As the tape ends with a click, I push away a queasy feeling in my stomach.
The man on the tape, EJ, was threatening Dr. Hale. Her voice stayed calm through the whole thing, but she had to have been a little shaken. She was just good at hiding it.
Would the police have looked for EJ after Dr. Hale disappeared? Maybe not. It’s not clear whether she kept a list of her patients. And the newspapers didn’t list other suspects besides her boyfriend.
Also, there was something creepy about his voice. I can’t put my finger on it. Something creepy and also familiar.
It hits me now that he mentioned in the beginning of the tape that he had brought her a bottle of wine. A bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa. When Ethan brought out the wine, he mentioned it was from South Africa. Was it the same bottle of wine? It seems too much of a coincidence that Dr. Hale had two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa.
It had to have been the same bottle. She must’ve never opened the bottle and stashed it away somewhere. I wonder where Ethan even found the bottle. He never told me.
In any case, Dr. Hale intended to terminate her sessions with EJ. Yet there are several more tapes with his initials on them made subsequent to this recording. Did he somehow
come up with the money to pay? Even if he did, I would have been shocked if she took him back after the way he threatened her.
Yet she took him back. She clearly did. But why?
The only way to know would be to listen to the next tape.
I stand up from Dr. Hale’s desk, intending to go back to the hidden room and find the next tape in the EJ series. But before I can get out of the room, I hear a crash coming from somewhere nearby.
I freeze and clasp a hand over my mouth. What was that? Did Ethan come downstairs? That’s got to be what the sound was.
But in my heart, I know it isn’t.
We saw a light on upstairs when we were approaching the house. The refrigerator is filled with newly purchased food. And there was a half-drunk glass of water on the kitchen counter. Yes, we checked every room but I’m still not convinced. This house has a lot of secret places and passages to hide.
Of course, there’s one other possibility. Perhaps this house is haunted by the ghost of Adrienne Hale. Maybe her soul is restless because her murderer is still out there. Maybe she’s mad that I put on her red robe.
Oh God, pregnancy is making me paranoid.
Much like the bedroom upstairs, there’s no lock on the door to the office. That means I can’t even barricade myself in the room overnight. And there’s no way to contact Ethan and try to wake him up. My only comforting thought is that it seems like whoever is in this house doesn’t want to be found.
Then again, maybe they don’t want to be found by Ethan but would be less bothered being found by a smaller, less muscular person.
In any case, I’m not spending the night in this office. I rifle through the other drawers in the desk, looking for
something I can use as a weapon. The first drawer is mostly filled with papers and the cassette tape I had stuffed inside earlier. The second drawer has more papers and a roll of duct tape. My father always claims there are a million uses for duct tape, but I don’t think it can be a weapon—I can’t imagine fashioning duct tape into a knife. The third drawer has more office supplies, including a pair of scissors that look pretty sharp. It’ll have to do.
Armed with the pair of scissors, I grab the doorknob and twist it. I keep the scissors in my right hand as I yank the door open. I’m ready to confront whoever is out there.
Except the living room outside the door is completely silent.
“Hello?” I call out. No answer.
My hand holding the scissors is shaking. I take a few steps forward, squinting into the mostly dark living room. I spot a light switch and flip it on, my grip tightening on the scissors.
No. Still nobody.
My breathing slows. I don’t see anyone out here. No trace of movement anywhere. The living room is silent and empty. I don’t know what that sound was, but it could have come from upstairs. After all, there is another person in this house—Ethan.
But then my heart drops into my stomach.
The painting of Dr. Adrienne Hale. The one that Ethan took down and placed facing away from us. It’s back on the wall. And Dr. Hale’s green eyes are boring into me.