“Damn. Where is she?” Leslie scans the area outside the baggage claim for Rose. Leslie only brought her duffle and her laptop with her, so she has no baggage to claim and has arranged to meet Rose outside. Rose had said she drove a black Suburban, license plate RedRose. Leslie is tired and grumpy, and she has no patience for this nonsense. It’s five in the morning, which is not a good hour for her. She waits five minutes, then ten, then fifteen. By now, she is fuming. She pulls out her cell and punches Rose’s number. The phone rolls over to voice mail, so Leslie leaves a message at the sound of the beep. “Rose. This is Leslie. Where the hell are you?” Leslie clicks of her phone and waits some more. After another fifteen minutes, she’s had enough. She flags a taxi to go to Rose’s house. The driver is an older white man who is laconic to the point of taciturn—which suits Leslie perfectly. She has a running monologue in her mind of all the scathing things she’ll say to Rose when they finally meet. All these thoughts flee her mind, however, when she sees three cop cars with their cherries blinking parked in the driveway.
“Shit. Take me back to the airport,” Leslie says to the taxi driver. “No, wait. Take me to a nearby ATM, Wells Fargo is preferable.” He doesn’t even pause as he changes course. He pulls into a nearby gas station and waits as Leslie requested. Leslie races inside and takes out $200. Checking her wallet, she sees that she has a hundred in cash. That should be enough. “Take me to a nearby hotel, but not in this city. Something around seventy bucks a night.” The cabbie drives her to a nearby Best Western. He gives her his card and tells her to call him if she needs a ride anywhere. Leslie tips him handsomely for not asking her any questions before she goes into the hotel. She pays for a room for two nights in cash and hurries to her room after making sure the hotel has wireless. She plugs in her laptop, thoughts whirling in her mind. She has no doubt that Rose has been killed as well, but she is not sure why. Is it because Rose knows more than she told Leslie? Or does the killer just think that Rose knows too much? A thought chills Leslie—was Rose killed because she was meeting Leslie? In other words, does the killer know about Leslie’s existence? If so, how much has the killer figured out about Freddy’s new identity? Leslie doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions, but it’s hard for her not to look over her shoulder to see if anyone is watching her—even though she is in the room by herself.
Once she is online, she goes to Google to see what she can find out about Rose’s death. Oh, she probably shouldn’t jump to conclusions—wait, what? Breaking news for Chicago. Rose Duffy, aged forty-three, is missing from her home. Missing—not killed. She is single with no roommates, so it would have gone unnoticed if not for the fact that one of her neighbors had insomnia the night before and had heard noises coming out of Rose’s house. The neighbor noticed what appeared to be a man helping a drunken woman—one who was resisting his efforts—out of the house and into a car. There was something odd about it, the neighbor recalled. After fifteen minutes of deliberation, the neighbor called the cops who discovered copious amounts of blood on the bed in Rose’s bedroom. It is reported that Rose Duffy was a close friend of Federico Amato, the missing man who is the only suspect in the slaying of Amy Robertson, the daughter of Senator Robertson. Leslie frowns. If the papers play up that angle, it would mean that Amy’s murder would be thrust back into the spotlight. Leslie frowns more deeply as she reads a quote by Chief Matthews.
“We have heard the rumors about a connection between the disappearance of Ms. Duffy and the death of Ms. Robertson simply because of a mutual connection. We would like to state unequivocally that there is no connection.”
“Really, Chief Matthews?” Leslie murmurs suspiciously. It’s only been one hour, seven minutes, and twelve seconds since Leslie had seen the cops at Rose’s house. That is pretty fast footwork on the part of the cops for them to ‘unequivocally’ declare that there is no connection between Rose’s abduction and Amy’s murder. Leslie mentally moves Chief Matthews up the suspect list before moving him back down again. His statement is suspicious, but it could be nothing more than the chief doing a favor for a friend. Or an ex-roommate. Still, whatever the reason, it just makes Leslie more certain that the disappearance of Rose is connected to Amy’s murder. This time, it doesn’t seem like the killer—OK, kidnapper—wanted to get caught; he just had the misfortune of being seen by an insomniac neighbor. Leslie frowns. The neighbor had stated that she saw a man ‘helping’ a struggling woman into a car. Could the man be a woman? Possibly, but not probably.