“Two more girls went missing.” Two pictures slammed on a wooden desk. A man with a large mustache and a balding head stood over his most passionate reporter. “I want you to run this story. The number for the detective is on the back. Chop chop.” With that, the pudgy man walked off with his bowed legs flailing out to the sides, resembling Yosemite Sam in real life.
Deven Suresh put his glasses on and peered down at the pictures his boss, Mr. Cable, set down. One girl was blonde, green eyed and busty. The other was almost the opposite – black hair, pale skin, much younger. But she had green eyes as well.
His tanned hand stretched for his desk phone to call the number, waiting until he could piece together another breaking story. It had been spreading around that these women were disappearing at a rapid pace around Boston. There had to be a common thread between them other than the color of their eyes. And even at the medium time paper, Deven fancied himself a hard-hitting journalist who cared about the big stories. He was going to find out what was going on in his city.
“Dammit,” Adelie cursed to herself as she ran around her tiny apartment looking for her car keys. She knew that she put her keys in the bowl by her front door last night. But they weren’t there this morning. And she was running late for work, again.
She threw the comforter off her bed and stripped her sheets in an attempt to find her keys when she heard jingling. She looked over to her pillow and saw them resting right in the middle of the it, where she had slept on that night. Odd, she thought. How could they have ended up there? She would have come in contact with them last night. She shook off the foreboding feeling this discovery brought her and snatched the keys before running out the door.
“Hey Addie,” Jared – her boss – greeted with a grin when she flew through the door that morning. With his dark buzz cut and military background, he was a big man, that one would expect to be a bouncer at a club rather than own one and a restaurant in the hottest spots in Boston.
Addie smiled briefly and mock-saluted. “Hey Boss.”
“You may have a full house tonight; can you handle it?” Jared smirked.
Addie rolled her eyes. “Doesn’t make much of a difference either way, does it?”
Jared smirked with an ‘okay, you caught me’ expression. “I’m heading out now. Sarah and Holden should be clocking in soon. If either flake, call Tyler and ask him to cover. He needs the extra shifts, believe me.”
Addie listened dutifully before interrupting him. “I know all this, Jared, I’m the manager.”
Jared walked around the counter and smiled. “Sure, but I’m the owner.”
“So you keep reminding me,” Addie drawled.
Jared handed her a dark blue binder and walked out, calling behind him. “Couldn’t run this place without you!”
Addie thought to herself, too true.
Jared was right, it was a full house. And he was right again when he said someone might flake. Sarah called saying she had a ‘family emergency’ that she simply couldn’t get away from. It was urgent. Of course, it was, Addie thought, you’re cheating on your fiancé with your sister’s husband and you need to do whatever it takes to cover it up.
Addie had a massive attention to detail.
But she called Tyler and he was there within five minutes. He was a starving artist who needed the extra boost to his paycheck. Holden, Cathryn, and Michelle were there too. The bartenders were working at full speed and the cooks buzzed like bees in a hive in the kitchen. It was a bit noisy but the quiet type as the semi-dark restaurant was filled with couples at the tables, families at the booths and singles-ready-to-mingle at the bar.
Addie strode in her work boots to Nadia, the hostess, and tapped her shoulder. The teenager looked up and blushed, thinking she was in trouble. “Yes, Miss Brennan?”
“Seat more people in Tyler’s section. It’s looking bare and he’s sitting on his ass and getting paid for it. Besides, Michelle is getting trampled by the six children families.” Her tone was all-business. It always was when they were in the middle of working. But on any down time, she was sure to make every employee see her warmer side and see her as a peer instead of a ruthless boss. Most got the message.
Nadia nodded obediently and turned her attention to the upcoming guests. Addie walked off and went to check how things were going in the kitchen. There was lots of yelling, shouting orders, snappy retorts, pots banging and the occasional fire alarm from smoke rising.
The Head Chef, Carlos, looked ready to pull his hair out. His face was red, and Addie swore she could see his vein in his neck about ready to pop. Addie was quick to confront him. “Calm down, Carlos. You know what your wife said about losing your temper.”
Carlos glared at her. “This isn’t your business, you’re only--”
“The manager,” Addie reminded him. “Calm down, Carlos, or I’ll be forced to let Kendall take over for the night.”
Carlos breathed deeply and stalked off, barking out orders again. Addie turned and walked out the swinging doors and headed towards the bar, so she could start looking over work schedules.
She settled herself on a stool by the restaurant phone and opened her ever-present dark blue binder. She had been working for an hour when she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned and saw a dark-skinned man – maybe Indian – smartly dressed in black slacks, a white dress shirt with the top three buttons undone and a navy-blue blazer.
He smiled – showing his pearly white teeth – politely. “Excuse me, are you Miss Brennan? The manager here?”
Addie spun in her stool and looked up at him with a half-grin. “That depends on who you are, sir.”
The man smiled bashfully and answered, “I’m Deven Suresh. Reporter for the Boston Chronicle.”
