He held his breath, afraid to move, his body trembled beneath the blankets on his bed. Pursing his lips, he sucked in small amounts of air. Working desperately to appear invisible, he flattened his body into the mattress. He could hear soft sounds of deep, heavy breathing. He lifted his blanket ever so slightly and watched as the large figure moved through the opened slit in his bedroom door. The earlier threat loomed large in his mind.
He pulled the blanket over his shuddering body as he heard the door close. How could he escape? He wished. He should have taken the threat seriously. He should have prepared more. He should have not eaten such a large dinner. His stomach rumbled, bile accumulating deep in his abdomen. Fear seemed to supplant all sense of reason. He wanted to scream.
Footsteps. Moving closer. His cold fingers wrapped themselves around the handle of the knife. He kept his eyes closed, listening, ready to move. The footsteps seemed to be right beside him now. He could hear the man’s breathing. He could also hear his own heart beat. It sounded loud…thundering.
“Hey, girlfriend.” A deep, menacing voice whispered. It was as if the voice was on top of him. “Wake up. Your daddy’s here.” He felt the intruder move the blanket covering him to one side. He felt the weight of the man’s massive frame as the trespasser lowered himself to the bed. He scooted toward the wall. Fast. The blade in his fist was pointed up. The man grunted as he fell on the blade. “Wh-what y-you g-gone and d-done, huh?”
He rolled over the man. His bare feet landed on the cold linoleum. His hand was empty. He had to get the knife. They’d trace it. But then, it was his room after all. Still they would know what’d happened. He couldn’t let the others know. He had to make sure. Move the body.
His heart beats seemed to trip over themselves. He had never been so scared in his short life. Not even when that panther had come out of the jungle right in front of him. He needed this job. This man was not going to spoil everything.
He made his way slowly back to the bed. His foot slipped in the sticky…thick….ooze that covered the floor now. Low moans erupted in front of him. The man wasn’t dead. Not yet. He reached toward the sound, rolled the heavy weight to one side. There, the knife was sticking into the man’s soft belly. He grabbed it, pulled it toward his body and then struck again. And again. Until the moaning stopped.
The sheets were wet to the touch. He grabbed one corner and yanked, dumping the man onto the floor. He paused. Listening. All was quiet. He began to drag the weight toward the door. He opened it a crack. Nobody in sight. He dragged the burden, using his sheets, out the door, around the corner, toward the crew’s cafeteria. Maybe the freezer.
He hurried as fast as the bulky weight would allow. Someone might see him. Not all shifts were finished for the night. Not far now. He headed toward the large walk-in freezer located down the hall just behind the grill. His mind traveled to the last time he’d prepared food there. He shook his head. Had to concentrate. He could hide the body toward the back of the freezer. Maybe no one would notice. Later he’d throw the body overboard.
He placed blood stained hands on the large latch. The freezer door swung open releasing a wave of cold air on his sweat covered body. The light from inside illuminated his bundle and his clothing. Blood splatters covered his shirt and pants while a trail of the red ooze led straight to this hiding place. The exertion was taking its toll. Quickly now. He’d hide the body and clean up.
He moved some crates, slipped the body behind, and moved them back. He grabbed a cloth and began wiping. The blood wouldn’t come off the cold freezer floor. It was ice already. He slipped outside and ran hot water into a large utility sink. As hot as he could stand, he wrung the cloth out and hurried to the freezer. He wiped and some of the blood trace was eliminated. But there was more.
Maybe no one would notice. Could be from the meat shipment they’d just received. He closed the door, wiped the handle and then quickly, wiped the floor all the way to his room. Sheets. He’d need clean sheets. He threw the mattress against the wall. He carefully lay the bloody sheets and his clothing down on the frame of his bed. He grabbed the under edge of the mattress, and pulled. It flopped, blood-soaked side down, on top of his discarded bedding.
He took the cloth back to the kitchen area, and rinsed it. The drain flowed red and then pinkish as the cloth released its contents. He remembered when his parents had killed a hog…years ago…when he was just a boy. It looked the same. He laid the cloth to dry across the cutting board.
Scampering on tip toes, he retrieved some clean sheets from the laundry stacked, ready to put into shelves, near the bedroom area. He’d need to shower again. As he approached his bedroom door, he heard voices. The late shift was coming to bed. He’d have to wait till they slept before cleaning the blood off. He slowly, quietly closed his door. He’d wait.
Andrea looked out the window. Large clouds, fluffy and pure white like enormous pillows, rolled across the clear dark blue sky as far as the eye could see. The clouds looked like a monstrous bed, waiting for someone to jump on it. Could angels walk on clouds? The thought rose unbidden, as if seeping through the brain matter in her head. She contemplated a Holy God and His creation. She chuckled. I think angels can do anything they want.
“What’s so funny?” Brian Strait opened one eye and peered at his traveling companion. He sighed, sleep racing away as fast as it had descended on him in the first place.
Andrea turned from her view out the window. She had a grin plastered on her face. “I just thought that there are probably angels out there, just enjoying the color, and the soft cushy clouds. I know if I was one of them, I’d be out there.” She pointed toward the window. “Everything seems so much more brilliant up here. Don’t you think?”
Brian smiled. “I’ve always liked the view from 30,000 feet. Clear skies as far as the eye can see. No space junk either.” He watched the word picture he’d just created flit across Andrea’s mind. Her brow wrinkled. He laughed. “No worries. We’ll be in Santo Domingo in a few minutes.”
Andrea scowled. “I was enjoying the view. Now all I can think about is hitting something. Thanks a lot.” She punched his shoulder and then leaned her head back to enjoy the rest of the flight. “Brian, do you think they’ve found Troy by now? I mean you talked to Father Bertrand two days ago. Maybe…”
Brian closed his eyes again but then opened them and looked into Andrea’s eyes. “Andrea, I hope they have but…with all that’s going on so close to them, it might be a while before the authorities can be called in and …I guess Troy could have returned on his own. Once he found out that Haiti is so devastated. Anyhow, whatever we find when we land, we can always have a great visit with Camilla.” He reached across the armrest and patted her hand.
“I can’t wait to see her. It feels as if it’s been years instead of only months since we were here last. I’ll bet she’s grown…”
“Ladies and gentlemen.” The disembodied voice spoke over the PA system just as the ‘fasten your seat belt’ sign came on. “We’ll be landing in Santo Domingo in 15 minutes. The temperature is 85 degrees and the winds are north northwest at 10 miles per hour. Skies are clear.”
