John was fighting against letting all out panic set in. Lily was a grown woman with goodinstincts. She could take care of herself. He was overreacting. It was just so unusual for her to not tell someone where she was going. In spite of it all, his own instincts were telling him that there was definitely something wrong.
He sat down to breakfast with the boys and casually asked them, “have either of you seen Mama Lily? Do you know if she went for a jog or anything?”Between mouthfuls, Alfred shrugged, “no Dada. I haven’t seen her yet this morning.”
Alistair nodded, and with a mouthful said, “I haven’t seen her this morning either.” He hesitated. “Oh, wait. I did see her leaving last night. She went with Mr. Contrary.”
“Did you speak with her? Ask her where she was going?” John asked Alistair. “No, they were down the walk by the time I looked out the window.”
John’s first thought was that Lily must have gone over there to help with something. She would never let anyone suffer any type of discomfort. It was probably something to do with Rachel. Rick was doing a good job of raising her, but he didn’t know it all, and was often on his own.
However, the succession of thoughts that began to follow, left him terrified. The thought that Rickhad been all alone for so long led him to thinking of the SCIA Profiler’s reports regarding the stringof murder cases that had recently been plaguing the area. One by one, as he reviewed the killer’s traits as listed in the report, he could circumstantially attribute all of them to Rick Contrary.
Anxiously, he watched as the twins safely boarded the bus on their way to school andthen made his way to the phone. His first call was to Mallory, to have her come look after Christopher.
The second was to the Jocques. Sophia had retired, but she could still pull a team togetherfaster than anyone he knew. If it became necessary. Violet had recently completed trainingas well, for her position with H.E.A.L., and could be an asset if he needed her. Not only that, but Violet knew Rick, and knew him well. She had to be able to offer some insight.
Lily let her head hang in defeat. She had been in an eerily similar position before, and though her memories of it weren’t so vivid, the feeling of despair was quite unforgettable. This time there was something different though. As if he was standing right next to her, she clearly heard John. “Buy time Baby. I’m coming,” he was telling her.
Whether it was a desperate attempt at reassurance by her imagination or not, it infused her with hope so powerful that she knew exactly what to do.
“Why?” was the one word she was able to eke out as she cleared her throat.“Why me? Why now?” she asked the crazed man now standing behind her.
Ricky walked around to stand in front of her and clasped his hands together in excitement. Shehad been the first to ask. To be fair, the others really hadn’t had the time, it was over for them soquick. His ego swelled with pride that his plan was so perfect. She would talk to him. He puffed out his chest and snapped his head toward her. “You are the apex. My masterpiece. All that is perfection is contained in you and I in this very room.”
Lily tried not to let the fear show on her face as she allowed him to continue.“Caryl was the first, that lying cheating whore. At school. She is the one who took Violet away from me, telling her that I wasn’t good enough for her. That there were so many other opportunities out there. She wanted her for herself. Violet was my best friend. My only friend. Violet understood me. I loved her, and Caryl took her away.”
Suddenly, he stopped and turned toward her. “The girl downtown, I didn’t even know her name. She was just another whore. She was so easy it almost made me sick.” His eyes glazed over as he lost himself in his thoughts. “The power though. Plumbob it wasawesome! I had it that night. In my hands. Power and control you would never believe.”
He continued to dance around her maniacally and she shed silent tears for the poor girls who had died for no reason. Finally, she prompted him with another question. “Who was next?” she asked quietly.
Again, the dancing stopped. This time his face grew fierce as he remembered. “Theywere,” he spat out ferociously. “Mother never gave a damn about me. Nothing was ever good enough for her.
She used to scream and holler, standing over me as I did everything. She would even hitme and Father never did anything about it. He never once stood up for me, the pathetic bastard. When she wasn’t screaming, they were all over each other, like I didn’t even exist. It was disgusting, their displays.”
His face seemed to soften for just a moment as he continued. “Then Rachel camealong.” The gentle moment passed and he continued on, hardened and crazed. “I know they thought she would replace me. She would be the perfect daughter where I was the imperfect son.”
“I couldn’t let them do that to her though. They had to be stopped. She had tobe stopped. It was mostly her. He was just an added bonus in his feeble attempt to defend her. Pathetic,” he muttered as he shook his head.
Again, the mad dancing continued, this time for an extended period. Lily was shocked. Shehad seen Rick with Rachel. He had always seemed so gentle, loving and kind with the toddler. He had had no recollections of that night prior to finding Rachel on the floor and had vacant sadness in his eyes whenever the subject came up in conversation. She would never have imagined that the madness she was witnessing had come from that man.
