Chaos and Courage (The Vampires of Shadow Hills Book 10), Page 2Willow Rose
"Help!" Amy yelled. "Someone!"
A guard approached her, holding his stick in his hand, the electricity crackling at the end of it. Amy pulled back, knowing how badly it hurt to be hit with those things.
The guard smiled a lipless smile. "Yes?"
"The girl needs help," Amy said and nodded toward Alice. "She needs to go to the bathroom."
The guard laughed. "And while she's at it, maybe she'd like a pedicure too, huh? Or a soda by the pool, huh? What do you think this place is, a resort, huh? She can go in her pants."
Amy felt anger rise in her and her nostrils vibrating. She closed her eyes and dampened her anger. This was no time to get out of control. She had done that too much while trapped in here and it only got her in trouble. She had to stop it from happening no matter how hard it was.
Keep it down. Don't give them a reason to hurt you. Don't do it, Amy. Think of something relaxing, something pleasant.
Amy pictured Kipp and their time by the lake when they had kissed, and he had told her he loved her dragon just as much, if not more, than her human. It had been such a beautiful moment…one she wanted to remember every detail of, especially when she didn't know if she would ever see him again. The very thought made her want to cry, and she opened her eyes again, staring directly at the guard.
"Is the dragon coming out to play, huh?" the guard said, poking Amy with the stick without turning it on. "Will she, huh? Or do I need to call her? Is there a magic word or phrase, huh? How about Puff the Magic Dragon, please come out and play…will that work, huh?"
The guard kept poking her and Amy had to fight not to explode in anger. The poking hurt, and she pulled away from the bars with a small whimper, while the guard laughed and turned on the stick, then went to Alice and shocked her with it.
"Don't you dare touch her, you monster!" Amy roared and grabbed the bars between her hands.
"And what exactly are you going to do about it, huh?" the guard said and poked Alice again.
Alice screamed in pain. She fell to the ground, crying, and finally, Amy couldn't contain herself anymore. She huffed and puffed and spewed out fire, then turned dragon inside of her cage.
"There she is, ha-ha," the guard said. "There’s the dragon in all its might and ugliness."
He laughed, then poked her with the stick, causing her entire body to shake so violently she turned back human right away and fell to the ground, defeated and beaten.
"Your mom is asking about you, if you're getting proper food and taking care of your school."
I looked at Duncan. We were sitting in my living room. He had arrived around dinnertime, bringing pizza that we ate together.
"Are you?" he asked.
I didn't know what to tell him. I hadn't been in school for many days now, but I couldn't say that. My mom would freak out, and the last thing we wanted right now was her freaking out. I knew I was missing out on a lot of schoolwork, but I'd have to catch up on all that later. I knew my mother wanted me to act like nothing had changed and pretend like my parents were on a business trip in case anyone came to our house, but I couldn't act like nothing had happened. My dad was missing, and I desperately wanted to find him.
Amy's parents had also stopped by earlier and told me they were working on finding Amy, but they had to admit they didn't know where to start. Jayden's dad was helping them appeal to the head of police to release her, but no one seemed to know where she was, or where any of those that were captured that night were. They had no arrest records of them, and it was like they had simply vanished. We all knew the spider-men had her, but they too refused to say anything when Amy's parents addressed them. It was all very strange and hard to navigate. But they were still trying and promised me they'd let me know as soon as they found out more.
"I’m doing my best. You can tell them that much," I said. "Given the circumstances."
I took another bite of the pizza, and he pretended to be eating his, but I knew he didn't care much for this type of food. He too had to stop hunting at night, and I could tell he was hungry. I wondered for a second if he ever thought about my blood and if he would lose control. The thought made me shiver.
"You cold?" he asked.
I shook my head and ate more pizza, thinking about Jayden's visit.
"He was here today, wasn't he?" Duncan asked like he could read my mind, which it sometimes felt like he could.
I nodded, my eyes avoiding his. "He just wanted to check in on me. Wait…how do you know?"
"I just do," he said.
I exhaled. I knew he was keeping an eye on me, and I was grateful for it, but I didn't want him prying in my life. I was allowed to see Jayden if I wanted to. He was my friend.
"Are they planning anything?" I suddenly asked, thinking about what Jayden's mom had asked. "The vampires? A strike against the spiders for what they did?"
Duncan looked away. "I…I can't talk to you about that."
I nodded. He didn't have to say. I could tell they were up to something and, frankly, it scared me. Killing more spiders wasn't exactly going to make all this go away. It would only make things worse.
Was this ever going to end?
We drove to the neighboring town, Scarville, in my car. Jayden was sitting in the passenger seat, whistling cheerfully as we drove through the rugged landscape. Fall had surely hit our area, and dark clouds were hanging low above us while the barren trees had already lost most of their colorful leaves. We had hardly seen the sun all summer, as it had been an unusually cloudy and dark summer, so as I watched the darkness creeping in on us and winter approaching, I missed the sun terribly.
"Just so I understand this completely," Jayden said. "We're trying to find this woman because…?"
