I stare at the profanity strewn all over the walls in what looks like hair color, I don’t understand. This isn’t random, this is a hate crime. The crunch of glass echoes through the room; it’s all I can hear as I take one more shaky step toward my apartment stairs. The smell of bleach and whatever else the culprit poured over everything before taking off assaulting my senses. It’s still a strong smell even though the windows have been smashed.
The place is a mess.
There’s holes in the walls where the mirrors have been ripped from it, the countertops are half hanging off and the chairs are battered from being thrown all over.
“Sam, you can’t be in here just yet, not until we’ve searched this whole place from top to bottom.”
I turn toward the officer standing a few feet away. “The hell I can’t! This is my place.”
I stare him down but he doesn’t budge.
“Well I’m sorry. We can’t be too careful, we told you this down at the station,” he sighs. “Come on, Sam. I’m just trying to do my job here.”
I huff, I know he’s just doing his job, but I need to be here. I take one last look around and follow him out of the salon, manoeuvring over all of the debris on our way out.
Connor is stood outside with Lewis and his face softens as I walk over to him. “How bad is it?”
“It’s worse than what I thought, I’m really worried about Keeley,” I breath out.
He pulls me into his arms and I ball the back of his t-shirt in my hands. This is the first time I’ve seen the inside of the salon since arriving back in Little Hollow.
When we first got here, there was already police tape surrounding it, and no one would let us in due to the ongoing investigation. I was taken straight to the police station and had to answer a billion questions; they clearly thought this was an insurance scam by Keeley, and they weren’t taking her disappearance seriously enough for my liking.
Connor rubs gentle circles into the bottom of my back. “I’m here, sweetheart. They’ll find her, they just need to finish dusting for fingerprints and questioning the neighbors to gather some evidence first.”
I nod and look over at Lewis who is starting to look uncomfortable, balancing his weight from one foot to the other.
“Lewis? You can go home now. I’ll call you if anything else comes up,” I say. He looks at me with an unsure look on his face and I continue, “Honestly, as much as I want to kick up a fuss, there’s nothing more that can be done tonight. I guess we just have to wait it out.”
He nods his head resolutely and we say our goodbyes. Luckily, I always keep a spare key for Miss Debbie’s apartment on my keychain. She’s away traveling and has been for the last couple of months. Sixty-five years old and she’s living a more exciting life than I am.
“Come on then, let’s get you back to the apartment,” Connor says.
I take one last look at the shambles that is now my salon, and my heart seizes. Not only is it my work... it’s my home too. A lone tear rolls down my cheek and Connor catches it with his thumb. “We’ll work this out, I think you’re forgetting your boyfriend owns a construction company.” I freeze at his words and he realizes what he’s said. “Err, that is… erm. Is that okay to call myself that?”
I look up into his waiting eyes. “You’re the only constant in all of this mess right now, of course it’s okay.”
He’s made me smile, and for that, I’m grateful. But then it drops. The police mentioned that until Keeley is proven innocent, the insurance company won’t pay out a cent. I can’t expect him to work for free, I mean, I have some savings, but it won’t be enough to fix all of this. And it isn’t just about fixing the place up. I shiver, the whole idea of working in there makes me cringe, it feels like someone has violated a private part of my life, and I don’t know whether that happy contented feeling I get from working in there daily will ever come back.
Getting into the rental car and driving to Miss Debbie’s takes all of five minutes. I’ve sent her an email to tell her what’s happened, telling her I’ll take good care of her place. I don’t know when she’ll get it because she’s in India at the moment, but I know she won’t mind us being here.
After everything, I just want a normal boring life but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. I miss Keeley and it makes me anxious that she could be out there somewhere, possibly hurt.
I want to believe more than anything that she didn’t do this, but the evidence isn’t looking good in the cop’s eyes. But it really doesn’t add up for me, I know her, why would she write that all over the walls? They said it’s to take the suspicion off of her, but I’m still not buying it. My friend is missing… and I’m going to find her.