The Candy Shop

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CHAPTER 28

While Rocco was gone, Kira continued to sift through the emails on Audrey’s computer. She read one dated the day before she met Audrey for coffee. It read:

AUDREY, YOUR INTERVIEW AT TCS IS TOMORROW EVENING. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE SEXY OUTFITS YOU’LL BE WEARING!

Kira wanted to gag. Tears streamed down her face and she didn’t bother to try and stop them or wipe them. She felt the heartbreak and let the emotion flow out of her.

Getting up to retrieve tissues, Kira refilled her wine glass and went back to perusing Audrey’s email. She stumbled on one dated a week ago yesterday, on the first night Kira and Audrey worked at The Candy Shop. Judging by the timestamp on the email, Audrey had sent it after she returned home from work. It read:

FRANK, I DROPPED KIRA OFF AT HOME BUT SHE’S NOT HAPPY WITH HOW THINGS WENT TONIGHT AND NEITHER AM I. SHE DIDN’T SAY A WORD ON THE DRIVE HOME AND I HAVE A HUNCH SHE WON’T RETURN TO TCS AGAIN. THEY DRUGGED HER WITH SOMETHING WHICH WASN’T COOL. I’M WORRIED.

Kira scrolled down and read Frank’s response:

AUDREY, DON’T WORRY, THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS AT PLAY. EVERYTHING WILL BE OK.

Kira buried her face into a couch pillow and screamed as loud, long and forcefully as she could. Her body shook from anger and she swore if Frank were standing in front of her right now she’d have no problem Tasering his balls, or worse. I might even shoot him, she thought and then quickly pushed the thought from her mind. She couldn’t kill the father of her children no matter how much she hated him in this moment; no matter how much he deserved it.

Skimming through the last of the emails, Kira began to sense that there was a problem. Frank’s tone sounded less playful and more upset. In an email dated last Sunday, Frank wrote:

AUDREY, KIRA HAS CALLED IN SICK THE PAST THREE DAYS. YOU HAVE TO GET HER TO WORK TODAY OR I CAN’T CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS. WE’LL ALL BE IN DANGER IF SHE REFUSES TO SHOW UP.

Audrey never answered this email and Kira sat back and began to form a timeline of events in her mind. Sunday was the day she had text Audrey and Audrey text back telling her that Lucas was upset and that she needed to come to work. That was when Kira had told her “no” and Audrey text back, stating: “We’re Done.” If memory served her correctly that text came around 10:30pm. At 3:00am on Monday Kira received the automated voice phone call at her home, saying: “First a terrible awful wreck, then the tires, then the neck.” And then the caller warned her that if she called anyone else Frank would never come home. At 7:00am Monday morning, while leaving to drive to Audrey’s house, Kira found the note and finger in her trashcan, which is how she ended up at the Police station, where Landon found her and took her into captivity at the Adams Mark.

Kira felt a surge of adrenaline. Something had gone wrong with their plan, she could feel it. She didn’t know what it meant, but Audrey was in trouble and probably Frank, too. Leaping from the couch, Kira searched the room until she finally found a pen and some paper in the kitchen. Returning to the coffee table, she jotted down the timeline, noting anything and everything she could remember. According to Shelby, Audrey hadn’t returned to work since Sunday night. Kira didn’t believe Frank’s tense sounding email and Audrey’s same-day disappearance were a mere coincidence.

Using one of the temporary cell phones, Kira dialed Michael’s cell. She was overjoyed to hear his voice and to learn that he and Mallory were safe and, as she had requested, were staying together. “Mom, are you okay?” Michael asked. “Dad said you were really shaken up by the case he’s been working on and that you guys had received threats so he moved you to an unknown location for a while. He said you wouldn’t be able to answer your phone or text or anything until things quieted down. Are things better now?”

Kira was speechless, stunned that Frank had contacted their kids and lied to them in order to make her disappearance believable. This proved that Frank knew Landon had taken her prisoner. This proved that Frank knew Landon had confiscated her cell phone and was holding her against her will. A lump lodged itself in Kira’s throat. How could he have done this to me? Why?

“Mom? Are you still there?” Michael beckoned. “Are you okay?”

Swallowing hard and struggling to fight back emotion, Kira took a breath. “I’m here, sweetheart, and I’m fine.” Her voice shook and she cleared her throat to mask it. “Your father’s right, I’m a little shaken up by this case but everything’s going to be okay. I need you to take care of your sister, all right?”

“You know I will,” Michael said. “Do you want us to come home and stay with you while dad’s gone?”

“No!” Kira blurted and then tried to soften her tone. “No, I’m fine. I want you two to stay where you are and stay together. If you need me, you can reach me at this number, but don’t give this number to anyone else. You understand? It isn’t safe.”

“Mom, what’s going on?”

Michael was sharp, always had been, and Kira knew he wasn’t buying the story, but she didn’t know enough about the truth to tell him. “I promise I’ll tell you everything, but I can’t right now. I love you and Mallory so much,” Kira’s voice cracked with emotion. “We’ll talk soon.”

“Love you, mom,” Michael said and then disconnected the call.

It felt as if her whole world was caving in around her and Kira curled into a ball on the couch and wept.

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