Her thoughts went to Rachel and she wondered where she was right now. Her gut told her that she was okay, that even in his madness, Rick wouldn’t hurt her.
Lily was emotionally exhausted and her mind pleaded with John,“please hurry. I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Hurry John, hurry.”
John stood in front of the Contrary house knocking on the door and ringing the bell.
His quickly assembled team consisted of Sophia and Violet who werescattered about the property in strategic places, ready to rush in at a moment’s notice.
The doorbell and his knocking went unanswered so John stepped back out of view of any windows and doors and checked with his team for any reconnaissance information they had to share.
Violet reported that the windows looking into Rick’s bedroom were nowblacked out with something dark enough that she couldn’t see in them.
Sophia reported that Rachel was indeed on the premises. She couldsee her sitting in her crib. Whatever happened, they would have to be careful not to hurt her or traumatize her further.
The next step in their plan was to enter the house by any means necessary. Knocking certainly hadn’t worked. It was time for forced entry.
As Sophia and Violet returned to their positions, John bent over the locked front door and examined the lock.“Here. This size should work,” he heard as a lock pick was presented under his nose. Looking up in surprised recognition, he saw the backwards ball cap that Alistair sported every day of his life.
“We’ll talk about this later,” John gently reprimanded.
“Aw, but Dada! You said we needed to look out for each other and the family. We’re only doing what you said!” he grinned.
“So, Alfred is here too? I figured he would be. Where is he hiding?” John asked, secretly hoping he was hiding the pride he felt while trying to maintain a modicum of fatherly ire.
“Oh, he’s trying to jimmy the window to the dining room and see if we can get in that way. He’ll unlock the back door in case we need to make a quick exit,” Alistair informed his father.
With this bit of information, John got very serious. “I want you both to get to Rachel and takeher outside. Keep an eye on her. I don’t want any of you harmed if anything bad happens. Iam serious about this son. I appreciate your help and the best way you can help right now is to get Rachel and stay out of trouble so I can focus on finding Lily and Rick.”
Alistair looked disappointed and opened his mouth as if to argue, but thought better of it and changed his mind. “Okay Dada. I’ll tell Alfred once we’re in. Don’t worry. Save Mama Lily.”
Rachel had been in her crib far too long this morning. Although shecouldn’t tell time, she knew that her Icky should have come to get her by now. Besides, she really needed to use the potty.
All of a sudden, and much to her surprise, the railing on her crib jarred loose.
Looking around, trying to figure out what to do next, she took the step that so many other children had when faced with the same situation.
She climbed out and toddled her way over to her favorite toy and started playing.
She was a little startled, but also excited when Alfred and Alistair appeared.“Owfwed, Astair!” she giggled in delight and reached her hands up for one of them to pick her up. “Potty!” she further demanded.
Alfred took her to the potty and sat her down. “Hurry Alf. We’ve got to get out of here,” Alistair implored. “I know. It will just be a moment,” Alfred replied. “And do not call me Alf!”“Sorry. I forgot,” said Alistair while keeping a close eye on the door to the hallway.
Finally finished, Alfred picked up Rachel and the three children quietly made their way toward the back door. “Hungy!! Baba!” was Rachel’s next vociferous demand.Alistair and Alfred exchanged a glance. Making a quick decision, Alistair said, “Rachel, it’s play time. Alfred will take you outside and I will bring a bottle out there for you. Can you be a good girl and wait outside with Alfred?”
The configuration of the house forced them to walk past the kitchen anyway.Alistair could make a quick stop before following Alfred and Rachel out the backdoor. They both discussed an easier way out, but decided that going through a window would not be a viable choice with a toddler between them.
Ricky had been dancing around his latest conquest when he stopped abruptly, cocked hishead to the side, and listened. He thought he heard a door latch. Rachel was in her crib so there was no way she could get out of her room. In fact, a thought from Rick broke through, he should check on her and get her morning bottle.
He cracked open the door of his converted lair and peered out. Hewas shocked to spy a pair of black shoes as they walked down his hall.
He quickly slammed the door shut, unknowingly alerting the invaderto his position. Turning the lock, he swiveled around and trained his beady eyes on Lily. “Someone is here,” he hissed at her, disbelief evident on his face.
John! Lily hung her head once again. Only this time, it wasn’t in defeat andfear. This time it was to hide the hope, excitement and relief that she knew would be reflected in her eyes. There was no reason to further agitate her captor and cause him to do something unpredictable.
John had made it in the front door, and was checking to see if his boys had gotten themselves and Rachel out as they were instructed whenthe door slammed. At the sound, he pressed himself against the wall and listened carefully for footsteps.
Hearing none, he squatted close to the floor and slowly, painstakingly made his way toward where it had come from.
