*To my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, the One & Only who provides - you truly save me in every way…for I know You love me unconditionally despite my many imperfections as I seek to follow You & walk in Your ways. I pray that others who read this story will see that God brings different people across our path in life...people that are meant to serve as gifts as our lives touch...but true happiness must begin with following God through the saving knowledge that only comes through His Son. It is through what our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, has given to us when He sacrificed his life upon the cross that we can truly understand the height, the width, & the breadth of His unconditional love. Ultimately it is God that we must embrace as we live a life touching others in His name.
I had come to this place for the tranquility that I find in watching the sea. The waves that come into shore and then sweep back out into the ocean always seem to carry my troubles away from me. However, on this day I found things to be different…for on this day my troubles were to stay with me.
As I stood watching the distant waves, my eyes kept straying to a lone figure that sat not far away. She sat still as a statue on a bench staring out across the sea. As I watched her, I wondered what could possibly have arrested her attention. I gazed across the horizon and noticed nothing. Glancing back at the young woman, I could only guess that she was lost…lost in some deep thought and completely oblivious to her surroundings. She was petite with sun-streaked brown hair. I noted that one would easily find her attractive to gaze upon, despite the troubles I sensed that seemed to be weighing upon her. Guessing that she did not wish to be disturbed, I turned and walked back to my room…all the while pondering about this girl that had captured my interest for such a brief period of time. Little did I realize that our paths would once again cross in the not too distant future.
Later that night as I prepared for bed, I found that I could not erase the image of the woman that I had seen earlier that day. What would cause someone to be so distant? What events had occurred that had brought her to such a state? I found that I could only bow my head and utter a prayer for peace to come. With that I closed my eyes anticipating a quiet night. What seemed like only moments later, I was awoken abruptly by muffled screams that were wrenched from some unknown source.
I quickly threw back the covers, donned a pair of jeans, and hurried to my door. Flinging it open with little thought, I stepped out into the hallway to see if I could determine where the anguishing cries were coming from. Quickly I came to discover that they were from the room located right next to mine. Stepping over to the doorway, I quietly rapped on the door. It was met with silence.
Without much thought, I reached for the door knob not fully realizing that it would be locked. My only thoughts were that perhaps there was some intruder inside. To my surprise, it opened at the slightest touch. As I entered the room, I found it cast in shadows. The moonlight shone through the windows quietly illuminating the room. As I glanced around, I found a figure lying on the bed twisted among the sheets. I realized that it was the same woman that I saw earlier that day by the sea. As I watched her, a moan seemed wrenched from her lips. She was wrapped up in a nightmare in a world of her own. I strode over to the bed to quietly lay my hand upon her in hope to offer her some sort of comfort. At that point, my world went black.
I awoke to a sunlit room. The bright light stung my eyes and my head throbbed. I reached to the back of my head and discovered a lump that was sensitive to my touch. Thoughts whirled through my mind, as I strove to make sense of what had happened. As I recalled my reason for being in the room that I was currently in, my gaze swiftly swung to the bed. It was empty. Where was the woman that had been lying there in what seemed to me only mere moments before? Who had apparently struck me to render me unconscious? For what reason? Was the young woman in some sort of trouble?
I slowly got up and looked around the room for any clues that I could find. Being a sleuth by nature, I assumed that I would be able to find something that would lead me to some answers. I crossed over to the dresser in hopes of finding something in the drawers. Nothing. I made my way over to the closet. Upon opening it I discovered it too was empty. Walking into the connecting bath, I found there were no toiletries. It was as if no one had ever been there. Where had the young woman disappeared to? Questions continued to race through my mind.
I decided that I should leave the room before I would be found by housekeeping in a room that was not my own. I went back to my room and quickly found a t-shirt and socks to wear, all the while preoccupied with thoughts of what had transpired as they raced through my mind and I was scrambling to make sense of it all. I figured the best way to solve the mystery before me was to see if anyone at the front desk had noticed anything unusual. I finished dressing, put on my shoes, tousled my hand through my hair, grabbed my jacket & made my way out of my room.
As I approached the front desk, all was quiet…except for the dim sound of a television with some sort of morning program on in the office in back. I rang the bell patrons could use to ask for assistance that was sitting on the desk. Within minutes, a college-aged kid came out of the office area and approached the desk.
“May I be of assistance to you, sir?” he asked.
“Yes, I was wondering if you happened to notice a petite brown-haired young woman come through here? She’s a friend of mine, but she apparently left her room before we could talk.” Not much of a description, I knew, but I was thinking that since we were residing in such a small beachside hotel, the girl might have caught the attention of the young man…and the more he thought that I was a friend, the more information I would be able to get out of him.
“Well, yes, she checked out early this morning…she said she had some kind of emergency that needed to be attended to so she needed to check out right away.” I processed what he said…it didn’t match up with what I knew had really transpired in her room.
