Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sample Saturday- Chapter Two - part five

For those just joining the story - chapter one can be read in its entirety on the October 21st entry and the first part of chapter two on the October 28th entry, the next segments on November 4th,11th and 18th.

Bella redialed 911. The call was smoothly transferred back to the same operator.

“Good.” The woman’s voice soothed her once again. “You can hang up your land line now. I want you to leave the house and wait outside for the officers. Do you have a safe place to go?”

Up until five minutes ago, the house was a safe place.

“I’ll wait in my car,” she said.

Fortunately, she’d left her car unlocked. She peered into the backseat. No place was safe.
The car held no visible threats. After shutting and locking the door behind her, she tried not to think about how easily this small shelter could be invaded.

The night air grew cooler, but the temperature didn’t account for her shivers. Time crept forward and the absence of new danger slowly leached the tension from her body. The moon rose higher and her eyelids grew heavier.

A knock on the car window jerked Bella awake. She jumped bruising her thighs on the steering wheel. Fear cinched her chest so hard she couldn’t draw a new breath.

“Ma’am? Seattle Police.”

The band eased and Bella dragged in fresh air. Fumbling fingers found the door handle and she managed to climb out of the car. “You startled me.”

He extracted a notepad and pen. “Yes ma’am. Name please.”

Bella answered the officer’s questions for twenty minutes. Beyond explaining about the note inside her locked house, she had little memory of what he’d asked or what she’d answered.
Two other uniformed officers joined them.

“The house is clear. No sign of forced entry,” the woman police officer announced.

Bella trailed behind the police as they all trooped into her house.

The living room, which seemed so cozy when she’d come home from the reception, was now small and shabby. The worn sofa with the crocheted throw covering the frayed upholstery and the green vase of faded hydrangeas in the green vase looked sad and vulnerable.

Three officers took up more space than the room had. The woman stepped into the alcove separating the dining area. Her partner lingered next to the front door.

“As Officer Henley noted,” the first officer gestured toward the woman, “there’s no sign of forced entry. We’ve checked the premises and bagged the evidence. You’ll be assigned a case number tomorrow.”

“Thank you,” Bella said.

He inclined his head in acknowledgement. “Sorry we can’t do more ma’am.” He closed his notebook, secured his pen and left.

Officer Henley’s partner held the door waiting for her.

“Change your locks,” Henley suggested murmured in passing.

There’s no sign of forced entry. That’s what the officer said. Meaning whoever left the note had either picked her lock or used a key. If he’d picked the lock, would he have taken the time to relock the door? The idea of a nutcase with a key to her house . . . much more disturbing. She rubbed chilled upper arms

Thoughts flew faster than her pacing feet with no more progress. She’d get the locks changed first thing tomorrow. Was there a locksmith who worked on Sunday? Bella got out the weighty yellow pages. The doorbell rang. The phonebook dropped from her icy fingers.

She started toward the door. The mantle clock began to chime, two AM. Who rang the bell in the middle of the night? A polite stalker?

The edges of her vision blurred and she realized she was holding her breath again. Expelling the used air with a whoosh, she drug in a gulp of air and took a step closer to the door. She leaned toward the viewer, hesitated. Thumps on the door made her jump back.

“Who is it?” she croaked, with her voice catching on something tight in her throat.


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