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But she sounded so scared. My mother rarely sounds terrified since she can’t usually feel fear through the heavy amount of drugs in her system.
“I have an aunt that lives in the same town,” I tell Clara as she slides into the torn leather seat of the Jeep. “I haven’t talked to her in forever and she absolutely hates my mother, but maybe I could call her and convince her to go check on things.”
“I still think you should call the police first and see if they’ll do it.” She straps the seatbelt over her shoulder. “After that message, it’d be better for the police to check up on her.”
I sigh heavily. I’ve already falsely reported her missing over a dozen times. Worried or not, the idea of calling the police is embarrassing. Still, after hearing her message, I’d be a shitty son if I didn’t. “Fine, I’ll give it a try.”
“Do it as soon as you can.” Clara smoothes her thumb between my brows, erasing the worry lines. “So you don’t have to worry.” Her eyes widen at the awareness of her intimate gesture and she hastily withdraws her hand. “I should get home. It’s getting late.”
Nodding, I close the door.
We make the short drive to her house eating our ice cream and listening to Coldplay, and don’t really speak much until we’re pulling up to the two-story apartment complex she lives in.
Like every other night when I drop her off, her muscles wind into knots when she reaches for the door to get out.
“Thanks for tonight.” Even though the cab is dark, I can feel her blushing. “I had fun.”
“Anytime.” I force a light tone, despite the worry jostling around inside me.
“Call me if you need anything.” She pushes open the door, then swings her feet to the curb and slides out. She starts to shut the door, but pauses. “You know what? Call me tomorrow and let me know what happens. I want to know you’re okay.” She closes the door and hurries up the sidewalk toward the entrance doors of the complex.
Elation swells inside my chest, but it quickly deflates as I start the drive to my house, wondering what to do about my mother. What if she’s already dead? Do I really care? Guilt forms a big, old, air-restricting lump in my throat. Whether I love or hate my mother, I still need to find out what happened to her.
As soon as I make it home, I call the police department. I use the house phone so I can play the officer the message. He tells me they’ll check up on it, but only out of obligation.
“Jax, you know she does this stuff all the time,” Officer Del Monterlis sounds really annoyed, as if my phone call has ruined his entire night.
“I know, but I need you to at least swing by her place and check up on her. She said she was in trouble with Marcus. And it sounded like she said he was going to kill her before she got cut off.”
“We don’t know that for sure.”
I sink down onto the mattress. “What else would the k stand for?”
He sighs into the receiver. “Fine, I’ll stop by and see if I can find any signs of foul play, but I’ll put money on it that the message you got was simply over the fact that she was under the influence. She’s been arrested for drug possession and driving under the influence three times over the past two months. In fact, she might have left you the message so she could stage her disappearance and avoid her trial.”
Sadly, he could be right.
“As for this Marcus guy,” he continues, “he has a rep for dealing, but that’s about it, so I’m guessing, if he did threaten her, it was an empty threat. You know how those things go when someone’s living that type of lifestyle.”
“Yeah, I know.” I thank him for his help, and then we hang up with the promise of him calling me back. I decide not to tell Avery until I hear back from him. There’s no point in getting her all riled up if this turns out to be nothing.
By the time I lie down to go to bed, it’s after two o’clock in the morning. I fall asleep quickly but sleep like shit for most of the night, tossing and turning and constantly waking up.
When my phone rings at sunrise, I’m already up and dressed. I answer it, crossing my fingers it’s Del and he’ll have good news.
“We didn’t find her,” Del immediately tells me after I say hello. “And, other than the door being busted in, the house is about as trashed as it was the last time I was over there.”
“Why was the door busted in?” I sit down on the edge of the bed and stare out the window. The sun is shining in the clear sky, and the trees are green with leaves. So bright and cheery, yet I feel so dark inside. “That has to be suspicious, right?”
“Normally, yes, but when it comes to your mother, not really. Every time we get a call from her, the house is trashed in one way or another, usually from the people she lets into her home.”
“But what if that’s not the reason this time? What if she really is in trouble?”
“There’s still not much we can do. She’s an adult who has a habit of disappearing when she needs to.”
I massage my temples as pressure builds under my skull. “I know, but I just have this feeling that something’s wrong.”
“Something’s always wrong when it comes to her, Jax,” he replies exhaustedly. “There’s a huge file on my desk right now of the missing reports you and Avery have filed over the years.”
“I still think I should fill out a new one,” I tell him. “Just in case.”