10 p.m. – 44 hours left…
I stare at the facts for twenty minutes, turning them around in my mind like a rubrics cube, but to no avail. Forty four hours left and no clear lead.
I call an old friend, Jean-Paul who works for CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the closest the Cannucks have to the CIA. I use his personal line. He picks up after one ring.
“Sadie, ça va?”
His sexy French voice slides like silk over my senses, making me take an extra breath as I remember the last night we spent together. It must have been a year ago, and while it had been good, it hadn’t been good enough for me to ask for more.
“I need your help.” I say.
“I owe you my life,” he says.
If I were the kind of spook who kept a score sheet, then technically he does owe me. I did rescue him in Berlin. But I don’t play petty games when it comes to people’s lives and he knows it.
“Name it,” he says.
“I want information on Kate and Madison Montague who live in Vancouver, Canada.”
After a short pause, he says, “This is when I should tell you to ask your own people or go through the proper Canadian channels.”
“But you won’t.”
Another hesitation. I was asking a lot.
“Give me an hour.”
One cup of coffee later, my personal cell phone hummed. Jean Paul sent two folders of documents, one labelled Kate and the other Madison, and a sultry emoticon that had a spastic wink. I laugh.
I open Kate’s folder first and stop half-way down the first page. “…married Henri Montague… suspected international forger… never convicted…”
That fact complicates matters. I should phone Jeremiah and give him a piece of my mind. There’s nothing I hate more than being given an assignment with only half the information I need. I growl and continue reading.
Five pages later, “…Henri Montague declared dead… his boat exploded off Spanish Banks, near Vancouver, March 2012… no body parts found.”
Again, my fingers itch to phone Jeremiah. Could Henri still be around? Did he need money to support his lifestyle off the grid?
I continue reading. The notes made Kate sound like the perfect executive wife, but the description lacked depth. No one could be that PTA perfect. And there are no references to her brother working for the CIA. How could a spy agency miss that?
Unless… someone wanted them to. Jeremiah? Nah. If Jeremiah tampered with this file it would look more believable. Someone with less finesse had whitewashed it.
Other than the mention of Henri’s sketchy business deals, this file had a bleached feel to it. I could smell the chlorine. Probably the omissions were made to keep Kate and her daughter safe. The Canadians had no reason to consider her a threat. I copied her home address and phone numbers on my cheat sheet.
Next I opened the wild-child Maddy’s folder. The devil-dared-me look in her brilliant blue eyes pulled me in. In the photo she had long dirty blond hair, stood medium height like her Mom and wore blue jeans and a black sweatshirt with a hoody over her slender figure.
Somehow I knew I was going to love this kid and I did. Singled out at five for being gifted intellectually she’d been placed in a special class for Grade One. She stopped talking and didn’t start again until they put her back into a regular class, where she plugged along and passed year after year.
She put itching powder in the running shoes of her Grade Seven P.E. teacher when she was twelve, took photos of a hickey on the neck of her music teacher and posted them on the school bulletin board, and continued to pull the pranks until at sixteen she ran off with a musician. Their affair lasted seven days, but she stuck to the streets.
There were fewer notes on her life after she left home. A couple pictures of her with friends, all dressed like the cast for a Gothic dystopian TV drama filled out her profile.
There were ten photos in all. What stood out in the most recent picture, taken two weeks ago, was that she’d stopped smiling.
I updated my information sheet:
6) Shady possibly undead father, Henri,
7) Jeremiah-brilliant Madison,
8) mother, Kate, a whitewashed question mark,
9) Jeremiah, as always, an enigma.
It’s now eleven pm. Forty-three hours left.
I punch Kate’s home phone number into my cell.
“Ms. Montague, I’m so glad to reach you at home,” I say.
“What? Who is this? Do you realize what time it is?”
“Yes. Let me introduce myself. My name is Sadie Stewart. I work for Extrazzee magazine and I got a tip that your house would be a perfect…”
She clicks off. The phone line is dead.
I punch in the code again. No answer.
I set the display to read Jeremiah and punch in the number a third time. Jeremiah didn’t want me to contact his sister, but I have to know more. I refuse to work blind.
“Ms. Montague, we have to talk.”
to be continued…
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