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Chapter 11

Dalby slammed the door shut behind them and pointed at a kitchen chair.

"Sit," he commanded, "I want the truth."

Cindy sat down. Her only condition had been going somewhere else; talking about this stuff on the street wasn't safe.

"What do you want to know?" she asked, surprisingly calmly.

"Start with the beginning," Dalby replied, "And tell me everything."

Cindy took a deep breath.

"Okay," she said, I guess it all started when I was fifteen and got my first boyfriend..."

Catherine nervously put down the teacup.

"Why are you so late?" she asked.

"Work," Oscar replied, "I stayed late."


It was stupid, she wanted to believe him, but deep down she knew he was lying again.

"I'm going to bed now," Oscar muttered, "I'll be-"

"Oscar, I'm pregnant."

He stared at her. For ten long seconds he just stared at her.

"Are you sure?" he asked. She nodded.

"I forgot something at work," he muttered, "I have to go..."

And without another word he walked out on her, and Catherine knew he wasn't coming home tonight.

"To make a long story short," Cindy continued, and took a sip of the tea he had poured for her, "He wasn't a good guy. He was two years older than me, and I knew he was a badboy. But he was good to me, and the feeling..."

She stopped and stared dreamily at nothing for a second.

"The feeling it gave me to know that I was the only girl he was good to, it made me fall madly in love with him."

Dalby frowned, he didn't understand where this was going.

"What happened?" he asked, softer and milder now.

Cindy swallowed.

"I moved in with him," she said.

She drank more tea, and for the first time Dalby started to realise how much pain Cindy had to be carrying.

"I moved in with him, despite all warnings, and that's when he started treating me bad."

"Did he hit you?" Dalby knew too well how it felt to be hit by someone who was supposed to look after you and love you. Cindy shook her head.

"No," she said, "But he cheated."

She laughed.

"I let it go, because I so badly wanted to think I was wrong about it, but I knew it all along. It was so obvious, and I was so stupid."

"Then what happened?" Dalby asked, realising he was getting dragged into this story whether he wanted it or not.

"He left me," Cindy said, "One day he admitted everything and left me."

"Oscar, who's she?" Catherine asked, staring at the girl next to him. She looked nothing like her. Catherine had always been a pretty girl with long, chestnut colored hair, green eyes and stylish clothes. This girl looked like she had been picked up from the streets. She had black hair that obviously was dyed. She was scrawny, dressed in worn out, black clothes, and she had way too much eyeliner on.

"Look, Catherine," Oscar said, "I'm gonna make this a lot easier for you."

She stared at him, didn't understand.

"You can do whatever you'd like about the pregnancy, I don't care, and if you keep the baby I will pay child support."

She kept staring at him, still not understanding.

"I have a new girlfriend," Oscar said and put his arms around the girl, "We're done. I'm sorry."

Dalby couldn't get rid of the feeling that Cindy had just let out some details from the story, but he didn't want to ask until the story was finished.

"After I found out I wasn't the only one I ran away for the first time," Cindy said, "But when I was back in town a few years later I ran into him."

"You ran into him? That must have been terrible!"

He realised how girly it sounded, but for once Cindy didn't make any jokes, she just nodded.

"I killed him, Dalby," she almost whispered, "I couldn't take it any more, so I killed Oscar."

No one said anything for a while.

"I still don't get it," Dalby suddenly said, "Why did Oscar suddenly come clean? Couldn't he just have kept cheating on you?"

Cindy bit her lip.

"He wanted to get away," she explained, "He had just found out he had gotten me pregnant."

"You were pregnant," Dalby exclaimed, shocked, "What happened to the baby?"

"I miscarried," Cindy simply said, "I was stressed out and hurt."

Dalby didn't know what to say. This was a whole lot of new information, but still there was a lot of pieces missing.

"But Catherine..." he muttered, "What has she got to do with this? Was she Oscar's new girlfriend? Did you kill her too?"

Cindy shook her head, and it looked like she had tears in her eyes.

