After dark, we went back to the warehouse. Simon had bought a pad of paper, pencils and a marker so we could leave a note. A scrap of paper and a cheap pen would have been enough, but Simon had lost his sketchpad with his backpack, and I felt bad about that, so I sprang for art supplies. I was worried about him. He was acting fine—good spirits, chatting away, full of energy. With Simon, though, that can be a sign he’s stressed. Drawing would calm him down.
What I had in mind, though, was some quiet drawing after we’d found a place to spend the night. Not while we were in the warehouse, me guarding the door as he prepared a message.
“Are you almost done?” I said, walking back to where I’d left him.
He was crouched in front of a crate. On it, he was sketching one of his comic book characters.
Still drawing, he said, “No, I did not think this was a good time to engage in a little creative graffiti. There are too many places in here to stick a note, especially if we don’t want the bad guys finding it. I figured I’d mark this box and put the note underneath.”
I pointed at the drawing. “Will Chloe know you did that?”
“I hope so. She’s seen my sketches. We talked about it.”
Damn it. Exactly how much time had Simon and Chloe spent chatting at Lyle House? It couldn’thave been much. But apparently they’d said a lot in whatever time they’d had.
He continued drawing. “You might want to go back on guard duty. I’m almost done this, but I still need to do the note.”
How long would it take to write a couple lines? I decided not to ask. He was happy and calm, even if this wasn’t quite what I had in mind.
When he did call me back, I found more sketches, these on the message paper. A picture of a ghost, the Terminator, then a lightning bolt with fog.
“Okay,” I said. “You decorated it. Nice. Now add the message.”
“This is the message.” He pointed to the three pictures in sequence. “Chloe. I’ll be back. Simon. That way, anyone accidentally finding the note won’t understand it. But Chloe will. She’ll get the Terminatorreference because—”
“She loves movies.” That much I knew. Of course, so did everyone else at Lyle House. “It’s a good idea, but . . .” I took the pencil and added in big block letters, “10 AM.”
“She needs to know whento meet us.”
“It’s fine. I’m sure she’ll still cherish it forever.”
I took the paper, folded it in half, set it on a crate, then put the illustrated one on top, and led him out again.
I found us an alley to sleep in. I wanted better, but I’d let it go too long and night had already fallen. Simon was fine with the alley. I vowed I’d find a better place tomorrow.
I doubted I’d sleep. I didn’t plan to. But I did. Slept in, even, jumping up at nine-thirty and shaking Simon awake.
It wasn’t quite ten when we made it to the factory yard. There was no sign of Chloe. No scent of her either, or any indication she’d been here since we’d left. The note was exactly where I’d put it. We waited until eleven. I would have stayed longer, but Simon had to eat.
I should have had the foresight to grab breakfast before we’d settled in for the night. I’d bought juice in case Simon woke up with low blood sugar, but having breakfast ready for him would have been smart, so he didn’t get off his schedule. And my stomach would have appreciated it.
We hit the first convenience store. I waited outside because I’d forgotten to buy something else yesterday—deodorant. If you’re trying not to leave an impression on strangers, smelling like you spent the last week sleeping in an alley is not the way to do it.
Last night we’d washed up in the fast food place where we had dinner. For Simon, that worked fine. As for me, let’s just say the people giving me a wide berth weren’t just being polite.
While Simon shopped, I mentally made a list of other things we needed to buy. Backpacks. Clothes. More food.
I glanced in the store window to tell Simon to hurry. My gaze snagged on the display of newspapers. At first, I wasn’t sure what caught my attention, but when I looked again, I saw a photo on the front page. Chloe’s photo. Under the headline, “Local teen missing. $500,000 reward.”
Simon approached the counter, his arms loaded with food. I opened the door and gestured for him to buy a newspaper. He frowned. Then he saw the headline and grabbed one.
A few doors down was a park . . . or a spot where a building had been torn down and someone had planted grass and flowers to help cover the scars. There were a lot of scars in Buffalo. Too many torn-down buildings. Too many buildings that should be torn down. Which meant I shouldn’t have trouble finding a better place to spend the night if I started looking early enough.
Tonight was a long way off, though. Right now, we were in that park, dealing with another problem: the front-page article on Chloe’s disappearance. Her dad was offering a half-a-milliondollar reward for her return. Exactly the kind of stupid thing I’d been afraid he’d do.
