Violet Skinner was more than shocked, she was horrified. The sense of betrayal and violation hit her in the solar plexus like a body slam. Who? Why? The sight rocked her back on her feet just inside her front door. The doors and windows were securely locked. Torn between investigating and ensuring her own safety, she backed out and ran down the drive to her car, got in, locked the doors and called the cops. It was a nightmare, a bloody nightmare!
Within minutes she heard sirens and within seconds they were stopping on the street out front and she watched as two officers hopped out, one from each car and rushed toward her.
Feeling unbelievably relieved, she jumped out of her car and stood beside one officer and explained what she’d found. He told her to stay put and along with the other officer headed into her house. She waited impatiently for their return as her next-door neighbour, Agnes walked smartly toward her. “What’s going on, dearie?”
In a shaky voice Violet replied, “Break and enter.”
“What?” she remarked aghast.
“I don’t even know when. I was out of town for the weekend and I just got home.”
“What a terrible thing to have happen! How’d they get in?” Agnes asked. She took hold of Violet’s hands and held on tightly.
“I’d stay with you dearie, but I have an appointment. I have to go get ready.”
Smiling she patted Agnes’ hand, “It’s ok, I’ll be fine, thank you. Talk to you later.” She watched Agnes scuttle on home knowing full well she’d be on the phone the second she walked through her door.
Before long, both officers had re-joined her. “Could you tell if anything was missing?”
“I didn’t look. I got out in case someone was still inside.”
“Good move,” the taller of the two men replied, “would you come with me now and check?”
“Sure.” Her response was still breathless as she hadn’t come to terms with what she’d found.
As they walked toward the door, she stated, “I don’t know how they could have gotten in, the place was locked up tight. Went away for the weekend and I double checked to make sure. Not that there’s a great deal of crime in the area, there isn’t. Why I bought a house here.” She knew she was babbling, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself.
The officer identified himself as Alec Monroe, whether to interrupt her flow of chatter or because it was protocol, she wasn’t sure. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the door open and walked inside. It was no less horrific than before and felt even worse.
As she made her way through the ramshackle that were her belongings, she couldn’t help the quick intake of breath at the sight of broken items not because of monetary value but loss of items with nostalgic value attached since some came from her grandparents and others from her parents, all long deceased.
As she advanced from room to room, the carnage seemed more intense. She was appalled and sickened. Other than a few items, someone had taken great care to destroy anything they could lay their hands on. Why? Why? she asked herself.
Finally, when they’d walked through the entire house, she remarked in a haunted voice, “I don’t think anything is missing but there’s so much rubble it’s difficult to say for sure. The big screen tv was hidden behind a painting and it seems to be ok, and my desktop is here and I’ve made a practice of not keeping money on hand. I’ll have to get back to you on that I think.”
The officer finished writing up the report and asked if she had someone she could stay with for a few days and even recommended a cleaning agency that could help clean up the mess if she was interested. She was. “Yeah, I think I’ll go stay in a hotel for the night. I’ll definitely contact someone to come help clean up. Thanks.” She glanced around the front room once again and remarked, “I don’t understand. I don’t get it.”
“That’s understandable,” Officer Monroe said, “It’s not every day you come home to something like this.” He paused, “if you think of anything or anyone that might have done this, or find something missing or receive information you think might be pertinent, please, contact us immediately. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns.”
“You don’t think whoever did this will come back, do you?”
“It’s simply a precaution. Keep your eyes peeled. The short answer to your question is it depends on what their motivation was and if they found what they were looking for. It’s possible.”
She accompanied him to the front door and then outside asked, “Did you see how they got in?”
“Everything was locked up tight so they picked a lock.” His suggestion was even more unnerving.
“That takes skill beyond an ordinary break and enter, wouldn’t you say?” she asked on a shiver. He didn’t respond but he certainly was considering what she’d said and sent a worried look back toward the house.
“I’m surprised Agnes didn’t notice anything. She’s the local nosy neighbour and for once I’d have been happy about that if she’d spotted anything or anyone, but she came to chat while I was waiting and seemed genuinely surprised.”
“We’ll follow up on that man, as well as talk to your other neighbours,” he promised.
