Two years have passed since Jenna disappeared and there are still no clues as to what happened to her. Cara looked out of the car window at the Ohio River as her mom drove up U. S. Highway Forty-one. Her mom had come to get her from Bowling Green where she had been attending Western Kentucky University.
Cara started her college career at Indiana University in Bloomington, but there were too many memories of Jenna from when they had toured the campus together. She’d transferred to the University of Evansville for the second semester, but being home was harder than being in Bloomington. She decided she needed to go someplace new, but her mom didn’t want her to go too far away. They settled on Western Kentucky University because it was only a little more than an hour from home.
That had turned out to be a pretty good fit, but Cara was still feeling restless. They passed familiar haunts on the way home, and seeing them made her sad.
“Hey, you okay,” Caroline asked.
“Not really,” Cara admitted. “This town will never be home without Jenna here.”
“I know, Baby,’ Caroline said and reached over to pat Cara’s hand. She’d hoped Cara would meet someone new and try to move on. It had been two years since Jenna went missing, and as much as she hated it, she was fairly certain Jenna was probably dead.
“Did I hear you say that Grandma and Grandpa were coming back from Florida?” Cara asked, realizing that she hadn’t paid attention to a word her mother had said for the last half an hour.
“I said they were going to put their condo up for sale, but they aren’t coming back to Evansville,” Caroline said. “They want to find a smaller town that is not expensive to live in and easy to navigate. Mom said the traffic in Sarasota was bad, and unmanageable during tourist season.”
“So where are they thinking about going?” Cara asked and turned from the window to her mother.
“Johnson City, Tennessee,” Caroline answered.
Cara’s eyebrows shot up. “Well, that’s a completely different place than Florida.”
“Apparently that’s what Dad wants,” Caroline said. “They want us to meet them over there next weekend.”
“Okay,” Cara said. “It’s not like I have pressing plans, although I should probably get a job.”
“Well, let’s put that on hold until after we go to Tennessee,” Caroline said.
“Anything else exciting happening around here since we talked last week?” Cara asked as she looked down the street that she used to walk to Jenna’s house as they drove through their neighborhood.
Caroline looked over at Cara’s inexpressive face. “No.”
Cara turned and looked back out the window. “I didn’t think so.” She could see Jenna’s father’s truck in the driveway from this angle. Cara had been tracking him online. He’d been on an online dating site and posted a few hunting pictures on Facebook. She was still convinced he did something with Jenna. It was hard to think about Jenna being dead, but so much time had passed, she was left with little choice but to realize that Jenna was not coming back. So many times she’d wished that Jenna could have told her what was really going on that night. Jenna had seemed very nervous and upset that she hadn’t stopped Cara from coming over. It made Cara suspect that Jenna knew something she wasn’t supposed to. But who knew. Michael Matthews had reacted exactly how Jenna said he would if he caught them kissing. He most likely killed Jenna and hid her body until he had a chance to get rid of it.
Sighing, Cara turned back to her mother and said, “I think I’m going to take a nap when we get home.”
“Okay honey,” her mother said quietly.
Later that night, Cara was back to trolling Facebook looking for new posts from friends who still lived in Evansville. She came across one from a girl who had been a year under Jenna and her. The girl said that she had gotten stopped by Michael Matthews and he was totally creepy. “He kept looking down my top!” the girl claimed and then added. “What an old perve!”
Cara chuckled. That would probably set the asshole off. She was reading another post when an ad for a GPS tracking system popped up. She pulled up the ad and read it. A crazy idea crossed her mind. What if she tracked him? If Jenna was still alive, surely he was going to see her. Jenna’s mom had moved to Louisville, so he was living in the house alone. Cara decided she was going to do it. If she got caught, she’d just say it was a practical joke and get a slap on the wrist. If he were doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing, maybe she’d have proof the get his ass arrested.
She researched the best GPS trackers and came up with a plan to get it in Matthews’ truck. It would take a few days to get there, but she could put it on his truck and track it from anywhere. She really should let this go, but Cara wanted one last shot at finding Jenna.
The next day she walked down the street. The truck wasn’t in the driveway, so she walked toward the house. She listened for any dogs to bark, but there was none. She’d pulled Michael Matthews’ truck model and figured out the best place to put the tracker where he wouldn’t see it. She should be able to get it on the truck without triggering the alarm. Jenna had once told her that the alarm only went off if you tried to open the doors. Cara was praying he hadn’t updated his security system on his truck over the past two years.
The tracker she’d picked had a battery that would last for close to two weeks. By then she would have a feel for his patterns and if he was traveling anywhere out of the ordinary. It would be interesting to see where the jerk was going. Man, what she would give to catch him doing something he could get busted for.
