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Delayed Murder

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Prologue

Her heart pounded. A sharp crash sounded throughout the house. She rushed up the drive just as a piercing scream filled the night. She bursted into a run, tearing open the door and racing for the bedroom. Her heart stopped. Her feet refused to move. Her mind went numb. She cannot accept it.

Her sister was gone. Gone forever. Gone from the body that lay in a pool of blood on the bedroom floor.

From the dairy of Jenny Johnson

That was a year ago. I cannot erase the horrible image of my sister lying in her own blood out of my head. But that was the past, now it is the present. I still have to move on without my twin sister, my best friend, even at school.

We used to go to Harvard together. Now I go alone. Everyone stays away from me, now that she’s gone. There used to be a few who would try to give words of comfort, but none of them will understand. They never will.

Present Day

Stupid traffic, Jenny thought. If it doesn’t pick up, I’m gonna be late. Cursing the traffic, she tapped the accelerator, pulling into the parking lot with only minutes to get to class. Come on, she thought. She glanced at her watch. 2 minutes. Almost there. She let out a sigh of relief as she stepped into class with 45 seconds to spare. She slipped into her seat, keeping her eyes down. She quickly pulled out the assignment from the night before just as the bell rang. She glanced up, then darted her eyes back down, heart pounding. He had been looking at her! Why would Jake be looking at me? Jenny thought. Jake was one of the most popular guys among the girls. Tall and handsome, Jake’s sandy blond hair and bright, ocean blue eyes often attracted the longing stares of many girls.

