Chapter 7~Seven years later
“Once again, police are investigating a brutal attack on an eighteen year old woman who recently graduated high school. No official word on whether or not there are any suspects, but what we do know is that the victim was attacked while walking home from work. Police won’t comment on any other details, however, we are learning tonight from our sources that this is the 3rd attack in the last two months on young women. Police continue to keep quiet but our sources reveal that the attacks are linked and could very well be the work of a serial rapist. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to cover this story.”
Tuck swore. Another attack, another woman. Of course they were related. There was a maniac on the loose, raping and beating women. This kind of violence didn’t happen in Posey Cove, Pennsylvania. Tuck though back to the night Ella had been raped. How stupid could he be? Of course these things happened in Posey Cove. They happened to Ella seven years ago, and now, they were happening again. He glared at his office door, remembering three years ago when he and Jack Pepper, an old college buddy, hooked up and started their own private investigation company. It was small, just the two of them and a couple of researchers who helped out part time, but that’s how they wanted it. No one to get in their way. They did what they needed to do to get the job done.
“Behind the Scenes” was scripted on the door. That was the name both he and Jack had decided on. It made sense to both of them. Neither wanted to be in the spotlight so they tended to work behind the scenes to get things done. His dad was more than disappointed in his career change, but he had given his role as attorney four years worth of his life and when it was all said and done, Tuck felt like a failure. He was tired of watching victims in the courtroom being traumatized over again. He was tired of watching criminals walk free. He wanted to put the bad guys behind bars, and at the end of the day, that didn’t always happen.
Tuck sighed. His job was challenging. Now, hearing that there had been another rape made his blood boil. Seven years he had tried to find out anything he could about Ella’s attack, but the police had nothing. No witnesses, no finger prints, no DNA, nothing. The man had seemingly committed the perfect crime. Ella’s memory was fuzzy on the details, but two weeks after the attack, she had sat down with investigators and relived the event all over again. Her memory of the attack didn’t help investigators. There just wasn’t anything there.
They did, however, investigate her friend Ronnie, who had left without getting into the club the night of the attack. Ella recalled his anger at being left out, so the detectives checked him out. It turned out to be a dead end. He left the club that night and went back home. His parents had verified that. So, they were back to square one. With no new leads, and no other assaults, the police put the case on the shelf and moved on. Ella, too, had moved on so to speak. She packed up her things and flew the coop, leaving behind a letter letting her parents know she was fine and that she would contact them periodically to let them know how she was doing. The police had actually searched for Ella, fearing that her attacker may have kidnapped her, but as it turned out, Ella had willingly left behind her family and friends, in search of closure. Tuck couldn’t blame her for that, but she had stayed away for years. The last he had heard about her, she was recovering and wished to be left alone. He wouldn’t have tried to reach her anyway.
Tuck’s phone rang. The screen showed it was Jack. “Hey, buddy, what’s up?
“Did you catch the news story?” Jack asked.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Bastard is at it again.”
“Look, man, you said so yourself that you wanted to nail him. I think now is the time to start digging into these cases again.”
A couple months ago, when this string of attacks began, Jack had linked them to Ella’s attack. After hearing about the case from Tuck, Jack had followed the investigation, keeping his ear to the ground for any information. When the newest rapes occurred, it was rumored that the same m.o. was used in Ella’s attack.
“Maybe you’re right. I would love to see this son of a bitch off the streets, but the police are keeping a low profile on these rapes.”
“Leave that to me. I have my sources and I’m sure I can get us some information, but what we need to do is start interviewing victims and witnesses. The only problem is, we don’t actually have a client, so we don’t really have any reason to be investigating.”
“Damn it. You’re right, but it’s always something isn’t it. We try to do the right thing here, and yet, we need cause to do it. Damn system is screwed up.” Tuck’s eyes searched the door. He heard someone approaching. A figure appeared and seconds later, a knock on the door.
“Hold up a minute. Someone’s knocking.” Tuck covered the phone with his hand. He walked over and opened the door. He sucked in his breath and dropped his phone. The shocked look on the woman’s face mirrored his own. He picked up his phone, never taking his eyes off the woman.
“Jack, I think I may have a solution. Let me call you back.” He tossed his phone on his desk and turned around to face Ella Demick.
