NO OTHER WAY (Harry Hunter Mystery Book 3)Willow Rose
Copyright Willow Rose 2020
Published by BUOY MEDIA LLC
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover design by Juan Villar Padron,
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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STATEMENT OF KRISTIN HOLMES
INCIDENT # 2010-141345
CARSON: Today’s date is April 15th, 2010; the current time is 1209 hours. I am Detective Gary Carson, along with Sergeant Steve Bailey. We’re here at Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 5525 College Road, Key West. We’re talking to Kristin regarding the disappearance of Kate Taylor, who was last seen on April 13th, 2010, at Sloppy Joe’s Bar at three a.m. All right, uh, Kristin, would you mind repeating your name and spelling it for me, please?
KRISTIN: Oh, okay. My name is, uh, Kristin Holmes. That is K-R-I-S-T-I-N H-O-L-M-E-S.
CARSON: All right. And what do you do, Kristin?
KRISTIN: I am a therapist. Pediatric therapist.
CARSON: All right. Now, Kristin. Tell us why you are here.
KRISTIN: Well, I was, uh, me and my two friends were…
CARSON: (Fiddles with pages, then moves microphone) That is Joan Smith and Kate Taylor, right?
CARSON: Go on. Please, speak into the microphone.
KRISTIN: Well, we wanted to go on this trip, this road trip, to Key West and Key Largo. It was Kate’s thirty-fifth birthday, and we wanted to treat her to something, uh, special, and so we thought we’d come down here to party and then later swim with dolphins. All Kate wanted was to try that, so we thought this was the time.
CARSON: Without your husbands? You live in Miami, right?
KRISTIN: Well, I’m not married, but the other two are, and yes. We all live in Miami. Kate needed to get away on her own for a little.
CARSON: And why is that?
KRISTIN: Well, she… I don’t know, she was… she and Andrew have been fighting a lot lately; I don’t know the details, but she told me she really needed to get away.
CARSON: Do you think she was scared of him?
KRISTIN: (long pause) No. I think she was just bummed out about the marriage. She never told us much about it, just that she needed to blow off some steam or something like that.
CARSON: Was that the term she used? Blow off some steam?
KRISTIN: (sighs deeply) I don’t…I don’t remember exactly how she put it, but yes, that was the idea. To get away.
CARSON: Okay. And then what happened?
KRISTIN: Well, we drove the long way down here and spent the first night at some hotel downtown, then went to the sunset festival and later Sloppy Joe’s.
CARSON: Did Kate meet anyone there? Talk to anyone?
KRISTIN: (sniffles) She talked to a bunch of people. It’s how she is, you know? She likes to talk to people.
CARSON: Was there anyone in particular that she spoke with?
KRISTIN: (long pause) Well, there was this guy, uh, but I don’t think that…
CARSON: And this guy, can you give us a description? Did he give her his name?
KRISTIN: Matt, his name was Matt. That was all she told us. He was tall, had brown hair and blue eyes. A little young, in my opinion, but Kate liked him.
CARSON: And what did Matt and Kate do?
KRISTIN: They danced and maybe they, uh, kissed a little.
CARSON: Uh-huh, and what else?
KRISTIN: What do you mean?
CARSON: Did she sleep with him?
KRISTIN: (pauses) Well, no, I don’t think so. We all had a little too much to drink, so I don’t really know. She was all over him, though, and kept saying she was crazy about him. She could have gone off at some point and… you know, without us knowing it.
CARSON: Is Kate the type who would do that?
CARSON: But she didn’t go home with him?
KRISTIN: No, she wouldn’t do that. She was supposed to come back to the hotel with us. We were going to leave early in the morning to go to Key Largo and swim with the dolphins.
CARSON: But you never made it that far? You never made it to Key Largo, and you didn’t go swimming with dolphins?
KRISTIN: (Sniffles) No. She wasn’t in her bed the next morning. We think she never came back to the hotel. She stayed longer at Sloppy’s than Joan and me.
CARSON: And that was two days ago, right?
KRISTIN: Right. At first, we thought she might have gone somewhere, maybe gone home with this Matt guy, and we waited for her to come back, calling her phone, but she didn’t pick up. When she didn’t come back last night, we went to the police, to you, and said we couldn’t find her. We filed a missing person’s report, and the officers on duty said they’d look for her. They also said she was probably out partying still and that she’d show up eventually, that they got a lot of disappearance cases like this, especially around spring break. Usually, they’d show up on their own. We went looking for her everywhere around town. Then, you called us this morning and told us to come in at noon.
CARSON: And you have no idea where she could have gone? She hasn’t hinted anything or maybe told you something like she wanted to run away or anything like that?