Last semester Cara had taken a course about criminology, and she was becoming more and more interested in understanding how criminals worked and how cops caught them or didn’t. Maybe next year she would look into that path. Right now, she was just going through the motions of taking classes. She’d lost interest in being a doctor. She didn’t want to be a nurse like her mom was trying to talk her into.
After Jenna had disappeared she became obsessed with crime shows like CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds and anything close to that. Cara started watching documentaries about forensics. She was really fascinated with it. Maybe she should pursue that line of work. She didn’t want to be a cop, but she’d like being a crime scene investigator.
The GPS arrived a couple of days later. It was small, and Cara could easily place it on the lip of the truck bed. She’d do it tonight.
Caroline wasn’t sure what Cara was up to, but she had been unusually quiet since she’d been home. Caroline wanted to talk to her about the real reason they were meeting her mom and dad in Tennessee. They’d already found a nice house that they were buying and would be moving in very soon. What Caroline needed to tell Cara was that she was moving to Johnson City too. With Cara in school, she had no reason to stay in Evansville. What she wasn’t going to tell Cara was that she wanted to get away because she felt like Michael Matthews was watching their house, like he thought they were going to produce Jenna. Even if Caroline didn’t have that feeling, it was time for them to get away from this town and all its memories.
Cara’s dad had been killed on Interstate Sixty-four on his way home from Louisville just north of Evansville when Cara was six. Caroline had not been able to go near I-64 since that happened. Jenna was gone, and Cara was not the same girl she had been before. Caroline knew it was hard for Cara to come home and face her memories of Jenna.
Caroline hoped Cara was okay with her plans. Caroline wanted to be close to her parents. She’d missed them too much since they’d moved to Florida. They were getting older, and she wanted to be there to help them through their last years.
Cara came downstairs around nine o’clock and sat down on the couch. “What ya doing?”
“Watching Army wives,” Caroline said. “What are you doing?”
“I’m thinking about hooking up with a couple of friends at a coffee house on campus,” Cara said. “Would that be okay?”
“Sure,” Caroline said. “Just make sure not to run all my gas out and keep your phone on.”
“Okay,” Cara said and leaned over to kiss her mother on the cheek.
It wasn’t until Cara was walking out the door that Caroline noticed she was wearing all black. She wondered what that was about. Probably being home was reviving Cara’s grief about Jenna. Every time Caroline saw Michael Matthews’ truck going down the street her heart hurt. Just one more reason to get away from here.
Cara backed her mom’s car out of the driveway and headed down Governor to Cross Street and turned left. She looked down Jenna’s road and saw that Michael Matthews’ truck was in the drive way. She passed their street and went to Garvin. Taking a right, she took it to the apartment complexes behind Jenna’s house and parked in a spot closest to the woods. A man was getting out of his car as she pulled in. He called to her, “Hey, you can’t park there.”
Cara walked over to the guy. “I’m only going to be here for a minute. I’m leaving a surprise birthday present on my boyfriend’s front door for him to find in the morning, but I can’t park on his street, he might see my car.” The guy looked skeptical. “Come on man, wouldn’t you love to have your girlfriend leave you a sweet surprise for you to find when you leave to go to work.”
Finally, the guy nodded. “Okay, but if your car is here more than a half an hour, I’m going to have it towed.”
“Thank you so much,” Cara gushed and headed back toward Cross Street and slipped into the back yard of the fourth house from the end of the road. She knew the house still belonged to old Mr. Brewer, who always went to bed at eight o’clock. She and Jenna had gotten more than one chewing out from him for playing basketball in Jenna’s drive past eight o’clock and keeping him up.
Slinking down the side of Mr. Brewer’s house, Cara looked over the bushes dividing Mr. Brewer’s and the neighbor’s yard. The lights were out, and the house seemed quiet. Cara slipped out to the road and stayed close to the cars so she could duck down if she needed to. She paused by Mrs. Carter’s car on the street next to the Matthews’ house. There was a light from a TV shining in the window of the family room which was on the back side of the house. Perfect. Michael Matthews was probably sitting on the couch watching TV and facing away from the driveway.
She looked across the street; the lights were off in all the houses. The street light was brighter than she remembered, but all she had to do was slip by Matthews’ truck, put the device on the truck and keep walking to the apartment complex and leave the area.
Cara prepared the device. She put a strong adhesive on the side she needed to attach to the truck and had it ready just to be slapped on. She moved quickly across the yard, put the device under the lip of the truck bed close to the corner of the bed and then walked quickly to her car.
Wanted to make part of her story to her mother true, Cara went to a coffee house and got a small decaffeinated coffee. When she got home, her mother was in bed. She went to her room and turned on the device with her phone. It worked perfectly. Let’s just see what Michael Matthews is up to these days, Cara thought. She’d check it again in the morning. This might be a waste of money, time and effort, then again, she might score gold with this plan.