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CHAPTER THIRTEEN: front stoop

“Wait, you said her name is June Spencer. So, she’s alive?” “Yeah.”

Josie’s relief quickly turned to unease. June had been missing for a year; that was a long time to be in captivity. She couldn’t even imagine what the girl had been through. The nausea she had fought earlier came back with a vengeance. Her body folded in half, and she puked up what was left of the tequila on her front stoop.

“Jesus,” Ray said, putting a comforting hand on her lower back. She wriggled away from him.

“Don’t touch me,” she snapped. “Are you okay?”

She stood upright, fighting a wave of dizziness, and swiped at her mouth with the back of her hand. “I’m fine. How is June?”

“She’s catatonic.” “What do you mean?”

Ray continued to look at her like he was face to face with a wild animal. He reached out as if to touch her and then shrunk back when she glared at him. “I mean, she’s catatonic,” he said. “The lights are on but no one’s home. She won’t talk, won’t react or respond. When you look into her eyes, it’s like she’s looking right through you. But the doctor said she’s neurologically intact.”

Josie reached up with both hands and attempted to smooth down her hair as she tried to comprehend. She really needed a hot shower and some coffee. “Where is she now?”

“Denton Memorial. She’s in good shape, they said. Physically. Strong, actually. This pervert must have fed her pretty well. But  they  had  to check her out. Do a rape kit and all,” Ray said.

She dropped her hands, leaned against the doorjamb. She needed

water. She wanted to sit down, brush her teeth, change her clothes, and take some Alka-Seltzer, but she didn’t want to invite Ray in. “Who was he?”

“Donald Drummond. He lived in a house across town, on 7th Street. Used to be his mother’s house. After he got out of prison, he lived with her there till she passed.”

Josie knew the name, and the street. She kept a mental list of all the registered sex offenders in Denton, and her own list of suspicious men. “The big guy?”

“Yeah, huge. Almost seven feet tall, and not lean muscle, that’s for sure.”

“Did he go willingly?”

She was trying to imagine how many Denton police officers it must have taken to cuff Donald Drummond when Ray said, “No, he didn’t. Chief shot him in the chest. Took three rounds to take him down.”

She didn’t feel bad for him; she only wished she had been there to see it, that she had been first through the door. The department must be in dire straits if the chief had been on the scene. She’d been on the Denton PD for five years and had never seen him outside the station house except for the holiday party, and the couple of times he’d gone to get his ATV so he could lend it to the department.

“Holy shit,” was all she could muster.

Ray gave her something between a smile and a grimace. “Yeah, it was intense.”

“Where was she? Where was he keeping her?”

“Second-floor bedroom. He had it outfitted like a cell. Reinforced. She never had a chance. Chief’s got a bunch of people tearing the place apart looking for others.”

She shifted her weight, trying to relieve her injured leg which throbbed no matter how she stood. She was going to need something stronger than ibuprofen soon. Maybe more tequila. “Others?”

“Yeah, like in the yard and shit. They’re waiting on cadaver dogs now. We have to dig the whole yard up, make sure there are no bodies buried back there. Chief’s worried maybe he took Isabelle Coleman too.”

“Was there anything fresh in the backyard? Like he was digging back there recently?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Of course there wasn’t. It didn’t make sense. This guy had kept June for a year. Isabelle had been missing for six days. Why would he dispose of her so soon if he was a collector? No, Isabelle had been abducted by

someone else. Which only increased the nausea roiling in Josie’s stomach. Ray looked like he might try to touch her again. “You know, you can invite me in. I don’t have to be back for two more hours.”

Josie raised a hand as if to ward him off. “No,” she told him. “I don’t want you in here.” The hurt on his face stirred up some guilt for her until she remembered exactly why she didn’t want him in her house in the first place. “If you’ve got two hours, why aren’t you spending it with your girlfriend? The only way I’m letting you into this house is to sign the divorce papers.”

He looked at the ground. “It’s just, I needed to talk to you about me and Misty, especially after what you did last night.”

Rage shot through her. “That’s all you care about, isn’t it? Never mind everything that’s going on in this town. All you care about is your girlfriend and making sure I leave her alone. Yet, you won’t sign the papers. I don’t get you, Ray. Why are you doing this? I did nothing wrong. Nothing! Why are you doing this to me?”

Her voice had become unusually high-pitched and loud. Unbidden tears stung her eyes, spilling onto her cheeks and making her humiliation complete. She reached out and used both hands to shove his chest as hard as she could. “I hate you!” she screamed.

He didn’t fall, he didn’t turn or walk away. He absorbed the force of her hands and let it push him back a couple of steps, and then he stepped forward again, offering his chest. He kept his hands at his sides, not bothering to block her blows. She shoved him a few more times and he took it. He kept his eyes cast downward, a gesture of humility. She needed to push and he let her. That he still knew what she needed, and gave it to her willingly, only made her feel worse. Her hands fell to her sides. She felt deflated, sick, and more exhausted than she could ever remember feeling. Bile and tequila burned the back of her throat.

“Go away, Ray.”

They were halfway down her driveway. He picked up his hat and walked toward the street where his car was parked. “Maybe another time,” he muttered.

He got to the end of the driveway, his hand on his door handle, before turning back to her. “Wait a minute,” he said. “You already knew who June Spencer was, didn’t you?”

She said nothing.

His hand dropped away. “How did you know?” She refused to answer.

“Jo,”  he   said.  “Tell  me   you   haven’t  been   running   your   own

investigation.”

“I found an acrylic nail near the Coleman’s mailbox,” she said. He shook his head. “Jo. Jesus.”

“It’s pink—hot pink—with yellow stripes. I’ll send you a picture later.”

“Don’t,” he said. He pointed a finger at her. “Don’t do anything else. The chief will have your ass if he finds out. I told you about June Spencer as a courtesy, because I knew you’d see it on the news later and call me, and because Dirk Spencer was in the car that almost killed you yesterday. But I’m telling you right now to stop.”

She went on as if he hadn’t spoken. “You should find out whose it is

—Isabelle’s, her mother’s, a searcher’s? Isabelle wore acrylic nails—I saw photos of her and her friends on her Facebook page. Apparently, she and her friends got their nails done regularly. Anyway, it could be important.”

“I mean it, Jo. You need to stop this. For your own good. Go inside and get some rest. Then call Luke. Take a trip. Get a Netflix subscription. Something. But for God’s sake, leave the Coleman thing alone.”

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Written by Amazing Thing Admin

professional blogger writer

CHAPTER TWELVE: eye sockets

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: state police