KRISTIN: I don’t know. Maybe.
CARSON: What does that mean?
KRISTIN: She did tell me once in the car on the way here that she wished she could just disappear. But people say stuff like that, right?
CARSON: Some people might, but very few actually do it. Now, did she leave a note, a text, or anything?
KRISTIN: No. We called Andrew, and he hadn’t heard from her either. He’s on his way down here now.
CARSON: Okay, Kristin. Is there anything you’d like to add to your statement?
KRISTIN: I don’t think so. I’m just…I’m really worried about her, you know?
CARSON: Okay. All right, Kristin, uh, I’m going to go ahead and conclude this interview for now. It’s 1250 hours.
STATEMENT OF JOAN SMITH
INCIDENT # 2010-141345
CARSON: Today’s date is April 15th, 2010; the current time is 1304 hours. I am Detective Gary Carson, along with Sergeant Steve Bailey at Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 5525 College Road, Key West. We’re talking to Joan Smith regarding the disappearance of Kate Taylor, who was last seen on April 13th, 2010. Joan, do you mind repeating your n
ame and spelling it for me, please?
JOAN: Joan Smith, J-O-A-N S-M-I-T-H.
CARSON: And what do you do, Joan? What’s your profession?
JOAN: Me? I don’t do anything (laughs nervously). I am what you’d call a professional housewife. My husband is a lawyer in Miami. I take care of the kiddos, is what I do. But between you and me, I’d much rather be working.
CARSON: And what can you tell me about the reason that you’re here today?
JOAN: Well, you asked me to come in, didn’t you? I was hoping it was because you would help me look for Kate.
CARSON: That’s what we’re trying to do.
JOAN: So…? Have you looked for her?
CARSON: We have patrols out searching for her.
JOAN: So, why are we here?
CARSON: Tell me about why you’ve come to the Keys.
JOAN: Kate wanted to do something special for her birthday; it’s her thirty-fifth, so she’s beginning to feel a little old, you know? She wanted to have fun, go out for a night with the girls, then drive up to Key Largo and swim with dolphins.
CARSON: But she didn’t want to go with her husband, and I believe she has a child too?
JOAN: Yes, and no. She needed some time off, some time to herself. Us girls need that every now and then too, you know? Just like the boys need to hang out and belch at the TV or look at women in a bar.
CARSON: Were you coming here to look at men?
JOAN: Heck, yeah. Kate needed to see something other than that dull husband of hers. She needed to feel wanted again.
CARSON: And her husband didn’t make her feel wanted?
JOAN: Listen, Andrew is as sweet as the day is long, but he is just as dull too. She was tired of him and wanted to blow off some steam. Who can blame her?
CARSON: Blow off some steam? Was that the term she used?
JOAN: I guess. Maybe not in those words, but that was the gist of it, yes. She wanted to get away.
CARSON: Get away from what exactly?
JOAN: I think she was just bummed out about the marriage. She never told me much about it, but I know when a girlfriend is in a bad marriage.
CARSON: So, was it a bad marriage?
JOAN: No more than most marriages, I guess. No more than mine. We all have our issues, don’t we?
CARSON: But she wanted out of her marriage, is that it?
JOAN: Yes, she said so several times. She wanted to get away.
CARSON: Could her husband have hurt her?
JOAN: Andrew? No, please. He is many things, but violent is not one of them.
CARSON: Is he the jealous type?
JOAN: What do you mean?
CARSON: Would he get angry if she was unfaithful?
JOAN: She would never do that. Not Kate.
CARSON: So, she didn’t cheat on him?
CARSON: That isn’t her character?
JOAN: She wouldn’t.
CARSON: She didn’t meet anyone while you were down here?
CARSON: She didn’t talk to anyone while you were partying?
JOAN: She talked to a lot of people. Kate loved to talk to people.
CARSON: But no one in particular? There wasn’t one person she spoke to or danced with?
JOAN: No. I don’t think so. I would have noticed if she spoke to someone in particular.
CARSON: (papers rustling) Because your other friend mentioned a man, someone named Matt? Does that name ring a bell?
JOAN: (pauses, then chuckles nervously) Ah, Matt, that guy, yes. I forgot about him.
CARSON: Can you describe him?
JOAN: I don’t know, uhm, he was bald, I think, or maybe that was some other guy.
CARSON: So, you don’t remember what he looked like?
JOAN: We had a lot to drink. I’m sorry; I don’t. I don’t think Kate liked him very much, and she got rid of him quickly.
CARSON: (clears throat) Did she ever talk about leaving her husband?
JOAN: Yes. I think she was tired of him. She did say in the car on the way here that she wished she could just disappear.
CARSON: So, you think that’s what happened? She just left?
