The Runaway – Chapters 21 Thru 25

Chapter 21: Investigation

December 11th, 2015

After speaking with the friends and family, 37-year-old Anthony Rutz made his way out to continue the investigation. He was heading to an apartment building where a man by the name of Scott Gardner had reported that he heard discussions and such after hearing that there was a man hunt going on by the police for a pair of missing individuals.

Anthony immediately smiled as he glanced around, realizing the apartment was 13 minutes from the airport – probably Demi’s apartment was here.

He headed up to the fifth floor of the building, walking down the short hallway before stopping and knocking on the eighth apartment. Anthony watches as a younger gentleman than himself opens the door.

“May I help you?” The man asks as Anthony gives him a glance over.

“I am Officer Anthony Rutz,” he starts. “You phoned in about a possible disturbance in the apartment building earlier this morning?” The man shakes his head yes.

“Around seven or eight this morning, I was in the stairwell glancing out the window watching the airplanes as I normally do, and I heard a pair of people arguing a couple floors above me in the hallway. I couldn’t make out everything that they were saying. However, at one point, I thought I heard a male demand to know where someone was – something like Ace?” Anthony glances down the hall at the stairs, wondering whether it’d be the right move to go up a couple flights and look around.

“Does Chas-”

“That’s the name!” Anthony knew that he had to go look upstairs now.

“About how many floors up?” The man glances towards the stairwell, before glancing back at the officer.

“2 or 3, but no more than that.” Anthony made a note to check the seventh and eighth floor for evidence.

“Did you notice anything else out of the ordinary?” The man shakes his head no. Anthony closes his notebook and hands the man a card. “Thank you for your time, Scott. If you happen to remember anything else, please do not hesitate to call the number. It’s important that we get as much information as possible and find this man as soon as we can.”

Anthony then walks off, heading up the stairs. He walks the full seventh floor, noticing nothing out of the ordinary. He then goes to the eighth floor, beginning to walk the length of the hallway. He then stops at the elevator, noticing a sign on the elevator.

“Out of Order,” he read as he rips the sign off. “That’s strange because I just rode the elevator up.” He then makes a note to check if there was any maintenance done throughout the morning, or whether that was part of the potential kidnapping.

He then continues to walk the length of the hallway, glancing around. Besides a broom being out of the broom closet, it seemed that everything was in order.

“Are you an officer?” He hears and turns around to face a young lady.

“Officer Anthony Rutz,” he states as he walks up to the woman as she stands in her apartment doorway.

“Are you investigating the disappearan-”

“Is your name Demi?” Based on her question and the fact that this seemed to be the floor, it made sense that this would be the girl. She shakes her head yes.

“Did you kidnap Mr. Elliott?” She shakes her head no.

“I lik-loved him. I would never purposely hurt him, sir. But, I know what happened…” He then crosses his arms, as if anticipating an explanation. “I was heading out this morning and Randy knocked me out with a drug, sticking me in the broom closet. He then kidnapped him from my apartment.”

“You will need to come with me then to the station and give a full statement as to what happened. You should’ve come to the station as soon as you came to. Start walking.”

He then follows her to the stairwell and down the stairs, reporting in that he had found the involved female. They walk out of the apartment and to the police cruiser, where he opens the door and she gets inside. He then closes the door as he hears his phone ring. He then pulls it out of his pocket.

“Officer Anthony Rutz?” He says.

“I remember something else…” He hears, recognizing Scott’s voice immediately. “A man snuck a big envelope underneath an apartment door. He then made a phone call, telling the man that it was from him and thanks for giving him the information that he needed. It may not be related but…”

Anthony glances at Demi and thinks things over. Someone getting paid for getting information on the same day of a kidnapping did seem suspicious indeed. Randy was known as a crime ring member. Someone in the ring tips him off that Demi has led Chase back to the hotel and boom, kidnapping takes place.

“Thank you for the information,” he tells the young man. “It may, or may not have affect on the case. Regardless, though, that’s not something that you see everyday so it’s good to have it on file. Thank you once again, sir. Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

 

Chapter 22: Investigation Con’t

December 11th, 2015

Glancing back over his notes and remembering what that neighbor shared – Scott Gardner – the detective glances into the room. A million thoughts were going through the mind of Anthony Rutz.

