First Date

When they arrived at the girl’s house she got out of the car, and, reaching to close the door, began to scream uncontrollably. The boy ran to her side to see what was wrong and there, dangling from the door handle, was a bloody hook.

- excerpt from ‘The Hook.’ An Urban Legend.

I can’t believe we’ll be meeting each other in person for the first time.” That was the last thing Emily said before signing off from the video dating service she had decided to try. In the beginning, she was skeptical when her friends suggested she tried meeting someone online. Those feelings were all swept aside when she met Jason. The way they met seemed almost coincidental. Emily had only been registered for a couple of hours when Jason posted a video chat request to Emily’s profile with a message attached that said, “Hello, are you as new to this as I am? Want to talk about it? :).”

Jason seemed to be the perfect guy — not like any of those vulgar weirdos she expected to find — and soon they found themselves meeting online for hours a day just chatting and laughing. Every time they met, Emily noticed that Jason was cool in spite of his noticeably underlying awkward nervousness. This gave her a feeling of relief as she had worried Jason would pick up on her nervousness and think she was strange. It was only a couple of weeks before they decided to take the relationship to the next step and meet each other in person.

Emily felt like she had been styling her hair for the past three hours. Kim, Emily’s sister, walked into the room and jokingly quipped, “Maybe we should call Jason and tell him to come by for your date tomorrow evening. You might be ready by then.” Emily flashed Kim a dirty look sticking out her tongue and quickly replied, “Screw you! I’m practically ready. I just want to look as good as I can for the first time he sees me — well, in person.” Turning away from her sister and looking back toward the mirror with her hands still in her hair she added, “He should be picking me up in an hour. Besides, if I wanted to call him, I couldn’t. I don’t think he even has a cell phone. If he does, then he never gave me the number.”

“Don’t you think that’s a bit weird,” said Kim leaning on the doorframe at the entrance of the room. “I mean, there aren’t a lot of people out there without cell phones these days.” Emily paused for a second and replied, “Not really. We’ve always met each other online so we’ve never needed to exchange phone numbers. Now that I think about it, I’ve told him my address so he could pick me up for our date but I have no idea where he lives.”

Kim became serious for a moment and suspiciously asked, “How well do you know this guy anyway?” Emily shot back with an awkward smile on her face, “What kind of question is that?” “Oh nothing,” Kim replied. “It’s just that you’ve only known this guy online for two weeks. Sometimes I can’t help but think this is too soon.” “It’s not like a blind date,” Emily defended. “I’ve seen him already. He’s cute, friendly, and he has a nice home from what I can see in the background of his webcam. He has this nice painting hung that I can see whenever we chat. Also, I don’t think he’s a veterinarian but I do know he works with animals down at the shelter. He doesn’t say much about himself but I’d say those are some great qualities in a guy that I’d like to meet.”

“Ok, ok,” Kim said, as she moved toward Emily placing her hands on her shoulders. “I’m only looking out for my little sister. You never know how many crazies are out there. I’m just saying, it’s easy to mask your personality when the only contact you have is a computer screen.” “I know you mean well,” Emily said, looking back at her sister. “You don’t have to worry about me. I can look after myself. I’ll be fine.”

With a little smirk, Kim said, “maybe you should just take a quick peek at his license plate when he picks you up and text it to me in case something goes wrong.” Emily returned to her mirror laughing and sarcastically said, “Don’t be such a freak.”

With that an unexpected knock is heard at the door. Kim walked across the room to look out the bedroom window and said “I wonder who that could be?” “I don’t know,” Emily replied, still at the mirror. “If that’s Jason, he’s early. I can be down in a couple of minutes.” Before leaving the room, Kim cautioned lightly, “Remember what I said.” Emily pointed out of the room and said, “I know. Just go get the door.”

Kim opened the front door to a young man holding out a bouquet of Daisies that he quickly hid behind his back. “You must be Jason,” She said. “You’re early. Emily wasn’t expecting you yet.” “Yes,” Jason replied. “And you must be Emily’s sister, Kim. I was ready earlier than I expected and I couldn’t wait to start the evening so I decided to drop by a little early as a surprise. Is Emily home?” “She’s upstairs getting ready but she should be down shortly if you would like to step inside to wait,” Kim asked. “No that’s ok. I’ll wait out here” he said as he pulled a single daisy from the bouquet before returning it to its hiding place. “But here, take this. There will still be plenty left for Emily.” Kim smiles and says, “Thank you,” as she took the daisy and headed back into the house.