“Did she happen to have anyone else with her, do you know?”
“There were two gentlemen with her.” The more I was learning, the greater the unease driving me to think that there was something seriously wrong with the whole situation.
“Do you know what they looked like? Can you give me a description?” If she was in trouble, I may not be able to find her, but I may be able to spot the others that may be involved in her sudden disappearance.
“Hmmm…one guy was average in height, dark-haired, and had on dark sunglasses. He stood a bit away from the desk and kept glancing at the doors while the young woman was checking out. The other guy was taller and blond with a mustache, also had on dark sunglasses...he stood by her side the whole time.”
“Did either one say anything to her…or to you for that matter?”
“No, neither said a word as the woman checked out.”
I thought about what he had said. There must be some reason why the one guy kept glancing at the doors. “Do you know if there was a car waiting at the entrance for them, or did one of them have to leave to pull their vehicle up?”
“There was a dark-colored SUV parked outside. I believe I saw them leave in it.”
“Did you notice if there was anyone else with them?”
“No, I didn’t see anyone else.”
“Is there anything else that you can tell me?” Thinking there had to be something else for me to go on.
The kid just gave me a blank look as if he was saying, “what else could there be?”
“Ok…never mind…thanks for all of your help.” I left out the front doors thinking of what should be the next step that I needed to take.
I walked down the street to the corner coffee shop. I hadn’t gotten my dose of caffeine for the day, and I needed that cup of coffee to see if it would jolt my system into thinking more clearly. I ordered my cup of java just the way I liked it from the lady at the counter, picked up a copy of today’s newspaper, and proceeded to find a table. I sat near the only window in the place and opened the paper…not knowing if I’ll find any answers to my dilemma, but at this point, I was ready to try anything. Scanning through the headlines I noted some of the major world events as well as the national news. Then something caught my eye…tucked back in the business pages of the paper I found a picture. The picture was of the same young woman that I was trying to find with an older gentleman.
Her name was Isabel Stavi, also called Bella. She was the daughter of a computer software guru. The family apparently was in town for some upcoming home expedition showcasing new software designs in home / business security systems. I noted that there was to be a conference at the Convention Center this morning with Isabel’s father showcasing the event. Glancing at my watch, I finished my cup of coffee, got up from the table, and headed out on the next stage of my journey.
I walked back to my room at the hotel…snatched up my laptop bag, took out my computer, opened it, and googled the family. I wanted to make sure I had as much background information on this topic as I could before making my next move.
As I scanned through the endless list of information one can readily find on the internet, I learned a great deal about the company Isabel’s father was CEO and head software architect of. The family had become quite wealthy from the intelligent designs and business foresight her father had. Isabel herself was a 30 year old professional. I silently congratulated the fact that rather than being some flighty socialite, the girl chose to make a name for herself. She had studied business in college, apparently graduated at the top of her class with high honors, and appeared to work for her father as if she was being groomed to take the reins of the company one day. Not only did this young woman have beauty, she had the intellect to match. In addition, I viewed several images of Bella…and I was able to get a better grasp of the details which make up the person. Classic face, fine features, long flowing hair with a hint of curl…she indeed was very beautiful. However, what I was drawn to most were her eyes. Rather than sharp and hard which is often the case of those successful in the business world, hers were soft and vulnerable…and I couldn’t help but be drawn to them thinking that I was seeing into the soul of this striking woman. Shaking my head I couldn’t help but think that some lucky guy must surely have made a play to snatch up such a lovely woman.
Thinking I was done with my search for now, I powered down and closed my laptop. I sat thinking through my options…do I go to the police and inform them of my fears for Isabel or do I go to the Convention Center in an attempt to see her father. Again glancing at my watch, I abruptly made my decision, got up, and walked out the door. The Convention Center was within blocks; her family would be my next visit.
As I entered the Convention Center, I could feel the cool draft of the air conditioning. I scanned across the facility and noted that there was quite a crowd that was drawn to the expedition, probably correlating with the current housing boom in the area. There were various booths scattered throughout the place, and people were milling about them becoming familiar with each and the product line they were offering. Towards the front of the facility, I could see the booth for Isabel’s father’s company, but the man himself was not in sight. I strode over to the booth to see what information I could inconspicuously gather while there.
As I was looking through the wealth of information provided to lure the customer in, I noted the cutting edge technology that is now being incorporated into home and commercial security systems. They were now becoming high tech in their capabilities…being wireless and capable of being monitored through a laptop, smart phone, or tablet computer, and were intelligent to communicate with various devices throughout a home or business to enhance the user’s lifestyle. I determined that owners now had more options than the old low tech technology of a hard-wired controller system equipped with a siren and was impressed by the incredible capabilities that I was seeing. Did any of this information have some correlation with Isabel’s mysterious disappearance? That I could not say, for it would be hard-pressed to know how cutting edge technology in security systems could play a role in the disappearance of a wealthy man’s daughter. Turning from the display, my eyes swept across the room and connected with those of a figure that matched the description of one of the men the college-aged kid described to me back at the hotel.