He had found the man who had received the envelope, and was now debating whether it was fair to question him about the case. What if this envelope was just nothing but owed money? What if it was some other illegal activity? In some ways, he believed that he was corning this poor man for no reason.

Though, some sort of hunch held him back as he knew he had to check everything. It had been three hours since Chase Elliott had gone missing and they had yet to find any traces yet. With that in mind, Anthony knew he had to do whatever was necessary to find information – even if checking something that potentially had no connection.

Anthony walks into the room, catching the attention of the man that lived in the apartment on the fifth floor.

After talking with Scott, he was pointed to the apartment where he opened and found this gentleman. He also found remains of the envelope that were sitting on the counter. The contents – discarded.

“Bryan Monzo is your name, right?” Anthony questions, catching the gentleman’s attention. He confidently shakes his head yes as he watches him sit down.

“May I ask why I am being detained here?” Bryan asks as Anthony opens up his notebook, keeping his eyes on the 38-year-old before him.

“I just have a couple of questions for you, if you don’t mind. We’re currently investigating a situation where a 20-year-old was kidnapped from the apartment complex that you were staying in, and part of that investigation deals with questioning everybody incase they know something.” He noticed the man’s blue eyes twitch a little, obviously recognizing the story at hand – or perhaps the eyes twitched due to a connection. “Did you hear anything this morning that was out of the question?”

“No sir. I work nights so I sleep during the day.” Anthony shakes his head, understanding. That would explain why a phone call would’ve been made to wake up Bryan so he could pick up the envelope.

“I’m going to tell you a scenario and you’re going to listen closely. I suggest that you hear every detail that I tell you because how you answer the question at the end of the story could very well determine how the rest of your day goes, understand?” Bryan shakes his head yes, knowing that the man was obviously going to speak of the envelope. He knew he should’ve thrown it out upon collecting the money. Thankfully, he had deposited that money in his bank account within a half hour of receiving it. “A man entered the apartment and went to the fifth floor. He then slipped an envelope underneath your door, before phoning you. In that phone call, he told you thank you for the information. Am I correct so far?” Bryan shakes his head yes, thinking of how many ways he could play off what was in the envelope and the information at hand. He was a professional crime ring member. He should know how to get out of these situations.

“That is correct. That’s what happened this morning.” Anthony smiled. At least the guy was playing friendly so far.

“See, what I’m thinking is the following. The man who did the kidnapping – Randy Roberts – he is part of a crime ring organization. I’m thinking that you’re also part of that organization, as well. Is that true?” Bryan felt the eyes of Anthony staring him down and knew that he couldn’t do anything. There was no story that was coming to his mind fast enough.

“You’re correct, sir.” Anthony looks at him, surprised. He hadn’t expected Bryan to easily open up like he was. He was also glad that he followed the lead, even as weird as it seemed in the beginning.

“And let me guess – you called Randy after you saw Chase enter the apartment building.” Bryan shakes his head yes, simply. He didn’t want to reveal any more details. If he revealed details surrounding their meetings and how he came to know that Randy was looking for the information, someone in the ring would have him dead in minutes. As of right now, he was worried, hoping that Randy didn’t find out he told the police. Besides, why would Randy worry about what he said, anyway? It’s not he told the officer anything that he didn’t know. “So right now, you’re an accessory to kidnapping. You’re also an accessory to the drugging of a female named Demi Elaine. There’s also a possibility that you could be an accessory to attempted murder or murder, or anything of that nature, depending on how things turn out for Mr. Elliott. Now, those are serious charges. That could result in a long time in prison. You’d think that you’d want to help me out to avoid those charges, huh?” Bryan let out a sigh. As the man before him discussed his fate, he wished he had more information. However, besides the pair of phone calls with Randy, that’s all he knew about Randy’s future.

“I have no clue where Randy took him, sir. Randy didn’t say any details. As soon as I saw them, I called and said that I saw him. He thanked me for my co-operation, and promised me payment of $10,000. I told my apartment for drop-off and then, as you said, that happened in the morning. I had no further contact with him.” Anthony shakes his head. So much for finding information that could help him find Chase. Now everything was on the shoulders of Demi for information.

