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The morning sun did not bring a brighter day, nor did the problems of the trio seem any lighter. All that the morning sun brought with it was a clearer picture of the devastation that had entered their lives. As they stared at the smouldering pile of burned out debris, they had little concept of just how completely their lives had changed that morning.
Owen, Taryn and Rosina sat there on the bumper of the ambulance and stared blankly at what once been their home. Tarn and Rosina clutched Owen for dear life and rested their heads on his shoulders while Owen held them around the waist. The three were in a daze and to say they were shocked would be a monumental understatement. None of them noticed the older fireman approach them, covered in soot, sweat and dirt. Nor did they notice the black police officer walking beside him.
“Hello, Mrs, Thompson, I’m Fire Chief Solomon, and this is Officer Bronson.” The senior fireman said as he took off his helmet, ran his fingers through his short, sweat-soaked hair before he pointed at the black police officer beside him. “We’ve finally got the fire out but we’re still searching for hot spots,”
The two men were as opposite as they could be. Fire Chief Solomon was a short, older, slightly portly white man who was covered in dirt, soot, sweat and grime, as he had just spent the night fighting the fire. Officer Bronson was a tall man in his late twenties who looked clean, crisp and professional. He almost appeared to have just come on shift rather than what he had actually done: keeping the crowd of onlookers under control all night as the firemen battled the fire.
“Of course it’s out, you let it burn to the ground! There’s nothing left to burn!” Owen snapped as he glared at Fire Chief Solomon.
“We got here fast and this house was fully engulfed by the time we got here, there was nothing we could do. It’s a miracle the whole block didn’t go up, we were lucky to keep it contained to just your house. We’re going to conduct an investigation, but in my opinion, there must have been some accelerant used,” Fire Chief Solomon said with a certain and slightly sombre tone.
“Do you mean that somebody deliberately did this?” Taryn snapped as she stared at Fire Chief Solomon n disbelief.
“I can’t say for certain, that is what the investigation is for, but it looks that way to me,” Fire Chief Solomon said with confidence and a touch of compassion.
“Can you think of anyone who would like to hurt you or your family?” Officer Bronson asked as he looked at Taryn with a discerning look.
“Well, no . . . but my husband is a lawyer, so I suppose it might have something to do with a case he was working on, but I doubt it,” Taryn said, the shock and confusion still evident in her voice and manner.
“Where is Mr. Thompson?” Officer Bronson asked, still observing Taryn.
“He was tied up at work. He was supposed to meet us for a family outing last night, but he never showed,” Taryn replied, still frazzled.
“Where does Mr. Thompson work?” Officer Bronson asked calmly.
“Downtown at the law firm of Anderson, Basilone, Jersey, Schmidt, Thompson and Verbeek, he’s a senior partner in the firm,” Taryn said, trying to keep her composure.
“So you talked to him, and he told you that he was staying at work?” Officer Bronson asked expectantly.
“Well, no, but he is always staying late at work for one reason or another. It’s not unusual for him to miss family outings for work.” Officer Bronson asked with a discerning look.
“When was the last time you had any contact with him?” Officer Bronson asked curiously.
“Yesterday morning, when he left for work,” Taryn replied with a shrug.
“You’re sure he was at work and wasn’t at home at any time yesterday?” Officer Bronson asked with a pressing tone of voice. “I work at the Spa around the corner but he never comes home during the day, he’s a workaholic,” Taryn replied, a little flustered.
“Where is this going? What are you trying to say? We haven’t seen him since yesterday, what does that have to do with the fact that our house has burned down?” Owen snapped as he glared at Officer Bronson in defiant disbelief.
“Where is he now? It is usual for him to stay at work all night?” Officer Bronson asked with slight annoyance entering his voice.
“He never does. He always comes home. Sometimes quite late, but he always comes home,” Taryn replied with a stunned and shocked manner.
“I don’t know what this means but we have witnesses who say they saw Mr. Thompson came home in the late afternoon yesterday and nobody saw him leave,” Officer Bronson said with confidence.
“So he forgot something at home and came back for it,” Owen replied defiantly.
“How many cars does your family own?” Officer Bronson asked casually.
“Two, what difference does that make?” Owen scoffed.
“We found two cars in the garage,” Fire Chief Solomon said with sombre certainty.
