“Whacha doing?” Vin set the remote down and turned his head to watch Ben more closely.
The boy scribbled something in one of those miniature spiral notebooks that Vin himself used while on the job. For a boy with no interest in private investigation, it looked awfully suspicious.
“Oh. Um…. nothing.” Ben tucked the notebook behind his back, looking guilty as all heck.
“Really?” Vin got off the couch and walked over to see for himself.
Ben backed up, looking guilty, which only made Vin all the more interested. He slipped the notebook from the kid’s hands.
“Mrs. Audrey told me to do it!” Ben snatched it back. “She said I don’t have enough details and to take notes on things I, um, ‘experience’. Like what I see and hear.”
“That all?” In other words, it was a weird kind of generalized spying.
“And what it’s like to touch stuff, like how warm or cold something is, and what it smells like and tastes like and stuff.”
“Oh.” That explained why he’d seen Ben licking a lamp the other day.
“Hey, Vin. Do you think Drew will be back here for Christmas?”
“What?” Where had that come from? Though it was a good question. “I don’t know. It’s November now, and I haven’t heard from him in a while.”
“Oh.” Ben looked crest fallen. “So then Mom will be even spazzier over Gene.” Now he actually looked miserable.
It floored Vin. He hadn’t noticed a thing, but Ben was right. Suzie seemed to be channeling all her insecurities through the adoption procedure, which had been anything but fast. Ben must be feeling left out. Vin ruffled his hair.
Ben ducked out from under Vin’s hand, and gave him a glare. “I’m just saying I wish Drew would come back. Why hasn’t he? What’s the hold up?”
“I don’t know that either.”
“Yeah. Nobody does.” Gripping his notebook, Ben moved off, no doubt in search of more things to write about.
Vin flopped down on the couch, but he didn’t reach for the remote. He wasn’t really watching the muted TV anyway.
Nobody knew what was going on with Drew? Vin hadn’t worried about him because Drew was a professional and could handle himself. But there were a couple of phone calls that made him uncomfortable. Sometimes the confidence Vin expected from Drew had seemed hollow.
On a whim, Drew dialed Vin’s cell. He’d probably go straight to voicemail, or might not get through at all depending on the case Drew was working. But it was worth a try.
“Hello?” Drew answered on the second ring.
“Hey. Long time no hear from you, my friend.”
“Who is this?” Drew’s distinctive, mellow tenor was unmistakable. It was Drew.
“It’s me, Drew. Vin.” Vin sat up straighter, concerned for his friend.
“Vin. Marvin. Your best friend.”
“Oh. Right. It’s the drugs, man. Can’t think straight anymore.”
“Drugs?!” Vin stood up.
“China Black. Horrible stuff. Man, you wouldn’t even recognize me anymore.” He actually laughed.
“Our friendship isn’t that shallow,” Vin grumbled. “Hey, find a cover story for me. I’m coming out.”
He didn’t give Drew a chance to argue. Instead, he cut the connection and went upstairs to pack.
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