The police are fucking useless.
After the vet gave the dogs the all-clear, the police searched the property and found nothing.
“We’re doing everything we can, Sir.”
The female officer smiles at me kindly, the eyes flickering to my bandaged arm.
Whoever took Alison had fun slashing my arm, the psycho. Or psychos.
“Is there anyone that might hold anything against you or Alison?”
Wendy, Alison’s mom, glared at me from behind the officer.
“Oh, about fifty women and a scorned son.”
I exhaled, pressing my fingers to my temples.
“I’ve told you. She was my son's fiancé—”
The officer shoots me a look of empathy before interrupting.
“Yes, we know. But your son is away trying out for the NFL, right?”
I laugh bitterly.
“This isn’t my son's doing. Maybe his mother, but not him.”
“You think your son's mother would kidnap your girlfriend?” The officer asks, her eyes wide.
“If it’s not her, it’s my ex-girlfriend, Timea.”
I can see the disbelief in her eyes.
I sure do know how to pick them.
Wendy paces the kitchen, her face pale.
“Well, there we go then. Go and investigate those crazy bitches!”
The officer gives Wendy a stern look.
“We interviewed Jennifer, and she has a watertight alibi. She’s been in hospital following surgery.”
“Surgery?” I roll my eyes. “Plastic, no doubt.”
The officer doesn’t verbally confirm it, but her eyes do.
“What about Timea?” Wendy’s voice is shrill now, and my heart aches for her. “You dumped her for Alison, right?”
I wince as both women send me a look of disgust.
“Yes. I’m telling you, it’s one of them.” I gaze at the officer, praying she takes me seriously.
“Timea Bradford was with friends overnight. Again, she has an alibi.”
The officer presses her lips together, wisps of blonde hair escaping the ponytail hanging loosely on her shoulder. She must be mid-twenties, and she’s already sporting a wedding band.
“Timea was two states away. We have her on CCTV—they’re not lying.” The officer's expression softens. “I’m just trying to get to the bottom of this.”
“What about that designer?” Wendy snaps, throwing the gothic swatches on the table. “You said she had a key, Lincoln.”
The officer frowns, flipping through her notes.
“Is this ‘Fay’?”
“Yes,” I snap with irritation. “Her assistant, Emma, brought the wrong swatches around the other day.”
I can’t say shit about the designer because I’ve not met her—but now I’m racking my brains.
“Alison said she saw her in town.” My mind whirs as Wendy scoffs.
“Saw her? Yeah. We saw her, alright.” Wendy crosses her arms, sitting across from me.
Her eyes carry the weight of her tears, her eyelids puffy and red from rubbing them. Her hair is wild, and she’s still wearing her coat like she’s about to leave.
Wendy explains how Fay and Alison spoke and how Fay had claimed to have appointments that day, only to appear again after lunch.
“Can you describe her?” The officer frowned, scribbling down some notes.
“Blonde, with lip fillers.” Wendy waves her hands in the air. “Probably another of your exes, Lincoln.”
“Thanks, Wendy,” I huff, jumping to my feet. “I didn’t meet her, so I’m not sure what she looks like.”
I direct the latter sentence to the police officer as I stare out of the window.
My heart is lost.
Without Alison, there’s nothing here for me.
“What was the name of the company you hired to decorate?”
“Sterling Interiors,” I say, striding over to the kitchen. “Here’s the card.”
Peeling the business card from the fridge, I hand it to the officer.
“Do you think it’s the same person who trashed my house?” I ask, observing the officer.
“It’s hard to say, without any evidence. You say the woman who shot you had a hood on, so we can’t say for sure she was blonde. That’s if the woman in your house wasn’t wearing a wig.”
“Jesus Christ.” Wendy glares at me, but I ignore her, continuing.
“But it’s got to be connected, right?”
Wendy looks like she’s going to punch me, but the officer attempts to diffuse the situation.
“We don’t know yet; all I can say is, please be patient. I know how distressing this is, but the best thing you can do right now is stay calm.”
“How can I stay calm when my daughter has been kidnapped?” Wendy demands, her voice rising.
“Wendy—” I close my eyes as she turns on me, her lip curling in disgust.
“Don’t fucking Wendy me, Lincoln Derby. This is because of you—you know it, and so do I. If anything happens to Alison, I’m holding you responsible.”
I swallow, staggering backward as though Wendy’s words were weapons of mass destruction. Tears fill my eyes, but I refuse to let them fall, the thought of Alison keeping me strong.
“You’re not helping at all, Wendy,” I mutter, my hand dragging through my hair. “Why don’t you go home?”
Wendy lets out a bitter laugh.
“I’m not one of your hussies, Lincoln; you can’t order me about!”
“I didn’t say that.” I grit out, wondering where the fuck Alison’s dad is.
He needs to be here, supporting his wife.
“But you know what? I’m going. I’ve heard all I need to hear.” Wendy shakes her head at me, grabbing her purse.
Wendy leaves, slamming the door on her way out.
“Mother-in-laws,” I mutter, dropping my head into my hands. “Are we done here?”
The officer rises to her feet, giving me a firm look.
“You need to stay here in case Alison comes back.”
I can’t take that comment seriously.
Like Alison had popped to the store, for fuck sake.
The officer leaves, and the silence of the house consumes me. Kiki and Mabel are still with the vet for precautionary reasons, so the house is devoid of life.
How has this happened to us?
My mind flickers back through the conversations, both with Wendy and Alison.
It niggles away at me.
Who is the designer?
I grab my phone, searching for the company before the police get a chance. The website is pretty basic, so I call them.
The chirpy voice that answers has me at a loss for words; the familiarity is knocking me for six.
It can’t be.
My stomach drops, and I drag my hand across my mouth, my breath prisoner in my lungs.
Everything feels like it’s a joke.
A crazy-ass joke.
“Hello?” The voice sighs, and I know for sure that this woman has my girl.
Ending the call, I bring the address up, racing to my truck.
I’d recognize that voice anywhere.
Syrupy sweet, almost childlike.