Several days had passed since Rayne’s last vision and Trip hadn’t made much headway on the clues they’d already uncovered. The investigation had begun to stall again. Rick and Jenna sat in the conference room at the Fairfax County Police Station with files and paper coffee cups strewn all over the table. Troy had been called back to D.C., while Mike and Denise took twelve-hour shifts guarding the Wells family. Rayne and Trip huddled at the end of the table, searching through pictures of Ford sedans on the internet. They’d already ruled out the Aspire and Fiesta. They were simply too small. The Taurus and Crown Victorian were too bulky. They finally settled on either a Focus or Fusion, but since white cars were popular, Trip wasn’t sure there was much to work with on the car, except for the window tinting.
“It’s not a popular choice these days,” Trip informed Rayne. “Most people just go with the low tint from manufacturers and in Virginia, you can’t go above 50%. If the window was as dark as you recall, it was a custom job.”
“That could be another tie-in with a car mechanic,” Jenna interjected.
Rick tapped a pen on the table. “What if this guy is a jack-of-all-trades?”
Trip cocked his head and bit the corner of his mouth. “Then we might never figure out who he is.”
Jenna grew impatient. This case had taken so many turns over the past eight months or so that she felt useless. Would it take this unsub kidnapping another girl for them to get new leads? She closed the file she’d been looking through and tossed it across the table. “What about the high school, Trip? Have you finished vetting white males from the eighties until 2000?”
“Not even close. There were thousands of males fitting his description that attended the high school during those fifteen to twenty years. I am still working through the mid-nineties.”
“Maybe he didn’t even go there. He could have bought that hoodie in a department store or the Salvation Army,” Rick tossed out.
Jenna stood up and walked to one of the white boards. She picked up a marker and began talking aloud and writing details on the board. “We know that in the last two years, ten girls have gone missing in Fairfax and surrounding counties. None of them have surfaced. We don’t even know if this same man has taken them all. We know this unsub currently has two, Sally and Gina, and that he made plans to kidnap Nisha as well.” She wrote Sally and Gina’s names on the board and put a separate question mark within a circle beside their names. “The question now is… will he go through with kidnapping a third girl or has his plans changed?”
Rayne sat and listened as Jenna sorted through everything they’d learned so far – the basement, the cattle prod, the cages and muzzles, the white sedan, work shirt and logo, the diesel van, and the hoodie. After a while, Rayne tuned her out. She hadn’t been much use the past few days, but each day she came into the field office with Rick and Jenna and listened to them drone on and on about the case. Unconsciously, her hand moved up to the pendant around her neck. She ran a finger along the cool metallic stone. Suddenly it hit her. What if the reason she hadn’t had any visions was because of the pendant? It hadn’t occurred to her because she did have the one vision while wearing it, but what if…? She slid her hands around her neck, unclasped the necklace and placed it on the table. She held her breath for a few moments while she waited. She exhaled, inhaled, and then exhaled again. Nothing. Rayne sighed. She hadn’t really expected anything to happen that soon, but it had been worth a shot. Her mind drifted back into the ensuing conversation between Jenna, Rick, and Trip.
“Any luck tracking down welding sites or garages with that partial logo?” Jenna asked Trip as she continued scribbling on the white board.
“I had a couple hits on garages, but they had no mechanics who fit our unsub’s description. I am still running a search on construction companies and welding shops. I had a few hits on companies with dark-colored vans, but they were for….” Trip stopped and looked up at Jenna with wide eyes.
Jenna stared back. “What?”
Trip typed away on his keyboard. “I dismissed this place because I was searching for garages and construction companies, but this…,” he paused again and then flipped his laptop around. “A & D Kennels. They were a puppy rescue center.”
Rick’s eyes sparkled. “Cages and muzzles.”
Jenna ignored Rick because something caught her attention. “What do you mean by ‘were’?”
“They went out of business about a year ago, but I have the owner’s address.” He clicked a few more keys and then grinned up at Jenna. “It’s on your iPad.”
Jenna walked over to Trip and kissed him on the forehead. “You’re brilliant.”
Trip blushed. “Only if it leads to something.”
Jenna picked up her briefcase and iPad. “If it doesn’t, we’ll figure something else out. We always do.” She looked over at Rayne. “You coming?”
Rayne glanced from Jenna to Rick. He slung on his suit jacket, grabbed his briefcase and waited by the door. Rayne hunched her shoulders and wrung her hands. “What if he is the one?”
Rick patted his hip where he carried his Glock. “Got you covered.”
Jenna placed a hand on Rayne’s shoulder. “We won’t let anything happen to you. You’ll remain in the car while we check the guy out and if he isn’t our unsub, we’ll give you the all-clear.”
Rayne nodded. She slid her necklace into the pocket of her jeans and followed Jenna and Rick out of the station.
# # #
Paul D’Arca, the owner of the kennel, lived on the outskirts of Fairfax. When they pulled up at his trailer, Rick was confident that he would not be their unsub. Still, he and Jenna followed protocol and went up to the door. Rick knocked and waited. Jenna peeked through the front window and then walked around to the side of the trailer. Rick knocked a second time, but there was still no answer. He joined Jenna at the side of the trailer and then they both went around to the back. An elderly man sat in a lounge chair, tossing pieces of bread into the middle of the yard.
