Jared sat up in bed.
“Dead?” he asked.
Artur is the head of Jared’s very modest security team and a big burly no-nonsense guy. He wouldn’t joke about a thing like this. Not at this hour. Not in this way. Jared breathed in deep.
“Yes. Dead.” Artur said again.
Jared exhaled. “Holy shit.” He climbed out of bed and crossed over to stand by the one window in his room. He put both his hands across his mouth then placed one on either hip. Adrenaline rushed through his blood stream and agitated his autonomic nervous system. He fidgeted and paced as thoughts raced around his head. He turned to face Artur.
“Where is she?” he asked finally.
Artur exited the bedroom doorway silently and led Jared down the hall past one door, hopefully locked, that led to Jared’s walk-in closet and paused at the doorframe to the next door that led to a bathroom.
“She’s in my bathroom?” Jared asked nervously.
Artur nodded his head.
Jared’s bathroom is accessible only from the hall and would normally be categorized as a guest bathroom by most standards, but, because of its proximity to Jared’s bedroom and the fact that there is no en suite attached to his bedroom, it is his de facto personal bathroom. The girl in the shower shouldn’t be back here. For any reason. Ever. This entire wing of the compound is entirely off limits to guests at all times to protect Jared’s personal space.
Jared looked up and down the hall. His memory of the layout reaffirmed. His bedroom door at one end, the hallway entrance 90 feet the other direction. The entrance to the hallway was still roped up. The “keep out” sign he personally affixed to the rope was hanging all sorts of obvious just as it should be. All the other doors in the hall were shut – likely locked too.
Why would she come back here? He thought. What would attract her to this dimly lit hallway so far removed from the party space? Jared couldn’t think of a single logical reason for it. If she was looking to rob him, this is the last place a thief should end up. His room is more like the maid’s quarters than a room built for the master of the house. No one would ever guess that of all the rooms available to him in his enormous compound, that these would be the ones he’d reserve for himself. Being the weirdo that he is, he likes the location’s basement like qualities. It’s minimal and functional and likely served as soldier’s quarters. Anyone who knows him well might understand but there are less than a handful of those people on the planet. It just doesn’t make sense.
This was not the spot to take a quick shower with the intent to sober up. Not somewhere to wash the barf out of her hair. Or a secret spot to have sex with a stranger … They would have had to wind around through the original buildings, additions, two galleries, endless hallways and doors that should have been bolted just to get back here. Way too much effort to undertake for a quickie anything. They’d have found a suitable spot ages before finding this wing…They…
Jared got a chill. Artur looked at him expectantly.
Focus! he thought. If he could quickly figure out who she is …er…was…he’d probably be able to figure out the answers to the hundred questions lining up in his brain.
“Do you know who she is?” Jared peeked around Artur and saw that in fact there was an unmoving body in his shower. He felt emotional seeing her. Sad. She was very real and very dead. Upright but sitting on the floor. Her back against the brown tile and her feet splayed out in front of her. She looked stiff, just like a mannequin, except she was soaking wet.
Jared looked beyond her, to the glass windows that lined the wall of the shower. The sun was coming in – the room would be hot in a few hours. He looked all the way through the room to the outside, to the line of overgrown hedges that are just beyond the windows. Everything looked undisturbed. Jared was perplexed. No one would fit through the hopper style windows in this room. Not even a child could climb in or out. Barely enough air circulated through the narrow opening. She must have wandered back here by accident, he thought.
Or was placed back here … on purpose.
Whoever she was with walked out the doorway he’s standing in.
“Don’t touch anything.” Jared blurted out.
Artur looked down at Jared quizzically.
Jared registered the look on Artur’s face and how completely inappropriate his own utterance was “Have you touched anything?” he asked in a kinder tone.
“I had to.” Artur said defensively “I checked her pulse … shut off the water.”
“The shower was on?”
“Yes and the water was ice cold but the hot knob was turned on. She must have been in there a while.”
Jared started to generate a timeline in his head. With the exception of a few people who work for him, the compound was cleared out before he headed to bed roughly two hours ago. There is no way she was in his bathroom when he came inside. He’s pretty sure he used the toilet after changing into his pajama bottoms. He would have heard the running water if she came in after him. He’d have heard something if she climbed over or under the ropes…he realizes in that moment how silly that whole rope concept actually is. It’s not a portcullis for fuck’s sake. She could get back here easily but he’s pretty sure she wasn’t. Not until after he went to sleep. That freaked him the fuck out. Were they in his room?
“Who is she?”
“I don’t know Jared but she’s young.”
“Like eighteen or nineteen…maybe?”
“Shit.” Jared stepped back from the door. All at once, the enormity of what happened in his bathroom hit him. “You have to call 911. Now.”
“Ok, Jared. I will. But …did you look at her …?” Artur asked carefully.
Jared responded dismissively “I did.”
“No, really …did you look at her Jared? She didn’t just die in there …”
“What do you mean?”
“She didn’t just slip and fall.” Artur stated.
“I know.” Jared sighed.
“Are you sure you want me to call 911?”