C A I N
Harry and Charlotte had clearly arrived before me, but fuck knows how. I'd driven like a bat out of hell, my conscience weighing me down as I drove. I'd been ball deep in some girl, when Max needed me. A myriad of questions cluttered my brain, my thoughts now on a carousel of guilt.
Why did I leave her?
What had Andy done?
I enter the building via the civilian entrance, my eyes scanning the familiar scene before me. Peta, our receptionist, greets me with a warm smile, nodding towards the doors beyond reception.
"Harry is through there. I didn't expect to see you tonight."
I grunt in response, not bothering to make idle chit chat. As I pull open the doors, I'm greeted with a girl who strongly resembles Max, her puffy eyes barely focusing as she looks up at me hopefully.
"Cain," I hear Charlotte say, her hand on my arm. I frown, looking past her to see Max and Andy curled up together on two plastic chairs further down the hall. "It's Max's sister. Harry is in there with the parents-"
I blink, relief coursing through me when I realise Max is ok.
"What's happened?" I demand softly, unable to tear my eyes away from Andy and Max. His hand is stroking her arm, his mouth close to her ear as he whispers things to her.
What fucking things was he whispering?
"Um, Max's sister, Alex, has gone missing."
I glance at Charlotte, rubbing the back of my neck.
"How old is she?"
Charlotte frowns then, before stepping closer to me.
"Twenty-five. That's her twin-" Charlotte nods towards the girl that looks remarkably like Max. "She reported her missing."
I know that adults go missing. I also know that sometimes they don't want to be caught. But something tells me this family is genuinely worried, so it must be out of character for her.
I nod, making my way over to Max and Andy, my eyes narrowing when Andy frowns.
"Max," I crouch down before her. She has clearly been crying, but there's more to her glazed expression. She looks like every family member I've seen over the years; the ones that are convinced the worst has happened. The vacant look in her eyes tells me Max is sure her sister is dead.
"Sweetheart," I try again, as Andy releases her, his hands holding her shoulders gently.
"She's not really talking," Andy admits, eyeing me suspiciously. "What are you doing here?"
I'm tempted to ignore him, but the fact he is physically propping Max up stops me.
"I work here," I reply, relishing in his evident confusion. I choose not to elaborate, when Max peers at me.
"Cain," her voice is strained, but her eyes are wild suddenly. She sits up, gripping my hands tightly. "Have they found her? Is she…"
"Max, walk with me," I command, lifting her to her feet. I guide her away from Andy, taking her out of the building and into the fresh air. It's cold, and I am relieved when Max takes deep breaths.
"Sweetheart, listen to me. Your sister, what's her name?"
I can't believe I don't know this. Worst of all, I didn't even know she had a sister, let alone twin sisters.
"Alex," Max whispers, wrapping her arms around herself. "Alex George."
"And she's twenty-five? Any boyfriends?"
Max shakes her head.
"I've got to give a statement in a moment. My parents are in there right now."
I turn her towards me, her eyes finally meeting mine. Even in distress, she is fucking breathtaking. The way her lower lip quivers as she pushes her hair out of her eyes with frustration- dammit, Cain. Focus.
"Tell me everything you know," I say quickly, closing my eyes. I need a picture in my mind of this girl, and I need it now.
"Apparently she's been doing drugs," Max wails miserably. "She went to meet some guy, presumably to buy more, and hasn't come back."
"You're certain she's been taking drugs?" I repeat, chewing on the inside of my cheek. "Do you know who she was meeting? Where does she live?"
"Westcarne," Max says, her eyes dropping to the floor as she bit her lip. "I've no idea who she was meant to be meeting. I didn't know…"
I rest my hands on her shoulders, fixing her with my gaze.
"Max, listen to me. I'm going to go in there and see what they know," I point towards the station as Max nods tearfully. "Then I'm going to go and find your sister. Ok?"
A sob dies in her throat as I notice Harry leave the station, signalling silently for me to speak to him. I knew from the look in his face it wasn't good. I turn my attention back to Max.
"Hey, look at me," I murmur, stroking Max's face with my finger. "I'll do my best, and it's pretty damn good. Alright? Go and be with your family."
Max nods, turning back towards the building before stopping, her hand reaching out for mine. I take it, and she squeezes it tightly.
"I'm scared, Cain."
My heart aches at her words, but something else changes. She is looking at me with hope, and I know then that she trusts me to ease her fears and help her in this horrific situation.
"I've got this, babe," I say, and she pulls me close, pressing her lips on mine. I don't care who can see us, and I'm particularly hoping Andy can. Despite him being there for her tonight, I didn't like him. For obvious reasons. "I'll call you the minute I know anything."
I watch her walk back into the building, before making my own way over to Harry who is leaning against the wall, staring at his phone thoughtfully.