"Oscar's new girlfriend was called Julie," she said, "And as I said I didn't kill Catherine, I only killed Oscar."

"But the police thinks Catherine killed Oscar," Dalby said, getting more and more confused, "Why do you have her letters?"

"You still don't get it, do you?" Cindy asked, "Those are my letters."

Dalby looked at her, he still didn't get anything of this.

"But where is Catherine?" he asked, aware that this wouldn't help him understand it any better.

"Cindy is just a nickname," Cindy whispered, and he could definitely see tears in her eyes now, "My birth name was Catherine Lowell."

She finished the tea, and as Dalby stared at her in the state of shock, a single tear fell down Cindy's face.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 12

The cold water hit her face and she looked into the mirror in front of her, letting the water run down her face, leaving it pale and cold.

Cindy stared at the big, scared eyes in the mirror. They were still green like they had been back then.

But the hair was no longer full and shiny. It was just hanging there. Chestnut, but without the glow.

She wondered to herself if that beauty still was there somewhere, behind all this.

It was his fault, he had taken it all away from her.

Dalby got up from the chair he had practically fell down to.

This was quite a shock, but at the same time it all made so much sense that Cindy was Catherine Lowell.

He had always imagined Cindy having a hard life, but he had no idea it had been like that. Cindy had been kind of like him, coming from a pretty wealthy family, but breaking away from it. Being hurt by someone she loved... He knew that feeling so well.

"We have to go soon, my dad will be back any minute," Dalby said, slowly walking up to her. She had left the bathroom door open, and now she was just standing there, looking at herself in the mirror.

Cindy nodded.

"I'm ready to go," she said.

"Are you okay?"

She turned around and looked at him the moment he asked the question.

"Why wouldn't I be?" she replied.

Dalby thought that was a pretty stupid question, but he just shrugged.

"I just need to know one thing," Cindy continued, "Are you still coming with me to Tassie?"

"Danielle, Donald, so nice to finally see you again!"

Donald laughed warmly and shook their hands.

"So nice to see you again too, Charlie and Owen!"

"And Eric," his wife said, "The last time I saw you, you were just a tiny toddler. Look at you, all grown up!"

"What about Sarah?" Charlie asked, "She must be about Eric's age now?"

"Sarah is seventeen," Danielle said, "She's two months younger than Eric."

They continued the chatting all the way into the living room, where they sat down.

"Darla will be ready with the dinner any minute," Danielle announced, "Charlie and Owen, we really want to show you our new garden project, why don't Eric and Sarah catch up in the meantime?"

The adults left Sarah and Eric alone in the room. It was awkward, they hadn't seen each other in fifteen years.

Sarah was really beautiful. She had long, dark brown hair with a chestnut glow, dark blue eyes and a cute little nose with freckles on it.

"So your mother mentioned the roadtrip you want on this summer, was it fun?" she asked.

Eric woke up.

It was the same dream again, he had it almost every night now. The dream where his mother was alive, his family was happy and they went to a dinner party together.

He met a beautiful girl his parents adored, they became friends, and eventually they fell in love.

No matter how nice this dream felt he wanted it to go away.

Because every time he woke up from it, it was soaking wet, shaking and gasping for air.

Charlie was gone, and this dream would never be a reality.

Dalby closed the door behind them. None of them had said a word to each other since Cindy had asked her question.

Dalby had been thinking about something he hadn't thought about in a long time.

After his mother died he had a dream that kept coming back, the dream where everyone was happy and he met a girl from a family similar to his own.

It wasn't until just now he had started thinking about it again, because suddenly he had realised how much Cindy reminded him of the girl he met in the dream.

If Cindy hadn't met Oscar, and if Charlie hadn't died, then maybe, maybe Cindy had been that girl.

"If you're gonna stay with me, please keep calling me Cindy," Cindy said to him as they left. It was the first thing any of them had said in a long time, "I don't want anyone to suspect anything."

Suddenly it hit Dalby what difference Cindy's story had made.

He had been planning to run away with a possible killer. Cindy was no longer a possible killer, she was much more dangerous; she was Catherine Lowell.

