There's no place like HOME (Emma Frost Book 8)Willow Rose
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE
EMMA FROST #8
Copyright Willow Rose 2014
Published by Jan Sigetty Boeje
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 Jan Sigetty Boeje
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sigettys Cover Design
Special thanks to my editor Janell Parque
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Toto, we're home. Home! And this is my room, and you're all here. And I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and
- oh, Auntie Em - there's no place like home!
The Wizard of Oz 1939
“WHAT’S THE WORST thing that can happen?”
Jonas looked at Maria with anticipation. She loved his deep blue eyes and curly brown hair. Oh, how she loved him. But she had her doubts. It was a big decision they were about to make. They had just gotten married, and the wedding was expensive. Where they ready to take this step? Could they afford it? Jonas was a dreamer, and not always the most realistic when it came to money. Neither was she.
“Think about it,” Jonas continued. “I know we’re in a little over our heads with this one financially, but it’s the house we’ve dreamt of. It’s the one we want. None of the others made us excited like this one does. And it’s right on the beach. What’s not to love?”
He grabbed the listing from the table and went through the pictures once again. Maria felt a strange sensation in her body. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was. She loved the house. No doubt about it. But, was it too soon? Would it be too hard for them financially? Was it the best choice? It was, by far, the most expensive of the houses they had been looking at. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something inside her told her they shouldn’t do it.
She looked at the pictures over Jonas’s shoulder.
But it’s perfect. It’s beautiful. It’s all you’ve ever dreamt of.
“It might be hard in the beginning,” Jonas said. “Maybe the first couple of years, but I’m soon up for that promotion. I mean, they’ve got to give it to me after all the work I put in on that last case.”
“You did work hard on that one. And you did win it,” Maria said.
“I know. They have to promote me. I’m next in line, the way I see it, and Juhlsen even hinted at it the other day when I was in his office.”
“Yeah,” Jonas paused, and looked with dreaming eyes at the listing. “There is no way they’re not giving it to me. No way. And you just got a job at the library as well. I mean, we are going to make good money for the next several years. We can afford this. I really believe we can. It might be tight for a few years, but that’s all, the way I see it.”
“Really?” Maria said. “You really think we could do it? You think we could buy it?”
She felt a thrill of cold run down her spine. It made her shiver slightly. She was getting more and more excited about this. It was the house of her dreams…more than she could have dared to ever dream of, actually. It was the house she could see herself in. Heck, she could even picture herself having kids there.
So, why was she hesitating? Why was she holding back? It was just this strange sense, this feeling, this unsettling emotion inside of her that made her pause.
Jonas clearly didn’t have any doubts anymore. “So, what do you say?” he asked, as he took her hand in his and kissed the top of it. “Are you onboard?”
“I…I don’t know…” Maria said.
“Come on,” Jonas exclaimed. “Why are you being like this?”
“I just…I don’t know, Jonas. I just feel like…maybe it’s just…I can’t escape this feeling that it’s a bad idea. That’s all.”
“A bad idea? How can buying the house of your dreams be a bad idea?” Jonas said with a slightly indulgent smile. He held her hand tightly and looked her in the eyes. “Listen. I know this is a big step for us. I know how difficult big changes are for you. It’s perfectly understandable. I’m shaking a little myself. This is a big deal. It really is. But this house is perfect for us. It’s screaming for us to move in. Look at this picture. Our new dinning room table that we got for our wedding will be perfect on those old wooden floors. Can’t you see it?”
Maria swallowed before she looked at the picture. Her heart melted. She could see it. She really could. She closed her eyes.
“You see it too, don’t you?” Jonas asked excitedly.
She nodded. “Yes, yes I see it.” She opened her eyes and looked at her handsome husband.
“So, we’re doing it?” he asked.
Maria bit her lip, took one last glance at the picture of the house from the outside, and thought she caught a glimpse of a little girl on a swing hanging from the big tree in the front yard. Everything inside of her screamed not to do it, but she didn’t listen. Instead, she looked at Jonas with a soft smile.
“Yes,” she sighed. “Yes, we’re doing it. We’re buying the house.”
Jonas shrieked happily and kissed her. She closed her eyes and let him hold her in his arms. She tried to imagine them in the house in order to drown out the unsettling thoughts that kept popping up in her mind. It was all just nonsense. It was just her being terrified of change. She had always been like this. It was silly. Jonas was right. What was the worst thing that could happen?
THE FIRST TIME she saw him was on TV. She had read about him in the papers, but on the day the police took him to the courtroom for him to be tried was the first time she saw him.
Like really saw him.
