Chapter 25 – Forgotten information

“What about you, Miss Andrews?”

The detective turned to face me so suddenly I jumped and tore my gaze away from Michael’s face in surprise. My first thought was that he was accusing me of being implicated in Melissa’s disappearance.

“What do you mean?” I asked shakily.

He smiled gently at me. He obviously saw the shock on my face and was able to read my reaction.

“I want to know if there’s anyone in your life who’d want to hurt you or Melissa. Think carefully.”

“I don’t need to think carefully. There isn’t anyone or anything. I have no enemies that I know of and I’ve never been threatened. I mind my own business and try not to step on anyone’s toes.”

“What about boyfriends?”

“I don’t have one at the moment.”

“An ex-boyfriend?”

I thought briefly about the men I had dated in the past and tried to picture one of them being the slightest bit aggressive or dangerous. I shook my head.

“No, there’s no one holding any kind of grudge. I lead a very ordinary life, Detective.  Rarely does anything unusual happen. At least it didn’t until I came in contact with Mr. Walters.”

I shot the aforementioned person an accusing look.

The police officer pounced on my comment.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean that when he found out Melissa was his daughter he started to harass us.”

I barely had the words out of my mouth before Michael angrily intervened, his voice almost a shout.

“I never harassed you. You were the one who came here making crazy accusations…”

He paused and a look of dawning comprehension came across his face, possibly mirroring the look on mine.

“Jesus,” he said softly, slowly sitting down. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The detective looked impatiently from one of us to the other.

“What is it?”

“Rebecca said she and Melissa were being watched and followed by someone. Damn it. I should have mentioned it.”

I sat in stunned silence and thought the same thing. I had been so convinced Michael was the culprit behind the man who was following us I had completely forgotten to mention it to the police.  A deep frown furrowed Detective O’Grady’s brow. He looked like an angry teacher getting ready to chastise a couple of errant students. He seemed to reel himself in and continued in a voice that barely contained his displeasure.

“I suggest one of you take the time to fill me in.”

Michael and I glanced at one another. I took the lead and recited the events in chronological order. I now knew better than to leave out any details and I tried to describe as best I could what had happened and what the man had looked like. When I was finished, Detective O’Grady called the police station and asked them to send over a police artist to construct a composite picture of the person I had described.  Then he turned once again to me.

“Now, is there anything else?”

I noticed a touch of sarcasm in his voice.

I shook my head as he turned to Michael.

“Do you have anything to add?”

“No, that seems to be complete.”

“If there’s anything, no matter how small it may seem, don’t hesitate, give me a call.”  With that, he handed each of us a business card.  “I think the best thing to do is for us to get set up in this office. I’m going to get a few men over here and we’re going to prepare to trace any call that may come in whether it be for ransom or any other demands.”

At his words, I could feel a small sense of panic welling up inside me again. But, at the same time I was relieved something was being done. Maybe now we would make some progress.

Within half an hour, a young man showed up with an easel and what looked like a small briefcase. It turned out to be a case of papers and charcoal crayons. With amazing insight and talent, he turned my words into a portrait of a man with a striking resemblance to the man I had seen following us.

“Miss Andrews, I’m going to have one of my men take you home.”

I turned to the detective.

“I don’t want to go home. I want to stay here and help.”

“You have helped, but there’s nothing else for you to do at this point. You’d be better off at home.  Besides, someone may try to contact you there.”

I hadn’t thought of that, but the idea of pacing the floors at home waiting for the phone to ring wasn’t very appealing.

“I have my car with me. I don’t need a ride.”

“I would prefer that we escort you home. Someone will follow with your car. You’re obviously upset and it certainly won’t do anyone any good if you have an accident.”

He smiled gently and I capitulated.

Eventually, a pair of police officers showed up and one of them drove me home in my car while the other followed in a police car. I was dazed and exhausted from the intense period of questioning and the horror of what had happened. Before I knew it, I was miraculously delivered to my doorstep and escorted inside. The officers checked the house to make sure there was nothing suspicious and offered to wait while I phoned a friend to come over and stay with me. I assured them I would call someone later and they took their leave.