Reckless Whispe(5)

By: Barbara Freethy


"I honestly don't know. But we're going to run down every lead as fast as we can. I can promise you that."

"The waiting is torture."

"I know. Now, tell me what Hayley is like."

"She's shy, but she can be funny when she's with her friends, when she feels comfortable. She's very caring. She loves animals, especially bunnies," she said with a watery laugh as she tipped her head toward the pile of animals. "Unfortunately, my son Connor is allergic, so we haven’t been able to bring a pet into the home. It's crazy now that there are dogs searching for her. The detectives took some of her things, so the dogs could pick up her scent." Lindsay's mouth shook again. "I want them to find her alive. I can't bear the thought that they won't."

"Try to stay positive."

"You've worked on cases like this before? Something to do with the white rose?"

"Yes."

"What happened to those other children?"

"The last one was found alive. She's going to be okay." Bree hoped that piece of news would give Lindsay a little hope.

But Lindsay focused in on three words. "The last one? What about the others?"

"We don't know if Hayley's case is tied to the other abductions."

"But it sounds like it might be."

"We're going to do everything we can to find your daughter. You have a huge team looking for Hayley."

"I know. Mark and I are so grateful. We just want to bring her home, take her in our arms and never let her go."

"I hope that happens really soon," she said, as they headed downstairs.

When they reached the entry, Mark came out of the living room and pulled his wife into an embrace. She left the two of them in their anguish as she walked out of the house, pushing her way past reporters who asked her if she had anything new to report. She made no comment. She was definitely not the official spokesperson for this case.

As she reached the end of the block, she pulled out her phone to check on the other address she'd been given. She wanted to check in with their only eyewitness—Grace Roberts. She lived just three blocks away. While Grace had also been interviewed extensively, Bree wanted to ask a few of her own questions. Now that some time had passed since Hayley's abduction the night before, Grace might remember more than she had previously.

She was almost to Grace's house when her phone vibrated.

Pulling it out of the pocket of her navy-blue slacks, she saw an unidentified number. Her pulse sped up. "Agent Adams," she said crisply.

"So formal," the altered voice said. "You and I are going to get very close…Bree."

"Then maybe I should know who you are."

"That would take the fun away."

"What do you want?"

"What you want—a worthy competitor."

"I'm not competing with you."

"Aren't you?" He paused. "I like it better when you wear your hair down." At the end of his statement, the call disconnected.

Her gut tightened as she looked around the neighborhood. Was he watching her?

She thought she saw a curtain flutter in a window across the street, but that could be anyone, or just her imagination.

"You want to compete," she muttered. "You better be ready to lose."

She slid her phone into her pocket, wondering what the game was, and if Hayley was also an unwilling player.





Two


"Do the police have any leads?" Nathan Bishop asked, as he slid onto the stool at his sister's kitchen island and watched her fix lunch for her daughter Grace, who would normally be at school. But since Grace's friend, Hayley Jansen, had disappeared from the concert last night, Josie had kept Grace at home. His sister and niece were both shaken and terrified about what had happened to Hayley, and he couldn't blame them. He was just happy to see that Josie had calmed down since the night before.

"Not that I know of," Josie replied, pausing from making tuna fish sandwiches to pull her dark-brown hair into a ponytail.

His sister looked exhausted and anxious, taking him back in time to the life they'd lived as kids, when sleeplessness, hunger, and anxiety had plagued their every step. He hated to see her back in that state of mind. She'd been doing so well the last several years, and Grace needed her mom to be whole. He was going to do everything he could to make sure she stayed that way.

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