A knock at the door broke Bailey’s concentration. It was loud enough to be heard over the background noise of the television. They put the pen down and walked over to see who it was.
Sarah stood in the hallway with a wide smile. “I found her.”
“Really? Where is she?”
“She wants us to meet her somewhere. I can take you.”
“Let’s go!” Bailey knew they were being impatient, but they had been in the house for over a week now, and it was starting to get to them. Only so much to do stuck inside.
“Tomorrow. We’re meeting her tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know that the waiting was over. Try to get some rest. I’ll come by at 10 in the morning to get you. Okay?”
Bailey nodded. “I’ll be ready.”
The next morning took its time arriving, and when it did, the knock on the door set Bailey’s heart racing. The two traveled to a small coffee shop several miles away. Rebecca, seated at a table in the back, was the only customer in the place. A lone barista stood behind the counter. Rebecca looked the same as the last time Bailey had seen her. When they approached, there was no smile to greet them.
“How did you find me?” She directed the question at Sarah.
“I have an old friend who specializes in finding things. Don’t worry; I didn’t draw attention to you.”
“It really is unnerving that it was so easy to locate me.”
“It wasn’t. And I’m keeping us hidden now. In fact, I can protect you better if you come back to the house.”
“No.” Rebecca’s tone was final. “I’ve already told you. I can’t risk it. I can’t risk everyone.”
“We can . . .”
“I said no.”
Silence fell over the three of them. Bailey didn’t know what was behind all the tension, and neither woman seemed interested in filling in the details. After a few minutes went by, they cleared their throat a bit.
“I’m sorry to break in, but can I talk to Rebecca alone, Sarah?”
Sarah looked at the other woman, who nodded. “Okay. I’ll sit outside and keep the illusion going. Please let me know if I can do anything.” She sounded resigned, defeated. Her failure to convince Rebecca to return with her seemed to weigh heavily on her.
After Sarah went outside and sat at one of the tables on the sidewalk, Rebecca turned to face Bailey squarely for the first time. “So you wanted to talk to me?” Her voice was a little softer than when she had spoken to Sarah, but there was still an edge to it. She was guarded.
“That’s the first thing you say?”
“Bailey . . . You walked away. Remember?”
That hurt, but only because it was mostly true. Bailey tried to ignore it and move on. “Who’s Marie?”
Rebecca’s face didn’t change expression, but some of the color drained out of it. “Are you jealous?”
“Rebecca . . .”
“No, seriously. Are you? I haven’t seen you in years, and now you track me down to ask about someone else?”
Anger started to rise up in Bailey’s throat, but they recognized Rebecca was trying to push their buttons and derail the conversation. “I’m not jealous. I was given a message to pass along to you . . .”
Rebecca grew even paler. “Who? Who gave you the message?”
“No one. It was left at my door. I don’t know who left it or how they even knew of my connection to you. It just said I was to give it to you. I didn’t know you were in hiding until I arrived at the address you left for me. It was signed ‘Marie.’ So who is she?”
“An old friend . . .” Rebecca was staring off into nothing, chewing on the inside of her mouth. It was a look Bailey had seen before. She was trying to figure out which way to run.
“Well it sounds like your old friend is in trouble. Are you going to help her, or run away again?”
Rebecca gave them a sharp look. “I didn’t run away from you.”
“Fine. Do you want the message or not?”
“Let me see it.”
Bailey pulled a plain envelope from their shirt pocket and handed it over. Rebecca pulled out the single sheet of paper inside. Bailey knew the message by heart and recalled it as Rebecca read through it.
A lot has happened since you left. I know you’re scared, and so am I. Peter is no longer here, but I really need your help. Please.
Rebecca continued to star at the paper.
“See? She’s in trouble.”
“What are these symbols?”
“Symbols? There aren’t any symbols on . . .”
A terrified expression twisted across Rebecca’s face. “Oh no! What did you . . .?” Rebecca’s frantic voice was cut off by a bright flash of light that completely disoriented Bailey.
When their vision began to clear, she saw Sarah standing over them. “Where’s Rebecca?”
The words didn’t make any sense. “What?”
“Rebecca Where is she? What happened?”
Bailey looked around the room. No one else was in the cafe. Rebecca was gone.