Alone In The Darkness is a novel I wrote in early 2016. I will be releasing a new chapter every Monday and Friday, starting on July 18th 2016. If you enjoy the book and would like to support me please click the link and purchase my book through Amazon. You can also find my book on the mobile reading apps: Wattpad, Jukepop, and Inkitt.

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Chapter Twelve

 

Antonia called out from the kitchen, “Would you like any coffee? I have a pot left over.”

Officer Conners looked up from the coffee table covered with tabloid magazines, “Yes ma’am, it’s been a long day and I’d love a little.”

“Cream and sugar?”

“Just cream, thank you.” Antonia shakily reached up to her cabinet clinking the glasses. She pulled out the pot filling the cups carefully and adding cream to both. She walked around the corner and carefully set the cup onto the table brushing aside a magazine with her pinky finger.

“Sorry the table is a little messy.”

“That’s not a problem.” He smiled, took the cup, and sipped. It took all his effort not to show his displeasure. The coffee was old and burnt and no amount of cream could rescue it. He placed the cup down onto the table and pulled out his notebook and pen. “Thank you, it’s very tasty.”

Antonia took a long drink from the cup and stared at the notebook, “She should be home by now. That voice on the phone. She sounded like she was in pain. It wasn’t my Jennifer.”

“I know. We’ll work with you to get as much information as we can and we’ll see where it takes us.”

“I just want her home.”

“The best thing to do is try and recreate where she might have gone.”

“When I first called her she was on her way home from the bar.”

“This is Jake’s in north Everett?”

“Yeah, she’s worked there for a while now, ever since she moved in with me. She’d just gotten out of a bad relationship. She left him and came up here to get away.”

“This man that she used to live with, does she still talk to him?”

She shook her head, “No she promised never to talk to him again. She relapsed in the past, but he got violent which pushed her to leave and come home. He lives down in Portland, just east of the city. I think Jennifer said he is working at a salvage yard. I don’t know if he’s still there.” The cup came her to mouth and she sipped again.

“Ok, so as far as you know this man hasn’t come up to the Seattle area?”

“I haven’t heard her talk about him in a long while so I would imagine he is still in the Portland area. His name is Ronald Trace. His friends call him RT for short. Sort of like the name Artie”

“Ok.” Conners took down the notes, “You wouldn’t happen to have a picture I could pass around?”

She walked to the end table and pulled out the drawer. She pushed aside papers and old photos, “I should really clean this place up.” She ran through a number of photos before stopping and picking up a small photo, “Here he is.”

She reached out and passed it to the officer, “Thank you, I assume that this is Jennifer in the image?” She nodded. ”May I take this with me? I will return it.”

“That’s not a problem. You can probably keep it, I figure she doesn’t care about images of him anymore. I’m actually surprised we still have one. He was a handsome man, but a real jerk. He never treated her right, in my opinion.”

The officer smiled and tucked the image into the notebook. He looked up, “Do you know if this man drove a Honda sedan of any sort?”

“RT? No, no, that man wouldn’t be caught dead with a car. He was a truck man, I remember that. He loved his trucks. Fords I think.”

Conners nodded. “So after she left work she was heading where?”

“She told me she needed to run to the bank and do a couple of errands.”

“Is it normal for her to do that after work?”

Antonia smiled and nodded, “She likes to put her tip money into the bank. She’s had money problems in the past and it was her goal to start saving. If she had it on her, oh my, she would just spend it. You know how that is sometimes. She’s been doing better about money now. She has been controlling her spending and I am real proud of her.”

“So this is her tip money. Is that typically a lot of money?”

“Normally she earns a hundred dollars or so every day between the coffee hut and the bar. Its real good money if you don’t have many bills or someone to take care of. She is staying here with me right now and I’m not charging her any rent.”

“I understand.” Conners wrote into his notebook.

“She had just saved up enough money to go on one of them Alaska cruises. You know the ones that take you out of Seattle and head up north?” Conners nodded. “She was going to go on one of them in a few months. She was so proud of herself for doing that.”

Conners nodded as he continued to write.

Antonia began to tear up, “She’s never been on that type of vacation before and she was so excited. At least once a week I would see her on the computer looking up pictures and seeing what was on the dinner menus.” Her hand came up to her eye as Conners looked down and wrote in his notebook. “I’m just so happy she was getting the time to do this. She really earned it.”

