We arrived at my office later in the afternoon. It was 12:45 and my appointment was at 1pm. Shane sat down on the office couch and I sat behind my desk getting everything ready for the meeting. There was a soft knock on the door. “It’s open” was all I said as I looked up from
my desk and my face fell. I quickly checked my emotions and put on my professional mask I use when a case gets to me. A woman entered the office. She couldn’t have been more than 5’4”. She was very skinny, like she hadn’t eaten in a couple days. Her eyes held sadness in them, like she had no more tears to cry. I’ve seen that look before. My mother held that look for months before she passed away. “Mrs. Matthews?” I asked.
She looked at me with big brown eyes and shook her head “yes, you can call me Barb though.” Her voice quivered a bit as she continued.
“Ms. Winters I presume?” she asked. I extended out my hand and she took it in a firm
but delegate shake “yes, but you can call me Katsia if you would like. Can I get you anything? We have tea and water, I’m sorry we don’t have coffee at the moment but I can have a pot put on for you.” I said.
“You are very kind Katsia. Water will be fine thank you.” She sat down in the chair across from my desk and placed her purse in her lap. I came back with some water in a glass and sat down in my chair.
“Now Mrs. Matthews, I mean Barb, what can I do for you today?” I asked.
She opened her purse and pulled out a file, handing it to me. “I want you to find my daughter.
The officers at the PPD said you could help me.” She looked at me with hopeful eyes.
“I understand. Barb, what can you tell me about your daughter?” I asked.
“She was 19 years old. She was a good girl Ms. Winters, she was valedictorian of her school. Honor roll student, she was even taking some college courses.” Her eyes were pleading with me, willing me to believe her. “She wouldn’t run away Ms. Winters, My Janet wasn’t like that.” The last words were said as a whisper as tears started rolling down her face. Shane came up behind her and handed her a box of tissues. I looked at him and mouthed thank you. He just nodded and went back to sit on the couch. I studied the woman sitting across from me. Her petite body was shaking from crying. I felt sad because I watched my mother do the same thing night after night, day after day. I looked at Barb “Where was she last seen?” I asked.
“She went to the Lloyd center mall. She was shopping for some new clothes for when she goes off to college. She never came home, she didn’t call and it’s not like her.” She said.
“Does she have any friends out of state she could have gone and visited? Any boyfriends she could have disappeared with?” I asked.
Her tears stopped and she looked at me, anger flashing in her eyes “do you think I didn’t think of
that Ms. Winters? I called up all her friends and asked them if they have seen her. Janet never spoke to me about a boyfriend, but she had no time for guys. Her friends said they never saw her with any guys either. I’ve exhausted every avenue I could think of as a mother, the cops can’t do anything for me. You are my last hope!” the last word came out as more desperation than anger.
“I’m sorry. I have to ask these questions Mrs. Matthews. The more I know the more leads I can follow. Is there anything else you can think of that I need to know?” I asked.
“Everything I have about my daughter is in that file, including pictures. Please say you will help me?” She looked at me with those big brown eyes, tears filling them again. I sighed and said the only thing I could say “I will try my best Mrs. Matthews.” I gathered some more information from her and then I said “Thank you for coming in.”
I shook her hand again and walked her to the door. Closing the door I looked over at Shane and let out a sigh.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“It’s hard to say, do you think she left anything out?” he asked.
“I don’t know what to think, I had a hard time with her honestly. Looking at her, all I could think of was how she resembled my mother after Cassie’s disappearance.” I said.
I opened the file and studied the picture. My breath ceased and I backed away. Shane looked at me with concern “Kat? Are you ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He said.
Taking a deep breath I looked at the picture again and sighed “does she look familiar to you?
Resemble anyone?” I asked him. He looked at the picture and his face fell “It’s just a likeness Kat, you know it’s not her.” He said softly. “It’s just your mind playing tricks on you. It’s been an emotional day for you visiting Cassandra’s grave, then seeing your client and comparing her to your mother. It’s bound to make you see things.” He said.
I just shook my head “you're right. I will take the file home and look through it. I’ll hit the Lloyd center tomorrow and see if I can charm my way into the security booth, I mean who can resist my sparkling personality.” I said with a smile. He just shook his head and laughed. I took one last look at the picture and closed the folder. I wrapped it in a rubber band I looked at Shane and we headed out.
We walked around Portland a bit before stopping into Pizza Schmizza. We gorged ourselves on pizza then headed home. It was around 4pm when we arrived back at the apartment. Shane had to go and change. Apparently he took his buddies shift for the night so he could have the day to go with me. He was always doing little things like that for me. After my mother passed, things with my dad got bad. On really bad days I would sneak over to Shane’s house and climb into his room. He would get me ice or a first aid kit, depending on what my dad did that day. Then he would hold me until I fell asleep. I always woke up to him on the floor and me in his bed. I opened the fridge and grabbed a wine cooler. I never liked beer, or wine. It was always coolers for me. I took a sip of the Smirnoff and I played with the file. I carried it into my bedroom where I laid all the contents out and started to study it. Maybe, just maybe if I can find this girl, this girl who reminds me of Cassie…I can let it go. I took another sip of my cooler and held it up in a mock toast here’s to hoping. I woke up the next morning to the sound of knocking “yeah, come in” I said half asleep. The door opened and Shane stood there “fell asleep looking at the files Kat? How late did you stay up studying it?” he said in a scornful tone. I sat up in bed and saw all the papers and pictures scattered on and around my bed.
“I don’t remember” I said.
He just shook his head and laughed as he started gathering up the papers. “Did you find anything useful?” he asked.
I shrugged “nothing out of the ordinary. She had a damn good life honestly. I don’t see this girl running away for any reason. Most young adults that run away, they are trying to get away from something. Whether it’s a bad family life, abuse, or other things, she really had no reason to up and leave. I am hoping I can find something at the mall.” I said. I started to say something else but I didn’t.
“I know that look, you just were going to say something and stopped yourself” he said.
I scowled at him “I just was thinking, but it’s nothing. This week is messing with my mind” I said.
He just looked at me then and I squirmed under his gaze and sighed “alright” I said exasperated.“I just couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Janet and my sister Cas. It’s
erie. I mean everything she did in school Cass did pretty much everything as well. Plus Janet Matthews has the same hair color and body type as my sister. Other than a few features and the eye color she could be a dead ringer for her” I said and frowned. “Could you do me a favor today while you’re at work? I want you to run a list of all missing women between the ages 1821
in the last 10 years.”
He just looked at me and shook his head “I don’t know what you plan to find, but I will try and get that to you this evening. But Kat, you know it’s going to be a huge report. I don’t know what you think you will get out of it, but I want you to promise me that you won’t get emotionally invested in this because of Cassandra” he said.
“Just humor me and get me the report. I’ll let you know what I find. I’m going to shower and hit the mall. Maybe I can catch a lead there” I said. He sighed and handed me what he picked up off the floor. I picked up the rest of the papers and pictures and put the file neatly in my dresser drawer. I turned and looked at Shane “I will do my best not to get tunnel vision on this. Now you better get going or you’ll be late for work. Captain Reilly will have your ass if you are. I will be fine. I will keep you updated on all my progress” I said as I pushed him out of my room.
I grabbed a couple towels and headed to the bathroom.