Sarah, Returned--Chapter 27 (A Steemit Original Novel)
“Do you want to stay at a safe house tonight?” Sgt. Baker offers. “We have several hotels and private homes where you can be sure no one will bother you.”
Nope. Not an option. I have to search Grandma’s room tonight. That means I stay here.
“I would really prefer to sleep in my own room,” I say, a picture of sincerity. “It’s been so long since I’ve been home. I’ve missed it. And, this is half my house. Karen may live here, but her name is not on the deed. Or, did something else change while I was away?”
“No,” Matt mumbles, looking down, not wanting to face either Karen or me. “It’s still just you and me on the deed, Sarah.”
Well, that's good news.
"I would prefer it if she left,” I announce, and Karen is on her feet in an instant.
Eyes blazing hatred, fists clenched, she shouts, beyond caring what the officers think. “If you think I’m leaving this house just because you have a delusion of me wanting to hurt you, you have another thing coming, Sarah Morgan." If eyes could really shoot daggers, I would be full of them right now. “How dare you waltz in here after being gone for a month, with no word at all, making poor Matt cry himself to sleep some nights worrying about you, and think you have any say at all in what goes on here?”
“Ma’am,” Lt. Daniels insists, “if Ms. Morgan says she wants you to leave, you’re going to have to go.”
“What?” Karen shrieks in disbelief. For a moment, I think she might make a lunge for the officer. If she does, she will no longer be a problem. To my disappointment, she backs down before inciting violence, no doubt realizing the same thing.
“It’s Ms. Morgan's house,” Lt. Daniels explains with exaggerated patience. The Lieutenant looks docile, but I notice her hand subtly move to the gun at her side. Sgt. Baker does the same.
“But, I live here,” Karen protests.
“It’s an active investigation, ma’am,” Sgt. Baker says. “You are a suspect. The victim believes you may be the culprit. If she wants you to leave, you need to leave.”
“I will not,” Karen insists, standing her ground. She looks to Matt, hands on her hips, defiant. “Matt? Tell them I’m not leaving.”
“I can’t,” he says, helpless, and shakes his head, still refusing to look at her. “The police are right. This is Sarah’s home, and she has the final word on this. It won’t matter if I insist you stay. The police are going to make you leave, because you’re a suspect, and Sarah doesn’t feel safe with you. Whether there is any merit to that feeling is irrelevant right now. I’m sorry.”
“Well, tell Sarah to let me stay. This is my home. Plus, I don’t want to spend a night away from you.”
I notice she doesn’t say “I love you.”
“Sarah?” Matt looks at me, hopeful.
“No.” I shake my head, and put a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry, Matt. I don’t trust her.”
“Where am I supposed to go?” Karen demands, furious. She's not giving up easy. The amount of defiance she's throwing at the two officers is startling. Most people would back down from opponents carrying guns.
“That’s up to you, ma’am,” Sgt. Baker replies. “But you’ll need to leave now. Go get whatever things you need for a long trip, because we don’t know when you will be allowed back in the house. Much of that decision will be up to Ms. Morgan.” Then, turning to me, Sgt. Baker adds, “Would you like to place a restraining order on Ms. Bateman, Ms. Morgan?”
Oh, this is too good!
“Yes. Yes, I do.” I can’t help but grin a little as I say it. With any luck, I’ll be gone before they can get the paperwork filed, but simply being able to say it out loud, and have the request taken seriously, is such a thrill. I’ve wanted to do this for ages.
“We’ll be by in the morning to take you to the courthouse so you can file the official request,” Sgt. Baker assures me. “In the meantime, we would like to request everyone leave the house tonight except the Morgan cousins. You’re all still technically suspects, even Mr. Morgan. However, since Ms. Morgan feels comfortable with him, and the house is part his, we can’t make him leave without her say so. We will keep an officer stationed outside the house, as we’ve done for Mr. Morgan’s protection since Ms. Morgan’s disappearance. If anyone tries to break in and hurt either of the Morgan cousins, we will know it.”
“If she gets hurt when she’s alone in the house with me, then your list of suspects gets narrowed pretty dramatically,” Matt sulks, knowing Karen is going to give him hell over this the next time they’re together.
“True,” Lt. Daniels agrees. “But, the idea is to keep her safe in the first place. She seems confident you would never hurt her. If she didn’t, we would insist she stay elsewhere, or we would station an officer inside the house. Now, Ms. Bateman, if you’ll come upstairs with me?” Lt. Daniels stands up and extends an arm Karen’s way. “I need to observe you while you pack your things, to be sure you aren’t bringing any weapons or other suspicious items with you.”
Karen’s pinched face turns absolutely beet red, and she bares her brilliant white teeth. She wants to scream, demand these upstart police officers leave her house at once lest she call the governor, to command them to drag me out of there to the psych ward if they have to. But, she can’t do any of those things, and she knows it. Any resistance she puts up at this point is only going to get her arrested, and Her Majesty simply can’t allow such a debasing thing to happen. Therefore, she has no choice but to do as Lt. Daniels says, and submit to the lesser humiliation of being watched over as she packs to prepare for her forced ouster from the house.
“Matt,” she whispers, her voice sharp as a sword, “come with me. Let Sarah stay here alone, without us.”
Matt gapes at her, looking for all the world like she just suggested he leave me in a cage with a hungry lion. “You want me to leave her on her own, when she just got back?” He is genuinely startled his oh-so-perfect beloved would suggest such a thing.
“She wants the house,” she snaps, louder this time, attracting the attention of both officers. “Let her have it. For now. We’ll get a lawyer and work out a way to have her legally evicted. This is our house, not hers. She left it.”
“Because of you.”
Oh my goodness. Is my dear cousin actually standing up to his fiancée for once? Taking my side, like he always used to before she came along? Karen opens her mouth to reply, then shuts it, just as stunned as me. It has to be the first time in their relationship he’s ever said anything but, “Yes, dear.”
“Also because of me,” Matt adds, looking down. Is that a hint of sorrow I see etched on his angled features? “She left because of you and me. I can’t abandon her now, Karen. I didn’t realize until tonight just how betrayed by me she felt. Sarah and me, we’ve been the most important people in each other’s lives since we were kids. I have to stay and make it up to her.” He lifts his head again and turns to me. “If you’ll let me, Sarah?”
Oh, geez, he’s going to make me cry, and I absolutely do not want Karen to see any tears on my face. But, he’s so sincere, so penitent, and starting to resemble the Matt I used to know. The Matt I thought I’d lost forever to a shiny blonde. It’s hard to not become emotional at this transformation. I’ve tried to be detached and clinical about everything since I called Matt from the gas station, my one objective being to get in and out of 2017 as quickly as possible and return to my family. But, Matt is part of that family, an extremely important part, and, thanks to Karen and my time in the past, I’d nearly forgotten it. I remember now.
The meaningful looks passing between us do not escape Her Majesty's notice.
“Fine!” Karen screams; with Matt finally on my side once more, she sounds far away and harmless. “You choose her over me? Go right ahead. You two deserve each other. But, mark my words, Matthew Morgan, you will regret it when I’m gone, and I might not be available when you come crawling to me on your knees, begging me to take you back. And, you will.”
Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here:
wonderfull writer 👍🏼, i like it @stephmckenzie
Thank you, @julian01. I'm glad you're enjoying it. Keep reading. More to come. :)
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