Eddie’s car drew up to the front of Adam’s house. It was a decent looking place – not too big, and not too small.
Charley got out, followed by Mrs Morse, Mr Morse, and finally Eddie. Eddie hadn't even shut her car door before Mrs Morse was trying to get into Adam’s house.
‘Open up!’ she screamed.
‘Be quiet,’ Charley warned, waving a hand. Mrs Morse was silenced. Charley took a step back, then jumped forward and kicked Adam’s door, just below where the lock was. The door sprang open.
‘How did you know…?’
Charley straightened up. ‘Adam once told me that the lock to his door was pretty weak. Burglars have kicked their way in three times before.’
Eddie nodded. ‘You first.’
They entered, one after the other. The first room was the living room. It was spacious but comfortable. The fireplace dominated the space. It was huge and grand. A pile of logs was visible behind the fireguard, which had obviously been polished recently. It gleamed.
Mr Morse gazed at the ornately decorated armchair, sitting before the fire. Next to that was a table, where there rested a book – ‘In Cold Blood’, first edition. A painting of two people, about his age, hung above the fireplace.
‘Adam’s parents,’ Charley said before Mr Morse could ask.
‘Well, they’re not in the living room,’ Eddie said. ‘I’ll check upstairs.’ She left the room.
Charley got Mr and Mrs Morse to sit down, and then paced around the carpet, thinking.
‘Adam doesn’t have many friends. He knows and gets on well with some people, but not enough to persuade them to harbour a hostage.’
‘So what does that mean?’ Mrs Morse asked.
‘It means that Adam should be hiding with a really close friend. My resources tell me that his closest friends were Joe and Sophie, both dead.’
Mr Morse shrugged. ‘Doesn’t mean he’s not still using their houses.’
Charley looked up. ‘It’s a good place to start looking anyway. We might be wrong, Adam could break into any place he wanted, but I know him well. He likes things that are comforting and familiar.’
‘OK. So where do we check next?’ Mrs Morse exclaimed.
Charley hesitated. ‘I couldn’t be sure if he’d be hiding at Sophie’s house or Joe’s house. He hated them both after what they did. But I still feel that sometimes he misses Sophie. If I were Adam, would I choose to return to Sophie’s place, or to avoid it? I have no idea how he still feels about the whole thing… he doesn’t regret killing her, but… Oh, I don’t understand people sometimes.’
Mr and Mrs Morse just looked at each other in puzzlement.
‘Why don’t we check both houses?’
‘Good idea,’ said Eddie as she clumped down the stairs. ‘Nothing upstairs. I almost fell into a trap though.’
‘Oh really? What kind of trap?’
‘He had a trapdoor installed. Luckily I grabbed onto the attic pulley thing and managed not to fall in.’
Mrs Morse gave her a strange look. ‘Attic pulley thing?’
‘Oh, you know… that thing on a cord that you pull, and then the ladder comes down… Well, anyway, time to get going, I suppose.’
‘I hope Valorie’s OK,’ Mrs Morse said for the seventh time that day, as her husband guided her to the front door.
Once Valorie had finished screaming, she looked up at Adam, who was holding a slightly bloodied knife.
She dared look down at her left shoulder, where it was hurting. To her relief, the knife hadn’t gone in at all. It had left quite a serious graze, but nothing more than that. It was bleeding.
Adam stared down at her. His flame red hair was all over his face and he was breathing hard. He looked very upset.
‘I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, Valorie,’ he said, reaching for a roll of toilet paper. ‘I was confused. I thought you were somebody else for a moment there.’
Valorie looked at the wound again. It wasn’t serious at all. Underneath the skin of her shoulder, a new, pinker skin was there. She moved her arm, and pain spiked down her arm. The graze must have been worse than she’d thought.
Adam threw some toilet paper at her, and she used it to dab away the blood. She hissed as she aggravated a particularly tender area.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Adam said, crouching before her. ‘I lost my temper. I didn’t mean to hurt you… I get so angry sometimes, and it… I don’t want to kill Sophie again.’
‘I’m NOT Sophie,’ she snarled back at him. ‘You tried to stab me.’
‘I know. I’m sorry,’ Adam pleaded, taking Valorie’s hand. Not in a forgiving mood, Valorie shoved him away with her good arm.
‘I’m sorry,’ Adam tried one more time. Valorie ignored him. ‘Do you want to go back in and finish your pasta?’
‘No, thank you. I hate pasta.’
Adam winced, but said nothing. ‘Well, do you want a plaster? Or there’s some antiseptic cream in the drawer by the sink…’
‘I think,’ Valorie said, ‘that I can manage an itsy bitsy graze, thank you very much. Just leave me alone.’
She picked herself off the bathroom floor and strode over to the sofa. She sat down. Her face stung where Adam had slapped her. She was covered in bruises.
Adam was still standing in the bathroom, forlornly gazing at the sink. Valorie watched him run the hot tap and wash his face. Then he straightened out his hair and returned to the living room.
‘Keep away from me,’ Valorie said, scooching to the very end of the sofa. ‘Don’t come any closer. Just stay the hell away from me.’
Curiously, Adam did. Not that he didn’t stop staring at her – he never seemed to stop – but he didn’t go near her and he didn’t talk. The rest of the evening passed in complete silence.
Valorie discovered that the graze on her shoulder was becoming quite painful. Every time her arm moved, she felt more pain. In the end she cradled her arm around herself, keeping it as still as possible for fear of tearing the skin further.
And that was how she went to sleep.