WISHBONE II – Chapter One – Sneak Peek

Book two in the Amazon Best Selling Thriller Series

WISHBONE II …Some Wishes Should Never Be Made

By Brooklyn Hudson

Copyright © 2015 by Brooklyn Hudson

All rights reserved

“Destiny has two ways of crushing us – by refusing our wishes and by fulfilling them.”

~Henri Frederic Amiel

CHAPTER ONE

Eighteen months ago… 

Tracee Fields aimed a subtle nod toward her classroom assistant, indicating it was time to round up the children, ending their post-lunch playtime. She was anxious to get the kids down for their nap, due to a hastening migraine, which she nursed since morning—twenty minutes of peace would be a blessing, she thought.

She cleared her uneaten tuna salad sandwich from her desk and then packed it neatly into a bento box. She slipped it into a canvas tote, which sat crumpled beside her chair, and then walked to the door where she dimmed the humming fluorescent lights, hanging above the classroom—not dim enough, she thought, and then decided to turn the back row of lighting off, completely. Just as she flipped the light switch, her assistant let out a piercing shriek, followed by a domino effect of screeching five-year-old children.

Tracee, startled, spun around to face the chaos.

Little ones ran frantic, ducking about the room. In a sea of pandemonium, her assistant crouched, peering up at the ceiling through guarded, squinting eyes; her hands held protectively above her head, to block a potential attack.

Tracee followed the direction of the student teacher’s terror to a blur of blue. A bird flapped wildly, from one light fixture to the next, spastically searching for a safe place to land.

“Okay, alright, it’s just a bird…just a bird!” Tracee’s voice cut through the commotion.

She winced as the sound of her own raised tone morphed the throbbing within her temples from a whisper to a scream. She panned the tops of the tall windows spanning the length of the classroom’s outer wall. She searched for where the bird might have entered, more importantly, where she might encourage it to swoop back out. She feared the bird would smack, head first into a glass pane, and drop dead, right before the eyes of the children—that would go over well in a classroom of special needs kindergarteners, she thought.

Tracee hurried to the center of the room, shuffling quickly on tiptoed high heels and trying not to knock over one of the cowering children. She found most of them crouched amid a circle of desks, some mumbling inwardly, rocking back and forth on tiny sneakers; their minds now in a protective dissociative state. Several others stood crying and manic, while a few more roared with laughter, enjoying every moment of the bedlam taking place before their eyes.

“It’s just a bird. Everyone, get down on your mats. Lie down…now.” She waved her hands through the air, motioning for their attention, “It’s only a bird. Miss Tracee will get the bird out. Just lay down and everything’s going to be alright.”

Tracee found no open window and could only conclude the bird must have already been in the room, quietly unnoticed since morning. One by one, she cranked the top panes of each window, opening all five. The glass tilted slightly inward, but not far enough to ensure the bird could fly safely out at any speed, on its own volition.

“Lisa—” Tracee turned to her assistant across the room; her words quickly cut short by a startling sight.

The classroom assistant stood beside five-year-old, Jessica Grenier. The bird fluttered around the little girl, hovering and eventually landing gracefully on the child’s arm. Jessica’s gleeful grin revealed widely spaced, boxy teeth, sandwiching the tip of her rosy tongue. She rocked from foot to foot in what Tracee referred to as, her happy dance. A gradual hush fell upon the room, the other children, now mesmerized by the scene and staring wide-eyed at Jessica; some terrified, but all equally enamored.

Tracee approached Jessica, weaving a careful path between the tangles of children and trying not to show her own trepidation as she approached.

“Okay sweetie, let Miss Tracee take this little guy,” she said, while, inwardly, she reminded herself of her responsibility to the children, and the need to overcome her lifelong anxiety toward all things that chirp and fly.

Tracee moved slowly, trying not to scare the bird back into frenetic action. As her hands came close to the bird, she felt all eyes upon her—there’s no turning back now, she thought and then gave it a closer look. This is no small birdThis is a blue jay, in all its screeching, ear-piercing, pointy-beak pecking glory…and complete with a menacing, spiked crown, just like the one that chased me from my grandmother’s back yard, when I was nine-years-old.

Tracee took a deep breath, Lord, be with me now. You gave me this task; stay with me.

As if to dare her, the bird eyeballed Tracee and offered an ear-piercing squawk. Easily the length of her forearm from beak to tail tip, the bird remained content on Jessica’s wrist, tipping and tilting its head with rapid jerking movements, as Tracee slowly cupped her hands around it.

