The next morning, Eva wondered into the kitchen and found Dee making breakfast. She looked around and asked “Where’s Daniel?”
Dee put away the egg carton and said, “He went to his place to shower and get some clothes.” She moved around the kitchen gathering other ingredients. “I’m making a spinach quiche, by the way.”
Eva got herself a cup of coffee and sat at the table to watch Dee work. It was strange to see her after all these years, and she felt a pang of remorse for not staying in better contact. After all, Dee was Sadie’s grandmother. I should’ve done more, she thought. “Okay,” she said.
“Y’all were up pretty late. I’m surprised you’re awake this early.”
There was a hint of something in Dee’s voice which Eva couldn’t place. Disdain? Displeasure? “Yeah, I don’t know how much Daniel has told you, but Louis is sleeping around. We have,” she paused, “evidence.” She shuddered involuntarily and sipped her coffee. How was she able to be so casual in telling Dee? Her own nonchalant way amazed her. Perhaps it was the pile of audio files and pictures Daniel had, or the emails and lil black book they found on Louis’ computer. “He gets back this week. I’ve got lawyers preparing paperwork already.” She drained her cup and announced she was going to shower.
Dee nodded into the bowl and said, “Yes, a shower might help gain perspective.”
Eva paused at the doorway. “What does that mean?” she asked, a taste of acid behind the question.
Dee turned to face Eva, whisk in hand. “You and Daniel need to stop playing house and get things sorted before it comes back on the both of you, or Sadie.” Eva stood there, slack jawed. “I love you, sweetheart. I always have. But, take care of this Louis situation before you get caught in the crossfire that I’m sure is coming.” She turned back to the bowl and beat the ingredients with a vengeance.
Eva said nothing. Instead, she turned and went upstairs to shower and get ready for the day.
Daniel gathered clothes and his laptop into a backpack. He was only staying one more night, but decided he was going to take his mother and Sadie out to dinner, and he wanted to look decent. As he slung the bag on his back, his cell beeped.
Daniel closed his eyes. “What you got?”
“He checked out. The conference apparently ended early. I ran his card and boosted the itinerary, so I know he’s headed back there.”
“Thanks, man,” Daniel rushed and snapped his phone closed. After a minute, he took the bag off and opened his phone again. “Michael? I need to meet you and talk. Louis is coming home today,” he said and hit the end button. Looking around the living room, he swore. “What the hell am I gonna do now?” he asked. Walking down the hall, he searched the rooms, trying to remember where he put his firearm. It had been awhile since he felt he needed it.
Eva felt much better after the shower, and ventured to Sadie’s room. She heard nothing coming from inside, and cracked the door to peak. Sadie was passed out in typical teen fashion, covered up to her eyebrows in blankets. Eva shook her head and smiled before closing the door quietly. As she made her way downstairs, she heard a lot of voices – male voices. “What’s going on?” she asked as she rounded the corner. “Michael? What are you doing here? And who is,” she gestured to a man near the door, “this guy?”
Daniel went to Eva and held her by the upper arms gently. “Louis is on his way home. That guy,” he nodded towards the door, “is Sabastian. He and Michael are going to design a crisis plan.” Eva’s eyes seemed to double in size. He continued. “I’ve made plans to move Mom and Sadie to my place. Louis wasn’t expecting them here when he got back, anyway.”
Eva’s eyes fluttered and Daniel immediately set her in the closest chair. Once he settled her, Dee stood beside her in a protective manner. “You’re just going to leave her here by herself?” she spat at Daniel.
“No, no! Sebastian is going to be here covering the house. I’ll be stationary above the garage.” Daniel paused. “The first place he will come is here, and he’s going to be pissed when he can’t get in the house.” He crouched on his heels and looked Eva in the eyes. “If he’s capable of what we saw in those pictures, he’s capable of hurting you. And that I will not have.” Standing up, he motioned for Michael and Sabastian to follow him and the men went outside.
Eva sat in the chair, shocked and unable to speak, with Dee still beside her. “I knew there would be a crossfire,” Dee said. “I’d better finish that quiche so they can eat. Then,” she paused, “I’ll get Sadie up and ready to go.” She filled Eva’s cup and set it front of her, then went to the pantry for the Scotch. “This will help,” she said and poured a small amount in the cup.
Daniel, Michael and Sebastian were coming around the corner of the house when the security van pulled in the driveway. Michael, in uniform, greeted the men and explained the situation. He really liked this firm. All the employees were former military, some with service records only top-level administration could access. The men got out of the van and Michael introduced them to Daniel and Sebastian.
In less than two hours, they had the property rigged with motion sensor lights, cameras which automatically recorded if something more than a hundred pounds passed within its range, as well as recording devices designed to pick up human voices only. After all the recording equipment was placed above the garage, the five men went into the house.
Dee had finished the quiche and her suitcase was ready near the door. “They’re in the living room,” she said, answering Daniel’s silent question. He headed for the living room to prepare Eva. Dee offered the four men in front of her a slice of the quiche and cop of coffee. They all accepted the offer and thanked her. She nodded and set about to feed the hungry men.