Within minutes, Emily hopped down over the stairs and hurried out to meet Jason still waiting for her at the door with the bouquet held outstretched with a smile on his face. “It’s so nice to finally meet you in person,” he said. “You look amazing.” “Thank you,” she replied. “Thank you so much for the flowers. You shouldn’t have.” “Don’t mention it,” Jason said extending his hand. “Shall we?”

“Sure,” Emily said, taking Jason’s hand, as she glanced at the empty driveway and asked, “By the way, where are we going? Are we walking?” Jason answered, “I’m taking you out to that new restaurant that opened in town, Mario’s. It’s a little fancy, but not too much. I think you’ll really like it.” When he noticed Emily’s smile of approval he added, “My car is parked just up the street. I figured it’s a nice evening, and I figured a short walk to the car could be a sort of pre-date. You know, to give either one of us a last chance to back out.” As they started walking Emily coyly said, “That’s a bit odd and unnecessary,” as she wrapped her arms around his, “but I like it. Things seem like they’re off to a good start and I don’t plan on backing out.”

“Well that’s good to hear,” Jason said amused by the success of his plan. “I think the night can only get better from here.” As they drew nearer to Jason’s car Emily thought about what Kim had told her before they left and slyly took a peek at the licence plate number — ‘HBA 641.’ Realizing how silly this was she let out a quiet chuckle. Upon hearing this Jason asked, “What’s so funny?” “Oh nothing,” she replied. “I was only thinking of something funny my sister said before we left.”

Before getting into the car Jason opened Emily’s door and said with a smile, “Well, this is it. No turning back now.” “Fine with me,” Emily replied as she stepped into the passenger side. “I think I’m in good hands.” Jason got in the car, turned the ignition, and drove off toward the restaurant and the beginning of the evening.

Things at the restaurant were going well. Emily was having a good time and Jason seemed to be everything she had hoped for. Until now there had only been friendly chitchat so when the waiter placed the coffee and dessert on their table Emily felt it was time to move the conversation along.

“So,” she said. “That was delicious. I’m glad we decided to go out tonight.” Jason agreed, “We’ll have to do this again sometime.” Reaching her hand across the table, Emily placed her hand on Jason’s and said, “You know, there is no rush to leave. This seems like a great time to just get to know you a little better, face to face.” Jason slowly pulled his hand away, sat back into his chair, interlocking his fingers. He said, “Ok. What would you like to know?”

“Well, I already know we both like the same movies, and we’re both into the same music” Emily said, keeping in mind to start off simple. “Tell me about your family. Do you have any brothers or sisters?” Jason looked around the room before bringing his attention back to Emily and said, “There’s not really much to tell. My mother and father separated when I was young and I grew up with my brother.” “That’s too bad,” Emily said, glad to see Jason starting to open up.

Leaning in closer she continued to ask, “Do they live around here? Do you keep in touch?” “No, they don’t live around here,” Jason replied, shifting in his chair trying to look unshaken while answering the question. “I moved out when I could afford to. I left to try and find my own path, you could say — I haven’t talked to them since.” “That must be rough,” said Emily with a touch of sympathy.” “It’s not a big deal,” Jason assured. “I’ve made my own choices and I’ve been able to make a life by myself. After all, that’s how I came to meet you.”

Emily blushed at that sweet statement, smiled, and continued. “Is that when you moved here and started at the animal shelter,” she asked. Jason unlocked his fingers, placing his hands on the arms of his chair and answered, “Yes. I moved around from place to place for a couple of years until I found a reason to stay here.” He raised his hands, motioning toward Emily and said, “But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.”

Emily sat back in her chair, arms crossed, with a smile on her face, and insisted, “I’m sorry, but we spent ninety percent of our time online talking about me and here we are, face to face, and I know so little about you. I really am interested in how you take care of the animals.” Noticeably uncomfortable and beginning to fidget in his chair Jason began to close up and said, “I’d like to keep that part of my life separate from my social life for now. I would like to talk about something else. How about we make plans for our next date?”

The curiosity getting the better of her, Emily pressed on. “Come on,” she said with a wide smile, batting her eyelashes as if the two combined would wear down his defences. “You can tell me. It can’t be that bad.”