It’s near weightless body and fragile feathers gave Tracee the shivers. It screeched again, squirming in her grip and pressing its pin-like talons into the flesh of her palm. It pecked at her fingers and Tracee reflexively let go.

The bird made a fast, circling flight around the room; a blurred streak of blue. The children ducked and began screaming again. The jay flapped noisily toward them then landed peacefully on Jessica’s shoulder. Silence befell the room, once more.

Tracee stood shaking her head, watching in dumbfounded disbelief.

“He likes you, Jess,” she said, more to calm her own fears than the child, who appeared delightfully accepting of the bird’s attachment.

Tracee, now convinced she was better prepared for the feel of the bird, cupped her palms slowly around it again. This time, she refused to let go as it attempted to tuck its beak and peck the heck out of her index finger.

It made a wretched noise, squawking and cawing in her unwavering grasp.

“Okay, I’ll be right back,” Tracee raised her voice above the decibels of the bird’s racket. “Get them down on their mats…please,” she instructed Lisa and rushed for the door.

The long corridor, lined with closed doors and darkened rooms, was silent; the first floor reserved for four to six-year-olds, all well into their post-lunch quiet time. She passed the office and headed for the front door. She moved quickly, the stiff feathers of the jay vibrating within her palms as the bird continued to attempt to break free. She used her side to hit the door with a bang and swing it wide open.

The sounds of Manhattan and a blaze of bright sunlight brought on an instant reawakening of her forgotten throbbing temples. Through narrowed eyes, she searched up and down the block, deciding how best to release the bird. Though they were blocks away, she faced the general direction of Central Park and opened her hands just above eye level. The brazen bird surprised her by remaining balanced on her finger for several seconds, as if to scope out a flight path of its own. Impatient, Tracee thrust her hands upward into the air and the bird took flight.

She swiped her palms against each other, then wiped them briskly over her thighs for good measure. She lost view of the bird and turned back inside—enough excitement for one day, she thought.

She headed, first to the bathroom, where she washed thoroughly, and then walked the silent corridor, back to her classroom.

Inside, the children were not napping on their mats as expected, but again gathered in a clutch, surrounding her assistant and Jessica Grenier. On the little girl’s wrist perched the blue jay. Tracee glanced at the narrowly open windows.

She mouthed to her assistant in utter disbelief, “It flew back in?”

The younger woman nodded slowly, equally baffled by the event.

Seven men, each seated around a boardroom table; some talking sports, one checking Facebook on his phone, and two arguing whether Guns n’ Roses had been a hair band, rock or heavy metal ensemble. No one being productive or giving any thought to the arduous task, for which they were being paid—a campaign for an extremely demanding client, whom they had yet to please, and the company was at serious risk of losing the contract fast. The deadline was tomorrow, even if it meant staying at the office all night. The art department had been given nothing to work with and would need at least half a day to develop any graphics or necessary videos for the pitch. A new client, a worldwide campaign, and a contract that would ensure their Christmas bonuses would be substantial this year. Stress levels were high.

“Dude, you can’t possibly lump GNR with a band like Warrant. Are you out of your freakin’ mind?” Matt shook his head in disgust.

The sound of slightly off beat steps approaching from the hallway, caught Matt’s ear and he quickly sat forward, returning the chair’s front legs to the carpet then silently hushed the group. He thumbed over his shoulder at the door behind him just as it opened.

Julien glanced around the room, meeting their requisite eager expressions one-by-one. Aware he had interrupted their slacking, he poked Matt in the back with the handle of his cane before taking a seat at the head of the table.

“Did you get the memos?” Julien asked.

“I got one memo.” Matt reveled in the opportunity to give Julien a hard time about his English.

“That is what I mean to say…THE memo.”

“Yeah, I did…and what’s wrong with what we came up with anyway?” He launched into a petulant defense, which he had rehearsed repeatedly in the shower that morning, “When’s the last time you played a video game anyway?” Matt tossed his pen on the table and snatched Julien’s cane.

“Pac-Man. I was twelve,” Julien’s dry tone and steely glower proved him indifferent. He shook his head, ever baffled by Matt’s, Peter Pan-like refusal to grow up. He leaned in close to the table and scanned the rest of his creative team’s faces. “We can do better. They won’t buy it. What you have given me is not different…enough. Not original…enough.” He felt his phone vibrate against his thigh.

Matt, still unwilling to give up or give in, “Yeah, well, I played one last night,” he admitted with pride.

