“Our new place has a dishwasher, doesn’t it?” Kelly asked.
“Yup,” Trevelyn responded distractedly. They’d been packing all morning and there was still so much to do. “Is this any good?” She held up a pair of headphones.
“Nah, only one side works. You can toss ‘em,” Kelly answered. Trevelyn dropped them in the brimming waste basket.
“Well this box is full.” Trevelyn’s mom groaned as she stood, stretching. “Don’t get old girls. It ain’t pretty.” Evelyn chuckled twisting the stiffness out of her back. “I’ll lug it on down to the car.”
“Okay mom. When you come back would you start on the bookcase?”
“Sure thing babe. Be right back.” Evelyn hefted the medium sized box. “Could one of you get the door?”
“Oh yeah, here you go.” Kelly opened the door and stepped aside so Evelyn could pass through.
“Thanks Kel.” Evelyn stepped out into the hall and Kelly closed the door behind her.
“So what does Mr. Nevergonnaleavehiswife think of us moving?” Kelly asked as she began sorting stacks of DVDs and CDs, neatly placing them in a cardboard box that once held boxes of detergent.
“Don’t call him that. You know it annoys me.”
“Sorry,” Kelly rolled her eyes as she unrepentantly replied. “What does DOUGLAS think of us moving?”
Trevelyn didn’t appreciate the sarcastic tone of voice or the air quotes Kelly used when saying Doug’s name. Exasperated, she scowled momentarily before deciding she didn’t want to have this argument again. She extended her lower lip and blew upward to try to lift her sweat laden bangs from her overheated forehead. “Doesn’t really affect him so he doesn’t mind much one way or the other. Although he does like the idea of being able to stay over sometimes since I'll have my own room. When he leaves his wife in six months’ time he’ll get his own place. He’ll live there for at least another six months before we move into together. Since you are planning to move to Atlanta next year when our new lease runs out the timing will be perfect for me to move in with him and take our relationship public. I’ll tell you what I won’t miss. 3B.” She tossed her head in the direction of the apartment door.
The tenant in 3B was a bit creepy. He’d never done anything obvious to warrant the girls’ trepidation around him, but he gave them the willies for sure. Trevelyn shoved thoughts of 3B aside and smiled to herself daydreaming about the future she and Doug planned to share.
Lost in her own daydreams, Trevelyn continued to pack up the pots and pans and other kitchen goods.
She let her mind drift back to the first time she met Doug. She’d been at a club celebrating her friend’s bachelorette party. They had all been just a little bit drunk and just bit more loud, twerking and gyrating on the dance floor. She noticed him standing near the bar watching her moves, drink in hand. He smiled and gave her a wink when he caught her eyes on him. ‘Gosh he’s cute,’ she’d thought to herself, taking in his dark jeans, boots and navy striped button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up to mid forearm. His clean cut good looks set him apart from the trendier men with their two day beards and t-shirts under their open, untucked button downs.
His hair was close cropped and his eyes sparkled with laughter as he watched the group of inebriated women having fun. Soon he’d put his empty glass on the bar and strode confidently onto the dance floor. He approached Trevelyn and held out his hand. She couldn’t hear his words over the music but his lips read, “Dance with me.”
As she took his hand, the music slowed, almost as if he’d known it would. He tugged her gently into his arms and pulled her close, his right hand resting on the small of her back. She shivered as the skin of her exposed back under the hem of the halter she wore tingled from the warmth of his hand. Goosebumps coated her bare arms and her nipples hardened in automatic response to the electricity passing between them.
“I’m Doug. You’re gorgeous,” he murmured in her ear.
She breathed in his heady cologne. He smelled so good. A mixture of sandalwood with a slight hint of musk that went straight to her head. In spite of her attraction, she noticed the hand holding hers bore a gold band.
“I’m Trevelyn. You’re married.” She tilted her head up so her words reached his ear provocatively.
“Trevelyn. What an unusual name. Where does it come from?” He ignored the second part of her statement as he leaned back to look into her eyes.
“It’s a combination of my parent’s names. Troy and Evelyn. Trevelyn.” A throaty chuckle vibrated his chest where it pressed against her breasts, arousing her all the more.
“How very unique. A uniquely beautiful name for a uniquely beautiful woman.” Amusement still lingered in his eyes, but the amusement was outweighed by the smouldering look of pure desire that heated Trevelyn’s face and chest.
“I need some air,” she gulped and pulled away. She crossed the dance floor quickly and made for the exit. She signalled the bouncer she’d be right back as she stepped out into the cool night air. She leaned back against the building and closed her eyes. Drawing deep lungful’s of the glorious stuff, she tried to clear her head.
She started when a voice very close to her said, “You’re not trying to escape from me are you?”
It was him. “No, of course not. I just needed to get some air. I got a little over heated from all the dancing.” Wiping her sweaty palms on her own jeans Trevelyn nervously looked around. There were a few other groups of two or three people standing around the parking lot. Good. Being alone with this man could be dangerous to her self-restraint. Exhaling a sigh of relief she looked back at Doug.