Louise Tanggaard was watching the twenty-four hour news channel while chopping carrots for the stew she was cooking. Actually, she hadn’t been paying much attention to what was said in the broadcast, she wasn’t even looking at the screen when the reporter started talking, but when he suddenly told the viewers that the accused was now approaching the entrance of the courtroom, Louise was filled with an overwhelming desire to look up. She stopped chopping and stared at the screen in her kitchen that she’d had installed to be able to watch TV while eating with her cats, Lurifax and Lorianne. She had no idea what it was that made her stop and look, or what it was that made her keep watching. There was just something…no it was someone who drew her.
He was walking towards the entrance of the old building that was the courtroom in Copenhagen. Next to him, his attorney tried to keep the hordes of reporters and cameramen away. Some of them were yelling their questions out towards him, asking him if he had done it, if he had killed them and dismembered the bodies. They received nothing but a smile from the longhaired guy with the dark sunglasses.
What was it about him that made her look? What was it about this guy? Louise felt so drawn to him, even though she knew he was about to stand trial for having murdered his girlfriend and her two sons from another marriage. She grabbed a chair and stared at the screen, while watching the accused, Bjarke Lund, walk past the cameras. When his lawyer opened the door to the courtroom, Bjarke Lund turned to look directly at the came
ras. He lifted his handcuffed hands and saluted. At that moment, Louise was convinced that he was saluting her, not the journalists. That he somehow knew she was watching.
And she knew, from that second, that she loved him.
The bodies were never found. Maybe he didn’t do it? Maybe he is innocent? No matter what, he must be feeling so lost. So alone.
Louise looked at the screen, as the face of the man she was now convinced she loved, disappeared. Lurifax approached her and jumped into her lap. She caressed him gently, while wondering about this guy. She grabbed the paper from the dinner table and started flipping the pages. There it was. There he was. Bjarke Lund was now looking at her from a black and white picture. Finally, she saw his eyes. He seemed to be looking back at her. The long beard, the ponytail, the leather vest…everything about him signaled bad news, but Louise felt differently. She felt like she understood him, like she knew him.
“You’re just misunderstood, aren’t you?” she asked, as she let one of her long red nails caress the picture. “You just need the right woman to help you get back on track. You’re not such a bad guy. You’re nothing like they say you are. I know you’re different. You’ve just never had anyone take care of you. But I could. I could take good care of you.”
The case was still being covered on TV, and suddenly, Bjarke Lund appeared in an interview which had taken place many years earlier, when he was accused of having killed his own mother. He was just a teenager at the time. The story had been the same back then. Her body had never been found. In the interview, Bjarke Lund had painted his face green with facial paint. “Because this is how the world sees me,” he stated, when the interviewer asked. “As pure evil, like the Wicked Witch of the West. In your eyes, I am the archetype of human wickedness. I have already been judged. I don’t need to stand trial. You have already decided that I did it.”
“So, did you do it?” the interviewer asked. “Did you kill your mother?”
“Have they found her body anywhere? Is she even dead?” Bjarke Lund asked.
“So, you didn’t do it?”
“Do you think I did it?”
Louise watched, as Bjarke Lund kept avoiding answering the question, and couldn’t stop laughing. This guy was smarter than the journalist, and soon the reporter gave up.
Lurifax tried to get her attention by rubbing himself against her. But, for the first time since Lurifax had come to the house on Fanoe Island, his mother had no time for him. She pushed him down and turned up the volume of the TV. Just the sound of Bjarke Lund’s voice alone made everything melt inside of her. Now he was talking about his childhood, growing up with a dominant mother whose many boyfriends often abused him. Louise nodded all through the interview, and knew exactly how he felt. She also knew what he needed.
Killer or not, just like everybody else, this man needed a woman’s love and care.
THE REALTOR WAS waiting outside the house when they arrived. Marie and Jonas looked at each other and smiled. There couldn’t be a happier couple in the world, Maria thought to herself, as Jonas parked the car and they got out.
The realtor smiled widely and dangled the key in front of them, holding it between her long fingernails.
This is it, Maria thought to herself, feeling very excited and smiling from ear to ear. This is really it. You’re officially a house-owner. Married and now with a house. All grown up. If only mom were alive to see you. She would be so proud. So happy for you. This is all you ever dreamt of.
Maria looked at Jonas, then back at the key, still dangling on its chain between the realtor’s fingers.
“Who wants to do it?” she asked.
Maria drew in a deep breath. Should she be the one to take the keys? Or was that a guy thing? Did the man of the house expect to do it?
Jonas looked at her. “Go ahead,” he said. “You be the first.”
Maria felt a tickling sensation. “Really?” She kissed her husband and reached out for the key. She grabbed it and felt its weight. It had been almost two months since they’d signed the papers. Her unease hadn’t gone away completely, but she felt better about their decision with every day that passed, and as she stood there with the key in her hand, every doubt seemed to have vanished. It was just like Jonas had said. It was just worry and fear of change. Jonas had asked her to trust him, and that much, she could do.
“Go ahead,” the realtor said. “Enter your new home.”
