Mosaic Heart – Part 5
Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse
Laurel stared at the card. She couldn’t move or speak. Fear held her paralyzed again. She felt a presence behind her and a hand on her shoulder.
“Give me the card,” Mrs. Hanley coaxed in a calm, soft voice. “That’s it, now breathe for me. Good, I’m going to help you to the couch.”
Laurel did her best to follow directions. Her body was shaking so hard it was difficult to walk. The short distance to the couch suddenly looked like a long narrow hallway. Once she was stretched out on the couch, Mrs. Hanley brought her a blanket and fluffed her pillow. The room was empty except for the two of them.
“Carly….” Laurel began, but Mrs. Hanley put a finger to her lips.
“Tammy told her your present was from someone you didn’t want to see, so it wasn’t a nice surprise at all. Then she told her you needed to rest for a little while and took her upstairs to play.” Mr. Hanley whispered.
Laurel nodded, “Good. Did you call Constable Perkins?”
The question was still hanging in the air when a sharp knock reverberated through the front door. Mrs. Hanley went to let Constable Perkins in. By the grim look on his face, Laurel knew that the danger level had gone from cautious to red alert.
“Laurel, there’s an undercover RCMP officer in an unmarked car within direct sight of this property. He has a police dog with him and will look like someone walking his dog past this house in an hour. A new officer with a different dog will take his place at different intervals around the clock. This will ensure constant surveillance without establishing a set pattern they can work with,” Constable Perkins relayed.
She closed her eyes and breathed a silent prayer asking God to take the terror away. A peace washed over her, the shaking stopped, and she sat upright on the couch.
“Thank you, Constable Perkins. That’s fast work, and I appreciate it!” She stood up slowly and started to walk toward the kitchen, but Constable Perkins wasn’t finished.
“Everyone, this is Constable Thornton, he has extensive experience in these types of situations. He’ll remain here in the house ensuring that your home is secure. A new officer will be assigned here in the morning. Any questions?”
Tammy and Maggie stood at the top of the stairs looking down. Mrs. Hanley was glancing between the two officers. She reminded Laurel of a spectator at a tennis match. Laurel remained standing as she tried to absorb all the information.
“Thank you, ladies. I know you’re frightened, and we’re here to keep all of you safe.” Constable Trenton said while looking at Laurel. He was almost the same height as Constable Perkins but had red wavy hair and brown eyes.
“No, I need to thank you for your quick response. Mr. Klein’s very dangerous and so are his family members. We’re grateful for your help. I wish I had better words, but I don’t,” Laurel replied edging her way toward the kitchen.
An hour later, the kitchen island looked like a flour and cinnamon bomb had exploded all over it. Baking helped to distract Laurel from the immediate crisis. She finished closing the oven door, after placing a tray in the oven, when Captain Jenkins walked through the door.
“Cinnamon buns are my favourite,” he confided, leaning up against the counter beside her.
“Mine too. It’s comfort food, and we can all do with a bit of that this evening,” Laurel added.
“True. How are you doing?”
Laurel laughed, and the end of it trailed off into a sigh. “Well, the shock has worn off and I guess I am not surprised. I thought we had a few days’ grace before all hell broke loose.”
“I was certain we did, but now we have to act fast. As soon as you unlock the doors of the clinic tomorrow, an undercover security guard will enter and pretend to check in with you at the reception desk. He will then move into the waiting room. I will call you once every 30 minutes and check-in. The same code words apply. You’ll have security guards ‘checking in’ at different times throughout your workday. Once a replacement has arrived, call the waiting guard and usher him back into the clinic and out the staff entrance at the back. If the clinic is being watched, they won’t be able to establish a pattern.” Captain Jenkins explained.
“Thank you, I’m still going to feel like a sitting duck behind that desk!”
“What you’re feeling is normal. That card stripped away every bit of security you’ve worked so hard to establish here. That’s what your ex-husband and his family wanted.”
“Well, they succeeded. I’m gathering this was a family member and not my husband’s doing? The handwriting on the card was definitely his.” Laurel affirmed.
“Really? That’s good to know. The card is at the station. Our lab techs will get his handwriting scanned into our forensic computer system. They’ll run a search to see if it’s a match to unsolved cases.” Captain Jenkins replied.
“What if there is?”
“It depends, if he’s actually made a mistake that links him to an unsolved crime, we might have enough to arrest him. A Judge would determine the charges.”
A snort escaped Laurel, and she burst into laughter while turning beet red. “Knowing my ex, he’s eliminated everything that could even remotely implicate him.”
The timer rang, and Laurel turned to look at the oven. “Perfect timing!”
Half an hour later, the cool cinnamon buns stood dripping vanilla cream cheese icing. Laurel placed two of the large buns on a plate. She left the rest on the cooling rack for the others to find.
“Ok, so apart from undercover security in the clinic, what else do we need to change?” She enquired as she watched Captain Jenkins take a huge bite of his cinnamon bun. She giggled at the vanilla cream cheese moustache on his face.
He took the napkin she offered and wiped the sticky mess off his face. “How do you get to work?”
“I walk…it’s good exercise,” Laurel explained and then sighed. “That’s not safe is it?”
“No…I’m guessing that’s how they got this address. Someone followed you home after work one day.”
“I’ll pack my things and be ready to leave within an hour,” Laurel mumbled through the fingers covering her face.
“No, Laurel, this is a safe house. Mrs. Hanley’s trained and so are the RCMP officers. I know it’s a small town, but that plays to our benefit. Strangers stick out like sore thumbs around here. I will walk with you to and from work until we deem that too dangerous. At that point, I will drive you.”
“Please, call me Tyler, we’re going to be seeing a lot of each other for the next while, plus I’m calling you by your first name.”
“Ok, Tyler, you’re putting yourself in the crosshairs of this family’s vengeance. I don’t want anyone else to get hurt because of me.
“That is exactly where I want to be, Laurel. I’m used to evading people who want to kill me. It’s my job to make sure that you’re safe, and I promise to do whatever it takes to protect you,” Tyler declared while holding her gaze captive.
Laurel felt her cheeks burning. Her heart skipped a beat as she tried to control her breathing. Great, just what she needed! Why couldn’t he have been a bald, overweight, middle-aged man?
“I appreciate all your help, Tyler. I’m going to have to take each day as it comes. It’s the only way I know how to deal with this.”
“That’s very wise. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Tyler reassured her as he gathered his coat and keys. “I’ll be here at 7:30 a.m to walk you to work.”
“Goodnight, Tyler,” Laurel said as he walked toward the front door. She rinsed their dirty dishes and placed them in the dishwasher. She could hear the TV as she climbed the stairs to her room.
Sleep was evasive, and Laurel spent the next few hours staring at the ceiling. All she kept seeing was the writing on the card and Tyler’s green eyes.