Jason looked around, making a motion with his hand, and said “Maybe I should call the waiter over… get our bill.”

Emily, feeling her persistence justified by Jason’s strange behaviour and the simplicity of her question, rose up and reached out to lower Jason’s hand before the waiter could notice and said, “Why can’t you just tell me?”

Jason jumped to his feet, leaned over the table and shouted with anger “I don’t want to talk about it” as he slammed his fists down hard. The plates shook and the half empty glasses knocked over spilling their contents across the table and onto the floor.

Emily felt like she was slammed back in her chair. How could the person she thought she had met be the same person standing before her. All she could do was look up at him, speechless, as his eyes just glared at her. After what seemed like an eternity to Emily, Jason became calm and returned to his chair. The awkward silence, only broken by the whispering amongst the other patrons, continued until Emily spoke up and said, “It’s getting late and people are staring. Maybe you should take me home.”

Jason remained quiet for a moment and, ignoring Emily’s request, asked, “Have you ever loved someone so much that the thought of losing them made you feel like you would die?” He looked up slowly at Emily; her still anxiety easily detected against his sombre calm, and continued, “A bond is a bond, be it between man and woman, or a person and their pet. Sometimes the connection is so strong that the pain of loss is too much to bear. All they want is to keep things the way they were when times were good, when everyone was happy. Things need to stay the same for these people because, to accept change is to accept loss.”

By this time Emily had regained some of her composure. Still shaken by what had happened, drying tears drawing lines down her face, she exclaimed, “Jason, what do you mean? What are you talking about?”

“What I mean,” he uttered. “Is… that is the way I would feel if I were to lose you.”

This statement left Emily with an unsettling feeling in her stomach. After all that had happened, she gathered the nerve to stand and say, “Jason, I think I should go.”

Jason seemed to snap out of it and quickly stopped her, “No, I’m ok. I promise. I can take you home. You’ll be fine.”

Emily wanted to leave. She wanted to walk away from this situation. All she could think was, “Kim was right. Kim was right.” She reached in her purse for her cell phone to call Kim for a ride, and remembered her car was having trouble and was in for maintenance. She looked outside and noticed it was starting to rain. It was dark and she didn’t have enough cash for a taxi all the way home. She looked back at Jason, who was now smiling as if nothing had happened, and decided to go against her instincts when she told him, “All right, you can take me home.”

With that, Jason threw enough cash on the table to cover the bill and they quietly left the restaurant. No sooner had they left the restaurant that it returned to its normal buzz, as if they were never there.

On the drive back home, things remained silent. Jason made no attempt to smooth things over with Emily. He kept casting her friendly smiles as if dinner had been a huge success. Emily couldn’t get the image of his eyes filled with rage as he was pushed too far by her innocent questions. The flashing of the street lights in the car only served to give Jason’s smiles a more sinister quality. Emily was frightened at dinner. She was still frightened. Jason, the guy she fell for so fast; the guy she thought she knew but didn’t, was quickly turning out to be a complete stranger. She thought to herself, “At least he is taking me home.” The only thing that kept her from an emotional breakdown was her knowledge that, in a few minutes, she would be able to find comfort in Kim’s arms. She would be safe.

Turning onto Emily’s street, Jason began slowing down. He was still silent but they were almost there. Emily unbuckled her seatbelt, turned to Jason, took a deep breath and softly suggested, “Jason, I think it would be a good idea if we didn’t see each other anymore.”

Emily’s house now drawing closer in the distance, Jason’s eyes blinked and his head shook almost unnoticeably. “I understand,” he answered in a stoic tone, as if unaffected.

“I’m glad you do,” she said as she looked back out her window to see her house pass by. Feeling a slight rush of anxiety, Emily gave a weak laugh and commented, “That was my house we just passed.” Jason never made a sound. He wasn’t smiling. “What are you doing,” she asked, as she began to lose all calm. She was so close. Jason accelerated back to a normal speed, still silent, his eyes focused ahead. He continued to drive, making a turn as her street disappeared into the distance behind them. Upset now, eager to put an end to this situation, Emily yelled, “Jason. Where are you going? You said you were going to take me home?”

Jason turned his head to look at her with that same sinister friendly smile and reassured her, “But Emily, I am taking you home.”

