Sam turned the doorknob to Colleen’s house and found it locked. Pulling out her keys, she inserted it into the lock and as she inched it open, screamed when the alarm rang out.
“Shit! Shit! Stop it! Stop making that noise!” Staring at the alarm keypad, Sam tried to remember the code.
“I have a gun and I’m not afraid to—Sam?”
“Yeah, it’s me. Shut this damn thing off.”
As Colleen rushed past her to shut off the alarm, Sam noticed she wore her robe and pajamas.
“What on earth are you doing here so late?”
“It’s barely ten, Colleen. Where’s the gun?”
“What? Oh…,” Colleen, laughed as she pulled up a small plastic pistol. “It’s not real.”
“Jesus, Colleen. If you’re going to threaten someone who just broke into your home with a gun, it should at least look real. Better yet, stay in your room and call the cops. Jesus!” Sam shook her head.
“Why are you here, Sam?” Colleen tucked the fake pistol in her robe pocket.
“I need to use your computer.”
Colleen stared at Sam for a few moments, eyes blinking rapidly. “I’m sorry to barge in on you at such a late hour, sis,” she said sarcastically, catching Sam’s attention as she marched toward the stairs.
“It’s not that late.”
“It’s ten in the evening.”
“Oh, well, hell.” Sam rolled her eyes. “Jesus Colleen, live a little.” She continued toward the stairs to Colleen’s office on the second floor.
“Some of us have to be up at six to work.”
“That’s fine, go to bed. I don’t need you. I just need your computer.”
“I feel so loved. You know, it would be much easier if you were to buy your own computer.”
Sam shrugged as she pushed the door open, the scent of books, an all too familiar one. “Sure, I could do that, but then you’d never see me.” Sam went straight for the computer.
“What are you looking for?”
Sam booted up the computer, tapping her hands restlessly on the freshly dusted computer stand. Her sister was too meticulous. “I was going over the names on the list Mrs. Donaldson gave me, trying to find a connection, and getting nowhere fast. Then I started thinking, what if other kids were missing as well.” She tapped on the keyboard typing in her request. “This should help us.” Sam watched as the local missing children’s website popped up on screen. With eyes narrowed, Sam shook her head. “Tell me how twelve kids went missing in the past year and we’ve heard nothing about it?”
“Doesn’t seem right, does it,” Colleen remarked sadly.
“No, it certainly doesn’t. Though some of these are classified as parental abductions, that still leaves eight kids that were taken by someone else.”
“You would think the police would notify the city, warn parents of the possibility of an abductor in our fair city.”
“You would think.” Hitting the print button, Sam turned to her sister. “Maybe it’s time that happened.”
“What are you going to do?”
Sam clicked on the first name on the list, which brought her to the website dedicated to Gregory Anton and all his information. “Find out more about these kids and if there’s a connection.”
“That could take all night?”
“I told you to go to bed.”
Colleen pulled her chair a little closer. “And how am I supposed to sleep now, knowing so many innocent kids have been snatched away from their families?”
Smiling, Sam laid her hand over her sisters. “Then I suggest you start a pot of coffee.” She turned back to the computer and hit print on Gregory’s information. It was going to be a long night.
At just past three in the morning Sam dropped face first onto her bed. Colleen had collapsed two hours earlier, but Sam hadn’t been ready to call it a night yet.
She was more than ready now, and was whisked away to the dark damp ground where a young girl had died so horribly.
“I’m trying to help you, Alexis, but it would help if you could tell me who did this to you.”
Again she drew the initials, D.B. in the ground.
“Is this the man that killed you?” Alexis nodded and suddenly the ground beneath her began to rumble. Losing he footing, Sam fell and before she could sit back up, a hand clutched onto her arm. She screamed, fought it away only to have another grab her leg. One by one, hands appeared from beneath the dirt to grab and claw at her.
Sam woke tangled in her covers, arms flailing. She took a deep breath when she realized she was safe and in her own bed. She could still feel the hands on her, clutching, clinging. She felt the panic, the desperation and she knew they too had met a horrible fate.
She rubbed her temples and knew without a shadow of a doubt she would have her hands full now.
There were more.
After a quick shower, Sam grabbed an apple and a bottle of water and headed out. The sensation of the hands grabbing her had not left. She felt sick with it and knew she needed to do more that simply match like victims from a computer printout. It was time to see what the police had to say. Entering the police station, Sam realized she had no idea who to talk to. Approaching the front desk, she put on her best friendly smile as she spoke to the receptionist. “Hi, how are you doing?”
“Just fine, thank you. How may I help you?”
“I saw a report on the recent missing children and I think I recognized one of the children. Who do I talk to about it?”
“You’ll want to speak to Detective Carson. Just go through those doors, down the hallway and to your left. He’d the second door in.”
“Thanks you!” Sam headed in the direction she’d been instructed, not completely sure what she was going to say, or how to go about it. She supposed she should have written some questions out beforehand, maybe taken some time to think things through.
With a heavy breath, she lifted her hand and knocked.
“Come,” A voice bellowed and Sam turned the knob and opened the door. “What?”
“Last time I looked. And you are?”
Wow, Mr. sunshine he isn’t. “Samantha Dowling. Do you have a minute to answer some questions?”
He didn’t bother to stand up from behind his desk but glared at her with dark eyes swollen and red on a round rough unshaven face. “Depends on the questions.”