“That $10,000 seems like nothing now, considering you could be in jail for at least 15 to 20 years, probably more, huh? Shoud’ve thought about that before you made the phone call.” Anthony then closes his notebook, keeping his eyes locked on Bryan’s blue eyes. “I’m officially arresting and charging you for accessory in kidnapping and accessory in drugging. You just better hope that Mr. Elliott is fine because your charges could easily increase. Anything that happens to him is on your shoulders. Before I leave, are there anymore details that you want to tell me about your connections?” Bryan shakes his head no, knowing that if he said more, it wouldn’t be time in jail – but dead.

“That’s all I know. I’m sorry.”

“Your apology is honestly worth nothing considering what happened. Thank you for your honesty and time.” Anthony then leaves the room, telling the officer outside that they can escort Bryan to a cell for his charges.

He then walks down the short hall, stopping at the next room. He glances in the room, seeing the female sitting there. He could only hope that she could tell more information than Bryan had to share.

Entering the room, he takes a seat across from Demi and locks his eyes on hers, set for another round of questioning.

“I’m willing to tell you whatever you need to know,” she tells him. “I’ll be completely honest the whole time. I love him and don’t want him to get hurt.” Anthony couldn’t take that comment to heart, considering the fact that Demi hadn’t come to the police station herself once she came to. If not for Regan’s tip, he probably never would’ve known about her. If not for the neighbor who simply wanted to help because he heard the news story, he wouldn’t had been at the apartment or found her.

“Start taking,” he instructs, wanting to get as much information as he could, as quickly as possible.

 

Chapter 23: Demi’s Story

“I met Chase last week when he ended up at my bar, looking for something to drin-” Demi starts the story, sticking to her word about sharing every detail with the investigator.

“You met in a bar and you headed away together to Blue Mountain,” Anthony Rutz cuts her off, not needing to hear those details. He had already heard about how they met from Regan. He needed crucial information now. “Why?” Demi knew that Chase had talked to a friend about things, but didn’t realize how many details he had shared.

“I was looking to spend time away – I always take a week in the winter. He was looking to get away after what happened last year, so I offered him a spot on the trip. It was supposed to be a fun trip for a pair of friends.” Anthony could only feel his heart cringe at that thought. So much for a fun trip now, huh?

“So you went on a trip to have fun. Enter the Randy picture, please. I need information and quickly. You told me you’d speak so get talking.” Demi takes a deep breath, knowing that sympathy votes were not going to come from this investigator.

“I’m a crime ring member, and every other month, a meeting is hosted. You are to go to these meetings to either collect money for completing your deed or collect your new deed. Your district manager tells you where the meeting is a couple weeks in advance.” Anthony knew he had to collect information about these meetings and this manager whne she was done, considering she promised to tell him everything. “I went to the meeting, set to pick up my latest deed. I picked it up and out of the ordinary, they said that we needed to stay to hear about something. That’s when Randy spoke before the room.” It seemed odd to Anthony that someone searching for Chase would end up all the way in Canada. However, it made sense, since Chase had gone away without telling anybody of where he was going, as per the parent explanation. “He explained his situation and how he was looking for Chas-”

“So you handed over the information that night?” She shakes her head no, remembering the mix of feelings that went through her mind.

“Absolutely not. I love him. If you love someone, do you hand them over?” Anthony knew that things were going to get more interesting based on his hunches. “I left immediately when it was over, just wanting to get away from there. I then returned to the cabin at Blue Mountain, not stating anything to Chase about the meeting. He just thought I went and saw a cousin with relationship problems. When Chase and I talked in the morning, he revealed that he had been called and told that Randy had escaped prison. He then said that he was going to stay with me and such, but I suggested that he should head hom-”

“You didn’t want any trace connected to him because you knew where Randy was?” Anthony would understand that as it’d break the trust and love that Chase had for her, considering they supposedly loved each other a lot.

“No! I wanted to protect him. I figured if he went home to his family and friends, he’d be surrounded by a ton of people that’d protect him and keep him safe. Besides, wouldn’t the search by heaviest in the places that he should be?” Her theory somewhat made sense, which was strange in Anthony’s mind. “He didn’t want to accept it, so I revealed the details. He, surprisingly, took it well. He questioned my commitment, but I assured him that I didn’t say anything.” Anthony could only wander what was going through Chase’s mind that morning, and what is going through it now. “I then suggested that I was going to help him get home. I then put a plan in action to get home to the airport and on a je-”

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard about that virtue of his friends.” Anthony flips to a new page in his notebook. “So you head home and end up at the apartment, arriving late in the middle of the night. Continue.” Demi takes a deep breath, thinking back through the events that happened.