Emily was suddenly horrified. Screaming wouldn’t help. Rain, at this time of night, was a great way of keeping pedestrians from walking around, and Jason would be the only one to hear her calls. Her head was bombarded with a blizzard of ideas on how to get away but she was so stricken stiff that she was unable to figure out a good plan. As Jason drove further away from safety, Emily became more overcome with fear. “Don’t panic,” she thought in her head. “Think of something.”

Then, strangely enough, Jason came to a complete stop. Everything was silent. Emily’s eyes opened wide as she sat there, confused, afraid to move except for a few quick, uneven breaths. He was at an intersection and the traffic lights were red. He looked briefly at Emily with a look of adoration that was completely void of any concept that something was wrong. Completely delusional, he looked ahead as the red tint of the traffic lights cast on his face. Quietly, he started to whistle a soothing melody.

Listening to his song, the light had almost turned green before Emily, still afraid to move, realized the opportunity she had been given. Quickly, she threw open the door, jumped out of the car and ran off as fast her legs would carry her. Jason looked on as she ran; puzzled by this turn of events, as if he had no idea why she would have done such a thing. His puzzled look slowly turned to anger as he reached over to close the passenger door.

Emily ran for what seemed like forever. She couldn’t get enough distance between her and the car to settle her nerves. Her breathing was out of control, only surpassed in speed by the beating of her heart. Suddenly she could go run no further. She was soaked from the rain and she was cold, shivering as she slowed to walk along the lonely sidewalk. The light from a group of buildings could be seen ahead. Emily picked out the sign of a convenience store and figured she would be able to make it there, and make other arrangements to get back home in the safety of other people.

As she walked along, she noticed a flash of light from behind her. A single car was speeding up the road in her direction. It was Jason.

The little calm she had been able to gather was quickly stripped away when Emily knew the night was not over yet.” I won’t make it,” she thought. With a second burst of energy she, almost instinctively, bolted off the sidewalk and through the trees. Emily fought through the branches and darkness as twigs ripped at her clothes and hair. As she emerged on the other side her foot snagged on a low branch and she fell forward. Placing her hands out just in time to save her face she looked around to find herself in a park. Although it was dark, she recognized this place as she had been here once before with her sister in the daylight. She found shelter under a nearby overpass and whipped out her phone to call her sister.

On the other side of the phone, Kim answered, “Hello,” as if she had been woken from sleep. “Where are you?”

Frantically, Emily cried, “You’ve got to help me. He’s after me. I’m so scared.”

“Who’s after you,” Kim asked, suddenly awakened by her sister’s tone. “Where are you?”

“Jason is crazy,” she cried. Emily’s voice was shaken by her fear and the cold. “You were right. I should have listened. I’m in the park but he isn’t far.” Emily suddenly remembered her sister’s silly request. “HBA 641. Remember that if something should -.”

The cell phone dropped to the ground as a hand wrapped around Emily’s mouth and yanked her backwards. Emily couldn’t see anything. She could only notice a funny smell invade her nostrils that seemed both sweet and rotten. Everything went hazy, and then everything went dark. Kim’s voice could still be heard emanating from the cell phone on the ground calling out as her sister was dragged away…

Everything looked so blurry. Emily had trouble focusing her vision as she struggled to keep her eyes open. Her head was pounding and she still felt nauseous from being drugged. She could remember everything that had happened up to the blackout but had no idea as to where she was now. Still groggy and unable to see clearly she realized she couldn’t move her arms. She was tied to a chair. She screamed for help but murmurs were the only sounds to escape the tape over her mouth. The only purpose it served was to increase the ringing in her ears. Slow music could be heard coming from a nearby stereo. Where was she?

Her clothes were dry now and she could feel the dried mud on her arms and legs, and between her fingers. Her vision began to clear as she attempted to scan the dimly lit room. Everything seemed clean, tidy, and well organized. She could see the door. So close.

On the other side of the room was a decorated table. Two candles gave an ambient light behind a bottle of wine and two glasses. Still looking at the table, Emily noticed what seemed to be a leather case with a zipper seam. This was the only thing that she felt seemed out of place as if someone had placed it there for some purpose she had yet to discover.

Still searching for some clue to her location Emily continued scanning the room. Her gave became locked on a painting hung on the far wall. “Why does it look so familiar,” she thought. “How do I know it?” Her head still hurt. Everything was cloudy. She couldn’t think. Then it hit her — she was in Jason’s house. He did what he said he would do and had taken her home.