She took the chance and walked into the office, but didn’t sit. “What’s being done to find the children that have gone missing this past year?” Might as well get right to it.
Two bushy eyebrows curled over his eyes in a frown. “Who told you to talk to me?”
“The woman at the front office. Do you have any leads on Alexis Donaldson’s disappearance?”
“Look, Miss…Dowling, was it?” She nodded and continued. “I assure you everything possible is being done to locate the Donaldson girl—”
“Her name was Alexis.”
His eyebrows fell again. “There’s no need for your concern.”
“What about the other children?”
“We’re working on it.”
“Is there a connection? Do you have any leads? Any suspects?”
He stood now and she was surprised by his height and girth. “Like I said, there’s no need for your concern.”
“I beg to differ. How is it eight children have gone missing in this past year alone yet no announcements have been made to warn parents that a serial abductor is loose in our city.”
“I think it’s time for you to leave, Miss Dowling.” He took her by the elbow and led her to the door.
“Do the initials, D.B. mean anything to you, Detective?”
“Good day, Miss Dowling.”
When the door closed in her face, Sam growled. How the hell was she supposed to get any answers?
Twenty minutes later she found herself pulling into her parent’s driveway and walking to the door.
“Dad, you here?”
“Upstairs in my office,” her father called out from the second floor.
Taking the steps by twos, her long legs eating up the space between, Sam rushed upstairs. Entering her father’s den, she found him in front of his computer, with something on the screen that looked an awful lot like work. “What are you doing?”
“Watching a raunchy porno.” Swiveling in his chair, he blocked the monitor with his body. “What brings you here in the middle of the day? No peaking.” He shifted a little more to block her view.
“Are you working?” He wasn't supposed to be working. He was supposed to be relaxing.
“No,” he said defensively.
“Yes you are. That was definitely work. I’m telling mom.”
“It wasn’t work, Samantha, and there is no need to go running to your mother. Now tell me what you’re doing here.”
Frowning, she dropped down onto the black leather sofa, the material crunching as she sunk in. “Help.”
“The cops won’t help me, and I keep hitting a brick wall, Alexis keeps coming to me and now there are more kids and no one seems to care and I’m getting nowhere fast,” she babbled breathlessly.
“You’ll have to excuse me, but I sent my Extra Sensory Perception to the dry cleaners. Pretend I’m oblivious and explain what you’re babbling about.”
Letting out a huff, Sam began. “I did some checking and there have been eight kids reported missing in the past year. I decided to go to the cops for some help—okay, answer—as to why this could be, and no one knows about it. They refused to help me. I’m at my wits end here. I’m frustrated and I need some sleep and a life and I didn’t want to bother you, what with your heart trouble, but—”
“Sam!” he cut her off with a sharp tone. “Relax, take a breath.”
She did, slowly. “How the hell do you do it?”
“Years of practice, sweetie. I started out like you once too.”
“How am I supposed to help these entities that come to me when I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing?”
“You’ve been doing just fine so far,” he reassured her.
“With your help.” She let out another long breath. “But I can’t involve you now because you’re not supposed to work and I don’t want to stress you out, but I just don’t know what to do.”
“Sam…” He pulled himself forward in his rolling chair and took her face in his hands. “If you don’t relax you’ll be the next one with a heart attack. I have contacts in the police department. I’ll see what information I can get for you. Okay?”
She was utterly relieved. And yet… “You’re not supposed to be working.”
“A few phone calls won’t kill me. It’s not a problem. Now relax.”
Her eyes drifted to the monitor on his desk and she caught a few lines of what he’d written. “Oh my God! You’re writing a story!”
He shot himself back to the desk and with a quick snap, shut the monitor off. “I’m just passing the time.”
She jumped up and despite his hands attempting to block her access; she clicked the screen back on. “It’s a horror story? How long have you been working on it? I want to read some of it.”
He pushed her away and clicked the monitor off again. “Samantha, you know daddy doesn’t like people looking at his unfinished work, so if you don’t want daddy ripping your arm off and slapping you around with it, you’ll drop it.”
“I’ll tell mom you’re doing this,” she threatened.
“Got love kids. Just when you think they’re all grown up and out of your hair, they come back and make you bald. She already knows about it. Now go away and do your work, honey, and let me do mine.”
“Can’t I read just a few chapters?”
“Samantha,” he warned with eyes narrowed.
“I’m going.” She kissed her father’s cheek once before she left.
Ethan sat at his desk, looking down at the file before him. He just couldn’t explain how his signature could have gotten on these documents. He hadn’t signed them himself, and he certainly hadn’t taken out small amounts of money from the corporate accounts and tucked it away in a secret bank account. Yet he had the documents with his signature staring him in the face. If this came forward, no one would believe he hadn’t done it. He wouldn’t believe it if someone else came forward with this sort of evidence.
He’d gone over the books earlier and found no discrepancies, nothing to show money was missing, yet he knew if this came out, those accounting records would come in question. He hadn’t fixed the books to make it look as if nothing were out of the ordinary and he certainly hadn’t been taking money from the account.
Damn, he just didn’t know what to do. If he called his lawyer to investigate it, the board would find out given the fact that his lawyer was on the board. He didn’t want that for obvious reasons. An investigation would be launched and he would be questioned.
And Gwen would get her way.
He slapped the file closed then stood to place it in his wall safe. No, for the time being, no one could know about this. He’d just have to find a way to figure it out himself.