The large plane began to descend steadily through the clouds, Andrea noticed as she looked out the window again. “Brian, what time is it? It doesn’t feel as if we’ve been in the air very long.”
“Santo Domingo is only a little over 800 miles from Key West. This is a jet so it moves pretty fast. Oh, by the way, it’s five o’clock in Santo Domingo so although we’ve only been in the air less than two hours, we also lost an hour.” Brian grabbed one side of his seat belt and fastened it to the other while he talked. Andrea did the same.
“I called Father Bertrand just before we left home to let him know when we’d be arriving. He said he’d meet us.” Andrea leaned back again and watched a small island in the azure Caribbean appear on the right side of the plane as it banked toward the landing strip at the airport. “That must be the Dominican Republic. Sure doesn’t look very big from up here.”
The blue water glistened in the sunlight as the plane leveled for the approach to the runway. Andrea could see palm trees wave their greeting in the slight breeze and knew that without that breeze, the humidity and the heat from the sun would be a little uncomfortable. But she also knew there were always island breezes. At least that’s what Camilla told her.
She smiled toward Brian and then looked out the window again. The last time they’d flown to this part of the world, they’d come to find their best friends. She looked toward Brian again. “I’d hoped when we came for a visit that we could spend all our time with Camilla. Now…”
“I know. When Father Bertrand told us about Troy…I was disappointed too. But maybe we’re getting to see Camilla…even for a short time…sooner than we would have if Troy had not gone missing.”
Andrea tried not to pout. “Maybe…I am worried about Troy. I hope we find him in one piece.”
“We could always return to the orphanage for a few days after we find Troy…if we find him. We’ll play it by ear, okay.” Brian braced his hands on the armrest for the slight bump as the plane landed. As soon as it began to taxi, he reached for his seat belt.
“You’re not supposed to undo that seat belt until we stop.” Andrea whispered in case someone nearby was listening. “Besides, it won’t get us off the plane any sooner so you might as well relax.” She chuckled but her heart was skipping along with the speed down the runway in anticipation of their first glimpse of Camilla. I’ve missed her. I guess Brian has too.
Father Bertrand, robes fluttering around his legs, paced back and forth. His small charge had her face glued to the window in the terminal, watching every plane land and passengers disembark. He stopped, his worry placed in the background, as he saw the disappointment reflected on Camilla’s face when she did not see her friends. “Not that one, ma chere. Their plane should be landing next though. It is time.”
Camilla clapped her hands in excitement. “Oh oui Papa Bertrand. I can ‘ardly wait, non?”
The man stooped to her level. “This is sure an exciting day for you but remember, we need them to find Troy so maybe…”
“There they are. There they are.” She jumped up and down, her exhilaration getting the best of her. She turned from the window as soon as she saw Brian and Andrea reach the bottom of the stairs and begin to walk toward the terminal. Camilla raced ahead of Father Bertrand toward the door. He sighed and hurried after her.
Andrea struggled with her carry-on. She slipped her purse to her shoulder and shifted the weight of the other bag as she reached for the glass door. Brian grabbed the handle first and bowed as he held the door open for her and then for a few other passengers after her.
Andrea stepped into the cool building. Just as her eyes began to adjust to the lighting, a small colorfully clad figure barreled into her. “Miss Andrea. You’re ‘ere. You’re ‘ere.” Camilla wrapped her arms around Andrea’s torso.
“Whoa, hold on. Let me look at you.” Andrea dropped her bag, bent down and spoke, her tone serious. “Who are you, miss? Do I know you?”
“Me?” The little girl pointed to her chest. “I’m Camilla. Remember Camilla.” Her eyes looked downcast, disappointment evident in her pint sized body language.
Brian walked toward them and snickered at the exchange of words. “Really? The Camilla we know, is a small, little, wee girl who hardly speaks any English. You are so much bigger and older too.” His face took on the serious appearance that Andrea’s had.
“Oh but you can’t…” Camilla’s face broke out in a glow like a Midwestern fire fly. “Oh, you are fooling with me, non?” She reached for Brian and wrapped her arms around his legs. “I saw you land. I saw you…”
“Come here you.” Andrea squatted and opened her arms wide. Camilla launched herself in Andrea’s direction. “I have missed you so much.” Andrea wrapped Camilla in the folds of her arms feeling as if that was exactly where that little girl belonged. She looked over Camilla’s shoulder, her eyes glistening with unshed tears.
Brian swiped a few tears from his own eyes. He patted Andrea’s shoulder. “Let’s go get our bags. Camilla, do you want to hold our baggage claim tickets. Don’t drop them.” He looked toward Father Bertrand and extended his hand in greeting. “Hello Father. Any news?”
“Bonjour mes amis. Let’s get you settled before we talk. Camilla has been waiting, not so patiently I think.” He matched his pace to that of Andrea and Brian as they made their way toward the luggage carousel. “You ‘ad a good flight, non?”
“Yes we did.” Andrea piped up. “There were so many people waiting for the commercial airlines to land with their relatives or friends returning form Haiti. What do you hear from Port Au Prince?”
“It’s a disaster there. So many people missing yet, and so many dead. Our orphanage is thinking that we could go there to distribute water. Do something. Those poor people.” Father Bertrand hung his head. “Maybe when…it will take a long time for them to recover.”
Brian tugged one bag from the conveyer and dropped it at their feet. “Is there any way to communicate with anyone in Port Au Prince?”
“Non. They were the worst hit. That city might as well be on another planet. I have friends there but…” The priest shook his head and then reached to pick up the bag at Andrea’s feet just as Brian snagged another one from the conveyer belt. “O-o-o you people do not travel light,” he grunted.
“Father, let us carry our own bags. You keep track of Camilla.” Brian chuckled as he took the two larger bags leaving Andrea’s hands free for the carry-on luggage. The adults led the way toward the airport entrance.
“I have the station wagon nearby. You two can wait here so you don’t have to carry those heavy bags so far, non?” Father Bertrand reached for Camilla’s hand as Brian nodded in agreement. “Come on child. Let’s go get the car.”
Andrea and Brian watched as Camilla skipped along beside the priest. It was obvious that she’d grown quite comfortable with her surroundings and felt at home with Father Bertrand. “That child has changed a lot. She seems to have more confidence, don’t you think?” Andrea posed the question as she watched the figures cross the street and head toward a parking lot.
