Walter made his way upstairs to the room of Roy’s victim. The lithe figure was sprawled across a small futon, a thin pink spread on top of a thinner mattress. Her face was swollen, purple bruises had formed on her narrow face, her eyes closed, and her breathing shallow through busted lips. She groaned and tried to roll over, but the pain kept her flat of her back.
From the shadows of the room, Walter watched the woman. He thought of his one true love, Amber Rae. A tear slid down his left cheek, pooled at his chin and waited for gravity to drag it downward to the soft, plush tan carpet. Rachel came and stood by her cousin. Several moments passed as both watched the woman fight to hold onto life.
“I know you don’t approve of my business, but I try to protect my girls. Sometimes though, this happens when a man gets overwhelmed with his passions.”
“Passion,” Walter said, in a cold voice, “is that what you call this? Hmm? You think passion drives a man to beat a woman to death? It’s not passion you moronic waste of oxygen, it’s hatred. Of course, you’ve always enabled Roy. That’s why you feed his rage and sickness with women who can’t go to the cops.”
“You wouldn’t understand,” Rachel said, as she shook her head. “There are sick people in the world…”
“…And you’re only providing a service…”
They said nothing else, and Walter strode to the side of the bed. The woman’s eyes had swollen shut, and her breathing remained shallow. Walter pulled out his phone and called for an ambulance. It took several moments for the ambulance to arrive, and Rachel went back downstairs.
The paramedics loaded the petite woman upon a gurney and rushed her to the ambulance, and they left in a trail of dust cloud, sirens blaring as they raced into the night. Walter stopped in the foyer, and his eyes met Rachel’s.
“Tell me you didn’t feed Amber Rae to Roy. No, convince me you didn’t.”
For the first time in a long time, tears wet the eyes of Rachel Farnsworth. She took a deep breath and said, “I knew nothing of his plans for Amber. I-I- cuz, I didn’t know what he planned to do to her, or even why.”
“And yet, you did nothing. God only knows how many women we could’ve saved if you had only come forward.”
Without another word, Walter turned and walked out into the night. His mind raced with thoughts concerning the woman who the paramedics had picked up and Amber Rae. He choked back the tears until he climbed into his truck.
But then the dam busted.
Janie left the station and drove home to her apartment in the center of town. A few vehicles sat in the parking asphalt parking lot, and the property manager still hadn’t called in for the streetlamps to get fixed. Looks as if this is a job for Code Enforcement! She climbed out of her Camry and shut the door. As she walked out of the darkness to her doorway, she heard a racket behind her. Janie turned to face the noise when a bottle smashed into her head. Rough hands tore at her sidearm and tossed it onto the ground, and Janie struggled against her unseen attacker.
She felt a rough hand grab her throat and squeeze, then two solid blows crashed into her jaw, and Janie slipped into the warm embrace of unconsciousness.
Roy dragged her to his Raptor, zip-tied her hands behind her back, and tossed her into the floorboard behind his seat. He laughed and sped out of the parking lot into the night. The boys waited at the swamp, as did the gators, but first they’d party with their guest.
Then, he’d show her what he’d planned for her.
Walter returned to the station, but it was empty. He dialed the number for Chief White but thought better than to disturb him at this late hour. He’d see them all soon enough, but decided he’d go by and make sure Janie had made it home.
The beams of his headlights cut through the darkness of the parking lot, coming to rest upon Janie’s Camry. By the front fender was an unbroken whiskey bottle, near the back tire was Janie’s sidearm. Walter dialed Chief White’s phone and waited. It rang six times before the temporary chief answered.
“Hello,” he muttered into the phone.
“Chief, it’s Walter. Janie’s gone. I’m at her apartment. She was attacked, I have her sidearm and there’s signs of a struggle. Roy’s got her.”
White was awake now. “I’m on my way, Walter. Call the others, no one rests until we find our girl.”
Walter called Artemis and between the two of them, they called in the others. Soon, the parking lot was full of police officers, including Sara Dimpleton and Mary Anne. Chief White stood in the center of their gaggle, and everyone grew quiet.
“For too long the people of Angie has suffered Roy Darnell Carver. He’s got our detective, and the Lord only knows what he’s got planned for her. We need to find her. I want three-man teams out there looking for her. Walter, do you have any ideas where he’d take her?”
“I’d suggest two teams search town, it’s not big. She’s my partner, and I’ll head to the swamp. Once the town is cleared, join me in the swamp.”
Mary Anne sighed and said, “This is just like that case of what’s her name…Amber Rae, wasn’t it? From high school? This whole thing reeks of her case years ago.” No one said anything, least of all Walter. The conversation dropped when no one answered her question.
White and Walter stood to the side and waited for the teams to match up and leave. White looked at Walter and said, “I’m going with you, and while we’re going you should tell me of Amber Rae.”