Chapter 7: Details
Every word comes out in gasps. The heat of her tears could be felt in her throat, the pain of crying burning her voice. Her body aches from lack of sleep and from trying to keep her eyes open. She has been crying for days. Out of guilt, disbelief, and missing.
“Brielle, I know this is difficult for you”, Hotchner said, empathy clouding his judgement, “but I need you to tell me what you can remember about that night and Daniella”.
She looks up at him, noticing his attentiveness. She shuffles in her seat.
“She was visiting me. She was stressed and just wanted a break”, she starts, wiping her nose on her sleeve, “She just wanted a break and to come home. It was my idea to go to Larkin’. She’s gone because of me”.
She muffles her cries in her arms. Hotchner’s body softens along with his eyes, as he inches closer to her. Placing a hand on her knee, he convinces her to look up at him.
“Brielle, this is not your fault. The only person to blame is the person who hurt Daniella. But we cannot find this man without your help.”
The young woman wipes her tears with her shirt sleeve, stuttering out some breaths. Aaron’s knees gently touch the floor as his hands move to the girls biceps. After a few minutes, Brielle had resumed a normal breathing pattern, prompting Aaron to ask, “Do you want to tell me what she’s like”?
Brielle blurts out a humorous scoff saying, “She was hilarious. Such a firecracker”, before she looks to the side to find the right words.
“She wouldn’t take crap from anyone, never afraid to put someone in their place. She was uh, was talking to this guy online once, and she called it off because he kept asking her to ‘visit’ him, even though she wanted to meet in a public place first to make sure he wasn’t a creep”, she chuckled.
“She seemed smart”.
Brielle takes a deep breath. Her eyes squeeze shut, in an effort to keep the tears away. Her face shifts toward her lap, as her hands engulf each other. In a voice barely stitched together, she asks, “How did this happen to her”?
Hotchner’s heart slips into his stomach, the same way it did when he had to tell Jack his mother would not be home anymore. The pain of losing someone you love drains you, but seeing your child go through it? That damn near killed Aaron; and seeing it unfold for someone else brings those sleepless nights back.
“That’s what we’re going to figure out”, he told her, his lips curling up slightly. He hopes no one on the team sees, he would not hear the end of it.
Soon after, the door to the room creaks open. The man who enters is tall, medium build, with a tattoo on his right arm. Initially, he startles Brielle.
Hotchner notices and says, “Brielle, this is my colleague Matt. He and I want to try a cognitive interview to help you remember the night you last saw Daniella, would that be alright”?
Although unsure, she nods, prompting Matt to sit across from her.
He says, “Alright Brielle, let’s start by closing your eyes”.
She folds them shut as she listens to Matt speak. “Take a few deep breaths...relax your body...good. Now I want you to think about that night, what were you guys doing before the bar”?
The evening chill dances across her skin with the memory, “We had just left a restaurant, we ordered appetizers”.
“Was it happy hour”?
“It was”, she laughed.
Matt asks more trivial questions to make her immersed and comfortable. After some affirmations, Matt asks, “Okay, Brielle, is anyone there who is bothering you two? Or just one of you”?
She thinks about the bar, the red hues of the lights not helping her tipsy vision. The firmness of multiple bodies pressing on her back as she and Daniella squeezed past the crowd. How the sweat of others lingered longer than desired. One of the bodies was a guy, sporting a white tank top and blond hair. He bumped into Brielle and apologized.
“There was one guy who wanted to buy her drinks. He was really persistent, and drunk”, she started, her face contorting to find the answers.
“How did Daniella react”?
“She flirted with him a little bit, but he got too handsy and she told him to back off”, Brielle rambled, “But another guy pushed him away”.
“Did this other guy pursue one of you”?
“No he just left, I think he apologized on behalf of him. He seemed nice”.
Hotch nods and asks, “How persistent was the first guy”?
“He started getting loud. Practically threw a temper tantrum”, Brielle said, pausing as the color slowly left her face, “Oh my god, it’s him isn’t it”?!
“It’s possible, but it’s too soon to know”, He assured, keeping his voice gentle and steady.
“Do you know what he looked like? What he was wearing”?
“Yes, he was wearing a black t-shirt. He had brown hair, white. Built. Just looked like a drunk frat guy”.
Aaron provides a nod, thanking Brielle for her time. “We are going to find him Brielle”, he reassured, standing up with her and escorting her out of the room.
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