Vanessa provided, “All the airport hotels are checking out clean. We’ve sent agents there to look at footage with their own eyes. We’re not taking anybody’s word on this.” She crossed her arms. “Wherever Abigail is being hidden, it’s not in plain sight. What’re you thinking, Will?”
Will looked down at his watch. The hands showed two-fifteen. Will pulled out the stem and moved the hands ahead thirty minutes. “I’m thinking it’s time we let Jenner go to the bathroom.”
Will kept Jenner in cuffs as he led the man down the corridor to the men’s room. He expected protests or outrage, but maybe part of Jenner knew that he deserved to be duckwalked like a prisoner. Or maybe he was so certain he’d get out of this that he was content to suffer the small travails.
“Here,” Will said, holding open the door. His sleeve pulled back. He saw Jenner note the time. Obviously, he liked what he saw. The snarky smile was back.
Will followed him into the small room. One toilet. One sink. An overhead fan that rattled like an old man’s lungs. Will took out his handcuff key and removed the bracelets. Jenner rubbed his wrists, trying to get the circulation back into them. He asked Will, “What were you doing in that bathroom?”
“I’ll answer if you do.”
Jenner smiled, showing his cracked teeth. He winced from the pain. “You should feel lucky I’m not going to sue you for dental costs.” He turned back to the sink, his eye on Will’s as he turned on the hot water faucet. “I’m sure implants will run into the tens of thousands.”
“You’ve got the money.”
“Do I?” he asked. He must’ve read the answer in Will’s eyes. “I guess you tracked my name through my boarding pass. I wonder how? I didn’t have it on me. Maybe one of my fellow passengers gave up my seat number?”
“The credit card wouldn’t go back to me. Google, maybe?”
Will didn’t answer.
“It’s amazing how privacy has gone out the window since 9/11. I’m surprised you haven’t marked me for rendition.”
“We’re looking into it.”
Jenner chuckled good-naturedly. He cupped some warm water into his hands, leaned down, and slurped. Will waited as he swished the water around inside his mouth. Jenner spat a pink stream of blood into the sink. He repeated the process twice before he stood back up. “I know Eleanor isn’t talking. Her lawyer makes your boss look like a puppy dog.”
Will doubted that, though he took on board that Eleanor Fielding probably had a woman for a lawyer. Will should’ve known better, but he was always surprised by the awful things some women got up to. He wanted to think it was for the money and not for spite. Or worse.
“She’s quite a piece of work,” Jenner said, meaning Amanda. “Thinks she’s smarter than she is. It’s a cop’s curse.”
Will wasn’t feeling so smart at the moment. So far, Jenner had managed to play him like a fiddle. Will tried to feed into the man’s ego, saying, “You’re smart.”
“That I am,” Jenner agreed. “It really is a burden sometimes—to be smarter than everyone else.” He indicated the toilet, which was side-on to the sink. “You mind?”
Will turned his back to the man, though he could still see his reflection in the mirror. Jenner’s gaze stayed down. He obviously wasn’t going to try anything.
Will felt for the stem of his watch. He inched the hands forward a bit more. It was a delicate balance. In the last twenty-four hours, Jenner had traveled across three time zones and back. He would be tired from the flights. Maybe exhausted from adrenaline and caffeine. The stewardess on his flight said he’d drunk at least a whole pot of coffee during the four-and-a-half-hour journey.
Even an innocent person would be feeling disoriented right now.
“Ahh.” Jenner let out a needlessly dramatic sigh as he finished at the toilet. He shook himself a few times. He flushed, then turned toward the door.
Will blocked his way, nodding toward the faucet.
“Of course. Where are my manners?” Jenner went to the sink. He pumped some soap into his palm, then held his hand under the faucet sensor. Nothing happened. “I hate these damn things. They never work.”
Will didn’t bother to agree with him. He waved his hand under the sensor. Still no water. Will tried again. The water came on hard and fast, splashing up on both of them.
“Always happens,” Jenner said, lathering his hands.
Will looked down at his pants. They were wet in the front, the same as Jenner’s.
The faucet cut off. Jenner said, “Towel?”
Will pulled a few paper towels out of the dispenser, making sure his watch showed. He caught Jenner’s reflection in the mirror. If the man was surprised that time was flying by, he didn’t seem to register it.
Again, Jenner turned toward the door.
Again, Will blocked him. He took out his handcuffs.
“Really?” Jenner asked. He sounded disappointed, as if they had somehow bonded in the toilet. Finally, he held out his hands.
Will shook his head. With exaggerated reluctance, Jenner turned around. He held out his hands behind him. It took everything inside Will not to wrench Jenner’s arms up so hard that both his rotator cuffs ripped. Instead, he carefully placed the handcuffs on the man’s wrists and snapped them closed.
Will opened the door. He let Jenner walk out on his own steam, not pushing him or kicking him down the hallway. Will wanted so badly to move his watch forward, to inch away the time, but he made himself keep one hand on Jenner’s elbow and the other at his side. Will put his hand in his jacket pocket. Abigail’s little shoe was still there. He should put it in evidence. He should log it for trial.
Will wrapped his hand around the slipper. It almost disappeared in his grip.
Will sat on a metal bench outside the airport. It was a bright, sunny day, but he’d chosen the underground breezeway as the spot to lick his wounds. This was where he’d lost sight of Joe Jenner. The cop had pulled up. Travis McGhee had beeped the horn in his red truck. Will had turned around and Jenner and the girl were gone.
He held Abigail’s shoe in his hand. The trim was coming off in the back, probably from being dragged. He should get some superglue and fix it. Will imagined these were the type of shoes a little girl might love. She’d want them back. She’d need them when she got back on a plane and headed home to her parents.
Will closed his eyes. He was hardly some kind of New Age freak, but he tried to imagine Abigail safe in her mother’s arms. The little girl was thin and bony. Her mother probably would be, too. They’d have the same yellow-blonde hair and blue eyes. Abigail’s mother would hold on to her and squeeze her so tight that Abigail would never get away again.
That was what he wanted to imagine, not the truth, which was probably closer to a nightmare.
The Levi’s Call was still in effect. Highway patrol had scrambled every cop on their payroll to scour the interstates and back roads. All the DOT bulletin boards over the highways listed Abigail’s height, weight, eye and hair color, approximate age, and the time in which she’d gone missing. Hundreds of calls had already come in, but none of them had panned out.
Will looked at his watch, which was still ahead by fifty minutes. He kept checking on Jenner, inching the hands forward on his watch each time before he went into the room and offered a soda or a toilet break or just sat across from him and watched Jenner stare blankly at the wall.