Jack continued to stare at the three photographs on the coffee table. He had just learned that Annette had been his wife, Jennifer’s younger sister.
Jack would never forget the day he got the call telling him that Jennifer had been badly burned in a fire and was in grave condition in a little hospital in Danfield. Jennifer’s mother and stepfather were at the hospital with the girls. By the time Jack got there, Jennifer was gone. The police said it had been a terrible accident involving a fire that got out of hand at a picnic.
Jack had quickly made the arrangements to have his wife’s body brought back to Brewster and then he took his distraught daughters home.
As soon as the funeral arrangements had been made, Jack called Jennifer’s mother, but she was so consumed with grief, she couldn’t come to the phone. He asked the stepfather about the aunt Jennifer had lived with in Seattle and was told she was out of the country and couldn’t be reached.
Jack had always wondered why Jennifer, after all those years, had decided to take the girls to see her mother and stepfather. She hadn’t even mentioned Annette who hadn’t been at the hospital or the funeral.
Maybe he should have helped the girls remember. The truth is, he did want them to.
Jack was brought back to the present by something Kat was saying.
“Where does this leave us?” Kat asked. “I can’t think about what all these family connections might mean right now. The fact is we’re no closer to finding the girls.”
Jack’s phone was sitting on the coffee table near the photographs. Suddenly it rang, startling everyone in the room.
“Hello Jack. This is Annette. I know where the girls are. Oh Jack…I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. The girls are with my mother at our cabin nine miles from Danfield. At least they were. Jack, the police were following a fire truck up there. They said there is a cabin on fire in that location and there is a terrible storm that is getting worse. I have to go. Please get here as soon as you can. Come to the Roadside Cafe.”
With that, the phone went dead.
Vanessa was doing her best to keep moving. Poor Alice was moments from collapsing. She desperately wanted to lie down in the snow and sleep. The girls were both getting disoriented, but the lights were getting closer. It had to be Danfield. They surely had gone five miles since they saw the sign.
“Keep walking, Alice,” she said. “The lights are getting closer. We’re almost there.”
But it wasn’t Danfield they saw. It was a car. The driver rolled down the window and Vanessa could feel the warm air coming from the inside.
“Get in the car,” a voice said. “It’s nice and warm in here. I’ll help you both get in.”
The last thing Vanessa noticed before she drifted off to sleep is the smell of smoke. The last thing she heard was a voice whisper. “Why did you leave me?”
The policemen turned on their siren and headed for the Danfield Hospital.