Unlocking her car door, she plopped onto the seat and sat unmoving for a couple of minutes before fastening her seatbelt and driving away. She intended on splurging, she wasn’t about to stay in a second-rate hotel, not after this.
Checking into the Chesterton, the bellboy accompanying her to her room and the second he left flopped onto the bed and stared at the ceiling.
As she lay there contemplating what had happened, she received a text message. She wasn’t eager to respond to anyone just yet but she decided to check and see if it was a family member. An unknown number popped up and a text that read, “Your mine! I own you! Just the beginning.” Violet was startled into jerking into an upright position, “What the hell??”
Instantly, she called the precinct and asked for Alec Monroe. She was told the message would be forwarded and he’d contact her as soon as possible. Within ten minutes, her cell beeped and she answered then explained about the text. He asked she forward it to him and to leave it, not delete it as they had techs who could find out the source and he’d be by within twenty minutes.
Violet wasn’t eager to hand over her phone but decided it was better than the alternative and if it would help find out who was responsible, so be it. Thankfully, she had her little address book with everyone’s numbers in case of emergency.
Officer Monroe arrived right on time and took her cell with him. “I guess this means I need to buy another phone.” He promised to return her phone as soon as possible and left.
As he walked away he thought about what he hadn’t told her. The situation was escalating and he was positive this was far more involved than a break and enter. Since nothing was taken, and someone was intent on keeping her on edge, it was personal. That she was staying in a secure hotel was a plus. Damn, he couldn’t see anything but bad news here!
What Violet was unaware of was a vendetta against her father, one that Martin Brand was determined to collect on. Upon learning of his death, he’d been infuriated but he’d been formulating a plan during the five years he’d spent in prison, and he was determined someone was going to pay and he didn’t care much, who! For every day he’d spent in prison, she would pay. He’d take everything away from her. She came from bad seed and deserved what she got. The sins of the father and all that!
Upon learning his arch enemy was dead had been a blow, but then he’d decided to vent his anger on the unsuspecting daughter. She had money to burn, no doubt inheriting from her father, the money that rightfully belonged to him and by god, if he couldn’t get it, he’d make sure she didn’t either.
Prison was a good teacher. He’d been a good student, soaking up everything he could from computer skills to the way the law worked in order to set the wheels in motion to frame her. He grinned maliciously. Since she had no way of knowing about his existence, she’d never see it coming. Until the moment he took her life. Then all would be clear. He’d make sure she knew who and why and that her family owed him and he’d come to collect.
Unfortunately, due to the cops presence, he hadn’t been there to witness what went down, but he’d return after dark to enjoy his handiwork.
Midnight came and went and he prowled discreetly after parking a block away from her house. It was dark so either she was in bed or out. Either way, he’d make his entrance and create the havoc he’d come for. Slipping inside the basement door situated at the back of the house, he carried a can of gasoline and made his way upstairs. He waited to see if she was home and soon realized she wasn’t there. Better! he thought, his plan was in full motion. He opened the gas can and slowly poured a stream from the kitchen through the living room and on up the stairs into her bedroom. He opened a book of matches and after lighting the book, threw it onto the gasoline soaked clothes and hustled down the stairs and out the way he’d come.
Little did he know that Alec Monroe had taken up residence across the street and sat watching him. The miscreant raced down the back alley and took off hell bent for leather. He was torn between chasing the perp and finding out what he’d been up to. Slamming through the door, he smelled gas immediately and then saw the flames advancing. Grabbing the fire extinguisher from its hook beside the front closet, he pounded up the stairs and began blasting the fire. A second fire extinguisher was on the upper landing and he’d had to use it too. Then he called the fire department and waited outside beside his truck. “Damn it! I knew it! I damn well knew something else was going to happen.” He hadn’t known what and how soon and it has surprised him that the retaliation was so instant. Monroe hadn’t expected this since most perps would be nervous about the cops, but this maniac certainly wasn’t.
When the fire department checked the scene, made sure there was no underlying fire left they departed and so did he. Monroe was headed to Violet Skinner’s hotel to deliver more bad news.
Surely to god she knew what was going on and who could be responsible and if not, things were going to get a lot worse before they got better because this creep meant business and from the look of things, was seriously crazy.