Sitting around the dining room table, everyone looked to Sarah. It may have been Thomas’s house, but all the residents recognized Sarah as the de facto leader. It had been she who called them all together.
“Rebecca is missing,” she began, without preamble.
“I thought she had already left?” David hadn’t been happy upon hearing of her departure.
“She had,” Sarah replied. “But Bailey and I went to meet with her.” She gestured towards Bailey, who ducked their head sheepishly. “During that meeting, she vanished amid a bright flash of light.”
“So you think she was abducted,” Julia said, rather than asked.
“I don’t really think she would have agreed to meet if she was just going to leave in the middle of it.” Sarah tried not to sound defensive.
Julia held up her hand. “I’m not doubting you. I just want to understand what happened. Was there any sign before she disappeared? Any indication of what sort of magic was used?”
“No. I wasn’t actually there. I had gone outside to give Bailey and Rebecca some privacy. I saw a flash, and when I ran back inside, Rebecca was gone.”
“Bailey? What happened? Tell us everything you can remember.”
Clearly nervous and upset, Bailey looked up at Julia. “We were just talking, catching up a little. I think she was scared, but not of me. I was asking her for help with my living situation. Next thing I knew, a bright flash knocked me backwards. When my vision cleared, Sarah was standing over me, and Rebecca was nowhere to be seen.”
Julia sat back in her chair and began chewing the inside of her lip.
“So that’s it?” David asked. “We don’t have any leads?”
“Peter,” Sarah replied. “He has already tried to get her once. Maybe this was him again.”
David looked at Julia. “Could he have escaped wherever you sent him?”
“Yeah. I mean, I just got him out of the house; I didn’t imprison him.”
“Who’s Peter?” Bailey asked.
“Someone from Rebecca’s past, before you. Did she tell you anything about her life back then?” Sarah found herself surprised that Bailey didn’t seem to know.
“No. She never wanted to talk about that.”
“Oh. Well, he had tried to get her to leave with him about a month ago. Are you sure you didn’t see anyone else?”
“It was just me and her.”
“This is a waste of time.” Thomas finally spoke up. “Rebecca left the house. She isn’t our responsibility any longer.”
Before Sarah could respond, Julia leapt to her feet. “Just abandon her to fate? Do you already know? Is that why you are so quick to give up on her?”
Thomas stayed in his seat and kept his voice even. “First, you get mad because I tried to save you. Now, you are mad because I am not trying to save Rebecca. You need to be a bit more consistent.”
“You are avoiding my questions.”
“Alright. I do not know what happens to Rebecca. My point is simply that she left. If she had stayed, we could have helped her. And she knew that. She must have had reasons for leaving, for not relying on our help. I simply believe we should respect her choice.”
“I’m not comfortable with that,” David said. “She is still our friend.”
“Beyond that, I feel responsible for her being there in the first place. I tracked her down and got her to come meet us. I want to make sure she’s safe, even if she doesn’t want our help.”
Thomas stood and shrugged his shoulders. “You do not need my permission. You are each free to pursue whatever you wish, as long as you do not endanger the house. I choose to return to my studies.”
As he left, Julia glared at his back.
“That . . .”
Sarah cut her off. “Let him be. I understand your frustration, but let’s focus on Rebecca.”
Julia slumped back down into her chair. “Fine. But we need to deal with him at some point, and soon. Otherwise, I don’t think I can stay.”
“We will. For now, would you please check the cafe?”
“Sure. What am I looking for?”
“Since you specialize in spatial magic, I was hoping you might be able to figure out what was used, how she was spirited away.”
“I’ll go with her,” David volunteered.
Sarah looked at Julia, who simply nodded.
“Okay, while you two are gone, I’m going to retrace some of the steps I took finding Rebecca in the first place.”
“What can I do?” Bailey looked at each of them in turn.
Sarah thought for a moment. “If you can remember anything, either from the cafe or from your past with her, that might give us something to go on. Anything at all.”
“Okay.” Julia stood up again. “I’ll let you know if I find anything. Let’s go, David.” The two headed towards the front door.
“Be careful,” Sarah called after them before leaving the room herself.