The Forgotten Daughter - Page 15

When Ginger disappeared through the side door, Scooter once again attempted to shift his attention off how long Josie had been gone. “I thought I was seeing things when you pulled into my place this morning.”

Brock laughed. “Your face said as much.”

“That new car you’re driving says things turned out real swell for you in Chicago.” Scooter stated the obvious.

“If I hadn’t lived it, I wouldn’t have believed it.” Brock’s gaze shot back to the door where Ginger had disappeared. “Some days I still don’t believe it.”

Scooter playfully punched his friend in the arm. “We all knew you’d make it big.”

“I don’t think I would have if not for Ginger,” Brock said. “She’s the reason we’re home. When she heard about Twyla’s wedding, she told Oscar—Oscar Goldman, he’s the owner of the radio station, that we were coming home. She promised to bring back a case of baseballs signed by Babe Ruth to give away on the radio.” Brock laughed. “She already has two cases, signed, in the trunk.”

Scooter chuckled. “I’m sure Babe Ruth couldn’t say no to Ginger.” Curious, he asked, “How’d she end up in Chicago?”

“Now, that, my friend, is a long story,” Brock said. “And calling Roger to tell him I’d found her under the tarp of my truck when I’d stopped for fuel on the other side of Wisconsin was one of the scariest things I’d ever done.”

“Under the tarp of your truck?” Scooter shook his head. “I put the tarp on your truck while you were locking horns with Roger about leaving.”

“I know,” Brock said. “And she climbed in right afterward.” Growing serious, Brock added, “Don’t let any one of those Nightingale girls fool you. They’re sneaky when they want to be.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Scooter mumbled under his breath.

“You dating Josie?” Brock asked.

“Nope.”

When Scooter didn’t elaborate, Brock said, “I guess I assumed you were when Roger called you and her over with the rest of us.”

“I was just standing next to her,” Scooter explained. “A case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Brock grinned. “If you say so.”

“I say so, all right,” Scooter said, withholding the truth. Trying to keep Josie from being shipped to some foreign land came nowhere near dating her. Changing the subject, he asked, “When are you heading back to Chicago?”

“Monday,” Brock said. “Want to spend some time with my mom and dad tomorrow.”

That reminded Scooter of another case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Last year Brock’s dad had been shot while delivering milk down in St. Paul. A raid had been happening nearby and the bullet that struck Rodney Ness had left the man paralyzed from the waist down.

“Ma said he’s been getting out a lot more lately,” Brock said. “Says that wheelchair has made all the difference.”

Scooter guessed it wasn’t so much the chair that made the real difference for Rodney as the fact Brock had bought it with earnings he’d made by singing on the radio. He figured Brock knew that, as well. Rodney Ness couldn’t stop talking about his radio-star son.

They conversed a bit longer, about nothing in particular. All the while, both of them kept sending curious glances toward the door. When Ginger appeared by herself, Brock grinned while Scooter frowned.

“I can’t find her anywhere,” Ginger said. “Norma Rose will be furious. She said none of us could win the prize, that wouldn’t look right, but we all have to participate in the contest.”

“That didn’t stop her from winning the last dance-off,” Scooter said, when really he wanted to ask Ginger where she’d looked. The place was massive, with three stories covered in inch-thick red carpet, varnished oak wainscoting and stair rails, and velvet curtains covering more windows than a man could count. It was a palace in comparison to his humble home, and Josie had to be in there somewhere.

“You know Norma Rose,” Ginger said.

Not as well as he knew Josie. Unable to stop himself, he asked, “You checked everywhere for Josie?”

“Yes,” Ginger answered. “The offices, the bedrooms, the kitchen.”

“Maybe they went out another door,” Brock suggested.

Scooter spun around to stare at the garage full of cars, all owned by Roger. Surely he’d have heard if one had started. “You look ’round the back,” he said. “I’ll go out front.”

Brock grabbed his arm before Scooter had taken more than a step. “What do you know that we don’t?”

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