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Damaged – Ch. 1

“Mr. Reese?”

“Good morning, Finch.” The rising sun poured into the car where Reese sat, watching the current number through binoculars. The teenage girl was getting ready for school and he quickly averted his gaze as she began to change her clothes, his sharp eyes searching the idyllic, tree-lined street. “Got anything for me?”

“Yes, but not anything you’re going to like.”

“Oh?” He glanced back toward the window; she had on a skinny little tank and was standing before the mirror, one hand resting on her belly. Suddenly, she lunged across the room and he lost sight of her in the bathroom. “Does the Machine pick up self-harmful behavior, like an eating disorder?”

“No. Why?”

“Miss Prescott has vomited at least twice each morning for the last three mornings.”

“I see…and does she induce the vomiting?”

“No, she just runs to the bathroom.” The girl returned to her room, looking pale and worried.

“Perhaps she has the flu.”

“She’s fine the rest of the day.”

“Oh,” Finch said and Reese arched an eyebrow.

“Know something I don’t?”

“Morning sickness, Mr. Reese – she’s pregnant.”

“And you have some experience with that?”

“Have you looked into the boyfriend?” Finch asked, ignoring him.

“Yeah, his name is Carson Miller, also sixteen. Maintains a four point, no trouble with the law, comes from a wealthy family. Father is a lawyer, mother died four years ago in a car accident. She was hit by a drunk driver. Funny thing – Miss Prescott hasn’t called him once since her number came up.”

Finch made a thoughtful noise. “I’ll add him and his father to the list of suspects. Now, the reason I called-”

“That’s right, you have bad news for me.”

“Not bad, precisely, just inconvenient. We have another number. It came though this morning and it appears to be fairly urgent.”

“Who is it?”

“Daniel Sutton.”

“Sutton…” Reese frowned behind his binoculars. “Why does that name sound familiar?”

“His family has been in the papers and on the news frequently. Last spring, his wife, Carrie Sutton vanished from their home while he and his three children were on an impromptu fishing trip. No sign of forced entry or foul play, but she wasn’t the type to just disappear. Mr. Sutton’s story has never checked out and he has been a person of interest from the beginning, but without evidence, or proof that crime was even committed, the police have their hands tied. The children have been placed with relatives, but he’s allowed supervised visits in his home.”

“You think he did it?”

“Her number never showed up, so if he did, it wasn’t premeditated. I don’t know.”

“So what do you think? Is he the victim, or the perpetrator?”

“I don’t know,” Finch said again. “My gut says perpetrator. If he’s planning to kidnap his children and make a run for it, the social worker would be the clear target.”

“I can run with that,” Reese said, setting his field glasses in the passenger’s seat. It was getting too late to safely keep his vigil. The neighborhood was waking up and there was no telling when some well-intentioned neighbor might notice him and call the police. “Of course, the wife’s family might not like the speed at which the investigation is progressing; they might try to take matters into their own hands. Or maybe she did run away and she’s planning to kill him and take her kids back.”

“Like I said, Mr. Reese, it was just a gut feeling. I could be wrong.”

“No, not you,” Reese teased, picturing his employer’s long-suffering expression as a tired sigh filtered through the earpiece. “Send me his address. I’ll head over and establish eyes and ears on him after I make sure Miss Prescott gets to school okay. Odds are she’ll be safe there, but I’ll keep the link to her cell mic open, just in case.”

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” Finch said.

“Will do,” Reese said, ending the call and starting the car as a sleek, black sedan pulled up in front of the Prescott house. The car belonged to Kaylee Richards, the elder sister of Ashley Richards, Amy Prescott’s best friend since the third grade. After a moment, Miss Prescott exited her home and climbed into the back seat of the sedan. Reese watched them pull away, then he eased away from the curb and began to follow.

Next –>

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