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Weeping Willows: A Thrilling Mystery Novella (Dark Desires Book 1)

Weeping Willows

Written by S.B.Rose

Copyright © S.B.Rose

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be circulated in writing of any publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published without a similar condition including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

This book has been produced for the Amazon Kindle and is distributed by Amazon Direct Publishing

 

CHAPTER 1 –

 

Bright scorching sun glinted on the shiny metal of the red buses lining the busy street corner. A man bent over a metal bucket and ran his fingers through the soapy sudsy water making ripples to speed up the process. He dipped his rag into the bucket, soaking it as he washed the grime off the exterior of the bus. He sang a song in a language that the little girl standing in the corner did not understand but she listened, mesmerized by the tune. Oblivious of being watched he happily continued his task.

 

The girl looked away guiltily remembering what mum and dad had said, “It’s rude to stare at people, Suzie!” were the words that echoed in her head. She looked into the shop where her parents were busy paying for their purchases. A sudden feeling of dread was settling in the pit of her stomach. Their shopping trip was coming to an end and it would be time to head home. She hated being at home – it felt so cooped up. They lived in an apartment in the city, not in the very best part of town but it was all that they could afford for now. Mum stepped out of the shop and held Suzie’s hand as she steered her towards the entrance of their apartment building, whilst dad trudged behind with all the shopping bags.

 

Suzie could never explain why the foyer of their building petrified her. The shabby dark brown carpet smelt musty, a strong smell of cheap detergent could never disguise the cold dank stale cigarette smell that permeated the air. It was pitch black and the long flight of stairs to their flat on the 2nd floor felt like a huge mission. The lifts were permanently out of order. The darkness was so eerie that it felt like little fingers were clenching her chest, squeezing tightly making her feel breathless. Just as she felt dizzy they reached the landing to Suzie’s relief.

 

Long corridors with floors coated with thick lavender smelling polish, a soothing scent met them at Flat 22. A simple agreement with all the tenants to maintain their corridors. Fresh, spicy aromas of mouthwatering cooking wafted through as Suzie and her parents entered their door.

 

This was home.

 

They settled in for the day, had lunch that mum had prepared before they had left for shopping. It was a deliciously divine mutton stew with veggies. Mum was an amazing cook.

 

A soft knock at the front door sent mum to answer. It was probably Aunt Ivette from next door. Suzie brushed the thick fringe of her silky black hair off her forehead and stared at the tall woman in the doorway. She was one of the most beautiful creatures she had ever seen. A very tall blonde haired woman with flawless milky skin, a soft pink lipstick on her shapely lips dressed in a white wispy chiffon flowing dress. She had always looked like she had just stepped out of a movie.

 

Hello Judy, just came to bring Suzie a chocolate bar that Jimmy bought for her.” she said in that soft husky (warm) voice as she held out the chocolate bar to Suzie gently. Even at such a young tender age, Suzie knew that Aunt Ivette loved children.

 

Grandma May always said that children had a natural sense of what people were really like. Suzie thought about that, she argued that grandma was probably right, there was warmth and kindness emanating from the lovely woman. She reached out and took the chocolate bar smiling a thank you at Aunt Ivette.

 

Suddenly, the loud clanging of crashing metal in the courtyard reverberated through the building. The noise was deafening! Suzie remembered that Aunt Ivette, Mum and Dad exchanged knowing looks that only adults knew how to do.

 

Ugh! It’s probably the hooligans in the courtyard.” said Dad. Suzie followed her parents and Aunt Ivette into the corridor, it always amazed her how all the tenants would stand with their arms on the wall, nervously watching, on the tips of her toes peeking at the frightening brawl occurring in the courtyard in spite of Dad warning her to stay indoors. It was a frighteningly strange fascination watching bottles being broken on the heads of people, as rivulets of blood oozed down their faces.

 

The sound of Adele’s melodious voice singing “there’s a fire burning in my heart. . .” brought Suzie out of her memory as her cellphone ringtone played. She jumped up and quickly answered but was a second too late as the caller rang off. She sat up awkwardly wondering what had brought back the childhood memory. She felt extremely disorientated that her mind had crept so far back into the past. As she stretched her long legs clad in a tight fitting skinny jeans and pulled the denim jacket tightly around her in an unconsciously protective gesture, she realized while sitting on the bank of the duck pond, that Melissa was extremely late. They were never going to make it for their English lecture on time. Melly was Suzie’s best pal for year’s right back to the time after her parents had moved out of that dreadful flat in the city and into the stunning suburb where the two girls had befriended each other on their first day at school, promising to be best friends forever!

 

Suzie’s life had changed drastically from that momentous time. She had a beautiful secure childhood in an amazingly safe neighborhood, had gone through middle and secondary school happily. She and Melly had both decided that they were going to major in English, both looking towards careers in Education. Life, right now was just awesome.

 

She reached again for her phone, dusted the grass off of her jeans as she stood up and looked at the caller number.

 

It had been Melly.

 

Suzie dialed back wondering why Melly wasn’t answering and left a message, “Melly, for god sake, where are you? We’ve missed our lecture. Call me!” she rang off.

Picking up the books that she’d left on the bank with her bag, Suzie began walking towards the university gates, students were chatting and laughing with each as she walked on, a very lively atmosphere. She walked towards the shiny red golf that her parents had gifted her for her birthday, pulled out her keys, deactivated the alarm and jumped in. looking into her rear-view mirror, she wiped her smudged pink lipstick and brushed back her sleek black hair over one ear as she scrutinized her appearance, she turned out okay looking she thought with huge almond eyes, fringed by thick black lashes, a slightly delicate nose with a mouth a tad too small, but nevertheless okay.

 

She’d always complained that she was very average looking and Melly would argue that it was untrue as there was always a line of boys vying for Suzie’s attention. Melly was a bright bubbly vivacious girl with emerald green eyes that always shone with mischief and a friendly smile that earned her great popularity. The only thing that made them truly differ was that Melly would jump crazily from relationship to relationship while Suzie would stubbornly refuse to be involved with guy’s claiming her studies were “top priority”.

They would torment and tease each other mercilessly as Melly would playfully call Suzie “too picky” and judgmental, as she would argue that she had no trouble waiting for “Mr. Right”. Thus banter would go on regularly as it did in their teens.

 

Secretly, Suzie would agree to herself that Melly was right. She was too serious and didn’t want to get hurt. The few relationships she had attempted just hadn’t felt right so she’d abandoned the whole dating thing besides Suzie was too busy consoling Melly through her disastrous relationships. Melly was a sweetheart but in all honesty she could sometimes be too free spirited and a commitment-phobe. Deep down Suzie knew that Melissa was really a harmless soul, leaving a stream of broken hearts behind as she ended on relationship after the other.

 

She glanced at her phone on the passenger seat, still no message from Melly. She placed the key in the ignition and started up the engine, heading for home. This was so unlike Melly, but something had probably come up and she knew that she’d hear all about it soon enough.

 

The weather had turned nastily dreadful. Dark black clouds loomed overhead as Suzie headed to the outskirts of London to the little town of Rosewood Creek, where she and Melly had rented the little cottage. It wasn’t too far out from the University, traveling the short distance was the added bonus to living in such a picturesque environment. Both their parents helped by their generous allowances to the girls. Life couldn’t be better. Looking out at the stretch of country road with the sweeping willows swaying in the gusty wind and the smell of the fresh pine needles hinting at a downpour Suzie realized that she was going to be caught in the thick of it. The sky blackened and the heavens opened, spewing torrents of rain. It pounded on her vehicle, the windshield swishing to and fro crazily as Suzie squinted at the road ahead struggling for visibility. She thought of pulling over but decided against it as home was just ten minutes away. She’d weather the storm, driving at a snail’s pace. Thank goodness that this was the country and no traffic hazard. “She’ll be home soon.” she kept reassuring herself.

