Meeting Mr Anderson: Chapter 17

“Damn it, I forgot to charge my phone last night,” Jay says, plugging it into a socket in the kitchen.

“Bit distracted, were we?” Blake grins as Jay shoots him a warning look.

We are all downstairs having breakfast together before we head back to LA. My flight home is this afternoon, and I can’t help feeling sad we can’t stay here another day. It’s been wonderful meeting Jay’s family.

“Sleep well, did you, Holly?” Blake asks.

“Yes, thank you,” I say, eyeing him over the rim of my mug. He smirks as I narrow my eyes at him. Thankfully, Sheila and Bill aren’t paying any attention as they’re too busy discussing a news article in the paper.

Jay’s phone buzzes, his missed messages coming through.

“Stefan’s tried calling me five times.” Jay sounds worried as his phone rings in his hand.

“Stefan? What’s wrong?” He nods and his expression turns serious. We’ve all stopped eating and are watching him. “What? When?” His brow furrows and he reaches up to rub his hand over his eyes. “Do they know who? Okay, we’ll be back as soon as we can.” He hangs up. Something is very wrong. He looks like he’s trying to make sense of what he’s just been told.

“The house was broken into last night,” he says as he stares at us.

“What?” Sheila gasps.

“Fuck, man,” says Blake.

“Language, Blake,” Sheila scolds half-heartedly, her face still looking shocked at Jay’s news.

I’m at his side in moments, wrapping my arms around his waist. This is crazy. Of all the houses up in the Hollywood Hills, why choose Jay’s? He puts an arm around me and holds me against him.

“Did Stefan say what they took?” Bill asks, standing up and moving across the room to put a reassuring hand on Jay’s shoulder.

“Stefan’s there now. He said it doesn’t look like much is missing, but they have turned the place upside down. Maggie found it like that when she let herself in this morning and rang Stefan when she couldn’t get me.” Jay sucks in his breath and his body tenses in my arms. “We’d better go, Holly. It’s going to take us an hour and a half to get back. Stefan said he’s there with the police now.”

“Of course. I’ll grab our things.” I look up at everyone’s worried faces and leave the kitchen, rushing upstairs to pack. I throw my toiletry bag into my bag and lift the satin nighty from on top of the duvet. Last night seems like a distant memory now. Is this actually happening? I zip my bag up and grab the rest of Jay’s things before heading back downstairs. Jay is on his phone again, pacing up and down the hallway, his eyes cast downwards.

“It’s Stefan again,” Sheila says, coming over to me. “He’s going to stay there with the police until you get back.”

All I can do is nod at her, trying to take it all in. Her lips are pursed, lines visible on her forehead as her worried eyes meet mine.

“Drive safely, won’t you?”

“We will.” I hug her and can smell lavender and rose again as she rubs my back.

She pulls back and smiles at me. “We’ll see you soon, Holly.”

“I look forward to it,” I say, squeezing her hand.

Bill comes over and goes to take my hand, but then pulls me into a hug. I gladly reciprocate, his warm arms comforting.

“Such a pleasure to meet you, Holly. I just wish you weren’t having to rush off under such circumstances.”

“Me too.” I gulp as my eyes sting with the threat of tears.

“Hey, don’t get upset; you’ll see me again you know,” Blake jokes, lightening the mood as he comes and hugs me too. He smells woody and masculine and I’m grateful for his cheekiness at a time like this.

I laugh in his arms and my body tingles as I sense Jay approach.

“Hey, don’t go thinking a crisis is the ideal opportunity to put the moves on my girl,” he jokes. But I can see by the way his smile doesn’t reach his eyes that his mind is back in LA, and what’s happening at the house.

Jay hugs Blake, and then Sheila and Bill, who give him words of encouragement and support. He promises to call them all when we get back to update them on what’s going on.

We wave out the car window at the three of them standing out on the front veranda as we pull away. My stomach churns at what are we going to find when we get back. Jay reaches across the car and takes my hand, his warm fingers interlocking with mine. I look over at him, his jaw is tight and he’s staring straight ahead at the road.

“It’ll be okay; we can sort it out. The police will find out who’s responsible.” I try to sound reassuring, not even convincing myself.

