Authors: Lisa M. Basso
Tonight, news broke of the biggest story Peak, Missouri, had ever seen: The arrest of a rock star for unspeakable things. A statement from the alleged victim of Gavin Vault, lead singer of Venus Unearthed, would put our little town on the map even more so than when Mom’s Broadway career took off. Poor Officer Bladen had been sent to babysit me. If successful in getting me to talk, she could finally make detective—the first female on the force to achieve that rank—and make her Army vet dad proud.
Sarah Bladen’s life flashed before my mind’s eye.
“It’s not gonna happen, your promotion,” I blurted out before I could stop myself. Officer Bladen quickly scribbled “
” on her little pad. I didn’t actually see the words. I just knew it, the same way I knew about the Auktionsverk auction house. News about her relationship with a married officer on the force was about to surface. But that scandal would have to wait until this one died down.
Officer Sarah Bladen sighed heavily.
“When you’re ready to talk, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll go see if your mom’s here.” She threw the newspaper she’d been holding on the table in front of me and left the room. I grabbed it before it hit the tabletop microphone. I flipped the paper around to find Gavin’s photo under the headline:
ROCK STAR ARRESTED IN DISAPPEARANCE OF MISSING PEAK GIRL
Gavin Vault, lead singer of Venus Unearthed, was arrested on Christmas Day for the kidnapping and attempted assault of Grace Miller, daughter of Broadway actress Vivienne Miller. Miss Miller, seventeen, was reported as a runaway two months ago by her legal guardians, Victoria and Kenneth Larson, with whom she’d been living since her father, Gabriel Miller, died in a motor vehicular accident. Mr. Vault is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Miss Miller’s brother Remiel, fifteen, and the Larsons’ daughter Jennifer, also fifteen. The two teens were reported missing three weeks ago. At the time of Mr. Vault’s arrest, Miss Miller was found on the Vault estate in questionable physical condition. She is believed to be suffering from a condition similar to Stockholm Syndrome.
Something in the article triggered a flood of coherent thoughts and memories. When I tell them, when I finally answer their questions, it’s not gonna be good. They thought I was protecting Gavin, that I was his victim somehow. What were they going to say when I told them what really happened? What was Mom going to think?
My stomach churned as I took the last sip of the liquid they proudly called “coffee.” The door to the interrogation room swung open. I stood to throw the coffee cup away and saw Gavin leaning against the wall in the hallway across from me. My stomach churned again, and a great sadness followed.
Every bit the rock star and not a hair out of place, he looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Gavin laughed with the same officers who’d arrested him, and I noticed he was in the clothes he’d been wearing when they took him away in handcuffs. I wish I’d told him how good he looked earlier. I wish I’d done so many things differently.
Can you hear me
? I tried speaking to him telepathically. He didn’t answer or even acknowledge that I’d spoken, so I opened my mouth to call to him.
Our eyes met, and my mouth clamped shut. I was suddenly at a loss for words. One of the officers began leading him down the hall. I wanted to run to him, but my legs were jerked back into place by what felt like shackles, though there weren’t any on me. I tried again, but could only move about a foot from where I stood before being yanked back into place.
“Gavin!” I yelled. My voice echoed off the walls of the interrogation room and out into the hall, making me sound way more desperate than I’d intended.
Gavin lowered his head as if the sight was too much for him. Hot tears streamed down my face, stinging my skin. “Please, Gavin, wait!” He kept walking, as if he didn’t know me at all.
Officer Bladen reentered the room and closed the door.
Still, I heard them laughing and talking outside; it surprised me that I could hear them through the walls. Or was I just hearing voices again?
“You really make a lasting impression, huh, Vault?” One of the cops joked, followed by laughter from the others. By his tone, they seemed like they could have been old high school buddies.
Rage and humiliation got the best of me. I lunged forward, only to be pulled backward by the invisible shackles around my feet.
My landing wasn’t as graceful as I would have liked. Refusing help from a rather amused Officer Bladen, I stood, dusted off my knees, and took a seat.
We sat in silence, occasionally staring at one another, listening for anything at all. The only interruptions were Officer Bladen rubbing her arm at seemingly timed intervals and the dings of her cell phone. The fly was gone. He caught the flight out when Bladen opened the door. Smart fly. I found myself missing his flitting and buzzing.
A knock on the doorframe brought us both out of our bored trances. I think I was actually counting Officer Bladen’s arm hairs at the time.
“Ms. Miller,” intoned a cop who poked his head in from the hallway. Leaning in slightly and holding onto the doorframe as if the room were contaminated, he continued, “Your mother’s arrived and is right outside. I suspect you’ll want to start with your videotaped statement now.” He crooked a long index finger and motioned for Officer Bladen to follow him out into the hall. And then she was gone, leaving the lingering smell of her perfume.
A voice came from somewhere on the other side of the two-way mirror.
“Hi, Honey. Go ahead with your statement. Everything’s going to be just fine.”
A red light on the video camera above the mirror came on. I hadn’t noticed it until now.
“Mom?” I stood, ready to leave with her.
“Sit down, Grace,” Mom’s voice ordered. “Just give your statement and this will all be over with.”
“Mom…you’re not coming in?” My voice was small, almost mousey. The sound of the metal chair scraping along the concrete floor echoed in my ears as I sank back down.
“No, honey, just please give them your statement so we can be done with this whole mess.” Mom had not come to get me at all.
“Miss Miller, please. Look into the camera, state your name for the record, and start with your earliest recollections leading up to when we found you tonight, how you met Mr. Vault, came to be on his property, anything he may have said about your brother, Remiel, or Jennifer Larson from as far back as you can remember. Just take your time, Grace. If you need a break, let me know,” Sergeant Mullane’s voice boomed through the overhead speakers.
I squirmed, took a deep breath, cleared my throat, and spoke into the microphone. “Archangel Grace Ann Miller.” My voice was barely above a whisper. I could still take it back.
“I’m sorry, Grace. Can you repeat? Not sure we caught that,” Sergeant Mullane requested.
I know what I am. I know what I saw.
“Archangel Grace Ann Miller,” I repeated, only slightly louder.
“Did she say what I think she said?” It was Officer Bladen’s unmistakably snarky voice.
“Grace, I’m sorry. Can you please repeat your name and speak directly into the microphone in front of you?” Sergeant Mullane instructed.
“Archangel Grace Ann Miller,” I stated as loud as I could without yelling.
I didn’t hear anything after that.
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