“It’s not stupid,” Simon said as he tested his blood sugar. “He’s really worried about her and he’s doing everything he can to find her.”
“Which is only going to freak out the people looking for her. They’ll step up their efforts to find her and make sure her dad never does.”
“But he should know that this is only going to hamper an investigation. The cops won’t have time to look for Chloe. They’ll be too busy processing leads from everyone who spots a blond girl on the street. I bet his lawyer advised him against this. I bet the cops did, too.”
“He’s worried. He’s not thinking straight. He wants to use whatever he has to get Chloe back, and what he has is money. It’s a poor choice, but it’s not stupid.”
That was splitting hairs. I didn’t argue, though. The point was that the whole city now knew we’d disappeared.
When I said that, Simon shook his head and pointed farther down in the article. “They only know Chloe has. There’s nothing in here about any of—”
“Rachelle Rodgers?” I said. “It says the police interviewed Rae.”
“Maybe Dr. Davidoff made Tori say she was Rae, pretend to be Chloe’s roommate.”
I shook my head. “Too complicated. They’d just have Tori be herself and claim she was friends with Chloe. This must mean Dr. Davidoff has Rae. Let’s just hope that doesn’t mean he has Chloe, too.”
The rest of the day passed. It didn’t pass slowly. It didn’t pass quickly. It just went. Twelve hours of wasted time during which we discovered absolutely nothing. I searched for Dad on more computers, as if being in a different library would make new information magically appear. Simon cast his spell, as if his complete lack of success meant he just needed to keep trying. We even went back to Chloe’s apartment, as if she’d just casually show up at home when the whole city was searching for her.
I should have written 10 AM andPM on that note. I’d change it when we went back in the morning.
One thing we didn’t discuss was how long we’d keep going back. Until the news said she’d been found, I guess. Not exactly a solid plan, but I was too frustrated to come up with another one. Tomorrow. Maybe.
I found us a better place for the night—a small abandoned building with only rats in residence. The rats would clear out when they smelled me. I couldn’t say as much for the dead guy I faintly smelled in another room. I just wouldn’t let Simon go wandering.
We got up at seven the next morning, before Simon’s watch alarm went off. We headed to a nearby donut place for breakfast. It wasn’t what Simon should be eating, and I made him have a yogurt along with half a donut and a carton of milk. It was good to sit inside, though, after another cold night. Good to have a bathroom to clean up in, too. We ate and washed, then headed out.
We got to the factory yard early. I didn’t want to go in too soon, so I found us a place by some other industrial buildings just outside the factory fence. We were waiting there when a scent made me jerk up from my thoughts.
I tried to walk casually to the end of the building. I couldn’t. I practically jogged there, inhaling as I went, searching for that scent.
Not the guard’s. Hers. Chloe’s.
I leaned around the end of the building and took a deep breath. Then another and another. But it was no use. Her scent had flitted past on a breeze and I couldn’t catch it again.
Had I really smelled it? After all, I had been thinking about her, so I might have imagined it. Which was why I wasn’t telling Simon and getting his hopes up. But I wasn’t ignoring it, either. If there was a chance—however slight—that Chloe was out here, I needed to find her.
I told Simon that the guard seemed to be patrolling near the warehouse, and I might have seen a cop, too, so I needed a better look. Then I took off.
I found Chloe’s scent just outside the fence around front. A fresh scent. She was here. Really here.
I caught another scent. Tori? Shit. What was she doing here?
A vehicle turned from a side street, heading this way. A dark blue SUV, just like the one Chloe and I escaped from the other night.
I couldn’t make it through the factory gates before it reached the corner. I shouldn’t even head for the factory if it could be the same vehicle.
I ran across the road and hunkered behind a bush. Then I caught a scent in the breeze. A strong scent. Her scent.
I leaped over a chain link fence into a backyard and, with my ears attuned to the slowly approaching SUV, I followed Chloe’s scent over the rear fence and . . .
She was there. Right there. Ten feet away. Behind a shed, leaning out to look at the street. Through the bushes, I could see the SUV coming. She’d spotted it, and she was doing the right thing, but I still felt this overwhelming urge to give her shit. Tell her off for letting me get this close without noticing I was there. Or something.