Several of his co-workers snickered.

“What? I did! I play these games every day. I am their consumer.” The sheen of the cane beneath the florescent lighting caught his eye and he began twirling it between his fingers, instantly distracted and transfixed on the handle, flipping it from side to side.

Julien reluctantly glanced at his phone, now vibrating once again—a call from his daughter’s school.

“Excuse me.” He snatched the cane back suddenly, snapping Matt out of his trance then leaving the table to enter the hall. “Slogan!” he barked over his shoulder and closed the door.

Julien answered the call, “Yes, ’allo, this is Julien Grenier.”

The school’s principal immediately launched into a litany of questions.

Julien scoffed, “No, of course we do not send her to school with a bird. What are you talking about?”

The principal continued until Julien interrupted, “Okay, well, take it away, no? Get rid of it. It is not our pet. I give you the permissions, if that is what you are calling me for. I do not know of a bird.”

He leaned back against the wall; his jaw clenched as he ran his fingers slowly through his hair, in frustration. He could feel his blood pressure rising and he sighed.

No, no, no…do not call my wife. How many times I have said to you, she is not to be disturbed. I am confused about the birds. I don’t know what you want for me to do,” his French accent quickly accelerated with mounting stress. He could not leave the office early again today; his sudden departures and disappearances were happening too frequently these days.

Matt appeared at the door, whispering, “I think we’ve got something here.” He beckoned Julien back to the room knowing his friend was teetering on yet another reprimand from their boss, Phil, and the company partners.

It was no secret that Julien’s home life was debilitating his work performance and the agency would not put up with it much longer. The worse it became, the more pressure Julien put on his team and that too had become an issue among the men. Now, Matt repeatedly found himself performing damage control; though, Julien had no clue much of this was going on behind his back. Matt, longed to protect Julien and not add to the strain. He hoped Julien would get his life back in order, sooner rather than later, and though it was becoming increasingly difficult, he continuously did whatever it took to buy his friend some time.

Julien held up a pausing finger in Matt’s direction and mouthed, one moment. He launched his cane through the air for Matt to catch, hoping the toy would keep him busy. Matt caught it and Julien turned away, dismissing him.

Matt looked past Julien and smiled uncomfortably at Phil, who stood watching from the far end of the hall, but Julien, his attention scattered, did not notice his boss.

Matt returned to the boardroom closing the door.

Julien continued his conversation with the principal.

“Can you keep her in the office until I can be there? Maybe for one-hours…a little longer perhaps? I will be done here very soon.”

Julien glanced up, his eyes settling on Phil watching him intently. Phil gave a pensive nod. Julien’s shoulders sank and he winced as he met his boss’s stare. Phil, now satisfied that Julien understood his disapproval, disappeared into another room.

Julien realized he lost track of the telephone conversation. He hadn’t heard a word of the principal’s last sentence, but he wasn’t about to ask her to repeat it and prolong their talk. He had reached his boiling point; it was all too much to handle.

“I will be there as fast as I can,” he vowed before disconnecting the call and denying her another word. He returned to the boardroom noticeably frazzled.

 

Julien weaved through crowds of parents, nannies, and children, making his way into the school. Several police cars lined the curb where groups of parents gathered in packs along the walk. Julien, confused by the chaos, scanned their faces; some angry, some concerned.

What now?

What has she done?

Walking the hallway, he passed a row of windows exposing the main office. He was met by the disapproving eyes of several office ladies, who smirked and turned away. As he rounded the door and entered the office, he noticed two police officers and a detective standing with the principal and speaking with, what appeared to be, a distraught mother, seated on a bench and nearly inconsolable. Across the room, another officer was taking notes and speaking with one of the school’s janitors.

Oh, no…

It can’t be…

It must be something else…

What could she possibly do…? 

His worry intensified. He felt anxiety take a firm grip of his chest.

It is okay. 

He tucked his chin and swallowed hard.

Everything is all right. 

He cracked his neck, releasing a spasm of tension.

She cannot have anything to do with whatever this is. 

He exhaled, long and slow. 

The secretaries, each occupied with ringing telephones and intense conversation, ignore him. Julien attempted to get the attention of the closest one by drumming the wood counter separating him from her desk.

