“Mommy, can you help us find the jerseys daddy got for us? We want to wear them to the movie,” Lyn called from her room.
“What movie and why the jerseys? You guys haven’t worn them in a while,” Evangeline asked as she walked into Lyn’s room and looked through the connecting bathroom at Johnny.
“Nana’s taking us to a movie at the mall and we just want to wear them because daddy gave them to us,” Johnny answered as he walked into Lyn’s room.
Eve had gone home, packed a bag and was currently unpacking in the grandmothers’ room. When John and Evangeline had bought the house, they’d made a decision to decorate one of the bedrooms for their moms’ to share. The room wasn’t used much, but it had been when the twins were first born.
“Do you think they’ll make you feel closer to your dad?”
The twins looked at each other, back at their mother and then nodded. She got down on her knees and looked them in the eye before pulling them into a hug.
“Guys, your dad is always with you. He loves you two so much and while he’s not here, he will always be in your heart. Hopefully, Uncle Tonio has found out some information and daddy will be home soon.” She stroked their heads and then leaned back to share a smile with them. “How about we find those jerseys so you can get ready?”
“Yay,” the twins said in unison.
Llanview Police Department
“Do you have anything over there?” Salina asked as she threw the file she was looking at onto the desk.
“Nope and I guess by that reaction you don’t either.”
“No and it’s frustrating as hell.”
“I feel the same way. I can’t keep telling Evangeline that we don’t have anything on John. There has to be something.”
“Lyn and Johnny, are you ready to go?” Eve called from the bottom of the stairs.
“There’s no telling what they’re doing up there together. They try to act like they don’t like each other, but you can’t tell by the amount of time they spend together.”
Eve laughed at the perplexed look on her daughter-in-law’s face. The twins smiled as they walked down the stairs.
“What’s so funny, Nana?” asked Johnny.
“You and your mother.”
“We didn’t do anything,” he replied.
Evangeline and Eve shared a secret smile. The twins looked at each other sharing a look that said “grown-ups are strange.”
“Mommy, what are you going to do while we’re at the movie?” Lyn asked.
“I’m going to go to the Police Station and see what Uncle Tonio has found out about daddy.”
“Goody. You’ll find him. You’re good at finding everything,” the little girl said.
“Thanks for that vote of confidence,” she said. She moved to them, placing a kiss on both of their heads. “Please be good for Nana.”
“Yes, ma’am,” they said as they moved toward the door.
“Evangeline, if you need me, call me on the cell,” Eve whispered in her ear as the two women hugged.
“I’ll be fine. I’m just going to make sure that they find him,” Evangeline whispered back.
Llanview Police Department
“I can’t help thinking that maybe that Buchanan woman knows something. She acted entirely too strange when we were there and none of the other residents showed any sign of recognition when we mentioned John or showed them his picture. The empty homes hadn’t been used in months. She’s the only one,” Salina commented.
“I know. I hate to think that she could know something about John’s disappearance and would keep it from us, from his family. Maybe I should go back up there and see what’s she really knows.”
“You should and I’m coming with you,” a soft voice from the door said.
Antonio and Salina had been so deeply enthralled in their conversation that they hadn’t heard Evangeline open Antonio’s office door.
“Evangeline, how long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to know that you think someone may be trying to hide some information about John. Who is it?”
“Evangeline, you know that its police business and I can’t share it with you.”
“Antonio, I’m not a part of the general public. I’m John’s wife. Who knows something and isn’t telling? I’m going to find out anyway. Why not make it easier on yourself and tell me now?”
“Natalie Vega,” Salina responded. She shrugged when Antonio turned a frown on her. “What? She had a right to know.”
Before Antonio could respond, Evangeline spoke. “You think Natalie knows something about John’s disappearance and that she’d keep it from us. Why?”
“Just a feeling I have. I don’t have any concrete evidence, which is why I wasn’t going to tell you anything yet,” he said throwing a glare Salina’s way.
“Well, let’s go. Let’s go right now and find out if your gut is right.”
“Evangeline, you can’t go with me to question someone, even Natalie.”
“Antonio, I’m going, with or without you. If you try to leave me, I’ll just follow you. Isn’t it better if I’m with you?”
“Man, she’s good,” Salina commented with a look of pride. She wiped the smirk off her face at the look Antonio gave her.
“Okay, you can go with me, but you have to stay in the car. You can not participate in the questioning.”