“Yes, she does. Man, I never thought I’d ever feel about a kid the way I feel about that one. She’s a heart breaker, that’s for sure. I wonder…”
Andrea’s eyes clouded with moisture. “It was hard leaving her last time. I don’t think I can leave her again. Maybe we could…”
“Adopt.” They spoke in unison. Brian laughed first but Andrea’s giggle caught up to him. “Preposterous. We’re not a married couple and here we are…”
“Yet.” Brian glanced toward the woman at his side. “We’re not married yet. But one day…”
“Brian, I don’t want Camilla to think of us as a couple. Not yet. I mean…what if she thinks we could adopt her and then we find out that the country won’t let us. We haven’t even looked into that so we have no idea. And as for you and me…well I’m still not sure what God has…”
“I’m sure enough for both of us. I love you Andrea and you feel the same about me. You said so. But I promised to wait and I will. It’s just that…” He noticed Father Bertrand maneuver his car alongside the curb. “We’ll finish this conversation later.”
The priest put the vehicle in park and got out to help his guests deposit their bags in the back. Camilla was sitting in the back seat. “Sit with me. Sit with me, Andrea.” She pulled on the handle of the back door, letting it swing wide to allow Andrea to sit beside her. The child was almost beside herself as Andrea smiled, took her seat and grabbed her for another hug.
Andrea’s eyes glistened again. Brian watched her for a second or two before taking his seat beside Father Bertrand. “Camilla’s going to think that you cry all the time.” He chuckled as Andrea reached forward to punch him on the arm.
Andrea looked toward Camilla, whose face glowed with the healthy color of the Caribbean. “It’s just so great being able to talk to you face to face once again, sweetheart. Phone calls are alright but there’s nothing like being able to hug you too.”
Camilla giggled. “Father Bertrand says that tears, because we are ‘appy, is okay, non? I, too, am ‘appy but my eyes don’t want to leak all de time…like yours.”
The priest put the car in gear and pulled into traffic before he spoke again. “All the children are excited to see you both again. They know that you’ve been responsible for sending all those packages to us and for getting so many churches in the US to support us. It’s made a big difference in all our lives.”
Brian glanced with pride toward Andrea before he responded. “That was all Andrea’s doing. She spent a lot of time telling people about you and the work you do. They just wanted to help.” Brian looked over his shoulder again and chuckled as he saw the pink hue on Andrea’s face.
“I did so little. The churches I spoke to were already looking for a place to follow Jesus and your orphanage just fit in with what the Lord had already laid on their hearts to do. They have been so blessed by all the letters from your children. They wanted me to tell the kids that and how they pray for them as they pack the barrels of clothing and stuff.” Andrea hugged Camilla again.
“Well the children have prepared a little something for the two of you. It’s small but they worked hard. I’m not sure what it is but…”
“A play. A play.” Camilla clapped her hand over her mouth.” Oh no. It was supposed to be surprise.”
“A surprise, Camilla.” Father Bertrand corrected the child’s English.
Camilla giggled. “Oui mon père. A surprise. Don’t tell anyone.” She placed a finger over her lips. The adults howled with laughter. Camilla grinned, not quite sure why they were laughing but enjoying the sound anyway.
The trek to the orphanage took the visitors past some less prosperous areas of the city with houses in need of repair. The grass was mowed however…what little grass there was…and flower boxes accented the window casings. Andrea pointed toward one particularly well kept yard. “Father, the people here seem to try hard to make their circumstances seem unimportant.”
“Oui. When you live so close to a country where no one has anything, we appreciate what we have and look after it. Dominicans are governed with a sense of pride unlike Haiti where corruption runs rampant. See that place over there, that house belongs to one of the board members for the orphanage. They are hardworking people but not wealthy…just caring.”
“I love all the tropical plants and trees.” Andrea sighed. “I think I was born for this climate.”
Brian harrumphed. “Yeah, until you step out of this air-conditioned car. Remember the humidity? You complained constantly when we were in Haiti.”
“I did not. It was hot but…”
“…and sticky…I think dat is de word you use many times.” Camilla giggled as she gave Brian a high five in agreement.
Andrea grinned. “Oh so that’s how it’s going to be. You two can gang up on me all you want but I still love the tropics.” She folded her arms and pretended to glare in Brian’s direction.
“What’s gang up?” Camilla peered earnestly toward Andrea. She and Brian laughed out loud, clapping their hands towards Camilla. “What’s so funny, eh?” Camilla scowled.
Andrea’s face turned serious. “We aren’t laughing at you again. Brian and I were just saying the other day how much we missed your questions about our expressions. Gang up means…well…it’s like…”
“…join forces. You and I, Camilla, joined forces against Andrea.” Brian’s grin never left his face. “We’ve missed explaining English to you.”
Camilla’s puzzled expression was reflected in the rear view mirror. “What’s joined forces?” All three adults cracked up then. They laughed even harder when they saw the look of consternation on Camilla’s face.
“Never mind.” Brian reached back to pat the child’s hand resting on the back of his seat. “It’s a good thing.” His eyes were leaking now as well as Andrea’s. “Let’s concentrate on the sights. We may not drive this way again.” He turned toward the window.
Andrea reached to envelop Camilla in her arms. The child rested comfortably against her as they passed more palm trees interspersed with a host of flowering shrubs and trees heavily laden with blossoms. Andrea sighed. She looked down at Camilla. Her heart felt as if it had come home.
Brian glanced toward her and Andrea smiled. “This feels so right.” She mouthed the words not wanting Camilla to get the wrong idea. Not yet anyway.
Brian nodded. “We’ll check it out.” Love for the woman and the child was in evidence for anyone to see.
Father Bertrand’s fleeting look and then the subsequent smile spoke volumes. The priest was known for not missing a thing. “You folks think you might…”
“We’ll talk when l.i.t.t.l.e ears are not around.” Brian spoke a little too quickly. “Sorry Father but we don’t want to get hopes up.”
“Ah oui. I understand. Here we are. Home.” He turned the car into the drive that Brian and Andrea remembered from their first visit to this sanctuary for orphaned children. Kids of all sizes ran to greet them.
“Wow, what a reception.” Andrea waved from her perch on the back seat and Camilla placed a proprietary hand on her arm. Her gaze held questions that Andrea was afraid to consider. “Andrea sleeps in my room tonight, right Fadder?”
“Oh oui. That would be good.” He chuckled. “Camilla has already moved her things into your room.”
“But, ma petite. The word is but.” Father Bertrand corrected.
“But if you don’t want me to…I go. But now you say yes, so I stay, non.” The child grinned and then collapsed in laughter at the situation. “You are like mon papa et mama, non?”