“So why did you follow me out here?”
“I wanted to make sure you were okay. You left in a bit of a hurry.” He leaned one shoulder against the brick of the building. Although he was between her and the door to the club there was wide open space to the left of her. Trevelyn didn’t feel threatened.
“I’m okay. So you never answered me.”
“That’s not a question.”
“Are you married?”
“Then what are you doing out here with me?”
“I was hoping to get to know you.”
“I don’t date married men.”
“I’m married, but not in the traditional sense.” He paused and looked away before taking a deep breath, returning his gaze to hers and continuing. “My wife is gay. We got married for financial reasons. Our families are in business together and hers don’t approve of her sexual preferences. Mine don’t approve of my bachelor ways.” He chuckled. “We married to please our parents a because they made it financially worthwhile, but we never intended to stay married. We agreed from the start that after the business was sorted out and we fulfilled the terms our families set down we would amicably divorce. In the meantime we live our own lives.” He let his eyes trail down her curves before meeting her eyes again.
“And if I asked your wife, would she say the same thing?” The flirtatious tone in her voice spoke volumes of how much she wanted to believe his story.
“Of course. Why would I lie?” He gave Trevelyn a devilish grin.
“Because you want to get in my pants?” she said rolling her eyes.
“It’s the truth. I swear it on my beloved grandmother’s grave.” He drew a cross over his heart with his right index finger as he painted on an innocent expression.
“I need to get back inside. My friends will be wondering where I’ve gone.” The lights in the parking lot made Trevelyn’s glittery pink halter top twinkle, like the stars above and the ones in her eyes.
Doug was completely captivated. “Give me your number before you go?” He held his breath and held out his phone waiting for her answer.
After a long moment, she took it and glancing up at him while doing so, she entered her phone number in Doug’s cell phone. She handed it back and took a step around him to head back inside. “Wait!” he called out.
“What?” she turned back and a flash blinded her briefly.
“I wanted a photo to go with the number.” he grinned. “Good night Trevelyn.”
She smiled as she walked away.
Pushing the memories aside with a nostalgic grin, Trevelyn’s concentration returned to the task at hand. She noticed she’d packed all the items from the kitchen cupboards while on autopilot. It was time to start on the pantry.
A ripping sound indicated Kelly was taping up the box she’d just finished packing.
“Boy mom’s been gone a long time.” Trevelyn remarked.
“Yeah she has. I’ll take this one down to the car and see what’s up with her. Maybe she ran out to pick up some take-out.” Kelly said.
“Maybe. If you’re both not back in five minutes I’m calling the cops,” Trevelyn joked.
Kelly grinned and said, “Make sure it’s a cute female cop. It’s been awhile since I got some.” She winked as she hefted the box and nearing the closed door she gestured with her head toward it. “Do you mind?”
Trevelyn shook her head at her roommate as she opened the door for Kelly, musing. It had been awhile since Kelly had dated anyone. They would have to work on that.
After closing the door behind her friend, she pulled the full trash bag out of the bin and tied it off, setting it aside before lining the bin with a new one. She grabbed an empty box and the empty waste basket and dropped them next to the pantry. Dragging over a kitchen chair, she plopped into it ready to tackle the task of cleaning out and packing the food items from their pantry. Most of it was likely expired.
Neither Trevelyn nor Kelly were great shakes in the kitchen. They had a bad habit of buying unusual ingredients with dreams of becoming the next Master Chef, but never quite managed to cook with them.
Trevelyn picked up a half empty box of baking soda and took a peek inside. Something small and dark was moving in there. “Ewwwwww!” She hastily dropped the box into the waste basket. “Gross!” She shuddered.
She found a second half empty box of baking soda and fearfully peeked inside with the same result. “That’s disgusting!” She suddenly felt itchy everywhere, running her hands over her arms and through her hair to try to brush the feelings away. Resolved to dispose of anything that has been opened in addition to the expired items she plugged into her task of cleaning out the pantry.
She got through the first shelf without further incident. About half of the items were tossed. Feeling satisfied she grabbed a diet soda out of the fridge and took a long thirst quenching guzzle before she started on the next shelf down.
After sorting through old boxes of Tuna Helper, some unopened jars of spices, and a bag of chocolate chips, Trevelyn saw a piece of newsprint and an envelope tucked behind a foil package of Doug’s favourite coffee. She retrieved them. The newsprint was folded in quarters. Opening the clipping her heart stopped. It was the article that had run in the local paper when David Harrington, Trevelyn’s first grade student, disappeared several months ago. The police had received hundreds of leads, yet David had never been found.
Trevelyn had been questioned by the police at the time, as had many of the school’s staff and even the students. Why was this here?
Tears filled Trevelyn’s eyes. David was such a sweet little boy. Bright and energetic. His disappearance had affected the mood in Trevelyn’s class room in spite of her best efforts to help her students move forward. It was hard for Trevelyn to move forward herself. In fact, she’d sought therapy to work through her grief and fear. Who would have put this article in the pantry? Kelly surely wouldn’t have done such a thing. Especially knowing how Trevelyn felt about the disappearance.
