishia has told me about you and I have been looking forward to meeting you."
The room was small, nothing more like a closet really. An enclosure of sturdy walls that were closing in more and more after each breath she took. And it was dark. The inky blackness was draped around her like a suffocating haze, while the absolute silence relentlessly pounded in her ears. Each heartbeat emphasized the eerie stillness.
The intense fear had gripped her soul, like a cold hand, slowly but surely squeezing the life out of it. The air became stale and thick and she had to work hard to bring oxygen into her deprived lungs. Her eyes were wide with fear and she could feel the drops of perspiration slowly coat her clammy skin.
She wanted to lift up her arms and use the stiff fingers of her hands to feel around for something, anything that could help her to escape the entrapment, but she could not move. It was like the fear had paralysed her body, leaving her limp and helpless. Vulnerable to the predators in her mind, who were already lurking beneath the surface, while their sharp nails of terror painfully clawed at her heart. She could feel their shadowy presence steadily approaching and she wanted to scream out in pain and horror, but when she opened her mouth, not even a single sound escaped. The only thing that remained was the silence, which only allowed for the beating of her heart.
It had seemed a lost battle from the beginning and slowly but surely, thoughts of closing her eyes for the last time came into mind. How welcome the ceasing of the pain would be. It would take her to a state of peace and tranquillity, where shredded emotions and fragmented memories would be forgotten for eternity. Where horrendous images would no longer flash up in her mind like the lightning of an electrical storm.Ý
Her eyes widened when unexpectedly a soft, glowing light split the darkness and came into her line of sight. It was a soft yellow, with clear, blue sparks, like fragments of ice. The light quickly grew in size, until her whole prison was illuminated by its clarity and with growing trepidation she saw the outline of a woman. And when her eyes had adjusted to the brightness, she noticed a smaller form, holding the woman's hand, partly hidden behind her body, as if it was shy.
"Don't give up, my precious," a warm, familiar voice suddenly broke the silence, effectively silencing the drumming in her ears. "You are much needed and loved."
Her lips moved but no sound came forth, still she could hear her own voice echo in her ears.
"Yes, it's me, baby. My precious and courageous daughter. Go back, my child. Please, go back."
Tears were streaming down her face when she tried to reach out her hand and touch the vision in front her. But she could still not move.
"Mom!" she cried out again, her voice breaking. "Mom, take me with you! Please, take me with you."
"Your time is not yet come, my darling. You need to go back. You are much needed and loved."
A sob that seemed to come from the deepest part of her soul suddenly escaped and her body violently shook with silent crying.
"I miss you so much," she cried, while her lips still refused to move. "I feel so lost."
"I will always be with you. Go back, my precious... and live."
Gradually the light pulled back and again she tried to reach out, this time to stop the brightness from leaving her confined space. But she was powerless and could do nothing to stop the darkness from emerging again.
"Mom!" she desperately cried out again. "Mom! Don't leave me, please, don't leave me."
"Be strong," the feint echo of a voice resonated in her ears. "Have courage and live, my precious and never forget who you are, Victoria Alice ..." the last words were no more than a fading whisper.
"Nooooo!!" she cried out when the last rays of light disappeared, leaving her behind with an ache, so profound, that even breathing in was hurting her in a physical way.
Frantically her eyes searched her immediate surrounding and tantalizing slow, she noticed that her dark confinement had disappeared. The light had returned and with a look of wonder, she noticed a ray of sunlight peeking through a window.
Gradually she became aware of where she was and slowly she turned to the direction of a sound that suspiciously sounded like sniffing.
Blinking against the light, her eyes were caught by a pair of dark ones that were moist with unshed tears. The look of sheer happiness when their eyes met touched Alice deeply.
"My name is Victoria Alice Wilson," she whispered, blindly reaching out until her hand touched warm skin and her fingers wrapped around a strong hand.
With her free hand, Yarra wiped a tear from the corner of her eye and cast a look at the two women who had just entered the room.
Jody and Lisa had heard Alice's desperate cry and had come running into the room, finding Yarra close to Alice's side, softly whispering words of comfort. Then the blond teenager had regained consciousness and when her dazed blue eyes had slowly become more focussed, Jody had to wipe away her own tears that were steadily streaming down her cheeks.