“I just keep thinking, what if you’d been there?” Jay turns to me, his blue eyes pained underneath his knotted brows. “I could never forgive myself if they’d broken in and you’d been there. Anything could have happened.” He swallows and turns back to stare at the road.

“I wasn’t there, Jay. No one was. Maybe that’s why they broke in. They saw an opportunity as the house was empty.”

“Yeah, maybe. He lifts our joined hands to his lips and kisses the back of mine, leaving my skin warm. “I’m sorry we had to cut the visit short, although maybe it was a welcome escape to get away from my family.”

“You’re kidding. I love them!”

“Really?” He looks over at me, his eyebrows raised.

“Really.” I smile. “They’re all lovely. You can tell you’re a close family; it’s really nice.”

“As long as you don’t fancy my brother.” Jay smirks.

I tip my head back and laugh. “Seriously? You’re so different. He is fun though.” I raise an eyebrow at Jay, and he eyes me seriously.

“Don’t, Holly. We can’t afford to be late right now because I’ve had to pull over and spank you.”

“Okay, but just so I know, if I were to mention Blake being fun again when we don’t have to be somewhere urgently, then you would spank me for it?” I ask, biting my lip to hide my smile.

“Yes,” Jay says darkly. “Then I would fuck you so hard you’d still be feeling me next week, just so you never forget whose girlfriend you are.”

“Oh, right, gotcha,” I say as I turn to look out the passenger window. Even under these circumstances he can arouse me so easily. I’m definitely bringing Blake up again in the future if that’s what Jay thinks is punishment.

The sound of my phone ringing breaks into my dirty fantasy, and I dig around in my handbag by my feet to fish it out.

“It’s Matt,” I say to Jay as I hit answer.

“Hi, Matt.”

“Holly! Where are you? Stefan called me and told me there’s been a break-in at Jay’s house!”

“It’s okay, we’re alright. We were at Jay’s parents’ last night. We’re on our way back to the house now.”

Matt lets out a big sigh. “It’s good to hear your voice, Holly, and er, parents’ house? We’re so coming back to that one later.”

I smile; he never misses anything. “It’s good to hear yours too. Where are you? I thought you were flying on the Havana; you should be in the air now.” I work out it must be five o’clock in the afternoon UK time, eight hours ahead of LA.

“I swapped it last minute for LA tomorrow. I knew all those bottles of wine I’ve dropped into crewing over the years would come in handy,” he jokes.

“You’ll be here tomorrow?” A weight lifts off me knowing that Matt will be here to help Jay and Stefan at the house.

“Yes, I’ll be able to help out with whatever needs doing, so don’t you worry.”

“Thanks, Matt.” I look over at Jay and he mouths hi.

“Jay says hi by the way.”

“Hi back. Tell him I will be at his complete disposal ASAP.”

“Thanks, I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”

“When are you next back? Haven’t you got leave coming up?”

“Yes, I do actually.” I look back across at Jay, who looks at me quizzically. I’ve got two weeks leave after this trip, but Jay doesn’t know that. I’ve forgotten to mention it since we made up. I don’t know what he’s going to think about me not being back for at least two weeks, especially now with so much happening.

“I’ve got to go, Matt; we’re not far away now. I’ll call you later before you go to bed and let you know what’s going on.”

“Okay, Holls, love you.”

“I love you too,” I say to Matt, but I’m looking at Jay. His eyes are focused on mine as I hang up the phone. I break his gaze, dropping my phone back into my bag and leaning back into the seat.

“Matt’s coming out on tomorrow’s flight. He said he’ll be able to help you and Stefan.”

“That’s good of him.” He pauses. “When are you next here, Holly? We’ve been so busy you haven’t even told me yet.”

“I, um…” My hands are clammy as I brace myself for his reaction. “I’ve actually got leave booked, I had to book it months ago.”

“For how long, Holly?” Jay’s voice has a hard edge to it.

“Two weeks,” I say and hold my breath.

“No way!” he snaps. “Not happening.”

“I can’t cancel it now, Jay.”

“Holly, I’ve just got you back after you went silent on me. I’m not spending another two weeks without seeing you again.” His grip has tightened on my hand and the knuckles on his other hand are turning white. “Spend it here.”


“Spend your leave here, in LA.”

He wants me to spend my leave here? With him? Every day for two whole weeks. We’ve spent a fair bit of time together but never for more than a few days in a row.

