Some time earlier.

"She was right there, right next to me." Heather explained to the officer. Her face was puffy and tear streaked. Her mascara had bled and she was disheveled. She and Lucas sat in the office of Officer John Cambell. The man was warm and friendly enough, but his office was cold. "I had only left her for a second. She's fourteen, you know. I thought she'd be okay."

"I looked, and she was there. Next glance she wasn't." Lucas added, hiding his hands in his jacket pockets. "She didn't make a sound or anything."

"Can you give me a description?" Cambell glanced up from his notebook at the distraught siblings.

"She's short, about, uh, maybe five foot two. Long black hair. Brown eyes… fourteen. Pierced her lip a while back." Lucas answered. "She was wearing jeans and a band shirt. I think she had converse on, too. Definitely a sweatshirt."


"Not a lot of it."

"Do you have a recent photograph?"

Heather pulled one from her purse. "Here."

Cambell studied it. "Where were you when you last saw her?"

"We had gone into some mall in town." Lucas said.

"We were only staying in Great Falls for the weekend. We live in a small town near Sacramento." Heather supplied.

"How bad of a drive is that?" Cambell asked.

"Sixteen hours or so." Heather shrugged.

"Sixteen hours for a weekend trip?" The officer asked dubiously. He wondered why anyone would drive that far for such a short amount of time.

"More like a five day trip. Since it was on Memorial Day Weekend, I just started calling it the weekend trip." Lucas explained.

"And Rose went missing today, correct?"

"Yes. At the mall."

"And you saw no one strange or unusual around you? No one that might have stuck out from the ordinary?"

"No." Heather shook her head.

"Not really." Lucas agreed. "Why?"

"You didn't notice anyone following you, or looking at you strangely? Nothing like that?" Cambell asked again, frowning. "You're certain?"

"Not that I can recall." Lucas drummed his fingers on the table top. "Why?"

"What about things you did before you went to the mall? Tell me about that." Cambell suggested, leaning back in his chair.

"We were just hanging out, you know? Saw the falls. That was nice. We really haven't been here long." Lucas ran a hand through his hair, trying to recall anything that the trio had done before- before that. "We got to the hotel… got dinner. . . Visited the town… it's been a pretty basic trip."

"Were you near a lot of tourist hotspots?" Cambell said without looking up from his notes.

"I suppose." Lucas nodded. "Yeah."

Cambell wrung his hands together. "If we are to assume she was kidnapped, places like that are where a lot of kidnappers like to lie in wait. They place themselves at the tourist sites waiting for an unsuspecting victim to arrive. Sometimes they will take them right away. Other times, they stalk them, waiting for a good opportunity."

Heather's eyes narrowed. "What exactly are you saying, Officer?"

"It's a good possibility your sister was watched for a day or two, or however long you've been here, Miss Johnson." Cambell held back a wince. He hated cases like these.

"What kind of -" Heather shuddered. "I can't even…"

"We are going to do everything in our power to get her back." Cambell promised.

"Yeah, you will." Lucas muttered, visibly shaken.

Cambell finished jotting some more notes on to the notepad in front of him. He read back, "Okay, so, we have a missing Rose Azael Johnson, last seen near Great Falls, Montana, this morning, Memorial Day Weekend. Description: Five foot two, long black hair, brown eyes, lip piercing, thin build."

"Mhm." Heather said, verifying his notes.

"Leave us your information. We will give you a call as soon as we know something." Cambell stood up as if to bid them good day, but stopped as something else occurring to him. "Not to offend, but she would not have had any reason to run away, would she?"

"No, she's not like that." Heather said.

"No problems at home?" The officer pushed his chair back into place.

"She seemed pretty happy." Heather smiled. "She was doing really well, actually."

"She's not the runaway type." Lucas concurred.

"What about your parents? Does she have any problems with them?" As Heather and Lucas exchanged glances, Cambell knew he had struck a nerve. He remained silent as the brother and sister collected their thoughts. Heather bit her lip.

Lucas sighed as he spoke, "They spilt. One lives in Europe. One lives in New York."

"They don't really contact us very often," Heather replied softly, not looking up. "They're very into their jobs."

"We have the house in California. They left it to us since I was eighteen when they divorced. Aside from sending us money for the bills and food, we're on our own. But. . ." he glanced at Heather again. "This was about three years ago. It wouldn't bother her now."

"It might," Cambell wondered. "Things like that scar a child."

"Of course she was affected," Heather said. "It got to all of us. She was only eleven when it happened. But she turned out fine. It wouldn't make her run away. She's a strong girl, officer."

