Her entire body felt numb. A soul crushing numbness that began to eat at her insides, and travel through her veins like a virus, meant to kill her.
My dad? Daddy?
None of it made sense. How could her own dad be behind any of this? He’d taught her how to ride a bike, how to tie her shoe, and drive.
His soft smile always put Delaney at ease. And to know that he was someone else’s fear. That he tortured Katy. He potentially killed Patch’s mother, and was behind The South Side?
Why? Nothing made sense. She tried to put everything together, but nothing fit. It was a jigsaw puzzle with no matching pieces, that she didn’t know if it would ever come together.
Her father’s eyes looked so lifeless when she stared into them. Tears coated her cheeks, and her bottom lip trembled.
When Patch sprung into action, none of it registered. She stood like statue, waiting to wake up from her dream, but it didn’t happen.
She didn’t even remember locking the door, or Gabriel getting arrested. It was a stressful surreal blur of events that sent her spiraling down into a pit of despair.
Patch’s strong hands pulled her from a crazed dream, and she sat up, looking around at the living room at the Airbnb.
“Delaney,” he said, forcing her to look at him. “Are you okay? You were having a nightmare.”
Did she? She didn’t remember. The entire day had seemed like a nightmare to her. “What time is it? How long have I been asleep?”
Patch sat down on the coffee table and stared at her. He looked tired and worn down. “About four hours. It’s dinner time. Are you hungry?”
She looked around, noticing no one else was in the room. “No. Where is everyone? What happened?”
Patch looked at her with a confused look. His handsome face tormented, and she didn’t know what to expect. “Your brother is with Katy in the hospital, and Joey is there too for treatment. You fainted, and once the EMTs cleared you, I told them I would stay here with you.”
“Did they get Gabriel? What about Dad and Beth?”
Patch slid his thumb over her bottom lip. “Gabriel was arrested but your dad and Beth got away before the police made it there.”
Delaney didn’t know what to feel. Should she be happy because her dad got away? Or pissed that he did get away?
A tear slipped down her cheek, and Patch pulled her face to his chest. “Baby,” he whispered. “It’s okay.”
She shook her head. “No, it’s not okay. My dad was going to kill Katy, Patch. He killed your mother. The belt was the same one I saw at Katy’s and the one you saw in evidence. What is he some kind of psychopath—,”
“Delaney, calm down. The police mentioned that they think your dad is linked to murders around this area since the early 80s. They think he is a serial killer.”
Delaney’s stomach bottomed out, and she ran toward the kitchen trash to vomit. Her head spun circles, and she tried to gain her composure but her entire body convulsed.
Patch knelt beside her and patted her back, running slow circles over her back. Delaney finished and sat back on her butt and pulled her knees to her chin. “I can’t believe this. Im so sorry, Patch. I can’t believe my dad would do this—,”
“Don’t you dare,” he said. “This isn’t your fault. I don’t want your apology. Your dad is going to pay for this, and once he does, it’ll be done. We can move on.”
“What do you mean? Do you know where he is?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I have an idea or two. So does Lucas. We know he most likely grabbed the money from the duffle at the storage building. And they have cameras. It will give us an idea on which way he went—,”
“Patch, getting those videos will take days. He’ll be long gone by then.”
He nodded, and helped her up. “I know, Delaney. But we have to try. Until then, you’ll stay with me and we’ll figure this out.”
She wiped her eyes. “I’m scared.”
“Don’t be,” he whispered. “Your dad isn’t stupid, he won’t show up here. He knows the police is searching for him.”
“I’m not scared of my dad,” she said. “I’m scared that he’ll come for you. Or me. I’m scared he’ll go to prison even though he deserves it, he is my dad.”
Patch nodded. “I understand. Come here. Let’s get you a shower.”
Patch helped Delaney up the stairs and into the shower. She stood there underneath the hot stream until it turned cold and Patch pulled her to the bed.
She spent hours analyzing her childhood. The trips they took, the times her dad would go away for work, and the late nights with the babysitter. Did her dad even love her?
Her eyes didn’t close until the sun began to rise, and thankfully Patch let her sleep in the next day.
She found her way downstairs around noon, Katy and Joey both sat at the kitchen island while the boys stood outside of the sliding doors outside.
Joey turned to look at her first and Katy did next. Tears began to race down her face, and Katy stood up and wrapped her arms around her waist.
“I’m so sorry …”
“This isn’t your fault,” Katy said. “You saved me, Delaney. You found me, and you’re the reason I’m not dead right now.”