They all knew him well, but none looked his way. Frustrated, he slammed his hand down against the counter, the crack of his palm meeting the shellacked wood snapped all heads in his direction, including the police. One woman managed to keep her reassuring phone voice, while narrowing her eyes in his direction. She pointed with a snap of her straightened arm and a silent stomp of her beige, sensible shoe, to the office of Beverly Springer, the school’s assistant principal. As if on cue, Beverly appeared in her doorway.

“Come in, Mr. Grenier.” She stepped backward against the door folding her arms and making room for him to pass by. “Please have a seat.” She walked around him to her desk.

Julien scanned the windowless office. There was no sign of Jessica.

He remained standing, “My daughter, where is she?”

Beverly was tired and hardly in the mood. No longer concerned with Julien’s comfort, she took a seat.

“Mr. Grenier, your daughter is fine. She’s in the teachers’ courtyard with Ms. Fields. I believe we were expecting you hours ago.”

“I work. I have a job to do. So do you…and that is to care for my daughter from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Yet, I am called here regularly, to do that job for you, and at the expense of my employment.”

With only a halfhearted effort, Beverly countered, “We do our job and we work very hard to provide your daughter with a proper education and after school care, but we won’t do that at the expense of the other children. You are her parent…”

He cut her short, “Yes, I am, and part of parenting is to provide for your children and I can’t do that unless I am allowed to work,” his voice took on a mocking, sarcastic tone, “You send her home for every little things…”

It was Beverly’s turn to interrupt, “We realize that…and Mrs. Grenier…? Is she still collecting art in Europe, or is it a visit with her mother this time?” she paused, knowing her tone was inappropriate, and quickly collected herself.

She held her hands up to call a truce then sat forward, leaning against her desk with crossed arms holding up her spent body, “I apologize, but we’ve had an incident here today. A child has gone missing. A child from Jessica’s classroom. Owen Albright.”

Julien shook his head, confused, yet relieved that his daughter was not at the center of the school’s alarm.

“And how does a child go missing from a locked school?” he paused then returned to the subject which most concerned him, “…and what does this have to do with Jessica? You cannot keep calling me to leave work and come pick her up early.”

Beverly leaned back in her high-back chair, “Do you have a pet bird at home?”

Julien laughed, “Do we have a bird?” He had forgotten about the bird accusation and didn’t want to rehash the conversation again. “No, we have no birds. I have been through this with the principal earlier today. She asked me this already and I have made it clear…we have no bird.”

“So there is no possibility that Jessica would have brought a bird…a blue jay…to school with her? You dropped her off this morning yourself, right? You haven’t rescued any bird or…”

Julien gave in and finally took a seat, “There is no bird. She could not have bring this bird to school,” he waited for her reply, but they only stared at each other in silence.

Beverly watched him closely. She searched for something in his eyes, anything that might explain the bird and make this problem his problem, and not theirs. All at once, something came over her and she felt embarrassed. She certainly believed him and she didn’t want to upset him further.

For some time now, everyone working at the school had begun to suspect that Julien was raising his special needs child on his own and, being a single parent herself, she understood the difficulties. While there had to be an explanation for the bird, it suddenly seemed absurd that her superiors were forcing her to pay this matter any further attention in lieu of a missing child.

She reluctantly continued, “Ms. Fields is sure the windows to her classroom were closed, yet somehow, there is a bird, and that bird refuses to leave your daughter’s shoulder and created utter chaos in class today.”

“Did they have lunch outside? Could she have found the bird then?”

“No, they’re repaving the play yard. Both lunch and playtime were inside today. This bird appeared out of nowhere. If you insist that she could not have brought the bird to school in her backpack, then my only explanation would be that the bird was quietly hiding up there in the lights and decided to take a liking to your daughter. It might have been up there for days. Who knows? Unfortunately, the more serious issue here is that, in all the commotion, attempting to catch and remove the bird, a classmate of Jessica’s went missing.”

“I hardly believe Jessica’s goal was to endanger a student, or that she had a goal with this bird, at all. She is just not capable…”

“Of course not,” Beverly agreed. She was beginning to question her own goal in continuing this conversation—he clearly knows nothing about this bird, she thought.

She wondered if she was really following the orders of her superiors, or if this was actually her subconscious way of stalling from yet another phone conversation with an angry parent, concerned for the well-being of their own child and accusing the school of negligence; or perhaps, to stall from seeing the face of Owen Albright’s mother, desperately trying to understand how her son is not where he’s supposed to be.

Beverly rolled her chair back from the desk, “Let’s go get Jessica,” she suggested.