The man was standing near a booth across the room. As described, he was of average height and build, had dark hair and dark sunglasses. Could he be the same man? That I was not sure…but there was some reason why this man was staring directly at me. I decided that this was the moment I was waiting for and swiftly made my way toward him from across the crowded room. My eyes kept straining through the groups of moving people in an attempt to observe any movement from him. However, spotting your target from across a crowded room and reaching it are two different matters. By the time I had gotten there, the man had disappeared. I glanced around in several directions to see if I could determine where he had gone to no avail. The opportunity was lost.
Turning again, I saw Isabel’s father approach the podium. Ah, it was time for his presentation. I found a place as close as I could to the stage with easy access to come and go…I was biding my time for the perfect opportunity to approach the man about his daughter.
The presentation lasted about an hour. The information was familiar since I had sought what I could from the booth beforehand. What was most intriguing was watching the man himself. You can learn a lot about a man by the way he carries himself, and as I observed the presentation, I learned a lot about Isabel’s father. Oscar Stavi was a tall man that stood with great confidence. You can tell that he was a man that was comfortable walking in the shoes of leadership for some time. His voice was commanding, and his presence was inspiring. His demeanor was open and forthright, never condescending. He was a man that I knew I could easily like.
When the presentation was over, I got up from my chair and made my way over to where Mr. Stavi was standing with a few of his associates and a couple of security personnel around him. I looked the man directly in his eyes to get his attention, and said, “Sir, I need to speak to you in private please. This concerns your daughter.”
Oscar stared at me for a moment as if he was examining my sincerity, then gave me a brief nod. We headed to a side room that could be used for smaller meetings. Oscar dismissed his security personnel from the room asking them to wait just outside the door. He then turned giving me his undivided attention.
“How well do you know my daughter, Bella?” he questioned. I could tell he was going to be weighing heavily everything that I had to say.
“Not very well, sir,” I stated, not wanting to reveal fully that we had never actually met. “But I have reason to be concerned about her.”
I then proceeded to tell my tale of the events that had transpired beginning with last night. As I carefully related each detail, I could see Oscar’s face become troubled.
“Well, all I can tell you is that my daughter was supposed to be here with me today. However, yesterday Bella had requested that she not be present at today’s show. The business world and its cut-throat mentality were beginning to weigh on her. My daughter is a soft-hearted individual. She stated that for her sanity, she needed to find someplace to escape.”
One piece of the puzzle had fallen into place…why Isabel Stavi was staying at a small hotel by the sea rather than in a luxurious hotel chain. Through all of this I also noted that Isabel, like me, had sought the sea for solace to ease her troubled mind.
After Oscar was done sharing, I asked, “Sir, is there any reason to believe that Isabel’s disappearance might have something to do with your company?”
He looked at me silently weighing the question and then made a move toward the door. He opened it and asked his security personnel to please join us. Turning back, he moved toward me, “What is your name again?”
I realized that in my concern for Isabel, I had forgotten to share who I was. Feeling a little sheepish, I answered rather quickly, “Sebastian…Sebastian Reeves.” I held out my hand for a hand shake as a sign of camaraderie as we would need to work together to locate his daughter.
I warily eyed the security as they stepped in and began to dominate the room with their presence. It was easy to discern that even after I had spent time alone with their boss just moments before, it clearly did not give them just cause to let up in their observance of my movements since I was being carefully monitored.
“Sebastian, have you yet contacted the police?” I returned my focus back to Isabel’s father.
“No, sir…I figured it wouldn’t do much good as of yet. Since your daughter has gone missing for only a few hours, I figured the “reasonable amount” of time necessary for her to be considered a missing person by the local law enforcement more than likely had not passed. In addition, since I am not considered a person of “legal” standing regarding your daughter, I determined that the best step was to contact you to see if you could give any more insight into the circumstances.”
“Well, I thank you for notifying me about the possibility of Bella being in danger…and now I believe it is time for me to notify the proper authorities. So, if you will excuse me, I’m going to make a phone call.”
While I understood the man’s need to be alone while placing the call to file a missing person’s report, I was not prepared to be out of the picture in the search for Isabel. It had become my intent to find the young woman…even though she was a stranger to me. Besides, I knew that I would be wanted by the police for questioning since I was one of two people that I was aware of who had last seen Isabel.
“Well, sir…if I may…I would prefer to remain with you. I’m sure the police will have questions they may wish to ask me…” I let my sentence fade as Oscar nodded and then turned away to make the call, his mind clearly focused on the task before him. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the man who now had full realization that he did not know when he would see his daughter again.