 

A fork in the road ahead indicated the turn towards home and the car skidded slightly as Suzie took the turn. The cottage loomed ahead as she quickly turned into the driveway, she felt a bit relieved that she didn’t have to jump off to open the gate as both she and Melissa had probably forgotten to shut it when they left this morning. Lightning and thunder struck as Suzie jumped off the car quickly locking it as she made the mad dash to the front door. Inserting her key in the lock totally drenched in those few minutes Suzie entered the cottage. It was freezing cold and the dark interior making it apparent that Melly had not returned as she sometimes did with Craig, her latest. She walked into the lounge and switched on the light. It was beautifully cozy furnished room with a soft rose printed wallpaper in a delicate pink and white pattern which always gave one the feeling of brightness and warmth, soft drapes at the windows matching lampshades and a suede lounge suite completing the furnishing. Suzie kicked off her shoes and sank her feet in the luxurious shaggy rug making her way to the bathroom. Quickly undressing, she turned on the spray in the shower, soaping herself letting the hot streaming water soothe her body. Ten minutes later she turned the faucet off, stepping out she dried herself, slipping on her warm toweling robe she headed to the kitchen, pulled out her favorite red and white mug with hearts on it and spooned 2 sugars waiting for the kettle to boil. A nice cup of tea was generally what Suzie liked to have when she got home from campus.

 

She and Melly would catch up on the events of their day, laughing and joking around. The kettle automatically switched off and the click brought Suzie back to wondering as she poured the steaming water into her mug. Where was Melly? It was beginning to become a little unnerving that Melly hadn’t called back yet.

 

A sudden feeling of dread settled in the pit of her stomach. She had the uncanny feeling that something was amiss. Shaking her head she quietly told herself not to be Silly and mentally pushed away the negative thoughts. It was probably the storm adding to her paranoia.

 

Taking her tea she settled herself into the warmth of the couch, switched on the Television and the soapie Days Of Our Lives was on. Suzie skipped the channel and weirdly settled for the Daily news update. The country’s political situation making headlines with the Presidents excessive funding on his personal home making the highlights with the different rival parties vying to outsmart each other on what the outcome would be. The warmth of the tea made Suzie feel so relaxed that she dozed off on the couch with the telly still on.

 

– Chapter 2 –

 

Her heart was beating really fast, sweat trickled down her face as she ran through the tall grass. The ground was muddy and crawly insects stung her ankles. Her shoes were soaked through and she kept falling into the sticky mud. Cuts and bruises marking her face as she ran wildly in despair. She could hear him now, closing in on her. She tried to brush her wet matted hair out of her eyes with very little success. Blindly, wildly running through the thick foliage. She could feel the blood pounding in her head as she tried to think through the fog clouding her mind. Cold and drenched she ran on. She could hear him closing in, his footsteps loud in the thick crunching leaves matting rough terrain.

 

She bit her hand to stifle the scream rising to her throat. Despair, fear and the instinct to survive was pushing her on to search for refuge. Suddenly to her right she saw a clearing with an old farmhouse up ahead. She raced on with legs bleeding towards it. Help was just out there. She could make it. She heard a loud dizzying sound before she felt the impact of excruciating pain as her beautiful green eyes opened wider as realization dawned on her.

 

Her fingers slowly felt the sticky warm heat in her belly and in that split second her hands were dripping with the blood that oozed from within. She fell with a hard thud.

 

– Chapter 3 –

 

Static was what Suzie awoke to from her deep slumber. She became aware that she had been so tired that she had dozed off for quite a while. Her empty teacup lay fallen face down on the rug, rubbing her sleepy eyes she glanced at the clock on the side table.

 

It was 3.30 am, she’d been asleep for quite a while, uncurling her legs she slowly rose to her feet, switched off the telly on her way to bed. Melly had still not come home. Suzie did a quick sweep of the house checking that all doors and windows were locked. Switching off the lights she flared at her cell phone, Melly had still not called.

 

She told herself that she probably stayed the night at Craig’s apartment because of the storm. She’d see her tomorrow.

 

– Chapter 4 –

 

Sunlight spilled through the lacy curtains dancing on Suzie’s face. She opened her eye lazily and stretched her arms over her head, pushing back the bedcovers, she walked over to the window, the landscape had been washed anew, opening the window she took a deep breath into her lungs, Suzie loved the mornings.

 

It was very special in the countryside and this was her quiet time. She slipped into her warm fluffy slippers and shuffled off to the bathroom, switching on her radio first. A quick visit to the loo and she unscrewed the cap of her toothpaste quickly brushing her pearly teeth, ran her fingers through her tangled hair, humming the tune of “It’s my life. . .” she walked into the kitchen switching on the kettle, making her coffee and toast.

 

Looking at the clock Suzie realized that she still had an hour, enough time to shower, dress and head off to campus. Picking up her cellphone, she placed a call to Melissa. The message began, “the subscriber you have dialed is not available. . .” Suzie shrugged to herself tossing the phone on the table. She’d catch up with Melly later at English Lecture.

 

Dressed in a fitted calf length black skirt, matching white silk blouse, tightly fitted leather waisted jacket, ankle boots completed her ensamble and she headed to campus. Suzie admitted to herself she was looking pretty cool today even if she thought so herself. She inwardly laughed at herself at the thought as her boots clicked on the sidewalk. She ignored the cat whistles from some of the guys chatting on the benches. She headed to her first lecture for that day, keeping an eye out for Melly.

 

By midday, Melissa was still missing in action, Suzie headed to the cafeteria she probably would find Melly and Craig there having their lunch as they sometimes did. Surprisingly, there was no sign of Melissa however Craig was standing in a corner with that moody dark look that was not uncommon to him. Suzie called out to him and waved from across but he seemed so distracted and deep in thought.

 

He looked up, heard Suzie and with a slightly guarded look walked over to her. They greeted each other and she asked Craig where Melly was, looking away he answered her a little hesitantly that Melly and him had gotten into an argument yesterday. It was over some silly thing about a movie and he hadn’t seen her since. She’d stormed off. Alarmed, Suzie told Craig that she had been calling Melly repeatedly since yesterday and she had assumed that they had been together.

 

A worried frown lined Craig’s face, he told Suzie that he had also tried calling her but assumed that he was still in the dog box. He had been certain that she’d gone home. Both of them looked at each other horrified that no one had seen or hear from Melissa since yesterday. A sick gnawing feeling settled in the pit of Suzie’s stomach, something was horribly wrong here!

 

She and Craig immediately split up and decided to query around on the whereabouts of Melissa from friends and students at the campus. A short while later of searching the grounds they began calling Melissa’s parents and friends in Rosewood Creek to find out if they knew where she was. It became apparent that Melly was missing. Craig appeared to be the last person to see Melissa.

 

It was now 24 hours and Melissa’s dad and mum agreed to meet at the police station. Craig and Suzie were met by Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie, who was crying hysterically on her husband’s shoulder. Being a retired detective himself Uncle Frank was very familiar with the procedure. He left Aunt Lizzie in Suzie’s care and marched off to file the missing persons report. Both she and Craig were interviewed by the police and asked to be available as they tracked Melissa. They were informed that they could leave. Suzie and Craig were dumbstruck, they could not believe that this was happening. Questions flitted through their minds. Where was Melissa? It appeared as if she had disappeared into thin air.

 

Parting ways, Suzie numb with shock and Craig nervously anxious as he recalled how the police had harassed him as he had been the last person to see her. Uncle Frank had never really liked Craig and he made Craig feel extremely uncomfortable at the station. Craig remembered how he kept giving him those questioning looks. Even Suzie had noticed that Uncle Frank was treating Craig like a suspect.

 

The atmosphere had been loaded with tension. Even as he consoled and comforted his wife through all the paperwork being filed. Suzie had been surprised at how efficient he had become. Being a quiet man, he controlled the entire situation. This was a nightmare, Suzie could never have imagined that she would be searching for her best friend when she had awoken this morning. Sure, she had thought that it was a bit strange that Melissa hadn’t called her but never in a million years could she have imagined that this would be happening. Horrific thoughts raced through her mind. “Oh God, please let Melly be okay and please let them find her.”, she prayed silently.

 

– Chapter 5 –

 

A search party ensued. The police were already combing the countryside of Rosewood Creek, but as of yet no Melissa. She appeared to be have disappeared off the face of the earth.

 

Miles and miles of road stretched ahead. Loud country music blared from the car radio. Thick forest like vegetation lined both side of the road. The truck moved on, the man reaching into his cubby for the pack of cigarettes, quickly lighting it up and took in a quick puff, while his thoughts flitted. He’d been doing so well kicking the smoking habit until now with the stress of recent events had proven too much.

 

A sudden fork in the road appeared, one leading directly to Rosewood Creek while the other leading to Hanover miles away. As he drove towards Hanover for another hour the turn into the dirt track suddenly appeared. He had almost missed it. He quickly turned right and swung the vehicle onto the beaten gravelly track. The truck bumping on the loose rocks as he made his way down the winding land.

