Seth’s heart beat an excited rhythm as he hurried up the path in front of Dillon’s house. His hands trembled and his palms were a bit sweaty. He wiped them against his tan slacks before knocking on the door.
He heard the approach of footsteps a moment before Nurse Sterning opened the door. She stepped back, allowing him room to enter. “Good evening, Mr. Evans.”
“Good evening, Nurse Sterning,” he responded. “How have you been?”
“I have been good,” Nurse Sterning shut the door and walked back into the kitchen, beckoning for him to follow. “Mr. Marshall is still getting ready. Would you like some iced tea while you wait?”
Seth wasn’t really thirsty, but he said “Please,” as he sat down at the table.
The iced tea that she served him was sweeter than he remembered her preparing it in the past. He took a sip, put the glass down, fidgeted a bit, his leg bouncing nervously up and down, and then took another sip. He kept doing this as he watched Nurse Sterning bustle around the kitchen, straightening and cleaning. Before he realized it, he had drained all the liquid from his glass.
That was when Seth realized that Nurse Sterning was no longer doing anything. She was just standing there, watching him intently. There was a calculating look in her eye, as though she was waiting for something to happen.
Seth’s head began to feel a bit woozy. He stood and excused himself. Moving into the downstairs bathroom, he splashed water on his face, but it didn’t help. As he stood up, his face swam in the mirror before him.
He tried to remember what he had eaten that day. Could he have food poisoning? No, he hadn’t really consumed anything that could have gone bad. The flu didn’t normally come on this quickly, but something was definitely wrong.
Staggering slightly, he walked back into the kitchen. “Nurse Sterning, I think I’m coming down with something. Would you please tell Dillon that I’m sorry and I’ll arrange to meet up with him some other time?”
“Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary,” Nurse Sterning replied, turning toward him from the counter. His eyes widened when he saw the gun in her hands.
“What did you give me?” Seth slurred out the question. He was lying on the guest room bed, his hands and feet tied down to the posts.
“Oh, just an effective little combination of pain killers and sedatives,” Nurse Sterning told him as she checked the strength of his bonds. “Not enough to harm you. No, I don’t want that quite yet. I just wanted you docile enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about your putting up any real resistance.”
“Why are you doing this to me?” Seth struggled to get out. His tongue felt swollen like it did after visiting the dentist. His brain was slowly thinking questions, but his mouth was having trouble forming the words.
“I couldn’t let you take my boy from me after I’ve finally found him again, now could I?” Nurse Sterning asked. “That just wouldn’t be right.”
“Yes, I knew when they said my Dylan was killed in that car accident that they had to be wrong. A mother would know if her child were gone. I’ve spent eight years looking for him and now that I’ve finally found him, I’m never going to let anyone separate us ever again.”
“You don’t honestly think Dillon’s your son, do you?” Seth fought to think, to understand what she was saying.
“Don’t make the mistake of thinking me a fool,” Nurse Sterning said harshly, stepping back from the bed. “I’m not. I made sure I was right.”
“But Dillon would have recognized you if you were his mother,” Seth protested.
“He has amnesia,” Nurse Sterning made it sound like he was an idiot for not realizing that. “Think about it. Have you ever heard him mention anything about his family or childhood? No, you haven’t. It’s because he doesn’t remember. But he will, and I’ll be there when it happens.”
Seth thought. It all sounded like a soap opera, but then, right now he felt like he was staring in a soap opera. After all, he had never known anyone else that had been tied to a bed . . . or at least no one who had been tied to a bed without his consent. Was it actually possible? Could Dillon be her son? He had never heard Dillon mention his family, now that he thought about it.
Ok, I need to try and be rational here, Seth thought to himself.
“What makes you think Dillon is your son?”
“So you’re starting to believe me now, are you?” Nurse Sterning sounded pleased. She lowered her voice, speaking to herself, “Maybe I won’t have to kill you after all.”
She hadn’t meant Seth to hear her, but he had. Panic shot through him. He’d been so busy trying to understand what was going on and the reason behind it that he hadn’t thought to ask what she was going to do with him. Of course you couldn’t just kidnap someone and then let him go later on. You had to do something with your victim.