“I guess I could.” I don’t have any other plans, except a visit to my parents and I can see them afterward… “Okay, if you’re sure?”

“Holly, I’ve never been surer of anything.” He keeps his eyes on the road but his grip on my hand softens and he strokes mine with his thumb. “We’ll see what state the house is in and if necessary, I will book us into a hotel.”

“Okay, I’ll ring staff travel later and book a ticket.”

“When will it be?”

“I don’t know. They’re standby tickets so it depends how full the flights are and who else has a higher boarding priority.”

“You don’t even know if you’ll get a seat on the flight?” Jay frowns.

“No, you’re never safe on staff travel until the door shuts and you push back from the departure gate,” I say. I’ve seen many staff get comfy only to be offloaded at the last minute.

Jay’s jaw stiffens. “I’m booking you a ticket.”

“No, Jay, there’s no need.”

“There’s every need, Holly. I will charter a fucking rocket to get you here if I have to,” he snaps.

I’m not going to argue back. He’s made up his mind. He must be so stressed about the house and this is something that’s in his control that he can fix. I need to let him do it.

“Okay, thank you,” I say, running my free hand up his forearm and snaking it around his bicep, before leaning across and resting my head against his arm.

He lets out a big breath and relaxes under my touch. He needs me right now and hell, I’m going to be there for him.

There’s a police car in the driveway as we pull through the gates of Jay’s house. Apart from that, nothing looks out of place outside, but it’s when we get to the front door that the level of what’s happened really hits.

Jay’s arm goes around me as I gasp. Everything has been turned upside down. It’s like the house was lifted, turned over, and shook hard. The drawers of the hall table are on the floor, their contents scattered. Beyond the foyer in the living area the sofa cushions are all over the floor, and all the kitchen cupboards are open, their contents thrown out.

“Jeez,” Jay lets out a low moan.

“Hey, guys.” Stefan comes in from the back deck where two police officers are standing and talking. He hugs us both. His eyes are red, faint dark circles underneath them. “They’ve finished dusting for prints so you’re safe to touch things.” He sighs. “I’m sorry, man.”

“Thanks, bud.” Jay pats him on the back. “Thanks for being here and taking care of it all.”

Stefan shakes his head. “I wish I could have done more. I sent Maggie home; she was just getting more upset staying here.”

I look down. The beautiful flowers she always arranges for the hall table are strewn across the floor, trampled over, their vase smashed into tiny fragments of crystal, glittering in the light.

“You did the right thing,” Jay reassures him.

“The police said the alarm was deactivated. They knew what they were doing.” Stefan’s shoulders drop. “They’ll want to talk to you.” He gestures to the two officers out back.

“Of course.” Jay takes my hand and leads us carefully through all the broken glass and debris, out to the rear deck.

“Hello, Mr. Anderson, Miss Havers. I’m Detective Hooper and this is Officer Kane.” The female detective doesn’t smile. I take in her short dark hair and straight posture. She’s confident and commanding. She reaches out to shake Jay’s hand and then mine; her younger male colleague does the same.

“We’ve got some questions to ask if you don’t mind,” she says as Officer Kane stands next to her and reaches into his pocket, taking out a book and pen, ready to take notes.

“Sure,” Jay says, his hand going up to rub his eyes. I find his other hand and take it in mine, squeezing gently.

“Your friend Stefan tells us you were at your parents’ house last night?” She recites the address and Jay nods.

“Yes, we left here about eleven yesterday morning, spent the night there. My phone ran out of battery and I didn’t get the messages until this morning.”

She nods as Officer Kane writes in his pad.

“We’ve already spoken to your housekeeper, Maggie, and to Stefan. They don’t seem to think there’s anything missing, but we’d like you to look around and confirm that.”

“Of course,” Jay replies.

“Nothing missing? Isn’t that a bit weird?” I ask. “Don’t people usually break in to steal things?”

Detective Hooper looks at me.

“Yes, that’s usually the case, which is why we wanted you both to have a think about whether there’s anything you can think of that might explain why someone would break in or what they might have been looking for.”

“I have no idea,” Jay says blankly.

“Jay,” I murmur, “you don’t think that guy I saw at my hotel is connected to this, do you?”

“What guy?” the detective asks.

