Barely takes my calls. I just thought . . . or hoped that she might have been in touch with you.”
Another long pause and he could almost see his famous mother-in-law pull herself together. “Me too.”
Trent felt obliged to ask, “Any news on Allie?” though he knew there wasn’t. If Allie Kramer or her body had been found it would be splashed all over the news, tabloids, and Internet. She’d been missing for over three weeks and Dead Heat was soon to premiere. Allie Kramer, its star, had disappeared before the last day of shooting, or more precisely, reshooting, of the ending for the film. No one had seen or heard from her since.
A catch in her voice, Jenna said, “Nothing yet.”
She sighed. “Precisely.”
He felt like a heel. “I’m sorry,” he said again. It was a platitude. Heartfelt, but a platitude. As the days and weeks had passed, hope for finding Allie Kramer alive had diminished, though, now that the movie was to be released, interest in her fate and whereabouts was ramping to new levels. He knew from personal experience. As Cassie’s husband of record
and Allie’s brother-in-law, he’d been dealing with the press himself. “Look, I’ll give Cassie a call, see if she’ll take it and let me know what’s up.”
“I appreciate it, Trent.” She sounded weary. “Good-bye.”
He stared at the screen a second or two after the call ended, then speed-dialed Cassie. Might as well get it over with.
The call connected, and he heard it ringing. “Come on,” he said under his breath, his gut clenching at the thought of talking to her again. He dropped his visor down where a picture of her was clipped. In the shot her smile curved up on one side, a naughty little grin, her eyes sparkling green, her brows arched, her pointed chin at an angle, her tousled hair tossed behind one shoulder. Sexy. Seductive. Smart.
The line rang again.
His jaw clenched.
He waited through three more rings, but of course, she didn’t pick up.
Cassie grabbed an iced coffee from a Starbucks near La Cienega
Boulevard and as she sipped it at an umbrella table on the sidewalk, she went through her phone messages again. Since leaving Portland, she’d collected four voice messages: one from her mother; another from Whitney Stone, a reporter who had dogged her before she’d entered the hospital; a third from Holly Dennison, who was a set designer and, if not a friend, an acquaintance; and the last, she noted, biting her lower lip, was from Trent.
Her mother had asked her to call, Whitney wanted to meet, and Holly had said, “Hey, I’m in LA. I think I saw you at the airport. Give me a call.”
Finally, it had been Trent’s turn. “It’s me,” and the timbre of his voice touched a forbidden part of her heart. “Jenna called. She’s worried. Wants to know what’s going on with you. She said you were in the airport or taking a trip.” A pause. Cassie held her breath. “Give me a call when you can. Or her.” Another pause and then her undoing, “Take care, Cass.”
“As if you give a crap,” she whispered, her throat instantly thick. That was the problem. If Trent showed her any hint of kindness whether heartfelt or fake, it got to her.
She erased all the messages, then checked her texts. Again, one from that reporter, Whitney Stone, asking to meet. No way. Not when Whitney Stone produced and reported for her own tell-all television show, a blend of Hollywood gossip and unsolved mysteries. Rumor had it Justice: Stone Cold was already in production with the Allie Kramer disappearance story. Cassie wanted no part of it. Delete! Another from her mother asking her to call. Delete. A third was from Holly, suggesting they get together since they were both in town. That message she didn’t immediately delete. Since Holly had worked on Dead Heat and was an acquaintance of Allie’s, it made sense to meet her.
Still, Cassie hesitated. She sipped the coffee, watched people hurrying in and out of the coffee shop, or sitting like she was, laptop on the table or phone in hand or both as they drank from paper cups.
It was late afternoon now, a few clouds creating a haze over the lowering sun. She needed a plan. She’d left the hospital with no clear idea of what to do, how to locate Allie, how to go forward with her life. Her first impulse had been to check out Allie’s apartment in Portland, fly south, grab her own things and her car, and snoop around a little down here, see what she could dig up.
And now as the sun sank lower in the sky and she watched the little birds pluck at bits of scones and whatever dropped near the tables, she wondered what her next move was. She knew she’d probably return to Portland, if only temporarily, as that was where, presumably, Allie had last been seen.
According to the police, you were the last person known to see her before she’d disappeared.
“Tell me about that night,” Detective Rhonda Nash had asked in the stuffy, cinder-block interrogation room. In her forties, Cassie had guessed, she wore short, frosted hair that spiked above an oval face with no apparent laugh lines. Her gray suit was crisp, her open-throated blouse pressed. From the way she’d held herself, Cassie guessed Detective Nash was no stranger to the gym. “The last night you were with your sister.”
“Nothing much to tell.”
“What did you discuss?”