He passed the bedroom that had once belonged to his good friends, immediately able to rule it out as the place where Lily was after looking in the door and finding it empty.
Cautiously making his way further down the hall, he stopped in front of the closed door that had been Rick’s bedroom.
He would have to go in blind. They had been unable to determine the layout of the roomwith the windows blacked out. They didn’t know if Rick was armed nor what condition Lilywas in. The only thing he had on his side was surprise and each moment of delay lessened the effectiveness of that element.
Alistair approached Alfred and Rachel as they played a game of peek-a-boo and handed the toddler the bottle he had carefully procured from the refrigerator in the kitchen.
“Be right back,” he told Alfred.“Where…” was all Alfred had time to protest before Alistair was around the corner of the house.
Approaching Violet in her secluded spot, Alistair quietly got herattention. “Dada is going in the front door. He should be in any minute now. He might need your help.”
Violet nodded and the two separated and left in opposite directions.
Signaling Sophia, Violet approached the open front door cautiously. Her mother joined her and followed closely behind.
Rounding a corner in the hallway, they saw John in front of the closed door toRick’s bedroom. Using hand signals that they had all been trained with, they laid out a quick and basic plan for entering the room.
Standing at his full height and putting all his weight behind him, John swiftly and ferociously kicked the door open. The three would-berescuers entered the room quickly, sweeping the room and coming to focus on a chair in the center.
Lily was sitting in the chair, arms tied behind her, the glint of a knife blade at her throat. Holding the knife, Ricky stood behind her.“Nobody moves,” he told them in his highly agitated and mad state.
“Rick.” Spoken so softly it was barely heard.“Rick, look at me,” Violet said softly as she took a tentative step forward. “It’s me, Violet. Honey, look at me.” It was a desperate ploy on her part, and she caught a glimpse of sadness in his eyes before they hardened again.
“Rick is gone,” he told her. “There is no more weak, sniveling Rick. It’s Ricky now. Step back! I’m finally rid of him and you know what I’m capable of. You’ve been there from the beginning. You loved me and then stopped. Why did you stop? You shouldn’t have done that,” he finished, punctuating his last statement by pointing the knife at Violet.
It was the opening John and Sophia needed. Sophia leapt at the arm holding the knife and John attacked from the other side.
As the weapon clattered to the ground, John was able to tackle Ricky. Sophia produced a set of handcuffs and together they clicked them around his wrists while Violet bagged the knife as evidence for the proper authorities.
John turned to the task of freeing Lily next. Untying her arms, hegently rubbed them to get the circulation flowing through them again.
Coming around the chair, he picked up Lily and cradled her in his arms.“John!” she cried as she threw her arms around him and buried her face in the familiar warmth of his neck. “I was so scared,” she sobbed. “I know, Baby,” he replied, gently lifting her into his arms. “You’re safe now.”
“I knew you would come,” she told him, finally smiling. “I heard you telling me to hang on. I knew you would come.”
As the proper authorities began to arrive and take Ricky Contrary intocustody, John and Lily made their way to the backyard to gather Alfred and Alistair.
They found them happily playing with Rachel. “What will happen to her?” Lily asked John.“The Social Worker is on her way. Most likely, she’ll be placed in the system and eventually cleared for adoption,” he told her.
“John, we can’t let that happen. That poor baby. None of this was her fault. She’ll be lost in that system. We’ve got to help her. We’ve got to take her home,” Lily plead her case.“Lily, this is a huge decision and not one to make lightly. We can discuss it further when we get home.” “But…” she protested.
“You’ve been under a large amount of stress over the last few hours. A rash decision now might lead to regrets later. What if every time you see her she reminds you of this day? It’s not fair toRachel.” Noting the look of determination in her eye, he continued. “I’m not against the notion of adopting her,” he said. “I just want to make sure that it’s a decision that we’ve made together after considering all the pros and cons.”
Lily knew he was right, but couldn’t help the sadness she felt as she watched the Social Worker take Rachel away.
Lily spent the next few days recovering from her ordeal, which inreality meant being coddled by the men in her life until she could stand it no more.
In the aftermath of all that had happened, Lily’s third trimester bumpcame as a bit of a surprise. Her pregnancy was progressing quite welland everyone was reassured to know that both baby and mother were healthy.
She and John had discussed at length the pros and cons of adoptingRachel Contrary, just as John had promised they would, and they had reached a decision.
One day before her child transition, Rachel Contrary became Rachel Doran and moved into the quickly expanding household.
Thus, all was well in the Doran household that night. This chapter is a bit shorter than the others, but I wanted to get anupdate out since it’s taken forever this time around. The next update is already in progress so it shouldn’t be as long.