The minutes passed by, and she quickly gathered her stuff as the bell rang, signaling the end of class. Walking briskly she exited the classroom, but not fast enough. Halfway to her next class, Jake began walking next to her.
“Hey Jenny,” he said.
“Hey Jake,” she breathed. Oooh, he was so gorgeous!
“I was just wondering you got anything going on tonight?” he asked. Jenny ran through her mental calendar.
“No,” she said. “I don’t think so.”
Jake grinned, showing his straight, white teeth. “How does 8:30 tonight at Pete’s sound?” he asked. She couldn’t believe it! Jake had actually asked her out! She hurriedly made a decision.
“That’d be great,” she said, working hard to contain her excitement.
Jake grinned again. “See ya then,” he called as he walked to his next class.
Jenny had a hard time concentrating on school for the rest of the day. The image of Jake grinning at her continuously floated to the front of her mind. The way his eyes had sparkled when he asked her out, the way his arm muscles flexed as he shifted his books to his other arm. As she drove home, she was unsure as of what to wear. Should it be dressy or casual? She wondered. Casual, she told herself. You don’t want people to talk. This is nothing more than a date, she decided firmly. Upon arriving home, she began to critically study her wardrobe. Finally, she decided on a red turtleneck with a pair of dark blue jeans. Oh, and she would wear her black, leather, high-heeled boots to set off the outfit. Approvingly she studied her choices. Good, she thought, nodding to herself. Casual, yet flirty.
She let out a groan as she hefted her books from her backpack to her desk. “Stupid homework,” she muttered, sitting down. She studied the clock. 5:30. 2 ½ hours until she needed to start getting ready. She let out another groan as she delved into her schoolwork.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Knock, Knock. She glanced at the mirror as she hurried to the door. “I look pretty good,” she thought. She opened the door and what she saw took her breath away. Jake was wearing a crisp, white, button-up shirt with a nice pair of jeans and dress shoes.
“Hey, you ready to go?” he asked.
She nodded, unable to speak.
“Then let’s go,” he said, offering her his arm.
Jenny tried not to drool as they sat at their table, smells of Italian food causing her stomach to growl. She had ordered a big plate of spaghetti and Jake had ordered the same. When the waiter set the big, steaming plate of spaghetti in front of her, it took all of her willpower to not start shoveling it into her mouth. She picked up her fork and put a bit into her mouth. She closed her eyes for a moment, savoring the taste.
“This is really good,” she said, opening her eyes.
“Mmm hmm,” Jake agreed mouth full. He swallowed. “But if you think this is great, just wait until desert,” he added.
Jenny smiled. “We’ll see about that,” she said.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jenny sighed as she slipped into bed, thinking of her date with Jake. The desert had indeed been delicious; the sticky pecan pie not disappointing. They had laughed as they ate, criticizing professors and the homework they gave. At one point, Jake said something so funny they to run outside and nearly died laughing. Jenny smiled at the thought of it. Maybe I’ll get lucky, she thought as she closed her eyes. Maybe he’ll ask me out again.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ring, ring! Jenny groaned as she rolled over onto her side. She opened her eyes a crack to peer at her alarm clock. 3:00 AM. Who in heaven’s name would be calling her at this early hour? Ring, ring. “Alright,” she muttered. “I’m coming, I’m coming.”
“Hello,” she mumbled into the phone.
“Jenny,” her mother said, her voice half sobbing.
“Mom, what’s wrong?”
“Jenny,” she sobbed again. “It’s your brother, He’s gone.”
Jenny was wide awake in an instant.
“I’m coming over right now,” she said, then hung up.
No point in arguing with her mother now. She slipped on a sweatshirt and sweats and grabbed her keys off the dresser, rushing out into the cold November air. Snow crunched under her feet as she walked to her car.
Poor mother, she thought. Why her? She already lost a daughter; must she lose a son too?
Turning onto her mother’s street, she saw a police car in her mother’s driveway. She parked, and then hurried to her Mother’s door. She knocked and to her surprise a man she had never seen before opened the door. He looked to be in his mid-twenties with deep, concerned, brown eyes like a vat of chocolate.
“My name’s Ryan,” he said. “You must be Jenny.”
She nodded, unsure how to respond. Ryan stepped to the side, allowing her to enter. He closed the door behind her.
“Who is it Ryan?” she heard her mother call. Then her mother appeared around the corner.
“Hey mom,” Jenny said, “you okay?”
“I’ve been worse, but it’s a close call,” her mother replied.
Her mother’s normally bright twinkling eyes were filled with pain and worry.
“I don’t know why anybody would want to kidnap Timmy,” her mother continued, her voice beginning to crack.
“It’s going to be okay mom,” Jenny said reassuringly. “What time did he disappear?” she asked.
“Sometime between 1 and 2 is what I think. I was up at midnight because I was having a hard time sleeping. Ryan says he was, too, and remembers hearing him cough and sniffle at 12:45. What I don’t understand is how the kidnapper got him in and out of the house. Nothing has been broken and everything is locked. Only someone with a key to the house could have done that.”
A cop walked into the room with his partner. He turned to address Jenny’s mother.
“We think we might have found some things to point to the kidnapper, but we can’t be sure,” he said. “We’ll have more information tomorrow night.”
“Thank you,” her mother replied. “Let me see you gentlemen to the door.”
Her mother walked away, leaving Jenny and Ryan alone in the living room. Jenny scanned her mind for a way to start a conversation but could find none. They stood for a moment in awkward silence. Then Ryan stuck his hands in his pockets and let out a long sigh.
“I guess you want to know who the heck I am,” he said.
Jenny nodded. “That would be nice,” she said.
Ryan walked over to the window. “My mom died in a car crash when I was three,” he began. “One of my mom’s friends took me in because my dad didn’t want me. After a while though, she couldn’t afford to keep me so I ended up living at my aunt’s.”
He looked at her with sorrow-filled eyes.
“About a week ago, my aunt died. I wasn’t sure where to go. Then I get this phone call from your mom, asking if I was Lisa Rodriguez's son. It turns out she and my mom were close friends in high school and college. She asked me if I had any place to stay. I told her no and she insisted that I come to stay at her place.” He gestured to the suitcase tucked in the corner. “I’ve only been her since yesterday morning and haven’t had time to unpack. The moment I was here, your mother started signing me up for classes at Harvard. Which is, I believe, where you go?” He looked at her for confirmation.
Jenny nodded, waiting for him to continue. He didn’t, so she decided it was her turn to speak.
“I’m sorry you come at such a sad time.” She gestured to the house around her. “This is normally such a happy place.
Ryan nodded. “I could tell,” he said.
They both turned as her mother walked into the room.
“I probably should go,” Jenny said. “I still have school tomorrow.”
“I understand,” her mother said, kissing her on the cheek. “I’ll let you know if the police find out anything else.”
Jenny nodded. “Bye mom.”
“Bye sweetheart,” her mother called.
