Home > Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(14)

Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(14)
Author: R.L. Mathewson

“Miss. Soloman, come on now. You know this is bullshit. That little preppy bastard beats the shit out of his girlfriend over the weekend and we're paying for it.” He gestured to his friends and the two unfortunate bystanders who got pulled into the fight. They were decent kids too, very quiet so she was very surprised when she found out that they voluntarily got into the fight.

Madison leaned back in her chair. “Tell me what happened.”

Chris nodded. “See, it’s like this. That little shit Mike gets away with too much. He steals, he cheats on every test, his parents hire tutors who do his homework, all the teachers know, but they look the other way because of his old man and he’s on the football team.” She’d heard rumors before but no one was ever willing to confirm them.

“He also likes to slap girls around. I warned him in the past to watch it, but clearly he thought I was f**king kidding. I found out this morning the little shit beat the hell out of Carol. When I asked him about it he told me to f**k off and no one would believe me. Carol tries to hold him back and right in front of me while the teachers’ backs were turned he pushed her to the ground.”

“He’s not lying, Miss. Solomon,” Ed, a very shy boy, said. He hardly ever looked up from his book. That in itself let her know Chris wasn’t lying. Plus he never bothered lying to her in the past. He took his punishment like a man when he got caught. Not once since she’d taken this position had he complained over the circumstances of his punishment.

“I don’t understand why Mike isn’t here along with you,” she said.

They all scoffed in disbelief. “Look at us,” Chris gestured to their worn out clothes. “They’re not going to listen to us over that preppy prick. He and his friends come from money. They don’t care what we say and they lied about Carol. They said Mike was protecting her from me if you can believe that shit.” She didn’t. Chris would never hit a woman. Everyone knew that.

She nibbled on her lower lip and looked at her classroom door to make sure that it was closed. “Okay, guys, everyone move to the back. Talk quietly and you can play those video games I know you have hidden in your bags. If that door opens pretend you’re doing something constructive.”

Chris winked at her. “Heart of gold, Miss. Soloman.” They quickly went to the back of the room leaving her to her search.

She scrolled down the webpage she found on the Adlard family. Surprisingly there was a lot of information on the family. The family was old and noble. It could be traced to the Roman invasion, but thankfully she didn’t need to go that far.

After two months of avoiding each other she got tired of waiting for answers. So this morning she dug the note she kept out of her purse and decided to see what she could find.

It was his fault. Every time she waited to talk to him or left notes he ignored her. He walked right past her with only a polite hello. If that was the way he wanted to act so be it. She could find her own answers. She didn’t need him.

She limited her search to the nineteenth century. Ephraim probably used a fake name on that note. He probably forgot what surname he was currently using. She would find out.

“Aha!” She found his name.

“Is someone coming?” Ed jumped.

“No, it’s fine,” she said without looking up. He probably stole the name. That was it. She read about his supposed father first, a Duke. Yeah right. According to this webpage his first wife was attacked by a mad man when she was pregnant with one Ephraim William Howard Adlard.

She read on. The Duke remarried a woman who was rumored to beat Ephraim and call him “the thing”. Odd. His second wife gave him five more children, three girls and two boys. According to family history she pushed the Duke to disown Ephraim to line her own son in third place for the title. The Duke initially refused.

Hmmm, interesting. Ephraim suffered from a weird medical condition that left him looking like a little boy until the age of sixteen. At sixteen he went into a coma. The website at this point touched on some rumors.

One story stated that he woke up from his coma changed into a man. He didn’t resemble his brothers or father. He attacked a maid and was dragged off by Magistrate Nichols. She wrote down that name. His second brother inherited the title and brought his brother home twenty years later. He still looked young, but died a few years later.

The second story was simple. They had him dying in the coma. Nothing helpful there. The third story continued from the first, but had him die at the hands of Nichols. The author believed the first story because of compelling evidence below.

“Oh, a picture.” She clicked the thumbnail. A large portrait popped on the screen. It was of a man and woman and eight children. That wasn’t helpful. She was about to close the page when she saw the "next" button. She clicked it and gasped loudly.

She didn’t need to read the description to know who the young man was standing next to a much older man, woman and five kids. It was Ephraim. His hair style and clothes were different, but that was him. According to the caption he was posing with his brother, sister-in-law and their children. Ephraim was reported to have died two months after the portrait was finished.

Shaking her head in disbelief she typed in Magistrate Nichols. What she read there turned her stomach. The man was sick. He was compared to Jack the Ripper several times. He lived to torture and kill and loved the fact that the government encouraged him. He went missing in 1835. Years later a secret entrance was discovered leading to his famous dudgeons where skeletons were found in small cells. In a room that could only be described as a torture chamber they found a dozen skeletons. One of those bodies they believed was Nichols’ body based on a pendant found among the bones.

It dawned on her. Ephraim lived in the dudgeon. He lived in one of the tiny cells she looked at now. He survived years of torture and somehow came out whole. She couldn’t believe it. It broke her heart to think of the things he lived through.

“Are you okay?” a voice whispered.

She jumped, startled and looked up into kind green eyes. Chris was leaning over her desk watching her. She cleared her throat. “Yes, I’m fine, Chris. Why?”

He picked up the box of tissues on the desk and handed them to her. “You’re crying.”

“Oh!” She wiped her face quickly. “Just a sad story on the web.”

Chris nodded slowly. He didn’t believe her, but he wasn’t going to push. “Stick with puppies and rainbows then, Miss. Soloman. I don’t like seeing you unhappy.” He walked back to his friends.

A loud knock at the door sent the kids scrambling for their text books, except for Chris that is. He leaned back in his chair with his hands folded behind his head.

“Yes?”