"We're still going to Tassie together, right?" he asked, he had made up his mind now.

For the first time in ages Dalby could see a smile on Cindy's face.

"Of course," she said, smiling, "Of course we're still going to Tassie, Prettyboy..."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 13

Something was changed about Cindy.

Ever since she had told the story, Dalby had noticed she looked paler, and seemed more paranoid. She almost jumped up whenever anyone spoke to her, and her eyes never rested on one spot, but wandered restlessly around the street.

She had cut down on the cigarettes to save more money, and Dalby figured that was part of the reason.

But it wasn't the only reason. Dalby knew very well that this changed behaviour had started when they were out of weed. Because they hadn't been able to sell more of the coke they hadn't been able to sell more weed either.

Whether he wanted to admit it or not he knew it; Cindy was a drug addict.

He had promised himself he wouldn't do this again. He had promised Charlie he wouldn't hurt her and Eric by doing this again.

But Charlie was gone, and he had already blamed his son for the accident. But an accident was all it was, and if it was anybody's fault it was his own.

How he wished he hadn't shouted at her, telling her what to do.

He hadn't really realised how great his life was until it was all shattered and changed.

He couldn't even look his son in the eyes anymore, all he could do was blame Eric for this. It was like a compulsion, he didn't want to, but he had to.

He knew breaking his promise to Charlie about not doing this again would change everything, but just like last time he wanted to believe it could change it for the better.

Knowing all this was just a lie he kept holding on to, Owen reached out and slowly turned the key, opening the liquorcabinet.

Cindy pulled out the tiny plastic bag again.

It was getting more tempting every time she took it out and looked at it. The white content had never seemed that tempting to her before, but weeks of sobriety was tearing her down.

She didn't need it though, she was no junkie. She kept telling herself that, but every time she almost had to laugh, it was ridiculous. She had been an addict for years, just not a coke addict. She was among the whimps who only did pot.

"What's up?" Dalby asked, he had appeared out of nowhere, and Cindy quickly put the plastic bag back in her bag.

"What's up?" she repeated, "Nothing much..."

"Dad? Dad, are you home?"

His voice sounded so little and scared in the big house.

The door wasn't locked, but there were no lights lit.

Eric dropped his bag on the floor, and the muted sound when it hit the carpet seemed to echo in the hallway.

Owen's car was outside, the door was unlocked, but the house was dark and silent. Something was wrong.

But it wasn't American crime show scenarios that immediately hit him; it wasn't the idea of finding Owen stabbed or shot in the livingroom. No, the chilling feeling Eric felt down his spine was something else.

This had all happened before, only then Charlie had followed close by him, taking off his jacket, quickly lighting all the lights and telling him to go out and play outside until dinner.

He was older now, Charlie was gone, and he had to light the lights himself.

Slowly Eric moved further into the house. He walked as silently as possible, didn't know why, just did it.

The livingroom was surprisingly bright, just like he had imagined it to be when he was outside playing while Charlie went in to find Owen and make dinner. But that was years ago, and Owen wasn't like that anymore.

Or maybe he was?

Eric narrowed his eyes, almost blinded by the light in this grey room. On the other side of the room he could see the door to Owen's office open. It wasn't the only thing open, the barcabinet was open as well, and inside his office sat Owen, leaning forwards, resting his head in his hands.

"Why are you doing this?" Dalby asked. It was weird actually, he hadn't questioned her when she told him she was a murderer, but this he questioned.

"Just because," Cindy muttered, so be it she sounded like a thirteen year old girl, Dalby could never understand this.

"No, I want to know why," Dalby continued, "Tell me why!"

"We'll be in Hobart in a few weeks," Cindy said, "Everything will be better then, so just can it, okay?"

In a surprisingly quick motion Dalby had pressed her up against the wall.

"People always tell me things will be better in a few weeks, but they never get any better," he whispered dangerously, thinking that this was exactly how he had scared the hell out of a hooker not long ago.

"I want to know why you're suddenly doing this!"

