Reckless Whispe(4)

By: Barbara Freethy

She nodded, seeing sincerity and candor in Mark's eyes. "Is there anyone who has a problem with you or your wife? Any incidents with neighbors, friends, coworkers? A road rage incident you might have forgotten about? Any small problem that you don’t think is connected but might be?"

"No," he said. "We've thought and thought all night long. We don't have problems with people. Our lives have been drama free until now. We can't imagine anyone who would want to hurt us or Hayley. She's just a sweetheart."

"And no one has contacted you?" she pressed, hating to put them through this, but finding Hayley was all that mattered. "There hasn't been any request for money? No one has told you not to tell the police or work with the FBI?"

"No," Mark said, shaking his head again. "I wish someone had contacted me. I'd sell everything we own to get Hayley back."

Mark and Lindsay were saying everything she would have expected them to say, and their behavior was absolutely consistent with what they were going through, but she wanted to split up the husband and wife team for at least a few moments.

"Mrs. Jansen—can I see Hayley's bedroom? I want to know as much about her as I can, and it helps to see where she sleeps," she said, getting to her feet.

Lindsay stood up, wiping the tears off her wet cheeks. "Of course. I'll show you."

Bree was happy that Mark chose not to accompany them upstairs. He seemed to have the bigger, strong personality, and she wanted to know what Lindsay would say on her own, if her husband wasn't in the room.

As Bree stepped into Hayley's bedroom, she felt like she was walking into a childhood dream. Everything was white and pink and purple. There were pillows and stuffed animals on the bed, shelves filled with books, an overflowing toy box, and a big bay window that overlooked the front street.

She couldn't imagine what it would feel like to grow up in a room so special, so safe, so comforting and then to be ripped out of it.

Hayley Jansen was not a tough, street kid; she was a pampered princess, just as she should be, and they needed to find her fast.

Walking across the room, she paused in front of a family photo. It had been taken before Hayley's siblings had been born, and the brown-haired little girl was about two years old. She looked happy and well loved.

"That's one of my favorite pictures. I like to have photos of each one of my kids on their own," Lindsay said.

"I understand Hayley was adopted."

"Yes. She's our miracle. We tried for ten years to have a child or to adopt, and we'd almost given up hope when Hayley came along. She was the prettiest baby I'd ever seen, even though she was bald as could be, with only about three strands of hair on her head." Lindsay gave her a sad smile. "She smiled at me, and I knew she was mine. She was home. She was where she was supposed to be."

Lindsay's heartfelt words tugged at her heart. Interviewing the parents was always tough, and it took all she had to keep it together and focus on the job.

"I understand your other two kids are your biological children?"

"Yes. It was crazy. All those years of trying and nothing. Then Hayley turns four, and I find out I'm pregnant with Connor. Morgan came two years later. I love them all so much. I don't love Hayley less because I didn't give birth to her. She's my child—one hundred percent."

"I believe you," she said, feeling as if Lindsay needed some sort of reassurance.

"The police asked me about her biological parents, but we never knew anything about them. The mother wanted a closed adoption, and we did, too. We wanted to be Hayley's parents. We didn't want anyone else in the mix. Maybe that sounds selfish, but it felt like it would be too complicated any other way."

"Does Hayley know she's adopted?"

"No. We're going to tell her when she's older."

"You're not afraid someone in the family will say something to her?"

"My parents know, and they feel the same way we do—that Hayley isn't ready to deal with it. Mark's parents are deceased."

"What about friends, cousins, neighbors?"

"There are a few other people who know, but they would never say anything." Lindsay paused, giving Bree a questioning look. "Do you know anything about the biological parents? I asked the detectives, and they wouldn't say. Are they involved in this?"

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