“Nearing the house, Austin pushed the door back and walked into the home. Coke followed. The destruction had occurred hours earlier. The family room was untouched, the kitchen destroyed. Dishes were broken, coffee jars thrown. Drawers and cupboards had been pulled out, contents discarded and tossed aside as if someone was searching for something specific. Austin warned Coke to stay in the hallway, so broken glass didn’t cut his paws. Walking into Riley’s bedroom, Austin stood under the doorframe and stared at the catastrophic damage. The bedspread had been knifed. Feathers floated in the air. A subtle breeze drifted through the broken window. Drawers had been ransacked and dumped. Holes had been punched into the walls as if the intruder- which he assumed was Haden- had lost all patience with his search. Austin’s eyes slowly circled before eventually resting on the glass jar that sat on the dresser. Everything in the room had been damaged, except the jar with the note. He peered in the bathroom but quickly realized water soaked the floor. The faucet had been left on. Was the intruder trying to flood the house or was it a forgotten thought? Austin walked over to the open window and closed it, leaving the breeze outside. Turning around, he glanced at the glass photos by the wall. They had broken like dominos. At that moment- with all the twists and turns of the past hours- he felt as though he stood in one of Riley’s nightmares. And when he glanced up, he saw her standing by the door, emotion stripped from her eyes. “You shouldn’t see this.”
“It’s my home.” Riley stared at the frameless photos, feeling grateful that they hadn’t been damaged like her other belongings. She walked into the house after Austin hadn’t returned. Anger overcame her heart. Almost everything had been destroyed, including her grandmother’s china. She wanted to cry. The entire night felt like a bad dream, except it wasn’t a dream this time.”
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