Ella’s heart was pounding so hard, she thought she might faint. Coming to see a private investigator had been something she had wanted to do for years. Instead, she went away trying to fight what had happened to her. When that didn’t work, she tried to ignore what had happened to her. And when that didn’t work either, she broke down and started seeing a therapist. After she had been released from the hospital seven years ago, she went home and hid from the world. She quit her job, just as she had told Tuck she would. She cut off communication with friends, and withdrew from her parents. After several months in isolation, Ella realized that she needed to leave Posey Cove. Even though everyone was so nice, Ella felt smothered by the community’s support. She was trying to forget the attack, and everyone else discussed it as if discussing the weather. It was the topic of conversation and Ella just couldn’t take it anymore. So, she packed up, left her parents a note, and took off. She didn’t have a destination in mind, she just knew it had to be somewhere other than Posey Cove.
Six months later, she had settled into a quaint little town where no one knew who she was. It wasn’t long after she sent a letter home that detectives Mately and Hudson had shown up in Bluff’s Edge. Apparently, they were concerned about her safety. Once Ella had reassured them she was fine, they went back to Posey Cove, no doubt baffled as to why she would leave behind her family and friends. Ella didn’t owe anyone an explanation, and she kept her thoughts to herself.
She picked up a job waitressing at a local diner where she was paid in cash. She had her graduation money and the car her parents bought her for graduation. She needed little, really, to survive. That’s one thing she learned the last couple of years.
Ella worried about her parents and how they were dealing with her leaving. She knew it was hard for them. It was hard for her too. After being gone for almost a year, she went home for the weekend to see her parents. She showed up unannounced and remained out of sight.
She didn’t want any visitors; in fact, she had already decided that the life she had was virtually over. Her friends were no longer her friends. They had all moved on. They didn’t really know her anymore than she knew them. With each year that passed, Ella came to terms with her new life and in a way, was quite happy with her accomplishments.
Over the last seven years, Ella’s confidence was returning, thanks mostly to a therapist she had been seeing. She had decided against college, and against being a lawyer. Instead, she worked with victims of rape at a local shelter. She was there to listen and talk. She was offered a job as a liaison at the local hospital, which allowed her to support rape victims brought into the emergency room and sit with them when they gave their statements to police.
Since she had been through the process herself, she was equipped to help women deal with the aftermath. She loved her job, and she loved working at the shelter. She had a good life and she was proud of all she had achieved.
Ella had only one regret in life. She did not see her parents very much. It was just too difficult in the early years. She visited over long weekends, but their relationship was strained. Ella’s parents kept reliving the nightmare over and over again every time they saw Ella and Ella was trying to erase the nightmare from her mind. She shared with them as much as she could, her new job, the choices she had made, and how therapy was working wonders.
They wanted her to come home, but Ella just wasn’t ready. They argued the last time she came home. They felt it was time that Ella came back and faced her past. Ella couldn’t do it, not then, and so they said goodbye, with anger lingering in the air. One week later, detective Mately made the trip to Bluff’s Edge to inform Ella that her parents had been killed in a car accident. As far as the detectives could tell, her father had suffered some kind of a stroke while driving. Her mother was in the passenger seat. The car veered off the road, hitting a concrete divider, killing them instantly.
Detective Mately escorted Ella back to Posey Cove, where she made funeral
arrangements for her parents. They were buried at the town cemetery with a small intimate service. Ella had tried to keep her distance as guests made their way to pay their respects. All in all, things went well. Her parents had a lovely service and were buried side by side. She was devastated and missed them dearly. After the funeral, she packed up her parents personal belongings to take back to Bluff’s Edge with her.
Weeks later, she received a phone call about her parents will. Since she was an only child, everything was fairly straight forward. She of course, inherited her childhood home, along with all of her parent’s personal belongings. She also inherited a life insurance policy worth almost two million dollars. That came as a complete shock to Ella. After hearing that, she was numb for weeks, trying to decide what to do. Eventually, she decided to let the house sit, using a cleaning service once a month and to continue her life in Bluff’s Edge as she had before her parents death.
That was one year ago. Now, standing in the office of “Behind the Scenes” private investigators, Ella wondered what the hell she was doing. She had heard about the rapes.
