Home > Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(5)

Tall, Dark & Lonely (Pyte/Sentinel #1)(5)
Author: R.L. Mathewson

“Good.” She turned to look at Madison. “I almost forgot, if you give your mother any money I will throw you out. You’re not doing her any favors by letting her take advantage of you and you’re not helping yourself. You’ve done enough and you don’t owe her anything. Am I understood?”

Madison could only stare and nod. “Good. Well, let’s get you to your rooms.”

Chapter 2

She ran her fingers over the quilt that covered her queen size bed and looked around her new room. It was very large, beautiful, spacious and all hers. It overlooked a large backyard. Their old trailer overlooked a tire factory and smelled horribly. This room overlooked an apple orchard and swimming pool. This was like the Ritz for her. Even sharing an adjoining bathroom with a strange man didn’t dampen her good mood.

Grandma swore the man was nice, clean and hardly ever home. He was only home to shower, which Grandma admitted he did two or three times a day. The man was a shower addict as she liked to put it. He was also a detective for the state police and was assigned locally.

For the past two years the detective rented his room and her room, but had lived here for three. He couldn’t tolerate sharing the bathroom with anyone and hated having anyone close by. He needed peace and quiet. The three people that rented the room before he took over it were anything but quiet. As soon as the last one moved out he informed Grandma that he was paying for it so that it would remain empty.

A week ago Grandma asked the man for a favor. She needed the room for her granddaughter. The man knew about the situation and was sympathetic. After promising that Madison was a quiet, respectful woman he agreed. He seemed to think that any woman who raised her siblings and put herself through college deserved a chance. His only stipulation, everyone leave him alone. He was a loner.

Grandma said he was nice and helped her out, but didn’t talk to anyone and didn’t join the rest of the house for meals. Grandma liked the detective. He helped take care of troublesome renters in the past and as a thank you Grandma made sure that everyone left the detective alone.

It was more than fine with Madison. Their rooms were on the back addition of the house above the large storage room her Grandmother used to store everything from her old motorcycles to extra tables. They were well away from the rest of the rooms which meant peace and quiet. They also had their own entrance off their short hallway that connected their rooms to the main house. Her grandmother was really going out of her way for her.

There was a room near her mother that was open, but Grandma was trying to give her some freedom and a much needed break. The kids were forbidden to come to this section of the house out of respect for the detective. That’s what Grandma said. In truth, it was probably for her as well. She understood that Madison came here not out of desperation, but out of love for her brother and sister. One which she hoped that she could save.

She walked back to her laptop computer and scrolled down. “Finally,” she mumbled.

Last week she discovered that her mother memorized her account number and password. She transferred two hundred of Madison’s hard earned dollars to her own account. She had a feeling Jill helped her, seeing how both of them came home later that night in matching outfits. If her grandmother hadn’t stepped in she would have pressed charges.

This was probably why her grandmother made the statement about her money in the living room. Madison asked her grandmother without giving too many details to open an account for her at the local bank. She did and thankfully set up online access for the account. Grandma thought of everything. Now she just had to make sure that Jill and Candy didn’t get their hands on her new debit card or account information.

It was still midmorning by the time she was done bringing her things up. She liked having her own entrance. She didn’t have to haul her meager possessions through the house and up the stairs and down the hall like everyone else.

She took another look around her room. Not surprising that it was dusty since no one had used this room in two years. Their small hallway could use a bit of a cleanup as well, she decided. Both areas smelled dusty. Her neighbor as she liked to think of him asked Grandma not to allow anyone in this part of the house. Her Grandmother readily agreed. She felt a man should have his privacy. Well, a police detective should at least. Madison had a feeling that Grandma didn’t feel the same way about her other renters. There were five in total counting her neighbor, two women and three men.

“Damn it.” She forgot to find out her neighbor’s name. She had no plans of bothering him. He wanted to be left alone and she wanted to feel alone. She sighed on the next breath. “Oh well.” She got over things easily. It was the only way to tolerate Candy and raise two children.