 

Tall pine trees outlining the horizon, he opened the window to inhale the fresh pine scent. It was heavenly, this untouched land. He looked up ahead at the thin, grey spirally smoke. In the distance, up ahead stood the large study farmhouse that he’d grown to love. It brought a feeling of coming home. Its location isolated from prying eyes. He could now smell the wood smoke emanating from the chimney.

 

It felt comforting. He made a quick turn into the pathway leading up to the farmhouse. Switching of the truck, he sat for a few minutes gathering his thoughts. He hadn’t told Emma that he would be coming. She would be surprised that he had made a trip out. He needed to get his story straight.

 

Arriving at the farmhouse without calling right in the middle of a semester, Emma was definitely going to have a go at him, she’d nag endlessly. He would have to take it in his stride. A lot had happened these past few weeks. His nerves were shot to hell. The police were grilling him mercilessly. He’d kept cool. Nobody needed to know about his past. It was left buried. His life and future depended on it.

 

CHAPTER 6 –

 

The light in the window went out. The cottage looked deserted but the man knew better. She was probably settling down for the night. The stillness was unusual even for her. He’d been watching from a distance as he always did. She’d looked so forlorn and lost, he noticed the deep black shadows beneath her eyes. Her friends’ disappearance was taking its toll. He’d expected that.

 

He believed in his heart that it was necessary. He thought that she of all people should be happy to be rid of someone troublesome. He felt that he had done her a huge favor. God knew, the green eyed witch had been an obstacle. He had dealt with her effectively and with her out of the way, the girl would be all his.

 

He’d been waiting for a long time, a very long time. It would be soon now. Of that he was sure. He got into the vehicle feeling elated at how well things were going for him. Cloaked in the security of darkness, his mind began racing, plotting, making plans on his next move. He considered himself superior, very smart, he’d covered his tracks very well. It would be a few more days before she would be found. That bought him some time, a sleepy town’s law enforcement moved at a snail’s pace in keeping with their laid back lifestyle.

 

He whistled to his favorite tune feeling enormously pleased with himself. He had plans alright, major plans. A wicked smiled tilted at the corners of his mouth as he glanced at himself in the rearview mirror. He thought of himself as brilliant, a master of his own destiny!

 

CHAPTER 7 –

 

Hard thumps sounded from very far away. Why didn’t the banging stop. Her head hurt, all she wanted to do was sleep but the thudding went on. Dragging herself from the mist of deep sleep, Suzie jumped up realizing that the pounding was coming from her front door. She pushed at the bed covers quickly slipping on her bathrobe as she raced bare feet to the front door. Who on earth could that be? She carefully opened the door keeping the chain still hinged and looked out. Two police officers stood there, with a guarded expression on their face. “Suzanne Edwards?” they enquired. “Yes.” she answered hesitantly. “We’re sorry to disturb you at such an ungodly hour,” said one of the officers. Producing their badges, holding it up, the younger officer asked, “may we please come in Miss? It’s important!” Suzie unlocked the door to let in the officers. Her heart was pounding wildly, she felt nausea and bile rush to her throat. “Have you found Melly?” she quickly asked. The officers looked uncomfortable as they glanced at each other trying to avoid meeting her eye. The older officer who introduced himself as Sergeant Williams stepped forward, pulled off his cap and looked Suzie in the eye as he said, “Miss, we regret to inform you that there has been a car crash and we believe it is your parents Jonathan and Judy Williams. We’re sorry but we need you to accompany us for a proper certification.”

 

There was a buzzing in her ears as the room appeared to be spinning, she felt like she’d been punched really hard in the belly. She felt arms grab her as she slipped slowly into the deep dark blackness. As Suzie came back to consciousness, she was aware of the two officers standing over her with sympathetic looks. She sat up shakily, questions filling through her mind. One of the officers apologetically asked if she was okay, if she needed something to drink. Suzie refused, feeling shell shocked. She asked them to wait, walking like a zombie she headed to the bathroom quickly washing and dressing. The officers whisked her into the backseat of the patrol car. Her world had just crashed forever. First Melly and now her dear loving parents. The world as she knew it had been altered irrevocably. She felt devastated. The policemen informed her that a vehicle had crashed into her parents car killing them instantly on impact. The driver had fled the scene abandoning his vehicle. The registration plates appeared to be false. That was all they knew for now. The police were hopeful that the perpetrator would be found. Suzie felt a torrent of mixed emotions. What kind of animal would do such a thing? It was appalling that any human being could be so heartless and cruel to her kind, sweet and innocent parents and leave them to die.

 

She felt this incredible wave of pain and hate engulf her, the two emotions mixed in a crushing turmoil. She felt so alone, besides her parents and Melly, she had no-one. She was now alone, all alone.

 

On arriving at the station, Suzie called Melissa’s dad and mum. Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie arrived shortly. They were the closest thing to any real family she had left. Dad had a brother and sister in New Zealand and mum had been an only child. They had never really kept up, just an occasional postcard at Christmas, with a few visits over the years. The station was abuzz with police going about their business. A drunken man bawled at one officer as he was led to lock-up, swearing and cussing as he was taken away.

 

Suzie was asked to wait for a few minutes. A tall burly policeman stepped out of one of the offices. Suzie was weeping in the arms of Aunt Lizzie, the shock of what was happening sinking in. Uncle Frank patted her hand consolingly and with his soft voice said, “There, there my dear. It’s going to be okay. We’re here for you.”

 

Aunt Lizzie stroked her hair and tried to brush the stream of tears flowing down her cheeks as she tried desperately to stifle her own tears. Suzie reluctantly pulled away as the officer cleared his throat. He introduced himself as Detective Matthews and asked them to follow him to the mortuary.

 

The click of shoes echoed on the cold tiled floor as they were led through a cold empty corridor, metal cabinets lined the wall behind the double steel doors. Sergeant Matthews pushed open the doors as he led them through. He pulled out the drawer and lifted the white sheets. Suzie slowly stepped forward swallowing the hard lump lodged in her throat and stared at the lifeless faces. Their faces were a blush white and so still, they looked like they were in a deep sleep but the deep wounds, scratches and dark blue bruised lining their faces was an indication that this was not so.

 

She nodded at Detective Matthews as Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie whisked her away. An investigation was now open on the death of her parents. Their lives had been cruelly snatched away. From that timeous moment on everything had just become a blur. She vaguely remembered Melly’s parents telling her that she should spend the next few days with them in Rosewood creek. Uncle Frank kept reassuring her that she needn’t worry, he would take care of everything even in the funeral arrangements. Suzie felt so overwhelmed at their kindness and grateful for having them in her life at this crucial time. The truth was that her brain felt like it had literally shut down.

 

– Chapter 8 –

 

The earth smelt fresh, a mixture of soil and dampness permeating through the air. A steady light drizzle continued, a few rows of vehicles lined the pavements opposite the cemetery. A few varsity friends and close friends of her parents stood together around the grave site with Suzie and the Franks. The priest voiced the final words of “The Lord is my Shepard.”

 

Their caskets were lowered and finally laid to rest. Suzie placed the blood red roses on the caskets of her parents as tears rolled down her cheeks. She brushed them away with gloved hands, praying for their peace knowing that they would be received in heaven where they belong. Sobbing, Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie led her away from the grave site. She felt totally spent. The feeling of desolation, a second skin. For now she felt relieved at the support of Melly’s parents and her heart went out to them for all that they had done for her. She admired their strength knowing full well that the uncertainty of Melly’s disappearance still plagued them. They wanted and needed their daughter home. The fear of the unknown choking their every moment, the fear of what may be.

 

Leaving the cemetery, Suzie thanked them profusely for everything telling them she would never forget it. She told them that she appreciated their kindness but she needed to go back to her cottage, she needed time to mourn and grieve her loss. They both said that they understood and would come visit regularly. She thanked them as she left.

 

The man had stood at the back of the gathering. He felt secure in his anonymity. It was a funeral after all. This gave him a chance to be closer to the girl, to observe. He stared at her pale face and tear filled gaze. Her brown eyes watery pools. She looked so beautiful. He wished he could gather her into his arm and tell her it would all be okay. He was doing all this just for her. He convinced himself that in time she would understand why he had to do what he did. It had all been for her.

