So we spent all day moving around, casting and searching. I’d promised Simon I’d look for Chloe, too, and I did. It just wasn’t as easy as it was with my dad, where I could search on his aliases. With Chloe, I was hunting for either her home address or her aunt’s. I couldn’t get one for Dr. Fellows, but with some detective work, I figured out a way to track down Chloe’s.
I knew her mother was dead. Simon said it had been a hit-and-run when Chloe was five or six. Combine that with knowing her mom’s maiden name—Fellows—and it was easy to pull up the news of her death. I only needed her dad’s first name, and that was right there, along with his company. I knew I should probably stop reading there. Obviously she hadn’t minded telling Simon about the accident, so she’d tell me too, if I asked. Or so I reasoned. It justified finishing the article.
It was your typical senseless tragedy. Chloe’s parents were heading home after a date night. Their car was hit by someone running a red. The other vehicle collided with the passenger side, killing Chloe’s mother. Her father escaped with minor injuries.
Chloe hadn’t been in the car. That was good. I didn’t like to think of her witnessing it. I guess I wouldn’t like to think of anyonewitnessing the death of a parent, but, well . . . I was glad she hadn’t been there.
I figured the driver hadn’t been caught, but I checked anyway and when I did, I found something else. An article from her mom’s hometown mentioned the accident and linked it to another tragedy in the family. Her mother’s twin brother, Ben, had died at the age of nineteen, when he’d fallen from a rooftop.
I only needed to check the original article to know what happened to Ben Fellows. His friends had reported that he’d been withdrawn for a few years. He’d changed his plans for college and often seemed anxious, jumpy and just “out of it.”
Necromancy runs in families. Reading this, I knew it came from Chloe’s mother’s side, and that her twin brother had inherited the genes.
Had he given up trying to deal with ghosts and killed himself? Or gone up on the roof to escape one and fallen? Or been lured over the edge? Was that possible? Did it happen with necromancers? Could it happen to Chloe?
I alt-tabbed fast to hide the screen. “Got her dad’s name and his business. I should be able to get a home address from that.”
“Good. The librarian is checking her watch. I’ll distract her until you’re done.”
I didn’t ask if he’d gotten any feedback from his spell. If he had, he’d have said so.
When he was gone, I skimmed the article about Ben Fellows again. I wasn’t telling Simon about it. No point. If— when—we found Chloe, I wasn’t telling her either. She had enough to worry about.
I started a search on Steven Saunders and the name of his business. It took a while to dig up a current address, but I finally found one. That would be our next stop.
It was evening now. We’d spent all day touring libraries and ended up here, at the foot of an apartment building.
“It’s the penthouse suite,” Simon said, looking up. “That’s at the top, right?”
“So we can’t just peek in the window. Penthouse means it’s the only apartment on the floor, too, doesn’t it?”
“For once, you’re going to need to take the slow, careful route—”
“Never.” He walked into the lobby and randomly hit buttons until someone buzzed us in. Then he looked back at me. “Coming?”
I shook my head and followed.
We went up the stairs. It was a long walk.
“No wonder Chloe stays so skinny,” Simon said as we hit the eighteenth floor. “Taking the stairs every day? Even just going down? Hell of a workout.”
“How do you know she takes the stairs?”
When? I wanted to say. How come I’ve spent more time alone with her, yet you know all this stuff? What kinds of conversations were you two having that she just happens to mention her dead mother and taking the stairs every morning?
Personal conversations. Real conversations. When I was with Chloe, we only seemed to discuss whatever was going on at the moment. Talking to dead people. Fighting zombies. Reburying their corpses. Sure, when you’re in the middle of those situations, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to talk about your favorite snack food, but still . . .
“You like Chloe, don’t you?” Simon said as I followed him up the stairs.
I stumbled over a step. “What? No. Course not.”
“I thought you did. You get along okay. Most of the time anyway. Even when you don’t, you seem to like her well enough.”
“Oh, you mean—? Sure, I like her well enough. Better than the other girls you’ve gone out with.”
“Which is my point. You didn’t want anything to do with them. It’s different with Chloe. She’s different. It’sdifferent, you know?”