As she rode home, she couldn’t help but think about what had happened. Then her thoughts wondered to Ryan. She didn’t want to admit it, but he was cute with his short, jet black hair and dark, tan skin. Could he be the kidnapper? she suddenly thought. She thought hard. Mom said whoever did it must have a key. Ryan would have key because I bet mom gave him one the moment he got here. She made a mental note to ask her mother some time soon. The only person who remembers hearing Tim after 12:30 is Ryan. Tim would trust Ryan so he wouldn’t make a fuss if Ryan drove him somewhere in the middle of the night. Was if Ryan was the kidnapper?
She couldn’t keep that out of her head as she crawled into bed. “What if he did it? What if Ryan kidnapped Tim,” she thought as her mind slipped to sleep.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Jenny, would you mind sharing the answer with the class?” her professor asked.
Crud, Jenny thought. Her mind had been wondering all day and now, in her last class, she could hardly pay attention as all. She hesitated. “Could you repeat the question?” she asked quietly.
“Who was the author of the greatest work of literature in the 1700s?” her professor repeated.
Jenny stared at her desk, her face growing hot. “Ummm,” she said. She was saved by the bell.
“Remember tonight’s assignment,” her professor called as the students walked out the door.
“Hey,” Jake said as they walked down the hall. “What’s up?”
“My brother went missing this morning,” she said quietly.
“Oh man, that’s too bad,” he said, his voice full of concern. “Do you want to come over to my house tomorrow evening for some ice cream sundaes to cheer you up?”
“Sure,” Jenny answered, smiling. “I’d like that.”
“Great,” Jake said, “I’ll see you then.”
“See ya,” she called as she walked to her car. I think I’ll go visit mom today, she thought, maybe she’ll have something on Tim.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Hey,” Ryan said as he opened the door. “Back so soon?”
Jenny grinned. “Well, when big stuff like this happens, you tend to visit a lot.”
Ryan grinned back. “I can understand that,” he replied as he stood to the side to allow her to step in.
“Do you know if the police found out anything more about Tim?” she asked.
“If they have, they haven’t told us yet,” he told her as they walked down the hall.
As they rounded the corner she stumbled on a pair of shoes on the floor. As she began to fall, she felt a hand on either of her arms steady her. “Thanks,” she said, looking up into Ryan’s eyes.
“That was a close call,” he said, grinning. Jenny felt her heart skip a beat. “Let’s go find your mom before that happens again.”
“Good idea,” she agreed.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jenny tried hard not to think about that afternoon as she lay in bed. The feeling of Ryan’s warm hands on her arms as he reached out to catch her. The way his eyes had… “NO,” she told herself firmly, “think of something different.” Ocean blue eyes, a straight, perfect smile, her pounding heart. Great choice brain, she thought sarcastically. At least I get to go to Jake’s for sundaes tomorrow, she thought as she fell asleep. That ought to be fun.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ring, ring. Thank heaven, Jenny thought. I never would have thought that school might actually end. As she walked out to her car, she relished the thought of going to Jake’s. Finally, a chance to get away from schoolwork. Driving home she noticed the dark sky. It’s probably going to snow tonight, she thought. As she drove down her street, the grieving clouds cast shadows on everything. She sat down at her desk with a sigh. “At least I only have English and Math. I should be able to get it done in 3 hours. Maybe 2.” The very thought of it made her want to cry.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Sorry, I’m late,” Jenny apologized. “Math took me longer than I thought it would.”
“That’s okay,” said Jake, “I wasn’t ever ready for you until 15 minutes ago.” He led her into a small kitchen. “Knock yourself out,” he said, gesturing to an array of ice cream and toppings on the table. They both heaped their bowls then sat at the table.
Jake set his bowl down. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he assured her.
As she sat at the table, she let her mind wonder. Suddenly she felt cords slip around her, tying her to the chair by the legs and shoulders.
Her breath quickened. “Jake,” she called nervously.
“Right here,” a voice whispered in her ear.
“You’re the kidnapper,” she whispered, mortified.
“Oh no,” Jake said. “I’m much more that that.” He stepped into her line of view. In his hand he held a sharp, short knife. A line from a poem she’d read ran through her head, the knife was death. “Very true here,” she thought.
Then it hit her. “You did it,” she whispered, “you killed my sister.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I’ve got to get out of here, Jenny thought. Then she got an idea. “How did you kidnap Tim?” she asked as she slowly attempted to work her legs out of the rope, slipping off her shoes to help.
“Too easy,” Jake said, smiling a grin of pure evil. “During our date, you got up to use the restroom and left your purse by the chair. I took it and had a copy made of your key. I put the original back in your purse at school the next day. The rest was simple.” He stepped closer to her. “I’ve always killed twins, one at a time. The suspense makes everything so much more fun.”
Got it, Jenny thought. In one motion she stood up and snapped her front half down, bringing the chair crashing on top of Jake and freeing her shoulders. She wasted no time and began sprinting out the door. To her horror, he had flattened all of her tires. Without a second thought, she began to run down the street. Mom only lives a block from here, she thought.
She turned and saw Jake sprinting after her, knife in hand, a look of pure madness on his face.
Almost there, she thought. 5 houses, 3 houses, 1 house. She turned into her mother’s driveway, racing for the door.
“Ryan,” she screamed, throwing herself against the door. The door was ripped open.
“What, Jenny, what?” Ryan said.
“Jake’s the murderer,” she panted. “Killed my sister, kidnapped Tim, now he’s going to kill me!”
Without a word, Ryan pulled her in the house and reached behind the door as Jake started up the driver.
Ryan pulled his hand back, now in it was a small gun. He fired, catching Jake just below the shoulder. Jake collapsed on the spot.
“Call the police,” Ryan shouted.
Without arguing, she reached for the phone. 10 minutes later 5 cop cars were screaming down the street, along with an ambulance. As they loaded Jake onto the stretcher, her mother’s car pulled up the drive.
“What’s going on?” she asked, shopping purchases in her hand.
“Ma’am,” a cop said, “Miss Johnson has been through a lot in the last few minutes, let’s give her a minute to compose herself.”
Still shocked by what she just witnessed, Jenny allowed herself to be lead into the family room by Ryan. After he closed the door, she felt herself began to tremble. Tears welled up in her eyes. Ryan put a comforting arm around her shoulder. She suddenly burst into tears. She turned her face to Ryan.
“He killed my sister,” she whispered. It was all too much. She leaved onto his chest and let him put his arms around her. She began to sob gently as Ryan stroked her hair.
“It’s all over,” he whispered. “It’s all over.”
She looked at his face. “Thank you,” she said in a voice barely meeting a whisper.
“No thanks needed,” he whispered back as he lowered his face to hers. She closed her eyes and their lips met in a soft and gentle kiss.
“Now what brought that on?” she asked quietly.
Ryan smiled. “I think they call it love,” he answered.
Jenny smiled back. Maybe things wouldn’t be so bad after all




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