We checked into a new hotel room, with our newly found riches. Thanks Matt and Camille, for allowing us to leave no paper trail. No way for Matt to find us, unless he trailed us for the entire drive and waited to watch us go inside. Regardless, I was beginning to feel safe. As safe as you can feel without any of your personal belongings. The trip to Camille’s made one thing clear: My things weren’t there. We’d need to look harder. Dig a little deeper.
I didn’t really have a chance to thoroughly search my house when the officer escorted me there, I was entirely too stressed. All I did was peek into bathrooms and closets, hoping to see a T shirt or curling iron that once belonged to me. I hadn’t checked the backyard, the garage, the attic or basement. For all I know, my things could’ve just been thrown into my car in the garage.
I’d already tried calling my phone from James’ phone. I’d even signed into Find My iPhone and tried to locate it. Location not available. We had to get back into the house. My house. To reclaim what was mine.
“Lindsay, we don’t know what he’s capable of,” James muttered, as he tore off a piece of the grilled cheese sandwich I’d made for him. He flicked a piece of crust into the trashcan. I rolled my eyes.
“You don’t get it though; I hardly even looked in all of the rooms. I was freaking out. I really think if I had a chance to search the place like we did at Camilles…” He cut me off.
“So, what if we do go back? And what if he shows up with the same group of guys that almost killed me at the bar that night? Then what? I couldn’t fight them off by myself, Linds.”
“So we get a gun. One of us keeps lookout. I don’t know James, what’s your plan?” I crossed my arms, slightly irritated.
“I just wanted to start over with you,” he moved in closer and kissed my face, “I just want this to be done. We can move far away… somewhere he won’t try to follow you.”
Suddenly, my face was hot and my heart was racing. I turned to look at him. His straight face gave nothing away.
“This is what you want? I come with all of this baggage and you want to move away with me?” I laughed, nervously.
“Lindsay,” James grabbed my chin and turned my face towards his, “I’ve always wanted you. Maybe not like this. Not with a psychopathic husband or a murderer.”
My heart hurt listening to this. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Besides maybe a divorce. But now, I have almost nothing. I started to cry.
“How did it get like this?” I buried my face into James’ t shirt, he rubbed my back. “I have nothing left.”
“Hey…” he whispered into my ear, “You have me. I’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy again. I love you.”
We were both silent for a few minutes. He’d never told me he loved me. I wasn’t sure if I should say it back. To be honest, I don’t know if I love him back. He let me go.
“We’ll go back to your house in the morning.”
We showered and crawled into bed. For some reason all of this makes me feel permanently exhausted. I think I’ll have bags under my eyes until Stacy’s murder is solved. I’ll have bloodshot eyes until I have something to my name. I’ll be able to sleep once Matt is out of the picture. For now, I’m stuck like this.
I woke up to James’ phone ringing.
Incoming call: Det. Beckett. That’s Agnes. I looked at James, sound asleep, and picked up the phone.
“Agnes? This is Lindsay Waltham.”
“Hi Lindsay, I hoped I’d reach you. We’ve been trying to call you.”
“I don’t have a phone; I figured the officer would tell you. I couldn’t find any of my belongings at my house. I think Matt did something with them. I’m sure you don’t care…” I bit my lip, wondering what was coming next, “why were you looking for me?”
“Stacy’s husband, Joe. He wants to speak with you. The coroner has determined Stacy’s cause of death. He’ll be making funeral arrangements soon. I can give you his information if you want to phone him yourself?”
“Sure, just one second…” I pulled open the nightstand for a pen and paper, “ok, go.”
It was 8am, I debated waiting to call Joe. Is it too early? His wife just died, I’m sure he can’t sleep either. I dialed his number from James’ phone. I was too paranoid to try and use the hotel room phone.
“Hi Joe, it’s Lindsay.”
“Lindsay, hi!” He sounded surprisingly upbeat, “I’ve been trying to get ahold of you since I got back in town.”
“Yeah…” I hesitated, “I haven’t had my phone lately. I think I misplaced it.” I wasn’t sure what Joe had heard about Matt and I yet. And I wasn’t in the mood to explain our situation.
“Listen, Lindsay. You were one of Stacy’s only friends…” Joe cleared his throat, “I have to ask… I’m not accusing you…” he sounded nervous.
“Joe, what is it?”
“They found traces of heroin in Stacy’s bloodstream…” he stayed quiet, “I know you’re not the type of person – but I mean, I didn’t think Stacy was either.”
I didn’t respond. What exactly was he asking me?
“Did you know about this? Do you know who might’ve been her dealer? That’s who the detectives want to blame. The supplier, I guess…” his voice was shaking, “I mean, did the two of you do it… together?”
“You’re asking me if I do heroin.” My voice got a little louder, “Do I know who killed my friend?” I turned my head to see James, now wide awake, staring at me.
“That’s not what I was saying, Linds. I’m just wondering if you knew… I thought I knew her so well…” his voice filled with sadness and I immediately felt guilty for getting angry with him.
“I’m sorry Joe, I can’t imagine what you’re going through and I’m just – I’m sorry, ok?”
“Look, I didn’t know Stacy was into that. I’d never even heard her mention it before. The hardest thing we ever did was drink martinis… A few days before she was killed, actually.”
“I figured…” Joe muttered, sounding disappointed, “She was on antidepressants. Not supposed to be drinking.” He took a deep breath.
“That… I was not aware of…” My mind was spinning. I felt like I didn’t even know Stacy at all. Perhaps Matt wasn’t her killer. For some reason, I felt a wave of relief wash over me.
“Yeah, I was away a lot. She miscarried while I was gone. It’s my fault, I’m sure.”
“Stop Joe. This isn’t your fault, ok?”
“Right, well. I need help planning the service. These things take a lot of time and I don’t have very long…”
“Sure thing, should I come over?”
“Uh, ok. The place is a mess though, crime scene investigators don’t exactly clean up when they’re done. I did what I could.”
“Don’t worry about it, we’ll stop by today.”
It didn’t occur to me, until I got off the phone with Joe that he probably took ‘we’ to mean Matt and I, rather than James and I.
Oh well, I’ll explain later.
James picked up on the end of my conversation, and started to get dressed.
“Stacy’s husband, right? How did he sound? Holding up?”
“He seems ok, given the circumstances. I offered to go by to help out with her funeral service. They didn’t have much family here. His job relocated him years ago.”
We decided to stop at an IHOP next to the hotel for breakfast. I was starving. I scarfed down my pancakes, followed by a glass of milk.
“Maybe we should stop by my house on the way there. I can just check the mail or something. We don’t have to look inside yet.”
James looked at me, thoughtfully.
We pulled up along the sidewalk, James reached out his window and grabbed a huge pile of envelopes from the mailbox. He tossed them into my lap, and looked back at the house. No cars in the driveway. I wonder if he’s at work or at Camille’s. Probably the bar. We passed the house and headed towards Stacy’s house. I started sifting through the mail.
Bank statements, past due bills and payments, final notices, collection notices, debt collectors, we even had something from the IRS. My heart was racing. I opened them one at a time.
The past due credit card statements, the debt collectors’ final warnings. Cash advances and payday loans. He probably hasn’t worked in weeks. This is why my house is about to be foreclosed on. Because of Matt. I looked at James with tears in my eyes.