“That’s impossible, the Cadillac was being serviced and we couldn’t get a loaner, that’s bursa escort why we took a cab to the restaurant!” Owen explained with a defiant tone of voice and an angry demeanour.
“Did you drop it off for service?” Officer Bronson asked, with a hint of a knowing tone to his voice.
“No, Rich . . .” Owen started to say but then fell silent and looked down in shock.
“Right now we don’t know anything for certain. All we do know is that the fire looks suspicious, Mr. Thompson was the last one seen at the house before the fire, and that he is missing.”
“Oh my God!” Taryn cried out in shock and embraced Owen harder.
“We’re going to investigate this fire and do our best to locate Mr. Thompson. The best thing for you to do right now is get some rest. Is there anywhere that you can stay?” Officer Bronson spoke with calming confidence, silently reassuring the Thompson family that he would get to the bottom of this mystery.
Taryn, Owen and Rosina stared blankly back at Officer Bronson, and tried to work their stunned minds to think of anyone who could take them in. Nobody would be up for this sort of inconvenience, and panic started to settle in as the trio realized they had nowhere to go.
A bustle and commotion could be heard not far off and getting closer. A woman could be heard shouting in shock as she looked upon the demolished house for the first time. When the crowd started to part to let the now frantic woman through, it was soon evident who it was: Karen.
In the four years that Taryn had been working at Karen’s Spa, Karen had not seemed to change one bit. She was still the tall, slender, Italian woman she had always been, her breasts were still large and unmistakable, no matter what she wore. She simply couldn’t hide them and never paid much attention to them in the first place. Her thick black hair still felt to her shoulder-blades and her face was a pretty as it always was, Karen seemed to have a timeless beauty about her. She was wearing jeans, a T-shirt and a light jacket that day as she rushed towards the Thompson’s that fateful morning.
“Oh my God! TARYN! Are you okay? What happened?” Karen shouted in shock as she rushed over to embrace Taryn tightly.
“We don’t know what happened. There was a fire and Richard is missing,” Taryn said as she tried hard not to break down and cry.
“WHAT! Oh my God!” Karen shouted in shock.
“Mam! Mam! Do you know these people?” Officer Bronson asked sternly and loudly enough to get Karen’s attention.
“Yes, she works for me,” Karen replied in a mildly flustered tone.
“They’ve been here all night, and they need some rest, can they stay with you?” Officer Bronson asked confidently.
“Oh Absolutely! C’mon, let’s get you out of the street,” Karen said as he helped Taryn to stand up.
After giving her contact details to Officer Bronson and assuring him that she would take care of them, Karen walked the family over to her spa. On the way they told Karen what little they knew of what had happened. Karen was in shock and had as hard a time believing that Richard had anything to do with the fire as anyone. When they arrived at the Spa, Taryn wanted to help Karen out, but she wouldn’t hear of it. Karen insisted that all three of them stay in the apartment downstairs to relax.
The Spa’s downstairs apartment was a modest and functional, but was not fancy by any stretch of the imagination. A door behind the front wall, yet off to one side of the building hides a single, straight set of stairs that leads down to the basement. When you exit the stairs you are facing the front wall of the spa. A small storage room is against the opposite wall that the stairs runs beside. Between the stairs and the storage room is a wall, which forms an open area between the two. The entrance to the apartment itself is a plain door in the middle of the wall. The door opens up into the living room area and just inside the door and off to one side is a small hall closet. In the living room are: a single hide-a-bed, a chair, a coffee table, two end tables and a small entertainment centre with a TV and DVD player. Two thirds of the width of the basement is taken up by the dining room and kitchen. A hallway runs beside these two rooms and turns after the kitchen, forming an L shape around the kitchen and dining rooms. The other side of the hallway is one bedroom, used for storage, and a bathroom, the far wall is divided evenly between two bedrooms. The kitchen is a galley kitchen, with one entrance near the bedrooms and the other leading into the dining room. The dining room has one other entrance, leading into the hallway.
Taryn, Owen and Rosina were cuddled up on the couch of the downstairs apartment, trying to grasp the concept that they were in fact homeless. Nobody said anything for a long time, simply taking comfort in each other’s arms. Rosina was the one to break the silence, posing the question that was on all of their minds.
“Do you really think Richard did it?” Rosina timidly asked no one in particular.
“It’s absurd! He loved that house, he grew up bursa escort bayan in that house and I could never get him to move. Why would he burn down his childhood home?” Taryn replied in frustrated puzzlement.