Principal Mason stepped inside. “I’m sorry to do this, but it seems that we have a bit of a problem.”

She stood up cautiously. “Problem?”

“Yes, seems Carol’s parents came home today from their vacation. They saw her face and demanded to know what happened. So they called me and the police. We need to settle this now.” He addressed everyone in the room.

Madison watched Chris’s jaw clench. She knew what he was thinking. He was about to get the finger pointed at him. “It’s okay everyone,” she spoke to the class, but looked at him. He nodded firmly.

“The six of you I want on this side of the room and behave yourself,” Mason said.

Carol walked in huddled by her parents. They brought her to the other side of the classroom. Mike, his parents, a man Madison had no doubt was a lawyer judging by his expensive three piece suit, and several of the boys Chris liked to call “preppy” walked in.

“Please have a seat,” Mason said.

The lawyer gestured for his clients to go to the end of the room. “I’m sorry this should be cleared up soon.” Mason glanced at Chris.

This could not get any worse. Correction, it could. Ephraim strolled into the room looking very much like a man not to cross seconds later.

*********

Ephraim walked into the room. He walked past Madison, taking a deep breath as he passed her. He missed her. It surprised him, but he did. He never missed anyone. He’d outlived his family and every friend he ever made and never once thought of them once they were gone, except for Marc. He missed his brother when he allowed himself any emotion.

It was the way things were supposed to be. He understood it and accepted it. Everyone’s time would come, except his. Hers would come, too. He would have to deal with that one day. His chest tightened every time he thought about that. This woman was killing him.

He sat behind her desk and leaned back looking relaxed. His eyes slowly ran over everyone in the room. He knew a few of the boys to his left. They were good kids, troublemakers but good. The last two on that side he would guess were bookworms. His eyes met Chris’s for a mere second before moving on.

The football players in the back had his attention, but he wouldn’t show it. With less than a half hour after his call they lawyered up. He did a quick search before he left his office and found several domestic violence calls that went nowhere. There was talk about the boy. His eyes passed over the computer screen on her desk quickly before fixing on the young lady who looked like she went nine rounds with Tyson.

His jaw clenched as he looked back at Madison’s computer. It seemed he wasn’t the only one that did his research today. Without taking his eyes off the group he clicked the back button to see what else she’d discovered.

What he found didn’t make him happy. It only added to his temper. She knew. He knew it had been a mistake to write his full name on that note. He clicked again and sat up straight.

“Hey, can we get this over with I have practice,” Mike, one of his suspects, said.

“Shut it,” Ephraim said. He forced himself to relax as he got up. He strolled over to Madison, giving his back to the room.

“You’ve been busy,” he said softly.

She swallowed loudly. “Yes, you wouldn’t answer my questions.”

“Print the pictures for me would you?” he asked softly.

“Are you going to answer my questions?”

He groaned.

“Hey, I have practice!” his main suspect complained.

Ephraim looked over his shoulder in time to see Mike being pulled back down by his father. The little shit thought he was going to walk out on him, did he? Interesting. “Get out of that seat again and I’m hauling you in for questioning.”

“Don’t move,” his father whispered harshly. “And shut your mouth.”

Ephraim looked back at Madison. “Well?”

“What do you mean, well?”

“Will you do it?”

“What’s in it for me?”

His eyes dropped to her lips. “Whatever you want.”

“Tonight, we talk for two hours and you answer my questions.”

His eyebrows arched. “Two hours?” He could do a great deal in two hours preferably with her beneath him. Shit. He had to stop thinking about her.

She nodded. “Two hours, and I’ll have those pictures blown up for you.”

“Okay,” he said slowly.

“Hey, should we have a lawyer too?” a boy asked.

Ephraim turned around. It was Chris. A funny laid back kid who found his way under arrest every now and then for petty shit. Mostly for beating his mother’s boyfriends after they laid a hand on him or for defending himself on the street. Three years ago the kid caught his attention and he’d made it a special point to keep an eye on him.

“No, right now no one is under arrest. I have a few questions to ask. Since your parents aren’t here I’ve asked Mr. Mason and Miss. Soloman to stand in to make sure that your rights are not trampled. Is that choice fine with you?”

Chris shot a look at Madison. The boy trusted her. Good. He was smart. “If I feel I need to question you further after this then we will make sure your parents are involved. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” Chris said. He was the clear leader of his group. The other boys looked at him expectantly.

“This is bullshit,” Mike said. “I’ll miss practice.”

“Yes, you’ve said as much,” Ephraim said dryly. He looked over at the young girl. She refused to go to the hospital until after this was settled, but she wouldn’t name anyone. That was interesting too.

“I’m going to ask you again before I talk to these boys. Who hit you?” He’d rather ask her in private again, but her parents demanded they do it this way. They expected their daughter to be strong and do the right thing. They obviously didn’t understand real fear.

She shook her head.

“That’s what I thought.”

Mike shot to his feet. “See, this is a waste of time. I’m going to practice.” He ripped his arm away from his father’s grip and stalked down the aisle towards Ephraim.

The boy was six feet tall, large and obviously an ass**le. Ephraim was used to dealing with ass**les. With his jaw set tightly he walked forward. Mike paused, unsure what to do. He probably wasn’t used to people staying in his war path.

Ephraim stalked forward, pointing towards the boy’s parents. “I am not going to tell you again to sit your ass down.” Mike crossed his arms over his chest in an act of defiance. “Now!” Ephraim snapped. Mike jumped and scrambled back to his seat. “Don’t move again.”

Principal Mason stood next to the football players. He was clearly showing who he was supporting. Not smart. Ephraim found Madison leaning against the wall next to Chris and his friends. She was whispering something to him. Chris looked tensed for a fight, but nodded. He heard what she was saying and she knew he that did.

   
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