Lilah and George sat at the kitchen table in Adam’s house, George with a glass of water and Lilah with a mug of steaming coffee. Adam had excused himself to take a phone call from work leaving George and Lilah alone.
Lilah watched Adam walk out of the room listening to his voice going quieter as he walked further away. She then leaned over the kitchen table looking George in the eye.
“So,” she whispered, “what exactly do you think is going on here?”
George delicately took a sip of his water before putting it back down on the coaster. “I believe Marie ran away, possibly with her boyfriend. I also believe we’ll find out much more through Adam’s wife.”
Lilah cocked her head to the side. “You make it sound as though his wife had something to do with what happened.”
George raised both his eyebrows briefly before taking another sip of water.
Lilah leaned back in her chair cupping her warm mug in both hands. “You do think his wife has something to do with it.”
George nodded. “I just have my suspicions.”
“Marie is a young teenager. There’s no way she would be smart enough to plan all this out. Jack is two years older than her, so he might be able to figure this out. I just don’t know why they would argue unless he was trying to convince her not to go through with this.” George turned his head to look out the window.
Lilah followed his gaze. The kitchen window had the perfect view of the greenhouse. She snorted. They had a greenhouse in their backyard.
Why would Marie want to run away from her home? Her home was everything that Lilah had ever dreamed of when she was growing up. It was spacious, gorgeous, and had all the bells and whistles attached.
Lilah turned her head to look back at George and scrunched up her face. He still gazed outside the window looking deep in thought. She wondered what he was thinking, but before she could ask Adam came back into the room.
“I apologize for that.” He said clipping his cell phone back onto his belt. “You would think being a guidance counselor only happens during school hours, but a lot happens behind the scenes.” He chuckled.
Lilah blinked at Adam. She shifted her eyes to glance at George who also stared blankly at Adam unamused.
Adam cleared his throat. “Anyway, I saw my wife pull into the driveway. She should be in any moment.”
“Thank you.” George curved the corner of his mouth into a polite smile.
Without a moment to spare, a tall woman entered the kitchen. Lilah didn’t even hear her come in through the living room. The lady paused in the doorway upon seeing two strangers sitting at her kitchen table.
She slowly pulled her black pocketbook off her shoulder dropping it on the floor and glanced at her husband. “Adam? We have company?”
“Wendy,” Adam took her by the hand and gently pulled her closer to George and Lilah. “This is George. He’s a private detective, and Lilah, his assistant. They’re here to help us find Marie.”
George stood up and smiled nicely at Wendy. Lilah stood up as well standing beside him following his lead.
“You hired a private detective to help us find Marie…?” Wendy looked at her husband with big eyes.
Lilah couldn’t tell if those eyes were grateful or worry. She glanced at George who remained expressionless. Maybe he was on to something when he thought the mother had something to do with the situation.
“I just went to his office to see our options about finding Marie. He offered to help and I felt I couldn’t say no. But Wendy, get this.” Adam sat his wife down in the chair Lilah had been sitting on.
Adam took out his phone. Lilah peered over to see what he was doing and noticed the screen open up his bank account information.
“Our savings account is empty!” Adam turned his phone around so Wendy could see.
Wendy stared at the screen for a moment. Then she jumped with a gasp and looked up at her husband. “No!” she exclaimed.
Lilah arched an eyebrow looking at George. She caught Wendy’s delayed reaction to the lack of funds in their account. She wasn’t sure if that reaction was from sincere shock or pretend shock. George too glanced at Lilah briefly before turning his attention back to Wendy. It seemed as though he might have been thinking the same thing as Lilah.
“How did this happen?” Wendy handed Adam’s phone back to him.
“You tell me. You handle the bills and our accounts.” Adam shrugged his shoulders.
Lilah tried to keep a steady poker-face. Adam didn’t mention before the Wendy handled their finances.
Wendy glared at her husband standing up while stomping her foot. “Are you suggesting I had something to do with Marie’s disappearance?” she demanded.
Lilah pressed her lips together. She was getting a little too defensive too quickly.
“What? No. I wasn’t suggesting that at all.” Adam shook his head sincerely. “I just meant that since you handle the accounts, did you notice when the money was taken out?”
“If I knew the money was drained out of the account, don’t you think I would have told you right away?” Wendy snapped.
Adam took a step back. “Okay. No need to get so excited.”
“Our daughter stole all that money from us and ran away without notice! Of course I’m going to get excited!” Wendy threw her arms up in the air.
“Mrs. Fowlo,” George took a step forward. Lilah stepped behind him. It was about time he interfered. “No one is accusing you of anything and I understand you must be under a great deal of stress due to the situation. However, if you just take a deep breath and cooperate, we can get to the bottom of this and ultimately find your daughter. That is what we want… Right?”
Wendy’s eyes grew wide once more. “Uh, yes. Of course. Why wouldn’t I want to find my daughter?” she glared at him again.
Lilah rubbed the back of her neck looking the other way. She was beginning to think George’s theory of Wendy being involved with this somehow was spot on. Marie’s mother didn’t play dumb very well.
“If you don’t mind, I would like to ask you a few questions.” George took out his notepad.
Wendy put a hand to her forehead. “Oh, I’m sorry. This is all too much for me. I’m afraid I have to go lie down. Maybe another time, Detective.” She turned to leave the kitchen.
“There may not be another time, depending on where Marie is.” George glared the mother.
Wendy didn’t respond. She picked up her pocketbook and left the kitchen.
Adam sighed. “I deeply apologize, George… Wendy’s has been very uptight since Marie’s disappeared. Every time I talk about it, every time I discover something new, she gets a headache and locks herself in our bedroom for a few hours. I think it’s her coping mechanism.”
“I think it’s her hiding something…” Lilah muttered leaning towards George.
George elbowed her gently. Lilah stood up straight again, though she didn’t think Adam heard what she said. He wasn’t even looking at them, but gazing at the ground.
“We’ll give your wife some time.” George stated. “In the meantime, I would like to take another look around Marie’s bedroom, if that’s alright.”
Adam stared at him in confusion. “Uh, okay. If you think that will help.”