As Oscar Stavi made the phone call, I found a chair to sit in while I waited. I began thinking again over the events that took place within the past 12 hours or so. It was at that point that I realized something rather remarkable to me. For a year now I had been living with my own burdens…they seemed to be ever present in my mind…like phantoms that could not be erased. However, within these last hours, my own troubles had dimmed as I’ve focused on Isabel and hers. The loss of my fiancé a year ago due to a drunk driver was a horror that kept coming back to haunt me. I seemed to be forever caught in time, not knowing how to carry on without her. However, with the search for Isabel, I had found the key to breaking free. Could it really have been that simple…to start to care for another & the burdens they carry in this world? It seemed too impossible to be true…yet,isn’t that what God calls us to do…to focus on others rather than ourselves. Here I was…not one thought of my lost fiancé in all of this time. I found myself shaking my head…once again clearing my thoughts…and hoping that maybe now I have found some peace. I could finally rejoin my world around me. And with that last thought, I heard the click of a phone…Oscar Stavi’s call had been completed.
Oscar turned to me…he appeared to be gathering his thoughts from the conversation he had participated in moments before. “The authorities will be here within the hour…they would like to speak with you.”
I nodded to assure Isabel’s father that I fully understood what he was requesting.
“So, Sebastian, while we wait…tell me about you.”
My heart stalled, and my mind began to race…what should I share? The question was so open…I could begin anywhere. I purposely slowed my thoughts and asked myself…what would the father of a daughter who so clearly captivated my attention wish to know? Clearly that I wasn’t a threat…despite the fact that I was a stranger.
Quietly clearing my throat, I began…“I’ve already shared with you that I have recently met your daughter. We both were staying at the beachside hotel when our paths crossed, you might say. I am a writer…and I come here often to find peace so that I may write.” I paused thinking of what next to say…what direction should I take my words. “What specifically would you like to know?”
“You’re a writer, you say…you come here for peace? Sounds like you are a man with troubles of your own.” I could tell that he was judging what kind of man I am by what I was sharing.
Not wanting to get into the details, I stated, “Yes, I lost my fiancé a year ago to an accident involving a drunk driver. The day I received the news of the accident is a memory that’s hard for me to erase.”
Oscar thought for a moment, then quietly said, “That must have been very difficult for you. You must have loved her very much.”
“Yes, I did…but I am learning that life must go on…each day is a brand new day.”
“Yes, it is.” Then Oscar shared something that I had not expected to hear. “I lost my wife 5 years ago to cancer. She was my soul mate. The memories I have of her are bittersweet. She was full of love and life…the kind of spirit that doesn’t stop giving to the world around her. She had touched so many lives before she died. Those last days, she was in some pain…it was hard for me to watch…but she did not wish to take the medication that would ease it. She was too concerned about me and how I would fare in this world without her. She made me promise that I would continue to go on…that I would love another good woman if it should happen to be. Isabel reminds me so much of her…she is compassionate by her very nature. Sometimes I question whether being CEO in the business world is suitable for a woman such as her. But she has become my life, so having her by my side is like the very air that I breathe.”
We both paused reflecting upon what was shared in the quiet room…each of us wrapped up in our own memories.
Then I heard, “So, what kinds of stories do you write?”
I glanced back at Oscar, “Tales of fiction…action-adventures, detective stories, tales dealing with crime and passion…” My comment was cut short as there was a quiet knock at the door. One of the security men walked over to answer it, and two uniformed police officers promptly entered the room. That sure was quick, I thought…but then we are dealing with a member of the upper crust of society, so to speak.
The interview with the police took about an hour. After Oscar shared a description of Isabel and provided a picture for their records, I repeated to them what had transpired as I had done with Isabel’s father earlier that day. As I shared the events, images of Isabel kept playing about in my head…the image of her sitting alone on the bench…her lying twisted among the sheets…and her eyes…those vulnerable eyes…they are starting to haunt me. For some reason, finding Isabel has become a vital part of my life…though the reason why is hard for me to comprehend.
After the interview, there was not much else that could be done. The police officers mentioned that they were going to stop by the hotel to interview the front desk clerk and that they would get back to Isabel’s father as soon as they learned anything.
After they left, I looked to Oscar and carefully sifted through the options that I had before me. Do I hang around the Convention Center to see if my dark-haired “friend” turned up again…or do I head back to the hotel and wait for the police to do their duties? Being a man of action rather than to stand by complacently, I decided I would scout out the Expo at the Convention Center.
“Well, Mr. Stavi, since it looks like I’m no longer needed here, I think I’d like to look around the Expo for awhile…check out a few things. However, might I give you my number should you hear from the police? If you wouldn’t mind, I would really appreciate being kept informed as to what they discover regarding Isabel. Her disappearance concerns me, especially since I seem to be indirectly involved.”
“No, that should be fine. I’m sure having your information would be helpful to me, as well…should I need to contact you for any reason.” Oscar’s answer reassured me that I was indeed accepted as a part of the circle of those concerned in finding Isabel.
