Something was up. No lights downstairs, upstairs, anywhere. The front porch light was always on when he returned from work on Friday nights, even if Millie and Molly were gone on a jog or a walk. Colton turned off S. Princeton into his driveway. Hadn’t he promised Millie they’d go out tonight?
He parked and walked up the stairs. The front door was locked. It shouldn’t be. Both of them knew he didn’t like fiddling with keys. Where’s Molly? Hadn’t he called Millie at work and left a message with Catherine that he wanted Molly to go out with them tonight?
Inside, he flipped on the overhead light and walked to the kitchen for a beer. He closed the refrigerator and saw a note laying on the table. There was one sheet of paper ripped from a spiral bound notebook. Colton pulled back his chair and sat. It was Millie’s writing. He glanced at the back side. It was blank but there were two airline tickets underneath.
The flight was today. O’Hare to Houston, with a 4:00 PM arrival. He downed half his Bud, and read the note. Twice. It wasn’t a surprise Millie and Molly had fled. The surprise was that it had taken them so long to leave. The other two women he’d lived with hadn’t lasted a year.
Colton finished his beer, slung the bottle toward the sink, and grabbed another. He drawled out a deep burp and yelled, “you fucking bitch.” An equally loud laugh erupted. “Stupid, stupid. You think I’m buying what you’re selling, that you and Molly have gone to Houston?” He picked up one of the tickets and looked again. Maybe she’s trying that reverse psychology trick on me.
The only thing that bothered him was not knowing how to reach her. Without her testimony the DA had him over a barrel, a barrel shaped like an eight by eight jail cell.
Six months ago Colton and Sandy, his best bud, met two gorgeous University of Chicago sophomores at Mitchell’s Tap, their favorite hangout. Two games of darts and a half-hour of dancing had led to a few drinks but unequal desires. Ellen and Gina’s excuse for leaving was they had to study. Colton’s temper flared. Hell, it was Friday night. Who studies on Friday night? He figured the girls had played them, just wanted to flirt and enjoy some free drinks. It’s our age, Sandy had offered. “At least fifteen years older.” The two young lasses had left without a mere thank you. Rejection was something neither man could manage.
After quickly dismissing the thought of more darts, Colton and Sandy had tailed Ellen and Gina outside to the parking lot and on to an older house on South Morgan Street. There, inside, the women refused to come to the door. They obviously didn’t understand the two men standing on their porch would not be so easily deterred.
An hour later, the men returned donning ski masks and wielding a crowbar. The rear door was easily breached. The women resisted at first but soon surrendered, doing what they were told, hoping they’d live to see Monday morning classes.
Before the night was over, Colton and Sandy had taken everything they came for. The sixteen hundred cash was a bonus but cost Ellen a finger. To start with. Shortly before dawn, a distant siren and a ringing land line scared them off, but not before tying the women up, dousing the place with five gallons of gasoline Colton kept in the bed of his truck, and tossing lite matches in both bedrooms. After retrieving his truck from Mitchell’s Tap, Colton had driven home and awakened a sleeping Millie. Molly was at Alisha’s for a sleepover.
At first, Millie didn’t ask a question, just wondered silently why Colton was so disheveled with two scratches on his fact. “I may need you to provide an alibi.” Millie refused to tell anyone that he’d returned from Mitchell’s at 10:30 PM. She changed her mind when Colton threatened Molly.
Two weeks ago, the DA had secured an indictment against him and Sandy for burglary, robbery, rape, sodomy, false imprisonment, and arson. Colton’s defense attorney and investigator had subsequently learned that somehow Gina had managed to escape the burning house, but had hid out for nearly a week before approaching the police. No doubt, Gina was the DA’s key witness and was saying it had to be the two men she and Ellen had partied with at Mitchell’s earlier that night. City detectives had no trouble identifying Colton Lee Atwood and J. Sanford Brown. Unfortunately for the DA, there was no physical evidence Colton and Sandy were the perpetrators.
Colton tossed the second beer bottle in the sink and grabbed two more. He’d been in trouble before but nothing like this. At least he could be thankful he’d worn a condom when he’d fucked the tight-bodied Gina. But, he knew her testimony would be enough to put him and Sandy into the lion’s den of a trial, and without Millie’s alibi, the two of them could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Colton swore he’d find Molly and Millie. If she refused to fully cooperate, he’d kidnap Molly and hold her until Millie lied that he was at home before 11:00 PM and stayed there all night. Colton knew Molly was the key to his freedom. The sweet, sexually maturing little girl was Millie’s weakness. She wouldn’t dare hesitate to protect the most important person in her world.