 

He watched silently, she had such grace and poise pulling herself together as she thanked everyone who had attended the funeral. A couple had stood just before him, he thought of touching her little hands as she greeted but on afterthought he pulled away. Stepping away, he walked briskly to his car. This was not the time. Their moment needed to be special, not surrounded by these inconsequential strangers. He would wait, he was accustomed to doing that. Patience was definitely his virtue.

 

– Chapter 9 –

 

The stream gurgled in the early morning. Birds whistled their melodious tunes. The man picked up his axe and struck at the wood. Beads of sweat glistening on his arms and his back as he swung the axe to and fro in a rhythm chopping at the firewood. He calmed the troubled thoughts. It was now two months and there had been no word.

 

He missed her so much! He had told Emma, his sister, what had happened and was surprised that for once she appeared to be understanding. She’d told him to take as much time as he needed. If being on the farm gave him some semblance of sanity, then Craig could skip this semester considering the severity of the situation. He knew that it looked bad. He and Melissa had been fighting a lot recently and many people at campus knew of this. Her flirtatiousness was no secret. He knew it was harmless and Melly was impulsive and she’d fought constantly, accusing him of becoming too clingy and possessive.

 

He had lied to the authorities and to Suzie, telling them that they had been quarrelling about a silly movie. The argument had erupted over Melly’s flirtatiousness and Craig was ready to take their relationship to the next step but Melly had laughed at him. She said that Craig was being hasty and that she wasn’t ready to commit to one man. She loved her freedom too much. Sure, she liked Craig but it was still early days. Craig in his frustration had accused Melly of cheating, he knew that this was not true but he had wanted to hurt her like she had hurt him in trivializing their relationship, she in turn had become furious and had forced Craig to stop the car as they were on their way to Rosewood Creek’s movie theater. She had screamed at him ranting and raving at what an idiot he was, telling him that she wouldn’t speak to him ever again. They were over! He had called out to her to get back into the car but she had stomped away on the quiet road. In his anger and against better judgment Craig had driven away in the opposite direction to the guest house that he lodged at, pride preventing him from chasing after her.

 

The last he saw of Melly was her angry back as she marched off. The guilt he now felt at leaving her in the middle of nowhere gnawing at his insides. It was all consuming. He should have driven back to find her. Instead he’d left her, alone on a deserted road. He felt a deep seated sense of blame and believing that he was responsible for whatever had happened to Melissa.

He wished that Melly would suddenly pitch up telling everyone that she’d went off with a friend to the city of London but deep in his heart Craig knew that something awfully dreadful had happened to Melly, the love of his life. He had wanted to hate her for mocking their relationship but he’d always know that his feelings were not reciprocated.

 

Melissa had commitment issues.

 

The aroma of baking bread brought Craig out of his deep reverie, Emma had been up at dawn attending to the chores that were required to running a farm. She loved it, claiming it was rewarding and made her life feel so purposeful.

 

Since their parents had died while they were quite young, Emma had taken the role of much older sister-cum-mother to Craig. He’d been born when Emma was 12 years old and 7 years later when their parents had been killed in a tragic airplane crash Emma had become Craig’s legal guardian. She’d been the solid rock that he could lean on through all the trying challenging times, especially when his anger and rage had consumed him making him lose sense of reality. The killing of innocent little farm animals, when Emma had found out she hurriedly sought professional help for Craig. He’d spent many long years in his childhood with his therapist, slowly coming to terms with the festering wound in his heart. Emma was the best sister ever, she stood by him through it all, as protective as any mum could be.

 

Craig put down the axe, carrying the pile of wood inside and setting it down near the hearth. Breakfast was already set at the table. Freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs, sizzling aromatic coffee, all prepared over the old fashioned coal store. Emma was setting plates, telling Craig to wash up and join her. Sitting across from Emma at the old polished mahogany table Craig discussed with her his part played in what had happened to Mel. Brother and sister both agreed that the police should not learn about his troubled past. Emma reassured him that Dr. Lenard was very discreet. They both knew that if the police dug too deep into Craig’s past, he could be considered a suspect in her disappearance. Talk about his past coming back to haunt it – this time with disastrous consequences. It needed to remain buried where it belonged.

 

That was Emma’s decisive sentiment.

 

– Chapter 10 –

 

The winter had turned nasty. Its icy fingers curling around the little town of Rosewood Creek and Hanover law bordered just outside the city of London. People who loved Solitude opted to live in these sleepy towns with their scattered farms and cottages miles apart from each other in exchange for the quick pace of the bustling city of central London. Rosewood composed of the usual eternal stores, the bank, a city hall, the famous courthouse built in the 1800 still stood firmly through the sands of time. Little children walked the streets happily playing ball on the sidewalks, their rosy cheeks smiling happily. A man parked his car and pulling the collar of his tweed coat tighter around his neck and walked up to the general store.

 

He’d decided to buy what he needed from old Adam. He inwardly smirked thinking how clever he’d been. As he walked his thick boots made large imprints on the cold hard snow as he trudged into the store. A rope, some toiletries, a few blankets, etc. and he was quickly on his way with his purchases.

He placed the purchases on his backseat of the truck as he drove off out of the little town. Rosewood faded into the distance. He was going up to the cabin in the woods. He’d lay low for a while as he orchestrated his next move.

 

The sound of sirens blaring loudly as the squad of police vehicles in blue and white sped wildly up the uneven track. The Icy wind whistled loudly as police descended on the farmhouse. Emma and Craig exchanged knowing looks, horrified that their worst nightmare had just began. The policemen rushed the farmhouse and immediately arrested Craig for the charge of murder of Melissa. They had uncovered Craig’s past and believed that he had kidnapped Melly. Craig kept shouting that he was innocent and he loved her but it fell on deaf ears as he was forcefully taken away. Emma shrieked at her brother not to worry. She’d get him the best lawyer in town. Craig’s face wore a shattered look as he gazed at his sister helplessly through the window and he was whisked away. That image would haunt Emma forever.

 

A few miles away the man stood at the cabin window staring out into the blackness. He stroked his beard and thought pensively at this brilliance. A steely glint in his eyes, he thought how easy it was and he smiled at himself. He knew that the boy would be picked up just about now. He’d followed him to the farmhouse in the past. It was quite isolated, not as the cabin was. He’d done a background check on the boy. He would make the perfect fall guy, his past would definitely ensure that. He walked away from the window and threw a log into the fire, the crackling wood creating a warm ambiance. He reveled in the thought that he and the girl would be together very soon. It was destiny. His very own destiny.

 

– Chapter 11 –

 

Suzie could feel the bitter coldness soak her feet as she ran in the mist. The smell of old cold stone filling her nostrils as she tripped and slipped on the green moss and rocks. The mist had enveloped her. A sharp stinging pain in her knee, the wet stickiness and the droplets of red on the cold white snow telling her that she’d injured herself. She grimaced and rose slowly, up ahead she could hear Melly calling out to her. Suzie began running on the old bridge near the riverbed, Melissa needed her, and she could hear her getting closer. As she approached the figure near the edge of the bank, near the old abandoned mill, she saw her, the blond figure with her back facing her. She called out, “Melly, Melly, I’m here!” she shouted breathlessly. She reached out her hand to touch Melly’s shoulder when the figure turned with a wide lifeless blank stare in the pool of her irises. Streaks of blood running down her cheeks. Suzie cringed her hands in mid-air, a blood curling scream tearing at her throat as she jerked awake. Her pajamas’s were soaked in cold sweat. It had been a nightmare, one of the worst kind ever. She clutched at the bed covers trying to relax her racing heart. It was the 3rd nightmare this week. Ever since her parent’s death and Melly’s disappearance, she had been having recurring nightmares. They plagued her. Her bedroom was still and dark. She reached over to the night table switching on her lamp. The warmth of the light adding a touch of security, she gently pushed away the covers and got out of bed, reaching into the drawer she pulled out a fresh clean nightgown, pulling of the sweat drenched gown, she put the clean one on and padded bare-feet to the kitchen. A warm glass of milk with honey would soothe her frayed nerves. These nightmares were taking its toll. They left her exhausted. Suzie stood at the lounge window sipping her warm milk gazing out into the darkness. Her hand tightening on the glass as she squinted peering into the darkness. “Is that a figure near the willow tree at the end of the driveway?” she asked herself. She blinked hard looking again. It was just the shadows. Suzie shook her head and reassured herself that her imagination was playing tricks on her with everything going on, this was no surprise.