He used every trick she had ever taught him, but because she had been the one teaching him, he let her go the second she fought back to get out of his grip.

"Because it's too damn hard, Dalby," she said, angrily, but at the same time surprisingly vulnerably, "I can't do this!"

He just stared at her for a long time.

"The coke is our only way to get money," Dalby argued.

"I know," Cindy replied, "But I need it. Not all of it, just a little..."

Dalby just sunk down on the stairs again, but not changing his expression.

He was going to let her do this, but he was not going to let her do this without feeling guilty.

"I'm a junkie, Dalby," Cindy said, like she could read his mind, and Dalby realised she hadn't called him Prettyboy all day, "And junkies don't feel guilty as long as they get their trip."

Dalby still kept staring at her.

Cindy turned away from him, opened the bag and poured some of it down on the leaflet she was holding, but Dalby didn't stop staring at her for a second. This was too familiar.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chapter 14

Derek quickly gave her the bag and grabbed the money.

"Thanks," Cindy muttered, "I owe you..."

Derek just nodded shortly and backed away from her, looking paranoid to both sides.

The complications because of the miscarriage had required a small surgery, which again required some pretty heavy painkillers.

They were all labelled with "Do NOT drive under the influence of this medication" and they hadn't been cheap. Her health insurance had barely covered them, but she hadn't really needed them.

So now she was heading back to the school she had once dropped out of when she met Oscar, and he meant everything to her.

She knew who they were, but she had never talked to any of them.

Now she was quickly walking across the schoolyard and sneaking in to the narrow alley between two of the buildings the school used to keep tools and other stuff. There they were, four of the kids she had gone to school with.

"'You lost, prettygirl?" one of them asked with a grin, looking at her nice clothes.

Catherine shook her head.

"No," she said, "I'm here looking for Marissa."

Cindy didn't even make an effort to hide the bag when she returned to the stairs.

"What's that?" Dalby immediately demanded to know, "Is that ore coke?"

"Score," Cindy muttered, and put the plastic bag into one of the pockets in her bag.

"Why have you bought more coke?" Dalby whispered angrily, "We need the money!"

"Exactly," Cindy muttered, "We need the money and I need coke."

Dalby stared at her, he didn't understand. Just like a high school girl Cindy rolled her eyes and sat down.

"I bought some really cheap coke," she muttered, "Not as good or safe as the stuff we've got of course. We'll just tell the buyers that's the good coke, while we keep the good coke and sell the bad coke, you get it?"

He looked like he was thinking really hard for a moment and then he slowly summed it up.

"So you buy bad coke and sell it as good coke to get more money, while you really keep and use the good coke yourself?"

Cindy nodded.

"Good thinking, Prettyboy," she said and patted his shoulder in a very un-lovely way, "I have the cake, and I eat it too. Well, actually it's more like I have the coke and sniff it too..."

She looked very pleased with herself, but Dalby didn't look too sure.

"Isn't that a very risky plan?" he asked, frowning.

"Does it matter?" Cindy asked, and lit a cigarette, "Soon we'll be long gone anyway."

Catherine took a deep breath. This place didn't seem like a very safe place for a girl to be standing alone, and she didn't know anything about what the guy she was meeting was like.

"Did Marissa send you?" a voice suddenly said, so close to her she jumped.

Nervously she nodded, and stared terrified at the man behind her.

"I'm Ca-" she said, "Umm, I'm Cindy."

"Hello Cindy," he replied, "Do you have my stash?"

Just like Marissa had told her to, she didn't just give it to him.

"Do you have my money?" she asked, and when he nodded; "Show me."

He showed her the money, she showed him the pills, and she got the money.

"What does a pretty girl like you need these amounts of money for anyway, Cindy?" the man asked, and put the pills in his pocket.

Catherine took a deep breath, and didn't even hesitate when she replied.

"I'm running away," she said.

It only took Cindy two days to sell the bad coke. A guy named Josh and his friends, all in high school, bought the story and payed for the drugs.

Not even Dalby could complain when Cindy announced that by the end of the week they would be on their way to Tassie.