Andrea hugged the child tightly and then opened the car door leaving the question unanswered. Her eyes glistened again but pain shone from her lashes this time. She glanced toward Brian and then concentrated on the children surrounding the car. “Hey, everyone. Hello.”
Andrea sighed. All was quiet. At last. She walked through the door leading from her sleeping quarters to the open porch surrounding the building. Father Bertrand was sitting in a rocking chair, blowing smoke rings toward the ceiling. Brian rocked in another chair beside him. Neither spoke. Andrea took the remaining chair.
She leaned her head back. “Those kids can tire a person not used to their energy.”
“They can tire someone who is used to them.” The priest chuckled. “I love this time of day. All is quiet and they are happily in dreamland, non. Then a few minutes later, I find it is too quiet and I long for tomorrow.”
Brian looked toward Andrea and smiled. “Father, before we talk about Troy, what do you know about the adoption laws here in the Dominican Republic?”
“Not a lot. D’ere are not too many people from ‘ere looking for another child. But I could find out, maybe. What are you thinking about, eh?”
“Just an idea, that’s all. Camilla…” He looked toward Andrea. “Just find out what it would take and we’ll do some more talking.”
“I can do dat but you must not say anything to Camilla until dese tings are settled, non? I would not want to get ‘er ‘opes up and den find out dat the government won’t let you take ‘er ‘ome with you. The child seems ‘appy ‘ere now.” The older man brushed some imaginary fuzz from his robe and then stood. He breathed in deeply.
Andrea spoke with a hint of huskiness to her voice. “We wouldn’t hurt Camilla for the world. We will proceed with caution and, besides, this is just fact finding at this point. Right, Brian?”
Brian looked toward the woman seated beside him. “Yeah, right.” His voice held a touch of impatience. “Just thinking out loud, that’s all.”
“Bon. Den I find out and let you know.” The soft ringing of a nearby telephone echoed through the breezy nighttime air. Father Bertrand turned from his perusal of the chickens pecking in the nearby dirt and entered through an adjacent door to a part of the building that housed his private quarters.
Brian and Andrea continued to breathe in the fresh summer air mixed with the floral scents of this tropical paradise. “Brian, are you really thinking that we should adopt Camilla? I mean…I want to but…”
“I saw your face today, Andrea. I also know how wrong it would be if we left her here again. She’s getting great care but it’s not the same as a family. I love her and I know you’re crazy about her too. We love each other so why not?”
“I want to know that God wants this for us, Brian. Not just us. If we start out life together out of God’s will…well…especially with a child already…we need Him, don’t you think?” Andrea sighed. “I’m not sure how to know what God wants but maybe we need to study His word a little more to make sure…before we jump off the deep end.”
“Is that what you think marrying me would be….jumping off the deep end?” Brian looked longingly toward the woman whom he’d felt all along was God’s choice for him.
Andrea’s eyes reflected the love she’d come to feel for Brian but they also held questions. “Don’t you feel kind of like maybe this is all happening too fast. I mean, we’ve only really known each other for a few months and have only been dating for a couple of…”
“….weeks. Yes I know. That’s not my fault. Yes we’ve known each other for a few months but before that we knew each other a little through Trent and Diane. I mean…”
The door opened and a very worried looking priest joined them again on the porch. “That was the FBI. Dey ‘ave Troy in custody aboard a cruise ship that left ‘ere a couple of days ago. Dey tink he murder someone.” Father Bertrand sat down heavily. A tear escaped the corner of his eye. “Troy is like my own son. He would nevair…”
“Of course he wouldn’t.” Andrea placed a hand on the stricken man’s arm. “Where do they have him?”
“In St. Thomas. De man who was murdered comes from ‘ere so dey may bring him ‘ere for trial but…dey haven’t decided. Troy could not kill anyone. De police say…said dat he stow away. I know he want to go to de United States but…” He dropped his head into his hands. His shoulder shook with sobs as if a dam had broken.
Brian walked over to him and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Has the ship left St. Thomas?”
“No, dey are staying over a couple of days to investigate but den…”
Andrea interjected. “Brian we have to go to St. Thomas. Now. Troy needs us. If they take him off that ship and the ship leaves, we’ll never find out the truth.”
“I agree. Father, is there a way we can get to St. Thomas fast?” Brian looked at his watch. “Andrea, pack what you need and prepare to leave. Father, you’ll have to explain to Camilla. We’ll be back but…”
“De plane you came in on should still be at the airport. ‘e was going to visit family while ‘e was ‘ere. I know who dey are. I phone.” The distraught man hurriedly entered his door again.
Brian walked toward the building that housed his sleeping quarters in the boy’s dorm. He kicked a pebble with the toe of his shoe. Life is sure full of surprises. Never dull. Lord, please help us help Troy. He walked through the door and began throwing things back into the bag he’d just unpacked.
The young man scrubbed his hands again. His heart raced frantically. They wouldn’t go away. The stains. That man’s blood. He could feel the blood’s imprint on his skin as if he’d been tattooed. He doused his hands with soap. The stickiness. He rubbed again and again.
He twisted his head to look toward the other men. Could they see? Did they know what he’d done? They appeared not to notice. They continued to wash dishes or sweep the floor. Their job was to clean the galley. His shift would be over soon.
Were they happy that the monster was dead? They smiled in his direction as he scrubbed harder. He looked down. He couldn’t erase the images. Visions of that night kept rolling across his mind’s eye like a slow motion picture. He’d had no choice.
Two men stopped sweeping, their conversation halted as they looked in his direction. Were they talking about him? They were. He knew they were. Did they know what he’d done? He’d have to shut them up. When would it stop? How many others knew he’d murdered that man? He had to keep this job. His family back home depended on him. They would starve if he lost this job.
He forgot to breathe. His heart felt as if it would jump out of his chest. He sucked in a lungful of air. Resignation coursed through his veins. His mind settled on the picture of his beautiful wife sweeping the dirt floor of their hut. His three year old boy played in the yard with his pet chicken. His wife was pregnant again. She would deliver any day now. If I have to kill again I will. For them, he would do whatever it took.
Andrea stepped out onto the porch. How can we leave Camilla? We just got here. Her suitcase lay at her feet. She saw Brian cross the courtyard dragging his suitcase with him. Tears glistened in her eyes.
Brian stepped up on the porch. “What’s wrong, Andrea?”