 

– Chapter 12 –

 

Suzie clutched her file tightly against her chest, with her right hand she adjusted the strap on her handbag pulling it higher onto her shoulder and quickly walked up to the lecture hall. She had requested a meeting with the English lecturer. Her studies were lagging behind. She’d been given extensions on all of her assignments, but she knew that she wasn’t coping, she’d decided to continue only in the next semester. She needed time, she needed to come to terms with everything that had happened in her life. She needed to lose herself in an unknown city, away from Rosewood Creek, away from university where every lecture room and cafeteria reminded her of Melly and her parent’s tragic death. To date there didn’t appear to be any leads to the person responsible for her parents death. The pain, just thinking about it was overwhelming. She found herself blinking hard to stop the onset of fresh tears threating to spill. She took a deep breath and swallowed hard as she saw the kind lecturer approach her. He’d been so helpful and kind with his twinkly blue eyes masked with concern. He’d tried to help Suzie update her notes. She felt a bit guilty that so many strangers like Mr. Cole had took the time to be kind and supportive. She felt that she would be letting them down dropping out of the semester. Suzie knew that she owed it to herself to heal so she could begin to feel whole again. She owed it to herself, she owed it to her parents to be okay, and they would want that!

 

Walking away from Mr. Cole, a sense of relief washed over her. She’d been surprised that Mr. Cole had been so understanding and supportive telling her that she should take her time before she renewed her studies. It was understandable. Under the circumstance, she needed time. A lot of her friend who had overhead them come over to wish Suzie the best, telling her that they would look forward to seeing her next semester. Everyone was too kind.

 

Walking away she told herself that she had been lucky living in a town like Rosewood Creek as people in the country were so warm and caring, she thought that city people would never be able to do this, a person could be drowned in a large city. She felt blessed for that. Fishing out her keys from her bag, a voice called out to her. It was Kyle, Craig’s friend. Suzie looked up enquiringly. What was Kyle doing racing after her? What could be so important? She paused, greeting Kyle as he reached her panting out of breath. “Have you heard the news?” he exclaimed. It’s all over the radio station, breaking news, “Craig’s been arrested.” he said. Her keys fell with a loud clang on the concrete and with a look of shock on her face she stared at Kyle as horror etched her face. What was he saying? It couldn’t be true. Leaving Kyle standing alone she picked up her keys, got into the car and drove off to Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie. She prayed that what Kyle had told her was untrue. God could not be so cruel.

 

Two police vehicles were in the driveway of the Andrews residence. The solemn looks on the officer’s face spoke volumes, Suzie had seen it before, Aunt Lizzie lay passed out on the couch – she’d fainted. One of the officers held Uncle Frank around the shoulders as she wept unashamedly, totally beaten. He kept crying that his baby was gone. Suzie went cold, her best friend in the whole world was snatched from her. Melly was no more. She’d been murdered. Anger, rage tore through her she tried to push away her pain, she needed to be here for Melly’s parents, they had shown her lots of love and kindness. She knew exactly how they were feeling. The sense of futility and loss of a loved one. It knocked the breath of a human being leaving them with a constant shallow emptiness. The pain, the suffering it was unbearable. The officers told them that a young couple, American tourist, were hiking on the outskirts of Rosewood Creek and Hanover, stumbled upon Melly’s body. She’d been floating near the river just over the old bridge, Suzie felt cold thinking about her nightmare. It had come true. Melly’s body had been discovered exactly where she had dreamt it was. The police had fished her decaying body out of the river. She’d been shot, they said and parts of her body had been sliced off. The killer had mutilated her body. Forensics would determine everything. The police told them a lighter had been found on the bank of the river. It was one of those very expensive types, a limited edition, with engravings of Craig Jackson. They told Melly’s dad about Craig’s disturbing childhood and past, they believed that he was the murderer killing Melissa in a fit of the rage. They had searched his place at the guest house and blood-stained clothing had been found, hidden in a box under his bed. The police stated that Craig was vehemently denying any involvement in killing her but the evidence spoke otherwise. They believed they had the right man! His trial would commence soon.

 

– Chapter 13 –

 

Melly was laid to rest on that Sunday afternoon, the 2nd of May, two months after she had gone missing. Suzie, Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie wept hysterically, broken as her battered body in the closed casket was lowered into the grave. Suzie felt as if her heart had been cut into tiny pieces, her beautiful friend had been senselessly killed, life snuffed out for no reason. People in Rosewood Creek gossiped among themselves that Craig with his broody expressions were always strange. The claimed that he’d fit the profile of a psychopath. The trial was set on the 14th of May, the word out there was that Craig continued pleading his innocence, claiming that he’d been framed. He’d loved Melly and wouldn’t hurt her. The people on the street, as in most little towns were convinced otherwise. A perpetrator would pay.

 

Justice must prevail!

 

Meanwhile, Suzie had promised herself that she would wait until the trial had concluded and sentencing had passed, she’d decided to visit dad’s family in New Zealand. They had made a trip out to London, coming to Rosewood Creek to see her, they had been nice, and they’d regretted the distance between the families and mourned her parents’ loss. Uncle Johnathan had offered to fly her out to New Zealand at her convenience, she was most welcome, after all they were family related by blood. Spending most of her days moping about the cottage mourning the loss of her parents and Melly, her moods alternating between weeping sessions and remembering the fun-filled days with Melly.

 

– Chapter 14 –

 

The season of winter was drawing to a close, months had passed with Craig’s trial continuing, the defense fighting a strong case in his favor. It was taking an intensive knock on them. Suzie and the Andrews needed closure. As yet no leads had become apparent regarding her parent’s killer or killers. The police had hit a dead end. Suzie awoke one morning she decided to take a long walk, she’d been too cooped up. Besides Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie. She’s been spending all her time alone, mourning licking her wounds but the ugly truth was that life does go on, she would have to harden her heart and pick up the pieces. As painful as it was, she had to move forward, she owed it to Melly and her parents to live a productive life.

 

Coming out today would be the first step. Breathing in the fresh air, she walked toward the cluster of weeping willow trees, her heart felt just a tad lighter, being out in the fresh air she felt a little better. Walking slowly, head down absorbed in her thoughts, Suzie reflected over the unfolding of the trial, she had the uncanny feeling that the case regarding Craig did not feel right. The evidence felt too pat. Sitting through the trial she could not explain why, but watching Craig she felt that she had gotten to know him quite well, she felt that he didn’t appear to be lying. Her own thoughts shocked her. She wanted her friend’s killer to be put away, but a feeling deep inside kept gnawing at her. Something was not quite right. Although Craig’s past had become public knowledge, Suzie could not shake the feeling that Craig’s remorse in court appeared genuine. She kept asking herself what if this was true or was Craig just as phenomenal liar?

 

The entire town of Rosewood Creak believed in his guilt. Shrugging away her thoughts she stared at the puffy clouds in the distance. The countryside smelled fresh, with a hint of pine. Suzie loved that smell. It was soothing, sparrow and finches whistled merrily on the adjacent trees, spring was definitely tiptoeing into Rosewood Creek. She loved it here. Seating herself on a clump of cut tree stumps near the adjacent forest, she surveyed her surrounding, lots of people were nervous in the open wilderness, not her, she loved Mother Nature, and it rejuvenated her. She sat quietly, enjoying the solitude. A sense of peace descending on her for the first time in a long while.

 

The man stroked his beard carefully watching Suzie. He’s burly shoulders hunching forward as he crouched behind the trees. He’d been watching her leaving the cottage and he’d followed from a distance quietly tailing her. A thoughtful gaze flickered across his face, he had planned to take her quietly from the cottage but he reflected that opportunity had just presented itself when she had made her way towards the forest. She lifted her face up to the pale sunshine and as he watched her he knew this was it. His moment had come. He crept up slowing behind her, she was oblivious to his presence, so lost in thought she was. Suddenly, Suzie sat up as the faint whiff of chemical rent the air. Just as realization dawned that she was not alone, a large hand with a cloth was pressed against her nostrils and mouth, tried to struggle as arms held her in a tight grip. The forest receded into a blur, her senses slowed. She slipped into blackness.