“Now let’s see, she said the vacuum cleaner was in the closet.” She opened her closet and nodded. Sure enough it was there. “And the cleaning supplies are in the bathroom.” It still felt weird that she was sharing a bathroom with a strange man, but beggars couldn’t be choosy. It was a new experience, she told herself.

She opened the bathroom door and gagged. It was a new experience all right. The bathroom looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned in years, two probably. She pulled the top of her shirt over her mouth so that she could breathe while she made her way to the window above the toilet. She yanked it open, desperate for fresh air.

With that done she slowly turned around and took in the horror. This was a massacre on hygiene. The room smelled of mold, mildew, body odor, dirty clothes, public toilet and dozens of stale cardboard air car fresheners. The combined odor was vomit inducing. She looked around the room. Hanging off every available surface was an air freshener. Some looked pale and old while others looked bright green. That explained the car smell.

In the corner a large pile of damp mold covered towels took up residence. The pile came up to her hips. This would not do at all. She kicked the pile and gagged when the top of the pile dumped over onto the ground, leaving a rotten pile of black slimy fabric. This was the perfect setting for a horror movie.

She moved her attention to the toilet and quickly away. The rings in the toilet were a dark red tint, strange. The toilet was covered with grime and smelled bad. The sink was covered in hard soap scum, dirt, and upon closer inspection she discovered beard trimmings were trapped against the counter in some weird street grunge mosaic. Old rusty razors covered the counter with other discarded trash. Madison looked down at the trash can and laughed. The small trash can was brand new. Well, it had a small layer of dust, but other than that it was the cleanest thing in the bathroom.

She dreaded turning around and seeing the tub. She already knew the floor needed scrubbing, desperately. The tub as she dreaded was an equal match for the sink. There was no trash here. Instead there were several high piles of discarded soap bits. It was scary. She would have nightmares for years after this experience.

Her grandmother said the cleaning supplies were under the sink. She swore up and down that she stocked the small cabinet right after the last renter moved out. Madison had a sneaking suspicion about what she was going to find. Sure enough the cabinet was filled from top to bottom with brand new cleaning supplies. She had to laugh. This really would be a new experience. Not one she was willing to repeat.

Donning the one size fits all rubber gloves she got started. She threw the dirty towels into trash bags. It took four large trash bags to get rid of them all. She had a feeling that her mysterious neighbor used his towels until they were beyond use and then threw them onto the pile. That theory was confirmed by the towel hanging by the shower. It was wearing away in some places and smelled bad. She threw that one away as well, might as well do a thorough job, she decided.

She spent the next four hours scrubbing, scraping, gagging, pleading, and polishing. By the time she was done it was passable even by her strict standards. Every surface shined and the room smelled of fresh lemon. She unloaded her things and left the room. She had too much to do to stand around and admire her work. She could only hope that her neighbor wouldn’t take the cleaning job as a challenge. She didn’t want to do this every week.


“You look silly, Madison!” Joshua giggled as he ran past her, bouncing the basketball she bought him for his last birthday.

Madison feigned a horrified look. She looked down at her oversized sweatshirt, which covered four other layers. It was freezing. Dear god the outside thermometer read seventy, seventy! Where she lived cold was eighty. This was hell backwards.

She wiped her grease covered hands on her baggy jeans that covered leggings and adjusted her baseball cap and pony tail. “What?”

He giggled some more. She did a little model walk, swinging her h*ps in exaggeration and pursing her lips. “I think I look fabulous darling,” she purred. Joshua cracked up even louder.

“You have oil on your face!” He laughed.

She waved it off. “The oil simply adds texture and illusion, darling,” she said in a snooty voice. Joshua giggled some more as he returned to his bouncing.

