I kept myself ramrod as I marched to my car because I knew better than to show fear. Once I had driven out of eyesight of the detectives, however, I allowed my body to sag. I cursed Kayla under her breath for running to Matt with her problems, Matt for beseeching me to help out, and me for being such a sucker than I couldn’t say no. Everything about this case felt wrong, not to mention icky, and I wished I’d never agreed to help out in the first place. This wasn’t like Without a Trace where the problem of a missing person was solved in an hour with everything falling into place. No, this was like a serial that got canceled before the finale was shown. I had a hunch that there would be many twists and turns before the truth to this sordid matter came out.
“Well?” Matt asked the minute I walked into the apartment. Ignoring him, I went to the kitchen to see what was in the fridge. It was one in the afternoon, and I was starving—Matt’s pancakes notwithstanding. There wasn’t anything appealing, so I fell back on my last resort—a frozen Healthy Choice dinner. “What happened?” Matt asked as I placed the tray into the microwave. He had a look on his face that said he wouldn’t take no for an answer, so I began telling him what I’d discovered along with my little run-in with the cops.
The whole story sounded more convoluted as I told it to him than it had when Kayla had told me, but that was probably because I’d had time to let it sink in. I was struck by the obstacles in this case, such as not knowing Alexander’s last name. Sure, I had his number—if Kayla hadn’t been lying about that, too—but what good would that do? All he had to do was refuse to talk to me, and there was nothing I could do to force him to do so. I could tell him I had his stuff, but he would see through that in a minute. I wondered if the FBI would be getting involved with the case, but I didn’t give it too much thought as there was little I could do about it. Just as I was about to tell Matt about Digger, my cell phone rang at the same time the microwave binged. As I answered the phone, I stirred my food before popping it back into the microwave.
“Scarlett! How are you?” It was my mother, of course, the only one who called me Scarlett. Rather, she was the only person I allowed to call me Scarlett without making a big deal out of it. “I have the feeling that something bad has happened to you. Am I right?” My mother had a touch of ESP herself which she attributed to being brought up in the old country.
“Not exactly,” I said hesitantly. Matt was making faces at me, but I waved him away. This was my mother, damn it, and she usually had good insight. I spilled the story as concisely as I possibly could, waiting to hear her words of wisdom.
“Oh, that was the front-page story of the Strib,” was her disappointing first response. I was about to say something acerbic when I realized that I had neglected the first rule of thumb—look it up on the internet. I cursed my self for my stupidity and made a mental note of it. “This is Matt’s old girlfriend, right? The crazy one?”
“Yes, Mom. Hold on a sec,” I said, walking into the living room. Matt followed me, so I kept going to my bedroom. He looked as if he were going to follow me there as well, but I shut him down with a frown. As soon as I closed the door to my bedroom, I continued the conversation. “She’s bad news, Mom, but I promised Matt I’d help her out. It’s his son, too.”