“I didn’t want him recognized at the airport or anywhere actually because I didn’t want Randy to find out his location. I simply suggested that he should wear a disguise.” Anthony thinks it over – it sounded like a solid plan. “In the morning, I woke up before he did and wrote a note that I was going to a costume store and I’d be back.” Anthony had to question her leaving. If she was supposed to be protecting him and such, why leave him alone and vulnerable? “I then left the room, saw the elevator was out of order – it normally is at least twice a week so it didn’t seem odd.” Anthony remembered the note, though remembered how it was actually working. It was part of Randy’s set-up. “I then went toward the stairwell and Randy grabbed me. He asked me about Chase and I denied it – though, scared for my life since he was set to kill me, I revealed that he was in the apartment and what apartment. He then stuck a needle in me and knocked me out. I woke up later in a broom closet. I went to my apartment, saw some things out of place and Chase was gone.” Anthony shakes his head, understanding the pieces. While Demi was a possible suspect originally, it seemed that she was actually trying to be caring in her behavior with Chase. However, he had some questions.

“Why didn’t you scream or draw attention to the man holding you?” Demi remembers what was going through her mind at the time.

“He had weapons. If I scream, he kills me and I’m dead. I knew I couldn’t do that. I was going to try something else, but just never materialized.” Anthony shakes his head, understanding.

“I’m going to ask you one final question and I suggest you answer me truthfully because if you do lie right now, the truth will eventually come out and I will charge you for hindering my investigation. Did you, at any time, help in the kidnapping of Chase Elliott?” Demi glances down at the table, not believing the set of events herself. She then looks up and slowly shakes her head yes. “Start talking.”

“Randy ended up at the hotel room because a man recogni-”Anthony shakes his head in disbelief. She knew more that she was letting on. There was a reason why she went out in the morning.

“Bryan Monzo. He’s been arrested as an accessory to the crime. Keep talking.”

“My district manager called me. He said a man that lived in the apartment, Bryan as you say, recognized me walking in with Chase Elliott. I told him that wasn’t the case as I had no idea who he was talking about. I played dumb. He then told me that Bryan had a photo that he had taken with his phone and sent along. He added that either way, Randy was going to do what he wanted. I could either be dead, or play dumb. I was scared and easily accepted to playing dumb. I went out to leave Chase by himself. I was going to leave the apartment and call 9-1-1 so they could come save him with Randy there. I never knew that Randy would be standing where he was.” Anthony shakes his head in surprise, and disgust. It seemed that the criminals got more disgusting as he went.

“We’ll never know whether you intended to actually call 9-1-1, now will we? In truth, if you were so intent on helping him, you would’ve been in my office hours ago when you came to giving me this information. But, you weren’t.” He then closes his notebook, grabbing some paper and a pencil from behind him. He then slides it to her. “You told me that you were going to e truthful about everything. I want you to tell me everything about the crime ring. Every crime that you’ve committed, every contact that you have, every meeting that you’ve attended and where the next ones are slated to be. depending on your information, I may drop the charges against you.”

“Okay.” Demi then starts writing as Anthony stands up an walks towards the door. He then stops as he reaches it.

“Actually, I thought about that. everything is going to depend on how Mr. Elliott is. If things turn out for the worse, expect the charges on your head to be heavy – accessory to kidnapping and murder. However, if he turns out to be okay, I may leave the decision up to him to decide what to do with you. I’m sure he’ll enjoy hearing about being backstabbed.” Athony then leaves the room and heads down the hall.

It certainly had been a pair of informative sessions with information as to how Chase had landed in Randy’s arms. However, there was only one question that remained – where was Chase?

 

Chapter 24: Chase

The million dollar question that you’ve all been asking is finally answered in this chapter haha

“Where am I?” Chase asks as he opens his eyes and glances around the room.

Gray walls and no windows met with a small space could only mean that this was a place for keeping people hidden.

“Ah man…” He lets out as he feels a bit of pain up through his back.

