Three days went by, and I thought of him every morning and every night. I started to think I’d made it all up because I didn’t hear from him, not one word. Not until this afternoon when I got a text from a number I didn’t know, giving me an address signed with “J.” Followed shortly by the number of hours we’d already spent together. Eleven. I imagine he must’ve included the time he was in bed with me. One hundred dollars every ten minutes, six hundred dollars an hour, so I’ve barely made a dent in the time I owe him.
And I haven’t gotten anywhere. I have no new information that sheds light onto what happened to Jenny. He says he didn’t do it; I already knew The Red Room was a place for drug deals and a criminal hangout.
Nothing new. Time is stagnant and I can’t hold on much longer. I can’t rely on someone who isn’t coming through.
I made it down the long winding path around the massive estate and parked in the back where Jase told me to; I made it all that way without breathing.
Maybe that’s why I feel faint as I shut my car door, the thud echoing in the depths of the thick forest I stared into only days ago. The dark greens are covered by a slight dusting of white as the snow falls gently, creeping into the crevices of everything.
Pulling my scarf a bit tighter, I take the steps one by one to the front door.
Answers. I will get answers. Even if it’s only one question at a time. He has to know something.
The bite from the wind creeps up quickly as I raise my fist to knock on the door, only to hear a beep and a click before I even touch it. Someone else grants me entry. He already knows I’m here.
Warily, I push the large, carved wooden door open, and it glides easily with the softest of pushes.
Thump. My heart slams as I remember the last time I gazed at this wood, but the engravings were upside down as I dangled from Jase’s shoulder.
It’s only been days, but it feels like everything’s changed.
The massive foyer greets me with warmth, but not much else. The lighting of the wrought iron chandelier reflects on the shiny marble floor, radiating wealth with the spiral staircase, but that’s all this room contains. It’s empty and even in the warmth, even coming in from the blustery weather, it’s cold in here.
The door shuts behind me, and the small sound startles me. My quick gasp echoes in the room.
Clenching my fists, I inwardly scold myself. Pull it together.
He’s only a man. A man with answers. A man who will bring me justice. Justice Jenny deserves.
A man who is not here. I have no idea where he is. But I’m alone in the foyer.
My lips purse as I breathe out, letting my heavy bag drop to the floor. It’s topped with the weighted blanket Jase left.
My gaze moves from window to window, to the heavy front door.
I can’t help but to test Jase’s statement. That the doors are locked on the inside and there’s no way out. Something about Jase makes me feel like he wouldn’t lie. Like he doesn’t make threats, only promises of what’s to come.
I think it’s the severity of his presence. The confidence in his banter. Everything is always just so with him. It’s how he wants it to be, and everything is exactly that. How he wants.
It’s the impression he gives me and that impression is why I pull off my gloves and shove them in my coat pocket. Gripping the knob with both hands, I turn and pull. I yank it harder when it doesn’t give, feeling the stretch in my arms from tugging on an unmoving door.
Huffing the stray hair out of my face, I glance up at a small black square, smaller than the size of a sheet of notebook paper. It’s digital. Whatever lock he uses, it’s digital.
“Fingerprints and hand scans,” Jase’s voice bellows from the empty hall behind me, forcing me to whip around to face him, my hand on my chest. “That sort of thing,” he adds, slipping his hands into his pockets.
“Jesus fuck,” I gasp with contempt. “Are you trying to give me a heart attack?”
My heart thumps a yes, my core clenches with affirmation and my gaze drifts down his body, agreeing with the two of them.
He’s not wearing a suit today. And he looks damn good in his perfectly fitted suits. In jeans and a t-shirt stretched tight across his shoulders, showing off those corded muscles in his arms… he’s doing that shit on purpose.
Swallowing down my heart, I try to relax again. “Just testing what you said…” My explanation dies in the air as he stalks closer to me with powerful strides and in a dominating way that almost has me stepping back, bumping my ass into the door. Almost, but I hold my ground.