He didn’t want to die. That thought kept running through his head. He wanted to hug Eric again. He wanted to kiss Belinda illegal bahis on the cheek. He wanted to watch Sprite go back to being the active young woman she had been. I want to tell Dillon I love him.
“My son was in a car accident eight years ago,” The sound of Nurse Sterning’s voice tore him from his thoughts. He’d been so caught up in the realization that he might not live much longer that he had almost forgotten she was in the room.
“This drunk just rammed into the car. He was wearing his seatbelt, but the man was going so fast that the seatbelt could only do so much. He was in a coma for six months. His knee was smashed, his arm broken, and he had massive head trauma and internal bleeding.”
The injuries that she described so closely matched Dillon’s that he blinked. That was quite a coincidence. “Yes, but that was eight years ago. Dillon was hurt this year.”
“No, he was hurt eight years ago,” Nurse Sterning insisted. “He came out of his coma and they didn’t want to scare him, so they told him it had only been a week. I’m sure they meant well, just like they must have meant well when they told me he had died and that I had to bury him. But he’s okay now, even if he is blind. I’ve got my baby back and no one is ever taking him from me again. Do you understand? No one! Not even you!”
Dillon’s mouth was dry. If he weren’t so sure he hadn’t been drinking, he would have been convinced he had the cottonmouth that always accompanied hangovers.
His brain was fuzzy as he rolled over in his bed. He was still dressed, even wearing his shoes, he realized. The snap from his jeans had dug into his stomach as he lay on it, leaving a sore spot. He felt sweaty in that way that accompanies deep sleep.
Carefully rising, he held his head as it pounded. He needed water and he needed to use the bathroom. He moved forward, knocking into the tray table that he had left in the wrong spot. He caught it before any damage could be done, steadying it, the dishes clinking softly together.
Feeling his way around the tray table, Dillon moved toward the bathroom. He undid his jeans and lifted the toilet cover. He braced his hand against the wall and hoped his aim was good. He had taken to sitting on the toilet after the accident, but his need was too great at the moment to spend any extra time.
Once he was done, he stood there, forgetting to flush, just trying to wake up. Standing upright, he stripped himself of his clothes and dropped them into the hamper. Then he moved to the sink and ran the water cold. After washing his hands, he splashed water onto his face. Finally, he allowed himself to fill a glass and gulp down the water.
He drank two more glasses before he began to quench his thirst. The fourth full glass in his hand, he sat down on the side of the tub. He drank this one slowly, not wanting to get sick.
Having sated his thirst, he moved into his closet. Pulling open a drawer in his dresser, he selected a pair of cut-off sweatpants and a muscle shirt to wear. Dressed, he moved out into the hall. He didn’t even know what time it was. He felt otherworldly, nothing seeming real.
The stairs creaked as he carefully walked down them. Every noise seemed to be amplified in the quiet house. It must be very late, he thought to himself.
In the kitchen, he carefully felt around until he found the cabinet door he was looking for. When he opened it up, however, it contained plates instead of glasses. Nurse Sterning must have switched things around to suit herself. That was fine with him, since she was the one cooking all the meals, but it didn’t tell him where the glasses were. He finally found them two cupboards down.
Dillon poured himself a glass of the pineapple and mango juice that was in the refrigerator and sat down at the table. He sipped it slowly, savoring the feel of its sweet/tart flavor rushing over his tastebuds. The cool liquid felt wonderful to his parched throat.
Once he finished, he placed the glass in the dishwasher and made his way back up the stairs. He was going to go back to his bed, but he thought he heard something coming from the guestroom. It was a muffled sound, as though someone was moving around in there.
He turned and started to walk into the room, but then he realized the door was closed. Now that was weird. That door was always left open. He tried to open it, but it was locked.
At first, Dillon was confused by this. Then he decided that Nurse Sterning must have decided to move from the sofa bed in the study to the queen sized bed in the guestroom now that it was no longer needed by Seth. She must have locked the door in order to ensure her privacy. Turning away, he walked back to bed.
Seth lay on the guestroom bed, his jaw aching from having been held shut by duct tape for so long. He was uncomfortable, his body sore from being forced into the same position for almost a full day.
