Run run as fast as you can (Emma Frost #3)Willow Rose
AS FAST AS YOU CAN
Emma Frost #3
Copyright Willow Rose 2013
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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SHE FELT LIKE someone was watching her. Simone Beaumont turned her head and looked around the parking lot behind the store selling children's clothes, where she had just found a new winter jacket for her oldest son. In her arms, she was holding Liv, her nine-month-old baby.
Simone didn't like the feeling of being watched, but the parking lot was empty except for one other car parked far away from hers. It was late in the afternoon and the sun had gone down an hour ago. Simone grunted and looked up at the dark sky above her. How she loathed these Danish winters with all the darkness. Simone loved the sun, but as soon as they reached the end of September, it got darker really fast and there was a long time of darkness ahead of them. That was the worst part about November. It was always so grey and dark and rainy. Last year it rained for twenty-five days in a row in November. Simone really hoped that wouldn't be the case this year.
"Come on sweetie, let's go home," she said to Liv, who she held in her arms, as she opened the door to her car. Liv was grumpy and complained when Simone put her in her car seat. She never did like the stupid seat and Simone had a struggle every time.
"No. No, Liv. You need to be strapped down," she said to her daughter with a firm voice. Simone's neck hurt and she put a hand on it to massage it. It had been like this for months now. Maybe she should see a doctor about it after all?
Finally she managed to hold her daughter still long enough to strap her down properly. Simone moaned in pain and moved her head slowly. She knew perfectly well why she hadn't gone to see her doctor about this yet. She was so afraid that he was going to tell her it was a whiplash injury.
Simone had been certain the neck problems would disappear on their own, but eight months after the accident, they still hadn't.
"There we go, Liv," she said to her whining daughter, who clearly wasn't happy about having to sit in the seat. "Now let's go home."
Simone closed the door to the car. She paused before opening her own door and looked at her daughter through the window. Her mouth was wide open and, through the glass, she could hear her crying.
Just going to be one of those things you have to ignore.
Why was it that nothing about having children was easy? Why hadn't anyone told her up front how hard it was going to be?
Nobody tells you about the constant crying and the pressure and stress. No one. Simone had to learn on her own. In the beginning, she thought there was something terribly wrong with Liv since she cried so much and Anthony never cried like that when he was a baby. But then, she met other women in her mother's-group and they told her that it wasn't Liv who had something wrong, it was Anthony who had just been a very quiet child. Their little babies cried too and drove them nuts every now and then.
Simone sighed and stared at her crying daughter. She really didn't want to have to listen to that all the way home. Thank God for her mothers’ group. Without them she would have run away a long time ago. She liked all four of the other girls in that group, even Lisa. Even if she did tend to be a little too perfectionistic every now and then and brag about how healthy she was and how she couldn't understand how anyone could feed their kids gluten. She did make some nice smoothies, though, and she often brought some for the group to taste. They were really good.
Simone felt eyes on her again and turned to look one last time.
It's just your mind playing tricks on you, Simone. Like yesterday when you felt like someone was looking at you through your living room window. Let it go before you get all paranoid.
Simone chuckled and shook her head. Her husband Tim had been laughing at her for the past week, telling her how paranoid she was and asking where it suddenly came from.
"I don't know. It's just this feeling," she had tried to explain to him, but she knew by the look in his eyes that he didn't understand. He didn't want to understand. Ever since they had Liv, he thought of her as some over-compulsive, obsessive, neurotic woman who was constantly on the verge of losing her mind completely. It was true that her behavior had been quite irrational, especially after an incident earlier this year where she thought she had lost Liv. Yes, it had left her feeling a little overly protective of the girl, but so what? Wasn't that only natural after almost losing your daughter?
Simone shook her head once again and felt the excruciating pain in her neck. She drew in a deep breath considering, just for a short second, just running away from everything. She really didn't want to sit in the car listening to her baby scream all the way home, nor did she want to go back to the house and face Tim. Their fight last night hadn't made things better. She was still angry with him and hadn't spoken to him all morning. But it wasn't just the fight that made her reconsider her future with him. It was more the way he constantly made her feel like she was all wrong.
Simone reached out to grab the door-handle when she heard a sound coming from behind her. With a small gasp, she turned around, not thinking about the pain in her neck anymore, and looked directly into the eyes of a man. He was smiling in a daunting manner.
"You’re the one who’s been watching me, aren't you?" she asked, surprised by her own courage.
The man didn't answer. Instead he reached out his hand and grabbed her, covering her mouth and nose with a strong-smelling cloth. The last thing Simone heard before she blacked out was the sound of her daughter crying helplessly inside the car.