Eva and Sadie were curled up on the couch, Sadie crying and Eva attempting to console her. Daniel sat at the end of the couch and held his arms out to her. Sadie crawled into them and cried harder. He put a hand on her head and made soothing noises. “Shhh, it will be alright. We’re taking care of it, babe. I won’t let anyone hurt your mom, or you, or G’ma Dee.” He lifted her snot-covered and puffy face. “You do believe me, don’t you?” Sadie closed her eyes and nodded. He let her head fall on his shoulder and spoke to softly. “I’ve got a detail for my place, too. Three man team. I can’t tell you any more than that. But you can trust they won’t let anyone near them.”
Eva nodded and slid off the couch to sit closer to Daniel and Sadie. He put her arm around her and whispered, “I’m not letting anyone hurt my girls.”
Michael came in and cleared his throat. When Daniel looked up, Michael said, “I just called in a favor at the airport. Louis’ flight is scheduled to land in about two hours. We need to get this show on the road.”
Daniel nodded, and gently pushed Sadie out of his lap. She curled into a ball and Eva sat with her, holding her close. “Do what you need to do, Daniel,” she said and smoothed the hair from Sadie’s face.
Sadie sniffled and said, “Kick his ass, Dad. He doesn’t deserve our family.”
Daniel gave then each a kiss and said, “I’ll be back before his plane lands.” Turning his back to them, he felt like it might be the last time. He knew what Louis could do, had seen him in action. Thankfully, he planned accordingly.
The car arrived a short time later for Sadie and Dee. The women shared a teary goodbye in the driveway, leaving Eva standing there alone. She felt alone, anyway. She knew there were men on the property preparing for the possibility of Louis having a psychotic break and hurting her. Or worse. She shuddered at the thought of Louis’ capabilities, what he might do to her if pushed too far. And, she was willing to admit, the divorce papers might be the push to send him over the edge.
Daniel cleared his throat behind her and she jumped, letting out a shriek. “Damn it, Daniel! Don’t do that…” She put a hand on her throat and swallowed. “I almost wet myself.”
Reaching for her hand, he said, “I’m sorry. I know you’re freaking out and I should be more careful. You’re not used to all this…” his other hand sweeping out around them, “and I am.” He paused. “This is what I did in the military, babe. I know what I’m doing,” he assured her. “Let’s go inside and hammer out the final details. The guys are already place.”
She nodded and allowed him to propel her into the garage.
Louis’ plane landed just as the sun set, giving the Bangor skyline a surreal quality. A storm was coming, he could feel it. Little did he know the storm wasn’t the work of Mother Nature. He got off the plane and went to baggage claim. Thankfully, he was able to travel with just the one suitcase even for long trips. His hotels always had a dry-cleaning service. Louis picked up his suitcase and went out into the chilly November evening, hoping to catch a waiting cab. He was in luck, it seemed. He motioned for the closest taxi and got in, giving the driver the address to the house he and Eva shared.
When the car pulled into the drive, he noticed the garage was closed and only a light on in the kitchen. The rest of the house was cloaked in darkness. “Hmm, interesting.” he said aloud. Getting out of the car, he handed the driver a handful of money and thanked him. He watched the car leave before going up the front steps.
As he put his key in the lock, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He shifted slightly for a better angle in time to see the neighbor’s cat scurrying from under the bushes. “Damn cat,” he said, watching it round the side of the house. Once again he slide the key in and tried to turn it. He frowned. “What the hell?” Louis set the suitcase down and jiggled the knob. No luck. He swore under his breath and tried again. Still nothing.
He sighed and pulled out his cell phone, unaware of the man crouched in the shadows twenty feet away. “Eva? I can’t get in the house. Can you let me in? What do you mean ‘no’? This is my house too, damn it…Oh, that’s bullshit! Open the fucking door!” he yelled and slammed his fist against it.
The camera located in the corner of the window captured his rant and physical display. The man in the shadows did not move, only observed and waited.
Louis began pounding the door in earnest, both hands held in tight fists. The cell phone took as much a beating as the door itself. He screamed obscenities, shouted threats. All of this being recorded without his knowledge. After several moments, he stopped, breathing heavily. “Fine, bitch! I can still get in and you know it!” he yelled at the house, almost certain she was standing on the other side of the door.
Leaving his suitcase on the steps, he walked around the back of the house to the sliding glass doors, noting the heavy iron patio furniture was still out. Smiling, he looked at the house. “Told you I can get in, didn’t I?” he asked. He took off his overcoat and laid it carefully over the rail. Quietly mounting the steps, he reached for one of the chairs. As he hoisted it over his head, he heard a whirring noise, but paid no attention. He was pissed and he was getting into his house one way or another. Taking a deep breath, Louis launched the chair at the doors, shattering both panes completely out of their frames.
A breeze had kicked up, blowing the drapes into the room. The floor now covered in shards of glass. He stepped over the threshold, the glass crunching beneath his shoes. “I know you’re here,” he said in a sing-song voice. “You can’t hide from me, you know.”
Once he cleared the glass-covered living room floor, he took off his shoes and laid them quietly in the chair. Mounting the stairs slowly, crouched down, he made his way towards their bedroom. If Eva was hiding anywhere, it would be in that monstrosity of a closet. He could picture her shivering behind the clothes, trying not to make noise. It brought a twisted smile to his handsome face. He felt powerful in this moment. The predator stalking its prey. His experiences in Salt Lake only added to the anticipation of what he would do to Eva once he found her.