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Chapter 52

Mary’s head was spinning in her meeting with Kristin. Hearing about Luke and then Jordan’s near miss and seeing part of the videos that were confiscated ruined any thoughts about lunch. Not to mention the news about Paula Travers, scheming with Luke Haller to collect insurance proceeds on dead foster kids! How low can you get?

Mary plopped into a chair. “Whew,” she exhaled, wiping a tear away with a tissue. “I’m just relieved that Jordan is okay. And if the pills are related to the death of Mikayla’s mother, then it’s related to Germaine. Let’s hope the task force can tie it all together and put these guys out of business. Wouldn’t that be terrific?”

“Amen to that,” Kristin sighed. “If Joseph gets to target Germaine by way of Mikayla, he should get the credit. But if something happens to her…”

Mary stood, twisting the tissue into knots. “I can’t predict what can happen to Mikayla, but Robby has a good connection with her. I want to talk to Robby during his study hall this afternoon. I want to thank him for providing the information that he did about Mikayla and Germaine.”

“Good for you,” Kristin said, ushering her out. “Robby is a hero. He has adjusted so well to the community and school. Hopefully he will stay in touch with Mikayla and her information will lead to Germaine’s arrest.”

Score one for thoughtful rehabilitation, Mary said to herself as she left.

“Go ahead into the conference room, Dr. Visconti. I’ll send Robby in to you,” the school secretary said. “You know, he’s a great kid. I’m not easy on crime, as my husband was a deputy sheriff who was killed in a shootout ten years ago. But Robby, he is nothing but respectful. Last Friday my car died and he was in the parking lot and came over to charge the battery.”

Mary smiled. She heard nothing but good news about Robby

“Hi, Dr. Visconti. Is everything okay?” Robby hesitated.

“Yes,” she smiled. “You’re doing great. I want to thank you for letting your therapist know about Mikayla. Your action may make a big difference.

“Actually, I’m glad you are here,” Robby answered. “Mikayla isn’t in school today and she’s not answering my texts.”

“Hmm, it could be nothing or something troublesome. Mikayla has a lot going on now. If you hear from her again, please let me know. Thanks, Robby.” She gave him a quick hug and left.

Mary speed-dialed Raphael’s cell phone. Was skipping school just a coincidence or was Mikayla with Germaine or worse, Luke Haller. She shuddered when she thought of Mikayla in that horrible video.

Raphael sighed. “It’s been a bad day already, starting with Stackhouse enlisting my help to draft Paula Travers’ written confession. But I think you’re right. I don’t believe in coincidences either. I’ll bring it to Stackhouse and call the sheriff to see if they think we need to act.”

“Okay, sounds good. I’ll give Kristin a call, too.”

“You called me first?” Raphael whispered.

Mary heard the surprise in his voice and her breath caught. She realized how she’d hurt him these last few months. Even though they were dating, she often went to Kristin or Joseph before Raphael. Part of that was to prevent cRussong very real professional and ethical boundaries. Part of it was because she didn’t want to argue with him over differences of opinion. Part of it was because she hadn’t trusted him not to break her heart.

In these few seconds, Mary knew that she’d been an emotional coward in dealing with Raphael. She smiled and blew out an exaggerated sigh. “Yes, I called you first. We need to start acting more like a team. I know I haven’t always done that. I want to try harder.”

“Me, too. I know I haven’t always made it easy. I love you.”

Raphael hung up quickly. Mary lingered over those words, and then called Kristin.

“More rotten news on a rotten day,” Kristin said after Mary’s briefing. She rubbed her temples with her fingertips. “I didn’t bargain for this much drama in juvenile court. Neither did you, Mary. The way things are going, I’ll find Chad on my patio tonight wanting me to rent him a room. Well, I better let Stackhouse know what you’ve told me, just in case.”

“I just hung up with Raphael. He’s going into Stackhouse now.”

“You called Raphael first?” Kristin asked. “Sounds like the relationship is changing.” She smiled. Good for you, girl.

Kristin walked over to her window, looking at the jail in the distance. It was another world, one that was outside her comfortable, colorful, cheerful chambers. Another world, where Joseph lived now. She could not get the images from those videos out of her head. She could not forget Mikayla’s suffering or Jordan’s cutting or Robby’s rage. She could not keep those images separate.

She picked up one of her wooden trolls and threw it across the room.

She stared at her print of “The Scream” and covered her face with her hands.

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