Short Story – Holiday Thriller Part III

Standing in the kitchen the morning after finding the box on her porch, she stared at the food cooking on the stove and listening to her children as their noises filled the house. What does this mean? Soon? Was this a message from John or maybe it was someone leaving me a message about what happened to him.

There wasn’t time to think too much about it now. She needed to focus on getting the kids fed and off to their various schools. Once she finished getting them settled into their day, then she would start digging into this more. Her heart hurt as she thought about John and wht might have happened to him. She hadn’t let herself think too much about it anymore because every time she did it only hurt worse. It wasn’t worth the debilitating form it put her in. Staying strong for her kids is what matters now and that’s what she would do.

Getting back to focusing on making breakfast, she breezed through the motions, got them fed and headed out to get them all of to school. 

——–

Returning home, she made a large cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table allowing herself to think through the last days with John. He had started acting differently a few months before the day he went missing, but she had convinced herself that it was nothing. It couldn’t be anything really other than stress at work. He was an amazing husband and their relationship had always been strong and uncompromised. 

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But little things started creeping back into her memory. Like catching him in little lies. He would say he was home late or leaving early for a client meeting, but would mix up his details upon returning home that night. She never let herself think too much about it because he was a busy man with an important job.

However, looking back on it now, it did seem a little strange that it only started right before he went missing. It was time she looked through his things to see if she could figure out what might have been going on. 

Had he been in some kind of trouble with work? Was he having an affair? 

Her mind started wandering in all different directions and she could feel her heart rate climbing as a number of possibilities entered her mind. Setting her coffee down and briskly jogging up their old wooden staircase, she went straight to John’s study. The door was still closed. Had been closed since the day after he disappeared. She was too afraid to enter the room because it was so much easier to just not think about the man she loved so deeply …just being gone.

Today was different though. She needed some answers and there was only place she might find a link to what happened to him. Setting her palm on the handle, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Turning it gently she pushed open the door. All the smells of her husband hit her instantly and overwhelmed her senses. Tears stung her eyes and she as frozen in the spot. 

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Willng her eyes to open she surveyed the room. The back wall was a beautiful full window with long, dark drapes that were open and spilling light ito the room. His mahogany desk sat in the middle of the room with nothing on it. His laptop had been in the hotel room when he disappeared and was kept by the police as evidence. They returned it a few weeks later and it was boxed up in the attic with his other belongs.

She made a mental note to herself to check that box later too. But she already knew there wasn’t going to be much to find there. The side walls were entirely filled with bookshelves and all the text books he had read when he studied law in college, as well as his personal intertesting in Psychology and Architecture. He had so many beautiful and fascinating book lined in this office. 

Her eyes scanned the room. Dust had built on top of everything in here and looked like it had been a room of antiques rather than the one place her husband spent most of his time when he was home. Nothing seemed out of place and after this long, it would be hard to tell where John may have spent most of his time in this room or what he would have been working on. But then something on one of the bookshelves caught her attention. 

John was very meticulous with his books and they were all lined up perfectly without a single one out of place. Except for this one book that was high enough up she couldn’t reach it easily. It was pulled out a little ways, enough that he must have returned it to its spot in a rush and didn’t push it all the way back in.

Locating a small step ladder in the corner behind the door, she moved it over to the case with the misplaced book. Stepping up on the ladder, she peered at the shelf. It was filled with business law and litigation books. The one sticking out had an unmarked spine and was a slightly different green color than the other books surrounding it. She pulled the book out and saw there were no marking anywhere on the outside of it and it was about an inch or so thick. Holding the book close, she stepped off the little ladder and took  a seat at John’s desk. Laying the book on the surface she pulled open the cover and realized it was a journal of sorts.

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