 

The man gently scooped her unconscious limp body and hurriedly walked up to his truck, laying her body on the backseat of the truck. He didn’t bother to tie up her arms just yet or to gag her as he’d done to her friend, he was confident that she’d be out for a long while. He quickly jumped into his truck and drove off towards the mountains, he’d be there in 20 minutes, the cabin wasn’t too far out but its seclusion was ideal. His refuge, hidden in the rough terrain, he’d be safe. He was bringing the girl of his dreams home, he fantasied their future together was going to be magical. He’d planned an amazing life for them, he pondered these thoughts as he drove to the cabin. He felt exhilarated, everything was coming together beautifully. He felt so proud of himself, basking in his glory of all his plans coming to fruition. He and Suzanne, he’d call her Suzanne, not Suzie like the others called her, he liked the name Suzanne as it rolled of his tongue. She was special, he’d been watching her for 2 long years at campus, silently learning her likes and dislikes. He knew she loved strawberry ice-cream and chocolate bars, she literally thrived off them. Oh yes, he’d learnt a lot about Suzanne, she was a creature of habit, enjoying her own company. He’d played them all, the police, the university, the green eyed witch and her boyfriend, they were all pawns in his game. He’d even gotten away with murder, three of them precisely but a lot more in his bag. He was brilliant! He smiled to himself devilishly. He’s handsome face lighting up.

 

– Chapter 15 –

 

The fog in her brain would not clear, she tried to shake her head to clear it but the room kept spinning out of focus. She opened and closed her eyes wearily in the drug induced state. Realization dawning she’d been taken. A dull thudding in her head kept the fear gripping her heart at bay, she’d felt like someone had hit her over the head with a cricket bat, but the dulled senses told her she’d been drugged. Her throat felt dry and parched, she tried to keep her eyes open but the kept closing of their own accord. A while later, the fuzziness had begun clearing. Fear, terror, anxiety panicked, her companions. She slowing looked around. It was cold and dark, a man was crouched near a fireplace. He’d been starting a fire with his back to her.

 

As the embers began crackling and as the shadows from the firelight danced on the wall near the bed that she lay on, she stared. There were lots and lots of pictures of her alone, sometimes with Melly at campus, some at the cottage, some new, others old all lined the walls. Suzie stared in shock at the photographs. Horrified, she stared dumbfounded. She’d had no idea. She glanced at the crouched figure, wondering who he was, this man who had stalked her for years, she hadn’t even known. The man placed a log into the fire and stood up, dusting his hands on the legs of his pants and turned walking towards her, a slow smile creeping across his face. Her eyes opened wider in shock. “Hello, Suzanne.” he greeted while his long fingers stroked the neatly kept beard, a hint of steel in his twinkly blue eyes assessing her, a calculating look in his eyes as his gaze never faltered as he met hers. She felt the urge to scream at the familiar face staring at her. She twisted feeling the tight rope cutting at her wrists and ankles. Her delicate skin chaffing with the tight rope cutting through, the feeling of helplessness overwhelmed her. She bit hard on her lower lip, tasting blood. She suppressed the urge to scream, a tiny tear sliding out of the corner of her eye, fearful of what might happen to her.

 

Never could she ever have imagined that kind Mr. Cole was her abductor. She couldn’t believe that her handsome young lecturer was behind the madness that had wrecked through Rosewood Creek the past few months. Pieces of a puzzle were slowing clicking into place. Everyone at campus loved this man. His work status as a lecturer, a perfect foil for his madness. He’d never be suspected, for the ruthless killer that he was. His true identity masked behind the prestige that a university tutor presented. An intelligent man, cultured would not be the kind of man that the police would be suspicious off. Suzie’s eyes narrowed as she looked at this man, the thought occurring to her could it be that he was also the person responsible for her parents death? She gasped loudly. Right here stood before her the real killer. It all made sense now. This bastard had murdered her best friend brutally and snatched away her happiness when he’d killed her lovely parents too. Craig had been telling the truth. The authorities had the wrong man, the ruthless murderer now had her and no one was the wiser. He leaned closer, she could feel his breath warm against her cheek as he gently brushed at her tears with the pads of his fingers. A feeling of revulsion coursed through her body as she stiffened at his touch.

 

He softly whispered to her, “There now, Suzanne. I’m not going to hurt you. You mean the world to me. Can’t you see, I’ve done all of this so we could be together.” He rambled on, “I know in time you will understand, I didn’t have a choice. I had to be rid of them so we could be together.” Suzie froze at his words. It felt like tight fingers were squeezing her heart as she realized just how insane this man was. He appeared to be totally delusional. He was justifying his action to her. More fear and dread consumed Suzie, she was at the mercy of a cold blooded murdering psychopath and no one knew of her plight. Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie had visited the day before. It would be a good few days before they would come by calling. God only knew if she’d live until then.

 

Jeremy Cole gave Suzie an assessing look as he abruptly straightened, turned and walked out the doorway, shutting the door with a loud click. The sound echoing in finality in her head as he left her alone. She could hear his footsteps receding into the darkness.

 

The torrent of pent up tears that she’d been holding in overflowed as she sobbed hopelessly. All the mixed emotions that were bottled up over the few months exploding as she cried herself at the futility of her situation. She was afraid, alone and at the mercy of a mad man. She had cried herself into a stupor, the effects of the chloroform and exhaustion leaving her totally spent. She slipped into a troubled slumber.

 

– Chapter 16 –

 

A rooster crowed in the distance, Suzie opened her eyes wishing that it had all just been a nightmare but as she moved her torn skin at her wrist and ankles ached. She winched at the pain lying still once more. Jeremy Cole, as they all knew him, it was probably not his real name, was standing at the tiny window. Suzie knew that they were in a cabin, as she looked at the interior. Beyond the walls of the cabin, she had no idea where she was but from the sounds of wildlife she assumed they were in remote wilderness. The silence of her surrounding confirmed this. He walked over to her with a bowl and spoon. He told her that they were all alone and she shouldn’t bother screaming as no one could hear anything for miles around. He lifted the spoon and attempted to feed her. Her tummy growled but Suzie shook her head aside. She didn’t want to eat from this monster.

 

He turned her head with one hand, pressing on the side of her jaws a determined look in his eyes as he once more attempted to forcefully feed her. She spat the contents onto his face as she glared at him with intense hate. He put the spoon down and lifted his hand. Suzie cringed as she thought he would strike her but instead he just wiped his face with a handkerchief, through back his head and roared out with laughter. “Quite the spitfire!” He drawled as she stared shocked. Turning on his heel he abruptly strode out the door without a backward glance.

 

– Chapter 17 –

 

Rosewood Creek law nestled closely on the outskirts of London. The sleepy town was cocooned as the final threads of winter shredded away. Spring had come. Frank Andrews dressed in an immaculate suit and Elizabeth Andrews in her best Sunday attire, a peach tailored two piece, walked towards the ringing bell of the town church. A special service was to be held in honor of the three dear people who had been killed. Both husband and wife walked forward to greet Reverend Elias who was instrumental in organizing the service in remembrance of their departed loved ones. This was the kindness of a close knit community that made the Andrews feel like they belonged. Up until the tragedies that befell Rosewood Creek, the little town had been an immense joy. The tall grey church stood proudly with rose tinted glass at the windows. The neat rows of benches with familiar faces sitting together, an encouraging smile from one or the other as Reverend Elias led them to the front rows. The church was packed to capacity. Frank Andrew’s heart felt warm at such solidarity from this community. He glanced around, leaning forward he whispered to the reverend, “Where is Suzie, hasn’t she arrived yet?”

The reverend replied that he’d called and called but Suzie hadn’t been answering. He thought that she most probably didn’t want to talk to anyone. Uncle Frank digested this information.

 

The service was beautiful. It brought tears to their eyes. As reverend and a few of the congregation came forward to deliver speeches and just to reminiscence about Suzie’s parents and their beloved Melissa. After refreshments were served people mingled outside in the court of the church. They whispered about the court case regarding Craig had finally come to an end and he was found to be guilty. Sentencing would be scheduled in a few days. Frank Andrews walked away to a corner of the church and as he quickly placed a call to Suzie he found it odd that she was not home. Reverend Elias assured him that word had been sent besides notice of the speech were up everywhere in Rosewood Creek. Suzie’s phone just kept ringing and going to voicemail. A sixth sense, call it detective intuition, was nagging at him. Suzie was an extremely diligent girl, he felt certain that she would not ignore a special service planned for Melly and her parents. It would be disrespectful and Suzie was most certainly very respectful.