Madison returned to the task at hand, making her engine run for another day. Tomorrow she would trade it in and buy a new car since she no longer had to worry about supporting the kids. She wasn’t going nuts. She would spend less than half her nest egg in case something happened, but she really needed a reliable vehicle for work.

“Madison!” Jill screeched.

“Looks like her royal highness didn’t get her way again,” Joshua muttered. For a ten year old he was rather perceptive.

“Why do you say that?” she asked as she fought to loosen a bolt. The damn thing was rusted on tightly. It wouldn’t budge even with WD-40. It had to come off.

“That’s the way she acts now that Candy is around. She’s a total pain.” He bounced the ball. “I don’t understand why she wants to be like her. She’s gross!”

Madison agreed, but didn’t say anything. Her mother dressed and acted like a hooker. She was half worried that she looked that way for a reason. Now Jill was taking after Candy. Speaking of Jill…

“I want to go home right now!” Jill demanded near Madison.

“Lower your voice I can hear you fine.” She continued focusing on that damn bolt.

“That woman told me I can’t wear make-up. I have to earn it, she said,” Jill said mockingly.

“That woman as you like to refer to her is our grandmother so you will call her ‘Grandma’ or ‘ma’am’ if I hear you disrespect her again you’re grounded,” Madison warned. She was usually easy to get along with, but Jill’s spoiled attitude was doing a real number on her nerves.

“Fine! Grandma said that I can’t wear makeup or tight clothes!” she said in a whiny voice.


“Good. That was ending today anyway. You’re starting school tomorrow and you weren’t going like that.” To make her point Madison looked her sister over. Dear god the girl was wearing a plastic mini skirt with a fluffy tight top that showed off her small br**sts and she was shivering. She used to be so reasonable.

“You just don’t want me to embarrass you,” she snapped.

Madison laughed. “First off, we look nothing alike. Secondly, we have different last names and you will call me Miss. Soloman like everyone else. Thirdly you’re not going around looking like a slut for the rest of your life. Have some self-respect.”
“Madison, what’s a slut?” Joshua’s young voice chimed in. She forgot he was there. She winced as Jill gave her a superior look.

“Yes, Madison, what’s a slut?” Jill asked. She was going to kill her. That was it. No one would blame her.

“Ah….that is….er…” She was vaguely aware of a car engine shutting down close by. All her focus was on Joshua’s question and how to answer it in such a way that he didn’t use it to tease Jill in front of people like he was known to do.

“Come on, Madison, you’re a teacher, so tell me what a slut is.” Joshua demanded in a louder voice. That was the normal progression of events when he would ask an embarrassing or difficult question. The longer she took the higher his voice became.

“I believe, young man, that name is given to a woman who gives her affections too freely to men,” a deep voice said.

“Oh my,” Jill gasped in a sultry voice, a little too sensually for Madison’s sanity. That could not be a good sign.

“Who are you and why do you have a gun?” Joshua demanded.

“What?” Madison startled by the question jumped back, catching her wrist on something. “Ow!” Damn it, she cut herself. Thankfully the area was clean, well was before. Now it was covered in blood.


The scene that met him when he walked up the long driveway was amusing. A little boy ran around a piece of shit car, bouncing his ball and asking someone named Madison about sluts. He had to stop himself from chuckling. This Madison person was in a tight spot.

The next thing that caught his eye was a little girl dressed like a whore that reminded him of the light skirts that used to work the docks when he was a child. She wore too much make-up, too little clothing and had an air of experience around her. She wasn’t aware of him yet.

The last thing and the most important thing that hit him was the smell of a pure blood, virgin blood. He knew it wasn’t the little boy. Men, even little boys, never gave off that scent. That particular scent was saved for women. It was enticing and mouthwatering.

It had to be this little girl. She couldn’t be more than fifteen, maybe fourteen. He eyed the girl. Nope, this little girl was not a virgin. He wasn’t surprised. Things changed dramatically over the past century. According to the media it wasn’t popular or normal for teens to remain chaste until marriage or even adulthood.

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