“I just hate leaving Camilla so soon. I left some of my things in the room so she’d know we plan to come back but…”
“I know. I feel the same way but we knew when we left home that we’d have to follow any lead to find Troy. He’s no longer missing but we owe it to him to help him out of this mess. There is no way that boy murdered anyone.” Brian rubbed his hand up and down Andrea’s arm in an effort to comfort her emerging mother’s heart.
Andrea nodded her head. She swiped at the unshed tears and made an effort to smile as Father Bertrand joined them.
“I spoke with de pilot. He’s waiting for you…at the airport. Or at least he will be by the time you get dere. I drive.” He moved in the direction of the car that he’d driven to pick them up. “It’s a good thing I fill it up before I start out this morning.”
Andrea and Brian followed him. They threw their luggage in the backseat leaving just enough room for Andrea. Brian sat up front. “Father, will you tell Camilla that we’re sorry we had to leave so soon?”
“Camilla know dat you come to find Troy. She understood that you probably have to leave almost as soon as you got ‘ere. She want Troy found too.” The priest looked both ways before easing the car into traffic outside the gate. “Dat child has a soft spot in ‘er heart for the boy.”
“If it weren’t for him, I don’t know where she’d be. Her life in Haiti was over, as far as we could see, with her parents dead.” Andrea sniffed. “I love that child. We owe Troy a lot for bringing her here.”
Brian glanced toward the back seat and then looked at the priest. “Father, we intend to pursue any means necessary to adopt Camilla. Will that be a problem for you?”
Father Bertrand glanced at Brian and then fixed his eyes on the road ahead. “The paperwork may take a while. De fact that she’s Haitian…not Dominican…may be something dat’ll prevent you from succeeding, but I ‘ave no reason to keep her ‘ere. I’ll miss her as will de other children but we all be happy dat she has a permanent home.”
“When we get back, we’ll start the proceedings. At least we’ll investigate what needs to be done before we even mention it to Camilla.” Brian looked again toward Andrea for her confirmation.
Andrea nodded. “We don’t want to get her hopes up and then find out we can’t or that we have to be married to adopt or…”
“That’s something I’m trying to convince Andrea of. Marriage, I mean.” Brian grinned as Andrea slapped his arm playfully.
“I tot I saw sparks. You’ll make a wonderful couple. I tot dat when I first met you bot.” Father Bertrand threw back his head and laughed out loud. “I could do de ceremony ‘ere you know. I’d be honored.”
Andrea’s voice held a note of panic. “Whoa. Hold on there. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I haven’t said ‘yes’ yet. Besides, maybe we won’t have to be married to adopt and that’s not a good reason to get married, anyway, and…”
“There you go. Putting up roadblocks again. Relax, okay. I won’t force you into anything.” Brian turned his body to look out the front window. The smile had left his face.
Andrea sat back and turned to look out the side window. Silence filled the car as each beautiful scene passed by. She saw none of it. She knew she’d hurt her best friend.
It didn’t take long before they were back at the airport. Vehicles of every sort and size jockeyed for a position near the terminal. The building was small by American standards but the traffic was every bit as hectic. Brian noticed three young school girls dressed in uniforms waiting beside a taxi stand with no available taxis. He also saw a young mom trying to keep her active toddler beside her and out of trouble.
Father Bertrand found a spot by the airport entrance. “Sorry, mes amis. But I could not get you beside the right entrance. This will ‘ave to do. The good thing is that you won’t ‘ave to worry about your plane taking off since it is a private charter.”
“This is just fine.” Brian opened his door, glanced toward Andrea as she opened hers, and then stepped into the hustle and bustle of airport life. He reached into the backseat, grabbed the two bags and dropped them on the sidewalk.
Father Bertrand walked around the car to say his farewells. “I ‘ope you have good luck with the authorities. ‘Ere is the name of the agent who is in charge of this investigation.” He handed the slip of paper to Brian. “I told dem that you would be coming but dey didn’t seem too pleased with dat information. Troy could not ‘ave done this thing. Thank you, my friends, for ‘elping us.” He hugged Andrea.
Andrea hugged him back. “Father, there is no way we wouldn’t help. We’ll call you as soon as we know anything.” She stepped back to let Brian say good-bye.
Brian glanced at the note but then stuck it in his pocket. He noticed Andrea’s downcast demeanor but decided that he would ignore it until they’d buckled their seatbelts for the trip to St. Thomas. He reached toward the priest to shake his hand. “Father, take care of our little girl. We’ll be in touch.”
“Aw, oui. I always do. Have a safe trip.” He moved toward the driver’s door as Brian grabbed both suitcases. Andrea turned her back to enter the airport. Brian waved as he followed.
He watched her stiff back as Andrea made her way through the crowds to the door leading to the tarmac. I guess she’s angry with me. Oh well. If she thinks I’m going to give up on her, she’s mistaken. “Andrea don’t walk so fast. It’s hard to keep up in this crowd.”
“Oh. Oh sorry. I guess I was thinking about something else. Brian I’m so sorry. I know I…”
“Let’s talk once we’re on the plane.” He moved to stand beside her. Her eyes had tears in them. “Andrea, it’s okay. I’m not angry with you. I know I promised to wait but…let’s talk on the plane, okay?” He started to walk again, making sure Andrea was close behind.
People of all different shapes and colors hurried this way and that, some caring crying children while others waved tickets in their hands. Most were smiling, the anticipation of a trip on their minds. Colorful garb could be seen everywhere, all with a tropical flavor. Brian looked at Andrea’s black pants and white shirt. “We’re going to have to get some lighter weight clothes. I’m already sweating with these clothes on and I know you have some more tropical prints in this bag of yours.”
“I do. Remember that shopping spree in Haiti. I wonder if any of those buildings are still standing in Port Au Prince. I hate to think of the hotel in ruins. We never even got a chance to ask Father Bertrand much about what happened at the orphanage as a result of that earthquake. It seems so close to the epicenter.”
Brian glanced toward the door and steered Andrea through another group of tourists. “We won’t have time to find out anything now but maybe when we get back we can volunteer our help for a couple of days. I’m sure they could use all the help they can get. The news reports aren’t good.”
“There’s our plane.” Andrea pointed to the Beech King Air 300 idling on the runway approach. Brian walked briskly toward it. He waved toward the pilot who had brought them to the Dominican Republic in the first place. Humidity was heavy in the air making their fast pace an effort. Brian was breathing deeply when he arrived at the plane’s side. “Hi Ben. Ready for another trip across the ocean?”