All over they were both in a pretty good mood the next couple of days.

Cindy was just finishing up all her businesses before they were ready to leave, and that was why Dalby didn't find it weird at all to see a man walking up to them one night.

He suddenly blocked any escape route for Cindy, and leaned over her.

"Hello Cindy," he said in a soft voice, and Dalby sensed danger immediately, "Do you remember Josh?"

Cindy stared at him. She was trying to stay cool, but Dalby could see she was scared.

"Josh is in hospital now," the man continued, "And his parents weren't happy when the results of the drug tests came back."

"His parents?" Cindy replied, struggling to hide a giggle, "His parents?!"

The man smiled now and put both his hands in the pocket at the front of his sweater.

"Josh might still be in high school," he said, not sounding so friendly anymore, "But he has got some pretty mighty friends..."

And just as Dalby jumped up and threw himself at him to get him away from Cindy he had pulled out a knife and stabbed Cindy in the chest.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My mind is racing,

And my feet are moving slow.

Look all around me,

Don't see anything I know.

I'd like to answer you,

But I can't clarify,

If I'm 100 miles ahead,

Or 100 miles behind.

Chapter 15

He was gone in an instant, just like when he had pulled the knife.

Dalby was petrified for a moment, Cindy was crawled up on the ground, twisted in pain, clutching her hands to her chest.

Out of an old habit Dalby grabbed down to his pocket to get his cellphone and call for an ambulance. But of course the cell wasn't there, he hadn't had it there in months.

He didn't really know what to do, so he grabbed the first and best idea.

Shaking, and with no wish stronger than for Cindy to be okay he lifted her up, held her in his arms for a second, and then rushed towards the hospital as fast as he could, carrying Cindy in his shaky arms.

See signs of trouble,

But I don't know what to think.

I don't want to rock the boat,

Or let it slowly sink.

I'd ask you questions,

But I don't want to make you cry,

Am I 100 miles ahead,

Or 100 miles behind?

"I guess that's my last box," Oscar muttered, "So I guess there's nothing more to do..."

Catherine wanted to yell at him, kick him always saying "I guess" at the beginning of every sentence. But all she could do was nod.

"I guess there's nothing more to say..."

"I guess not."

He smiled at her, relieved that she didn't want to make a scene or anything.

"Catherine?" he asked, and turned around just as he closed to trunk and was ready to leave, "I'm leaving town for a while, so if there's anything you want to say, please..."

He was such a good guy. He cared, he just happened to fall in love with some other girl, he couldn't control himself... He loved her, she kept telling herself that.

"No," Catherine replied and shook her head, "There's nothing more to say."

But as Oscar pulled out of the driveway Catherine couldn't help screaming from the top of her lungs; "I am sixteen, Oscar! You said you loved me!"

Then she broke down in tears on the front porch, and she didn't go inside until after it was dark.

There was so much she wanted to say to him.

It's going to rain,

It's going to pour,

Through sickness and worse,

Can I love more?

Dalby hadn't even noticed how tired he was until a doctor had got Cindy onto a bed and taken her away from him.

A nurse showed him a chair in the waiting room, she told him her name was Danielle... Or Amber, or Claire or something, and he could just ask for her at the front desk if he needed anything. They would let him know how the girl was doing, and soon the police would be there to talk to him.

Afterwards Dalby also had a feeling Jessica (or whatever her name was) asked for Cindy's name, and he had told them her name was Catherine Lowell.

Then he just sat down, leaned back and let it all hit him with a surprising strength and power.

You carried me,

When I fell.

Can I carry you?

Can I love that well?


"Charging to 120. Ready? Clear!"

For the second time he charged, sending shockwaves of electricity through Cindy's scrawny body.

"Come on Catherine, hang in there for all the people who want you to stay alive," Dr. O'Hare muttered, thinking about her family, the cops and the homeless boy who had just brought her in.

Again the machine made a long beep-sound, and everyone started acting very stressed again.

"She's crashing!" someone said, and then; "Adrenaline, please!"