“Well, I hope she still gets to go on this trip,” Conners tried to reassure her. “Something that could help us is knowing which bank she uses.”

Antonia recovered from tearing up, “She uses a nice little credit union bank off the 9 here in Lake Stevens. I think it is called Northern Sound Credit Union. I think there is an ATM that is open all night that takes cash.”

“Ok, so this is where we think she was heading after the bar?” Antonia nodded again, “We’ll check with the bank to see if there might have been any activity during that time. There might even be some footage of her if she used the ATM. It will help us better pin-point the timeline. We won’t be able to get any additional information until the morning when the branch opens.”

“Maybe there’s some type of camera or something?”

“Exactly. Now, can you tell me about the phone call?”

“She was late. Later than I would expect. I just waited on my porch, hoping she would come rolling up. I gave up waiting and finally called her. The phone rang and rang and she eventually picked it up and yelled,” Antonia’s voice cracked. “She yelled ‘Help’ real loud. It sounded as if she was away from the phone. Like she was on speaker phone or something. There was a lot of noise before it went silent.”

“Any idea what that noise might be?” Conners asked.

“It could have been road noise or wind noise. I think it did sound a lot like that, but a lot of wind. Maybe a window was rolled down in the car.” Conners furiously scrawled in his notebook.

Conners leaned over and reached into his back pocket pulling out his leather bound wallet. He opened the wallet and pulled out a thin white card. He turned the card over and wrote a series of numbers on the back and passed it forward. “On the back of the card is my cell phone number. If you hear anything from her, please let me know.”

Antonia took the card and held it with both hands, “I will, thank you for your help.”

Conners stood up and began to put his jacket on, “There was one more thing, do you know or has Jennifer ever mentioned a man by the name of Steven Pfeffer?”

Antonia looked down and her lips pursed to the side, “I don’t think so, I haven’t heard that name before.”

“It would have been a white man, about five ten, and in his mid-twenties, very thin.”

“No, that name’s not familiar. She doesn’t tell me if she has a date or boyfriend or anything. You would think she would want me knowing about that. I’m her grandmother and I’ve got a right to know.”

“Alright,” Conners smiled. “We are going to try and locate her phone since it’s still ringing. We will get back to you if we find anything.”

Antonia nodded and Officer Conners opened the door walking out past the porch to his unmarked car. He got into the car and gave a light wave to the woman standing on the porch. He turned the car on and drove down the street rounding the corner. He pulled up on the side of the road and dialed a number on his cell phone. It rang in his ear, “Hello Officer Conners, what can I do you for?”

“I just got done talking to an old woman whose granddaughter didn’t come home tonight. She thinks she heard her granddaughter scream for help on the phone.”

“A kidnapping case?”

Conners’ eyes drifted around the street. In the distance he could see a man walking slowly up the sidewalk, “Yes, and the woman who is missing happens to work at Jake’s. She was last heard on a cell phone call around the time our Honda was found.”

“Related?”

“Possibly, we’ll have to see, but according to her grandmother, she’s never heard of Steven Pfeffer. The girl also has a recent nasty ex-boyfriend, but he is supposedly down in Portland.”

“Do you think Steven might have hitched a ride?”

The man continued to walk up the sidewalk, his head down and feet shuffling. A ski cap was pulled down across his forehead and his eyes were fixed on the headlights, “The grandmother talked to Jennifer on her way home and she didn’t sound stressed. Only the second call sounded worrisome.”

“Alright, we’re looking for possibly a man and a woman.”

“I’ll email in all of the notes and descriptions and we can push that out to the field.” The man now passed the side of the car and bent slightly revealing the whites of his eyes to Conners. They stared at each other for a brief moment as he passed the window. Conners’ hand moved to his waist and his fingers touched the butt of his gun. Conners followed the man in his rearview mirror as he continued on down the street.

“No problem, I’ll wait for your email.”

The phone call ended and Conners sat in his car. He closed his eyes. His mind drifted to Jake’s where he could see a lovely young woman walking out of the bar and down the street to her car. His eyes opened and he shifted into drive and pulled off down the street.

 

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