Bluff’s Edge was only two hours from Posey Cove. A life time away, and yet, not really. Two months ago when she saw the news story about the young girl attacked in Posey Cove, all the memories came flooding back. Ella went into a deep depression for weeks, taking time off of work. The depression was so bad, that she thought about killing herself. She knew what this girl was going through, she had been there herself. She felt her pain and cried all over again for what she lost seven years ago. Then one day, she woke up and realized that she wasn’t a victim any longer. She would never forget what happened, but she had changed her life and was going forward, starting over. That’s when she decided that she needed to go back to Posey Cove and face her fear.
Tuck couldn’t believe his eyes. Standing before him was Ella Demick, seven years older and god help him, sexy as hell. Her hair was a bit shorter than he remembered, but still wavy.
She looked as innocent as she did years ago, but her eyes held something that clearly told Tuck she wasn’t a child any longer.
“Sorry to hear about your parents,” Tuck spoke. He sat down at his desk and waited for Ella to make the next move.
“They didn’t deserve to die that way. I wish I could have been here for them a little more.” Ella eyed Tuck cautiously.
“Well, that’s what happens when you run away.” Tuck couldn’t help but throw the dig at her. Ella gasped the hurt evident on her face. She turned towards the door, ready to bolt.
“Wait. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.” Tuck was out of his chair coming around the desk.
Ella stopped and looked back at Tuck
“Yes, you did. You think I’m a coward, but that’s fine with me. I didn’t come here to explain myself or defend my actions.”
“Why did you come?” Tuck waited.
“I didn’t know this was your business. I was just as shocked when I walked in as you were. What happened to saving the world?”
“Being a lawyer didn’t let me do what I wanted to solve the case. Now, I don’t answer to anyone, and that’s the way I like.” Tuck saw no reason to tell Ella he had been obsessed with solving her rape and the current attacks. He would keep that information to himself for now.
“I see you haven’t changed a bit. Still bossy and a know it all. Where’s Ginger by the way?” Ella couldn’t help but bring up the past.
“Ginger? Tuck played dumb. Of course he remembered Ginger, but Ella didn’t need to know that.
“Never mind. I don’t have time to play games. I came here because I want to retain your services.”
“Oh, yeah? What do you need? Someone to follow your husband? No, that can’t be it.
You’re not wearing a ring, unless…”
“No unless. I’m not married. No cheating boyfriend or whatever you thought I was here for. What I want you to do is not simple.”
“Really?” Ok, let’s hear it.” Tuck waited for Ella to speak. She licked her lips, fighting the nerves that seemed to overcome her.
“I want you to find the man who attacked me.”
Ella held her breath. She knew what she was asking was an enormous task, but she had no choice. Tuck’s face seemed to change from humorous to incredulous.
“Let me get this straight. You want me to find the man who beat and raped you seven years ago. Is that right?” Tuck seemed angry now. Ella wasn’t sure where his anger was coming from, but something told her she needed to tread lightly.
“Look, I’m over what happened to me. Now, I need to find the man who hurt me so he can pay for his crimes.”
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re not “over” what happened to you. If you were, you wouldn’t look like a frightened doe.”
“What?” Now it was Ella’s turn to be angry. Tuck closed the gap between them in three strides. He was so close to Ella, her nose was practically touching Tuck’s chest. Her eyes rounded as big as saucers and Ella instinctively took a step back.
“That’s what I thought. Don’t get angry with me. I’m just proving a point. You can’t have a man this close to you without reacting the way you just did. Face it. You want to be over what happened to you, but you’re not. Don’t get me wrong, Ella. I give you credit for being brave enough to believe you’re all better, but the reality is that you’re still scared of men.” Tuck walked back to his desk, but he didn’t sit down. He had a feeling Ella was going to come at him with all she had. He braced himself for the attack, but it never came.
“You’re right, Tuck. I’m not completely over what happened to me. Congratulations for being able to see that in me and point it out. I really appreciate it.” Tuck started to sputter out an apology but Ella stopped him. “Don’t bother. I don’t need your apologies. What I need is someone who can find out who did this to me. I can’t allow him to hurt anymore women.”
“What do you mean by that? As far as the police are concerned, this was a onetime incident. Your attacker wasn’t linked to any other rapes. In fact, as far as I know, there were no other rapes in the area for the last seven years.”
“Until now. I’ve kept up with Posey Cove and what’s been happening. I know about the recent rapes of those girls. That’s why I’m back. To stop him.”
“What? Are you saying that the man who raped you is the same man who is now raping these women?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”
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