I handed him a card that I had with my personal contact information, then shook his hand saying, “Thanks for taking the time to see me. I hope the police find your daughter soon, sir.”
“No, I wish to thank you…for if you had not approached me, I would not yet be aware that Isabel was missing. I cannot thank you enough.” His handshake was firm…his manner grateful. With that, I left Oscar to his own affairs.
I headed out to the main exhibition hall and began wandering my way around the rest of the booths, all the while keeping a look out for the man that I had seen briefly earlier. As I wandered towards the booth where I had spotted my dark haired “friend”, I noticed a few interesting things. First, the booth belonged to that of a competitor of Oscar Stavi’s. Upon looking at the information, I noted how the basics of both security systems were indeed very similar to one another regarding capabilities. However, there the similarities ended for Mr. Stavi’s security business appeared to be expanding towards the cutting edge which included using biometric technologies. The idea of using fingerprint readers, hand scans, voice authentication, and iris or retina scans I believed could open a whole new world to the security industry. With that my thoughts quickly turned to Isabel…and how this latest piece of information may have played a role into her disappearance.
Suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck tingled as I felt a presence watching me. Was it a possibility that I was being watched by one of the men that was seen with Isabel? Rather than turning quickly and ending up scaring my prey away, I decided to play along instead. I casually made my way over to the concession stand and placed my order. All this while, I felt his presence. After I received my order, I nonchalantly turned around to span the crowd as I enjoyed giving my body some sustenance for the next sequence of events I knew was about to take place. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. He was standing just off to my right near an open doorway so that his body was backlit. I couldn’t make out his features, but I knew this was my dark-haired “friend”, the man that I had been hoping to find. I also knew that if I were to venture in his direction, he would disappear again. I weighed through some options as to what possible strategy I could take to get closer to the man for I knew that my answers to Isabel’s disappearance lay with him. After some thought, I knew what I had to do to find those answers. I walked over to the nearest trash can, threw the garbage from my snack away, and began to put my strategy into action.
I made my way to a nearby booth keeping my eye on the man through my peripheral vision knowing full well that he would be watching my progress. I figured that I could somehow draw the man toward me if I were to drop out of sight…then I would be able to await my opportunity and pounce on him while he was unguarded. As I slowly made my way around the booth, I looked for a place that would provide such an opportunity. I noted a curtained off area in one particular section of the display which hid away some storage. I ducked behind it…making sure that I still had a way to watch for my target. I felt like we were playing a game of cat and mouse. At this time, he was the cat, and I was the mouse…but the situation was about to be reversed. The man came into my vision, and I was able to verify that indeed this was the man I had been looking for. I could see that he was searching for me scanning the booth very closely for where I might have disappeared to. I waited very quietly as adrenalin shot through my veins anticipating the moment before me. Suddenly the perfect moment arrived. I saw the man turn his back toward me while scanning the rest of the booths. At that moment, I leaped out and made a grab for him. He must have seen me out of the corner of his eye…or else he felt my presence, because he quickly jumped away and made his way toward the nearest exit. I scrambled to follow…there was no way I was going to let him out of my sight. As I ran after him, he flew through the doors of the nearest exit…and I made chase. Once through the doors, he could go anywhere…and I knew that meant he could quickly disappear. I was determined that was not going to happen again.
Another dose of adrenalin seemed to rush through my veins at the possibility of losing my prey. I gained on him and took a dive tackling him to the ground. We rolled as we landed, and I felt the impact as we hit the pavement. I thought little of the pain for my only concern was in somehow keeping this man held for however long it would take until I was able to obtain the answers that were needed. By now I was certain that security must have clearly been alerted due to my actions and the attention that was being drawn to the situation by the people around us. We scuffled for a bit as I quickly maneuvered this guy into a position where I could hold him utilizing one of the pressure points I was aware of through the self-defense methods I had studied. I did not want this guy to have the opportunity to get away as I held him to the ground. I began looking him over…my mind racing through the many questions I wanted to ask him, searching for which one to begin with. I kept thinking that this was the opportunity we were waiting for to find Isabel. Glancing up, I noted that not only had the security for the Convention Center followed me out, but Isabel’s father must have heard the news since he and his men were approaching the situation, as well.
Glancing at Oscar as he stopped in front of me, I looked back to the man and said, “I believe this is one of the men that was seen with your daughter this morning right before she disappeared.”
“Is that so?” Oscar stated…as he first looked at me and then at the man. Finally, with a nod of his head toward one of his men, I let our suspect up, and he was taken to a private room for further questioning.
Oscar turned to me, “I assume you would like to join us since you were responsible for catching the guy in the first place?” I nodded my headed clearly indicating to Oscar that he was right in his assumption.
On our walk back inside, Oscar made a call on his cell phone notifying the police of the events that had transpired. We were assured that officers were on the way as we quickly made our way to the private room to see what, if anything, we could learn from “our friend”.