 

As the afternoon drew on Frank decided not to tell Lizzie about Suzie as her nerves had been fraught to breaking point. Dropping her at home, he told his wife that he was just going to drive up to Suzie’s cottage to check up on her. It had already been a week since they’d last spoken to her.

 

Frank had not mentioned to anyone about his real concerns. He’d sat at the courthouse and had this uneasy restlessness that all had not been revealed through the court proceedings. There were a lot of missing pieces. Craig’s past had definitely made a major impact on the trial, but there were a lot of holes that couldn’t be answered.

 

His sharp mind kept going back to the facts, yes, the lighter was Craig’s but he had claimed it had been missing for a while when he’d quit smoking. There was no clue to his daughter’s missing fingers, they had not been found. Craig came out looking like a liar but the details in the cross questioning didn’t add up. Frank could spot a liar from miles away but on the witness stand, Craig remained adamant that he did not know where the missing body parts were. He never changed his story in fact in anything he seemed broken at the evidence of how Melly had been mutilated. What’s missing? He thought.

 

Could Craig’s fit of rage produce such cold calculating mutilation?

 

It didn’t fit the profile of this specific murder. His heart just wanted to believe that the perpetrator stayed behind bars. It would ease his aching heart.

 

He drummed his fingers on the steering as he drove into the driveway leading up to Suzie’s cottage. No lights twinkled so as to greet him. Night was closing in. He got off his car and walked up to the oak door calling out to Suzie but the cottage looked quiet. Her car was still parked on the side of the cottage, so she must have been home. Frank had a chilling sensation creep up his spine. He kept pounding her door but still, there didn’t seem to be anyone there. She hadn’t answered to his call. He turned the handle and the door swung open. Her keys lay on the kitchen counter, a feeling of abandonment rent the air. The cottage was deserted. A dirty teacup still sat on the counter unwashed. A quick survey around the cottage and Frank knew Suzie was not there. The cottage felt cold and eerie. Just as he was about to step out his gaze caught on her cellphone lying on the side table next to the Television. His investigative intuition went into overdrive. He quickly made a sweep outside the cottage. It was empty. His heart began beating wildly, something was dreadfully wrong. He began calling a few acquaintances checking if anyone had seen Suzie, no one had. Alarmed, Frank called detective Matthews, the man in charge of Suzanne’s parent’s case. They had kept up a friendship through his daughter’s trial.

“Matthew here.” he answered.

“Detective, I’m out at Suzie Edwards place. I think you need to come out here. She appears to be missing. I’m deeply concerned.”

A silence on the other end. “Detective, are you there?” asked Frank.

“I’m here Frank, I’ll be over shortly.” he answer ringing off. Twenty minutes later, Frank watched the police vehicle make its way up the long pathway grinding to a halt behind his blue Ford. Detective Mathews and his partner jumped off the car and approached him.

 

Frank caught them up on Suzie’s no show for the special service and that Lizzie and him had last seen her a week ago. All the calls to her bounced and their mutual friends revealed that no one had heard or seen Suzie in over a week either. The 3 men agreed to head down to the police station and trigger a search and rescue operation as soon as possible. Detective Matthew and partner did a quick sweep of the house to piece together this incomplete puzzle before agreeing that this was indeed a missing persons case. Finding Suzanne Edwards was going to be Rosewood Creek Police Department’s number one priority. Worried exchanged looks passed over all three men as they quickly made their way back to the station. A call through alerted all men at the station on the ugly situation unfolding. “Craig is still in custody so what the bloody hell is going on?” shouted their captain. Every man and trained dogs were deployed to the cottage, as high powered torches and pickup trucks combed the forest next to the cottage. This part of Rosewood Creek was unkempt, there was uneven terrain where only the dogs and men on foot could access. It may take days to comb the area and the areas adjacent to Rosewood. The media had a field day highlighting the murders and inquisitive and curious visitors had flocked to the Rosewood Creek and Hanover. As the hype died down, they’d left the little towns going back to whatever they had come from.

 

The search continued.

 

– Chapter 18 –

 

High up in the cabin, Suzie sat on the floor of the tiny room. Jeremy Cole had untied her hands and feet on that second morning that he’d taken her. She thought about the long bladed knife that he’d ran down her cheek, a warning of what was to come if she attempted to escape.

 

He’d twisted her hands behind her back as he slowly walked her outside to show where she was. Miles and miles of forest and slay, rough terrain was all that she could see. Her heart had fallen. There was nothing but forest everywhere. She looked about in awe. She had no idea where she was. He had then locked her in the tiny room at the back of the cabin, it had a little bathroom attached to it. She’d been locked in there every morning, Jeremy would bring her a tray with cereal and coffee, smiling at her in that strange way, a single white rose lay next to it.

 

“I’ve waited a long time for this.” He pulled a chair, rested his arms on the backrest and stared at her hungrily. “You’ve always been the one, Suzanne. Countless others fooled me with their deceitful smiles and fake promises. But you’re not like any of them. They deserved to rot.”

 

Suzie stared at him with utter shock. A deadly feeling dangled within the pits of her stomach as she pulled her knees closer to her chest. She tried to be strong but the tears piled up against each other. In front of her sat the monster who destroyed her life. Oh how she wished to turn back time and see things for what they truly were.

 

“Come now, Suzanne. Don’t be like that. We’ll have a wonderful life together, I pro-.”

 

“Burn in hell!” she interrupted. “I hope you die miserably, you piece of filth!” Jeremy Cole’s eyes widened in dismay. He jumped off the chair, hands dropped to his side, he took a step back looking down at her in confusion. “What are you saying? This isn’t you! You’re better than this Suzanne. Why are you acting like a disgusting whore? Tell me wh-”

 

“Shut up! I hate you! You took everything away from me. Melly…My parents. How could you?!” Blood rushed to her face as the words escaped her lips with absolute anger. Fear faded into hatred. It engulfed her and ripped her fear to pieces. In this moment she cared less of what would happen to her. The only thing she saw was the demon that stood before her.

 

“I took away the muck under your footing, Suzanne. They did nothing but hold you back. I met your parents on many occasions. I tried my best to see a glimmer of hope in them but they disappointed me. They had to go. I did it for you!” Jeremy paced the room, his eyes searched the cabin floors like a mad man. His breathing rose with each step and the growl in his voice grew as each second ticked away. “Don’t get me started on that Bitch! Oh, I had so much fun torturing that useless excuse for a human being. Melissa didn’t deserve to live. I did you a favor and here you are treating me like I’m dirt! And for what? That whore? How ironic, she tried to ‘seduce’ me for a passing grade. I gave that bitch what she wanted and then approved her passing…to the next world!”

 

It suddenly dawned on her that she was dealing with a lunatic. He showed no remorse, no humanity. The only thing emanating from him was madness. She knew her best shot of making it through this was to play along but the hatred and anger she was feeling guided her to a dangerous space. When surrounded by darkness even Suzie couldn’t resist it’s tempting embrace.

 

“I will never be yours! I would rather die, you bastard.” She shouted. Her stare gradually disintegrated into a cold and disgusted one. She let free her legs, placed her hands onto the ground and spat at his feet. Jeremy was boiling with rage. He halted, clenched his fist and bit so hard on his bottom lip that it began to bleed. “So be it.” His words echoed with a strange tone of pernicious acceptance.

 

“You’re the worst of them all. To have tricked me with your fake pureness. I feel like a complete fool. I am going to gut you, Suzie! I give you my word.”

 

“I don’t care.” But she really did. Had she made a mistake? Was he really going to kill her? He turned around, walked out the room slamming the door shut. For the next few days, he said not a word to Suzie. She received no food and no rose until late one night. He slipped in a tray, this time with a red rose and note that read, “I forgive you”.

 

Jeremy stood outside in the dark, looking up at the stars he thought about what was his next best move. Never had he loved someone as much as he did Suzanne. He wasn’t one for questioning himself but she frazzled him. Drowning in his own thoughts for the future he dug his hands into the tight jeans and decided that this place was just too toxic. This place reminded her too much of the unnecessary drama that plagued her life. It was the only explanation for her outburst. She just needed a fresh start, with him, somewhere without any familiar faces.

 

He was going to leave town for good, with Suzanne. She had to be the one, the soul mate he dreamt off. Tomorrow at dawn, he’d withdraw all the cash in his savings, pick up some clothes and supplies along with his secret stash of souvenirs from the filth he disposed the world off and Rosewood Creek would see the last of Jeremy and the soon to be Suzanne Cole.

