Summer Kids

When Lucas Tweedle, leader of Left Hand Private Investigators, receives a box containing a film he hasn't seen in years, he is prompted on a road trip across miles and years. He has to save Eva Grey, the only girl that ever loved his teenage self.
She may be in the clutches of the Nemesis Crime Ring but the memories of the summer after college graduation haunt the both of them.

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17. BROKEN HOUSES

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN - BROKEN HOUSES

JAMES

James had been a black man in Newcastle running a gym after his boxing career had tanked. His father had messed with the wrong people and he had gotten pulled into it. His dream of beating people into the ground for a living was ruined and he had been training others to do what he wanted to do instead.

But an interest of his had been serial killers. He had always wanted to know what made them do what they did and so he was either being a referee to people in the ring or he was in the corner of the gym with the stack of books that he always kept on hand.

He saw the ad for a newly formed Left Hand Investigators on a lamp post outside the gym and went along for an interview. Lucas had thought him as clever when he asked why someone like him was at a private investigators with no criminal investigatory experience. James told him about his interest and two weeks later after screening many others Lucas agreed that he would train James up and in the meantime James would be the team’s defender.

For once he was doing something different to expectations and being appreciated for both his body and his intelligence.

It was why he felt strongly about defending not only physical threats from his boss but mental ones as well. This was the reason why he let Lucas sleep in that morning.

“I thought Lucas liked us to always meet at nine?” Shawna asked around the courtesy breakfast that the hotel provided.

“Yes but Lucas is dead to the world, you know how much stress he is in.” James fought off each and every attempt for them to wake their boss up just to fuel their excitement at getting to actually work.

“James is right, he fell asleep before two in the morning yesterday and he almost never does that these day,” Edward was buttering toast, using the same knife for the jam. It was a pet peeve of James but saying anything would do absolutely nothing. He had been in the team long enough to know that by now.

So James said nothing.

“It’s the whole thing with Eva, he’s cracked a bit because of it.” James muttered, dipping his own spoon in his cereal. Some people said it was childish to still be eating cereal even in his thirties but James didn’t care, it reminded him of home and anyone that would object to that could go shove themselves where the sun didn’t shine.

 

LUCAS

Lucas woke facing the board that he and the team had been working on, the clock had been knocked aside and it took some squinting and concentration to realise that it read ten thirty in the morning.

He leaped up, the time he has spent sleeping was time spent wasted as Eva spent more time in the compound.

He yelped, throwing on a blue shirt and black pants and snapping a photo of the board to put on DataRetriever for later perusal. He ran down to the breakfast room coming across his team who sat as calmly as a pet.

“Why didn’t you wake me?” he asked, shoving a glass of orange juice down his throat just to say that he technically had breakfast.

“You needed the sleep.” James looked up at him behind his eyelashes and the team just looked at him like he was still asleep.

He knew not to object to what James said, from past experiences he knew that if he objected too much James wouldn’t hesitate to put him into a friendly choke hold until he relented.  

So he just got on with it and ushered his team to the police station where they gained the keys to Eva’s house and they were one step closer to finding her.

Eva’s house was modest, something like a cottage, and it reminded Lucas of her parents’ house. Perhaps they had chosen it for that reason; to simply be close to their daughter in the way that they no longer could.

Nothing had been changed from when the forensics team had been there, something about preserving the crime scene so that they could go back if they missed anything. It was as though they had anticipated that Lucas and his team would come to investigate it themselves.

The house was perfect from the ground floor, the only thing that was out of place was the scuff mark on the door post from where someone had shoved open the door too quick, that person could have been Eva or her kidnapper they didn’t know.

His team checked the downstairs and found it immaculate, it was only when they ventured to the upstairs that things went to hell. There was fingernail marks in the banister at the top of the staircase, scratched deep into the white wood. Eva must have put up a fight because that was the kind of person she was. The marks cut off before the end of the wood. Lucas winced. He had a feeling he would be doing that a lot while he was in the house.

“The reports said that they thought that she was drugged,” Shawna muttered, looking up from the file on her phone, “I however think that she fell down the stairs, there’s a slight discrepancy to the carpet at the bottom.”

