The Doll Collector

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Chapter 29

Able to do nothing but to sit at home and worry, Jennifer continued to count the hours since the capture of their daughter. It was almost lunchtime on Sunday. They were hurtling towards the dreaded 48 hour mark. After that, finding and returning a child home safely had proved to be far less than likely.

In her mind, Abigail and Noah had been the glue that had held the marriage together over the past few months. There had been times that she might have cut her losses if circumstances had been different.

She shook her head, on some level refusing to believe the thought, the idea as it drifted across the plain of her mind. She twisted the engagement and wedding rings on her left hand a quarter of a turn one way, and then back again. Marriage is about sticking with someone through the bad bits as well as the good.

Dan’s support at their latest challenge was not often obvious. He had said the right things at the right times, but the comments were almost inevitably at the other end of a phone. Some would believe that his rightful place was by her side during such difficulties, but she knew Dan better than that.

Her husband’s time had been spent in his office and with the police, trying to piece recent events together. He seemed to believe that he could find details that the police would overlook. It had happened before. This time it really mattered.

Jennifer had been quietly impressed with her husband over the past two days. He had used his knowledge and his eye for detail to very good effect. The police had been waiting for evidence to fall in to their laps, and Dan had been the one finding it and dropping it on them. Thankfully they’ve been listening to him more than I have recently.

Her husband had practically run the investigation form the moment he received that DVD. Not only that, but every detail had been shared with her at every moment, often before he contacted the police. Every idea, every scrap of possible evidence had been mentioned to her, always with the caveat that she was to avoid getting her hopes up.

Dan’s theories had helped the police to build a profile of this man, and to the composition of a likeness of him. There was still no name, but Dan’s efforts had helped far more than they had hindered. Not only had the investigation been progressed at a much quicker pace, but her own faith in the man seemed to be restored. He’s always in his element when he’s investigating. It’s a shame he turned his back on it just a couple of years ago.

As her mind started to invent the next possible breakthrough, the home phone started to ring for seemingly the first time today. “Probably someone else telling us how much they wish they could help,” she said to herself, reaching for the phone. “Dan would call my mobile. It’s not him.”

She caught the phone by the end of the third ring, dragging herself to the base unit for the cordless phone.

“Castle residence,” she said as if she was already disinterested in the words of the other party to the call.

“Mrs Castle, this is DC Brokes. Is your husband there?”

She shook her head, and then decided to communicate in a way meaningful to the officer on the phone. “No, he’s in his office. No doubt trying to find the next big thing for the case.”

“Your husband needs to start leaving more of this to the police. We appreciate his efforts, but he’s taken his part as far as he can.”

She shrugged. “He seems to think he’s the only one capable of solving this.”

There was a sigh. “I suppose I can share the latest details with you. We may have found the kidnapper’s sister-in-law.”

Jennifer wasn’t sure how to respond. There was silence as the officer seemed to at least expect confirmation that she had heard and understood.

The voice on the other end of the phone continued, “She called a few minutes ago after seeing your appeal for information. She says that he disappeared some years ago, along with his wife.”

“His wife?” Jennifer said, not sure why she phrased it as a question.

“We’re still trying to verify the information she provided, but her local police force will be visiting her in her home to ask her some further questions.” There was a pause. “Can you update Mr Castle of our progress?”

Why? So he can stop harassing you and showing you all up? She didn’t say the thought aloud. They needed to avoid upsetting the police. They were proving useful. “I’ll tell him.”

“There’s no need for him to call us back,” the DC said far too quickly. “We don’t have anything else to report yet. We’ll know more when we’ve met her and taken her statement.”

“Okay,” she nodded, and then silently reprimanded herself for once again providing a non-verbal response. “I’ll tell him. Thank you for the call.”

The call ended and Jennifer lowered her gaze to the phone’s base. There was a box lit up with a red number one. A message. How on earth did I miss that?

She pressed the play button and froze, hearing her daughter’s voice for the first time in days, playing out some new drama involving the man that had taken her.

Her heart pounded. Her hands felt slightly numb and she felt dizzy. With trembling fingers she picked up her mobile phone. There were now two big reasons to call Dan as soon as possible.

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