Long Lost Page 66

He stopped. I looked over. Berleand was on the phone. I texted the name ’’Carrie Steward’’ to both Esperanza and Terese. Let them start digging into her too. I kept waiting for someone from the school to start over toward us, but so far, no one had. We both sat on the grass now, facing back toward the campus. The sun was beginning to dip down, painting the sky burnt orange.

’’So what happened?’’ I asked.

’’We started talking. She told me her name was Carrie. She wanted to hear other songs. But she kept looking around, like she was afraid her friends would see her hanging out with me. Made me feel like a loser, but maybe it was a townie-versus-preppy thing, I don\'t know. That\'s what I thought anyway. At first. We met a few more times after that. She would be at the library with her friends and then we\'d sneak out in the back and just talk and listen to music. One day I told her about a band that was playing in Nor-walk. I asked her if she wanted to go. Her face turned white. She looked so scared. I said, no big deal, but Carrie said, maybe we could try. I said I could pick her up at her house. She freaked. I mean, really freaked.’’

The air was getting cool. Berleand finished on the phone. He looked back at me, saw our faces, knew it was best to stay away.

’’So what happened next?’’

’’So she tells me to park at the end of Duck Run Road. She said she\'d meet me there at nine o\'clock. So I park there a few minutes before nine. It\'s dark out. I\'m just sitting there. There\'s no light on the road or anything. I\'m waiting. It\'s nine fifteen now. I hear a noise and then suddenly my car door opens and I\'m being pulled out.’’

Ken stopped. There were more tears on his face. He wiped them away.

’’Someone punches me straight in the mouth. Knocks out two teeth.’’ He showed me. ’’They drag me out of the car. I don\'t know how many of them. Four, maybe five, and they\'re kicking me. I just cover up, you know, put my hands over my head, and I think I\'m going to die. Then I\'m rolled onto my back. And held down. I still can\'t see any faces and man, I don\'t want to. One of them puts a knife right in front of me. He says, \'She doesn\'t want you to talk to her again. If you say a word about this, we kill your family.\' ’’

Ken and I sat there and said nothing for a few moments. I looked over at Berleand. He shook his head. Nothing on Carrie Steward.

’’That\'s it,’’ he said. ’’I never saw her again. Or any of those kids she hung out with. It\'s like they disappeared.’’

’’Did you tell anyone?’’

He shook his head.

’’How did you explain your injuries?’’

’’I said I got jumped outside the concert. You won\'t tell anyone, will you?’’

’’I won\'t tell anyone,’’ I said. ’’But we need to find her, Ken. Do you have any clue where Carrie might be?’’

He said nothing.

’’Ken?’’

’’I asked her where she lived. She wouldn\'t tell me.’’

I waited.

’’But one day’’ he stopped, took a deep breath ’’I followed her after she left the library.’’

Ken looked away and blinked.

’’So you know where she lives?’’

He shrugged. ’’Maybe, I don\'t know. I don\'t think so.’’

’’Can you show me where you followed her to?’’

Ken shook his head. ’’I can give you directions,’’ he said. ’’But I don\'t want to go with you, okay? Right now I just want to go home.’’

38

THE chain that blocked our way had a sign on it that read: PRIVATE ROAD.

We pulled ahead and parked around the corner. There was nothing in view but crop fields and woods. So far, our various sources had come up with nothing on any Carrie Steward. The name may have been a pseudonym, but everyone was still searching. Esperanza called me and said, ’’I have something that might interest you.’’

’’Go ahead.’’

’’You mentioned a Dr. Jiménez, a young resident who worked with Dr. Cox when he was starting up CryoHope?’’

’’Right.’’

’’Jiménez is also connected to Save the Angels. He attended a retreat that they sponsored sixteen years ago. I\'m going to run a search on him, see if he can give us some information on the embryo adoption.’’

’’Okay, good.’’

’’Is Carrie short for anything?’’ she asked.

’’I don\'t know. Maybe Caroline?’’

’’I\'ll check and get back to you when I know something.’’

’’One more thing.’’ I gave her the closest intersection. ’’Can you Google the address and see what you come up with?’’

’’Nothing coming up under the address in terms of who lives there. Looks like you\'re on farmland or something. No idea who owns it. Want me to look into it?’’

’’Please.’’

’’Back to you as soon as I can.’’

I hung up. Berleand said, ’’Take a look.’’

He pointed at a tree near the front of the road. A security camera was aimed at the entrance.

’’Strict security,’’ he said, ’’for a farm.’’

’’Ken told us about the private road. He said Carrie walked up it.’’

’’If we do that, we will most certainly be seen.’’

’’If the camera is even in use. It could be just a prop.’’

’’No,’’ Berleand said. ’’A prop would be more in plain sight.’’

He had a point.

’’We could simply walk up the road anyway,’’ I said.

’’Trespassing,’’ Berleand added.

’’Big deal. We need to do something here, right? There must be a farmhouse or something up the drive.’’ Then I thought about something. ’’Wait a second.’’

I called Esperanza back.

’’You\'re in front of the computer, right?’’

’’Right,’’ she said.

’’Google-map the location I just gave you.’’

Quick typing. ’’Okay, got it.’’

’’Now click the Satellite Photo option and zoom in.’’

’’Hold on . . . okay, it\'s up.’’

’’What\'s up that small road on the right side of the road?’’

’’Lots of green and what looks like a pretty big house from the top. Maybe two hundred yards from where you are, no more. It\'s all alone up there.’’

’’Thanks.’’

I hung up. ’’There\'s a big house.’’

Berleand took off his glasses, cleaned them, held them up to the light, cleaned them some more. ’’What do we think is going on here exactly?’’

’’Truth?’’


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