Sheryl and Samantha got out of the bus. As soon as the two stepped off the bus, Sheryl saw posters of Annabell.
Or at least, what looked like Annabell. Some of the posters were of Annabell, however, there were also some that were of another cat. The name of this other missing cat was Shirley, and the address was one that was in the same neighbourhood that they were in. As far as Sheryl could tell though, the two cats were nearly identical. The only difference was that Annabell was wearing a bell.
“I guess someone else is missing their cat too.”
“Yeah, these posters were up a couple of days before Annabell went missing too.” Samantha paused for a moment, then, an idea popped into her head and she gasped. “Maybe she was also kidnapped by the same person that kidnapped Annabell!”
“Maybe...” Sheryl replied as she stared at the poster of Shirley, noting down the address, phone number, and other details on her notepad.
The two girls headed to Samantha's house. They walked up the front porch and Samantha pulled out her key. As soon as they entered the house, a woman's voice came rushing down the hall. “Samantha! Samantha, is that you?”
A woman ran down the hallway. As soon as she reached Samantha, she gave her an intense hug of relief. “Don't run off like that again! I was so scared!”
“I- I'm sorry, mom.” Samantha said, her voice full of guilt.
“Samantha! You're alright!” A man walked down the hallway where the woman came from, carrying a squirming cat in his arms. “Look who we found.”
“Annabell!” Samantha yelled out her friend's name and her eyes gleamed.
The cat squirmed out of the man's arms and ran away. Seeing this, Samantha chased the cat down the hallway and into the living room. “Wait, Annabell! It's me!”
“You must be Sheryl Holmes.” The man extended his hand. “I am Nick, and this is my wife, Jean. Thank you for looking after our girl.”
Sheryl shook Nick's hand.
Jean then grabbed Sheryl's hand and held it gratefully. “Yes, thank you very much for bringing her back, we were so worried.”
“Oh, it's no problem, I'm just glad that Samantha got Annabell back.”
Jean gestured towards the living room. “Please, come inside and have some tea with us.”
Sheryl agreed and the three headed into the living room, where Samantha was holding a collar with a bell attached to it. The cat, on the other hand, was hissing at her in the corner.
“C'mon Annabell, it's me, Samantha!” The little girl pleaded with the cat, with tears welling up in her eyes.
Jean walked over to Samantha, “Oh honey, don't cry. Annabell must just still be in shock from getting lost. She was squirmy too when your dad and I found her.”
Sheryl thought for a moment, “Is your cat usually squirmy?”
“No!” said Samantha, “Annabell usually isn't like this!”
“Hmm,” Sheryl looked at the cat. “Does Annabell have any distinctive features?”
“What do you mean?” ask Jean.
“Like something to tell her apart from the other cats of the same breed.”
“Well, she does have a scar on her left side, but you can't see it under the fur though.”
“Could you make sure that she still has the scar?”
“Well, of course she does.” Jean walked over to the cat and grabbed her. The cat tried to squirm away, but Jean held on as she checked for Annabell's scar.
Jean parted the fur and tried to locate the scar, but after a few minutes, she realized, “There... isn't a scar. This isn't Annabell....”
“What?!” cried Samantha, “Where's Annabell then?”
Samantha's face fell, and she started sobbing.
Sheryl knelt down so that she and Samantha were at eye level, and she wiped Samantha's tears with her hands. “Don't worry, Samantha, I think I know where your cat is.”
Samantha opened her eyes, “You do?”
“Yes, just let me make a phone call.”
Sheryl got back up and Jean went over to comfort Samantha. Taking her phone out, Sheryl dialled the number that she saw on Shirley's missing poster.
The phone rang a few times before a woman picked up. “Hello?”
“Hi, this is Sheryl Holmes, are you Shirley's owner?”
“Yes, yes I am.”
“Well, I think we have your cat.”
“That's not possible, I have Shirley right here.”
“Has she been acting differently since you brought her back?”
The woman paused for a bit before replying, “Well, she has been acting uncomfortable.”
“Where did you find your cat?”
“She was on someone's lawn in my neighbourhood.”
It was obvious, now, that Shirley's owner must have been the one that Samantha saw take Annabell away. Without her bell on, Annabell looked just like Shirley, leading Shirley's owner to think that Annabell was Shirley.
Sheryl explained the situation, and the woman on the other end of the phone confirmed that there was indeed a scar on the cat that she had.
The two cats were each returned to their proper owners, and a few hours later, Sheryl finished the cup of tea that Jean had made while Samantha played happily with Annabell, who now had her bell back on.
Sheryl got up to leave, “Well, thank you for the tea. I should get going now.”
At the door, Nick and Jean thanked Sheryl again, and Samantha held out the twelve dollars she had offered earlier, “It's for you, Ms. Sheryl!”
“Oh, don't worry about it, this one's on me.”
Samantha shook her head, and with a huge smile on her face, she said, “It's to help you become a great detective!”
Sheryl looked at Samantha's earnest face and smiled. “Okay then, thanks.”
She patted the little girl's head and received her payment. Then, she placed a piece of candy in Samantha's hand and walked out the door, waving goodbye.