All of us sat in heavy silence for several minutes, and simultaneously jumped to attention when we heard the ringing of a telephone. But, it was the shrill sound of a cell phone, not the office phone which we had been hoping for and also, in a way, dreading. The ringing sound came from Sean O’Grady’s shirt pocket and he answered the phone briskly.
“O’Grady here… yeah…ok… no, it’ll be better if I meet you there.”
With that, he hung up and turned to address us.
“I’m going to head down to the station. Peters and Ward have finished their questioning and we’re going to put our heads together.”
“Have they found anything?” I was anxious to hear something positive.
“Nothing concrete at this point, but we have a few leads to follow up. At any rate, I’ll be keeping you posted.”
He nodded in the direction of the other officers, patted Mike on the shoulder, and headed out the door.
This time, it was my turn to pace. I wandered around the office, not really seeing anything. At one point, I noticed Michael step out into the outer office. I decided to follow him. I didn’t have any particular reason for doing so, but I had a vague feeling that I had to talk to him.
He turned, looking surprised, when he heard my voice.
“What is it?”
I hesitated. Now that I was alone with him, I didn’t know what I wanted to say. I was saved from saying anything when his cell phone rang. My heart stopped beating for a second. I watched as he answered the phone, and while I listened to the one-sided conversation, his expression transformed from one of concern to one of astonished incomprehension.
“What are you talking about? What’s going on, Matthew?”
Matthew, whoever he was, apparently didn’t have very much to say, because shortly afterward the conversation came to an end. Michael hung up his phone and looked at me with a stunned expression on his face.
“Who was that?”
He was starting to scare me. His normally composed demeanour seemed to be shattered.
“That was Matthew…my butler,” he began haltingly, letting his voice drop to a whisper. I moved closer to him in order to hear. “He told me not to go home and to get as far away from the police as quickly as I can. He said to hide somewhere until he got back to me. I don’t understand what’s happening.”
I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone from the interior office had heard us, but I didn’t see anyone.
“Do you trust Matthew?”
“With my life. He’s known me since I was born and he’d do anything to protect me.”
“Did he say that your life is in danger?”
“No, he didn’t say. He was in a hurry. He didn’t have time to give me any details.”
“But running from the police? Is that the right thing to do?”
“I don’t know. I have to believe Matthew. I know he wouldn’t suggest something like that lightly.”
I didn’t hesitate to make my decision.
“Well then, we’d better go now. While they’re not watching us.”
He looked at me incredulously.
“What do you mean ‘us’?”
“I’m going with you.”
“No, you’re not. This is about me, not you.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. This is about Melissa, and whatever has to do with her, has to do with me too. I’m going with you.”
“You’re crazy. This could be dangerous.”
“I’m willing to take the risk. Besides, if you don’t take me along you won’t take two steps out of here before I alert the guys in that office that you’re running from the police.” I snatched up my purse and headed toward the door.
He grabbed me by the arm and spun me around to face him, his eyes glinting fiercely and his voice low, deep, and vicious.
“How dare you threaten me!”
I didn’t flinch even though his grip on my arm was painful.
“I’ll dare to do anything that will help me get Melissa back, and you’ll do well to remember that.”
He growled something incomprehensible and, without releasing my arm, pulled me through the door behind him. His long legs and the force of his anger propelled me down the corridor almost faster than my legs could carry me, but I didn’t complain. I knew I was already treading on thin ice, but as he passed by the bank of elevators, I was compelled to make a comment.
“Where are we going?”
I didn’t bother asking again and I didn’t have long to wait. He opened the door to the stairwell and dragged me through. Before he started to pull me down the stairs, I protested.
“Could you at least let go of my arm? I’m capable of walking on my own.”
His answer was to subject me to an angry glower before releasing my arm. We hastened down the stairs as quickly as we could, and I could see it was going to be quite an exercise session considering we were on the 14th floor. However, once we reached the 9th floor, he headed through the door into the corridor once more and punched the button for the elevator. When it arrived, we descended to the parking garage in silence, without meeting anyone.