"I think Alex George had a high debt to pay," Harry says ominously. "To whom, is the question. She was an office assistant, minimum wage. According to her twin, Frankie, she was coked up three nights out of seven."
So she was using drugs.
I let out a low whistle, as Harry continues.
"Let's say she bought an eighth, setting her back one twenty, let's say. That would last her a night, if she's loving life."
"Three hundred and sixty a week," I say slowly.
"Her half of the rent was seven hundred. Her sister and her live in a swanky loft apartment in town," Harry frowns. "How could minimum wage cover that?"
"Yeah, because she will have to eat, live-"
Harry turns his phone towards me, showing me the Instagram of theoneandonlyAlexG.
"Seems our Alex had a thing for designer things. Look at her watch."
I peer at the photo, noticing her watch cost almost two months of my salary.
"You think she got kidnapped by an angry dealer?" I summarise, grimacing. Harry does his usual trick of waiting patiently, his arms folding over his chest as my mind begins to piece things together.
"What reason has a drug user got to go missing?" Harry muses. "Overdose?"
"It's possible. In some dirty drug den, waiting to be found. But it's cocaine, a party drug. It doesn't fit," I groan, pacing the floor.
"Pretty girl, isn't she?" Harry declares, showing me a photo of Alex George. She is identical to the woman sitting in the building beside us, so much so I almost yelp with recognition. "So, she goes out to meet a guy…"
"To buy more drugs…" I muse, pausing suddenly. "Or…to ask for a loan until she gets paid?"
"I think the sister knows more than she is letting on. Frankie?" Harry frowns, glancing back towards the building. "How could Alex afford all of that, Cain?"
I groan inwardly when our eyes meet, and I kick at the floor mindlessly.
"You think she was some kind of call girl?" I wrinkle my nose up, unable to believe this young woman with a loving family would turn to the game without trying to get money from anyone around her first. We needed to ask more questions.
"I think," Harry says slowly, watching a car pull into the car park beside us. He nods at the driver, before continuing. "Alex had an extra income, and it will probably be related to her disappearance."
Charlotte pushes through the double doors, her head craning to the right as she seeks out her husband.
"How are they all?" Harry asks, his arm sliding around his wife's waist as he kisses her head. Charlotte nods, but lets out a worried sigh.
"Max's mum is going mental at everyone, which is bizarre. Frankie is just crying constantly, and Max isn't saying much. Do you know anything?"
Charlotte looks up at Harry hopefully, and he shakes his head.
"We have some theories, but we don't really get involved with these sorts of cases. As a favour to Max, of course, we will help out in any way we can."
Charlotte wraps her arms around Harry, and I avert my eyes. Their public displays of affection were usually something I teased them for, but to be honest, now I just felt envious. The woman I wanted was being comforted by another man barely twelve feet away from me.
"I'm going to Westcarne," I declared, heading towards my car. At that moment, Max and Andy walk out of the station, and I feel my heart skip a beat. Andy is guiding her towards his car, but she is watching me intently.
I know she needs to leave with him, because she has to rest. I can do something to help, and that's better than anything I can offer her right now.
Andy makes eye contact with me, opening the door for Max to climb in. As he closes it, he nods at me respectfully, which only makes me dislike him more.
Charlotte hurries over to the car, and leans into the window, talking to Max. Andy waves at Harry, who smiles politely back before he catches my glare.
"I'll come with you," Harry jogs up beside me, as he does a double take. "Have you been with another woman?"
I cast my eyes around us, grateful that Max wasn't within earshot. The last thing I needed was for her to hear about my extra curricular activities. She would never speak to me again.
"Shut up, man," I mutter, hating how Harry seemed to know everything.
"New perfume. Not one that Max wears, to my knowledge," Harry narrows his eyes as we reach my car.
"You're wasted in the force. You should've been a bloodhound," I snap, watching Andy's car speed away with Max in the passenger seat.
"It doesn't take a detective to work out where Max will be sleeping tonight either," Harry continues cheerfully, earning himself a glare from me.
"Shut up, unless you've got something useful to say," I warn, hating Andy and myself in equal measures. Andy for getting to be the Knight in shining armour, and myself for leaving her in the first place. Let alone fucking Bella.
"Look at those cogs turning," Harry hoots, clipping his seatbelt in.
"Harry," I snap, shooting him a deadly glare. "I will kick you out of this fucking car."
"Go to Devo's, and quit your bellyaching. Someone there will know Alex George, I'm sure of it."
I grunt in response, agreeing silently that Devo's was the place to go. It was a trendy bar in the heart of Westcarne, and anyone who was anyone partied there.
I just hoped someone knew where to find Alex George. Every hour that passed made it less likely that she would be found safe and well.
Unless she didn't want to be found.