Dorothy had been enjoyed her breakfast, gone for a walk, smoked in secret, and returned to their hotel, just as Tristan was getting dressed. She knocked on his door, impatiently, waiting for him to answer. He rushed to get dressed, so his shirt was buttoned wrong and longer on one side, his trousers weren’t zipped up properly, and his hair was still damp from the shower.
“Can I help you?” He asked.
“Breakfast is only being served for another half hour. If you want it you’ve gotta go now,” she stated.
“Are you paying for that too?” he asked.
“It’s all inclusive,” she said.
“Let me put on my shoes,” he said.
They hurried downstairs towards the restaurant so they he could get fed before setting online to search for the girls. Both of them sat opposite each other, near the breakfast bar, so they wouldn’t have to move as much. This gave Dorothy a chance to interrogate Tristan.
“So. what is your actual job?” she asked.
Tristan covered his mouth with his hand so she didn’t have to see what he was eating as he explained.
“I’m a guardian. I get given a van and a list of places to go, and I drive to those places and pick up things or drop them off.”
Dorothy wrinkled her nose a little. “So you’re a delivery boy?”
Tristan chuckled. He was going to correct her, and then he thought about it. Horror crept into his expression as the reality of his job finally dawned on him.
“I’ve worked as a delivery boy for five years and not realised,” he muttered.
Dorothy held back a smile as she found an in.
“Is that not what you wanted to be?” she asked, sweetly.
Tristan scoffed. “I don’t know anyone who ever wanted to be a delivery boy. Do you?”
“My brother wanted to be a lorry driver. He liked the idea of driving. I liked the idea of exploring stories and exposing injustices,” Dorothy shrugged.
“I wanted to be something better. Nothing glamorous, but something where I could make connections and become something,” Tristan sighed.
“I’ve got connections. Well I think I still do. My wife doesn’t like my work because it keeps me away too long, and she thinks I’m sleeping with my assistant,” Dorothy said.
With that she caught Tristan’s interest. “Are you?”
“Not anymore, she’s trying to get me fired,” Dorothy said.
“Why?” Tristan asked.
“Because I made her promises I can’t keep,” Dorothy shrugged.
“The usual. I’d leave my wife and Marry her. Id promote her. I’d take her on romantic holidays away from here. Weekends in Paris for example.”
Tristian scoffed. “I have no sympathy for you. You’re married. You choose to cheat and something will come back to bite you in the arse. You’re a reporter, you should know that!”
He carried on eating, and somehow managed to show off his new-found superiority while doing so. Dorothy leaned her elbows on the table, and leaned towards him.
“Are you married Tristan?” she asked.
“No. I’ve been single for... a long time,” he said.
“Then you can’t possibly understand why cheating is the only option,” Dorothy said, firmly.
Tristan raised his head to stare at her for a moment. He didn’t much like feeling judgemental. It felt hypocritical. However, she was being obnoxious. All high and mighty just because he’d been unhappily single for the last few years. Any ounce of sympathy or pity she had won by telling sad stories and paying for him to stay, vanished.
“Good. I hope I never understand. If you feel the need to cheat you have to ask yourself why. What’s wrong with your relationship that makes you want out? Then fix it, or let it go. There’s no excuses for cheating,” he stated.
Dorothy glared at him for a moment. She was filled with hate, simply because she knew he was right.
“I’m not taking dating advice from a thirty-year-old single delivery boy who managed to lose all of his cargo,” she snapped.
Tristan scowled at the idea of people being cargo. “As many faults as those girls have, at least they’re loyal. They’re still out there together keeping each other hidden and helping each other survive. You can’t put a price on loyalty!”
Dorothy leaned back in her chair. “You don’t know that for sure.”
She had made a career out of paying people to leak stories to her, and betray the loyalties of their friends to do so.
“I believe it. I’m a cynical bastard sometimes but I need to believe in loyalty. If not love than loyalty. Loyalty is the idea that someone will stick by you no matter what, simply because they want to. If love doesn’t exist, loyalty is the closest we’ll ever get,” Tristan stated, firmly.
Dorothy scoffed. “That’s stupid. Of course love is real. I’ve got a wife and a girlfriend, I know about love.”
“Love and lust are to different things. Lust is fleeting. Love is loyalty,” Tristan repeated.
Dorothy was finding it difficult to argue with him without turning into a child.
“How would you know?” she demanded.
“Because I do. If you’ll excuse me, I have to take this call.”
Tristan’s phone had been ringing for a while. He stood up and walked out of the room to answer. It was Nigel. He was already fuming by the time Tristan answered.
“Where are you?” Nigel demanded.
“In a hotel having breakfast,” Tristan explained.
“Oh lovely. Why don’t you have seconds? After all, all you need to do is go out and find the children you’ve let loose into the English countryside!” Nigel hissed.
“I have to eat, Nigel. I have to eat and sleep. Or I’ll die. What’s a bigger PI disaster, lost children or a dead worker?” Tristan asked.
“Then eat, to go,” Nigel spat through gritted teeth.
“Sir if I keep following them, I’ll always be one day behind. I need to know where they’re heading,” Tristan said.
“How should I know? They’re completely free to go where they want!” Nigel snapped.
“Sir, didn’t your assist hack one of their google accounts?”
“Yes, but then the brat changed her password. We’re tracking her phone through that email but it only works when she had Internet. They have no Internet right now.”
“Well then what do you expect me to do? scour the streets of Glasgow to find them?” Tristan asked impatiently.
Nigel’s voice grew dark and calm and sinister. “No I do not. In fact, the last time they had Internet, they used it to hire an Uber. I don’t know what that is, but apparently it means that they are no longer in Glasgow. Looking for them there would be useless. I want you to look in Edinburgh,” Nigel explained.