“There was a guy outside my hotel yesterday morning and the night before. I thought he might have been watching me. I just had a weird feeling about it.”

“Our friend, Cooper, he’s the valet there, he said he was going to check the CCTV,” Jay says.

“We’ll check it out,” she says. “Stefan logged us into yours and they’re checking it now. Kane, see how they’re getting on, would you?”

Kane disappears inside toward Jay’s office and we stand there in silence, waiting for him to return. The detective doesn’t seem the least bit uncomfortable about no one speaking. Officer Kane comes back a few minutes later.

“We might have something.”

We follow him into Jay’s office where Stefan is with another officer on Jay’s computer.

“Here,” the other male officer says. “We’ve got him coming in at half past midnight.”

My stomach lurches at the footage on Jay’s computer. There’s a guy, all in black with a black cap on, searching through each of the rooms in the house. He’s throwing things about and moving on to the next when he doesn’t find whatever it is he’s looking for. We watch him disappear into Jay’s walk-in closet, where there’s no camera. I look up at Jay and he looks murderous. His arms are folded over his chest and he’s breathing heavily, his jaw clenched hard. Whatever it is that he thinks the guy is looking for or possibly even found, he’s furious about it.

The police leave, taking a copy of the CCTV recording with them. Then it’s just me, Jay, and Stefan.

“The press have already got wind of this,” Stefan exhales, putting his hands behind his head and stretching his back out. “I’m getting call after call asking for a quote.”

“New travels fast,” Jay says flatly, looking around at the mess in the open living area.

I go to the utility room and grab a broom and roll of trash bags. “I’ll start in the kitchen,” I say and start sweeping up the broken glass, which covers the floor.

“Holly, don’t,” Jay says. “I’ll sort it. I need to take you back to the hotel. You need a rest before your flight this afternoon.”

“Like I could sleep now,” I huff. “Come on. I’ve got at least two more hours before I need to even think about going back. We can make a start.” I keep sweeping, determined to do something to help, even if it’s only this.

“Fine, I know better than to argue with you when your mind’s made up.” Jay manages a small smile as he leans down and kisses me on my lips.

“Good. You’re learning,” I wink at him and press the roll of trash bags into his chest. “You start in there.” I motion toward the living area where Stefan is on the phone again. By the sounds of it, he’s fielding another press call.

We all work quietly alongside each other and before I know it, we’ve been at it for a couple of hours. The kitchen is almost back to normal. Everything that wasn’t broken has been put away. The cupboards are all back in order, and the floor swept and mopped.

Jay’s made good progress in the entryway and living area too. The pictures on the walls are all straightened; drawers and their contents are all back in their rightful places, and the sofa has been put back together.

“You know, if you ever feel like retiring from acting, I’m pretty sure you could give Maggie a run for her money,” I say as I walk over to him and wrap an arm around his waist. He pulls me into his side and his soft lips brush against my temple.

“Thank you, Holly.” His breath is warm against my skin.

“For what?” I lean into him and close my eyes as the familiar citrus and earthy scent comforts me.

“You, just being here and helping. I really appreciate it.”

“Of course I’m going to stay and help. Listen, this is nothing compared to the state of the plane after a full Orlando flight. Excited kids, too many fizzy drinks and sweets do not mix.” I smile, looking up at him.

Jay smiles back at me; his eyes hold mine and my heart beats faster in response. I would do anything to make him feel better right now. I feel his pain like it’s my own.

“I think the downstairs is almost sorted,” Stefan says, walking up from the office. “It’s a good thing you’re not a hoarder, Jay, or this would have been a much bigger job.”

“We haven’t started upstairs yet,” Jay jokes, rubbing his hand across his eyes.

“I can do that,” Stefan says. “You need to get Holly back.”

I look at my watch; he’s right. I need to go back and pack for the flight home. I want to stay and help; leaving now couldn’t have come at a worse time. I look up at Jay.

“I’m sorry.” I swallow down the lump in my throat.

“Hey, it’s okay, you’ll be coming straight back.” Jay presses his nose into my hair.

“Yeah, we got you on the flight the day after tomorrow,” Stefan says. I have the urge to hug him, and he laughs as I grab him. “You’re welcome, Holly.”

“Thank you, Stefan.” I look into his tired eyes. “I feel awful leaving you guys now.”

