“Why shouldn’t we call the police, Gloria? You have made plans to take my sister to Ireland in three days and she doesn’t know anything about it. In addition to that, I believe you had something to do with Jamie and Annie’s disappearance. It’s been over six hours and we haven’t heard a word from them.” Brad walked over to the phone. He would call the police himself. He knew what to tell them…Steve didn’t.
“Wait, Brad.” Barbie said. “I would like to hear what Gloria has to say before you make that call.”
“I want to know why on earth you think I would fly to Ireland with you? And why would you want to go there in the first place? But before you go into that, tell us what you know about Jamie and Annie? Do you know where they are?”
Gloria looked very smug, but then she usually did. She sat there and looked from one of them to the other. She wanted to maintain control of the events that were about to evolve.
“I was taking you to Ireland and since it was a surprise, I had to get rid of the dog without telling you. I assumed you wanted Annie back. I had a man who owes me some favors find Annie and pick her up. He sedated her, I believe, to get her into the car. Jamie saw them do it and managed to get in and hide on the floor of the back seat without the man and his driver seeing her.
“Are you serious?” Brad couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Where are they now, Gloria? Where did the men take them?”
“I don’t know,” Gloria lied. “I briefly talked to my contact on the phone a little while ago. He said they dropped them off at a cabin in the woods, but he didn’t say where. He said there was enough food and water in the cabin for a couple of days. I told him I would call him in the morning.”
“I’m not believing this,” Brad shook his head in amazement. “Come over here to the phone and call him right now, Gloria.”
“No,” she said. “He can’t be reached tonight. I will have to contact him in the morning, but only if I have your word that you won’t call the police.”
Brad started to argue, but Barbie spoke first. “Why were you taking me to Ireland, Gloria? I don’t know anyone in Ireland and I’m perfectly happy right here.”
Gloria walked over and sat in the chair next to the girl she had been through so much with. She loved Barbie and all would have gone as planned if Brad hadn’t suddenly become more involved.
“You’re wrong, Barbie, you do know someone there.” Gloria was struggling to find the right words. “I was going to do this tomorrow, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t do it now. It’s probably better that Brad is here. Tom should really be here, too.” Gloria’s eyes went to Steve.
“Steve is a very discrete man,” Brad offered. “Say what you need to say, Gloria.”
Jamie and Annie were comfortable in the cozy little cabin. They had each eaten a rather large bag of potato chips while sitting in front of the fire. Annie had gone to sleep, but Jamie sat there and listened to the wind blowing the trees outside. It was mesmerizing. She looked around and saw a window across from the fireplace. There were no window coverings so Jamie was able to see outside. Dusk turned to black sky. She had forgotten how dark it was in the forest at night.
They would need to get going early in the morning. Right after daybreak. She wanted to be long gone when the man and his driver returned. The men had said Jamie and Annie would be alright in the cabin for a couple of days, but if they had made contact with Gloria, those plans could have changed. Something the men said kept nagging at her. They said that Gloria was having trouble with Barbie and that they were going to move, soon.
In spite trying to sort things out in her mind, Jamie soon drifted off to sleep.
When she woke up Annie was gone.
Before Gloria had a chance to begin explaining the planned trip to Ireland, Steve spoke up.
“I really can’t stay,” he said. “I need to get back to the ranch. I have to take care of Dina’s car and there’s work tomorrow. You can fill me in on everything when you get back, Brad. I’ll get Arf and be on my way.”
In a few minutes, Steve came back into the kitchen. “I can’t find Arf,” he said.
***I couldn’t go back to the ranch with Steve. Not with Annie and Jamie missing. I have a sense they’re not that far away. I’ve covered a lot of ground this past year. I’ll find that cabin in the woods.
&&& I knew it would be much faster for me to run back to Barbie’s house and get Steve and Brad. I wasn’t about to stick around and have those men make me go to sleep again. I also know that if they come back before we do, Jamie can handle them. I drug a big iron skillet over beside Jamie and jumped out an open window.