As we entered the room, I noted that our suspect was seated in a chair in the center of the room. Oscar’s security personnel were standing one on each side of him glaring at the man…a situation many would have found intimidating if they were in this man’s shoes. The man, however, appeared unbothered as he boldly answered their glare with one of his own…challenging them to make the first move. However, in studying the scene, I could not help but think that though no sign was given, our “friend” was weighing the situation he was now in and determining his options. Will he cooperate and share any knowledge that he knows regarding Isabel’s whereabouts? That is a question we hoped would be answered in our favor…for I felt like we were on the verge of a break-through regarding Isabel’s disappearance.
I allowed Oscar to take the initiative regarding what was to occur next. After all, it was his daughter that was missing, so he had every right to take the lead on the situation. Looking at me, then at our suspect, Oscar quietly informed me that we would wait until the police arrived. He wanted to make sure that this guy’s Miranda rights were read to him. I could understand that since I’m sure he wanted to make sure no stone was left unturned in convicting the man…however, I was also impatient for I wanted to take whatever steps were crucial to learn the truth, and I had a feeling this guy would do whatever he could to keep it hidden from us.
Within what seemed like mere moments, a couple of officers arrived…the same detectives whom we had talked with earlier. I was relieved to see this since I knew they were up to speed on the case. We welcomed them into the room, and they immediately walked over to the man seated. Oscar had already filled the authorities in on our suspicions, so once they entered the room they knew that we had one of the men we were looking for. I could see that they were studying him already, looking for the weak spot so we could get the information we would need. By now I noticed our guy began shifting his eyes from one person to the next. I knew he either was getting nervous about the situation or else he was looking for an opening to make some type of move as he continued to size up the situation he now found himself in. After a few moments, the officers began questioning him. With each question fired at him, our “guy” would look the person firmly in the eye and just stare. Yep, I was right…this guy would be hard to crack. After what seemed like a half hour, I was beginning to lose my patience. We weren’t getting anywhere, and Isabel was still out there somewhere. Who knew where…who knew what danger she may be in. I silently realized that my feelings for Isabel were deepening as my concern continued to rise. I knew something had to be done, so I decided to take a gamble, and I walked over to the man.
I made direct eye contact with the officers in hopes of silently communicating with them that I was about to take matters in my own hands to hopefully get the information we needed. They apparently were willing to let me have a crack as they silently watched me. Then I shifted my gaze over to our suspect in hand.
I looked at the man who was now gazing at some fixed spot in the room as I fired my first question, “Look at me…Do you remember me? I think you do…I think you know exactly who I am. It’s why you were watching me…you wanted to insure something. What are you after?”
The man looked at me with an intent look in his eyes. I did not let my eyes waver as I wanted to make it very clear that I knew he was hiding something. Since he did not answer, I went on to inform him that I knew he was at the hotel with Isabel…that he was in the room when she was taken. I told him that we had someone who could positively identify him as being with Isabel right before her disappearance. I also told him that he wasn’t doing himself any favors by keeping any information from us, but rather he was only making it harder on himself…that he underestimated our determination in finding her.
That’s when I saw the smirk…this guy definitely was pleased about something. He glanced at the others around us…then shifted his gaze back at me. “Yes, I know you…it’s why I was watching you. You are the man who was watching Isabel at the shore. You are the man who went into her room while she was sleeping. It’s why we took her to a new location…you had invaded her privacy…and Isabel wanted privacy.”
I glanced at Oscar then returned my gaze back to the man. “What exactly are you saying?” I asked. Something didn’t seem right here. It sounded like he was more like Isabel’s bodyguard rather than a man of questionable character.
The man also turned his gaze to Oscar, “I’m saying that Isabel is safe. She is where she wants to be right now.” His eyes turned back to me as he continued, “We were interested in watching you, Sebastian – yes, I know who you are – because we were watching over her while she was at the hotel. You had taken an interest in her, so we were determining why the interest.”
Oscar stepped in and began asking a few questions himself. Our “friend” shared with us what he knew. We learned that Isabel had hired two bodyguards for her own protection while she decided to slip away from the world for awhile. She had chosen not to inform her father because she didn’t want him to worry, but she had been receiving threats in relation to some new security case that was coming before the courts if no settlement was reached. Apparently, Oscar’s company was being blamed for some type of security system malfunction…certainly nothing new in the corporate world. Isabel had taken matters in her own hands in the hiring of these men as she made plans for her escape in search of a few answers of her own, which clearly did not sit well with Oscar.
“Is there a way that I can see her…make sure that she is okay for myself?” he asked the bodyguard.
“Since you are her father, I see no reason why not.”
“I would also like to see her, if possible. I’ve been worried about her thinking she was in some sort of trouble since the moment I saw her on the beach. I’d like to know that she is okay.” I said as I made my case known.