"My name is Victoria Alice Wilson," Alice repeated with a look of quiet wonder, extending her free hand to Jody. "I remember, Jody, I remember my name."
"Oh, honey," Jody sobbed, grabbing the hand and kneeling down next to the girl.
The tears of the woman she had rapidly come to love did Alice in. She let out a shaky breath and finally the restrictive band around her emotions snapped. Her slender body shuddered and the almost animal howl which heralded her grief tore through the hearts of everybody who was present in the house. For the first time in years, Victoria Alice Wilson allowed herself the grief she had been pushing away for too long.
She could feel a pair of strong arms gathering her close and without being afraid of what other people might think, she buried her face against Jody's shoulder and cried, while her hand was still clutching on to Yarra's for dear life. The older girl did not dare to let go and had no desire to even do so. She just sat there in an uncomfortable position, sending a silent thanksgiving to the power that had created the universe, for not giving up on her new friend.
Lisa sank down in a chair and with a professional, clinical distance, but with keen interest observed the scene in front of her. She had been worried when Trishia had called her, not really knowing what she would expect upon arrival. But the sight of Alice, who had been strong enough to climb out of the pit a sudden, shocking memory had thrown her in, filled her with hope of promising possibilities.
It took a long time for Alice to finally stop crying and when she did, her eyes were red and puffy, her nose was completely stopped up and her throat felt raw and tender. But she had not felt so light in years. The grief was still present. It manifested itself as a dull, throbbing ache in the pit of her stomach, but the anxiety and tension that had held her in their clutches for such a long time, somehow seemed less heavy.
When she raised her head to look at Jody, she squinted against the light and quickly closed her eyes.
"Do you have a headache?" Jody gently asked, still rubbing the teenagers back.
Alice could only nod, but before she could even utter a word, a voice sounded from the kitchen area.
"I'll get some aspirin and a glass of water."
"Thanks, Fi," Jody called out, seeing the expression on Alice's face change to embarrassment. Nervously the girl cast down her eyes, while a faint blush colored her still pale features.
"Oh, God, I completely lost it," she breathed, only audible for Jody and Yarra.
"Seems like you were long over due," Jody softly remarked. "Don't worry about it..." and with a smile "Victoria Alice Wilson."
"We were so worried about you, Alice," Yarra explained, pleasantly surprised that Alice was still holding on to her hand. "I am glad you...woke up from that."
"Me too," Alice whispered, shooting Yarra a shy glance.
From the corner of her eye she noticed a third person in the room and with a mixture between a scowl and a frown, Alice cast Jody a questioning look.
"That is Lisa Bailey," Jody introduced the psychiatrist, who took her cue and gracefully rose from the chair. "She is here to talk to you."
"A shrink...what we discussed last night?" Alice asked, remembering the promise she had made Trishia to at least have one talk with a counsellor. "Is...is she a doctor?"
"As a matter of fact I am, Alice," Lisa answered with a pleasant smile. "But I am not all that hung up about titles, so I'd like you to call me Lisa."
"I am Alice Wilson," the teenager replied with a hint of pride in her voice.
"It's nice to meet you, Alice," Lisa answered, setting herself on the arm of the couch, furthest away from Alice. "The circumstances aren't all that wonderful, but I am here to talk to you about that."
"Trishia said I only have to do that once," Alice murmured in a tired and defiant tone.
"I guess that's fair enough," Lisa responded. "We will have a talk and when you decide you don't want to see me anymore, I will accept that. Can you live with that arrangement?"
"I guess," Alice said, shrugging her shoulders.
"Take your aspirin and water," Lisa encouraged, when she saw Fiona enter the room. "I will have a cup of coffee in the kitchen and when you are ready, we will sit down somewhere and have that talk. Alright?"
"Okay," Alice reluctantly agreed, gratefully accepting a big glass of cold water and two white tablets from a worried looking Fiona.
"We'll be in the kitchen, Alice," Jody said, pushing a strand of damp hair behind Alice's ear. "Take your time, okay? There is no need to hurry."
Alice nodded and sent Jody a look of gratitude, which was answered with a warm smile.
