“Let her come with us,” Linda replied after deliberating. “That way, if we split up to find him we can search three different places at the same time, since there would then be three of us.” With her customary smile, she addressed Lenna. “You say you know most of the places around here. We have guessed that Rich may be hiding in one of the lesser known student bars of clubs. Would you be able to take us to those?”

          “I’m not sure,” she replied uncertainly. “I’m underage, you know; it would be hard enough for me to sneak in with a group, though I’ve done it before and I didn’t get caught. But I could take you there anyway and you could look.” Feeling awkward because she was standing while the other two relaxed on a leather sofa, Lenna perched on one of the small chair nearby, fiddling with her watch.

          “Thank you,” said Davide seriously. “Before you ask, the young man we are looking for…he’s not a criminal, and I wouldn’t say he’s dangerous, though his anger’s pretty fierce when it’s let out. But we needed to talk to him and he ran off before we had the chance, which is why we are looking for him. In helping us, you are not putting yourself in danger, so please don’t worry about that!” She realised that he had noticed her nervous fiddling.

          “It’s not that.” She endeavoured to explain, tripping over the words. “It’s more to do with my parents. If they…if they find out what I’m doing, I mean, they know I’ve been to clubs and stuff before, but only with friends. And I daresay they’d think that if this guy—this Rich—doesn’t want to be found, then I shouldn’t help you find him, not if he’s done nothing wrong.”
          “Most parents would be the opposite,” remarked Linda. “My own parents had me headhunted by the police when I ran away from home, even though I was seventeen and they had pretty much chucked me out. And I can tell you one thing—I didn’t want to be found.” Lenna looked at with great interest, perhaps hoping for more details, but Linda was lost in memories.

          She couldn’t help shaking her head as she recalled how they had not given up, how she had constantly been on the move with a variety of companions to try and keep out of the way of the police, how after six months they had called off the chase because she returned to their home, several stone lighter with matted, dirty hair and a strong fear of enclosed spaces, a hyper-alert version of claustrophobia. It had taken long enough for them to recover as a family from that particular incident, and then she was off again, disobeying her parents’ express wishes in order to join the Seekers.

The End

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