Tristan sighed. He was getting sick of driving up the country in a van that smelt of sheep. Edinburgh wasn’t far enough away to suffer badly, if they weren’t there, he would have to keep going. He didn’t know how much further he could go before he gave up completely.
“We’ve had a phone call from the school as well. It appears a teacher has been kept up to date with the loss of the students. Do you have any idea how this is possible?” Nigel asked accusingly.
“Mr Edwards heard you and your assistants talking about it over the phone, and phoned me. Since he had information on them that I don’t, I thought talking to him would be useful,” Tristan explained.
“If he knows he can sue us. If he sues us, I’ll be forced to drag him through the mud for keeping his knowledge from their parents. Fraternising with the enemy will take your job too. Don’t doubt that,” Nigel warned.
Tristian glanced over his shoulder to where Dorothy was sitting. She was tapping his answers to her interrogation on her tablet. She was ready to slander him if need be. He knew that as well as he did.
“Don’t worry sir, I know.”
Nigel had already hung up without bothering to say goodbye. Tristan glanced back at Dorothy.
“Do you still have Ravi’s snapchat?” He asked when he got back.
“Course I do. That’s how I keep track of her. Her and Simi. That and Instagram,” Dorothy said.
Well it had been. Ravi had realised her mistake from the text Sapphire sent, and hadn’t posted a thing to instagram since.
“My boss thinks they’re in Edinburgh. What does their snapchat say?” He asked.
Dorothy had to flicked through past posts to get any idea of where she was. No one had posted anything today. It was almost as if they weren’t awake. Or didn’t have WIFI. Or both.
“Ravi’s last snapchat says there’s forecast for heavy rain tonight. Google where it’s going to be bad,”
“There’s a storm in Edinburgh tonight,”
“Well they don’t have transport right now, and no one will drive in a storm, so they’re going to be stuck in Edinburgh for the whole night. If we can beat the storm, we can find them before they find a hotel!”
It was too late. They were already in a hotel, sleeping soundly. One of them in the bath, although she was about to be woken up.
“Your car or my van?” Tristian asked.
Dorothy saw an opportunity to get ahead of the others. If she got just get rid of Tristian, there would be nothing to stop her finding the girls alone and finishing her report exposing Collins Tourism as negligent.
“You should go on ahead. Zangi loves Harry Potter so they’ll have to go to the Hogwarts Express bridge. Cut them off there and you’ll have them,” Dorothy suggested, casually.
“But how would I know they aren’t staying in Edinburgh for the week?” Tristian challenged.
“They haven’t stayed anywhere else for more than a day. They skipped out most of North England just to get into Scotland, but only spent a couple of hours here in Glasgow. Either Edinburgh or Inverness is their aim,” Dorothy said.
Tristan frowned. “Inverness?”
“They’re nerds, they’ll want to see Nessie,” Dorothy stated.
“But what if they are in Edinburgh?” He asked.
She laid her hand on his arm, and promised, “It’s a small city. I’ll find them. When I do I’ll text you.”
Tristian didn’t trust this reporter. Heaven knows why. But he needed her scoop finding skills, so he needed to be on her good side. Even if it meant lying.
“Tell you what, why don’t we go to Edinburgh together and see if we can find them before the storm hits,” Tristan said.
“Storm? It’s just heavy rain,” Dorothy said.
“Heavy rain is a storm in Scotland. A storm is a hurricane,” he shrugged.
Dorothy was not convinced of this. What she was sure of, though, was that as soon as they got in their cars, they would be in a race to get to Edinburgh and find the girls. If Tristan found them first, there would be no story. If Tristian got to them before the story was published, there would be no proof of the story, and Dorothy wouldn’t have an excuse for her “sudden disappearance” that had her on thin ice with her boss. She would lose her job.
There was only one thing for it. Dorothy would have to beat Tristian to Edinburgh.
“Fine. I’ll go pack, and get ready to leave,” She said, with a soft smile.
“I’ll meet you in reception in an hour,” Tristian agreed.
Dorothy nodded, and walked out as calmly as she could. Tristian waited for her to start climbing the stairs, before running to the lift. He leapt in, willing it to rise as fast as possible, but it only went as fast as it usually did. As fast as all lifts go. He ran to his hotel room, and began throwing everything into a bag as fast as he could. Dorothy still had him beat. She was on a lower floor, so she didn’t have to go so far. By the time he’d leapt back into the lift, she was hurrying down stairs.
The doors to the lift opened as she began hurrying down the last set of stairs across the hall. Tristian panicked. He grabbed a book from his bag – one he had found on the floor of his van.
“HEY! DOROTHY!” Tristian cried.
She looked up in surprise, only to be hit on the shoulder with the book he had just thrown. She was knocked off her feet, and sent crashing into the stairs beneath her. For a split-second Tristian felt bad and considered going to her aid. Then he remembered why they were racing, and realised he needed to run.
Now it was Tristian’s turn to shoot off down the street on two wheels, jeering at the person he was running away from.
Unfortunately for Tristan, the book he had thrown belonged to Tahati. It contained a present Simi had gotten for her for her birthday once, as a joke. It was a post card, with a beautiful picture of Edinburgh castle on the front, and Simi’s handwriting on the back. All Simi had written was:
“See you there.”
The post card had slipped out of the book when it hit her shoulder. Dorothy raised an eyebrow at it. She ached all over, but now, it seemed worth it.
“So that’s where they’re going,” she muttered to herself.
If only Tristian hadn’t thrown the book at her. He wouldn’t have assumed they’d go somewhere free, and wouldn’t have wasted so much time looking around the royal botanical gardens. Then he wouldn’t have got caught in the beginnings of the storm, and wouldn’t have gotten back to his hotel looking like a drowned rat.