Fiona took her sister's place on the edge of the couch and awkwardly patted Alice's knee.
"Are you ...feeling better now?" she hesitantly asked. "You scared the wits out of me."
For a moment Alice closed her eyes and the words of her mother echoed in her mind. You are much needed and loved. A small smile found its way to her face and when she opened her eyes, she slowly nodded.
"I feel better now," she admitted. "But I do feel like an idiot as well. I mean," she bit the inside of her lip and frowned. "I know I am pretty screwed up," she admitted with brutally honest insight. "But...usually I manage to keep it all together."
"Did you remember anything?" Fiona carefully asked, afraid to trigger any more bad memories now she had witnessed what they had done to her friend's state of mind.
"I remember my name," Alice answered.
She cast a look at the serious expression on Fiona's face and let her eyes travel to Yarra, whose hand she was still holding. She stared at their interlaced fingers and wondered if she should let go and what her new friend would be thinking about her for holding on to her like that. But the soft glance in those dark eyes gave her all the reassurance she needed and when Yarra gave her hand a friendly squeeze, Alice involuntarily let out a small sigh of contentment. It also gave her the courage to speak the next words.
"I saw my mother," she whispered.
There was no immediate reaction from her friends. Fiona looked at her with unveiled curiosity and genuine interest, while Yarra's smile had broadened and the grip around her fingers tightened.
"I...there was place I was trapped in and it was so...dark and quiet and I couldn't see or hear anything," she related with a shudder. "I thought I was going to die, because I could hardly breathe and in the end I didn't care anymore. I just wanted to give up, but then I saw her. I mean, it was all light and I couldn't see her face or anything, but I knew it was her. I recognized her voice. She talked to me and told me to go back and have courage and to never forget who I am. I wanted to come with her, but she told me to go back."
Alice swallowed hard and took a deep breath, not aware of the tears that were rolling down her cheeks.
"Do you think I just dreamed that?" she asked in a whispering voice. "It looked so real."
"I think it was real," Yarra answered with confidence and Fiona nodded. "I was here sitting next to you and for a few moments I thought you would stop breathing. But you didn't."
"No," Fiona added in a voice filled with awe. "You came back to us."
"So, you don't think...I am completely crazy, or anything?" Alice asked feeling her insecurities coming back full force.
"My grandfather claimed he could contact the spirits. He said he performed rituals to ask them to fertilize the land and according to him, they did," Yarra seriously answered. "And my dad and brothers sometimes go walkabout just to meditate and become one with nature. There's a lot out there we don't understand. But I do believe your mother saved your life today, Alice. There's nothing crazy about that."
"No, it's pretty special actually," Fiona agreed.
In the adjacent kitchen, the adults were silently drinking their coffee. They did not mean to eavesdrop, but couldn't help being fascinated by the conversation that was taking place between the three teenagers.
When Joan heard Fiona's encouraging and accepting remarks, she could not help smiling. In spite of the difficulties her daughters had encountered during their youth, being raised by a religiously fanatic, narrow minded father, they had all turned out to be women with a broad outlook on the world, accepting and respecting the differences in all people.
"Those two are really special," Trishia smiled, putting her arm around Lucy's chair and absent mindedly playing with the long, dark hair.
"All three are," Sam gently corrected her friend, unconsciously mimicking Trishia's actions and wrapping her arm around Jody's shoulders.
"Have they known each other long?" Lisa curiously asked.
"Fiona and Yarra have been friends for years," Joan responded. "But Fi and Alice have only met yesterday and Yarra and Alice had not seen each other ever before this morning."
"That is amazing," Lisa exclaimed. "When I saw them in there, I would have sworn they had all been friends for quite a while. There must be a very strong pull between the three of them."
"So, what is your first impression about Alice, Lisa?" Trishia curiously asked.
The policewoman cared for Alice as well, just like the rest of them, but in the back of her mind there was this constant nagging need for more information. The more they had to go on, the sooner they might be able to get a lead on the murderer, before he could strike again.
"You know I can't tell you much yet, Trish," Lisa smiled, knowing full well the impatient look on her ex-lover's face. "I need to talk to her first, but from what you have told me and from what I just have seen, my guess would be PTSD."