“That’s what I get paid for. Here let me stow those for you.” He reached for the two pieces of luggage and lifted them aboard the plane. Brian followed him up the short flight of stairs with Andrea close behind.
The plane had seats for about eight passengers but today there were just the two of them. Andrea took a seat close to the center of the small aircraft, just over the wings. “How’s this?” She looked toward Brian.
“That’s fine but you won’t be able to see anything. Why not come close to the front. We’ll be able to see the beauty of the Caribbean waters and even maybe some fish…large ones anyway.”
“Fish? How low are we going to fly?”
Brian placed his jacket in the overhead bin. “I’m not sure. I’ll ask. Maybe seeing some fish would be a little exaggerated but you never know.”
Ben walked through the door just then. He sauntered down the aisle in his usual crouch toward the cockpit. “You would like to see fish, eh? Well, that can be arranged. No one else to object if I fly a little lower, eh?”
“Get your camera ready Andrea. We might as well enjoy our time in the air.”
“Oh, I don’t know. Is that safe?” She looked toward Ben as she sat down in the seat Brian had selected in front of the wings. “I don’t want to be another flight casualty.”
“What…don’t wanna be marooned with me on a dessert island?” Brian chuckled and then frowned as he remembered the need for that conversation with Andrea. “Sorry. I’ll keep quiet about that. Let’s get ready for our flight. Fasten your seat belts everyone. Oh, that’s right. Just us.”
Brian headed toward the cockpit. “By the way, Ben, how long will it take to get to St. Thomas?”
Ben had already put on his headset so he slid one side off his ear. “What was that?”
“How long before we reach St. Thomas?”
“Oh, well…it depends on the weather but should not take too long. Maybe a couple of hours at the most. Maybe sooner. Not long.” Ben continued to push buttons as he did his pre-flight check and talked at the same time. Brian wondered whether he was missing something.
He left the cockpit and returned to sit beside Andrea. “Ben says it won’t take long to get to Charlotte Amalie…”
“Charlotte Amalie? I thought we were going to St. Thomas?”
“We are. Charlotte Amalie is the city, St. Thomas is the island. Anyway, Ben was a little vague about the time of our arrival.” He buckled his seatbelt. “We know he got us here safely so we shouldn’t have anything to worry about but let’s pray.”
Andrea bowed her head as Brian began to voice his concern to the Lord. “Father, we know you know all about this plane and its pilot. You also know that Troy needs us so please give us a good flight and keep the plane safe. Amen.”
“Yes, Lord. I too ask for a safe flight. I also ask that you prepare the hearts of the agents we’ll have to deal with. Let them allow us to investigate for Troy’s sake. Amen.” Andrea opened her eyes to look at Brian who smiled his agreement. They sat back in their seats at almost the same time.
Brian reached for Andrea’s hand as the plane began to taxi down the runway. He looked out the window to watch the aircraft leave the ground. Andrea’s hand squeezed his so he felt that the time was right for the conversation they needed to have. “Andrea…”
“Brian, I am so sorry. I know I hurt you and I don’t ever want to do that. I think maybe…well…I just want to be sure about us. I want us to have a marriage like Trent and Diane’s and I’m not sure we have that kind of relationship yet.”
“Andrea. There are no guarantees with any relationship but Trent and Diane have one based on the right foundation…God. We are both believers too so any relationship would have to include the Lord. Our working relationship has always had the Lord in the center. Why not our marriage?”
“I guess.” She tossed her head and looked toward the window. Her gaze shifted to look at Brian. “But does God want us to be a couple? I mean…”
“Andrea, I know you want to be sure. Why don’t we put out a fleece? If God wants us to be a family…with Camilla…then the adoption will be possible with little strings attached. Okay? We’ll pray about this. Okay?” Brian looked with hope clearly evident in his eyes.
Andrea’s eyes held the shimmer of tears. “I’m just so scared, Brian. So many marriages end in divorce. What if…”
“Andrea, that will not be a word that is part of our vocabulary. Ever. Understand? We’ll have arguments but we’ll handle them as God wants us to do, not as the world does. Capeche?” Brian leaned closer to accent his words.
Andrea hesitated for another second. “Okay. Let’s put out that fleece.”
Brian’s eyes now shimmered with unshed tears. “You’re going to make me into a sissy man.” He bowed his head again. “I love you so much. Lord, you know that Andrea and I want to make sure You bless our union and we want to make sure that we should be married. So Father, if that’s what You want, please erase any obstacles from our intentions to adopt Camilla. Even as single people. Father, we trust You with our lives and want to make sure You are part of this decision. Thank You Lord. Amen”
“And amen from me too Lord.” Andrea’s face glistened as a few tears escaped and ran unchecked down her face. Brian reached across the armrest to kiss her cheek. She turned her face quickly and the kiss landed on her lips.
Brian chuckled. “Now that’s the decisive woman I love.” He slipped his hand over hers again and they relaxed against the seats to enjoy the rest of their flight.
The plane took them over water that looked as pristine as any they’d ever seen. As promised, Ben flew almost low enough, Andrea felt, to touch the water. They saw sting-ray, sharks, and other larger fish that neither of them could identify. Sea gulls were in abundance and the occasional pelican dove for its share of the bounty in the sea.
Smaller islands came into view every now and again but the lighter blue, shallow seawater that surrounded those land masses always made way for the darker blue of the ocean depths. Some of the islands they passed had turtles basking in the sunshine. Once in a while a porpoise would break the surface, its curiosity evident as the plane skimmed the surface of its habitat.
The trip ended almost before the two detectives noticed they were in flight. Neither felt that they’d seen all they wanted to. Brian spoke for the first time since they noticed their landing gear come down. “We’ll have to take a cruise one of these days. I thought we were going to do that this time but…”
“…Troy comes first. I know.” Andrea looked out the window as the plane taxied to a stop just outside the air terminal in Charlotte Amalie. Palm trees swayed their welcome in the bright sunshine. Borders of flowering plants grew between the tall leafy palms with an occasional Frangipani tree dancing in the breeze. Andrea sighed. God’s beauty is overwhelming sometimes. Her gaze became hypnotic as she continued to stare through the tiny pane of glass.
“Andrea. You coming?” Brian’s impatient tone disturbed her reverie.
Andrea started. “Oh. Oh sure. Have you ever seen so much beauty in one place?”
Brian chuckled. “Andrea, you said the same thing when we landed in Haiti. I am beginning to think that we should have opened the agency in the Caribbean. Then you could enjoy the trees and flowers every day. Come on. Let’s get off this plane so we can see more beautiful scenery…not just what we can see from a window.”