Suddenly, Emily shuddered as a brush swept through the mess of leaves and dirt in her hair. Jason, now behind her, spoke sweetly, “I hope you enjoyed your nap. You fell asleep in the car after the restaurant and you looked too cute to wake so I carried you inside.”

Emily could not see him but she could tell from the sound of his voice that he was acting in complete denial of the reality of the night’s events. It was as if he was actually proud of the way he had been taking care of her. She cried out for him to stop but there were only muffled sounds. Jason answered, “Shhh… shhh… don’t stress yourself out. You’ve had a busy night.”

Jason finished brushing, and walked around into the room turning to face Emily. He crossed his arms and placed one hand on his chin pensively as he looked her over. “Beautiful,” he said. “I know you’re tired, but our night’s not over quite yet. We have much to celebrate.”

Jason moved toward the table and picked up the bottle of wine. Emily tried to free herself but she was still unable to move. “A special year,” Jason said, in reference to the wine as he slowly filled the two glasses. “A memento of sad times I’d much sooner like to forget.”

Emily, full of fear in spite of Jason’s extreme calm, had no idea what Jason was talking about. Helpless to ask, she had no choice but to listen and hope for some opportunity to get free.

Jason took a sip of wine. “But tonight, I can put all that behind me,” he claimed as he moved closer to Emily. “Here. Have some wine.” He held the glass against the tape on her lips, and tilted it so she could taste it. The wine poured down her chin and over her dress as she squirmed but Jason didn’t seem to notice.

“When I first met you,” he said as he returned to the table. “I knew you would be someone that would love me. I knew that you that would never leave me. Our relationship was so simple; so innocent; so perfect.”

A sinister look flashed briefly on his face as he continued, “Then you had to ask questions. The answers to your questions, mere conversational tools to you, were secret to me.” He looked toward the leather case and slowly undid the zipper. “I would have told you when I was ready yet you had to force it, and when I lost my patience you threatened to walk away.”

Jason folded open the leather case. Emily noticed a flash of metal in the candle light and tried to scream but couldn’t. Lined up inside the case and held in place with bands was a row of scalpels, knives, and scissors. In the center, held in place by a band on the spine of the case, was a single cutting knife that was twice as large as the others.

Jason took his glass and moved to the center of the room, between the table and Emily. “But now you are here,” he said. “And you’ve decided to stay with me after all.” He seemed to be almost in good spirits for a moment until he abruptly took on a serious tone and asked, “You’ll never leave me again, will you?”

Emily was scared and speechless. She couldn’t answer him if she wanted to. Jason, feeling insulted by Emily’s silence gritted through his teeth, “Tell me you’ll never leave me again.”

Did Jason think Emily could respond? Was he oblivious to the tape he had put on her mouth preventing her from answering? Emily shook, squirmed, and screamed words that came out as muffled noise. Tears began to run down her face as Jason’s anger began to escalate to new heights.

Then there was quiet. For a small moment, the only sound to be heard was the soothing piano playing peacefully from the stereo.

“You’re going to leave me, aren’t you,” grimaced Jason, breaking the silence. Slowly raising his voice he continued, “Why would you take me into your life, tell me you love me, only to leave me all alone.”

Emily was terrified. “What is wrong with you,” she tried to cry through the tape but Jason had sunken into his own explosive shell. It was almost as if he knew she was there but was no longer necessarily talking to her.

“I don’t want to lose you,” Jason screamed angrily. The rage fuelled in his gaze as he roared, “Why can’t you just fucking answer me!” He turned and kicked his foot through the stereo. He let out a cathartic scream and threw his glass at the table knocking over the bottle and smashing the other glass.

Breathing heavily, Jason loomed over Emily so close that she could almost taste the wine on his breath. “I could never lose you,” he swore. “I want to you stay with me, forever, just as you are now.”

Then, Jason stood up and let out a simple laugh. “You want to know what I do,” he asked glancing away for a moment toward the table. “Well, I’ll show you.”

Jason turned and started moving slowly toward the leather case and the deadly instruments it held. Emily screamed, trying so hard to move that the legs of the chair began to rock back and forth. Jason extended his hand toward the scalpel with a grin on his face. Emily had the chair rocking so much that she fell over, hitting her head. Jason, hearing the fall, turned his attention back to Emily as he moved toward her empty handed.

