Crossroads(8)

By: Chantal Fernando



She clears her throat, also looking uncomfortable, but then her expression goes blank. “Now tell me everything you found out. I need to know. We don’t have time to waste, I want my cousin back.”

I realize that I don’t even know her name.

“What’s your name?” I ask, leaning back in my seat.

She licks her lips, then says, “Johanna.”

Johanna, I repeat in my head, then lean forward and tell her everything she needs to know.





FOUR


Johanna


EVER since my cousin went missing, I’ve been a wreck. I wonder if people can tell. I’m barely holding on, but I know that I need to stay strong, that everyone is looking to me with hope in their eyes, like I’m their last chance of finding her.

I have to find her.

I don’t know why we need a biker working with us, but at this point I’ll take any help I can get. Is he here because of the supposed biker connection to her disappearance? And if so, wouldn’t he side with the bikers? I’m curious about the man sitting across from me. Not only have I never seen a biker so good-looking, I’ve never seen any man so striking. He’s tall, extremely so. I wonder if he ever played basketball. Dark, thick hair tied at his nape, bright hazel eyes framed in thick dark lashes. Lashes wasted on a boy. He runs his hand across the stubble on his cheeks as I realize I haven’t paid any attention to the last thing he said.

I clear my throat and respond to the last thing I remember. “I’ll see if anyone reported another girl missing. We might have to wait another twenty-four hours though. I’ll alert the police that the bar might be being used to lure women into whatever they are doing with them. I really hope we can stop this before it happens again.”

The thought of my cousin missing makes it hard for me to breathe. What was she doing at that stupid biker bar? It seems so out of character for her. Elizabeth hardly even drank.

While we don’t see each other that often, Elizabeth and I are still pretty close, our whole family is, and her disappearance has been hard on everyone. Whenever we have a problem, we call each other to vent. When I’m down, she cheers me up, and vice versa. She’s more like a sister to me than anything, since I’m an only child, and we’ve shared a lot of memories together.

I remember when I visited her over the holidays one year, I think I was about seven. We were playing on the playground with a few other kids, and one of the little boys pushed Elizabeth down because she wouldn’t get off the swing. Without thinking, I rushed over to the boy and punched him in the face. Blood started gushing from his nose. I helped Elizabeth up and pulled her into me, protecting her, always protecting her. For as long as I can remember.

Where is she?

I’ve been a cop for the last four years, just like my mother before me, and I’ve seen things that will haunt me in my dreams forever. However, when something like this happens to you personally, you get to feel firsthand how the people you usually try to help feel, and it’s unlike any pain I’ve ever known. The helplessness, the worry. I can’t sleep; I can’t eat; I keep playing out different scenarios in my head. I keep dreaming about her, calling out for help, and I’m trying but I can’t save her. I need to save her. I keep telling myself that I’m not doing enough, that I need to push more, try harder. How can I be okay knowing that she’s out there, going through god knows what?

“Excellent,” Ranger says, looking like he wants to escape. He never told me his name, but when Faye texted me, she said I’d be meeting with Ranger. What kind of name is that anyway? How’d he get it?

“I’ll call you and let you know how it goes,” I say when he stays silent. “Will you let me know if you find anything else?”

He nods once, throws some money on the table . . . for my coffee? Then stands and leaves before I can protest, my mouth open, about to tell him that I can pay for myself. He didn’t even have anything to drink, and he left a twenty-dollar bill.

Who exactly is this man?

• • •

The next day, I decide to call Faye instead of Ranger with the bad news. Another girl has gone missing—the same one from the video footage. I let the police know what we found out, and place some undercover cops in the area. Why didn’t we think to stake out the bar? Sure, I went there a few times, but I didn’t set up cameras. How did the club even set up the video surveillance? Never mind—I don’t want to know. These bikers think that the law doesn’t apply to them, that they have their own set of rules, but this time it benefited the case, and possibly will save lives, so how can I complain? I just want my cousin back, and the truth is that I’d lie, cheat, and steal to make that a reality.

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