The Retreat


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Title and Copyright










A Tale Of Two Hearts








This is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.



Thank you to my husband for putting up with my writing for hours on end. 

Thank you to my Daniel for all his help and inspiration. 

Thank you to both of them for their encouragement.

And a special thanks to Anne Rice

for her encouragement and advice.






Cover art by Daniel B. Chains

Copyright © 2015


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Copyright © 2015, Sam Marie

This is Rosie Jones writing to you all.  I am sending this out to the interwebs, hoping it will help us find our dearest Katie.  She has been missing for a couple of months, and we are devastated.

I live with my husband, my sisters and our baby, at “The Resort”.  We are part of the family who runs this beautiful ranch in the middle of nowhere, California.  The Resort is a place for people who want to escape the rat race, and give country living a try.  This has been a large thriving place for many years now.  Lately things have slowed down; I am glad we have the ranch as backup.  We all work together to keep this place going.  I will just say, it had better times, and so have we. 

Things were just fine, and our family was growing strong, everything was perfect; almost like some fantastic storybook.  Katie and I have been as close as people can be to each other, for many years now.  It is thanks to her that we are here now, in this beautiful place with such loving wonderful people.  She always has been my everything; I can’t imagine life without her.  I should have known things would not last; it was too good to be true.

It has been a rough month so far.  Peter was gone to train with the Army, and I live here with my husband, my two sisters, and Peter’s parents.  Peter is Katie’s husband, and my dearest friend and part time lover.  Peter came back from training to find Katie was gone.  She was looking forward to seeing him; she has missed him terribly, and had a very hard coping with his absence.  We were all looking forward to going to pick him up at the airport that Saturday.  Katie didn’t return the previous Sunday evening from her weekend in San Diego.  She was supposed to be visiting her aunt. 

We became concerned when it started getting late.  Katie was not answering her phone, so we called Aunt Lucy.   She told us that she has not seen Katie in months. 

None of us had any idea of where she was going to on the weekends.  She had been leaving on the weekends for a few months now.  She kept saying she was going to San Diego to visit Aunt Lucy.  Now thinking back, I should have paid attention.  I have been so busy with our new baby Ivan and my new husband.  I was distracted, and didn’t realize something was off.  Mom and dad were so preoccupied with trying to keep The Resort afloat; and Alex, my husband has been helping them.  We all got so wrapped up in our own situations, that we didn’t see it.

Katie was feeling lonely when Peter left.  I was there for her for a few days; after that, the baby kept me busy and I figured Katie would get over it.  We all thought that since we were here, and she wasn’t alone, she would be OK eventually.  But we were wrong; she went from bad to worse.  Mom took her to the doctor, and she came back medicated.  But the medications were not working right and she still had panic attacks.  I took her back a few times, other times mom took her.  The doctor kept adjusting the medications, and she was seeing a psychiatrist.  One day she ended up taking too many Xanax at night, and gave us a good scare.  I still remember her stumbling to our little house, which is behind the big house where she lived with mom, dad, and my sisters.  She was in her white nightgown, which was all torn and dirty.  She looked like some crazy ghost coming out of the dark.  I was in the front porch with Alex, and it was late at night.  The baby had finally fallen asleep, so we sat outside for a while. 

When we saw her, Alex ran to her and I followed.  She said she was looking for Peter, and he must be home.  We tried to tell her he isn’t here, and she doesn’t live here anymore; their home is the big house now.  “Peter is in training with the Army and will be back soon,” we told her.  We thought she had been drinking, but she told us that she did a bad thing.  When we asked what happened, she said she could not sleep, so she took the pills.  We asked what pills, and that is when she opened her hand in front of us and offered us the empty bottle.  She whimpered “help me?”  That is when I felt my blood go cold.

I ran to get the phone and dialed 911. When I came back, she was sitting on the ground outside in front of the house, and Alex was trying to make her throw up by putting his fingers down her throat. I was shaking, it was a terrible night.  How should I deal with seeing the person I had always looked up to, as a frail lost soul?  She was my rock, my angel, my love.  How do I process this?  My heart was breaking.

The ambulance took her, and they considered it an overdose, so they kept her three days in the hospital.  At the risk of sounding cold and calculating, I will say that I am glad that my sisters didn’t witness any of it.  We told them Katie was sick and had to go to the hospital.

 When we brought Katie back home, she said she was all right now and she said she felt terrible about what she had done.  She promised not to ever do that again. 

