Chapter Thirteen; Part Two
We talk about other things for a few more minutes, but I’m eager to get home so I can think about Lydia’s revelation. Once I’m there, I feed my cats some treats before retiring to the living room. I pull up a Google tab, but then stop short. What am I supposed to Google? In order for a search to be effective, I need good parameters. I can Google tongues being cut out and eyes being gouged out all I want, but it’s not helpful if I don’t already have some connection between the two. Something hits me. I was so excited by Lydia’s suggestion, I overlooked one thing—if she’s right, the only thing that connects the two is me. Yes, Julianna and Rembrandt saw each other at the club when Rembrandt and I first met, but they didn’t even say ‘hey’ to each other. So, if the two attacks are connected, then it has to be because of me.
I slump back in the couch, stunned by my realization. I’d been so focused on who would want to kill Julianna, I developed tunnel vision. If Julianna’s murder has to do with me, then I have to recalibrate everything I thought I’d already known about this case. Wait a minute. If I’m the connection, then who the hell would want to hurt me by attacking my loved ones/friends? I don’t have any enemies that I know of, and more than that, even if I did, none of them would know I was dating Rembrandt. I only told a few people, and one of them is dead. The others are beyond reproach, so what does that leave? As I’m thinking about it, I decide to check my blog. As it’s loading, I realize that’s the answer. My blog. I wrote about Julianna the night before her death, and I wrote something about her voice being the first thing I was drawn to. Then, after my last date with Rembrandt, I wrote about his eyes. Whoever did this is reading my blog. The bile rises in my throat, and I race to the toilet just in time. I vomit until I only have dry heaves left. It’s my fault Julianna is dead and Rembrandt lost an eye. I dry heave some more until my stomach hurts. Once I’m done, I slump down, too exhausted to move. The tears well up in my eyes, but they refuse to fall. I know I have to look over those posts and see what I can find, but not just yet. If I’m lucky, I’ll find something in the comments. If I’m not, it’ll be a lurker who doesn’t comment who has been doing these terrible things.
I stand up, my knees weak, and wobble my way to the sink. My cats are on top of the counter, staring at me in concern. I try to smile reassuringly at them, but I can’t seem to get my facial muscles to work. I pour myself a glass of water and drink it quickly. I splash water on my face, but nothing seems to help. Someone is killing people I love or like because of me. I stagger to the kitchen and boil some water for tea. Once it’s boiling, I make myself a cup of peppermint tea. I need energy if I’m going to do something about this. I give my babies some treats and then go to the living room. I sit on the couch and wake up my laptop. I take a deep breath and go through my post about Rembrandt. I read the comments, but nothing really stands out. Except…I open another tab and pull up my post about Julianna, the one I wrote right before her death. I scan both the comments, and then I notice it. QueenBee’s comments. On the one I wrote on Julianna’s birthday, she said, “All bark and no bite. You can tell she’s got no substance, and her voice is ugly, too. I don’t know what you see in her.” After my post on Rembrandt, she wrote, “You couldn’t wait to move on, could you? Was what you wrote about Julianna a lie? Now you’re just taken in by a pair of pretty eyes.” There it is. QueenBee is the killer, and she has to be local.
I hear a noise outside. I stand up and grab my metal sword and phone before going down the hall. I punch in 9-1 before turning on the front porch lights and peering out the peephole. Nothing. I heft the sword in the air as I open the door and poke my head out. I don’t see anyone, but there’s a box on my doorstep. It’s wrapped, tied up with a pretty pink bow, and has a gift tag attached. This is not good. I hesitate, go back inside, lock the doors, grab a pair of latex gloves, then go back outside. I pick up the box and bring it inside, locking the door behind me. I take the box into the living room and set it on the coffee table. I stare at it in trepidation. Should I open it or should I call the police right away? I probably should call the cops, but I’m curious. I pluck the tag from the box and I read it. “I will be your eyes and your voice.” Not good. It’s the killer. Do I even want to know what’s in the box? I suspect I know what it is, and I most definitely do not want to see. However, I also have to know, so I gingerly untie the bow and open the box. In it are a tongue and a brown eye, both covered in congealed blood. Even though it’s what I expected. I gag and drop the lid of the box before rushing to the kitchen sink. I retch, although I have nothing in my stomach. I call Detective Quentin, and when his weary voice answers, I blurt out what I’d found and what I think.
“Don’t touch anything.” Detective Quentin’s voice is energized, which means he’s probably been hitting his head against a wall up until now. “We’ll be right there.” I hang up and sit on the couch, numb. Onyx and Jet snuggle against me, and I pet their fur to soothe the agitation in my brain. Someone hates me enough to do this to me, and I have to figure out who it is. Soon, my doorbell rings. I go to the hallway with my sword in hand and peek out the peephole. It’s the cops. I relax my grip on my sword and lean it against the wall in its hilt before opening the door.
“Come in, detectives.” I open my door and gesture to the detectives. Even though it’s ten p.m., Detective Quentin looks as fresh as a daisy in a charcoal gray pinstripe suit. Detective Lorrimore, on the other hand, looks haggard and worn in her lime green pantsuit. After the case is over, maybe I’ll drop a discreet hint that she would look much better in solid and dark colors, but now is not the time.