Nurse Sterning had come in twice to care for him. The indignity of having her help him illegal bahis siteleri with a bedpan was awful. His cheeks had been a burning red the whole time, but the pressure in his bladder was too great for him to resist.
She had taken the tape off while she had fed him. She’d held the gun in her right hand, the muzzle pressed against his temple, while she used her left hand to feed him. He had to admit that it had been a very effective way to ensure his silence.
Last night, he’d heard Dillon walk by the bedroom door and downstairs. When Dillon had come back up, Seth had struggled against his bonds as much as possible and tried to cry out against his gag. He knew Dillon had heard, because the doorknob had rattled a moment later.
Seth didn’t know why Dillon hadn’t come back with the key, but he hadn’t. Seth’s only hope was that Dillon would ask Nurse Sterning about why the door was locked. Just like Dillon himself, this house was a very open place. Doors were not kept shut and other than the front and back door, they were never locked.
Sprite would be missing him this morning. There was that. But she didn’t know Dillon’s phone number or even Dillon’s last name. Nor could she really come searching for him. She probably would call Belinda, the two women having become good friends.
Eric and Belinda would contact the police once he had been gone for a while. He could definitely count on them for that. Had he ever told them Dillon’s full name? Seth wasn’t sure. He knew they had never been to Dillon’s house, but they did have the phone number from when he had lived here. Would they think to look for him here? Seth could only hope.
Seth heard the sound of a key turning in the lock of the door. He raised his head, hoping that for some reason Dillon would have decided to come in here. His hopes were dashed away as Nurse Sterning entered, bearing a dinner tray.
She quietly shut and locked the door before moving over to the bed. Placing the tray upon the bed beside him, she drew her gun from her apron pocket. She made a great show of taking the safety off before she pressed it to his temple again.
“I just want to remind you, Mr. Evans, that if you make the slightest sound it will be your last,” she reiterated before pulling the tape from his lips.
It was hard not to cry out as the tape came off. His skin was raw and burning and the removal of the tape stung enough to bring tears to his eyes. Only the feel of the cold metal pressed to his temple kept him quiet.
He chewed and swallowed mechanically, not really tasting the food that Nurse Sterning was feeding him. He had no appetite but knew that he needed to keep up his strength as much as possible. No matter how much he had worked at the ropes binding him, he’d been unable to find any give in them. Still, just the slightest chance and he was going to try with all his might to escape.
Nurse Sterning placed a new piece of tape over his mouth after he had eaten everything on the tray and drank the small glass of water. He wasn’t sure why she was keeping him alive when she plainly meant to kill him eventually, but he was going to hope for all the time he could have.
Something strange was going on, Dillon was sure of it. For the past two days, Nurse Sterning had been going up and down the stairs more than usual. She would carry trays of food into the guestroom and then carry them back out fifteen minutes later. He supposed she could be eating in there, but that made no sense. Why would she carry her food all the way up the stairs, eat it, and then carry the dirty dishes back down again?
He knew she was doing it because he had heard her. It wasn’t that his hearing had gotten better after the accident and his resulting blindness. That was just an old wives’ tale. Rather, he paid more attention to what he heard now. He heard the same amount; he just noticed it more. So when Nurse Sterning walked up the stairs with a tray, he couldn’t help but hear the clink of dishes knocking together, even though she was trying to be very quiet and was moving slowly so that the dishes didn’t rattle too much.
This time when Nurse Sterning disappeared into the guestroom he quietly made his way down the hall. He’d left his cane behind so that there was no chance of his hitting anything with it. He’d heard her lock the door behind herself when she had gone in, so he didn’t know why he was moving toward the door.
Then he heard her say something. He couldn’t make out what she said, muffled by the closed door as it was, but she had definitely spoken. Who was she talking to? There was not a phone in that room, so she hadn’t called anyone.
Dillon hovered outside the door, barely breathing, waiting to hear something else. There was nothing: no speaking; no sounds, other than the slight rattle of dishes, to give anything away. When he heard her stand up, he moved back down the hall, being careful not to run into anything. Entering his room, he eased the door shut so that it made no sound.
What canlı bahis siteleri could be going on? Was anything going on? Dillon had to admit, if only to himself, that he might be making something up just to relieve himself of the ennui that had set in. He wanted something interesting in his life, and this was a convenient little mystery.
