Heart of the Raven(2)

By: Susan Crosby


He shook his head.

“I don’t understand. A child who disappears—”

“The woman who is carrying my child disappeared. She left a note. The police won’t get involved because she went voluntarily.”

Anger coated his words—at the woman or the police? Understandable, either way.

“May I see the note?” she asked.

He left the room, giving her a chance to catch her breath. If she’d known there was a child involved… No. She would’ve met with him regardless. She just wished she’d been prepared. Any case involving a child kept her up at night, drove her to exhaustion. She pushed harder for answers, demanded more of herself and everyone around her.

“Here,” he said, handing her a single sheet of pink stationery.

Dear Heath,



I need to figure things out. Don’t try to find me. I’ll be in touch later.



Eva



Not exactly a love letter, Cassie thought. “When did you receive this?”

“It came in the mail this morning.”

“Is she your wife?”

“No. We had a one-night stand over eight months ago. I offered to marry her, several times, but she said no. Several times.” He walked away from her.

“Why would she leave?”

He looked back sharply. “I didn’t abuse her, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

“I’m gathering facts. That’s what I do.”

Impatience surfacing, he dragged his hands down his face. “Here’s the story,” he said. “I don’t get out much. Most of the time people come to me when I need something. Eva works as a clerk in my lawyer’s office, and she was assigned to bring me paperwork to read and sign. After almost a year of seeing her once a week or so, we slept together. Once. She got pregnant.”

“When is she due?”

“In three weeks.” He moved around the room again, not stopping to touch anything, just moving, pacing. Prowling.

“Are you sure the child is yours?”

He hesitated a fraction of a second. “I have no reason to believe otherwise.”

She measured his response and decided if he’d questioned the issue before, it was settled in his mind—or almost so. He’d be a fool not to have some doubt, based on what he’d told her. “Okay. Were there any clues that she was about to take off?”

He came to an abrupt halt. “None.” The harshly uttered word conveyed all of his brimming emotions. “She stops by every few days. She gives me an update from her latest doctor’s appointment, we talk a little, and that’s it. I’ve never done anything to make her run away. She agreed to shared custody as soon as the child was weaned. We have an amicable relationship.”

An amicable relationship? Cassie thought it was an odd description, implying they were not friends but merely acquaintances.

“Do you give her money?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She waited. He didn’t expand on his answer.

“I’m going to need more detail than that.”

“Ms. Miranda. Eva is carrying my child. I want my child well taken care of. That starts in the womb. Short of Eva moving in here, which she refused to do, I thought that making her life easier with some extra money would only help. I will show you the accounting of my payments to her, but what does it matter?”

“It matters because it establishes a pattern. Maybe she ran off and is holding your unborn child hostage because she wants more money.” Cassie tapped her pen against the pad she’d opened again. “She says she’ll be in touch. Why aren’t you just waiting her out? If you trusted her, you would do what she asked.”

He looked away, his hands clenching and unclenching, shoulders stiff. The barely contained emotion fascinated her. Still waters ran very deep.

“Three years ago my son died. My only child,” he said, then faced her again. “I won’t lose this child, too.”

His pain pierced the room like a siren’s wail. Cassie’s heart opened wide with sympathy. She was twenty-nine years old, and she’d seen suffering and endured a lot in her own life, but nothing like losing a child.

Her suffering— No, she wouldn’t dwell. “I’ll help you,” she said to Heath finally.

His relief brought quiet back into the room. “Thank you.”

“What do you think she meant in her note when she said she needed to figure things out?”

He straightened, focusing on her, on the new direction of questioning, as she had intended.

“I have no idea.”

“Did she have a boyfriend?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“What about family?”

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