“I don’t know, but it all seems odd. I mean, where is Richard? Do you think he was called away on some urgent business trip?” Rosina replies, sounding scared and confused.
“Not without phoning, he would never leave town without phoning,” Taryn replied with a worried tone.
“We don’t know anything for sure! We don’t know how the fire started. We don’t know why the cars were there. We don’t know where Richard is. We can’t make any assumptions until we know more!” Owen said with an aggravated tone of voice.
“What about the credit cards and the phones . . . you know, last night, why wouldn’t they work? Do you think that has anything to do with this? It is odd that all the credit cards and our phones stop working on the night our house burns down?” Rosina replied, now more worried than ever.
“Well, that is one part of this mess that we can find out about. Give me the phone.” Owen said with certainty.
Rosina passed Owen the phone and he fished out his wallet and he pulled out his credit card and dialled the number on the back. To his horror he found out that he card didn’t work because it was cancelled by the main card holder: Richard. Pulling out his cell phone he dialled the service access number and talked to the phone company only to find out the same thing, that Richard had cancelled the cell service on all three phones yesterday and closed the account. What was more aggravating was that Owen could not get either reactivated because the accounts were closed, he would have to open a new cell phone account and apply for a new credit card. Taryn snatched the phone from Owen and proceeded to call the credit card companies for the cards she had. One by one she got the same answer: the card is no good because the account was closed, yesterday. With shaking hands and a fearful heart she dialled the bank and spoke with them to confirm her deepest fear, all of the bank accounts were closed and the money withdrawn. Every penny was gone from, the main checking account, the emergency account, and the retirement savings account. It was clear that Richard had deliberately cleaned them out, but no one in the room could fathom why.
“So, not only are we homeless but we’re destitute too! He took everything! He cut off all the cards, cancelled the phones and closed out all the bank accounts! That Jackass took everything!” Taryn fumed as she slammed down the phone after talking to the bank.
“If he wanted to leave, why didn’t he just say so? Why do all this?” Owen asked with a stunned and shocked expression.
“Because he’s a JACKASS, that’s why! I’m going to find out where Richard is and get some answers from him, right now!” Taryn said as she picked up the phone and dialled Richard’s extension at the law firm.
“Brad speaking, how can I help you?” Brad said as he answered the phone in his new office.
“I’m sorry, I must have dialled the wrong number, I was trying to reach Richard Thompson’s office,” Taryn said with a perplexed and apologetic tone of voice.
“This WAS, Richard Thompson’s office. He quit two days ago when his family moved to Montana,” Brad replied with an unsure tone of voice.
“MONTANA! THIS IS HIS WIFE! TARYN THOMPSON! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN HE MOVED TO MONTANA!” Taryn shrieked into the phone.
“Mrs. Thompson? It is you! Wha . . . um . . . I don’t know what to tell you, but he sold his share in the firm to me two days ago and told us he was moving to Montana,” Brad stammered into the phone
“WELL THIS IS NEWS TO ME! ALL I KNOW is my house BURNED DOWN last night, the bank account is DRY and my husband is MISSING! And now you tell me that he quit the firm and is moving to MONTANA!” Taryn angrily snapped, her voice dripping with anger and outrage.
“Let me put you through to someone who may know more about this than I do,” Brad said with a fearful tone in his voice and quickly transferred Taryn’s call to Tony.
“Tony here,” Tony said as he answered the phone in his office.
“Tony! It’s Taryn here, do you know anything about Richard moving to MONTANA? And did he REALLY sell his share in the firm? What the hell is going on?” Taryn said with a panicked tone of voice.
“You mean, you’re not moving to Montana?” Tony replied in disbelief.
“NO! He never mentioned a word about any of this. All I know is that he left for work yesterday, like any other day, and last night the house burned to the ground, none of the credit card are working, the phones are cut off, the bank account is dry and Richard is missing!” Taryn said with the outrage and stress tainting her voice.
“Oh my God! You can’t be serious?” Tony replied in disbelief.
“Oh believe me, Tony, I wish I was kidding,” Taryn replied, her voice still dripping with anger.
“But Richard wouldn’t do that to you and the kids! It’s not like him,” Tony replied, still stunned over the revelations escort bursa of the past few moments.
“Is there anything you can tell me? Did Richard really sell his partnership?” Taryn asked, a little calmer now, but not by much.