Closing his eyes, everything flashes back through a blur – hearing Randy’s voice in the apartment, the argument back and forth, the push back into the drawer and the needle drawn into his arm knocking him out. He had no idea what it was, and could only wonder how long he had been out for.

Being knocked out was a peaceful feeling, much better than feeling locked up in this small space and the bit of pain that he felt. It was almost too much of a peaceful feeling as he wanted to return that space.

But, he couldn’t. He had to stay awake and alert, and figure out where he was, what was going to happen and how to avoid things happening.

Glancing around the room again, he notices that he isn’t tied down or anything. He then slowly stands up, still taking in the surroundings, thankful for the small light that shined in the center. He makes his way to the door, feeling the large lock that obviously kept him inside. There was no way of breaking that without anything at his disposal. If he wanted to get out of there, he was going to have to sneak out when it was unlocked.

Perhaps he could knock out Randy when Randy came to see him. He had done that before so what was stopping him from doing it again? Truthfully, he was set on hitting the man harder this time so he would truly, finally disappear.

He then hears something, glancing up as he notices a small slot in the top half of the door open. He looks up, glancing into a pair of green eyes that he had unfortunately gotten to know well over the past year.

“Nice to see you’re awake, finally,” he hears and immediately scuffs it off.

“I could’ve been sooner if you hadn’t drugged me,” Chase replies, not willing to stand down. Considering the big door that stood between the pair, things were fine. He actually wanted the door to open so he could take that shot he desperately wanted. Perhaps he could poke that guy’s out through the opening.

“Sorry – I had to do it to get you here.” Chase then glances around the room again, before returning his eyes to Randy. It seemed odd to be there.

“Okay, so you’ve got me locked in a small room. So what’s the big plan?” He then hears a laughter, once again wishing that’d disappear as well.

“Why should I tell you?” That was a fair answer, however it still didn’t help.

“Entertain me. Intrigue me. It’s not like I can get out of here, right?” The haunting smile returns to the face outside of the door as the eyes light up with intrigue. Chase had said what he needed to say to interest him.

“The journey isn’t over. This is just an over-night stop. We’re going to go see a nice cabin of mine way up north. I would’ve taken you tonight, but it seems too many eyes are looking.” Chase knew that meant the search and rescue was heavy, and that didn’t surprise him. He just hoped that heavy search resulted in safety for him. He was intrigued, though, by the cabin mention.

“So why take me to a cabin?” Once again, that smile matched his question and that didn’t give much promise.

“You thought I’d just kidnap you and kill you, right? Well, kid, that’s not what’s going to happen here. You’ve put a big ruffle in my plans and screwed up a lot of things back in Daytona. You also made me go to a place that nobody deserves to go to. So I’m giving you a fair share of payback. You’ve made my life a living hell, so I’m turning the tables. I’m going to keep you secluded and away from everyone, let your family and friends worry, and slowly put you through a version of what I’ve gone through. It seems fitting.” Chase could only shiver at the possibilities, and knew that meant that he had to be on his game the minute that he found any way to escape. Taking a deep breath, he couldn’t let the fear, or memories cloud his thoughts. No, he had to fight and take a stand this time around.

“You’re not going to get away with it. I can promise you that.”

“You’d be surprised, Chase. I know what I’m doing. Nobody knows you’re here so that’s a start, right? I know people around the world and I know how to get what I want when I want it.” Chase just shook his head. This guy played off the perfect cocky criminal, but as with every cocky criminal, they all had their downfalls and would make a mistake somewhere. Chase just had to make sure to be ready for that mistake and pounce on it.

“Don’t get used to that idea too much. You may know people, but they’ll start turning on you once they realize what a psychotic asshole you are.” He watches Randy get caught off-guard by the comment, obviously surprising him with the signs of bravery. No doubt Randy was probably expecting a scared little boy that he could control.

“Keep telling yourself if it makes you sleep easier.” He watches Randy turn around, tossing a small pillow and blanket through the slot. “Get comfy tonight. You’re going to need your rest, Chase. Oh…and here…” He then watches a couple of granola bars and bottles of water fall through the slot.

“You better get your rest as well.”

“Oh, and here’s something for tomorrow. I don’t want you getting cold on our journey across the ice.” A sweater falls through the trap door, along with a winter coat, before the door is closed.