“We’ll be fine. You’ll not even be able to tell anything happened when you come back. I’ve got the alarm guys booked in later. They’re going to upgrade the whole system.”

“Great. There’s no way this can happen again,” Jay says firmly. “If I get my hands on the guy, I’ll rip his head off.”

“It’s weird that nothing was taken. I still can’t understand what they were doing here,” I say.

Jay clears his throat. “Come on, I’ll get you back to the hotel.”

I give Stefan another hug goodbye and we head out the door.

When we pull up outside the hotel, Detective Hooper and Officer Kane are talking to Cooper at the valet station.

“Do you think he found anything?” I look across at Jay.

“One way to find out.” Jay opens his door and comes around to open mine. Even when he’s stressed out, he’s still such a gentleman.

Coop looks up as we reach them, but Detective Hooper talks first.

“We’ve found something interesting on the CCTV.” She gestures to the screen at his station. “Seems you were right, Miss Havers. Someone was watching you.”

“Really?” My hand flies over my mouth. Jay’s arm wraps around my waist, supporting me.

“Look here.” She points at the screen. “That logo on the sleeve of his sweatshirt? Matches one we saw on the CCTV from Mr. Anderson’s house. It’s the same guy.”

I narrow my eyes at the image on screen. There’s some kind of sports logo on the sleeve, barely visible.

“We got a good shot from the house footage. The station is running it through facial recognition as we speak.”

“I can’t believe this. Who is he?” Nausea churns my stomach as I try to process it. “Why is someone following me?” I look to Jay, wide-eyed as a cold sweat breaks out on my skin.

“It’s okay, Holly. I won’t let anything happen to you.” His voice is deep, reassuring. I look up into his eyes and they’re concerned. I know he’s trying to make sense of all this too.

Detective Hooper’s phone beeps and we all watch silently as she reads it. She turns the screen toward me and Jay. There’s a picture of a middle-aged man on it with shaggy dark-brown hair.

“Does he look familiar?”

I shake my head. “I don’t think so. Should he?”

“Hang on, yeah.” Jay studies the photo closely. “I’m pretty sure he’s a reporter. He was at the restaurant I took you to on our first date.”

I’m amazed at Jay’s memory, and a tiny sprinkle of joy at him referring to it as our first date warms me.

“His name’s Ryan Baker, and yes, you’re right; he’s a reporter. Known to us for his less than honorable ways of getting a story, shall we say?” Detective Hooper says, her face scowling at his picture.

“We’ve already got a unit heading to his address to bring him in. See what he’s got to say for himself. I’ll give you a call when we have an update.” She gives me a small smile. It’s the first time I’ve seen her look less than stern. She nods to Jay and Cooper before she and Officer Kane head back to their car.

“This is crazy, man,” Coop says. “At least you know it was probably just some desperate attempt at getting a good story.”

“Why break into Jay’s house though? What did he think he was going to find?” I shake my head, not understanding any of this.

“Dunno. Who knows how these guys think? Go through your trash and all sorts looking for an exclusive.” Coop shrugs.

“We’ll get to the bottom of it, Holly.” Jay rubs his hand up and down my arm where goosebumps have formed.

“Yeah, okay.” I don’t feel convinced though. “I need to go pack. The crew pickup is in an hour,” I groan, putting my hands over my face. The last thing I feel like doing now is putting on my uniform and working the long night flight home.

“I’ll come with you. I can get a ticket for the flight at the airport and fly back with you the day after tomorrow,” Jay says.

I shake my head. “No, no, there’s no need for that. You’ve got enough to do back here, at the house…and the police might have more news.”

“None of that matters, Holly. I need to know you’re okay.”

“I am, I promise. I’ll be busy on the flight and it’ll keep my mind off it. Rach will be home when I get back and I’ll be packing and coming straight back more or less.”

Jay doesn’t look convinced.

“Really, I’ll be fine. You’ll barely notice I’m gone.”

“I doubt that,” he says, his eyes catching mine. “Come on, I’ll walk you up to your room.”

“I’ll see you soon, Coop.” I lean over and give him a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for us.”

“Hey, don’t mention it.” He blushes. “What are friends for, eh?”

“Thanks, man, we mean it.” Jay shakes his hand, and then we head up to my room.

My heart sinks in my chest. I can’t believe it’s time to say goodbye again already.


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