Katy sighed. “After I left the bakery with you, Gabriel followed me home, and snatched me. When I woke up, I was in the basement, tied up and your dad was waiting on me. And I don’t think you need to hear anything else.”
Delaney opened her mouth to argue but the sliding glass doors opened. Hi dark eyes settled on hers. “How are you feeling?”
We She shrugged. “Ok.”
He didn’t believe her, but walked around and made her a cup of coffee.
Delaney took the cup and took a taste, the green and brown mug looked familiar, and she tried to pinpoint it.
Lucas walked in and kissed Katy’s forehead. “I spoke with the storage unit. They were there yesterday, and the duffle has been emptied. Looks like they are in the sun.”
Delaney imagined Beth being dragged around with dad, probably sad that she ever met him.
She trailed her fingertip around the rim of her mug and stared down at the muddy colored coffee.
“Have they got Gabriel to talk?” Patched asked.
Lucas shrugged. “Don’t know. All I know is that you’re off the hook. Your lawyer called this morning.”
Delaney felt Patch’s gaze on her, but she stared down at her coffee. Something about it was familiar. She glanced at the side. It read Mountain Lake State Park.
Why did that sound familiar?
“Dax called me and wants to talk later,” Patch said.
“I’ll go with you,” Lucas said. “Delaney are you okay? Do you want to talk about it—“
“Where do you get this mug?” she asked.
Lucas looked confused, but started at it for a few seconds. “I don’t know. When I bought this place dad brought over a few dishes for me to leave here. Why?”
She turned it around and pointed. “This doesn’t look familiar to you?”
He sat down beside Katy and shook his head. “No.”
She shook her head and stood up to down the rest. She walked over to the sink to rinse it out and everything hit her.
The rush of water struck a nerve, and she dropped the mug and shattered it. “I know where he is,” she whispered. She turned around to face them. “He took me there once, at night, while he thought I was asleep. It’s a cabin, and that mug was there.”
The shade of white on Delaney's face grew more pale by the second. Something traveled over her features, and realization settled there. She didn't even budge when the mug shattered to pieces at her feet. "What do you mean?" Patch asked after everyone became quiet. "You remember the mug? Couldn't it have come from your house--," She shook her head. "No. I vividly remember the mug and the cabin," she said, leaning against the island, she palmed her head in confusion. "I was around eight or so. We'd gone somewhere, and after dinner I was so sleepy, I fell asleep in the backseat. Dad must have thought I was out of it, and left me in the car while it was running," she whispered, her gaze traveling some place far off. "I stumbled out of the car, and into the cabin. I'd never been there before, it was old, and smelled like grandma's house. I remember feeling thirsty, so I poured myself a glass of water with a mug from the cabinet. I grabbed that mug," she said softly. "I yelled for Dad, an
The searing pain in Patch’s shoulder throbbed in sync with his heartbeat. He’d never been shot before, and he realized quickly he was glad for it. Delaney's voice wavered in and out of his hearing, her soft touches seemed light years away. Patch didn’t even realize the EMTs had arrived until they lugged him up and onto the gurney. They lifted him with a struggle up the spiral staircase as he heard the police reading Delaney's father his rights. He knew everything would be cleared now. The police had no choice but to drop their case against Patch and his mother. They figured it out. They knew who was behind the killings, and The South Side. Most likely other killings as well. Maybe they could settle solve other murders or mysteries now that he was caught. But Patch knew that the struggle wasn’t completely over. His best friend and his girlfriend just found out that their father was a murderer. A serial killer. A man they didn’t know him to be. The hurt in Delaney's voice and her
The sound of Delaney's car door slamming behind her, and peace the front seat of her car brought, made her smile. She'd spent most of the day studying in-between her grad school classes, before she needed to get home to whip up something for dinner. She'd spent the majority of the semester, trying her hardest to get the last few months out of her brain. Well, the bad parts of it at least. Those months brought her back into Patch Larson's sight. The mention of his name still gave her goosebumps. After his shoulder healed, and she made arrangement for grad school in Florida, they moved. Witout second thought, they gatered their things and moved. No more small town drama. No more of her father's problems, not that he hadn't tried to reach out by phone, and write Lucas wanting her to stop by. Maybe one day she could stop by, but at the moment, she didn't want to hear his lies or excuses. Having to go back for the trial would be enough for her. She hated that Patch had to relive a