Heart of the Raven(5)

By: Susan Crosby


“I already have.” He would do anything for his child. Anything. Including fighting Eva for custody, something he wouldn’t have done before. She obviously wasn’t fit to be a mother. “What can I do in the meantime?”

“Let me get things rolling first. Sometimes these kinds of things solve themselves fairly fast. If you think of anything else that might be important, give me a call.”

She held out her hand. He took it automatically, one businessperson to another, concluding a deal. He started to let go, but she tightened her hold.

He got caught in the unwavering intensity of her eyes.

“I will find your child,” she said with conviction.

His throat closed. He barely stopped himself from yanking her into his arms in gratitude.

He believed her.





Two




It didn’t take Cassie long at her computer that afternoon to come up with Eva’s date of birth, social security number, current address and previous address. The rest would take more digging. She expected that the interview with the roommate, Darcy, would yield the most concrete information—unless Eva had been as secretive with Darcy as she’d been with Heath.

Cassie hit the print key then pushed away from her desk and stretched, loosening her shoulder muscles. While her documents and notes printed, she would call Eva’s obstetrician. She picked up the phone, started to punch in the numbers, then stopped the call before it went through and dialed Heath instead.

“It’s Cassie Miranda,” she said when he answered.

“You have news?”

She heard expectation in his voice and was sorry not to be able to give him good news. She didn’t know much about Eva yet, but Cassie knew this much—people who used children were the lowest form of humanity. “I’m sorry, no. I’m about to call her OB’s office and pretend I’m her. Does she have an accent?”

A few beats passed. She figured he was dealing with the disappointment of no news. “No accent,” he said finally.

“Any distinctive speech patterns? Does she say ‘you know’ a lot? Or ‘like’? Anything like that?”

“She giggles.”

Cassie cringed. “A lot?”

“Yes. Even more when she’s nervous.”

Great. “Can you give me an example?”

Silence, then, “Right. That’s something I would do.”

She smiled at his sarcasm. “I think I would’ve liked to hear you try.” She looked at Eva’s photo when he said nothing further, trying to picture the two of them together. They didn’t fit. She was a girl-next-door type, with red hair and freckles, and he seemed worldly, even in his grief for the son he lost and the yet-to-be-born child now missing.

And he’s a hermit, don’t forget. Not exactly your ordinary sophisticate.

“Any other ideas come to you?” she asked.

“She likes to shop.”

Cassie grinned. She was getting used to his interesting way of offering information, direct and vague at the same time. “Any place in particular?”

“She likes a bargain. Said she’s never paid full price for anything and she never would.”

“She likes a bargain as in thrift stores—or the semiannual sale at Nordstrom?”

“Both, I would guess. And consignment shops. She’d found one that sold only maternity clothes.”

“Can’t be too many of those in the city.” She grabbed her phone book from her credenza and placed it on her desktop. “Thanks. I’ll check it out.”

As soon as she hung up she called the doctor’s office, knowing she was cutting it close to quitting time. She drummed her pen on the desk as the voice menu prompted her with choices to make, then she chose option three, which had to do with making appointments.

“Hi,” she said when an actual human being came on the line. “This is Eva Brooks. I’ve done the silliest thing.” That was as close to a giggle as she was going to get. “I lost the card showing my next appointment. Can you tell me when I’m supposed to come in, please?”

“Brooks, did you say?”

“Yes. Eva.”

Cassie heard the distinctive sound of keystrokes on a keyboard.

“You’re Dr. Sorenson’s patient?”

“Yes.” Did she sound cheerful enough? Innocent enough? Please don’t make me giggle.

“Do you go by a different first name?”

Cassie knew she didn’t have to pursue it. Another of Eva’s deceits. Was she really even pregnant? Was it all a scheme to squeeze money out of Heath? Prey on his vulnerabilities?

“I’m sorry. Did you say Sorenson?” Cassie asked. “I wasn’t paying attention. I dialed wrong. My mistake.”

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