“I guess standing in the open would give me more to look at. I just love all the color here. As far as opening an agency here…maybe we should. A second one, of course, one that we could visit a couple of times a year at least.” Andrea grabbed her suitcase from the overhead rack and brushed past Brian.
Brian quickly grabbed his and followed. “Hey, what’s the hurry?” He chased her down the short aisle and out into the warm humidity. “Phew. That felt like walking into a wall. It’s almost hard to breathe.” He took the short stairs toward the tarmac.
Andrea was already on terra firma, turning her body this way and that with wonder written all over her face. “How can anyone stand to leave this place?”
“Well. We’re going to have to leave too so don’t get used to this. Besides, it’s too humid.” Brian wiped his hand across his brow. “I’m already sweating.”
“Complain, complain. Let’s go find that FBI person.” Andrea led the way toward the terminal. “I guess we’ll have to go through customs again.”
Brian walked beside her, swiping his brow periodically to keep the moisture at a minimum. “I’m sure we’ll discover that the FBI has little evidence to prove that Troy murdered anyone. What do they do with the body when that happens aboard a ship I wonder?”
“I guess we’ll find out. If the FBI will be forthcoming with us, that is. They may not tell us anything.” Andrea looked toward Brian in an attempt to remind him to keep quiet as she placed her luggage on the conveyor for the customs agents to scan the contents. She also gave them her handbag and they sent it through the x-ray machine as well.
Brian followed her lead, their conversation halted until they were out of earshot of the immigration officials. The two uniformed men looked at their passports as they watched the monitor to see if anything suspicious could be detected. They then directed Andrea first, and then Brian to walk through the metal detector. When they handed the passports back, the two friends knew they were clear to go.
“Wow, tough security. I wonder if they’re looking for anything in particular.” Andrea skipped a step or two to keep up with Brian’s long legs. “Do we have an address for the police station? I’m assuming the FBI doesn’t have any offices here.”
Brian took the slip of paper Father Bertrand had given him out of his pocket. “It says here that they are located at 8172 Subbase Street. Let’s see if there’s a taxi.”
He opened the door to the terminal and walked into the curtain of heat he’d observed on his way in. “Boy, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this humidity.” He waved his hand toward a red car that had a taxi sign on its roof. The driver got out, opened the door to the back seat and took their bags around the back of the vehicle to the trunk.
Brian ushered Andrea inside first and then sat down beside her. The car was already running and the air conditioner was blowing cold air. “Thank goodness for air conditioning.”
Andrea giggled. “How are you going to survive if we open an office in the Caribbean?”
“Car to office…office to car…that’s how.”
The driver sat down in the front seat. “My name is Pasquale. I’m de only black Italian on de island. Where you goin’ to?”
“We need to get to 8172 Subbase and then probably to a hotel. Can you recommend one? Make sure it has air conditioning or Brian will melt.” Andrea giggled again. She ducked as Brian took a swing in her direction.
“Dat be de police station. I know where tis.” Pasquale maneuvered the car into traffic. The streets were very narrow and there seemed to be no space for parking although some cars were parked along the side of the street anyway. He drove fast, sometimes faster than Andrea or Brian was comfortable with. They clung to the handles dangling from the roof of the car.
Brian decided to ask a few questions about the city they were motoring through. “I guess this city sees a lot of tourists.”
“Dey do. I have tree tourist taxis dat will hold almost thirty people each so I take dem all over de island. Dat’s how I make my living. Tourists come in on de big ships every day so dere is always some to take places. Like you. But no one ever asks to go to de police station before.” Pasquale continued to drive, zigzagging around people and cars as well as some of the larger taxi’s he talked about. Colorful plants zipped by the window.
Andrea was quick to ask about some of them. “Do you have to plant these flowering shrubs here or do they grow naturally?”
“Some we plant to make dem grow where we want dem but dey grow easy here.” Pasquale honked his horn at a pedestrian trying to cross the street. “If you have time, I show you lots of beautiful places. Maybe later, you want to take a tour of de island.”
“We’ll have to see.” Brian sat back in his seat, relaxing for the first time. “I think Pasquale knows what he’s doing.” He whispered to Andrea.
Just as he spoke, the taxi came to an abrupt halt. “We are here. You want I should wait for you?”
“Yes, that’ll work. I don’t know how long we’ll be but…” Andrea scooted over toward the door Brian was holding open for her. “Think about a good hotel. That’ll be next.”
As the couple stood on the narrow sidewalk, balmy breezes blew the flag that hung over the doorway leading into the building. Brian took Andrea’s arm and they walked into the cool interior. The building was made of cement blocks that had been painted a pastel blue color. Uniformed police officers came and went through the same doors that they had entered.
Brian approached one of the officers seated at a desk near the doorway. “I’d like to speak to Agent Pleshier with the FBI, please. He’s expecting us.”
“Who do I say you are?” The officer looked none too friendly as he peered over his reading glasses.
Andrea remained silent as Brian answered the man’s question. “I’m Brian Strait and she is Andrea Wilton.”
The police officer stood. “Okay den. I tell dem you are here.” He waddled toward the back of the room, his rotund frame sending papers in all directions as he passed desks along the way.
“Watch it Nelson.” Someone yelled in his direction.
Nelson opened a door and walked through. A few seconds later he returned and motioned for them to follow.
Andrea was careful not to walk too close to the desks of the other officers. As she led the way, eyes lifted, curiosity clearly stamped on the features of the officers nearby. Nelson led them to another room, not as large as the room they had just walked through. Several plain clothes policemen were seated around a conference table. Paperwork was strewn everywhere.
One man stood. He held his hand toward Andrea and Brian. “I’m Pleshier. You’re here about the Troy Dupuiz case.” He shook both their hands and then motioned toward a couple of chairs near the end of the table. “Have a seat.”
Brian ushered Andrea toward a chair and then took one adjacent to hers. He looked toward Pleshier. “Where is Troy? We’d like to see him.”
“Wow. Slow down a little. First tell me how you know the man?” Pleshier stood and walked toward a large white board that held several photos. Andrea winced when she saw the blood and the face of a man, clearly dead.
She focused on the agent’s face. “He’s hardly a man.”
“In this case, and for the courts, he’s a man…and will be tried as a man. He brutalized…”
“You don’t know that. What proof do you have that Troy…?” Andrea sat stiffly, her hands folded in her lap. She reached for her purse.
