Tears burned in Kay's eyes. She kept telling herself to be strong, don't show him weakness. And she did just that when it came to some things. She held steadfast when he had cut her, when he had made Eli whip her back into bloody stripes, when he smashed her head against the bathroom wall. But not this. Why was it that one simple body part could reduce her to this helpless, sobbing mess? One swift motion and he had destroyed all the strength she had built up in her mind. And in that moment, the only hatred she had was for herself.
She wished Eli would come in and sit in the dark with her. She had no idea how long he would be mad at her for taking digs at his conscience and now she wished she hadn't done it. She did not mind looking weak in front of just Eli. He had seen her at her lowest several years ago. He had kept her afloat when all she had wanted to do was drown. What changed? What was J holding against Eli that had turned him into this?
She finally felt herself drifting off into a fitful sleep.
David waited, somewhat impatiently, while Chloe searched the internet.
"No social media accounts," she mumbled. "I found his old address which is where his mom lives still, I think, so that's probably where we'll have to start."
Gina shook her head. "I just don't understand what Eli has to do with this. He was such a wonderful young man, he'd never hurt Kay."
"I don't think it was Eli, Mom," Chloe said.
"It might be someone that he knows," David put it. "We find Eli, we find Kay...I hope."
"This seems like a long shot," Gina argued. "Why not let the police know about whoever it is you think it is? You should stay out of it and let them do their job."
David stood abruptly. "Are you kidding me?" he shouted. He waved his hand at the tv. "You saw what they said on the news. The police aren't even taking this seriously. My wife is in danger and even you, her own mother, are acting like it's no big deal!"
"You think I'm not worried about her? Of course I am! But what can we do? We aren't detectives. If these people are as dangerous as you think, you cannot put yourself in harm's way. Think about your own daughter!"
As if on cue, a baby cry came from down the hall. David gave his mother-in-law an angry glare and then stormed off toward the baby's room. He softly shut the door and picked up the baby. She snuggled into his shoulder and sucked her thumb.
"Don't worry, sweetheart," he whispered while gently rocking her. "Daddy's gonna bring Mommy home. Don't you worry."
When Kay awoke, she noticed a small box beside her on the bed. It was one of those single serving boxes of cereal. A note next to it simply read: "J is hungover. Be quiet. Please eat. I'm sorry." And a frowning face at the bottom.
She crumpled the note and threw it across the room. She ripped the box open and ate the cereal, one piece at a time. She had to admit that finally eating something made her feel a little better. She sat up and took another look at her arm. The stitches were still as perfect as they were the night before. She sighed deeply and let her mind wander. Eli had known what her arm needed. He had been a paramedic-or still was, for all she knew- and was dating someone who was more than obviously a nurse. A nurse who stole things from the hospital she worked at.
Her thoughts drifted back to the gun Eli had tried to threaten her with. She reasoned that either him or J had to have bullets for it somewhere in the house.
J. The note said he was hungover so that meant he was one of two things: sick and weak or sick and mean. She hoped for the first option, but certainly would not bet on it.
She moved quietly across the room and placed her ear against the door. A faint sound of running water came from the other side. She tried the handle and was surprised when the door opened. She held her breath as the hinges let out a squeak. She tiptoed down the short hallway and peeked around into the main room.
Eli was sitting at the table with a mug in one hand. She continued down the hall to the next door which was the bathroom. The running water was coming from the shower. She hurried to the last door. Another bedroom with a bed and a nightstand stood before her. She quickly opened the first nightstand drawer and saw only an ashtray full of weed roaches. She opened the second drawer. She began rifling through the stack of Hustler magazines and nearly jumped back at the sight of a syringe. She shut the drawers and took a quick peek under the bed. Nothing. She moved her search to the closet and and found a pile of clothes.
She heard the shower turn off and hurried out, nearly bumping into Eli in the hallway.
"The fuck are you doing?" he asked in a hushed, angry tone.
"I-I was just looking to see if there was another bathroom," Kay sputtered.
"Well, there's not."
J's naked body appeared. "We having a party out here?" he grumbled.
"Bitch has to pee."
J motioned to the now empty bathroom. Kay tried to shut the door, but J stopped it with his hand. "It stays open."
Kay sat down and managed to squeeze out a little pee.
"Well, I know you're enjoying the show," J said, thrusting his penis in her face. "But I'm going to get dressed now." He slammed his bedroom door shut and Kay followed Eli into the kitchen.
"Eli?" she ventured quietly.
"What?" He picked up the mug and took a long drink.
"I'm sorry. About last night, I shouldn't have said any of that."
"Forget it." He dumped the remainder of his coffee in the sink.
Kay stepped up behind him and ran her hands across his back. "Eli." She slipped her arms around his waist and rested her cheek between his shoulder blades.
He placed his hands over hers and sighed. "Kay, please don't."
"You can make all of this stop. You know that."
A buzzing sound came from Eli's pocket and Kay stepped back as he pulled out his phone. He rolled his eyes before answering.
"Hi, Mom," he said with a heavy breath.