“Mr. D’Arca?” Rick inquired as he and Jenna approached the man.
The man slowly turned around in his seat and stretched his neck out. “Who wants to know?”
Jenna pulled out her badge. “I am SA Styles and this is SA Harris from the FBI. We’d like to ask you some questions.”
The man stood up and peered down at Jenna’s badge. “The FBI, eh? What could an old man possibly help the two of you with?”
Rick smiled at the man. “We have some questions about your kennel and someone who may have worked for you.”
“Let’s go inside,” the man said as he picked up his cane. “It’s getting chilly out here.”
Rick and Jenna followed the old man to his back stairs and into his trailer. They were met by three Pekingese who danced around Mr. D’Arca’s legs all the way into the living room. He picked up a can from a table beside a Lazy Boy, opened it and tossed a few treats to the three dogs.
“Please, sit down,” he said as he cleared some newspapers off the couch.
“Do you mind if we invite a colleague of ours to join us?” Rick asked.
“What the hell. The more the merrier, I suppose.”
While Rick went outside to get Rayne, Jenna sat down on the couch. Mr. D’Arca settled into his Lazy Boy and was immediately covered by his three dogs.
“The last of my rescues,” he said as he stroked the dogs’ fur. “Saved from a fire. See, Mitzi still has some bald spots where her fur was burnt down to the skin.” He turned the dog around for Jenna to see.
“Ah, yes, I see. Poor thing. They are lovely dogs.” Jenna didn’t care much for small talk or small dogs. Too yappy, but these three seemed well-trained. She tapped her fingers on her knee as she waited.
Rick returned with a reluctant Rayne. As she entered the door, the three dogs jumped down and greeted her, running circles around her legs. She let out a laugh and bent down to pet them.
“You must be a good soul,” Mr. D’Arca said. “They only greet me that way. Come, sit down, young lady.” He pointed to a chair beside his recliner.
“This is Rayne Fallon, Mr. D’Arca,” Rick informed him.
Rayne smiled and nodded at the older man, and then sat down to his right. The man flashed her a toothless grin as two of the Pekingese jumped into his lap and the other one climbed into Rayne’s. Rick joined Jenna on the couch. He hadn’t seen Rayne that happy since he’d met her.
“Now that we are all settled,” the man began, “what questions can I answer for you?”
Jenna opened her iPad and took her stylus in-hand. “We are investing the disappearance of two girls. We have evidence that suggests that someone wearing a uniform from your kennel may have kidnapped them.”
The man scratched his balding head. “I don’t think that’s possible, Agent Styles. Besides myself, only my son and his wife worked at the kennel. I donated our uniforms to an outreach church when I closed down a year ago.”
“Where is your son now?”
“He and the misses moved to Georgia… that would be about six months ago.”
“What about your equipment?” Rick asked.
The man wrinkled his brow and stared off into space for a moment. “Ah yes. Donny, my son, he sold most of the stuff to some guy. I don’t recall who he was. He paid cash.”
Jenna jotted down the information and prodded further. “What was sold to him?”
“Cages, food bowls, that kind of thing.”
“Muzzles?” Rick asked.
“Yes, there were some muzzles. We didn’t always rescue the nicest of dogs.”
“What about your van?” Rick inquired.
The man raised a brow. “I don’t know about that. Donny used it before he moved. I think he may have junked it before he left Virginia though. It was a piece of shit.”
Rayne decided to ask him about the man’s appearance, since neither Jenna nor Rick had yet. “Mr. D’Arca…”
“Please call me Paul, young lady,” he interrupted.
Rayne smiled. “Paul, do you remember what the man who bought the items looked like?”
“Shady fella. Slicked-back black hair, beady grey eyes, and those hands. I’d never seen anyone with so many burn scars. Well, except for poor Mitzi here. I didn’t want Donny dealing with him, but we needed the cash.”
“Mr. D’Arca, do you think you could describe this man to a sketch artist?” Jenna asked.
“My memory may not be the best these days, but I can’t forget that man. Sure, I will try.”
Jenna smiled. This might be the break they needed. “Great. I’ll have one come by later today to work with you. I think we have all we need. No sense taking up more of your time.”
The old man nodded his head.
As Rick and Jenna stood up and went toward the door, Rick turned back to the man. “Can you contact your son and find who he sold that stuff to and where he junked the van?”
“Sure. I’ll call him this evening when he gets home from work.”
Rayne picked the dog up from her lap and stood up, handing the dog over to Mr. D’Arca. “Thank you,” she whispered.
The man winked at her. “Always a pleasure to meet such a lovely young girl.”
Rick, Jenna, and Rayne left the trailer and climbed into the car. Rayne let out a long breath as Rick pulled away from the driveway. For the first time in over a week, she felt they’d made some progress, and she could breathe again.
Seeing You (a working title) is the story of Rayne Fallon, a witch with the power to see into the past and future, although not always accurately. She gets tangled up with FBI’s SA Rick Harris and SA Jenna Styles as they search for an 8 year old missing girl, thought to have been kidnapped by a Serial Killer.
Seeing You ©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted to distribute or copy this serial (unless reblogging). Thank you.
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I am participating in NaNoWriMo. Each day I will try to write at least 1667 words for a total of 50,000 by the end of November. Today’s total: 2043 words. Total words so far: 28,949