Owen’s mother was no longer in the main office, nor was the gaggle of police officers and secretaries. The hallway was quiet now, except for the echoing taps of the assistant principal’s heels.

Physically, it was a good day for Julien, who was not relying on his cane as much as he sometimes needed to. On days like today, he wondered if it wasn’t all psychosomatic, while on bad days, he was sure it was not. Still haunted by the events of Kings Hollow, he slowly put the pieces together from his dreams. He longed to ask Rachael how she had worded her final wish. How so much had been left behind and erased, while other emotional and physical scars, came back with them, permanently impacting their day-to-day lives.

First, there had been confusion, and then there were dreams. Dreams became nightmares, and then adamant denial. His denial spurred arguments between them, and finally memories, but any mention, any discussion, would only fuel Rachael’s obsession, so he opted to live as their lies dictated. However, they chose to explain away the unexplainable to others, became his truths, believing his own necessary lies, wholeheartedly, and it was better that way. Even if Rachael hadn’t understood that.

The assistant principal approached the teachers’ lounge with Julien in tow.

“The courtyard is right this way,” Beverly waved a directional gesture for Julien to follow.

The next door took them outdoors to a small manicured patio.

Jessica immediately ran to Julien. The bird lost its footing on her shoulder and hovered in midair. Jessica threw her arms around her father’s hips. He bent down to hug her, all the while keeping an eye on the bird, now fluttering a few feet behind his child’s back. It flapped close to Julien’s face and he stood up. One hand still bracing his daughter protectively against him, he turned to Beverly as the bird made several attempts to perch on Jessica’s shoulder.

“It is still here?” Somehow, he had missed that fact, though he could not recall having been told the contrary.

Beverly nodded.

Ms. Fields stepped up beside her, arms folded, clearly displeased with the hours she sat waiting for Julien.

“I’ve tried everything, Mr. Grenier. That bird refuses to leave your daughter. Put the thing out the building three times, yet it finds a way back in and right to Jessica every time.”

“You didn’t tell me the bird was still here,” Julien mumbled, refusing to take his eyes off the jay, who still struggled to remain in flight behind his daughter.

Jessica, remained tight to her father’s hip, but reached out a hand, allowing the bird to nestle down on her tiny fingers.

Tracee Fields turned to Beverly, “I really have to go. The detective asked me to come to the station. I gave them all the information I have… I don’t know what more I can tell them.”

Tracee appeared on the verge of tears, clearly consumed by guilt.

Beverly placed a comforting hand on Tracee’s back. “No one is blaming you. Just do what they ask and we’ll all pray that Owen is found before dark.”

Tracee nodded, excused herself, and left the patio.

Julien sat down on a brick planter beneath a small tree. He watched his daughter watching him. The bird screeched, now resting on her petite shoulder. Its bright blue feathers framed by her dark brown hair. Jessica grinned, she stood twisting her palms against each other in opposite half circles, as if to grind an invisible something between them. She rocked from one leg to the next, back and forth, in a rhythmic dance of contentment. She showed no fear of the bird.

Julien crooked his finger, beckoning her close to him. Jessica shuffled over to stand between his legs. Julien reached out immediately grabbing hold of the bird. Its squawk was deafening. For a moment, it appeared Jessica would jump up and attempt to snatch the bird back, but she only furrowed her brow and rocked more vigorously. Julien got up and rushed for the door. With his free hand, he held it open.

“Inside, hurry up.” He stood holding the door as Jessica scurried in, followed by Beverly, ducking beneath his arm to squeeze by.

Julien stepped inside closing the door against his arm, leaving only a few inches of space. He held the bird out into the patio area then tossed it into the air. A whirl of tumbling blue quickly righted itself in mid-flight. Beyond the glass door, it hovered again, staring at Julien, who turned his back on it.

“There, not very difficult,” Julien winked.

The assistant principal smiled a doubtful grin. Since their acceptance of Jessica into the special education program, the school had their share of battles with Julien Grenier, but Beverly had always found him charming. For all his stubbornness and an occasional sharp tongue, he was a devoted parent to an extremely difficult child, and she had great respect for that.

“Well, that was easy, huh?” Beverly tried not to sound overtly sarcastic. “Okay, I’ll walk you two out,” she said, knowing what would greet them by the time they reached the other side of the building.

They took their time gathering Jessica’s things from her classroom. Beverly hoped she would be wrong and that, if they stalled for time, the bird would grow bored and maybe fly away.

Julien helped Jessica to pull on her jacket and backpack.

