“Is this Vin Southerland?”
“Yes?” Vin juggled his cell phone and a bag of chips in the front seat of his car. He was on surveillance, but the job was almost done anyway; another cheating spouse case. He’d put it off to go collect Drew from New Mexico, and needed to wrap it up before he went back to make another attempt.
“This is Maria. Is Drew there?”
“What? No. Why? Isn’t he there?” A brutal punch of guilt kept him from saying anything more just yet, but he wasn’t going to be able to hold back the recriminations if his nasty suspicions were right.
“No. He isn’t. He’s gone missing.”
A flash of temper made Vin squeeze the cell until the had plastic parts protested.
“I thought we were in agreement. Remember? In Toby’s kitchen when I asked you to keep an eye on him for a few days while I paved the way for him here? I thought I could trust you.”
“I said I’d do everything I could, and I have,” the woman said. “But the case is breaking right now. That has to come first.”
A lot of nasty thoughts went through Vin’s head, filling the sullen silence with anger and resentment. And guilt. Topping all the rest of Vin’s emotions, the guilt was not to be ignored.
He should have forced Drew to come back with him. He should have tried to talk to Suzie over the phone first. Instead, he hadn’t been able to get the situation across. It seemed like Suzie was always in motion – cleaning the house, running errands for the boys, talking to the lawyer about adopting Gene.
Not that he hadn’t said anything. He’d tried to explain. Just last night he sat in the kitchen while Suzie whipped out a five course dinner and tried to describe how bad off Drew had become. She had nodded and made sympathetic sounds, but hadn’t looked at him while he talked. He felt like she hadn’t understood at all. But then, she had started off with a simple pot roast and loaf of bread, and Suzie always cooked when she was upset.
“I trusted you,” Vin muttered, as much thinking of how unreliable he himself had become as accusing Maria of anything. “What if Drew gets his hands on more of the drug?”
“I don’t want to leave him on his own any more than you do,” Maria said, her voice small and flat over the air. “But I really can’t deal with this right now.” She sounded strained. “So… come and find him for me. Come and take him home, like you should have done to begin with.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.” One way or another. He got what little information there was to be had – that Drew had been in Toby’s house for days before the disappearance, and had disappeared over night, had taken all this belongings with him, trading out his suitcase for one of Toby’s backpacks, and that the neighbors saw him walk down the street as if he knew where he was going, but that there had been no sign of him at the bus station.
They had just clicked off and Vin had jammed the key in the ignition when the cheating wife came out of the house he was there to watch. He snapped off some shots of her and her lover kissing, called his client to set up a final meet, then called the airport.
This time, when he went to collect his friend, he’d do it right.
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