“Okay. Will we pass the place where the accident happened?”
“I just need to see it for myself,” she said with a sigh.
“You two go ahead. I’m going to go back through the information we have here with a fine toothed comb. Maybe somehow we missed something. Give me a call if you need me.”
“Cool,” Antonio responded.
“Salina, would you call John’s mother, Eve, at this number in about an hour and a half? She took the twins to a movie and I don’t want her worried about me, too,” Evangeline said as she wrote down Eve’s cell phone number.
“Sure. You guys be careful.”
“Always,” said Antonio, as he left the office trailing Evangeline to the car.
The drive was the longest Evangeline had ever taken. She and John had driven to the area several times to take the kids on hikes and have family picnics. They always had a great time. She remembered how John said the roads were narrow and had to be navigated carefully. He told her if she ever took the drive alone to be careful because it was deer country. Now, here she was traveling this road and wondering where it would lead. Had John heeded the very warning he had given her on more than one occasion?
“Van, like I told you before, when we get to the cabin, you have to stay in the car,” Antonio said, making sure she understood that this was an investigation. If Natalie did have something to hide, he wanted everything to be by the book.
“I promise. But, if she is hiding something to do with John, you have to find out.”
“I will. I just hope I’m wrong for her sake and right for yours.”
”Me, too,”she said looking pensively at the countryside as they got closer to the Buchanan Cabin.
“I’m going to pull off to the side of the road for a minute.” It was still early evening and light out.
“Is this where John’s car was found?”
“Yes, right down there. The car swerved and seemed to head out of control going into the river.”
“Antonio, we have to find him. I know you might think I’m crazy, but I’d know if John were gone. I thought that maybe I was in denial, but I know in my heart that if he were gone I would know it.”
“I believe that he’s alive or I wouldn’t keep looking so hard. John is a fighter. He would fight hard to get back to you and the kids. I know for a fact you are the reason he got up everyday. He said to me more than once how much you guys mean to him. Every time he says your name, it’s as if the man were saying a prayer.”
“Thanks. I know we’re going to find him. I just hope Natalie will be able to help us. But God help her, if she has had anything to do with keeping John from us. Now, let’s stop wasting time and go see Natalie.”
Cabin off Route 77
“John, are you sure you’re not hungry? It wouldn’t be any trouble to make you something to eat. You barely touched your lunch earlier,” Natalie said.
“No, I’m not hungry. I’m just feeling claustrophobic in here. I think I’m going to go for a walk. Maybe some fresh air will make me feel better.”
“Look, you want me to come with you?”
“No,” he said emphatically. “I’m not trying to hurt you, but I just need to be alone. I feel like my head is about to explode and maybe a walk will calm me down.”
He got the jacket that Natalie said was his, but didn’t feel like he had ever worn it. It just wasn’t something he thought he would wear. But then there were a lot of things Natalie had told him that didn’t fit. Mostly the way she described how happy they were. He just didn’t feel anything when she talked about their lives. It was as if she were talking about someone else. He tried but he just couldn’t get past the feeling that something was off between the two of them.
Even her touch, instead of comforting him, made him uneasy. He felt like he was betraying something or someone every time she reached out to him for intimacy. Although she said she understood, he could see how he hurt her every time he failed to respond to her, but he could do nothing else. He just needed to be alone. Oddly enough, the cabin felt more confining this evening. It was as if he felt a pull to leave, as if someone was calling for him to come home. He felt it in his soul.
So, he took one last look at Natalie and saw the sadness in her eyes. He sighed and left the cabin to go for his walk. The evening was slightly breezy, but the sun still shown and he had come to know the area well. He decided to take his time and just enjoy the freedom of the wilderness around him. He trekked on, deep in his emotions and lost in his disconnected memories, which were just out of reach.
Minutes after John left the cabin, Natalie heard a car pull up. Curious she looked out and saw Antonio and Evangeline. Now she was becoming alarmed. It was too soon. She was making progress with John, she knew it. I just need to play it cool. There is no way they can know about John. No way.
Before Antonio got out of the car, he turned to Evangeline and said, “Evangeline, trust me. If she knows anything, I will get it out of her. I promise.”
“I know and I do trust you. Just find out what she’s hiding and maybe we will find John sooner rather than later. I’ll wait here.”
“Thanks,” he said and walked to the Buchanan cabin, bracing himself for the interrogation of a lifetime.