Chase then grabs the blanket and pillow, making himself a comfy spot in the corner, before sitting down.

He glances over the sweater and coat, recognizing them both immediately. It seemed as though Randy had grabbed some things before leaving.

He then looks over at the granola bars and bottles of water, snatching them closer to himself. Carefully checking all seals, he makes sure that they weren’t tampered with. He knew he needed his energy for whatever Randy had in mind, and figured since it wasn’t tampered with that it’d be a good idea to eat it.

Now to figure out every way possible to get away from Randy tomorrow, while keeping an eye open during his sleep to watch for possibilities.

Letting out a sigh, he could only hope that someone spotted Randy on his way to wherever they were, and wherever they were going.

 

Chapter 25: Morning

December 12, 2015

“Why haven’t you just killed the kid?” Chase hears a man speak, not recognizing the voice. He slowly sits up, having been resting but not totally sleeping due to not wanting to be caught off-guard. He figured the man was whoever owned this house that they were in.

“That’d be too easy,” he hears Randy reply. “It wouldn’t be fair.” Chase rolls his eyes.

“I still don’t get why you’re doing this…” He could hear the pair walking, presumably down a set of stairs to where he was. However, he heard a pair of feet immediately stop.

“The kid made my life a living hell. It’s time that he pays.” He hears the other person stop walking, probably caught off guard by their own conversation.

“Let me get this straight – you were called in by Princess Mariela to help her dispose of some people and things went wrong because of this kid?” Chase shakes his head in disbelief. Things only went wrong because of how Mariela dealt with things in the trailer.

“The kid got in her way and she got killed by the cops while strangling the kid. As a result, I got no payment for dealing with the bullshit that surrounded that kid, Dale and some guy named Steve.” Chase snickers as he remembered the confrontation that Steve had with Randy, as Steve told him. It seemed Steve didn’t take lightly to what happened.

“So she screwed up and got herself killed. That shit happens – some people can’t do what we do. When it comes to those situations, you just let them go and move forward to the next job. You don’t waste your life over this.”

“I can’t let it go. I can’t move forward because of all the shit that I went through. I should’ve got done with it easy that night at the hotel, but the little shit can actually hit.” Chase snickers at that thought, as well. He certainly did land a good punch that night.

“So what are you going to do? Take him away and hide him?”

“Slowly torture him so he understands things. Then, comes verse two with the next piece of puzzle.” Chase shivers at the thought and knows what that means. If Randy gets away with this, he was going to continue with either Dale or Marie next. Taking a deep breath, Chase knew that he had to figure out a way to end things here.

“I still say that you’re doing the wrong thin-”

“Will you shut up and let me take him out of your hair if you’re so upset?” Chase was intrigued by the argument. Perhaps Randy could piss the guy off enough that he’d see the light and help make things right. Perhaps his prediction of everything turning on Randy would come true. He then glances up as the small trap door opens, revealing the pair of green eyes. “Ah, nice to see you’re awake this morning. Are you ready for our journey?”

“Who says I’m going with you?” Chase questions in response, knowing that he had to stick by his word and stand his ground. If he stood his ground and found the opportunity, maybe he could end this sooner than later.

“Who says you’re not going with me? Remember – I can handle you one way or the other, Elliott. It just depends how easy you’re going to make things on me. You can either take the hard way or the easy way.” Chase took a deep breath. It’d be easy to give in and accept the fate. However, that wouldn’t get him anywhere.

“Like I said, who says I’m going with you?” Chase watches the big door open and immediately bolts forward, pushing Randy flat on the ground.

“Get him!” The guy that had accompanied Randy immediately blocks the path firmly.

“You’re not going anywhere, Chase,” he says as Chase looks the guy in the eye.

“You said it yourself that he was wrong doing this so let me go!” Chase lets out, moving forward as fast as he can and pushing against the guy. Though as he’s just about to get by the guy, a hand grips his foot and pulls it back, sending him face first down on the wooden stairs. “Fuck!” He feels a pain immediately take over his whole body, from his shoulders to down both his legs. No doubt both knees were probably bruised, and his wrists were sore from breaking his fall.