Maria glanced at Jonas one last time before she walked towards the big wooden front door that she had adored since their first visit to the house. She could smell the ocean from behind the house. It was one of those rare warm summer days in Denmark. It would be her first time living on an island, but she had always loved the ocean and knew she would enjoy it.
She put the key in and turned it while holding her breath. Then, she pushed the door open.
The light coming from the other side of the house almost blinded her. The huge windows leading to the yard and the ocean brought in so much sunlight it was startling. She gasped slightly and stepped inside. Jonas was right behind her. She felt his hand on her shoulder.
“Welcome home,” he whispered in her ear.
“It’s even more beautiful than I remembered,” she said, slightly choked.
If only mother were here. She would have loved it.
The realtor entered behind them. “Home sweet home,” she chirped, and closed the door behind them.
Jonas kissed Maria on the cheek. Then he walked past her into the living room. “I told you there would be room for your mother’s old chair in the corner,” he yelled.
She followed him into the living room. He stood in the corner, smiling. “See? We can put it right here. And then the couch over here, and the TV on the wall like this. It’s going to be perfect. You see it?”
“I do,” Maria said. “It’s going to be perfect.”
Jonas clapped his hands together. “The truck will be here in an hour. Time enough for us to empty the car first. Let’s get to it.”
The realtor thanked them and wished them the best of luck in their new home, then she left. All day, Jonas and Maria worked on furnishing their new home. With every chair and every piece of their life that was put into place, Maria felt more and more at home. Especially around noon when some of the neighbors dropped by with a bottle of wine and some home baked buns to welcome them to the neighborhood. That almost brought her to tears, and she couldn’t wait to get to know all of them better.
By the end of the afternoon, they had all their furniture in place, with help from the moving company, and they were alone at last for the first time. Now, it was just the two of them. Two young newlyweds with the beginning of an entire new life in front of them. It was both exciting and a little scary, Maria thought, while standing in the bedroom, surrounded by mountains of boxes and bags. She couldn’t wait to get all these things into their places and to decorate the house and make it their home. She couldn’t wait for them to start an everyday life here. A life where they went off to work in the morning, and couldn’t wait to get back to their cozy home in the afternoon. She could see herself having a life in this house. She really could. She could see herself having children here; she could see herself grow old here.
Jonas was right. It is perfect for us. Everything about it is just so…perfect.
They unpacked until darkness fell on the house, and they ordered a late night pizza from a nearby pizzeria. When it arrived, they sat on the carpet in front of the fireplace in the living room and ate out of the box. Their bodies were sore from carrying, and so tired from a long, but joyfull, day. Jonas had brought a bottle of champagne that he now opened. He filled their plastic cups.
“A toast,” he said, and lifted his glass. “To our new home.”
“No place like it,” Maria said, and they sipped their champagne.
They sat in silence for a little while, just staring at the high-vaulted living room with the huge windows leading to th
e yard and the beach. Outside, it was now dark…at least as dark as it got at this time of year, when the Nordic Lights kept the nights bright. It was getting late.
Maria felt tired. Exhausted even. But happier than ever. Jonas leaned over and kissed her neck. She closed her eyes and enjoyed his touch. She loved him so much. So deeply.
“I love you so much, Maria. I can’t wait for the rest of our life.”
His hand opened a couple of buttons on her shirt.
“It’s a little late,” Maria groaned. “And I’m exhausted. Aren’t you tired?”
“Mmmm…” Jonas continued. He opened the rest of the buttons on her shirt and pulled one of her breasts out of her bra.
“Jonas. I’m really tired …” she didn’t mean it, and he knew it. They still hadn’t reached the point in their marriage when they stopped being all over each other. She loved his touches, and she wanted him all the time. Even now, when she was so worn out she could hardly move her body.
She wanted to have sex with him in their new house for the first time. Just not like this. Not on the floor. The bed was set up in the bedroom, and she wanted them to go in there.
Maria opened her eyes to tell him, but as she did, she let out a scream. Jonas jumped.
Maria closed her shirt and held a hand against her breasts to cover herself up. “I saw something,” she said.
“What?” Jonas asked.
“I don’t know. It was out there, in the yard somewhere. Something was moving.”
Jonas combed his hair back with his hand. Then he laughed. “It was probably just a cat or a squirrel or something.”
“No,” Maria said. “It was bigger. It looked like a person.”
“You’re just being paranoid again,” Jonas said. “Who in their right mind would be out in our yard at this time of night? I tell you, it was nothing. Or maybe it was someone. Maybe it was one of the neighbors looking for their dog or cat that has run off or something. This is a safe neighborhood, Maria. You met them today. They were nice people. Nothing strange about them. Heck, they even gave us wine and buns. Besides, this is an island. There’s only one way to get here and to leave here. There can’t be much crime. Not successful, that is.”