"Which is...?" Sam asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nightmares and flashbacks are characteristic for PTSD and memory loss is not uncommon. But I really need to talk to Alice first. Of course you know there is also the matter of patient confidentiality," she warned, casting Trishia a stern look. "I can only tell you what Alice allows me to tell you."
"I know," Trishia sighed. "But the girl is gradually opening up, so hopefully she will come up with something we can work with. I have a killer to catch, Lisa and no time to lose."
After the pounding in her head had somewhat subsided, Alice had finally gotten up from her comfortable position on the coach, impatient to get the talk with the psychiatrist over and done with. She was still very reluctant to talk to a stranger about herself, but the encouraging pat on her shoulder from Fiona and the warm, reassuring smile from Yarra gave her the courage to walk into the kitchen and grumble she was ready for her talk.
Lisa had given Alice the choice as to where she would feel most comfortable and the girl had picked the bedroom. There was a comfortable chair in there for Lisa and Alice knew she could sit on the bed, close to the door. If things would get too much, she wanted a way to escape.
"We might be a short while, or really long," Lisa warned Jody when she followed Alice out of the kitchen. "It all depends on how things go."
"Nobody will disturb you," Jody promised.
"Thanks," Lisa smiled. "It is possible I will need your help, so, stick around, okay?"
"My help?" Jody echoed with a frown.
"She trusts you," Lisa started to explain. "I will do my best to avoid it, but if she collapses again, I will need you in there."
"I'll be around," Jody promised.
When Lisa disappeared in the hallway, she left a quiet group of women behind. They all felt for Alice and each and every one of them hoped the psychiatrist would be able to help her. They had seen Alice's reluctance about having to talk to her and they hoped the teenager would open up enough to take that first step on the long road of healing.
"She...um...she is pretty nice," Lucy admitted, while stacking a few plates and carrying them to the dishwasher.
"Yeah, she sure is and beautiful too," Fiona innocently added, which made the others wince and cast sympathetic looks in Lucy's direction.
Lucy's shoulders stiffened, but she quickly regained control and she had to agree with her sister; Lisa Bailey was not the person she had hoped she would be. She was a kind, beautiful woman who was very hard to resent and not the cold-hearted, distant, obnoxious woman Lucy had secretly hoped she would be. Darn!
A pair of strong arms suddenly slipped around from behind her and she could feel Trishia pull her into a warm hug. A pair of familiar lips kissed her cheek and a soft voice rumbled in her ear.
"She is, but I love you."
That simple statement filled Lucy with warmth and the reassurance it brought flushed out all feelings of insecurity and jealousy. She put down the plates and turned around in Trishia's arms to be able to look into her face. Her dark green eyes sparkled and shone with quiet happiness.
"I love you," she whispered, lightly kissing Trishia's lips.
"Stop the mushy stuff," Fiona's teasing voice interrupted. "Besides, you haven't told us everything yet, Trishia. Don't think we forgot."
Trishia bit back a grin and winked at the woman in her arms, before she slowly released her and turned back around to look at the dark haired teenager.
"I think I did," she objected. "I told you most of what I know."
"No you didn't," Fiona disagreed. "You only told us about that girl that was murdered yesterday and that two other girls had been killed in Sydney and Perth. Where does Alice come in? And us?" she asked, pointing at herself and Yarra. "You and Sam came down to the creek like the cavalry this morning and don't think I didn't see that gun of yours. You looked ready to use it."
Trishia knew it had been idle hope to think she would have been able to slip anything past Fiona's sharp mind and she cast an insecure look at Sam, who looked up with a serious expression in her clear blue eyes. The two women had a brief, wordless conversation and when Sam raised an eyebrow and, almost imperceptibly shrugged her shoulders, Trishia let out a deep sigh and hung her head in defeat.
"What I am about to tell you, will not leave this room," she said, casting a stern look at Fiona and Yarra, who simultaneously nodded. "The only reason I will tell you this, is because of your own safety and that of Alice. Am I making myself clear?"
Again the girls nodded and Trishia could see the tension on their faces. Her words had made an impression and she just hoped that she was not making a mistake.