Katie seemed fine, but seems she was irritable, not her usual self.  She started swearing and whispering to herself a lot.  Each time I caught a bit of it, I would ask her what’s going on; she would say “nothing”.  One day I actually asked her, “what did you say?”  She insisted that she said nothing at all.

She started distancing herself from me, and later from mom and dad as well.  I tried to include her in activities with Alex and the children, she sometimes joined us.  But later on she started spending too much time in her room. I should have paid attention and seen the signs. 

Why didn’t we see it?  Why didn’t we do something?  She was changing, and we didn’t pay attention.  Even the way she dressed when she left for the weekend was not like her.  She never dressed in black like that.  I saw her leave wearing a dark burgundy skirt, knee high boots, and a black corset she had covered up with a little shirt.  Her clothes and her makeup made her look dark, almost as if she as headed out to hang out at the dungeon.  We have not been there in quite a while; and I know she wouldn’t go there alone.  But she certainly wasn’t going to see her aunt dressed like that.  I didn’t want to alarm mom and dad, so I kept it to myself.  I guess in the back of my mind I thought maybe she was seeing a man on the side.  I didn’t really want to know if she was; so I let her keep telling them she was visiting her aunt.  I was so wrong; I should have not covered up any of it.

 I will say, that even with all her changes, she never took the collar Peter placed on her off.  Even when she shut us out and waned to be in her room alone; even when she left us for the weekend and came back looking worn out and tired.  She always smiled when she touched her collar.  You can see in her eyes that she would be in her happy place. When she touched, it her eyes sparkled a little.

I wish we could have stopped her from leaving on the weekends.  I wish she would have talked to me, maybe it was my fault.  I didn’t try hard enough to get through to her.  Maybe it was all of us; one of us should have told Peter something was wrong.  We thought it would blow over and things would be all right.  We didn’t want to worry Peter while he was trying to get his training done.

Well, all I can do now is publish her journal, in hopes to show the world that Katie is loved.  Peter said it was OK with him, even though many entries are his.  He said that if it helps bring her back, it wouldn’t bother him one bit.  He just wants our beloved Katie back. 

Alex and I were mentioned in it as well, on some very personal situations.  We don’t mind really, now none of that matters.  I truly believe Katie didn’t just leave, because her Peter was coming home.  She had been waiting five months for his return.  Why on God’s green earth would she leave voluntarily? 

The police have done so much; they questioned some people mentioned at the end of the journal.  I read the whole journal, and so did they.  We were able to figure out where she was going on the weekends, and who she was with.  Unfortunately, her friend Kiera has not been located either.  There have been flyers and posters all over.  I have shared a post on Facebook with her picture, hoping to get some information.  All we get is duds, nothing solid to follow.

Peter has been looking for Katie; he went to Mexico to see her family, hoping for some answers.  He didn’t find anything that would help us find her.  Peter and I went to San Diego, and went to the places they used to visit.  We found nothing, not a thing.  We placed posters at the beaches we used to go to, and at the strip bars all over town.

Maybe someone has seen her.  This is Katie’s story, please help us find her.  If you took her, please read this, and get to know the Katie we know and love so much.  Please return her to us.

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Chapter 1

A life turned upside down

My life just went all to hell in a hand basket. What happened to me? How did I get here? I sit here all alone and feeling like I lost everything. I am left here wondering why I am even alive.

I will write in this journal to keep my memories, if I live through it all, I will remember that I got through it. If I don’t make it, someone will know what was in my heart. If you are reading now, thank you. I am lying on a bed in a boarding school in the middle of Mexico. The summer seems so long, and I have been reflecting on my life while the warm sun melts down in the horizon at the end of each day. I wonder where I will be in 3 years, what will become of me? Will I still be here?

Hello, my name is Katie; I was named after my mother, Katherine. Unfortunately she is long gone, she left me while I was still trying to grow up and figure out who I am. Yes I get it, it was not planned, and she didn’t leave on purpose; she was ripped out of my life forever a few years ago.

I should start at the beginning. I grew up in San Diego, and had a happy childhood. I had a mom who loved me dearly, and my nanny, who took care of me while mom was working so she could give us the best life possible. I was going to school in Imperial Beach and had a few good friends. Mom took me to visit my family in Guadalajara each summer. I had many aunts, uncles, and cousins; it was wonderful to see them all each year.

