McNary: guess what she said about u was true all go no show. She knew u didn’t care about her
Cassie: Not true
McNary: prove it
Cassie: Don’t have to.
She waited for the next text but it didn’t come. Agitated, she stood on the third step and contemplated heading upstairs. To Trent. To safety. To . . . oh, hell, who was she kidding? She couldn’t just go to bed and pretend McNary hadn’t tried to reach out to her.
Late at night, it didn’t make any sense.
But then, what had in the disappearance of her sister? Nothing. At least McNary was willing to talk to her. Unlike Little Bea or Dean Arnette or a lot of people associated with Dead Heat and Allie.
She looked up the remaining steps of the staircase and at the dark floor above. Knowing she was giving in to emotions over judgment, she started typing. What if he was on the up and up? What if Allie needed her? What if, for some unknown reason, it was imperative that Cassie go alone? I’ll be there, but if this is some kind of sick joke, Brandon, I swear, I’ll kill you!
For a second she considered hurrying up the rest of the flight and telling Trent about her plans, but she knew what his response would be, what any sane person’s responses would be.
Something along the lines of: “You’re not going alone.”
Or: “Why don’t you just call the police?”
Or maybe: “This sounds like big trouble or a twisted prank. I don’t care what he said, I’m coming with you.”
Her heart wrenched. Having Trent with her would be a helluva lot more comforting and probably safer, though she wasn’t really worried about her safety. She could handle a self-serving sleaze like McNary and Orson’s was a well-lit, popular bar in Portland; she’d be okay.
After hitting the send button, she turned back, collected her purse, keys, and jacket, then headed through the front door and into the wet Oregon night. She hoped Trent was already asleep, that he hadn’t heard the dog’s soft woof as she’d grabbed her things, nor caught the noise of the latch clicking as she’d quietly pulled the front door shut behind her.
What are you doing?
Are you crazy?
That nagging voice whispered to her as she clicked on the flashlight app on her cell phone, its bluish beam illuminating the wet grass, weeds, and puddles. Moving quickly, head ducked against the rain, she picked her way along the path to the gravel parking area near the garage. A security lamp mounted on a pole near the barn gave off an ethereal light, creating the illusion that the barn, silo, and garage’s shadowed facades loomed larger around the graveled parking area.
“Don’t be a fool,” she whispered as she reached her car and slipped noiselessly behind the wheel. Before she had time to second-guess herself, she cranked on the ignition and looked up at the house to the second story and Trent’s dark window. The shifting light of a television backlit a figure standing near the glass.
Cassie’s heart lurched. Her head began to pound. She blinked, felt the blackness calling to her, beckoning, but she fought it. Her hands, despite the cold were suddenly sweaty against the wheel.
“No!” she said aloud. “Not now!”
She couldn’t afford to lose time tonight, to have hours unaccounted for. As her headache began to thunder, she set her jaw and thought about Trent, how she’d deceived him.
She’d text him the second she was in Portland, but for now, she hit the gas and took off, turning on her headlights and wipers and telling herself that it didn’t matter what Trent thought, she didn’t have to answer to him, she could do anything she damned well pleased.
She gritted her teeth against the pain of the headache, possibly brought on by her deception. Of course she hadn’t outwardly lied to him, but by not going upstairs and telling him what she was going to do, she’d kind of misled him. Omission rather than admission.
But this could be her best chance of ever finding her sister.
Then again it could be a big waste of time.
She’d find out soon enough.
Trent swore under his breath as he watched the disappearing taillights of Cassie’s Honda. He’d hoped she would come up to bed. He’d hoped they’d make love. He’d hoped she’d spend the rest of the night and maybe her life with him.
But, of course, that had been too much to expect.