 

The next morning Suzie awoke to the sound of bustling from the next room. She heard a door slam shut, the pickup truck starting up a minute later before speeding away. Suzie assumed that he’d probably be going back to the university to resume his duties.

 

She gazed out the grimy sticky windows. It had been nailed shut from outside. Suzie knew that her fate had been sealed. Every night before their vile encounter, with that tray of food and that single rose he’d sit and watch her eat, telling her about his day, the plans he had for their future and ludicrous dreams. Suzie remained stubbornly silent, her mind racing she’d escape the first chance she hot. This thought stilling her heart, giving her the briefest hope but on the eleventh day of being taken Suzie felt the optimism drain away.

 

Her futile situation was slowly sinking in. No one would miss her. She was all alone. The only other person that knew was probably sentenced to life. The police, Uncle Frank and Aunt Liz, the people of Rosewood Creek all believed that the monster was locked away. Oh how wrong they were. She thought sadly.

 

They may never learn the truth. Even if they searched for her, how long would they keep at it? Almost 2 weeks has passed and no one has even stumbled upon this place. Her chances of escaping were slowly dying with every passing moment and so was her hope.

 

Not too far away from the cabin Jeremy was driving in his truck when spotted the vehicles patrolling the surrounding area with watchdogs sniffing up a trail. He veered off the track, he switched off the vehicle and observed. Was I wrong? He clenched his fist as fury engulfed him. He underestimated the old man, Frank Andrews. He had to be the one. He was initially confident that no one would come looking. Jeremy heard Suzanne tell the old couple that she would be leaving for New Zealand soon. He must have missed something. He banged his fists hard on the dashboard. Damn that man! His brain kicked into a high gear. If he were to swing back now, there was a 90% chance that they would catch him at the cabin with Suzanne. There was always that 10% chance of him getting her out in time and it would be a few good days before they discover his identity. But the cabin belonged to him, an alias that would trace back to Jeremy Cole and worse, his true identity. It was the hardest decision for him to make but he knew that getting captured or killed was not an option. Suzanne was going nowhere, as long as he was free, he’d find his way back to her. He put the truck in reverse and backed out turning the vehicle to head straight back to Rosewood Creek. Time was no longer on his side.

 

The cottage felt cold, dark and eerie. Jeremy was late. Suzie shivered, pulling the blanket up to her chin as she lay on the cot in the room. The minutes turned into hours, she could hear the gusty wind shake at the seams of the cabin. Her lips felt ice. He hadn’t returned, she wondered if he was trying to use another tactic to starve and maybe freeze her into submitting to his will. Her mind felt confused, being locked up made a person feel crazed, ugly thoughts surfaced, one could lose perspective easily. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. A while later Suzie awoke to the sound of dogs barking. She asked herself if she was hallucinating. Days had passed with no sign of life from the outside world. She sat up, the sound getting closer and closer. Suzie began shouting, screaming for help as soon as she realized what could possibly be waiting beyond the walls of the cabin. Salvation.

She wasn’t sure anyone could hear. The cabin appeared to be very soundproof. Just as her throat became hoarse from screaming Suzie could hear footsteps and the dogs barking emanating loudly from outside. A loud crash and the cabin door was knocked down. She heard a voice, it was him, Uncle Frank!

 

The bold was forcefully pulled back as the door opened. A sea of faces greeted her, she clammed up both afraid and relieved. At the sight of Uncle Frank, her heart swelled with relief and she let out a wail of cries as he reached for her. The police scouted the room and enquired from Suzie of who her captor was. She told them it was Jeremy Cole, the lecturer from university. A message was relayed over the radio to the headquarters as the police rushed to issue an arrest warrant to find and arrest him. Suzie was handed to Uncle Frank as the man-hunt ensued. The police assured them that he would be apprehended by morning at the latest. No person can commit such an atrocious crime and escape the law. The police were confident that justice would be rendered.

 

– Chapter 19 –

 

Sitting on the couch the next morning at Uncle Frank’s tea, Suzie recalled her ordeal with them, tearful and pleased that her uncle’s perseverance had saved her life. She told them that Jeremy Cole had not revealed anything much about himself. She discussed how he’d bragged about killing Melly and her parents. The telephone rang as Uncle Frank rushed to answer. They all felt anxious awaiting the news that he’d been caught. Uncle Frank returned informing them that the police had called to warn them that Jeremy Cole was still at large.

 

The search for him had hit a dead end. The apartment he’d occupied at Rosewood Creek had been cleaned out, his office at the university as well. They’d checked thoroughly, the identity he was using was false, the real Jeremy Cole was killed 5 years ago.

 

This man, whoever he was, had covered his tracks very well. Suzie and family felt incredibly alarmed, they prayed that somebody would come forward as pictures of the man had been put up from Rosewood Creek all the way up to the city of London. Every T.V station was covering the man hunt too.

 

– Chapter 20 –

 

London, bright and bustling with its beautiful buildings. The Big Ben Westminster Abbey, the bridge hummed with its unique beat and vibe. The sidewalks packed to capacity as people headed about their business. This city was alive. The man in the black leather jacket pulled up his sleeve as he glared at his wrist watch, his dark brown hair brushed back neatly, clean shaven face and dark sunglasses, standing at the bridge casually surveying the scene. He felt relaxed, London had always been one of his favorite cities. It was a shame, he would be leaving. He picked up his bag as he headed towards the airport, he’d be at Heathrow really soon.

 

The sky looked blue, a bright vibrant blue as the airplane left the runway. The flight to New York wound land in about 8 hours. The man removed his sunglasses, smiling at the air hostess with twinkly green eyes as he accepted the champagne on 1st class. Putting on his headphones he sat back closing his eyes and he settled down for the flight. A while later, he awoke to the airhostess leaning over him, “Sir, could you please fasten your seatbelt? We will be landing soon.” She said. He smiled and proceeded to do so.

 

He was free.

 

He’d done it again.

 

– 12 Months Later –

 

The Big Ben chimed in the distance. The girl looked out through the huge windows of her apartment building and stared at London, the strange sense of bliss resonated within her as she watched the stream of people make their way over the old bridge. It made her feel safe. Being in the big city with people all around her, it was comforting. She changed a lot since she left Rosewood Creek. She’d slowly began to come to terms with all that had happened, drowning herself in a large city was what she really needed. People in every apartment gave her the feeling of security.

 

The only way to keep her sanity and break free from her personal prison was to venture out into the beautiful city of London. She’d built a little life here now. She was finally picking up the pieces. Surprisingly Uncle Frank and Aunt Lizzie were graceful enough to make the move with her. They too rented the apartment right next door to her.

 

Suzie knew they did it for her and a part of her felt guilty. They were family now. She took a deep breath inhaling the scents from the open window when her doorbell buzzed. Suzie looked out the peephole. The young man at the door was Miles, their building manage, “Special delivery, ma’am” he said politely. Suzie unlocked the door, taking the long white box in. This was probably a gift from Uncle Jonathan from New Zealand. He’d taken to sending her presets almost ever alternate month. He sent her beautiful things, scarves for winter, hardcover books, clothing and even perfume. Suzie smiled thinking about it. Closing the door, she opened up the box, inside lay a red rose on a sheet of white paper.

 

She opened it.

 

It read,

Until we meet again.

 

Her hand shook as the box fell with a thud to the floor, she took an unconscious step back as she fell to her knees in horror.

 

The End…For Now.

 

Hey there! Please leave an honest review Thank you for reading Weeping Willows and I look forward to our next journey with Jeremy Cole.

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Weeping Willows: A Thrilling Mystery Novella (Dark Desires Book 1)

In the hush sleepy town of Rosewood Creek on the outskirts of London, Suzanne Edwards, a young and vibrant girl struggles coming to terms with the sudden disappearance of her best friend, Melissa Andrews. Follow along on this streamline novella to discover the challenges, heartaches and horrors that emanate from the quest to uncover the events that follow. With deep seated mystery, this novella will keep you captivated by the intense situations that unfold and the development of an obsessive and demented character. Who will solve the mystery behind the tragic events happening in this little town?

  • Author: Zak Khan
  • Published: 2016-03-23 23:05:10
  • Words: 14395
Weeping Willows: A Thrilling Mystery Novella (Dark Desires Book 1) Weeping Willows: A Thrilling Mystery Novella (Dark Desires Book 1)