The sound of my alarm clock forces itself through my sleep and I press my pillow against my hand, temporarily blocking out the cries of morning.
Ten minutes later I am brushing my teeth and the echoes of a silent alarm now rings uncomfortably in my head. My hair is extremely rebellious today and I know the J.C will make a brilliant comment about it.
It is when I am drinking my coffee with two sugars that I realize that she has not called me in the morning like was her custom. I check my phone, which sits nearly forgotten on the coffee table in the center of my condo and wonder if the sound was perhaps turned off. As if wanting to prove me wrong my cell rings in my hand seconds before checking if I have any missed calls or texts.
"Hi mum," I say, knowing at once that it was my mother and not J.C who was calling me. "How are you this morning?"
"Hello darling," she speaks in her cultured accent, much like mine, only slightly more proper than my own. She had been raised in a prominent family. "I hope you are having a splendid morning, but," I breathe in heavily, something must be off for her to cut off her usual morning call with a 'but', "your father needs you to call him urgently."
Now that is weird. My father, Jonathan Edstone, never needed to talk to me. He rarely even said a word when we went on 'business' trips together.
"Why?" I ask, cautiously.
"'It is something serious', he said."
"Mum, does it have to do with business?"
"I have no idea darling; you know your father does not discuss such matters with me! Just give him a call; he expects a call shortly after we hang up."
I quickly say my goodbyes to my mum and hang up the phone. I am dialing my dad's number less than a minute later and while I await the call to go through I remember a moment from when I was nine and it was my birthday.
Dad had never been around, really, but I had not realized this until I had turned nine. Everyone had come to my celebrations, but not my father. "He is busy with work darling," my mother had occasionally chanted whenever I had looked slightly perturbed. I had ignored the nagging feeling in my heart and had tried my hardest to enjoy my birthday, but it was hard without the man there.
He had never wanted me to call him before, so now, while I await for the call to go through to Sao Paolo, Brazil where he is currently at I find myself silent and impatient for something that could in the end be nothing at all.
The call does not go through for another five minutes and I hang up, not wanting to wait any longer. I check my watch and rush out the door so that I can make it to J.C's house in time, she will be mad if I am late.
I enter J.C's street and am nearly blinded by the shining lights of the police officers as they light the morning sky. Dread tears at my heart and I park on the opposite side of the house. I wait for a car to drive past and I catch a quick glimpse of J.C's mom, Shannon, in tears, held up by Stephen, J.C's dad. Tim sits on the sidewalk silent and playing with a random stick that he had most likely found off of the side of the street.
I run up to them, the disheveled family, and capture the officer's attention.
"What is it?" I ask, all ready knowing the answer.
"She's gone Mark, gone-" Shannon answers instead of the police officer and breaks down as a result.
I understand at once and run to where most of the officers are gathering. I break through them and focus on one officer as he holds a lined piece of paper with what seems to be a single line scribbled on it.
"I don't get it, what is this?" The officer is asking and his only response is the shaking heads of his fellow troopers.
"May I see?" My voice is calm, but my brain is in a frenzy, who would take my J.C?
"I don't know son, this is private police matters."
"Give me the damned paper." I have run out of patience and I grab the paper out of his hand, leaving a scowling empty-handed officer reaching for his cuffs. "Calm down or you'll have to deal with my father."
"Listen kid," the officer begins, trying in vain to gain control of the paper again, "I don't care who your father is, give me-"
"He is Jonathan Edstone, and I am sure that you care." At my words the officer becomes pale and stays quiet.
I finally look down at the note and examine what it says three times before a light clicks.
Would young master care to play a game?
I knew exactly who had taken J.C.
My phone begins to vibrate and I hand the paper back. It is my father.
"Mark, listen carefully, our family business has become corrupted. We have several traitors in our midst. Be very careful. I just connected everything last night. Where are you?"
"Dad," I say, regaining my faux calm. "I am safe, in Ontario, Canada still. What do you mean corrupted?"
"Someone has been smuggling money from our business and they are trying to gain control."
"They have her dad." I can't stand not telling him any longer and I let it all out. "The girl I was going to bring home this summer, the one, she's gone."
The other side of the phone is silent and I can practically hear him thinking. "You need to leave Canada."
"What? Why?" I can't believe this cruel man. "Dad, she has to be somewhere down here, let me handle it. I can find her, I know how these people think."
"No you don't. And no you won't. If anything, she is no longer in Canada and somewhere in either Europe or any other place in the world. You need to come home."
"Come home so we can plan and take action. These people are cruel Mark, who knows how long your girlfriend has left to live. You need to come back, now."
I hang up my phone and begin walking back towards my car when a quiet voice stops me in my path.
"Mark," it is Tim, his fourteen year-old voice still cracks on several words. "Will you find her?"
I think over my words and clench my hands into fists, I can't look back now. "I will Tim."
I nod and walk away, making a promise to not just Tim, but to myself as well.