It was around noon time when Lilah came home from school. She walked through the front door of George’s private-eye business and tossed her backpack to the side in the hallway. She heaved a sigh staggering down the hall towards George’s office.
Her school semester would be wrapping up soon, but finals were going to kill her. She couldn’t wait for it to be over so she could just stay with George all day and help him with his caseload.
Except he hasn’t had a case in two weeks.
As Lilah got closer to George’s office at the end of the hall she realized that his door was shut. It was never shut. Once she stood right on the other side of the door she could hear voices. She cocked an eyebrow wondering who George could have been talking to. Did he have a case that she didn’t know about? She had to know about it.
Should she barge in there? Probably not. But she was going to anyway.
Lilah knocked on the door and opened it without bothering to wait for a response. As soon as she stepped foot into the office her eyes widened in surprise.
“Lilah,” George said standing up from his desk. He didn’t sound surprised to see her, nor did he sound frustrated that she walked right in without an invitation.
George’s guest sat in the chair opposite of George. He turned his head to face Lilah and stood up abruptly. “Lilah?”
Lilah pointed to the man and shifted her confused gaze to George. “What is Mr. Fowlo doing here?”
Mr. Fowlo was a guidance counselor at Lilah’s old high school. She was assigned to a different counselor due to her last name beginning with “W,” but she did see Mr. Fowlo wandering the halls here and there. She had spoken to him a couple of times, but they were always just friendly quick conversations in passing.
“Adam,” George pointed to Mr. Fowlo, “Lilah here is my assistant.”
Lilah’s raised an eyebrow at George using her former teacher’s first name.
“Really?” Adam’s eyes widened impressed. “We never thought you would end up working in criminal justice.”
“We? And what do you mean you didn’t see me going down this route?” Lilah folded her arms across her chest suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Was that supposed to be an insult?
“Adam has a case for us, Lilah.” George responded. He eyed her knowing all too well she was taking offense when she probably didn’t need to.
Lilah nodded and walked closer to the men. Her arms remained folded as George offered her his comfy desk chair. He grabbed a folded chair from the other side of the room bringing it back behind his desk. Adam followed suit sitting back down in his own chair.
“So, what did I miss?” Lilah asked.
George unfolded his chair sitting down. “Only introductions. We were just about to begin.” Lilah nodded and the two of them turned their attention to Adam staring at him expectantly.
Adam drew in a deep breath. “Okay, I don’t really know how to say this, so excuse me if I’m blunt. My daughter went missing this morning.”
“This morning?” Lilah said in disbelief.
“I called the police, but they said there was nothing they could do unless she’s been missing for 24-hours.” Adam leaned forward holding his head in his hands.
“Okay, well let’s just figure out the basics. What’s your daughter’s name and how old is she?” George asked.
“Her name is Marie and she’s 15-years-old.” Adam said his voice shaking.
“So she’s a minor and doesn’t have her driving license…” George muttered to himself writing down some notes. He looked back up at Adam. “Do you think she left somewhere on her own or…?”
Adam bit his lower lip. He turned away rubbing the back of his neck. “She’s been seeing this guy. He’s two years older than her. I think she might have gone somewhere with him.”
“I assume you don’t approve of this boy?” Lilah wondered.
“No, he’s a very nice gentleman. He’s good to her and polite and respectful to my wife and I.” Adam shook his head.
“Then she shouldn’t be in any danger with him?” George cocked his head to the side in confusion. “I’m not really understanding the issue. It doesn’t seem anything is wrong other than the fact you don’t know where your daughter and her boyfriend went out on a date.”
Adam leaned back in his chair fidgeting. He wrung his hands together while crossing and uncrossing his legs. “Okay, okay… I’ll just start from the beginning.”
“That would be helpful.” Lilah deadpanned.
“Marie’s boyfriend is named Jack. He comes over the house a lot whereas he can drive himself and Marie can’t. He lives about 20 minutes away by car.” Adam took another deep breath. “Anyway, he came over on Saturday. He usually comes over Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but he didn’t come over the house on Sunday. I assumed he had a prior commitment, so I didn’t question it.”
Lilah rested her elbow on the armrest of her chair and rested her head in her hand looking bored. Adam needed to tell the story from the beginning, but she didn’t realize he would tell it so dully.
“But on Monday, I went up to Marie’s bedroom to let her know dinner was ready. Before I knocked I heard her talking on the phone. She was talking to Jack because she said his name, but it sounded like they were having an argument. When she came out of her room, she was pretty peeved. I asked what was wrong, but she only snapped at me saying she didn’t want to talk about it.” Adam explained.
Lilah shifted in her seat suddenly more interested in what he had to say. George leaned over his desk folding his hands together.
“On Tuesday, the same thing happened right before dinner. I stepped into her room to ask what was wrong. She was sitting on her bed, talking on the phone, with a huge stack on money piled in front of her. I confronted her, but didn’t get much out of her. She was too angry with me that I was being nosy and walked into her room without knocking…” Adam looked down at the ground letting out a sigh.
George raised both of his eyebrows. “Huh. That’s suspicious indeed.”
“This morning she didn’t wake up for school. I was already at work, so my wife called me frantically saying she went into Marie’s room to wake her, but she was gone. Her bedroom was pristine, spotless. We searched for the money, searched for anything out of the ordinary, but couldn’t find a thing.” Adam crossed his legs again folding his arms across his chest. “We called the police, but they wouldn’t help.”
“It sounds as though Marie had this planned.” George observed.
“You think she ran away?” Lilah asked George full with concern.
George stood up from his chair. “I think we should take a visit to your house, Adam. Meet your wife, check out Marie’s bedroom. If she really did run away, she may not want to be found.”