Without warning, the door was kicked open and two police officers stormed the room. From Emily’s perspective on the floor everything seemed to be happening in slow motion as the officer’s knocked Jason to the ground landing mere inches from her face. They’re eyes locked only for a second. “I love you,” were the last words he whispered to her before the police had him in cuffs and took him away.

Three days had passed since that night. Emily had an appointment at the police station to discuss the results of the investigation into the events that led up to her rescue. Sat side by side, Kim looked at her baby sister with a smile as she held hand.

From the hall, a man tapped lightly on the door and said, “Ahem. Sorry to interrupt, let’s begin.” The man entered the office and sat behind the desk. Before speaking, he placed a small stack of folders on top of the desk.

“Ok Emily,” he began. “My name is Detective Foley and my job is to tell you what we’ve found and where things will go from here. There is good news but, personally, I don’t think you’re going to like everything you hear.”

“That’s ok,” Emily replied. “I want to be able to understand everything. It might help me sleep a little better knowing what I escaped from and that it is over.”

The detective began to review the collected information. The instruments in the leather case were part of a stylized set of tools used in Taxidermy. When the police searched Jason’s home they were shocked at what they found in the basement.

Although the upstairs was neat and organized, the basement was home to a grotesque display of several poorly crafted taxidermic animals in kennel cages. All of these animals were abandoned pets that had spent extended periods of time at the shelter. Jason felt an extreme connection with these creatures. Once they were put down, he would take their bodies and perform his craft. His coworkers often heard him say he wished they could stay with him, forever, just as they are now.

Emily felt a chill down her back when she heard the detective repeat the same words that Jason had said to her. “I don’t want to think about what could have happened,” she said.

“You’re lucky we got there when we did. Without the call from your sister we might never have found you.”

The detective continued on stating that a look into Jason’s past revealed that he had come from a broken home. Jason’s extreme fear of loss and abandonment likely stemmed from his younger years when his mother left one day without a word and never came back.

“We think it’s that connection that helps to explain his obsession with you, Emily,” said Foley as he opened a folder and slid it across the desk. “Take a look.”

It took a few moments to realize what she was looking at. Laid out before her were a journal and a collection of pictures. Some of the pictures, all of Emily taken in different places, were almost two months old. Jason had been watching her every move.

She opened the journal. Skimming the pages she was able to see the extent of his obsession poured out on paper. He was watching when she registered for the online dating service and pounced on this opportunity to get closer.

Foley motioned to the journal and said, “Check out the last page.”

Stuck in the back of the book was a single photograph of a woman.

“She kind of looks like you,” added Kim.

Emily flipped the photo and noticed a word was written there — ‘MOM.’

Emily threw the journal down and slid the folder back across the desk and said uneasily, “Ok, I’ve seen enough. What’s going to happen now? Jason is going to jail, right?”

“Jason will never see a jury, that much is for sure,” said Foley. “We know he’s guilty of kidnapping. That much is certain.” His tone became serious as he looked at the girls for a moment before continuing.”

“Concerning the taxidermy toolkit on the table, in your statement you never mentioned that Jason ever held a weapon in his hand. This was confirmed by the police who arrived on the scene when they did the takedown. Based on this, I don’t see a judge finding Jason guilty of any malicious intent.”

“The bastard was going to kill me,” she insisted. “If the police hadn’t come in when they did, I’d probably be hung up in the basement like those poor animals.”

“I’m sorry. Truly I am, but the evidence just isn’t there to support that conviction. In all honesty, I can’t see Jason getting more than a couple of years. Maybe he could end up with a hold over probation period for psychological therapy — beyond that, nothing more.”

Emily was suddenly filled with dread. The idea that Jason could be back on the streets, on her street, in two years was more than she was willing to handle. She looked at Kim and realized that her sister understood what this meant.

Down the hall, a door opened and the same officers that performed the arrest entered with Jason held by the arms, his hands cuffed in front.

“Keep it moving!” Emily turned her head when heard the officer’s voice just outside the door. A sinking feeling swept over her when she seen him standing there, just looking at her with a vengeful stare. One of the officer’s gave him a shove to get him moving. Jason turned his head to maintain the stare as he moved.

Emily knew at the moment, with Jason’s stare burned in her mind, that she wouldn’t feel peace anytime soon. Jason would be back. He would never let her go.