Agent Pleshier spoke sternly in her direction. “First you will answer my question. How do you know this…er…boy?”
Brian stood beside his chair. “Troy is a friend of ours who worked and lived at an orphanage that we’ve come to care about in the Dominican Republic. His mentor, and the director of the orphanage, Father Bertrand, asked us to look into this for him. He cares deeply for the boy and knows, as do we, that there is no way he could have killed anyone. We…”
“So, you think you know better than we…” Agent Pleshier’s face had turned a little red. “I am a veteran of the bureau so I think I know better how to read a crime scene.”
Andrea sat straighter in her chair. “Brian and I are licensed detectives. We worked a case toward the end of last year with the FBI to find some abducted Americans on Haitian soil. We also solved a large drug case where one of the participants was murdered and a DEA agent was involved. We’re not amateurs.”
“Troy is a sweet kid.” Brian interjected. “We just want to find who really killed the man.” He pointed to the photo on the white board. “Now can we see Troy?”
“First, let’s go over the evidence. Your boy stowed away on an American cruise line, one that has the strictest security. Obviously he had help. Anyhow, we figure that when this man…,” He pointed to the same picture. “…found him and threatened to turn him in, Dupuiz killed him. He was living in the same place on the ship where Bonet was. That’s the name of the victim. He was from Thailand. Had a wife and six small children who depended on him. Your boy sliced him up good.”
“Troy wouldn’t do that. Can we see him…please? He’s probably scared out of his wits and needs to know someone believes in him.” Andrea stood, crossed her arms again, and stared in the direction of the agent. Several officers cleared their throats.
“Come with me.” Pleshier led the way toward a back stairway that led down to a lower level. The dampness crept over their skin as they descended into the earthen recesses where the jail cells were obviously housed. Groans came from several cells but Pleshier stopped at one that held a small bundle of rags or so it appeared to the two Americans. The bundle moved.
“Troy. Troy Dupuiz?” Brian’s voice quivered with emotion as his eyes focused on the bruises and contusions evident on the young man’s body. “What have you done to him?”
“He was like that when we boarded the ship. Some of the stewards didn’t like what he did, I think.” Agent Pleshier’s eyes were downcast. He seemed almost contrite.
“Open the door. Get a doctor in here. This is reprehensible.” Brian grabbed the bar as he watched Troy’s efforts to sit at the side of the low cot. The boy was clearly in a lot of pain.
“Monsieur Brian.” His weak voice rose slightly. “I pray. I hope that someone come. I did not…”
“We know, Troy.” Andrea reached toward him, wanting to envelope him in her arms to shield him from the brutality she saw all over his body. He looked like there was not an inch that someone had left alone. She moved to follow as the jail cell door clanged open and Brian walked through.
“We want to see a doctor…now…or the State Department will receive a very angry phone call. Troy may not be American but he is just a boy and to be treated this…” Brian hunkered down in front of Troy. He placed a tender hand along his face. “Troy, we’ll let the doctor treat your wounds first and then we’ll talk.”
“Oui monsieur. I ‘urt all over. Dey beat me…to tell them I did this thing but all I do is steal a ride to America. Nothing else. Nothing…” He fell over sideways on the cot. His energy spent, it seemed.
Brian patted his back and then stood to face the agent. Pleshier was talking into his cell phone. Brian listened as the man ordered a doctor to be brought to the cell right away. When he disconnected the call, he looked toward Brian and shrugged. Brian scowled and then shook his head.
Tears streamed down Andrea’s cheeks as she looked at the battered body of the boy who had helped them rescue Camilla from the streets of Port Au Prince. He’d been such a vibrant young man who only wanted to get the kids he could off the streets and into a safe place. No way could that boy have done what they’d accused him of.
“Brian, we need to get him to a hospital.” She looked toward Pleshier. “How could you have put him here in this condition?”
“He was here when I arrived. I was told he’d been beaten but I didn’t know how badly. This is the first time I’ve seen him.” Pleshier hung his head in apparent remorse.
“How long ago was that? We were under the impression that he’d been taken into custody last night when the ship arrived in port.” Brian placed his hands on his hips trying to keep his anger in check. “No one has seen him since then?”
“I thought…I mean…I understood that one of the police officers had brought him some breakfast this morning but…I guess I don’t know for sure. Life is not so precious to these islanders, I think.” Agent Pleshier shivered. “It is really cold down here in comparison to the station offices isn’t it? I’ll have the boy transferred to the hospital as soon as the doctor gives the okay.” Footsteps could be heard approaching from the stairwell.
“What is the problem?” A small black man wearing typical island clothes rounded the corner. He smiled when he saw the trio but then looked toward the body in the cell. “Not again.” He moved into the cell and began at once to examine the tattered bundle of cuts and bruises. “This boy needs stitches and more than I can do ‘ere. He needs to go to de ‘ospital…now.” He looked towards the three standing outside the bars. “Who’s in charge?”
Agent Pleshier lifted his hand tentatively. “I guess I am. We’ll take him to the hospital. He’ll need a guard twenty four seven though.”
“Of course. Of course.” The doctor began to put away the few instruments he’d taken out of his bag. “Who are you people? Did you do this?”
Andrea sputtered at the man’s sanctimonious attitude. “We’re his friends.” She pointed toward Troy. “We came to help him and we don’t know who did this to him but we intend to find out.”
“Good. He looks like he needs a friend.” The doctor picked Troy up as if he weighed next to nothing. “Come we go now.”
They followed the small man toward the stairwell. “I could carry him.” Brian reached toward Troy as the doctor moved through the doorway toward the one flight of stairs.
“No need.” The doctor walked up the stairs as if his weight was the only one he carried.
Brian looked towards Andrea, his brows raised in surprise at the man’s strength. He lifted his arm to make a muscle while he watched the doctor ahead of him.
Andrea stifled a smirk. She reached to punch Brian’s arm just as the doctor reached the top of the staircase. She turned towards Agent Pleshier. “What’s his name?” she whispered.
“That’s Doctor Bemier. He has a good reputation.” The agent followed Brian and Andrea through the door into the squad room they had left such a short time before.
Brian scowled at the police officers still seated around the conference table. He shook his head and then without saying anything that could stop the doctor from taking Troy to the hospital, he followed him out the front door with Andrea close behind.
“We’ll be back.” She called over her shoulder. “Someone did this to him and…”
“Andrea, come on.” Brian pulled her after him. She skipped to keep up to his long strides. “We don’t want to make them mad…not yet.”