Matt’s trial lasted two days, and the jury returned its verdict in less than four hours. It only took so long because some individuals wanted to be lenient with Matt. They believed the extenuating circumstances. In the end, the majority won out, and jurors pronounced Matt guilty.
Sentencing was equally swift. The judge had no sympathy for Matt. It was deemed that his actions, although reckless and committed out of anger, weren’t excusable. He would serve fifteen years for voluntary manslaughter.
Thankfully, I didn’t go to the sentencing. Crystal and Scott came by Dad’s house with the news. As soon as they left, I took to my bed for a few days. No television, no newspapers, not even the internet. I didn’t want to know what the world had to say about Matt.
Besides, I couldn’t even think of him with my heart and head aching. Crystal and Scott helped me out by retrieving my belongings from Matt’s apartment. It was one place I didn’t want to see again.
“Did we tell you that Matt spoke at the sentencing?” Crystal said as she sat on the end of my bed.
“No. What did he say?” It was the first interest in Matt I’d shown in days.
“He apologized to the Pattersons for his actions. He also begged for your forgiveness.”
Matt didn’t have to beg. I forgave him days ago. His actions weren’t justifiable, but I understood how it happened. At any given time, on any given day, anyone can become a victim. If the circumstances were just right, that same victim could die at the hands of another.
“Crystal, do you think I’m crazy for loving Matt?”
“No, honey, I don’t. We love who we love.” She offered a thin smile. “Any plans to go see him?”
I shook my head. “We said our goodbyes. I have to move forward.”
“This is true. Are you going to return to your apartment?”
Thanks to my ordeal with Leo—who hadn’t been heard from—I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of living alone again. My furniture and other items were scattered between Crystal’s and my dad’s houses.
“Dad went to see my landlord yesterday. Because of what happened, the man let me out of my lease. I only had another two months on it, anyway.”
“What about your furniture?”
“Keep it for now. I’m going to look for a bigger house for Dad and me.”
Crystal pulled a face. “You sure about that?”
“Yeah. Dad isn’t getting better. He shouldn’t be living alone. I’m writing now too. It would be nice to have a permanent space to work in.”
“If you want, I have a friend in real estate.”
“Thanks.” Crystal had always looked out for me.
Her lips curled up wider. “Why don’t we go out tonight? Just us.”
Our girls’-night-out ritual had suffered because of Leo too. Hanging out at a bar scared me. Not because I feared meeting strangers. I feared running into Leo again. What was stopping him from using a disguise and stalking me?
Crystal frowned. “What can I do for you? I hate seeing you like this.”
“Help me find closure,” I pleaded.
I slipped from beneath the covers and sat on the side of the bed. “Leo claimed to live in the same apartment complex. I want to see his apartment. Maybe there are clues the cops missed.”
She pulled out her phone. “Let me contact Scott. Get dressed, and we’ll go over there.”
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