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September 8

Dear Journal,

Well, I am happy to report that I am sticking to my word of writing in you everyday. Today is Monday and it was the first day of dance practice. We nailed down a new stretch routine and started a new dance for halftime on Friday. Coach is hoping that we can compete this year!! Can you believe that?! Wow, not only am I writing in a journal, but I’m asking it questions. This year is already turning out to be incredible. In another month they are going to release this year’s play and I can start practicing for tryouts. Until tomorrow

Cassandra Marie

The blue, steel exterior door to the Patrickson residence opened slowly, “Mom, are you here,” the tall, red headed guy known well as Cassandra’s older brother, Jared, walked in. “Mom? I got your voicemails, what’s going on?”

“Jare?” Genevieve tore out of her bedroom from the back of the house. Full force, she ran to her son who was still standing in the foyer. Tears cascading down her face, she wrapped her arms around Jared’s neck. He stood eight inches taller than her. So reaching him for a solid hug really took a lot of effort. “Oh thank goodness you are here! Where have you been? I have been calling you and texting you nonstop.”

“Mom, calm down. I had work and classes all day yesterday. On top of that I had tons of homework. I shut my phone off to focus. I forgot about it being off until I was halfway home to see you guys. Where’s sis?” Jared was incredibly intelligent, so his oblivious attitude toward the situation boggled his mother’s mind. It was clear to Genevieve that he had no idea what was going on.

“Jared, your sister is missing. I thought you said you got my voicemails!”

“Well, yeah, I did get them. Mom, you know the way I take home, lots of roaming areas. I barely had any service at all. Hearing anything that you say your name was about as successful as those voicemails, were. I’m sorry, what’s going on? Did she say she would stay somewhere, but went somewhere else again?” The longer the stunned silence continued from Genevieve side of the conversation the more Jared’s charming jokester smile faded. “Mom, tell me what’s wrong.”

“Jare, she is gone. Cassandra has gone missing, completely.” Genevieve chocked back her tears, but still could only manage a few words between sobbing fits. “She told Grace a few days ago that you had messaged her and told her to meet you at the lake and no one has heard from her or seen her since.”

“Wait a second, she told someone that I texted her, and told her to meet me at the lake? Mom, I haven’t spoke to her in a few weeks, I think,” Jared pulled out his phone and started scrolling through it to check his facts. The last time they spoke was on his birthday which was three weeks before hers. “The last time I spoke with her was my birthday. See, look.”

“Jared, I trust you. I don’t think you didn’t anything to cause her to get hurt. If she wasn’t texting you and meeting you out there, who was she talking too? Oh goodness, Jared. I need to call Detective Granger and update her.” Genevieve rushed over to her phone and began calling the number she had for Nadia Granger.

“Detective? Yes, hello, this is Genevieve Patrickson. I need to discuss something with you right away.”

Jared grew antsy in the uncomfortable pause, “You want to come here? Yes, yes, of course. We will wait right here.” Genevieve was pacing now. Jared knew that meant things weren’t going her way, “my son. He just came home.” The pauses were becoming more and more intense.

“Yes, we will be in the living room. Thank you, Detective,” Genevieve hung up her phone and looked over at her first born, her loving son. She was so happy he was home, but to spend time together under these circumstances was so disconcerting. There was an ominous cloud that was now looming over the moment that is typically a lovely blessing. “Detective Granger is on her way over. She says there are some new developments in your sister’s disappearance.”

Before Jared could interrogate his mother about what was said on the other end of the call, there was a knock at the door. “Geez, where was she when you called, the driveway?”

Genevieve gave a disapproving look at Jared and then walked over to the front door. “Detective Granger, hello. Come on in, please,” Genevieve shook the hand that extended out to her from the front porch. Leading the way to the living room by way of out stretching her right arm, Genevieve introduced Detective Granger other son. “This is Jared, my son.” With a skeptical look plastered on her face, Nadia crossed the threshold from outside. Two officers trailed her as she made her way over to Jared.

Acting on the amiable intelligence that he was raised with, Jared stood and reached out to shake the hands of all three law enforcement agents. Begrudgingly, Nadia accepted his greeting and then turned her attention to Genevieve. “Ms. Patrickson, as I said on the phone, there have been things come up in the disappearance of your daughter.”

“Ok, I assume it’s not good news. Please, sit so we can go over it,” Genevieve sat down on the couch next to Jared and offered her favorite chair to the others.

“Actually, it’s neither good nor is it bad. We located what we believe to be your daughter’s car. We couldn’t identify it as being her being registered to her, or anyone for that matter. The license plate had been removed, but it had the steering wheel cover you described, an empty box of the brand of cigarettes her friends confirmed to be her preference and there were some traces of hair that we believe may be Cassandra’s. We had the hair and some DNA we found on the steering wheel cover to the forensics team. We should know more about that in a few days. With the intention of keeping the integrity of the department in tact, it is also my intention to keep full disclosure open with you. That being said, it was a fairly substantial amount of hair. I’m sorry ma’am, but I feel compelled to tell you that if the test reveals that the hair is, in fact Cassandra’s, it may be safe to say that she looks different than she did a few days ago.”

“So, you saying her hair was in her car without her? For what possible reason, exactly, would that be?” Jared was seemingly getting agitated at the thought of his little sister cutting large amounts of her hair and leaving it in her car. He hadn’t told his mother yet, but he believed as most others did. Most people in town believed that she ran away.

“As uncomfortable as it is to think about, it is quite possible that someone kidnapped her and cut her hair to change her appearance. It’s also possible that she cut her hair to run away. These options are not easy ones to grasp, but they are questions that we are hoping you can answer for us,” feeling a gaze full of heat coming from Genevieve, Nadia kept her eye contact with Jared.

“What do you mean, find out from him,” the petition from Genevieve struck an obvious nerve in Nadia.

“We were right outside when you called, Ms. Patrickson. We were right outside because we knew your son was back in town and we had followed him here. We are here not only to update you, ma’am, but to take Jared in for questioning.” Nadia motioned for one of the officers to escort Jared out.

“Now, just hold on a moment...” Genevieve started toward her son, but was closed off by the detective.

“I’m sorry ma’am, but we have to look into everyone. Right now, Jared is our first and only suspect due to the story that was given about Cassandra. If he hasn’t done anything wrong he will be ready for you to pick up and bring home in an hour or two. We will call you if we release him,” with that she turned to walk away.

“It’s alright, Mom. I’ll help in every way that I can and then they will see that I didn’t have anything to do with Cass going missing. Come get when they call you to pick me up,” Jared said softly, “I love you.”

“I’ll be there waiting. I love you, too, Jare,” Genevieve yelled and then ran to the door to lock it.

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