Excerpt #7 – Chapter 2:

When she turned towards him, he recognized Connie Baker, who ran one of the gift shops on Kelsey Boulevard. He put his hands flat on the counter.

“Hey, Connie. Everything all right?”

The woman stopped pacing and leaned her upper body on the countertop. “Oh, Ben.

I heard you’re back.”

“Wow, that got around fast,” he said.

Her swollen eyes were red-rimmed, and she grasped shredded tissues in one hand. She wiped her nose before speaking again.

“It’s my daughter, Izzie.” She looked down at her hands, and tears rolled down her chin onto her fingers. She wiped them away and cleared her throat. “Izzie and her cousin.

They didn’t come home the last night. I’ve called all her friends.”

Ben grabbed the box of tissues from Trudy’s desk and passed it to her. He flipped the inner lock off the hidden gate on the counter to open it, so it made a pass-through. “Why don’t you come in here, and I’ll take the report?”

Connie seemed to shrink into herself as she entered the bullpen. Ben knew it could be intimidating for some townspeople, making a police report. Zack hovered nearby.

Ben motioned to the chair beside his new-to-him desk. “Can we get you a coffee?


Connie sat on the edge of the chair and shook her head. She kept wiping tears from her cheeks with the back of one hand. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “My husband said to wait another couple of hours, but I don’t know. Izzie always stays over at her friend Jolene’s place and now…” The tears started up again.

“And now?” Ben probed gently.

“I phoned Jolene this morning, and she said she never saw Izzie or Sherida last night or the night before. It was a lie Izzie told me. There was no party at Jolene’s, so I have no idea where they went. Jolene was home ‘cause she was grounded.” Connie sniffed and wiped her nose again. “Her mom told me that, so I know it’s true.”

Ben looked at Zack and said, “Can you please get Mrs. Baker a glass of water?” He raised his eyebrows until Zack got the message and left for the water. Then he turned to his computer and pulled up a missing person’s form. “Let’s start with your daughter. I’ll need a few particulars. What’s her full name?”

“Isabella Dawn Baker. She goes by Izzie.”

“And her date of birth?”

“February 5, 2002. She just graduated high school this June.”

“Okay, does she have any identifying marks or tattoos?”

Connie sniffed and then thanked Zack as he handed her a glass of water. She took a small sip and placed it on the desk. “No, nothing. We would never let her get a tattoo.

Her ears have five piercings in each of them.” “Height and weight?”

Connie began crying again.

“I’m sorry,” said Ben. “I know these questions are upsetting, but we’re going to find her. It’ll be all right.”

Never make promises to citizens, he heard his training officer’s voice in his head from years ago. Never promise them you’ll find a loved one. But Churchill was a small, remote, place. How far could two girls have gone in one night?

“She’s about 5’2” and 120 lbs. She’s always worrying she’s too fat.” Connie sniffled again. “She was wearing green khaki shorts and a camo tank top with a lavender hoodie last night. And she had a ton of makeup on.”

“Thanks, Connie, that’s really helpful.” Ben typed it all into the computer report.

“When was the last time you saw her?”

“She and her cousin left just after nine-thirty last night. She said they were going to Jolene’s, but they…” She stopped and clenched her fists in her lap. “They never showed up there. I have no idea where they went, and Jolene said Izzie hadn’t told her anything. Her mother put the fear of God into her to tell me the truth.”

“And what’s Jolene’s full name and address?”

Connie took another sip of water. “Jolene Shaw. They live at 42 Edge Street.”

“Has Izzie ever not come home before?”

“A couple of times, but she was always at Jolene’s place.” Connie raised her tearstained face to his. “She’s a bit wild, but not this wild. And my niece…” She stifled a sob.