THOMAS WAS WHISTLING while putting on his jacket. He glanced at himself in the mirror and corrected his hair one last time, then picked up the bouquet of flowers. He smiled and held them high, pretending to give them to her.
"These are for you, Ellen," he said.
No, no. Don't smile like that. It makes you look creepy. You're supposed to be nice, remember?
Thomas exhaled and looked at his own reflection. Was he kidding himself? He was so ugly it almost hurt and she was so beautiful, he had no words for it. Yet, she had still chosen him hadn't she? He was the lucky guy who she had set her sights on; he was the one she wanted. He knew he was. He had seen it in her eyes when she looked at him and smiled. And things had been well between them ever since that day she walked out of the bank and they bumped into each other accidentally. She had dropped the papers in her hand and he had helped her pick them up afterwards. Then, she smiled at him and their eyes locked. Ever since that day, Thomas's life had been turned upside down. Nothing was ever the same again. He couldn't sleep, he couldn't work, and he could hardly eat anything. All he did was think of her and her spectacular blonde hair. Thomas couldn't remember ever feeling like this before and had started wondering if this was it. Could this be the real deal? Could this be true lo
The thought made Thomas blush and smile again. He glanced in the mirror and saw his own reflection. Once again he was struck by his own hideousness and the feeling of despair hit him like so many times before.
How could she ever love a buffoon like you?
Thomas exhaled deeply again, then turned away from the mirror and started walking outside. It didn't matter how he felt about himself. As long as she was in his life, nothing could bring him down; he wasn't going to listen to those voices inside of him telling him he was no good, that he would never be loved.
"Everybody deserves to be loved," he mumbled as he walked outside through the rain towards his car.
He put the flowers on the passenger's seat and drove off towards her house in the town of Nordby on Fanoe Island. The wipers were whispering in the rain. It was like the sky was crying, but it didn't matter to Thomas. Today he wasn't going to be depressed or discouraged by anything. He was going to see his loved one and nothing was going to ruin his perfect mood. He was happy for once in his life.
Thomas parked the car on her street, then looked out the window through the raindrops. The curtains in all the windows were shut. Thomas smiled. That was her secret signal for him. Only the two of them knew what it meant. Thomas felt butterflies in his stomach. Being close to her always did that to him. He had a great night planned for the two of them. He had reserved a table at La Petite Cuisine downtown, even if it was a little too expensive for him; then they would take a stroll down to the port and watch the ferry come in. It looked so beautiful at night with all its lights. Thomas had always loved the port. His own dad used to take him down there on Sundays to buy an ice-cream and watch the ferry come in from the mainland. Thomas still remembered looking at all the cars as they drove off the ferry and all the happy people walking from the deck and onto the quay. His dad would tell him that the island lived off of these tourists and we should be very happy that they came and brought all their money with them. The port and the ferry had been a big part of Thomas' life and still were. His dad had worked as a port-engineer and so did Thomas. He wanted Ellen to know and to see the beauty of the ferry like he did. He knew she would understand why this place was so important. She would see it because he did. She would love it because he did.
Thomas drew in a deep breath, then opened the door to the car and stepped outside in the pouring rain, holding the flowers in his hand. He ran towards Ellen's house, but then something happened that made him stop. The door opened and Ellen came out, but she wasn't alone. She was with somebody and seeing them together made everything stop inside of Thomas. The person stepping outside the door with her was a man. A tall and very handsome man. He smiled widely, then leaned over and kissed her passionately on the lips. Thomas felt like his heart had stopped.
I rolled my suitcase into the living room and spotted Maya sitting next to my dad, reading a book. Victor was sitting on the floor writing numbers in his notebook, something he had done a lot lately.
"Hello? Is anyone home? I'm back," I said.
My dad lifted his head and smiled. Maya did the same. "Hi mom," she said.
"How was your trip?" my dad asked.
"Great," I said and threw my jacket on the back of the chair. "Don't I get a welcome home hug?"
Maya rolled her eyes, then got up and gave me a reluctant hug. I took it and held her tight. I had missed her like crazy and, even if it was a reluctant hug, I was taking what I could get. Especially since I wasn't going to get one from Victor.
"Mmm, I missed you," I said, as she tore herself free from my arms. She rolled her eyes at me again.
"Mom, you were only gone for a week."
My dad gave me a kiss on the cheek. "So did you find any of the lost children?" he asked as we sat down. It felt so good to be back home again. A week in Poland will make you appreciate your own home a little more, especially the parts of Poland I had been through.
I shook my head. "No. We got a little closer, though. We tracked one of the girls, Tenna, who disappeared in 1998 to a small brothel in a small town called Poznan. But the trail ended there, unfortunately. No one remembered her or knew what had happened to her since then. So, I guess we're back where we started."