“A few weeks ago . . .” Tony started out explain but was cut off by Taryn
“A FEW WEEKS AGO!” Taryn shrieked.
“Let me finish!” Tony sternly said and paused momentarily to ensure Taryn wasn’t going to interrupt. “A few weeks ago Richard came to me and said he just wanted out, wanted to sell his stake in the firm, that he needed a change of pace he said, we finalized the deal two days ago,” Tony explained with a calmer tone of voice.
“Two days ago! He never said a word of this to ANY of us! He went through his usual routine like everything was fine, he even left the house yesterday morning, saying he was going to work! What the hell is going on? Where is Richard? What am I going to do now?” Taryn asked in a panic.
“Calm down, listen, where are you staying? Where can I get a hold of you?” Tony said in a firm tone of voice.
“Karen’s, we’re at Karen’s spa,” Taryn replied in a slightly calmer tone of voice.
“Good, stay put and don’t do anything. I’ll make a few calls and see what I can find out, it may take a few days but I assure you, I will get some answers.” Tony said confidently.
“Thanks Tony,” Taryn said with a relieved sigh as she hung up the phone.
The family tried to watch television to take their minds off of their troubles but none of them were really watching what was on the screen. The three of them zoned out for the remainder of the day and only snapped out of it when Karen and Veronica walked downstairs at the end of the workday. Veronica had stayed upstairs and helped her mother run the Spa after her college classes, in order to give the family some privacy.
“So, are you guys hungry?” Karen asked in a forced chipper tone of voice as she walked through the door. “Hmm what?” Taryn replied as she looked up at Karen.
“Dinner, are you guys ready for dinner yet? Have you eaten anything all day?” Karen asked as she paused to look at the trio on the couch.
The scene on the couch was disturbing to Karen but not enough for her to say anything about it. Owen was seated in the middle of the couch and Taryn and Rosina were sitting on either side of him. Each woman was snuggled up to him in a borderline intimate embrace, each woman was leaning right up against Owen and was resting her head on his upper chest. Each woman was cuddled up to Owen about as close as they could get without lying on top of him. Owen had his hand around each woman’s waist. No hands were anywhere private and while it seemed to be an intimate embrace, it was not overtly so. Karen thought it was an odd way for a family to sit together but then, the Thompson’s were always a “touchy-feely” family. Karen shook her head and wrote it off to the fact that they were simply more affectionate than she was comfortable with. “Dinner? I’ll give you a hand,” Taryn said, coming out of her funk as she started to get up from the couch.
“Don’t be silly, we can handle it! After all you’ve been through, you just relax,” Karen said as she glanced at Veronica who was standing just inside the apartment door, saying nothing.
Veronica was now twenty-two and in her last year of college, working towards her degree in Business Management. She was still a touch on the plump side, but her weight was evenly distributed around her body, giving her an hourglass figure and softer, rounder curves. Her breasts had grown slightly in the past four years and now were a DD cup, slightly larger than her mother’s D cup breasts. Her thick black hair still fell straight to her waist and she was as much of an Italian beauty as her mother and was very similar to her mother in appearance and manner but not quite as tall.
Veronica looked at the Thompson’s on the couch with longing in her brown eyes. Her eyes wandered over the three on the couch again and again, yet still she said nothing. Veronica, like Karen had noticed the intimate embrace that the three on the couch were in, yet she was not disturbed, but envious. Veronica longed to hold her mother like Owen was holding his right now. Veronica would settle for holding Taryn like Owen was holding her now. Her mind started to wonder if there was more to this “affectionate family” than met the eye. Could she somehow get her mother to accept that this type of intimate contact was acceptable between family members? Veronica was snapped out of her thoughts by her mother’s stern voice.
“You gonna help me with dinner or what?” Karen asked again in a slightly firmer tone of voice as she stared at Veronica with disbelief.
“Sure,” Veronica said pleasantly and walked towards her mother.
Veronica followed her mother into the kitchen and the two started to fix dinner for the five of them. Karen had told Veronica when she arrived at the Spa, earlier that day, what had happened and that Owen, Taryn and Rosina were staying with them for the time-being. Veronica wondered what her mother thought of the Thomson family’s embrace. How receptive would Karen be to her own daughter cuddling up to her in a similar fashion? Veronica decided to slyly broach the subject while they were making dinner.
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