Conspiracy of Deception: Chapter 13 – Lady In the Storm

Nick was not going to drive away quickly this time. He had to make sure the driver was going to follow him and not stick around Jane’s. He’d rather put himself in danger instead of Jane and the kids. However, the brown Buick did not turn around to follow him, but the driver just drove by Nick’s car. Nick turned his car back around and drove back toward the Buick.
The Buick then pulled back onto the road and sped away. This was an odd turn of events. Nick quickly turned his car back around. He hit the gas pedal a little harder than he intended, and the tires squealed. He hoped he didn’t wake up the kids or frighten Jane, but he was determined to follow the Buick. Nick followed him for several minutes. This time it seemed like the driver of the Buick was trying to get away from Nick. Nick could kick himself for forgetting his cell phone at Jane’s, as he just realized. He was glad at least that whoever was driving the Buick didn’t seem to want to engage in conflict. When he was a distance from Jane’s, Nick pulled over at a gas station to make a few phone calls.
It was an old fashion place on the out skirts of town. Being a brown house-shaped building, Nick could tell that it was well kept by the owners. It was family owned, which gave it a welcoming presence that drew in many locals. It wasn’t unusual for Nick and Lisal to stop by on the way to Jane’s to pick up a can of pop and a sandwich. Herald and his wife Fran were consistently friendly. He hoped he could sneak in and out quickly without a long-winded conversation.
He was relieved to see a line of customers, so he quickly made his way to the phone. First, he called Jane to make sure she locked the doors and to give her a heads up. She was being unusually nice the last few days. It almost made Nick feel a little awkward. Jane assured him that everything was secure, and that she kept a large knife at her bedside if there were any problems. Nick felt a little better, but he knew if someone wanted to get in, they would break through the locks. His pursuer didn’t seem like too much of a threat, but in this situation, the more precautions taken, the better.
Nick called the police station and explained the situation. He gave the description of the Buick but was unable to give a license plate number. In fact, as he thought about it, when he was following the Buick, there appeared to be no license plate on the back. Officer Daniel took the report and promised he would keep a patrol car out in that area. Nick believed that the kids would be safer with Jane, because he felt he was the target.
It was obvious that whoever was in the Buick was somehow connected to Lisal’s disappearance. Nick almost regretted not following the car until the man stopped, so he could confront him. Then again, following the car could have put him in greater danger, and informing the police may have been the wiser choice.
As Nick turned to head out the door, he heard someone call out from behind him. “Hey Nick!” Nick recognized Herald’s voice and started to come up with ideas to avoid a long-winded conversation without appearing rude.
“Hi,” Nick replied, “Busy tonight?”
“Oh, it comes and goes. I’m sorry to hear about Lisal.” Herald said sadly. His downcast eyes appeared awkward with his wrinkles, which formed in accordance with his continual smile. He was just above eighty, but his appearance didn’t show his age. Still with a full head of gray hair and in good physical condition, he didn’t appear much over sixty.
Nick wasn’t surprised Herald already heard word of Lisal’s disappearance. Most of the town folk knew Herald and would often talk gossip with him. “Yeah, I hope they find her.”
“I’m sure she will be all right.” Herald reassured. A very optimistic man he was, always trying to bring a light hearted spirit to his customers.
I hope so, I’ve got to head out though.” Nick was surprised at how quick the conversation ended. Herald must have been getting a little sleepy, or it had been just a really long day, and he lost some of his zeal.
It was getting late, and he went home. Another thunderstorm was coming, and he would want to keep indoors. As he got in, he sat back in his recliner and pulled a family photo off the table that sat next to him. It was a picture that was taken a year ago. He looked at Lisal with her long dark hair and dark brown eyes. She never looked so beautiful to him. They had their hard times in the beginning, but she turned into the wife that he loved and adored. He could not ask for someone better.
Her love for him was strong. His heart ached for her, and he made a silent promise that he would start being the husband that she deserved, if that was possible. He knew that he wasn’t always the best husband in the world. It was not her that made him feel this way; it was his own lack of self-confidence. However, he believed she was too good for him. Tears started to water his eyes at the thought of never seeing her again.
Lightning flashed, and the lights went out. Nick was jolted from his daydreaming by the sound of crashing thunder. The air felt like it went from seventy to fifty degrees. Within a minute, Nick could see his breath, as he knew there was no way the temperature could drop that fast. The lightning flashed again, and Nick caught a glimpse of a female standing beside the living room window. Nick jumped out of his seat, unsure whether to hide, find a weapon, or just plain shout. He did not get a good look at whom it could be, but he was certain he saw something.
Another flash of lightning revealed the figure was no longer in front of the window. The lights flickered on and off again. This time Nick had a clear view of the woman in the house. With blood trickling down the left side of the face, stood Lisal! Nick’s heart caught in his throat. She’s alive! Yet she was injured.  He called out her name, but she didn’t answer. He hoped she was all right. He had never seen her so pale with matted hair. She appeared to be a ghost.
As he moved toward her, the lights flickered back on. He looked all around the room. No sign of Lisal.