But a mystery it was. And even if he was grasping at straws, Dillon wanted to solve it. But how to do so? Nurse Sterning was very careful about keeping the door locked at all times and he had no lockpicking skills whatsoever.
Dillon sighed. His taste in décor was working against him. Not long after moving in he’d had all the interior doorknobs replaced. He’d liked the look of antique doorknobs with locks that required keys. He’d never intended to lock any of the doors, but he’d kept all the keys just in case he’d ever need one. He had neatly labeled each one and placed them all in a resealable bag in a kitchen drawer.
That was it! That bag of keys should still be down in the kitchen. Of course, the key for that knob wouldn’t be in the bag anymore, Nurse Sterning had it, but all the locks were similar, so a key to another door might just work. Dillon’s elation deflated. Nurse Sterning had reorganized the kitchen. The bag of keys used to be in the drawer next to the backdoor, but it could be anywhere now. It might not even be in the kitchen anymore. She might have moved it to the laundry room or basement.
There was also the problem of finding time to search for the bag of keys. The only time Nurse Sterning left her kitchen domain was to bring him food or to make one of her trips into the guestroom. Unfortunately, she didn’t spend enough time in there for him to make it down the stairs, search the kitchen, and get back to his room unseen. He couldn’t even wait until she went to the store because she had begun having the groceries delivered weekly.
That only left one possibility. He’d have to stay awake and creep down to the kitchen in the middle of the night. If he was extremely careful, he might be able to search without making too much noise.
Deciding that was his best course of action, Dillon lay down upon his bed. If he were going to stay awake later, he’d definitely need to take a nap now.
Belinda, Eric, and Sprite sat crowded together on a hard bench. On the other side of Eric a drunken man was retching into a hastily provided wastebasket. A light overhead flickered on and off, emitting a buzzing sound as it struggled with its short. A bored desk clerk seated across from them answered the ever-ringing telephone, promptly transferring the calls elsewhere. People hurried past, not even glancing at the three of them.
A loud commotion drew their attention. A tall woman was being dragged into the building. She was kicking and struggling, practically being carried by the two men on either side of her. Swearing vociferously, she wrenched herself away, shoving one of the men so hard that he reeled back and landed on the drunk. Eric ducked to avoid his cartwheeling arms as he struggled to regain his balance and launch himself back at the woman.
Finally bringing her down, the men forced her to lie upon her stomach. One of the men manacled her hands behind her back with a pair of handcuffs provided by a uniformed officer who had rushed to assist. Once secured, they hauled her up and dragged her back into the building, her continued protests ringing out in the air behind her.
Sprite’s eyes were wide as she watched the scene. When the woman was brought up, Sprite cheered and clapped her hands. The uniformed man looked back at her and gave her a smile and a wink. She grinned and waved back at him.
Belinda and Eric shared a smile over the top of Sprite’s head. Actions like this were part of the reason they were coming to love her so much. Even in the most trying of times, she managed to enjoy life.
“Mr. Evans,” a man called. He watched as they rose and beckoned for them to follow him. “I’m Detective Morrow,” he introduced himself. “If you’ll just follow me to my desk, I’ll see how I can help you.”
They walked into a large room filled with tinted Plexiglas cubicles. Detective Morrow led them on a winding path until they reached a cubicle with a nameplate reading ‘Detective William Morrow.’ It contained a scarred and dented metal desk, one rolling chair, two straight-backed chairs, and a filing cabinet. The space was made a bit homier by the pictures spread around of a woman and four children. Atop the filing cabinet, a spider fern was putting up a valiant struggle to survive.
Detective Morrow squeezed himself behind his desk. The rolling chair squeaked in protest as he sat, gesturing for them to take the two remaining chairs. Eric looked around, spotted another chair at a currently unoccupied cubicle across the aisle and grabbed that. Once they were all seated, Eric’s chair more in the aisle than the cubicle, Detective Morrow stated, “I understand you think something has happened to your brother Mr. Evans.”
“That’s right,” Eric responded. “No one has heard from him since early Sunday morning at around 1:00 a.m. when we all left Achin’ together. He was supposed to be at work Monday morning, but he never showed up.”