"Because she was the girlfriend of Mr. Ward at the time when he found the boy."
"And why again? This was twenty-five years ago?"
"Because in the months that he has no recollection of because of the amnesia, the town experienced a series of attacks on people. They were called animal attacks and people thought it was a wolf or a beast, but the attacks were very similar to the ones we're experiencing now."
Jayden nodded. "Ah, I see. So, you seriously think it's the same killer as it was twenty-five years ago? Don't you think he’d be kind of old by now?"
We drove up in front of the house and parked on the street, then got out. The small wooden house in front of us looked like most of the others on the street, old and worn out, seeming slightly tired of life.
I knocked on the door, and we waited. A woman opened the door.
She nodded. "Come on in."
Jayden and I followed her inside. I had called the day before and asked her if we could stop by.
"So, you're looking for Shirley?" she asked as we closed the door behind us. "Mind if I ask why?"
I looked at Jayden, then back at Yvette Roberts. The house was small, and it didn't seem like anyone lived there but her. No pictures of children or a husband on the walls.
"We're looking into an old murder case," Jayden then answered.
I gave him a look. I hadn't really prepared what to tell her, but I hadn't planned on simply bursting it out like that.
"I see," Yvette said. "I’ve always believed something happened to her, something terrible."
"So, you don't know where she is?" I asked a little disappointed. "Or what happened to her?"
Yvette shook her head. "She was living here with me after her divorce. It was an ugly one; the guy kept coming here begging her to take him back and, well…after a few years and finally getting rid of the bastard, she started dating that police officer, the one you spoke about on the phone…"
"Mr. Ward," I said.
"Yes, Matt. She was so fond of him, even though she was a little on the fence about his trouble with his ex who had taken their daughter to Europe and all. I told her she was being silly, but she kept talking about being afraid that
he was trouble and that was why his ex felt that she had to move far away. But anyway, she dated him for months and grew quite fond of him until he began to change. She told me he started to act strangely when they were together, and she was afraid of him."
"Strange how?" I asked.
"Aggressive. Like one minute he would be very happy, almost ecstatic, and then he would suddenly turn around and become dismissive toward her or condescending…calling her dull and boring and telling her he just wanted to have some fun, and why was she trying to keep him down, stuff like that. He also suddenly turned into a neat freak. Where his house had always been a mess, it was now cleaned to perfection, and everything put in its place. You know. She told me it looked like his towels were lined up using a ruler; they were that straight."
I wrote a few notes on my pad while nodding, remembering what Jayden had told once me about Ruelle. It was all adding up. I still couldn't fit all the pieces in the puzzle, but I was getting closer.
"One day, Shirley simply didn't come home," Yvette said. "I searched for her everywhere, but Matt couldn't remember anything and had suffered amnesia, his doctor had told him. I kept going to the police, and they put out a search for her, but she was never found. I told them I believed Officer Ward had done something to her, but they refused to believe it. What did I expect? He was one of their own. I never knew what happened to her, but I’m certain the bastard killed her. I just can't prove it."
I nodded while wondering.
"Do you still have any of her things?" I asked.
She nodded. "Her things are still in her room. I left it in boxes in case she came back. Guess I should have realized she wasn't going to. I think I just really hoped she would."
"Of course," I said. "Can we take a look?"
"Naturally. It's right in here."
Jayden followed me into the room. The air in there was thick like the windows hadn't been opened in years.
"I put some of her things in boxes over there," Yvette said and pointed. "The rest is in the closet with all of her clothes. I haven't gotten around to cleaning out the closet yet. It just…hurts, you know? Shirley was all I had left of my family since our mother died. Anyway, feel free to look through it all and let me know if you need anything else. I have to go make a phone call to the auto shop; the damn car won't start again."
"We'll be fine," Jayden said, smiling.
Yvette left us and closed the door behind her.
"So…what exactly are we looking for?" Jayden asked.
I looked around the room, feeling slightly overwhelmed. In here, a woman had lived twenty-five years ago, and time had stood completely still ever since. I had a feeling that also went for Yvette. Everything had stopped the moment her sister disappeared. And for all those years, she had just been waiting for things to return to normal, for her sister to show up again. But it hadn't happened, and now she had wasted all these years waiting, hoping. It was so tragic; it almost brought tears to my eyes.
"I actually don't know, if you want me to be honest," I said with a tired chuckle. "There might not be anything here, but I didn't want to leave without at least trying to find something."
"So…basically anything?" he asked, grinning. "That's kind of hard. I mean how will we know if it is something?"
"I don't know."
He tilted his head. "Don't you think you might be in over your head a little here? I mean solving some old murder mystery; how's that going to help your dad?"
I gave him a look. Jayden was beginning to annoy me.
"Just look, okay?"
He threw out his arms. "Okay."
I walked to one of the boxes and opened it, then looked inside. Jayden took another one and stuck his head into it. Mine was filled with CDs, so that wasn't interesting.
"Mine has VHS tapes in it," Jayden said and pulled one out. "I’ve never actually seen one in real life. Look at how big they are."
