Aria refused to let me go until we were standing in front of the police station. She looked way too nervous to walk into the building and just start blurting everything out. But there was determination in her eyes as she looked at me.
“We don’t have a choice,” she said. “If we went into his house--”
“I don’t want to think about that,” I said. “I just want to get this asshole arrested. He kidnapped our friend!” I shouted at her, narrowing my eyes.
Aria stared at me as the door to the precinct opened and a man stepped out. He looked about thirty-five, thin, green eyes harsh. He spoke as he ran a hand through his dirty-blonde hair.
“Is there a problem?” he asked, frowning.
“We just need to speak to someone,” I said, glancing up at him. I gripped Aria’s hand and went to walk into the building when the man stopped me.
“You can talk to me.” He was holding his badge.
“You don’t look like a cop,” I said, glancing suspiciously at him.
“I assure you, son, I am.” He nodded at me, and then looked at Aria. “I’m off duty but I’ll be happy to get someone for you to talk to. Your friend looks a little upset. Is she okay?”
“I’m okay,” Aria said to her shoes. She wouldn’t look at him. “We just need to talk to someone. It’s important.”
“Come this way,” the man said.
He led us into the station and I kept a hold of Aria’s hand. We walked with him into the lobby and he stopped in front of a large desk with a short man sitting behind it.
“I need someone to take a statement from these kids.”
The other man looked up. He had a good-natured face. Before he could open his mouth to ask us our names, Aria’s phone went off. She excused herself to answer it. When she was finished, she came back, her eyes wide.
“What is it?” I said.
“That was Mrs. Stewart,” she told me.
“Hang on,” the man behind the desk said. “Did you say Mrs. Stewart?”
“Yes,” Aria answered. “Do you know her?”
“A woman named Stewart called here looking for her daughter.”
He read off the description she gave and I felt my stomach twisted unpleasantly. I told him that was who we were looking for and he asked how we knew she was gone.
“Her mother seemed a little off when she called,” he told us. “I thought maybe she had been drinking.”
“She might have been,” I said, “but she wasn’t wrong. Our friend was kidnapped.”
“Kidnapped?” The officer we met outside said. “Did you see this happen?”
I shook my head and explained what had been going on between Mr. Mills and Tate. When I was finished, ending with the trip to his house, the officer nodded and moved aside.
“I think we should talk,” he said, glancing at us.
“You’re off duty, Detective Harding,” the desk man muttered.
“Not anymore. If I get any calls, take a message. This way, please.”
We followed him down a hallway and into one of the interrogation rooms. I had seen this on TV, but they looked more intimidating in person. He sat us down and left the room momentarily. While he was gone, I looked at Aria.
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her that Tate would be home soon.”
“So you lied,” I mumbled, raising an eyebrow.
“Pretty much,” she said.
“Alright,” Harding said as he came back in holding a notepad. He sat across from us. “I need both of you to write down everything that happened between your friend and this man. First, though, what are your names and phone numbers? If we need to reach you for any reason, we need them.”
When we were finished writing down everything he requested I ran a hand through my hair and asked, “What if he’s killed her too?”
“Do you have any reason to think he would do that?”
“I believe he killed another student,” Aria said. “But that’s just a feeling.”
“So you have no proof of anything?” Harding asked, leaning back in his chair. “It’s all just speculation.”
“He’s a teacher,” I said, feeling ready to reach across the table and scream in his face. “Doesn’t that count as a reason to bring him in?”
“Did they have sex? Harding asked.
“No,” I said. “I mean I don’t think so.”
“Look,” the Detective said, “what you’ve written here is good but we can’t--”
“Can you just go to the house?” Aria asked. “Please. If you don’t it could be too late.”
“You really think he hurt your friend, don’t you?” Harding’s voice was soft.
“She wouldn’t have gone with him willingly,” I told him. I stared at the notepad in front of me as I spoke. “She was going to end it when she fell ill and we brought her to the nurse’s office, like I wrote down here.”
Harding stood, and with one nod, we were back out the door and in the main entrance. He gave the desk clerk one look and said, “I have something to take care of, Charlie. Make sure you don’t get accosted while I’m gone.”
A grunt was the only reply.
We didn’t waste any time getting to the house. But one thing we noticed when we arrived was an absence of something. I turned to Aria, panting from having run so far, hands on my knees, and knew that she was thinking the same thing I was.
The car’s gone.
Harding went around me and up to the house. I watched him climb the steps to the door and look inside. He came back with a look on his face that I didn’t like at all. Before I could ask what I wanted, Aria’s phone rang again, signaling a text. I moved to her side and we both read the message.
NEW MESSAGE: UNKNOWN NUMBER
She didn’t listen and now she’s dead. I’ll bury your little friend and you’ll never find her body. I hope the police enjoy playing hide and seek. But don’t worry, you’ll see her again, because I’m coming after you next.