Hands shaking she set the clipping aside to examine the envelope. Her name was on the front of it, but it wasn’t sealed. She took a deep breath, bracing herself as she released the folded sheet of paper from its confines.
I know what happened to David. Meet me tonight. I’ll help you.
The note from David’s father was dated two months previous. Trevelyn had never seen this note before in her life. Kelly must know something about this. Anger grew inside Trevelyn. How could Kelly not have told her about the note? The anger chased away her fear. Setting the note and clipping on the counter top Trevelyn was determined to confront Kelly when she returned. Where was she anyway? Jeez. This was getting ridiculous.
Trevelyn yanked her cell phone out of her shirt pocket and quickly shot of a text to Kelly and Evelyn. “Where are you?????” Tucking it back in the pocket she returned to work.
A few more expired items had been tossed when Trevelyn saw another envelope at the very back of the shelf. This one had no writing on the outside, but it was thicker and had once been sealed. The slit across the top showed someone had opened it previously.
“What the hell?” she murmered to herself. “Who hides mail with the food?”
Without allowing herself to consider what the envelope might contain Trevelyn slid the papers out. There were three. It looked like a letter, handwritten in big bold strokes. She slid out of the chair and onto the floor, slumping against the cabinet doors as she began to read.
My darling Trevelyn,
This is really getting to be a problem love. You can’t keep pressuring me to leave Debi. I’ve told you over and over again, it is just not the right time. Debi and I have an understanding and you and I just have to wait. I thought you were clear on that. That you understood.
When the time is right, Debi and I will divorce. You can’t call her again. You’ll ruin everything. Everything we’ve planned and worked for will go up in smoke. Debi is angry now. She’ll put roadblocks in our way if you don’t back off.
I can’t handle this anymore Trevelyn. You’ve got to back off. If you don’t, maybe you and I don’t have a future after all. I love you and want to spend my life with you. But I can’t if you won’t be patient a little longer.
I don’t want to lose you.
Trevelyn was confused. She had never once pressured Doug to leave Debi. Doug was always telling HER how much he loved her and couldn’t wait until they could start their lives together. How much he wished he could leave Debi now.
She’d never called Debi. Where had this letter come from? She examined all three sheets of paper and the envelope. It wasn’t dated. She had no idea how long it had been in the back of the pantry. It looked like Doug’s handwriting.
Trevelyn’s head began to throb and she felt sick. Sipping more of her diet soda she tried to think.
“Where the HELL are mom and Kelly?” she grumbles. She stood tossing her empty soda can into the sink. Gathering the second filled trash bag she lifted it from the waste basket and tied it closed. She picked up both garbage bags in one hand and with the letter in the other she crossed through the living room, stumbling over the aquarium lying on the floor.
The aquarium was nearly empty, but a layer of rocks and about two inches of water still covered the bottom.
“Dammit!” she cursed, dropping the bags. She hopped on one foot as the toes of her other throbbed from the impact. “Stupid fish anyway!”
After dancing around for a minute she eyed the aquarium with annoyance, only to stop and stare in shock. Lying on the bottom of the aquarium, now exposed by the shifting of the rocks during the jostling of her inadvertent kick, was a revolver. One Trevelyn had never seen before and definitely did not know resided in her apartment.
She cautiously lifted the gun from the water and held it gingerly in front of her as it dripped into the pool from which it came. She dropped it onto the carpeted floor, shaking her hands and dancing about as if it were a spider or some other creepy-crawly creature.
Behind her she heard the door open. She didn’t turn, unable to pull her eyes away from the dangerous weapon. “Where on Earth have you been and what the hell is this?” she asked, pointing.
“Hi honey. I’m home.”
Spinning around clumsily. Trevelyn’s stomach dropped. Framed in the open doorway stood 3B. He stepped inside kicking the door closed behind him. Wearing a dark hoodie with the hood pulled up covering his shaved head, in one hand he held a cigarette to his mouth, taking a long drag. Tucked under his other arm he held a rifle.
“Did you miss me?” he taunted.
“What are you doing here?”
“You weren’t going to leave without saying goodbye were you’?” His curling lips moved around the lit cigarette he now clenched between his teeth, leaving one had free.
“My mom and Kelly will be back any minute. You need to get out of here.”
“No they won’t. They’re dead. Just like your boyfriend. Just like that kid. And you killed them. With that gun right there in on the floor. Your fingerprints are all over it, aren’t they?”
“What are you talking about? They aren’t dead. That gun couldn’t have killed them. I just found it.”
“You killed them all right. There’s plenty of proof. You killed your boyfriend because he wouldn’t leave his pretty, rich wife for you. You killed your mom and Kelly because they found out. And you killed the kid because...well because you’re just sick. Real sick.” His terrifying grin made her tremble.
3B took a menacing step toward Trevelyn, and she reflexively took a step back. Tripping on the corner of the aquarium she fell landing hard on her backside. Her loose shirt twisted with the angle of her fall and her phone slipped out of her pocket, landing with a plop in the watery vessel.