My mom didn’t believe in acquiring money or possessions. She believed in saving for my future, so I could go to college one day, and become whatever I set up myself to be in the future. She left me something much more valuable than money when she left; she left me some basic building blocks in life. She said I could be whatever I wanted to be, and I should never limit myself. She also taught me not to compare myself to others, I am me, not an imitation of anyone else, and I am unique. There will always be someone better than me and someone worse than me and comparing myself or others doesn’t produce anything positive. I am just me, and I shall love myself as I am, and try to be the best me I can be.

I had everything I would need while growing up and was exposed to learning experiences as she saw fit. We traveled to places she thought I should see while I had a chance. We visited beautiful places, pyramids in the middle of a jungle, a mine deep within a mountain, and beaches of pure white powdery sand. I saw beauty in the world and in people. She showed me how other people lived, ones in beautiful rich neighborhoods and ones that had nothing and lived in a shack. I have been in incredibly beautiful homes, and spent nights in homes that seemed to be dropped at the edge of the earth. I saw so many things and learned so much.

She passed away from a sudden heart attack when I was 12; it happened while she was at work. But I don’t want to remember the sad times; I want to remember her as she was before that. I want to remember the good times, the love, and the time we spent together. We used to spend the weekends together, listening to the music she loved while doing laundry. We always went to church on Sundays, and sometimes I was allowed to pick a different one, just for a change of pace. I want to remember those days filled with golden sunlight that poured in through my window like warm honey. I want to remember the honeysuckle’s scent invading our home in the summer, and the Magnolias set nicely on top of the piano when in the tree was in bloom.

Those were the wonderful times that flashed by, bright like a fireball streaking through the sky and gone too soon, leaving behind only memories. I have always been afraid that memories are like footprints in the sand; and that they will fade away with time and I will lose them all.

When my mom died, I was picked up from school by her best friend and her husband. They talked to me but didn’t go much into detail. I was taken to my house to pick up my puppy, little Sugar, (a miniature poodle that looked like a little playful marshmallow). All I could think is that she can’t stay home alone. I was still in shock and confused about what was going on. I was taken to my mom’s best friend’s home to stay as I was told “for the night”. I stayed awake that night, smelling the blankets that were not mine. I had to sleep alone, since my puppy had to sleep outside. I stared into the darkness wondering what happened, and what would happen next. I was taught to not question God’s will, so I didn’t. I tried to justify what happened, thinking God was teaching me a lesson, or that he needed another angel. I was just still in denial, I kept thinking I’d wake up and it would all be a bad dream. Maybe the next day we can go to my house and find my mom there as if nothing had changed; it had to be a big mistake.

The next day, I was whisked away by my mom’s family. My aunt Martha and my uncle Felix (my mom’s brother and sister) came to pick me up. Aunt Lila took me back to the house. I was told I could not take anything with me, not my toys, not my puppy, nothing. My aunt Martha helped me pack some changes of clothes. She said we were flying to Guadalajara, and I would be allowed only 2 suitcases on the plane. I cried and cried because I just wanted to stay home, to wait my mom and my nanny. It hurt to leave Sugar; she was all I had left. I couldn’t even bear hug her goodbye; I was assured they would find her a loving home. We left for the airport soon after. My aunt took me to Guadalajara, and my uncle stayed behind to take care of “things”.

I stayed at my Aunt Martha’s house for a few months, it was summer, and my cousins were home. I still felt so alone, so devastated. What now? I begged to go back home, I felt so helpless. My cousins went about their lives as usual, going with their dad in the mornings to help him at work, and I stayed at home. I was told a lady helps with the chores at home, and they were doing “boy’s work”. So I tried to help my aunt with the chores and even tried my hand at cooking. Cooking helped me feel like the world was pausing and all I had to think about was that recipe. I could focus on it, and not on my problems. My reward was to watch people enjoy it. It was one of those things that saved some of my sanity.

After the summer was over, I was sent to Guadalajara. I was to stay at my cousin’s house, with her and her husband. My cousin Sofia was a tall redhead, with bright blue eyes, and curly red hair. She was beautiful, and had always been good to me. I was happy to have been sent there, I had no idea how wrong I was. She and her husband Hector welcomed me, and set me up in their spare room. It was to stay almost as bare for the whole year I spend there. The room contained a single bed with an orange bed spread, a plain desk to one side, and a chair. I had a few clothes in the closet and that was it. It was as bare as a hotel room would have been, but I was grateful to be there. I was warned that my only other option was an orphanage. That frightened me, because all I could think of was that movie, Oliver Twist. I dreaded brushing toilets and scrubbing floors, Sofia made sure she painted a grim picture. She said I need to be a good girl, or I’d end up in the orphanage scrubbing toilets with my bare hands.