The man glanced at Oscar who nodded his head…and I knew that my reasons for meeting Isabel were accepted. This thought swiftly brought me a feeling of happiness followed by a strong case of nerves…why I did not question for I had no time to really think about the matter.
The police detectives that were present also asked to speak with Isabel. Since the matter of threats was mentioned, they wanted to question Isabel herself about them. Apparently, threatening a high-powered executive’s daughter was not something that was going to be brushed under the rug, and answers were going to be found as to where these threats were coming from.
A call was placed, plans were quickly discussed, and a meeting with Isabel was imminent.
The meeting was to take place at another quiet destination that was hand-picked by Isabel herself. Apparently after the beachside hotel, she had chosen to head inland to a small and quiet farmstead that had belonged to some friends that she knew. The place spoke of peacefulness, and I could see why she had chosen this site. Upon our approach, we could see wooden rail fences along the road gracing the paddocks where a few horses quietly grazed. An old-fashioned Victorian-like house stood on the estate which held a barn and other out buildings located within walking distance of the home. A hedge of lilac bushes was present as well as a small grove of apple trees and several flower gardens. The place was like a picture out of some sort of country living magazine.
As we parked, I noted Isabel was sitting on the front porch…while the man standing beside her was clearly the other bodyguard she had hired. He certainly matched the description that the college-aged kid had given me at the hotel. As I looked at her upon our approach, my heart began to race and I could feel myself tremble. I felt as nervous as a teenager on his first date. Why would this meeting cause such a reaction from me? Clearly I have attached some very strong feelings to Isabel and now it was up to me to find out exactly what they were.
As we strode toward the porch, Isabel stood. She welcomed her father with a warm hug, and I could see the devotion to each other clearly written on their faces. I heard them exchange a few pleasantries as I studied her face. I couldn’t seem to look away. Her eyes turned to me as Oscar introduced me. I reached for her hand as I gazed into those eyes. I did not know what to say…my mind had gone completely blank. At the touch of her hand, I felt a connection…like I had known her always and yet I hadn’t. It was a unique moment. I made a welcoming smile which she quietly returned before her gaze switched to the officers who had followed us to the farmstead. As I continued to gaze at her, I heard Oscar explain that the detectives were here to ask her some questions regarding the threats she had been receiving. Isabel swiftly glanced at her father with an element of surprise on her face clearly not knowing that her father was aware of the situation. Then gathering her composure, she invited us to sit so that we could talk.
The officers asked for some background information as to what was taking place and for evidence of the threats that had been given to Isabel. She concisely summarized the impending case and the series of threats that were made. She then informed the detectives that if they want any further information, they could speak to the head bodyguard that she had hired, our dark-haired friend. With that, she seemed to politely dismiss the officers like the high-powered executive that she was, and they left. Clearly they had all of the information that they needed for now.
“Bella, my dear, tell me why you chose not to inform me about these threats.” Oscar questioned his daughter quietly. I could sense his quiet scolding of her actions…and her sense of discomfort at being confronted by her father in front of me, a stranger. I decided to excuse myself so they could talk though I did not venture too far wanting to be available at the slightest notice. Keeping an eye on the discussion, I wandered over to the gardens to investigate them. When I saw that father and daughter were done discussing things, I slowly ventured my way back to the porch. I noticed that Oscar had made his way inside the home, while Isabel continued to sit out on the porch swing staring out at the scene before her. It reminded me of the pose I saw her in at the beach as she seemed once again lost in thought. This time I chose to sit beside her and make my presence known.
As I sat next to her on the swing, it creaked announcing my presence. She quietly turned to me and asked, “Have you ever felt like you were living a life that somehow wasn’t your own…a life that turned out different than you expected it would…that somehow you ended up on a different path than the one you had once planned, and you’re not sure how you got there?”
I looked at her letting my gaze take in the question in her eyes, the look on her face, the essence of the beautiful woman before me. And as I looked upon her, I sat silently inviting her to continue to openly share her thoughts.
She went on, “It’s what I have felt like these last 5 years…ever since Momma died.” She sat quietly for a moment, gazing down at the ground while slowly moving the swing as she thought. “I’ve been working by Daddy’s side, learning the business, doing whatever was necessary to help him…all the while giving up plans I once had, dreams I once dreamed. When the threats were made, I began to question things. I began to wonder if something were to happen tomorrow, would I have lived the life I wanted to live. I found that I couldn’t answer the question the way I wanted…I couldn’t say yes. So now I’m left wondering, what do I do? Do I continue down the path that I am now on…this road that may very well be the life I’m meant to live…or do I dare to begin to chase after those dreams that I once had…do I choose to see if those dreams are something God has planned for me?”
I sat there thinking…does she want me to answer her question…or is she just thinking aloud wanting someone to hear her as she searched for the answer herself. I pondered this for a few moments as the swing continued to creak in its gentle movement. Taking a deep breath, I decided that I’d share my thoughts.