A warm hand slipped inside her larger one and she could feel Lucy leaning her head against her shoulder, providing silent support, which was much needed and very welcome.
"We have every reason to believe that Alice is in danger, because on all three occasions a...piece of evidence was found near the body, which pointed to Alice. All three victims were young teenage girls, with long blond hair and blue eyes."
"What kind of evidence?" Fiona asked in a whisper while clenching her hands into fist.
"A photograph of Alice."
The silence after those words was almost deafening and Trishia studied the faces of the girls to see how much impact her words were having.Ý Yarra sat across the table from Trishia, staring at the policewoman with eyes that were wide with shock and grief, while Fiona stared at a point on the table. Her face was pale, making the freckles stand out vividly and her lips were pursed. After a while she let out a shuddering breath and slowly raised her head to cast a look at her sister's lover.
"Son of a bitch,' she breathed. "I can hardly believe it. Why would anyone want to hurt Alice?"
"That is what we are trying to find out, Fiona," Trishia gently answered. "We think Alice has been through something that has been so traumatic, she lost her memory. What, we don't know, but we do have a few ideas. Of course, I cannot disclose them."
"I understand," Fiona mumbled. "Damn! Now I know why all of you were so frantic this morning. You thought we both had been kidnapped and killed, didn't you?"
Jody cast a look at her mother and saw the anxiety on her face. Fiona had a way with words and had just bluntly, but accurately put her finger on a very tender spot.
"That possibility did cross our minds, yes," Sam calmly answered.
"I am sorry, Sam," Yarra apologized. "I had no idea. If I had known, I wouldn't have sneaked up to the house, but..."
"Don't worry about it, Yarra," Jody interrupted. "We know that it's a game between you and Fiona. This morning it...well, let's just say the timing was a bit off."
"So, what are we going to do now?" Fiona asked. "We need to catch that idiot."
"You will be doing nothing, young lady," Joan scolded. "All you will be doing is to listen to Trishia and do as you are told. Let the police do the catching, alright?"
"Yes, Fi, this is not an episode of Charlie's Angels, you know," Yarra sighed. "This is for real."
Peter Jones' hope that a few hours of sleep would be refreshing enough to get him through the day had not been idle. True, he was still tired, but at least the undisturbed rest had helped him to regain some energy and he felt like he was able to think again.
After a quick breakfast and a cup of homemade coffee he had kissed his wife Angela and his two baby boys and headed back to the police station again. Softly whistling a tune he had steered his car through the many obstacles in traffic and when he had reached his destination, he had parked his car in the shade of a big tree, happy to know that it would not be turned into a big, motorized oven by the time he would have to use the vehicle again.
The first thing he did after entering the building was walk up to the front desk and checking if any messages had come in for him. Nothing had and with a frown he cast a look at his watch. It was almost ten thirty in the morning and he had expected to hear from Trishia by now. Her car was not in the parking lot and Peter hoped she had not run into any trouble.
He quickly climbed the steps to the first floor and absentmindedly waved at a few fellow officers who cheerfully greeted him.
He sank down at his desk and stared at the phone, debating with himself if he should call his partner or just drive up to Sam and Jody's place. He decided against that last option, afraid that Trishia could be on her way in and they would miss each other. Maybe he should give her a little longer. It was Saturday and Lucy would be off, so maybe she was enjoying a bit of a sleep in.
"I'll just go through my notes again," Peter mumbled to himself. "Maybe I missed something."
He pulled out a little key and used it to unlock the drawer. He pulled it open and automatically reached inside to take out the envelope he had put in there only a few hours ago. When his fingers touched something cold and unfamiliar, he immediately withdrew and in a first reaction pushed back his chair and jumped up.
When he cautiously opened the drawer all the way, his eyes went wide with shock and he could feel the blood drain from his face, while the bile rose in the back of his throat.
The envelope with the faxes and his notes had disappeared. It had been replaced by something that made him feel cold inside and sent shivers down his spine.
Inside the drawer was a doll with blond hair. She was lying on her back, her lifeless blue eyes staring directly at him. A small pocketknife was embedded in the plastic chest, securely pinning down the already familiar picture of Alice.
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