Dalby didn't really notice anything about what was going on around him until a news presenter on the tellie suddenly caught his attention.

"...The police doesn't want to confirm the information yet, and neither does the family's lawyer. However, after the recent information leading the police to think Catherine Lowell is staying near Yabbie Creek, the family chose to speak to the press today. For the first time the family spoke to the public themselves today. It was no longer the lawyer speaking for the family, but Catherine's own mother being the spokeswoman for the family."

The viewers were taken to something that looked like a courtroom, where a middle aged woman was speaking to the camera. The line under her face read "Elizabeth Lowell, mother of the missing Catherine Lowell".

"We know the allegations are big," the woman said, obviously speaking to no one but her daughter, "But we can get through it, and we will get through it if you just give yourself another chance and come home to us."

She didn't look like she was about to break down or anything, she just looked worried.

"Turn yourself in, Cathy," she said before the picture switched back to the studio and the news presenter, "It's time for you to come home now..."

Designated Dr. O'Hare put down the scalpel and shut off the beeping machine.

"Time of death," he sighed, checking his watch, "5.54 PM."

My mind racing,

And I'm sorry if it hurts.

I've never been somewhere,

That I could not reverse.

If I don't wonder,

If I don't take my time,

Am I 100 miles ahead,

Or 100 miles behind?

It's going to rain,

It's going to pour,

Through sickness and health,

Can I love more?

You carried me,

When I fell.

Can I carry you?

Can I love that well?

**Author's note: Song lyrics "100 miles" by Catie Curtis (Rykodisc, 1999)**

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  • 3 weeks later...

Again I'm so sorry I haven't updated in forever. I've been working almost every day and that has given me a total writer's block (I work as a journalist, so all I've done is writing).

Anyway, if there's anyone left of you; here's an update.

Chapter 16

Eric Dalby had never been a stupid boy. He could write his name by the age of three and a half, and he knew the alphabet by the age of four. He was among the best firstgraders to do math, and understood what people were thinking even when they didn't tell him.

Charlie and Owen had always been so proud of him when he was growing up, telling him he was such a smart little boy.

But over the years the fights became more regular, the tension became more obvious, and Eric's talents seemed somewhat forgotten.

Maybe Owen didn't think so, especially not after finding out his son was living on the street and being best friends with a killer, but Eric wasn't stupid. He knew what was going on.

As soon as the department of children and families had started questioning Owen's fathering skills Yabbie Creek was no longer the place Owen wanted to live.

He wanted to move to Summer Bay, and he told everyone he wanted to give Eric a chance to start over. Deep inside Eric knew it was because he knew the department trouble wouldn't follow them there.

But he didn't object it.

Of course it had to happen now. Officer Pia Corelli had been looking forward to being transferred to the City, but now it had to be delayed by a few weeks.

She had been stuck at YCPD for almost six years, chasing after the same small-town criminals of Yabbie Creek and Summer Bay. When the promotion finally came she had been looking forward to working with the team in Sydney. But of course Catherine Lowell had to choose Pia's very last week at YCPD to get herself killed, and on top of that bring a rich but troubled prettyboy to their attention.

He was the kind of kid Pia hated. The kind who thought he could do whatever he wanted just because his father had the money. She had met the father as well. An unpleasant man who obviously was an alcoholic. Deep inside Pia knew he shouldn't have full custody for his teenage son, but she didn't really feel like bringing that up and delay her transfer any further.

Ready for the second interview with this spoiled little brat Pia entered the interview room, prepared to shoot him down from the beginning. He was obviously an aspiring criminal, and aspiring criminals never stayed long in the Yabbie Creek district. The truth was she didn't want to have to deal with him in a few years when he would be robbing one of the biggest banks in Sydney or stabbing one of her partners.

"So, it has been 48 hours since Catherine Lowell passed away, how are you doing?" Officer Corelli began, sounding as professional and cold as only a woman whose dreams have just been delayed can sound, "Are you prepared to move?"

Eric swallowed. The damn brat didn't even have the courtesy to look at her when she talked to him.