And now that he looked at it Lucas could tell that the carpet had been forced aside just a little, as though a force exerted on it had made it that way.

The combinations of drugs and a head wound wouldn’t have been great for Eva.

There were more fingernail marks on the banister of Eva’s bedroom door, there was a bash on the wood around her window, the wardrobe had no doors, and a baseball bat was left haphazardly in the middle of the room as though she had dropped it.

“There were multiple assailants, that’s clear. In the note she said that someone came in the door and from this room it looked like someone came through the window.” Shawna continued, writing this down in the notes sections of DataRetriever.

“Eva hid in the wardrobe, probably with the baseball bat in hand, and the assailants congregated into a mass attack, they probably chose chloroform to stick into her face to make her woozy straight away.” Edward mentioned kneeling down to look at the baseball bat.

Eva hadn't stood a chance, not really.

“The baseball bat has blood on it,” Edward mentioned, poking just below a reddish stain on the wood, “She got one of her attackers good.” Edward sounded impressed and so was Lucas.

Lucas had always known that Eva’s weapon of choice was a baseball bat. She didn’t know how to use it in a game but she knew how to swing it with the force of her mind and body behind it. Many of times he had tried to sneak into her room and he had had to avoid the swing with a carefully placed duck.

“I’m going to have a look round the house,” Lucas muttered, not being to picture the horrific events that would have led to Eva being kidnapped.

The kitchen looked like Eva had always dreamed, a pale blue mixer tucked away in the corner with matching kettle. There was green and brown mugs stacked up on a stand that looked like a metal person had a billion arms holding the cups

There was a list on the fridge of what Eva would have needed at grocery shopping the next week and there were magnets from garish souvenir shops, of cartoonish highland cows and men in kilts.

It was the place of someone happy, someone who was finally making a living for themselves.

The living room was cream walls and red accents, the coffee table still having children’s work on it ready to mark.

The house looked like was a picture, taken right before Eva had been kidnapped. A still fraction of Eva’s life before chaos had descended.

Lucas couldn’t stand it and he hated the Crime Ring for doing this to people, for wrecking their lives so that everything halted to a single moment instead of progressing into a series of days and moments.

He didn’t find anything wrong in the laundry room, a basket of dried washing waiting to be put on the line, but he did notice something in the landing as Lucas was walking back to the bedroom. The hatch to the attic didn’t quite fit right.

“Is there ladders anywhere up here?” Lucas asked his team who were still pottering about in Eva’s room.

“There’s a cupboard in the bathroom which has them in,” James called back and Lucas was quick to get them and set them up.

He pushed his hands on the hatch and it came away easily, the corner already lifted a little. A torch was fixed to the other end of the hatch and Lucas took this up, turning it on to see the inside of the attic.

The attic had a floor and that was pretty much it. But tucked away in the corner there were blankets and rappers on the floor. Eva had always hated attics, she hated how dark and eerie they appeared to be. She had said that she wouldn’t buy a house unless it didn’t have an attic or if it was her dream home. Apparently, this was her dream home for her to be able to stand the attic in the first place.

So Eva would never sleep in the attic, which meant that someone had been sleeping there in her stead. He was disgusted and therefore couldn’t stay in the attic any longer.

“Someone was staying in the attic, it looks like it’s been a while, a couple of days at least.”

His words made every one of his team cringe. It was the thing of nightmares and films, the creepy man living in the attic. For Eva that nightmare had sadly become reality.

“Jesus,” James muttered, looking underneath the bed as Lucas peered his head round the corner.

Lucas didn’t want to stay there anymore, but for the sake of data collection, he had no choice.

“The war came down on Eva that day,” he muttered just to be poetic because it was not just one assailant that had come for Eva it was at least three, one in the door, one from the window and one from the attic. “She should have won but she sadly lost.”

Lucas could just imagine her bloodied and bruised and desperate to win against them and failing under the sheer strength that they had over her.

It was a sad image, an unfair image, and it made Lucas feel nauseous in a way that made him human. 

 

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