Vanishing Girls

Vanishing Girls by Katia Lief Read Free Book Online

Book: Vanishing Girls by Katia Lief Read Free Book Online
Authors: Katia Lief
show at school and she ‘can’t be in two places at once,’ blah blah blah.” But in recounting Ladasha’s words, he smiled and gently shook his head. Sometimes I thought the tension between them made work a little more interesting for him, other times I just thought she ought to stop complaining.
    “Mac knows the dad—Reed Dekker. He’s a banker at Goldman Sachs.”
    “Mac have any private contacts for him? His secretary says he didn’t come in today and doesn’t know where he is, and no one answers the phone at home.”
    “I don’t think so. I read that Abby goes to Packer. Did you try the school secretary?”
    “Won’t give us private information over the phone. All we want to do is locate the parents so they can get to the hospital.”
    “Right.”
    “The school secretary said she’d call the house, and mentioned that the mom’s an at-home parent. I’m going over there now.”
    “I’ll join you.”
    “Come on, Karin—”
    “Thanks.” I stood up. “I’ll get my coat.”
    “That’s not what I meant and you know it. I meant come on, you can’t go with me. It’s going to start looking unprofessional if you keep showing up when I’m on the job. Or Dash might think I don’t think she’s a good partner, which is a complication I don’t need.”
    “I have some errands to run in that direction.”
    “What direction?”
    It was true: He hadn’t told me the Dekkers’ address. I got my coat and purse, anyway, and waited for Billy in the front hall.
    “Almost done tying the princess, Pirate Bill!” Ben told Billy as he reluctantly crossed the living room in my direction.
    “Good work, matey! Now . . . untie her and feed her to the sharks.”
    Ben immediately complied, unraveling the twine.
    “Thank you, Billy.” Chali smiled.
    “I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone so cheerful in the face of adversity,” he said.
    “You would be cheerful, too, if your daughter was about to arrive from India.”
    “When’s the big day?”
    “The first of January—New Year’s. I just received a flight update: she is now going to arrive one hour earlier. So much the better for me. I’m very excited, indeed.”
    “That’s great news, Chali,” I said. She must have gotten the e-mail just now, otherwise I was sure she would have mentioned it earlier. She’d been planning this reunion with her daughter for a long time, and I suspected that she secretly planned not to send her back to her mother’s in India. The arrangement had worked well for them for the years Chali had been in the U.S. earning a living to send home to her impoverished family—enough to feed both grandmother and granddaughter, and pay tuition for Dathi at the local school—but her mother was older and not in the best health.
    “You have no idea how much I miss that blessed child.”
    “It’s been almost a year since they’ve seen each other,” I told Billy, as he slipped on his jacket. I opened the front door. “Back in a little while, Chali. I’m going with Billy . . . that is, I’m going to run some errands around the neighborhood.”
    “You’re a sucky liar,” Billy said when we were down on the sidewalk.
    “How do you know? Maybe I’m such a good liar that most of the time you can’t tell.”
    We walked together along Bergen Street, back in the direction we’d been last night. When I noticed he’d stopped trying to dissuade me from coming along, I stopped pretending I wasn’t.
    It turned out that the Dekkers were practically neighbors: They lived two blocks down Bergen between Hoyt and Nevins. It was just past two-thirty in the afternoon, and yet when we walked up the stoop and rang the bell, the house seemed oddly quiet. The freezing day was so bright that the windows shone like mirrors. No one answered. I rang again, and Billy leaned over to try and peek through a window but couldn’t see anything. The curtains were drawn, as if no one had gotten up that morning to let in the day.

Chapter 4
    “Y

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