JOAN: (long pause) How the heck am I supposed to know? All I know is that she wasn’t in her bed the next morning like she was supposed to be. We shared a room and thought she’d come home on her own. She didn’t want to go back with us, so we left her there at the bar. At first, we thought she might have gone somewhere, and we waited for her to come back, calling her phone, but she didn’t answer. After we had waited for a very long time and she didn’t come back, we went to the police and said we couldn’t find her. We filed a missing person’s report, and the officers on duty said they’d look for her. They also said she was probably out partying still and that she’d show up eventually. Then, you called us this morning and told us to come in at noon.
CARSON: Okay, Joan. I think we’re about done here. Is there anything you’d like to add to your statement?
JOAN: I don’t think so.
CARSON: Okay. All right. I’m going to go ahead and conclude this interview for now. It’s 1402 hours.
TEN YEARS LATER
My dad waved from the front pew, and we rushed up next to him. Josie plopped down in the seat next to me with an annoyed sigh, staring at her phone from underneath the pulled-up hoodie.
“What took you so long? It’s about to start,” my dad said.
“I’ll have to tell you later.”
I glared at Josie, then shook my head. She had an outfit breakdown this morning. That was why we were late for church. Those weren’t unusual these days, but today had been worse than the other times. She had cried and said she looked stupid in everything and that she felt like a hobo because she was wearing sweatpants. I told her not to wear sweatpants, that it was silly anyway because it was eighty degrees outside.
“But I want to wear them,” she had answered.
“Then wear them. I think you look great.”
“Are you kidding me? I look like a homeless person, or some druggie,” she had then said.
I had stared at her in confusion, not knowing what to say next. It didn’t matter what I tried to say anyway. It would be wrong, no matter what. So, I had shut up, with the result that she had growled at me and told me I didn’t care about her. In the end, I had just told her to get a move on, probably yelling it a little too loudly. And here we were, almost missing the beginning of the service.
Yes, it was true what they said. Age fourteen is a nightmare year for a girl. I had never had a boy, so I couldn’t say what that was like, but this girl was enough teenager for me for the time being.
It’ll pass. She’ll grow older and then it’ll get better.
The worship music began, and we rose to our feet. Josie stayed sitting, and my dad noticed, then pushed my arm and nodded toward her.
I leaned down so she could hear me. “Josie, stand up, please.”
“Why?” she whined. “I don’t like this music.”
“We’re at church, and we stand up and worship just as we stand in respect for God’s word. Come.”
“I can’t. My legs hurt.”
“Your legs hurt?”
“From volleyball, remember? Besides, I can worship just fine while sitting down. God doesn’t care.”
I took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. She had been testing my patience for the past few weeks, and to be honest, I was getting a little tired of it.
“Josie, I need you to get up right now and put that phone away. Now.”
“I just don’t understand why I can’t just sit down and…”
I gave her a look, that look, the one letting her know she had reached the end of the rope. If she continued, she knew that she’d end up getting grounded and her phone privileges taken away.
Reluctantly, she put the phone in the pocket of her hoodie, then rose to her feet.
I took in another deep breath, feeling everything but victorious, then closed my eyes.
God, I need all the strength you can give me today. Please. And tomorrow too and the rest of the week while you’re at it. I have no idea how to deal with this all by myself.
Josie’s mother, my wife Camille, had overdosed three years ago and was left with a brain injury that she was still trying to recover from. She had started rehabilitation, and I had hired a fulltime nurse for her, even though both were way above my budget. She had regained some of her speech and mobility but was still bound to a wheelchair. For three years she was bedridden and in a vegetative state until two months earlier when she suddenly woke up, and we started to communicate with her. She still only said a few words, but her vocabulary was slowly growing, and she was beginning to understand more of what we told her.
But we still didn’t know exactly what happened to her. She had recently managed to communicate to me that someone had tried to kill her, but we hadn’t come any closer as to who or why.
I, for one, was determined to do everything in my power to find out and bring them to justice.
My favorite worship song was next, and I sang along while tears ran down my cheeks. I was so grateful to God for bringing my wife back and for getting my daughter a new heart when she needed it. But there was still so much I didn’t understand, and I felt my faith diminishing as the days passed.
When God, when? When will we get the answers we need? When will these people be brought to justice?
The worst part was that I had also recently discovered that my wife wasn’t who I thought she was. I had stopped a group of human traffickers, taking down a group of my colleagues, smuggling refugees through Miami Harbor from South America and the Caribbean inside appliances. But before he had killed himself, one of the guys I believed was in charge had told me Camille played a role in this. Or that she at least knew it was happening and who was behind it. I wondered now if that was why they had tried to kill her.