“So, the boy…? What are they thinking?” he asked.

Beverly shook her head, “Possibly the father. We just can’t explain how he could have known there would be such a distraction today, or when he could have made a plan with Owen.”

“Owen? He is severe, no? The father has no visitation?”

“Down syndrome. Fairly severe, yes. I’m told the father hasn’t seen the boy in three years. His own choice…just stopped coming around. Sadly, he has shown no interest in his son, making this even more of a shock. If he did, in fact, have something to do with Owen’s disappearance, that is.”

“I know this boy. I remember him. Jessica is very fond of him.”

She knew what his next question would be and quickly added, “The school is very secure. I won’t deny our responsibility in what happened here today, but I assure you, we will take every precaution to ensure nothing like this can ever happen again.”

Julien nodded and took Jessica’s hand.

Beverly led them back down the hallway, all three walking in silence past the now dark office.

Julien opened the door to the street and turned back to thank the assistant principal. He felt a fast gust of wind tussle his hair and something brush close to his cheek.

The jay dove past him, directly for Jessica’s shoulder.

Jessica squealed, enthralled by the return of her tenacious pet.

Julien, expressionless, watched as the bird poked its face through her thick veil of hair then chirp a soft squawk of contentment.

Beverly looked away with a tight-lipped smile; she didn’t want to laugh. She took a few steps backward and held her hands up, as if to silently pass the problem over to Julien. She turned on one heel and walked back to her office grinning.

Julien, now on his own with Jessica and the jay, held the door open wider.

“Come on, let’s go,” he said then ushered Jessica out onto the sidewalk past the few remaining officers and several news vans.

He was glad they were all preoccupied; no one took notice of the large blue jay riding on his daughter’s shoulder.

 

Leaning over the warm bathwater, coupled with a stressful day, Julien’s eyes began to feel heavy. He soaped a washcloth and lathered his daughter’s neck and back.

Jessica stared at her shriveled fingers just below the water’s surface. She hummed to herself, lost in thoughts no one would ever be privy to.

Julien, annoyed by a tapping sound above them, looked up at the shower curtain rod, where the blue jay danced impatiently back and forth. It took a few steps to the left and then the right; over and over, it repeated its nervous dance, methodically tapping and scratching its sharp claws against metal.

What do I do with you? 

On the way home, they stopped to buy a birdcage, but now, every time he tried to put the bird in it, shrill squawking would commence and he feared the neighbors’ complaints would soon follow. His plan was to cage the bird in the morning, just before leaving for school. He would take Jessica to her classroom then drive to the local animal shelter, where he would turn it in, ridding them of the problem for good. He was sure the bird was either someone’s lost pet, or there was something very wrong with it.

Julien’s eyes threatened to close again and his every effort became a physical strain. He removed Jessica from the tub and then wrapped a towel around her shivering, wet body. He playfully roughed her up with the towel, her body shimmying from side to side, under his careful control. She giggled uncontrollably and the bird swooped down with its sharp talons, attempting to find its place on her bare skin. Julien swatted at the thing. He didn’t want to hurt it, but shooed it back to its perch. He finished drying and dressing Jessica for bed.

Cozy, in fresh pajamas, she held her father’s hand as he led her to bed. The bird darted past them, landing on the footboard.

Julien tucked her in and bent to kiss her forehead. He looked at the bird, perched and preening itself peacefully, and with trepidation, he walked away; leaving the door cracked slightly.

He made his way to the kitchen where he turned on a small television atop the refrigerator. If he could just stay awake long enough to do the dishes and clean up, he would allow himself an early night.

The ten o’clock news filled the room with background noise as he squeezed liquid soap onto a sponge above a sink full of soaking dishes. He glanced up and immediately recognized the school on TV.

A reporter stood before the same flagpole he walked past, twice daily, but by the time he focused on what she was saying, the screen shot flipped to a photo of Owen Albright.

As the reporter began listing the details of the boy’s disappearance, Julien’s eyes fell on the baseball jersey he wore in the photo.

The reporter continued, “He was last seen wearing his t-ball uniform, a light blue and white jersey, bearing the number 12 and a Blue Jay logo. Owen might also be…”           

Julien backed away from the television; soapy water drizzled down his arms to the floor as his mind whirled. He could no longer focus or follow the news report. The room fell silent, but the thumping of his heartbeat, pounding in his chest, and he felt the room begin to spin. 

Jessica…

What did you do?     

Read The Rest at Amazon.com  & Amazon.com.UK

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