Thought I Knew You(9)

By: Kate Moretti

“Sarah, this is crazy. Please don’t leave.”

She just smiled, wiggling her fingers as well as her eyebrows, and slipped out before I could stop her.

Greg returned with two martini glasses. He cocked his head to the side with a tentative smile. “I generally don’t scare women away that fast.”

“Sarah claimed she had a headache. She’s a misguided cupid. I apologize.” For the second time in ten minutes, I felt my face grow hot. God, just shut up. How much did I have to drink? I rushed to change the subject. “Well, tell me about yourself. How did you become a trainer for Advent? How long is your post in Rochester? Are you married?” I felt scattered, running off at the mouth. His hand rested next to mine on the table, barely touching, and I studied his arms, thick and strong, and briefly wondered how they would feel around my waist.

He didn’t answer immediately, and the silence seemed to last forever. Finally, he laughed. “No,” he said, with a small smile, giving me a nudge with his elbow. “I’m not married.”

Conversation flowed easily, and unlike a lot of the men I dated, he struck a nice balance between awkwardly quiet and excessively talkative. He laughed frequently and had a smile that reached his eyes, crinkling them at the corners. When he walked me back to my room at two in the morning, I was drunk and head over heels. When his mouth opened to mine, I knew I never wanted to kiss another man for the rest of my life. And when he invited me back to his deluxe suite, I never hesitated.

Later, I couldn’t remember the subject matter from the other two days of class. More than once, he stumbled over his words or lost his place in the lecture, not so coincidentally after we made eye contact. That told me I had the same effect on him that he had on me. We spent the remaining two nights after class together, and poor Sarah’s mini-cation was mostly spent alone in a hotel room. She never complained.

The morning we left, I couldn’t find Greg to tell him goodbye, but Sarah and I spent the entire ride home analyzing my new love interest. I was giddy on hope, and with a little prompting, I looked up Greg’s number in the company directory and called his office the day after we got home.

Until recently, I couldn’t be sure that we’d gone a day without speaking in ten years.

Chapter 5

“I’m Detective Matt Reynolds.” The man stood on my porch, wearing a wrinkled button-down shirt and a pair of equally wrinkled khakis. He held his credentials with the badge out for me to see.

When I made no move to look, he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and wordlessly, I opened the door.

He stepped over the threshold. “I’m from the Hunterdon County Missing Persons Unit. I wanted to stop by to follow up with a status update.”

What status update? Here’s the status: Greg isn’t home yet.

“Do you want something to drink?” I asked, turning to walk to the kitchen.

He followed me down the hallway. “Uh… no, thank you, Mrs. Barnes.”

I detoured into the living room. “Please, call me Claire.” I motioned for him to sit on the couch, while I sat in Greg’s easy chair.

He lowered himself onto the middle cushion. “I’m going to be the lead investigator, and I promise you we will do everything we can to find your husband. Right now, we have no reason to believe he’s dead. We queried all the morgues within a twenty-mile radius of Rochester for a John Doe matching his description. So far, there’s no one. I’m leaving this afternoon for Rochester to discuss some of the details of the case with the local authorities there. We’ve had phone conversations with personnel at the hotel and the airline, and we’ve confirmed what you told us earlier. We do believe he landed in Rochester and checked into his hotel, but we don’t think he ever stayed in his room. In addition, we can’t locate his luggage.”

He pulled a pen and a small notebook out of his shirt pocket. He clicked the pen once, twice, and seemed to be waiting for me. I nodded for him to continue.

“This is all we know right now. But I do have a few follow-up questions, if you feel up to it.”

“Yes, of course. Anything.” All the talking seemed superfluous, taking up precious time. I couldn’t understand how talking to me would help them find Greg. I wanted to push him out the door, out into the real world where the clues would be.

“Mrs. Barnes… Claire, I need to ask you some tough questions, regarding your marriage, your life, things that may feel very personal. I don’t believe you had anything to do with Greg’s disappearance, but you may be able to tell me something about who did. And you might not even know it yourself, so it’s very important that you don’t hold back on me. Do you understand?”

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