"I have to admit that we were a bit concerned when it was brought to our attention that your father want to move to Summer Bay," the department lady next to the officer said, "How do you feel about this, Eric?"

Pia looked at the department lady for a split second, her transfer was in the hands of the result of this interview, and especially that last question."

"I don't care," the boy muttered, "I'm fine with it."

The lady, Mrs. Jenkins hesitated for a second.

"We were worried that this might be an attempt to... erm... run away from the department," she slowly said, "As the case will end here if you leave Yabbie Creek."

No reply.

She didn't want to do it, but the compulsion of "justice for everyone" forced Pia to open her mouth and speak more directly than Mrs. Jenkins had.

"Are your father trying to hide from us that he's not giving you the attention and life you deserve?" she asked, desperately wanting to bite her own tongue off and move to Sydney to forget all about Eric Dalby.

Suddenly Eric looked at her. It was with a strange mix of anger, despair, bitterness, emptiness, designation and stubbornness, and that was also what it sounded like.

"So what if he is?" Eric snapped at her, "Maybe he doesn't want you to take me away from him?!"

Pia looked at him. This despair, this bitterness and insecurity... This desperate holding on to the last little ray of hope gave her a feeling no aspiring criminal brat had ever given her before, and for a moment all she wanted was to take him in her arms and tell him everything would be okay.

All the investigation was over. And if they wanted to know anything else they'd contact him, officer Corelli had told him. The department wasn't done yet of course, but Owen wouldn't let them finish their work either, tomorrow they would be leaving.

Eric looked at all the boxes on the front porch. In only a few hours they would leave this place behind and supposedly start over.

He almost had to laugh. It was a ridiculous though. Like any of them would ever be able to start over. Like starting over was even possible. It was all just a whole lot of crap, that was the truth!

One last look at the house and the boxes before he turned around.

Through the chilly night air and dusk, over the lawn and through the park across the street, Eric Dalby ran.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry I haven't updated, I've been away for a few days. Anyway here it is, the beginning of the end. Next update will be soon.

Chapter 17

Whrrr, whrrr, whrrr...

The old bike made the same sound for every time the slightly uneven wheel made it around, a reliable rhythm breaking through the silent morning as Magda Dalby made her way through the empty streets on her green bicycle.

Six hours earlier

Dalby had never ran this fast in his entire life. It was like something had suddenly been released in him. A fear, an urge to avoid making the same mistakes Cindy had made.

Regret lead to bitterness, he could see that now, and that bitterness had torn Cindy apart.

It wasn’t the knife that had killed her, it had just helped her pull the trigger of the gun she had pointed to her own head for such a long time.

Cindy had not seen any way through it, and when she knew she would be defeated she didn’t fight back. She had accepted her destiny, maybe even been a little relieved.

This world was not the right place for Cindy anymore. A person with pride, but chucked out of society because she had let regret become bitterness, slowly tearing her apart, burning through her like an acid, driving her to murder.

Cindy had been too proud to finish it off herself, she had been determined to stay strong, pretending she kept fighting even though she knew she had lost the fight a long time ago.

Cindy was full of regrets, and the fighter she had once been had been eaten up by all the bitterness and regret she was carrying around every day.

Dalby had never really seen it, but now it was all so clear. Cindy had been stronger than him, much better at defending and attacking.

Many times she had beaten him, but still she wanted him to fight for her safety.

She knew she could have beaten any potential enemy much better than him, Dalby understood that now, but Cindy didn’t want to do it. Even if she defeated them she had already lost the battle, a battle against herself.

It was pretty dark now, but secretly hoping that would make his search easier, Dalby continued, determined to complete his mission.

There were people on the street like every night, hookers and their customers, slowly driving past, hiding their faces in the shadows, looking for company. Pimps in the shadows of run down buildings, looking after their girls, hoping to make big money on cowards, men that had sunk so low they were willing to pay for company, even if it was just for one night.

Dalby walked up to a girl. A heavy smell of perfume and cigarettes hit him as he walked up to her, and he could see the fake eyelashes, glued on to create a sick impression of glamour.

