Mandy and Aaron were up and dressed when I got back to the house. I showed Aaron the photo of the children and the teacher. I was about to introduce him to Ms. James, and I wanted to see if he thought as I did…were the teacher and Mandy’s tutor the same person?
We headed to the breakfast room to grab a bite before going to the parlor to meet with the tutor. I asked Cindy, the little housekeeper,to stay with Mandy, and not leave her for any reason. I didn’t want my daughter to witness anything unpleasant should we have to confront her tutor.
When we got to the parlor, I half expected Ms. James wouldn’t be there, but indeed she was. I decided the resemblance was uncanny, but this woman was at least ten years older than the teacher in the photo. I glanced at Aaron, and could see from his expression, that he agreed. After introducing the two, I collected Mandy and got the little student and tutor all set up for school in the library.
Aaron was going to spend his morning gathering information to meet with an attorney concerning the property ownership. He would then go to the authorities about the Dr. Davis and the attorney imposters.
I headed back upstairs to Aunt Bea’s suite. The door opened just as I was about to knock. My Aunt looked surprised to see me.
“May I come in?” I asked. I could tell she was not excited to see me, but she waived me in. We both sat down, and I got right to my questioning. “How long have you been using the attorney that handled the transfer of property, and set up the funds to run this place?” I could tell she was truly surprised by the question.
“Oh dear,” she said. “Dr. Davis referred me to him. He told me that my health and that of Charles was such that It was time for me to consider relieving myself of the responsibility of Charles’ care and this huge estate. I rather liked the idea.” She picked up a fan and started fanning herself. I decided this was a nervous habit, and smiled as I remembered my Mother did the same thing. She leaned forward and patted my knee and said, “He’s the one that found you dear.”
“Can I ask, how long have you and Charles used Dr. Davis? ”
“Oh my, let me think..Yes, it was a little over two years ago, right before the children were taken. It’s been so wonderful, because he always comes to the estate. He brought Nurse Jones to see Charles when he had his breakdown and decided she should care for him full time. I can’t tell you what a weight off my shoulders that has been,”she said as she continued to fan herself.
I was convinced that Aunt Bea was telling the truth [as she knew it.] Now it was time to visit my Uncle….and Nurse Jones.
I knocked on the door expecting to see “The eyeball” of nurse Jones looking at me from the peephole, but instead, the door opened, and another lady invited me in. Judging by her uniform, I surmised she was a nurse. Seeing my puzzled look, she quickly explained the situation. “You must be Mr. Sanders niece,” she she said, “I’m with a service that provides, short term nursing care. My name is Donna Blake.”
I had no idea where Nurse Jones had come from, only that the good Dr. Davis had found her. “Where is Nurse Jones?” I asked.
“I only know that the service called me and asked me to fill in. It seems Ms. Jones left unexpectedly.”
“Do you know if Nurse Jones was with the same service?” I was trying to make some sense of this one.
“I don’t believe so,” she answered, “I was told a Dr. Davis requested our services, and this was the first time he had referred to our company.”
“Tell me,” I asked the nurse, “Is Dr. Davis listed as the prescribing Dr. on my Uncles medication?”
Amanda and her Mother, Belle
Allow me a moment and I’ll check,” she offered.
“Uncle Charles, do you remember speaking to me the other day?” I asked. “I’m Andrea Allen, your sister Audrey’s daughter.”
He looked at me for a moment, then said, “Yes, yes I do remember. That other nurse is gone, thank God she’s gone. She was trying to kill me.”
I’d like to ask you about something else you said. “You told me you know where the children are.”
He looked at me as if he was trying to decide if he could trust me. “I know where four of them are, but not my granddaughter, not Amanda?”
“Who told you where they are?” I asked, ” Where are they?”
“Belle told me, Belle is my daughter, and Amanda’s Mother.”
Just then, the nurse walked back in. “What did you find out? Who prescribed the medication?”
“There is no medication,” she said, “I don’t understand, the medication and a detailed schedule were to be here this morning, Excuse me, I need to call my office.”
Nurse Blake Uncle Charles
This is not good, I thought. We had no idea what medicines my Uncle had been taking. More importantly,how badly does he need them?
THE CHILDREN – Two years before.
When the people who had been in the car discovered Amanda was gone, they were totally beside theselves. It took a few minutes for them to settle down and decide to go try to find her. Abby Ann waited thinking her wonderful teacher would come back to the bus, but she didn’t. She jumped in the car, leaving Amanda’s father, the bus driver, and Dr. Davis, who were all chasing after Amanda.
Abby didn’t know what to do, but she knew she had to try to keep the other children calm. She asked Alice to get the picnic lunch. They could eat while they waited for the teacher to come back.
When they finished their lunch, Abby got everyone out of the bus to go for a walk. They found a trail and followed it. they picked wild flowers and sang songs.Thankfully, it was a beautiful afternoon, but it would start to get dark soon.
She was afraid, and didn’t know what to do. Abby decided to go back to the bus,and hope the bad men that chased Amanda weren’t there. The children were getting so tired… Andy walked so well with his prostheses, but he tired quickly. They had to keep going.
Abby knew they were lost. She wanted to cry, but she knew that would frighten the other children. They kept walking as long as they could, but when it got too dark to see, they huddled together and fell asleep. Abby’s last thought before drifting off to sleep was to wonder if there were wild animals that could hurt them. She wished so much that she could hear.