“Good try Elliott,” Randy comments in his ear before grabbing him with both hands. He then feels the familiar prick of the needle go in his side as the feeling of unconscious that he learned the day prior goes over him.

So much for escaping….

Back by the airport, Cindy and Bill returned to the police station after spending the night at a local hotel. Neither wanted to leave the police station, however finally agreed after persuasion from Dale, and a promise from the detective that he’d phone them no matter the hour if they found out any information.

“We haven’t found anything that I can tell you, honestly,” Detective Anthony Rutz tells them as he enters the familiar room that Bill and Cindy sat in all day yesterday. “We have people across the country looking for any sign of him. We are also going through all the information that we received from Mr. Bryan Monzo and Ms. Demi Elaine told us, and checking every reference there. They gave us possibilities of where he could be, or possibly working with. We are checking those, as we speak. The border patrol is also on high alert to make sure that he doesn’t try to leave the country. The security at the airport has been increased to double check every flight and passenger, as well. I can assure that we’re doing everything that we can.

“Then where’s my son?” Cindy questions, tears rolling down her face and frustration brewing.

“Ma’am, I wish I could tell you better information, honestly. We’re doing everything that we can.” Anthony then leaves room as Cindy lets the tears roll down her cheeks, glancing over at Bill.

“Where is he, Bill?” Billy shakes his head, not knowing, as he pulls her close.

“I don’t know Cindy, I don’t know. But they’re going to find him and he’s going to come home to us. Don’t give up hope. He’s strong and he’ll get through this.”

“He doesn’t deserve this!” He rubs her back, trying to calm her down.

“You’re right, but he’ll get through it. They’re going to find him.”

While Bill and Cindy spent their time sitting in the familiar room, Dale and Regan were outside, wanting a bit of fresh air as they were left to their own thoughts.

“It’s been 24 hours…” Regan comments as he glances at his phone, answering a text message from Ryan asking for an update. “How can they have no idea where he is?” Dale shrugs his shoulders.

“Randy is good at hide and seek, I guess,” Dale says as he leans back against the wall.

“I can take care of Bill and Cindy if you want to head hom-” Dale then looks over at Regan.

“I’m not leaving without Chase. I’m bringing him home, whether back to Georgia with Cindy and Bill, or back with us.” Regan takes a deep breath, understanding.

“I was just suggesting with Marie being pregnant and you probably wanting to be with her and Alyssa.” Dale knew Regan was probably right that he should be home with Marie, given that she was due to have their second child in the spring. However, he couldn’t bring himself to leave.

“My mom and Kelley are helping take care of her and Alyssa. Everything is fine as I talked to her this morning. If anything goes wrong, Kelley said that she’d text me and then I’ll fly back. Otherwise, I’m staying here.” Dale then looks over at Regan. “Whether directly or not, this is my fault. He was brought into this mess because of me and Marie. He doesn’t deserve any of this, Regan. It wasn’t ever about him – it was about me dating Marie without her father’s permission. That’s why Mariela thought of the plan and hired that looney.” Regan shakes his head, understanding, remembering those events back in February. It was partially why he couldn’t bring himself to leave, either. He should’ve been in Chase’s shoes back in February, but wasn’t due to being sick.

“I should’ve told you, Bill and Cindy when he told me that he was at Blue Mountain. You guys could’ve come up here and convinced him to come home before anything happ-”

“Do you think he would’ve listened?” Regan then looks over at Dale. “He wouldn’t have listened as he would’ve wanted to stay and finish out his vacation.” Dale then walks over to Regan. “The more I think about it, the more you did the right thing.” Regan then looks on confused.

“How so?”

“You could’ve told us and spilled the secret. However, what would Chase had told you if he found out? He would’ve been mad and lost all trust in you. He trusts you more than he trusts anyone else, even me. He told you everything. If you break that trust, that’d be the worst thing possible. He needs someone that he can turn to and that person is you, just like I have Stevie. In my eyes, you did the right thing in keeping that a secret so that way he knows that no matter what, you will keep his secrets and he can trust you with anything.” Regan shakes his head, understanding. That was exactly what went through his mind that evening on the phone.

“I just hope that things work out. If things don’t, it’ll be on my shoul-”

“Don’t you even dare say anything like that! Things are going to work out. They’re going to find him and he’s going to be fine. We’re going to get him back, Regan.”

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