Cambell glanced at his watch. Every second they lingered here could cost Rose her life. "I'm going to get started on this. I assure you, we'll do absolutely everything we can to get her back. Your sister will return to you in no time at all. We'll call you as soon as we have more information. How much longer will you be in town?"

"A few more days at least." Lucas said. "After that, I can get a few more days off from the bakery. How much longer do you think we'll need to stay?"

"There's really no way to tell." The officer said sadly. "But, we'll be in touch. We have a possible lead, and I don't think it will be long before she is safe again. I wish you the best of luck." He shook their hands, and gathered his notes, leaving them to talk.

Heather had been fighting back a wave of tears the entire time. With the officer gone, her defenses weakened, and she let them show. "What now?"

"What more can we do?" her brother replied.

"How could we have let this happen?"

"We didn't. It just happened."

"They need to find her soon. Anything could have happened to her." Heather's tears were falling more steadily. She dried them with her sleeves, but soon they were too wet to be of any assistance. Lucas handed her a box of tissues. "Thanks."

"The more you dwell on it, the worse it will be. Let's go back to the hotel. The police will call soon with something."

"I can't just not think about it!" Heather tossed some used tissues into the trash. "My brain doesn't have boxes. I can't just file it away and think about something else for a while!"

"Just start praying, Heath." Lucas said softly. "This is hard on both of us."

"I've been praying since the second she vanished," Heather sniffed.

"We should call mom and dad…" Lucas said flatly.


The two went silence for a minute, neither wanting to call and break the news to their parents. When she could no longer keep quiet, Heather asked, "Will you do it? I just. . . I just can't."

"They won't take it any better from me." Lucas answered.

"Please, Luke?"

"Okay." He pulled his phone from his pocket. His fingers paused over the keys. "I don't know if I can, either."

"I don't blame you."

Lucas began to dial, but was interrupted by a knock. "Officer Cambell. Come in."

Cambell paused at the doorway. "I'm glad you are still here. We would like you to identify something, if you can."

Heather's face went white. "Okay."

Cambell held up a clear, plastic bag. Inside was a sweatshirt, ripped and torn. The sleeve has held on with safety pins. There were cuts and rips decorating the torso and the hood was half missing. "Was this hers?"

"Ohmygod," Heather whimpered. She buried her face in her hands. "Yes."

Lucas's face was hard and even as he examined the jacket. "She had that on this morning."

"We found it in the parking lot," Cambell said, his voice barely above a whisper. "It's a wonder no one stopped them. Clearly, she was struggling."

"No," Lucas smiled sadly, "It was like that before. She called it her 'lucky sweatshirt.'"

"May I?" Heather reached for the bag and Cambell passed it to her. She held it carefully, hugging it to her chest as if she was hugging Rose herself. Something caught her eye as she handed it back to Cambell. "Wait. There's something in the pocket." She opened the bag and despite Cambell's protests, Lucas pulled out the sweatshirt. He found a piece of paper inside, and unfolded it. He felt a wave of nausea come over him as he read the words, scrawled in Rose's chicken scratch. He swallowed. "It says. . . 'Help me.'"

"Don't touch it anymore." Cambell said as he carefully returned both the note and the sweatshirt to the bag. "We'll check both the jacket and the note for finger prints. This should give us a good, stong lead on her kidnapper."

"Are you serious? You haven't checked it for clues yet?" Heather was furious.

Lucas was equally angry. He knew that, rationally, the police would not have had time to examine the sweatshirt yet, but the emotions inside him were taking over. He began to lash out. "Then what's the lead you said you had?"

Cambell knew he had to tread lightly, but he also knew there was not an easy way to have this conversation. He cleared his throat. "Yes, the jacket. To be honest with you, this man could be a professional. He left no marks that we can follow so far. It's very difficult, but we've cracked harder cases before."

"He knew what he was doing," Lucas said, the realization falling onto him like ice water.

"Yes, but that does not mean-"

"What are her chances?" Lucas said evenly, expressionless.

"There is always hope-"

"What are her chances?" His voice deepened, and his face darkened. The officer was quiet. "What are her chances!" Lucas's fury exploded.

"Perhaps you should go now," Cambell said calmly. "I know this is very difficult for you, and being here will only make it worse. You're tired, and frustrated. Go home and try to relax."

"Relax," Lucas scoffed. "Let someone kidnap your sister and then how about you go 'try to relax.'"

"Please send us her sweatshirt as soon as you're finished with it." Heather requested.

Cambell nodded. "You can expect to hear from us in a day or so." He nudged Heather and Lucas out of the office. He did not want to, but he knew that it would only cause more stress for them if they remained at the station. "It's going to be okay, kids."

They looked back at him with broken eyes. He was not even sure if he believed that himself.