Sofia immediately set the rules for me. I was to wake up and log everything I did in a notebook she gave me. “At 7 am wake up, at 7:03 I went to the bathroom, at 7:05 I came out of the bathroom”, my whole day had to be logged in that precise manner. I was allowed 3 minutes to use the bathroom, 5 minutes for a shower. I was wondering how long I’d have to do this for; I thought it was a test of some sort. I figured if I do it right she would relax the rules later on.

I was enrolled in a high school. I was surprised to see how different this place was. So proper, and all the kids were so serious and well behaved; it was intimidating. The nuns were alright, seemed kind, but also very proper and serious. They rushed around quietly in black habits and soft soled shoes that allowed them to pop up anywhere without notice. Children walked quietly down the halls to the classrooms in their blue plaid uniforms. They all looked the same, they wore impeccable uniforms that looked so perfectly starched, and their white shirts so bright and ironed to perfection. This was an all girls school, no boys; boys seemed to have been labeled “dangerous”, and not allowed in the high school. “They are trouble” I was told by a nun when I came in to be enrolled at the beginning.

I was so excited to start school in a “grown up” school. When I just came to live with my cousin and her husband, Sofia used to take me out to the park in the evenings sometimes, to sit and talk and have ice cream with her. I thought we were off on a good foot; that is until school started. I struggled with the language; the text books had a language form that was too high register for me, and I fell behind fast. The school had no way of getting me help to catch up, or even tell me what was expected. I had no way of knowing what to do, and things went from bad to worse. My grades were dropping fast and I felt so lost.

I was soon to find out Sofia was not as nice as she seemed. Her temper showed itself the first time I failed to finish washing the dishes after dinner on time. I was moping the floor, just finishing up, when I looked up and saw her at the kitchen door. She said I was late, I had half hour to clean up the kitchen and it was 35 minutes now. She told me to take the mop and put it outside, then come back. I did immediately, seeing how she seemed so angry, I was getting worried. I came back in and she grabbed me by the arm, half dragged me upstairs to her room, grabbed a belt that was folded in half, sitting on her bed, and she started swinging it. She was hitting me wherever it landed. I tried to get away, but made things worse. I had never been hit with anything before; my mom didn’t have a reason to hit me; she never got angry at me like this. The worse that I had happen with my mom was that she would be disappointed because I kept failing at math. Disappointing her was painful to me, but this was a whole different thing that was happening now. I was a bit freaked out by it, and had no idea this could even happen. Do people do this? Is it normal?

I made a big mistake trying to talk to one of the nuns at school, asking for help. I explained what happened, and hoped she would help me. I expected to see shock in her face, instead she seemed calm. She told me I need to bring my grades up and be a better child. She said that at my age, it was my duty to go to school and get good grades; was that too much to ask? Then I realized when I got home, that she had talked to Sofia, so I got more beatings that night; I learned to keep things to myself from then on.

I quickly learned to stay under the radar, and try to stay safe from the dreaded belt. I was not allowed to have friends or go anywhere like the other students. I was to go to school every day and come directly home; I had chores and then dinner. After dinner I had more chores, wash dishes, do my laundry out in the patio. I had to iron and fold clothes a few times a week. Sofia would go out every evening, at 4 pm. I was to do all these things and then go to my room and do my homework.

I had a terrible time concentrating on my homework, I don’t know if it had to do with the language, or I was just a little slow. My grades kept falling, and I was labeled a dumb-ass and told I didn’t deserve to be like the other kids; so no TV for me, no outings, no friends. I had a radio in my room, I was allowed to use that, and music became my refuge.

At school, the other girls were kind to me; they said I had a good heart. They shared their lunch with me, since I was not given any. They included me in their conversations and I was even elected to be a cheer leader for the volleyball team. Later on my friends helped me obtain permission to go “practice” at the school in the evening once a week, on Thursdays. I was to be at the school from 5 to 6 pm. They made up this special practice session to get me out of the house, which now felt like a prison. I will never forget their kindness; they could have just as easily made fun of me, or bullied me for being different.




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