Addie folded her arms in front of herself and asked, “And what can I do for you, Mr. Suresh?”
Deven peered at this woman with interest – her calm, cool almost cold nature throwing every alarm off in his head. He pretended to look down at his note pad before answering her. “I’d like to ask you some questions about the recent disappearances. Three girls have disappeared on this block in the last four months.”
The memory of the FBI flashed in her head, showing her pictures of the green-eyed girls and asking question after question, treating her like she could have possibly done something to them. Where would she keep them – her refrigerator?
Addie nodded stiffly. “That is correct, Mr. Suresh.”
“Please, call me Deven.” Deven smiled a ‘dashing smile.’
Oh, please don’t, Addie thought to herself. She pinched her lips together and stood. “Mr. Suresh, I told the police everything I could possibly think of to help the investigation. I did not know the women in question. It isn’t uncommon for single women to get abducted on streets like these late at night.”
“I’d like to get my own questions answered, if you don’t mind,” Deven said.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Suresh, I do mind. As you can see, we are very busy here tonight and I have to work. Now, if you don’t mind, I have to check on my waiters,” with that, Addie walked past him, binder in hand.
“She wouldn’t talk to you?” Mr. Cable asked his reporter that Friday morning.
Deven peered down at his notes and research and nodded, rubbing a hand down his face. “She was quite reluctant.” He had never run into such an obstinate person right from the beginning. Some people told him right out that they didn’t want to talk to him. Other people flew at the chance to get their two cents in the news, not on their Facebook statuses where no one cared. Yes, Adelie Brennan was an anomaly, but still a challenge he was willing to keep working with.
“Well,” Mr. Cable paused, as if the rest of his sentence were obvious, “charm her. You can get every young lady to chat. And by the sound of her, she needs some male attention.”
“You want me to seduce her?” Deven looked up with unbelieving eyes. That wasn’t exactly his plan to take on the challenge of the stubborn restaurant manager.
Mr. Cable rolled his eyes. “You don’t have to date her. Just flatter her. Butter her up. Get her to talk. She wouldn’t not talk to you if she didn’t have anything to hide.” With his two cents tossed in – in reality, his order – he waddled away into his corner office and slammed the frosted glass door, effectively ending their conversation and leaving Deven there to sputter and let it all sink in.
Deven turned his face down to look at the pictures of the girls missing, trying to find a connection. But other than their similar irises... there was nothing. Apart from a catchy title for the article that he couldn’t figure out how to write, he was irrevocably lost. He needed some sort of start for the story that could put his name in the highlights. He needed a clue, a new lead, something that meant something new to the same story running across television screens every night. Some other reporters told him that he wasn’t a detective. It wasn’t his job to solve the crimes, only to report on them and the police progress. But there was no police progress, and they weren’t cooperating with the media in any way. He needed something for his story. He needed to get something from Adelie, if only to tide things over until he got front page material.
The part of him that wasn’t a reporter, truly cared about these poor girls that were getting taken away, never to be seen from again. He was getting swept up in the same paranoia everyone else was. But that part of him had to be smothered by professional journalism. It was easy enough when he was working, but not so easy when he was home.
Addie walked back into her apartment and dumped her keys in the bowl, hoping they’d stay there. She was exhausted from the day she had. Short staffed, an onslaught of families at the booths and singles at the bar, and Adelie having to race around the entire restaurant to keep it all from burning down. But this was her life every day she worked. It was a hectic mess that she hated while she was in the eye of the storm but loved having made it through when she got home at the end of the day. She stripped her jacket off and hung it in her closet before walking into her kitchen and putting the kettle on the stove, ignoring the waning air plant hanging above her sink. She jogged upstairs to dress in her pajamas. Her pajamas consisted of sweatpants and a tank top, because she wasn’t fancy enough for real pajamas. Like anyone, she wanted to get immediately cozy.
The shrill whistle of the kettle summoned her back to her kitchen and she turned off the stove and poured some of the boiling water into her favorite homemade mug. Her little nephew Aiden made it for her for her birthday last year. She deposited a tea bag into the mug and moved it around as she walked into her small living room.
She put the mug down, so she could turn the television on. Immediately, a news anchor with beauty pageant mom hair popped on the screen along with three side by side pictures of the now three girls who had gone missing. Addie barely listened as she sipped her tea, but the news anchor wasn’t giving out any real news. She was essentially rehashing what everyone already knew and saying that there has been no progress.
Gee, Addie thought to herself, thank you so much for the new information.
She wanted these girls to turn up safe as much as anyone else. She didn’t know why she cared so much. She didn’t know anything of the girls. The first girl disappeared in front of her restaurant, and maybe she had been inside. But Café Ciel was a popular restaurant. Many young women came in hoping to find men or at the very least, some fun night to suck away the loneliness of their hum drum lives. And many couples came in on dates. It was a hot spot. Addie couldn’t feel responsible for remembering every single customer. With that in mind, she switched the channel to crime shows – though those weren’t much better than the news these days – and sat back sipping her tea.
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