She’d been around the Pumas enough now to know that Adrian Giordano was one of the rulers of the Pride. The Alpha and Curana led the pride, with their Betas, Simon and Becky Holt. Then there was the Marshal, Dr. Giordano, who ruled over the physical well-being of the Pride. He was the one who saw to it that all of them were safe and controlled any enforcers needed to protect them all. His Second was Gabe.
Gabe’s mate, Sarah, was the Omega, a woman who could sense the emotional well-being of the Pride and, in some cases, manipulate their emotions, calming ongoing feuds or shoring up a Puma’s flagging self-esteem. Tabby had told her once that Sarah had walked up to Alex and stopped him from going into a rage when he discovered that Tabby had nearly been raped. Glory had seen Alex and Ryan shifted. She knew how large and angry the Grizzlies could be.
And Sarah had tamed the beast to her hand. That was one scary power…and one awful responsibility. Glory was glad Bears didn’t have Omegas. She’d hate to think that she might accidentally wind up wielding power over someone else’s emotions when her own were such a roller-coaster. Glory knew she had no business messing in someone else’s head.
“All right.” Gabe led Ryan and Glory into the back room. Cyn and Tabby would watch the shop while Glory answered Gabe’s questions. Gabe set the file folder on the break table and took a seat. “Tell me what you remember.”
Glory sat across from him, not surprised when Ryan took the seat next to her. She took a deep breath and began. “When my sister and I were sixteen, she disappeared.”
Gabe nodded and opened up his notebook. “Go on. She went to the library on…” He opened the file folder and took a quick look through the papers there. “August twenty-sixth.”
“Yeah.” Glory twirled some of her hair around her finger. It helped calm her, the powder-blue curls so unlike her twin’s pale blonde hair. “I didn’t want to go. I wanted to go shopping with Cyn. So Hope left without me, and my father wasn’t happy about it.”
“Yes. We had a huge argument about it. My mother was still married to my father at that time, and tried to intervene, but we’d learned by then that she didn’t have any real power over us. It was my father who held it all.”
“He would beat us, but no one believed us when we tried to tell them what he was doing. He was a man of the cloth, a preacher. No one wanted to believe he was abusing his children.”
“No one except Cyn and her mother, who took you in when your family abandoned you.”
“Mrs. Reyes is more my mom than my biological parent ever was.” Glory grinned, hoping they didn’t see through the sharpness to the pain. “And Cyn is more a nagging dad.”
Glory rolled her eyes. Cyn’s hearing had gotten super-scary-good recently, ever since her mate had claimed her and turned her into a Kodiak. “Good!” she bellowed back.
Ryan stuck his finger in his ear with a wince.
Grinning, Gabe shook his head at her. “All right. So you go shopping with Cyn—”
“Nope. I never made it. My dad got a hold of me and grounded me.”
Gabe’s brows rose as he flipped through the papers again. “The notes here say you went out with Cyn.”
“That’s what my father told the officer.”
Gabe’s gaze hardened. “What did you tell the officer?”
Gabe swore under his breath. “He was a member of your father’s congregation.”
“Sorry, Gabe.” She hoped the man had retired by now, but if not, Gabe might have to sanction a seasoned officer for not speaking to a possible witness. “If it helps, I think he told the officer that I was too traumatized by Hope’s disappearance to speak.”
“What was the truth?” Ryan’s voice was dangerously soft.
“I was black and blue.” Glory tugged on her curl. “Look, my father was very good at making me seem like the bad child, the wild one who needed to be punished constantly. He hated that I was friends with Cyn, that I wanted a tattoo or my ears pierced. I wasn’t godly enough to be his child, and he made sure I was the example the others didn’t want to live up to. Even Hope couldn’t stop him from taking things out on me, and he adored her.”
Glory nodded. “She always dressed the way he wanted and wore her hair the way he wanted, to keep him from hurting her.”
“Do you think he did other things to her?”
God, how many times had she asked herself that over the last few years? “I don’t know. She was always quiet, withdrawn, but it got worse as we grew older. I just thought she was trying to stay off my dad’s radar.”
“Do you think your father had anything to do with her disappearance?”
She shrugged. “He lost his mind when we couldn’t find her. I’ve never seen him that angry. And he blamed me, like he’d hoped I would be the one taken and not her.”
Gabe tapped his pen against the table, his expression grim. “Is it possible that what happened to her was meant for you?”
She hated to do it, but she nodded. “Yes. If my father was the one behind it, then yes.”
“All right. Walk me through everything you remember before she disappeared, the day she went to the library, and the days afterward.”
Glory nudged Ryan. “Can you get me some water? This is going to take a while.”
Ryan softly kissed her forehead. “I’m here for you, sweetheart.”
“You shouldn’t be.” She closed her eyes. God, why did she keep trying to push him away? She was such a masochist.
“But I am, and I’m not going anywhere.” He got up and grabbed a bottle of water out of the mini fridge. “Go on. Tell him what he needs to know.”
She opened the bottle and took a sip before obeying Ryan’s request. “Before she left, everything seemed normal.” She snorted. “Normal for us, anyway. We all went to school, we all came home and did our homework. We hung out with our friends and gossiped about boys.”
“Before Hope went missing? Sure. Temp tried to keep the peace between us, but even he couldn’t keep our dad off us if he decided we needed to be punished.” She fiddled with the bottle cap, refusing to look at Gabe. “Temp was nothing like our dad. He was the one who did all the dad things, like making sure we got to school on time and lecturing us about boys.” She smiled wistfully. “And he doted on Faith.”