December 29, 2010

Inherit My Heart Chapter Thirty-five

Between the lack of physical comfort, and his worries over seeing Charleston in the hall, Gavin spent a restless night on the tiny couch. Around 4:30 he decided to give sleep up as a lost cause. He gathered his clock and bedding and quietly padded into his half of the suite, his blanket trailing along the floor in his wake. There was no sense in waking the girls before it was necessary.

He quickly dressed, then packed his belongings and took his cases into the girls’ living room, setting them near the door. He returned to his side and checked once more that he’d left nothing behind. Satisfied with his housekeeping, he began straightening the girls side, checking all the drawers and cubbies in the main rooms. He packed Katrina’s games and all the non-perishable food they’d bought.

“You’re not leaving us?” Sally’s dry sarcasm floated quietly across the room. Gavin looked up to see her leaning against the open doorway into her room.

“We’re all leaving,” Gavin said, rather more sharply than he’d intended. “Get your things packed. I saw Charleston last night at the ice machine.”

Sally turned on her heel and disappeared into her room. In less than five minutes, she was back to place her bag next to his own. He grudgingly, mentally, gave her an efficiency award.

Carew was right; he was emotionally involved in his case. He really did need to calm down. If he spent too much time thinking with his heart instead of his head, it was going to get Katrina killed. The trouble was, Katrina had already wormed her way into his heart, and even if there was a way he could cut her out of it, he wasn’t certain he wanted to.

He grimaced at his mental picture of himself standing with a gaping wound in his chest, having cut out his entire heart, literally, in order to free himself of his love for Katrina. No, even that wouldn’t be sufficient; she’d permeated every fiber of his being.

Gavin jumped as his alarm clock started beeping frantically from where he’d shoved it in his suitcase. He went quickly to silence it, while Sally moved toward Katrina’s door.

She was back, moments later, face ashen. “She’s gone!”

“What?” Icy fear gripped Gavin’s heart.

“Katrina’s gone,” Sally repeated, standing aside as Gavin rushed through the bedroom door to confirm the awful news for himself.

The bedroom was a mess. Katrina’s clothing had been strewn across the floor. The blankets and pillows had been flung about her bed as though it had been the site of world war three, and the contents of her purse were scattered across the bed. Someone had been in this room, searching through Katrina’s things. How had this all happened while he kept watch in the next room? They must have drugged her, she hadn’t uttered a sound.

He whirled and made for the phone, stabbing in Carew’s now-memorized number. The detective answered immediately.

“Carew.”

“Lieutenant, it’s Gavin Browning. Katrina’s missing, and her room looks like a tornado hit it.”

“I’ll be there as quick as I can.” Carew cut the connection.

A tense ten minutes later, Gavin let Carew and Beals through the door.

“We didn’t touch anything,” he said, gesturing toward Katrina’s room.

“Good,” Beals said. Both officers had a quick look in the room.

“When did you last see her?” Carew asked.

“Last night, around nine when she went to bed…just about the time you called,” Sally promptly answered.

“Let’s go to the motel office and find out what room Charleston is in,” Carew said. “Is your picture of him handy?”

Gavin patted his pocket. “I have pictures of both of them, right here,” he said, following Carew toward the door. He turned and tossed Sally the keys to his car. “Put our things in my car, please.”

Sally nodded.

“Don’t touch Katrina’s room until we get an investigative team out here,” Beals added. “It certainly looks like an abduction.”

A few minutes with the motel’s manager did nothing to calm Gavin’s fears. He recognized the photos of Charleston and Jason, he was most anxious to help the police; he wanted no trouble in his motel. He told them the names they’d registered under, and conducted them personally to their room.

Gazing through the door the manager opened so kindly for them, Gavin’s heart sank. This room, too, looked like a storm had been confined here. Motel things were scattered all over the place, but there were no personal things in evidence. Everything pointed toward a hasty departure.