I opened another box and found books, then closed it again. This was harder than I expected.
"This one is clothes," Jayden said. "Shirts and underwear. Probably from her drawers."
"Yvette said she hadn't emptied her closet yet," I said and turned to look at the closed closet behind me.
"There's nothing here," Jayden said with a deep sigh. "Can't we just go back now? We’re supposed to be in school."
"You wanna go to school?" I asked, puzzled. "That doesn't sound like the Jayden I know."
He grimaced. "Not really, but it's better than this."
"You don't mean that," I said with a chuckle. "Tell me you don't mean that you'd rather be in school right now."
"All right, I don't. But I just think that if I have to skip school, there are lots of other things I would rather be doing. Going through some old stuff that some lady left behind isn't exactly a fun way to spend the day off. Maybe we could do something else?"
He shrugged. "We still have a few hours before school is out. Maybe we could grab something to eat afterward?"
I shrugged, but inside I was feeling thrilled at the prospect of spending time with Jayden and having lunch with him somewhere. I enjoyed being alone with him again.
"Great," he said and rubbed his stomach. "I’m starving. Let's go now."
"Wait a sec," I said. "I just need to finish here."
He sighed and rolled his eyes. "Come on, Robyn. There's nothing here. Let's go."
I stared at the closet for a few seconds while Jayden got ready to leave. He walked to the door, then turned to face me.
"Yes, I am…I just need to…"
"Leave it alone," Robyn," Jayden said. "I swear; you're driving me nuts with this. Let it go."
"I just have to…" I said and walked to the closet, then pulled the door open. A row of dresses and shirts on hangers met me along with a musty almost moldy smell. Jayden came up behind me.
"Wow. A bunch of clothes. How interesting."
I sighed disappointedly. "You're right. There's nothing here."
"Finally. Let's go."
As I was about to turn away from the closet, I spotted something poking out behind the shoes at the bottom of the closet. Jayden was already by the door and had opened it when I reached down and pulled on it.
What looked like an entire body came out following the leg I had seen—a huge deflated body.
"Jayden, come here," I said, gasping as I pulled it out and placed it on the carpet.
He sighed, annoyed. "What?"
"I found s-something."
Hearing the seriousness in my voice, Jayden turned around, then came up behind me. I could hear his breathing getting heavier as he got closer to my ear.
"W-what is that?"
"I-it looks like Mr. Ward," I said and looked up at Jayden's face. His eyes were big and wide.
"At least the skin of him."
We were very quiet in the car as we left Yvette Roberts' street. I was staring at my phone and going through the pictures I had taken of the skin. It still made me shudder when looking at it.
After taking the photos, I had put the skin back in the closet and closed the door, not knowing what else to do. Then we had rushed out of Yvette Roberts’ house. She was still on the phone, so I just yelled thank you, and then we hurried out to the car. Jayden was driving as I felt too upset. He kept staring at the road, almost like he was hypnotized. It had started to rain, and the drops were drumming on the windshield in front of me.
"What do you think they are?" I said. "Those skins?"
He shrugged without looking at me. "Maybe we should forget about it."
I wrinkled my forehead. "Forget about it, why?"
"We're in a little over our heads here, don't you think? Whatever is going on, it's starting to creep me out. I’m not sure I want to know more."
"Are you kidding me right now?" I asked. "People are being killed; my dad is missing? You were kidnapped. How can you not want to know
"I’m just…I’m scared, Robyn," he said and looked at me briefly. His eyes had a sadness in them that startled me.
"Oh," I said. I went quiet, not knowing exactly what to say to him at this moment. He had been face-to-face with this killer; I hadn't. He had every right to be afraid.
"I’m not sure we should go further with this," he said.
"But…but what if this killer has taken my dad and is keeping him locked up the way he did to you?"
"It's too dangerous," Jayden said. "You need to stop this."
I looked out the window while crossing my arms in front of my chest. I had to admit this entire story was giving me the creeps too, but I wasn't ready to give up just because of that. I wanted to know what happened to my dad and hopefully save him. I had to admit I agreed with Jayden in the fact that it was hard to understand how digging through a couple of twenty-five-year-old disappearances would end up helping him, but I just had this feeling that it would. It was kind of like untangling your headphones. You had to start at the beginning and then work your way to the knot, unwrapping one small knot after another until it all cleared up. But, of course, I couldn't expect others to understand.
Jayden drove into a parking lot and stopped the car. I looked up and saw a sign blinking in front of me reading DINER.
We walked inside and sat down. I ordered a cheeseburger and vanilla shake.
We sat in silence while waiting for the food. I didn't really know what to say and feared I would say something that might upset him. I kept looking at the pictures on my phone and thinking about the skin still in the trunk of my car. I had also taken a picture of Shirley that Yvette Roberts had shown me and was looking at that as well. What had happened to her? Why had that skin of Officer Ward been in her closet? And where was she now?
I sighed as the food arrived and we began to eat, realizing I had come to a dead end in the investigation. Maybe this wasn't getting me anywhere after all. Maybe Jayden was right, and I needed to let it go.