My dad exhaled and leaned back in the couch. Maya put her head on his shoulder. The two of them had gotten really close lately and it pleased me immensely, even if I was a little jealous. It was good for her to have a male role model now that her dad had pulled out of her life completely.
"It's like finding a needle in a haystack, huh?" he said.
"It is. But I have a feeling that it will happen one day. I mean these girls can't just have disappeared, can they?"
"Well … yes, as a matter of fact, they can," my dad said. "Not to try and destroy your hope, but they could have been killed and buried in the ground without anyone blinking. They were stolen and sold as slaves to people who did what they pleased with them. People who have no respect for human lives. Did you at least get some stuff for your next book?"
I nodded. "I have so much material, it's overwhelming. Did you see that Miss Polly Had a Dolly hit the bestselling list this week?"
My dad nodded. "Yes and I'm very proud of you. I can't believe you now have two national bestsellers."
I chuckled. "Me either." I looked at my dad. I was happy to see him so calm, even if he was still suffering from his broken heart.
"Talked to your mom lately?" he asked.
"I called her from Poland. She invited us to Spain, but, as usual, I refused. Told her we don't have time."
"You should go, Emma. Don't punish your mother for the rest of her life. You'll regret it when she’s gone."
"Do you regret not having spent more time with your mother after all she did to you?" I asked.
My dad shrugged. "I guess not. But still. She is your only mother."
"I hate her for leaving you," I said.
My dad sighed. "Hate is such a strong word. I'm angry with her too, but I still think you need her in your life."
"That might be true, but I'm too busy now to go visit her. Besides, the kids have their school and, with the new book, I want to write about the parents searching for their lost children; I really can't see when I will be able to go."
"I have to say, I'm really looking forward to this one," he said.
"You should see them, Dad. That look in their eyes, the small hope that they might find their daughter again. It's so heartbreaking, especially when the search doesn't lead to anything. But they have been so grateful. Tenna's parents, whom we followed on this trip, were just so thankful that we had found out more about where their daughter had been. I just wish we had found her."
"And how was travelling with Officer Bredballe?" Maya asked teasingly.
"Morten has been so great through everything. He's the one doing all the work, really. I only tag along and interview the parents along the way. He's the one tracking the girls down, through police channels and helpers in the Polish underground. It's like a puzzle, but he has been amazing."
"I bet he has," Maya said.
I ignored her remark. Yes I had been travelling a lot with Morten these last months on these trips and, yes, we had had several dinners and talked for hours in the hotel lobbies, but that was all.
I got up from my chair, then walked over and kneeled next to Victor. "Hi buddy. Mommy's back. How have you been?"
Victor didn't even look at me. I wondered if he had even noticed that I had been gone. He kept writing numbers in his notebook like it was the most important thing in the entire world. I sighed, and rose to my feet again. "So what does a girl have to do to get a cup of coffee around here?"
LISA RASMUSSEN WAS running as fast as she could on the treadmill at the local fitness center in Nordby. In the body-sized mirrors covering the walls, she could see her butt that still seemed three sizes bigger than before she had her third
She had moved to Fanoe Island less than a year ago and was still adjusting to the island lifestyle here. She did enjoy the wide sandy beaches and the fresh cold air blowing from the North, making her feel refreshed and strong again. But everything seemed so small here and people were just so … so incredibly slow. It annoyed her to have to wait for her lunch at the café Mimosa, the only one serving organic, low-carb and fat-reduced, non-gluten food on the entire island. It annoyed her that there was only one supermarket in the entire town and that they didn't sell her favorite brand of tofu.
Lisa sighed as she stopped running. She showered and gathered her things, then drove home. Her nine-month-old baby was whining in the backseat and Lisa tried to calm her down by singing her favorite song.
Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Margrethe seemed to calm down a little once she heard her mother's gentle voice. It pleased Lisa. She parked the car in the garage, then took Margrethe out of her car seat. She started whimpering again, then she gripped Lisa's hair and pulled it. It hurt, but Lisa kept calm.
Once inside, she put Margrethe in the playpen, then started making dinner. One after another, Amalie and Jacob came home and she fed them sandwiches before she told them to go upstairs and do their homework.
Christian came home a little past six o'clock and wanted a beer before dinner, but Lisa told him he couldn't have it.
"It'll ruin your appetite."
Grumbling he went to the living room and turned on the TV. The new job was going well for him. That was why they chose to move there, because of a job offer he couldn't resist. Lisa was pleased to be able to support his career. She used to have one too, but since they had Amalie eleven years ago, she had stopped working at her career, wanting to be there for her family. It was very unusual in Denmark, where all women seemed to want big careers.