Visiting for the first time? You can start with day one here.
Once he walks out the door, I watch him until he gets into his car and pulls out of the driveway. He’s on the phone, most likely with the forensics team. They’ll be here within a few hours and they’ll probably want me present. Which is basically opposite of perfect since right now I want to run.
Away from this mess.
Away from the fear.
Away from this persistent thought that Juniper is in real danger, and I can do nothing to stop it. To save her.
My thoughts are racing. I walk back to the bedroom, placing the note back underneath the seal, behind the curtain. I let my fingers linger for a moment, imagining this person watching me right now.
Are you watching me?
I focus my gaze outside and only see sand dunes, nearby cliffs, crashing waves, and seagulls. If he is, he knows there’s something waiting for him. And if I understand his thought process like I think I do, he won’t be able to hesitate coming to check what it is. I consider finding a security system, complete with cameras, but know it would be a ridiculous investment — especially if he’s watching. I watch enough crime shows to understand they work nothing like the real system. Which is why I question Dan’s motives about 98% of the time.
“He doesn’t have the greatest bedside manner.” I pivot. For a moment, I forgot Jasper was still here. He scratches his chin, the stubble having grown considerably since yesterday.
I sigh and shake my head slightly. “I don’t know what I was expecting when I first called the police about Juniper missing, but it’s not this. I can’t keep up. It’s like emotional whiplash. I cover my face with my hands and collapse on a nearby chair.
“Want to go for a walk?”
I look up.
He sticks his hands in his pockets and juts his chin toward the window, “there’s a trail right around the corner that curves the shoreline.”
“Yeah,” I say, not mentioning Juniper’s walks along that trail when we would talk on the phone. I’m pretty sure I could find my way around it just by memories of our conversations. I pull at my ear, a nervous tic, and roll my shoulders.
“Sure. Why not. I could use a distraction.” And then I blush. Because obviously, this distraction has nothing to do with the views of nature.
I’ve been waiting since the black of dawn for her to find the note. I almost give up when I look at my watch and realize it’s nearly noon.
Will she ever wake up?
And then she does, and so does my heart.
When she opens the curtain and starts the stretches that look like a variation of some sort of yoga, I fight from running to her — she looks so much like Juniper and I know she’ll be excited to see me. But I don’t. I wait. It’s not time — not yet.
So I just sit there, mesmerized. She stretches her arms above her head, a small smile on her lips, and her shirt lifts just above the hem of the shorts that barely cover the lacy underwear I know is underneath.
God. She is so beautiful.
How is it possible to stumble across perfection twice?
Then she finds the note. My heart rate triples. Her hands fly up to her mouth and I break into a grin. She loves it! I knew she would. She walks away for a moment and I lose sight of her and I think about checking the other views — the monitors I set up in another room. Something keeps me planted though, and I’m so glad I listen because there she is again and this time? This time she’s placing something back under the window! Juniper never did this!
Is that a note? For me? My breath catches and tears threaten to fall.
I knew she understood me. Wait until I tell Juniper.
My fingers itch to wrap around the paper, to read words she’s crafted for my eyes. I move to make my way over, to snatch the piece of paper meant for me, but I wait too long because soon I see the detective walk toward the window and take it.
I hiss. That’s mine! I shove my fist in my mouth to keep from screaming. The anger pulses underneath my skin and I claw at a scab on my wrist, a scratch from Juniper, until it turns bloody again.
Lavender should have known. She should have known not to call them. I close my eyes and shake my head violently.
They’ll ruin everything.
I know this because Jasper, the prick with those pansy looking shorts, almost ruined my chance. He will never know he’s the reason Juniper is safe with me now. I saw the way she was on his radar, the way he always appeared at the most inopportune moments. I know men like him — the other side to this coin of my personality. I saw them at the coffee shop and the way he would look at her hands, wanting to reach out and grab them. And I knew, because he lacks the courage I would ultimately show, nothing would ever happen.
But then he threw my note away — the one where I let Juniper know how much I loved that blue sweater she was thinking about wearing that morning. He broke my heart, and lied to her about me. Asked her if she was okay — like the note was something dangerous or a reason to be afraid. I wrinkle my lips in disgust remembering that moment.
I saw her reaction. Saw how scared she was of him.
So I knew I had to do something. I had to claim her for myself.
Jasper was never right for her. Quoting poetry and waxing philosophical about this screenplay he’s working on at night. Juniper was so bored. It’s like he didn’t even know her.
But I do. I know her better than anyone.
I know she gets mad when people don’t listen to her. I know she dreams of a life that is hers alone and has nothing to do with her twin, as much as they love each other, Juniper craves the identity of being her own person. You have to find yourself, she always says. You have to find yourself in order to know what you’re meant to do with this life.
She never knew that every time she said that, I became more and more sure that what I’m meant to do in this life had everything to do with her.
I know this because up until I rescued her, she never looked at me. She never had any idea that the reason my heart beats is because I imagine the moment I will feel her heart beat against mine.
I smile to myself. I think about yesterday, the way she fought me, biting at my shoulder and screaming until she was hoarse. I wasn’t even doing anything. I was giving her water. But it’s what gave me the idea to start watching Lavender. I sniff at the memory, feeling the excitement of the chase rise all over again. The detective is leaving the house now, and I lean forward as he shakes the gravel pulling out of the driveway. A motion in the bedroom catches my attention and I see Lavender put the note back under the window.
That’s right, my love. Fight for me and I will fight for you.
Lavender and Juniper, sugar and spice.
Soon I will have everything nice.
A curious obsession indeed.