“A little over a year ago I would have answered you by saying that you do what you need to do to get what you want out of life…that your life is based mainly on the decisions that you make. But I think there are also unplanned circumstances that for some reason come our way…events that occur in life that we are to in some way respond to…and how we respond ultimately can determine our destiny.” I paused as I thought how to carefully choose my next words. “You see, prior to a year ago I did what I felt I needed to do as I planned a future with a soon to be wife I would need to provide for. I did what I believed was necessary as I worked to prepare to meet the needs of my soon to be family. However, about a year ago my fiancé was killed by a drunk driver in a fatal car accident. I began to question life like you are now. I now think there has to be a balance in life. I have learned that life is precious…we can’t take a single moment, a single second, a single breath for granted. We don’t know what could happen, when it could happen, or who it could happen to. It made me realize that I need to make some changes…start living life as if every moment is the last…start living life as God would wish me to…making every moment count not only for me, but also for others in my life around me. But that’s also something I wrestle with, because at times I wonder what exactly that would look like, especially when I feel as if I’m suspended in time…working to move forward, yet still caught up in yesterday. I’m guessing that’s what you feel like, as well.”
“Yes…it’s like I want to move forward and begin to follow my dreams, yet something prevents me…I worry, I question…who will take care of Daddy? You see, it’s been my job to look after him since Momma got so sick…so who will work alongside him…look out for him? Maybe my life is as it should be…yet I wonder if maybe God has bigger dreams waiting to come true for me.” She let out a quiet sigh, “Sometimes I think maybe I think too much, but I find it hard not to. So here I sit, feeling suspended in time, living this life that I had not planned on living wondering if maybe God has something more waiting for me.”
“I can hear your love for your dad in what you are saying…I understand your concerns…they are valid concerns a daughter should have for her father…and I can certainly understand your thoughts in light of the recent circumstances in your life… the threats that were made upon you.” I paused and then went on. “Isabel, have you thought that maybe God has directed your life to be as it needed to be for a season, but yet is about to open another doorway for you…one that may include your dreams…and that maybe that is why you are now feeling restless and unsettled.” I stated as I tried to show her that I was intentionally listening to her every word as I sought to understand the woman before me. “May I ask, what are your dreams?”
“My dreams…you want to hear my dreams?” She paused quietly, then she went on to say, “I’m an artist…not many know that.” Again she paused as she carefully chose her next words, “I would like to touch the world through my art by painting the beauty that I see around me…I would like to love a man with all of me, one that I believe God has already chosen for me…I would like to continue to dream my dreams and watch God make them become my reality if they are meant to be.”
I could not help but smile with what she shared, for I could see the passion in her heart in the words that she spoke. “You know, Isabel, it seems to me that if God wishes for those dreams of yours to come true, He will make a way. He is the One who instilled those dreams within you. In the meantime, look at the path that you are now on as a gift God has given you…a special part of God’s plan where He used you to be a blessing in your love for your dad. And as you await to see what God has in store for you know that in His love for you, His plans are always perfect…whether all of your dreams come true or not, your life will be the beautiful gift to the world that He intends for it to be.” As I sat watching her, I couldn’t help but look at this woman before me in amazement. Here sat a woman before me…a lovely vision…who certainly was beautiful on the outside, but one whom I was learning was even more so on the inside. Here sat a woman who I was discovering knew how to love from the depth of her soul…a compassionate woman who knew how to give from deep within her heart. Here sat a woman whom I believed was the answer to my dreams…she was possibly a gift God had intended for me…for I could see that we were once two souls lost in our own world, but now God had allowed us to find each other. And with that thought, I reached for her, drew her to me, and held her close in an effort to ease her troubled thoughts…for though I had yet to learn all about her, I knew that a portion of my heart was already hers. And with that thought, I also knew it was now up to me to show her the depth of God’s love for her as I allowed Him to use me to help make those dreams she longed for to become a reality. In doing so, I knew that she would give all of herself in order to make my own dreams come true. I was no longer lost…a new life was about to begin before me.
"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
Please note that this story entitled "Lost" is a complete work of fiction. It was written in its entirety from my imagination as I thought about how various circumstances as well as people can come and go in our lives while leaving footprints upon our hearts that last a lifetime. Although certain aspects of my characters may be fashioned after people I have had the privilege to know in my life, the characters themselves are not real. This story is meant to tell a tale sharing how, though we don't always understand the why about certain events in our lives, there is always a reason for them. And we need to live our life the way we are called to live it. I believe that God has a calling for each of us...a plan & a purpose that only we can carry out...and He intricately places people in our lives at the right time for a specific purpose. Some stay in our life for mere moments...others for a lifetime...each one is meant to be a gift. I am thankful for the people God has placed in my life...especially the ones who have encouraged me to live my dreams through my art & my writing.
S. Lee Stavi