“I do. I mean, sure, I’ve liked a lot of girls and you probably think this is just the same thing. But it’s not. I like being with her. Hanging out with her. Talking to her. Getting to know her. I’m not just asking questions to make conversation. She’s different and she’s interesting, and she doesn’t know she is and that’s . . .” He glanced back at me. “I’m glad you two seem to get along.” He grinned. “It’s a nice change.”
I nodded and waved for less talking and more climbing.
When we reached the top, we found a door that seemed to automatically lock from the outside. You could get intothe stairwell from outside Chloe’s apartment, but couldn’t get to her apartment from the stairwell. Made sense, security-wise. Would have made more sense if the lock couldn’t be snapped by one good wrench of super-strength.
The door led to a hall with entrances to the stairwell, the elevator and the penthouse. I walked to the last and crouched, hoping to pick up Chloe’s scent. It was there, all right. Everywhere. None of it seemed recent, but I couldn’t tell for sure.
While I hid inside the stairwell with the door slightly ajar, Simon rapped on the penthouse door.
A middle-aged woman with bright red hair answered the door. She looked Simon up and down.
Simon cut her short by holding out his hand. “I’m Tad. I go to school with Chloe. You must be Annette.”
“How did you get up here?”
“I buzzed, but no one answered, so I came up the stairs.”
She glanced toward the stairwell. “You aren’t supposed to be—”
“Is Chloe here? I haven’t seen her at school for over a week. No one seems to know where she is. I texted her, but she didn’t get back to me. I wanted to ask her to the dance next week, and I, uh, well, I hope that’s not why she’s avoiding me . . .” He gave a small laugh.
“Chloe’s not here. She’s in the hospital.”
“Really? Geez, I didn’t know. Which one is it? I’ll go visit her.”
“You can ask her first, make sure it’s okay. I’m not trying to bug her. I just— Can you tell her Tad Simon came by, he’s worried about her and he’d really like to see her?”
The housekeeper said she’d let Chloe know, and retreated into the penthouse.
Simon joined me in the stairwell. “I don’t think she’s there. If she was, she’d have heard me. If the housekeeper knows where she is, hopefully she’ll give Chloe the message and she’ll understand it.”
Simon exhaled. “I know. And— Shit! The rendezvous point. We need to check—”
“I was waiting for sundown. We’ll go now and leave a note telling them when we’ll be back.”
You could access the elevator from the penthouse; you just couldn’t ride up to the penthouse without a key or a code. So we went down that way. As we got off, we brushed past a man waiting to get on, cell phone to his ear, suitcase rolling behind him.
I caught a whiff of a vaguely familiar scent. I turned, but the man was already walking into the elevator, still talking.
“—me, Lauren. Again. Don’t play this game. I came back early to see my daughter. I planned to surprise her at Lyle House, but she’s not there. No one’s there.”
I turned sharply and caught a glimpse of Chloe’s father just as the elevator doors started to shut.
“If they had to move the kids, someone should have notified me,” he continued. “I’m her father, as much as you—”
The elevator doors closed. Simon spun as he picked up the last bit of Mr. Saunders’ message.
“Her dad. He just got back to find Lyle House empty. He’s trying to contact her aunt.”
I pulled him back as he strode toward the stairs. “Whatever you’re thinking, we can’t do it. He’s going to raise hell about her being gone. If her aunt sent her back to Lyle House, she should tell him, but she’s obviously not returning his calls. Which seems weird.”
“Her dad and her aunt don’t get along. She wanted to take custody of Chloe after her mom died. Her father wouldn’t give her up. Her aunt thinks she’s being neglected, with her dad gone all the time. Chloe doesn’t seem neglected, though.”
Just because you had nice clothes and enough to eat and no one beat you every night didn’t mean you weren’t neglected. I knew that from my life in the lab, before I went to live with Simon and our dad. Still, it was obvious Chloe’s father loved her, even if he wasn’t very good at being there for her. I just hoped that he didn’t get so worried that he did something stupid. Something that could piss off the people chasing us . . . and make things even worse for Chloe.