Part 3: Love You Less
Without a word, Olivia got up and walked to her bedroom. Bella thought she could see tears running down Olivia’s face, but she didn’t dare ask. She went into her own bedroom and began to think. The two had been through a lot together, but this was- by far- the most unexpected turn so far. How had Olivia hidden this all these years? Were there signs she had missed? As she considered all this, Bella suddenly felt the walls pulse and vibrate. Olivia was playing her music so loud Bella could feel it in her chest. Bella barged into Olivia's room to try and find out what was going on.
With each step, the bass grew stronger. It felt like the walls might fall down any minute. She knocked twice and waited. No answer. Bella knocked again, this time a little louder. No answer. “Hey!” Bella yelled as she opened the door, “What is goin---” Bella couldn't finish her sentence. She noticed Olivia had tears streaming down her cheeks and had a small notebook open in front of her. Olivia was writing in her journal. Though Bella desperately wanted to know the contents, she knew Olivia’s journal was personal. There were enough issues already; she wasn’t about to break Olivia’s trust more.
“What's wrong?” asked Bella.
Olivia slammed her journal shut and hid it under her bed. “I can't tell you!” she cried.
“You can tell me anything. You know that.”
“Apparently not,” Olivia replied shortly.
“But we are still friends, aren't we?” asked Bella. This person, though not her lover, meant more to her than the world.
“Yes, but-” Olivia started.
“You know I'll always be here for you.” interrupted Bella, “as your friend.” She added. “Come here.” Bella wanted to comfort her friend without giving her the wrong impression. She let Olivia into her arms and allowed her to sob. At first, it was a quiet whimper, but once Olivia trusted her again it grew into a strong sob. Bella started to tear up as well, knowing she hurt someone so close to her. The two stayed in each other’s arms for what felt like hours. When they were finished crying, they turned to face each other.
“I hope everything works out between you and Logan.” Olivia managed through her sniffles. She sounded hurt, but sincere.
“Thank you, that means a lot. I hope someday someone finds you as remarkable as I do.” smiled Bella as she wiped away Olivia's tears.
Bella acted as if nothing had happened between her and Olivia the next day. Her feelings towards Olivia were complicated. Whatever they meant, she did not want to focus on them now. She knew she had strong feelings for Logan, and Bella had no intention of ruining her chances with him.
On her lunch break, Bella picked up her phone and called Logan to see if he would be available for another date. She suppressed an excited breath when Logan answered the phone.
“Hello?” Logan answered
“Hey, it’s me.” She could barely contain herself. “Would you like to go on a little adventure with me next week?”
“Where to?” Logan asked without hesitation.
“The lake. I hear you can kayak; wanna come along?”
“I would love to.” Logan’s voice was warm and genuine. Once they hung up, she kept thinking about that voice as she made the reservation. Soon she would get to hear it in person.
Two Days Later...
Bella considered the best way to approach the problem at hand. She decided to sit down on the dock beside the kayak seat and put her feet in the boat. She turned her body facing forward and gripped onto the dock so she wouldn't fall. Next, she slowly slid her body to sit on the seat of the kayak.
Logan smiled and gave a slow approving clap. “Nice job.” He said only half teasing. Then it was his turn. He was bigger than Bella, so she assumed it would be a little harder for him to balance. To her surprise, his confidence made it look a lot smoother. Smoother to Bella, at least. They grabbed their paddles and began on their way to the middle of the lake. When they reached the middle of the lake, Bella grabbed onto Logan’s waist and squeezed him tight. He rubbed her arm and held her hand for a short moment. Then, Logan pulled his camera out of its bag. He supported the lens of the camera with his right hand, adjusting it while his left hand held onto the body of the camera. When the camera was steady and his vision clear Logan looked through the lens.
“We have to go and we have to go now.” Logan’s voice was edged with panic.
“What? what is it? What’s wrong?” Bella’s voice was filled with worry as the serenity of their moment was broken. Bella turned, but she couldn’t see what had caused Logan so much distress. “Please, tell me what's wrong. Is it a gator?”
“I’ll explain when we get back to the dock. I need you to try not to panic. I need you to be strong.” He said, regaining some of his composure. “Will you show me that you are strong?” asked Logan.
“Yes! Yes, yes of course, I will do that. But why?” pleaded Bella. She was getting very concerned; it wasn’t like Logan to act so worriedly.
“Hold on a sec,” he replied, deflecting Bella’s questions.
When Logan and Bella finally paddled back to the dock, Bella witnessed something gruesome: the shape of a woman was floating int he water nearby, surrounded in deep red. The poor victim was completely naked, her long, wavy brunette being her only covering. It didn’t have much to cover since everything from the waist down was missing. The expression on the dead woman’s face was one of shock. The woman’s mouth and eyes were wide open and Bella felt like she was staring right into her soul.
“No! No!” Panicked Bella. She knew she has broken Logan's promise, but she never expected him to be talking about something so terrifying. Her knees became weak and gave out from under her. Logan caught her as she cried out, holding her to both steady her and comfort her.
Logan’s voice was dry and barely hid his own fear from Bella. “Whoever did this has a lot of hate inside them.” He held Bella close as she buried her face against him to hide from the awful site of only half a body.
“We have to go.” He said gently after a moment. “I’ll call the authorities.”
Logan made sure that Bella was safe before he took the time to call the authorities. He drove to a nearby diner and parked the car in front of the front window. He went in to get Bella some coffee, making sure the whole restaurant could see her from where she sat.
“I’m going to stand out here and phone the police.” He told her in a soft soothing voice. “I’ll be right here. You can see me from the car. I won’t leave your site. The people inside can see you, too. You are safe. Nothing will happen to you.”
Bella nodded, sipping slowly at the coffee for its comforting warmth and watched Logan walk back to his car to phone the police. She couldn’t hear him from inside the car. Frankly, she was glad. She didn’t want to be a part of the conversation. “What a wonderful man,” Bella thought to herself. She was grateful to be dating somebody who took care of trouble instead of causing it. Had it been her last boyfriend, she would not have felt so safe.
Logan’s hands shook as he looked up the number for the police station. He had found his own comfort in comforting Bella, being strong for her, but now his own lifeline was far and the fear was creeping back. Logan was broken from his drifting thoughts when someone on the other end of the line picked up.
“This is the Blue mound police department, is this an emergency?” the curt voice asked.
Logan mulled for a moment. “No. I am calling to report a crime. A murder. But nobody is in any current danger.”
“Please hold,” There is a series of soft clicks on the phone.
“This is Detective Scott. Homicide. You wish to report a murder?”
“Yes. My… my friend and I were kayaking in Patriots lake and on our return to the dock we found a body.” Logan paused to recover, “Its pretty mangled.”He managed.
“A body. Mhm.” Detective Kevin's voice was almost upsettingly calm to Logan. “Are you and your friend still at the scene?”
“No, but we are close by. We moved up the road a ways. At the Lakeside Diner.” Logan explained.
“I know the place. Some officers and I will meet you there if you wouldn’t mind. You can lead us to where you saw the body, and we can as some questions.” There was no question in the detective's voice. He expected them there.
“Of course. Also...” Logan then added quickly before the detective could hang up. “I saw someone: a man in blue, fleeing the scene.”
“Could you describe him?”
“I could try,” Logan said without confidence. “I saw him through the viewfinder on my camera. I didn’t get a great view, but maybe my camera caught something!”
“We will bring a sketch artist along then. Stay put. We will be there shortly.” The detective hung up without waiting for a reply.
Author: Jessica Bensen
Editor: Mark Smith
Editor: Elizabeth Tyler