”Hi,” he muttered, looking to both sides, ”I need some help...”

”It will cost you money,” she replied coldly, ”Even a prettyboy like you will have to pay.”

”I’m not looking for that kind of help,” Dalby said quietly, ”I’m looking for someone.”

The hooker looked at him for a second, examining him. Obviously he was one of those who imagined it was love, that one of the girls actually cared for him.

”She’s about 5’8 tall,” Dalby said without waiting for a reply, ”She’s really skinny and has blond, long hair, and brown eyes I think...”

The hooker closed her mouth firmly.

”That could be anyone,” she said, even more coldly than before, ”Leave me alone.”

Dalby looked at her, but decided to do as told. Slowly he backed away, not able to get rid of the feeling that the hooker he had just talked to knew exactly who he had been describing, and where she was.


Magda knocked on the door, three sharp, short knocks.

No one opened.

”Owen?” she called in her sharp, strict voice, ”It’s me, let me in.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Last chapter!

Chapter 18

Five hours earlier

She came out of nowhere, and didn't see him at first, but when she did she recognised him in less than a second.

How could she forget a face like his? A face so different from all other faces out here. Young, handsome, confused.

If he hadn't once held her up against a wall and threatened her she would have thought he was just another giggly teenage boy spying on the girls in miniskirt.

Slowly, quietly she kept on walking, hoping that he wouldn't turn around and see her. She slowly unzipped her purse and went through it. Just as her hand closed around the pepperspray he turned around and spotted her.


Owen put down a cup of coffee in front of his cousin. Magda was the only one in his family he didn't dislike.

"Where's the boy?" she asked, took a sip of the coffee, and then added: "You don't have anything stronger, do you?"

"Upstairs getting ready to leave," Owen replied, and pulled out a bottle of sherry from an otherwise empty cupboard behind them.

"I talked to my friend Betty who works for social services again today," Magda continued, and watched Owen stop pouring sherry and look up at her when she said that.

"Well, did you hear anything new?" he asked, a bit nervously. This wasn't the first time he had gotten inside information through Magda's friend.

"She took another look at your files," Magda replied, and drank half the glass of sherry like it was milk, "And they're closing it. Apparently they think they have bigger things to worry about."

Owen sighed, relieved.

"We still have to move though," he muttered, the boy could come downstairs any moment, "I saw the look on that woman's face. In her head this case is far from closed."

Five hours earlier

"Hey! You!"

She started running, but of course he was faster. They were always faster, the bad guys.

"What do you want from me?" she turned around and screamed when she realised he would catch up with her any second.

She would just have to deal with it, it was not like she hadn't been in dangerous situations before. Whether he raped her or bashed her she would just have to deal with it, and then get her pimp to target him tomorrow.

He did catch up with her, but he didn't touch her, and for a moment they just stood there, staring at each other.

"What do you want from me?" she whispered, clutching the pepperspray, ready to attack. She was crying and shaking now, this brought back so many memories.

He didn't reply, and now she realised he was shaking as well. Then he took a deep breath, and struggling not to cry he whispered back:

"I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry."


Last night everything had been so much easier.

Dalby had to admit he had been lucky, managing to run away and be gone for hours without Owen noticing, but now he knew he couldn't run away at all. A part of him still wanted to escape all this, didn't want to believe everything would be better if they started over again somewhere else, didn't want to put up with his dad anymore.

But at the same time a part of him still wanted to believe that he could fight this. If nothing else, Cindy's death had taught him not to hold on to the bad things in life.

The only problem was that saying sorry to a hooker, and giving up on your only family was two very different things.

Maybe Owen was right for the first time in his life, maybe things would be better if they started over again?

Maybe his dad wasn't the problem, the bad thing he was holding on to. Maybe it was this place that made them both so unhappy?

"Eric? Are you coming? We have to go now!"

Dalby looked around the room one last time, and for a split second he looked at the window and thought of escaping again.

Then he took a deep breath and got up from the empty bed.

"I'm coming, dad," he shouted back, "I'm coming now."



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